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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(95) by Anne Bishop
  • The hallway felt like an oven.

    Daemon stared at the bed of witchblood in the alcove. Unable to sleep, he'd gone for a walk and had ended up here. The night air was cold and he'd forgotten his topcoat, but it felt good to be numbed by a cold that wasn't coming from within.

    Dorothea was looking for Jaenelle. It didn't matter if she was looking for her own reasons or at someone else's behest. Dorothea always tried to destroy strong young witches who might one day rival her power. Once she found out who and what Jaenelle was, she would use every weapon at her disposal to destroy the girl.

    Greer was sniffing around for information, which meant Dorothea wasn't certain that Jaenelle lived in Beldon Mor. But there was no reason to think that Greer's visit would be brief, and if he stayed around long enough, sooner or later he would overhear someone talking about Leland Benedict's eccentric, golden-haired daughter. And then?

    Have you taught her how to kill, Priest?Canyou teach her such a thing? She's so wise in her innocence, so innocent in her wisdom.

    He should have killed Greer instead of just crippling the hand that had slit Titian's throat. But the timing had been wrong, and even if she had had no proof, Dorothea would have suspected him. An oversight he still couldn't correct without drawing too much attention to this house. There was no place he could hide Jaenelle that would be safe enough, not with her propensity to wander, and he wasn't willing to give her to the Priest yet, even if she would go and stay away. Not yet.

    Daemon shook his head. The night was fleeing, and since he'd reached the alcove, he'd known what he had to do. If the offer had been made for him alone, there would have been no question about his answer. But it hadn't been made for him alone. He took a deep breath and sent a spear thread along the Ebon-gray.

    "Prick? Prick, can you hear me?"

    There was the sudden awareness of someone waking instantly from a light sleep. "Bastard?" A stirring, a focusing. "Bastard, what—"

    "Listen. There's not much time. Greer made me an offer today."

    "Greer?"Icy wariness. "Why?"

    "A friend of Dorothea's wants a favor." Daemon swallowed hard and shut his eyes tight. "One hundred years out of court service . . . for both of us . . . if I kill a child."

    The next words floated into Daemon's mind, venomously sweet. "Any child? Or one in particular?"

    Daemon looked down. His right hand was rubbing the scar on his left wrist. "A very special child. An extraordinary child."

    "And your answer was?"

    "I told you. The offer wasn't for me al—"

    "Where are you?"

    "Chaillot"

    A hiss of fury. "Listen to me, you son of a whoring bitch. If you accept that offer for my sake, the first thing I'll do is kill you."

    The first thing I'd do is let you.Daemon sank to his knees, shaking with relief. "Thank you."

    "What?" The waves of fury rolling through the thread stopped.

    "Thank you. I . . . had hoped . . . that would be your answer, but I had to ask." Daemon took a deep breath. "There's something else you should—"

    "The bitch is up. There's no time. Take care of her, Bastard. If you have to bleed everyone else dry, do it, but take care of her."

    Lucivar was gone.

    Daemon slowly got to his feet. He'd taken a tremendous risk contacting Lucivar. If they were caught communicating, a whipping would be the least of the punishments. He wasn't worried for himself. He was too far away from Hayll for Dorothea to detect it through her primary controlling ring, and he was confident of his ability to slide around Alexandra, who wore the secondary controlling ring. But Zuultah wasn't Alexandra, and Lucivar didn't always walk cautiously.

    Be careful, Prick,Daemon thought as he slowly walked back to the house.Be careful. In a few more years, Jaenelle would be of age. And then they would serve the kind of Queen they'd always dreamed of.

    He could have followed the Ebon-gray spear thread back to Lucivar to find out if Zuultah had detected their communication, but he didn't because he didn't want to know for certain that Zuultah was using the Ring. He didn't want to know that Lucivar was in pain.

    Daemon glanced up at the windows of the nursery wing. Not a glimmer of light. He wanted to slip up the stairs, slide into that small bed, and curl himself around her, warmed by the knowledge that she was alive and safe. Because if Lucivar was in pain . . .

    Daemon let himself into the house and went to his room. He undressed quickly and got into bed. His room was crowded with shadows, and as the sky lightened with the coming dawn, he kept wondering what the sun was witnessing in Pruul.

    3—Terreille

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire