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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(37) by Anne Bishop
  • Two pairs of gold eyes fixed on Theran, and he was really hoping there was a house rule that guests were not executed at the dinner table.

    “But like you,” Jaenelle continued, “Theran will have to develop some flexibility and learn how to compromise.”

    “Is that what I did?” Saetan asked.

    “Yes, Papa, that’s what you did.”

    “I’m delighted to hear it.”

    She laughed, and Theran watched in a kind of wonder as the sound completely relaxed two violent and powerful men.

    Then those sapphire eyes looked into his. “There is a Queen who may be willing to come to Dena Nehele and show your people how a Territory is ruled when the Old Ways are followed. If she decides to accept the offer, she will be at the Keep seven days from now. The terms Prince Sadi has set for her being in Terreille are acceptable to her. You need to talk to your people to see if the terms are acceptable to them. If they are, you’ll meet us at the Keep, and she will return with you to Dena Nehele.”

    Theran’s heart sank. “There’s only one who might be willing? We’re talking about a whole Territory, not some village.”

    “I’m sure there are others, and you’re free to seek them if you choose. But you came here and asked for our help. This is our answer.”

    Your answer, Theran thought, knowing it was the only answer.

    “I’d like to get back to Dena Nehele as soon as possible,” he said. “There will be much to discuss before we make a decision.”

    “The Coach can take you back to the Keep this evening,” Saetan said.

    Theran nodded and said nothing more as the last course of the meal dragged on. As soon as he could, he left the table, offering the feeble excuse of needing to pack.

    One choice. One chance. Would this Queen have enough dazzle to convince bitter men to serve?

    One way or another, he’d have his answer in seven days.

    “If you’ll excuse me, I want to check the rest of the messages Beale has waiting for me,” Jaenelle said. “I never got past Sylvia’s note when I returned from Dharo.”

    “Probably because you were laughing so hard,” Daemon said.

    “True,” she said, brushing a hand over his shoulder. “No, don’t get up. You two enjoy your wine.”

    As soon as she walked out of the room, Daemon dismissed the footman who had served them at dinner.

    For a few minutes, the two men simply drank wine—he finishing up the bottle of red, while Saetan drank yarbarah, the blood wine.

    “You didn’t tell me Sylvia cut her hair,” Saetan said quietly.

    “I wasn’t sure you wanted to know about her personal life,” Daemon replied.

    “I don’t. Can’t. But . . . Is it that unattractive?”

    “Not at all. It’s sassy. It suits her.”

    “Then Grayhaven’s an ass.”

    Daemon shrugged. “What he wants for his people shouldn’t be dismissed. And it took balls to come here.”

    “Yes, it did.” Saetan swirled the yarbarah in the ravenglass goblet. “He doesn’t fit. His Jewels are dark enough and his personality is strong enough, but he doesn’t fit in with us.”

    “He looks into Jaenelle’s eyes and doesn’t see who she is,” Daemon said.

    Saetan nodded. “Yes. That was always the test when it came to accepting someone into the Dark Court, even for an apprenticeship. If the person couldn’t look into her eyes and know, he would rub the entire First Circle the wrong way and their tempers would start sharpening for an attack.”

    “Fortunately, Theran won’t have to deal often with anyone who served in the Dark Court.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire