Excerpt: Come to Me

Sorin hummed as he left the castle and headed across the southern yard, past the blacksmith and the armory, in search of his errant lover. Those with whom he’d spoken had said they’d seen Koray headed this direction, but Sorin had yet to spy a single gray hair.

He wanted Koray, damn it. He had been buried in meetings and battles and more meetings for a very long fortnight, and every time he’d had a moment’s respite, Koray had been somewhere else. Sorin was tired of it. He wanted Koray, a good deal of privacy, and to be left alone for at least a full day, preferably two. The person who threw a stone in those plans would not enjoy what happened to them.

The sound of Koray’s voice made him pause. Sorin could barely hear it, though from what he caught of the tone, Koray seemed angry, or at least displeased. Damn. He remained still until he heard it again, then looped around the building where the priests and cooks stored all their herbs and spices, minus those that were valuable enough they needed to be locked up.

Rounding the building, Sorin caught Koray’s voice again—and Neikirk’s. He still could not understand the words, though he thought he caught his name a couple of times. Sorin picked his way through careful rows of shrubs and trees, a fragrant garden bound for soups and poultices. He pushed through some tall bushes covered in dark blue and white flowers, poised to speak but stopped as he took in the scene before him.

Koray and Neikirk were carefully bundling together various herbs, preparing them to be hung for drying—but the herbs were largely forgotten as they talked, heads bowed toward each other, voices pitched low. More fascinating still was the dark flush to Koray’s face, at odds with his intent look, the determined set to his jaw. What was Koray discussing so secretively with Neikirk that he would not discuss with Sorin?

He was being stupid. Koray would be the first to tell him so. For all he knew they could be discussing him. He had heard his name, after all. But what about him would leave Koray so red-faced?

Well, better to ask than eavesdrop. He might be slow to learn, but he did learn. Sorin stepped closer, smiling as they both looked up. “There you are, necromancer. I was hoping for a word with you.” He stared when Koray’s face reddened further. “Is … something wrong? Should I go?” The disappointment was crushing because not being close to Koray after so long apart was a physical ache, but if Koray had other plans, so be it. He tried not to dwell on the fear that Koray had not missed him nearly as much. Had Koray missed him at all?

Before Sorin could depart, Neikirk laughed and stood, sharing a look with Koray that Sorin could not interpret. “I am supposed to be meeting with my alchemists soon, so your timing is excellent, High Paladin.” He squeezed Koray’s shoulder in parting, nodded at Sorin, and then slipped away.

Sorin closed the few steps between him and Koray, curled his hands over Koray’s shoulders, and bent to kiss him. As ever, the scent of incense clung to Koray, mingling pleasantly with the spicy-sweet taste of him. His mouth was warm, pliant … and distracted.

The seed of worry Sorin had been trying to ignore grew into a full-fledged tree. Sorin drew back and reached out to trace Koray’s brow, brush back a loose strand of pale gray hair. “Is everything all right?”

“I’m fine,” Koray said, scowling at him. “What did you want?” He looked down as he said it, speaking more to Sorin’s tunic.

Sorin swallowed against the hurt and disappointment. “Nothing important. Nevermind. I am sorry for intruding upon your day, necromancer. I’ll take myself off and spend my day elsewhere, leave you to whatever you were doing.” He spun around sharply and stormed off, barely aware of everything around him as he fled to his room.

So it was finally happening. Nine and a half months since their return to the castle, nearly a year since they had first met. Koray was finally growing bored of him. Why shouldn’t he? He was High Necromancer, with all the power and status and wealth that position entailed. So very far from the man who had first arrived at the castle and changed everything. He could have anyone. Why should he settle for remaining with his first lover?

How long had Sorin willfully been ignoring the signs? He scrubbed a hand through his hair, feeling abruptly stupid that he had gone to pains to clean up, pull on a nicer set of clothes, and brush his hair out until it looked respectable for once. Whatever. There was always work to do. He would retrieve his armor and weapons and resume his duties.

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