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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(148) by Anne Bishop
  • A young whore, not that much older than he was, who was willing to show one of the “brave fighters” some pleasure. He and Gray had slipped away from their escort—something that would have earned them a few licks of a strap if they’d both come back that day—so that he could romp with the girl. But he’d wanted that damn box of sweets too, so Gray went alone to the bakery they visited every time they came to that village, even though sweets of that kind didn’t have much appeal for him.

    That too was known. Which was why the Queen’s guards who caught Gray coming out of the bakery were sure they’d captured Theran Grayhaven.

    Gray still screamed when he saw one of those pastries, which was another reason it had been so long since Theran had tasted one.

    None of which excused him from eating himself stupid this morning.

    Still, Cassidy wasn’t a torturous companion on a shopping trip. He’d caught a few wistful glances from her as they passed shops where, given a choice of going in or being whipped, he’d take the whipping, but she hadn’t insisted on going inside.

    Sadi would walk into a shop like that, Theran thought as he waited for Cassidy to finish purchasing a few books. Hell’s fire, Sadi wouldn’t just walk into a shop like that; he’d dominate the place and have opinions about satin and lace and the advantages of each when worn against a woman’s privates.

    Would Gray walk into a shop like that?

    Cassidy turned away from the counter and studied him. “You look a little green.”

    Well, wasn’t that just fine?

    She shook her head. “I guess males don’t outgrow it.”

    “Outgrow what?” Glad to be out of the stuffy shop, Theran took a deep breath. Didn’t help. It was a fine summer morning, but it was starting to feel a bit too hot and sticky.

    But that might have been him and not the weather.

    “Put a man in a bakery and he turns into a boy.”

    “You’re starting to sound like Vae.” Who was home sulking because he wouldn’t let her come with them. The townsfolk had enough to contend with, having a Queen trying to act like she was one of them, without a yappy dog around telling everyone what to do.

    Cassidy bit her lip and shook her head.

    Damn. And the morning had been going well. For the most part.

    “It’s almost time for the midday meal,” Cassidy said.

    “I don’t think so.”

    “I want a steak, and you need one. Choose a dining house, Prince.”

    You turn Queen fast enough when you want something, Theran thought. But the idea of a steak—and just sitting still for a bit—had more appeal than he’d first thought, so he led them to a dining house that had an enclosed courtyard for private outdoor dining.

    The courtyard needed to be cleansed by a Black Widow. Blood had dined there—and done other things there.

    It was clear that the owners of the establishment had made an effort to scour away the past, so Cassidy said nothing to upset anyone. Such things were best done quietly anyway. And since they had been outlawed, finding a Black Widow might not be the easiest thing.

    Maybe Shira would know how to get in touch with other Black Widows.

    A task for another day, Cassidy thought. The food was excellent, and even though she was less comfortable than she might have been, she could see herself being a regular guest here.

    As forTheran . . . Well, the steak was waging war on the pastries, and judging by the color of his skin now, the steak was winning. So was the way a man who wore a Green Jewel burned food.

    She waited until he’d eaten three-quarters of his steak. Then she reached over and snagged the rest with her fork.

    “Hey,” Theran protested. “I wasn’t finished eating that.”

    “Yes, you were,” Cassidy replied, setting that piece and the one she’d kept from her own meal on her bread plate.

    “What . . . ?” Theran stared at her as she put the bread plate on the ground beside her.

    “There you go,Vae,” Cassidy said.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire