Especially himself.

Daemon opened the Coach door, and they both rocked back from the emotions flooding from the eyrie above them.

“Can you deal with him?” Jaenelle asked.

“I’ll deal.”

She left the Coach and raced up the stairs. He stayed a couple of steps behind her so he wouldn’t trip her. She ran past Lucivar, who was standing in the flagstone courtyard in front of the eyrie—standing so perfectly still, as if even a deep breath might shatter him.

Daemon approached his brother slowly, cautiously. “Lucivar.”

Lucivar continued to stare straight ahead, but one tear slipped down his face.

Daemon did a fast psychic probe of the eyrie and surrounding land. Marian and Nurian, the Eyrien Healer, were inside with Jaenelle. But the other two people he’d expected to find were missing. *Father?* he called on a Black spear thread.

*Daemonar is with me at the Keep,* Saetan said. *Take care of Lucivar.*

*Done.* Knowing the boy was safe, he focused once again on his brother. “Lucivar?”

“Miscarriage.” Lucivar’s voice broke. “We lost the baby.”

Mother Night.“I’m sorry.”

Daemon brushed a finger over Lucivar’s shoulder, an offer of contact with no expectations. A moment later, he was holding on to a sobbing man.

“Is it my fault, Daemon?” Lucivar asked. “Is it my fault?”

“How could it be?” Daemon stroked Lucivar’s hair and added another layer to the soothing spells he was wrapping around his brother.

“Sh-she got pregnant during the rut. You know what we’re like during that time.You know. Maybe I damaged her inside. Maybe . . .”

“Shh.” Daemon rocked him gently. Rocked and soothed. He had a feeling Saetan was doing much the same thing with a frightened little boy. “Shh.”

He wouldn’t let Lucivar say it, wouldn’t let Lucivar keep thinking that. But it was possible, and they both knew it. That was part of the pain. Until Nurian—or more to the point, Jaenelle—said otherwise, it was a possibility.

The tears finally eased, but Lucivar still clung to him. Since he was facing the eyrie, he saw Jaenelle first.

“Prick,” he whispered.

Lucivar straightened up, wiped his eyes, and turned toward her. Jaenelle studied Lucivar. “If you’ve been out here grieving, that’s fine. If you’ve been out here blaming yourself, you’re going to piss off your wife as well as your sister.”

“Cat . . . ?” Lucivar looked so vulnerable.

“There was nothing you had done before—or could have done now—to change this,” Jaenelle said gently. “The babe didn’t form right. It couldn’t survive, so Marian’s body released it. A simple and natural thing, despite how much the heart hurts because of it.”

“Marian?” Daemon asked.

“She’ll be fine in every way,” Jaenelle said, still looking at Lucivar. “She needs to rest for a few days—and she needs to grieve without feeling that you see her grief as a kind of blame. Marian lost a baby tonight. So did you.” She turned her head toward the eyrie. “Nurian has everything cleaned up. Go be with your wife, Lucivar. She needs you.”

Lucivar hesitated. Then he gently touched Jaenelle’s cheek and went into the eyrie.

Daemon slipped an arm around her waist. “Did you tell him the truth?”

She gave him a puzzled look. “Why would I tell him anything else?”

“To spare him if he was responsible for the miscarriage.”

The air around them chilled. “A smart man wouldn’t call a Healer a liar,” she said too softly.

“A smart man also knows that Healers sometimes lie.” He looked in her eyes and waited.

“Healers sometimes lie,” Jaenelle acknowledged. “But not this time. Blaming himself for something that wasn’t his fault and wasn’t anything he could have changed is an indulgence his wife and son can’t afford. Neither can he. If you can’t help him see that, his father will.”

Interesting. Especially since she sounded absolutely sure of that.

Nurian walked out of the eyrie, looking tired. “I have a healing brew simmering on the stove. Needs another ten minutes.”

“I can finish it,” Jaenelle said.

“I took the linens,” Nurian said, lowering her voice. “Marian asked if I could get them cleansed, but . . .”

Jaenelle shook her head. “A Black Widow might be able to cleanse the psychic residue out of the cloth enough to be acceptable to Marian, but no one is going to be able to cleanse those linens enough for Lucivar to tolerate. We’ll get them replaced.”

“I thought that would be the way of it.” Nurian paused. “Should I wake Jillian and send her to the Keep to watch Daemonar?”

“Let her sleep. It would be better to have her help later in the morning when the High Lord needs to rest. You get some rest too. We’ll be here to look after them.”

“All right. I’ll be back in the morning.”

Spreading her wings, Nurian flew to the eyrie she shared with her younger sister.

“I’d better keep an eye on that brew.” Jaenelle gave Daemon a quick kiss and walked into the eyrie.

He was still standing outside an hour later when Surreal showed up.

“I heard, more or less,” she said as she climbed the last stair and joined him in the courtyard. “So who needs to be babied and who needs to be bullied?”

“What did you hear?”

“Something is wrong with Marian. Lucivar is distraught. Daemonar is staying with Uncle Saetan.” Surreal hooked her hair behind one ear. “And you’re in trouble, by the way. Mostly forgiven because it was clear you had left your brains somewhere between the bedroom and the landing web and couldn’t be relied on right now.”

He stiffened. “I beg your pardon?”

“Apparently there are rules when there is a family crisis. You broke the rules.”

“I wasn’t aware of any,” he said coldly.

“Uh-huh. Uncle Saetan is, and after you arrived here, he contacted Beale, and Beale then informed Mrs. Beale of where you were and why. Rainier is on his way, but he has to wait for the first round of food Mrs. Beale has prepared. Chaosti is also on his way, but he’ll stop at the Hall for whatever wasn’t ready when Rainier headed out.”

Hell’s fire. Was any of that supposed to make sense? “Surreal.” “Don’t snarl at me. You’re the one who pissed off your cook by not telling her there was a family emergency and asking her to prepare food so none of us needed to think about that.”

Tags: Anne Bishop The Black Jewels Science Fiction