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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 71)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(71) by Anne Bishop
  • Hell’s fire.

    His smile must have been sufficiently insolent because he couldsee her temper flare.

    He felt a bit weak-kneed as he gave her a two-finger salute, then turned his back on her and walked to the front of the house.

    It wasn’t smart to piss off a Black Widow. On the other hand, she probably would be too angry to wonder about the “something” he needed to do.

    He untied the horse and started walking down Wolf Creek Road to take a look at the two cottages that were also within the “Queen’s square” and also available for the court’s use. He hadn’t reached the first cottage before the silver twins came running down the road, no doubt alerted by Vae.

    *Are you going home now, Gray?* Kief asked, wagging his tail.

    *We will take the horse back to the stable,* Lloyd said.

    “Thanks, boys, but I still need the horse.”

    They stared at him, tails gently wagging.

    Trying not to sigh, he held out the lead. “Hold him while I take a look at these buildings.”

    *I will watch the horse,* Lloyd said.

    *I will go with Gray,* Kief said.

    Now he did sigh, but he didn’t argue. No point in arguing. It didn’t take the humans long to figure that out. The Scelties seemed to know when they had to obey without question—and they knew when humans were acting like stubborn sheep and needed to be herded in the right direction.

    The smart human yielded before getting nipped.

    Not all of the Scelties had found their special place in the village, but some were settling in. The Warlord brothers Lloyd and Kief had taken up residence at the stables where the court kept their horses. The First Circle had dubbed them the silver twins because they were gray and white. Not really twins, but they were litter mates, and the only difference in their looks was that Lloyd had a wider blaze down his face. The men were still looking after their own mounts, but they felt easier about leaving the stable unattended now. After all, dogs who were smart enough to bring carrots out to the pasture to make friends with the horses were also smart enough to know when to fetch a human.

    Prince Darkmist divided his time between Yairen and Akeelah, a witch who was a Tradition Keeper of Stories. It sure pissed off Ranon the first time he walked into his grandfather’s house and was challenged by another Opal-Jeweled Warlord Prince. So Ranon and Mist were working out a few territorial issues. The fact that Ranon was Khollie’s human and Khollie was Mist’s little brother made things more . . . interesting.

    As entertaining as that was—when you weren’t the human involved—right now, he needed to take a good look at these cottages and see if his idea would work.

    When he finished inspecting the second cottage, he stood out front, shaking his head and smiling. Lloyd had brought the horse and cart.

    “Thanks, boys,” he said as he climbed into the cart. They stood aside and waited until he’d given the horse the signal to walk on. Then they raced back to the stables, and he headed for a meeting with the village elders.

    Kermilla slipped up to her room. She and Correne hadn’t gotten around to shopping, but they’d still had a delightful afternoon once they’d met Garth and Brok, two Warlord brothers who weren’t much older than Kermilla. They had gone to a dining house and talked and laughed for hours, while her two escorts sat at another table looking bored. Having older, experienced men serving in the court meant she didn’t have to work as hard to rule her territory, but it was so much more work to hold their interest when she had to deal with them day after day. These young men hung on to every word she said—and they werehers. She’d felt that strange pull when she saw them—the same pull she’d felt when she first met Theran.

    After making plans to meet up tomorrow to shop, she and Correne had returned to the mansion and the dull company waiting for her there. But she’d had so much fun with her new boys, she really would pay attention this evening when Theran droned on about what Dena Nehele needed.He officially ruled the town, but he seemed to think she should be doing as much as if she were already the Queen—without the compensation! Well, he did tell her she could put things on account against the tithes, but some of the merchants were getting that tight look in their eyes that meant these people didn’t know how to show their loyalty to a Queen any more than the people in sheep-shit Bhak did. Which was fine for Freckledy—she had never had any style—but not for a Queen who wanted to be recognized in aristo social circles.

    Kermilla opened her door and froze.

    That dumb bitch Birdie, the “Queen’s maid,” was holding a bottle of scent Kermilla had acquired during her last shopping trip. Holding the bottle—and frowning.

    “What in the name of Hell are you doing?” Kermilla demanded. She strode over to the dresser and yanked the bottle out of Birdie’s hand.

    “Cleaning the room, Lady, like I always do,” Birdie stammered, taking a step back.

    “I told you before I don’t like my things smeared with someone else’s psychic stink,” Kermilla said, her voice cold and hard. “You use Craft to raise everything on the dresser and tables when you dust them.Craft, you useless bag.”

    “But I only wear the White, Lady,” Birdie said. “I only use Craft to help with heavy lifting and the like, so I’m not drained when my work is done. Lady Cassidy—”

    “I’m not Cassidy, and as long as you work in this house, you’ll do things the wayI want them done. And if you can’t getthat through your head, the only way you’ll earn a living is by using what you’ve got between your legs! Is that clear enough?”

    “But—”

    One word. Kermilla heard it as a challenge—and no White-Jeweledservant could be allowed to challenge the Queen.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire