Samuel has devoted the last six years of his life to serving his king as an assassin, but the adventures he was promised are starting to lose their appeal. Two years ago, he realized what was missing in his life, but he was too afraid to act on it. When the need becomes too great, he leaves in the middle of the night to return home to his best friend … the man he fell for without even knowing it. Though he fears Quentin might not be able to accept his past, he knows he has to try to win the man’s heart.
Be Warned: m/m sex, rimming
Quentin focused on Jesse a minute, accepting a block he was handed and dutifully putting it where Jesse pointed. Soon, he said, “Dinner was wonderful. I’d never have guessed you could have a romantic meal with a two-year-old at the table.”
“I’m glad the food turned out well. And that you thought it was romantic. I worried maybe it was just me.”
“It wasn’t. No one’s cooked for me since Mom died. Lizzie and I always made dinner together. Cleaned up together. Until near the end of her pregnancy. Then I tried to make her rest.”
Samuel could hear the wistfulness in Quentin’s voice, see the sadness coming to his eyes. “You miss her, but we never talk about it.”
Quentin looked puzzled. “Does it matter? I don’t want to be maudlin.”
“I worry you don’t have anyone to talk to. To depend on.”
“I write to you. I talk to Jesse. Babies are great listeners. There’s no judgment.” He shifted on the ground, putting his weight on his left side and arm, leaning closer to Samuel. “What about you? Who do you talk to? Who helps you deal with … stuff?”
“Stuff? You mean my work?”
Quentin nodded. “I worry about you. Sylvana was right. You’re sweet. Sounds stupid to call a big guy like you sweet, but you are. I worry your work will change you.”
“Everything we do changes us. Can’t stop that.”
“But are you all right with it? Really? There are other ways to make money.”
“I know, but my work isn’t quite what you think. I don’t kill people because the king doesn’t like them or they pissed him off.”
“Then why do you kill them?”
“I can’t tell you. Not really. I’m forbidden from telling you names. Or times and places.” He took a deep breath. “I want to quit. You asked me that before, and I didn’t give you a clear answer. Yes, I do want to quit, and yet I don’t.”
“Can you give me a good reason you want to keep doing it?”
“I believe I do good.”
“How can killing people be good?”
“If someone was trying to hurt Jesse, wouldn’t you try to kill them?”
“I’d try to stop them. I wouldn’t be aiming to kill.”
“But if you had no choice?”
Quentin sighed. “I don’t know. If someone really wished to hurt Jesse or you, then yes, I probably would. But I don’t see the point in talking about things that will probably never happen. But if we’re together, I want you with me. Here or somewhere else, I don’t care, but I’ll go crazy worrying if you continue being the king’s killer.”
Samuel flinched. “You’ve never,” he swallowed, his chest tightening, “called me a killer before.”
Quentin had shifted positions again and now hugged his knees to his chest. “But you are,” he said very softly. “I fear what it’s done to you. What it will do to you.”
“You won’t be with me if I don’t quit?”
Quentin pressed his lips together and turned to look at Jesse instead of answering.
“Last night, I said I wouldn’t answer your question. It’s fair enough you won’t answer mine.”
“I’m just … confused,” Quentin said, looking back at him. “I’m not saying I won’t be with you if you continue to be an assassin. But thinking of you being in danger gets me all muddled. It’s hard to know what I want.”
“Then maybe I should help you find some clarity.” Samuel moved closer, giving Quentin plenty of time to move away if he wished. When he stayed put and turned his face up, Samuel took that as encouragement. He gripped the back of Quentin’s head and kissed him. He wanted to pin Quentin to the grass and leave him panting for breath, but that didn’t seem like the right move. Instead, he kept his embrace gentle and sweet. Quentin sighed against his lips and pressed closer, and when they parted, Samuel struggled to find words as they gazed into each other’s eyes.
But then a voice broke the silence for them. “So, this is Quentin? I see you aren’t wasting time, at least.”
Samuel recognized that voice. He looked up and saw a man in very plain clothes standing at the gate. The man removed his hat, and his long red hair tumbled around his shoulders. He smiled, the expression almost a smirk, as he was probably proud of having sneaked up on them.
“Yes, Your Majesty, this is Quentin.” Samuel stood up, helping Quentin rise to his feet. “Quentin, may I introduce you to Jareth, your nosy king?”