Ilyhas isn’t a prince, not in the human realm—and he likes it that way. He could do without working in the League’s infirmary, but he knows things could be much worse, and that job means he’s close to his brother and the other people he cares for, including Jadon, the man in charge of their branch of the League.
Esi is living the dream. He escaped Hell with the man he loves and has a job he enjoys as a nurse. He works with the warriors day in and day out, and he gets to live openly with Ilyhas without fearing they’ll be torn apart and hurt for loving each other. He hadn’t expected to crush on Jadon, but it doesn’t worry him.
Jadon has too much work to do to fall for not one, but two guys. Besides, Ilyhas and Esi are together, and he’s not going to come between them after everything they went through. He’s happy as he is, focused on his job, and he tries to forget about them, because he knows those kinds of thoughts are dangerous for his heart.
But what if Esi and Ilyhas want Jadon as well?
Ilyhas is finally starting to be himself after spending all his life being what his father expected him to be. He’s not sure why that includes falling for Jadon, but when he and Esi talk about it and agree they both want him, he decides he doesn’t care.
But when Ilyhas, then Esi, are cursed just as they start learning how to be with each other as a throuple, things start to crumble. Ilyhas doesn’t have much time. Jadon needs to find the person who is hurting the men he loves before he loses them forever.
Ilyhas shivered and wrapped the blanket tighter around his shoulders. “Why is this place so cold?” he whined.
Esi put down his book and rolled his eyes. “It’s not cold.”
“It is compared to the palace.”
“That's because the palace was in Hell.”
“I know. That doesn’t change the fact that this place is cold.” And Ilyhas hated being cold.
He’d felt this way ever since he and Esi had arrived in the human world. It was one of the problems he had with the place, but he couldn’t complain about the others, not out loud. What would people think of him if he complained about his job being hard, or about Cumar’s old apartment being uncomfortable and chilly? A lot of people already thought he was snobbish and that he looked down on them because of who he was. He wasn’t sure why they didn’t think the same of his brother, but he wasn’t surprised. Cumar was good with people. Everyone loved him, and they didn’t care who he was, or what he was. They didn’t care who his father was. But the people who didn’t like Ilyhas always held his father against him, and he wasn’t sure what to do with that. He knew his father had been a monster. What did that have to do with him, though?
Ilyhas shook his head and smiled at Esi. No matter how hated he was by everyone else, he still had Esi and Cumar, and even Cumar’s friends. That was more family than he’d ever had, even when he’d lived in the palace with his father and the rest of his siblings. He hadn’t loved any of them, not the way he loved Cumar, and certainly not the way he loved Esi. “I’m fine.”
Esi was frowning. “Are you sure? I could call work for you and tell them you’re not feeling well.”
Ilyhas shook his head. No one would take that well, and they’d probably make fun of him when he went back. He didn’t think he could stand more of that. “I’m okay. Just cold.”
Esi put his book down and wrapped an arm around Ilyhas’ shoulders. “I know this is hard for you.”
“Not harder than it is for you.”
“That’s not true. I know your father’s name carries a potent meaning even here. It’s not attached to me, and people accepted me more easily. Don’t think I haven’t seen the way people look at you or heard what they say when they think you can’t hear them. I know how hard this is for you. You thought you’d come here and be accepted, yet most people associate you with your father.”
Ilyhas relaxed against Esi’s side. He didn’t have to be strong, not with him. He didn’t have to keep up the mask he’d been wearing since he was a child, the one he showed everyone else. Esi loved him, and that wouldn’t change, no matter what Esi saw. “I’ll make it work. I can take whatever people throw at me. It’s not worse than what happened in the palace.”
Esi softly snorted. “That’s right. But you know you can come to me if you need to talk, right? I’m not going to think you’re weak or anything. And I know how much you dislike this place.”
“I never said I disliked it.” But Ilyhas did. Maybe he was spoiled. He no doubt was, at least when it came to luxury. He might not have been loved as a child, but he’d always had everything he could want when it came to toys or clothes. His father had been one of the most powerful men in their region of Hell. That meant Ilyhas hadn’t been prepared for the small, cold apartment, for the shabby furniture or for the horrendous neighborhood he now lived in. But most of all, he hadn’t been prepared for the open contempt and hate he got from the humans and some of the demons he saw daily. He didn’t fool himself into thinking the people he used to live with at the palace hadn’t felt that way, but they’d hidden it behind smiles and reverence.
These people didn’t. Ilyhas wasn’t anyone, not in this city, not in this realm. He was just a demon, and people hated him for that, even though it was something he had no power over.
He was going to have to get used to everything, though. He couldn’t go back. He wouldn’t even if he could, but he doubted his sister would welcome him. No, he was here to stay. This was his life now, no matter how different it was from the one he had before.
“I’ll be okay,” he said, hoping he sounded more convincing than he felt.
Esi kissed the top of Ilyhas’ head. “I know you will. I’ll do whatever I have to do to make sure you’re happy. That’s the main reason we decided to move here, isn’t it?”
Ilyhas tilted his head so he could look at Esi. “We came here so we could be together. So we could be free. I’m ready to pay whatever price comes with that decision. Honestly, having to deal with people who don’t like me or think I’m a spoiled brat isn’t that bad, and not that different from what I dealt with before. People just tell me that to my face instead of waiting until I’m gone to say it.”
Esi rubbed Ilyhas’ back. “I wish you didn’t have to deal with it. I wish people would talk to you and get to know you instead of assuming things about you.”
Ilyhas wished that too, but wishing wouldn’t change anything. “I’ll be fine. I have you and Cumar, and Cumar’s friends don’t do that.”