The Lost Prince
Book Two of Two
This is the second book of Laurie and Sasha's story.
Book One is A Midwinter Prince.
Laurie and Sasha have built a bright new world together. Sasha is working for the Immigration Guidance Council, and Laurie is landing theatre roles he could once only have dreamed of. Best of all, they've spent the past two years enjoying the love they snatched from the jaws of Sasha's violent, dangerous past.
But Laurie has a history too. He's on edge, his talents increasing beyond his ability to deal with them. And although his father is dead, Laurie can't deny the turbulent genetic heritage the old man has bestowed on him. Only Sasha's love is keeping him anchored and sane – and Sasha is vulnerable, shaken by bad dreams about his life on the streets.
Then Laurie learns that Sasha's Romanian gang-lord father is on the loose in London, and his deepest fears boil to the surface. The last time Stefan's shadow fell, Sasha made a run for it, and Laurie can't bear the thought of losing him again. When Laurie lands a part in the latest Hollywood blockbuster, he abandons England for a dream of safety in the States, persuading the astonished Sasha to come with him.
But the dream becomes a waking nightmare for both of them beneath an alien Californian sun. Laurie must meet his demons head-on, and Sasha must confront the inner barricades that have kept him from treating Laurie as a comrade as well as a lover and a friend. The frosts of a midwinter London brought them together – will this blazing summer crack them apart, or forge enduring love from first romance?
Laurie sat and watched his lover stretched out on the rack of his dreams. They had started in the small hours, and Laurie, by prior agreement, had got out of bed and taken up position in a chair on the far side of the room.
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. He pressed his fingers to his lips. That way he stood a better chance of keeping quiet when Sasha’s next low wail of anguish filled the air. Better still if he didn’t look. He tried closing his eyes, but that was no good – his imagination promptly filled the gap with worse than what was there. He turned his attention to the bedroom walls. Not much to distract him there, though. He and Sash had been so overwhelmed by the high ceiling and elegant Regency panelling that the posters and newspaper cuttings they’d cheerfully plastered over their room in their previous flat had remained in a box beneath the bed. Of course Laurie knew what a wealthy man’s bedroom might look like – and they were pretty well off now; by Sasha’s standards absolutely loaded – and he could have chosen paintings, mirrors, signs of their new standing. But that was all they would have been. Symbols, a meaningless surface layer he’d learned from –
“Mira kumpania! Mira kumpania... pahome, san pahome!”
Help them! My friends, they’re cold. Frozen. Laurie hadn’t learned much Roma but the vocab of Sasha’s nightmares was concise. By now Laurie could understand container ship, and cold, and dying. He clamped his hands to the arms of the chair. In their wide bed, one thing he and Sasha had been able to choose with unhesitating pleasure, grinning at the showroom assistant and testing the springs, Sasha struggled over onto his front to silence a howl.
Laurie got up. He knew the words for no, too, and please. Sasha swiped one pillow off the bed and seized the other. Lean muscles stood up in cords across his shoulders. He was naked to the waist, his velvety cap of black hair damping into spikes. Please. No. No!
Deliberately Laurie unclenched his fists and sat down again. He would obey his orders, even though a copper taste was filling his mouth and his stomach was shifting uneasily around his nice Thai meal, shared cold but ravenously straight out of the boxes on their kitchen table. He trusted Sasha’s doctor. Don’t disturb him, Laurence. His subconscious has to deal with it. Let him dream it out.
That was fine for Dr Matthews, who didn’t have to be here listening. Still, Laurie trusted her – had to, having no ideas of his own on how to deal with this. You mustn’t touch him. Definitely don’t wake him up.
Sasha woke himself with a raw yell. He shoved upright in the bed and twisted round, arms flailing empty air. “Laurie!”
Laurie leapt up so hard he knocked the chair over behind him. He shot across the room – too big, too bloody vacant – and scrambled onto the bed. He wasn’t good at languages and attempts at Roma sounded awkward on his tongue but he gave back Sasha’s oldest endearment to him, hauling the sweat-soaked body into his arms. “Ves’tacha! I’m here, I’m here.”
“Oh, Laurie... What the fuck...”
“You were dreaming again. Talk to me about it. Please.”
“No! I mean... I can’t. I don’t remember.”
That was a lie. Laurie, who knew all his sounds of truth, felt it like a cold blade pressing between them. Clutching him bruisingly tight, he let it go. The doctor had said that if Sasha would talk, put the nightmares outside of himself into words, that would be half the battle. But Laurie was starting to fear they had only just started this war. For a year they’d lived peacefully, crushed together in Laurie’s dreadful bedsit overlooking the Birchwood railway lines. Something to do with moving here had triggered the bad dreams. They’d been an occasional trouble at first, then had begun to invade Sasha’s sleep almost every night, worsening until Laurie had sidestepped their ineffectual GP and taken Sash to one of the doctors his mother had used to see. Dr Matthews had been gentle with poor disoriented Marielle, and was sensible and kind with Sasha too. Remember he’s been a refugee. You can’t change his past. Just give him a safe place now.
Well, Laurie had. He fought against baffled rage. What did he have to do, to look after his lover and his home? He’d worked because he adored his career but also because each new role meant a better, safer world for Sash. For Clara too, when she was with them. He sat on the bed, watching the restless wash of leaf-shadow on the bare wall. A summer wind was blowing in the city streets tonight. The sound of it blended with Sasha’s ragged breathing. He was becoming limp and heavy in Laurie’s arms, dropping back into sleep with his secrets and stories untold.
Laurie eased him down onto the mattress. He stretched out beside him and lay wide-eyed. Sasha even smelled different after these horrific dreams, a tang of fear overlaying the warm, contented musk that wrapped them both round after sex. They’d gone for it again after their shared meal and a bath, putting Sinbad aside in favour of a slow, sweet fuck...
Slow enough and deep enough, Laurie had thought, to tip Sasha over into unassailable peace. Laurie had taken his time, the desperate edge taken off him by their tussle on the stairs. He’d knelt between Sasha’s thighs and thrust into him until Sash had been lost in it, writhing, clutching the bars of the headboard. They’d stared into one another’s eyes for every stroke, and Laurie could have sworn he was looking through star-filled galactic distances to the core of Sasha’s soul.
But nothing was certain. He held Sash close. The wind continued to lash the shadows on the wall, and after half an hour, the nightmares started again.