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  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(18) by Anne Bishop
  • For now. But she was going to have a chat with Jaenelle and find out how bad things really were with Rainier.

    “So were you just out wandering today?” Surreal asked.

    “Actually I stopped by to bring you this.” Rainier called in a wrapped package and handed it to her.

    She narrowed her eyes at him. “You finished your shopping?”

    “Yes.”

    “And you’ve got all the damn presents wrapped? Hell’s fire. If I don’t have more luck finding things to buy—and how do you buy things for a family like mine?—I may be wrapping the presents moments before I hand them out.”

    His smile was brittle. “I’m usually run off my feet just before Winsol and don’t have time to shop. There’s a traditional court dance that’s only performed during Winsol. There’s always a group of people who want to brush up on the steps—and there are the young men each year who figure out that males who know that dance get a lot more attention at the parties, and they want lessons.”

    “You’ll teach them again next year.”

    The brittle smile turned bitter, and he said nothing.

    “So you’re delivering packages early because . . . ?”

    “I’m going to spend Winsol with my family.”

    “Why?”

    A pained laugh. “Because they felt obliged to ask me, and this year I didn’t have the excuse of being too busy to come until the last days of Winsol.”

    “You can still be too busy. I’ll get some paper. We’ll make a list.”

    “Surreal.”

    I don’t know how to fix this, Surreal thought, hurting for him. Does anyone know how to fix this pain that’s killing the heart of who and what he is?

    “Well,” Rainier said, getting to his feet. “I’d best be on my way. I have some things to do before I head to Dharo.”

    She met him at the sitting room door and hugged him.

    “Happy Winsol, Surreal,” he said, his voice husky.

    “Happy Winsol, Rainier,” she replied, wishing she could say something more.

    SIX

    The day before Winsol began, Daemon walked into a sitting room in the family wing of the Hall and stopped abruptly.

    “Mother Night,” he said. “Where did you find such a magnificent—and perfect—evergreen tree?”

    Jaenelle grinned at him. “It did turn out well, didn’t it?”

    It dazzled his eyes and tugged at his heart. Little balls of color shone among the branches, which looked like they had been given a light dusting of gold on the tips of the evergreen needles. Crystal icicles hung from the branches. And the smell . . .

    Daemon frowned and walked toward the tree, baffled. The evergreen scent should be filling the room.

    He touched a branch. His fingers went right through it.

    “If it fooled you, it will fool anyone,” Jaenelle said.

    “It’s an illusion?” He tried to touch another branch, unwilling to believe.

    “Yes. I made it. Marian and I decided to limit the number of trees that the family would cut down for Winsol.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire