It’s never failed to amuse Rhys.
Atros knew the moment Rhys walked through his door. Of course he did, he was a man of society. Rhys is sure the man has been to the palace at the very least. It’s entirely possible Rhys has hosted him at a banquet, not that he would remember one man out of a guest list of hundreds in a single evening.
Nevertheless, it’s Atros’ job description to be discreet, and discreet the man is. He gives Rhys the deference he deserves without bowing and scraping. Rhys appreciates this. It’s hard to get in the mood when he’s HRH Crown Prince Rhys of the Sovereign State of Ivoire.
The rest of Atros’ lineup, however is a little more complicated.
Lilith, he’s not sure about. He has a feeling that if she does know, she wouldn’t fail to use it to her advantage. However, it’s not as though a scandal in the papers would be sufficiently beneficial to her to the extent of lifting her above her current position.
Mercutio probably knows more than he lets on, but like Atros, knows that discretion is a far too fundamental part of his job. Rhys can only guess at the number of dirty secrets Mercutio is privy to. The number of high-ranking officials and nobility he’s seen leaving Mercutio’s quarters while on his (many, frequent — and when did that happen?) visits to the Teahouse beggars belief.
He’s sure Claret has no clue, adorable creature though she is. The irony being, he’s heard her mention the royal family and his own upcoming nuptials on many an occasion to Axis.
That man cannot know. It’s impossible, the way he treats Rhys.
That is, perhaps, part of why Axis is so… attractive to Rhys. The insubordination that he knows would end the moment Axis found out who he was. Issues with authority or not, Axis knows what he can and cannot get away with, beating the Crown Prince to the ground is probably not one of them. Or fucking his sister for that matter.
He likes his job and his head on his shoulders, and were he to find out, he would change.
This is in the back of his mind each time he visits the Teahouse, each time he chooses Axis (which is now exclusive, he realises). But over time, it becomes more and more of an afterthought.
So it’s with a small amount of surprise that when he enters the Teahouse one Thursday evening and meets Axis’ eyes, the other man’s face freezes in shock.
They stand for a moment, frozen as the wind whistles outside.
With a click, the door closes, and the stand-off is shattered.
Axis moves first, tossing aside a paper and dashing up the main staircase to his rooms before Rhys can move from the doorway.
A maid scurries over to take his coat and hat, but he barely notices, dropping the items without caring if she catches them or not.
Striding over to the paper Axis dropped, he picks it up and immediately closes his eyes his heart sinks.
CROWN PRINCE TO WED!
HRH CROWN PRINCE RHYS TO WED LADY GLORIA ELIZABETH AVERILL BUCKLEY IN GLORIOUS SPRING CEREMONY!
Accompanying the article is that god-awful picture he posed for a month ago. Gloria is seated, him behind the chair, both regally grim-faced for the photo. The very picture of a happily betrothed couple.
Placing the paper in the waste-paper bin, he ascends the stairs to Axis’ quarters.
He goes to open the door, but hesitates.
He knocks instead.
“Fuck off!” comes the muffled cry from inside.
He wants to smirk, but can’t seem to muster the condescension to do so.
He tries the door, and it’s unlocked. Pushing the door open, he ducks the pillow thrown at him.
“I said, fuck off!” Axis cries again, throwing another pillow that Rhys catches. “What’s the point of knocking if you just barge right in anyway?!”
Rhys is silent for a moment.
“When were you going to tell me?” Axis asks finally.
“I beg your pardon?” Rhys replies acidly, dropping the pillow onto Axis’ filthy chest of drawers.
“I mean,” Axis bites out, “When were you going to inform me that I was fucking the Crown Prince of Ivoire?”
“I didn’t think it was necessary for you to need a proper name, Alice.” He sneers, crossing his arms.
“You’ve been taking me for a fool this entire time!” Axis turns to him, eyes bright with anger. “This entire time, you’ve been laughing at my fucking ignorance with your rich fam—” he stops for a moment and goes as white as a sheet.
“I fucked the princess.” He says bluntly. Rhys’ eyes narrow dangerously.
His eyes seem to focus on Rhys again. “I fucked your sister. She’s the princess, right?” He looks at the ground. “I’m dead. What if I get her pregnant? They’ll execute— no, they’ll just make me disappear. I’m a dead man…”
“Oh lighten up, Alice,” Rhys says, picking up the pillow again to throw at Axis, albeit half-heartedly. Axis barely notices it bouncing off him.
Rhys walks over to Axis, carefully stepping over clothes from a variety of owners strewn across the floor.
Stopping in front of him, he waits. Axis finally looks at him, eyes defiant.
“I didn’t want a part of your life. Why did you choose me?”
Now that’s a question.
Although he’ll assure that no harm comes to Axis, it had not occurred to him that he was putting him in harms way. Of course there would be an investigation if his sister were to fall pregnant. He would be silenced to cover up the scandal and Evelyn shipped off to a convent somewhere far away. His actions have caused a ripple effect he hadn’t conceived of.
What made him come back, then?
Those amber eyes meet his unwaveringly, waiting an answer.
“Your cock.” He replies bluntly. “It’s rather stunning.”
Axis’s breath puffs out in laughter and he looks at the bedside table.
“You sure know how to flatter a guy, Your Highness.”
Rhys reaches down and grabs Axis by the braids.
“Don’t call me that,” he says and crushes his mouth to Axis’.
The other man is quick to respond, his tongue finding its way into Rhys’ mouth, both of them gasping for air as Rhys shoves Axis down on the bed.
“Right then,” Axis gasps as Rhys tongues his way down his neck. “No titles, got it.”
“And don’t ever fuck Evie again,” Rhys glares at him from his clavicle.
“Got it,” Axis breaths again, one hand snaking its way into Rhys’ hair.
He traces a trail down Axis’ chest, tracing tattoos when he comes across them, working his way down to his hipbone. He bites it gently, earning a groan of appreciation. He lifts one leg over his shoulder and palms Axis’ cock.
“Fuck,” Axis hisses, his hand gripping blue hair tighter.
Taking the cock in his mouth, he works it methodically, bringing Axis to the brink of climax. He looks up through his lashes to meet his gaze, Axis’ eyes half-lidded with lust. They close lazily and he throws his head to the side, chocking out his orgasm.
Spitting discreetly into a hankerchief — he is a gentleman — Rhys crawls up the bed to straddle Axis’ body.
“Don’t ever change,” he says, before kissing him tenderly.
Axis seems a little taken aback, but returns the kiss all the same.
There’s a hesitant knock and Claret’s voice interrupts.
“Uh… Axis? There’s a client, waiting downstairs.”
“I’ll be a moment!” he calls out.
“Right then, Your Royal Douchyness,” he starts, shoving Rhys’ arm. “You need to go.”
Rhys pauses for a moment.
Axis’ eyes narrow. “Just because you’re the fucking prince does not mean you just get to barge in here whenever you like. I have clients.”
A smile cracks across Rhys’ face and he climbs off the bed.
“I’ll return later then.” He says, making his way to the door. He can almost hear Axis’ eyeroll.
“Fuck off.” He says, but there’s no venom in it.
Rhys smirks, shutting the door behind him.
On the stairs he passes Axis’ client.
“Good evening, Lady Rochester.” He nods his head to the flustered-looking woman.
As he opens the door to the street outside, he smiles to himself and there’s a new spring in his step as he walks to his awaiting carriage.