Chapter 10 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin numbered among Issak's attendants for the next few days as the twins recovered from two possessions in as many spokes. Anda had once said they treated the Embodiments like glass for a whole spoke after Nerr's Day; the other six Embodiments carried their Gods once a year, and while it took a toll on them all it was doubly so for the Obbys. While the other Embodiments might serve twenty or even thirty years, the twins would last perhaps ten. They did little but eat and sleep for the first week after Nerr's Day, regaining their strength.

Temmin told himself concern for Allis made him wait for the others to leave so that he might sneak through the door between the twins' apartments. Allis's pinched and exhausted face blooming again as she slept touched him in a way that Issak's did not.

Chapter 5 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

As Temmin walked to the Keep's mudroom from the stables, he saw Ellika in the gardens, cutting carefully chosen roses in fastidious little snips. She wore a dress of tiny pink and white stripes, with a neckline that would have gained their mother's strong disapproval without a modest lace fichu tucked into it. Atop Ellika's pile of blond hair balanced a wide straw hat covered in a ridiculous mound of silk roses, tied under her chin with trailing pink ribbons.

Chapter 5 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Her lips were so soft; her small hands rested against his chest, and without opening his eyes he kissed her again, groaning into her mouth. The feel of her mouth against his went straight down his body; he pulled her closer, but her back tensed under his touch, and he realized her hands on his chest meekly pressed him away.

Jenks came to his unwilling mind: "Promise me you'll leave Miss Dannikson and the other maids alone." But then, there was Fennows: "You can tumble a maid any time." Fennows was a prat.

And then there was Allis.

Chapter 5 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin realized how close they all sat on the bench. Allis pressed against his right, her hand light on his thigh; Issak boxed him in on his left, one hand soothing up his back before resting on his shoulder. "Just--kiss you?" he squeaked. "Both of you?"

"Have you never kissed a woman?" said Allis.

"Not this sober, no."

"Lesson number one," said Allis, turning his face to hers. She kissed him, soft and slow.

Chapter 5 Part 2 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

The lanky Heir raised several eyebrows as he hurried through the crowd to the cloak room. "Didn't take long for His Highness to sniff out Allis Obby," smirked the Duke of Corland.

"Jealousy is unbecoming, Borney," smiled Lord Litta. "Make an appointment."

"An appointment?" Corland barked with laughter, shaking his chins. "I don't think so. Too complicated, those Lovers. Fennows tells me the Prince is a virgin."

Litta frowned, puckering the saber slash through his left brow. "A virgin, at his age? Is he a lover of men?"

"Damned if I know. Only been here a few days. He'll find his fancy, or have one thrust upon him. Thrust! Ha!"

"I'm not sure it's a joking matter, Corland," said Litta, eyes following Temmin through the ballroom.

"Eh, I'm not much for prophecies. Encouraging Fennows to get the boy laid as quickly as possible, all the same."

Chapter 5 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin let Ellika's voice flow over him as he watched the streets and squares glide past the window. Would Allis be happy to see him? And what about Issak?

What about him, indeed. Temmin hadn't considered men much, apart from observing his older cousins and their Mentors, and some adolescent groping with the stable boys. The former filled him with apprehension more than desire, and the latter seemed like so much play--practice for when they could get girls. It had stopped a couple of years ago, anyway, until Alvo. Thinking of Alvo made his eyes smart.

His mind returned to his destination. It's just a dance, he told himself. Why did it feel like so much more?

Chapter 3 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

"So, in the City two days, eh?" said Fennows, refilling Temmin's glass. "Someone like you, I should like to know how many tasty bits you left behind in Whithorse!"

"Tasty bits?" said Temmin. "The only thing I left behind in Whithorse was my freedom. And my best friend," he added, glowering at the pimply young man across from him.

"You'll have plenty of good hunting here, my friend. You--you can have any girl you please! Good-looking, the Heir--" Fennows burped. "Excuse me. No girl'd turn you down, not even the daughters of the nobility if you wanted 'em. My position gets me plenty, I assure you, but--say, are you sure you can't put in a good word with your father on my behalf? Corland is important to the empire, and Papa pays a good deal of tribute. Past time for the ties between us to get stronger. Matrimonial, I should think."

"I don't think Elly is in the marriage market," said Temmin. "At least she hasn't said."

"She's not the one who decides whether she is or not, now, is she!" said Fennows.

Chapter 2 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin said nothing more and danced automatically, paying no attention to anything but the woman on his arm. When the dance ended, he demanded the next one, the last in the set. "Happily," she said, and he took her up in his arms again, oblivious to the presence at the floor's edge of an outraged man in a blue honor sash who'd sworn he'd already asked the lady for that dance.

Among the onlookers, another young lady peered through her magnifying glass. "Oh dear me," she said. "It seems Neya's Embodiment has made another conquest."

Sedra took a sip of lemonade and laughed. "That's not even worth remarking on, Despie."

"This time it is," said the lady, nodding over Sedra's shoulder. Sedra followed the nod, and choked; Temmin was dancing with Allis Obby, looking for all the world like a gasping fish on the beach, hook still in mouth.


Get an exclusive free ebook from the world of the Intimate History! Exclusive content, contests, new releases and more.