ENCHANT THE NIGHT
Quill strolled through the night, a tall, dark-haired man shrouded in a long, black cloak, unnoticed by passersby. Mortals, he thought, so oblivious to the danger that stalked among them like a lion among lambs.
Times changed. Centuries rolled on. The old myths and legends lost their power. He had seen the rise and fall of nations and kings. But he remained forever the same, a solitary creature with no hope of forgiveness in this life or the next. He had traveled the world from one end to the other. Made love to many women – but loved none of them. They had provided fleeting moments of passion in a long line of conquests. Feeding his lust as their blood fed his hunger.
He had long ago accepted that he would be forever damned. With that acceptance came a measure of peace. He had not chosen this life, but bemoaning what he had become, what he had to do to survive, accomplished nothing.
All things considered, it wasn't a bad life. His needs were few and easily met. Still, after the first few hundred years, there had been times when he'd grown weary of his solitary existence. At those times, he had gone to ground seeking relief and rose refreshed to a new generation filled with technology unlike any he had known before.
And he reveled in it. No one believed in his kind any more. Hiding from the world was, in some ways, easier than ever. There were so many other monsters roaming the planet – remorseless gangs that preyed upon the weak, drug dealers who sold death in pretty pills to children, politicians who betrayed their country for cash.
All thought of the past faded as his gaze settled on a young woman emerging from the shop in front of him. She was petite and comely. A cloud of golden brown hair fell over her shoulders and down her back in a riot of waves. She radiated youth and vitality as she hurried down the street, her stiletto heels clicking on the sidewalk.
Increasing his stride, he moved up beside her and took her arm. A few quiet words calmed her fears as he led her into a shadowy alley between two large buildings. She stared at him blankly, her deep green eyes unblinking, her lips slightly parted as he caressed her cheek.
He had intended to drink deeply, but something in her eyes changed his mind. Muttering an oath, he drew her into his embrace and satisfied his most basic need.
Feeling as if she was wandering in a fog, Callie walked to her car and drove home. Plagued by an overwhelming thirst, she hurried into the kitchen and filled a glass with water. When that didn't satisfy her, she gulped down a can of root beer. It helped but only a little. Tossing the empty container into the trash, she wondered why she was so thirsty. And why the side of her neck tingled. And why she couldn't remember what had happened between the time she left Sally's Boutique and slid behind the wheel of her baby blue VW.
Brow furrowed, she padded into the living room and sank down on the sofa, a throw pillow clutched to her chest as she tried to remember that missing half-hour. Was she losing her mind? Developing Alzheimer's? Suffered a stroke? She had never experienced any memory loss before. At least she didn't think she had. But how was she to know? Feeling suddenly tense, she went into the bathroom and filled the tub, thinking a warm bath might help relax her.
Submerged to her shoulders in lavender-scented bubbles, she closed her eyes…
A tall man in black. Deep, dark eyes that captured hers. Strong arms holding her close. A faint prick in the side of her neck. A sudden sense of warmth that permeated her whole being….
Calli bolted upright with a start, water sloshing over the sides of the tub as she glanced around
the room, her eyes wide as the memory of what had happened last night flooded her mind.
The man had bitten her!
On the other side of the city, Quill's head snapped up as the woman he had preyed upon earlier woke to the realization of what had happened to her in the alley. How was that even possible? He had wiped the memory from her mind. He frowned into the darkness. No one had ever resisted his compulsion to forget. How had this female managed to do so?
Rising, he paced the floor of his lair as he considered his options. There were really only two. He could drain her dry or he could wipe the recollection from her mind again and hope this time the memory stayed submerged.
Killing her was the best solution. He hadn't existed this long by being careless. Not only would it solve his problem, but it would allow him to taste her again, something he had been desperately wanting to do since the first crimson drop had slid over his tongue.
It had been decades since he had taken a human life to preserve his own existence. But sometimes, like now, it was necessary.
Tomorrow night, he would seek her out and do what had to be done.
He rose with the setting of the sun. Showered and dressed, then left his lair. Opening his senses, he pinpointed the scent of the woman and followed it to a small, single-story house on a narrow street. Veiling himself in shadow, he settled down to wait.
Hours passed. Like all predators, he had the patience of Job.
Focusing on the house, he heard the woman moving from room to room, smelled the fried chicken she had for dinner, heard the voice of a local news anchor as he reported the events of the day. At eight, she switched to a movie channel. At ten, she fixed a cup of hot chocolate. Shortly thereafter, she bathed and went to bed.
Thwarted, Quill stared at the front door. He was the most powerful creature on earth, yet something as flimsy as a threshold had the power to repel him.
Cursing softly, he willed himself to the next town in search of prey.
The woman had been lucky tonight, he mused. But, sooner or later, she would have to leave the safety of her home. And when she did, he would be waiting.