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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(14) by Anne Bishop
  • “No.” Too sharp, almost cutting, even though the smile didn’t change. “Have things to do.”

    Daemon felt a sudden distance between them. Why it was there, he couldn’t begin to guess. “Could we get together for a drink this evening? I could come—”

    “I’ll come to the Hall. See you then, Bastard.”

    “Take care, Prick.”

    “Bye-bye, Unka Daemon! Bye-bye.”

    He waved bye-bye until Lucivar and Daemonar disappeared around a curve in the corridor. Then he looked back at the locked door and sighed.

    He might not need to dance on the knife’s edge the way he did when he lived in Terreille, but it didn’t look like his life was going to get complacent after all.

    Saetan leaned against the locked door and stared at the ceiling.

    Why did I want children?

    He’d been rattled by the conversation with Daemon, had reacted instead of thinking. And the look in Lucivar’s eyes just before he’d closed the door had shown him the depth of his error. He’d fix it. He would stop by the eyrie this evening, and he would fix it.

    He wasn’t sure how to fix the other problem. Spooky house. The words had become a sharp bone stuck in his throat, an insult to everything he believed in. An insult inflicted by his Queen.

    He had two choices. He could swallow the bone or he could cough it out. Either way, it was going to hurt. He just had to decide which choice he could live with.

    Pushing away from the door, he returned to the blackwood table just as Geoffrey stepped through one of the archways that led to the stored books. The other Guardian looked sympathetic and amused as he watched Saetan shuffle a few books.

    Geoffrey approached the table, picked up a book, then opened it to read the title page. “How long do you think you’ll be able to keep this up?” he asked. “Sooner or later one of them is going to figure out these are new books with an illusion spell on the covers to make them look old, and you’re just using them for a prop.”

    “None of them have figured it out so far,” Saetan replied, tugging the book out of Geoffrey’s hand. “If I’m occupied, they can take their time working their way around to whatever they’ve come to talk about. None of them look closely enough to notice that the condition of the paper doesn’t match the supposed age of the books.”

    “And you used some of the real books to create the templates for the spell. Quite ingenious, Saetan. But from what I overheard before I retreated, you do have a problem.”

    “I do.” The bone in his throat scraped a little more. “Yes, I do.”

    Lucivar landed in the small courtyard outside his eyrie, shifted his grip on his bundle of boy, then turned to look at the mountain called Ebon Askavi.

    He wasn’t like them. Could neverbe like them. His father. His brother. Two of a kind. The difference wasn’t so sharp when it was one of them or the other. But when they were together…

    Educated men, with a passion for books and words and learning. He was the outsider, the one who didn’t fit.

    It hurt. No matter how often he tried to shrug it aside, it still hurt. And now the hurt went deeper. Because of the boy.

    He rubbed his cheek against Daemonar’s head, felt the sweet ache as little arms reached up to hug.

    He knew why he’d been locked out of the library. Knew why he’d been excluded. But if he had to choose between them, he would choose the boy he held in his arms.

    Giving his son a kiss, he said, “Come on, boyo. You get to play with your papa today.”

    FOUR

    The clatters, bangs, and curses coming from the eyrie’s kitchen were not sounds Lucivar usually associated with his darling wife. He hesitated a moment, then set Daemonar down near the side door that opened onto the part of the yard that could withstand the rough-and-tumble play of an Eyrien boy and a litter of wolf pups—and had a domed shield around the whole thing to keep boy and pups from tumbling down the mountain.

    “Stay here,” he said.

    Another hesitation as he stepped over the threshold. The command would keep the boy out for a minute or two, but not much longer. But if he shut Daemonar outside, he wouldn’t have even that much time to assess what was upsetting Marian before Daemonar voiced his unhappiness loud enough to be heard all the way to Riada. So he left the door open and strode across the large entry room to the archway that led to the kitchen.

    “Marian?” he said softly.

    His voice startled her enough that she kicked one of the metal buckets—and said words he’dnever heard her say before.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire