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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 129)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(129) by Anne Bishop
  • NINE

    Daemon picked up the first letter from the thick stack on his desk and swore softly. The swearing became more vigorous and creative as he worked his way through the stack. By the time Rainier walked into the study to go over the week’s assignments, Daemon was one wrong word away from exploding.

    “What in the name of Hell are these?” he roared, dropping the letters on the blackwood desk.

    Rainier winced. “Ah. I was hoping to get here before you saw those.”

    “And they are?”

    “Just what they seem—offers from District Queens all around Dhemlan to become the new Queen of Halaway. And the same offer from a few young Queens from other Territories.”

    “I know who rules in my Territory, Rainier. Some of these women rule towns or cities that are larger—and more profitable—than a small village, and others already rule a handful of villages. They’re going to give up that income to rule Halaway?”

    Rainier looked uncomfortable. “You read the letters? Of course you did.”

    “So I know that the letters addressed to the Province Queen, of which there are few, are sincere offers to add Halaway to the villages under the Ladies’ rule because every village needs to be held by someone. But most of these . . .”

    He stopped. Even after more than a decade of marriage, he still felt the raw fury of a vulnerable man whose reputation could be compromised. But that was his state of mind, and he had no right to whip Rainier with that fury.

    “Why did we get these at all?” he asked through gritted teeth. “Shouldn’t a committee from the village or the Province Queen sort through these and present me with a short list for final approval?”

    “Normally it would be done that way,” Rainier said. “But, Prince, your reaction to these letters—and they are only letters—is exactly why no one else is willing to make a choice. No one wants to be held responsible for whatever Queen ends up living on your doorstep—especially if she proves to be too friendly a neighbor.”

    Daemon took in a deep breath and blew it out.

    “If I were you, I would put those aside,” Rainier said. “When I spoke with Sylvia’s First Circle yesterday, they said they had been talking to a particular Lady about becoming Halaway’s Queen and were hopeful that she would accept. She’s supposed to give them her answer today.”

    “She’s one of these?” He pointed to the stack of letters.

    “I don’t know, but judging by how much care they were taking in what they said, they want this particular Queen.”

    “If they feel that strongly, I’ll certainly make an effort not to interfere, as long as the Lady doesn’t think ruling Halaway means having access to my bed,” Daemon said as the study door opened and Jaenelle walked in.

    “That might be a problem,” she said cheerfully. “Rainier, the Prince and I need to talk.”

    Rainier looked at her, then at Daemon, and limped out of the room as fast as he could, closing the door behind him.

    Jaenelle settled in the visitor’s chair and smiled at Daemon. “Sit down, Prince.”

    His stomach clenched, but he obeyed.

    “Sylvia’s First Circle asked me to take her place as the Queen of Halaway,” Jaenelle said. “This morning I accepted and signed a five-year contract.”

    Daemon’s jaw dropped. “But ... you don’t want to rule. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard you say that over the years.”

    She looked embarrassed. “Apparently, what I say and what I do are not the same things, and I’ve been the only one who hasn’t noticed that.”

    Oh, shit. Who was the fool who told her?

    “Ladvarian says that Scelties and Queens are meant to herd. It is our nature, and denying our nature is foolish. When I ruled Kaeleer, that was a heavy burden, even with all the other Queens to help me. And after I was hurt, it took me a long time to heal, and my becoming well was the most important thing. And I had a mate, and it was also important that I spend a lot of time with him and play. But now it’s time for me to work again, and officially ruling the small village right next to my home won’t be much different from what I already do. Or so says the Sceltie.”

    He couldn’t think of one thing he dared to say.

    “As much as I’d like to kick his furry ass for what he said, Ladvarian was right. It’s time for me to have my own flock again.”

    “A new court?” he asked.

    She shook her head. “Sylvia’s First Circle doesn’t belong to me in the truest sense, but they’re good men who are committed to Halaway, and we’ll work well together to take care of the village and its people.” She hesitated. “And they’re willing to accommodate the things Sylvia and I want for Mikal and Beron.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire