Darshan knocked back a few hearty swallows of his drink with barely the bat of an eye. The tankard slammed onto the counter, slopping more over the rim. “Alas, I think Daama might actually give me another of her clips over the ear if I tried to free her. She is a bit of a traditionalist.”
An odd expression took Darshan’s face. It was almost as if he spoke not of a slave, but of family, such as a cherished aunt or grandmother. Perhaps he did see her as such.
Hamish tapped on the handle of his tankard. His memories of his grandparents before the plague took them were dim, but he could imagine having a part of his family sent away without warning. The priests had done that when they’d cloistered his younger sister.
“I suppose there are also others who would react poorly to losing her,” Hamish murmured before drinking deeply. He peered at the ambassador out the corner of his eye, trying to gauge Darshan and finding the man favoured not reacting. “Children, maybe? It must be hard being so far away from your family.” The Udynean capital of Minamist was literally on the other side of the continent. He couldn’t imagine having such distance between him and home.
Darshan shook his head. “I have no children.” Chuckling, he scratched at the side of his nose with a thumb. “And what a bone of contention that is.”
“Your wife must be eager to remedy such an oversight.” Hamish knew without an ounce of doubt that he would already be a father if it wasn’t for the truth of what he’d have to do to turn that into a reality.
A weak, and slightly queasy, attempt at a smile stretched the man’s lips. He snatched up his tankard and mumbled into its depths, “Not married.”
“Oh?” The man was perhaps a little too pretty and foppish for Hamish’s tastes. And a little on the lean side, despite his protests at Nora pointing out the same thing at dinner last night.
“There is a very good reason for that.” Darshan set his mug on the counter and, giving a smirk, motioned him closer. “It is something of a secret.”
Intrigued, Hamish closed the already small distance between them. Amusement danced in the man’s eyes. Hazel. This close, the separate rings of brown and green in Darshan’s eyes were clear in the pub’s light, colours muddied only where they met and merged. That’s nae fair. Of course he would find the prettiest eyes belonging to a man he shouldn’t consider being alone with.
He also couldn’t help noticing the ring of black around the rim of Darshan’s eyes seemed slightly smudged in the inner corners, near where the glasses sat. Was it some sort of powder? The clans would sometimes plaster dyes and paints across their skin during war, but he had heard of men in foreign lands using such things in a more civil setting as fashion and tradition dictated.
The ambassador clapped a hand on Hamish’s shoulder, tearing his attention back into the present. “It goes a little something like this…” In one swift move, Darshan slid his fingers into Hamish’s hair and sealed their lips together.
There was no hesitation in the act, nor any forceful prying open of his mouth to invade with a tongue, just the bold press of his lips. There for a blissful moment then gone.
“Oh,” Hamish breathed. “I… er…” In all his years of fooling around, of rutting with strangers in the dark, he’d never met a man that forward.
Darshan returned to his drink, his face flushed by more than alcohol. His gaze slid back to Hamish as he drained the last of his drink. There was certainly something of an invitation lurking in that multi-coloured depth.