Vyan glared at his parents. “What do you mean, married? I don’t want to bloody get married! Not to some stranger!”
His mother gave him an impatient look. “He is no stranger, and I do not care if he were, you will do as you’re told. The crown prince himself has blessed the union. They are going to be here in ten minutes—”
“Ten minutes! Bollocks to that!” Vyan howled. “You could have given me more warning than that.”
Laughing, his father said, “So you could climb out your bedroom window and run off? I think not; if we’ve learned anything raising you, boy, it’s that fifteen minutes warning is the key.”
“I hate you,” Vyan said, feeling miserable. “I can’t marry whoever you are plaguing me with—I’m in love with someone else.”
His mother’s mouth twisted with distaste. “Oh, sweeting. That never lasts; it will go away with time. Marriage will be good for you.”
Vyan briefly contemplated dumping his tea on her, but if he soaked his mother in tea moments before company was due, she would put him in a monastery. Instead, he tried to distract himself. He thought about Minn’s smile, the way he tilted his head when he was thinking, the way he shook when he laughed. How he always smelled like soap and sunshine, how his hair flopped in his face while he snored in his sleep.
None of that would go away in time; he was in love with Minn and determined to make Minn see him as more than a friend—
But all his plans had gone quite neatly to hell if he was getting dragged to an altar to marry some starchy bastard on the royal prince’s command. Balls to that! He didn’t care who the bastard was, he wasn’t Minn, so he wasn’t doing it!
He stood, determined to flee; he would take down every footman his father put in his path if that was what it took—but then he heard the front door open, and their stuffy butler’s familiar tread as he lead the guests to the yellow room where Vyan was currently being held prisoner.
Stupid color, yellow. The color of his mother’s favorite gown, and apparently the color of his doom. He raked a hand through his hair, ignoring his mother’s disapproving frown. He’d had plans today, damn it all. He and Minn were going riding in the park, then to their club, then to the theatre, a late supper, and by that point he’d had high hopes for riding of an entirely different nature.
Fine. Make nice with the man he was never going to marry, then flee to the safety of Minn’s presence and convince him to elope. He looked up with a forced smile on his face—and froze as he saw Minn’s parents, followed by his rather stunned looking best friend. “Minn?”
“Vyan,” Minn greeted. “Apparently we are to marry; tell them we are not having any of it.”
The brief burst of elation that had washed over Vyan went out like a candle dropped in a bucket of water. They weren’t having any of it? Well, bugger that. Giving in to one of the impulses that got him in trouble so often in life, Vyan grabbed Minn’s wrist and bolted from the room.
He did not stop running until they were upstairs in his room and the door was locked. “I’m going to murder whoever is responsible for this,” Minn said.
Vyan scowled. “I do admit I would have rather liked more say in the matter; it all seems rather abrupt. My parents said something about the crown prince sanctioning it, or some rot.”
Minn made a face. “It’s preposterous, us getting married!”
“I’m not that bad!” Vyan snapped. “I admit this is sudden, but come on, you could be stuck with worse me. At least we’re best mates; you could be stuck with a bloody stranger.”
“You seem awfully content to just do as you’re told for someone who told me any number of nights that he was only going to marry the man he loved and bugger all what his parents wanted!” Minn snarled right back. “So now you’re all obedient to the whims and wants of your parents? What of this man you supposedly loved, then?”
Vyan did not even remember moving, just felt that last little thread of his control snap—and then all he felt was Minn’s soft hair against his fingers, the taste of tea and cinnamon pastry in Minn’s mouth. When he finally forced himself to break the kiss, Vyan replied, “I’m not arguing with them because it would seem I’m getting exactly what I wanted.”
Minn stared at him, flushed and mussed and beautiful. He licked his well-kissed lips, then smiled in a way Vyan hadn’t ever seen before but liked immensely. “Well, that’s all right then, isn’t it?” he said, and yanked Vyan back for another kiss.