It was the voice I most liked to hear. Dak lounged against the doorway to the barracks. Older than me by just a few months, he was so much taller that my eyes were at the level of his heart. His hair was a shade lighter than mine, skin several shades darker, and his large eyes were of deep brown. Lean and big-boned, his coarse tunic was a little short on him and snug across the chest. He was growing out of his clothes again.

I trotted over to him and we stepped inside, just out of sight of the yard. The place was still deserted this time of year. The guard only stayed here in the winter, when travel even for the short distance between town and castle was uncertain. The rest of the year it was mainly used for storage, and for a shortcut from the yard to the staff wing.

I wrapped my arms around him and rested my head against his chest where I could breathe in his wonderful scent. He hugged me back and kissed the top of my head. His heartbeat throbbed in my ear.

"This," I murmured happily, "is exactly what I need. Well, one other thing too..."

"We could both use that. Nothing's wrong, is it Kit?"

"Not really." We were silent for a while, enjoying each other's presence. "Dak?"


"The other boys in the servants' quarters. They don't give you any trouble about us, do they?"

He chuckled. "If they did, they'd find out what pain means."

"You don't think any of them would try to do anything else about it, do you?"

"Like what?"

"I don't know. Tell one of my brothers all about it, maybe."

He drew back to look me in the face. "Something is bothering you."

"Kind of." I told him what Tor said to me. "So she thinks we're not careful enough."

"Oh. Well don't worry about one of the boys blabbing. Nobody talks to the other princes, mostly 'cause they don't want to hear from us. Except the one who's not around anymore." Peri, my oldest brother and the only one I ever got along with, now commanded the station at the far end of the Pass. "But no one makes a big deal out of it."

"Good. We should probably be more careful anyway. If my Father ever finds out..."

A distressed look came into his face. "Don't tell me we're not getting together tonight!"

"I didn't say that." I put my arms around him again and pulled him down for a kiss. It was long, and the heat rose between us. One of Dak's hands dug into my hair, the other drifted down to my butt and pulled me to him. Our bodies pressed together. It's a good thing no one walked in on us then. My loincloth did nothing to hide my arousal.

When we finally broke it off I rested my head against his chest again. After gently stroking his body for a while I started making lazy circles on his nipple through his tunic. He twitched in reaction.

"If you keep that up I'll jump you right now." The hand on my butt reached inside my loincloth. When his fingers penetrated me it made my knees go weak. I clutched his tunic to keep from falling over.

"And if you keep that up, you won't have to," I panted.

He laughed, and we pulled apart to cool off.

"Do you know what I miss most these days, Dak?"

"Yeah. The same thing as me. The time to just be friends and have fun together. Running around in the forest. Fishing and swimming. Running around the village market. All that kind of stuff." He sighed. "I'm not allowed the free time anymore."

"And I'm not allowed anything." I couldn't keep the bitterness out of my voice. "I don't have you with me, Father's decided it's 'unseemly' for me to help with any of the work around here anymore, unless it's clerking..."

Dak snorted. "Speaking of work, I'm supposed to be in the kitchens now. I'd better get going before I'm missed."

"Better wash your hands first. I know where they've been." He laughed and kissed me again. "Meet you in the loft after dinner?"

"You can count on it." He looked me in the eyes. "I love you, Kit," he said quietly.

Warm contentment filled me, as it always did when I heard him say that. "I love you too, Dak."