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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 132)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(132) by Anne Bishop
  • ONE

    In the dream, Daemon opened his eyes and knew three things: He was lying on a beach, he was naked, and he was dead.

    There was pain in his chest. Huge, terrible pain. It had dulled to an ache now, but the memory of that pain was reason enough to keep his eyes focused on the gray metal sky above him and not allow his fingers to explore the flesh around the ache.

    Shifting position, he climbed stiffly to his feet, careful to keep his eyes focused beyond his body. He wasn’t ready to see the damage, wasn’t ready to face the truth.

    Promise me.

    He spotted the tent, the loosely woven fabric billowing in the early-morning breeze. He’d seen that tent before, more than seventy years ago. It had held a treasure then, a promise, a dream. Now it held . . .

    When he reached the tent, he slipped inside. Nothing there except a washstand in one corner. A small towel and a full jug of water sat next to the basin. He poured water in the basin and washed his face. As he raised his head, he saw the edge of the framed mirror now floating above the washstand.

    Daemon closed his eyes and straightened up. Then he opened his eyes and looked in the mirror. Looked at the hole in his chest where his heart had been.

    How was a man supposed to survive a wound like that? How was he supposed to pretend it wasn’t there?

    Promise me.

    He tried to speak, but his throat closed, preventing him from saying the words. Protecting him for a little while longer. Because once he said the words ...

    Daemon opened his eyes. Early morning from the look of the sky. Groaning, he sat up, scrubbed his fingers through his hair, and looked around.

    Brandy bottles were lined up on the wooden seat nearby, except for the last one, which lay on the damp ground next to him, almost empty. That explained why his shirtsleeve was wet and smelled. Just as the number of empty bottles on the wooden seat explained how he’d ended up sleeping outside—again.

    Outside, he thought as he climbed to his feet, but still within the Hall. The sunken garden, that place of peace and power that his father had made for private meditations, was protected by the imposing structure Saetan had built as the SaDiablo family seat.

    He found no peace in this garden—at least, not while he was sober—but he ended up here on the nights when his sleep was haunted by dreams, or on the nights when he couldn’t sleep at all.

    Raised flower beds bordered all four sides except where the stone steps led down into the garden. A raised stone slab and the wooden seat were positioned between the two statues that dominated the space.

    As he brushed at his clothes, Daemon kept his eyes fixed on the grass. He couldn’t look at the female statue, couldn’t look at that face. Not today. So he turned to the other statue, as he’d often done over the past year. The crouched male that was a blend of human and animal. A feline head supported by massive shoulders. Teeth bared in a snarl. One paw/ hand braced on the ground near the body of a small, sleeping woman while the other was raised above her, its claws unsheathed. Glittering, green stone eyes stared at him.

    Honor, cherish, and protect. It was the male’s duty, and his privilege, to honor, cherish, and protect. To serve.

    He had one last duty to perform for the woman who had been his Queen—and his wife.

    Vanishing the brandy bottles, Daemon left the sunken garden and returned to his suite. The conspicuous absence of servants in the corridors meant Beale had known where he was and had made sure no one would see him before he chose to be seen.

    When he reached his suite, he turned the physical lock on the door. That simple request for privacy wouldn’t alarm anyone, even today.

    A fresh set of clothes was laid out for him—his typical black jacket and trousers and a white silk shirt.

    He stripped out of his clothes and left them on the clothes stand for Jazen to deal with. Naked, he stepped in front of the dresser and looked in the mirror. No torn flesh. No gaping hole in his chest. He saw the visual evidence of his pain only when dreaming.

    Promise me.

    Tears filled his eyes as he looked at his gold wedding ring. His right hand trembled. His left hand closed into a fist so tight his nails broke the skin in his palm. Protective. Resisting the need to obey that last command just a little while longer.

    A year to grieve, because your heart won’t ever let go if I ask for less. So take your year to grieve, and when that year is over, promise me you’ll take up your life again. Promise me, Daemon.

    They’d had seventy years together. Seventy rich and wonderful years. Jaenelle had been healthy and vibrant right up to the afternoon when she had kissed him and gone to her room for her usual nap, leaving him in his study with a mound of paperwork.

    She lay down to take a nap—and never woke up.

    Dreams made flesh did not become demon-dead. She had slipped away from him without warning, without a chance to say a final good-bye—or hold on to her for a while longer. But a few months earlier, during a quiet evening of the last Winsol they’d shared, Jaenelle had asked for a promise that amounted to her last command.

    One year. She had been dead one year, and it was time to keep his promise.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire