Canada, 2165 AD. The Water Wars and a decimated economy have taken their toll. Anyone who doesn’t live in a military-patrolled metropolis lives in a clan. But being in a clan doesn’t mean safety.
And for a Ven like Roan Lee, it doesn’t matter where he lives. Safety is a luxury. So is freedom.
Roan is desperate to escape the governtary’s exploitation and torture. He is nothing to them but 54σK1, an artifact born from a genetic mishap. When the chance to escape arises, he makes a run for it—and encounters the lover from his past, twisting his future into a second chance he never expected.
As leaders of Clan Teach, Jace Ama and his wife, Cayra Diega, have enough difficulty keeping their people safe. When Roan is thrown to their feet as a prisoner, their marriage becomes an additional challenge. Jace still loves Roan, but where does that leave Cayra?
Roan didn’t want to go back to the settlement. They could run away right now and start a new life. Between them, they had enough survival skills to start their own clan—one without rules, where Jace Ama wasn’t the son of a leader and Roan wasn’t the unfortunate bastard of a lineage that never should’ve existed.
Roan Lee bit his bottom lip, watching Jace descend into the ravine. While Jace concentrated, trying not to tumble headlong into the leatherwood bushes and Queen Anne’s lace, Roan’s thoughts strayed to the chestnut-coloured curls at the base of Jace’s neck. Since they’d left the clan settlement, those curls taunted him, flirting with the collar of Jace’s black t-shirt and baiting Roan to touch Jace’s light brown skin. If Roan removed his thin pleather gloves, he could run his fingers through Jace’s hair. He’d done it before, the silky strands divine on his sensitive, fair skin…
“Coming or what?” Jace called from the bottom of the ravine. A playful, boyish grin brightened his daring glance. “Or am I wandering on my own?”
Roan stuck out his tongue before pushing off the edge and stumbling down. With a jolt, he stopped before Jace, pressing their chests together. “Did you want to do it alone?” Roan whispered, his lips close enough to almost taste the sweetened blueberries and salted rabbit on Jace’s breath.
“And miss out on time with you?” Jace rubbed noses with Roan. “Screw that.” He slipped his hand into Roan’s and pulled gently. “Sunset doesn’t last forever. Let’s just enjoy it.”
Because once it’s done, everything comes up pumpkin, and you’re the prince this beast shouldn’t touch, Roan wanted to say.
Instead, he kept his misgivings to himself and followed Jace through the forest. They trod slowly through the darkening shadows cast by the tall red maple and white birch trees. Above, crows cawed and chased after a hawk circling above the green canopy. A warm wind swept around the trees, rustling branches and kicking up fallen leaves.
Despite the beauty and lulling calm, Roan imagined the sound of waves crashing on rocks, wishing he could run with Jace to the poorly patrolled beach in Southampton and walk alongside the lake. It had been the kind of day when Lake Huron would’ve glistened brilliant blues and greens if viewed at the right angle—beauty he wanted to share with Jace every day, not just the days the clan was permitted to fish and gather whatever lay on shore.
“What you thinking?” Jace stopped and faced Roan, his hazel gaze locked onto Roan’s dark red stare. “You’re quiet again. Spill.”
“It’s nothing. Just thinking about you.”
“No, you’re thinking about us.”
“There’s not really a difference.”
“Sure there is,” Jace argued, toying with the longer strands of Roan’s dark blond hair. “When you’re thinking about me, you look like I’m giving you a lap dance. When you think about us, you look like you’re contemplating a kidnapping.”
“Now you’re just making stuff up.”
“Or not. Maybe I’m telling you what I want you to do.”
Roan almost choked. “Jace…”
Unable to form a better response, Roan cupped Jace’s face and touched their foreheads together. They couldn’t do any of what Jace said, even though he was right about all of it. Both sixteen, they were still under the legal supervision of Moham Ama, Jace’s father and leader of Clan Teach. Leaving the clan wasn’t permissible until they were twenty-one.
Although in Jace’s case, there wouldn’t be any leaving, regardless of age or law. He was expected to stay and lead the clan after his father. Jace’s fate was connected to the clan’s, his future mapped out.
What Roan and Jace felt for each other didn’t help. While it wasn’t against clan laws, it wasn’t ideal for Jace’s future. If anything, it was a miracle they’d managed to have a relationship this intimate, comprised of stolen glances and secret moments purchased with lies.
Not to mention the inconvenience of Roan’s genetics, a problem they could never change.
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Archer Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.
Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a same-sex partner and their cat.