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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(79) by Anne Bishop
  • “Protocol,” Gray said, nodding. “You have to set a good example.”

    Cassie rolled her eyes. “I know you’ve lived here all your life, but you sound like you’re from Kaeleer.”

    The words made him feel strange—and good. And stronger in a way he couldn’t describe.

    “I thought you could go with me,” Cassie said. “If you want to,” she added.

    “I want to.”

    Her smile when she was happy was bright enough to dazzle the sun.

    “Daylight’s wasting,” Cassie said. She set the seed pots aside and held up her hands. “Look. A double shield over the skin and then heavy gardening gloves.” Which she called in and slipped over her hands.

    “And your hat,” Gray said.

    She wrinkled her nose at him but obeyed and called in her hat.

    “Are you going to swear at me?” Gray asked.

    “I’m thinking about it.”

    He just grinned.

    *Cassie? Cassie!*

    Gray paused to watch the Sceltie’s dance of indecision. Vae clearly had an opinion about Cassie working in the garden—Hell’s fire, the dog had an opinion about everything—but she wasn’t sure if her “permission to nip” applied to the Queen.

    “She’s all right,” Gray told Vae, glad for the excuse to take a break. Not that he needed an excuse. Not with Cassie. But he didn’t want to admit about himself what he’d been so quick to point out to her—sometimes damage couldn’t be healed all the way if you weren’t careful during the healing.

    He didn’t want her to know. Wasn’t ready to tell her. Not yet. But he knew the warning signs and knew he needed to take some care or he’d be helpless and hurting.

    “Yes, I’m all right,” Cassie said. She stripped off her gloves and held up her hands so Vae could see them. “See? Nothing hurt.” Then she looked at Gray. “But the hands have had enough work for the day.”

    He shrugged and smiled. “Nothing more to plant anyway.”

    “Was that deliberate?”

    “Maybe.”

    She studied him for a moment as a thread of awareness grew between them. Then she looked at the Sceltie. “Did you come out for walkies?”

    *Theran said I am underfoot and should go outside for a while,* Vae replied.

    “Nipped him, didn’t you?” Cassie said.

    *Many times he will not listen until I nip him. But he is learning.*

    “I’ll bet he is.” Cassie vanished her gloves and got to her feet. “I want to take a look at the rest of the garden, get a feel for the whole thing.”

    “I’ll warn you now,” Gray said. “This is the best of it. At the far end, the ground is overrun with some kind of weed. Can’t dig it out. It just grows right back. Can’t even burn it out.”

    “I’ll take a look.” Cassie turned toward the house. “What about that dead tree? Why didn’t anyone take down what’s left of it?”

    “Can’t.” Gray rubbed his nose with the back of his hand. “That honey pear tree is a symbol of the Grayhaven line. That’s why the Queens let it stand. At least, that’s partly why.”

    “But it’s dead, Gray.”

    “Yes.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire