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Treasured Prince by Yamila Abraham Cover by Feno Copyright © 2012 Yaoi Press. * * * * *

On the second day of prince Alatore’s journey a flying demon dove out of the sky

and snatched him off the back of his horse. As the monster carried him away with great

sweeps of his black wings Alatore noticed the dark scales over his body. He remembered

a wraith he saw illustrated in one of his books that had the same face. That brought to

mind a description of perverse acts he’d read a few too many times. He wondered if the

very demon fiend of the stories now held him. He lamented the prospect of such an ugly

demon lover. Though, how could any creature live up to his elaborate fantasies?

After daydreaming for several moments Alatore realized he probably should have

drawn his sword to fight it. The trees diminished to the size of cotton balls below him. If

he broke free now he’d drop to his death.

Alatore gave an exasperated sigh. He loathed how calm he felt. Had his life truly

become so wretched that even this didn’t excite him? He felt resignation rather than

terror. At least now he didn’t have to proceed to his cousin’s castle for the knight

training he’d so dreaded.

“Did you faint?” the wraith demon thing said with a voice that caused scary

reverberations in his middle.

“Nope,” Alatore said. “Just enjoying the view.”

After a moment of perplexed silence the demon snorted. “Good, woman.

Hysterics wouldn’t help you, anyway.”

Alatore rolled his eyes. Really? Even a magical demon thing couldn’t tell his

gender? His angelic face of alabaster skin framed by gleaming tresses of black hair

caused him to be him mistaken for a woman almost daily. At the inn outside his village

he let the confusion persist to see how far men would go. The frequent rejection once his

manhood sprang free became tedious. Would the wraith drop him if he cleared up the

matter forthwith? He decided not to test it.

“So…where are we headed?”

“Listen, wench.” The demon had a sharp, impatient tone. “Your purpose is to

cure my master from his doldrums. Be obedient and you’ll be inopportuned but a single

night. Lord Vartan has potions that will bring you to the heights of ecstasy in his bed. If

you’re a virgin he even has a cream that will renew your hymen in the morning. Be wise

and submit. Understood?”

Alatore nodded while considering. Perhaps this Lord Vartan would better match

his ideal.

A gleaming white castle perched on an icy mountain top came into view. Alatore

finally felt a tendril of excitement.

“That portcullis…this looks like something from the Capulance Age. What’s it

made of? Marble?”

The demon lowered his head to sneer at him. “You concern yourself with

architecture at a time like this? What a strange woman you are.”

Alatore felt a heated flare of annoyance. Is it marble or isn’t it? He grit his teeth

and tried to swallow the emotion. The demon had a point—he probably should concern

himself with more pressing matters.

He set him down in front of ivory domed doors that rose tall enough to touch the

clouds above them. Alatore gaped. Then he realized the massive size of the monster

next to him. His wings folded into his back and magically transformed into some manner

of ragged black cape. He placed a large clawed hand on the prince’s shoulder and

ushered him in.

Alatore crossed a vast foyer flanked by staircases. The wraith brought him up the

left side. He walked down a wide mezzanine to a seemingly arbitrary room. The demon

pushed him in and closed the door behind him.

He stood blinking at the threshold of the large bedchamber. Tables and shelves of

antiquities obscured the tile floor. Alatore edged his way through one narrow path to

marvel at a three tiered lamp. He slid his fingers over the golden filigree.

“My word.”

Next to this sat a minx goddess statuette from the Lynette region. Alatore gasped

and touched its bosom. In the row beyond this stood a massive vase nearly twice his

height with the frosted glass technique perfected by master Blannex Chang.

“Oh my God!”

Alatore looked for a path to get to it. He nearly leapt out of his skin when a hand

came on his shoulder.

“You find something exciting?”

Alatore looked. Lord Vartan stood half a foot taller than him, but had a much

broader frame. Alatore noted his pointed ears and ashen skin and realized at once he

wasn’t human. With radiant long blond hair, dense muscles, and an elegant tattoo tracing

over his shirtless body he suddenly became Alatore’s new ideal. The demon’s dark eyes

captivated him. The way he loomed over him made Alatore’s stomach feel as though it

dropped. At the same time he saw a spark of intelligence in the somber face that was

eerily compelling. It took effort for Alatore to look away long enough to compose a

sentence.

“Is that one of the seven minx goddesses?”

Vartan turned to where he pointed slowly. “You’re…familiar?”

Giddiness overtook Alatore’s fear. “My God, yes! I read the seven allegories

about a thousand times. That looks just like the visage of Criana.”

“That’s exactly what it is.” A touch of excitement betrayed the demon’s icy

façade. “It’s the original casting from 7,000 years ago. The very one forged in the Vultic

cavern.”

Alatore covered his mouth with both hands. He felt like crying. He’d never

known such overwhelming joy. If he’d been more comfortable around Vartan he would

have hopped up and down.

The demon led him further down the path. “If you’re a fan of Lynette antiquities,

then take a look at this…”

“I’m a fan of Lynette, Capulance, Duran, Veevoff, Mangulsance—“

Vartan looked back with his brow raised in interest. “Veevoff? Really?”

“Veevoff isn’t entirely obscene.”

Vartan spoke over him. “I agree.”

“There’s some educational verses. Every free second I have I’m devouring

another book, though. I can’t believe what I’m seeing here. It’s like a museum of

everything that’s ever fascinated me.”

The demon smiled. The way his face creased told Alatore this didn’t happen

often. Vartan took his hand to lead him further.

“Nagog has outdone himself. I thought he was going to bring me some random

wench. I didn’t expect anyone as bright as you.”

Vartan gave him haphazard tour down the aisle. He headed for the other Lynette

antiquity, but became side tracked by a dozen objects along the way. Alatore couldn’t

help but interrupt him whenever he saw something that made his heart sing. After an

hour he felt as comfortable with Vartan as with an old friend. He even made the demon

laugh for a few scant seconds. They exited the aisle to a large circular bed partly hidden

by flowing draperies. Alatore became enraptured by the brocade.

“Is this native Banshaw weaving?”

Vartan wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him against his body. Alatore

froze with shock. The demon locked his dark gaze on him.

“I’m keeping you.”

He brought a hand to the back of Alatore’s head and kissed him.

The prince’s eyes widened. He felt his alarm should have lasted longer than it

did. Nagog (his demon kidnapper) had warned him of this eventuality from the very

start. The threat remained in the back of his head all through Vartan’s tour.

The prince hesitated long enough for Vartan to deepen the kiss. He pressed their

bodies together. Alatore flinched, but still didn’t get on with his requisite resistance.

After fantasizing about scenes like this it was hard not to cave to the reality. Something

felt right when it shouldn’t have. Vartan smelled good. The power behind his touch had

a confidence that extinguished protest. Alatore’s chest grew warm and he felt a flutter in

his belly. Worst of all he grew tired—weakened the way he had when he kissed Davide,

his first crush, at the winter solstice. That same spark hit him now. It wasn’t love, but it

was that silly idiot feeling that indicated love might be possible. They were probably

compatible horoscope signs. Their Mortan Bloodstones probably glowed when they were

beside each other. If they tried to cross the lovers’ bridge of Raltidly…

Well, Vartan pushed him back onto the bed, so he should probably do something.

Alatore broke the kiss and turned his head away. He didn’t know if he could find

words if he gazed into the demon’s eyes.

“I’m a man.”

“I figured that out after ten minutes. I’ve decided not to care.”

He steered Alatore’s chin back toward him and resumed kissing. This time he

moved his hands beneath his cloak. Deft fingers searched over his body. Alatore’s face

bore distress. His stomach felt so fluttery. Every pleasant touch sapped his strength

further.

Vartan threw off Alatore’s cloak and then slid up his tunic. The prince grabbed

his hand.

“Erm…wait.”

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