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  • Dreams Made Flesh(Black Jewels,Book 5)(102) by Anne Bishop
  • "A ring worthy of a lifetime."

    Banard called in a velvet-lined ring case. Brass rings marched in neat rows from the largest, which would fit a man twice Daemon's size, to the smallest, which looked like it would fit only a small child.

    "I made the rings for the Lady's Court," Banard said, his fingers moving above the rows of brass rings. "If I remember correctly…" He selected a ring and held it out.

    Daemon slipped it on his finger. A perfect fit. Just as the Consort's Ring had been a perfect fit.

    He removed the ring and gave it back to Banard, who returned the ring to its place and vanished the case.

    "As for the other…"

    Banard broke off as the shop's door opened and a woman stepped inside. She smiled at them, then moved to the display case that contained brooches.

    "I'll give the matter some thought," Banard continued quietly. "Make a few sketches for you to look at the next time you're in Amdarh. Would that be sufficient?"

    "That would be fine," Daemon replied, working to keep his voice from turning into a snarl. Something in the air. Something that honed his temper.

    He turned his head and studied the woman. A lighter-Jeweled witch. Who was cloaked in an illusion spell. The kind of spell that could only be made through the Hourglass's Craft.That's what he sensed. But there was nothing… enhanced… about her appearance. She was attractive but hardly stunning. Perhaps she was disfigured in some way, from accident or illness. There were some things even the best Healer couldn't fix completely, so an illusion spell was sometimes used to hide a disfigurement.

    Wondering if she had come from Terreille, and knowing the cruel and terrible things Dorothea and her followers had done to people, he felt a moment's pity for her and was glad the illusion spell gave her the courage to go out in the world.

    "There is one thing I can show you," Banard said. "I just finished it yesterday." He retreated behind the curtain that shielded his workroom and the private showrooms, then returned quickly with a piece of folded black velvet. He set the cloth on the counter and revealed its contents.

    Daemon picked up the bracelet. It was a double strand of white and yellow gold set with precious and semiprecious gems that matched the colors of the Jewels from the Rose to the Black.

    "It's beautiful," Daemon said. And so appropriate since it reflected every color that made up Twilight's Dawn, the Jewel Jaenelle now wore. "A special gift for a special Lady."

    "I was hoping you would think so," Banard said.

    Grinning, he set it back on the velvet. "Wrap it up, and I'll take it with me."

    "Oh. May I see it?"

    The woman was standing near him, focused on the bracelet. There was a greediness in her eyes that made him want to lash out, to sweep the bracelet out of sight. But he thought of the illusion spell and the reasons she might have paid a Black Widow to create one. Beauty of any kind might be a new discovery for her.

    He forced himself to step aside so she could get a better look at the bracelet, but he rested his hand on the counter close to the velvet, a subtle claim and a warning that she could look but not touch.

    After a long study, she smiled and moved back to the counter with the brooches.

    Wrapping the velvet around the bracelet, Daemon vanished it, promised to return in a fortnight, and turned to leave the shop. At the door, he looked back at the woman, but her attention was on the brooches, not on him. Shrugging off his uneasiness as a reaction to living in Terreille for most of his life, he headed back to the family town house, where he and Marcus would share a midday meal before getting down to business.

    A few minutes later, Roxie left Banard's shop with a brooch safely tucked in her small carry bag. She strolled down the street, stopping to look into store windows, until she reached the horse-drawn cab waiting by the curb. As soon as she scrambled inside, the driver pulled into the stream of horse-drawn conveyances and Craft-powered coaches. "Well?" Lektra demanded, twisting a curl around her finger. "I think he noticed the illusion spell," Roxie said, feeling a little breathless now that their plan was truly in motion.

    "Doesn't matter," Lektra replied. "There are plenty of reasons why people pay for illusion spells to change their looks. Besides, I was assured sensing an illusion spell isn't the same as seeing beneath it."

    Lektra was the niece of a Queen who ruled a two-village District in Dhemlan, so she was known to many of the aristo Blood in Amdarh and couldn't afford to draw attention to herself right now…not if their plan was going to work. That was why Roxie had volunteered to get the information they needed. But Lektra had come up with the idea of paying a Black Widow to create the illusion spell so Roxie, a Rihlander originally from Ebon Rih, would look like a Dhemlan witch.

    "I bought this," Roxie said, taking the brooch out of her carry bag.

    "This will do nicely," Lektra said as she examined the brooch. "It's certainly pretty, and, most important, it has Banard's mark on the back."

    "There were prettier ones," Roxie said.

    "What do you care? You're not going to wear it."

    "But…" Even if it wasn't the one she would have chosen if she could have spent anything she wanted, she'd still expected to keep it. After all, it was a brooch by Banard…something she could never afford for herself.

    "What was Daemon doing there? What was he buying?"

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire