Chapter Three

I went down to dinner in much the same frame of mind of a man who has been sentenced to execution might approach his final supper. The end wasn’t actually at hand, but it was quite close, and this man might feel torn between no appetite and the greatest appetite of his life, as it were, considering oncoming events.

Boyd had counseled me most encouragingly that as there were still two weeks to go in our visit, I might be happily surprised, but I had merely laughed hollowly. “My good man, I regard your attempts at cheer as touching, but really. Are the trousers right, do you think?”

“A half-inch higher, sir, would produce a gratifying effect, I believe.”

“Right as always, Boyd. It does cheer one, to be sartorially prepared.”

“Indeed, sir. A most strengthening effect upon the psyche.”

“Psychology of the individual, what, Boyd?”

“As you say, sir.”

And so I had left feeling a bit better, but now, nose to the trough, waiting for the others to come in, I felt the gloom settle upon me again. Two weeks in this bally place, with Lord Ian and the wretched Olivia and bloody Bloomers and this nephew, who was probably a simpering git, some pathetic excuse for a–

Oh. Oh my.

The nephew came in, and I ended by dabbling my fingers in my soup instead of my finger bowl, but burned fingertips seemed a small price to pay for a smile like the one he turned upon me as he sat down across the table.

Yes, his eyes were quite blue, and rather alarmingly large. He had dark hair swept back from a high, white brow, and a mouth… Well, yes, that was a mouth, there, below the narrow, aristocratic nose. His skin was, quite simply, flawless. Plenty of girls I know would kill for skin like that. I wouldn’t mind it myself. Wouldn’t mind touching it, anyhow, just to see if it was as smooth and fine as it–

Wait. Wait just one bally moment.

Point A. Bloomers had already laid claim upon this Elijah child, fair and square. The claim was merely, “I saw him first,” but such a claim is honourable, and the Monaghans are an honourable people.

Point the Second. Elijah Wood was, yes, stunningly beautiful. But he could not hold a candle to Boyd. He was like the moon, sickly pale with jealousy etcetera. Green eyes versus blue eyes? No contest there, friend, Boyd’s sparkling green eyes took the wire by twenty lengths. Master Wood might have perfect, flawless skin, but it was, in fact, too pretty. His mouth was nice, yes, but Boyd’s mouth was one the poets could sing of. And most telling of all, could young Wood boast Boyd’s complete and utter intelligence?

Could anyone?

The matter settled, I smiled comfortably back at the nymph, basted my stinging fingertips with butter, and set about my food with an easy mind.

Bloomers was two down from Wood, and kept leaning forward, trying to engage him in conversation. Wood responded well enough, but for some reason he looked also at me, until finally Lord Ian (tucking in beside me) snorted to himself and recalled his manners and introduced us. (In the normal way of things this would have occurred with cocktails before dinner, but being so very low in my mind I had skipped this pleasant hour and come direct to the dining table.)

“Mr. Monaghan,” said Lord Ian, squinting at me and moving his knife away from my left hand, “my nephew, Elijah Wood, from the United States.”

I nodded my head in lieu of a handshake, and he glimmered at me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Monaghan.”

“Call me Dommie, what?”

“Call me Doodle.”

“Jolly good, jolly good. From whence in the States do you hail?”

“California,” Doodle answered. “Although I like it so much here I think I may stay.”

I saw Bloomers getting ready to make an ass of himself with some monstrous declaration about how lovely that would be, so I stepped quickly in. “What is it you like best, if I may ask?”

“The people. The young gentlemen in particular seem so much more interesting than the ones back home. Much more interesting.” And he blushed prettily and took a hurried bite of his pasty.

So there was no doubt at least that the lad was on Bloomers’s team. Or mine, if it came to it–no. It would not. I smiled and we fumbled our way on in conversation. I was just working my way round to what a capital fellow Bloomers was, when it happened to out that Doodle there liked modern music.

Well, you’ll hardly find a fellow more in love with modern in the whole of the isle than Dominic Monaghan, and I told the lad so with enthusiasm. Before I knew it he was engaged to come up to my room after supper and look at my phonograph records.

A noise like a foghorn interrupted our merry chat, and I realized Bloomers had cleared his throat and was glaring at me. I daresay it was the look Barrabas got from Peter when he was set free while Pete’s pal Jesus was busy carrying his cross toward Gethsemane. I recalled my mission and hastily invited Bloomers to join us. “No one appreciates music like Bloomers,” I said, and Doodle looked interested in this. So Bloomers was mollified and all was right with the world again.

After supper I was leaning on the mantelpiece in the library with a fag, watching Bloomers (orange juice) try to charm Doodle (orange juice) and Lord Ian and the ancient uncle (brandy) examine some book or other, when Boyd spoke into my ear.

I jumped a mile high and let out a squeak. He put one hand on my arm to steady me, and I thought immediately that perhaps in future I should try swooning near him, to see what that might net me. I filed the thought away for later consideration and forced my vocal apparatus into compliance. “Boyd! How do you do that?”

“Do what, sir?”

“Appear like–oh, never mind. Why are you here?”

He leaned conspiratorially close, and I concentrated so hard upon smelling him–soap and clean linen and something else, probably just sheer sexual magnetism, honestly–that I did not hear what he said. “I beg your pardon?”

“Miss Olivia caught an earlier train down than I had been told, sir,” he repeated. “She arrived just before dinner with some friends and had a tray in her room, but she is expected in the drawing room.”

“And so you came to warn me.”

“Exactly, sir.”

I gazed upon him with open adoration. “You are a wonder, Boyd, have I said so before?”

“You flatter me, sir.” He looked almost unsettled–was that a flush upon his neck? Probably just the proximity of the fireplace.

“Not half as much as I jolly well should, Boyd.” I stared at him for a moment longer. “Well. Thank you very much, it is appreciated. I think… I think I feel something coming on?”

“Perhaps a headache, sir–you often get them when you drive such a distance in one day.” All solicitous concern, was my Boyd.

“Do I? Oh, ah. Indeed. Yes. Thank you, Boyd.” I cocked my head. “Perhaps a hot bath would set my weary brow for rest.”

“I’ll see to it, sir.” Boyd nodded and vanished–really, it was odd how he could do that.

And so I slipped out of the library and up the stairs, after informing Doodle and Bloomers that I would regretfully have to postpone our soiree.

~*~*~*~

Thank heavens, say I, for indoor plumbing and for bathrooms en suite. Thank heavens most vociferously for gentlemen’s gentlemen who know exactly what temperature one likes best and which scents soften one’s skin but do not detract from one’s manliness.

Thank heavens, in other words, for William Boyd.

William. That was his given name, and I had never breathed it in his presence. I saved it, like a token, for my most private moments. If it had been a lock of his hair I could not have worn it closer to my heart.

Lying in the warm, fragrant water, I thought his name to myself.

William.

If only he knew. If only he knew how I longed for his touch, how much I desired him. If only I could make it clear that it was not a servant-master relationship I craved for the two of us. I knew there were men in my position who had tumbled servants, from chambermaids to housekeepers, from stable boys to butlers, but it wasn’t like that, for me. I didn’t want to tumble William.

I wanted to be tumbled by him, to be kissed breathless by that sweet mouth, to feel it move ruthlessly down my body–I had quite the erection now, and I began to stroke myself lightly–to see those rosy lips tight around my equally rosy cock–mmm, it felt good, I sped things up a bit. I wanted William to twist my arms behind my back and slide one of those small, delicate hands past the waistband of my trousers. Use my braces to tie my wrists, perhaps–that was a good image, I was starting to breathe more quickly–and push my trousers and pants half down, wrinkle them–“I’ll iron them,” I moaned into the steamy air–push one finger and then two into me, wet only by his own tongue. Spiral those fingers around. Shove me into the wall, so my erection ground into it, his other hand brutal on that throbbing flesh–I was working myself hard now, splashing water all about–and then I wanted him against me, wanted to feel the head of his cock pushing against my entrance, thrusting into me while he twisted and slammed my own hard-on with his hand. Wanted Boyd–William!–to pound me into the wall and through it and onto the floor and through that, fuck me senseless until he came hard in me and I came and–

I came, and the effort it took not to scream his name was an habitual one.

I slid down further into the tub, breathing hard and watching my own thick, white stuff spiral lazily in the warm water over my submerged belly.

Nothing for it now but to run the water again. I sighed and set to, mopping up the water on the floor while I waited for the bath to fill, and wishing I weren’t so familiar with the chore.

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