QSFer M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy out, A Warrior’s redemption Book two: “Forgiving Lance.”
A tragic secret.
A trial of pain.
Gust holds a secret close to his heart, and it festers like an infected wound. While part of him wants to tell Lance so they can deal with it together, he fears what it will do to his friend. The last thing he wants to do is hurt the man he is falling in love with. And it never seems the right time as they pursue Ulfr’s warriors and elude hunting parties of royal soldiers.
Lance wants nothing more than to confess his love and undying loyalty to Gust. But he fears rejection. He has Gust’s friendship and dares not ask for more. He’s not yet a man worthy to ask for more. And as he continues on his self-imposed mission to cut down Ulfr’s warriors, he begins to wonder if he will ever find the redemption he so fiercely seeks.
When word of a new Scourge reaches them, their journey brings them to the war-ravaged kingdom of Grekenus. It is there that Lance is forced to face the actions of his past, and once again his life hangs in the balance. Now it is only Gust who can defend him against those thirsty for blood… and to Lance himself.
Gust knelt and carefully cut the stems of the haethorn plant. Despite most considering it a weed, any worthy healer knew its medicinal properties. When boiled correctly and mixed with a few other herbs, it turned into a paste that blocked infection from open wounds. He was nearly out of his supply and thanked the gods for the haethorn’s bright orange coloring.
“Are you done yet?”
Gust didn’t bother to sigh. Without looking away from his task, he said, “Patience is a virtue, Lance. You promised that we would stop whenever I spotted healing herbs, and I promised to let you drag my ass over this entire bloody empire. That was our deal.”
“I know. But how long does it take to plunk up special weeds?”
Gust flicked his gaze over. Lance squirmed not far from him, his expression one of a sulky child. Brutus, Lance’s loyal war stallion, paced behind his rider and snorted in similar agitation.
What a pair they made.
“Which one of us is the healer?”
Somehow Lance managed to sulk harder and stomped away, grumbling under his breath. Gust shook his head and continued his cutting. Lance was like a dog with a bone, which wasn’t any wonder considering they’d been tracking Ulfr’s warriors since leaving Thebys. Lance maintained enviable single-minded focus on routing all his former comrades and putting them to the sword. However, that also made him impatient and grumpy when Gust insisted on the little things like breaks, food, and sleep, in addition to the occasional stop when he found any healing herbs. Or stops into villages to visit apothecaries for supplies he couldn’t find in the wild. Although Gust had to admit, at least to himself, that he was dawdling with the haethorn leaf on purpose.
The last warrior Lance went up against got lucky and sliced his blade along Lance’s ribs. It was a shallow wound and painful despite Lance’s denial. Gust then effectively concluded the fight by shooting an arrow through his throat. Then he was forced to deal with Lance’s yelling, his anger not helping his injury in the least. Gust had wanted to heave after taking another life. Instead he’d given extra tribute to the next Anknet shrine they came across.
Lance wanted to personally slaughter every single one of Ulfr’s warriors, and Gust wasn’t allowed to interfere. Stubborn ass. Lance was as skilled as Hoksys, the guardian of light himself, with a blade, and yet he was still mortal, and he could still bleed. Gust wasn’t going to lose his friend. Not if he could prevent it.
“You’re still angry with me,” he said softly as he rose.
Lance stilled, his back to Gust, and sighed. “Aye.”
“He could have wounded you worse. What was I supposed to do? Stand there wringing my hands? Ever known me to do that?”
Lance shook his head.
“Look at me.”
With visible reluctance, Lance turned around, his blond brows knit in worry and agitation. Gust moved closer and laid a gentle hand on his cheek. They’d long ago grown comfortable with touching each other. Lance wasn’t accustomed to gentleness, having been trained into a weapon since childhood, enduring pain and humiliation most of his life. For that reason, Gust knew Lance cherished every touch and hug and occasional kiss on the cheek that Gust gave him. For Gust, touching Lance in a friendly, affectionate fashion helped soothe his own deep desires.
He loved Lance as a friend. He also desired Lance as a lover. It troubled him that the longer he was with Lance, the more that love and desire started to change form, becoming deeper, more vital. He didn’t want to admit, even to himself, that he was falling in love with Lance. It wasn’t something he could deny either.
Gust’s dark skin contrasted starkly with Lance’s fairness, and Lance’s honey blond hair was long and trailed down to the middle of his back. The stubble around his mouth was a slightly darker blond than his hair. He shaved irregularly and Gust started to like the look of stubble and beard. Without it, he was far too pretty. The facial hair also hid a few of his faint scars, ones received in his younger years with Ulfr. Yet when Lance had his hair pulled back as it was now, the old, faint half circle scar on the side of his face that began at his temple and reached down to his chin, was noticeable.
Gust’s own hair was long and twined into multiple braids, a few strands decorated with beads, that he often pulled back in a tail to keep out of his face. It was the custom of his people, and he cherished every small part of them that he could carry. He didn’t know when or if he would see his home again.
Lance’s expression softened at Gust’s touch, and he covered Gust’s hand with his own.
“I promised to protect you,” he said.
Gust smiled. “Aye, you did and you are. I also promised to protect you. I didn’t argue when you wanted to take on every single warrior by yourself, did I?”
Lance shook his head.
“So don’t argue with me when I deem a situation is in need of my help. I have your back. That’s why I’m here. You can’t redeem yourself if you’re dead.”
Tension seemed to melt out of Lance, and he leaned forward to place his head on Gust’s shoulder. Gust smiled and patted the back of his head, fingers brushing over his soft hair. He hoped Lance was finally listening to him. Understanding him.
“I don’t want you to kill,” Lance whispered. “You’re a healer. You save lives.”
M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!). After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier. Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.