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Ping! went Durmonyás’ phone. Ping! Ping! He slowly tilted his face over onto the pile of paperwork he’d inherited from Bakszén’s last assistant and contemplated accidentally dropping his phone into a fiery pit of lava. There was one right outside in the courtyard. He could do it on the way to lunch. Two minutes, no sweat.

He knew exactly what he’d see if he picked it up.

Ping! Ping!

Five minutes later it began playing “Ride of the Valkyries,” and with an inward sigh, Durmonyás picked it up.

“You didn’t answer my message.” Bakszén's tone that made Durmonyás want to reach through the magical connection and punch him in his obnoxiously pretty face.

Why weren’t Bambucz and Czinczár and the rest sending Bakszén thumbs up emoji and fire emoji messages in response to every blessed photo of Bakszén’s abs, or his biceps, or his latest selfie practicing kingly poses, enough?

“Very nice,” said Durmonyás. “Kingly. Sorry, I was busy with paperwork.” Your paperwork, you prat.

“Kingly?” Oh shit, Bakszén sounded puzzled.

“Sexy,” Durmonyás replied quickly. “I mean sexy. Um. I have to go, meeting with your dad, you know how it is. Cheers, Your Highness…ness.”


Mamuk had been suddenly called away to deal with a soul uprising in the sulfur mines, so instead Durmonyás got to meet with Ropogán, a much more sympathetic ear when it came to Bakszén Problems, but only because Durmonyás having Bakszén Problems meant fewer Bakszén Problems for him.

“Really? A rose tattoo on his—” Ropogán made a face at the phone held at arm’s length. Durmonyás didn’t have to look at the screen; he’d memorized both the stupid tattoo and the arse it was applied to. The stupid, muscular, nicely curved arse. “Why is he even sending me these?

“He’s sending them to everyone,” Durmonyás said gloomily. “He likes feedback. You’re lucky he doesn’t try to get you to reply.”

Ropogán bared his teeth. “His Highness has some sense of self-preservation. Sweet Inferno, is this…a kitten? A...fluffy white kitten with huge blue eyes?”

“And horns,” said Durmonyás, even more gloomily. “Apparently he lost a bet during his seduction apprenticeship, or so I gathered between the lines. The story was…confused.”

“Ah.” Ropogán set the phone down on his desk with a click, grimacing. “You know, some of these really don’t fit the image of a prince of Hell. His Infernal Majesty wouldn’t be amused. Do try to…contain this, would you?”


“Yowza.” Czinczár was looking at his phone with an expression Durmonyás wished he could scrub from his memory. “His Highness is looking fit. Durmonyás, have you seen this one yet?”

Bakszén was probably banging Czinczár, Durmonyás thought gloomily, because Bakszén seemed to be banging literally everyone in his entourage except Durmonyás and Ropogán.

The latter would be kind of hot, he thought. Ropogán kind of had a stern schoolmaster thing going when he wanted to, and all Hell knew Bakszén could use some schooling. Yeah, he could imagine it, all too clearly.

“I hate my life,” he said, and then punched Czinczár in the arm for snickering at him.


"Durmonyás!” Bakszén sat down on the edge of Durmonyás’ desk, as usual sending a small storm of paper to the ground. The only reason he didn’t knock over Durmonyás’ coffee was because he’d neatly scooped it up as he plopped and took a sip. He made a face and set it down, and Durmonyás was meanly glad he took it black and Bakszén took it with caramel flavor, sugar, chili pepper, and extra whipped cream. “Durmi. Durmicska. My favorite assistant.”

Durmonyás sighed inwardly. Bakszén wanted something. “Boss?”

“How come,” said Bakszén, leaning forward with a creak of leather and propping his elbows on his knees in a way that shouldn’t look predatory but did, “you never like my selfies on Instagram? Or answer my texts?”

“Um.”

“Did your phone break again? You know there’s room in the budget for a replacement. Or am I...” He reached out and trailed one claw very lightly down Durmonyás’ face, tracing over his neck and down to his collarbone. Durmonyás felt like he might spontaneously combust. “...not your type?

“You’re everyone’s type,” Durmonyás said, as flatly as he could, and tried to remember how to keep breathing. The problem with breathing was that he really shouldn’t find the smell of cinnamon aftershave arousing. Bakszén shouldn’t have used cinnamon aftershave. No one should use cinnamon aftershave.

“Oh,” said Bakszén, with a curiously thoughtful expression. “I see. Well, I suppose I’ll just have to step up my game.”

He hopped off the desk and sauntered out the door before Durmonyás could croak out a desperate “No!” He’d like every single ridiculous selfie if Bakszén would keep his game exactly where it was.

The paperwork dulled the thud when his head met the desk.


For a week, Durmonyás’ phone was silent. No ping! No “Ride of the Valkyries.” No “Imperial March” indicating, even worse, a call from His Infernal Majesty Lord Mamuk. Ropogán was away on a diplomatic mission. Even his mother didn’t call.

Bakszén was curiously scarce.

If anything, it was even worse than the selfie barrage, if a little less sexually frustrating. The only thing more dangerous than Bakszén’s usual annoying self was Bakszén not being annoying.

On the bright side, he was almost caught up on the paperwork.


“Why, Durmi,” said Bakszén, removing the rose from his teeth. “I didn’t know you could swear so creatively.”

“I didn’t know you’d be—be!” Durmonyás sputtered, clutching at the wall for support. Bakszén was spread across his bed, stark naked, the kitten tattoo thankfully out of view, with that ridiculous rose now held out in one clawed hand. He wasn’t entirely sure whether to be aroused or terrified, but his dick seemed to be settling on “both.” “What. You. What?”

Bakszén stretched, with all the arrogant, lazy danger of a cat, and the rest of the blood fled Durmonyás’ head so fast he swayed on his feet. “I thought, maybe Durmonyás doesn’t like sharing. Maybe Durmonyás wants something no one else is looking at.” He sat up, slipped off the bed and into a slink far too predatory for someone with no pants. Somehow it wasn't ridiculous. “Maybe Durmonyás can’t take a hint.”

“Um,” said Durmonyás as Bakszén—naked, naked Bakszén—moved into his personal space. “I can. Take hints.”

“Great.” Bakszén’s grin showed all his sharp white teeth, but he leaned over slowly enough that Durmonyás could had dodged, if his brain hadn’t completely shorted out in lust. “This is a hint.”

“Okay,” Durmonyás breathed, and let Bakszén kiss him.