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“Patience,” Mavros said with twinkling eyes, “is a virtue.”

“And you of House Shahrizai are a virtuous lot, aren't you?”

We are,” Mavros lazily corrects. “You wound me, cousin. Do you not think us virtuous?”

“You certainly are modest,” I cannot resist teasing, and he gives me that full, heartbreaking laughter as he swings his impressive mane of gleaming black braids back over one shoulder.

“Modesty – why pretend that you do not know how well you can look if you set your heart to it? It hardly seems virtuous to me to lie.”

I smile and shake my head, but a tug on my hair that wavers just on that delicious threshold where pain becomes too much pain stills me. It makes me bristle, too, for just as my cousin I am made to deliver pain – not to bear it. And oh, he knows it, which is why he laughs yet again and leans down to trace my ear with his warm tongue, making me shiver and gasp.

“Lying is no virtue, thus modesty cannot be. But patience is, my prince – and you will show patience now, or I shall teach you another family secret – how best to discipline unruly Shahrizai lordlings.”

“Oh, there is such a secret?” I ask, raising a brow, and Mavros punishes me with another ungentle tug on a slender braid.

“Silence, now – if I cannot teach you patience this way, I will have to employ a different way.”

I laugh softly and tilt my head back to ease the pull on my hair. “And what way would that be, my Lord Shahrizai?”

A sudden harsh tug has me wince and brings our faces in full contact. There is a wicked smirk on Mavros' lips, and my own part instinctively at the caress of his breath.

“Clearly, this does not work for you,” he purrs. “But then, those of our blood mostly prove more difficult to tame. And you will see today how very good I am at taming a willful plaything... I am sure that a visit to the dungeons of House Shahrizai will prove educative even for you.”

“For – for me?” I ask, my voice weak as I shiver, though Mavros is very well aware that only a small part of it is fear.

He laughs, not unkindly, and cups my swollen phallus through my thin breeches, idly massaging until I forget my resolve and lean into his touch, gasping his name in a plea.

“Patience, my prince, remember?” he says wickedly, though he opens my breeches and helps me to step out of them, He kneels down briefly before me, swirling his tongue around the head of my phallus, teasing the small opening until I tremble and feel release approaching, and then my maddening, beautiful cousin produces a leather thong from somewhere and wraps it securely around the base to keep me erect and unable to climax.

“Mmm, so pretty!” he purrs and draws me appreciatively deep into his throat, tasting me as if I were a sweet while I moan and tremble.

“But – the lesson is patience. And though I greatly enjoy playing with you like this, I think the lesson will prove more memorable if you aren't quite as... distracted as you are when I use you as the object of my demonstration. You will get to watch first, my lovely prince. Observe how patient a Shahrizai lordling can be.”

He winks at me, that alluring, slightly mocking smile on his tempting lips, then strides to one of the kneeling servants to pull up a dark-haired beauty by his hair.

“I paid his virgin price,” he tells me conversationally, later when that same beauty is writhing on his lap with whimpers of despair, his own phallus bound as cruelly as mine, his back and thighs decorated with hot, red welts. My throat is dry with need and lust, but Mavros has challenged me to sit there unmoving, to watch while he tests his favorite plaything's patience. Every time the pretty servant moves, my breath stops at the display before me, at the way Mavros' phallus stretches him so beautifully, my cousin dark with blood and slick with oil, the servant's small muscle stretched wide around him, gleaming with oil, making me shiver with the desire to touch, to press inside, to force Mavros' plaything to please me just as well.

My cousin smiles at me as if he can read my thoughts, but then, those are not so different to guess for one of my kin in this setting.

“His virgin price,” he repeats wickedly, “and I haven't allowed another to play with him so far. But if you show now the patience that befits a prince with the blood of our lord Kushiel in his veins, maybe you'd like to have him as your reward? Would you not like that, my prince? To leave your own marks on his thighs, his back? To mark his throat with your mouth? To come inside his sweet, hot arse while he whimpers and clings to you, all helpless, all yours?”

I shudder while the servant moans, tightening convulsively around his master's phallus, and Mavros laughs delightedly even while he finds release, the two of them more beautiful at that moment than anything else I have ever seen.