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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 65)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(65) by Anne Bishop
  • It was the homeliest little dog Ranon had ever seen. He—because Ranon had picked up the caste of Warlord—had the Sceltie face and the Sceltie body, but the fur looked like it had been taken from the leftovers of a dozen different dogs and patched together any which way. There was white, tan, brown, black, and three shades of gray. Hodgepodge dog.

    *I will take good care of him. I am going to live with him!*

    “No, you’re not.” The words were honest and out before Ranon thought about it.

    The dog stared at him for a moment, those brown eyes full of heart-breaking woe. Then the whimpering started, turning to whines and keening and . . .

    *My human doesn’t want me!*

    Ranon glanced at Khardeen. There was still some amusement and sympathy in those blue eyes, but underneath was the bite of anger.

    *Can’t you do something*? Ranon asked Khardeen.

    *I’m not the one who hurt his feelings.*

    That anger made him uneasy, although Khardeen made no overt threat. Then he discovered he had a lot more reasons to worry.

    He hadn’t seen them, hadn’t sensed them coming toward him. One moment he had one whining Sceltie sitting in front of him; the next he was surrounded—and the thirteen pairs of brown eyes staring at him held more than a bite of anger.

    *Of course he wants you,* Vae said. *But he is male and human, and sometimes he gets confused. Don’t you?*

    Ranon glanced at Khardeen.

    *There is only one correct answer,* Khardeen said. *So take the kick in the balls, apologize to your little brother, and assure him that he can live with you.*

    *Is there any other choice?*

    *Not if you want to stay healthy. Darkmist is a year older than his little brother and isn’t someone you want to tangle with,* Khardeen said.

    Darkmist? Ranon scanned the Sceltie faces. The dogs were a variety of colors, but there were three that might fit the name—if the name was meant to fit. Two were a silver-gray and white, and the third . . .

    Pewter and white with black speckles on the face. And an Opal Jewel.

    Warlord Prince.Ranon stared at the dog who matched him, caste and rank. Then he swallowed hard and went down on one knee, aware he was putting his throat a lot closer to all those sets of teeth.

    “What’s your name?” he asked, tentatively extending a hand to the homely little dog.

    Woeful brown eyes looked at him, but the tip of the tail gave a hopeful little wag. *Khollie.*

    “Well, Khollie, Vae is right. I am confused. I’ve never seen so many Scelties, and I guess I didn’t realize . . .” What? Then inspiration struck, and with a silent apology to his beloved, he added, “You can help me take care of my mate.”

    More tail wagging. Woeful began to lighten to happy as Khollie slipped his head under Ranon’s hand for a pat.

    *You have a mate? I will help you!*

    Suddenly his arms were full of chin-licking, tail-wagging dog—and he really hoped Shira was going to forgive him for siccing a Sceltie on her.

    “Vae, why don’t you show Ladvarian and Khollie where Khollie will be staying,” Khardeen said. The mild tone didn’t make the words any less of a command.

    Crisis over, the Scelties scattered to continue their sniffing exploration of the cottages and vegetation near the Queen’s Residence, leaving the two humans alone.

    Khardeen said nothing, giving Ranon time to regain some balance and think.

    “It won’t be that bad,” Khardeen finally said. “A month from now, you won’t remember what it was like to live in a village without Scelties.”

    What a terrifying thought. But it was remembering the look in Darkmist’s eyes and thefeel of the dog that had Ranon watching the way they moved, spreading out from the Residence. Too orderly. More like a troop of warriors spreading out to get the most information about a place in the least amount of time. Which made him wonder about the twelve dogs that were going to be living among his people—and made him remember a comment that almost passed by his notice.

    “You said Ladvarian was First Circle in the Dark Court?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire