The most soothing voice I’d ever heard was whispering to me. I couldn’t real y understand what it was saying, but it didn’t matter. It was the tone, the familiar rumbly hoarseness of it that was pushing back the icy fingers of panic.
As the vise grip of terror loosened its hold on me, rational thought flitted through the dead space of my mind. It came in the form of memories, a cascade of random recol ections that dropped in and out of my head like tiny bouncing rubber bal s. In and out. In and out.
The first time I saw Bo.
The first time he kissed me.
Mmm. You taste like candy, like strawberries and sugar.
The night I saw Bo covered in blood.
The night I found out he was a vampire. The night I found out he was dying. The heartache of losing him. The elation of having him back. Bo, the boy who can’t be kil ed. Bo, the son of the angels. Constantine, the first vampire.
Constantine, a fal en angel. Constantine masquerading as Sebastian. Sebastian, Bo’s father. Sebastian, kidnapper of my dead sister’s baby. Sebastian, lover of Heather, the vampire who infected me.
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
One by one, they fel into my consciousness, only to be quickly replaced by another memory until one final thought dropped in like a bomb and exploded inside my head, erasing everything else. It was the same thought that had sent me spiraling into a panic attack.
I’m a vampire.
I could feel it starting al over again, the panic—the breath coming too fast, the fear clutching at my chest, the tears stinging my eyes, the strange sensation that I was doomed.
But then I heard the voice again, cutting through the darkness, slicing through the fright like a smooth blade of light.
It was Bo.
“Just take deep breaths,” he whispered, his breath cooling the damp hair at my temples. “Listen to my heart beat.
Focus on me, baby. Focus on me.”
Slowly, my muscles began to relax. It was surprisingly easy to do as he instructed. As always, my world and everything in it seemed to center around Bo, to revolve around his very existence.
Thump thump. Thump thump. I listened to the reassuring sound and felt myself calming more and more as the seconds ticked by.
“That’s it, Ridley. You’re ok. You’re alright. I’ve got you,”
he breathed, his voice a throaty croak. I felt as wel as heard the feathery brush of his fingertips against the skin of my cheek. It made a fine rasping sound and my stomach twisted into a knot of pleasure.
Thump thump swish. Thump thump swish. Behind the steady beat I could hear a faint rushing sound, like water through a pipe. It waxed and waned with each squeeze of Bo’s heart.
Without opening my eyes, I raised my hand to the warm chest against which I rested. I could feel the vibrations of the throbbing tempo against my sensitive palm. In silent wonder, I tracked each pulse as it rippled up my arm and into my chest, where it pounded as if it were inside me, too.
At first I was flooded with peace, the peace that came only from Bo—from his presence, from his love. I inhaled deeply, ready to sigh in relief. But with the intake of breath another of my senses came online.
Scents from al around me penetrated the fuzz of my addled brain and the lights of recognition blinked on like a computer screen flickering to life. An oh-so-familiar tangy scent—clean and citrusy—bombarded my body with a gush of desire.
My sigh of relief became a quiet gasp as my bones melted in the heat of what was between us. I knew Bo felt it, too. I could hear it in the quickening of his breath. I could feel it in the stil ness of his lips against my temple. I could smel it in the musky sweetness that rushed to the surface of his skin and permeated the air around me.
My nerves thrummed with excitement. I’d never smel ed desire before, but somehow, instinctively, I knew that’s what it was. It was there in the tightening of my stomach. It was there in the heaviness of my br**sts. It was there in the way my flesh seemed to ache for Bo’s touch. I squirmed in his arms until, blindly, my lips found his.
There was urgency in our kiss. With teeth and tongues, we devoured each other, both possessed of a hunger that defied logic and description. It was desperate, it was powerful. It was al -consuming.
In my greed for Bo, in my eagerness to taste him and bring some smal part of him into myself, I nicked his lip with my teeth. One tiny drop of blood oozed onto my tongue. I felt it like a hot crimson tear just before it burst into a shower of taste and sensation, igniting my already-fiery blood.
Bo’s fingers worked their way into my hair and fisted, tugging on my scalp and sending a fine spray of chil s down my back. I couldn’t stop the purr of pure pleasure that hummed in the back of my throat. I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway. It seemed to push Bo into a frenzy. His hands left my hair to wander down my body until they were clutching my hips tightly, squeezing them as he clung fiercely to his control.
Wrenching his lips from mine, Bo pul ed back, his breathing heavy and labored. Reluctantly, I raised my eyelids and met his smoldering gaze. It was like a silky pool of dark chocolate that threatened to suck me into sweet oblivion.
I watched him for several minutes, both of us panting, both of us trying to rein in our tempestuous passions before we lost ourselves to the moment. As the raging inferno of our desire gave way to the cool calm of reality, other sensations began to creep in—new sensations, strange sensations.
The fires of sensual hunger became a blazing heat of a different kind. It burned in my chest and in my stomach, hotter than lava and moving twice as fast. Every inch of my skin seemed to be scalded with an icy heat that made no sense at al . It was like being so cold I was on fire. And my throat—I’d never been so thirsty, so painful y thirsty in al my life. I knew that only one thing would quench it, a taste that stil lingered in the dark recesses of my mouth.
My eyes drifted to the tiny tick of the pulse in Bo’s neck and the rest of the world turned off. My entire being zeroed in on him, but not in the usual way. I was surrounded by the beat of his heart and the swish of his blood. I felt it tickle my lips and tease my fingertips. I felt it swal ow my mind and swirl in my gut—a need so beautiful, yet so dangerous.
Razors of agony slashed at me, scraped at my brain and my nerves like something dark and beastly trying to claw its way out. I felt violence swel within me, a craving so intense that I knew I had to have what I wanted, even if I had to kil for it.