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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(78) by Anne Bishop
  • Rainier flung open the door at the other end of the storage room and rushed into an empty room similar to the one he’d just left.

    “Surreal!”

    He ran across the room, yanked open the door, and charged into the hallway just as Surreal rushed out of another room. He dropped the poker and grabbed for her, only realizing when he felt a shield hitting a shield that she wasn’t wearing anything above her waist except a brassiere and her Gray Jewel.

    “Surreal!”

    “Be—be—be—”

    He shoved the candle and pillowcase into her shaking hands, grabbed the poker, and strode into the room, ready to do battle with whatever had scared the shit out of her.

    And found himself staring at a bathtub full of huge, split beetles.

    “Be-be-beetles.”

    Relief made him giddy for a moment. Or maybe the giddiness was caused by his yanking himself back from the killing edge.

    He glanced over his shoulder and fought not to grin. Damn things really must have startled her.

    “Do you think they’re edible?” he asked. The beetles were the size of a small lobster tail, and the meat looked like cooked lobster that had been pulled out of a split shell.

    “Wh-what? That’s not meat; that’s exploded bug guts.”

    Rainier watched the beetles change back into little beetles that went scurrying down the drain. Nothing but an illusion spell. And most likely, even the little beetles were an illusion because they’d have to come out of the drain at the proper time. Since there wasn’t much about dealing with blood and guts that usually threw Surreal off stride, it was his duty as a friend to tease her about getting excited over a bug.

    “If you ignore the fact that they’re insects instead of—”

    “Say it, and I will rip your face off and shove it up your ass.”

    The threat sounded sincere.

    Her tone pricked his temper, especially when he was still just one short step away from the killing edge, but he tried to cajole instead of squaring off with her, since that would lead to at least one of them getting hurt.

    He turned toward her. “Come on, Sur—”

    He reached up and shifted the ball of witchlight in order to get a better look at her.

    Her gold-green eyes were glassy. Not glazed with cold rage, but glassy with shock. And she was breathing in these funny little hitches.

    This had struck more than a nerve with her.

    “Hey,” he said softly, moving with a deliberateness that wouldn’t startle her. “Illusion spell. That’s all they were.”

    She was shaking. He could see the effort she was making to regain control, but she was shaking.

    “Go back in the hallway,” he said gently. “I’ll get your clothes.”

    “Check them,” she whispered as she stepped back.

    He retrieved her shirt and jacket, pushed the witchlight out ahead of him, and left the bathroom.

    He set everything on the hallway table next to the unlit candle, including the globe candle and pillowcase he’d handed her. Then he looked at her left side.

    “How bad is it?” he asked, his fingers hovering over the blood-spotted paper covering the wound.

    “Not as bad as it could have been. The Black Widow who attacked me had lost the finger with the snake tooth, so I don’t have to worry about venom.”

    The bitch could have coated her other nails with poison. He was about to remind her of that—and then realized there was no point in telling her. She had been an assassin. She knew more about using poisons than he did.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire