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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(52) by Anne Bishop
  • “I’m the Queen who lives in this house now, so these are my gardens, right?”

    “Yes,” he said warily.

    “So these are my weeds. And since I’m the Queen, I can pull weeds if I want to. Right?”

    He wasn’t quick to agree. Well, he was a Warlord Prince. They were never quick to agree about anything. Unless it was their idea in the first place.

    Finally he said, “You’ll get dirty. It rained last night.”

    “I know it rained. Which means the soil will be softer, and the weeds will be easier to pull.”

    “But you’ll get dirty.” He frowned at the hem of her skirt, which had already picked up some moisture from brushing the top of the grass.

    “I can”—she looked toward the stone shed, saw him stiffen, and looked the other way—“change clothes behind those bushes while you get the wheelbarrow.”

    Not giving him time to argue, she hurried behind the bushes, vanished her good clothes, then called in the old shirt and trousers she usually wore for gardening. As she stuffed her legs into the trousers, she caught a heel of her shoe in the hem and hopped for a few steps, saying words her father pretended she didn’t know.

    “Should have used Craft, Cassie,” she muttered as she finally got the heel clear of the hem. “Pass the shoe through the cloth and you’re less likely to topple over and fall on your ass.”

    Once she got the trousers on, she buttoned up the long-sleeved shirt, and quickly braided her hair, using Craft to secure the end of the braid.

    “Good enough,” she muttered as she hurried back to the flower bed, returning at the same time Gray arrived with the rattling wheelbarrow.

    “These are a bit rusty, but I found a couple of short-handled claws that are good for loosening soil and digging out weeds,” he said. He hesitated, shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he kept glancing at her face and then looking away.

    Finally he said, “Your skin is very pale.”

    Cassidy wrinkled her nose. “Pale skin goes with the red hair.” Unlike her brother Clayton’s, her skin never changed to that soft gold color when she spent time in the sun. It just went from milk to cooked lobster.

    “Your eyes aren’t brown, but they aren’t green either.”

    “The color is called hazel. Doesn’t anyone have eyes like that here?”

    Gray shook his head. “Brown and blue mostly. Some green. None like yours. They’re pretty.”

    A little flutter of feminine pleasure. The only man who had thought anything about her was pretty was her father, and fathers never saw daughters in the same way as other men, so Poppi’s opinion didn’t really count.

    Which wasn’t something she would ever say to Poppi.

    Gray took a step back, as if he was leaving.

    “I know you have other work to do,” Cassidy said,“but could you stay a few minutes and point out some of the good plants?” She wanted him to stay. This place didn’t feel as lonely now that she’d met him.

    Another hesitation. “You want me to help?”

    “If you wouldn’t mind.”

    “No, I don’t mind.” He seemed to be mulling over a lot more than spending an hour weeding a flower bed. “You should wear a hat to protect your face.”

    “Oh, I . . .” He was right, of course. But somehow in the past few minutes he’d made some transition from scared younger boy to bossy older boy. Politely bossy, but she remembered a childhood afternoon visit with her cousin Aaron, which had been her first experience with being around a Warlord Prince of any age, and she still remembered that particular tone of bossiness that no one but a Warlord Prince could achieve.

    “Don’t you have a hat?”

    “Yes, I have a hat, but . . . You’ll laugh at my hat.”

    “I won’t laugh,” Gray said quickly, putting one hand over his heart. Then he thought for a moment and added, “I’ll try not to laugh.”

    Good enough.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire