Chapter 1 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin spent the morning in etiquette drills with Jenks. "Tell me again how one would address the chief wife of the ambassador for the Vakale'le Confederacy."

"This is pointless--I already know!"

"Then tell me again."

By afternoon, he wanted nothing more than a nap on the green velvet couch in his study--the one near the fire. Perhaps a little lunch beforehand. A nicely roasted chicken, a glass of wine, some spring greens in vinaigrette. Soup would also be good. And bread with a bit of cheese and some pickle. And a pudding. Nothing too substantial.

Ellika found him two hours later, stretched out on the couch sound asleep with the napkin still tucked in his collar and crumbs in his moustache. "Wake up!" She dropped his carpet-slippered feet to the floor, and sat down next to him in a pale green froth of silk flounces.

Temmin opened one eye. "You look like a cabbage. A very large, very pretty cabbage. Go away." He put his feet in her lap and closed his eye again.

"I said, wake up, Sir No-Beard!" Ellika poked him in the ribs and bounced on the couch. "Wake up wake up wake up!"

"I am awake! And I'll have you know I counted ten whiskers this morning," grumbled Temmin.

"I'm less interested in the condition of your chin than I am in the condition of your feet." She dumped his feet from her lap and stood up. "On with your dancing shoes, young man, I intend to make sure you don't embarrass me or yourself at your birthday party."

"I don't see where my skill as a dancer has anything to do with you," he said as he removed his carpet slippers.

"I am widely held to be the best dancer in the City, Temmy, and it will not do to have my little brother stepping on feet and stumbling into people. Come on, up up up!"

Servants already filled the grand ballroom. Tables and chairs ringed the floor's edges; a small army of boys on ladders polished the gilt-framed mirrors covering the longest wall, their shape echoing the graceful arches of the red-curtained windows they faced. As soon as the Prince and Princess entered the room, the bustle came to a halt; the footmen and maids bowed deep and curtsied deeper, and the boys almost fell off their ladders in their attempts to show respect. Then, as one, the servants turned their faces to the walls.

"Oh, turn around!" said Temmin. "I despise that custom, and we don't stand for it at the Estate. Affton," he called to the butler, "please instruct the staff not to do that around me." The butler bowed, the smallest of frowns around his eyes. The servants turned to face the room again, timid and surprised.

Ellika stared. "Seddy and I have been asking them not to do it for ages and ages, but no one listens to us."

On the stage at the end of the long, gleaming floor stood two tall, thin men with identical black mops of hair, thick moustaches and emphatic eyebrows; the two were busily directing the arrangement of the orchestra's chairs, each contradicting the other. Ellika marched her brother to the stage and clapped her hands for attention. The two men turned in bemusement, and bowed.

"Master Sullo! Mister Sullo!" she called. "We require practice music. Indulge us, please."

The musicians blew out their moustaches like hairy little curtains; the music master took up his violin, and his brother flexed his long fingers above the piano. They struck up a tune, a simple dobla. Ellika gave a deep curtsey, and Temmin stumbled a bow. "Feet together, Temmy," Ellika murmured.

Temmin took his sister's hand and let her lead him through the dobla's repeating figures: step, point, switch hands and again, step step step step. A child's dance, the traditional opening of uncouth country barn romps or the most formal ball--cheerful, simple and innocent.

"It's like sitting a horse," said Ellika. "Balance and posture and keeping your joints loose! Now, see, this isn't so bad!"

Temmin took her hand in the turn. "It's just been such a long time--we haven't had a dance at the Estate since you left, you know."

"Whyever not?"

"Why d'you suppose? Sister Ibbit disapproves of dancing."

"Oh, pooh. She would. Now, pay attention to what you're doing!" Ellika's sweet, sly smile and quick feet made it more than a children's dance. She added a little snap to the turns, sending her blond curls flirting over first one shoulder, then the other. To Temmin's irritation, she mesmerized every onlooker, especially the junior footmen. He tightened his grasp on her hand, and took her back up the floor away from the servants.

"Temmy, you dance well!" she crowed when the music ended.

"I s'pose I do! At least the dobla. I don't know if I remember anything more complicated. And we don't have any other dancers to practice with. So we're done?" he added.

"Nonsense. We shall practice the quarta." She ran a critical eye over the servants, still standing in an astonished clump at the floor's edge. "Dannikson! Wallek! I know you two can dance--I've caught you at it, and Affton, you are forbidden to punish them," she called up at the butler, who gave a frosty bow.

A freckled young footman with the brightest red hair Temmin had ever seen and an even younger maid shuffled out from the gaggle. The maid's turned-up nose and wide hazel eyes reminded him of the girl in the hedges at Whithorse, but prettier. A dark, shiny corkscrew curl escaped from her starched white cap; he suppressed an impulse to brush it from her blushing cheek, and smiled at her instead.

"You take Dannikson, and I'll take Wallek, Temmy," said Ellika. She took the footman's hand in hers, gazing up at him through her lashes. It set Temmin's teeth on edge. Was she flirting with a footman? Wallek held his head up, flushing beneath his freckles, but didn't meet the prince's gaze until Temmin took the maid's hand; his eyes met Temmin's in a clear flash of possessiveness, and Dannikson ducked her head.

Ellika cleared her throat and Wallek returned his attention. "Shall we dance?" she said. The four placed themselves in the pattern for the quarta, and the music began.

The steps came back to Temmin faster than he'd expected. He steered Dannikson more than led her, but soon her light, pliant step sent them gliding through the forms: twirling, changing partners, dancing in a ring, beginning again. The girl laughed, nerves forgotten, her cap's red ribbons flying; more curly tendrils slipped out to flutter at her nape.

Temmin pulled her closer by degrees. She smelled of hay and tea, and he wanted to bury his nose in her neck. Her quick pulse beat at her wrist beneath his fingers, her corset bones stiff beneath his hand at her back; he wondered how soft her breasts were, whether her nipples were the same sweet, rosy color as those of the girl in the hedge, and he grew impossibly, uncomfortably hard.

The dance ended. He came to himself and realized she'd sensed his interest, her downcast face mixing pleasure and fear. On a sudden impulse, he bowed over her hand, and released it with an intimate smile. Dannikson burst into a nervous titter, bobbed a curtsey, and ran to hide herself in the knot of maidservants. Temmin fastened his coat, and hoped it hid his arousal enough.

Ellika dismissed Wallek with a nod and a smile, and slipped her arm through her brother's as they left the ballroom. "I don't care for you flirting with footmen," said Temmin as soon as they were out of earshot.

"You were flirting. I was making my partner comfortable," said Ellika with a dismissive wave. "Dannikson and Wallek are sweethearts. Everyone knows. Don't let Mama see you flirting with the help, or you'll get the poor girl fired."

Comments

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Temmy & Elly are adorable for all that they're unwittingly cruel to Dannikson & Wallek.

Also, yay to see those two! ee!

Amy's picture

Supplicant

They are adorable together. & I love the hints of the kind & caring ruler Temmy will be. I am amused as well at all the proofs that he is a normal & healthy young man; as far as his appetites for food, sex, & pleasures & desires to escape the unfun things in life. I look at him and laugh thinking of my own son at that age.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

They are cruel, aren't they? But Wallek is such an idiot. If Temmin weren't Temmin, just that possessive look could have been enough to get him (Wallek) in trouble.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

and that's a fact. Smile

V's picture

Embodiment

Tell it, sister Biggrin

Clare-Dragonfly's picture

Supplicant

I love Elly flirting with everybody. I also think I love Masters Sullo. They're awesome just for being twins (or brothers, at least.)

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I love the Sullos and know way more about them than anyone will probably ever get to see, at least in the main story. I don't think they're twins; (Music) Master Sullo is older than Mister Sullo, I think by no more than 18 months. That's what used to be called "Irish twins." Wink Mama Sullo had her hands full.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

As far out as 18 months for "Irish twins"? I thought it was only like 12 months or under. Huh. Guess that makes me and my two brothers Irish triplets? (17 month gap & 15 month gap) Wink

Kunama's picture

Devotee

I see what you did there!
Moar side stories, hurrah!

The description of their moustaches. That was hilarious.

Cheez-It's picture

i thought this story had sex? i see no sex.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Plenty of sex.

The problem with the History, and my problem with marketing it, is that there's a lot of story with the sex--possibly too much to be called "erotica," really--and too much explicit sex to be on the mainstream fantasy shelf (even though we haven't gotten to it yet in the free serialization). It is a puzzlement and predicament for Your Author.

Believe me when I say I'm not trying to lure you in with false promises. I try to make the naughty bits germane rather than gratuitous, and perhaps I'm not good enough a writer to make them so without explaining who these people are and why you should care about them having sex.

If you want to get to the sexier parts sooner, you can buy the ebook or the paperback. Smile The entire novel is done and available for sale here, at Smashwords and at Amazon, all inexpensively in non-DRM ebook form, and will be available in a beautifully produced paperback for $14.95, shipping some time in mid-October. I'm waiting for the proof copy.

If you want it for free, you have to wait at the pace of between 800-1400 words twice weekly. As it says at the bottom of every History page, at that rate the story should conclude around the end of October, 2011 (it's a full-length novel, 420 pages in paperback). Up to you.

Oh, and patron access gives you the full draft--300,000 words with quite a bit of sexy, but very, VERY first-drafty and definitely not canon--and patron-only almost entirely sexy bits in the series "Tales of the Lovers' Temple." I believe in the fanfic community that sort of thing is labeled "Plot-What-Plot," or PWP, though there is a plot of sorts. That series has just gotten started.

Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you stick around.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... the wrong way around.

MeiLin wrote:
I try to make the naughty bits germane rather than gratuitous, and perhaps I'm not good enough a writer to make them so without explaining who these people are and why you should care about them having sex.

Knowing who these people are and why they are having the sex they are having is exactly how to make the naughty bits germane to the story.

In other words, you are a sufficiently good author to pull that one off and to produce a book that has both a great story and quite a bit of explicit sex in it. And they are both so tightly integrated that taking one or the other out would completely change the story into something not just different but in fact considerably weaker.

Clare-Dragonfly's picture

Supplicant

But do you really expect sex in the first chapter? Even the sexy novel-length fanfics I've read don't have sex that soon, and in those we already know the characters. I mean, we've already had groping and a little oral sex--it doesn't seem to me that the sex is hiding! But I guess my taste is different Wink

erinnstreeter's picture

Devotee

That's one of the things I liked about the story - the sex made sense in context. The plot wasn't used as a shoehorn to lever humping into the story.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

*snickers* Awesome analogy.

erinnstreeter's picture

Devotee

Erinn wrote:
the sex made sense in context.

Say THAT 3 times fast.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I do the "try the veal" shpiel all the time and people give me this bemused expression. I figure maybe it's because I grew up in LA? I dunno.

erinnstreeter's picture

Devotee

Dunno if the point of origin is really a part of the equation, since I grew up in SW Florida. Maybe I was an MC at a 3rd rate Vegas night club in a past life... I've also been trying to catch-up on Whedon's series, Angel - and I really like that demon who runs the karaoke bar.

Edited to add (because writers are word nerds, so you'll probably appreciate this): it's spelled spiel, which means 'to play.' 'S' at the beginning of a German word is pronounced 'sh' and the second letter of an ei/ie combination is the one that's voiced (shpEEl in this case, or for the word eigen, which means 'to own,' you say Igen with a long 'i' and hard 'g').

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I guess I was giving it an extra Yiddishkeit twist.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... there for a moment. Blum 3

In German, 's' is only pronounced 'sh' in syllable-initial combination with 't' or 'p'. So, 'Stein' (stone) is pronounced 'shtine' and 'Spiel' (game or play) is pronounced 'shpeel'. 'Slawisch' (slavic) is still pronounced 'slahvish'.

Regarding the ei/ie thing, that's a good mnemonic for native English speakers but keep in mind that it has really very little to do with what's actually going on linguistically.

As for the Yiddishkeit of 'spiel' - I'm not actually sure about that. True, the way the meaning has shifted from the original German one certainly has a Yiddish flavour to it, but I still think that in this case it might have been a borrowing from the orginal German without the detour via Yiddish.

erinnstreeter's picture

Devotee

I think I just had a nerdgasm.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

We specialize in nerdgasm. Smile

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Wow, you're easy...

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Just the way we like them.

Or smothered in hollandaise.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

You like cigarettes smothered in hollandaise?

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I thought was replying to her being easy.

And implying cannibalism.

Han-pan's picture

Postulant

That will absolutely take a little bit of getting used to!

MeiLin's picture

Most High

New names? I'm going senile.

Han-pan's picture

Postulant

they didn't have last names the first time around. Just...Arta and Fen. XD

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Fen has always been Wallek, from the first draft, even. I'm pretty sure Arta was always Dannikson, but I can't remember.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... has been Dannikson on the wiki since March 2009, FWIW.

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