If it’s Monday it musts be time for Seductive Studs. What better way to start out the week than a sampling of snippets from some great m/m stories?
This Wednesday is release day for my new novel, Matthias: Order of the Black Knights. Although Matthias is a contemporary thriller, I thought in honor of Halloween I’d share from the magical set-up that gets Matthias into deep trouble, forever cursed to be reborn as a killer. This is from the prologue, where Matthias meets the wizard who seals his fate:
The man pushed back his hood to reveal an ancient face plowed with deep wrinkles. His gaze cut into Matthias, sizing him up, then moved along to inspect the small crowd of peddlers and beggars who gathered before him.
“The time has come for a new king to rid your land of these invaders, to push them to the sea and beyond. Who among you would join in such a fight if given the strength and power to do so?”
This drew a laugh from some of the downtrodden men, many of whom were old, half-starved, lame, useless. Matthias felt ashamed to stand among them and know he was no better off.
“Who is this king?” Ahmed the spice merchant barked from behind his bowls of earth-toned powders. “You?”
“I cannot fight myself. I am a wizard, and I need true warriors to wield swords in my name. In return for your oath of loyalty, I can make any man a knight, any boy a warrior.” With these last words, he stared straight at Matthias, his gaze boring holes into his soul. “Sick of begging for scraps and cowering before the undeserving? I can make you invincible.” He lashed out with a staff and knocked the basket from Matthias’s arms. Matthias gaped down at the spilled charms, which looked so shoddy and worthless in the dirt. “I have real magic at my disposal.”
Matthias looked up again and was surprised to hear his own voice rise above the laughter, catcalls, and curses. “And when you become king, what then?”
“You will be richly rewarded. All will fear you. Killing your enemies will be a joy.” He lifted a pointy chin in the direction the knights had gone. “Never again will you give way, for all will give way before you.”
Despite the heat of the sun and bodies pressed around him, Matthias shivered. When the horsemen had ridden over his mother, he’d wanted to kill them so badly he could taste their blood in his mouth. When his father beat him, he longed to rise up, take the whip from his hand, and flay the drunkard’s skin until he screamed for mercy.
No. He hadn’t thought those things. Not until this moment. Not until the wizard said the words Killing your enemies will be a joy. Joy. What a strange, foreign word.
The man was promising him joy. Matthias could take his mother out of the hovel, along with his brothers and sisters. They could live in a palace. Matthias grinned at the image but kept his chin down.
Someone brighter than Matthias asked, “And what’s the price for all this power?”
“Only your loyalty and your service,” the wizard said.
“For how long?”
“Until you choose to stop being a warrior. When you choose to forgive your enemy instead of killing him.” The wizard said this with a shrug, as if he couldn’t imagine anyone choosing to do such a silly thing. He pulled a parchment from the folds of his robes and unrolled it. The expensive paper was blank. “Now, who will be the first to claim their destiny?”
Matthias kicked aside the sad little pile of his mother’s charms and stepped forward. “If your promises don’t come true, the pact is broken,” he said, feeling quite smart to negotiate.
A thin smile twisted the wizard’s lips. “I assure you that I, Moriel, never make false promises.”
He held out a long quill pen, and Matthias reached for it, still sure this was nothing more than a conjuring act like his mother, his grandmother, and his great-grandmother had all performed. But when he took the pen, a thrill coursed up his spine.
As if the market and the crowd had retreated behind a veil of shadows, Matthias saw only the scroll, now covered in elegant script, black x marks and names crisscrossing the bottom.
“Magic as great as this requires sacrifice,” Moriel said quietly, just for Matthias it seemed. “Cut yourself and dip the pen in your blood. This will seal the pact forever.”
“Forever?” Startled, Matthias looked up into Moriel’s dark, abysmal eyes.
“Well, until you decide you’re no longer interested in wealth and power.”
“Until I forgive my enemy.”
Simple enough. Matthias expected he would feel very forgiving once he and his family were comfortable and safe.
He took a knife from his belt and made a small cut on his forearm. When enough blood seeped out, he dipped in the pen and carefully wrote his name as his mother had taught him.
Matthias: Order of the Black Knights ~ Release date November 2, 2016
From Louisiana swamp rat to revivalist huckster to skilled con artist, Matthias Krall clawed his way out of poverty using his natural gifts of grift and manipulation to become the leader of an exclusive retreat center. Exploiting the guise of spiritual guru, Matthias seduces the rich and powerful into turning over their lives and fortunes to his control. But wealth and a small cadre of loyal followers can’t protect Matthias from the betrayal he knows is imminent. Everyone wants what Matthias has, except for one man who wants to destroy it. Dylan Connelly is a reporter who’s determined to prove the charismatic recluse is not only a fraud but a murderer.
Irresistibly drawn to Dylan despite the warnings in his gut, Matthias lures Dylan to his island retreat, determined to destroy his enemy once and for all.
Order of the Black Knights
Every century has seen its knights, but they are not always seen. Some of them do what must be done—getting their hands dirty when no one else is willing. Assassins and antiheroes who work from the shadows, they are called the Black Knights. From the time of the society’s creation in the 1100s, these men are cursed to repeat their lives of bloodshed. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man that waits inside and break the cycle. The question is whether or not the knight will kill his true love before he figures it out.
Don’t forget to continue the hop at Seductive Studs!