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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 85)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(85) by Anne Bishop
  • Wilhelmina hit the keys, drowning him out. She continued for a few bars and then turned to him and said accusingly, "You're not playing."

    It was such a perfect imitation of Graff's scolding voice that Daemon's lips curled in a snarl as he twisted around to face her, but the look on her face was a plea for understanding and her eyes were glazed with fear. Grinding his teeth, he placed his hands on the keys. "One, two, three, four." They began to play.

    She was badly frightened, and it had something to do with him. As they stumbled through the duet, he noticed Graff standing in the music room doorway, listening, observing, spying. They finished the duet and started again. The longer they played and the longer Graff watched them the more Wilhelmina mangled the music until Daemon wondered if they were playing the same piece. Certainly the sheet music he was reading had nothing to do with what he was hearing, and he winced more than once at the sounds being produced.

    When Wilhelmina doggedly began the duet for the third time, Graff turned away with a grimace, and Daemon felt sourly envious of her ability to leave. As soon as she left, however, Wilhelmina began to play more smoothly, more quietly.

    "You must never ask about Jaenelle," she said so quietly Daemon had to lean toward her to hear. "If you can't find her, you must never ask anyone where she is."

    "Why?"

    Wilhelmina stared straight ahead. Her throat worked convulsively as if she were choking on the words. "Because if they find out, she might get into trouble, and I don't want her to get into trouble. I don't want her to go back to Briarwood." She stopped playing and turned toward him, her eyes misty. "Do you?"

    He smoothed her hair away from her face and lightly caressed her cheek. "No, I don't want her to go back. Wilhelmina . . . Where is she?"

    Wilhelmina started playing again, but quietly. "She goes for lessons in the mornings now. Sometimes she goes and sees friends."

    Daemon frowned, puzzled. "If she goes for lessons, surely your father or Alexandra or Leland had arranged—"

    "No."

    "But a maid must accompany her and would—"

    "No."

    As Daemon considered this, his hands slowly closed into fists. "She goes alone?" he finally said, keeping his voice carefully neutral.

    "Yes."

    "And your family doesn't know she goes at all?"

    "No, they mustn't know."

    "And you don't know where she goes or who gives her these lessons?"

    "No."

    "But if your family found out about the lessons or who's giving her lessons, they might put her back in the hospital?"

    Wilhelmina's chin quivered. "Yes."

    "I see." Oh, yes, he did see. Beware of the Priest. She belongs to the Priest. It was careless of him to forget so formidable a rival. But she did have an innocent way of dazzling a man. He'd forgotten about the Priest. Was she with him now? What could Saetan, one of the living dead, have to offer that was preferable to what he, a living man, could offer her? But then, she wasn't ready for what a man could offer. Would Saetan try to keep her away from him? If her family ever found out about the High Lord . . .

    There were too many undercurrents in this family, too many secrets. Alexandra balanced on a political knife's edge, trying to remain the ruling power of Chaillot while Robert's position in the male council that opposed her constantly undermined the trust she needed from the other Chaillot Queens. The rivalry between Robert and Philip was an open secret among the aristo Blood in Beldon Mor, and Alexandra's inability to control her own family was causing doubts about her ability to rule the Territory. Add to that the social embarrassment of having a granddaughter who had been going in and out of a hospital for emotionally disturbed children since she was five years old.

    And add to that having that same child admit that the High Lord of Hell, the Prince of the Darkness, the most powerful and dangerous Warlord Prince in the history of the Blood, was teaching her Craft.

    Even if they thought it was just another story, they would lock her away for good to keep her from telling anyone who might listen. But if, for once, they did believe her, what else might they do to her to end the High Lord's interest in her and keep themselves safe? And Daemon felt sure that there were things going on in Beldon Mor that Saetan wouldn't be willing to overlook or forgive.

    Daemon looked up and breathed a sigh of relief.

    Jaenelle stood in the doorway wearing riding clothes. Her golden hair was braided and a riding hat perched on top of her head at a rakish angle. "I'm going riding. Want to come?"

    "Oh, yes!" Wilhelmina said happily. "I'm done practicing."

    As he watched Wilhelmina dash out of the room, there was a bitter taste in Daemon's mouth. The ashes of dreams. After all, he was Hayll's Whore, a pleasure slave, an amusement for the ladies no matter what their age, a way to pass the time. He closed the music and made a pretense of straightening the stack. Why should he hope Jaenelle felt anything for him? Why should he hurt now like a child who's not picked for a game?

    Daemon turned. Jaenelle stood by the piano, studying him, a puzzled frown wrinkling her forehead.

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