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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(73) by Anne Bishop
  • "He called her Jaenelle," Greer said, examining his foot.

    Hekatah's eyes widened. "He lied about it." Her face turned ugly with rage and hate. "That gutter son of a whorelied about it\"

    Then she remembered that terrifying presence on thecildru dyathe's island. If the girl was really alive, she could still be shaped into the puppet Queen whom Hekatah needed to rule the Realms.

    Hekatah ran her fingers over a scarred table. "Even if she survived physically, she's of little use to me if she has no power."

    Cradling his torn arm, Greer took the bait. "She still has power. There was a fierce witch storm filling that room. It began before the High Lord entered. The Darkness only knows how he survived it."

    Hekatah frowned. "What was he doing in her room at that hour?"

    Greer shrugged. "It sounded like they were rolling around on the bed, and it wasn't a friendly tussle."

    Hekatah stared at Greer but didn't see him. She saw Saetan, hot-blooded and hungry, easing his appetites—allhis appetites—with that young, dark-blooded witch who should have belonged to her. A Guardian was still capable of that kind of pleasure. A Guardian ... who valued honor. Oh, he could try to ignore the scandal and condemnation, but by the time she was done, she'd create such a firestorm around him even his most loyal servants would hate him.

    But it had to be done delicately so that, unlike that fool Menzar, Saetan wouldn't be able to trace it back to her.

    Hekatah studied Greer. The torn muscle in his forearm could be hidden by a coat, but that foot. . . . Whether it was snapped off and replaced with something artificial or left on and laced into a high boot, the dragging walk would be obvious—as were the maimed hands. A pity such a useful servant was so deformed and, therefore, so conspicuous. But he'd be able to perform this one last assignment. In fact, his deformities would work in her favor.

    Hekatah allowed herself a brief smile before putting on her saddest expression. She sank to her knees beside Greer's chair. "Poor darling," she cooed, stroking his cheek with her fingertips, "I've let that bastard's schemes distract me from more important concerns."

    "What concerns, Priestess?" Greer asked cautiously.

    "Why, you, darling, and those ferocious wounds his beast inflicted on you." She wiped at her eyes as if they could still hold tears. "You know there's no way to heal these wounds now, don't you, darling?"

    Greer looked away.

    Hekatah leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "But don't worry. I have a plan that will pay Saetan back for everything."

    "You wanted to see me, High Lord?"

    Saetan's eyes glittered. He leaned against the blackwood desk in his private study in the Dark Realm and smiled at the Dea al Mon Harpy. "Titian, my dear," he crooned in a voice like soft thunder, "I have an assignment for you that I think will be very much to your liking."

    Chapter Six

    1 / Kaeleer

    Saetan, along with the rest of the family, lingered at the dinner table, reluctant to have the meal and the camaraderie end.

    At least some good had come from that unpleasant night last week. Jaenelle's nightmare had lanced the festering wound of those suppressed memories, easing a little of her emotional pain. He knew that soul wound wasn't healed, but for the first time since she'd returned from the abyss, she was more like the child they remembered than the haunted young woman she'd become.

    "I think Beale would like to clear the table," Jaenelle said quietly, glancing at the butler standing at the dining room door.

    "Then why don't we have coffee in the drawing room," Saetan suggested, pushing his chair back.

    When Jaenelle walked toward the door, followed by Mephis, Andulvar, and Prothvar, he lingered a moment longer. It was so good to hear her laugh, so good to—

    A movement at the window caught his attention. Immediately probing for the intruder, he took a step back when strangely scented, feral emotions pushed against his mind, challenging him, daring him to touch.

    Anger. Frustration. Fear. And then . . .

    The howl stopped conversations midword as Andulvar and Prothvar spun around, their hunting knives drawn. Saetan barely noticed them, too intent on Jaenelle's reaction.

    She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, tipped her head back, and howled. It wasn't an exact imitation of the wolf's howl. It was eerier somehow because it turned into witch-song. A wild song.

    And he realized, with a shivering sense of wonder, that she and the wolf had sung this song before, that they knew how to blend those two voices to create something alien and beautiful.

    The wolf stopped howling. Jaenelle finished the song and smiled.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire