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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(70) by Anne Bishop
  • "Why?" Daemon asked too softly.

    The Queen stare melted a little into exasperation. "Because you're strong enough to hold him back, and I don't want him getting the boyos riled about something I haven't even decided to do yet."

    It was the first thing she had asked of him, and he wasn't sure he could do it. "What happened seven years ago?"

    Her face went death pale, and it took her a moment to answer. "Why don't you ask Lucivar? As he said, he remembers it better than I do."

    He waited a few heartbeats. Then, "How long do you need?"

    Now she looked at Saetan. "Would an hour be convenient?"

    "It would be our pleasure to reconvene in an hour," Saetan said.

    "All right," Daemon said. "I can hold him for an hour."

    Nodding to acknowledge that she heard him, she hurried out of the room.

    Daemon stared at the closed door, fully aware that Andulvar and Saetan were waiting for some indication of what he was going to do. "I am going to ask him," he said quietly. "And if I don't like the answer, she's going to have to go through me, too." He would sacrifice any chance of being her lover if that's what it took to protect her.

    "You're not going to like the answer," Saetan said, "but I wouldn't worry about having to take a stand. If Jaenelle decides she's going into Little Terreille, she's going to have to go through the whole First Circle to do it. Since it isn't likely that she'll fight the court that hard over this particular healing, it's only respectful to allow the Lady the time to reach that conclusion on her own."

    "In that case, if you'll excuse me, I'd better see what I can do about restraining Lucivar's temper."

    3 / Kaeleer

    *Lucivar is unhappy,* Ladvarian said as he watched Jaenelle stare at the waterfall and tiered pools she had built in this inner garden several years ago. "I want to think, Warlord," Jaenelle said quietly. "Alone." The Sceltie shifted his feet, thought a moment, then stood firm. *He's snarly and upset and he won't talk to any of us.* This particular smell of anger and fear on Lucivar only happened when Jaenelle or Marian did something to upset the Eyrien. Since Marian hadn't done anything unusual—he'd already checked—that meant Jaenelle had done something. Or was going to do something.

    His lips pulled back in a silent snarl. *Jaenelle.*

    As she turned to face him, he saw the large blackwood hourglass resting on her hand. Saying nothing, she turned it over, set it on the stone lip of the lowest pool, and walked to the other end of the garden.

    Ladvarian growled softly at the hourglass.

    The kindred had trouble understanding the way humans carved up a day into these little chunks called hours and minutes. They had understood easily enough that sometimes human females wanted to be left alone, but, for a while, they had come back too soon and had gotten snarled at. So the High Lord and the Lady had made these hourglasses because they were easy to understand. If the sand was all at the bottom, the female was ready to play again. If it wasn't, the kindred would go away without disturbing her.

    Jaenelle had two sets of hourglasses. Each set had an hourglass sized for one hour, a half hour, and a quarter hour. Jaenelle used the set made of light-colored wood as a request for private time and could be interrupted if necessary. Witch, the Queen, used the set made from blackwood, and those hourglasses were a silent command.

    Ladvarian trotted out of the garden, accepting the dismissal.

    He wouldn't challenge his Queen, but he had learned that, if nipped sharply enough, Lucivar would lash out. And then Ladvarian and the other males would find out what the Lady was planning to do.

    4 / Kaeleer

    Using Craft, any of the Jeweled Blood would be able to send an ax cleanly through a chunk of wood. Lucivar, Daemon decided as he watched the ax come down and split the wood in half, wasn't using anything but muscle and temper. And that, more than anything else he'd observed since arriving in Kaeleer, told him how different serving in a court was here. In Terreille, Lucivar would have picked a fight with another strong male, and the resulting violence would have triggered a vicious brawl that could tear a court apart. Here he was venting his temper by chopping wood that would warm the Hall in the winter days ahead.

    "She send you out here to keep me hobbled?" Lucivar snarled as he swung the ax again.

    "What happened seven years ago, Lucivar?" Daemon asked quietly. "Why are you so against Jaenelle doing a healing in Little Terreille?"

    "You're not going to talk me around this, Bastard."

    "I'm not interested in talking you around this. I just want to know why I'm about to draw the line that puts me on the opposing side of my Queen's wishes."

    The ax came down just hard enough to set the blade into the chopping block.

    Lucivar called in a towel and wiped the sweat off his face. "Seven years ago she had been in Little Terreille, making one of those visits that had been a concession to the Dark Council. A child had been badly injured, and she was asked to do the healing. Whoever set it up did it well. The injury was extensive enough that the healing would have left her physically and mentally exhausted but not enough that she might have called in other Healers than the ones in Little Terreille. Because if she'd called Gabrielle or Karla for help, a male escort would have come with them.

    "When the healing was done, someone gave her food or drink that was drugged, and she was too tired to detect it. It made her complacent enough to do what she was told— and she was told to sign a marriage contract."

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