OMG, this chapter was STUNNING! Such wonderful moments for Remin and Naritano. The last scene was my favorite, but there was so many other great moments.
“You won’t be quizzed on your knowledge of opera,” Remin assured him. “And if you
would like to visit the museums, or attend the theater, you’re in a terrific position to be able to.
I have no desire to dictate how you handle your funds, but your income should be adequate
for regular theater outings. I would be happy to accompany you to the museums, if it would
suit you. I’m very knowledgeable about almost everything you’ll find therein.”
I see a "it's not a date" date in their future!
“You have much nicer jewelry than that,” Xio Voe said coldly.
“Well, I’m Anosukinom,” Kudorin said. “Of course I have a lot of nice things. That
doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t also have this.”
“You should have whatever you like,” Xio Voe said, and dropped coins onto the
counter. “Would you like to wear it now?”
“You didn’t have to buy that for me,” Kudorin said, gazing up at Xio Voe with naked
“I believe that you should have whatever you like. If I am able to expedite the
process, I will.” Taking the box from the woman, who was still counting and recounting the
coins, Xio Voe lifted the necklace, fastening it around Kudorin’s neck. “Does it please you?”
That was adorable. It reminded me of Bade wanting Orinakin to have every nice purple thing in the world.
Remin smiled. “The only thing about sex that makes me uncomfortable is when the
straps are too tight. But we won’t dwell on a topic you’d prefer to avoid. No one’s ever called
you Tano, before? Then were you unfamiliar with its meaning?”
Naritano was staring at him, unblinking, looking almost worried.
Ah. “Forgive me, familiarity has loosened my tongue.” It occurred to Remin that while
Naritano was the right age to have heard the tales of his exploits, the geography was all
wrong. The stories and rumors had become so widespread, most people knew a good deal, if
not a great deal, or knew people with firsthand experience. But Naritano had been outside
the general stream of communication, and then had left the country entirely. He may not have
been back long enough to have heard a lot, or to believe or understood what he’d heard.
Should Remin inform him?
Maybe not yet. It might be more entertaining to watch Naritano figure it out for
And won't that be a fun revelation?
“I promised Anosukinom that I would feed you properly. You can eat this to keep
hunger at bay while I cook something,” he added, handing a few coins to the vendor. “Prince
Anoremin, I have to insist.”
“Oh, you do?” Now Remin was amused. “I rule over the most significant nation in the
world, Chef Pitok. What makes you think that I can’t adequately determine for myself what
and when and how I’d like to eat?”
“Anosukinom rules over Orina Anoris, and Anosukinom told me to take care of you.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I will take a few minutes to prepare something for you, and-”
“All right, all right,” Remin said, turning towards the palace, accepting the sandwich
and eating the first half. “There’s no need for either of us to pretend that I wouldn’t love for
you to cook for me.”
Not only did Tano just buy Remin a sandwich, which I found to be totally endearing, this was such a familiar exchange between them. I think it might have been the first time that Remin had brought up his station and Tano didn't immediately fall into the "Yes, Your Highness, I'm sorry, Your Highness" that he had before.
Reaching down, Remin coiled his free hand around Naritano’s wrist, then guided
Naritano’s hand upward, along his forearm. Naritano gasped, fingers dragging across
Remin’s wrist, palm hot at the bend of Remin’s elbow. It felt good, and Remin’s grip relaxed,
his own fingers almost unconsciously caressing the inside of Naritano’s wrist as Naritano
stroked his skin. Remin leaned against the doorframe, relaxed, glad to be the recipient of a
man’s touch again. And not in the back of a carriage with someone he’d just met, either.
Naritano’s touch was shy, curious, learning, and Remin’s eyes slid slowly shut.
“I’m drunk,” Remin said, and he didn’t open his eyes because he didn’t want to see
rapt desire on Naritano’s face. “I haven’t let anyone be this intimate with me since I was
nineteen. I want to be able to do this, to enjoy this, without risk. Can I have that, Tano? Will
you give me that?”
A heartbeat of silence. “Yes.” Naritano’s voice was quiet and respectful. “Of course,
Your Highness. You are never at risk with me.”
Remin hadn’t trusted any men around him, hadn’t trusted himself around men, for five
years. But at the sound of Naritano’s voice, he slowly opened his eyes.
Naritano wore the same quiet, cheerful smile as always. He squeezed Remin’s hand,
his other hand dropping to his side. “We’ll walk slowly.”
Remin didn’t remember becoming tense, but all of a sudden his tension was gone. He
ran his hand over Naritano’s forearm, just for one last taste of the muscular, masculine feel,
and smiled back. “And if I land on my ass along the way, there will be no rumors of it floating
around the kitchens tomorrow.”
“Of course not!” Naritano seemed surprised. “Never, Your Highness.” They
progressed a few steps together. “Unless you start singing bawdy tavern songs while you’re
down there, of course. Then, well, then it’s only to be expected.”
They laughed together down the hallway.
What a wonderful way to end a chapter and start a Saturday.