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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(2) by Anne Bishop
  • Shit shit shit. Hedid keep track of his brother’s wife.

    Her stomach gave a funny little twirl as she considered that. Daemon Sadi. Lucivar Yaslana. Half brothers linked through their Hayllian father, who was the Prince of the Darkness, the High Lord of Hell. Men who were ice and fire, working in tandem to look after the women in the family—especially during the few days of each moon cycle when those women couldn’t use Craft and might be vulnerable.

    Which made her wonder about the Warlord she had met at a party shortly after Daemon became the Warlord Prince who ruled the Territory of Dhemlan in the Realm of Kaeleer. The man had managed to maintain the mask of an interesting companion until she agreed to go to the theater with him. Then his true personality began to seep through. She would have gone with him anyway to find out what he really wanted, but he’d canceled, sending a note to offer his regrets and apologies for being called away unexpectedly. She hadn’t thought anything of it; just figured he’d found out a little more about her and decided not to risk being gutted during the play’s intermission. After all, men who were willing to escort a former whore who was connected to the most powerful family in Kaeleer tended to get nervous when they discovered the former whore was also a former assassin.

    Now she wondered whether the little prick-ass had canceled to avoid having a few bones broken (Lucivar’s method of dissuading fools) or whether he had run from a much scarier threat (if the prick-ass had ended up having a chat with Daemon).

    “What body in which closet?” Daemon asked.

    It took her a moment to remember.

    “This one.” She finger-snapped the offending page of the book. “What’s wrong with these people? Why are they leaving bodies around for other people to find instead of disposing of them in some sensible way? And what’s wrong with the person who found the body? With help, I should add, from a cat. What does he need help for? Even a human nose can smell that much rotting meat.”

    “What are you reading?”

    There was a hint of wariness mixed in with Daemon’s amusement. Which was fair, she supposed, since she’d made a good living as an assassin before she moved to Kaeleer and acquired too many powerful male relatives. Not that he’d be concerned about that. After all, he’d taught her most of the nastier tricks of that particular trade.

    She held up the book so he could read the title.

    “Ah. That book.”

    Definite wariness now, as if he had measured the distance between her chair and his place on the sofa and was determined to maintain it.

    “Is there something I should know about this book? And what kind of name is Jarvis Jenkell? Do you think that’s his real name?”

    “I wouldn’t know,” Daemon replied dryly. “I do know that since he came out with this new series of books, Jaenelle isn’t allowed to read his stories in bed anymore. She starts laughing so hard, she ends up flailing.”

    “What…? Oh. Caught you, did she?”

    Stony expression.

    Oh, yeah. Back to the first subject. “So why don’t these people have brains enough to bury a body where it won’t be found? Nooo, they’ll put a body in a closet…or in an old trunk in a spare bedroom—not even up in the attic, where it might be harder to find—or in the shed out back, where it attracts critters that want to take home some carrion for dinner.” She clapped her hands to her cheeks, widened her eyes, and wagged her head. “Oh! Look! It’s the gardener. Who is dead. And look! There’s blood on the hedge clippers. Do you think it’s a clue?”

    Daemon snorted out a laugh, tried to regain control, then just slumped back and let the laughter roar.

    She laughed with him, then shook her head. She was too much a professional to be able to dismiss sloppy work, even in a story. “Really, Sadi. Granted, a landen would have to work harder than we do to dispose of a body, but they do have shovels.”

    “It’s a mystery, Surreal,” he said when he could talk again. “That’s the whole point of the story. A person discovers a body, gets caught up in the events surrounding the death, and has to figure out why the person died and who did the killing—usually while trying to avoid being killed himself. Until you’ve got a body, there’s no reason to look for clues.”

    “And no point to the story.” She nodded, since that part made sense. “That still doesn’t explain this character who is supposed to be Blood—or the cat. A species of kindred who have chosen to remain hidden while pretending to be larger-than-usual domestic cats, except for this one rogue feline who has decided to help the poor, dumb, smell-impaired human figure out murders?”

    Daemon got up and went over to the corner table that held an open bottle of wine and glasses. He lifted the bottle and gave her a questioning look. She shook her head.

    After pouring a glass for himself, he returned to his place on the sofa. “It hasn’t been that many years since the kindred dogs and horses made their presence known, so it is possible that a species chose to remain hidden when the rest of them decided to let the human Blood know the kindred existed. Not likely, but possible. As for the human side of the partnership, this is the second book with these characters. The man discovered his Blood heritage in the first story and is still learning how to use his power.”

    “Doesn’t that sound a bit too much like the stories Lady Fiona writes about Tracker and Shadow?” Surreal asked.

    “I believe it was Fiona’s success that spurred him to write this new story line. Jenkell is a well-known writer in landen artistic circles, and he’s become quite wealthy writing his mysteries. I’ve read a few of the books in the other series; they’re entertaining stories.”

    She huffed out a breath and shook the book. “But this! The man has never been in the same room as one of the Blood. At least, not the kind of Blood he’s trying to write about. You can tell he doesn’t understand a damn thing about us.”

    Daemon smiled. “I know. For years he’s been considered the top writer in his field, mostly because his characters were clever and found imaginative ways out of difficult situations.”

    “And entertained both landens and Blood.”

    Daemon nodded. “Then ego or temper overwhelmed sense when Fiona’s Tracker and Shadow stories became popular with landens as well as the Blood, and he began writing this new series about a Blood male and his kindred partner.”

    “And he’s still popular with the Blood?” She put as much disbelief in her voice as possible.

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