“Oh,” she said. “Yeah. We worked things out pretty well.”
“I see,” he said faintly. Maybe he wouldn’t make it his business after all.
He cleared his throat to find his voice. “In that case, why don’t we join the rest of the family? Our guests should be arriving anytime now.”
“Won’t that be fun?”
Not sure how to judge the words, he simply guided her to the door, and said, “I don’t know about fun, but it should be interesting.”
Lucivar was waiting for them when they stepped through the Gate that brought them from the Keep in Terreille to the Keep in Kaeleer.
Theran wasn’t sure if that was because Lucivar knew all of them or because he was probably considered the least dangerous of the three men who were waiting to pass judgment on him and Gray and, possibly, all of Dena Nehele.
“Lady Cassidy,” Lucivar said, tipping his head in the slight bow that indicated respect from someone of his rank.
“Prince Yaslana,” Cassidy replied. “It’s a pleasure to be here.”
For you, maybe, Theran thought. He expected to dance around questions that were no one’s business, and since he wasn’t there by choice, he didn’t expect any part of this evening to be a pleasure.
Lucivar gaveTheran and Gray a nod of greeting,then said,“Why don’t we join the others and take care of all the introductions?”
Cassidy smiled as she placed her left hand on top of Lucivar’s right, accepting his offer of escort. “I’m looking forward to seeing Jaenelle again. There are a couple of things I’d like to talk to her about.”
Jaenelle, Theran thought as he and Gray followed Lucivar and Cassidy. Not Lady Angelline. Jaenelle.
An unintentional reminder that Cassidy knew the Queen who had ruled Ebon Askavi well enough to address her casually. Should he warn Gray about who—and what—Jaenelle Angelline had been?
When Lucivar opened the sitting room door, Theran still hadn’t decided how much to tell Gray about the people they were going to see. Then it was too late to decide because as the people in the room turned to greet the newcomers, Gray rushed toward the golden-haired woman standing next to Daemon Sadi and stopped when he got close enough to touch her. His face was filled with awed delight, and he looked at her as if he’d spent his life in a desert and she was the pool of water he’d searched for.
“Ladies, this is Prince Jared Blaed Grayhaven and Prince Theran Grayhaven,” Lucivar said. “Gentlemen, this is—”
“The Queen,” Gray said, sounding a little breathless as he stared at Jaenelle.
Jaenelle smiled. “I was the Queen. Now—”
“She’s still the Queen.”
Three male voices, each sounding equally annoyed.
“—I’m Daemon’s wife.”
“The Lady honors me,” Daemon purred.
Oh, the look on Gray’s face. The look in his eyes as he gave Daemon, Lucivar, and the High Lord an assessing glance before focusing on Jaenelle.
“Of course you are,” Gray said. The words sounded sincere. The tone said he was siding with the other males.
Jaenelle studied Gray through narrowed eyes. Then she shook her head and sighed. “Why do I bother arguing with any male from your caste?”
“Because it’s entertaining?” Lucivar replied.
“Before we throw our guests into the family game of ‘snap and snarl,’ why doesn’t someone finish the introductions?” Saetan said.
The Eyrien woman standing near the High Lord clapped a hand over her mouth to try to muffle her laughter.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But it’s a perfect description of some of these discussions.”
“The woman who finds me amusing is my wife, Marian,” Lucivar said.
This Purple Dusk-Jeweled witch was married to Yaslana? How did she survive?
As soon as the introductions were made, Jaenelle said,“If you gentlemen will excuse us, Marian and I would like some time for a private chat with Cassidy before dinner.”
Leaving him and Gray alone with Lucivar, Daemon, and the High Lord. Could the evening get any worse?
Of course it could. If Cassidy complained about him, Marian and Jaenelle would tell their husbands, and the odds of his surviving long enough to get home . . .
Who was he kidding? If eitherYaslana or Sadi turned on him, he had no chance of surviving.
A bottle of wine was opened and glasses were filled. As everyone else settled comfortably, Theran braced himself for the interrogation about Dena Nehele and Cassidy’s court.
If they intended to question him, they never got the chance because Gray blurted out, “Cassie doesn’t want to put down roots.”
Something quiet, terrible, and predatory filled the room. Something he’d never felt anyplace else or in anyone else—not even Talon, who was the darkest-Jeweled male back home.
“Explain,” Saetan said softly.
“She brought seeds from her mother’s garden,” Gray said, “but she doesn’t want to plant them, doesn’t want them to grow in Dena Nehele soil.”
A moment’s silence as that terrible feeling faded from the room. Then Daemon said, “That’s a prudent decision, Gray. Windblown seeds could spread for miles.”
Gray looked stricken, and Theran wanted to erase Daemon’s words, even though he’d basically said the same thing earlier that day.
“What about bulbs?” Lucivar said. “Something that could be contained in pots? Marian does that in her garden when she wants a particular plant but wants to control where it grows.”
“So does Jaenelle,” Daemon said.
“That’s certainly a possibility,” Saetan agreed. “But perhaps finding common ground would be a better idea for this first year.”
“Common ground?” Gray asked.
“For example, some form of daisy grows in most of the Territories in Kaeleer,” Saetan said. “If you put them all together, you’ll notice differences, but if someone saw one growing in its own soil, it would be recognized as ‘daisy.’ Maybe you should see what plants are native to Dena Nehele that would look similar to the seeds Cassie brought with her.”
“A flower bed like that would remind her of Dharo but still belong to the place she now calls home,” Daemon said.
“I don’t know what the plants look like,” Gray said.
“Write to Lord Burle,” Daemon replied. “Ask him for descriptions of the plants that come from the seeds Cassie brought with her.”