Home > The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(13)

The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(13)
Author: J.R. Ward

“Qhuinn, whatever it is, we’ll deal with it—”

That mismatched stare flicked to him for only a split second. “Oh, we will? You mean the fact that she’s been consorting with the enemy is just something we can OxiClean out or some shit? Great, let’s call fucking Fritz in on this. Fan-fucking-tastic idea.”

As the young continued to cry, and more people came onto the scene out in the corridor, Blay shook his head. “What are you talking about?”

“She took my young with her when she fucked him—”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“She’s been with Xcor all along. She didn’t stop seeing him. She’s been consorting with a known enemy of our King while she was pregnant with my young. So yes, it’s absolutely within my rights as a sire to pull a gun on her.”

Abruptly, Blay became aware of a growl rising up behind him, and the horrible sound of it reminded him of what he’d heard about the female of the species being more deadly than the male. Glancing over his shoulder, he thought … yup, Layla was clearly prepared to protect her young to the death in this fucked-up parallel universe they’d somehow gotten sucked into.

Xcor? She’d been seeing Xcor?

Except he couldn’t be sidetracked from the immediate threat.

“All I care about is that you put the gun down,” Blay said evenly. “Put the gun down and tell me what’s going on. Otherwise, if you want to shoot her, the bullet’s going to have to go through me.”

Qhuinn took a deep breath, like he was having to force himself not to scream. “I love you, but this is not your business, Blay. Get out of the way and let me deal with this.”

“Wait a minute. You’ve always said I’m the father of these young, too—”

“Not when it comes down to this. Now get the fuck out of the way.”

Blay blinked once. Twice. A third time. Funny, the ache in his chest made him wonder if Qhuinn hadn’t pulled the trigger and he’d somehow missed the discharge.

Stay focused, he told himself. “No, I’m not moving.”

“Get out of here!” Qhuinn’s body started to tremble. “Just get the fuck out of my way!”

Now or never, Blay thought as he lunged forward and went for the wrist that controlled the gun. As he punched that forearm away with everything he was worth, the weapon discharged repeatedly, and lead slugs went flying—but with a powerful shift, he managed to tackle Qhuinn to the side. The pair of them went down hard to the floor, and he fought to dominate his mate, his momentum rolling the pair of them away from Layla and the young while keeping that gun pointed into the far corner of the room.

Blay ended up on top, but he knew Qhuinn was going to fix that quick. The gun, he had to maintain control of the—

All of a sudden, it was arctic time.

The temperature in the bedroom dropped to below zero so fast that the walls, floor, and ceiling creaked in protest, everyone’s breath coming out in puffs, condensation frosting the glass on the windows and the mirrors, any exposed skin goose-bumping up.

A great roar was next.

The sound was so loud that it was nearly inaudible, nothing but a pain that pierced through the eardrum and made your head go cathedral bell—and that, even more than the climate change, stopped everyone in the suite, in the hall, in the mansion … maybe in the world.

Wrath’s enormous body dwarfed the doorjamb as he entered the bedroom, his waist-length hair, his black wraparounds, his leather-clad thighs and bulging upper body the kind of thing that would have halted a train in its tracks.

His fangs were fully descended and long as a saber-toothed tiger’s. But he had no trouble talking around them.

“Not in my fucking house!” He was so loud that the painting next to him vibrated on the plaster wall. “This is not happening in my fucking house! My shellan and my son are here—there are young under this roof. There are young in this fucking room!”

Across the way, Layla collapsed onto the floor, her bones absorbing the fall with a loud clatter. She kept Lyric and Rhamp from harm, though, cradling them in her lap, while she dropped her head and began to weep.

Underneath Blay, Qhuinn tried to shove his way free.

“Not till you let go of the gun,” Blay gritted out.

There was a metal-on-wood clatter as the forty was released and Blay shoved it away. Then Qhuinn broke free and popped up on his shitkickers. He looked like he’d been in a wind tunnel, his black hair all messed up, his eyes peeled wide, his skin flushed in some places, stark white in others.

“Everyone out of here,” Wrath snapped, “except for the three parents.”

Well, at least someone was recognizing his role, Blay thought bitterly.

Shifting his eyes back to Qhuinn, he found himself staring across the chaos at a male he thought he knew nearly as well as himself.

At the moment, however? Blay was looking at a stranger. A total frickin’ stranger. Eyes that Blay had peered into for hours, lips that he had kissed, a body that he had touched, caressed, entered and been entered by … it was like some kind of amnesia had wiped all of their togetherness away, rendering what had once been an intimate reality into a hypothetical that was so dim, it was nonexistent.

Vishous stepped forward into the room. “Weapons check first.”

As Wrath’s upper lip twitched, it was clear he didn’t appreciate the interruption. There was no arguing with the logic, though.

V was efficient about the pat-down, stripping Qhuinn first of a couple of knives and another handgun—and then Blay got up, lifted his arms, and spread his legs even though he knew no one was worried about his trigger finger.

“Done,” V announced as he squeezed by the King and went back out into the hall.

“Tell them to get gone,” Wrath snapped.

“Roger that.”

At the royal command, the crowd disappeared from the doorway, but they didn’t go far, their presences lingering as they clearly waited for an aftershock or two. In any event, there was no closing the door. The thing was splintered into a sieve.

Turning in Qhuinn’s direction, Wrath let out a curse, and then demanded, “You want to tell me why in the fuck you discharged a firearm in my house?”


As Layla looked up at the three males, she was shaking so badly it was hard to keep her upper body off the floor. What gave her the little strength she had? Lyric and Rhamp were in her lap, the folds of her robe enveloping them and protecting them from the cold in the room, their cries silenced—for now.

Focusing on the King, she wanted to wipe her eyes, but she wasn’t letting go of her young for even a second.

“She’s been seeing Xcor,” Qhuinn said, his breath coming in clouds of white. “Behind our backs. This whole time—while she was pregnant. I want her stripped of her rights to see my young, and I want her out of this house. Whether it’s because she’s been sentenced to death or because she’s been banished … that’s for you to decide.”

Wrath’s cruel and aristocratic face cranked in the Brother’s direction. “Thank you for carving out my role in this, asshole. And if you’re talking banishment, right now it’s you I’m debating that over, not her.”

“You try finding out that Beth has been sleeping with the leader of the Band of Bastards while she’s—”

“Watch yourself,” Wrath snarled. “You’re walking a line here that you’re about to fall the fuck off of. In fact, get out. I want to talk to Layla alone.”

“I’m not leaving my young.”

The King glanced at Blay. “Take him out of here. In a choke hold if you have to—”

“I have rights!” Qhuinn yelled. “I have—”

Wrath jacked forward on his hips. “You have only what I fucking grant you! I am your master, fucker, so shut the hell up, get out of this room, and I’ll deal with you when I’m good and goddamned ready. I understand that you’re up in your head. I’d even be able to respect it if you didn’t keep behaving like you run the world. But right now, my only concern is your young, because clearly, they’re not on your radar—”

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