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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(140) by Anne Bishop
  • "It didn't help?" he asked softly, resting a hand lightly on her shoulder.

    "Actually, it did. I found the answer. I can't do the same thing they did, but I can use it as the foundation for what I need to do."

    She turned and kissed him with a desperation that frightened him, but he gave her what she needed. For hours, he gave her what she needed.

    When she was finally content just to lie wrapped in his arms, she said, "I love you." And fell asleep.

    Despite being physically and emotionally exhausted, Daemon lay awake a long time—and wondered why "I love you" sounded so much like "good-bye."

    6 / Kaeleer

    "The Lady changed her mind," Saetan said formally to the Territory Queens who made up the coven. "You and the males in the First Circle are to remain at the Keep, but the other Queens in your Territories may stay where they are."

    "Why arewe required to stay?" Chaosti demanded. "Our people aredying. We should be home, preparing to fight."

    "Why did she change her mind?" Morghann asked. "What did she say when you asked her?"

    Saetan hesitated. "The instructions were relayed by the Consort."

    He felt their flickers of anger and their growing suspicion about Daemon. Worse, he had those same feelings.

    "The Queen commands," he said, knowing how inadequate that sounded when they were all receiving reports of fighting in their homelands.

    "That's fine, High Lord," Aaron said coolly. "The Queen commands. But, obviously, no one has informed the kindred of that fact. None ofthem who are members of the First Circle have to stay at the Keep."

    They all looked at each other as that realization sank in. But it was Karla who finally asked, "Whereare the kindred?"

    Saetan watched the drops of rain trickle down the window.

    When Jaenelle had given the order for all the Queens to come to the Keep, he hadn't protested for one reason: Sylvia. He had wanted her in the Keep where she would be safe.

    But now that Jaenelle had changed her mind—or had had it changed for her—he would issue his own orders as the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan and summon all the Dhemlan Queens to the Hall. It was a risk. The Hall didn't have the defenses the Keep had.No place had the defenses the Keep had. But it had been designed to withstand attack, and its defenses were better than anywhere else the Queens might be forced to retreat if the fighting escalated. And it was big enough that the Queens could bring their families with them, bring their children.

    He wanted her safe. And her boys, too, Mikal and Beron.

    Sassy, opinionated, lovely Sylvia. Mother Night, he loved her.

    Even after he realized that the potency of Jaenelle's tonic after she had made the Offering to the Darkness had brought back the hunger of a man—and the ability to satisfy it—he might have resisted becoming Sylvia's lover, might have found the strength to remain just a friend if he hadn't sensed the hurt in her that her last Consort had inflicted. She had shut herself away from sexual pleasure, hadn't been intrigued enough by any man to try again— until she had become friends with him.

    They weren't acknowledged lovers. At his insistence, they maintained the illusion in public of being just friends. Oh, his reasons had been very logical, very considerate. He knew Luthvian would be enraged if he openly became another woman's lover, and he hadn't wanted her to take her anger out on the rest of the family—or on Sylvia. And he hadn't wanted people backing away from her because she had chosen a Guardian for a lover.

    At first, she had gone along with him, mostly because she was rediscovering the pleasures of the bed, and had been able to accept that he was a lover in the bedroom and a friend outside of it. But gradually, over the past year, she had become more and more unhappy with the secrecy, had wanted an acknowledged relationship.

    He had expected her to leave him. Instead, one night during the Winsol celebrations a few months ago, she had asked him to marry her. And, may the Darkness help him, he had wanted to say yes. Had wanted to share a bed with her, alife with her.

    But he didn't say yes. Not because of Luthvian or because he was a Guardian, but because of a vague uneasiness that had warned him to take care, to wait. So he had smiled and said, "Ask me next Winsol."

    He had understood why, for a few weeks after that, there were no invitations to her bed. He had understood why she was always "busy" when he stopped at her home to spend a little time with the boys.

    He had missed the friend far more than he'd missed the lover, but hehad missed those hours in her bed.

    Then, just a few days before the attack in Glacia, they had gone to Amdarh for a couple of days to spend time together away from everyone else, to try to rebuild their relationship. And they had made love, but he had known as soon as he touched her that, despite wanting him, she was trying to keep her distance from him emotionally, that she was trying to protect herself from being hurt again. Even when she was caught up in her climax, he had known.

    Now, staring at the rain, he almost wished he had said "yes" at Winsol, almost wished he had asked her to stand with him before a Priestess when they had arrived in Amdarh. And he wished he could make love with her one more time to erase the unhappiness that had been in the bed with them that last time.

    But the conviction had been growing in him for days now that there wouldn't be another chance.

    There were things he should have said that night in Amdarh. He'd never really told her how much she meant to him, how much he loved her. He should have. Now he could give her nothing but words, but at least he could give her that much.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire