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.
Nathaniel moved restlessly as the silence grew between them. “Will you go to war with these Sutherlins?” he asked, a note of worry in his voice.
Taden studied Nathaniel’s face, clear as porcelain in the sunlight. “Not if it can be avoided. Tell me about this cousin.”
Nathaniel blinked; the gold in his eyes was an astonishing glimmer in the green depths. He ran a hand through his mop of golden hair, pushing it behind his ears. “My cousin Corin wants to force me to go back to our country. I won’t go, so he enlists the aide of these Sutherlins to catch me. I’m sorry. It seems I’ve brought trouble to your continent when I only meant to find a place to live in peace.”
Taden tore his gaze away from the small dimple at the corner of Nathaniel’s mouth. “Shall we find this thing you’re looking for?”
“I haven’t lied to you, my lord.”
“So you say,” Taden answered unpleasantly, fighting the spell of Nathaniel’s charm. Taden watched distractedly as the young man chewed his lower lip. He shook his head to clear it. “Have you mesmerized me and my men?”
“No!” Nathaniel raised his face, shocked. “I’m no witch.”
Taden ignored his words. “Is that why the Sutherlins beat you? Did they feel the magic you were using on them?”
Fear flickered in Nathaniel’s green eyes, a flash of gold in the sunlight. Nathaniel drew a quick breath. “I have a certain gift, lord. I can urge people in their minds to like me, and they usually do. But have no qualms. If your men felt any danger, the trick wouldn’t have worked. It didn’t work on the Sutherlins. I’m not that strong.”
Doubt warred with Taden’s wish to believe him. Even then he felt Nathaniel’s lure as strongly as he had the night before. Nathaniel touched his hand, and Taden’s senses ran riot. The youth’s white fingers stood in vivid contrast with his own sunburned skin, stirring an ache deep in the center of him.
He searched frantically for something to say to break the spell, all the while wanting to pull the young man into his arms and crush his pale lips under his own, plundering their secrets. Nathaniel took a breath as awareness sprang between them. Taden watched his lovely green eyes darken, the tip of Nathaniel’s tongue touching the provocative lips. Mesmerized, Taden’s errant fingers traced Nathaniel’s lovely mouth. Nathaniel’s lips parted as his thumb caressed the full bottom lip, velvet soft. Taden would have kissed him then, but panic swept his face.
Taden dropped his hand and took a quick step back, frustrated and confused. “Stay out of my head,” he said, his voice dangerously low.
“I did nothing to you,” Nathaniel swore, and Taden almost believed the despair in his tones. His breath caught in his throat when Nathaniel took his hand again. Heat sped from his fingertips up his arm to his chest, spreading a blanket of warmth through his body. Fire licked to his groin as Nathaniel searched his face. Nathaniel’s breath touched his skin, and the alluring scent of his body filled Taden with a mad desire.
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