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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(157) by Anne Bishop
  • “A loving man—and breakfast.”

    Her lips twitched, fighting a smile. “In that case, Prince, come in.”

    He was so glad to see her, he didn’t try to fight a smile. There were shadows under her eyes, testimony of a sleepless night, and her hair was sticking up every which way, making her look like a scruffy waif . . . who was wearing snug trousers and one of his silk shirts.

    Screw breakfast, he thought as he set the box on the table. I’ll just nibble on her for an hour or two.

    Then Jaenelle peered into the box and her stomach growled so loudly, he figured it was prudent to change his priorities.

    “Where did you get this?” Jaenelle asked.

    “I stopped at The Tavern after seeing Lucivar home. There’s a steak pie, a vegetable casserole, and some fruit.”

    “The Tavern isn’t usually open this early.”

    Daemon hesitated, then wondered why he bothered. She would have been aware of the mood of the Blood in Riada. “They were just closing when I got there.” Merry and Briggs had stayed open because so many had been sleepless and uneasy last night, and a gathering place offered comfort.

    He reached into the box for the steak pie. “The food needs to be warmed a bit.”

    Her hands settled over his, stopping him.

    “Daemon, why don’t you say what you need to say? The food will settle better on an easy stomach—and an easy heart.”

    He removed his hands from the box and slipped them into his trouser pockets. He wanted to hold her, but he chose to keep the table between them.

    “I am my father’s son,” he said.

    She tipped her head. “That shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, Prince. You’re more than his son. You are your father’s mirror.”

    “Yes, I am. But despite all the things I’ve done, that wasn’t as clear to me before as it was last night.”

    He took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. He and Lucivar had taken shifts, one standing watch while the other rested, and during one of those vigils, as he replayed that dance with Saetan, he’d acknowledged a difficult truth.

    “Last night I saw the man who had destroyed an entire race, and I understood something about myself. That kind of rage is in me, Jaenelle, in a way it’s not in Lucivar. I am capable of doing what Saetan did to Zuulaman, and unlike my father, I wouldn’t need to be drowning in grief or insane rage before I made that choice. Given the right provocation, I could do what he did.”

    “I know.”

    That stopped him, had him rocking back on his heels. When he’d first met her, those sapphire eyes had looked through him and she had made some decision about him, passed some judgment. Had she known then, at twelve, the depth of his temper, his potential for violence?

    Probably.

    “And yet you love me,” he said, “despite what I am.”

    Jaenelle walked around the table and took his face in her hands. “No, Daemon. I love you because of what you are. Because of all that you are. Right now, you’re feeling raw, which is understandable, and you’re shining a light on one truth about a complex man and not seeing the rest. So I’ll see the whole of who you are and not let you shine a light on one part for too long.”

    He wrapped his arms around her. “Do you know how much I love you? How much I need you?”

    Her arms twined around his neck. “Why don’t you show me—”

    His stomach growled.

    “—after breakfast?” she finished, laughing.

    They ate, they slept, they made love. When they were heating up the remainder of the food for a midday meal, Daemon said, “Your strategy was quite brilliant. In case you were wondering.”

    “Strategy?” Jaenelle said, setting two plates on the counter in anticipation of simply dividing the food.

    “Having Lucivar draw that particular line.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire