William had not seen anyone in such a state of undress since he had been a very young man at school. Liam's feet were bare, his britches loosened, his hair unbound and cascading over his incredibly broad, pale shoulders. William's closed his mouth and tried to put his hand out for the blanket in a nonchalant manner. Liam tutted. 'Will? Not undressed?'
'Err… I was… I'm going to….'
Liam put the blanket down and advanced on William, smiling. He took hold of his shirt and began unbuttoning it, his chatter increasingly affectionate and disarming. 'There, my lad, what shall we do with you, hmm? Too much whisky, I be thinking; shall we have a cross little William in the morning? Come, you must get wrapped up; it seems chilly in here to me now. There you go.' He wrapped the blanket around William's shoulders, winked at him and added. 'Shall ye do yer own britches, lad?'
When William blushed furiously again, Liam patted his cheek. 'Dar… darling mother would never forgive me if I allowed you to get sick on your first night with us.'
William wanted to say, "First?" but was utterly distracted when Liam suddenly held up two books. Wondering where they had come from, William found himself on the floor, reading, Liam sprawled on his belly next to him, before he had time to utter a single word.
After only a few moments, Liam shifted to get more comfortable and, with a contented sigh, turned over and laid his head on William's legs. 'Now, isn't this a fine end to a fine evening? Are ye comfortable, Will? I forget my Irish ways are not to everyone's liking.'
'Only, I sense you and I will be great friends… do you think that, Will?'
William felt a sense of profound satisfaction wash through him. 'Oh, yes, I would like that very much.'
Liam chuckled. 'I'm glad.' As he spoke, he casually lifted his arm and draped it around William's waist then returned, engrossed, to his book.
William sat frozen to the spot. He had not been touched in so many places since being a child. His senses were overwhelmed. He could feel Liam's head on his thighs, his cool hand on his ribs, and then one thumb running over his warm skin….
'I'm sorry… but that's too… only….'
'Ah, it is so quiet and pleasant, is it not? I feel quite sleepy, Will; you are a comfortable pillow, lad.'
'Don't… err,' but Liam appeared to be asleep already, his thumb stilling its sensuous movements and his hand dropping away. William relaxed momentarily, but Liam suddenly turned his face and made himself more comfortable on William's lap. William leant back, trying to escape the weight of that heavy head pressing onto him.
He began to think he could just about cope with the situation, when he felt an ominous tightening in his balls. His eyes widened. Not now! Of all the times and places! He flushed a deep crimson, but that only seemed to herald the dilation of his blood vessels in other places. In this state of undress - his britches loosened - William's penis had an undreamt of freedom, and it took full advantage of the situation, swelling noticeably under Liam's head. The dark head moved slightly in sleep, the sensation utterly delightful on William's sensitive bulge. He bit his lip to suppress a groan. Liam brought his hand up to pillow his head, as if - in his sleep - sensing his pillow's new hardness, and his palm now cupped over the top of William's rising penis. When he moved more in sleep, the soft, raw tip rubbed against the large hand, separated only by thin layers of cloth.
A need to hold himself almost overwhelmed William. Normally, he resisted such sinful thoughts quite easily, but something about this erection took away some of his gentlemanly restraint. He thought he might burst.
Liam lifted his head slightly and moaned softly in the depths of a dream. William glanced down at the upturned face and groaned. Somehow, the beauty of that profile became inextricably connected in his mind to the rushing of blood in his loins. The long dark eyelashes heralded the release of sticky fluids he could not name. He put a hand out and gently brushed a stray strand of hair from the sleeping man's face. Even this light pressure on Liam sent delightful waves of pleasure through William's groin. He readjusted Liam's hair some more. He leant back and pressed gently on the sleeping head. He bit his lip, stifled a cry and came in his trousers, sperm released and trapped in the soft dampening material.
Guilt and disgust surged up in William's throat, taking away any pleasure from the release. Tears came to his eyes. He felt utterly wretched and suddenly wanted nothing more but to be away from this man, this place.
Liam turned, adjusted his position back onto William's thighs then woke and sat up, running his hands through his hair. With a laugh, he said nervously, 'God, I'm sorry, Will; did I sleep?'
Liam looked at him. 'What's wrong?'
Will hunched his knees up to his chin and stared at the candle, shaking his head. Liam put a hand on his bare shoulder. When that was not rejected, he gradually pulled William into his arms. 'I feel like a brother to you already, Will; can you no tell me what is wrong? Your sadness offends me.'
'Me. I am all wrong.'
Liam held him away. 'In what way? You seem well enough to me.'
William smiled at this but shook his head. 'You don't know me: the wicked things I think and do.'
'Ah. Wicked are they? Will, Will, don't. There are many shades in this complex world of ours. Many ways of being. Are we not being different right now?' As if to illustrate his words, he pulled William back against his broad, smooth chest. 'No right, no wrong, Laddie, just what we want it to be. Does this not feel good?' He began to rub his hand up and down William's back. 'If it does, then how can it be wrong?'
A frisson of worry nagged at William. Something was not only wrong with this, it was very wrong. As if sensing his thoughts, however, the hand stilled, and then patted him affectionately. 'You are the little brother I never had, Will. Would you like that? Would you like to join my family?'
William thought that he might be being seduced by the strange words but nodded, wanting the intimate, beautiful life they hinted at. 'Come on then. Sleep.' Liam stood. 'If I do not appear in the morning, Will, feel free to leave when you like. But….' He knelt gracefully and took William's face in his hands. 'Will you do me the honour of walking again tomorrow evening?' Before William could add words to his nod of ascent, Liam smiled and added, 'Then kiss me goodnight, little brother, and I will see you tomorrow.' He pressed a chaste kiss to William's lips. William's body, already a seething mass of confusion, did not protest. Liam smiled into the light kiss then, with bewildering speed, stood and went to his own room.
William felt dizzy. He glanced at the unappealing couch. He gritted his teeth, grabbed his clothes and slipped noiselessly down the stairs. Carelessly dressed, he slid out of the back door; the thought of meeting with the murderer far less daunting than spending the rest of the night under Liam's roof.
Mother waited for him in the drawing room, the door open so she could see his return. He frowned and hung in the shadows, slipping his coat off and holding it draped over his front. 'It is four in the morning, William. I would have thought you would have had the courtesy to inform me of such a late evening. Where have you been? Don't lurk.'
'Did a servant not call, Mother? I was at….' He paused, unsure of how to explain away his odd evening, and confused by why the message had not reached his mother. 'I went to the river and lost track of time. Sorry.'
He rose late the next day and suffered Mother's disapproval and angry silences until lunchtime. Eventually, she thawed out enough to ask him what time he wanted the carriage. William frowned. She tutted. 'You are dining at Winsett Place; have you forgotten?'
William cursed inwardly: Cecily. He had actually forgotten that he was part of a party that evening that would include Cecily. Reluctantly, he dispatched a servant with a note of apology to Liam.
He was surprised later that afternoon when the man knocked hesitantly on the library door and, tipping his cap to Mother, said, 'Sorry, Master William, only the gentleman sent a note in reply.'
William's heart gave an odd flutter, and he frowned. It was exactly the same flutter as he experienced when he heard Cecily's name - had experienced, that is…. Today, he had actually been annoyed that he would have to see her that evening.
The man came forward as requested and handed William the note. He hesitated for a moment, and then said in a rush, 'I'm sorry if I speak out of turn, Sir, but that is a strange household. I would like to think I will not be needed to go there again.'
William raised his eyes in surprise. He just wanted to open his note and was not interested in what the man had to say. Unfortunately, Mother laid down her work and said, 'What is that, James? What did you say?'
Pleased to have more of an audience for his story, the man moved closer to her couch and said respectfully, 'The gentleman opened the door himself, Ma'am! I have never witnessed such a thing in all my years in your service. And, Ma'am, I cannot say the shocking state he was in, but he….' He lowered his voice conspiratorially, as if his words would corrupt the younger elements present. 'He was undressed, Madam!'
Mother put a hand to her cheek and turned to her son. 'William, who is this awful man? Were you there last night?'
James touched his cap and backed out. William pouted for a moment then said, 'He is a friend of mine. I'm going to my rooms now.'
He felt the daggers of her look in his back all the way out. By the time he reached his sanctuary he was sweating and panting, but he'd done it. He had defied his mother, but more importantly, he had claimed Liam. William felt so elated he paced for a moment, saying his line again, varying the tone he used. Friend…. He called Liam his friend many times until it did not sound so wondrous or so new.
Suddenly, he remembered the note in his hand. He laughed at his own foolishness - something he almost never did - and ripped it open.
So, my company has been rejected for the charms of a certain young lady? How shall I pass the interminable evening now? Who shall I talk to? Who will understand what I want to say before I say it? William, shall I come to Winsett Place, too? Perhaps you will chance to look up; perhaps you will think you see a fleeting dark shadow near the window and sense that someone has been watching you. Would you like that? I love to watch you, my little poet. I would like to see the young lady who rivals me for your affections.
I keep late hours, Will. If you have a mind to, come over after your little party. I had strange dreams last night that I wish to seek your counsel on.
William held this strange, intimate note in his hand for a long time. He had never been written to by anyone who was not an elderly relation, so he had no reference points for the odd sentiments. They made him anxious - the image of that dark shadow watching him almost too disturbing to dwell on, but there was something else, too: it was arousing. Disturbing and arousing at the same time, one emotion blended with the other until William's arousal became exciting, dangerous. He became bold and undid his britches. He slid the bolt home on his door and reached into his warm, soft nest to release his penis. With his forehead resting on the wall, he let his mind wander as he performed this revolting act, and with no conscious volition of his own, his mind fixed securely on the strange idea of Liam watching him - Liam enjoying watching him. He turned himself slightly to the window, as if a figure were there, wanting to see. He ran his cupped hand over the tip of his erection, wetting his palm, slicking it for long, sensuous pulls on his shaft. He had not done this for a very long time and then, only in the dark, in bed, late at night when the rest of the household were asleep. To do this in the day was astounding: to see his own erection utterly novel. Bright red, flushed as deeply as he felt his face to be, he looked in awe at its smooth perfection.
For the first time, looking at that crimson blush, he realised how pale Liam was.
Bright crystal fluid poured from its tip, making his mouth water. For the first time, looking at that flow, he realised that he had been offered no refreshment the whole time he was at Liam's house.
As his sperm bubbled over his fist, smelling the pungent scent of his own fluids, he realised for the first time that last night the scent of another arousal had lain subtly under his, different, earthy and intoxicating.
William sank to his knees and looked once more toward the window, as if seeking that elusive, watching shadow. For the first time, looking at the bright sun that streaked into his room, he remembered that every single window in Liam's house had been securely boarded up, as if sunlight were anathema to that strange, exotic family.
As he rose and went toward his washstand, releasing the ties of his britches, he realised that he had enjoyed every moment of his orgasm, and that he did not feel particularly guilty or revolted. He felt powerful: on the cusp of something only just out of his reach. He stretched out for some clean clothes, brushed across his papers and realised that he had not the least desire to capture anything about Liam in poetry.
All was a mass of confusion, and he went to the required party with no other thought on his mind but how soon he could leave - how soon he could see Liam. He burned as if in a fever. He chatted with no thought to what he said. Oddly, he found people actually listening to him and laughing, as if enjoying his company. He sought Cecily out, slightly surprised at how plump and plain she looked for a moment. Her eyes, strangely bulbous, looked coolly at him, so he rose, made an insincere apology for bothering her and went back to the young men he had been chatting with by the fire. After a moment, she rose and followed him and, with a slight pout, said, 'You seem in fine spirits this evening, William. Will you not come and talk to me?'
'I just did.'
'I beg your pardon?'
William smiled and glanced toward the window. 'I'm sorry, was I not clear?'
She opened her mouth as if to reply to this puzzling comment, but William looked at the clock and said, 'Damn this waiting. I'm just going to go.' With no further apology, with no excuses, he left.
On the walk to Liam's, he felt elated and played the small scene with Cecily in his head in his usual manner. He didn't alter his part one jot and chuckled at her expression. The house looked just as uninviting as he remembered it from his strange episode that afternoon. Now the boarded-up windows looked obvious, and he wondered why he hadn't noticed them the previous night. He knocked on the door and waited. No one came. He remembered his coachman's words and pushed hesitantly at the door. If Liam kept no servants, then he could not object when invited guests… invited themselves in.
William explored the rooms downstairs but found no one. He went out into the vast hall and stood thinking. Then he heard it: a faint, regular thumping from upstairs. He thought he heard faint groans, too, and wondered, with alarm, if Liam or one of his family were ill. He remembered James' description of Liam's odd appearance and began to mount the stairs, his footsteps sounding loud in the otherwise empty house.
He reached the top of the stairs and turned to Liam's door. Suddenly, a door behind him opened swiftly and, with a small laugh, Liam appeared, sweating heavily, and naked except for a sheet clutched around his waist. 'William! Early!'
William floundered, for in the brief moment before Liam closed the door, he had seen a rumpled bed and clothes spread around the floor. 'Yes. I'm sorry. Have I disturbed…?'
'I was exercising.'
'Exercising?' This concept was new to William. No one he knew… exercised. He tipped his head on one side, thinking, and then said, with what he hoped was a rakish smile, 'Naked exercising?'
Liam laughed out loud and clapped William on the back. 'Ah, you've caught me out, Laddie. I was doing some exercise of the horizontal kind. I am a wicked man, but the girls in London seem so obliging when I ask them.'
The witty retort crossed William's mind that if Liam found this confusing then he had not looked in a mirror recently. He did not speak it, for he realised with confusion that having seen most of the rooms in this house, he had seen no mirrors at all. Liam put a naked, damp arm around his shoulders and led him into the room they had shared the previous night. William tried not to look down, but curiosity drew his gaze. As he thought - whatever Liam had been doing, he had clearly not finished. A large, obvious erection tented the thin material of the sheet. Liam followed William's gaze, and he laughed again. 'Aye, another hour or two, and I'd have been fine, Laddie. I hope you had more satisfaction from your little liaison tonight.'
William blushed as usual but allowed himself to be led to the couch. This all seemed somewhat unreal to him. Last night, he had been embarrassed when Liam had taken off a coat. Now, he was sitting here with him, almost sharing his erection. 'Why did you invite me here this evening?'
'Why? Because I enjoy your company, Will.'
'You seemed quite engaged with other company when I arrived.'
'Are you jealous, my little poet?'
William shifted away a little on the couch. 'You speak childishly. I shall not listen to such nonsense.'
'Ah. My little rabbit is turning at last. I think you gave your lady a hard time tonight. Did you William? Did you punish her for her cruelty to you?'
'Yes, I did.'
'Good. I am pleased to hear it. Did she scream? Did you make her bleed as you entered her? Did you take her from behind and debase her?'
'What! Bloody hell, Liam!' William jumped up and went toward the door. He snatched it open just as Liam's mother and Drusilla emerged from the opposite room. Hair hanging loose, clothes seemingly thrown on, they looked at him for a moment. The mother raised one eyebrow and nodded. 'Good evening, William. How nice to see you again. Excuse us, do. We are late risers.'
William shut the door and leant on it, his mind racing. Liam was pouring them both a drink, and he brought them over. He looked at William 'Did I shock you with my words? Good, I meant to. Do you not see, my little Will, that I can free you. I can make you strong. What did you do tonight? Did you speak cross words to her? Ah, I thought so. Well, it's a start, my love. Soon, you may be able to punish her in other, more interesting, ways. It is all power, William; it is all about power.' He came and stood very close to William, almost toe to toe. 'I have power, Will; do you feel it?'
Held, as if standing in thick mud, William nodded. 'I do, but that does not make it right.'
'Is it right to feel so weak all the time? Is it right to fear everyone and everything? I fear nothing, William, and I would make you like me.'
'You speak wildly.'
'You fear me, too? Oh, William, how could you…?' Liam turned away, as if saddened by William's lack of faith. William put a hand on his arm.
'I'm sorry. You are right. I fear everything, so how can I not fear you?'
Once more, Liam held out an arm, and William came to it, sheltering under the strong muscles. Liam's skin was still slightly damp from his recent exertions, and William could not believe it when he felt, yet again, a little tingle and tightening in his balls at the musky smell of this cool skin. Liam put his face to William's hair. He stood close, and there was no doubt in William's mind which part of Liam's anatomy pressed into his belly. Liam began to kiss at William's hair, then he pushed them slightly, and they were against the door. He tipped William's face up and looked deeply into his eyes. 'No more fear, William. I want you to think about that. Now, I must dress. I am… outrageous, no?'
He grinned, bent swiftly and kissed William's lips then, just as swiftly as the previous night, disappeared to his own room.
William almost staggered. The deprivation he felt from the loss of contact was acute. His erection drained blood from his head. He put his face in his hands, desperately trying to make sense out of what was happening to him. Before it was almost possible, Liam was back at his side. 'Now, let us leave the women and go out by ourselves. Do you feel strong enough, Will, to be at my side for one night?'
'What are you talking about? Where are we going?'
'Shhh. Do you trust me?'
'Not bloody likely.'
Liam threw his head back and laughed. William pouted then grinned shyly. Liam nodded. 'That is more important that trust, my love. That you want to be with me is so much more important. Come then.'
He took William's arm, and they went out together into the night.