“Yes,” he said. “I’m sure Helene will find this useful.” Setting it aside a moment, he asked about something that had troubled him in Daemon’s story. “Witch-child, you must have known Daemon wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Why did you wear something that . . . ?” If she weren’t his daughter and his Queen, he wouldn’t have any trouble in phrasing the question.

“Why did I wear an invitation?” she asked.

He nodded.

She fluffed her golden hair. The look she gave him was a little amused and embarrassed. “It’s been said that when a man is feeling a bit broody about something, sometimes he wants sex as a comfort but doesn’t feel secure enough to ask for it.”

The thought of Jaenelle’s coven exchanging confidences about their husbands and/or lovers made him want to run and hide, but he just sat there and nodded.

“I thought Daemon was feeling moody about Jared, about remembering a friend who was gone, but I hadn’t realized it was more than that until it was too late. Anyway, I was reading a story, and the clothes the woman was wearing had caught the man’s interest, so . . .” Jaenelle shrugged. “I knew if Daemon wasn’t interested, he wouldn’t notice the clothes and would be oblivious to the invitation.”

“I beg your pardon?” Saetan blinked, sure he’d misheard. “Daemon wouldn’t notice what you were wearing? Daemon?”

“Yes, Daemon.”

“Witch-child . . .” He shook his head. “Maybe he pretends not to see, but he does notice.”

“Before Surreal went back to Ebon Rih, we went shopping in Amdarh, and she picked out some things that she swore would make Daemon’s tongue hit his toes and have his eyes roll back in his head.”

“What a lovely picture,” Saetan muttered.

“So I was trying the outfit on later that evening and wondering if I really had the nerve to wear it when Daemon walked into the bedroom. I don’t remember what he’d been working on that day, but he looked exhausted. Before I could say anything, he stared at me for a moment, then told me I wasn’t dressed warmly enough for the weather since a bad winter storm had hit a couple of hours before. He bundled me up in his winter robe, stuffed my feet in two pairs of socks—a pair of his over a pair of mine—made us both a hot drink, tucked us into bed, and promptly fell asleep.”

Saetan pressed his lips together to hide his smile. Daemon’s robe. Daemon’s socks. The clues had been there, but neither Jaenelle nor Daemon had recognized the significance.

“That’s not the only time it’s happened,” Jaenelle said. “It’s a comfort.”

“How so?”

So much understanding in those sapphire eyes. “I don’t ever want him to feel like sex is a duty. The fact that he’s sometimes blind to an invitation means he doesn’t feel obliged to perform.”

“Did you wear that outfit on another night?”

She hesitated a long time. “Yes.”

“And did you get the response Surreal said you would?”

“Not exactly.”

But judging by the sudden color flaming her cheeks, she had definitely gotten a response.

He stood up, kissed her forehead, picked up the frame with the web, and walked to the door. Then he turned back. “Are you sure there are no other injuries, witch-child?”

“I’m sure.”

That assurance helped, especially when he walked out of Jaenelle’s sitting room and found Beale, Helene, and Jazen standing in the doorway of the Consort’s bedroom, a look of shock on their faces.

“Problem?” he asked softly. When they turned toward him, he raised a finger to his lips. “Prince Sadi is in my suite. It would be best not to disturb him.”

Helene looked from him to the bedroom and back again. “Was anyone hurt?” she asked in a hushed voice.

They stepped aside for him, and when he stood in that doorway, he understood the question.

Nothing outwardly wrong with the room. Nothing broken or damaged. Even the bed didn’t look unduly messy.

But the psychic scents in the room, combined with the muskiness of sex, made his own body tighten. Rage and fear filled the room, along with a hatred so deep it caught in the back of the throat like a bitter mist. If he’d walked into that room without already knowing both people were safe and unharmed, he would have been tearing the Hall apart to find Daemon and Jaenelle, certain one or both would be desperately hurt.

And there was something under all those other scents that he recognized, that he—and Daemon—would have to deal with.

But not yet. Not until his boy was feeling steady again.

He turned his back on the room and gave Helene the frame that held the cleansing web, and explained what it would do.

“Please give my thanks to the Ladies,” Helene said. “This will help to clean the room.” She looked at Beale and Jazen. “The fewer women in the room right now, the better.”

“I’ll help with the cleaning,” Jazen said. “And I’ll make sure the clothes don’t need to be aired.”

“I’ll send up Holt to assist,” Beale said.

Helene turned to Saetan. “We’ll have the room done in a few hours.”

“Good,” Saetan replied. “Jazen, leave a complete change of clothes in my sitting room for the Prince.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Beale? Is there something else that needs my attention?”

“Prince Aaron is down in the breakfast room, waiting for Lady Angelline,” Beale said. “The Prince’s guest is pacing in the formal receiving room, muttering to himself.”

“Inform Prince Theran that someone will be available in an hour if he wants to discuss anything.”

“Very good, High Lord.”

There was a look in Beale’s eyes that told him plainly enough that the butler wasn’t going to inform Theran about who would be available for that discussion.

What was it about the Dena Nehele Warlord Prince that raised the hackles of Kaeleer males?

Still wondering about that, he walked back into his bedroom and found Daemon tucked in his bed. The body belonged to a full-grown man, but the eyes that watched him, so full of despair, belonged to a boy.

He sat on the side of the bed. “She’s all right,” he said softly. “In better shape than you are, actually.”

“There were bruises,” Daemon whispered. “On her wrists. I saw them.”


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