This isn't going to be about us! It's going to be about her!

“Leader, I’m tired.”

Scowl on her face, Lucy’s complaint reminded Duncan of a whining child.

“We’ve traveled all day long. Now Stella is setting.”

Following her gaze to the horizon, the prince caught the last rays spreading a dim light that would soon be gone.

“Yes, Leader.” Richard’s concerned voice seemed to echo Lucy’s whimpers, particularly when his gaze fell fearfully on Chris’s blond head.

A sight he had not been able to tear away from, during the whole damn journey long.

“We need to find a shelter.”

“Make that two.”

The angel’s curt remark was the perfect reminder of how fed up Chris was with Richard and Lucy intruding in his on-the-road time with Duncan and Ylianor. To his angel’s credit, Duncan had to admit he had tried hard to quell his irritation and be more co-leader-like. Something Prince Caldwell appreciated deeply.

Not his fault now Chris’s patience was at an end.

“Christopher, it isn’t reasonable.” Lord Ellis shook his head, pleading with the angel to stop being as moody and detached as he had been since their party had set off from Ridgeview that morning. “It’s going to be hard enough to locate a shelter here.” He glanced around at the forest closing in on every side. “Let alone two.”

This remained the fastest route to Plantimore Cliffs. No other Duncan would have chosen, knowing how little his angel cared for the two tag-along.

“Leader, there are two empty shelters up ahead.” More beautiful than ever, Ylianor indicated a clump of trees in front of them, smiling enchantingly. “Right behind there.”

“Thank you, Princess.”

Of all the day’s tension, she alone had been charming and light with everyone, refusing to allow Chris’s bad temper to affect her in the least.

And Prince Caldwell could not love her more for it.

“How can she possibly know?” Not convinced, Richard frowned.

“It’s called Virt, old man.” Sarcastic to the point of being insulting, Chris snapped, “And if you haven’t learned about it by now, after all your training, you’re really…” Stupid.

No, luckily the angel did not say it, just thought it loud and clear.


“Christopher, there’s no need to get hostile.” Offended, Lord Ellis threw back his shoulders. “Just because I haven’t been exposed to Virt as long as you have, I don’t understand why you should make fun of me.” Then embarrassed of his outburst, he glanced sideways at the prince. “I’m sure you can understand, Leader.”

“I do, Richard.” Despite the situation, his heart went out to the old man and his crushed heart. “The angel didn’t mean to be so…” Heartless? Vicious? Brutal?

All of the above, actually.

“Harsh,” Ylianor supplied. “It’s just that traveling doesn’t always agree with him.” She flashed a radiantly apologetic smile. “There have been times in the past he was awful to me.” Practically killed me, she joked, even if it was the truth. “Only because I dared trail along with him and the leader.” She giggled.

And Duncan commended her effort to ease the pressure.

Sleeping beauty, you’re wasting your breath with these two oafs. In spite of himself, her jocular intervention mollified Chris and lightened his spirit. The mere fact we’re here with them indicates how little they understand of things.

Angel, I’ve just about had enough of your nastiness today.

Your fault, lover. I told you I didn’t want to come—

Shut up, Prince Caldwell ordered. Whatever you have to say, this is neither the time nor the place.

“Lady Templeton is right.” Excitedly, Lucy pointed at two red roofs, gleaming between the bushes. “There are the shelters.”

“And not a moment too soon, Lady Penbroke.” Defiantly challenging Duncan to shut him up again, Chris did not begrudge his heavy sarcasm.

That he was asking for it was an understatement. That Prince Caldwell would soon take care of it was equally clear. At least once he dropped off the dead weight standing in the way.

Which was exactly when he arrived at the first shelter. “Richard, Lucy, you can take this one.” The second was only a short distance away. “Rest, ‘cause I think you both need it.”

So what if it was not entirely true?

“We can reconvene for dinner in our shelter. Let’s say in an hour?”

“Why don’t we make it an hour and a half, Leader?” His annoyance now impossible to hide, Chris stared at him asking for it worse than before.

“An hour and a half is just perfect.” Condescending, Richard made no questions about it, evidently wanting Chris to be comfortable whatever way he could. “See you later.” Turning the horse toward the stable at a side, he moved off, followed by Lucy.

On getting to their shelter, the princess was quick to jump off Starlet. “Leader, would you mind taking care of her?” Trustingly, she held up the bridles. “While I take care of things inside?”

No, she was not the dead weight he wanted to get rid of. Still, he was grateful she understood enough to know it was better if he were alone with the angel.

“Sure, no problem.” He nodded toward Chris who had already dismounted from Black. “Take them, Angel, and follow me.” So he went down Fuzeon.

“But I wanted to—”

“I said—take the fucking horses and follow me.”

Reluctantly obeying, Chris grabbed them none too gently from Ylianor’s hand.

Please, see she’s all right.

The princess’s husky whisper made Duncan remember Starlet was pregnant and might need extra attention.

Don’t worry. Going inside the stable, he checked if there was plenty of food and water for her. I’ll take care of her.

He need not have worried. Once inside, Fuzeon and Black flanked Starlet in the common stall and seemed ready to protect her at all cost, which was comforting and in a way a relief to see them hanging so tightly together. Almost like the three of them when Chris was not in such a foul mood.

“Going somewhere, Angel?” Catching his move toward the door, Duncan pinned him to the nearest wall, pressing his full weight on him.

“Yeah, out of here.” From the reaction, it was safe to assume Chris had expected it. “Or wasn’t it obvious?”

“The only thing obvious today is that you’ve been acting like an asshole.”

“Forgive me, Leader, but I just can’t understand why we’re here.” Finally able to vent his anger, Chris held nothing back. “It’s her damn idea, which somehow you’ve turned into your pet project. But by your own admission, you want nothing to do with its organization.”

So Prince Caldwell contained it, preventing it from lashing out and destroying everything in its wake.

“If she and Richard are in charge, why the fuck are we tagging along? Why are we taking a trip with someone who can’t take his damn eyes off me all daylong? And with another who can’t take her sickening puppy-love eyes off you?”

“That’s exactly my point.” He tightened the pressure on both the material and immaterial dimensions.

“Your point?” Confused, Chris stared at him, his fire cooling down in the uncertainty. “I don’t get it.”

“You would, if you weren’t so busy spitting fire from your every pore and using your head for a change.” Fully in control now, the leader eased the pressure. “It seems to me like we both have a common problem—two people who are breathing down our necks and nothing seems to discourage them.”

“So how is this going to help us?” Suddenly attentive, Chris shifted. “They already know we fuck like crazy.” His new position had drawn the prince closer than before, if at all possible. “And that stunt you pulled in the attic leaves no one any doubts we belong to one another—”

“This isn’t going to be about us.”

“Then…” As the dots connected in the angel’s head, Duncan saw his eyes brightening all of a sudden. “It’s going to be about her.”

“Exactly.” Too late he realized his crotch was digging in Chris’s belly. “We’ve been so bent on showing everybody what we feel about one another. We totally neglected to put her in the picture.” And it was driving him crazy, especially since his angel’s cock was as stiff as his. “So it’s time to set the record straight. Yours most of all, since you always play like you care nothing for her.”

Not their fault. Duncan knew it, rather the treacherous tension Chris had been working hard to build from the moment they stepped out of Ridgeview.

“It’s high time you showed how much you love her, and that there’s no room left for anybody else.”

It was excruciating having Chris so close, pretending he did not notice how vigorously their bodies were reacting to it.

“And what better occasion to start than in front of two love-sick puppies?”

“After her mistress act, I’d have thought Lucy would’ve understood.” Swaying his hips slightly, Chris proved he was perfectly aware of what was going on. Except he wanted to delay the moment for his own reasons.

“Like you noticed, she clearly didn’t.” Now the pressure had definitely moved into the sexual sphere. “Though the princess was the most convincing mistress I’ve ever seen.” Just thinking about it inflated his craving for release. “She had us hanging by the balls. And with such mastery, I’d have obeyed her every order.” And swelled his shaft to the maximum.

“Like when she said our cocks belonged to her.” The memory was having its definite effects on the angel, too, judging from the huge bulge stretching his pants. “Only a few years ago, had anybody ever told me I’d be as excited as a phase first timer to hear a woman say those words, I’d have thought they were crazy.”

“Which is why you have to show how changed you are, how deeply she affects you.” Almost bursting in his pants, Duncan drew back slightly to avoid a sure orgasm.

“I get it now, and your plan might just work.” But something in Chris wanted to play until the spasm. “At least on Richard.” So he pushed out his groin and resumed the sensual rubbing on Prince Caldwell’s enflamed piece. “With Lucy, it’s a different matter.” It was just an excuse to prolong the teasing. “She must’ve heard and seen how close you are to sleeping beauty, ‘cause you’ve never made a mystery of it.”

“Until she sees me making love to the princess, she’ll keep pretending she doesn’t understand.”

How much longer would he last before he literally jumped on the most seductive man he had the misfortune of knowing?

“Having sex with the princess isn’t enough. Lucy, and I think also Richard, have to see what we feel for her before they can be persuaded to back off.”

“I don’t see the need to cure Lucy of her puppy love.”

Yes, Chris was doing it on purpose, keeping both shafts on the verge near explosion from inside their pants.

“You could just as well ignore her and—”

“Angel, I have to train her. Remember?” Of course, the bastard did. “And you know Virt’s side effects are going to get in the way of it.”

Chris was simply playing hard to get, making Duncan sweat for him like never before.

“So I need her to be cool-headed and balanced when we start, which is why I’ve been putting it off for so long.” His mouth went suddenly dry with the impulse to attack the angel’s lips. “I can’t afford her to be hotheaded and—”

“I thought you liked hotheads,” Chris provoked.

“Long ago, I decided I’d tolerate only one under my watch.” Unable to resist further, Duncan trapped his lips under a fierce assault, forcing Chris to open his mouth and swallow the tongue aiming for the throat. And that one dastardly being I’d always keep close watch over.

How close? Something about the question tipped Prince Caldwell off as to what Chris was really after.

Close enough to punish him whenever he steps out of line.