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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(26) by Anne Bishop
  • “Really. I’ll even read you a story after I take care of a couple of things. Go on, now.”

    Daemon got to his feet, unable to hide how shaky he was physically and emotionally. He swallowed once, twice. Then he rushed to the bathroom and slammed the door shut.

    A moment later, aural shields went up around the bathroom to hide the sounds of Daemon being violently sick.

    Sighing, Saetan went across the hall and knocked on the door to Jaenelle’s sitting room.

    Fresh from a bath, she was bundled in a robe, her golden hair still damp. He saw no fear in the sapphire eyes that assessed him, but he did see worry.

    Using Craft, he floated a footstool over to her chair and sat down in front of her.

    “How is he?” Jaenelle asked.

    “First things first. Was this rape?” Am I going to have to execute my son?

    He saw the shock in her eyes, quickly followed by anger. “No.”

    “Are you saying that to protect him because he’s your husband?”

    “No.” Her voice was icy and knife-edged. “I’m saying that because it wasn’t. He gave me a choice, Saetan. He asked me to stay, but he told me I could go. I chose to stay.”

    Sick relief washed through Saetan. Daemon hadn’t remembered giving her a choice, and even though the word had remained unspoken, the fear that he’d crossed an unforgivable line had been in every word Daemon had said.

    “You need to see a Healer, witch-child.”

    “I am a Healer.”

    And a Black Widow and a Queen. One of the three witches in all of Kaeleer who had a triple gift.

    “Then I need an accurate list of your injuries.” Jaenelle was his adopted daughter; Daemon was his son. More than that, he had been her Steward. This wouldn’t be comfortable for either of them, but they were going to have this conversation. “Before you try to shrug this off because you’d rather not be frank with me, you should keep in mind that whatever broke in Daemon last night may stay broken unless it’s fixed in a hurry, and if it stays broken, your husband may not be able to do more than imagine making love to you again.”

    “Does he really know what happened last night?”

    Saetan frowned. “I had the impression he explained some of this to you.”

    “Yes, he did.” Jaenelle studied him for a moment, then pushed back the sleeves of her robe and held out her wrists.

    Ugly bruises. His own wrists ached in sympathy.

    “That’s the worst of it,” Jaenelle said, smoothing the sleeves back down. “There are a few other bruises from love bites, but considering where they’re located, I’m not going to show you.”

    On the basis of Daemon’s fears, he’d been prepared for something far more serious, and he found himself comforted by Jaenelle’s tone of amused snippiness.

    “I’m a bit sore, but that has to do with quantity, not his temper, and at any other time, he’d be smugly sympathetic about that,” Jaenelle continued. “And between the exercise I got with Nighthawk and Daemon, my thighs are sore enough that I’m not interested in riding anything for a couple of days.”

    Saetan gave in to the smile tugging his lips. “That’s it?”

    “That’s it.”

    His smile faded. Couldn’t be all of it. “He scared you. That’s the sticking point for him. He scared you.”

    “Yes, he did,” Jaenelle replied quietly. “He didn’t know who I was, Saetan. He didn’t know where he was. He was caught in some twisting memory, and when I realized that, I also realized that if he really tried to hurt me, I was going to have to hurt him, because he would be able to live with a physical injury much easier than he could live with the knowledge that he’d done more than give me a couple of unintentional bruises.”

    “Could you have hurt him?” Saetan asked. “Are you strong enough that you could have stopped him?”

    She folded her right hand into a loose fist. When she opened her hand . . .

    Her fingers no longer had human nails. These were cat claws, the kind that could do serious damage with even a glancing blow.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire