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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 42)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(42) by Anne Bishop
  • After breakfast, while the Gray Lady and Thera took the opportunity to bathe, Jared opened the wagon’s door and shutters to freshen the air inside. Tomas swept the narrow bit of floor with a broom he’d found in a cupboard in the stone building. Jared shook out the blankets. Together, they made a cozy nest on each of the benches. Jared put a warming spell on the blankets, which would keep the women comfortable but wouldn’t be as noticeable as warming the inside of the wagon.

    “There,” Tomas said, smoothing out a wrinkle in a blanket. “They’ll be feeling better in next to no time.”

    Jared just smiled and said nothing. Tomas was a clever boy, and since he obviously knew what a woman’s moon-time was—who wouldn’t after a few days in Polli’s company?—he’d figure it out fast enough.

    By the time the Gray Lady and Thera were tucked into the wagon as comfortably as possible, the sun had been up a couple of hours—not that anyone complained about getting a later start than usual.

    After giving the order for them to move on, Jared waited until everyone else had reached the lane before stepping between the stone posts. He and Brock had already double-checked the buildings to be sure everything was just as they’d found it. The rest of the fresh food that had been left for them was now in a cool-spelled box in the wagon. There was nothing . . .

    The chipped blue jug had been empty when he’d gone back to make the last check. Rinsed out and empty.

    When he’d checked outside the buildings, there had been no sign of a bouquet of flowers tossed aside.

    It didn’t bother him that she’d taken that Sapphire-Jeweled bastard’s flowers with her. Not at all. It was simply annoyance with himself that he hadn’t thought of that ploy to gain favor with her. It was a natural response, an instinctive rivalry. A favored male was always granted special privileges. He needed that leniency more than a stranger who wasn’t even around. It wasn’t like the rogue would have any sexual interest in a woman old enough to be his mother—Hell’s fire, hisgrandmother. He certainly didn’t have any interest. Not really. After all those years as a pleasure slave, his body was confused and just reacted to anything female. The fact that he didn’t respond that way to Thera and sometimes wanted to kiss the Gray Lady until her bones melted didn’t mean anything.

    So it didn’t mean a thing to him that she had taken that bastard’s flowers with her because he wasnot jealous.

    Damn.

    Jared closed his eyes and shook his head. He’d gone about dealing with the Gray Lady all wrong. He should have remembered that she liked balls and sass, would probably have been more responsive to a male companion who made an effort to be charming. So from now on, he’d be charming even if it choked him. He used to be able to charm women. How many times had he coaxed Reyna into letting him have an extra nutcake? A boy who could charm his mother into spoiling his appetite for dinner should be able to grow up into a man who could wrap an elderly Queen around his little finger—especially when that man had received a year of intense, private training in how to do just that. He should be able to charm a Queen.

    Even a Gray-Jeweled Queen.

    Maybe even charm her enough to coax her into making a detour to Ranon’s Wood, if he couldn’t find a way to slip the control of the Invisible Ring.

    Taking a deep breath, Jared opened his eyes and studied the posts. Today it seemed so obvious, so easy. He traced the symbols for wind, water, and fire, then walked down the path until he reached the lane. After putting the wooden pole back on its posts to hide the way into the clearing, he walked across the lane and stood in front of the moss-covered boulders.

    Wind, water, fire . . .

    He caressed the face of the woman rising from the stones—and through the stone, felt the protection spells around the clearing rekey.

    . . . and earth.

    Because a Queen wasn’t just the heart of a court, she was the heart of the land.

    Slipping his hands into his coat pockets, Jared hurried to catch up with the others.

    “Hand it over, you stupid turd!”

    Jared broke into a run. Randolf never had that edge in his voice with anyone except Garth.

    Rounding a curve where the lane fed into another road, Jared slowed to a cautious walk.

    Garth held one hand behind his back, dodging and circling while Randolf tried to grab that arm.

    Jared wouldn’t have been amused if he’d found Eryk and Corry playing “gimme.” And he was less than amused to find Randolf baiting Garth, and not just because Garth was broken. Every man had his flash point, that inner line he wouldn’t be pushed beyond without striking back. Garth stood a head taller than most of them, even topping Brock by a few inches, and outweighed all of them—and all that weight was bone and hard muscle. It was easy to forget what a man his size could do because he always had that confused, kicked-puppy look on his face.

    That look wasn’t on Garth’s face now. He moved with a warrior’s assurance, and his pale blue eyes glittered with malevolence.

    “Randolf!” Jared shouted.

    Randolf lunged at Garth.

    Garth dodged and gave Randolf a shove that sent the man flying.

    “Jared!”‘ Garth bellowed, striding toward him.

    “Pull him down!” Randolf yelled as he got to his feet.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire