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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(108) by Anne Bishop
  • “Neither is as easy as you might think,” Cassidy muttered as she put the key in a trinket box her father had made for her years ago. “Your descendant is a very stubborn, pigheaded man.”

    Live your life.

    Her life. Not the same thing as her duties as a Queen.

    She might have to allow Theran to restrict her actions as a Queen, but it was time to reclaim her life.

    When she reached the breakfast room, Ranon looked like he was about to be backed into a corner, Shira looked amused, and Theran looked wary. Powell was clearly lingering over his breakfast, and Cassidy didn’t think her Steward was waiting because he needed to discuss some business with her that couldn’t wait for an hour. He probably didn’t want to miss today’s chapter of the Grayhaven drama.

    “Where is Gray?” she asked. He’d relaxed enough about being in the house to come in and eat with the rest of them, so she felt worry scratching her heart when he wasn’t there.

    “He’s on the terrace, explaining the facts of life to the honey pears,” Theran said.

    Cassidy clamped her lips together and didn’t dare ask what that meant.

    Shira carefully spread some jam on a piece of toast. Since it was the second one on her plate, Cassidy figured Shira was doing it simply to have something to do.

    “Do you play an instrument, Lady Cassidy?” Shira asked.

    Ranon growled in response, so the question clearly wasn’t as innocent as it sounded.

    “That depends on how you define ‘play,’ ” Cassidy replied, quickly filling a plate and pulling out a chair next to Shira. “I can read music, and I can pick out a tune on a piano. Why?”

    “Gray thinks the honey pears would enjoy having someone play music to them for a little while each day, and I think you’re the only one he hasn’t questioned yet about your proficiency with an instrument.”

    Ranon seemed to be giving his scrambled eggs a lot more attention than they required. Or deserved.

    “Do you play?” Cassidy asked Shira.

    “Drums,” Shira replied as Cassidy took one of her pieces of toast. “Too much sound for tender seedlings-to-be.”

    Theran snorted.

    Powell fiddled with his coffee cup but didn’t try to drink—and didn’t look at anyone else around the table.

    “Ranon plays the Shalador flute,” Shira said brightly.

    “I am not going to stand out there and play music for thirteen pots of dirt,” Ranon growled.

    “I’ve never heard a Shalador flute,” Cassidy said—and watched the color drain from his face as he realized playing for the pear trees really wasn’t his choice to make.

    “Whenever it gives the Lady pleasure,” Ranon said.

    Either that phrase had remained in the training, or Ranon had been studying the books of Protocol.

    Live your life.

    “Speaking of music,Theran,” Cassidy began, noticing the way his body jerked and the wary look he gave her,“I’m planning to attend the outdoor concert. I heard this was a weekly event in the town. You and the Master of the Guard may take whatever precautions you feel necessary, but this isn’t a formal visit by the Queen, so discretion is preferred.”

    “No,” Theran said. “It isn’t safe.”

    Cassidy pushed her plate away and locked her fingers together. “Prince, I’m not talking about visiting a Province that is still recovering from all the things that have caused upheaval in this Territory. I’m talking about spending a few hours in what amounts to the home village. Grayhaven is the town connected with this estate. It grew up around this estate. This is the place where I’ll do my personal shopping, attend the theater and concerts. This is the town where I live. If I’m not safe here, I’m not safe anywhere. If you can’t relent enough for me to informally meet the people in this one town, then my being here is nothing more than a fool’s dream. On both our parts,” she finished softly.

    Theran looked shaken—and even more wary.

    She intended to visit the town. She couldn’t spend the rest of the year confined to this estate.

    Now there was a bitterness in his face—a look that was, sadly, becoming too familiar.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire