The Naphil's Kiss
Sarahi made her slow, sinuous way down the cobbled streets of Rome, between the heavily-columned white marble buildings, heading for the temple of Venus. Hunger snarled in her belly. It had been far too long since she had eaten – months – but she'd been unable to rid herself of the image of Alexander dying in her arms, drained of his life force by her insatiable hunger. Poor man. He was so beautiful, so strong. A warrior in the bedroom and on the field of battle.
It's so unfair that I can never keep a man, only use him until I suck him dry. My nourishment is my lover's downfall. This is my only alternative, and I hate this more. Prostitution. Trading one man for another until I'm sated. Disgusting. But if she went much longer without feeding, she risked losing control, and that would be worst of all. She could drain a man to his destruction in a single feeding.
Bah, being a demoness is not at all what people think. I have so little power. Oh, I can shrink down to a tiny size, and incite people to lust, but what good are those attributes? What use? I live like an animal, mating and feeding. And for me, they are one.
As she approached the temple, she could feel the sexual energy rising, could taste it. Inside, behind the perfectly rectangular palisade of fluted columns, under the shallow peak of the roof, powerful men exchanged their hard-earned coins for a night with one of the beautiful women employed in honoring the goddess of love. They had no idea how many of those women were Succubi. It's an easy meal. No need to hunt. The prey comes right to your hand.
“Hmm.” A handsome young man eyed her. “Very pretty.”
Sarahi pinned him with a gimlet stare and pulled the cerulean shawl closer over her scarlet hair. It was the best she could do. She could not disguise her milk-pale skin or her glowing green eyes. At least she could hide the hair.
But why am I hiding? I could go with that young man right now and feed. He's agreeable. I can feel it, can feel the lust radiating off him. She frowned. I don't want that. Lilith take it, I don't want him. I don't want anyone. I want to be left alone.
Her belly cramped with hunger and she took another look at the back of the young man as he hurried away from her. If I call him, he will come. She opened her mouth, letting the slightly bisected tip of her tongue protrude, and inhaled… tasted…
What is that aroma in the air, that celestial fragrance? Like a man, but the best kind of man. Freshly washed but wearing no perfumes to disguise his natural scent. Strong. Sweet. Delicious. What is the source? It teased her. She turned.
A man was walking down the street.
There's nothing unusual about it, really, so why can I not stop staring? Hundreds, perhaps thousands of men each day walked the path to and from the Senate, the temple, and the bathhouses. There's nothing remarkable about this man who seems to be heading in the same direction as I am.
Well, actually there is something unusual about him. He's incredibly tall. Also dark. His tightly-shorn curls gleamed blacker than the dusk. His back was to her, but through his white robe, she could see his fine, muscular physique. Her mouth watered at the sight of him. Oh, I can just see how delicious his energy would taste. I can taste the faintest morsel of it now.
Sarahi wiped her hand over the corner of her mouth and hurried after him. If he's heading to the temple now, this is my lucky day. I wouldn't mind making a meal of this one.
Sure enough, he strode directly there, but instead of entering, he lingered outside the door. He turned to face the street and Sarahi's breath caught. Has there ever been such a beautiful face? Firm jaw, eyes like polished ebony, strong broad nose, full sensual mouth. He was made to be loved. She wanted him more than ever.
As men approached the entrance, he touched them on the arm. Those full lips twisted into words she couldn't make out. No one turned his way, but everyone he touched paused. Some turned away and hurried down the street. Others steeled themselves and entered.
They can't see him. He touches them, talks to them, but they have no idea he's there.
Interesting that I can see him. She approached. He turned those burning, midnight eyes on her.
“Come no closer, succubus,” he intoned, his voice strong and deep. She shivered at the sound of it. Her face curving into a sensuous smile, she walked towards him, deliberately crowding into his space and letting him smell her perfumed, womanly sweetness. His nostrils flared.
“How did you know what I am?” she asked, drawing her voice out long and slow.
His Adam's apple bobbed. “Of course, I know what you are, slut. Do you know what I am?
“Oh, for Lilith's sake,” she hissed, suddenly furious. “Naphil. I should have guessed.” My delicious meal is a half-angel sworn to celibacy. Now Sarahi felt like swearing.
“You should have known, little one,” he chided.
“I've never seen a Naphil before.” Goddesses, but he's beautiful, and what is that expression… amusement?
His full lips twisted into a wry parody of a smile. “Then you are poorly trained. You'll not be going in there tonight.”
“What difference does it make?” She demanded, arms akimbo. “Those men are going in to bed a woman. They will walk out unharmed. Why deny me admittance?”
“It is my duty.” He paused, his proud expression turning considering, and gestured with a twist of his head toward the columns flanking the entrance. “Do you want to be there?”
Sarahi took a risk. “No.” She looked directly into his eyes. “But you might as soon reason with the lion not to eat the antelope. He hungers, and he cannot stop himself.” She sighed.
He narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean?”
She regarded him, confused. “You say you are trained to know us. Surely you must know why we do what we do.”