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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(103) by Anne Bishop
  • Suddenly all four children screamed. A moment later, the smell of urine stung the air.

    Rainier gave her a sheepish look as he closed a drawer. “The spiders are still here.”

    Currents of air. Not fresh air, exactly, but different from the cellar. The witchlight revealed no opening, no difference in the walls. But there were those currents of air. And then…

    The roar took him by surprise, had him shifting into a fighting stance.

    No movement. No rushing attack. Just that warning.

    “Jaal?” he called softly. “Kaelas? It’s Lucivar.”

    It was possible that Jenkell had hired other Blood to hunt down a tiger or an Arcerian cat. As one of the demon-dead, either feline would be a lethal predator. Of course, either one would be just as lethal if it was dumped into the house alive. Wouldn’t even need one of the kindred if it was a live predator.

    But if the cat wasn’t part of the spells in the house…

    Using the air currents as a guide, he moved closer to the wall—and was rewarded by a snarl.

    He’d heard it often enough to recognize that snarl and knew which cat he was dealing with. He just wasn’t sure if the snarl was meant as a greeting or a threat.

    “Kaelas? It’s Lucivar.”

    What was there? A passageway that had been built when the house was inhabited so that servants could move back and forth from the house to another building? Or was it just a dirt tunnel that had been dug as an escape route when the house was being made into this nightmare?

    Either way, he couldn’t see Jaenelle asking one of the cats to guard a tunnel, and neither cat had been with her this morning, so neither was close enough to have reached the house this soon.

    That left a shadow guarding the tunnel. Almost as deadly as the real thing. Maybe a little more so if Jaenelle made it. There was a faint hope of reasoning with the real Kaelas, since the cat knew he’d get yelled at if he attacked another male who belonged to Jaenelle. But a shadow followed a set of commands. Lucivar figured “kill” was the dominant command for anything Jaenelle had placed in the tunnel.

    He was about to call again when the male rumble that was Kaelas’s psychic voice thumped against his inner barriers. Kaelas’s voice, but not Kaelas. So itwas a shadow guarding the tunnel.

    "Do not eat Lucivar. Do not eat Surreal. Do not eat Rainier." The shadow Kaelas sounded grumpy about having his list of edibles restricted.

    Damn shadow couldn’t eat anyone anyway. Maul and kill, yes. Eat, no.

    At least, he was fairly sure a shadow couldn’t really eat someone. Then again, it wasn’t smart to make assumptions about any shadows Jaenelle made.

    “The Lady told you not to eat me?”

    A pause. Then, reluctantly, "Lady said do not kill you."

    Hell’s fire. He would have to tell Jaenelle she was giving these shadows a little too much of the original’s personality. Unless it had been told to, a shadow shouldn’t be making that distinction.

    “Have you seen Surreal?”

    "Smelled her. Gone now."

    “Out the tunnel?”

    "No."

    Not surprising. Surreal and Rainier didn’t know Jaenelle and Daemon were waiting outside, had no reason to think Jaenelle was responsible for the cat guarding the tunnel. Instead of heading out of the house, they must have headed back in.

    Lucivar started to turn away, then stopped and considered that faint presence he’d sensed in the house—the little writer-mouse scurrying behind the walls, watching and listening. Then he considered that, shadow or not, it never hurt to make a large predator happy—especially if he might need to use the tunnel to get everyone out of the house.

    He told the shadow cat, “If any other human tries to get out through the tunnel, you go ahead and eat him.”

    As he walked away to explore another part of the cellar, the shadow Kaelas’s pleasure purred at him through the psychic thread.

    Daemon circled the fence around the house, a slow prowl. Watchful. Aware.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire