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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(90) by Anne Bishop
  • "There is no discussion," Falonar snapped. "He's the Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih. I serve him. He'll do as he pleases." He looked away. "I'd rather be tied to the whipping posts than be sent back to Terreille."

    "There's no reason for you to be punished at all!"

    Falonar smiled grimly. "That's the way it is, Lady Surreal."

    We'll just see about that,Surreal thought.

    5 / Kaeleer

    Daemon watched Saetan pour a large brandy. "Can you drink that?" he asked, keeping his voice mildly curious.

    "It gives me vicious headaches," Saetan replied, pouring a second glass for Daemon. "But I doubt it's going to make the one I've already got any worse, so..." He raised his glass in a salute, then swallowed half the brandy. "Dejaal was Prince Jaal's son."

    Mentioning the tiger Warlord Prince seemed an abrupt change of subject. "Lucivar found the men?"

    "And got the information we wanted before they were executed."

    Daemon studied his father. Something wasn't quite right here. Since he didn't know what questions to ask, he voiced his own concern. "Jaenelle isn't here, is she?"

    Saetan shook his head. "She's gone to Ebon Askavi— and has asked to be left alone for the time being."

    "Are you going to abide by her wishes?" Daemon asked carefully.

    Saetan's look was steady and far too knowing."We are going to abide by her wishes. If she needs to remain cold in order to make the decisions that have to be made, forcing her to feel before she's ready would be cruel."

    Daemon nodded. He didn't like it, but he could accept it. His thoughts went back to the three men who had been waiting to help Osvald abduct Wilhelmina. "Those men served Hekatah and Dorothea?"

    "They worked for them."

    He felt Saetan retreat, so he pressed. "Lucivar executed the men?" It wouldn't have been Lucivar's first kill, sothat couldn't be bothering Saetan. Was there something different about a formal execution?

    "The other males in the First Circle withdrew their right to collect any part of the debt that was owed them for the death of a Brother," Saetan said.

    "What does that mean?" Daemon asked slowly.

    Saetan hesitated, then finished the brandy before replying. "It means they gave those men to Jaal... and to Kaelas."

    6 / Kaeleer

    Fuming silently, Surreal glared at the four men in the High Lord's study. She had snarled her way into this little discussion, only to be bluntly told that they would tolerate her presence as long as she didn't interfere. Her opinion wasn't requested or required.

    If it had been any other men, she would have given them her opinion ofthat, probably delivered on the end of her stiletto. But Lucivar looked like he'd been pushed hard enough and wouldn't hesitate to throw her out—throughthe door. And Saetan and Andulvar Yaslana weren't the kind of men who would allow anyone to step on their authority as Steward and Master of the Guard.

    What really bit her was that Falonar hadn't looked at her once since she'd managed to win enough of the argument to stay in the room. She would have thought that he'd be grateful to have someone speak in his defense. But he ...

    Well, that was fine. That wasjust fine. She didn't need to be there, wasting her time on a thick-skinned, hard-headed male who didn't want her there in the first place.

    She looked at Lucivar at that moment, saw the sharp amusement in his gold eyes, and knew that, now, if she tried to leave, she would be ordered to stay. So instead of cursing herself for her own stubbornness, she cursed Lucivar instead. And seeing his amusement deepen, realized he knew it—the prick.

    Saetan leaned against his blackwood desk and crossed his arms. "Prince Falonar, please explain your actions this morning."

    His voice sounded polite, only mildly curious. Surreal wondered if that was a bad sign.

    Falonar responded. In Surreal's opinion, the dry recitation of actions fell far short of an explanation, but the other men didn't seem to notice that.

    When Falonar finished speaking, Saetan looked at Andulvar and Lucivar, then back at Falonar. "You erred on the side of caution," Saetan said quietly. "That's understandable—and, in a Warlord Prince, also unacceptable. You can't afford the luxury of caution."

    Falonar swallowed hard. "Yes, sir."

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