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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(122) by Anne Bishop
  • “You’re well?” Blaed asked hesitantly.

    Lia gave him a dazzling smile. “I’m fine. I—”

    Blaed pulled her into his arms. “Thera’s been frantic about you.”

    *Thera’s not the one hugging her hard enough to crack her ribs,* Jared said on a spear thread.

    Blaed let go too fast.

    Jared lunged to catch her. Blaed grabbed the front of the sweater.

    A minute later, Lia was standing out of reach of both of them, eyeing them warily. “Whoever said males were sensible obviously never met either of you,” she grumbled.

    Blaed grinned at Jared. “Sheis well.”

    “Don’t encourage her too much,” Jared said dryly. “She needs more rest than she thinks she does.”

    Lia straightened her sweater. “Let’s go to the village. I’d like to talk to someone sensible. Someonefemale .”

    “I thought you wanted to talk to someone sensible,” Jared said.

    Blaed coughed.

    Lia looked at the sky and threw up her hands.

    The gesture, so like Reyna’s, stabbed Jared. As he turned away, he met Blaed’s now-solemn hazel eyes.

    Feeling the prickle between his shoulder blades, Jared chose each word as if it were a step he had to take on a trail filled with hidden traps. “When did you get here?”

    “Last evening,” Blaed said in a neutral voice. “Thayne’s always been able to call animals to him. Enough of the marauders’ horses survived, so we each had a mount.”

    “My mother’s a good Healer. She’ll take care of the witchfire burns for him.”

    “Jared . . .”

    “My father got you settled in all right? Did you talk to him about getting a Coach to the Tamanara Mountains?”

    “Jared . . .” Blaed’s hand closed on Jared’s arm.

    Feeling the sympathy that flowed out of that touch, Jared jerked away, circling Blaed cautiously as he moved toward the roan mare.

    “Go home. Jared,” Blaed said quietly. “I’ll escort Lia.”

    Torn, again, between two needs, Jared froze.

    “Go home, Jared,” Lia said.

    Because it was the woman and not the Queen who said the words, he found himself galloping down the road to Ranon’s Wood. His mind refused to see the images his eyes collected, and he was grateful. There would be time enough to deal with the destruction later.

    It didn’t take long to reach the lane that ended at the weathered, rambling house that had been in Reyna’s family for generations. The Healer’s House, passed on, not from mother to daughter, but from the old Healer to the strongest, or only, Healer in the next generation. Year after year, the land had been tended by and yielded its bounty to the women of that bloodline. Generation after generation, strong Blood males had sought out those women, settling for a long-term contract as a consort if they weren’t able to win the coveted title of husband.

    Jared tied the mare’s reins to the hitching post near the path that led to the front door.

    Every spring, all the women in the family gathered for a few days to help plant the gardens at the Healer’s House. The males of all ages divided their time between helping with whatever repairs might be needed after the winter and watching indulgently while the women laughed and squabbled over the planting.

    Jared opened the gate. It didn’t hang true and got stuck. He went sideways through the narrow opening.


  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire