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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(33) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan hesitated. “At this point, my darling, you and the others are fine entertainment most of the time. Not just for me. For Geoffrey and Draca as well. Even Lorn. Once a week, I go down to visit and read him the letters from the coven. The Darkness only knows what the legendary Prince of the Dragons thinks of the content.” Another smile, there and gone. “But it’s not the same with Sylvia.”

    “No, it’s not the same.” It could never be the same with a lover who truly touched a man’s heart. He gave his father’s ankle a friendly squeeze, then sat back on the footstool. “There are going to be some changes in her household. That may not be easier for her initially, but it will be different.”

    “Oh?”

    “I walked down to the village with five Sceltie puppies. I came back to the Hall with four.”

    “And the fifth?”

    “By now, I’m sure Sylvia has convinced the little bitch to let go of Mikal’s trousers. And Mrs. Beale promised to send her recipe for puppy biscuits to Sylvia’s cook.”

    “Mrs. Beale agreed to share a recipe,” Saetan said slowly.

    “Mrs. Beale agreed that I could pay for…I’m not sure what it is except that it’s something she wanted for the kitchen but couldn’t justify as a normal household expense.”

    “And you agreed to fund this in exchange for a recipe?”

    Daemon stared at his father for a long moment before he muttered, “She sharpened the meat cleaver before coming to talk to me.”

    One beat of silence. Two. Then Saetan burst out laughing.

    Almost time. Everything was almost ready. Big surprises soon. Just a few details left to handle.

    Almost ready.

    Soon.

    And then they would see how many of his surprises the SaDiablo family could survive.

    PART TWO

    EIGHT

    Lucivar braced his elbows on the kitchen table, clamped his hands on either side of his head—and squeezed.

    What was wrong with Rihlanders that they had to puteverything down on paper? And why send this crap tohim ? If Jhinkas were attacking a village in Ebon Rih—or any part of Askavi for that matter—he wanted to know about it because he would be the one stepping onto the killing field to take care of it. But why in the name of Hell did he need five pages of scribbles from some Queen’s Steward to tell himnothing was wrong ? And if hehad to get stuck in this bog of words, why couldn’t the fool who wrote it have the courtesy of having penmanship that a person could read?

    Thank the Darkness Daemon took care of all the family business. For reasons he had never understood, Daemonliked paperwork.

    He didn’t mind the twice-a-month meeting to review the properties and wealth held by the SaDiablo family. They were necessary, and the Dhemlan estate that was part of his inheritance and the people who worked on that land were his responsibility. But Daemon didn’t make him read all those damn bits of paper just to tell him nothing was wrong.

    Normally he thought of the paperwork that came with being the Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih as the equivalent of having a smashed toe—you just gritted your teeth and limped your way through it. But today it was raining, Marian was gone, and Daemonar and a wolf pup were entertaining themselves by making a lot of noise in the next room. If this had been summer, he would have stripped off the boy’s clothes and chucked those two outside, figuring a little water wouldn’t hurt any of them—as long as he got boy and pup cleaned up and dried off before their mothers returned. But it was a chilly autumn day and a cold rain, so he was stuck with paperwork, noise, and—bang bang bang

    “I open it!” Daemonar shouted, scrambling to his feet and running for the door. “I open it!”

    Sure you will, boyo,Lucivar thought as he pushed away from the kitchen table.Just as soon as you’re tall enough to reach the latch—and the extra locks.

    He simplified his life by containing boy and pup inside a protective shield that kept them from racing out the door as soon as he opened it.

    The Dhemlan youth standing at the door was a Summer-sky-Jeweled Warlord wearing a messenger’s uniform.

    “I have a special delivery for Prince Lucivar Yaslana,” the Warlord said, holding out a cream-colored envelope.

    As he reached for the envelope, he used Craft to create a skintight, Red-strength shield around his hand and forearm. Creating a shield before taking something from a stranger was second nature to him. The fact that the Warlord’s eyes widened told him it wasn’t second nature to the boy.

    “You don’t shield before taking something from someone you don’t know?”

    “They’re messages!”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire