“Erion, stop it!” Brennin protested half-heartedly, batting away his hands before they could start undoing any buttons. “My family is coming for dinner in an hour.”
“And we could be coming in ten minutes, Beauty,” Erion coaxed, ignoring Brennin’s attempts to push him away. “We’ll be done well before they get here.” His mouth dropped to the side of Brennin’s neck as his hands fought to find some bare skin.
Brennin groaned, bracing his hands to push against Erion’s chest but putting no real force behind them. “Ten minutes, but then you’ll want to cuddle because you never let me out of bed right after, and then we’ll need to bathe, and you know you can’t get out of the tub in less than half an hour, and then you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time picking out your clothes and tying your cravat or some such nonsense, not to mention deciding what to do with your hair, and when they do finally arrive, we’ll both be damp and barely dressed and nobody will be wondering why.”
Erion pouted. “So what? I think they realize we are sleeping together.” His pout grew a little sulky as he added, “And I am not as bad as all that.”
Brennin leveled a look of utter disbelief at him. “For a man who spent two hundred years stuck in the form of a hideous beast, you are still remarkably vain about your appearance. Do you think Alamon is still alive? Perhaps he could recast that curse, and this time set it to go off when you finally learn that it is all right to look normal instead of impossibly gorgeous all the time.”
Erion scowled. “I know you liked me better as a beast, but I rather enjoy being able to kiss you,” he replied tartly. “And the sex isn’t bad either.” Still, he stopped trying to get into Brennin’s clothes and stepped away, smoothing down the front of his own shirt. Brennin sighed, recognizing the haughty airs signaling Erion’s attempt to hide that he was hurt.
“I did not like you better as a beast. We have been over this, we have had the big fight, we have had the momentous reconciliation. Can we please let it go now?” Erion sniffed, arms folded across his chest, but Brennin saw the mask of pride on his face ease slightly. “I just don’t understand why you care so much. I could spend now until next Christmas getting ready and still not look half as good as you did when you rolled out of bed this morning. Why do you need to worry about whether your hair looks better braided or undone, or whether you look better in green or blue? Either way, you are so beautiful you practically hurt my eyes.”
Erion scuffed his shoe against the marble flooring. “I always want to look my best for you. And this is your family coming for dinner,” he mumbled. “They are the only people in the world who matter to you, and since you are the only person in the world who matters to me, I want them to think that I’m…” He trailed off with a shrug.
Brennin’s chest tightened with understanding. “You don’t need to worry about winning their approval, Er. You already have all of it you could ever hope for. Even if you did not, it would not matter because I love you and I want you and I don’t care what they think.” He reached up with his good hand to lightly touch his prince’s cheek and smiled slightly. “You know I just wish you would leave me something imperfect to look at so I can feel better about myself. It’s the sort of petty thing we average-looking commoners do to raise our self-esteems.”
Erion lifted his lovely green eyes and returned the smile with a small twist of his own mouth. “I know I was cursed for a long time and so it seems like I had plenty of opportunity to learn my lesson, but there was no one around to teach me to value the correct things until you appeared. Two centuries of living almost entirely alone were not enough to erase the seventeen years of indoctrination that appearances are all that matter, nor did they root out the old habit of thinking my face the best thing I have to offer anyone.”
“And it is certainly a lovely face,” Brennin agreed, kissing him lightly, “but hardly your best or only worthwhile trait. Besides, you are not allowed to seduce your way into my family’s good graces, you know. I am not going to share you, so you had better find another way to win them over.”
Erion stepped back into Brennin’s embrace. “Orin and I seemed to get on decently the last time. We can always bond over seeing how red we can make you if all else fails.”
Brennin’s eyes narrowed. “Would you also like to see how long I can go without touching you? I assure it can be quite a long time, as I have had plenty of practice going without.”
“Not nearly as much as I have,” Erion replied with a lifted brow. Brennin rolled his eyes, eliciting a fond smile from Erion. “You know I don’t mean any harm, Bren. Don’t get into a snit. It’s just cute to see how easily embarrassed you are.”
Brennin half-heartedly protested the press of lips against his for a moment before melting into the kiss. “What about a compromise?” he suggested when they parted. “If you promise not to change your outfit once you’ve dressed and to braid your hair once and then leave it alone, you can have fifteen minutes with me in the bath.”
“Under those conditions, you could surely give me thirty.”
“Twenty.” Brennin grinned.
“Done,” Erion proclaimed, and he proceeded to take the grin off his lover’s face, along with all of his clothes. Fortunately, they made it back on before the invisible servants opened the front door an hour later.
THE ONLY ONE
“That feels so good, Beauty.” Erion groaned and swore under his breath as his lover’s teeth scraped over the sensitive spot at the base of his neck. “How do you know where all the places that make my toes curl are? I thought I was your first.”
“Oh, you are. I just pay close attention during our numerous… study sessions,” Brennin grinned, mouth moving to Erion’s chest. “And I take extensive notes.”
“I think you must. None of my other lovers ever made me feel half as good as you always do.”
Brennin looked up from where he was running his tongue around Erion’s nipple, taking time to bite down just the way Erion liked it before he said, “Please do not remind me about all of your other lovers, especially not while we’re having sex.”
“Not even when I am telling you how much better you are?”
“No, not even then.”
Erion lowered his voice to his most seductive purr. “You don’t want me to tell you that you are the best I have ever had? That no one else has ever made me come as hard, as fast, and as often as you do, or has made me enjoy the foreplay one-tenth as much as you do? That no one else has even made me want him back in my bed a second time, but you make me want to keep you in it forever and keep everyone else out?”
“No, not really,” Brennin replied flatly. “If you have to tell me I am the best because you cannot tell me I am the only, then I would rather not hear about it. I have never dreamed of being the best in bed, just of having someone who wanted me.” He turned his attention back to the bare chest before him, though with markedly less enthusiasm.
Erion tugged gently on his hair until he turned his face up again. “You are the only one I have ever loved, Bren. You know that, right?”
Some of the tension in his body eased. “Yes,” he quietly admitted, “I know. It helps.”
Erion kissed him softly. “You are also the only one I have ever undressed.” When Brennin’s eyes snapped back to his in surprise, he gave a wry smile and said in his haughtiest tone, “The crown prince does not do a servant’s job such as dressing or undressing someone. He does not stoop to performing menial tasks for those beneath his station. He does not even undress himself if he can help it. It is a service he allows his lover or his servant to perform.”
“I am so glad I did not know you as a prince.” Brennin shook his head. “I think I might have killed you.”
Erion chuckled. “I would have deserved it.” He kissed Brennin again, this time with more heat. “Speaking of undressing, do you mind if I finish the task you started?”
Brennin smiled and shook his head, leaning in to press his lips to Erion’s once more. This time it was Erion who sought out all of the places he knew would make the body in his arms shudder and shiver. His favorite moments were the times Brennin’s control slipped enough to let a small noise of enjoyment escape. As he sank to his knees, he let his eyes travel up to his Beauty’s scarred face. He knew others were revolted by the sight of it, but he could no longer imagine why. Eyes closed, jaw clenched with pleasure, biting his lips to keep a moan from escaping, Brennin was beautiful.
“Did you know,” Erion began, surprised by how husky his voice came out, “that you are also the only man I have ever allowed to come in my mouth?” He nuzzled the hot cock before him, letting his tongue come out to flick across the tip.
Brennin’s dark eyes snapped open. “Really?” Erion read the fierce possessive pleasure beneath the surprise, and it made him ache to be claimed even further.
“Another thing I was taught a crown prince should not demean himself to do,” he murmured. Hesitantly, he continued, “There’s another first I’ve been meaning to try with you, if you’re amenable to it.”
“Oh?” Brennin replied with impressive composure. Erion would have been panting, begging, thrusting into the willing mouth inches away from his cock if their positions had been reversed. Brennin just stood, a little more rigidly than normal, breathing a little more studiously measured. Erion wrapped his lips around him and sucked once, hard. Brennin swallowed. “What’s that?”
Erion pushed himself to his feet so he could lean in and murmur in Brennin’s ear, “No one ever tops the crown prince. But you could.”
He felt the surprise ripple up Brennin’s spine. “Really? You actually want me to…?”
He nodded. “If you want.” But he already knew the answer from the widening of his lover’s eyes, the hand that tightened around his hip and then carefully relaxed, the exceptional blankness of his face. When Brennin remained silent, Erion ran his tongue around the shell of his ear and added, “No one’s ever taken me that way before, but I want you to. Be my first, Beauty.”
Brennin let out a ragged breath. Erion suppressed his smile of victory, waiting for him to accept the invitation. “I don’t think I have the strength or balance, Er.” He nodded to his withered limbs. “Not that I don’t want to, but I am not sure I can. They will not hold me up for long or with any level of coordination.”
“Hmm.” Erion sucked Brennin’s earlobe into his mouth while he rethought his plans slightly. He nibbled lightly on Brennin’s jaw as he suggested, “Just lay back and let me take care of things, then.”
The absolute trust in those brown eyes was always Erion’s undoing. He bent his head to give a fierce kiss, walking Brennin backwards to the bed as he finished removing his own pants, pushing him down and helping him wriggle to the middle of the mattress, laughing a little as they got themselves into a tangle of limbs and sheets. At last Brennin was splayed out across the bed, waiting for him. Erion took a moment to appreciate the view, leaning in to press his mouth to a few favorite spots before reaching for the oil beside the bed.
Once it was in his hands, he wasn’t quite sure what to do next. “Umm, do you want to?” He held out the vial a little. “Or do you want me to?”
Brennin’s breath puffed out in a laugh. “It is kind of nice not to be the one who doesn’t have a clue what to do,” he confessed, grinning.
Feeling his ears burn slightly, Erion groused, “I know exactly what to do from your side. And in theory what to do from this end of things. It is just that theory and practice are a little different. And I do not know what you want.”
Brennin ran his good hand up Erion’s thigh. “I want you to enjoy this.” He grabbed the bottle from Erion’s hand. “And I want to be the one to touch you. Though maybe next time I’ll watch instead.”
Erion’s face broke into a smile. “Whatever you want, Beauty.”
“Come up a bit, then. I can’t reach.” He fumbled with the stopper for a moment, his scarred hand having difficulty grasping the bottle firmly. Erion gently took it back and tipped a little onto Brennin’s fingers. “Thanks.” Brennin’s cheeks were a little red at the embarrassment of needing help, so Erion dipped down and kissed him.
“The pleasure will be all mine.” He winked.
Brennin’s eyebrow lifted. “Hardly all yours, I should think.” Then a finger was sliding down and in, and Erion couldn’t quite hold back his gasp of surprise. Brennin’s chest rose and fell rapidly between his knees. “Definitely not all yours. Gods and goddesses, you are hot.”
Erion tried not to jerk as Brennin swirled his finger experimentally. He did have to take a deep breath when the finger slid in further, biting his lip. He hadn’t known quite what to expect, but this was somewhat different than anything he had imagined.
“You have never looked sexier,” Brennin rasped.
It was that hot gaze on his face, the huskiness in the voice, that prompted Erion to say, “Another?”
“As you wish, Highness.” Brennin slid in a second finger and Erion’s mouth fell slightly open in a pant.
They continued until Erion decided he’d had enough preparation and enough foreplay, and he hastily dumped some oil onto his own fingers. He pulled himself off Brennin’s fingers, slid back, and slicked up the waiting cock. Then he lined himself up, took a deep breath, and lowered himself.
“Oh!” he gasped.
“Yeah,” Brennin panted, cursing a bit. “Gods, that feels good. You all right?”
Erion nodded, having to close his eyes against the unfamiliar sensations for a moment. “Ready?”
“Damn,” Brennin gasped when it was all over, a very little while later. “And I thought you looked good pounding me into the bed.”
Erion grinned. “My performance was acceptable, then?”
Brennin rolled his eyes. “No. I will require a repeat performance before dinner. Just as soon as I can pull my wits together.”
“Before dinner?” Erion let his head fall back to the pillow. “You do realize I am not seventeen anymore, don’t you?”
Brennin laughed. “Sorry, old man. How could I forget?” He turned his head for a kiss, sliding his good arm around Erion's waist, pulling him close, and closing his eyes.