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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 37)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(37) by Anne Bishop
  • “Lucivar is downstairs now, waiting for a report?” Had the prick been sitting there a few minutes ago when she had contacted him?

    “Of course he is,” Jaenelle said.

    “Shit.” She wasn’t ready to deal with Lucivar. Not yet, anyway. Meeting him tonight to discuss The Tavern was one thing; meeting a bossy relative when he had nothing to do except keep an eye on her was quite another matter. “I’ll meet you downstairs after your chat with Lucivar.”

    “Smart plan,” Jaenelle said. “Now shoo.”

    A friendly dismissal was still a dismissal. Surreal scurried to her own room and looked around again. No clock. She called in a one-hour hourglass that she carried with her, turned it, and set it on the dresser. Meeting Jaenelle a few minutes late wouldn’t matter. Being a few minutes early and running into Lucivar . . .

    As a way to pass the time, she pulled out the stack of books and took a better look at them. Some she put aside, having no interest in them; others she set with the Tracker and Shadow books to read in the evenings. Maybe she would find a story in one of the collections to share with the rest of the family during one of the evenings when they gathered together for a story night.

    She looked at a story, read a few paragraphs, then glanced at the hourglass to see how much time was left before she could go downstairs and not run into Lucivar.

    And wondered when she had become a coward.

    Rainier hobbled around the room, putting the rest of his things away as he tried to ignore the pain in his leg—and the deeper pain in his heart.

    As a Healer, Jaenelle wasn’t pleased with him. As a friend, she was furious with him. And he didn’t want to think about how she would have responded if she’d still formally been his Queen.

    He didn’t want to talk about this. Not with Jaenelle, not with Daemon Sadi, and certainly not with Lucivar. He didn’t want pity. He’d had a bellyful of pity when he went to Dharo to visit his family. Worse than the pity was the unspoken hope he’d seen in too many of their eyes that a crippled leg would somehow diminish the nature of a Warlord Prince so they wouldn’t feel as uncomfortable being around him. He was less now. He had no future now. A dancer who couldn’t dance? He’d need to depend on his family and take whatever pity-work they could find for him to help pay his way, since, of course, he would have to return to Dharo and live with one of them.

    They didn’t understand the depth of their cruelty. He’d seen that too when he’d talked to them. They did love him in their own way, but they saw his being born into the caste of aggressive, violent, dominant males as a failing of the bloodlines instead of seeing him as strength. He wasn’t like them. Had never been like them. Had never fit into the family. Different tastes, different temperament—and a difference in caste that had made him an outsider even as a child.

    He didn’t know what to do. He was too damaged to go back to the life he’d known, but he wasn’t damaged enough for his family to feel safe in his presence. He’d never done anything to harm any of them, but they couldn’t quite hide their regret that his power hadn’t ended up as crippled as his leg.

    He loved them. He truly did.

    And he never wanted to see them again.

    Which left him wondering what a maimed Warlord Prince was supposed to do with the rest of his life.

    A hard rap on the door. Before he could respond, Lucivar walked into the room.

    How was he supposed to explain to an Eyrien warrior like Lucivar what his leg couldn’t do? He’d seen Lucivar on a practice field, and he’d seen him in a real fight. The Prince of Ebon Rih was another kind of dancer, and he was brilliant on a killing field.

    Right now, that fact scared the shit out of Rainier because, for the next few weeks, Lucivar controlled his life.

    “You need to understand a couple of things about your stay in Ebon Rih,” Lucivar said as he walked up to Rainier.

    Rainier saw Lucivar’s mouth curve into a lazy, arrogant smile. He never saw the fist that smashed into him so hard the blow knocked him off his feet and tossed him on the bed. While he lay there, struggling to breathe, Lucivar leaned over him and pressed a hand against his painfilled ribs, pinning him to the bed.

    “Listen up, boyo, because I will only say this once,” Lucivar said. “I don’t know what’s riding you, and I don’t care. From now on, you work it out some other way than damaging that leg. I know exactly the condition you’re in right now. I know exactly what you need to do to heal and bring that leg back to the best it can be. And that’s what you’re going to do. But if you need to be a cripple, I will help you be a cripple. I will shatter your other leg into so many pieces, even Jaenelle won’t be able to give you back more than the ability to hobble around with a pair of canes and spend most of your life in a chair. Do you understand me?”

    “Yes,” Rainier gasped.

    “Do you have any doubt that I will do what I say?”

    “No.”

    Lucivar eased back. “There are places an easy walk from The Tavern where you can get breakfast. Think of not dealing with the little beast first thing in the morning as a reward for sincere effort in the training. You start getting sloppy . . .”

    Lucivar using breakfast with his boy as a threat made Rainier curious about what really went on in the Yaslana household in the morning.

    Then again, Lucivar didn’t bother to bluff, so it probably was a real threat.

    “I’ll see you on the practice field tomorrow,” Lucivar said as he walked to the door. “Don’t be late.”

    A bitter anger filled Rainier. “You don’t know what it’s like.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire