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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 139)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(139) by Anne Bishop
  • There was no reason for him to stay among the living without Jaenelle, but if he did go to the Dark Realm, he promised himself he wouldn't be the only new subject kneeling before the High Lord.

    Daemon stripped off his clothes, showered, dressed in riding clothes, and quietly slipped down to the kitchen. He put a kettle on for coffee and made breakfast. When Jaenelle returned, they would have to leave quickly, not giving Philip or Alexandra any additional time to present obstacles. There would be no time for good-byes. He'd seldom had time for good-byes. Besides, there hadn't been that many people in his life who'd regretted seeing him go. But there was one here who deserved to know the Lady would be gone forever.

    By the time he'd washed his breakfast dishes and was drinking his second cup of coffee, Cook stumbled into the kitchen, sinking heavily into one of the kitchen chairs. She looked at him sadly as Daemon set a cup of coffee in front of her.

    "She's back in that hospital, isn't she?" Cook dabbed at her eyes.

    Daemon sat beside her. "Yes," he said quietly. He held her hands and rubbed gently. "But not for long. She'll be out this afternoon."

    "Do you think so?" She gave him a grateful, trembling smile. "In that case, I can—"

    "No." Daemon squeezed her hands. "She'll be out of Briarwood, but she won't be coming back."

    Cook withdrew her hands. Her lips quivered. "You're taking her away, aren't you?"

    Daemon tried to be gentle. "There's a place she can live where she'll be cared for and she'll be safe."

    "She's cared for here," Cook protested sharply.

    It hurt to watch her eyes fill with tears. "But not safe. If this continues, she'll break under the strain or die." He wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I promise you, she'll be in a safe place, and no one will ever lock her away again."

    Cook dabbed her eyes with her apron. "They're good people, these folk you found for her? They won't be . . . critical . . . of her odd ways?"

    "They don't think her ways are odd." Daemon sipped his coffee. This, too, was a gamble. "However, I would appreciate your not mentioning any of this until we're gone. There are some here who want to harm her, who would use whatever means they could to stop us if they realized I'm going to take her out of their reach."

    Cook thought about this, nodded, sniffed, and rose briskly from the table. "You'll be needing some breakfast, then."

    "I've eaten, thanks." Daemon set his cup on the counter. Putting his hands on her shoulders, he turned her around, and kissed her lightly on the mouth. "You're a sweetheart," he said huskily. Then he was out the back door, heading for the stables.

    Even this early in the morning, the stables were in an uproar. The stable lads scowled at him as he entered. Guinness stood in the center of the square, a bottle tucked in the crook of his arm, snarling orders and swearing under his breath. When he saw Daemon, his heavy eyebrows formed a fierce line over bleary eyes.

    "And what would the high and mighty want at this hour of the morning?" Guinness snapped. He put the bottle to his lips and took a long swallow.

    They knew, Daemon thought as he took the bottle from Guinness and helped himself. Whatever it was Jaenelle brought to this place was already fading, and they knew. Handing the bottle back to Guinness, he said quietly, "Saddle Dark Dancer."

    "Have ya been kicked in the head recently?" Guinness shouted, glaring at Daemon. "That one kicked down half his stall last night and tried to turn Andrew into pulp. You won't get a brisk morning gallop out of him if that's what you're thinking."

    Daemon looked over his shoulder. Andrew leaned against the door of Dark Dancer's stall, favoring one leg. "I'll saddle him." Daemon brushed past the stable lads, ignoring Guinness's dark muttering.

    When Daemon pulled the latch to open the top half of the door, Andrew thrust out a shaking hand to stop him. "He wants to kill something," Andrew whispered.

    Daemon looked at the sunken eyes in the pale, frightened face. "So do I." He opened the door.

    The stallion lunged toward the opening.

    "Hush, Brother, hush," Daemon said softly. "We must talk, you and I." Daemon opened the bottom half of the door. The horse trembled. Daemon ran his hand along Dancer's neck, regretting having washed Jaenelle's scent from his skin when the horse turned its head toward him, looking for reassurance. Daemon kept his movements slow. When Dancer was saddled, Daemon led him into the square and mounted.

    They went to the tree.

    Daemon dismounted and leaned against the tree, staring in the direction of the house. The stallion jiggled the bit, reminding him he wasn't alone.

    "I wanted to say good-bye," Daemon said quietly. For the first time, he truly saw the intelligence—and loneliness—in the horse's eyes. After that, he couldn't keep his voice from breaking as he tried to explain why Jaenelle was never going to come to the tree again, why there would be no more rides, no more caresses, no more talks. For a moment, something rippled in his mind. He had the odd sensation he was the one being talked to, explained to, and his words, echoing back, lacerated his heart. To be alone again. To never again see those arms held out in welcome. To never hear that voice say his name. To . . .

    Daemon gasped as Dark Dancer jerked the reins free and raced down the path toward the field. Tears of grief pricked Daemon's eyes. The horse might have a simpler mind, but the heart was just as big.

    Daemon walked to the field, staring at its emptiness for a long moment before slowly making his way to the wide ditch at the far end.

    Would it have been better not to have told him? To have left him waiting through the lonely days and weeks and months that would have followed? Or worse, to have promised to come back for him and not have been able to keep that promise?

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire