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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(90) by Anne Bishop
  • Jazen selected another white silk shirt and handed it to him. It didn’t look any different from the other one—except it fit him perfectly.

    “Servants are discreet,” Jazen said. “Especially personal servants. And while they won’t discuss things that go on in the household with anyone outside their house, they do talk among themselves. So I began to see a pattern with the laundry. Lady Angelline would borrow one of your shirts, and when it was laundered, it would be returned to her closet. But the second time she wore it, she would seem dissatisfied—and go browsing in your closet again. That’s when I realized the shirt itself wasn’t the attraction. The appeal was your scent—physical and psychic—that was absorbed by the material.

    “I also realized from the things the maids said that your shirts were a little too big to be comfortably big, and it was easy enough to learn that the High Lord’s shirts had been a better fit. So the last time I was in Amdarh to place an order for your shirts, I took the liberty of talking to Lord Aldric, and he made a couple of shirts that were just a little smaller than your measurements for shoulders and sleeves. I put a little bead on the hanger so that those shirts are easy to identify, and I position them so that Lady Angelline is more likely to choose one of them than any other.”

    “I see,” Daemon said. He hadn’t considered why Jaenelle chose to wear one of his shirts. The way she looked always aroused him, even when it was clear she had no interest in him doing anything with that arousal. “Do you know why she does that?”

    Jazen hesitated. “I wouldn’t presume to know what the Lady thinks.”

    “I asked, Jazen. I’m not going to hold your opinion against you.”

    Jazen hesitated a moment longer. “The servants at the Hall are very discreet,” he said again, emphasizing that point, “but they’ve told me a little about things that happened before the Lady came to live with the High Lord. So I would understand why she responds to some things the way she does.

    “I’m guessing that she first started wearing the High Lord’s shirts when she felt nervous or vulnerable because she needed the reminder that she was safe, that he would stand as her sword and shield. Later on, since Helene and the laundry maids didn’t remember Lady Angelline abandoning his shirts after a couple of washings and she only occasionally borrowed a different one, I think she was at an age when she simply liked wearing one of his shirts—and she enjoyed a small rebellion against a father who liked women to dress for dinner.”

    “So she arrived at the table well dressed but in a man’s shirt,” Daemon said—and wondered if Saetan had been amused or annoyed by that maneuver.

    He missed her so much he ached. Missed her so much the loneliness gnawed at his gut. He hadn’t been able to sleep last night because her absence was too much of a reminder of all the nights of misery when he’d thought she was dead.

    But this he had done to himself. He had sent her away to keep her safe from a potentially dangerous adversary.

    Him.

    But he had to go to the Keep. Had to be with her. And had to believe that Saetan would do whatever needed to be done if he crossed some line that shouldn’t be crossed.

    “So the High Lord’s scent represents safety,” Daemon said. “What does she get from me?”

    Jazen studied him for a long moment before saying quietly,“If I’ve understood correctly, you’re the only man Lady Angelline has ever welcomed as a lover. Considering her past, I would say, Prince, that your scent represents pleasure and love—and trust.”

    TERREILLE

    “You brainless, pigheaded ass.”

    Theran stopped at the edge of the terrace and faced Cassidy, choking on the words that razored his throat. He wanted to fight, wanted to spew out his own opinions and disappointments, but he didn’t dare. Not after Talon returned from an unexplained visit to the Keep and told him flat out that from now on, the Master of the Guard would back the Queen in any dispute, no questions asked.

    So no matter what Lady Cassidy did or said, if she complained about him, he would be in the wrong.

    The only good thing about Cassidy snapping at him this morning was the look on Gray’s face. Maybe his cousin would start to realize Cassidy wasn’t so wonderful after all.

    “No need to be pointing the way,” a rough voice said. “When her temper is on the boil, the girl sounds just like her mother.”

    Cassidy’s eyes widened with a strange kind of apprehension. “Poppi?” she said as she turned toward the terrace doors and looked at the burly stranger. “Poppi?”

    “Hello, Kitten.”

    The look on her face as she launched herself at the man, who hugged her hard enough to lift her off her feet.

    I’ve never seen her happy, Theran thought, feeling uncomfortable about that realization because he might be partly to blame.

    *Who is he?* Gray asked as he joined Theran on the edge of the terrace.

    The psychic communication startled Theran since Gray used it so rarely.

    *I don’t know,* Theran replied. *But he seems to know her well.*

    A flash of something from Gray, gone too fast to identify.

    The man set Cassidy down, then smiled broadly as he ran his hands down her arms. But his smile faded as he held her hands, his thumbs brushing her palms. Sadness clouded his face as he looked at her hands.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire