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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(75) by Anne Bishop
  • “Not there,” Surreal whispered, pressing the wet cloth against the wounds.

    Last year, when Hekatah had captured Saetan and held him hostage, she had cut off the little finger of his left hand and sent it to Jaenelle.

    Funny how the eyes stopped seeing the loss. Saetan no longer wore the Steward’s ring on his left hand, so there was nothing to call attention to the missing finger. If someone asked anyone in the family about it, she’d bet they’d have to think for a minute to remember it was gone.

    The Black Widow had been missing the little finger and ring finger on her right hand. That was why there was only the double stripe and no venom.

    A lucky break for her, but she wondered if the loss had come before or after the Widow had worked on this house.

    Surreal opened the jar of cleansing cream and dabbed the cream on the wounds. That would take care of ordinary infections until a Healer could take a look at the wounds. Then she took out a thin package the size of her palm and carefully peeled back one layer of paper. The spider-silk gauze was used by Healers in Kaeleer when they needed to close a small wound and didn’t have time for a full healing or there was a reason to let the wound heal at its own pace. The silk was woven into a small web, and the strands helped keep the wound closed.

    She pressed the spider silk against her side and didn’t peel off the other piece of paper, using it as a bandage to absorb some of the blood.

    Having done what she could, she closed up the healing kit, then reconsidered. She took out the scissors and slipped them into her trouser pocket. Even a small weapon was better than no weapon.

    She was just about to create the protective shield when she looked at the toilet—and swore.

    “Do whatever you canbefore you shield,” she muttered. Sure, Lucivar had shown her a “shield with access,” but it worked a lot better for someone who peed out of a pipe.

    Not that she’d mentionedthat to Lucivar.

    She used the poker to lift the lid and seat. No nasty surprises, thank the Darkness, other than the kind that would give a hearth witch bad dreams.

    But as she squatted over the toilet bowl, she thought she heard a sound coming from the bathtub drain. A funny sound. Like fingernail clippings being shaken inside a metal pipe.

    It didn’t take long to find the secret door. In fact, finding it seemed a little too easy.

    Rainier lengthened the wick on the oil lamp to give himself better light.

    Maybe it wasn’t meant to be a secret door, just one that was supposed to blend in with the room. All he could see was a short hallway that ended in another door, and shelving on the right-hand side.

    Folded blankets. Decorated paperboard boxes that women used to store hats and gloves or other small items that were used occasionally. Linens. Probably a mutual storage area for the bedrooms on either side.

    He didn’t see anything sinister, didn’t hear anything suspect. Of course, if the whole house was riddled with aural shields that kept people from hearing one another, not hearing anything wasn’t actually comforting.

    Linens.

    He set the poker aside. Planting his right foot in the room they were in, he set his left foot in the storage room.

    Something creaked. Might have been the floorboard under his foot. Might have been the door. But something creaked.

    Rainier stepped back and studied the door.

    Traps and games and illusions. The last time a storage room door was opened, a boy died.

    “Kester,” Rainier said. “You and the other two boys brace yourself against this door and hold it open.”

    While he waited for them to follow orders, he created a tight shield around himself, barely a finger width above his skin. Three openings in the shield—one for taking in sustenance, the other two for eliminating waste. Lucivar had taught him and the other boyos that particular trick, and they’d all gotten bruised enough times from Lucivar’s surprise attacks to have learned that lesson very well.

    Normally a tight shield was a subtle protection, since no one could know for certain it was there unless a person touched you. But…

    Somewhere in the house, a gong sounded.

    In this damn house, there was nothing subtle about using Craft.

    He glanced at the boys and nodded, satisfied that he’d have plenty of warning if the door tried to shut. Then he stepped into the storage room, raising the lamp high.

    Pillowcases.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire