Striding through the corridors, Daemon slammed into his room, hurriedly showered and dressed. If he had encountered Philip during that brief walk to his room, he would have killed him.
How dare that Gray-Jeweled fool try to keep him away? Howdare he?
Daemon knew his eyes were glazed with fury, but he didn't care. He tore out of his room and went hunting for the family.
He spun around a corner and skidded to a halt.
Wilhelmina looked pale but relieved. Graff scowled. Leland and Alexandra stared at him, startled and tense. Philip's shoulders straightened in obvious challenge.
Daemon saw it all in an instant and ignored it. The other girl commanded his full attention.
She looked emaciated, her arms and legs little more than sticks. Her head hung down, and lank strands of gold hair hid most of her face.
"Have you forgotten your manners?" Graff's bony fingers poked the girl's shoulder.
The girl's head snapped up at Graff's sharp prod, and her eyes, thoseeyes, locked onto his for a brief moment before she lowered her gaze, made a wobbly curtsy, and murmured, "Prince."
Daemon's heart pounded and his mouth watered.
Knowing he was out of control, he bowed curtly and harshly replied, "Lady." He nodded to Philip and the others, turned on his heel, and once out of sight, bolted for the library and locked the door.
His breath came in ragged sobs, his hands shook, and may the Darkness help him, he was on fire.
No, he thought fiercely as he stormed around the room looking for some explanation, some kind of escape.NO! He was not like Kartane. He hadnever hungered for a child's flesh. He wasnot like Kartane!
Collapsing against a bookcase, Daemon forced one shaking hand to slide to the mound between his trembling legs . . . and sobbed with relief to find those inches of flesh still flaccid . . . unlike the rest of him, which was seared by a fierce hunger.
Pushing away from the bookcase, Daemon went to the window and pressed his forehead against the cold glass.Think, damn you, think.
He closed his eyes and pictured the girl, piece by piece. As he concentrated on remembering her body, the fire eased. Until he remembered those sapphire eyes locking onto his.
Daemon laughed hysterically as tears rolled down his face.
He had accepted that Witch was a child, but he hadn't been prepared for his reaction when he finally saw her. He could take some comfort that he didn't want the child's body, but the hunger he felt for what lived inside that body scared him. The thought of being sent to another court where he couldn't see her at all scared him even more.
But it had been decades since he'd served in a court for more than a year. How was he going to keep this dance going until she was old enough to accept his surrender?
And how was he going to survive if he didn't stay?
Early the next morning Daemon staggered to the kitchen, his eyes hot and gritty from a sleepless night, his stomach aching from hunger. After leaving the library yesterday afternoon, he'd stayed in his room, unwilling to have dinner with the family and unwilling to meet anyone if he slipped down to the kitchen for something to eat.
As he reached the kitchen, the muffled giggles immediately stopped as two very different pairs of blue eyes watched him approach. Cook, looking happier than he'd ever seen her, gave him a warm greeting and told him the coffee was almost ready.
Moving cautiously, as though approaching something young and wild, Daemon sat down at one end of the kitchen table, on Jaenelle's left. With a pang of regret, he looked at the remains of a formidable breakfast and the one nut cake left on a plate.
There was an awkward moment of silence before Jaenelle leaned over and whispered something to Wilhelmina, Wilhelmina whispered something back, and the giggling started again.
Daemon reached for the nut cake, but, without looking, Jaenelle took it. She was just about to bite into it when Cook put the mug of coffee on the table and gasped.
"Now what's the Prince going to do for a breakfast, I ask you?" she demanded, but her eyes glowed with pride at the empty plates.
Jaenelle looked at the nut cake, reluctantly put it back on the plate, and edged the plate toward Daemon.
"It's all right," Daemon said mildly, looking directly at Cook. "I'm really not hungry."
Cook opened her mouth in astonishment, closed it again with a click of her teeth, and went back to her worktable, shaking her head.
He felt a warmth in his cheeks for telling so benign a white lie while those sapphire eyes studied him, so he concentrated on his coffee, avoiding her gaze.
Jaenelle broke the nut cake in half, handing him one half in a gesture that was no less a command for being unspoken, and began to eat the other half.
"You don't want to get yourself too stuffed during the day, you know," Cook said pleasantly as she puttered at her worktable. "We're having leg for dinner."
Daemon looked up, startled, as the nut cake Jaenelle was holding dropped to the table. He had never seen anyone go so deathly pale. Her eyes, enormous unblinking pools, stared straight ahead. Her throat worked convulsively.
Daemon pushed his chair back, ready to grab her and get her to the sink if she was going to be sick. "Don't you like lamb, Lady?" he asked softly.
She slowly turned her head toward him. He wanted to scream as his insides twisted at the pain and horror in her eyes. She blinked, fought for control. "L-lamb?"
Daemon gently closed one hand over hers. Her grip was painfully, surprisingly strong. Her eyes didn't waver from his, and he sensed that, with the physical link between them, he was completely vulnerable. There could be no dissembling, no white lies. "Lamb," he said reassuringly.
Jaenelle released his hand and looked away, and Daemon breathed a quiet sigh of relief.
Jaenelle turned to Wilhelmina. "Do you have time for a walk in the garden before you go to Graff?"
Wilhelmina's eyes flicked toward Daemon. "Yes. I take a walk most mornings."
Jaenelle was out of her chair, into her coat, and out the door before Wilhelmina got her chair pushed back.
"I'll be along in a minute," Daemon said quietly.
Wilhelmina slipped into her coat and hurried after her sister.
Cook shook her head. "I don't understand it. Miss Jaenelle has always liked lamb."
But you didn't say lamb, you said leg,Daemon thought as he shrugged into his topcoat. What other kind of leg would they serve in that hospital that would horrify a young girl so?
"Here." Cook handed him another mug of coffee and three apples. "At least this will get you started. Put the apples in your pocket—and mind you keep one for yourself."