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Copyright © 2017 by Guy New York
Published by QNY
Cover design by Guy New York
Interior design by Pronoun
Distribution by Pronoun
About The Author
More by Guy New York
“Get up, you have work.”
Marta shook Finn by the shoulder and he rolled over in his sleep pushing her away with a grunt. She shook him again, pulling the blankets off him and exposing him to the cold air, not caring at all that the goosebumps instantly lined his skin.
“If you don’t get up now, you’re out. I don’t care how good you are, I’ll find someone else and you’ll never work another bloody job in Whiskytown again. Up!”
He rolled over onto his back, his strong naked body hard and lean in the cold air. He rubbed his eyes and pushed his thick red hair behind one perfect ear as he slowly sat up in bed, smiling at his boss through half opened eyes. She sat down on the foot of his bed, shaking her head, and his grin just made it worse. She was used to seeing him naked, but the fool thought it still might sway her even after all this time. It was an absurd thought, there was nothing she hadn’t seen before, and if he hadn’t become aroused in his sleep she surely would have already looked away.
“Is it dark out? I feel like my head’s about to explode. Get me some wine. Or brandy even. Anything to make my eyes stop bleeding.”
“Your eyes are not bleeding, and nothing is going to explode. At least not until you get your scrawny ass up to the palace.” Marta did get up though, and she did hand him a glass of warm wine mixed with her special concoction of invigorating spices and herbs. This job was way too important for him to fail because of something so stupid as a hangover.
“Where am I really going?” Finn asked, sitting up in bed and taking a long drink from the cup. It was steaming hot, but he swallowed it all in a few gulps, tasting the mixture with recognition on his face. “And do you really think I needed that?” He asked, looking down at his obvious excitement.
“You just woke up, you’re hungover, and I can’t count on that lasting. There’s hot water, clean clothes, and a brush. Use all of them, and meet me downstairs in ten minutes. You are already late, and this is not a job you can afford to pox up.”
“You’re serious,” he said, standing up and stretching his strong arms above his body. “I mean about the palace. What, is there a duchess or someone visiting? A duke? Some old lady who needs to be placated in order to fix some godsforsaken trade agreement?”
“Ten minutes,” was all she said before walking out. Finn shrugged and made his way to the hot basin of water, smelling the flowers and scents from across the room. She really did think this was important. He was normally lucky to get a razor and some oil for his hair. And that was mostly for trade work, not political jobs. There was nothing Finn hated more than politics, but if he kept to his work, it didn’t really matter. He was simply a tool: they used his services to bribe or blackmail, and he was perfectly content with it as long as he got paid. The last thing he wanted was to be involved.
It was less than a half hour later, after having wandered through the two fancier sections of town between his quarters and the palace, that he was ushered through a side door, down a long hallway, up a tower staircase, through a kitchen, down another hall, and then finally into a small but warm room with a blazing fire and enough food to feed the southern army. The maid who walked him through the palace smiled with a blush to her cheeks, and then left him alone to sort out what he was supposed to do next. Finn paced the room, stole a few sips of wine, and nibbled on a few grapes, wondering what the hell he was doing here. Marta was not always the most forthcoming when it came to explaining the nature of his rendezvous, but in general, they usually worked out.
He had only been in the palace a few times, and they were not pleasant experiences. There had been a visiting dignitary of dubious age, and once a merchant lord whom he had to seduce just so someone might walk in on them. Those were the worst. Finn liked his job, but mostly because he liked people. Almost all of them. And the pain of having to double-cross someone he had spent an hour getting into bed with went completely against this nature. Besides, they hadn’t even been able to finish the task at hand.
“Don’t take it off, my dear, I told you it’s to be a surprise!”
He turned, startled by a voice, and just as he was about to open his mouth, the old man at the door put a finger to his lips. Standing in front of him was a petite blonde girl with curls in her hair and a diamond necklace hanging between her breasts. She was clenching her fists in excitement and the man behind her didn’t look any less happy than she did. He guided her in and sat her down on the couch in front of the fire before waving at Finn to fetch him a glass of wine. The young man moved soundlessly and passed off the cup with a grin on his face. Old nobles with young wives he could understand. Far better than blackmail, much better than bribery, and of course superior to simple boredom; this was an act of pleasure and desire. That he could follow.
The young lady sipped the wine, her bare feet still twitching on the fur carpet beneath them, as the nobleman waved Finn over. He placed him directly in front of the girl, before making his way behind the couch. Reaching over it, he whispered something in her ear as he began to undo the blindfold. She wiggled and sighed as he slowly untied the black silk, and Finn smiled in spite of himself. This might turn out to be a pleasant evening after all.
The second the blindfold dropped she looked up at him with open eyes, wide with a joyous surprise.
“He’s for me?” she asked, clapping her hands. “What can I do with him?”