• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Queen of the Darkness (Chapter 53)      Page
  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(53) by Anne Bishop
  • Too edgy to sleep and too restless to find distraction in a book, Daemon wandered through the dimly lit corridors of the Hall.

    You're running,he thought, bitterly aware of the doubts and fears that had come swarming up when he had neared his suite of rooms—and had sensed Jaenelle's presence in the adjoining suite.

    For most of his 1,700 years, he had believed, without question, that he'd been born to be Witch's lover. Thirteen years ago, faced with a twelve-year-old girl, that conviction hadn't been shaken. His heart had been committed; it was just the physical union that would have been delayed a few more years. But a brutal rape and the years he'd been lost in madness separated them now, and he wasn't sure he could stand to face her and see only a sense of obligation or, worse, pity in her eyes.

    He needed to find a place that would help him regain his balance.

    Daemon paused, then smiled reluctantly as he realized that he hadn't been running so much as searching. Somewhere on the grounds of the estate, there would be a place dedicated to performing the Blood's formal rituals for the sacred days in each season, but he doubted Saetan would build a home that didn't also contain a place for informal, private meditations.

    He closed his eyes and opened his inner senses. A moment later, he was moving again, heading back toward the part of the Hall that contained the family living quarters.

    He would have missed the entrance completely if he hadn't caught a glimpse of his reflection in the door's glass.

    Stepping outside, he looked down at the sunken garden. Raised flower beds bordered all four sides except where the stone steps led down into the garden. Two statues dominated the space. A few feet in front of them were a raised stone slab and a wooden seat. Carefully positioned candlelights illuminated the statues and the steps.

    The statues pulled at him. He went down the steps, hesitated a moment, then stepped onto the grass.

    Power filled the air, making it almost too rich to breathe. As he filled his lungs with it, he felt his body absorb the strength and peace contained within this garden. On the stone slab were half a dozen candles in tinted glass containers. Choosing one at random, he used Craft to create a little tongue of witchfire and light it. A hint of lavender reached him before he walked over to the fountain that contained the female statue.

    The back of the fountain was a curved wall of rough stone curtained by water that spilled into a stone-enclosed pool. The woman rose halfway out of the pool, her face lifted toward the sky. Her eyes were closed, and there was a slight smile on her lips. Her hands were raised as if she were just about to wipe the water from her hair. Everything about her embodied serene strength and a celebration of life.

    He didn't recognize the mature body, but he recognized that face. And he wondered if the sculptor had continued his exquisite detail beneath the hips that rose out of the water, wondered what his fingers would find if he slid his hand past her belly.

    Because he wondered, he turned to the other statue— the male.

    The beast.

    His visceral response to the crouched, blatantly male body that was a blend of human and animal was a gut-deep sense of recognition. It was as if someone had stripped him of his skin to reveal what really lay beneath.

    Massive shoulders supported a feline head that had its teeth bared in a snarl of rage. One paw/hand was braced on the ground near the head of a small sleeping woman. The other was raised, the claws unsheathed.

    Someone like Alexandra would look at this creature and assume it was about to crush and tear the female, that the only way to control that physical strength and rage would be to keep it chained. Someone like Alexandra would never look beyond that assumption to notice the small details. Like the sleeping woman's hand reaching out, her fingertips just brushing the paw/hand near her head. Like the way the crouching body sheltered her. Like the way the glittering, green stone eyes stared at whoever approached, and the fact that the snarling rage came from the desire, theneed, to protect.

    Daemon took a deep breath, let it out slowly—and then tensed. He hadn't heard any footsteps, but he didn't have to turn around to know who now stood at the foot of the stairs. "What do you think of him?" he asked quietly.

    "He's beautiful," Jaenelle replied in her midnight voice.

    Daemon slowly turned to face her.

    She wore a long black dress. The front lacing ended just below her br**sts, revealing enough fair skin to make a man's mouth water. Her golden hair flowed over her shoulders and down her back. Her ancient sapphire eyes didn't look as haunted as he remembered, but he had the painful suspicion that he was the reason for the sadness he saw in them.

    As the silence between them lengthened, he couldn't move toward her any more than he could move away.

    "Daemon..."

    "Do you understand what he represents?" he asked quickly, tipping his head just enough to indicate the statue.

    Jaenelle's lips curved into just a hint of a dry smile. "Oh, yes, Prince, I understand what he represents."

    Daemon swallowed hard. "Then don't insult me by offering regrets. A male is expendable. A Queen is not—especially when she is Witch."

    She made an odd sound. "Saetan said almost the same thing once."

    "And he was right."

    "Well, being a Warlord Prince made from the same mold, you would think that, wouldn't you?" She started to smile. Then her eyes narrowed. Her attention sharpened.

    Daemon had the distinct impression there was something about him that didn't please her. When her intense focus ended a moment later, he realized that she had made some decision about him, just as she had done the first time he'd met her. And now, like then, he didn't know what she had decided.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire