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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 67)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(67) by Anne Bishop
  • 7—Terreille

    After parting with Wilhelmina, Daemon changed into his riding clothes and headed for the stables. He had a free morning, the first since he'd arrived at the Angelline estate, and Alexandra had given him permission to take one of the horses out.

    As he reached the stable yard, Guinness, the stable master, gave him a curt wave and continued his instructions to one of the stable lads.

    "Going to hack out this morning?" Guinness said when Daemon approached, his gruff manner softened by a faint smile.

    "If it's convenient," Daemon replied, smiling. Here, like most places where he'd served, he got along well with the staff. It was the witches he was supposed to serve that he couldn't tolerate.

    "Ayah." Guinness's eyes slowly rode up Daemon's body, starting with his boots. "Good, straight, solid legs. Strong shoulders."

    Daemon wondered if Guinness was going to check his teeth.

    "How's your seat?" Guinness asked.

    "I ride fairly well," Daemon replied cautiously, not certain he cared for the faint gleam in Guinness's eye.

    Guinness sucked on his cheek. "Stallion hasn't been out for a few days. Andrew's the only one who can ride him, and he's got a bruised thigh. Can't let the boy go out with a weak leg. You willing to try?"

    Daemon took a deep breath, still suspicious. "All right."

    "Andrew! Saddle up, Demon." Daemon's eyebrows shot up practically to his hairline. "Demon?"

    Guinness sucked on his cheek again, refusing to notice Daemon's outraged expression. "Name's Dark Dancer, but in the stable yard, when we're out of hearing"—he shot a look at the house—"we call him what he is."

    "Hell's fire," Daemon muttered as he crossed the yard to where Andrew was saddling the big bay stallion. "Anything I should know?" he asked the young man.

    Andrew looked a bit worried. Finally he shrugged. "He's got a soft mouth and a hard head. He's too smart for most riders. He'll run you into the trees if you let him. Keep to the big open field, that's best. But watch the drainage ditch at the far end. It's too wide for most horses, but he'll take it, and he doesn't care if he lands on the other side without his rider."

    "Thanks," Daemon growled.

    Andrew grinned crookedly and handed the reins to Daemon. "I'll hold his head while you mount."

    Daemon settled into the saddle. "Let him go."

    Demon left the stable yard quietly enough, mouthing the bit, considering his rider. Except for showing some irritation at being held to a walk, Demon behaved quite well—until they reached a small rise and the path curved left toward the open field.

    Demon pricked his ears and lunged to the right toward a lone old oak tree, almost throwing Daemon from the saddle.

    The battle began.

    For some perverse reason of his own, Demon was determined to reach the oak tree. Daemon was equally determined to turn him toward the field. The horse lunged, bucked, twisted, circled, fought the reins and bit. Daemon held him in check enough not to be thrown, but, circle by hard-fought circle, the stallion made his way toward the tree.

    Fifteen minutes later, the horse gave up and stood with his shaking legs spread, his head down, and his lathered sides heaving. Daemon was sweat-soaked and shivering from exhaustion, and slightly amazed that his arms were still in their sockets.

    When Daemon gathered the reins once more, Demon laid back his ears, prepared for the next round. Curious about what would happen, Daemon turned them toward the tree and urged the horse onward.

    Demon's ears immediately pricked forward, his neck arched, and his step became high-spirited sassy.

    Daemon didn't offer any aids, letting the horse do whatever he wanted. Demon circled the tree over and over, sniffing the air, alert and listening . . . and growing more and more upset. Finally the stallion bugled angrily and launched himself toward the path and the field.

    Daemon didn't try to control him until they headed for the ditch. He won that battle—barely—and when Demon finally slowed down, too tired to fight anymore, Daemon turned him toward the stable.

    The stable lads stared openmouthed as Daemon rode into the yard. Andrew quickly limped up and took the reins. Guinness shook his head and strode across the yard, grasped Daemon's arm as he slid wearily from the saddle, and led him to the small office beside the tack room.

    Pulling glasses and a bottle from his desk, Guinness poured out a two-finger shot and handed it to Daemon. "Here," he said gruffly, pouring a glass for himself. "It'll put some bone back in your legs."

    Daemon gratefully sipped the whiskey while rubbing the knotted muscles in his shoulder.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire