Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Strange Magic (Tales of the Highwaymen 5)

The newest tale set in Melara is here!

Malcolm, a sorcerer in Melara, heads north to meet with another magic user, who happens to be the land’s new queen. But on the way there, Malcolm rescues Christopher, a handsome young man who casts a completely different kind of spell on the sorcerer. Malcolm tries to focus on his diplomatic mission, but the queen insists the two men met for a reason. They’re just beginning to explore this connection when the kingdom is threatened, and Malcolm finds himself fighting not only for his new friends but also for the man he’s growing to love.

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Malcolm patted his blue roan stallion on the neck as it veered off course again. He glanced around, not seeing anything to distress the beast. He’d always had a way with animals, and Beau had never been spooked easily.

“What’s wrong, Beau? You smell something?” He allowed the horse to slow as they neared the woods. The sun shone brightly above them, and not even birds made the leaves stir. Yet as he reached out with his senses, he did feel something odd. As a sorcerer, he could sense things in nature and from other people. The feelings often only came through in a vague way, but he felt a twinge of fear in the air. Perhaps some animal was hurt. Or maybe a large predator waited nearby.

A loud crash caught his ear, and a horse came tearing out of the woods. The red bay mare made a lot of noise, her midnight black tail swishing in terror. Her saddle sat askew and tilted as she galloped off. Malcolm immediately thought of the rider, who was likely injured. He jumped off and spoke gently to Beau to calm him, not wanting to tie the horse in case a predator lurked nearby. Malcolm hurried to the trees, listening for any cries of pain and distress.

He heard a limb crack, and the fear in the air grew denser. Trying to avoid making any noise, he moved forward as quickly as he dared. His gaze searched the treetops, and he soon spotted a terrified young man clinging to a branch. He swung his legs to get on top of it, then sat astride it, wrapping his arms and legs around it. The reason for his fear soon came into Malcolm’s line of vision. A large shadowcat circled beneath the tree, its yellow eyes standing out against its jet-black fur. The creature was beautiful—he’d always admired shadowcats—but it also felt threatened, which was bad news for the man in the tree.

Another glance to the tree revealed the young man had seen Malcolm. His big green eyes grew wide, and Malcolm held a finger to his lips. The dark-haired young man pressed his lips together and looked back down. Malcolm rubbed his hands together as he attempted to focus his magic. He’d learned to do this at a very young age, much to his mother’s vexation. If he could hold the shadowcat’s attention with his powers, he’d be able to communicate with it. But he needed a reason to persuade the creature away. The shadowcat was female, and he focused on her a moment. The reason for her hostility became even clearer. She had cubs growing within her, and that gave him an idea. She whipped her head around as he drew closer, and he concentrated his power in her direction as best he could.

She pushed against him, wanting him to go away, but he pressed on.

The male is my mate. He means no harm. He’s my mate. He’s lost. I’ll take him away. He’s my mate. We mean you no harm.

She bared her fangs at him and sniffed the air. He didn’t relish the idea of killing her, but if she came at him he’d have little choice, so he shifted his stance to make reaching his dagger easier. He had to act fast, as her mate was likely nearby. He tried to project calm feelings toward her as he repeated the same ideas.

He’s my mate. Very young. Needs to learn.

She still bared her fangs, but she backed away. When she stopped, she glared up at the young man and then whipped her head at him. Malcolm wasn’t completely sure of her meaning, but she did it again, as if she were pointing to him. Malcolm came forward, and she seemed to like that. She actually sat and watched him, closing her mouth but still seeming alert and ready to show her teeth again.

Malcolm looked up. “Can you jump from there? I swear I’ll catch you.”

The young man stared at the ground warily, but when he looked into Malcolm’s eyes, he seemed to grow more confident. “I’ll t-try,” he said, his voice breathless, catching on the second word. He shook as he repositioned. He was hardly more than a child, and Malcolm glanced over to the shadowcat again. She watched them as if she wondered if the young man would make it.

He jumped, and Malcolm caught him awkwardly. The young man seemed to weigh nothing at all, and Malcolm cradled him close and backed away slowly, looking at the shadowcat.

I’ll take him away. Keep him away.

The shadowcat rose and gave a cry, and the young man stiffened and buried his face against Malcolm’s neck. The shadowcat stalked off into the woods, and Malcolm turned to hurry back to the road. Once they were there, he put the young man down, but his legs fell right out from under him. Malcolm had to help him to sit on the ground.

“Are you all right?” Malcolm asked, caressing his face.

“I am now,” he said, smiling even though he was shaking. “With a handsome laird to save me.”

Malcolm smiled, realizing the lad was making an assumption because of the plaid he wore draped around his body. “I’m no laird. My name’s Malcolm, and I’m just an envoy. I’m only dressed so formally because I’m going to the king.”

“The king?”

“Yes. I’m coming from the earls in the lowlands as sort of an exchange. A couple of the local highwaymen have gone to live there with my laird, and I’ve come here.”

The young man beamed at him. “Theodore and Nicholas. They were my friends.”

“Ah, and who might you be?” He was glad of the distraction, as it seemed to help the boy calm down.

“Christopher. I’m a highwayman, too. Or I will be once Gerard has trained me properly.”

“How old are you?” Malcolm guessed about fifteen, based on how fresh faced and beautiful the lad was. He told himself to stop being a dirty old man and think of the boy’s health, not his pretty face.

“Nineteen a few days ago.”

Malcolm’s eyebrows went up. “Truly? You look so young.”

Christopher’s face fell. “Yes. I know I’m small and thin and look like a girl.”

Malcolm laughed and shook his head. “You’re beautiful indeed, but you don’t look anything like a girl to me.”

That got Christopher’s attention. “How can I ever thank you, sir?”

“Well, don’t call me sir. You make me feel old.” He held out his hand as he straightened.

Christopher took it and got to his feet, but he didn’t let go. “You don’t look so old to me.”

“I’m thirty-five.”

“Not old at all.” Christopher’s hands snaked around Malcolm’s neck. “Might I offer a kiss in gratitude?”

Tempting as it was, Malcolm pulled Christopher’s hands off him. “A ‘thank you’ will do fine.” He’d not long ago gotten out of a complicated relationship, and he didn’t need this eager lad getting ideas and following him around. He had work to do, and seducing the local youths wasn’t part of it. “Tell me, are you injured in any way?”

Christopher didn’t seem hurt by the rebuff. Instead he looked determined, which Malcolm knew could end up being ten times worse. “No. I’m fine. I was just scared. I was lucky to find a low hanging branch so quickly. The shadowcat jumped out of nowhere and scared my horse.”

“Yes, I saw it.” Malcolm indicated his own horse. “Come on. I’ll take you home. Maybe we’ll find your horse on the way.”

Christopher glanced at Beau. “Would you like me in front or behind?” he asked with a slight smile.

Malcolm saw both positions as problematic. “Behind, I think. You’re rather tall.” Actually, he knew he’d be able to see over the lad just fine. He worried the riding combined with the flirtatious lad’s firm little ass rubbing him would lead to more trouble.

Once they were mounted, Christopher wrapped both arms around Malcolm’s waist and rested his chin on Malcolm’s shoulder. “Yes, I think this is much better.”

Malcolm didn’t reply as they set off. He tried to look for signs of Christopher’s horse while also trying to ignore the warm hands on his body, hands that never seemed content to stay still.

“How did you get the shadowcat to back down?” Christopher asked, his breath hot on Malcolm’s neck.

“You’d find out soon enough, but I’ll go ahead and tell you.” He tried to adjust because he could feel Christopher’s cock pressing against the small of his back, but the movement only seemed to make things worse. “I’m a sorcerer, like your new queen.”

Christopher’s grip tightened. “Are you?” He pressed closer as well. “That’s amazing. You get better with each passing moment.”

“If you say so. It’s only natural to me. I have a special way with animals, and I sensed that she was pregnant, so I appealed to her protective instincts. I said you were—” Malcolm stopped, realizing telling the truth would only encourage Christopher.

“You said I was what?”

“Um, my … brother.”

“You’re lying.”

Malcolm’s eyebrows rose, and he turned slightly. “Are you always this impertinent?”

“Impertinent? I’m just calling you on whatever you’re trying to hide.”

Malcolm let his breath out in a huff. “Fine. I told her you’re my mate.”

Christopher pressed his lips to Malcolm’s ear. “I can be. You’re like a wet dream come true.”

“You always this keen as well?”

“Only when a man like you is around. And there aren’t many like you around here. The idea of you pounding into me cleared all my fears up quick enough.”

Malcolm jerked his head back to face forward as he tried to collect himself. The image had his cock reacting now, but he’d vowed to never again be swept away by lust. “You kiss your mother with that mouth?” He’d hated hearing people say that when he was Christopher’s age, but it just slipped out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Release! Wild Roses (Arundel 3)

My new Arundel book is here--Wild Roses! This is the first m/m story in the series and the first new story I've written since I got the original two novels back from a previous publisher. There was a time I thought this story would never be written, but I'm very happy to return to this world. Rose Scented Kisses (book 1, previously published as Night Gardening) was my first full-length romance, and Asyan was my first romantic hero, so this series will always have a very special place in my heart.

When Lucian meets Gil, he thinks he knows what Gil wants. Lots of fairies come to the restaurant where he works in the mortal world to catch a glimpse of the prince. And perhaps fuck him. But it soon becomes clear Gil isn’t there because he knows Lucian is the son of the king of the fairies. In fact, Gil doesn’t even know he’s a full-blooded fairie at all, and he dismisses Lucian as crazy.

Lucian goes looking for answers, and the two men can’t forget about each other. When the truth comes out, Gil’s entire world changes. Lucian decides to help him through this and stand by his side, but not just because Gil has no one else who would understand. Lucian feels drawn to Gil in a way he can’t explain, and after centuries of casual relationships, Lucian begins to think that forever with one person wouldn’t be so bad if he could make Gil his.


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Lucian hadn’t worked the bar in a long time, but tonight was slow enough he didn’t mind. He missed moving through the restaurant and talking about the menu and other random things with the customers, but he’d be back to waiting tables the next day. He smiled to himself as he wiped the bar down again. Neither of his siblings understood why he wanted to live among mortals, much less why he wanted a job. They both said they did and knew he loved it, but Lucian knew they didn’t truly get it.
They had no idea how much he hated the way others treated him because his father was king of the fairies. They never had.
He loved both of his siblings and didn’t think they took advantage of their status, but they rarely let people forget who they were—as if any fairie could. Raven would be the first to throw out the line, “We’ll see what my father has to say”, while Erik had over the centuries said “Don’t you know who I am?” to countless people.
Lucian frowned. He’d been brooding for the past hour because there was a full-blooded fairie in the bar drinking with some of his friends. He’d felt the man’s power the moment he walked in, and the guy kept staring at him from across the room. Lucian tried to keep a low profile, but sometimes fairies from Arundel found out where he worked and lived. This guy, however, seemed to live among mortals. He’d been talking and laughing with his friends about things that happened at work. Was it a coincidence, or had he come to get a look at the king’s son? Lucian didn’t know, so he kept an eye on the guy.
Before long, the man rose and went to the bathroom, throwing Lucian a half-smile as he walked by. When he came back a few minutes later, he stopped at the bar. “We place food orders here, right?”
Lucian resisted the urge to turn slightly toward the sign just to his right that said exactly that. “Yes. It’s just appetizers in here, but we’ll bring it out to your booth.”
“Yeah, that’s cool. Can we get some mozzarella sticks and onion rings? Need to absorb a little alcohol before we head out.”
“Sure. I’ll put that in.”
“Thanks.” The guy flashed him a brilliant smile and backed away slowly before rejoining his friends.
Lucian put the order in, but he grew suspicious. None of the guys were drunk, and even if they were, the guy hadn’t had to explain why he wanted to order food. Had he been trying to make small talk and flirt? Or was he just a chatty guy? Lucian eyed him from across the room, and sure enough, one of his buddies leaned over and whispered to him before glancing over at Lucian. They both grinned.
Lucian turned to take a drink order from a couple that had just walked in and tried to focus on his work. If this guy was telling people what he was—and what and who Lucian was—there would be trouble. The council couldn’t watch every single fairie every moment, but if this guy was blabbing to mortals, he’d get caught eventually. He had to know that.
As the next few minutes passed, the man looked over at Lucian twice as much as he had been earlier. Lucian didn’t know what to do. He could defend himself well enough, but he didn’t think this guy meant him any harm. He briefly wished he had his grandmother’s ability to tap into the emotions of others.
When their food came up, Lucian threw his gaze around, hoping one of the waitresses would take it over to them. Both of the girls working the bar with him were with customers. The man looked up and met his gaze, and Lucian knew he couldn’t ignore a customer, especially with the guy’s order sitting a couple of feet away from him. Lucian’s boss thought he was a rich kid who had grown tired of the lifestyle—Lucian didn’t want him finding out the truth. He turned to bring the food over, but by the time he’d placed it on the bar and started to walk around to the other side, the man stood there, grinning at him again.
“I can get these. No problem,” the guy said. But instead of picking up the two plates, he extended his hand. “I’m Gil.”
“I’m Lucian.” He shook Gil’s hand.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Of course you do. It’s why you’re here.”
Gil hesitated, his expression blanking a moment. “Um, okay.” He pointed. “I just meant you’ve got a name tag on, and I’m observant.” He paused. “Especially when it comes to hot guys.”
Lucian’s mouth fell open, and he had no idea what to say. So, he ignored the comment. “It’s no hassle to bring these over. We just have food orders placed at the bar to make it easier to keep tabs straight.”
Gil smiled again. “Maybe I wanna keep you all to myself.” He grabbed the plates and went back to his table.
Lucian watched, and now all of Gil’s friends were grinning at Gil and casting glances at Lucian. Especially when it comes to hot guys. The words echoed in Lucian’s head. So that was the game—this guy wanted to fuck the prince.
Turning away, Lucian sighed. It hadn’t been the first time and wouldn’t be the last. But did Gil want to sleep with him just for the sake of it, or was he seeking some kind of favor? Lucian hadn’t been with another man since he was much younger. Fairies tended toward heterosexuality out of necessity, as their race wasn’t very fertile, but same sex couplings and marriages weren’t forbidden. He’d pursued only women while living in the mortal world, as up until recently being perceived as gay had drawn far too much attention for someone who wanted to stay under the radar.
Maybe I wanna keep you all to myself. Lucian chanced a glance back at the table. Gil had silky black hair that was kind of curly and wild, and his eyes were a deep brown. He had a nice smile, the kind that lingered in the memory. Lucian hadn’t dated much lately, and he hadn’t had a real relationship in decades. Getting involved with mortals proved too complicated, and being with another fairie could be even worse, at least for him. A pang of loneliness hit just then. His father and his sister had both gotten married recently, and they both seemed so happy. Lucian wanted that kind of happiness, but he’d never felt the kind of emotions he was so sure he was supposed to feel with the right person. The women and men he’d desired the most had never inspired deeper feelings, and the people he’d been emotionally intimate with had never sparked any need beyond companionship. He didn’t think of himself as a romantic, but was he?
Over the next hour, two of Gil’s friends left, so it was just Gil and one other guy in their booth by closing time. On weekends, the bar stayed open later, but since it was Wednesday, it would be closing at eleven along with the restaurant. Lucian expected Gil to stick around, but he left with his friend after paying his tab and didn’t say anything else to Lucian.
That only left Lucian even more confused. Had the guy just been having some fun with his flirting? Maybe he’d been afraid of pushing it with the king’s son in the end, losing his nerve. Lots of people came around just to check him out or talk to him, simply to say they had. His family didn’t sequester themselves, but the old ways died hard. Being of royal blood was still a big deal to the fairies.
Lucian got done cleaning the bar pretty quickly, so he slipped into the restaurant to help flip the chairs onto the tables and tidy up. An hour later, he left through the back door and headed around the corner to his car.
Gil sat on the sidewalk by the building, his legs crossed beneath him and a book in his hand. He glanced up and smiled. “Hey.”
“Hi.” Lucian stopped and looked down at him. “Do you need something from me?”
Gil tilted his head. “When you put it like that, maybe I do.” He stood and slid the book into his jacket pocket. “My friends teased me so much I got self-conscious, but as I was leaving, something stopped me. I just wanted to get your number, but maybe…”
Lucian didn’t resist when Gil leaned in and kissed him. The man moaned and pushed Lucian against the brick wall, the magic arcing between them. Lucian hadn’t kissed another fairie in a long time, and his cock hardened in his pants. He could already sense how amazing it would feel to be with this man, but he still didn’t know Gil’s true agenda.
Gil rubbed against him as he broke the kiss. “God almighty, and that was just a kiss.” Gil cupped Lucian’s cheek. “Come home with me. I’m clean, I swear. I wanna see those gray eyes widen as we fuck.”
“Why do you want this?” Lucian asked.
Gil’s eyes had darkened with lust, but confusion took over. “Why?”
“Yes. Why?”
“Because you’re amazing. I’ve never seen eyes like yours, and your hair’s gorgeous, too.” He ran one hand through the long red strands. “It looks even better down. I know you have to keep it tied back in the restaurant, but it’s really beautiful.”
“You want to sleep with me because you find me attractive?”
Gil blinked and backed up. “Yeah. Why do you usually sleep with people?”
Lucian replied, “Same reason, but we both know there’s more to it than that.”
Gil paused, his face unreadable. “Like what?”
“My father.”
Gil’s eyebrows went up. “Your father?”
“Yes, of course.”
“What about him? Is he homophobic or something?”
Lucian frowned. “How dare you. You know he isn’t.”
Gil backed up a step. “Uh, I don’t know your father, so I don’t know jack about him. Or what he has to do with us hooking up.”
Lucian tensed up then. “Don’t give me that. Every fairie knows who my father is.” He hated to push the issue, but there was no other explanation for this guy hanging around for an hour waiting on him.
Now, Gil was the one to tense up, a deep glare on his face. “Did you really just say fairie? You know, when you get hard when a guy kisses you, maybe it’s time to stop with derogatory slurs.”
“Derogatory slurs?”
“Yeah. It’s not the 1970s anymore. Calling gay guys fairies? Really?”
Lucian couldn’t do anything but stare. He tried to talk, but his tongue wouldn’t work.
Gil glanced around warily. “Are you on something? I know food service involves weird hours and some people do drugs and stuff, but—”
“I don’t do drugs!” Lucian snapped, both insulted and confused.
“Then how about making some sense here? What is your problem? You started staring at me the moment I walked into the bar, and you sure as fuck kissed me back. I don’t get you.”
“I was watching you because you’re a full-blooded fairie, just like me. Asyan is my father, and I don’t believe for one minute that you don’t know all of this.” Lucian pushed his hair aside and dropped the glamour that hid his pointed ears.
Gil jumped back. “Okay, what the fuck? Are you a role player or something?”
Lucian stepped forward and looked at Gil’s ears, trying to see past the glamour. But something was off. He reached out and touched Gil’s left ear, and something about it didn’t feel quite right.
Gil backed away even more. “I’m gonna go, all right? I’m sorry I was so aggressive. I just thought you were handsome and assumed you were interested. My mistake, okay?” He held up his hands as he began to back away.
“Why did you have surgery to change your ears? Why don’t you use a glamour?”
Gil just stared at him. “What in the hell are you talking about?” Suddenly he seemed angry, and he came stalking forward, his arms crossed tightly over his chest. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I was in a car wreck when I was three. Tore up both of my ears and one side of my face. My dad had money for the best doctors, so yeah, I’ve had plastic surgery. Several times over the years, as I grew. So what?”
Lucian paused. Gil didn’t seem to be lying. “Touch mine. I won’t touch you, I swear.”
Taking a deep breath, Lucian started over. “Touch them to see they’re real. My ears looked normal a couple of hours ago, right?”
Gil shifted his stance a bit. “Yeah.”
“So, touch my ears.”
Gil made no move for almost a minute, and then he reached one hand up and ran a single finger over Lucian’s left ear. He tweaked the pointed tip and gripped the cartilage. He gave a little tug even.
When Gil stepped back, Lucian folded his ear forward. “See? No line, no make up.” He searched Gil’s eyes as he put his hands on his hips and replayed their conversation in his head. Gil had said he was clean. Such concerns were normal for mortals hooking up, but not for fairies, who were immune to human diseases. “Why don’t you know what you are?”
“What I am?” Gil genuinely looked scared now, his eyes darting around and his lips forming a grim line.
“You’re a fairie, exactly like me, and you were born that way. Mortals who were Turned have a slightly different feel to them. You were born a fairie, but … you really have no idea.”
Gil recrossed his arms, looking even more defensive now. “There’s no such thing as fairies,” he said softly.
“Didn’t you feel the power? The magic when we kissed?”
“I felt lust and need, and it was the best kiss I’ve ever had, but you’re obviously crazy.” Gil glanced around. “And I’m standing alone in an alley with you.”
Lucian looked around as well. “It’s a parking lot, not an alley, and this part of town is fine.” He pointed across the street. “And there are still plenty of people over there at the Irish pub.”
“Still, you’re not making sense. I don’t understand any of this anymore, so I’m gonna go.” Gil turned to leave, walking with determined strides as he shoved his hands into his jacket pockets.
“Wait, please.”
“Not happening.”
Lucian reached out with his powers and made Gil stop in his tracks. He knew he’d get in trouble with his father, but he didn’t care.
“What are you doing to me?” Gil asked, his voice rising as he looked back over his shoulder.
“Showing you what I can do. What you should be able to do.” He walked around Gil so they could look at each other. “How am I doing this? Explain it.”
“Don’t give a fuck how you’re doing it. Let me go.”
Lucian pressed his lips together and released his hold, but he held his hands up to keep Gil from walking away. “It’s not only that you think I’m good looking. You feel what I am. That’s why you waited out here for me, even though you don’t realize it.”
Gil studied Lucian’s raised hands and seemed to be sizing him up. “You’re scaring me. Let me leave.”
“Kiss me again.”
Gil looked at Lucian’s lips. “Not sure I want to do that anymore.”
“Kiss me, and I’ll let you go.”
Gil’s gaze stayed on his lips, and Lucian could see the interest there. Swallowing, Gil said, “Okay.”
Lucian stepped closer. “When we touch, our powers link. Surge. That’s why it felt so good. You’re a full blood. Just focus on how this feels.”
Gil stood still as Lucian leaned in and brushed their lips together. Then he responded and returned the embrace. He trembled as Lucian kissed him more deeply, and the passion overwhelmed Lucian. The kiss became hot and searching, and Gil pulled Lucian closer. When they both stood breathless, Gil looked into his eyes, his expression unreadable.
“You sure you’re not an incubus?”
“No such thing.”
Gil laughed without humor and backed up. “Okay. Fairies are real, but not incubus? I see.”
“I’ll talk to my father. Find out who you are.”
Shaking his head, Gil said, “I know who I am. A man who just fell in lust with a crazy person.” He licked his lips. “The way you kiss, I think I’d believe you’re a god. But a fairie? You’re too much, man. I’m going home.” He pushed past Lucian and walked away.
“Will you come back?”
Gil stopped and looked back at him. “No.”
“That’s not true.”
Gil narrowed his eyes. “That’s your opinion, and you certainly have some strange ones.” This time, he kept walking and didn’t turn back.
Lucian got in his car and sat there, thinking.
Care to explain yourself?
Lucian jumped when his father’s voice echoed in his head. I just met a full-blooded fairie who has no idea what he is. He’s been surgically altered.
Asyan didn’t reply right away. Eventually, a single statement came. Go see your grandmother tomorrow.
“All right,” Lucian said out loud. He felt his connection to his father sever. Getting his keys out, Lucian tried to clear his mind. As he drove home, he thought about Gil. If he wanted to, he could find Gil, but he chose to wait. He could still feel Gil’s lips on his, and worry began to set in. If Gil’s true nature was being hidden, even from himself, he might be in danger. Lucian had never been one to rush in to save the day like his brother Erik, but something about Gil had him ready to do just that if he had to.