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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(38) by Anne Bishop
  • Daemon probed the room and found nothing. But it was still there, like something seen out of the corner of the eye that vanishes when you turn to look at it. Breathing hard, Daemon waited.

    The touch, when it came again, was hesitant, cautious. He shivered as it gently probed his back. Shivered because along with exhaustion and dismay, that gentle touch was filled with a cold, cold anger.

    The powdered herbs and broken glass vanished. A moment later a brass ball, perforated like a tea ball, appeared above the bath and sank into the water. Small phantom hands, gentle yet strong, helped him into the bath.

    Daemon gasped when the open wounds touched the water, but the hands pushed him down, down, down until he was stretched out on his back, the water covering him. After a moment he couldn't feel the hands. Dismayed that the link might be broken, he struggled to rise to a sitting position only to find himself held down. He relaxed and slowly realized that his skin felt numb from his chin down, that he no longer felt the pain. Sighing with gratitude, Daemon leaned his head against the bath and closed his eyes.

    A sweet, strange darkness rolled through him. He moaned, but it was a moan of pleasure.

    Strange how the mind could wander. He could almost smell the sea, feel the power of the surf. Then there was the rich smell of fresh-turned earth after a warm spring rain. And the luscious warmth of sunlight on a soft summer afternoon. The sensual pleasure of slipping naked between clean sheets.

    When he reluctantly opened his eyes, her psychic scent still lingered, but he knew she was gone. He moved his foot through the now-cold water. The brass ball was gone too.

    Daemon carefully got out of the bath, opened the drain, and swayed on his feet, unsure what to do. Reaching for a towel, he patted the front of his body to absorb most of the water, but he was reluctant to touch the back. Gritting his teeth, he turned his back to the mirror and looked over his shoulder. Best to know how bad the damage was.

    Daemon stared.

    There were fifty white lines, like chalk lines on his golden-brown skin. The lines looked fragile, and it would take days of being careful before the wounds were truly, strongly knit, but he was healed. If he didn't reopen the wounds, those lines would fade. No scars.

    Daemon carefully walked to the bed and lay facedown, inching his arms upward until they were under the pillow, supporting his head. It was hard to stay awake, hard not to think about how a meadow looks so silvery in the moonlight. Hard . . .

    Someone had been touching his back for some time before he was aware of it. Daemon resisted the urge to open his eyes. There would be nothing to see, and if she knew he was awake, she might pull away.

    Her touch was firm, gentle, knowing. It traveled in slow, circular lines down his back. Cool, soothing, comforting.

    Where was she? Not nearby, so how was she able to make the reach? He didn't know. He didn't care. He surrendered to the pleasure of that phantom touch, a hand that someday he would hold in the flesh.

    When she was gone again, Daemon slowly eased one arm around and gingerly touched his back. He stared at the thick salve on his fingers and then wiped them on the sheet. His eyes closed. There was no point in fighting the sleep he so desperately needed.

    But just before he surrendered to need, he thought once more about the kind of witch who would come to a stranger's aid, already exhausted from her own ordeal, and heal his wounds. "Don't get in my way, Priest," he muttered, and fell asleep.

    CHAPTER FOUR

    1—Hell

    Saetan slammed the book down on the desk and shook with rage.

    A month since that plea for knowledge. A month of waiting for some word,some indication that she was all right. He'd tried to enter Beldon Mor, but Cassandra had been right. The psychic mist surrounding the city was a barrier that only the dead could feel, a barrier that kept them all out. Jaenelle was taking no chances with whatever secret lay behind the mist, and her lack of trust was a blade between his ribs.

    Embroiled in his own thoughts, he didn't realize someone else was in the study until he heard his name called a second time.

    "Saetan?" Such pain and pleading in that small, weary voice. "Please don't be angry with me."

    His vision blurred. His nails dug into the blackwood desk, gouging its stone-hard wood. He wanted to vent all the fear and anger that had been growing in him since he'd last seen her, months ago. He wanted to shake her for daring to ask him to swallow his anger. Instead he took a deep breath, smoothed his face into as neutral a mask as he could create, and turned toward her.

    The sight of her made him ill.

    She was a skeleton with skin. Her sapphire eyes were sunk into her skull, almost lost in the dark circles beneath them. The golden hair he loved to touch hung limp and dull around her bruised face. There were rope burns and dried blood on her ankles and wrists.

    "Come here," he said, all emotion drained from his voice. When she didn't move, he took a step toward her.

    She flinched and stepped back. His voice became soft thunder. "Jaenelle, come here."

    One step. Two. Three. She stared at his feet, shaking.

    He didn't touch her. He didn't trust himself to control the jealousy and spite that seared him as he looked at her. She preferred staying with her family and being treated like this over being with him, who loved her with all his being but wasn't entrusted with her care because he was a Guardian, because he was the High Lord of Hell.

    Better that she play with the dead than become one of them, he thought bitterly. She wasn't strong enough right now to fight him. He would keep her here for a few days and let her heal. Then he would bring that bastard of a father to his knees and force him to relinquish all paternal rights. He would—

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire