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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 71)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(71) by Anne Bishop
  • Thera turned her head and stared at the hand so close to her teeth.

    Resisting the instinct to jerk his hand away, Jared hoped she’d let him keep all of his fingers.

    “I have an idea,” Jared said cheerfully. “Why don’t you just think of me as another older brother?”

    “I don’t have a brother, older or otherwise.”

    “I don’t have a sister. Let’s pretend.”

    Her huff turned into laughter.

    It jabbed his heart.

    He’d thought she was in her late twenties, about his own age. Now, with her face softened by humor, he wondered if she was even close.

    “Where are you from, Thera?” Jared asked, curious about her.

    The laughter died. The softness disappeared from her face, making it look older again.

    “Nowhere,” she said tightly.

    He heard the pain in her voice and wanted to ease it without betraying Lia’s confidence about their being set free. “Perhaps, when we reach Dena Nehele, you can persuade the Gray Lady to let you return to your family.”

    Because he was touching her, he felt the fierce grief that flashed through her before she was able to lock it away again.

    “I have no family,” Thera said coldly.

    Sorry for having brushed against a heart-wound, Jared tried to find something else to talk about. “Blaed likes you.”

    “Blaed’s a fool,” she snapped.

    Thinking of how Blaed looked at her, with too much of his heart in his eyes, Jared’s sympathy for Thera rapidly faded.

    “Tell me,” he said politely, “does being a bitch come naturally to you, or do you have to work at it?”

    He’d expected her to lash out at him. It unnerved him to see tears fill her eyes and spill over.

    “Thera,” he said softly, trying to hold her close to comfort her while she struggled to break away from him.

    She stopped fighting and rested her head against his chest. “It’s safer to be a bitch. Can you understand that?”

    “Yes, I can understand that,” Jared said, gently wiping the tears away with his hand.

    “It’s hard to let go of a useful weapon. Hard to trust.”

    “I know.” He hugged her once, then eased back, pleased when she didn’t shake off the arm draped companionably around her shoulders.

    After they’d been walking for several minutes, he broached the question that had nagged at him for the past few days. “What were you doing at Raej, Thera? Why was a Green-Jeweled, unbroken Black Widow submitting to the humiliation of the auction block?”

    “To escape. Why else?”

    Dry, sharp amusement lit her green eyes for a moment. When it faded, Jared looked into a spiritual desert.

    Thera took a deep breath, let it out slowly. “My mother wasn’t very bright.” Her laugh was tinged with bitterness. “The landens always think being Blood and using Craft has to mean we’re all very powerful, very wealthy, very intelligent. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re any of those things. We’re just Blood.

    “She was pretty and gentle and had an innate sweetness that made her shine. Or it would have if she’d stayed in her home village living a life that suited her. But one day, a Warlord from the Province Queen’s court rode through the village and saw her. Courteous and admiring, he spent the afternoon with her, carrying her market basket and acting as if he’d never seen anyone quite so wonderful. Then he rode back to the court, and she was pleased to have been admired.

    “A few weeks later, the Province Queen summoned her to the court and offered her a place in the Fifth Circle. She was awed, flattered, and overwhelmed by the way the aristo members of the court acted.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire