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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(126) by Anne Bishop
  • “—so I had to learn other ways of soothing, didn’t I? Wasn’t Janine who got Shira to stop fretting when Tavi performed the Fire Dance and then turned down her invitation to be her lover, was it?”

    “What?”

    “ ‘Sweetheart,’ I said, ‘a young Warlord’s got a right to choose his lover same as a young witch.’ ”

    “What in the name of Hell was she doing invitinganyone to her bed?” Jared shouted.

    “She’d had her Virgin Night. She was free to try out a man if it pleased her.”

    “Shira’s not old enough—”

    “She’s twenty-five now,” Yarek said, looking fierce.

    “Then why didn’t her lover escort her over the mountains?”

    “She didn’t find one she wanted to keep. Damn shame, but there it is. I wanted Mariel to have her Virgin Night before she left—have a Shalador male take care of it so I’d know it was done right—but there was too much upset at the time, and it would have been too risky with her emotions all stirred up like that.”

    Jared braced his head in his hands and moaned. He’d been able to picture Janos and Davin grown—up to a point—but Shira and Mariel? Shira, with lovers. Mariel, ready for her Virgin Night and probably spending her evenings dreamily thinking about which consort she’d like to request for that night.

    Lia, who wasn’t thinking about any of it.

    He moaned again.

    Yarek narrowed his eyes. “You acting so prudish about Shira and Mariel for a reason, or are you just trying to dodge my question about the witchling?”

    “The witchling.” Jared rammed his fingers through his hair. What would Lia say about being called a witchling? What wouldThera say about being called thelittle Black Widow? “She’s—”

    They both tensed when they heard a horse approaching at an easy pace, but they couldn’t see the road from that part of the garden.

    The roan mare whickered a greeting. Minutes later, Lia and Blaed came around the side of the house.

    Jared ground his teeth. “She’s supposed to be resting.”

    “That’s the witchling?” Yarek asked, jumping to his feet. He whistled silently. “Even dressed like that, she’s a lovely woman.”

    Pleased to feel his blood simmering and more than willing to let grief find its release through anger, Jared stood up more slowly. “She’s also the Gray Lady’s granddaughter.”

    Yarek gurgled a bit, but didn’t have time to say anything before Lia and Blaed reached them.

    “Warlord,” Lia said politely, smiling at Yarek. “Jared,” she added cautiously.

    Yarek bowed low, then grinned. “Lady. I hope my nephew’s remembered his manners while he’s been serving you.”

    “Did he have any?” Lia murmured, a hint of mischief in her eyes.

    “Why don’t you just keep pushing yourself until you collapse?” Jared shouted at her. “Watching you crawl in the dirt will certainly make us all feel better.”

    Lia paled.

    “JARED!” Yarek clouted Jared’s shoulder. “You shame your mother to say such a thing!”

    Jared closed his eyes and hunched his shoulders. He stood there, trembling, saying nothing.

    “If you’ll excuse me, Warlord,” Lia whispered.

    As soon as she was out of earshot, Blaed turned on Jared. “Damn it, Jared. What’s wrong with you?”

    Jared glared at Blaed. “What’s wrong withme! What’s wrong withyou , bringing her out here?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire