Daemon didn’t look up when she entered the room, but he said, “Good morning. Beale said you were here. I don’t think there is anything today that requires my second-in-command’s attention, but you can check with Holt if you like. Let me finish this up, and then I can join you for a quick meal in the breakfast—”
He looked up at that moment. He dropped the pen back in its holder and pushed away from the desk.
“I need to talk to you.” She hated feeling so fragile—and hated even more how much that fragility scared her, because all the Healers had warned her that it would take so little right now to destroy the life beginning to grow inside her.
“What’s wrong?” He moved toward her with a speed that had her backing up against the door. “Are you ill? Have you seen a Healer?”
“No, I’m not ill. Yes, I’ve seen a Healer. Sadi, I’m—”
“Come over here and sit down. You’re—”
He jerked to a stop, then took a step back.
Not Daemon anymore, she thought as she watched his eyes change. May the Darkness have mercy on me, whatever he is right now is more—and worse—than the Sadist.
“Pregnant.” His voice was cold and viciously gentle. He took another step back and slipped his hands in his trousers pockets.
“I don’t expect anything from you,” she said quickly. “That’s not why I’m here. I just wanted you to know that I won’t deny that you’re the baby’s father. When it’s time for the Birthright Ceremony, I won’t deny paternity. You have my word, Sadi. I won’t do that to you.”
“You’re not leaving with my child,” he said too softly.
“Well, it’s a little small to be staying here without me,” she snapped.
“You’re not leaving with my child,” he said again.
Now he approached her. Stalked her. She wasn’t sure he was sane.
“We’ll be married a week from tomorrow,” he said.
“I didn’t agree to marry you!”
“You’re not leaving with my child.”
“Well, as sure as the sun doesn’t shine in Hell, you can’t keep me locked away here.”
He raised his right hand. The Black Jewel in the ring flashed as he unleashed some of its reservoir—and the Hall shook as his power rolled through it. Black shields snapped into place within all the outside walls, and Black locks on the doors and windows turned the SaDiablo family home into a prison.
He smiled at her.
“Sadi, don’t,” she whispered, shivering.
“What are the Healers going to tell me when I ask, Lady Surreal?” he crooned. “You’re already fragile—and vulnerable. You can’t use any of your Jeweled strength while you’re pregnant without destroying the child. Which means you can’t protect yourself or the child. Your Jewels need to be drained on a regular basis for the next ten months in order for the baby to grow healthy in the womb.”
“Lucivar could drain the Jewels.”
“Instead of the baby’s father? I think not.” Daemon moved closer.
She couldn’t back away from him because she was already pressed against the door.
“I didn’t tell you about the pregnancy because I want something from you,” she said. He was too close. He wasn’t touching her, but he was much too close.
“Your heart is pounding, and your scent is filled with fear,” he crooned. “That isn’t good for you or the baby.”
Then back off. But she didn’t dare say that.
“Your Jewels need to be drained.”
“Lucivar will be here soon.”
“So you told him and not me?”
“No! I sent a message, said I needed to see him this morning, and it was urgent. But I didn’t tell him why. Not before I told you. I didn’t tell anyone who fathered this child, and I won’t if you don’t want anyone else to know.”
He studied her. She wasn’t sure he saw her as a person anymore. She wasn’t sure of anything where he was concerned. She’d expected him to be upset or pissed or defensive.
Right now, she was afraid he would kill her—or just kill the baby.
“Maybe it wasn’t smart to have sex that night,” she said, her words tumbling over one another in her haste to explain. “I hadn’t been drinking a contraceptive brew, but Hell’s fire, I haven’t been with anyone in years, so why would I keep drinking the stuff? And it shouldn’t have been my fertile time. Not that I thought about that—or anything else—that night, but it shouldn’t have been my fertile time.”
“And yet you got pregnant.”
“I didn’t do it alone,” she snapped. “And maybe you weren’t thinking clearly that night either, but you were the one who initiated the other three times the following morning.”
He said nothing for a long moment. Just studied her. She couldn’t tell if his eyes held affection or hate.
“If you don’t want to marry me, that is your choice,” Daemon crooned. “I won’t force you, although you should consider the advantages of being my wife. But regardless of what you decide, you’ll stay here until the baby is born. After that, you can leave. The child, however, stays with me, under my roof and under my protection. Is that clear?”
“I want to leave now.” She hated that her voice shook.
“No. Your suite is ready for you, as always. Beale and Helene will retrieve your clothing and other personal items from your house.”
“I can stay in my own house! It’s just down the road.”
She should have run to the Keep, should have asked Draca for sanctuary until she’d reached some kind of agreement with Sadi. No chance to do that now.
“I don’t feel well,” she whispered. “I need to rest.”
“My offer of marriage stands. Consider it.”
He reached behind her and turned the door handle. As he pulled the door open, the movement nudged her against him. She turned to avoid feeling him pressed against her belly, but he still held the handle, and his left arm blocked her escape, so she felt the heat of him on her back and bu**ocks. And felt his breath on her cheek as he leaned into her.
“While you’re considering whether you would enjoy being the wife of the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, also consider if you could tolerate being the wife of the High Lord of Hell.”