“As much as we have free choice, absolute destiny is immutable. What is meant to happen does, through one measure or another.”

-Cormia to Phury

Lover Enshrined is the sixth novel of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. It is preceded by Lover Unbound and is followed by both Lover Avenged and Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide; although the latter does not in itself continue the overall story of The Black Dagger Brotherhood since it contains "interviews" and group chats with the Brotherhood, it does contain the novella Father Mine, which features Zsadist, Bella, and Nalla and how Zsadist is adjusting to fatherhood.

The story of The Black Dagger Brotherhood continues with Phury and Cormia as they deal with the future of The Chosen and his drug addiction as he assumes the role of Primale.

Synopsis

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other—six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now, a dutiful twin must choose between two lives...

Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself- she sees the emotionally scarred male behind all his noble responsibility. But while the war with the Lessening Society grows more grim, and tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, Phury must decide between duty and love.

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 drug use and addiction and references to rape.

Prologue

In 1983, the Omega's son was born of a female vampire he'd kidnapped for the purpose of impregnating. She didn't survive the birth, but she wouldn't have lived long anyway. Even the Lesser who made sure that the son would end up being taken in by vampires was killed to keep the birth a secret. Despite his blatant disregard for any lives, even those of his own Lessers, he finds himself worrying about his son even though he wants him to grow up amongst the enemy in order to learn how to best find and kill them.

Chapter 1

Phury's in his room sketching Bella again and for some reason, he's drawn her hair up in a chignon when she always wears her hair down. Once it's complete, he covers the entire piece with vines. He's named his voice of self-doubt and addiction the Wizard. Two months after he became the Primale, the mating with Cormia is still incomplete and his medallion keeps vibrating on and off as a summons from the Directrix, Amalya, so he's been ignoring it.

Chapter 2

For the past two months, Cormia has kept to herself, rarely venturing outside of her room save for meals. Fritz had noticed she made patterns with toothpicks and brought her some dried peas; he showed her how to soak the peas in water and use them as joint pieces for the toothpicks in a sort of Tinker Toy system. Using these simple pieces, she builds large, elaborate structures as a sort of architectural scale model. She feels guilty for having thoughts and an imagination that individualistic.

Phury stops by her room to tell her that he has to go out on patrol and he's been thinking that adjusting's been difficult for her and he's worried that she's lonely, so he arranged for someone to keep her company that night.

Chapter 3

A lesser, Mr. D, is summoned by the Omega to a farmhouse outside of Caldwell where he's made Fore-lesser; the Omega had already decapitated the couple living there. Giving Mr. D an image of a male's face, he orders him to find the male living amongst the vampires.

Qhuinn asks his father, Lohstrong, if he requires any assistance with an upcoming glymera ball. His father, rather than telling his own son to his face that he's not welcome at the fête, grumbles that one of the doggen was supposed to tell him he wasn't invited. Lohstrong and one of the doggen make a sign to ward off evil when they see him.

Chapter 4

Phury introduces John Matthew and Cormia before going out on duty, having asked John to keep Cormia company. The two of them bond over feeling like outsiders, like they don't belong, and teaching each other about their different worlds. Curious, she wants to explore the backyard and he watches as she runs across the lawn, feeling free for the first time in her life and on her birthday.

Chapter 5

Phury chases down a lesser and while they claim an alley to fight in, he sees an addict kill his dealer for his product and knows that he's no better than the crackhead. The twitchy need for the drug and the ecstasy of a surplus stash is all too familiar. They fight, and when the lesser realizes Phury's going to take his time killing him calls him "the torturer;" Phury's developed a reputation among the Society for being especially brutal and he's recognized by his gruesome grin of anticipation. While he's distracted by toying with the Lesser, another sneaks up behind him.

At his office in ZeroSum, Rehvenge has an employee strung up between iAm and Trez for abusing his girlfriend, Chrissy, who also works there as a prostitute. The human, Grady, has already lost control of his bladder and tries to deflect and deny: it could have been one of her customers, he didn't do anything, and even the tried and true "she was asking for it." At that point, Rehvenge threatens to feed him his own balls and lists the evidence against him: she'd had a mark on her bruised cheek that matched the ring he wears and he has two scratched and bruised knuckles.

Remembering the abuse his own mother had to suffer until he was able to do something about it, he impales his own hand with a razor-sharp letter opener, embedding the blade into his desk. Rehv can't feel the pain due to the drugs he takes. Lifting that same hand, he pulls it out of the wood, widens the hole, and then looks at Grady through the wound. The human vomits.

Rehvenge fires Grady for skimming from the till and dealing heroin in the club, confiscating his car as compensation for the theft. He warns Grady that if Chrissy ends up with so much as a chipped nail or suddenly quits out of the blue, he'll come after him. Afterwards, Xhex tells Rehv that if Chrissy's hurt again, she wants to be the one to go after him. Rehv tells her they'll flip for it.

It's the second Tuesday of the month and he prepares to drive up north to meet the sympath Princess who's been blackmailing him into sex in return for keeping Rehv and Xhex's half-breed status a secret. It's an arrangement that's been going on for 25 years since Xhex made a mistake that revealed their sympath sides. As he showers, he contemplates how he's really no different from the prostitutes who work for him.

Chapter 6

As Cormia and John get to know each other and make plans to watch a movie later, her personality starts coming out more.

In the alley, Mr. D has a gun drawn on Phury. The Brother gets the drop on Mr. D, whose gun goes off, and during the skirmish, his prosthetic goes flying and he falls. They scuffle on the ground and, when he gets the upper hand, Phury gets ready to brutalize the Fore-lesser. He's interrupted by Zsadist, which pisses him off because he feels robbed of the thrill of making the Fore-lesser suffer and he doesn't see it as any different from when Z used to have Phury beat him bloody. The brothers argue, Zsadist reminding him that he'd promised to stop torturing Lessers and Phury telling him that it's none of his business and to leave him alone.

Ignoring his twin, he starts to carve into Mr. D and Zsadist knocks his dagger out of his hand, then stabs the other incapacitated Lesser back to the Omega. The three of them end up in a standoff as police sirens approach, summoned by the sound of gunfire. Phury has to take control of the humans' minds, which allows Mr. D to escape, taking one of the officers' guns as he leaves. Zsadist gives the cop his gun and a spotty cover story to explain the strange gun.

Phury promises to go straight home; instead, he goes to ZeroSum to get more red smoke.

Chapter 7

Cormia's developing opinions about various things, especially architecture and noting how she would have designed the mansion differently. While exploring the hallway of statues, she overhears Zsadist tell Wrath what happened with Phury and the lessers in the alleyway. Since Phury isn't home yet, it's apparent that he lied when he said he'd go straight home. The topic of kicking him out of the Brotherhood comes up.

Blay, John, and Qhuinn go to the mall to add to John's small and unflashy wardrobe. The total ends up being more than John has on him and Blay picks up the difference, telling John that he can get him back later. The only employee at Abercrombie & Fitz at the time flirts with Qhuinn and they go into one of the dressing rooms. Qhuinn tries to get John to join them, but John declines and Qhuinn gives him a hard time about it. Blaylock is noticeably uncomfortable as they wait for Qhuinn.

Chapter 8

Wrath waits up for Phury, who would have to pass by his office at the top of the stairs in order to get to his room. When he gets in, Phury knows right away that Wrath knows and is pissed. Wrath asks him what he thinks should be done with him. Phury starts to promise that he'll clean up his act and Wrath cuts him off, getting even angrier, telling him that his word means nothing because he keeps breaking it. He's stripped of his single dagger, having forgotten the other in the alley which was retrieved by Zsadist and handed over to Wrath already. From then on, he's a Brother in name only, banned even from the meetings. The only reasons why Wrath doesn't kick him out completely is that the Primale has to be a Brother and he doesn't want to add more stress to Z who's already dealing with his shellan's difficult pregnancy.

After seeing Rehvenge off to the sympath Princess, Xhex takes out her anger and frustration on an asshole patron groping a waitress. Like a gentleman, John holds the emergency exit door to the alley open for her while she drags the guy outside. Rummaging through his pockets, she finds drugs, which she confiscates, and tells him he's banned from ZeroSum. John appreciates watching her work and she realizes that he's looking at her like an adult male, not like the child she'd seen him as when he'd been a pretrans. Using her sympath abilities, she sees that he's been getting off by thinking about her. She tells him that next time he does, he should call her name because it'll make it that much more satisfying.

Chapter 9

In the Adirondacks, Tohrment is living in a cave and feeding off deer in the hopes that he'll die of starvation. Suicide condemns one to Dhunhd and since he wants to see Wellsie again in the Fade, he can't take his own life, no matter how much he wants to.

Chapter 10

Phury's been smoking nonstop since his ass-chewing and he's getting antsy because his stash is already getting low. The medallion vibrates a summons again. He stops by Cormia's room and they talk about the time she's been spending with John and Phury finds himself getting jealous while realizing how much he'd neglected her. He hadn't even realized she'd had a birthday. Admiring the model she'd built, he offers to show her the hall of statues.

While he's telling her about the statues, he realizes he's tired and is still dressed in his dirty fighting leathers. Realizing that he's not in a good place, she guides him back to his room and offers to get a shower going for him. He's dissociating so she gets him undressed down to his underwear when he's able to take over and asks her to stay, so she sits on the edge of the bathtub and watches him hungrily.

Chapter 11

After his shower, Phury's still dazed and says he's going to bed. Cormia notes that he hasn't brushed his long hair and offers to do it for him. Remembering Bella had told him he was too rough with his hair, he accepts and even asks her to continue a little longer.

Feeling possessive, her fangs spring out and he realizes she's hungry, asking her why she didn't tell him. He assumes it's because he's missing part of a leg; if that's the issue, they'll find someone else for her. She says that the leg makes no difference to her, she just didn't want to impose. He has her feed from his neck. It's his turn to feel possessive and they nearly have sex until they're interrupted by his medallion going off again. The reminder of their responsibilities kills the mood. He finds that he's calm and relaxed with Cormia like no one else, not even Bella, and he knows that she could easily become his next addiction, which would be a severely unhealthy relationship.

Chapter 12

Mr. D shows the image the Omega gave him to three Lessers, one of which he shoots just to get their attention and who just happens to be much larger than Mr. D. He orders the Lessers to find the male and bring him in alive.

In the training centre's lockerroom, Qhuinn gives John an expensive pair of sneakers to apologize for trying to push him into sex. Lash comes in and mocks Qhuinn for his heterochromia, which has gotten him shunned by the glymera and even his own family, then blatantly shows off his signet ring. When a young male of the aristocracy goes through their transition their father presents them with a signet ring to mark his coming of age; Lohstrong did not give Qhuinn one.

Lash asks John if he screamed in ASL when he was raped. While interning at Havers', he accessed John's medical file and read about his PTSD. Qhuinn tries to intervene, but Lash throws it in his face that he can't touch him due to his status. Lash tells John that he probably begged for more. For the first time since his transition, John dematerializes across the room to attack Lash. They go down to the floor and Lash slips on a pair of brass knuckles, dazing John with a punch to the face. Reaching for the fly of John's pants, Lash asks him if he only likes humans in his ass. John curls up in the fetal position and vomits.

In a move that shocks everyone, Qhuinn slits Lash's throat. Blay runs to get help and John applies pressure to the wound. Doc Jane takes over and they take him to Havers. Since Qhuinn's still a minor, Zsadist puts him on house arrest.

Chapter 13

Phury goes to meet the Directrix, Amalya, and stops by the Temple of the Primale. He remembers the vision Vishous told him about five months ago in Lover Unbound: he's at a crossroads in a field of white. There are storms all around until he takes a cloud from the sky and wraps it around the well, then the rain stops. When Phury was supposed to complete the mating with Cormia, she'd cried until he freed her and wrapped her in a curtain that hung from the ceiling.

The Directrix comes to him and offers to introduce him to the other Chosen. Phury knows it's to get him to choose another First Mate, and he refuses because that would devastate Cormia; not only would they see her as a failure, she would feel like one. Amalya tells him that she's already suffering, she saw it in her eyes when saw Cormia the day before on her birthday.

She shows him the Nursery, which is full of empty cradles. The Chosen are all trapped by tradition and they hoped that their functions would return to normal, giving them purpose again. Feeling trapped, Phury tells her he'll take another First Mate, but he wants Amalya to make it perfectly clear to the Chosen that he was the one who was unworthy of her and that she did nothing wrong. The Chosen are taught to believe that the Primale could never be unworthy, so this comes as a bit of a shock to the Directrix. He wants Cormia honoured and respected or he'll destroy the Sanctuary. Amalya promises to send another Chosen to him.

Phury remembers his father's alcoholism and knows that he will be no better a father than Aghony was.

Chapter 14

Qhuinn remembers the first time his parents did something nice for him; they let him spend a weekend with his cousin, Saxton. Normally they didn't approve of Saxton's family since they didn't perfectly adhere to the rigid rules of the glymera. Their weekend was cut short because both boys got too drunk. When Qhuinn was dropped off at home, he found his family was having a party to celebrate Lohstrong stepping down as leahdyre of the Princeps Council. As part of his speech, he thanked his family for being there that night to support him.

A doggen informs Qhuinn that he's disowned, to leave the house immediately, and please wait for a ride at the end of the driveway. He takes some of Qhuinn's blood to burn as part of a cleansing ritual after he leaves. Since he's carrying a duffel bag, Qhuinn can't dematerialize. Blay texts him to say that he should come and stay at his place but Qhuinn knows that would socially destroy the social standing of Blay's family. Not sure exactly what he's going to do, he starts walking east.

Since John lives with the Brotherhood at a top-secret location where he can't even have visitors, that's not an option, either. Thinking about what happened to John, Qhuinn now knows why he never picked up women and feels like even more of a jerk for harassing him about it. He honestly hopes that Lash dies because that would be the only way to keep John's secret. If it got out that he was a rape survivor, vampire society will, by and large, see him as weak for having been victimized by a human, no matter that he was bigger than a pre-trans boy and armed with a weapon. That would bar him from becoming a full Brother, getting mated, and having a family. He doesn't regret a thing.

Chapter 15

John receives a text from Qhuinn saying that he's going to turn himself in to the King. John tells him to stay where he is and wait for Blaylock who's on his way. He blames himself for the trouble that Qhuinn's in because if he didn't have PTSD then it wouldn't have been in his medical file for Lash to find. He's late to meet Cormia for the movie they were planning to watch because he was researching vampire law to see what Qhuinn would be facing. The update from Z indicates that things aren't looking good for Lash.

Chapter 16

Xhex confronts Rehvenge in his office about the particularly bad mood he's been in since he returned from his rendezvous with the Princess. While she's there, he needs another dose of dopamine to keep his sympathy half under control and she sees that he's been injecting without sterilizing the site first and has an infection that hasn't healed even with their healing abilities. She strongarms him into going to Havers, threatening to tell iAm and Trez who'd lock him in the trunk if he was lucky; if he was a dick, they'd use him as a hood ornament on their way to the clinic. Rehv says that sometimes he gets tired of fighting his sympath side and imagines uses his powers for evil on the humans they pass by.

The reminder of Phury's responsibilities is too much for him because he can barely take care of himself, he doesn't see how he could possibly take care of 40 Chosen and their young. When he was five years old, his own father passed out in the garden just before sunrise. Phury managed to get him inside the house before dawn where Aghony slapped him, telling him that he was trying to kill himself. Then, breaking into tears, he hugged Phury and promised he'd never do it again. Yet the scene continued to repeat itself over the years. Phury saved him every time because he wanted Zsadist to have a father to come home to. Ultimately, his father drank himself to death before Zsadist was rescued.

Zsadist calls Phury to get his help handling Lash's parents and when Phury has to refuse, Z learns that his twin's been kicked out of the Brotherhood and hangs up on him.

Chapter 17

Noticing that something's bothering John, Cormia gets him to open up a little, giving no details. She points out that he did no wrong and Qhuinn made his own choice. It sounds like fate to both of them and she recommends that instead of worrying about what could have happened, he should focus on how he can help Qhuinn now.

Qhuinn's walking down the road when a car pulls up and four males dressed all in black and armed with black clubs exit the vehicle. He recognizes it as an honour guard, a group to extract reparations for what he did by beating him. They're not supposed to kill him, but they try to by targeting his kidneys, kicking him underneath the jaw full force, and slamming onto his chest. One speaks out in protest at the excess brutality and Qhuinn recognizes the voice of his brother, Luchas, which means that the guard is to restore his family's name. If not for Luchas and the arrival of another vehicle, they would have killed him and even make further threats on his life for being a "mutant freak."

Chapter 18

While searching for Cormia, Phury finds Bella out of breath and too tired to climb the stairs to her room. He offers to carry her up and when she readily accepts he begins to panic a little. Upstairs they see Cormia coming down the hallway and she helps get Bella settled in her room. Phury asks her to keep Bella company so the two of them watch Project Runway.

The Omega appears to Mr. D in the while looking for the male and informs him that the search is over because he's been found. When he died, the Omega sensed his location. He orders Mr. D to prepare for an induction ceremony for his son.

Rehvenge is waiting to see Havers at the clinic. During his visits, he keeps the information about his sympath side hidden in Havers' mind and whenever he needs medical attention, he unpacks that information, and when they're done, it locks it back up to keep his secret.

While he's there, Zsadist asks him to stop dealing to Phury. When it comes to his customers, Rehv figures that addicts will find a way to get their fix anyway, and at least he can make sure his supply is consistent and free of contaminants. He starts to tell Z to fuck off but stops, sensing that Z's terrified. Looking into Z's mind, he sees a time when Phury nearly died of a fever and Z took care of him. Understanding the Brother better, Rehv formally vows that Phury won't leave his premises with drugs. Before they part, Rehvenge asks Z if something feels off to him, too. Then there's an explosion in the clinic.

Chapter 19

Phury shows up at the clinic to find it devastated by a bomb; even though he's unarmed, he goes in ready to fight bare-handed. Inside, there are three Lessers facing off against Zsadist and Rehvenge. Phury kills one with a chair. While the other males continue to fight, he goes through the clinic to assess the situation. He finds several survivors and locks them in the medroom, the closest room with a lock on it. Havers and three of the nurses locked themselves in his office. Phury develops a plan using the clinic's four ambulances to evacuate the survivors and the doggen in the house above, then ensures that the facility is clear of enemies. Lessers typically send in a second wave, so there's an urgency.

Butch, Rhage, and Vishous show up and Phury fills them and Zsadist in on the situation and his evacuation plan. the Brothers stay behind to take on the second wave. Before he leaves to provide protection for the survivors, Phury tells Z he came because Z wasn't answering his phone but he was worried about Bella and wanted him to know.

Chapter 20

Mr. D arrives at the farmhouse with the things the Omega told him to bring. Inside, the Omega's humming a lullaby to the blonde male, who is alive. To fix that, he smothers the male Then he rips out the heart, drains the blood from the body, and bleeds into the gaping chest wound. Lightning strikes the body and it comes to life.

Blay resuscitates Qhuinn and he and John prepare to take him to the clinic. Qhuinn tells them no because the honour guard wasn't done with him, so John contacts Doc Jane as plan B.

Chapter 21

Cormia and Bella are enjoying themselves, watching Project Runway and reading magazines, when Zsadist, still fully armed, bursts in and scares them. Bella reassures him that she was merely tired. Z, seeing Cormia's frightened, immediately gentles; he apologizes and says he was worried about his shellan is all. Bella asks after the rest of their family; he tells her that the Brothers are all fine and he wants Doc Jane to check her out. She doesn't see the need but agrees if it'll ease his nerves. Z asks her if she's spotting again and she tells him it's not much or any different from before but he does have a point in getting the doctor. Watching them, Cormia's envious of their relationship.

Bella invites Cormia to come over later to continue binge-watching and tells her that she likes her company, she makes her feel calm. In return, Cormia offers to be her birth companion and Bella admits that she'll take all the help she can get because she's worried about Z and the baby.

Corma and Phury see each other in the hall where he thanks her for looking after Bella. She asks him to walk with her in the garden and he declines. After seeing the bodies in the clinic he wanted to feel alive with her and with her as a mate she'd have to watch him smoke himself into a stupor every day. Would she have to drag his unconscious body into the house before dawn, only to get hit for it?

Blay sneaks Qhuinn into his parents' house where he takes the opportunity to look at the papers the doggen had sent him off with, which was effectively his family excising him. Blay tells him that his parents know he's there and want him to stay because they're acquainted with Qhuinn's parents and Lash.

Chapter 22

Lash wakes from his resurrection and when the Omega touches him, he feels like he's home. Then he eats a Lesser.

Phury's high and draws Cormia like he'd draw one of his French girls.

Jane's trying to convince Wrath to let them bring Qhuinn into her new clinic in the training centre. He relents when she points out the male could die. Jane lets him know she's going to help Havers set up the new clinic and with patient care.

Chapter 23

Zsadist calls Rehvenge to let him know how Bella's doing, which nearly sends Rehvenge out of his skin until he hears that it's not an emergency. The sympath remembers when Bella was seven years old, a year after he put her father in the ground, and she was still exhibiting the wariness of abused children. The Princess calls, interrupting his memories, to schedule a meeting with him the following night.

Qhuinn's recovering from surgery in the training centre and in the middle of an existential crisis processing the fact that he's alone without the support of family. Part of him thinks that it would've been easier if he'd just died.

Chapter 24

Cormia admits her feelings to Phury and calls him out for his unwillingness to mate any of the Chosen. He tells her that he's taking another First Mate, which she thinks means he doesn't want her. He continues on with how she didn't want any of this, he's not good enough, and she only has feelings for what she thinks he is, not who he actually is. She tells him that she sees his heart.

Taking him in her hand, she feels like she's in control for once in her life. When he tries to argue that it's a bad idea, she becomes obstinate. Before he can do the same for her, Fritz interrupts to announce that the Directrix and Selena are there to see him.

Chapter 25

The sun is rising in the Adirondacks, but Tohrment's too weak to crawl to his cave. He wishes he'd said good-bye to the son and Brothers he left behind.

Chapter 26

Mr. D drives Lash to his family's home where he enters with a hunting knife, wishing that he at least still had his old dog to bring into his new life.

Even though it kills him to admit it to a strong male that he respects, John goes to Wrath about Qhuinn and shows him his medical file to explain what went down with Lash. Wrath tells him that, that changes everything for Qhuinn and gets Fritz to bring Qhuinn to him.

Meanwhile, Qhuinn's trying to sneak out of Blay's house without saying goodbye, intending to disappear into the outlaw vampire colony out west. Blaylock's waiting for him in the escape tunnel with a lounger, a copy of A Season in Purgatory, a glass of orange juice, blanket, and a battery-operated lamp on a small table.

Blay tells him that he's summoned by Wrath and if he tries to make a run for it he'll have the Brotherhood after him. Qhuinn assumes it's for a royal tribunal and wants to run anyway; Blay insists on going with him. To save his friend, Qhuinn tells him he never wants to see him again because he knows that Blay's in love with him and he doesn't feel the same way so he's ending things now.

Walking away, Qhuinn realizes that after hurting Blay, he had hit the bottom of the barrel and was truly alone. He figures that if he was going to be a disgrace, he doesn't have to make it worse; he texts John with his location to give to Fritz.

Chapter 27

Now that she's no longer First Mate, Cormia knows she should go back to praying and meditating on the Other Side because she doesn't belong in the real world, but that feels like going backwards for her.

Phury confronts Z about never thanking him for spending a century searching for him and then saving him. Z says he never asked him to, that was Phury's white knight complex. If he hadn't saved Z, he'd never have met Bella, who wouldn't be in danger of dying. Phury had to bury their father and burn their mahmen's body. To Z, they were nothing more than strangers although they loved him. They fight some more, Phury even brings up his leg. Both of them get a lot of stuff off their chests.

Z thinks Phury's looking for justification for his self-destructive streak, which's hurting Z so he's not going to be grateful and play along. Phury says he doesn't think he's in the wrong to ask for an acknowledgement after being invisible in their family his whole life. Z insinuates rather crudely that Phury has a martyr complex, which earns him a punch from his twin.

Fritz's arrival with Qhuinn interrupts them and Z tells Phury that they'd be brawling if he hadn't promised to look after Cormia. The twins leave for Ibix's home.

Chapter 28

Wrath talks to Qhuinn alone and asks him if he meant to kill Lash? Yes. Would he have done the same if Lash hadn't gone for John's pants like he was going to assault him? No. Wrath points out that he didn't have to kill him; did he use deadly force for his own purposes? Qhuinn saw John freeze and he wouldn't have put it past Lash to actually go through on his threat. He acted on instincts when he saw his friend helpless, and yes, he would do it again.

Since Qhuinn's disowned, his family says that he's on the hook for the $5 million in restitution that Lash's family's demanding, but he'll accept Qhuinn as an indentured servant after he finishes his prison sentence. Even though that would mean his life would be over, Qhuinn accepts his fate but refuses to apologize. Wrath tells him that was the right answer and to hang with John outside his office.

Wrath declares Qhuinn ahstrux nohtrum, a private guard with a license to kill when protecting their master, to save him from punishment. He backdated the document and conveniently forgot to let John and Qhuinn know. Qhuinn's to move into the mansion, pull a salary, and while he's out of the training program, he'll still spar with the Brothers.

Overcome with emotion, Qhuinn whispers to Wrath that he thought he was all alone. Wrath tells him that he's one of them now. But he says he's no one. Since he saved John's honour, to Wrath, he's family. John and Qhuinn both vow to lay down their life for the other.

While Cormia purifies Bella's room, Bella tells her that Phury's not really in love with her because he's too focused on other people that he doesn't really know himself; he feels intense gratitude to her because he feels that she saved Zsadist. Cormia tells her that she's been passed over as First Mate and should return to the Sanctuary to make it easier for whomever replaces her. Bella knows that Cormia's lying to her about being fine with returning to the Other Side and tells her that if she's constantly arguing with herself over her heart vs what she should be doing then that's not where she's meant to be. Bella recommends she figure out who she is as a person.

Chapter 29

Lash stumbles out of his family's house covered in blood and vomits, in shock after murdering his family and saying that his mother screamed the loudest while he murdered his father. It had taken longer than he'd thought. The poor psycho's in shock and vomits.

The twins pull up to Ibix's house about the Lash situation and discover the slaughter; they call in Butch who arrives with Rhage. Lash, although they suspect the Lessers are to blame, left a gruesome tableau of his parents tied to their chairs in the dining room with doggen seated nearby as if to serve them. The alarm hadn't been triggered and nothing was stolen. The second wave of lessers shows up to loot; since Phury has no weapons and is no longer a Brother, he returns home to warn the glymera.

Chapter 30

Wrath presents Qhuinn with a pair of .45's and tells him that he's always to be armed when he's with John, even in the mansion. He also receives a chain with John's crest and a red teardrop tattoo under his left eye; at his request, V also tattoos the date, August 18, 2008, on the nape of his neck.

Chapter 31

Proving that people can be stupid no matter the species, the glymera's reaction to Phury's warning is to throw funerals and parties instead of hightailing it out of town; although he and the Brotherhood are operating under the assumption that Lash gave up information under duress. And in a truly tone-deaf move, the Princeps Council will receive the $5 million restitution to ensure that bad deeds were punished.

Phury gives Cormia a tour of the training centre; in one of the classrooms, he drinks from her and pleasures her.

Chapter 32

Phury admits to Cormia that he's a virgin and explains his vow of celibacy. She accuses him of using it to keep himself safe and insulated from others.

Chapter 33

Mr. D takes Lash to Screamer's where he drinks and gets laid.

Layla visits Cormia before seeing Phury and she sees the only way to deal with Phury mating her sisters is if she becomes a sequestered scribe, where she won't be required to mate with him or see his children. Having been denied by John, Layla understands Cormia's position, but she's hurting too much to listen to Layla.

Chapter 34

Lash is tempted to kill the woman he hooked up with but didn't want to deal with the mess in the club's washroom. His next stop after that is Ibix's house.

Layla assumes Phury's not going to choose her as First Mate. He's feeling a bit like a prime steak the way the Chosen have been looking at him; he chooses her because she's the first one other than Cormia that doesn't make him feel that way.

John and Qhuinn go to Blay's where Lyric, Blay's mahmen, greets him with a huge hug; the family's preparing to leave town to stay with family down south. Blay tells John that he wasn't speaking with Qhuinn because he'd told Blay that he knew Blay was in love with him, and he was right.

In the kitchen, four Lessers have broken in. One has a knife to Lyric's throat and drags her towards their minivan. Qhuinn blows the head off of one with one of his new .45s and stabs it back to the Omega while John takes care of the one with Lyric. To get her out of harm's way, he sends her off in the minivan. Blaylock takes out another as well as the living room picture window in the process. Rocke, Blaylock's accountant and former soldier dad, slices and dices up his Lesser with a sword and dagger, immediately afterwards he calls Lyric on her cell and tells her to dematerialize to their safe house. They pack up Rocke's car and the rest of the family leaves immediately.

Chapter 35

To get through his rendezvous with the Princess, Rehvenge lays off of the dopamine to let his sympath side rise to the surface, which enjoys the power he has over her and the twisted perversions she demands of and inflicts on him. In turn, she wants physical, carnal sex whereas sympath sex is typically more cold and detached. Each time it's a power struggle between the two of them that they crave, although Rehvenge also hates it at the same time. He gets her to tell him why she missed their last meeting, which was because his uncle was crowned king of the sympaths two nights prior. Poisoned by scorpion venom that she'd laced her bodystocking with, Trez has to help him out to the car where there's an anti-venom kit.

Chapter 36

The Wizard won't shut up inside Phury's head, listing all of his failures like he's set on repeat. Since he's out of red smoke, Phury starts to head out to get more when he runs into Wrath, who tells him that four founding families were hit, the heads of those families killed, and to do his job by making more Brothers with the Chosen. iAm doesn't appear to know about the vow Rehvenge made to Zsadist and sells to him; Xhex tries to stop Phury from leaving, but he avoids her.

Since Wrath can't reach John or Qhuinn on their phones, he gets a hold of Blay, who shows up at his parents' house to find them. He tells Qhuinn that his parents and sister are dead and his brother's missing; Wrath wants them back at the mansion. A Lesser enters the house to loot and Qhuinn goes apeshit on one, then coolly dispatches the one facing off with Blaylock because he couldn't watch Blaylock get carved up in a knife fight.

In the Mercedes on their way to the mansion, Blaylock asks John if he still wants to be friends even though he's gay, which earns him a solid punch from John who calls him a "fucking idiot." Blay hasn't come out to anyone but him and Qhuinn, but John promises to support him if and when he tells his parents or anyone else. In turn, Blay reassures him that knowing he was raped doesn't make him think any less of John.

His newfound power's going to Lash's head and he starts thinking of a general's uniform and how he's a military genius. While he's disappointed Qhuinn wasn't home for him to murder, he's looking forward to what he's going to do to Luchas, who he took alive.

True to form, Lash mouths off to a cop who pulls him over and gets arrested on sexual assault charges from the underage chick he'd had sex with back at Screamer's.

Chapter 37

To deal with knowing Layla and Phury were together, Cormia goes for a run outside then cools off in the pool where Blaylock, John, and Qhuinn come across her. Apparently feeling a little more himself, Qhuinn hits on her until John tells him she's Chosen.

Phury returns just in time to see Cormia climb naked out of the pool in front of the three young males and goes filled bonded male, charging them like a bull. They back off but are hesitant to leave Cormia alone with him until she reassures them; although they don't go too far, just in case.

He follows her up to her room where he becomes dominant and demanding; in return, she rebuts him coolly, reminding him that when he'd told her of his attempt to lose his virginity he'd compared Cormia to the prostitute, the one he couldn't orgasm with. He tells her that she'd never let him finish his explanation: he hadn't really wanted the prostitute, but he does want Cormia. And yet he still took Layla as First Mate.

Chapter 38

Phury pounces on her and just to make him work for it, she starts to crawl away just to make him work for it. He pins and takes her in an animalistic frenzy, which they both love. Afterwards, Cormia remembers that he still has to be the Primale and be with all of her sisters; hurting at the thought, she asks him to get off of her as soon as they're finished.

Interpreting the situation as all his fault, Phury excoriates himself for being so rough with her, overpowering her, and taking her from behind. She asks him to leave and that she's decided to become a sequestered scribe where she will record his history instead of being a part of his life.

In his room, Phury tries to hide from the Wizard spouting poison in his head by smoking up, which isn't working.

Chapter 39

A glowing being appears to Tohrment, shoves two Big Mac meals into his half-dead body, and tells him he needs to go home, say that he's "the favour I need to return." Tohr refuses to cooperate, but Lassiter tells him it's not up to either of them and he has to get Tohr back home. Given the choice of the easy way or the hard way, Tohr chooses the hard way and Lassiter knocks him out.

Chapter 40

John goes to check on Cormia and misinterpreting her, enters the room to find her pretty much how Phury left her: naked on her bed and with blood on her. The sight reminds him of his rape and he goes looking for Phury. Finding the Brother full of pain, guilt, and regret, John's convinced that he'd hurt Cormia and attacks. Phury does nothing to defend himself, allowing John to use him like a punching bag.

Rhage pulls John off of Phury and Wrath demands an explanation from John. Cormia and Phury fight: he says that he deserved it, she argues that it was consensual. To get everyone to shut up, Wrath shatters a crystal ashtray and says he'll do that the skull of the next person to talk, then kicks everyone out. Listening to Cormia, John realizes that it had been consensual because she wasn't full of shame and disgust like he'd been.

John realizes he's unstable because of the times he'd attacked Lash and what happened with Phury and that he should probably talk to someone about the crap he's keeping inside.

Cormia tells Phury and Wrath that it was consensual, and when he pushes to know what it was that set John off, she shuts him down. Cormia leaves directly for the Other Side.

Chapter 41

Lash gets arrested and picks a fight in jail to find some recruits.

Phury goes to Screamer's to buy heroin and buys off Grady. They're interrupted by the cops and Phury dematerializes out, leaving Grady to get arrested.

Chapter 42

While Qhuinn patches up the wounds Blaylock took during the fight with the lessers, he says that if he could love a guy, it would be Blay; he's thought about it and not just sexually, but he can only imagine himself getting serious with a female. Blay asks him if it's because he doesn't want another "defect," but Qhuinn argues that he doesn't exactly have anyone left to impress anymore. He wants Blay to be with someone who's worthy of him and it's not Qhuinn because he's not sure he could be monogamous.

They share a kiss and for the first time ever, Qhuinn turns someone down, telling Blay that he's too good for what Qhuinn does in the sack. Qhuinn vows to destroy anyone who hurts Blaylock.

Chapter 43

At his camp in the Adirondacks, Rehvenge is recovering from the Princess' poison with Trez taking care of him. Every time she poisons him, it takes longer and longer for Rehvenge to recover, but the only way out is to disappear where she can't find him and the Princess would just go after Madalina, who won't leave Bella and her young.

There's a glow on the horizon and Rehv panics, thinking it's later than he thought and sunrise caught him by surprise. Turns out it's actually the fallen angel, Lassiter, who's already known to Rehv and Trez, wanting to know how to find the Brotherhood. He says it's his last shot to get back into his boss' good graces and in return for Rehv's help, he'll heal the MRSA infection that's set into his arm, clear the venom from his system, and fix the fact that he's about two more exposures away from full anaphylaxis from it. Rehv agrees, but he won't contact the Brotherhood until he gets confirmation that Lassiter has Tohrment alive.

Chapter 44

Phury hides in an empty bedroom to shoot up and immediately begins vomiting.

Cormia becomes a sequestered scribe, which means she will live, work, eat, and sleep in a windowless room alone since there are currently no other sequestered scribes; food trays are delivered via a slot in the door. As soon as she shuts herself in, she feels imprisoned. Instead of letters, she finds herself sketching building plans.

John and Qhuinn select a room for Blay and in it, they find Phury overdosing and not breathing. Doc Jane, who'd been nearby with Bella, begins to treat him while Z's in shock.

Chapter 45

Lash has begun recruiting his cellmates when Grady joins them. Mr. D bails him out and Lash discovers that sunlight doesn't burn him.

Phury wakes up and talks to Z, who tells him that before they'd joined the Brotherhood, he'd gone back to his Mistress' castle. She'd taken another blood slave that he rescued; on their way out, they came across her and Z killed her. The slave was terrified, convinced that she wasn't really dead, so Zsadist took her head. He kept her cleaned skull with him to remind himself that when he woke from nightmares she was truly dead and couldn't hurt him anymore. Z tells Phury that there was no saving him or the other blood slave because they still have to live with it every day; he didn't fail Z because fixing Zsadist is impossible. It's obvious that Z believes that Bella and Phury are both going to die, leaving him alone, and he can't watch Phury slowly kill himself so the Brotherhood's kicking him out of the mansion.

Chapter 46

The total death count of the raids is 29, vampires and doggen included, as well as extensive looting. Lash is presumed dead due to torture. Wrath expects the Princeps Council to blame him and Brotherhood for not keeping them safe from the raids despite ignoring their warnings. Blay, John, and Qhuinn help the Brothers evacuate any vampires stubbornly remaining in town.

Phury finds Cormia in the Temple of Sequestered Scribes, where no one is supposed to go, however, being the Primale, he can go where he likes. Expressing his regret, he tells her that he wishes things were different; she tells him to change them with his authority as Primale. She tells him that she saw his OD and asks why. He confesses his love for her and his addiction, but she sees the number of vampires dwindling and tells him go to Layla.

In front of the Primale's Temple, he knows that mating with Layla is wrong and the withdrawals begin

Chapter 47

While checking on families, Blay, John, and Qhuinn stop by Lash's house because John's spidey senses are tingling. In Lash's room, they find a bloody blank fingerprint like one left by a vampire since they have no actual fingerprints.

Summoned by the Omega, which requires a quiet, private place, Lash swings by his parents' house since it was close by and sees John Matthew.

Chapter 48

Layla summons Cormia to tend to Phury who's detoxing; to cover for him, Cormia tells Layla to extoll the Primale's virility to their sisters, who are at dinner, and that he's requested privacy to rest. In his hallucinations, Phury sees the neglected garden of his childhood home where the clinging vines choked the statues symbolizing a man's life and she talks him through clearing the weeds, holding his hand. In doing so, Phury finds some part of himself.

The Omega teleports Lash out before Blay, John, and Qhuinn can do anything.

Chapter 49

Mentally back in his childhood home, clean and restored, Phury sees his parents who tell him that they are proud of him and call him "son" for the first time in his life. They tell him that they are ok and he's free to live his life.

Sober, Phury realizes that the Wizard, the negative voice in his head, was more like the Wizard of Oz, just a pathetic, powerless being ruling through fear. After cleaning up, he tells Cormia that he can't be with anyone but her, and more than that, the current way of doing things isn't working for anyone; the rigidity of tradition is killing them just as much as the Lessening Society. He knows that she'd only returned to the Sanctuary because she'd had no other options. Cormia posits the possibility of serving the Scribe Virgin while also living the lives that they choose for themselves. As the children of the Scribe Virgin, she would want the best for them like all parents do.

Chapter 50

The Brotherhood, Blay, John, and Qhuinn meet with Lassiter who brings Tohrment with him; the fallen angel is already known to the Brotherhood. The catch is that Lassiter comes with Tohr.

Chapter 51

Phury goes to see the Scribe Virgin; the tree in the courtyard is full of birds again, thanks to Vishous. She'd thought Phury would step down since he was supposed to be a transition for someone else. He proposes letting the Chosen who are more comfortable in the Sanctuary stay and those who want to find their own path can find a safe place with him on the Far Side. It will take decades to change things, so he will be back and forth between both sides. While he will take only Cormia as a mate, he'll accept the Chosen's female offspring and encourage Wrath to take the males.

The Scribe Virgin points out that careful breeding was to produce pure bloodlines and the strength that comes from them. Thinking of Blay and Qhuinn, who aren't of the proper bloodlines but are strong and worthy of the Brotherhood, he says that ultimately it will be up to Wrath, but he'll encourage Wrath to evaluate based on worth and not lineage.

Saddened, she admits that she feels like she's lost all of her people. Phury assures her that she hasn't, they will never forget or abandon her, it's just time for them to fly the nest and create their own future. Upon leaving her, he finds the grass of the Sanctuary is now green, the sky blue, daffodils are yellow, and everything is alive with colour.

At last, Phury feels like the hero he always wanted to be.

Tohr's amazed at how big John Matthew's gotten, commenting that he's the size of his dad. While John still feels like Tohr's his father, Tohrment is a broken shell of a male. They hold each other and cry.

Chapter 52

Phury asks Rehvenge if he can rent his great camp in the Adirondacks and Rehv tells him he can use it but refuses to take his money, says to consider it a mating gift. Rehv can see that Phury's sober and thinks he'll stay on the wagon. While he's there, Rehv gets a call offering him the role of leahdyre of the Princeps Council because he's the oldest surviving member of his line, the only remaining male eligible for the position, and there's a rule that females can't serve as leahdyre.

Phury tells Wrath of the changes with the Chosen and the king's totally on board with Phury's proposal; the antagonism that was between them previously has dissipated now that Phury's gotten his shit together.

Chapter 53

Worried he'll lose Tohr again and that he's losing his mind because he saw Lash briefly, John gets wasted at ZeroSum and with the philosophy of the inebriated he begins to ponder what it means to be male.

The Omega returns Lash to where he took him from, which was his parents' house. To prevent any other Lessers from inflicting more desescration than what he'd already inflicted on his parents, Lash buries their bodies under the oak tree in the back.

Chapter 54

Phury goes to an AA meeting and afterwards, while waiting for the humans to leave so he can dematerialize, he feels like he's being watched. When he gets home to Rehvenge's great camp, he makes love to Cormia and has a moment of clarity.

Chapter 55

Xhex goes home after work and has a private, personal moment thinking of John, who she saw at the club.

Chapter 56

The Scribe Virgin acknowledges that she has control issues and remembers what Phury said about having faith in her creation, which exposed the truth she'd buried under her fear: order is safety, but life is messy and unpredictable. A balance of both is required if the race is going to have any chance of surviving. The Scribe Virgin wakes Payne from her suspended animation, who promptly tells her mother to "fuck off."

Chapter 57

A little over a month later, Cormia, Phury, and the Chosen are settling into life at Rehvenge's great camp. Layla's learning how cook (mostly by burning things in spectacular ways) and Selena's learning to play the piano.

Zsadist texts Phury to tell him that his daughter, Nalla, was born and mahmen and young are both fine and healthy. Cormia encourages him to go visit his brother, but he's too nervous to even text back, so she does on behalf of them both.

That night, Phury's sitting on the back terrace and imagining how the mansion would be celebrating and the ribbon bows the household would tie to Nalla's crib as a symbol of their pledge to watch over her. Zsadist walks out of the woods singing Phury's favourite solo from his favourite opera: La Bohème, "Che Gelida Manina." What he couldn't say with words, Zsadist says with song: his gratitude towards Phury, the joy of fatherhood, all of the emotions that he keeps close to his chest.

Zsadist hands Phury a ribbon bow of the green of their family line and Cormia's gold, asking him to honour his daughter. Phury says he'd be honoured and realizes Z had been the one watching him after his AA meetings; Z says he's so damn proud of Phury.

And Phury asks if they could also hold a mating ceremony.

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