The following excerpt features Sebastian Lamarliere, former prisoner of the goddess Athena, dealing with the consequences/aftermath of his time in captivity:


Thirst stabbed him in the gut. It was a tight, twisting pain, a cold burn that stole his breath and seared his insides. The soft glow of the street lamps blended with the neon from store front windows. Tourists and locals walked the car-less French Quarter street, their voices mingling with music and conversation from bars and restaurants.

Those tourists, those few hundred who’d been granted entrance to the quarter for Mardi Gras season, had no idea what walked among them. If they knew their blood called to him, sang to him, a lure so strong and tempting . . . they never would have set foot past the Rim. 

The dark street scene in front of him blurred. He veered off the sidewalk and met with a heavy iron gate. The brick tunnel beyond the bars loomed black, but in the distance glowed an arched view of a dimly lit courtyard.

Dizziness made his view tilt. Just a small tilt, but enough to make him stumble as the hinges whined and the gate gave way. He fell inside, his knees and palms hitting hard against the brick pavers. The Voodoo dolls and offerings tied to the gate’s bars fell all around him.

Tiny bodies. All around.

He laughed.

Bodies littered in his wake. That’s what he was. Pure destruction.

He’d thought he was a freak before, being the child of a vampire and a warlock, but now the joke was on him. And the universe was a twisted bitch for sure.

Using the brick wall for support, he rose on shaky legs and stumbled into the courtyard. A sick, clammy sweat covered his skin. He knew he couldn’t control himself, knew if anyone crossed his path now, he’d kill them, suck them so dry they’d wither where they stood. He wouldn’t care who it was; it didn’t matter. It’d taste so good.

Tears rimmed his eyes and wet his lashes.

His body gave out and he fell. With effort, he rolled onto his back. The massive gray house loomed over him. It was the only place he could go, the only place where those he cared about would never, ever see him like this.

His muscles finally relaxed and his eyelids slid closed. He’d made it. They wouldn’t see him. And more importantly, the monster inside him wouldn’t see them...

The tap, tap, tap of heels on stone woke him.

The soft glow from the old lanterns on the courtyard walls burned his eyes, but then a shadow fell over him and it didn’t hurt anymore.

“Bastian.” The sound of his name on his grandmother’s French-accented lips was so goddamn smug it made him want to throw up all over her five-hundred-dollar shoes. “I knew you’d come.”

He tried to swallow, but couldn’t. “I need—”

“I know what you need, mon cher. I know.”

Hands slipped beneath his arms as two of his grandmother’s servants hauled him upright and dragged him into Arnaud House, the great French Quarter mansion he hated with a passion. God, he really was going to puke. His gut tightened with readiness. He forced down the first retch, biting on his tongue, his teeth sharp and cutting.

Warmth flowed into his mouth.

Oh. God. His heartbeat sped up. So good...

But somewhere in his mind, he knew it was wrong. Knew he was going crazy. Cannibalizing himself. Yeah, he'd finally reached the edge and just fell over into Fucked-up Land.

They stopped moving. His grandmother appeared in front of him, grabbing his chin tightly. “You fool.” She glanced at the servants. “Hurry. Idiot has bitten his tongue.”

Sebastian was dimly aware of barked orders, echoing footsteps, the smell of lemon furniture polish and the roses Josephine always kept in the house.

And then he was in a room, the mattress rising up to meet him as a plastic bag was pressed against his mouth.

The smell slammed him hard. Blood.


Hell yes.

He sat up, grabbed it with both hands, and sank his fangs into the bag as his grandmother snorted in disgust. That first taste and he was lost in violent need. Lost in the taste, in the energy that slid down his throat. Nourishment. Beautiful, perfect . . . food.

He loved it. And despised it.

On and on he drank, one bag after another.

“No more, Bastian.”

The fourth bag was pulled from his hands, empty like the three others before it. He fell back onto the bed, heart pounding, his chest rising and falling with labored breaths. His skin no longer felt clammy, but electric and hot, burning away the haze and filling him with energy and clarity.

His teeth clenched. His eyes stayed closed, but he could feel his grandmother’s gaze boring into him all the same. The last thing he wanted was to look at her. Josephine Arnaud. Head of the Arnaud family. Bloodborn vampire. 

“We are Bloodborn,” she began in a haughty, all-too-familiar tone. “The truest and strongest of the vampire kind. Your father, your friends . . . they have no understanding, no experience in our ways, Bastian. I knew sooner or later, you would come home where you belong. You are Arnaud now. This is always who you were meant to be.”

He’d fought and rebelled against her for ten years, vowing never to become what she was.

And now look at him. 

He never wanted to take blood, to lead this kind of life, to be an Arnaud. But he’d never been given a choice. The goddess Athena had seen to that. She’d forced his first taste of blood upon him and, after, there was no turning back.

But he couldn’t blame Athena for the choices he made now. Tonight, he'd skipped out on Ari and the kids. He wondered how long they’d waited before leaving for the bayou without him.

Guilt turned his blood-high sour.

If his father, Ari, the kids saw him as he was only moments ago... He'd lose them. He’d rather die than show them this side of him, the out of control side, the side that didn’t care. The predator. The killer.

“Bastian.” Josephine wanted his attention while she lectured him.

He let out an annoyed sigh, removed his arm from his face, and glared at her. “Go to hell.” Then he rolled over and gave her his back, knowing, despite how he felt about his grandmother and this place, he’d come back here to feed again and again...

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