*When you hunt one kindred, you hunt all kindred. Remember that, because the next time you send a male to hunt down one of us, we will come hunting for you.* Ladvarian paused. *This is what Kaelas does to enemies of kindred.*
Theran felt a surge of power and realized a moment too late that Ladvarian had forced at least one of Kermilla’s inner barriers open, no doubt to show her exactly what that huge white cat could do.
She whimpered and her eyes widened. Then she bent over and vomited.
The dog, damn its heart, put up a shield to keep the kindred from getting splashed as Kermilla heaved, then heaved again.
Ladvarian looked at him. *You are not a friend.*
Beads of sweat popped out on his forehead. He’d stood on killing fields. He’d seen slaughter. But he was certain he had never seen anything that could equal what that white cat would do to a man.
And he was grateful he’d been spared seeing whatever memory had been forced upon Kermilla.
Ladvarian turned and trotted through the closed parlor door. Jaal followed him. When they were gone, that walking white death stared at him a moment longer—and disappeared.
Theran froze. Was Kaelas gone? Or was the cat standing there, sight shielded, waiting for him to move, to become prey?
No sound. Not even breathing. Nothing he could detect.Nothing.
Then the door began to open. Julien peeked into the room. “Prince Grayhaven?”
“How am I going to get it out?” Kermilla whimpered. “How am I going to stopseeing that?”
Theran didn’t move.
Julien pushed the door open and stepped into the room, a distasteful look on his face when he spotted the mess on the carpet. “Prince, I saw—” He gasped and leaped away from the door. “Something just brushed past me.”
It’s gone.Theran closed his eyes.Thank the Darkness, it’s gone.
“I don’t believe our guests will be back,” he said, and almost laughed at how calm he sounded. “I’ll escort the Lady to her room. Can you . . . ?”
Julien looked at the carpet and nodded. “If I can’t get it cleaned sufficiently, I’ll burn the damn thing.”
He put an arm around Kermilla and led her out of the room.
On another day, he would have voiced an opinion about a butler deciding whether or not to destroy a carpet he couldn’t afford to replace. Tonight he didn’t have enough balls left to argue with anyone.
He’d gotten the only warning he would ever get. If those three ever had a reason to come looking for him again, the only sounds he would hear were his own screams.
Daemon lay on his side, facing away from the rest of the bed. When he felt Jaenelle slip under the covers, he pressed his face into the pillow and began chanting silently,Don’t laugh, don’t laugh, don’t laugh.
If he started laughing again, she would kick his ass out of bed.
But, damn, it was hard not to laugh when his darling wife looked like a brightly colored, demented sheep. Not that he would saythat. He knew better. Lucivar didn’t, but he knew better.
Lucivar was sent home with a note from his father explaining to Marian why Lucivarhad to go home before his sister, and Karla, killed him flatter than dead. Whatever that meant.
Jaenelle poked his back with a finger. “I’ll fix it.”
Don’t laugh, don’t laugh, don’t laugh.“I know you will.”
“Tomorrow Karla and I will figure out what went wrong, and we’ll fix it.”
“Uh-huh.” He tried to resist and couldn’t. Damn his curiosity, it was going to get him into trouble. But he rolled onto his back so he could look at her—and had to clench his teeth until he gainedsome control. “I was wondering . . .”
Her sapphire eyes narrowed.
He made a twirling motion with one finger. “How did your hair . . . ?” It wasn’t the splotches of bright pink, blue, and mauve in her golden hair that broke his control. It wasn’t even the streaks of green, which made no sense since they weren’t part of the original spell Karla was trying to fix. It was the fact that the colored hair had also corkscrewed and . . .sproinged . . . out from her head.
Hence Lucivar’s comment about demented sheep.
Laughter bubbled up. Threatened to spill out.
Jaenelle huffed and said something in the Old Tongue that was, no doubt,very rude. “Go to sleep. You’re not going to be good for anything else.”
He blinked. Blinked again. The laughter vanished. He looked at the silly little sheep sitting so foolishly close to him and another kind of amusement swelled inside him. And swelled a particular part of him.
“Was that a challenge?” he purred.
Her eyes widened. She shifted her hips away from him. “No.”
He sat up. “I think it was. I think—”
He pounced. Her squeak of surprise as he pinned her to the bed did all kinds of delightful things to the predatory side of his nature. Even better was the way her breath caught after he vanished her nightgown and used his teeth and tongue to give her br**sts some lavish attention.
He closed his teeth over his favorite spot on her neck, followed by soft kisses.
“Don’t you know that laughter can be an aphrodisiac?” he whispered in her ear.
She shook her head. Brightly colored, corkscrew curls bounced against his nose.
Smiling he raised his head and looked at her. Nerves in those beautiful eyes. Nerves . . . and hot desire.
“Then let me expand your education a little,” he purred.
She said nothing, so he sheathed himself inside her.
He expanded her education a whole lot more than a little, but by the time he was done, they were both too exhausted—and too satisfied—to care.
Gray brushed one fingertip over the globe Tersa had given him.
This is where you are, she’d said.
Not whole. Not fully formed. Not who he could have been.
The fire dance celebrated the Shalador males’ sexual and emotional maturity—and acknowledged their willingness to accept adult responsibilities as well as adult pleasures. Would this dance really make a difference in the way Cassie saw him?
Would it make a difference in the way he saw himself?
When the time comes, accept the fire that lives within you.
Brushing a finger over the globe again, he thought,It’s time. Win or lose, it’s time.
He’d been twenty-two when he’d made the Offering to the Darkness. Something inside him had swelled and pushed at him, demanding release, demanding that he open himself to his mature potential. But he’d been too emotionally damaged to endure that grueling test of Self, and instead of embracing the dark glory that could have been his, he’d fled from it—and had ended up with a Purple Dusk Jewel that was a little darker than his Birthright Purple Dusk.