“Do I need to call in my crossbow to get the details?” she asked.
“I overheard Titian tell Marian that the older girls had been making a fuss about boy stuff just so the younger girls would think they knew about something interesting, and it was all a big tease.”
“Oh, dear.” She bit her lower lip and told herself to behave. Then she thought, Ah, shit, he deserves this. “Jaenelle has been doing a lot of thinking about the day she saw your boy stuff.”
“Is she upset?” Lucivar asked with a hint of alarm.
“Noooo. But she did come to a different conclusion than Titian. Jaenelle Saetien has decided that, for the most part, boy stuff is not interesting and it looks funny when it wiggles.”
He made a pained sound, but since he was managing to keep a straight face, she went on. “However, she also concluded that when someone is special, his stuff becomes special too. Like, your stuff becomes special when you’re around Auntie Marian. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have let you help her make the baby.”
She felt him shake. She wasn’t sure if he was about to start laughing hysterically or just become hysterical.
“Having come to that conclusion about her darling uncle Lucivar—”
“—she has decided the same must be true of her darling papa. He’s shyer than you so she hasn’t been able to confirm that, but she’s certain it’s true because Daemon is her papa and he’s wonderful.”
“Mother Night.” Lucivar swallowed hard. “What did Daemon say?”
“He doesn’t know about this yet. She decided that he’s been so nervous about the party we’re having after the Ceremony it wasn’t the time to tell him about her conclusions regarding boy stuff.”
“Then why in the name of Hell did you tell me?”
“Because one of these days he’s going to be standing at your door looking like he’d gotten kicked in the head, and I thought you should have some idea about why so you can comfort him.”
“Why can’t you comfort him?”
“Because, sugar, I tend to agree with her—especially when boy stuff wiggles.”
He walked away, weaving a little. Within moments, Marian came up to her, the baby asleep on her shoulder.
“I want to know what you said to put that look on his face,” Marian said. “I think it will come in handy someday.”
“Oh, don’t worry. You have a daughter too. I’m sure you’ll see that look again.”
Marian laughed softly as she rubbed the baby’s back, but her eyes remained serious. “Are you concerned about today? About Jaenelle?”
“A little. I don’t care what Jewels she wears. Neither does Daemon. But I should have sensed something at this point, should have some idea of what Jewel Jaenelle will wear, and I don’t. Based on how quickly she picks up basic—and not-so-basic—Craft, she should be strong enough to need a reservoir for her power.”
“Daemon isn’t sensing anything either?”
Surreal shook her head. “I wear the Gray; Daemon wears the Black. If her power is so weak she comes away from the Ceremony without a Jewel ...”
“She’ll feel like an outsider within her own family,” Marian concluded. “Especially because Titian wears Birthright Summer-sky and Daemonar wears the Green.”
Surreal shivered at the thought. Wasn’t that how so many things had gone wrong with Jaenelle Angelline’s life? She had been the outsider in her family, with her special friends and abilities no one had wanted to understand until Saetan had recognized her as the daughter of his soul.
Well, Jaenelle Saetien was never going to feel like an outsider whether she wore a Jewel or not.
“You look so fierce,” Marian said. “Where did you go?”
“Nowhere. Too far.” She tried to smile. “Daemon is going through the steps with Jaenelle. Want to make a bet on who is lecturing who?”
“Do you remember—,” Daemon began.
“I remember!” Jaenelle huffed out a breath. “Papa! We’ve gone over this forever-many times!”
He went down on one knee to be closer to her. “I know, but—”
“Papa!” She cat-puffed and jumped back. “Don’t put your knee on the ground. You’ll get dirty! Stand up!”
He obeyed. She immediately closed in on him and began whacking at his knee to clean off flecks of dirt.
“We have to stay neat and tidy because this is an important day,” Jaenelle said.
She gave him a narrow-eyed look to see if he was making fun of her. Then she got a look in her eyes that was much too old for her young years—and scared the shit out of him.
“You’re afraid, aren’t you?” she asked.
Terrified, actually. “A little.”
She grabbed his hand in both of hers and gave him a sweet smile. “Don’t worry, Papa. Everything will be fine. I already know what Jewel I’m supposed to pick. My friend told me.”
His stomach lurched. There had been no mention of the special friend over the past few weeks. “Witch-child, you can’t choose a Jewel just because you like its color.”
“Tch. I know that. I know all this stuff, Papa.” She looked past him. “I’m supposed to stand with the other children now, and you’re supposed to stand with Mama.”
She hauled him over to where Surreal stood with Marian, then ran off to join the other children who were going through the Ceremony.
Marian looked at him, then looked at Surreal and sighed. “I’ll pay you later.” She wandered off.
“Problem?” Surreal asked.
“Apparently, it’s now your responsibility to keep me neat and tidy,” he replied dryly. “And if you’re going to place bets about me, do I get a share of the winnings?”
She gave him a sharp smile. “No.”
His heart raced and the need to move was almost unbearable. But he stood still because he wasn’t willing to let anyone know how much effort it was taking to stay in control and appear no more anxious than any other father waiting to be told his fate with regard to his child.
Surreal slipped her arm through his. Then she looked at the children and sighed. “She’s at the end of the line.”
“Maybe we should have had a private Ceremony,” he muttered.
“You’re the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan. Even if she had been the only child acquiring a Birthright Jewel today, it wouldn’t have been a private Ceremony.”