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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(127) by Anne Bishop
  • By the time he drained his fourth glass, he was still shaking, but he also felt fuzzy and numb. He liked fuzzy and numb.

    "What did you do to Lucivar?" Jaenelle asked, dropping the book on the table. "I thought I was the only one who made him look like that." "

    "Fuzzy and numb," Lucivar murmured, resting his head against her.

    "So I see," Jaenelle replied, petting him.

    A soft warmth surrounded him. That felt nice, too.

    "Come on, Lucivar," Jaenelle said. "Let's tuck you into a bed."

    He didn't want her to think four paltry glasses of whiskey could put him under the table, so he stood up.

    The last things he clearly remembered seeing before the room began moving in unpredictable ways were Geoffrey's gentle smile and the understanding in Jaenelle's eyes.

    4 / Kaeleer

    Jaenelle was gone before he woke the next morning, leaving him to deal with a throbbing head and the emotional upheaval on his own. When he'd found out she'd left him at the Keep, he'd come close to hating her, silently accusing her of being cold, cruel, and unfeeling.

    He spent the two days she was gone exploring the Keep and the mountain called Ebon Askavi. He returned for meals because he was expected to, spoke only when required, and retreated to his room each evening. The wolves offered silent company. He petted and brushed them and, finally, asked the question that had bothered him.

    Yes, Smoke told him reluctantly, Lucivar had cried. Heart pain. Caught-in-a-trap pain. The Lady had petted and petted, sung and sung.

    It had been more than a dream, then.

    In one of the dreamscapes Black Widows spun so well, Jaenelle had met the boy he had been and had drawn the poison from the soul wound. He had wept for the boy, for the things he hadn't been allowed to do, for the things he hadn't been allowed to be. But he didn't weep for the man he'd become. "Ah, Lucivar," she'd said regretfully as they'd walked through the dreamscape. "I can heal the scars on your body, but I can't heal the scars of the soul. Not yours, not mine. You have to learn to live with them. You have to choose to live beyond them."

    He couldn't remember anything else in the dream. Perhaps he wasn't meant to. But because of it, he didn't weep for the man he'd become.

    Lucivar and Jaenelle stood on the wall of one of the Keep's outer courtyards, looking out over the valley.

    Jaenelle pointed to the village below them. "Riada is the largest village in Ebon Rih. Agio is at the northern end of the valley. Doun is at the southern end. There are also several landen villages and a number of independent farmsteads, Blood and landen." She brushed stray hairs from her face. "Outside of Doun, there's a large stone house. The property's surrounded by a stone wall. You can't miss it."

    He waited. "Is that where we're going?" he finally asked.

    "I'm going back to the cabin. You're going to that house."

    "Why?"

    She kept her eyes fixed on the valley. "Your mother lives there."

    A large, three-story, stone house. A low stone wall separating two acres of tended land from the wildflowers and grasses. Vegetable garden, herb garden, flower gardens", rock garden. In one corner, a stand of trees that whispered, "forest."

    A solid place that should have welcomed. A place that gave no comfort. Conflicting emotions too familiar, even after all this time.

    Sweet Darkness, don't let it be her.

    Of course, it was her. And he wondered why she had abandoned him when he was so young he couldn't remember her and then tolerated his visits as a youth without ever once hinting that she was his mother.

    He pushed the kitchen door wide open but remained outside. Until he crossed the threshold, she wouldn't realize he was there. How many times had he suggested that she extend her territorial shield a few feet beyond the stone walls she lived in so she'd have some warning of an intruder? One time less than she'd rejected the suggestion.

    Her back was to the door as she fussed with something on the counter. He recognized her anyway by that distinctive white streak in her black hair and the stiff, angry way she always moved.

    He stepped into the kitchen. "Hello, Luthvian."

    She whirled around, a long-bladed kitchen knife in her hand. He knew it wasn't personal. She'd caught the psychic scent of a grown male and had reached automatically for a knife.

    She stared at him, her gold eyes growing wider and wider, filming with tears. "Lucivar," she whispered. She took a step toward him. Then another. She made a funny little sound between a laugh and a sob. "She did it. She actually did it." She reached for him.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire