Can passion melt a heart of stone?
Darkness is spreading in the world with only the powerful Agenor family to oppose it. In the guise of a stone gargoyle atop the castle walls, Adrian has protected Philip, the young heir, since birth, watching him grow from childhood into a strong but lonely man without love.
When the clan chief, Philip’s father, is murdered by those he trusted, Adrian resumes his human form to better protect his beloved Philip. And finds his love returned by the man. As lovers, their passion is all-consuming, but as they fight against darkness and treachery from within, will their love be enough to save them, and to stem the dark tide sweeping the land?
Adrian touched the glass separating them as Philip sank on the bed and curled into himself. He felt his lover’s scalding tears in his own eyes.
“Soon, my heart,” he whispered, choked with emotion. He couldn’t go to Philip, not until he’d seen to his safety. Anguished, he raced across the stone balcony and leapt into the sky. His black wings stretched out on either side of him, and he soared, his heart a wild thing in his chest as he rode the wind.
He swooped low over winter barren fields and cried out in swift joy as the air rushed over his bare skin and the sensitive feathers of his strong wings. Recalling his mission, he rose again and skimmed the treetops of the old forest toward the village he’d once called home. He had to be quick. Need had left his darling unguarded.
The cottage came into view, and Adrian breathed easier. Slowing, he landed lightly on his feet, his wings folded back against his bare, powerful shoulders. Rain slipped down the sculpted muscles of his chest and flat stomach. His nakedness didn’t bother him. He strode with confidence across the muddy clearing to the painted door standing open despite the weather. The wise one would know what to do.
Adrian wondered if Jonathon had made it this far or if he had been ambushed by his enemies beforehand. He shook his head in regret, wishing Jonathon had asked for his aide. But the Aganor chief had been a stern man, arrogant in his powers, loath to take advice. Sorrow touched Adrian’s heart when he recalled the young Philip after his mother’s death. Illness had taken her life early and left Philip alone with a man who had no time for a grieving son. Jonathon took his duties as clan leader seriously, sparing nothing for the boy left in his care.
Adrian sighed as he paused in the doorway of the cottage. In this war between light and dark, they needed every advantage. Now with Jonathon gone, Philip was alone with only his Watcher at his side. Adrian prayed they could hold back the darkness. Would Philip send for his cousins to the south? If the twins could even come. There was danger in all corners of the earth, it seemed.
“Are you home, Mother?” Adrian called from the threshold of the cottage, as he waited to be invited into the warmth and comfort within. The enticing scent of spices and fresh baking wafted to him, reminding him sharply of the mortality he’d shed to protect the Agenor heir. He felt the warmth of a blush in his face. He’d do it again for Philip, brave and true and beautiful.
“Adrian? Come in, dear.”
His wings rustled as a chill ran down his spine. There had been a strange note in the woman’s voice. Anticipation? Fear? He couldn’t place it, and he stepped with caution into the heated room, lit by the bright flames on the hearth. The old woman sat on her accustomed stool. She tossed something into the pot bubbling over the fire before turning her gaze on him. Adrian couldn’t explain the shudder that traveled his body at the glitter in her eyes.
She moved her long skirts aside, and Adrian crossed the room to kneel at her feet. He studied the seams in her face and took note of the excitement in her features. When he was young he used to steal away from his guardian and come to her cottage. She’d fill him with sweets and advice. He’d seen her reactions, happiness and sadness and all that lies between, but he couldn’t place her mood this time. “What’s wrong, Mother?”
A snort of laugher erupted from a dark corner of the room, and Adrian surged to his feet at the familiar voice. His heart pounded. It couldn’t be true. Jaimin? Here?
Without warning, the old woman’s hand snaked out and grabbed his wrist. Too distracted to pull away, he left his hand in hers, and she stabbed a knife through his palm. Adrian cried out at the sear of pain, and stared in shock as blood pooled around the bone handle of the dagger. He raised his face to hers, bewildered at the weakness assailing him. “I don’t—”
He whirled as a man stepped from the shadows. A wave of dizziness struck him, and he squinted through his dimming sight. Firelight glinted in golden hair surrounding a face of cold beauty. Adrian’s heart stumbled. He knew the man, his body remembered the touch and taste and smell of him, though it had been twenty years since they’d last met, a ghost raised from his past. “Jaimin?”