Jeth stood out in the freezing wind and snow, his cloak flapping against his legs. He hunched his shoulders and watched his men eat and drink next to fires that the winds threatened to blow out. Each man sat on long logs and tried to make the best of what they had.
He loved all of them.
He never thought he would. He had hated mostly everyone as a child, and when he entered the army, everyone was a competitor. But now, as lord of these men, their lives in his hands, he loved them.
But one most of all.
He could always pick Kodie out of a crowd, whether it be fifty or one thousand. His eyes would find Kodie in a split second, never once missing. And there he was, sitting with the soldiers, laughing and drinking.
Jeth knew the laughter would be forced, however. He knew Kodie. Or thought he did.
It was only a few hours after Kodie had admitted his feelings. Jeth still didn't know how to swallow that information. Kodie wanted him? The knowledge of that still shocked him to the bone. It had made Jeth think of all the time they had spent together. All the years of being friends.
Twenty years of friendship, and Kodie had hidden his infatuation. How? Why?
And why could Jeth not get his friend's face from his mind? The way he smelled, the way he felt, his voice. By the gods, it was as if Kodie confessing his feelings had opened up something locked in Jeth's heart.
He had never seen Kodie as a lover. They had been devoted companions, and he thought Kodie a beautiful specimen of masculine strength and wit, but...desire? Not until today.
Now he could think of nothing else. That brief instant Kodie had been under him, his blood roaring and his anger still too close to the surface, Jeth had the image of taking Kodie violently right there. If that scout had not come in, he knew he would have done it.
It scared him. He would cut off his right arm before harming Kodie in any way. And if Kodie wasn't willing, then it would not happen. Period.
Jeth stomped his feet slightly, trying to get some warmth to them. He didn't hate the cold and the snow so much. One side of his bloodline thrived on snow and the mountain terrain. Though he wasn't related to ice giants, his bloodline linking him to earth giants, he knew they still thrived in mountainous areas. He knew Kodie hated it.
There it was again. Kodie. Kodie. Kodie.
Scowling at himself, Jeth pulled at his beard. He'd had lovers, but not for very long, Kodie had been right about that. They had been mostly nightly or weekly distractions. And now that he thought back, Kodie had always seemed a little distant and irritable every time he got a new one. But Jeth just put that down to his friend not getting any.
In fact, now that he thought about it, he could never remember Kodie going to bed with anyone, man or woman.
He looked at his friend again. Kodie was more beautiful than handsome. He had an angelic face with intense blue eyes that had always captured Jeth's soul. Kodie's facial features were delicate and in stark contrast to the hard muscle of his body. Jeth would often find himself gaining pleasure from just looking at Kodie.
Kodie could have anyone he wanted. And apparently, through some grace of the gods, he wanted Jeth. Amazing. And not a little flattering. Having such an...undesirable bloodline, Jeth was used to getting looks of disgust or fear or hatred. His lovers were the few exceptions. And most of them had been paid whores.
And then there was Kodie. A man in a category all his own. Never one to judge, assume or hate, he was the greatest blessing in Jeth's life. And why hadn't Jeth noticed it before? Well, perhaps he had known it, but he had never acknowledged it. Now Jeth wanted to show Kodie just how special he was.
In a very physical way that would get them both sweaty and breathless.