Excerpt from To Target the Heart

What It Says On the Tin

I don’t want to give too much of a set-up because you’ll probably skip this anyway, but this piece is likely to be about halfway to two-thirds of the way through and, basically, the scene that drove me to flesh out the story…


The sudden disturbance of his bed partner woke Darshan with a jolt. Not again. He laid still, his heart hammering, as he tried to distinguish Hamish’s figure in the faint, pre-dawn light. Every morning since they left Tirglas, he woke to this hurried attempt at dressing. He’d hoped it would’ve gotten better the further they were from the man’s homeland. It hadn’t.
There he was, busily creeping across the inn floor, gathering his clothes as he went. His hurried panting filled the otherwise silence.
Darshan slid across the mattress, slowly so as to not startle the man. “Hamish?” he whispered.
The silhouette straightened. The ragged panting lessened, but didn’t fade completely. Hamish came closer to sit, rather heavily, on the bed.
His fingers brushed the man’s light undershirt, already damp with sweat. He felt his way up Hamish’s side to wrap his arms around the broad shoulders. “It’s all right,” he mumbled into the man’s neck. “You’re safe. Your family can’t reach you here.”
The body in his grasp shuddered. “Dar…”
“Hush.” He wrapped his legs around Hamish’s waist, holding tight least the hairy beast of a man decided he knew better. “Just be still for a bit. Let your body calm down.”
The muscles under his arms stiffened. “But—”
“I said, hush.” He burrowed his face into the man’s neck, seeking the damp skin beneath the shirt to adorn it in little kisses. “I’m not going anywhere. And no one is coming to spirit you away. I promise.”
His head lifted as Hamish took a deep breath and sighed. “I’m sorry.”
He pressed his lips together, trying not to let his irritation show. It wasn’t Hamish’s fault that waking in a room other than his royal suite set off a once very real fear of being dragged out of bed by his mother’s guards and locked in his chambers. “There is nothing to forgive, my love.” There had to be a way to rid him of this lingering terror. They would find it. Together.
“I didn’t mean to wake you.”
He chuckled. He’d always been a light sleeper. Thank the gods for small mercies. Who knew where Hamish would wind up before common sense got the best of him? “Sleep is overrated.” His gaze drifted to the window. “Besides, an early start will give us a great deal of time on the road. We could reach the palace by evening.”
This bit of news was greeted by silence.
” ‘Mish?”
Again, Hamish sighed. This time, it was weary. “I don’t understand why you’re so eager to reach Minamist. You can’t expect me to believe your father will be pleased.”
No. Not pleased would be an understatement. Darshan patted his husband’s chest. “Let me worry about that.” It was going to take a fair bit of talking to convince his father, Emperor of all Udynea and mighty hammer of the south, that he couldn’t fix what he’d no doubt see as his son’s blatant disregard of his duties with an endless supply of assassins.

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