Farewell from the Bookshelf!

Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!


The Winds of Chance by Mel Keegan

Excerpted from The Winds of Chance by Mel Keegan

Soran indulged himself in a chuckle. “You know me?”

“Of course I know you.” The Zeheftiman caught his cloak with one hand, his whipping hair with the other. “I haven’t been on your shores for long, but who wouldn’t know your face in this realm?”

“Then you’ll address me as ‘my lord,’” Soran purred.

The gold eyes widened, and for a long moment the Zehefti boy was mute, too prideful to say it until he saw that others were watching, gaping at his audacity. At last he lowered his head and said it quietly. “My lord. And I ask a second time, what do you want of me?”

The cup in Soran’s hand was empty again. He passed it to the girl who had been singing, and tousled the child’s hair. “Oh, a night’s amusement -- which I imagine would be the same ambition that brought you here.” He looked around for the camp master, beckoned the bronze-skinned little Iliosian, and offered him a coin. “This should buy the use of your pavilion until the dawn light. Done?”

“Done, and you’re being generous.” The man made a grab for the coin, as if he had never seen such easy money. “The name is Keffek, my lord. You want wine and silks, and your own harper? A blind harper from Ilios, my lord prince, who doesn’t speak a word of the common tongues of Vayal and Zeheft, so you can say what you please before him.”

“Why not?” Soran said indulgently. He gestured to the young man he had chosen. “Is this one a freeman, or do I owe you another coin?”

He had taken the boy’s elbow and was about to steer him toward the green and white pavilion, pitched like a lean-to against the high side of the galley. Surprise brought him up short when the Zeheftiman snatched his arm away and stopped dead. Soran turned back with a sharp oath.

“You think I’m a houri, to manhandle me?” The boy’s accent thickened with anger. “You think you can buy me for a coin? And even if you could – which you can’t! – the coin would be mine, not his! No one owns me.”

“Then you have my apologies, freeman,” Soran said, amused now. How typical of the Zehefti. Any other man in the Empire would have been overcome by the flattery and honor of being chosen by a son of Azhtoc. “Do you want the coin?”

The gold eyes sparkled. “I don’t want any coin. You’ve not even asked me if I want to go with you tonight.”

Again, astonishment sent up Soran’s brows. “I’ve no need to ask,” he told the arrogant creature. “I am who I am, and every soul in this camp knows it, including yourself. The seventh son of Mahanmec Azhtoc asks for nothing.”

The young Zeheftiman took a breath. “But I’m a freeman.”

“Who could be a bondsman like that.” Soran’s long fingers snapped sharply. “Now, come with me as a freeman, or as a bondsman -- this much choice is certainly your own!” He glanced at the camp master, who had already beckoned his lieutenants. As Soran watched, a length of line, a collar and a hood were passed into the Iliosian’s waiting hands, and without being ordered, he was reaching for the Zeheftiman’s wrist.

The Zehefti moved fast, snatching his hand away. “By Helios, a freeman has the right to choose,” he rasped. His chest heaved with quick, harsh breaths. He was magnificent with fury. The spirit of his people was honored in every bone and muscle.

“Then choose,” Soran invited with mock patience. “But choose wisely, as the freeman you still are … and remember, I am who I am. You possess a name?”

Anger sharpened his features, gave his face a feline quality. “I’m called Faunos. It’s a common enough name. There must be a thousand called the same between your city and mine.”

“Faunos.” Soran tried the name on his tongue and liked it. “It has an elegant sound, well suited to an arrogant, beautiful creature like yourself.” He looked the young man up and down. “Have you chosen?”

“As if there’s a choice,” Faunos spat.

“Then you’ll be pleased to go ahead of me.” Soran held open the pavilion’s wide flap.

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