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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(12) by Anne Bishop
  • The guard squirmed a little, recognizing the trap within the words.

    Krelis understood being torn between loyalty and survival. As a boy, he had loved Olvan, who had been a gentle but firm parent as well as a respected teacher and scholar. As a youth, he’d felt desperate to get away from the taint surrounding the frightened, withered man his father had become after that day at the tree. No one had needed to tell him that the longer a connection remained between father and son, the more distrustful the influentialQueenswould be when the time came to serve in their courts.

    Forced to choose between loyalty and survival, he had chosen survival. Loyalty, he discovered, could be bought easily enough.

    So he waited to see which the guard would choose— loyalty to Maryk, who was not only an aristo but an experienced second-in-command, or survival by giving full allegiance to the new Master of the Guard.

    Finally, the guard said in a low voice, “No, sir, Lord Maryk did not include obtaining the list in his instructions.”

    “No matter,” Krelis said with a dismissive gesture. “Lord Maryk had more pressing duties to consider.”

    “Yes, sir. Shall I return to Raej and obtain the list?”

    “Yes. By the time you return, Lord Maryk will be here with the slaves. We’ll keep any that may be of interest to the High Priestess and send the others back to Raej to sell on the last auction day.”

    The guard saluted smartly and left.

    Krelis rubbed his hands over his face. Maryk should be back by nightfall, the task completed. Then, perhaps, he could get some sleep.

    Chapter Five

    His stomach growled and threatened to chew his backbone.

    Jared ignored it.

    His muscles ached and begged to be stretched.

    He ignored them, too.

    The fierce need to piss had him swinging his legs over the side of the narrow bed. He pushed himself into a sitting position and fuzzily tried to remember what came next.

    Rubbing sleep-crusted eyes, Jared looked blearily at the dark-eyed, dark-haired boy sitting cross-legged beside the bed.

    “Davin?” Jared said hoarsely, knowing itcouldn’t be even before the boy’s expression turned wary. His youngest brother would be nineteen now, not the ten-year-old he’d cheerfully said good-bye to before he’d torn his life apart.

    “I’m Tomas,” the boy said. “There’s no Davin here.”

    Thank the Darkness for that.

    There was something peculiar and faint about the boy’s psychic scent, but Jared was too preoccupied to figure it out. “Where—”

    “We’re in the guest servants’ quarters.”

    Jared shook his head and tried again. “Where—”

    “Don’t know what Territory—”

    “Where’s the damn chamber pot?”

    “Oh.” Tomas pointed at a door in the wall. “Over there.”

    Despite the urgency, Jared hesitated, finally awake enough to realize he was naked and only had a wadded sheet covering his groin.

    Tomas grinned. “They’re all outside, and Ladies don’t care if you show your dangle to other males.” He scratched his head. “Other males don’t care either.”

    “Sometimes they do,” Jared muttered, remembering confrontations between pleasure slaves that had turned bloody because desperation had pushed someone over the edge. “Sometimes they care very much.”

    Tomas’s grin faded. His face paled. He scrambled to his feet and bolted for the door. The jerky movement and the fear that now filled his dark eyes told Jared more than the fading bruises on the boy’s bare arms, more than the old scars on the stick-thin legs that poked out of a pair of ragged short pants. And he realized what the boy’s diminished psychic scent meant. Tomas was a half-Blood.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire