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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 4)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(4) by Anne Bishop
  • Ranon suppressed a sigh and took a seat beside Shira. That put him across from Cassidy, who had a full plate of steak, eggs, and fried potatoes.

    “Coffee?” Shira asked, holding up the pot.

    “Thanks.” He scraped what was left of the porridge into a bowl. It was food, and he was thankful to have it.

    That didn’t mean he had to like it.

    As he dug in, Gray turned to Cassidy and asked, “Will you be coming out to the garden to work?”

    “Not this morning,” Cassidy replied. “I’m going with Shira to check on the landen girl who was injured.”

    Ranon tensed. So did every other man who was still at the table. But no one challenged that statement, which was a welcome change since Theran was always yapping whenever Cassidy wanted to leave the estate.

    Archerr, an Opal-Jeweled Warlord Prince, said, “Prince Spere and I have escort duty this morning. If you think the First Circle should show a stronger presence, I can ask Prince Shaddo and Lord Cayle to stand as escorts too.”

    Archerr kept his eyes on Cassidy, but Ranon knew the question was directed at him as Talon’s second-in-command. He tipped his head in a subtle nod. Additional escorts weren’t needed to ensure Cassidy’s safety during this visit, but it didn’t hurt to remind the townspeople that the Queen was served and protected by strong men.

    Then Gray said, “Perhaps Lady Vae would be willing to join you.”

    “I don’t think any of us could stop her,” Cassidy said.

    Ranon snorted softly. Before Cassidy’s arrival, no one here had seen a Sceltie. Vae had been an education for all of them.

    Powell, the Prince who was the Steward of the court, pushed away from the table. “With your permission, Lady, we’ll leave you to begin the day’s work.”

    Cassidy nodded. “When I return, I’ll stop at your office to review anything that requires my attention.”

    “Certainly. Ranon? When you have a moment, I’d like to discuss the Lady’s visit to your home village.”

    “I’ll join you shortly,” Ranon replied.

    “Lady Shira and I will be ready in half an hour,” Cassidy told Archerr.

    “I’ll see you later,” Gray said, brushing a fingertip over the back of Cassidy’s hand.

    He’s come so far so fast,Ranon thought as Gray and the rest of the men left the dining room.Now he’s acting more like the Warlord Prince he should have been.

    When the last man left the room, he pushed aside the half-eaten bowl of porridge—and Cassidy pushed the full plate of food in front of him.

    “Lady,” he protested.

    “I ate,” Cassidy said. “But we’ve agreed to live lean and not cook more than we need for each meal. You were out with the honey pear trees, and I had a feeling that there might not be anything left by the time you got here.”

    Living lean. In the reserves, winter was called the Season of Hunger, so he knew about not wasting food. And he knew the unspoken rule of this court: Once everyone was served, what was left could be eaten by anyone who wanted more. The Blood’s bodies needed more fuel than landens’, and the darker the Jewel a person wore, the more food that person needed in order to remain a healthy vessel for the power that lived within. So everyone was willing to eat another helping when it was available.

    Because he’d been late, and because of Theran’s remarks, he hadn’t expected to get more than porridge that even hunger barely made tolerable.

    “If you have no objection to a solitary meal, Shira and I really should be going.”

    “I’ve no objection,” he said. He touched his fork to the edge of the plate. “Thanks for this.”

    He waited until Cassidy and Shira left. Then he began eating with enthusiasm. As he poured the last of the coffee from the pot, it occurred to him that Cassidy had not only saved some food for him, she had used a warming spell on the plate so the food wouldn’t get cold.

    A small thing, perhaps. A simple courtesy. But when simple courtesies came from a Queen, it said a great deal about how she would treat her people—and, hopefully, how she would treat his.



  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire