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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(135) by Anne Bishop
  • No, she thought, fighting the panic, this was a dream. A bad dream. She couldn't be . . . buried. Couldn't be.

    Shutting her eyes to keep the dirt out, she blindly explored.

    It was a neatly cut rectangle. A well-made grave. If it was a grave, the earth above would be loose. Whoever did this would have had to dig down to put her there.

    Half sobbing, half gasping, Alexandra clawed at the dirt above her face. When her hand hit tree roots, she stopped, stunned.

    That wasn't right. Someone would have had to dig around the roots.

    Scooting down a little, she began clawing at the dirt again. It was packed solid, frozen.

    Think.Think. A witch could pass through solid objects. It was dangerous, yes, but she could do it if she didn't panic.

    Alexandra forced herself to breathe slowly and steadily as she concentrated. Raising one hand, she slowly passed it through the dirt, moving upward, upward, slowly, slowly. She raised her other hand.

    Her hands were moving through the dirt, moving upward to freedom.

    Alexandra let out a small laugh of relief.

    Then her hands hit something more solid than the earth.

    Her fingers poked, prodded. She felt nothing, and yetsomething was there.

    Concentrating her energy on making the pass, she pushed against that nothingness while her Opal Jewel glowed with her effort, drawing on her reserves, focusing her strength. She sent the force of the Jewel into her hands and pushed.

    A dark, crackling, overwhelming energy snaked down her fingers into her arms. Alexandra shot backward, hitting her head against a dirt wall.

    Her strength was gone. The Jewel hung around her neck, dark and empty. If she'd pushed against that energy another moment longer, her Jewel would have broken, and her mind would probably have shattered with it.

    "No," Alexandra moaned. She beat her hands against the floor of her dirt coffin. "No." She felt dizzy. The air. There was no more air. Gathering her legs beneath her as best she could, Alexandra sprang upward, trying to break free of the earth.

    "NO!"

    Alexandra's chin hit the end of her bed. She lay on her stomach, gasping, shivering. A dream. It was, after all, a dream.

    A soft, icy laugh filled her mind. "Not a dream, my dear." Daemon's voice rolled through her mind, sentient thunder. "A taste. I'm avery good,very discreet gravedigger. I've had centuries of practice. Just remember, Alexandra. If Jaenelle isn't back, unharmed, by tomorrow afternoon, you will feed the worms."

    He was gone.

    Alexandra rolled onto her back. It was a trick, a dream. Hecouldn't have.

    She raised a shaking hand, closing her eyes against the weak glow of the candlelight.

    A dream. An evil dream.

    Alexandra pushed herself up on one elbow—and stared at her hands.

    Her nails were broken, her hands laced with scratches. Her nightgown was torn and dirt-smeared. A sudden, wet warmth flooded down her legs. She stared at the spreading dampness for a full minute before she understood she had wet herself.

    It was almost an hour before she dragged herself off the bed, washed herself, and dressed in a clean nightgown. Then she huddled in a chair with a quilt wrapped around her, staring out the window, desperately waiting for the dawn.

    2—Terreille

    Kartane inserted a key into a small, inset door hidden by a row of shrubs. The parents who came to Briarwood during visiting hours didn't know about that entrance—unless a parent was also a select member. They didn't know about these softly lit corridors, thickly carpeted to muffle sounds. They didn't know about the gaming room or the sitting room or the little soundproofed cubicles that were just big enough to hold a chair, a bed, and other amusing necessities. They didn't know about the tears and screams and pain. They didn't know about the special "medicines."

    They didn't know about many things.

    Kartane strolled through the corridors to the "playpen," hungry for some amusement. He was furious with Sadi and that little bitch for spoiling the game tonight. It was hard enough to bring girls in. Oh, they could buy lower-class Blood—the right kind of drink during the right kind of game and a pretty girl became a marker on the card table. But it was the aristos, the girls gently brought up with delicate sensibilities that were the most fun—and the hardest to procure. It usually took enticing the father in order to get the child . . . except during Winsol, when a littlesafframate could be slipped into the sparkling wine. Then the girl could be broken and cleaned up before being brought back to her naive parents. The day after, when the hysteria started, Dr. Carvay would just happen to call and explain to the distraught parents about this prepubescent hysteria that was claiming a number of aristo girls of the Blood. The girl would be tenderly led away for a stay at Briarwood, and in a month or two—or a year or two—she would be returned to the bosom of her family, and eventually married off to spend the rest of her life with that slightly glazed look in her eyes, never understanding her husband's disappointment in her, never remembering what a fine little playmate she'd once been.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire