Chapter 11

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Korin woke from his nightmare to a hand on his shoulder and Adán's voice in his ear. "Easy, Sunshine. Easy."

Korin's heart pounded; his breath came too fast. He was trapped between the wall and Adán's body. He pushed up, away, gasping.

"Korin?" Ádan lay where he was. He didn't try to grab Korin or pull him back down. For which Korin was grateful.

The dream was already fading, and with it the panic. "I'm fine. I'll be...I'm fine." As the dream-induced terror faded, guilt crept in. "I'm sorry that I woke you."

Ádan chuckled and slid an arm loosely around Korin's waist. "It's no hardship waking up next to you."

The words, Adán's warm skin against Korin's bare stomach, sent a pleasant warmth all through Korin. Even as he blushed, fully awake now and aware of the fact that they were both naked in bed together like a pair of shameless hedonists. That Korin's thigh pressed against Adán's awakening erection.

"Lie back down." Now Ádan did tug on Korin, but gently. "You're letting in all the cold air."

"There's cold air here?" Korin lay back, let Ádan pull Korin back against him. Adán's arms wrapped around Korin's chest and the warm, hard line of Adán's arousal pressed against the small of Korin's back. 

But Ádan seemed content to lie there, his breathing slow and even against Korin's hair. The silence stretched and Korin thought Ádan had fallen back asleep when Ádan asked, "Who's Jonathan?"

Korin tensed. Adán's palm stroked his chest, soothing. "You don't have to tell me. That's fine. But you said his name while you were asleep." After a pause, Ádan amended to, "While you were in the nightmare."

"He's dead." If Ádan had asked anything, said anything, Korin would have changed the subject. But he lay there, a silent, solid presence. With Korin, but not demanding. Not pushing. Which made it easier—made it possible for Korin to talk.

"I told you about Teriad, my teacher, and Lia, his other student. Well, Lia, she had a twin brother. Jonathan." Korin was impressed at how steady he sounded speaking Jonathan's name. "He didn't have anywhere else to go, so Teriad let him travel with us."

Tall and strong, with a dazzling smile that brought something magical to an otherwise plain face. Jonathan had taken instantly to Korin. Treating him first like a brother, and then later...

"Jonathan was like me. Like us." Korin reached back to touch Adán's thigh, running his hand down the line of smooth skin and hard muscle. "It's dangerous in the south. As uptight as they are, I imagine it always was, but...it's worse now. Because of..."

"Because of the knights," Ádan finished for him in a soft voice.

Korin nodded and continued. "Jon and I had to hide. And we were always on the road. Never any privacy. We found time together when we could. I loved him. I think. I don't know how you ever really know. And I'm pretty sure he loved me. We never said it, because what was the point? It wasn't like we could have a real life."

"You never thought of running off together?" Adán's question held no accusation. Just curiosity.

"Sure. Sometimes. But I was still learning from Teriad." Korin considered his next words, tested them in his mind to be sure they were true. "The magic was more important. I guess that tells you something. I wanted to be a wizard more than I wanted us to have a life together."

Ádan shrugged, a soft motion against Korin's back. "In my experience, love isn't an all-or-nothing thing. Just because you have a duty to something else doesn't mean you didn't love him. We all have responsibilities. Priorities."

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