And no one was ballsy enough to remind her. Including him.

The third warning was Daemon’s note to Draca, asking the Keep’s Seneschal to accommodate several overnight guests.

Saetan wanted to believe the meeting was being held at the Keep to accommodate Lucivar, who still felt uneasy about leaving Marian on her own for too long. But when the others began to arrive, he knew why Jaenelle had chosen the Keep: It was the Sanctuary—and lair—of Witch.

Jaenelle and Daemon arrived first. She wore a cobwebby, spidersilk dress known as Widow’s weeds, and her Jewel was mostly Gray with streaks of Red and Sapphire—and a single thread of Black. Daemon wore a face that revealed nothing of his thoughts or feelings. He wasn’t there as Jaenelle’s husband or Consort or as the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan. He was in that room as the Queen’s weapon.

Lucivar walked in. “Cat, what’s this—” He looked at Daemon’s face and didn’t finish the question.

Sabrina came in next, tense and nervous, followed by Aaron, Morghann, and Khardeen.

Four of Jaenelle’s childhood friends,Saetan thought as he watched Sabrina greet the others.Four people who had served in Witch’s First Circle. Will they still be friends when this discussion is over?

Jaenelle sat on a half sofa across from several chairs. Daemon sat beside her, his right arm stretched out over the sofa’s back, looking calm and lazy.

Saetan watched the way Lucivar prowled the room without ever turning his back to Daemon and felt a shiver of fear.

The women sat. Aaron and Khardeen remained on their feet, tense and alert.

Then Karla walked into the room.

“Kiss kiss. Sorry I’m late.” She made her way to the chair closest to Saetan’s. “I was trying to undo an . . . incident . . . that turned a large white cat into a bright pink and blue cat.”

A flash of warm humor from Jaenelle flowed through the room. “Did you fix it?”

“When I left, KaeAskavi was an evenly tinted mauve cat—and he wasnot happy.”

That produced a few chuckles, but the humor quickly faded as all their attention focused on Jaenelle.

“I received a letter from Cassidy yesterday,” she said. “I felt you should all know what happened and that we should come to an agreement about what will—and will not—be done.”

She called in the letter and handed it to Daemon. Lucivar immediately came around to the back of the sofa to read over his brother’s shoulder.

Daemon read the letter and handed it to Khardeen. That beautiful face revealed nothing, and there was nothing Saetan could detect on a psychic thread, even at the level of the Black. Daemon had his emotions tightly leashed.

But the room grew cold.

Lucivar, on the other hand, began swearing softly, viciously in Eyrien as he resumed his prowling.

Hot anger. Cold fury. The room filled with temper as, one by one, the friends who had been First Circle in the Dark Court at Ebon Askavi read Cassidy’s letter. Finally Karla read it and passed it to him as he called in his half-moon glasses.

How many times did Cassidy write that letter before she achieved sentences that were so carefully honest? She didn’t accuse anyone of anything. She didn’t offer opinions or feelings. She didn’t report anything that hadn’t been witnessed. She didn’tsay Kermilla had given the order, but there wasn’t a single person in the room who couldn’t read between the lines. The only break from that control was Cassidy’s excessive assurances that Khollie was still a little frightened because of the incident but they were confident that he would recover completely.

Which meant there had been some doubt that Khollie would recover at all.

“What in the name of Hell is going on there?” Khary said.

“This wasn’t Cassie’s fault,” Aaron snapped, instantly ready to defend his cousin.

“I didn’t say it was,” Khary snapped back. “But something should be done.”

“Nothing will be done,” Jaenelle said quietly. “At least, not by us.”

Daemon stiffened. Nothing anyone else would notice, but Saetan had been keeping a wary eye on him and saw the change.

He knows something. Or suspects something. But his tongue, like his temper, is held by the Queen’s will, and he’ll tell us nothing.

“What is Kermilla still doing in Dena Nehele anyway?” Sabrina snarled.

“You were aware she had gone to visit Cassidy?” Jaenelle asked.

“And aware of her mistreatment of a servant while she was a guest there. Believe me, that will weigh heavily in my decision about whether she’s going to continue rulinganything in my Territory.” Sabrina paced back and forth behind the chairs. “But that happened in early summer. We’re into the autumn harvest now. What’s she still doing there?”

“Causing more trouble?” Khary suggested.

“Khary,” Morghann said in quiet warning.

“Don’t hush him, Morghann, he’s right,” Sabrina said. “Kermilla has no business being there, and it’s past time to go to Dena Nehele and haul the bitch’s ass home.”

“No,” Saetan said. “You can’t take action outside of your own Territory, Sabrina. That line was drawn thousands of years ago, and it does not—cannot—change.”Because that was the line Dorothea and Hekatah crossed in their efforts to take control of the whole Realm of Terreille. As much as I love all of you, for the good of the Realms and the Blood, I will kill any one of you who tries to cross that line.

He glanced at Jaenelle and saw the way Witch looked at him. Looked through him.

And if it came to that, she would expect me to do nothing less.“Besides,” he continued. “Kermilla is, and has been, Theran Grayhaven’s guest these past few weeks, not Cassidy’s. If the Queen of Dena Nehele wants Kermilla out of her Territory, it’s up to her to take care of it—and her First Circle has the strength to do it without help.”

“Cassidy’s too polite,” Sabrina snapped at him, then turned to Jaenelle. “They have a history. You know that.”

Jaenelle’s sapphire eyes held Sabrina. A moment passed. Two.

Saetan wished fiercely that he was privy to that psychic thread and knew what passed between the two women. Becausesomething had surprised Sabrina enough to drain the Dharo Queen’s temper.

“Are you asking me to be blind to what’s happening?” Sabrina asked.

“Outside of your own borders, yes,” Jaenelle replied. Then her lips curved in a sharp, chilly smile. “Would I ask you to be blind to what’s happening within your own borders? Never.” She considered. “Almost never.”

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