Two powerful men. Two bitter enemies. One chance at love.
Tav Cyrdath, a powerful wind adept and a brilliant general, leads the last free humans in a war against the Boa Visk, monsters who have enslaved most of humanity. But when the man who rules Illunvia refuses to surrender, Tav is forced to take the city by sword and magic. Victorious, he intends to execute the human traitor who has done so much harm by defying him. But when the defeated ruler, Duric Darmain, begs him to spare the citizens of Illunvia, Tav finds himself overcome by sudden mercy. He takes the man as a hostage instead, intending to use him in a trap against the monsters who have set this war in motion. Duric is defeated, broken...and yet Tav can't get his enemy out of his mind. But how could he ever feel this way about a man who has betrayed all Tav stands for?
Duric knows he was only a puppet ruler for the Boa Visk, yet he has done all he can to shield his people from the cruel overlords. Now he is a prisoner, fallen from power, hated and scorned as a traitor. And yet the enemy general begins to treat him with a curious respect and eventually even kindness. He dares not trust again, but this one-time enemy makes him want to yield his heart as hostage, even as he struggles to conquer the fears he can't escape...
Magic can heal wounds, but hearts must be mended with love. Both men have deep scars. Both have seen dark times. But the chance at love exists...if only they can embrace it before the Boa Visk return.
“Tell me something of yourself,” he finally said, closing his eyes and leaning his head back to enjoy the peace of the garden. “Tell me the story of Duric Darmain.”“That isn’t an interesting tale,” Duric replied, his voice wry.“Tell me anyway.”Duric hesitated for a long moment more before beginning to speak. “I grew up in this city. The House of Darmain is an old noble family. Both of my parents died before the wars, but the devastation hit the family’s interests hard.” He paused again. “Like they hit everyone, I suppose. Only I was here to try and pick up the pieces alone.”“Were you close to your parents?” he asked softly. Hearing Duric talk took his mind off his own problems, and for that he was grateful. But the subject matter seemed full of thorns.“Things were…strained between us.”“How so?”“They felt I should take a wife. But because I only have eyes for men, I did not wish to entrap a young woman in a loveless relationship merely for political ends. You probably think me a fool.”Tav smiled. “A romantic fool perhaps. But there are far worse kinds.”“I suppose that is one way to look at it.” He shrugged and continued. “I was not the perfect son by any means.”“Few sons are. I was not my father’s favorite either.”Duric looked at him with interest. “How so?”“I was taken away at an early age to train with the adeptmagi. Developing my powers…well, everyone believed it was vital for the village where I grew up. For protection, against bandits and raiders. I became one of the most powerful adepts to have learned from the adeptmagi. But after I returned years later, my father did not understand why I could not be content to simply live in the village and help protect it, living a simple existence in a small and quiet place.”“You were meant for greater things,” Duric offered.Tav shook his head. “At the time I was a nobody. Yet I still left my village and headed for Lymoa to fight in the great struggle against the Boa Visk. I wanted more. I needed to be where I was needed.”“I did not fight. When the Boa Visk first invaded, they were unstoppable. This city was among the first conquered.”Tav decided to let the subject go. Their two different fates during the war remained a huge gap between them, a gulf that if they focused on it, seemed nearly insurmountable. The warrior on one hand, the politician on the other. Instead he shifted the subject to something more intimate but less dangerous. “Lovers?”“No man I could truly trust.”Tav sighed out a long breath. He understood that well enough. Not that he didn’t trust his men—while Duric would have been hard-pressed to trust any of the men around him with all the backstabbing and power-grabbing—but he understood the isolation. There hadn’t been anyone special in his life since he’d lost Solen. His men looked to him for leadership. He could not fraternize with them, as much as he might enjoy it.As different as they were, they were also very similar. Both of them were cut off from love and romance and trust because of who they were, because of what the people around them needed them to be. He could sense the profound loneliness in the other man. It matched his own heartache.He reached out and touched Duric’s hand, whether to comfort him or to gain his attention, he did not know. Duric locked gazes with him. The heat, the connection between them intensified, until he felt it trembling through his body like an earthquake, shaking him to his core with emotions he’d long ago pushed aside. The strength of his feelings unsettled him.But the touch seemed to set things in motion that could not be stopped. Duric’s pupils were dilated. He was breathing faster. Gods, Tav was also breathing faster, and his heart was beating as hard as one of the big drums his soldiers used to keep time on the march.The other man had never looked so beautiful to him—so compelling, so fascinating and kind. Worry and care had clearly had their way with him, turning his face haggard, draining the lushness of youth from him, but replacing it with a hard-won wisdom, and now, since his capture, a willingness to accept whatever fate would throw his way and be at peace with it. All of those things appealed to Tav. That experience. That complexity. The inner peace.He leaned forward, settling his hand in the other man’s fine tunic and bunching it up as he closed his fist in the cloth. He dragged Duric forward, pulling him closer before he could second-guess anything, before the desire could be squashed with a thousand second-thoughts. Duric tilted his head to the side, his eyes huge, dark, easy to fall into forever, and ever-so-tempting. The man’s lips parted, and Tav claimed them. Conquered them. His kiss was forceful, filled with need, and yet at any instant he was ready to withdraw from this crazy risk. From this madness that had possessed him.But Duric did not fight him. In truth, the man kissed him back as fiercely, with just as much passion. And that surprised Tav with delight. Part of him had feared that Duric would be repulsed by his advances, that he would think it only the force of a man in power, taking advantage of his hostage. But Tav had freed him of that status of hostage. Freed him of the collar. Perhaps that had been enough to put them on something of an equal footing…They stayed that way for what seemed an age, locked in their embrace. The feel of the other man pressed against him in such a tight embrace that Tav could feel Duric’s heartbeat only stirred his desire. His cock stiffened. He deepened the kiss with a groan, needing more of the other man. Needing to strengthen this link between them, so unexpected, so wonderful in its possibilities.Someone nearby cleared their throat, a sound that broke the spell of their passion like a hammer blow. He drew away from Duric, his anger smoldering, and turned to see who had dared interrupt them here.It was Namath. His chief advisor wore his fine robes and vestments and a circular cap that sat on the top of his head adorned with intricate scrollwork. He carried a piece of parchment in his hand. His expression was both grim and apologetic.He bowed low. “General, my apologies for disturbing you. But the matter is urgent.”“What is it?” he snapped. His damned cock was still hard, aching for attention. It had been so long since he’d kissed another man, and Duric had kissed so well…Namath hesitated, glancing at Duric with worry, but not answering.Tav gritted his teeth. “You may trust him. He saved my life, after all.”Namath had the good graces to appear chagrinned as he bowed low again. “Forgive me, General.”“What news is so important that you interrupt me here?”“Gaziah and his men have returned to the city with ill news,” Namath replied, his voice holding a ragged edge. “The Boa Visk have entered the valley in force.”