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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 29)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(29) by Anne Bishop
  • Formal. Official. Whatever she wanted to say would be said to the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, not Daemon Sadi.

    They sat quietly, studying each other, both comfortable with the silence. Both aware of the tension building in the room.

    “Years ago, when you found me again after Titian was killed, you arranged for me to train in a Red Moon house,” Surreal said.

    He swallowed the anger now as he’d swallowed it then. “You were little more than a child, and you were whoring on the streets to stay alive. That wasn’t the place for you. I had no right to dictate your choice of profession, but I had the means of providing you with an education that would give you more choices—and a better living.”

    “I wouldn’t have accepted your friendship or assistance if you had tried to impose your will over mine.”

    He’d known that.

    “The reason you gave for helping me was that my dual bloodline meant I’d live for centuries. Two thousand years. Maybe more. That might be half the usual lifetime of the long-lived races, but it’s a very long time compared to everyone else.” She shifted in her seat. “That didn’t have much significance for me because I kept traveling all around Terreille, working in Red Moon houses and honing my skills as an assassin. It might be a decade or more before I circled back to a particular city. I saw young men who counted me as their first experience with sex turn into old men. Didn’t mean much. They were a passing moment in my life.”

    She was working up to something, so he waited, saying nothing.

    “These weeks I’ve spent with the Dea al Mon . . .” Surreal sighed. “Hell’s fire, Sadi. I was having breakfast one morning with Grandmammy Teele, and I realized she was an old woman. Then I looked at Gabrielle—a beautiful, vibrant Queen in her late twenties—and I knew the day would come when I’d be visitingher and see an old woman. And Chaosti. Powerful. Virile. Guarding his land, his people, and his Queen. Loving his wife and son. They aren’t temporary people in my life. They’re the other side of my family, and I’ll see them grow old. I’ll see them die. And even if they become demon-dead for a while, most likely they’ll no longer be a part of my life.”

    There was a lump clogging Daemon’s throat. He swallowed it before he could speak. “What’s your point?”

    “The visit with my mother’s people helped me decide what I’m going to do with the next few decades of my life.”

    He raised an eyebrow as a silent question.

    “I’m going to work for you.”

    He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but it wasn’t this. “Why?”

    “Because you don’t have time to waste,” Surreal said quietly.

    The truth of those words jabbed his heart.

    “Daemon, you waited seventeen hundred years for a dream. You’ve got, at best, a few decades to be with the love of your life. Whether you admit it or not, there must be an hourglass inside your head, and every day that ends is one more grain of sand falling to the bottom half of the glass.”

    “Don’t,” he whispered.

    “You don’t have time to investigate minor problems reported by Province Queens or District Queens—or time for petty shit like the game Vulchera tried to play.” She smiled coldly. “For a people who keep themselves isolated, the Dea al Mon are surprisingly well informed when they choose to be. So I did hear about the party at Lady Rhea’s country house and how Vulchera foolishly tried to ensnare the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan in a bit of sexual blackmail.”

    Did you also hear how the High Lord of Hell killed her?“What are you proposing?”

    “I’m going to be your second-in-command.” Something fierce and feral flashed in those gold-green eyes. “A second-in-command you can trust to guard your back.”

    They didn’t speak the name. They didn’t need to.

    “I figure I’ll work from the town house in Amdarh at least half the time.”

    “Missed being in a city?” Daemon asked mildly.

    “Hell’s fire, yes. Taking a bath under a canopy of leafy vines is romantic in its own way—until a large bug falls off a leaf and into the bathwater.”

    It was tempting to tease her and ask if it was a beetle, but that would have been unkind, and he understood the generosity of the offer she was making. He needed to work, needed the challenge of taking care of the SaDiablo family’s estates and fortune, needed the demands of ruling Dhemlan. If he spent his time and strength on nothing but Jaenelle, he would smother her and give her no opportunity for a life beyond what they shared. But letting someone else take the burden of routine visits to the Province Queens meant being able to spend time at Jaenelle’s house in Scelt—and spend time with the friends who would be only memories a century from now.

    “I also plan to look for a residence here in Halaway,” Surreal said. “Maybe see if Rainier would like to share a house.”

    Daemon narrowed his eyes. “There is plenty of room here at the Hall. And wings far enough from the family suites that they would qualify as a separate residence.”

    “For a man who buys property all the time, you’re being dense. I want a place of my own. I want a place that doesn’t belong to the SaDiablo family or you. I want a place that has my name on the deed. Since I hired Lord Marcus to be my man of business because he is yours, I figure you know well enough that I can afford just about any kind of house I want.”

    “Marcus would never reveal confidential or privileged information,” he said with a warning bite in his voice.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire