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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 68)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(68) by Anne Bishop
  • “So what’s wrong with the horses?” Jared asked.

    Blaed and Thayne exchanged looks, each one waiting for the other to say something.

    Watching them, Jared tried to still a growing uneasiness. He’d pushed the group hard yesterday, partly to put as much distance between them and the clearing as possible and partly because pushing himself physically was the only way he knew to stay sane and not hurt anyone. Thank the Darkness, the rut had only lasted one day, but it had been a long, miserable day. If his pushing had injured the horses . . .

    Jared eyed the team hitched to the wagon. “Is one of them lame?”

    “No, no, nothing serious like that,” Blaed said hastily.

    Jared ground his teeth. The rut might be over, but his temper was still frayed. “Then why aren’t we moving?”

    Thayne gave Blaed a “go on, tell him” look.

    Blaed glared at his friend and then turned back to Jared. He looked like a man who had just bared his throat after handing a witch a well-honed knife. “It’s just—” Sighing, he raised his hands in a helpless gesture. “We think they’re sulking.”

    Jared stared at the two younger men long enough to make them squirm. “Sulking?”

    Thayne flinched.

    Blaed huffed, then gingerly put his hand on Jared’s shoulder, leading him a little ways from the wagon.

    Confused, Jared let himself be led. Brock and Randolf were on the saddle horses, scouting ahead. The others had stopped walking once they realized the wagon had fallen so far behind and were just starting to drift back to find out why. Lia was safely tucked in the wagon. And Thayne already knew what the problem was.

    So who wasn’t supposed to overhear this conversation? The horses?

    “I know you’ve been feeling a little . . . overprotective . . . lately,” Blaed began cautiously.

    “You’vegot balls to say that to me,” Jared snapped.

    “The point is,” Blaed hurried on, “does Lady Liahave to stay in the wagon? And there’s no point snarling about it not being the proper form of address. Tomas started calling her that and, since she didn’t mind, the rest of us just followed his lead.”

    But not in front of him, Jared thought. They’d called her Lady Ardelia when he’d been within earshot. He understood why, but it still made him snappish. “The Lady has healed remarkably well, but she’s in no condition to be walking for hours over rough ground.”

    “She doesn’t have to walk,” Blaed soothed. “If we used some blankets for padding and she bundled up well so she wouldn’t get chilled, couldn’t she sit on the driving seat for a while?”

    Jared’s teeth hurt. He tried to relax his jaw. “What’s that got to do with the horses?”

    Blaed sighed. “Thayne’s real good with animals. Better than anyone else I know.” He sighed again. “He thinks they miss her. You didn’t spend much time leading them, so you probably didn’t have the chance to notice the difference in how they responded whenever she took a turn at walking. Didn’t you wonder why she always stayed near the wagon? It’s because whenever she moved too far away, they tried to follow her. One time when she went into the bushes to answer a call of nature, the only thing that stopped them from going with her was Garth grabbing the harness and digging his heels in. And she sings to them.”

    Jared rubbed his hands over his face. Great. Wonderful. “Didn’t you explain to them that Lia’s in the wagon?”

    “She’s downwind, Jared.”

    “Fine. All right. I’ll ask her.”

    Giving Jared’s shoulder a cautious pat, Blaed stepped out of reach.

    Jared marched to the back of the wagon and spent a minute glaring at the door. The horses weren’t the only ones sulking today. She’d let him fuss yesterday. It was the only thing that had gotten him through the rut. Sex might have helped, but he wasn’t sure. The kind of sexual fury that had roared through him wouldn’t have been easy to control, and there had been times yesterday when he’d been clearheaded enough to imagine what he’d be like in bed.

    It had terrified him, and he’d clung to the knowledge of Lia’s virginity like an emotional lifeline. Even the rut was daunted by the risks and responsibilities of the Virgin Night.

    So he’d fussed. He’d pampered and petted. He’d kissed and cuddled. She’d asked him to brush her hair. She’d let him feed her. She’d rubbed his back, making him ache for release and yet soothing him until it was almost enough.

    Between the times when he’d gone to the wagon for the relief her presence gave him, he’d tried to work off the energy, tried not to see the other males as rivals.

    It had been a physical and emotional strain for everyone, and he’d blinked back tears when, halfway through the restless night, he’d felt the rut waning.

    He hadn’t realized something else would wane, too.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire