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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Queen of the Darkness (Chapter 81)      Page
  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(81) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan froze in the act of reaching for the dressing robe that was on his bed. He slowly straightened up and turned to face them.

    Surreal couldn't stop herself from giving him one quick, professional—and approving—glance.

    Titian didn't seem to notice that she had walked in on a naked, and now irritated, man.

    "There's a tainted male in the Hall," Titian said abruptly.

    Saetan stared at her for a moment. Then he grabbed the robe, said tersely, "Where?" and was out the door, with Titian at his heels, before Surreal could gather her wits.

    By the time she caught up to them, Titian was questing back and forth in the corridor like a hound searching for a scent while Saetan prowled more slowly. Neither of them paid any attention to her arrival.

    "It was here," Titian said as she searched. "It washere."

    "Can you still sense it?" Saetan asked too quietly.

    Titian's shoulders tensed. "No. But itwas here."

    "I'm not doubting you, Lady."

    "But you sense nothing."

    "No. Which only means that whoever created the spells designed to hide him knew exactly who and what to hide him from."

    "Hekatah did this," Titian said.

    Saetan nodded. "Or Dorothea. Or both. Whoever he is, they made sure he would blend in so there would be no reason to give him a closer look. The only thing they couldn't anticipate was a Harpy catching a trace of his true psychic scent. But why was he lingering here?" He turned to study the doors. "Surreal's room. And Wilhelmina's room."

    Surprised by her own discomfort, Surreal cleared her throat. "It could just be a man who hasn't heard that I retired from the Red Moon houses."

    Saetan gave her a long, assessing look, then turned to Titian, who shook her head. "I agree," he said cryptically. He knocked sharply on Wilhelmina's door. When he got no answer, he went in. He came out a minute later. "She's in the garden with Dejaal. He'll stay with her."

    It took Surreal a moment to connect the name with the young tiger she had frequently seen with Wilhelmina.

    "Graysfang is on his way," Saetan said, giving Surreal a hard look. "He's not to leave your side tonight."

    It took her another moment to fit the pieces together. She bristled. "Wait just a minute, High Lord. I can take care of myself."

    "He's a Warlord," Saetan snapped. "He defends and protects."

    "He wears Purple Dusk to my Gray. You can't assume that this other male wears a lighter Jewel than he does."

    "I'm assuming nothing.He defends and protects ."

    Furious, Surreal strode up to Saetan and grabbed two fistfuls of his robe. "He's not fodder," she snarled. "It's not right for him to die when I'm perfectly capable of defending myself."

    Dry amusement slowly filled Saetan's eyes. "You will not wound his pride by telling him he isn't capable of protecting you. However, since the Queens share your opinion, itis considered acceptable for you to provide the protective shields for both of you and to guard his back."

    "Oh." Releasing him, Surreal tried to smooth the wrinkles in his robe that her fists had made. When she noticed Saetan's amusement growing, she gave up and stepped back.

    "Will you station guards tonight?" Titian asked.

    Saetan thought for a moment, then shook his head. "No. Nothing that obvious tonight. The Ladies in the court will be protected. The rest we'll deal with in the morning." He looked at Surreal. "I'd like you to stay in your room tonight, or the inner garden your room overlooks. No one will be coming at you or Wilhelmina from that direction."

    All of Surreal's instincts sharpened as she considered all the ways an assassin could gain access. "Are all these rooms occupied?" she asked thoughtfully. Slip into an empty room, slip through the garden, enter the victim's room through the glass doors that opened onto the garden...

    "A couple of the guest rooms are empty," Saetan said, "but no one will be coming at you through the garden. Kaelas will be there."

    Daemon took one look at Saetan and Titian, stepped into the corridor, and closed Jaenelle's sitting room door. "Lady Titian," he said respectfully, masking his surprise at seeing her. He knew she was demon-dead, but he hadn't expected to see her at the Hall—and he didn't like her tense stance any more than he liked Saetan's controlled neutrality.

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