Welcome to The Prince’s Boy by Cecilia Tan, a tale of a prince and his whipping boy ensnared in a plot of dark erotic magic. Warning: explores themes of dubious consent and situations of sexual jeopardy. NSFW.
A new chapter appears every Wednesday. This week is Chapter Five: Jorin
The salve put me to sleep. It had some herb in it that made me sleep without dreams. But the moment it wore off, I was wide awake.
I woke to the sound of wind rushing outside, to Kenet frantically pushing at the north-facing window to get it shut. Wait, no, the south-facing window. I was disoriented, unaccustomed to waking up in my own bed instead of his.
He managed get the latch closed, and then the sound of his breath was louder in the room than the storm that was coming.
“Kenet.” My throat was dry; I could barely speak.
He hurried to me, nearly spilling the water in the pitcher in his haste to pour some into a goblet. I sat up too quickly, trying to snatch the cup from his hand before he could drop it, and felt a welt tear open across my shoulder. I could not hold back the hiss.
Kenet knelt gently on the bed next to me and I sipped slowly, until the tightness in my throat eased. Then I set the goblet aside.
“I’m worried,” he said, his face wan and his eyes puffy from crying. I had never been able to convince him not to cry for me. Not after all these years.
“I’m afraid they’re going to take you away from me,” he said then.
“Ah.” I let my eyes fall closed. When the king had ceased beating me a year or two earlier, I had wondered then why—if Kenet had outgrown the need for a whipping boy—was I allowed to remain at his side? But as time had gone on I had settled into complacency and if anything now I wondered the opposite. “Why now? If anything I’m finally old enough to take what your father really wants to dish out.” The joke fell flat even in my own ears, though. The beating I’d just received was by far the most brutal in my memory. No, wait. I reminded myself that the most recent always seemed like the worst. No reason to…
Kenet gasped as he saw the fresh blood seeping. All right. Perhaps lying to myself about how bad it was wouldn’t help us through this after all. “Will you tell me what you did to make him so angry?” I asked.
“It wasn’t even my fault!” he began, but then related to me a tale of wanting to surprise his father, only to overhear a conversation he shouldn’t have. Surprise his father. Kenet may be a man in reckoned years, but he is a child in so many ways. This, I assumed, was why they kept treating him like one, continuing his schooling at a time when his ancestors would have been normally bound into marriage pacts and expected to produce heirs, and allowing him to keep me. Had he been a second or a third son he might have already been rising through the ranks of the army or been sent to rule the western coastal regions.
But he was the sole prince, the sole heir, and had never been treated by his father or his retainers like anything but a precious treasure. Even Seroi, the Lord High Mage, would make condescending bows to Kenet when he was a boy and then give him a wide berth.
I was afraid Kenet was right. I was only still here by the indulgence that the prince was still a child at heart somehow.
I took his hand. “Your father can beat me bloody every day, if it means I can stay with you,” I said.
“No!” He squeezed my fingers hard enough to hurt. “I mean, no, I won’t let him, not no, I don’t want… I can’t live without you, Jorin. They… they can’t…”
“Shhh.” I pulled him closer, both of us ignoring the blood. The seepage was slowing down anyway. I pulled Kenet’s head into my lap and stroked his hair, shining golden like the treasure he was in the light of the single lamp. “You know that someday they are going to marry you off…”
He clucked his tongue. “To some ice princess for political reasons, who will want to keep her own chambers and no doubt a secret lover on the side.”
I fell silent. Sometimes I wondered if Kenet was even really aware of how lax the rules around us had been. Every night I made sure to muss my bedclothes, so that the maids would not gossip about how the two of us always shared a bed. Even if it had been entirely innocent—which it was when we were children and which it most certainly was not now—the rumors alone could have been enough to bring ruin on us. Or on me, at least.
Every night I closed the door behind us, and set a block of wood against it such that if anyone unlocked the door and pushed it open, I would have the warning of the sound of the block hitting the stone. I could be halfway across the room before the intruder could make it from the entryway to our inner archway. Maids no longer attended us anyway, now that we were older. Servants cleaned and set things to rights while we were gone each day, but Kenet’s guard Bear was the only one who regularly entered the rooms these days while we were in them.
His face lit up suddenly. “That’s why they’ve insisted you increase your weapons training. When Bear gets too old and slow, you’re going to be my new guard. You see, you’ll always be with me, Jorin.” He reached up into my hair, scooping it behind my ear. “You’re mine. I won’t let them take you away from me.”
I bent to kiss him then, ignoring the burning in my back where I stressed the flesh by doing so. Neither blood nor pain had ever kept me from my prince before, and would not this night either.
~* Continued next week! Full list of chapters: here. *~
Impatient to find out the fate of Kenet and Jorin? Book one (chapters 1-56) is now on sale for only 99 cents in ebook from all your favorite retailers or direct from Circlet Press! Clicky: http://www.circlet.com/?page_id=263
About the author: Cecilia Tan is the award-winning author of many erotic books and stories and the founder of Circlet Press.