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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(120) by Anne Bishop
  • "It's fitting, don't you think, that I should drink alone?" she said in a midnight whisper. Her eyes were full of awful pain. "After all, I am kindred but not kind."

    You're my Queen,he thought fiercely. His body ached.

    She was his Queen. But with her family surrounding them, watching, there was nothing he could say or do to help her.

    During the next hour, Jaenelle played her expected role of the slightly befuddled child, fawning over gifts so at odds with what she was that it made Daemon want to paint the walls in blood. No one else noticed she was fighting harder and harder to draw breath with each gift she unwrapped until it seemed the bright paper and bows were fists pounding her small body. When he opened her gift of handkerchiefs, she flinched and went deathly pale. With a gasp, she leaped to her feet and ran from the room while Alexandra and Leland sternly called for her to come back.

    Not caring what they thought, Daemon left the room, cold fury rolling off him, and went to the library. Jaenelle was there, gasping for breath, feebly trying to open a window. Daemon locked the door, strode across the room, viciously twisted the lock on the sash, and snapped the window open with wall-shaking force.

    Jaenelle leaned over the narrow window seat, gulping in the winter air. "It hurts so much to live here, Daemon," she whimpered as he cradled her in his arms. "Sometimes it hurts so much."

    "Shh." He stroked her hair. "Shh."

    As soon as her breathing slowed to normal, Daemon closed and locked the window. He leaned against the wall, one leg stretched out along the window seat, and drew her forward until she was pressed against him. Then he hooked his other foot under his leg, effectively capturing her in a tight triangle.

    It was insane to have her pushed up against him that way. Insane to take such pleasure in her hands resting on his thighs. Insane not to stop the slow uncurling of those psychic tendrils of seduction.

    "I'm sorry I couldn't share the cup with you."

    "It doesn't matter," Jaenelle whispered.

    "It does to me," he replied sharply, his deep, silky voice having more of a husky edge than usual.

    Jaenelle's eyes were getting confused and smoky. He pulled the tendrils back a little.

    "Daemon," Jaenelle said hesitantly. "Your gift . . ."

    There was a rumbling in Daemon's throat—his bedroom laugh, except there was fire in it instead of ice, and his eyes were molten gold. "That was no more your choice than the paint set was truly mine." He raised one eyebrow. "I had considered getting you a saddle that would fit both you and Dark Dancer—"

    Jaenelle's eyes widened and she laughed.

    "—but that wouldn't have been practical." One long-nailed finger idly stroked her arm. He knew he should walk away from this—now—when he had amused her, but her pain had twisted something inside him, and he wasn't going to let her believe she was alone here. It made him wonder about something else. "Jaenelle," he said cautiously as he watched his finger, "did the Priest . . ." If Saetan hadn't given her a Winsol gift, would his asking hurt her more?

    "Oh, Daemon, it's so wonderful. I can't wear it here, of course."

    He started to untwist. "Wear what?"

    "My dress." She squirmed in his tight triangle and almost sent him through the wall. "It's floor-length and it's made of spidersilk and it's black, Daemon,black. "

    Daemon concentrated on breathing. When he was sure his heart remembered its proper rhythm, he reached into his inner jacket pocket and took out a small square box. "Then this, I think, would be a proper accessory."

    "What is it?" Jaenelle asked, hesitantly taking the box.

    "Your Winsol gift. Yourreal Winsol gift."

    Smiling shyly, Jaenelle unwrapped the box, opened it, and gasped.

    Daemon's throat tightened. It was an inappropriate gift for a man like him to give a young girl, but he didn't care about that, didn't care about anything except whether or not it pleased her.

    "Oh, Daemon," Jaenelle whispered. She took the hammered silver cuff bracelet from the box and placed it on her left wrist. "It will be perfect with my dress." She reached up to hug him and froze.

    He watched her emotions swirl in her eyes, too fast for him to identify. Instead of hugging him, she lowered her hands to his shoulders, leaned forward, and kissed him lightly on the mouth, a girl child testing the waters of womanhood. His hands closed on her arms with just enough pressure to keep her close to him. When she pulled back, he saw in her eyes a whisper of the woman she would become.

    Seeing that, he couldn't let it finish there.

    Gently cupping her face in his hands, Daemon leaned forward and returned her kiss. His kiss was as light and close-lipped as hers had been, but it wasn't innocent and it wasn't chaste. When he finally raised his head, he knew he was playing a dangerous game.

    Jaenelle swayed, bracing her hands on his thighs for support. She licked her lips and looked at him with slightly glazed eyes. "Do . . . do all boys kiss like that?"

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire