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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Shadow Queen (Chapter 16)      Page
  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(16) by Anne Bishop
  • Theran wondered why anyone would bring a horse into the great hall—and wondered why the animal had sounded so loud—but he didn’t get a chance to ask.

    “Have a seat,” Daemon said. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

    Grateful to be alone,Theran scrubbed his hands over his face. After the past few minutes, he needed a long walk or a cold shower—or both.

    As Daemon escorted Jaenelle into the great hall, he lightly touched the stallion’s mind. *I need to talk to the Lady before you go riding.*

    The stallion, wearing a hackamore and barely enough leather to be called a saddle, tossed his head, revealing the Gray Jewel that was usually hidden under his forelock.

    Nighthawk was kindred—the name given to the Blood who were not human. A different body and a different race, but a Warlord Prince was still a Warlord Prince, and those who had chosen Jaenelle as their Queen had learned to work together and share their Lady. In most ways.

    *Theran Grayhaven,* Daemon said on a psychic thread aimed exclusively at Jaenelle. *What do you think of him?*

    *Why does it matter?*

    *He’s come here to ask a favor. I can hear him out or show him the door.*

    When she looked at him, he saw who she was beneath the surface: Witch. The living myth. Dreams made flesh. The Queen, even though she no longer ruled.

    *I spun a tangled web this afternoon,* she said. *That’s why I want to go riding—to let my mind rest while I focus on something physical.* She paused. *He’s part of it, Daemon. So is his connection to Jared and Lia. Hopefully a good gallop will clear my head and help me understand the vision.*

    *Then I’ll hear him out and arrange to have him stay with us for the night.*

    Jaenelle nodded.

    *So,* Daemon said. *You’re riding Nighthawk this afternoon. Are you riding me tonight?*

    “Daemon!”

    The combination of shock and laughter in her voice told Beale, the footman Holt, and even the horse what they’d been talking about. The color blazing in her cheeks when she realized she’d said his name out loud in that tone of voice confirmed whatever assumptions the other males had.

    “I was just asking,” Daemon said, trying to sound meek instead of amused—or aroused.

    He glanced at Beale, whose mouth had curved in a tiny smile despite the otherwise stern expression.

    Mother Night, he was going to have to tell the butler not to arrange for an intimate dinner. Under the intimidating exterior, Beale was a romantic and wouldn’t hesitate to exile Theran to a guest room and a dinner provided on a tray so that Lady Angelline could have a private dinner with her lover, who was also her adoring husband. And since he liked the idea of a private dinner much better than entertaining a man who had angered his father, he had to nip that idea before it took root. At least for tonight.

    And apparently his thoughts had been a little too apparent, because Jaenelle was staring at him. Fortunately, she was still focused on his face.

    As she turned away, she pointed at Beale. “Our guest will be joining us for dinner. I will expect him at the table.”

    Beale flicked a look at Daemon, who shrugged. “Very well, Lady.”

    She strode past Nighthawk and right out the door.

    “Prince Nighthawk,” Holt called softly.

    Using Craft, the footman sailed a hat across the great hall. Nighthawk caught the brim of the hat with his teeth, bobbed his head, then turned and walked out the front door, which closed behind him.

    Daemon stared at the door. Mother Night, Jaenelle was going to be so pissed when Nighthawk planted his feet and refused to move until she put on the hat.

    “So,” he said. “Which one of you told the horse about the hat?”

    When neither Beale nor Holt answered him, he nodded. “Three out of three of us, then.”

    The Blood survived within a complex dance of power. There was caste, social rank, and Jewel rank, and an ever-changing pattern of who was dominant. Didn’t matter which measuring stick was used, he was the dominant male here at the Hall. In the whole damn Realm, for that matter. But there were times, like this, when it tickled him to know that all the males who lived at the Hall were equal in one way: they all served, and they were very good at assessing one another’s skills and letting the one most likely to succeed take the lead.

    Of course, Jaenelle didn’t always appreciate the fact that they worked together so well. Which also tickled him.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire