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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(20) by Anne Bishop
  • So he couldn't let Lucivar tell him what he desperately needed to hear. Not because he didn't want to know for sure that Jaenelle was alive, but because he wasn't ready to be told about the gold wedding ring on Lucivar's left hand.

    3 / Kaeleer

    Surreal pushed the last of the cushioned boxes together to form a bench against one wall. "Sit down, Manny," she said to the older woman.

    "Wouldn't be right," Manny said. "A servant shouldn't be sitting."

    Surreal gave her a slashing look. "Don't be an ass. You're a 'servant' because that's the only way Sadi could bring you with him."

    Manny tightened her lips in disapproval. "No need for you to be using that kind of language, especially with children around. Besides, I was a servant for a good many years. It was an honest living and nothing I'm ashamed of."

    Unlike me?Surreal wondered. She had never denied that she had been a very successful whore for centuries before she quit thirteen years ago, no longer able to stomach the bedroom games. That night at Cassandra's Altar had left its mark on all of them.

    Manny's feelings about women who worked in Red Moon houses were ambivalent. What would she think if she knew about Surreal's other profession? How comfortable would the older woman have been if she had known that Surreal had been—and still was—a very successful assassin?

    Didn't matter. They had become friends during the two years when Daemon had been rising out of the Twisted Kingdom, but after he regained his sanity, Manny had made a mental shift, treating both of them to the domestic affection that existed between a special servant and an aristo child. Daemon hadn't noticed anything odd about this behavior; maybe Manny had always treated him like that. But it had annoyed Surreal, who had grown up hard and fast on the streets. It had also given her a lot of practice in dealing with Manny's set opinions.

    "Look," she said very softly. "Lady Benedict's servant doesn't look like he can stand up for two hours without being in pain. If you sit down, you can badger him into sitting." .

    A few minutes later, Manny, Andrew, Wilhelmina Benedict, and Surreal were sitting on the makeshift bench.

    Surreal glanced at the remaining space on her right. Where in the name of Hell was Sadi? He wasn't as mentally stable as he pretended to be, and seeing Lucivar must have been a shock. But what had theEyrien thought about seeing his half brother again? After Jaenelle disappeared thirteen years ago, Daemon had gone to Pruul, intending to get Lucivar out of the salt mines. For some reason, Lucivar had refused to go with him. She had always suspected, because of what Daemon wouldn't say, that there had been a vicious collision of tempers and that a rift had formed between them. And she had always suspected that the reason for that rift had begun, like so many other things, at Cassandra's Altar.

    The driver's compartment door slid open. Lord Khardeen stepped out and glanced at the Eyriens, who tensed at his appearance. Saying nothing, he walked to the end of the makeshift bench and sat down beside Surreal.

    Directly across from them was the woman with the two young children. They had the brown skin, gold eyes, and black hair that was typical of the three long-lived races, but the little girl's hair had a slight, natural curl. Surreal wondered if the girl's hair indicated that one of the parent's bloodlines wasn't pure Eyrien, if those curls had betrayed a secret, and if that was the reason these people had left their home Territory.

    The older boy stayed close to his mother, but the little girl smiled at Khardeen and took a couple of steps toward him.

    "Woofer," she said happily, holding out a worn stuffed animal.

    Khardeen leaned forward and smiled. "That he is. What's his name?"

    "Woofer." She gave the toy a squeezing hug. "Mine."

    "Right you are."

    Watching Khardeen apprehensively, the woman reached for the little girl. "Orian, don't bother the Warlord."

    "She's no bother," Khardeen said pleasantly.

    The woman pulled the girl close to her and tried to smile. "She likes animals. My husband's mother made her a girl doll before we left, but Orian wanted to bring this one."

    And where was your own mother while that bitch was giving you a verbal knife?Surreal wondered as she watched shadows gather in the woman's eyes and picked up a flicker of shame in the psychic scent. Well, that answered which side of the girl's heritage was in question.

    The Warlord who had protested when Friall refused to finish the contract turned away from his conversation with a couple of Eyrien males, glanced sharply at Khardeen, and then moved protectively closer to the woman and children.

    Khardeen leaned back, returning that sharp glance with a mild look.

    Sitting next to him, with his arm brushing hers, Surreal felt his tension—and anger?—but he gave no outward sign of it. When he looked at her, his expression was solemn, but his blue eyes held amusement.

    "I wonder how the little Queen's mother will react when she sees the 'woofers' her daughter's going to be hugging," he said softly.

    "Will they bite her?" Surreal asked.

    "The girl? No. The mother?" Khardeen shrugged.

    Hearing the warning underneath the amusement, Surreal shivered. Then Daemon approached them, and she took a sharp breath.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire