The Contingency Plan – Efren’s POV – Part 2/5

This week I’m posting the beginning of The Contingency Plan in five parts, retold from Efren’s POV. In case you missed yesterday’s, you can catch up by clicking on the spoiler tag, below:

The Contingency Plan – Efren's POV Part 1/5

Efren, the Crown Prince of Zioneven, squared his shoulders as he and his entourage made their final approach to the royal castle of Sheburat. He’d had his whole life—since the age of five, anyway—to prepare himself for this journey. He didn’t relish the changes about to be wrought to his life, but he’d always accepted it as his fate. In the name of peace between the two kingdoms, he wouldn’t shirk his duty.

The castle loomed, much like his upcoming marriage. He had barely twenty-four hours left before he would be shackled for life to Princess Marcela, fourth daughter of Sheburat’s Queen Giselle and Prince Consort Elmer. The princess had been only a few months old at the time the treaty was signed. Did she dread this marriage as much as he did?

Zioneven’s diplomats had never reported anything unduly negative about her. Nothing beyond the obvious—her expected viewpoint, coming from a matriarchal society, that she was inherently superior to Efren rather than his equal. He could only hope that expanding her horizons would lessen that mindset.

His kingdom’s diplomats had assured him that Marcela was beautiful, and that there was nothing innately cruel about her character. Despite these reassurances, he advanced with a heavy heart. His parents sympathized, although there was nothing that could be done. They knew where his preferences lay.

Efren would be capable of ‘performing’ on his wedding night…and beyond if Marcela seemed intent on bearing children. He would be there in body if not in spirit. Thankfully, his younger siblings, like most people, experienced attractions to members of the opposite sex, and had already produced several heirs. He wouldn’t be pressured by his family to father children, although he’d be willing for the sake of marriage harmony.

Gideon Bailey, the Zioneven ambassador assigned to Sheburat, approached on horseback alongside Jeremy Cook, one of Efren’s entourage who’d ridden ahead to alert the castle of their expected day of arrival. As they got closer, it became obvious from Jeremy’s twitching expression that the man was bursting to give Efren some news. Gideon was much better at schooling his features, but still, his very presence riding out to greet Efren rather than waiting in the castle spoke of something important to report without Sheburat witnesses to—to what?

Had they discovered something meant to be kept secret, or was it information best conveyed where Efren’s reaction wouldn’t be observed? Was it good news, or bad?

The Contingency Plan – Efren's POV Part 2/5

Efren’s mind raced as he led his people up the steps to the open castle doors. Everything had changed. The news was…well…clearly bad. Death of an innocent was nothing to celebrate.

Yet, in a pragmatic rather than emotional light, the news had lifted a huge weight from Efren’s shoulders. The peace treaty’s contingency plan painted a far rosier future both for himself, personally, and in the large scheme of things for all of Zioneven.

He was saddened by Marcela’s unexpected passing even as the analytical side of his brain sighed in relief—while simultaneously chiding himself for the selfishness of that reflexive reaction.

Regardless, practicality pushed to the forefront. He had no doubt, knowing what he did of Queen Giselle’s nature, that she would also prefer to finalize the peace treaty on schedule. He’d traveled a great distance over several weeks to be here for his wedding tomorrow. Once his choice under the contingency plan was announced, there would be no sensible reason not to proceed with the wedding, albeit with a considerable role change.

He also had no doubt that the announcement of his choice would shock the Sheburat nobles to their core. The Zioneven court had submitted the wording for the marriage portion of the treaty’s contingency plan. One word in particular had been pointedly slipped in to allow them flexibility, all the while knowing the Sheburat nobles would never suspect the purpose behind that innocuous word.

Efren’s one worry was in regard to the reaction of Prince Marcelo, Princess Marcela’s younger twin brother. Efren had no doubt Marcelo’s astonishment would eclipse that of pretty much everyone else in Sheburat. But would that jolt morph into revulsion or interest?


Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Cover: Written Ink Designs
Release Date: April 14, 2018
Length: Short Story/Novelette – 8,040 words
Genres/Tags:Fantasy Gay Romance, M/M Pairing, Virgin, Arranged Marriage
Heat Level: 3 flames – Moderate – While physical details are described, they are not graphically depicted.

Purchase Links:

Books2Read Universal Buy-Link

Publisher/JMS Books

Misc. distributors not supported by the universal buy-link:

Bookstrand | Blio (Author Page) | BAM! Books-a-Million

 

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