Everything has a price, old son. Just consider this the equivalent to a kick in the balls.“No.”

“I see.” She gave him a light kiss, then stepped back. “Youreally feel guilty.”

Don’t think about it, don’t think about it.“Shall we?” He tipped his head to indicate the house.

By the time they reached the other side of the street, he could feel the spells, like pins lightly scratching his skin. Tangled webs of dreams and visions. Illusion spells. Layers of them.

He’d been born a Black Widow—the only natural male Black Widow in the history of the Blood. The only other male to be made a Black Widow was his father. Whatever was around this house was the work of Sisters of the Hourglass—and that wasn’t good. The other thing that wasn’t good…

His heart jumped when he realized he recognized the feel of some of the spells.

“Three of them,” Jaenelle said, taking a step toward the wrought-iron fence.

“Shield,” Daemon snapped, creating a Black shield around himself. It was tempting to put a shield around her, but that would be like stuffing her into a sweater instead of letting her put it on by herself.

She blinked at him, then muttered something under her breath in a language he didn’t know as a defensive shield formed around her. Not a bubble; this was a full cloak of power that followed her shape a hand span above her skin.

He was still learning to read Twilight’s Dawn, the Jewel she now wore, but the shield seemed to have the equivalent strength of an Ebon-gray Jewel. That would do for now.

“How do you know there were three?” he asked, returning his attention to her earlier comment.

The look she gave him was Mentor to Student, since she was the one who was overseeing most of his formal training in the Hourglass’s Craft.

The High Lord of Hell was overseeing the rest of it—which was something neither he nor Saetan mentioned to anyone.

“There are three distinct feels to these spells, three distinct temperaments that went into their making. We haven’t reached the spot where the spells actually engage, but we’re close.” Jaenelle hesitated. “Daemon…”

“I know.” And it made him heartsick because the closer he got to the gate in the fence, the more this place feltwrong. “I know, Lady. I didn’t pick up that there weretwo more, but I recognizedher. ” Then he added, "We’ve got company."

They continued to study the house, giving no sign they were aware of the person moving toward them.

A landen, which wasn’t surprising since they were in a landen village, but that’s all Daemon could sense because his Black-Jeweled power was too dark and potent for him to touch a landen mind without destroying it.

So they waited until a young voice hesitantly asked, “Are you going into the spooky house?”

Now they turned, but Daemon shifted just the little bit needed to place Jaenelle partially behind his left shoulder, still giving her a view of the boy while acting as another shield.

He felt resigned amusement coming from Jaenelle, but no protest, no attempt to brush off that instinctive defense.

The boy was at that awkward age of being no longer a child but not quite a youth. Between his age and the fact that he was landen, he was an unlikely threat to either of them. That didn’t make any difference.

“The other Lady and gentleman took some of the children with them,” the boy said, sounding hopeful.

Daemon crooked a finger and made a “come here” gesture. Better to let the boy come to them. Something shy about this one, something…

"He’s been hurt," Jaenelle said.

Daemon clamped down on his temper. Coming from someone with Jaenelle’s past, “hurt” and “wounded” didn’t mean the same thing. Hell’s fire, someone coming fromhis past recognized the difference. "Abused physically?"

"Not sure. But there’s a feel to such children. Like recognizes like."

He heard the pain under the words.

“What’s your name?” he asked the boy.

“Yuli.”

“You said a Lady and gentleman went into the house? How long ago?”

“Not long.”

“What did they look like?” Jaenelle asked.

“The Lady was pretty,” Yuli said. Then he lifted a hand and added hesitantly, “But I think her ears looked a little funny.”

“Pointed?”

“Uh-huh.”

“The gentleman,” Daemon said. “Did he have wings?”

Yuli shook his head. “He wasn’t from Dhemlan either, ’cause he had light skin.”

It sounded like Rainier had come with Surreal. Which meant Lucivar hadn’t arrived yet. Unless he’d come before the children had gathered to watch the house.

“If they took some other children, why didn’t you go with them?” Daemon asked.

He saw the flinch, felt the tremor of hurt.

“I live at the orphans’ home,” Yuli said. “The others don’t want…” The words faded into a pained silence.

“Well, then,” Jaenelle said, “that’s fortunate for us.”

Her voice was like a summer breeze washing over the boy, but Daemon heard the ice underneath the warmth.

“Someone threw a stone out the window,” Yuli said. “Just before your…” He frowned and looked across the street.

“Coach,” Daemon said.

“Your Coach appeared.” Yuli swung around and pointed to the lawn on the other side of the fence. “It’s over there.”

“Once we cross that line, the spells will engage,” Jaenelle said.

Daemon didn’t bother to argue about the “we” part of that sentence. He’d fight her into the ground before he let her cross that line and get tangled up in those spells.

“I’ll get it!” Yuli said. The boy slammed through the gate, sending it crashing back against the fence as he sprinted to a spot in the lawn.

Jaenelle hissed. “Power.”

“How…?” Daemon glanced at her. Her Jewel, which usually looked like Purple Dusk with streaks of the other colors of Jewels, now glowed Rose. She was at the lightest end of her range of power.

“There’s a hint of Blood in him,” she said. “He’s not pure landen.”

Damn it! “Does he have enough power to trap him in those spells?”

“Don’t know.” She paused, her attention focused on the boy.

“No. He’s not strong enough to do Craft, so he’s not strong enough to trigger the spells.”


Tags: Anne Bishop Books The Black Jewels Series Books Science Fiction Books
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