This story is rated NC-17 (adults only). It includes explicit male/male sex. No particular warnings for this piece. If this is what you came for, scroll down. If it isn't, hit the Back button.
With every expectation of seeing the Duke and Duchess of Sale, newly arrived from their wedding-trip, in Curzon Street on the morrow, Captain Gideon Ware was surprised when, late in the evening, Wragby announced, "'Tis his Grace -- and a meadow!" and his young cousin came laughing into his sitting-room. He was indeed weighed down by so many flowers that only glimpses of his face were visible, but they were wreathed in smiles, and Gideon could not but smile back.
"What's this, Adolphus? Am I to expire beneath the dowy dens o' yarrow like the ill-fated heroine of an old song?"
"Indeed you shall not, for I've a great many things to tell you!" Gilly's cheeks were pink with the spring chill, and he had on a waistcoat of greater magnificence than his usual style, no doubt a souvenir of his stay in Paris. "But the gardeners have so filled Curzon Street with blooms that one can scarcely move without disarranging them, and the scent was in a fair way to sicken poor Harriet. So, as I recalled that when last I was here you'd not a bit of nature to call your own, I brought you some of the excess." He at last relinquished the vases to Wragby, who was forced to toss spurs, stockings, and racing-forms to the floor indiscriminately to make room for them on the sideboard, and took his cousin's hands in his. "Gideon," he said, smiling. "We have had such adventures!"
"Never tell me you've been burning down inns and rescuing foundlings in Paris? -- leave it be, man!" he added to Wragby, who was plucking at the crushed leaves with the air of someone who would far rather be sharpening swords. "Recall that I have set you at liberty long hence, even though wretched younglings do insist on showing up at the door at all hours. Take yourself off to your holiday. We shall do very well by ourselves."
"No foundlings, thank God," Gilly said, throwing himself onto the sofa. "There was the matter of the smugglers' boat, but that might have happened to anyone. And Harriet has got herself positively saddled with both a pastry-chef and an underhousemaid, who have a very significant way of refusing to speak to one another. And we met a fair acquaintance of yours whose situation may be of interest to you."
Gideon refrained from catching at that bait. Instead he dropped into a chair across from the sofa, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. "And where is the lovely Duchess while you gallivant about London, undoubtedly catching a deadly chill into the bargain?"
"She retired early, for she breakfasted poorly and was weary from the hardships of the journey -- and, possibly, from other causes as well." Gilly did not look at all as though he had caught a chill; in fact, Gideon could hardly remember seeing him so full of blooming good spirits, even aside from his expression, which suggested that he was ruthlessly suppressing a proud smile.
"Increasing already, is she? Well, well, you have my felicitations, cousin."
Champagne being duly distributed and drunk, Gilly began to tell a story involving the lost valise of a schoolgirl from Surrey, with Harriet figuring less as a dutiful wife than as a partner in crime. Gideon was none too pleased to find that part of him wished for the days when he himself was his cousin's only ally and confidante.
Noticing his silence, Gilly reached to tuck a blossom into the pocket of his dressing-gown. "I am rattling on, and you, if I am not mistaken, are blue-devilled! Are you sorry you will lose your nearness to the title? I am sure it has been the cause of your meeting ever so many fascinating people."
"Nothing of the sort," Gideon said. "But I perceive that you have, after all, contrived to marry for love, and, though it does me no credit, I find that I am damnably jealous."
He knew his error as soon as he heard the words he spoke -- Gilly knew the difference between jealous and envious as well as anyone -- and he held his breath.
But Gilly was already speaking: "That was just what I wished to talk with you about! You may do so as well, you know. A great deal more easily than I, come to that, as in my case it ..." He slowed, and Gideon could see understanding dawning in his face.
After a breathless moment, just as the pause became too long to pass over without comment, Gilly leaned forward and took both Gideon's hands in his. "But then -- that is most particularly what I wished to speak with you about," he said gently. He rubbed his thumbs idly over Gideon's knuckles, as though he weren't aware of the movement.
Gideon frowned. Had he expected anything in particular -- had he been able to imagine this moment at all -- this calm acceptance would not have been what he pictured. After all, Gilly and Harriet seemed, against all the odds, to have managed to imitate Mr. and Mrs. Dash of Nowhere In Particular, who had wed, with no thoughts of property or bloodline, only because they loved one another. This, in fact, had been the latest of the many reasons he had chosen not to make on purpose the declaration he had just made accidentally.
"Adolphus," he began.
But Gilly shook his head, smiling warmly up into his face, bringing his hands up between them to clasp them close to his chest. "No, no, Gideon, let me explain, for I have been setting to work again, and now I see that with a little arranging I may solve all our difficulties at once. You see, Mrs. Winslow --"
But he was leaning forward, with the flowers making a ridiculous halo behind him and that light in his eyes that was always only for Gideon. Feeling rather like a man who, losing his hat to the wind, tosses his cloak after it, Gideon kissed him.
Gilly's mouth was soft, mobile, always inclined for smiling; this he had already known. But the feeling of it softening under his own was nothing short of miraculous. Gideon hardly knew what he had intended -- once Gilly had accepted his accidental revelation with no sign of revulsion, he had rather lost track of purposeful action in favor of grasping impulse -- but he found himself pressing kiss after ardent kiss into Gilly's warm mouth, coming up off the chair to his knees to get closer, breathing in the warm clean smell of Gilly under the feverish scent of the flowers.
Gilly did not seem to have noticed his graceless desperation. He had released one of Gideon's hands, but clung to the other, and when at last Gideon sat back far enough to draw breath, he pressed it to his face, sighing and smiling at the same time. And then Gideon was looking on the top of Gilly's curly head as Gilly bent to undo Gideon's neckcloth.
Even setting aside the question of Harriet -- Gideon's conscience again began struggling to make itself heard over the pounding of his heart -- should not he stop short of leading his cousin over so steep a precipice as this one? Unlike himself, Gilly had never shown the slightest inclination for backgammon, and perhaps had let affection bear him where desire had been left behind -- Gideon swallowed against the feeling of Gilly's fingers against his bare throat and tried to think. Gilly was smiling down at him, a stem of something yellow and feathery hanging down over his shoulder and brushing his cheek. "How lucky I am," he said, and Gideon's neckcloth was a crumpled mess on the floor, and Gilly's fingers were pushing off his dressing gown. "Now up, there's a good fellow, for I can't ravish you properly if you insist on staying down there on the floor."
"You are to ravish me, are you, little one?"
Gideon came up to the sofa beside him, and Gilly immediately pressed him down against the pillows at the opposite corner, saying, "Yes, if you've no objection, for it seems a very pleasant way to spend an evening," and then he was bearing Gideon down with the weight of his body, mouth hot on his ear and the hollow of his throat.
Gideon's eyes fell shut as Gilly puzzled him out, making pleased noises of discovery at the muscles of Gideon's shoulders, the darkness of the hair on his chest. He shifted occasionally as another garment fell, unregarded, to the floor. He put his face in Gideon's breastbone and his teeth in Gideon's nipple and his nose in Gideon's armpit -- raised Gideon's knee against the back of the sofa to run a considering hand down the back of his thigh -- took his yard in two curious hands and bent to kiss his mouth, hard, as he cried out.
When he broke the kiss, he sat back gazing at the entirely naked Gideon, his cheeks pink and his eyes sparkling. "Oh, you are lovely like this. You've gone quite red, you know."
Gideon reached for him breathlessly and realized he still wore his coat. "Damme, you've still got most of a Mailcoach," he said, tugging at Gilly's neckcloth. "Won't you let me see you, too? How do you burn me to cinders without disarranging your ruffles? I am beginning to think you got up to more than I had imagined at Oxford."
"Gideon, how could I? For the instant I lifted my shirt, Romsey would have been there to predict its resulting in a fatal ague! No, no." Gilly smiled down at him, drawing a hand down his breast where his breath still came fast and hard. "I haven't your experience. But I know you, you see."
Gideon had to close his eyes at that, and Gilly laid a kiss on each lid, and then went on pressing heartfelt, near-chaste kisses on his flesh -- on his temple and the inner curve of his whiskers, his jaw and the side of his neck, between each pair of ribs. The banked fire in Gideon's loins flared again. What he wished for he could not have said -- everything swam in his mind's eye, each possibility more delightful than the last; he grasped the shoulder of Gilly's coat and tugged fruitlessly.
"No, no," Gilly laughed. "It's hopeless, for it's far too good a fit, and even if we two could remove it without summoning Nettlebed, there would still be the boots to contend with, and -- oh, Gideon, dear Gideon, can you understand if I cannot bear to delay so long?"
"All too well," Gideon said thickly. "But -- Gilly, stop a moment, I cannot --" He drew a labored breath, and then another. "To spoil your clothes is a small thing, but to do so in such a way would -- I could not bear to see you exposed to --"
"You take such good care of me." Gilly turned his face into Gideon's restraining hand, pressing soft lips to his palm. "Next time we shall plan ahead, and I shall follow your excellent example in the matter of dressing gowns and Turkish slippers. But for now I must protect my wardrobe as I may, and, Gideon, please don't say I must not, please --" And he shook off Gideon's hand and resumed his passionate, ticklish path (now marked with tongue as well as lips) down over Gideon's belly to his navel and thence to the swollen crown of his sex.
That mouth -- ardent, unpracticed, and greedy -- the mouth he had scarcely dared dream even of kissing before this night -- "Gilly, for God's sake!" Gilly made a surprised sound, and then a yearning one, and Gideon roared something inarticulate and came off in his mouth.
Gilly did not cease from making small caresses until Gideon pushed him forcibly away. When his face came into view again, he was laughing.
"Just what do you find amusing in entirely destroying your elders?"
"It is as well for us that we did not try such a thing when we were speaking to one another at the Pelican, for the gentleman in the next room might have pounded the wall down!"
"And a rare shock he should have got for his pains!" Gideon drew himself a little more upright on the pillows, and Gilly, who seemed to have been kneeling on the floor, climbed up to lean against him, lifting his face for kisses far less neat and civilized than before. He looked rather like a sullied angel with his lips reddened and his curls in disarray and all his clothes on but his neckcloth. Gideon measured his yard through his trousers and was pleased to see his smile falter and his breath come in a quick gasp. He went to work on the buttons.
"For God's sake, unbutton your waistcoat, at least, and let me at some of your skin." He let the flap down and drew the shirt aside like a curtain. "I would invite you to come into me" -- he was pleased to see Gilly's eyes widen at that -- "but as you've rashly accosted me fully dressed on a sofa, you'll have to be satisfied with dying in my lap, as though we were schoolboys." When Gilly complied with shaking fingers, Gideon splayed his left hand against his breast, feeling his heat and the pounding of his heartbeat through the cloth, and used his right to capture Gilly's cock. "There. Yes, like that. Come up against me, Adolphus, for flesh is much more easily cleaned than goatskin --"
"Gideon!" Gilly fell forward, laughing breathlessly and thrusting into his hand. His lips shaped against Gideon's cheek endearments he hadn't the breath to voice, and Gideon freed his other arm to pull him close and feel him spend against his chest.
For some little time after, they sprawled, not quite at their ease, and then Gideon fetched up his shirt and laid it between them, "as though one put one's cloak over a puddle for a lady to walk -- only do settle, Adolphus, there's a good lad," because a good flow of talk would keep the sting from his eyes when Gilly laid his head down on Gideon's breast.
How often might they have this, and for how long? For a well-brought-up wife would turn a blind eye to any number of bits of muslin, and servants likewise would consider it none of their affair, but word of something of this nature would spread and leave Harriet the sport of the ton. Now was the time when Gideon must pull himself together and put a stop to it. Having failed to prevent himself from starting it, he must now end it.
And he could bear never to feel Gilly's lips on his skin again, never to see his body, never again to share this madness with him -- but the sweet confiding weight of Gilly's head on his breast was more than he could sacrifice.
Far from absorbing his cousin's blue devils, Gilly turned his smiling face up. "Gideon," he sighed. "How I have longed for this!"
"Have you, little one?" Gideon kissed him again, softly. "It was yours for the asking any time these seven years."
"Seven years! No, no, now I know you are hoaxing me, for seven years ago I was scarcely older than Tom, and with an odious case of hero worship into the bargain."
"In your cradle you were not such a fool as Tom. And as for the hero worship ..." He smoothed Gilly's hair down, cradling his head, and swallowed. "It was not so very unpleasant."
Gilly's cheeks were pink. "How fortunate for me," he said softly, "as I cannot promise I am entirely free of it, even now." His eyes were half-lidded. Gideon tipped his chin up again and kissed him, and they fell shut altogether. "No, don't try to distract me," he said, and turned, propping his chin on his hands, "for now I recall that you never let me explain about Mrs. Winslow, and it was what I most particularly wanted to talk with you about."
Gideon shook his head. "You've a most unusual approach to the aubade, little one, but go on if you must. But who is Mrs. Winslow? I had thought Winslow still at Oxford."
"Not the nephew -- the uncle! He had been a bachelor all these years, until he suddenly wed Satterfield's sister, Louisa -- do you not remember her? I made sure you would recall, because --"
"Louisa Satterfield! How could I forget her? Do you remember that winter at Croylake when she bested Matt in shooting and in Latin the same day? and she not even out of the schoolroom. But do you mean to tell me a splendid girl like that was leg-shackled to Ned Winslow's gouty uncle?"
"Yes, it was a great deal too bad, and I fancy her spirits were somewhat depressed at the match, for his temper was none of the best. But now she is recovering something of her gaiety -- though I cannot but think that what would particularly speed her improvement would be receiving a call from the dashing Captain Ware."
"Louisa Satterfield," Gideon said, though he still could not fathom what his cousin was getting at. "Do you know, she's the only girl I ever saw with eyes bluer than Harriet's -- except for Mrs. Mudgley, of course! And I take it your idea is that I am to wed this paragon?"
"Oh, do you dislike it excessively, Gideon? Harriet never thought you would object, but of course if you've formed another attachment ..."
"Of course I have not, for you know very well you would be the first to hear the happy news. But what do you mean by this scheme?"
"I'm sure you're aware that Harriet's sisters, while a very good sort of girls in their way, are not really worthy to be her companions, and she has never known what it is to have a true friend, one who can be relied upon always to understand --" He looked down smiling into Gideon's eyes and kissed the corner of his mouth. "And Louisa is such an admirable girl, Gideon, such a combination of spirit and sensibility; I declare after two hours we were all quite bosom friends. And so we thought that if we could only wed you to someone like that, then very naturally Harriet might spend her days with Louisa in those times when her husband must away with his gallant cousin."
Gideon shook his head slowly. "I have underestimated you, Adolphus -- both in your perversity and in your audacity." An unmarked tightness in his chest was loosening, and in all likelihood the expression on his face was a very foolish one. "Natural! Is that what you call it? The most unnatural, not to say Byronic, ménage imaginable -- I suppose you'll be wishing for the four of us to take up residence together like some troupe of French acrobats?"
"No, indeed! How can you say so, when amongst the four of us we've a dozen houses, not to mention this charming residence?" Gilly pulled down a flower and tucked it behind Gideon's ear. "But if you wished to spend the autumn shooting at Cheyney, and Mrs. Winslow -- Mrs. Ware, I should say! -- wished to join us in Curzon Street for the Season, and I wished to escape the measles or the rug-cleaning -- why, in short, nothing could be more natural than that Gilly and Gideon and Harriet and Louisa should exist on terms of warmest intimacy."
"Are you, then, happy to imagine Harriet and Louisa on terms of such intimacy as this?" He moved his hip in such a way as to emphasize the profound entanglement of their limbs, and nearly fell into his own trap at Gilly's languid sigh.
"Yes; why not?" Gilly said dreamily. "Ordinary arrangements, I daresay, do very well amongst the lesser ranks, but persons of our order must not succumb to romance." He insinuated one small, bony hand between them and drew it slowly up Gideon's side.
"There you are," Gideon sighed, drawing the Duke of Sale atop him once more, "puffing off your consequence again."
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November 11, 2009