One spell, designed to annoy her just enough. One man, who understood the nature of Warlord Princes all too well.

Since Daemon had found a clever way to take care of herand Rainier, maybe she wouldn’t send that note to Uncle Saetan after all.

She shook her head and smiled as she walked into her bedroom. “Sneaky bastard.”

TWO

Early morning. Cool air against his bare skin—air that held the promise of heat later in the day.

No longer sleeping and not quite awake, Daemon breathed in the scent of his wife, his love, his Queen, and breathed out a sigh of contentment. His hand caressed Jaenelle’s thigh, traveled up her belly. Not to arouse, just to confirm that she was here, was real. It wasn’t something he took for granted.

Then his hand moved higher, curved around a breast, and he smiled with pleasure at the feel of that warm, round flesh against his palm and the caress of soft, thick fur against the back of his hand.

Fur?

Fully awake now, he opened his golden eyes halfway. He tried straightening his legs, but the weight that was pressed against the back of his knees gave an annoyed grunt followed by a sleepy yawn.

Ladvarian. The Sceltie was a Red-Jeweled Warlord and the most trusted liaison between human Blood and kindred, who were the Blood of the nonhuman races that lived in Kaeleer. He’d been a puppy when he’d decided Jaenelle belonged to him as his Queen and had come to live with her at the Hall. Years later, he’d been the stubborn heart that had rallied the kindred to do the impossible and save Jaenelle when she’d been torn apart by the power she had unleashed to stop a war.

The kindred had developed a fine sense of whennot to come into the bedroom, but Daemon had gotten so used to some of their psychic scents that their presence no longer roused him from sleep when they slipped into the room.

Didn’t mean it didn’t annoy him to wake up and discover company in his wife’s bed. Especially since the bed was big enough to be a small room and there was no reason to be crowding him. Unless…

He raised his head and looked at the bed’s fourth occupant.

Kaelas lay on his back, sprawled over the large bed. Eight hundred pounds of limp Arcerian cat. An enormous blanket of white fur.

Kaelas stared at him through half-lidded eyes. Daemon couldn’t decide if it was a deliberate imitation of his own look or lazy arrogance.

Daemon bared his teeth, a show of dominance.

Kaelas bared his teeth, leaving no doubt thathis teeth were more impressive.

Contentment vanished. Temper scratched. It didn’t matter that Kaelas wasn’t a rival lover. It didn’t matter that he usually tolerated the cat’s presence, acknowledging that the Red-Jeweled Warlord Prince was one of Jaenelle’s fiercest protectors. What mattered was that on this particular morning, he, who was Jaenelle’s husband, didn’t want to share her bed witha damn cat !

The feelings swelled, bubbled up, demanded an outlet.

Daemon snarled, using Craft to let that soft sound roll through the room like thunder.

Kaelas snarled, not needing Craft to fill the room.

Then Jaenelle snarled.

Suddenly he was the only male in the bed.

"We’ll tell Beale you need coffee," Ladvarian said, using a psychic spear thread to keep the comment just between the males.

"You do that," Daemon replied, watching the way Kaelas shifted from one paw to the other, as if uncertain whether to stay or run.

Jaenelle stirred.

Kaelas sprang toward the glass doors connected to the balcony that looked out over Jaenelle’s courtyard. He passed through the glass, leaped over the balcony railing, and landed in the courtyard two floors below.

Ladvarian ran straight for the inside wall and passed through it to the corridor, no doubt racing to find Beale and inform the Hall’s butler that the Lady was awake.

Which left him to deal with his wife, who was not the friendliest person first thing in the morning.

He kissed her bare shoulder, an acknowledgment that he knew she was awake. “Good morning.”

He’d been a pleasure slave for centuries when he’d lived in Terreille. He knew all the nuances for playing bedroom games. The rules were different for a husband, but a lot of what he’d learned about women still applied. So he kept his voice warm and loving, with just a husky hint of sex—enough to tell her she was desirable but not enough to imply he had any expectations.

She shifted. Turned toward him. There was nothing loving or loverlike in the sapphire eyes that stared at him.

“You woke me up.”

A shiver of fear went down his spine. He had seen her in the Misty Place, that place deep in the abyss where she appeared as the Self that lived within the human skin—a Self that clearly revealed that not all the dreamers who had woven this dream into flesh had been human.

Despite the fact that the body still looked like Jaenelle, it was Witch who stared at him. And Witch wasnot pleased.

“Sorry,” he said, brushing his fingers over her short golden hair. “Didn’t mean to.”

She braced one hand against his shoulder and pushed.

He could have resisted, physically, but he’d waited seventeen hundred years for her, and he could no more disobey her than he could stop loving her. So he rolled onto his back, passive, knowing he wouldn’t defend himself from anything she did to him.

She settled over him, her nails lightly pricking his shoulders. She rubbed against him—and his c**k responded with enthusiasm.

“You woke me up.”

She nipped his lower lip, then settled in for a long, slow kiss that had his blood pumping. The scent of her arousal, both physical and psychic, filled him until there was nothing but need and desire.

Then she ended the kiss and her teeth closed over his throat. Not a love bite on his neck, but a predator’s hold meant to strangle the prey. No pressure, no real menace from her, but the hold—and what it stood for—shredded the chains that usually held a Warlord Prince within the boundaries of civilized self-control.

His long nails whispered down her back, encouraging her to take him. His hands rested on her ass for a moment. Then he pricked her with his nails just hard enough to have her hips pushing down against him.

Snarling, she raised her head.

“You woke me up,” she said for the third time.

This wasn’t lovemaking, and it wasn’t just sex. He wasn’t sure there was a word for where they were at that moment.

And he didn’t care.

Lifting his head, he licked her throat as he shifted her hips and sheathed himself inside her. Then he purred, “I guess I’ll have to make it up to you.”

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