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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(34) by Anne Bishop
  • Jazen nodded. "The other personal servants indicated that dress would be relaxed today since the First Circle will be assessing the new arrivals. Those who sit at the High Lord's table do dress for dinner. Not formal dress," he added when Daemon raised one eyebrow. "But I gathered the Ladies are usually casual in their attire during the day."

    Daemon turned that bit of information over and over as he made his way through the corridors toward the dining room. Based on his experience in Terreillean courts, casual attire meant practical dresses made of fabrics only slightly less sumptuous than those worn to dinner.

    Then he turned a corner and noticed the fair-skinned, red-haired witch coming toward him. She wore threadbare, dark-brown trousers and a long, baggy, heather-green sweater that was decoratively patched. There was approval in the fast assessment her green eyes made over his body but no active interest. "Prince," she said politely as she passed him.

    "Lady," he replied with equal politeness, wondering how such a stickler as he suspected Beale to be would allow a servant to dress like that. When he caught a whiff of her psychic scent, he spun around and stared at her until she turned the corner and disappeared.

    A Queen. That woman was aQueen.

    His stomach growled, which finally got him walking again.

    A Queen. Well, ifthat was the Ladies' idea of casual attire, he wholeheartedly approved of the High Lord's insistence on dressing for dinner—a sentiment he strongly suspected he should keep to himself.

    He had almost reached the dining room when he met up with Saetan.

    "Prince Sadi, there's something I need to discuss with you," Saetan said quietly, but his expression was grim.

    Saetan using the formal title caused a chill down Daemon's spine.

    "Then shall we get it over with?" Daemon replied as he followed Saetan to the High Lord's official study. He felt one layer of tension ease when Saetan leaned against the front of the blackwood desk instead of sitting behind it.

    "Are you aware that your valet is fully shaved?" Saetan asked softly, ominously.

    "I'm aware of it," Daemon replied with equal softness.

    "There are very few of our laws that, when broken, justify that punishment. All of them are sexual."

    "Jazen didn't do anything except be at the wrong place at the wrong time," Daemon snarled. "Dorothea did that to him to entertain her coven."

    "Are you sure of that?'

    "I was there, High Lord. There wasn't a damn thing I could do for him except slip past the drugs they'd given him to keep him aware and knock him out. His family took care of him for a while, but many of them are in personal service. Once the word got out—and Dorothea always made sure that it did—Jazen would have been considered tainted because,of course, it wouldn't have happened to him if he hadn't deserved it. If he had stayed with his family, they would have lost their positions as well. He's a good man, and a loyal one. He deserved far better than what happened to him."

    "I see," Saetan said quietly. He straightened up. "I'll explain the situation to Beale. He'll take care of it."

    "How much will you have to tell him?" Daemon asked warily.

    "Nothing more than that the maiming was unjustified."

    Daemon smiled bitterly. "Do you really think that will change the other servants' opinion of him? That they'll believe it?"

    "No, all it will do is suspend judgment until the Lady returns." Saetan looked solemn. "But you have to understand, Prince. If Jaenelle turns against him, there's nothing you or I or anyone else can do or say that will make any difference. In Kaeleer, once you step outside of Little Terreille, Witch is the law. Her decisions are final."

    Daemon considered this, then nodded. "I'll accept the Lady's judgment." As he followed Saetan to the dining room, he kept hoping that the woman Jaenelle had become wasn't too different from the child he remembered—and had loved.

    2 / Kaeleer

    Lord Jorval's heart pounded as he returned to the room where the sandy-haired man with worried gray eyes waited. He sat down behind the desk and clasped his hands together to hide the tremors of excitement.

    "Have you already found out where my niece has gone?" Philip Alexander asked.

    "I have," Jorval replied solemnly. "When you explained the family connections, I had a suspicion of where to look."

    Philip gripped the arms of the chair hard enough to snap wood. "Did she sign a contract with a court in Little Terreille?"

    "Unfortunately, no," Jorval said, struggling to put just the right amount of sympathy in his voice. "You must understand, Prince Alexander. We had no way of knowing who she was. A couple of Council members remembered her saying that she was trying to find her sister, but they had assumed the sister had immigrated earlier—and in a sense, that is true. But the Dark Council was never provided with a record of where Jaenelle Angelline came from before the High Lord acquired guardianship over her. There was no reason for them to link the two women, and by the time they began to wonder about the significance of her inquiries, it was too late."

    "What do you mean, 'too late'?" Philip snapped.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire