"It's all right. I've been drinking a contraceptive brew for a few weeks now." He'd never had to think about it when he'd lived inTerreille, never had to wonder if the bitches who had used him could get a child out of him. He'd known that he'd somehow made himself infertile in a way the witches who had wanted him for stud couldn't undo. Just as he'd known within a week of Marian's coming to live in his eyrie that he'd turned the key in that lock so that he could flood her with ripe seed. He wanted a child with her, but not without a bond, not without commitment.
"Why are you drinking a contraceptive brew?" Karla asked. Her eyes widened. "You have a lover, don't you?"
She moved fast, surprising him enough that he ended up on his back with her on top of him.
"Who is it?" Her mouth curved in a wicked smile. "It's the hearth witch, isn't it? The one you made the garden for."
Just the thought of Marian primed him. He shoved Karla off him and slipped out of bed while he still could. "Let's get cleaned up."
"Cleaned—" Karla flipped the sheet back. "Oh."
When she turned pale, he grabbed her arm and dragged her out of bed and into the bathroom.
"There's no need to get snarly about it," Karla said.
He turned on the shower faucets, waited until there was a hint of hot water, picked her up, and planted her under the spray.
She let out one breathless squeal and tried to punch him when he stepped in behind her.
He soaped one cloth and shoved it into her hands. "Wash." Soaping up another one, he spun her around and started on her back.
"If you've been drinking the contraceptive brew for weeks now, you're safe," Karla said as she washed her br**sts and belly. "So why aren't you lovers yet? You want her, don't you?"
"What I want doesn't matter," he growled.
Swiping the hair out of her eyes, she turned to face him. "Does she want you?"
"How in the name of Hell am I supposed to know what she wants?" Gritting his teeth, he began washing himself. He watched for signs of interest, didn't he? If he pushed too fast, she'd run. Hell's fire. He hadn't even tried to kiss her yet because he was afraid she'd run, and he needed her there. He needed to be around her.
His hands curled into fists. He closed his eyes.This wasn't the time or place for anger of any kind. Before he could get his tongue around an apology, Karla nudged him.
"I'm washed," she said. "Trade places. I'll do your back."
Frustrated and miserable, he obeyed.
"It's summer," Karla said as she moved the cloth over his back. "Which means you wear what Eyrien males usually wear during the summer…which is next to nothing, right?"
"What's your point?"
"So maybe you're right about not doing anything obvious. Maybe it would be better to wait until she trips by herself and falls into your waiting arms."
"I mean it." She gave him a light punch. "Look.There you are, flaunting all these lovely muscles day after day…"
"I don't flaunt."
"Sure you do. All the males do. You've just got more to flaunt than a lot of them. You can rinse off now."
He turned to face her to get his back under the spray. "Your point is?"
"Does she ever get a dreamy look when she's doing something simple?"
He stuck his head under the spray. "Sure. When she's planning what bulbs to plant for spring flowers."
"Well, what's she supposed to say? That she's daydreaming about your muscles and it's got her all warm and tingly?"
He considered that for a moment. "Yeah. Why not?"
Karla shook her head and smiled at him. "When she finally gets up the nerve to try to seduce you, don't make her work too hard, all right? And don't scare her with that falling out of the sky stuff."
"She's Eyrien. She'd enjoy free fall."
Karla just stared at him, then looked down. "You know," she said slowly, "since you've got the water so cold, it's hard to tell if it's true about wings being in proportion to…"
"Do you want to find out how cold a mountain lake is even in late summer?" he demanded.
"You've never been in a cold mountain lake until you've been in one in Glacia." She stepped out of the shower. "Taking a swim there will shrivel your assets for a month."
His response as he turned off the water was pungent and succinct. "That's the Lucivar we all know and love," Karla said, giving him that wicked smile. "Kiss kiss."
Lucivar stared at the study door. Everything has a price. He'd wanted this since coming to Kaeleer and being reunited with his father three years ago. Now he would finally get the answer to a question that had haunted him.
Now he wasn't sure he wanted it.
Taking a deep breath to steady himself, he walked into the study.
Saetan rose from the chair behind the blackwood desk and came around the desk so that he could lean against the front of it. "You did well, Prince."
He nodded, warmed by the praise but too edgy to respond to it.
"What's your price, Lucivar?" Saetan asked softly.
"The answer to a question."
Saetan raised one eyebrow and waited.
"Why?" Lucivar asked, thoughts and feelings swelling that one word until he wasn't sure what else to say. But when Saetan just looked at him, he tried to shape the question. "When Daemon and I were taken away from you, why didn't you fight to get us back?"
He watched in amazement as Saetan paled. "I couldn't," Saetan said after a long pause, his voice rough.
Lucivar took a step toward him. "Why? Even if you couldn't have fought back at that instant, you're a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince. You could have…"
"I couldn't."A tremor of some strong emotion went through Saetan. He wouldn't look at Lucivar. His deep voice was barely a whisper. "I couldn't. Because of Zuulaman."
Puzzled by Saetan's obvious distress, Lucivar said, "Who is Zuulaman?"
"Not a person. A place." Saetan moved fast and was at the door before Lucivar could raise a hand to stop him. But he hesitated as he opened the door. "If you want to know about Zuulaman, ask Andulvar. In some ways, he remembers better than I do what happened."
Then he was gone, and Lucivar stared at that closed door a long time, wondering what had happened in that place that could make the High Lord run away.
He found Andulvar near the small lake that was part of the estate. He could have pounded on the door of Andulvar's rooms, but the coven had gathered to be with Karla, and he suspected it was better to keep this conversation private. So he'd waited until sundown when the Demon Prince rose from his daylight rest and followed Andulvar to the lake.