Earl Hathbury’s Vessel | S. Rodman
Duty & Magic #2
Release Date: August 14th, 2022
Publisher: Dark Angst Publishing
Cover Artist: Miblart
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 45,000 words
Available in Kindle Unlimited
After years of cruelty, how do you learn to trust? To love?
It may be 2022, but the modern world has done nothing to protect me.
I live in the world of the British nobility, a secret society of magic, mages and vessels.
There are strict rules and customs and no freedom at all.
My name is Charlie, but to society, I’m just a vessel. A person who grows and absorbs magic within them, but cannot wield it.
As tradition dictates, on my eighteenth birthday, I was given to a mage. From that day onwards, every seven days for four long years, Earl Rathbone took my body to take my magic.
Earl Rathbone was a cruel and harsh master. But it was ‘the done thing’ and society turned a blind eye to my mistreatment.
Until the earl’s son finally intervened and whisked me away. Sending me to Archie. The Earl of Hathbury.
Archie is kind and sweet. The man loves books nearly as much as I do. He is nothing like Earl Rathbone.
Yet, giving Archie my body and my magic is daunting. But it is my duty and a necessity. As a vessel, I need a mage to regularly empty me or I could die.
To my great relief, Archie is understanding and gentle, and it’s not long before I start to fall for him. Finding my duty more of a pleasure.
Archie seems to enjoy our time together more than is proper, and I am hopeful.
But can Archie be trusted? Is he really safe? Will I ever be truly free?
Sighing wistfully, I continued my meander around the grounds. I turned a corner around a tall hedge and found a swimming pool. I blinked in surprise. The old families usually considered them vulgar. Something only new money garishly indulged in.
It was quite tucked away and hidden by tall hedges. Whoever had installed it had known it was something to be embarrassed about.
It looked clean, if a bit tatty. It had obviously been here for a while. The pool was a decent size, surrounded by well-maintained grass. There were no sun loungers nor any other accouterments. I wondered if anyone still used it.
A few stray leaves floated on the surface, but the water looked clear. Calm and inviting. Sod it. I had nothing better to do. The day was warm enough that I’d soon dry off, even without a towel. I stripped down to my underwear, a pair of simple white briefs. Leaving my clothes carelessly strewn across the grass, I sat on the edge of the pool and dipped my toe in.
It was delightfully warm. A heated pool. Now, that was a pleasant surprise. Grinning, I slipped in. The water was divine. Feeling far too lazy to do laps, I merely bobbed around for a while. Then I floated on my back and closed my eyes. The feeling of weightlessness in the warm water, combined with the sun shining down and the birdsong, was wonderful. Maybe swimming could become my new hobby. I could come here every day. I’d soon get fit, I supposed. If I actually swam instead of floating around.
But this relaxation was lovely. Doing this everyday sounded far more alluring. I could call it meditation or something. Maybe do a bit of yoga at the poolside, so it didn’t feel quite so decadent.
Someone coughed, and it startled me so much I nearly drowned trying to get to my feet. Spluttering water out of my mouth and wiping it from my eyes, so I could see, I looked up.
It was Archie. Standing by the pool. Holding a folded white towel and wearing a white robe. His shapely legs were bare, and he had flip-flops on his feet. He had come to swim in his secret pool and found me in it.
I scrambled to the edge and heaved myself up. The poor man took a step backwards as I lunged out of the pool to stand before him, water streaming off of me onto the grass.
“I’m sorry!” I gasped, pushing my sodden hair out of my eyes with both my hands.
Archie just stared at me. A strange look on his face. His cheeks were heated, unsurprisingly. He was probably furious at me.
“It’s quite alright,” he said after a while, but his voice sounded strained.
“I’ll… I’ll leave you to your peace,” I stuttered and hastily scooped up my clothes that seemed to be scattered everywhere. Making it take forever to gather them. When I eventually had them all, I ran.
When I was far enough away, out of sight and hearing, I stopped, chest heaving. I dropped my clothes onto the ground so I could start dressing. As I glanced down, I saw my wet underwear was entirely see through.
Groaning, I covered my blush with my hands. Not that there was anyone to see now.
“Nice one, Charlie,” I said to myself. Just what his lordship wanted to see. I thought sarcastically. Great way to get to know your new master, invade his private pool and then flash him.
About the Author
I love characters that are battered and broken by life, who through the course of finding love, discover they are strong.
I like to pour my dark past into my characters and hope I will be forgiven.
Despite everything, because of everything, I will always believe that love conquers all.