Princely Love

by Flaulus

Chapter 10

It seemed the doctor was right. Seb was an excited teenager as he was led to the helicopter for his first flight. Jim was just as excited as they explored the lodge, while Conrad was happy to stand watch as they took their first riding lesson. It was a full, cheerfully busy day, not even dampened when they inspected the hastily set up classroom complete with a video link to school. They were tired as they prepared for bed, but Jim and Conrad were happy enough for Jim to be lying on his back, his erect cock already entering Conrad who was straddling him when Seb entered the room.

"Sorry." He gasped as he tried edging back through the door, but Jim had seen him. At fifteen, Jim was not as worldly-wise as he thought and being caught was enough to deflate him. Conrad was more at ease and managed: 'It's OK, Seb. Come in', as he wriggled round to sit on the side of the bed.

"Sorry." Seb said again, "It's my bedroom. It's so dark and quiet. Sorry."

"It's OK." Conrad said, "Come and join us. Do you want to sleep with us tonight?"

"Yes please. Er. I don't want to do anything."

"Just go back to your room in the morning and leave us alone for a while. We'd better find our pyjamas."

"Oh! I'm wearing mine. What do I do?"

Seb had been dozing, but memories of ordeal had panicked him. He was still upset and confused when he rushed to their bedroom. Now, he was feeling embarrassed which added to his confusion.

Conrad and Jim knew there was something wrong, but were not sure what to do, but Conrad held out his hand to Seb and guided him to the bed. They settled with Seb lying between Conrad and Jim.

"We were cycling along and this van came past and swung in front of us. Men in masks grabbed us, tied our hands and put bags over our heads. I thought I saw Jamie struggle, and I heard him scream as I was pushed into a cage. I heard noises and Jamie groaning but that was all. The van started up, and we drove, but I don't know how long. It seemed to be forever. When we stopped, I felt the cage moving and then put down. I was dragged out and held up, but no-one spoke. I felt them pulling my clothes off, and I think they used a knife to cut some. Then I was put back in the cage, and left. I hadn't seen anything since I was grabbed, and I couldn't hear anything. It was so scary. The only time something happened was when someone lifted the bag enough to push a water bottle into my mouth. I had no choice; I had to drink. They shoved a bucket between my legs and told me to piss and all I saw were bare feet and legs. Oh, yes. There was a chain between their ankles. That's all I heard or saw until the police arrived. I know Jamie's dead, but they won't tell me what happened."

Seb was trembling and close to tears. Unsure what to do, Conrad and Jim held his hands.

"You must miss him." Conrad said.

"Some. He was there when I came out. We didn't really hit it off, but he was so glad to be away from his Dad."

That morning, Inspector Murry attended a briefing.

"It's still too early to say for certain, but the therapy camps were just a front to procure kids." CS Lockerby said, "Parents were interviewed, but the questions seemed to revolve how much they wanted to get rid of an embarrassment. Rebellious kids refusing to accept a new step-parent was one example. A few parents honestly thought they were saving their kids from Hell and if they were rich enough, the kids were processed. Young Seb was beginning the process: complete isolation and sensory deprivation. The poor kid must have been terrified knowing he had been kidnapped, and not even knowing why. Jamie was in a different category. We think his father had been approached for a ransom or a fee for treatment. He had refused, so the boy was used in a snuff movie, and a couple of my colleagues threw up when they saw it. Believe me! You don't need the details."

"I do need to know how they thought they'd get away kidnapping such a high profile kid like Sebastian." Inspector Murry said.

"Greed and over confidence!" CS Lockerby said, "The father hadn't mentioned Walker's celebrity status, and they only found out when it was on the news. They hadn't even bothered to check who had custody. The tricky bit for you is the MPs and top civil servants who appear in their files. Some are customers, but others may have been involved. It seems to be all parties and random. You could say they're a cross-section of society. Walker might be at risk if they think he's a key witness, but he doesn't have that much to contribute because he didn't see anything."

"It was Richard Courtney who made a statement as Home Secretary.

"The investigation is in its early stages, but I can confirm we have uncovered a child prostitution ring of the most vile kind. The majority of the police, politicians and members of the public are as horrified as I am, but I can also confirm that a small minority are becoming persons-of-interest. Normally the location of a key witness is confidential, but I can confirm Sebastian Walker is in the care of the royal family. It could be interpreted as the royal family becoming involved in state business, but he has the highest protection we can offer."

As he sat down, the shadow Home Secretary stood. "We are willing to see school friends helping a fellow student out. Indeed, given His Royal Highness's reputation as a prince of the people, we suspect it would be difficult to stop him. Our bigger concern is the Home Office's tendency to ignore Human Rights and cut corners to obtain convictions. While we do not wish to hamper proper inquiries, we will be monitoring them closely."

Business as usual, Inspector Murry thought when he heard the speeches, but he was on his way to talk to the boys.

"If it was a film, how come Jamie was killed so quickly?" Conrad asked, "Don't they have to be planned or anything?"

" For porn, y ou just stick cameras around a bed and add lights. I t can be sloppy with equipment appearing on screen, but it doesn't need much preparation . Jamie wasn't on a bed, but he was held securely, so the view was still pretty static. The other reason is: Jamie was fresh meat. He had a cut to his head, but he was lucid. His reactions were … I'll say, natural. He wasn't drugged to control him, and he wasn't institutionalized and accepting."

Luckily Conrad accepted his answer, so the Inspector did not have to explain Jamie was at the peak of his terror and screamed louder. Even so, Seb shuddered murmuring, "Poor Jamie."

Security at the lodge was a nightmare. At weekends visitors arrived, and some had to stay in a hotel in the village while the boys insisted on going out as they had always done. Seb enjoyed horse riding, wanted to try skiing, and it was all therapy. He slept in his own bed except when the nightmares came, but he learnt to keep a light on so his visits to Jim and Conrad's room became rarer. Seb's mother visited as often as she could while Billy and Sven stayed every weekend. The main thing everyone noticed was Seb was always restless, unable to settle for than a few minutes until he had worn himself out. The guards understood why he went for long walks and unusually for them, he preferred walking between two familiar faces instead of them trailing discreetly behind.

I t was on one of those walks, one morning after it been snowing overnight they rounded a corner, and a snowball landed squarely on one of the bodyguard's chest. Instinctively the guard's hands reached for their guns while Seb turned white, but they took in two boys, one about seventeen, the other thirteen laughing and playing in the snow. The older one looked up, saw them and hurried over.

"Sorry about that," he said, "My brother's a rotten shot."

Seb's emotions were volatile, he could go from terror to elation in seconds.

"That's OK," he said. "They're supposed to take a bullet for me. I guess snowballs count."

"You're Sebastian Walker aren't you? At least you look like him. I'm sorry if we scared you."

"You did a bit. I don't like surprises in the street."

" Do you want to come in for a drink while you calm down?"

"Dave means he wants to talk to you because he reckons you're hot." the younger boy giggled.

"Oh!" Seb gasped, "All three of us? These guys put up with a lot from us, so I don't want to leave them in the cold."

"No probs." Dave replied, "Mum'll make us all cocoa."

Dave's mother was a kindly no-nonsense person and no-one doubted she ran the home.

"You two men can sit in the kitchen while I get on with lunch. Dave, you and Sebastian don't want to sit here listening to us gossiping so go up to your room. Tim, have you tidied your room yet?"

"How come your Mum sent us up here?" Sebastian asked.

"She doesn't like people in her kitchen and Dad will be in soon. When he does get in, he'll take the two guys into the living room. Why?"

"I'm gay, and your brother said you were. Sorry. I still get a bit nervous."

"I'm harmless." Dave laughed, "I collect stamps, and I'm into electronics. I've got a workshop in the cellar, and I play football. I ski but everyone does round here. It's a way of getting around. Oh yes, I read about what happened to you, and I'm sorry about your boyfriend. I'm not going to try to take over from him."

"Jamie was not really my boyfriend. We got on, but he wanted to get back to his old life, and was just slumming it with us. His mother had found a small flat, and he seemed happy when we visited, but it was still beneath him. Being friends with Conrad was more his style."

"His Royal Highness." Dave chuckled, "It's OK, but a lot of the locals work on the Tolberg estate. Others do well out of tourists visiting the area. It's not law or anything but people can get a lot of grief if they're not respectful."

"Do you work on the estate?" Seb asked.

"No, I want to go to university when I leave school." Dave replied, then laughed, "I've just realized why Mum sent us up here. She knows I need help making a video presentation, and you're in films."

"OK, but I don't know much about it. I just chat to reporters."

"Yeah, but you seem so natural. How do you do it? I sound like a nerd reading a script."

"I like drama, and I just do it. Hang on."

Seb picked up his phone and made a call. "Conrad, did you ever have lessons in public speaking?"

"Good. I'm talking to this guy who needs to make a presentation for university. I just do it, but could you pass on some of those lessons?"

"My tracker is on. Just follow it."

As he hung up Seb said to Dave, "We'll go outside and wait for them."

Dave stared wide-eyed and nodded. Seb felt warm, comfortable and safe with Dave. He also had a project to occupy his mind and so, his mind was dwelling on future possibilities and not the past. As a local guide, Dave had established an easy rapport with wealthy visitors so dealing with Seb had been easy, but a weekend job was not enough to let him deal with the Lodge.

Conrad had noticed how Seb sounded happier and more confident, more like his old self. Whatever Seb was doing, was good for him. It was also a break in routine, so he and Jim were soon on their way. Dave's mother was too busy to notice a car draw up, a quick conversation between the bodyguards, but she did notice two more boys and the whole gang heading for the cellar. She did notice how young the newcomers were, but they had adults hovering around, so it must be all right.

Everyone waited for Seb's reaction to be in a cellar again, but he was unconcerned. When he was in the cage, he could have been in an open field. It was the cage, and the covering that had isolated him. His first view of the cellar was while he was being rescued, so he had positive associations.

Instead, he stared, impressed with Dave's workspace. Seb did not understand why Dave needed three computer screens, but the wall of containers, full of electrical components, and a metal work top with soldering irons various small tools and meters was business like.

On the floor was a weird looking contraption: two beams at right angles on top of which was mounted circuit boards and underneath long spindly legs hinged in the middle. They were folded, and the whole thing sat on the floor.

As Dave sat at his bench working a keyboard, so the screens came to life and small LED lights on the contraption lit up. Motors whirred, and the contraption rose as the legs straightened. Seb watched as two legs folded a little leaving the contraption balanced on the other two. Dave nudged it but instead of toppling, it steadied itself.

"It's a walker, but there's nothing really new or original," Dave said, "It's for planetary exploration. Wheeled vehicles can't climb too well, but two legged animals can. As I can afford the parts and develop the software I want it to walk and climb. Other people are doing the same work, but it's all in development, and I haven't got it to walk, yet. Dad says the legs are too far apart to balance."

"It still looks good. What's the problem?"

"This." Dave replied as he switched on a video.

The camera was shaky and switched between Dave, not always his face and equally erratic shots of the walker. Dave was distracted, and his talk was stilted and awkward.

"Timmy tries to help, but I have to stop and give directions, and it just doesn't work."

"The background is full of shit." Seb said, "And you need a script. Read the script to the camera, film the walker doing its stuff then cut from you to shots of the walker but keep your talk going as a voice-over. What?"

The others were staring at him, impressed, so he continued, "I want to do media studies, so I've looked at stuff online, and I've tried a couple video projects in Drama Club. Is there a press room at Tolberg?"

Conrad nodded, "Do you want to use it?"

"If we can. Acoustics and lighting would be better."

"If your friends are staying for lunch then it's time to get washed up. If not, it's time for them to go." Dave's mother called down.

"Do you want to stay?" Dave asked, "I mean, I suppose Your Royal … I mean …" Dave trailed off, uncertainly.

"I'd make your mother very uncomfortable if I have that effect on you." Conrad said, "Jim and I'll go. You stay Seb and take Dave up to the lodge after."

"A republican could get lynched round here." Conrad chuckled as they settled in the car, "I'm glad we managed to call out goodbye, or I'd have given her a heart attack. Still, Seb seems happy."

"Do you reckon there's anything between them?" Jim asked, "I mean, Dave's so much older."

"Brian." Conrad said to one of the bodyguards, "Do you know anything about this PTSD thing. Seb's been so quiet then suddenly he couldn't shut up."

"I wasn't with you, so I don't know. Could he have a crush? You know a rebound from Jamie?"

"That could be bad, couldn't it?" Conrad said.

"It depends. Just keep an eye on him, and see how it goes."

"OK! They're the Hamptons aren't they? Mr. Hampton is restoring furniture at the lodge. I've talked to him and, he seems OK."

"Be careful though. You'll never be just Conrad here, Your Royal Highness."

"Brian, His Royal Highness commands you to take your two nephews out to lunch." Conrad said, "How about it? We'll be less conspicuous if you sit with us."

"It's against regulations." The driver said, "We're not supposed to get involved in your lives."

"That's OK, Corey." Brian said, "You can join us, and we'll look like a couple of sugar daddies taking their toy boys out. How about it, sir?"

"Conrad, please. It's just a thought, but don't sugar daddies buy their kids sexy swimwear and underwear?"

"And some like to spank them if they get too cheeky." Brian retorted, "Don't look so shocked, Corey. Blending in makes him less of a target, so it's not such a bad idea. We just make sure we sit, so we cover the entrances."

Lunch proved to be a pleasant affair. As always a few of the customers took discreet pictures and stared while trying not to be seen, but even Jim was used to it by now. At one point the conversation turned to Prince Bartholomew.

"He had the same sense of fun you have." Brian said, "Then he started drinking and sneaking off to buy drugs. Looking after him became a nightmare."

"I know." Conrad said, "Looking back, Brookdales had lost it, and drugs and booze seemed like an initiation thing."

" I think Brookdales was beginning t o struggle and couldn't afford to upset wealthy students." Brian said, "It's not my place to say so, but you did the right thing changing schools."

"And it was all b ecause Jim fell off his bike." Conrad chuckled.

" I might apply for a transfer when you're old enough to vi sit gay clubs, but f o r now, I enjoy minding yo u."

" That sounds a bit anti-gay ."

"No, I wasn't being anti-gay, but it would be outside my comfort zone."

"It's a pity about the pool team. They've lost three players." Conrad said.

"They'll get by and there's the Christmas break. I take it we'll be back ready for school next term. It's not my business but do you have any official duties over the holiday?"

"Dad's suggested the Mayor's gala. The lodge gets an invitation out of courtesy but never goes. How about it, Jim. Should we go?"

Jim glanced around. They were the centre of attention, and he felt exposed. Being a public figure was still the worst part of his friendship with Conrad, but it was getting easier.

"OK!" He replied, "But what are the chances of it going smoothly for once?"

"Probably zero." Conrad laughed, "RNN will be disgusted by us flaunting our depravity and Adrian Chapman will want to do a piece on Christmas without parents. What about church on Christmas Day? Mum and Dad will get most of the press, but we could still go. Brian, could you do something, please? What's the local pastor like: is he tolerant or hell and damnation?"

"I'll ask around." Brian said, "You could also go to some of the local youth matches. You don't have to do it all, but it's just places you and Jim could be seen."

"Seb is supposed to be resting., but do you think he'd do the press releases?"

"You can ask." Brian replied, "For now, it's time to settle the bill and for Corey and me to get back to being bodyguards."

"No, let's stay as a group and go ice-skating. How about it, Jim?"

"What about Seb?" Jim asked.

"We've warned the staff. Leave him and Dave in peace."

Jim nodded, "Ice skating then. Are you two oldies any good?"

Even if they seemed relaxed, Jim noticed the bodyguard's eyes were rarely still. They were still alert, but Jim was always uneasy knowing they were being followed by bodyguards. Role-play as in uncle/nephew or even sugar-daddy/toy-boy was more natural, and Jim was sure fewer people took any notice of the group.

Brian agreed, looking at other family groups. Since the trip was spontaneous, no-one could organize a serious attack, so any problem would be opportunist, and they would be on the ice and not just looking on. Whatever the reasoning, adults were in control so Jim and Conrad could be teens, and they all had fun.

"Are they your kids?" A father asked Corey while he rested.

"No, we're just looking after them for the day." Corey replied.

"So what is your relationship then?" The father asked, "They're getting friendly with my boy, so I'm just asking."

"We're bodyguards, and they're Prince Conrad with his boyfriend Jim."

"I was just asking. There's no need to be sarcastic like that." The father said as he stomped off.

Conrad was a good skater and had helped the boy up after he had fallen. With Jim being fairly inexperienced, the three skated together while Conrad gave tips.

"I'm Ethan." The boy said, "You look like Prince Conrad and Jim Poulson."

"Yeah, we get that a lot." Conrad said.

"You're not though. They would have closed the rink for them."

"If they recognized him, it might still happen." Conrad said, grinning.

Ethan looked at him and stumbled. Conrad grabbed his arm and held him.

"Try not to pull your future king over." Conrad chuckled, "Better still. Try that turn again."

Ethan grinned and complied, and they continued skating together.

"It's a pity Mum wanted to go shopping. It's supposed to be a family holiday, but Mum wants to show off where they've been and Dad wants to get to the bar. I'd rather be home. At least I could hang with my friends and see my girlfriend. The locals don't like tourists much."

"They should." Conrad said, "I know what you mean though. I've tried being friendly, but it's hard going."

"Surely it's easy for you." Ethan said.

"No. Tolberg is a royal residence and that makes the village special, so they can't forget I'm the prince. If I challenged a local to a race, they'd try to figure whether it was their duty to lose or try to win."

They were content to skate; Jim and Ethan to get used to being on skates while Conrad enjoyed being the expert. Brian was content to take the odd turn around the rink while Corey listened to the music and impressed everyone with his dance manoeuvres. Like all modern teenagers, towards the end of the session, the boys swapped phone numbers.

"It's a bit risky." Brian said, later, "Your number's still a saleable commodity."

"It's been changed for this month." Conrad said, "But I said it wouldn't work after the holiday, but why not? The press are pretty good about our privacy, and not even RNN want to stir things for now."

"The family's checking out so there's no problem our end. Just be careful." Brian said.

The weekend was promising to be hectic. School was finishing, and their school friends were visiting as well as Jim's father and Seb's mother. They would stay over Christmas.

"Too much has happened this year, Conrad." King Constantine said, "Protocol says you should stay away in case someone blows up the palace. We're running short of heirs, and your Uncle Raphael is now second-in-line. Honestly, I'd rather invite him, so we can all get blown up together and give you a clear run. By all means invite your friends and have fun, but invite parents as well for a bit of supervision: and Conrad, you want to be egalitarian so be a child and do as the adults tell you. I love you and I'm proud of you."

"I'd be happy for Billy to stay over Christmas." Mr. Taverner said, "Money's still tight, and I always seem to be saying I can't afford something. Let's face it, Christmas dinner will go further if we only have two mouths to feed. We'd love to visit after and see him off to the ball."

"It's funny how things change." Sven's father said, "If I'm asked why I want time off, I've only got to say: 'I can't say'. Sven can stay for as long as you'll have him. We'll book a hotel in the village and Sven can visit us for Christmas dinner."

"Adele's father isn't happy we're staying together." Craig said, "I think he's had long conversations with Seb's mother, and our rooms are going to be miles apart. Still, we've managed a weekend here, and it'll be good to hook up with Jim again."

"Mum and Dad didn't believe who you are and wondered who the adults are." Ethan said, "You sure it's all right for me to visit?"

"Somehow I was expecting a romantic hideaway with just the two of us." Jim said, as they settled down for the night.

"Sorry. I guess I'm working." Conrad replied, "Dad's worried there really is some sort of plot going on, and we need to beat it. It doesn't sound like much, but there're pictures of us skating. The thing is, they say how we were at a public session, not stopping others from using it, and mention how we helped Ethan. Are you OK with it?"

Jim nodded.

"Dad mentions me doing a few official visits but nothing happens, but I reckon this social media stuff is just as good. He's also worried about Barty and how he seems to be aligning himself to, er, RNN's friends. We're going to have more trouble."

Conrad was right. Richard Courtney was furious. He should have been nominated the interim president by now, but a bunch of kids was blocking him. With Barty arrested and Conrad a queer, the family should be finished. A few setbacks were to be expected. Young Jamie Hammerstein had proved too flaky to implicate Conrad and the king in the corruption scandal, and who would have thought a poofter would dislike raves. With so many opportunities, who would have expected it all to go so badly. The media was happily speculating as to how Conrad would react to the kidnapping of Seb and the murder of Jamie, yet still, he was not reverting to type. He was not hiding, neither was he demanding more security. Instead, he still mixed with the masses, and still refused to accept the logic of distant and firm leadership.

Even worse for Richard Courtney, Conrad was becoming more popular: a pin-up for both boys and girls, sporty, and a reputation for standing by his friends. Jamie and Seb's ordeal had increased sympathy for him, and Seb was becoming a celebrity in his own right.

Somehow, instead of preparing to rule, Richard Courtney found his plans failing at the hands of a degenerate brat. So what were his options. Open rebellion was out of the question, he'd need the army, but it seemed to be taken in by Conrad's loyalty to friends and his sportiness. He would need international recognition, and he was unlikely to get it. What was left? Raphael? The king's younger, stupider brother; always agreeing with the last speaker and unable to form an opinion for himself. Richard Courtney was pragmatic; if he could not rule directly, he would be content to be the power behind the throne.

Although the thought made him sick to the stomach, he had to be seen supporting Prince Conrad and his hangers-on. The press was too full of the paedophile ring and murderers to do anything else. He had to be seen as the Home Secretary ruthlessly running down the perpetrators and putting them in jail. At least it would raise his profile, and who knows which of his enemies he might catch. A thought flashed through his mind: if Raphael saw his chance for the throne, and was in the wrong place when Conrad was killed, that would finish the family. FUD: fear, uncertainty, doubt. Start hinting Raphael's ambition was to take the throne. Use the time to start quietly and build up the story. In the meantime, hire some kids to play with Conrad and his friends; kids that will tell a decent story when asked.

Suddenly Richard Courtney found himself with options again and was so much happier, he was ready to cope with Christmas with his family. He could always claim to be called away to the office if he wanted time with his favourite girls. Luckily, he was unaware part of his plan was already being undermined by Brian.

"You can't invite every kid you meet to spend time here." Brian said to Conrad, "If you're not careful, you'll have them bumping into you just to say they've been to Tolberg. I saw Ethan fall, and he couldn't have known you were coming up behind him. Maybe I'm just being suspicious but Dave's meeting with Seb was a little contrived. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt because Dave's younger brother had seen Seb coming down the lane, and he may have been trying to play matchmaker. Just be careful please."

Conrad nodded, "I get it. When I started at Borsham, no-one expected me to make friends, so we were all careful. Now they assume I'll be their friend whether I want to or not."

Something like that." Brian smiled, "Just be careful, please."

Although they had planned to go skating with Ethan the next day, Brian was proved right. A long queue had formed outside the rink, and they were more interested in new arrivals than getting in. They just drove on. Conrad sent a message to Ethan: Meet us on Tolberg Lane.

They parked and waited until Ethan hurried round the corner with a crowd following him. He jumped into the car, and they sped off.

"What's going on, Brian? There's never been crowds like this before."

"I'm not sure." Brian replied, "I'll check to see if anyone is stirring them up, but you could just be another holiday entertainment. Meeting you could be a challenge or a dare or something. Whatever it is, you're confined to Tolberg for now."

"OK! Sorry Ethan. We can drop you off, so you can go skating, or you can hang with us for now."

"I'll go with you if that's OK!" Ethan replied, "Mum and Dad are a bit confused because they don't get how easily we hooked up. They talk about knowing the right people then talk about how you'll get fed up with me and dump if I don't, er, you know."

"I think so." Conrad said, "Jim and I are boyfriends, so we warn everyone to be careful if they come into our bedroom. You know Seb's story, why we're here, and why security is so tight, but we're like you. All our friends are doing other things, so it's good to hang with others for the holiday."

Ethan nodded, "Thanks. Sharon thinks I took pics on a tour or something. She doesn't believe I'm hanging with you. My parents believe me now, and are telling all their friends."

It was a disjointed start to the Christmas period. Billy made it clear he wanted to spend Christmas with his parents even if it would be quiet. It helped that Sven's parents had failed to find rooms and were going to stay home insisting Sven should stay with them. In return, they were careful not to enter his bedroom if Billy visited. Jim and Conrad were careful not to leave Seb alone, but Dave and his brother visited him. Seb's mother and Jim's father, discovering they had a lot in common, also decided to go home.

"We'll come back for Christmas." Gerald said, "I thought you'd be home until you were eighteen, but you're already an adult. Make your home with Conrad."

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