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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(87) by Anne Bishop
  • “Wasn’t deliberate. My arm jerked whensomeone who didn’t have enough sense to get out of the way fell on us.”

    “Oh.”

    They looked at him.

    Jared gave them a cold, hard stare.

    Their eyes dropped to the hand he was still rubbing. Both of them shifted on the benches, putting them a little closer to Blaed.

    “We’re sorry we bit you, Jared,” Lia said meekly, glancing at him through her lashes.

    “You’re not the only one who got hurt,” Thera complained, rubbing her shin. “I slammed my leg into something miserably hard.”

    “Yes,” Jared said coldly. “Mine.”

    “Oh.” After an awkward silence, Thera huffed and pushed her hair back. “Well, I doubt anyone’s going to have the balls to ask questions about what happened.”

    Blaed growled.

    “Except you two,” Thera added, regarding Blaed with respectful wariness. “Which was the point.”

    Blaed’s muscles seemed to swell with the anger he was holding in.

    Jared’s eyes narrowed. Where was the fury that had made Thera and Lia tear into each other? Their tempers couldn’t have cooledthat fast. But they were sitting there like friends who had had a minor spat instead of ...

    “You did this deliberately,” Jared said slowly. “You scared the shit out of all of us deliberately.”

    “Of course,” Lia replied, looking surprised. “Thera and I realized we had to shift everyone’s attention away from the explosion so that no one would ask about it until we had time to figure out what happened.”

    “Youlied to us.”

    “We didn’tlie ,” Lia said indignantly. “We werepretending to have a fight in order to create a distraction.”

    His mind understood the distinction between “lie” and “pretend,” but his emotions weren’t interested in being that picky.

    “The fightdid provide a reason for the explosion,” Thera said.

    “And we used Craft to make sure our voices carried far enough so that everyone in the group would know,” Lia added.

    Jared forced his teeth apart before he cracked some of them. A few seconds. That’s all it had taken for one of them to send a thought to the other. Something like,We have to do something to keep the males from asking questions . “You planned this in the time it took for you to get to your feet, but you couldn’t take a few more seconds to send a communication thread to Blaed and me to tellus ?” He smacked a fist against the door, causing both women to jump. “You just started flinging out insults and tearing into each other without a thought about how we’d feel. You used Craft so that everyone could hear—”

    The air in the wagon chilled. He saw the shift in their eyes. They’d been willing to placate him up to a point, and he’d reached it.

    “You forget yourself, Warlord,” Lia said coldly. “A Queen doesn’t have to explain herself to any man.”

    True, Jared thought, but hadn’t he earned a little consideration?

    Lia’s expression softened. “If we’d told both of you it was an act, you wouldn’t have responded the same way. Not emotionally. And the other males would have wondered why.”

    Jared couldn’t say anything.Wouldn’t say anything.

    “Besides,” Thera added with deadly calm, “you responded to it even though youknew what had happened back there. In fact, you know better than the rest of us. What exactly was Garth trying to destroy, Jared?”

    Jared shuddered as it came rushing back, making him realize how right they’d been about a witch fight shifting the focus of the males’ attention. “Buttons,” he said hoarsely. “Three brass buttons. He was smashing them with a stone.”

    Thera nodded. “Metal holds a spell fairly well.”

    “What’s the point of having exploding buttons?” Blaed asked.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire