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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(171) by Anne Bishop
  • She hadn't been paying attention to exactly where she was going—and now found herself staring right into Lucivar's eyes.

    He had spent the morning watching her whenever she appeared. It was a good act, but it was just a little off. Not that anyone else would have noticed. Oh, he was sure Dorothea and Hekatah and plenty of the guards had seen broken witches, but he doubted any of them had ever paid any attention to those women after the breaking. He, on the other hand, had taken care of a few of them in a number of courts. He hadn't been able to stop the breaking, but he'd taken care of them afterward. And they all had one thing in common: the first day or two after they were broken, they were cold. They huddled up in shawls and blankets, stayed close to any source of heat that was available to them.

    But there was Surreal, wandering through the camp, wearing nothing over a shirt that seemed torn in all the right places to display some impressive bruises. And that made him think about a lot of things.

    "You should put on a jacket, sweetheart," he said gently.

    "Jacket?" Surreal said feebly while her hands tried to cover some of the rips in the shirt.

    "A jacket. You're cold."

    "Oh. No I'm—"

    "Cold."

    She shivered then, but it wasn't from cold, it was from nerves.

    "You don't have to carry that bastard's child," Lucivar said quietly. "You can abort it. A broken witch still has that much power. And once you're barren, there's no reason for anyone to look in your direction."

    "I can't," Surreal said fearfully. "I can't. He would be so mad at me and..." She looked at the spot where Marian and Daemonar had died.

    He wondered if he was wrong, if her mind reallywas so torn apart she didn't quite feel the cold yet. Ifthat was true, then he understood the fear in her voice now. She was afraid the Sadist would do the same thing to her that he had done to Marian and Daemonar.

    But what he saw in her eyes when she looked at him again wasn't fear, it was hot frustration.

    The blood in his veins, which had felt so sluggish since he had crawled back to the post two nights ago, raged through him once again.

    "Surreal..." He saw Daemon appear on the other side of the circle of bare ground a moment before she did.

    With an almost-convincing cry, Surreal ran off.

    Lucivar stared at Daemon. From across the distance, Daemon returned the stare.

    "You bastard," Lucivar whispered. Daemon wouldn't have heard the words, but it didn't matter. Sadi would know what had been said.

    Daemon walked away.

    Lucivar leaned his head back against the post and closed his eyes.

    If Surreal wasn't broken, if this was all a game, then Marian and Daemonar...

    He should have remembered that about the Sadist. He, better than anyone else there, knew how vicious Daemon could be, but the Sadist hadnever harmed an innocent, had never hurt a child.

    He had been waiting for the signal, but the game had begun before Daemon had walked into the camp. Still, he had played his part well—and would continue to do so.

    Because understanding and forgiving were two very different things.

    6 / Terreille

    Drifting in a pain-hazed doze, Saetan felt the cup against his lips. The first swallow he took out of reflex, the second out of greed. As the taste of fresh blood filled his mouth, the Black power in it flowed through him, offering strength.

    *Hold on,* a deep voice whispered in his mind. *You have to hold on. Please.*

    He heard the weariness in that voice. He heard a son's plea to a father, and he responded. Being the man he was, he couldn't do otherwise. So he pushed his way through the haze of pain.

    When he opened his eyes, all he saw was waning daylight, and he wondered if he'd just dreamed the plea he'd heard in Daemon's voice.

    But he could still taste the dark, rich, fresh blood.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire