Savage Nature(139)

By: Christine Feehan

The dark night sky turned to a soft dove gray as dawn crept in, stealing away the night’s powerful reign. The harpy eagle dropped from the canopy, spiraling down into the clearing where the ranch house was situated. With his sharp vision he could see the river running like a thick ribbon dividing the land. Gentle slopes gave way to steep ridges, deep ravines cutting through the forest. Trees and vegetation snaked across the rocky ground, a dark tangle of growth determined to reclaim what had been taken.

Neat fences bisected the slopes, and hundreds of cattle dotted the grasslands. As the shadow of the bird passed over them, they lifted their heads in agitation, trembling, knocking into one another as they turned back and forth trying to find the danger they scented.

The eagle flew over several fields and at least an acre of gardens, all well tended, as Zacarias had come to associate with the extended family who served him. Everything was neat, kept in meticulous repair, every chore done to their best ability. Pastures and fields gave way to the large corrals where the horses whirled and tossed their heads uneasily as he flew over them. Below him, the ranch was laid out like a perfect picture he could not appreciate.

As he approached the stable, a rush of heat slid through his veins. Deep inside the body of the bird, where he should have felt nothing at all, his heart gave an unfamiliar stutter. The strange fluttering nearly knocked him from the sky. Naturally wary, Zacarias didn’t trust what he didn’t understand. What could possibly send heat rushing through his very veins? He was exhausted from the long battle, the long flight, and the loss of blood. Hunger throbbed with each beat of his heart, clawing and raking for supremacy. Pain from the wounds he hadn’t bothered to heal ripped through him like a jackhammer, drilling through his very bones.

Weeks earlier, he had been so close to turning vampire, the need for relief from emptiness so strong in him that his reaction now made no sense. He was in worse shape, starving for blood, more kills staining his soul. Yet there was that strange reaction in the vicinity of his heart, that heat pulsing through his veins in anticipation. A trick, then? A lure set by a vampire? What was he missing?