As he approached, something remarkable happened. I clamped my other hand to the cut and flew backwards, out of reach. The blood was pounding in my ears and my whole being flamed with sudden rage. Ian's face was blank with shock, one arm outstretched as if to pull me back. He mouthed a silent word: what? As if that word could articulate all his thwarted yearning and his confusion at my erratic behavior. The rage beat through my body, looking for release. I gasped for breath.
'What's wrong with you?' he asked, moving closer. 'Don't you know how much I need this? Please. Give it to me!'
I moved almost before I knew it. I tossed aside the small table that lay between us and grasped him by the shoulder, throwing him against the wall. The very sound of his voice incensed me. The very feel of his human flesh beneath my hand demanded that I crush him to pulp. He fell awkwardly, but mortal fear propelled him to his feet almost instantly. I could smell his terror, a piquant stroke to my lust. I advanced, ready to tear him open like fruit.
There was nowhere for him to run and he knew it. He flattened himself to the wall and called out my name. His cry pierced through the fog in my mind, the cadence was familiar. It was my name as Ian would say it, it was Lestat, as it's said by an English tongue, and this was Ian who called to me, no menacing enemy nor frantic prey, just Ian.
The hunger in me had fully woken. I could feel it like a prowling beast in my limbs. I wanted to take him, to splinter his bones and shred him like meat. I imagined the riches contained by the dark blood in the soft organs of his chest.
Ian's face was transfixed, mouth wide open, eyes unblinking on mine. Terror rolled from him but there was something else too, something tired and exhilarated which welcomed me. In that ancient, unspoken language of the soul he ached for death.
I drew back. And we stared at each other for a full minute, until Ian sagged, resting his hands on his thighs, his heart shuddering in his chest.
He flinched when I took his arm, but I merely led him to a chair. I set the little table back on its legs and sat down beside him.
'Well, that was unexpected,' I said.
Ian shot me a look of pure horror, then suddenly he started to laugh. He laughed long and hard, banging his hand on the table top, until the fear and relief had had its way with him. When he looked up, I was smiling too. He wiped at his eyes.
'I'm sorry,' I added. It was probably inadequate as apologies go.
Ian laughed again then shook his head as if to clear it.
'I won't harm you now,' I said, because it needed to be said aloud.
' I have some good news and some bad news,' he said, finally.
'If you're telling me I'm not invited to the June banquet at the London motherhouse, I'm ahead of you there.'
'You're not to blame for this. It's also not your fault that you attacked Ryan McKay and Kaitlyn Kennedy.'
I raised an eyebrow. 'You know this, do you?'
Ian nodded solemnly, for once resisting the impulse to brag. 'The bad news is that the demon did it. Lestat, it's already inside you.'
I shook my head. 'That's impossible. I'd know.'
'It's the only rational explanation for your actions.'
'Rational! Nothing about this whole thing can ever be rational.'
'It's more than that,' he said in a steady voice. 'I sensed it. I know it's there.'
'Now you're being ridiculous!' I was getting heated. 'I do not have anything inside me!'
Ian tensed. 'Please calm down. You must hear this. When you attacked, I reached into your head to see if I could stop you.' He made a gesture of futility. 'It's all I could think to do. And I felt a dark presence there which had nothing to do with you.'
I got to my feet. 'Really? Do you hear it in my voice? You know this is me, not some ghastly entity from the Talamascan vaults. It's not controlling me.'
'I don't have all the answers,' he said patiently. 'I only caught a glimpse, but I'm telling you, Lestat, that you have thing inside you now.'
'I don't believe you! I said. But I did and we both knew it.