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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(21) by Anne Bishop
  • "Kaeleer!"Saetan tried to jump up. His leg buckled immediately. "How in the name of Hell did she get into the Shadow Realm?"

    "Probably the same way she got into the Dark Realm." Geoffrey opened the second register and hesitated. "Saetan, you will train her well, won't you?" He didn't wait for an answer. "Gabrielle. A queen who wears birthright opal. Seven years old. Strong possibility she's a natural Black Widow. Lives in the Realm of Kaeleer in the Territory of the Dea al Mon."

    Saetan pillowed his head in his arms and moaned. The Children of the Wood. She'd seen the Children of the Wood, the fiercest, most private race ever spawned in Kaeleer. "It's not possible," he said, bracing his arms on the table. "You've made a mistake."

    "I've made no mistake, Saetan."

    "She lives in Terreille, not Kaeleer. You've made a mistake."

    "I've made no mistake."

    Ice whispered down his spine, freezing nerves, turning into a cold dagger in his belly. "It's not possible," Saetan said, spacing out the words. "The Dea al Mon have never allowed anyone into their Territory."

    "It appears they've made an exception."

    Saetan shook his head. "It's not possible."

    "Neither is finding Lorn," Geoffrey replied sharply. "Neither is walking with impunity through the length and breadth of Hell. Yes, we know about that. The last time she visited here, Char came with her."

    "The little bastard," Saetan muttered.

    "You asked me to find Morghann and Gabrielle. I found them. Now what are you going to do?"

    Saetan stared at the high ceiling. "What would you have me do, Geoffrey? Shall we take her away from her home? Confine her in the Keep until she comes of age?" He let out a strained laugh. "As if we could. The only way to confine her would be to convince her she couldn't get out, to brutalize her instincts until she wasn't sure of anything anymore. Do you want to be the bastard responsible for that emotional butchering? Because I won't do it. By the Darkness, Geoffrey, the living myth has come, and this is the price required to have her walk among us."

    Geoffrey carefully closed the registers. "You're right, of course, but . . . is there nothing you can do?"

    Saetan closed his eyes. "I will teach her. I will serve her. I will love her. That will have to be enough."

    3—Terreille

    Surreal swung through the front door of Deje's Red Moon house in Beldon Mor, flashed a smile at the brawny red-coated doorman, and continued through the plant-strewn, marble-floored entryway until she reached the reception desk. Once there, she smacked the little brass bell on the desk enough times to annoy the most docile temper.

    A door marked "Private" snapped open, and a voluptuous middle-aged woman hurried out. When she saw Surreal, her scowl vanished and her eyes widened with delighted surprise.

    "So, you've come again at last." Deje reached under the desk, pulled out a thick stack of small papers, and waved them at Surreal. "Requests. All willing to pay your asking price—and everyone knows what a thief you are—and all wanting a full night."

    Without taking them, Surreal riffled the stack with her fingertip. "If I accommodated them all, I could end up being here for months."

    Deje tilted her head. "Would that be so bad?"

    Surreal grinned, but there was something sharp and predatory in her gold-green eyes. "I'd never get my asking price if my"—she twiddled her fingers at the papers—"friends thought I'd always be around. That would cut into your profit margin, too."

    "Too true," Deje said, laughing.

    "Besides," Surreal continued, hooking her black hair behind her delicately pointed ears, "I'll only be here for a few weeks, and I'm not looking for a heavy schedule. I'll work enough days to pay for room and board and spend the rest of the time sightseeing."

    "How many ceilings do you want to see? That's all you'll look at in this business."

    "Why, Deje!" Surreal fanned herself. "That's not at all true. Sometimes I get to see the patterns in the silk sheets."

    "You could always take up horseback riding." Deje stuffed the papers under the desk. "I hear there are some pretty trails just outside the city proper."

    "No thanks. When the work's done, I'm not interested in mounting anything else. You want me to start tonight?"

    Deje patted her dark, richly dressed hair. "I'm sure there's someone who made a reservation tonight who'll rise to the occasion."

    They grinned at each other.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire