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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(84) by Anne Bishop
  • Aaron smiled. "Well, what did youthink Consorts do at night?"

    Daemon burst out laughing.

    2 / Kaeleer

    Osvald knocked on Wilhelmina's door, then stepped back and firmly gripped the carved wooden box with both hands.

    It hadn't taken much persuasion to convince Alexandra to keep most of her people in their rooms. It had taken more to convince her to send Leland and Philip down to breakfast in order to give the appearance that everyone else was merely late. With so many absent, no one would be sure exactly who was missing until he was long gone from the Hall.

    Assuming, of course, that the spells Dorothea and the Dark Priestess had prepared to cut a "door" in the High Lord's defensive shields actually worked.

    No. He wouldn't doubt. The spells that had kept him from being detected were proof enough that Dorothea and the Dark Priestess knew how to deal with the bastard who ruled this place. He would escape with the lesser of the two prizes, true, but that lesser prize, sufficiently squeezed, might be enough bait to in turn capture Jaenelle Angelline.

    Everything was in place. The three men Dorothea had arranged to help him were waiting at the bridge. Therewas a Dark Altar beside the Hall, but she had warned him that the detection spells around that Altar would immediately alert the High Lord, and he would never get the Gate open in time to escape. So he would take Wilhelmina to Goth, where Lord Jorval would help him reach another of the Gates.

    By this evening, he would be back in Terreille with his prize, and Alexandra and the fools who were with her would still be explaining Wilhelmina's disappearance to the High Lord... or dying.

    Smiling, Osvald knocked on Wilhelmina's door again. A moment later, impatient, he knocked harder. She was in there. He'd made sure of it this time. What was taking her so long to open a damn door?

    It was tempting to use one of the simple compulsion spells Dorothea had prepared for him, but he only had two of them and didn't want to waste one for this. Still, every minute's delay increased the chance of someone noticing him.

    He was just about to give in and trigger one of the compulsion spells when the door finally opened. "Good morning, Lady Wilhelmina." Smiling, he lifted the box just enough to draw it to her attention. "Lady Alexandra asked me to bring this to you."

    "What is it?" Wilhelmina asked, sounding anything but eager.

    "A token of her regard for you—and a gesture of goodwill. She's planning to leave soon and has felt distressed that her concern for you may have been misunderstood. She hopes that, by accepting this little memento, you'll be able to remember her fondly in the days to come."

    Wilhelmina still looked wary. "Why didn't she bring it herself?"

    Osvald looked at her sadly. "She feared you might refuse the gift and didn't want to face that rejection in person."

    "Oh," Wilhelmina said quietly, her wariness slowly changing to sympathy. "I hold no ill feelings toward her."

    He held the box out, both to entice and to keep his face as far away from it as possible. When she opened the lid, a drugged mist would burst out of the box. Startled, she would gasp and inhale enough of the highly potent drug to make her sufficiently compliant so that he could get her away from the room and this corridor before forcing the second, liquid dose down her throat.

    Inside the room, something thumped to the floor.

    That damned striped cat.

    Osvald triggered the first compulsion spell and shaped the command.Step into the corridor and close the door. Step into the corridor and close the door. Step into...

    He smiled when, looking slightly confused, Wilhelmina obeyed.

    "I was told to report your reaction to the gift," he said, sounding apologetic about putting her to the extra bother.

    She stayed close to the door, her hand still gripping the knob.

    Cursing silently, he triggered the second compulsion spell.Step close to the box and raise the lid. Step close to the box...

    Moving as if her muscles fought against the effort, Wilhelmina stepped close to the box and slowly lifted the lid.

    3 / Kaeleer

    With Graysfang beside her, Surreal wandered around one of the inner gardens. The cryptic remarks Jaenelle and Karla had made at breakfast about a new variation intrigued and worried her.

    There were plenty of sexual variations that gave the male an advantage, so she didn't think they were talking aboutthat... unfortunately. Daemon was getting burned by his own sexual energy, and the strain of trying to keep it leashed sufficiently in order not to scare Jaenelle was starting to show. She wasn't sure how much longer he could endure the easy affection Jaenelle gave to the other males in the First Circle before he lashed out. Maybe she should talk to the High Lord ...

    Graysfang snarled. Before she could ask what was wrong, he took off, heading straight for the wall. As he approached, he leaped and climbed air as if he were climbing a steep hill, scrambled over the roof, and was gone.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire