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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(77) by Anne Bishop
  • Unless she really served elsewhere.

    Unless her past was just a story shrouded in a Black Widow’s Craft.

    Unless there was another reason why she’d changed her name.

    She wasn’t among the ones Lia had been sent to bring back. She’d admitted she’d used a spell to draw the right kind of owner.

    Or just a particular one?

    She and Lia spent a lot of time in the wagon. Alone.

    Green against Green. But if one of those Greens was somehow backed by a Red-Jeweled Black Widow High Priestess?

    Hastily gathering the apples, Jared set them on the counter, noticing that Blaed had added a bag of flour, a small block of salt, and two bags of sugar.

    “I think that will do it,” Jared said, fighting the urge to abandon the supplies and race back to the wagon.

    Fool! Thrice-times fool for leaving her. She was too trusting, too gentle. She’d see the enemy’s smile but not the knife until it was too late. She didn’t have any experience with this kind of treachery.

    “I think we should add a few vegetables to this,” Blaed said. “Onions, at least. And we need meat.”

    Why was Blaed watching him like that? Why was Blaedreally here? To help? Or to warn Thera if he returned sooner than expected?

    *What’s wrong, Jared?* Blaed asked. *All of a sudden, you’re jumping at shadows.*

    Jared added a braid of onions to the supplies. *Am I?*

    A flash of Opal-strength anger touched him.

    *I’m worried about them, too. Lia’s upset, Thera’s edgy Neither of them will say why.* Blaed’s temper flared. *You’re not the only one who believes in honor, Warlord.*

    They turned away from each other and began selecting vegetables at random, ignoring the old woman who watched them anxiously.

    Jared took a deep breath. Returning to the full counter, he used Craft to float the vegetables so they wouldn’t bruise the fruit and offered the wide-eyed woman a shrug and a smile.

    Deciding that he, at least, was finished, he watched Blaed pick up winter squashes and put them down without choosing any of them. And remembered something about the Warlord Prince’s training that he shouldn’t have discounted.

    *What do you think Sadi would do if he were here?* Jared asked.

    *I wish he was,* Blaed replied, facing Jared. *Then whatever was troubling Thera and Lia wouldn’t trouble them for long.*

    Their eyes met and held.

    Yes, if the Sadist had been with them, at least one of their group would have quietly disappeared by now.

    Jared turned to the old woman. “Meat?”

    “No, Lord,” she said. “There is a butcher just down the street.”

    “Fine. What do we owe you?”

    “What I have is yours, good Lords,” she whispered.

    Blaed’s snarl had her backing away from the counter, her hands protecting her throat.

    “We came here to buy supplies, not steal them,” Blaed said.

    The woman looked pleadingly at Jared. “I meant no insult, Lord.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire