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Excerpt for Cake with the King by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


A lonely king, an infatuated bodyguard, a slice of fancy cake.


Note: This was a cute, short bit written on tumblr for fun, and published here for the convenience of readers.


Cake with the King

By Megan Derr


Published by Megan Derr


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.


This book is a work of fiction and all names, characters, places, and incidents are fictional or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.


First Edition November 2018

Copyright © 2018 by Megan Derr

Printed in the United States of America




Jaya had expected their one year stint babysitting the king during dinner to be an exercise in tedium. Unlike his father, King Akhil was loved and adored, so attempts to make him the shortest-reigning monarch in Baduli's history were minimal. There'd been exactly one, back when he was sending his father's co-conspirators to the gallows.

Since then, the biggest complaints regarding Akhil came from the kitchens, because Akhil enjoyed food the way most people enjoyed breathing. His latest obsession was cake from some far-off country Jaya couldn't pronounce, where everybody was so pale they looked one step away from death. But apparently they made excellent cakes, and His Majesty was determined to try ever single variation under the Sister Suns.

What Jaya had not expected was that they would come to develop a minor infatuation with His Majesty, who reminded them far too much of the family they'd left behind. Their mother had been much like the king: fat, nearly always happy, strict but fair, and loved food. Though their mother had liked the cooking part more than the eating part.

Their mother, however, had not put highly inappropriate thoughts in their head. Or made them daydream about what it might be like to sit down and enjoy one of the tempting meals that His Majesty nearly always ate alone, despite the fact people were always eager for his company.

Tonight's ridiculous cake smelled of berries and was covered in so much sugar Jaya's teeth ached just looking it. Probably it tasted terrible. The wine His Majesty was pouring was probably awful, too. That was why it was from the most famous winery in the kingdom and cost more per cask than Jaya would make in an entire year's worth of work.

His Majesty thanked the woman who'd brought the food, and she glanced at Jaya on her way out, exchanging a look of mutual fondness and amusement over their king. The door closed quietly behind her, and the only sounds in the room then were the crackling of the fire and His Majesty's soft humming. He had a beautiful voice when he sang, which was regrettably not very often.

Jaya looked their fill while His Majesty was pre-occupied reading a last few bits of paperwork so he could enjoy his cake freely. His father had not been a handsome man, but the late queen had been breathtakingly beautiful and bestowed that beauty on her son: thick, curly, dark brown hair with threads of early silver, dark amber eyes and a slightly crooked nose, a mouth that made Jaya think about things a humble guard should never think about their monarch.

At least Jaya kept their thoughts to themself, unlike most of the court, who seem to go out of their way to share every licentious thought in their heads where they thought His Majesty might "overhear" and be tempted.

Like a man who had survived being son of the Gallows King was so easily distracted.

His Majesty sighed softly and leaned back in his seat, eyes sliding shut. Then he seemed to start, as if recalling he was not alone, and sat up straight. He pulled the fancy cake close and picked up his fork—but then stopped and set it down again.

Jaya hesitated, but they'd never seen His Majesty look so… well, glum. "Is everything all right, Your Majesty?"

That gained Jaya a pensive look, the sort of look that normally would have made them fight to hold still and rapidly go through every last thing they'd done to make triply sure none of it would get them in trouble. But His Majesty's eyes were only warm and a bit sad, the same as always. Whatever weighed his thoughts, he wasn't mad at Jaya.

"Come sit."

"Your Majesty?"

"Please. You do not have to, of course, but I would be grateful for the company."

Jaya would hear it from Captain Gita when she found out they'd sat down while working, and Gita always found out despite all reason and logic that said she shouldn't. But Jaya could not refuse such a request, not when the king's eyes were always so sad and he'd never asked anyone for anything, not that Jaya had ever heard, and they'd been on duty for eight months already.

They approached the table slowly and only after making sure the doors were all locked. Putting their sword where it could be easily grabbed and drawn, Jaya finally sat down.

"Here," His Majesty said with a smile that Jaya would have called tentative on anyone else. "I think you need to taste this for me."

Jaya blinked. "Um. Majesty?"

All boyish innocence, which was not something Jaya had ever needed to see because good luck not adding that to their stupid daydreams, His Majesty nudged it closer and said, "What, you'd rather your monarch be poisoned?"

Poisoned. That was so ridiculous Jaya had to bite the inside of their cheek to keep from laughing. Four women cooked exclusively for the king, and no one else, and all of them could have given Jaya's mother lessons in being terrifying. Even Captain Gita didn't cross them, though everyone knew she was pining after Chief Cook Deepa.

Taking a deep breath, sending a silent apology to their mother for their pending death at the hands of Gita, Jaya took up the heavy silver fork and cut into the small, decadent cake. As its scent had promised, the inside oozed rich cream and slightly tangy berries that meshed perfectly with the spongy cake and frothy, sugary frosting. "Suns." They'd never tasted anything so delicious in their life.

His Majesty broke into a beautiful smile that Jaya promptly wanted to banish from their memory. They were rapidly going from 'inappropriate but mild infatuation' to 'hopelessly besotted' and that wasn't going to end well for anyone, least of all them. "Wonderful, isn't it? Here, try this too; you must be thorough, after all." He set the cup of wine in front of Jaya, seemingly unaware of the heart attack he was inducing.

Gita was going to kill them slowly. In the practice yard, where they could be made an example of, and their head would be put on a pike as a lesson to future soldiers.

Well, if they were already sentenced to death, what difference did it make if they made one transgression or two? Jaya picked up the cup and too a tentative sip—and then two more before they finally managed to put the cup down again. Jaya licked traces of wine from their lips, and flushed hot as they realized the king's eyes were on their mouth. "I, um, do not think your food is poisoned, Your Majesty."

"You can call me Akhil. It seems rude to expect formality when I invited you to dine with me." When Jaya did not immediately reply, Akhil's sad smile returned. "Please, I would not make you uncomfortable."

"I—it's unusual, Your—" Jaya gave a sharp shake of their head. "It's unusual. Captain Gita will, um, reprimand me if she finds out I was neglecting my duties to indulge in cake and wine." Where 'reprimand' meant 'disembowel' but that wasn't His Majesty's—Akhil's problem. "But I am happy to keep you company and ensure you are not being poisoned."

Akhil's pretty smile returned. "Then I thank you. Perhaps if you like the job enough, I will make you my permanent food taster." He winked, and Jaya's self-preservation melted completely. "That should keep you safe from the Dragon of Baduli." He took back the wine and took a sip from the very same spot Jaya had, seeming to linger. Jaya's ability to think joined their self-preservation.

If they didn't know any better, they would swear this was flirting. But kings didn't flirt with soldiers, let alone someone as plain-faced and boring as Jaya, who could talk about rice and how stupid goats were and all the best hiding places in the barracks, but not much else.

Then Akhil offered the cup again, causing their fingers to touch when Jaya accepted it, and lingered significantly before finally withdrawing his hand. A hot tingle raced down Jaya's spine. They thought maybe they weren't the only ones feeling such things. "Tomorrow I'll have Deepa send up service for two. If—if you want."

Jaya swallowed a sip of wine, then swallowed their nerves. "I want."

And ooh, they liked that smile best of all.



Fin

About the Author



Megan is a long time resident of LGBTQ romance, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she's not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all over the internet.


maderr.com

maderr.tumblr.com

meganaderr.blogspot.com

facebook.com/meganaprilderr

meganaderr@gmail.com

@meganaderr



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