Finding Our Morning
So much time had elapsed since Ginny issued the invitation, she didn’t know what to expect when David called two weeks later to arrange a meeting. Was he passing through town or was this an intentional stop? Either way, the days leading up to his arrival were pure torture.
On the morning in question, Ginny took longer than necessary to get ready. She left her hair loose instead of tying it back in her usual ponytail. Her luxurious locks were the only thing she could count on to draw eyes away from her face. The dark blond strands fell in a silky curtain to her midback and had been compared to a palomino’s coat on many occasions. As for the rest of her, it was business as usual. Faded jeans, a checked cotton shirt, and her favorite red cowboy boots. Her complexion was clear this morning, thank God, and she took her time applying eye makeup. It was out of the ordinary to get dolled up during the day, and her parents noticed as soon as she sat down to breakfast.
“Going to a party?” Margery asked.
“No, but you know the Shah of Iran is about to grace our doorstep, and I thought I’d look nice for a change.”
“You always look good,” Ray commented. “Anyone who thinks otherwise is a blind fool.”
“What about your chores?” Margery inquired. “Won’t your hair get in the way?”
“I’ll get ’em done,” Ginny promised.
“See that you do,” Margery replied. “I know you want to make a good impression, sweetie, but those foreigners aren’t coming to socialize. We have to present our best, and a clean, well-organized farm is just as important as our livestock. You wouldn’t eat in a dirty kitchen.”
“For Christ’s sake, Marge. Leave the girl alone.”
“Seriously, Mom. You’re overreacting as usual.”
“Then explain why you look more like a debutante than a rancher’s daughter this morning?”
“He offered dinner and dancing the last time we were together. I don’t want him to change his mind.”
Aghast, Margery exclaimed, “The shah?”
“God no,” Ginny said. “David.”
“Which one is he again?”
“Their number-three player.”
“He was good,” Margery recalled.
“What are you going to wear tonight?”
“I’m not sure it’s happening, but I bought a new dress in case.”
“What color is it?”
“You’re too young to wear black,” Margery opined with a tsk.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Give it a rest, Mom. I’m eighteen.”
“Black is more appropriate for someone older and more experienced.”
Ginny refused to take the bait. Her mother was being overprotective, given her dating history, and was understandably worried. Nonetheless, it was too early in the morning to argue. She scooped up the last of her egg yolk on a piece of toast, swallowed it down with orange juice, and stood up to go. “I’ll catch you guys later.”
Standing on the steps outside the kitchen door, she paused and scanned the horizon. The sun was already a bright ball of pulsing heat in the cloudless blue sky, and she could tell it was going to be another scorcher. Ginny hoped the Iranians had the good sense to come early to avoid the worst of it.
As she headed toward the stable where they kept the horses for sale, she scrutinized their property and tried to see it through the eyes of a stranger. Theirs was a small operation compared to other stud farms, but they had a stellar reputation. Margery Tate was the driving force behind their prosperity. The woman was a stickler for order and quick to remind new employees that pride in ownership was as important as a good pedigree.
Margery acquired her code of ethics from her parents who’d started the stud farm with one stallion and a few mares. As their only child, she’d inherited the bulk of the estate, with small portions divided among the loyal ranch hands who had been around until her father finally passed, a year and a day after her mother died of cancer. Her gender had never been a good enough excuse to avoid the hard work necessary to ensure the success of the farm, and Margery expected her only daughter to work as tirelessly as the rest of them.
She did have a point, Ginny conceded begrudgingly, but her advice was often framed in criticism, which usually rubbed people the wrong way. Horse breeding could be a messy business when things got out of hand, and organization was key.
She made the rounds swiftly this morning, inspecting each area with a critical eye, paying particular attention to the horses for sale. This would be their first stop and she wanted the area to be in tip-top shape. She could only imagine what the royal stables must look like with dozens of helpers at the shah’s beck and call. Well, they might not have his manpower, but over the years, the stud farm had gained a well-earned reputation for their excellent stock and integrity.
By the time the shah and his entourage arrived two hours later, her nerves were frayed. The group of six, dressed in casual attire, climbed out of a gleaming limousine. Ginny wasn’t sure what to expect, given their status, but these men looked like any prospective buyer, albeit better dressed. Her parents greeted the Iranians deferentially and offered to be their guides as they toured the premises. While they concentrated on the shah, Ginny walked up to David with an outstretched hand.
“I’m glad you could make it.”
“Was there any doubt?” he asked, stepping forward and clasping her hand in his. He was so close she could smell his sweet breath, overlaid with a hint of coffee. His eyes weren’t black as she’d first thought. They were deep brown with a touch of caramel and were gazing at her appraisingly. Now that he was actually here, Ginny’s confidence faltered as she met his intense scrutiny. Had he come to buy a horse or check her out? Her heart rate sped up as nerves and anticipation made her breath falter. It was at once unexpected and exhilarating. Ginny withdrew her hand and stepped back, laughing off the moment awkwardly.
David C. Dawson has a new MM mystery romance book out: "Heroes in Love."
Can forbidden love stand the test of time?
Will its strength inspire lasting love in today’s generation?
There are not only heroes, but unlikely heroes, who are determined to see love win.
Billy’s life changes in a single day when he meets Daniel, who becomes the love of his life.
Billy’s aging client Chuck has a dark and sad secret to reveal. As Billy and Daniel fight to help Chuck reunite with the love of his past, their own fledgling relationship is threatened.
Who will remain the heroes in love?
David is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:
Daniel’s kitchen was filled with a jumble of antiquated cooking gadgets accumulated from different eras in the social history of domesticity. An ancient, blackened stove stood in the chimney alcove. Next to it, an oversized American retro blender perched precariously on a mottled red Formica work surface, alongside a vintage 1930s toaster. A Victorian clothes dryer hung from the high ceiling above an antique pine table. The walls were cluttered with framed pictures, mostly collections of actors smiling from bygone West End productions. Every surface seemed cluttered with either elaborate culinary equipment or music manuscripts.
Billy looked around him in awe. The house was narrow, but extended a long way back. There seemed to be so much space. “Can I ask a cheeky question?”
“You mean, how can I afford this?” replied Daniel. “I know. I’m very lucky. My grandfather left it for me when he died. This was where I ran to when I left my parents and came to London. Grandpa Bob was the world to me. He was my mum’s father, and the dad I never had.”
“It must be worth a fortune now.”
“Three bedroom terrace house in desirable Battersea?” Daniel turned to the worktop, and opened a cupboard in front of him. “I suppose it is. But it means more to me that this was Grandpa Bob’s home. Lots of the things I have here were actually his.”
He turned back to Billy.
“I said coffee, but would you prefer tea?”
Daniel crossed to the stove, picked up a large whistling kettle, and carried it to the sink.
“Have you got mint tea?” asked Billy.
“Ooh, there’s fancy,” replied Daniel as he filled the kettle. “Give me a second and I’ll gather some leaves from the garden. Peppermint or spearmint?”
“Now it’s my turn to say ‘ooh, there’s fancy,’” replied Billy. “I’ve got no idea, but probably peppermint.”
Daniel set the kettle down on the stove and lit the gas. He picked up a pair of scissors from the dresser, crossed to the backdoor, and undid two heavy bolts.
“Come and have a look at the outside space Maggie created for me,” he said.
Daniel swung open the door. Billy could see a hazy glow of twinkling lights beckon him into the mysterious space beyond the threshold. Leading away from the kitchen door he saw an avenue of sculpted shrubs, each festooned with tiny lanterns. The pathway seemed to be endless, disappearing into the far distance. On either side of the doorway were two Victorian lampposts. A flickering yellow light illuminated huge glass globes on top of the wrought iron posts.
Billy stepped across the threshold into the garden. The ground felt soft beneath his feet. He squatted down and gently brushed the palm of his hand over its mossy surface. His nostrils were filled with the scent of chamomile. Billy looked back over his shoulder. Daniel stood smiling in the doorway.
“This is how I keep sane in this city of madness.”
Billy stood and walked farther into the garden. After a few yards he came across a break in the avenue of shrubs. It revealed a small, half-walled patio lit by two more wrought iron lanterns. They spilled yellow flickering light onto two chairs and a neat, glass-topped table. Suspended on the walls around the patio were earthenware pots in which grew many different types of herbs.
Daniel appeared at Billy’s side with the scissors in his hand.
“I’ve come to get you your tea.”
Billy felt as if he had been transported into a film set. Every one of his five senses was overwhelmed by the magic of Daniel’s west London wonderland.
“It’s beautiful,” said Billy. “It’s so - tranquil. Surely this must have cost a fortune to build?”
Daniel bent down to the chamomile lawn.
“I’m afraid it’s mostly fake, but it’s very realistic.”
He walked across to the wall of herbs, and harvested a handful of mint leaves.
“I haven’t switched on the mist,” said Daniel. “The pump needs some fixing. If I did, the romance here would’ve been overpowering.”
Billy turned as Daniel stopped behind him. He held a handful of mint leaves to Billy’s nose, and Billy inhaled deeply.
“Peppermint,” said Daniel. “I hope I made the right choice.”
He lowered his arm, hooked it around Billy’s waist, and pulled him closer. He leaned forward and kissed Billy slowly on the mouth. Daniel’s lips parted as he said quietly:
He dropped his arm from Billy’s waist, reached into his front pocket, and pulled out the scissors.
“I wasn’t planning on giving myself a circumcision tonight.”
Daniel let the scissors and the handful of mint fall to the ground. He wrapped his arms around Billy, and pulled him close. Suddenly they were kissing, wildly, passionately. Daniel placed his hand on the back of Billy’s neck, holding the two men close as their tongues hungrily explored each other’s mouths. He wrapped his arm tight around Billy’s waist, and slipped his hand down to push their groins closer together.
Billy had never felt such immediate connection with a man before. Daniel was both passionate and tender. So many men he had met simply behaved like sexual animals. Encounters with them would start promisingly, but soon they would slip into clichéd actions copied from a badly made porn movie.
But Daniel was different. One moment he was kissing Billy with a passionate urgency. His raw aggression filled Billy with a sense of sexual danger. The next moment Daniel was gently sliding his tongue across Billy’s stubble, or tenderly kissing him on his forehead, on his eyes, or his nose.
Finally, Daniel slipped his hands onto Billy’s shoulders, and the two men stood with their foreheads touching. Their eyes locked on each other in an unblinking gaze.
“Do you still want that mint tea?”
“Maybe I’ll have a coffee after all,” said Billy. “I’d like to stay awake tonight.”
David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers featuring gay men in love. He’s an award winning author, journalist and documentary maker.
His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won Bronze for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. The second in the series is The Deadly Lies. His third book For the Love of Luke came out in October 2018.
David lives in London, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.
Author Website: www.davidcdawson.co.uk
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I do a bit of dog show events with my dog, Finn. We recently participated in an event called Farm Dog certification. He had to jump on bales of hay, behave nicely around ducks and rabbits and walk over and around all sorts of strange things. Other requirements were wait politely to be invited through a gate and let a strange dog walk by then have the judge check his ears and feet for ticks! There were no ticks.
Finn is a trooper and he did a great job earning himself a pretty green ribbon, and a toy. His favorite parts are the toy and the attention and treats he gets during these events.
Since the cover of Jewel Cave is also green it'll be on sale for a limited time to celebrate Finn's new title of Farm Dog.
Lisa Oliver has a new MM paranormal shifter romance out, book six in the The Gods Made Me Do It series: "Someone to Hold Me."
Hades, Lord of the Underworld, has spent years searching the world for his Fated Mate. He's watched his brother and nephews find their "light" and yet he can't find his. On the verge of giving up hope, Hades attends his brother Poseidon's wedding; so outside his comfort zone, but his discomfort proves worth it. Because there, at the reception, he finally sees his light.
It wasn't that Ali was uncomfortable around wolves - he'd been a good friend of Claude's for years. But when one of the wolves at Claude's and Poseidon's wedding gets verbally pushy, he feels he has no choice but to shift and find the alpha. What he doesn't expect is to find a beautiful man with soulful eyes, holding out his hand.
After all Ali and Hades have been through in their lives, you'd think the Fates would be kind to them. But between Cerberus's howling, Persephone's snarking, and Ali's family proving there is more to them than their blatant wealth, Ali and Hades have their hands full creating a life with each other. But maybe, just maybe, the Mother has a gift for them after all.
This is an MM paranormal true mates story intended for adults only. This book can be read as a stand-alone. Mpreg elements (Not the MCs, or the focus of the story)
Lisa is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
Cupping his hand carefully, Claude reached around his neck. Sitting on his palm was the cutest little chipmunk Hades had ever seen. He had pale gold fur, mixed with almost white on his belly and paws, and his face had two black streaks that ran from his sharp little eyes to the edge of his pointed ears. And he was pissed off. Sitting upright on his back legs, the little fellow jabbed his wee front legs around as though he was boxing, chattering nineteen to the dozen. Hades doubted anyone could understand what was being said, but they could understand the tone and it was all directed at the hapless Bart.
“Well, would you look at that,” Sei grinned reaching out a finger as it he wanted to touch. “Ali has to be the cutest little shifter I’ve ever seen.”
“Put your finger away,” Hades muttered quietly, more to himself than anyone else. “You touch him, and I’ll strip the skin from your fingers.”
But obviously he wasn’t quiet enough. “Brother?” Sei looked shocked and then a huge smile spread across his face. “You see the light at last?” Claude and the other wolves who’d all stood around wanting to be nosy, looked between them as if not sure what was going on.
Hades only had eyes for his cute little mate, who had stopped chattering and was now twitching his nose madly in Hades direction. “I’m not the greatest catch,” he said quietly, catching the little creature’s eyes, “but I’ll spend eternity doing my best to make you happy if you’ll let me.” He slowly held out his hand and waited.
Time stood still. Hades wasn’t even sure if his heart was beating anymore. The little chipmunk dropped down on all fours, looking over his shoulder at Claude who smiled, then at Bart who growled, and then back at Hades. Twitching his tail madly, he took a flying leap, landing directly on Hades’ palm. Hades quickly moved his other hand to cradle him. He didn’t want his little mate to fall off and hurt himself. But Ali showed no signs of falling. Looking up at Hades he pointed one of his front paws at Bart and started his angry chittering again.
“I know, I know. I completely understand.” Hades said, nodding, keeping an eye on the angry shifter. “This guy has upset you and he deserves to pay. I totally agree.”
“Er, bro,” Sei cast a worried look in Claude’s direction. “The wolves get upset when us godly beings interfere in pack affairs.”
“Ali’s not pack.” Hades called on his power. A voice screamed in the back of his head that this was not the right place, that he could lose his mate if the wee guy couldn’t handle who he was, but Hades wasn’t about to shirk his duty to his precious mate on the very first day. “Do you know who I am?”
The world looked different from his new perspective. In his god form, Hades’ head almost touched the ceiling – the wolves below him not even half his size. His power cloaked the room – dark, dangerous – there was not a being in existence who didn’t immediately recognize how menacing he could be, even if they didn’t know who he was.
Only Ali appeared unaffected. The tiny chipmunk looked even smaller in his huge hand, but the guy didn’t seem worried, rubbing his cheek against Hades’ thumb which Hades found rather soothing.
“I’ll say again,” Hades’ voice bellowed around the room. “Do you know who I am and who’s mate you’ve had the audacity to upset?”
“Oh, my gods,” Bart fell to his knees, blathering. “I’ve done it now. My sexy shaft is going to be the death of me. That’s who you are, isn’t it? You’re Death and you’ve come to take me away and fuck, I’m still hard. I can’t die before I orgasm, that’s just not fair.”
“Actually,” Thanatos pushed through the crowds, his mate tucked in by his side, “I’m Death and I’m not taking you today, although your god reference was highly accurate.” He looked up at Hades and winked. “The man is a simpleton, Lord; I can see his soul. He is one of the classic examples of a man being led around by his dick, but I don’t believe he meant any permanent harm to your mate.”
Hades’ heart almost stopped when Ali leaned over his finger, chittering madly at Thanatos. Tilting his head to one side, Thanatos listened and then nodded. “You are quite right, little one, that anger of his is a grave concern. Any of the Doms here know they have to respect the laws of consent. I’m sure Claude has a suitable punishment for him, though, don’t you think? You really don’t want trash like this cluttering up the Underworld.”
Ali chittered a bit more and Thanatos laughed. Hades wished he had the power to understand all languages but only Death himself had been granted that power. “You’re probably right about that too, little one. But the Fates get upset when someone takes a life unnecessarily and this man isn’t bad, he’s just misguided. I’m sure he’s going to apologize, isn’t he?” He looked back at Bart who was watching, his mouth slack.
“Apologize,” Claude growled, stepping forward when Bart stayed silent, his fist raised. “You’ve upset two gods today and Death himself, not to mention my really good friend. Say you’re sorry, or I’ll castrate you and then we won’t have to worry about your dick leading you astray again.”
“Not my dick, not my dick.” Bart doubled over, clutching the body part in question. “I’m sorry. I’ll listen. I’ll take whatever punishment you give me, but don’t kill me, please don’t kill me.”
“It seems your presence has rendered him more useless than usual,” Sei sighed, digging Hades in the thigh with his elbow. “Why don’t you take your new mate somewhere special and get to know him. You have my word Bart won’t bother you or your mate again.”
Slowly moving his arm, Hades bought his hand up to his face. His sweet little chipmunk showed no fear – even reaching out for him with his cute front paws. “Are you ready to leave?” He asked keeping his voice as low as possible which wasn’t easy in this form. Ali’s excited bobbing of his head meant his fur brushed across Hades’ cheek sending tingles throughout his whole body. Closing his eyes, Hades enjoyed the sensation for just a moment, before translocating them to his favorite earthly home. No matter how accepting Ali was proving to be, he wasn’t about to subject his mate to the cold hardness of the Underworld until he absolutely had to.
Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers and other writers. You can friend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/lisaoliverauthor), catch up on what’s happening at her blog (http://www.supernaturalsmut.com) or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Today I welcome Sue Brown! Not only is she a fabulous author, she's an all around nice person (despite what she claims in her bio)! She's got an adorable dog too.
It’s not often I think about tropes before I write a book, and I didn’t this time. What happened was three books about second chances. Second chance romances is probably my favourite trope. I love the idea that maybe first time around wasn’t the right time, but now it is. What about you? Do you think you could give someone a second chance to hold your heart?
When I first wrote Alpha Home I couldn’t work out how to get Si and Howie back together. It took a long time but finally they talked to me. This is their story about a second chance to love again, which of course was the theme for Alpha Barman. Even Alpha Chef is a second chance story, as Greg gets a second chance at family life. I hope you enjoy Si and Howie’s story. I’m very fond of them.
This series is also available in Kindle Unlimited
Will an alpha guy like Si willingly give his heart to Howie for a second chance at love?
Si Raines thought his plans were set for the future. He’d marry his fiancé, the bar-owner Howie Gray, continue with his covert ops career, and when he was ready to retire from that, find a new job and settle down to life together. But a text from Howie throws all the plans into a maelstrom of chaos and hurt, and Si swears he’ll never return to J.T’s Bar again.
Two years later, when an injury ends his covert ops job against his will, he finds himself back at the bar, only to discover Howie is still around, and in danger from a stalker. When Howie begs him for help, Si has to decide if he’s willing to get involved. Apart from doubting whether he can protect anyone with his injury, is he really prepared to be around Howie again? The attraction between them is still electric, and Howie seems willing to explain his behaviour. But can Si forgive him? Faced with the resurrection of old wounds and imminent danger to them both, can Si find it in his heart to rebuild his relationship with Howie and take a second chance on love?
Mitch picked up a burger and looked at Howie. “Start at the beginning. What makes you think someone’s got you in their cross-hairs?”
Howie went through the things he had told Si. By the time he finished Si had managed to eat a burger and wings, and more of Greg’s amazing onion rings. He’d also downed his IPA and gotten a replacement from Moose. He had to admit he felt better.
When Howie trailed to a close, Jake just looked him. “Why the hell didn’t you tell us this before? Why now? We could have done something.”
“I had Mom to think about,” Howie said quietly. “If I’d told you then she would have found out and all hell would have let loose. You know she wasn’t a well woman. I didn’t want to worry her.”
“But you said she’d been targeted too,” Jake said.
“I don’t know.” Howie’s voice rose in his frustration. “This all could just be kids having a laugh with my house and maybe a coincidence that anyone hit mom’s car.
Si took Howie’s hand in his and squeezed it. “I know this is difficult for you, but the more information we get, the quicker we can fix this. It’s the lack of information that causes problems.” He grimaced as his hip twinged painfully and reminded him the last time he was on the receiving end of bad intel.
Mitch nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Howie, it may be nothing. Lots of things happen to people which are just coincidences, but you’ve noticed there’s a trend and that’s worrying. Why don’t you let us look into it and then we can reassure you if it’s just coincidence or more serious?”
“Where are you living now?” Si asked Howie.
He had to wait a minute for Howie to swallow his food. He was behind everyone else as he’d been relaying his story. “Still got my old house.”
“You need to move in here,” Jake said.
Howie shook his head. “I can’t live here.” He looked horrified which hurt Si a little.
Mitch turned to Howie wearing his ‘I’m taking no argument’ expression Si had seen many times. “Jake’s right. You can’t be on your own. Here we can keep an eye on you.”
“The alternative is I move in with you at your place,” Si said flatly. He too was brooking no argument. Howie wasn’t going to take a step away from him unless there was always someone else protecting him.
“You’re in no fit state to protect Howie at the moment,” Mitch said, his tone just as flat.
Much as Si wanted to disagree with that, he was right, dammit. At the moment he could barely walk, let alone fight. It was part of the reason he’d been so quick to bring Mitch and Jake into the conversation. “Howie, this is the best thing to do. You can sleep in the big room, I’ll take the small room.”
Jake snorted and Si turned to look at him. “The small room has turned back into a storage room. You’ll both need to share the big room.”
“I can’t do that,” Howie insisted.
“You don’t get a choice,” Mitch said. “Until we find out what’s going on, or not going on, you’re under our protection. I know this is difficult for you both.” He looked between Si and Howie. “But the first thing you did, Howie, was tell Si you were in trouble. Not Jake, not me. You told Si.”
Meet Sue Brown
Edie Montreux has a new MM fantasy romance out: "The King's Physician." And there's a giveaway!
Devlin was the King’s Physician until a blood mage siphoned Devlin’s magic and used it to wipe the kingdom’s memories. Sir Eldrich, his replacement, has protection against Filvane’s spells, but he only knows the whispered rumors: Devlin, the former King’s Physician, stole King Korgon’s crown on his coronation day.
Once Eldrich is appointed King’s Physician, Devlin notices a decline in King Korgon’s health and wonders if Eldrich is to blame. When Eldrich nearly bleeds to death on Devlin’s doorstep from grievous sword wounds, they’re thrown together in a race to keep King Korgon alive. They question the other’s allegiance to their king, but it will take their combined efforts and trust to stop Filvane from destroying Korgon and the entire realm of the living. In the end, these two King’s physicians may have more in common than their titles. They may even fall in love.
Edie is giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
Once he was finished stitching the wounds closed, Devlin studied the young man’s slack face. He had a strong jaw, and his cheeks had only a couple of hours’ worth of blond stubble beneath well-trimmed sideburns. A ponytail of wild blond curls tangled at his shoulders, secured with a band of braided leather. He was probably the best-looking man Devlin had ever seen on his cot, and not for lack of trying. He’d brought many strangers into his operating room for one reason or another.
The young man regained consciousness as Devlin soaked his tools in a jar of alcohol. “How long have I been here?” he demanded, snatching his jacket and shirt from the table and clutching them to his bare chest. He seemed especially concerned about displaying the tattoo on his left shoulder. Devlin hadn’t paid it much attention. He’d been more intent on searching the young man’s clothing for hidden pockets.
“Maybe an hour,” Devlin said. Long enough to go through the man’s pockets and find them empty, even the hidden breast pockets and boot sheath.
“I was robbed,” the young man said. “Did you see my attackers?”
Devlin shook his head. He’d been too preoccupied saving the man’s life to notice anyone following him. Robbery explained why the man had nothing, not even a scrap of coin.
The longer the man sat on the cot, the worse he appeared. Too soon for infection, Devlin was certain. He handed the man a glass of water, which he took and sipped.
“I don’t feel well.”
Devlin couldn’t resist stating the obvious. “You don’t look well.”
“Do you have an indoor toilet?”
Devlin pointed him in the direction of the water closet, on the other side of the stairs from his operating room. After a few moments, he heard retching. Devlin thanked the gods he’d cleaned the toilet before starting to sweep.
After a few moments of intense choking and a few sobs, something solid clattered into the bowl. Devlin kept no trinkets in the small room, and the man hadn’t time to steal anything.
The pipes creaked and groaned, drowning out all other sounds. Devlin returned to work. He dusted the books along the back shelves to pretend he wasn’t eavesdropping.
The man returned, a little disheveled but more energetic than before. Devlin noticed a bulge in his breast pocket. He’d checked that pocket while the man lay unconscious. Now, it would be damn near impossible to frisk him again without seeming forward.
Devlin waited for the right time. He offered tea, or coffee, or more water. “You still look a little under the weather.”
“No, thank you. I should be going.”
“Breath mint?” he asked as he followed the man up the main aisle of the store.
“Yes, please,” the man said, licking chapped lips.
Devlin handed him one from the bowl of candies by the cashbox. He grabbed one for himself for good measure.
“I can close up shop, then, and walk you home.”
“No need. I’m on my way to the castle.”
“Oh.” The castle. The one place Devlin could not go, in all of Dovington. Damn Filvane, and damn Korgon for banishing him. “Well, glad you’re all right, then.” Devlin grasped the man’s hand as he turned toward the door. “You never told me your name.”
“Sir Eldrich.” Even his name sounded full of coin, and familiar, damn it all.
“Are you King Korgon’s new physician?” Devlin asked with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Devlin should have known. Blue and gold were the colors of Korgon’s court. The blush in Eldrich’s cheeks encouraged him. The affirmative identity also eased his conscience. He could steal from his successor, if it meant discovering his dark purpose. The bulge in Eldrich’s breast pocket could be an item of high treason, he thought as he pulled Eldrich into a hug. He snaked one arm between them to pluck the heavy object from the inner breast pocket of Sir Eldrich’s suit coat. He touched cold metal and a smooth glass-like surface.
“Why, sir. This is quite unusual,” Eldrich said, his warm breath tickling Devlin’s ear.
Devlin let go and leaned back to look in Eldrich’s hazel eyes. Eldrich’s lips parted in surprise. Devlin took the invitation and leaned in for a kiss, the perfect distraction.
Eldrich responded like a drowning man. He pushed his body against Devlin’s, clutching Devlin’s hip with his good hand so Devlin couldn’t back away. Eldrich’s kiss wasn’t as foul as Devlin had feared, especially with the powerful peppermint candy in his mouth. The way Eldrich kissed more than made up for a little bile. He almost wished they could stay like this, two strangers with no mutual acquaintances. The ruse would be discovered the moment Eldrich realized who he was.
Devlin moaned as he slipped the object into the secret compartment in the lining of his belt. Sir Eldrich whimpered as Devlin broke the kiss.
“What was that?”
“A kiss, for luck,” Devlin said. “Good luck getting to the castle.”
“Yes,” Eldrich said, fear replacing desire in his eyes. “I must hurry, sir…”
“Devlin. Just Devlin.”
“Devlin,” Eldrich said with a smile devoid of recognition. “if I am successful, I will return with your reward.”
Devlin had a feeling Eldrich would return with a battalion of guards instead. He hoped the bauble was worth it.
Edie Montreux is a cis/demi/het ally for all aspects of the LGBTQ+ rainbow. She loves her husband, Queen, dogs, and video games. Edie works full-time to support her LGBTQ-fiction writing habit, but still finds time to walk the dogs and protect imaginary worlds from fantasy creatures.
Edie also has a Facebook Author page, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon. Email Edie and let her know what you think of The King's Physician! If you also like M/M romance set in the early 1990's and you love Queen, read her first novel, Spread Your Wings.
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