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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(49) by Anne Bishop
  • "All those Territories stand in Hayll's shadow. The Queens wouldn't dare deny you access to their lands."

    "The authority of the Queens ruling those Territories is weak as it is. We can't afford to undermine it."

    Dorothea turned away from him. He was right, damn him. But she had to get him to dosomething. "Then you leave me at the mercy of the Sadist," she said with a tearful quiver in her voice.

    'Wo, Priestess," Valrik said strenuously. "I've talked to the Masters of the Guard in all the neighboring Territories, made them aware of his bestial nature. They understand their own young are at risk. If they find him in their Territory, he won't get out alive."

    Dorothea spun around. "Inever gave you permission to kill him."

    "He's a Warlord Prince. It's the only way we'll—"

    "You must not kill him."

    Dorothea swayed, pleased when Valrik put his arms around her and guided her to a chair. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled his head down until their foreheads touched. "His death would have repercussions for all of us. He must be brought back to Hayll alive. You must at least supervise the search in the other Territories."

    Valrik hesitated, then sighed. "I can't. For your sake and the sake of Hayll ... I can't."

    A good man. Older, experienced, respected, honorable.

    Dorothea slid her right hand down his neck in a sensuous caress before driving her nails into his flesh and pumping all of her venom through the snake tooth.

    Valrik pulled back, shocked, his hand clamped against his neck. "Priestess .. ." His eyes glazed. He stumbled back a step.

    Dorothea daintily licked the blood from her fingers and smiled at him. "You said you would give your life for me. Now you have." She studied her nails, ignoring Valrik as he staggered out of the room, dying. Calling in a nail file, she smoothed a rough edge.

    A pity to lose such an excellent Master of the Guard and a bother to have to replace him. She vanished the nail file and smiled. But at least Valrik, by example, would teach his successor a very necessary lesson: too much honor could get a man killed.

    7 / Kaeleer

    Saetan balled the freshly ironed shirt in his hands, massaging it into a mass of wrinkles. He shook it out. grimly satisfied with the results, and slipped it on.

    He hated this. He had always hated this.

    His black trousers and tunic jacket received the same treatment as the shirt. As he buttoned the jacket, he smiled wryly. Just as well he'd insisted that Helene and the rest of the staff take the evening off. If his prim housekeeper saw him dressed like this, she'd consider it a personal insult.

    A strange thing, feelings. He was preparing for an execu-

    tion and all he felt was relief that his appearance wouldn't bruise his housekeeper's pride.

    No, not all. There was anger at the necessity and a simmering anxiety that, because of what he was about to do, he might look into sapphire eyes and see condemnation and disgust instead of warmth and love.

    But she was with Mephis in Amdarh. She'd never know about tonight.

    Saetan called in the cane he had put aside a few weeks ago.

    Of course Jaenelle would know. She was too astute not to understand the meaning behind Menzar's sudden disappearance. But what would she think of him? What would it mean to her?

    He had hoped—such a bittersweet thing!-—that he could live here quietly and not give people reason to remember too sharply who and what he was. He had hoped to be just a father raising a Queen daughter.

    It had never been that simple. Not for him.

    No one had ever asked him why he'd been willing to fight on Dhemlan Terreille's behalf when Hayll had threatened that quiet land all of those long centuries ago. Both sides had assumed that ambition had been the driving force within him. But what had driven him had been far more seductive and far simpler: he had wanted a place to call home.

    He had wanted land to care for, people to care for, children—his own and others—to fill his house with their laughter and exuberance. He had dreamed of a simple life where he would use his Craft to enrich, not destroy.

    But a Black-Jeweled, Black Widow Warlord Prince who was already called the High Lord of Hell couldn't slip into the quiet life of a small village. So he'd named a price worthy of his strength, built SaDiablo Hall in all three Realms, ruled with an iron will and a compassionate heart, and yearned for the day when he would meet a woman whose love for him was stronger than her fear of him.

    Instead, he had met and married Hekatah.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire