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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(65) by Anne Bishop
  • “Go away,” Jared snarled. He felt insulted by the offer. Insulted and a little humiliated that she had so little respect for him that she would offer to take him in front of Lia.

    Which made him want to hurt her. Badly.

    “Go back to bed, Thera,” Lia said softly.

    Thera glanced at Lia again and nodded.

    Jared stood there, saying nothing, not even daring to look at Lia until Thera was once more tucked in on the mattress next to Blaed’s.

    Lia touched his arm. “You need to eat and get some sleep.”

    “Do you think I’m such a whore that I’ll willingly go with any woman who snaps her fingers?” he asked harshly.

    Her eyes widened. “You’re not a whore, Jared.”

    “That’s exactly what a pleasure slaveis , Lady.”

    She rubbed his arm to comfort him. “Well, you’re not a pleasure slave anymore.” She hesitated. “Thera made the offer out of friendship for you and concern for me. I don’t think it was an easy thing for her to do. Let it go now. You’re not thinking clearly.”

    Rage and hurt swirled through him, confusing him. Submitting to her gentle coaxing, he felt a little steadier when she placed the food on the table and then sat next to him, even allowing him to feed her small bites of bread and meat. By the time he finished the meal, he was shivering from fatigue.

    “Come to bed now,” Lia said, guiding him to the mattresses. “Can you put a warming spell on the blankets?”

    Stretching out on his mattress, Jared nodded.

    Her fingers lightly brushed his dark hair. “Sleep, Jared.”

    He tried because she’d asked him to. But the spell-warmed blankets didn’t stop the shivering, and the presence of the other males made him tense and angry. He also knew they were all awake now and aware of the reason for his tension . . . and feared it.

    Half an hour later, he gave up and crept under Lia’s blankets.

    “What—”

    “Let me hold you, Lia,” he whispered against her ear. “I need to hold you.”

    “You’re freezing,” she hissed, tucking the blankets around them.

    He settled her comfortably against his side, offering his shoulder for a pillow. Now that he had his arms around her, the other males didn’t bother him as much. The tension eased. Warmed by the blankets and even more by Lia’s presence, his body relaxed.

    Resting his cheek against her soft hair, Jared slept.

    Chapter Fourteen

    “WHAT?” Dorothea SaDiablo shrieked.

    Krelis’s fury overwhelmed his usual fear of Dorothea’s temper. “It’s not the Gray Lady. It’s some little Green-Jeweled bitch-Queen who used an illusion web to trick herself out so she could prance into Raejpretending to be the Gray Lady.”

    Dorothea’s gown swished like an angry cat’s tail as she paced her private receiving room. Her eyes narrowed to slits. Every breath came out as a hiss.

    Krelis watched her, saying nothing, unwilling to pull her attention back to him. While he waited, his left thumb rubbed the palm of his right hand. He’d clenched the two brass buttons so hard while he’d unraveled the spells on them and extracted the message that they’d left a sharp impression in his flesh.

    Those impressions would fade. The kind of impression Dorothea would make on his flesh if she decided this was somehow his fault . . .

    “Why?” Dorothea finally said, slowing to a more thoughtful pace.

    “We know the Gray Lady was hurt in the attack last spring,” Krelis said cautiously. “Perhaps more than we’d realized.”

    “But not enough. The Gray is still strong in Dena Nehele.” Dorothea tapped a long, red-tinted nail against her lips. “But if the body had been maimed . . .” She waved a hand at Krelis, as if he had dared to interrupt her. “An illusion web would be able to hide any disfigurement, but a crippled limb wouldn’t function properly and would be quite noticeable, especially since Grizelle’s stride is as well known as her power. What did your pet have to say about the little bitch?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire