"Well, that should perk up Uncle Saetan's day."
He snorted. "Yeah. He's going to be thrilled."
"Is there anything you can do?" Lucivar asked, finding no comfort in the way Saetan sat so silent and still.
Finally, Saetan sighed. "I gave up my claim to Dhemlan last year when I decided to remain here at the Keep. The Queens there no longer have to answer to me."
"But they know you. They'll listen to you. Hell's fire, Father. Things are shaky enough between Jaenelle and Daemon. If these rumors…"
"I beg your pardon?"
He felt that whiplash of icy temper and winced. "You've visited them at the Hall often enough," he hedged. "Surely, you've noticed…" Oh, shit.
Saetan shook his head. "My apologies, Lucivar. I have no right to lash out at you for saying something I don't want to hear. Daemon came too close to sliding back into the Twisted Kingdom when he thought Jaenelle died. If he loses her now… I'm not sure what would happen."
"You know what will happen," Lucivar said. "You were in that camp in Hayll.You know what it's like to dance with the Sadist. He played out a game with illusions, but with the right provocation, he's capable of doing things like that. He's capable of doinganything. You know that."
"Yes, I know that," Saetan replied too softly. "After all, he is his father's mirror."
For a moment, Lucivar couldn't breathe. The deliberate reminder that a place called Zuulaman no longer existed was a caution about dealing with the man who sat on the other side of the desk…and a warning about the other man who wore Black Jewels. After all, Daemon was the reason he didn't fear Saetan. When it came down to it, the Sadist could be a more elegantly vicious enemy than the High Lord of Hell would ever dream of being.
"What do we do?" Lucivar asked.
"We wait." Saetan paused, then added, "And we hope."
He was naive. It was the only explanation for why he was standing in a meadow on a spring afternoon feeling overdressed and feet-deficient.
Of course, being flanked by a huge cat and a small dog while enclosed by a circle of unicorns could make any man feel… out of step.
Then the unicorns shifted, making an opening in the circle. Jaenelle stepped through the opening, flanked by Moonshadow, the Queen of Sceval, and her mate, Mistral, the Warlord Prince of the unicorns. Behind them came the Priestess, who had agreed to do her best to say words that would be meaningful to humans while she stood as witness to the "mating" of Kaeleer's Heart to Prince Daemon Sadi.
Thank the Darkness, none of them expected him to consummate the marriage in front of these witnesses.
Jaenelle's eyes brimmed with amusement as she took her place beside him. On his left.
He didn't think about it. He simply stepped back and shifted until he stood on her left, the subordinate position. Her startled expression told him she didn't know what to think about that move, since he now outranked her and was entitled to stand on the right. But his choice had nothing to do with the Jewels she now wore and everything to do with who, and what, she still was. Her place wasn't at his side; his place was ather side. And always would be.
Before her uncertainty could be sensed by the unicorns around them, Mistral reared. Then, looking at Daemon, he flicked his tail and snorted before moving to one side.
Jaenelle pressed her lips together.
*You'd have no use for me if I was hung like that,* Daemon told her on a psychic thread.
She changed her muffled laugh into a series of coughs, causing Ladvarian to declare it was still too cold for the Lady to be outside much longer.
So Moonshadow tossed her head, the sun gleaming on her spiral horn, and all the unicorns pricked their ears as the Priestess took her place in fron.t of the two humans.
*Jaenelle,* the Priestess said, *this human stallion stands before you, wanting to be your mate. Will you accept him?*
"I will accept him," Jaenelle said. She called in the gold band Banard had made. Even though he'd given it to her for this ceremony, Daemon stared at it as if he'd never seen it before.
His left hand trembled when she slipped the ring on his finger, adding, "I offer this token to let everyone know Daemon is now my mate."
*Daemon,* the Priestess said, *the Lady is willing to have you as her mate. Do you promise to be her friend and…* She looked at Ladvarian, who, Daemon guessed, was helping the mare with human concepts. *…lover? Do you promise to protect her from enemies?*
"I promise," Daemon replied. He called in the sapphire ring and slipped it on Jaenelle's finger. "Let this token be a symbol of my commitment to honor, cherish, and protect, to be friend, lover, and husband." He lifted her left hand and brushed his lips across her knuckles. "This I promise… with everything I am."
When he drew her into his arms and kissed her, he forgot about standing in a meadow, forgot about who was watching, forgot everything but her…
… until a young voice close to his hip said, *Are they going to mate now?*
Since his libido was rising a little too eagerly, he started to step back… and got stabbed in the ass by a little unicorn's horn.
"It could have been worse," Jaenelle said as he led her back to the Coach and the picnic Ladvarian had procured from somewhere.
"How?" Daemon said, grateful he was just bruised, not punctured.
"You could have been facing the other way."
Before he could decide if he wanted to be an intelligent husband or a snippy bastard, she kissed him, and when her tongue slipped into his mouth, he decided being an intelligent husband was the far better choice.
Wrapping his arms around her, he sank into the kiss, soaring on the feel of her body brushing against his.
She scraped her teeth over his chin. "Did you notice that Ladvarian chose the Coach that has a bed?"
She licked his throat. "Do you think you can perform your duties as a husband, or are you too wounded?"
Since she was pressed against him, the answer was rather evident, but he said, "Oh, I think I can manage."
"I appreciate your having us to stay tonight," Daemon said as Khary refilled the brandy snifters. In Seek, the Blood still held with that quaint custom of the men and women separating after dinner for a while so that each group could chat with their own gender. So he and Khary had remained in the dining room while Jaenelle and Morghann had gone to the sitting room.
"Well, you could say we were expecting company," Khary replied, a twinkle in his blue eyes. "Especially since Ladvarian came pelting up to the house earlier today, saying he needed a picnic in a hurry and could we have you and Jaenelle to dinner and put you up for the night."