Michael followed Simon through the sitting room to a door opposite his own bedchamber. He’d seen Simon’s athletic trousers lying on the bedroom carpet, but not the jock strap. He knew beneath the shimmering robe there lay the chance of a lifetime. An athlete’s groin, encased in a bit of cotton, the ass-end open to meet his maddened cock.
Michael took a deep breath and followed Simon across the threshold of the second chamber. It was the same size as the other, and the bed was the same heavy mahogany, canopied, yet without the frills one might expect in such Victorian excess.
He saw right away that the headboard, unlike the one on Simon’s bed, was a series of dowels, stout, carved and deeply burnished. He hardened at the thought of Simon’s wrists tied to those same dowels with his own silken neck scarves. He saw an image of the man twisting and scowling, pretending to seek his freedom. Yes, this bed would suit him fine.
Simon stood erect at the door, his eyes already seeking the exit. Michael, close to him, turned and grazed his groin with his own trousers. “All mine, lad?”
“Yes.” Simon’s voice sounded as though he were suffocating.
Michael refused to take pity. He reached one finger across to Simon’s swollen jaw. “Better?” He drew his thumb from near the curled, angry mouth all the way to his throat.
Simon jerked his head away, avoiding his eyes.
“D’ye want to know what I found out about ye, lad?” He did not wait for Simon to answer. His thumb continued from his throat to the V of his dressing gown. He slid it inside, touching cool flesh that nevertheless burned his skin. “Ye’re hard, lad. Yet soft as the silk of this robe. Ye’re a man, yet a young boy just finding what’s in his pocket.”
Ah, God, Simon’s head was bowed. He was listening.
“Please. Come lie wi’ me a while. I’ve a need to be next to ye.”
When Simon’s dark, lustrous hair touched his chest, Michael almost exploded. He put his finger under the man’s chin and raised his mouth to meet his. Simon’s surly, sulky lips were aching to be bitten, silenced into submission.
He began by putting his entire mouth over Simon’s, loving the way the other man gnashed his teeth and twisted his lips, fighting to free himself. He drew on it, long and deep, biting down until Simon’s tongue intervened. He seized the tongue, suckling it like a teat, like a soft cock.
They kissed for long moments, while Michael drew Simon’s body close to his groin. When Simon’s tongue grazed his own, Michael groaned into his mouth. “Yes, lad, yes. Come lie wi’ me a while.”
Simon broke free. He turned to the door, not looking at Michael at all. He spoke to the sitting room beyond.
“I rise early. You will find an extra flat key under the wingback seat cushion. Good night.”
He fled, while Michael stood cursing his own adamant need.
A heartbeat later, he was following Simon across the plush carpet. He caught him in the middle of the floor and brought him down from behind—hard—laying all his superior weight into Simon’s back and wedging one massive calf between his knees. Simon fought back, jamming his shoulder and elbow into his solar plexus. Michael, laughing, caught his arm and twisted it behind, knowing he had the advantage of surprise and of the other man’s sudden passion.
He twisted the man around to face him. Simon, trying not to breathe hard, lay in front of him, his eyes a molten metal, his robe open. Michael looked down at the jock strap, filled to bursting with Simon’s own insistent erection.
“God, Simon, I want ye.” With both hands he pulled the scrap of cloth down, letting it catch on the bulb of his cock, then sliding it past his balls. He left it somewhere around his calves, a reminder of the man’s athletic promise.
Here on the luxuriant carpet lay the lover he had wanted his entire life. He was tall, muscular, full of storm and fight. His cock lifted like a cudgel, a warning. His knees were up, his balls tight, hiding the sweetest part of the pie. Michael licked his lips and descended on Simon.
Holding him by the hips, Michael began to lick the long shaft. It seemed to throb as his tongue slid down the length of it, and he saw in the soft gaslight that it was almost purple with hammering blood. When he reached the balls, hard as a fist, he slicked them all the way into his mouth. Simon’s entire ass came off the rug, and Michael heard his sharp intake of breath. Slowly letting them loose, he slavered and fed again and again, slow and steady. He slid his mouth to the tip.
By now, Michael heard soft moans and felt Simon’s body rise and fall, a steady rhythm telling him how fast to go. He tongued the glans, he licked the ridge, and finally, he lapped the hard shaft deep as he could. Here was the end of the seeking because he tasted the sweet brandy on the tip of the prick. Damn! Trying to hold back, Michael began to come, and Simon did, too. Both men poured out their passion, while the high pile rug seemed to enclose them in its thick embrace.
Michael had felt the climax as a soldier might feel the onslaught of his foe, fighting it, trying to hold out for the deep hole waiting for his flesh. But the thought of this dark, desirable man thrashing under his own moving mouth had proved his undoing. His climax was as heady, as prolonged and breath stealing as any he’d ever felt.
When it was over, Michael pulled himself up to look at Simon’s face. The eyes were as luminous as before, but now Simon’s mouth seemed almost relaxed, accepting the unleashing of his pent up desires. His lips were swollen from Michael’s frenzied biting. He shuddered with renewed passion.
Again, Michael’s finger traced his lover’s mouth, then his beard-roughened jaw line. “Lie wi’ me this night, Simon. I promise only to hold ye. I promise.”
Simon said nothing at all. In one lithe movement, he stood and tied the sash of his robe, miraculously still intact, and looked down at Michael.
“You will keep your distance, McCree. One yielding was a miracle. I’ll grant you one back-alley victory. Two in one evening are more than I’ll allow ever again.”
He bent to retrieve his athletic strap, then turned and walked to his room. Michael heard the latch slide shut with an emphatic slap of metal on wood.
He lay for long minutes on the sumptuous rug, sinking into the warmth of the fibers, still feeling the exuberance of his climax, remembering the passion and then the surrender in Simon’s eyes.
After a while he, too, stood and sought his own bed.
* * *
He was awakened by an insistent rapping on the outside apartment door. Knowing it could not be Simon, he almost bellowed, “Go away!”
“Mr. McCree, ’tis Mrs. Gallagher. The landlady. Ye must open, or I’ll come in.”
“Then ye wish to gaze on a naked man? For shame, missus.” He grinned at the open bedroom door, deliberately left ajar by Simon Hart. He had slept in his baggy trousers, and now he slid out of bed, reluctant to wake fully.
He walked through the sitting room and opened the door with a suddenness that clearly startled the prim elderly woman standing on the threshold. “Here ye see me, lovely lass. Now what can ye need wi’ me?”
The woman’s sallow cheeks suffused with color, her pale green eyes trapped by fluttering lashes. Michael’s grin widened, and so did the door.
“Ye wish to enter me private rooms. Will the neighbors not talk?”
“Hush, now. Mr. Hart told me ye’d need clean linens, early, and the lavatory.” She held an armful of white cloths out to him. “Ye’ll make your own bed. The facilities lie down the hall, second door to the left. Ye’re slated from six of the clock to six and a quarter.”
“An’ what time of the clock have ye now, chukky?”
“’Tis—’tis almost six now.”
“Go raibh maith agat,” he said in his most courtly tone, thanking her with a wink and a waggling knuckle under the chin.
She turned and fled from the doorway.
The facilities were just barely adequate—an old-fashioned water basin, a toilet, and a small bathtub with claws for feet. The tub was an incongruous cast iron enclosure, too small for a normal-sized person. He sat on the toilet wondering how any healthy man could finish all his business in fifteen minutes, then he decided the next one in line could wait. The bathtub was welcome, even though he imagined the hot water would soon turn tepid. He had soiled himself and his trousers, too, last night. But at least the rug had been spared.
He threw back his head and laughed. Yes, at least he’d emptied his musket while sucking Simon’s cock. He’d do it any day. Twice if he had to.
After a hasty lathering, he let the water run while he rinsed the soap from his skin. He stood on the cold linoleum and toweled his wet body, still feeling good about last night. Simon had pretended to reject him—but only after a resounding climax. His new flat-mate wanted him all right. The time was not quite right. But they were close.
* * *
Michael left the newspaper building at ten of the morning and caught a tram to the docks. He got off at Fisherman’s Street and went to his old flat.
No one was there, a fact which did not surprise him. Aunt Maureen worked all day at a ball-bearing factory, a job she had held all during the war and ever since. His cousins, too, were day workers, two on the docks and one at a coal works.
He went to a corner of the tiny room where his former bed stood, a small cot, and he dumped his clothes onto the sheet, grey from age and someone’s insistent scrubbing. Two trousers, four shirts, a few pair of socks, his bowler and a woolen flat cap. His golf clothes and equipment were already stowed in a separate bag.
Before drawing the sheet into a knot, he looked around. A shame, really. After three years, he had nothing in this flat he’d be willing to carry as extra weight. In his billfold he had one old photograph of his family. He wore no rings or other jewelry, only a watch. Without remorse, he gathered the sheet together and tied it in the middle. He drew his driver from the golf bag, inserted it through the knot, and hoisted the bundle to his shoulder. He dug a key from his trousers and left it on a small dressing table near the cot. Grasping the club’s handle, he left the flat for the last time.
His former lodgings were close to the rug warehouse where Simon kept his office, so Michael decided to walk. A ten-minute excursion found him looking up at the crumbling brick façade, wondering what he’d do if Simon had left. He shrugged mentally and climbed the stairs to his workplace.
The door was half open. Michael dropped his knapsack and golf bag onto the floor at his feet. He walked silently to the door and looked inside.
The investigator was sitting at a huge mahogany desk, in a hideous swivel chair, and he was turning to and fro, to and fro. His arms were crossed in front of him, and his head was down.
Michael could tell his new friend was meditating. Without betraying his presence, he stood by the door for a while watching him, before he walked quietly down the long, corridor-like room to be closer. Simon rocked and swayed, and Michael could hear his words as he moved. “Twelve-bore ball. So close, Sargent. How? Why?”
Michael noticed a square of linen paper was lying on top of a blotter, along with a fountain pen and inkwell. As he walked nearer, he could see three or four words scrawled on the paper.
“Simon.” Michael spoke in a low tone, loath to interrupt him, yet he did not want the man to notice him suddenly and be angry at him for entering without knocking.
Simon’s startled eyes fastened on him.
Michael cringed inside as he saw Simon’s fierce scowl. “God, man, will you not let me breathe?”
“Ah, sorry, lad, but I need to be here.”
Simon continued to glare at him, unrelenting. Michael noted with satisfaction that his chin was still swollen from his fist…and his lower lip from his ravening bites.
After a long silence, Simon gestured at the only other chair in the room, a straight-backed wooden affair six feet from the desk with no cushion on the seat. Michael drew it backwards and straddled it, his large thighs open. He was conscious his crotch had grown to immense proportions, hidden in the baggy kaffies, imprisoned behind the chair rungs. He crossed his arms on the back, his eyes caressing Simon’s expressive face, waiting for him to lose his testy edge.
At last, Simon’s curiosity seemed to overcome his anger. “Well? Explain this strange need.”
“I’m for helping ye, lad. I can an’ I will take care of a few extraneous matters while ye solve…other affairs.”
Simon stood and leaned onto the menacing desk, his knuckles white against the blotter on top. “Look, McCree—”
“Yes. I appreciate your, ah, newfound interest—”
“I’m a man of various talents, Simon. I can an’ I will ease your mind from other things. Put me to the test. I’ll not ask a ha’pence to prove it to ye.”
Simon sat down, hard. His face seemed to soften a bit. “Do you think you could track down the nefarious stealer of two valuable dogs? And see to their well being?”
“D’ye mean can I shake down a penny thief an’ pat a couple of pooches? Aye. Wi’ me eyes closed.”
“Then carry this letter of introduction to a Widow O’Claren. Take this pesky case from my shoulders.” Simon reached into a drawer and drew out a clean piece of crisp white paper. He took a few minutes to write a brief paragraph and pushed the sheet across the desk. “It’s a small case, but it could pay next month’s rent and more besides. I would be obliged to you. Twelve-ten Ridgemont West.”
Michael stood and picked up the paper, not bothering to read it. “I have a few belongings on the landing. May I leave them here?”
Michael, undaunted, walked behind the desk, close to Simon. “Don’t act as though we’re strangers, lad.” He kept his voice light, although he felt a strange kind of pain in his chest.
When Simon looked up, he traced his jaw line with his thumb. “I’ll leave ye. But don’t ever think ye can pat me on the butt an’ dismiss me. I took ye once, fair an’ square. An’ I’ll take ye again. Never doubt it.”
He turned and left, reappearing only to throw his shabby belongings onto the flooring. He closed the door with a certain finality and walked down the stairs holding a piece of stiff paper.
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