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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(80) by Anne Bishop
  • “So I have no response.” Because he wasnot going to admit she was right. “Good evening, Sylvia. I’ll see myself out.”

    She changed from irate woman to concerned Queen in a finger snap.

    She touched his arm. Just a gesture of concern. “Good luck.”

    “Thank you.”

    As he left Sylvia’s house and caught the Black Wind to return to the landen village, he knew it was going to take more than luck to get Surreal and Rainier out of that damned spooky house alive.

    SIXTEEN

    “There was a mirror on that wall, and a coat-tree near the door,” Surreal said as she looked around the front-entrance hallway.

    “That ‘caretaker’—whoever he really is—might have moved things to cause confusion,” Rainier said.

    She frowned, then shook her head. “Wasn’t really paying attention to the wallpaper, but I think that’s different too.”

    “An illusion spell could change the wallpaper. A person could move a mirror and coat-tree.”

    Was it as simple as that?

    “Does the front door work?” Kester asked.

    The boy sounded upset, angry. She understood that. She’d had more than enough of dealing with this damn house and was feeling the same way.

    “We’ll check out the hallway and that sitting room to make sure we have some safe ground,” Rainier said. “Then we’ll check the door.”

    “Why wait?” Kester demanded.

    “Because the odds are good that a door or doorway also has a trap,” Rainier said with strained patience.

    “You waited to make these shields to protect us, and Ginger and Trist died,” Kester said. “Why wait for something else bad to happen?”

    “Don’t start a pissing contest, boy,” Rainier warned. “Not here, not now. First we find some safe ground, and then we can—Kester!”

    Kester bolted for the front door.

    Rainier raised his hand, and Surreal felt the mental stumble as he stopped himself from using Craft to…Do what? Put up a barrier in front of the boy? Slam an Opal lock on the door, preventing it from being opened? Either action would have required a second use of Craft to undo what had been done.

    But the moment passed when a choice might have mattered. Kester reached the door and pulled it open.

    The thing on the other side…

    Surreal’s first impression was of an engorged, somewhat malformed Eyrien male combined with something made of smoke. Wisps of black smoke rose from its body, obscuring the separation between the male and the night. The eyes glowed red like stoked coals.

    She saw those things in the moment before it grabbed Kester, before the Opal shield around the boy was shattered by a bolt of darker power. Before Kester’s blood sprayed over the hallway.

    Neither she nor Rainier had time to react, to strike back before the creature and boy disappeared—and she stared at a door that opened onto nothing but a brick wall.

    “Mother Night,” Rainier said.

    “Well,” Surreal said, wondering if anyone else could hear her heart pounding, “now we know someone who wore a Jewel darker than Opal was killed and trapped in this house.”

    Rainier looked at the remaining four children, who were just staring at the front door. Then he looked at Surreal, and she saw bleak resignation instead of hope. “Yeah. Now we know.”

    Nothing Rainier could have done. If the Eyrien could break an Opal shield, a blast of Opal power wouldn’t have stopped him from killing the boy. A blast of her Gray might have stopped him, but like Rainier, she had hesitated, had choked back her natural reaction—and the moment when it might have made a difference was gone. Lost. Just like the boy.

    "Did you recognize the Eyrien?" Rainier asked.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire