“And Gray?” Daemon asked.
“Second Circle,” she said.
Anger still smeared the room, but it no longer had heat or teeth.
“So that’s it then,” Aaron said.
“Not quite. I received this letter from Cassidy a couple of days ago, before the attempted abduction,” Jaenelle said. She called in another letter and handed it to Khary.
By the time Khary got halfway through the first page, his mouth was hanging open. “Payment for work?They’re getting paid to herd sheep? ”
“Three coppers a day,” Jaenelle said cheerfully. “Wynne and Duffy are also maintaining the spells on the cold boxes and hot water tanks for the landen community and get three coppers a week for each household.”
Since Khary seemed frozen, Aaron snagged the second page. “Oh, Mother Night. Two of them are working in a children’s play area.”
Sabrina snorted, then had to call in a handkerchief to blow her nose.
Morghann twisted in her chair so she could read the other side of the page. “They call Lloyd and Kief the silver twins. And the boys are working in the stables. That’s good. They like horses.”
“I guess I understand the Scelties wanting to learn about being paid for work, but what are they going to do with the money?” Daemon said. “Save up their coppers to buy their own little steading and a small flock of sheep?”
Morghann and Jaenelle looked at Daemon. Just looked at him. And then they smiled.
Lucivar caught Khary before he landed on the floor, and Saetan watched Daemon—his brilliant, lethal son—turn pale. Probably at the thought of someday having to negotiate a business deal with a Sceltie.
*Coward,* Saetan said on a Black spear thread.
Daemon gave him a sideways look.
“It’s not that bizarre,” Jaenelle said. “Ladvarian and I own the little cottage and acreage where he trains other Scelties.”
“What?” Khary yelped.
“What?” Daemon whispered.
Jaenelle looked at Khary. “I thought you knew that. Morghann, didn’t you know that?”
“I did, yes,” Morghann replied. “But it seemed best not to mention that bit of paperwork.”
Jaenelle patted Daemon’s thigh. “Ladvarian and I have owned that property since before you and I got married, so I never thought to mention it. Besides, having that place is so much better than having a dozen Scelties living with us whenever we’re in Maghre.”
“Yes, that’s so much better.” Daemon looked a little woozy.
“The relationship between Scelties and humans is too well established in Scelt,” Morghann said. “And not all Scelties want to change the relationship they already have with humans. But in a new land, there would be opportunities the Scelties couldn’t explore as easily here.”
Everyone looked around the room without quite looking at one another.
“Are we done?” Karla asked Jaenelle. “Because if we’re done, I’d like some help in figuring out how to turn a mauve cat back into a white cat.”
“Draca is serving a late supper in about an hour,” Saetan said.
“That should be enough time,” Jaenelle said.
For what?Saetan wondered. But it wasn’t a question he would ask because his darling girls might tell him.
The Ladies left the room, leaving the men to collapse into chairs, not sure if they should be scared or pissed off, or should laugh like fools.
The room held nothing but a blissful, and exhausted, silence for several minutes.
“Can you stay for supper?” Daemon asked Lucivar.
“No choice,” Lucivar growled. “Marian said if I want to stay married, I’m going to stay out for the whole evening.”
“You have been a bit too possessive lately.”
“Maybe. She says she’s fine.”
“What does the Healer say?”
“Nurian also says Marian is fine, so she’s fine. Everyone is supposed to be fine. Well, I’mnot fine. She scared the shit out of me with that miscarriage.” Lucivar snarled. “Next thing she’ll be wanting sex again.”
“They do that,” Aaron said sympathetically while Khary nodded. “They do.”
“Well, then . . .” Saetan began.
They all straightened up and looked toward the door.
“What was that?” Daemon asked.
“Sounded like something blew up,” Lucivar replied. “What kind of spell were the girls trying to fix?”
They all looked at him.
“No,” Saetan said firmly. “If you want to find out, you go ahead. I am not leaving this room.”
The other four men looked at one another.
Daemon held out his hand. “We’ve got some time before supper. Let me see that letter again.”
Having exhausted his patience for card playing, Theran left Kermilla sulking over a hand of solitaire and noticed the Sceltie standing perfectly still near the parlor door.
He moved toward the dog. “Vae?”
No, not Vae. Same coloring but different markings, and a sense of maturity—and power.
He saw the Red Jewel at the same time Kermilla spotted the dog and hurried toward him, clapping her hands in delight.
“Oh,Theran. You got me a Sceltie.”
She took another step. The dog bared his teeth and snarled.
Kermilla shook her finger. “Bad dog!”
Something more than the Sceltie snarled, and the sound filled the room.
*I am Lord Ladvarian,* the Sceltie said, staring at Kermilla. *This is Prince Jaal.*
A large brown cat with black stripes suddenly appeared on Ladvarian’s right, dwarfing the Sceltie. If the cat had the strength that body implied, it could pull down a full-grown horse or cow without any trouble.
He didn’t want to think about what it could do to a man.
Then he noticed the Green Jewel around the cat’s neck and acknowledged the title his mind wanted to deny.Prince Jaal. A Warlord Prince who wore a Jewel equal to his own and had a body he couldn’t match for strength or speed.
*And this is Prince Kaelas,* Ladvarian said.
Theran’s bowels turned to water. The white cat now standing on Ladvarian’s left washuge. Even the striped cat looked small in comparison.
Worse, Kaelas wore a Red Jewel.
The Sceltie was focused on Kermilla. The cats were focused onhim, and he knew, with absolute certainty, that if anything went wrong now, he had no chance of surviving.
*You hurt Khollie,* Ladvarian told Kermilla.
“No, I just—”