- Text Font:
- Text Size:
- Line Height:
- Line Break Height:
Hunger clawed at him. He fought the urge that controlled him, the need that made him shiver like an addict on withdrawal. He’d never imagined it being this painful, this difficult to resist, yet the thought of blood consumed every minute of his waking hours. Even during sleep, he only dreamt of pulsating veins, of warm blood that still contained a human’s life force, of sinking his fangs into a living, breathing being. But worst of all, he dreamt of the power it gave him, the power over life and death.
With a violent shake, Oliver tried to rid himself of the thoughts. But just like most nights, he was unable to shake off his lust for blood, his insatiable appetite for it. Quinn, his sire, had told him it would wane with time, but even after two months as a vampire, he still felt as greedy for fresh blood as on his first night after his rebirth.
As he slipped into his long dark coat and shoved a clean handkerchief into his pocket, he cast a look back over his shoulder. He’d never lived as comfortably as he did now, thanks to his sire. Quinn and his wife Rose had asked him to move in with them after they’d bought a large house in Russian Hill, a neighborhood in San Francisco that reeked of old money.
If he’d had a say in it, he would have chosen the vibrant and young area south of Market Street. It had become his hunting ground over the last two months. When he wanted to feed, he looked for a convenient victim among the partygoers there or in the Mission, but often he didn’t even make it that far.
On those occasions when he allowed his thirst for blood to grow too severe, when he delayed feeding to prove that he was stronger than the invisible foe inside him, he barely made it a few steps from his front door before he attacked an unsuspecting resident.
He’d been hiding his affliction as well as he could from everybody around him, but they knew. Whenever one of his friends or colleagues looked at him, he could see it in their eyes: they thought he wasn’t even trying to resist the urge to take a human’s blood. They believed he was taking the easy route, when in truth, he was fighting with his inner self every night. Nobody saw the turbulent storm that raged in him, the ferocious battles he fought with himself.
Nobody observed him losing those battles and caving in to the relentless demand of the devil inside him. When it happened, he was alone. Lost. Without guidance.
Knowing he couldn’t delay his hunt any longer, Oliver strode down the stairs of the old Edwardian home. Despite the age of the home, it didn’t feel stuffy. Quinn and Rose had taken great pains to furnish the house with a mix of period and contemporary furniture and turned it into a place of welcoming warmth. A true home. Something he’d never had before.
He felt ungrateful now, just thinking that he was going against his sire’s wishes. Quinn had given him everything he could possibly want: a secure home, emotional support, a family. His job at Scanguards, where he’d worked as the owner’s personal assistant for several years, had changed after his turning. And for the better: while he’d loved working directly for Samson, the powerful and ethical vampire who had built Scanguards into a nationwide security company, he preferred his new title—bodyguard.
Even though he’d already been undergoing bodyguard training at Scanguards while he was still human, he’d had to start nearly all over again, because as a vampire, he was thrown into an entirely different division, one that took on the most dangerous jobs. He thrived on it, loved every second of it. Which made the guilt even harder to bear. How could he ever become as good a bodyguard as his colleagues, when he couldn’t even control his own urges? How could he defeat an enemy when he couldn’t even overpower the demon that controlled him?
Disgusted with himself, Oliver turned at the foot of the stairs and cast a long look down the corridor that led to the kitchen. There, a larder full of bottled blood waited for him. Every conceivable blood type was stored there, even the one that was highest priced among their kind, because of its extraordinary sweetness: 0 negative. It would be so easy to walk into the kitchen, open the pantry and take one of the bottles of donated blood which Scanguards procured via a fake medical supply company Samson had set up years ago. So easy to simply unscrew the cap and take a swig. But even the prospect of gorging himself on the tastiest blood type around did nothing to quell the urge to hunt.
He’d rather sink his fangs into the neck of a homeless person, drink blood that tasted as putrid as the man smelled, because it wasn’t about the taste of the blood, it was all about what it did to him. It made him stronger, more powerful, invincible. He’d never felt better in his entire life than after feeding from a living human. Because blood coming straight from a vein still carried a human’s life force, making it ultimately more potent. It was like a drug to him, giving him an incredible high that he’d never experienced before, not even when he’d been human and had experimented with drugs. Blood coming straight from a breathing human was his drug now. A dangerous drug he should stay away from.