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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 22)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(22) by Anne Bishop
  • Deje called in a slim leather folder and removed a piece of expensive parchment. "Hmm. A full house. And there's always one or two who'll show up sure that they're too important to need a reservation."

    Surreal propped her elbows on the desk, her face in her hands. "You've got an excellent chef. Maybe they're just here for dinner."

    Deje smiled wickedly. "I try to accommodate all kinds of hunger."

    "And if the special's taken, the main entrées are still delicious."

    Deje laughed, her shaking bosom threatening to shimmy out of her low-cut gown. "Well put. Here." She pointed to a name on the list. "I remember you saying you don't mind him. He'll probably be half-starved, but he appreciates appetizers as well as the main course."

    Surreal nodded. "Yes, he'll do nicely. One of the garden rooms?"

    "Of course. I've done a little redecorating since you were last here. I think you'll like it. You have a true appreciation for such things." Deje reached into one of the little cubbyholes in the wall behind the desk and pulled out a key. "This one will suit."

    Surreal palmed the key. "Dinner in the room, I think. Is there a menu there? Good. I'll order ahead."

    "How do you remember all their likes and dislikes, particularly from so many places, so many different customs?"

    Surreal looked mockingly offended. "Deje. You used to play the rooms before you got ambitious. You know perfectly well that's what little black books are for."

    Deje shooed Surreal from the desk. "Away with you. I have work to do, and so do you."

    Surreal walked down the wide corridor, her sharp eyes taking in the rooms on either side. It was true. Deje was ambitious. Starting out with a packet of gifts from satisfied clients, she had bought a mansion and converted it into the best Red Moon house in the district. And unlike the other houses, at Deje's a man could find more than just a warm body in a bed. There was a small private dining room that served excellent food all night; a reception room, where those with an artistic temperament made a habit of gathering to debate each other while they ate the tidbits and drank good wine; a billiards room, where the politically ambitious met to plan their next move; a library filled with good books and thick leather chairs; private rooms, where a man could get away from his everyday life and be catered to, receiving nothing more than a good dinner, an expert massage, and peace; and, finally, the rooms and the women who would satisfy the carnal appetites.

    Surreal found her room, locked the door, and took a long look around, nodding in approval. Soft, thick rugs; white walls with tasteful watercolor paintings; dark furniture; an oversized, gauze-enveloped poster bed; music spheres and the ornate brass stand to hold them; sliding glass doors that led out into a walled private garden with a small fountain and petite willow trees as well as a variety of night-blooming flowers; and a bathroom with a shower and a large walk-up sunken tub that was positioned in front of the glass window overlooking the garden.

    "Very good, Deje," Surreal said quietly. "Very, very good."

    She quickly settled into the room, calling in her work clothes and carefully hanging them in the wardrobe. She never carried much, just enough variety to satisfy the different appetites in whatever Territory she was in. Most of her things were scattered in a dozen hideaways throughout Terreille.

    Surreal suppressed a shudder. It was better not to think of those hideaways. Certainly better not to wonder abouthim.

    Opening the glass doors so she could listen to the fountain, Surreal settled into a chair, her legs tucked beneath her. Two black leather books appeared, floating before her. She took one, leafed through to the last written page, called in a pen, and made a notation.

    That contract was finished. It hadn't taken the fool as long to die as she would have liked, but the pain had been exquisite. And the money had been very, very good.

    She vanished the book and opened the other one, checked the entry she needed, wrote out her menu, and with a flick of her wrist sent it to the kitchen. Vanishing the second book, she got up and stretched. Another flick of her wrist and there was the familiar weight of the knife's handle, its stiletto blade a shining comfort. Turning her wrist the other way, she vanished the knife and smacked her hands together. One was all she'd need tonight. He never gave her any trouble. Besides—she smiled at the memory—she was the one who had taught him, how long ago? Twelve, fourteen years?

    She took a quick shower, dressed her long black hair so it could be easily unpinned, made up her face, and slipped into a sheer gold-green dress that hid as much as it revealed. Finally, clenching her teeth against the inevitable, she walked over to the freestanding mirror and looked at the face, at the body, she had hated all her life.

    It was a finely sculpted face with high cheekbones, a thin nose, and slightly oversized gold-green eyes that saw everything and revealed nothing. Her slender, well-shaped body looked deceptively delicate but had strong muscles that she had hardened over the years to ensure she was always in peak condition for her chosen profession. But it was the sun-kissed, light-brown skin that made her snarl. Hayllian skin. Her father's skin. She could easily pass for Hayllian if she wore her hair down and wore tinted glasses to hide the color of her eyes. The eyes would mark her as a half-breed. The ears with the tips curving to a delicate point. . . those were Titian's ears.

    Titian, who came from no race Surreal had met in all her travels through Terreille. Titian, who had been broken on Kartane SaDiablo's spear. Titian, who had escaped and whored for her keep so Kartane couldn't find her and destroy the child she carried. Titian, who was found one day with her throat slit and was buried in an unmarked grave.

    All the assassinations, all those men going to their planned deaths, were dress rehearsals for patricide. Someday she would find Kartane in the right place at the right time, and she would pay him back for Titian.

    Surreal turned away from the mirror and forced the memories aside. When she heard the quiet knock on the door, she positioned herself in the center of the room so her guest would see her when he first walked in. And she would see him and plan the evening accordingly.

    Using Craft, she opened the door before he turned the handle, and let the seduction tendrils flow from her like some exotic perfume. She opened her arms and smiled as the door locked behind him.

    He came at her in a rush, need flowing out of him, the Gray Jewel around his neck blazing with his fire. She put her hands on his chest, stopping him and caressing him with one smooth stroke. Breathing hard, he clenched and unclenched his hands, but he didn't touch her.

    Satisfied, Surreal glided to the small dining table near the glass doors and sent a thought to the kitchen. A moment later, two chilled glasses and a bottle of wine appeared. She poured the wine, gave him a glass, and raised hers in a salute. "Philip."

    "Surreal." His voice was husky, aching.

    She sipped her wine. "Doesn't the wine please you?"

    Philip consumed half the glass in a swallow.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire