heard members of the Brotherhood were almost a separate species, but she’d
never thought that was true. Until now. Those two males were not just
colossal on a physical scale, they radiated dominance and aggression.
Hell, they made her brother look like an amateur in the hard-ass department
and Rehvenge was the toughest thing she’d ever come across.
Dear God, what had she done in bringing Mary and John here? She was a
little less concerned for the boy, but what about Mary? The way that blonde
warrior had acted around her was flat-out trouble. You could have boiled
an ocean with the kind of lust he’d thrown off and members of the
Black Dagger Brotherhood were not used to being denied. From what she’d
heard, when they wanted a female, they took her.
Thankfully, they weren’t known to rape, although going by what she’d
seen just now, they wouldn’t have to. Those warrior’s bodies
were made for sex. Mating with one of them, being possessed by all that
strength, would be an extraordinary experience.
Although Mary, as a human, might very well not feel that way.
Bella looked up and down the hall, restless, tense. There was no one around,
and if she had to stand still any longer, she was going to have a head
full of cornrows. She shook out her hair and picked a random direction
to meander. When she caught the sound of a rhythmic pounding in the distance,
she followed the thumping to a pair of metal doors. She opened one side
and walked through.
The gymnasium was the size of a pro-basketball court, its wooden floor
varnished to a high gloss with bright blue mats laid out here and there.
Caged, fluorescent lights dangled from the high ceiling and a balcony
with stadium seating jutted out on the left. Beneath the overhang, a series
of punching bags was strung up.
A magnificent male was beating the crap out of one of them, his back to
her. Dancing on the balls of his feet, light as a breeze, he threw punch
after punch, ducking, hitting, driving the heavy bag forward with his
force so the thing hung at an angle.
She couldn’t see his face, but he had to be attractive. His skull-trimmed
hair was light brown and he wore a skin-tight, black turtleneck and a
pair of loose, black nylon workout pants. A holster criss-crossed over
his broad back.
The door clicked shut behind her.
With a swipe of his arm, the male whipped a black-bladed dagger out and
buried it into the bag. He ripped the thing open, sand and padding pouring
down in a rush onto the mat. And then he spun around.
Bella clapped a hand over her mouth. His face was scarred, as if someone
had tried to cut it in half with a knife. The thick line started at his
forehead, went down the bridge of his nose and curved over his cheek.
It ended at the side of his mouth, distorting his upper lip.
Narrowed eyes, black and cold as the water in Mary’s pool last night,
took her in and then widened ever so slightly. He seemed nonplussed, his
big body unmoving save for the deep breaths he took.
The male wanted her, she thought. And was unsure what to do about it.
Except just like that, the speculation and odd confusion were buried.
What took their place was an icy anger that scared the hell out of her.
Keeping her eyes on him, she backed into the door and pumped the release
bar. When she go nowhere, she had a feeling he was trapping her inside.
The male watched her struggle for a moment and then came after her. As
he stalked across the mats, he flipped his dagger into the air and caught
it by the handle. Flipped it up, snatched it back. Up and down.
“Don’t know what you’re doing here,” he said in
a low voice. “Other than fucking up my workout.”
As those eyes went over her face and body, his hostility was palpable,
but he was also throwing off raw heat, a kind of sexual menace she really
shouldn’t have been captivated by.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know...”
“Didn’t know what, female?”
God, he was so close now. And he was so much bigger than her.
She bummed up against the door. “I’m sorry-”
The male flattened his hands onto the metal on either side of her head.
She eyed the knife he was holding, but then forgot all about the weapon
as he leaned into her. He stopped just before their bodies touched, his
Abruptly, the confusion came back to his face, as if he didn't understand
what he was feeling.
He looked her over, an odd frown on his face.
In the electric silence between them, Bella took a deep breath, smelling
him. His scent was more like a fire in her nose than anything she could
name. And she responded to it, warming, wanting.
“You’re sorry,” he said, titling his head to the side
and focusing on her neck. When he smiled, his fangs were long and very
white, but his anger came back. “Yeah, I bet you are.”
“I am very sorry.”
“So prove it.”
“How?” she croaked.
“Get on your hands and knees. I’ll take your apology from
A door on the other side of the gymnasium burst open.
“Zsadist! Let her go!” Another male, this one with a long
head of hair, jogged across the vast floor. “Let her go, Z.”
The scarred male leaned down to her, putting that misshapen mouth close
to her ear.
Something pressed into her sternum, over her heart. His fingertip.
“You just got saved, female.”
He stepped around her and went out the door, just as the other male came
up to her.
“Are you okay?”
Bella eyed the decimated punching bag. She couldn’t seem to breathe
although whether that was from fear or something altogether sexual, she
wasn’t sure. Probably a combination of both.
“Yes, I think so. Who was that?”
The male opened the door and led her back to the interrogation room without
answering her question. “Do yourself a favor and stay here, okay?”
Good advice, she thought, as she was left by herself.
Excerpt Two: From LOVER ETERNAL, Rhage's book.
When we see Rhage and Mary, Mary knows him as
Hal E. Wood and is unaware he's a vampire…
Four a.m. There’d be no going back to sleep. Mary pulled a fleece
on over her T-shirt and boxers and went downstairs. On her way to the
kitchen, she turned on every light switch she passed until all the dark
corners in the house were illuminated.
Destination: her coffee pot. There was no question that answering some
office email and getting ready for the break of Columbus Day weekend was
better than laying in bed and counting the hours to dawn.
She filled the Krups machine with water and went into the cupboard for
the coffee can. It was nearly empty so she took out her back up supply
and the hand held can opener and -
She was not alone.
Mary leaned forward, looking out the window above the sink. With no exterior
lights on, she couldn’t see anything so she went around to the slider
and flipped the switch next to the door.
A massive black shape was on the other side of the glass.
Mary scrambled for the phone, but stopped when she saw the flash of blonde
Hal lifted his hand in greeting.
“Hey.” His voice was muffled through the glass.
Mary wrapped her arms around her stomach. “What are you doing here?”
His wide shoulders shrugged. “Wanted to see you.”
“Why? And why now?”
Another shrug. “Seemed like a good idea.”
“Are you deranged?”
She almost smiled. And then reminded herself that she had no close neighbors
and he was practically the size of her house.
“How did you find me?” Maybe Bella had told him where she
“Can I come in? Or maybe you could come out if you’d feel
more comfortable that way?”
“Hal, it’s four-thirty in the morning.”
“I know. But you’re awake and so am I.”
God, he was so big in all that black leather, and with his face mostly
in shadow, he was more menacing than beautiful.
And she was actually considering opening the door? Clearly, she was also
“Look, Hal, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
He stared at her through the glass. “Maybe we can just talk this
Mary stared at him, dumbfounded. The guy was willing to hang around, locked
out of her house like a criminal, just so they could chat?
“Hal, no offense, but there are about a hundred thousand women in
this zip code who would not only let you into their homes, but would take
you to bed. Why don’t you go find one of them and leave me alone?”
“They aren’t you.”
The darkness falling across his face made his eyes impossible to read.
But his tone of voice was so damn sincere.
In the long pause that followed, she tried to convince herself not to
let him inside.
“Mary, if I wanted to hurt you, I could do it in an instant. You
could lock every door and every window and I’d still get inside.
All I want is... to talk to you some more.”
She eyed the width of his shoulders. He had a point about the breaking
and entering. And she had a feeling that if she told him the best she
could do was a closed door between them, he would pull up one of her lawn
chairs and sit down on the terrace.
She unlatched the slider, opened it, and stepped back. “Just explain
something to me.”
He smiled tightly as he came in. “Shoot.”
“Why aren’t you with a woman who wants you?” Hal flinched.
“What I mean is, those women tonight at the restaurant, they were
all over you. Why aren’t you having...” Crazy hot sex. “Er-
fun with one of them?”
“I’d rather be here talking with you than inside one of those
She recoiled at little at his candor, and then realized he wasn’t
being crude, just bluntly honest.
Well, at least she had one thing right. When he’d walked away after
that soft kiss, she’d assumed it was because he hadn’t felt
any heat. Evidently, she’d hit the nail on the head. He wasn’t
here for sex and she told herself it was good he wasn’t lusting
after her. Almost believed it, too.
“I was about to make some coffee, would you like some?”
He nodded and started wandering around the living room, taking note of
her things. Against all of her white furniture and cream walls, his black
clothes and heavy build were ominous, but then she looked at his face.
He was wearing this silly little grin, as if he were happy just to be
inside her house. Kind of like an animal who’d been chained in the
yard and finally allowed indoors.
“You want to take off your coat?” she said.
He slid the leather from his shoulders and tossed it over to her sofa.
The thing landed with a dull thump, crushing the cushions.
What the hell was in those pockets? she wondered.
But then she looked at his body and forgot all about the stupid coat.
He was wearing a black T-shirt that showed off a powerful set of arms.
His chest was wide and well defined, his stomach tight enough so she could
see his six pack even through the shirt. His legs were long, his thighs
“Do you like what you see?” he asked in a low, quiet voice.
Excerpt Three: When Rhage and Mary first meet...
Rhage felt like holy hell as he weaved down the
corridor. Every time the beast came out of him, his vision headed off
for a little vacation, and as usual, it was taking its own sweet time
in getting back to work. And his body was whacked out, too. His legs and
arms were heavy, not exactly useless, but definitely sub-par.
And his stomach was still off. The very idea of food made him nauseous.
But he’d had it with being stuck in his room. Twelve hours flat
on his back was enough wasted time. He was going to go to the training
center’s gym, get on a recumbent bike, loosen himself up a little.
Rhage stopped, tensing. He couldn’t see much, but he knew for sure
he was not alone in the hall.
He wheeled around and pulled the figure out of a doorway, grabbing it
by the throat, forcing the body into the wall. Too late, he realized it
was a female and the high-pitched gasp shamed him. He immediately eased
up on his grip, but he didn’t let her go.
Good lord, she was a human.
What was a human doing in the brotherhood’s private compound?
“Who are you?” he demanded. “What are you doing here?”
There was no answer, just quick breathing. She was utterly terrified of
him, the smell of her fear like woodsmoke in his nose.
He softened his voice. “I’m not going to hurt you. But you
don’t belong here and I want to know your name.”
The skin under his palm was warm, soft. The throat was slender, the blood
racing through the veins running up from her heart. Her hair was a dark,
rich brown, falling over her shoulders.
“My name is Mary. I’m here with a friend.”
Rhage stopped breathing. His heart skipped a beat and then slowed.
“Say that again,” he whispered.
“Ah, my name is Mary Luce. I’m a friend of Bella’s...”
Rhage shivered, a balmy rush breaking out all over his skin. The musical
lilt of her voice, the rhythm in her speech, the sound of her words spread
through him, calmed him, comforted him.
Chained him sweetly.
He closed his eyes. “Say something else.”
“What?” she asked, obviously confused.
“Talk. Talk to me. I want to hear your voice again.”
She was silent, and he was about to beg her to speak, when she said, “You
don’t look well.
Do you need a doctor?”
He found himself swaying. The words didn’t matter so much, it was
her tone. Low, soft, a quiet brushing in his ears. He felt as if he were
being stroked on the inside of his skin.
“More,” he said, twisting his palm around to the front of
her neck so he could feel the vibrations in her throat better.
“Could you... could you please let go of me?’
“No.” He put his other hand up on her collar bone so she couldn’t
get away from him. “Talk.”
She started to struggle. “You’re crowding me.”
“I know. Talk.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, what do you want me to say?”
Even exasperated, her voice was beautiful.
“Fine. Get your hand off my throat and let me go or I’m going
to knee you where it counts.”
Then put his lower body against her, trapping her with his thighs and
hips. She stiffened against him, but he got an ample feel of her. She
was built lean, but he had no doubt she was a female.
Her breasts hit his chest, her hips cushioned his, her stomach was soft.
“Keep talking,” he said in her ear. God, she smelled good.
Clean. Fresh. Like lemon.
She pushed against him and he leaned his full weight into her. Her breath
came out in a rush.
“Please,” he murmured.
“Since you won’t let me go, I have nothing to say.”
He smiled, careful to keep his mouth closed. There was no sense showing
off his fangs. “So say that.”
“Nothing. Say nothing. Over and over and over again. Do it.”
She bristled, the scent of fear replaced by a sharp spice, like fresh,
pungent mint from a garden. She was annoyed now.
“Fine. Nothing. Nothing.” Suddenly, she laughed and the sound
shot right through to his spine, burning him. “Nothing, nothing.
No-thing. No-thing. Noooooothing. There, is that good enough for you?
Will you let me go now?”
She fought against him so more, creating a delicious friction between
And he knew the moment when her anxiety and irritation turned to something
hot. He smelled her arousal, a lovely sweetening in the air. His body
answered her call, his hips moving in a circle, rubbing against her.
He was hard as a diamond.
Her hands flattened on his waist and slowly slid around to his back, as
if she were unsure why she was responding to him the way she was. He arched
against her and felt her palms move up his spine.
Rhage growled low in his throat and dropped his head down so his ear was
next to her mouth. He wanted to give her another word to say, something
like luscious or whisper or strawberry.
Hell, antidisestablishmentarianism would do it.
The effect she had on him was drug-like, a tantalizing combination of
sexual need and profound ease. Like he was having an orgasm and falling
into a peaceful sleep at the same time. It was like nothing he’d
ever felt before.
A chill shot through him, sucking out the warmth in his body.
He snapped his head back as he thought about the warning Vicious had given
“Are you a virgin?” Rhage demanded.
“I beg your pardon. What kind of question is that?” She shoved
hard against his body.
Anxiety tightened his hand on her collar bone. “Have you ever been
taken by a male? Answer the question.”
Her lovely voice turned high, frightened. “Yes. Yes, I’ve
had... a lover.”
Disappointment loosened his grip. But relief was right on its heels.
All things considered, he wasn’t sure he needed to meet his destiny
this ten minutes.
Besides, even if she wasn’t his fate, this human female was extraordinary...
Something he had to have for himself.
Excerpts from LOVER ETERNAL by J.R. Ward, all rights reserved.
Published by Signet Eclipse
Publication Date: March 7, 2006
© Copyright 2006 by Jessica Bird
All Rights Reserved