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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(143) by Anne Bishop
  • Even with her head under the water, Surreal heard Kartane scream.

    She popped up out of the water, then immediately lowered herself to her neck. The pool, fed by a hot spring, was delightfully warm, but the air was cool enough to bite.

    She heard snarls, a howl, a terrified shriek.

    The air wasn't the only thing around there that had a bite.

    "So this is Hell," she said, looking around. It was too dark to see much, but the area around the pool had a kind of stark beauty.

    "This is Hell," Titian replied, a blissful smile on her face. She straightened up and gave Surreal a searching look. "Has the debt been paid to your satisfaction, Surreal?"

    The snarls and shrieks stopped for a moment, then started again.

    "Yes," Surreal said, leaning back with a sigh, "I'm satisfied."

    6 / Kaeleer

    "Sometimes the heart reveals more than panes of glass can."

    Saetan turned away from the window, tensed, took a step forward, stopped. "Tersa, why are you at the Keep?"

    Smiling, Tersa walked across the room and held out a thick envelope. "I came to give you this."

    Even before he took the envelope, he knew who it was from. Sylvia always added a drop of lavender oil to her wax seal.

    Laying one hand on his shoulder, Tersa kissed him on the lips—a lingering kiss that surprised him. Worried him.

    She stepped back. "That was the other part of the message." She was almost at the door before he gathered his wits.

    "Tersa, this can't be the only reason you traveled to the Keep."

    "No?" she said, looking puzzled. Then, "No, it wasn't."

    He waited. She said nothing.

    "Darling," he prodded gently, "why are you here?"

    Her eyes cleared, and he felt certain that, for the first time in all the centuries he had known her, he was seeing a glimpse of Tersa as she had been before she was broken. She was formidable—and a bit dazzling.

    "I'm needed here," she said quietly, then walked out of the room.

    He stood there for several minutes, staring at the envelope in his hands. "Show some balls, SaDiablo," he finally muttered as he carefully opened the envelope. "No matter what the letter says, it isn't the end of the world."

    It was a long letter. He read it twice before he tucked it away.

    He hadn't been able to give Sylvia more than words, but apparently, thankfully, that had been enough.

    7 / Terreille

    Dorothea prowled around the room. "Armies are gathering all over Terreille, the Territories in the Shadow Realm have been attacked for weeks now by the people we had hidden in Little Terreille, and Kaeleerstill hasn't formally declared war."

    "That's because Jaenelle Angelline doesn't have the backbone to go along with her power," Hekatah said as she carefully arranged her full-length cape. "She's just a mouse scurrying around in her hidey-hole while the cats gather for the feast."

    "Even a mouse will bite," Dorothea snapped.

    "This mouse won't bite," Hekatah replied calmly. "She's too emotionally squeamish to take the step that would begin a full-scale slaughter."

    Dorothea wasn't as sure of that as Hekatah seemed to be, but Jaenelle's sparing Alexandra's life after the abduction failed certainly seemed to indicate a lack of the proper temperament.She certainly wouldn't have spared the bitch. That lack in Jaenelle was in their favor, but... "You seem to be forgetting that the High Lord has fangs and isn't the least bit squeamish about using them."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire