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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(40) by Anne Bishop
  • "He's always had a natural talent for weapons," Andulvar said, "but at that age, he wasn't good at explaining the drills."

    "So," Saetan said, "he got in a couple of good whacks, and you, by luck or temper, got in a couple of whacks yourself. At which point, the two of you tossed aside the sticks and started using your fists. Manny put an end to it by dumping a bucket of cold water over both of you."

    Daemon had to make a conscious effort not to squirm. "Are you going to do this every time?" he growled at Saetan.

    "Do what?" Saetan asked blandly.

    "Trot out embarrassing stories from my childhood."

    Saetan just smiled.

    "Come on, puppy," Andulvar said. "You need a hot bath, a rubdown, and something to eat. The morning's still young, and you've got the rest of the day ahead of you."

    Daemon's snarl turned into a yelp when Andulvar grabbed the back of his shirt and hauled him to his feet.

    "One moment," Saetan said quietly.

    Sensing the change in mood, Daemon turned to face Saetan squarely. "You sent for me."

    Saetan studied Daemon for a minute. "I've received a request.Whether you want to honor it is totally your choice. If you decide you're not ready, or don't want to at all, I'll try to explain."

    Daemon felt ice rush through his veins, but he resisted the urge to give in to the cold rage. He had a lot to learn about the give-and-take between males and females in Kaeleer. He shouldn't assume that a request made here meant the same thing as a request made in Terreille.

    "What's the request?"

    Saetan said gently, "Your mother would like to see you."

    6 / Kaeleer

    Sipping a cup of herbal tea, Karla wandered around the inner garden, hoping the sound of the fountain would soothe her. She looked up once, apprehensively, at the second floor windows on the south side of the courtyard. Was Sadi up there right now, watching her from behind the sheer curtains?

    Hell's fire, I shouldn't have blurted out that he is a Black Widow.She'd realized that the moment she saw the cold fury in his eyes. But she'd been disturbed by the tangled web she'd woven a couple of days ago and so preoccupied with trying to understand the cryptic images she'd seen... Well, seeing Daemon Sadi certainly explained a lot of those images. She'd seen the High Lord looking into a mirror, but the reflection wasn't him. She'd seen truths protected by lies. She'd seen a Black-Jeweled Black Widow who became an enemy in order to remain a friend. And she'd seen death held back by a ring. Her death.

    Troubled by her inability to interpret the vision of the High Lord, she had begun to wonder if she'd misread the tangled web somehow. Now there were no more doubts.

    She drained the cup and sighed. There was one more thing she'd better get straightened out before Jaenelle returned—for all their sakes.

    Daemon reached for the black jacket he had laid on his bed, then paused when he heard the tapping again, a little louder this time. Someone was outside the glass balcony door of his sitting room.

    Leaving the jacket, he went into the sitting room, pulled aside the curtain, and stared at the spiky-haired witch standing on the balcony. His first impulse was to release the curtain and ignore her. He didn't want her physical presence or her psychic scent in his rooms. He didn't want anyone wondering why he was entertaining another woman before he'd had a chance to be formally accepted by the Queen.

    He didn't give a damn that she was a Territory Queen. But the fact that she was in the First Circle of Jaenelle's courtdid matter.

    Reluctantly, he opened the door and stepped back to let her enter.

    "I have an appointment in a few minutes," he said coldly.

    "I came to apologize," Karla said. "It won't take long. I'm not very good at them, so I tend to keep them short."

    Daemon slipped his hands into his trouser pockets and waited.

    Karla took a deep breath. "I shouldn't have announced your belonging to the Hourglass so publicly. The First Circle would have been told in any case, but I shouldn't have blurted it out like that. I was thinking about something else that had been puzzling me, and when I saw you..." She shrugged.

    "How did you know? No one in Terreille realized what I am."

    Her lips curved. "Well, I doubt any of them has spent the past ten years annoying Uncle Saetan. Those of us who have would notice the similarities in your psychic scents and reach the correct conclusion."

    Daemon blinked."Uncle Saetan?"

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