First things first, I’d like to thank Jana for having me! It is very much appreciated!
I’d like to introduce my boys from Deception, Cyrus and Nadir. If you’ve read Choices, you’ll recognize them. They were friends of Teman in the slaves’ wing. These two boys just insisted that I write their story and before long, I was half way through their story.
Without further ado, Cyrus and Nadir!
Hello Cyrus, Nadir! Welcome and thanks for taking time to talk to me.
Cyrus: Of course. We’re happy to do it.
So, I’d like to just ask a few questions, though I promise they won’t be easy. *grin*
*Cyrus and Nadir both laugh*
Nadir: Nothing worth doing is easy, isn’t that right, Cyrus?
Cyrus: Indeed, my love.
*laughs* No, no it isn’t. You both have been in the palace a long time, now, haven’t you? They both nod. And I have to wonder, how long might it have taken for you to realize you love each other if you hadn’t gotten caught?
Nadir: Wow. Um… *Nadir looks at Cyrus* Well, the truth is, I think I knew I always loved him. I mean… I always loved him and I was starting to understand that when we got caught. I think I would have figured it out before he did. See, I remember my parents.
Cyrus: I don’t.
Nadir: And I remember my parents actually being in love. That… wasn’t a common thing, still isn’t, I guess, for people to marry for love, even at my parents’ station. It happened, of course, but not often. Anyway, I remember them, always kissing, these… looks… they gave each other.
Cyrus: Whereas I didn’t have much in the way of an example of love. So I was completely clueless.
Nadir: I think we would have eventually, but I’d have bet it would have been another few years, at least. Unless Cyrus tried to propose to another horse and actually called it by my name.
*Cyrus rolls his eyes and they both laugh.*
That sounds like a story for later. I might have to get that from you. *Nadir laughs and Cyrus scowls* So, you were both fighters before you came to the palace. What prompted that and where did you learn your fighting skills?
Cyrus: Hunger. I know that sounds a little simple, but truthfully, that’s what sparked a lot of our decisions back then.
*Nadir nods.* Indeed. We’ve…done a lot of things in the name of hunger, but the one that we seemed to excel at was fighting. As for how… well, to be honest? Getting hurt. A lot. Watching and studying our opponents—and there were many of them.
Cyrus: When it’s kill or be killed, you figure out how to be the one to kill.
Indeed. So, then, what was the worst thing about growing up in the streets?
*Nadir frowns.* We’re repeating ourselves a bit, I realize, but… hunger. We didn’t like the idea of having to steal and commit crimes to simply survive.
Cyrus: The cold. I mean, the hunger wasn’t good or anything. But the desert nights get really bad. And when our clothes got tattered, when we ran out of money for inn rooms…
Nadir: It got really miserable. *Nadir chuckles and smiles.* I think it was during a few of those nights, we huddled in an out of the way corner together for warmth. And I think it was during one of those nights that I started to realize what I felt for Cyrus. I didn’t want him to let go.
*Cyrus smiles and leans in to kiss Nadir’s temple.* I remember a few of those nights. Knowing what I do now, well, I felt the same way. I just—
Nadir: Didn’t understand it, yes.
So, you got to the palace and I am guessing that, despite where you ended up—in the slaves’ wing—you could have met much worse fates. Is there anything you miss by being bound to the palace?
Cyrus: Not… really? Back before Bathasar, there were things—open air, riding a horse, visiting a pub. But now that he is malik, if there is something like that that we really want, he will happily give it. Despite the fact that we are, technically, still slaves, I doubt that Bathasar would keep us in the palace if we really didn’t want to stay. But we do, for a number of reasons.
I can believe that. Well, then, what’s your favorite aspect of palace life?
*Nadir smirks*. For Cyrus, it is the food.
Cyrus: It is not! *laughs* Okay, the food is part of it. Knowing that we will never again go hungry went a long way toward keeping us from wanting to leave when we’d been caught.
Nadir: Yes, that is true. We also knew we belonged there. For me, now that I am used to them again, I love the clothes we are provided. I doubt we could have ever afforded anything nearly as nice. But in the end, we are warm, safe, fed, clothed… and we have friends that we love, what more could we ask for?
What, indeed? I’d like to ask you about those friends. For Nadir: what is it about Bathasar that makes it so easy to love him? And for Cyrus, the same question, but about Teman?
*Nadir blushes.* He is… unusual. His father was the exact opposite of him, selfish, mean, horrible man that the former malik was. But Bathasar is very humble, very generous, sometimes to a fault, I think. But… he loves with everything he is and I think you want to return that love, give back to someone who gives so much. *Nadir looks at Cyrus.*
Cyrus: Teman… Teman is a contradiction. He is a very strong, agile, capable fighter and intelligent man. He could kill you without any real effort on his part then read the Latin and Greek versions of Beowulf to you. And yet, there is a part of him—a very big part—that craves reassurance, praise and love. He has a very deep need to give, to do for, other people, especially those he loves. And I’ve been drawn to that, wanting to give him all of that and when you do, it’s very easy to put your heart with it.
Well, I can very easily see why you love them. I have to ask, have you both really found a way to be comfortable with all of that? Cyrus: with Nadir loving Bathasar? And Nadir: with Cyrus loving Teman? Do you feel you can do that and still love each other, in the end?
Both answer: Absolutely. *Both nod.*
Nadir: If we learned one thing through our time with Bathasar and Teman, it’s that we have a huge capacity to love, not just one person but a lot of people. There are many types of love and many different levels within those types.
Cyrus: It’s true. I love Nadir, I will always love Nadir. I’ve loved him since before I know what love was. And I could never walk away from him, turn my back on him, give him up. And yet, I do love Teman, want to see him happy, love to spend time with him and I think that we have the ability to do that much more than most people believe.
What a lovely answer. Alright, then, one more question, this one for fun, then I’ll let you get back to your duties. You must answer for the other, here, okay? *They nod.* What is the one spot on your lover that drives him crazy?
*Both laugh.* Cyrus, grinning: Oh my, Nadir has many, actually. There’s a spot on his neck that never fails to draw sound. In fact, he has identical ones on either side of his neck and Bathasar and I attack them at the same time sometimes. He gives this loud, amazing moan when we do.
*Nadir blushes bright red.* Nadir: Cyrus! *He sighs.* Well, Cyrus has sensitive… knees. *laughs* Yes. Right here. *Nadir points to the back of on knee.* Teman and I will go after one each and Bathasar will hold him down. He has to beg us to stop. *Nadir leans forward.* And we can make him so crazy that he is dripping when we finish. Just from his knees.
*Cyrus is bright red* I deserved that, didn’t I?
Nadir: Indeed. *grin*
*laughs* You two are great together. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!
Nadir: You’re very welcome.
Cyrus and Nadir first met as hungry orphans on Behekam’s streets at twelve years old. They became friends, then partners in the thievery that enabled them to survive, and as they passed their days together, they fell in love. When they are both taken as pleasure slaves in the opulent palace of the Malik of Neyem, love becomes more complicated.
Rumors of an attempt on Malik Bathasar's life put Cyrus and Nadir's relationship to the test—they must pose convincingly as intimate slaves to the young malik as part of a plan to lure the assassin into the open. Teman—Malik Bathasar’s real personal pleasure slave and true lover—was once trained by Cyrus for the same duties, and the attraction and care Cyrus developed for him then still remains. The Malik of Neyem proves an easy man to love and Nadir’s feelings for him grow while they’re pretending to love each other.
Cyrus and Nadir care deeply for each other but they’ve forgotten the first rule of love: communicate in honesty. Their love remains strong enough to weather the changes—if they have the courage not only to face the coming dangers, but to put aside deception and find their truth.
For more from Grace R. Duncan, visit http://www.grace-duncan.com
To purchace Deception, download the free short Coronation or start from the beginning with Bathasar and Teman in Choices, check out the Golden Collar series at Dreamspinner press here