“Just relax,” Jaenelle said. “I’m almost done. By tomorrow you’ll be your usual wonderful self, and if you can remember that you’re a grown-up, you should be able to get through the last day of your nephew’s visit without doing any more damage to yourself.”

Her hands glided over his back, more a caress than a Healer’s touch.

“You’re not relaxing,” she said.

“I’m very relaxed,” Daemon purred. Most of him, anyway. He’d been sore enough that he hadn’t focused on anything besides not hurting. Now he was aware of a few other things.

“No, you’re not.”

He heard the concern in her voice. That meant she was looking at him as a Healer and not a woman—and he wanted the woman’s attention.

“Sweetheart, you’re sitting on my ass. There are parts of me that find that very interesting and don’t want to relax yet.”

“I am not sitting on your ass,” Jaenelle huffed. “I’m straddling you to work on your back.”

“You’re close enough that I can tell you’re not wearing anything under that shift, so I call that sitting.”

“And you can tell what I’m not wearing because . . . ?”

“When you brush against me, it tickles.”

A too-thoughtful pause. “You’re awfully sassy all of a sudden.”

“Blame it on my beautiful wife.”

“Boyo, I don’t think your back will take what you have in mind.”

“Then I’ll just roll over. Since you’re already straddling me, you can give us both a ride.”

She snorted out a laugh. “You’re such a romantic when you’re exhausted, but I’ll take you up on your offer. Just to help you relax completely, of course.”

“Of course.”

“Hold still for another minute.”

Her hands glided over his back, the warm, sensuous caress of a lover.

Jaenelle Angelline. The living myth. Dreams made flesh. The former Queen of Ebon Askavi. And his wife. His wonderful, longed-for wife.

“Daemon?”

In another minute he would roll over and touch her body. He would use a psychic thread to link with her, mind to mind, and consummate their lovemaking with more than his body, touching her in ways he had never touched another woman.

“Daemon?”

He could picture her fair-skinned hands gliding over his golden brown chest as she sheathed him in silky fire.

In just another min . . .

EBON ASKAVI

Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, former Warlord Prince of Dhemlan and still the High Lord of Hell, set aside the current stack of books he was sorting in the restricted part of the Keep’s library, leaned against the large blackwood table, and watched the son who was a mirror prowl restlessly around the room.

Not physically a mirror. Not quite. They had the same thick, black hair and gold eyes—although his hair now held wings of silver at the temples. They had the brown skin of the long-lived races, but Daemon’s skin was a golden brown—more Dhemlan than Hayllian in color.

He had always been considered handsome. Daemon, on the other hand, was beautiful and moved with a feline grace that drew the eye and aroused the senses.

The foolish lusted after that body, forgetting that the man inside the skin was a powerful predator with a cold, killing temper.

Which made him wonder about the reason for this visit.

“You’re here early,” Saetan said.

“Went to sleep early, got up early,” Daemon replied.

Back and forth. Ceaseless movement. If it was Lucivar, he wouldn’t think twice about the prowl. But Daemon?

Daemon stopped moving and stared at the wall. “I think there’s something wrong with me.”

Fear clamped around Saetan’s heart, but he asked calmly, “In what way?”

A few weeks ago, Theran Grayhaven came to Kaeleer and asked Daemon for help. Disturbed by the physical resemblance between Theran and his old friend Jared, Daemon had slipped into painful memories, confusing the past with the present. No one had known there were deep emotional scars connected to the years after Daemon helped Jared and Lia elude Dorothea’s guards. No one had suspected there was anything wrong—until Daemon attacked Jaenelle.

Since that night, Daemon was quick to hone his temper when anyone questioned his mental or emotional stability, so the subject had to be approached with caution.

He understood that. When the witch Vulchera had tried to compromise Daemon’s honor by playing her particular brand of blackmail games, something had snapped inside ofhim, and he’d slid into the Twisted Kingdom where his rage had found an insane and terrible clarity. It wasn’t the snap and slide that had disturbed the family; it was the deliberate way he had executed the bitch that had scared them.

So the whole family was still feeling a bit raw—and Lucivar going into rut so soon after didn’t help.

“In what way?” he asked again.

Daemon turned to face him. “I’m only seventeen hundred years old. I’ve been married for a year to the woman I love with everything in me—a woman I’ve waitedcenturies to be with. So when that woman indicates she wants to make love with me, I shouldnot be falling asleep between the thought and the deed!”

Relief made Saetan’s knees weak—and he needed every drop of his fifty thousand years of self-discipline and control to keep a straight face.

“Lucivar is in rut,” he said.

“I know that,” Daemon replied, sounding as if he’d like to whack his brother’s head against a wall a few times because of it.

“Who is looking after Daemonar?”

Daemon frowned. “He’s staying at the Hall with us. I thought you knew that.”

“I’m aware of where he’s staying. Who is looking after him?”

Daemon shifted his weight from one foot to the other. In and of itself, it was an insignificant movement—except thatDaemon had done it, and Daemon rarely showed any sign of uncertainty.

“I am, for the most part. Well, Hell’s fire, Jaenelle can’t hold the leash on that little beast.”

Of course she could,Saetan thought. Even now, when she no longer had the abundance of physical energy she used to have, Jaenelle was probably one of the few people whocould keep up with a small Eyrien boy. Not to mention that Daemonar loved his Auntie J, sensed on some level that she couldn’t take rough play, and now had his young Warlord Prince instincts tugging at him to protect the Queen.

“Holt is also taking shifts watching the boy,” Daemon added.

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