Damn. He’d hoped the lovely hearth witch would be able to calm her husband a little before Lucivar got here. If Marian was upset, Lucivar would arrive at the Hall as a walking explosion.

“So you’re going to do this.” He’d thought about it all afternoon. There wasn’t anything dangerous about this spooky house; it was just a silly amusement. The Darkness knew the Queens in Terreille had done some vicious things in the name of amusement, and this wouldn’t hurt anyone. But something about it bothered him. He just couldn’t figure outwhy.

“Yes, Daemon, we’re going to do this.”

She fastened the other earring to her right ear, and his attention was caught by something much more interesting than an old house.

He’d loved her long golden hair, had loved the feel of it in his hands or when it brushed over his skin. But the short hair, properly cut and styled thanks to Surreal’s badgering, nicely framed her face and revealed her neck. Andthat was the fascination.

There was something about the spot where her neck and right shoulder met. Not the left side, just the right. An enticing scent. A special taste. It wasn’t something she put on her skin, and there wasn’t a scent gland under the skin. But for Warlord Princes, that particular spot was like catnip. They wanted to breathe in the scent of it, lick it, close their mouths over it, and—

Down, boy. Don’t start what you can’t finish until much, much later.

He hadn’t thought about how often he came up behind her and kissed that spot, lingering for a moment to get the taste of her, until he realized Lucivar did the same thing, except the kiss was quick and friendly. Until he noticed all the Warlord Princes in the First Circle did the same thing, even Kaelas and Jaal, so the fascination wasn’t just to human males.

And it wasn’t exclusive to Jaenelle. He hadn’t noticed this behavior in Terreille, but every Queen in Kaeleer had that special little spot—a spot that appealed only to the Warlord Princes who served her.

Which had him circling back around to Jaenelle’s hair. Long, it had hidden the enticement unless she put her hair up or braided it. Now the short golden hair led the eye down her neck right to that spot and—

“Are you all right?” Jaenelle asked. “Your eyes are glazing.”

It took a little too much effort to leash his libido, but he managed to do it. Or to be more precise, Jaenelle’s slightly puzzled, slightly amused look managed to do it. Besides, this wasn’t an evening to let his mind wander.

“I’m fine.” He hesitated, then decided he’d better warn her.

“Lucivar will be coming over after dinner.”

She picked up a bottle of perfume he’d given her recently and applied a drop to her pulse points. “Is he upset about something?”

“Yes.” No point in denying it.

She set the bottle on the dressing table and turned to face him. It had been easier talking to her reflection than being pinned by those sapphire eyes.

“Do you know what it is?” Witch asked.

He shook his head. “But it’s…between brothers.”

She turned back to the mirror and put on the multigemmed bracelet he’d given her before they were married, during the weeks when he’d been afraid she was going to turn away from him forever. “Then I’ll stay in the suite this evening. It sounds like this discussion would be easier if there are no distractions.”

“I think so.” He wouldn’t have asked her to stay away, but he was relieved that she understood her presence would hinder any attempt at getting to the root of the problem.

She walked over to him and gave him a soft kiss. “You’ll work it out. The two of you always do.”

Giving in to one need, he wrapped his arms around her and nuzzled that special spot on her neck.

The psychic scent rolled through the lower rooms of the Hall, announcing Lucivar’s temper before he crossed the study’s threshold. Arrogance. Anger. And hurt.

Daemon leaned back against the blackwood desk and waited for his brother to smash through the door.

On second thought, enough things had already gotten smashed that day. He used Craft to open the study door just ahead of the Eyrien’s entrance.

Lucivar’s temper was leading, and most people would have scrambled to get out of the way of the storm that was about to shatter everything in its path. That anger didn’t bother him. They had clashed before and would, no doubt, clash again. And the arrogance was simply Lucivar being Lucivar. But the hurt…That was the wound they were going to have to lance.

“Bastard,” Lucivar said as he began prowling the room.

“Prick.” He watched Lucivar take in the room, assessing it as a battleground.

Unless he was completely relaxed and in a familiar place, Lucivar made that same assessment. He didn’t see the furniture for its craftsmanship or the decorations for their aesthetic value. He didn’t look at the space of a room in terms of its comfort or pleasing dimensions. He saw weapons, traps, and defense. The fact that he was making that assessment of the study did not bode well for this discussion.

“What’s wrong with your back?” Lucivar asked as he prowled past the desk, his gold eyes taking in the details of a potential enemy with one slashing look.

Should have realized he’d notice,Daemon thought as he braced his hands on the desk. “Jaenelle yelled at the cat.” Even though Jaal was around as much as Kaelas was, everyone understood “the cat” referred only to the big white feline and not the tiger.

“If you don’t have brains enough to shield, you deserve to get hurt.”

He felt his temper flex, lightly testing the leash of self-control.

“I know why we were closed out of the library today.”

Daemon blinked. Worked to shift his mental balance.

“Daemonar’s just a little boy,” Lucivar growled. “He doesn’t understand about the thrice-damned precious books.”

There was the hurt, suddenly bubbling up to the surface. And there was something more under the hurt. Something that worried him.

“That’s right,” Daemon said carefully. “He’s just a little boy. That library isn’t an appropriate place for him.”

“Isn’t appropriate for an uneducated Eyrien, isn’t that what you mean?”

Someone had managed to hit Lucivar in one of the few places where the man was emotionally fragile.

Daemon’s temper unsheathed its claws. He pushed away from the desk. “Who took a jab at you?”

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