Dark Wolf Page 55

“It won’t be that way with others,” he said. “And if it were, I’d forbid you to take blood from anyone else.” She laughed softly, but Dimitri could tell she knew he was serious.

They drifted up to the basement of the house, floating together. He had his arm around her waist, but she rose under her own power and he was immensely proud of her concentration. When they came to the ceiling above that that was the basement floor, they stopped.

“Think of mist. The way it looks, the feel and scent of it. Every component.” He put the image in her mind, and watched her carefully as she examined every aspect of it. “Mist is more difficult than a lot of other forms because it appears so easy, but in fact, it has a distinct configuration. Mist and fog are both drops of water, clouds along the ground so to speak. Fog is denser. Mist travels as a rule close to the ground. Always remember you have to fit in with your surroundings. If you need mist or fog, you have to create the environment for it if it isn’t already there.”

Skyler nodded. She felt the first strange shifting in her body, as if she was falling apart, breaking into tiny molecules. She immediately plunged into Dimitri’s mind—her safety net—but she kept going, trusting he would stop her if she did anything wrong.

Triumphantly, she found herself moving through the cracks as seemingly nothing more than tiny droplets of water, mist rising from the floor into the basement of the house.

Remember to visualize every single detail of your human form, including the clothes you wore. You can’t leave out anything, so take your time. I’m right here with you.

She knew Dimitri was with her. He was the one believing in her, stepping back to allow her to do it on her own. She loved him all the more for understanding she needed to learn and she wanted to do each thing for herself if possible.

Her heart pounded. She could feel it. She heard the roaring of her blood in her ears, like the sound of thunder or a great waterfall, yet she had no body. It was strange and exhilarating. She couldn’t let the wonder of it loosen her focus. She needed to put herself back together without losing any part of herself.

She was determined to be thorough, calling on the memory of her anatomy classes until she felt Dimitri’s laughter.

If I had my boots on right now, I’d kick you. What am I doing wrong? You said thorough.

I should have known you’d take me literally. Your body is there waiting for you, whole and intact. Put that image in your mind. You’ll come together, I promise. I just meant, don’t forget your hair or fingernails.

I was thinking of more important body parts like ovaries.

I know you were.

Dimitri’s laughter spilled into her mind. Everything in her responded to his merriment. She was having fun, and so was he. He didn’t find it a tedious task teaching her things he’d known for centuries. He was enjoying the moments just as she was.

She took a deep breath with lungs that weren’t there and shifted. She found herself standing on the floor of the basement with Dimitri looking down at her as if she were the greatest thing in the entire world. He picked her up and spun her around, leaving her breathless.

“You are amazing, sívamet. Perfectly amazing. I’m certain you’ll have no trouble hunting.”

17

Hunting. Just the word alone conjured up blood and death. Skyler had been a wildlife conservationist and advocate for most of her life. She didn’t eat meat. She didn’t believe in hunting unless one actually ate what they killed. The same with fishing. Killing for sport was abhorrent to her. Hunting sounded so . . . predatory.

Carpathians and Lycans, for that matter, are predators, Dimitri informed her.

He hadn’t given her time to explore the house, something she was very eager to do. Instead, he had taken her quickly through the forest to the edge of the village. They waited in the shadows, staying very still, not moving or speaking, just absorbing the rhythm of the village at night.

She could hear the footsteps, feel the vibration through the soles of her boots—she had become that sensitive. She could hear murmured conversations from various houses and bars. If she actually tuned in to any one of them, she could hear exactly what they said.

Already hunger had taken hold of both of them. She could feel the deep need throbbing in her veins. The scent of animals and humans filled her lungs with every breath she drew. She knew where every single person on the street was in relationship to her. Her body had a stillness it never had, and her heart beat in anticipation of what was to come.

There was a kind of excitement and elation in hunting she hadn’t anticipated. She actually could hear the ebb and flow of blood in the veins of those closest to her. Without thinking, she focused on one particularly strong beat. A male. She knew who he was, already tuning to him without conscious thought, as if her body knew exactly what to do. His footsteps were steady. He hadn’t been drinking. She didn’t want blood laced with alcohol.

What’s happening to me? She reached out to Dimitri, both frightened and excited at the changes in her.

You are Carpathian. You are light to my darkness, but you are still a predator. You cannot live without sustaining yourself. You will walk up to him, smile, say hello, engage him in a short conversation as your mind tunes to his. When you feel his exact rhythm, you calm him, cloud his mind just long enough to take what you need from him.

Skyler frowned. Like all of you have done for me. But I consented. I had knowledge.

They cannot know. It isn’t safe. Our species does not exist other than in myths and legends.

Skyler knew he was right. Carpathians, and even Lycans, who had integrated into human society, remained secretive. There were human societies that hunted “vampires,” unable to distinguish between Carpathians and vampires, so they indiscriminately killed everyone, just as the Lycans did with the Sange rau and the Hän ku pesäk kaikak.

She took a deep breath. She’d agreed to this, and a huge part of her wanted to do it on her own, but taking blood from an unsuspecting person made her feel as if she was making the man her victim, and that didn’t sit well with her.

You know you don’t have to do this.

She shot Dimitri a quelling look. It was difficult enough to force herself to become a predator, let alone fighting the impulse to take the “out” he offered her.

Once you are absolutely certain you have him out of sight of any other and in a thrall, under your complete control, your body will know what to do. Take only what you need to survive and thrive. There is no need for more, although the impulse will be there just because your body craves blood. Use discipline. If you can’t stop yourself, reach for me.

He would be monitoring her to ensure nothing went wrong, but he wanted to give her the opportunity to handle every aspect for herself. Children learned these lessons at an early age. She had been human and it could be more difficult.

Skyler moistened her lips and ran her tongue over her already sharpening teeth. She nodded and forced herself to take that first step out of the shadows. Once she managed that, she began to stroll toward her prey.

She was shocked at how quietly she walked, how she was so tuned to every heartbeat, every whisper of sound around her. Heat banded, changing her vision, so that she could see every artery and vein, the very heart of the man she approached.

Skyler flashed a smile. His head jerked up and he stopped in his tracks. A low growl came from out of the night, shocking her, shocking him. Instinctively he stepped closer, protectively to her.

“Good evening,” she greeted, turning her head toward the sound.

Two red eyes stared back at her. Her heart stuttered for a moment. Dimitri, you said this was necessary for me to learn.

I didn’t know how I would feel.

Stay in my mind so you know how I feel, not him. Carpathian women seem to mesmerize men fairly easily. He wasn’t interested in the least until I smiled at him. In any case, he feels protective, not sexual.

Do not fool yourself, and don’t let him touch you. I am disciplined, but find that perhaps I will need to work on control when other men desire you.

His unexpected reaction helped her to overcome her own nerves. She loved that Dimitri might have a small little weakness. It was so very human. Butterflies actually took flight in her stomach, wings fluttering against her abdomen. Her br**sts tingled and she felt the heat rising between her legs, signaling her need of her lifemate. She was beginning to revel in her ability to want him. Each time it happened she felt more hopeful that she could meet his every need.

Stop! Stop thinking about sex when you’re approaching another man and you’re about to bite into his neck and take his blood.

The urgency in Dimitri’s voice brought her up short. She touched his mind and found—chaos—a red, almost blinding rage that had nothing to do with enemies and everything to do with the poor innocent man she had selected as her first target.

She stepped back from him immediately and lifted her hand. “Have a good night.”

“Wait. It isn’t safe for you to walk alone right now,” the man cautioned.

“My husband is waiting for me.” She indicated just ahead of her. “Thank you for your concern though.” She kept walking, moving quickly into the shadows, knowing Dimitri had moved to intercept her.

She walked right up to him, merging her mind more deeply with his. Be calm, my love, this won’t hurt a bit.

She slid the buttons from the clasps, one by one, deliberately slow and sensuous. When his shirt fell open, she ran the palms of her hands up his belly to his chest.

There’s nothing to fear. You’re safe with me.

She bent her head and followed the path of her hands with her tongue, stopping for a moment to circle his belly button and trace the links of a few of the chains, as if she had gotten a little distracted by his body. She found the reassuring beat of his heart and the rhythm of his blood, surging so hotly in his veins, beckoning her.

Her teeth lengthened. She let need rise—the terrible, sweet hunger—until the feeling completely enveloped her. There was more than just the desire to feed. Her heart matched his, and she trailed kisses over the vein in his chest, over those heavy muscles that always intrigued her. Her tongue swirled and danced, stroked, and then she bit deep, finding the vein unerringly.

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