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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(30) by Anne Bishop
  • But if Daemon had to be executed to protect Jaenelle, it wouldn't be a stranger's hand that put him in his grave, He owed his son that much.

    PART II

    CHAPTER THREE

    1—Kaeleer

    Saetan smiled dryly at his reflection. His full head of black hair was more silvered at the temples than it had been five years ago, but the lines left in his face by illness and despair had softened while the laugh lines had deepened.

    Turning from the mirror, he strolled the length of the second-floor gallery. His bad leg still stiffened if he walked too long, but he no longer needed that damned cane. He laughed softly. Jaenelle was a bracing tonic in more ways than one.

    As he descended the staircase that ended in the informal reception room, he noticed the tall, slim woman watching him through narrowed eyes. He also noticed the ring of keys attached to her belt and felt relieved that finding the current housekeeper had been so easy.

    "Good afternoon," he said pleasantly. "Are you Helene?"

    "And what if I am?" She crossed her arms and tapped her foot.

    Well, he hadn't expected an open-armed welcome, but still . . . He smiled at her. "For a staff who's had no one to serve for so long and so little incentive, you've kept the place quite well."

    Helene's shoulders snapped back and her eyes glinted with anger. "We care for the Hall because it's the Hall." Her eyes narrowed even further. "And who are you?" she demanded.

    He raised an eyebrow. "Who do you think I am?"

    "An interloper, that's what I think," Helene snapped, placing her hands on her hips. "One of those who sneaks in here from time to time to gawk and 'soak up the atmosphere.'"

    Saetan laughed. "They'd do well not to soak up too much of the atmosphere of this place. Although it was always calmer than its Terreille counterpart. I suppose after so many years away, I am an interloper of sorts, but . . ." He raised his right hand. As the Black Jewel in the ring flashed, there was an answering rumble from the stones of SaDiablo Hall.

    Helene paled and stared at him.

    He smiled. "You see, my dear, it still answers my call. And I'm afraid I'm about to wreak havoc with your routine."

    Helen fumbled a low curtsy. "High Lord?" she stammered.

    He bowed. "I'm opening the Hall."

    "But . . ."

    Saetan stiffened. "There's a problem with that?"

    There was a gleam in Helene's gold eyes as she briskly wiped her hands on her large white apron. "A thorough cleaning will help, to be sure, but"—she looked pointedly at the drapes—"some refurbishing would help even more."

    The tension drained out of him. "And give you something to be proud of instead of having to make do with an empty title?"

    Helene blushed and chewed her lip.

    Hiding a smile, Saetan vanished the drop cloths and studied the room. "New drapes and sheers definitely. With a good polishing, the wood pieces will still do, providing the preservation spells have held and they're structurally sound. New sofas and chairs. Plants by the windows. A few new paintings for the walls as well. New wallpaper or paint? What do you think?"

    It took Helene a moment to find her voice. "How many rooms are you thinking of restoring?"

    "This one, the formal receiving room across the hall, the dining room, my public study, my suite, a handful of guest rooms—and a special suite for my Lady."

    "Then perhaps your Lady would like to oversee the redecorating."

    Saetan looked at her with horrified amusement. "No doubt she would. However, my Lady will be twelve in four months, and I'd much prefer that she live in a suite I've decorated on her behalf than that I live in a Hall decorated with her somewhat . . . eclectic . . . tastes."

    Helene stared at him for a moment but refrained from asking the question he saw in her eyes. "I could have some swatch books brought up to the Hall for you to choose from."

    "An excellent idea, my dear. Do you think you can have this place presentable in four months?"

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire