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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(37) by Anne Bishop
  • Mephis cleared his throat. "Telling the waif she has to leave isn't going to be easy. You don't have to do it alone."

    "Yes, I do, Mephis," Saetan replied wearily. "I made her a promise. I'm the one who has to tell her I'm going to break it."

    He said good night and slowly made his way through the stone corridors until he reached the stairs that would take him to Jaenelle's suite. Instead of climbing them, he leaned against the wall, shivering.

    He had promised her that she could stay. He hadpromised.

    But Lorn had decided.

    It was long after midnight before he joined her in the private garden connected to her suite. She gave him a sleepy, relaxed smile and held out her hand. Gratefully, he linked his fingers through hers.

    "It was a lovely party," Jaenelle said as they strolled through the garden. "I'm glad you invited Char and Titian." She hesitated. "And I'm sorry it was so difficult for Cassandra."

    Saetan gave her a considering look through narrowed eyes.

    She acknowledged the look with a shrug.

    "How much did you hear?"

    "Eavesdropping is rude," she said primly.

    "An answer that neatly sidesteps the question," he replied dryly.

    "I didn'thear anything. But Ifelt you all grumbling."

    Saetan drifted closer to her. She smelled of wildflowers and sun-drenched meadows and fern-shaded pools of water. It was a scent that was gently wild and elusive, that captivated a male because it didn't try to capture him.

    It relaxed him—and slightly aroused him.

    Even knowing it was a Warlord Prince's natural response to a Queen he felt emotionally bound to, even knowing he would never cross the distinct line that separated a father's affection from a lover's passion, he still felt ashamed of his reaction.

    He looked at her, wanting the sharp reminder of who she was and how young she was. But it was Witch who looked back at him, Witch whose hand tightened on his so that he couldn't break the physical link.

    "I suppose even a wise man can sometimes be a fool," she said in her midnight voice.

    "I would never—" His voice broke. "You know I would never—"

    He saw a flicker of amusement in her ancient, haunted eyes.

    "Yes, / know. Do you? You adore women, Saetan. You always have. You like to be near them. You like to touch them." She held up their hands.

    "This is different. You're my daughter."

    "And so you will keep your distance from Witch?" she asked sadly.

    He pulled her into his arms and held her so tightly she let out a breathless squeak. "Never," he said fiercely.

    "Papa?" Jaenelle said faintly. "Papa, I can't breathe."

    He immediately loosened his hold but didn't let go.

    Soft night sounds filled the garden. The spring wind sighed.

    "This mood of yours has something to do with Cassandra, doesn't it?" Jaenelle asked.

    "A little." He rested his cheek against her head. "We have to leave the Keep."

    Her body tensed so much his ached in response.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire