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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(113) by Anne Bishop
  • Then Cook stumbled and moaned, her eyes fixed on the doorway.

    "What's the meaning of this?" Graff said nastily as she stepped into the room. She nailed Cook with an icy stare. "You were entrusted to look after the girls for a few short hours, and here I return to find you engaged in questionable entertainment." Her eyes snapped to Daemon's arm, which was still around Cook's waist. She sniffed, maliciously pleased. "Perhaps, when this is reported, Lady Angelline will find someone with culinary talent."

    "Nothing happened, Graff."

    Daemon shivered at the chilling fury in Jaenelle's too calm voice.

    Graff turned. "Well, we'll just see, missy."

    "Graff." It was a thunderous, malevolent whisper.

    Daemon shook. Every instinct for self-preservation screamed at him to call in the Black and shield himself.

    There had been a strange swirling when Graff first appeared that had made him think he was being pulled into a spiral. He'd never felt anything like that before and hadn't realized that Jaenelle was gliding down into the abyss. Now something rose from far below him, something very angry and so very, very cold.

    Graff turned slowly, her eyes staring wide and empty.

    "Nothing happened, Graff," Jaenelle said in that cold whisper that shrieked through Daemon's nerves. "Wilhelmina and I were in the music room practicing some dance steps. Cook had brought some sandwiches for us and was just leaving when you arrived. You didn't see the Prince because he was in his room. Do you understand?"

    Graff's eyebrows drew together. "No, I—"

    "Look down, Graff. Look down. Do you see it?"

    Graff whimpered.

    "If you don't remember what I've told you, that's what you'll see . . . forever. Do you understand?"

    "Understand," Graff whispered as spittle dribbled down her chin.

    "You're dismissed, Graff. Go to your room."

    When they heard a door close farther down the corridor, Daemon led Cook to a chair and eased her into it. Jaenelle said nothing more, but there was pain and sadness in her eyes as she looked at them before going to her room. Wilhelmina had wet herself. Daemon cleaned her up, cleaned up the floor, took the tray of sandwiches back to the kitchen, and dosed Cook with a liberal glass of brandy.

    "She's a strange child," Cook said carefully after her second glass of brandy, "but there's more good than harm in her."

    Daemon gave her calm, expected responses, allowing her to find her own way to justify what she'd felt in that room. Wilhelmina, too, although embarrassed that he'd witnessed her accident, had altered the confrontation into something she could accept. Only he, as he sat in his room staring at nothing, was unwilling to let go of the fear and the awe. Only he appreciated the terrible beauty of being able to touch without restraint. Only he felt knife-sharp desire.

    2—Terreille

    Daemon sat on the edge of his bed, a pained, gentle smile tugging his lips. Even with preservation spells, the picture's colors were beginning to fade, and it was worn around the edges. Still, nothing could fade the hint of a brash smile and the ready-for-trouble gleam in Lucivar's eyes. It was the only picture Daemon had of him, taken centuries ago when Lucivar still had an aura of youthful hope, before the years and court after court had turned a handsome, youthful face into one so like the Askavi mountains he loved—beautifully brutal, holding a trace of shadow even in the brightest sunlight.

    There was a shy tap on his door before Jaenelle slipped into the room. "Hello," she said, uncertain of her welcome.

    Daemon slipped an arm around her waist when she got close enough, Jaenelle rested both hands on his shoulder and leaned into him. The skin beneath her eyes looked bruised, and she trembled a little.

    Daemon frowned. "Are you cold?" When she shook her head, he pulled her closer. There wasn't any kind of outside heat that could thaw what chilled her, but after he'd been holding her for a while, the trembling stopped.

    He wondered if she'd told Saetan about the music room incident. He looked at her again and knew the answer. She hadn't told the Priest. She hadn't gone roaming for three days. She'd been locked in her cold misery, alone, wondering if there was any living thing that wouldn't fear her. He had come to the Black as a young man, but mature and ready, and even then living that far into the Darkness had been unsettling. For a child who had never known anything else, who had been traveling strange, lonely roads since her first conscious thought, who tried so hard to reach toward other people while suppressing what she was . . . But she couldn't suppress it. She would always shatter the illusion when challenged, would always reveal what lay beneath.

    Daemon intently studied the face that, in turn, studied the picture he still held. He sucked in his breath when he finally understood. He wore the Black; Jaenellewas the Black. But with her, the Black was not only dark, savage power, it was laughter and mischief and compassion and healing . . . and snowballs.

    Daemon kissed her hair and looked at the picture. "You would have gotten along well with him. He was always ready to get into trouble." He was rewarded with a ghost of a smile.

    She studied the picture. "Now he looks more like what he is." Her eyes narrowed, and then she shot an accusing look at him. "Wait a minute. You said he was your brother."

    "He was." Is. Would always be.

    "But he's Eyrien."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire