She thrilled to fresh blood, the hot snap, the bright reek. She tried using her own at first, biting her fingers and smearing them across her face, but it left her cold. It wasn’t the blood she wanted, but the meaning of the blood, the context.

For a while she was content with butchers and hogkillers, men stained with beef’s blood, dog’s blood, cold imitations of human screams echoing in their voices. She dated soldiers, antiseptic death-dealers smelling of gunpowder, jet fuel and government sanction, and found them too distant, too withdrawn behind their laws and regulations.

She worked on her lovers until they broke, used their terror, their weakness and their strength to push them through that wall, but she could never be sure of their motives. The light that flickered for an instant in the killing eye might have been triumph, might have been guilt, might have been a trick of the light. Their haunted looks and guilt-twisted sheets drove her away. She went looking for a laughing man with murder in his hands.