Book of the day … Dark Lover – A Black Dagger Brotherhood novel #1 by J.R. Ward

Excerpt below:

Walking through Screamer’s, Wrath sneered as the bar 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 approaching 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 blonde
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.

Wrath wasn’t about 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.
Although Marissa shouldn’t
have to deal with her brother’s attitude.

“I just might take you up on
that offer.”

“Good.”

“Now talk.”

“I have a
daughter.”

Wrath slowly turned his head. “Since when?”

“A
while.”

“Who’s the mother?”

“You don’t know her. And she, ah, she
died.”

Darius’s sorrow rose up around him, the acrid smell of old pain
cutting through the stench of human sweat, alcohol, and sex in the
club.

“How old is she?” Wrath demanded. He had a feeling where this might
be headed.

“Twenty-five.”

Wrath cursed under his breath. “Don’t
ask me, Darius. Don’t ask me to do it.”

“I have to. My lord, your blood
is-”

“Call me that again and I’ll close your mouth for you.
Permanently.”

“You don’t understand. She’s-”

Wrath started to get
up. Darius’s hand grasped his forearm and then was quickly removed.

“She’s half-human.”

“Jesus Christ-”

“So she might not
survive the transition if she goes through it. Look, if you help her, at least
she has a chance of living. Your blood is so strong, it would increase the
likelihood of her making it through the change as a half-breed. I’m not asking
you to take her on as a shellan. Or to protect her because I can do that. I’m
just trying to… Please. My other sons are dead. She’s all that could be left
of me. And I… her mother is one I loved.”

If it had been anyone else,
Wrath would have used his favorite pair of words, fuck and off. As far as he was
concerned, there were only two good positions for a human. A female on her back.
And a male face down and not breathing.

But Darius was almost a friend.
Or would have been one, if Wrath had let him get close.
As Wrath stood up, he
closed his eyes. Hatred washed through him, directed into the center of his own
chest. He despised himself for walking away, but he just wasn’t the kind of male
who could help some poor half-breed through such a painful and dangerous time.
Gentleness, mercy, they were not in his make up.

“I can’t do it. Not
even for you.”

Darius’s agony hit him in a great swell and Wrath
actually swayed under the emotion’s force.

He squeezed the vampire’s
shoulder.

“If you really love her, do her a favor. Ask someone else.”

Wrath turned and stalked out of the bar. On his way to the door, he
wiped the memory of himself from every human cerebral cortex in the place. The
strong ones would think they had dreamed him. The weak ones wouldn’t remember
him at all.

Out on the street, he headed for a dark corner behind
Screamer’s so that he could dematerialize. He passed a woman getting felt up by
some guy in the shadows, a bum who’d collapsed in a stupor, a drug dealer
arguing on a cell phone about the going price for crack.
Wrath knew the
moment he was followed. And who it was. The sweet smell of baby powder was a
dead giveaway.

He smiled widely, opened his leather jacket, and took out
one of his hira shuriken. The stainless steel throwing star felt comfortable in
his palm. Three ounces of death ready to hit the air waves.

With the
weapon in his hand, Wrath didn’t change his stride, even though he wanted to
rush into the shadows. He was spoiling for a fight after shutting down Darius
and the Lessening Society member behind him had perfect fucking
timing.

Killing the soulless human was just what he needed to take the
edge off.
As he drew the lesser into the dense darkness, Wrath’s body primed
for the fight, his heart pumping steadily, the muscles in his arms and thighs
twitching in anticipation. His ears picked up the sound of a gun being cocked
and he triangulated the weapon’s aim. It was pointed at the back of his head.

In a fluid motion, he wheeled around just as the bullet exploded out of
the muzzle. He ducked and threw the star which flashed silver and twirled in a
deadly arc. It caught the lesser right in the neck, splitting his throat open
before continuing on its path into the darkness. The gun dropped to the ground,
clattering across the asphalt.

The lesser grabbed his neck with both
hands and fell to his knees.

Wrath walked over and went through its
pockets. He took the wallet and the cell phone he found and put them into his
jacket.

And then he withdrew a long, black-bladed knife from his chest
holster. He was disappointed the fight hadn’t lasted longer, but going by the
dark, curly hair and relatively inept attack, this was a new recruit. With a
quick thrust, he pushed the lesser on to its back, flipped the weapon in the air
and caught the handle with a swipe of his palm. The blade plunged into flesh,
cut through bone, reached the black heart.

With a strangled sound, the
lesser disintegrated.

Wrath wiped the blade off on his leather pants,
slipped it back where it belonged, and stood up. He looked around. And then
dematerialized himself.

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