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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 185)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(185) by Anne Bishop
  • Ferall entered the room, still wearing his heavy winter coat and a shapeless hat.

    He didn’t sense any shields around the man, but Ranon instinctively put a skintight Opal shield around himself under his clothing, just in case. A warrior like Ferall usually held on to his outer gear when he figured he’d have to leave in a hurry—and that usually meant after splattering the walls with blood.

    He smiled and took a step forward as if he didn’t see the fury in the other man’s eyes.

    Then Ferall grabbed two fistfuls of Ranon’s shirt and slammed his back against the wall.

    “You self-serving son of a whoring bitch,” Ferall snarled. “Got what you wanted so you just let the rest of us flounder, is that it?”

    Clamping his hands around Ferall’s wrists to prevent a grab for his throat, Ranon snarled back, “What in the name of Hell are you talking about?”

    “You. This.” Ferall shook him. “Didn’t we work hard enough, try hard enough? Couldn’t you give us a chance before you cut us loose? I almost had a life. Damn you to the bowels of Hell, Ranon, I almost had a life! A widow with two young children, a boy and a girl. Lost her husband to one of those twisted bitches a few years back. Had the courage to let me into her life and into her bed. Let me be around her children. You know what that means, Ranon.You know. ”

    Yes, he knew. And he understood now about those special gifts Ferall had purchased for Winsol.

    Ferall leaned in, and despite the shield, Ranon could feel his chest muscles bruising under the pressure of the other man’s fists.

    “I never had much of a home when I was young, and nothing you could call ahome since I was fifteen. Do you know what it feels like to settle into a place and not have everyone look at you with fear in their eyes because they’ve gotten used to you, gotten used to the idea that you’re there to protect them as well as be an instrument of the Queen’s will? Do you know what it feels like to be with a woman who cares about you? To have a boy waiting to see you at the end of the day to play a game of toss before dinner or have a little girl snuggle up next to you wanting you to read her a story? Do you?”

    “I know,” Ranon said quietly. And he did know about that particular dream. He was hoping to have those same things with Shira someday.

    “Then why?” Ferall pressed him harder into the wall. “You bastard! Tell me why!”

    “Let him go.”

    For a moment, Ranon wondered why Vae’s snarled words sounded so strange. Then he looked toward the door and thought,Oh, shit.

    Cassie stood there, her red hair flowing down her back and her feet planted in a fighting stance. One hand held that club she’d used to defend James Weaver and his family back in Grayhaven. Vae stood beside her.

    Both witches snarled at Ferall.

    Pushing away from Ranon—and giving him a last knock into the wall in the process—Ferall took a step toward Cassidy, measured the wild look in her eyes, and took a step back.

    “Why didn’t you give us a chance to prove ourselves before cutting us loose like that?” Ferall asked, his voice ringing with frustration and lost hope.

    “We weren’t trying to cut anyone loose, Prince Ferall,” Cassidy said.

    “Then why set the line at the Heartsblood River?”

    She must have heard the same leashed pain in Ferall’s voice that he did because she lost her defensive anger and stammered, “It’s a natural boundary, and we didn’t want to be greedy.”

    Oh, the look of frustrated disbelief on Ferall’s face.

    Pulling off his hat, Ferall slapped it on his thigh and roared, “Well, Hell’s fire, woman! For just once in your life,be greedy !”

    The club slipped from Cassidy’s suddenly limp fingers and almost conked Vae on the head. Cassidy stood there with her mouth hanging open, clearly shocked by the idea of being greedy.

    It took her a long moment to gather herself. “If you’re not comfortable having your family live under Kermilla’s hand, you can relocate, move to a village on the other side of the river. There is plenty of room.”

    “I could do that,” Ferall agreed. “But what about the other eleven Warlord Princes who live in that Province? What about the people in the towns and villages that I’ve been ruling on behalf of the Queen? What about the farmers who don’t want to leave land that’s been held in their families for generations? What about them, Lady? What should I tell them when I pack up my family and move across the river?”

    Ranon watched Cassidy turn paler and paler until her freckles were the only color left in her face.

    Come on, Cassie,he thought.Step up to the line.

    He couldn’t nudge her, couldn’t urge her. She didn’t ask for his opinion. Didn’t even look his way for some kind of sign. Her eyes stayed on Ferall.

    Then Cassidy, Queen of Shalador Nehele, squared her shoulders and quietly said, “You’re right, Prince Ferall. So many people should not be asked to leave their homes. But one man should not make such an important choice for so many.” She swallowed hard. “So this is my decision. Go home, Ferall. Talk to the other Warlord Princes. Talk to the District Queens who rule in your Province. If, on behalf of themselves and the people they rule, the majority of them want to break from Dena Nehele and join us as part of Shalador Nehele, you will all be welcome.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire