26.2 | An Intimate Craft

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As fangs pierced his flesh, Ren sucked a sharp breath. But Nika didn't care if it caused him pain; she was just too hungry.

The first drop of blood was hot and metallic and sweet. Her body rippled with a sudden energy.

One swallow, then another, and another. With each taste, the stinging toxins of belabane ebbed deeper into nonexistence, replaced by a euphoric warmth. It streamed down her throat, pooled in her stomach, and spread to the fringes of her body. Every nerve woke up, setting fire to her skin.

More, more, more.

The world beyond raced almost as fast as her heart. The bedroom was a blur of color. And then it vanished as she closed her eyes.

Ren's breath caressed her shoulder, his fingers slid into her hair.

When blood trickled down his neck, Nika dragged her fangs out. They snapped back into her gums without effort. Then she was tasting him again, licking the scarlet stream and nibbling the tiny wounds to draw out more.

Ren groaned—a deep, purely animal sound that skittered along her bones.

Then the room tipped. Or rather, they tipped. Nika lifted her mouth as Ren eased backward into the sheets. She straddled him. He gripped her thighs, brushing the hem of her shorts.

For a heartbeat, their eyes locked. Somehow, Ren's looked darker than ever, a black so deep that it swallowed all traces of light. He murmured in Russian something that sounded like a prayer.

Like magnets, they came together again, and Nika drank and drank and drank. Her body had its own mind, its own movement. She couldn't have enough.

As her hips rocked back and forth against him, Ren loosened some kind of leash on himself. He brushed his mouth along her clavicle, and a stiffness grew against her pelvis. She could taste the excitement in his blood. The pleasure.

He rasped her name, his grasp rising to her hips, but she scarcely heard him. Sucking and lapping at the wounds in his neck, Nika became lost in the ecstasy of the feed. All she knew was sensation.

Ren guided the roll and rhythm of her hips, each graze brutally slow yet over too soon. A new kind of hunger pounded through Nika's core as she pinned his powerful shoulders into the mattress.

More, she wanted to say. But she couldn't stop drinking.

He got the message anyway, and submitted to the demand. The moment his hands left her hips, she ground into him harder, and the closeness made her throb and moan with desperation.

Ren growled, his touch sneaking beneath her shirt, tugging it up, up. Nika tore her mouth from his neck long enough for him to remove the garment and toss it...somewhere.

She barely acknowledged the fact that she was wearing a bra before she leaned down again. At the same time, Ren raised his head to meet her, stealing a brief brush of the lips.

But Nika wouldn't allow it. Forcefully turning his jaw away, she reclaimed that dribbling vein and drank.

"Nika," he breathed. Begged.

She didn't listen, especially not when those capable hands ran up her ribs, over her bare back, down her thighs. Every touch was a striking match, and they burned and burned and burned.

At the next swallow, something changed. Nika realized she was consuming not just his blood, but the depth of life flowing through him. His youth and vigor and strength, even his emotions. They came crashing into her. Pain and love, rage and sorrow. A battering wave.

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