Excerpt for Royal Retreat (Royal #1) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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by Misty Vixen

Ellie Lennox was trying to get laid.

From the way men went on about great racks and easy lays and how open they were to sex with beautiful women, it would seem that it should have been way easier than it was. Unfortunately, Ellie had several things set against her.

The first was her position. She'd been born into royalty. Ellie knew she shouldn't complain about that particular fact. How many people were there out there who were born into poverty and had to fight and work themselves to the bone just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table? She didn't envy them their position, but that didn't mean she didn't have a problem with her own. Being royalty, specifically being a woman in royalty, meant that she had to fight for it every single time she wanted to do something worthwhile.

Like exploring some ruins.

Or going on a long journey somewhere.

Or, in this case, getting fucking laid.

It should not be this difficult. But men were afraid of her. Or rather, they were afraid of her father. You didn't just have a one night stand with a princess. They'd throw you in the dungeon for that! It wasn't her fault that her father, much as she loved the old man, was an idiot stuck in his ways, stuck in the ways of common royalty.

If only she'd been born a man...

Sure, it was easy, expected even, for them to go out for a 'night of debauchery'. Everyone hand-waved it away with a little grin, a sly chuckle and a declaration of 'boys will be boys!' But no, the second a woman tries to have some fun, that was it! Game over. They acted like it was the end of the world.

Apparently, it wasn't what good girls did.

Ellie Lennox had no interested in being a good girl.

The other thing, she lamented, (though only slightly), as she stood before the prince in her bedroom, was that she had a good six inches on the man. Ellie was inordinately tall for a woman. Standing at six and a half feet, she towered over most men. She loved that it granted her a lot of strength and stamina, but it apparently scared off a lot of men. Which was frustrating all on its own. But nothing could be done about it.

Today, she had been hoping, was a good day.

Just lately, her father had been taking another shot at marrying her off. At thirty two, she was, (in her father's eyes), getting up there in years. Most other women her age had already been married for a decade and popped out at least two children. Most other women in her position also had rolled over onto their backs for the first suitor their parents had pressed upon them. Prince Reginald was one such man, the latest in a string of them.

He was actually pretty handsome.

Tall, only a few inches shy of her, with a nice scruff of dark stubble against his tanned, rugged face. He was well-built and nicely filled out. He'd been a soldier for three years and was well-trained in the arts of swordsmanship and archery. He was charming and quick-witted. Unfortunately, he had come down with a bad case of misogyny. In the two days that he'd been here, visiting on behalf of her father's request as a potential suitor, he'd managed to let loose enough comments that her 'oh fuck that' meter had basically been filled.

Prince Reginald didn't like the fact that she liked to go outdoors.

He didn't think a 'proper' woman should be doing any camping, certainly no cave exploration, and absolutely under no circumstances should she be risking her fair flesh and pretty face by plundering the thief-and-monster infested ruins that dotted the landscape.

He was also less than thrilled by the fact that she never bothered with makeup and the most she did with her short, blonde hair was to pull it into a rough, functional ponytail.

If that had been the end of it, it wouldn't have been such a big deal. So what if he didn't appreciate a lack of makeup or fancy hair? They never would have worked out, but it didn't make him a bad guy. It just meant he had preferences. Everyone did. No, what had really raised the red flag was when he'd gone on this long, rambling one-sided dialogue last night after one too many drinks about this woman adventurer he'd come across on the way over and how wrong that was and how women had a duty to stay at home and raise the children and tend to the house.

When Ellie had suggested that maybe she wasn't interested in either of those things, he'd seemed to consider that and offered her a shrug and the glib remark of: “Then what good is she?” That was what made him a shitty person.

But that didn't mean he didn't know how to fuck.

And that was all she really wanted out of him right now, because he was her likeliest choice (yes, the others had been that shitty by comparison) and honestly it had just been too long since she'd gotten down and dirty. Prince Reginald had to leave today, and so she knew it was time to make her move. She had no interest in marrying the idiot, let alone spending any more time with him than she had to, but she'd invited him back to her room. Because, despite all this bitching about her general appearance and less than ladylike behavior, he had definitely been eye-fucking her.

He definitely wanted in on the sex.

So, she'd brought him back to her bedroom, closed and locked the door, then grabbed him and kissed him firmly on the mouth.

Please, Princess Ellie, we really shouldn't,” he said after breaking away from her. “It isn't proper,” he added.

Oh, who gives a shit about proper?” she replied. “Come on, we're alone. We've got like five minutes, it'll be fine.”

No, if your father finds out-”

Ellie heaved a sigh. “Look, Reginald, you're a guy. You like sex. I mean, right? You like sex with women?”

Of course,” he replied.

Good. Great! That's perfect. Because I'm a woman and I like sex, too!” He was still hesitating, looking at the door. She sighed again. “Okay, Reginald. I'm going to make this very easy for you, okay?” she asked.

Ellie marched over to her bed, bent over it and hiked up the skirt of the pink dress she was wearing. (She hated pink, and dresses, but she'd been in an accommodating mood.) She, however, wasn't wearing any panties under it. She looked back over her shoulder at Reginald, who was now starting at her big, bare ass.

Uh...I...uh...” The well-spoken prince, for once, couldn't seem to string a coherent sentence together.

Come on, Reggie,” she said, waving her ass and pussy at him. “It's super easy. I'm horny right now. Wet. Pull your dick out and stick it in. If you need to get hard, I can help with that. We don't need to worry about pregnancy or any sicknesses, since I took a potion for that. So, in the dwindling time we have left, Reginald, get over here and stick your cock in me! I can tell you want to, I can see your pants getting bigger,” she added with a grin.

He glanced down, then covered himself awkwardly and cleared his throat. “Princess Ellie, we really shouldn't. I mean...” He chewed on his lip for a moment. She could see his resolve slipping. He did want her, he just knew he wasn't supposed to want her, at least not under these conditions. She sighed, straightened up and turned to face him. He would just take a little bit more...persuasion. Ellie grinned.

I know you want to. We can totally get away with it,” she said, pulling down the straps of her dress and revealing her immense breasts to him.

That seemed to do it.

Being so tall and well-built, Ellie had been blessed (and cursed, it often seemed when she was crawling around a dungeon, trying to fit through a hole or something), with very large breasts. They were useful tools though: they seemed to drain men (and some women) of their intelligence and make them susceptible to suggestion.

Well...maybe...” Reginald said.

Perfect! She had him.

There was a knock at the door.

Oh you are shitting me!” Ellie groaned, putting her tits away and getting her dress into place. Reginald looked like he was going to faint.

Ellie, what are you doing in there?” The handle rattled. “Your door is locked!”

What do you think, dad? I'm not fifteen anymore,” Ellie replied, hoping that maybe, just maybe, she could salvage this situation.

Ellie, open the door or I'm going to go get Cassandra.”

Ellie sighed, then smirked. Cassandra might be in the mood to give her dad the runaround. Even being a middle-aged warrior, Cassie knew that sometimes a girl just wanted to fuck. But no. Ellie heaved a sigh, it was over. She could just tell from the look on yon prince's face. He was drooping, too. No bulge in his pants.

That's what dads did. They killed wood, apparently.

Worse than a cold bath.

Coming, dad,” she said, irritation leaking through.

This is a nightmare,” Reginald groaned.

Yeah, at least you don't have to live with him,” she muttered as she crossed the room.

Ellie opened the door and stared down at her father. He stared right back up at her, fire in his eyes, a combination of wanting to protect his daughter and knowing damn well that his daughter was the one causing the trouble.

Ellie, what were you doing in there?” he asked.

He was about a foot shorter than her, but he'd never let that stop him from talking down to her.

What do you think, dad?”

Reginald pushed past her suddenly and offered her father, a quick bow. “It's been very nice, my lord, but I'm afraid I must away.”

Her dad looked like he wanted to say something cutting, and Reginald stood there, clearly waiting to be excused.

Her father sighed. “Very well, Prince Reginald. We thank you for your visit. I shall be in touch within a fortnight,” he said.

Thank you, my lord.”

He bowed once more and then was gone as quickly as social etiquette would allow for. They both watched him go, then her father turned his gaze back on her. Ellie didn't want to hear it. She turned away from him, walking back across her room, over to the windows, and drew the curtains. There she stood, waiting.

Ellie, do you have any idea how embarrassing it is for me to keep having to come knock on my own daughter's door and interrupt her sexual escapades?” he asked.

She turned to face him. “I imagine it must be very embarrassing and uncomfortable, father. So why do you keep doing it?! Why not go out for a ride? Go walk the grounds. Go have a roll in the hay yourself! Gods, I'm not a teenager anymore!”

Exactly! You aren't a teenager anymore! You aren't even in your twenties anymore. You need to stop this...this foolishness. This nonsense can't go on for much longer. You're...getting to be a certain age, Ellie. And I must have grandchildren. The line of succession must continue. Every day that you aren't married...” he sighed.

So then have Alyssa get married and have the kids! I don't care if she ends up with more power than me,” Ellie snapped.

She would, actually, because her younger sister was irritating and annoying and loved rubbing pointless crap in her face, like how she was a proper lady and she liked wearing makeup and she had the adulation of men from three cities over.

That's not how it works and you know that. You're the firstborn. This is your responsibility as the firstborn daughter.”

Ugh.” Ellie threw up her hands in disgust and turned away from him once more, back towards the window. She caught sight of Lena walking across the castle grounds, towards the servant's quarters. Probably towards Warren's place.

You need to make a decision,” he father said.

Obviously,” she said, as an idea slowly came to her. “I need time to think.”

Yes...” her father replied hesitantly, clearly expecting her to argue more.

You brought a lot of guys around this past month. Let me clear my head.”

Fine. You have a week,” he replied.

He waited around for her for a few seconds more to say something, but Ellie had nothing left to say to him.

Her father turned around and left the room, closing the door behind him.

Warren Bell stood in front of his mixing desk and, as carefully as he could, dripped several drops, one after the other, of a pale, glowing liquid into a glass vial clamped firmly upright. He counted them out to himself until he had ten, then, exhaling slowly, he carefully pulled the first vial away from the second. Corking it, he put it back on the rack in its place, then began searching the various other vials for the next one.

It was a good mixing desk, or so he thought. It had been his parents and he'd since then made some modifications to make it a bit more streamlined, a bit easier to navigate. It had a large, open work area in the middle that was flanked on two sides, (behind and to the left), by triple-racks of shelves, meant to hold all kinds of tools and beakers and other things he needed. The right side of the desk was largely taken up by a stack of books. It was a lot of gear, and that wasn't even counting the glass-fronted cabinet he had to his left and the varied drawers beneath him. The thing looked worn and weathered, well-used, and that made sense.

It had been in his family for two generations now. His father had built it with his own hands when he was just a scant few years older than Warren was now, (nineteen), and it had seen regular use ever since then. First by his father and then by him for years now. Though, over the last year, he'd begun using it exclusively on account of his father dying and his mother leaving. Warren felt that thought begin to sink in as he hunted for the next vial, then he heard a knock at his door. He sighed softly, gave up the hunt for now, and stood.

He knew who it was likely going to be, though it honestly could be any number of people. Given that he was the court mage for a castle that housed close to fifty people and the only really good magic user around, his services were often sought after. A bit of a funny situation, given that he was so young and people tended not to take him seriously. He didn't entirely blame them for their mentality. He was a bit on the scrawny side, a bit on the pale side, didn't look like he could do much in a fight. And he was surrounded by rugged, bronzed, well-built outdoorsmen who spent twelve hours a day chopping wood or hunting game.

But he knew magic.

And he knew it well.

Warren crossed his room and opened up the door. Sure enough, Lena stood out in front of his small cabin, nestled among a dozen or so other servant's cabins. She was looking very beautiful in the sunlight today.

Hi,” she said, smiling in that slightly awkward, slightly shy way she did. “Can I come in?”

Yeah, sure. I'm almost done,” he replied, stepping back to let her in.

That's another thing he liked about her: she never assumed much of anything. She never tried to exercise her authority over him or anyone else. Though, honestly, he knew that part of the reason for that was her condition.

How have you been?” she asked as she came in and sat down in one of the spare chairs.

Warren went back to his desk and restarted his search. “Okay. Busy, honestly. I've had about ten different people come to me today for this and that. The fletcher wants a new fire potion to dip the arrows he's making in. The blacksmith smashed his thumb with his hammer and needed me to fix it. One of the maid's children is sick. Someone, not saying who because I know how to keep a secret, (sort of), is battling with impotency. The chef needed his cold chest recharged...ugh, I'm probably the busiest person around.”

Yeah, though I heard that Ellie's dad is looking for a second mage,” Lena replied.

Ugh. I'd like to think it's because I've requested some help several times now but I know it's more because he doesn't trust me.”

Why do you think he doesn't trust you?”

Because I'm 'too young' to be taken seriously.”

You aren't that young!”

I'm a teenager.”

Hardly, you're nineteen. And even then only for a few months. And even then, what difference does it make? You clearly are getting the job done.”

I think you might be a little biased,” Warren replied.

He finally found what he was looking for, grabbed it and added it to the mix. He replaced it and began his search for his final ingredient.

Maybe,” Lena admitted. “I get the feeling that these potions are the only reason I'm tolerated around here.”

He glanced over at her. She was sitting in the chair, looking out the window, looking a bit forlorn and lost. She was clearly wearing a lot of makeup but even through it, the black veins that resulted from her condition were obvious.

She was an undead.

Warren had never quite got the whole story out of her but he knew that she had been cursed about a year ago during one of her and Ellie's expeditions. There had been a bit of a falling out between her and her family, (she came from a rich but not royal family in the local township), and when the dust had settled, she had taken up residence in one of the empty servant's quarters. Ellie had basically forced her father to let this happen, because they were childhood best friends and she would not see her friend forced out onto the street.

Part of what made this work was the fact that he gave her weekly potions to help restore her vitality. They were expensive and not all that easy to make, but he had it down to an exact science by now and Ellie had made more than enough of her own money recovering and selling lost artifacts and gems from the old ruins she liked to explore and plunder to cover the cost of the ingredients since her father refused to pay for it. When she took the potions and kept up with a daily regimen of heavy makeup, she almost passed for normal.

Today, despite the fact that she was at the end the week and thus closer to looking like an undead, Warren thought she looked especially beautiful. She wore her vivid red hair in a bun, but also arranged some of it so that it hung over one of her bloodshot blue eyes. If asked, Warren wouldn't be able to answer coherently, but he always thought that look, that one-eye-covered look, was incredibly sexy on women. And it was particularly true for Lena.

You almost done?” she asked, grinning awkwardly.

He realized he'd been staring at her.

Uh, yeah,” he replied, quickly turning back to his work.

There was no way there'd ever be anything between them. Not because she was undead, he didn't care about that, but because she was way out of his league. Besides being absurdly beautiful, she came from money and she was about ten years older than him. Who was he? Some fucking teenager who made potions.

Ellie's pissed again,” Lena said.

As he found the final ingredient and began adding it to the potion he was making, he snorted. “When isn't she?”

Good point. At least, when she's around here.”

What is it this time?”

Her dad is trying to force marriage on her again...” She trailed off. Warren glanced over. Lena was looking out the window again. She looked...guilty.

No suitable suitors?” he asked.

Lena snorted. “No. None. They're all either idiots or jerks or...jerky idiots.” She sighed. “But that's how it goes in the high class. When you're rich and you're a guy, you can afford to be a moron. But it doesn't matter because women will jump in bed with you anyway and people will put up with you because you have money.”

Yeah, must be nice,” Warren muttered.

He finished pouring the final ingredient in, then raised the potion tube up and gently swirled it around for a long moment. Finally, he set it back down in its place and corked it. Now it needed to sit for about five minutes.

Now would be a good time to give Lena the news.

So, Lena...there's something I need to talk to you about,” he said.

His tone of voice must have tipped his hand, because she immediately gave him her utmost, undivided attention. “Yes?”

I don't want to get your hopes up...but I've been corresponding with someone who may have found a cure, a real cure, for your...problem.”

What is it?” she asked, and he could tell she was trying to do exactly what he'd told her: not get her hopes up.

A mage several towns over is tracking down a rumor about a magic well,” he replied. “They say that if you drink from it, and you are cursed, you will be cured. He said it's not exactly that simple, and he's hunting down facts about its location, functionality...and how genuine it is.”

Lena was nodding but he wasn't sure she was listening anymore.

He understood. It hurt him to see her like this.

Not the hope, but what always had come after the hope. Lena wanted nothing more than to be what she deemed 'normal' again. People shied away from her, tolerated her or, if they thought they could get away with it, ignored her. As far as Warren could tell, he was one of the very few people who actually spoke to her intentionally.

He'd been looking for a cure for her ever since she'd come to the castle, going through obscure texts and ancient books and writing letters to everyone he could think of. There had been several false leads and empty promises and none of it had panned out so far. And every single time it was so painful, so horrible to see her crestfallen. And that was nothing, he was sure, compared to how she felt. He wanted so desperately to help her, not because he thought it would get her to do something for him, but just because he liked her and he had such a deep well of sympathy for her situation. He couldn't even imagine what it must be like.

As soon as I get his letter back, I'll let you know. I'm sure Ellie will be up for another expedition,” he said.

She laughed, coming back to him, to the conversation. “Yeah, definitely. She'd take any excuse to get out of the castle at this point.”

They sat in silence for a little while.

So...how are you doing lately?” he asked.

I'm getting by,” Lena replied. “No one shouted or threw things at me this week, so, you know, that's good in my books. What about you? Besides being busy.”

He shrugged. “Fine, I guess.”

Any suitors of your own?” she asked.

He snorted. “No, not too into the rich, handsome guys myself.”

Lena rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean,” she replied. “I thought you might have had a thing for Abby...”

He laughed. “Abby!? Really?!”

What? Yeah...why is that so weird? She's pretty...”

Well yeah but...” he shrugged. “She's also kind of mean...kind of really mean. And not too sharp, if you know what I mean. And besides, she's all on that guy who handles the horses. No way she'd be interested in me.”

Why not? You're a catch,” Lena replied.

He snorted, turned back to his potion and picked it up gently, studying it. “Sure.”

You are,” Lena insisted.

Oh yeah? What's so catching about me?”

You're smart. You're nice. You're independent and motivated and driven. You live by yourself and manage the magical needs of an entire castle. And you aren't ugly.”

A ringing endorsement,” Warren said, but he was smiling. Was she hitting on him? It didn't seem likely. It was a lot more likely that she was just being nice...but he liked it all the same.

You're cute,” she said. “You'll do better than I will,” she added, her tone darkening just a bit.

You'll do fine,” Warren replied. “I'll find a way to cure you, you'll go back to your life like it was nothing.”

Yeah, sure, I'll just slide right back into my life...” Lena replied, rolling her eyes again.

You will. You, too, are smart and motivated and dedicated and really cute,” he replied. Warren turned, stood and crossed the room, handing her the potion.

It's ready,” he said.

Thanks,” she replied softly, taking it but not looking away from him for a long moment...did she like him?

No, it just wasn't possible.

Lena brought the vial to her lips and tilted her head back, upending it and drinking the concoction. She passed it back to him once it was empty. He watched as the change began to take her. The blackened lines beneath her skin, her veins, faded a bit, and her skin seemed to tighten up just a notch. The bloodshot nature of her eyes receded noticeably. By the time it was done, he surmised that if he saw her at a distance, it wouldn't be possible at all to tell that she was undead. Even up close it was a bit of a task.

How do I look?” she asked.

Great. You always look great, though,” he replied, turning and returning to his desk.

He heard her start to say something else, but then there was a sharp knock at his door. A second later, it opened. “Lena, you in here?” It was Ellie.

Yes, Ellie. And that was rude,” Lena replied.

What, it's not like you're in here fucking...” she sighed. “Sorry, Warren. Should've waited for you to open the door...can I have her? Need to vent,” she said.

Yeah, we're done here,” Warren replied.

Come on, Lena. We gotta talk.”

Trash talking the latest empty-headed suitor?” she asked with a smirk, standing up.


Okay. Thanks again, Warren. And you'll let me know?”

I'll let you know as soon as I can,” he replied.

Thank you.”

He watched them leave his cabin, closing the door behind them.

Warren knew that he might be in love with Lena, but he was in lust with Ellie. Then again, who wasn't?

The conversation wandered this way and that as Ellie led Lena across the courtyard. Several of the servants were out and about and Ellie had no intention of letting them overhear her complaints, nor her plan. It was slowly forming in her head but she wasn't entirely sure how to go about it. One crucial piece of the puzzle was missing.

Maybe Lena would know how to handle it.

They passed by the row of cabins that made up the servant's living quarters. Some of them were individual, like Lena's and Warren's, some were larger, shared quarters. Lena's sat at the end of the row. It had been part of the compromise Ellie had worked out with her dad when she'd finally put her foot down and forced him to let Lena live with them. It wasn't like anyone was using the damned thing and there was no reason Lena should be forced out onto the street because of a mistake that Ellie had made. Something she still felt guilty about.

They came into Lena's cabin, shut and bolted the door, made sure the curtains were drawn, then Ellie cast the spell that she'd learned a little while ago. She wasn't very good at magic, but she'd picked up a few spells here and there through sheer determination. It was a soundproofing spell. It was something she would have used in her bedroom when she'd been looking for a roll in the hay, but unfortunately it worked both ways, she wouldn't have been able to hear that warning her father had given and then he really would have had Cassie come open the door and then he'd have walked in on good old prince Reginald balls deep in her.

And that would have been awkward for everyone.

So, was he bad?” Lena asked, sinking into her big, comfy chair while Ellie began pacing about the room.

He was terrible! Good Gods, he was a nightmare! A moron!” she cried.

Lena grinned. “Did you fuck him?”

Ellie sighed explosively. “No...not for lack of trying though. Gods, I am going to claw my eyes out or something. I haven't had sex in two months! It shouldn't be this hard! But...” She stopped pacing and looked at Lena now. “I've got a plan.”

Lena leaned forward, grinning now. “Yeah? What's the plan?”

The family cabin. No one's been there in awhile. My dad never goes anymore. I was thinking of telling him that I need some alone time, to clear my head, you know? He'd totally buy it. Then, you and me would hike up to the cabin and find someone to fuck...only, that's the problem. Who? Who could we find to fuck?”

Well, nobody that would fuck me,” Lena said.

Oh, come on, you're looking good enough to get laid,” Ellie replied dismissively.

Well...there might be a hunter around or something. Isn't there a logging camp a few miles from there?” she asked.

Yeah, maybe...”

She began racking her brain, trying to figure out who she could possibly find to take back to the cabin and fuck. It couldn't be anyone at the castle. There were no men her dad would allow to go with them because he suspected all of them of saying 'yes' if Ellie tried to jump them, which she would. All the guys that worked around the castle were either too old to really catch her eye, too young too, or in that category of her dad not trusting them. There didn't seem to be any kind of middle ground or unique person that her dad wouldn't make a big deal about...


Holy shit,” Ellie said suddenly.

What?” Lena asked. “You thought of someone?”

Warren!” she said.

Lena frowned. “What?”

Warren! My dad thinks he's a pushover,” Ellie replied, suddenly excited. “He'd never suspect me of trying to jump him! He thinks Warren is still a kid! It's perfect! Oh man, this will be great. You and I can go up to the cabin. He'll try to push some bodyguard on us, but we'll take Warren and say that he can heal us if anything goes wrong. He'll totally buy that. Then, once we can get up there, we can fuck the shit out of him for like two days!”

Warren?” Lena asked, sounding a little uncomfortable.

Ellie glanced over at her. “Yeah. I mean, he's a bit young, but he is really cute. And come on, he seems pretty inexperienced. He'll so totally go for it. Even a lame lay will be great at this point.”

That's kind of mean,” Lena said.

Okay, fine, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But come on, he'll totally fuck you, too! I saw the way he was looking at you. And I saw the way you were looking at him, Lena. You want his dick, don't you?”

Come on, Ellie...guys don't look at me that way anymore.”

Lena...” Ellie faced her fully now. “You're beautiful. Don't doubt that. Warren would be lucky to go to bed with you. He knows it. You should know it. Now...come on, this'll be great! I promise, it'll be a weekend to remember.”

Well...okay, if you think so,” Lena replied.

Ellie smiled. “Great! Start packing, I'll go tell my dad.”

You're sure about this?”

Ellie nodded. Her father, sitting at his desk in his study, chair turned around so that he could face her, frowned.

You and Lena and Warren?” he asked.

For a moment, she worried that the sheer fact that Warren was a male, that he had a dick, would keep him from going on this journey. She could practically see the gears of her fathers mind turning, working the problem out.

Like I said,” she decided to throw in, “I need time to think. You've thrown how many suitors at me over the past month? I just need some girl time with Lena. And if anything happens, you know we can defend ourselves. Plus, Warren will be there. He can heal us right up.”

Her dad really seemed to latch onto that notion of thinking over the suitors. For a moment, as she stood there watching him, she felt a pang of sympathy for him. He was old, in his sixties now, his hair graying and thinning, his frame thinning out, wrinkles forming on his face. She loved him, she always would, and she at least could understand where he was coming from. He didn't necessarily personally believe that his daughter should be married off against her will, but he also understood that when you were royalty, it had to happen.

It was the order of things.

Unfortunately, despite his personal feelings on the subject, functionally, it resulted in the same thing: Ellie was being forced to marry basically against her will. So far, no even remotely suitable suitors had shown up.

Okay,” he said. “How long will you be gone?”

Just today and tomorrow and some of the next day. We'll hike up there,” she said.

Very well,” he said with a sigh. “Just...be careful. It's been awhile since I've been up there,” he added.

Dad, I can take care of myself,” Ellie replied.

He smiled sadly and nodded. “I suppose you can. Have fun dear.”

And, because she felt at least a little guilty for taking advantage of his trust, she hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.

I'll try, dad,” she said.

And that was it. She was out the door.

Warren wasn't sure what to make of all this.

One minute, he'd been preparing some potions, the next, Ellie was practically banging his door down. She had at least waited for him to actually open it himself this time. She and Lena were standing beyond the door, looking, as usually, crazy beautiful.

What's up?” he asked.

Lena and I have decided that we need a little getaway from the castle and we're heading up to the family cabin and we need you to come with us,” Ellie had explained.

Warren had hesitated. Something was up. Ellie seemed peppy and fully of energy and like she was hiding something. And Lena...wouldn't look at him. So what did that mean? In the end, what difference did it make?

She was a princess, he was a servant, he'd go.

Yes, princess,” he said.

Ellie let out a huff of irritation. “Warren, how many times have I asked you not to call me that? Just Ellie,” she said.

Yes, princess,” he replied.

I'm going to hit you.”

He couldn't help but smirk. “You would, too, wouldn't you? All right, let me pack my things,” he replied.

Good. We'll meet you by the back exit. Hurry.”

You got it.”

And he'd packed.

Now, they were walking up to the cabin. It was maybe an hour's hike. The women were chatting happily back and forth about this and that. Warren wasn't paying too much attention. Partially because he wanted to respect their privacy and he was used to being sort of in the background, given that he was a servant, but also because he was having a good time watching their asses. Particularly Ellie's. She had that amazing curvy-yet-fit thing going on. Plus, being so tall, she had a huge ass. Checking them out made him feel awkward and he tried not to do it too much, but it felt like his eyes were magnetized to their bodies.

It felt a little disrespectful, but they didn't seem to notice, so what difference did it really make? It wasn't like he was standing there, catcalling them and making them uncomfortable like he saw some guys doing around town. (Though no one dared did that to Ellie. Not just because she was the local lord's daughter and a princess, but because she had no problem kicking ass. He'd seen her straight cold-cock a blacksmith once. The guy had been very well-built, but Ellie packed a crazy punch and knocked the guy straight out).

He wondered what all this was about.

He wasn't a complete idiot, he could pick up on some kind of social subterfuge that was going on between the two ladies. So far, he had picked up that Ellie was very excited, the way that people get when they've got some epic surprise planned, (good or bad), and they're trying to keep it off their face but failing miserably. And Lena looked...guilty? No, it wasn't guilt. More just...awkwardness. She hadn't met his eyes yet or said anything to him.

What were they planning on doing up there?

And how did it involve him?

Was it bad or good? Surprises could go either way, and so far, his history with Ellie and Lena seemed to suggest that both women were at least on decent terms with him. But...he'd also known people of royal descent to do some pretty whacked out things if the mood struck them. On the other hand, Ellie wasn't like other royal people. She was careless sometimes with her words and her actions, but never actually mean.

Or, at least, not to him.

And Lena seemed to like him enough to maybe try to talk Ellie out of doing something mean or otherwise harmful to him.


As they crested the next rise, he spied the cabin.

Place looks good,” Ellie said as they stepped into the main room of the cabin.

It was a big cabin, a real cabin, not one of those two-room deals. It had a living room with a big, beautiful stone fireplace, a bedroom upstairs, a kitchen, and a dining room, and then a basement with a study and, off of that, a huge master bedroom that had a giant, sunken tub in it. Except for a thin layer of dust on everything and a stuffiness to the air, Ellie decided that the place did, indeed, look good. No one had been here.

Warren, would you mind getting this place set up? Opening up the windows and tending to the firewood and all that?” she asked.

Sure,” he replied.

We'll be downstairs,” Ellie said.

While he set off to do the things she'd asked, Ellie led Lena through the cabin to the stairwell that led down into the basement where she would be able to relax in the lap of luxury. Technically this was all her parent's property and the bedroom at the top of the stairs had frequently been shared with her insufferable younger sister back when her mother was still alive and they'd really treated this place like a family cabin.

Now it was largely Ellie's. Her father almost never came here anymore, probably because it reminded him too much of his late wife, and Ellie could understand that. And, being the prissy bitch that she was, Alyssa never liked leaving the castle grounds for anything less than a night on the town and some shopping or something. She'd always hated the outdoorsy stuff that Ellie and her father had bonded over.

What this all amounted to was that now, the master bedroom was hers and Lena's for the taking pretty much.

They walked down the stairs, not much light getting inside the darkened room. Ellie activated another small spell she'd picked up that was ridiculously useful. She raised one finger and a flame leaped into existence, hovering maybe half an inch over the tip of her finger. Abruptly, the flame split off into three separate pieces and shot across the room in three different directions. They sought out any candles and lit them.

A soft, flickering glow filled the room, showing them the way.

Magic is so cool,” Ellie said as she crossed the room and opened up both of the small windows set high into the far wall, letting some sunshine in.

It is. I wish I could do it,” Lena replied wistfully.

You could,” Ellie said, crossing the room once more to its only door.

I don't know. I've never been very magically gifted, even before I was an undead, which only inhibits the process even more,” Lena replied.

To that, Ellie wasn't sure what to say.

She opened the door to the master bedroom and repeated the spell. This time, the flame divided into eight pieces and found more candles, providing a more powerful, even distribution of glowing, flickering light.

Ah, yes,” Ellie whispered as she took in the room.

It was dominated by the enormous four-post bed done up in pink and blue silk sheets and curtains and blankets. There was also a pair of immense wardrobes, a trio of chests that held any number of random items, a mannequin meant to hold armor, and a huge desk. Also, of course, one corner was taken up entirely by the sunken heated tub.

It's been awhile since we've come out here,” Lena said as she walked over to the bed and flopped back onto it.

Yep,” Ellie agreed, walking over to the tub. It was heated magically. Her mother had been skilled at magic. She'd have to go make sure the water that was pumped in from the surface was clean enough to use, but that shouldn't be a big deal. “So...” she said, turning to face Lena. “We should talk about how we're going to do this.”

Okay...how are we going to do this?” she asked.

She still seemed uncomfortable about the whole thing, which Ellie knew was because she was an undead and very self-conscious about it, and that only made her feel even more guilty than she normally did.

It was her fault Lena was cursed.

If she was going to get laid tonight, then by the Gods, so was Lena.

Maybe we should just be straight-up about it,” she said, pacing again. “Just get naked and call him down, you know? See what he does.”

He'll probably run out of the room,” Lena said. “You are the princess, after all.”

Ellie snorted. “One of them, anyway. Yeah, you're probably right. I like Warren but...yeah, he probably would. He doesn't have that kind of...take charge streak, in him, you know? Which is, ironically, what makes him so good for this. No, I'll probably have to order him to do me...man, that sounds weird and kind of sad. Ugh! It should not be this hard to get laid! Every fucking guy I come across is all 'oh, princess Ellie, you're the fairest woman in the land!' and 'Oh, what I wouldn't do to be the guy to share wedding vows you with you!' and all that bullshit.” She rolled her eyes. “And here I am, apparently one of the most beautiful women around, I have to stoop to order a teenage boy to have sex with me.” She threw up her hands in frustration.

Come on, it's not that bad,” Lena said. “He's a really cute teenage boy...” She hesitated, chewed on one of her lips.

Ellie stared at her for a moment. She looked really sexy when she did that. Ellie and Lena had a sexual history together, going all the way back to one fateful day a little over twelve years ago. But she hadn't wanted to do anything after becoming cursed and although that didn't bother Ellie at all, she was still beautiful Lena to her, she hadn't pushed it. Although maybe she should have. Lena had been sort of retreating into herself lately.

And by the Gods, a year without sex?!

It must be torture.

Just another thing to feel fucking guilty over.

What's wrong?” she asked.

Should we do this?” Lena replied. “I mean, should we really?”

Of course we should. I mean, okay, let's look at it. Warren wants to fuck us, okay? I know he's not gay and I know he'd totally fuck me and you if we just gave him an opening. I've seen the way he looks at both of us, even if he tries to hide it. I mean, he's like in lust with us. The sex will be safe. None of us have any diseases as far as I know, and even if we did, there's cures out there for all of them. And you can't get pregnant, and neither can I because I drank that potion already. So...I mean...what's the problem? He'll be into it, I'll be into it...do you not like him?” she asked. “Or...or is it that you do like him? Because we've never had problems sharing a dick in the past...”

No! It's not...I...there's nothing there between us,” she said.

Says the girl who goes to see the cute young boy at least once a day every day,” Ellie replied.

Lena heaved an exasperated sigh. “Ellie, you just have to face it, okay? I'm a zombie. I'm undead. No guy wants to fuck me. And that's just how it is.”

Ellie stared at her for a moment, then she sighed and sat down next to her, putting an arm around her. Lena rested her head against her.

Lena,” she said, considering her words, “I know it's been tough. And I know that most guys, yeah, aren't into you. But Warren will see past that...look, you just...you have to get laid tonight, okay? I'm so sorry about what happened in that ruin and-”

Ellie,” she said, breaking away from her grasp and looking at her. “How many times do I have to tell you? It wasn't your fault, it was mine. I wasn't paying attention. I was being stupid and it's my fault I was cursed like this.”

No, I never should have brought you-”

But you did because I kept asking you over and over again. I made you take me on that trip, Ellie. Please...I feel guilty enough as it is. I know that this whole string of suitors lately, your dad pressuring you into marriage...it's because of me. It's part of the deal for letting me stay on castle grounds.”

Lena...” Ellie began, but what could she say?

She was right. Her dad was using that fact to lean on her. Every fucking time she tried to get out of it, he'd say, 'Didn't I take your undead friend in under my wing? Aren't I letting her stay here for free?' And there was nothing Ellie could say to that.

She let out a huff of irritation. “Look, whatever our problems...let's just forget them for now, okay? That's what we came up here to do, right?”

Yeah...right. You're right,” Lena replied.

Good. We'll wait for dark, then we'll come down here and take a long bath, then we'll have him come down. And then we'll jump him. And Lena...no arguing, okay? You're wrong, I know you're wrong about him. He does want to fuck you. You think you don't deserve to have hot sex but you're wrong about that. You're beautiful and smart and tough and you're a good person and my best friend, and I'm not going to sit by and let you sulk in misery.”

Lena sighed. “Yes, princess,” she said finally.

Don't make me hit you,” Ellie growled.

They shared a laugh, then headed back upstairs.

The day passed by.

Warren did as Ellie asked, first opening up all the windows, letting the sunshine and the fresh air in, then checking the place out, making sure everything really was intact. When that was done with, he checked on the firewood and found it still there, still intact, still more than enough for the weekend. From there, he went to the spare bedroom that would be his for the weekend and unpacked his things. When that was over, Ellie and Lena emerged from the basement. Ellie had a bow and arrow in hand and declared they would hunt for dinner.

That took a good hour or so.

They stalked the grounds, and mostly he talked quietly with Lena and watched Ellie hunt. There was something both slightly creepy and very sexy about a woman that was that good at murder. She killed several pheasants and a few rabbits, then gathered them all up and brought them back to the cabin to turn into a stew.

As they all worked in the kitchen at gutting, skinning, and prepping the animals for the stew, the light slowly drained from the sky. Warren noticed that the women seemed more relaxed, more at ease with him and each other, but, every now and then, a bit of tension would bleed through in their movements, their expressions, their words.

They were waiting for something.

But what?

Eventually, the stew was assembled and they sat around the dining table, waiting for it.

So...how goes things?” Warren asked. “I've heard there were...frustrations.”

You have no idea,” Ellie replied. “I've endured a dozen different morons over the past month. Princes from neighboring cities and townships. They're all so dull, so irritating, so...fucking...useless! You know what I mean?”

I'm not sure I do,” Warren replied.

Lena smirked. She could see that he was just getting her riled up.

She let out a disgusted sigh. “Half of them didn't know how to do anything. They had servants do so much crap for them. Let me tell you, very few things are more unattractive than a man who doesn't know how to do shit...or, more importantly, doesn't care that he doesn't know and won't even try to learn. And the other half were just so fucking arrogant. So full of themselves. Another huge turn off. Made me dry up faster than a fucking drought,” she muttered. “And I'm expected to settle down with one of these idiots.”

Silence descended.

You know,” Warren said after a long moment of thought, “my mom settled down.”

I loved your mom,” Lena said. “She was so great. And funny, too.”

She was,” Ellie agreed.

Warren nodded. “Yeah, she was great. But she settled down with my dad. My mom was the adventuring type. She still is, actually. That's why she left a year ago, when my dad died. She wanted to resume her life of adventuring. Looking back on those eighteen years, I can see now that my mom wasn't always satisfied with her life...but she was very happy. Because she loved my dad. And he loved her, a lot.”

More silence in the kitchen.

So what are you saying?” Ellie asked.

I'm saying...maybe you'll meet someone you love, and that love will rival your love of going out and adventuring. And you won't mind settling down so much...” He hesitated for a moment. “Or, fuck, maybe not. Maybe you aren't supposed to find a true love. Maybe your true love is your love of the land, of danger, and that's all you need. Maybe you should just...leave.”

Ellie shook her head slowly. “No...I couldn't do that to my dad.”

If you did leave,” Lena said slowly, “I'd go with you. I'd go anywhere with you.”

Ellie smiled. “Thanks,” she said.

Warren felt a bit uncomfortable. Real emotion had seeped into the conversation. Suddenly, Ellie glanced over at the stew pot. She stood. “I think dinner's ready,” she said.

A few minutes later, they were eating and Ellie was going off again, telling stories about the idiots she'd encountered.

It was dark now and Ellie was getting excited.

The bath water was fine. It was clear and steaming, in fact. She and Lena were now both naked and in it. It had taken a bit of coaxing, but Lena had finally stripped and gotten in the tub with her. Ellie had to admit, seeing her friend naked again excited her. She was really great breasts and some excellent thighs.

As they soaked together and began washing themselves, preparing for the big night, Ellie thought back to their sexual experiences. It had all started one night when they were twenty. There was some big event going on that required her parent's attention, and they'd taken Alyssa with them and left Ellie in charge of the castle and what few servants remained. Lena had come to spend time with her and they'd both gotten a bit drunk and then retreated to Ellie's bedroom. They'd laid in bed together in their underclothes, whiling the night away.

Then Ellie had started noticing how beautiful Lena was. She'd always noticed that, and sometimes it went a bit further than an academic appraisal and started turning to lustier thoughts, which had never worried Ellie. She knew she preferred men...but she also knew that some women could really get her going, too.

Lena was one of those women.

Ellie had started complimenting her and Lena had been all shy and awkward about it and then, almost without warning, (for either of them), Ellie had leaned in and kissed her. It had stretched into a long kiss, then some tongue got invoked, then they had both pulled back, staring at each other, excited and maybe a bit frightened.

And then one thing had led to another.

And lots of times again after that.

They'd kept it up for quite awhile and Ellie was sad they didn't do it anymore. Lena had gotten really good at eating pussy.

You're still looking really good, Lena,” she said, her voice lilted just a touch, to suggest only the tiniest hint that she wasn't just paying her a compliment but was hitting on her.

Thanks,” Lena said awkwardly. If she still could, Ellie imagined she'd be blushing right now. She could practically hear it in her voice. “You're really pretty, too.”

Just pretty?” Ellie replied. She was washing her breasts now, then her arms and under them. She'd have to do something about her hair. Okay, well, she didn't have to but she knew the boys liked the girls shaved nowadays and with a special little spell she'd picked up, it was no problem at all. Just a slight augmentation on a fire spell.

Lena rolled her eyes. “You're beautiful, your highness,” she replied.

Ellie sighed. “That's not what I mean. I was going more for like...hot, you know? I don't really do pretty or beautiful. I do sexy and sultry and sometimes slutty. Slutty is fun,” she replied.

Yes, it really was,” Lena replied wistfully. Lena wouldn't have to shave. Her hair hadn't grown at all in the past year.

It'll be fun tonight,” Ellie promised.

Lena just offered her a crooked, beautiful smile. Ellie stood up in the bath tub, raised one hand and activated what she called her shaving spell. A little wisp of flame popped into existence, licking across the surface of her palm. She brought it up to one of her armpits and rubbed it around, not burning her skin but burning off all the hair. She repeated this process with her other armpit, then along her long legs and around her vagina.

Did I miss any?” she asked, checking herself over.

No...you look good. Really good,” Lena replied.

Thanks,” Ellie said, letting the flames go out.

Ellie sat back down and stared for a long moment across the tub at Lena. She was squeezing her vivid red hair out. That had stayed the appropriate color after she'd turned. If anything, it stood out even more against her deathly pale skin now.

Have you really not had sex since you've turned?” she asked.

Lena seemed startled by the question. She appeared to consider it for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah, really. I haven't. The last time I got laid was that guy I took to bed on the road, when we stayed at that inn, just before the day I turned.”

How was he?” Ellie replied.

Ugh. Not a lay to go out on. He would hardly finger me, insisted I suck him off for a long time, then he pounded me for like two minutes, blew his load and passed out. Seriously, super fucking disappointing.”

I bet Warren would work to get you off,” Lena said.

Why? What makes you think that?”

There's just something about him...” she hesitated, then chewed on her lip. “Okay, fine, I talked to Linnie.”

The blacksmith's daughter?”

Yeah. She and Warren dated last year, before his parents left. They got sexual. She likes to talk. She said he was really good in bed and he could eat pussy like you wouldn't believe.”

So why'd they break up?” Lena asked.

Her dad made her. Said she needed a 'real' man, not one of those...how did she put it...'pansy magic boys'.”

Lena rolled her eyes. “He would say something like that, fucking moron.”

Yeah. I almost gave him a mercy lay after that.”

What made you not?”

Ellie hesitated. “I knew you liked him,” she said.

I don't like him!” Lena replied.

Oh give it up, Lena. Come on, you spend all your time with him.”

He's the only one besides you and Cass who doesn't treat me like a fucking plague victim or a vampire!”

And that's why you like him!”

Lena stared at her for a long moment, then sighed and looked away. “Whatever, let's just get on with this whole thing.”

Ellie grinned and splashed her with some water. “You're just pissy because you haven't gotten laid in a long time. It's okay, I am, too. Don't worry, you'll feel way better after Warren has had his way with you.”

Lena smiled and rolled her eyes, splashing her back. “Whatever. You'll ride him to death before I get a chance,” she replied.

Let's find out,” Ellie said.

They both got up out of the tub and quickly dried off. Ellie grabbed a large, soft robe that used to be her mother’s and pulled it on. She told Lena to stay put and then headed out into the study, then up the stairs.

Standing at the top of the stairs, the door partially open, she called to Warren. A moment later he appeared cautiously.

Yes?” he asked.

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