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Summer Fair: New Anthology for Charity from Story Penners—giveaway and exclusive excerpt

Summer Fair Anthology

There’s a new queer romance anthology out that benefits RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) – Summer Fair.

Summer festivals bring the aroma of popcorn, the excitement of rides, and the promise of real-life enchantment. Seven authors bring you original love stories, each set at a different summer celebration. You’ll experience the thrill of the Chicago World’s fair through the eyes of a plucky girl reporter and the quiet desperation of a teen working a summer job at a traveling carnival. Get whisked away on romantic journeys around the world from a sweet Texas Dewberry Festival to a lantern-filled temple celebration to a surprisingly rowdy New England Founders Day. Whether it’s the magic of a Renaissance Fair, the excitement of a Theater Retreat, or the pulse of a Music Festival, you’re sure to get geared up for all things summer with this delightful new collection.

Note: Most stories are fantasy, but this anthology also includes historical, paranormal and contemporary works.

Including:

  • Riding the Wave by Annabeth Leong
  • Amaryllis and New Lace by Gregory L. Norris
  • Salty and Sweet by R.L. Merrill
  • Dewberry Kisses by CM Peters
  • All the World by Marie Piper
  • Carnie by Sienna Saint-Cyr
  • The Storyteller’s Side by Harley Easton
  • With Stars in His Eyes by Arden de Winter

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Universal Link | Goodreads | QueeRomance Ink


Giveaway

The authors are giving away a $75 Amazon gift card – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4723/?


Excerpt

Summer Fair meme

From “All the World” by Marie Piper

She decided to do something bold. “Come up in the wheel with me.”

“I’ve been up in the wheel,” but Cathleen didn’t say no. “You don’t have to buy me a ticket.”

“But I want to,” Anna said. “I want to go up there with you. The line is long. It may be the last thing I get to do today, and though I’m terrified I can’t pass up the chance to do something that is once-in-a-lifetime.”

“No, I imagine you can’t.” Wiping her face, Cathleen finished her hot dog. Anna did the same, and they returned their glasses to the Pabst booth and then got into the long line for the wheel. Children bounced in line, excited to go up but bored with waiting. Men smoked and sent the wafts of smoke across all the people in line, and more than one person looked nervous about going into the sky in the steel contraption.

Anna and Cathleen bought tickets and, by virtue of space, were shoved together as they shuffled slowly to the front.

“Mercy, but it’s high.” Anna felt as if she might be sick.

“You don’t have to do it, you know.”

“But I’ve already bought a ticket.”

“Someone’d pay you for it.”

“But I’ve come all this way and I’m here standing underneath it. Besides, what’ll I do if I don’t—go look at the Fisheries?”

She felt a warm hand take hers and nearly fainted. Cathleen had taken her hand. “Don’t be afraid. It’s fun. It really is.”

“Thank you.”

“And if it collapses and we die, at least we’ll die together.”

Anna groaned but did not take her hand away. Hand in hand, they reached the front of the line and waited with a group of thirty others for the next car to come down and to board. Cathleen pulled them to a windowed corner where they could both press against the glass.

Still, they held hands.

And when the car started to move, Anna squeezed hard from nerves without thinking. Cathleen ducked her head in and put her lips to Anna’s. It was brief, just a momentary touch, but then she whispered into Anna’s ear. “Don’t be afraid.”

Anna wasn’t. Cathleen’s lips against hers had taken away all the fear she had felt about the Ferris Wheel, and then some. With Cathleen beside her, their fingers entwined, she rode the car that rose into the air and beheld the entire fair in all directions before her. She saw the Coliseum of the Wild West show, and the balloon in the sky, and all the trains, and all the people, and all the way back to the basin where she’d first entered the fair off the Lake. The sun was just beginning to go down in the sky. Soon, it would be evening, and Anna would need to get on her way—but with the incredible views and the hand of the lovely girl in hers, and Anna’s heart swelled about to bursting. She could have wept at it all, at this perfect day.

The car started to descend.

“We get one more loop,” Cathleen said.

“I wish it was a hundred,” Anna replied, turning to her friend. “I wish we could stay here forever.” It was an honest confession.

Cathleen smiled, but sadly. With the displays below, Anna felt as if she could see all the world ahead of her. And all the world seemed so small and unimportant.


About the Authors

The brain child of Chicago romance author Marie Piper, the StoryPenners is a collection of fiction and romance authors dedicated to producing independent anthologies to support charitable causes. The StoryPenners has members from the Midwest, the West Coast, New England, Canada, England, and Australia.

Original Members: Marie Piper, Harley Easton, CM Peters, S.B. Roark, and Sienna Saint-Cyr

Contributing StoryPenners: Randi Perrin, Annabeth Leong, Gregory L. Norris, R.L. Merrill, Katey Tattrie, R. Diamond, Arden de Winter

Previous Anthologies:

Melt

Haunt

Author Websites:

http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/

https://www.harleyeaston.com/

http://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

http://www.mariepiper.com/contact/

https://siennasaintcyr.wordpress.com/

http://gregorylnorris.blogspot.com/

Other Worlds Ink logo

Inspiration for Carnie

When I was younger, I’d kind of ‘shut off’ emotionally. Not much affected me by my teen years. I was depressed, into cutting myself (mostly because I wanted to feel something and that was something I could feel), and I ended up working for the local fair. While the fair was run by local folks mostly, the rides were brought in by another party. The folks that ran the rides referred to themselves as Carnies.

Many aspects of my story are real and likely have that feel for that reason. I’ve changed names and scenarios, but there really was a very sweet man running the Tilt-O-Whirl and my friend and I did indeed ask him to ride it with us. We were the first to ever ask him and it really did bring him to tears. I’ve wondered how he’s doing over the years but each year brought a new carnival and different crew, so I never found out. I was sad when I realized he was never coming back.

It’s true that the rules are different when you work for a carnival. I was only fifteen and constantly being hit on by older men. They’d slam cups onto the counter and say, “Do me,” and most of them were complete jerks. And worse, tolerated jerks. But not all were like that. The man that ran the Tilt-O-Whirl was good to me. He watched out for me (and my friend). I didn’t have visible cutting scars then because I mostly kept that to areas people wouldn’t see, but I suspect he saw pain in me, just as I have my characters experience in the story. I saw his pain to.

That’s why I wrote this story the way I did. He’d once told me that no woman could ever love him. I wanted to give him a better story than that. This stranger that I only knew as Carnie Nine was my inspiration for this story. I hope he’s still around, that he’s found someone to love him, and that he one day reads this story and remembers the teen girls that asked him to ride the Tilt-O-Whirl with him.

Bio:

Sienna Saint-Cyr’s erotic fiction has appeared in the Love Slave books and Sexual Expression series; contemporary erotica in Silence is Golden and Goodbye Moderation: Lust, and romance in Melt, Haunt, and Summer Fair. She also writes nonfiction and flash fiction for several websites. Sienna owns and edits for SinCyr Publishing, an erotica company with a focus
on shifting rape culture one sexy story at a time. She also runs a nonprofit writing workshop and writes dark SF and literary fiction under her legal name.

Along with writing, Sienna speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on such sex-positive topics as a healthy body image, using sexuality to promote healing, enthusiastic consent, LGBTQIA, CPTSD, and navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships.

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Five shinies for Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song! (Release day review)

Five luminous stars to Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song. This novella is not a story of hot love or love at first sight, but rather a tale of the tenacity of a first spark between souls. Here Barwell’s prose style pleases as always, but it’s her ability to ferret out the secrets of the heart that shines above all.

Many of us already know the author has a gift for finding the human truth in historical times and events, and especially for seeing past the walls that veterans of war often—of necessity—build around their hearts. In On Wings of Song, her time-travelling pen (or keyboard, perhaps) takes the reader back to one of the most remarkable verifiable events of modern warfare—the Christmas Truce of 1914. Entrenched soldiers of Germany, France, England, and Scotland (the later three allied) in a number of places along a battlefront that already foretold the later horrors of WWI came together across narrow strips of no-mans-land to celebrate together a few hours of peace.

When German soldier Jochen Weber and Englishman Aiden Foster meet that under that extraordinary circumstance, it isn’t football or cards that help them overcome the initial awkwardness of the exchange, but a mutual love of literature and Aiden’s exceptional musical voice. Before they part, they (like others) exchange uniform buttons as pocket mementos, and each hopes for a someday when in a more lasting peace they may see one another again. The remaining years of war leave both men scarred, and life after war holds new challenges and little time or place for true healing. Both men retreat into the silence in which those who survive years of the worst of human cruelty often cloak their hearts—how can anyone who wasn’t there truly understand? Yet a spark of hope lives Jochen and Aiden’s hearts, sharing space with memory of the “enemy” whom they befriended on dark Christmas on a battlefield.

Barwell’s careful, sparsely adorned prose gives the reader an inside look at the redemption of truly broken hearts when long-sheltered sparks meld into flame. The fire burns painfully until it warms and comforts. This is not a long, arduous read, rather a brief but revealing journey into the heart of these two men, Jochen and Aiden, who come to love despite time, distance, and irreparable loss.

I heartily recommend On Wings of Song to those who love men, who love men who love men, and who treasure stories that paint the darkness with light and life.

Here is the buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5869

It’s 25% off at the moment, so now is a good time to snap it up. Or if you feel lucky, Anne will be chatting at the Dreamspinner Goodreads “forum thingy” on 12/28/14 from 4-6 EST, and there will be a giveaway. Win or not, it promises to be a great conversation!

If you want a little more info, here’s the blurb:

Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

And here’s Anne’s bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Visit Anne at her blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com or her website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/. You can contact her at anne0@xtra.co.nz.

Happy reading!

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Mending the Holes in History with Historical Fiction—article by Christopher Hawtorne Moss

Something a little different this week on sylvre.com—I’m delighted to welcome guest blogger Christopher Hawthorne Moss, author of Beloved Pilgrim, a YA transgender historical novel published by Harmony Ink Press. (As usual on sylvre.com, the cover image is the buy link, just click.)

Elias knows in his heart that despite his female body he is a man. When his twin brother dies suddenly he has the opportunity to live his truth by donning his armor and setting out for the adventure of a lifetime in the world-changing Crusade of 1101.

I remember when feminists coined the expression “herstory” to counteract the overt and subtle mascullinism of the word “History”. Of course, we all know that the “his” in “history” is not actually the masculine pronoun, but it was an acknowledgement that what we were taught in school was, in fact, the history of men. Women were a side issue. The impetus for developing “herstory” was to bring to light the equally central role of women in our past. The impact of this effort did more than just add female names and faces to the story of humanity. It helped change the way we looked at how we both learned of and interpreted our collective past. We stopped reciting the dates of battles and started looking at the records for clues to the actual lives of people of the past.

People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer deserve a history/herstory too. There is even less record of our lives. Much of what we have in the records consists mostly of religious diatribes and criminal records, for that was the interface between the dominant culture and us: their attempts to control our behavior through threats and punishment. Sadly, there is little alternative if you want to tell our story. The evidence of our lives and loves is at best spotty.

That’s where I believe historical fiction can mend our lack of a history. Intelligent people realize that times change, but every type of person alive today has existed in every era. If the estimate that ten percent of people are GLBTQ now, then we were in those numbers at every point in the history of humankind. The capable storyteller can see the forest for the trees, that is, see just where and how people like us found a way to be no matter when. It is our job, in essence, to tell the stories of our forebears in sexual identity. That the people we write about may or may not have actually lived is irrelevant. They are our history… our story. As Monique Wittig wrote:

“There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied. You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember . . . You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.”

Deprived of concrete records it is our job, and in the case of GLBTQ historical fiction sites such as Our Story – GLBTQ Historical Fiction, which I edit at http://www.glbtbookshelf.com, our purpose, to invent.

My novel, Where My Love Lies Dreaming, used the title of a Stephen Foster song to introduce the ourstrical, to coin a term, tale of two men from different cultures who make a life together in spite of intolerance and also in spite of the American Civil War. More ambitious, perhaps, is my current novel, Beloved Pilgrim, which attempts a plausible transgender character at the beginning of the 12th century CE. The main character is a woman who has known all her life that she is a man in heart and mind and takes the tragic event of her twin brother’s death to strike out as a knight, using his identity. The biological origins of transgenderism make it absolutely certain that people like this character did exist, everywhere and throughout time, and it is my job as a historical novelist to show how this could happen.

But where does plausibility come in? In the instance of Beloved Pilgrim clearly the surgical and pharmacological advances that would make sex reassignment possible are many centuries hence. Would a person even have the framework to realize he or she is not in the right body? The simple fact that ancient cultures, the Romans, Plains Indians, and Hindu, had transgender gods and traditions points to this being more than possible. On a practical level, could a female-bodied person really pass as a man? Yes. Our histories are full of examples of this, including surgeon James Barry, numerous Civil War soldiers, and others throughout time. The person would simply need to be clever and lucky. And as Elias tells Albrecht, people tend to see what they expect to see. I have a female body, but I was called “he” and “sir” just this morning.

It is the responsible novelist’s task to reason this out and represent it plausibly. It would be a mistake in Beloved Pilgrim for anyone to use the term “transgender”, an expression that will not exist for hundreds of years. But my own experience and my knowledge of historical examples tell me that the individual can and at least sometimes would have recognized when a body did not match a soul.

For more examples of how GLBTQ people may have lived and loved in times less tolerant and educated as now visit Our Story – GLBTQ Historical Fiction will provide a collecting place for that invention with book reviews and more. We want to hear about your work and your ideas. We want to know how you are writing another piece of “Our Story”.

Author Bio:
Christopher Hawthorne Moss wrote his first short story when he was seven and has spent some of the happiest hours of his life fully involved with his colorful, passionate and often humorous characters. Moss spent some time away from fiction, writing content for websites before his first book came out under the name Nan Hawthorne in 1991. He has since become a novelist and is a prolific and popular blogger, the historical fiction editor for the GLBT Bookshelf, where you can find his short stories and thoughtful and expert book reviews. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his husband of over thirty years and four doted upon cats.

He owns Shield-wall Productions. He welcomes comment from readers sent to christopherhmoss(at)gmail(dot)com and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author Tinnean’s *Bless Us With Content* (Dreamspinner Press)

Ashton Laytham came to Fayerweather, his uncle’s estate, as an orphan at the age of seven. Family and servants alike perceived Ashton as an unlovable child and shunned him; as an adult, the occasional illicit rendezvous aside, Ashton remains aloof and alone. When his uncle dies, yet more abuse falls upon Ashton’s shoulders: the estate is bankrupt and Ashton must make good on his uncle’s gaming debts.

With the family talisman stolen and the suspects fled, Ashton faces certain ruin until the arrival of Geo Stephenson, who holds all of Sir Laytham’s IOUs. Geo proposes a solution: Ashton will accommodate him in his bed, thereby paying off the debt. Attracted to Geo in spite of himself and desperate for any human kindness, Ashton agrees… never expecting to lose his heart to a man who claims he will never give his.

Tinnean has been writing since the third grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn’t survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.

It was with the advent of the family’s second computer—the first intimidated everyone—that her writing took off, enhanced in part by fanfiction, but mostly by the wonder that is copy and paste. While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters.

A New Yorker at heart, she resides in southwest Florida with her husband and two computers.

Ernest Hemingway’s words reflect Tinnean’s devotion to her craft:

Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.”

If you’d like to sample her earlier works, they can be found at www.angelfire.com/f15/tinnssinns/Welcome.

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, featured authors, just a category, M/M romance

Excerpt: Bless Us With Content (Rating is X, for readers 18 or older!)

Later that same evening, just before the supper tray was brought in, John came looking for me in the billiards room.

“Awful.”

I glanced up from where I was half-lying on the green baize of the table ready to make my shot, but I refused to say a word.

He shuffled uncomfortably, and I could not help but notice the bulge that again marred the smooth line of his trousers. I was sorely tempted to drop to my knees, unbutton his trousers, and free his prick. I wanted to know what he tasted like. Instead, I lowered my spectacles on my nose and observed him from over them.

“I… I want… ” He licked his lips and gestured helplessly, an action one seldom associated with a Hood.

“You will have to tell me what it is you want, John. I am not psychical.” Meanly, I decided that he would have to ask. For too many years I had been shunted aside in favour of his brothers, and I could not resist just a tiny bit of revenge.

His teeth worried his lower lip. It was obvious he was torn. He sent me a glance from beneath his lashes, but I waited patiently.

“What you were doing in the stable… ”

“Making love to Jemmy?”

Furious colour mounted his cheeks. Did he truly think I would denigrate the act, simply because my partner was a servant?

He avoided my eyes but nodded. “Yes. That.”

“You will speak to no one about what you saw.”

“NO! I would not!” Of course he would not. He swallowed. “I… I want… ” The smooth line of his trousers was still marred by the engorged shape of his prick. John might be embarrassed; he might be unhappy with the state of affairs, but he was still aroused.

He turned away, and my eyes dropped to the tails of his evening coat. I couldn’t help but imagine the firm curves that they covered. I’d seen them a time or two when as boys, he and his brothers would strip down to their drawers and go swimming in the pond near the folly. I’d joined them just one time, still with hopes they would befriend me, but I’d been wrong. After they’d very nearly drowned me, I’d never again made that mistake.

“You want to bugger me?” I gave a harsh laugh. No need to sugarcoat it. John would never see it as making love to me. “Why should what you want make a jot of difference to me?”

He shook his head, and seemed to have to force the words out. “Not… not that.”

It took a moment for his admission to sink in, and then I took pity on him. “You want me to… sodomize you, John?” I dared not call it making love, dared not bring up the word love at all.

He glanced at me over his shoulder and nodded jerkily, his face as pale now as it had been flushed. “Just this once, Awful. And… and you must promise me no one will ever find out! If Robin ever learned of this… ”

“You trust me not to reveal your dastardly secret?” He must want it – I would not permit myself to think he might perchance want me – very badly. “I do believe I am flattered. However, you need have no worry. This Laytham is honourable in his own way.”

Besides, Robert would kill me for touching his brother. Did John think I was unaware of that? Did he truly think me that witless?

I brushed how he must view me from my mind – there were better things to think of, such as how I wanted to crowd him against the wall, my fingers locked in his, keeping him motionless. How I wanted to rock my hips against his, allowing him to feel my arousal against his arse.

But perhaps he felt at a disadvantage, his delectable arse presented to me. As if he knew where my thoughts were travelling, he flushed once again and turned to face me.

I took a step toward him, and while he stood firm, his eyes widened and his lips parted. What would he do if instead of drawing in a breath, as he was endeavouring to do, he drew in my tongue instead?

I worried that any precipitate actions would spook him. I’d always been good with nervous animals, and John was no different. I smiled ruefully and approached him no further.

“No one will ever learn from me that you want to be in my bed, and I promise you will enjoy it very much.” In fact, I intended to make this so good that a single time would not be enough.

“Then let’s get this done… ”

I backed away from him, and it actually seemed as if he would reach for me, but then his hands fell, fisted at his side.

“I have a condition of my own though, John.”

“What?” he asked harshly. “I can promise you nothing… ”

“I am aware of that. Do you think I am desirous of a pledge of undying love? How missish,” I mocked. I would have wagered my soul for that, but I was not so foolish as to wish for what I could never have. “My condition is a simple one: you will cease calling me ‘Awful’!”

“That is all?” Again he bit down on his lower lip, although this time apparently harder than he’d intended, for he winced, and I felt the blood flow more heatedly through my veins, wanting nothing so much as to soothe that tiny hurt. “But how shall I explain that to Robin?”

I shrugged. “Tell him it is childish, tell him you have outgrown it, tell him what you will.” I turned as if to walk away.

“Very well,” he agreed. I faced him once more, an eyebrow raised, and he concluded reluctantly, “Ashton.”

“Shall we give supper the go-by tonight?”

“NO!”

I could have sworn in frustration, but I forced my expression to remain bland, inquiring.

“No,” he said in a more moderate tone. “Everything must appear as usual. We cannot be seen leaving at the same time.”

“Very well,” I conceded, “but know this, John. If you call me ‘Awful’ – ”

“I promised I would not, didn’t I?” His reply was surly, and for a moment he was not in the least attractive.

And yet I found I didn’t care. I was about to have my fondest desire fulfilled, and to that end he could be as surly as he chose.

He hurried from the billiards room, and I stared after him for a moment before I finished knocking balls into the pockets. Then I laid the cue aside, smoothed my hands over the placket of my trousers, tugged at the sleeves of my tailcoat, and left the billiards room.

The family was ensconced in the rose sitting room as I strolled in.

“Ah. Deigning to join us at last, Awful?” Robert raised his teacup to his lips.

“My word! Do you mean to say I’ve been missed? How remiss of me! Had I known, I should have put in an appearance much earlier!”

He scowled at me. On those rare occasions when I responded to his needling, I invariably succeeded in making naught but a fool of myself. But knowing I’d soon have his brother beneath me- The corner of my mouth turned up in a smirk, and his eyes narrowed.

“You’re in a jolly good mood.”

“And why should I not be? It’s my birthday, and I’ve received a splendid gift- ”

“Hell and the devil!” John’s cup had slipped from his fingers to land on the Savonnerie carpet. He was pale, and there was an almost frantic look to his eyes. Did he fear I’d say something aloud, gloating over his perceived weakness for a male lover?

“… from Uncle Eustace,” I concluded in all innocence.

“Really, John!” Aunt Cecily protested. We all knew better than to swear in her presence.

“I beg your pardon, Aunt Cecy, Arabella.” He scowled down at the broken cup.

“Well, enjoy the gift while you may, Awful,” Robert snapped as he went to the bell-pull to summon Colling, “for I’ve no doubt Sir Eustace will take it back when it best suits him!”

I knew that even better than he, for my uncle never gifted the Hoods or Arabella with anything, leaving that to his wife.

I ignored Robert’s hurtful words and turned to Aunt Cecily, who was offering me a cup of tea. “Thank you, Aunt, but no.” I had no desire for any of the tiny sandwiches or iced cakes on the supper tray either, for John would soon be mine. “I believe I’ll retire early.”

He began choking.

“John, what’s amiss with you tonight?” Robert pounded him on the back.

“Enough. Enough! You mean beyond me spilling tea all over my favourite waistcoat? Nothing, Robin.”

“Well, you do seem to be at sixes and sevens this evening.” William picked up the pieces of John’s cup and put them on the supper tray.

“It’s nothing I tell you!”

I swallowed a smile; John did seem disgruntled. Too often had I been the object of the brothers’ mockery, and in spite of my feelings for him, I couldn’t help but take a bit of mean pleasure in his mishap, for that was indeed his favourite waistcoat.

I retrieved a candle and walked out, of course unnoticed by anyone.

Colling was bustling toward me.

“Mr John’s spilled his tea. I’m sure you’ll deal with it in your usual competent manner.”

“Indeed, Mr Ashton.” He went on to answer the bell, and I made my way to the still room.

How much time would I have, I wondered, before John came to me? I took one of the bars of the soap Aunt Cecily had made from the receipt the first Sir Osburt’s lady brought with her from her homeland, and then strolled up to my bedroom. It wouldn’t do to appear as if I were in a rush.

Upon opening the door, I couldn’t prevent a sigh. My room was in darkness save for the faint moonlight that drifted in, for the curtains weren’t drawn, and the hearth was cold.

I set the candle on the nightstand and went to the windows. It was the work of only a moment to close out the night.

After I lit the oil lamps, I tugged the bell-pull. Usually I’d make do with chill sheets, but not this night.

Soon a fire was blazing in the hearth, warming the room. I knew it would be a while before a housemaid answered my summons, so I took the opportunity to have a quick wash.

Perhaps the spicy scent of the soap would be an additional lure to John. It was said to be an attraction to a lover.

I found a nightshirt that hadn’t been worn. It was uncomfortable against my skin – perhaps that was why I’d never worn it – but I didn’t anticipate wearing it for long.

There was a timid tap on my door, and I drew on my dressing gown before calling out, “Come.”

“Y-you rang, Mr Ashton?” It was a tweenie, one of the youngest maids on staff. Of course, none of the housemaids would stoop to answer my call, although if it was one of the Hoods ringing they would stumble over themselves to do their bidding.

“I want a bed warmer, Maggie.”

“M-me, sir?” She turned so white I thought she would fall in a faint.

“I want you to fetch me a warming pan,” I clarified.

“Oh! Yes, sir!” She scurried out as if the hounds of hell were on her heels.

I shook my head. What had they told her below stairs?

***

I paced from the window to the door.

Everything was in readiness. My bed was nicely warm and the little jar of lotion that Jem had given me was sitting on my nightstand.

All that was needed now was John.

I worried my lower lip. Should I have told him I would go to him?

But no, the possibility that Robert might see me entering John’s room would have resulted in his brother denying my attentions, no matter how much he might desire them.

I paced to the window once more, brushed aside the curtain, and stared out into the darkness beyond my window. There was nothing to see, but it was better than staring about my room, pondering if I should have had flowers brought from the conservatory, if I should have brought up some of the sweet-smelling candles Aunt Cecily favoured.

The door opened. I turned and all worrisome thoughts fled my mind.

“John,” I breathed. “You came.”

“I… ” He looked uncertain, nothing like the cocksure young man who’d been one of the banes of my existence, and I felt my heart melt.

“Hush.” I crossed the room and made sure my door was locked. “You won’t regret this.”

He gave a harsh laugh. “I already regret it.” His gaze travelled about the room, touching briefly on the fireplace, the armoire, the small table that held a basin and ewer, shying away from the bed, which was, or so I thought, invitingly turned down.

Well, no point in keeping him on tenterhooks. I removed my dressing gown, letting it puddle at my feet, and went to him.

“You’re overdressed.” Without giving him time to think, I began to strip him of his clothes, letting them lie where they fell.

“M-must I be naked?”

“You’ll be more comfortable.”

He stood there, not helping, but not hindering either.

And in spite of his apparent reluctance, his prick was engorged by the time I had him naked.

“Very handsome.” I reached out to run my fingertips along his length, to cup his testicles, to rub lightly the skin behind them, ghosting cross his fundament.

“Oh!” His eyes widened in apparent surprise, and a drop of liquid formed at the tip of his prick.

“Haven’t you done this before?”

“You know I haven’t!”

How would I know that? We weren’t the best of friends, indeed weren’t any sort of friends in the least. However, I kept those words unsaid.

“Have- er- have you?”

“You saw me in the stable this afternoon.”

He flushed.

“But yes, I’ve done it enough to know the ins and outs of the deed.” I smiled, but he didn’t seem to comprehend my little joke.

Oh, well. No matter. We were here to fuck, not to have a dalliance.

Still… I wanted him panting with need of me.

I caught the liquid on my thumb and brought it to my mouth. My eyes on his, I let my tongue sweep out and taste him.

He frowned. “That’s- ”

“Delicious. You taste delicious, John.” I could have got drunk on him, but that wasn’t something I was about to confide in him, not just then.

Perhaps one day?

“How… ” Tremors ran through his body, and he licked his lips. “How do you want me?”

“Lie down, please.”

He obeyed without further comment, and his legs fell open as if of their own accord.

I disposed of my nightshirt as quickly as possible, for fear he might change his mind.

His eyes drifted down my body, drawn to the spot where my prick rose thick and proud. He swallowed heavily, but didn’t seem inclined to bolt just yet.

“I won’t hurt you, I promise.” I kept my spectacles on, the better to see him with, and climbed onto the bed.

“Why not? It’s what I’d- ” He bit back the remainder of his words, not that that was necessary. I was no fool. I knew full well that had our positions been reversed, John would have taken great pleasure in – well, perhaps not hurting me, for he was a Hood and thus an honourable man – but in cowing me.

Conversation at a time like this was overrated. I leaned forward and took him in my mouth, pushing his foreskin back with my lips.

A keening wail emerged from him, and his entire body stiffened as he thrust his hips up, driving his prick deep into my throat. Had no one ever done this for him before? Oh, I believed him when he said he’d never lain with another boy, but surely the lasses of Harrow on the Hill hadn’t been blind to his many attractions!

I gripped the base of his prick, giving it a squeeze, and drew off.

“NO!” he wailed again. He reached for me frantically, attempting to push my head down, and if I weren’t so aroused myself I would have been amused by his neediness.

However, I knew it would be all over with him if I continued, and as much as I loved him, I was not about to let John achieve satisfaction unless I did as well, for I didn’t doubt he’d catch his breath, gather his clothes, and make a hasty departure.

He had said this was to be the only time, but I wanted more than one single occasion, and I intended to see that in the end, he did as well.

“Ashton, if you don’t stop larking about, I swear I’ll draw your cork!”

He hadn’t called me ‘Awful,’ and that gave me cause to hope.

I reached for the jar of lotion and scooped a goodly amount onto my fingertip.

I worked the lotion into his fundament, and he gasped and tightened around my finger. I made no move to press in deeper or to withdraw. Abruptly the grip loosened, and I pushed my finger in further until I found his sweet spot.

This time the sound he made was more like a desperate mewl.

I removed my finger, coated two with the lotion, and returned to preparing him for the invasion that was to come.

He gripped my shoulders, his nails digging in almost painfully, but he was thrusting back against my fingers, and this also gave me hope.

“Are you enjoying this, John?”

“Are you mad?”

I stopped rubbing that spot within his back passage.

He bucked against my hand, twisted and turned, but I didn’t give him more of what he was now desperate to have.

“Yes, I’m enjoying this! Dear god, what are you doing to me?” he whimpered. I withdrew my fingers, and he became even more frantic. “Please! Please!”

“Onto your side, if you please.”

He obeyed with alacrity, unwittingly raising his right leg, giving me access to what lay in the shadow of his buttocks.

“Yes, dear one.” As much as it had given me pleasure to hear him beg in my fantasies, now I found it degrading.

I coated my prick and settled myself behind him, entering him with a single, swift movement. The last thing I wanted was for him to stiffen and possibly cause himself pain.

It was fortunate that the rest of the family resided on the first floor, for he howled.

“John?”

“More!” he panted. “More!”

I slid an arm around his shoulders and gently stroked the curve of his Adam’s apple, all the while lazily making lo- buggering him.

“Harder! Harder!” he demanded.

I knew he was going to be sore in the morning, but I couldn’t deny his request. I curled the fingers of my right hand around his prick and stroked him to the rhythm of my prick pounding into him.

It didn’t take long after that. With another howl, he spent into my hand, and the clenching of his inner muscles pulled me over the abyss after him.

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