QSFer R. Phoenix has a new MM paranormal book out: All the Odds.
When the fae play such deadly games, falling in love with one of them can have devastating consequences…
Fickle and capricious, the fae lack a true understanding of human emotions. Though they can masquerade as human, their behavior inevitably betrays them as something utterly other. When Ichabod bested him at a card game, Sebastian abandoned his human lover, leaving him only with a cursed deck to keep him alive.
For a century, Ichabod has waited for his fae lover to return to him. Every day to prolong his life, he must trick an oblivious outsider into choosing a card from a cursed deck — a card that spells everything from a stomach full of bees to a full body swap… to death. Having their deaths on his conscience weighs on him, but to fail would mean the end of his existence… and he isn’t ready to let go when Sebastian might return…
Their reunion is as erotic and dangerous as their time together, with the two exploring the depths of dominance and submission, of pleasure and pain, of sadism and masochism. But can one of the fae truly care for a human? Or will Ichabod’s ferocious love for Sebastian prove to be the end of him?
Of All the Odds is a non-traditional love story and modern-day fairy tale of the Grimm variety. Warnings/Temptations: unsafe BDSM (in all senses of the phrase), a Master/slave style-relationship, and consensual breath play.
R. Phoenix is giving away an eBook copy of “Undone” – for a chance to win, comment on this post.
Sebastian laughed, every bit as playful as Ichabod was burning with pain inside. “You missed me? I’ve only been gone a wink, Ichabod. When did you have time to miss me?”
The words jolted Ichabod out of his trance. Of course their parting seemed like it had been yesterday for a creature like Sebastian. But for Ichabod, whose lifetime had been stretched to twice the normal length, it had felt more like an eternity.
A hundred years and more. There had been so, so very many moments to miss Sebastian in, and even standing before him now, there was a part of him that mourned the loss.
“Always,” Ichabod choked out. “I missed you every time I heard a steamboat blow its horn, and I missed you after the last steamboats fell silent. I missed you as carts lost their horses, metal learned to fly, and cities reached up to meet the sky. I missed you whenever a lover held me close. I missed you in the sunlight and in the storm. I missed you with each breath, each heartbeat, each stolen second…”
Ichabod stared into those fathomless blue eyes, twin oceans where sanity went to drown. He couldn’t explain the strength of the ache that so often led him into despair. He only knew that it would still be there, like a shapeless ghost hovering over its grave even as the rest of him turned to dust.
If the fae could appreciate anything, it was beauty, and if nothing else, Ichabod could coax beauty from words. Sebastian visibly softened, some of the arrogant dismissal fading away as though it had been a feather on the wind. It may have seemed like moments to the immortal fae, but he knew of no other way to express how long it had been for him.
“Forever,” Ichabod said in the silence that followed his words. “I missed you forever.”
Despite his terror that the motion might make Sebastian pull away, Ichabod turned his hand and wrapped his fingers around the one that had already made contact with his own. He brought it to his lips, placing the lightest of kisses on one of the fae’s fingertips, then another.
Sebastian tilted his head, watching him — still catlike, sleek and graceful, perfection personified. Ichabod could feel the weight of that gaze upon him, and he wanted to bow his head in submission to the man who had truly taught him life’s most valuable lessons.
Part of him wanted to ask if Sebastian was back to stay or simply toy with him like a cat with a mouse, but a larger part of him feared the answer… and Ichabod didn’t think he could survive being abandoned again. Only youthful ignorance had gotten him through the first time.
Now he knew exactly how badly it would hurt and exactly how long that pain would last, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to stand even one day more of it.
He’d let those cards rest, refusing to coax a mortal into pulling one to watch their destiny befall them, and he would die before the sun next rose.
Ichabod would rather die than live without Sebastian.
“You hurt me,” Ichabod said. It wasn’t an accusation, not exactly. It was… more bewildered than anything else, like the sound of a child who couldn’t understand why no amount of running and flapping their arms would ever allow them to fly. “I didn’t think you could ever hurt me.”
And he’d been a fool for it, because the fae had been the one to first teach him pain. In the bedroom, perhaps, but he should’ve expected Sebastian to carry the lesson that much further, that much deeper, until it was the only thing he could experience.
Something flickered across Sebastian’s expression, ruthless and vicious, but it faded into a sly smile as the fae reached out to brush his fingers along Ichabod’s chin with his other hand. “Did I?” Again, the odd canting of his head as he considered. “Then shall I make it up to you, Ichabod? Shall I kiss the hurts away?” He leaned in, brushing curls from Ichabod’s face and murmuring into Ichabod’s ear, “Shall I make more hurts for you to luxuriate in instead of dread?”
The thought of Sebastian’s lips upon his skin made his muscles weak and the thought of precisely inflicted pain making the blood rush from his head. If it hadn’t been for the people around them and a desperate grab at his rapidly receding pride, Ichabod would’ve dropped to his knees to grovel like a junkie begging his dealer for just one more hit.
Whether he’d meant to or not, Sebastian had given Ichabod a taste of something humans weren’t meant to handle and kept him hooked for far longer than was healthy. Even decades apart didn’t lessen that craving, though some days it had seemed less pressing than others.
Some days, some moments — like now — it stole his breath from his lungs.
“I want things to be the way they were before,” Ichabod blurted out, unable to keep the words from spilling from his lips. “Before that stupid card game.”
Before he’d beaten the fae at his own game and been congratulated for it, before he’d realized that the fae’s own pride would never allow such an insult to stand. Rather than being a source of pride at a student’s mastery of a skill, it had been a blow to the master who could not stand to be beaten.
Abandonment and a cursed deck of cards had been his reward for winning that game, forcing him to con a new person to draw a card each day without knowing what misfortune it would bring. Their misfortune… and another day of life for him.
Each and every day, one after another, until he’d lost count of how many people he’d hurt.
He’d undo it all if he could.
It sapped the strength from his body, and Ichabod wanted nothing more than to rest. He wanted to finally feel safe. He yearned for the way he’d once felt when Sebastian had held him close, naked limbs tangled together and two hearts beating their coded messages of reassurance.
Again, Ichabod’s gaze tumbled into those terrible blue depths that seemed to suck every secret from his soul, and he was frozen like prey, lost and willing to stay there if it meant Sebastian would remain.
I want you to love me. And if you can’t manage love, then I want you to need me. And if even that’s asking too much, I just want to be near you. Your toy, your plaything, your moment’s amusement. And if you grow bored with that, then kill me quick. Kill me gently. Just don’t make me be alone again.
The realization of just how far he was willing to go shocked Ichabod from his mesmerized state. For over a hundred years, he’d survived on his own, paying a terrible price for every day he’d lived. He didn’t want to sacrifice his life on anyone’s altar, even Sebastian’s…
And oh, he knew how he lied to himself.