Book 4 of The Golden Key Chronicles
To escape the clutches of the evil Wizard Gaelleod, Rowena and Caedmon flee to the future. With her memories in tact and the help of her dear friends, Rowena is confident they can uncover the clues behind her connection to the key.
Yet Violet’s dire prophecy does more than detail their history. Caedmon’s worst fears are confirmed. Though they must return to his realm, everything he loves stands to be ripped from his grasp.
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The impact of the fall drove the breath from his lungs. Caedmon clamped his jaw shut as a wave of nausea rolled through his system and he waited for his faculties to realign. He blinked, and quickly took stock of their surroundings.
Down the narrow hall at his feet, a dim light cast enough illumination to explain the patterned texture scratching his back. He and his lady lay on a decorative rug, her petite form sprawled along the length of his. The tight grip he held on her waist went slack with relief. Thank the nine she’d landed on top. His weight would have assuredly crushed her, had their positions been reversed.
A frown tightened his brow as he trailed his focus over their bare feet, along their tangled, naked limbs, to the most enchantingly pert bottom he’d ever been blessed to admire. His scowl deepened. Goddesses wept, what had happened to their clothes?
Memories of when his lady had first come through the mirror slammed into place, almost as if they’d been hindered by the ether of worlds crossed. Of course. Nothing of either realm, save her and the key, could bridge the veil…except, based on his own auspicious arrival, those fated souls she chose to traverse with.
To complain of her state of undress held all the appeal of slicing his tongue out with a sharp blade, as did the departure of her luscious breasts warming his chest. Yet the circumstances surrounding such an inconvenience could not be ignored. Until their location and level of safety had been determined, his first task was to ensure their needs were well met.
Her soft moan heated the side of his throat and she shifted against him. He smoothed a hand up her back, her skin a velvet shroud against the rough rasp of his palm, and applied a slight squeeze to her shoulder. “My love—”
Caedmon froze, his senses honed to the fine point of a needle. The hushed demand for silence had come from above and to his right. In whatever place they’d landed, they were not alone.
He strained for any additional sound past the din of his pulse in his ears. Rowena yawned and his teeth clacked together when she ran the delicate tips of her fingers up and down the sides of his swiftly lengthening shaft.
“Well, hello there,” she whispered.
A frenzied thrashing and the ominous crash of shattering glass had him clutching his lady close as he scrambled to his feet. He stood his love on the floor, steadied her shoulders and span as two stinging claps bathed the room in a bright glow.
He raised his hand, fingers splayed to shade his view. The wizard who’d summoned the light sat bolt upright on his sleeping pallet, bare-chested, the blankets lying crumpled about his waist. He locked his wide blue eyes onto Caedmon, his narrow face pale with shock, and the barest hint of recognition tickled the back of Caedmon’s mind.
He squinted. Where had he seen this man’s face before?
The moment stretched as they assessed each other across the room. The steady drip of water from a broken glass upon a small beside table kept time with the weighted beat of Caedmon’s heart.
“Hey.” His lady ran her palm down his arm, the pointed tips of her breasts prodding his back as she stood on tiptoe and peered over his shoulder. “What’s going on?”
The wizard sharply inhaled and slapped a hand to his chest. If possible, his eyes widened farther still. “Rowena?”
Her soft chuckle alleviated a small portion of the tension pervading the room and Caedmon slowly straightened from his defensive stance. This stranger knew her, but in what capacity?
“Hey, Oliver. I see you kept the armoire.” She pointed toward the far wall and Caedmon glanced to his left.
The door hung open, the veil shimmering inside a gilded frame, the glass smooth and intact. Visions of the past slowly coalesced in his memories—an enchanting white sorceress standing opposite the veil and, seated at her side, a false god by the name of…Ah-lee.
Caedmon jerked his head back around and studied the wizard’s closely cropped sandy hair, the patrician nose and high unlined brow. Yes, yes, this man and the one who’d previously accused him of betraying his lady’s trust were one in the same. Not a wizard, a friend. A friend whose rightful name was Oliver. Caedmon relaxed his fisted hands. The Dregg leader had spoken true. The nine goddesses blessed their purpose, and had seen fit to deliver them within the shelter of a close ally.
The rumpled covers on the far side of the bed shifted and a muscled arm stretched high into the air. “What’s with all the noise?”
A form rose to sitting, and Caedmon’s gut clenched when a young man raked a tousled mop of dark hair back from his forehead. He glanced between Oliver and his chamber mate. Goddesses tits, were the two involved in a more intimate way? In his realm, any man who dallied about in such a way would be tried and hanged for crimes against morality.
The dark eyebrows adorning the young man’s face shot into the air and he grasped Oliver’s forearm, surprised delight parting his lips. “You silly, romantic fool. Our anniversary’s not for another two months.”
And evidently, they expected participants in whatever they concocted beneath those satin sheets. Caedmon grabbed a small pillow from a nearby chair and crammed it over his crotch.
“No, Jon.” Oliver rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “Remember I told you about the magic mirror in Rowena’s armoire?”
“Oh, that.” The broad shoulders of the dark-haired man lowered to a more natural position and he wiggled his fingers at Oliver. “I thought you were speaking metaphorically, not literally.”
The two men faced Caedmon and his love, and the one named Jon let his focus linger over Caedmon’s chest, his torso and arms. A small portion of the blankets tented near Jon’s groin. “My God, you were right. He is a sexy English panther.”
Or mayhap they preferred only male collaborators in their wanton romp through debauchery. Caedmon scowled. For all the tits in paradise, what disturbing revelations were next? A growl of warning vibrated the lining of his throat as he slung an arm backward around his love and inched them toward the hall. Friend or foe, these men dared pursue such liberties at their own risk.
Jon clasped his hands before his chest. “Oh, and he purrs!”
Oliver narrowed his eyes at his companion. A tense moment passed between the two men before he swung his head back around and searched Rowena’s face. “My God, doll, you look fabulous.” He crossed his arms. “Now, would you care to tell me where the hell you’ve been?”