Eyes darker than shadow held mine. All of my previous logic vanished. Heat flared through me, hotter than the lingering burn of essence. My beast growled and the corresponding gleam in Jager’s gaze almost had me pushing away from the wall and closing the distance between us. But I willed my bare feet still and dug my toes into the warm wood. I made my smile arch, fangs catching sharp on my lips, and Jager’s eyes narrowed.
I ignored the thrum in my blood, the wet ache between my thighs. Anger bubbled under my thoughts, evidence that my beast was not happy with the decision to turn down Jager’s challenge. And the bastard had challenged me.
Did he want to add to his collection? He already had seven women bound to him.
I put my glass on a cloth-covered table. Drinking more essence would only set my beast free, and I needed that like I needed a hole in the head. I snagged canapés from the table, needing to dull the fire scorching through my gut and taking the edge off my primitive hunger.
I would try my luck in the darkened corridors winding through the great house.
The anger eased and anticipation bloomed heat in my chest. Yes, my beast was appeased with the thought of the hunt, of scenting prey in the darkness. More guests parted before me, some of them scrambling back, fear streaming off them. I twitched a smile and more than one blood-male flinched. They’d picked up my scent, the soft, seductive spice of a fertile female, one on the hunt and planning to bring a man to his knees before her.
A queen glared at me, fangs sliding quick and defensive of her brood of young, fresh blood-males. None of the ones remaining in the grand hall had any fear from me. Every male who could was out to find Zara. With one exception. And that exception had my skin prickling. Damn it, I could feel the hot slide of his gaze down my back and it had me wet. Spice-laden scent drifted around me, a heady aroma that burned power through my blood.
I pulled in a deep breath and stopped at the dark doorway leading into the interior of the great house. My hand gripped the doorjamb. I was a queen, designed to build a new colony around me, turn deserving humans from food to the ever-living. A queen needed a mate to father her daughters and to bring order to her household.
I glanced behind me. The room had dropped to silence, all attention focused on me. A smile curved my mouth, fangs digging at my lips. It was a smile meant to taunt one man, a man not worthy of me. But Jager no longer stood beside the Queen.
My smile deepened. Fire raced through my body. His disappearance could only mean one thing. He still meant to challenge me and a delicious growl escaped my lips.
Yes, Jager, like all the others who wanted to be prey that night, had left the hall.