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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(117) by Anne Bishop
  • A bottle of wine was opened and glasses were filled. As everyone else settled comfortably, Theran braced himself for the interrogation about Dena Nehele and Cassidy’s court.

    If they intended to question him, they never got the chance because Gray blurted out, “Cassie doesn’t want to put down roots.”

    Something quiet, terrible, and predatory filled the room. Something he’d never felt anyplace else or in anyone else—not even Talon, who was the darkest-Jeweled male back home.

    “Explain,” Saetan said softly.

    “She brought seeds from her mother’s garden,” Gray said, “but she doesn’t want to plant them, doesn’t want them to grow in Dena Nehele soil.”

    A moment’s silence as that terrible feeling faded from the room. Then Daemon said, “That’s a prudent decision, Gray. Windblown seeds could spread for miles.”

    Gray looked stricken, and Theran wanted to erase Daemon’s words, even though he’d basically said the same thing earlier that day.

    “What about bulbs?” Lucivar said. “Something that could be contained in pots? Marian does that in her garden when she wants a particular plant but wants to control where it grows.”

    “So does Jaenelle,” Daemon said.

    “That’s certainly a possibility,” Saetan agreed. “But perhaps finding common ground would be a better idea for this first year.”

    “Common ground?” Gray asked.

    “For example, some form of daisy grows in most of the Territories in Kaeleer,” Saetan said. “If you put them all together, you’ll notice differences, but if someone saw one growing in its own soil, it would be recognized as ‘daisy.’ Maybe you should see what plants are native to Dena Nehele that would look similar to the seeds Cassie brought with her.”

    “A flower bed like that would remind her of Dharo but still belong to the place she now calls home,” Daemon said.

    “I don’t know what the plants look like,” Gray said.

    “Write to Lord Burle,” Daemon replied. “Ask him for descriptions of the plants that come from the seeds Cassie brought with her.”

    “But he doesn’t know about gardens,” Gray protested. “He told me that when he was in Dena Nehele.”

    “He has a wife who knows about gardens,” Saetan replied. “A wife who will remember exactly what seeds she gave her daughter. But you send your request to Lord Burle whether he knows about gardens or not.”

    Gray nodded. “Because a male doesn’t interact directly with a Lady unless he’s been formally introduced, especially when he knows a male who is connected to the Lady.”

    “You’ve studied your Protocol,” Saetan said, his voice warm with approval.

    “Yes, sir. Cassie is helping me.”

    I don’t know him, Theran thought, feeling a pang of loss as he watched Gray. I don’t know this man who is sitting there chatting with the High Lord of Hell as if he did it every week.

    “Add your note to the next batch of reports that are sent to me,” Daemon said. “I’ll see that it gets to Lord Burle in Dharo.”

    Gray smiled. “Thank you. I’ll write it tomorrow.”

    Theran cast about for something to say, but he wasn’t comfortable around those men, didn’t want to share anything with them that he didn’t have to share.

    “I have scars,” Gray said quietly, his eyes fixed on the carpet between his feet.

    Another of those strange silences, as if Saetan, Daemon, and Lucivar were hearing more than words.

    “Has Cassie seen them?” Saetan asked gently.

    “Some of them,” Gray mumbled.

    “Do any of them interfere with your ability to have sex?”

    Gray blushed and shook his head.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire