Markle Vanrick is cursed by the gods. Nothing in his life has ever worked out. So, when he works up the courage to leave home with only his lute, it’s only natural his money is stolen and he’s stuck without a way to get to his cousin’s farm.
Enter Frye Indori, a mischievous man who lives life to the fullest -- only because he’s a few steps away from being caught and killed. Blessed with magic from the goddess Magana, Frye fled his hometown to escape the clutches of the corrupt priestess performing evils in the goddess’s name. When he runs into helpless Markle, he feels obligated to show Markle there is some good in the world.
Like it or not, Markle gets caught up in Frye’s game of fox and hare. When the priestess finally catches them, Markle may have a few surprises of his own.
Frye stood up and went to the largest open part of the room -- in between the foot of the beds and the fireplace. He listened to Markle’s song for a few measures, then began to dance. This wasn’t his special dance, as he told Markle. Instead, he just moved to the music, allowing his body to sway to the simple, but pleasurable beat.
Markle had instinctively picked the perfect tempo. Not too fast, but quick enough to keep Frye ever shifting into the next step. Frye spun, landing on his right foot just as Markle struck a higher course. It was as if Markle’s music spoke to Frye’s soul; they were completely synchronized.
A deep stirring washed over Frye, several emotions cascading around him so he had trouble telling one from the other. Love for his family. Regret that he’d let them die. Determination to keep living. They all swirled together inside him. Frye glanced at Markle, seeing almost the same feelings reflected on the kid’s face.
Am I feeling my own emotions, or am I sensing his?
Frye looked away, concentrating on his steps. He didn’t care whose feelings they were. He could drown them out. He jumped, kicking his leg into the air, and landing on a neatly pointed toe. His arms flew out to the side and he turned quickly. Once. Twice. Three times. His leg tucked close to him to increase his speed. Though it used no magic, it still felt as if the euphoric pleasure was being stimulated.
A new emotion made its way into his head. Desire.
He looked at Markle and saw hungry need on the musician’s face.
Frye spun again, breaking eye contact, but quickly returned his gaze. Markle’s already dark eyes seemed darker.
Frye moved forward, his legs still nimbly dancing.
Markle’s fingers slid over the strings, the melody morphing into something fiery and full of passion.
Frye danced closer.
There wasn’t enough room beside the bed for him to keep up his kicks, so he simply walked to Markle, his eyes intent on the other man.
The music stopped as Markle’s fingers stilled, and he gripped the lute tightly in his hands.
Frye was right over him now and Markle tipped his head back to look up at him. There was so much open desire in Markle’s eyes, and Frye knew the same reflected in his own.
He reached out and cupped Markle’s chin, tilting his head back farther. The skin felt hot, hotter than it should have been. Maybe it was Frye’s own flesh that burned. He lowered his face.
Their lips touched gently and a warmth spread throughout Frye’s body. Markle’s scent filled his nose, not dissimilar from the ocean breeze, of salt and water. Beneath that, though, was something deeper. A musk of his own, with a hint of lavender and herbs.
Frye pulled back, breaking the contact between them. Markle’s eyes were glazed over.
If Frye hadn't know better, he would have said he’s accidents activated his magic, putting a lust spell on Markle. But he hadn't.
Then Markel’s eyes focused. A look of absolute horror crossed his features and his hands shot up to push Frye away.
Frye stumbled backward from the force. He didn't care. He knew his own eyes were wide. He raised a hand to his lips, touching the residual heat Markle had left.
“What are --” Markle began, but swallowed convulsively. “What are you doing?”
Frye regrouped. He could fake his way through this. He didn't know what had happened, but he wouldn't let this kid see how flustered he felt. He made his face relax and put a crazy smile on his lips.
“That was perfect, Markle. You are an amazing musician. We should do fine for the performance downstairs.”
Markle’s lips parted as his jaw dropped. “Why did you kiss me?”
“Kiss you? Well, to show my appreciation, of course. That's the way we do it in my village.” Frye shifted his grin to a smirk. “Don't tell me, you thought I was trying to seduce you? As I said before, Mackerel, you're not my type.”
The kid lowered his chin. “I know that. It's just that you startled me.”
Frye laughed. “Despite this ‘love affair’ you've claimed to have, physical affection still makes you uncomfortable.”
Now Markle was glaring. At least they'd moved away from that awkward tension. What in Magana’s name had happened?
“Now,” Frye continued before Markle could start shouting. “Let's go eat down in the common room and then we’ll dazzle these folks with our skills.”