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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 61)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(61) by Anne Bishop
  • Last was the girl, Wilhelmina, the only child from Robert's first marriage. Unlike her father, who had a ruddy complexion and sandy-red hair, she was raven-haired and very fair, with a startling blush in her cheeks and blue-gray eyes. She was a beautiful girl and would become even more so when her body began to fill out and curve. In fact, that was the only flaw Daemon could see in her appearance—she was thin to the point of looking unhealthy. He wondered—as he had wondered in so many other places—if these people, Blood as he was Blood, had any idea of what they were, had any understanding of what wearing the Jewels entailed—not just the pleasures or the power that could be had but the physical and emotional hardships that were part of it too. If the girl wore Jewels darker than the other women in her family, perhaps they didn't recognize what was so apparent to him.

    Anyone who wore the Jewels, especially a child, had a higher metabolism. It was possible, more for a witch because of the physical demands of her moon time than for her male counterparts, to burn up her own body in a matter of days if enough food wasn't available.

    Setting the small chip of Red Jewel that was hidden beneath the rubies in his cuff links to auditory retention, Daemon let his mind drift as Alexandra told him about the household and his "duties." The Jewel chip would retain the conversation until he was ready to retrieve it. Right now, he had something more important to think about.

    Where was she?Who was she? A relation who only visited? A guest who had stayed a few days and recently left? He couldn't ask anyone. If they didn't suspect that Witch had been in their presence, his questions, no matter how innocuous, might endanger her. Dorothea already had her cancerous tentacles embedded in Chaillot. If she became aware that this Other had touched the island . . . No. He couldn't ask. Until she returned, he would do whatever was required to keep these women satisfied and unsuspecting. But after she returned . . .

    Finally he was shown to his room. It was directly below Alexandra's apartment and next to a back stairway, since he was mostly here for her pleasure, Leland needing nothing more than an escort when Robert wasn't available, and Wilhelmina being too young. It was a simple room with a chair, lamp, and writing desk as well as a single bed, a dresser with a mirror hanging above it, a wardrobe—and, Daemon noted gratefully, an adjoining modern bathroom.

    As he had anticipated, the conversation at dinner was strained. Alexandra talked about the cultural activities that could be explored in Beldon Mor, and Daemon asked the polite questions expected of him. While Alexandra's conversation was painstakingly impersonal, Leland was fluttery, nervous, and far too prone to ask leading questions that made her blush no matter how delicately Daemon phrased his answers—if he answered at all. Robert, who had returned unexpectedly for dinner, looked too pleased with the arrangement, made sly comments throughout the meal, and took pains to touch Leland at every opportunity to stress his claim to her. Daemon ignored him, finding Philip's distress and growing rage at Robert far more interesting.

    As dinner wore on, Daemon wished Wilhelmina were there, since she was the one he was most curious about, the one he could most easily tap for information. But she was considered too young to have late dinner and sit with the adults.

    Finally free to retire but too restless to sleep, Daemon paced his room. Tomorrow he would begin searching the house. A room where she had slept would still be strong with her psychic scent, even if it had been cleaned. There wasn't time to waste, but he couldn't afford to be found prowling around in the early morning hours his first night there, not now, not when he might finally see, hear, touch what his soul had been aching for his whole life. Blood Law was nothing to him. The Blood were nothing to him.

    She would be Blood and yet Other, something alien and yet kindred. She would be terrifyingly magnificent.

    As he paced his room, undressing in a slow striptease for no one, Daemon tried to imagine her. Chaillot born? Quite probable. Living in Beldon Mor? That would explain the subtlesomething he'd felt. And if she never physically strayed from the island, that explained why he hadn't felt her presence anywhere else in the past few years. Wise, certainly cautious to have escaped notice for so long.

    He slid into bed, turned off the light . . . and groaned as an image of a wise, skinny old crone filled his mind.

    No,he begged the still night.Sweet Darkness, heed the prayer of one of your sons. Now that she's so close, let her be young enough to want me. Let her be young enough to need me.

    The night gave him no answer, and the sky was a predawn gray before he finally slept.

    3—Terreille

    For two days Daemon played the polite, considerate escort as the fluttery Leland made an endless round of calls showing off Lady SaDiablo's gift. For two nights he prowled the house, his control on his temper fraying from lack of sleep and frustration. He had toured every public room, probed every guest room, flattered and cajoled his way through the servants' quarters—and had found nothing.

    Not quite nothing. He had found the library tucked away on the second floor of the nursery wing. It wasn't the library visitors saw, or the one the family used. This was the small room that contained volumes on the Craft and, like so many others he had seen in the past few decades, it had the feel of a room that was almost never used.

    Almost never.

    Silently closing the door, Daemon moved unerringly through the dark, cluttered room to a table in the far corner that held a shaded candlelight. He touched it, stroking downward on the crystal to dim the glow, leaned against the built-in bookcases and tilted his head back to rest on a shelf.

    The scent was strong in this room.

    Daemon closed his eyes, breathed deeply, and frowned. Even though it was clean, the room had the dusty, musty smell of old books, but a physical scent wouldn't obscure a psychic one. That dark scent . . . Like the body that housed it, a witch's psychic scent had a muskiness that a Blood male could find as arousing as the body—if not more so. This dark, sweet scent was chillingly clean of that muskiness, and as he continued to breathe deeply, to open himself to that which was stronger than the body, he felt distressed to find it so.

    Pushing away from the bookshelves, Daemon extinguished the candlelight and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness before leaving the room. So, she'd spent much of her time in that room, but she must havestayed somewhere. His eyes flicked toward the ceiling as he slipped among the shadows and silently climbed the stairs. The only place left to look was the nursery, the third floor rooms where Wilhelmina and her governess, Lady Graff, spent most of their days. It was also the only place Philip had vehemently told him to stay away from, since his services weren't required there.

    Daemon glided down the corridor, his probing mind identifying the rooms as he passed: classroom, music room, playroom, Lady Graff's sitting room and adjoining bedroom (which Daemon immediately turned away from, his lips curling in a snarl, as he caught the wispy scent of erotic dreaming), bathrooms, a couple of guest rooms, Wilhelmina's bedroom. And the corner room that overlooked the back gardens.

    Daemon hesitated, suddenly unwilling to further invade the privacy of children. As was his custom, he had gleaned basic facts about the family before entering service. The Hayllian ambassador, annoyed at being questioned, became quite garrulous once he noticed the cold look in Daemon's eyes, saying nothing of much interest except that there were two daughters. Daemon had met Wilhelmina.

    There was only one room left.

    His hand shook as he turned the doorknob and slipped into the room.

    The sweet darkness washed over him, but even here it was faint, as though someone had been trying to scrub it away. Daemon pressed his back against the door and silently asked forgiveness for what he was about to do. He was male, he was intruding, and, like her, it would only take a few minutes for his own dark psychic scent to be impressed on the room for anyone to read.

    Cautiously lifting one hand, he engaged a candlelight by the bed, keeping it bright enough to see by but dim enough that, he hoped, the light wouldn't be noticed beneath the bedroom door if someone walked past. Then he looked around, his brow wrinkling in puzzlement.

    It was a young girl's room: white dresser and wardrobe, white canopy and counterpane decorated with little pink flowers covering the four-poster bed, gleaming wood floors with cute throw rugs scattered around.

    It was totally wrong.

    He opened every drawer of the dresser and found clothing suitable for a young girl, but when he touched it it was like touching a tiny spark of lightning. The bed, too, when he ran his hand lightly over the counterpane, sent a spark along his nerves. But the dolls and stuffed animals—the scent was on them only because they were in this room. If any of them had been rich with her puzzling darkness, he would have taken it back to his room to hold throughout the night. Finally he turned to the wardrobe and opened the doors.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire