“Sometimes in life, from out of a myriad of prosaic decisions like what to eat and where to sleep and how to dress, a true crossroads is revealed. In these moments, when the fog of relative irrelevancy lifts and fate rolls out a demand for free will, there is only left or right – no option of four-by-fouring into the underbrush between two paths, no negotiating with the choice that has been presented. You must answer the call and pick your way. And there is no reverse."

-Rehvenge

Lover Avenged is the seventh novel of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. It is preceded by Lover Enshrined and Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide. Although Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide is a compendium and can be read out of order, the included novella, Father Mine, has elements that tie into Lover Avenged and is set between Lover Enshrined and Lover Avenged. It is followed by Lover Mine and the first of the Fallen Angels series, Covet.

Fallen Angels is a separate series that takes place in the same universe as The Black Dagger Brotherhood and shares locations, lore, and characters. It takes place concurrently with the main series and each book was published between every other Black Dagger Brotherhood book from Lover Avenged and The Shadows and so each should be read according to publication date.

The story of The Black Dagger Brotherhood continues with the soldier training program and the ongoing war with the Lessening Society. It expands into the world of the sympaths, a subspecies of vampire, with the story of Rehvenge.

Synopsis

Caldwell, NY, has long been the battleground for the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed.

His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood.

Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood, even though his sister is married to a member. Because he’s a sympath, his identity is a deadly secret- the revelation of which will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world- Elhena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him- and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

Main Characters

Other Characters

Black Dagger Brotherhood Members

Others - Speaking Roles

Mentioned or Non-Speaking Roles

Plot

Readers should be aware that this book contains references to suicidal ideations.

Chapter 1

A ranking member of the Princeps Council, Montrag, meets with Rehvenge to convince Rehvenge to assassinate the King. In the aftermath of the raids, the glymera is suffering severe financial losses, and Montrag feels that he could take over and turn the race into a democracy; only the Princeps Council would be eligible to vote, of course, since the uneducated, unwashed masses can't be trusted with voting power. He thinks that since the Brotherhood's purpose is to protect the race, they'll fall in line and take orders from the Council.

Rehvenge doesn't even have to use much of his sympath abilities to know that Montrag's only worried about power and his bottom line, not about the safety of the race. More importantly, he respects Wrath and even thinks of him as a friend. He tells Montrag that he'll "take care of it."

Chapter 2

Alone downtown, Wrath's fighting a Lesser who mocks him, hinting that they have someone with intimate knowledge of vampire society. He calls in Butch who inhale the incapacitated Lesser and Butch asks him if Beth knows that he's out fighting even though it's against the law; Wrath gets Butch to lie and cover for him, saying that he was nearby meeting with Rehvenge. The Lesser had killed a male civilian and Wrath cries as he carries the body to the Escalade.

Chapter 3

Ehlena's getting for work and taking care of her father, Alyne, whose schizophrenia dictates much of their routine. Although they barely scrape by on Ehlena's paycheck as a nurse, Alyne lives in the delusion that they're still wealthy, ranking members of the glymera. She accidentally leaves a spoon out on the counter, which sends her father into a fit and makes her late for work as she stays with him until his caretaker, Lusie, arrives.

José de la Cruz informs Xhex that Chrissy Andrews is dead, undoubtedly at the hands of her abusive boyfriend, Grady.

Chapter 4

On his way back from meeting with Montrag, Rehvenge goes to Havers' clinic because he's running out of dopamine. To pass the time while he waits, he senses the worries and vulnerabilities of the people nearby; self-destruction is a sympath's favourite thing to watch.

When Butch and Wrath pull up to the clinic, Vishous is sitting on Rehvenge's car and waiting for them. He calls them on the lie that Wrath was meeting with Rehvenge; Wrath distracts him with Butch, who's in need of V's healing after inhaling the Lesser. Meanwhile, Wrath carries the body into the clinic where he wraps the male in a burial shroud himself and praying for the departed soul. Since any ID the male had, had was ashed with the Lesser who'd stolen it, the nurses place the civilian in the morgue for when the family comes looking for a missing member.

Wrath feels like he's not doing enough because innocents are still dying; it's like salt in a wound when a couple of civilians in the clinic bow to him and want to kiss his ring. A nurse tries to get him to get treated for an injury, but he declines. On his way out, he nearly runs over Ehlena and helps her pick up her bag, then almost clocks her again when he stands up again. She also tries to talk to him about getting his injury seen to, but he dashes out, intent on going to the address on the Lesser's ID to retrieve its heart jar. Vishous, however, stops him.

Chapter 5

Feeling guilty about going out, Ehlena's thinking about cancelling her date after work, but her friends have pointed out that she hasn't had a life outside of work or caring for her father and encourage her to go. Since all of her coworkers know that she was late because of her father's episode, Ehlena volunteers to go take Rehvenge's vitals since he makes females uncomfortable and avoid the concern of the rest of the staff.

Both have been attracted to each other for a while, Rehvenge always hopes he gets Ehlena as his nurse and flirts with her. While taking his blood pressure, she notices his infected injection sites, but he acts like it's NBD. Like the rest of her colleagues, she's nervous, which Rehv knows is their self-preservation instincts, and he tells her not to be. She lies and says that she isn't.

Chapter 6

Rehv knows she's lying and that, like him she's lonely because she's isolated from her people instead of being part of a community. The recognition of a kindred spirit was what drew him to her in the first place. The reminder that his monthly date with the Princess is tomorrow interrupts his flirtation because it's a reminder of his evil side, and Ehlena is good and compassionate and everything he is not; the infection is slow suicide.

Apologizing for giving her a hard time, he offers to take her to dinner to make up for it. He tries to give her his card when she declines and she tells him basically not if he was the last male on earth. He tosses the card in the wastebasket and thinks that he treats most people that way, as disposable, whereas Ehlena saves them.

Outside, V confronts Wrath and tells him he had a vision of Wrath in a dark field, alone and cut off from everyone. He can't let Wrath go out alone anymore because if he dies, so does the Brotherhood and the race. He'd had the vision before, in 1909, and then not since then. In the past month, he's had that same vision seven times; enough is enough. Wrath tells him he's not going to sit at a desk pushing papers while the race is failing.

They argue about how birthrights can suck, but there's no changing them and Wrath's not a newbie, he can handle himself. V pulls out the No Heir to the Throne card and reminds him that he recently told Beth "I don't want any young in the foreseeable future...if at all." As the king, he doesn't get to fight alone. Even if Beth was guaranteed to survive pregnancy and childbirth, he doesn't want his son to be trapped like he is, watching his people die one by one in an endless war.

Chapter 7

Despite her fear of all places clinical, Xhex heads to St. Francis to identify Chrissy's body and runs into Manny Manello, who gives her directions. Detective de la Cruz, Butch's former partner meets her in the morgue where Xhex confirms her identity, noting the strangulation marks on Chrissy's throat, and tells him that the boyfriend did it. De la Cruz comments that there was a long history of domestic violence calls. He can tell that she's plotting vengeance and warns her off of it, but his instincts tell him that she won't listen so he follows her until she seemed to disappear in the shadows.

Chapter 8

After examining Rehvenge, Havers is feeling a bit out of sorts and has Ehlena bring Rehv his prescriptions of dopamine and two doses of scorpion antivenin. He thanks Ehlena for taking care of him and when he leaves, she fishes his card out of the waste bin, sees his noble lineage and tosses it back in. Her own family's experiences with the glymera mean that she wants nothing more to do with that particular echelon. An incoming drug overdose patient interrupts her research into Rehv's medical history.

Wrath goes to the lesser's address and finds four crates of ammo. Unable to dematerialize with that much weight, he calls in Butch and tosses the crates to him from the window. Wrath's still bleeding and Butch points it out to him, urging him to see Doc Jane, but Wrath settles in to wait for the other lesser to return.

Chapter 9

While Mr. D cooks breakfast for him, Lash is going over the Lessening Society's recruitment and finances, which are meagre, to say the least. They bring in Grady and Lash makes him a business proposal to bring in cash for the Society.

Straying from his MO, Qhuinn's not getting some while he and his boys are at ZeroSum, and his twitchiness is driving John Matthew up a wall. A redhead starts checking him out, but Qhuinn lets it drop that he's not into redheads. Since he's ahstrux nohstrum to John, he refuses to leave John's side; as far as John knows, Qhuinn hasn't gotten laid since last summer. Qhuinn suggests John tag along, but he's still dealing with his sexual hang-ups. They watch Trez and iAm drag someone into Rehvenge's office. Blaylock excuses himself to go smoke, something that Qhuinn hates and that he'd picked up recently.

Chapter 10

Rehvenge puts the hurt on a bookie who's been stealing from him to pay off debts to the mob and threatens to send him to his wife in pieces; he thinks that she was smart to decline his card even if she didn't know exactly what he spent his nights doing.

Afterwards, Xhex tells him that Chrissy's dead and that she's going to take care of it. Rehv doesn't stop her, in fact, he blames himself for not killing Grady sooner even though Chrissy seemed better, but she might have just been hiding it better. Neither of them likes losing anyone. After Xhex takes care of Grady, Rehv tells her he has a job for her and to think of Grady "as a cocktail before dinner."

Ehlena fusses over her outfit while she waits outside the clinic for Stephan to pick her up, but she gets stood up and goes home; instead of going inside, she stands on the back porch and feels like her last chance for freedom is gone. Lusie finds her and can tell something's wrong; she listens to Ehlena, supports her, and tries to give her some friendly advice that it doesn't have to be an either-or situation.

Chapter 11

Wrath brings the heart jars to the Tomb and remembers building far more shelves for the jars than they thought would ever be needed; now they're almost full. V and the Scribe Virgin are waiting for him, although the Scribe Virgin appears even more remote and detached than usual. V tells him he needs to come clean with the Brotherhood and Beth because if he's going to fight, he shouldn't go out alone. Wrath points out that laws and tradition prohibit him from fighting; the Scribe Virgin tells him that everything else has changed, what difference would one more make and leaves.

Rehvenge gets a call from a number he doesn't recognize, which he ignores, as he's preparing the tribute to his blackmailer. He takes a shower and knows that he's not any different from the prostitutes who work for him, which is partly why he treats them with care and respect. When he gets out, he has two voicemails, but one is from his mahmen who never calls because she doesn't want to disturb him at work. In a rush to listen to Madalina's message, he deletes the first one as he realizes it was from Ehlena. His mom's message asks him to stop by the house in the next couple of days to talk about something. He calls back to say he'll be by on Wednesday and a doggen tells him that she's glad he's coming, which concerns him, but doesn't get any more information out of the servant. He tells himself that she's just planning some festivities since Nalla's first solstice ritual is coming up.

Going through his call history, he calls Ehlena back.

Chapter 12

Beth demands answers from a blood-covered Wrath and he admits that he's been fighting; putting two and two together, she realizes he's been going out for a while and lying to her, saying that he's been meeting with Phury and the Chosen. She isn't mad that he's been fighting, she's mad that he's been lying to her for four months. He also remembers that that's how long its been since they've been intimate. What hurts her the most was that everyone knew except her, but when he tells her that none of the Brothers knew, she realizes he'd been going out alone. At that point, she pulls away when he tries to touch her and leaves.

Hearing the slamming door, Rhage sticks his head in and sees the papers Wrath threw off his desk in anger; he asks if he wants to reschedule the meeting, which is a no, however, the boys aren't invited. He just needs a minute. That minute turns into an hour while the Brothers wait in the hall, giving him his space until he's ready for them.

Chapter 13

Ehlena tells Rehvenge she called because she noted there was nothing in his discharge papers about his arm. He flirts while she tries to talk to him about the infection and he calls her out for using it as an excuse to call him. She calls him out for avoiding the topic by trying to read something into her motives; each is charmed by the other, him with her for not putting up with his crap and her with his compliments. She starts to say that discussing a wound of her father's with his nurse reminded her of his situation but stops when she realizes what she accidentally revealed.

He asks if her father's ill and she tells him that some of his medications affect his balance. He empathizes with her because even if she's a nurse, she's still his daughter and while he's her father, he's not entirely there either. That's exactly how Ehlena feels, and it's something he knows from living with his sympath side. She apologizes for shutting him down so harshly at the clinic just because she had a bad night with her father and then getting stood up. To explain the dopamine and cane, he tells her that he has the vampiric equivalent of Parkinson's. Ehlena opens up about her father's situation and her responsibility for him. Rehv says he knows what it's like to feel trapped while your life is passing by and yet not changing a thing even if you could. When they hang up, she urges him to do something about his arm; he lies and says it'll be fine, but her concern means a lot to him.

Chapter 14

Wrath announces to the Brotherhood that he'll be partnering up with Rhage in the field, which brings up questions of the legality and if it's to replace Phury. Wrath says it's to replace many who've been lost. Phury says that he wants to come back, too, which scares the crap out of Zsadist; he points out that he's been sober for four months. It would be the first time both the King and the Primale would be out in the field, which is a sobering thought. Understanding what's going through Z's head even though he's on speakerphone, Phury talks privately to his brother, who makes him swear something on Nalla's life. After the twins come to an agreement, Phury says he can start at nightfall and he'll leave Cormia in charge of the Chosen while he's gone.

Once that's settled, Z asks about the blood on Wrath who comes clean about the fighting; that doesn't go over well with the Brotherhood.

Xhex is scouting the mansion of the target Rehv sent her after; because of her sympath side and her assassin background, she can kill almost anyone, innocent or not, non-combatant or not, without guilt.

Chapter 15

Mr. D drives Lash up to the sympath colony to work out an alliance with their king, who insinuates that he has a faithless mate to get rid of as part of their agreement.

Chapter 16

Tohrment wakes up from a dream of Wellsie to John Matthew bringing him food and he forces himself to eat for John's sake. John tells him the news about Phury and Wrath fighting again. Once he's gone, Tohr purges what he'd eaten; Lassiter shows up and tells him he needs to stop. Tohr tells him to go back home and Lassiter tells him he will if Tohr gets his act together. While showering, he stews over Wrath having gone out fighting alone.

Lassiter tells him that "tonight is different" and it's time to wake up. Tohr remembers saving Wrath's life in 1958 after he was hit by a couple of humans in a powder-blue Edsel; he'd gotten him to Havers' where Wrath lay unconscious for 24 hours with Tohr sitting by his side. When he woke up, he removed his IV, dressed, and walked out. For those 24 hours, the Brotherhood called every 15 minutes for an update, patients and staff prayed over him, and, in general, the race felt as if they were tipping between life and death. Without the king, the race felt there was no future. Back then, Wrath had been toxic and left without saying a word to anyone, not even a thank you to Tohr and Havers for saving his life and sitting by him the whole time. Tohr realizes that's how he's been acting towards John and the Brotherhood.

At the time of the accident, Wrath had been fighting alone then, too.

Chapter 17

Ehlena goes through her usual routine with her father before heading off to work where Catya asks for details about her date the night before and she tells her that she was stood up. Catya offers to set her up with a cousin of hers, but Ehlena declines due to the situation with her father. When Catya tries to point out that she's allowed to have a life outside of being a caregiver, Ehlena avoids her with work.

While she's at reception, Alix, Stephan's cousin, comes in looking for Stephan since he didn't make it home last night.

At the cabin with the sympath princess, Rehvenge thinks of Ehlena and the princess gets her image from his mind. They verbally battle and the princess uses Ehlena as ammunition, telling him that he can't vent his sympath side with her like he can with another sympath.

Chapter 18

After he identifies Stephan's body, Ehlena comforts him and then assists Havers with preparing the body for his family. The male's face had been beaten until it was nearly unrecognizable. Taking an ambulance, she then drives Alix and the deceased home.

Having finished their dirty deeds, the sympath princess tells Rehv that if he killed the king, their uncle, he could become the king. When she leaves, Trez has to pick Rehv up off the floor because he's too weak from the scorpion venom she wears when she meets with him. Trez tells him he can't continue like this, but Rehvenge is determined to do whatever's necessary to keep him and Xhex alive and free.

Chapter 19

Rehvenge wakes in his bedroom at his Adirondack great camp feeling like he's been hit with a ton of bricks and disappointed that Ehlena hasn't called or texted. He remembers what he did with the princess and erases Ehlena's information from his phone.

Xhex pays two bouncers, Big Rob and Silent Tom, five grand each to find Grady for her. They'd heard about what happened to her and are more than ready to take care of him, but Xhex tells them she only wants to know where to find him and warns them that the cops are also looking. They promise to "save him" for her; they turn down the money.

She can't leave the club to hunt Grady just then and after hearing from Trez, she knows Rehv's getting worse after each poisoning; she hates feeling powerless and was hoping there were some heads to bust in the club. Unfortunately, no one's in need of a lesson in etiquette.

Ehlena's sitting in the ambulance outside of Stephan's family's home, wondering who would mourn her when she dies since she doesn't really have friends and her father doesn't always remember who she is. For that matter, who would look after her father? In the midst of her existential crisis, she finds a missed call from Rehvenge and calls him back.

Chapter 20

Lash and Mr. D attend Grady's meeting with his wholesalers and kill them, taking the drugs.

Wrath goes to Safe Place looking for Beth; Marissa comes out to tell him that she'd gone to her old apartment and he's shaken knowing that she's out there alone after having already been abducted once. Marissa tells him that he deserves it and recommends that he get his head on straight first because she won't open up to him if he goes to her angry.

Going over there, it hits him that when he's out fighting she has to deal with the same fear that he's feeling. He finds her sitting on the picnic table and staring at her old apartment. Beth tells him that she hadn't been happy when she lived there because she could sense there was something else, some knowledge just out of reach. The four months he's been fighting have been worse because she knew something was wrong when he wasn't really eating or sleeping or feeding; she didn't want to acknowledge that he was keeping something from her.

After her transition, she felt like she had a solid foundation and was safe, but the lies make her feel like she's unsafe because her world is based on him. He admits that he hadn't been sleeping because he knew it was wrong to keep it form her; he apologizes and they make up. She goes back to Safe Place where she was volunteering and he tells her that since he's off rotation he'll be home all night.

Chapter 21

Ehlena can tell Rehv's sick and urges him to come into the clinic. When he tells her that he's upstate, she says she'll bring the antibiotics to him. Rehv hasn't been able to shower yet and doesn't want her to see how filthy he really is. She yells at him and he yells at her that she can't save him. She starts crying and asks him not to make her see him in the morgue. He tries to push her away again and she snaps at him "kill yourself, fine."

Rehv throws his phone, breaking it, which brings Trez running and ready to kill something. Worse than whoring himself out, his body enjoys it; despite vomiting until he brings up blood, he insists on taking a shower to get clean, snapping at Trez in the process. Trez offers to skin the princess alive, send the skin to the sympath king, roast her, and eat her; while Rehv sincerely appreciates it, he doesn't want to get another person involved in that mess.

Once he's clean, Rehv borrows Trez's phone on the promise that he won't destroy this one and tries to dial Ehlena's number from memory. It's not the right number.

The clinic calls to check on Ehlena because she's been sitting in the ambulance for two hours, having lost track of time while dealing with her emotions. They tell her to take her time and she has the rest of the night and the next night off.

The next call's from an unknown number that proves to be Rehv, she rushes to apologize; he asks her why she's trying. She believes that everyone deserves saving and they arrange to meet tomorrow night.

Chapter 22

Montrag removes from his safe an affidavit written up by his father, Rehm, and signed by Rempoon. It tells how Rehvenge killed him in his study and made it look like a home invasion. Rehm, Montrag's father, had found Rempoon and thinking that he was dead, searched the study for papers that would leave their joint business venture solely to Rehm instead of going to his estate.

As he was leaving, Rempoon moved and Rehm called for Havers, but Rempoon died before the doctor arrived. With his last breath, he told Rehm the truth of Rehvenge's conception and birth, who wrote up the document and had Rempoon sign it. Rehm walked away with the papers he'd been looking for, praise for attempting to save a life, and the affidavit. Since he didn't report Rehvenge right away, it would have hurt him equally if he acted upon it so he sat on the document.

When Rehm was killed in the raids, his assets, including the affidavit, went to Montrag who could claim that he'd discovered the papers even though he'd known about them for years. Once Rehvenge kills the king, he plans to take the document to the council to take him out of the picture and claim that he'd tried to warn Wrath. Then he could say that Wrath forced him to keep silent because it would incriminate Bella who's mated to one of his Brothers. And since sympaths are evil, it would make sense that Rehvenge would kill the king and then try to cover his butt by lying and blaming Montrag in revenge for outing him. Montrag seals a copy in an envelope, addresses it to his closest friend, marked "hand delivery only," and locks up the original again.

Xhex slits his throat and makes sure he knows that it was Rehvenge who sent her. As he's dying, she pops out his eyeballs. From outside, she waits and watches the doggen find the body before she calls Rehv to confirm it was done.

Chapter 23

Used to having people come to him rather than the other way around, Wrath doesn't take it well when Rehvenge asks him to come upstate to meet with him. Rehvenge tells him that he's immobile and it's important. Since Phury's out fighting, Vishous insists on accompanying Wrath

Trez meets them and Wrath tells him that if he ever wants "a real job" then he should come and fight with the Brotherhood, but Trez is far too loyal for that. V tries to shake his hand with his ungloved left, but Trez is also too smart for that. There aren't really any of the Chosen around and Wrath comments on it. Since Rehv makes them nervous, most of them go back to the Sanctuary except for Cormia and Selena, who always stay. behind, which earns them pride and respect from Trez.

Bed-ridden, Rehvenge is still very weak and, without giving away too much information, Trez tells the Brothers that Rehv isn't contagious, that he's going to be fine, and everything that can be done has already been done. Xhex is with Rehv and tells Wrath she has something for him; when she reaches into her jacket, V pulls a gun on her. She tosses him a velvet bag containing two pale blue eyes.

Rehv tells Wrath of the meeting with Montrag the night before and that while he doesn't know the identities of any conspirators, he wasn't taking any chances; besides, he liked having Wrath in his debt. There's no love lost between the glymera and anyone in the room. Wrath asks Rehv if he seriously considered killing him; he did, but he benefited far more from the king living than by his death and his sister had mated into Wrath's family.

Ehlena returns the ambulance to the clinic and stops by Havers' office to tell him that Stephan was with his family and Havers tells her that Catya had informed him that Ehlena had known the male. Why didn't she say anything? Ehlena tells him that she wanted to honour him, which he can understand but it's especially hard working with the body of someone you knew; that was why he'd told Catya to give her the rest of the night off. She asks about Rehv to see if he'd had Havers look at his arm, he had not. Havers would gladly see Rehv again, but he can't prescribe anything without examining the infection.

Knowing that Rehv wouldn't come back in and that what she was doing was wrong, she steals penicillin from the clinic's pharmacy. She justifies it by telling herself that she was doing it to save his life, not taking something like narcotics.

Chapter 24

At ZeroSum with her sympath side riding her hard, Xhex sees John Matthew and thinks riding something else might help, but since she's not willing to go there, she runs to her office. John decides he's done sharing heated looks with her across the club and follows her. Scenting blood, he opens her office door to find her adjusting her cilices, spiked garters she wears around her thighs to control her sympath side with pain. She yells at him when he tries to get her to stop and demands to know why until finally her eyes flash red. Since he knows from his training that only one race has red eyes, he knows she's a sympath. He leaves her and locks the door behind him.

Chapter 25

Lash is contemplating how low he's fallen as to keep company with lower class humans while going over the list of dealers he's going after, one of which is Rehvenge; he's still pissy about getting booted from ZeroSum for dealing bad product on Rehv's turf. He's still cutting the product he's dealing.

Mr. D reports that three heart jars have gone missing at some point in the past two nights from their set-up at the apartments where Wrath took the ammo crates from. While busting some heads, a human comes to the door to deliver pizza.

John Matthew's trying to wrap his head around Xhex being a sympath and wondering what to do with the knowledge. He stops by Tohr's room and finding it empty, goes looking for the male, but doesn't find him.

The delivery guy sees an unconscious lesser on the floor bleeding black blood and Lash kills him, then they evacuate. Grady's starting to realize he's in over his head.

Chapter 26

Ehlena goes to the Commodore, but instead of going to Rehv's side, she ends up on Jane and Vishous' side and ends up seeing way more than she was bargaining for. Jane gets her turned the right way.

She tells Rehvenge about her awkward encounter and says that BDSM is absolutely not her thing, inadvertently sinking Rehv's hopes because if consensual kinks were too much for her, what he's been doing would send her running if she knew. He'd made roast beef in the hopes that she'd have dinner with him, but she turns him down; giving him the pills along with instructions and another recommendation to see Havers, she steps out onto the terrace to dematerialize.

Once she's outside, Rehv sits at the table and wishes that he was clean and good enough for Ehlena.

Chapter 27

Wrath's dealing with raging headache as the Brotherhood and John discuss places that Tohr might possibly have gone. John's been left too many times and is spun up in his head over Tohr, tired of wondering if he's committed suicide, so Wrath keeps him from going out in the field.

Rehvenge catches Ehlena taking one last look at him and she claims she was waiting for him to take the pill before leaving. Since they have to be taken with food, she sits at the table with him and says she's not hungry because she's already eaten. While he's eating, she tells him that she wasn't stood up on her date because Stephan was murdered and how she'd spent the night before preparing his body.

He sympathizes with her and says that if he'd known, he wouldn't have made the grand romantic gesture of preparing a candlelit dinner. She says it's ok and she could have been a little less harsh, seeing that he's a little off, too. He guesses that she'd lied about having eaten and now she's starving. He tells her that he's in a complicated situation with a female that he's not in love with, which she thinks means he won't be with her because that'd be cheating.

Rehv admits that he's impotent.

Chapter 28

Lassiter and Tohr are in the Tomb where they verbally snipe at each other. Tohr went there to find clarity and something that would connect him to life; Lassiter tells him he's looking in the wrong place. Just before Wrath enters, Lassiter tells Tohr that Wellsie sent him which is why he didn't leave him to die in that cave. Lassiter reminds him that Wellsie died one year ago and Tohr throttles him; Wrath pulls him off the angel. Tohrment gets the moment of clarity he was looking for.

Rehvenge explains that his issue is due to his meds, but he could still make love to her. While getting her coffee, he feels pure male satisfaction in feeding her and bringing her a drink and that's when he smells the bonding scent. He tells her that he doesn't think she should date anyone, but he's not just anyone.

Chapter 29

While Rehvenge is pleasuring Ehlena, she catches his bonding scent and neither of them really knows what to say. Afterwards, she offers him her vein, but his surprise erection startles and disgusts him; he locks himself in the bathroom.

Chapter 30

John lies to Blay and Qhuinn, telling them that he's going to bed and instead goes to ZeroSum to see Xhex. Since she doesn't know ASL, they communicate largely through yes/no questions. He tells her that he intends to keep her secret and hasn't told anyone. She admits that she should have taken his memories, but she'd been too spun up in her head and now it's too late because the incident's moved to long-term where she can't. When she asks what he wants in return, he tells her nothing, which was not what she was suspecting because she thinks most people would take advantage of it. Picking up on his thoughts, she offers to talk about Tohr, but he declines.

Xhex gives him a key to her downtown apartment so he can have some privacy while working through his shit. If the Brotherhood shows up looking for him, she'll lie because he'd protected her. No sooner did she return inside than Qhuinn shows up looking for John Matthew. Before leaving, he tells her that John's a good guy and warns her that a lot of people wouldn't react well if he was callously hurt; that earns him Xhex's respect.

After dealing with Qhuinn, she meets with de La Cruz in her office where he asks her for an alibi for the night before. Grady's jacket was discovered at a murder scene and he suspects she wants to see him planted in the ground. She tells him that she was at the club all night and tells him the funeral's tomorrow. He observes how Spartan her office is before commenting on the rumours of the vice violations that happen at ZeroSum yet no one's been able to get a search warrant; he warns her that there's a drug turf war because he's also working a case of two dealers who turned up dead. He asks her some questions about those murders, but she doesn't know anything.

Before leaving, he suggests getting a plant for her sparse office; she says she's too good at killing things.

Chapter 31

In the bathroom, Rehv's wondering how he could be both erect and in control of his sympath side; he attributes it to the bonding hormones. Instead of going to Ehlena like that after where it had last been, he takes care of it himself.

When he comes back to bed, Ehlena doesn't grill him about why he ran into the bathroom and yet he wants to come clean with her, but that would scare her and put her in a bad position. He asks her if she would come to him again even if things couldn't be normal in the bedroom, and when she says yes, he asks why. Even though what's happening between them doesn't make sense, it doesn't matter because feelings don't follow logic. With him she feels like she's present in her life and life's too short to worry about what ifs.

He warns her that he's going to fall in love with her.

At Xhex's, John goes through his baggage and thinks that Wellsie, Tohr, and the Brotherhood was a failed experiment.

Chapter 32

Lash tries swing his dick around with the sympath king by threatening to wipe out the colony. The king strokes his ego and it works. Lash asks him why he doesn't take care of the situation himself; it comes down to the king's machinations and the current political situation in the colony. Uncomfortable with his sexual reaction to the sympath, Lash asks him if he's gay, which he's not. In Lash's twisted mind, being attracted to someone who isn't straight is somehow better than being attracted to someone who's attracted to their own gender.

After that question, the conversation quickly goes downhill.

Ehlena and Rehv take their time parting, which is interrupted when Ehlena gets a call asking her to come into work. Once there, a male coworker who's normally friendly shrinks away from her because of Rehv's bonding scent. She meets with Catya and Havers and they fire her for stealing the antibiotics for Rehvenge.

Chapter 33

Arriving at Madalina's home, a doggen tells him that she's dying and the news hits Rehv hard. In denial, he says she's too young but the doggen had been with his family since Rempoon had been alive and tells him that "her life has been far longer than her years."

Going to her, Rehv finds his mother ironing her father's handkerchiefs and she begins to cry. She tells him that her father, the Primale, had loved his many children and had relationships with them all. The handkerchiefs she'd made from his robes because she liked sewing and when she left the Other Side to be with a Brother she'd fallen in love with, he had her take some of them; only she'd been raped by a sympath, held prisoner by the sympath king, and forced to bear Rehvenge. Her love died while rescuing her.

Afterwards, her father, the Primale, called her to his deathbed, but she'd avoided going because of what had happened to her, feeling "befouled." When the Directrix convinced her to go, she wouldn't let him hold her. He told her "the heavy soul will not pass though the body is failing." He'd felt that he'd failed because if he'd kept her on the Other Side, she wouldn't have had to endure what she did. Madalina had told him that she loved her son and was engaged to a male of the glymera, once she'd convinced him that she was ok he was able to pass away.

She now understands what he'd meant about needing closure and she tells him that she knows he killed her hellren, Rempoon. When he asks how she knew, she tells him he was the only one who could have and she'd seen his face every time Rempoon became violent. She had the crystal seeing bowl she'd used as a scribe and saw what happened not long after. She makes him promise that he'll make sure Bella never knows; she'd never wanted him to carry these burdens yet he was forced to. If the secret isn't passed on, then neither Bella nor Nalla will have to deal with it . Full of love for her, he vows that Bella and her young will never know.

He wants to call Havers, but she tells him that she doesn't want medical intervention that would be of no use anyway because she's seen her passing in the scrying bowl. Knowing that she will never rise from it again, he tucks her into bed, which breaks his heart; he tells her that he'll have Bella come and she asks him to have her please bring Nalla.

Tohrment's about ready to climb out of his skin as he waits for a Chosen to come to him so he can feed even though he doesn't feel ready. Lassiter tells him he'll stay with him and he shouldn't feel guilty because it's biology, not a choice.

When Selena enters, he remembers how he'd felt love and optimism and joy at his mating, but now he's alone and about to feed from another. She's very compassionate and tells him that not only did she bind up her hair as he'd requested, she wore a turban, too, with the thought that it might make things easier on him. Standing behind him so he doesn't have to see her, she offers him her wrist and his body takes over, biting her to the bone and draining her, nearly killing her in the process. Lassiter had to pull him off and knock him out because he tried to go for her again.

Chapter 34

In the aftermath of losing her job, Ehlena's assessing her bleak situation when Alyne asks her to read a bit of the manuscript he's working on. Acting like everything's ok for his sake, she agrees even though she doesn't feel like placating him and she starts crying.

While waiting for Bella, Zsadist, and Nalla to arrive, Rehv receives word of another dead drug dealer, the third corpse who'd purchased from him in the past two nights. The turf war is going to wreck his enterprise if his suppliers think that he doesn't have Caldwell under control. Ehlena had promised to let him know when she'd made it safely to the clinic, but there's been no word.

He greets his sister, her hellren, and their young and the family gathers in Madalina's room. She coos over her granddaughter and cuddles her. Madalina praises Zsadist for taking care of and protecting his females and he shows his respect to her, vowing to keep them safe.

Chapter 35

Xhex arrives at her apartment, has sex with John Matthew, and when he goes to kiss her, she pulls away and thanks him for keeping her secret before leaving. John kicks himself for thinking that what had happened meant anything.

Tohrment wakes up in pain from his stomach punishing him for not eating for so long. On his way to the kitchen, he stops by Wrath's office and sees his old chair. Wrath explains that John had refused to sleep anywhere else, was acting out, and getting into fights until he stepped in. Now that John's fighting, he doesn't hang out with Wrath as he works as much and he kind of misses the boy. Tohr feels responsible and knows that John's still hurting; he feels ashamed for throwing up the food John had been bringing him. Wrath tells him to work on getting healthy and not to worry about how long that takes.

Blay and Qhuinn report that they heard from John, but he won't say where he is and doesn't sound like he's coming home.

Chapter 36

Madalina passed away easily and surrounded by her family and beloved doggen. While everyone's mourning, Rehvenge slips into the bathroom for a dopamine shot and is interrupted by Bella. He lies and tells her that he's diabetic, which he requires because the diabetes affects his healing and he'd previously told her he needed it due to an injury. They make funeral plans and grieve together.

Rehv calls the clinic and makes arrangements for her preservation. The nurse asks him if it would be acceptable for Havers to bring an assistant; worried that she'd have to work with another body that's connected to her, he asks if it would be Ehlena. Instincts buzzing, he presses the nurse for information until she admits that Ehlena was let go.

Ehlena's read her father's manuscript, In the Rain Forest of the Monkey Mind, that gives a vivid depiction of the development of his schizophrenia. Many years ago, family double-crossed Alyne, financially ruining him. As their fortunes declined, his shellan turned to laudanum to cope. Ehlena had, had a promising engagement to a male of the glymera, but after they chose to become intimate, the male betrayed her by spreading lies that she had seduced him and was nothing more than a harlot. Ehlena would never again have a chance at a successful mating. It was one shameful betrayal too many for his shellan and she committed suicide.

Alyne no longer knew who to trust and didn't trust his ability to read people. Soon after his shellan's death, he began hearing voices. The tin foil is a physical manifestation of his schizophrenia because both insulate him from the real world and keep him safe from reality where people might betray him.

The monkeys are the voices, which are easily recognizable as enemies as they throw things at him, which are metaphors for intrusive thoughts. To fight back, he relies on ritual and his writing. He understands his own mind whereas in the outside world he's lost and helpless. Alyne had been an attorney versed in the Old Law and known for his love for debate and strong opponents; in his schizophrenia, he still has that because he's essentially fighting aspects of his own mind. The final line of the manuscript is that his only regret was that his illness was a barrier between him and Ehlena and he's saddened by being a burden to her, but she's comforted by knowing that he's content.

Rehv calls Ehlena to go off on her for stealing the penicillin for him, but she doesn't let him and asks how he found out. He tells her about his mother's passing and that he needed to hear her voice

Chapter 37

Wrath hasn't slept for days, is in a bad mood, and has a headache because Beth wasn't sleeping at home and he had to text her before she'd allow him to call her. The text he'd sent hours ago was still unanswered. Going down to the kitchen, he finds her there and she makes him something to eat since she can tell he's tired. Much more than just the lying had come between them and he tells her of the plot against him without giving her too many details. He has a meeting with the council tonight and the Brotherhood's going with him since they expect trouble. She asks him to wear a bulletproof vest for her peace of mind and he immediately agrees.

Rehv wants to have a chat with Havers about Ehlena, but she stops him because Havers doesn't trust her anymore and what kind of message would that send the staff if he took her back after what she did? He wants to help her until she gets another job, which she tries to decline, but he tells her that he'll only argue with her about it in person.

They talk about his mahmen and her father. When he asks what her favourite colour is, she says it's amethyst, which happens to be the colour of his eyes. He thinks it's perfect.

Chapter 38

Despite being unfamiliar with human burial traditions, Xhex had arranged for a nice funeral for Chrissy; de la Cruz attends, but Grady does not.

Ehlena and Rehv have creative phone sex.

Chapter 39

Despite having been essentially kidnapped by Lash, Grady's surprisingly relaxed, which pisses Lash off because he wants him to be afraid of him. Lash's planning on producing his own drugs.

Chapter 40

The household is mourning Madalina and Rehv is remembering how she loved the snow. Seeing Bella holding Nalla reminds him of how he used to hold his sister when she was little and for the first time in his life he thinks about having children of his own. He pours her a bowl of Frosted Flakes and remembers how after Rempoon died, he'd been so proud of her when she'd finally had the courage to pour herself a second bowl. As a little girl, Rempoon had verbally and emotionally abused her for eating more food than he deemed acceptable, instilling nascent body image issues that took longer to die than the male had. Of course, she doesn't remember that.

Bella overheard him talking to Ehlena and asks if he's seeing someone, which she's never known him to. He chooses the least complicated answer: no. They watch the falling snow and remember how their mahmen would watch it for hours because it reminded her of being on the Other Side before she had fallen.

Waking up, Beth and Wrath re-connect. Afterwards, he goes to turn on the light and Beth tells him that the light was already on.

Chapter 41

John Matthew feels like crap after his first time is only due to Xhex feeling like she owes him; he's tempted to walk out into the sun. Instead, he decides to become hard and never be a victim again. He heads to ZeroSum with the intention of getting wasted and texts Blay and Qhuinn to meet him there. There's a rambling voicemail from Tohrment trying to apologize, saying that he's not going anywhere, and that he's trying to get his act together. Tired of feeling like a lost kid looking for a father figure, he deletes the message.

Ehlena and Rehvenge have a romantic interlude in the falling snow on the terrace of his penthouse while someone, unnoticed, on the roof watches them with blood-red eyes.

Chapter 42

Doc Jane examines Wrath's eyes and suggests a CAT scan at Havers' to determine what's causing the blindness.

Ehlena and Rehvenge have a romantic dinner of DiGiorno pizzas and red wine. Knowing that she's used to taking care of others instead of the other way around , he asks her to let him take care of her to make him feel better. She agrees on the condition that she repays him and he stipulates that he won't accept any interest. After negotiations, they head to the bedroom.

Chapter 43

While enjoying her afterglow, Ehlena offers the only pleasure she can think of to Rehvenge: taking her vein. At first, he refuses and she assumes it's because he thinks her lineage isn't good enough. Quite the opposite, he doesn't feel he's worthy of her blood. Overcome with bonded male need, he's erect and able to have intercourse; he pulls out to avoid engaging his barb, which would lock them together in a sure sign that he's something other than vampire.

Chapter 44

All Doc Jane and Havers can recommend to Wrath are more tests, and while his vision's returned to its usual poor state, he's starting to feel like time's running out.

Instead of his usual Corona, John Matthew orders Jack Daniels at ZeroSum and starts seriously looking for some tail. He tries hiring Marie-Terese, who turns him down because she knows it's to get back at Xhex for something; she recommends that if he's determined to get one of the women who works with Xhex then to go to Gina.

Chapter 45

Seeing Gina go into a private washroom with John and Qhuinn, Xhex goes into the security office to watch them on the cameras. As much as it hurts, Gina's still new and doesn't really have a working relationship with Xhex yet, so it's not really any different than if John had brought one of the female patrons back. She tries to tell herself it's a good thing that John had given up on her and was moving on, but she can see how grim and dead inside he is, even through the camera.

Xhex brings her bad attitude to a meeting with iAm, Rehv, and Trez where they go over how to manage their position in the turf war. She leaves Rehv's office just in time to catch Gina's, John's, and Qhuinn's communal walk of shame, only without the actual shame because John looks like he's trawling again. Xhex knows that she'd stripped him of his innocence.

Returning from a visit with daddy dearest, Lash finds Mr. D gone and Grady's escaped. The paper Grady had been looking at was open to the obituaries and Lash finds Chrissy's listing. Lash goes to Pine Grove Cemetery and finds a cop on stake-out so he texts Mr. D to say he'll handle Grady.

Chapter 46

The Brotherhood's getting ready to head out to the council meeting and when Tohr goes to join them, Wrath tells him to wait until he's stronger since he's nothing about skin and bones and not too long ago had problems getting around he was so unsteady. They're gathered on the front lawn and Vishous lights up only for a gunshot to ring out and his cigarette disappears. Tohr's in the front doorway with a smoking gun. Butch holds V back. Tohr reminds them that he's the best shot out of all of them and strength isn't needed to use a gun; he wasn't about to hurt any of his Brothers, but he was sorely tempted to shoot V's goatee off. They laugh in relief to have Tohr back, to forgive Wrath for fighting alone without telling anyone, and to shrug off the tension.

Xhex goes to Chrissy's grave and finds de la Cruz, lessers, and something really malevolent. The lessers and the entity leave not long before Grady shows up.

Chapter 47

Since Xhex is MIA, Trez goes looking for her while iAm and Rehv head to the council meeting being held at Sal's. The Brotherhood, Lassiter, and Wrath are already there looking all kinds of don't mess with us if you want to keep breathing. With a pistol in one hand, iAm serves them cappuccinos followed by cannoli. Just when it looks like none of the council's going to show, there's the sound of someone entering at the front.

Lash and the lessers had retreated near the cemetery gates to discuss the situation and see the undercover cop take off so they go to Chrissy's grave to see why he suddenly left.

Chapter 48

Grady starts crying on Chrissy's grave and Xhex goes to work on him.

A young male of the glymera enters and introduces himself as Saxton, son of Tyhm; Wrath recognizes his name from bloodline reports and knows he's not even the son of a council member. When asked who sent him, Saxton responds, "A dead man's lieutenant." He places his briefcase on the table and when he goes to open it, Rehv puts his swordcane to his throat. Wrath warns him to move slowly since he's the only target for a roomful of armed warriors. Remaining calm, Saxton tells him that's why he told the man who sent him that they had to do this.

Saxton, an apprentice lawyer in the Old Law, tells Wrath that the night Montrag was assassinated an envelope was sent from Montrag to his boss. He confirms that the wax seal has not been broken by either himself or his boss who were the only ones to know of its existence other than the doggen that delivered it and that he recognized Montrag's handwriting on the envelope. Wrath scents no fear or deceit from the male.

Saxton confirms that no one else is showing up because they're too terrified after what happened to Montrag. Wrath suspects that he'd had to talk his boss into passing the document to the king, which gets no response, silently confirming his guess. Wrath suggests he find a new job because the scared and desperate make poor decisions that can drag down those around them, especially if they've already offered him up as a sacrificial lamb. Saxton just smiles and offers his services to the king.

Chapter 49

Going to Chrissy's grave, Lash finds Xhex standing over a dying Grady whom she's castrated and shoved the severed bit into his mouth. Lash's turned on by how lethal she is; they exchange threats, his are sexual and hers are bloody.

The document Saxton delivered was the affidavit Montrag's father had written up while Rempoon was dying. To keep his secret, they can't let Montrag's heirs discover any other copies of the papers.

Chapter 50

After parting with Rehv, Ehlena goes grocery shopping and feels like she's being followed. When she gets home, the princess approaches and tells her that Rehvenge is a drug dealing sympath pimp to scare her away from him so she can have him all to herself. The princess leaves and Ehlena leaves a shaken voicemail for Rehv letting him know what happened.

Happy to have Wrath home safe, Beth and Wrath re-connect once more and he fills her in on some of the political ramifications of what went down using broad strokes without giving away too much information. He tells her that he's only keeping the details from her because it's Rehv's business and not his to tell.

When Beth goes to get them some food, V informs Wrath that someone emailed the Brotherhood from a generic email address demanding that they deliver Rehv to the sympath colony within 24 hours or they'll leak his secret to the whole glymera and say that the king and Brotherhood knew yet didn't do anything about it. V then goes to warn Rehv.

Chapter 51

In Revh's suite at ZeroSum, Xhex disposes of her clothing and washes herself and her dagger. She thinks of how her last relationship had been with Murhder, who'd gone to avenge what he'd thought was her death at the hands of sympaths only to discover that she was, in fact, part sympath when he rescued her from the colony. Afterwards, he lost his mind and was subsequently kicked out of the Brotherhood. Then there was Rehv, who was paying to protect both of them. She doesn't feel like she deserved John Matthew's tenderness and yet she wanted to let down her walls and give into what she felt.

Vishous warns Rehv, who knows the princess is behind the email so he lies and says he doesn't know who's behind it. After that, he listens to Ehlena's voicemail. Knowing that his life was over, Rehvenge makes Xhex vow to take care of an unnamed female for him, using the same trick he used to keep the princess from reading his mind. Looking back on the shady and immoral things he's done, Rehv feels he deserves his fate.

Chapter 52

Tossing back milkshakes to put on weight, Tohr's waiting for John to come home. When he does, John barely acknowledges Tohr and signs "This isn't home. It's a house. And I need a place to stay." Tohr realizes how hard John's gotten and thinks he's getting his just desserts.

Tohr hears a crash in Wrath's study and finds the king panicking and demanding that someone turn on the lights.

Lash's working on the Lessening Society's finances, assessing their stock of drugs, and heads down to Manhattan.

Chapter 53

De la Cruz investigates the scene of Grady's death and finds a set of footprints he's certain are Xhex's.

Still blind, Wrath's panicking and demands if it's what Vishous saw in his vision, it is. Havers examines him, but there's nothing he can do.

Chapter 54

Trez picks up Ehlena and takes her to ZeroSum where, instead of the shiny front entrance, he takes her through the filthy back alley. Ehlena starts suspect that the princess was right since she'd told her that Rehv owned the club. iAm, Trez, and Xhex escort Ehlena to Rehv's office where he'd deliberately left $25,000 and a brick of cocaine on his desk; she asks Xhex to come in with her because she doesn't want to be alone with him.

Rehvenge confirms that the princess was right and that she's his half-sister. Ehlena doesn't understand why he brought her down when he could have told her over the phone, but she tells him not to contact her again. After she leaves, he cries because it's the last time he'd ever see her before he turned himself over to the princess and Bella was going to lose her mahmen and her brother in two days. He plans to exact vengeance from the princess.

Chapter 55

Xhex's pissed that Ehlena broke things off with Rehv the way she did and tells her that he put himself in a crappy situation to protect Xhex, Madalina, and Bella. Who does she think she is that she's too good for him when he does what he has to in order to survive? Trez has to step in before things escalate between the females and has Xhex to check on Rehv. As a parting shot, Xhex tells Ehlena to "watch yourself." Ehlena scoffs and says that Xhex is a Barbie doll compared to what showed up on her doorstep last night. Both Trez and Xhex tell her that she needs to move.

On their way to Ehlena's, Trez tells her that Rehv didn't do it without a good reason because there's more going on than she knows. She thinks it's because his cover was blown and couldn't hide behind the lies anymore.

Xhex goes off on Rehv for not telling her that the princess had been to see Ehlena since she almost beat the other female; he cuts her off and tells her to never touch Ehlena. De la Cruz's arrival interrupts them.

The detective gives her a tiny ivy plant for her office and tells her that he thinks she killed him because of how she'd looked at Chrissy at the morgue and she didn't get defensive when he told her she was a suspect. He recommends she get a good lawyer soon and seems sad that she didn't let the cops do their job and put him away.

Marie-Terese discusses some business with Xhex and tells her that she was the one who told John Matthew to go to Gina to try and make it easier on Xhex. She gives Marie-Terese the plant because she thinks Marie-Terese has a better chance of keeping it alive.

Chapter 56

Rehv gives iAm his will, transfer of assets, and a trust then has him get Xhex, Trez, and the staff out of there. He tells iAm to take care of Xhex and that none of this is her fault. After he leaves, Rehv calls Bella who's tired of walking Nalla around since that's the only way the baby will sleep. He suggests a lullaby in the Old Language he used to sing to Bella, one that she'd forgotten about, and he sings it over speakerphone. Rehv tells her that he loves her and to take care of herself and her family.

Getting the all clear from iAm, Rehvenge walks through ZeroSum for the last time and thinks about how empty it looks without the lights, music, and people. He does another walkaround the building to ensure that no one's in any of the alleys and detonates the explosives that had long ago been set up for just this contingency. There was a human skeleton under his bed in the suite that only iAm knew about, having been the one to procure them. Bella would be ok with her hellren, young, the Brotherhood, and their shellans to support her; thinking her brother was dead would be better than learning the truth of her mother's rape and her brother's biological father. He'd left a letter for Xhex telling her that the female he'd made her vow to take care of was herself and had iAm make sure she kept her word. At the sound of sirens responding to the explosion, he dematerializes to the sympath colony.

Chapter 57

Saxton goes to Ehlena to inform her that Alyne is next of kin to Montrag and therefore inherits all his assets. While going over the paperwork, he tells her that since she has power of attorney for Alyne her net worth is now at least $300 million. Since Alyne doesn't have a will, Saxton offers to write one up in her favour as Alyne's sole child, which would expedite transfer in the event of Alyne's passing. Ehlena's kneejerk reaction is that she can't afford his rates; he assures her that she can afford him.

Wrath falls down the stairs in front of everyone on his way to Last Meal and ends up with a bloody nose. Everyone's instinct is to go and help, but he feels claustrophobic with everyone's hands on him when he can't see. He tries to get to his feet on his own and loses his balance then slams into a wall. It's beginning to sink in that the blindness is permanent.

Mary takes charge and gives Wrath directions to the library a few steps away so she can meet with him and Beth without the peanut gallery. Mary makes suggestions such as a walking stick and an assistant to help him work. Without his sight, he feels trapped in darkness like he'd been as a kid watching the murder of his parents and he has a panic attack, spiralling into the thought of never being able to fight again, make his way around the house alone, see his shellan, or even be able to tie his own shoes. Mary's compassionate and firm, telling him that his life isn't over, it's just changing. Shame fills him as he feels weak for mourning the loss of his sight, seeing it as crumbling under a burden he should be bearing as a Brother and as king.

Wrath goes to the Scribe Virgin and asks if she made him blind as punishment for fighting in the field. Instead of smiting him for his attitude and demanding answers of her, she tells him that it was always going to happen and she had nothing to do with it. She's extremely subdued and leaves, telling him, "Now go back to your world and leave me to mine."

Stunned that he didn't get the fight he wanted, he's still standing in the courtyard on the Other Side when he hears someone approach and instinctively moves into a fighting stance. The person recognizes him, introduces herself as Payne, and asks if he was going to do anything or just stand there. Since it's not in Wrath's nature to hit a female, he relaxes and she attacks. When he asks why, she says she's bored. They fight and are pretty evenly matched. He loses his temper and wants to lay the hurt on her when she starts laughing, which throws him off. He asks if he lets her go, would she still attack him? "Maybe. Maybe not." For some reason, he likes the answer. Payne asks him if he's going to return because that was the most fun she's had in a long while, he says he might and she leaves, telling him to come back soon.

Realizing he can still fight and isn't trapped in a useless body, he can adjust even though it won't be quick or easy. He returns to the mansion and carefully makes his way to the dining room where everyone's eating without running into anything. Everyone's shocked by his bruises, but he just laughs and tells them taht he made a new friend.

Chapter 58

Returning from a shopping spree cum business trip in Manhattan, Lash heads to the sympath colony where the king isn't happy because he's days late. Rehvenge shows up and address the sympath Lash has been speaking to as "princess" and asks what Lash is doing there. Relieved that the person he's been attracted to is a female, Lash decides to take out his competitor by shooting Rehv, but the princess intervenes, saving Rehv's life.

While they verbally spar, Rehv using the princess as a meat shield, it becomes clear that Lash has been the one killing off the other dealers in Caldwell and behind the lesser raids. The actual sympath king interrupts and tells the princess he was aware of her arrangement with Rehvenge, including her recent plot, but let her because he was fond of her. The king has one of his guard knock Rehvenge out.

Chapter 59

Unable to sleep, Ehlena wonders if there was any truth in Rehvenge's lies and if his deception would tip her into madness the same as her father. She goes to her computer to look for work in case the inheritance doesn't go through and learns of the destruction of ZeroSum. Grieving, she has conflicting emotions between her feelings for him, her hurt, missing him, and the conviction that he was still alive.

Wrath's getting used to the layout of his desk by feel and doing things for himself like picking up pens he knocks over. Both of them flirt and pet as Beth helps him read the mail. They come across Saxton's documents listing Alyne and Ehlena as the heirs to Montrag's considerable fortune; by law, everything goes to the king. Beth likes Ehlena, describing her as the "nicest female you ever met" and helped Phury evacuate the old clinic during the bombing, noting that she doesn't think Ehlena has much money and she hadn't known of Alyne's condition. Saxton includes a personal missive authenticating Alyne and Ehlena's bloodline certificates, hopes that the king will expedite the process because Saxton worried over their poor living conditions, and that neither of them has seen Montrag in a century. Reading between the lines, Wrath surmises that Saxton's asking him not to seize the estate since Alyne and Ehlena are in need and completely innocent of Montrag's plotting. Wrath doesn't need the money and would rather that something good came out of the ugly situation.

After approving the documents, Vishous notifies Beth and Wrath that Rehvenge is dead.

Chapter 60

John Matthew wakes up with a hangover and using a bottle of Jack Daniels as a pillow. The night before he'd picked up some tail with Qhuinn, and while he doesn't remember all of it, he can still remember every detail of that time with Xhex.

Bella's reaction to the news of her brother's death brings John and the rest of the household running and the news is broken to the rest of them. To avoid Tohr, John locks himself in his room again, determined that the only relationship they'll have from now on is that of fighters in the field. He knows that Xhex must be suffering after losing Rehvenge and hates that he couldn't be there for her, but she'd been clear that she didn't want that from him.

Xhex is at home, cursing Rhev for leaving her a letter telling her that the female he'd made her promise to take care of was herself. On top of that, she wasn't to rescue him or threaten the princess, if she did he wouldn't accept her help and remain in the colony. iAm would follow her to the colony, putting himself in danger, and that meant Trez would follow him. Pissed off and feeling helpless, she cuts her leg.

Chapter 61

Rehv wakes up hanging in a cave full of spiders and scorpions covering the walls and floor; he tells the king that he must be powerful enough to concern the king if the elderly sympath went to this length to keep Rehv prisoner. The princess had been using his blackmail payments to conduct business with humans as part of her scheme to overthrow the king, which ultimately decided him against stating her as his successor in his will since fear is more important to rule than money. He intends to keep Rehv hanging in the cave until she dies, which will be an additional punishment for her, knowing that the king has him. Once she dies, then he'll kill Rehvenge to ensure he can't kill the sympath king like he did his father, the king's brother and previous sympath king. When the king leaves, the candles go out, leaving him in darkness, and the creepy crawlies swarm all over him, but he can't scream otherwise he'll get them in his mouth.

Lash has the princess chained to his bed and wearing his dog's old collar in his brownstone and intends to use her until she breaks, then he'll use her to hunt vampires. If that doesn't work out, he'll just kill her.

Chapter 62

A month later, Ehlena's living in what was Montrag's Connecticut mansion and being served by doggen. Ehlena thanks the doggen, Saschla, and appreciates how they welcomed her and Alyne. The maid tears up and tells her that their arrival changed everything for them for the better; having already observed that the staff had all tiptoed around her and her father, she gets the feeling that Montrag had not been a joy to work for.

Lusie's agreed to move into the suite next to Alyne and the change in him has been remarkable, no more tin foil over the windows; his mental health and general mood hasn't been this good in years. Ehlena, on the other hand, thinks about Rehvenge all the time and is still convinced he's alive. At least Alyne and Lusie appear to be enamoured of each other, which makes Ehlena happy because they're happy.

As she walks through the house, Ehlena makes sure to chat with or praise the servants, thinking that their new situation is good for her father. While this means less stress and more time for her, she misses working at the clinic. She can afford a new, upscale wardrobe and a new computer, but the fear that this is all a mistake and someone will come to confiscate their new wealth holds her back. Besides, her practical nature only cares that her second-hand laptop works just fine.

A locksmith, Roff, arrives to take a look at the safe for which only Montrag knew the combination. Since drilling into the pins would be noisy and difficult, as well as ruin the safe, he suggests looking for the combination. Ehlena and Roff scour the study, but don't find the combination.

In the desk, there are newspaper articles on Rehv's alleged death that Ehlena's saved and research that she'd done on the history of Rehvenge's family. Discovering Madalina's many injuries that sent her to Havers, she sees the pattern of abuse. Each time Rehvenge was the one to bring his mother to the clinic and stayed with her.

Bella's hurting after losing her mother and brother so soon; Rehvenge's death is sitting heavily on Wrath, but he doesn't believe anyone could get a bomb past iAm, Rehv, Trez, and Xhex. What's more is that the sympath and shadows are still working together at the Iron Mask like they're waiting for him to come back. Wrath suspects Rehv faked his death because that's what he'd do and he feels like he owes the male for what he did with the Montrag situation. Beth can't imagine why Rehv would do that to Bella and Nalla when he loved them so much.

Mary enters the study, bringing with her a dog named George that's trained to assist the blind. Wrath has been adapting and relying on the people around him more than he'd like, but the idea of having a service dog is too much for him. Mary reassures him that they have two weeks to get to know each other and if it doesn't work out, then there's no obligation.

The golden retriever's gentle whine of complaint that Mary won't let him immediately go up to Wrath stops him from shutting the whole thing down right away; he even uses Boo as an excuse because they might not get along. Beth tells him that Boo was sitting right next to George; her cat greeted the dog when he came into the house and hasn't left George since.

Grumpy because he's feeling cornered and not even the cat's on his side, Wrath pets George, who immediately licks his hand and cuddles up to him. Breaking down a little, he tells Mary he doesn't know if he can be blind. While being kind and firm, Mary tells him that he is blind and that the dog will help him be more independent of the people he's been relying on. Wrath has been making progress, but he's still running into things and Beth hasn't left the house in a month because she's been busy taking care of him.

George, being well-trained, knows what he's doing, it's mostly Wrath that needs to get used to communicating with the dog. Although he keeps petting the dog, he's in denial over keeping it.

Chapter 63

The next night, Roff returns to drill the safe; inside, Ehlena finds papers that prove Montrag and his father, Rehm, were the ones who deceived Alyne. She also finds Rempoon's affidavit and compares the date with Madalina's last suspicious injury: they match. She asks a doggen exactly how Montrag died.

It's last call at the Iron Mask, which is a much more chill environment and clientele than ZeroSum, and while checking the bathrooms for any stragglers, Xhex finds John Matthew and Qhuinn double-teaming a woman in a stall. After the heavy drinking and all the sex, John looks like crap and she tries to confront him about it, then tries to apologize. He flips her the bird and walks out.

She gets a call from Ehlena since Rehv's old number was forwarded to her, she assumes it's about the money Rehv had arranged to go to her on a monthly basis. Ehlena tells her that she doesn't think Rehv is dead.

Chapter 64

Xhex warns Ehlena that she's a sympath, too, which doesn't surprise Ehlena. She explains what she's figured out about Rempoon's and Montrag's deaths and that she thinks Montrag finally decided to move on the information on Rehv that Rehm had been sitting on. She thinks that the explosion was to fake his death and he'd shown her the ugly truth so harshly in order to protect her. Montrag was revenge before Rehv left.

Xhex corrects her on the identity of Montrag's killer and Ehlena tells her they should meet, which startles Xhex because not many people would want to meet up with someone they know is a murderer. Xhex doesn't think Ehlena could handle the truth, Ehlena shows her backbone, and Xhex tries one last time to turn Ehlena away by saying she doesn't know anything. With a curse that would do Wrath proud, Ehlena tells her that Rehv fed from her so she can still sense him. Xhex's starting to see what Rehv saw in Ehlena. Ehlena tells her to go to the mansion in Connecticut, also spilling the beans on her relation to Montrag and the inheritance. Also, she's annoyed that a perfectly good rug was ruined with Montrag's blood when there was marble floor not far away. With that, Xhex's preconceptions about Ehlena are blown out of the water.

When Xhex arrives, Ehlena takes her into the study, surprising her again that Ehlena would meet with her in the same room Xhex had murdered her relative in. If Xhex had wanted Ehlena's blood, she'd had plenty of chances to take her out before; she wouldn't wait to do it. She confirms that Rehv killed Rempoon for terrorizing his family, but Madalina thought she'd deserved it. Yes, Rehv is still alive at the colony, but he wouldn't want Ehlena involved.

No, Montrag wasn't killed to keep Rehv's secret, but she won't tell Ehlena why. At that point, Ehlena threatens to go to the king and blow Xhex's cover. Xhex tries to intimidate her, but she knows the sympath won't hurt her because Rehv would've warned her off of Ehlena, that's why he pulled the little performance at ZeroSum. Looking back, she remembers his pain and desperation; at the time she'd thought it was either a front or over losing his cover.

Xhex tells her about the princess and why Rehv did it; she interprets Ehlena's reaction to the knowledge that the princess is his half-sister as disgust and snaps at Ehlena that not only are there very few sympaths left so inbreeding is inevitable, he'd never have signed up for that of his own accord. Ehlena tells her that her reaction was empathy for both Rehv and Xhex, not judgment. Keeping true to her MO, Xhex tells her not to waste her energy on Xhex, and of course Ehlena says not to tell her how to feel. The two females realize that if the situation was different, they could like each other.

Sensing that it goes against Xhex's character, Ehlena asks why she didn't go after Rehv and Xhex shows her the letter he'd left her. As Ehlena reads it, Xhex admits that Rehvenge has been her hero and deserves a lot better, a real life, not the crap hand he's been dealt and the sacrifices he's had to make.

Ehlena announces that they're going to go rescue him with Xhex going with her on her behalf and not Rehvenge's. Xhex points out that they'd need more backup, even if Ehlena knows how to shoot. They agree to each other's stipulations: Ehlena goes, too, and they do things Xhex's way.

Chapter 65

Before Ehlena and Xhex say anything, Wrath guesses that Rehvenge is alive and they want to rescue him. He asks how Ehlena's involved and she just says it's personal. Xhex reminds him what Rehvenge did for him and Wrath tells her he hasn't forgotten because that's the reason the two of them are in his home. He asks how they're going to deal with the emailed threat and Xhex promises that she'll take care of the person behind it. If the sympath king tries to get Rehv back, he's Wrath's subject, too.

Like Xhex, Wrath doesn't want Ehlena to go, but she insists. When Wrath asks her if she'd still insist if he withdrew the offer of the Brotherhood's assistance, she tells him that Rehv's her hellren, which earns her a stare from Xhex, and that she can track him since he fed from her. Moreover, she's a nurse and he'll probably need medical attention. The nurse part doesn't sway him since Vishous is trained, but she points out that he doesn't have Rehv's shellan in his arsenal.

Summoning the Brothers, Wrath tells them they want to bring Rehv home and all of them volunteer without hesitation, except for Lassiter who bemoans the fact he'll miss a Beaches marathon. That earns him ribbing from the Brotherhood. As they make a plan of attack, Bella overhears them from the hallway and demands to know why they're talking about Rehvenge. Zsadist pulls her aside and explains the situation; Ehlena empathizes with how Bella's feeling.

Wrath makes Ehlena and Xhex both stay at the mansion for the day, to which Xhex protests due to the close proximity to John Matthew. The king wants to know exactly where she is and what she's doing, telling her that she doesn't have to worry about weapons.

John, drunk, stumbles into the room where Xhex is saying and without either of them saying a word, they have sex. After he leaves, she cries for hours.

Chapter 66

Lash meets with Ricardo Benloise, a major drug importer, on business. Returning home, he finds the princess had incapacitated the lessers Lash had left to watch her and escaped. He arms himself and heads to the sympath colony to bring her back.

With George, Wrath's regained his confidence when it comes to moving around the house because he's learning to trust and read the dog's signals. He breaks the Brotherhood up into two teams, leaving Ehlena out. She asks where she'll be and Tohr tells her she's to stay behind in the Hummer; that does not go over well with Ehlena. Bella announces that she wants Ehlena to go in because he'll only stay alive for her. Wrath wants to shoot that idea down, but he remembers when he'd been shot and had pulled through thanks to Beth's presence. Although the Brotherhood puts on a face of subordination in front of outsiders, Tohr starts to object to the idea until Wrath makes it an order and flashes the king's ring. Ehlena promises Bella that they'll bring her brother back "one way or the other."

Wrath wonders why Beth puts up with all the crap that she does: the Brotherhood always around, the burden of ruling, him being a jerk and lying to her, his blindness... She tells him that she sees the future in his eyes and that he doesn't have to fight with his hands to be brave, a king, or her hellren. He leads with his heart. Her Hallmark moment words flip his way of looking at his situation on its head. He realizes he'd been resenting the kingship since he felt like a fighter stuck behind a desk and he'd had one foot out the door the whole time, but if he didn't have the option of fighting, then he had to truly settle into his role as the only choice left to him.

Chapter 67

While she doesn't understand all of Rehv's motives, Ehlena's decided to forgive him even if she's not certain how things will end up between them. As they arrive at the colony, they encounter Lash, which is a shock to everyone but Xhex, who'd assumed that the Brotherhood already knew. Ehlena, Vishous, and Zsadist enter the underground labyrinth that's the true colony.

Up top, Lash lobs what's basically an energy bomb and then Rhage's Beast comes out to play, however, Lash is impervious to the Beast's fire breath. Two cars full of lessers roll up during the fight.

Chapter 68

Xhex and the Brothers sandwich Ehlena between them, following her senses, they discover a hidden door to a room covered in spiders and scorpions. Hanging in the centre's what looks like a cocoon, also covered in things with far too many legs.

The Beast and Lash are playing dodgeball with fireballs; he suspects that the princess called the Brotherhood to let them know he'd be following her. Knocking the Beast out cold, he leaves his lessers to fight the Brotherhood while he enters the labyrinth to find "his female."

Chapter 69

Xhex has to stop Ehlena from entering the room to get to Rehvenge. V uses his left hand to clear the critters and Ehlena creates a makeshift flamethrower with V's lighter and aerosolized antibiotic spray to take care of the ones dropping from the ceiling. Zsadist takes a buzz saw to the chains bolted through Rehv's shoulders. The light of V's hand goes out, plunging them into darkness.

Chapter 70

In the prison section, Lash follows a trail of sympath blood, but he knows it isn't the princess' because he knows what hers smells like. He finds her standing over V's unconscious body still dressed in the lingerie and stilettos he'd dressed her in and staring at Rehvenge's insect covered body hanging from bolts set into his shoulders. The princess goes ferally possessive over Rehv and because psychopaths think alike, Lash goes ferally possessive over her, pissed that she'd only been biding her time to get back to Rehv. Xhex plugs her four times in her signature style and Lash catches the princess, only to slam her against the wall when she still reaches out for Rehv.

The sympaths enter, chanting, and making his exit, Lash takes Xhex with him. Since he uses a sort of mhis, no one sees them leave.

Rehvenge regains consciousness and sees Ehlena and Zsadist facing a hundred sympaths chanting in a procession. The ceremony of the sympaths and the literal blue blood on the princess' hands tell him that she killed their uncle, the king, and the sympaths are selecting him as their new king. He also recognizes the precise grouping of four shots in the princess' chest as Xhex's doing. Rehv tries to get Ehlena to leave, who refuses of course, and he wants to kill whoever spilled the beans to her.

Too weak to stand, he covers it by assuming a contemplative kneeling posture to accept the sympaths' choice. The princess, who's still barely alive, stumbles towards Ehlena with a dagger. A sympath's favourite method of murder is involuntary suicide. Rehv uses his abilities to add fuel to the fire of her obsessive emotions and then shatters her with the knowledge that Ehlena is his queen and that he ended up with everything that she'd wanted until the princess takes her own life. Then he has all of the bugs that lived in the walls and tormented him swarm over her and bite and sting.

After the sympaths leave, his rescue party removes the hooks from his body and he passes out.

Chapter 71

In the back of the Escalade on their way back, Rehv tells her she couldn't have come for him; Ehlena points out that rescuing him is no different than when he'd tried to protect her from the ugliness of his life. He says it's different because he's a sympath and not enough vampire for her. They confess their love for each other.

She tries to get him to take her vein, but he doesn't think he's worthy enough. She tells him she's the one who gets to judge who gets her blood or not and gets him to feed. Since a bonded male invariably becomes aroused after feeding from their mate, she returns some of the favours he's been giving her when he couldn't perform. Discovering the barb makes her eager to experience it.

Chapter 72

Back at the mansion, no one's heard from Xhex and Rehv intends to go search for her at the colony at nightfall. He and Ehlena decide to remain in Caldwell, which means they'll have to continue keeping his sympath side a secret.

Rehv tells Bella how he was conceived and that neither he nor Madalina wanted her to know. When she suspects what happened to her biological father, Rempoon, he explains that if he hadn't, Rempoon would have eventually killed her. Since Rempoon held the rape and Rehvenge's sympath heritage over Madalina's head, leaving him wasn't an option for her even though she didn't love him.

He apologizes to her and that he'd tried to apologize to their mahmen for being born, which astounds Bella because it wasn't his fault, none of what happened was his fault; she assures him that their mother loved him. It was exactly what he needed to hear after blaming himself his whole life for what had happened to Madalina.

Rehvenge holds Bella who's holding Nalla and hums the lullaby he used to sing to Bella.

Chapter 73

John Matthew's certain that Lash has Xhex and keeps reminding himself that lessers are impotent in the hopes that she would be spared that. He wishes he hadn't been so cold when they were last together and had accepted her apology. Xhex is his female and he was going to safe her and destroy Lash.

Chapter 74

The Brothers replace Wrath's delicate antique desk and chair, the latter having finally given up the ghost and shattering into tiny pieces. They put in his study the same hand-carved ebony desk that his father had used and the throne. Darius had brought them over from the Old Country even though Wrath'd never thought he'd use them; it feels right to him when he sits in it.

Wrath offers assistance in finding Xhex and tells Rehv that he wants him to be the sympath king even if he doesn't live at the colony because, as per V's report, the sympaths are scared of Rehv. Ehlena agrees with him, but Rehv's not interested in the job since he has no idea how to do it. Wrath tells him that he felt the same but fate had a different plan for the two of them. All kings are trying to figure things out as they go, he just has to listen to his heart to find the correct course of action.

Filled with respect for Wrath, Rehv remembers killing his father as he sat on the throne and wonders if he's doomed to suffer the same fate. As long as Ehlena loves and supports him, then maybe he should be a bit more hopeful about the future, although she can never go to the colony. He warns her that he'll inevitably have to deal with some really ugly things that might make her look at him differently, but she's confident he'll choose the best course of action like he always has, even if it's a case of choosing the lesser evil.

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