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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(53) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan clamped his teeth tight against the nausea and pain. He stared at the bottle, hating it. "No. This is restitution."

    8 / Hell

    Hekatah stared at the large, ornate wooden chest and tapped the small piece of folded white paper against her chin.

    Beautifully decorated with precious woods and gold inlay, the chest reeked of wealth, a sharp reminder of the way she'd once lived and the kind of luxury she believed was her due.

    Using Craft, Hekatah probed the interior of the chest for the fifth time in an hour. Still nothing. Perhaps therewas nothing more.

    Opening the paper, she studied the elegant masculine script.

    Hekatah, Here is a token of my regard.

    Saetan

    Theremust be something more. This was just the wrapping, no matter how expensive. Perhaps Saetan had finally realized how much he needed her. Perhaps he was tired of playing the beneficent patriarch and ready to claim what he—what they—should have claimed so long ago. Perhaps his damnable honor had been sufficiently tarnished by playing with the girl-pet he'd acquired in Kaeleer to take Jaenelle's place.

    She'd savor those thoughts after she opened her present.

    The brass key was still in the envelope. She shook it into her hand, knelt by the chest, and opened the brass lock.

    Hekatah lifted the lid and frowned. Fragrant wood shavings filled the chest. She stared for a moment, then smiled indulgently. Packing, of course. With an excited little squeal, she plunged one hand into the shavings, rummaging for her gift.

    The first thing she pulled out was a hand.

    Dropping it, she scrambled away from the chest. Her throat worked convulsively as she stared at the hand now lying palm up, its fingers slightly curled. Finally curiosity overrode fear. On hands and knees, she inched forward.

    Porcelain or marble would have shattered on the stone floor.

    Flesh then.

    For a moment, she was grateful it was a normal-looking hand, not maimed or misshaped.

    Breathing harshly, Hekatah got to her feet and stared once more at the open chest. She waved her hand back and forth. Lifted by the Craft wind, the shavings spilled onto the floor.

    Another hand. Forearms. Upper arms. Feet. Lower legs. Upper legs. Genitals. Torso. And in the corner, staring at her with empty eyes, was Lord Menzar's head.

    Hekatah screamed, but even she couldn't say if it was from fear or rage. She stopped abruptly.

    One warning. That was all he ever gave. But why?

    Hekatah hugged herself and smiled. Through his work at the Halaway school, Menzar must have gotten a little too close to the High Lord's new choice little morsel.

    Then she sighed. Saetan could be so possessive. Since Menzar had been careless enough to provoke him into an execution, it was doubtful the girl would be allowed outside SaDiablo Hall without a handpicked escort. And she knew from experience that anyone handpicked by Saetan for a particular duty wasn't amenable to bribes of any kind. So ...

    Hekatah sighed again. It would take a fair amount of persuasion to convince Greer to slip into the Hall to see the High Lord's new pet.

    It was a good thing the girl whining in the next room was such a choice little tidbit.

    9 / Terreille

    Surreal strolled down the quiet, backwater street where no one asked questions. Men and women sat on front stoops, savoring the light breeze that made the sticky afternoon bearable. They didn't speak to her, and she, having spent two years of her childhood on a street like this, gave them the courtesy of walking by as if they weren't there.

    As she reached the building where she had a top-floor flat, Surreal noticed the eyes that met hers for a brief moment. She casually shifted the heavy carry-basket from her right hand to her left while she watched one man cross the street and approach her cautiously.

    Not the stiletto for this one, she decided. A slashing knife, if necessary. From the way he moved, he might still be healing from a deep wound on his left side. He'd try to protect it. But maybe not, if he was a Warlord experienced in fighting.

    The man stopped a body length away. "Lady."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire