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  • Dreams Made Flesh(Black Jewels,Book 5)(90) by Anne Bishop
  • "Will you pay it?"

    That odd look crept into Saetan's eyes again. "Yes, I'll pay it. And it will be the last thing Zuulaman ever gets from me that isn't paid for in blood."

    4

    Hekatah watched the children on the beach, laughing and shouting as they played some incomprehensible game. Whelps from a pissant race that thought it was Hayll's equal, that it couldever be Hayll's equal. But Zuulaman had its uses. Through them, several of Hayll's Hundred Families, including her own, would have their wealth replenished as soon as…

    The bastard hadn't signed the agreements yet. And he should have.He should have. As soon as he'd been toldshe was being held, he should have abandoned the pretense of caring about the welfare of the Dhemlan people and signed the agreements. After all, she was hiswife. She'd given him children.

    A door opened, and the wailing that had been muffled by stout wood stabbed at her.

    "The baby is crying," her aunt said as she entered the room.

    As if it was necessary to tell her that when she could hear him clearly enough. "He'll stop."

    "He's hungry."

    Hekatah turned to look at the woman. It had been sensible to bring another family member with her, but she regretted letting her mother talk her into bringing this one. Divorced because she was barren and her husband had wanted to sire children the Families would acknowledge socially, this aunt still craved having a child of her own and was always eager to help any woman in the family take care of a baby.

    Weak fool. Children were a bargaining chip, tools to achieve a goal. But once you granted the sire paternal rights, you had to wait centuries before the child was old enough to be really useful again. Of course, the existence of Mephis and Peyton had held her marriage together, had continued to supply her withsome kind of income because as long as she remained married to Saetan he would make financial provisions for her.

    But not enough. She'd expected to be the High Priestess of Dhemlan, with all the honor and rewards that came with being the leader of the Priestess caste. Sheshould have been. If Saetan had balls for anything but the bed, he would have insisted that she be granted the title and the authority because she was his wife.

    She wasn't anything in Dhemlanbut his wife and a Red-Jeweled Priestess from Hayll, given the courtesy due her Jewels and caste but not accepted enough to hold some position of authority.

    That would change. She'd make sure of it.

    "The baby is hungry," her aunt said again.

    Who cared if the brat starved or not?

    Saetan would. He'd rather play with the boys than attend an important social function with her. Oh, he was always willing to escort her to functions, always presented her with the invitations that came from the Dhemlan courts and let her choose which ones she wanted to attend. But he preferred the boys' company to hers most of the time.

    The bastard should have signed the agreements by now, but he valued his honor more than his wife.

    He would have to be punished for that.

    "Hekatah? Aren't you going to do something about the baby?"

    She stared at her aunt, but in her mind she pictured the man she had married.

    The solution was so simple. The agreements would be signed in no time.

    All she had to do was break Saetan's heart.

    5

    The Hall still trembled from the explosive slamming of the door. Still echoed with the sibilant whisper of Black shields locking into place around the massive structure. Usually, there was no sound made when a shield was formed or triggered. He'd added that sibilance as a bit of flash and glitter, as a way to remind anyone who challenged him that he wasn't quite like them. Oh, he was Blood, yes, but not quite like them. Not since he'd made the Offering to the Darkness and walked away wearing Jewels no man had ever worn in the history of the Blood. Or maybe he'd never been quite like the rest of them, and that'swhy he wore the Black.

    His hand wasn't steady as he held up the small, ornately carved box. He couldn't stop the tremors going through his body, a reaction to the shock. But his feelings were numbed by exquisitely brutal pain. He felt nothing except awareness that the pain had shoved him to the edge of a precipice. He knew the landscape beyond it. No trained Black Widow feared the misted, twisting roads so close to that edge. They learned how to stray over that border, walk those roads…and come back. But he held on to the precipice and, by doing so, held on to the self-control that leashed everything he was.

    "Did they tell you what was in the box before they sent you here, Ambassador?" Saetan asked. His voice, soft thunder, rolled through his study and over the man trying hard not to show fear.

    "No," the Ambassador said, licking dry lips. "I was told to bring it to you immediately. That was all."

    "Do you know what is in this box?"

    The Ambassador shook his head. "I thought, judging from the size, it was a trinket of some kind, something your wife had worn to confirm she was a guest of the Zuulaman Queens. A ring, perhaps, or a pendant. Maybe a…"

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire