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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(71) by Anne Bishop
  • "I'll be along in a minute," Daemon said quietly.

    Wilhelmina slipped into her coat and hurried after her sister.

    Cook shook her head. "I don't understand it. Miss Jaenelle has always liked lamb."

    But you didn't say lamb, you said leg,Daemon thought as he shrugged into his topcoat. What other kind of leg would they serve in that hospital that would horrify a young girl so?

    "Here." Cook handed him another mug of coffee and three apples. "At least this will get you started. Put the apples in your pocket—and mind you keep one for yourself."

    Daemon slipped the apples into his pocket. "You're a darling," he said as he gave Cook a quick kiss on the cheek. He turned away to hide his smile and also so she could tell herself—and believe it—that he hadn't seen how flustered and pleased he'd made her.

    The girls were nowhere in sight. Unconcerned, he strolled along the garden paths, sipping his coffee. He knew where to find them.

    They were in the alcove, sitting on the iron bench.

    Wilhelmina was chattering as though the words couldn't tumble out fast enough and gesturing with an animation startlingly at odds with the quiet, sedate girl he was accustomed to. When he approached, the chattering stopped and two pairs of eyes studied him.

    Daemon polished two apples on his coat sleeve and solemnly gave one to each of them. Then he walked to the other end of the alcove. He couldn't make himself turn his back on them, couldn't give up looking at her altogether, but he settled his face into a bland expression and began to eat the apple. After a moment, the girls began to eat too.

    Two pairs of eyes. Wilhelmina's eyes held a look of uncertainty, caution, hesitation. But Jaenelle's . . . When he came into the alcove, those eyes had told him she'd already come to some decision about him. He found it unnerving that he didn't know what it was.

    And her voice. He was far enough away not to catch the quiet words, but the cadence of her voice was lovely, lilting, murmuring surf on a beach at sunset. He frowned, puzzled. Then, too, there was her accent. There was a common language among the Blood, even though the Old Tongue was almost forgotten, as well as a native language among each race. So every people, even speaking the same language, had a distinctive accent—and hers was different from the general Chaillot accent. It was a swirling kind of thing, as if she'd learned various words in various places and had melded them together into a voice distinctly her own. A lovely voice. A voice that could wash over a man and heal deep wounds of the heart.

    The sudden silence caught him unaware, and he turned toward them, one eyebrow raised in question. Wilhelmina was looking at Jaenelle. Jaenelle was looking intently in the direction of the house.

    "Graff's looking for you," Jaenelle said. "You'd better hurry."

    Wilhelmina jumped up from the bench and ran lightly down the path.

    Jaenelle shifted position on the seat and studied the bed of witch blood. "Did you know that if you sing to them correctly, they'll tell you the names of the ones who are gone?" Her eyes slid from the bed to study his face.

    Daemon walked up to her slowly. "No, I didn't know."

    "Well, they can." A bitter smile flickered on her lips, and for a brief moment there was a savage look in her eyes. "As long as Chaillot stands above the sea, the ones they were planted for won't be forgotten. And someday the blood debt will be paid in full."

    Then she was a young girl again, and Daemon told himself, insisted, that the midnight, sepulchral voice he'd just heard was the result of his own light-headedness from lack of sleep and food.

    "Come," Jaenelle said, waiting for him to fall into step. They strolled up the garden paths toward the house.

    "Don't you have lessons with Lady Graff too?"

    Anguish and grim resignation washed the air around her. "No," she said in a carefully neutral voice. "Graff says I have no ability in the Craft and there's no point holding Wilhelmina back, since I can't seem to learn even the simpler lessons."

    Daemon slid a narrow-eyed look toward her and said nothing for a moment. "Then what do you do while Wilhelmina is having lessons?"

    "Oh, I . . . do other things." She stopped quickly, head cocked, listening. "Leland wants you."

    Daemon made a rude noise and was rewarded with an astonished giggle. Her pale, frail-looking hand gripped his arm and pulled him forward. His heart thumped crazily as she tugged him up the path, laughing. They continued playing all the way to the house. She tugged, he protested. Finally she tugged him into the kitchen, through the kitchen, ignoring Cook's astonished gasp, and toward the doorway leading into the corridor.

    Two feet from the doorway, Daemon dug in his heels.

    Leland could go to Hell for all he cared. He wanted to stay with Jaenelle.

    She pressed her hands against his back and propelled him through the doorway.

    Landing on the other side, Daemon spun around and stared at a closed door. There hadn't been time for her to close a door. Come to think of it, he didn't remember therebeing an actual door there.

    Daemon stared a moment longer, his eyes molten gold, his lips fighting to break into a grin. He made another rude noise for the benefit of whoever might be listening on the other side of the door, shrugged out of his coat, and went to see what Leland wanted.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire