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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(50) by Anne Bishop
  • "You just tossed her into Briarwood and didn't bother to see her again until you decided to let her out?"

    "Of course I saw her!" Alexandra paused. An ache spread through her chest as she remembered the distant, almost accusing way Jaenelle would look at them sometimes when she and Leland went to visit. The wariness and suspicion in her eyes, directed at them. She remembered how much it had hurt, and how Leland wept silently on the way home, when Dr. Carvay had told them that Jaenelle was too emotionally unstable to have any visitors. And she remembered the times she had felt relieved that Jaenelle was safely tucked away so others wouldn't have firsthand knowledge of the girl's fanciful tales. "I saw her whenever she was emotionally stable enough to have visitors."

    Saetan snarled softly.

    "You sit there and judge me, but you don't know what it was like trying to deal with a child who—"

    "Jaenelle was seven when I met her."

    For a moment, Alexandra couldn't breathe. Seven. She could imagine that voice wrapping itself around a child, spinning out lies. "So when she told her stories about unicorns and dragons, you encouraged her."

    "I believed her, yes."

    "Why?"

    His smile was terrible. "Because they exist."

    She shook her head, struck mute by the collision of too many thoughts, too many feelings.

    "What would it take to convince you, Alexandra? Being impaled on a unicorn's horn? Would you still insist he was a fanciful tale?"

    "You could trick anyone into believing anything you choose."

    His eyes got that glazed, sleepy look. "I see." He stood up. "I don't give a damn what you think of me. I don't give a damn what you think about anything. But if I sense one flicker of distress from Wilhelmina or Jaenelle because of you, I'll bring everything I am down on you." He looked at her with those cold, cold eyes. "I don't know why Jaenelle ended up with you. I don't know why the Darkness would place such an extraordinary spirit in the care of someone like you. You didn't deserve her. You don't deserve even to know her."

    He walked out of the room.

    Alexandra sat there for a long time.

    Tricks and lies. He'd said Jaenelle had been seven, but how old had she really been when the High Lord first started whispering his sweetly poisoned lies into a child's ear. Perhaps he had even created illusions of unicorns and dragons that looked real enough to be convincing. Maybe the uneasy way Jaenelle had sometimes made her feel had really been an aftertaste of him and not the child herself.

    She couldn't deny that horrors had been done at Briarwood. But had those men done those things by choice or had an unseen puppet master been pulling the strings? She had experienced Daemon Sadi's cruelty. Wasn't it likely that his father had refined his taste for it? Had all that pain and suffering been caused in order to make one particular child so vulnerable she became emotionally dependent on these men?

    Dorothea had been right. The High Lord was a monster. Sitting there, Alexandra was certain of only one thing: she would do whatever she had to in order to get Wilhelmina and Jaenelle away from him.

    He felt Daemon's hands slide up his shoulder blades, then settle on his shoulders a moment before those strong, slender fingers began kneading tight muscles.

    "Did you tell her Jaenelle is Witch?" Daemon asked softly.

    Saetan took a sip of yarbarah, the blood wine, then closed his eyes to better savor the feel of tension and anger draining away as Daemon coaxed his muscles to relax. "No," he finally said. "I told her Jaenelle was the Queen, which should have been enough, but..."

    "It wouldn't have mattered," Daemon said. "That last night, at the Winsol party, when I finally understood what Briarwood really was, I had intended to tell Alexandra about Jaenelle. I'd convinced myself that she would help me get Jaenelle away from Chaillot."

    "But you didn't tell her."

    Daemon's hands paused, then started working on another group of knotted muscles. "I overheard her tell another woman that Witch was only a symbol for the Blood, but if the living myth did appear, she hoped someone would have the courage to strangle it in its cradle."

    A bolt of anger flashed through Saetan, but he couldn't tell if it was his or Daemon's. "Mother Night, how I hate that woman."

    "Philip and Leland aren't exactly innocent."

    "No, they're not, but they only follow Alexandra's lead both as their Queen and the family matriarch. She accused me of spinning lies to ensnare Jaenelle, but how many lies didthey tell by cloaking them in the conviction of truth?" He made a sound that might have been a bitter laugh. "I can tell you how many. We had years to observe the emotional scars their words left on her."

    "And what happens when she finds out they're here?"

    "We'll deal with that when it comes."

    Daemon leaned closer, brushed his lips against Saetan's neck. "I can create a grave no one will ever find."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire