He took a step toward her…and she could have sworn he cringed before he backed away.
"I need to check on the villages, make sure everyone got through the storm all right."
"Do you want some breakfast before you go?" she asked.
"No," he replied too quickly. "I don't want—" He hesitated, then shook his head. "I have to go." He gave her one more glance before he hurried down the domestic corridor that led to the side door.
A moment later, she heard the door slam behind him.
Stunned, Marian sank into a chair and wrapped her arms around herself for comfort.
He'd run from her. Lucivar Yaslana, the Ebon-gray Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih, had fled from his own home to get away from her.
He didn't want. That was it, wasn't it? That was the reason for his un-
easiness, his embarrassment. He didn't want. What he'd taken out of need, she'd given out of love. But now that the rut was over…Was he ashamed that, having no other females to choose from, he'd taken his housekeeper to his bed? Or was he afraid that, having seen him through the rut, she now expected him to reciprocate and accommodate her whenever she wanted a man?
She hadn't asked him for anything, had she? Having fallen in love with him, she'd hoped he would feel some warmth for her when the rut was over, maybe even want to remain lovers, but she hadn't expected anything in return for what she'd given.
Except courtesy. Or some word of appreciation before he drew the line that separated them into servant and employer would have been nice. A line, she thought with growing resentment, that he made every effort to erase whenevershe tried to maintain that distinction.
"Ask me if I need a Healer," she muttered as she hurried to her own room and dressed in her warmest clothes. "As if I'm some feeble female who will collapse after a long bout of lusty sex. Who does he think he is, anyway? He doesn't want me? Fine. Who asked him to want me? If I have feelings that aren't returned, well, that's my problem, isn't it? I didn't ask him to love me."But I want him to. Oh, I do want him to—and all he wanted was to get away from me.
She had to move, had to work. If she didn't do something, she'd curl up and cry until her heart broke. And that would be the worst thing of all. If he knew she'd given him her heart as well as her body, he might feel uncomfortable about her staying even as his housekeeper.
Work didn't cure a bruised heart, but it gave her an outlet for all that fretful energy. Moving quickly, she fetched the snow shovel from the mud room. When she'd found it in one of the merchant shops, she'd been delighted. It was easy enough to use Craft to remove snow from pathways and streets, but Craft couldn't take the place of exercise to warm and strengthen the body. Today she wanted to shovel snow until she couldn't lift another bladeful. Today she'd sweep and scrub and polish the eyrie until she was too tired to think.
She opened the front door and stared at the waist-high snow. If she wanted to get out without shoveling snowinto the eyrie, she'd have to use Craft to clear a space to stand in. Vanishing a block of snow as wide as the front door and as long as the shovel, she called it back in and let it drop in the yard beside the eyrie. Then she stepped outside.
She didn't have to look far to findTassle. His face filled a rough opening in a large mound of snow.
"Tassle?" Was he trapped under the snow? She lifted her hand, prepared to vanish more blocks of snow to reach him, when his face disappeared from the opening. Moments later, he scrambled out of the mound and bounded to the top of the snowbank next to her, dancing in his delight to see her.
Dancing. On top of the snow.
"How are you doing that?" Marian asked.
*I am air walking.* Tassle danced a little more to show off his skill.
Well, that explained the times when she'd seen Tassle trot over muddy ground and still enter the eyrie with clean paws.
*Yas can teach you,* Tassle said. *The Lady taught the kindred to air walk, and she taught Yas and her human friends, too.*
She wasn't sure Lucivar would be willing to teach her anything at this point. She didn't want to think about that, so she focused on the wolf. "Did you manage all right during the blizzard?"
*Yas left food and water for me, and he said I could stay in the front room of the eyrie, and I did stay there at night, but Kaelas and the Lady taught the wolves who live with the High Lord how to make dens out of snow. Kaelas is Arcerian, and they make snow dens to live in during the winter. So I made a den.* He paused. *Now that you and Yas have mated, are you going to have puppies?*
Mother Night. She hadn't considered that, hadn't done anything to prevent that. After a quick, desperate counting of days, she breathed a sigh of relief. She was well past her fertile time. She couldn't imagine how Lucivar would react to being told a woman he no longer wanted was pregnant with his child. She'd learned enough about his past to feel certain his response would be less than friendly.
Work. Hard labor would keep her thoughts from wandering toward things that wouldn't be.
She dug in and started flinging shovelfuls of snow as far as she could, ignoring Tassle's repeated offers to use Craft to clear the path for her. Why shouldhe care if the path was cleared.He , and a certain Eyrien Warlord Prince, could just walkabove the snow. *Marian?*
The only person who was trapped in the eyrie by the snow was the female, who was only good for mating and…making puppies. *Marian!*
The whine in that sending finally made her stop and look at the wolf…who looked back at her with woeful eyes, his head and shoulders covered with the snow she'd flung in that direction.
Then someone quietly cleared his throat to gain her attention. Marian looked to her left…and considered flinging herself into the deepest drift and just staying there.
The High Lord, standing on air, looked down at her. A snow goatee hung from his chin, and his clothes were liberally spattered with the snow she'd thrown at him. Unknowingly, to be sure, but still… "Good morning, High Lord," Marian said.
He brushed the snow from his chin and clothes. "Good morning, Lady Marian."
She couldn't tell by his tone if he was amused or annoyed. "Would you like a cup of tea?" she asked meekly. "That would be welcome."
Hell's fire, Mother Night, and may the Darkness be merciful. Could the day get any worse?
Of course, watching him walk down the snow as if he were descending stairs only he could see produced a spurt of resentment that she quickly tamped down. It wasn'this fault Lucivar hadn't thought to teach her anything as useful as air walking.
Pushing that thought aside, she vanished the shovel and her cape and boots as she hurried to the kitchen. Saetan paused in the front room long enough to hang his cape on the coat tree before joining her.