QSFer AJ Sherwood has a new MM fantasy book out: Fourth Point of Contact.
Ren’s head snapped up, as Brahms only used his full name when being completely serious.
Those dark blue eyes met his levelly, penetratingly, as if he could see every thought going through Ren’s head. And he likely could. The man was exceptionally good at seeing through people. “Come with me.”
Oh hell. He really had no defenses against that plea. Brahms rarely asked anything of him, and every time he had, it turned out to be for Ren’s own good. “You realize that if I go, your reputation is never going to recover. People assume I’ve seduced you over to my side as it is.”
Brahms just stared at him.
“Right, you don’t care. Of course you don’t, silly me, why am I worrying about it?” Relief filled him, making him a little giddy with it, and he had the strangest urge to giggle. Which wasn’t manly, he stamped that out immediately, but still a grin took over his face. “Alright, alright, I’ll go home with you.”
Not once in the past five years has Castle Warden Sho Renjimantoro regretted following his best friend to Aart. How can he regret it when he finds open acceptance regarding his sexuality from everyone around him (even if they don’t understand it), and he gets to be with the man most important to him?
No, finding someone in this country is a fantasy best forgotten.
General Arman Brahms, finally home from deployment, has waited over two years to show Ren he’s wrong, that fantasies can come true. Unfortunately, his plans get put on hold to help Ren solve the crisis unfolding in the castle.
Someone is doing their level best to make sure the engagement of Prince Charles and Princess Alexandria of Scovia falls through—by fair means or foul. In addition, they’re trying to make Ren deemed incompetent and dismissed from his position. While hunting for the perpetrator, Ren and Arman do everything in their power to protect those they’re sworn to before the irredeemable occurs.
And along the way, prove that even an ordinary life can become extraordinary.
Excerpt from Chapter 7:
Before he could reach his tent, his batman Robert hailed him. “Sir! We have a courier.”
Eager for news, Arman switched paths and went down to the open command tent instead. A fresh-faced courier—he must have been in the army a whole three months, as he looked barely sixteen—immediately stood at his entrance and saluted him, which Arman returned. He looked moderately dusty from the road, but Robert had already fetched him a drink, being the considerate man he was. Robert was good at seeing to other’s needs; hence his position as Arman’s batman.
“General, I’ve a bundle of letters for you,” the courier informed him, handing over a thick stack held together by cheap twine.
Hoping a letter from Ren was in there somewhere, Arman took them and gave the lad a nod and gestured for him to take one of the stools next to the table. He sank into one opposite as he asked, “What news?”
“Precious little good, sir,” the courier confessed with a sour face. “Princess Alexandria was attacked on the way in to visit us, did you hear of that?”
“No,” Arman responded in alarm. “Anyone hurt?”
“Most of her guards, sir. They were attacked in Bhodhsa, actually, nearly in Aart. The whois still in question, or so I heard. They’re investigating, but the men who attacked her were careful to cover their tracks. As to why, there’s all sorts of reasons flying about. There’s a group that says there’s some sort of financial gain to be had from the marriage, some monopoly that will be formed, and they want no part of it.”
Arman snorted. Nonsense, that was.
The courier apparently agreed, as he shrugged wryly and continued, “Not that anyone’s paying attention to the screaming. But the main people who are unhappy are another group. They say it isn’t done, that people shouldn’t mix blood, which don’t make sense to me either, although not many are saying that one too loudly. Have you heard of that, sir?”
“No, but don’t put much stock in it,” Robert advised the young man. “People are always leaping to conclusions they shouldn’t. So they still don’t know for sure who attacked her…that bodes ill.”
So it did. Protecting against an unknown enemy was the hardest thing to do. Arman didn’t imagine Ren was very happy about the situation right now considering it would be his responsibility to protect Princess Alexandria while she stayed in Aart.
Because Robert knew that Arman wouldn’t ask, he did it for him. The middle-aged veteran gave Arman a pointed look as he did so, one saying Arman should really start speaking for himself at some point. “And how is Warden Ren?”
“Not happy, sir,” the courier answered frankly. For some reason, he cast Arman a nervous look as he answered, his body leaning back as if expecting an explosion soon. “He, ah, had a love affair go very wrong on him.”
Breath, thought, motion—everything ceased for a moment. Nothing but pitched blackness and silence resounded in his head for a split second, as his world came crashing to a halt. Arman focused on the courier, sure he’d heard that wrong, praying he had, alarm rising and twisting his chest. “What?”
“A young lord, Deidrick Giles, he was courting Warden Ren a month back,” the courier explained, drops of sweat dewing on his skin. His eyes skittered nervously about, not settling on Arman. “But no one knew Giles was engaged already, not until they’d been courting a few weeks. The warden thrashed him right in the training yard when he found out, but…the fallout hasn’t been pretty.”
An internal scream resonated in his head. Arman’s breath rasped in his throat, his emotions torn between anger and pain. Ren.
His Ren, in other man’s arms.
Understanding struck as the full depth of his emotions blazed across all of his nerves, making all his previous wishes fall flat in comparison.
No, not his Ren; not hisRen at all because Arman, like a stupid fool, hadn’t asked. Hadn’t said anything before he’d left. He’d wanted their relationship to change, but Arman had assumed it would be safe to wait until after he came home again before broaching the subject to Ren. After all, no one in Aart had come out with same-sex inclinations in the past five years; who would be Arman’s rival?
The fact the relationship had barely lasted a few weeks only gave him a small measure of peace. His Ren never went halfway on anything, so if he’d been involved with this man, his heart had likely taken a bruising from it when the relationship turned poorly. Arman hated that Ren was in pain without Arman being there to comfort him. His fists clenched until his nails bit into his palms, the knuckles white under his strain.
He heard the courier hastily get up, Robert hustling him away before Arman’s temper exploded. Of course, Robert understood exactly why Arman was ready to murder someone. He’d confided everything to the man before they’d even left Castle-de-Haut.
With the cool, cold logic that had served him well in the war, Arman’s mind clicked over double-time, thinking of logistics, timelines, supplies, all in an effort to find the most efficient way for him to get back to Ren. He had to return to Ren as quickly as he could. Time was clearly not on his side, nor fate. He’d be wise to not give either a second chance of screwing with them.
When Robert re-entered the tent, he did so with the air of a man facing down a half-starved wolf. “Sir?”
“Seven months,” Arman rasped, already standing. He needed to take one of the workmen’s spots, tear into the half-ruined castle himself, or he’d go mad. “We get this done in seven months.”
“Sir?” Robert swallowed, nervous for the first time in their acquaintance. Then again, he’d never seen Arman in a pitch-black rage before. “Is that possible?”
“Seven months,” Arman maintained, his tone brooking no argument. He’d make it possible.
And damn anyone that tried to stand in his way.
AJ Sherwood believes in happily ever afters, magic, dragons, good men, and dark chocolate. She’s often dreams at night of delectable men doing sexy things with each other. In between writing multiple books (often at the same time) she pets her cats, plays with her dogs, and attempts insane things like aerial yoga.
She currently resides in Tennessee with aforementioned cats, dogs, and her editor/best friend/sister/partner in crime.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/aj.sherwood.180