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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(175) by Anne Bishop
  • It wasn't what Lucivar meant, and they both knew it.

    "Why didn't you stop her? Why are you letting her risk herself?"

    Saetan bent his head, avoiding Lucivar's eyes. "Because she loves him. Because he reallyis her mate."

    Lucivar was silent for a minute. Then he sighed. "He always said he'd been born to be Witch's lover. Looks like he was right."

    2 / Terreille

    Surreal watched Daemon prowl the center of the overgrown maze and wondered how much longer she would be able to keep him here. He didn't trust her. She couldn't trust him. She'd found him about a mile from the ruins of SaDiablo Hall, weeping silently as he watched a house burn to the ground. She didn't ask about the burning house, or about the twenty freshly butchered Hayllian guards, or why he kept whispering Tersa's name over and over.

    She'd taken his hand, caught the Winds, and brought him here. Whoever had owned this estate had either abandoned it by choice or had been forced out or killed when Dhemlan Terreille had finally caved in to Hayll's domination. Now Hayllian guards used the manor house as a barracks for the troops who were teaching the Dhemlan people about the penalties of disobedience.

    Daemon had watched passively while she'd used illusion spells to fill in the gaps in the hedges that would lead to the center of themaze. He'd said nothing when she created a double Gray shield around their hiding place.

    His passive obedience had melted away when she called in the small web Jaenelle had given her and placed four drops of blood in its center to awaken it, turning it into a signal and a beacon.

    He'd started prowling after that, started smiling that cold, familiar, brutal smile while she waited. And waited. And waited.

    "Why don't you call your friends, Little Assassin?" Daemon said as he glided past the place where she sat with her knees up and her back against the hedge. "Don't you want to earn your pay?"

    "There's no pay, Daemon. We're waiting for a friend."

    "Of course we are," he said too softly as he made another circuit around the center of the maze. Then he stopped and looked at her, his gold eyes filled with a glazed, cold fire. "She liked you. She asked me to help you. Do you remember that?"

    "Who, Daemon?" Surreal asked quietly.

    "Tersa." His voice broke. "They burned the house Tersa had lived in with her little boy. She had a son, did you know that?"

    Hell's fire, Mother Night, and may the Darkness be merciful. "No, I didn't know that."

    Daemon nodded. "But that bitch Dorothea took him from her, and she went far, far away. And then that bitch put a Ring of Obedience on the little boy and trained him to be a pleasure slave. Took him into her bed and,. . ." Daemon shuddered. "You're blood of her blood."

    Surreal scrambled to her feet. "Daemon. I'm not like Dorothea. I don't acknowledge her as kin."

    Daemon bared his teeth. "Liar," he snarled. He took a step toward her, his right thumb flicking the ragged ring-finger nail. "Silky, court-trained liar." Another step. "Butchering whore."

    As he raised his right hand, Surreal saw a tiny, glistening drop fall from the needlelike nail under the regular nail. She dove to his left, calling in her stiletto as she fell. He was on her before she hit the ground. She screamed when he broke her right wrist. She screamed again when he clamped his left hand over both of her wrists, grinding bones.

    "Daemon,"she said, breathless and panicked as his right hand closed around her throat. "Daemon."

    Surreal gulped back a sob of relief at the sound of that familiar midnight voice.

    Hope and horror filled Daemon's eyes as he slowly raised his head. "Please," he whispered. "I never meant. . . .Please.'" He threw his head back, let out a heart-shattering cry, and collapsed.

    Using Craft, Surreal rolled him off her and sat up, cradling her broken wrist. Dizzy and nauseous, she closed her eyes as she felt Jaenelle approach. "I realize arriving a few seconds sooner would have made a less dramatic entrance, but I would've appreciated it more." "Let me see your wrist."

    Surreal looked up and gasped. "Hell's fire, what happened to you?"

    During the other times when Jaenelle's "shadow" had joined Surreal to search for Daemon, it had been impossible to guess she wasn't a living woman unless you tried to touch her. No one would mistake this transparent, wasted creature for something that walked the living Realms. But the sapphire eyes were still filled with their ancient fire, and the Black Jewels still glowed with untapped strength. Jaenelle shook her head and wrapped her hands around Surreal's wrist. A flash of numbing cold was followed by a steadily growing warmth. Surreal felt the bones shift and set.

    Jaenelle's transparent hands pulsed, fading and returning again and again! For a moment, she faded completely, her Black Jewels suspended as if waiting for her return.

    When she reappeared, her eyes were filled with pain and she panted as if she couldn't draw a full breath.

    "Collapsing," Jaenelle gasped. "Not now. Notyet." Her transparent body convulsed. "Surreal, I can't finish the healing. The bones are set, but . . ." A tooled, leather wristband hovered in the air. Jaenelle slipped it over Surreal's wrist and snapped it shut. "That will help support it until it heals."

    Surreal's left forefinger traced the stag head set in a circle of flowering vines—the same stag that was a symbol for Titian's kin, the Dea al Mon.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire