Prince Charming he was not, even if his name was Chester Charming. As a fainting rabbit, he was cursed with fainting in his human form when startled or afraid. Finding three vampires being attacked by a group of wolves should have had him flat out on the ground, but the overwhelming need to save one of those vampires kept him on his feet and rushing to the rescue. Little did Chester know that his idiotic choice to run into danger would lead him to his mate.
Prince Alaric Xavier D'aureville had lived more than seven hundred years. He'd met different species from all over the world, rubbed elbows with royalty and the dregs of society, and seen history pass him by. He never expected to find his beloved in a sexy rabbit shifter right in his own hometown. Once he claimed him, though, he wasn't going to let anyone take Chester away from him, not even some idiot intent on taking all of his money any way he could. Prince Charming belonged to him.
"Okay, so we've decided that Chester will go as Prince Charming." Sammy Love bounced in his seat as his lips twisted into a mischievous smirk.
Chester rolled his eyes and huffed. His name might be Chester Charming, but he so didn't remember agreeing to be Prince Charming for some stupid costume party he didn't want to go to in the first place.
And yet, he was agreeing to it.
"I don't know how I let you talk me into this stuff. Yeah, Prince Charming is cool and all, but I don't know about the tights." He was going to look as if someone had tried to shove ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag.
"Oh, shush." Sammy made a flapping motion with his hand that kind of looked like he'd broken his wrist. "It's going to be fabulous. Besides, I think the sword more than makes up for the tights."
"It's made of rubber!"
“But a very convincing rubber.” He made another shushing sound and pressed his index finger to his lips before continuing. “And I will be a bandit.”
“A bandit?” Irwin Chance snorted. “What kind of bandit?”
“That’s not important, but believe me, it’ll be—”
“Fabulous?” Chester interjected. “Yeah, you said.” Sighing in defeat at Sammy’s enthusiastic smile, he focused his attention on Irwin. “What did you say you were going as?”
Irwin Chance straightened in his seat and cleared his throat. “Well, I was thinking that—”
“Oh, don’t worry.” The smile on Sammy’s face turned downright wicked. “I have the perfect costume for you!”
Irwin’s eyes rounded to the size of saucers, and he shook his head vehemently. “No.”
“It will be delivered the afternoon before the party.”
Swallowing hard enough to make his Adam’s apple bob along his slender throat, Irwin stared back at Sammy with an expression of abject horror. “What did you do?”
“It’s a surprise, but I promise, you’re going to love it.”
Yeah, Chester didn't think so. Letting Sammy choose his costume for the grand opening costume party at The Underground might not be Chester's smartest move. Granted, the guy had good taste, but Chester was a lot more comfortable blending into the scenery rather than being the center of attention, especially at a party thrown at the hottest new club in Nocturne Bay.
The club had opened near the harbor just the previous month, and so far, not many people in town seemed to know much about it. Rumors swirled, of course, mostly hearsay and third-hand accounts, but there were a few interesting facts everyone seemed to agree on. For starters, the place was supposedly high-end and catered exclusively to the gay paranormal population.
Working at the café, Ryo had heard all the gossip, especially about the club's mysterious owner, and he'd shared it with them. No one he'd spoken to had met or even set eyes on the new owner, Andre Vasso, in the months since he'd been in Nocturne Bay. For some reason, Ryo's customers found this most suspicious, but he didn't seem to share their concerns.
Chester was a little concerned.
"And what about you?" Sammy asked as he turned to look at Ryo. "What costume are you wearing?"
Ryo cleared his throat and sat up a little straighter in his seat as all eyes turned on him. "Well, I, uh, I figured I'd just—" He clamped his lips closed and casted his eyes around as if looking for an escape. "Can we talk about this later? I should really get back to work."
"You should go as Snow White," Irwin said conversationally, ignoring his excuse. "I mean, if Chester is going as Prince Charming, it only makes sense."
"Cinderella was with Prince Charming. Snow White's dude is just called 'The Prince'."
"What about Sleeping Beauty?" Chester asked, curious.
"Okay." Irwin shrugged. "Then, go as Cinderella."
"With that gorgeous blond hair?" Sammy scoffed. "No way. He should totally go as Rapunzel."
Chester could see that. Ryo had beautiful golden hair that reached all the way to his butt. He wouldn't even have to wear a wig. He reached up and touched his own short curls. He had sunlight blond hair, but it only went as far as his ears. If he tried to grow it any longer, he'd look like he stuck his fingers in a light socket.
"Why am I the only one wearing a dress?" Ryo asked.
"Uh, because you love that stuff?" Chester shot back. "Dresses, tiaras, glitter."
"Sparkles," Irwin corrected. "It doesn't have to be glitter. It just has to sparkle."
"Keep your voice down," Ryo hissed. "Look, I just don't think it's a good idea. That's all."
"Oh, come on!" Moving his cappuccino aside, Sammy leaned forward with his elbows resting on the tabletop. "It's a costume party. No one is going to care."
"I'll go as Prince Charming. That way, Chester doesn't have to wear tights. I don't even mind the fake sword."
"No way." Shifting back in his seat, Chester folded his arms over his chest and shook his head. "I've already called dibs."
Sort of, but damned if he was wearing a dress.
"You just said—"
Chester clenched his jaw. "Dibs."
“And besides, I already have your costume ready to go.” Casually, as if he hadn’t just sent Ryo to the verge of panic, Sammy took a sip of his drink. “You’ll get it at the same time as everyone else.”
“Wait, wait, wait.” Irwin scooted forward to the edge of his chair. “Why does everyone else get to know what costumes they’re wearing?”
Sammy shrugged. “Because you’d say no if I told you.”
“I’m saying no now!”
“Too late. It’s non-refundable.” Sammy cackled gleefully. “Oh, this is going to be so much fun.”
Well, that was one opinion, and judging by the expressions of everyone else at the table, not one they shared.
“Look, Sammy.” Pulling his hair over one shoulder, Ryo combed his fingers through the strands. “I really don’t—”
“Non-refundable,” Sammy repeated with another maniacal laugh. “Relax. I promise you won’t be the only one there in a dress.”
Turning, Irwin gave him a sympathetic smile. “No one will even look twice.”
“Oh, they’re definitely going to look twice.” There was a gleam in Sammy’s eyes that always meant he was up to no good. “In fact, they won’t be able to take their eyes off him.” He winged his elbow out to the side, catching Chester in the arm and causing him to spill his drink down the front of his heather-gray T-shirt. “Isn’t that right, Ches?”
“Don’t call me that.” Grabbing a paper napkin from the dispenser in the center of the table, he dabbed at the dark stains that spotted the cotton. “But as much as it pains me to say it, yes, you’re right.” He glanced up at Ryo. “Wear the dress, Ry.”
Irwin nodded, just one quick dip of his head. “Wear the dress. It’s a masquerade, a chance to be whatever you want to be.”
“Exactly!” Sammy banged his fist down on the table, making the mugs rattle in their saucers. “So, if you can be anything you want, why not be—”
“Fabulous!” they all chorused.
“Okay, I have everyone’s costumes almost ready,” Sammy declared. “I’ll have them sent to your houses the afternoon before the party.”
“Why so late?” Chester asked, looking at him suspiciously. “What do you have planned?”
He just knew it wasn't going to be good.
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