Friday, May 10, 2013

Sumeria's Magi, A New Beginning, Part Two

Day 7: count down to book four in the Sumeria's Sons series. Surrounded By Crimson will be release on Saturday, May 18th. From today thru Sunday, May 17th, I will post the side stories to the Sumeria's Sons. 

Reminder: On May 13th thru May 17th, Starting Fires, the second short for Gregori and Juan will be featured here on the blog. The story is a little over 12k so I'll post about 3k per day.

Starting Monday, May 13th I will be running a week long contest/giveaway for a couple of copies of Surrounded By Crimson. More participants means more copies. Additional details on the giveaway will be posted on Sunday.

A New Beginning (Sumeria's Sons #2.1, Sumeria's Magi #0.1)
© 2013, Lexi Ander

The Magi, Gregori Borchetta, and the warrior, Juan Ybarra, have been dancing around each other since that fateful day when Juan gave his blood oath to Tristan Janick. Dangerous ghosts haunt Gregori and he's not sure if he should stay or go. Will the skittish Magi be enticed to not only to stay for Tristan and the tribe but for Juan as well?

Part Two

Juan turned on the shower, adjusting the temperature. Reluctantly, I shrugged out of the robes with trembling hands. The mask of, "I don't give a fuck," fell into place and I allowed Juan to draw me to my feet. His palms slid down my back and paused at the first ragged scar. Paying more attention to Juan's reaction, and not what I should be doing, I tripped on the clothing pooled around my ankles. He caught and pulled me firmly against his body.

For a second, I permitted him to hold me and imagined what life could be like if none of my past or present mattered. I wished I was normal, leading an ordinary existence somewhere far away from everything. Then the moment was over and I pushed weakly against his chest, needing him to release me before I broke down.

Stepping into the hot shower made me gasp for air. I hadn't realize how cold I'd been until the water hit me. Juan kept a steadying arm around me as he awkwardly lathered a washcloth with soap. The trembling continued and hindered any help I attempted to give, so I simply held him instead. I refused to dwell on how good he felt against me, how I loved his calloused fingertips as they traced over my skin, or how his soft, dark stubble rubbed against my cheek.

At first, the run-off turned pink from the blood, swirling down the drain. The grit and grime washed away, the sharp scent of copper exchanged for the aroma of sandalwood soap. More exhausted than I'd admit to anyone, half way through the shower I rested against Juan.

"I've got you," he whispered. "Not much longer and you can rest for a while. I promise. Tilt your head back and I'll rinse your hair."

I was a slave to the sound of his voice. In that moment, I would've done anything he asked of me. Closing my eyes and tilting my chin up, the water streaming thought my hair, his lips brushed my chin. When I lifted my eyelids, I met Juan's hazel eyes, more brown than green, staring back at me. The soft desire reflected there made me pause. Surely after what he'd seen—I had to be misinterpreting the message in his gaze.


He glanced at my lips, his gaze lingering. "Yes, Tallis." His low gravelly voice caused things within me to stir.

"Don't call me by a title," I griped, blushing. "Use my name." Damn, his eyes were distracting.

His lips quirked up and took on a mischievous shape. "There are many names I'd love to call you."

I snorted and frowned even as my heart skipped a beat.

He chuckled, switching off the water. "The Xenres's sarcasm has rubbed off on you."

"I've always had…" The sharp retort was cut off by the towel thrown over my head. It didn't keep me from hearing his light laughter. Why did he have to be such a likeable guy?

Exhaustion tugged at me and the toweling only added to the lethargy. "Come on, tiger, let's get you in bed before you fall asleep on your feet." Why was he still chuckling at me?

The scent of sage and tangy incense permeated my quarters. I knew how disastrous my room appeared; nothing less than a small tornado could've wrecked as much havoc to my personal space. There was a method to the madness—mostly. I had no inclination to explain the chaos at the moment because a pillow with my name on it beckoned me to snuggle close.

I burrowed down into the bed, pulled the fluffy covers to my chin with cool shaky hands as Juan turned out the light. After the door snick closed, I sighed with relief as my body became heavy with slumpber closing in fast. The bed dipped and a muscular form spooned around me under the blankets. I pried my eyelids open to glower at Juan.

"Right now, I'm going to hold you while you sleep. Tomorrow you can yell at me if you wish, but afterwards we need to talk."

Too tired to argue with him, I grunted instead. Arms snaked around my torso, I couldn't help but to sink into the warmth he provided, and inhaled in his clean heady scent. Tomorrow seemed a long way off, and right now, I was exactly where I'd been dreaming of since he'd walked into my life.


I woke to the glorious aroma of mint tea and something sweet. My treacherous stomach rumbled. A low chuckle sounded in my ear and I froze, my fuzzy mind gradually recalling the events of the day before. Long arms tightened, drawing my body against a firm muscular chest. A hard hot shaft nestled between the cheeks of my ass.

I stiffened.

Juan sighed. "Why are you so wary of me? I've seen how you stare at me. You can lie and tell me you don't want me. Your body language says keep away, but your eyes, they betray you every time you don't think anyone's watching."

He was right. I had always wanted him, but I couldn't chance a relationship, no matter what I wished for.

I remained silent.

"Is it these marks on your back?" Anger seeped into his voice. "Do you think a few scars will chase me off?"

"It wouldn't be the first time." The bitter words were out of my mouth before I stopped them. I closed my eyes, naming myself every kind of fool.

"If this is the only reason men shy away from you, then they are fools, and not worthy to be your partner." He kissed a deepest scar located over my right shoulder blade. Skin pebbled under the brush of his lips.

I wished Juan would simply let go of this line of conversation, verify I was better after the much needed rest, and go about his business. I understood him enough to realize he wouldn't. I rolled over to face him and pressed flat palms to his chest to keep him from drawing me closer. Once I peered at him and took in the sleep tousled hair, his soft hazel eyes more green in the morning light, the naked almond skin smooth under my hands, and I almost gave in to my desire for him.

I drew on a stern face. "Have you forgotten what brought you here to begin with? Caspian MacCuill gave the Order of Anat falsified retrieval orders for Ushna. He then threatened my friend if I refused to cooperate. Don't you wondered why he'd attempt to strong arm me? What he'd want that was so important the Triad would blatantly break numerous laws to acquire?"

I hadn't been that frightened since I'd been eighteen years old and dumped on the side of the road to die. Tristan had backed Ushna and I into a corner as the Warriors of Anat invaded his home. I'd realized then I couldn't allow Caspian seize Ushna. If the Triad had only wanted me, I would've left without causing an uproar, and found a way to escape later. But the Triad had attempted to use Ushna as leverage against me and in doing so they had underestimated Tristan.
All of us changed in different ways that day.

"I recall perfectly well what happened. I don't understand why you're so worried?" He looked perplexed.

"The Triad has been pressuring me for as long as I can remember. The last time I turned them down I almost died."

Didn't he recognize how dangerous it was to be around me? In the beginning, after Caspian had been dispatched, I swore with each rising of the sun I'd leave my friends—disappear. And every day, Tristan or Ushna sought my company and kept me busy—and I had allowed them to distract me.

For too long, I'd lived in the largest Lycan tribe and had stayed separate from others out of fear. If it appeared as if I had no attachments then those whom I loved couldn't be used against me. They would be safe from potential harm. But I hadn't realize how much I hungered for the companionship of others, or had longed for the closeness of friends and loved ones until I had stepped into Tristan's and Ushna's house. For the first time, I felt as if I'd come home.

Then I understood what I'd allowed the fear to steal from me. Yet I knew I brought danger to the doorstep of my closest friends, my brothers. When did the good and the bad balance out? The Triad led the Magi College and the three of them, Caspian MacCuill, Kevah Khortdad, and Barron Silvio had made it abundantly clear I'd eventually bow to their will or those closest to me would suffer.

I'd left the college, my friends, and that life behind. It was the only way to keep people safe. I had the command of more magic than any one or dozen Magi living. Normally that kind of power would've terrified others—if it had been anyone else. But everyone knew I refused to harm others. A fact the Triad was able to use against me time and again until I withdrew.

"You're strong, Gregori, more capable than most people I know. What do you have to be afraid of?"

Why was Juan being a stubborn man? Anyone else would've left me alone long before this point. I had to make him leave. I adored him too much already and I would be crushed if he came to harm.

"Fine," I snapped and glared when he grinned. "First I must use the restroom and then I'll eat. If you're still insistent with,"—my hand waved back and forth between him and me—"whatever you think this is, I'll talk, but you'll need to wait."

I climbed out of the bed and walked nonchalantly to the dresser for a pair of boxer briefs. I sensed his eyes following me, and I flushed a soft pink before I could escape to the bathroom. The exhale of relief echoed noisily within the tiled space. I washed my hands after relieving myself and stood for a moment staring at my reflection.

As the circumstances were now, I wouldn't leave Tristan's tribe unless my hand was forced. It was my fault the Triad would focus their attention on him. I'd need to find some way to impede any retaliation Kevah would no doubt perpetrate, and because of that I'd probably be unable to escape death a second time. Juan needed to understand I refused to allow another to be harmed again because of me. If what I told him didn't persuade him, then I'd be an asshole and chase him away.
My heart twisted in my chest but I ignored the sensation.

Game plan selected, I stepped back into the bedroom. Juan wore the smallest pair of blue briefs I'd ever seen. I nearly swallowed my tongue. On the bed sat a breakfast tray laden with a decadent feast. The strong scent of the mint tea made my mouth water. In the face of food and a gorgeous man, the game plan was shelved.

I crawled warily on the mattress to sit cross-legged facing the warrior and accepted the huge mug of tea. Sipping the drink, I studied Juan as he ate. He had a piece of toast waiting after I gulped half of the cup's contents. I demolished the bread and everything else he served to me. The fact that his hand fed me as much as my own didn't escape my attention. I squashed the pleasure of his attentiveness even as I opened my mouth to take the peanut butter covered apple slice from his fingertips.

I was playing with fire but I couldn't seem to help myself.

"So, are you going to tell me why you keep pushing me away?"

I chewed slowly, breakfast becoming a hard lump in my stomach. I had a course of action to follow, also known as being an asshole. "You witnessed what they tried to pull. I didn't take you to be a dense man. I'm going to have to reassess my opinion of you." Juan laughed and shoved another slice of fruit into my mouth to cut off the insult.

"I already know what happened. What I don't know is why you're frightened. The Xenres sent a message to the Triad and the Magi College. He's claimed you as his own and you've seen how fiercely he protects us."

"There are more than just Kevah and Barron to worry about. As leader of the Triad, Kevah commands the loyalty of some of the strongest Magi the college has to offer. He's ruthlessly pursued me since I came of age. Tristan's threat will only stall him. With Caspian's death, Kevah has been weakened now but eventually he'll come for me–again." I sipped my tea and stared as he absorbed the information.

Meeting my eyes, he shrugged. "When he does, then we'll meet his challenge."
"You're an idiot. How the hell do you think I acquired these scars? The last time he tried to force me to join him, he almost killed. They dumped me on the side of the road where I was found by a friend. Without him I would've died." I scrubbed a hand through my long hair.


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