Emory was surprised when he opened his eyes next. The room was bathed in bright sunlight. Sucking in a breath for sleeping so late into the day, he shot out of the bed and headed for the door he shared with the prince’s chambers. He grabbed the handle and pushed just enough to see what he could be facing upon entering the prince’s room.
Riffyn was up and sitting at his desk, a tray of what must be breakfast sat beside him. Emory could smell the coffee from where he stood, and he longed for just a taste. But then other fragrances assaulted him. There was bacon and fresh bread, possibly something cinnamon, all sitting on that tray.
“Thank you, Duncan,” the prince said.
Emory had totally missed the servant who had brought the tray in. Duncan moved around the prince, his attention on the man’s torso, which was bare and breathtaking. Evidently, Riffyn had only just woke as well. He sat, shuffling papers, as if searching for one in particular. Emory couldn’t help but stare at the prince. Oh, how he wanted to touch him, suck on those dark nipples.
“Let me pour your coffee, Your Highness,” Duncan breathed from behind the prince, far too close to the prince’s ear. But Riffyn gave no reaction at all. He seemed to be intent on the paper he now held in his hand.
Duncan poured the coffee and handed the mug to Riffyn. “Your Highness?”
“Ahh. Yes. Thank you.” Riffyn took the mug and sipped the steaming liquid as he gazed up at Duncan, who had come around the front again. “You have done well, Duncan.” The prince seemed to coo and then smiled at Duncan, who beamed back. Emory’s heart squeezed tight with jealousy, wishing it was him who the prince gave that smile. So much so, he wanted to cry. But then Emory must have made some sort of noise because the prince glanced over at him standing hiding in the doorway.
“Emory! You’re finally awake. Come out. Breakfast is served. There is plenty for the both of us.”
Emory stepped out from the doorway. He could do nothing else when the prince commanded him. But he did not relish the fact that Duncan startled at the sound of his name and swung around, eyes as big as the plates he had brought in.
“Emory? What are you doing in the prince’s chambers?”
His tone was accusatory, one of authority, gruff and hateful. In all other instances, Emory would have shrunk at its harshness, knowing he had to have committed a heinous crime. But that was not the case here. He had done nothing wrong. Still, his heart jumped painfully, and he did stop immediately, his stomach protesting, probably believing it was going to be starved of food again for possibly days as was the usual punishment. But then Emory’s gaze met Riffyn’s and he instantly calmed.
“Duncan,” the prince challenged quietly from behind him. “Do you believe I need to explain myself to you when I have a guest in my chambers? Is that your place?”
Duncan scowled at Emory before he turned back to Riffyn. “No, my prince. I apologize for my rudeness. Forgive me, Your Highness.” To Duncan’s credit, he did appear to be apologetic. He waited, hands behind his back, and Emory could tell his gaze was on the floor in front of him even though he was turned away from him. Riffyn glanced up to Emory, smiled, and winked, before he answered Duncan.
“You are forgiven. But it will never happen again, correct?”
“No, Your Highness. Never.”
“Good. You are excused.” Once again, Riffyn glanced toward Emory. “Come, Emory. Sit. I will pour you some coffee.” Riffyn picked up the decanter and poured the contents into an empty bowl. “I apologize I did not have two mugs brought up, but I think you should be able to manage.”
Emory hurried to the desk and took the offered bowl, wanting to remind the prince he was not supposed to be serving him, but due to the fact Duncan had yet to actually leave the room, he chose not to say anything. He hazarded a glance at Duncan and the daggers the man was shooting with his eyes made Emory shiver.
“Are you still chilled from last night? You should have brought a blanket with you.” Riffyn rose and walked to his own messy bed, grabbed the top cover, and pulled it off. It was then that Emory realized he had forgotten about his own state of dress, which was only a borrowed nightshirt, clearly too large for him. It was thankfully rather long, but his legs were still very bare, and he couldn’t even fathom how it must appear to Duncan. Riffyn walked to Emory, swept the blanket around his shoulders, and guided him, with his arm around him, to sit in the chair in front of his desk. “As you can see, we have your amazing fresh sweet rolls. You might actually be tired of them, being you work in the kitchen, but they are my favorite.”
“I’ve… never had them, Your Highness.”
“What? Are you serious? Oh yes. The incomparable Master Merrill. I will see to him today. In the meantime, I dare to say, Emory, you are in for a treat.”
Emory had his back to Duncan now, so he couldn’t see him, but he could feel the loathing pouring off him. Then, gratefully, the doors clicked shut, which told him Duncan had finally left and most likely gone running to tell the kitchen master about Emory’s horrible impropriety of being half naked in the crown prince’s chambers. It would be all over the castle before the next sunrise.