This is the new cover!! It’s sexy and Drake is looking way dangerous. It’s out this week, August 6th, from Hartwood Publishing. They’ve taken on my In The Company of Men series (gay medieval romance) and adding new covers and offering it for reduced prices. This week, it’s up for pre-order at Amazon for $3.99 – http://www.amazon.com/Mercenarys-Tale-Company-Men-Book-ebook/dp/B012F6H6VM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1438564315&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Mercenary%27s+Tale
If you’ve previously purchased it, I’d love you buy it again, but seriously, no need. Not that much has changed, other than some edits, and the smoking new cover. If you’ve never read this series and you love men with swords…no I mean real swords…swashbucklers who will fight to the death for their man, then you might enjoy these men.
Drake is a mercenary, selling his sword and his life to fight for another’s gain. He’s alone, and a bit jaded, but when Ansel walks into a tavern and asks Drake to help improve his skills, against all his better judgement, Drake takes him on. A mercenary’s life is short, he lives and dies by the sword and both men know it.
I sat on the bench and leaned against the wall of the tavern, watching the other men talk, drink, and hire whores. All seemed to be locals, farmers, or artisans, come to the tavern to spend coin in pursuits of the flesh. All but one, a young man sitting alone at a table. He’d watched me, from under half-lidded eyes, ever since he’d arrived. His companion, a large black dog, lay beside, head resting on its paws.
The young man stood, walked to the counter, and spoke quiet words to the tavern keeper, the dog a black shadow that followed him. The old man glanced at me, nodded, spoke, and then turned away. My watcher turned to face me and leaned on the bar, perhaps estimating his chances.
I sighed and moved my hand to rest on the hilt of my short sword. It wouldn’t be the first or last time a young fool had tried to test his skill, and I’d become adept over the years at inflicting flesh wounds and scratches. I only kill when I’m being paid for it. I watched from the shadows as he pushed off and made his way across the tavern to my table with the dog trailing him.
The man was tall, but not as tall as I, nor as heavily muscled, and perhaps eight years my junior. Not quite filled out yet, I could see he’d possess the fullness of manhood in a few years. If he lived that long. I counted his weapons, one broadsword across his back, a short sword at his side, one throwing knife sheathed in a band across his chest, and the top of a blade’s hilt I spotted hidden in his boot. I wondered if I should count the dog.
He stopped in front of my table and placed his hand on the empty chair opposite me. The black animal stood also, as if waiting to be asked to sit.
“Are you Drake, the mercenary?” His strong, yet soft voice held no swagger, merely the accent of the southern lowlands.
He narrowed his eyes and peered into the shadows that hid my face.
“I am Ansel.” No hint of challenge shone in his brilliant blue eyes, nor cutting tone to his soft voice.
“Sit, Ansel, and tell me what brings you to my table.”
He pulled out the chair and sat, placing his hands on the table, palms down, to show he held no weapons. The dog lay down at his side, seemingly uninterested.
“I understand the Duke of Foray is calling for men. I wish to hire with him and am told you are on your way there also.”
“I hope you didn’t pay for that bit of information.”
“No. It was freely given.” For a moment, he flashed a smile, and the corners of his eyes crinkled.
Despite myself, I returned the smile and then hoped the shadows hid it.
“And what is it you want from me?”
“To travel with you, and perhaps train along the way.” He sat back in the chair, waiting for my answer.
“I don’t travel with anyone.”
The edges of his upturned lips fell just a little.
“Often,” I added. His smile returned, and oddly, I felt pleased. I glanced down at the dog, then back at him. “And I don’t train pups anymore.”
“I’m no pup. I’ve just returned from Moran.”
I leaned forward, brought my scarred face into the light, and stared hard at the man in front of me. He had survived the battle at Moran?
“I lost a few friends there,” I said with a nod.
“I, also.” He returned my nod. “I am no stranger to battle, Lord Drake.”
He’d used my formal title, one I hadn’t used since I was eighteen, and I wondered what he knew of me and who had told him.
“It’s just Drake. Well, Ansel, how long have you been a killer for hire?”
He didn’t blink at my bluntness or at the ragged scar that ran down one side of my face, though I could track his eyes’ movement as he took it in.
“Since I left home at ten and eight. I am now twenty and two.”
Four years and he’d survived, so he must have some skill. Most didn’t stay alive past their first battle. Young men trained in pretty strokes of blade, but couldn’t move fast enough, keep their heads, or swing wild enough to survive in the heat of a bloodbath.
If he was telling the truth.
“The war between Foray and Istend will be fierce. You must know that to ask for additional training.” At least he was no fool.
“Aye. And from the best.” He smiled again and tilted his head in a gesture of regard.
His blue eyes burned into me, and I was grateful for the table between us. I felt a small prick of fear on the back of my neck and tamped it down as I scanned the room. No one in the tavern was paying us mind, or could possibly know what I was feeling. Even I wasn’t sure about that. After all, I had a reputation, and in my business it could mean the difference between eating or not eating if you weren’t hired, or having no one at your back if the men you fought with didn’t trust you.
“That may be, Ansel.” I inclined my head back to him as our eyes met.
What was I doing? This could only end badly. I should send him away and be done with him before trouble started.
Catching the eye of a young whore, I signaled for her to come to the table. With an eager grin, she swayed her way toward me, moving around the tables, a smile on her face. She wasn’t pretty, but then, whores never are. Still, who fucks a face?
I stood as she reached the table and pulled her to me. She wrapped a thin arm around my waist. His eyes flicked to the bulge in my leather breeches and then back to my face. She giggled and looked at Ansel, giving him a bigger smile, but clung to my money and me.
“I leave tomorrow. Meet me here in the morn.”
He stood, glanced at the woman, and his eyebrows drew together. “I’ll be here.”
“Where do you bed tonight?” Was I thinking of offering him to share my room? When had I lost my mind?
“I have a place in the stable.”
I left with a nod, the whore at my side, and made my way to the stairs. As I climbed to my room, I could feel those brilliant blue eyes following me.
This is a tale of love, lost and daring to love again. Of finding what you never knew you needed. Of family.
I hope you’ll enjoy it.