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  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(10) by Anne Bishop
  • “I thought Daemonar had given up the baby talk.”

    “Oh, he has for the most part. But he likes the sound of ‘unka,’ and his uncle doesn’t insist that he say the word correctly.”

    Saetan smiled. “I see. Off you go, witch-child. Try to keep them both out of the trees, will you?”

    “I’ll do my best.”

    Later, when he was alone in his suite, preparing to sleep through the midday hours, he allowed himself to remember her in that moment when she showed him a side of Witch a father would never see.

    And he allowed himself one moment to envy his son—and to wish he could have been the lover instead of the father.

    CHAPTER 3

    TERREILLE

    Propped up on one elbow, Ranon watched Shira’s slow return to awareness after the climax that was the finale of a long, slow, intense evening of lovemaking.

    Before coming together in Cassidy’s court, they’d had five years of fast, furtive coupling because his interest would have drawn the wrong kind of attention to the Black Widow Healer. Five years when he’d tried to stay away from her and had been unable to resist being with her. Five years of love always being entwined with fear.

    Twice that five years, actually, if he counted the years before they became lovers. He had been twenty and still adjusting to the Opal power that coursed through him after he’d made the Offering to the Darkness. She had been sixteen—a young Black Widow, born to the Hourglass Covens, who was just beginning the secret training that would hone the Craft she instinctively knew, as well as the open training required to be a Healer.

    They had both been visiting friends in a village that wasn’t home to either of them. They had met by chance when their companions had chosen the same dining house for the midday meal. And that meeting had shaped their hopes and dreams for the next ten years.

    Now, thanks to Cassidy, he and Shira could spend time together openly, could spend the night together, could begin to build alife together. That alone would have earned Cassidy his loyalty. The fact that she was proving to be a far stronger ruler than any of them had expected from a Queen who wore a Rose Jewel had earned his respect and a different kind of love. Her will was his life, and he would do everything he could to help her rule Dena Nehele—and by doing so he would do more than he’d dreamed possible for the Shalador people.

    “What are you looking at?” Shira asked, her dark eyes reflecting the pleasure of their lovemaking as well as amusement.

    His thoughts had drifted beyond her bedroom, but his eyes had been focused on her br**sts.

    He lowered his head and placed one warm kiss between her br**sts before saying, “A Shalador beauty.”

    Her response was a little snort. “I know what I look like.”

    “But you don’t see what I see,” Ranon said. He was considered a handsome man. The sharp features typical of his people gave his face a rugged handsomeness that went well with a warrior’s lean body, and he had the dark eyes, dark hair, and golden skin that made Shaladorans distinct from the brown-skinned, long-lived races or the fair-skinned races like the people of Dena Nehele.

    She had the look of their people, too, and many men had thought the sharp bones of her face and the curves that lacked abundance made her less appealing as a lover—and her sharp tongue and temper discouraged most men from getting close to her. But it was exactly those things about her that excited him in ways no other woman had, and he understood why Gray could look at Cassidy—whom even the most generous supporter could not call pretty—and see a beautiful woman.

    Shira turned her head away from him, an evasive movement that wasn’t typical of her.

    He considered his words.You don’t see what I see. Then he considered the nature of a Black Widow’s Craft and felt a chill settle in his belly.

    “Shira? Have you seen something in a tangled web?”

    “I can’t talk about it.”

    “Can’t or won’t?”

    “Can’t, won’t. The words make no difference.”

    They made a difference to him. His voice went flat. “You saw something in a web of dreams and visions. Didn’t you?”

    “I can’t speak of it, Ranon. None of us will speak of it.”

    The chill in his belly turned to jagged ice. “How many Black Widows have seen this?”

    She sighed, a sound full of exasperation and a hint of anger.

    He shifted away from her, sat up, and wrapped his arms around his bent knees. He had no right to push. If she felt he needed to know, she would have told him. Hell’s fire! She was the one who had pushed him to come to Grayhaven when Theran had first summoned the Warlord Princes to talk about bringing a Queen from Kaeleer. She hadn’t told him anything then, either. She’d just said he had to go.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire