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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(45) by Anne Bishop
  • Surreal put on an old, soft nightgown and climbed into bed. It was good to be back at Deje's house, good to be back in Chaillot. Now if only the Sadist would stay away, maybe she could get some sleep.


    Daemon knocked on the kitchen door.

    Inside, the spright little tune someone was singing stopped.

    Waiting for the door to open, Daemon looked around, pleased to see that the snug little cottage was in good repair. The lawn and flowerbeds were neatly tended. The summer crop in the vegetable garden was almost done, but the healthy vines at one end promised a good crop of pumpkins and winter squash.

    Still too early for pumpkins. Daemon sighed with regret while his mouth watered at the memory of Manny's pumpkin tarts.

    At the back of the yard were two sheds. The smaller one probably contained gardening tools. The larger one was Jo's woodshop. The old man was probably tucked away in there coaxing an elegant little table out of pieces of wood, oblivious to everything except his work.

    The kitchen door remained closed. The silence continued.

    Concerned. Daemon opened the door enough to slip his head and shoulders inside and look around.

    Manny stood by her worktable, one floury hand pressed to her bosom.

    Damn. He should have realized a Warlord Prince's appearance would frighten her. He'd changed enough since he'd last seen her that she might not recognize his psychic scent.

    Putting on his best smile, he said, "Darling, if you're going to pretend you're not home, the least you can do is close the windows. The smell of those nut cakes will draw the most unsavory characters."

    Manny gave a cry of relief and joy, hustled around the worktable, and shuffle-ran toward the door, her floury hands waving cheerfully in front of her. "Daemon!"

    Daemon stepped into the kitchen, slid one arm around the woman's thick waist, and twirled her around.

    Manny laughed and flapped her arms. "Put me down. I'm getting flour all over your nice coat."

    "I don't care about the coat." He kissed her cheek and set her carefully on her feet. With a bow and a flourish of his wrist, he presented her with a bouquet of flowers. "For my favorite lady."

    Misty-eyed, Manny bent her head to smell the flowers. "I'll put these in some water." She bustled around the kitchen, filled a vase, and spent several minutes arranging the flowers. "You go into the parlor and I'll bring out some nut cakes and tea."

    Manny and Jo had been servants in the SaDiablo court when he was growing up. Manny had taken care of him, practically raised him. And the darling was still trying.

    Hiding a smile, Daemon stuffed his hands in his pockets and scuffed his gleaming black shoe against the kitchen floor. He looked at her through his long black lashes. "What'd I do?" he said in a sad, slightly pouty, little-boy voice. "What'd I do not to deserve a chair in the kitchen anymore?"

    Trying to sound exasperated, Manny only laughed. "No use trying to raise you proper. Sit down, then, and behave yourself."

    Daemon laughed, lighthearted and boyish, and plunked himself gracelessly into one of the kitchen chairs. Manny pulled out plates and cups. "Although why you want to stay in the kitchen is beyond me."

    "The kitchen is where the food is."

    "Guess there's some things boys never grow out of. Here." Manny set a glass in front of him.

    Daemon looked at the glass, then looked at her.

    "It's milk," she added.

    "I did recognize it," he said dryly.

    "Good. Then drink it." She folded her arms and tapped her foot. "No milk, no nut cakes."

    "You always were a martinet," Daemon muttered. He picked up the glass, grimaced, and drank it down. He handed her the glass, giving her his best boyish smile. "Now may I have a nut cake?"

    Manny laughed, shaking her head. "You're impossible." She put the kettle on for tea and began transferring the nut cakes to a platter. "What brings you here?"

    "I came to see you." Daemon crossed his legs and steepled his fingers, resting them lightly on his chin.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire