Happy Valentine’s Day to all, from the Fae and humans of the Demesne of Purgatory. *winks* May your celebrations be as joyous as the boys’!
Josh tugged at the door, making sure it was locked. No sense staying open late tonight—he’d decided that last night, watching the snow fall and listening to the wind. Which hadn’t a bad thing to do while wrapped up in Conall, but he’d realized that no one with any sense was going to be going anywhere for a while. He’d only had one client booked for tonight, anyway, and the guy was just as happy to cancel.
He could see the dim light from the window of Big Boy Massage, next door. They were still open, and no doubt catering to the lonely hearts – and other parts – of those Washingtonians not lucky enough to have a date for Valentine’s Day. He was pretty sure, however, that the owner was already home, observing the holiday with Garrett.
And soon he’d be home himself. He had to step over a pile of snow to get to the door leading up to the apartments over Purgatory, but it was still a damn short commute. He took the stairs two at a time, grinning. All thoughts of ice and snow were soon going to vanish.
He knocked to deactivate the ward Conall had put on the door, and opened the door. A wave of incredible, amazing, mouth-watering scent instantly washed over him, leaving him dizzy and remembering he hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
What the hell? Conall didn’t cook, though he was a great one for ordering out. But this was no take-out smell.
Conall appeared in the kitchen doorway, a pink ruffled apron over his usual jeans. “You’re a little early, dar’cion.” His smile, as always, left Josh feeling weak in the knees. “But that’s all right, dinner is too.”
Bemused, Josh let Conall lead him to their tiny dining table and pull out a chair. A wave of the mage’s hand lit candles, and another dimmed the lights.
“D’orant, you didn’t have to go to all this trouble!” He craned his neck, trying in vain to see into the kitchen. “How did you find a place that would deliver today? In all this snow?”
“Bite your tongue. Or better yet, let me. But not until you’ve had dinner.” Conall bent and brushed a kiss across Josh’s cheek, then disappeared into the kitchen before Josh could so much as take his hand to pull him in for more.
Josh glanced around, as clanking sounds came from the kitchen. “There’s only one place set.”
“Nothing gets by you.” Light Fae laughter floated in from the kitchen, followed by the laughing Fae, carrying a small plate. He set it down in front of Josh, with a flourish.
Josh stared down at three scallops, seared golden on their tops, on a bed of saffron rice, drizzled with a rich golden sauce and garnished with what looked like mint leaves. “You… made this?”
“I did. And you might want to start eating, it’s much better hot.”
Conall vanished back into the kitchen, and Josh did as he was told, groaning as the sweet scallop melted in his mouth. My mouth has died and gone to Heaven.
He heard chopping sounds coming from the kitchen as he polished the plate with the last of the rice. This time when Conall emerged, he was carrying a salad plate, piled with arugula and green-skinned apples and fennel, sprinkled with walnuts and smelling something like… gin? Crushed juniper berries, good Lord. “Conall…”
This time a hand rested on the back of his neck as Conall set the salad plate down, and Josh’s skin tingled at the touch. As always. His hand was unsteady as he picked up the second fork. “Where in God’s name did you get juniper berries in a blizzard?”
Again the light laughter. “I cheated a little and made them myself. Took a few tries to get the flavor right.”
Josh couldn’t keep back his own laughter, at the thought of the mightiest mage in two worlds, standing at the kitchen counter, creating strange-tasting juniper berries out of nothing. Obedient to Conall’s gesture, he forked a bite of the salad and fought to keep his eyes from rolling back in his head.
Conall smacked his forehead with the heel of his hand. “I can’t believe I forgot the wine.” Once again he hurried into the kitchen; the refrigerator door opened and closed, glass clinked, and he re-emerged with a bottle of white wine – and, Josh noted with relief, two glasses.
“I have no idea if this even goes with seafood.” Conall set the glasses down and concentrated until the cork popped free. “I know nothing about wine. Human wine, anyway. I could tell you a thing or two about Fae vintages—“
“Conall.” Josh caught at his partner’s wrist, his hand making it look slight. “What else are you dishing up tonight?”
The red-blond Fae colored slightly. “Lobster Newburg, when you’re done with the salad. Dessert’s not really fancy, it’s tiramisu—“
“My favorite.” Josh set the fork down firmly and looked up into Conall’s bright green eyes. “D’orant, where did you learn… all this?”
Conall worried his lip between his teeth for a second before answering. “In the Realm. Cooking, there, is something Fae usually do by hand only when there are a lot of mouths to be fed. A feast, or the dining room in a public house. It’s easier to do it with magick, and the results are limited only by a Fae’s imagination.”
Josh detected a quiver in Conall’s voice. “Should I not have asked?”
“No, no, it’s all right.” Conall’s slender fingers played with one of the ruffles on his apron. “I never dared to cook that way.”
Of course not. Conall’s channeling ability was so strong, the slightest use of it in the realm had sucked the life from everything around him.
“So…” Conall sighed. “I got very, very good at this kind of cooking. And I haven’t done it since I came here because…” He swallowed hard. “It reminds me of how alone I was, for so long.”
“Oh, God.” Josh pushed back from the table just enough to let him draw Conall onto his lap. “Baby, you didn’t have to do this for me.” He placed a kiss in the shell of his partner’s ear. He’d felt funny calling Conall ‘baby’ at first. But the Fae enjoyed it, so Josh had gotten over it.
“Yes, I did. Today, I had to.”
“Why today? Just because it’s Valentine’s Day?”
Conall took such a long time to answer that Josh started to wonder if he was going to. And when he finally spoke, his voice was soft, unsteady. “Cuinn calls me a horndog, when he’s not calling me Twinklebritches. And he’s right. But you and I know why he’s right.”
“So does Cuinn,” Josh growled. The other Fae knew perfectly well that before being exiled to the human world, Conall had never dared let another Fae touch him for pleasure, or for love, for fear of what his unleashed, unchecked magick might do. Not in three hundred years. It made Josh’s heart hurt, just thinking about it.
Conall nodded. “I’m not apologizing for it. But it seems to me…” Another long pause. “It seems to me that every time I try to tell you, or show you, how much I love you, the horndog comes out, and it ends up more like’ ‘I lust you.’”
The Fae turned, an effervescent tear making its way down his cheek before evaporating. “I thought maybe that if I tried to say it this way, it would come out the way I wanted it to for once.”
Josh closed his arms around Conall, drawing his lover into a tight embrace. “Oh, baby, oh love.” He whispered, murmured, kissing Conall’s ear. “D’orant.” ‘Impossible’… hell yes, it was impossible that he held a male like this in his arms. “You say it every time you look at me. Every time you touch me. Every time you walk in my dreams and I wake up wrapped around you.”
Conall pulled back a little, and looked into Josh’s eyes, as if trying to read his mind. “I want to say it this way, too.” Slowly, he smiled, the smile that never failed to make Josh’s heart race. “I love you. And I’m going to feed you until you can’t move, and then I’m going to have my way with you.”
“It’ll be my way, too, baby. I promise you that.”