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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(126) by Anne Bishop
  • Step up to the line, Grayhaven, and be his shield. What he feels for Cassidy is something you’ve never felt for anyone. Not even in passing.

    “Get that stuff tucked away,” Theran said as he rose and turned toward the house.


    He watched Gray bolt for the stone shed, then hurried to intercept Cassidy.

    “Is something wrong with Gray?” Cassidy asked as soon as he got close enough to hear her.

    “He’s fine,” Theran replied, taking her arm and turning her back toward the house. “He’s got a bundle of work he wants to get done today.”

    She wasn’t dressed for spending time in the garden this morning. Was that good or bad, since she always spent time in the garden after breakfast?

    “Maybe I should give him a hand?”

    Cassidy sounded doubtful. Was she trying to back away from Gray? She had been acting a bit skittish about being around him. At first Gray had been pleased about that, but that had changed more and more as the hoped-for letter didn’t arrive.

    “I was going to come out and work in the garden, but Ranon is going back to his home village for a couple of days, and he and Powell said there was something urgent I needed to do before Ranon left, but they weren’t clear about what that was, and said I should talk to you.”

    Theran tossed a psychic thread toward Ranon. *Next time you decide to be helpful, give me some warning.*

    *We gave her a reason to come looking for you instead of Gray, so figure out why she’s supposed to be stuck at a desk for the next few hours.*

    Go piss yourself. He didn’t say it, but the feeling traveled through the link between them—and the feeling was quite mutual.

    What could he ask her to do that had to be done before Ranon left?

    They were on the terrace and almost to the door before he had an answer.

    “The Shalador Queens,” Theran said. “You need to write a letter inviting the Queens on the Shalador reserves to meet you. Ranon will take the letter when he goes back to his village. That’s why it’s urgent.”

    “You don’t want me to contact the Queens in Dena Nehele,” Cassidy said. “You’ve opposed that suggestion every time I’ve made it.”

    “Seemed more important for the court to adjust to working with each other. Now . . .” He shrugged.

    “You really want me to contact the Queens on the reserves?”

    “Yes, I do.” Besides, he added silently, it’s not likely any of them will come.

    He opened the door for her. “Come on. Once you wade through the paperwork Powell seems to create overnight, you’ll be free the rest of the day to save the posies from the nasty weeds.”

    She stopped in the doorway and looked at him as if she suddenly saw a different man.

    “You don’t have a feel for the land, do you?” she asked. “It’s just dirt and boundaries to you.”

    “I don’t fuss over it like you and Gray seem to,” he said dismissively. “It’s the people that matter. It’s the people that need tending.”

    “How do you take care of one without taking care of the other?”

    Since she didn’t wait for him to answer, he guessed she didn’t expect one.

    Gray set the items in the box on the potting bench, one by one, and marveled at this gift.

    Cassie’s mother had written this book. Cassie’s mother had sent this box. No hasty reply to his letter, but a bundle of information from a woman who seemed to understand that he was hoping to put down roots in her daughter’s heart.

    And the flowers, preserved in shields so he could study them at his leisure.

    His own mother had given him a fierce kind of love. He didn’t know if it was because she was unable to be soft, or if because he’d been destined for the killing fields, she hadn’t wanted to give him anything a warrior wouldn’t need.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire