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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Shadow Queen (Chapter 48)      Page
  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(48) by Anne Bishop
  • Could be worse, Theran thought as he strode toward the previously unused wing of the mansion. At least Cassidy wasn’t a yapper as far as he could tell. And by the time he escorted Cassidy to the audience room, and the other Warlord Princes had spent that time with Vae, maybe they’d all find the new Queen a lot more palatable.

    Maybe eating breakfast hadn’t been such a good idea, Cassidy thought as she and Theran walked down to the audience room.

    He was ignoring Protocol by walking on her right to indicate his Jewels were dominant instead of walking on her left to indicate his power was in her service. He wasn’t offering his hand in the traditional escort position so that she could rest her hand on top of his. Maybe he thought it wasn’t necessary to follow those formalities until they were closer to the audience room, but the servants they had passed had noticed.

    Prince Theran was sending a message that would trickle through the court and through the Blood who worked in the mansion: the new Queen wasn’t worthy of courtesy or respect.

    He was setting her up to fail before she had a chance to try.

    He doesn’t belong to you. Jaenelle recognized that the moment she saw the two of you in a room together.

    But he was still Grayhaven. The Queen’s residence was his family’s home. The town was named after the Grayhaven estate. Theran’s opinion would matter far more than hers.

    Theran opened a door and said, “The stairs to the platform are to your left.”

    As she walked into the room and climbed the platform’s steps, she was aware of the silence that rippled from the front of the room to the back.

    During the hours she’d spent at the Keep yesterday, Jaenelle had looked through her clothes and made suggestions for outfits appropriate for various functions. At first, she’d felt a spike of resentment. She wasn’t a child who needed to be told what to wear. In fact, she was five years older than Jaenelle. Then she realized she was being given the confirmation of a Sister, a fellow Queen, that her choices were correct—and the reason for the exercise had been to give her that confirmation, since she wasn’t likely to find any where she was going.

    So she’d dressed with care for this first meeting, but she’d dressed for a working morning in a court—long skirt and matching jacket in a dark green that flattered her red hair and pale skin, along with a pale green shirt.

    As she looked at the men who had made the decision to give their people a Queen from another Realm, she felt their disappointment roll over her like a heavy wave. She didn’t dress like a Queen. She didn’t look like what they had imagined.

    Vae pushed her way to the platform, using shields to add heft to her small body to shove grown men out of her way.

    *These males are grumpy sheep,* Vae said on a distaff thread, female to female. She floated on air above the platform to have the best view of the room. *You should choose the ones that belong to you so the rest can go outside and run.*

    *I don’t think they want to run,* Cassidy replied.

    *I will chase them. They will run. They will be less grumpy when they are tired.*

    She doubted that the Warlord Princes would share Vae’s opinion about what they needed, but the Sceltie wouldn’t care about that. And she wouldn’t care that these men were bigger and some of them were more powerful. She had a job to do, and she would do it.

    And so do you, Cassie. So do you.

    “Good morning, gentlemen,” she said, using Craft to enhance her voice so that she could speak in a normal tone and still be heard at the back of the room. “I am Cassidy, from the Territory of Dharo in the Realm of Kaeleer. I’m here to help you restore Dena Nehele. I’m here to help your people.”

    Disappointment. Despair. Bitterness. She felt those things flow around her. More than other men,Warlord Princes needed a relationship with a Queen to keep them mentally and emotionally balanced. All that power and lethal temper craved a leash. That was one reason so many bad Queens had come into power in this Realm. Once the good Queens were destroyed, the Warlord Princes gave their allegiance to whatever Queens were available—and became corrupted in the process. Or they held out, held themselves back from the very thing they needed, and served an ideal instead of a woman.

    Not many men could do that—and she needed to remember that, in one way or another, all these men had done just that.

    Disappointment. Despair. Bitterness.

    And then a flare of hope.

    Wary. Almost angry. But still hope.

    She watched the Opal-Jeweled Warlord Prince nudge other men aside in order to stand before her and stare into her eyes.

    She couldn’t tell if his skin was browned by the sun or if he had that coloring in common with Theran. Dark brown hair and dark brown eyes.

    Mother Night.

    She held the leash for this angry, wary man, and he knew it. Something about her called to him, and he couldn’t turn away from her without paying a desperately high price.

    “Who do you consider Dena Nehele’s people?” the Warlord Prince asked.

    The effort he was making to keep his voice neutral told her how important her answer was to him.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire