[Siren Classic ManLove: Erotic Alternative Historical Fantasy Romance, M/M, HEA]
As a member of the Guardians of the Gray Tower, Gibor Vane is unswervingly loyal to his king, but now that loyalty is in question. Someone has betrayed the king, and he is the main suspect. When Lael Monchmart shows up in his home village to bring Gibor in for questioning, Gibor is stunned. In the village to be close to his dying father, he feels emotionally wrecked by the news and by his reaction to Lael.
Though Lael does not believe that Gibor is guilty, he must follow his orders. But the attraction he feels for Gibor is impossible to resist. When he learns that Gibor feels the same, he surrenders to the passion that overwhelms them both.
As they journey to Winterreach and the fate that awaits Gibor, danger stalks them. They must learn to rely on each other and their growing feelings in order to survive.
A Siren Erotic Romance
Britt Kenley is a Siren-exclusive author.
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“The news I bring from Winterreach is not good, Gibor Vane. We have learned that there is a traitor to the king within the ranks of the Gray.”
Gibor was stunned. “Are you sure, sir? I can’t imagine that any of the Guardians of the Gray Tower would betray the king. Every man I know is unquestioningly loyal.”
Gibor saw Lael nod. “I would have said the same thing myself a week ago. But it is true. Even now, the captain and the king’s cousin, Sir Javan of Westmarch, are searching for clues to the identity of this traitor.”
“That is good. But I don’t understand. Why are you telling me? Do you think I might have some information about this man?”
Gibor saw Lael’s eyes darken. “Gibor, I’m afraid that you are one of the main suspects.”
Gibor stood abruptly, his heart beating wildly in his chest at such an accusation. “I would never do anything that would harm King Kelan nor any loyal Emryn citizen. I would rather die first.” He was outraged and hurt that suspicion should be cast his way.
Lael’s words offered comfort, but his face was blank. “I know how you must feel, but the captain has sent me here to bring you back to Winterreach so that you may answer his questions.”
“Why? Why do they suspect me?” He sat back down, his legs suddenly weak and shaky.
“According to a reliable source, the traitor is from Feresa Province and has only been in the Gray for one or two years at most.” Lael explained. “Also, he is someone who has made frequent trips to Feresa in the past several months.”
Gibor was beginning to see why suspicion had fallen on him but couldn’t hold back an explanation. “My father is dying! Of course I’ve been to Feresa frequently.”
“We know that,” Lael solemnly stated.
“What else?” He had to know what other damning evidence there was against him so that he could set about proving his innocence. It would kill his family to know about this. They were so proud of him. And with his father dying…well, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
“You’ve been seen spending funds that would seem to be more than you can afford on your soldier’s pay.”
His heart sank. It was true. He nodded dully. “My father advanced me some of my inheritance so that I could purchase some things I’d been wanting. He said he wanted to witness my enjoyment of them rather than waiting until after he’s dead.” His voice broke slightly as he spoke of his father, and he took a deep breath to regain control. “You can ask my mother if I speak the truth.”
He watched Lael’s eyes narrow. “A mother would lie for her son to save his life.”
Gibor smiled wryly. “Indeed. You are right. And my mother is no exception. She is a good woman, but I believe there is nothing she wouldn’t do to save one of her children from death as a traitor.” He paused. “And who is it I’m supposed to be working for?”
Gibor was not surprised. “The sorceress queen of Angkesh? Of course, being so close to the border, it would not be a surprise if my sympathies were with the Angkeshi, would it?”
Lael shrugged. “It is well-known that many who live in Feresa have kinsmen in Angkesh. There would be much temptation to be sympathetic to their requests for aid.”
“I suppose it wouldn’t help my cause any to admit that I do, indeed, have Angkeshi cousins, though I have never even met them. My father cut all ties to the Angkesh side of our family after our grandfather was killed in a raid by Angkeshi bandits before I was born.”
Lael smiled. “No. I don’t believe it would help your cause. But of course, you’ve already admitted it to me, haven’t you?”
Gibor nodded. “Am I the only one under suspicion?”
“No. There are others. The captain and Lord Javan are working to eliminate as many as they can.”
“How are they doing that?” Gibor needed to know if they would remove him from the list of suspects.
“They are looking into the funds, to see if anyone has more money than usual which would indicate they may have been paid off by the Angkesh.”
Gibor thought that over before his mouth tightened in grim resignation.
“And they are being searched for the Mark of Ang.”
Gibor’s brows rose. “I do not have the mark.”
Lael nodded and met his gaze. “I have been instructed to search you. You understand that I cannot just take your word?”
“Of course. But since I do not have the mark, does that mean that I am removed from suspicion?”
The grim look on Lael’s face told him the answer to that question. “No. If you have the mark, it will identify you positively. But if you do not, that does not clear you completely. Not all of the Angkesh faithful bear the mark. Only those in service to the queen.”
Gibor understood. “So how am I to prove my innocence, then?”
“Will you let me search you for the mark? That will go a long way toward regaining the trust of your king and your captain.”
He heard the bitterness in Gibor’s voice when he replied, “Since I’ve done nothing to lose their trust, that doesn’t make me feel any better, but yes. You can search me.”
Suppressing his feelings of guilt, Lael instructed Gibor. “The mark is always located on the upper right thigh, so I need you to remove your boots and your breeches.”
He saw the young man give a jerky nod of agreement before he leaned down to begin unlacing his boots. Without being able to help himself, he took in every movement the young man made. In other circumstances, this would be a very erotic scene. They were alone in his room, and Gibor was slowly removing his clothing. Lael could feel his cock begin to stir as Gibor set the first boot aside and began to unfasten the other one. Then he peeled off his stockings and stood. Reaching for the belt at his waist, he looked up and met Lael’s eyes with his own. Lael saw Gibor’s eyes widen in sudden realization of the intimacy of the scene. His hands paused in their movements, and he licked his lips.
Lael’s heartbeat grew faster, and his erection was pressing against the lacings of his own breeches. In the periphery of his vision, he saw Gibor’s hands continue to release the belt, but his gaze stayed locked with Lael’s for several long moments. Dropping his gaze at last, Lael saw the outline of Gibor’s own hardness and knew that the man was just as aroused as he was. When Gibor shoved his breeches down past his hips, the young man’s erection sprang free of their confinement, and Lael barely suppressed a groan.
Gibor’s voice was a husky whisper. “Do you want to take a closer look?”
For a moment, Lael didn’t know what Gibor was talking about. Of course he wanted a closer look. Then he remembered. The mark. “Seven hells,” he muttered to himself. His eyes met Gibor’s once more, and he took a step forward. He stopped a few inches from the young man before dropping to his knees before him. His hand brushed lightly over the clear, unblemished skin of Gibor’s right thigh. He heard Gibor gasp at the touch. He couldn’t resist smoothing his hand across the skin once more, and then he allowed his thumb to just brush against the erection that bobbed directly in front of his face. He heard a sharp gasp.
“Sir,” Gibor’s voice was strained.
“Call me Lael, Gibor.” He smiled wryly, knowing that he should stop now but was unable to bring himself to do so. He looked up at Gibor’s face.
“Please what, Gibor?”
He was almost completely lost in the passion, but a shred of sense remained to him. He would not do anything more unless there was no mistaking what Gibor wanted. He was crossing a line here, but he would not be accused of forcing himself on a young soldier. He waited impatiently, his breath quickening. Finally, he heard what he needed.
“Touch me, Lael. Goddess, please touch me again.”
Lael suppressed a small smile as he used his fingers to lightly trace the length of Gibor’s erection, stroking over the vein that ran down the length of the sensitive skin and around the plum-shaped head. He rubbed against the underside. A small whimper rewarded his efforts. Then he curled his fingers around the long, slender stalk and began a rhythmic stroking. He felt Gibor’s hands on his shoulders, their grip tight and frantic as he built the pace of his ministrations.
He heard Gibor’s breathing become harsher and louder in the small room. Not wanting to bring the man over the edge too soon, he stopped and sat back, looking up in time to see his lover’s eyes flicker open and disappointment streak his features.
“Don’t stop, Lael. Seven hells, I was getting so close,” Gibor begged him.
Lael just shook his head. “I don’t want this to end so fast. You’re beautiful. I like seeing you this way. Why don’t you take off the rest of your clothes and go lie on the bed. That way we’ll be more comfortable.”
He could see Gibor’s throat working as he swallowed, but then the young man shook his head in agreement. “All right. You, too. I want to see you naked, too.”
Lael smilingly agreed. Both men stripped quickly, and then Gibor stretched out on the bed looking a little self-conscious. Lael surveyed him hungrily. “By the Goddess, you’re a beautiful man, Gibor Vane.” And he truly was. Long, well-formed legs dusted with dark hair led up to a rampant erection, standing tall and proud in its nest of dark curls. Gibor’s stomach was flat and indented with the outline of his muscles, a testament to the strength and training of the Guardians of the Gray Tower. His chest was almost hairless with just a light sprinkling of curls bisecting the breastbone and leading down to the treasures below. But it was the man’s face that captured Lael’s attention the most. He was sincerely beautiful. Lael hadn’t been exaggerating. His mouth was a temptation with its plump lower lip that made Lael’s own mouth water. Green eyes under heavy brows and a square jawline completed the picture of near perfection. “Absolutely beautiful.”
He saw Gibor’s face flush with embarrassment at the compliment and found the reaction disarmingly endearing. If he wasn’t careful, he could sincerely fall for this young man, who was under suspicion of being a traitor. He paused only a moment, realizing that continuing was a mistake but knowing that he was not going to stop now. Whatever repercussions came as a result of this night, he would face them as he faced everything. With knowledge of his own responsibility.
His erection pulsed at the arousing sight before him, and he reached down to stroke his fingers up and down his own cock, squeezing tightly from base to tip, as his eyes took in the picture Gibor made stretched before him like an offering to the Gods. A drop of pre-cum oozed from the tip, and he swiped a finger over it. Glancing up, he saw Gibor’s eyes follow his movement, and Lael took the few short steps to the bed.