The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(75) by J.R.Ward
Save him? But that was the whole point of all this. He wanted out. “What?”
“I told her she could take the leg. To save your life.”
Luchas fell silent. Surely he must have gotten that wrong, the proper translation of what had been spoken misappropriated by the painkillers they’d just given him.
“It was the only option. We were losing you.”
“What did you do to me,” he said slowly. “What did you—”
Luchas sat back up off the pillows, an indescribable horror draining the blood from his head. Looking down at his lower body, he found that the thin sheets revealed the contours of the thigh, knee, calf, and foot of his left leg … but only the thigh and knee of his right one.
With a shout, he reached for what should have been there, jerking at the flat sheets, pulling at them as if they were somehow hiding what was in fact no longer there.
“What did you do!” He turned on his brother, grabbing at his shirt, yanking, pulling with the set of fingers he had left. “What the fuck did you do!”
“You were dying—”
“Because I wanted to! How could you!”
He batted at Qhuinn, ineffectual fist flying, his ruined hand slapping.
Qhuinn did not defend himself. He just allowed the beating, such as it was, to happen—not that there was much to the attack. And Luchas didn’t last long. Energy soon spent, he collapsed back against the pillow, his hollow chest pumping up and down, blood running up his IV line, vision flaring in and out of clarity.
And still the limb that wasn’t there hurt.
“Get out,” he said numbly. “I don’t want to see you again.”
Turning his face to the wall, he heard quiet conversation and then the door opened and closed softly.
“How is your pain level now?” Doc Jane asked.
“Why does it hurt…?” he mumbled. “You took it away.”
God, he was even more mangled now, still more of who and what he had been was gone.
“It’s called phantom-limb pain. But the sensation is very real.”
“Did you take … were you the one who cut it off?”
“Then get out of here, too. I didn’t consent to this—”
“You were dying—”
“I’m not listening. Get out.”
There was a pause, and he detested the way she looked down at him, all kind, concerned, caring.
“In time, Luchas, when you feel better—”
He ripped his head around. “You denied me my death. You butchered my body without my permission. So you’ll have to excuse me, but I’m completely uninterested in anything you have to say.”
The doctor closed her eyes briefly. “I’ll send Ehlena in with some food.”
“Don’t bother. You’ve just delayed the inevitable. I intend to finish the job myself now.”
Luchas went for the IV that ran into his arm, pulling at it until the thing sprang loose, clear liquid and red blood going everywhere—
People came through every door there was, racing in with panic, grabbing at him, talking loudly. He fought against them, writhing and shoving, struggling to stay upright because of his missing calf and foot …
Someone must have given him another shot, because all of a sudden his body went lax. Even though his brain was ordering all kinds of movement, nothing was responding.
As his eyes rolled around, he caught dim sight of Qhuinn standing in the doorway, his big, healthy, strong body blocking the way out.
It might as well have been the door unto the Fade the male was in the way of.
“I hate you!” Luchas screamed. “I hate you!”
Back at the King’s audience house, Rhage was in the dining room, standing with his back to the shut doors, his arms crossed over his chest. Most of the Brotherhood was in the room, milling around with too much kinetic energy.
Wrath was sitting in his armchair, his legs crossed ankle to knee, his dog’s head in his lap. “He’s late. That motherfucker is late.”
Rehv nodded from where he was standing in front of the fire and fanning his hands out as if they were cold. “He’ll be here.”
“I got people to see.”
Hollywood checked his watch. “You want me to go pick him up? I can throw a lasso on him and drag him here by his dick—”
The doorbell went off with a chime, and V opened one half of the drapes at the window across the way. “Speak of the dealer.”
“Let me go welcome him,” Rhage muttered as he slipped out.
“He’s not alone,” V barked.
“Neither am I.”
Closing the door, he went across to the parlor. “Paradise?” As the girl looked up from the desk, he smiled at her. “I’ma shut your room up for a sec. Do me a favor and stay in here until I come get you?”
Her wide, pretty eyes got even wider. “Is everything okay?”
“Yup. But I want you to hang here.”
“Okay. Of course.”
He winked at her. “Good girl. And lock it up behind me, ’kay?”
Shutting her in, he waited until he heard the copper lock turn on her side, and then he went to the front door. Opening things up, he gave Assail the once-over. The guy was dressed right out of Butch’s closet, everything tailored and matched, fitting like the shit had been drawn on his body. Behind him, a pair of identical thugs stood side by side. The fact that they were in loose-fitting black was a well, duh.
He could just imagine the firepower that was hiding under those coats.
“Thought you were coming alone,” he said.
“Your King wanted to meet my crew. Here they are, my cousins.”
Rhage leaned in. “That ain’t your whole crew, is it.”
“I can assure you, these are the only two I use.”
Rhage stepped back and nodded for them to enter the foyer. “I gotta search you.”
“We’re fully armed.”
As the three filed in, Rhage pointed to a huge silver tray on the table under a gilt mirror. “Drop ’em there. And make sure it’s all your metal. I find something on you, it’s going to put my panties in a wad.”
Clink. Clink … clink … clank, clank … rattle, rattle, rattle.
Rhage didn’t want to be impressed, but he had to give them some credit. Good-looking guns and a lot of sharp knives.
“You first,” he said to one of the twins.
The other one stepped forward. “Do me. My brother’s a little jumpy.”
“Excuse me? Did I miss the memo where you were put in charge, douche bag?” He motioned for Mr. Antsy to come forward and patted him down. “There, now, you want a lollipop ’cuz that was so hard? Now you, with the list of demands, get over here.”
He discharged number two, and then stepped over to Assail, who had been watching the show like a snake.
“Nice cologne,” Hollywood muttered as he threw the guy’s arms out and banged down a surprisingly muscled torso. “Where’d you get it, CVS?”
“Are you always this rude,” Assail said in a bored tone.
“You’re the second person to ask me something like that in the last forty-eight hours.” He kicked the guy’s fancy Italian loafers wide. “You got a problem with me, file a claim with human resources.”
“How corporate of you.”
Rhage straightened after he’d checked out that lower body. “FYI, Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, is our personnel contact. He prefers complaints that are made in person. Have fun with that.”
Done with the three of them, he walked over to the audience room’s closed doors, knowing they would follow. Opening things wide, he stood to the side and glared at the SOBs as they filed in, one by one.
“Assail,” Wrath drawled. “We’re meeting again.”
“And this time no bullets,” the drug dealer replied.
“Not yet,” one of the brothers muttered.
Assail’s eyes traveled over the assembled masses. “Quite a bit of protection you have here.”
Wrath shrugged. “I had a choice of collecting them or Hummel figurines. It was a toss-up.”
“To what do I owe the honor of a command appearance.”
“Rehv? Do the deed, since you know what you’re talking about.”
The sin-eater stepped away from the hearth and smiled like he was about to eat something. “We have reason to believe you’re participating in the drug market in Caldwell.”
Assail didn’t flinch. “I have never hid my business.”
“Ever see this before?”
When Rehv tossed a packet into the air, Assail caught the thing and looked it over. “Heroin.”
“The symbol is yours, isn’t it.”
Rhage spoke up. “We found a number of those on a slayer at a club that happens to be owned by a friend of ours.”
Wrath smiled coldly as he reached down to stroke his guide dog’s blond coat. “So you can see how this puts us all in an awkward sitch. You’re using the enemy to disseminate product. Aren’t you.”
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