Authors: Christine Feehan
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Fiction
Table of Contents
Titles by Christine Feehan
OCEANS OF FIRE
(with Fiona Brand, Katherine Sutcliffe, and Eileen Wilks)
(with Emma Holly, Sabrina Jeffries, and Elda Minger)
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2009 by Christine Feehan.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
eISBN : 978-1-101-13610-2
1. Vampires—Fiction. 2. Immortalism—Fiction. I. Title.
To Christopher Walker,
who, according to Domini,
is not as Zen as Razvan, but I disagree.
FOR MY READERS
Be sure to go to
to sign up for my PRIVATE book announcement list and download the FREE e-book of
. Please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] I would love to hear from you.
I have so many people to thank for their invaluable help with this book:
Anita Toste, my sister, who writes poetry and always answers the call when I run out of rhymes and ideas for spells!
Dr. Christopher Tong, who is incredibly intelligent and can do just about anything. Did I say “just about”? I meant
. Thank you so much for always,
being there no matter how busy you are. You are truly a gifted man and an amazing friend.
Cheryl Wilson, my dear friend, who came through just when I was in my darkest hour.
Domini Stottsberry, Kathie Frizlaff and Brian Feehan, who worked so hard to make this book the best it could be in every respect.
For Lisset and Jack, who gave me something precious beyond measure for this book. In loving, beautiful memory . . .
The mage walks forth as the Hell Gate closes
Lightning strikes with his first order
Energy spirals from his fingertips
A spell does form upon his lips
Tall and dark, handsomely slender
His silver eyes burn like lighted embers
A power, a presence one cannot explain
A drawing feeling that will not leave the brain
A longing, a yearning that burns like fire
To be wanted and taken with heated desire
The mage walks forth, unfolding his arms
His victim comes quietly, succumbed by his charms
The embers of passion burst forth in flame
As the mage draws heart’s blood from deep within
Consuming all, leaving no remains
The victim languishes in untold pain
The mage, having taken body and soul,
Now turns from the broken to seek one who is whole
The pattern is set, the ending the same
The mage needs heart’s blood to be whole and remain
wirling mist veiled the mountains and crept into the deep forest, stringing layers of white through the snow-laden trees. Pockets of deep snow hid life beneath the cap of ice crystals and along the banks of the stream. Shrubs and fields of grass rose like statues, frozen in time. The snow gave the world a bluish cast. The forest, where icicles hung, and the stream, with its water frozen in bizarre shapes, seemed an eerie, alien world.
Clear, crisp and cold, the night sky shone bright with stars, and a full, glowing moon spilled a silvery light over the frozen ground. Silent shadows slipped through the trees and ice-coated bushes, moving with absolute stealth. Large paws made tracks in the snow, a good six inches in diameter, single file, the trail winding in and out through the trees and thick shrubbery.
Although they looked in good health, strong with steel muscles rippling beneath thick fur, the wolves were hungry and needed food to keep the pack alive through the long, brutal winter. The alpha suddenly stopped, going very still, sniffing the trail around him, lifting his nose to scent the wind. The others halted, wraiths only, silent shadows that immediately fanned out. The alpha moved forward, staying downwind while the others sank low, waiting.
A yard away, a large piece of raw meat lay on the trail, fresh, the scent wafting temptingly back toward the wolf. Wary, he circled, using his nose to detect potential danger. Scenting nothing but the meat, with his saliva running and his belly empty, he approached again, going downwind, angling toward the large piece of lifesaving food. He went in three times and backed away, but no hint of danger presented itself. He nosed in a fourth time and something slipped over his neck.
The alpha leapt back and the wire tightened. The more he struggled, the more the wire cut into him, strangling the air from his lungs and sawing through flesh. The pack circled, pacing, his female rushing to aid him. She began to struggle as another wire snared her neck, nearly knocking her off her feet.
For a moment there was a hush, broken only by the gasping breaths of the two trapped wolves. A twig snapped. The pack whirled and dissolved in a rush of fleeing shadows, back into the thicker cover of the trees. The bushes parted and a woman stepped into the open. She was dressed in black winter boots, black pants that rode low on her hips and a sleeveless vest of black that left her midriff bare and had three sets of steel buckles running down the middle of it. The six buckles were shiny, almost ornamental, with tiny crosses running up and around, embedded in the squared silver pieces.
A wealth of blue-black hair spilled beyond her waist, pulled back in a thick woven braid. The long hooded coat she wore, made of what appeared to be a single silver-tipped wolf pelt, fell all the way to her ankles. She carried a crossbow in one hand, a sword at one hip and a knife at the other. Arrows were slung in a quiver on her shoulder and all down the inside of the long wolf skin were small loops containing various sharp-bladed weapons. A low-slung holster adorned with rows of very small, flat, razor-sharp arrowheads housed a pistol on her hip.
She paused for a moment, surveying the scene. “Be still,” she hissed, both annoyance and authority in her soft voice.
At her command, both wolves ceased struggling instantly, waiting, bodies trembling, sides heaving and heads held low to ease the terrible pressure closing around their throats. The woman moved with fluid grace, flowing over the surface rather than sinking into the ice-crusted snow. She studied the snares, a multitude of them, disgust in her dark eyes.
“They have done this before,” she scolded. “I showed them to you, but you were too greedy, looking for an easy meal. I should let you die here in agony.” Even as she rebuked the wolves, she withdrew a pair of utility cutters from inside the wolf pelt and snipped the wires, freeing the wolves. She pushed her fingers into their fur and over the cuts deep in their throats, then clamped her palm over the slashes, chanting softly. White light burst under her hand, glowing around and through the wolves’ fur.