It is the year 1692.
Nicolas has been able to experience a dream come true, finally having the man he most wants: his best friend Jackson.
However, there is a price. Nicolas is to be inducted into an order of men responsible for protecting the earth. While Nicolas is able to lie with Jackson and be his mate, he must complete a task before his magic can take hold completely within him.
He must have sex with the rest of the men who protect the world.
Will Nicolas give himself willingly to others, having only recently found his heart’s desire?
“Welcome, Nicolas. Are you ready for your initiation?”
Nicolas took in the sight of the spirit in front of him. She was more beautiful than any mortal woman could hope to be, though she was made of blue light instead of flesh and bone. Her form flowed as if moved by the very air itself.
“Initiation into what?” Nicolas whispered. The spirit filled him with reverence—there was no other word for it. There was something about her that seemed older than time itself. He knew this just from her touch, from the soft timbre of her voice that rustled like the leaves in the trees.
She smiled at him. “Of course, you don’t know yet. However, you will.” She gestured to the other four men in the clearing. “They are the Guardians. They guard and protect the Earth’s magic. Without it, the world as you know it would fade and decay until nothing was left.”
“What magic do they protect?”
The spirit laughed then, a soft sound like the tinkling of silver bells. “Why, me of course.”
“You?” Nicolas was taken aback. “Surely someone as powerful as yourself does not need protection?”
She levelled her gaze at him. “And how do you know that I am powerful?”
“I can feel it, sense it,” Nicolas said.
She nodded at him, pleasure in her eyes. “I have chosen well in you, Nicolas. You are only just into your magic, yet you can sense the depth of mine.” She gestured to a low stone table in the center of the clearing, in front of her tree. “Sit.”
When Nicolas had done so, she approached him. “I have many names, but you may call me Diana. I was once a Dryad. Do you know what a Dryad is, Nicolas?”
Nicolas had heard many tales from his grandmother of Dryads and the Fair Folk. “You are a tree spirit.”
She nodded. “I once was. Long ago, I could not go far from my tree, or I would lose my power and begin to age. I would lose my immortality and pass away into the ether.” A fleeting look of loss passed through her eyes. “But I did leave my tree for the love of another. When I passed on, I found my spirit here, within my tree once more. I was something different, something changed. I could sense the earth pulsing through me, the air above me responding to my movements. I had become a lady of the Earth instead of a lady of Water. Do you understand?”
Nicolas thought for a moment then nodded. “Your spirit still had work to do.”
She laughed again, that sound of tinkling bells. “Very well put, Nicolas. Yes. In time I learned that I was the conduit for all magic, but more than that, I was the Earth itself. If I should die, the Earth would die with me. Now do you see why I need protection?”
“But what could you possibly need protection from?”
A darkness entered her stare. “There are things in the shadows that are not like you or the other men in this clearing. Magic itself is neither black nor white; instead, it all depends on the user’s intent. Some would indeed have me die so that the world could welcome the darkness. This must not happen. I must be protected, my tree must be protected, at all costs.”
“I will do whatever you ask of me.”
Diana smiled at him and touched a cool hand to his cheek. “Yes, you will. But your magic is not fully quickened yet. You need to complete your initiation.”
“And how will I do that?”
“Through the purest magic there is, the act of carnal pleasure. Only in its release do mortals see into the world beyond. It is in this release that your magic will become whole.”
“But Jackson and I have already bonded.”
“I know this. However, it takes more than one release to fulfill your magic. Three times must pass before your magic is complete. And you must bond with your brothers as well.”
“I do not have any brothers.”
“You misunderstand me. I mean your fellow Guards.”
Nicolas shivered a little at her words. “I am already bonded with Jackson,” he repeated.
“This will not be a handfasting as you have experienced with Jackson. The love you have for each other will continue to grow. But you must mate with the Guards to strengthen the bond between all five of you. It is the only way.”
Her form began to dissipate. As it faded back into the bark of her tree, her final words echoed through the clearing. “Let the initiation begin.”