Take him from Heaven’s Seat. Bring him to me. We will protect his sacred head. Stryver Zorti’s mission appeared simple. Kidnap the Godchild and deliver him to his master. But with the first meeting of the holy man’s azure gaze, desire surged in him to strip bare the god and touch the man within.
Worshiped all his life, the Godchild is shocked by the stranger who dared lay hands on him, even if to save him from assassins. With a unique name given by his new ally, Blue is freed from the constraints of the holy order for the first time. He revels in the fresh experiences opening to him, then to the passion that sparks between him and the hard-edged, oddly gentle Stryver. But a god does not love, and if discovered, their precarious utopia will shatter, destroying any chance for a future together--that is if the assassins don’t kill them first.
Stryver leaned against the broad trunk, waiting with waning patience. Blue had been fine until the rain. He had melted with the first drops, shivering and gasping until Stryver helped him move under the protection of the oak.
He frowned at Blue where he huddled among the roots’ knobs at the base of the trunk. His knees were drawn up against his chest, his thin arms wrapped around them.
Rain never hurt anyone. Why him? Stryver couldn’t figure it out.
Everything about the holy man confused him—in particular, the reason why someone wanted him dead. He didn’t appear to be a threat to anyone, yet from what Aidal said and what Stryver had witnessed in the cathedral, his life was in imminent danger.
Shaking his head, Stryver dug a cloth-covered bundle from his supply bag. He unrolled half a loaf of bread and a small wedge of cheese. He squatted next to Blue, his own back pressed against the bark. He stared at the holy man, his hand frozen in the act of offering him a share of the bread.
Head lowered, gaze caught on something next to him, Blue held one finger out. A small, black ant crawled onto the tip. He lifted his hand, his gaze centered on the ant.
Uncomfortable with the intensity of Blue’s survey of the insect, Stryver released a low laugh. “You act like you’ve never seen an ant.”
Blue’s gaze stayed riveted on the tiny creature as he murmured, “That is its name?”
Confused even more by the strange question, Stryver shook his head. “Yes. You’ve never seen one?”
“No. It’s different from us. So fragile.”
Disbelief replaced his confusion. “There had to be ants at the monastery.”
“No. Only the monks and myself. No other creatures were ever allowed to enter.”
Stryver looked at the ant. What sort of problems could an ant cause? “Why?”
“No distraction, nothing to influence or interrupt my growth. No threats to my development.”
Amazed at the calm, accepting manner with which Blue repeated this simple mantra, Stryver asked, needing an answer, anything to clear the muddle in his mind, “What is your ability?”
This question brought the azure gaze over to meet his. The gentle patter of the rain striking the dirt road and leaves surrounded them, enfolding them in a secluded place. For the space of a breath, Stryver forgot to look away. Then he blinked, focusing on the ant again, making sure not to stare into the innocent orbs studying him.
“I was instructed not to tell anyone.”
“You can’t tell me your name. Now, it’s your true power. Why the secrets? The last Godchild’s name was proclaimed across the land. People rejoiced in his abilities.”
The finger lowered to the ground. The ant hurried away to resume its work. Blue spoke low, and Stryver had to lean closer to hear. “Some things are best not known.”
Unease rippled along Stryver’s back. So there were reasons why the assassins tried to kill him. “You’re not going to tell me, are you?”
“Even if it means life or death for both of us?”
Fresh, crisp, rain-washed air breezed over Stryver’s face with the gentle shake of Blue’s head.
The answer struck Stryver full force. So the odds for this mission to fail had increased. His mortality loomed in front of him. All because of one small, quiet man. Compassion for him and unease for what the future held washed over Stryver.
When he broke the quiet, his words came out low and gruff. “Here. Eat. You have to keep your strength up.”
Blue’s slender fingers broke off a small hunk of bread. Stryver pulled the cheese apart and gave him the larger half.
As he chewed in the peaceful rain, he tried to find a way to discover the truth about the Godchild. His life depended on knowing it.