Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6) - J.R. Ward
Twenty-five years, three months, four days, eleven hours, eight minutes, and thirty-four seconds
ago . . .
TIME WAS NOT, in fact, a draining loss into the infinite. Up until the very second of the
present, it was malleable, not fixed. Clay, not concrete.
Which was something for which the Omega was grateful. If time had been fixed, he would not
be holding his newborn son in his arms.
Children had never been his goal. And yet in this moment, he was transformed.
“Is the mother dead?” he asked as his Fore-lesser came down the stairs. Funny, if you had
asked the slayer what year he thought it was, he would have said 1983. And he would have
been correct, in a way.
The Fore-lesser nodded. “She didn’t survive the birth.”
“Vampires rarely do. It’s one of their few virtues.” And in this case apropos. Killing the mother
after she had served him so well seemed ungracious.
“What do you want me to do with her body?”
The Omega watched as his son reached out and grabbed hold of his thumb. The grip was
strong. “How odd.”
It was hard to put into words what he was feeling. Or perhaps that was the point. He hadn’t
expected to feel anything.
His son was supposed to be a defensive reaction to the the Destroyer Prophecy, a calculated
response in the war against the vampires, a strategy to ensure the Omega survived. His son
would do battle in a new way and kill off that race of savages before the Destroyer chipped
away at the Omega’s being until there was nothing left.
Up until this moment, the plan had been executed flaw-lessly, starting with the abduction of
the female vampire the Omega had inseminated and ending here with this new arrival in the
The infant looked up at him, budding mouth working. He smelled sweet, but not because he
was a lesser.
The Omega didn’t want to let him go, suddenly. This young in his arms was a miracle, a living,
breathing loop-hole. The Omega had not been granted the act of creation as his sister had, but
reproduction had not been denied him. He might not have been able to bring a whole new
race into being. But he could bring a part of himself forward from the genetic pool.
And he had.
“Master?” the Fore-lesser said.
He really did not want to let the baby go, but to have this work, his son had to live with the
enemy, be raised as one among them. His son had to know their language and their culture
and their ways.
His son had to know where they lived so he could go and slaughter them.
The Omega forced himself to give the infant over to his Fore-lesser. “Leave him at the
gathering place I forbade you to sack. Swaddle him and leave him, and when you return here I
shall draw you forth unto me.”
Whereupon you shall die as I so will it, the Omega finished to himself.
There could be no leaks. No mistakes.
As the Fore-lesser did some fawning, which would have interested the Omega at any other
time, the sun came up over the cornfields of Caldwell, New York. From upstairs, a soft fizzling
sound bloomed into a full-blown fire, the burning smell announcing the incineration of the
female’s body along with all the blood on that bed.
Which was just lovely. Tidiness mattered, and this farmhouse was brand-new, built especially
for the son’s birth.
“Go,” the Omega commanded. “Go and carry out your duty.”
The Fore-lesser left with the infant, and as the Omega watched the door shut, he yearned for
his offspring. Positively ached for the boy.
The solution for his angst was at hand, however. The Omega willed himself into the air and
catapulted what corporeal form he had to the “present,” to the very living room he was in.
The change in time registered in a rapid aging of the house around him. Wallpaper faded and
peeled off in lazy strips. Furniture ratted and became worn in patterns consistent with over
two decades of use. The ceiling dulled from bright white to dingy yellow, as if smokers had
been exhaling for years. Floorboards curled up at the corners of the hallway.
In the back of the house, he heard two humans arguing.
The Omega drifted down to the filthy, wilted kitchen that merely seconds ago had been shiny
as the day it had been built.
As he came into the room, the man and the woman stopped their fighting, freezing with shock.
And he got on with the tedious business of emptying the farmhouse of prying eyes.
His son was returning unto the fold. And the Omega needed to see him almost more than he
needed to put him to use.
As the evil touched the center of