It wasn’t the table exploding that upset him. It was the uniformity of the debris that was proof of the depth of her rage. And that rage, and whatever blend of power she had been channeling through Twilight’s Dawn at that moment, had been strong enough to crack his outermost Black shield.

That was something he needed to talk to Lucivar about.Soon.

“You were wrapped in a double Black shield,” Jaenelle said. “I didn’t think you would get hurt.”

“That’s not the point.” Now that he’d gotten over the shock of it, her slash of temper was starting to piss him off. But he leashed that because there had to be a reason for this. Jaenelle didn’t explode like that as some kind of twisted entertainment. And the strength of her reaction got him thinking.

He rubbed his forehead to ease the headache building behind his eyes, then shifted and turned so he was close to her.

“Queens lose men or courts to rivals all the time. And even though Cassidy is a friend and losing her court did leave her bruised, that doesn’t equal your rage. If Cassidy doesn’t have enough spine to tell Kermilla to take a piss in the wind, then she’d better acquire some. From everything Surreal and Rainier told me, her court is becoming a solid team committed to their Queen.”

“All of them?” Jaenelle asked softly.

“Except Theran Grayhaven.” He brushed fingertips over her shoulder. “Jaenelle, what aren’t you telling me?”

Those sapphire eyes studied him. “There is nothing you can do about this. Neither of us have any right to interfere in this. Is that understood?”

Oh, he didn’t like the sound of that. “Maybe.”

“I spun a tangled web after Cassidy discovered the treasure in the Grayhaven attics. I wasn’t going to share what I saw with anyone, but I owe you that as an explanation for how I reacted.”

Sweet Darkness. A tangled web. Dreams and visions.

“All right.”

“Dena Nehele is going to fall.”

He closed his eyes. Why now, when they had survived everything Dorothea SaDiablo had done to them? “Because Kermilla went there?”

“More because Kermilla is still there.”

“I can bury the bitch,” he said too softly, opening his eyes to stare into hers. “I’ll go to Terreille, no matter the price, and bury the bitch if that’s what you want. Or I’ll let Surreal go. She’d be willing.”

“No.” Her fingers brushed through his hair, soothing. “It’s up to them now. Their decisions. Their choices. Sorrow and joy, Daemon. There is sorrow and joy in what I saw.”

How can there be joy?But he trusted her, and if she said there could be joy in Dena Nehele’s fall, he would believe her.

“So there is nothing we can do for them,” he said, making it a statement rather than a question.

“We can’t interfere with another Queen’s Territory. That would violate Blood law and our code of honor. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do. In fact, I’ve already helped make arrangements for a couple of things.”

“How is that different from interfering?”

“In the first instance, I gave only the help requested by someone living in Dena Nehele. In the second, I’m simply making available something I think Cassie and her court will find useful. What they do with the material is up to them.”

“That sounds intriguing.” He looked at the food on the tray. “Why don’t we eat the soup while it’s hot, and you can tell me all about it?”



“Prince Theran,” Dryden said. “There are some Ladies here to see the Queen.”

Theran tried to relax his jaw. He’d spent the morning gritting his teeth as he waded through all the crap the Steward should be doing. He was going to have to hire someone to deal with the paperwork—and complaints—until he could get a new court established. Of course, hiring someone meant paying wages, and he still had to figure out how much income he would get from the tithe and what part of that was already committed to paying the guards who protected the town and its citizens. Now that Cassidy was no longer in residence, he also had to figure out if the servants could be paid out of the tithe or if he’d have to pay their wages out of the Grayhaven inheritance.

“What Ladies?” he growled. “Why are they here to see Kermilla?”

“They are Queens. They do not wish to offer their names or where they live, and as a courtesy to them, I did not press for that information. They said they received a letter from Lady Cassidy about some Craft the Queens can do to help increase the harvest. She offered to teach them.”

Hell’s fire. “Well, tell them . . .”

An opportunity. A chance for the other Queens to meet Kermilla—and a chance for Kermilla to show the Queens and, through them, the Warlord Princes that she had as much, if not more, to offer the people of Dena Nehele as Cassidy.

“Tell them Lady Kermilla and I will join them shortly.” Theran pushed away from the desk and the nagging paperwork.

He found Kermilla in the parlor, playing cards with Jhorma and two of the escorts.

“Oh,la. You must be cheating, Jhorma,” Kermilla said, throwing down her cards.

“I’m not cheating,” Jhorma replied with tight courtesy.

“You must be! I haven’t won anything in the last six hands!”

After playing cards with them a couple of times, Theran realized Jhorma cheated in order to ensure shedid win a few hands. The man must not be in an accommodating mood today.

“Kermilla, I need your help for an hour or so,” Theran said, glad he could offer an interruption. A display of bad temper was exactly what they didn’t need with other Queens in the mansion.

“I might as well help you,” Kermilla said, leaving the table. “Jhorma isn’t beingany fun.”

Good,Theran thought. He wasn’t sure how to approach a Queen to find out if she wanted to have sex, but if her Consort wasn’t entertaining her sufficiently, Kermilla might be receptive to another man’s interest.

She slipped her arm through his as he led her from the room. “Are we going to a party or one of those quaint outdoor concerts?” Her laugh tinkled through the hallway. “I don’t mean to make fun but,la, the musicians aren’t very good.”

He tried not to wince. There wasn’t much in the town that could entertain a vivacious young woman who was used to finer amusements. Since Cassidy had been so keen to attend one of the outdoor concerts, he’d figured Kermilla would enjoy going to one.