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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 88)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(88) by Anne Bishop
  • "Yes, but they don't listen to him, do they?"

    Daemon kept quiet, trying to steady his breathing.

    "He's Blood, Daemon, but just a little. Not enough to be kindred, but too much to be . . ." Jaenelle made a small gesture with her hand that took in the mare and the ponies.

    Daemon licked his lips, but his mouth was too dry. He remembered Cook's story about the dogs. "What do you mean, kindred?"

    "Blood, but not the same. Blood, but not human. Kindred is . . . like but not like."

    Daemon looked up. A few fluffy clouds floated in the deep blue autumn sky, and the sun shone down with its last warmth. No, the physical day hadn't changed. That's not what made him shiver. "He's half-Blood," he finally said, reluctant to know the truth. "Half Blood, half landen, forever caught in between."

    "Yes."

    "But you can understand him, talk to him?"

    "I listen to him." Jaenelle urged Dancer into a trot.

    Daemon held the mare back and watched the girl and horse circle the field. "Damn." It hurt. Dark Dancer was a Brother, and knowing that hurt worse than knowing about the human half-Bloods Daemon had seen over the years who were too strong, too driven, and too aching with an unanswered need to fit into the life of a landen village yet were still left standing on the other side of a great psychic ravine from where the weakest of the Blood stood because they weren't strong enough to cross over. But humans could at least talk to other humans. Who did this four-footed Brother have? No wonder he took such care with her.

    Suddenly Jaenelle and Dancer hurtled toward Andrew as he flung himself off the pony and frantically adjusted the stirrups. Daemon put his heels into the mare and galloped over to join them.

    "Andrew—"

    "Hurry! Get Dancer's stirrups down!"

    Daemon dropped the mare's reins and hurried over to the stallion. "Easy, Dancer," he said, stroking the horse's neck before reaching for the stirrups.

    "Miss Jaenelle." Andrew grabbed her by the waist and tossed her up onto the pony. He turned in a circle, his eyes sweeping the ground. "Your hat. Damn it, your hat."

    "Here." Jaenelle held the hat up and put it on her head. Her hair still flowed down her back, tangled by her ride.

    Wilhelmina glanced at Jaenelle, all the color gone from her face. "Graff's going to be mad when she sees your hair."

    "Graff is a bitch," Jaenelle snapped, her eyes on the path where it took a bend through some trees.

    The ponies must be mares, Daemon thought as he adjusted the stirrups. All the males had flinched at the knife-edge in her voice.

    "That's it," Andrew said, sliding under Dancer's neck. "Stay on the mare. There's no time to do more." He mounted, gathered the reins, and started walking forward. The stallion was furious, and showed it, but kept moving toward the path. Wilhelmina followed behind Andrew, trying to calm the nervous pony and only upsetting it more.

    Daemon mounted, started forward, and then stopped. Jaenelle sat perfectly still, her eyes fixed on the bend in the path. Pain and anger filled those eyes, a hurt that went so deep he knew he had no magic to help her. Beneath the childish features was an ancient face that seared him, froze him, wrapped silk chains around his heart.

    He blinked away tears, and there was Miss Jaenelle with her childish face and her not-too-intelligent summer-sky blue eyes. She gave him a little-girl smile and urged her pony to a trot just as Philip and Leland rounded the bend and stopped.

    Across the field, Philip stared first at Daemon, then at Jaenelle. He said nothing when they reached the group, but he maneuvered his horse so that Jaenelle was riding beside him all the way back to the stable.

    * * *

    Daemon fastened the ruby cuff links onto his shirt and reached for his dinner jacket. He hadn't had a moment to himself since leaving the stable that morning. First Leland had needed an escort for an extended shopping trip on which she'd bought nothing, then Alexandra suddenly decided to visit an art gallery, and finally Philip insisted they needed to go over invitation by boring invitation all the possible social functions Daemon might have to escort Leland or Alexandra to.

    Something in the field this morning had made them all nervous, something that had swirled and crackled like mist and lightning. They wanted to blame him, wanted to believe he'd done something to upset the girls, wanted to believe that the scent of the restrained violence was male and not female in origin. More than that, they wanted to believe they weren't the cause of it, and that was possible only if he was the source. Ladies like to seem mysterious.

    Not Lady Jaenelle Benedict. She didn't try to be mysterious, she simply was. She walked in full sunlight shrouded in a midnight mist that swirled around her, hiding, revealing, tantalizing, frightening. Her honesty had been blunted by punishment. Perhaps that was for the best. She was good at dissembling, had some understanding about her family's reaction if they learned some of the truths about her, and yet she couldn't dissemble enough because she cared.

    How many people knew about her? Daemon wondered as he brushed his hair. How many people looked upon her as their secret?

    All the stable lads as well as Guinness knew she rode Dark Dancer.

    But Philip, Alexandra, Leland, Robert, and Graff didn't know.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire