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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(97) by Anne Bishop
  • “Cassidy.”

    “I need some air!”

    She turned and headed for the nearest door that would take her out of the house. She almost made it, almost got the outside door open, when Ranon stormed into the room, moving with an intent that made it plain he had caught the scent and come after her.

    The glazed eyes. The power and savagery. Warlord Princes rising to the killing edge and honing their tempers to lethal intensity because of a blood scent.

    She knew she should direct that savagery, turn it into a fierce kind of service. She was a Queen, and dealing with a Warlord Prince when he rode the killing edge was part of her training.

    “Lady,” Ranon snarled, taking a step toward her.

    If she trusted him, trusted any of them, she could stand her ground and find a way to keep things from turning deadly. But she looked into Ranon’s eyes and realized he had taken advantage of those vulnerable days to kill witches he had hated, and right now, he was struggling not to see her as prey, not to see her as he’d seen most other Queens.

    One hundred Warlord Princes in Dena Nehele. For the first time, she understood what they must have done to survive, how much blood they must have spilled to keep the failing heart of their people from being destroyed completely.

    “I need some air,” Cassidy said, easing herself out the door. “Take care of your duties, Prince. I’ll join you shortly.”

    Did he sense the lie?

    Fool. You should have gone to the Keep last night when you suspected this would start.

    But she hadn’t been frightened last night. Not really frightened. She’d had a false confidence, based on her experience with the Warlord Princes in Jaenelle’s court. She’d never felt threatened by those men, even the most powerful among them. Hell’s fire, Lucivar didn’t waste time discussing anything with a witch during her moontime. He’d simply pick her up and haul her to wherever he wanted her to be, and that was the end of it. If she was lucky—and he was feeling generous in a snarly kind of way—the witch would have a choice of what she was going to eat and whether she had one blanket tucked around her or two.

    Despite his power and temper, despite what she’d heard he could do when he rode the killing edge, she had never had a moment when she’d thought Lucivar would hurt her.

    Her thoughts fled in every direction. She kept her head down and her eyes focused on the ground as she hurried without considering where she was going. When strong hands grabbed her upper arms, she let out a breathless shriek.

    “Cassie?” Gray asked. “What’s wrong?”

    “Gray,” she gasped. “Nothing’s wrong. I was just . . .”

    His nostrils flared. His eyes glazed. And a friend was replaced by a stranger whose hands tightened on her arms when she tried to step back.

    “You’re hurt,” Gray said, his voice roughened by a temper turned unpredictable. “You need the Healer.”

    He started to pull her toward the house. She dug her heels into the ground, resisting.

    “I don’t need a Healer, Gray. I’m not hurt.”

    “You’re bleeding. I can smell it.”

    Mother Night. “It’s moon’s blood, Gray. You know about moon’s blood. Don’t you?”

    Did he? Boys didn’t notice the smell of moon’s blood until they began to mature sexually. When she’d first met him, Gray’s psychic scent had said “boy” despite his physical maturity.

    “I know about it,” Gray finally said.

    There was just enough hesitation in his voice for her to wonder if she could believe him.

    “You shouldn’t be out here,” Gray said. “You should be inside. Someone should be looking after you.”

    Well, he knew that much.

    She thought of going back inside, thought of the look in Theran’s eyes—and Ranon’s eyes—and shuddered.

    “Too many people in the house.”

    “You mean too many males.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire