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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(61) by Anne Bishop
  • She headed straight across the room—more or less. When he started to lead her around the table, she dug in her heels.

    "I can go through the table," she announced proudly. "I studied my Craft. I want to show Jaenelle that I can do that now."

    "You want to do something really challenging?" Lucivar asked. "Then let's walkaround the table. Right now, that will be impressive."

    "Okay."

    Getting around the tablewas sufficiently challenging, especially since Lucivar kept getting his feet in the way. When she finally reached the couch, she plopped down next to Jaenelle. "I brushed Dejaal, and now he likes me. If I brushed Lucivar, do you think he'd like me, too?"

    "He'd promise to like you if you stopped stepping on him," Lucivar growled softly while he pulled off her shoes.

    "It's Marian's job to brush Lucivar," Jaenelle said solemnly.

    "Okay."

    "Why don't I have some coffee and toast sent up?" Lucivar said.

    Wilhelmina watched Lucivar until he left the room. "I used to think he was scary. But he's just big."

    "Uh-huh. Why don't you lie down for a little while?" Jaenelle said.

    Wilhelmina obeyed. When Jaenelle finished tucking a blanket around her, she said, "Everyone said you had died, but when they talked to me, they said we had 'lost' you. But I always knew you weren't lost because you told me where to find you. How could you be lost when you knew where you were?"

    She looked into Jaenelle's sapphire eyes. The mind behind those eyes was so vast. But she wasn't afraid of that anymore. "You always knew where you were. Didn't you?"

    "Yes," Jaenelle replied softly. "I always knew."

    3 / Kaeleer

    Alexandra paused, took a deep breath, and opened the door without knocking.

    The golden-haired woman grinding herbs with a mortar and pestle didn't turn around, didn't indicate in any way that she knew someone was there. A large bowl floated above the worktable, heated by three tongues of witchfire. A spoon lazily stirred the bowl's contents.

    Alexandra waited. After a minute, she said in a tight voice, "Could you stop fiddling with that for a minute and say 'hello' to your grandmother? After all, it's been thirteen years since I've seen you."

    "A minute or so won't make any difference to a greeting that's waited for thirteen years," Jaenelle replied, pouring the finely ground herbs into the bowl's bubbling contents. "But itwill make a difference to this tonic developing the right potency." She half turned, gave Alexandra one slashing glance, then focused her attention on the brew.

    Alexandra clenched her teeth, remembering why she had found this granddaughter so different to deal with. Even as a small child, Jaenelle had displayed these gestures of superiority, implying thatshe had no reason to show respect for her elders or yield to a Queen.

    Why? For the first time, Alexandra wondered. She'd always assumed, along with everyone else, that those displays were attempts to compensate for not wearing the Jewels, for being less than the other witches in the family. But, perhaps, they had been a result of someone—like the High Lord—whispering sweet lies into a child's ear until the girl truly believed she was superior.

    She shook her head. It was hard to believe that the child who had been unable to do the simplest Craft lessons could grow up to become some terrible, powerful threat to the Realm of Terreille as Dorothea claimed. If that weretrue, where was the power? Even now, when she was trying to sense Jaenelle's strength, it felt... muted... just as it always had. Distant, which was the way a Blood female who didn't have enough psychic strength to wear a Jewel felt.

    That meant Jaenellewas just a pawn in an elaborate game. The High Lord—or, perhaps, the mysterious Queen who ruled this court—wanted a figurehead to hide behind.

    "What are you making?" Alexandra asked.

    "A tonic for a young boy who's ill," Jaenelle replied, adding a dark liquid to the brew.

    "Shouldn't a Healer be doing that?"Hell's fire, arethey really letting her make tonics for people?

    "Iam a Healer," Jaenelle replied tartly. "I'm also a Black Widow and a Queen."

    Of course you are.With effort, Alexandra bit back the words. She would remain calm; would forge a bond, somehow, with her younger granddaughter; would remember that Jaenelle had already endured some terrible experiences.

    Then Jaenelle finished making the tonic and turned around.

    Staring into those sapphire eyes, Alexandra forgot about remaining calm or forging a bond. Staggered by the...something... that looked at her out of those eyes, she groped for an explanation that would fit.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire