EW’s got an exclusive cover reveal and excerpt for you to sink your teeth into.
J.R. Ward has enchanted readers all over the world with her best-selling Black Dagger Brotherhood franchise, an ongoing series of paranormal romances focused on a society of vampire warriors known as the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
First published in 2005, the series has only grown in popularity over the series and Ward’s latest entry in the series, The Savior, will hit shelves on April 2, 2019. The Savior marks the twentieth book in the series and tells the story of Muhrder, a fan favorite since his appearance near the end of the previous book in the series, The Thief.
The thrilling new love story and heart-pounding passion will appeal to all of Ward’s devoted fans. EW is excited to exclusively share the cover and an excerpt from the novel below.
The Savior will be published by Gallery Books on April 2, 2019.
Excerpt from The Savior by J.R. Ward
Darius’s old house. The federal mansion in the wealthy part of Caldwell that Murhder could remember coming to before everything had changed for him.
As he stood across the street from the gracious home, he told himself to get a move on. Walk to the front door. Knock to announce his presence—although surely the Brothers were staring out at him now because the inside of the stately Wayne Manor was pitch-black. The forethought made some part of him wake up that was, for once, not bad news. He could remember being strategic like that. No lights inside meant they could be stacked ten deep in front of any piece of glass and no one could see them, know their numbers, assess their weaponry.
He had to wonder if some were not outside, too. They would be careful to stay downwind so he couldn’t sense them, and they would be silent as snow falling if they shifted positions.
Murhder had not brought an overcoat. A jacket. Even a pullover. And not because North Carolina was so much warmer. The oversight, coupled with the fact that he didn’t even own a parka, seemed a revealing symptom of his mental disease.
Moving his hand to his back pocket, he felt for the three letters that he’d brought with him. Those mattered. Not so much the FedEx envelope that the King was so hot and bothered about. That was carelessly tucked under one arm—he’d left without it and nearly hadn’t gone back. Wrath was expecting the documents, however, and knowing the way the last pure bred vampire on the earth operated, there would be no letting that one go.
Murhder fully intended to get what he needed and never see any of them again.
Forcing himself to step off the curb, he—
The facility was about the horizontal, rather than the vertical, and from Murhder’s hillside hideout, he memorized the interconnected buildings, with their central core and radiating spokes. No windows except for the entrance, and even there the glass was tinted and kept to a minimum. Parking lot was mostly empty, what cars there were congregating close to the way in.
There was no one walking around outside.
Nowhere to walk around, really.
The forest surrounding the remote site crowded in tight, another unbroken stretch of wall, the pines bough-to-bough blockers of access. There was a perimeter fence as well, twenty feet high with a curl of barbed wire at the top and a gatehouse that appeared to be fitted with bulletproof panels and glass.
If you were a human and you didn’t have the right credentials? Your only chance to get in was to blow a hole in one side.
Fortunately, he had other options.
Closing his eyes, he concentrated on calming himself, his respiration slowing down from the fast pump of his impending attack, his heart stepping off its pounding race-pace. As soon as he was able, he dematerialized, proceeding forward in a scatter of molecules. His entry point was an HVAC exhaust portal that, had he been fully corporeal, would have required him to have a blowtorch handy. As it was, he easily penetrated the aluminum mesh and continued through the duct work.
The interior layout of the facility was unknown to him, and that made the dematerialization dangerous. If he chose the wrong place to reform, he could do damage to things on his body that weren’t going to grow back. But this was a Hail Mary, so he couldn’t worry about his own personal safety.
Vents. More ductwork. Filters he was barely able to get through.
He came out through an industrial furnace, reestablishing his physical form in a pitchblack room that smelled like desert-dry air and motor oil. His presence triggered a motionactivated light, and his eyes burned in the glare as the thing did its job. Bracing for an alarm, he palmed one of his guns and sank down into his thighs in case someone threw open the door that was in front of him.
When no one came in, he glanced back at the furnace, took a deep breath, and dematerialized out the thin seam under the door.
Break room. With two uniformed maintenance men who had their backs to him, the pair sitting at a table, watching basketball on a black-and-white TV.
Murhder left them right where they were. No reason to kick the hornets’ nest until he absolutely had to, and his instincts told him which way he had to go.
Xhex was nearby. Not next-room-over close, but somewhere in the facility.
Her blood had blazed the trail for him, bringing him to the site after he had crisscrossed hundreds of miles of upstate New York searching for her: That which he had taken from her vein to sustain himself was going to save her, the debt repaid.
Provided he saved her life.
Out in a corridor now, and there was no dematerializing anymore. His senses were too alive, her location marked by the blinking-light siren call of her blood—and as a master would unleash a hound, so he allowed the most animalistic part of himself free to find her. Ambulation was no longer a conscious coordination of limbs but an autonomic process serving the greatest good of bringing his body to the female.
When he rounded a corner and came upon two human males in white laboratory coats, he snapped their necks and left the bodies where they fell. Innocent victims? Not fucking hardly, and if time hadn’t been of the essence, he would have taken their pain to new levels, not just with this pair but with every single living, breathing entity in this torture chamber.
Murhder kept going, pounding down corridors, passing in and out of the security cameras mounted in the ceiling.
The alarms sounded just as he stopped before a door that was made of steel—the one metal that vampires could not dematerialize through—and this time, there was an interior seal that he could sense.
These humans knew about the mesh, he thought. They had taken care to protect that which they had kidnapped with a fine weave of steel. Thank fuck they hadn’t had the foresight to secure the entire facility as such—no doubt because they were more concerned with escape than rescue.
Months of prayer and searching and panic were finally over, but now the hardest part.
The explosives he brought with him were on his utility belt, and the alarms were drowned out as he detonated the charge on the C-4. The door felt back from its jamb, landing on the floor like a tomb slab.
Murhder jumped through the smoke with his daggers out. No guns. He didn’t want to kill Xhex with stray bullets—
It was a full blown medical laboratory with shelves full of supplies, an operating table that made him want to throw up, and all kinds of microscopes and monitors on counters and desks.
He slaughtered the laboratory workers in seconds. Three of them, all men. They offered no coordinated resistance, wasting time screaming and trying to run, and he went for the one who picked up a phone first. As he slashed their throats, those coats turned red down the front, their laminated IDs likewise covered with blood.
It was as he dropped the last of them that he wheeled around and saw the mesh-covered cages.
Two of them, and Xhex was on the left, naked, with a food bowl and a container of water like she was a fucking animal. But there was another female in the other pen—and she was heavily pregnant.
Her eyes, hollow and haunted, stared at him through the weave of steel bands—and as her mouth opened in shock, reality warped on him.
The face in the sacred glass. This was the female!
“You can’t touch the bars,” Xhex said over the din of the alarms. “They’re charged.”
Murhder shook himself back to attention. The female he’d known he was coming for was up on her feet, ready to get sprung, but so emaciated, he knew he was going to have to carry her out. The one with the young—she was on her knees, and he worried that was all she could do.
“Over there,” Xhex said as she pointed to the right. “There’s the circuit breaker for the cages.”
No time to fuck around with fuses. He traded one of his daggers for a gun and plowed six shots into the metal box. Sparks flew and there was a minor explosion, smoke with a metal bite to it released into the lab.
“Stand back,” he ordered.
Xhex knew what he was thinking, and she jumped out of the way as he pointed his gun at the locking mechanism of her cage. The bullet he discharged split the casing, releasing a set of mechanical internal organs on the floor.
Xhex pushed the door wide and stumbled out on pin-thin legs that trembled so badly, the knobby knees knocked together. Her hair had been shaved and there were electrodes attached to her skull.
He had to look away, but that just landed his eyes on the pregnant female. “We can’t leave her,” he said. “I need to…”
But he couldn’t carry both of them and still have a hand free for a gun. And it went without saying that in their weakened states, neither could dematerialize.
“I need to help her.” His voice didn’t sound like his own. “I’m supposed to…”
The pregnant female dragged herself over her cage’s door. Behind the steel mesh, her hands clenched on the bars, her mouth moving, her voice too weak to carry through the alarms.
“I’ll come back for her,” he heard himself say as he grabbed onto Xhex’s arm. “I promise.”
“No! They’ll move her, they have other locations—”
Security guards skidded into the doorway, three men in blue uniforms. He shot at them as he pulled Xhex behind his body and moved for cover. Except there was none.
With yank, he flipped a worktable over and then pulled a portion of glass-fronted metal shelving on top of it, all kinds of beakers and test tubes hitting the floor as the front panels shattered and let loose their contents. Changing clips, he kept shooting, but it was without aim.
He bit his own wrist and shoved the open vein at Xhex’s mouth.
Without missing a beat, she drank hard and fast, taking the nutrition she hadn’t had, replacing weakness with strength. If she could dematerialize, there was hope for the other female—assuming she was even alive at this point. Lot of bullets in the lab, those guards returning fire—
Xhex let out a yell. “Fuck!”
As she released his vein without sealing it, he bled all over the place, but he was more worried about Xhex. She’d curled around on her side and was pressing her palms in under her ribs.
“I’m hit—fuck, I’m hit!” she barked.
A bullet whizzed by, just over his head. Two more went through the table and the shelving, the dull, metallic thunks belying the flimsy nature of their cover.
They both looked over at the female. She hadn’t been hit, yet, and it was clear she could read what was on their faces. That mouth of hers opened wide as she clawed at the bars, at the mesh, her frantic eyes revealing the depths of the hell she was in—
A car horn, set at the precise pitch of that terrified female’s scream, brought Murhder back to the present. He had stopped dead in the middle of the snowy street, and as he looked toward the sound, he was blinded by headlights. His arm went up to shield his eyes, but he didn’t think to move.
The car nailed him solidly, its tires locking on the snow pack, his body banging on the hood and rolling up the windshield. He caught a quick, passing survey of the clear winter sky as he passed over the roof, and then he hit the road on the far side facedown in the snow.
With a shudder, he gave his body a second to register any complaints, and besides, the cold pack of tire treads felt good against his hot cheek. Dimly, he noted the sound of car doors opening—three of them?
“Aw, shit, my father’s gonna kill me—”
“You shouldna driven high—”
Murhder cranked his head around and focused on the three young human boys who were standing around the back end of a very expensive BMW.
“I’m okay,” he told them. “Just go.”
“You serious?” one of them asked.
And that was when he caught a scent he hadn’t smelled in years and years. As tears came to his eyes, he closed his lids.
“If he’s fucking dead,” he heard Xhex say in her hard-ass voice, “I will kill each one of you. Slowly.”