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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(137) by Anne Bishop
  • "Her blood is the only blood that can pay that debt. But your debt is greater. You owe so many. In the end, you'll pay them all."

    "What are you?" Kartane screamed.

    Jaenelle stared at him for a long moment. "What I am," she said quietly in a voice that sang of the Darkness.

    The locked door slid open.

    Kartane bolted into the corridor.

    The door slid shut.

    Kartane leaned against the wall, shaking. Evil little bitch. Sadi's little whore. Whatever she was, if she joined with the Sadist . . .

    Kartane straightened his clothes and smiled.He wouldn't soil himself with teaching that little bitch her rightful place.

    But Greer. Greer had found his visit to Briarwood most gratifying, and he had asked Kartane if he'd noticed any unusual girls. This one should be unusual enough for his taste.

    3—Terreille

    Surreal knelt beside a tree at the back edge of Briarwood's snow-covered lawn. She had watched Kartane disappear behind some bushes and not come out, so she felt sure there must be a private entrance there.

    Surreal frowned. The wide expanse of lawn offered no cover, and if someone came around the building instead of through that door, she might be discovered too soon. To the right of the lawn were the remains of a very large vegetable garden, but that, too, offered no cover. She could use a sight shield, but she wasn't that adept at creating one and holding it while moving. Surreal shivered, pulling her coat tighter around her as the night wind gusted for a moment.

    Something gently brushed her shoulder.

    Twisting around, she probed the shrub garden behind her. Finding nothing, she glanced at the tree before focusing her attention once more on the hidden door.

    The tree had a perfect branch. With all these girls locked away here, the uncles could at least put up a swing.

    The wind died. In the still night air, Surreal heard the click of a door being closed, and tensed. There was enough moonlight to see Kartane leaning against the side of the building for a moment before hurrying away.

    More than anything, she wanted to pursue him, find him in some shadowy corner, and watch the blood pump from his throat. Sadi was being unreasonable. He . . .

    The air crackled. The lawn and building looked gauzy. Surreal felt a queer kind of spinning.

    Something brushed her shoulder.

    Surreal glanced up, stared, then clamped her hand over her mouth.

    The girl swinging from the noose tied to the tree's perfect branch stared back from empty sockets. She and the rope were transparent, ghostly, yet Surreal didn't doubt she was there, didn't doubt the dark bloodstains that ran down the girl's cheeks, didn't doubt the dark stains on the dress.

    "Hello, Surreal," said a whispery midnight voice. "That's Marjane. She told an uncle once she couldn't stand the sight of him, so they smeared honey on her eyes and hung her there. She wasn't supposed to die, but she struggled so much when the crows came and pecked out her eyes, the knot slipped and the noose killed her."

    "Can't . . . can't you get her down?" Surreal whispered, still not willing to turn around and face whatever was behind her.

    "Oh, her body's been gone years and years. Marjane's just a ghost now. Even so, when I'm here, she still has some strength. Girls are safe around this tree. Uncles don't like being kicked."

    Surreal turned and stifled a scream.

    "Hush," Jaenelle said with a savagely sweet smile. She was as transparent as Marjane, and the lacy nighty she wore didn't move when the wind gusted. Only the sapphire eyes seemed alive.

    Surreal looked away. She felt drawn by those eyes, and she knew instinctively that anything drawn into those eyes now would never come back.

    "The debt's not yours to pay, Surreal," Jaenelle said in her midnight whisper. "He doesn't owe his blood to you."

    "But the ones he owes can't call in the debt!" Surreal hissed, keeping her voice low.

    Jaenelle laughed. It was like hearing the winter wind laugh. "You think not? There is dead and there is dead, Surreal."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire