“Mindchanger, what do you want from me? What are you really? Where can I find you?”
Monroe’s mind curved and broke around the woman’s thoughts.
Again her voice rattled around in his head, causing sweat to bead on his temples. “Where can I find you?”
The only way to erase her thoughts—which he heard but hadn’t consumed—from his mind was to find food.
He spun toward the shadows and the group of people pouring out of the movie theater. Their brains were full of lust and sin—the theme of the movie and the theme of their lives. One couple was involved with wife swapping, and they wanted to get the other couple into bed.
He groaned and stomped past, sticking close to the dark areas of the sidewalk where the streetlights didn’t cast their bluish beams.
People skittered away at his appearance. Compared to the humans, he stuck out like an alien. Being dressed in black leather right down to his heavy boots gave him away as a Mindchanger before he even raised his gaze. He hunched his shoulders, and the upturned collar of his leather jacket brushed his ears. With his hands in his pants pockets, he fiddled with the miniature screwdriver he always carried.
“Where can I find you?”
No, he couldn’t dwell on one human. That was dangerous. If he was around her too much, he could drain her mind and leave her a vacant shell.
Except her mind is already empty. When he’d probed her, he’d seen little. At some point she’d been the victim of a Free Will attack.
Bastards. The rogue Mindchangers had banded together with the scheme to eradicate humans from the city, state…country. They devoured entire families, leaving bodies like so much rubbish. Some victims lay comatose for years before they were able to learn enough to function again.
But something about the woman’s mind didn’t indicate only a Free Will attack. No, there was something different about her.
He’d seen her name in her mind as bright as a copper penny, as bright as her hair, which flashed like a beacon—a neon sign to a Mindchanger who mostly lived in the night.
He locked his jaw against the need to go find her again. He’d followed her home—could break in and get her. Rather than feast on her thoughts, he wanted to feast on her curvy body.
His cock swelled within his confining leather pants, demanding he follow his instincts and go after her.
And to send out his feelers and take from her even as he crushed his mouth to hers.
He turned down an alley. Dodging garbage cans and rubbish, he searched for a stray thought—any thought.
He swayed with weakness as the hunger took over. Instead of feeding on important memories and thoughts, he starved himself. Often he would grow so hungry he’d find himself stumbling blindly through the streets until he found an inconsequential thought to fill him.
The food he chose—“pick up eggs at the store,” “get those tires rotated”—was what he called “stupid food.” It never satiated, always kept him in a hungry state. But he just couldn’t take a mother’s memories of her child or a man’s intention to buy flowers for his lover.
Monroe froze. Off to the side, wisps of thought. Fragments.
He sent his powers across the inky space, snagged the ideas out of the air, and gulped them down.
A shiver coursed through him as the scraps of food provided energy.
With that fuel in his system came the unfolding of his mind.
Magda. Fuck, he needed to go to her. A few moments ago, he’d been too hungry to see it, but now it was apparent that her empty mind was a smear of honey to the Free Wills. Once they’d had a taste of a certain human, they would return to a victim again and again.
“Drop me at the house with the blue roof.”
He looked into the pedestrian’s eyes and devoured the errant thought. Then he fed one back into the mind of the giver. She is a loving wife.
That precious snippet from the man provided Monroe with enough energy to throw out his feelers for more. He walked the city streets, not raising his gaze to the people but stealing the extras.
To look into their eyes was to drink his fill. And while some of his species fed evil or destructive thoughts to humans in exchange, Monroe and many others gave them good thoughts in return for their food.
He ran across a man with a head full of numbers. His wife’s checking account numbers, the amount of the water bill. Monroe hesitated for the briefest of moments before sucking them in. The human didn’t need them, not really. The numerals were on paper somewhere or locked into a computer.
The city park lay ahead, but he veered off toward the town square. Concerts were often held here on weekends, and the Mindchangers came out in droves to feed. He picked up the pace. If he didn’t fix the town square as his destination in his mind, he didn’t know if he could stop himself from going to Magda.
What was it about her? He’d seen tempting humans before. Beautiful women with eyes as deep as forest pools. He could dip into their minds and glut himself while skimming their curves and finally sinking into their bodies, gaining another kind of fix.
But he’d never hungered for someone this way. Even in the darkness, he’d seen the sapphire of Magda’s eyes. He’d plunged right into them, and for three heartbeats he’d lost himself in the sweetness of her mind.
Thanks for reading! Zero to Love releases on 10/22.