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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 15)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(15) by Anne Bishop
  • Vae wouldn’t hesitate to bring someone who mattered to her to the attention of the Queen she served. For Ranon to bring the boy within sight of a Queen was a huge act of trust.

    Cassidy stopped at the door leading outside as she thought about this young male Ranon had brought to the boardinghouse. Brother? Or son? Was that the reason he and Shira had been acting so uneasy? Was ittheir son or justhis son?

    Neither, Cassidy decided as she rounded the side of the house and saw the three men. The boy was in his late teens—too old to be anything but a brother or cousin to Ranon.

    Gray’s smile was warm and open when he saw her walking toward them. Ranon’s expression was somewhere between determined and hopeful. And the youngster . . .

    How many friends had he seen taken away only to return broken or crippled—or never to return at all? She had no sense that the Shalador Queens had mistreated their own people, but the Shalador Queens had had little power, controlled as they had been by the Province Queens.

    She stopped when there was enough distance between her and the men that Ranon could dismiss the young Warlord Prince before approaching her, eliminating the requirement of an introduction.

    She watched Ranon assess the distance, and knew the moment when he realized what it meant. A moment later, he signaled the youngster and approached her.

    “Lady, may I introduce my younger brother?” Ranon asked.

    “You may,” Cassidy replied.

    “Lady, this is Prince Janos. Our father was Lord Yairen’s son. Janos, this is Lady Cassidy, the Queen of Dena Nehele.”

    “It is an honor to be introduced to so great a Queen,” Janos replied, bowing too low for the act to be respectful since his Summer-sky Jewel outranked her Rose.

    *You bow too low,* Vae said. *That is rude. Sniffing female parts is rude too. That is confusing because there are good smells there, but it is something you must learn or you will get smacked on the nose. Or nipped.*

    Janos’s face turned dusky red as he snapped upright, making it clear that the insult had been unintentional. Ranon’s coloring wasn’t much better.

    And Gray looked a bit too curious about female smells.

    Thank the Darkness,Cassidy thought when the back door opened and a young woman walked out. Sixteen years old. Maybe seventeen. And beautiful in a way that made the breath catch when she moved. Long dark hair and green eyes. And a Purple Dusk Jewel.

    “What are you doing here, Reyhana?” Ranon growled.

    Surprised by his animosity, Cassidy stared at him. Yes, he outranked the girl, but she was a Queen and should be shown some respect unless Reyhana had done something to earn his anger.

    “I asked the elder Queens if I could work here as a service to the new Queen,” Reyhana replied, her voice a shade too defiant.

    “You’re a Queen. You shouldn’t be doing servants’ work,” Ranon snapped.

    “Why not?” Cassidy asked.

    The silence was more startling than a thunderclap would have been at that moment.

    “Why not?” Ranon said. “She’s a Queen!”

    “A Queen who doesn’t know how to work is of no use to her people,” Reyhana said.

    “Well put, Sister,” Cassidy said. Ranon looked like he’d been clobbered with a fence post, and she was sorry for what she was about to do to him, but the girl was her priority now. “My family is not aristo, Prince Ranon. We never had servants. And even though by caste I am a Queen, I am also a daughter. So when my mother pulled out the rags and mops on cleaning day, I dusted and polished furniture, and mopped the floors right along with her. And when it was my turn to clean the bathroom, I had very bad thoughts about my brother.” She looked Ranon right in the eyes. “Why is it that a man can hit the center of a bull’s eye at one hundred paces and yet can’t manage to get all of his stream in the toilet bowl when he’s standing right over it?”

    Janos and Gray stood there with their mouths hanging open. Ranon, poor man, looked ready to slink away.

    But it was the suppressed snort from the young Queen that told Cassidy she had achieved her goal. She’d talk to the girl later about the proper way to address a Warlord Prince when his Jewels were dominant.

    She smiled at all of them. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I want to take a look at the vegetable garden.” As she walked away, she added on a distaff thread, *Vae, keep an eye on the males. Make sure they’re still breathing.*

    One, two, three . . .

    *Ranon? Ranon! Are you breathing?*

    There, Cassidy thought. By the time Ranon, Gray, and Janos untangled themselves from Vae’s attention, Reyhana would be safely among the older women—the ones Prince Ranon would not dare offend without good reason.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire