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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 14)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(14) by Anne Bishop
  • Having experienced that hard gray stare, Jared understood the man’s discomfort all too well.

    “So right away he offered these quarters,” Tomas continued, handing Jared the soap. “Thera and Polli made up a bed for you, and Randolf and Brock carried you in. The Lady fussed over you for a bit and kept muttering to herself about whether the damage was permanent. After she approved the food the servants brought, she went back to the inn.”

    The Lady fussed over you. Jared soaped the sponge and started washing. In a way, it made sense. Badly scarred pleasure slaves weren’t as valuable—except to witches who were aroused by the evidence of pain inflicted—and a healing man didn’t perform at his best. But something in Tomas’s voice told him that, even without knowing about the Invisible Ring, the others had realized that the Lady considered him different from the rest of them, and they weren’t sure what to think about it ... or about him.

    He wasn’t sure what to think about it either.

    “Course, Blaed’s going to be relieved to find out you’re a pleasure slave,” Tomas said. “The way Thera tore into him, I don’t think he wants to stiffen anytime soon, and he’s been worried that the Lady would want to be pleasured and he hasn’t had much training. Not like you, being trained by the Sadist and all.”

    Jared bit his tongue and concentrated on washing his legs.

    Tomas frowned. “Course, you don’t need a stiff dangle, do you? They say the Sadist never gets stiff, and he’s the best there is.”

    At a lot of things that were better left unmentioned.

    Jared resoaped the sponge and started scrubbing his arms and chest. He didn’t want to talk about Sadi, and he didn’t want to think about pleasuring the Gray Lady. “Why did Thera tear into Blaed?”

    Tomas shook his head. His voice filled with cautious admiration. “That Thera. When she gets pissy, she gets a look in her eyes that can singe your ball hairs.”

    The sponge stuttered to a halt. “That’s a colorful way of putting it,” Jared finally choked out.

    Tomas tugged on the sponge. “I’ll wash your back.”

    “No!” He didn’t need this boy to act as his slave, and knowing too well how it felt to be at the mercy of someone’s whims, he didn’t want anyone else feeling like that because of him.

    “I’ll be careful,” Tomas said quietly.

    Thrown off stride by the boy’s sympathy, Jared released the sponge. He’d forgotten about the lash wounds. Feeling no pain as Tomas washed his back, his hands gently explored his belly where the whips had cut him. It felt tender, but that was all.

    “Don’t know what the Lady did, but you’ve healed up just fine,” Tomas said. “Didn’t even scar.”

    Tomas’s cheerful efficiency made his heart ache. Too knowing for someone so young, here was this boy reassuring a grown man that he hadn’t scarred when his own small body looked like a battlefield.

    Tomas deserved better than to be condemned to a life like this. Then again, they all deserved better.

    Needing a distraction, Jared said, “Tell me about Thera and Blaed.”

    “Well, you see, none of the beds were made up, though there were clean sheets and blankets folded up on the mattresses. Thera started right in ‘cause Cathryn—”

    “Cathryn? I thought the other one’s name is Polli.”

    “The Lady bought three females,” Tomas explained patiently. “Thera, Polli, and Cathryn. Thera’s a broken Black Widow. Breaking her might have taken her Jewels, but it sure didn’t dull her temper. Polli’s a broken witch. I think it made her soft-headed and skittish. Cathryn’s just a Blood female, too young for breeding yet.”

    Jared ground his teeth. Just the thought of a Blood female being used as an aristo broodmare as soon as she became old enough to bear healthy offspring made him sick. Oh, they weren’t broken like more and more strong witches were, but that was because they didn’t have the inner power for more than basic Craft to begin with, and only unbroken females could produce more than one offspring. “How old is Cathryn?”

    “She’s little. Nine maybe. You want to hear about Blaed or not?”

    His breath hissed between his teeth. “I want to hear.”

    “So Thera started making up beds. Polli was making up a bed, too, but she was moving slow, like something was paining her. Then Blaed walked over to Polli and said something to her, and the next thing you know, she had her back to the wall and she was screaming that she didn’t have to spread her legs, it was her moontime, and she didn’t have to spread her legs during her moontime.

    “Before Blaed could say anything, Thera grabbed an apple from the bowl the servants had brought and threw it at him. Blaed’s got good reflexes. He couldn’t dodge it, but he managed to take it on the hip instead of in the balls.

    “So there’s Polli having hysterics, and Cathryn’s crying ‘cause she’s scared, and Thera’s screaming at Blaed, and Blaed’s rushing toward Thera while she’s reaching back for another apple, and Randolf and Brock are trying to jump in before it gets really nasty. And then the outside door burst open and the Gray Lady was standing there.

    “The males all stopped cold, and I hushed Cathryn, but Polli was still wailing about her moontime—Hell’s fire, evenI could tell that whatever was paining her, it wasn’t that— and Thera was still screaming about heartless pricks who couldn’t keep their pants buttoned and holding that apple so hard she was squishing it to pulp.”

    Tomas jumped up. “You soap up your hair. I’ll get a bucket of clean water to rinse with.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire