Happy Post-St. Patrick’s Day! You’ve survived the work week and (hopefully) some partying. If you’re anything like us, you might be in desperate need of a chaser. Thankfully, we’ve got another gift from the lovely Kasia Bacon. Don’t miss this exclusive excerpt of The Poison Within, out today!
I checked my reflection in passing. A typical peasant—blue-eyed, fair-haired, rugged and brawny—looked back. I never understood what Elly saw in me. I rubbed the stubble on my jaw and did my best to slick down my spiky crop.
I was fully clothed by the time he’d managed to put on his breeches and boots. Granted, his elaborate attire involved more complexity than my stark Inspector’s garb.
I came up to him as he struggled to fasten about two dozen buttons adorning the opening of his shirt. At first glance, they looked like pearls—and probably were. The damned garment must’ve cost more than my horse.
I took the front folds of his shirt out of his hands and started doing up the buttons myself. He rolled his eyes, but patiently stood there, watching me in silence with his chin raised, one side of his lip curled. However clumsy my thick fingers might’ve looked, a childhood spent in the forge repairing intricate chains and hinges had left them surprisingly nimble.
I enjoyed dressing him almost as much as I loved peeling the clothes off him. My fixation appeared to amuse and exasperate him in equal measures. But for whatever reason, he indulged me.
“There, my lord,” I said, smoothing the seams of his coat when I’d finished. “All done.”
“Thank you, Käyru,” he uttered in a warm voice.
Right then, a thought struck me that I’d never entertained before. I frowned. “Do you have your manservant do this?”
I regretted blurting it out the moment I said it, but I couldn’t hide the wave of unease that had washed over me at the notion of some robust young buck touching him so intimately. Did the servant assist Elly with something else, apart from helping him out of his clothes on cold evenings?
“Why?” Elly tilted his head, pursing his lips as though he fought a smile. “Are you jealous, Inspector?”
I stared at him. Damn right I was jealous. So jealous, in fact, that it burnt my guts.
After we met the second time, I’d stopped fucking other men. Following the first night we spent together, I’d quit the women, too. I couldn’t bear to touch anyone else but him. Not for a minute did I suspect he’d done the same, but I tried my best not to think about it.
My face must have been a picture because eventually, he shook his head and heaved a deep sigh. “I’m not infirm, Käyru. I can dress and undress myself just fine. Besides—” His face broke into a grin. “Serh is about a hundred years old. He’s got arthritis in his knuckles.” He laughed, probably at the relief he read in my eyes, but soon his laughter morphed into a prolonged cough.
The violent sound of it made me flinch. Another quiver of concern crossed my mind. “Please, Elly. Send for your family healer today.”
Immediately, his expression set into his lordship mask.
I hated when he distanced himself like that.
“Stop fussing, Käyru. I’m fine.”
The hell he was. Everyone in Radvadur knew his father had died of lung disease at a young age. I thought I spotted a drop of scarlet on his lips, but he turned aside and wiped his mouth with a handkerchief he’d taken out of his coat pocket.
A chill gripped me.
About The Poison Within
Black clouds of xenophobia gather over Radvadur, the western province of the Empire. The political climate is strained and fragile. A surge of Nymph refugees has stirred widespread hostility towards non-humans. When the investigation of a gruesome triple murder linked to the refugee camp ensues, it takes Inspector Käyru Skaer and his lover, Count Ellydhar Finn-Jánn, along an unusual path, at the end of which a precious gift awaits.
Käyru and Elly are worlds apart in social standing, but they have found common ground in the bedroom—up against the wall and the stable doors, too. The arrangement between them ought to have been temporary and of no consequence. As their circumstances change, will they find the courage to risk their hearts?
A linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, Kasia Bacon lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.
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