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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(156) by Anne Bishop
  • Jaenelle had given no outward warning of the rage just underneath the surface, no indication of power being gathered for a strike. Nothing.

    He glanced at the finger again, felt his stomach clench. Then he walked out of the room.

    Damn them both, Surreal thought as she stared at the finger in the box. Oh, there had been a little flicker of dismay in Sadi's face when he first saw it, but that had disappeared quickly enough. And from Jaenelle? Nothing. Hell's fire! She had shown more temper and concern when Aaron had been cornered by Vania! At least then there had been that freezing, terrifying rage. But the woman getsa piece of her father sent to her and... nothing. Not a damn thing. No reaction at all.

    Well, fine. If that's the way those two wanted to play the game, that was just fine.She wore a Gray Jewel andshe was a skilled assassin. There was no reason she couldn't slip into Terreille and get Lucivar and the High Lord—and Marian and Daemonar—away from those two bitches.

    Surreal bit her lower lip. Well, gettingall of them out in one piecemight be a problem.

    All right, so she'd think about it a little, work up some kind of plan. At leastshe was going to do something!

    And maybe, while she was thinking, she would mention this little incident to Karla to see if the Black Widow still thought there was more going on thannothing.

    By the time Daemon reached her workroom, the ice in Jaenelle's eyes had shattered into razor-edged shards, and he saw something in them that terrified him: cold, undiluted hatred.

    "What do you expect will happen now?" Jaenelle asked too calmly.

    Daemon slipped his hands into his trouser pockets to hide the trembling. He quietly cleared his throat. "I doubt anything more will happen until the messenger returns to Hayll and reports the delivery of the box. It's almost mid-morning now. They aren't going to expect you to be capable of making any decisions immediately. So we've got a few hours. Maybe a little more than that."

    Jaenelle paced slowly. She seemed to be arguing with herself. Finally she sighed—as if she'd lost the argument— and looked at him. "The Weaver of Dreams sent me a message. She said the triangle must remain together in order to survive, that the other two sides weren't strong enough without the strength of the mirror—and the mirror would keep themall safe."

    "The mirror?" Daemon asked cautiously.

    "You are your father's mirror, Daemon. You're one side of the triangle."

    The memory flashed in his mind of Tersa, years ago, tracing a triangle in the palm of his hand, over and over, while she had explained the mystery of the Blood's four-sided triangle.

    "Father, brother, lover," he murmured. Three sides. And the fourth side was the triangle's center, the one who ruled all three.

    "Exactly," Jaenelle replied.

    "You want me to go to Hayll."

    "Yes."

    He nodded slowly, suddenly feeling like he was on a very thin, shaky footbridge, and one false step would send him plummeting into a chasm he would never escape. "If I walked in to try another exchange of prisoners, that would buy a few more hours."

    "I never said anything about you handing yourself over to them," Jaenelle snapped. Her face had been pale since she'd seen Saetan's finger. Now it got paler. "Daemon, I need seventy-two hours."

    "Sev—But everything is ready. All you would need to do is gather your strength and unleash it."

    "I need seventy-two hours."

    He stared at her, slowly coming to terms with what she was telling him. In a controlled dive into the abyss, he could descend to the level of his Black Jewels in a few minutes and gather his full strength. It was going to take herseventy-two hours to do the same thing.

    Hell's fire, Mother Night, and may the Darkness be merciful.

    But there was no way for him to ...

    He saw the knowledge in her eyes—and fought against the shame it produced in him. He should have known he couldn't hide the Sadist from Witch. And he finally understood what she was asking of him.

    Unable to meet her eyes anymore, he turned away and began his own slow prowl around the room.

    It was just a game. A dirty, vicious game—the kind the Sadist had always played so well. As he gave that part of himself free rein, the plan took shape as easily as breathing.

    But...Everything has a price. If he was going to lose the companionship of almost everyone he had ever cared about, the reward would have to justify the cost.

    "I can do this," he crooned, slowly circling around her. "I can keep Dorothea and Hekatah off-balance enough to keep the others safe and also prevent thoseLadies from giving the orders to send the Terreillean armies into Kaeleer. I can buy you seventy-two hours, Jaenelle. But it's going to cost me because I'm going to do things I may never be forgiven for, so I want something in return."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire