A minute or an hour later, I woke for a moment in a dark place. There was no light and no sound, only pain and the thick, warm liquid that was being forced past my lips.
I swallowed again and again before my head cleared. The liquid was bittersweet, and as I drank I had an impression of power and . . . not life or death, but time. And strength and eternity . . .
Finally I realized what I had been drinking. I pushed away the wrist that someone was holding to my lips, but I was weak, and it was so tempting.
" The voice was in my ears and my head, and I recognized it as Ather's.
Once again I pushed away the wrist, though my body screamed at me for doing so. Ather was insistent, but so was I. I somehow managed to turn my head away, despite the pain that shot through me with each beat of my heart. I could hear my own pulse in my ears, and it quickened until I could hardly breathe past it, but still I pushed away the blood. I believed for that second, in my immortal soul, and would not abandon it -- not willingly.
Suddenly Ather was gone. I was alone.
I could feel the blood in my veins, entering my body, soul, and mind. I could not get my breath; my head pounded and my heart raced. Then they both slowed.
I heard my own heart stop.
I felt my breath still.
My vision faded, and the blackness filled my mind.
Excerpted from In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Copyright © 1999 by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Excerpted by permission of Laurel Leaf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.