There, at first things progress as expected—old school friends and foes, a few ‘frenemies’ and a big surprise from someone that she’d thought she’d known so well. But things take a turn for the decidedly worse when Alexander and her mother are drugged and Alexander is kidnapped by vampire hunters.
Now, Madeline must rely on powers that she’s only just learning to use in her search for Alexander and his captors. New enemies and old conspire to keep them apart. Can she find him before it’s too late?
Madeline jerked awake. A searing pain coursed through her body and she had to bite her lip to keep from crying out. She looked around the darkened hospital room, able to see as though it was the middle of the day. Where was the pain coming from? She stood up and took a step toward the bed, hearing Sharon’s heartbeat as a drum in her ears. Her mother’s blood sang to her, called for her to take her fill. Terrified of herself, Madeline backed away from her mom, looking around for an escape. The pain was still crawling through her body, and it was getting harder to think.
Could she make it out of the hospital, past all the other patients and all the doctors and nurses without losing control? She doubted it. With no other choice left to her, she ran to the window and wrenched it open. She cast one more glance at her mother’s bed then threw herself out into the night. She plummeted six stories to the pavement below, landed hard on her feet and dropped to her knees on the asphalt.
Need. Powerful, overwhelming need. It clawed at her insides and deluged her senses as the bloodlust took control of her. Her fangs burst into her mouth so suddenly that her bottom lip was pierced. She suckled blood from her own flesh, but it did nothing to abate the drive for fresh sustenance. She knew nothing but the desire to hunt. All rational and intelligent thought was driven from her brain as she staggered to her feet. On pure instinct alone, she transformed into a glistening black raven. A few beats of her powerful wings and she soared into the sky, towards the heart of the city.
Red. Everything she saw was red. In human form again, Madeline forced her legs to walk. She wasn’t sure who she was, where she was, or what she was searching for, but she looked. She looked hard at every person she passed, hearing their heartbeats echo in her fevered brain. She saw a young woman, shivering on the street corner, grasping a threadbare jacket closed at her breast. Her garish makeup was streaked down her wet face and Madeline realized it was drizzling. She turned her face up to the rain for a moment, but she craved a different kind of comfort. She looked back at the pitiful prostitute again. The girl’s blood called to her. The girl saw her coming and frowned. “No women,” she spat.
Madeline stopped. Something was wrong with the blood. It was diseased. The girl was dying, and her blood would be bitter. Still, the overwhelming need almost drove Madeline onto her anyway. She could see herself tearing into the girl’s throat, lapping up the precious sustenance, when a young man approached. When he spoke, she heard him distantly, as if through a fog. He grasped her wrist. “If you’re looking for a job, baby, I’ll give you one. In a heartbeat.”
Heartbeat. His strong heartbeat echoed in her head. She grasped his arms and propelled him between the buildings, out of sight, and he laughed eagerly. Then saw her face, the fire in her eyes, the glistening fangs bared at him, and he froze in fear. She pressed him against the wall and attacked, her fangs sliding into the skin at his throat smoothly. She drank deeply but the need still clawed at her. A growl rumbled low in her throat as her fevered brain struggled to understand why she drank and drank and there was no relief.
The young man slumped in Madeline’s arms and she fell to the pavement with him. They splashed into a puddle and the cold water drenched them both. Madeline was shocked out of her stupor and blinked her eyes furiously to clear her vision. Her head pounded and her stomach ached. She looked down at the young pimp lying limply beside her, and she started to shake. Hastily, she felt for a pulse and relief washed over her when she realized he was alive. She slowly got to her feet and leaned on the brick wall. The pain that had been pounding at her was slowly abating as the young man’s blood pulsed through her body, its strength rejuvenating her.
Blearily, she looked around. Where was she? What had happened? She heard footsteps and backed away from the man in the puddle. She was a few feet from him when she raised her arms and transformed again into a sleek black raven, soaring away on an updraft as the alley swarmed with people, led by the frantic young prostitute from the corner.