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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(59) by Anne Bishop
  • Surreal snuggled deeper into the bed, tucking the covers around her. The night was cool, the bed warm, and the sleeping draught Deje had given her gently pulled her back into the dreamless sleep she'd enjoyed for the past few nights.

    Whatever it was, it wasn't looking for her.

    Kartane slammed the door of his suite and locked it with a vicious snap of his hand. For an hour he paced his rooms, cursing softly.

    It had been a delightful night, spent with a frightened, porcelain-faced girl who had been gratifyingly revolted by everything she'd had to do for him—and everything he had done to her. He had left that private playground relaxed and sated until Robert Benedict had stopped him at the door and told him how delighted, howhonored his family was to receive such a gift from Lady SaDiablo. Of course, his bastard brother, Philip, performed consort duties for Lady Angelline, and she probably wouldn't put himcompletely aside for a pleasure slave, no matter how celebrated, but they werehonored.

    Kartane cursed. He'd woven his web of lies to Hayll's embassy tight enough to ensure that Dorothea, even if she found him quickly, wouldn't be able to call him back without embarrassment to herself. It also meant he couldn't bolt now without answering some difficult, and very unwanted, questions. Besides, this had become his favorite playground, and he had planned to stay a while.

    He undressed and fell wearily into bed.

    There was time. There was time. Daemon wasn't here.


    Cassandra stood in the Sanctuary doorway and watched the sun rise, unable to pinpoint the cause of her nervousness. Whatever it was, it was coming over the horizon with the sun.

    Closing her eyes and taking a slow, deep breath, she descended to the depth of the Black, took that one mental step to the side that Black Widows were trained to take, and then she stood at the edge of the Twisted Kingdom. With eyes gauzed by the dreamscape of visions, she looked at the sun climbing above the horizon.

    She stared for a long moment, then shook her head violently to clear her sight and pressed her body hard against the stone doorway, hoping for support. When she was sure she was truly out of the dreamscape, she went into the Sanctuary, keeping her back to the sun.

    She stumbled to the kitchen, hurriedly pulled the curtains across the windows, and sat on the bench by the banked fire, grateful for the dark.

    A Black Widow who stood on the edge of the Twisted Kingdom could see the true face behind whatever mask a person wore; she could draw memories from wood and stone to know what happened in a place; she could see warnings about things to come.

    The sun, when Cassandra had looked at it through the dreamscape of visions, had been a torn, bloody orb.

    Alexandra Angelline studied the room with a critical eye. The wood floor gleamed, the throw rugs were freshly washed, the windows sparkled, the bed linen was crisp and new, and the wardrobe was filled with freshly washed and pressed clothes that hung in a straight row above the polished shoes. She breathed deeply and smelled autumn air and lemon polish.

    And something else.

    With an angry sigh, she shook her head and turned to her housekeeper. "It's still there. Faint, but there. Clean it again."

    Lucivar studied the cloudless sky. Heat waves already shimmered up from the Arava Desert in Pruul, but Lucivar shivered, chilled to the bone. His outer senses told him nothing, so he turned inward and instantly felt the cold, dark fury. Nervously licking his lips, he sent a thought on an Ebon-gray spear thread narrowed toward a single mind.


    Whatever rode the Winds over Pruul passed him and continued west.


    Cold silence was his only answer.

    In Hell, Saetan sat behind the blackwood desk in his private study deep beneath the Hall and stared at the portrait across the room, a portrait he could barely see in the dim light. He'd been sitting there for hours, staring at Cassandra's likeness, trying to feel something—love, rage—anything that would ease the pain in his heart.

    He felt nothing but bitterness and regret.

    He watched Mephis open the study door and close it behind him. For a long moment he stared at his eldest son as if he were a stranger, and then turned back to the portrait.

    "Prince SaDiablo," Saetan said, his voice full of soft thunder.

    "High Lord?"

    Saetan stared at the portrait for several minutes more. He sighed bitterly. "Send Marjong the Executioner to me."

    In a private compartment on a Yellow Web Coach, Daemon Sadi sat across from two nervous Hayllian ambassadors. Behind a face that looked like a cold, beautiful, unnatural mask, his rage was contained but undiminished. He'd said nothing to his escorts throughout the journey. In fact, he'd barely moved since they left Hayll.

    Now he stared at a blank wall, deaf to the men's lowered voices. His right hand continued to seek his left wrist, the fingers gently rubbing back and forth, back and forth, as if needing reassurance that the scar Tersa had gifted him with was still there.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire