Home > Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6)(8)

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6)(8)
Author: J.R. Ward

 

Bass Pond Lane . . . he was looking for Bass Pond La— There it was. He wrenched the wheel,

stomped the brake, and just made it onto the road.

 

With no streetlights, he blew right by the shitty, overgrown yard he was looking for and had to

throw the clunker into reverse and backpedal. The farmhouse was worse off than the Focus,

nothing but a loose-roofed, barely sided rat hole choked with New York State’s equivalent of

kudzu: poison ivy.

 

Parking on the road because there was no driveway, Mr. D got out and adjusted his cowboy

hat. The house reminded him of back home, what with the tarpaper that showed and the

sprung windows and the poorman’s lawn of weeds. Hard to believe his fat, housebound

mother and his worn-out farmer father weren’t in there waiting for him.

 

They musta passed a while ago, he thought as he walked over. He’d been the youngest of their

seven kids, and both had been smokers.

 

The screen door had almost no screen and a frame that was rusted out. When he opened the

thing, it squealed like a stuck pig, squealed like Big Tommy, just like the one back home had.

Knocking on the second door didn’t get him no answer, so he took off his cowboy hat and

pushed into the house, using his hip and his shoulder to bust free the lock.

 

Inside smelled like cigarette smoke, mold, and death. The first two were stale. The death was

fresh, the kind of juicy, fruity stuff that made you want to go out and kill something so you

could join the party.

And there was another smell. The lingering sweet scent in the air told him the Omega had

been here recently. Either that or another slayer.

With his hat in his hands, he walked through the dark front rooms and into the kitchen in the

back. That was where the bodies was. Two of them on their stomachs. He couldn’t tell the sex

of either because they’d been decapitated and no one was in a dress, but the pools of blood

from where their heads should have been mingled, kind of like they was holding hands.

It was real sweet, actually.

 

He glanced across the room, to the black stain on the wall between the harvest gold fridge and

the spindly Formica-topped table. The bomb burst meant a fellow slayer had bit it and bit it

hard at the hand of the Omega. Evidently the master had fired another Fore-lesser.

 

Mr. D stepped over the bodies and cracked the fridge. Lessers didn’t eat, but he was curious

what the couple had in there. Huh. More memories. There was an open package of Oscar

Mayer bologna, and they were almost out of mayo.

Not that they had to worry about making sandwiches no more.

 

He closed the fridge and leaned back against the—

 

The temperature in the house dropped by twenty degrees, like someone had cranked a

central-air unit on so the dial read, Freeze Your Nuts Off. The wind followed, roughing up the

still summer night, gathering in force until the farmhouse groaned.

The Omega.

 

Mr. D came to attention just as the front door blew open. What came down the hall was an

inky mist, fluid and transparent, rolling along the floorboards. It coalesced in front of Mr. D,

rising up into a male form.

 

“Master,” Mr. D said as he bowed at the waist and his black blood raced in his veins out of fear

and love.

 

The Omega’s voice came from a vast distance and carried an electronic cadence with static. “I

am appointing you Fore-lesser.”

 

Mr. D’s breath caught. This was the highest honor, the single most powerful position in the

Lessening Society. He’d never even hoped for it. And maybe he could actually hang for a spell

in the job. “Thank—”

The Omega misted forward and blanketed Mr. D’s body like a coating of tar. As pain took the

place of every bone in his body, Mr. D felt himself get spun around and pushed face-first into

the counter, his hat flying from his hands. The Omega took control, and things happened that

Mr. D would never have consented to.

There was no consent in the Society, though. You had only one yes, and that was the one that

got you into it. Everything else that came after, you had no control over.

When what seemed like centuries passed, the Omega stepped out of Mr. D’s body and clothed

himself, a white robe covering him from head to foot. With ladylike elegance, the evil arranged

his lapels, his claws having disappeared.

 

Or maybe they’d just been worn to stubs after all the ripping and tearing.

Weak and leaking, Mr. D sagged against the pitted countertop. He wanted to get dressed, but

there wasn’t much left of his clothes.

 

“Events have come to a head,” the Omega pronounced. “The incubation is done. It is time now

to shed the cocoon.”

 

“Yes, suh.” As if there was another answer? “How can I serve you?”

 

“Your task is to bring this male to me.” The Omega extended his hand palm up and an image

appeared, hovering in the air.

 

Mr. D studied the face, anxiety kicking his brain into high gear. For sure, he needed more

details than this translucent mug shot. “Where do I find him?”

 

“He was born here and he lives among the vampires in Caldwell.” The Omega’s voice was out

of a sci-fi movie, echoing with eerie displacement. “He is newly transitioned by but months.

They believe him to be their own.”

Well, that sure did narrow it down.

 

“You may marshal the others,” the Omega said. “But he must be taken alive. If anyone kills him,

you shall be accountable unto me.”

 

The Omega leaned to the side and put his palm to the wallpaper next to the black bomb burst.

The image of the civilian imprinted on the stretch of faded yellow flowers, burned there.

The Omega tilted his head and gazed at the image. Then, with a gentle, elegant hand, he

caressed the face. “He is special, this one. Find him. Bring him back here. Do this with haste.”

The or else didn’t have to be said.

As the evil disappeared, Mr. D bent down and picked up his cowboy hat. Fortunately, it hadn’t

been crushed or stained.

Rubbing his eyes, he counted the ways he was in it up to his buckle. A vampire male

somewhere in Caldwell. It was gonna be like looking for a blade of grass in an acre of meadow.

Picking up a paring knife from the counter, he used the thing to cut around the image on the

wallpaper. Peeling the sheet off carefully, he studied the face.

Vampires were secretive for two reasons: They didn’t want humans interfering none with

their race, and they knew that the lessers were after them. They did go out in public, though,

especially the newly transitioned males. Aggressive and reckless, the young ones hit the

seedier parts of Caldwell’s downtown because there were humans to have sex with and fights

to get into and all kinds of fun things to snort and drink and smoke.

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