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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(103) by Anne Bishop
  • They were on their way out the door when he suddenly felt something in his jacket pocket. Slipping his fingers inside, he felt the edge of the envelope, and his throat tightened.

    He spent the whole evening surreptitiously touching the envelope, wanting to find an excuse to be alone for a minute so he could pull it out. Years of self-control and discipline asserted themselves, and it wasn't until he left Alexandra drifting into a satisfied sleep and was in his own room that he allowed himself to look at it.

    He stared at the black wax. The Priest had read it, then. He licked his lips, took a deep breath, and broke the seal.

    The writing was strong, neat, and masculine with an archaic flourish. He read the reply, read it again . . . and began to laugh.

    Daemon had written: "What do you do when she asks a question no man would give a child an answer to?"

    Saetan had replied: "Hope you're obliging enough to answer it for me. However, if you're backed into a corner, refer her to me. I've become accustomed to being shocked."

    Daemon grinned, shook his head, and hid the note among his private papers. That night, and for several nights after, he fell asleep smiling.

    2—Terreille

    Frowning, Daemon stood beneath the maple tree in the alcove. He had seen Jaenelle come in here a few minutes ago, could sense that she was very nearby, but he couldn't find her. Where . . .

    A branch shook above his head. Daemon looked up and swallowed hard to keep his heart from leaping past his teeth. He swallowed again—hard—to keep down the tongue-lashing that was blistering his throat in its effort to escape. All that swallowing made his head hurt. As his nostrils flared in an effort to breathe and his breath puffed white in the cold air, Jaenelle let out her silvery velvet-coated laugh.

    "Dragons can do that even if it isn't cold," she said gaily as she looked down at him from the lowest branch, a good eight feet above his head. She squatted on the branch with her arms around her knees and no discernible way to save herself if she overbalanced.

    Daemon wasn't interested in dragons, and his heart was no longer trying to leap out—it was trying to crawl into his stomach and hide.

    "Would you mind coming down from there, Lady?" he said, astounded that his voice sounded so casual. "Heights make me a bit queasy."

    "Really?" Jaenelle's eyebrows lifted in surprise. She shrugged, stood up, and leaped.

    Daemon jumped forward to catch her, pulled himself back in time, and was rewarded by having a muscle in his back spasm in protest. He watched, wide-eyed, as she drifted down as gracefully as the leaves dancing around her, finally settling on the grass a few feet from him.

    Daemon straightened up, winced as the muscle spasmed again, and looked at the tree.Stay calm. If you yell at her, she won't answer any questions.

    He took a deep breath, puffed it out. "How did you get up there?"

    She gave him an unsure-but-game smile. "The same way I got down."

    Daemon sighed and sat down on the iron bench that circled the tree. "Mother Night," he muttered as he leaned his head against the tree and closed his eyes.

    There was a long silence. He knew she was watching him, fluffing her hair as she tried to puzzle out his seemingly strange behavior.

    "Don't you know how to stand on air, Prince?" Jaenelle asked hesitantly, as though she was trying not to offend him.

    Daemon opened his eyes a crack. He could see his knees—and her feet. He sat up slowly and studied the feet planted firmly on nothing. "It would seem I missed that lesson," he said dryly. "Could you show me?"

    Jaenelle hesitated, suddenly turning shy.

    "Please?" He hated the wistfulness in his voice. He hated feeling so vulnerable. She'd begun to make some excuse, but that note in his voice stopped her, made her look at him closely. He had no idea what she saw in his face. He only knew he felt raw and naked and helpless under the steady gaze of those sapphire eyes.

    Jaenelle smiled shyly. "I could try." She hesitated. "I've never tried to teach a grown-up before."

    "Grown-ups are just like children, only bigger," Daemon said brightly, snapping to his feet.

    She sighed, her expression one of harried amusement. "Up here," she said as she stood on the iron bench.

    Daemon stepped up beside her.

    "Can you feel the bench under your feet?"

    Indeed he could. It was a cold day that promised snow by morning, and he could feel the cold from the iron bench seeping up through his shoes. "Yes."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire