Varajas couldn’t deny the effect of Samir’s body pressed against his own. And it had been a long time. A very long time, since he’d been this close, in this way, with anyone.

He wanted Samir. Samir had proven to be every bit as dangerous as Varajas had thought he was going to be. There was no denying the physical attraction. Varajas brushed his hand over the face that would make an angel jealous, sucked one of Samir’s perfect lips between his teeth. Samir usually kept so quiet, so still, so pulled in on himself, like he was afraid to take up space, that it was easy to miss his solid, perfectly-formed body. Unless you were looking. Varajas had been looking.

And then there were all the other things. The softness that came over him whenever he looked at Krys. The sharp look in his eyes, and the mind at work behind them. The way he would be quiet, until he wasn’t, the stubbornness that lurked behind a shy surface.

All of it together and Varajas was lost. He wanted to stand with Samir, to keep him safe, to see that warmth and joy light up Samir’s face when he looked at Varajas. Most of all—Light forgive—he wanted to take Samir to bed and keep him there for days.

If Varajas had actually been the man he was pretending to be, he would have. Days ago, he would have. The trouble was, he wasn’t that man. He wasn’t who Samir thought he was. Anything between them would be a lie. It was already a lie. Apparently there were limits to how far Varajas was willing to take that lie.

All told, though, it was a rather inconvenient flare of ethics. Especially with Samir’s hip rubbing directly against his prick, and Samir’s fingers clenched tight over his ass.

He needed to stop this now. “Samir. Samir. Wait.”

Samir groaned, melting into him even more. “That’s not what I want to hear.”

“I know. But I’m serious. Hold up.”

With clear reluctance, Samir pulled back, allowing a few breaths of space between them. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

The concern in Samir’s voice battered at Varajas’s resolve. The kindness of it, the care. He really was incredibly special.

He deserved someone who could tell him their name.

“I can’t do this.” The words came out more blunt than Varajas had meant them to, but now that he’d made his decision, he didn’t want to draw this out.

“You can’t…what?”

With his hands on Samir’s sides, Varajas gently pushed them the rest of the way apart. “I can’t do this,” he repeated.

Understanding flashed in Samir’s eyes, and then his entire face shuttered. In a neutral voice, he said, “Okay.”

It quite obviously was not okay, but Varajas didn’t know what he could say. He couldn’t tell Samir why, not without betraying the secrets that were the cause of this whole problem. The best he could offer was, “I’m sorry,” which was inadequate and he knew it.

“Yes. Well. I’m sorry too.” All the distance and distrust that had been there that first day together in the woods was back on Samir’s face. “Good-night, then.” Coldly polite.

As he turned to go, Varajas almost said, “Wait,” except that he couldn’t think of what the next words would be. He couldn’t explain himself. He couldn’t tell Samir the truth. There was no honest apology he could offer.

All he could do was stand there and watch Samir go.

A note from Barbara J Webb

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About the author

Barbara J Webb


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