...“The monster wants us both,” Liam concluded. “At least that’s what he said, and he hinted about the two of us causing him a lot of trouble, thwarting his goals a long time ago. I—that didn’t make sense to me, but then, well, there’re those stupid dreams. I never used to dream, but lately I’ve had a couple about another time and place, another life maybe. I don’t know what to believe. Still, I’m damn glad you’re back. I guess I let myself get a little spooked.”
Rhys nodded again, giving the other man a wry grin. “Yeah, monsters under the bed and the whole shebang. I didn’t figure our demon would come to Albuquerque after me, but then again, he can probably go anywhere he wants to. I worried, I have to admit that, mostly about you and Billy.”
Liam’s eyes widened for a moment. “Never thought of that, our monster or whatever it is traveling away from around here, but you’re probably right. What are we going to do? Do we start working separately so he can’t get both of us at the same time or do we stick together and try to figure out how to take him down?”
Rhys took a moment to frame his answer. What he was going to suggest could either strengthen their bond of friendship or shatter it beyond repair. He had no way to guess ahead of time. Could Liam possibly be ready to hear and accept what he was about to say? He’d just have to approach it carefully and try to gauge the other man’s response as he went along.
“I’ve had some dreams, too, and my sense is they’re true, real. We did live before. At least one time was in the British Isles a couple of millennia ago. We met, and maybe I saved your life. We became friends, more than friends, much more…”
Liam’s troubled gaze met his, locked in a steady stare. Rhys could read no shock or revulsion in that look, so he went on.
“Somehow that bond gave us the strength to defeat this monster then. You called him the Soul-Eater, told me about how he’d preyed on your people. Then he started to do the same thing with my tribe, while you were there with me. Druid magic, warrior powers and the strength of our love—that’s what we used to bring him down before. If anything will work for us now, it’ll be something close to the same. We just have to remember the spells, the herbs and the ways to invoke the old gods. And we have to be together, totally and completely together. Can we do that?”
Liam answered not in words, but in action. He closed the distance between them and dropped to one knee in front of Rhys where he sat in the wooden chair beside their small kitchen table. Liam rested one hand on Rhys’ left knee and with the other reached out to touch his face. His fingertips brushed Rhys’ cheek and then his palm curved to cup it.
“That’s about all we haven’t shared,” he said finally. “Our lives are as twisted together as one of those Celtic knots. If it’s gonna be okay with you, it’ll be okay with me—whatever we need to do. Hell, I’ve loved you since we were kids. There were times I wanted to be closer, but I didn’t know how to ask or what to do. I wasn’t sure how you’d react, so I never tried.”
Rhys turned his head until his lips pressed into Liam’s curving hand. “I’ve always loved you, too, in every way I possibly could. I wanted so much more than just our friendship, but… We’ll both be learning and exploring, but I think it’ll be all right.”
He stood then and put his arm around Liam as the other man also rose. “For now, for tonight, let’s just share a bed. I mean to sleep, nothing more. I’m too tired to do anything else and you look pretty beat, too, but I think we’ll both sleep better if we know the other is close.”
He was surprised how easily it went, how comfortable they were as they both undressed and crawled into the queen-sized bed in Liam’s room. Years ago, when they were both young and innocent, they’d slept together a few times, but all too soon innocence faded and inhibitions overcame the bond, at least to some degree. Touching became verboten, sissy and suspect. Rhys recognized suddenly how much he’d missed it. No, not missed, but needed...