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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(79) by Anne Bishop
  • "It sounds disrespectful somehow to say that about Papa."

    "I see," Daemon said in a tone of voice that indicated he didn't see at all.

    "Papa," Jaenelle explained, "is charming and intelligent, a well-rounded companion."

    Thinking of Saetan and Sylvia, Daemon said dryly, "I don't think Saetan is the companion who's well-rounded."

    A long pause. Then, "You would call Sylvia's figure well-rounded?"

    Daemon bit his tongue. Was she asking about Sylvia because she had picked up a stray thought of his or through an obvious connection of topics? And how in the name of Hell was a Consort supposed to safely answer that? "Her figure is more well-rounded than his," he hedged—and then threw Saetan into the verbal pit without a qualm. "They do seem fond of each other, even if Sylviawon't lend him that book."

    When Jaenelle raised her head, there was nothing cold about the gleam in her eyes. "What book?"

    "You mentionedwhat!"

    Daemon rubbed the back of his neck as he warily studied his father. He had felt some obligation, male to male, to give Saetan fair warning—and now sincerely wished he hadn't.

    Saetan stared at him. "Whatever possessed you to tell her about it in the first place?"

    Oh, no. He was not going to repeat anything that had led up to that comment. "Jaenelle's in a much better mood now."

    "I'm sure she is." Saetan rubbed his hands over his face. "What's she doing now?"

    "Resting," Daemon said. "I'm going to talk to Beale about having a tray brought to her sitting room. We'll have dinner there and then play cards for a while."

    The way Saetan's eyes suddenly glittered made him nervous.

    "You're going to play cards with Jaenelle?" Saetan asked.

    "Yes," Daemon replied cautiously.

    "In that case, Prince, I'd say you've more than made up for mentioning that book."

    9 / Kaeleer

    Osvald lingered in the corridor.

    At first, he'd thought Vania's greedy lust was going to spoil all their plans. But after the pale bitch-Queen had ripped into the males of the court because of it, they'd all gone off to lick their emotional wounds and hadn't been seen for the rest of the day.

    Jaenelle's fury would have been a gift that had fallen into his hands if Wilhelmina Benedict had been in her room. But she wasn't, and he had no idea where to look for her. If she was with the other bitches, he couldn't approach her. He didn't want any of them taking special notice of him before he was ready to disappear.

    Soon, he thought as he returned to his own room. Soon.

    10 / Kaeleer

    And they callmethe Sadist, Daemon thought as he eyed the game board and cards—and did his best not to snarl in frustration.

    "You almost won that round," Jaenelle offered, trying not to look too gleeful as she tallied up the scores.

    Daemon bared his teeth in a poor imitation of a smile. "My deal?"

    Nodding, Jaenelle busily turned the paper over, drew a line down the middle, and wrote their names at the top.

    Daemon picked up the cards and began shuffling the deck.

    Hell's fire, he shouldn't be havingthis much trouble with a card game. It was just a variation of the game "cradle" that Jaenelle had played as a child. All right, it wastwenty-six variations of "cradle." He still shouldn't be having this much trouble winning a round. But there was something a littleoff about this game, something that defied rational thinking.Male thinking.

    A game board with colored stones and bone discs with symbols etched on one side. A hand of cards. And the convoluted interaction between them. He could picture the coven sitting around on a stormy winter afternoon, putting this game together piece by piece, building one variation off another, adding bits from other games distinct to their own cultures, until they had created something that was pure torture for the male brain. He particularly despised the wild card game because the player in control of the board when the wild card turned up could call for a different variation—which could turn a good hand and game plan into garbage.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire