Where Winter Finds You by J.R. Ward is out today! This is book 17.5 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. We are finally getting closure on Trez and Selena(?) or is it Therese? You’ll have to read it to find out!
Here’s a little tidbit to get you as excited as I am.
“Holy f–k,” Trez yelled as a semitrailer truck the size of a building went blasting past the front bumper of his brand-new BMW.
Like right past. Like . . . nearly peeling off the hood of the damned car.
As his four-wheel drive, heavily treaded snow tires abruptly grabbed at that which they had been spinning on, and a pedestrian who’d slipped suddenly righted himself out of the way of the truck, Trez decided that the definition of in-the-nick-of time was exactly what just happened. If he’d been able to go when the light had turned, if that pedestrian hadn’t caught himself just when he had, they would both have been filing their termination papers tonight.
Because about a split second prior to the almost catastrophe going down, Trez had been debating whether or not to just drive on. And not merely through the intersection.
Having spent two decades in Caldwell, watching with his Shadow eyes the way a couple generations of humans built up the city, he knew exactly where this particular street in this particular section of town ended up.
At the Hudson River.
So if he hit the gas and kept on a direct, no wavering course until the street ended, he could take a Fast & Furious jump off the concrete embankment under one of Caldie’s two bridges. The BMW would not last long in the free fall, the sleek car having been built to fly over asphalt, not literally fly, and soon enough, both he and all this expensive steel, leather, and plastic would be sinking beneath the cold, sluggish waters of the Hudson.
As his eyes had flashed peridot, his brain had imagined what it would be like. At first, the water would infiltrate through seams and vents, a trickle, not a rush. But that would change as he used the last of the electrical system’s power to lower the windows. After that, he would sit and wait for his drowning to take place, probably with his hands still on the wheel, maybe not, his seat belt remaining pulled across his chest, his clothes dampening and then clinging to his warm body with the clammy touch of the corpse he would soon become.
He would not struggle. He would keep his eyes open. He imagined himself feeling a calmness that had been missing since all the light in his world went out in that hospital room about twenty miles, and some distance underground, away from where he himself would die. He would be so relieved. Even as the water reached his throat, then proceeded over his mouth and into his nose and ears, even as his body temperature tried to rally against the icy submersion and failed to conserve any warmth, even as his air supply dwindled to that which was in his lungs and no more, he would be at peace.
The death throes, when they came—and they would, for his body was, as all were, evolutionarily adapted for survival, the conscious mind in charge only up to a dire point, whereupon autonomic function took over and things went haywire—would thrash him about in the bucket seat, throwing his head forward and back, his mouth opening and drawing in water as a reflex, as a desperate hope that his lungs were merely being denied oxygen as opposed to there being none available to them. He was under no illusions that it would be easy. There would be suffering from the suffocation, burning inside his body, perhaps even some last-moment panic kicked over his mortal transom by the lizard part of his brain.
But then it would be over. Done with. The whole miserable biological accident of his life dusted, in the bin, over and out.
A void, and nothing more.
Which was heretical.
As a Shadow, he had been raised in a slightly different belief system than regular vampires. His people, an evolutionary extension within the fanged species, relied a great deal on the stars in the sky, the traditions of the s’Hisbe a variant of what was accepted as the way the afterlife worked. The core tenets, however, were the same for both. It was like Protestants and Catholics—same essential language, but different dialects—and as such, his kind, too, had the theory that after you died, you went up unto the Fade, and lived out eternity with your loved ones under the benevolent auspices of the Scribe Virgin. Assuming you hadn’t been a total douche down on earth. If you had been an asshole, you were relegated to Dhunhd, also known as Hell, which was where the Omega and his minions hung out. Either way, your conduct over the course of your mortal nights determined your final zip code, and there was something after your last breath to look forward to—or dread—depending on your worthiness.
It was an okay theory, and a construct that he understood was, in its own fashion, to be found on the human side of things as well. Not the Fade or Dhunhd, perhaps, not the Scribe Virgin or the Omega, exactly, but rather other, similar belief systems that covered both how you treated yourself and others while you were mortal, and also considered what happened to you after your coil, so to speak, got popped. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and countless other religions, they were all efforts to give more of a vista after death than just a coffin and a grave. Or a pyre.
He knew from pyres.
God, did he ever.
What he no longer knew from, however, what he no longer believed in, was all the rest of that stuff. He’d never been particularly spiritual, but man, you didn’t know how much you had been until you were not any longer.
Anyway, prior to the whole truck/intersection/ almost-obliteration thing, he had been considering what was not exactly a sin, but rather a really, very not-so-hot idea. Assuming you were a believer. In the lexicon of both vampires and Shadows, if you took your own life, that was it. No Fade for you, motherfucker. Now, no one had been able to provide him with a good explanation of what the alternative repercussions were—sure, lore had it you were closed-door’d on the whole Fade thing. But where did you end up? Dhunhd? Worm food? Who knew. Yet everyone and their uncle was damn clear on the fact that you weren’t going to be elbows deep in people you liked for the next jabillion years.
The message apparently being, if you took your own life, well, then, to hell with you if you didn’t appreciate the gift you were given at birth.
Yeah, like this whole breathing/heart-beating thing had been such a fucking prize, these years he’d been upright and walking around such a goddamn joy. He’d been destined for a loveless mating since the night he was born, been responsible for the senseless suffering of both his parents, watched a dear friend get tortured by a psychotic cunt for a good twenty years—that was fun—been a pimp, a drug dealer, and an enforcer.
Real partridge-in-a-pear-tree shit.
And then that heaping sundae of shit-chip ice cream—which he’d self-medicated with an outstanding sex addiction, thank you very much—had been cherry-topped by the granddaddy of all gutwrenchers.
He’d met the female of his dreams, fallen in love . . . and, after what felt like twenty minutes of happiness, had had to hold her hand as she died of a wasting disease right in front of him.
Honestly, he hadn’t just been born under a bad star; he’d been born under one that kicked him in the nuts so badly, he’d coughed them out in his hand.
So now he was here, in this BMW he’d just bought, on this snowy night, during the motherfucking human season of cocksucking joy, contemplating suicide—only to have the GODDAMN ACCIDENT THAT COULD HAVE MADE IT ALL COME OUT ALL RIGHT DENIED TO HIM BY A SET OF ALL-SEASON RADIALS THAT HAD WORKED JUST FINE AT EVERY OTHER FUCKING INTERSECTION HE’D EVER DRIVEN THROUGH.
Not to put too fine a point on things.
But FFS, he couldn’t even have a chance to get dead in such a way that he could both end this bullshit AND not run afoul of the maybe truth that suicide got you, literally, nowhere.
Not that he believed in the afterlife anymore anyway. No matter what he’d thought he’d seen after Selena had died.
Hell, if there was anything that the last three months had taught him, it was that death was a hard stop. Especially if you were the one left behind.
Well, Trez thought, as he sped along in the snow, at least there was still the embankment option.
There was that to look forward to.
We are lucky enough to have one copy of Where Winter Finds You. Enter using the widget below. The contest is available to US residents only.