Destiny's End (MM)
Many obstacles stand in the way of baronet’s son Warrick Synclaire being with his best friend, Thomas Smythe. Same-sex love is illegal in early 20th Century England, and Warrick is heading for Canada while Thomas is destined for the military college at Sandhurst. Warrick isn't sure he can bear the separation.
However, the day before Warwick leaves, Thomas persuades him to see a fortune teller. The old gypsy woman’s warnings fail to scare Warwick, but another gypsy, Nicolae, by turns intrigues, arouses, and terrifies him. That night, Nicolae breaks into Warwick’s bedchamber, bedding then biting him. Warwick, unable to process the encounter, convinces himself it was just a bad dream and sails off to Canada to start a new life.
In Canada, Warrick renews his acquaintance with Fox Sullivan, who he first met during the war. Soon the two become lovers, but for Warwick, the relationship is purely physical. Thomas still owns his heart. When he can stand their separation no longer, Warrick returns to his ancestral home in Kent, determined to reunite with Thomas, who now has a lover of his own. But the encounter with Nicolae years earlier changed Warwick considerably. Every full moon he turns into a ravenous creature, which seems able to rule Warwick’s life even during the daytime.
Determined to win over Warrick, Fox sells his medical practice and sails to England. But is he too late to save the man he loves?
The gypsy studied me for a moment, then gestured for Thomas to seat himself before her. “I think he is more than a friend.” Her voice was so low I almost couldn’t distinguish her words, and for a moment I worried, but then I knew I didn’t need to, since both Thomas and I would be leaving soon. “Tell me, young sir. What is your desire?”
He promptly held his palm out to her. “What does my future hold, Grandmother?”
I stood at Thomas’s shoulder and watched as Syeira took his hand in her work-worn grip and studied it intently. She stroked her fingertips over the plump mound at the base of his thumb and across the depression in the centre of his palm. She shivered. “Do you wish for the truth?”
He looked affronted. “Of course I want the truth. I’m a man. I can deal with whatever comes my way.”
The gypsy smiled sadly and looked at his palm again. “Proud,” she murmured, almost to herself. “Very well, young sir. Your path will not be easy. There will be loss along the way -- great loss. But you are brave and will bring much honour to the name you bear.” She met his gaze. “What more do you wish to know?”
“Love, Grandmother. Will my love return to me?” He glanced at me through his lashes.
“The one you love will come to you through danger, across flood and fire -- ” She gasped and her hand tightened convulsively on Thomas’s. Her eyes searched his deeply. “Because of the one who will love you, you will be under the protection of a very ancient power.” She looked at him with something akin to awe.
I thrust my palm in front of her. “Read my future, old woman.” Already I was trying to determine how I could make her words to Thomas refer to me. I was going across the ocean, surely that could signify as a flood. Danger and fire, though ...
She let my friend withdraw his hand, and then she took mine. She shivered again and reached up to move aside the collar of my shirt. I thought she lost all colour in her cheeks, but I dismissed it as fancy since I was unable to come up with a logical explanation for that. She released my collar and turned to Thomas, all the while maintaining her hold on my left hand with her other hand. “Young sir, be so kind as to bring me another candle,” she directed him. He ducked out of the tent, and I slid into his seat. The gypsy leaned forward, speaking urgently. The words that spilled from her mouth were indecipherable. They seemed to roll over me, reverberating in my skull, but I couldn’t make sense of a single one of them.
“Speak English, Syeira,” I demanded petulantly. “What are you telling me?”
And then abruptly I could understand her again. “The young sir is not for you, my son. Your future paths will cross, but there will be only sorrow and death at the end of them if you do not let him be.”
I was stunned. This was not the type of reading a gypsy normally gave, and I struggled to free my hand. “You must be mad, old woman!”
Thomas returned just then with a candle stuck in a tin cup. “Here you are, Grandmother.”
“Thank you, young sir.” She held my gaze over the flickering light. “You will recall my words, and return to this place, when the time has ripened. Until then, go with God, my son. Nicolae,” she called. A young gypsy male thrust aside the opening of the tent. He wasn’t as tall as I, but he was brawny, and I backed away from him. “Show these gentlemen from the camp.”
She refused to accept our coins. Thomas bowed politely over her hand, but I could see he was concerned by her action.
The gypsy, Nicolae, laid his hand on my shoulder, and I shrugged it off sharply, disturbed by the sensation of his touch. His dark eyes bored into mine, and it was as if something passed between us.
“Come,” he said in a guttural tone, and he led us to the edge of the camp.
It had grown late. The fires had been banked, and the villagers and tenants had all returned home.
“Thank you for visiting us,” the gypsy murmured. He started to turn away, but Thomas seized his arm.
“Wait. Take this, with thanks for the fortune the grandmother foretold.”
He took the coins from Thomas, then stared into my eyes. His lips were parted in a frightening smile, revealing sharp teeth, and I wanted to whimper. It was a cruel smile, such as I’d never before seen directed at me.