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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 110)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(110) by Anne Bishop
  • A hard choice for a young man who burned for more than a few kisses and petting. Reyhana was the Shalador Queen with the most potential in her generation, and it would be a couple of years or more before she would have her Virgin Night. It would cost Janos his life if an imprudent coupling damaged the girl in any way.

    But he knew what it was like to be young and have a woman hold your heart. After all, Shira had been sixteen when he’d fallen in love with her.

    Reyhana walked toward them, and Ranon watched for the moment when the other men picked up her psychic scent and realized she was a Queen. And he wondered why the men tensed, especially Hikaeda and Ferall.

    “Gentlemen,” Reyhana said, tipping her head in a small bow.

    Ranon made the introductions.

    “Lady Reyhana,” Ferall replied as the men gave her a matching vow.

    “We have about half an hour before the meal,” Reyhana said. “Would you like to sit out here and have a glass of ale while you wait? It’s a lovely spot when there’s a breeze like there is today.”

    “That would be welcome,” Ferall said.

    Reyhana turned her head, her eyes having the distant look the Blood sometimes had when they communicated on a psychic thread.

    “Are you staying here?” Rikoma asked her.

    “Yes. I have the privilege of working as part of Lady Cassidy’s court to learn Protocol and the Old Ways of the Blood, as well as the rights and duties of a Queen and court. It’s very exciting to be a part of this new beginning for all our people.”

    Elendill looked past her shoulder. “You have many servants here?”

    Reyhana laughed softly. “The Queen’s court acts as a training ground. We have a butler, a housekeeper and her assistant, and a cook. The footmen and maids are all young people from the village who want training in domestic service. They get training; we get extra help.”

    “There aren’t many aristo houses anymore that need servants,” Hikaeda said.

    “No, but there are boardinghouses and inns,” Reyhana said. “And there are people like Prince Spere and Prince Haele who share a cottage in the Queen’s square rather than having the whole court living here. Being members of the First Circle, their residence is cared for by the servants here, but there are others who would be willing to pay to have some cooking and cleaning done. Aristo houses are not the only places that need such skills.”

    Reyhana’s face, like her voice, shone with enthusiasm. Hearing a sound, she looked behind her, then looked at the men. Her green eyes twinkled with good humor. “Please step aside to leave a clear path to the table. The girls are still getting used to being around Warlord Princes, and they get nervous. But they’re getting better and drop fewer things. We’ve only had one broken glass this week.”

    Birdie, who was now assistant housekeeper and assistant trainer of maids, carried the pitcher of ale. Copper, a village girl in training, carried the tray of glasses.

    Watching Copper’s hands shake as she glanced at the men and crept after Birdie, Ranon held his breath. Then pitcher and tray were on the table and both girls were retreating back to the house.

    “You’ll notice there is a shield around the edge of the tray,” Reyhana said. “It won’t help anything if the tray is dropped, but it does prevent a wobble from tipping a glass off the tray.”

    “Did you think of that?” Rikoma asked.

    “No, Vae did.”

    The men laughed, and Ranon guessed that had been Reyhana’s intention. Warlord Princes were lethal predators, and they were used to being feared. Being given an opportunity to laugh with a woman was a moment both appreciated and prized.

    Reyhana went back into the house. Hikaeda poured the ale and passed the glasses. For a few minutes, the men looked at the gardens and spoke little.

    Then Cassidy walked out of the house. Like Reyhana, she wore a long, light summer dress, but her hair had been put up in a simple knot at the back of her head.

    She had just reached Ranon when . . .

    “Cassie!”

    *Cassie? Cassie!*

    Cassidy crossed her eyes and made a face as Gray and Vae caught up with her.

    *Hat, Cassie!*

    “No,” Cassidy said. “If I put a hat on now, the hair will fall down, and it’s too hot today to have it down.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire