"I will deal with this, Lucivar."

A father's command. Besides, Lucivar knew with chilling certainty how he'd respond if Luthvian used her particular kind of Craft to harm Marian in any way, and knowing she had already tried to poison with words what he was trying to build… It was better if he stayed away from his mother for a while.

When they walked out the side door of the eyrie into the garden, Jaenelle gave them a slashing look.

*I shielded her,* Jaenelle told them. *Having your tempers wash over her would have spoiled her pleasure, so if it's not already settled, pick another time and place for it.*

*It's settled,* Saetan replied.

Lucivar nodded.

Turning back to Marian, Jaenelle smiled. "Papa and I have to go now. I'll send over those cuttings in a day or two. You've got enough to plant right now."

"Oh," Marian said. "I'm sorry. I didn't even think. Would you like something to eat before you go?"

"No, thank you," Saetan replied, giving Marian a warm smile.

Not sure how annoyed Jaenelle was with him for letting his temper slip, Lucivar breathed a sigh of relief when she kissed him before accepting Saetan's arm and walking back to the landing place where the Coach waited for them.

Which left him alone with Marian, who gave him a shy smile. He would have taken a kiss from her, too, but suggesting it, even teasingly, would upset her, so he settled for the smile.

"Thank you," she said. "It's wonderful. Better than I imagined it could be."

"You're pleased with it, then?"

"Oh, yes."

He nodded. "It'll look even better when you've got everything in place."

He'd meant it as a compliment, so he didn't know what to think when her eyes widened and she began to look distressed.

"Oh," she said. "The furniture."

"It's fine."

"I know the work in the eyrie comes first, so I won't…"

She stopped when he raised his hand.

They were going to learn to compromise. She might as well start learning now.

"There's a lot of plants here," he said, nodding toward the dozens of clay pots that clogged several of the paths around the beds. "Since they're living things, you have to deal with them first. So we're going to compromise."

She studied him warily. "Compromise."

"Yeah." His mood lightened. He was going to piss her off, and she was just going to have to deal with it. "If you want to stay in the garden from sunrise to sundown until everything is planted, that's fine with me…as long as you promise not to lift one piece of furniture, using Craft or otherwise."

"But the furniture needs to be arranged and…"

"And I'll do the moving, the lifting, whatever it takes to put the pieces where you want them.You try to go around me and do it yourself, you're going to spend a day in bed resting, no matter what else you think you have to do."

He watched her hands curl into fists.

"You call that a compromise?" Her voice almost rose to a shout.

He pretended to consider, then sighed. "All right. You can move the lamps."

"The lamps."

It took effort, but he managed not to grin. If he'd done this to Jaenelle, she'd be hissing and spitting at him right about now. Obviously, it would take a little more effort to get Marian to the hissing and spitting stage.

"Your sister wouldn't have to compromise."

Now he did grin. "Yes, she would."

That threw her off enough to lose the glint of temper. "But… she's the Queen."

"She's also a smart woman who recognizes a losing battle when she sees one."

He watched her think it through. If Jaenelle couldn't butt heads with him over something like this and win, she didn't have a chance of winning, either.

"Why don't I heat up something to eat?" he said.

"I can…"

"Compromise."

She frowned at him.

"I'll heat up something to eat, and you can check the tools in the shed to make sure you have everything you need."

Her eyes lit up as she spun around to look at the shed the men had built between two of the border beds. She hesitated a moment, then looked back at him. "We'll compromise."

The happiness that flowed from her as she hurried down the path to the shed made his heart stumble. He wanted this. He wanted her. He wasn't going to think about anything else for the next day or two, giving himself the pleasure of working with her to build a home for both of them, even if she didn't realize it yet.

And he would let his father deal with the obstacle standing in his way.

TWELVE

Saetan watched the students hurry out the front door of Luthvian's three-story stone house. They didn't notice him standing just beyond the low wall that enclosed her land. The shields he'd wrapped around himself guaranteedno one would sense him until he wanted his presence known. So he had time to study the house he'd had built for Lucivar's mother, had time to tighten the chains that held his temper under control.

The anger that shimmered through him was a sly thing that had twined around memories he'd pushed aside so long ago he'd felt only the echo of them as he'd watched Marian over the past two days. But the echo had been enough to prick at him, warning him that something wasn't right…that something might happen again that had happened before. When he finally recognized what it was about a quiet, gentle hearth witch that made him edgy…

He watched his younger son pace the study, a storm waiting to break.

"Peyton… what's wrong?"

It wasn't hatred in the young Warlord Prince's eyes. Not quite. But what he saw twisted a knot in his belly.

"I asked Shim to marry me," Peyton snarled.

Where was the joy that should have accompanied those words? Peyton was in love with the Dharo witch, and her feelings for Peyton ran just as deep. He'd been

sure of that during the times when Peyton had brought Shira to the Hall to spend time with the family. His son wasn't a fool. Peyton understood that marrying a witch who didn't come from one of the three long-lived races meant their union would be a lifetime for her and, for him, a few decades in a life that would span centuries. But everything has a price, and loving deeply for a few decades was better than yearning for that kind of love and never having it be part of your life. Wasn't it?

"You asked her to marry you," he said cautiously, wondering what had gone wrong, because it was clear something had gone wrong.

"You don't need to worry about me diluting the SaDiablo bloodline with an inferior woman, Father. She's decided we won't suit."

Anne Bishop Books | Science Fiction Books | The Black Jewels Series Books
Source: www.StudyNovels.com