Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 2)

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9780451218049: Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 2)

From #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward comes the second novel in the blockbuster Black Dagger Brotherhood series....

 
“THE HOTTEST COLLECTION OF STUDS IN ROMANCE. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE!”—New York Times Bestselling Author Angela Knight
 
Within the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Rhage is the warrior vampire with the strongest appetites. He's the deadliest fighter, the most voracious lover, the quickest to act on his impulses. He's also been cursed with two hundred years of hell. Possessed by a beast, he lives in fear of the times when his inner dragon comes out and he's a danger to everyone around him.
 
Mary Luce has unwittingly found herself in the vampire world, and under Rhage's protection. With her own life-threatening curse to bear, she's not looking for love. Besides, she's stopped believing in saving grace and miracles long ago. But when Rhage's intense sexual attraction turns into emotional bonding, he knows he must have her for his mate. As their enemies close in, Mary finds herself praying for something she fears she’ll never have: life eternal with the one she loves.

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About the Author:

J. R. Ward is the author of more than twenty previous novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood. She is also the author of the Black Dagger Legacy series, and The Bourbon Kings. There are more than fifteen million copies of Ward’s novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-five different countries around the world.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise for USA Today bestselling author
J. R. Ward’s dazzling debut
Dark Lover
The first novel in the Black Dagger
Brotherhood series

“A fabulous treat for romance readers!”

—Nicole Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Fantasy

“An awesome, instantly addictive debut novel. It’s a midnight whirlwind of dangerous characters and mesmerizing erotic romance. The Black Dagger Brotherhood owns me now. Dark fantasy lovers, you just got served.”

—Lynn Viehl, USA Today bestselling author of Private Demon

“It’s not easy to find a new twist on the vampire myth, but Ward succeeds beautifully. This dark and compelling world is filled with enticing romance as well as perilous adventure. With myriad possibilities to choose from, the Black Dagger Brotherhood series promises tons of thrills and chills.”

—Romantic Times (4½ stars, Top Pick)

“Even if you are so over vamps, think there is no new way to tell a story, or need a break from the same old thing, pick this one up! If you read only one paranormal this year, make it Dark Lover.”

—All About Romance

“This is the first installment in what promises to be a spectacular new series. Ms. Ward has created an edgy, dangerous, and sexy band of brothers that will rock your world.... If Dark Lover is any indication of what readers have in store, Ms. Ward will have us begging for more. Lovers of the genre will not want to miss this talented new author!”

—The Best Reviews

LOVER ETERNAL

A Novel of the Black
Dagger Brotherhood

J. R. Ward


A SIGNET ECLIPSE BOOK


Acknowledgments

Glossary of Terms and Proper Nouns


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-one

Chapter Forty-two

Chapter Forty-three

Chapter Forty-four

Chapter Forty-five

Chapter Forty-six

Chapter Forty-seven

Chapter Forty-eight

Chapter Forty-nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-one

Acknowledgments

With immense gratitude to the readers of the Black
Dagger Brotherhood.
Without you, the brothers wouldn’t have a home on
the page.


Thank you so very much:
Karen Solem, Kara Cesare, Claire Zion, Kara Welsh,
Rose Hilliard.


With love to my family and friends,
and with continued reverence for my
Executive Committee:
Sue Grafton, Dr. Jessica Andersen, Betsey Vaughan.

Glossary of Terms and Proper Nouns

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 the 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 largely been discontinued, though it has not been outlawed.

 

the Chosen (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. They have the ability to prognosticate. In the past, they were used to meet the blood needs of unmated members of the brotherhood, but that practice has been abandoned by the brothers.

 

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.

 

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.

 

hellren (n.) Male vampire who has been mated to a female. Males may take more than one female as mate.

 

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 as a member of the Lessening Society targets vampires for extermination. 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

transition (n.) Critical moment in a vampire’s life when he or she transforms into an adult. Thereafter, they must drink the blood of the opposite sex to survive and are 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.

Chapter One

“Ah, hell, V, you’re killing me.” Butch O’Neal mined through his sock drawer, looking for black silk, finding white cotton.

No, wait. He pulled out one dress sock. Not exactly a triumph.

“If I were killing you, cop, footwear’d be the last thing on your mind.”

Butch glanced over at his roommate. His fellow Red Sox fan. His...well, one of his two best friends.

Both of whom, as it turned out, happened to be vampires.

Fresh from the shower, Vishous had a towel wrapped around his waist, his chest muscles and thick arms out on display. He was pulling on a black leather driving glove, covering up his tattooed left hand.

“Do you have to go for my dress blacks?”

V grinned, fangs flashing in the midst of his goatee. “They feel good.”

“Why don’t you ask Fritz to get you some?”

“He’s too busy feeding your jones for clothes, man.”

Okay, so maybe Butch had recently gotten in touch with his inner Versace, and who’ve thought he’d had it in him, but how hard could it be to get an extra dozen silkies in the house?

“I’ll ask him for you.”

“Aren’t you a gentleman.” V pushed back his dark hair. The tattoos at his left temple made an appearance and then were covered up again. “You need the Escalade tonight?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Butch stuffed his feet into Gucci loafers, bareback.

“So you’re going to see Marissa?”

Butch nodded. “I need to know. One way or the other.”

And he had a feeling it was going to be the other.

“She’s a good female.”

She sure the hell was, which was probably why she wasn’t returning his calls. Ex-cops who liked Scotch weren’t exactly good relationship material for women, human or vampire. And the fact that he wasn’t one of her kind didn’t help the situation.

“Well, cop, Rhage and I’ll be throwing back a few at One Eye. You come and find us when you’re done—”

Banging, like someone was hitting the front door with a battering ram, brought their heads around.

V hiked up the towel. “Goddamn it, flyboy is going to have to learn how to use a doorbell.”

“You try talking to him. He doesn’t listen to me.”

“Rhage doesn’t listen to anyone.” V jogged down the hall.

As the thundering dried up, Butch went over to his ever-expanding tie collection. He chose a pale blue Brioni, popped the collar of his white button-down, and slipped the silk around his neck. As he strolled out to the living room, he could hear Rhage and V talking over 2Pac’s “RU still down?”.

Butch had to laugh. Man, his life had taken him to a lot of places, most of them ugly, but he’d never thought he’d end up living with six warrior vampires. Or being on the fringes of their fight to protect their dwindling, hidden species. Somehow, though, he belonged with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he and Vishous and Rhage were an awesome threesome.

Rhage lived in the mansion across the courtyard with the rest of the Brotherhood, but the troika hung out in the gatehouse, where V and Butch crashed. The Pit, as the place was now known, was sweet digs compared to the hovels Butch had lived in. He and V had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a galley kitchen, and a living room that was decorated in a win-some, postmodern, Frat-House-Basement style: a pair of leather couches, plasma-screen high-def TV, foosball table, gym bags everywhere.

As Butch stepped into the main room, he got a load of Rhage’s ensemble for the night: Black leather trench coat fell from his shoulders to his ankles. Black wife-beater was tucked into leathers. Shitkickers topped him out at six-eight or so. In the getup, the vampire was flat-out, drop-dead gorgeous. Even to a certified hetero like Butch.

The son of a bitch actually bent the laws of physics, he was so attractive. Blond hair was cut short in the back and left longer in the front. Teal-blue eyes were the color of Bahamas seawater. And that face made Brad Pitt look like a candidate for The Swan.

But he was no mama’s boy, in spite of being a charmer. Something dark and lethal seethed behind the flashy exterior, and you knew it the minute you saw him. He gave off the vibe of a guy who’d smile while he set the record straight with his fists, even if he was spitting his own teeth out while he took care of business.

“What’s doing, Hollywood?” Butch asked.

Rhage smiled, revealing a splendid set of pearlies with those long canines. “Time to go out, cop.”

“Damn, vampire, didn’t you get enough last night? That redhead looked like serious stuff. And so did her sister.”

“You know me. Always hungry.”

Yeah, well, fortunately for Rhage, there was a...

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