Once upon a time, in a land where dominance and submission were a way of life for every subject, Prince Jared the Fair had reached the age where he should be bonded to a mate, a submissive that would share his life and fulfill his every desire. But for all his travels, for all the balls and parties he’d attended where submissives would happily kneel at his feet hoping to be chosen, he’d not yet met anyone he wanted to be bonded with for the rest of his life.
His parents began to despair that he would ever meet a suitable person, wondering if it was time to suggest an arranged bonding.
Jared insisted that his soul mate was out there, somewhere. He just had to find that special person. But secretly, he wondered if he was capable of falling in love. He’d spent time with many men and women, all beautiful, intelligent, willing submissives. He’d satisfied his need to dominate, and given them nights they would remember always, but never once had he felt drawn to anyone enough to bond with them.
What Jared didn’t realize was that his heart was already broken, and until it healed, he wasn’t capable of love. It had broken when he lost his soul mate, although given he was only eight at the time, Jared had only known then that the boy was his best friend in all the world.
Sixteen Years Earlier
Jensen of Ackles was the son of the King’s oldest friend and trusted advisor, a wealthy philanthropist who’s wife had died in childbirth. He was born two months before Jared, and the babes were raised together from before they could walk.
The Ackles small estate bordered the palace grounds, and was a safe place for two small boys to play, under the watchful eyes of guards and nannies. When they were four, Jensen’s father took them to see the tree house that he and the king had played in together when they were children. The boys immediately claimed it for themselves, and spent many happy days there over the next few years.
A month after Jensen turned eight, his father married again. Jensen was never fond of his stepmother, and refused to call her mother, much to her disgust. She brought her own two sons to live with Jensen and his father in the castle they called home. Mike was a quiet boy, but Chad was a bully, and more than once, Jared found Jensen angry or upset over something wicked that Chad had done. Then one day, Jensen was in tears when they met. Chad had been cruel to his cat, and now the animal had disappeared. Jensen feared the worst.
Jared held Jensen tight and promised that as soon as they were old enough, they would be bonded so he could make sure no-one ever made Jensen cry again. The next time Jensen’s stepmother was mean to him, he told her about Jared’s promise, but she laughed at him, and told him that as soon as the prince grew up, he’d forget about Jensen. Who would want such a sniveling brat for a mate?
Then Jensen’s father began to ail. Within a matter of weeks, he was bedridden, his breathing becoming more and more labored. Jensen clung to Maggie, the cook who had practically raised him, and buried his face in her neck as she held him. The day after his father died, Jensen ran through the woods towards the palace. He climbed up into the tree house and curled up, sadness filling him. His father was gone, his stepmother was going to sell the castle, and she had dismissed Maggie.
Jared climbed up into the tree house, and held Jensen while he told him what had happened.
“I’ll ask my father if you can come and live with us!” Jared was certain that there’d be no objections. His parents had always loved Jensen, and he’d seen the looks of distaste they’d often given Jensen’s stepmother.
The friends parted, both in high spirits. Jensen had left an old worn teddy bear behind, so Jared took it with him, thinking he would give it back to Jensen the next day when he arrived to live at the palace.
When Jared got home, he asked his father if Jensen could live with them now he didn’t have his father to look after him. The king nodded, saying that he would speak to the queen. They were both very fond of Jensen, and felt that it was only right that they take him in, stepmother or not.
In the morning, Jared bounced out of bed, impatient to let Jensen know that he could live in the palace. He raced downstairs to where his parents usually sat on the terrace eating breakfast, but there was no-one there. Breakfast had been laid, but his parents were nowhere to be seen.
Jared picked up a pastry and munched on it as he wandered back through the royal quarters, looking for his parents, getting more and more concerned at the lack of people going about their regular early morning routines.
He looked down into the courtyard, and saw Jensen’s stepmother. She was clutching a bloody rag, and there were tears on her cheeks. Standing opposite her, the King had the Queen in his arms, his face grim as she sobbed against his chest.
Jared ran down the stairs, coming to a halt in the door way, and slowly walking towards his parents. The rag that Jensen’s stepmother held in her hand was the tunic that Jensen had been wearing when he and Jared had parted the day before.
She was shaking her head, and Jared heard one of the courtiers whisper “ripped apart”, and another said “wolves” under his breath. Jared reached up to tug on the King’s sleeve.
When his father looked down at him, his eyes were bright with tears, and Jared’s teared up too. He’d never seen his father cry. Suddenly, both his parents wrapped their arms around him, and whisked him back into the castle, away from scrutiny.
“Jared …” his father began, but stalled.
“Is Jensen alright?” Jared asked, his voice small and frightened.
“Oh honey …”
“No!” Jared yelled, then broke down sobbing. “Jensen was gonna come live with us. I told him it would be okay. He didn’t like it at home, he was gonna come live with us.” Jared gulped out as his mother held him tight.
“It’s okay, Jared, it’s okay.”
But Jared shook his head. If Jensen was gone …?
“No, it’s not, it’s never gonna be okay.”
That was the moment Jared’s heart broke. The sharp spike of grief that tore him open that day dulled over the years, but the ache in his chest from his wounded heart remained. He carried it with him as he grew until it was so much a part of who he was that he didn’t remember a time when it wasn’t there.
Jared killed his first wolf at fourteen.
He’d hunted before, and had been tutored in using weapons by the best warriors in the land, but this hunt was different.
The horn blared, and the dogs took off through the forest, tongues lolling from their mouths, loping through the trees with the scent in their noses. He’d expected to be hunting deer, but when a wolf had been spotted, Jared saw his chance to take revenge for Jensen’s death. As they chased it through the trees, Jared drew his bow and shot an arrow which flew straight and true, hitting the wolf in its side. It yelped, stumbled, then regained its footing and ran on. But the dogs had caught the scent of blood, and they wanted the taste of it too. Now they ran with purpose, almost silent as they slowly began to catch up with their prey.
Up ahead, Jared caught sight of a dark brown pelt as the animal ran, and he spurred his horse on. He forgot about the rest of the hunting party. All he could think of was that wolves had torn Jensen apart, and now he could make one of them pay. Up ahead, the dogs began to howl, a sign that they had the animal cornered. Jared growled. He wanted the kill for himself.
Faster he rode, ducking under tree boughs and trusting that his horse wouldn’t fail him. Together, they galloped into a clearing to find the dogs surrounding the wolf, baying and snapping at it. The wolf snapped back, it’s desperation to survive driving it to try and keep the pack at bay, even as its strength began to fail. The wolf’s flank was covered in blood which now dripped from the wound the arrow had caused. The wooden shaft still protruded, but the rest had snapped off as the animal raced for its life.
Jared threw himself from his horse, knowing the rest of the party was close behind him. This was his kill, and no one was going to take it from him. His pulled his short sword from where it hung in the scabbard around his waist and waded into the sea of dogs surrounding the wounded animal. The heat of the chase still on them, some of the dogs snapped at him, but he pushed them away, and hauled another back by its collar. The wolf turned, trying desperately to stay on its feet, but it was exhausted and weak from blood loss. As Jared took another step towards it, it threw itself at him, jaws wide, eyes crazed, but Jared thrust his sword forward, and impaled the animal on it, watching as, with a whimper, the light died in its eyes. It slumped forward, the dead weight pushing Jared over.
He scrambled to his feet, pushing the wolf away and turned to find the whole party watching him. His father’s eyes were grave, and held a sadness that Jared didn’t understand, while the rest of the party seemed awed by the boy’s first kill.
One of the hunters stepped forward, and nodded at Jared, grasping his wrist, and raising his hand, still clutching his bloodied sword, aloft. The hunting party erupted with cheers and clapping as the hunter walked over to the wolf and cut out its heart. He painted stripes of blood on Jared’s cheek with his fingers and grinned at the boy.
“Tonight, you feast on its heart.”
Later, at the feast that followed every hunt, the same huntsman presented Jared with the heart of the wolf he’d killed. It had been lightly roasted to make the meat more palatable for the youngster, but Jared could still taste the strong copper tang of blood when he bit into it.
In the years that followed, Jared grew up strong and tall, taller even than his father, but he never forgot Jensen. He became obsessed with hunting wolves and grew to relish the taste of raw wolf heart. Each one he devoured, he dedicated to Jensen’s memory.
Jared worked hard in between the hunts he was drawn to, learning how to rule a kingdom, and becoming quite the diplomat when the situation required it. And when he needed to satisfy his urge to dominate, he knew exactly where to go.
The party was in full swing when Jared arrived at the club. He strode through the doors, his guards nodding at security at the entrance who stood back to let them through. The young prince’s three friends and two guards were dressed in similar clothes, and to the casual observer, it would have been impossible to tell who was who. But the reality was that no-one was paying them any attention, not with Jared in the room. The prince stood taller than most men, and he exuded confidence and power, so much so that several subs in the room fell to their knees automatically, unable to contain themselves in his presence.
The black silk mask that covered the top half of his face let everyone there know that he was there anonymously. He may have been unmistakable, but that night he was a man, a dom of the highest order; he was not there as a prince.
Which meant he wanted to play. A thrilled ripple passed through the crowd as Jared slipped the wolf fur cloak from his shoulders and handed it to one of his entourage. They walked to the raised area at the back of the club and took their seats at their regular table. Drinks were ordered, flagons of ale and short glasses of a fiery spirit from lands to the south. Jared allowed himself one of each, wanting his senses to be sharp if he saw anyone worth playing with.
On the dance floor, doms and subs danced, bodies writhing together. Jared looked for the subs wearing red ribbons around their necks, a sign that they were free to be claimed for the night or more. His gaze fell on one in particular. He was tall, his body lithe with sleek muscles and pale blue eyes stared back at Jared. Once he knew he had the prince’s attention, he lowered his eyes respectfully and continued dancing, losing himself in the music.
Jared watched for a few minutes more, then got to his feet and walked towards the stranger. He didn’t waste time dancing. He took the man’s hand, getting a nod of consent before he led him away to one of the back rooms.
The dark haired man, slipped to his knees as the door closed behind them, and bowed his head.
“Limits?” Jared asked.
Jared heard what wasn’t said. “For you, no limits.” Every sub he’d been with since the age of seventeen had said the same thing. It had given Jared the opportunity to experience every act, kink and perversion he could dream up, some of which he’d never try again, but there was no negotiating, no beginnings that would lead him on a journey with the sub he was with. It was all his for the taking. He knew that many doms would jump at the chance to be in his position, but frankly, he wanted a challenge.
That wasn’t something he’d be getting that night, but the man at his feet was attractive, and went willingly to the cross on the far wall. Jared took his shirt off, and flogged Jake’s ass until it was red and radiating heat. Tears leaked from Jake’s eyes as Jared pulled his tender ass cheeks apart and fucked him roughly, making Jake beg over and over for the privilege of coming before he closed his large hand around the man’s rampant cock and making him spurt all over the wood he was tied to. Jared followed, filling Jake’s tight ass. It was satisfying, but even as he was untying Jake and talking him back from the endorphin rush he was still high on, he felt empty. Jared settled Jake on the bed and held him for a while before he left.
His mood darkened on the short journey home to the palace, and his companions knew him well enough not to comment on it. As they rode into the stable courtyard, a messenger ran towards them.
“Your Highness.” The stout man bowed low. “I bring a message from the village of Easterbrook. A wolf has been threatening their flocks, and it has grown bolder, entering homes in the dead of night.”
“Has anyone been hurt?”
“No, your Highness, but the village elders fear it is only a matter of time. They sent me to beg for your help. It is no ordinary wolf. It is pure white, and bigger than any wolf that’s been seen in those parts.”
“A white wolf?” Jared never needed much incentive to hunt a wolf, but his interest was heightened as he’d never seen a white wolf before. “I’ll ride for Easterbrook in the morning.”
“Thank you, your Highness.”
Jared dismounted and handed the reins to a stable boy.
“Make sure Beauty is saddled and waiting for me at eight.”
“Yes, your Highness.” The boy led the horse away as Jared turned to bid his companions goodnight.
“We’ll be ready at eight.” One of the guards stated, but Jared shook his head.
“No, I’m riding out on my own.”
The way his jaw was set, there would be no arguing with him, so the guard nodded. Jared strode back to his rooms, where he spent most of the night looking out over the tops of the trees towards the old manor house Jensen had lived in.
As Jared approached the door of their private chambers, one of the guards opened it while the other stepped through to announce him, something that Jared always thought was excessive, but it seemed to amuse his mother.
"His Royal Highness, Prince Jared the Fair."
The guard, one Jared knew well, did his best to hide the smirk on his face as Jared walked past, rolling his eyes.
"Jared!" His mother hugged him tight. "What did we say about going off on hunts by yourself?"
"I'm a grown man, mother, and I can take care of myself."
"That's not the point. You're the heir to the kingdom. If one of your wolves rips out your throat, your uncle is next in line to inherit, and you know that he's mad as a box of frogs."
"And there I was, thinking it was because you couldn't bear to lose me."
That earned Jared a cuff to the back of the head from the diminutive Queen. She took her place at the King’s side, slipping neatly to her knees to kneel on a silk covered cushion.
“Jared.” The King pushed a plate of pastries towards him as Jared helped himself to coffee. “It really is time you chose a mate.” He held his hand up as Jared began to bluster. “You have a responsibility to the kingdom, and besides that, your mother and I want you to be happy.”
“I haven’t met anyone,” Jared insisted.
“This hunt takes you to Easterbrook, yes?”
“In that case, you have plenty of time to think about your future. When you return, it’ll be time for you to make some decisions.”
“Yes, Father.” Jared knew better than to argue with his father when he was lecturing him.
“Now, you’ve got a long journey ahead, so eat up!”
That was a command Jared had no problem following.
The more he killed, the easier it came to him. Privately, his friends wondered about his obsession, and how focused he became when he was hunting.
Jared reached Easterbrook two days later, and stayed in what passed for an inn in the village, talking to the villagers about the animal.
“Wolves don’t usually bother the village,” the elder explained, “they stay in the deep forest and don’t cross the boundary. There’s plenty of game for them there, and the Wolf King makes sure they leave us alone as long as we also respect the boundary. Yet this one gets bolder by the day.”
“The Wolf King? That’s a legend told to babes.”
“No, your Highness, he’s very real. Those of us who live close to the boundary know this to be true.”
Jared went to bed that night with a new goal in his heart. To find the Wolf King and make him pay for Jensen’s death. Maybe then he could rest.
The next morning, Jared left his horse behind, and walked into the woods alone to track the wolf. He made no promises to the elder not to cross the boundary, and the man’s face was full of worry when Jared strode away.
The wolf was easy to track. It was as if it were an overgrown pup, crashing through the trees and leaving a wide trail behind. Jared reached the boundary stones and paused, looking to the right and then the left at the stones that disappeared into the trees on either side of him. With a deep breath, he stepped between two of them, both taller than he was. He’d not expected the forest beyond to be different, but it was. A deep stillness surrounded him, reminding him of the stories he and Jensen had heard when they were tiny. Of the ancient forest filled with fantastical creatures and trees that could talk. He shrugged off a feeling of being watched, and pushed through the trees. It was harder to make headway, and the trail he’d been following had disappeared.
He walked for another half an hour, stooping in places to get through the trees, when he heard a low growl. He unsheathed his sword as he turned, coming face to face with a wolf. It snarled at him, teeth bared, eyes full of hatred. Jared took a step towards it, understanding how dangerous a healthy wolf could be, but he slowly swung back round when he heard other growls. Not one or two, but several, all belonging to the wolves that were now surrounding him. One leapt at him from behind. He heard it move and turned sharply, his sword arm rising, but another struck his side, and a third hit him, driving him to the ground. His head glanced off a rock, and his world went black. His last thought was that at least he’d be with Jensen soon.
Jared woke slowly, face down on sweet grass. It took him a moment to realize that he wasn’t where he’d fallen when the wolves attacked. He assessed his situation before he moved. All he could see was that he was lying in a clearing, and there were two wolves sitting at the edge of it watching him. He felt sore all over, and wondered if they had dragged him to where he was now. He took a chance and moved his head so he could look around the clearing. On the opposite side to the two wolves standing guard, three more sat watching him. Two sat behind the biggest one, which had jet black fur apart from a white blaze on its chest. It looked for all the world as if the two smaller wolves were guarding the big one, just as his Father’s guard did in his throne room.
“Every king has his guard.”
Jared blinked, and shook his head. Someone had spoken to him. The big wolf got to its feet and padded towards Jared. It stopped and gazed at him intently.
“You are not imagining things, you can hear me. I am the Wolf King, and you, young human, have crossed the boundary to hunt where it is forbidden for you to do so.”
“Wolves cross into my world all the time …”
“And you hunt them down and kill them, yes? Why should I spare your life? Especially when you take such pleasure from killing my kind.”
“How do you know of me?”
“How can I not? You slaughter every wolf you come across. You seek us out, take our lives, wear our skins and feast on our hearts. Not one wolf you have killed ever harmed a human. Most were youngsters, rebelling against authority by crossing the boundary to taste life on the other side before rejoining their families. But you killed them.”
“So now you’re going to kill me?” Jared asked.
“No. If I kill you, your Father will cross the boundary to avenge your death, and slaughter more of my people.”
Jared sat up, and the wolf padded closer.
“I know why you hunt us. You believe that we took something from you a long time ago, and you kill us out of revenge.”
“Your kind killed my friend. He was only a child and they ripped him apart!”
The wolf didn’t flinch away from Jared as he yelled. It looked deep into his eyes, so deep that Jared felt as if the wolf was staring into his very soul.
“Your heart broke when the child was taken from you, and it bleeds still. He was your soul mate and it doesn’t matter how many wolf hearts you devour, they will never heal the wound. What if I were to tell you that he didn’t die?”
“I would say you were lying!”
“Wolves do not lie.” The Wolf King turned and barked out a command.
An older wolf emerged from the trees, the oldest Jared had ever seen. It’s pelt was grey and it walked slowly, as if it’s muscles weren’t as strong as they had once been. It sat down close to the Wolf King, and respectfully bowed it’s head.
The Wolf King gently nuzzled the side of the grey wolf’s face, and it looked up at Jared. Now a different voice spoke in Jared’s head.
“Years ago, I slipped over the boundary. I was barely fully grown and wanted to see the world beyond. I ran for miles, until I came to the outskirts of your city. The woods around were full of rabbits, and I spent many months eating my fill, and watching humans go about their business. I saw you, and the other boy, often. You had a den up in the trees and you played together like pups in the sunlight. I grew fond of both of you, so when the boy was distressed one day, I followed him home. That night, a female slipped into the woods with a scrap of cloth in her hand. She pulled a rabbit from one of the traps set amongst the vegetables and smeared blood all over it.”
Jared sat back down with a thud as the wolf continued.
“Humans were coming and going from the place all night, but I didn’t see the boy again, and left soon after to come home.”
“He wasn’t killed,” Jared whispered.
“No. He lives.”
“How can you know that? Even if he didn’t die then, how can you know he’s alive? And why should I believe you? You want to protect your people from me, so how can I know that you’re telling the truth?”
In his head, laughter rumbled. “I am the Wolf King and I know many things. I know that if he were dead, then your heart would know it too, and would slowly begin to heal. And I know that you will never find peace until you find him. All I can give you is my word, and I have told you that wolves do not lie.”
“How do I find him? Where do I look?” Jared was still in shock at the thought that Jensen could still be alive.
“My daughter will accompany you back to your city. She will help you find him. Then you will outlaw the hunting of wolves throughout your land.”
A wolf with a pure white coat trotted out of the woods and regarded Jared with distain.
“You would trust me not to kill your daughter.”
“No, but she insists on going with you.”
“How will I find him?”
“You are a hunter. You must set a trap for the one who can heal your heart. But know this. There is enchantment at work. Memories are easily manipulated. It doesn’t take a spell to make someone believe they are someone else, but you might have to break a spell to make him remember you.”
Jared eyed the Wolf King, but the animal was already padding away, leaving him alone with the white wolf Jared had been hunting. She trotted to the edge of the clearing and looked back over her shoulder.
“Try to keep up.” And then she was gone, bounding through the woods and Jared had no choice but to follow her.
“Coming, Mistress.” The house sub got to his feet, brushing off the ash that clung to his worn tunic. The hearth was the warmest place to sleep in the kitchen and that was his place. When he wasn’t cleaning or cooking, or trying his best to keep the house presentable, he was supposed to kneel by the fire, ready at all times to keep it going. Sometimes his mistress would allow him to sit back on his heels, head bent, his hands curled in his lap, but when she was annoyed, which was most days, he had to kneel with his forehead lowered to the stone floor and his hands clasped behind his back.
He’d always tried his best to be a good sub, but he knew there must be something wrong with him, because he didn’t like kneeling on the hard floor for hours. He didn’t like it when he messed up, and had to be punished either. His mistress and her eldest son, Chad, took it in turns to discipline him. His mistress favored tying him to the whipping post in the yard, fastening him to it and giving him ten lashes with a cruel whip then cleaning him up by throwing a bucket of water over him. Chad preferred to humiliate him by tanning his bare ass with a paddle while he was lying over Chad’s knee.
The boy counted himself lucky that Chad liked girls, and although he took great pleasure in humiliating him, he never touched him in other ways.
Mike was different. Mike was his mistress’s younger son. He was a switch who also liked girls and boys, but who treated the boy like a younger brother. Mike had never disciplined him, and often helped take care of him after Mistress and Chad had taken out their anger on him.
For as long as he could remember, Mike had snuck down to the kitchen after the others had gone to sleep, and they’d both sit on the hearth, talking through the night. When they were younger, Mike had told the boy stories of how he was really the son of a nobleman, and that one day, he’d meet his soul mate who would take him away from the drudgery of the kitchen. As they grew older, Mike embellished the tales, telling the boy that his soul mate would be a stern but kind dom, who would take care of him.
The boy had looked forward to Mike’s stories when he was smaller, but as the years went on, all they did was make him sad, because he knew that there was no escape for him. His life was as it was and nothing could change that. Once, when the boy was fifteen, Mike planned an escape for them both. He packed a small pack and unlocked the shackles from the boy’s ankles. His heart had beaten so fast as they ran through the streets, but a lawman who knew the boy’s mistress had stopped them and taken them back to the town house. Mistress had beaten Jensen so badly that it hurt to move for weeks after. Mike was made to watch, and he got the message. It was the one and only escape attempt either of them ever made.
So Mike would still sneak downstairs, and they would still fantasize about what could have been if their lives were different. But what the boy looked forward to most when they spent time together was that Mike always called him by a real name. He said it had been the boy’s name since he was born, but he had only ever heard Mike use it, so the boy wondered if Mike was just being kind.
He liked the sound of it. Two rhyming syllables that sounded right when they were spoken, as if perhaps they did belong to him.
"You hate me." Jared glanced down at the wolf, wondering why she wanted to help him.
"Yes,” the wolf answered, but said no more.
"Then why did you not kill me?"
"Letting you live, and educating you, serves a higher purpose."
"And that's the only reason you're helping me?"
"No." The wolf paused, and Jared waited for her to go on. "I know how it feels, to lose the one you are meant to be with. You slaughtered my mate, but you were driven to take revenge on my kind, but you are not the one who deserves to die. I seek the one who pushed you down this path and once I find them, I will eat their heart. That is the revenge I seek."
Jared nodded, but didn't speak. For years he'd taken the life of every wolf unfortunate enough to cross his path and he felt humbled that the Wolf King's daughter could see past his actions and focus on the one who had faked Jensen's death. Although he itched to deal with Jensen's stepmother himself, there was enough blood on his hands already. His final act of revenge would be to make sure that the Wolf King's daughter took hers.
When they arrived back at the palace at sunset the next evening, the white wolf bounded off into the trees. Jared watched her go before he rode into the courtyard and went in search of his parents to break the news.
He found them sitting on the terrace and thankfully, the guard took pity on his exhausted state and simply stepped aside to let him pass.
"Jared!” His mother got to her feet and hugged him tight. “It’s good to have you home safely. Now, come and tell us all about your latest exploits."
"We hear that you've acquired a pet." Jared's father grinned.
Jared sat down heavily on one of the spare seats and wiped a hand over his face.
"She's not a pet," he explained. "She's the Wolf King's daughter."
The king sat up straight, his face suddenly grave. "You met the Wolf King?"
"I did. And he spared my life."
"Jared!” The Queen exclaimed, all traces of teasing gone.
"All this time, I've been killing wolves because one of them killed Jensen, but the Wolf King told me that he's still alive. His stepmother bloodied his tunic with blood from a rabbit caught in one of the garden traps. She pretended he was dead so she would finally inherit his father's fortune."
The queen trembled, emotion overwhelming her. The king held her close and they looked at each other, leading Jared to think they knew something he didn't.
"She didn't inherit his fortune. In the event of Jensen's death, Marcus had decreed that the majority of his estate would be given to the causes he supported and the castle was returned to the crown. She received a reasonable sum, nothing more."
"What happened to her? Where did she go?"
The king shook his head. "No-one has seen her for years. She never came back to court, so we assumed that she'd left the city and taken those two brats of hers with her.”
“Jensen liked Mike, but he hated Chad.” Jared was so tired that he wasn’t thinking straight, but one thing was certain. “I need to find him.”
Jared’s mother went over to where he was sitting and put her arms around him.
“It’s okay, honey, we’ll do everything we can to find him.”
“I want him back,” Jared whispered.
The Queen kissed the top of his head, and pulled him to his feet. She guided him back to his rooms and helped him get into bed for the first time in many years. She was about to leave when she saw Jensen’s old tattered stuffed bear sitting on a shelf near the bed. She picked it up, and tucked it into bed with Jared. Already asleep, he pulled it close and settled further down in the nest of pillows that covered his bed.
Closing the bedroom door quietly behind her, she strode down the corridor, giving orders to the guards as she went. She’d never liked Jensen’s stepmother, and if the boy had been harmed in any way, she would make sure the woman paid for it dearly.
"Who are you?” Jensen asked.
The boy raised his head, smiling sleepily at Jensen, and opened his mouth to speak.
And that was the point Jensen always woke up.
He always woke up feeling better after the dream. It soothed him. He'd asked Mike, not long after their escape attempt, if he'd had a friend when he was small who's name began with a J. Mike shook his head, but didn't meet Jensen's eyes. They weren't allowed to talk of the time before they moved into the townhouse. Mistress had declared it to be too painful for her, and any mention of it sent her off into one of her rages.
But Jensen wondered. Wondered what had happened to his mother and father. Mistress had told him that his mother, Maggie, who he only remembered vaguely, had left Jensen behind when Mistress was going through tough times, and never come back for him. As for his father, no-one had known who he was. As Jensen grew into his teens, and his punishments became increasingly physical, Mistress became more descriptive about Jensen's parentage. She would rage at him while she flogged him, telling him how his mother had been a whore who spread her legs for anyone, and that his father had been a drunk. But her description of his father varied so much, he was a gypsy, he was a one legged goat herder, that Jensen took everything she said with a pinch of salt.
When he was sixteen, he vowed to himself that he would one day find his mother, and find out who his father was, but as the years went on, his resolve began to fail. What was the point if she hadn't loved him enough to come back for him? If she cared so little about him that she could leave him to a life of drudgery?
Slowly, as Jensen began to lose hope of ever escaping his life at the townhouse, his dreams of the brown haired boy began to lessen. No longer could he rely on them to help him through the bad times, and the joy they had brought him, that he would cling to, began to fade.
On the opposite side of the city, somewhere that may as well have been a world away, Jared tossed and turned in his sleep. He held the stuffed bear tight against his chest as he dreamed.
But his dreams of Jensen were fading. Now, Jensen turned his sad eyes away from Jared, and shuffled back into darkness. Jared called out for him over and over, waking exhausted and wrung out, with Jensen's name on his lips. Usually, if he woke in such a mood, he would stalk down to the stables, and ride out, hungry for a kill, but that wasn’t an option any more. And he had better things to channel his energies into.
Like finding Jensen.
Across the other side of the city, Jensen woke hearing the echo of the voice of a boy whose name he didn't know.
When he got closer, he saw the Wolf King’s daughter sniffing around the tree.
“I don’t think there is be any scent left to catch. It’s been years since he was here.”
“It’s not his scent I need, it’s the essence of what you meant to each other. You are still bound to him, but the link is so tenuous now I fear it may break before we find him. Come closer.”
Jared did as he was asked, and dropped to one knee. The Wolf King’s daughter padded up to him and sniffed his neck. Her whiskers tickled and he smiled. Immediately, an image of Jensen sprung into his head. They were laughing together in the tree house. She grunted, obviously satisfied with his reaction, and stuck her nose against his chest over his heart. She pulled back and yipped, running off towards the city.
“Wait!” Jared called out for her, but she kept going.
“You will have your sign before the day is out.” Her voice echoed in Jared’s head.
Jared got to his feet, dusted himself off and went back to the palace to pick his guard up on his way to the market. It was busy, and crowded with people, but they parted to let him and his guards through. Everyone knew the tall prince, and most smiled at him as he walked by. He stopped by the leather goods stall, fingering the long handled whips and ornately tooled harnesses. The owner came straight over, chest puffed out in the hope that the prince had chosen his stall to buy from.
In between questions about the items on the stall, Jared asked what he really wanted to know. Had the stall holder had any dealings with a young man with a bald head. He confirmed that he had. He only knew the man’s first name, Mike, and didn’t know where he lived. Mike had made small purchases that he’d taken with him, he’d never asked for anything to be delivered. Jared thanked him for his help, and out of courtesy, asked him about the leather he used for the harnesses.
As they talked, Jared’s eyes were drawn to a display of masks, some simple, some wildly ornate, decorated with feathers and beads, hanging above the stall. He took down one mask with detailed knot work around the edges and the slightest use of feathers. He held it up, and looked at what had caught his eye. A single large pearl hung down from the mask below one eye, giving the illusion of one single tear lying on the cheek of the wearer.
He held it up to his face. It fit against his skin as if it had been made for him. The Wolf King had spoken about setting a trap and Jared wondered. If he held a masked ball, and invited all the available subs in the land, would Jensen, wherever he was, be allowed to attend?
He handed the mask to the stall owner, along with a pair of black leather cuffs lined with sheepskin. The man took them, and wrapped them up for the Prince, smiling broadly. The purchase wasn’t a large one, but now he would be able to market his products as bought by the prince.
Jared turned to give the package to one of his guards, acknowledging the amused smiles of some of the crowd, who obviously approved of his purchases. As he moved, Jared was hit by a boy running through the market.
Jensen landed against Jared’s chest with some force, but rebounded, watching in horror as the prince staggered back. He’d only seen the prince from afar, and thought him attractive, but up close, he was truly beautiful.
“I’m sorry, so sorry, your highness.” Jensen picked up the parcel that had fallen from Jared’s hands, and gave it back to him, dusting off the dirt that it had landed in.
“There was no harm done.” Jared eyed the boy, who was respectfully keeping his head bowed.
He noted that the shackles around his ankles were worn, and Jared could see sore red skin beneath them. His wrists were the same, and Jared frowned. There were those that used the laws and traditions of their society as an excuse to bind weak minded subs into slavery. The master got whatever he wanted and the sub got nothing more than scraps and a floor to sleep on. While Jared had encountered all manner of subs in his time, including some who relished humiliation, the boy in front of him showed all the signs of being misused, instead of being owned by a responsible Dom.
“What is your name?”
Jared was in a precarious position. It was not his place to undermine another dom’s rules, but it was his place to ensure that all his father’s subjects were treated fairly and as they wished.
“Boy? Are you happy?”
The crowd around them froze. It was a formal question, one that could only be answered with complete honesty. It was the question used by the law keepers to make sure that a sub that looked as if they were in distress truly was, or if it was something they wished.
If the answer was no, then the penalties ranged from educating the dom to make sure they understood how to ensure a sub’s happiness, to banishment if the mistreatment was severe enough.
“I …” Jensen almost hyperventilated, wishing he could disappear. He wasn’t happy, not at all, but if he implicated his mistress, then who knew what the consequences would be. She had given Jensen strict instructions to always answer yes to the question if it was ever asked of him, but that went against being truthful because in reality, Jensen was thoroughly miserable.
There was a sudden commotion close by, and the sound of hooves on cobbles as two loose horses ran towards the leather stall. Jared glanced over his shoulder and saw the danger to himself and the sub in front of him. He turned back, caught the boy by the waist and pulled him out of the way. For a moment, Jared’s arms were wrapped around Jensen, and something deep inside Jared calmed, but the moment passed as they both hit the ground hard. Jensen rolled under the leather stall, leaving Jared with nothing more than a flash of familiar green eyes.
But by the time Jared had regained his wits and pulled up the cloth looking for the boy, he was gone.
“Find him!” Jared barked at his guard, who ran past the stall and deeper into the market. “Jensen!”
But his guard came back empty handed, shaking their heads.
Jared looked around, startled when he saw the Wolf King’s daughter trotting towards him, tongue hanging out of her mouth in a way that made it look as if she were grinning at him.
“You have your sign, now set your trap. He will be there.”
Jared almost ran from the market, turning to her when they reached a quieter spot.
“I had him! In my arms! He’s alive … “ Then he remembered the shackles on Jensen’s wrists and ankles. “I can’t leave him out there, and I doubt he’d get any invitation to a ball.”
“Set your trap,” the wolf repeated. “He will be there.”
“How do you know that?”
“Wolves know what others do not.” She licked the back of his hand then trotted away, leaving Jared angry and frustrated.
He strode back to the palace to begin preparations.
Jensen was cleaning out the fireplace in the drawing room while Mistress was writing an RSPV to the invitation. She was barking out orders to Mike at the same time.
“The tailor is coming tomorrow at noon. Make sure your brother is here when he arrives. It had better be worth the investment. Oh, and make sure Jensen cleans your boots. If he doesn’t get it right this time, he can lick the dirt off them.”
“Jensen’s eligible to go to the ball.”
Jensen froze, wondering what Mike hoped to achieve by angering his mother. He knew better than to call Jensen by a real name.
“So he is.” Her voice was silky smooth. “Boy? Come here.”
Jensen got to his feet and walked over to her, head bowed.
“Do you want to go to the ball?”
Jensen began to sweat and he wiped his palms on his tunic.
“I, er …”
“Come now Boy, either you do or you don’t. which is it?”
Jensen remembered the prince’s arms around him and nodded. “I do.”
“I see. Now, on your knees. You have to be a good sub if you want to impress the prince.”
Jensen slid to his knees, keeping his head down, so the kick, when it landed on his chest and pushed him back to sprawl on the hearth, was a shock. Although with hindsight, he realized he should have expected it.
“Get back to work, Boy. The prince wouldn’t take the time to piss on you if you were on fire.”
Jensen crawled back to the hearth as she stormed out of the room. He held on to the fact that the prince had held him, despite the rags he wore and how badly he must smell. The prince had asked him if he was happy.
Jensen shuffled over to the pantry, the chain between the shackles around his ankles stopping him from taking proper strides. He moved the sacks of flour and oatmeal out of the way and pulled out a covered plate, his mouth watering. A chicken carcass sat on one side of the plate, with plenty of meat for him to pick off. He’d managed to add the last of the vegetables from the pan to the plate before he’d hidden it, and now there was also a large red apple, it’s skin shiny. Jensen smiled. Mike must have added that while Jensen was upstairs helping Chad get dressed.
Jensen made his way over to the kitchen table, sitting down on the hard wooden bench. He didn’t allow himself the luxury of sitting on one of the chairs with cushions on. He wasn’t rebellious enough to risk getting it dirty. He stripped the meat from the bones with his fingers, groaning at the taste as he pushed a piece into his mouth and chewed, making it last. The vegetables were soggy, but he ate them anyway, alternating mouthfuls of bland sprouts and carrots with succulent meat.
He heard deep purring before the cat reached his ankles to slink around them, unashamedly mewing at Jensen to feed him chicken.
“Chris.” Jensen greeted the cat, and threw some shredded meat onto the floor by his feet so that his friend could share his feast.
Once they had eaten every scrap from the carcass, Jensen picked up the apple. He turned it in his hand, admiring the polished skin. When he bit into it, the skin broke under his teeth with a crunch, letting them sink into the firm flesh below. Juice welled against his lips and he sighed at the simple pleasure of eating a whole apple.
He sat for a while, nibbling at the core, making sure he didn’t miss even the smallest piece of flesh. He wondered how it would feel to be at the ball, dressed in fine clothes, dancing and laughing, meeting Prince Jared again. Then he chided himself. Servants didn’t get to go to balls. It didn’t matter how many stories Mike had told him when they were kids, about how Jensen was really the son of a noble and owned a castle and would one day be swept off his feet by a handsome prince. Or how one day, Mike would find a way to leave his father’s house and take Jensen with him. Jensen knew his place. He’d grown up in the kitchens, and that’s where he would stay. Shackled and obedient to a thoughtless mistress for the rest of his days.
Knowing his place didn’t stop him from dreaming, though. Chris jumped onto his knee and settled down as Jensen petted him. In his head, Jensen was at the ball, dancing with Prince Jared.
“I wish I could be there, Chris, at the ball, in his arms. I wish he would pick me.”
There was a loud crack followed by a blinding flash of light in the corner of the room. Chris hissed and jumped off Jensen’s knee, dashing to hide under the dresser. Jensen got to his feet, stumbling backwards as fast as the shackles would allow. His eyes widened as the light dimmed, leaving behind a tall, dark haired man dressed from head to toe in black leather. He held a cruel whip in his hand and a cigar hung from the corner of his mouth. He glanced around the room, eyes finally settling on Jensen. He looked him up and down, a frown on his face.
“Fuck, this is gonna take some work.”
“Who … who are you?”
“I’m your fairy godmother, kid, but you can call me JD.”
“You heard. Now, where to start.” JD walked towards Jensen, head tilted on one side as if he were measuring him up for something. “Okay, first you’ve gotta lose the rags. And those shackles.”
“No! Mistress insists they stay on all the time. If she gets back and they aren’t there …”
“Relax, kid. If you do as I say, you’ll be home before that bitch, and just as you were.”
“Home? Where am I going?”
“To the ball! That’s what you wished for, right?” JD winked.
“Well yes, but …”
“No buts. Times a wasting.” He cracked the whip in his hand. The tip bit into the metal chain between the shackles, and they fell from Jensen’s ankles, followed seconds later by the rags he wore.
Jensen yelped and covered his crotch with his hands. JD grinned.
“Nothing I haven’t seen before. Now, go and stand over there.” He motioned to the corner of the room.
Jensen reluctantly did as he was told. Seconds later, warm water was pouring down over his head. He screamed, and dodged out of the way, but the water followed him. Spluttering, he glared through it at JD.
“You can’t do this in the middle of the kitchen! It’ll flood!” All he could think about was that he would have to clear up the mess.
“No it won’t.” JD nodded towards the floor.
Jensen looked down, amazed that despite the heavy shower over his head, dripping down his body, apart from a damp spot around his feet, the rest of the floor was bone dry.
“So are you gonna get cleaned up or not?”
Now a bar of sweet smelling soap hung in the air by Jensen’s face. He closed his hand around it, and lathered up his body and hair.
“That’s Prince Jared’s favorite scent.” JD smirked.
Jensen blushed, turning away from him as he made sure he was clean all over. Once he was done, he looked around for somewhere to put the soap.
“Let it go,” JDinstructed. Jensen did, and watched as the bar hung where he’d left it. This time he just shrugged and got on with rinsing the lather off his body.
“Much better, but we’ve got some remodeling to do. Spread your legs and stand very, very still.”
Jensen was about to object, or at least question JD, but he stopped when a long razor floated into view, and opened itself in the air. The blade glinted wickedly and Jensen sucked in a frightened breath.
“Relax kid, it’ll only hurt if you move, so like I said, keep still.”
Jensen whimpered as the razor moved down his body. The soap joined it, and Jensen began to wonder if it was all a very strange dream, until the soap rubbed itself against his groin, lathering up the hair around the base of his cock and down over his balls. The razor followed, scraping it all away. The most disconcerting part was when invisible hands moved his balls around to give the razor better access. He glared at JD again who smirked at him and kept working.
“Turn round and bend over.”
“Jensen, you’ve come this far. You want to be at your best when you meet the Prince, right?”
“But he’s not going to see …” Jensen trailed off, getting lost in a fantasy of Prince Jared touching his newly shaved parts. His dick began to swell, helped by the strange sensation of being shaved down there.
“Now you’re getting with the program.” JD laughed as Jensen blushed again, beet red. “Bend over and spread your cheeks.”
This time Jensen did as he was ordered without question. The razor scraped over the tender skin around his hole, until his crack was smooth and hairless. The water poured down over him again to wash off the lather, then cool lotion was rubbed into his now bare skin.
“We’ll leave your chest alone. It looks good on you.”
Jensen touched the light golden hairs on his chest, glad they were staying. He realized with a start that his skin was completely dry.
“Now, we have got to do something with that hair!” JD cracked his whip again, and Jensen felt as if a flock of small birds was pecking at his head. He hardly dared look up, and hoped he imagined the flutter of wings when JD waved his hand in the air and the sensation stopped.
Jensen wished he had a mirror so he could see exactly what the birds had done to his hair.
“Now, clothes.” JD cracked his whip again, and as the tip of it bit into the dirty tile by Jensen’s foot, a cloud of sparks rose, swirling in the air, slowly spiraling around Jensen, wrapping him in magic. Little sparkles tickled his skin, and soft fabrics formed around his torso and limbs.
“Not bad.” JD’s voice was softer as he looked at Jensen.
Out of nowhere, a mirror appeared and Jensen gasped at his reflection.
“That’s you as you should have been.”
“What do you mean?” Jensen asked as he turned this way and that, amazed at how he looked. His hair was shorter, almost spiky on top, and it looked as if it had been dusted with gold.
“Hopefully, you’ll find that out for yourself real soon. Now, you need a guardian.” JD looked around the room, and spied Chris peeking out from under the dresser. “You’ll do.”
Chris hissed and spat as JD dragged him out. One crack of the whip later, and Chris the cat had been replaced by Chris the man with long dark hair and a surprised look on his face.
“Chris?” Jensen asked tentatively.
“Yeah, I guess.” Chris looked down at his new arms and legs, and fingered the jacket he was wearing.
JD handed them both masks. Chris’s was plain, but Jensen’s had a single pearl hanging down from one of the eyes.
“Now the rules. The masks stay on, and you have to leave the ball by midnight. At the stroke of twelve, you’ll both go back to how you were before. Now, gentlemen, your carriage awaits!” He ushered them out of the door, but stopped Jensen before he could leave. “You’ll need this.” JD tied a red ribbon around Jensen’s neck. “And I’m going to give you a gift.”
JD put a finger against Jensen’s forehead. Jensen took a deep breath and stood taller than he had in a long time. He stared at JD, wondering what he’d done. He no longer felt frightened about going to the ball, he felt excited.
“I gave you a shot of the confidence that would have been yours if things had played out differently. It belongs to you, and you will get it back eventually, but I think you could do with it tonight.”
“Thank you, for everything.” Jensen smiled at him.
“You deserve it, kid, and you’ve got friends in high places. Now, go! Don’t want to be any more than fashionably late, do you?” He winked at Jensen as Jensen climbed into the carriage beside Chris.
He grinned at his former pet, and leaned out of the carriage window just in time to see JD vanish with another blinding flash. Jensen sat back down, giddy at the thought of going to the ball. In all his wildest dreams, he’d never thought he would be on his way to see Prince Jared again. But it was really happening, although Jensen didn’t pinch himself, just in case he woke up.
Both Doms and subs had accepted their invitations with glee. The subs hoped to be chosen by the fair prince and the Doms knew that by the end of the night, once the prince’s mate was chosen, there would be plenty of subs in need of a firm hand to cope with the rejection of not being picked.
Prince Jared greeted each one. Given his rank, all lowered their eyes as he welcomed them, but the subs among the guests also dropped to their knees, and kissed Jared’s offered hand. All available subs who attended the ball were required to wear a red ribbon around their necks. They knew that one lucky sub would be offered the chance at the end of the night, to exchange their ribbon for Prince Jared’s collar. None of the guests knew that it was a ruse, an elaborate piece of subterfuge to reunite Jared with his long lost soul mate.
Jared graciously thanked each sub for attending, and danced with several who, under different circumstances, would have been ideal for casual encounters. He did his best to be the perfect host, but all the while, he waited for someone else to arrive. He waited for Jensen.
Across the room, he could see his parents talking together, his mother’s eyes scanning the crowd. When they landed on Jared, she arched an eyebrow but he shook his head. As a waiter walked by, Jared took a glass of wine from his tray and tried not to swallow it straight down. It hadn’t worked. The whole thing had been pointless. How could he ever have thought that Jensen would just walk back into his life?
There was a commotion at the entrance, as latecomers arrived. Jared strode over to greet them, heart hammering in his chest. Perhaps it wasn’t too late.
A man strode to the top of the stairs, head held proud. He was magnificent, dressed in an ankle length, high necked black leather coat that parted as he walked to reveal legs clad in matching black leather, soft and sculpted perfectly to his body. His hands were encased in black fingerless gloves and there was an air of authority about him that left no-one in any doubt that this was a Dom of the highest order.
Jared sighed, immediately attracted on a purely physical level, despite the obvious incompatibility, but this man didn’t resemble the boy he’d met in the market. This was a man with a strong spirit and beauty to match. He knew then that the ball had been a failure. It was only politeness that kept him moving to meet the man who would no doubt have the pick of subs that night.
The newcomer walked up to Jared and lowered his eyes in greeting. Jared offered his hand, but instead of taking it straight away, the man opened the buttons keeping his coat fastened around his torso, and dropped to his knees in front of Jared as the top most button was popped open to reveal a red ribbon around his neck. He took Prince Jared’s hand and placed a lingering kiss to the back of it, keeping his eyes downcast.
Jared’s eyes widened. The touch of lips to the back of his hand was electric. He reached forward and tilted the man’s head up.
Green eyes met his, still proud, and burning with desire. There wasn’t the recognition Jared had expected, but the Wolf King had warned of a spell holding Jensen’s true memories back. Jared’s heart skipped a beat and he pulled Jensen to his feet. He couldn’t help himself. His eyes raked over Jensen , from head to foot and back again. Jensen stood proud, waiting for Jared to make the next move.
“Take off your coat.” It was a command and Jensen obeyed, slipping it from his shoulders. Behind him, Chris took it and gave it to one of Jared’s servants.
The crowd that had gathered, curious about the newcomer, gasped. Jensen was perfect, pale skin dusted with freckles, the hint of golden hair on his bare chest. His waist narrowed to slender hips which led to long, leather clad legs. In addition to the gloves, he wore simple leather bands around each wrist, each with a functional D ring attached.
Jared remembered his manners and greeted Chris. He had no idea who he was, but he was there as Jensen’s guardian, so Jared followed protocol.
“Do I have your permission to court … my apologies.” Jared turned to Jensen, wanting to hear it from him. “I don’t know your name.”
“Jensen. My name is Jensen.” It felt good to say it, as if he was reclaiming something he’d lost a long time ago.
Jared nodded, and looked at Chris. “Do I have permission to court Jensen?”
Chris glanced at Jensen who gave the slightest of nods.
“You do,” Chris answered.
“Dance with me?” This time it was a request.
Jensen inclined his head in agreement, and took the hand Jared offered him. As they walked towards the dance floor, the crowd parted in front of them, all wondering where the attractive young sub had come from. He wasn’t known in any of the clubs that Jared’s guests frequented. Gossip began, inventing more and more elaborate stories of his origins even before the music began.
The dance was formal, each step precise. Jensen silently thanked Mike, who he realized would be somewhere out there mingling with the other partygoers, for getting nervous about the dance and insisting that Jensen practice it with him. So Jensen knew how to hold his hands behind his back, complementing Jared’s movements as if they had danced together all their lives. Jared’s arms were raised high as he strutted, coming down to trap Jensen in a cage as Jensen turned his back to Jared and stepped back. The dance was designed to be highly provocative despite the complete lack of touch.
Everyone in the room held their breath as it reached its climax. If Jared wanted Jensen as his mate, he would hold out his hand, palm up, in invitation. If Jensen accepted, he would sink to his knees in a gesture of submission.
The music reached a crescendo, leaving both men standing face to face. Jared held out his hand, and with a deep, deliberate breath, Jensen sank to his knees.
Jared’s fingers slid round to tilt his chin up so he could look into Jensen’s eyes.
The crowd around them cheered.
“Stand,” Jared commanded.
Jensen got gracefully to his feet, looking up at Jared as he did so. Jensen may be submissive and Jared may be superior to him, but he wasn’t officially Jensen’s Dom yet.
The Master of the Court approached them. He addressed Jensen first.
“You attended this ball with the symbolic ribbon around your neck, in full knowledge that in doing so, you were offering yourself to Prince Jared as a candidate to be his mate.”
The Master turned to Jared.
“Prince Jared, you have made an offer of commitment to this man.”
“I have,” Jared acknowledged.
“Do you both agree to exchange formal vows and tokens of commitment? As is the custom, at sunset, in two days hence, you will exchange formal vows and tokens of commitment.”
“We do,” they both answered together.
“As is the custom, this will take place at sunset in two days time. Gentlemen, I leave you to enjoy the festivities!!”
The Master’s stern face broke into a pleased grin.
The music started again, a faster beat, and Jared pulled Jensen back onto the dance floor. Streamers cascaded around them as they danced, this time joined by crowds of people. Now that Jared had made his choice, there may have been disappointment, but it left many available subs looking for Doms.
As the next dance began, Jared pulled a flushed Jensen away from the dancers. He found them both cold drinks, then pulled him further away from the party, to a deserted battlement overlooking the moat. He should have taken Jensen to see his parents, but he wanted Jensen to himself for a while longer. But once they were alone, he was at a loss for words. He stroked Jensen’s cheek, wanting to pull the mask from his face, to see him as he really was, but Jensen had other ideas.
He slid to his knees. Staring up at Jared, then back down the long length of his body to the growing bulge in his breeches.
Understanding what Jensen wanted to do, Jared reached round to cup the back of Jensen’s head and urge him closer. Jensen needed only the slightest encouragement and he was leaning forward to nuzzle at Jared’s crotch. He mouthed along the length of Jared’s hardening cock, hot breath soaking through the fabric. Jared tensed and let out a small moan that was music to Jensen’s ears.
Jensen put his hands behind his back, wanting to prove himself to the man he’d never thought would claim him as his own. He took the end of the lace that fastened Jared’s pants in his teeth and pulled. The bow came undone, and Jensen used only his mouth, his lips and teeth, to free Jared’s ample cock. At no time did Jared move a finger to help. His hand rested on the back of Jensen’s head, fingers moving through the golden tipped hair and he hissed as Jensen rubbed his cheek against the hot length in front of him.
Jensen didn’t want to think about how he knew what to do to please Jared. One of Chad’s ways to make him uncomfortable was to bring his conquests down to the kitchen and make him watch as they pleasured him. Jensen pushed away the gross images and began to make new memories for himself. He opened his mouth and slipped his lips around the head of Jared’s dick, doing nothing more to start with than running his tongue around it and savoring the new sensations of taste and texture. He found out that flicking the tip of his tongue across the small slit made Jared whimper and buck his hips, so Jensen did it again.
Slowly, he worked as much of the length of it as he could into his mouth, pulling off occasionally and using his tongue to draw more noises from Jared’s throat. He wanted to take more, but began to gag. Jared’s hips stilled, and he ran his fingers through his sub’s hair.
“No more than you can handle. This time.”
The dark promise of pushing him further made Jensen groan, which in turn drew a harsh breath from Jared. Jensen wanted more. He began to move faster up and down Jared’s cock, his head bobbing in time with Jared’s increasing thrusts into his mouth.
“Jensen!” Jared moaned as his hands tightened in Jensen’s hair and he spurted straight down Jensen’s willing throat.
Jensen swallowed him down, milking every last drop from Jared’s softening dick. Slowly, he pulled off, cleaning Jared as he did so. He tucked him back into his pants, fastening the laces with his fingers then putting his hands behind his back again.
Jared pulled Jensen to his feet and turned him around, He didn’t ask before he put his hands on the fastenings of Jensen’s pants. He didn’t need to. Jensen was his, always had been, and he needed to touch him. Jensen shivered as Jared’s large hand curled around his erection and his fingers pinched and tugged at Jensen’s left nipple.
“From now on, you never come unless I tell you to.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Jared will do for now.” Jared nipped Jensen’s neck.
“Yes Jared.” Jensen bucked in Jared’s arms as Jared pulled on his cock, thumb pressing into the slit on the upstroke.
“I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to answer honestly.”
“Always, Jared.” Jensen’s heart sped up. Had he recognized him as the boy from the market?
“How many men have fucked your sweet ass?”
Jared bit down on Jensen’s shoulder, ran his tongue over the spot which was sure to bruise.
“I’m glad I’ll be your first.” He ground his already half hard cock against Jensen’s ass making his desire plain. “On the night of our commitment, I’ll tie you face down on my bed, lick your hole until you beg me to take you, fuck you with my tongue until you can’t take any more then split you open with my cock.”
Jensen whimpered again, so turned on he needed desperately to come.
“Fuck you so hard and so long you won’t be able to walk for days. I want to see my come dripping from your stretched out ass.” Jared continued but Jensen couldn’t take any more.
“Please Jared, make me come, I need … need it, please.”
Jared let him beg for a few minutes more, then growled in his ear. “Come.”
Immediately, Jensen spurted over Jared’s hand, pumping his hips up, fucking Jared’s fist. He relaxed back into Jared’s arms, content to let him take care of him. When Jared raised his hand to Jensen’s mouth, Jensen pulled it closer and licked his own come from Jared’s fingers, sucking on each digit and sighing with happiness. Jared surprised him by moving his hand to his own mouth and licking at it, eyes darkening at his first taste of Jensen.
Jensen tilted his head back, wanting to share the taste, wanting to finally have Jared kiss him, which Jared was happy to oblige him with, but outside in the city, the clock in the market square struck, and Jensen jumped away from Jared as if he’d been stung.
“Jensen, it’s okay. Are you remembering something?”
“Remembering? No …yes!” He remembered that on the last stroke of midnight, he would return to being what he really was. A scruffy house sub who nobody could love. The clock struck again. He’d deluded himself into thinking that this could work, that a handsome prince could sweep him off his feet, but he’d been wrong.
Jared took Jensen’s hand, raising it to his mouth and kissing his fingers one by one, noting the small scar on his index finger. The strap on Jensen’s glove had come loose and Jared was about to fasten it for him when the clock struck once more. Jensen tried to pull away.
“I … I have to go.”
Jensen was suddenly fearful. The glamour that had drawn Jared to him would fade in a matter of seconds, and the Prince would be left with the scullery boy. How could he ever have thought this would work? That he could make Jared love him, the real him?
“Jensen?” Jared grabbed his hand, but the glove slipped from it as Jensen stepped away from him.
“I’m sorry, Jared. So sorry.” Jensen ran, with the chimes of the clock ringing in his ears.
“No! Wait!” Stunned, it took Jared a moment to race after Jensen, and by then it was too late. The beauty dressed in black leather was dressed in rags again by the time he reached the bottom of the stairs. He slipped through a side door, and kept heading downwards, searching for a way out. He could hear the commotion above him. The music stopped abruptly and there was shouting as a search was mobilized.
Finally, Jensen slipped through a door at the bottom of a set of stairs and out into the warm night. He stood with his back to the wood, panting and wiping tears from his eyes. For a few hours, he’d let himself believe that he could have everything he wanted, but it wasn’t possible. A Prince could never love a lowly servant.
He looked around the courtyard he was standing in, wondering how he could get out of it, when he felt a very familiar furry body wrap it’s way around his ankles.
“Chris!” Jensen whispered, so happy to see his friend.
Chris mewed at him and ran around the edge of the open space, looking back over his shoulder to make sure Jensen was following him. They got to the gate and waited until the guards were distracted before sneaking past and straight into the city. Once he knew he was out of sight, Jensen ducked into an alley and slid to the ground. He couldn’t stop himself from crying as he hugged his knees to his chest. Chris sat and watched him for a while, washing his paws as Jensen let out his frustrations and disappointment. But Chris needed to get his charge home, so he nudged Jensen’s face with his, licking a salty tear away.
Jensen looked up, and ran a hand down Chris’s back.
“What would I do without you?” He asked the cat, who sprang away, trotted to the end of the alley, then back to Jensen. “I’m coming,” Jensen sighed and headed for the townhouse.
They arrived home minutes before his stepmother and brothers. Jensen fastened his shackles in place and slid to his knees in his place by the side of the fire in the kitchen. Chris flicked a tail full of ash against his face and hair, dulling the gilding that lingered. How the boy didn’t know how gorgeous he was, Chris would never know. Rags or no rags, he was fit for a Prince to dominate.
“I lost him! Again!” he bellowed, almost tearing his hair out with frustration. “How could this happen?”
“If you’d brought him to us, we could have all explained who he was,” the Queen chided.
“But I understand you wanted him to yourself.”
“That really doesn’t matter, because he’s gone. Again. And you?” Jared whirled around to where the Wolf King’s daughter sat. “Surely you could track him down?”
“I am not one of your trained beagles. He slipped from your trap, so track him down.”
“How? If I knew how to find him, don’t you think I would be out there right now?”
“You have the answer.” She looked pointedly at the fingerless glove that Jared hadn’t put down since it slipped from Jensen’s hand. “I can’t give him to you, Jared, you have to earn him.”
Jared stood for a moment, looking at the glove. He knew what he had to do.
“I need to issue a proclamation. Tomorrow I will visit each household that was sent an invitation, and demand to see all the subs who attended. They will each try on the glove to see if it fits. Jensen also has a small scar on his index finger that I’d recognize if I saw it again.” Exhausted, he slumped down on the nearest couch. “And if this doesn’t work, I’ll think of something else.
“Stupid cat,” Chad muttered, throwing himself down to almost lie in one of the chairs. “Jensen? My boots.”
Jensen sighed inwardly and crawled to where Chad sat, reaching for one of his feet.
“Wait!” Chad barked. “What’s that round your neck?”
Jensen kept his eyes down, but his hand fluttered to his neck. He’d forgotten the ribbon was there, he’d thought it would have disappeared along with his other fine clothes.
“Don’t touch it!” Chad barked again. He reached forward and pulled on the end of the deep scarlet silk ribbon. The bow came loose, unraveling and falling from around Jensen’s neck, whispering against his skin as it fell. He wanted to grab hold of it, to tuck it away close to his heart, a reminder of the few hours he’d spent with the man who would hold his heart forever. But he knew his place, and kept still, he head bowed, hiding the anguish on his face.
Chad held the ribbon in his hand.
“Well, well, little Jenny was pretending he was good enough to offer himself to the Prince? Remember your place, slave.” Chad put his foot in the middle of Jensen’s chest and pushed him back, to land on his ass in the cinders.
Chad stood up, walked past Jensen, and dangled the end of the ribbon over the embers in the grate. The silk began to smolder.
“No!” Jensen sprang to his feet and pushed Chad away from the fire. Chad lost his grip on the ribbon, and it fluttered down towards the hot coals. “No.” This time Jensen whispered, already mourning it’s loss, but a hand snaked out and caught it before it could land in the dying fire.
Mike glared at Chad, ignoring Jensen.
“We were fooling around before the ball, asshole. It’s mine.” Mike stuck it in his pocket, and pushing his brother back down to the chair. “Jensen? His boots.”
Jensen stood, defiant, for a moment longer until Mike pleaded with him with his eyes. He sighed, dropped to his knees and untied Chad’s laces as if nothing had happened.
Chad grinned cruelly. “With your …” He didn’t get the word teeth out before his mother stormed into the kitchen.
“Boys! This is our chance! The town crier has announced that the Prince is looking for the stranger he took such a shine to at the ball, and will be visiting each household in the morning. Since you two let me down tonight, this is a chance for you to redeem yourselves. “
“But he’s looking for a sub,” Chad objected.
“You had every chance to find a rich sub last night after the Prince made his choice, but you blew it. So if you have to get down on your knees to keep us out of poverty, by the Gods, you will!”
“What about Mikey? At least he’s a switch.”
“He’s bald, Chad. The Prince is looking for a man with hair tipped with gold, who’s hand fits the fingerless glove he left behind and who has a crescent shaped scar on his left index finger.”
“But I don’t have a scar …” Chad shrieked as his mother pinned his hand to the table and carved a crescent into his left index finger with a sharp knife.
Chad ran off to sulk in his room, and Mistress stomped off, yelling at Mike to make sure he was up bright and early the next morning to help with his brother. Mike lingered until he and Jensen were alone. He pulled the ribbon out of his pocket, and squatted down next to Jensen who had gone back to his expected position by the fire. He held it out to Jensen, who cleaned his fingers on his ragged shirt before taking it and holding it tight.
“You should have been there, Jensen, should have seen how the Prince lit up when he found out the stranger was a sub. They looked so good together.” Mike sighed wistfully and Jensen looked up at him. “I met someone too.”
“You did? What was he like?”
“Not too tall, but he had a nice smile and long dark hair. He was a very graceful dancer.” Mike stroked Chris as the cat slinked around his ankles, looking at him adoringly. “He arrived with the stranger but I didn’t get a chance to ask his name.”
Mike licked his thumb, then drew it across Jensen’s cheekbone as Jensen looked down at Chris with raised eyebrows.
“One day, we’ll both get away from here and I’ll find someone who’ll take care of you, I promise.” He drew his thumb over the rest of Jensen’s cheek. “You’re beautiful, you know.” His brow furrowed as he revealed more of the gilding under the ash.
Chris mewed to draw Mike’s attention away from Jensen.
“Michael!!” His mother bellowed from upstairs. “Bed now!”
With a regretful look, Mike raced upstairs, and Jensen fell asleep curled up on the hearth with Chris. It didn’t matter that Jared was looking for him. He’d never find him, even if they were in the same room together.
“Dry yourself off and go and help Michael with Chad.” A coarse sack hit Jensen in the chest and he used it to dry himself off as best he could. He scrubbed it over his head, remembering how he’d felt the night before, all dressed in butter soft leather. It may as well have been a dream. He sighed and shuffled off to Chad’s room. He heard shouting before he even got there.
“I’m not wearing that!” Something hit the wall hard as Jensen approached the door and he had to school a smirk off his face before he entered the room.
Chad was dressed in black leather hot pants and very little else, scowling at Mike.
A loud banging on the door got all their attention.
“Open up in the name of Prince Jared!” A voice bellowed.
“Chad! Michael! Get down here now!” Their mother yelled.
There was a flurry of activity on the room. Jensen knelt in front of Chad and laced up the boots Mike had brought him to wear. He stood, and fastened two of the buckles on the harness that encased Chad’s chest, but as he fastened the third, Chad hissed as the buckle pinched his skin.
Chad’s hand flew out, the back of it catching Jensen across his right cheekbone and sending him tumbling to the floor. He looked up at Chad with furious eyes.
Mike stepped between them and helped Jensen up. Jensen winced as Mike checked him out. Chad finished buckling the harness himself and stormed from the room. Jensen’s shoulders sagged, and he tried to move past Mike to follow Chad, but Mike took hold of his arm and stopped him.
“It was you last night at the ball, wasn’t it?” Mike ran his fingers through Jensen’s gold tipped hair.
“I … I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jensen looked away.
Mike reached out and tilted Jensen’s face up so he could look him in the eye.
“You were magnificent. And now your Prince has come looking for you.”
“He hasn’t come looking for me, he’s looking for the noble who presented himself last night, not a scullery boy .”
“You’re not a scullery boy!”
“I’m not a kid anymore, Mikey. Stories about how I’m really of noble blood cheered me up when I was younger, but they’re only stories.”
“Michael!” Mistress bellowed from downstairs. Both Mike and Jensen flinched, then ran down to join Chad.
Mike stood by his brother while Jensen sank to his knees by the side of the fireplace in the drawing room. Chris shot into the room just as Prince Jared and his entourage swept through the door. Jensen risked a glance at the Prince from below his lashes and had to bite back a whimper at how gorgeous he looked. For the rest of his life, Jensen would cherish the memories of being in Jared’s arms, of sucking him off. For one glorious night, being who he’d always dreamed of being.
Jared, meanwhile, was glancing at the men in the room, his brow furrowing.
“I was informed that there was a sub in the house hold who attended the ball and who matched the description of the man I am looking for. I haven’t got all day. Bring him out so I can see if the glove fits.”
“My son, Chad, your highness, is the one you are looking for.” Mistress pushed Chad forward. He stumbled and looked furious, but remained on his feet.
Jared raised one perfect eyebrow at the complete lack of submission from the so called sub in front of him. Mistress rolled her eyes and jabbed the back of Chad’s knee hard with his foot, causing his leg to buckle. Chad landed on his knees on the floor with a yelp.
“He’s a late bloomer, your highness, but he’s a fast learner.”
“The glove,” Jared commanded, and the glove bearer held up the red velvet cushion it was placed on. Jared picked it up, and waited for Chad to offer his hand. And waited. Eventually, he coughed to get Chad’s attention.
Chad glanced at him, then realized what he should have been doing, and stuck his hand out towards the Prince. Reluctantly, Jared pushed the glove onto Chad’s hand, but there was too much give around his hand, while the wrist strap wouldn’t fasten. It was with great relief that Jared took it back off, keeping a hold of Chad’s hand as he examined the “scar”.
“You’ve wasted my time with this deception. It will not go unpunished,” Jared growled. He put the glove back on the cushion, and turned to go.
“There’s another sub here, your highness,” Mike spoke up, his voice still little more than a whisper.
“No there’s not!” Mistress insisted. “This is no time to joke with the Prince, Michael.”
“I’m not joking, and you know it.” Mike stood taller, the thrill of finally standing up to his mother coursing through his veins. “There’s Jensen.”
“Jensen’s no more than the scullery boy!” Mistress’s voice was rising, edged with a panic that Jared picked up on. He turned back to look at them. Jensen was somewhere in this house and Jared would tear it apart if he had to, to find him.
“He is!” Mike yelled, gasping as his mother backhanded him across the face.
“He is a servant, your highness, nothing more.”
“Where is Jensen?”
Mike opened his mouth to speak, but whatever he had to say was drowned out by both Mistress and Chad, who was now on his feet, yelling at him to shut up.
“Silence!” Jared roared. All three immediately stopped shouting and turned to look at their Prince.
“Michael, is it”
“Yes, your highness.” Mike bowed his head with respect.
“Where is Jensen?”
“But …” Chad began.
Jared rounded on him. “If you say one more word, I will have you executed where you stand. Do you understand me?” Chad opened his mouth to speak, but shut it again at the distinctive sound of a sword being drawn from its sheath. He nodded instead.
“That’s Jensen, by the fireplace.”
Prince Jared looked over to where the house sub was in position by the fire. Mike was about to say more, but he felt Chris wind around his ankles. He looked down to see the cat looking up at him. His eyes were stern, and his tail lashed angrily, so Mike kept his mouth shut.
From Jensen’s place on the floor, he’d listened to everything that had been said, his heart leaping in his chest with fear when Mike pointed him out to Jared. Now, there were two shiny boots in front of his face, so close, he could have stuck his tongue out and licked them. Given he knew they were Jared’s boots, he had a hard time not doing exactly that.
Jensen swallowed before answering. “Yes, your highness?”
Jensen took a deep breath, and straightened up to sit back on his haunches. He kept his head down, as was right, and gazed from under his lashes at the long length of Jared’s legs.
“Look at me.” Even though it was a command, and one given by the man who owned his heart, Jensen struggled to obey. One look, and his dreams would shatter into pieces. They were all he had left to help him through the days and nights of his miserable life. He knew that when his eyes met Jared’s, he would see disgust and revulsion in them. Jared had fallen for the glamour surrounding Jensen on the night of the ball, and once he saw who lay beneath the glamour, it would all be over.
Slowly, Jensen raised his head, committing every part of Jared to memory. Finally, their eyes met. Jensen steeled himself, but the look of derision he expected never came.
Jared blinked and smiled softly.
“Yes, Jared.” He’d promised always to tell Jared the truth, and he’d been given permission to call the Prince by his given name, and so he did. He had nothing left to lose.
“Give me your hand.”
Obediently, Jensen held out his hand. The glove-bearer stepped forward and Jared took the glove from the cushion and slipped it on to Jensen’s hand. It fit, well, like a glove. Jared touched the small scar on Jensen’s finger.
“How did you get this?”
“I don’t remember.”
Jared nodded sadly. He knew exactly how Jensen had come by the scar, and wondered if Jensen would ever regain his memories.
He reached out for Jensen, not noticing the chains and shackles around his ankles until Jensen shuffled towards him.
“Take them off.” Jared spat at Mistress.
“I … I don’t know where the key is.”
Jared paled at the implication, that Jensen had been locked in shackles that bruised and cut his ankles without respite. His eyes flashed and he reached for his own sword, but Mike took another step forward.
“I found the key, Highness. I couldn’t bear to see him locked in them every minute of the day.”
Jared took the key, and knelt at Jensen’s feet. Everyone in the room took a breath at the sight of their Prince, the toppiest dom in all the land, kneeling at Jensen’s feet. Jared unlocked the shackles and gently rubbed Jensen’s ankles.
“No-one, apart from me, will ever lay a hand on you in any way again,” Jared promised as he got to his feet. He pulled Jensen towards him, and kissed him possessively. “You’re mine now.”
Jensen smiled, and a warm glow enveloped them both. As the spell that held Jensen’s memories in place was broken, tendrils of the magic that freed him swirled around the room. One got caught in Chris’s tail, and he hissed, but it swirled around him too. There was a puff of smoke and Mike jumped to one side, staring at it.
“Oh thank the Gods for that!” A gruff voice was heard from within the smoke, which cleared to reveal a very human Chris standing there.
Instantly, Jared’s guard had sword points against the newcomer’s throat.
“Chris!” Jensen shouted. “Jared, please, he’s a friend.”
“Where did he come from?” Jared asked suspiciously.
“Magic?,” the newly transformed man said, then looked at Mike hopefully.
“Jared?” Jensen whispered. “I got the scar when I fell out of the tree house when I was six. You took me back to the castle and Maggie bandaged it up and made us both hot chocolate. You stayed with me in my room all night after my father came home and asked the King if you could. We snuck out onto the balcony wrapped up in our quilts and watched shooting stars until we fell asleep.” Jensen’s eyes were wide as the long hidden memories that Jared had released with a kiss settled back into place.
“You remember?” Jared pulled Jensen into a hug, holding him tight and sighing with relief.
“I remember.” Jensen smiled, but then he looked puzzled then hurt. He turned to where Mistress and Chad stood. “I remember everything. How could you do that to a child? You tore me away from everything I knew and made me into … this?”
“She faked your death, thinking that she would inherit the Ackles estates.”
“Yes, okay? Yes.” Mistress admitted angrily. “But it was hardly worth the effort. There was enough to buy this place, and that’s all there was. There was no money, no gold, nothing. It’s not like I stole much from him.”
“You stole his life!” Jared roared, then composed himself. “Jensen? Do you remember your father?”
“Yes, I do now. We lived in a castle. My mother was dead and I was raised by Maggie when my father was away, which was often. She was the cook, and she and the others loved me. One day, my father came home with a new mother for me, but then my father died and she sent Maggie away … When we came here, I stayed in the kitchen, and I did what I was told to do. Mike, he would tell me stories, of how I was a noble, and how one day, we’d escape, but they were only stories …” Jensen rambled, unable to stop the flow of words as he pieced everything together.
Mike took a step forward. “Highness, I didn’t want him to forget, but I was sent away to school, and my mother isn’t the kindest of women …”
Jared fixed Mistress and then Chad with a dark stare. “On your knees,” he growled and turned to his guard. “Take them to the dungeon. They belong to the Wolf King’s daughter now.” With a wave of his hand, Jared dismissed them, ignoring his captive’s pleas as they were dragged away.
“Michael? This house is yours to do with as you will.”
“Thank you, your Highness.”
“You …” Jared eyed the man in the corner who up until recently had been a cat. “You’re obviously a friend to Jensen too. I’ll leave you in Mike’s care.”
“Thank you, your Highness.” Chris grinned and discretely rubbed his shoulder against Mike’s, purring a little.
“Jensen. Last night, you agreed to be my mate and become bonded with me. Do you still want that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Good. In that case, it’s time for you to come home.”
Jared had his carriage brought round and bundled Jensen into it. They sat opposite each other, knees touching.
“All this time, I thought you were dead.” Jared’s voice was shaky, so Jensen shifted forwards, putting a hand on Jared’s leg. “The last time I saw you, I promised you could come and live in the palace. When I heard that you’d been killed by wolves hours after we parted, I blamed myself for your death.”
“You were only eight, you couldn’t have taken on a pack of wolves.” Jensen got frustrated with the narrow little carriage and crawled onto Jared’s lap to comfort him. Jared held him close, nuzzling his hair.
“I was the last one who saw you alive. I’ve killed countless wolves to take revenge for your death, but no more.”
“But I didn’t die. I’m still alive, and I love you for never forgetting me.” Jensen reassured him.
“You … love me?”
“Yes,” Jensen grinned. “I do.”
Deep inside, Jared’s heart began to heal.
When they arrived at the palace, they were met by the Queen and King, who hugged Jensen and patted him on the back, welcoming him home. The Queen’s eyes were full of tears and she made Jared promise that he and Jensen would join them later for dinner.
Finally, Jared led Jensen to the privacy of Jared’s own rooms and closed the door behind them. He watched as Jensen wandered round, running his hands over familiar pieces of furniture and examining new wall hangings. He and Jared had spent hours playing there when they were children, and it felt strange to be back again. He opened the door to the bedroom, and paused for a moment before walking in.
Jared found him looking down at the bed, specifically at the cuffs attached to each corner.
“I’ll never force you to do anything you don’t want to do.” He promised.
“But you’re a Dom, and you have needs.”
“And you’re a sub, but we’ve only just found each other again. We’ve got the rest of our lives to discover what works for us. I want to explore with you, learn what makes you feel good, show you what makes me feel good.”
“Can I take a bath first?”
Jared snorted at the joke, and nodded. “You know where it is.”
Jensen took advantage of the luxury of palace plumbing and ran himself a deep, warm bath. He threw his old clothes to one side. Knowing he would never need them again was a relief. He slipped into the water with a happy sigh, and relaxed, thinking of Jared. Now Jensen understood his dreams of the boy with brown hair. They were a fragment of the memories he’d lost. He wondered what would have happened if they’d grown up together. What adventures they could have had. But what could have been didn’t matter anymore. Jared was waiting for him in the room next door. That’s what mattered.
He washed himself quickly, and dried his body with one of the big soft towels that were hung around the room. The he realized he didn’t have any clean clothes to wear. Well, since he was Jared’s now, Jared would have to provide clothes, and until then, Jensen decided to make the most of the situation.
He walked out of the bathroom with the smallest of towels tied low around his hips, patting his hair dry with another towel. He stopped when he saw Jared sitting on the bed, watching him, hunger in his eyes.
“I haven’t got any clothes.” He explained, swaying his hips as he walked closer until the towel slipped to the floor and left him naked. He looked down at his hardening cock, then back up at Jared through his lashes, biting his lip.
With a growl, Jared grabbed his hips and pulled him into the vee of his legs. He mauled on a nipple as he moved his hands to cup Jensen’s ass and pulled him forward so his cock pressed against Jared’s chest.
“Cocktease,” Jared growled.
He hadn’t sucked anyone off for years, but gladly lowered his head and took Jensen’s dick into his mouth. As he worked it, making Jensen writhe and moan, one of his hands slipped between the cheeks of Jensen’s ass and touched his hole. Jensen pushed back, eager to feel Jared inside him, but Jared pulled it away.
“Your ass is for our bonding night.” He said, before he threw Jensen on the bed, where he landed with a yelp, and went back to blowing him.
“Now who’s a tease?” Jensen managed to get out before Jared took him all the way down and pushed his nose against the smooth skin of Jensen’s groin. “Jared, ah, I don’t think I can hold back … “ Jensen tried to get away, remembering his promise the night before that he would never come without Jared’s permission.
Jared pulled back and smirked at him. “This time, you can come when you’re ready.” He engulfed Jensen’s cock again, stroking his balls as they tightened up in his hand, and swallowing as Jensen came straight down his throat.
Jared pulled off slowly, and kissed the insides of Jensen’s thighs, making him squirm.
Jensen did his best to do as he was told, but his limbs had a hard time co-operating with the request. Jared helped, and pushed his legs wide apart to better expose the pucker that he’d be deflowering the following night.
“Reach back and hold your cheeks apart.”
Jensen obeyed, displaying himself wantonly. He looked back over his shoulder, and watched as Jared stripped his cock, faster and faster until hot white liquid squirted from the tip and handed on Jensen’s hole. Jensen wanted to slide his fingers through it and push it inside, fill himself with Jared’s come, but he restrained himself, beginning to understand this aspect of submission. It would be all the sweeter when Jared took his time the next night, and fucked Jensen properly.
Lost in a post orgasmic fantasy of his bonding night, he gasped and almost jumped off the bed when Jared’s tongue swiped over his ass. Jensen melted into the bed as Jared cleaned him up. He didn’t care if Jared ever found clothes for him. He thought he’d be quite content staying in Jared’s bed for the rest of his days.
As if Jared was a mind reader, he crawled up the bed and wrapped himself around Jensen, nuzzling his neck. As he settled against Jared, Jensen saw his old stuffed bear sitting on Jared’s night stand. He smiled, the thought that his friend had kept it close since he’d lost Jensen added another layer to the contentment he was feeling. He fell into a pleasant doze with Jared’s hand tucked around his waist.
When he woke, Jared was propped up on one elbow, tracing lines on his back, tracing his scars. Jensen fought the urge to squirm away from the touch, but that would just put off the inevitable questions.
“I saw them before, when you turned over, and almost stopped.”
“Because you find them ugly?”
“No, because they reminded me of the pain you’d been through.”
“That’s in the past now. I can’t live my life looking back, and neither can you. You won’t ever kill another wolf and I won’t ever have to sleep on a cold hearth after I’ve been flogged and left alone.”
“Jensen.” Jared reached out and cupped his lover’s face. “I’m sorry.”
Jensen rested his forehead against Jared’s and closed his eyes. “Don’t be. It wasn’t you who hurt me. You saved me from that.”
Jensen’s words reminded Jared there was something left for him to do. He found clothes for Jensen to wear, and took his hand. He led him out of the back of the palace to the land that led to the castle Jensen had lived in. Jensen gasped when he saw the wolf pacing around the grass. When she saw them, she trotted over, sniffing the air. Jared dropped to his knees in front of her and reached out. She glanced at Jensen, then pushed her head against Jared’s hand.
“So you have found him. And already your heart has begun to heal.”
“Yes it has.” He bowed his head. “You’ve given me what I took from you. I know I can never make it right, but from this day forth, the hunting of wolves is outlawed. You have my word. Furthermore, wolves on this side of the boundary will be under my protection.”
She didn’t thank him and he didn’t expect her to.
“Send the woman to the village by the boundary. I will deal with her there. Her son is of no consequence to me. Do with him what you will.”
She walked over to Jensen and sniffed his hand too. Then he heard a voice in his head.
“Take care of him, he needs a firm hand.”
Jensen grinned and Jared blustered as the Wolf King’s daughter inclined her head to both of them, then turned and ran into the forest without a backward glance, eager to go home.
“What did you mean, ‘You have given me what I took from you’?”
Jared led Jensen over to a low seat and they both sat down.
“I told you that I tried to take my revenge by hunting wolves. Well, after your stepmother came to the palace and told us that you’d been killed by wolves, I hated them all on principle. I made my first kill at 14, and became obsessed with hunting them down. But then I met the Wolf King, and learned the truth about the night you were supposed to have died. But by that time, I had already killed her mate.”
“And she still agreed to help you find me?”
“Yes. It turns out that we can learn a lot from wolves.”
Breakfast the next day was early. Followed by a meeting with Misha, who would be conducting the ceremony.
“Misha? Remember Jensen?”
“How could I forget?” Misha smiled and inclined his head towards Jared’s companion. “I’m glad that Jared persuaded you to go through with the union. Now, do you have anyone with you?”
“Um, no. There’s only me. And Mike, but he’s not here … “ Jensen trailed off.
“So, the standard royal contract?” Misha asked Jared, glancing at Jensen too as if he expected him to say something.
“With an added safe word clause.”
“Really?” Misha’s brow creased.
Jared said yes at the same time that Jensen asked “What’s a safe word clause?”
Misha glanced from one to the other. “if I may make a suggestion? Jensen’s education seems to be lacking in certain areas, and I’d be remiss in my duties if I let him sign anything he doesn’t fully understand.”
“I wasn’t …” Jared blustered. He hadn’t thought of it like that. He certainly didn’t want to force Jensen into anything. They didn’t have much time before the bonding ceremony had to take place, and the contract was critical to that going ahead. Misha stopped him with a wave of his hand.
“I know you weren’t trying to push Jensen into anything, but contracts are lawfully binding. If it came out that he didn’t know what he was signing, it would be declared null and void, and I know neither of you want that.”
“I trust Jared. I’ll sign whatever you need me to sign.”
“I can see you trust him, but for my own peace of mind, this has to be done properly. Jared, why don’t you go and help your mother with the preparations for the ceremony? She looked flustered when I passed her in the hall earlier. I’ll talk to Jensen, go over the contract with him and then you can both sign it.”
Jared turned to Jensen. He’d been so caught up in having Jensen back that he’d never thought about the practicalities. If the day before had taught him anything, it was that becoming bonded to Jensen was stepping into unchartered territory. Jensen wasn’t the nobleman he should have been, not yet. He’d been a slave with nothing more than Mike’s stories to teach him about true D/s relationships.
“Misha’s right. Spend some time with him, listen to what he has to say, and think about what you want.” He squeezed Jensen’s hand.
“I want you.” Jensen hissed under his breath, glaring at Jared. “Why does it have to be any more complicated than that?”
“I, er …” Jared stammered, temporarily at a loss for words.
On the other side of the desk, Misha smirked. He’d never known anyone who could do that to the usually self assured prince.
“Contracts are always required for bonding, it’s as simple as that.” Misha explained, then looked at Jared. “I’ll send someone to find you once we’re done.”
Jared nodded, and raised Jensen’s hand to his mouth, kissing it softly. “I’ll see you soon.”
Jensen watched him go. He looked across the desk at Misha, suddenly feeling out of his depth. He wasn’t stupid, he knew he had a lot to learn, and fast, if he was going to be worthy of being bonded to Jared. He sat up straight and nodded at Misha.
“Tell me what I need to know.”
“Prince Jared the Fair, Lord of all he surveys and lately, the Champion of the People …”
Jared managed to catch up with him and trip him up before he could say any more. The guard managed to stay on his feet, and backed off with a grin.
“Mother, what do you need me to do?” He demanded.
“Do, Jared? I need you to be on time tonight. I think I can manage the rest.”
“Misha said you looked flustered.”
“I’m preparing for the bonding of my only son. Of course I’m flustered!”
“Oh.” He looked around at the servants and friends that were milling about. They all had smiles on their faces as they worked.
His mother took pity on him. “Jared, this is a happy day for me and your father, and for you too, I hope. Where’s Jensen?”
“Misha wanted to go through the contract with him before we sign it.”
“That’s a good idea. All this must be daunting for the poor boy after the way he’s been living.” She pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket and dabbed her eyes. “It can’t be easy for him, coming to terms with everything being so different now.”
Jared blinked, then threw his arms around his mother, hugging her tightly. “Thank you.” He whispered in her ear.
“For everything. For understanding.” He kissed her cheek and dashed off in the direction of the stables.
Jared was staring at him with such love in his eyes that Jensen grinned back at him.
“Misha’s been explaining things to me, and not just the contract. With your permission, I’d like to talk to him again.”
“Yes, of course. Whenever you like.”
“Gentlemen, why don’t we go through the contract, then you can go and get ready for the ceremony?”
He sat down behind his desk, and Jared and Jensen took their seats. Jared frowned when he slid a thin document across the desk.
“Where’s the rest of it?”
“That’s all there is. For now.”
“A temporary contract?” Jared paled, and looked at Jensen, who shook his head as Misha answered.
“No, it’s an interim contract. It’s only used in rare cases, but this situation warrants it. If you were to be bonded to someone who hadn’t lived in this land under our laws, this is what would be used initially. Jensen is in a similar position. Although he’s lived here all his life, his unofficial status as a slave with no working knowledge of the law puts him in the same position. The paragraphs pertaining to the bonding ceremony are still included, making this a permanent union, but the rest is subject to negotiation at a later date. Jensen and I have agreed a period of six months, if that’s agreeable to you?”
“Yes, I’m happy with that.”
“Okay. The other points that we included are the safe word clause …”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you.” Jensen butted in.
“It’s okay, I wanted you to have that, remember?”
“And Jensen has added a no flogging clause. I’m sure you’ll understand why.”
Jared nodded and pulled the paper closer. He picked up the pen and signed it with a flourish. Jensen took the pen when it was offered to him, and signed carefully. Misha added his signature with a smile, and stamped it with the seal of his office.
“Now, I believe we’ve all got a ceremony to prepare for!” Misha shooed them out of his office.
“There’s so much I want to talk to you about.” Jensen took Jared’s hand as they walked through the palace.
Jared smiled, listening to Jensen’s ideas for finishing his formal education, finding out more about his father’s work, and learning as much as he could about his role as Jared’s mate. Jensen’s enthusiasm for life was a joy to behold.
When they reached the entrance to Jared’s rooms, he led Jensen a little further to the next door along the corridor. He opened it and followed Jensen into the room. Mike and Chris were waiting for them.
Jared tugged Jensen to him. “It’s time to get ready for the ceremony and I thought you might want your friends around you.” He kissed Jensen softly, and smiled as Jensen whispered his thanks.
“Look after him, and don’t be late.” Jared ordered with a smile.
As Jared left, Mike and Chris clapped Jensen on the back, congratulating him on the bonding and patting him on the back. There was a jug of cold ale on the table, and three glasses, which Chris filled from the jug and offered them around.
“Just one to calm your nerves.” Mike suggested as Jensen gulped half of his straight down.
“Killjoy.” Chris muttered and shook his head, but Jensen noticed him glancing at Mike with affection.
“I’m not nervous.” Jensen looked around the room, and wandered through to the smaller dressing room. There was a crisply pressed uniform hanging from a rail, and a pair of black boots sat on a rack.
Jensen hoped he’d look good enough. He’d have liked to have more time, to be able to wear something that would put that look on Jared’s face, the look he’d had when he saw Jensen at the ball. He knew Jared loved him with all his heart, and that he could have turned up wearing a sack and Jared wouldn’t care as long as he was there, but Jensen wanted more. He wished …
Jensen grinned and bit his lip, wondering if he dared.
“I wish I had something amazing to wear to the ceremony.”
There was a snapping sound, and a flash of light out in the main room. Jensen popped his head around the door to find Mike and Chris staring at JD.
“You could warn a guy!” Chris growled, holding his glass protectively against his chest.
“Gotta love the element of surprise.” JD grinned. “How’s being human again treating you?”
“Not bad.” Chris glanced at Mike who blushed which made JD laugh.
“So I see.” He winked. “Now, let’s get you boys ready. Jensen, you first. You want something amazing …”
JD cast an appraising eye over him.
“I want him to be speechless.”
“Easy. Don’t wear anything.” JD waggled his eyebrows.
“So was I, but okay, let’s see. It’s a warm summers night. You aren’t military, so there’s no need for a uniform. This is a joyful affair, so I don’t think there’s any need for stuffy formality.”
He cracked the whip in his hand, and the trail of sparkles it left behind wrapped around Jensen, swirling around and completely enveloping him. He felt the clothes Jared had found for him melting away, and new ones slipping over his skin. There was a small flash of light, and the sparkles disappeared.
Mike gasped, and Chris grunted his approval. Jensen turned to face the mirror hanging on the wall and stared at his reflection. He was dressed in soft brown leather breeches that fitted like a second skin. Long boots, a soft open necked white shirt and an emerald green sash around his waist completed the outfit. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled half way up his forearms which emphasized the decorative cuffs around his wrists. His hair was spiked and there was the faintest hint of eye liner under his eyes. The final touch was a hint of gloss across his lips. Not to color them but to emphasize how plump they were.
“Jensen.” Mike squeezed his shoulder. “You look amazing.”
“Job done.” JD grinned. “Now you two, hold still.”
The whip snapped twice, and clouds of sparkles followed, leaving behind Chris and Mike wearing similar outfits to Jensen’s, only their boots were knee length. Chris’s hair hung down his back and Mike’s bald head shone as if it had been polished.
“Here.” JD handed Jensen the fingerless leather gloves Jensen had been wearing the night of the ball.
Jensen slipped them on his hands with a nod of thanks.
“And you’ll need this.” Mike held out the red ribbon he’d saved from the fire. Jensen nodded, and Mike tied it round his neck.
“There’s one more thing.” Jensen said, hoping he hadn’t already asked enough of JD. “I want to give Jared something. He’ll be collaring me, and I want him to wear something that shows the world he’s mine. Forever.”
JD thought about it for a moment, then held his hand up, squeezed it into a tight fist, then opened it, revealing a plain gold band. Jensen picked it up, and read the inscription inside. “Mine Forever, Jensen.”
“Well, kid, gotta go. Enjoy your bonding night.” JD leered, then disappeared in a blinding flash of light.
“We are here to escort you, sir.”
“Thank you.” No-one had ever called Jensen ‘Sir’ before.
The three of them followed the guard through the palace to where the ceremony was to take place. As was tradition, the ceremony itself was reserved for family and close friends with the feast that followed for the rest of the guests
It was held outdoors on a hillock, where Jared was waiting, dressed in his black uniform. Misha grinned as Jensen approached and everyone turned to look at him. The look on Jared’s face was a perfect mix of awe, love and lust and Jensen couldn’t help smile smugly as he took his place at Jared’s side.
“I’d like to welcome those that Jared and Jensen have asked to witness their bonding.” Misha nodded to Jared’s parents and a handful of family members, two of Jared’s close friends and Mike and Chris. “They have signed a contract, and now will confirm their union with a collaring. Jared, you have the collar?”
“Jensen,” Misha asked. “Do you freely accept Jared’s collar?”
Jared turned towards Jensen, waiting until Jensen had slipped to his knees to unfasten the slightly scorched red ribbon around his neck to replace it with a collar made of black leather. They smiled at each other as Jared fastened the buckle. Jensen slipped the ring from his pocket and held it between his fingers.
Misha’s eyes widened, and he coughed and continued.
“And Jared, to you freely accept Jensen’s ring?”
Pleasantly surprised, Jared held out his hand to let Jensen slip the ring onto his finger. “I do.”
“Then all that remains is to seal your bonding with a kiss.”
Jared reached down to help Jensen to his feet and pulled him close, kissing him softly at first, then deeper, until they remembered where they were and stepped apart, blushing and smiling.
Jared whispered in Jensen’s ear that he wanted to have him to himself, a thought that sent a shiver rippling down Jensen’s spine. They got to their feet, intending to slip away without anyone noticing, but Mike spotted them, and stood up to offer a toast.
“To the happy couple. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”
The hall erupted with cheers and cat calls, and Jensen blushed all the way to his toes as Jared dragged him out of the hall. They spilled into Jared’s rooms laughing, giddy on the happy atmosphere of the night.
Neither of them had drunk much. They didn’t have to, they were already intoxicated with each other, and both knew where the night would end. They left a trail of clothes across the sitting room and into the bedroom, where Jared lay Jensen down on the bed and kissed every inch of his skin.
“Turn over.” Jared urged, and Jensen did, spreading his legs, remembering Jared’s touches from the day before and the promise that tonight he’d give Jensen more.
Jared kissed the base of Jensen’s spine, and whispered over his skin. “No holding back tonight, no waiting for my command. I want to see you come apart.”
Jensen shivered, then cried out as Jared’s tongue pushed inside his ass without warning. It wiggled and squirmed inside him, making Jensen shudder and buck against the crisp cotton sheets.
“Jared …” Jensen groaned and felt Jared’s lips, which were pressed against his skin, curl into a smile. “Want more, want you to fuck me, please Jared.”
The tongue disappeared and strong hands turned Jensen over, pushing his legs apart. “I can’t deny you anything.” Jared dipped his head and kissed the tip of Jensen’s hard cock, lapping at the moisture that seeped from the slit. He reached over to the night stand and picked up a small bottle of oil. He drizzled some onto his fingers and reached down to press a finger against Jensen’s hole. Already pliant from the intrusion of his tongue, one finger slipped in easily.
Jensen’s breath hitched and he focused on his breathing and relaxed, letting Jared in further.
“Now, please, I want you now.” Jensen sat up, reached for the oil, and dripped some onto Jared’s erection, smearing it up and down the hard flesh as Jared continued to work his fingers in and out of Jensen’s hole.
Jensen laid back down and pulled his knees back, an invitation Jared couldn’t resist. The head of his dick pressed against Jensen’s ass, meeting little resistance. Jensen pushed down, and then Jared was slipping inside, stretching Jensen wide, and leaving him panting. Jared pulled back a little, then thrust back in. As the feeling of being filled and opened intensified, Jensen arched his back off the bed, throwing his head back and reaching out for Jared, pulling him closer.
“Hold me down.” Jensen whispered.
Jared pulled back, looking deep in Jensen’s eyes. This had to be something he wanted, not just something he knew that Jared would want.
Jensen stretched his arms above his head, the invitation clear. Jared growled, shifting his position so that he could grasp Jensen’s wrists in one hand and run the other one down his body as he fucked him, each thrust harder, deeper than the one before.
Jensen moaned, and twisted in Jared’s grasp, testing his hold. Jared tightened his grip and Jensen smiled. He liked it, liked the feeling of being completely owned and possessed by Jared, knowing he could trust him completely.
Between their bodies, Jensen’s dick was trapped, the delicious friction as Jared moved against him becoming almost unbearable.
“Please, more, need more …”
Jared canted his hips changing the angle, and pounded into Jensen mercilessly. Jensen was lost in a haze of sensation, and when Jared slammed his mouth against Jensen’s pushing his tongue inside, it pushed Jensen over the edge. He cried out as he came, cock spurting between them, his ass tightening around Jared, who followed him, pumping his release into Jensen over and over.
The pair of them lay in a sweaty heap afterwards, neither wanting to move. Jensen felt sore, but in a good way. He gazed over at Jared, with his hair stuck to his neck and a blissful fucked out smile on his face and couldn’t believe how lucky he was.
Eventually, they emerged, freshly bathed, to take breakfast with the King and Queen. Jensen knelt at Jared’s side, smiling softly at the way Jared’s fingers traced patterns on the nape of his neck. When Jared suggested that he and Jensen take a walk, the King and Queen gave each other knowing looks.
They walked through the woods, lingering for a while at the tree house, remembering how they’d played there when they were younger. Jared took Jensen’s hand and led him further, along the path Jensen knew led to the castle he’d lived in as a child. Jensen didn’t know if he was ready to go back, to see it in the state of disrepair it had fallen into, but with Jared by his side, he knew he would be able to finish it.
But as they approached, he was surprised to see that the gardens that he thought would be overgrown, had been recently tended. In what had been the vegetable garden, there were rows of rich, freshly turned earth, and all the trees had been pruned back.
Jensen turned to Jared, but his mate just smiled and walked on. They reached the front of the castle, and Jensen stared. A flag hung outside, with the Ackles crest proudly displayed on it. The windows were all open, the clean glass glinted in the sunlight, and white curtains billowed in the breeze.
“Jared,” Jensen whispered. “You did this?”
“I wanted to give it back to you,” Jared smiled. “And I left the inside for us to do together. If you want to. If you want to live here again.”
“Both of us?”
“Yes, both of us,” Jared grinned. “We could do with somewhere of our own to live, and I thought …”
Jensen cut him off with a kiss. “Yes, yes, I want that. You’ve given me so much, you’ve given me my life back. How can I ever repay you?”
“I’ve got all I want right here with you.” Jared pulled Jensen close and as Jensen looked into eyes full of love, he decided that maybe, happy endings were possible after all.