“Well…yes.”

His heart ached with love and exasperation. “Then you really have no idea what you’ve done.” Sighing, he ran his fingers through his hair. “Very well, witch-child. I’ll give you your funny sound. But I want a favor in exchange.”

She tipped her head and waited.

“Somewhere in your spooky house, let there be one thing that will show those children who and what we really are, that will show them what they face when they stand before the Blood.”

“Done.”

“Then let’s find a room that’s a little more private.”

There were only the two of them in the library, but Geoffrey could return at any moment.

His face burned with embarrassment as he walked to the door, and he knew that, even with his light brown skin, color visibly flamed his cheeks. He would do this, not just because Jaenelle asked it of him, but because someone else’s sensibilities were at stake.

“I promise, Papa. No one will know it’s you,” Jaenelle said as she stopped at the door.

“Thank you,” he replied faintly.

She looked at him. Then she looked at the table stacked with books. Her lips curved in a wicked smile. “If you want us to keep pretending that you’re sorting old books whenever we come by to chat, you shouldn’t slam them on the table. We all know you wouldn’t do that to a book that was truly ancient and fragile.”

He closed his eyes and promised himself that he would not whimper. “You all know?”

“Well, I don’t think any of the boyos have figured it out, but all of the coven knows.”

May the Darkness have mercy on me.

“Come on, Papa. Let’s gobwaa ha ha. ”

Daemon tucked the tip of his tongue between his teeth and bit down hard enough to keep himself from saying something stupid.

If he’d walked in on his father having sex—when Saetan was still physically capable of having sex—it would have been less embarrassing than hearingthat voice say“bwaa ha ha.”

“What do you think?” Jaenelle asked.

Eyeing the audio crystal sitting on the corner of his desk, Daemon bit his tongue a little harder and counted to ten—twice—before he said, “It sounds like the High Lord.”

She studied the audio crystal, clearly disappointed. “I don’t want to lose the quality of his voice, but I did try to adjust it so it wouldn’t be recognizable.”

There’s nothing you can do to disguise that voice,Daemon thought.

Then she perked up, looked more hopeful. “Of course, youwould recognize his voice, but it’s not likely that anyone else will. Not now that it’s altered a bit.”

Which was when Lucivar walked into the study, carrying Daemonar in a grip that indicated they’d already had one discussion about whether the little beast could run free in the Hall.

“I’m not sure what Marian is working on today, but we were strongly encouraged to leave home,” Lucivar said. “So here we are.”

"We can take him up to the playroom," Daemon said on an Ebon-gray spear thread.

"You’ve got plenty of shields there and nothing breakable?" Lucivar asked.

"Oh, yes."

“Well, you’re just in time,” Jaenelle said, beaming at her brother and nephew. “Listen to this.”

“Bwaa ha ha.”

Daemonar squealed and struggled to get free. “Granpapa! Granpapa!”

Not daring to look at anyone, Daemon stared at his shoes and began to understand his father’s fascination with footwear.

Jaenelle sighed. “All right. I’ll work on it.”

Lucivar studied both of them and began backing away. “We’ll just wait in the hall.”

“Ba ha! Ba ha!” Daemonar shouted. “Granpapa, ba ha!”

Once Lucivar and Daemonar were safely on the other side of the door, Jaenelle said, “Do you think Daemonar will forget?”

Not a chance.“Of course he will. He’s little.”

She gave him a kiss that tasted of a promise for a very interesting evening, then said ruefully, “Thank you for lying.”

He rested his hands on her waist. “You’re welcome.” He hesitated, but a nagging curiosity made him ask. “What were you going to do if he’d refused?”

Jaenelle looked at him and smiled.

Butterflies filled his stomach and tickled unmercifully before turning into heavy, sinking stones.

“Well,” his darling said, “you have a wonderful deep voice too. So if Papa refused, I was going to ask you.”

Saetan walked into the sitting room where he’d asked Geoffrey and Draca, the Keep’s Seneschal, to meet him.

“My friends, this bottle of wine arrived this evening, compliments of Prince Sadi. Since it came from the wine cellar at the Hall, I can assure you it is a very fine vintage, one best enjoyed when shared.”

He called in three glasses and opened the wine.

Draca said nothing until he handed her a glass. “What iss the occassion?”

Saetan grinned. “My son has just realized how much his father loves him.”

SEVEN

Daemon walked out of the bathroom in the Consort’s suite, noticed the look of apprehension on his valet’s face, and approached the clothes laid out on the bed with a heightened sense of wariness. He studied the gold-checked shirt and dark green trousers, which werenot his usual white silk shirt and black jacket and trousers. Then he looked at his valet.

“What are those?” he asked.

“Casual attire,” Jazen replied. “You said you were walking down to the village. For exercise.”

“I said I was going to walk to the village instead of taking a carriage because I could use the exercise.” Which, in his mind, wasn’t saying the same thing. “But I’m going down to the village to talk to Sylvia. The Queen of Halaway. At her request.”

“But you’re walking. So you’ll need these.” Jazen held up a pair of shoes that were not Daemon’s usual black, polished-to-a-gleam footwear. “They go with the casual attire.”

Daemon lightly scratched his chin with one black-tinted nail. “I’ve been an adult for quite some time and have handled all kinds of personal details all by myself. I am now the ruler of a whole Territory, which means I make decisions that affect the lives of thousands of people. So why am I no longer capable of choosing my own clothes?”

“You got married.”

He studied Jazen’s face. “That wasn’t a smart-ass remark, was it?”

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