Sequel to The Best-Laid Plans
Once upon a time, two handsome young princes fell in love, faced down adversity, and lived happily-ever-after ... until one romantic evening, they unwittingly ate a confection laced with a mind-wiping toxin.
Crown Prince Efren of Zioneven blindsided Prince Marcelo of Sheburat when he used The Contingency Plan embedded in a peace treaty to marry the naïve young prince. Now, Marcelo is shocked again when he awakens in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar land, in the arms of a stranger who’s taking such liberties!
Will that ignominious new beginning to their relationship doom their chances at rekindling their love? Or will Efren’s giddiness and the less formal surroundings of Zioneven propel them toward a more teasingly fun rapport?
Marcelo and Efren have forgotten more than their love. On their journey home to Zioneven, their Best-Laid Plans went awry when Marcelo was abducted. Now, neither remembers the unexpected strength of character and ingenuity Marcelo manifested to survive his harrowing ordeal, or Efren’s frantic search for his new husband.
Were Marcelo and Efren specifically targeted for the Forget-Me-Not poisoning, or were they the victims of a random assault? Is this new attack related to Marcelo’s abduction and his sister’s death? Will Marcelo revert to his old mild-mannered, unassuming self, or will he step up to prove he’s the same brave man his new family claims he is amid the fresh danger swirling around them?
Efren, the crown prince of Zioneven, blinked himself awake and studied the soft curls of beautiful strawberry blond hair haloing the head of the young man slumbering in his arms. Seemed like Efren should have a headache if he’d drunk enough spirits to forget bringing this one home to his bed.
But his head didn’t ache, so his personal servant, Dru, must have brought the man in after Efren had fallen asleep. Except, Dru had only ever brought him a gigolo upon request before this, never as a surprise.
He blinked again and shook the remaining cobwebs out of his head. He’d probably forgotten about an earlier solicitation he’d made to Dru when he had drunk more spirts than he should -- a habit he needed to break despite his desire to “forget” about his upcoming wedding.
Odd that Efren hadn’t woken up, but his subconscious must have known he was safe. Likely he’d come half-awake or worked the action into a now-forgotten dream. Obviously, he’d done enough for Dru to feel safe leaving the man with him.
Heat swirled through Efren’s bloodstream as his gaze traveled the length of that lithe body. He wasn’t fooled by the lean physique; strength and a combination of agility and flexibility likely simmered in those beautifully toned limbs.
A lovely surprise to wake up to. He would have to give Dru a bonus ... along with a caution to verify Efren was truly and fully awake before leaving a man in his bed. He drew in a lungful of berry-scented hair mixed with a clean, masculine scent.
“Wake up, my lovely.” Efren gently shook the man’s shoulder and landed a light kiss to his forehead.
The man’s eyes didn’t open, but the movement of his lids gave the impression of blinking without actually taking a peek, and his body stiffened. Perhaps he wasn’t a professional, and waking up in a stranger’s bed, he would be scouring his memory, processing where he was and how he’d come to be here.
Efren ran a finger along the man’s jaw then tipped up his chin for a proper, although still light, kiss. “Come, my lovely. Let’s make the most of this glorious morning, hmm?” He pressed his arousal against the man’s own to augment his words.
Stunning blue eyes that would beautifully reflect the Zioneven summer sky snapped open and stared in horror as if he were shackled in a Proye dungeon with Efren approaching, wielding instruments of torture.
Efren smiled reassuringly. Perhaps the young man had drunk more spirits than he was used to when he’d allowed Dru to coax him to Efren’s bed and couldn’t remember how he’d gotten here. But no, Dru would never bring him a man who was visibly drunk, so the man must be able to hold his liquor well even if it eventually affected his recall.
“You are in friendly hands, my lovely. You are free to stay or go, whichever you’d rather.” Efren held his breath and cut off his desire to plead for the man to stay.
With wide, stricken eyes, the man pushed away and scrambled out of bed. Efren huffed a heavy sigh and ran a hand over his face. He hefted himself to a sitting position as the young man stumbled to where two sets of clothing lay folded across the backs of chairs.
What had Dru been thinking? Efren gave a mental shrug. This man must be one of those whose personality changed completely when he’d been drinking to be so horrified upon realizing what he’d agreed to while under the influence.
The man sifted through the garments as his breaths grew louder and quicker. His head swiveled as he searched Efren’s bedchamber. “Where is my clothing?” His voice wafted out from between quivering lips in a breathy whimper.
More beauty than brains, perhaps? “My lovely, I’m sure they must be the smaller of those two sets.” Efren’s tone was more sardonic than he would have liked, but it was too early in the morning to deal with this level of rejection before his first cup of tea.
The man shook his head. “Not mine.”
But he picked them up anyway and quickly but jerkily stepped into the smaller set of leather leggings before slipping the tunic over his head. His brows came together as he peered down at himself as if perplexed by the perfect custom fit.
Efren snorted, stood, pulled the bell rope to summon Dru, then stepped into his own pair of leather leggings. He held his shoulders back although his inclination was to slump. He was weary of this disappointing scene.