During negotiations for a truce between the feuding Pierce and Morgan families, Lord John Morgan makes a shocking offer: he will give the Pierce family their land, in exchange for Harrison Pierce's hand in marriage. John has long been enamored with Harrison, the beautiful son of his late rival. Harrison is nineteen, inexperienced, and known for being cold and bitingly brilliant. The union seems impossible, but John is determined to win the affections of his young obsession. Will the frigid Harrison concede, or will the object of John's adoration leave him alone at the altar?
This is not the way I ever hoped things would happen between us, but it’s now the only way. I stand in the grand meeting room of the Price estate and see Harrison is still beautiful, even in grief. His shoulders stoop under the weight of his father’s recent death—and the weight of being named the new Lord Price, to the chagrin of his older brother.
Unfortunate, too, that I, Lord John Morgan, am the reason for what promises to be an intense legal debate—and that Harrison Price is only nineteen—but I made up my mind as soon as I walked in an hour ago, as soon as I saw him again.
I will go through with this, no matter what Russell says.
I want to make the young Lord Price’s eyes brighten. I want to relax those pursed lips and put a stop to the tense, agitated way he moves. He fits perfectly into this setting, though, surrounded by luxury: high ceilings, dark wooden furniture, and wide windows that showcase the lush greenery of Price land. He’s a work of art himself, with his black hair, silver eyes, and pale skin.
I haven’t seen him in months, and that was only from across a crowded ballroom. We’ve never really spoken. The ongoing feud between Harrison’s father and myself kept us sequestered to different social circles. Now, though, the old man is dead, and he left everything—title included—to his youngest, this nineteen-year-old boy, barely a man, in an expensive suit. I try not to stare at his delicate hands. Musician’s hands.
“Looks nothing like his father,” Russell says at my side.
“No, he looks like his mother.”
Russell sips coffee. “Did you know her?”
“I met her once. A few years ago.” I will never forget that fateful Christmas Eve.
“Before everything went tits up with Lord Price, the elder?” He snickers.
I glance at my legal advisor with his graying hair and shrewd, dark eyes. I’ve always trusted this man with everything, but in these proceedings, he’ll have to trust me.
I clear my throat and try to stop looking at Harrison. “I won’t miss the man.”
“No, neither me. But it looks like his son will.” He gestures toward the object of my obsession.
The weight of grief rests like a visible fog in the room, and Harrison is its source. I’ve heard he was close to his father—much closer than the elder son, Thomas, if inheritance is any indication. Thomas received nothing but a measly monthly allowance in the old man’s will. Harrison, practically a child, has gained everything.
But not the family graveyard. That is why I’m really here, isn’t it?
Due to a boundary debate that’s been raging for the past two years, the dead Lord Price and I had been at war. Thanks to some hundred-year-old mistake, discovered by Russell, I own much more land than I once realized, including the Price family cemetery and all the bodies within—including Harrison’s mother, who died not long after that auspicious Christmas party three years ago.
Now, young Harrison wants the land back. He wants to bury his father, visit his mother. Although I’d once laid out financial terms that would return the land to the Price family, Harrison’s father refused. Ever since, I’ve kept the entire family away with the help of armed sentries who wander the edges of my land.
Unlike his father, Harrison will not refuse me. He’s trying to seem strong, stand tall, but I can see he is desperate to put flowers on his mother’s grave. He’s desperate to lay his dear father to rest. He will agree to my terms.
I didn’t want it to happen like this, but maybe this has been my only option all along.
3 out of 5 (good)
Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
This was a very cute short story. It was a light simple read between the two characters. It was a very superficial read, but not in a bad way. I would call it a palate cleanser story. It is something I would read after finishing something heavy and intense. Harrison and John were very cute together. I really liked how open John was. The entire story was told from John's perspective so with how short the story was I really didn't get a good feel for Harrison. All in all though I enjoyed this story.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of The Escape Trilogy and Bite Somebody series, among others sexy things.