From the moment Taden rescues Nathaniel from the Sutherlin soldiers' torture, he finds himself caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he's ever seen; amazing eyes that hold him thrilled and confused. The Sutherlins are planning to invade the beautiful Tahon Valley, but as Taden secrets Nathaniel from their reach, he finds himself drawn to the young man. Not only does he feel the urge to protect him, but he feels an ache he hasn't felt in many long years.
Nathaniel claims to be a traveler from a distant continent, saying he comes in peace. True or not, the youth has powers beyond anything Taden has seen -- control over men and animals and the very weather. Taden falls hard for the strange traveler, protecting him not only from the Sutherlins but from his own mistrustful people, who don't understand Nathaniel's powers and accuse him of being a witch ...
Taden waded through layers of sleep. There was a voice speaking urgently in his ear, and he forced his eyes open and winced at the sunlight.
"Bryce?" he asked, and cleared his throat. The captain nodded and put a hand under his arm when he made the effort to sit up. Taden glanced at the rumpled blankets, and a small pain settled in his heart. Where was Nathaniel?
"What are you doing here?" he asked to hide his dismay. "I thought I told you to go to the Duke."
"I sent the boys on," Bryce said. He sat back on his heels, his gray eyes focused on Taden's face. "I have to applaud the witch. I lost your path by midmorning yesterday --"
"Don't call him that," Taden warned.
Bryce shrugged. "As you wish, but there's not many who can lose me once I'm on their trail. I despaired of finding you until I came across Conor, who seemed to know exactly where you were."
Taden climbed to his feet and plucked the blankets from the ground. "Conor? Nathaniel's cousin?"
Bryce gave him a dark look. "Come and see," he said, and Taden followed him into the glen. He swore under his breath as they passed the spring. The horses were missing as well as his pack and supplies. Damn the lad, he thought, feeling betrayed.
A man rose from the smoldering fire as they came up, slim and dark, his skin light brown. Taden stopped, pinned in place by the man's rich brown eyes, snared. He clenched his hands as something crawled across him mind, seeking entrance to his thoughts. But then Conor blinked, and a mocking smile flitted across his handsome face.
"I see my cousin's put his mark on you," the man drawled, and Taden flushed at his derisive eyes. "He protects your mind from ... well, men like me. Pity. They must be interesting thoughts to have captured his interest so quickly. Usually Nathaniel's far more circumspect."
"What are you doing in Netherlin?" Taden asked, purposefully abrupt. He'd be damned if he'd allow the haughty man to have everything his way. Anger swept the stranger's face, and Bryce stepped hastily between them.
"Lord Taden, this is Conor, from across the sea --"
"I don't care where he's from. Conor? I find it interesting that you've come at the same time the Sutherlins are mounting forays into the valley."
A sneer curled the mobile lips. "Why should I care about the doings of your little country? Nathaniel and the sweet vixen he travels with have defied me. I've come to take them home. Those soldiers are merely tools to that end."
"Is that so?" Taden's dislike of the man was growing by the instant. Despite his physical beauty, there was a fey look in Conor's dark eyes that urged caution.