Viktor accepts a new position in Vane Godwin’s household and immediately meets a man he wants to have in his bed. But this time, it won’t be that easy. Thomas might be attracted to him, but Viktor soon learns the younger man’s heart isn’t free. Or so Thomas says…
Thomas is hurt when his childhood friend Bella can’t see him as anything more than a friend, but he knows life has to go on. His new friend Viktor makes that much easier, starting the day Thomas accidentally spills the details of his heartbreak to the man.
But the gods had a plan when they steered Viktor to the right city, and Thomas feels his heart recovering far faster than he’d anticipated. Thomas has always had a plan in place and every part of his life in order, but the chaos the gods bring might be just what he truly needs.
Viktor enjoyed seeing Thomas smile back at him. Visions of the two of them skinny dipping in the ocean immediately filled his mind, but he tried not to focus on them. Everyone kept telling him how shy Thomas was, so it made him feel good to see the younger man warming to him and opening up so much.
“I love the water, so I try to come down to the beach as much as I can when we’re in a port village,” Thomas said.
“Do you swim as a fox?”
“Not in the ocean. I’m too small. I’d get swept away.”
“I’d come out and save you.”
Thomas smiled again. “As a man or a bear? I think it might panic if you had me in your mouth.” He paused, his eyes going a bit wide, and then he looked forward, possibly hoping Viktor hadn’t picked up on how that sounded.
“As a man,” Viktor said, wanting to tease Thomas but letting it go. I doubt you’d panic if I had your cock in my mouth. Or any other part of you. “I’m too big and awkward as a bear. The currents would be impossible to swim through.” He paused before adding, “Though I once carried a bear cub in my mouth. He panicked at first, but then settled down.”
“What? Really?” Thomas exclaimed, apparently intrigued enough to forget to be embarrassed by his unintentional double entendre earlier.
“Yeah. It was hurt. Its mother dead. But it was scared of me as a man, probably because hunters killed its mother. I shifted to calm it down and took it to a local wise woman. It wasn’t afraid of her. She helped it for a few weeks, and then I helped her get it to an area where it would thrive.”
“Was it all right, in the end?”
“I think so. It seemed happy.”
“Are both of your parents bear shifters?”
“Yes. I have one sister who can’t shift, but all of my other siblings can.” He clasped his hands behind his back. “There are twelve of us.”
Thomas blinked rapidly, his mouth falling open. “Twelve?”
“Uh huh. My parents are pretty fond of each other.”
Thomas laughed. “They’d have to be.” After a few seconds, he asked, “Do you want children?”
“It was constant chaos growing up with so many siblings, yet I’m sort of used to the madness. Never really given it much thought. Guess it depends. Can’t have children with a man, and I do tend to prefer male lovers.” He shrugged. “Guess I’ll have to wait and see. Have to find someone to tolerate me first.”
Thomas gazed at him a long time. “I think you’re being modest. Everyone likes you. The maids are all swooning over you. And like I said, some of the stable hands have been eyeing you.”
“Not the same as living with someone and washing his dirty socks.”
Thomas stopped as they reached the sand, crossing his arms and sighing. “Yeah. You’re right. You have to really be devoted to take that step. Marriage. Family.”
Not wanting to dwell on the subject, Viktor said, “Both of your parents foxes?”
Thomas looked down a moment, but then his expression cleared. “Yes.” He looked over at Viktor. “Thanks, but you don’t have to avoid the subject.”
“Just trying to take care of my new friend.” He sat on a large rock and took his boots off. “What color are you?”
“Very dark red. My mom is a white fox, though. She’s so beautiful. Completely white with just a little hint of light auburn on her face.”
Viktor propped his boots against the rock and began rolling his breeches up as Thomas sat beside him and removed his boots, too. “Sounds gorgeous. Are you from Castile?” Viktor asked.
“Yes, but my grandparents on both sides live in the mountains between the Arun and Mera regions, not too far from Castile. My parents went to the city for jobs when they married.”
“You’re happy in the city?”
“Yes.” Thomas stood and made his way toward the water. “How do you feel about staying in one place for so long? Think you’ll get restless?”
“I think I might, but I’m sure I’ll be busy.”
“There’s always plenty to do, though I hope there won’t be a lot of need for your protection.”
“Don’t try to get rid of me. I’m going to be very well paid.”
Thomas stepped into the water and sighed, the sound much more content this time. “I wouldn’t dream of getting rid of you.”
“Good,” Viktor said softly.
Thomas didn’t look at him, but Viktor saw his expression shift a little.
He even thought he saw a hint of a smile.