Dark Magick Rising (Draegan Lords Book 5) by M.L. Rhodes
Copyright 2019 by M.L. Rhodes, All Rights Reserved
The next morning, Jarrad and Allend were on speaking terms, so they’d obviously worked out their differences. But whenever Jarrad spoke to Wesley, the interactions were laced with underlying embarrassment. Wesley started to say something about it, but decided that would probably just make Jarrad even more self conscious.
Finally, midway through the day, the awkwardness began to wear off, and eventually they found a comfort zone. For which Wesley was grateful. He hated thinking that he and Jarrad wouldn’t be able to continue their easygoing camaraderie. Was it weird to realize Jarrad had been thinking about him the same way Wesley had been thinking about Wen during those first months Wesley had lived with the draegans? Of course. But that had happened whether Wesley realized it at the time or not, so he’d decided he couldn’t, and wouldn’t, let it affect their friendship, at least not for his part.
That evening, as they were putting away weapons, Jarrad finally broached the topic again.
“I’m sorry about last night. I shouldn’t have put you on the spot like that. I hope I didn’t mess up our friendship.”
“Of course not. I only wish I hadn’t been so wrapped up in my own issues that I didn’t notice how you were feeling.”
“It doesn’t matter, Wesley. You and Wen are perfect for one another. Everyone can see it, including me. And, yes, I mean that. I accepted and completely supported your relationship the moment you two first got together.” He frowned and shook his head. “I was just being stupid last night, feeling sorry for myself for reasons that had nothing to do with you, and I should never have brought it up at all. Like I said, I’m happy for you. Truly.”
He meant it. Wesley could tell he did. “That means a lot. Thank you. But, you know, if you ever need or want to talk about anything, Jarrad…anything at all, I’m here. You know that, right?”
Jarrad sucked in a quick breath. He probably didn’t even realize it, and certainly didn’t realize Wesley had noticed it. It was a giveaway that he did, indeed, have things on his mind. Namely, Wesley suspected, his relationship, in whatever form it was taking, with his mystery companion. Gods, he wished Jarrad would just talk to him about it.
But Jarrad only nodded. “Thanks. But beyond trying to keep Al’s nose out of my business and stop him from trying to boss me around, I’m good at the moment.” Then he grinned. A typical Jarrad grin, which Wesley was beginning to realize hid a fair amount of emotion, but he was probably in such a habit of doing it, maybe he didn’t even realize himself how much he hid behind it.
Wesley chose to keep things light. “Well, if you need me to, I can always give Al a task at any time that will get him out of your hair.”
Jarrad chuckled at that. “I might take you up on that occasionally when he’s being a pain in my ass.” Then he let out a tired-sounding sigh. “All right, I’m going to get the rest of the stuff cleaned up in the courtyard. I’m not on shift with you tonight. I’ve got a later one. So unless you need me for anything, I’m going to go try to take a nap after I’m done here.”
“Nah, it’s good. Go get some sleep.”
He wondered if Jarrad was really going to bed, or if he’d actually be looking for his mysterious companion.
Later, even though he knew he probably shouldn’t, Wesley reached out empathically to find Jarrad, and discovered he was doing exactly what he’d said…sleeping, though not necessarily peacefully.
Because he still couldn’t quite shake his worry over Jarrad’s lover and what had happened the night before, Wesley searched for the troubled aura he’d sensed last night. But he found nothing. Which meant…he didn’t know. It could simply mean the person wasn’t in the castle at the moment. Maybe it was another guard who was on shift out on the mountain somewhere. Realistically, that was probably the case. He hoped so anyway because he hated the idea the person was gone from his senses for some awful reason, as he’d worried last night.
Wesley’s guard shift ran later than usual that night because of a sighting of Byram’s soldiers within the magick perimeter around the mountain.
Unlike the magick protective barrier at the forest camp that no one could get through, the boundary around Kellesborne worked differently. The magic was such that rather than repelling anyone who didn’t know how to open a door in the barrier, this perimeter was so vast, anyone could wander into it. But, once a non-draegan entered the magick area, they’d quickly grow confused about where they were and how they’d gotten there. It had been created by the ancient draegan lords to keep anyone non-draegan from reaching the castle up on the mountain on their own. Or, if they happened upon it by accident, they’d have no memory of it once they were back outside the boundary, so they couldn’t ever find it again.
This meant that Byram’s soldiers, in theory, could get unsettlingly close to the castle. They wouldn’t remember it later, but that didn’t change the fact the draeganjhere had to be extra vigilant for the occasional lost scouts, or even whole companies passing across the lower part of the mountain, who could still cause problems.
Wesley and Tim, with whom he was working, did numerous extra patrols around the castle itself, making sure they spotted nothing problematic, while several of the other guards doubled up down below on the mountain until the soldiers finally passed back through the boundary.
It was cold, nerve-wracking work, and with both the moons hidden behind clouds, dark as hel, which made everything even more unnerving. Every sound, every crackle of branches, sent jolts of anxiety through Wesley’s body. Add to that, everyone else’s anxiety had washed over onto him, and by the time they got the all-clear and he was finally able to stagger up the broad stairway to his and Wen’s rooms, he was too exhausted to do anything but undress and fall into bed. He barely even remembered pulling the covers up over himself before he was out.
* * *
The next day felt forever long. Wen had been gone almost a week, and Wesley missed him badly. Not just because he loved him and wanted him back for personal reasons, but also because he had so many things he wanted to talk to Wen about, question to ask, advice to seek.
Training, on the other hand, was going well. They were now up to forty-six trainees. Some had had previous experience, but others were complete novices who had to be taught everything from scratch. Wesley had to hand it to them, though…every trainee put their all into it and worked hard. He was proud of them, and told them so.
Allend and Jarrad were a big help. Al had, somewhat surprisingly—given his tendency toward impatience with his brothers—turned out to be extremely patient and particularly good at working with the novices. Jarrad was a good all-around helper.
But after their odd conversation a couple of nights ago, Jarrad hadn’t been quite the same. He’d turned inward in a way Wesley hadn’t seen before. He seemed much the same on the surface, but his smiles felt forced and there was an aloofness to him that wasn’t natural for him.
Wesley felt absolutely certain it wasn’t their conversation that still bothered Jarrad. Nor was it the fight he’d had with Al that night. No, whatever weighed on him, it had happened before that. Jarrad had admitted he’d been out of sorts, and now that Wesley was watching him and reading him more closely, he could tell he very much still was.
He hadn’t been with the sad mystery person, at least not that Wesley had sensed, since the night prior to the strange incident. But Wesley didn’t get the feeling it was by choice. He still couldn’t pick up the person’s aura anywhere. It was as if they had truly gone this time. So it was possible Jarrad’s unsettled emotions were because of his missing lover. It would make sense.
Except Wesley had a gut feeling he couldn’t explain that there was more to it than that.
Or maybe, he cautioned himself, as he realized he was once again focusing on Jarrad during dinner that night, he was trying to read more into it than he ought to. It was possible that because he was spending far too much time trying to figure it all out and trying to continually pick up Jarrad’s emotional state, he was creating imaginary issues where there weren’t any.
But he couldn’t quite convince himself that was the case. Not when he consistently read a tangled mess of emotions in Jarrad that even he, the empath, couldn’t sort through.
* * *
After another late shift that night, Wesley once again barely made it up the stairs and into bed before he was dead asleep.
At some point later, though, the soft creak of the door woke him.
It was still dark in the room, with nothing but the firelight casting a dim orange glow on the walls.
Damn it. What now?
Instinctively, he reached for his vrieg, which he kept under his pillow while he slept, curling his fingers around the grip. He lay on his side with his back to the door, so he couldn’t see who’d opened it, but his body had come to full alert. He kept his breathing even, though, not wanting to give any outward sign he was awake if it was someone with ill intent.
Cautiously, he reached out with his senses…and instantly recognized the emotions of the person who’d entered.
He heard the sounds of weapons clanking, and then the soft sounds of clothing being discarded.
The bed covers rustled, and the weight of a warm body pressed down onto the mattress next to him, causing Wesley to roll over.
Thank the gods. His relief at seeing Rowen home safe and sound felt like a tight band he hadn’t even realized had been binding around his chest had been cut, and he could breathe freely for the first time in days.
“You’re late,” he said to Wen. “You told me a few days. It’s been a week.”
“I said I hoped it would only be a few days. But before you get testy with me about my tardiness, I have some concerns.”
Wesley bit back a smile at the mischievous sparkle in Wen’s eyes. “Concerns?”
“Yes. Someone could have sneaked in here and killed you before you even knew it. I got all the way to the bed before you woke up. I thought I taught you better than that.”
“And I thought draegans were supposed to be stealthy, yet I heard the door rattle when you came in. But even if it wasn’t you, which of course I knew immediately it was because I sensed you with my extra-spectacular empathic abilities, no one would have caught me off guard.” Wesley slid his hand out from under the pillow to expose his knife, still firmly in his grip.
That earned him a sexy half smile. “Hmm. Not bad.”
“Ye of little faith.” Then Wesley raised a teasing eyebrow. “You know, while I do appreciate you worrying about me, don’t you think that energy would be better spent kissing me? After all, you have been gone for a whole damn week.”
“Oooh, cheeky. I like it.”
Wen’s soft chuckle did funny things to Wesley’s insides. But his warm weight rolling Wesley onto his back, then crawling on top of him, was even better. And the steamy kiss he got even better still.
“Is this what you wanted?” Wen breathed against his lips long, blissful moments later.
Wesley dug his hands through the tangled, half-braided, soft strands of Wen’s hair and sighed. “Oh yeah.”
“Does it make up for me being late?”
“As tempting as it is to forgive you, I think it’s going to take a bit more than that to get back in my good graces.”
“Oh it is, huh? So, like…this?” Wen dipped his head and nuzzled Wesley’s neck, then licked and nipped his way down to his shoulder, into the sensitive hollow that Wen knew drove him crazy.
A warm, heavy pulse of need shot through Wesley. “That’s a good start.”
“Mmm. How about this?” Wen’s mouth traveled south, pressing damp kisses across Wesley’s chest. He took his sweet time, swirling his tongue around his nipples, before continuing the trek down to his navel, where his tongue dipped in and swirled some more, making Wesley suck in his breath.
Wen pushed the blankets out of his way and moved between Wesley’s legs. Wesley instinctively spread for him, his pulse pounding, his belly knotted with anticipation. His exhaustion of early in the night had fled, and all he wanted now was more and more and more of Wen’s touch.
“Or maybe this?” Wen asked, his voice gone husky, in the tone that always set Wesley on fire. He gripped Wesley’s thighs and spread them farther still. Wesley shivered with pleasure, both from being so exposed and from Wen’s slow, close-up perusal of the parts of him desperate for attention.
“You know, for someone who was so demanding moments ago, you’ve gone awfully quiet,” Wen teased.
Wesley gasped as Wen’s hot, damp kisses delved into the crease between his groin and thigh. “Less talking, and more…unh! More…”
“More what?” Wen prompted, his breath warm against Wesley’s groin.
Wesley heard and felt the smile in his tone. He couldn’t see it, though, since his eyes were closed. His breathing had grown ragged, and his hands were busy on Wen’s head, trying to bring him back to what he’d been doing.
“More everything,” he finally managed to get out, sounding fully as desperate as he felt.
“Just what I wanted to hear,” Wen said, before giving Wesley exactly what he needed.
When Wen’s tongue licked across the head of his cock, Wesley tilted his head back and moaned. Gods it felt so good. This had definitely been worth the wait. The muscles in his ass tightened and his hips rose, seeking more.
Wen gave him that, too. And for the next several minutes coherent thought ceased in Wesley’s mind because all he seemed capable of were guttural moans, along with numerous whimpered pleas, and several soft, begging words.
Wen worked his cock masterfully with his hand and mouth, knowing exactly how to bring Wesley to the edge, then back off before he could go over it, finding other ways to occupy himself until Wesley was squirming from that. Then Wen would start a whole new build-up of licking and sucking, squeezing and stroking until Wesley was mad with need all over again.
Sometime later, as Wesley lay trembling and breathless in the aftermath of an incredible orgasm, Wen slid back up his body and kissed him.
“What about now? Have I earned forgiveness?”
Another jolt of heat coursed through Wesley in spite of the fact he’d just experienced release. Wen had told him once that draegans were particularly vigorous because of their magick, and Wesley had discovered he could usually recover pretty damn fast as well. But it still surprised him each time it happened.
“Get your cock up here in my mouth and I’ll show you how forgiven you are.”
Wesley felt a ripple of desire course through Wen as Wen smiled and gave him a heated look. “So bossy.”
“Damn right. I’ve been plotting all week all the ways I want to make you feel good. So get up here.”
“Well, when you say it like that…” He was still smiling, but he didn’t hesitate, rising to his knees to move up the bed. As he did, Wesley’s sat up and scooted backward until he leaned against the wooden headboard.
With Wen kneeling between his spread legs, Wesley grabbed Wen’s hips and leaned in to capture his shaft. He laved it with his tongue until it was slick and wet. Then, in one sleek motion, he pulled Wen in against him, taking nearly his whole cock into his mouth.
“Bloody hel!” Wen gasped, leaning forward to brace himself on the headboard of the bed.
Wesley was too hungry for slow and gentle. He’d been craving Wen’s touch and his mouth on him all week, but he’d spent just as much time craving all the things he wanted to do to Wen. And the way he saw it, they had the rest of the night.
Much, much later, when Wen had spent his last—for the second time—his body still shaking in the aftermath, his chest heaving, his green-eyed gaze gone soft and warm, he stared at Wesley.
“Holy gods, Wes. You…” The words caught in his throat.
Wesley stroked Wen’s stubbled cheek with his fingertips.
“You…” Wen tried again, shaking his head. “I don’t even…”
Wesley smiled. “I love you, too,” he said.
Wen’s eyes glistened with emotion. He reached for Wesley and, without saying anything, pulled him against him, burying his face against Wesley’s neck and hair.
Wesley curled his arm around Wen’s waist and closed his eyes, savoring the sense of utter completion and contentment.
They held each other like that for a long time. No words needed.