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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 109)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(109) by Anne Bishop
  • “Is there any place we could get a drink and sit for a bit?” Ferall asked.

    “There is. It’s down this way.”

    They’d had enough. Whatever they had come here to see, whatever questions they had wanted answered, they had gotten more than they’d expected.

    So he took them to Elders’ Park and got them coffee and food, and gave them silence as they watched the workers return to their assignments. And knew with absolute certainty that something had changed.

    They arrived back at the Queen’s Residence earlier than anticipated, so Ranon took the other men around to the back of the house. He didn’t think any of them knew any more about gardens than he did, but they looked around politely as he pointed out the Healing House and the cottage Gray wanted to convert into a loaning library.

    “Gray is working with Lord Marcus, Prince Sadi’s man of business, to figure out costs and what will be needed,” Ranon said. “Since many people can’t afford books right now, he wants to have this library and obtain a wide variety of books to educate and entertain. The villagers would pay a couple of coppers to take a book for a month, then return it. We want to keep the fee small enough that people can afford it, but it also has to pay for the books themselves, the librarian’s wages, and the repairs and upkeep of the cottage.”

    “Gray thought of this?” Hikaeda asked.

    “Gray is a bundle of ideas,” Ranon said dryly.

    Powell had given Gray his own little space in the Steward’s office to stash all his notes about possibilities for Eyota in particular and Dena Nehele in general. Only the knowledge that every available person was going to be helping with the harvest this year, and the need to get the shops finished up and stocked with merchandise, kept Gray from trying to add one more thing to the list of projects to be accomplished before winter set in.

    They moved away from the wall and ended up standing near the table and chairs under the big tree.

    *Ranon!*

    The joyful shout was the only warning he had before he turned and ended up with his arms full of Sceltie. Coughing from the dust that rose up as Khollie smacked into his chest, he said, “What have you been doing?”

    *The females were cleaning Shira’s den. I helped.*

    The tail banging against him with enthusiasm raised more dust.

    “You used your tail as a dust rag, didn’t you?”

    *Yes! Shira says you need to wash my tail before I’m allowed in the house.* Khollie squirmed as he tried to lick Ranon’s ear.

    The tail wasn’t the only thing that needed to get washed.

    Ranon’s face heated as the other men watched with amused interest. He hated himself for feeling the tiniest bit of shame, but that didn’t change the truth. Khollie was different. There was a sweetness to him that wasn’t about his being younger than the other Scelties, or just a trait of personality. He’d seen children who had a similar kind of sweetness. They weren’t the same as other children. Weren’t quite right.

    Not that Khollie wasn’t a bright boy. He was. He needed things explained carefully, but only one time. And he did wear a Tiger Eye Jewel.

    But if Ranon had to be a Sceltie’s human, why couldn’t it have been someone like Keely or Darcy or, Hell’s fire, even Darkmist? Catching sight of the Opal-Jeweled Sceltie Warlord Prince had made Ferall stop and stare.

    Darkmist made hardened warriors sit up and take notice. Khollie, the homely little patchwork dog, just amused them.

    Elendill shifted to the left, giving Ranon a clear view of his brother Janos—who was bent over double with his arms wrapped around himself. Laughing.

    But the boy straightened up quickly enough and headed over to them.

    “Come on, Khollie,” Janos said. “Ranon has to stay with the other humans, so I’ll help you wash up.”

    *I owe you,* Ranon said as Khollie jumped out of his arms and whapped him in the face with a dusty tail.

    *You do,* Janos agreed.

    Not a youth anymore, despite being eighteen,Ranon thought as he watched Janos and Khollie walk to the house.And much changed even from last summer.

    One of the reasons for those changes walked out of the house. Reyhana wore a long, simple summer dress and sandals.

    Ranon heard Janos’s sharp command that stopped Khollie from a joyful leap. He watched the way his brother went down on one knee to be closer to the cowering dog’s height and pointed to Reyhana, who nodded as if agreeing with Janos’s words. He watched Khollie straighten up, no longer afraid once he understood that Janos’s sharpness had been intended to protect him from doing something wrong—like jumping into Reyhana’s freshly bathed arms.

    And he saw the way Janos looked at Reyhana, saw the brush of fingers against her hand when Janos rose to take Khollie to the laundry room for a bath.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire