Dark Lover | Chapter 13 of 67

Author: J.R. Ward | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 300561 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Three

 

Beth took a forty-five-minute shower, used half a bottle of body wash, and nearly melted the cheap wallpaper off the bathroom walls because she kept the water so hot. She dried off, threw on her bathrobe, and tried not to catch another shot of her reflection in the mirror. Her lip was a mess.

She stepped out into her cramped studio apartment. The air conditioner had died a couple of weeks ago, so the room was nearly as smothering as the bathroom. She eyed her two windows and the sliding door that led out to a wilted courtyard. She wanted to open them all, but checked the locks instead.

Even though her nerves were shot, at least her body was rebounding fast. Her appetite had returned with a vengeance, as if it were pissed at the diversion of dinner, and she went around to her galley kitchen. The chicken leftovers from four nights ago even seemed inviting, but when she cracked the foil package, she caught a whiff of sweat socks. She pitched the load and tossed a Lean Cuisine into the microwave. She ate the macaroni and cheese standing up, holding the little plastic tray in her palm with a pot holder. It wasn’t enough, didn’t even make a dent in her hunger, so she had another one.

The idea of putting on twenty pounds in one night was damned appealing; it really was. She couldn’t help the way her face looked, but she was willing to bet that Neanderthal misogynist attacker of hers preferred his victims with a tight ass.

She blinked her eyes, trying to get his face out of her mind. God, she could still feel his hands, those awful, heavy palms bruising her breasts.

She needed to file a report. She should go down to the station.

Except she didn’t want to leave her apartment. At least not until morning.

She went over to the futon she used as a couch and a bed and curled her legs in tight to her body. Her stomach was doing a slow churn job on the mac and cheese, waves of nausea followed by marching rows of shivers passing over her skin.

A soft meow brought her head up.

“Hey, Boo,” she said, wiggling her fingers listlessly. The poor guy had run for cover when she’d come through the door tearing her clothes off and throwing them across the room.

Meowing again, the black cat padded over. His wide green eyes looked worried as he leaped into her lap with grace.

“Sorry about the drama,” she murmured, making room for him.

He rubbed his head against her shoulder, purring. His body was warm, his weight grounding. She didn’t know how long she sat there stroking his fine, soft fur, but when the phone rang, she jumped.

As she reached for the receiver, she managed to keep pace with the petting. Years of living with Boo had honed her cat/phone coordination skills to perfection.

“Hello?” she said, thinking it was past midnight, which ruled out telemarketers and suggested either work or some sicko crank-calling her.

“Yo, B-lady. Get your dancing shoes on. Some guy’s car blew up outside of Screamer’s. With him in it.”

Beth closed her eyes and wanted to weep. José de la Cruz was one of the city’s police detectives, but he was also a friend of sorts.

As were most of the men and women in blue, come to think of it. Because she spent so much time at the station, she’d gotten to know them all pretty well, although José was one of her favorites

“Hey, you there?”

Tell him. Tell him what happened. Just open your mouth.

Shame and remembered horror tightened her vocal cords.

“I’m here, José.” She pushed her dark hair out of her face and cleared her throat. “I can’t come tonight.”

“Yeah, right. When you ever turn down a good tip?” He laughed easily. “Oh, but take it smooth. Hard-ass is on the case.”

Hard-ass was Homicide Detective Brian O’Neal, better known as Butch. Or just plain sir.

“I really can’t…make it tonight.”

“You getting busy with someone?” Curiosity spiked his voice. José was married. Happily. But she knew down at the station that they all speculated about her. A woman who looked like her without a man? Something had to be up. “Well, are you?”

“God, no. No.”

There was a stretch of silence as her friend’s cop radar obviously kicked in. “What’s up?”

“I’m fine. Just tired. I’ll come to the station tomorrow.”

She’d file the report then. Tomorrow she’d be strong enough to go through what had happened without breaking down.

“Do I need to do a drive-by?”

“No, but thanks. I’m okay.”

She hung up.

Fifteen minutes later she was in a pair of freshly laundered jeans and a floppy shirt that covered her butt and then some. She called for a cab. Before she left she rummaged through her closet until she found her other purse. She grabbed the pepper spray and held it hard in her hand as she stepped out of her apartment.

In the two miles between her front door and the bomb scene, she was going to find her voice. And she was going to tell José everything.

As much as she hated the idea of reliving the attack, she wasn’t going to let that asshole walk free and do the same thing to someone else. And even if he was never caught, at least she would have done her part to try to nail him.

 

Wrath materialized in the drawing room of Darius’s house.

Damn, he’d forgotten how well the vampire lived.

 

Even though D was a warrior, he had the tastes of an aristocrat and it made sense. He’d started life as a highborn princeps, and fine living was still of value to him. His nineteenth-century mansion was well cared for, filled with antiques and works of art. It was also secure as a bank vault.

But the drawing room’s soft yellow walls hurt Wrath’s eyes.

“What a pleasant surprise, my lord.”

Fritz, the butler, came in from the front hall and bowed deeply while shutting off the lights to ease Wrath’s squint. As usual, the old male was dressed in black livery. He’d been with Darius for about a hundred or so years and was a doggen, which meant he could go out in the day but aged faster than vampires did. His subspecies had been serving aristocrats and warriors for millennia.

“Will you be with us for long, my lord?”

Wrath shook his head. Not if he could help it. “Hour, tops.”

“Your room is ready. Should you need me, I am here.” Fritz bent at the waist again and walked backward out of the room, closing the double doors behind him.

Wrath went over to a seven-foot-tall portrait of what he’d been told was a French king. He put his hand on the right side of the heavy gold frame, and the canvas pivoted to reveal a dark stone hall lit with gas lamps.

Stepping inside, he took a set of stairs deep into the earth. At the bottom landing there were two doors. One went to Darius’s sumptuous quarters. The other opened to what Wrath supposed was a home away from home for him. Most days he slept in a warehouse in New York City, in an interior room made out of steel with a lock system along the lines of Fort Knox’s.

But he would never invite Marissa there. Or even any of the brothers. His privacy was precious.

As he stepped inside, candles mounted into the walls flared around the room at his will. Their golden glow barely made headway against the darkness. In deference to Wrath’s eyesight, Darius had painted the walls and twenty-foot-high ceiling black. In one corner there was a massive bed with black satin sheets and a thicket of pillows. Across the way was a leather couch, a wide-screen TV, and a door that opened into a black marble bathroom. There was also a closet full of weapons and clothes.

For some reason, Darius was always bugging him to stay at the mansion. It was a goddamned mystery. There wasn’t a defense issue, because Darius could handle himself. And the idea that a vampire like D would be lonely was ludicrous.

Wrath sensed Marissa before she came into the room. The scent of the ocean, a clean breeze, preceded her.

Let’s get this over with, he thought. He was itching to get back to the streets. He’d had only a taste of battle, and tonight he wanted to gorge himself.

He turned around.

As Marissa bowed her slight body to him, he sensed devotion and uneasiness weaving together in the air around her.

“My lord,” she said.

From what little he could see, she was wearing some kind of flowing white chiffon thing, and her long blond hair cascaded over her shoulders and down her back. He knew she dressed to try to please him, and he wished like hell she wouldn’t make the effort.

He took off his leather jacket and the chest holster he carried his daggers in.

Damn his parents. Why had they given him a female like her? So…fragile.

Then again, considering the shape he’d been in before his transition, maybe they’d worried anyone sturdier would have hurt him.

Wrath flexed his arms, his biceps curling up thick, one shoulder cracking from the force.

If they could only see him now. Their little boy had turned into a righteous, cold killer.

Probably better they were dead, he thought. They wouldn’t have approved of what he’d become.

Then again, if they’d been allowed to live into old age, he would have been different.

Marissa shifted nervously. “I’m sorry to disturb you. But I cannot wait any longer.”

Wrath headed for the bathroom. “You need me, I come.”

He turned on the water and rolled up the sleeves of his black shirt. With steam rising from the rush of the faucet, he cleaned the grime, sweat, and death from his hands. Then he worked the bar of soap up his arms, covering with suds the ritualistic tattoos that ran down the insides of his forearms. He rinsed, dried himself, and walked over to the couch. He sat and waited, grinding his teeth.

They’d been doing this for how long? Centuries. But every time it took Marissa a while before she could approach him. If it had been anyone else, his patience would have snapped within moments, but he cut her some slack.

Truth was, he felt sorry for her because she’d been forced to become his shellan. He’d told her time and again that he’d release her of their covenant, free her to find a true mate, one who would not only kill anything that threatened her, but would love her, too.

Funny thing was, Marissa wouldn’t give up on him, as fragile as she might be. He figured she probably feared no other female would have him, that none would feed the beast when he needed it and then their race would lose their strongest line. Their king. Their leader who wasn’t willing to lead.

Yeah, he was one hell of a catch. He stayed away from her unless he had to drink, which wasn’t often because of his lineage. She never knew where he was or what he was doing. She passed the long days alone in her brother’s house, sacrificing her life to keep alive the last purebred vampire, the only one with not a single drop of human blood in him.

Frankly, he didn’t know how she stood it—or him.

Abruptly, he felt like cursing. Tonight was stacking up to be a real party for his ego. Darius. Now her.

Wrath’s eyes followed her as she moved around the room, circling him, getting closer. He forced his face to relax, kept his breathing even, made his body still. This was the hardest part of being with her. He panicked at not being free to move, and he knew when she started to feed, the choking sensation would get worse.

“You have been busy, my lord?” she said softly.

He nodded, thinking that if he was lucky, he was going to get even busier before dawn came.

Marissa finally stood before him, and he could feel her hunger cutting through her uneasiness. He sensed her desire, too. She wanted him, but he blocked out that particular emotion of hers.

There was no way he was going to have sex with her. He couldn’t imagine putting Marissa through the things he’d done to other female bodies. And he’d never wanted her that way. Not even in the beginning.

“Come here,” he said, gesturing with his hand. He dropped his forearm on his thigh, wrist up. “You’re starving. You shouldn’t wait so long to call on me.”

Marissa lowered herself to the floor at his knees, her gown pooling around her body and his feet. Her fingers were warm on his skin as she softly ran her hand over his tattoos, stroking the black characters that detailed his lineage in the old language. She was close enough so he caught the movement of her mouth opening, her fangs flashing white before she sank them into his vein.

Wrath closed his eyes, laying his head back as she drank. The panic came on him fast and hard. He curled his free arm around the edge of the couch, his muscles straining as he gripped the corner to keep his body in place. Calm, he needed to stay calm. It was going to be over soon, and then he’d be free.

When Marissa lifted her head ten minutes later, he bolted upright and walked off the anxiety, feeling a sick relief that he could now move around. As soon as he had his shit together, he went over to her. She was replete, absorbing the strength that came to her as their blood mixed. He didn’t like the look of her lying on the floor, so he picked her up and was thinking about calling Fritz to take her back to her brother’s house when there was a rhythmic knock on the door.

Wrath glared across the room, carried her to the bed, and laid her down.

“Thank you, my lord,” she murmured. “I will take myself home.”

He paused. And then pulled a sheet over her legs before walking over and cracking open the door.

Fritz was all jazzed up about something.

Wrath slid outside, closing the door tight. He was about to ask what the hell would warrant the disruption when the butler’s scent permeated his irritation.

He knew without asking that death had paid another visit.

And Darius was gone.

“Master—”

“How?” he growled. The pain he would deal with later. First he needed details.

“Ah, the car…” Clearly the butler was having trouble holding it together, his voice reedy and thin as his old body. “A bomb, my lord. The car. Outside of the club. Tohrment called. He saw it happen.”

Wrath thought of the lesser he’d taken down. He wished he knew whether it had been the one who’d done the deed.

The bastards had no honor anymore. At least their precursors, going back for centuries, had fought like warriors. This new breed were cowards who hid behind technology.

“Call the brotherhood,” he ground out. “Tell them to come now.”

“Yes, of course. And master? Darius asked me to give this to you”—the butler held something out—“if you were not with him when he died.”

Wrath took the envelope and went back into the chamber, having no compassion to offer Fritz or anyone else. Marissa was gone, which was good for her.

He tucked Darius’s last missive into the waistband of his leather pants.

And let his rage out.

The candles exploded and fell to the floor as a whirlwind of viciousness swirled around him, growing tighter, faster, darker until the furniture flipped off the floor and traveled in a circle around him. He leaned back his head and roared.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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