Daemon smiled dryly. “Hard to say. I think she was nervous about writing the report and was trying hard not to say anything negative, so it’s a bit lean on information. However, she did say that her Master of the Guard is a Sapphire-Jeweled Warlord Prince who is demon-dead. Since yarbarah isn’t a vintage known in Dena Nehele, she requested that some bottles be sent to her, paid for by the Queen’s gift.”
“You’re taking care of those bills, aren’t you?”
“I am. And since at least half of the yarbarah made in Kaeleer comes from our family’s vineyards, I decided to deliver a couple of cases personally.”
“You mean deliver them personally as far as the Keep here in Kaeleer. You can’t go to Terreille.”
Daemon stiffened. His eyes began to glaze. “Are you giving me orders, Prick?” he asked too softly.
“I’m telling you I’ll help you follow our Queen’s command, even if that means we’ll both need a Healer by the time the discussion is done.”
Daemon looked away. “Did Father tell you what happened?”
“He told me dealing with Theran Grayhaven opened up some old wounds,” Lucivar replied. Saetan had told him more than that, and what their father hadn’t said he could guess.
“Did he tell you I attacked Jaenelle?”
Mother Night. Lucivar blew out a breath, not sure how to answer that.
“Did he tell you the Sadist was in bed with her?”
Oh, now. That he knew how to deal with. “The way I heard it, Daemon attacked Jaenelle while caught in an old, bad memory, and the Sadist enjoyed a snuggle that included a lot of moaning and several climaxes.”
Hell’s fire, he’s fragile.
“The Sadist uses sex as a weapon,” Lucivar said, “but the Sadist rises out of temper, not desire. Usually.”
Daemon swayed—and Lucivar had the queer sense of circling around a memory . . . about another time and place when Daemon had come to him, already mentally fragile, and he had lashed out with words that had created a wound that would never fully heal. Even now.
“Old son, Daemon makes love to Jaenelle, but the Sadist dances with Witch,” Lucivar said gently. “Not out of hate or temper; he dances with her out of desire. But this time, for whatever reason, she didn’t make that transition with you—and it scared you.”
“Wouldn’t it scare you?”
“Tch. You scare the shit out of me when you’re the Sadist. But you don’t scare her. You don’t scare Jaenelle.”
“I did scare her.”
“Yeah, well, not as much as you think. And I figure scaring her once in a while helps her remember what you’re feeling when she does something that scares you. Which, you have to admit, she does on a regular basis.”
Daemon’s response was a brief, reluctant smile to acknowledge that particular truth. Then the smile faded. “Have you ever ... ?”
Pain there. Fear there. And too damn close to one of those emotional scars that created a line Daemon couldn’t cross anymore. Not without paying too high a price.
“Just say it,” Lucivar said.
“Do you ever feel possessive about Marian?”
Lucivar sat back on air, as if he were sitting on a stool. “Most of the time, I think of myself as Marian’s husband, or I think of her as an independent woman who lives with me and is the mother of my son. But when Marian and I first became lovers, she moved into my bedroom—and into my bed. So there’s not a night that goes by that I’m not saying ‘Mine.’ ”
Daemon turned to look at him. Lucivar couldn’t tell what was going on in his brother’s mind or heart, but he knew what he said here and now would matter. Really matter. So he took a moment to choose his words.
“Marian comes to my bed every night, but some nights it feels different. Occasionally I’m in bed before her, and when I see her walking toward the bed, watch her get into bed, I feel . . . different. I don’t have the words for it, Daemon. I just feel different. More . . . dangerous. It’s not like the rut. When this happens, I’m still there. My brain is still there. But something changes inside me, and I don’t see her the same way.
“I don’t know what she sees in my face, in my eyes. Sometimes when she gets into bed, she’s nervous but excited. Aroused. And sometimes she’s scared. Of me. Of whatever I am when that feeling fills me.”
Their eyes met. Held.
“What do you do?” Daemon asked softly.
“On the nights when she’s nervous and excited, the sex is . . . more. It has a flavor it doesn’t have any other time.”
“And on the other nights?”
“I’ll kiss her once, because I need to. And I’ll hold her while she sleeps. But I won’t have sex with her. Even if I’m ready to burst and she says she’s willing, I won’t have sex with her when I can smell her fear.”
Lucivar took a breath and blew it out. Not an easy thing to talk about, even with a brother he loved.
Not something he’d ever admitted to anyone before.
“Want some advice?” he asked.
“Some night soon, when nothing is riding you, when you’re feeling easy, invite Jaenelle to your bed. To the bed that’s yours, not hers.”
“To prove that the Sadist won’t always be there?”
“Oh, no. No, Daemon, the Sadist will rise in a heartbeat to defend your most private bit of territory. But I don’t think he’ll hurt Jaenelle. He’ll play games. That’s what he does. But he won’t hurt her.”
He felt a change inside Daemon, pieces that would never be completely whole settling back into place.
“I’ll take the yarbarah to Dena Nehele,” he said. “I’d like to get a look around, and this is a good excuse. And I’d like to get a look at this demon-dead Warlord Prince.”
“Which means you won’t be back until later tonight.”
“I’ll let you know when I get back to the Keep.”
“All right. Anything I can do here?”
Lucivar gave Daemon a lazy, arrogant smile. “You feeling brave?”
“It’s market day. I was going to entertain the little beast for a couple of hours so Marian could go down to Riada alone.”
Daemon groaned louder, but this groan sounded less sincere.
“Fine. All right,” Daemon said. “For Marian.”