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Sunrise brought on the shades of velvet deep reds of the coming sun. Dark royal purples streaked ahead of navy blue waves, chased away by the coming dusk and fading behind the golden tan of the palace archways. The jungle outside had begun to awaken to new and warmer life as the sun’s rays combed against the backs of sleeping beasts and brought dozing flowers into full bloom. Juan laid in his bed and marveled at the sight. Truly this is an auspicious day.

His bedroom doors opened to the sound of a booming voice, “Get up! Today is my big day! And I need my brother to be the man beside me!” it had been his brother Rashad.

Throwing his sheets away, Jaun stood at his bedside and embraced him, “Be careful, brother. You’ll wake the entire jungle from the sounds of you happiness.”

Rashad greeted him with a bearded smile and brotherly hug, “Can you blame me for being so excited on my wedding day?”

“No I guess I can't, brother.” And with that Jaun tackled Rashad and wrestled with him like they once did as kids.

When Jaun had been a toddler, his parents, who’d been beloved advisors of the King, were struck by plague. After much debate, the King and his wife, Rashad's parents, adopted their son's playmate and raised him like a son of their own. As they grew, the two boys saw each other as brothers and would play and plot with one another endlessly, that is whilst not studying under the watchful eyes of their parents.

One day, Jaun had an adventurous idea to go out and explore the jungle outside the small village surrounding the palace, to which Rashad agreed brazenly. Sneaking through the village and out to the wilderness, they went out to explore the world outside the palace. That was how they had met Cleo. On that day, she had been tracking prey and, upon spotting movement, pounced upon her suspected target. However, her prey had turned out to be Rashad himself. After some reasoning with the Jinko girl, and some boasting from Rashad himself, the three had become friends and played together. But for Rashad, it was love at first sight.

Afterwards, Rashad would sneak out into the jungle almost every day and night to meet with Cleo, talking and playing, enraptured in the fun of childhood. Jaun had seen the way his brother acted towards her and gratefully would step in for him, doing chore and completing schoolwork, while he'd go off to see his jungle flower. Then, at the age of sixteen, with a bare feeling of the emotions they had, Cleo and Rashad made love to one another, vowing to love each other for always.

After five years of waiting and pleading with his father and mother, Rashad finally was rewarded with a marriage ceremony for he and his Jinko lover; the first mamono couple in the palace’s history. And on this day, Jaun would get to be his brother's best man and see his two friends marry one another. He was so happy for his brother, but once more he was reminded of his own problems of love.

Feigning any more rough housing, the two sauntered out into the palace walkways. Jaun, now covered in his bright red and gold trimmed robe, and Rashad, bound in his gold robe and green sash, patted his brother's back. “I simply cannot be happier for you two.”

“Jaun, don’t doubt yourself. I know you yearn for it too, but one day you’ll find a nice woman too. I know that to be true, brother.”

As they talked, something caught the corner of Jaun’s eye. It came from an all too familiar courtyard they’ve walked  past on the way to the banquet hall.

He interrupted, “Brother, go ahead of me to the rehearsal. I remembered I had something to do.”

With a weary sigh, Rashad pat on his brother's shoulder, “Don't be too long, Cleo would skin me alive if she didn't have everything the way she wanted.” The scary part was that she could really do it, he thought.

Leaping back to the courtyard, Jaun felt his heart race with anticipation as he walked out on to the stone pathway. Indeed, he hadn’t been lucky in his pursuit of love, but that didn’t mean he hadn't someone to love. Coming upon the large cherry blossom tree at the yard’s center, he pressed against the trunk and peered around to the other side. She was there.

A woman clad in golden trappings and silky red cloths, danced to the music of the morning wind upon the courtyards stone stage. Her hair was like silvered strands of silk and her body was lightly kissed  by the sun, her chocolate skin almost matching his own. Her name was Ayah. She moved with sensual grace that any would attest to an Apsara, but underneath her beautiful nature and her alluring dance, Jaun fell in love with her smile and blush; the way she would talk and how cute her face would fluster when they met.

---

It had been in this very courtyard a fortnight ago, meeting almost like they were now. Upon deciding to spend the day in restful solitude, Jaun spied her dancing on the stage, his back to the cherry blossom tree. Struggling to find courage, he'd stumbled and was embarrassed to find that she had found him watching her. “Wha..What does his majesty want?”

“You...need not call me ‘majesty’....just Jaun would suffice.”

Her face had become deep red, “Were you…..spying on me sir Jaun?” Her voice was so elegant and sweet.

His hands sweated inside his pockets. “No ma...madame…..I..I..didn't mean to spy. I had just been lying about by that tree and by happenstance ….see you dancing.”

Cutely she smiled and held her hands together, “Is...is it to your liking, sir Jaun?”

He stuttered, “Why yes...yes of course...it's just lovely…”

She twirled and held her hands now up to her chin, her face red and bashful, “ Maybe I...I can dance for you some time, milord?”

The thought of her doing so filled his heart with glee, “Yes...that would be rather nice...I'm sorry...I do not know your name?”

She swirled and bowed down, “My...my name is Ayah...”

---

From that day forward, he couldn't get up the courage to ask for her dance she had promised him, all he could do was watch her as she would practice almost daily, without fail. Then, finally it came to him, a way to convey his feelings for her.

In mid dance, an attendant came and startled her; coaxing Ayah away into the palace. Seeing his opportunity, Jaun rushed back to the palace hallways and ran down to the West wing of the palace, where Ayah’s room was.

.   .   .

Fiddling his robe pocket Jaun felt the soft crisp of his letter, touching it gave him reassurance. Where his voice had failed him, his pen had not, as Jaun had come up with the idea of putting his love and desire for Ayah in the letter he currently held.

Pressing up against the door, he unhitched the lock and slipped inside. He was amazed at her room’s almost bare appearance, only a white cushioned bed and red duvets and a small chest of drawers beside it made up the only furnishings of her room. Stealing away towards the bed, he pulled out the lettered scroll.

My dearest Ayah,

You have been the sunrise of my eyes ever since I was lucky to gaze upon your beautiful, radiant body. For many a time I had been too scared and fearful to declare my love for you and my mouth failed me. But here I have found a way. To tell you of my passion, of my desire and for my love of you, Ayah. For so long I have seen you, watching you and never having the courage to come to you and sweep you off of my feet. But now, I avail to confess and that is what I will do.

I confess that I want you. I want to hold you dearly and call your name as lovers in love would do. I want to know everything about you, and I want you to know me too.  I do love you, and I would want you to know that, even if the feelings I harbor are only felt by my own heart and not by yours. I will await your reply to this and, if you'll permit, I will take you up on the dance you promised me.

With love and all of my heart,

-Jaun

This was the entirety of his letter. The feelings he had swirled in him like a violent storm, his fear and his giddy excitement. Jaun felt his hands tremble as he laid it down on her bed. Of all the thoughts rushing through his head, the only one he desired was the thought of her reply.

Seeing that his deed was done, he balled his hands and turned to leave. How different it would’ve been had he not seen that book.

Stopped in mid step, Jaun swept his gaze onto a open book, it's naked pages revealed to him. Without thought or reason, he skimmed the first few lines. However, upon reading, he hated that he had done so.

Morning,

I am ready and alive with anticipation of the Prince’s wedding to Lady Cleo. Such glorious love between two people makes my dancing feel reinvigorated. I cannot wait for when I perform a celebratory dance for the two and see their smiles alight with happiness. I dream of the day when my love will look at me the same way. I have to get him to notice me and overcome my nervousness around him. If only he would see me…

He couldn't read anymore. This had been Ayah’s personal diary. Even worse was the knowledge that she had desired someone, someone bound to be other than he. His worse thought imaginable had become reality. Why did he think himself to be worthy of her? he thought.

Distraught with sadness, he looked back to the letter and snatched it from the bed and crumpled it into his pocket; heading out of her room in a torn and distressed state, his love now crushed under the weight of truth.

Upon shutting the door, Jaun was surprised to hear a giggle from behind him. “My my, sneaking into girls rooms? That's a new level of perversion for you, Jaun.”

He knew that voice all too well. It was a voice that came from deep childhood and constant teasing and nagging. The voice of his brother’s fiance. “What may I do for you sister Cleo?”

Standing behind him in her signature green and yellow sashed toga, Cleo smirked at his now seemingly questionable actions. Her sleek and toned figure hidden by her toga, she was still quite at her physical peak, and is most undoubtedly the reason for Rashad’s sudden muscular change.

“What were you doing in Ayah’s room, Jaun? Were you too eager to see the hem of a her panties?” she teased.

She had always teased him, this time being no exception. Whether it be the normal build of his body or the lack of determination she would claim he’d have, Cleo could always find something to poke him with. Bickering was always a common activity between them. But Jaun was not in the mood for it now.

“Cleo, today is not the day. Go and attend to your wedding dress...I have to go get ready for the rehearsal…” And turned around to walk away. How casually he had dismissed her was proof of his grief. What was he doing to his soon to be sister-in-law?

Her tone became more serious and concerning, stepping forward to grab at him, “Why were you in there, Jaun? You can tell me you know…”

He swatted at her hand. Never had he laid a finger on her like that, until now. He stifled his emotions and turned away, “Just leave it be...we need to go get ready for the rehearsal…” And he stalked off, brushing away welling tears about to fall from his eyes.

For now, he needed to busy himself with the wedding, he didn't want to think about his mistake, for if he did, he would do something he would regret. As he walked away, he didn't notice that the fluttering of his cape drew out from his pocket a scroll of paper which landed on the floor below…

.   .   .

During the rehearsal, Jaun had been able to keep his appearances and pushed the thoughts of Ayah from his head. Immediately after the rehearsal, he’d apologized to his sister-in-law, to which she had haughtily accepted, but didn’t inquire into anymore to the incident to Jaun’s surprise and relief. Today was a day for his brother Rashad and Cleo, the least he could do is put his problems aside to commemorate his their wedding.

By the time the wedding ceremony started to begin, Jaun had become very anxious. Music played from the corner of the grandiose hall, many flowers and greens fluttered and stretched across the room like vines of the jungle, ambassadors of all nations showed up, on behest of the King, for the elegant wedding. Golden sashes and drapes hung on the warm glowing walls of the banquet hall and the floor ceased its  activity of guests getting into position for when the groom and bride were to appear.

Jaun had retained his red robe, however he was more kempt. His hair he’d combed back and shaved his growing stubble, splashing himself with water and some colognes and adjusted his robe to be more formal. Although his expression was laxed, Jaun was sweating heavily inside his facade. Not just from the enormity of the occasion, but from the ever distracting and drifting thoughts of Ayah. He hadn’t seen her since this morning and by now was regretting ever to have thought to confess to her on this day. Today of all days, he now felt slightly glad that she hadn't received his letter.

Then suddenly, the music had taken a more dramatic sequence and the legs oaken doors opened. All the guests had risen to gaze at the glowing bride and groom as they slowly made their way down the red carpeted path to the altar at the head of the hall. Rashad was decorated in the whitest of fine silk robe, green hemmings trimmed his sashes and curtails. His cloak that fell behind him was adorned with the beautiful stitch work, detailing trees and flowers of the jungle, and a large paw print at the center of it, presumably Cleo’s.

Cleo was magnificent. Her key lime gown leaked behind her as they moved with their easy pace, coming up and twisting around from her legs and thighs up to cover her bountiful breasts, leaving her well toned stomach to be seen by the guests around her. Her ears twitched at the beautiful music that played as they came to the altar, her bracelets and hair sashaying as they ascended. The monk priest wedding the two gave them a large wick, and together they lit the surrounding candles and felt the incense flow through their noses. As the monk chanted and prayed, the two never strayed from each other's sight, forever locked like stone until it was time for their vows.

The priest gestured to Rashad, to which he took Cleo’s paws and grasped them firmly, “To my beautiful wife, I vow to love and undertake the role of husband, to be kind and caring of her and to forever please her with the gift of eternal adoration.”

Then gesturing to Cleo, “To my honorable husband, I vow to love and undertake the role of wife, being forever faithful and dutiful to his needs, to care and protect the love between us both, and forever please him with the gift of eternal adoration.”

With their vows said and at the signal of the priest, Rashad tipped her down and kissed his princess, his now beautiful and savage princess of the forest. The audience stood in applause, Jaun even catching sight of his mother and father crying next to him. Small tears streamed down his eyes too as he gazed now upon his two best friends and loving family. However, his heartfelt happiness was short lived, for as the applause ceased, a woman garnished in silvery white, ascended to the altar, whereupon reaching the newly married couple, bowed to them.

Then rising from the ground, Jaun had been able to make out more of the unexpected woman, that the silver of her attire came not from her outfit but from the length of her hair. Her legs and almost bare arms contrasted beautifully with the white vestment she wore. Then, as she turned to see the crowd behind her, Jaun almost gasped aloud, as it was Ayah.

Of course! It had been written in her diary, she was performing for Rashad and Cleo! His mind races with fear and self anguish, as she moved her hands in a sensual motion from the left and to the right. Suddenly, the music began slow and dramatic, Ayah’s hands swirling about her body and the air as streams of gold seemed to slither and bind around her arms and legs. It seethed and stretched along her body and flowed through the air amongst her, her milk flittering about and shining in the light of the dawn outside the palace windows. And so she danced.

Her hands waved like the swirling milk, her whole body flowing to the tune of the hymn, as her hips began to shake and stir. The twirled and spun around the two newlyweds and from seemingly out of thin air, Ayah produced a chalice to the two. Upon taking the chalice, she poured some of her milk into the cup, whereupon filling it, Rashad lifted it to Cleo’s lips and watched her drink it. Then they switched, she now holding the cup to his lips and he drank.

All the while that he’d watched, Jaun’s heart almost bursting from the sight of Ayah and the fear which he held, it took him a passing second to realize she had been looking at him. Her eyes never wavered from his position, her lovely pale blue eyes locked into his and her glow shined even brighter than before. Struck by utter bafflement and embarrassment, his breathing rocked hard between his lungs, his whole body sweated with her overpowering gaze and brilliance. Indeed, she’d been watching him the entire time.

He suddenly shoved his hand into his pocket, his face becoming drained of all color. The letter was missing. As fear and coursed through his veins, his thoughts became distracted by Ayah’s movements once more. They entire audience had been following her hand and tow, the Apsara holding their every attention and focus, but still did she keep looking at Jaun. When finally her dance ended and applause ripped through the hall, Ayah had disappeared back into the crowd of guests once more; leaving Jaun with his feelings of desperate confusion. What did that mean for him now?

.   .   .

Exciteful music roared in the hall once again, as all the guests mingled and celebrated the marriage of Prince Rashad and, the newly, Princess Cleo. Talkings and laughter coursed along side the fiery music, both racing for which was the loudest over the other. Glasses were clanging and becoming filled and emptied, as did the plates of seemingly endless food. Upon the banquet hall table, Rashad and Cleo sat at the center, his parents at the respective sides of the groom and bride, while Jaun stood by the two, his stomach churning too much to have any appetite.

Despite the promise he’d set forth, he couldn’t stop thinking about Ayah, her sweet and glowering face filled his every thought, her voice on the tip of every voice he heard. Even at the time of his father toasting the two, Jaun felt as if he’d seen her watching him. He felt as if he would go insane if he didn’t find her. He had to explain to her.

Going to a pitcher for more to drink, he was shocked to find his brother patting him on the back, “Wasn’t the ceremony just perfect! My gosh, I’d never seen Cleo so happy!”

Brought out of the hurricane of his thoughts, Jaun had jumped slightly, “Yes!...Oh yes, she seemed very happy. I’m so very happy for both of you.”

Rashad hugs his shoulder with a worried look, “Are you alright, brother? You seem a bit distracted.”

Jaun drinks his glass, finishing it off as well, “Well...you have to promise not to tell Cleo, you know how she can get.”

Needless to say, Rashad had understood, he as the new husband should most definitely know. “Well, I have to go up to the wedding suite we had picked out for the evening, have to fix a few things. Come up with me.”

Jaun nodded and brushed through the guests, Rashad doing his best to keep the formal congratulations to a minimum, until they had finally reached the stairs and ascended. “So, brother, what is it that troubles you?”

“Do you remember...the Apsara girl? The one who danced at the ceremony.” Jaun had his hands stuffed in his robe pockets.

Rashad rubbed his beard, “Yes, I do. She was quite lovely. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I had met her some time ago and beyond any formal greetings, nothing had ever happened. The morning sun and all of its beautiful colors pale in comparison to her figure and personality, and I have grown very fond of her.”

Reaching the top of the stairs, Rashad directed them down a path to the far end of the hall. “So, my brother has quite the weakness for this woman. Does she know of your intentions?”

“Well that's the problem. I cannot for the life of me tell her how I feel.” Jaun bowed his head.

Rashad hung on his brother's shoulder, “Trust me, I know how you feel. But, Jaun,” Rashad stopped him by the open entrance of the couples room, doors wide open, “at any point, you could’ve come and asked me for help. Me and Cleo would’ve been happy to help you, but instead you wrote some letter and didn’t have the stomach to leave it in her room.”

Jaun sighed, “Yes, I know but I….wait, I didn’t tell you I left her a letter…”

Rashad smiled and without warning, spun Jaun into the room and hastily closed the oak doors. In his daze, Jaun leapt to the door and failed to wrench it open.

“Rashad! Brother, what are you doing?” There wasn’t an answer. “Stop this! Open the door!” Still no reply. Banged on the solid wood doors, only to be greeted with unmoving silence. As he turned his head, pondering why he would be suddenly locked in the room, their wedding room of all places, when he heard a noise.

Looking up, Jaun was struck with the sight of someone standing before him, clad now back in a red and white trappings. He knew the flow of the silvery hair, the shiny bronzed chocolate skin, and the deep blue eyes that stared back into the backs of his own eyes. Ayah stood at the side of the large bed in the room.

They stared at each other for a brief moment. All was still and silent, but Jaun could swear his heart just exploded from within him.

Taking the chance to speak first, Ayah cleared her throat, “How...how do you do sir Jaun…?”

Her voice was still as amazing as he had found it so before, “I….I'm fine….but this is quite the situation….did...did my brother bring you here?”

She stepped forward just a little, although Jaun's eyes hadn't seen it, “No, Lady Cleo requested me to this place...I had assumed you'd asked her….”

“I...I doubt I could really ask anything of you Lady Ayah…” So Cleo had been involved, he thought. Just how much does she know of his intentions concerning Ayah? His whole body shook underneath his robe, his face and chest starting to become slick with perspiration.

This time, visibly stepping forward, Ayah was now two or three paces away from him, “But….didn’t you want to ask something of me?” Her face became slightly red as she moved her hands to small pocket in her apparel and produced a small letter. This wasn’t any letter, it was his letter, the one he’d meant to give to her but failed!

All the color drenched from his face, “Where….where did you get that…?”

Bashfully, she held it to her chest, “Why Lady Cleo gave it to me…..isn't that what you had intended?”

Jaun's body felt heavy like a stone statue, his heart being the only one moving and doing so painfully fast. So, it was her, she gave Ayah the letter. He took a deep breath and muttered, “I….I didn't mean for you to….receive the letter…”

She stepped even closer, now almost a foot apart, her expressions clearly flustered and red, “ Why not? It is addressed to me…”

He stumbled back a bit, now leaning against the door, “Well I…..I…”

Ayah pulled herself to him, her hands still clutching the letter, “Why not!? The contents were so sweet, why...why would you not want to give it to me…?”

“Because!” he blurted, “I...I had originally intended on leaving it in your chambers...but I saw your open diary...”

A scarlet blanket of blush crept over Ayah's face, “You...you saw…?”

“Yes...I know I shouldn’t have but, I did…” Jaun moved to her, “I understand...you like a certain man...I can accept that…..that is why I didn’t give you that note-!” Suddenly, Ayah leapt to him and hugged him tightly, her face buried in his chest.

“Is that it...you didn't read more….?”

Jaun nods and shivers with excitement, her touch equally if not more softer than he had imagine. Her hair wafted into his face and he could smell her honeysuckle scent, the faint taste of milk from her presence.

She clutched at his robe, her eyes now watery with tears, “My...my Prince Jaun...it was you….the man that I have written of...the man I love…”

The world stopped  at these words. As if an unbearable weight were lifted off his shoulders, Jaun felt his heart flood with happiness, “...Really...I...you-”

Before he could say any more, Ayah's hands reached for his cheeks and kisses him, his eyes wide with a blazed love once more. His hands slid to her neck, as slowly he kisses her back, her eyes ran with small tears.

Pulling back, she whispered to him, “You were always watching me dance; nothing had ever made me feel better than seeing you watching me.” She placed her hands on his chest, “And when I read your letter, it had made me so happy! To say that you loved me,” and other streak of tears, “I'm so happy!”

His own eyes becoming tearful, he kisses her once again before taking her away to the bed. She pulled him into the bed, their kisses becoming more wild and fervent. As she moved her hands down the center of his robe and feeling his bare chest, Jaun broke away and looked deep into her yearning blue eyes, “I love you, Ayah. I truly do. I'm sorry that it took so long for me to say it, but I love you with all of my heart.”

Her smile beamed once more and she gave him a kiss, “Nothing else matters anymore, my Prince, only that we are together.”

He kisses her neck and smirks, “If that's true, what else was in your diary?”

Scarlet blush came over her once again, “Are...are you really wanting to know?”

He rubbed his hand across her firm dancers belly and kissed her cheek, “Yes please, my love”

She shivered, but her blush remained intact, “Well….since I hadn't ever thought that this day would come….I imagined a lot of fantasies with us together. Some of those ….were….” she fidgeted, “Were very lewd fantasies…”

Jaun had to admit, he had dreamt of those kinds of fantasies as well, but something about her writing them down and reliving them every time she would open her diary, stirred his arousal and even more, his courage. Pulling her over top of him, their lips just barely touching, he said, “Then, why don’t we fulfill those fantasies together, tonight and every night to come?”

.   .   .

Despite loaning their room to Jaun and Ayah, Rashad was well satisfied with he and his newlywed wife to be sleeping in their own bed together. Rashad had laid in wait for her to appear, thinking slyly about the things his brother maybe doing to the dancer girl right now, but such thoughts were interrupted by the presence of a predator in the room.

Cleo, now wearing only a skimpy pair of under garments, seductively found her way into the room and got down on all fours, eyeing Rashad with emerald green cats eyes. She crept up to the bed and over her prey, “I think we did good, getting those two together dear, don’t you think?”

Rashad smoothed his hands over her well muscled body, albeit skin as smooth as silk, and kissed her neck, “Undoubtedly, I think so. It was the hands of fate that brought you his silly letter.”

She growled playfully preparing to devour her prey, “We may soon have another married couple~”