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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(91) by Anne Bishop
  • Tersa shrugged. "Sometimes it's nice to pretend that I'm telling him stories. Jaenelle says it's all right to pretend."

    A cold finger whispered down his spine. "You've told Jaenelle about Daemon?"

    "Of course not," Tersa said irritably. "She's not ready to know about him. All the threads are not yet in place."

    "What threads—"

    "The lover is the father's mirror. The brother stands between. The mirror spins, spins, spins. Blood. So much blood. He clings to the island of maybe. The bridge will have to rise from the sea. The threads are not yet in place."

    "Tersa, where is Daemon?"

    Tersa blinked, drew a shuddering breath. She stared at him, frowning. "The boy's name is Mikal."

    He wanted to shout at her,Where's my son? Why hasn't he gone to the Keep or come through one of the Gates? What's he waiting for? Useless to shout at her. She couldn't translate what she'd seen any better than she had. One thing he did understand. All the threads were not yet in place. Until they were, all he could do was wait.

    "What are the sticks for, Tersa?"

    "Sticks?" Tersa looked at the basket of sticks in the corner of the kitchen. "They have no purpose." She shrugged. "Kindling?"

    She withdrew from him, exhausted by the effort of keep-nig the stones of reality and madness from grinding her soul.

    "Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked, preparing to leave.

    Tersa hesitated. "It would anger you."

    Right now, he didn't feel capable of that strong an emotion. "It won't anger me. I promise."

    "Would you . . . Would you hold me for a minute?"

    It rocked him. He, who had always craved physical affection, had never thought to offer her an embrace.

    He closed his arms around her. She wrapped her arms around his back and rested her head on his shoulder.

    "I don't miss the rutting, but it feels good to be held by a man."

    Saetan gently kissed her tangled hair. "Why didn't you mention it before? I didn't know you wanted to be held."

    "Now you do."

    2 / Kaeleer

    The Dark Council whispered.

    At first it was only a thoughtful look, a troubled frown. The High Lord had done many things in his long life—look what he'd done to the Council itself in order to become the girl's guardian—but it was hard to believe he was capable ofthat. He had always insisted that the strength of a Territory, the strength of the Realm, depended on the strength of its witches, especially its Queens. To think he would do such things with a vulnerable girl, a dark young Queen . . .

    Oh, yes, they had inquired about the girl before now, but the High Lord had always responded tersely. The girl was ill. She could have no visitors. She was being privately tutored.

    Where had the girl been during the past two years? What had she been subjected to? Was Jorval sure?

    No, Lord Jorval insisted, he was not sure. It was only a spurious rumor made by a dismissed servant. There was no reason to suspect it wasn't just as the High Lord had said. The girl probablywas ill, an invalid of some kind, perhaps too emotionally or physically fragile for the stimulation of visitors.

    The High Lord had made no mention of the girl being ill until the Council requested to see her the first time.

    Jorval stroked his dark beard with a thin hand and shook his head. There was no evidence. Only the word of a man who couldn't be found.

    Murmurs, speculations, whisssspers.

    3 / The Twisted Kingdom

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire