Title: STONE COLD
Series: SoulShares (#8 of 9)
Release Date: September 28, 2017 (the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise)
Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books
Cover Artist: Insatiable Fantasy Designs, Inc.
Maelduin Guaire is a Fae with a mission. An obsession, really. He’s trained his entire life to become the greatest scian-damhsa, blade-dancer, the Fae have ever known, for the sole purpose of killing the blade-dancer who murdered his father and gave House Guaire its reputation as the Cursed House. Now he’s followed Tiernan Guaire through the Pattern to the human world, to fulfill his oath or die trying... but the passage cost him all his skill with a blade.
Terry Miller, Josh LaFontaine’s business partner at Raging Art-On Tattoo and Piercing Parlor, has the worst luck with men since... well, since ever, as far as he’s concerned. Years ago, he walked out on a great thing with Josh, when Bryce Newhouse offered to play sugar daddy for Terry’s ballet company; then Bryce kicked him to the curb, and Terry ended up relying on big-hearted Josh to help him get back on his feet. And now a too-good-to-be-true stranger has turned up in Terry’s half-built dance studio, with a beautiful sword and a bloody nose.
In order to regain the grace and skill he needs to keep his vow, a Fae cursed with the inability to love must SoulShare with a human convinced that love runs screaming when it sees him coming. All with the Marfach looking over their shoulders. No pressure...
“Sorry about the mess.” It was dark within, or at least Maelduin supposed it would seem so to human eyes; then Terry touched a spot on the wall, and light sprang up, revealing…
A ‘mess,’ apparently. Clothing was strewn over the main room’s furnishings and floor, sacks made of paper and small white boxes were piled on a small low table, and dishes were piled in a basin in a separate tiled area to one side that he thought might be a kitchen even though it lacked anything resembling a fireplace.
But Maelduin scarcely noticed the ‘mess,’ because the walls were breathtaking. Terry’s walls were covered with images of human males, and Maelduin felt an actual physical ache in his chest at their beauty. Males in clothing as tight as a second skin, captured at the height of prodigious leaps, or in balances so exquisite as to be impossible without magickal aid, or so he would have thought. Poetry, given human form.
And several of the images were Terry. A younger version of Terry in chalk-white makeup and some sort of military-looking uniform with a red blazon on its breast, caught at the top of the arc of an amazing leap. Another, draped in white and his thicket of curls cut short, on one knee and playing some sort of musical instrument. And today’s Terry, in an elegant doublet that would have allowed him to blend in anywhere in the Realm, wearing tights leaving almost nothing to the imagination, cradling a rose in one hand and looking up at what appeared to be a balcony.
Maelduin rested a hand on the frame encasing the image. I want to be on that balcony, looking down.
Where had that thought come from?
“You like Romeo?” Terry turned from where he was hanging his jacket in a garderobe. His smile was sweet, even shy. “I loved that role, so much—that picture’s from when I was dancing with the Brooklyn Ballet. Before I started Trock Bottom.”
The human had spoken of ‘Trock Bottom’ before, trying to put Maelduin at ease. Maelduin suspected the name was supposed to be a play on words, Unfortunately, his new language gift was no help at all with puns, so he would ignore them and get on with the work he was here to do. The work of self-preservation. Although it was something of a shame that he had no real use for the human’s sweet shyness.
“I like Romeo. Very much.” Maelduin smiled as Terry came up beside him. But Maelduin had never been shy—never known a Fae who was—and his smile had a purpose. His hand brushed Terry’s arm, and magick arced from Fae to human, a subtle pattern of light, flaring where it touched. “He is you.”
“I’m… just a dancer.” Terry stared at the place where Maelduin had touched him, almost as if he could see the magick. His breathing was uneven, and he caught his lower lip between his teeth in a way Maelduin found quite fetching. “Not Romeo.”
Maelduin’s gift showed him a little of what the name meant. He had heard no human word, during his hell-ride, expressing the sense of the Faen word tragód’mhan, a dramatic form dealing with the unfortunate complications arising from the improper expression of desire. But he would make do with the words he had.
“If you were Romeo, I would let you love me.”
Terry’s whisper was like a flame to tinder; there was no seducing another without opening up oneself to the same magick. Slowly, holding the human’s gaze, Maelduin worked his fingers into Terry’s curls, brushed his thumb along one sharp cheekbone, bent his head until he breathed in Terry’s every panting breath. “Please…” It was a word that mattered to humans, he had learned that much from his unwitting tutors. Perhaps a magick word, if humans still believed in magick.
And whether humans believed or not, there was magick here, seething below the skin of human and Fae. Maelduin would wonder about it. Later. After he had done what was necessary.
Rory Ni Coileain majored in creative writing, back when Respectable Colleges didn't offer such a major, so she designed it herself - being careful to ensure that she never had to take a class before nine in the morning or take a Hemingway survey course. (As a result, she was not introduced to Hemingway kitties until comparatively recently, and is now owned by one, given that nobody warned her.)
She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of nineteen, sent off her first short story to an anthology being assembled by an author she idolized, got the kind of rejection letter that puts therapists' kids through college, and found other things to do, such as nightclub singing and volunteering as a lawyer with Gay Men's Health Crisis, for the next thirty years or so, until her stories started whispering to her.
Now she's a legal editor, an Associate member of the Order of Julian of Norwich, and amanuensis to a host of fantastic creatures who are all anxious to tell their stories. And who aren't very good at waiting their turns.