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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 50)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(50) by Anne Bishop
  • “I’m sorry,” Thera said again.

    Looking puzzled, the witch’s gray eyes flicked to the men Jared could feel gathering behind him, to the children who had emerged from the wagon, to Thera, and, finally, to him.

    She started to raise her hand to brush back her tangled hair, but didn’t complete the gesture. Pulling what was left of her braid over her shoulder, she studied the dark hair, and then muttered, “Hell’s fire.”

    “Who are you?” Jared roared. He didn’t know which made him more furious: that his mind had been tricked into believing this was the Gray Lady or that his body hadn’t been fooled.

    She wobbled a little when the gelding shifted nervously, but she squared her shoulders and raised her chin.

    The admiration he felt for the strength and pride he saw in her eyes only fueled his temper, and the wild stranger inside him started howling at him to protect, protect, protect. He tried to push it away by reminding himself that he was a Ringed slave, but instincts that had been bred into Blood males over dozens of generations weren’t easily banished by a Ring or a word.

    In a commanding voice, she said, “I am Lady Arabella Ardelia. On the Gray Lady’s behalf, I’m taking you to Dena Nehele.”

    Behind him, Brock and Randolf swore quietly.

    Jared ground his teeth. Arrogant, stubborn, courageous, feather-brained little fool! Did she really think men like Brock and Randolf would just shrug and continue to obey her unless she used the Ring of Obedience and brutally revived their fear of the kind of pain it inflicted? Especially once they realized she was handicapped right now by more than physical injuries?

    He took a step toward her.

    “Stay back,”‘ she said, her body tensing.

    Jared bared his teeth in a savage smile. “You want me to stay back?Use the Ring .”

    Her eyes widened.

    Jared held his breath, waiting. Shehad to use the Invisible Ring now. She had to. She’d been able to avoid using it when he’d challenged her a short while ago, but she couldn’t now that he’d challenged her in front of the others. His Jewels outranked hers. He was a danger to her. If she didn’t use the Ring to pull him down, he could smash through her inner barriers and tear her mind apart. Damn her, shehad to use it to protect herself, to reassert her control over all of them. Shehad to hurt him to prove that she could still brutally control the strongest male among them—and would inflict the same kind of pain on the others if the males didn’t continue to obey her.

    Instead, she let go of the saddle and tried to brace herself for a fight.

    Swearing, Jared closed the distance between them and scooped her up in his arms. “You don’t need a pleasure slave.” he snarled as he stomped to the wagon, “you need a keeper.”

    “I do not—”

    “Shut up.”

    “Jared,” Thera warned as he brushed past her and the children. “She needs attention and—”

    “In a minute.” He shouldered the door open and kicked it closed in Thera’s face. After setting his bundle of wet, bedraggled witch on the bench, he stepped back and leaned against the door, preventing anyone from interrupting them.

    One of the shutters behind the driving seat had fallen open during the wild ride. Using Craft, he closed it and created a ball of witchlight, floating it near the bench so he could take a good look at her.

    She wasn’t pretty—he'd always associated pretty with delicate—but there was a kind of strength in her face that would ripen into beauty in a few more years—a beauty that was a reflection of the deep inner strength strong Blood males found more arousing than a lush body.

    Sadi had once said strength attracted strength, that a strong witch’s psychic scent acted like a catnip on strong Blood males. Even if the attraction wasn’t sexual, they’d still want to touch her, smell her, cuddle up next to her. It was part of a witch’s power over the males, something that soothed her chosen as well as filling them with possessive savagery.

    Standing there, Jared felt the pull of her psychic scent— the same pull that had been luring and confusing him since she'd bought him. Knowing she wasn’t the old woman he’d thought she was, he felt his blood start to simmer with a dangerous hunger.

    And flavoring all of it was fury fueled by relief.

    Since fighting would help him keep his distance until he had time to think, he lashed out. “You mule-headed little idiot! You had no business jumping into that creek. You could have been killed—or didn’t you think about that?”

    “If I hadn’t jumped in, Corry—”

    Jared rode right over her. “Cony’s male. Males are expendable.”

    Her gray eyes turned almost black with temper.

    Remembering how their chess game had ended, he abandoned that line of attack and chose another. “Was this some kind of game?” he demanded. “The little witch decided to masquerade as a grown-up, go to Raej, and buy a few slaves for fun?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire