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Chapter 99 – A New Beginning – Raine's POV

I quivered, pressed tightly against his chest, locked in the unbreakable band of his arms. I didn't need to breathe and yet, I found myself inhaling slow, deep breaths to calm my shaking nerves. So much had happened in the last hour and my brain was struggling to catch up. And then the realization crashed over me hard.

I was a vampire!

I had stepped, hell, leaped over the cliff, into my destiny. Vivid images in full brilliant color assaulted my mind as the last sixty minutes replayed in my mind.

Tired. So tired. Falling asleep.

Burning. Feeding. Talon...!

My eyes snapped wide. Perspiration beaded along my hairline at the horrible memory. I hadn't just fed from Talon...I had been thirsty, ravenous, intent on taking every last drop of his blood, even when I knew it would end his life! My chest heaved, and the panicked words wrenched themselves from my gut, "I tried to kill Talon!" My fingers splayed against Cage's chest, and I attempted to push myself free from his grasp, but he was immovable. His biceps bulged and flexed, keeping me locked in place.

"Shh, Tigru...Talon is just fine," Cage soothed. "I never would have let you hurt him. He was perfectly safe." His jaw worked, and the tightness in his eyes belied his reassurance. It was a lie. Talon had not even been close to safe.

"Don't." My throat constricted.


I dropped my head and looked down at the floor, mumbling with a rasped whisper, "Don't lie to ease my guilt. I don't deserve that." I expected Cage to deny it, to hold to his claim that Talon had not been in grave danger from me. But he didn't.

"Okay," he replied gruffly.

I looked up and searched his expression. His eyes pierced into mine as he explained, "You do deserve the truth, and not my sugarcoated version of it." He leaned to kiss my forehead gently and exhaled a breath. "My instinct will always be to protect you, even from yourself. But, you are right. Now is not the time for it."

His eyes found mine again and held my gaze with even more intensity as he continued, "However, I am not stating the truth for the purpose of heaping more guilt onto the shitload you are already obviously clinging to. I will tell you, so that you can understand what you are capable of and learn from your mistakes."

"Okay," I mumbled. I was at a loss for any more words than that.

His forehead creased as he began, "If I had not stopped you, you would have killed him...but, the same can be said about every newly turned vampire. You will gain more control over your impulses with time." He waited for me to acknowledge I understood.

I narrowed my eyes and pointed out, "Your words imply that every newly turned vampire tries to kill their human donor. If that were the case, you would have warned me ahead of time in an effort to prepare me for it. You explained all of the steps for changing a human, but that wasn't one of them."

Even though the seriousness never left his features, his mouth twitched just slightly in appreciation of my sound logic. I waited for his defense.

"I did not say that every fledgling actually attempted to destroy their human donor. Only that the possibility is very real and very high for each new vampire, simply because their control has not had time to mature."

I understood what he was saying, and on some level, I guess it made me feel better, but I still had no right to threaten Talon like I did. I determined I would apologize the moment I saw him again, and hoped he could forgive me for treating him in such a manner.

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