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. " Temptation. " 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 All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.