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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 104)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(104) by Anne Bishop
  • He released her hands and moved away from her, needing some distance. “I told the merchants I would pay what was on these bills and nothing more.”

    She stared at him, clearly hurt and insulted.

    “I’m sorry, Kermilla, but the shops you’ve been patronizing have fulfilled their tithes until next spring.All the tithes. Not just what would have come to me as income, but also what should have gone into the town’s treasury to pay the guards and maintain the basic necessities of the town itself.”

    “Can’t you pay it?” she asked in a small voice.

    “With what?” Thank the Darkness she didn’t know about the treasure Cassidy had found in the attics here. “I have enough money from my family to pay for the servants and start doing some repairs here.”

    “But you livein a mansion. ”

    “This spring was the first time I set foot in this house. My family hasn’t lived here for generations. Couldn’t live here because the Territory Queen had claimed it for herself.”

    She looked around the room, as if casting about for something she could understand.

    For a moment, he thought she was going to ask him to sell off some of the furnishings in order to pay for another damn dress. But she looked at him with a tiny frown. “Can’t you raise the tithes?”

    “And give more people a reason to leave?” He raked his hand through his hair. “Have you paid any attention when we went driving around the town? Have you noticed all the empty houses and empty shops?”

    “Yes.” Her frowned deepened. “Grayhaven is theimportant town. Why aren’t there more people living here?”

    “Because they’re dead.”

    Her eyes filled with tears. Her lower lip quivered.

    He closed his eyes for a moment to regain control.

    She’s young, inexperienced. She’s lived in a safe little village her whole life. Sweet Darkness, please let her understand this time.

    “Half the Blood in Dena Nehele were destroyed by that witch storm that ripped through the Realms a couple of years ago. Then the landens rose up against us, and half of the survivors died. Do you understand, Kermilla? For every four Blood who were alive three years ago,only one of us is left. ”

    She stared at him, her face wiped clean of all expression.

    Returning to the footstool, he sat and faced her again. “I can’t give you what I don’t have. I think you can be a good Queen, but you’ve let a few questionable companions persuade you into making bad decisions. You’ve lost the respect of some powerful men because of it.”

    “Theran, I’m truly sorry. I didn’t know how bad it’s been for all of you.”

    Why not?he wondered.I’ve been telling you since the first time we took a drive around the town.

    “I guess I didn’t understand that things would be so different here. That ruling would be so different here.”

    Theran’s heart pounded. She sounded regretful, almost apologetic.

    “I’ll do better,” Kermilla said in a subdued voice. “I promise.”

    He kissed the back of her hand, then said with all the conviction he could put in his voice, “We can have a good life, Kermilla. It’s just going to take time and work.”

    Nodding, she pulled away from him gently and left the room. She didn’t join them for dinner that night, which he didn’t think odd, but he did regret that her door remained locked to him when he tapped on it later that night.

    And he tried not to think about the sounds he’d heard a moment before he knocked. Sounds an aural shield could have politely hidden if she hadn’t wanted anyone to hear.

    Sounds that indicated she’d found consolation with someone else that night.

    CHAPTER 22


    Standing in the doorway of the dining room, Dryden announced, “Princes Ferall, Rikoma, Elendill, and Hikaeda have arrived. I have put them in the visitors’ parlor.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire