Title: Bad Magic
Author: Evelyn Elliott
Series: Spell Slave #1
Can be read as a standalone
Release Date: October 28th 2015
Genre: Bisexual, Fantasy, M/M Romance
Morality is relative. At least that’s what young sorcerer Regis Teller convinces himself. He’s done what he must to survive: working for a witch since he was nine, helping her throw the kingdom into anarchy, and taking his only comfort in her mysterious son, Crow. And soon, Regis is going to commit his first murder.
A do-gooder named Jonathan White has information the witch needs, and it’s Regis’s job to get that information and slit Jonathan’s throat. But then Regis actually meets Jonathan. And Jonathan is perfect—a hero with a passion for justice and little regard for civility.
Lucky for Regis, Jonathan has a weakness for attractive men. Lucky for Jonathan, Regis is fast developing a conscience and a heart. But for Regis, keeping both of them alive at their adventure’s end means breaking a magical oath and surviving his ruthless boss—all without telling Jonathan the truth. Falling in love is never easy, especially when everyone involved is lying through their teeth.
Regis flopped onto the floor. He crawled to Jonathan and lay on his chest, reassuring himself with the rapid sound of his heartbeat. “We almost died!” Regis gasped.
“Don’t be silly. Worse things happen to me all the time.”
“Yes, because—” Because Jonathan was an idiot who had devoted his life to diving headfirst into danger. “I don’t have the energy to berate you right now,” Regis said.
“That’s a first.”
It was nice, lying on Jonathan. Like lying on a large, soft, warm… body. Hm. He supposed there was nothing quite like lying on a man, except, well, lying on a different man.
In the dark, he explored Jonathan’s body, checking for injury. His fingers roamed, tracing cuts. All of Jonathan’s wounds seemed small, but there were so many. The groping became mutual fast. Jonathan’s hands slid under Regis’s clothes and up his chest, frantically pressing. Hot breath tickled Regis’s ear. “We’re alive,” Jonathan said. “We’re alive.”
“Worse things happen to you all the time, you said.”
“I lied. The last time I was that frightened, you were in the arms of a man threatening to throw you out a window.” Regis’s hand found Jonathan’s hip. Then a grip like iron seized his wrist. Jonathan’s fingers fit all the way around. Outside, lightning flashed, illuminating them for only a moment. Without warning, Jonathan let go, then flattened his back against the opposite wall.
For all their closeness, the inches of air between them felt like a solid wall. Jonathan took off his pack, then set it between them, along with his sword belt. A barrier. Leaning over it would be clumsy. The gesture was so casual it had to be deliberate. “I have enough power left to heal you,” Regis said.
“Can you fix me from over there?”
“No. I need to touch—”
“No,” Jonathan said.
“Are you still…?”
“Under the influence,” Regis said.
Jonathan’s voice could have cut glass. “No.”
“That was quick.”
“Near-death experiences sober a man,” Jonathan said. He was still breathing hard. Regis shifted farther away, holding up his palms. He’d learned his lesson about unwanted physical contact. Jonathan watched him intently, like a feral animal watching a hunter.
“Fine,” Jonathan eventually forced out. “Just be quick, please.”
Regis shifted to close the space between them. Then with clinical hands, he picked the blood-stuck cloth from Jonathan’s chest. He held his palms a bare inch from Jonathan’s skin and did not touch.
“I think,” he said, “I can do it like this.”
Jonathan swallowed visibly.
Silver sparks knitted the space between his hands and Jonathan’s torso. His magic was nearly gone, and the empty feeling made him light-headed. A long gash held a broken thorn, but sealed easily. A bite, already swelling, was more difficult.
Jonathan had never been an easy man to read. He sat with nary a twitch. Now, Regis had learned to pick up on subtle cues: the flicker of a muscle beneath his eye, his clenched hands, the shortness yet shallowness of his breath, the tilt of his head away. Regis could sense the tension in Jonathan’s body, the desire threatening to overboil. He could feel it in himself as well.
At Jonathan’s hips, he paused. A long gash cut across one chiseled hipbone; it had torn the hem of his pants. Regis slid down between Jonathan’s legs, and unthinkingly, he rested his fingers on the split skin.
“Please hurry up,” Jonathan said.
“Don’t want me touching you?”
Jonathan laughed hoarsely. “The opposite. I think I like it too much.”
“Rushed magic leads to dead patients. Take it easy.” Jonathan didn’t relax, and the following silence became oppressive. “You don’t have to be uncomfortable. I’m not going to do anything.”
Jonathan let out a breath of laughter. “You?”
“I’m sorry,” Regis said. “For what I did when the fairies left us alone, I mean.”
“You weren’t yourself. You only came on to me because you were drugged.”
It would be so easy to tell the truth. Three little words: I want you. Regis had never been very good at telling the truth, and he suspected Jonathan wasn’t, either. Good. Maybe they could stay away from each other. “All I ever do is use you,” he said. “Back with those slavers, you saved my life, and I never even thanked you. I’m a complete ass to you—”
“Are you kidding?” Jonathan’s voice was disbelieving. “You’re here in the middle of this hellhole to rescue a woman you’ve never met. You saved my life just a few minutes ago, Regis. You’re easily the most useful traveling companion I’ve ever had. The last guy I shared a bedroll with was a filthy coward.”
“I’m a filthy coward,” Regis said.
“Being afraid of danger doesn’t make you a coward. Fear is rational. Bravery is when you face that fear and do what needs to be done. You hate danger, you’re out of your element, you have no idea what you’re doing… and yet here you are, rescuing me. I like that. It says a lot about you. You could have stayed in the fairy glade, Regis. You would have enjoyed yourself with them. Three beautiful women? A lot of men would kill for that.”
Regis swallowed back nausea and bile. “You would have been ra—” He couldn’t say it. “You would have had less fun.”
“Where I’m from, a lot of people would consider that my fault. They’d call me perverse, and they’d leave me. You didn’t. You might be the most asinine man in Tyria, but in the end, you’re willing to do what’s right. And I appreciate that. So sure, you don’t smile as much as you should. So you think insulting people is funny. So you need a haircut and your shirts never fit you right. Who cares?” Jonathan turned his head away. “I enjoy your company.”
Regis moved down lower. He skipped Jonathan’s upper thighs, because he wasn’t sure he was ready for that kind of intimacy yet. The gashes on Jonathan’s feet were bad. “You enjoy Chartreuse’s company. You set low standards, my friend.”
“I don’t,” Jonathan said. “I can’t abide people who are too friendly. You, you’re never afraid to let people know what you think. I wish I were like you. I’m tired of guessing and worrying and trying to be polite. You’re just so… honest.”
Regis stopped. A physical pain tightened his throat, and he felt sick to his stomach. “Right.” He prayed Jonathan couldn’t see his expression.
Jonathan’s feet were too bloody to tell where the thorns were. If Regis healed the cuts without removing the splinters, the wounds would fester. He used a bit of torn cloth to dab away the red. “You shouldn’t be involved in this mess. It has nothing to do with you. What’ve you got against Belcane? What if she has you killed?”
Jonathan shifted uncomfortably, like he’d touched a nerve. “I don’t suppose I care.”
For a moment, the cave became still and silent. Only the rain outside could be heard.
“I’m sorry,” Jonathan said. “Was that wrong? I shouldn’t have said… sorry.”
“You’re trying to kill yourself,” Regis said. “That’s what this is about?”
“Well, no. It’s just that I suppose I wouldn’t mind dying. Who would even notice? I cut myself from my entire family in order to become a bum in another kingdom. I have no one. I chose that, and I’m a fool. I was gone for ten years, and no one cared but Chartreuse. No one would mourn me if I died.”
“I’ll mourn you,” said Regis.
“I don’t want you to mourn me.”
“I don’t want to mourn you, either.”
Once he was done removing the thorns, he healed the gashes. Regis leaned back. Everything above waist was fixed. All that left was Jonathan’s legs. Torn cloth and blood marked the cuts, but he didn’t trust Jonathan to tell him where the bruises lay. “Can I?” he asked, hovering his hands over Jonathan’s legs. Jonathan gave a tight nod. Regis began to feel him down. Jonathan groaned when pressure was applied to his thigh.
They looked at each other, vague shapes in the darkness. A silent negotiation took place. Finally, Jonathan eased himself farther down, then canted his hips, widening his legs. Regis put his hand on Jonathan’s inner thigh. The last of his magic drained out of him. Sparks flickered, then faded.
Jonathan let out a shaky breath. “Good, that was the last one.” Regis didn’t reply. He slid his hand from Jonathan’s leg to his stomach muscles, tracing carved indentations. Jonathan made a strangled noise as if he’d been struck. Then a rough “Oh hell.”
He’d crossed a line. He knew it. He had only meant to heal Jonathan. If he said it was an accident—if he backed away quickly—he could stop this. “The aphrodisiac wore off, you said.”
“It did,” Jonathan said in a strained voice. “Ancestors give me strength. You’re a cruel man, Regis Teller.”
“Not as cruel as I want to be.”
Another shaky breath. “I think I’m misinterpreting things.” A brief moment of reflection. “Well. Feel free to yell at me again.” And then he closed the last inch of space between them.
He kissed Regis. Clumsily at first, because it was hard to tell where their mouths were. An unmoving touch of lips, not pressing farther or drawing away. Just waiting.
About the Author
At first glance, Evelyn Elliott seems like a perfectly normal person. Do not be deceived.
Her hobbies include watching grisly horror movies, torturing her characters, and tending to her flower garden. She enjoys long walks on the beach and collecting the souls of small children. Whenever she reads a book, she always roots for the villain.
Avoid her at all costs. Certainly do not find her on facebook or befriend her online. You have better things to do.
Tour Dates & Stops:
8-Apr: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, BFD Book Blog
11-Apr: Nephy Hart, MM Good Book Reviews
12-Apr: Havan Fellows
13-Apr: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Novel Approach
14-Apr: V’s Reads, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance
15-Apr: A.M. Leibowitz
18-Apr: Bayou Book Junkie, Alpha Book Club
19-Apr: Kirsty Loves Books
20-Apr: Prism Book Alliance, My Fiction Nook
21-Apr: Oh My Shelves