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"'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…'"

"Oh, Mithros, don't tell me you've been reading sonnets again."

Numair's head jerked up, and he blushed. "Not recently, no. Some things just stick in the mind."

"Uh-huh." Thom looked skeptical, which was, admittedly, one of his standard expressions.

"No, really. I used to think of those poems as just soppy mush…"

"They're still soppy mush, Numair."

Numair grimaced. "You have not a single romantic bone in your body, do you." It wasn't a question.

Thom grinned. "Nope."

"So…"

Thom groaned. That playful tone never boded well. He peeked at his lover.

Numair was grinning too broadly at him, all teeth. "Why do you love me?" he asked, a touch too innocently.

Thom flopped backwards on the bed. He clicked his tongue. "Honestly?"

That damnable smirk widened. "Sure."

"Your mage tower."

Numair blinked.

"It's nice and isolated, well away from anyone, yet still within a reasonable distance from my sister's home, should I ever actually want to socialize with her. It is certainly well away from court, which is the important thing, and Trebond, which is almost as important, and," Thom said with a flourish, "you've scared off all the staff. So there's absolutely no one else here but me and occasionally you, when you remember you actually own a house."

He risked another glance at Numair. The mage was staring down at him, gape-jawed.

"But there are other perks," Thom said, and cracked up.