Summary: Christopher Lucas is hired for the summer to provide security for Jason Keller, heir to the vast Keller fortune. But all is not what it seems. (Loosely based on the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses.")
The Hostage Heir
by Lenore Black
"You're here for the security position." The man behind the desk raised an eyebrow skeptically.
"Um, yes, sir." Christopher Lucas tried not to squirm under the weight of the scrutiny, resisting the urge to wipe his clammy palms on his pants, doing his best to forget that the man behind the desk was one of the wealthiest men in the state. Langston Keller puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like anybody else. It sounded feeble, even in his own head.
Mr. Keller tented his fingers beneath his chin. "The job is to look after my son Jason, to keep him out of trouble."
Christopher wasn't sure what kind of trouble a person could get into in Blue Cove—and he'd lived here all his life—but hey, a job was a job.
"Yes, sir," he answered. "I understand, sir."
After a moment Mr. Keller nodded, as if Christopher had passed some sort of test. "You're never to let Jason out of your sight, not for any reason. You'll work as part of a team. Mr. Walsh will fill you in on the details." He waved his hand in dismissal.
Apparently, Christopher was hired.
A forty-ish man in glasses, wearing a weary expression, was waiting for him out in the hall. "Bill Walsh, head of security here at the Kellers' summer house. So?"
"Mr. Keller said you'd tell me what to do?"
Mr. Walsh let out his breath. "Thank God. Half the people don't make it past the 'eyeball test,' as the old man likes to put it. And I can't keep good help because— Well, anyway, come on. I'll show you to Jason's room, and you can get started. Call me Bill, by the way." He set off briskly down the hall.
Christopher hurried after him, kind of wishing that he'd flunked the eyeball test. Not that babysitting some rich guy's son was the end of the world or anything. It was just a crappy way to spend the summer. Christopher would much rather be out on the boat with his brother, helping with the family fishing business. But since their dad had died three years go, money had been tight. So here he was, stuck with the Kellers until Labor Day.
"This way," Bill said, turning down another corridor.
Like most Blue Cove natives, Christopher had mixed feelings about the summer people who turned their town inside out every May. He had often been curious, though, about the grand homes up here on the promontory. Now that he was actually inside one, he couldn't keep his mouth from dropping open. The marble floor was shiny enough to see his reflection in it. There were so many paintings linging the walls it looked like a museum. Windows stretched all the way to the ceiling, making the sky and sea seem like part of the decor.
"So, here's the deal," Bill said, as they hurried along. "You'll be two hours on with Jason, two hours off doing general patrolling of the grounds. Jason lives to make our lives as difficult as possible, so don't trust him for a second. Don't believe a word he says. Never leave him alone. You'll only get one chance here. Slip up, and you're out."
"But—" Christopher frowned. Why would Jason Keller want to give his own security people a hard time? Weren't they there for his protection? Shouldn't he be glad about that?
Before he could get out any of these questions, Bill added gravely, "I'll try to keep you on day shift, but if the old man decides you're on nights, you're on nights." He stopped outside a door. "Here we are." He clapped Christopher on the back. "Good luck, kid."
You're going to need it hung unsaid in the air.
Bill went striding back down the hall, leaving Christopher to fend for himself. He hesitated outside the door, finally working up the courage to knock. There was no answer, and he stalled there, not sure what to do. He could go after Mr. Walsh, but he'd been very clear that Jason Keller wasn't to be left alone. Christopher took a deep breath and barged on in.
He found himself standing in a living room filled with impossibly expensive things. The rug beneath his feet was so thick and plush it felt like walking on air. The furniture looked to be antiques, covered in pale, fragile-looking fabric. Silk maybe. Christopher wasn't sure. He just knew it was something his fisherman's hands probably shouldn't touch.
"Hello?" he called out.
Still no answer, and he drifted further inside.
In the next room, he found acres of books in floor-to-ceiling bookcases. There was even a sliding ladder, like the one at the town library. A desk sat facing the windows, as if its owner liked to look out at the cliffs. The desk was covered with yet more books, photocopied articles and sheaves of handwritten notes.
Christopher continued on into the next room and stopped in his tracks. In the middle of the space stood a veritable fortress of a bed, with thick wooden posts, an ornately carved headboard, and a wrought iron canopy hung with heavy panels of green velvet. It was the kind of bed, he thought, where a prince should sleep.
"Being stared at is not the most pleasant way to wake up." The voice came from deep within the shadowy recesses of the bed hangings.
Christopher practically jumped out of his skin. He hadn't realized there was someone actually in the bed.
"Oh, um, sorry?" he managed feebly.
The covers rippled, and a young man sat up, fixing Christopher with a resentful glare. Christopher sucked in his breath, possibly loudly enough to be heard. He wasn't sure what he'd expected from Jason Keller, but certainly not the kind of beauty that felt like a punch to the gut—wild chestnut curls and cheekbones sharp enough to cut, creamy skin and big, dark blue eyes.
Jason sighed. "I don't suppose there's any hope of you going away." He threw back the covers and slid out of bed.
Christopher was too busy staring to answer. The top of Jason's black silk pajamas hung open, showing off nipples the color of dark pennies, a flat belly and strong chest. The pajama bottoms barely clung to his hips, like an invitation to... Christopher swallowed hard.
Read the rest of the story at Lenore's blog.
Farewell from the Bookshelf!
Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.
All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.
Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!