Excerpt: Two Parts Mistletoe

Kingston yawned as he looked out the window at the snow, torn between annoyance that there was going to be so much of it—was already a dismaying amount—and pleasure that Frost Days would have snow. Last year had been unseasonably warm, and it was hard to feel festive when winter felt more like early fall.

And in four days, right in the middle of Frost Days, he would be meeting with Hux. Heat coiled through him, settled low in his gut, tempted him to crawl back into bed and bring himself off while imagining the beautiful Hux spread out beneath him, or on top of him, fucking himself on Kingston’s cock.

Unfortunately, in the last minute chaos before everybody settled into the ten-day-long, end of year festivities, there would be a rush of people seeking potions for every ailment under the sky, along with all manner of ‘festive’ potions, from the playful ones that briefly changed the color of a person’s skin or made their voices as deep as a bullfrog, to those strictly for private, adult use, and a whole range between.

Which meant there was no time for indulgences. But in four days he would be vividly reminded why the wait was always worth it, and anticipation would sustain him in the meantime.

If he wished perhaps he and Hux could change the nature of their relationship, move it beyond the twice-monthly assignations of Acacia House and turn it into something more… well, Kingston might yet broach the subject, but he’d not quite worked up the nerve.

Shrugging into his dark plum jacket, he buttoned it up as he turned to examine himself in the mirror, fussing with his dark hair and double checking that he had shaved himself well despite being half-asleep when he’d done it. His fingers lingered on the small, white scar on the left side of his jaw, a remnant of a potion that had heated too quickly and spat at him. Luckily the scar was the only damage done, though it always stood out bright against his dark olive skin.

Fussing with his cravat, securing it with an amethyst pin that matched his earrings, he finally pulled on gleaming, dark brown boots and headed downstairs to the shop. A pot of tea was waiting at his desk, and Eliza smiled in greeting from the front counter before she turned to give the latest customer her full attention.

Kingston sat down, looked at all the work waiting for him, and stifled a sigh. Eager to avoid it a moment longer, he looked out at the shop, grateful he was the owner and seldom had to work the counter anymore. Normally there would be assistants to help Eliza, but he had told them that if the snow seemed bad they weren’t to bother coming in.

He paused as a figure all the way at the back of the line caught his attention. Why was he familiar? Kingston stared surreptitiously at the man for several minutes, frustration growing. When he finally figured it out, he nearly spit his tea all over his desk.

Hastily setting the tea aside, he coughed into his handkerchief. After the coughing fit had abated, he dabbed at his lips then tucked the handkerchief away and went back to sneaking glances.

Kingston knew the man only as Hux. Not his real name, of course; Kingston never used his real name either. That was the entire point of Acacia House. His body flushed with heat as he recalled his most recent visit to Acacia and all the things he’d done to Hux in the candlelit room at the end of the hall.

The Hux he knew always wore faded breeches that clung to his thighs in distracting fashion, a threadbare shirt, and a well-worn jacket the same dark brown as his eyes. His hair was always loosely bound at his nape, and he seldom bothered with gloves, but always wore a hat, coat, and old boots.

The man across the room, waiting with ill-concealed impatience, was something else again. He wore black breeches, dark gold stockings with a lighter gold ivy pattern, black shoes with gold flowers in lieu of buckles, and a dark green jacket with black and gold trim. The black waistcoat beneath it had the same ivy pattern as the stockings, and a black lace cravat, set with a gold and emerald pin in the shape of an ivy leaf, finished the outfit. His brown hair was braided back and secured in a knot at the back of his head, and gold-rimmed spectacles sat on his nose, lending a severity Kingston could not match to the man from Acacia.

Affixed to the front left side of his jacket was a pin: a raven perched on a rolled-up scroll. The mark of the secretaries, and it was in gold, which meant he was a master secretary. He must work for a noble, at the very least, to be dressed so finely.

Not at all what Kingston would have expected of the sweet, pliant man he fucked twice a month.

He looked away, put his attention back on his work. Goddess knew there was more than enough of it, and if he didn’t finish going through the invoices, his secretary was going to put something in his tea. An ominous thought, given the options available in a potionmaker’s shop.

Opening the top drawer of his desk, Kingston pulled out his reading glasses and slid them on. He took a sip of tea, then pulled the stack of invoices close. He examined each one closely, signing off where they were correct, making notes on others where they needed to be adjusted because of discounts or additional costs, or where the customer had an account with the shop.

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