The Thief (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #16)

The Thief (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #16)

by J. R. Ward

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451475220
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2018
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood Series , #16
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 9,784
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

J. R. Ward is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, the Black Dagger Legacy series, and The Bourbon Kings. She lives in Kentucky where she is working on her next book for Ballantine.

Read an Excerpt

One

Miami, Florida

Sola Morte, a.k.a. Marisol Maria Rafaela Carvalho, opened the sliding door, pulling the glass panel out of the way. Even though it was past midnight and into January, the ocean air that greeted her was seventy degrees and humid, a sweet kiss as opposed to a frigid slap. After a year of living in Miami, however, she was no longer pleasantly surprised. The kinder climate had become, like the slow pace, the palm trees, the beaches and the tides, simply part of life.

Exotic was a function of rarity, and so, as with beauty, was in the eye of the beholder.

Now, the snow-­covered pines of Caldwell, New York, would be captivating and unusual.

Shaking her head, she tried to stick to the present. The “terrace” for this fifth-­floor condo she shared with her grandmother was nothing more than a shelf with a railing, the sort of outdoor space added not for the functional utility and enjoyment of the owners, but so “ocean terrace” could be included in the sales description of the building’s thirty units. And come to think of it, the “ocean” part was also a fudge, as it was Biscayne Bay, not the Atlantic, she was overlooking. Still, water was water, and when you couldn’t sleep, it was more interesting than staring at your ceiling.

She’d kitted out the two-­bedroom, two-­bath place about three years ago, buying setups from Rooms To Go because they were priced right and someone else had done the thinking about throw pillows and color combinations. And then for her “luxury” “ocean” terrace, she’d hit Target and scored two yellow-­and-­white lawn chairs and a coffee table. The former worked fine. The latter had a translucent plastic top with what had turned out to be annoying waves in its surface. Nothing sat flush on it.

On that note, she parked herself in the chair on the left. “Full moon tonight.”

As her voice drifted off, she stared across the nocturnal vista. Directly in front of her, there were a number of short houses, old ones built in the forties, and then a series of crappy T-­shirt shops, bodegas, and cantinas between her and the beach. To say that she and her vovó lived in Miami was similar to the terrace-­false-­advertising thing. They were actually on the northern knife-­edge of the city limits, well away from the mansions and nightlife, although she was willing to bet that in about ten years, this down-­market neighborhood was going to get a glitzy overhaul.

Fine with her. She’d have a great return on her cash investment and—­

Oh, who was she kidding. They weren’t going to be here for more than another year.

She had another bolt-­hole in California and one in Toronto. After they cycled through those, it was going to be somewhere else.

For her, there were few requirements for establishing a home base: cash purchase, Catholic church within blocks, and a good Latino market close by.

As a breeze rolled up and played through her newly-­blonded hair, she sat forward because it was hard to stay still. The repositioning didn’t last, and not just because the top railing now blocked the view of the bay. Easing back, she tapped the heel of her flip-­flop, the metronome of restless energy only bearable because it was her own foot doing the up and down, and, at least theoretically, she could stop it.

To say that memory was a lane you could walk along, a path to follow, a linear progression you embarked on from start to finish, was way off base. After this past year, she had decided it was more like a piano keyboard, and the musical notes her mind played in the form of moving-­picture images were a pick-­and-­choose determined more by the sheet music of her mourning than the well-­founded logic of her decision to leave Caldwell.

For example, if she were rational about things, she would be focusing on what it had been like to come home one night and have those attackers abduct her as her grandmother roused and started to come down the stairs. Then she would recall her trip up north in the trunk of a car. Yup . . . if she were smart, her brain would be projecting a slide show about her taking a lit flare and stabbing it into the eye socket of the man who yanked her out of the back of that sedan. She would picture herself getting shot in the leg as she had tried to run away through the forest, and then remember the cell with the bars in the underground level of that torture camp.

She would visualize with precise detail the thug with the two-­toned face who had stripped her and tried to rape her—­until she had twisted his nuts and beat his head in with a heavy chain.

And finally, she would see herself dragging a dead man across the floor to try to use his fingerprint to open the way out. And when that didn’t work, she would retrace her steps as she returned to the basement and pulled that two-­toned attempted rapist’s arm through the bars of a cell so she could take a kitchen knife and cut the hand off at the wrist.

How about recalling the successful use of that still-­warm thumb on the keypad to open the steel door? Or bursting out of that hellhole wearing nothing but a parka and the blood of the two human beings she had killed?

But nah, those were not the notes her cerebral Steinway played.

As tunes went, the one that her brain kept on repeat was altogether different and far more destructive.

Even though it was certainly sexier—­

“Stop it.” She rubbed her eyes. “Just stop.”

Above the landlocked bay, over the breakwater rim of North Beach, the moon was a great silver plate, its illumination hazy and tickled by wisps of clouds.

Assail’s eyes had been like that, silver with a deep purple rim.

And she guessed they still were, assuming he was alive—­although with the kind of life he was leading? Drug lords were in risk pools over and above the generic ones like cancer and heart disease.

Not that she had judged him for his choice of business—­come on, her profession as a burglar was how she’d ended up in that trunk.

Such odd, hypnotizing eyes he’d had. Like nothing she had ever seen, and no, that was not romanticizing on her part. As with his strange name, and the accent that she couldn’t quite place—­was it German? French? Romanian?—­and the mystery that surrounded him, he had been what other men had never come close to: irresistible. With hair so black, she’d assumed it had been dyed, and a widow’s peak on that high, autocratic forehead, and his powerful body and sex drive, she had often felt that he was a figment from some other world.

A deadly presence.

A gorgeous predator.

An animal in human skin.

Between one blink and the next, she saw him the night he had come to rescue her from that camp—­but not as he had approached her with open arms and a calm voice just as she had run out of that steel door, all wounded and disorientated. No, she remembered him a short time later, when he had somehow met her at a rest stop some twenty miles down the highway.

She had never understood how it was possible that he had stayed behind as his cousins had driven off with her—­and yet Assail had caught up with them as if he could fly.

And then there was what he’d looked like. His mouth had been covered with blood as if he had bitten someone. And those silver and purple eyes had shone brighter than this moon in this southern sky with the light in them so unholy, it had seemed the stuff of exorcism.

Yet she had not been afraid of him—­and she had also known at that moment that Benloise, her captor, had not lived. Assail had somehow killed her kidnapper, and in all likelihood, his brother, Eduardo.

It was the way of the business they had all been in. And the way of the life she had been determined to leave after she had healed.

After all, when you were held by madmen and prayed to God to see your grandmother again, and that actually happened? Only a fool didn’t keep their end of the bargain.

Hello, Miami.

Sola pushed her fingertips into her forehead and tried to get her brain off the well-­worn path it seemed determine to process and ­re-process—­even though it was a year later, for godsakes. She couldn’t believe she was so fixated on a sound decision that she had made with her own survival at the forefront.

Nights were still the worst. During the day, when she was busy with such high-­level endeavors as grocery shopping, and going to mass with her vovó, and constantly looking out from under the brim of a baseball cap to see if they were being followed, she managed better. But with the darkness came the haunting, the ghost of a man she never should have slept with tormenting her.

She had long been aware that she had a death wish. Her attraction to Assail was confirmation of that, and then some.

Hell, she didn’t even know his last name. For all the spying on him that she had been hired to do, and then that which she had done on her own, she knew almost nothing about him. He had a glass house on the Hudson that was owned by a real estate trust. His two closest associates were his twin cousins, and both were as mute as brick walls when it came to his personal details. He’d had no wife or children.

At least not around him, but who knew. A man like that certainly had plenty of options for companionship.

Shifting to the side, she took her old iPhone out and looked at its black screen. When she woke the thing up, there was a picture of the beach from back right after she had arrived here.

No texts, no missed calls, no voicemails.

For a long while, she had had these regular hang-­ups from a restricted number.

The intermittent calls were the only reason she’d kept the phone. Who else would be reaching her on it except for Assail? Who else had the number? It wasn’t the phone she’d used with Benloise or any of her shadowy business, and the account was under an alias. He was the only one who had the digits.

She really should have left the thing up north and canceled the service. Clean cut was best. The safest.

The issue seemed to have resolved itself, however. Assuming Assail had been the one calling, he’d stopped—­and maybe it wasn’t because he’d found his grave. He had probably moved on—­which was what people did when they got left behind. The whole pining-­away-­for-­a-­lifetime thing only happened in Victorian novels, and then usually on the woman’s side.

Yeah, no Mr. Havisham going on up north. No way—­

Another memory took her back in time, and it was one she hated. Even after Benloise had ordered her off the trail, she had followed Assail out to an estate, to what had appeared to be a caretaker’s cottage. He hadn’t gone there for a business transaction. No, it was for a dark-­haired woman with a body and a half, and he’d taken her down onto a sofa like he’d done it before. Just as he’d started to have sex with her, he had looked directly at the window Sola had been watching him through—­as if he were putting on the show for her.

At that point, she had decided to pull out of the surveilling and had resolved never to see him again.

Fate had had different ideas, however. And had turned her silver-­eyed drug dealer into a savior.

The sad thing was, under different circumstances, she might have stayed with him in that glass house of his. But in the end, her little deal with God had superseded that kind of fantasy.

Getting to her feet, she lingered at the rail for a while longer, wondering exactly what she hoped she would find in the view. Then she turned away, shut herself back in the condo, and kicked off her flip-­flops. On silent, bare feet, she whispered through the living room area and went into the kitchen. Her grandmother’s standards were such that not only could you eat off the floor, you could toss a salad in any of the drawers, roll your bread dough out inside the cupboards, and use the shelving to cut your steak on.

The tool kit was under the sink, and she got out a full-­sized hammer.

The iPhone went into a double Ziploc bag–­setup on her way to the door and she disengaged the alarm before exiting into the corridor. The fire stairwell was down on the right, and as she strode over to it, she listened out of habit, but not necessity. The people in the building were elderly, and what little she saw of them confirmed she had chosen the right unit. This was the land of snowbirds who didn’t have the money to fly up and back for the spring and summer, so the building never emptied out.

There would always be nosy witnesses, even if those eyes and ears were not quite as sharp as they had once been. And her fellow residents represented a complication that people coming after her would think twice about.

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The Thief 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 149 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This isn't the best BDB book, but it was good. We're getting closer to full blown wartime and they now have two enemies to rid themselves of in order for the race to live in any type of peace. I'm assuming Brother Murhder will be brought back into the fold. Can't wait for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are many, many things to like about JR Ward's writing. The trait I enjoyed so much in this book was she allowed the reader to check in with all our favorite characters. Often in a long lived series the reader forgets the intricacies of the various couple's lives. Ward gives you the opportunity to visit with past stories that were so special and take a peek into what's been going on. I enjoyed this addition to the series and like always I'm already looking forward to the next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really loved this one. We got to dive back in with all the Brothers and felt a part o f their world. It was wonderful to bring everyone into the book. I read it in 2 days. Loved it. Get it. It s a great book. .like the first one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual the book is awesome. I read it in two days, absolutely love this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent addition to the BDB Library!! I think this may be her best yet...but..I seem to think that about each of her books! The writing is just perfect and LOL funny at times! Can't wait to see who's story she'll write next! Please keep writing Ms Ward and I'll keep reading!! Thank you <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am always so excited to read the current book, however I try to make it last as long as I can.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite author has yet again given me a great story to immerse myself into. Every free moment of the last couple of days was spent just wanting to know what was going to happen next! This book feels like a new beginning in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. New bad guys (and gals) have emerged and our heroes are ever diligent in their job to keep their race and their loved ones guarded and safe. As always, these superior males are worthy and will prove to be a huge challenge to their adversaries. And how wonderful, after a wait that felt like forever, to at last get Assail and Marisol&rsquo;s story. Love them! What I am really enjoying, through these last handful of books in this series, is the multiple romantic story lines, especially those that bring back these wonderful characters from the very beginning of the series and revisiting their relationships. Love is without a doubt the greatest force, power and privilege.
Anonymous 18 days ago
So+glad+to+see+Assail+and+Sola%27s+story+.+I+also+love+seeing+more+into+the+original++characters++lives.+It+gives+the+series+more+like+and+makes+it+richer.+can%27t++wait++for++the+next+one.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I have read all of J.R. Ward's books in the BlackDagger brotherhood series and the Fallen Angeles series. I love her writing style, her quick whit, and gender equality. Not to mention some of the hottest gay sex I've ever read!! I just love this series so much i read it over and over from start to finish at least once a year. It's that good!!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Never a disappointment with the warden... keep writing and I will keep reading guaranteed...
Anonymous 6 months ago
Outstanding readj
Anonymous 7 months ago
I love this series and how it keeps building and returning to past characters. More twists and drama in this one! Can't wait for the next!
Anonymous 8 months ago
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Anonymous 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this book, as always a great read! I read it in one day! Could not stop!
Anonymous 8 months ago
Books in a series, with off-shoots of stories about secondary characters, sometimes fall short of expectations. Thief not only met expectations, but surpassed them. Thief circled back to finish the story of Assail and Sola, with Vishous and Jane continuing their journey. One story did not overwhelm or take away from the other, with the two couples being artfully entwined. There was just enough of the Brotherhood life to keep those of us placated, like me, who want to know how the rest are doing and want to continue to see the daily interactions of the Brotherhood, but not so much as to overwhelm the main story. Ribboned throughout, there are more delicious tidbits of stories brewing with Mhurder, Throe, Jo, and V's visions while in the Sanctuary. I look forward to reading about them all and, of course, to satisfy my craving to know more about the lives of the BDB!
Anonymous 8 months ago
Can't wait for the next one.
Anonymous 9 months ago
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Anonymous 9 months ago
Still captivated by the bdb
Anonymous 9 months ago
Amazing read! Cannot wait for the next one!
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous 9 months ago
I find myself anxiously waiting for the next book. Hoping there will always be a next one. Wishing that the next several months would pass so that I can get more of this family, this story. I have to start at the beginning and re-read all the books to help the time to pass. Such a wonderful mind to create such an intricate story. Thank you J.R. Ward.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Can't wait for the next one.
Anonymous 10 months ago
The Brotherhood series is one of my favorites and this book is another great wxample of why. Always entertaining with real world issues that keep it real enough to actually be believable
Anonymous 11 months ago
I own every book of the black dagger brotherhood series 3 times two of each book in hard copy and then again digitally. This book was too short but absolutely amazing as is all of them. Im sad im all caught up but ik there HAS to be more!