• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 65)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(65) by Anne Bishop
  • The small garden within the garden was completely surrounded by large yews that looked as if they hadn't been trimmed on this side in several years. A maple tree dominated one end, girdled by a circular iron bench that had been white once, but the paint was now peeling badly. In front of the yews were the remains of flowerbeds, tangled, weedy, uncared for. But the thing that made his breath catch, made his heart pound too fast, too hard, was the bed of witch blood in the far corner.

    Flower or weed, witch blood was beautiful, deadly, and—so legend said—indestructible. The blood-red flowers, with their black throats and black-tipped petals, were in full bloom, as they always were from the first breath of spring to the last dying sigh of autumn.

    Wilhelmina stood by the bed, hugging herself and shivering.

    Daemon walked over to the bed, trying to understand the pain and hope in Wilhelmina's face. Witch blood supposedly grew only where a witch's blood had been spilled violently or where a witch who had met a violent death was buried.

    Daemon stepped back, reeling.

    Even with the fresh air and the other garden smells, the dark psychic scent was strong there. Sweet Darkness, it was strong there.

    "My sister planted these," Wilhelmina said abruptly, her voice quivering. "One for each. As remembrance." She bit her lip, her blue eyes wide and frightened as she studied the flowers.

    "It's all right," Daemon said soothingly, trying to calm the panic rising in her while fighting his own. "I know what witch blood is and what it stands for." He searched for words that might comfort them both. "This is a special place because of it."

    "The gardeners won't come here. They say it's haunted. Do you think it's haunted? I hope it is."

    Daemon considered his next words carefully. "Where's your sister?"

    Wilhelmina began to cry. "Briarwood. They put her in Briarwood." The sobs became a brokenhearted keening.

    Daemon held her gently while he stroked her hair, murmuring the "words of gentle sorrow" in the Old Tongue, the language of Witch.

    After a minute, Wilhelmina pushed him away, sniffling. He handed her his handkerchief and, smiling, took it back when she stared at it, uncertain what to do with it after using it.

    "She talks like that sometimes," Wilhelmina said. "We'd better get back." She left the alcove and hurried down the path.

    Dazed, Daemon followed her back to the house.

    Daemon stepped into the kitchen and gave Cook his best smile. "Any chance of a cup of coffee?"

    Cook snapped a sharp, angry look in his direction. "If you like."

    Confused by this sudden display of temper, Daemon shrugged out of his topcoat and sat at the kitchen table. As he puzzled over what he'd done to upset her, she thumped a mug of coffee on the table and said, "Miss Wilhelmina was crying when she came in from the garden."

    Daemon ignored the coffee, more interested in Cook's reaction. "There was an alcove in the garden she wanted to visit."

    The stern look in Cook's eyes instantly softened, saddened. "Ah, well." She cut two thick slabs of fresh bread, piled cold beef between them, and set it before him, an unspoken apology.

    Daemon took a deep breath. "Cook, what is Briarwood?"

    "A foul place, if you ask me, but no one here does," she snapped, then immediately gave him a small smile.

    "What is it?"

    With a sigh, Cook brought her own mug of coffee over to the table and sat down across from Daemon. "You're not eating," she said absently as she sipped her coffee.

    Daemon obediently took a bite out of the sandwich and waited.

    "It's a hospital for emotionally disturbed children," Cook said. "Seems a lot of young witches from good families become high-strung of a sudden when they start leaving childhood behind, if you understand me. But Miss Jaenelle's been in and out of that place since she was five years old for no better reason that I could ever see except that she used to make up fanciful stories about unicorns and dragons and such." She cocked her head toward the front of the house. "Theysay she's unbalanced because she's the only one in the family who doesn't wear the Jewels, that she tries to make up for not being able to do the Craft lessons by making up stories to get attention. If you ask me, the last thing Miss Jaenelle wants is attention. It's just that she's . . . different. It's a funny thing about her. Even when she says wild things, things you know can't be true, somehow . . . you start to wonder, you know?"

    Daemon finished his sandwich and drained his mug. "How long has she been gone?"

    "Since early spring. She put a flea inall their ears this last time. That's why they've left her there so long."

    Daemon's lip curled in disgust. "What could a child possibly say that would make them want to lock her up like that?"

    "She said . . ." Cook looked nervous and upset. "She said Lord Benedict wasn't her father. She said Prince Philip . . ."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire