Yes, you do, Daemon thought. Making a choice, he brushed lightly against Lucivar’s inner barriers, asking to enter his brother’s mind.

Lucivar hesitated a moment, then opened all his inner barriers, giving Daemon access to everything he was. Leaving himself completely vulnerable.

Daemon moved carefully and went deep because what he was about to give his brother was information that had to be kept secret.

When he reached the most protected part of Lucivar’s mind, he offered two images: Saetan’s memory of a tangled web that turned dreams into flesh, and his own memory of the Misty Place and a spiraling web of power—the power Witch had chosen to give up in order to have a more ordinary life.

“Mother Night,” Lucivar whispered, his eyes widening. “Then the power is still there.”

“It’s still there.”

“Could she claim it again?”

Didn’t Lucivar understand?

“Could she survive if something pushed her into claiming it again?” Lucivar asked.

“I don’t know if her body can still be a vessel for that much power. I think she could reclaim it . . . but I don’t think she would survive very long.” He swallowed hard. “That’s why I’m going to make sure she never has to make that choice.”

Lucivar gave his shoulders a friendly squeeze. “We’re going to make sure she never has to make that choice.”

Of course.

Daemon huffed out a laugh that also held a few tears. “I love you, Prick.”

“I love you too, Bastard.” Lucivar stepped back and rolled his shoulders. “We’re going to camp here today and keep an eye on him? Make sure he really is stable when he wakes up?”

“Yes.”

“So let’s send a message to the scary little witch so she stops being scary, and then see what we can find to eat.”

Neither of them would shake off the past hour quite that easily, but Daemon felt some of the weight slide off his shoulders. He smiled and slipped his hands in his trouser pockets. “Let’s do that.”

CHAPTER 28

TERREILLE

With his ears still ringing from Gray’s yappy list of instructions, Theran knocked on Cassidy’s door. He hoped she’d still be taking a bath or otherwise occupied, so he’d have a little more time to figure out what to say, but she opened the door before he decided to knock a second time.

“Prince Theran.”

Wary. Surprised to see him. And the look in her eyes told him plain enough that she remembered the other time he’d come knocking.

“May I come in?”

Hesitation. Then she stepped aside to let him enter her sitting room.

Who was with her? Not that it was any of his business. He was First Escort, not Consort, and the Queen could command the attention of any man in her court.

Except it would kill Gray if Cassidy had taken another lover.

“Am I intruding?” he asked when he heard some movement in her bedroom.

Her look said Of course you are, but she replied, “Not at all.”

Which was when Vae nudged the bedroom door open and joined them.

“Just females here?”

“Gray isn’t here, if that’s what you’re asking.” Her voice had a snippy edge to it.

He knew that defensive tone. He’d used it enough times in his youth when Talon had called him on something and he’d tried to slide around admitting he’d done something he wasn’t supposed to do.

What did she think he was going to do if she was with Gray? Go running to the Keep to tell Yaslana so he could storm down here and pound on everyone?

Maybe that’s exactly what she thought. They had to work to get along on their best days, and he had given her enough reasons to dislike him. But getting into an argument now would end with her stomping out to the garden, and that wouldn’t make Gray happy.

Theran scratched his head and resisted the temptation to pull out some hair. “Look, it’s like this. Gray is putting together a surprise for you, and my part of the task is to keep you occupied for a few hours.”

Her face tightened, the pleasure of learning Gray was planning a surprise gone before it had been fully realized. She took a step back.

He almost asked why she was acting that way when he considered what he’d said and where they were.

“Not that way,” he growled.

“That’s good, because the sun will shine in Hell before that happens.”

She didn’t need to be so vehement about it. He gave a good accounting of himself in bed.

He bristled. Before he said something about the amount of work a man had to do in bed being in direct proportion to the attractiveness of his partner, he remembered why he’d come to Cassidy’s suite to begin with.

“I thought we could go into town—not for an official visit or anything like that, but to . . . I don’t know . . . shop . . . or whatever females do.”

“ ‘Whatever females do’? Haven’t you ever spent an afternoon with a girl when you didn’t want sex?”

His temper slipped the leash, and he didn’t try very hard to rein it in. “I grew up in the rogue camps in the Tamanara Mountains, not in some comfortable village where girls flirt with boys in order to have a packhorse for the afternoon’s shopping.”

“Girls don’t need packhorses, you brainless ass,” Cassidy snapped. “We’re perfectly capable of carrying our own packages. You’d know that if you spent any time talking to women.”

“There weren’t many women in those camps, and there certainly weren’t fancy shops. We were there to fight, to protect Dena Nehele, to escape being enslaved by a Ring of Obedience and made useless to our people. So I don’t have town manners, Lady. I didn’t need them in the mountains, and Talon didn’t waste time teaching me anything I didn’t need.”

He saw her effort to pull back, to assess. And he saw something he hadn’t expected—and didn’t want: pity.

“My apologies, Prince Theran,” Cassidy said quietly. “I didn’t realize you had such a difficult life.”

“I had a good life,” Theran snapped. “I survived. A lot of men didn’t.”

He took a mental step back, regaining control of his temper with effort. They didn’t like each other. So be it. He didn’t care if she understood him. Gray was stupid in love with her, and there was nothing he could do about it. He had to tolerate her as best he could because Gray and that damn contract with Sadi chained him to her.

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