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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(21) by Anne Bishop
  • He looked at the woman who meant more to him than anything else, and thought, Mine.

    CHAPTER 5

    KAELEER

    Theran looked at the man who walked into the breakfast room and thought, Predator.

    Whatever mood was riding Daemon Sadi could have lethal repercussions for the rest of the males in this place. And judging by the way Beale held himself, as if a twitch at the wrong time could end with someone being gutted—or worse—the butler recognized the danger too. The difference between them was that Beale seemed to be offering something Sadi wanted, whereas he . . .

    He dared give that cold, beautiful face a quick study before fixing his eyes on his plate.

    In Dena Nehele, men had two ways to describe a man who had spent a vigorous night in bed: ridden hard or well used. A man who had been well used came to the breakfast table with a sated, lazy satisfaction. A man who had been ridden hard might have gotten some relief from the sex, but he was still edgy and looking for an excuse for a different kind of relief. And when a Warlord Prince went looking for that kind of relief, blood was spilled—and too many friends and families ended up grieving for the dead.

    Sadi pulled out a chair and sat down across from him. Within moments Beale poured a cup of coffee for the Prince and, without asking, fixed a plate of food for the man.

    “It will be ready in a few minutes,” Beale said quietly.

    Nodding, Sadi reached for the cup of black coffee.

    Undercurrents. Any man who lived in Terreille learned to recognize them. Even someone who had spent his life in the rogue camps.

    There was concern—and understanding—in Beale’s voice. The same concern Theran had heard in older men’s voices when they’d tried to offer support to a younger man who’d been twisted up by bedroom games. And there was a moment before Beale left the room when Theran thought the butler would actually lay a comforting hand on Sadi’s shoulder.

    He recognized all the signs and knew what they meant, but who in the name of Hell would be brave enough—or foolish enough—to twist up a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince?

    Sadi’s wife.

    That first exchange he’d witnessed between Lady Angelline and Sadi had left no doubt that Daemon’s attention became focused exclusively on her whenever she entered a room. He’d figured it was because they were still in their first year of marriage—a time when a man’s thoughts didn’t stray too far from the bed.

    Now he wondered. Who was Jaenelle Angelline? He’d heard of Sadi—who hadn’t heard stories about the Sadist?—but the Prince’s wife, the adopted daughter of the former Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, was a Queen who didn’t have a court and didn’t rule anywhere that he could tell, not even the little village just down the road from the Hall. She wore a Jewel so peculiar he’d never seen its like before. And everything about her outside of her life here at SaDiablo Hall was off-limits in terms of questions or conversation. Sadi had made that very clear when the three of them had dinner last night.

    The other thing that was becoming clear was that no matter how they appeared for the servants and guests, no matter how Sadi was presented as the dominant power in Dhemlan, when the bedroom door closed at night, she had a Warlord Prince by the balls and wasn’t afraid to squeeze.

    Which brought him to the unpalatable conclusion that he was going to have to negotiate with Lady Angelline instead of Prince Sadi.

    Then he looked up and realized those sleepy gold eyes were focused on him, had been focused on him all the time his thoughts had wandered—and he had the terrifying feeling that Sadi was analyzing him right down to the last drop of blood and the smallest sliver of bone.

    A sudden chill hung over the table, along with an unspoken warning: Keep your hands, and your thoughts, away from my wife.

    “Prince?”

    Thank the Darkness, Theran thought as Daemon turned his head to look at the butler standing in the doorway.

    Beale nodded once.

    Daemon pushed his chair back, hesitated a moment, then called in a sheet of paper and dropped it on the table.

    “Those are the terms for having a Kaeleer Queen go to Dena Nehele,” Daemon said. “You can look them over and give me your decision later.”

    Theran waited until Daemon was out of the room before letting out a shuddering sigh of relief.

    Maybe if he told the butler he was going to take a walk around the estate, he could catch the Winds and reach the Keep before anyone realized he was gone. Maybe he could persuade that Hayllian librarian to help him go through the Gate and get back to Terreille.

    Maybe you can throw away the one chance you’ll have of finding someone who might be able to help your people. If you run away now, you run away from everyone. Jared and Blaed wouldn’t have run. They would have been scared—Hell’s fire, they weren’t stupid—but they wouldn’t have run.

    And neither would he.

    Resigned to that much,Theran picked up the sheet of paper to look at the terms.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire