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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 171)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(171) by Anne Bishop
  • “It’s settled,” she agreed.

    She’d barely said the words when someone tapped on the door. Dryden and the footman entered, carrying a tray of glasses and bottles of sparkling wine.

    Seeing the number of bottles, Talon and Powell glanced at each other, then shrugged. Clearly, they had both sent an order to Dryden in anticipation of reaching an agreement.

    Bottles were opened and glasses were filled.

    The men and Shira raised their glasses.

    “To Lady Cassidy and the Territory of Shalador Nehele,” Talon said.

    Their voices rang all around her. “To Lady Cassidy.”

    CHAPTER 38

    TERREILLE

    The next morning, the First Circle moved quietly, and they moved fast.

    By the time Cassidy, Shira, and Reyhana had finished breakfast, Ranon and Gray were sitting down with Eyota’s elders and Tradition Keepers to explain the court’s decision to create a new Territory. By the time Cassidy and Reyhana had settled at the desk in the Queen’s office to sort and review all the requests and invitations again, the liaisons for the five southern Provinces were meeting with the Warlord Princes in those Provinces to arrange a formal visit with Ranon and Jared Blaed.

    By the time the messenger arrived at the Grayhaven estate and delivered the letter from Lady Cassidy to Prince Theran Grayhaven, every Warlord Prince who lived south of the Heartsblood River knew something was about to happen—and they began sharpening their knives.

    Worn out by a morning of useless meetings and a midday meal that still churned sour in his belly, Theran returned to the Grayhaven mansion and found Julien waiting for him. The look in the butler’s eyes chilled him because it signified another clash between butler and future Queen.

    “Prince Grayhaven.”

    “Julien?”

    Julien called in a letter and held it out to him. “After you left, Lady Kermilla went into your study and opened the mail.All the mail.”

    “Why in the name of Hell would she do that?” The words were out before he could stop himself.

    “I wouldn’t know.” The tone said the butler knew quite well why a Queen would go through mail that wasn’t addressed to her—and what happened to a man if she found something she didn’t like. “When this letter arrived, I felt it was best to deliver it to you personally since it has Lady Cassidy’s seal.”

    Shucking off his heavy coat, Theran handed it to Julien and took the letter. “I’ll be in my study.”

    “Lady Kermilla wanted to be informed the moment you returned home.”

    Should I take my time delivering the message?That was the underlying question.

    “Inform the Lady that I’ve returned,” Theran said as he walked away.

    Kermilla wanted Julien dismissed. Actually, she wanted the man banned from the town because, on his best days, Julien was barely courteous to her. On the days when memories rode him hard, he couldn’t stand being around her. Since she was still a guest, she had to tolerate the butler. Once she became Queen . . .

    Problem was, Julien was damn good at his job, took on more than a butler’s typical duties, and by standing between Kermilla and the rest of the staff, was the only reason the other servants hadn’t resigned.

    Why was everyone so resistant and so resentful? Yes, she was sometimes difficult or inconsiderate, but maturity and work that made full use of her abilities would soften those edges. Sure she had a temper, but that just meant she had spine and spirit. And that spine and spirit were the reasons Kermilla was the right Queen for Dena Nehele—the one who could represent their land and people with grace and skill.

    The servants grumbled on a daily basis, which he didn’t understand since he hadn’t seen Kermilla doing anything that justified the grumbles. He could ignore the servants for the most part, and did—as long as Julien managed to keep them from leaving. Couldn’t anyone understand that it was an anxious time for all of them and the next few weeks would be so critical? Nerves were a bit frayed and tempers were sharper than they would be normally. But once Kermilla had the assurance of her place in Dena Nehele, everything would settle down.

    Could he give her any assurance?

    The Warlord Princes he’d met with today had listened—and had offered nothing. Not one indication that they would be willing to accept Kermilla, let alone serve her. And not one spark of interest in meeting her. There was wariness over being seen in her company because Talon had declared her an enemy of the current Queen of Dena Nehele, but there wasn’t any sign of the suppressed interest he’d expected once he’d hinted that Talon’s declaration would no longer apply come spring.

    What was he supposed to do about that? Having the backing of at least some of the Warlord Princes and minor Queens was crucial.

    He riffled through the opened mail. Invitations? Well, he didn’t mind her opening those. Not really. After all, she’d be attending those events with him, so she should have a say in which ones they accepted. But the rest . . .

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire