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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(123) by Anne Bishop
  • “Gray?” Cassie called softly. “Gray, are you in there?”

    “Back here,” he called.

    Realizing a tactical error, he shifted so his back was against the shed. That way, once she was standing in front of him, it would be easy to shift so she was in the soft light and he was in the shadows.

    She came around the corner, hesitated a moment, then hurried to reach him.

    “Is something wrong?” she asked, sounding like she was braced for bad news.

    “Why would something be wrong?”

    “You’re outside.”

    “It’s a soft night in early summer,” he replied, smiling. “The air is deliciously scented with all the things that are growing.” And I was waiting for you.

    “Gray, I’m sorry about the illusion spell. I didn’t know it would upset you. I just wanted to look . . .” She pressed her lips together.

    He shifted away from the wall and put his hands on her waist, holding her lightly. “How did you want to look?”

    “Pretty. Or as pretty as someone like me can look.”

    He heard pain and bitterness in her voice, and he suspected someone had inflicted a deep wound at some time in her life, but he didn’t understand what that wound had to do with her using that stupid illusion spell. “Why do you want to be pretty when you’re already beautiful?”

    So vulnerable.

    She didn’t believe him. Couldn’t believe him.

    She drew in a breath, probably to deny what he’d said. Instead, she looked at him, and he saw the moment she realized his hands were on her, realized how close they were standing, realized what the brush of her body was doing to his.

    “Cassie,” Gray whispered.

    He placed the first feather kiss at the corner of her mouth and worked his way along a cheekbone up to her temple. “Cassie.”

    “She doesn’t understand yet how you see her, boyo,” Daemon had said, “so don’t waste your breath on words that will cause her to pay attention to the wrong things.”

    He didn’t waste his breath. He diligently practiced the things he’d been taught that evening and felt her melt against him, caught the intoxicating scent of her arousal, both physical and psychic. When she pressed her lips to his and slipped her tongue in his mouth, he wrapped his arms around her and almost ignored the last instruction.

    His self-preservation kicked in when he remembered who would demand an explanation if he ignored that last instruction.

    He waited until she broke the kiss before he eased back—and added the footnote to the evening.

    “Everything has a price, Lady,” Gray said, smiling. “You owe me a little something for that illusion spell.”

    A jumble of emotions in her hazel eyes, wariness and arousal being dominant. “What do I owe you?”

    “The answer to a question.”

    She relaxed a little.

    “Are the freckles only on your face?”

    Her face colored. She swallowed hard and eventually said, “No, they’re not just on my face.”

    “I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of them.” He stepped back, not sure if he wanted to snarl or whimper about that particular instruction. “Come on. It’s late. I’ll walk you back to the house.”

    She looked a little dazed during the walk back to the house. She looked more than a little confused as he nudged her inside and closed the door.

    And he thought the light would be burning in her bedroom for a while longer that night.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire