by Archer Kay Leah
by Archer Kay Leah
Series: The Republic (#2)
Genre: Fantasy romance, M/M romance
Release Date: September 7, 2016
On the outside, Mayr seems to have it all: a successful career as Head of the Guard for a prominent politician, family and friends who adore him, and the attention of beautiful women. But appearances are a good way to bury secrets, including the fact that while Mayr is a romantic at heart, searching for the one person to share his life with, his lovers keep leaving him.
When his last girlfriend takes him back and suggests an intimate night with Tash, one of her lovers, Mayr reluctantly agrees. The last thing he expects is to fall hard for Tash, who is nothing like Mayr's previous lovers—and about to undertake the Uldana Trials. If Tash fails, he'll likely die. If he succeeds, he must give up Mayr, and become the latest to leave Mayr standing alone with a broken heart.
He waited, not sure what to expect as an answer.
Tash played with the chain of his talon ring. "I really did have your interests at heart," he said quietly. "And since we're being honest: I didn't come tonight just to be a priest. I was hoping to see you. I'd thought of visiting again, but worried it was too soon—that you wouldn't want to see my face again. I was afraid you wouldn't trust me or listen to anything I had to say."
Don't we make the pair? Mayr studied Tash's face, tempted to brush Tash's hair over his shoulder to see him better. Maybe there was a chance for them yet.
"One thing you said still confuses me," Mayr admitted. "What did you mean when you said this wasn't part of your plan?"
"It's a priesthood thing. I'm going through for the next level soon, though it's not yet set. I have to do some things before then and complete certain tasks. Prove my worth and how serious I am about committing to it." Tash smiled sadly at Mayr. "That's why I was with Sarene. I was having fun before I have to go through all of that. She offered something that wasn't attachment, just pleasure. Since being an Uldana restricts me from intimacy, I thought it wouldn't hurt."
Tash shook his head. "But I hurt you, and that's not right." He laid one hesitant hand on Mayr's. "I truly am sorry for everything. Sarene made it sound like you were fully into it. Meanwhile, I had the distinct impression you were serious about her even though she was playing you. She's inept and too blind to fully comprehend what she had."
Mayr threw blades of grass toward the hill. "You don't need to apologize. You told me I could get out and I didn't. I'm glad I stayed."
And now for the moment of debilitating truth. "You asked how I was taking it, what we did, and I didn't answer. Because I couldn't." Mayr sucked in a deep breath. "I didn't know how to answer you, but I've been working it out. I've had a lot of time to figure out my exact reply."
Rising to his knees, Mayr ignored his doubts. Before he lost his courage, he pressed his lips to Tash's, tugging gently on Tash's bottom lip before offering his mouth fully. It felt right. Good. He should have done it before.
Tonight, he would not shy away. His fear of rejection would have to wait.
As Tash gripped his arm and pulled him closer, Mayr's fears dissipated. When Tash's tongue entered Mayr's mouth, tasting and teasing, it sparked deep emotions Mayr had missed. Sincere desire, transcending the relationships he had accepted as all he could have.
Slowly, Mayr broke the kiss, satisfied with Tash's ardent gaze. "Did I tell you that I'm really, really happy you're here?"
Without waiting for Tash's answer, Mayr kissed him hard, wishing Tash could feel what he did. He felt lit up, more than he had in a long time. The relationship with Sarene had become a chore. And before her, it wasn't any different. I felt the same for the other women as I did her. Just going through the motions, telling myself they could be someone I could stay with for the rest of my life so I wouldn't be alone. Convinced they would stay and he would be happy, he had given them everything.
All of it had been foolish desperation.
But Tash offered the things missing from most of Mayr's relationships. Joyful intoxication derived from emotion alone. Breathtaking inspiration that made everything else in his life seem lacklustre. The restored hope that someone could consider him enough. Whenever Tash asked about him, his concern sounded genuine. In the smallest action, there was more care and respect than any of Mayr's girlfriends had shown him. The idea of being with Tash was both thrilling and terrifying, but deep down in his tainted core, he needed it.
"I'm hoping that answers your question," Mayr murmured. "Otherwise, it's going to take me a while to convince you, and I still have things to do tonight."
Tash leaned his forehead against Mayr's. "No, you've made it clear. I won't ask again."
"Then I've got a question for you."
"If I said I wanted to see where this could go, what would you say?"
Lips traveled up Mayr's jaw and kissed a path to his brow. Arms encircled his waist, holding him upright against Tash's side. "Yes," Tash whispered against his temple.
The breathy reply wreaked havoc on Mayr's body. A shiver shot through him from the back of his neck to his feet. To feel Tash's interest was one thing; hearing it was another. They were worth every night he had agonized over an apology.
"I have to get back to the feast." Mayr tilted his head. "Do you have a curfew? Do the other priests lock you up if you come home late?"
Tash chuckled. "No. That's only for the Metahs. I'm free to do as I please. Why?"
"If you stay, we could spend time together after the feast is over. Maybe finally get around to knowing each other better?"
"Considering I came here mostly for you… there's no place I'd rather be."
"Also known as yes."
And with one word, hope trounced Mayr's fear into submission.
About the Author
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Ontario, Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer's family and the never-ending need to be creative, it has been this diversity that has inspired Archer's love of toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and crazy situations.
Archer started writing stories at age six and became "that kid" with their nose in the books and a pen in their hand, pursuing the challenges of writing novels at age thirteen and conquering the dread of poetry at fifteen. Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged.
When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek who has too many hobbies, keeping busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along, especially if it is in technological form. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a same-sex partner and their cat.