Home > Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2)(7)

Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2)(7)
Author: J.R. Ward

“You know where to find me.”

When she left, Rhage glanced over at his brother. “I don't know how you can stand her.”

V tossed back his vodka, watching the female with hooded eyes. “She has her attributes.”

The blonde arrived, stopping in front of Rhage and striking a little pose. He put both hands on her hips and pulled her forward so she straddled his thighs.

“Hi,” she said, moving against his hold. She was busy looking him over, sizing up his clothes, eyeing the heavy gold Rolex peeking out from under his trench coat's sleeve. The calculation in her eyes was as cold as the center of his chest.

God, if he could have left he would have; he was so sick of this shit. But his body needed the release, demanded it. He could feel his drive rising, and as always, that god-awful burn left his dead heart in the dust.

“What's your name?” he asked.

“Tiffany.”

“Nice to meet you, Tiffany,” he said, lying.

 

Less than ten miles away, at Mary's pool in her backyard, she, John, and Bella were having a surprisingly jolly time.

Mary laughed out loud and looked at John. “You're not serious.”

It's true. I shuttled back and forth between the theaters.

“What did he say?” Bella asked, grinning.

“He saw The Matrix four times the day it opened.”

The woman laughed. “John, I'm sorry to break this to you, but that's pathetic.”

He beamed at her, blushing a little.

“Did you get into the whole Lord of the Rings thing, too?” she asked.

He shook his head, signed, and looked expectantly at Mary.

“He says he likes martial arts,” she translated. “Not elves.”

“Can't blame him there. That whole hairy feet thing? Can't do it.”

A gust of wind came up, teasing fallen leaves into the pool. As they floated by, John reached out and grabbed one.

“What's that on your wrist?” Mary asked.

John held his arm out so she could inspect the leather bracelet. There were orderly markings on it, some kind of cross between hieroglyphics and Chinese characters.

“That's gorgeous.”

I made it.

“May I see?” Bella asked, leaning over. Her smile disintegrated and her eyes narrowed on John's face. “Where did you get this?”

“He says he made it.”

“Where did you say you're from?”

John retracted his arm, clearly a little unnerved by Bella's sudden focus.

“He lives here,” Mary said. “He was born here.”

“Where are his parents?”

Mary faced her friend, wondering why Bella was so intense. “He doesn't have any.”

“None?”

“He told me he grew up in the foster-care system, right, John?”

John nodded and cradled his arm against his stomach, protecting the bracelet.

“Those markings,” Bella prompted. “Do you know what they mean?”

The boy shook his head and then winced and rubbed his temples. After a moment, his hands signed slowly.

“He says they don't mean anything,” Mary murmured. “He just dreams of them and he likes the way they look. Bella, ease off, okay?”

The woman seemed to catch herself. “Sorry. I… ah, I'm really sorry.”

Mary glanced at John and tried to take the pressure off him. “So what other movies do you like?”

Bella got to her feet and shoved on her running shoes. Without the socks. “Will you guys excuse me for a moment? I'll be right back.”

Before Mary could say anything, the woman jogged across the meadow. When she was out of earshot, John looked up at Mary. He was still wincing.

I should go now.

“Does your head hurt?”

John pushed his knuckles into the space between his eyebrows. I feel like I just ate ice cream really fast.

“When did you have dinner?”

He shrugged. I don't know.

Poor kid was probably hypoglycemic. “Listen, why don't you come inside and eat with me? Last thing I had was takeout for lunch, and that was about eight hours ago.”

His pride was obvious in the firm shake of his head. I'm not hungry.

“Then will you sit with me while I have a late dinner?” Maybe she could entice him to eat that way.

John stood up and held out his hand as if to help her to her feet. She took his small palm and leaned on him just enough so he'd feel some of her weight. Together they headed for her back door, shoes in hand, bare feet leaving wet prints on the chilly flagstone around the pool.

 

Bella burst into her kitchen and stalled out. She'd had no particular plan when she'd taken off. She just knew she had to do something.

John was a problem. A serious problem.

She couldn't believe she hadn't recognized him for what he was right off the bat. Then again, he hadn't gone through the change yet. And why would a vampire be hanging out in Mary's backyard?

Bella nearly laughed. She hung out in Mary's backyard. So why couldn't others like her do the same?

Putting her hands on her hips, she stared at the floor. What the hell was she going to do? When she'd searched John's conscious mind, she'd found nothing about his race, his people, his traditions. The boy didn't know a thing, had no idea who he really was or what he was going to turn into. And he honestly didn't know what those symbols meant.

She did. They spelled out TEHRROR in the Old Language. A warrior's name.

How was it possible he'd been lost to the human world? And how long did he have before his transition hit? He looked as if he was in his early twenties, which meant he had a year or two. But if she was wrong, if he was closer to twenty-five, he could be in immediate danger. If he didn't have a female vampire to help him through the change, he was going to die.

Her first thought was to call her brother. Rehvenge always knew what to do about everything. The problem was, once that male got involved in a situation, he took over completely. And he tended to scare the hell of everyone.

Havers—she could ask Havers for help. As a physician, he could tell how long the boy had before the transition. And maybe John could stay at the clinic until his future was clearer.

Yeah, except he wasn't sick. He was a pretransition male, so he was physically weak, but she'd sensed no illness in him. And Havers ran a medical facility, not some kind of rooming house.

Besides, what about that name? It was a warrior's—

Bingo.

She went out of the kitchen and into the sitting room, heading for the address book she kept on her desk. In the back, on the last page, she'd written a number that had been circulating for the last ten years or so. Rumor had it, that if you called, you could reach the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The race's warriors.

They would want to know there was a boy with one of their names left to fend for himself. Maybe they would take John in.

Her palms were sweaty as she picked up the phone, and she half expected either for the number not to go through or to have it answered by someone telling her to go to hell. Instead, all she got was an electronic voice repeating what she had dialed and then a beep.

“I… ah, my name is Bella. I'm looking for the Brotherhood. I need… help.” She left her number and hung up, thinking less was more. If she was misinformed, she didn't want to leave a detailed message on some human's voice mail.

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