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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 145)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(145) by Anne Bishop
  • She rushed up to him and gave him an enthusiastic hug. “I did. And I was pleased to see so many people doing a little something to make the town look festive for Winsol.” She played with a button on his shirt, looked up at him through her lashes, and gave him the smile that always made men sigh indulgently before doing what she wanted. “But I was alittle bit careless because everything looked so wonderful.” She caught her lower lip between her teeth. “So I’m going to need more money in order to finish my shopping for Winsol.”

    She saw it in his eyes, felt it in the way he seemed to step away from her without actually moving. A bad miscalculation on her part. She should have remembered that he wasn’t used to aristo measurements of spending. A trifling expense to her was an almost unthinkable extravagance to him.

    “I’m sorry, Kermilla.” Now he did step back. “I gave you everything that could be spared from the tithes and the estate. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough.”

    “Oh, Theran.” She grasped his hands. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I see this grand house, and I forget that . . .” No, that wasn’t the right way to regain the ground she’d just lost.

    “It doesn’t matter.”

    Why not?That he gave up without anger or arguing troubled her.

    “I need to talk to you about something else.” He led her over to the stuffed chair and footstool that were tucked on one side of the room. Once she was settled in the chair, he sat on the footstool.

    “What is it? What’s wrong?” Something bad. She could tell that much.

    “It’s about your friend Correne.”

    “Theran, I haven’t even written to her lately, so if she’s making remarks about Cassidy—”

    “She’s dead, Kermilla. She enraged a Warlord Prince who was visiting friends for Winsol and he killed her, right on the main street in full view of half the village.”

    She couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. “Why?”

    Theran took her hands. The warmth of his hands showed her how cold she’d become, chilled to the bone by his words.

    “She wasn’t liked or trusted by the Warlord Princes who lived near her village,” Theran said. “Whatever leash had kept some of her behavior under control disappeared after her visit here. She’d been shopping and stole some items. Didn’t even try to be subtle about it. A boy who was in the shop with his older brothers saw her and told the merchant, who then reported her to the village guards. She claimed that the merchant should give her those things as ‘gifts’ because she was a Queen.” He snorted softly. “Which just proved she’d been tainted by the bitches who had ruled here before.”

    She didn’t realize she’d been whimpering until he made soothing noises.

    “I’m sorry, Kermilla, but it’s important that you know what this girl was like. You have to understand that befriending her and being influenced by her the way you were is going to make it harder for the Warlord Princes and Queens to trust you. They aren’t going to tolerate having that kind of Queen rule in Dena Nehele. Not again.”

    She didn’t speak. Couldn’t speak.

    “She had to reveal everything she had taken. Because of her age, the humiliation was deemed sufficient punishment. But the next day, she attacked the boy when he was out with friends . . .” Theran closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were filled with grief. “The village council didn’t give me the details. I can find out if you need to know. But they called in Healers from neighboring villages to help the village Healer. Even with that much skill, not all of what she did to the boy can be healed. He acted with honor—and he’ll never be the same because of what she did.”

    What kind of people are they to kill a Queen over some stupid boy?

    “The Warlord Prince who was in the village hunted Correne down and executed her on the main street.”

    She swallowed against the sickness clogging her throat. “What did they do to him? What did they do to the bastard who killed a Queen?”

    He gave her a queer look. “Nothing. He did the same thing he’d been doing his whole life—eliminating an enemy who had no honor.”

    She pulled her hands out of his. “I don’t feel well. I’m going up to my room to rest.”

    “Of course.” He stood up and held out a hand.

    She didn’t want to touch him. Wasn’t sure she could stand to touch him.

    She’d known the males here could be brutal. After all,every Warlord Prince was brutal. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to see that Theran wasn’t any different from the rest of them.

    She looked into his eyes and saw grief for the boy, who was still alive, and no regret—none at all—for Correne’s death. Did she really want to live among these people? Could she survive among these people?

    She stood up, avoiding his hand. Somehow, that didn’t surprise him.

    He opened the door for her. She walked out of the study.

    Theran’s dismissal of Correne’s death troubled her, even scared her—but it didn’t scare her half as much as seeing the dark pleasure in Julien’s eyes and knowing that pleasure was there because he’d heard the news.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire