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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(113) by Anne Bishop
  • He smiled at the bitter irony of it, that the one thing he had never done with a woman, the one thing he had never wanted to do and now wanted more than anything, was the one thing he might not beable to do.

    What got him moving was the concern that if he delayed much longer, Jaenelle might perceive it as a kind of rejection.

    When he tapped on the door between their bedrooms, he took the muffled sound for an invitation and went in.

    The only light in the room came from the fire burning in the hearth and scented candles grouped here and there throughout the room. The covers of the huge bed were turned down. Covered dishes, two glasses, and a bottle of sparkling wine filled a table near the hearth.

    Jaenelle stood in the middle of the room, twisting her laced fingers. The edge of what looked like a sheer nightgown made of black spidersilk peeked beneath the hem of a thick, shabby robe—one he imagined she wore on rainy evenings when she snuggled up in her room to read. She looked like a lost waif rather than a sex-hungry woman.

    She studied him a moment. "You look like I feel."

    "Sick and terrified?" He winced, wished he hadn't said that.

    She nodded. "I thought... some food..." She glanced at the covered dishes and turned pale. Then she glanced at the bed and turned paler. "What are we going to do?" she whispered.

    He hadn't done either of them any favors by giving them time to think. "Basics," he said. "We'll start with something extremely simple." He took a step forward and opened his arms. "A hug."

    She considered this a moment. "That sounds easy enough," she said, and stepped into his embrace.

    He closed his eyes and held her lightly. Just held her. Breathed in the scent of her.

    After a while, his fingers flexed. There was a comforting appeal to the texture of her shabby robe, to the way her hair brushed against his hand.

    His arms tightened, drew her closer as his hand stroked up and down her back, just for the simple pleasure of it.

    She sighed. The tension in her muscles eased a bit, and she rested against him more fully.

    He wasn't thinking of seduction when his hands began to wander over her—or when her hands hesitantly stroked him.

    He wasn't thinking of seduction when his body delighted in how different the silky skin of her neck felt under his mouth compared to the robe beneath his hands.

    He wasn't thinking of sex when he opened his robe and then hers so that only that film of spidersilk separated skin from skin. Or when even the spidersilk no longer separated them.

    He wasn't thinking of sex when his mouth settled over hers and he sent them both sliding into dark, hot desire.

    And by the time he found himself in bed, listening to her purr with pleasure while he moved inside her, he wasn't able to think at all.

    4 / Terreille

    Dorothea held up a letter. "It seems Kartane has become acquainted with Lord Jorval and Lord Hobart."

    Hekatah's lips curved in an awful grin. "Such useful males. One gathers Kartane got no satisfaction from the High Lord."

    "It appears not," Dorothea replied, striving to sound indifferent while the fury of Kartane's betrayal singed her blood. "He suggests that Lord Hobart would welcome any assistance Hayll can provide to wrest Glacia away from the bitch-Queen niece. He will remain in Little Terreille to act as a liaison."

    "It sounds as if your son finally understands to whom he owes his loyalty."

    Dorothea crushed the letter. "He's not my son. Not anymore. He's just a tool like any other."

    5 / Kaeleer

    Lucivar walked to the far end of the low-walled garden that bordered one side of his home. Marian was reading a bedtime story to Daemonar, and the wolves had gathered in the room to listen, too, so he knew whatever Prothvar wanted to tell him wouldn't be overheard.

    Two weeks ago, Saetan had sent Surreal back to Ebon Rih with a terse—and oddly harried—note, bluntly telling him to stay away from the Hall. The only reason he had obeyed was because Saetan had signed it as the Steward of the Court. After two weeks of silence, Andulvar, as Master of the Guard, had sent Prothvar to the Hall to request more information from the Steward. Now Prothvar was here, wanting to see him away from anyone. "Problem?" Lucivar asked quietly.

    Prothvar's teeth gleamed as his mouth curved in a feral smile. "Not as long as you stay away from the Hall. I gathered it's rather uncomfortable living there right now if you wear Jewels darker than the Red."

    "Mother Night," Lucivar muttered, rubbing the back of his neck. What in the name of Hell had happened? "Maybe the High Lord should send Daemon here for a while."

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