From the moment Taden rescues Nathaniel from the Sutherlin soldiers’ torture, he finds himself caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen; amazing eyes that hold him thrilled and confused. The Sutherlins are planning to invade the beautiful Tahon Valley, but as Taden secrets Nathaniel from their reach, he finds himself drawn to the young man. Not only does he feel the urge to protect him, but he feels an ache he hasn’t felt in many long years.
Nathaniel claims to be a traveler from a distant continent, saying he comes in peace. True or not, the youth has powers beyond anything Taden has seen—control over men and animals and the very weather. Taden falls hard for the strange traveler, protecting him not only from the Sutherlins but from his own mistrustful people, who don’t understand Nathaniel’s powers and accuse him of being a witch…
Taden’s scalp prickled, a shiver running through him. He twirled, hand on his belt knife, and found Nathaniel standing inches from him. They were almost touching, and Taden watched, fascinated, as Nathaniel’s green eyes darkened under his stare. The heat from Nathaniel’s body wrapped around him, caressing him in that intimate moment.
“Miranda’s finally asleep,” Nathaniel told him shakily.
“That’s good. She appeared exhausted.” Taden didn’t ask who she was. At that moment, he didn’t care. He touched Nathaniel’s gold-flecked curls, as silken as he’d imagined them to be. Enthralled by the dimple at the corner of Nathaniel’s luscious mouth, he impulsively cupped his cheek, stroking the alluring hollow with a gentle finger. His pulses hammered at the contrast of pale skin and his own sun-darkened hand, picturing the exotic tangle of their bodies.
He slid an arm around Nathaniel’s waist as desire seared him. “Come with me,” he said huskily, aching to love Nathaniel as gently and tenderly as he could and drive the anxiety from his lovely eyes. Nathaniel lifted his shoulders but didn’t resist as Taden urged him into the trees.
Nathaniel remained silent as Taden spread the blankets on a fragrant carpet of pine needles. Taden gave him a close look. With a pang he realized that the young man stood passively, waiting for whatever Taden chose to do with him. As much as he hungered for him, Taden didn’t want Nathaniel like that, unresponsive. He reached for Nathaniel’s hand and pulled him down beside him on the blankets.
“I would never hurt you,” he said as he leaned into Nathaniel’s body and slid his tongue over his full lips. He played with the laces of Nathaniel’s tunic, loosening them further. Fire licked through him as Nathaniel’s chest rose on a quick breath. Taden slipped two fingers inside the soft fabric to stroke the lean muscles of Nathaniel’s chest.
He nudged Nathaniel’s lips wider and groaned as the young man’s tongue darted into his own mouth, jolting him with lust. He caught the tongue with his lips, sucking, wanting to swallow Nathaniel whole.
Taden lingered over his kisses, slowly undoing the rest of the ties on Nathaniel’s tunic. He shifted on the blankets and thrilled at Nathaniel’s sigh as he bared his chest. Taden slid his tongue along Nathaniel’s chin with a fond murmur, savoring the saltiness of skin and the prickle of unshaven hair. He kissed the slim column of his throat and paused to suck gently on a vein pulsing in the heated skin.
He glanced lower and suddenly leaned on an elbow, his eyes ravaging the intoxicating sight of small nipples sitting like jewels on white skin. A single mole, innocent, utterly provocative, lay within kissing distance and drew his lips. Taden teased it with his tongue, smiling slyly when Nathaniel made a startled sound and gripped his shoulders.
Taden circled each hardening bud with his tongue, tenderly kissing the fading bruises. He slid a hand across Nathaniel’s abdomen and felt his muscles tighten. He slid a finger along the edge of Nathaniel’s pants, then moved his hand upward to brush his thumb over a sensitive nipple. Heat slammed through him as Nathaniel arched his back with a guttural cry. Unable to resist the temptation, Taden dropped his lips to the free bud, flicking it with his tongue, nibbling and nursing on it until Nathaniel was panting, a pleading note in the sound.
The tone changed suddenly to panic, and Taden jerked his head up in surprise, clashing with eyes wide with fear and arousal. He watched a trickle of sweat follow the curve of Nathaniel’s cheek. Surely the Nathaniel wasn’t afraid of him?
“I won’t hurt you,” Taden assured him again. Unexpectedly, Nathaniel gave him a tentative smile and touched Taden’s hair. The shy, heated glance undid him, and he had to fight the urge to strip Nathaniel then and there and thrust his arousal deep into the enticing body.
Taden dropped his head on Nathaniel’s chest. “Give me a moment,” he whispered hoarsely, concentrating on control. He wanted their joining to be perfect. It was hard when Nathaniel continued to thread his hands through his hair. With a growl, Taden straddled him, pinning the wandering hands over his head. “Careful, or I can’t promise to be gentle.”
Nathaniel’s eyes were hooded, and Taden watched, enchanted, as the tip of his pink tongue slid across pale lips. “Do anything you like,” Nathaniel invited.
A World of Magic
Thank you so much for having me as your guest on The Readers Roundtable today. When it comes to fantasy, there are so many amazing worlds out there, from Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ to Le Guin’s ‘Earthsea’ and the fantastic world in C.J. Cherryh’s ‘Fortress’ series. So what type of world did I create for my own fantasy?
I’ve always had a romantic view on the medieval period in our history. Not the Dark Ages! Too horrible. *shudders* But I have rose colored glasses from Errol Flynn’s ‘Robin Hood’. Have you read Mary Stewart’s ‘Merlin’ series? I fell in love with the young Merlin and the world of King Arthur and his brave knights. I chose this time period for my own heroes.
Nathaniel opens with Taden rescuing the young magic user from the hands of his country’s enemies. Taden hasn’t seen war in his lifetime, but the Sutherlins have begun to push against the border between the two countries, expanding into the fertileland ofNetherlin. Enemy soldiers have been spotted in the forest surrounding Taden’s stronghold, and as the titled land owner and head of his family, he takes a company of soldiers to investigate and stumbles upon Nathaniel and his captors. As you can see, this is a common enough story in the Middle Ages!
But this is where the magic comes in. Not from elves or wizards, unicorns or faeries. It’s in the ‘gift’ Nathaniel’s people are blessed and often cursed with. These ‘wielders of magic’ have been banished from Taden’s homeland long ago, either killed or driven across the sea, threatened with death if they return. So when Taden meets Nathaniel, a man possessing the gift to manipulate men and beasts and nature itself, he’s torn between his duty to imprison the witch and the desire to keep the beautiful man for himself, protecting him against all others.
In Taden’s world, magic comes in the form of a sensual, powerful young man possessing psychic abilities the like of which Taden’s people have never encountered before. Bewitched and bewildered, Taden struggles to find the path he should follow, to side with his people or protect Nathaniel. He chooses love over all.
Thank you all for visiting!
About the Author
Dianne lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.
She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write her tales. There’s something about being cooped up in the house while it pours rain outside and a fire crackles on the hearth inside that kindles her imagination.
Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which she says is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.