#1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward’s novels of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continue as a vampire warrior crosses the line between life and death…and ventures into an erotic world of dark dreams and darker desires.
Ever since the death of his shellan, Tohrment has been unrecognizable from the vampire leader he once was. Physically emaciated and heartbroken beyond despair, he has been brought back to the Brotherhood by a self-serving fallen angel. Now, fighting once again with ruthless vengeance, he is unprepared to face a new kind of tragedy.
When Tohr begins to see his beloved in his dreams—trapped in a cold, isolated netherworld far from the peace and tranquillity of the Fade—he turns to the angel in hopes of saving the one he has lost. But because Lassiter tells him he must learn to love another to free his former mate, Tohr knows they are all doomed....
Except then a female with a shadowed history begins to get through to him. Against the backdrop of the raging war with the lessers, and with a new clan of vampires vying for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between the buried past and a very hot, passion-filled future…but can his heart let go and set all of them free?
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“J.R. Ward's unique band of brothers is to die for. I love this series!” — New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann
“Utterly absorbing and deliciously erotic…The Brotherhood is the hottest collection of studs in romance. I can’t wait for the next one!” — New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight
BY J. R. WARD
THE BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD SERIES
The Black Dagger Brotherhood:
An Insider’s Guide
NOVELS OF THE FALLEN ANGELS
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
DEDICATED TO: You—
it has been so long,
since you have had a home.
With immense gratitude to the readers of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and a shout-out to the Cellies!
Thank you so very much for all the support and guidance: Steven Axelrod, Kara Welsh, Claire Zion, and Leslie Gelbman. Thank you also to everyone at New American Library—these books are truly a team effort.
Thank you to all our Mods for everything you do out of the goodness of your hearts!
With love to Team Waud—you know who you are. This simply could not happen without you.
None of this would be possible without: my loving husband, who is my adviser and caretaker and visionary; my wonderful mother, who has given me so much love I couldn’t possibly ever repay her; my family (both those of blood and those by adoption); and my dearest friends.
Oh, and the better half of WriterDog, of course.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
AND PROPER NOUNS
ahstrux nohtrum (n.) Private guard with license to kill who is granted his or her position by the king.
ahvenge (v.) Act of mortal retribution, carried out typically by a male loved one.
Black Dagger Brotherhood (pr. n.) Highly trained vampire warriors who protect their species against the Lessening Society. As a result of selective breeding within the race, Brothers possess immense physical and mental strength, as well as rapid healing capabilities. They are not siblings for the most part, and are inducted into the Brotherhood upon nomination by the Brothers. Aggressive, self-reliant, and secretive by nature, they exist apart from civilians, having little contact with members of the other classes except when they need to feed. They are the subjects of legend and objects of reverence within the vampire world. They may be killed only by the most serious of wounds, e.g., a gunshot or stab to the heart, etc.
blood slave (n.) Male or female vampire who has been subjugated to serve the blood needs of another. The practice of keeping blood slaves has recently been outlawed.
the Chosen (pr. n.) Female vampires who have been bred to serve the Scribe Virgin. They are considered members of the aristocracy, though they are spiritually rather than temporally focused. They have little or no interaction with males, but can be mated to Brothers at the Scribe Virgin’s direction to propagate their class. Some have the ability to prognosticate. In the past, they were used to meet the blood needs of unmated members of the Brotherhood, and that practice has been reinstated by the Brothers.
chrih (n.) Symbol of honorable death in the Old Language.
cohntehst (n.) Conflict between two males competing for the right to be a female’s mate.
Dhunhd (pr. n.) Hell.
doggen (n.) Member of the servant class within the vampire world. Doggen have old, conservative traditions about service to their superiors, following a formal code of dress and behavior. They are able to go out during the day, but they age relatively quickly. Life expectancy is approximately five hundred years.
ehros (n.) A Chosen trained in the matter of sexual arts.
exhile dhoble (n.) The evil or cursed twin, the one born second.
the Fade (pr. n.) Nontemporal realm where the dead reunite with their loved ones and pass eternity.
First Family (pr. n.) The king and queen of the vampires, and any children they may have.
ghardian (n.) Custodian of an individual. There are varying degrees of ghardians, with the most powerful being that of a sehcluded female.
glymera (n.) The social core of the aristocracy, roughly equivalent to Regency England’s ton.
hellren (n.) Male vampire who has been mated to a female. Males may take more than one female as mate.
leahdyre (n.) A person of power and influence.
leelan (adj.) A term of endearment loosely translated as “dearest one.”
Lessening Society (pr. n.) Order of slayers convened by the Omega for the purpose of eradicating the vampire species.
lesser (n.) De-souled human who targets vampires for extermination as a member of the Lessening Society. Lessers must be stabbed through the chest in order to be killed; otherwise they are ageless. They do not eat or drink and are impotent. Over time, their hair, skin, and irises lose pigmentation until they are blond, blushless, and pale eyed. They smell like baby powder. Inducted into the Society by the Omega, they retain a ceramic jar thereafter into which their heart was placed after it was removed.
lewlhen (n.) Gift.
lheage (n.) A term of respect used by a sexual submissive to refer to her dominant.
Lhenihan (pr. n.) A mythic beast renown for its sexual prowess. In modern slang, refers to a male of preternatural size and sexual stamina.
lys (n.) Torture tool used to remove the eyes.
mahmen (n.) Mother. Used both as an identifier and a term of affection.
mhis (n.) The masking of a given physical environment; the creation of a field of illusion.
nalla (n., f.) or nallum (n., m.) Beloved.
needing period (n.) Female vampire’s time of fertility, generally lasting for two days and accompanied by intense sexual cravings. Occurs approximately five years after a female’s transition and then once a decade thereafter. All males respond to some degree if they are around a female in her need. It can be a dangerous time, with conflicts and fights breaking out between competing males, particularly if the female is not mated.
newling (n.) A virgin.
the Omega (pr. n.) Malevolent, mystical figure who has targeted the vampires for extinction out of resentment directed toward the Scribe Virgin. Exists in a nontemporal realm and has extensive powers, though not the power of creation.
phearsom (adj.) Term referring to the potency of a male’s sexual organs. Literal translation something close to “worthy of entering a female.”
princeps (n.) Highest level of the vampire aristocracy, second only to members of the First Family or the Scribe Virgin’s Chosen. Must be born to the title; it may not be conferred.
pyrocant (n.) Refers to a critical weakness in an individual. The weakness can be internal, such as an addiction, or external, such as a lover.
rahlman (n.) Savior.
rythe (n.) Ritual manner of assuaging honor granted by one who has offended another. If accepted, the offended chooses a weapon and strikes the offender, who presents him- or herself without defenses.
the Scribe Virgin (pr. n.) Mystical force who is counselor to the king as well as the keeper of vampire archives and the dispenser of privileges. Exists in a nontemporal realm and has extensive powers. Capable of a single act of creation, which she expended to bring the vampires into existence.
sehclusion (n.) Status conferred by the king upon a female of the aristocracy as a result of a petition by the female’s family. Places the female under the sole direction of her ghardian, typically the eldest male in her household. Her ghardian then has the legal right to determine all manner of her life, restricting at will any and all interactions she has with the world.
shellan (n.) Female vampire who has been mated to a male. Females generally do not take more than one mate due to the highly territorial nature of bonded males.
symphath (n.) Subspecies within the vampire race characterized by the ability and desire to manipulate emotions in others (for the purposes of an energy exchange), among other traits. Historically, they have been discriminated against and, during certain eras, hunted by vampires. They are near extinction.
the Tomb (pr. n.) Sacred vault of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Used as a ceremonial site as well as a storage facility for the jars of lessers. Ceremonies performed there include inductions, funerals, and disciplinary actions against Brothers. No one may enter except for members of the Brotherhood, the Scribe Virgin, or candidates for induction.
trahyner (n.) Word used between males of mutual respect and affection. Translated loosely as “beloved friend.”
transition (n.) Critical moment in a vampire’s life when he or she transforms into an adult. Thereafter, he or she must drink the blood of the opposite sex to survive and is unable to withstand sunlight. Occurs generally in the mid-twenties. Some vampires do not survive their transitions, males in particular. Prior to their transitions, vampires are physically weak, sexually unaware and unresponsive, and unable to dematerialize.
vampire (n.) Member of a species separate from that of Homo sapiens. Vampires must drink the blood of the opposite sex to survive. Human blood will keep them alive, though the strength does not last long. Following their transitions, which occur in their mid-twenties, they are unable to go out into sunlight and must feed from the vein regularly. Vampires cannot “convert” humans through a bite or transfer of blood, though they are in rare cases able to breed with the other species. Vampires can dematerialize at will, though they must be able to calm themselves and concentrate to do so and may not carry anything heavy with them. They are able to strip the memories of humans, provided such memories are short-term. Some vampires are able to read minds. Life expectancy is upward of a thousand years, or in some cases even longer.
wahlker (n.) An individual who has died and returned to the living from the Fade. They are accorded great respect and are revered for their travails.
whard (n.) Equivalent of a godfather or godmother to an individual.
“The quick and the dead are all the same.
Everyone’s just looking for home.”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
“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....
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