Don Diego de la Vega whistled as he got dressed. Being called to the king’s castle for the inauguration was a gift as far as he was concerned. It was a vacation that he’d desperately needed, an excuse to get away for a little while. He hoped the distance would solve some of his problems or at least make them disappear for a short time.
When a knock sounded on the door, Diego strode over and opened it without checking who it was first. He regretted that move the second he opened the door.
“Hello, gorgeous,” his ex-lover Paolo crooned as he leaned against the doorframe, smoothing his hair back as he preened.
Diego rolled his eyes as his once calm mood soured. The man standing in front of him was one of the things Diego had been trying to escape. He wasn’t even sure how the man had gotten into the king’s castle. Had he received an invite?
“You need to leave.” Diego told him
Paolo pushed out his bottom lip, pouting. It was a look that used to get Paolo pretty much whatever he wanted. Not anymore. Now, it just made the man seem desperate. “You don’t mean that, querido.”
“I’m not your darling,” Diego snapped. “I stopped being your darling the second I discovered you balls deep inside some guy’s ass.”
Diego still grew furious every time he thought about coming home early to spend a little time with his lover of six months and finding him fucking some guy he picked up at a local tavern.
“It wasn’t serious, mi amor. Just one of those things,” Paolo simpered as his hand fluttered at the low neckline of his tunic. “I was lonely. You had been gone for so long and I was missing you.”
Diego let out a snort and rolled his eyes heavenward. Why did cheaters always have a lame excuse? Did this primadonna actually believe that Diego was desperate enough to forgive him? Diego wasn’t desperate. He’d never forgive a lover for cheating on him. It was an unforgivable sin.
“You will leave,” Diego ordered in a commanding tone, and Paolo straightened instantly. The man knew he wasn’t playing any games. Even though they had been lovers, Diego was still the leader of his people and Paolo knew it.
“Turn around and go home. You aren’t welcome here anymore.”
“But…” Paulo started.
Diego shut the door in his face.
Turning on his heel, he exhaled, trying to push his irritation and Paolo out of his system. The man had used him to gain status and once he was set up, he’d turned on Diego. He wasn’t in love with the man, but still his ego was slightly bruised.
“Fuck!” He shouted when he heard another knock at the door. Why couldn’t Paolo just move on? He was sick of the rollercoaster ride. It was time to get off.
“Why won’t you go away?” he asked as he jerked the door open and came face to face with two extremely large royal guards. Clearing his throat, Diego let go of his anger and stood a little straighter. “What can I do for you, gentlemen?”
“Don Diego de la Vega, the king has requested your presence in the throne room.”
“Of course,” Diego smiled. “Lead the way.”
Stepping out into the hallway, Diego looked both ways, but didn’t spot Paolo anywhere. He breathed out a sigh of relief, closing the door behind him before following the guards down the hallway.
He couldn’t for the life of him figure out why the king would want to see him. As territories went, his was pretty damn small. They had a lot of activity along their border as they faced the sea and many thought they could come in with ships and take over. They quickly learned they were wrong.
But that still didn’t explain why the king would want to see him. Diego regularly sent in reports of the activity along the coastline. Things were pretty much the same as they had been for years. Nothing new. He didn’t think a new king would be interested in what he had to report.
Maybe he was wrong.
The two guards stopped at a huge pair of double door, and Diego tried to remain calm even though he was anxious to find out why the king wanted to see him. The doors opened and the guards ushered him inside. As he walked toward the golden throne at the far end of the room, he tried not to make eye contact with the new king. He didn’t want to do anything to offend the man that could result in serious punishment.
There was another man there wearing a long flowing purple robe. Diego recognized him as the king’s advisor. He stood to one side of the throne with two heavily armed guards.
“Your majesty,” Diego said when he reached the bottom of the steps leading up to the dais where the king sat. He dropped down onto one knee, crossing his arm over his chest, his fist resting over his heart and waited for the man to acknowledge him.
“You may rise,” the king’s voice boomed.
Diego rose and clasped his hands behind his back. He stared at a spot over the king’s head, keeping his posture perfectly straight, awaiting the king’s orders.
“You are dismissed,” the king waved his hand and Diego’s brows furrowed in confusion.
“Yes, your majesty,” Diego started to bow once more and the king chuckled.
“Not you, Don de la Vega. I’m dismissing my advisor and guards.” The king’s words were met by protests from his advisor, but eventually, Diego was left alone with the king. “Please relax, Diego. You are not marching to your doom.”
So he said. Diego wasn’t quite so sure.
Cocktails and Books
"Southern Heat" is the fourth book I've read in the "King's Command" series, and what a great series it is! The basic premise of the stories is the new king decides to mate a dragon shifter to a human from each area of the kingdom. He says that, working together, they can better protect the Kingdom from all enemies from all sides. Not all of the parties involved are thrilled with this prospect, but they do it out of duty.
Diego has always admired the dragon leader in his region, so being mated to him is no hardship. With the king’s warning ringing strong, he is ready to build a life with Xavier and serve their king. However, Xavier doesn’t trust that someone as good looking as Diego would want a scarred mate. Can Diego convince Xavier his scars are badges of courage before the threat to their region and king threatens their future?
Southern Heat by Stormy Glenn and Olivia Black is third in the King’s Command series. I think this has become my new favorite story in this series. I adored both Diego and Xavier. Both men were strong and unapologetically male. Xavier is a strong warrior unable to see his scars are nothing more than a story of his bravery. But never fear, because Diego is totally aware of the cost of each scar. I loved that Xavier was protective of those he cares for, and he has protected Diego from afar for years. His honor knows no bounds, and I loved watching Diego slowly bring him out of his shell. He loved Xavier from a distance and now he does not need to hide his admiration and caring. That is not to say Ms. Glenn and Ms. Black made it easy for either man. Miscommunication was the word of the day and hurt feelings were dealt with, but in such a way both men were the better for it. This story was full of emotional angst and grief, but while it wasn’t necessarily pretty it was handled well. I ran the emotional gamut along with Xavier and Diego and rejoiced in the fact they came through stronger for the experience.
This story was well written and full of emotion depth and growth. I loved how well Xavier and Diego fit. I loved that their journey was heartfelt and hard. Southern Heat is one I will re-read time and time again.
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