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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 113)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(113) by Anne Bishop
  • Jared watched her, fighting against the desire to provoke her a little more. In her weakened condition, if she threw a punch at him, she’d probably end up on the floor and would be even madder when he had to help her up.

    After he’d finished setting up his red pieces to his satisfaction, Jared reached for the black pieces.

    “Mine!” Lia said, sitting down too abruptly for the movement to have been completely intended.

    While she set up her pieces, Jared poured a glass of fruit juice for her and a glass of wine for himself.

    He’d wrapped himself around her last night, more out of a need to feel each reassuring breath she took than any belief that his presence would help her. This morning, he’d been rudely awakened when her elbow jabbed his belly and she started swearing to do vile things to his most valued body parts if he didn’t let go. When his still-sleepy brain had finally understood the reason for the desperation that laced her curses, he’d made her madder by carrying her into the bathroom.

    He’d chuckled at her muttering when he tucked her back into bed and climbed in with her, so pleased to have her alive and well enough to be angry that he never gave a thought to how she might react to having a naked male beside her. He’d cuddled her for an hour.

    And he’d held her and cried with her when she asked about Tomas.

    He’d tried to spoon-feed her at breakfast.

    He’d tried to give her a bath.

    He’d mentioned taking a nap every hour or so, politely pointing out that she’d been very ill the night before and needed a lot of rest.

    So maybe he’d fussed a bit too much, but he was entitled to fuss. She’d scared him. She’d more than scared him.

    But he hadnot pestered.

    “You’re muttering already,” Lia grumbled, watching him through narrowed eyes. She tossed her hair over her shoulders and picked up the glass of fruit juice.

    Her hair was like a soft, dark cloud, Jared thought, sipping his wine. She’d let him brush it after her bath—had to let him brush it because, after a few strokes, her arms had felt too heavy to lift. Daemon had drawn most of the venom out of her, but her body still felt the deep fatigue of fighting to survive on top of the demands she’d made of it during the ambush. While he’d brushed her hair, he’d woven a soothing spell around her that Daemon had taught him during the year they’d been in the same court. It had put her to sleep for a couple of hours.

    Remembering that, he grinned.

    “What?” Lia said. “Did you put something in the fruit juice?”

    “Of course not,” Jared huffed. “Roll the dice. Let’s play.”

    She rolled a five for a Summer-sky Queen. He rolled a three for a Tiger Eye. Giving her a sassy grin, he opened by moving one of his Black Widows.

    Several moves later, he began to worry about the change in her game. Her Queen remained in the background while her stronger pieces—especially the Black Widows and Warlord Princes—were doing most of the defending, supporting the weaker pieces who only captured one of his when there was no possibility of an exchange. Again and again, she retreated, giving up more ground and growing more timid each time he captured one of her pieces.

    And all the while, her Queen did nothing.

    Her brash courage might have enraged him when the instincts bred into Blood males howled to defend the female, but seeing her act timid and uncertain produced a deeper anger—and a deeper kind of fear.

    Losing Tomas had produced an emotional wound that would heal in time, but she’d carry the scar of it the rest of her life. And there would be more scars. Dena Nehele’s continued freedom would be paid for in blood.

    Her mind knew it, but her heart couldn’t accept it yet.

    And he couldn’t allow her the luxury of thinking retreat would keep her people safe.

    He moved one of his Warlords to threaten a Blood male pawn. If she moved her Queen to challenge, he’d let the pawn go. If she didn’t . . .

    It felt like half the night had passed before she hesitantly moved her Queen. Her hand trembled a little, and her face lost the little color she’d gained throughout the day.

    Wanting to distract her and give himself time to choose a move that would seem a logical alternative to capturing the pawn, he said, “Does your grandmother really look that intimidating?”

    Lia had just taken a sip of juice when he asked the question. She clamped a hand over her mouth until she managed to swallow. “Gran?” she finally gasped. Then she started laughing.

    Jared moved a Priestess nearer to the protection of his Sanctuary.

    “Hey!” Lia huffed, sitting forward. “No fair moving a piece when I’m too teary-eyed to see you do it.” She frowned when she figured out his move.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire