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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(160) by Anne Bishop
  • Tears flowed down her face. Blood dribbled down her chin from the bite in her lower lip. She gulped air and shuddered. "I'm so tired, Lucivar. But it grabs me and . . ."

    Her muscles tightened until her body shook from the tension. Her back arched. The cords in her neck stood out. She sucked air through clenched teeth. The sledgehammer's handle snapped in her hands.

    Lucivar waited, not daring to touch her while her muscles were tight enough to snap. It didn't last more than a couple of minutes. It felt like hours. When it finally passed, her body sagged and she began crying so hard he thought it would tear him apart.

    She didn't fight him when he put his arms around her, so he held her, rocked her, and let her cry herself out.

    He felt the sexual tension rising as soon as she stopped crying, but he held on. If he was reading the intensity correctly, she was over the worst of it now.

    After several minutes, she relaxed enough to rest her head on his shoulder. "Lucivar?"

    "Mmm?"

    "I'm hungry."

    His heart sang. "Then I'll feed you."

    "Fire?"

    Jaenelle's head snapped up. She stared at the wolf standing at the edge of the clearing. "Why does he want to build a fire?"

    "Damned if I know why he wants one. But if we did build one, I could make some laced coffee."

    Jaenelle pondered this for a while. "You make good laced coffee."

    Taking that for a "yes," Lucivar led Jaenelle to the other side of the clearing while Smoke started searching the debris for pieces of wood big enough to use for fuel.

    Lucivar called in the food pack, flask, and sleeping bag he'd left by the creek. Jaenelle wandered from one side of the clearing to the other, nibbling the sandwich he'd given her. He kept an eye on her as he built the fire, called in the rest of their gear, and made camp. She seemed restless but not uncontrollably driven, which was good since they were losing the light and the day's warmth.

    By the time he had the whisky-laced coffee ready, Jaenelle was tucked in her sleeping bag, shivering, eagerly reaching for the cup he handed her. He didn't suggest that she put on another layer of clothes. As long as she focused on the fire being the source of warmth, she'd be reluctant to wander away from it until morning.

    He was rummaging through the food pack, looking for something else he could offer her to eat, when he heard a delicate snore.

    After more than two days of unrelenting movement, Jaenelle slept.

    Lucivar closed her sleeping bag and added a warming spell to keep her comfortable as the temperature dropped throughout the night. He pulled the coffeepot away from the heat and added more wood to the fire. Then he pulled off his boots and settled into his sleeping bag.

    He should put a protective shield around the camp. He doubted a four-footed predator would want what was left in the food pack enough to challenge the combined scents of human and wolf, but they were on the northern border of Ebon Rih and uncomfortably close to Jhinka territory. The last thing Jaenelle needed right now was being jolted awake by a Jhinka hunting party's surprise attack.

    Lucivar was sound asleep before he finished the thought.

    6 / Hell

    Resigned to the intrusion, Saetan settled back in one of the chairs by the fire and poured two glasses of yarbarah. He'd decided to spend some time in his private study beneath the Hall because he hadn't wanted to deal with any more frightened, clamoring minds—not after the past twenty-four hours. But Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince or not, High

    Lord or not, a man didn't refuse a Dea al Mon Queen when she asked for an audience—especially when she was also a demon-dead Harpy.

    "What can I do for you, Titian?" he asked politely, handing her a glass of the warmed blood wine.

    Titian accepted the glass and sipped delicately, her large blue eyes never looking away from his gold ones. "You've made the citizens of Hell very nervous. This is the first time, in all the centuries you've been the High Lord, that you've purged the Dark Realm."

    "I rule Hell. I can do as I please here," Saetan said mildly. Even a fool could have heard the warning under the mild tone.

    Titian hooked her long, fine, silver hair behind her pointed ear and chose to ignore the warning. "Do as you please or do what you must? It didn't escape the notice of the observant that the Dark Priestess's followers were the only ones consumed in this purge."

    "Really?" He sounded politely interested. In truth, he felt relieved the connection had been made. Not only would the rest of the demon-dead relax once they realized his choice of who had been hurried to the final death was based on a specific allegiance, anyone Hekatah approached in the future would think long and hard about the cost of such allegiance. "Since you've no personal concern, why are you here?"

    "You missed a few. I thought you should know."

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