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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(151) by Anne Bishop
  • Jorval sulked.

    Tightening her hold on her temper a little more, Hekatah altered her voice to sound hesitant. "There are reasons for caution, Jorval. Perhaps you remember a colleague of mine." She curled her hands until they looked like twisted claws.

    Jorval abandoned his sulk. "I remember him. He was most helpful. I'd hoped he would return." When Hekatah said nothing, he took an unsteady breath. "What happened to him?"

    "The High Lord happened to him," Hekatah replied. "He made the mistake of drawing attention to himself. No one has seen him since."

    "I see."

    Yes, finally, hewas beginning to see.

    Hekatah leaned forward and stroked Jorval’s hand. "Sometimes the duties and responsibilities of power require sacrifices, Lord Jorval." When he didn't protest, she hid a triumphant smile. "Now, if you were to arrange a marriage for Jaenelle Angelline with the son of a man you felt comfortable working with—a handsome, controllable son—"

    "How would that help me?" Jorval demanded.

    Hekatah stifled her irritation. "The father would advise the son on the policies and changes that should be implemented in Kaeleer—changes that, at Jaenelle's insistence, would be accepted. A great many decisions are made during pillow talk, as I'm sure you know."

    "And how would that help me?" Jorval demanded again.

    "Just as the son follows the advice of the father, so the father follows the advice of his friend—who just happens to be the only source for the tonic that keeps the Lady so hungry for the son's attentions that she'll agree to anything."

    "Ah." Jorval stroked his chin. "Aahhh."

    "And if, for some reason, the High Lord or some other member of the family"—the flicker of fear in Jorval's eyes told her he'd already had a close brush with Lucivar Yaslana's temper—"should react badly, well, finding another hot, handsome boy would be easy enough, but finding strong, intelligent men to guide the Realm ..." Hekatah spread her hands and shrugged.

    Jorval considered her words for several minutes. Hekatah waited patiently. As much as he might want the hot sexual fantasy, Jorval wanted power—or the illusion of power— much more.

    "Lady Angelline will be coming to Little Terreille in two weeks. And I do have a ... friend . . . with a suitable offspring. However, getting Lady Angelline to agree to the marriage . . ."

    Hekatah called in a small bottle and set it on the table. "Lady Angelline is well-known for her compassion and her healing abilities. If, by some terrible accident, a child were injured, I'm sure she could be prevailed upon to do the healing. If the injuries were life threatening, the power expended for a full healing would leave her physically and mentally exhausted. Then, if someone she trusted were to offer her a relaxing glass of wine, she would probably be too tired to test it. The wedding would, regrettably, have to be a small, quiet affair that would take place shortly afterward. Between the fatigue and this brew mixed with the wine, she would be compliant anything to say what she was told to say and sign what she was told to sign.

    "The young couple would stay at the wedding feast for a short time before retreating to their room to consummate the marriage."

    Jorval's nostrils flared. "I see."

    Hekatah called in a second bottle. "The proper dose of this aphrodisiac, slipped into her wine during the wedding toast, will make her hungry for her new husband." Jorval licked his lips.

    "The next morning, the second dose must be given. This is very important because her hunger must be strong enough to override the High Lord's desire for an interview with her husband. By the time she's ready to release the boy from his conjugal duties, the High Lord won't be able to deny or object to the attachment without looking like a tyrant or a jealous fool." Hekatah paused, not pleased with the way Jorval was eyeing those bottles. "And the wise man guiding this affair will never be suspected—unless he calls attention to himself."

    With visible effort, Jorval put his fantasies aside. He carefully vanished the bottles. "I'll be in touch."

    "There's no need," Hekatah said a little too quickly. "Knowing I could help is enough. I'll let you know where, and when, to pick up the next supply of the aphrodisiac." Jorval bowed and left.

    Hekatah sat back, exhausted. Jorval was ignorant of, or chose to ignore, the common courtesies. He'd brought no refreshment and had offered none. Probably thought he was too important. And he was, damn him. Right now he was too important to her plans for her to insist on the amenities. However, once the little bitch was sufficiently cut off from Saetan, she would be able to eliminate Jorval.

    Two weeks. That would give her enough time to complete the rest of her plan and set the trap that would, with luck, get rid of a half-breed Eyrien Warlord Prince as well.

    2 / Kaeleer

    Something felt wrong.

    Lucivar set the armload of wood into the box by the kitchen hearth.

    Very wrong.

    Straightening up, he made a sweeping psychic probe of the area, using Luthvian's house as the center point.

    Nothing. But the feeling didn't go away.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire