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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(111) by Anne Bishop
  • “It doesn’t matter,” Daemon said gently. “You’re too deep into the game, Jared. Your presence—and Blaed’s and Thera’s—combined with Lia’s wonderfully erratic actions, tangled up what was probably supposed to be a quick kill. Besides, how can a bargain to kill the Gray Lady be fulfilled if she isn’t there?”

    “We still need to know who the enemy is,” Jared insisted.

    “You do,” Daemon countered. “Dorothea SaDiablo— and her Master of the Guard. The rest doesn’t matter anymore.” He stood up and stretched the muscles in his back. “You can stay here tomorrow. The owner and I have an understanding.”

    Jared shook his head. “If anyone puts together the Shalador Warlord who was in that fight and the one staying here . . .”

    “No one will put it together. No one will remember seeing a Shalador Warlord walk into the tavern room—at least, no one will remember until he’s been away from this place for a day.”

    Even dulled by fatigue, Jared understood. Daemon had cast a spell around this place, a kind of psychic fog that hid one specific memory.

    Daemon rolled down his sleeves, fastened the ruby cuff links, and shrugged into his black jacket. “‘I have to return to the court. I’ll be leaving before dawn. Stay in the room. Get some rest. The owner or his wife will make sure you have everything you need. I’ve left a change of clothes for you. We’re about the same size, so they should fit well enough. Something will be found for Lia tomorrow.”

    “‘Thank you. For everything.”

    Daemon slipped his hands into his trouser pockets. “Get some sleep. In the bed. A warm body next to her will be more comforting—for both of you—than a pile of blankets.”

    “If she snarls about it, I’ll blame you.” If she was still alive to snarl.

    Daemon smiled gently. “Fair enough.” As he opened the door, he looked back at Jared. “By the way, you wear the Silver.”

    Jared wasn’t sure how long he stared at the closed door. By the time he got his legs to move and got the door open, the hallway was empty. No point searching. He could spend the rest of the night turning this place inside out with Daemon, fully shielded, standing nearby the whole time, and he’d never know.

    After Red-locking the door. Jared pulled off the dressing robe and slipped cautiously into the bed. He felt Lia shivering despite the warming spells on the blankets. He settled beside her, tucked the covers around them, and slid his arm around her waist. Slowly her chilled skin warmed. She made a sleepy, contented sound.

    Jared dimmed the candle-lights in the room. But sleep didn’t come for a while.

    Maybe being able to sense the Invisible Ring depended on whether a man wore a Jewel lighter or darker than the Gray since Grizelle had probably created it. He still couldn’t sense it, but Daemon had been able to tell which kind he wore. And Daemon wouldn’t lie to him. Not about something like that.

    He wore the Invisible Ring. He wore the Silver.

    Whatever that meant.

    Chapter Eighteen

    Krelis stared at the male organs neatly arranged on a thick pad of blood-soaked cloth. There were wounds on all of them, which meant the agony had begun long before the barber had used the knife.

    His vision grayed. He swallowed hard against the sickness clogging his throat.

    Gliding behind him, Dorothea brushed the back of his neck with the tip of a large, white feather, and purred, “Recognize anyone?”

    Krelis squeezed his eyes shut. Sweet Darkness, he hoped thosethings had belonged to landens or slaves. Something expendable. Something that required no thoughts, no feelings.

    “I want you to choose five guards, men you value,” Dorothea said. “I understand one of your cousins recently became one of my guards.”

    Krelis took a few steps away from the table. “Yes, Priestess. A distant cousin from the distaff side of the family.”

    “He’ll be one of the five.”

    “For a special assignment?” Krelis asked. His cousin was only Sixth Circle. Being noticed so quickly would please the family.

    “In a manner of speaking. You’ll also include the young guard you’ve been personally training as well.”

    “As you wish, Priestess.” Krelis narrowed his eyes, trying to remember who was immediately available in the First Circle who could balance the two less-experienced men. “What will be required of them?”

    “Very little.” Dorothea brushed her chin with the white feather and smiled malevolently. “You’ve been something of a disappointment, Lord Krelis. Difficulties with the Gray Lady were one thing. But having this little bitch elude you ...” She shook her head. ‘’It troubles me. It makes me wonder if your loyalty is as strong as it should be. It makes me wonder if I made an error in my choice of Master of the Guard.“

    Krelis felt light-headed. “Priestess . . .”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire