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Sliding from the hard mattress, I fall to my knees on the coral carpet. My head is thrown back, and a silent roar leaves my lips as everything inside me breaks.

The bond iskilling me, yet there’s nothing I can do about it.

I writhe as I slump forward, living in pure agony as it rolls through me, leaving me sweating and cold. It’s trying to pull me back to him, but I would rather die than crawl back and beg to feed just to stop the pain.

I cannot see, and I cannot hear.

My limbs do not even want to work.

I don’t even realise I’m screaming until my voice stops working.

Groaning, I open my eyes for a moment to see the ceiling.

Everything hurts.

A pounding knock on the door has me rolling to my side to look at the shaking wood. The curtains before the window are drawn, so I cannot see out.

“Hello? Is everything okay?”

My hearing is fuzzy now, but I can make out enough to understand the concerned voice. I groan, my hand flopping to the floor as my life drains from me.

“I heard screaming. Are you okay?” the distinctive male voice calls out, and the scent of a human reaches me from under the door—unwashed and male.

“Are you okay?” the voice demands once more, sounding urgent this time. “I’m coming in.”

The door is kicked in, and a pudgy, half-naked man stands in the doorway, his eyes locked on me where I’m lying in a tangle of sweaty limbs and sheets, jerking from the pain.

For a moment, I think he might help me, but then his eyes fill with malicious intent, and his tongue darts out to lick his lips. He kicks the door shut behind him. “Well, that’s one way to get a man’s attention. How about we see what I can do to help?”

I can read his mind, and what he plans to do to me is obvious.

When he stops before me, I use my last bit of energy to lift my head. He crouches and reaches out to squeeze my breast, and his other slips between my thighs. I’m so weak I cannot even stop this human male. “Oh, but you’re young and pretty, so we are going to have some fun.”

Something inside of me just snaps.

The last shred of dignity and humanity I possessed leaves me, and I strike.

I force him to his back as I sink my fangs into his neck. I know I can’t drink from humans, since they offer no sustenance, and if we drink from them often enough, their blood drives us mad, but there’s something about the man’s bellow of agony that matches my own, and the stench of fear makes me primal, so I sink my fangs in deeper.

I crave his pain as it washes away my own.

His blood floods my mouth as I drink, lighting me up, and for a moment, it drives back the pain, fear, and anger.

His thoughts flash through my head, and the possibilities—not the things he would have done to me—make me stab my nails into his chest. My sharpened claws rip into his skin as he bucks and writhes to dislodge me, but even in my half-dead state, I am stronger.

I pin him as I drain him, his blood infecting my own and changing me forever.

When I slump back, full and half crazed with it, his unseeing eyes are locked on me.

His body is still warm, and he’s covered in blood.

A grim sense of satisfaction fills me as the monster we all keep inside takes over, and I let it.

I retreat into the welcoming darkness as I become the thing of legends.

Of nightmares.

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