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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(115) by Anne Bishop
  • Yes, she and the woman who sent that package would have a little chat—and the webs Jaenelle would weave around the bitch would be a far more terrifying punishment than the physical penalty Daemon had devised.

    And that, Saetan realized, was the reason Jaenelle didn’t understand. She knew the depth of Daemon’s loyalty, so she would react as though he was under attack and move to defend her husband—in the same way she had always responded whenever she thought her father was under attack.

    Remembering how she responded to attacks on her family, he pulled back. Chained his own temper as he considered the best way to explain.

    “Although,” Jaenelle added thoughtfully, “I suppose another woman would either file a complaint with the Province Queen or the District Queen who ruled her hometown.”

    “And some of the men would have filed a complaint as soon as they got home, especially if they felt vulnerable because they had young children, and a charge of infidelity could end with paternity being denied at their children’s Birthright Ceremony.” Saetan shook his head. “I think once Daemon begins making discreet inquiries about that Lady’s activities, he’ll find that a number of complaints had been submitted—but were somehow lost before they reached someone with enough power or authority to make the woman’s activities public.”

    “You don’t think this was about Daemon?”

    “It wasn’t about Daemon—and it wasn’t about you. Not this time. Oh, I think she would have enjoyed the opportunity to bed him—which only proves she’s an arrogant fool—but I think she was more interested in having the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan owing her for her silence.”

    “I see. Blackmail.”

    Saetan nodded. “She’s not the first to play this game. She won’t be the last.”

    “You didn’t know about her?”

    “Things can always be hidden, witch-child. The ruler of a Territory depends on the integrity of the Province Queens and District Queens to keep the land and the people in balance. If I’d known about this bitch, she wouldn’t still be among the living.”

    A memory. A flash of thought that made him wonder if he had known about her.

    He locked that thought away until he could consider it in private.

    “What happens now?” Jaenelle asked.

    “That will be for Daemon to decide,” Saetan replied. “The real question now isn’t about the witch who likes to play this game. The real question is whether Lady Rhea was aware of the game. Did she know what her friend was doing at these house parties? If she did, her silence was tacit approval. Even if she didn’t know, even if she disposed of the complaints because she didn’t believe they could be true . . . Well, everything has a price.”

    As he came abreast of her, he stopped his prowling.

    “Daemon is going to ask Rhea to dissolve her court and step down,” Jaenelle said.

    “Yes.”

    “Won’t the rest of the Queens and their courts wonder why she’s stepping down?”

    “He rules Dhemlan, witch-child, and he wears a Black Jewel,” Saetan replied dryly. “I doubt anyone is going to ask.”

    Obviously there were a few things Daemon left out when he’d told Jaenelle about this incident. Like the fact that Rhea had pissed herself when Daemon exploded into the drawing room. His rage and his opinion of her friend left no doubt in anyone’s mind that Prince Sadi now viewed Lady Rhea and her friend as enemies.

    “I imagine Daemon was quite upset when he arrived home,” Saetan said.

    “You could say that,” Jaenelle replied, sounding vague.

    “Is everything all right between you?” He hadn’t seen any signs of distress or sensed any distance between Daemon and Jaenelle when they arrived at the Keep. But Daemon had side-stepped questions about what had happened after he told Jaenelle about this incident. Not that it was any of his business, but . . . Hell’s fire. They were his children, so he was damn well going to make it his business. “Did you work things out?”

    Jaenelle’s face blazed with color, and she looked everywhere but at him.

    “Oh,” she said. “Yeah. We worked things out pretty well.”

    “I see,” he said faintly. Maybe he wouldn’t make it his business after all.

    He cleared his throat to find his voice. “In that case, why don’t we join the rest of the family? Our guests should be arriving anytime now.”

    “Won’t that be fun?”

    Not sure how to judge the words, he simply guided her to the door, and said, “I don’t know about fun, but it should be interesting.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire