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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(133) by Anne Bishop
  • “Mrs. Beale is making coffee and will have a plate ready for you. Just a little something until she can make you a proper breakfast.”

    “Thank you. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

    Beale hesitated, and Daemon noticed a curious kind of tension in the other man.

    “Something else?” Daemon asked.

    “You’ll be going to that Province to talk to the Queen?”

    The thought of going back to that damn Province and being a guest of Rhea’s again made his chest muscles tighten so much it was hard to breathe. “Probably.”

    “One of the SaDiablo estates is in the neighboring Province, almost at the border of the two,” Beale said, sounding as if he was feeling his way over very shaky ground. “It’s a short distance to travel when a person is riding one of the darker Winds. I could send a messenger and let the staff there know you’ll be staying for a day or two.”

    He hadn’t thought that far ahead, but now that Beale mentioned the ease of staying somewhere else, he realized it would be some time before he viewed any Queen’s residence as anything but a potential battleground.

    Which was exactly how he had viewed the Queens’ courts when he was a pleasure slave in Terreille.

    “Thank you, Beale.”

    Why had Beale mentioned it?

    Look at his eyes, old son. When he did, Daemon felt the ground shift under him just a little.

    “It is not always a pleasure to work in an aristo house,” Beale said. “Even among the Blood, sometimes the employer forgets that the servant is also a person.”

    What are you driving at, Beale?

    “The High Lord was an excellent employer. No man who worked on any of his estates or in any of his houses needed to fear that he would be cornered into doing something that would smear his reputation, perhaps irreparably. No woman needed to fear the males around her during the days when she was vulnerable. The High Lord took care of his own. Always.” Beale paused. “And so do you. The small courtesies have not gone unnoticed by those who work for you, and the feeling of safety is still here.”

    “I appreciate you telling me.” But they hadn’t gotten to the point of this conversation.

    “You take care of your own, Prince.” Beale tapped a finger against his own chest. “So do we. Which is why, when you need to visit the Provinces from now on, the nearest residence that belongs to the SaDiablo family will be ready to accommodate you.”

    “The residences are always ready. . . .” No, Daemon realized. It wasn’t about the houses. It was about him. It was about staying in a place where he wouldn’t have to be on guard all the time. It was about having servants around him that he could trust.

    It was about other people—one Lady in particular—being safe around him because he felt safe.

    “I should give you a raise,” Daemon said, not sure if he felt grateful or embarrassed.

    “You already pay me quite well,” Beale said with a little smile as he left the room.

    A few minutes later, dressed in trousers and a dressing gown, Daemon was down in his study listening to the barely coherent report of a murder. When he left the study, he found Jaenelle waiting for him in the great hall, with Beale and the footman Holt in watchful attendance.

    “Have one of the Coaches brought round to the landing web,” Daemon told Beale.

    “I’ll do that,” Holt said, looking at Beale.

    Beale nodded. “I’ll ask Mrs. Beale to prepare something you can eat on the way.”

    When the two men headed for their assigned tasks, Daemon led Jaenelle into the informal receiving room.

    “Problem?” Jaenelle asked.

    “The bitch who tried to play with me has been murdered,” Daemon replied.

    “That didn’t take long,” she muttered.

    “Apparently it’s how she died that’s causing alarm. The host’s wife has also been injured, but I don’t have a clear idea of how or how badly. I have to go there.” He could keep his pride or he could ask for what he needed. “Come with me.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire