Alexander, the crown prince of the Fey, is awakened in the middle of the night and summoned to his father’s chambers. He worries his father might be dying, but he soon learns of a very different tragedy. Every man and woman among the Fey has a cariad, another person who will make them complete, according to legend. Alexander finds out within moments not only that his cariad is a man but also that the king banished this helpless young man from the Fey realm ten years ago in a selfish act of prejudice and superstition. Furious and frantic, Alexander sets out to find the man who holds the other half of his heart—and bring him home.
“Okay. Be right out.” Sebastian crossed the front room and opened another window to get a cross breeze going and then went into the kitchen. He pulled down two travel mugs and fixed their coffees. Alexander had been keeping odd hours all week and seemed exhausted and stressed.
Once outside, Sebastian handed Alexander his coffee. “Here you go.”
“Thank you. I’m glad to see you. I wasn’t sure if you’d be busy studying today.”
“You can always knock on my door.” He nodded to the parking spaces. “The blue car is mine.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Alexander said. He sipped his coffee as they moved around the house to enter the garden. “How was your week?”
“Not too bad. I have an exam Tuesday, but it’s in my favorite class. I’m already prepared for it.”
“What’s your favorite class?”
“Oh. I love Milton.”
“I’ve never even heard the guy teaching this class say that,” Sebastian said with a smile.
“I love literature, and I’ve always been an avid reader.”
“Did you study literature in college? I didn’t even ask what you do the last time we talked.”
“I studied a lot of literature from the time I could read. But I never attended college, actually. I’m self-taught for the most part. And I’m currently unemployed, to tell the truth.”
“I don’t have a job right now. It’s tough, even in a big city like this.” He sipped his coffee to give himself a moment to think. “I don’t mean to be nosy.”
“Not at all. I want to get to know you. I do have something lined up, and I’m preparing for it. It’s going to be very time consuming. A big life change, I guess you could say.”
Sebastian nodded and decided not to press any further. Maybe if they became closer, he’d find out what Alexander did for a living. “Do you like the apartment?”
“Yes, I love it.” He looked around at the rose bushes on either side of them. “But I don’t have this lovely view out my windows.”
“It is nice, especially when everything is in bloom.” He glanced over at Alexander again. “Is everything okay?”
Alexander turned to meet his gaze. “I’m having some family issues. And this job … it’s going to be demanding.”
“Then perhaps I should take you up on that drink soon before you’re too busy for me.”
“I’ll never be too busy for you,” Alexander said immediately.
Sebastian looked down right away, though he did smile. Alexander had sounded so sincere. Does he really like me so much after one afternoon together?
“I’m sorry,” Alexander said. “That was pretty forward.”
Sebastian shook his head. “No, I like honesty. It’s very important to me.”
“Yes. Incredibly important.”
Alexander looked off into the distance for a few seconds before saying, “I’ve had a long, hard week, and I would love to spend this evening with you.” He met Sebastian’s gaze again. “I feel better talking to you. Much better.”
He nodded. “Yes. Your turn.”
“Yes. Honesty. Do you really want to spend this evening with me?”
“Yes, I’d like to.” Spotting a bench, he went to it and invited Alexander to sit beside him. “But in the interest of being honest, I should tell you something.”
“All right.” Alexander sat and set his coffee aside. “What?”
“I’ve always been attracted to older men. I turned you down the other day because it never goes well. I’m twenty years old. I’d love a committed relationship, but I’m nowhere near ready to settle down. You need to know that.”
“All right. Is that all?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“I can live with all that. Quite easily.”
Sebastian twirled his travel mug in his hands. “I didn’t mean to make it sound so serious. I’ve just never said that to anyone. My last lover … I wouldn’t call him a boyfriend, and he wouldn’t have liked it if I had either … anyway, he treated me like a child. I hated that.”
“I won’t treat you that way.”
Sebastian believed him, though he couldn’t explain why. “Then you’ve got yourself a date tonight.”
“Good. I could use a nice, quiet evening with pleasurable company.”
Sebastian tilted his head. “You don’t talk like a guy who never went to college. And you don’t sound like you’re from Alabama. Or anywhere in the South.”
“I’m not.” He leaned in and whispered, “And since you value honesty, I have a confession to make.” He licked his lips and then went on. “I’m actually the crown prince of the fey. I come from the Veiled Court, a magical realm hidden from your own. I’m here to win your heart because the seers of my world saw you in a vision and said we’re fated to be together.”
Sebastian smiled and leaned in as well. He slid his hand over Alexander’s leg. “So you’re into RPG, too?”
“What?” Alexander looked completely confused, but maybe he was just a good actor, considering how believably he’d said all of that nonsense.
“Role-playing games? That sounded like a scenario from one.” He drew back and laughed. “Sorry. I should’ve played along. Would’ve been more fun to let you keep going.”
“You didn’t believe me even for a moment?” Alexander asked, an odd look on his face.
Sebastian moved his hand up Alexander’s leg a bit. “Does sound romantic, I’ll admit.” He tilted his head. “So, you gonna kiss me or what? You just tried to convince me that the fey say we’re destined for each other.”
Alexander placed his right hand over the one Sebastian had on his leg, and then with the other hand he cupped Sebastian’s cheek. “I want nothing more than to kiss you.”
Their lips met, and the embrace was nothing like what Sebastian had expected. It was sweet and searching, and there was nothing at all tentative about the way Alexander’s mouth moved against his.