Dark Magick Rising (Draegan Lords Book 5) by M.L. Rhodes
Copyright 2019 by M.L. Rhodes, All Rights Reserved
“I thought we were finding the storeroom,” Wesley said, as they started down the staircase.
“I know someplace much better.”
“Do I dare ask where?”
Wen glanced at him and a warm, fluttery feeling washed over him. Gods, he’d missed Wesley so much. Missed that sweet, teasing smile, and those soulful brown eyes. “No. I think you should just be surprised.”
“Okay,” Wesley murmured, and Wen felt a rush of love along their connection. Damn, but he’d missed that, too.
Wesley suddenly stopped. “Damn it, I left my things in the atrium. Hang on, let me run get them.” He pointed a finger at Wen. “Don’t move.”
“Still bossy, I see.”
A sheepish look crossed Wesley’s face. “I only meant…”
Wen smiled. “I know what you meant. I’m not going anywhere. Unless… Maybe I should just go with you. I’m not sure I can bear to be apart from you for even a short time.”
“You’ve been through so much the past several hours. You have to be exhausted.” Wesley squeezed his hand before letting it go. “I’ll get my stuff and be back before you know it. And then”—he smiled—“you can take me to your surprise place.”
He was wearing Wen’s shirt, the one Wen had noticed weeks ago was missing. The deep green color beneath Wesley’s brown leather jerkin shouldn’t have made him look so damned tempting, but it did. With his hair curling against his collar and falling over one eye, and his dark beard, he was a balm to Wen’s lonely, aching soul. “Fine. But hurry.”
“I’ll be right back.”
He turned and was up the steps in seconds, leaving Wen to admire the brief view of his backside, and then contemplate Wesley’s words about how much he’d been through.
Which brought back memories of last night. Which sent a shiver of horror down Wen’s spine, but also left him in wonder again at the fact Wesley had somehow found a way to connect with him, even at that distance. What he didn’t know was if Wesley had perhaps done more than just connect with him…
Before he could ponder it any longer, Wesley returned, as promised, his pack and bow on his back, his cloak in his arms.
“Damn, you’re a beautiful sight,” Wen breathed, once again ensorcelled by Wesley’s rugged appearance. Something about him had changed during the time he’d been gone. Not dramatically…something subtle. His beard was fuller, his hair a bit longer. But it was more than that, Wen just couldn’t put his finger on what.
“So are you,” Wesley said softly. “A beautiful sight.”
They stared at one another for several seconds, and then smiled at the same time.
“Let’s go.” Wen took the cloak from him, wrapped his fingers through Wesley’s once again, and led the way down the stairs to the floor below and along the broad corridor until they stood in front of a large green door decorated with intricate carvings.
Wen swiped a hand over it to unlock it, then opened it and ushered Wesley through the entryway.
Wesley’s eyes grew wide and a soft gust of breath escaped him as his gaze immediately came to rest on the wide, finely-carved, delik-wood bed, draped with rich green velvet hangings, and covered with thick brown furs and silver-trimmed white sheets. And then, transfixed, his head turned as he looked at the rest of the large chamber.
Wen followed his gaze, taking in the sight himself, as if seeing it again for the first time. He remembered his own astonishment at not only the richness of the bed, but the massive height of the floor-to-ceiling window framed with heavy damask drapes, the exquisitely stitched wall hangings, the sturdy but elegant table and benches in a separate alcove. He knew from experience that the plush green and silver-upholstered chairs were as comfortable as they looked, and the massive chests had plenty of room for clothes and storage. The thick rugs scattered about across the stone floor were soft underfoot, and the huge fireplace always had a blaze within it that kept the large space surprisingly warm on a snowy winter day such as this.
“This is… I’ve…” Wesley shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he finally managed to get out, turning his astonished gaze to Wen. “Whose rooms are these? Are they Lord Rizik’s chambers? If so, we shouldn’t be here, should we?”
With a smile, Wen hung Wesley’s cloak up on one of the silver hooks near the door, then eased Wesley’s pack and bow off his mate’s shoulders. He set them on the floor, before turning back to Wesley and taking both his hands in his.
“These aren’t the draegan lords’ chambers, love. They’re ours.”
Wesley stared at him, mouth agape. “They’re… What?” Wen felt shock rippling along their connection.
“They’re ours. Yours and mine.” Then his heart gave a little hitch. “That is, if you still want to share…”
“Yes! Gods, of course I do,” Wesley said. “How could you think otherwise?”
“I just don’t want you to feel like you’re being pushed, or that you have to do anything you don’t want to do.”
“There are lots of things we all have to do that we don’t want to, but being with you isn’t one of them, Rowen.” He leaned in and pressed a kiss against Wen’s mouth, warm and sweet.
But then he pulled back, as if he’d suddenly remembered where they were. He looked around again, before turning his gaze back to Wen disbelievingly, like he were certain at any moment Wen would tell him it was all a joke. “This is really ours? We can…we can actually live here?”
“It is, and we can,” Wen said, smiling. He reached for Wesley’s belt and unbuckled it, letting it and his sword and knife and assorted pouches slip to the floor. As he spoke, he followed suit with his own. “We do already. I’ve been staying here since I arrived at Kellesborne.”
“But, Al said the draeganjhere quarters were in the bottom of the castle—we came in that way earlier.”
“They are, and many of the guards do live there, especially the ones who don’t have families and don’t need a lot of room. But when we arrived at Kellesborne, Lord Rizik told me to take my pick of any of the living spaces, so I chose this one because it’s down the hall from him. If I’m in charge of his protection, it seemed smart to be near him and not several floors away.”
“That does makes sense.”
“Mmm,” Wen agreed. “Iann told me later that these used to be the quarters for the draegan lord’s official seer—which, the last time anyone lived here, would have been Lord Rizik’s grandmother, Sele.”
“Wait…what? Sele? Sele from my old settlement is Lord Rizik’s grandmother?”
“Ah, right, you wouldn’t have known about that. Yes, she is, but Lord Rizik didn’t even know it until the same night Lord Hareldson was taken by Moh’dredion. Iann knew her, back in the day—her name is really Selene—but it wasn’t until that night that Iann saw her and recognized her. That’s when he told Lord Rizik who she was.”
“That must have come as a shock to Lord Rizik.”
Wen nodded. “It did indeed.”
“Wouldn’t these still be her rooms, then?”
“No. She lives with Lilia still, so Lilia can continue to care for her. And Lilia’s quarters are next to the treatment rooms, so she can take care of the sick and injured. And now, the draegan lord himself is the current seer. So, don’t worry. It’s not like we’re supplanting anyone. Besides, most of the rooms on the upper floors are almost as luxurious as this one, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
He wound his fingers through Wesley’s. “Being near Lord Rizik isn’t the only reason I picked these rooms, though, Wes. I also chose them because of this…” He led Wesley toward a smaller, arched door, which he opened, then ushered him into the connecting room ahead of him.
A fresh wave of Wesley’s surprise swept through Wen, making him smile again.
“What is this?” Wesley asked, stepping away from Wen, his tone slightly breathless, as he stared down at the large, sunken basin in the floor, which glowed blue from the luminescent stones with which it was lined. It was deep enough and broad enough to have a sunken stone bench against one side of it, and could easily hold two grown men and then some. Currently, it sat empty, but could quickly and easily be filled with water.
“This, my beloved ondaen mate,” Wen said, moving up behind Wesley and circling his arms around his waist, pressing close, intoxicated at the feel of Wesley’s hard body against his, “is a bathing pool. There’s a similar one, even bigger, in the lords’ chambers. In fact they’re the only two bathing pools in the whole castle in private rooms that are so large. When it’s filled with water, it’s not big enough to swim in, obviously, but it is big enough to be fully immersed. I thought maybe, if you ever feel the desire to shift and you can’t get to a real body of water outside, this might ease the ache for you a bit.”
He heard Wesley’s breath catch, felt his emotions well to the surface, and then Wesley turned in his arms. In a choked voice, he said, “I love you so damned much.”
He leaned in and kissed Wen with such grateful tenderness it reminded Wen all over again that he’d do anything for this man. Whatever it took to make him happy.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Wesley murmured against his lips.
“You already said it with your reaction.” Wen brushed a strand of hair back from over Wesley’s eye.
“I never imagined anything like this could exist. Like any of this—this whole castle. It reminds me of stories I used to read in Thomas’s books. Make-believe and fantasies.”
“Well, here at Kellesborne, it’s real life. I know it’s overwhelming at first, but you’ll get used to it. There’s more, though. Do you want to see?”
“More?” That breathless tone again warmed Wen’s heart.
“Mm-hmm.” He led Wesley over to the edge of the sunken basin. “You don’t have to haul buckets of water to fill the pool. When you want to use it, all you have to do is open these taps here, and hot water will pour in on its own.”
“How is that even possible?”
“There’s a hot spring under the castle, and the ancient draegan lords, in their infinite wisdom, created a system of pipes that carry the hot water up into the castle. Turn on the taps, keep them running, and the pool will stay full. When you’re done, turn them off, and the water will drain out. But there’s also something else that even the lords’ bathing chamber doesn’t have. See there at the end of the pool, where the steps lead up out of the pool to the flat area?”
“There’s a special water pipe above it with fine holes in it. If you turn on the tap there and stand underneath it, water will fall down onto you from overhead. It’s like being in a rain shower. A warm rain shower because it’s still from the hot spring. The water then runs down the steps and drains out through the pool.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing. Is it like a waterfall, then?”
“Clearly. Al told me Kellesborne was built with magick, but I never could have imagined the extent of it.” He shook is head. “Can I try it?”
“Eventually, yeah, but I mean the waterfall rain thing.”
Wen chuckled. “Of course. Let me say this again—these rooms are ours. You can use or do anything you’d like.”
Wesley pulled free of him and began stripping off his boots and clothes, dropping them in a trail behind him as he moved.
“You meant right now? You want to try it right this second?” Wen asked, still laughing, but also more than a little breathless as bits and pieces of Wesley’s bare skin appeared, until, moments later, Wesley stood naked in all his mouthwatering glory. Dear gods.
“Yes, right now. I’ve been traveling for three weeks without any decent way to bathe. Have you smelled me?” Wesley said, reaching up to turn on the tap.
Water began to flow from the overhead pipe, raining down on his dark hair and sluicing over his body. Wesley gazed up at it in wonder, or tried to before he quickly closed his eyes, then turned more fully into the water. He had his back to Wen, and all Wen could do was stare at the absolute beauty of him.
But, eventually, Wesley turned again, to let the water hit his back, giving Wen an even more gorgeous view of his front.
Wesley smiled then, as if he knew exactly what Wen was thinking and feeling—which, of course, he did, the feeling part anyway.
“What are you doing?” Wesley asked
Wen’s pulse thudded. “Basking,” he said.
Wen nodded. “Basking in the perfection of this moment. In just how damn good it feels to be with you again.”
Wesley’s answering smile, so sweet yet so sexy all at the same time, almost undid Wen.
“Why don’t you come over here and bask up close?” Wesley said. Desire pulsed warm and thick along their emotional link. “You could wash my back or something.”
“Or something,” Wen murmured, already pulling off his own clothes.
When Wesley smiled again and crooked a finger at him, he was completely lost.
“Bloody hel.” He had no idea how he made it to Wesley, only that moments later he had all that warm, wet skin against his own.
Their mouths crushed together, giving and taking, as Wesley’s hands moved around to grip Wen’s ass, pulling him closer still. Their groins, slick from the water and their natural lube, pressed against one another, sliding, grinding, seeking the best angle for pleasure.
“I missed you so much,” Wesley whispered against his mouth between scalding kisses.
“Me too, missing you. I thought about you constantly. Worried about you. Dreamed about you.”
“What kind of dreams?”
“These kind,” Wen said, slipping a hand down between them to take possession of Wesley’s cock.
Wesley groaned and surged into his grip. His head tipped back, and Wen took advantage of it to nuzzle his neck and leave a trail of nibbling kisses down to his shoulder.
“Gods, I’d forgotten how good your skin tastes,” Wen murmured. “But I didn’t forget, could never forget, how good you feel.”
“Did you think about that, too, while I was gone? How I feel?”
“Did you get yourself off while you were thinking?”
Wen’s belly knotted with a deep, new throb of desire. Once again Wesley, his sweet, shy Wesley, had surprised him, and it was sexy as hel. “A few times,” he said hoarsely. “Did you? While we were apart?”
“A few times,” Wesley echoed. “I couldn’t help myself,” he said almost apologetically. “I missed your touch so damn much.”
“And I yours, m’caire.”
He licked and kissed Wesley’s bearded jaw, his neck and shoulder, and eventually sucked up a mark at the base of his throat, loving how Wesley bucked against him as he did it, loving even more the low moans he made and the buzz of desperate need radiating off him.
One of Wesley’s hands pushed between them to grope Wen’s cock. And as they each stroked the other, their cockheads bumping and slipping together, their fingers brushed and occasionally twined, then slid away, then twined again.
Their kisses, meanwhile, grew slower and deeper, as if quality had become far more important than quantity.
“I can’t ever get enough of you,” Wesley whispered eventually, sucking on Wen’s lower lip, then kissing his way along Wen’s jawline and up to his ear, where he dipped his tongue into and around each curve.
Wen shuddered, burying the fingers of one hand in Wesley’s wet hair.
In spite of their time apart and the thrum of need pulsing between them, Wen was struck by their lack of urgency. It was as if they had all the time in the world to savor this incredible closeness and lose themselves in one another. The water falling down on them added to the sensation, enclosing them in a warm, seductive cocoon.
For the first time in weeks, Wen felt his defenses, his worries, his fears slide away. He wasn’t naive enough to think that just because Wesley was back at his side everything would magickally be better. But for now, for this moment, everything was good and right. With Wesley’s body against his, his soft moans filling Wen’s head, and the rush of his shifting emotions flooding through Wen as if they were his own, he felt complete.
Their hands at their groins created a steady, hot, build up, a slow burn that eased them into the fire so leisurely that when it finally exploded, it nearly caught Wen off guard. Wesley’s body grew taut, a slow shudder tore through him, and he moaned as his seed poured into and over Wen’s hand. Wen swallowed his cry with another soul-deep kiss.
Just as he was coming down off his release, Wen’s hit him, and this time it was Wesley who held him, stroking him with a firm hand, and tasting his cries.
For long minutes afterward, they continued to stand under the gentle rain, hands caressing, hearts beating as one, in a close embrace.
Eventually, they got around to washing one another with a cake of fragrant soap from a carved alcove in the wall, but again, there was no rush about it. It was slow, gentle, and perfect. They didn’t even speak, not really, just smiled, and stole occasional tender kisses.
When they’d finished, Wesley shut off the water, and Wen pulled a couple of thick bath sheets off a nearby shelf. He quickly dried himself, but ignored Wesley’s waiting hand, held out for his own towel. Instead, Wen wanted that pleasure for himself, and he enjoyed every second of drying off Wesley.
He took his time, rubbing the toweling over Wes’s back, down over his firm ass, easing it between his legs, over his testicles and once-again hardening cock. Gods almighty, he was breathtaking. Wen continued, down Wesley’s darkly furred legs to his feet, where just a hint of webbing lingered from standing in a shallow puddle of water. Then he worked his way back up, even more slowly, making another pass over his beautiful shaft, before following the trail of dark hair up over the planes of his abdomen and his lightly furred chest, which had grown broader, along with his shoulders, in the time Wen had known him, as all his training with weapons had begun to sculpt and hone his muscles.
“You are so damned beautiful,” he breathed.
“For the first time in my life,” Wesley murmured, “being with you has made me feel like I’m not some kind of bizarre mutant.”
“You don’t have to wait for me or anyone else to tell you or make you feel that way, m’caire. You’re beautiful inside and out, just as you are, whether you’re in your human or water form. And I’ll never grow tired of looking at you and touching you.”
“Then take me to bed,” Wesley whispered.
Wen’s heart climbed into his throat at the quiet words that were half plea, half demand.
He wrapped his fingers around Wesley’s and led him back out into the main room, to the big bed. Without releasing Wesley’s hand, he used his other to drag back the covers. And then he turned Wesley and pressed him back onto the mattress. Wesley’s arms slid around his neck, pulling Wen with him, until Wesley lay on his back with Wen between his legs.
“Tell me what you want love. Do you want me inside you or would you rather take me?”
“I want you in me,” Wesley said, his pupils blown with desire. “I want you to fill me so deep I won’t know where I end and you begin. And I don’t want you to ever stop, so I don’t have to be apart from you ever again.”
Unbidden tears stung Wen’s eyes, not only at Wesley’s words, but at the loneliness welling from deep within him—his and Wesley’s both, because he knew he was experiencing what each of them felt. “Whatever you want, beloved. Always. Three weeks is too gods-damned long,” Wen said.
“It is. Can you imagine how Lord Rizik must be feeling, being apart from Lord Hareldson this long, but he doesn’t know when, or even if, he’ll ever see him again?”
His Wesley, the empath with the gentle heart. Wen suspected Wesley could more than imagine Lord Rizik’s grief. He could no doubt read it in full.
“You can pick up on it?” he asked.
Wesley nodded, tears glistening in his eyes now. “He’s suffering so much,” he whispered. “He’s lost without his mate, and my heart aches for him. But at the same time, I feel almost guilty for being so grateful that I’m here with you. That we have this. That we can touch and talk and be together.”
“Oh, love.” Wen caressed his cheek. “I’ve come to know Lord Rizik well, and I know he wouldn’t want you to feel guilty about that. He’s an extraordinary man, and though I can’t feel his emotions the way you can, I know from working with him every day that he is struggling. But he’s also got a heart as big as yours and he wouldn’t want your thoughts to linger on his loss.”
“I know. But when you and I are together, I feel so damned complete, and it makes me sad that he doesn’t have that now. That he and Lord Hareldson, who were so incredibly close I think everyone in camp could see it and feel it, have been torn apart. It’s not fair.”
“No. It’s not. There are a lot of things about this war with the sorcerer that aren’t fair, that hurt almost too much to bear. That’s why I tried to shut you out in the beginning…because I was afraid of exactly what Lord Rizik is going through right now. But you made me see I couldn’t live my life that way, and I have no regrets for taking the risk with you. I suspect Lord Rizik feels the same way. All we can do for him is support him however he needs us to. And if Lord Hareldson is out there alive somewhere, then we’ll do whatever we can to help get him home.”
“Home,” Wesley murmured. “For me, home is wherever you are.”
“That’s exactly how I feel. You’re my home,” Wen whispered, before closing his mouth over Wesley’s.
They rode the building wave of love and longing. Between roaming caresses, soft cries, and the exquisite feeling of being so intimately a part of one another, time faded, as did the world around them. And when Wen found his release deep inside Wesley’s body, he’d never felt closer to him. Each time, their connection—both physical and emotional—grew stronger, binding them together more completely. And each time, Wen felt their combined magick grow stronger as well.