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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(42) by Anne Bishop
  • "But you're probably not aware of what is considered fashionable for a young woman these days." It wasn't quite a question.

    "If that's your way of telling me that Jaenelle looks like she got her wardrobe from an attic, then you're right. I think the Seneschal of the Keep opened every old trunk that was left there and let my wayward child pick and choose." It was a small subject, a safe subject. He became happily grumpy. "I wouldn't mind so much if any of them fit—that's not true, Iwould mind. She should have new clothes."

    "Then why don't you take her shopping in Amdarh, or one of the nearby towns, or even Halaway?"

    "Do you think I haven't tried?" he growled.

    Sylvia made no comment for several moments. "I have two sons. They're very good boys—for boys—but they're not much fun to go shopping with." She gave him a twin-

    cling little smile. "Perhaps if it was just two women having lunch and then looking around ..."

    Saetan called in a leather wallet and handed it to Sylvia. "Is that enough?"

    Sylvia opened the wallet, riffled through the gold marks, and laughed. "I think we can get a decent wardrobe or three out of this."

    He liked her laugh, liked the finely etched lines around her eyes. "You'll spend some of that on yourself, of course."

    Sylvia gave him her best Queen stare. "I didn't suggest this with the expectation of being paid for helping a young Sister."

    "I didn't offer it as payment, but if you feel uncomfortable about using some of it to please yourself, then do it to please me." He watched her expression change from anger to uneasiness, and he wondered who the fool had been who had made her unhappy. "Besides," he added gently, "you should set a proper example."

    Sylvia vanished the wallet and stood up. "I will, naturally, provide you with receipts for all of the purchases."

    "Naturally."

    Saetan escorted her to the great hall. Taking her cape from Beale, he settled it carefully over her shoulders.

    As they slowly walked to the door, Sylvia studied the carved wooden moldings that ran along the top of each wall. "I've only been here half a dozen times, if that. I never noticed the carvings before.

    "Whoever carved these was very talented," she said. "Did he also make the sketches for all these creatures?"

    "No." He heard the defensiveness in his voice and winced.

    "You made the sketches." She studied the carvings with more interest, then muffled a laugh. "I think the wood-carver played a little with one of your sketches, High Lord. That little beastie has his eyes crossed and is sticking his tongue out—and he's placed just about where someone would stop after walking in. Apparently the beastie doesn't think much of your guests." She paused and studied him with as much interest as she'd just given the carving. "The woodcarver didn't play with your sketch, did he?"

    Saetan felt his face heat. He bit back a growl. "No."

    "I see," Sylvia said after a long moment. "It's been an interesting evening, High Lord."

    Not sure how to interpret that remark, he escorted her into her carriage with a bit more haste than was proper.

    When he could no longer hear the carriage wheels, he turned toward the open front door, wishing he could postpone the next conversation. But Jaenelle was more attuned to him during the dark hours, more revealing when hidden in shadows, more—

    The sound snapped his thoughts. Holding his breath, Saetan looked toward the north woods that bordered the Hall's lawns and formal gardens. He waited, but the sound didn't come again.

    "Did you hear it?" he asked Beale when he reached the door.

    "Hear what, High Lord?"

    Saetan shook his head. "Nothing. Probably a village dog strayed too far from home."

    She was still awake, walking in the garden below her rooms.

    Saetan drifted toward the waterfall and small pool in the center of the garden, letting her feel his presence without intruding on her silence. It was a good place to talk because the lights from her rooms on the second floor didn't quite reach the pool.

    He settled comfortably on the edge of the pool and let the peace of a soft, early summer night and the murmur of water soothe him. While he waited for her, he idly stirred the water with his fingers and smiled.

    He'd told her to landscape this inner garden for her own pleasure. The formal fountain had been the first thing to go. As he studied the water lilies, water celery, and dwarf cattails she'd planted in the pool and the ferns she'd planted around it, he wondered again if she had just wanted something that looked more natural or if she had been trying to re-create a place she had known.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire