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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(67) by Anne Bishop
  • The tears spilled down Jaenelle's cheeks. "How could you let that bitch do that to you?" she screamed at him.

    "Do what?" he snapped, failing to keep his frustration in check.

    "How could you let her look at you like . . . force you . . ."

    "force me?How in the name of Hell do you think that child could force me to do anything?"

    "There are ways!"

    "What ways? No one was ever stupid enough to try to force me even before I made the Offering, let alone since I began wearing the Black."

    Jaenelle faltered.

    "Listen to me, witch-child. Roxie is a young woman who's recently had her first sexual experience. Right now she thinks she owns the world and every male who looks at her will want to be her lover. In my younger years, I was a consort in a number of courts. I understand the game older, experienced men are expected to play. We'resupposed to let girls practice on us because we have no interest in warming their beds. By our approval or disapproval, we help them understand how a man thinks and feels." He raked his fingers through his hair. "Although, I'll grant you, Roxie's a bit of a cunt."

    Jaenelle scrubbed the tears from her face. "Then you didn't mind?"

    Saetan sighed. "The truth? While listening to her giggling crudities, I was giving myself immense pleasure imagining what it would be like to hear her bones snapping."

    "Oh."

    "Come here, witch-child." He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight while he rested his cheek on her head. "Who were you really angry for, Jaenelle? Who were you trying to protect?"

    "I don't know. I sort of remember someone who had to submit to women like Roxie. It hurt him, and he hated it. It's not even a memory. More like a feeling because I can't recall who or where or why I would have known someone like that."

    Which explained why she hadn't asked about Daemon. He was too entwined with the trauma that had cost her two years of her life, a trauma she'd locked away somewhere inside her. And all her memories of Daemon were locked away with it.

    Saetan asked himself, again, if he shouldn't tell her what had happened. But he could only tell her a small part of it. He couldn't tell her who had raped her because he still didn't know. And he couldn't tell her what had happened between her and Daemon while they were in the abyss.

    And the truth was he was afraid to tell her anything at all.

    "Let's go home, witch-child," he whispered into her hair. "Let's go home and explore the attics."

    Jaenelle laughed shakily. "How will we explain this' to Helene?"

    Saetan groaned. "I'm supposed to own the Hall, you know. Besides, it's very large and has a lot of rooms. If we're lucky, it'll take her a while to figure it out."

    Jaenelle stepped back. "Race you home," she said, and vanished.

    Saetan hesitated. He took a long look at the meadow with its wildflowers and the mountains in the distance.

    He would give it a little while longer before he began searching for Daemon Sadi.

    2 / Kaeleer

    Greer crept behind the row of junipers that bordered one side of the lawn behind SaDiablo Hall. The sun was almost up. If he didn't get to the south tower before the gardeners began scurrying about, he'd have to hide in the woods again. He might be demon-dead now, but he'd spent his life in cities. The rustling quiet and blanket dark of a country night unnerved him, and despite not being able to sense another presence, he couldn't shake the feeling he was being watched. And then there was that damned howling that seemed to sing the night awake.

    He couldn't believe someone like the High Lord didn't have guard spells around the Hall. How else could a place this size be protected? But the Dark Priestess had assured him that Saetan had always been too lax and arrogant to consider such things. Besides, the south tower had always been Hekatah's domain, and with each of her many renovations, she'd added secret stairways and false walls so that there were entire rooms tucked away that her own spells still kept carefully hidden. One of those rooms would keep him sheltered and shielded.

    Provided he could reach it.

    Slipping his hands into his coat pockets, Greer left the junipers' protection and walked purposefully toward the south tower. That was one of the rules of a good assassin: act as if you belong. If he was seen, he hoped he'd be dismissed as a tradesman or, better yet, a guest.

    When he finally reached the door in the south tower, he began walking slowly to the left, his left hand feeling the stones for the catch that would open the secret entrance. Unfortunately, it had been so long, Hekatah couldn't remember exactly how far the entrance was from the door, especially since she'd made sure the alterations at the Kaeleer Hall didn't match the ones she'd made in Terreille.

    Just when he thought he'd have to return to the door and start over, he found the chipped stone that held the hidden latch. A moment later, he was inside the tower, climbing a narrow stone stairway.

    Shortly after that, he discovered just how far the Dark Priestess had misled him—or had misled herself.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire