Home > Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)

Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)
Author: J. R. Ward

ONE


“The bastard’s taking the bridge! He’s mine!”

Tohrment waited for an answering whistle, and when it came, he tore off after the lesser, his shitkickers slamming into puddles, his legs going piston, his hands fisting hard. He passed Dumpsters and parked POSs, scattered rats and homeless people, jumped over a barricade, vaulted over a motorcycle.

Three a.m. in downtown Caldwell, New York, gave you just enough obstacles to keep shit amusing. Unfortunately, the little gnat of a slayer up ahead was taking him in a direction he didn’t want to go in.

As they hit the entrance ramp to the westbound bridge, Tohr wanted to kill the fool—natch. Unlike the blocks of privacy you could find in the maze of alleys around the clubs, you were guaranteed traffic over the Hudson, even this late. Okay, sure, the Herbert G. Falcheck suspension special wasn’t going to be choked with cars, but there were going to be a few—and God knew every human behind the wheel had a goddamn iPhone these days.

There was one rule in the war between the vampires and the Lessening Society: Stay the fuck away from humans. That race of nosy, upright orangutans was a complication waiting to happen, and the last thing anyone needed was widespread confirmation that Dracula wasn’t a product of fiction, and the walking dead weren’t just a TV show that didn’t suck.

Nobody wanted to frontline on the network news, the papers, the magazines.

Internet was fine. No credibility there.

This down-low tenet was the single thing that the enemy and the Black Dagger Brotherhood agreed upon, the one deference that was given by both sides. So, yeah, the slayers could, say … target your pregnant shellan, shoot her in the face, and leave her for dead, taking away not just her life, but your own. But God forbid they rile up the humans.

’Cuz that would just be wrong.

Unfortunately, this directionally challenged, hydraulic-legged motherfucker up here hadn’t gotten the memo.

Nothing a black dagger in the chest couldn’t fix.

As a growl rose up his throat and his fangs elongated in his mouth, Tohr dug deep and tapped a reserve of high-octane hatred, his gas tank refilling, his flagging energy instantly renewed.

It had been a long road back from the nightmare of his king and his brothers coming to tell him that his life was over. As a bonded male, his female was the beating heart in his chest, and in the absence of his Wellsie, he was a ghost of who he had once been, form without substance. The only thing that animated him was the chase, the capture, and the kill. And the knowledge that he could wake up the next night and find more to take down.

Other than ahvenging his dead, he might as well be in the blessed Fade with his family. Frankly, the latter would be preferable—and who knew, maybe he’d get lucky tonight. Maybe in the heat of a fight he’d suffer a catastrophic mortal injury and be relieved of his burdens.

A male could only hope.

The blare of a car horn followed by a chorus of screeching rubber was the first sign that Captain Complication had found what he was looking for.

Tohr got to the top of the ramp’s rise just in time to catch a quick visual of the slayer bouncing off the hood of a Toyota nothing-special. The impact stopped the sedan dead; didn’t slow down the slayer in the slightest. Like all lessers, the bastard was stronger and more resilient than he’d been as a mere human, the black, oily blood of the Omega giving him a bigger engine, tighter suspension and better handling—as well as racing tires in this case.

Its GPS sucked, for real, though.

The slayer sprang up out of his roll across the pavement like a professional stuntman and, naturally, kept going. He was injured, though, that noxious baby-powder smell of his more pronounced.

Tohr came up to the car just as a pair of humans popped their doors, scrambled out, and started flapping their arms like something was on fire.

“CPD,” Tohr yelled as he ripped past them. “In pursuit!”

This calmed them down, and lined up damage control. It was virtually guaranteed that they’d now become a peanut gallery with all kinds of Kodak inclinations, and that was perfect—when this was all over, he’d know where to find them so he could scrub their memories, and take their cell phones.

Meanwhile, the lesser appeared to be gunning for the pedestrian walkway—not his best move. If Tohr had been in the dumb-ass’s position, he’d have taken over that Toyota and tried to drive off—“Oh … come on...” Tohr gritted out.

Apparently, the bastard’s goal wasn’t the walkway, but the lip of the bridge itself: The slayer jumped up and over the fencing that contained the pedi-way, and landed on the thin ledge on the far side. Next stop: the Hudson River.

The slayer looked behind himself, and in the peachy glow of the sodium lights, his arrogant expression was that of a sixteen-year-old boy after he’d sucked down a six-pack of beer in front of his friends.

All ego. No brains.

He was going to jump. The fucker was going to jump.

Fidiot. Even though the Omega’s joy juice gave the slayers all that power, it didn’t mean the laws of physics went out the window for them. Einstein’s little ditty about energy equaling mass times acceleration was still going to apply—so when the dipshit hit the water, he was going to get blown apart, sustaining substantial structural damage. Which wouldn’t kill him but would incapacitate the hell out of him.

Fuckers couldn’t die unless they got stabbed. And they could spend eternity in a purgatory of decomposition.

Boo-frickin’-hoo.

And before his Wellsie’s murder, Tohr probably would have let it go. On the sliding scale of the war, it was more important to wrap those humans up in an amnesiac bullshit blanket and head over to help John Matthew and Qhuinn, who were still handling business back in that alley. Now? There was no pulling out: One way or the other, he and this slayer were going to do a meet-and-greet.

Tohr leaped over the guardrail, hit the walkway, and bounced up onto the fence. Locking a clawhold into the links, he swung his lower body over the top, and landed his shitkickers on the parapet.

The lesser’s beery bravado fizzled a little as he started backing away.

“What, you think I’m afraid of heights?” Tohr said in a low voice. “Or that five feet of chainlink is going to keep me from you?”

The wind howled against them, plastering their clothes to their bodies and whistling through the steel girders. Far, far, far down below, the inky waters of the river were nothing but a vague, dark stretch, like a parking lot.

Gonna feel like asphalt, too.

“I got a gun,” the lesser yelled.

“So take it out.”

“My friends are coming for me!”

“You don’t have any friends.”

The lesser was a new recruit, his hair and eyes and skin having yet to pale out. Lanky and twitchy, he was likely a drug user who suffered from brain-fry—which was no doubt why he’d fallen for the pitch to join the Society.

“I’ll jump! I’ll fucking jump!”

Tohr palmed the handle of one of his two daggers and withdrew the black blade from his chest holster. “So quit yakking and start flying.”

The slayer looked over the edge. “I’ll do it! I swear I’ll do it!”

A gust gave them a blast from a different direction, sweeping Tohr’s long leather coat out over the free fall. “Don’t matter to me. I’ll kill you up here or down there.”

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