Home > Prisoner of Night (Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5)(6)

Prisoner of Night (Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5)(6)
Author: J.R. Ward

Unlike those voice-box-less males, she clearly did not want to shock him, and he had to give her credit for that. She would do it if he made her, however. Something about her brother . . . and the beloved—

All at once, focus returned to him.

Nothing like revenge as an existential palate cleanser.

Yes, he thought. He would take her to the beloved. What happened after that, however, was going to be up to him, not Chalen.

Duran’s body moved before he ordered it to, his arms and legs breaking out into a run, his bare feet slapping across the planks before splashing through puddles and pounding over slick rocks. The car he did not recognize as a car came up to him, not the other way around, some distortion of reality shredding the dimensions of the courtyard and drawing the hunk of gas-driven metal right into his face.

There was a chunking sound and the interior lights came on.

“Get in the back.” The female opened the rear door for him. “Get in.”

Duran dove into the interior, his wet skin sliding on leather until his head jammed into the opposite door, a jarring halt to his momentum. Tucking his legs up, the female shut him in and jumped behind the wheel.

They were off in a blink, and he braced a foot and a hand to keep himself from becoming a fish in the bottom of a boat.

Herky-jerky, back and forth, and then a roar as she gunned them down some kind of coast-is-clear. The vibration of the engine and the bumps in whatever road she put them on traveled through the padded seat and into his body, magnifying aches he knew he had and some that were surprises.

And then came the nausea.

He hadn’t expected that. He’d never been one to get carsick.

Closing his eyes, he sat up and breathed through his mouth as if maybe the air moving up and down the highway of his throat was the kind of traffic that vomit couldn’t break into.

Bad idea with the lids down. He opened things and looked through the shoulders of the front seats to the female driving.

She had one arm outstretched, her hand not so much locked on the steering wheel’s curve as welded to it. Idiotically, he had a thought that he hoped her other hand was on the trigger to his collar. He wanted her to protect herself against all threats, including the one presented by an unknown naked male in her back seat who might just eat her.

After all, only he knew that he wasn’t going to hurt her—

Hadn’t she said the same thing to him? He couldn’t remember. Everything seemed like the blurred landscape rushing by the vehicle, indistinct and out of his control.

In the glow from the interior lights—which included a screen-like TV in the center of the console showing a badly imaged extacto-map of their location—her concentration was so fierce it bordered on violence, her jaw set with aggression, her eyes sharp as blades.

Like she expected a lesser to roll up onto the hood and shatter the windshield.

From time to time, she jerked her head around, but not toward him. She looked the opposite way, at the side-view mirror mounted on the outside of her door.

He wanted to ask her if anybody was coming after them, but he held off. For one, Chalen wouldn’t be so obvious if he’d sent them on the mission for his beloved. For another, enunciation of any words was going to be too close to a feather on the back of his touchy throat for him to keep the contents of his stomach where they needed to stay.

Assuming he didn’t want to mess up her back seat—

“Pull over,” he choked out.

“What?” She twisted around. “Why?”

“Pull over—”

“I’m not stopping—”

“Put the window down then!”

There was a heartbeat, and then a rush of thumping air that reminded him of getting splashed in the face with water from a well-thrown bucket. Lunging toward the opening, he squeezed his shoulders out just in time.

As he gripped the door’s edge, his gut spasmed, a great fist vising up and ushering out everything that was inside of him.

She let off on the gas as if she were being kind, but he was too busy to care.

Everything hurt, and that got worse as the sickness continued. It was as if his senses, lit up and excited by all the stimulation newly available to them, couldn’t discriminate between the pains in his body and the environment he was in. Everything was too loud, too much, too intense: Wind tunneled into his ears. Rain pelted him on one side. His throat burned like fire.

His eyes watered.

Duran told himself that last one was because of the speed at which they were going.

Some things just didn’t bear closer inspection.

When he finally retracted himself back into her vehicle, he was a shaky, cold-sweat aftermath, and he drew his legs up tight to his chest, wrapping his arms around his knees and lowering his head onto the tripod they created with his spine. He’d always been a big male, and there wasn’t enough space for all his height and weight in this position, and that was the point.

The tight squeeze made him feel like he was being held.

And not by someone who enjoyed his pain or created it as part of their fucking employment—


At first, he didn’t notice he was being addressed. But then a water bottle tapped him on the shin.

“Thank you,” he said hoarsely.

Cracking the top, he brought the opening to his lips, prepared to wash the taste out of his—

Cool, clean . . . clear.

It was the first uncontaminated water he had had since he had been hit on the head in his quarters at his father’s facility and woken up in Chalen’s castle of horrors.

Laying his head back against the seat, he closed his eyes and tried not to weep.


AHMARE KEPT CHECKING THE back. At first, it was to see if they were being followed. But then it was equally about the prisoner.

After he threw up outside of the SUV, she closed the window a little to cut the thunderous roar of air current. When she looked again, he was sitting all compacted, like a banquet table folded up for storage, his head back, the long column of his throat working as if he were about to vomit again. Hoping to help, she took a bottle of Poland Spring and gave it to him—

The scent of tears was such a shock, her foot let off on the gas once more. She couldn’t afford to stop, though. Every instinct she had was screaming, Run! Run! GTFO!

“Are you okay?” she said.

The question was a stupid one, but the words were what little ease she could offer him, a way to reach out without touch, a connection that didn’t require her to get too close.

The distance wasn’t just because he was a dangerous stranger: She didn’t have to be a genius to know Chalen was more likely to screw her and kill her brother than be a stand-up gangster and keep his side of their new bargain. Still, she had to work with what they’d agreed to, and he wanted this “weapon” of his back.

The last thing she needed was to bond with another source of chaos, pain . . . mortality. And yet this “caged animal” she’d been so terrified by wasn’t looking very “animal” anymore. He was coming across as incredibly mortal . . . and fundamentally broken. Fragile, in spite of his incredible physical strength.

The fall-apart happening in her back seat was a shock. She’d assumed she’d have to be one eye on the road and one eye on the prisoner, playing a game of Bad Idea Blackjack between whoever Chalen sent on their tail and the predator in her car.

Not where she’d ended up. And probably the only surprise so far that didn’t work against her.

“I need to ask,” she said more loudly. “Where are we going? You’re going to have to tell me.”

The prisoner put an arm over his face and made like he was wiping sweat off his brow even though they both knew that wasn’t what he was doing. He was getting rid of the tears. Then he leveled his head. As his grim stare met hers in the rearview, she looked to the road and hoped she had some sign to focus on. Maybe a deer to swerve around.

Those bloodshot, watery eyes of his were like a black hole sucking her in.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“Damned if I know,” she muttered as she looked at the nav screen.

That wasn’t exactly true, but apparently her brain decided to answer that one on an existential level.

“The highway’s not far,” she told him. “You’ve got a choice of north or south.”

With a groan, he unpacked his proverbial suitcase, unfolding arms and legs and sitting forward to focus on the screen. Her body moved itself away, pressing into her door, and even though she tried to hide the shift, he must have noted it because he backed off a little, giving her room.

God, he was so damn big. Then again, she had been working around humans at various gyms for the last two years and even the larger males of that species weren’t anywhere near his size. Was he of aristocratic blood? The Scribe Virgin’s breeding plan, the one that had created the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the glymera, had mandated matings between the strongest males and the smartest females—and even though that had been eons and eons ago, remnants of it still walked the earth.

And threw up down the quarter panels of Ford Explorers.

“We want west,” he announced. “So stay on this road.”

“How far do we go?”

“I’ll tell you. Do you need gas? I can’t tell by all that stuff on your dashboard.”

She glanced at the tank reading. “We have just about three-quarters.”

“That’ll be enough.” He sat all the way back. “Is there anyone behind us?”

“Not that I can tell. But who knows.”

“He’ll send guards. He’s been trying to find this destination for—” The prisoner frowned. “What year is it? I know you told me, but I can’t remember what you said.”

When she gave him the answer again, he looked away, to the darkened window beside him.

“How long did he have you down there?” she asked.

She would have preferred not to go there. She wanted to use him for what she needed, get that female, and go back to Caldwell with Ahlan safe. Details were bad. Connection was bad. Seeing him as anything other than a tool was bad.

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