Home > Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1)(3)

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1)(3)
Author: J.R. Ward

“Hey, are those real?” the blond asked, as if she would answer him.

His buddy grabbed one of her nipples and pulled. She winced, tears making her vision swim. Or maybe her eyesight was going because she was hyperventilating.

All-American laughed. “I think she's natural. But you can find out for yourself when I'm finished.”

As the blond giggled, some deep part of her brain kicked into gear and refused to let this happen. She forced herself to stop fighting and reached back to her self-defense training. Except for her heavy breathing, her body went still, and it took all-American a minute to notice.

“You want to play nice?” he said, eyeing her with suspicion.

She nodded slowly.

“Good.” He leaned in, his breath filling her nose. She fought not to cringe at the rank smell of stale cigarettes and beer. “But if you scream again, I'm going to stab you. Do you understand me?”

She nodded once more.

“Let her go.”

The blond dropped her wrists and giggled, moving around them as if he were looking for the best angle.

All-American's hands were rough on her skin as he fondled her, and she held Tony's Twinkie down by force of will, her gag reflex pumping her throat. Even though she loathed the sensation of the palms pushing into her breasts, she reached for the fly of his pants. He was still holding her by the neck, and she was having trouble breathing, but the moment she touched his privates, he moaned and his grip loosened.

With a hard jam of her hand, she grabbed his balls, twisted as hard as she could, and kneed him in the nose as he crumbled. Adrenaline shot through her, and for a split second she wished his buddy would come at her instead of staring at her stupidly.

“Fuck you!” she screamed at them both.

Beth bolted out of the alley, holding her shirt together as she ran, and she didn't stop until she was at the door to her apartment building. Her hands were shaking so badly she could barely get her key in the locks. And it wasn't until she stood in front of her mirror in the bathroom that she realized tears were pouring down her face.

* * *

Butch O'Neal looked up when the police radio under the dash of his unmarked patrol car went off. There was a male victim, down but breathing, in an alley not so far away.

Butch checked his watch. A little after ten o'clock, which meant the fun was just getting started. It was a Friday night in the early part of July, so the college turks were still fresh out of school and aching to compete in the Stupid Olympics. He figured the guy had either been mugged or taught a lesson.

He hoped it was the latter.

Butch grabbed the handset and told Dispatch he'd head over even though he was a homicide detective, not a beat cop. He had two cases he was working right now, one floater in the Hudson River and a hit-and-run, but there was always room for something else. As far as he was concerned, the more time away from home, the better. The dirty dishes in his sink and the wrinkled sheets on his bed were not going to miss him.

He hit the siren and the gas and thought, Let's hear it for the boys of summer.



Black Dagger Brotherhood 1 - Dark Lover



Chapter Two


Walking through Screamer's, Wrath sneered as the crowd tripped over itself to get out of his way. Fear and a morbid, lusty curiosity wafted out of their pores. He breathed in the rank odor.

Cattle. All of them.

From behind his dark glasses, his eyes strained against the dim lights, and he shut his lids. His vision was so bad that he was just as comfortable with total blindness. Focusing on his hearing, he sorted through the beats of the music, isolating the shuffling of feet, the whisper of words, the sound of another glass hitting the floor. If he ran into something, he didn't care. Whether it was a chair, a table, a human, he'd just walk over the damn thing.

He sensed Darius clearly because his was the only body in the place that wasn't reeking of panic.

Although even the warrior was on edge tonight.

Wrath opened his eyes when he stood in front of the other vampire. Darius was a blurry shape, his dark coloring and black clothes the only information Wrath's vision gave him.

“Where'd Tohrment go?” he asked as he caught a whiff of Scotch.

“He's taking a breather. Thanks for coming.”

Wrath lowered himself into a chair. He stared straight ahead and watched the crowd gradually swallow up the path he'd made.

He waited.

The pounding beat of Ludacris faded into old-school Cypress Hill.

This was going to be good. Darius was a real straight shooter who knew Wrath couldn't stand having his time wasted. If there was silence, something was up.

Darius tipped back his beer, then let out a deep breath. “My lord—”

“If you want something from me, don't lead with that,” Wrath drawled, sensing a waitress approach them. He had the impression of big breasts and a strip of flesh between her tight shirt and her short skirt.

“You need a drink?” she asked slowly.

He was tempted to suggest she lay herself on the table and let him go to work on her carotid. Human blood wouldn't keep him alive for long, but it sure as hell tasted better than watered-down alcohol.

“Not right now,” he said. His tight smile spiked her anxiety and gave her a shot of lust at the same time. He took her scent into his lungs.

Not interested , he thought.

The waitress nodded, but didn't move away. She kept staring at him, her short blond hair a halo in the darkness around her face. Spellbound, she seemed to have forgotten her own name, much less her job.

And how annoying was that.

Darius shifted impatiently.

“That's all,” he muttered. “We're good.”

As she backed up, getting lost in the crowd, Wrath heard Darius clear his throat. “Thanks for coming.”

“You already said that.”

“Yeah. Right. Ah, you and I go way back.”

“We do.”

“We've fought some damn good fights together. Cut down a lot of lessers.”

Wrath nodded. The Black Dagger Brotherhood had been protecting the race against the Lessening Society for generations. There was Darius. Tohrment. The four others. The brothers were vastly outnumbered by lessers, de-souled humans who served a nasty-ass master, the Omega. But Wrath and his warriors managed to hold their own.

And then some.

Darius cleared his throat. “After all these years—”

“D, you've got to cut to the point. Marissa needs to do a little business tonight.”

“Do you want to use your room at my place again? You know I don't let anyone else stay there.” Darius let out an awkward laugh. “No doubt her brother would prefer you not show up at his house.”

Wrath crossed his arms over his chest, pushing the table out with his boot to give himself a little more room.

He didn't give a crap that Marissa's brother had delicate sensibilities and was offended by the life Wrath lived. Havers was a snob and a dilettante who had his head up his ass. He was totally incapable of understanding the kind of enemies the race had and what it took to defend the population.

And just because the dear boy was offended, Wrath wasn't going to play dandy while civilians were getting slaughtered. He needed to be in the field with his warriors, not taking up space on some throne. So Havers could shove it.

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