#TeaserTuesday: Earth and Water by JL Gribble

JL Gribble's Earth and Water releases January 23rd and we have a sneak peek for you!

From the blurb:

"A life with no room for distraction

Earth mage Kane Nalamas may be on his first official contract as a mercenary, but his years of experience and training don’t prepare him for immediate betrayal. Within days, he loses both his client and his freedom.

A prison of his own creation

Water mage Archer Sophin would not wish his half-life as a human magical battery on anyone. Especially not the sweet mercenary who has no idea he’s stumbled upon one of the greatest secrets in the magical world: magic is dying.

An unlikely partnership

Kane will take any help he can get from the intriguing water mage, even if he’s not sure whether Archer’s role is villain or fellow victim. Drawn further together by an unexpected voyage, what begins as a temporary arrangement turns into the potential for so much more.

To live free in a world that craves their power, the elemental mages will have to use earth and water in ways never seen before. And for a chance to build a future together, they’ll have to escape the chains of their past.

Earth and Water is an M/M paranormal romance featuring a broody pansexual water mage, a stubborn gay earth mage, forced proximity, meddling best friends, and magic as an accidental aphrodisiac. It is set in the same universe as the author’s Steel Empires series but can be read as a standalone novel with a happily ever after and no cliffhanger."


"For the briefest moment, Archer panicked at the heat of a body against his. He hadn’t shared a bed to sleep in years. Hadn’t slept until morning with both people still in the bed for even longer. Sometime during the night, he’d failed in his intention to stay on his side of the large mattress. Now, he lay entwined with Kane in the center, making clear both men gravitated toward each other in their sleep.

Kane’s skin was too hot where it pressed against Archer’s, his arm was asleep under the weight of Kane’s head, and he desperately had to piss.

He didn’t want to move.

His brain didn’t give him any time to luxuriate, though, as his initial shock soon morphed into dread. He shouldn’t have let last night happen, for so many reasons. Kane had been the sober one, but an argument could be made for an altered mental state, a magic-induced mania caused by his body and mind no longer stretched to their limits, snapping to baseline under the pressure of Archer’s manipulations.

What happened now, in the light of day? His newfound freedom from New Angouleme meant the freedom to make certain choices for the first time in years. No need to hide a dalliance to keep them safe from Burrows. However, this freedom was a temporary state at best.
His loyalty to Burrows allowed the older mage to manipulate and tie Archer to him, and Archer balked at letting anyone else so close. Everything Archer knew about Kane suggested he desired more than casual or temporary. Elemental attributes didn’t always apply to mages, but in this case, Kane embodied the steady, long-term type. Grounded and rooted, much like his magic—and those roots could easily transform into restraints.

Archer carefully slipped out from under Kane’s arm. He checked the other bedroom but found no sign of Toria. Kane stirred when he finished in the bathroom, making it slightly easier to resist the urge to climb back into the bed. He’d make tea, instead. He hoped offering caffeine meant hitting Kane with ‘we have to talk’ first thing in the morning wouldn’t be such a kick in the teeth.

Kane sat up in the bed, sheet pooled around his waist, when Archer returned with two steaming mugs. He tried to focus on Kane’s bright-eyed delight and not the sexy planes of the man’s chest. 

Obviously, Kane directed his pleasure toward the tea Archer carried. Not Archer himself.

He debated where to sit. Cuddling up to Kane was right out, but choosing the chair in the corner felt too much like a punitive distance. He split the difference by perching on the bottom of the bed and passing over one of the drinks.

“Thank you, and good morning.” Kane blew across the top of the tea, then sipped. “I feel spoiled.”

“You’re welcome.” He should be spoiled. All the damned time. Archer clutched his mug, ignoring the heat of the ceramic. They drank in silence for a few beats, until he ripped off the bandage. “I loved everything that happened between us last night. I hope you know that.”

Unruffled, Kane replied, “I did, too.”

Archer pressed on before he lost steam. “But I’m not sure it can be anything more.”
In another life, Archer might have willingly surrendered to any roots Kane might want to sink into him. In this one, Archer feared the repercussions of accepting such a bond with Burrows hovering like a specter, regardless of how far he ran.

Or maybe he overthought all of this. Kane wanted relief from the pressure of the ocean, nothing more. Anything Archer might think he saw in Kane’s eyes, he’d simply mistaken for a different sort of desire. The magic likely caused last night’s intensity, and the temporary bond between them would shatter the moment Kane stepped foot on shore. He wouldn’t need Archer anymore.

Kane nodded. “I agree.”

Good. This was good. Archer didn’t let anything of the surge of disappointment that stabbed at his chest show on his face. Tonight, Kane would return to the room he shared with Toria, and tomorrow morning, Archer would wake sprawled in the middle of the large bed, alone.

“After all, Toria and I need to find Syri,” Kane continued. “But there’s not much we can do about any of that for the next five days. Why are you so far away?” He drained his mug and set it on the nightstand.

Wait, what? “Because I just said we couldn’t do this?”

“No, you said it couldn’t be more than this. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have it while we’re stuck on this god-awful boat.”

Archer frantically tried to switch gears. “It’s not a boat. It’s a ship.” Was he supposed to laugh off Kane’s unexpected response as a joke? The man should have agreed the brief liaison had been fun but otherwise simply the result of magic heightening a surface physical connection. Not something to repeat.

Kane made crawling across the bed look more graceful than scooting across a mattress had any right to be. Archer should have jumped up, backed away, done anything except allow Kane to shove himself under Archer’s arm like some sort of large and dangerous dog. “You were too far away.”

He tightened his grip on Kane’s waist so he wouldn’t caress the smooth skin there. “Then this is just fun while we’re in limbo on the ocean?” This journey wasn’t a vacation, it was an escape. How dare Archer consider a fling with Kane when all it meant was using him for his selfish desires?

Back home, Hal might be putting himself in danger on Archer’s behalf at this very moment. But Archer could do nothing on this voyage to assist Hal. And Kane felt too damned good under his touch. Especially when he leaned more heavily against Archer, nuzzling close with his eyelashes brushing the sensitive skin of Archer’s neck. Figuring the ginger in the tea erased the sins of morning breath, Archer tilted his head. Kane met him the final inch. The kiss contained none of the frantic need of the night before, but Archer wanted to drown in it all the same.

When they broke, Archer couldn’t resist a quick jab. “Is water still evil, then, Master Nalamas?”

Kane slid a palm across Archer’s pecs, his calloused fingers dragging against skin in all the best ways. “Yes. But I think you’ll make the perfect distraction, Master Sophin.”

Reserve  your copy of Earth and Water today!