Gods! She was sweet. The sweetest woman he'd had in all his many centuries.
And he'd had many.
Temptation lured him to drain her dry and take all of her precious essence, but he hadn't gone through the trouble of saving her--and himself--for nothing. He'd had a hard time dragging himself off the makeshift stake that had only narrowly missed his heart and then hauling her out of the wreckage in a very weakened state.
He wasn't about to kill her now.
Not when he wanted to taste of her again and again. No, he would keep this female around and keep her healthy. She was fast becoming an addiction.
He realized, belatedly, that he'd never healed as quickly as he had in the past twenty-four hours with her blood in his system. He'd taken her blood out of necessity before he could find a safe place for them to seek shelter. Luckily, she hadn't bled much in the crash, but her brain injury had looked serious. He would need more of her essence to heal himself before healing her more fully. Already, he'd reduced the swelling in her skull somewhat with his healing gift. She would be much better, if not fully recovered, after a second session. But to do that, he must be stronger.
Her blood energized him. And her responsive body tripled the energy he derived from her blood. She'd been potent before, but now that she'd come so beautifully for him, his energy level peaked. He was near full strength. As she would be, as soon as he found the strength to tear himself away from her juicy neck and give her the healing she needed.
But she was so sweet!
With a groan, he backed off, using a light zap of his healing touch through his tongue as he licked the sensitive skin of her neck. She squirmed deliciously under him, but he knew he had to finish her healing first, before satisfying other needs.
Settling the unaccustomed hunger for her blood--and her body--would come later.
"Are you all right?" He nuzzled her neck a moment longer.
"I'm..." She gasped as he moved upward to kiss her lips. "I'm okay. Please..."
"Please what?" He lifted to look down at her expression, which held a hint of dismay, a huge helping of bliss and a smattering of residual fear. "Please please you again? I'd be happy to, but it will have to wait until I can heal your wounds a bit more."
In the darkness he saw the faint elevation of color in her cheeks. It made him hard to realize that even after the blood he'd taken from her beautiful body, she could still blush. He'd always liked modest women--something that was becoming increasingly hard to find in this modern world.
"Heal me? So you're not ... You're not going to kill me?" Her beautiful eyes were wide with apprehension and he didn't like her looking at him that way.
"No, sweetheart." He stroked her hair, trying to impart reassurance with a gentle touch. "I wouldn't have bothered carrying you from the wreckage if I intended you harm. I'm a healer. Even before I became ... what I am ... I had the gift of healing. I only want to use it to make you well. What comes after that is in the hands of fate."
"What are you?"
Atticus sighed. He should have expected the question. He'd left himself wide open for it, but he hadn't thought beyond the need to comfort this small mortal woman.
"Like a vampire?" Fear clouded her words, but he also sensed fascination. It was a good sign.
"Some call us that, though it's not a term I prefer. There's too much incorrect mythology associated with the word and too much fear as well. We're mostly peaceful beings, only seeking to co-exist."
"But you feed on human blood, right?"
He nodded, sitting up by her side. The light in the cavern was dim, but he could see her plainly. He suspected she could make out his form as well, from the way her gaze tracked his movements, though without doubt her vision was less able to cope with the dark than his.
"As you experienced yourself, we do need blood to survive. Blood and sex. We are creatures of energy, and the psychic power released during orgasm is ambrosia to us."
"So that's why you made me..."
"Come? Yes, sweetheart." He liked teasing her, oddly enough, though he usually didn't waste much time conversing with his mortal prey. "You came beautifully for me and increased my strength. You helped heal me and I will do the same for you in turn."
He wasn't a man who often indulged in the pleasures of the flesh. He had many gifts to bring prey to him. Clouding mortal minds so they never knew of his feeding from them had proved to be one of his most powerful abilities. He had often brought females to orgasm as he fed from them, because it usually doubled the potency of their blood, but he didn't take pleasure for himself. He hadn't even considered doing so in a very long time. Just one more thing to fall by the wayside as the malaise of his endless existence festered and grew.
But this small woman had ended all that. With one look, she'd sparked a fire that brought him back to life. Back to passion. She fed his hunger like no other. He didn't regret the impulse that made him save her. He didn't regret living, though only the day before he had welcomed death. She gave him reason to go on, a flicker of hope in his increasingly dark world.
She might even be the One.