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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 64)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(64) by Anne Bishop
  • "Fine," Surreal snapped, dropping back into her chair. "Bring the bottle and a clean mug." When the bottle and mug were placed before her, she filled the mug and slugged back a third of the brandy. "Listen up, sugar," she said tartly. "Sadi may be many things, and the Darkness only knows all that he's done, but he has never,ever hurt a child. To suggest that—"

    "What if he's forced to?" the woman said urgently.

    "Forced to?" Surreal squeaked. "Forced to?Hell's fire, who is going to be dumb enough to force the Sadist? Do you know what he does to people who push him?" Surreal drained the mug and filled it again. "Besides, who would want to destroy this kid?"

    "Dorothea SaDiablo."

    Surreal swore until she could feel the words swirling around the room like smoke. She finally stopped when she noticed the woman's expression of amazed amusement. She took another drink and swore again because her anger burned up the brandy so fast she couldn't feel even a little bit mellow. Thumping the mug down on the table, she ran her hands through her hair. "Lady, you really know how to knife someone in the guts, don't you?" She glared at the woman. If the witch had returned her gaze calmly, Surreal would have knifed her, but when she saw the tears and the pain—and the fear—in those emerald eyes . . .

    Titian lying on the floor with her throat slit and the walls thundering the order to run, run, run.

    "Look. I owe him. He took care of my mother, and he took care of me. He didn't have to, he just did. But I'll find him. After that, we'll see." Surreal stood up. "Thanks for the tea."

    The woman looked troubled. "What about your mother's people?"

    Surreal met her gaze. "If I come back, we'll exchange information. But I'll give you a bit of advice for free. Don't play with the Sadist. He's got a very long memory and a wicked temper. If you give him a reason to, he'll turn you to dust. I'll see myself out."

    Surreal left the Sanctuary, caught a Wind, and rode past Chaillot, chasing the setting sun far out into the ocean until she felt weary enough to return to Deje's and be civil to whomever she was supposed to bed that night.

    5—Hell

    Saetan toyed with the silver-handled letter opener, keeping his back to the man who stood just inside his study door. "Is it done?"

    "Forgive me, High Lord," came the ragged, whispery answer. "I could not do it."

    For a flickering second before he turned to face Marjong the Executioner, Saetan wasn't sure if he felt annoyed or relieved. He leaned against his blackwood desk and studied the giant man. It was impossible to read Marjong's expressions because his head and shoulders were always covered with a black hood.

    "He is in that misted city, High Lord," Marjong apologized, shifting the huge, double-headed ax from one hand to the other. "I could not reach him to carry out your request."

    So. Daemon was in Beldon Mor.

    "I can wait, High Lord. If he travels out of the misted city, I—"

    "No." Saetan took a slow, steadying breath. "No. Do nothing more unless I specifically request it. Understood?"

    Marjong bowed and left the study.

    With a weary sigh, Saetan sank into his chair and slowly spun the letter opener around and around. He picked it up and studied the thin raven glass blade and the beautifully sculpted silver handle. "An effective tool," he said quietly, balancing it on his fingertips. "Elegant, efficient. But if one isn't careful . . ." He pressed one finger against the point and watched a drop of blood well up on the finger pad. "Like you, namesake. Like you. The dance is ours now. Just between us."

    6—Terreille

    Daemon's days settled into a routine. Every morning he rose early, exercised, showered, and shared breakfast with Cook in the kitchen. He liked the Angellines' cook, a brisk, warm woman who reminded him of Manny—and who had been as appalled as Manny would have been when he'd asked her consent to have the first meal of the day in the kitchen instead of in the breakfast room with the family. She'd relented when she realized he was going hungry while dancing attendance to Leland's endless stream of nervous requests. Since he joined the family for breakfast anyway, Daemon wryly noted that his breakfast in the kitchen was usually better fare than what was served in the breakfast room.

    After breakfast, he met with Philip in the steward's office, where he was grudgingly handed the list of activities for the day. After that was a half hour walk through the gardens with Wilhelmina.

    Alexandra had decided that Wilhelmina needed some light exercise before beginning her Craft lessons with Lady Graff, an unspeakably harsh woman whom Daemon had taken an instant dislike to—as she had to him, more because he had ignored her coquettish suggestions than for any other reason. Leland then suggested that Daemon accompany the girl, since Wilhelmina had an unreasonable fear of men and exposure to a Ringed male who couldn't be a threat to her might help relieve her fear. So when the weather permitted, he escorted Wilhelmina around the grounds.

    The first few days he attempted conversation, tried to find out her interests, but she skittered away from his attempts while still trying to be a polite young lady. It struck him one morning, when a silence had stretched beyond expected comfort, that this was probably one of the rare times in the day when she had the luxury of her own thoughts. Since she spent most of her time in Graff's steely presence, she wasn't allowed to "moon about"—a phrase he'd heard Graff use one day in a tone that implied it was a usual scold. So he stopped trying to talk to her, letting her have her solitary half hour while he walked respectfully on her left, hands in his pockets, enjoying the same luxury of having time for his own thoughts.

    She always had a destination, although she never seemed to reach it. No matter what paths they took through the gardens, they always ended up at a narrow path that led into a heavily overgrown alcove. Her steps would falter when she reached the place, and then she would rush past it, breathing hard, as if she'd been running for a long time. He wondered if something had happened to her there, something that frightened her, repelled her, and yet drew her back.

    One morning when he was lost in thought, thoroughly absorbed with the puzzle his Lady had left him, he realized they'd stopped walking and Wilhelmina had been watching him for some time. They were standing by the narrow path.

    "I want to go in there," she said defiantly, her hands clenched at her sides.

    Daemon bit the inside of his lip to keep his face neutral. It was the first spark of life she'd shown, and he didn't want it squelched by a smile that might be misunderstood as condescension. "All right."

    She looked surprised, obviously expecting an argument. With a timid smile, she led him down the path and through a trellis arch.

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