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The Wolf Man/African Queen

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Title: When the Wolfbane Blooms 

Author/pseudonym: Tinnean 

Fandom: The Wolf Man/The African Queen 

Pairing: Lawrence Talbot/Thomas Fortescue-Smythe, Tommy/Roddy Sayer 

Rating: NC-17 

Disclaimer: No, they don’t belong to me. Well, except for Tommy. Universal studio owns The Wolf Man, and C.S. Forester takes the credit for The African Queen. James Agee and John Huston worked their magic on the movie. I borrowed Brookfield from James Hilton. 

Status: new 

Date: 11/01 

Series/Sequel: This isn’t a series, but does follow events that took place during Poor, Wand’ring One, which was my African Queen/Mummy crossover. 

Summary: The original owners of Talbot Abbey return and rebuild after the debacle of Ardeth Bey. 

Warnings: m/m, m/f/m (briefly), language, spoilers for the movies 

Notes: I’ve moved the setting of Talbot Abbey from Wales to Kent, and I’ve taken considerable liberties. This goes out to Athea, who was wondering what happened with Roddy and Tommy. And as always, to my home girls, Silk and Gail.

 

Even a man, who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright. 

When the Wolfbane Blooms

Part 1

 

Talbots had lived in Wales since the time of the Plantagenets. 

Of course, they weren’t known as Talbot when an enterprising mercenary got himself knighted by Henry II. The property granted him was mostly marsh, and only produced peat and swamp grass, and hungry peasants. 

All of that changed, however, in the time of the restored Charles. One of that knight’s descendants profited by having a beautiful wife who pleaded prettily to be taken to court. 

Even then, we were not very clever in those we chose to love. 

Because he could deny her nothing, her husband finally acceded to her wishes. And once at court, she managed to catch the lusty monarch’s wandering eye. 

Charles II had only enjoyed the woman for one night before he returned her to her husband, but he was a generous king, and in recompense, granted my ancestor a baronetcy. It might not have seemed like much in the way of payment, save for the property that went with it, which alone was worth more to my ancestor than a more exalted title. 

Everyone concerned felt the bargain was well met. Except, perhaps, for the wife, who had hoped for a permanent position under the king. 

The land given with the title was in Kent, and contained an Abbey, which was in sad disrepair since the Papists had fallen into disfavor. Being a rather unimaginative sort, he changed the family name to suit the name of the estate. 

And so, we became the Talbots. 

**** 

Adjacent to Talbot Abbey ran the estate of another baronet, Sir Henry Fortescue-Smythe. His youngest son, Thomas, was my age, and we were staunch friends, inseparable throughout our boyhood. We did everything together, rode, fished, swam, hunted. 

We even lost our virginity to the same woman. 

Our first, and to my knowledge, only encounter with the opposite sex, was with a lusty, plump milkmaid who enjoyed the thought of having two randy young gentlemen service her. 

Her cunny rather failed to excite me, and I had been losing my erection, finding her overblown charms somewhat distasteful, when Thomas shoved into her arse. All that separated me from my friend’s cock was a thin layer of tissue, and I nearly came right then. That friction had felt better than anything I had ever experienced. 

Our hips pumped steadily into her. Thomas scattered kisses over each bit of flesh that he could find. 

My arms were able to reach around to embrace both the girl and my friend, and I found his muscular buttocks much more to my liking. He wriggled under the assault of my fingertips, and spread his legs wider. I began to imagine having my friend with nothing between us at all. 

Thomas’ lips were a temptation I couldn’t resist, and somehow it seemed natural that when his mouth was just a hairsbreadth away from mine, I should kiss it. 

The milkmaid was thrilled that our pricks suddenly became re-invigorated, and her cries of fulfillment mingled with our own hoarse groans. 

“Oh, la, young sirs! That was loverly! If you want to do this again, Meggie is your girl!” she sighed voluptuously. 

But we never did, because shortly after that, we lost our other virginity, this time to each other. 

We’d gone for a swim in the pond on his family’s land, and stripped naked.  Unobtrusively, I peeked from the corner of my eye. He was half hard. 

I was fascinated by the sight of Thomas’ cock. When he realized I was watching him, his prick swelled, and I couldn’t prevent myself from reaching out to touch it. 

I stroked my fingers over it, and it quivered beneath them. “Will you let me suck it, Thomas?” 

His cock jumped at my words, and his lips parted, but nothing came out. He nodded, and I pushed him to sit on a rock on the bank of the pond. My mouth was watering, and I leaned over and tentatively licked the slit at the tip of his prick. A huff of breath crossed it, and he moaned softly. 

“Oh, that’s lovely, Lawrence. Please, do more!” 

I took the head between my lips and sucked, and Thomas moaned. “Am I hurting you, Thomas?” 

He shook his head wildly, and I swallowed more of him. My head bobbed up and down, and I became lost in the experience as I learned his taste and texture. 

I reached between his thighs and gently tickled his balls, and with a cry, Thomas came. I swallowed thirstily. 

Of course, it wasn’t enough. I rolled him onto his stomach and had him kneel on the bank of the pond. He raised his hips and reached back to part his buttocks, and I licked a path from his balls to the little pink pucker, loosening it with my tongue. 

Thomas writhed. “Please, Lawrence, fuck me! I want this!” 

Come was still oozing from his softening prick, and I smeared it over my own erection. I fitted it to Thomas’ hole and began to push in. 

He panted harshly, struggling to accept my bulk, and then I was past the tight ring and buried in his silken heat. My balls slapped against his as I drove into him, and his small whimpers of pain changed to moans of pleasure. “There, Lawrence! That spot right there!” 

I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but somehow I found the place that caused him to gasp and thrust back on me, and hit it again and again. 

His head dropped onto his arms and his inner muscles gripped me tight. His moans were music to my ears. My balls tightened and drew up, and I came, pouring liquid heat into his passage. 

I fell across his back, struggling to regain my breath. “Are you all right, Thomas?” 

He was silent, and I feared that I had hurt him. I slid out of him and turned him onto his back. He peeled open an eye and grinned at me. “Can we do this again?” 

“Greedy get!” 

“Oh, yes. What did Oliver Twist say? ‘Please, sir. I want some more!’” 

We spent that summer off on our own, finding secluded spots to experiment with our sexuality. 

Those were halcyon days, but unfortunately, they were drawing to a close, and with them, although we were unaware of it, our special friendship. 

I kicked my horse into a gallop, setting him at the paneled fence that separated the home farm from some fallow land. 

“I say, Lawrence, not fair!” Thomas, raced after me, but I was the better rider, and my horse cleared the bars with a characteristic flip of his tail. “Lawrence, you blighter!” But he was laughing breathlessly. 

I pulled up at the far edge of the field and slid off Monte’s back, waiting for Thomas to catch up with me. “Slow poke!” I teased. 

He hopped off his own mount and threw himself into my arms, knocking us both to the soft grass. Monte snorted and ambled off a few yards. Thomas’s Galahad joined him and they began to graze. 

White-blond hair spilled across my lips, and tourmaline eyes glinted with laughter 

“You’re so beautiful, Thomas!” I said hoarsely, and drew his head down to mine. “Kiss me!” 

His mouth was like honey, and I feasted on it. But there was a desperate quality to that kiss. 

Thomas’ fingertips stroked my cheek. “What’s wrong, gov?” We had been careful never to call each other anything that might reveal our devotion to each other. 

I turned away from him and plucked a blade of grass, winding it restlessly between my fingers. 

“We’re leaving.” 

He nodded. “I know. Term starts soon. I shall miss you, Lawrence. It’s such rotten luck that your father insists you go to Eton, instead of Brookfield. But I’ll see you at the hols, and we’ll have a smashing good time fucking each other senseless!” 

I shook my head. “No, you don’t understand, Thomas. I shan’t be going to school here in England. Mother and I are leaving. She and Father have had a tremendous row, and she’s going back to Canada.”

“But…” 

“She’s taking me with her.” 

“How can Sir John permit that?” he demanded. He took the blade of grass from me and stroked it across my lips. 

I shrugged, trying to conceal the hurt that question evinced. I was not the heir. I was not even the spare, but how could he let me go? 

Father’s first wife was the daughter of a penniless earl. But he loved her. She presented him with his beloved sons, dying in childbed after the birth of the second one. This left Father devastated, and with two small boys to raise. 

On the rebound, he married Mother, whom he met while she was on a visit from Canada. After ten barren years, she finally became pregnant. But by that time things had gotten extremely rocky between them. 

I grew up assuming that all married couples sniped at one another over the dinner table, or that they slept in separate rooms, until I stayed overnight at Thomas’ home, Fortescue Manor. 

For the longest time I wanted to be Thomas. But loving him was almost as good. 

“When must you leave?” he asked, his voice subdued. 

“By the end of the week. I’m going to miss you so much, Thomas.” 

“Lawrence, if you ask Sir John to let you stay…?” 

I shook my head sadly. “Mother would be destroyed. It would be just one more betrayal. I have to go with her, you see that, don’t you?” 

“Yes, love, I understand. But oh, Lawrence, I shall miss you!” His blue eyes swam with unshed tears. 

I forced a smile to my lips and got to my feet. “We have today, love. Come!” 

He took my outstretched hand, and I pulled him up. 

With the horses trailing along behind us, we visited all the spots on the estate where we had played, and made love in each one of them.

####

Part 2 

The evening before Mother and I were scheduled to sail to Canada, I slipped out and met Thomas one last time. He was waiting for me near a clearing where a caravan of gypsies had been given permission to camp. I wanted to take him somewhere else so I could make love to him, but he laughed and backed out of my reach. 

“I want to have my fortune told, first, Lawrence! Please! Don’t you want to know what the future holds for us?” 

“I already know what it holds,” I told him grimly. “You’re going to be here, in England, and I’ll be three thousand miles away.” 

He leaned close and kissed me. “Please, gov?” he begged. “Just a quick stop at the fortune-teller’s tent, and then you can take me away, and make me do anything you like!” 

“Anything?” The thought of having Thomas wrap those lush lips of his around my throbbing cock brought me to the edge of orgasm. He nodded and laughed and bounded toward the camp. 

A number of villagers from both the Abbey and the Manor were already there, and we had to wait to see the gypsy, Maleva. We strolled around the camp, past the young women who danced as they shook their tambourines, and the young men who tried to interest the unwary in an unsound horse or donkey. 

I paid an old crone a few pennies for a dish of stew that I shared with my friend. “If we were alone, I’d feed this to you with my fingers,” I whispered to him, delighting in the flush I could see in the firelight. 

His lips parted. “Tell me what you would do, Lawrence.” 

Purposely I kept my voice low, so he would have to lean close to me. “You see this piece of bread? I’d dunk it in the stew and then rub it over your lips. When you opened your mouth to accept, it, I’d slip my fingers in, instead, and make you suck the sauce off them!” He moaned. “Thomas, must we wait for the old woman? I want to fuck you so badly!” 

“Soon, I promise! See, it’s our turn now!” He hurried into the tent, dragging me after him. “Good evening, Grandmother,” he greeted her politely. “It’s very nice to see you again.” 

“And you also, young sir. You have been well?” She examined him in the fitful light of the candles, and smiled, a snaggle-toothed grin that revealed a few gaps. “Ah, yes I think you have been more than well! There is an aura about you!” 

He blushed and his gaze sought mine as if he couldn’t help himself. “This is my friend, Lawrence.” 

 She gestured for him to seat himself before her. “I think he is more than a friend. Tell me, young sir. What is your desire?” 

He promptly held his palm out to her. “What is my future, Grandmother?” 

I stood at Thomas’ shoulder and watched as Maleva took his hand in her work worn grip and studied it intently. She stroked her fingertips over the plump mound at the base of his thumb and across the depression in the center of his palm. I saw her shiver. “Do you wish for the truth, young sir?” 

He looked affronted. “Of course I want the truth. I’m a man! I can handle whatever comes my way!” 

The gypsy smiled sadly and looked at his palm. “Proud!” she murmured, almost to herself. “Very well, young sir. Your path will not be easy. There will be loss along the way. But you are brave, and will bring much honor to the name you bear. What more do you wish to know?” 

“Love, Grandmother. Will my love return to me?” He glanced at me through his lashes. 

“The one you love will come to you through danger, across flood and fire …” She gasped and her hand tightened convulsively on Thomas’. Her eyes searched his deeply. “Because of the one who will love you, you will be under the protection of a very ancient one!” She looked at him with something akin to awe. 

I thrust my palm in front of her. “Read my future, old woman!” Already I was trying to determine how I could make her words to Thomas refer to me. I was going across the ocean, surely that could signify as a flood. Danger and fire, though… 

She released my friend’s hand and took mine. “Ahhh! Young sir, be so kind as to bring me another candle!” she directed Thomas. He ducked out of the tent, and I slid into his seat. The gypsy leaned forward, speaking urgently. The words that spilled from her mouth were indecipherable. They seemed to roll over me, reverberating in my skull, but I could not understand a single one. 

“What…?” 

And then I could understand her again. “The young sir is not for you, my son. Leave him be. Your future paths will cross, but there will be only sorrow and death at the end of them!” 

I was stunned. This was not the type of reading a gypsy normally gave, and I struggled to free my hand. “You must be mad, old woman!” 

Thomas returned just then with a branch of candles. “Here you are, Grandmother.” 

“Thank you, young sir.” She held my gaze over the flickering light. “You will recall my words, and return to this place, when the time has ripened. Until then, go with God, my son. Bela!” she called. A young gypsy male thrust aside the opening of the tent. “Show these gentlemen from the camp, my son.” 

She refused to accept our coins. Thomas bowed politely over her hand, but I could see he was concerned by her action. 

The gypsy, Bela, laid his hand on my shoulder, and I shrugged it off sharply, disturbed by the sensation of his touch. His dark eyes bored into mine, and it was as if something passed between us. He led us to the edge of the camp. 

It had grown late. The fires had all been banked, and the villagers had all returned home. 

“Thank you for visiting us, young sirs,” the gypsy murmured, and vanished into the darkness. 

I swallowed and hurried Thomas away from that spot. 

**** 

As much as my friend tired, with hands and mouth, to rouse me, he was unsuccessful. I remained limp. 

“I’m sorry, Thomas,” I cried, ready to weep. 

“Hush, love. It’s all right. What did Maleva say to you?” 

“I…I don’t know. Nothing, I think. It isn’t important. What is important is that I’m leaving tomorrow, and I can’t make love to you tonight! Who knows how long it will be before we can be together again?” 

We walked back to Fortescue Manor, my arm around his shoulder, his around my waist. 

“Will you wait for me, Lawrence?” 

“*Yes*!” I shouted hotly. And then tears did fall, because I knew how difficult it would be for us to remain faithful to each other, with an ocean between us. I buried my head against his shirtfront. “I’ll try, Thomas. Oh God, I’ll try so hard!” 

His hand caressed my hair. “Me, too, love.” His kiss was salty from my tears. Or perhaps they were his tears, as well. And suddenly I was trembling with desire, my cock threatening to burst through my trousers. 

Glancing around quickly to make certain we were unobserved, I shoved Thomas into the shadows that surrounded his home. His trousers were already opened, and I reached in to free his cock. 

I knelt before him and took it deep into my mouth. A spurt of precome hit the back of my tongue, and his taste exploded in my mouth. I rubbed my tongue vigorously along the underside of his shaft. 

My friend was breathing heavily, and his legs trembled. I tightened my grip on his hips, urging him deeper into my mouth. 

“No, Lawrence!” His hands tugged on my hair. “Together! I want us to come together!” 

I climbed to my feet and undid my trousers, which slid down, exposing my quivering cock. Thomas surged forward, his prick rubbing against mine. I wound my fingers in his hair, holding his head still while I plundered the honeyed depths of his mouth. 

He swallowed my groans and sucked on my tongue as our hips rocked in an increasingly unsteady rhythm. “Please!” 

Thomas spun me around and pushed me to my knees. He spit on his palm and lubricated his shaft with it, then rubbed his leaking cock against my anus. The brief flash of pain was buried under a wave of pleasure, as with a single, smooth thrust he was deep inside me, his balls nestled against the crack of my arse. 

We were both too close to the edge, and with one last, hard push, we came, Thomas filling me with his essence, I spattering my shirt with the white fluid. 

He stayed in me for as long as he could, but eventually he grew too soft, and slid out. I rolled onto my back, gasping for breath, and fastened my lips to his throat, working the flesh so in the morning he would see the mark. 

“Lawrence, are you all right?” 

I drew in a deep breath, savoring the scent of our passion. My arse was sore, but I would take the feel of my lover’s possession with me when I left. “Never better, gov!” 

He tried to smile at my response, but his face crumpled and his arms tightened around me. “I will miss you!” 

**** 

We tidied ourselves as best we could and spent another hour saying goodnight with soft touches and deep caresses, until finally exhaustion threatened to overcome us. With one last kiss, he disappeared into the house and I was forced to make my way home. 

I knew the Abbey would be locked up, but that didn’t worry me. There was a large oak tree that grew outside my window, which I had had the presence of mind to leave open. I leaped to catch the first branch and then scrambled up the rest of the way. 

The window slid quietly up, and I eased over the casement. Boxes were stacked by the door in preparation for our departure the next morning. I stripped off my clothes and left them where they fell, yawning so hugely the hinges of my jaw almost locked. 

Suddenly, something hit me in the back, knocking me onto my bed. A heavy body covered mine, the rough clothing abrasive against my naked skin. 

Before I could shout for help, a hand clapped over my mouth, squeezing hurtfully over my lips. “You will not cry out, little brother,” the heavily accented voice whispered in my ear, and I trembled beneath him. “I have no wish to hurt you, but if you make a sound you will leave me no choice, and I will.” He waited patiently until I nodded. 

There was a rustling as he opened his trousers. I shivered as I felt a cock prod my still-slick anus and then slide past the ring of muscle. He was so big, and he was stretching me, filling me to the point of pain, and I whimpered.

“I am sorry, little brother. This is the way it must be!” 

For a spit second I understood, and the future was revealed to me. Then the shroud of forgetfulness descended once more, clouding the reason behind this assault. 

Tears streamed down my face. When I left England, my body would take, not the memory of my best friend loving me, but of the young gypsy who was plundering my back passage more thoroughly than Thomas had ever done. 

I was ashamed, but I couldn’t prevent myself from meeting his thrusts. The gypsy was constantly targeting that special spot within me, and my cock was hard and leaking precome. He reached beneath me and took my balls in his hand, rolling them gently. I panted and whined as he pushed me closer to my climax. 

With a growl, he bucked one more time, and then held himself still. I could feel his heat pouring into me, and I trembled. When he was finished, he pulled out of me and turned me onto my back. My cock was smeared with precome, and he leaned forward and ran his tongue around it, tugging hard. A broad swipe laved it from base to tip, pausing to dip into the slit. 

He took the crown between his lips, and as he worked my cock he shoved two fingers into my arse, which spasmed around them, and he continued fucking me while he sucked my orgasm from me. I bit the heel of my hand to muffle my cry of completion. 

The gypsy removed his fingers from my body and wiped the remains of his own climax on his trousers before he did them up. He pulled me up to him and I was held powerless in his grasp. His teeth sank into the muscle of my shoulder and I stared at him stupidly, unable to do a thing to stop him, almost overwhelmed by the pain. 

Yet when he raised his head there was no blood smeared over his lips. I forced myself to look at my shoulder, at the horrible wound that should have shredded it, to find only a faint scar. 

“What…what did you do?” 

“When you see this, you will know you are mine!” 

“I am leaving England!” I murmured weakly in protest. 

“But you will be back.” He got to his feet and extended his hand toward my face. I flinched away from his fingers, and sadness filled his eyes. He stroked my cheek. 

“Why, Bela? Why did you do this to me?” 

“You are the one who is destined for me, little brother.” He glanced back from the window before he stepped out into the night. “It has been seen in your palm!”

####

Part 3

 

The years passed, and the pain of my separation from home and from Thomas gradually eased. The only thing that kept me connected with home was the sporadic letters I received from my friend. I learned more from him of what was happening with my family than from Father and my brothers. 

“You’ll never guess, gov!” he’d write. “Your brother Harry is now a colonel! Perhaps once I’m in the army also we shall run across each other!” 

Harry was my middle brother, and Thomas was almost as army mad as he had been. 

When I graduated from University and joined a local architectural firm, which had long been my goal, he wrote, “Congratulations, Lawrence! I hope none of the buildings you design fall down upon their heads! Ha ha! Seriously, gov, I’m so happy your dreams are coming true.” 

Or, “Only fancy, gov! I’ve got my commission! I’m Leftenant Fortescue-Smythe now! The Mater has wept all down my brand new uniform, and Father was so proud I thought he would burst a button! Of course, Bertie, the sod, told me not to get above myself, but you know him, always ready to lord it over me and depress pretensions!” 

I could almost hear the excitement and laughter in his voice, and I smiled, amused by the affectionate disrespect with which he and his elder brother had always treated each other. 

It was nothing like the rather strained relationship I had with my own brothers, who were so much older than I. Because of the difference in ages, I had never been as close to John and Harry as perhaps any of us would have liked. 

The letter after that brought sad news. “Father is dead, Lawrence. The most foolish thing: he caught a cold, which settled in his chest and developed into an inflammation of the lungs, and he was gone in a week’s time! I’ve been given emergency leave to be with Mother and Bertie. We’re all in shock, gov. I wish you were here. Father thought very highly of you, and I…miss you!” 

I was devastated, feeling the loss almost as keenly as my friend. Sir Henry had offered me unconditional acceptance, and had been more of a father to me than Sir John Talbot. If it had been possible, I would have traveled home to be with Thomas and his family. 

For sometime afterward I heard nothing from Thomas beyond a note assuring me they were coping. 

Eventually he was able to write in more detail, “Bertie has assumed the baronetcy and is cutting a wide swath among the members of the opposite sex, much to Mother’s despair! She’s trying to encourage him to settle down! Fortunately for me she hasn’t yet decided that I need a steadying influence!” His sense of humor was emerging once more. “I think she’d be rather shocked at my choice of mate, don’t you, gov?”  

I smiled sadly. I had accepted it would never be me. 

The next letter had me a trifle concerned. “Rumors of war, gov, but that’s nothing new. I’m being sent to British West Africa. You needn’t worry about my safety. My RSM is Archie Cutter, and he’s a godsend. I wrote you about him, remember?” 

I remembered. From what I had read between the lines, Regimental Sergeant Major Cutter was more than a godsend, he was also Thomas’ lover. 

Of course, I couldn’t be jealous. I had had my share of lovers since I had arrived in Canada, including one very intriguing encounter with a cowboy called Arizona when I chanced to be in Alberta for the Calgary Stampede. Bucking broncos and Brahma bulls were not the only things he knew how to ride. My arse was pleasurably sore for a week after we parted company. 

But the rumors of war were to prove true. The second week of September I received a wire from England that suddenly brought it very close to home. ‘Harry killed 7 Sept Battle of Marne. Letter to follow. John’ 

I wasn’t there to receive my oldest brother’s letter. The Talbots needed to be represented in this war. I knew Father would never permit John to go, being the heir, so that left only me. I went into the first recruiting office I could find and enlisted in the Canadian army. 

It was only months later that the letter found me, and I learned that Harry had been killed by mortar fire on the second day of that battle, which had been a victory for the allies. 

The next letter from Thomas was much longer in reaching me, having to deal with not only the vagaries of the African postal service, but also with the caprice of the army. I was in the trenches on the Western Front when it finally caught up with me. 

I tipped my gas mask off my face and sat down to read it. “I’ve been promoted to captain, gov! And none of that ‘Well, I reckon they must be hard up for officers!’ from you, Mr. Talbot! All joshing aside, Lawrence, I’m so glad you’re well out of this.” 

He hadn’t received my letter telling him of Harry’s death, then, and my subsequent enlistment. 

“It’s a dirty, nasty business, this. The Huns are burning villages and murdering the young men who refuse to obey their orders. As for the women, I don’t even want to think of what has befallen them.” 

I could imagine, and I hadn’t been there to see the atrocities. The next lines were a trifle smudged, but after a bit of squinting, I was able to decipher the words. 

“I must tell you of a rather singular occurrence, gov! There was a tremendous explosion on the Lake, and my men pulled the most amazing young man out of the water! He’s little more than a boy actually, not much more than eighteen, I’d say.” This, from the maturity of his twenty-four years. I chuckled, but sobered quickly and read on. “He’s the brother of a missionary who was at Kungdu, a small village in German East Africa. The poor sod was killed by those bleeding Huns!” 

That last shocked me a bit. Oh, not that the Germans were capable of killing a man of God, but that my old friend was swearing. Obviously this had affected him more than he was inclined to let on. 

Just then my commanding officer strode by. “We’ll be going over the top shortly, gentlemen. Fix bayonets, if you please.” 

I sighed and tucked the letter away in the blouse of my uniform. 

**** 

The fighting was short, fierce, and bloody. When we returned to the trenches, there were fewer of us, but the line had held. I cleaned my bayonet, struck a lucifer to light my cigarette and settled in for the evening. 

Taking out the letter, I scanned it quickly and found my place. “…The poor sod was killed by those bleeding Huns! 

“Roddy Sayer came down the Ulanga, which is called the Bora down here because its temperament changes so much, no one ever realized it was the same river! It was damn near unnavigable, but he did it, gov, with this old riverboat captain, a Canadian chap, Allnutt by name. And that’s not the half of it! Would you believe it, Lawrence? They actually succeeded in blowing up and sinking the Konigin Louisa, the German steamship that patrolled the Lake? 

“I must say, gov, I was impressed!” The last word was underscored three times. 

I wondered if my friend had sampled the young man’s charms, and what RSM Cutter had to say about it. Thomas could never admit his interest so blatantly in a letter that would be read and censored in the interest of military security, but that last line was enough to inform me of his fascination, and I felt a fleeting stab of loneliness. It had been too long since I had loved anyone, and none who much cared if there was a rival. 

There were no other letters after that, but I chalked that up to distance and the demands of his command. And then came the Battle of the Somme. 

That was a bad year. Just months before, the French had been left decimated by the Battle of Verdun, and now it fell solely to us British to assume full responsibility for the newest battle. 

Within a handful of hours, there were over sixty thousand casualties. 

**** 

I regained consciousness in an ambulance, my right leg feeling as if it were on fire. A bullet had struck my shin, breaking it but fortunately not shattering it. When I was carried into the field hospital, I held my revolver on the doctor, who was quite good-looking, and informed him that if I awoke without the leg, I would come after him, even if I had to drag myself, and shoot off a favorite piece of his anatomy. 

A nurse slapped an ether mask over my nose and I slipped into unconsciousness. 

When I came to once more, the doctor was sitting beside my bed, scribbling something on a chart. My leg was encased in plaster and suspended above the mattress by a metal frame. “Clean break, Leftenant.”

I knew I was groggy from the after-effects of the anesthesia but, “Are you sure you’ve got the right man? I’m not an officer.” 

He regarded me with a slightly amused twist of his lips. “You are now, soldier. Field commission. Congratulations. And I have every anticipation of your leg healing nicely. There may be a bit of a limp, but you should regain full use of it.” 

“Thank you, Doctor.” I avoided his eyes and patted myself down, searching for a cigarette, only to discover there were no pockets in the get-up they had me in. I sighed and met his interested glance. “I apologize for being testy in the operating room.” 

“Yes, well, I’m sorry, Leftenant, but an apology does not cut it. You’ll have to do more if you wish to make up for that appalling display.” He grinned, and I suddenly realized that he was not as old as I had previously thought, possibly not too much older than I. “Dinner, I think, once you’re able to get around?” 

“I’d like that, Dr…?” 

“No need to be formal, old chap. Call me Hyde. Well, I must be about my rounds. Try not to make my nurses irritable, will you? I swear they can be more frightening than the Huns!” 

I chuckled as I watched him leave the ward, then closed my eyes, wondering how difficult it would be to make love with my leg in a cast. 

Hyde invited me to his tent when the doctor who shared it with him was busy in the operating room. He helped me onto his cot and raised my johnny gown. I was rather surprised to find he had already slicked his passage. He coated my shaft and settled himself comfortably on my rigid cock. 

As it turned out, it didn’t prove to be a problem at all. 

**** 

The letter found me shortly after the Armistice had been signed. It was in a lilac envelope and smelled faintly of the delicate flowers, and it was from Lady Eugenia, Thomas’s mother. 

I shut my eyes against the pain. Thomas was gone. What else would she be writing to tell me? 

My hand clenched shut on the elegant paper, crumpling it, while my eyes burned and my throat tightened. I opened my fingers and tried to smooth out the worst of the wrinkles. 

“My very dear Lawrence,” she wrote. “It saddens me deeply to inform you that Thomas was seriously injured in a skirmish with a German battalion in Africa. His company suffered some casualties, the most devastating of which was the death of RSM Cutter. He gave his life to save Thomas’.” 

Oh, thank God! He was still alive! 

“I have not seen my son yet, as his physicians wanted his condition to be more stable; however he’s coming home via military transport, and you know how quickly they can travel. We anticipate his arrival within the next week.” 

The next page was spattered with what had to be teardrops. “Oh, Lawrence, he’s lost an eye!” Lost an eye? One of those beautiful, tourmaline eyes? “From what we have been able to gather, it was done by a saber slash. Sergeant Cutter shoved him out of the way and took the second blow that would surely have killed Thomas. 

“Please, Lawrence, if it is at all possible, please come to see him…” 

I didn’t bother reading the rest of the letter. I went in search of my commanding officer to arrange for a leave.

####

Note: This one has a touch of bestiality in the mix. If that squicks you, there’s the old delete key.

Part 4

 

It never changed. 

Thomas refused to see me. I was his best friend, I had been his lover, but now he wouldn’t even speak to me. 

Add to that the ambivalence of being home for the first time in so long. I was bitter and hurt. 

A spot of hunting might lift my spirits. Blowing the head off Peter Rabbit sounded like a notion I could live with right about then. 

I handed Monte’s reins to the groom and went to fetch a shotgun. Jack, Father’s favorite liver and white spaniel, bounded excitedly at my feet, and I decided to let him come along. 

We tramped over the fields, flushing quail and partridge, which I shot at half-heartedly. 

A sudden fog descended on us, and the further away from home we went, the denser it grew. 

I began to feel uneasy. 

There was the snap in the underbrush in the wood nearby, as if an animal had stepped on a fallen branch. Only, no animal would do that, and the two of us froze. Jack’s floppy ears were cocked, and he listened alertly, his nose raised as he scented the air. 

And then his ears were down, his lips curled, and he began to bark, high pitched and frenzied, in challenge to whatever was just out of eyesight. 

I started toward the wood, determined to find what was there, and Jack threw himself against my legs. He became almost hysterical in his efforts to keep me away from what he perceived as the danger that lurked there. 

The fog made it impossible to get off a clear shot, and the dog’s fear telegraphed itself to me. My gut clenched, my mouth went dry, and I backed away. 

Jack obviously approved. 

The sounds that tracked us came closer, and now we could hear the low-pitched growls. I didn’t know what kind of creature it could be: there were no wild animals in this part of Kent. 

Jack latched onto my trouser leg, trying to pull me further away. I raised the shotgun and fired off a blast. 

There was a grunt of pain, and the growl rose to a furious howl. I fumbled with the shotgun, knowing I would never have the time to reload, and I shook so hard I dropped the pellets. 

I broke and ran, Jack positioning himself between me and the threat. But the fog made it impossible to know in what direction I was going, and I was hopelessly turned around. 

From behind me came an anguished yelp, and I knew that whatever it was had gotten Jack. The gallant dog had been injured trying to save me, and I wouldn’t leave him to face his fate alone. I ducked behind a tree, only then realizing that somewhere along the way I had lost my weapon. I’d have to confront that creature with nothing for defense but my bare hands. 

I crept back the way I had come as silently as I could. The fog was like damp, clammy tendrils that stroked across my face, and I shuddered at the touch, barely able to make out my hand in front of me. 

My foot caught on a rotted branch, and I went tumbling head first to the ground, landing on something soft and furry and wet: Jack, his head twisted at an unnatural angle, a gaping wound in his neck. 

With a low moan, I pushed myself away from the dog’s mangled body. Before I could get to my feet, something came lunging at me, knocking me backwards. Fetid breath clogged my nostrils, and I retched violently. 

It backed off and I thought I might be able to escape. I crawled to my knees and tried to scramble away, but jaws closed over my shoulder, clamping down like fiery pincers to secure me. To my horror, I could feel the creature’s prick, hot and hard, probing my trouser-covered arse. 

It growled in frustration, and its claws ripped at my trousers, shredding them and giving the thing access to me. Its hips rocked jerkily, stabbing at me, trying to find my anus. When the slim, pointed cock found its goal, it slammed into me and I cried out in shock. 

Large paws gripped my waist, forcing me to submit to its assault. Its jaws eased their hold, and its tongue lolled out as it fucked me, drops of its saliva mingling with the blood that oozed from the wound on my shoulder. 

To my disbelief, the creature’s penis rubbed continually over that spot inside me, and I found myself growing hard, shivering from the humiliating, unexpected pleasure, powerless under the savage pounding it was giving my back passage. 

With one last, powerful thrust, it drove the knot at the base of its prick deep into me and stilled. The knot began to swell, plugging me, stretching me, and then copious spurts of semen poured into my channel, filling me with liquid heat, soothing the abused walls. 

The creature rested on my back, holding me motionless. Lazily its tongue licked my bloody shoulder in what was almost a caress. I crouched beneath it, ashamed and yet unbearably aroused. 

I wanted to roll over and offer it my unprotected throat, surrendering completely to its will. I wanted to expose my weeping prick to the beast’s slavering mouth, to have its long tongue wrapped around my shaft, licking it, tasting my essence. 

But the beast turned its head with a jerk and growled, and pulled sharply out of me. And then I heard what it had heard. 

“Larry!” Someone was calling my name, searching for me. 

It stood above me on two legs, manlike, as if to challenge whoever approached, and I tried to croak out a warning. “Go back! Please, go back! It will kill you…” 

~~~~ 

“Larry.” 

“Go back…” 

“*Larry*! Come on, pup, wake up! You’re scaring me!” A hand closed over the shoulder that throbbed in time with the blood that flowed to my cock. I reacted without thinking. 

I threw myself at him. Growling much as the beast had, I thrust against his groin. The feel of his warm body under me proved to be too much, and I came, gasping as I poured myself over his abdomen. 

I sank onto him; my head turned away, air whistling between my lips as I desperately struggled to regain my breath. “Oh, Jesus, Hyde, I’m so sorry!” 

“It’s all right, Law.” He forced me to look at him, and stroked the hair out of my eyes, his expression concerned. “Another bad dream?” 

I sat up, nodding as I cradled my head in my hands. 

“It might help to talk about it.” He used a corner of the sheet to remove the drying semen, and then offered it to me. 

“I doubt it, Hyde.” 

He knelt up behind me on the bed and dug his fingers into the tense muscles of my neck and shoulders. I rubbed my cheek against the back of one hand. “What would I do without you, doc?” 

“You’d do fine, Larry.” He tipped my head around and brushed a soft kiss over my lips. “Is it the same nightmare?” 

I nodded uncomfortably. 

He wrapped his arms around me. “Tell me about it, Law,” he urged, but my mind shied away from the disturbing images, unable to face them again. 

Instead, my thoughts went back to that time after the war to end all wars had concluded, when I had returned to England. 

**** 

There was no reason for me to remain in the land of my birth, I realized. 

Thomas would survive and come to grips with the patch he wore to conceal the damage done his eye. His former commanding officer had come to see him and was closeted with him for a goodly length of time. My friend refused to speak of the outcome to anyone. Even me. 

Both Father and John had been involved with the war effort in London, and he had shut up the Abbey, which had fallen into shocking disrepair with no one living there. 

Since Father’s intention was to continue his involvement with the government, this would necessitate the taking of a residence in Town, and he saw no reason to leave the house empty. He decided to let it. 

My brother John found he preferred living in London as well, and so moved into his own digs, driving out to the Abbey at Father’s request to oversee the work that needed to be done before the first in a series of tenants could move in. 

None stayed very long, however, and eventually the lease was taken by a representative of an Egyptian gentleman. 

I did some traveling, seeing something of the world. But eventually, after a number of years, I sailed back to Canada. 

My position in the architectural firm in which I had worked before I left for France was waiting for me. 

As was Hyde, the doctor who had treated me during the war. He returned home to Canada after his discharge from the army to set up practice. 

I had no idea his office was just down the road, although after we had been together for a while he told me he had seen me on occasion and was keeping an eye out for an opportunity to renew the acquaintance. 

That opportunity arose on the day we ran into each another in the local pub, the day I received another letter from Thomas. 

“I’ve found him again, gov!” he wrote from Egypt. He would never tell me what he was doing in that part of the world, but I suspected it was something deep and dark, and to do with the government. “Roddy Sayer! Do you remember me writing to you of him?” 

How could I forget, I mused bleakly? I had sat beside Thomas’ bed, taking in the stark paleness of his face, the whiteness of the bandage that hid most of the livid scar that marred the right side of his face. 

As I waited for him to regain some sort of coherence, he had rambled on about the courageous young man, about his blue eyes and sun-streaked hair. And about how Thomas had lusted after him, even determining to go so far as to lure the boy into his bed and away from the man who was Sayer’s lover. 

That, in spite of the fact that Thomas had a lover of whom he was very fond, to say the least. 

I moistened my lips, recalling how Thomas’ body had quivered and wriggled voluptuously, and how he’d moaned, “Please, Archie, please don’t spank me any more! I promise not to interfere!” 

I resolved never to let Thomas discover what he had revealed that night. But I rubbed a restless hand over the front of my trousers while I watched over him. 

Roddy Sayer was back in my friend’s life, and he was no longer with that old man. 

Charlie Allnutt, his partner, who really wasn’t all that old, had died in the desert, where they had been involved in the excavation of the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Apparently he had fallen victim to the curse of the Boy King. 

Thomas was going to seize his chance, he wrote, and make the young man his. He had already talked him into returning to England with him. 

Hyde entered the pub and spotted me sitting in a corner in the back, a row of empty glasses before me. 

“Larry Talbot? Is that you?” His surprise wasn’t a pretense. He told me later that he had followed me into the pub, but hadn’t expected me to have put that much liquor under my belt already.  “Er… Good God, man! How simply splendid to see you again! Mind if I join you?” 

I did, rather. I just wanted to mourn the loss of my first love in maudlin solitude. 

But Hyde ordered a whiskey for himself and sat next to me, the warmth of his thigh radiating through the material of his trousers. 

I shrugged and continued to stare broodingly at my last, half empty glass. 

“What’s wrong, Law?” 

I opened my mouth to snap that nothing was wrong, that my life was absolutely perfect. Instead, the whole story of my youthful love affair with Thomas Fortescue-Smythe came spilling out, ending with how we were separated because my parents could no longer tolerate each other. 

The only thing that didn’t come spewing past my unguarded tongue were the details of the last night I spent with Thomas, and how the gypsy had stolen into my room and taken me. I would never tell anyone of that. 

Hyde’s hand rested on my knee, and his fingers squeezed it rhythmically. My cock began to take notice. 

“My rooms are behind my office, Law. Come spend the night with me.” 

I struggled to focus my gaze on his face. “My heart belongs to Another!” I told him melodramatically. 

“That’s quite all right, pup. Whoever it is can have your heart. I just want your body!” 

I went home with Hyde, and I must have enjoyed what he let me do to his body, because shortly afterward, I asked him to move into my digs. 

I needed someone in my life, in my bed. Hyde filled the bill. 

**** 

“I say!” He shook my arm gently. “Where did you go? Come on, Law, talk to me!” 

He wanted to know about that nightmare. I knew it would be futile to try to avoid his questions. 

“It always starts the same way,” I began hesitantly. “I’ll be trying to see Thomas, and Lady Eugenia will tell me it’s useless, to just go home, her son isn’t for me.” 

“Did he really refuse to see you?” 

“No,” I murmured, confused by that part of the dream. “Although it wouldn’t have mattered if he had. I’d have just barged into his room the way I did and took up a seat at his bedside. And Lady Eugenia never knew we were lovers, either. It must be my subconscious trying to do me in. Anyway, in my dream I ride over to Fortescue Manor.” 

Hyde interrupted my narrative. “You didn’t drive there?” He shifted on the bed and pulled me down beside him. 

“No.” I slid my arm over his chest and laid my head over his heart. The rhythmic beating soothed me. “The two properties are too close to go to the bother of taking out an automobile. We always used horses. I rode over on Monte Cristo. You know something, Hyde? After all this time, it still surprises me that Father kept that horse. He was really too small and too old to carry any of us for any length of time.” 

“You don’t think Sir John kept him because he was your horse?” Hyde wondered. 

The thought startled me. “Father would never do that! Oh, maybe if it was John’s, or Harry’s...” 

“Why wouldn’t he do that for you? Aren’t you his son, just as much as they?” 

“It’s not the same, Hyde.” If I mattered that much to him, he never would have let Mother take me away. Would he? I grew uncomfortable with that conversation, and would have turned away from Hyde, but he refused to let me go. 

“All right, Law. Go on with your dream.” 

I was reluctant to dwell on the emotions that had haunted my sleep, the shame and the uncontrollable lust, but even less did I want to discuss my family dynamics with my lover, and so I continued, eventually concluding with the attack by the unseen creature. 

I made no mention of the beast’s sexual subjugation of me. 

“Well, I must say, that is a strange dream!” 

“One for your Sigmund Freud?” Hyde had been reading articles published by the physician who had become the leader in psychoanalysis. 

“Perhaps,” he murmured. “Perhaps something in the letter you received from England yesterday triggered it off. Every time you hear from home you suffer one of those nightmares.” 

“Perhaps,” I echoed him, reluctant to reveal that the night terrors were now coming with increasing frequency, and seemingly for no reason at all. 

Before I could decide whether I should tell him, there was a brisk knock on the front door. “Bugger!” I swore. “I knew I should have taken rooms in a hotel rather than rent this house!” 

Hyde tugged on a lock of my hair playfully. “You’d have hated it, Law. And so would I. Think how quiet we’d have to be when we made love!” 

“You may have a point,” I agreed as I pulled on a dressing gown and went to see who was beating at my door so early in the morning. 

The man who stood there regarded me in a bored manner. “Lawrence Talbot?” he asked. When I nodded, he handed me a telegram and waited impatiently while I found some change to tip him. 

The last wire I had received had been from my brother, John, informing me that our middle brother, Harry, had been killed in the War. I searched out the signature on this one. 

Father. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to read the terse message. And then, “Oh, no!” 

“What’s wrong? Bad news, Law?” Hyde had drawn on a pair of trousers, which hung low around his hips, and had followed me into the foyer. 

I brushed past him, hurrying to the cupboard that held my valise. I tossed it onto the bed and began to pack. “I must go home. John is dead! And the Abbey has been destroyed!”

####

Part 5

 

I found myself wishing there was a faster method of transatlantic travel than ship. 

It wasn’t simply because by the time I got to Father’s townhouse in London, John had been buried. Father looked at me with eyes that were bleak and distant, and saw nothing beyond the fact that his heir was six feet under. He had no use for me there, and I turned on my heel and left him in his study with a bottle of Blue Ruin to keep him company. 

I needed to be with someone who was actually pleased to see me. I needed to see Thomas. 

As it turned out, the ship hadn’t been fast enough. I had just missed him… 

Acquaintances I ran into on the street took great pleasure in trying to ferret out the gruesome details of the destruction of the Abbey. 

“Talbot! I say, old chap, rum go about the family manse. Hear it was King Tut, striking back from the grave! A-haw, a-haw, a-haw! Is that so?” They were avid in their desire to learn every bit of gossip. It was only as an after thought they they would continue, “Oh, by the by, so sorry about your brother!” 

It was the same thing, from every single one of them. The bloody, be-damned bastards! 

When I was finally able to escape, I motored down to Kent to assess the damage. 

But before I even stopped at Talbot Abbey, I went to Fortescue Manor, to see Thomas. Lady Eugenia was in the front hall when her butler opened the door to me. 

Her eyes pooled with tears, and she hurried forward to embrace me. “Lawrence! Oh, I am so very sorry about your brother! What an absolutely dreadful thing!” 

To my surprise, I felt my own eyes burn, and I blinked furiously. 

“And the beautiful Abbey, destroyed!” 

“I’m here to rebuild it, Lady Eugenia. That’s why Father sent for me.” 

She frowned at the bitterness in my voice,  her distress evident that I obviously still believed there would be no other reason my father would want to see me. “I don’t think you give Sir John enough credit, Lawrence. Your father cares about you a great deal.” 

“Do you think so?” I asked flatly. “It would have been nice if just once he had told me so.” 

“Ah, Lawrence, don’t make the same mistake he made, holding on to ancient hurts, letting your pride dictate your actions.” 

“No, m’lady.” I didn’t want to quarrel with my friend’s mother. “Is Thomas home? I thought I’d stop by to visit with him before going to see the extent of the damage at the Abbey.” 

Lady Eugenia shook her head. For one disconcerting moment I thought my nightmares were about to prove prophetic, but instead of refusing to let me see him, she said, “You’ve just missed him!” 

“I can return,” I assured her, perhaps more eagerly than might have been wise. 

She gave my arm a slight shake. “He’s gone to Africa.” 

“That mysterious job of his in the government?” I asked, trying to lighten the heaviness that settled around my heart. I had been counting on seeing him again. 

His mother smiled and looped her arm through mine. “Do come in, dear boy and have a spot of tea with me!” She urged me into the house. “You know he refuses to talk to anyone about that. Well, anyone other than Roddy.” 

“Roddy? Would that be Roddy Sayer, the young man he met in Kenya?” Now I felt even worse. I had been hoping that that affair would have fizzled. 

“Why, yes! How did you know of him?” Before I could respond, she exclaimed, “But of course! Your correspondence with Thomas. Those letters meant so much to him, Lawrence. Thank you!” 

“They meant a great deal to me also, Lady Eugenia.” More than she would ever know. 

She led me to the conservatory at the rear of the house. 

I had to smile. Almost every country house in this part of Kent had a conservatory, and it seemed it was always placed somewhere toward the rear of the house. Perhaps that’s why the plans I had drawn up on the voyage home also featured a large, airy room that would be filled with all manner of plants, exotics as well as native, but it would be set to the side, rather than the rear. 

“Have a seat, Lawrence, and I’ll pour.” She held the tiny cup and saucer with steady fingers. The teapot, in the other hand, was tipped, and she filled the cup with consummate grace. 

“How…er…how serious is it with them?” 

She regarded me thoughtfully as she offered me the cup, then answered my question with another question. “How long have you been aware of my son’s preferences?” 

Did she expect an honest answer? I didn’t think she would welcome me into her home any longer if she learned that I was the one who took her son’s virginity. “Oh, quite some time, m’lady,” I murmured vaguely. 

Her expression became wry. “I truly wish someone had thought to inform me of this state of affairs. You can’t imagine how embarrassing it was to be throwing girls at Thomas’ head in hopes that he might select one, only to discover that I’d have done better to parade some likely young man before him.” She sighed. “Well, the one bright spot is that Bertie had no idea either!” 

I had been in the process of sipping my tea when she made that remark, and I choked. “*Bertie*?” He had almost caught us once, and from his cool attitude toward me afterwards, I was positive he knew what was going on between his younger brother and myself. 

She took a neat bite out of her cucumber sandwich and chewed thoughtfully. “After he married, he became even more of a matchmaker than I! Thomas finally set him straight, and it was rather acrimonious, I believe. My sons have no qualms with discussing their differences at the top of their lungs. But once Bertie met Roddy, he did like him, and seemed to resign himself to the fact that he would never be an uncle. Fortunately, his wife is a good breeder, and they have a number of boys already, so the succession is guaranteed.” 

At least Thomas was spared the pressure of having to produce an heir. Eventually, Father would realize that it now fell to me to keep the Abbey lands in the family, and he would insist I marry some suitable girl. I shuddered and thrust that worry aside for another time. 

“Do you like this young man, Lady Eugenia?” 

“Yes, I do. You didn’t know, Lawrence, but there was a time when I feared for Thomas. He was so recklessly careless with his life. I think that’s why he took that position his former commander offered.” 

I did know, but there was nothing I could have done for my friend. There was nothing he would have allowed me to do. I remained silent. 

There was sadness in her eyes before she turned away to reach for her tea. “Losing his eye in that battle, and on top of that his RSM, almost destroyed him.” She laid her hand on my knee and leaned closer. “I’ll tell you something, my dear boy. Once I realized how things stood, I was rather hoping he might find Roddy again. The only time he seemed anything like his old self was when he spoke of him.” 

“Thomas wrote to me from Africa, telling me he wanted to bring young Sayer home with him. You approve then, Lady Eugenia?” 

“It’s not the path I would have chosen for him, but then, I’m not the one who will walk that path. Yes, Lawrence, I do approve. Very heartily.” Her smile became impish, and I saw her son in her. “Roddy is an absolute delight! I’ll never forget the time he told me he wanted the doctor to see Thomas, because obviously the blow to his head was more severe than had been believed. All that, because Thomas told him he loved him!” 

Again I began to sputter as a crumb lodged in my throat. “I beg your pardon?” 

She began to explain. “The Egyptian gentleman who let the Abbey threatened Roddy in some manner, which they would never explain to me. Thomas went to issue an ultimatum, and Roddy followed to rescue him. They were wearing the most outlandish get-ups when we found them. My son had been beaten quite severely, but Roddy assured me the men responsible had been shown the error of their ways. Such a typically British understatement, and one I would quite expect from the young man responsible for the sinking of the Louisa!” 

“Were those men handed over to the Egyptian authorities for their punishment?” 

“I’m sorry, Lawrence, I didn’t make myself clear. No one escaped from the Abbey. They all paid with their lives!” 

I was startled by the savage satisfaction in her voice, and wondered how it came about that women were regarded as the weaker sex. 

That was how I learned the tales about the destruction of Talbot Abbey were not entirely poppycock. 

**** 

I stepped out of the automobile. Even prepared as I had been by Lady Eugenia, I was still appalled by the extent of the wreckage, which was as thorough as it was inconceivable, and I stared in shocked horror. 

The house appeared to have collapsed in on itself, but no one had a reasonable explanation. Oh, the magistrate went on about shoddy workmanship, but those walls had stood for over six hundred years. 

As for the firm that my brother John hired to do the repairs on the Abbey, well, I was the one who vetted them, and they were some of the best in the business. 

Of course the newssheets had a field day with it, laying the cause of the destruction of my ancestral home to the curse of King Tutankhamun. Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter had been in the neighborhood as guests of an Egyptian gentleman, and that lent credence to the rumors. 

The locals simply looked troubled and refused to speak of it. There was something else going on in that corner of Kent, but it wasn’t until a few years later that it would come knocking on my own door.

####

Note: This is Lady Genie’s POV. Since she had a warm relationship with her husband, m/f is implied. 

Part 6

 

Lawrence Talbot was not an attractive child, but he was lovable. 

What a shame his parents were both so lost in the disillusion of what neither was that they could not see that. 

**** 

Sir John Talbot married Helena Ware because he had two small boys who needed a mother, and because of a vague physical resemblance to his first wife. Both women were sturdy, blue-eyed brunettes. 

Helena married Sir John because after being ‘out’ a number of years, she feared being relegated to the shelf and becoming an ape leader. 

He thought Helena would be biddable and sweet-tempered. 

She thought he would be the dashing, older man who would rescue her from a commonplace life back in Canada. 

They were both wrong. 

**** 

I was not there when Helena finally delivered the child she had waited ten years to have, but her lady’s maid was, and she told my woman, who in turn told me. There are no secrets, belowstairs. 

It had been a difficult pregnancy, and an even more difficult birth. 

Sir John looked at the squalling, red-faced infant in the doctor’s arms, touched a gentle finger to the damp head, and raised his eyes to the woman who lay exhausted in the bed he no longer shared with her. Her hair hung in sweaty tangles, and her throat had been screamed raw. 

Her glare was venomous. “You have your sons,” she rasped, referring to the children of his first marriage, who were away at school. “This one is mine!” She waited until her husband nodded stiffly and left the room, then said, “Let me see him!” 

The doctor would have laid her son in her arms, but she recoiled in shocked horror when she saw the misshapen skull. “He’s a monster!” 

“No, Lady Talbot, I assure you that the swelling and bruising about the face is quite normal. In a couple of days this will all recede and you’ll think he’s the most beautiful baby in Kent.” 

“He’s a monster!” she repeated shrilly. “Take him away!” 

The doctor frowned and handed the infant to the woman who had been hired as wet nurse, motioning for her to leave quickly. It was his experience with new mothers that sometimes they reacted strangely to their offspring. He’d instruct the wet nurse to bring the baby to her ladyship in a day or so, and they would see what they would see. 

In the meantime, he would just drop a word into Sir John’s ear to treat his lady with additional patience. 

Everyone knew women were the weaker sex. 

**** 

Sir John had ridden to Fortescue Manor to speak with my husband, Henry. They were in Henry’s study when I waddled by. I was in an interesting condition, and had a short time to go before the birth of my second child. I was feeling decidedly huge. 

“Eugenia, would you mind joining us for a moment, my love?” 

“Not at all, my dear. What can I do for you charming gentlemen?” 

For a moment both men were silent, exchanging glances. I pressed my knuckles into the discomfort that nagged at my lower back, and Henry assisted me to a chair. He helped me maneuver my bulk onto it. 

Sir John, who was a good deal older than both Henry and I, stared down his nose at me, but I simply raised an eyebrow and waited patiently for him to speak. 

“After John was born, Elizabeth doted on him,” he began finally, speaking of his first wife. “Her last act before she died was to place a kiss on Harry’s brow.” 

“Not every woman reacts to motherhood in the same way.” 

He nodded impatiently. “That’s what Dr. Cliffe informed me.” 

“Dr. Cliffe tells every prospective father that,” I sighed. “What seems to be the problem, Sir John?” 

“I can’t understand Helena’s attitude! She won’t have anything to do with this boy! She almost acts as if she’s…frightened by him!” 

“Would you like me to speak with her?” 

The poor man looked relieved. “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, Lady Eugenia?” 

“Of course not. Henry, why don’t you have Humphrey Coachman bring the dogcart around?” 

He smiled at me, and I grew flushed. We’d been married for almost five years, and the man still melted my bones with simply a certain glance or smile. This pregnancy could not come to its conclusion soon enough to suit me. 

I kneaded that spot in my lower back harder, then let my fingers trail over Henry’s arm. Color mounted his cheeks, and I returned his smile. It was nice to know I could cause his bones to melt as well. 

**** 

I insisted that Helena get out of bed. Lying in that darkened room would be good neither for her spirits nor her waistline. She pouted, but agreed. “I’ll meet you in the Egyptian salon.” 

“Very well. But I’m going to the nursery first, to see your son.” At one point I could have sailed out of her bedroom, but that day all I could manage was the waddle, and I ignored her objections. A passing maid showed me the way to the baby’s rooms. 

Tiny whimpers came from the white and blue wicker cradle that was set up near the window. I crossed the room and gazed down at the little boy. 

Dark fuzz covered his head, coming to a marked widow’s peak. He waved his hands and I caught one, admiring the way his grip tightened around one of my fingers. “Such a strong little man!” I murmured. Something drew my attention and I examined them more closely. 

The forefinger and middle finger were the same length. 

I kissed them and released them, then bent down to brush a kiss over his cheek. His eyes, still the vague blue of newborns, seemed to look into mine. “You will be loved, little one! I promise you!” 

I left him and went down the stairs carefully, holding to the banister. The butler was at the foot of the stairs, and he lead me to the small room that was decorated in crocodile-footed furniture, screens with hieroglyphs, vases painted in the Egyptian motif. There was even a mummy case in the corner. 

I eased myself down onto an extremely uncomfortable chair and waited for the lady of the manor to deign to put in an appearance. After a few minutes, I had to get to my feet, and I began to pace the room. 

Helena finally came in. “I don’t see why I had to come downstairs, Eugenia. We could have spoken just as easily in my room,” she sulked. 

“Don’t be an ass, Helena. It isn’t healthy to remain in bed so long. Now, why won’t you see your son? He’s perfect.” 

She turned her face away, distressed in spite of herself. “There’s something about Lawrence…” 

“Helena, have you seen him since you gave birth?” I pressed her, and she had the grace to look abashed. “I thought not. Spend time with him. I promise you won’t regret it! Oh! 

“Is something wrong, Eugenia?” 

“Oh dear! I do believe this baby intends to be born right now!” 

**** 

Dr. Cliffe refused to permit me and my new son to be moved, so we had no choice but to stay at Talbot Abbey. 

Thomas shared the cradle with Lawrence. They were both such well-behaved babies, fretting only when we parted them. 

When it finally came time for me to return to Fortescue Manor, both boys resented the separation, howling strenuously. Helena was proving not to be very maternal. She looked green, and asked if I minded very much keeping them together, for just a little while. 

Sir John was away, and until he could be consulted, Henry had no objections. Lawrence and Thomas were able to remain together for a little longer. 

**** 

When the baronet returned home, he was appalled to find his son had been farmed out to neighbors when the boy’s mother was perfectly capable of caring for him. 

He stalked up the front steps of  Fortescue Manor, and I had never seen him so angry. His gait was stiff and his face was flushed with fury. “Lawrence is my son, Lady Eugenia! My wife must learn that even if she won’t see to the boy, we have servants who will!” 

I was tempted to strike him for his callous attitude, but Henry’s hand on my arm restrained me. And then I chanced to catch a glimpse of Sir John’s face. 

As he said, Lawrence was his son. He loved him. 

Of course, once Helena realized this, she used every opportunity to drive a wedge between the two. She became almost pathologically possessive of the boy, finding in him the perfect weapon to use against the husband for whom she no longer cared. 

“Henry, please, the atmosphere in that house is poisonous! It isn’t healthy for a little boy! Well, it isn’t healthy for the adults, either!” 

My husband shook his head, refusing to be swayed by my arguments. “We can’t interfere, my love. As much as we might object to what’s going on at Talbot Abbey, it just isn’t done!” 

He was right. It wasn’t the thing to interfere with the way Sir John chose to conduct his household. I chewed my lip. “Will you permit Thomas to invite young Lawrence to visit with us, my dear?” 

“Oh, my love, as frequently as you’ll allow. Those two are like Damon and Pythias!” 

But eventually, there came a time when the ongoing hostilities between Lawrence’s parents erupted into outright warfare, and Helena took her son back to the country of her birth. 

Leaving both boys devastated.

####

Note: Tommy’s POV

Part 7

 

Three years away from home, going from one assignment to another. If Roddy hadn’t been given permission to accompany me, I couldn’t have done it. 

I wouldn’t have done it. 

**** 

The mission I had been given by my superior in London, the final one, he’d promised, was completed at last, and the report had been couriered to him. 

Before returning home to England, Roddy and I had taken the train to South Africa, and then rode the rest of the way on horseback to the property that belonged to my lover. It had taken us quite some time to visit the diamond mines that were scattered over the uninspired landscape. It was an exhausting, dirty journey that included meetings with the managers who oversaw those mines. 

But it was finally over. All I wanted now was to settle down and raise horses in Kent with Roddy Sayer, the man I loved, and who had been my lover for the past six years.  

Roddy was out booking our passage, and I hoped that soon we would start on our way home. I was too weary to do more than retrieve our mail from the front desk and take the rattletrap elevator to the third floor of our hotel. 

I fitted the key in the lock and entered our room. With a deep groan I stretched out on the bed, letting the soft mattress mold itself to my form. I slid a nail under the flap of an envelope that was postmarked from Fortescue Manor. I tried to concentrate on the words from Mother, but I couldn’t get much passed the opening sentences. My eye drifted shut and I dozed off. 

**** 

“Tommy.” 

I drowsily opened my eye, looked up from where I was reclining on the bed and smiled at Roddy. The love on his face never failed to move me, causing the breath to catch in my throat, and my heart to actually stutter in my chest. 

Out of all the people in the world, this man had chosen me to love. Even the black patch that concealed the ruin that was my right eye never daunted him. 

“Have I told you how much I love you?” I asked softly. 

“Not today, sweetheart. I’m starting to feel neglected!” His expression was easy and warm. The sight of his eyes wandering over my body, stripping the clothes from me, still had the power to leave me trembling with desire. And then he noticed the letter in my hand. “Bad news, Tommy?” 

“Just Mother catching me up on news from back home.” 

“How is Lady Genie?” 

“She’s doing well, love. Do you know, you’re the only one she allows to call her that?” 

He frowned and removed his hat and jacket, hanging them on the coat tree in the corner. “Should I not then, Tommy?” 

I crooked my finger at him and he approached me with a lazy grin, pausing by the bed to rest one knee beside me on the mattress. 

He was still grinning when I reached up and snagged his tie, using it to pull him down to me. Before he could do more than utter a soft, “Oh!” I had my arms wrapped around him, and I swung him across my lap. 

I bent over him and captured his mouth. His fingers threaded through my hair, following the contours of my skull. The needy sounds he made went straight to my cock. And I blessed the old man who had been Roddy’s first lover, who had been generous and caring and who had taught him it was permissible to be vocal in his enjoyment. 

Of course, Charlie Allnutt really hadn’t been that old.  No older, I imagine, than Archie Cutter, my own lover. 

Archie had also been my RSM. Because we were both military, our lovemaking had been done in silence.

In the end, the last thing I had heard from Archie was his roar of outrage as he attacked the Hun who had swung his saber at me, costing me my eye. Archie took the blow that would have killed me, driving his bayonet into the gut of his opponent at the same time. I survived, with a great, gaping wound where my heart should have been. 

“You’re thinking of Archie, aren’t you, sweetheart?” 

I shook myself and smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry, Roddy.” 

He caught my earlobe between his thumb and forefinger and tugged it gently. “No need to be, Tommy. I would never begrudge you thoughts of him. He gave his life to save yours, and if he hadn’t, I truly would have been alone after Charlie died.” 

“So, you’re not jealous of Archie?” 

“No more than you are of Charlie,” he murmured archly, and I sighed, knowing I had lost another round. Roddy moved his legs off my lap and settled himself beside me, resting his head on my chest. “Of course, if Archie was still alive, I’d have to challenge him to a duel for you.” 

“You would?” I had wanted Roddy since I had first seen him, sopping wet and staggering out of the Lake after the sinking of the German steamship, Konigin Louisa. I’d have attempted to steal him away from Allnutt, but Archie saw the way I was eyeing the young man. 

That was when I was still so full of myself, thinking the world owed me my fondest desires. 

In his most official voice, he told me he had dispatches that needed to be seen to in my tent. Once in there, he had lowered the flap, lowered my trousers and proceeded to give me a hiding. 

The normal hustle and bustle of the camp disguised the sound of the spanking my lover was administering.  “That’s a happy pair, Thomas! You will not interfere!” 

I’d been so randy from the feel of his calloused palm on my naked arse that he’d barely had time to prepare my hole before I was backing onto his cock and taking it deep within me, letting him fuck me to a shattering climax. 

“You’re thinking of the time Archie spanked you, aren’t you, Tommy?” 

I frowned at him. “What gives you that idea?” I huffed. And then I gasped as he rubbed the heel of his hand firmly over the bulge in my trousers. “You know me too bloody well, Roddy Sayer!” 

He flipped himself over onto my legs and scooted down, his fingers nimble on the buttons of my fly. Roddy parted the placket and carefully took my cock out. I was already fully engorged from the thoughts of that earlier time, and he dipped his head forward and licked the tip of my arousal with a broad swipe of his tongue. 

“I love the way you taste, have I ever told you that, sweetheart?” He planted tiny kisses along the thick vein that ran under my shaft. “I love the way you feel.” He blew a breath that ruffled the wiry hairs that covered my balls. “I love you, Tommy.” 

And my cock was engulfed by the wet heat of his mouth. My lover’s head moved smoothly up and down and I shuddered at the exquisite sensations. Whenever he did this, I could never last long, and I did want to this to last. I opened my eye resolutely, determined to distract myself with thoughts of England. 

But Roddy wasn’t having any of that. He released my cock and ran a finger over the weeping tip. As he swallowed me again, that finger found its way between my arse cheeks and started teasing my anus, dipping in shallowly. 

I bucked up into his mouth one more time, and began to spill myself into his throat. 

It took me some time to catch my breath. “You didn’t come, love,” I breathed. 

“You weren’t paying attention, sweetheart.” I could hear the smile in his voice. He took my hand and pressed it to the front of his trousers. They were damp, and I recalled the rapid friction of his lower body against my thigh. 

“You’re right, and I’m sorry. I love when you ride me like that, it makes my climax even better!” 

He rolled over onto his back and sighed happily. “We can do it again, if you feel that bad about it, Tommy. I wouldn’t mind.” 

“You’re a scamp, you know that, Roddy? And I love you more than life itself!” 

“You do have a way with words, Captain Smythe!” 

“Don’t you think you ought to get out of those trousers before you catch a chill?” I asked. 

“Actually, I’m going to take a bath. Why don’t you read that letter to me while I’m in the tub?” 

I watched as he skinned out of his clothes and padded into the adjoining bath. That was one thing I had insisted upon when finding a hotel. With the number of times we made love to each other, I didn’t want my lover having to traipse down the hall, or worse still, down the stairs and out into the back yard, to use the facilities. 

“I can’t hear you,” he sing-songed as he turned the water on. 

“Pushy get, aren’t you, love? I was imagining you all naked in that bath!” 

“Oh, in that case…” Roddy draped himself against the doorframe, and gave me a come hither look. He laughed when I tossed a pillow at him. 

I tucked my cock away and did up my trousers, then went to join him in the bathroom. He was just climbing into the tub, the silver chain and pendant he was never without sliding over to snag on an erect nipple. 

My hand went to the similar chain that hung under my shirt, and my fingers closed over it. We didn’t wear wedding rings, but we wore those. 

The lid on the commode was down, and I seated myself on it, tilting my head to one side. I found when I was tired that I tended to lose perception in my left eye, and it became a trifle difficult for me to read. 

“Come join me, sweetheart. Let the heat of the water soak away your fatigue.” 

“You just want me in that tub with you!” 

 “Well, yes, that’s true.” The smile he gave me was tender. “Will you join me?” 

“Have I ever refused you anything, love?” I stood up and gave him the letter, then quickly shed my clothes. 

Roddy kept the letter from getting damp as I stepped into the tub and sank down before him. Once I was comfortably settled against his chest, he handed it back to me. Even though I assured him I had no objection to him reading any mail addressed to me, well, as long as it wasn’t from a certain address in London, he steadfastly refused. 

I imagined it must have been his Methodist upbringing. Being the younger brother of a missionary cannot have been much joy. He rarely spoke of his childhood, except, perhaps to tell me some tale guaranteed to make me laugh. 

Roddy’s lips wandered over the curve of my shoulder to my neck. “A penny for them, sweetheart,” he whispered. 

“Sorry, love. Just a bit foggy. You do have that way with you!” I snapped out the paper, finally able to focus, and began to read. 

“My dear Thomas, 

“First let me assure you that I am well, as are all our people. 

“Lawrence has been overseeing the rebuilding of Talbot Abbey, and it is now finally completed, but it has been a very difficult time. The first year was exceptionally hard, with a number of the workers being horribly killed. 

“Things were better for a time, but I regret to tell you that the deaths have started again. Colonel Montford, the Chief Constable, is looking into them. The gypsies have returned, and of course the rumors are once again running wild. 

“Lawrence has become gaunt, and that limp of his from the war has returned to plague him. He’s taken to using a silver-headed walking stick he purchased from Jenny Williams’ little shop in the village. 

“Thomas, please come home as soon as possible. 

“A hug and a kiss to you, my dearest son, and to Roddy, the son of my heart.” 

I was shaking so hard the water splashed over the side of the tub. 

“Roddy…” 

“Yes, sweetheart. We’ll leave first thing in the morning.”

####

Note: I mentioned at the start of this that I’d taken liberties. I’m doing it again. Those familiar with the movie know that Jennie Williams dies in an attack by the werewolf. Not this time. Needful Things was created by Stephen King, but the name of the shop got to me, and since Jennie will be selling things you don’t realize you need until you see them, I thought it was apropos. Upper Uncton is from the Married…With Children The England Show episodes.

And for those who care about these things, there is an insinuation of m/f.

Part 8

 

I had thought that returning to England, to the place where I grew up, would bring an end to the nightmares that plagued me, nightmares filled with blood and pain and fear. And something else, as well. 

Something dark. And hot. 

I thought wrong. 

**** 

It was a bad summer, that summer we started rebuilding Talbot Abbey. A number of workers were found dead, their bodies savagely mutilated. No one went out after dark. Doors and windows were barred, and a certain local gunsmith let it be known that if a customer would provide the metal, he would create the bullets: silver bullets. 

Of course, it was all nonsense. 

**** 

The gypsies, who had been welcomed on Talbot land since the very first baronet, moved on. I sat on my horse and watched from a distance as their gaily-colored caravans rolled down the dusty road. A pall of disquiet had hung over me like a cloud that summer, and it dissipated the further away they went. 

But I knew that eventually, they would return to Kent. 

**** 

I was aware Father had a penchant for astronomy, but somehow I never realized the extent until I went to the warehouse where most of the Abbey’s furnishings had been stored and found his telescope. 

It was a beautiful piece of equipment, with brass fittings that had been handsomely worked. I decided on the spur of the moment that I would surprise Father by including an observatory in the restored Abbey. 

It was almost completed at that point, however, and the cost to tear out some walls and redo them completely in glass would have been prohibitive. 

But there was a flat stretch of roof that was accessible through one of the gabled attics. I made my way up to that part of the roof. The expanse of sky visible from that spot seemed to stretch on forever, and the view at night would be breathtaking. Off in the distance, I could just make out the church spire and rooftops of the village. 

This would be perfect. 

I gave orders for the men to frame out the room, deciding I would also need to find some way for the ceiling to open with the throw of a switch. As I limped down the stairs and got behind the wheel of my Aston Martin I was busy trying to determine the number of glass sheets I’d need to order to encase this room. I drove into the village to see George Twiddle, who was the village’s glazier. 

As I drove down the cobblestoned main street of Upper Uncton, my eye was caught by a decidedly intriguing sight. Outside Jennie Williams’ shop, Needful Things, a young man, his back to me, was sweeping the walk. As he bent low to examine something on the pavement, the material of his trousers pulled snugly over his buttocks, emphasizing their taut swell. I just avoided driving the Aston Martin into the wall of the building. 

I swallowed hard and carefully maneuvered my automobile to the side of the road. The glass could wait. 

“Hello, there,” I called as I got out of the vehicle and approached the owner of that delectable arse, to get a shock. 

“Mr. Talbot? Oh, my! How very nice to see you again!” 

“*Jennie*?” I could get nothing beyond her name out of my mouth. It had been a long time since I had buried my shaft in a warm, willing body, and I had gone from flaccid to erect in a split second. I was very disappointed to realize that erection would not be put into effect. 

She blushed. “You noticed I was wearing trousers, didn’t you? I know it’s not the thing, but the shop needed such a going over; I’ve found that trousers are so much more comfortable when I must do that kind of work. And then I’ve always been a bit of a hoyden, I’m afraid!”

“Er, yes, I seem to remember you always preferred them. Well, you look very dashing in those trousers, I must say, Miss Williams.” 

Her blush deepened. “How kind of you to say so. Would you like to come into the shop, Mr. Talbot? I set the tea to steeping while I swept the walk.” 

“Thank you. I’d like that very much.” I would? I began to question my sanity? I had known Jennie Williams to say hello to, but nothing more. After all, she was village, and her parents would never have allowed her to mix with the landed gentry. 

I followed her into the cool dimness of Needful Things. She led me past the curtained doorway to the living quarters at the rear of the shop. 

“Please, Mr. Talbot, won’t you take a seat? How do you take your tea?” 

“Two lumps, please?” I watched as she dropped the sugar cubes into a mug of tea and slid it across the table to me. Unable to tear my eyes from the high, angular cheekbones, I sighed and shifted uncomfortably in my seat. She would have made a very pretty boy! 

We chatted easily of this and that, but eventually I caught a glimpse of the clock on the wall. 

“Oh! Look at the time! I must be off! Thank you for giving me tea, Jennie.” I felt a twinge of regret at having to leave. Aside from being the owner of that tight, boyish arse, she was also a pleasure to talk to.  “I need to stop by George Twiddle’s to order glass for the Abbey.” 

“Yes, I’ve heard you’re rebuilding.” She looked wistful. 

“Would you care to come up and see it sometime? It would be no problem!” 

Her face lit up. “You wouldn’t mind?” 

“Not at all. Let me know when would be a good time, and I’ll come pick you up!” I got to my feet and staggered. 

Jennie noticed how I was favoring my right leg, but she refrained from asking me about it, unlike everyone else in the village. 

So I told her. “A bullet in the Great War broke my leg, and it’s developed a tendency to pain me every now and again.” 

“I’ve got just the thing for you!” She hurried into the shop, leaving me to follow slowly. 

On her knees this time, that tempting rump was once more raised high, wriggling as she searched for something, and I gritted my teeth. I had only just succeeded in battling down my arousal, and now my unruly flesh was bent on displaying its interest again. 

“Here it is!” She sat back on her heels and exhibited her trophy. It was a walking stick fashioned from ebony. But it was the handle that was matchless, instantly drawing the eye. Crafted from beaten silver, it was in the shape of a wolf’s head. 

“Jennie!” I breathed. There was something about it that called to me. I had to own it. “This is exquisite!” 

“I can make you a deal on it, if you’re interested.” 

I ran my hand over the smooth wood. “Name your price, Jennie! The Abbey? My first born?” 

“Nothing so dramatic, Lawrence.” She chuckled, a deep, rich sound, and mentioned a figure that was reasonable. I reached for my wallet.  She accepted the bills and tucked them into a trouser pocket. 

I strolled toward the door, testing my new walking stick. Jennie walked beside me. 

“It’s been good seeing you again, Jennie.” 

I got into the automobile, watching her through the rear view mirror. She waved me off, and I drove on to the glazier’s shop to place my order. 

**** 

The house was finally finished. Father would be motoring down to see it for the first time. I was so nervous I had bitten my fingernails down to the quick.

 

“Lawrence, you’re a talented architect!” Lady Eugenia assured me as she instructed the men in the placement of the furniture Father had put into storage once he decided to let the Abbey. She had a memory like a steel trap. I never would have remembered where each piece was supposed to go. “No, no! That console table goes against the far wall. Yes, that’s much better!” 

“But…” 

She gave my arm a shake, just as she would do when I was a small boy, and I smiled at the memory, momentarily soothed. “Your father will appreciate what you’ve accomplished here. And he’s going to love the observatory you’ve built for him!” 

“Yes, M’lady.” I was back to worrying a thumbnail. 

“Now, go put some sticking plasters on your fingers before you bleed all over Sir John!”   

“Yes, M’lady.” 

**** 

The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost came to a stop in the circular drive. Andrews, the family chauffeur, hurried around to open the door for my father, who climbed out stiffly. It suddenly occurred to me that he was no longer a young man, and must be feeling his age. 

Father turned and extended his hand, and a shapely, silk-clad leg emerged. He assisted the young woman to whom the leg was attached out of the automobile. 

She was breathtaking, if that was the way your preferences ran, with glossy hair that tumbled over her shoulders in a cascade of fair curls. Her flirty skirt settled just below her knees, and the neat jacket emphasized her lush curves. 

“Lawrence!” He hailed me as I stood in the doorway, waiting for him to approach. The young woman looped her arm through his, and together they sauntered up the walk. 

“Father.” I limped down the steps to greet them, leaning heavily on the silver-headed walking stick. 

He eyed my stance briefly before turning to his companion. “This is my son, Gwen. Lawrence, this is Gwen Conliffe. She’ll be staying at the Upper Uncton Arms. I wanted you to meet her before I had Andrews drive her on to the village.” 

I extended my hand. “Miss Conliffe.” 

“Mr. Talbot.” 

“Oh, come, you’re both being much to formal! Gwen and Lawrence! I insist!” 

We stood there uncomfortably, not knowing what to say. 

Father frowned at me. “I’m sure Gwen would enjoy a tour of the Abbey.” 

We spoke at the same time. 

“Of course…” 

“Oh, I couldn’t impose…” 

“Nonsense, Gwen. This is the first time I’ve been down since Lawrence starting restoring the Abbey, and I’m most eager to see what my son has accomplished. This appears to be a duplicate of the original façade.” I couldn’t tell if that pleased him or not. “Come along!” He took her arm and hustled her into the front hall. 

I followed more slowly, letting the walking stick bear most of my weight. 

What was Father up to? 

And suddenly a suspicion began nibbling at the corners of my brain. As his heir, the only way for the succession to be assured would be if I produced an heir myself. 

To produce an heir, I would need a wife. 

Was Miss Conliffe Father’s idea of a suitable candidate for that position?

####

Note: I don’t know how this happened, but m/f just kind of slipped in there!

Jennie’s POV 

Part 9

 

When I was sixteen, my whole world changed. 

There was a young man who lived a few doors down from us in the village of Upper Uncton. I had been watching him whenever he wasn’t looking, and more than anything I wanted to attend the local dance with him. 

He was walking out with a girl from Lower Uncton however, one who was soft and pink and who shuddered delicately whenever she saw me pass by in my trousers. 

I wanted to punch her on the nose. 

I had to know if there was any chance I could attract his attention, so I climbed out of my window, which was at the rear of our house. No one saw me, and I made my way to the gypsy camp on Talbot land. 

There was only a half moon that night, its light partially veiled by the scudding clouds that floated fitfully through the night sky, but it was enough to illuminate the path before me. 

The old woman, Maleva, regarded me thoughtfully when I slipped into her tent long after everyone else had gone, and for a moment I was afraid she would refuse to read my future. 

But she seated herself with a sigh. “I have been waiting for you, my child. Show me your palm.” 

I sat down and thrust my hand before her, almost bouncing in my seat with excitement as I waited for her to tell me what lay in store for me. 

She regarded me with sorrowful eyes, reluctant to reveal what she saw in my palm, but being young and headstrong, I pressed her. 

Gypsies always foretold true love and long lives. 

Instead, what Maleva had to tell me left me white-faced and shaken, the young man completely forgotten.

I rose from the makeshift chair and backed away from her. “No! That can’t be true!” My voice was almost shrill. 

“My child…” 

“No!” I repeated. I didn’t want to hear more and wheeled, hurrying from the camp. All the long way home I had the nagging feeling that someone…that some*thing* was following me. 

The sweat of fear began to roll down my spine, and I increased my pace. I glanced anxiously over my shoulder, hoping to see someone I knew returning home, but of course no one was about at that time of night. 

Behind me was the snap of twigs as if they were being stepped upon, the rustle of bushes as they were pushed aside. 

My nerves overcame me, and I broke into a terrified run, but before I could gain the safety of home, an arm reached out and snagged my waist. I was thrust up against a tree, and hot breath feathered the hair that pulled loose from the string that kept it out of my eyes. 

A hard, masculine body pressed against mine, and I could feel his cock nudging the vee of my thighs. His tongue licked the side of my throat, and long teeth bit gently at the spot where my neck and shoulder joined. My hands came up to push him away, but the texture of the fur vest he wore turned the push to a caress. I threaded my fingers through the long strands, its softness teasing my palms. Suddenly I wanted to tear open my shirt and feel that fur sift over my nipples. His fingers rubbed along the inseam of my trousers, pressing the rough material against my woman’s flesh, and I moaned and rocked into his touch. Lost to all sense of propriety, I would have shed my clothes and let him have me.  

As I reached for the buttons, the light went on in the house, and a window slammed up. “Jennie? Good God, girl, what’s going on out there? What are you doing?” The voice grew panicky. “Who’s that with you?” 

The sound of the shotgun being cocked was loud in the still autumn night. 

My lover stepped back from me, and I felt bereft. “Don’t go!” I pleaded. 

He growled softly and vanished in the shadows. 

“Take me with you!” 

But I was alone. 

I skinned up the trellis outside my bedroom window and swung into the security of my home. But it was a false security.  My father was waiting for me there. 

“Who did you go out to meet?” 

“No one, Da, I swear! I just walked to get my fortune told!” 

“You were with a gypsy?” He backhanded me across the mouth. “You’re a slut, Jennie Williams, and I’ll not have you bringing disgrace on this family!” 

“No, Da!” 

 My mother stood in the doorway and watched as he beat me. 

I lay fully clothed on my bed and stared up at the ceiling, the gypsy’s words reverberating in my head. 

Violence. Terror. Death. This was my future. I rolled over to spare my sore ribs. 

The next morning, they sent me away, and it would be many years before I returned. 

**** 

“Hello there!” 

That seductive tone arrowed directly between my legs. I straightened up, surreptitiously rubbing my thighs together. “Mr. Talbot?” I grinned happily. “Oh, my! How very nice to see you again!” 

“*Jennie*?” The shock in his voice was so apparent I would have laughed if it hadn’t saddened me. 

I could feel myself blush as his eyes wandered over my lower body. “You noticed I was wearing trousers, didn’t you? I know it’s not the thing, but the shop needed such a going over; I’ve found that trousers are so much more comfortable when I must do that kind of work. And then I’ve always been a bit of a hoyden, I’m afraid!”

“Er, yes, I seem to remember you always preferred them. Well, you look very dashing in those trousers, I must say, Miss Williams.” 

“How kind of you to say so.” Was it possible for me to blush any harder? I grew annoyed with myself. I was a grown woman now, and could dress and do as I pleased. The success I had made of my little shop, Needful Things, assured that.  When I first returned to Upper Uncton upon the death of my parents, I had found the business to be barely thriving. But I had learned much while in exile, and determined to use my knowledge to see that I lived independently and well. “Would you like to come into the shop, Mr. Talbot? I set the tea to steeping while I swept the walk.” 

“Thank you. I’d like that very much.” I don’t know which of us was more surprised. 

He followed me into the back of the shop, where I lived now, and I could feel an almost palpable caress to my backside, but when I turned to glance at him, his eyes were on my face. 

“Please, Mr. Talbot, won’t you take a seat? How do you take your tea?” 

I dropped the two lumps of sugar into the steaming liquid and passed it to him, then poured my own mug and added a dollop of honey. 

I always liked Lawrence Talbot and his friend, Thomas Fortescue-Smythe. They had never made fun of me because I preferred trousers to skirts, and in spite of the seven year age difference, they always said hello to me. 

Before long we were Jennie and Lawrence. He spoke of his life in Canada, and how desperately he had missed Kent. I told him about the years I had spent away from Upper Uncton. 

“Why did you leave, Jennie?” 

I looked away, unwilling to bring up that unhappy time. Of course, I had long dismissed the gypsy’s words, deeming them to be nothing more than nonsense to frighten an impressionable girl. 

Lawrence realized how uncomfortable I was, and glanced up at the wall clock. “Oh! Look at the time! I must be off! Thank you for giving me tea, Jennie. I need to stop by George Twiddle’s to order glass for the Abbey.” 

“Yes, I’ve heard you’re rebuilding.” The Abbey had been one of the most stately homes in the county, and I regretted never having been within it. 

“Would you care to come up and see it sometime? It would be no problem!” 

 “You wouldn’t mind?” 

“Not at all. Let me know when would be a good time, and I’ll come pick you up!” His leg seemed unable to bear his weight, and he nearly stumbled. 

I watched as he recovered, deliberately keeping my expression blank. It was not my business. I made it a point never to listen to village gossip. 

Nevertheless, he told me what happened. “A bullet in the Great War broke my leg, and it’s developed a tendency to pain me every now and again.” 

“I’ve got just the thing for you!” I’d come across a number of walking sticks on my searches to find stock for Needful Things, oak, hawthorn, teak, with handles that were quite functional. My clientele were rather unremarkable, and preferred the commonplace. 

But there was one stick… Somehow it had wound up beneath a chest of drawers. I went down on my knees to pull it out, aware that Lawrence was behind me. Perversely, I added a little extra wiggle to my backside before I settled on my heels, and then had the grace to be ashamed of myself.  

“Here it is!” I held it up, a lustrous ebony stick with a silver wolf’s head as the handle. 

“Jennie! This is exquisite!” His hands fondled the hard wood, and I found myself mesmerized by those long fingers. 

I could see he wanted it. That was the way with things in this shop. People would wander in, drawn for no particular reason, and idly examine the contents. Something would catch their eye and they had to have it. 

I didn’t want to fleece Lawrence Talbot, although I could have. He offered the Abbey or his first born, and I had to chuckle. “Nothing so dramatic, Lawrence.” I named a figure that had him reaching for his wallet. 

He paced toward the door, his hand fitted around the wolf’s head, and it seemed to bear his weight comfortably. 

I walked him out to his Aston Martin and watched as he climbed behind the wheel. 

“It’s been good seeing you again, Jennie.” 

It would be good to see even more of him. I had not had a lover since returning to Upper Uncton, and Lawrence was very attractive. 

It would be just my luck if he preferred men.

####

Note: m/f, but this is necessary, and will lead to something … interesting 

Part 10

 

I stared down at the letter in my hand. It was from Hyde Livingston, the doctor I had been living with in Canada, and whom I had left behind when I’d been obliged to return home. 

When I first arrived in England, we had corresponded religiously. He had even suggested shutting down his practice and moving across the pond to be close by. Very carefully, I had not responded to that, and so nothing came of it. 

After that, the letters began falling off. 

How long had it been since I’d last written to Hyde? I scrubbed at my face and tried to recall, but couldn’t. 

Not that it mattered. It seemed Hyde was writing me off. The words swam on the page, and then settled themselves. 

“I’m sorry, Law. I’ve tried to be patient. I’ve waited and waited. 

“I’m not waiting any longer.” He signed it as he usually did, with a great, slashing H. 

It looked as if I had demolished another love affair. Not that I could have done anything about the love I had borne Thomas Fortescue-Smythe. We had been too young, and events conspired against us. Although sometimes I wondered. If Mother hadn’t taken me to Canada…If Thomas hadn’t joined the army… If Roddy Sayer hadn’t come into his life… 

“Lawrence!” 

I turned wearily and stared at my father. For someone who was looking at the other side of seventy, he was awfully energetic. Except when he was matchmaking. Then he became the epitome of frailty and decrepitude. 

“Yes, Father?” 

“I’ve invited Gwen for tea.” 

My mouth tightened. He’d been trying to throw us together for the last two months. “I’m sorry, Father, you’ll have to entertain Miss Conliffe yourself. I have an appointment I cannot put off.” 

He frowned and glared at me from under his brows. I left him there before he could call me a liar. 

He would have been correct, but I had no intention of marrying the young woman he had chosen simply because she would have been ideal for my brother John. 

The only telephone in Talbot Abbey was in my father’s study. When he learned I had planned to have other rooms in the house wired, he became mulish and refused to permit it, stating it was still his house, thank you very much, Lawrence, and he was still very much alive. When he was buried, then I could do what I pleased with the pile. 

I ground my teeth in frustration. 

The study was darkly paneled, although only a week before Father arrived the walls had been covered in pine. He had taken one look at the bright, pleasant room and sneered. 

“It’s too light. I’ll never get any work done in here!” 

“But Father…” 

“No. I want it the way it was! I want this ripped out and cherrywood put in.” 

And of course my supplier had an enormous amount in stock. No one wanted such dark paneling any more, it wasn’t in style, but I could not convince my father of that. 

I limped into the room, overcome by gloom the moment I crossed the threshold. I curled my lip at the shadows that seemed to fill each corner, and crossed to the large, dark alder desk. 

The operator responded when I picked up the receiver. “Number, please.” 

“Tess, this is Lawrence Talbot. Can you connect me with Needful Things?” 

“Jennie Williams’ shop? Certainly, Mr. Talbot. One moment, please.” 

After a minute, the connection was made, and I heard Jennie’s warm contralto. “Needful Things.” 

“Jennie…” 

“Miss Williams, I have a call from Mr. Lawrence Talbot.” 

I fumed silently while Jennie said, “Thank you, Tess. I’ll take it.” 

As soon as the operator disconnected, Jennie burst into laughter. “I’m sorry, Lawrence, but you should be used to this!” 

“I know,” but I was disgruntled. Tess insisted on announcing me every blasted time! “Listen, Jennie, would you be able to take tea with me?” 

“I’d love it, Lawrence. Would you like to come here?” We’d been seeing a good deal of each other since I first saw her in Upper Uncton, and she often made me tea in the back of her shop. 

“No, I want to take you to this little inn I know of near Tunbridge Wells. I can pick you up in the Aston Martin in say, three quarters of an hour?” That would make it almost three o’clock, and we could be at the inn by teatime. 

“Do I need to fear for my reputation, Lawrence?” I could hear the smile in her voice. 

“You never have to fear me, Jennie,” I told her earnestly. 

“I know, dammit!” Her words were teasing. “I’ll get rid of these customers and run a comb through my hair.” And now they were almost caressing. 

“Er, Jennie, would you be upset if I asked you to wear trousers?” 

“Not at all, Law. That’s all I have in my closet. Ta for now.” 

“Ta.” I swallowed hard as I hung up the telephone. The last person…the only person to call me ‘Law’ was Hyde. 

But Hyde… 

Determinedly, I pushed him from my mind. I had other things to worry about. 

Father was pressuring me more and more to marry, claiming he wanted to see me settled with a wife and nippers before he shuffled off this mortal coil. I knew from my one experience in my youth that I could get aroused enough to penetrate a woman, which would be necessary for me to father a child. 

Gwen Conliffe literally left me limp. I could never get a child on her. 

But Jennie Williams… I liked her, and while I still regretted that she wasn’t a man, she did have the most delectable arse I had yet to see on a woman. 

I also knew Jennie found me attractive, I could tell by the way her eyes would linger on my body when she thought I wasn’t looking. 

Could I convince her to let me make love to her? And if I was successful, could I convince her to marry me? 

**** 

Jennie was wearing a pair of men’s dress slacks that looked exceedingly fetching on her. They molded over the curve of her arse, and my unruly cock grew hard. 

She glanced over her shoulder to find my eyes glued to her derriere. “Lawrence, you naughty scamp. Are you undressing me with your eyes?” 

I smiled at her ruefully. “I beg your pardon, Jennie. But I do like the way you fill those trousers.” 

She got into the passenger seat and I shut the door for her. “Let me be perfectly honest with you, Lawrence,” she said as I climbed behind the wheel and put the vehicle in gear. “I like you very much. I’m not adverse to having an affair with you, if that’s what this tete a tete is about.” 

“But…?” 

Jennie looked startled. “I beg your pardon?” 

“It sounded as if you were about to add a ‘but’.” 

Her lips tightened, and she kept her gaze on the passing scenery. A hot blush covered her cheeks. “You’re correct, of course. The ‘but’ is that I don’t think you’ll want to have sex with me once you see me naked.” She ran her hand through the short cap of white-blonde curls that covered her head. “I look like an adolescent boy, Law. No hips, no breasts, no curves to speak of!” 

There was that nickname again, but this time it didn’t seem to rip at me. I was starting to like the way it sounded on her lips. “That isn’t a detraction, as far as I’m concerned, Jennie. Would you let me make love to you?” 

The sound of her breath catching in her throat was audible over the purr of my engine. I risked a quick look, but she didn’t appear angry. 

As I turned the Aston Martin onto the road that would take us to Tunbridge Wells, warm fingers slid over my thigh to cup the flesh between my legs. My cock jumped and hardened, and I groaned. 

My left foot stamped down on the clutch, and the engine whined in protest. “Je…Jennie,” I groaned. “Stop! I’ll crash the car!” 

She gave my cock a last squeeze. “I think this fine gentleman would rather you wrecked the car than that I stop!” she teased, and I growled in agreement. 

“Don’t tempt me, please! We’re almost there!” 

Jennie leaned close to me, cupped my cheek, and drew it toward her to press a kiss to the corner of my mouth. “You’re so sweet, Lawrence!” 

“I’m not sweet, Jennie. I’m… I’m the worst sort of man for you to know. I need to talk to you, my dear.” There was no one in the car park when I pulled into it. I parked the sporty little vehicle and faced her. 

Jennie’s expression flattened, and anger began to flare in her beautiful golden-brown eyes. “You don’t want to see me anymore. Because I touched you. Because I wear trousers. Because I’m not pretty. Because…” 

“Jennie, shut up! It has nothing to do with you! I think you’re very pretty, and I like you in trousers, very much indeed!” She subsided and I took a deep breath. “There’s something you need to know about me. I like… I like men.” 

“What has that to say about anything? I like… Oh. You like men!” 

I could feel my face burn. Sharp as a tack, was Jennie Williams. One of the reasons I enjoyed her company so much. Well, that and her sweet arse. “That’s behind me now, Jennie, I promise you. I must marry and have an heir. Would you…would you consider being my wife? I’m very fond of you,” I hastened to assure her, “and I think we would rub along together tolerably well. And eventually, you’d be the wife of a baronet!” 

“Lawrence! I thought we were friends! As if I cared a fig about social position!” 

I shifted uncomfortably behind the wheel. “I beg your pardon, Jennie. We are friends. It’s just that, since I must marry, I’d at least like the lady to be someone I could like.” I groaned and buried my face in my hands. “Jennie…” I tried to apologize. 

She was laughing softly. “It’s all right, Law, I understand. But oh, my! You’ve taken me by surprise!” 

“Will you at least think about it, before refusing me outright?” 

Her eyes were bright with interest. “Very well, Law.  I just have one request, though.” 

“Certainly, Jennie.” 

“Will you feed me? I’m famished!” 

“Of course!” I ran around to Jennie’s side to open the door for her. She took the arm I offered her, and we entered the quaint little inn. 

Mr. Nidd, the publican, came bustling forward. “Mr. Talbot, I have your table waiting!” He smiled at Jennie. “This way, Miss.” 

We followed him to a table at the rear of his inn. I seated Jennie and took the chair opposite her. 

“I’ll bring your tea straight away, sir.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Nidd.” I said nothing more until our meal had been served to us. “We’ll need some honey, if you don’t mind, Mr. Nidd.” 

The smile on Jennie’s face was enough to light up the room. “Oh, Law, how sweet of you to remember!” She raised the teapot and poured carefully, handing me my cup. “Thank you,” she murmured as the innkeeper placed the pot of honey at her elbow. 

 “Actually bringing your nancy boys out in public now, Talbot?” 

My cup tipped and I narrowly avoided a lapful of hot tea. I glared at the man standing behind Jennie and started to rise, more than willing to engage in fisticuffs. Colonel Montford, the chief constable of the parish that contained Fortescue Manor and Talbot Abbey, and my own personal bete noir, rocked back and forth on his big feet, grinning evilly. 

I’d been fairly celibate since I’d come home, and I had no idea how he discovered I strolled that side of the street, but he never let an opportunity pass to snipe at me. If I cared enough, I would have wondered about that. 

My companion put her hand on my mine and shook her head. I subsided back into my seat. 

“You remember Paul Montford, don’t you, Jennie? This is a little out of your bailiwick, isn’t it, Paul?” 

Jennie turned her head and let her gaze rake him from head to toe. 

The chief constable’s eyes goggled. “Jennie Williams?” 

“Why, yes,” I studied her carefully. “I do believe it is. Do you have some objection to my taking tea with her, Colonel?” 

“She… Um…What? Beg pardon, I’m sure!” Colonel Montford left abruptly. 

“Bloody arse!” I hissed softly. “Can’t tell the difference between a woman and a nancy boy!” Conveniently I forgot how I had reacted upon first seeing Jennie from the rear. “Have another cup of tea, my dear, and don’t let him worry you!” 

Her expression became amused. “I never let Paul Montford worry me, Law. Officious, sanctimonious prig! Do you know, when I was a girl, I thought I fancied him?” She shook her head, as if amazed at her lack of sense, but then grew serious. “Do you have to face that sort of attitude often?” 

I shrugged. “It happens on occasion.” 

“What do you do?” 

“Well, you stopped me this time, but normally I would have blacked his eye!” 

She burst into laughter. “Seriously, Law?” 

“Seriously, Jennie, I would just have ignored the bastard. Beg pardon.” 

She leaned forward and pressed her palm to my cheek. I was glad I had taken the time to run a razor over my face before I went to pick her up. Of late, I found I needed to shave more frequently. 

Jennie was studying my eyes, and I wondered what she saw in them. I forced myself to keep my gaze steady. 

“Oh, I do like you, Lawrence Talbot!” She sat back and picked up her cup, taking a sip before speaking again. “You know, Law, I rather think I would like to marry you. If you are quite certain?”

I took her hand and raised it to my mouth. “Jennie, you’ve made me the happiest of men! I promise you won’t regret this!” 

But events had already been put into motion.

####

Note: m/f/?

football here refers to soccer 

Part 11

 

If I had been paying attention to my dreams, perhaps I could have prevented it. Or perhaps what happened  had been foretold by the gypsy, Maleva, so many years before, and I never could have escaped it. 

The package arrived a couple of days after I took Jennie to tea. It was addressed simply, Mr. Lawrence Talbot, Talbot Abbey.  

There was no return address. 

Curious, I turned it over in my hands, gave it a shake, but there was no outward sign of what it might contain. Since Father had Andrews motor him off to London, I was afforded a modicum of privacy. I carried the package to the study and reached for my brother John's boyhood penknife, which Father kept in his desk drawer.  

Occasionally I would spot him running wistful fingers over it. 

I used it as a letter opener, and now sliced it through the brown paper that was wrapped around a simple cedar box. There was a gold clasp that secured it, and once I released it, the top opened readily. 

Within, on a bed of black satin, was... I swallowed and took the object from the box with unsteady hands. It was approximately eight inches long and two inches thick, with a bulbous head. About three inches above the slightly flared base was a rather unusual feature: a knob or knot that protruded, marring the sleek profile of the object.  

Made of butter soft black leather, it was a dildo, one of the most finely crafted I had ever seen.  

I dropped it back into the box as if it had burned my fingers. My mouth was dry, and my cock was becoming engorged. I slammed the lid down and set it on Father's desk. Who would have sent me such a thing? 

I paced the carpet in front of the window, running my hand restlessly through my hair. Who *would* have sent me such a thing? And what was I to do with it? 

I moistened my lips and approached it again. When I raised the lid it lay there, sensuously exposed. Only then did I notice the jar nestled in the folds of the luxurious material. I opened the jar, and an alluring, seductive odor wafted from the ointment that filled it. 

Now my cock felt like an iron bar in my trousers. A massive shudder rippled through my body. I sealed the jar and shut the box, then hurried up to my room. 

Sure the door was locked behind me, I set the box on a small table near the window, and began to pace once more. I hadn't felt this aroused in a very long time. My trousers were tented by my erection. I opened them and reached in to free my aching flesh, but the thought of wanking off was not enough. I needed more than my own hand. 

I took the black object from the box and ran a finger along its length. *This* was what I needed! 

I stripped out of my clothes and carried the dildo and the jar to my bed, where I laid down and spread my legs.  Unable to prevent myself, I ran the dildo over my cheeks and jaw, its leather scent filling my nostrils. With a soft moan, I parted my lips, slid it into my mouth and began to suck on it. By relaxing my throat, I managed to get the knot past my lips. I stroked my cock and balls in tempo and  became more and more aroused. 

Finally I opened the jar and covered the black leather with the spicy ointment. I bent my legs back toward my chest and positioned the dildo at my anus. I rubbed the blunt tip across my opening, smearing it with the lubricant, and then began pressing it into me. With no effort at all, the snug muscle relaxed and allowed the intruder entrance. 

It had been long years since I had been invaded like this, and I pulled my legs back further and thrust the dildo in deeper. A flash of lightning went through me as the knot slid into me and the dildo hit my prostate, and I bit my lip to prevent a groan of pleasure from alerting anyone who passed my door as to my activities. 

The ointment seemed to heat up, increasing the level of my passion, and I withdrew the dildo until the knot was just outside my anus, then drove it into my back passage in earnest. With my other hand, I squeezed and plucked at my nipples, which seemed to be connected directly to my cock. It was leaking precome now, and I left the dildo imbedded in me while I smeared the clear liquid over the head of my erection. I pressed down on the slit at the tip and started to jerk myself off. 

The fullness in my channel was like an itch that needed desperately to be scratched. I abandoned my nipples and went back to fucking myself with the lovely leather phallus. Too quickly I began to come, spilling my semen over my hand and onto my groin. 

I collapsed in a sprawl, the dildo still in me. Lazily, I licked my hand clean, relishing the feeling of being stretched.  After drowsing for a little bit, I roused myself enough to sit up, but I had forgotten the black leather inside me.  

Or perhaps I hadn't forgotten.  

I let it remain in place as I crossed to my bath. The shift and play of it in my arse was almost enough to make me hard once more. After I cleaned myself off, I dressed, leaving the dildo in place, and went about my normal routine for the rest of the day. 

That night I put more ointment on it and used it repeatedly. The ointment soothed and maddened at the same time. The next morning I was stiff and a bit sore, so I left the dildo in my room.  

All through the day I was distracted, barely able to speak coherently. I saw Jennie, rode my horse to the hill above the site where my gypsies were encamped. Shifting uncomfortably in the saddle, I completed any number of tasks that had been awaiting me. 

And became increasingly desperate for the shadow of darkness to fall. 

I learned from that: as long as I kept the dildo in place, I could function more or less, and keep my desire under control until it was safe for me to return to my room. 

**** 

This had been going on for some time. I became gaunt and hollow-eyed, and Jennie was not the only one to remark on it. Lady Eugenia also questioned me. I was able to dismiss it as worry over the number of savagely mutilated animals that were being reported to Colonel Montford. 

Farmers and villagers alike were becoming exceedingly fearful, and when George Twiddle, the glazier, was found near the forest with his throat torn out and his body eviscerated, tensions rose even more. 

I stood before the window, naked, the black leather dildo stretching me, and I watched as the moon rose in the sky. My cock was hard and aching, but for some reason, tonight I was reluctant to bring myself to release. 

I withdrew the dildo and coated it heavily with the unguent in the rapidly emptying jar. Replacing it, I pulled on my clothes and decided a walk in the woods would do me good. I was so concentrated on the maddening ache within me that I neglected to take my walking stick. 

The night was cool after the unseasonable heat of the day, and a faint mist hung low over the ground. I strolled past the stables, through a pasture and on into a meadow, the play of the dildo over my prostate driving me wild with the need to be fucked.  

There was a soft growl and then the sound of footsteps rushing over the fallen leaves. A body barreled into me, knocking me to the earth. Breathless, I was unable to cry out for help, and even if I had been able to, there would have been no one nearby to hear. 

Rough hands tore at my trousers, while hot breath bathed the nape of my neck. I shuddered and whimpered. 

"Silence, little brother. The time has come for me to claim you!" 

My arse was exposed to the pale moonlight, and sharp nails drew  lines of beaded blood over the flesh of my buttocks. Fingers parted my arse cheeks, and he chuckled at the sight of the black leather nestled there. The heavily accented voice whispered in my ear. "You wear my gift, little brother. Better and better! I did not like the thought of hurting you, although that would not have stopped me!" 

"Bela!" I recognized the gypsy's voice. "Why are you doing this to me?" 

"The stars are in alignment, as are the moon and planets. You must fulfill your destiny!" The dildo was pulled from me and tossed carelessly aside. Before I could protest or struggle, his cock was sliding into me, larger even than the black dildo. I whined at the burn, and then gasped at the starburst of pleasure that exploded throughout me as he targeted my prostate. 

His hard hands forced me to remain motionless, as over and over he took me. The moon hung like a silver medallion, illuminating the land beneath it. A harsh growl ruffled my hair, and sharp fangs sank into the flesh of my shoulder, mangling it. 

But I cared nothing for that as I felt a knot thrust into me, plugging me, and the scalding heat of his semen flooded my bowels.  

I bucked into him, and took my weeping cock in my hands, stroking and pulling until I spilled my seed onto the dry earth. 

I collapsed beneath him, and a long, lolling tongue swept out to sooth the pain of my shoulder. The teeth nipped my back and neck, and he licked the tiny hurts. We remained like that for almost an hour, his cock throbbing in my pleasurably abused passage. 

When he finally shrank enough to slip free, gouts of come dribbled out of me. I toppled to my side on the ground and glanced at the shoulder that should have been destroyed, only to discover a wound that was already slowly healing. My eyes raised to his, and I shivered at the sight before me. 

A wolf, huge, unnaturally *huge*,  and silvered in the moonlight. His long, plumed tail swept lazily back and forth, and he raised his large head to scent the night air. He nudged me onto my stomach and began to lick me clean. The feel of his tongue on my anus sent ribbons of excitement through me, and I would have let him mount me again willingly. 

It was as if he read my thoughts. His black lips parted in a canine smile, and his tongue swept over my balls and stroked gently. "No more tonight, little brother." The words came from the wolf's mouth, but they were the heavily accented English of the gypsy. "You must recover. But you will meet me here again tomorrow night, and every night that the full moon shines." 

He paced forward, then turned and stood before me, proud and regal. I crawled to him, then rolled over onto my back, exposing my throat and belly to him. One final lick, to my cock this time, and he vanished in the night. 

I gathered the shreds of my clothing around me and somehow managed to stagger back to the Abbey. 

**** 

Each night that the moon was full I slipped out to meet my lover. Oddly enough, during the day it was simple to act as if nothing untoward had happened to me. Now that Bela had claimed me, I no longer needed the constant presence of the dildo. 

And the nights when the moon wasn't full, the gypsy would come to me, using the ointment to ease his way in my passage, leaving me more and more in thrall to him. 

**** 

Almost a month to the day I had proposed, I took Jennie back to The Thorn and Thistle for tea. 

"Are you feeling well, Law?" Jennie asked as we sat across from each other. She had made a hearty meal, but I had simply toyed with the little sandwiches that had lost their appeal for me. 

"As ever was, Jen!" I responded, and wondered if my jocularity sounded as forced to her as it did to me. 

"I think you might need a haircut, Law. You're becoming a trifle shaggy!" She reached across the table to take my hand. "I worry about you, my dear." She began to play with my fingers, stroking and petting them. "Oh! Were you aware of this?" 

"Was I aware of what, my dear?" 

"These two fingers are exactly the same length!" Jennie held my index and middle finger together. 

"And...?" I asked indulgently as I took a sip of my tea. I no longer took it with two lumps of sugar, finding that too sweet. 

"That's the sign of the werewolf!" 

The tea spewed from my nose and mouth. "I *beg* your pardon?" 

She smiled and stroked the curve of my cheek. "I didn't mean to make you choke, Law. My granny told me about that when I was very little."

"*Not* amusing, Jennie Williams!" 

"I'm sorry, my dear, it was cruel of me to tease you." Her fingers caressed my palm, and I trembled, but whether from the sensation, or from her words, I couldn't tell. 

It was growing dark when we finally left the inn. I tipped back my head and breathed deeply. The odors that rode the evening breeze flooded my nostrils. I helped Jennie into my automobile and began the drive back to Upper Uncton. We were silent for most of the way.  

"You know, Law. It might not be a bad idea if we anticipated the vows." 

The gears howled in protest as I threw my vehicle into first when I meant to shift into third. I whipped my head around to stare at her in shock. 

"Better keep your eyes on the road, my dear." 

"That was not well done of you, Jennie! I am definitely going to wind up driving the Aston Martin into a ditch because of you!" 

She shifted in the seat to face me, her right leg curled under her and her arm over the back of the seat. "Sorry," she grinned, but I could see she was unrepentant. 

"You're asking for a hiding you are, Jennie Williams, soon-to-be Jennie Talbot!" 

Her fingers threaded through my hair. "Am I, Lawrence? How very...titillating!" She traced the sworl of my inner ear and I shivered and leaned into her touch. "Seriously, my dear. It might save us both a deal of bother." 

"And you don't think that having sampled the milk, I mightn't want to buy the cow?" 

"Don't be crass!" she chuckled. "I trust you, Law. And if I can't excite you, isn't it better for us to know now? You'd be able to find someone who would please you." 

"No, Jennie. I want to marry you." I struggled to make my voice convincing. "I don't think making love with you will be a problem." 

"In case you haven't noticed, I'm a little differently equipped than your usual lovers." 

I took a hand from the wheel and traced a path from her thigh to the notch of her legs. "I had noticed, my dear." Her scent, the scent of a female in heat, washed over me, and I found myself becoming aroused. "Very well, Jennie, since you insist." She gave a soft sound of satisfaction, at having won that battle, at the feel of my fingers gently stroking her. "But I will marry you anyway, don't think I won't!" 

"Suppose you meet someone and fall in love?" 

"Suppose I meet a man, you mean? I shan't." Hyde flashed into my mind, and I banished him back to Canada. It was not quite so easy to banish the gypsy.  

"Very well. But you'll tell me if you change your mind? I'll let you go, Law, but please do me the courtesy of not making a fool of me; promise you'll be honest with me." 

I licked my lips and steered the automobile down the narrow lane behind Jennie's shop. "Will you promise me the same? Jennie, I'm not naive. I know there isn't love between us at this moment, but we do like and respect one another. If you should find someone...?" 

"Yes, I promise." 

My skin felt twitchy, as if it would have been better suited to a smaller body. My palms became sweaty, and my mouth dry, and butterflies began to play football in my stomach. I glanced uneasily up at the moon riding low in the sky. I should be out in the woods, I thought, not here! Off in the distance I could have sworn I heard a wolf howl. 

Nerves. It was just my nerves, getting the better of me. After all, this was the most outrageous situation I had ever heard of! 

I got out of my sporty little car and limped around to open the passenger door for her. She took my hand and rose gracefully to her feet, letting herself flow against me for our first kiss. It was...different from kisses I had shared with any of the men who had wandered into my life. 

I explored the interior of her mouth, learning her taste, which was a mingling of honey and clotted cream and something that was simply Jennie. She stepped back and smiled at me, then slid an arm around my waist and led me through the door at the back of her shop.  

My walking stick made a muffled thump on the carpet that covered the stairs that led to her bedroom. 

It was a nice-sized room facing the rear of the house. Most of the space was taken up by a large bed, but there was a dresser along one wall, with a full-length mirror to one side. Next to it was a cupboard. Gauzy lace curtains hung from the window, which was open to let in the soft, autumn night air. 

The moon was rising just above the trees now, its faint light casting shadows into the room. 

Jennie shed her clothes quickly and bent over the bed to draw back the covers. A stray moonbeam caressed the curve of her arse, and my cock leaped to attention. I released a quiet breath I hadn't realized I was holding. I propped my walking stick against the little stand beside her bed and began to remove my own shirt and trousers. 

She crawled onto the bed and settled herself against the mound of pillows. Her gaze was like a physical caress, and I swallowed heavily as I traced the long, lean lines of her body. 

She gnawed on her lower lip for a moment, then rolled onto her stomach and rose to her hands and knees. The glance over her shoulder was flirtatious. "Will this make it easier for you, Law?" 

I growled. Again that tempting arse was before me, those sleek, taut curves, and I was rock hard. Although she couldn't see me, I gave a feral nod, unable to say a word as I climbed onto the bed behind her. 

I rubbed against her moist folds, drawing my cock back between her buttocks. I teased her puckered opening, and she gave a ragged gasp. "Law? Is that how you want to take me?" 

"Perhaps one day, Jennie. I can make it very good for you. But not tonight," I soothed, and scattered kisses over her waist and back. 

Rubbing my cheek against her shoulder, I closed my eyes and reached for her nipples, squeezing and rolling them between my fingers. She was correct: she had scarcely more curves than an adolescent boy. Carefully I slid into her moist, heated core and began to plumb her depths. Her inner muscles clenched fiercely around me, but this was not the snug, hot, tightness I craved. I plowed into her desperately, but orgasm seemed just out of my reach. 

It was out of her reach as well. Sweat coated her shoulders. It dripped from my temples. Frustrated, she took one of my hands and thrust it between her thighs, showing me how she liked to be touched. I coated the little nub with her moisture and caught her rhythm, plucking and rubbing it. Her head dropped to the mattress, and she began to  tremble as her climax overtook her, humming in pleasure. 

The room darkened as the light of the moon was abruptly blotted out by a wave of clouds that concealed it. The curtains fluttered wildly, but I was too lost in trying to reach my own orgasm to notice anything. My anus was spasming, needing to be stretched and plundered. 

Suddenly the bed dipped as someone joined us on it.  

Before I could jerk out of Jennie and whirl around to face him, he was pressing up against me. I knew it was Bela; his scent surrounded me. I groaned and surrendered.  

Warm fingers explored the crack of my arse, seeking my opening. I shuddered and mindlessly thrust back. Now those slick, clever fingers were dipping into me,  breaching the guardian muscle. It was rough, as always, but I needed it that way. 

"Lawrence?" There was a touch of fear in Jennie's voice.  

"Hush, my dear. It's all right!" I knew Bela would never hurt me. And I would never permit him to hurt Jennie. 

The fingers that had been stretching me withdrew, replaced by a cock that was blunt and hot and lubricated with precome, pushing steadily against my anus. I bent low over Jennie, still buried deep in her, so relaxed, so wanting this.  

Only Bela had ever dominated me in this fashion, making me burn, making me yield to him willingly. The threat of violence hadn't been necessary that first time to make me obey his will, but had succeeded in making the entire experience even more passionate. 

"Yes!" I groaned now as he hit my prostate. "More!" Each thrust penetrated me deeply, rocking me forward into Jennie, who whimpered and let me take her, burying her head in her arms. I spread my legs wider and angled my hips higher, wanting him so deep inside me that when he finally came I would feel him in my throat.  

At that moment in time, I was blind to everything except the sensations the big gypsy sent coursing through my body.  

The thick, silky hair that covered his torso down to his abdomen brushed continually over my back and arse as he rode me. I pleaded shamelessly for his possession. A last, hard nudge to my prostate, and I was coming, pouring myself into Jennie. She trembled under me, her inner walls clutching me as she climaxed again, while Bela shivered over me, filling my bowels with  semen, just as I filled Jennie. 

The full moon slid out from behind the clouds. 

I was floating on a haze of satisfaction so great I thought nothing could rouse me from it. Sharp teeth fastened onto my shoulder and bit down gently, worrying the muscle. I smiled at the thought of that mouth on me, of the creature who seemed intent on ravaging me. 

Jennie scooted out from under me and with a scream, seized my walking stick. Swinging it like a club, she stuck out at the beast. "Jennie, *no*!" The thuds became sodden, sickening as bone was crushed. "Oh, God, no!" 

I must have swooned, because when I regained my senses, Jennie was beside me on her bed. She cradled me in her arms and wept as she pressed a damp cloth to my face, wiping the blood spatters from me. 

"Oh, Law. What happened? What *is* that?" 

I buried my head against her. Hot tears ran down my cheeks and spilled onto her chest. 

Lying across her rug before the window, fast assuming human form, was my brother, my lover, the gypsy, Bela.

~End Part A~

On to Part B