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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(83) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan snarled in frustration. "Except for that bitch Vania, no one hasdone anything yet that justifies an execution." He shook his head. "We've made sure nothing will happen tonight. After breakfast, I'll talk to Jaenelle about getting those...people... out of the Hall and out of Kaeleer."

    "I suppose that's best." They walked in silence for a while. "Areall of Jaenelle's relatives here?"

    "Except for Robert Benedict. He died a few years ago— and was in the Dark Realm for a very brief time."

    Titian stopped walking. Saetan turned to face her. She lifted her hand and pressed it lightly against his face.

    "And, during that time, did he have a private conversation with the High Lord of Hell?" she asked with malevolent sweetness.

    "Yes," Saetan replied too softly, "he did."

    Chapter Six

    1 / Kaeleer

    Daemon's nerves were raw when he and Jaenelle walked into the dining room the next morning, and the speculative looks from the other males in the First Circle didn't help. The fact that it was Jaenelle's moontime and he couldn't have done more than warm the bed didn't matter. He knew what was expected of a Consort, and he knew the other men were aware that he wasn't fulfilling those duties.

    He tried to push those thoughts aside. There were reasons to be alert that day.

    Lucivar stood near the sideboard, sipping a mug of coffee, while Khardeen and Aaron filled their plates. Leland and Philip, the only members of Alexandra's entourage who were present, were eating breakfast at one end of the table. Surreal and Karla were at the other end.

    A greedy look filled Jaenelle's eyes when she focused on the mug in Lucivar's hand. "Are you going to share that?"

    Lucivar bared his teeth in a smile. "No."

    She gave him a frigid look but kissed his cheek anyway.

    Daemon could have cheerfully killed Lucivar for being given that kiss. It was a grumpy, habitual kiss, but still a kiss—which was more thanhe'd gotten that morning. Since killing Lucivar wasn't an option—at that moment, anyway—he watched Jaenelle select two slices of pear and a spoonful of scrambled eggs.

    As she turned away from the sideboard, Lucivar reached over, jabbed a fork into a hunk of steak, and dumped it on her plate. "You need the meat today. Eat it."

    She snarled at him. Lucivar just sipped his coffee.

    "Long night?" Daemon quietly asked Lucivar.

    "I've had longer," Lucivar replied with a smile that turned sharp as he flicked a glance at Philip and Leland, then raised his voice just enough to carry. "What about you, old son? You look like you put in a long night yourself."

    "It was interesting," Daemon said cautiously. He wasn't about to admit that he and Jaenelle had played cards until, bleary-eyed, they had fallen into bed for a few hours of restless, broken sleep.

    Jaenelle snorted. "There's something a bit sneaky about the positions in variation twenty-seven that give a male so much of an advantage, but I haven't worked it out... yet."

    Daemon noticed Philip's white-lipped anger—and he noticed the way Khardeen and Aaron snapped to attention.

    "You know twenty-seven variations?" Khardeen asked slowly.

    Daemon said nothing.

    "Yes, he does," Jaenelle grumbled. "And that variation is brilliant. Sneaky, but brilliant." She studied the platter of steaks, selected two more pieces, and headed for the table.

    Before Daemon could reach for a plate, Khardeen was holding one arm and Aaron had the other, and they were hustling him out of the dining room.

    "We'll get breakfast later," Khary said as he and Aaron led Daemon to the nearest empty room. "First, we need to have a little talk."

    "It's not what you think," Daemon said. "It's really nothing."

    "Nothing?" Aaron sputtered, while Khary said, "If you've figured out a new variation of 'cradle' that gives a man the advantage, it's your duty as a Brother of the First Circle to share it with the rest of us before the coven figures out how to beat it."

    He just stared at them, not sure he had heard them correctly.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire