• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 96)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(96) by Anne Bishop
  • Surreal unbuttoned her coat as she meandered down a path in the Angelline public gardens, a part of the estate that Alexandra Angelline had opened for the city's use. The gardens were one of the few places left in Beldon Mor where people could walk on grass or sit under a tree, and it seemed like all of the Blood aristos were there, enjoying one of the last warm days of autumn.

    Twenty years ago, when Surreal had come to the city to lend her reputation to Deje for the opening of the Red Moon house, there had been grass and trees aplenty. Now Beldon Mor was just a newer, cleaner version of Draega, thanks to the Hayllian ambassadors' skill at prostituting the council and leeching away the strength of the Blood.

    More than the landens of each race, the Blood needed to stay in touch with the land. Without that contact, it was too easy to forget that, according to their most ancient legends, they were created to be the caretakers. It was too easy to become embroiled in their own egos.

    Surreal walked along the garden paths, amused by the reactions to her presence. Young men on the strut watched her with calculated interest; young men walking with the ladies they were courting glanced at her and blushed while their companions hastily tugged them in a different direction; men who were making an obligatory public appearance with their wives stared straight ahead, while their wives looked from Surreal to their husbands' pale, tight-lipped faces and back to Surreal again. She ignored all of them, to the intense relief of her clients. Well, almost all. She did smile intimately at one Warlord who had treated a young whore very harshly a few nights ago and waggled her fingers at him in greeting before hurrying away, laughing quietly and wishing she could hear his blustering explanation.

    But that was enough fun. Time for business.

    Surreal continued her meandering, moving closer and closer to the wrought-iron fence that separated the private gardens from the public ones. Beneath her shirt she wore the Gray Jewel mounted in a gold setting that was an exact replica of Titian's Green Jewel. She'd been probing with the Gray since she entered the gardens, hoping she wouldn't get a flickering answer because that would mean Philip was nearby—and it wasn't Philip she was looking for.

    As she neared the fence, she sent the private signal Daemon had taught her so many years ago, the signal that told him she needed him. Then she turned away and continued exploring the smaller paths nearby.

    Maybe he wasn't at the house. Maybe he was but couldn't get away. Maybe he wouldn't answer the signal. She hadn't dared use it since the night she pushed him into showing her Hayll's Whore.

    She felt him before she saw him, coming up a path behind her. Turning, she headed toward him, pausing now and then to admire a late-blooming flower. The path was an offshoot, with less chance of someone seeing them, but even so, Surreal didn't want anyone asking questions. As she passed him, she pretended to stumble and turn her foot.

    "Damn," she said as Daemon held her arm to steady her. "Hold still a minute, would you, sugar?" She put a hand on his shoulder, leaned against him, and fiddled with her shoe. "There's someone looking for you." She felt him tense, saw the small ring of frost around his feet.

    "Oh? Why?"

    Still fiddling with her shoe, Surreal couldn't see his face, but she knew there would be nothing but a bored, slightly put-upon expression despite the silky chill in his voice.

    "She thinks you're interested in a child here, one, apparently, of great interest to her, one that Dorothea wants out of the way. If I were you, I'd watch my back. She didn't hire me for a contract, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been interviewing others who would be willing to have a try at you." She put her foot down and wobbled her ankle as if testing it.

    "Do you know who she is?"

    Surreal frowned and shook her head, still studying her shoe. "A witch staying at Cassandra's Altar. No way to tell how long she's been there. There are a couple of rooms fixed up. That's about it. I've stayed in worse places."

    Daemon kept his head turned away from her. "Thank you for the warning. Now if you'll ex—"

    "Prince? Prince, you must come and see."

    Surreal turned toward the sound of the girl's voice. It sounded like silk feels, she thought as the thin, golden-haired girl skipped around the bend and stopped in front of them, her smile warm, her eyes—eyes that seemed to shift color depending on the way the sunlight found its way through the leaves—full of high spirits and curiosity.

    "Hello," the girl said as she studied Surreal's face.

    "Lady," Surreal replied, trying to sound respectful and dignified, but she'd heard Sadi's exasperated sigh and wanted to laugh.

    "We should be getting back," Daemon said, moving to the girl's side and trying to turn her toward the private gardens.

    Surreal was about to slip away when she heard Daemon say, "Lady." The coaxing, pleading note in his voice rooted her to the path. She'd never heard him sound like that. She looked at the girl, who had planted her feet and refused to be turned.

    "Jaenelle," he said a bit desperately.

    Jaenelle ignored him as she studied Surreal's face and chest.

    That was when Surreal realized that the Gray Jewel had slipped out from under her shirt when she bent over to examine her shoe. She looked at Daemon, silently asking what she should do.

    As Daemon gently squeezed Jaenelle's shoulder to get her attention, Jaenelle said, "Are you Surreal?" When Surreal didn't answer, Jaenelle tipped her head back to look at Daemon. "Is she Surreal?"

    Daemon's face had a guarded, trapped look. He took a deep breath and released it, slowly. "Yes, she's Surreal."

    Jaenelle clasped her hands in front of her and smiled happily at Surreal. "I have a message for you."

    Surreal blinked, totally at a loss. "A message?"

    "Lady, just give her the message. We have to go," Daemon said, trying to put some strength into his words.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire