Here’s the latest release from me. It’s really a re-release, and not much has changed. It’s been edited a bit, so if you already have it, skip it, unless you love the new cover. I want to thank MLR Press for letting me republish this novella. It’s one of my favorites.
Blurb – When Locke and Blade must work together to solve crimes, but will dislike turn to attraction in the heat of fighting their enemies?
Christopher Locke is a man with a tarnished reputation. When he’s transferred to Waterford Station to serve as inspector, he meets Jonathan Blade, his new partner. Jonathan thinks Christopher is a brute. Chris thinks Jonathan is a snob. Both think the other is more than attractive, which might be more dangerous than the enemies they must face.
Except – Jonathan Blade slammed the door of his office, crossed to his desk, and fell into his chair.
“The God be damned!” He ran a hand over his face and then leaned back and closed his eyes.
What had Wilson been thinking, bringing that big brute here to Waterford? They were two men short, true, but Locke? He looked a ruffian, every inch of him, never mind the way the man’s muscles strained at his uniform, or the way the scar on his chin piqued Blade’s interest. Why hadn’t the healers removed the jagged line? Why leave it to mar the man’s rugged good looks?
Was it a symbol of something? A reminder? A vanity?
A man such as Locke would, no doubt, try to take charge; perhaps try to win Blade’s spot as second-in-command. He might try to test his skills against Blade’s, but Blade knew he’d win in that contest. No man or woman had bested him during their station’s competitions, or in actual battle.
Blade always got his man. Always.
Locke’s dismissal—well, not a true dismissal from the force, but a transfer—had been all the talk around the mess tables. Gossip moved fast through the small patroller community; some bloke at Locke’s old station knew someone here, or perhaps the addler’s network carried the information, but no matter how, theories buzzed around like flies on a dead rat, and none of them good.
Blade had heard the man had beaten a suspect to death with those huge hands of his. The thought of that sent a shudder down Blade’s spine. Physical violence was nearly unheard of in their world, unlike the world they’d separated from two hundred years ago. That world had been vicious, brutal, and terrified of majik . Still was, for all they knew. Not many had crossed the portals and lived to tell the tale. Their best majikians had banded together to split the world apart, majik and non-majik, created the portals and fled that world for this one, where majik and civility ruled.
Had Locke come from off-world, crossed one of the hidden portals and managed to inveigle himself into their society? Perhaps that explained the scar.
Blade sat up and pulled open one of his drawers. There had been a missive from headquarters a few months ago about a new training program, one that incorporated physical means with majik.
In the back of the drawer, behind his notebooks, he found the crumpled bit of parchment. He pulled it out and smoothed it down on his desk blotter.
He’d dismissed it at the time, but now, with the arrival of Locke, he began to wonder if Wilson had brought the man here to train them all in the new fighting techniques. Surely Wilson would have told him, his second, about those plans?
An uneasy feeling crept over Blade as he read.
The letter described how they leaped and rolled, firing wands at will, and teleporting in and out of the field of battle to gain strategic advantage. How they’d learned physical combat methods also. It went on to say the Avalon Patrol Station had trained all their patrollers and inspectors in this new form of combat and it had been highly successful in fighting Lord Blackmoor’s men.
Blade didn’t like it when he’d read about it then and he didn’t like it now. Majik was subtle, beautiful in its use, and elegant in form. The wand was a gentleman’s weapon, and only the most skilled inspector could wield it with deadly effect. He’d killed men before in the line of duty, cleanly, with his wand, without using a blood weapon or his soiling his hands. He could imagine that great brute Locke using his fists to beat some poor farmer into submission, and Blade refused to be reduced to the same low element.
If Wilson thought they’d all become hooligans, bravos, and villains in order to fight the new crime wave, he’d have to do it without Inspector Jonathan Blade. And to be saddled with the man as his partner? Wilson had surely lost his mind.
And yet…there was something intensely attractive about Christopher Locke. Something drew Blade to him, like a bee to clover, but he couldn’t put his finger on what it might be. Something in his eyes, something painful and filled with sorrow, a hunger, perhaps.
More likely the sheer size of the man. Although Locke was only a few inches taller than Blade, the man weighed more, and by the size of the muscles in his arms and thighs, he would be more powerful.
But only physically. Blade was unwavering in his belief that in terms of majik skill and power, he would win.
Would Locke’s speed and strength win over Blade’s majik?
Not bloody likely.
Well, whatever this new method was, he wasn’t interested in using his fists. The very idea was beneath him and the rank of inspector of the patrol.
A voice niggled in the back of his mind. You’re attracted to him…admit it.
Bloody hell, he couldn’t think that way. First, the patrol frowned on fraternization among staff and secondly, their society did not approve of men desiring men. It wasn’t outlawed, but it certainly wasn’t the norm. Still, he’d heard rumors of some stations where inspectors were more than friends.
That word raised the hair on his arms and the back of his neck.
Men couldn’t be lovers, could they? They could share their bodies, he’d heard whispers, but what of their hearts? He’d never seen it, not in his thirty years, and as a man who desired men he’d come to accept he’d have to keep to himself, squelch those needs, keep them buried for the rest of his life.
That longing had been there ever since the first time he’d noticed one of the young grooms on his father’s estate. and fFelt that first hardening of his cock at the sight of the lad’s half-naked body as he jumped into the small creek running through their lands.
The boy’s hair had dripped wet and dark down sun-tanned skin, his teeth showed white as he laughed, and Blade had felt that first throbbing pull of attraction. He’d promptly shoved it down inside his very soul, terrified to admit it to himself or let anyone else know about it.
Luckily, his older brother would be the one to create the next heir, and Blade had been left to pursue his dreams of being in the patrol service.
Now his life was the patrol, the One God, this station, and he’d do nothing to jeopardize it. Not even for the pleasures of the flesh or the hope of a lifelong companion.
The One God had no written commandments forbidding men to lie together and he knew it happened in some corners of their society. There were whispers that among the holy fathers, friendships deepened into more.
Blade knew his own body’s urges and he sated them alone, in his room, picturing vague male bodies entwined, as if seen through a veil of gauze, imagining everything from touching to rubbing, even kissing. What more could men share?
Certainly not what men shared with women. His father and older brother had told him of that…his father to educate; his brother to brag.
Just thinking of that young man of his youth made his cock grow stiff. He adjusted it in his trousers, shifting in his chair. The touch of his hand sent a wave of pleasure through him.
A knock sounded on his door and he jerked his hand away.
“Enter!” he called out, snatching up his quill pen.
The door opened and Christopher Locke stood there.
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