Wildfire Psi (Guardians of the Pattern, #4) by Jaye McKenna
Published by Mythe Weaver Press
Cover Artist Chinchbug
Wildfire Psi Blurb
Things are finally going well for Luka Valdari. He’s found a home and family at the Institute for Psionic Research, and he has a job he loves. When a training mission takes him back to the streets of downside Riga, he’s got plenty of reason to be uneasy, and when a psionic cry for help leads him to a nightmare from his past, Luka’s ready to bolt.
Things are not going so well for Damon Korsov. He’s got voices in his head, a hole in his memory, and strange dreams that may or may not be glimpses of his past. The one man who might hold the key to Damon’s past is the one man he can never ask. Because somehow, Luka knows Damon, and it’s clear to Damon that Luka hates him.
Unwilling to expose anyone else to the danger Damon represents, Luka volunteers to train him. He wants to hate Damon, but instead finds himself fascinated. Before they get a chance to sort things out between them, the two men are thrown into the middle of a terrifying plot that puts every human life in the galaxy at risk. Can Luka and Damon confront both of their pasts and work together to prevent disaster? Or will all the human worlds burn in the flames of wildfire psi?
Wildfire Psi Excerpt
Luka focused on the large vid-screen opposite the couch he and Kyn were sitting on. From the kitchen, he could hear Damon banging things around; he’d volunteered to finish the supper dishes while Luka and Kyn started their challenge game, but a few minutes ago, the delicious smell of baking cookies had filled the air. It was making Luka’s stomach growl, even though he’d only finished dinner a short time ago.
“Come on, move it,” Kyn said as he waited for Luka’s character to catch up to his. “Those goblins are right on your skinny ass.”
“I’m going as fast as I can,” Luka grumbled. “You’re playing a damn elf. Your base movement’s a hell of a lot higher than mine.”
“Base movement, my ass.” He heard the grin in Kyn’s voice, but dared not tear his eyes from the screen to return it. “You could move just as fast if you weren’t carrying so much shit. We’re going to lose this thing because you have to keep stopping to pick up every shiny piece of crap you come across.”
“If I didn’t, we’d be totally out of healing potions by now,” Luka said. “See if I share when those goblin archers turn your ass into a pincushion.”
“If they do, it’ll be your fault for slowing me down. Who the hell needs five flaming swords?”
“Hey, those suckers are worth a thousand gold each.”
“Not if you’re dead,” Kyn muttered.
“Um… Kyn? Luka? I made cookies. If… if you want some.”
Luka glanced up to see Damon standing by the couch, a plate piled high with cookies in his hand.
“Thanks, Damon.” Kyn shot Luka an unreadable look as he paused the game.
Damon handed him the plate and turned back to the kitchen. Kyn offered it to Luka first. It was piled high with chocolate chip cookies, and they were still warm, the chocolate all melted and gooey, just the way Luka liked them. He couldn’t resist. He took one and bit into it, closing his eyes in bliss as the rich, sweet flavor of the chocolate rolled over his tongue.
“Oh, God… these are fantastic…”
“Here, I got you some milk, too.”
Luka opened his eyes to see Damon standing before him again, offering him a glass of cold milk. How the hell had he known to do that? “Um… thanks, man.” He accepted the glass and took a drink, trying not to think about why Damon had chosen to spend the last half hour making Luka’s favorite food in the entire world.
“Nice job, Damon,” Kyn said around a mouthful. “Anyone would think you’d done this before.”
Damon flushed scarlet. “I… had a little help. I went to visit Carla in the kitchen yesterday after my session with Jaana. She was in the middle of making a batch when I got there, and she let me help, and gave me some pointers.”
“Well, since you did all the work baking them,” Kyn said, “I’ll volunteer for cleanup duty. Have a seat. Maybe get Luka to show you how to play Goblin Alliance.”
A week ago, Luka would have been annoyed at Kyn for trying to push them together. Now, he just handed Damon the controller Kyn had been using. Damon accepted it gingerly and sat down, making sure to keep some space between them.
“Don’t think this gets you out of the challenge,” Luka told Kyn as he walked away. He grabbed another cookie and said to Damon, “We’ll start a new game. You ever play before?”
“No.” Damon examined the controller, frowning. “Grandfather didn’t allow games on his entertainment system. He said they were a waste of time.”
“Oh, man, seriously? You’ve never played anything? You are in for a treat. The VR version’s a hell of a lot better, but Cam won’t put a VR system out here. Says he can’t justify the expense just for me and Kyn. There’s one back on campus, though.”
Damon watched intently as Luka started a new game. “First you gotta build your character,” Luka told him. “After that, it’s easier to show you than tell you, so we’ll go through the tutorial game. That covers pretty much everything you need to know.”
“Including which shiny things to pick up?” Damon asked with a sly grin.
Luka couldn’t help but return the grin. “Nah, that’s entirely a matter of intelligence,” he said loud enough for Kyn to hear. “The smart player picks up as much of the good stuff as he can carry. That way he doesn’t run out of healing potions in the middle of battle.”
“That’s assuming he’s not too loaded down to reach the battle before it’s over,” Kyn shot back.
“Hey, I always get there in plenty of time to loot the dead,” Luka told him. “That’s called strategy, Kyn. You’ll notice it ain’t me that has to be healed every five minutes.”
He took another cookie.
“You really like the cookies?” Damon asked. “You’re not just saying that?”
“Every bit as good as Carla’s,” Luka said. “And that’s a compliment coming from me.” He glanced up and found Damon’s pale grey eyes fixed on him. For one frozen moment, Luka felt almost as if he were drowning. He couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t look away.
Damon looked away first, cheeks flushing as he lowered his eyes to stare at the game controller in his hand. “So, um… what do I do?”
Relieved to have something else to focus on, Luka dove into an explanation of the various character classes, and they were soon playing the first of the tutorials and taking frequent cookie breaks.
Damon’s enthusiasm for the game was contagious, and he caught on quickly. It felt like only minutes had passed before Kyn was saying goodnight and heading up to bed. Knowing how easily sound traveled between the cabin’s floors, Luka shut the game down, promising Damon they could continue tomorrow.
Upstairs, in his own room, he burrowed under the covers and tried to think of something other than Damon’s smiles of delight as he began to understand how the game was played. Tried not to think about how his eyes had sparkled with excitement as he’d fought his first battle and emerged victorious.
In the middle of the night, Luka woke from a dream in which Damon looked at him with eyes on fire, and took him in his arms and stroked him to heaven and back. Blood pounded in his ears and filled his cock. His body was slick with sweat and he wanted with a fierceness he’d never felt before.
He fumbled in the drawer of his nightstand for the little bottle of lube he kept for occasions like this. A few drops in his palm, and he slipped his hand into his shorts and stroked himself.
It felt so damn good he had to bite his lip to keep from crying out. He ran his palm down his cock, slicking himself up, then closed his fingers and thrust up into his hand with a low groan.
Heat and need built until his whole body burned. He bucked his hips, thrusting harder and faster into his closed fist. When he came, it was Damon’s face he saw against the darkness of closed eyes, and Damon’s name he cried into his pillow.
About the Author
Jaye McKenna was born a Brit and was dragged, kicking and screaming, across the Pond at an age when such vehement protest was doomed to be misinterpreted as a “paddy”. She grew up near a sumac forest in Minnesota and spent most of her teen years torturing her parents with her electric guitar and her dark poetry. She was punk before it was cool and a grown-up long before she was ready. Jaye writes fantasy and science fiction stories about hot guys who have the hots for each other. She enjoys making them work darn hard for their happy endings, which might explain why she never gets invited to their parties.