If you read the novella Canes and Scales, you only experienced part of the romance. Canes and Scales: the Novelsweeps the reader further into Linden and Alasdaire’s spellbinding relationship. Except for their love, nothing is as it seems.
This excerpt takes place after Prince Linden and elven slave Alasdaire are starting to develop feelings for each other that neither one wants to admit.
Serpent Prince Linden of Ardaul is determined to drag his barbaric, power-hungry country into the modern age by encouraging learning, advances in the sciences, and tolerance. His insane brother Edward, the King, delights in making him pay for his efforts.
Long years of watching his back, fighting wars, and solving conflicts started by his cruel brother have taken a toll on Linden’s body and mind, and he needs a respite. When Linden meets an alluring young bed slave named Alasdaire, his weary heart responds. Alasdaire is an exotic mix of southern royal Totandian elf and human, and, although he’s also suffered hardship most of his life, his loving personality captivates the Prince.
Despite their differences, Alasdaire, canes—and Linden, scales—unite in body and soul, but their romance is nearly shattered by betrayal. When Linden becomes King, magical assassins, treachery, and threats plague them. They narrowly escape death more than once. The lovers must discover who wants them dead and more importantly, where they can turn for aid. Neither enemies nor allies are what they seem. Only time will tell who means to harm Linden and Alasdaire—the elves, the imprisoned Edward, or something even deadlier—and time is one thing they don’t have.
We stepped into the room. Heads turned toward us. The admiring glances cast my way made me feel secure in my fashion choices. I inhaled a deep breath and began greeting the swarm. I don’t know how the numerous nobles expected me to remember their names. I hadn’t seen many of them in years. Summerlands nobles enjoyed staying close to home. I impressed myself with how I spun their names off my tongue.
I maneuvered toward the buffet table. What a sumptuous display, varied in colors and textures. Wait… no. Oh no. I choked on a sip of wine. I wanted to strangle Keith. A miniature version of me in uniform, my arms raised to the sky in triumph, fouled the table’s center. I never, ever wanted to see myself crafted from rose petals, candied fruit, and other edible treats.
I wanted to eat my head to spare the embarrassment.
“Cousin!” Keith slapped my back. “The likeness is remarkable, eh? You look heroic yet cranky.”
I narrowed my eyelids in scolding. “I thought you liked me, Cuz.”
As he huffed with mock insult, Keith held up his hands. “I do love you, Cousin. Be fair, I did spring for top-grade peach-hued rose petals instead of merely using a peeled potato for your royal head.”
“I must admit using black licorice for my boots is hilarious.”
“A lovely touch, eh?”
We smacked each other’s shoulders as we laughed.
“You have some nerve, slave!” An angry male voice cut through our laughter.
The nobles surrounding me turned as one toward the disruption. They sensed something to slake their thirst for drama.
“Please, Baron, I am with the prince!”
Powers! How had Alasdaire ended up parted from me? I thought he still hovered behind me. The nobles must have cut him off from me.
Keith gripped my arm. I shrugged him off, handing him my wineglass. I pushed my way toward Alasdaire. He was trying to back away from a tall dark-haired noble. The noble grabbed Alasdaire’s wrist.
“Baron, please let me go!”
Alasdaire tried to yank away from the noble’s grip. I focused on the hairy hand restraining Alasdaire’s left wrist. When he reached up to grip Alasdaire’s chin, I almost succumbed to my rage. Instead, I inhaled a deep breath.
I reached his side. “Alasdaire, are you all right?”
He radiated shame-tinged anxiety. I automatically put my arm around his shoulder.
A tall, swarthy noble I did not recognize scowled before he realized who stood before him. “My Prince!” He released Alasdaire and quickly bowed, red-faced and nervous. “So good to see you again.”
I flicked through names. Ah, Baron Otto from Mineia in the Western Summerlands stood before me, “Baron. Is there a problem here?”
He bowed again. “Not at all. I enjoyed this fair slave last summer. I merely wanted to experience him again.”
“I am sorry, but as he said, he is with me.”
“My apologies, Prince Linden.”
The Baron bowed and left the ballroom. What a wise man. My heart slowed down. If he had remained near me, I feared I would punch the Baron until I felt better. What a sure way to spoil the evening.
Low murmuring rippled through the watching nobles. I suspect I had disappointed them by not providing a more violent display of temper.
Alasdaire stood staring at the floor, trembling with self-control. I thought he was willing himself to vanish beneath the floorboards. My lingering rage quickly turned into concern. I released his shoulder to touch his cheek canes. “Alasdaire?”
He stared up at me. His slightly wild expression worried me. “My Prince, let me return to the suite.” His harsh whisper caught in his throat. “Forgive me. I can’t remain down here. They stare at me like hungry dogs.”
At least he kept his voice low. I massaged his upper arms. “Of course. I will come with you.”
The wildness faded from his stare. He blinked with surprise. “Truly?”
I raised my hand. “Truly.” I gently gripped his elbow and guided him toward the side door. All eyes watched us.
I turned to wave. “Farewell, everyone. I fear I must retire for the evening. Keith, please send up treats and wine to us.”
As we walked along the long upper corridor, I glanced down to smile at Alasdaire. His reverent expression made me feel like a true prince riding up on a white charger to save the day. I enjoyed the emotion.
Too bad I had never eaten my rose-petal head.
Once we escaped to my suite, my guards admitted servers. To my delight, one large silver tray supported my edible body. Dear Keith knew how much I wanted to destroy the thing.
Alasdaire and I laughed until we almost cried. The servers stared at us with great confusion. After they departed, Alasdaire examined my fruit-and-petal faux body. “They performed an excellent job making you appear heroic.” He tickled his finger against the figure’s crotch. “Mmm, I want to eat this part. I know the real thing tastes wonderful.” He fluttered his lashes in sultry tease.
Seeing him act playful relieved me. To celebrate, I reached over and plucked off my head. Alasdaire gasped before he laughed along with me. I bit into my hair, revealing a fluffy cream filling. The pastry chef had turned me into a cream puff. I laughed harder.
Alasdaire dipped his finger into the neck. “How suitable—heroic on the outside, sweet on the inside.”
“Watch out, the chef might have laced the cream with Uurkian pepper sauce. That’s more accurate to my personality.”
“Nonsense.” He seduced me by licking more cream from his finger.
I popped the remainder of my head into my mouth. A mix of sweetness, floral accents, and mint met my tongue. I tasted lovely. “Let’s save dessert for last.”
Who is S.A. Garcia?
Forty years ago, I started writing gay male romance. Writing about men inserting tab A into slot B didn’t seem the norm for a suburban female teenager. Reading Gordon Merrick, John Rechy, and Larry Kramer helped me fill in the serious informational gaps. Yes, I read those informative books in my bedroom. No wonder.
As the years progressed, I continued writing gay male romance, although the stories progressed from scribbles in notebooks to hiding on the computer. I wrote fantasies, contemporaries, bodice rippers—my muse Diva Faboo refused to let this old lesbian write a F/F romance. Go figure. Someday!
I’m glad I kept the writing faith. I never thought anyone would published my novels. Imagine, my comedy An Elf for All Centuries (formerly from Silver Publishing; now in talks for a new home) was in the running for a few awards. What a thrill!
My life has turned into a fun quandary of too many stories hindered by my slow, two-fingered typing skills. I blunder onward into more trauma, drama, and humor. I just hope I can keep up with sexy men who insist on running off with the plots!
Along with Canes and Scales: the Novel, Dreamspinner is also home to my novellas, assorted short stories, short stand-alones and the M/M romdramedys (romance/ drama comedy) Cupid Knows Best and The Gospel According to Cher.
Love in the Shadows, my first attempt at mixing M/M historic and contemporary with a touch of the supernatural, is at MLR Press.
Facebook: S.A. Garcia