Herman, a cyborg soldier, has overcome illness and discovered much about the society he used to fight for that unnerves him. Now he must ultimately decide where his loyalties lie-with the space dwelling society who designed him to be an efficient killer, or with a kind man who tells him that he should take the opportunity to live on his own terms.
He turned away from the man, walking toward the window and staring outside. The sun shone through a perfectly clear sky and the forest stretched out for miles beyond the slope of the hill the castle stood upon. He wondered if his friends, who, unknowingly, weren’t his friends, were out there, walking blindly toward the king’s settlement. What would his orders have been had he not ended up in this situation? He would expect to fight the king’s Earth-side forces, thinking them weak and unprepared. He would not know about the civilians living here. And he would not know about his memory being erased.
He sighed. It was pointless to consider. According to Blaze, he would have an opportunity if he chose to help the king’s forces.
What he would find if he went back worried him even more than the possibility of experiencing the same sickness and pain from his illness before. Would Aver really send him back to get his memory erased? The thought sent his stomach into knots. What if Lote and Blaze were wrong? It did not help their case that they still hadn’t told him what they suspect might happen.
He looked over his shoulder at the magician, who lay in bed again with a new pair of pants on, but no shirt, eyes shut so lightly that Herman could see his red tinged lashes flutter ever so often as he breathed deeply in sleep. Blaze’s toned stomach moved slightly with each breath, and another, stronger rush of desire flooded through Herman.
Herman breathed deeply, his warm breath fogging the window, trying to calm down and sort out the conflicting thoughts and emotions that accompanied them. Blaze wanted him for this mission. Was that the only reason he had kept so close to Herman? And after what happened last night…
The sound of the windowsill cracking beneath clenched fingers made him stop, and he took a step back in surprise and dismay. Part of the sill had broken off. Rough, finger shaped holes were present in the wood.
“Hmm? What happened?” Blaze jolted awake and sat up in bed, head cocked.
Herman wanted to hide the evidence, but his knee nearly gave out as he tried to bend and pick up the pieces that had fallen to the floor. He didn’t know which was worse, the fact that it had happened or the fact that he had been thinking of Blaze when it did. It was another sign of the effect the magician had on him and he resented it, especially considering Blaze might just be using him as a means to an end.
But he had saved his life…
“Herman?” The redhead sat up, taking in what had happened. “Oh, the window,” he sighed. “Um, I guess just put the pieces with what’s left of the desk.” He met Herman’s eyes, holding his gaze and studying him such that Herman could not bring himself to look away.
He hated the effect Blaze had on him. His eyes slid over the magician’s face, his jaw, his lips, his body…
It was obscene. He couldn’t let himself be influenced that way. He wanted, no, needed, to know what would happen if he tried to go back, but even more than that, he needed to know what Blaze’s motivations were. He was sick of uncertainty and of repressing his emotions and desires. Perhaps Blaze was right and this mission would be an opportunity. An opportunity for what, he wasn’t sure, but it would elucidate things, that he felt sure of. He needed to take matters into his own hands.
“I’ll do it,” he said, swallowing hard.
Blaze broke into one of his huge smiles. “I’m glad. I promise you it won’t hurt, and none of your friends will be hurt.” A twinge of sadness flashed through him when Blaze said that, but the magician smiled on, oblivious. “It’s a good decision.”