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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 154)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(154) by Anne Bishop
  • “It’s not that much,” she coaxed, sure she could wear him down. He had never failed her before. Ever.

    “I can’t.”

    “But you don’t even know how much.”

    “How much doesn’t matter,” he said with a thread of temper that sounded a little like fear. “When your mother found out about all the debts I’d managed to hide from her, all the debts weighing on the family now for the clothes and things you needed while you were in training . . .” He clasped his hands together tight enough to turn the knuckles white. “She told me that if I gave you so much as a silver mark without her consent she’ll divorce me, and the only things I’ll take from the marriage are my personal belongings and all of your debts.” Now he clasped her hands.

    “I’ve got to think of your brother and sister now, sweets. They did without plenty of things these past few years because you needed so much to get established. But you are established now, ruling a village and having a Queen’s income.”

    “And a Queen’s expenses,” she pouted.

    He released her hands. “Then you need to talk to your Steward about court expenses, or talk to a man of business about investing some of your income to give you some profit.”

    “That’s all well and good once the spring tithes come in, but I need something now!” Kermilla said.

    “But the winter tithes were paid not more than a few days ago,” he protested. “What happened to that income?”

    “A misunderstanding between my Steward and Sabrina’s. It will be straightened out as soon as I talk to her after Winsol, but for now I need two or three hundred gold marks to tide me—”

    Shock in his eyes. Panic as the front door opened. He bolted out of the chair and almost knocked her over in his haste to get out of the room.

    She heard her mother’s voice—and her father’s. Too low to hear the words, but she recognized the tone.

    A minute later, her mother walked into the room and stood near the chair. Kermilla stood up, lifting her chin in a subtle challenge. After all, her mother might wear Summer-sky too, but she was just a witch, not a Queen.

    Her mother studied her for a long moment. Too long. “We’ve given you all the financial help we can. It’s time for you to take responsibility for yourself, especially when you’ve taken responsibility for so many other people’s lives now. I love you, Kermilla, and I love your father. But I will divorce him if that’s what I have to do to protect your brother and sister’s future. I will do that.”

    “You won’t help me at all?” Kermilla asked.

    Her mother sighed. “Financially? No. There’s nothing left to give, and there won’t be for several more years.” She paused. “Are you going to stay with us through the days of Winsol?”

    Kermilla nodded.

    “Good,” her mother said. “It would have hurt your father terribly if you only came to see him in order to get money.”

    TERREILLE

    Cassidy came downstairs and paused, listening. Hearing nothing in the rooms usually occupied by the court, she went along to the kitchen, where the servants were most likely to gather at this hour for a cup of tea and a light snack.

    It stung that Gray had been right to insist that she take a nap. During the first four days of Winsol, she’d visited a dozen villages in the Shalador reserves and the two southernmost Provinces; she’d listened to children in each of those villages sing the same three traditional Winsol songs; she’d toured those villages with the residing Queen or Warlord Prince to see the new loaning libraries and other improvements; and she’d felt overwhelmed by the number of people who had lined those villages’ main streets in order to see the Queen known as Shalador’s Lady.

    A couple of sneezes this morning and Gray had started fretting that she was coming down with a chill from overwork. He’d held his tongue while she attended the performances this morning, since it was the last official function she would make beyond her home village until after Winsol, but when they returned home for the midday meal he insisted she go to bed and rest for the afternoon—and Shira had agreed with him.

    Her breathinghad felt a little raspy and her chest had burned when she coughed, so she didn’t argue with them too much. Now, feeling better after drinking the healing brew Shira had made for her and getting some sleep, she wandered into the kitchen to find her court and family.

    Devra looked over, then pulled two baking sheets out of the oven and set them on trivets to cool. “There you are, Daughter. You look better for the rest.”

    “Uh-huh.” Cassidy was so focused on the baking sheets, she barely heard her mother. “What are those?” They looked like circles of dough, baked golden brown and full of . . . Was that chocolate?

    “Chocolate chunk cookies,” Maydra replied as she continued to blend and stir ingredients in a big bowl on the counter. “A special Winsol treat that’s made in Dena Nehele.”

    “I brought the ingredients to make a couple of our family treats, so Maydra and I have been baking this afternoon,” Devra said.

    Cassidy’s mouth watered.

    Devra transferred the cookies from the baking sheets onto cooling racks. She glanced at Cassidy, then shook her head and chuckled. “The last time you had that look in your eyes, you were seven years old and ate yourself into a stupor.” She picked up a cookie and handed it to Cassidy. “One.”

    Cassidy ignored Maydra’s amused snort and bit into the still-warm cookie. “Oh. Mmmm.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire