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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 129)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(129) by Anne Bishop
  • “What was she like?” Lia asked softly.

    Jared wiped his face on his coat sleeve. “Compassionate. Generous, stubborn, strong, loving, patient, courageous.”Like you .

    Lia took his hand. “There’s something I want to show you.”

    She led him to the back of the greenhouse and pointed to three large, glazed pots. Each one was divided into two sections and contained two seedling trees. “Someone must be caring for them. They’re the only healthy plants here.”

    Love formed a lump in Jared’s throat that was sharper than grief. “Those are our luck and love pots,” he said, his voice husky. “And these”—he brushed a leaf with his fingertip—“are honey pear trees.”

    Lia leaned over, brushing her fingers over the leaves and thin trunks while she crooned to the little trees.

    “Reyna gave each of us one of these pots on our sixth birthday. Luck and love, she called them. There’s a hollow in the base. In the spring, we’d write down a wish or a dream or a desire and then fold the paper and pass it through the base into the hollow. Then we could plant any seeds or seedlings we wanted in the pot. They were ours to care for. Some years they grew. There were a lot of years when the seedlings started out well enough, but then we’d forget about them.

    “She never touched them. I planted honey pear seedlings one year because I wanted a honey pear tree that I didn’t have to share with anyone. I drenched them whenever I remembered and then forgot to water them for weeks at a time. When they died, I got mad at her. She waited through my undignified tantrum and then quietly told me that the plants were a symbol, a way for me to learn that no one else could nurture my wishes or dreams or desires. If I wanted them to thrive, I had to take care of them myself.”

    “These seedlings can’t be more than a year old,” Lia said. “So she must have planted them and tended them for you.”

    “Yes.” Two honey pear trees for each of her sons— even the son who had walked away from her.

    “What happened to the papers you tucked in the hollows?” Lia asked.

    “We’d take them out after the harvest to compare what had happened during those months to what we’d written.”

    “Did you get your wishes if the plants thrived?”

    “Sometimes.” Jared smiled crookedly. “Although one year I had to wait until the next horse fair to get the pony I’d admired so much because it wasn’t for sale until then.”

    Lia smiled with him. “Is your last wish still in the hollow?”

    Jared’s smile faded. It had been years since he’d thought about the luck and love pots. “I don’t know.” He took a couple of deep breaths before using Craft to pass his fingers through the pot’s base.

    His fingers brushed against paper. Touched sealing wax.

    Frowning, he drew the paper out of the hollow. When he turned it over, he saw his name written in a feminine hand.

    “I’ll wait outside,” Lia said.

    “No, you—”

    Lia touched his arm. “I won’t go far.”

    Jared watched her until he felt convinced she wouldn’t wander out of his sight. Then he settled on the stool Reyna had kept in the greenhouse and broke the letter’s seal.

    Jared,

    A few weeks ago, a Black Widow came through Ranon’s Wood with her brother and his Lady. They were exhausted and the Warlord had been wounded in a fight. After the healing, they stayed with us a few days to recover their strength. Since whatever marks they had between them would be needed for the rest of their journey, I had refused payment. The Black Widow offered to trade a skill for a skill, so I asked if she could make a tangled web that could show how you fared.

    When she approached me several hours later, I knew she didn’t want to tell me what the web of visions had revealed.

    She told me you would return to Ranon’s Wood this autumn.

    Then she told me I wouldn’t be here to see you.

    At first I thought she meant that I’d be away from the village or committed to a healing and you wouldn’t be able to wait. But I’ve been a Healer too long not to understand words that are left unspoken. I didn’t ask if it would be an accident or illness or if I could do something to prevent it. What matters is there are things to be said, and this may be the only chance I’ll have to say them.

    I won’t insult you by saying that your words didn’t hurt or that I didn’t cry. They did hurt. I did cry. But I understood even then why you needed to say them. Since that day, Belarr and I have had to accept the bitter truth that, in some ways, you were right. Because of our mistakes, no matter how well intentioned, a son lost his freedom and a precious part of his life.

    The Blood survive on trust, Jared. We trust that everyone will follow the Laws and Protocol that keep the weaker safe from the stronger. We trust that males won’t use their strength against a female except in self-defense. We trust that every witch who is served will respect the males who hand over their lives into her keeping. When the code of honor we’ve lived by for thousands upon thousands of years is broken, fear seeps in, and no man trusts what he fears.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire