Read The Emerald Prince Online
Authors: Kayci Morgan
The Emerald Prince
Copyright © 2014 Kayci Morgan
Forbidden Lust Press
Table of Contents
Elliot raised his wine glass to be refilled as Princess Zariya spoke cheerfully about her day. Zariya’s presence made the world shine more brightly. An exotic princess from across the sea, she was desired by every man at court, but it was Prince Elliot who was graced with the pleasure of her company.
Issi, a servant girl, stepped forward and refilled his glass. Elliot couldn’t help but notice the strawberry curls that peaked from under her headscarf and how starkly it contrasted with Zariya’s long dark mane, which she allowed to hang free over her shoulders. But both were beautiful in their own unique way.
The same with Issi’s skin; he’d seen her pale milky skin a thousand times and never noticed, except now how it contrasted with Zariya’s caramel tone. Zariya was different in so many ways, yet shockingly beautiful in each of them, which made Elliot more appreciative of beauty, even that of servant girls.
“Do you want her?”
Elliot’s head snapped up from Issi’s ample bosom to Zariya’s steady amber eyes. He clawed his mind for a response that would save him. He knew exactly how this would go; he’d seen it happen far too many times with Entia ladies at court. Zariya would throw things, possibly pour the jug of wine over his head, and then stomp from the room in disgust. He would spend the next week outside her door, his arms full of gifts while begging for forgiveness.
Before Elliot could answer, Zariya walked over to the girl who trembled at her approach. She stepped behind her and pulled at the string holding her bodice shut. “Because if you want her, you can have her. Alone, if you wish. Or you can have us both at the same time, if that’s what you prefer.”
Issi didn’t move as Zariya casually undressed her.
Elliot gawked. “She’s not a slave. You can’t just offer her to me like a present.”
Zariya pulled down the arm of Issi’s dress, then planted a kiss on the servant girl’s exposed shoulder. “I want you to understand, you are perfectly free to refuse. No harm will come to you. You will not be punished in any way. Do you want to bed the prince?”
The jug shook in her hand as she nodded. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
Elliot was more than a little surprised. Entian women placed a high value on their virtue. He was certain Issi would refuse. After all, part of what made his Fezami princess so wonderfully different from all other women he’d ever met was how comfortable she was with her sexuality. Even though she was now in a country where everyone dressed conservatively, she still wore the light silks native to her own country.
Some of the ladies of court found this scandalous. Elliot discovered he loved scandal. With her permission, Elliot stood up and kissed Issi, overwhelmed by the passion and adventure Zariya brought into his life.
The next morning, he awoke to the shrill sound of Victoria threatening Tannis, his guard, with bodily harm. “I will see my brother whenever I please. Lay a hand on me and the king will have you beheaded.”
A few moments later, the doors to his bedchamber swung open, and Elliot cursed Tannis as the worst guard in history. “Can you believe…” Victoria words trailed off when she noticed her brother’s sleeping arrangement.
Issi grabbed for the covers and tried to hide her nakedness. But Zariya sat up and addressed Victoria as if she had just walked in on them playing a hand of cards. “Did you need to speak with your brother in private?”
Victoria moved her mouth but no words came out, just incomprehensible sounds.
Without a hint of shame, Zariya climbed off of Elliot and picked her dress up off the floor. She wrapped the silk around her body, tying it with expertise before heading to the door.
Issi scurried out behind her, head bowed, face red, with the covers tied around her and her dress bundled up in her arms.
The moment the door closed, Victoria started in on him. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Elliot stretched and yawned. “What I was doing was obvious. I was sleeping.”
“I can understand you bedding that whore. Only the gods know how many other men went before you. But what about Issi? She may want to marry one day, and you’ve ruined her! How can you be so selfish, Elliot? She may only be a servant, but she deserves her happiness.”
“First, don’t call Zariya a whore. Secondly, I did not deflower Issi. Expectations aren’t as strict as they once were, especially for common women. And if she ever does decide to get married and has trouble finding a husband, I’ll personally add to her dowry. How about that?”
“How do you know she wasn’t a virgin? Did she say that?”
“There is a difference between the first time and the times after that. A difference you’ll learn very soon.”
Victoria’s cheek’s reddened.
Elliot knew she was imagining her wedding night with Sir Blaine, a knight revered throughout the kingdom for his feats of bravery and his prowess with a sword. If he were even half as good at pleasing women as he was at killing things, Victoria would be a very happy wife.
She shook her head. “This isn’t about me. It’s about you. You need to stop bedding that whore. What if she gets pregnant? Father couldn’t let a bastard be heir. If that happened, you might have to marry her!”
Elliot could only dream of such a fate. Zariya, his wife, and carrying his child. The gods couldn’t be so kind. With his elder sister being married in two days, he knew he’d be forced to marry soon after, and while Zariya was of royal blood, she’d lost her kingdom. She had no wealth, no army, no power. She fled from her land and was now living in Tys under his father’s protection. She was meant to be little more than an interesting diversion for court. The foreign princess with a tragic tale. Father would never let her become the next queen.
“Would it be so bad if Father would allow us to marry? She’s beautiful, intelligent, and kind. All the qualities a queen should have.”
“She’s a whore.”
Elliot’s fists tightened. “Why did you come bursting into my room anyway?”
“Oh, I completely forgot with the unpleasantness. I came to let you know that the Ryndens will be arriving earlier than we thought. According to the scouts, they should reach the palace by nightfall. So you’ll have to dress up for dinner. And since you’re so close to Zariya, do you think you can convince her to dress like a woman of her station and not a cheap prostitute?”
There was nothing cheap about Zariya, but Elliot knew once Victoria had made her mind up about something or someone there was no changing it. It would have been a waste of effort to even try. So he just gritted his teeth through the constant insults. In a few days, she’d be married off, and he wouldn’t have to listen to her self-righteous rambling anymore.
“She hates Entian styled clothing. Especially the dresses. She says she can’t even walk in them.”
Victoria lifted her billowy skirt and took a few steps, emphasizing her own ease of mobility. “Well, do your best. Her country must have more modest clothing. Fezami can’t walk around half naked all the time. What about when it’s cold?”
“Fezam is mostly desert.”
“Even deserts get cold some time.” With an annoyed huff, Victoria headed for the door. “You are the future king. You have to see this for what it is. You can’t let his woman control you with sex.”
Elliot counted the days until his sister was married off.
Victoria rushed down the hall. She couldn't believe what she had just seen. Her brother in bed with not one but two women. The shame of it. And on us such an important occasion. How could her brother be so inconsiderate? What if the Ryndens learned of his behavior? They might question her morals and call off the wedding! She would never forgive her brother for something like that.
Though it wasn’t entirely his fault. Their mother had died in childbirth, so Elliot had never gotten a chance to know her. He’d never seen the strength of marriage. He’d never seen the man their father was when he still had his queen by his side. His devotion to their mother was legendary, and their love was epic. Victoria had seen their love and could settle for nothing less.
In two days, she would be married to the most desirable man in all the kingdom. He was known for his nobility, his charm, and his rugged handsomeness. They were a perfect match.
No longer would she'd be a mere princess, second to her brother in all things. She would be Lady Rynden, with a castle of her own where her word was law. Of course, he would be Lord of their castle, but men like him were often off fighting wars on some distant front leaving all the important decisions to their beloved wives.
Her court would come to life with her energy, her vibrancy, her impeccable morale fiber. It would be nothing like Tys. Her father had turned a blind eye to the corruption in his court, in this city of trade and commerce. Tys was rotting from the inside out. There was nothing she could do about it. But at least she didn’t have to stay watch.
When she reached her room, Marla was already laying out Victoria’s finest dresses. Marla was more than a simple servant. When Victoria was ten, she read about an order of women trained in combat to be protectors of noble women. The practice fell out of fashion over time, but the Daughters of Niklas still took in orphan girls and trained them into fierce warriors. Victoria insisted her father procure one of these female guards to serve as her protector.
It took a bit of crying and a lot of kicking, but a week later, Marla was presented to her. Marla was ten years older and often found herself not only acting as a protector, but filling the much needed role of Mother. If it wasn’t for Marla’s unquestionable devotion and loyalty, Victoria might have found herself as adrift as her brother.
“You would not believe what I just saw.”
Marla held up a purple gown, etched with gold trimming and examined it. The garment seemed strange in her hands considering she wore black leathers and a sword at her hip. “Your brother in bed with Princess Zariya and the servant girl, Issi.”
Victoria gasped in shock.
“You yell very loudly,” Marla explained as she moved to the next gown, a baby blue dress Victoria wasn’t particularly fond of. She’d outgrown ruffles a few years back.
“There is no way you could hear my screaming halfway across the palace, no matter how loud it was.”
“Forgive me. I meant that you yell very loudly
servants’ gossip spreads very quickly.”
Victoria’s face heated with the knowledge that the entire palace was probably whispering about her brother and his undignified behavior. She’d have to find a way to put a stop to it before the Ryndens arrived.
Marla went back to the purple dress. “I think this one would be perfect.”
It was fortunate their family colors were purple and gold. So much of their clothing, armor, even their furnishings seemed to accent their most striking and unusual feature—ethereal green eyes.