Tobal has secrets, but doesn’t every demon? Of course, his secret is a big one since he’s the prince of Hell’s secret brother, but he doesn’t mean any harm. He never thought he’d have a chance at getting to know Berith, or that he’d ever see his foster brother again, yet here he is, living in a palace and spending time with both of them.
He just wishes people would stop trying to use him to kill Berith.
Lon knows Tobal is hiding something, but he isn’t sure what. He’s convinced it has to do with the many attacks on the prince and his family, and as head of security, it hits him hard. He has to do something, even though Berith doesn’t believe Tobal is involved.
And even though Lon finds Tobal sexy and adorable, he doesn’t want to believe he could do something like this.
When Tobal meets a shady guy in an even shadier tavern, Lon knows he was right, but when he corners Tobal, he finds out what his secret is. Tobal is involved in the attacks, but not in the way Lon thought.
No, Berith’s enemies are bigger and stronger, and it’s Lon’s job to take them on and defeat them.
Sometimes, it was hard to believe that this was Tobal’s life.
He looked down at the table, unsure where to start. He’d never had this much food at his disposal before, and he still wasn’t used to it. His instinct was to grab as much as he could and hoard it in his room, but it wouldn’t do to behave that way, and it wasn’t necessary. If he was hungry, he just had to ask one of the many servants hanging around the palace.
They made Tobal uncomfortable, almost as much as the abundance of food and everything else. He wasn’t used to having someone do things for him. All his life, he’d had to fight for what he needed, including food. Here, he didn’t have to do anything. He only had to ask, and someone did whatever he needed for him. When he tried to do things on his own, servants usually appeared flustered because he was doing their job. He’d made sure to ask if they were happy here, if they needed anything, but it looked like Berith was a good prince and ruler. Everyone seemed satisfied, which wasn’t something Tobal was used to, either.
“You look like you don’t know where to start,” a gentle voice said.
Tobal looked up to peer at Sabin, his brother’s partner. “That’s because I don’t.”
Sabin’s expression was both sad and sweet. “Zeno behaves the same way.”
“I’m fine,” Zeno said gruffly.
He’d never admit otherwise, but Sabin and Tobal knew him. That was one of the reasons Sabin had decided to live away from the palace. Zeno could never have lived there, but Sabin couldn’t be away because of his job. They’d found a compromise by having a home built in the palace’s extensive gardens, and that was where Zeno spent most of his time.
Tobal didn’t blame him. He liked it here, and it was a massive difference from where they’d grown up. He was fine living in the palace, though. It allowed him more time to explore the place and to give Zeno and Sabin space.
“You can eat whatever you want,” Sabin said. “And if what you want isn’t on the table, it’ll be brought to you.”
“We’re fine,” Zeno insisted.
And they were. Even though they had no idea how to behave, they were both settling down into palace life. Tobal was starting to feel restless, but it was better than being out there, wondering where his next meal would come from and having to fight to stay alive. Besides, moving into the palace had allowed him to be closer to his brother, which wasn’t something he’d ever expected to happen. He hadn’t thought he’d see Zeno again after Zeno left their little town, and now that he had, he wasn’t letting go easily.
He didn’t regret anything that had happened in the past. His childhood and his entire life, really, had been harsh, but the same went for most demons. Very few of them grew up in luxury like the prince had and like his daughter still was. Tobal couldn’t imagine growing up in different circumstances than the ones he’d had to face, but he couldn’t help but wonder what his life would have been like if he’d been born at the palace rather than in the middle of the desert.
He pushed those thoughts away and took a sip of juice from his glass. Wondering wouldn’t bring anything good. If he’d grown up here, he’d never have met Zeno, and that wasn’t something he was willing to wrap his mind around. They might not be related by blood, but that didn’t mean Zeno was any less his brother, and Tobal cared about him. Besides, he couldn’t change the past. No one could.
“What will you do today?” Sabin asked Zeno.
Zeno shrugged one shoulder. “Not sure. Someone reached out to hire me, so I’m meeting them, but I don’t have anything else planned.”
Sabin nodded. He didn’t tell Zeno he didn’t have to work, probably because he knew that wouldn’t go down well. “Just remember, nothing that would put you in danger,” he warned with a smile.
“I wouldn’t dare,” Zeno promised.
Tobal had never seen his brother like this, but then he didn’t think his brother had ever been in love. Sabin had done the unthinkable and found a way to Zeno’s heart, and Tobal couldn’t have been happier. He didn’t know much about Zeno’s adult life, but they’d grown up together. He’d seen what Zeno had gone through, and he deserved Sabin—and so much more. He deserved everything he’d ever wanted, and Tobal hoped Zeno would get it.
“What about you?” Zeno asked, turning his attention to Tobal. “Do you have any plans today?”
Tobal shrugged. “Not really. I’m going to have to find something to do soon, but for now, I don’t have plans.”
“I know it’s useless to tell both of you that Berith doesn’t need you to do anything, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware of that,” Sabin said. “You’re family to him. He can support you through everything you might want to try, but there’s no rush for you to find what you want to do with your new life.”
Zeno had stars in his eyes when he reached for Sabin’s hand over the table. “Thank you,” he murmured.
“It’s not me you have to thank for this. Besides, Berith did it for all of us.”
“Still. We realize how lucky we are.”
“We do,” Tobal confirmed.
And he felt like an asshole for everything he was hiding.
He couldn’t tell anyone, least of all Zeno, who would attempt to fix things for him. No one could fix any of this. The only thing Tobal could do to make things better would be to talk to Berith, but he had no idea how that would end, and he wasn’t that brave.
Actually, he was terrified at the thought of talking to Berith.