“Of course.”

Daemon laughed, and the sound had Lucivar breathing easy again.

“Will you be all right going to Terreille?” Daemon asked.

“I’ll be fine.”

Daemon hesitated. “You’ll shield?”

Lucivar vanished the two boxes of yarbarah. “Of course. I have to set a good example.” Slipping the hunting knife out of its sheath, he studied the blade for a moment before deciding it was a sufficient weapon to wear openly. “Is Surreal still pissed off at me for chewing on her because she didn’t shield before she went into that spooky house?”

“She doesn’t automatically swear anymore when she hears your name, so I think she’s getting over it.”

Lucivar grinned. “In that case, it’s time to get some other woman riled up.”

TERREILLE

She had to move. Had to work. Move. Work. Keep moving.

Whenever she stopped for a moment, her hands throbbed in time with her heart, and she knew that wasn’t good. But the words were there, waiting to cut, jab, tear. The pain in her back, arms, shoulders, and hands kept the words at bay. Formed a wall that the other hurt couldn’t breach.

So she kept working, kept moving, kept the words at bay.

“How long can she keep that up?” Ranon asked, sounding worried.

Theran shook his head as he watched Cassidy. As they all watched Cassidy. Since early this morning, the First Circle had been gathering on the terrace to watch their Queen tear into the gardens.

So she got up feeling pissy. If she hadn’t been eavesdropping, she would have had a good ride last night and would have been feeling just fine this morning.

But she was out there digging in that damn garden so everyone would know little Cassidy was feeling pouty.

She’d snapped at Ranon when he’d gone out to talk to her, told him flat out to leave her alone. And when he, Theran, had approached her, she had screamed at him. Screamed. Scared Gray so much the boy had been hovering around the terrace ever since.

She’ll stop when she gets tired of playing the wounded party, Theran thought. Hell’s fire, it’s not like I actually did anything.

“What in the name of Hell is going on here?”

Theran spun around and stared at the Red-Jeweled Eyrien standing in the doorway. A Warlord Prince whose glazed gold eyes were a warning that the man was standing close to the killing edge, if he wasn’t already dancing on it.

Ranon shifted into a fighting stance.

The Eyrien stepped out on the terrace, ignoring Ranon, his eyes fixed on Cassidy.

“You don’t want to start a pissing contest with me,” the Eyrien said to Ranon. “You really don’t.” He turned his head, and Theran felt the punch of power as those gold eyes stared at him.

He was looking at death. This man was a stranger who had walked into his home and should be challenged, but he knew, with absolute certainty, that he was looking at death.

Then the Eyrien fixed his eyes on Gray. “You do anything to piss her off?” he asked mildly.

Gray shook his head.

“Then get me two large buckets of cold water, and put them over there.” He pointed to a spot near the stairs leading down to the lawn. “Do it now.”

Gray bolted.

“What are you going to do?” Theran asked.

“What you should have done,” the Eyrien replied. “Take care of your Queen.”

“She ordered us to leave her alone,” Ranon said.

The Eyrien snorted. “And you let her get away with that? Well, she knows better than to say that to me.”

As soon as Gray returned with the buckets of water, the Eyrien headed for Cassidy. When he got close to her, he whistled sharply.

Her head came up—and the hoe came up like a weapon. The Eyrien simply grabbed the wood between her hands and tugged. She yanked back. He tugged. Then he yanked, lifting her off her feet for a moment before he turned and walked back to the terrace, dragging her with him.

Her feet kept trying to find purchase, but she skimmed along the top of the grass while the Eyrien ignored her increasingly shrill demands.

“It’s my hoe!” Cassidy yelled, still fighting the Eyrien as he yanked her up high enough to clear the terrace steps. “Let go! It’s mine!”

“Uh-huh.” The Eyrien set her down in front of the buckets.

“Mine!”

A fast twist of his wrist, and the length of the hoe handle between Cassidy’s hands snapped off cleanly. He tossed it off the terrace.

“You broke my hoe!” Cassidy wailed. “You broke my hoe!”

As she threw down the broken pieces, the buckets rose up behind her and doused her with cold water.

Her shriek had all of them jumping back. Except the Eyrien.

“Have I got your attention now, witchling?” the Eyrien asked.

“You—” Cassidy blinked. Stared at the man.

“Yeah. Remember me?”

“Oh, shit.” Her eyes skipped over Theran and settled on Ranon and the others before coming back to the Eyrien.

“Listen up, Cassie, because I’ll only tell you this once,” the Eyrien said. “If you have a problem with your court, you deal with your court. And if they end up with a few bruises because of it, so be it.”

“A Queen doesn’t do that to her court,” Cassidy said.

The Eyrien grabbed her wrists and turned her hands palms up. “And a woman doesn’t do this to herself.”

Theran looked at Cassidy’s hands and felt his stomach roll. How could she have done that? Why didn’t she stop?

She looked at her hands—and grew pale.

“You ever do anything like this again, I’ll haul you back to Kaeleer,” the Eyrien said. “And I’ll bury anyone who tries to stop me.”

“You have no right to—”

“You do anything like this again, I will haul you back to Kaeleer, and you can explain to your father why you did this to his daughter.”

Kick in the gut. Her lower lip quivered. Her eyes filled with tears. The damn Eyrien knew right where to hit her to take all the fight out of her.

Bastard.

“Do you have a Healer?” the Eyrien asked.

“Yes,” Cassidy said.

“Then you call her, and you get those hands fixed. I’ll look in on you in a little while. We’ve got some things to talk about.”

She stumbled a little when she headed for the door, and she flinched away from him when Theran reached out to give her a little support through the doorway.

He waited until he was sure she was out of sight and hearing before he looked at the Eyrien. “Who do you—”

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