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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(10) by Anne Bishop
  • What had the one to do with the other? Nothing.Nothing! He would be there, a protector, a shield. Hewould!

    But where?

    Daemon forced himself to breathe evenly. That was the question. Where.

    Certainly not in Maris's court.

    It was late morning before he returned to the house, aching and dirty. His wrist throbbed and his head pounded mercilessly. He had just reached the terrace when Maris's daughter, Marissa, flounced out of the garden room and planted herself in front of him, hands on her hips, her expression a mixture of irritation and hunger.

    "You were supposed to come to my room last night and you didn't. Where have you been? You're filthy." She rolled her shoulder, looking at him from beneath her lashes. "You've been naughty. You'll have to come up to my room and explain."

    Daemon pushed past her. "I'm tired. I'm going to bed."

    "You'll do as I say!" Marissa thrust her hand between his legs.

    Daemon's hand tightened on Marissa's wrist so fast and so hard that she was on her knees whimpering in pain before she realized what happened. He continued squeezing her wrist until the bones threatened to shatter. Daemon smiled at her then, that cold, familiar, brutal smile.

    "I'm not 'naughty.' Little boys are naughty." He pushed her away from him, stepping over her where she lay sprawled on the flagstones. "And if you ever touch me like that again, I'll rip your hand off."

    He walked through the corridors to his room, aware that the servants skittered away from him, that an aftertaste of violence hung in the air around him.

    He didn't care. He went to his room, stripped off his clothes, laid down on his bed, and stared at the ceiling, terrified to close his eyes because every time he did he saw a shattered crystal chalice.

    Three words.She has come.

    3—Hell

    Once, he'd been the Seducer, the Executioner, the High Priest of the Hourglass, the Prince of the Darkness, the High Lord of Hell.

    Once, he'd been Consort to Cassandra, the great Black-Jeweled, Black Widow Queen, the last Witch to walk the Realms.

    Once, he'd been the only Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince in the history of the Blood, feared for his temper and the power he wielded.

    Once, he'd been the only male who was a Black Widow.

    Once, he'd ruled the Dhemlan Territory in the Realm of Terreille and her sister Territory in Kaeleer, the Shadow Realm. He'd been the only male ever to rule without answering to a Queen and, except for Witch, the only member of the Blood to rule Territories in two Realms.

    Once, he'd been married to Hekatah, an aristo Black Widow Priestess from one of Hayll's Hundred Families.

    Once, he'd raised two sons, Mephis and Peyton. He'd played games with them, told them stories, read to them, healed their skinned knees and broken hearts, taught them Craft and Blood Law, showered them with his love of the land as well as music, art, and literature, encouraged them to look with eager eyes upon all that the Realms had to offer—not to conquer but to learn. He'd taught them to dance for a social occasion and to dance for the glory of Witch. He'd taught them how to be Blood.

    But that was a long, long time ago.

    Saetan, the High Lord of Hell, sat quietly by the fire, a hearth rug wrapped around his legs, turning the pages of a book he had no interest in reading. He sipped a glass of yarbarah, the blood wine, taking no pleasure in its taste or warmth.

    For the past decade, he'd been a quiet invalid who never left his private study deep beneath the Hall. For more than 50,000 years before that, he'd been the ruler and caretaker of the Dark Realm, the undisputed High Lord.

    He no longer cared about Hell. He no longer cared about the demon-dead family and friends who were still with him, or the other demon-dead and ghostly citizens of this Realm, the Blood who were still too strong to return to the Darkness even after their bodies had died.

    He was tired and old, and the loneliness he'd carried inside him all his life had become too heavy to bear. He no longer wanted to be a Guardian, one of the living dead. He no longer wanted the half-life a handful of the Blood had chosen in order to extend their lifetimes into years beyond imagining. He wanted peace, wanted to quietly fade back into the Darkness.

    The only thing that kept him from actively seeking that release was his promise to Cassandra.

    Saetan steepled his long, black-tinted nails and rested his golden eyes on the portrait hanging on the far wall between two bookcases.

    She'd made him promise to become a Guardian so that the extended half-life would allow him to walk among the living when his daughter was born. Not the daughter of his loins, but the daughter of his soul. The daughter she'd seen in a tangled web.

    He'd promised because what she'd said had made his nerves twang like tether lines in a storm, because that was her price for training him to be a Black Widow, because, even then, the Darkness sang to him in a way it didn't sing to other Blood males.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire