Blackfrost (Wytch Kings, Book 2) by Jaye McKenna
Cover Artist: Chinchbug
Release Day: May 3, 2016
Son of a simple blacksmith, Apprentice Wytch Kian has always known that once his apprenticeship is over, he’ll be sent far from home to serve the Wytch Council. Before his training is even complete, Wytch Master Taretha orders him to Blackfrost, an isolated country estate, where he is to serve as personal healer to Prince Ambris of Miraen.
Nothing in Kian’s experience has prepared him for what he finds at Blackfrost, and every day brings new questions. Like why is Prince Ambris being kept prisoner at Blackfrost? Where does Wytch Master Taretha take him every fortnight? And why does the prince return from these excursions suffering from horrific injuries that Kian is expected to heal?
Kian quickly learns that seeking answers to these questions could cost him his life. Worse, he soon finds himself struggling with his growing feelings for Ambris, putting him at odds with both Wytch Master Taretha and the sadistic guard captain, Malik. Can Kian unravel the mystery in time to save Ambris? Or will the prince finally succumb to madness and destroy Blackfrost and everyone in it?
“Ambris! Ambris, wake up, it’s just a dream.”
Ambris latched on to that voice and clung to it, following it out of the nightmare. He found himself in his own bed, shaking and sweaty, the sheets tangled about him.
Kian stood beside the bed, dressed only in a pair of half-laced breeches. His hair was tousled and hung loose below his shoulders, and his dark eyes looked huge and sleepy in the light of the lamp he carried.
“Sorry,” Ambris muttered, unable to take his eyes off of Kian’s bare chest and arms. Those arms were as big around as Ambris’s thighs, and Kian’s chest was broad and sprinkled with dark hair. Ambris couldn’t stop himself from letting his eyes trace the trail of hair down to the unlaced top of the breeches.
“Are you all right?” Kian asked.
Ambris lifted his gaze in time to see the healer run a hand through his hair. “I’m fine,” he murmured, and struggled to sit up. Pain lanced through his upper back, and a curse fell from his lips before he could stop it.
“What is it?” Kian asked quickly. “What’s wrong?”
“My back… I must have wrenched it while I was thrashing about.”
Kian set the lamp on the nightstand. “Turn over and lie on your belly.”
Ambris started to turn, but stopped suddenly, wincing as another hot shard of pain pierced his back.
“Carefully,” Kian amended.
Moving slowly, he managed to complete the maneuver with only minimal discomfort. “Are you going to heal me?”
“I doubt that will be necessary. It’s probably just a cramp. I’ll rub your back for you, though. It will help loosen the muscle and ease the cramp. We’ll see if I can get you relaxed enough that you fall back to sleep.”
The mattress dipped on either side of him as Kian straddled his hips. Ambris liked the feel of the warm weight of him and wished the covers weren’t between them.
“Tell me where it hurts.” Warm hands began probing his back, pressing gently here and there.
“Ah!” Ambris gasped as Kian’s thumb found a tight knot in his upper back. “That’s it, right there.”
“Sorry. Put your head down and try to relax.”
Ambris tried to do as he was told, but the moment Kian’s hands slid beneath his nightshirt and made contact with his bare skin, there was no chance of relaxing. Every nerve in his body came alive, and he squirmed as his shaft hardened uncomfortably beneath him.
Kian pushed Ambris’s nightshirt out of his way and ran those big, warm hands over his back. Ambris shivered in delight at his touch. How would it feel to have those hands wandering elsewhere? Down his sides… across his chest… stroking his buttocks, perhaps even…
He groaned as Kian pressed hard, kneading the tight muscles to help them relax.
“What did you dream?” Kian asked quietly. “Do you remember?”
“No,” Ambris lied. “I just remember being frightened.” Kian would learn about what a miserable failure he was soon enough, and then, Ambris imagined, he would stay as far away as he could, like everyone else did. In the two weeks since he’d arrived, Kian’s presence had brightened the long, lonely days, and Ambris wanted to put off his inevitable withdrawal for as long as possible.
He’d thought Kian would have heard all about him from the staff by now, but Kian was as kind and friendly as he had been those first few days. Ambris did occasionally catch him staring, a puzzled expression drawing his dark brows together, but after that first day, Kian hadn’t asked any more difficult questions, and for that, Ambris was thankful.
It wouldn’t last, of course, but until Kian learned the truth, Ambris could pretend they were friends. It had been a very long time since he’d had anyone he could call a friend.
Kian’s hands moved lower, massaging his lower back, and Ambris couldn’t help but squirm. More aroused than he’d ever been, he kept his burning face buried in the pillow so Kian wouldn’t see. He doubted Kian had any interest in men, and even if he did, a man like Kian could have anyone he wanted; he would never look twice at a pale, scrawny thing like Ambris. He closed his eyes and flexed his hips the tiniest bit, pressing his throbbing shaft into the mattress.
His thoughts flew back ten years, to those first fumbling kisses and touches he’d shared with Wes Atherton. It had been during the Harvest Ball at the Fall Council the year before his Wytch power had destroyed his life. They’d slipped away from the crowds and into a dark hallway, and Wes had knelt before him, undone his breeches, and licked and kissed him until Ambris was nearly screaming with pleasure…
His need was so great, it was like a hollow, burning ache that swallowed everything else. He wanted Kian’s hands on him, wanted Kian’s mouth on him, too. Wanted Kian to touch him and kiss him and…
Ambris came with a whimper that he quickly choked off. His cheeks felt like they were on fire, and he buried his face deeper into the pillow, mortified. What must Kian think of him?
But Kian didn’t seem to have noticed. The gentle rhythm of the massage never faltered as Ambris burned with shame. He squeezed his eyes shut and struggled to control his ragged breathing in an attempt to feign sleep.
Eventually, Kian’s rhythm slowed and he lifted his hands from Ambris’s skin. Ambris almost whimpered in protest before he remembered his shame. He bit back the sound before it could escape and lay still as Kian carefully eased himself off the bed.
The healer pulled Ambris’s nightshirt back down and the covers back up, then quietly tended the fire. Ambris held his breath, waiting for him to leave, but Kian remained in the room for a long while before finally slipping out the door and locking it behind him. Ambris lay awake for the rest of the night, wondering if Kian had sensed his arousal.
And what he must think of him if he had.
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.