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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(35) by Anne Bishop
  • Vae stopped walking and looked at him. *It is their right to defend.* She turned her head and sniffed the air. *There is food.*

    I guess one of us wants to eat.

    Whatever the usual rule about animals being inside a dining house, the young witch who greeted them took one look at Vae, tipped her head as if in private conversation, then settled them at a table next to the windows.

    He had a bowl of soup. Vae had a small plate of raw stew meat.

    He ate slowly, watching, thinking.

    The males considered it their right to defend, not their duty. So different from what he came from, what he knew.

    Could his people do it? Could the males who would have to form the First Circle be able to make the transition from duty to desire?

    He had no answers, so he watched and he thought—and he wondered.

    Daemon buttoned the last button of his white silk shirt as Saetan walked into the bedroom.

    “How do you feel?” Saetan asked.

    “Better. Embarrassed.” Daemon tucked the shirt into his trousers and gave more thought to the question. “Hungry.” He’d slept for a few hours and didn’t feel as shaky as he’d felt early that morning. But he still had to face that room, and that was better done on an empty stomach.

    “Then I’ll join you before I retire for the afternoon.” Saetan opened the door.

    Slipping into his black jacket, Daemon stepped into the corridor and stared at the door to the Consort’s bedroom.

    Saetan crossed the corridor, opened the door, and stepped into the room. Daemon hesitated, almost hoping for a command to stay out. When it didn’t come, he followed his father into the room and looked toward the left wall that held the doors leading to the bathroom and closet.

    It smelled clean, like it did when Helene gave the room its seasonal scrubbing. Almost too clean, he thought as he noticed the lack of psychic scent. A hint of his presence was still there under the scents of soap and polish, but less than usual. Less than a cleaning would account for.

    “Well?” Saetan asked quietly.

    Better this way. That lack of presence was better.

    The room was safe again. Chaste again. And he wouldn’t . . .

    He looked at the bed.

    Mine!

    “Daemon, back away from whatever you’re thinking. Daemon.”

    The whiplash command and the power behind it was barely enough, but he leashed the desire—and felt disgust rising in its place.

    He forced himself to say the words, to admit what he wanted to deny with all his heart. “The Sadist was in that bed with her last night.”

    “Yes, he was,” Saetan said quietly. “And I imagine he enjoyed being there.”

    He studied his father, not sure how to interpret the words.

    Saetan sighed and rubbed two fingers across his forehead as if trying to ease an ache. “It’s unfortunate that this happened last night when you were churned up with memories of Terreille, but, Daemon, it would have happened. Because of who you are. Because of who Jaenelle is. This would have happened.”

    “No.”

    “Yes. You’ve twisted a part of yourself into a powerful weapon, honed it to the point people have given it a different name. You’ve given it a different name. But it’s part of your nature, Daemon. It’s part of your caste. It’s in every one of us.”

    “What is?”

    “There’s no name for it. It’s not like the rut, which is a kind of physical insanity that can be recognized by anyone who knows what to look for. This is emotional—and it’s darker, more dangerous when it happens. It’s the thrill of being feared while you seduce your lover to the point where she doesn’t want to refuse. And at the same time it’s the comfort of being able to reveal that side of your nature to a lover and know you’re still trusted.” Saetan lowered his hand and stared at the bed. “It’s a potential for violence that is transformed into a kind of ruthless gentleness.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire