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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(128) by Anne Bishop
  • A scratching on her suite’s door. She got up to let Vae in, mostly because the sofa in her sitting room was a comfortable place to brood.

    *Cassie? Cassie! You are not sleeping. Why aren’t you sleeping? It is sleep time. Everyone is sleeping. Except Talon. But it is not his sleep time.*

    Cassidy barely had time to settle into a corner of the sofa before Vae was beside her, pressing close.

    “You need to be brushed,” Cassidy said, noticing how much loose fur was now coating her trousers.

    *I will nip Theran tomorrow,* Vae said. *Then he will brush me.*

    Oh, good. Serves you right, Grayhaven, for being a brainless ass.

    *You have smells,* Vae said happily.

    Cassidy was about to remind Vae that it wasn’t polite to talk about human smells—especially the female kind. Then she realized the Sceltie was focused on the key in her hand.

    “It’s a key,Vae. It’s made of metal. It doesn’t have smells.”

    Vae sniffed the key again, jumped off the sofa, and trotted into the bedroom. *I will find the smells.*

    “You do that.” If the dog was hunting for nonexistent smells, at least she’d stay out of trouble. Maybe.

    Keeping one ear cocked toward the bedroom in case Vae began rummaging where she shouldn’t, Cassidy slumped in the corner of the sofa, feeling frustrated and wrung out.

    Sometimes when Gray kissed her, she knew she was being kissed—and held—by a grown man. But other times, she felt like she was kissing a fifteen-year-old boy who was fumbling through his first exploration of a female body. And in some ways she was. But she wasn’t fifteen anymore, and those times when he seemed more boy than man made her uncomfortable.

    And yet she couldn’t back away from the intimacy or end the relationship altogether, because her heart recognized something in Gray that she had never felt with or for any other man.

    *Cassie?*

    Maybe it was for the best that Lucivar had set such firm boundaries around what Gray could—and couldn’t—do in terms of sex. Physically she was ready—more than ready—for more. Emotionally . . .

    *Cassie!*

    “What?” She felt frustrated and snappish, and her voice proclaimed her mood.

    *I found the smells.*

    “What smells?”

    *The smells that match the key.*

    Cassidy tangled her legs and almost fell off the sofa in her haste to get to the bedroom.

    She didn’t see anything messed up or displaced. She also didn’t see a Sceltie.

    “Vae?”

    *Here! The smells are here!*

    “Where?”

    The tip of Vae’s tail suddenly stuck out from under her bed, wagged at her, then disappeared again.

    Cassidy hurried to the bed, dropped to the floor, and lifted the bedcovers. “Get out of there before you get stuck.”

    *Won’t get stuck,* Vae said. *Smells are here.*

    Under the bed. The treasure had been hidden for centuries. Wouldn’t someone have looked under the bed?

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire