A Devil’s Own Luck Excerpt Two

June 13, 2011

As I promised, here is a second excerpt from “A Devil’s Own Luck” and it is a little steamier than the last.

Enjoy!

By the time he had finished his apple, his servants had climbed the stairs three times, and William decided it was time to set his plan into action. Taking a deep breath, he took the lamp from his study and slowly climbed the stairs, making his way to Stephen’s bedchamber. He knocked on the door and waited. There was no answer, so he knocked again. When he still heard nothing, he turned the knob and let himself in.

The room was dark, and the fire had died out in the grate. In the light from his lamp, he saw that the food and broken china from earlier had been gathered into a small pile on the floor, and a stained rag next to it gave testimony to its usage as a mop for the wine. At first glance, William thought perhaps Maud was mistaken and Stephen had left, for there was no sign of him, but a slight movement out of the corner of his eye called William’s attention to the seat near the window, and there he found his guest. William walked over to where Stephen perched, still dressed only in his stained shirt, trousers, and stocking feet.

“You are still here,” William said gently to the bowed head below him.

“Yes,” Stephen replied in an almost-whisper.

William dropped to one knee in front of the man and cupped his chin in one hand, stroking his thumb across that full lower lip.

“What am I to do with you?” William sighed as sad and wary amber eyes met his. He smiled sadly back at Stephen, and the wariness in the young man’s eyes turned to confusion as he searched William’s face.

William took a deep breath and plunged on. “There is much we should speak of and much that should be said, but I do not believe we should do so tonight. We cannot seem to speak to one another without sparring and quarreling, so I will only ask you this: do you wish to go home, Stephen? I will see you get there safely and release Graves from his debts to me if that is what you wish.”

William waited, holding his breath, for Stephen to answer. Despite all that had happened between them, or perhaps because of it, William hoped the answer would be no. His plan for the rest of the night would mean nothing if Stephen only wished to return to Graves. William well knew he could have given up on the man several times in the last day and night, but something in him would not allow it. Something in him needed more from Stephen. The idea of letting him leave twisted something painful inside him. There was no rationalizing it. It simply was.

Stephen’s eyes widened in surprise at William’s last words, but he still remained silent. When he did not answer, William feared the worst, but he had to ask anyway, to hear it from Stephen’s lips. “Do you, Stephen? Do you wish to go home?”

William was surprised by a short bark of bitter laughter from the younger man. “Would that I could go home,” Stephen muttered. Then he gravely raised his eyes to meet William’s and said, “However, to answer the question as you intended it, no, I do not wish for you to send me back to Mr. Graves’s house, not yet.”

William was puzzled by Stephen’s queer response but stopped himself from asking about it. Tonight was not for lengthy conversation. They were both too raw for that, and that road only seemed to lead them into discord. He would continue with his plan and hope understanding and answers would follow.

“Very well. If that is your answer and you truly wish to stay, then I would ask a boon of you for tonight. There has been much unpleasantness exchanged between us in so short a time, and I am partly to blame for it. This evening I behaved shamefully toward you, a fact I am not proud of.”

Stephen frowned in concern and shook his head vigorously. “No, I—” he began earnestly, but William placed his fingers over the man’s lips, silencing him.

“Please do not argue with me, not tonight. That is the boon I would ask of you. No words. Not until tomorrow. You may tell me all you wish. You may praise me or castigate me. You may damn me or beg my forgiveness, whatever you wish, just not tonight. Tonight is my apology to you for the shameful manner in which I behaved. Will you allow me that?”

Stephen’s lips trembled beneath his fingers, and his eyes shone a little bright in the lamplight, reassuring William that he had taken the right course. This was the Stephen he wished to know—filled with great passions, yes, but a deep well of tender feelings as well, feelings he kept hidden behind anger and vitriol but that were there just the same.

Stephen took a deep breath through his nose, searched William’s face once more and nodded hesitantly. William smiled in relief, a truly open and happy smile that had Stephen’s eyes widening and fixating on William’s mouth. As the young man continued to stare at his mouth, William’s smile turned to a grin, and Stephen flushed and suddenly looked away.

“One more matter before we begin my apology… regarding my wife,” William felt compelled to say. When Stephen’s eyes returned to his, William continued. “My wife is dead and has been for many years. You have no need to fear a vengeful harridan swooping down upon us, I assure you.”

William stood without waiting for Stephen’s reaction and offered the young man his hand, smiling gently down at him. Stephen still looked a little wary, but he slid his hand into William’s just the same and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. When Stephen would have let go, William tightened his grip and began leading him out of the room. He could hear Stephen’s breath quicken as he led the younger man down the hall to his bedchamber, and his own pulse quickened in response.

William was pleased and grateful to find that Maud and Stubbs had prepared everything as he had requested and more when he entered the room. The coals were piled high in the grate, with a large iron kettle steaming above them. A copper bathing tub sat steaming in front of it, and a tray of cold meats, breads, cheese, and autumn fruits sat on the small table by the window. The lamps had been turned low, candles lit and set about the room, and a small brazier near the window sent plumes of perfumed smoke from the East Indies into the air. Those last details must have been Maud’s doing, and he silently thanked the woman for her thoughtfulness. She knew what a sensualist he was, and despite her feelings for his guest, she had endeavored above and beyond his orders to give him this. He would have to remember to thank her come morning.

William led Stephen to the center of the room and left him for a moment to close and lock the door. He ordinarily would not have bothered, but he was certain Stephen would be more comfortable knowing the door was locked. Turning back to face his guest, he watched Stephen sniff the air and gaze nervously about the room. William wasted no time in returning to his side. He did not want the bath water to get cold before he had even begun his seduction, and he did not want to give his quarry any chance to change his mind.

Stephen’s eyes returned to his, full of questions and a little trepidation, but William merely shook his head. “No words, Stephen. Please, just let me pamper you for a little while. I know this is supposed to be my apology to you, but it would mean a great deal to me if you would allow me to do this.”

When the younger man sighed and nodded, William undid the fastenings of Stephen’s soiled shirt and helped him pull it over his head. The shirt was ruined with wine and other stains, so William merely threw it into a corner of the room and began undoing the buttons on Stephen’s trousers. He knelt then to help Stephen off with them and removed the young man’s stockings as well, leaving him completely bare to William’s hungry gaze. Their first night together had been rather rushed, and William had not been given much chance to savor Stephen’s beauty. He hoped very much to correct that gross injustice this evening.

Kneeling in front of his lover, William let his gaze roam over the younger man’s body. Golden-brown hairs lightly dusted Stephen’s lean, muscled calves and thighs, sparkling a little in the flickering candlelight. A darker, thicker patch nestled between his legs, surrounding the base of a fair-sized, dusky cock that was rapidly swelling under William’s regard. A line of hair ran up the flat expanse of his belly, meeting the dusting of hair across his chest, and William could not resist running his fingers along that path, feeling the soft hairs tickle his skin. He followed the trail up to Stephen’s copper nipples, already drawn taut and dark, swirling his fingers through the hair surrounding them and grazing his palms over the pebbled nubs.

Still on his knees and only a hairsbreadth from Stephen’s cock, William smiled, hooded his eyes in lambent appreciation, and tipped his head back to meet those expressive amber eyes. Stephen watched him avidly, his tongue darting out several times to wet his sinfully full lips, begging with actions what he could not with words. William knew exactly what the man wanted, but he was not going to be rushed. He would take things slower this time—even if it killed him.

He ignored Stephen’s silent plea and climbed to his feet, dropping his hands down to run the backs of his thumbs up Stephen’s inner thighs as he stood, enjoying the man’s sharp intake of breath and the twitching of his cock. William’s own trousers were feeling a bit uncomfortable at present, but he was certainly old enough and experienced enough to know that pleasure only increased by delaying gratification. He could wait and find a measure of pleasure in prolonging his own sweet torment as well as his lover’s.

He smiled at Stephen’s slightly disappointed look and cupped his chin, leaning in to kiss him tenderly on the cheek and then just underneath his jaw. William still desperately wanted to take Stephen’s mouth, to kiss him with all the tenderness and passion he was feeling, but the young man had said he did not care for it, so William would have to content himself with kissing him everywhere else.

Smiling, William drew back and led his lover to the bathing tub. Stephen obediently sank into the water with a sigh and wrapped his arms around his bent knees, looking up expectantly for William to give him some direction. William was relieved that Stephen appeared willing to let him lead for a while, and even if it was only as an act of contrition, William could make use of that.

When Stephen was settled, William removed his own coat, waistcoat, and cravat, retrieved the thick cloth Maud had left on the mantel, and pulled the heavy kettle from the coals, pouring the hot water into the end of the bath to warm it up again. He then went to his wardrobe and withdrew the glass vial and jar Stubbs had purchased for him, setting the jar on the night table by the bed and taking the other back to the bath.

Under Stephen’s puzzled gaze, he rolled his shirtsleeves up and uncorked the small vial, pouring some of the liquid into the bath. Almost instantly the smells of sharp earth, sweet spices, and musk filled the air, and William drank it in with sensual delight.

Patchouli.

William had fallen in love with the scent the first time he had smelled its heady fragrance, and had made sure the men on the docks knew he would pay handsomely for it and any other exotic oils and spices they might “find” lying around after the Company had unloaded its cargo. He could find such things at more reputable markets, but he had always been a proponent of free trade. Even if he did not engage in it himself anymore, he could still support those who did.

William drew a small stool next to the tub and watched with pleasure as Stephen’s eyes closed and his body relaxed against the linens draped behind him. Well pleased with himself, William picked up the sea sponge and small jar of soap next to the tub and began washing Stephen’s body with it. Stephen’s eyes, now darkened to a deep, toffee color, opened and watched him for a time before sliding closed again as he surrendered to William’s ministrations.

For a long time, William simply played, running the soft sponge over the planes of Stephen’s body and learning the feel of every muscle and bone as it shifted beneath the smooth marble of his skin. He avoided the most obvious places, only making a cursory pass of Stephen’s pleasure centers in favor of teasing other areas and learning what else his young companion might like. Stephen’s ribs and nipples were very sensitive, as were his underarms and his belly, just under the bones of his hips. The younger man squirmed and moaned whenever William passed over those places and was excessively responsive to even the lightest touch, making William wonder at his apparent preference for such rough play their first night together, but he put such questions to the back of his mind for that night and simply concentrated on doing what seemed to give them both the most pleasure.

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