“Terrific. A bisexual dominant vampire with kidnapping expertise.”

-Jane Whitcomb about Vishous

Lover Unbound is the fifth novel of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward. It's preceded by Lover Revealed and followed by Lover Enshrined. It was originally published on October 1, 2007.

The story of The Black Dagger Brotherhood continues with Jane and Vishous.

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. Now, the cold heart of a cunning predator will be warmed against its will…

Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous son of the Bloodletter possesses a destructive curse and a frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father's war camp, he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of a human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time- until a destiny he didn't choose takes him into a future that cannot include her.

Main Characters

Other Characters

Black Dagger Brotherhood Members

Other Speaking Roles

Mentioned or non-Speaking Roles

Plot

Readers should be aware that this book contains rape and child abuse.

Prologue

When Jane was thirteen, she had planned to celebrate her birthday with her friends Katie and Lucy. That changes when her mother announces that her father is coming home early from a trip and that the birthday party is cancelled. Like most teenagers, she was disappointed and in retaliation for her reaction, her mother nearly smacked her, threw out her birthday cake, and sent her to her room without dinner.

Hannah, her younger sister who's 10 years old, sneaked into her bedroom with what was supposed to be her own bedtime snack and gave it to Jane. Jane pulls out a Ouija board that she was going to play with her friends. They both begin to ask questions with no luck until Jane asks who she's going to marry and the Ouija board started to move and hover over the V she got excited. She had a crush on a boy named Victor Browne, but instead, the board spelled "VISHOUS." She was confused but they moved on. Hannah asked the board whether she would get anything for Christmas and the board answered no.

The only gift she got for her birthday was a handmade card from Hannah with the two of them as stick figures holding hands and said, "We will always hold hands. I love you."

In the middle of the night, Jane wakes up to find Hannah in her room, who tells her that she has to go, but she's scared. Jane offers to go with her, thinking she meant the bathroom. Hannah tells her that she'll try and come back while Jane promises to always be there for her.

The sounds of running footsteps and an ambulance wake Jane in the morning and she goes into Hannah's room to find her sister dead and her mother sitting in the window seat, who tells her to go back to her room. Jane overhears her father saying something about a "congenital heart."

Chapter 1

At the Pit, Butch is trying on his first set of leathers and complains that they're very "Village People," although when Marissa appreciates them, he decides he wants 50 more pairs. Vishous gives him four black daggers that he made and while he soaks up Butch's praise, he doesn't feel that they're good enough quality. It's been weeks since V's had a full night's sleep and is depressed since he has feelings for Butch, is envious of the loving relationship Butch and Marissa have, his visions and telepathy have dried up, and believes he's a "fucked up freak" who deserves to be hurt. His roommates appear to have picked up on that because when V suggested that they move into the big house, Marissa told him that the Pit was "cozy." Butch, on the other hand, had just shaken his head at V and walked away.

In the main house, Phury runs into Bella and struggles because he has feelings for his brother's pregnant shellan who makes him a sandwich and tries to set him up with another female. When he declines, she asks why he's celibate and suspects it's a self-imposed penance out of survivor's guilt for what Zsadist had lived through in his youth.

While leaving the kitchen, Phury sees Vishous and they talk about how all the Brothers are on mandatory R&R as per Wrath's orders and Phury invites V to Zerosum with him. V declines and tells Phury of a dream he once had of him, which Phury dreads because V's visions inevitably portend ill. In it, there was a crossroad in a field of white and lots of storms. Phury wrapped a cloud around a well. Needless to say, none of it makes sense to Phury and V just shrugs and says that he had the sense that he had to tell Phury of it at that moment. Then he asks if Bella's still in the kitchen and Phury asks how he knew she was in there, to which he responds, "You always look ruined after you see her."

Chapter 2

Vishous goes to his penthouse where he'd arranged to meet with one of his regular submissives, one who can take a lot of heavier play, and begins some wax and knife play.

John's in the gym with the rest of his class when Qhuinn enters, apparently having just come out of his transition; even though he can't join the class, he wanted to come and observe. The three make plans to go to Blaylock's after class. The last of the trio to transition, John's both eager for and terrified of his change.

V puts his sub into Fritz's car and gives the doggen her home address as she can't dematerialize after their session. He's overcome with shame and yearning for the relationship that Butch and Marissa have. While drinking on the couch, he falls asleep.

Chapter 3

Butch and Phury are drinking at ZeroSum and Phury's thinking about buying more drugs from Rehvenge since his stash was getting low again, maybe even breaking his celibacy by picking up a prostitute. Butch encourages him to let loose a little and recommends a long-haired brunette, hinting that it might help Phury scratch the itch he has for Bella. Phury admits that Bella tried to hook him up with Ryhm from Safe Place.

At the penthouse, V wakes up from a recurring nightmare wherein he hears a gunshot and sees blood on his shirt. The Scribe Virgin appears to him and he assumes that Wrath had ratted him out for being unable to pull it together. Reminding him that his 304th birthday is soon, she tells him that she has a gift for him: a female who is "the most pure of blood, the finest of beauty" to be his first mate. She intends for him to become the Primale, the male who will mate with all of the Chosen to breed the next generation of Chosen and Brothers.

The thought of being separated from his Brothers and unable to fight is abhorrent to him and he tries to say no. This is when Vishous first learns that he is her son. He asks how it's possible and she deigns to overlook his question this one time. She wanted to physically experience conception and birth, so she took on a suitable form and went to the Old Country. The male she chose, the Bloodletter, for what she thought were desirable masculine traits such as strength and aggression.

The experience had been brutal and near the end, suspecting who she was and what she was after, the Bloodletter refused to give her his seed unless he got custody of any male children. He had felt less masculine because he'd only begat daughters and no sons. They agreed that he would gain custody of Vishous on his third birthday and have him for three centuries, training him as a warrior. The Scribe Virgin would get him after that period. She almost didn't survive the brutal mating.

Vishous realizes it was that bargain that forced him to grow up in a cruel and vicious environment. Becoming enraged, he asks if she knew what his father and his men did to him and she answers yes, but she had given her word.

Laying into her, he tells her that 20 years of trying to stay alive messed him up mentally and physically, pointing out that he might not be capable of fathering children. She tells him that he can. When he calls her a "bitch," she singed his eyebrows and reminds him who she is. She had to watch him from afar, telling him that she'd "died every day" for him. An argument ensues where he vents his spleen and she pleads with him.

Finally, she orders him to present himself of his own free will after her sequester to be introduced to his mate, then to return once she's "suitably prepared" to do what he was born to do. V realizes that the survival of the Brotherhood and the vampire species depended on this, but he's not a hero and doesn't want to save the world. There are only five Brothers and the trainees, while they would become soldiers, they would never have the same immense physical and healing abilities of the Brotherhood bloodlines. He agrees to it on one condition: that he will continue to live at the mansion. He realizes that they both tend to move when they're thinking.

When she tells him he has to give up dominating females since he'll only be allowed to sleep with the Chosen from then on and he can't do that to them. He reminds her that he is his father's son and he needs the release if he's without his visions. She says it's because he's at a crossroads in his life and prescience negates free will so it's suppressing itself. He forces her to admit that she herself doesn't know what's going to happen because he wants to know she's powerless over something so she knows how he feels. Since his destiny is also hers, she doesn't know what will happen, either. He gives his word he'll become Primale and receives a heavy gold pendant marked with the Old Language on a black silk cord. When her sequester ends in one week, he's to come to her then.

Wrath calls and can tell something's wrong. V tells him he just met his mother.

Chapter 4

Cormia had wished for her transition in order to attain some level of individuality in the rigid schedule and conformity of the Chosen, which can only happen for the Chosen by drinking a cup in the temple, but now feels she's being punished for it. Amalya enters her room and confirms that Cormia will lie with the Primale in a week's time and tries to reassure her that he will be gentle. However, Cormia tells her that he's the son of the Bloodletter and therefore incapable of gentleness; she confesses that she doesn't want to be the first mate of the Primale.

The Directrix enters and orders Amalya to spend the rest of the day in the Temple of Atonement for the crime of momentarily feeling a negative emotion while offering sympathy to Cormia. Giving Cormia a book to read detailing the Primale's rights and her obligations, she informs her that she'll begin her sexual education. Cormia fears that the harsh Directrix will be her instructor, but to her relief, it will be Layla. The Directrix takes offense to her relief at the news and reminds her that if she does anything the Directrix doesn't like, including not doing her duty well, she will cast Cormia out of the Chosen and to the real world, which is a terrifying prospect to Cormia. Needless to say, the Directrix disapproves of the situation and of Cormia.

Phury's been downing martinis and V joins them, looking like roadkill, and starts drinking, possibly looking for a fight. Phury asks Rehvenge if they could borrow his office for a minute, although Rehv warns him that it's wired to record all sound unless he's present. Since anything that affected the Brotherhood would affect Bella, they figured he'd be motivated to keep his mouth shut.

V, who's glowing all over, tries to dig his heels in, but Butch won't put up with it. Once in the office, V shows the pendant to Phury, who recognizes it.

While hanging out at Blay's, Blay and John ask Qhuinn what his transition was like, but Qhuinn's more excited that he'd had sex. He does warn John that the change is hardcore and he'll wish for death. For both Blay and Qhuinn, their fathers and the fathers of the females they'd fed from had been in the room at the time to act as witnesses. Although the female sneaked into Qhuinn's room later and he regales his friends with the details of what happened between them.

Blay and Qhuinn start to make plans about going clubbing and picking up chicks once John goes through the change, but John's remembering his rape. Later, John asks Qhuinn about the black eye he's sporting, and he makes up a story about falling in the shower.

Chapter 5

Butch and Phury react to Vishous' news that he's to become the Primale, although he withholds the identity of his mother, and V starts to panic, leaving the club.

Outside, V remembers growing up in the cave that housed the Bloodletter's camp, his earliest memories of being cold and hungry alongside other pretrans while watching others eat. One night, while the soldiers were distracted by the public rapes of those who had lost a practice fight, V sneaked up on a sleeping soldier to steal his food. His father caught him in the act and laughed as the soldier beat Vishous, who ate as much as he could throughout the ordeal and then threw up the food when the pain grew unbearable.

Under threat of gang rape, the Bloodletter forced V to crawl to fetch his dagger for him and demanded he stand even though he was incapable of it as his leg was nearly broken. A radiant light filled V and washed away the pain; it was the first time his hand glowed.

Beaten again for standing, V daydreamed of a loving mother who wanted him safe, warm, and fed. This recurring fantasy was what kept him going during his years in the camp.

Chapter 6

V's glad he hadn't known the truth back then because that would have been worse than the abuse. He decides he won't give her another generation to screw over and he won't pass along the Bloodletter's cruelty in his genetics, nor does he think that the Chosen would deserve his inevitable mistreatment of them.

Vishous goes looking for a fight and finds a Lesser robbing the body of a young male he'd just killed. They fight and the Lesser's killed, the disintegration process taking out the civilian's body, too, and V's injured in the process. V realizes that if he'd died, then the Brotherhood would be down to four; he had to become the Primale in order to maintain the legacy of the Brotherhood that had defined his adult life.

A shot comes out of nowhere and hits him in the chest, bringing his nightmare to life.

Dr. Manuel Manello confronts Dr. Jane Whitcomb about the job she took at Columbia because she wants to become the head of her department, which won't happen under Manello since they're so similar in age. A nurse warns her that there's an incoming trauma case that's already crashed twice en route, male in thirties with gunshot and probable perforated aorta. Before Manny leaves her, he warns her that he won't let her go without a fight.

Chapter 7

One of the nurses informs Jane that one of her physicians on staff is out with the flu and she takes the time even as she's reviewing charts to ask how he's doing, glad that he's at least getting some time off. V comes in under the name Michael Klosnick due to the Lesser's wallet that was found on him.

One of the nurses touches one of the patient's hands while removing his glove and she has a seizure. When Jane begins to operate on him, she finds his heart has six-chambers, two more than should be physically possible and the bullet is round instead of the usual oblong shape. Also, there was significant old trauma to his groin. He wakes up briefly and Jane urges him to fight to stay alive.

Butch and Phury suddenly sense something was very wrong; Phury calls Zsadist and finds that his twin's feeling the same thing. Butch checks on Marissa, who passes the phone over to Wrath because the King and Rhage felt the same. The only person they can't reach is Vishous and they check his penthouse, but he's not there, so they guess that he's hunting and sense Lessers themselves.

Chapter 8

Jane checks on her gunshot patient, who she assumes is involved in drugs, and other patients before going home. While doing so, she discovers his fangs, assumes they're cosmetic, and finds that he'd been partially castrated in what she hopes was an accident because it certainly wasn't surgical. Manny discusses the physical anomalies of the patient with Jane, which intrigue her.

He asks her not to leave for Columbia and she's surprised by his confession that he has feelings for her. V wakes up feeling violently possessive of Jane.

Chapter 9

Butch, Phury, and Rhage go to spring Vishous out of St. Francis; Phury takes care of the medical records, the staff, and the security cameras while Phury subdues Jane who goes ballistic when Butch starts unhooking V fro the equipment. Her strong mind doesn't make it easy for him, though, and he has to knock her out.

Chapter 10

While John's waiting for Zsadist to go on their nightly walk, he remembers Tohr and Wellsie, wishing he'd never met them because losing them hurt more than never having had a family at all. Z's upset about something, but tells John not to worry about it. On their walk, he informs John that Lash has gone through the transition and is returning to the training program. One more incident and Lash is booted, but John is not to engage with him under any circumstances. John wonders if he'll never go through the transition and Z tells him it's coming soon for him. He admits that he's scared and Z reassures him that they've got a plan in place to keep him safe with Layla ready to feed him. John wishes he could ask about Darius, but he'd been Tohr's best friend and anything to do with Tohr was hard for the Brothers to talk about.

Chapter 11

In Vishous' room, Jane wakes but pretends to be asleep. Butch and Marissa coax V to take Marissa's vein; in the end, he only does so in order to be strong enough to deal with the Lesser energy in Butch while Phury makes sure Butch doesn't lose it and attack V.

Wrath comes in and tears into V for bringing the human, and V tells him that he will be involved in any discussions involving her and what's to be done with her. Jane demands to be set free, but Wrath tells her that's not an immediate option and has Phury knock her out again. V tells Wrath that she's a doctor and Havers is "complicated." Wrath wants him healed up fast so they can get the human out of there.

Despite his condition, Vishous wants Jane and has no remorse over kidnapping her. His visions had returned for the first time in weeks when his Brothers had shown up at the hospital, it was of Jane beckoning him lovingly down a hallway. He remembers his first vision as a pretrans in the Bloodletter's camp after having beat another boy bloody with a book, it was of the other boy dead.

When the altercation draws the Bloodletter's attention, he forces V to burn his books because he knew it was the only thing that brought him comfort and he wanted to deprive Vishous of that. It was then that V determined he would be as coldly calculating as his father and would stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

Chapter 12

Jane wakes up to food and finds V as recovered as she'd expect after weeks of recovery; she hopes she's dreaming. Searching the bedroom and bathroom, she finds a straight razor. Butch brings in medical supplies and tells her they won't kill her; she assumes that means they won't kill her as long as she treats V.

Vishous wakes up and wants to cleanse Butch, who argues that he's not ready, but V reminds him that he can't wait much longer because he'll get worse from the contamination.

Cormia sneaks into a restriction section of the Temple of Books and looks at Vishous' biography, which only listed his date of birth, his sire, and the date of his induction into the Brotherhood. She finds more information in the Bloodletter's volumes, which only makes her dread even more what is to come.

Chapter 13

Vishous has Butch lie down next to him and he desperately needs the close contact of another being. He's so accustomed to protecting others from his hand and protecting himself that simply lowering his shields makes him want to cry. After wanting Butch for so long, V realizes that between Jane and Butch, he's attracted to her and not Butch.

Jane watches them and is uncomfortable with her patient kissing anyone else. When Vishous seems worse after helping Butch, she goes through the bags Butch brought and finds drugs that had to have come from a hospital and the overnight bag she'd packed for her trip to Manhattan for the Columbia interview, which she'd left at home.

V makes Butch apologize to Jane for going through her house, even though they'd thought having her own things would make it easier on her. They'd even rescheduled her interview. V promises her that as soon as he's well, they'll let her go and Butch promises her that if she hurts Vishous intentionally he will kill her. When V gets aggressive at the threat, he growls at Butch and Jane tells them both to stop posturing because Butch's attitude wasn't helping V.

She gives him some pain medication and is shocked by how quickly Vishous has healed, that's when she knows for certain he's not human. Butch offers to bring her fresh food since the tray had been sitting out for a while. The medication does a number on V and Jane takes care of him as he dry heaves. He wants her on the bed, but she's not about to cuddle with a vampire who kidnapped her; she'd noted the untypeable blood, six-chambered heart, rapid healing, and the shutters over the windows.

Chapter 14

Phury's smoking blunts and drawing Bella in his bedroom when Z comes in obviously upset and tells him that Bella, who's pregnant, has been bleeding and hiding it from him. He only discovered it because he found pads in the cabinet. Since pregnancy's so dangerous for vampires, Z asks Phury to talk to Bella for him because he's afraid he'll either cry or yell at her out of fear and his sense of powerlessness, which would cause her more stress and put her at further risk of miscarriage. Phury encourages Zsadist to talk to Bella and realizes he has to teach a firearms class in an hour so he has to sober up quickly.

John wakes up tired with a headache and running late for class; when he gets there, he finds Lash has cut his long hair short and has stopped wearing his flashy designer clothes as if they were a compensation that he no longer needs now that he's transitioned. From the dirty looks Lash gives him, John knows he has to watch his back for retaliation.

Chapter 15

Vishous wakes up hungry and feeling better. Jane asks him if he's a drug dealer or pimp, judging by the way he dresses, how dangerous the Brothers are, and from the obvious money and connections they have. She offers him the tray of food she hasn't touched, telling him that being kidnapped has ruined her appetite, but the bonded male in him refuses to touch what was intended for her.

Jane goes and pounds on the door to summon Butch, concerning both males. She asks Butch to bring food for V. By the way Jane keeps her hand in her pocket the entire time Butch is in the room and eyes the open door, V knows she's planning on making an escape attempt.

Realizing that she's saved him from the tailspin he'd been in, his eyes glow, which frightens Jane and in turn her fright wounds V. She's pissed about being kidnapped and meets Vishous' aggression head-on instead of shying away from him, which he finds to be a turn-on and imagines what it would be like to get her to submit sexually.

Pretending to be weaker than he is, V asks Jane to feed him and when she approaches him, he strips her doctor's coat from her to retrieve the razor in the pocket. He locks the weapon in a bedside drawer and wants to pin her to the bed, but she wasn't feeling it so he let her go. Silently, she cries and when she's done, asks if he seriously needed help eating.

John's feeling achy and nauseous, but still joins the other trainees on the shooting range where Wrath takes over the class, relieving Zsadist.

Chapter 16

Vishous reassures Jane that she won't be killed because they can remove her memories of them, but she doesn't believe him. As a demonstration, he takes away her memory of Butch bringing him food and then returns it to her. He explains that they took her because of a vision he had. She's fascinated by his fangs, asks about the blood-drinking, and would love to study his regenerative abilities, but he tells her that no vampire would ever be a human's lab rat.

He wants to shower but is too unsteady so she gives him a sponge bath. She still thought his name was Michael Klosnick and he tells her to call him "V." She asks about the partial castration. He tells her that his father didn't want him to have kids and it served double duty as punishment. He's erect and she suspects it's for Butch after seeing how intimate they were when V was cleansing him. He masturbates and she finishes him. Throughout the sponge bath and hand job, he tries to hide his mutilated groin from her.

Phury's headed out on patrol and runs into Bella. He tells her to talk to Zsadist and she suspects that it's because Z knows she's bleeding and talked to his brother. She tells him she has an appointment with Havers that night and the bleeding isn't that bad, she hadn't told her hellren because she didn't want him distracted with worry while in the field. Phury tells her it's harder on Z because she hadn't talked to him and so his imagination was coming up with all sorts of horrible scenarios. He urges her to take Z with her to the appointment. Despite the good advice he gives, Phury knows that he himself is in an uncontrollable downward spiral.

Chapter 17

Vishous thinks that the hand job was better than any sex he'd ever had except he'd sensed no arousal from Jane. He wants to mark her and taste her blood when before he'd only fed from a female out of necessity.

He remembers a week after the book burning, the pretrans V had seen die in his vision slipped on a rock by the river, hit his head, and died.

When Jane gets out of the shower, she curls up in the chair to sleep and he can smell her arousal.

Phury's fighting a Lesser alone in an alley and continues to brutalize the Lesser once he's incapacitated instead of making a quick kill. While he's distracted venting his spleen, another Lesser sneaks up on him with a baseball bat. They fight and Phury is prepared to die. Rhage takes care of the second Lesser before he can kill Phury, who refuses to go to Havers because he doesn't want to risk being seen by Bella and cause her undue stress. He finds that he understands the times that Zsadist had asked Phury to beat him because the pain is a good alternative to drugs.

Jane has an erotic dream involving Vishous, which is interrupting by Butch coming to get Jane to treat Phury and V insists on going with her.

John is a helluva shot and gets ready to go to ZeroSum with Qhuinn and Blay. Blay tells him about how Qhuinn's family treats him because of his heterochromia, which they'd hoped would be fixed during the transition. John thinks about the black eye Qhuinn had lied about and Blay confirms that it was from Qhuinn's dad.

Chapter 18

As they walk through the tunnel to the main house, Jane wonders why she isn't restrained, to which V replies that it's because she won't run. After scolding him for reading her mind, which he admits is something he can't help, she asks how he knows. He tells her he knows she won't run when there's a patient who needs her help. Butch asks if V's telepathy's back and he says sometimes with Jane.

Despite how lethal they obviously are, Jane feels inexplicably safe with them and V reassures her that they'd kill anything that so much as startles her. She tells him that she's scared of mice and spiders, but not to go overboard with a gun when traps and newspapers work just as well.

When they arrive in the physical therapy room in the training centre, Jane shoves any Brother in her way and puts Vishous in a chair so he can act as her nurse while she operates on Phury's broken orbital bone. At first, Phury tries to refuse painkillers and Jane can tell he wants to feel the pain. She gives him the ultimatum to take the painkiller so he won't inadvertently jerk during the operation and possibly ruin his vision in that eye or go to another doctor. While watching her work carefully and competently, he's impressed and turned on.

Butch tells V that he approves of Jane and asks for the first time what V's sexuality is. Turning the question back on him, V asks him what he thinks it is. Butch tells him that he doesn't think gender matters to Vishous, but that he'd never really cared about anyone before, either. V admits that his first time was raping another male in the Bloodletter's camp because the losers were forced to submit to the winner of practice fights. He knew that messed him up for a long time and still does.

They talk about how Phury's going off the rails because he's normally the noblest of them all, a gentleman. It's not like him to be unnecessarily cruel.

Jane tells Vishous that the bullet that shot him was round instead of oblong.

Chapter 19

At ZeroSum, John's hyper-vigilance is in full effect. Instead of pairing off with a sexual partner, Blay hangs back with John, which pisses John off that he has a babysitter. Qhuinn's reluctant to leave them behind, but he ends up in the bathroom with two girls. Blay admits that not long after he transitioned he'd promised Zsadist that he wouldn't leave John alone until John went through the change himself. Zsadist knew Lash had been 86ed from ZeroSum and told them that if John was going with them then they were to go there. Angry at being protected, John forces Blay to give him the gun he was carrying and tells him to go get laid.

John finds Xhex staring at him and he feels breathless, dizzy, and flushed. She pulls him aside for a patdown.

Jane remembers her dream and V asks what she's thinking about; she puts two and two together and demands to know what he did to her. He answers that it was nothing she didn't want him to and she orders him to stay out of her mind. He reassures her that he won't go there and she wants to know why not. It's because she wouldn't enjoy being with the real him since he likes control. Jane doesn't want to feel the way she does and he assumes it's because he's a "pervert," which although she confirms his assumption it's not really the truth. She's accustomed to relying on logic over emotion and her instincts tell her he's a bad idea. When she admits that she's scared, he promises he won't hurt her or let anything else hurt her and offers to take her home. They share an intimate moment and she tells him to come to her in her dreams again.

Chapter 20

Xhex hates guns in her club and assumes John's a wannabe badass who carries a weapon to compensate for his size. Blay comes to find him and gives her a laminated card in the Old Language that serves as John's vampire ID and a letter with the royal crest. She tells them next time to use her name at the door to skip the line because she can't let any harm befall John while he's there since the King's his ghardian. She goes to return Blay's gun to him since she'd witnessed the handover, but he declines and says John should take it since he's the better shot. During this exchange, she gets the sense that John is an old soul.

John asks what the card and letter were and Blay tells him that Zsadist said to flash it if they ever got in a bind because it declares him under the King's protection. Angry that everyone's so protective of him, John tells Blay he'll get Fritz to pick him up. In a rare show of obstinancy, Blay refuses unequivocally and tells him they'll leave together, telling John he'd do the same if their positions were reversed. Qhuinn insists on leaving with them. John walks off his anger and when they get back to the car, they find a pair of Lessers waiting for them.

Chapter 21

While they have a moment alone, Vishous starts to call Phury out for his recklessness. Once he's in his room, Zsadist comes in and lays into him for the same thing, realizing what it must have been like for Phury when Z had been the one in a self-destructive tailspin. Phury asks how Bella's doing and she's been put on bed rest.

The Lessers assume that John's human and Qhuinn plays along, shoving John away and acting like they'd just finished a drug deal. John runs back to ZeroSum, but the bouncer doesn't understand he's trying to communicate Xhex's name. Remembering he still has a gun, he runs back to the parking lot to find Blaylock on the ground and Qhuinn taking one to the face. Suddenly filled with an inexplicable breadth of knowledge and experience, John drops both Lessers with two shots and kills them with roofing spikes from a construction site next to the parking lot. As he dispatches them, he remembers doing the same many times before and has a seizure.

Chapter 22

Vishous asks Fritz to bring cocoa and food since Jane hasn't eaten since being kidnapped. She mentions that one of her nurses touched his hand and had a seizure, he says that probably the only reason she survived was because he was unconscious. He says he wants her to eat until she falls asleep in her chair so he can tuck her into bed and watch over her with a dagger in hand; the caveman routine was strangely attractive to her.

Jane tells him that her parents died in a plane crash on their way to a medical conference ten years ago. V comments that they'd probably be proud of her and she said that they'd probably be moderately satisfied. When she was 15, her dad told her that it was a good thing she was smart because with her looks she wouldn't marry particularly well. She joins him on the bed to watch a movie and V chooses something boring for no particular reason, just that she looks tired is all.

Layla meets with Cormia to begin her sexual education. Normally, Cormia loves learning, but she's dreading what's to come. To ease her fears, Layla tells her that she's met Vishous and tries to describe him in a way that won't terrify Cormia. The Directrix enters and whispers something to Layla, who has to leave immediately. She informs Cormia that she'll be taking over her sexual education. When Cormia asks if perhaps she should wait for Layla, the Directrix takes the suggestion as an insult, becoming quite malicious and petty towards Cormia. She says that since Cormia will outrank her soon then maybe Cormia would like to dictate who walks behind whom.

Chapter 23

John's going through his transition and Layla feeds him while Beth and Wrath watch. John has a flashback to his previous life, specifically the opening scene of Dark Lover. Hearing Darius discuss Beth, John infers that he didn't know about John's existence otherwise he'd likely have been as protective of a son as he was his daughter.

Vishous tells Jane to sleep and she refuses, telling him that she wants to do it while awake. He says no, only in sleep because it's safer for her that way. She's not into fantasy, so if he's not into being with her for real then she'd rather not bother. When he protests that he doesn't want to hurt her, she tells him to miss her with the paternalism.

To get some distance, she went into the bathroom. Following her, he pushes her up against the wall, pulls her hair, and says he tried to be nice but it's too late now and they're going to do it his way. Unleashing his dominant side, he takes control while they have sex, but he does not hurt her save for biting her.

Chapter 24

John comes out of the transition craving bacon and chocolate. Before Beth and Wrath leave him, she tells John that she's proud of him and for some inexplicable reason, he wants to tell her that he's proud of her, too. Alone with Layla, she helps him into the shower and begins to wash him. Even though he now has a libido, his interest dies as he remembers his sexual assault and he still feels like less of a man because of it.

There are some red marks on Jane's skin, which bothers Vishous. Thinking he was too rough with her, he asks if Jane's all right, which is something he's never asked a partner before and begins to apologize for how he treated her. Stopping him, she tells him that it was so amazing she's not sure she can even stand upright. Vishous asks to kiss her and feels nervous like it was his first kiss. Sensing that, Jane kisses him instead and he realizes he'd never allowed anyone any power over him before. They make love again, and while it's still as enthusiastic as the first time, he's less dominant and it's the first time he's been with someone he loved. Unfortunately, it's his last and only shot at love, but at least she'd be able to go on with her life without remembering him even though the though hurts him.

Chapter 25

After meeting with the Directrix, Cormia is horrified because she'd been assured that lying with the Primale would be painful and yet she won't be permitted to cry, which would be a disgrace to all Chosen. She isn't allowed to ever refuse the Primale and since the Chosen are always fertile in the Sanctuary without a needing cycle, she'll inevitably fall pregnant and then be subjected to the risks of pregnancy and childbirth that all female vampires face. Cormia knows that the Directrix nominated her for the Primale's primary mate because doesn't want to relinquish her autocracy; of all the Chosen, she's the least welcoming or accommodating, so her recommendation was an act of passive-aggression defiance.

Cormia comes across Layla who's crying because she failed to please John sexually, in her humiliation she'd fled before reporting to the King and the Directrix what had happened as per tradition. Layla has decided to abdicate the role of ehros and Cormia tries to reassure her that she might not have been at fault, but Layla says that, that would be impossible. Additionally, the choice is a personal one because she can't personally bear another rejection. Cormia wraps her in her own outer robe to provide what little comfort is permitted within the strictures of the Chosen and to hide some of Layla's dishevelment.

After Vishous' transition, the Bloodletter felt threatened by his growing powers. Immediately after the change was complete, about 24 hours sooner than usual for a male straight out of his transition, he set up a fight between Vishous and a soldier from whom V had stolen food a few weeks prior. Naked and armed with only a broom, he faced off against an established fighter wielding a spiked mace. Either he had to resort to using his hand and confirming the fears of the camp or he would lose and be raped by his opponent, proving to everyone that he was no threat. No conduct was prohibited; there were only two rules: fighters were to fight until they could no longer stand and the loser had to submit themself for rape. Despite the disadvantages, Vishous still won by watching his opponent's habits and dodging until he found an opening for a groin strike. When the fighter doubled over in pain, V struck him on the temple, knocking him out cold.

His father taunted him before the entire assembly for his reluctance to rape his opponent, and goaded by those words and with hatred in his heart for his father, he took out his rage upon his conquered foe. His first sexual encounter was, as a result, something ugly and violent, all about taking power from another and establishing his dominance over them. That still wasn't enough for the Bloodletter told him that because he fought dirty and was reluctant to rape his opponent, he was a weak coward and, unable to take any more abuse, V attacked him.

Threatening him with his left hand's power, Vishous made a prediction before the whole camp: "You shall see your end in a wall of fire caused by a pain you know. You will burn until you are nothing but smoke, and be cast upon the wind."

Before Jane, sex had been about power given up to Vishous to ensure that he would never again end up tied down at someone's mercy and unable to fight. What had happened with Jane was an exchange and he wanted to repay the trust she'd given him even though she was scared and he could have easily harmed her.

Chapter 26

The first thing John does when he wakes up is text the good news to Blay and Qhuinn. He thought about apologizing to Layla, but decides against it because it's too embarrassing and she's so perfect that she couldn't possibly blame herself for his lack of erection.

Phury wakes up to Bella in his room while she's up while enjoying her single hour on her feet each day. They reassure each other that they're ok after their surgery and doctor's appointment, respectively. Zsadist comes in to check on his twin and mate. When they leave, Phury burns the sketch he'd drawn of Bella.

Chapter 27

Vishous wakes up from the gunshot nightmare, which Jane assumes is a flashback to the attack and brings Butch running at the commotion. Seeing that there's no physical threat, Butch tells Jane that Phury had stopped by earlier to thank her and his eyesight, which had been a concern, appeared to be fine. Vishous tells Jane he'll take her home that night.

Blay and Qhuinn exclaim over how big John's gotten, about four inches taller than them or Lash and as big as a Brother. Zsadist tells John that instead of their usual walk, that they need to talk later about what happened the night before. All of the young males take that to mean John's in trouble and each blames themself for some of the choices that led to the night's culmination in the parking lot. While Blay and Qhuinn thank John for saving their lives, Lash ruins the moment by insinuating that they're in a threesome. John stares him down and Lash laughs, telling him that he's still a weakling inside.

Chapter 28

As Fritz drives Vishous and Jane to the penthouse, V tells her about mhis and the Lessening Society.

As punishment for attacking him and to diminish the threat that Vishous posed, the Bloodletter had warnings in the Old Language tattooed along the left side of V's face, hand, and groin indicating he was cursed. Then, when the Bloodletter tried to have V castrated with a pair of pliers before banishing him, his soldiers were only partially successful before V's entire body glowed white and incinerated those physically touching him during the atrocity. The entire camp was too scared to touch him after that, allowing him to drag himself out of the cave and into the woods. There was salt mixed with the dirt of the cave floor which sealed his wound and set the scars on his groin.

Using a branch to help him walk, he wandered through the cold forest where some civilian vampires found him just before dawn. They took him in for the day, but the warning tattoos incited fear in them and he left at nightfall. He wandered alone for years, feeding from humans. A century later, he worked as a mercenary for a merchant in Venice where he fed from vampire prostitutes.

In Rome, V came upon a Lesser attacking a female vampire and killed the Lesser not to save the female, but to save her pretrans son hiding nearby from having to watch his mother die. While the female, who was a fallen Chosen, died, he saved the boy and found a home for him. The boy, Hharm, went on to become Tohrment's father. Word got out that he'd saved a male of warrior blood, and Darius sought him out and introduced him to Wrath, with whom he hit it off, and then he was inducted into the Brotherhood.

Chapter 29

After hearing the rest of Vishous' tragic past, Jane admits that she still hates oatmeal after throwing it up all over her father at her sister's funeral. She tells him that she respects him for the person he's become and it's ok if he still struggles with what happened to him because that doesn't make him weak, although Vishous doesn't quite see it that way.

He tells her to gag and cuff him to the table so he will be as exposed for her as he could possibly be and give her something he's given no one else. At his direction, she uses candle wax and a cane on him, nerves easing for both of them as they discover pleasure together.

Chapter 30

After cleaning up, they go to Jane's condo where they both stall in an attempt to delay the inevitable. As he makes cocoa for her, he explains that he'll replace her missing memories and she might get some flashbacks, but they'll feel more like a dream. Both of their hearts are breaking and the rising sun forces V's hand.

Chapter 31

Jane's crying into her cocoa in her kitchen where she can see a large man standing in the light of a street lamp watching her. The urge to chase after him as he walks away hits her, but she's dropped by a debilitating headache. Even though she's supposed to go to work, between the headache, exhaustion, and weakness from what she remembers as the flu she decides to call and let her department know that she's still down with the flu. Some things are out of place, like her car parked headfirst in the garage instead of backed in like usual.

John's in the weight room with Zsadist, watching him lift weights, and the Brother asks him about his transition, if there were any physical problems. John signs no and Zsadist tells him that Layla had reported that they didn't have sex even though it looked like he'd been interested at one point. Only Zsadist and Wrath know of it, and they only care if there's some physical issue that should get checked out.

Zsadist asks why he stopped and John, getting pissed, can tell that he knows what had happened to him. A copy of his medical file had been sent over when he started the program in case of injury or emergency and only Z has read it, which he locked up in a location known only to him. Z understands that John doesn't want to talk about it and he's not going to force him to; he promises to ensure that no one else will get to see his record, even if he has to burn the thing. Z says he'll tell Wrath it was just a case of nerves and that'll be the end of it. Z asks him to masturbate at least once in the next 24 hours to ensure nothing's wrong and if something is, to let him know and they'll deal with it. If he doesn't hear from John, then he'll assume everything's fine.

As for the situation with the Lessers, Z not only doesn't care that John was carrying a gun, in fact, he wants him armed if he goes to ZeroSum again. His performance was impressive and Z's proud of him for protecting Blay and Qhuinn, but not to go out hunting for Lessers. If John's to go clubbing again in the next month or so, he should go to ZeroSum until he's strong enough.

Before leaving, John asks Z if he thinks less of him for what happened to him and Z tells him definitively that it was not his fault and he did not deserve it. No one should have their innocence raped from them, and survivors are the only ones who get to determine how they deal with it since it's no one else's business. The unequivocal support coming from Zsadist of all people surprises John and he appreciates it.

Chapter 32

Vishous is scheduled to go to the Other Side that afternoon for the viewing ceremony and Butch agrees to serve as the equivalent of a best man at a wedding. When Butch comments on the dehumanizing nature of the ritual towards the first Chosen, Wrath agrees that some things need to change, however, that's one area over which he has no control.

Cormia is subjected to a dozen different ritual baths and various facial masks that use rose, lavender, sage, and hyacinth. She's rubbed with oil while incense is burned in honour of the Primale and prayers are chanted. Then she's dressed in a diaphanous chemise, over that is worn a heavy white hooded robe embroidered with diamonds and gold. The hood is drawn up around the head and the tail pulled down over the face then tucked behind the buttoned front of the dress, leaving her blind and faceless; some vents at the neck provide fresh air. This is intentional to symbolize her as representative of all Chosen and not herself as an individual. Feeling trapped and suffocated, Cormia has a panick attack.

Chapter 33

Manny's tried calling Jane to see how her interview went, but hasn't heard back from her and assumes she's avoiding him, so he calls up his former mentor at Columbia to ask him. When his mentor tells him that she'd had to reschedule, Manny began worrying until his assistant informs him that Jane had called in sick. Going back to the files on his desk, he comes across a picture of a heart with 6 chambers instead of 4.

Vishous is getting ready for the viewing, dressing in loose black silk pants and a matching top that looks like a smoking jacket from the 1940's. It will be easier for Vishous to maintain his composure if his best friend isn't there, so he asks Butch to have Grey Goose ready for him when he comes back and he'll take someone else.

Chapter 34

V takes Phury instead and, ever the gentleman, he greets the Scribe Virgin with respectful dignity; chuckling, she tells him she's not likely to receive as warm a greeting from her son. The news of V's maternity shocks Phury, but he's smart enough to keep his mouth shut while V verbally takes out his anger, disappointment, and frustration on his mother. When she loses her patience, she suffocates him until he promises to be respectful towards her in front of the Chosen. Without a will to live, Vishous stubbornly refuses, preferring to die. She was the first to bend, allowing him to breathe just before passing out.

In the amphitheatre, Vishous sits on a golden throne and the Chosen is tied spread-eagled to a sort of tilted slab and rolled out onto the stage where two other Chosen reveal the body of the first Chosen, leaving her hooded. Once he's given his less-than-enthusiastic approval of her, another Chosen uses a white feather to waft incense over the first Chosen three times: once for the past, once for the present, once for the future.

Underneath the hood, Cormia's dying of despair and mortification, calmer after the Directrix forced a sedative down hr throat. Her terror spikes when she hears Vishous' callous "whatever" when the Scribe Virgin asks if Cormia is to his liking; the coldness in his voice convinces her that he will be even worse than the Bloodletter. To add more humiliation, Phury has to give his approval as well.

Phury thinks that the whole ceremony is wrong and focuses on not looking at anyone, until the Scribe Virgin requires his approval of Cormia as well since he's there as a witness. Seeing Cormia, he's immediately aroused and ashamed of himself for his reaction. His approval is full of awe compared to Vishous', earning the Scribe Virgin's approval. Two Chosen bathe Cormia in incense again.

Both Brothers smell Cormia's terror and V calls for a stop to the ceremony. The Scribe Virgin tries to overrule him, but he gets up on the stage, covers up Cormia's naked body, and frees her. V tells Phury to go home and he'll meet him there; while Phury's natural instinct is to play peacekeeper, he knows he has no chance standing between the two of them.

Chapter 35

Having passed out, Cormia wakes up, still hooded and frightened to hear Vishous next to her. He removes the hood for her, promises not to hurt her, and askes her name. Shaken, Cormia asks if he's a god because how else could he interfere with the Scribe Virgin? V deduces that she's unwilling and is shocked when she admits that she's never seen a male before.

Jane wakes up and makes herself some coffee, wishing that it was cocoa instead, and gets a mental flash of a man handing a mug of cocoa to her before leaving.

Manny stops by to check on her and, seeing she has a migraine, checks her out. He tells her she doesn't have the flu but recommends a CAT scan on her head because of her symptoms and when she agrees just to shut him up, he kisses her.

Chapter 36

Understanding how severely he'd underestimated how difficult the mating would be for Cormia, V apologizes and they both realize that neither one of them wants it, but will do it for the greater good. Amalya comes to check on Cormia and V orders her to take care of Cormia until he returns in 2 days for the completion of the mating rituals. Returning to the real world, V goes to Jane's place and finds Manny there looking like he's going to kiss Jane.

Before V can attack, Butch stops him and the two friends brawl on the back lawn with V covering them with his. Once they've beaten the crap out of each other, they lie on the ground, catching their breath. Phury had told the Brotherhood what happened on the Other Side so Butch deduced that V would end up at Jane's when he returned. V admits he'd probably have killed Manny. Agreeing, Butch advises him to stay away from Jane for her safety.

For the first time, Vishous admits aloud that he'd been in love with Butch, which comes as no surprise to the cop, pretending to be dramatically heartbroken. Getting serious for a minute, Butch tells him that there's a reason they met and they're in it together, V's feelings for him had probably been more about him caring for someone for the first time. To shrug off the personal sharing, they joke about Butch starting up his own talk show on Spike TV with MMA thrown in. Butch tries unsuccessfully to get V to leave with him but makes sure Manny's left before taking off.

Jane wakes up to a familiar man in her room and her screaming headache returns but falls asleep again. In her dreams, she begs him not to leave and they make love. Vishous knows that it's wrong since she can't give proper consent; his need for her overcoming his misgivings. Returning home, he's determined to get blind drunk for the next two days.

Chapter 37

John takes a test drive of his new libido while thinking of Xhex and finds that his plumbing works just fine; it's the thought of involving someone else that leaves him cold.

At 1 am, Phury goes to ZeroSum to pick up a professional for his first time, however, he needs two martinis first, and they go into one of the VIP bathrooms.

Blay, John, and Qhuinn use Xhex's name to get in the club and she invites them to the VIP section. They get a table that has a pair of martini glasses and before long a prostitute comes along to hawk her wares. Rehvenge shoos her away and explains to the boys that in the VIP area it's pay to play whereas the open access area is catch and release. He tells them he's the owner and while they're there, he's responsible for them so please make his job easy. Before leaving, he tells John that Zsadist said to say hello. The comment relaxes John a little knowing that the scary mofo was an ally.

Blay and Qhuinn go trawling, promising to bring someone back for John. Xhex stops by to congratulate John on getting through his transition and he experiences his first awkwardly timed erection. Phury comes out of the bathroom with his prostitute and he and John see each other. When Blay and Qhuinn return with 3 girls, John's too uncomfortable when one hits on him and leaves.

Chapter 38

The next morning, Jane gets up and there's evidence that she had sex the night before. She assumes it had been with Manny, but doesn't remember it.

Phury hadn't been able to climax with the prostitute and, feeling even dirtier than before, he considers moving out of the mansion. In a Brotherhood meeting, Phury offers to become the Primale, freeing V to be with Jane. He convinces Wrath and Vishous has to convince the Scribe Virgin. Vishous tackles him in a hug of gratitude.

Chapter 39

At the hospital, Manny accuses Jane of avoiding him and she admits that she's regretting having slept with him. Shocked, Manny tells her that they didn't and she admits that she's been having memory lapses, hallucinations, and other concerning symptoms. Confessing that she's scared, he hugs her and tells her to stay out of the OR and they cover by telling people she's still recovering from the flu. He's going to make a call to a psychiatrist friend in California and schedules her a CAT scan with a clinic across town to keep her secret. Like watching an accident happen, she knows that her career is over because of her mental problems.

Vishous goes to see his mother and she knows he has feelings for "that human surgeon." She gives permission for Phury to take over as Primale and renounces his as her son, absolving them both of any obligations to the other.

Chapter 40

Phury's preparing for the ceremony when Bella comes in and starts brushing his hair for him when he yanks a brush through it, practically ripping his hair out. He tells her that he's going to live on the Other Side and will only come back to fight. Crying quietly, he thinks back on his life and feels like he's always been searching and reaching for what he wanted, but it was always just out of reach. Even when he'd rescued Zsadist, he'd spent a century being his brother's keeper.

Bella tells him that she wants him to truly fall in love and not what he thinks he feels for her. She reminds him that he's not had experience with females and he throws what happened at ZeroSum and his drug addiction in her face. He deserves better than that because he's worth more than he thinks and he's being self-destructive, she says. They argue over whether or not he's a male of worth, but before they come to an understanding, he asks her to leave before he breaks down.

Vishous goes to Jane's and Butch calls him because his computers found that Manny had accessed Michael Klosnick's medical file at the hospital looking for pictures of V's heart.

Chapter 41

When Jane gets home, Vishous removes her memory block and tells her he's not getting mated. Jumping into his arms, she tells him she loves him and that she thought she was going crazy. They have sex and afterwards, he feels a sense of foreboding.

Chapter 42

Stoned out of his mind, Phury completes the mating ceremony with Wrath, Zsadist, the Scribe Virgin, and the rest of the Chosen. Going to the Temple of the Primale, he finds aphrodisiac incense burning and Cormia tied spread-eagle on a platform. A curtain suspended from the ceiling pools around her neck to obscure her face.

Despite his morals, he's still tempted to take her even though she's shaking from fear. He tears down the curtain and finds that she's crying and screaming through a gag. Freeing her, he wraps her in the curtain.

Jane asks V what his full name is and when he tells her, she tells him about the Ouija board the night of her 13th birthday and her sister's death. He asks her to marry him in the vampire tradition, although it won't be official because there won't be any presentation to the Scribe Virgin since she dislikes him. When he tells her about the name carving, she asks if she can do it and he says maybe she could do a letter, which piques his interest. He explains what it means to be a bonded male and what the bonding scent is, promising to mate her that night with Wrath presiding and Butch and Marissa as witnesses. While they make love, he feeds her his blood.

Chapter 43

Cormia hadn't been informed that Phury was to be the Primale and not Vishous. When he reassures her that he won't take her, she worries about failing in her role. He suggests going for a walk to get to know each other since the mating can wait, but she'd been told she couldn't leave his temple until the deed was done. Reminding her that he's the Primale and therefore has dominion over all the Chosen, he tells her to wrap herself in the curtain since her clothes had been taken from her.

At St. Francis, Vishous takes the file containing the pictures of his heart and erases Manny's memories. Before leaving, he gets the sense of "brother" towards Manny.

Chapter 44

Phury brings Cormia to the mansion where she meets Bella and, seeing her interact with Phury, realizes that he's in love with his brother's shellan. Cormia's overwhelmed by colours, foreign smells, even subtle air currents that don't exist on the Other Side; the sound of the wind frightens her.

Chapter 45

The Directrix had come looking for Cormia and demanded to interview her about what happened in the Temple of the Primale to confirm the completion of the ceremony. Realizing she has it out for Cormia and just wants to tear into her since they hadn't had sex, Phury pulls rank and reminded her that he doesn't have to do anything she says and that Cormia will stay with him as long as he damn well pleases. He begins to think about how to get her fired since someone so mean and petty shouldn't be in charge of anyone else.

Cormia asks to stay in Phury's room with him and it becomes obvious to him that everything is unfamiliar and disturbing to her. Her reaction to his missing foot makes him self-conscious.

Chapter 46

Vishous had, had the gunshot nightmare again that morning.

In his sleep, Phury starts to dry hump Cormia and he comes to completion in her hand. She didn't know what would happen and assumes that she'd hurt him. Reassuring her that it's not blood and feeling like a lecherous creep, he gets her a towel and tells her that she should stay in the other room.

Chapter 47

John's having difficulty with weapons training drills until Zsadist suggests he try fighting left-handed, then everything clicks. Z tells him that only one fighter was known to be left-handed: Darius. He tells John that he looks and moves so much like Darius that it's eerie.

Having been delayed by work, Jane gets home late and finds V waiting for her with calla lilies. While he'd had a romantic night planned, he can tell she's tired so he tucks her into bed and she feels bad for disappointing him even though she'd had a patient die at the end of her shift. They talk about the dying process for a little while. When he was about to leave to go on patrol, she suggests becoming the private surgeon for the Brotherhood since they're often injured, Bella's pregnant and more pregnancies are likely, plus, she would get an opportunity to study vampire physiology and genetics. This way, she could continue to grow in her profession, especially since she'd declined the Columbia opportunity, and it would be safer for her and for vampires to be entirely in their world by moving in with Vishous.

V meets Rhage outside; he scents that one of her neighbours is a Lesser and knows that his recurring gunshot nightmare is coming true as Jane comes running out with a jacket he'd left there. He couldn't get to Jane in time and she took the bullet to the back, tearing completely through her sternum and striking Vishous. Knowing that she won't survive, she tells him she loves him with her dying breath.

Chapter 48

The Scribe Virgin sensed her punishment manifesting that she'd long ago foreseen and knows that Jane is dying in Vishous' arms. She blames herself for his loss because she'd broken the rules by creating both the vampire race and her children when she'd only been permitted one act of creation; Vishous' entire existence was cursed because of her transgression. Experiencing Vishous' agony and horror and grief, she's powerless to help him and vents her own grief and pain.

Jane sees her sister in an in-between state and Hannah tells her that if she wants to find peace, she's going to have to let him go; if she doesn't, she'll be lost in the fog of the in-between forever, but she's incapable of stopping loving him.

Chapter 49

Using her car, Vishous is driving Jane's body to Havers when he has a vision, destroys his phone's GPS chip, and leaves town at twice the speed limit.

The Brotherhood's worrying because they can't find V and they know that he disabled his GPS chip.

V crashes Jane's car into an oak tree and carries Jane to the Tomb. He's convinced himself that he can bring her back from the dead, a process that normally turns a being completely evil, and cleanse her with the same ability that he uses on Butch. Taking a Lesser's heart jar from one of the shelves, he squeezes the heart and drips the black oily blood into the Brotherhood's skull chalice.

The Scribe Virgin stops him and tells him that his ability won't be enough to prevent her from becoming evil and he'll condemn her forever to the Omega. Since balance is required, V starts to sever his left hand to pay the price and the Scribe Virgin screams for him to stop.

Chapter 50

Jane knows that she's out of time because she's fading into the mist. While she refuses to stop loving Vishous, she accepts that she has no options and she's pulled upward by a warm, loving light.

As dawn rapidly approaches, the Brotherhood's become increasingly frantic. Butch asks where a funeral for a shellan would be held, which would be the Tomb. Since he can't dematerialize, Phury drives him. He sees the missing jar in the tunnel and warns Butch to be ready to fight an evil undead Jane.

Inside the caver, they find V slumped against the wall and that Jane's body has been cremated by the Scribe Virgin. They scoop up Jane's cremains and V and take them home.

Chapter 51

Phury's in no particular hurry to meet the Directrix and wanders into the Treasury out of curiosity. Seeing Darius' diary, he opens the case and smells gunpowder. Amidst the other objects, there's an antique revolver that's been recently fired and missing a round bullet that looks remarkably like the one he saw in Vishous' x-rays. The Directrix walks in, asking if he was looking for her and tenses when she sees what display he has open. He asks her if they're the only ones with keys to the Treasury and she says yes. Goading her by being flippant and pointing out that he outranks her, she drops her mask of composure and he sees the seething hatred underneath. Taking Darius' diary with him, he goes to see the Scribe Virgin.

Chapter 52

Two days later, Vishous still hasn't spoken to anyone or eaten, he's been lying next to her urn of ashes in his room. He'd never cried before in his life, but he is now because his visions and telepathy are back, which means that he's passed the major crossroads his mother had said were blocking them. The only reason he hasn't killed himself is that he's determined to eliminate the Lessening Society and has been going out killing them with a single-minded focus. That and Butch would die without him to cleanse the Omega's taint.

The Scribe Virgin comes to him with Jane as a ghost and tells him that his "curse is the way you must touch her;" in this form, he can touch her with his left hand without harming her. She can eat and drink but doesn't need to. He asks what the sacrifice is and whatever it is, he will pay it. His mahmen tells him that there's no price for him to pay.

Chapter 53

At dinner in the mansion, Phury tells everyone about the Directrix's treachery and when Wrath says that she needs to die, Phury tells him that it's already taken care of. The Scribe Virgin had asked who he wanted as the new Directrix but he doesn't yet know the Chosen enough to give her a name. Cormia tells him to nominate Amalya because she's warm, kind, and of the appropriate seniority.

As they all start to complain about Wrath making them all play Monopoly "again," John excuses himself from the table and retreats to Tohr's, now Zsadist's office in the training center. He's upset that Jane got to be a ghost, but Wellsie, or even his biological mother, didn't get a second chance. It seems like everyone else is getting their happy ever afters but him and Tohr, who he still thinks of as a father.

Figuring where his mind was at, Zsadist follows John and tells him that he used to wonder why he was the blood slave and not Phury; Phury's still killing himself that Zsadist had to suffer and not him. Wondering why something happens to someone and not another never gets you anywhere. He believes in fate because people don't have a lot of control over anything, and there's no point in trying to change things that aren't in one's power to do so.

Phury had passed along Darius' diary to Z to give to John for his birthday, but Z decides not to wait and gives it to him early.

Vishous goes to the Other Side where Amalya informs him that the Scribe Virgin is not receiving anyone for the immediate future. He fumbles for the right words to convey to his mahmen and Amalya suggests, "perhaps I shall tell her that her son came to thank her for her generous gift and for her sacrifice for his happiness." The term "son" seems false, so he asks her to use his name instead. Noting the word sacrifice, he wonders what she sacrificed and realized that the birds were gone from her tree in the courtyard; she had given up her love, her only comfort in her lonely solitude, for his.

Chapter 54

Jane appears to a grieving Manny at his apartment and, telling him it's a dream, she says that she's happy where she is and not to worry about her. Even as she says it, she has a feeling that their paths will cross again.

Chapter 55

While others can start to walk through Jane, decompressing her clothes, if neither of them are paying attention, she's always solid to Vishous. And anyone walking into her sets off his bonded male instincts. She's excited about going to Safe Place to help out and then ordering equipment for the clinic she's going to build in the training centre; she plans on training doggen as nurses. She and Vishous are still getting used to feeling like everything's going to be ok.

Vishous brings a little yellow parakeet to the Other Side and places it in the tree. While he's calculating how many more birds are needed to fill it (he estimates "a shitload"), Amalya tells him it will help ease his mother's solitude. He asks her to tell the Scribe Virgin that the birds are from him, and she says that won't be necessary since only her son would be so kind. And he agrees with her.

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