Yes, Marc and Jesse are still underway, but I need more time to think. So…I had the bright idea of turning a shelved idea into a heteromance I can dash off quickly – like, in weeks. Here’s the opening of “A Great Prince”…if this doesn’t sell like pancakes, I’m going into door-to-door encyclopedia sales… Oh, and this pic was my inspiration for Nikolas!
His Most Gracious and Imperial Majesty, King Nikolas of Danubia, got low on his snowboard, aiming straight down the black diamond run. His security detail was back there somewhere, he supposed. Near a turn in the run, one of the paparazzi was hiding in the snow.
Some security detail I’ve got, he thought. This guy could have a gun instead of a camera.
With a twitch of his hips, he banked sharply, the heels of his feet digging into the mountain. The effect was like a belt sander on a piece of metal, frozen sparks flying through the air. He hoped it ruined the picture. (It didn’t – it showed Nikolas’ powerful form kicking up a spray of ice as if it were a wave he was surfing, another wonderful cover shot of His Sexy Majesty for the tabloids.)
He looked back. The paparazzo had fallen over in fright, and his security men were hunched over their skis, poles held tight to their bodies, trying to catch up with their King.
But he was too fast, even for those athletic men. Weighing over 200 and standing six foot three would be a liability if he’d wanted to be a trick rider, doing flips in a halfpipe – those guys were always astonishingly short. But for speed racing, size was an asset – the more you weighed, the faster you went downhill.
“I’m James Bond, bitches,” he whispered to himself. And they were the Bond villain’s henchmen, trying to run him down. But James Bond always won the race.
And he wasn’t that concerned about his safety here. This was Davos, after all. Anyone who didn’t look like a billionaire was probably detained by the Swiss police. Hell, if they hadn’t known I was a fucking King they would arrest me. I still look like a suspicious character.
Down in the flats, he started making S turns, little braking moves to slow himself down. His security detail formed back around him, two in front, two behind. Their half-unzipped jackets flapped in the breeze as they moved down the hill. Lots of jackets flapped in the breeze here in Davos, especially with this convention thing going on. Open coats provided easy access to holstered weapons. A half open coat, and no gloves, that was the giveaway.
Nikolas noticed things like that. Noticing things like that had kept him alive in the years when there was nobody to stop a man with a hand inside his jacket, staring him down, preparing to take a life.
Well, that was a long time ago. It had been five years since he’d been a fucking nobody, just a wannabe gengszter, a punk kid on the streets of Szombathely.
A girl squeaked as he just missed her by inches. Make way for the King, motherfuckers!
A caravan of snowmobiles discreetly pulled up as he came to a stop. There was already a man at his feet, whose sole job was to get Nikolas out of the quick release bindings on his board. Nikolas was lifting a foot before the man was done freeing it, knowing with royalty’s confidence that no obstacle would ever hinder him. The man was good – he’d dropped to his knees just as Nikolas stopped, both his hands flying to release the boots from the board.
“Thanks, man,” Nikolas said quietly. Manners had been very handy when he’d lived on the streets – disrespecting the wrong person was a quick ticket to the graveyard. And the habit was too ingrained now to discard, even if he wanted to. His servant nodded discreetly.
Also, he thought, you never know when you’ll be the servant again. Nothing lasts forever, not even a throne. Be nice on the way up, et cetera.
He hopped on the back of one of the snowmobiles. They were the new, electric ones, he noticed. Quiet, discreet, inoffensive. He frowned. Made in fucking Burgenland, of course. We don’t make anything in Danubia.
The snowmobiles took him and his detail to a waiting Rolls-Royce. It was parked in a No Parking zone, like so many cars in Davos, where rules were for other people, not for “Us.”
Barnabas was standing by the door, holding it open. The old scarecrow, Nikolas thought with affection at the sight of him. His long black cashmere coat might as well be a cape, the way it made him look like Dracula. How could Nikolas have ennobled him as anything but a Count?
“Your Majesty,” Barnabas croaked. “We are late for an appointment.”
Nikolas peeled off his coat and extended his hand. Someone was there to take it, of course. He ducked into the Rolls and threw himself into the far corner. A glass of Jack Daniels was already poured in a crystal glass, set on a lacquered wooden tray. The glass held two fingers’ worth of the whiskey – two of Barnabas’ fingers, exactly. A perfect measure as always, since Barnabas used the only two fingers he still had on his left hand.
His Lord Chamberlain slid in next to him, shut the door, and rapped on the glass to let the driver know it was time to go.
“Royalty is never late, Barnabas,” Nikolas said, savoring his drink. “The appointed time is the time at which Royalty arrives.”
He was warm from his ride, and the drink. He pulled off his tight black Spider pullover, losing some of the heat he’d built up on his ride. Below that he wore a white, equally form-fitting UnderArmour t-shirt. He looked down at his own body with pleasure, knowing he could still carry off wearing the tight stuff. Good living hadn’t made him fat yet. Like many who’d endured starvation early in life, it probably never would.
“Not when the appointment is with other royalty,” Barnabas said sarcastically. “Your Majesty,” he remembered to add.
Nikolas sighed. “So what, do I have to wear a suit or something?”
“Yes, sir, you do. You are meeting the Crown Princess of Burgenland, and she will most certainly be wearing a suit.”
“I bet she will.” Nikolas thought of the pictures he’d seen over the years of Francesca Albertine, or “old Frankie,” as he called her. She was twenty, four years younger than Nikolas. But she looked about ten years older, always walking and talking like an old woman. So stiff she made Queen Elizabeth look like a party animal.
“So,” Nikolas ventured. “Have you found me a good translator for this evening?”
Barnabas snorted. “Yes, sir, a most capable ‘translator’ has been found for you. Quite to your taste.”
“Excellent.” The World Economic Forum talked a good game about gathering together to discuss stimulating ideas, but when so many powerful men gathered in one place, they wanted plenty of women around to cater to their needs. Of course, everyone pretended otherwise. Talk to a Russian hooker loitering in the lobby of the Belvedere or the National, and in her broken English she would always claim, “I am translator.”
He and his security entourage swept through the lobby of the Belvedere, just another world leader and his bulky friends – nothing to see here. In his room, he showered quickly and emerged from the bathroom in his towel.
But not until after he’d spent a minute examining himself in the mirror. He was twenty-four years old, and had the body of a man who’d lived a vigorous, rigorous life. There were scars from knife fights, scars from cigarette burns, one scar where a bullet had grazed his side. He hated that one the most; the crazy angle ruined the otherwise perfect symmetry of his six pack and the V shape at his hips.
He’d been lean and stringy in his early teens, from hunger and deprivation. Once he’d been taken in by the gangsters of Szombathely, where nobody went hungry, genetics kicked in. He shot up three inches and gained fifty pounds, all muscle.
He watched the droplets of water roll over his abs as he clenched them. Even the soft life of a King hadn’t spoiled his chiseled core. Yet. Lots of exercise, lots of sex, and of course some good coke now and then would keep him in fighting trim.
His dark eyes and hair, and his slightly olive skin, were the inheritance of Central Europe’s old clashes with the Muslim world. People said he looked like Novak Djokovic, or what the tennis player would look like if he put on about fifty pounds of muscle. He kept his hair buzzcut with the #2 clipper attachment. Which was most un-Royal, or so he was told by the world’s “royal watchers,” the media’s bottom feeders.
Well, fuck them, it’s my hair. And it’s good to be the King.
Back in the bedroom, Barnabas had laid out his clothes. The King dropped his towel shamelessly, and made a great show of tucking his very large endowment into his briefs, as if there was some doubt that it would fit. The briefs, however, were built to stretch.
He threw on the suit that Barnabas had laid out for him. “You’re a Count now, Barnie old pal. You shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing.”
“If I could find anyone I trusted to do it right, sir, I surely would.”
Barnabas helped him tie his tie, more adept at it than Nikolas, even though Nikolas had two more fingers than the Count did.
Nikolas looked at himself in the mirror, and nodded. He looked pretty fucking great.
So why am I nervous? The thought flitted across his mind for just a moment. Then he smiled at himself. A cat may look at a King, and so why shouldn’t a King look at a Princess?
Sure, Francesca Albertine was from a royal line that went back hundreds of years, but so was he. Just because his family got caught on the wrong side of the occupation zone in World War II didn’t make his blood any less noble than hers.
Your mother was a Gypsy, though. Her mother was a movie star.
He went to the minibar. Locked. “Barnabas. I need a mini before we go.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but you had a whiskey in the car. And there will be cameras downstairs.”
Nikolas sighed. “Well, in that case, let’s hurry up and do this so I can get my evening started properly.”