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What happens when a young intern falls prey to the Big Bad Wolves of the New York Stock Exchange, or when an archaeologist stumbles across a sleeping prince in the ruins of Angkor Wat? From poisoned apples to polished swords, classic fairy tales are full of sexual imagery; for this anthology, writers found those erotic threads and wove them into stories where the castle is an apartment building in Prague, or the Evil Queen is The Prince’s ex-boyfriend. With Shanna Germain, Sasha Payne, and more. This collection of modern erotic gay fairy tales will enchant you.
Included in this anthology:
“Catch and Release” by Clio Yue
“Enchanted” by Shanna Germain
“Nightingale” by Evey Brett
“A Day in the Life of a Magic Prince” by NCN
“The Big Bad Wolf” by Alexander Wilder
“The Flame in the Desert” by Sasha Payne
“The Prince and the Frog” by Hero Freyr
“White Horse Beach” by Sarah Ellis
For a hot excerpt, keep reading below!
From “Catch and Release” by Clio Yue
As soon as he sees it in the window of a dusty store on Portobello Road, Nathan Ellis knows he has to have the mysterious wooden box. On a whim, he’s come antiquing with his sister Valerie, although she is the far more enthusiastic participant; he only tags along to humor her, and sometimes to pick up the odd chair or two to decorate his small apartment in Holborn whenever the urge strikes him. It doesn’t strike that often, though, because Nathan can’t afford such luxuries on his salary.
Tall, possessing a body honed by several years of competitive swimming in school, with dark blond hair and warm brown eyes, Nathan was a casting director’s dream when he had first come to London from North Wales several years ago, ready for success and the heady intoxication of fame. Much was promised and more was hoped for, but dreams are fragile, and easily crushed. Right now, he’s stuck in a long-running play in a dingy theater near the National Gallery, performing a show that’s been on stage for about twenty years and is only watched by tourists and pensioners on day trips to the city. The pay is regular, and there are always enough screaming fans at the stage door each night he performs, but Nathan feels he is owed so much more than this. He was promised more, surely. As his agent likes to say, fame is the devil’s game, and some play it far better than others.
“What about this?” he asks the shopkeeper, a seedy old man with a bushy beard and astonishingly white eyebrows, lifting up the rectangular box. It fits nicely in his hand and has an intricate raised design of a snake swallowing its own tail on the lid. It looks weathered, and unmistakably ancient, as if it has passed through many generations and survived intact. There is an emerald set into the eye of the snake, and Nathan wonders if this will add an extra few zeros to the box’s price. Valerie looks over at him, an eyebrow raised quizzically. She’s been flipping through some old books on a shelf and comes over to look at what Nathan holds in his hands.
“Sheridan would’ve hated it,” she observes, and Nathan grimaces. His former lover is not a welcome topic of conversation, ever since the shouting match they’d had last December that had involved suitcases being thrown out of windows and the police being called at three in the morning. Ironically, Nathan’s personal life has been far more dramatic than the roles he’s had on stage.
“Ah,” the shopkeeper wheezes. “Now that box is a beauty, is it not? It just arrived here on Wednesday; a young man came here to sell me some things his uncle had left to him in his will. I’ve not had a chance to look its history up properly, though I have some documentation I can pass on, sir. If you’re interested in purchasing the piece, that is.”
Is Nathan interested? There is something compelling about the way the emerald shines at him in the dim light of the winter sun that streams in through the murky windows. He weighs the box carefully in his hands. It’s lighter than he thought it would be, though there seems to be something inside, as the rattle when he shakes it indicates. Nathan tries to open it, but there’s some kind of lock on the box that seems rusted over with age and won’t yield to the repeated press of his fingers. The shopkeeper watches his frustration and offers his opinion that the lock might require a key, but unfortunately the young lad who sold it to him didn’t provide one.
Nathan sighs, his mind made up. “How much are you asking for it?”
The shopkeeper names a price that has Valerie sucking in air through her teeth. She tips her head at Nathan, her gaze questioning, and he nods; almost immediately he sees the hard gleam in her eye that means she’s about to unleash her considerable skills at bargaining.
“Look at how filthy it is!” she says, as Nathan begins to take out his wallet. “It looks like it just came out of the ground! How do we know the wood isn’t worm-eaten, or harboring termites? You could be selling my brother something that might infest his apartment!”
“Madam!” The shopkeeper looks taken aback. “I would never!”
“So you say,” Valerie sniffs, “but good intentions are all very well until we have to call the pest-control people because half the furniture in my brother’s flat has started to disintegrate.”
And so by some sort of pagan magic, Nathan is sure, his sister manages to get him the box for half the shopkeeper’s original asking price. They leave the shopkeeper a broken man, Valerie happy with her afternoon’s good deed and Nathan carrying the box wrapped in brown paper in one of Valerie’s hemp shopping bags. For no reason he can think of, Nathan believes that something very significant has happened, though he is unsure why that might be. As they make for the tube station, the sun begins to set, blazing orange against the pale winter sky.
* * * *
When he gets back to his apartment, Nathan tosses aside the bag with the box and sits down at the small old piano he picked up second-hand at a flea market when he first moved to London. Even though he sings for a living, his first great love has always been the piano. He loves the concentration it demands, and the creativity it rewards. He’s annoyed the neighbors on more than one occasion when his discordant jazz-inflected melodies kept the other occupants on his floor from sleeping.
This time, though, he doesn’t practice for as long as he usually does; his agent calls about a possible pantomime role in December, and Nathan seriously considers the part for a good minute before realizing that performing as a hunch-backed villain for sugar-fueled children and their weary parents would still not pay as well as his current job. Apparently the male lead is barely twenty-five, and Nathan wonders when he got too old to play the hero in a bloody pantomime. He strikes a piano key viciously, and the sound rings low and mournful in the small apartment.
Afterward he heats up a frozen dinner in the microwave and has another look at the mysterious box, standing it on its longer side so he can examine it. The mechanism securing the box’s contents looks unusual, so Nathan gets a penknife to scrape away some of the rust in order to peer at it more closely. There is no keyhole that he can discern, just a circle of rusty iron filigree surrounding a deep red material that looks like leather. Nathan prods it with his knife, but it doesn’t seem to have any give beneath it. Irritated, he switches the angle of his knife and is about to try again when the microwave dings shrilly, startling him. The knife slips from Nathan’s grasp and cuts into the palm of his left hand.
“Ah, shit!” Nathan mutters, trying to reach for the tissue box. As he does, a drop of blood falls onto the faux keyhole and spreads onto the leather-like material. The cut begins to sting. “Shit shit shit!”
Tissues at hand, Nathan staunches as much of the bleeding as he can, then swipes ineffectively at the stain on the box’s lock. But it’s too late. Whatever the material is that makes up part of the lock mechanism, it seems marked irrevocably. Perhaps, Nathan thinks glumly as he tucks into his unevenly heated bowl of pasta, his palm sporting two new plasters, it’s karma for letting Valerie have her way with the recalcitrant shopkeeper. In any case, he’s definitely going to think twice about letting her drag him along on her shopping trips from now on.
It begins to rain when Nathan finally goes to bed, tired out from the day’s exertions and unexpected dramas. The wind howls against the windowpanes like an outraged mother looking for her children. Nathan privately thanks whatever deities might be listening for double-glazing and central heating as he snuggles down into his queen-sized bed, trying not to think about how it seems much too big for just one person. Ever since his breakup with Sheridan, an anonymous chain of women and men have shared his bed, though no one ever stayed for more than a night because none of them ever held Nathan’s attention long enough. Sighing, Nathan rolls over and draws the blankets up higher.
Sleep claims him quickly, like a greedy child.
* * * *
In the middle of the night, Nathan wakes unexpectedly and realizes there is somebody in the room with him. He sits up, his head spinning, and looks at the man who has materialized at the foot of his bed. The stranger is clothed in an expensive-looking suit that Nathan recognizes as one that Valerie chose for him at a high-street store earlier in the day, and it fits the mysterious man’s body as though it was tailored by hand. The moonlight picks out the stranger’s features, and as if he has been mesmerized, Nathan can’t look away.
The man is beautiful. Ethereal. Inky black hair brushes the collar of the suit, framing an exquisite face, all high, sharp cheekbones and a straight Grecian nose above curling, sensuous lips. Deep green eyes bore into Nathan, unnaturally bright in the semi-darkness of the room. Nathan thinks he might be dreaming, or going mad. Both are quite possible. It might also be that this stranger is a robber, although Nathan can see that he carries no bag or crowbar.
“Why have you summoned me?” the man asks, his voice rich and smooth, with the slightest touch of an accent, though Nathan cannot place it. “Do you seek the treasure of the box?”
All Nathan can do is gape and clutch the sheets around him and wish he didn’t feel so naked under the man’s penetrating stare. “Uh, what?”
The stranger’s brow furrows. His skin is pale, much too pale, as though it has never been kissed by the sun.
“The box.” A snap of the fingers, and it appears in the stranger’s hand. “You spilt your blood in order to open the lock.”
Ah. The guy sounds like a maniac, and there is an air of danger about him that suggests Nathan better play along for the moment. He holds up his palm with the plasters on it and grimaces. “Only by accident. Sort of cut myself trying to get the rust off. And who are you, anyway? Normally people barging into my bedroom in the middle of the night at least tell me who they are, so I know what name to use when I ask them to leave in the morning.”
The stranger glares at him, and Nathan stares back steadily this time. Before he came to London he’d played his fair share of shady venues inhabited by equally shady characters. None of them were ever as beautiful as the possible psychopath in front of him, though.
A beat, and Nathan can hear the howling of the wind outside as the moment lengthens into an uncomfortable silence.
“Whether you meant to provide the blood that was the key to opening the box is irrelevant,” the stranger says eventually. “There are no accidents; you have summoned me, and I am bound to appear to whomever has opened the box.”
“…And you are?”
This time the man’s eyes flare a particularly vibrant hue of green in irritation for a moment before returning to a more normal color. Nathan swallows nervously, aware for the first time that something feels deeply wrong about the situation. This isn’t some robber or perverted home-invader. The look in the man’s eyes is troubling and thoroughly at odds with the apparent youthfulness of his features. The stranger’s eyes, Nathan realizes, are ancient, as though they have seen many thousands of years pass by in an instant.
“My original name was lost to the desert winds, long before man even thought to hunt to fill his belly or to build shelter to protect him from the storm. I was given another name by the first to encounter me, after I had shown him the pleasure that no earthly partner could provide. Still another name was gifted to me when I killed the first man I ever lay with, and another when I destroyed the village of his ancestors. Storytellers called me a spirit of the air, then of fire. When scholars started writing about us, they labeled me and my brothers with more names, so as to fit us in with the ways in which they understood the cosmos.”
Now the stranger glances down at Nathan, who still holds his gaze.
“The one who imprisoned me in the box also gave me a name, which I will give you, since I did not choose it myself. You may call me Kadin.”
“Kadin.” Nathan rolls the name around his mouth, like a mouthful of wine. “And just what are you, Kadin?”
He gets a slow smile in response, full of white teeth. “The Arabic scholars who studied my brothers and I called us jinn. But of all the jinn they deemed a small group of us the most dangerous and called our type marid.”
“Jinn… like a genie?”
“I am so much more than a genie, Nathan Ellis,” Kadin spits. “My powers far outreach those of a simple jinn!”
Nathan backs himself into the headboard of his bed, feeling more and more vulnerable with each passing second he spends with this impossible creature. “Then why are you here?”
A raised eyebrow. “Is it not obvious, Nathan Ellis? I am to grant you a wish.”
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