The soothing tone he was putting into his voice only infuriated her. "He farts," she snapped, then waved her hand dismissively. "Well, so do the rest of you."

Someone made a choking sound. Shethought it was Daemon.

"Do you resent his being there because he's a wolf or because he's interfering with another kind of male warming your bed?" Lucivar asked.

Maybe it hadn't been meant as a slur that she used to be a whore, but she took it as such because then she could vent her temper on him. "Well, sugar, from where I'm standing, there's not much to choose between you. He takes up more than his share of the bed, he snores, and he gives slobbery kisses. But if I had to choose, I'd pick him. At leasthe can lick hisown balls!"

A glass hit the desk with an ominousthunk.

Surreal closed her eyes and bit her lip.

Shit. She'd been so focused on being mad at Lucivar, she'd forgotten about the High Lord.

Before she could turn, Saetan had a firm grip on her arm and was pulling her toward the door.

"If you don't want Graysfang in your room at night, tell him," Saetan said, sounding like he had something stuck in his throat. "If he persists Well, Lady, he wears a Purple Dusk Jewel and you wear a Gray. A shield around your room should take care of the problem."

"Idid shield the room," Surreal protested. "And I still woke up and found him there. He sounded pleased that I'd shielded the room against the 'strange males,' but when he realized he couldn't get in, he had somebody named Kaelas help him through the shield."

Saetan's hand froze over the doorknob. He straightened up slowly. "Kaelas helped him through the shield," he said, spacing out the words.

She nodded cautiously.

Saetan swiftly opened the door. "In that case, Lady, I strongly suggest you and Graysfang get this settled between you."

The next thing she knew, she was standing in the great hall, staring at a firmly closed door.

"You said you'd help," she muttered. "You said I could come to you if I needed anything."

When the door opened again, she half-expected the High Lord to call her back. Instead, Daemon and Lucivar got shoved into the hall and the door was slammed shut behind them.

They stared at the door for a moment, then looked at her.

"Congratulations," Lucivar said. "You've been here a little over twenty-four hours and you've already gotten tossed out of his study. Even I was here three days before he tossed me out the first time."

"Why don't you go sit on a spear," Surreal growled.

Lucivar shook his head and tsked. Daemon seemed to be straining a lot of muscles to keep from laughing.

"So why did he toss the two of you out?" Surreal asked.

"For privacy. You'll notice there are very strong shields around that room now, including an aural one." Lucivar looked at the closed study door. "Having witnessed this behavior a number of times, the males in the First Circle have come to the conclusion that he's either sitting there laughing himself silly or he's indulging in a fit of hysterics, and either way, he doesn't want us to know."

"Hesaid he would help me," Surreal snarled.

Lucivar's eyes were bright with laughter. "I'm sure he'd intended to explain a few things to Graysfang—right up until you mentioned Kaelas."

"That name keeps coming up," Daemon said. "Just who is Kaelas?"

Lucivar eyed Daemon thoughtfully, then directed the answer to Surreal. "Kaelas is an Arcerian Warlord Prince who wears a Red Jewel. But because of some quirk in his talent or his training, he can get through any kind of shield—including a Black."

"Mother Night," Daemon muttered.

"He's also eight hundred pounds of feline muscle and temper." Lucivar smiled grimly. "We all try not to upset Kaelas."

"Shit," Surreal said weakly.

"Come on," Lucivar said. "We'll escort you to your room."

Walking between two strong males suddenly sounded like a good idea.

After a couple of minutes. Surreal said, "At least, being that big, he'll be easy enough to spot."

Lucivar hesitated. "The Arcerian Blood always use sight shields when they hunt. It makes them very effective predators."

"Oh." Being friends with a wolf was sounding better and better by the minute.

When they reached her room, she said good night and went inside.

Graysfang was standing exactly where she'd left him. Well, shehad told him to "Stay right there," and he had taken her at her word.

Looking at the sadness in those brown eyes, she sighed.

Puppy love. It was a term whores used to describe clumsy, eager young males during their first few weeks of sexual experience. For a short time, they would try to please so they wouldn't be refused the bed. But after the novelty wore off, they would address those same women with a hardness in their eyes and a sneer in their voices.

"Tomorrow we're going to have to come to an agreement about a few things," Surreal told Graysfang.

His tail wenttock-tock, just once.

Giving in, she climbed into bed and patted the covers beside her. He jumped up on the bed and lay down, watching her cautiously. She ruffled his fur, turned off the light, and found herself smiling. She had ended up in a place where, when someone spoke of puppy love, they were talking about a real puppy.

12 / Kaeleer

Too edgy to sleep and too restless to find distraction in a book, Daemon wandered through the dimly lit corridors of the Hall.

You're running,he thought, bitterly aware of the doubts and fears that had come swarming up when he had neared his suite of rooms—and had sensed Jaenelle's presence in the adjoining suite.

For most of his 1,700 years, he had believed, without question, that he'd been born to be Witch's lover. Thirteen years ago, faced with a twelve-year-old girl, that conviction hadn't been shaken. His heart had been committed; it was just the physical union that would have been delayed a few more years. But a brutal rape and the years he'd been lost in madness separated them now, and he wasn't sure he could stand to face her and see only a sense of obligation or, worse, pity in her eyes.

He needed to find a place that would help him regain his balance.

Daemon paused, then smiled reluctantly as he realized that he hadn't been running so much as searching. Somewhere on the grounds of the estate, there would be a place dedicated to performing the Blood's formal rituals for the sacred days in each season, but he doubted Saetan would build a home that didn't also contain a place for informal, private meditations.

He closed his eyes and opened his inner senses. A moment later, he was moving again, heading back toward the part of the Hall that contained the family living quarters.

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