ADULT EXCERPT

Ylianor steals the show!

“Sorry I’m late.” Opening the door softly, sleeping beauty’s gentle tone caught Chris by surprise.

“Milady…” Not Farrell evidently. He rose and incinerated her with a craving look that needed no explanations.

By the gods!

The awed and loud expression made Chris turn to look at her, much like Duncan himself, her dilated green eyes trained on the young man promising nothing good. Leader, you have the answer to one of your most fervent wishes standing in front of you.

You mean…

Prince Caldwell swung back to focus on Farrell.

Yes, exactly. “Please sit down, Mister…” I’d like to introduce you to Black Rose’s new stable keeper.

What? If this was not one of sleeping beauty’s ruses to steal a promising young man from under his nose, Chris did not know what was. What are you talking about?

“Farrell Palsey at your service.”

He’s perfect.

Her comment would have been less irritating were she not falling all over the man.

“I’m Ylianor.”

“Better known as my other co-leader, Lady Templeton.” Duncan had the need to make a proper introduction for he wanted no one to forget his lovers’ position in the chain of command.

Ever.

Gliding forward, she squeezed his arm in an intimate way Chris found fastidious, at best.

“Please, sit down.” She gestured at the couch with an apologetic expression Chris found adorable.

He doesn’t have any particular Virt. More rational, the leader gave Farrell a thorough glance as the man plopped back down.

But he has my father same aura pattern. She sat right next to Farrell. And I don’t need to tell you, my love, he was one of the best in his field.

No need reminding me, Princess. “So, Farrell, tell me a bit more about yourself.” That’s why I haven’t been able to replace him so far. “Have you by any chance worked with horses before?”

“Horses?”

From the shy, embarrassed redness covering his face, Chris understood sleeping beauty had centered the man good and proper.

“Oh, I love horses.” Said without any false modesty, his eyes lit up at some of the memories obviously surfacing at the moment. “I was practically born and raised in Blue Oasis’s stables. My father was the stable keeper until his death.”

“And Cecilia never thought of offering you the position?” Visibly curious, Duncan leaned forward on his seat.

“I was very young when my father died, barely eight years old. People thought I wouldn’t remember a single thing he taught me, but I can still hear his voice telling me how to manage them, how to help a mare when she’s foaling—”

“Too bad you got here too late for that,” Chris interrupted tartly. “We could’ve used some expert advice today.”

Demon, you can stop being so sarcastic. The man’s done nothing to you.

Her green eyes flashing at him were a reminder she could read right through him.

And you can stop falling all over him as if he were a god come down from the sky. If she wanted to argue about rights and wrongs, he was ready for her.

“Why?” Confused, Farrell looked to Ylianor.

“My mare just gave birth to a foal early this morning.” Unmistakable the sense of pride in her voice. “And he’s beautiful.”

“I’d love to see him.” Equally unmistakable was Farrell’s true interest.

“So you know about foaling, too.” And if you two don’t cut it out this instant, I’ll send you both to your rooms. “Yet, no one ever asked you to be their stable keeper.”

“Unfortunately not, Leader.” Again, his expression became something indefinably sweet and tender. “I’m too young it seems and despite my father, I don’t have enough experience. For now, David has employed me mostly as a messenger and handyman, which is fine, but it’s not what I want to do with my life.”

“What about if I asked you to stay here at Black Rose and take care of my horses?”

“Here?” The young man glanced around, as though he were not sure of where he was. “At your service?”

“Well, mine and my sister when I’m away at the Hall.”

“You, Co-Leader?” Only natural he should turn to Ylianor, obviously having noticed the striking resemblance.

“Hem…” As sleeping beauty became bright red, Chris would have gone to her and hugged her tight.

“No, not her.” Repressing a chuckle, Duncan’s black eyes gleamed in amusement. “My other sister, Elizabeth, who has gone to Lord Robin Macy’s home to plan her upcoming pledge.” Then, as if on second thought, he found it indispensable to add, “Ylianor is Lord Templeton’s pledge and lives mostly at the Hall. But Black Rose is her native home, so she spends as much time as she can here, when council duties leave her some free time.”

Gee, lover, you didn’t have to go into all the specifics.

Why not? This time, Prince Caldwell did not bother hiding his chortle. It’ll certainly ease Farrell’s decision about taking the job.

Whose fucking side are you on? As soon as it came to him, Chris blocked it, hoping none of the two had picked it up.

“So you’ll be here from time to time.” Like the leader had remarked, the mere idea seemed to improve Farrell’s disposition toward the job offer.

“I’ll be here every chance I get.” Her expression was so smug Chris wished he could wipe it out. “Like yours, my father was the stable keeper here until he died.” Her lips curved maliciously. “And he’s taught me a host of things about his wonderful job, which I’d like to share with you.”

Is this how you plan to hook him, lover? Sarcasm was his only weapon.

“Particularly now that I have a new foal.” That she had gone for the kill was unequivocal, given the excited glint blazing in the dark blue eyes and the iron clamp she tightened on the man’s thigh at the prospect of sharing pointers no doubt.

If that’s what it takes to keep him here, sure. Gaze flicking on the position of her hand, the prince was undoubtedly enjoying himself at Chris’s expenses. Why not?

‘Cause it’s not fucking fair! Another thing he had to swallow down without giving it voice.

“I’d love to.” Farrell was quick to curl his palm over her hand. Then his gaze swung to Duncan. “What about Lady Hurst?” In spite of everything, bafflement clouded the young man’s eyes.

“I’ll talk to her, and I’m sure there won’t be any problem.”

“And David?”

“You don’t have to worry about a thing.” The mere thought of either of the two opposing Duncan’s request was simply ridiculous to anyone who knew how thing stood between them. “I don’t expect any problems from either one.”

“Then will you stay?” Full of anticipation, the green eyes locked in the dark blue ones.

“It’ll be an honor.” He lingered on sleeping beauty just a tad more than he was required. “And a privilege, Leader, to serve you.” He bowed to Prince Caldwell, deferential yet not submissive.

“Wonderful!” Happy as a child, Ylianor clapped her hands and got up. “If you don’t mind, Leader, I’ll show him around.” Tugging on Farrell’s hand, she made him stand up as well. “I want to introduce him to the horses and also show him his quarters, the room above the stables.”

Since when is she deciding things here at Black Rose? Chris could not control himself.

Since it’s evident she wants to be alone with him. “Sure, Princess, go right ahead.” Or would you rather do the honors?

Before Chris had the chance to reply, Ylianor was whisking Farrell away as if to avoid such possibility. “Oh, and…” Midway, she stopped and spun around to fix him alone. “Lord Templeton, be a dear and don’t wait up for me.” She cocked her head in Farrell’s direction. I think I’m going to have my hands full for a while. “All right?” Whirling back, she opened the door and stepped out of the office, the young man at her heels. And probably something else, too. Then she sped out the room, closing the door behind her.
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