The East Terrace had clear views of the city and the hills in the distance, and the setting sun bathed the world in hues of red, purple, and orange. “One of the best views from the palace,” Ollie said. “Guests aren’t usually allowed here.”
Kai glanced back to the door. “Will we get in trouble?”
“No, Menish is a personal friend. He won’t mind.”
“Must be good to have a friend who rules the city.”
Ollie chuckled. “We went to school together. I often have to remind myself that he’s the sultan and not the kid who helped me toilet paper the housemaster’s study windows.”
“Very good friends.”
Ollie didn’t think Kai needed to know just how good a friend Menish had been at one point, although what they had enjoyed was nothing more serious than teenage exploration. “Put it this way: he’d have no problem with me showing you this terrace.”
“The sunset is quite beautiful,” Kai said, turning to face it, and Ollie thought Kai wanted to steer the conversation away from Menish.
“Yes. It changes through the seasons, but I think this is my favorite time of year.”
“Then I am fortunate we chose this time to visit and a place on the mission became available.”
Kai’s choice of word in calling his visit a mission was a little strange, but Ollie thought better of mentioning anything. “Oh, you were. The festival to celebrate the end of harvest starts in a few days, and the city is awash with stalls and street entertainment.”
Kai turned back to him, cocked his head to one side, and smiled. “Perhaps you would agree to be my guide for that as well?”
The hopeful expression and the slight smile made Ollie swallow thickly as he stared into Kai’s dark brown eyes in the failing light. Kai bit his bottom lip and tilted his head back a little to look Ollie in the eye, making Ollie lick his own lips involuntarily. His hand twitched to cup Kai’s cheek and rub his thumb across his cheekbone to prove his hypothesis that Kai’s skin would be soft and warm to the touch.
The little voice in the back of his head returned, and it bluntly reminded Ollie he wasn’t a single man. The pang of guilt made him turn away, and he saw a confused look on Kai’s face. Not only was he in danger of betraying Rica, but he was also leading Kai along on a dance that Kai didn’t know Ollie already had a partner for.
He stepped away, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, Kai. I can’t do this. While I can’t deny you have caught my eye like no one else, I am not the type of man to be unfaithful.” There, he’d said it, made it clear he was attached, and Kai’s expression morphed first to confusion and then into hurt. “I don’t understand.”
“I have a boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend?” asked Kai weakly.
“His name is Rica. He’s away at sea.” The devastation on Kai’s face almost made Ollie step closer and gather him into his arms, but he forced himself to put more distance between them. “I’m sorry, Kai. I was so wrapped up in the connection we seemed to share I lost sight of things. I should never have let it get this far, and I must stop it going further.”
“I see.” Kai turned away. “I wish you a good evening, Mr. Gyin. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to enjoy the view a little longer before I find one of the servants to show me to my room.”
“Of course. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Kai didn’t reply, and Ollie retreated back inside, part of his mind protesting that he was going the wrong way, the other part telling him he was doing the right thing. He turned back to see Kai still standing on the terrace, his head bent. Ollie fled, fearing that if he stayed a moment longer he’d do something he’d really enjoy but regret later.
About the author:
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
Where to find the author:
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25128249-under-glass
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
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