Surreal raised her hands. Jaenelle walked the distance between them and took the hand he held out to her. Even though his hand closed around the child’s, his eyes never left the woman’s.
*She’s yours now,* Surreal said on a psychic Gray thread.
*Let’s hear you say that the next time she asks an ‘interesting’ question.*
He huffed out a quiet laugh. *Smart-ass.*
That made her smile.
“Well,” Daemon said, as he led Jaenelle back to the rest of the family. “Let’s finish up here so we can go to the estate and have our party.”
“We can’t go yet,” Jaenelle protested. “We have to wait for my Jewel!”
“Witch-child . . .”
Jaenelle and Tersa turned at the same moment, looked in the same direction. Jaenelle pulled away from him and ran off. Before he could take off after her, Tersa froze him in place with three words.
“She has come.”
He stared at his mother, a Black Widow who walked the roads of the Twisted Kingdom. She had changed his life centuries ago with those same three words.
“Daemon.” Surreal looked stricken, but she squared her shoulders and said, “Go.”
Not sure how much pain he was leaving behind him, he ran after his daughter.
She was walking back to him when he caught up to her, her smile brilliant as she clutched a pendant, its gold chain spilling over her hands.
“Look at my Jewel, Papa! Isn’t it wonderful?”
He looked at the Jewel in her hands and sank to his knees.
“I told the Priestess that I would have a Rose and a Summer-sky and a Purple Dusk and an Opal and a Green as my Birthright, but she said I could only have one, and I knew that wasn’t right because the Lady had shown me this Jewel and said it used to be hers but now it would be mine. It even has a name! It’s called—”
“Twilight’s Dawn,” he whispered.
“Yes.” She beamed at him. “She said you would understand and teach me how to use it.”
His mind was spinning. His heart was in turmoil. “Who said this, witch-child?”
“My special friend. The Lady in the Misty Place. The one who’s called the Song in the Darkness.”
He swallowed a sob. Pain? Joy? He couldn’t tell. “Where . . . ?”
“She’s over there.” Jaenelle turned and pointed. “She’s waiting for you. She said I should wait for you here.” She rolled her eyes. “And that I should let you put a shield around me.”
“She always was a wise Lady.”
Jaenelle hesitated. “She said, when you were ready, you would tell me stories about her. About when she lived in the Realms. She said Uncle Lucivar and Mama could tell me stories too.”
“They can. They will.”
He stood up. After a moment’s hesitation, he put a Red shield around his darling witch-child, since Lucivar or Surreal could break it and get her out. Just in case he didn’t come back.
He walked over to the place where she had pointed. One moment he felt nothing. The next . . .
Not the Misty Place, but not the grounds of the Sanctuary either.
And there she was. Witch. The living myth. His love and his heart.
“Prince,” Witch said, smiling.
“Jaenelle,” he whispered, reaching for her.
His hand went through hers, but when she reached up and rested that same hand against his face, he felt the warmth of her, breathed in the familiar scent of her. She had chosen to show him the Self that lived in the Misty Place deep in the abyss, to show him the dream that had lived within the human flesh.
She was showing him his Queen rather than his former wife.
“How can you be here?”
“This is a shadow, an illusion.”
“I know, but . . .”
She looked at him with those haunted, ancient sapphire eyes. One hand still rested against his face; the other now rested against his chest, over his heart.
“Jaenelle Saetien . . .”
“Is the daughter of your blood, the daughter of your heart, and the daughter of your dreams. She is those things to Surreal as well. Two dreamers, Daemon, yearning for the same dream.”
His brain felt sluggish. He couldn’t get past that he was seeing her again, feeling her touch—but he had to try because his daughter waited for him.
His daughter. And Surreal’s.
“You know about me and Surreal?”
Her cat claws pricked his chest. “The Arachnian Queens tended the web until it was ready to be more than dreams, but I’m the one who first gave it shape because of what I saw in a tangled web years before I became a song in the Darkness. You could have married someone else, and you might have had children. But not this child, Daemon. Not this one. This one needed a mother who had known you before you came to Kaeleer, who had known me.”
“This one?” Words tumbled through his mind. Webs. Visions. Dreams.
He turned his head and looked toward the spot where he’d left his little girl—and suddenly it made sense. “Jaenelle Saetien is . . . ?”
“Dreams made flesh.” Witch smiled. “Your dreams. Surreal’s dreams. And my dreams for both of you.”
Like Jaenelle Angelline, but not the same.
He turned back to her. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Don’t you? It’s simple, Prince. Listen to your heart. It’s healed. It’s whole. You loved me as a wife with all your heart for the whole of my life. You will love me as your Queen for the whole of your life. But there is someone else you love now, Daemon, and it’s time for you to share your heart with more than your daughter.”
He closed his eyes and said nothing.
“Stubborn snarly male. Do you need my permission to love the woman who is now your wife, to acknowledge what you feel for her?”
“I don’t love Surreal the way I loved you. I’ll never love anyone the way I loved you.”
“I know. But you do love her, Daemon.”
“Yes. I do.”
Her voice softened. “Then it’s time you told her.”
She stepped back, and the loss of her touch raked his heart.
He opened his eyes and studied her, drinking in her face. “Will I see you again?”
She hesitated, then said, “Your daughter will, when she needs to, but you need to let go of the past. However, you won’t be alone. No one understands what it’s like to stand so deep in the abyss. No one understands what it’s like to know there is no one who can touch the most private part of your Self. Saetan was the strongest protector the Realms had ever known, but he also made mistakes because even Andulvar’s presence at the depth of the Ebon-gray wasn’t enough to keep him from feeling isolated and alone. You’re not alone there, Daemon.”