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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Shadow Queen (Chapter 140)      Page
  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(140) by Anne Bishop
  • He took her head, Daemon thought. All he needed. What kind of pain did the High Lord extract along with these names in order to collect the full debt Vulchera owed the people she had harmed?

    “Words that were said cannot be unsaid,” Saetan whispered. “But sometimes hearts can forgive when a lie is revealed, and maybe, for some, the truth will let them hold what is most dear.”

    Daemon frowned at the list as he sorted through the layers of messages in those words. Marriages had been broken by Vulchera’s games. There weren’t many women who would forgive a husband’s betrayal of the marriage bed, especially when fidelity was one of the things a man offered as part of the marriage contract. But Jaenelle was sure Saetan’s slide into the Twisted Kingdom was about him and was personal. So if it wasn’t about the wives and broken marriages, it had to be about the children.

    Daemon pushed aside the chill of fear. He couldn’t afford to have Saetan pick up that particular psychic scent.

    Children. Dangerous ground where the High Lord of Hell was concerned.

    “You want me to contact the families of these men?” he asked.

    Saetan’s fingertips brushed the second sheet of paper. “Their lives were torn apart because of a lie. Because some bitch liked to play games.”

    The words started softly and ended in a savage snarl.

    Who are we talking about? Daemon wondered—and felt something shiver through him.

    The rage still filled the room, but something else was building under the rage. Something that could be the spark that would light the tinder and unleash the High Lord’s temper.

    “You don’t know what it’s like,” Saetan whispered. “You don’t know the agony a man can f-feel when he hears those three words: ‘Paternity is denied.’ ”

    The hoarseness in that deep voice. As if Saetan’s throat had been strained by the effort of keeping the rage in—or by screaming to get some of the rage out.

    Daemon had to choose. Had to commit to the fight. If Saetan lost control of that madness-driven rage, he had to strike without hesitation—because hesitating would, most likely, leave him open to an attack that would cripple him enough to take him out of the fight . . . and leave Lucivar standing alone on the killing field.

    “Father. Talk to me.”

    The silence held for almost too long.

    “When the burden of existing as demon-dead becomes too great, sometimes Hell’s citizens will seek out the High Lord and ask him to finish what was begun,” Saetan said. “So even though I wasn’t informed by any of the Dhemlan Queens, as I should have been, I heard the story anyway.”

    “What happened?” Daemon asked, watching Saetan’s eyes become lifeless and blank of everything but a memory.

    “By his own admission, the Warlord had flirted a few times with the idea of becoming another woman’s lover, but he hadn’t done anything that would force his wife into making a choice about their marriage. They had a son who had gone through the Birthright Ceremony and was irrevocably his by law. But they also had a little girl who hadn’t gone through the Ceremony yet.

    “Whatever trouble he had with the woman, he adored the little girl, and it was for her sake that he trod so carefully when it came to his marriage vows.

    “A few months before his daughter’s Birthright Ceremony, he went to visit a close friend for a few days—an annual house party he and his wife had gone to for several years. But his wife didn’t go with him that year because their boy was feeling poorly, so it was prudent to keep the children at home.”

    Daemon nodded, seeing where the next part of the story was going. “Vulchera was at the house party, playing her games. Did he take the bait?”

    “No. He came close to it because he and his wife were growing more and more unhappy with each other, but he walked out of the bedroom and went to find his friend. By the time they got back to the room, the bitch was gone.”

    “She denied being in his bedroom?” Daemon said.

    “Of course. But his friend’s wife told her to pack her things and leave, and that didn’t sit well with the Lady.”

    “She sent a shirt to the Warlord’s wife.”

    Saetan nodded. “With enough details about his body to make it clear she’d seen him undressed. The day before she’d set her trap, he’d gotten a soaking during some game the men were playing and had stripped off his wet shirt—which she had kindly offered to take into the laundry room, along with a few others.

    “The marriage broke. He’d played too close to that line too many times, and his wife had not been as unaware as he’d believed. As sometimes happens, he began to regret the loss of what he’d had—including the woman, who hadn’t seemed as exciting after she’d become familiar. And there was his daughter, his little girl, to consider.

    “So they tried to rebuild what had been broken. He wasn’t living with them, but he visited every evening, doing chores he’d previously resented, playing with his children. Talking to his wife and rediscovering the woman.

    “A month before his daughter’s Birthright Ceremony, he’d worked his way back to living at the family home half the time and had earned his way back into the marriage bed.”

    Daemon said nothing. Saetan’s eyes still held that blankness, but Daemon felt a terrible something building under the words. Building and building.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire