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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(72) by Anne Bishop
  • “I’ll wear my hat.”

    “You won’t pick up tools.”

    “I won’t pick up tools.”

    “You’ll—”

    “Gray.”

    “Are you going to swear at me?”

    “I’m thinking about it.”

    Gray grinned, nothing more than a boy again. Then he headed for the stables, where the men would have some food for him.

    Alone with her, Talon wondered how to ask the questions that needed asking.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been around a Queen. Maybe too long.

    “I heard there was some trouble today,” Talon said, looking at her hands. They were bandaged so thickly he wondered if she had any use of them.

    Cassidy shrugged and stared at the dug-up flower bed she could barely see.

    “Are your hands going to be all right?” Talon asked.

    “Yes,” Cassidy replied. “Shira says I didn’t do any permanent damage. I’ll just have to be careful for a while because they’ll be tender.”

    Talon nodded. “You want to tell me what happened?”

    “No.”

    He tapped a finger against his chest. “Master of the Guard, remember?”

    “It’s . . . personal.”

    Personal. Theran wasn’t stupid. He wouldn’t have gone up to her room last night without an invitation. Would he?

    “Did Theran . . . ?” He looked away. He didn’t want to say the words, but he couldn’t dismiss the depth of Yaslana’s fury—especially when that fury seemed mostly aimed at Theran. “Did he do something he shouldn’t have?”

    “No.”

    He heard the lie, but he couldn’t call her on it. Even as her Master of the Guard, he couldn’t call her on the lie. But he could—and would—talk to Shira and find out if Cassidy had any other injuries.

    He didn’t think Shira would tell him anything ugly—mostly because he was certain Yaslana wouldn’t have let Theran live if the harm the boy had done to Cassidy had been physical.

    “I heard Yaslana dumped a couple buckets of water on you,” Talon said. “Not exactly a courteous thing to do.”

    Cassidy looked at him, clearly surprised—and relieved—that he wasn’t demanding an explanation of what had ridden her so hard she hadn’t noticed the damage she was doing to herself. “Oh. Well. That’s Lucivar. He used to do that to everyone. When he was annoyed with his sister, he used to toss her into the pond, and she was the Queen he served.”

    “How did you get to know someone like Yaslana?”

    “My cousin Aaron served in the Dark Court’s First Circle, and Lucivar was the First Escort. Before the court formed officially, apprenticeships were offered to give some people an opportunity to work with darker-Jeweled witches and Warlord Princes and to study Protocol with the High Lord.”

    Talon’s jaw dropped. “You learned Protocol from the High Lord of Hell?”

    “Training in Protocol starts after a child’s Birthright Ceremony and continues all through schooling. The High Lord’s lessons were more about dealing with darker-Jeweled males and also the Protocols used when the living had contact with the demon-dead. And Jaenelle said trying to deal with Lucivar was an experience a Queen should have at least once.”

    So Sadi’s wife had been there too.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire