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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 24)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(24) by Anne Bishop
  • Using Craft, Surreal pushed his heavy body off hers. This one wouldn't hit her or refuse to pay. It was exhilarating.

    For three years she roamed the streets, her child's body and unusual looks a beacon to the most sordid. But her skill with a knife was not unknown, and it became common knowledge in the streets that a wise man paid Surreal in advance.

    Three years. Then one day as she was slipping down an alley she'd already probed to be sure it was empty, she felt someone behind her. Whirling around, dagger in hand, she could only stare at Daemon Sadi as he leaned against the wall, watching her. Without thinking, she ran up the alley to get away from him, and hit a psychic shield that held her captive until his hand locked on her wrist. He said nothing. He simply caught the Winds and pulled her with him. Never having ridden one of those psychic Webs, Surreal clung to him, disoriented.

    An hour later, she was sitting at a kitchen table in a furnished loft in another part of the Realm. Tersa hovered over her, encouraging her to eat, while Daemon watched her as he drank his wine.

    Too nervous to eat, Surreal threw the words at him. "I'm a whore."

    "Not a very good one," Daemon replied calmly.

    Incensed, Surreal hurled every gutter word she knew at him.

    "Do you see my point?" he asked, laughing, when she finally sputtered into silence.

    "I'll be what I am."

    "You're a child of mixed blood. Part Hayllian blood." He toyed with his glass. "Your mother's people live—what—a hundred, two hundred years? You may see two thousand or more. Do you want to spend those years eating scraps dumped in alleys and sleeping in filthy rooms? There are other ways of doing what you do—for better rooms, better food, better pay. You'd have to start as an apprentice, of course, but I know a place where they'd take you and train you well."

    Daemon spent several minutes making out a list. When he was done, he pushed it in front of Surreal. "A woman with an education may be able to spend more time sitting in a chair instead of lying on her back. A sound advantage, I should think."

    Surreal stared at the list, uneasy. There were the expected subjects—literature, languages, history—and then, at the bottom of the page, a list of skills more suited to the knife than to paid sex.

    As Tersa cleared the table, Daemon rose from his chair and leaned over Surreal, his chest brushing her back, his warm breath tickling her pointed ear. "Subtlety, Surreal," he whispered. "Subtlety is a great weapon. There are other ways to slit a man's throat than to wash the walls with his blood. If you continue down that road, they'll find you, sooner or later. There are so many ways for a man to die." He chuckled, but there was an underlying viciousness in the sound. "Some men die for lack of love . . . some die because of it. Think about it."

    Surreal went to the Red Moon house. The matron and the other women taught her the bedroom arts. The rest she learned quietly on her own. Within ten years, she was the highest-paid whore in the house—and men began to bargain for her other skills as well.

    She traveled throughout Terreille, offering her skills to the best Red Moon house in whatever city she was in and carefully accepting contracts for her other profession, the one she found more challenging—and more pleasurable. She carried a set of keys to town houses, suites, lofts—some in the most expensive parts of town, others in quiet, backwater streets where people asked no questions. Sometimes she met Tersa and gave her whatever care she could.

    And sometimes she found herself sharing a place with Sadi when he slipped away from whatever court he was serving in for a quiet evening. Those were good times for Surreal. Daemon's knowledge was expansive when he felt like talking, and when she chattered, his golden eyes always held the controlled amusement of an older brother.

    For almost three hundred years they came and went comfortably with each other. Until the night when, already a little drunk, she consumed a bottle of wine while watching him read a book. He was comfortably slouched in a chair, shirt half unbuttoned, bare feet on a hassock, his black hair uncharacteristically tousled.

    "I was wondering," Surreal said, giving him a tipsy smile.

    Daemon looked up from his book, one eyebrow rising as a smile began to tweak the corners of his mouth. "You were wondering?"

    "Professional curiosity, you understand. They talk about you in the Red Moon houses, you know."

    "Do they?"

    She didn't notice the chill in the room or the golden eyes glazing to a hard yellow. She didn't recognize the dangerous softness in his voice. She just smiled at him. "Come on, Sadi, it would be a real feather in my cap, career-wise. There isn't a whore in the Realm who knows firsthand what it's like to be pleasured by Hayll's—"

    "Be careful what you ask for. You may get it."

    She laughed and arched her back, her ni**les showing through the thin fabric of her blouse. It wasn't until he uncoiled from his chair with predatory speed and had her pressed against him with her hands locked behind her back that she realized the danger of taunting him. Pulling her hair hard enough to bring tears to her eyes, he forced her head up. His hand tightened on her wrists until she whimpered from the pain. Then he kissed her.

    She expected a brutal kiss, so the tenderness, the softness of his lips nuzzling hers frightened her far more. She didn't know what to think, what to feel with his hands deliberately hurting her while his mouth was so giving, so persuasive. When he finally coaxed her mouth open, each easy stroke of his tongue produced a fiery tug between her legs. When she could no longer stand, he took her to the bedroom.

    He undressed her with maddening slowness, his long nails whispering over her shivering skin as he kissed and licked and peeled the fabric away. It was sweet torture.

    When she was finally naked, he coaxed her to the bed. Psychic ropes tightened around her wrists and pulled her arms over her head. Ropes around her ankles held her legs apart. As he stood by the bed, Surreal became aware of the cold, unrelenting anger coiling around her . . . and a soft, controlled breeze, a spring wind still edged with winter, running over her body, caressing her br**sts, her belly, riffling the black hair between her legs before splitting to run along the inside of her thighs, circling her feet, traveling up the outside of her thighs, past her ribs to circle around her neck and begin again.

    It went on and on until she couldn't stand the teasing, until she was desperate for some kind of touch that would give her release.

    "Please," she moaned, trying to shake off the relentless caress.

    "Please what?" He slowly stripped off his clothes.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire