Pride

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"I don't know how I feel about being an international queer icon," Kin says as I carefully paint a blue-purple-pink trio of stripes on his cheek.

I peck a kiss off the tip of my husband's nose. "Tough shit. There's no putting that djinn back in its lamp."

Kintyre threads his fingers into the loops of my jeans and tugs me between his spread thighs. "I love that you still use the phrases from home," he murmurs quietly, moving the kiss to our mouths. He doesn't need to explain what he means by home. We both know he's referring to Hain.

"Gotta keep 'em in my mind," I say, pushing back to finish the last stripe on his cheek. "My publisher would be annoyed if I started to forget 'em."

"Not to mention the fans," another voice cuts in.

My years of being a warrior are far enough behind me that I'm ashamed to admit I'm startled enough to jump, spilling the paints all over my hands. Kin, the smug bastard, just squeezes my arse cheeks and grins over my shoulder at Adam, our liaison from my publishing house.

"Ready, love birds?" he asks, jerking his thumb at the float waiting in the parking lot behind the pile of sound equipment boxes Kin and I had taken advantage of to sit for a moment. On the top of the float, our twins are sitting on a giant rainbow made of flowers.

Ettie has a stuffed unicorn clutched tightly between her knees, and seems determined to keep her ice cream from dripping onto its head. She's so concerned with haphazardly chasing the drops that she's not paying attention to how quickly the rest of it is melting. Terse is licking his ice cream mathematically, keeping what remains corralled in a perfect sphere even as it diminishes. The Writer help me, there is so much of his uncle Forsyth in that boy.

Strange that Forsyth got a miniature version of Kin in Alis, and we got a replica of him in our son. At least we both know better how to handle our children thanks to the many mistakes—and apologies—we've had to make on all sides as adults.

Another liaison from the publisher watches over the twins, holding out futile napkins that neither child can be bothered with.

As Kin stands, and I try to wipe the paint off my hands, he asks: "Does that thing have seat belts?"

Of all the people in the Overrealm to become an insufferable worrywart upon having his newborn children deposited in his arms, I never expected it to be Kintyre Turn, Lord of Lysse, Great Hero of Hain, and royal pain in my arse. But Kin has become a fusspot. He never fussed over Wyndam as much. But then, Wyn was already sixteen when he came to us, trained in the deadly arts of piracy and accustomed to his independence.

"There's a rail," Adam says. "And there will be lots of people from the office there to keep anyone from going overboard."

Kin frowns, but jerks his head in a nod, and we all cross the lot to clamber aboard. The float itself is shaped like a stack of books—one in each color of the rainbow—with an open book as the platform where we're all to stand. Some of the more athletic-looking young folks have staked out perches on the ladder of books, but my family will be staying on the lowest level, where it's safe.

Ruddy hells. Maybe Kin's not the only worrywart fusspot, after all.

"Daddy!" Ettie says, overjoyed and raising her arms to be lifted by Kin as soon as we're aboard. Instead, Kin plucks the cone from her hand and licks all around the bottom to clean it up. Ettie gasps in horror. "Daddy, that's my ice cream!"

"Daddy's tax," Kin says, and hands it back to her.

"No such thing," Terse replies, but he's already handing Kin his cone.

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