It’s Jarvis’s turn to find his shield, and he almost wishes it weren’t. He and Raleigh knew each other as children and had been together a long time when Raleigh was taken from him, and he doesn’t know if he can keep his distance while Raleigh deals with his new life.
Marlow has no idea who he was in the past, but he knows who he is in the present, or at least, he thinks he does, until he and his son are attacked and freaking mages appear from out of nowhere. It’s a whirlwind as he and Jason are taken to a castle in the middle of nowhere and he’s told that he’s supposed to be the protector of one of the mages.
And that they were in love before he was Marlow.
Jarvis gives Marlow everything he can ever remember wanting—a family, someone to love, and a place to call home. He and the mages and shields are in danger, though, and Marlow is ready to fight to keep his new life and the love of his life safe.
Even though he can’t remember him.
Everything around Jarvis was familiar. After so many years spent in the castle, he would have been surprised if anything had been different.
Well, something was. A new person was at the table, and Jarvis couldn’t look away from him.
Parker had only recently moved into the castle. He’d done so with his best friend, and now the two of them were part of the family. After so long, it was odd to have someone new, but not in a bad way. Besides, Parker and Ansley were together, and Jarvis couldn’t begrudge either of them for that. He wanted Ansley to be happy.
He just wished he wasn’t so jealous.
He’d lost his shield, too, and he still didn’t know what had happened to him. He wouldn’t find out until Ansley perfected the spell he’d used with Parker, and while Jarvis was impatient, he was also terrified. Parker couldn’t remember his past. He couldn’t remember Ansley from before, and he never would. It was probably a good thing in their situation, because they hadn’t been together before, but Jarvis and Raleigh had.
They’d been together a long time. They’d dreamed of building a family, and all those dreams had vanished with Raleigh. Jarvis had been desperate to find him again, but over the years, he’d started to make his peace with the fact that he never would.
And now Raleigh was within reach. There was a chance that Jarvis would finally have him again.
But Raleigh wouldn’t remember him. He’d probably go by another name and have friends, possibly a family—the family he and Jarvis had wanted to build together. Jarvis wanted children, but it was Raleigh who had been convinced they would make good fathers, especially together. It was a good thing they hadn’t had the opportunity to have kids before Carlyle went rogue, if anything, because Jarvis hadn’t had to tell them that their father had vanished.
But Jarvis and Raleigh had been separated for a long time. Jarvis wouldn’t be surprised if Raleigh had found someone to share his life with, and he didn’t know if he was strong enough to find out for sure. He needed his shield because he needed to be protected and to be able to defeat Carlyle, but he didn’t know if his heart would survive.
Something knocked against his arm, jerking him out of his thoughts. He looked to the side at a frowning Penley.
“What is it?” Penley asked. He leaned closer. “You haven’t been yourself lately. What’s going on in that big head of yours?”
Jarvis snorted. “It’s not that big.”
“I’m not sure about that. I mean, you are the smartest of all of us.”
Jarvis had always been their unofficial leader, although he suspected that had more to do with the fact that he was the oldest than because he was smart. Even Tyne was a few years younger than Jarvis, and while Jarvis didn’t exactly feel like a grandpa, he was a good decade older than most of the others. That had always kept him slightly apart from them, even during their years together in the castle. He didn’t mind being the person they came to when they had a problem, though. It kept his mind away from his own problems, and he had plenty of those.
And it was all his fault.
As Carlyle’s master, he should have seen that Carlyle was going down the wrong path. He should have stepped in before Carlyle got out of hand, but instead, he’d been too focused on Raleigh and their life together. He should have kept an eye on Carlyle. If he had, he would have been able to stop him before he wreaked havoc.
To this day, he still didn’t know what Carlyle had been thinking. He’d wanted more power, but to do what? Take over the world? Become rich? Jarvis supposed some people enjoyed having power over others, and while he couldn’t comprehend it, maybe that was what pushed Carlyle to do what he’d done.
Whatever the reason behind Carlyle’s actions, it was too late to change things. Carlyle was back, but the shields weren’t, except for Parker. That left Jarvis and the others vulnerable, which didn’t sit right with him. He might be the unofficial leader, but he was the leader nonetheless, which meant his job was to keep everyone safe. In turn, that meant finding the other dragons before Carlyle could, and that meant getting over his fear of heartbreak once he found out what Raleigh’s life had been like without him.
He wouldn’t begrudge Raleigh for having built a family or for having someone he loved. They’d been separated for decades, and Raleigh didn’t remember Jarvis. It wouldn’t be fair for Jarvis to expect him to have been alone the entire time, but that didn’t mean it was easy to accept that they might never be together again. Jarvis wasn’t sure what he’d do if that happened.
Like the situation between Ansley and Parker had shown, having the mage and his shield bonded in a loving relationship was important. It helped the magic flow and strengthened the dragon and the mage, which Jarvis hadn’t realized because he’d always had that with Raleigh. They’d grown up together, and they’d been each other’s first love.
Raleigh had also been Jarvis’s last love, but Jarvis didn’t expect he could say the same for Raleigh.
“Jarvis?” Penley said.
His tone told Jarvis that he’d been trying to get his attention for a while, and he remembered that Penley had been talking to him.
He forced himself to smile. “I apologize. I’ve been lost in my thoughts lately.”
Penley gave him an understanding smile. “I think we all have been since Ansley found Parker. We’re so close to getting them back, but the fact that they don’t remember us is scary.”