Noble, 54

When the knock sounded at the door, Geoffrey didn’t answer right away. He was too busy kissing Javier, whose arms were around him. Geoffrey had his hand in Javier’s pants, undoing his loincloth and playing with him to get him hard.

There was another knock, and Geoffrey ignored that too, as Javier climbed into his lap to kiss him harder. Geoffrey slid his other hand down the back of Javier’s pants, gripping one of his ass cheeks.

At the third knock, Janus looked up from his book. “Are you going to let him in?”

Noble, 53

“Not to be a jerk, but when the hell can we go home?” Janus asked, idly tossing a pillow up and down as he lay on the bed.

“Soon, I’m sure,” Geoffrey said, though he wasn’t at all sure.

“Cool. I just think that if Dahlia and Giacomo were going to hang out in Three Hills all this time and make us wait with them, we could have gone on a trip to somewhere else in Dolovai. I know I said I was cool not to go on a trip but that was when I thought we were going home to do important shit.”

“We’ll go on a trip, then,” Geoffrey promised.

“What, no, I don’t want to because it’s too fucking cold, remember?” Janus turned his head, looking at Geoffrey. The pillow fell on his face and he pulled it aside. “We’ll go on a trip in the summer. Like normal rich people.”

Noble, 37

Geoffrey was in the bath, not really washing but just kind of playing with the bubbles on the surface. The door opened without anyone knocking, but it wasn’t Janus or Javier who came in.

“You’re supposed to be ready to go,” said Diego.

Geoffrey looked over at him. “What?”

“The king is here to see you.”

Geoffrey looked at the surface of the water, trying to see through the tint of the soap through to his body. “Okay.”

“Are you going to get up?” Diego asked, sounding impatient.

Noble, 29

The inn was called the Spongecake, which would have made Geoffrey hungry if he’d been able to think about anything but the person inside it.

It sat low and squat. It was in the west side of town, a half-hour from the palace, from where Geoffrey lived. It was a little run-down, but well-built from dark, heavy wood, and had a bright sign hanging over the door, lit by a lamp and easily read even at night. Light was shining through the windows onto the street, but it didn’t look like there was anyone inside.

Geoffrey looked at it through the windows of his carriage, Janus’s hand in his. “He’s already in there.”

“Probably,” Janus agreed. “Doesn’t look very full, which means he’s probably bought the place for the night.”

“He may have bought it forever,” Geoffrey muttered. “It’s Giacomo’s sort of overkill.”

Noble, 20

Geoffrey woke up vaguely sure he’d had a nightmare but unable to remember what it was.

It didn’t really matter, he thought after a second or two of being awake. The nightmare he’d woken to was worse than whatever his imagination had ever conjured for him. Giacomo was still gone. He was still…

Well, Geoffrey wasn’t alone, that wasn’t fair. He was in Giacomo’s bed with Javier and Alfie and Aleksander, who’d joined them because he couldn’t sleep alone. He and Alfie were cuddled up beside Geoffrey, and Javier’s head was on Geoffrey’s shoulder. Dahlia had taken up residence in Geoffrey’s bedroom, so Geoffrey and the others were all sleeping in Giacomo’s, making it impossible not to notice his absence no matter how full the bed was. The sheets smelled like him. His collection of little animal carvings was on the bedside table. His coat was on the back of the door.

Noble, 18

Geoffrey pitched back and forth with the carriage as they rode. He should have stayed home. Javier had asked him to stay home. The storm was only getting worse.

Geoffrey wasn’t going to stay home. His brother had gone missing from the castle, so that was where the answers had to be. Geoffrey was going to find out what had happened if he had to kill someone. Probably Hans DiFueure.

Javier held his hand, worried. “Sorry,” Geoffrey said to him.

“No,” Javier said, holding Alfie’s hand in his other. “Don’t, it’s not your fault.”

Noble, 17

“Never seen a storm like this,” Geoffrey muttered, looking out the window.

“It is a bit strange,” Tanya agreed, sipping coffee and looking outside as well. Out of nowhere, a huge thunderstorm had started up just two minutes ago, and it was now hammering the city relentlessly as if it had been going on for hours. It was really weird.

“Flash storms happen,” said Danai, scowling. “It’ll blow over in ten minutes.”

“Flash storms happen in the summer,” Geoffrey corrected. “Not in the middle of winter. There’s something wrong here.”

Noble, 16

Geoffrey had had too much wine at supper. He normally didn’t drink a lot of wine, no more than a cup or two. His dad had liked drinking alcohol too much and he’d been an asshole. Geoffrey didn’t want to be an asshole like his dad, he wanted to be the kind of asshole who people remembered. But he’d had a lot of wine at supper.

It had just been the four of them, sitting and talking politics and what their next move should be, but as time had worn on they’d just started joking around and laughing and having fun. And then Giacomo had slipped under the table like the good boy he was and started sucking Geoffrey off, and he’d gotten Alfie to do the same for Javier, and after a good amount of that, they’d all decided it was a good idea to go to bed.

Noble, 13

Darius DiFueure was early for the party by design. He sat in Geoffrey’s sitting room, nervously fiddling with the teacup Geoffrey had given him, obviously resisting the urge to physically lean on his companion Aleksander, who sat beside him. They were a little younger than Giacomo, but not so young that anyone would find it strange that they’d be invited to a party Giacomo was hosting. People knew them to be friends, after all.

“You, um, don’t have to sit here with me, Lord Geoffrey,” Darius told him. Geoffrey was sitting a decent distance away, because getting any closer had just seemed like it would worry Darius even more. “I’m sure you must have things to do, and I’m content to wait until Giacomo comes back.”

Geoffrey smiled at him. “It would be profoundly rude to leave you by yourself, Darius. I can sit with you at least until some of Giacomo’s other friends arrive. I know Pietro and Terry and Raoul are coming, and Janus, I think?” Giacomo had also invited Uri, who Geoffrey happened to know was coming, because Lydia had told him.