Malcolm, a sorcerer in Melara, heads north to meet with another magic user, who happens to be the land’s new queen. But on the way there, Malcolm rescues Christopher, a handsome young man who casts a completely different kind of spell on the sorcerer.
Malcolm tries to focus on his diplomatic mission, but the queen insists the two men met for a reason. They’re just beginning to explore this connection when the kingdom is threatened, and Malcolm finds himself fighting not only for his new friends but also for the man he’s growing to love.
Be Warned: m/m sex, rimming
Christopher patted Bessie on the neck. “You all right today, darling? Not scared anymore?” Though he’d cursed at her fiercely the day before, he couldn’t blame her for having been frightened by the shadowcat’s cry and the way it had leapt out at them.
Gerard and Jacob came in a few moments later. When Jacob grinned at him, Christopher knew Gerard had said something about Malcolm. He gave Gerard a pointed look, but the man only shrugged.
Jacob laughed. “Both in my world and in this one, men look good in kilts.”
“Kilts?” Christopher asked. He had to do this a lot with Jacob, who often forgot the other highwaymen hadn’t heard as many of his stories as Gerard had.
“In my dimension, the plaid is called a kilt. At least the lower part. We call the pattern plaid and the sash part as well. They’re separate pieces in my world,” Jacob said, gesturing across his chest. Then he shrugged, too. “I had a blast talking to the lowlanders about it at the wedding reception.”
“And I think they got a kick out of you,” Gerard said as he kissed his lover on the cheek and then moved to his horse. “I’m sure Malcolm will be especially interested since he’s a magic user. He might even have theories of his own about how are worlds are connected.”
Jacob’s eyes lit up. “I hope so. I’d love to talk about it with him.”
Christopher mounted his horse as Gerard and Jacob continued to talk about Jacob’s world. Jacob and two other people had come to their world from another dimension thanks to an enchanted portrait Maeva had made a couple of years ago. She’d had to destroy it because of all the trouble it had caused. Christopher had never given too much thought to the other dimensions that could be glimpsed in mirrors and bodies of water, but he liked Jacob and felt lucky to know him. He glanced away as the men laughed together. Jacob’s arrival seemed fated to Christopher because he and Gerard appeared to have been made for one another. He envied that and prayed he wasn’t setting himself up for pain in hoping fate was working in his favor in a similar way with Malcolm.
When they arrived at Theodore’s house, Christopher caught Gerard watching him. The older man came over as Christopher tied up Bessie. “We promise not to tease you,” Gerard said, but then he winked before tying up his horse, Thunder. Even the stallion looked over Christopher in a way that suggested teasing. Christopher shook the thought away. He’d never been nervous around any man before, and he wouldn’t start now.
But then Malcolm came striding out of the house in his red plaid with his shirt only half buttoned and his dark hair damp and falling over his equally dark eyes. Malcolm smiled, and Christopher had to hold to his horse’s reins a moment.
Gerard introduced Jacob, who immediately began talking about the connection between the highlanders of his world and the lowlanders here. Christopher liked the distraction, as it gave him a few moments to compose himself.
Malcolm nodded at Jacob a lot and eventually they worked around to the day’s agenda, mending a fence for a widow about a mile away. He finished buttoning his shirt and swept his hair out of his face as he said, “I’m all yours. Anything that’s needed. The queen’s occupied today and won’t have time for me.”
“Jacob and I are going over to get the rest of the supplies,” Gerard said. “Christopher can show you the way, and you two can start clearing away the broken wood. We’ll be done by lunch, and then we can introduce you to some of the other men back at the manor.”
Malcolm smiled as his gaze flicked to Christopher. “Sounds like an excellent plan.”
Jacob and Gerard walked away immediately, and Malcolm came over to Christopher. “Just let me saddle my horse, and then we can set off.”
Christopher nodded and followed him into the barn, where he began saddling the blue roan stallion. “He has such beautiful coloring. What’s his name?”
“Beau.” Malcolm patted his neck. “He’s a treasure. I found him. He’d been hurt, and I managed to touch his mind, as I did with the shadowcat. We’ve been best friends ever since.”
Christopher smiled. “I love horses. I used to sleep in stables to stay warm. The horses made me feel better.”
It thrilled Christopher that Malcolm only nodded and didn’t look at him with pity. “At times, I like animals far better than people.”
Malcolm hesitated, but then he walked over to Christopher and took his hand. “I’m happy we’ll be spending so much time together. You threw me a bit yesterday, but…”
“But?” Christopher asked.
Malcolm kissed his hand. “I did a lot of thinking last night. Lots of things had to happen to get the two of us here, from Gerard finding you and Maeva marrying the king to me being a sorcerer and you being attacked by that shadowcat. That’s an awful lot of work. I shouldn’t have dismissed your advances.”
“It’s going to be really hard to mend that fence now you’ve said all that. Might hit my thumb with a hammer a few times,” Christopher said, squeezing Malcolm’s hand.
“Just wanted to make myself clear since we have a few moments alone.” He licked his lips. “And if you hit anything with a hammer, I’ll kiss it and make it better, if I can sneak around your protectors.”
“No worries about Gerard and Jacob. They were both teasing me earlier. Left us alone on purpose. Gerard was concerned at first, but we talked. You know, about what I was telling you about how they treat me. I think putting my feelings into words was good for all of us.”
“Got his blessing, huh?”
Christopher couldn’t help laughing. “Tentative, I’d say, but yes.”
“Well, I’d better do good work today and prove myself both a good potential highwaymen and a worthy suitor.”
Christopher couldn’t help picturing Malcolm in the black masks the other highwaymen wore. Oh yes, definitely going to end up hitting something with a hammer today.