When the Wolfbane Blooms
Note: Just to clarify, Osiris is the god of the underworld. Anubis is the god of the dead. Vert Fromage is French for green cheese, which for those really young, is what they used to think the moon was made of. This is Roddy's POV
I had mixed emotions about returning to the Dark Continent.
On the one hand, it had taken away Charlie Allnutt, the
first man I ever loved. In order to save our freehold in South Africa he had
accepted a job with the archeologist, Howard Carter. Although Charlie had been
gravely ill at the time, his death in the Valley of the Kings was laid at
On the other hand, Africa had given me Thomas
Fortescue-Smythe, the former army captain I had met after Charlie and I sailed
down the Ulanga in the African Queen to sink the Louisa, the German steamship.
Tommy was the man who was destined to be my last love.
I was in the stable, observing but staying out of the way,
as one of our mares competently gave birth to a chestnut foal.
“Look at the legs on ‘im, sir!” The young groom who
had stayed up the night with me was almost as pleased as I was. “He’ll be a
right fast one!”
“I believe you’re correct, Will. However, only time
will tell.” Before I realized it, someone had joined us. “Tommy!”
Will tugged on his forelock and excused himself to see to
the day’s tasks. When we were alone, I leaned into my lover and yawned hugely.
“Any thoughts on a name, Roddy?”
“Mmm. I was thinking Osiris,” I murmured drowsily.
Tommy stiffened. “Why?” he asked bluntly, his tone of
voice jerking me out of the light doze into which I had slipped.
I turned in his embrace and studied the expression on his
face. Since our adventure with the… man… who called himself Ardeth Bey,
anything Egyptian seemed to make him uncomfortable. I cradled his cheek in my
palm, wanting to kiss away his distress, knowing I couldn’t in such a public
place. “Well, if he lives up to the promise of his bloodlines, I expect
he’ll be hell on four legs,” I remarked blandly.
He hesitated, then accepted my explanation and changed the
subject. “Was it a difficult birth, love?”
I relaxed into him and shook my head. “Bonnie Kate just
wanted to take her time about it.”
“She certainly did,” he grumbled good-naturedly. “You
left our bed just after midnight, and it’s rising noon, now!”
“Didn’t mean to disturb you, sweetheart.” I yawned
“You didn’t, but I never sleep well when you’re not
with me.” He was silent for a moment, and then, “I do love you, Roddy!”
Abruptly I was no longer at ease. I pushed myself away from
him, all senses on the alert. I knew he loved me, he told me so frequently, but
usually within the privacy of our rooms. “All right, what’s that in aid of?
Do you have to go on another mission, Tommy?”
He nodded, pulling me back against him and stroking my
back, but I refused to let his actions soothe me. “To Africa. I just received
a wire from Sir Edward. ”
“*Bugger*, Tommy! You’ve only just come back from
Germany! Bloody hell,” I swore tonelessly. He would never shirk what he felt
was his duty. “When must you leave?”
“*We* leave on Monday week, love. You’re coming with me
this time!” And in spite of the fact that we were in the stable where anyone
could walk in on us at any time, he kissed me.
He insisted that once this assignment was completed he
wanted to return to Kenya, to the Lake where we had first met. It would be a
honeymoon for us.
The sheer romanticism of his proposal, as well as his
thorough love-making later that evening, turned my thought processes to mush,
and I happily agreed.
The sea voyage took its toll on me. I couldn’t understand
how the vicious rapids of the Ulanga didn’t phase my stomach, yet the Atlantic
had me constantly bent over the railing, feeding the fishes. Miserably I vowed I
would never sail again, even while I knew that for Tommy, I would.
Once we arrived in Africa, we found that most of his time
was spent in tracking down greedy, corrupt bureaucrats. He assured me on more
than one occasion that it was a mission totally without risk.
“You know I trust you enough to not put yourself in
danger, Tommy. But just so you’re aware? Charlie taught me any number of ways
to kill a man, some of them quite inventive.
If anything happens to you, I’ll go after whoever hurt you.” He
sported a smug grin until I concluded my promise. “And then I’ll go after
His grin was wiped away. “Explain that, if you please!”
he demanded grimly.
It was my turn to grin. “No, I rather think I won’t.
You’ve already lost an eye for King and country. See that you don’t lose
Somehow, one mission flowed into another, and what was
supposed to last a few months ran to a few years
Finally we were able to get to South Africa, where thanks
to the foresight and sacrifice of Charlie Allnutt, I was the owner of a number
of highly productive diamond mines.
From there we traveled to Kenya, and took rooms in the Duke
of York Hotel, where I had first stayed with Charlie. And where we spent a
lovely, long time in bed.
I could tell Tommy was getting restless. Of late he seemed
prone to feeling low, and I was becoming frantic with worry. It was time to
return home. I went out to see about making the arrangements while he collected
the mail and started packing.
That was where the letter from Lady Genie reached us, and I
thought I discovered the reason behind his depression.
He read it while we were in the tub, and by the time he
came to the part about his boyhood friend, Lawrence Talbot, he was shaking so
hard the water cascaded over the side of the tub and spilled to the tiled floor.
“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 Jennie Williams’ little shop in the village.
“Thomas, please come home as soon as possible.”
My lover’s tourmaline eye seemed unable to settle on
anything. He certainly didn’t see me. “Roddy…”
“Yes, sweetheart.” My heart felt as if it was cracking.
Was I about to lose him to the love of his youth? “We’ll leave first thing
in the morning.”
He refused to speak of Talbot. We got out of the tub, and
he said nothing. We dried off and dressed, and he stared off into space.
We went out to dine at a local grill, and finally Tommy
broke his silence, although it was still not to
talk about the man he had once loved. He began to explore a theory
regarding the deaths that his mother had mentioned.
“Might be a madman,” he ventured. “Remember that
bloke, Jack the Ripper?” I looked at him blankly. “Killed all those
unfortunate women in London’s East End in the late 80s.”
I made a moue. “Tommy, Methodists never follow such lurid
occurrences. And in case it escaped your notice, that was years before I
He frowned at me. “It was before I was born
I widened my eyes. “Truly?”
He threw his napkin at me and returned to the meal before
So it went: each time I saw him start to become
melancholic, I would do or say something outrageous, even going so far as to
borrow a horse that had been left outside a tavern and ride it up the cathedral
steps, almost getting arrested in the process. It took some fast-talking on both
our parts to get me out of that.
By the time we got back to our room Tommy was so busy
wondering what I would come up with next that he had no time to brood. While I
had all the time in the world.
Tossing aside my jacket and slouching back against the
door, I worked my tie free. I watched in dismay as lethargy engulfed him once
more. What could I do to compete with his first love?
He stripped out of his clothes, leaving them draped over a
chair, and leaned forward to turn back the covers. My vision was filled with the
flex of thigh and buttock, and my mouth went dry, and my cock grew rigid.
Before my lover realized what I was about, I had launched
myself at him. Murmuring desperate love words, I nipped at his back and
I was only barely under control. I wanted to get under his
skin. I wanted to bury myself so deeply in his body that we wouldn’t know
where Tommy ended and I began. I wrestled out of my shirt and trousers, keeping
my lover pinned under me.
“I love you, Tommy! I’m the one who’s here
with you! Not anyone else! Not Talbot! Me!”
He went still, and I could have kicked myself in the bum
for making a statement that was nothing short of asinine. When Tommy rolled
away, I made no effort to keep him beneath me.
“Is that what tonight was all about? Lawrence?”
His stare was implacable. “*Why*, Roddy?”
I suppressed a sigh. “You never talk of him, Tommy. Your
mother keeps you informed of his comings and goings, and when she tells you
he’s not looking well you decide we need to return home as soon as we can.”
“We were leaving tomorrow anyway,” he stated patiently.
His eye widened, and his jaw dropped. “Roddy, are you jealous?”
I shrugged, refusing to answer.
“Why? You were never jealous of Archie.”
I mumbled something.
“Say again?” His fingers under my chin forced me to
meet his gaze.
I surrendered gracelessly and snapped in ill temper,
“I’m not jealous of Archie because there’s no chance that he will come
back into our lives and take you away from me.”
“Oh, rosebud, it just isn’t possible for anyone else in
this world to take me away from you! There’s no one I love more!”
Tommy waved aside the fear that haunted me. “He was my
friend, and I’ll always care about him, but you’re the one I want to spend
the rest of my life with! Don’t you understand that yet?”
“But you’ve been so quiet lately, and you became so
upset when you read about his condition.”
of Lawrence, I promise you! Oh, I’m sorry he’s unwell, but Mother is there!
I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to her.” And then the reason
behind his distress burst out. “I want children, Roddy! Oh, God, I’d make
you pregnant if I could!” He went pale.
“Really? You’d really do that?” I blinked in
astonishment and repeated, “You want children?”
“I’m a pathetic sod. I know that.” The pathetic sod
didn’t realize how happy he had made me.
“Oh. Oh, my!”
“Is that all you can say?” he demanded irritably.
I didn’t know what else to say. “I had no idea,
Tommy!” Here I thought he had been pining for that architect, and instead I
learned that what he wanted in his life was not Talbot, but children!
“You’ve taken my breath away.” I hesitated a tick, then continued,
“I’d give you a baby if I could, but …”
“I knew there would be a ‘but’.” He grew morose
“But since I can’t, would you…would you mind
pretending that it was possible, and try?”
My lover had his cock slicked and inside me so quickly that
I was sprawled spread eagle beneath him before I knew what he was about. His
tongue dipped into my ear, and a moist puff of air followed. He drove into me,
hard, rapid strokes that slammed into my sweet spot. Dark, hot, sexual words
flowed over me. I had to bite down on the pillow to muffle my moans. Without
touching my cock he made me come, his semen filling me at the same time.
“You made me
come too fast!” I panted when I was finally able to speak. His weight made it
difficult to breathe, but then breathing was highly overrated compared with what
he made me feel.
Tommy knew, though, and slid off me and pulled me back into
his arms. The steady thumping of his heart was a comforting vibration against my
back. “We’ve got all night, love.” He turned my face toward his, and
stopped whatever I might have said with an openmouthed kiss. “We can sleep on
the train tomorrow.”
We arrived in Morocco in good time, only to be stymied by
an unexpected problem. There was no space available on any of the ships sailing
north to England. Neither money nor threats could get us a berth. It appeared we
were stranded in Casablanca.
“I’ve got an idea. Don’t go wandering off. These
Berbers will take one look at your beautiful blue eyes and snatch you up.” He
was suddenly very close to me, his lips tracing the lines of my cheekbones and
“And then?” I asked, breathless.
“And then I’ll have to cause an international incident
to get you back.” Tommy stole a quick kiss and sauntered toward the door.
“Gallant bastard, aren’t you, sweetheart?”
“Gallant is my middle name!” The door closed behind
him, and I chuckled softly.
Tommy was back almost before I could miss him. “Get your
things together. I’ve lined up transportation!”
I didn’t ask how. He had been skulking the underbelly of
the world for a long time, and he knew all kinds of unsavory characters. I
imagined the ubiquitous Signor Ferrari would have no problem finding a ship that
would accommodate us.
He didn’t bother with neatness, just tossed everything
into his grip, willy-nilly. I followed suit and was hard on his heels as he
hurried down the staircase to the lobby of our hotel.
A cab was waiting for us outside the front door. We got in
and were whisked away.
In less time than I could have imagined, the ancient
vehicle screeched to a halt at the… airstrip? Tommy paid the driver.
“Oh, no!” I tried to balk, but he hustled me onto the
"I promise you, it's safe!"
I looked at him askance. "Would you be willing to put
that in writing?"
"Come on, Roddy. Trust me!" My lover tightened
his hold on his valise with one hand and my arm with the other, and strode
toward the hangar where an airship was awaiting us. Across the side was
emblazoned the name, Vert Fromage.
“It’s quite all right, Roddy. The captain is an old
school chum of mine.”
“What’s an Englishman doing flying that thing in French
“Oh, he’s a Frog, rosebud. But a decent chap for all
"If man had been meant to fly," I grumbled as I
followed him, "God would have given us wings!” I regretted now that I
hadn’t questioned him back in our hotel room. “How in the name of all that's
holy did you manage to get us booked on a dirigible?"
"I've got friends in high places, love!"
“If this thing goes down, I will personally come back
from heaven and hunt you down, Tommy Smythe!”
“As I recall, you have some highly placed friends as
I stared at him in shock. “I don’t know what you’re
talking about, I’m sure!”
“Your brother was a missionary, wasn’t he? It seems to
me that would give you an ‘in’ with the Good Shepherd.” Before my shock
could subside into relief he spoke again, and his next words were so quiet that
I had to struggle to hear them. “If I remember correctly, we never would have
gotten away from Ardeth Bey without the aid of that hyena-headed god of
yours!” He drew me closer to him. “Don’t worry so! If this thing goes
down, rosebud, you won’t need to go looking for me. I’ll be right there with
And then he said the words that would guarantee me following him anywhere: “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Note: m/f implied
As I carried the body of my lover into the camp, the
gypsies stood in grim silence. Backlit
by the flare of their unbanked fires, they watched me with flat, resentful eyes.
I staggered to a halt, not knowing where to take him. The
crowd parted, and the stooped figure of the old woman, Maleva, shuffled forward,
pain etched in her movements, but whether physical or emotional, I couldn’t
tell. She gestured to the ground, and I lay Bela down before her.
In the fitful light of a torch I could see the tears
streaming down her wrinkled cheeks. One of the men helped ease her to her knees.
She embraced the cooling body and began to rock back and forth, murmuring in
heavily accented English, “Oh, my son! My poor son!”
Her claw-like hand reached out and seized my wrist, and I
fully expected to have curses heaped upon my head. To my shock, her grasp
gentled. “You must not grieve for him, my son. He has found peace at last!”
“You…you knew what he was?”
“Of course I knew. I was his mother! I am so sorry he
brought this to you!”
“I’m not. I loved him!”
Her eyes became stricken, and a fresh flood of tears
spilled from them. She signaled to the man. “Take Bela to my caravan. I will
prepare his body. My son, I must speak with you.”
I helped her to stand and followed her a short distance
away from her people.
“Do you remember me, Maleva? Years ago you read my future
in my palm.”
She nodded wearily. “I remember. Bela overheard the
prophecy. He understood the words, where you did not, and went to you that
night. He was over-eager. His actions have doomed you both.” She looked toward
the shadows. “Pluck those flowers, my son.”
Confused, I did as she bid, and held them toward her. They
gleamed whitely in the moonlight, and the heady scent seemed to rise up and wind
its way around me, flooding my nostrils, engulfing my senses. She folded my
fingers over them.
“Wolfbane, my son.” Softly she began to recite, “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.”
Involuntarily I glanced over my shoulder, at the autumn
moon as it was just starting to slide out of sight behind the towering forest
that bordered the camp.
She turned my face back to her, rubbing her palm over the
heavy growth of stubble that covered my cheeks and chin. “You must not be
angry with the lady. She follows her destiny, just as Bela followed his.” The
gypsy’s hand rested lightly on my upper arm. Her touch was gentle, but still I
flinched, and she opened my shirt and pushed it back off my shoulder. She traced
the scars, which were barely visible. “Bela did this to you.”
It wasn’t a question, but I answered as if it was.
“When he made love to you.”
Maleva moaned softly. “I hoped you might be spared, my
son. Even though I read it in your palm, I had hoped... I am so very sorry.”
She shook her head and seemed to look through time to when this had
begun. “Bela was always headstrong. He, too, bore the sign of the pentagram in
his palm. He would do what he wanted, when he wanted. After you went away all
those years ago, he became even more so.”
“I had no choice! I didn’t want to leave!”
“No,” she corrected. “You would have stayed, but for
the young sir, not for my Bela. He knew that, and it drove him wild, drove him
to actions we Rom have come to regret. My man decided it would be best for us to
leave this place, and so we did. We crossed the Channel, made our way through
France and Germany, but because it was earlier in the year than we normally
traveled, we arrived in the Carpathian Mountains too soon. It was the season of
the loup garou; they were on the prowl. None of our people dared to venture out
“Except for Bela,” and she nodded her agreement. I
could picture it in my mind’s eye: the big gypsy forcing his way through the
dense underbrush of the wood, heedless of the wise woman’s warning. I
shuddered as I ‘saw’ him attacked by the huge wolf, knocked to the forest
floor, much as he had knocked me down. I ‘saw’ his clothes shredded from his
body. I could ‘feel’ the creature’s cock slam into him, ‘feel’ the
sharp teeth biting down, passing on the dark legacy.
Maleva took my face between her palms and forced me to meet
her eyes. “Listen to me carefully, my son. Bela survived for many years, in
spite of the curse. He would have continued to live, feeding on the beasts of
the field, but for his desire for you! I tell you this, not to make you feel
guilty, but to caution you. You will survive also. But you must leave the young
She was telling me that that which I desired most was
forbidden to me? //Then I will follow Bela’s path, taking what I want!// Dark
images of Thomas crouching beneath me as I ravaged his back passage, as I marked
him as mine, came to me, and I grew hard. The alpha male was gone. Now I
was the alpha male. And Thomas would be my mate! After all these years, he would
once again be mine!
The part of me that was still untainted tried to shake
loose of those frightening thoughts. “I don’t know what you’re talking
about!” I declared, too vehemently. “This is ridiculous! Thomas isn’t in
England! And even if he were, he has a partner!” //But life is very fragile//
that voice whispered in my mind. //Men die all the time. A hunting accident. An
attack by a wild animal…//
She struck my face. “No! No! You must not!” It
was as if she read my thoughts. “Your very soul is at stake!”
Something savage within me broke free. I snarled at her and
jerked free of her grip, which was surprisingly strong for such an old woman.
Turning on my heel, I left the gypsy camp. No one tried to stop me, but I could
feel their eyes on me as I strode away and vanished into the shadows of the
I frowned and glanced up. I had been considering ways of
getting Thomas once he returned, and didn’t relish being disturbed. “Yes,
Father?” I made a show of raising my wine glass to my lips, although I
didn’t drink. My dinner also sat before me, untouched. The taste no longer
suited me, it was too welldone.
My father stood leaning heavily on my ebony walking stick,
which I never used any more. The silver wolf’s head … displeased me.
“Ah, the lovely Miss Conliffe. Would she be interested in
taking tea with me one afternoon, Father?”
His mouth gaped. “You… you actually want to see her?”
“Certainly. And perhaps I’ll even consider marrying
her. It shouldn’t matter to the girl that there is no love between us.
She’ll become Lady Talbot eventually, and that will keep her happy.”
“And you, Lawrence?”
“Are you asking if I’ll be happy, Father? It’s rather
late in the day to be concerned with that, don’t you think?”
He flinched, then cleared his throat.
“I…er…I hear that Thomas will be returning home shortly.”
I bared my teeth in a parody of a grin. “Yes. Isn’t
that grand?” I pushed my chair back and rose easily to my feet. The closer it
came to the full of the moon, I found, the less my leg pained me.
“You were quite close to him at one time.”
“Oh, yes. Thick as inkle weavers, we were.” And would
“You could do with a shave.”
I observed him from under my lashes. “I shaved before
“Indeed.” Abruptly he changed tack. “About Jennie
I stiffened. After that night, Jennie refused to see me,
refused to consider my marriage proposal. “What about Jennie, Father?”
“Word has gone around the village that she’s in an
“Really?” I kept my face blank.
“And that you’re the cause of it!”
“And if I am?”
“Well, we’ll just have to see about getting the child
away from her. I won’t have my grandson being raised by a shopkeeper!”
“And if it’s a girl child?”
He curled his lip at me. “Talbots have bred true to sons
since Charles II! It will be a boy!”
“Damn you, Father! Make the arrangements for my marriage
with Gwen Conliffe, or marry the bloody girl yourself, but leave Jennie Williams
alone!” I stormed out of the house and made my way to the stable. I had taken
to avoiding the horses of late; they became so skittish in my presence that
neither they nor I was comfortable.
There would be a full moon that night, and I needed to burn
off the emotions that were roiling through my body. Instead of motoring into the
village, I ordered a horse saddled and threw myself onto her back. The mare
screamed and fought me, trying to take the bit between her teeth. She tried to
bolt, and I wrenched her head viciously around, heading her in the right
It wasn’t far to the village, but by the time we got
there, she was blown. Her head hung between her splayed legs, and her sides
heaved as she labored to regain her breath. Sweat coated her glossy brown hide,
and froth dripped from her mouth, streaked with blood caused by the battle for
I left her there, uncaring whether she stayed or made a
break for home, and strode into Needful Things. Before the tinkling of the bells
above the door could bring Jennie from the little kitchen behind her shop, I
made sure the card saying the shop was closed was facing the street, door was
locked and the shade drawn.
Jennie emerged, looking wan and a trifle green. Her
expression changed from one of inquiring interest to hardened resolve, and her
palm went to rest protectively on her belly.
“So it’s true?”
She ignored my question, responding with one of her own.”
What do you want, Lawrence?”
“Were you planning on telling me?”
“Why would I?” she parried.
“Haven’t I that right? I am the father. You know
the reason I was marrying was to insure offspring.”
“And that’s why I wouldn’t have told you. This is my
baby. I won’t give her up to you! Especially after what happened the night she
“I never blamed you for killing him, Jennie.”
She looked at me as if I had gone mad. “That thing was
I turned away, suddenly distracted by the vivid memory of
Bela’s cock shoving past the tight ring of my anus and sinking deep into my
bowels; I could almost feel him moving against my arse. I licked my lips.
“That wasn’t my fault, Jennie!”
“I’m sorry, Lawrence; I can’t live with knowing you
were that creature’s plaything!”
“You never struck me as being a prude, Jennie.” I heard
her grinding her teeth.
“Dear God, Law, that was bestiality! How you could let
I moved so quickly she couldn’t avoid me. My arms were
around her, my nose buried in the silk of her white blond curls. “I could show
you, Jennie! Then you would understand. The feel of soft fur against your naked
skin. A hot, throbbing cock plumbing your passage. Sharp teeth nipping at the
spot where blood is pulsing just below your skin. You know I could tear you to
ribbons, but you trust me enough not to hurt you! Ah, let me show you, Jennie.
You’ll love it, I promise!”
She angled her head away to stare dazedly into my eyes. Her
lips were parted, and her tongue darted out to moisten them. With a groan I
lowered my mouth to hers and tasted the honey she had used in her tea.
I bent and swept her into my arms, lifting her easily. Her
pregnancy wasn’t far enough advanced to make carrying her difficult. I growled
softly and dipped my head to nuzzle the curve of her throat.
Abruptly she twisted out of my arms, stumbling as she tried
to get her legs under her. “No! NO!” She was weeping silently. “Stay away
from me, Law! Just stay away from me!”
Jennie hiccoughed and struggled to bring herself under
control. It was fortunate she was not watching me. The odor of her fear and
distress was a powerful aphrodisiac, and nothing would have been simpler than to
take her to the floor and devour her.
I fought back the animal in me. “You’ll come to me if
you need anything, Jennie? Money… anything?”
Her mouth a tight line, she turned on her heel and hurried
into the tiny kitchen. It was obvious that Jennie wanted nothing from me, not
even my presence in our child’s life. That bothered me less than I thought it
would. I supposed I just wasn’t paternal.
Just before I reached the door I saw it. Black, about eight
inches of butter-soft leather. How had this managed to show up in Needful
I tucked some bills into a nook where Jennie would
eventually find them, and slid the phallus into my pocket, then left for home.
It would make an ideal gift for Thomas.
Note: The quotes about airship flying are taken from an actual Zeppelin brochure.
He didn’t expect to enjoy traveling in a dirigible.
On being shown to the cabin that would house us for the
duration of the trip, I hugged Roddy briefly. “I’m going to speak with
Jacques. Why don’t you get us settled? Don’t worry so, love. It will be
fine!” I ran my hand over his hair, and he scowled at me. “Honestly!
But I lingered at the door, watching his competent
movements as he began unpacking the articles of clothing we would need for the
relatively short journey, putting trousers and shirts into the chest of drawers.
The minuscule washbasin actually provided hot water, and he set our razor, comb
and toothbrushes next to it. His expression was rueful as he regarded the jar
that contained the cream we used as a lubricant. He probably thought he’d be
too sick to enjoy making love.
“I can dream,” he informed me as he placed it on the
sink and continued exploring our compartment.
Behind a door
that folded in on itself was the commode, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
“At least I won’t have to make a mad dash down the corridor when my stomach
decides to play fast and loose with me!” He found an ancient brochure that had
been left behind when this dirigible had been sold. “Listen to this!” he
exclaimed. “’People are never sick on board an Airship.’ Ha!” He
flipped through the pages, becoming engrossed in spite of himself. “Oh, now
this sounds really promising!” Sarcasm dripped from his voice. “‘…for as
yet, no passenger has ever been sick on board a Zeppelin Airship.’ As yet!
I knew it was too good to be true!” He laughed hollowly.
“Roddy, it will be all right! Have I ever steered you
“Why are you still here?” he asked, disgruntled. “I
thought you had to talk to Jacques.”
“Jacques can wait; he won’t be going anywhere.”
I ignored Roddy’s muttered, “He’d better not
“Why don’t I show you around, rosebud?”
“Of course,” he grumbled. “Let’s explore this
flying coffin, by all means.”
I gave a huff of laughter and grabbed him, bending him back
over my arm and sealing his mouth with mine while my hand fondled his rapidly
hardening cock. His eyes took on a dazed expression. One last squeeze, and I set
him upright. “I was saving this for tonight, but…”
“What?” A hectic flush colored his cheeks, and a fine
trembling rippled through his legs.
I was busy undoing his trousers and taking out his
erection. Carefully I slid the strip of leather around his cock and balls. The
only sound that disturbed the silence of our cabin was his harsh breathing and
the snap as the cock ring’s fastener closed.
“Tommy!” Roddy’s blue eyes became slumberous, and he
reached for me with a soft groan. “How long are you going to make me wear
Instead of answering, I took his mouth one more time, then
released him and buttoned up his trousers. “The observation deck is this way,
“Tease!” he gasped as he grabbed for a handful of my
arse. I danced away, striving for an innocent look, and led him into the
companionway. He followed me to the glass enclosed area, but halted just outside
the entrance, his face suddenly pale. “Is something wrong, Tommy? Shouldn’t
they be casting off the tow ropes?”
I took his hand and drew him to the window. There was no
vibration, no roar of engines to signal our departure. While Roddy had been
getting us settled in, while we had been busy with… other things, the Vert
Fromage had effortlessly taken to the sky. He rubbed at the glass and watched in
dumbfounded wonder as the airship’s shadow slid beneath us on the ground.
I stood behind him, my arms wound loosely around his waist,
my cheek pressed to his. “By this time tomorrow, love, we’ll be a thousand
miles closer to home!”
To Roddy's surprise, he was still feeling fine, even after
dinner, which we enjoyed with my friend, Jacques.
My lover would shift occasionally in his seat. The
constriction of the leather ring kept his cock hard, and the material of his
trousers was tantalizing against his sensitized flesh.
As soon as we could politely do so, we bid the captain
“Eh, mes amis, do not leave your boots outside your cabin
door,” he called after us with a chuckle.
The shine on our boots was the last thing I was concerned
with. I hurried Roddy back to our cabin, stripped off his clothes in record
time, and tumbled him onto our tiny berth.
I placed his hands above his head. “This bed has no
railings, love, but I need you to imagine there are. Keep your hands here.”
His fingers opened and closed restlessly, but he obeyed me.
Starting at his toes, I nibbled my way up his body,
carefully avoiding his cock. When I reached his upper torso, I turned him onto
his side and parted his arse cheeks, and licked a path from where the leather
ring restrained his balls high against his cock to the pucker of his anus. He
quivered and jerked as my tongue dipped past the tight muscle, loosening it.
“Jesus God, Tommy! What are you doing to me?”
I began working two slicked fingers into him. “Can’t
you tell, love?”
Roddy groaned and thrust back onto my fingers, more than
ready for me. I exposed the area I intended to plunder. The head of my cock
replaced my fingers, and I pushed into him with one easy thrust.
He was moaning steadily now as I fucked him. I traced his
lips, then slid a couple of fingers into his mouth. He sucked on them
voraciously, and I felt my control unravel.
I had intended to spend a long time making thorough love to
him before I unsnapped the leather band. Instead, I barely had time to get it
Well, I promised myself, there would always be another
“Next time, Tommy, you get to wear that thing!”
Roddy murmured as he slid into a sated sleep.
I smiled and closed my eyes.
I found myself wandering through a nightmarish landscape,
black and white and shades of grey.
I could just make out my lover, somewhere ahead of me in
the fog-shrouded wood. Stray beams from the full moon filtered through the fog
and lit his way, spilling onto his sun-lightened hair and shining off it.
Something trailed him in the mist; something feral that
threatened not only his life, but also his soul. Growls rumbled from concealing
shadows, but he walked on, unaware, unconcerned. I opened my mouth to warn him,
but it was as if my vocal cords were frozen. I couldn’t get a sound past my
He knew I was there behind him, and he turned to face me.
He was smiling at me. He was smiling as the thing barreled out of the darkness
and tore at his throat.
He was smiling as he died.
“Roddy,” I shouted, my voice breaking. “Oh God,
no!” I began to weep.
His beloved voice was calling me, and I opened my one good
eye, but I could see nothing beyond the horror that lurked in that wood. It
confronted me, its slavering jaws agape, while the blood of my lover dripped
A hand closed over my shoulder, and I writhed and cried out
in pain. My breathing was harsh and labored, and the clammy sweat of despair
poured from me. The man I loved above everything was dead, and there was nothing
left on earth for me to live for.
And then a voice thundered in my ear. “Stand to arms,
Years of military training had me snapping to attention and
out of the nightmare. My lover’s arms held me securely. I shuddered and swiped
a hand over my damp cheeks. “Roddy!” I whispered brokenly.
“Shh, sweetheart, shh. It’s all right now.” He
tightened his hold, and his warmth enfolded me, battling away the chill.
“Oh, God, Roddy, that was horrible!” I couldn’t bear
thinking of it. “Don’t…don’t let me go just yet, love? I need to know
you’re still with me.”
He pressed gentle kisses to my hair. “I’ll always be
with you, Tommy.”
“Prove it to me!” I ordered aggressively. I tossed the
blankets onto the floor. “Fuck me, Roddy! I have to have you inside me!”
I scrambled to my knees and folded my arms on the mattress,
settling my head on them. Warm hands on my thighs spread them apart, and my
mouth went dry. He fumbled for the jar of cream that was on the sink, and coated
a finger. I twitched as the feel of the cool stuff teased my hole. He pressed a
finger past the guardian muscle and searched for my sweet spot. A breathy moan
told him he found it.
“Please, Roddy. Don’t make me wait! Give it to me
“I’ll hurt you!” But he had withdrawn his finger, and
I glanced back to see him covering his shaft with the lubricant.
“You won’t hurt me.”
The tip of his cock was pushing against my hole, stretching
it to accept him. I knew he had to be feeling what I felt when I was inside him,
a channel like hot satin caressing turgid flesh, and I moaned.
The burn caused by his penetration wasn’t enough; I
needed more. He flexed his hips, and I thrust backward at the same time, and he
was buried balls deep in my arse.
He pulled back until the head of his cock was all that was
in me, and then he stroked forward again.
Roddy seemed determined to keep the rhythm lazy,
voluptuous, but I was having none of it. I rocked my hips impatiently, driving
him against the spot that sent me spiraling out of control. Panting harshly, I
uttered words that urged him to take me deeper, harder, again and again,
reassuring me that he was here, and alive.
My hand reached for my cock at the same time his did. I
smeared the precome that was oozing from the tip over it, and I linked his
fingers with mine. Together we pumped my engorged shaft. I gasped and groaned,
my inner muscles clamping down tightly as I climaxed, and he came as well. The
heat of his semen as he spilled himself in me left me shuddering in mindless
rapture, erasing the memory of that nightmare.
Roddy stayed draped over me, petting the hair that covered
my chest and arrowed down to my groin. He scattered kisses across my shoulders,
up my neck and into my sweat-drenched hair. “Better, sweetheart?” he
murmured as he nibbled my earlobe.
I sighed in agreement and wriggled my arse against him
before I sank down onto the mattress. Too softened to remain in my passage, he
slid out of me and rolled me onto my back. His head rested above my heart.
“I’m here, sweetheart,” he yawned.
“Mmm.” I could feel his lashes flutter against my chest
as his eyes closed.
“I’m still here, sweetheart.” There was
satisfaction in his voice.
I swallowed. “Promise me you won’t go walking in the
woods when we get back home.”
Suddenly he was wide-awake. “That nightmare?”
“I know it’s foolish, but…”
“Tommy, you’re talking to someone who’s experienced
the great-grandfather of all nightmares! It isn’t foolish, and I’ll promise
you anything. As long as you do the same for me.”
I angled myself up and tried to see his face, but our
compartment was too dim. “I love you.” I settled for stroking my fingers
over his cheek and lips, and felt his smile.
“Mmm.” He pulled me back down and settled himself on
me. “Go to sleep, Tommy.”
The dirigible landed without any incident in a field
outside London. It was rather late in the day, and I was fortunate enough to be
able to hail a cab to take us to Bertie’s townhouse. Johnson, his butler,
opened the door to us.
My brother was pacing the hallway, dressed in evening
clothes. “How bloody long does it take to find a pair of bloody gloves?” he
was growling. He glanced up impatiently, and his face lit up.
“Thomas! Good God, you’re home! How splendid to see
you!” Sir Henry Bertram Fortescue-Smythe, known to all and sundry as Bertie,
swept me into a rib-cracking embrace. “And you, too, Roddy,” he smiled over
my shoulder. “When did you get back to England?”
“We’ve just now landed.” I returned his hug
distractedly. “Bertie, is the Mater all right?”
“Other than missing you, you mean? She’s enjoying her
customary good health. Seeing young Dr. Cliffe a good deal, did you know?”
Young Dr. Cliffe, as opposed to his father, who was
simply Dr. Cliffe, and who had delivered both Lawrence and me. I rather
suspected she was, having seen them together after that incident with the
Egyptian, Ardeth Bey, at Talbot Abbey.
I sighed in relief. “I’m home for good, Bertie.”
“It’s about time you’ve done with your
gallivanting.” He tousled my hair, and I sighed again. Always the baby
brother. “Ah, Dinah, look who’s turned up like a couple of bad pennies!”
Bertie’s wife made her way down the curving staircase,
the gown she wore floating gracefully around her ankles. “Thomas, you’re
back! I’m so glad to see you!” She embraced me, not caring if her gown
became wrinkled, and the cloud of her perfume enveloped me. “Lady Eugenia will
be so pleased to know you’re home! How long can you stay with us?”
“Just overnight, I’m afraid.” I sneezed at the
overpowering odor of her scent.
“Roddy!” Dinah turned to embrace him, and my lover
flushed and gingerly kissed the cheek she offered him.
“I’d like to put in a trunk call to Mother, to let her
know we’ll be arriving shortly. That last letter I received from her has me
Bertie nodded. “I’ve just returned from seeing her. I
don’t like the sound of what’s been going on in the vicinity, and I wanted
the Mater to come stay with us for a bit. You know how obstinate she can be: she
refused to leave. Insisted Freddie Cliffe could take care of her if the need
arose. I do think she’s worried about Lawrence Talbot, however. She’s always
been very fond of him!” He pulled his watch from his vest pocket. “Blast,
we’re going to be late!”
“Then we’ll be late, my dear. We haven’t seen Thomas
and Roddy in three years. The ball can go hang!” My sister-in-law rang for the
butler. “We’ll be having dinner at home, Johnson. Nothing fancy, whatever is
available in the kitchen. And would you see Mrs. Johnson has Thomas’ rooms
I knew there was a reason why I liked my brother’s choice
in wife, in spite of her atrocious taste in perfumes.
“She’s already seeing to it, M’lady. I’ll have Mr.
Thomas’ and Mr. Roddy’s grips sent up.”
“One moment, Mr. Johnson.” Roddy remained in the hall,
while Dinah looped her arm through mine and drew me into the parlor.
“How are the boys?” I asked, referring to my nephews.
The expression of pride on Bertie’s face had me mourning
what I didn’t possess: children of my own.
“Hal is at Brookfield. Would you believe the young scamp
is taking honors? Can’t imagine where he gets the brains!” he teased, and
Dinah slapped his arm. “From what he tells me, they remember you a trifle too
well, Thomas. You and that friend of yours!”
“Geo Lawrence? Good lord, I haven’t thought of him in
ages! I wonder what he’s up to these days.”
“He’s in civil service, last I heard,” Dinah
remarked, to my astonishment. “Don’t be so surprised, Thomas! I keep up with
current events!” She spread out her skirts and sat on the settee. “Tris and
Sig will be down as soon as they learn of your arrival, I’m sure. And after
dinner I’ll take you up to the nursery to see your namesake.”
“Mother complains that she and Dinah are outnumbered by
all the men in the family. She wants us to try for a little girl,” Bertie
murmured in my ear. “Too bad you and Roddy couldn’t take the pressure off
I looked away. “Yes, it is too bad.”
“Thomas!” Bertie’s eyes widened, but before he could
question me, Roddy entered the room, a finely crafted saddlebag slung over his
He took one look at the tense way I held my body and
crossed immediately to me. “What’s wrong?” he demanded. “Lady
“No. No, Mother is fine.”
His relief was evident, but he was not about to let my
distress go unquestioned. “Then what…?”
“My fault, Roddy. I made a joke in poor taste.” Bertie
was as upset as I was. “I beg your pardon, Thomas. I had no idea that was a
Just then, loud footsteps sounded on the stairs. Two boys
came pelting in, shouting at the top of their lungs, and the atmosphere was
lightened. “Uncle Thomas! Uncle Roddy! You’re home, you’re home!”
Before my lover allowed himself to be distracted he gave me
a look that promised he would be interrogating me about this later. They hurled
themselves onto him, and he rocked back a bit under their weight.
“Tristan! Sigfried!” He hugged them. “You’ve both
grown so much!”
“It’s been ages since you last saw us, Uncle Roddy!
I’ll be going away to school soon! To Brookfield, with Hal!” Tris, the older
boy, informed him proudly.
“And Papa says I’m too big for the nursery anymore,
specially since we have Thomas now! I’m to have a tutor!” Sigfried
exclaimed. He came to stand in front of me with his brother, who was solemnly
offering me his hand.
“Oh, I have missed you!” Roddy said as he watched the
boys, and something caught at my heart. He would make such an excellent papa.
“What did you bring us?” Sigfried demanded, unable to
contain himself any longer, and my brother groaned and clapped a hand to his
“Tact, Dinah! The boy needs to be taught tact!”
She smiled at her husband naughtily. “Of course, my dear.
First thing in the morning. Meanwhile, what did you bring us, gentlemen?”
Roddy had the saddlebag off his shoulder and into his hands
with a shrug. He opened it and removed the first of the packages, which he
presented to Dinah. “Ohhh!” she breathed in delight. It contained a shawl of
the finest Moroccan lace.
Next he gave the boys a set of Arabian horses, carved from
teak and ivory. “My friend, Sheik Ali-Es-Hadji, had them made when I told him
I knew of two boys who would treasure them.” They took the tiny statues with
“I thought this might suit Hal,” my lover said as he
handed a leather bound book to Bertie. It was an original translation of The
Three Musketeers, which had somehow wound up in a bazaar in North Africa, and
was inscribed by Alexandre Dumas in faded blue ink.
For Little Thomas he had found a miniature uniform of the
_nth, the Regiment to which I had belonged, down to a little wooden sword and
Then he handed the saddlebag to Bertie, who stroked it with
appreciative fingers. “Here, what’s this?” He removed six chamois pouches
and weighed them in his palm. “Marbles, Roddy?”
“Not exactly.” He blushed. “Diamonds.”
“So that’s what you were doing while I was taking care
of government business,” I said as we got ready for bed later that evening.
“Getting gifts for the family.”
“It was little enough. Did they like them, do you
think?” he asked as he stood before the sink in the bath. “I’ve never had
to choose presents for anyone before.” He began to brush his teeth.
I pulled him back against me and grinned at his reflection.
“They loved them, rosebud! You picked gifts that were guaranteed to please
each one of them! Of course, Little Thomas is a bit too young to appreciate his,
but in a year or so he’ll be worshipping the ground you walk on!” I turned
his face and kissed him, uncaring that I was getting a mouthful of tooth powder.
“Just as I do! Now hurry, I want to get you into bed and have my wicked way
I went back into the bedroom and stopped short as I saw the
package on the bed. “Oh, love. You got something for me too? Is there any
wonder why I love you?” I picked it up and turned it over.
“Beg pardon?” Roddy sauntered out of the bathroom. A
sharp gasp drew my attention away from the box and to my lover. He had turned
deathly white, and his pupils were so dilated that the blue was completely
obscured. He was shaking his head. “That isn’t from me!”
“Then who…?” With the lid lifted, the fragrance of cedar rose from the satin-lined box, and I stared in shock at the object that lay inside.
Note: Gadje is anyone not gypsy. A vista is a band of
I had the phallus Bela himself had crafted to ensnare me.
Somehow it had found its way to Jennie Williams’ shop, Needful Things, and I
had taken it without her knowledge, although I had left some banknotes for her
Now all I needed was the ointment that was guaranteed to
leave the user of the phallus in thrall to me. Once both items were placed in
the small cedar chest, I would see that Thomas got them.
Thomas would be unable to resist, just as I had been unable
to resist. He would cover that soft black leather with the lubricant and use it
to thoroughly plow his back passage.
And he would be mine, as he always should have been,
as I was certain he had been destined to be, no matter what the gypsy, Maleva,
For an instant, I considered the man with whom Thomas was
living, then dismissed him as unimportant.
My skin felt hot and flushed, and my cock was hard and
weeping as I imagined him on his hands and knees. I lay on my bed and stroked my
shaft languorously, contemplating using the dildo myself, but then I put aside
that desire. I’d wait until I had Thomas under me. My climax would be all the
more powerful, my subjugation of him all the sweeter for the delay!
Maleva would never make the spicy-scented ointment for me.
The wise woman had been against my possession of Thomas from the very beginning,
when she had read the future in our palms.
But there was someone else in the gypsy camp who could do
as I wished, a young woman who was being trained against the time when Maleva
was no longer with the tribe.
Paloma had created the unguent for Bela, for he had told me
of it one night after he had ravaged me, to his enjoyment, and mine.
“It was necessary for us to do this when Maleva was not
at the vista, but my mother seemed to be at my heels every time I turned
around,” he said. “Finally, under the guise of courting the girl, I was able
to find enough privacy for Loma to gather the ingredients and create it for me.
It is very effective, don’t you find it so, my precious?”
Bela was on his knees before me, licking at my momentarily
sated flesh. His blunt-tipped fingers traced the crease of my arse, finding and
easily entering my lubricated anus.
The big gypsy found the spot that made me burn and rubbed
it roughly. He swallowed my erection and began finger-fucking me, driving me up
onto my toes with the force of his thrusts.
I was too engulfed by lust to question the ability of my
spent cock to rise to the occasion once more. Bela’s teeth scored the length
of my shaft, and I spilled my semen into his throat.
He laughed as he let me slip from his mouth, then pushed me
onto my stomach and slammed into me, holding me motionless beneath him. It was
only after he came a final time that he revealed the secret of my insatiable
desire for him.
The ointment, and its ingredients, made me his slave.
It was dusk, the time of day when few were about. I stalked
her and finally cornered her when she went to draw water from a nearby stream.
“What do you seek from me, gadje?” she demanded
haughtily. The foolish female had no idea who or what I was. She thought she was
a match for me.
I seized her wrist and twisted it, and her face tightened with pain. “I want the ointment that you made for Bela, Paloma.”
She recoiled. “I don’t know what you’re talking
about!” Paloma backed as far away as my grip would permit, which was not far
“Don’t you?” I jerked her forward until we were chest
to breast. “Don’t you? Bela needed that ointment, and you concocted
it for him. He knew the …object… wouldn’t work without it.”
Her expression became sullen. “Bela was in line to be
headman. I had to obey him!”
“What makes you think you don’t have to obey me?”
“You?” Her lip curled. “You are a gadje. Son of a
m’lor’ or not, if you do anything to harm me, my people will come after you
and destroy you!”
I growled. “You think they will try to destroy… the
Her eyes widened in terror as she saw what was in my eyes.
Her breathing became too rapid: she gave a thin, high-pitched cry and fainted. I
sneered as I caught her, and carried her deeper into the woods. This was
the one the Rom were counting on to replace Maleva, when she passed on?
Maleva would never have permitted her fear to show, if
indeed she had any.
Paloma was just starting to stir as I laid her down on the
matting of leaves and pine needles that covered the forest floor. I was crouched
over her hips, and she shrank away from me, her hand going to the bodice of her
dress. Reassured that I hadn’t attempted to strip her, she regarded me warily.
“You will prepare the ointment for me, just as you did
for Bela.” For a moment I thought she would continue to challenge me, but the
flash of defiance wilted beneath my unrelenting gaze. She nodded reluctantly.
“If Maleva learns I did this thing you ask of me, she
will see that the skin is flayed off my back!”
I had no more desire for Maleva to know what I was about
than this weak-willed female did, but I had no intention of revealing that to
Paloma. “Do you think that matters to me, girl? Do as I say, or worse
than a whipping will befall you!”
As Bela had told me, the preparation of the unguent could
not be done while Maleva was in the gypsy camp. She was too astute, and would
realize what the girl was doing.
The entire tribe had known I was Bela’s, so I couldn’t
pretend to be enamored of Paloma, and desirous of a liaison with her.
I arranged to have a message delivered to the camp
requesting Maleva’s immediate aid by another band of gypsies elsewhere in the
county. The headman escorted her, leaving a less experienced young man to guard
I watched from the shade of a big oak until the dust that
marked the passing of their caravan settled. With as much patience as I could
summon, I waited for the gypsy girl to gather the ingredients, and then summon
me to her wagon.
The odor of this unguent was different, scented with
patchouli, which would draw Thomas to me, just as the sandalwood had drawn me to
Bela. I watched as she pounded with mortar and pestle, grated and ground,
stirred and boiled.
Finally, she handed the cooling jar to me. “One final
ingredient, m’lor’. You must add your essence to this. Stir it three times,
then set it in a darkened spot. When it is the time of the waxing crescent moon,
a thin coating must be placed on the object, and left overnight, then wiped with
something that belonged to the person it will be used upon.”
She paused while I considered this. I would have to find
some pretext to visit Lady Eugenia and obtain something of Thomas’, a
handkerchief, perhaps. I nodded my understanding, and she continued. “You know
the results when used by the one it has been created for. Now, go and leave me
in peace, for I swear, should you approach me again, I will go to Maleva no
matter what the cost to myself!”
I bared my teeth at her. Content to see her turn pale, I
left the caravan and returned home, making sure I was unseen by anyone.
No one used the observatory, not even Father, for whom I
had made it.
The night sky through the clear glass of the observatory
was spangled with stars that played peek-a-boo with the clouds.
In the seclusion of that glassed in space, I opened my
trousers and took out my already aroused cock. The thought of mixing my semen
into the ointment, which would then ease the phallus’ way into Thomas’ snug
channel, had me on the point of climaxing. I braced myself against a sill and
began to stroke myself. In hardly any time at all I was coming. I grabbed for
the jar of ointment, and managed to get most of the white drops into it.
It took me long minutes to catch my breath, and by the time
I had, my semen had sunk into the unguent. I did up my trousers, then stirred it
carefully three times and set it aside in a dark place where I knew no one would
I followed the rest of Paloma’s instructions to the
letter, as well, waiting impatiently until the waxing of the crescent moon when
I was finally able to apply the ointment to the phallus with careful fingers.
Once that was done, all that remained was to rub the black leather to a high
gloss with something belonging to Thomas.
Lady Eugenia saw nothing strange in me coming for a visit,
although she did mention the stubble on my face. It seemed that I no sooner
shaved than the blue-black of my beard would be covering my cheek and chin
To my great good luck, she was called away to another part
of the house, and I was able to slip up to Thomas’ room. I went to the dresser
that held his clothing, and abruptly decided on a set of undergarments. I
stuffed them into my jacket pocket and hurried back down to the rose salon.
When Lady Eugenia returned a short while later, apologizing
for having abandoned me, I brushed it aside and informed her that I had come on
a pleasurable task: to invite her to my engagement party.
“Oh, Lawrence, you’re going to marry Jennie? How
“Er, no, Lady Eugenia. I’m going to announce my
engagement to Gwen Conliffe.”
Her face fell, and then she blushed. “I beg your pardon,
Lawrence. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions. I was under the impression
that Jennie is carrying your child. Obviously, I was in error.”
“You weren’t.” My hand in my pocket closed over her
son’s undergarment. “Jennie refused my offer. At any rate, Father has seen
to all the arrangements.” Including the proposal. I hadn’t seen Gwen
Conliffe since we had taken tea together, shortly after the incident in
Jennie’s shop. I dragged my mind away from that thought. “ He’s very
pleased with her. She’ll make an excellent wife.” Lady Eugenia would have
offered me a hug, but I stepped back. “May I count on your presence?”
“Of course, Lawrence. Aren’t you like a son to me?”
She sighed. “I do hope you know what you’re doing.”
“Of course, Lady Eugenia. I always know what I’m
I could hardly wait to make my farewells and get home to
wipe the dildo with the undergarment. I almost came from the thought that soon, soon
Thomas would become mine.
From somewhere deep inside of me, a voice was crying,
“This is wrong! You cannot do this to Thomas, not if you love him!”
I forced the puling, whining admonition back into the
recesses of my soul. It was because I loved Thomas that I was doing this!
I ran up the steps of Talbot Abbey and strode up to my
suite of rooms. Behind the paneling in a corner was a secret compartment, and it
was there that I had concealed the objects I intended for my best friend. An
almost electrical shock ran through my fingers and up my arm as I covered the
black leather with the soft white material and rubbed it thoroughly.
When I was done, I placed the phallus and the jar of
ointment into a small cedar chest, similar to the one Bela had sent me. I
fastened the latch and set it aside.
I needed to touch the article of clothing that had been
worn against Thomas’ body. I stroked it, held it up to my face, breathed
deeply, but the only scent I got was the patchouli that would enthrall him to
Ruefully, I put it on the bed. Something about that
undergarment kept drawing my attention, and I examined it more carefully, then
dismissed the odd notion that it was a trifle smaller than someone of my
friend’s build might wear. After all, it had been quite a long time since I
had seen Thomas.
I shrugged the thought aside and went down to the study to
wrap the cedar chest. After I covered it with brown paper, I rang for a servant.
“Ah, Winston. I’ll need one of the footmen to run an errand up to Town for
me.” I handed him the package, Thomas Fortescue-Smythe scrawled across the
top, with the address of his brother Bertie’s townhouse. “See that this
arrives before moon rise tonight.”
There wouldn’t be a full moon for a number of days yet,
and I would have plenty of time to savor what Thomas would be doing with my
I knew immediately that something had gone wrong. I could
almost scent how amiss it had gone!
I should have felt something when Thomas opened the box
containing the black leather dildo and had taken it out. Bela had told me he
knew immediately when I touched the phallus, and when I had inserted it into my
arse he had almost come.
Yet there was nothing.
Perhaps the ointment wasn’t the correct one. Yes, that
was probably what the problem was.
That little bitch of a gypsy had fucked me over. She must
have given me a lubricant that was totally useless.
I would have to find another way to make Thomas mine.
Note: The Black Pearls of Anubis, which first appeared in
Poor, Wand’ring One, were created by the high priest Imhotep in order to
enslave the young prince, Ankhsunamen. They were found by Charlie Allnutt in the
tomb of the Boy King, and wound up in Roddy Sayer’s possession. Roddy’s
We had been away too long.
Tommy and I returned from Africa only partially because it
was time to come home. Even if his former superior in London had offered him one
more mission, Tommy would not have accepted it. Lady Genie’s most recent
letter, which had reached us in Nairobi, made my lover exceedingly nervous.
People and animals were being found slaughtered, much too close to Fortescue
By the time our airship, le Vert Fromage, landed in
England, it was too late in the day to continue on to Kent. We broke our journey
at his brother’s London townhouse.
Bertie Fortescue-Smythe and his wife, Dinah, had been about
to go out for the evening. When they saw us on their doorstep, they ordered our
rooms and a meal prepared and then sent ‘round their regrets, insisting it was
more pleasurable to spend time with their travel-weary prodigals.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that my lover’s brother
and sister-in-law would so casually cancel long-standing plans, and yet it never
failed to amaze me how easily they accepted me.
“This is Roddy Sayer,” Tommy had announced when he
first introduced me to Bertie and Dinah. It didn’t matter to him that I
wasn’t in the same social strata as his family, that I was merely the younger
brother of a not-very-competent African missionary. “He’s mine, and I’m
And that was all there was to it.
The four of us sat down to dinner, their sons having
already eaten in the schoolroom, and Bertie caught us up on the most recent news
from Kent. Things there were even more disquieting than we had first assumed.
Colonel Montford, the constable, was starting to suspect
that the gypsies who camped on Talbot land might know more about the deaths than
they were telling, but he couldn’t get them to reveal a single thing.
“Stupid get,” Bertie muttered. “As if they’d talk
to anyone who wasn’t Rom!”
Dinah slid her fingers over his and gave them a squeeze.
“Don’t worry so, beloved,” she said softly. His hand turned under hers,
and palm caressed palm.
Uncertain how they would feel knowing that their overt show
of affection had been witnessed, I glanced away. My eyes tangled with my
lover’s. His gaze was tender, and I suddenly realized it wouldn’t matter: I
My lips parted, and my tongue peeked out to moisten them.
Tommy’s smile promised a night of overpowering passion. I shifted in my seat
to ease the constriction of my trousers.
His smile faded. “We’ll see to it that the Mater is
safe, I promise you, Bertie,” Tommy murmured as he picked up his glass of wine
and twirled it between his fingers, observing the overhead lights reflecting off
the ruby tones.
I shivered. The wine looked like blood.
My lover thought I was the most easy-going person he had
He had seen me cross, when he teased me. He had seen me
angry, when I thought he was taking foolish risks.
But he had never, ever seen me in a fury.
Until that night.
I was brushing my teeth when Tommy called from the bedroom,
“Oh, love. You got something for me too? Is there any wonder why I love
“Beg pardon?” I joined him in the other room, and
stopped abruptly at the sight of what he held. The hairs at the back of my neck
stood on end, and I could feel the blood drain from my face. I shook my head,
forcing the words out of dried lips. “That isn’t from me!”
“Then who…?” Tommy opened the box and stared inside.
His eye widened in shock.
“What…?” I was beside him, peering into the chest,
and I recoiled from the miasma of dark desire that seemed to emanate from it.
Within were a rather large, black leather phallus, and a
pretty porcelain jar. As if in a trance, my lover removed it from the box,
completely ignoring the phallus. Blindly, he thrust the chest at me, uncaring
whether I caught it or dropped it to the floor.
I felt a flash of fear, which rapidly evolved into rage.
What was the meaning of such a gift? And who would send it to him?
I curled my lip as I gazed down at the phallus, impervious
to the tendrils of lust that seemed to be snaking out to envelope and possess
me. Whatever spell had been woven into this was ineffectual compared to the
ancient Egyptian wizard who had crafted the Black Pearls of Anubis.
According to legend, the Pearls were an object of sexual
domination. Inserted into the anus, and removed at the point of orgasm, they
rendered the wearer, body and soul, the possession of the person who placed the
I liked that idea.
Tommy had used those Pearls on me, before destroying them
to keep them out of the hands of the Egyptian, Ardeth Bey.
And while the phallus seemed to try to exert its hold over
me, it held no allure.
My attention was drawn back to my lover, and I set the
chest down on a nightstand. His fingers stroked over the swell of the jar,
fondling it with the intense, loverlike concentration that was usually reserved
for me. With languid movements, he began to unscrew the lid.
The jar contained a pale, biscuit-colored lotion, scented
with a fragrance I couldn’t name.
Tommy inhaled deeply, and his eye closed in rapture.
“Patchouli!” he breathed, and I saw his cock harden.
I knew he favored that scent and frequently wore it when he
made love to me. Whenever that aroma tickled my nostrils, I knew I was in for a
long night of passion.
There was something else mingling with the patchouli,
though. The odor that wafted up from the ointment almost caused me to gag, and I
backed away from it, a hand clasped over my nose and mouth.
But Tommy leaned toward it eagerly. He was about to scoop
up a bit of the stuff when the silver chain he wore around his neck somehow
tangled in his fingers. He cried
out as if startled out of a dream, and the jar fell from his grasp.
I lunged for it and managed to catch it before it could
land and splatter its contents all over the carpet, then bolted to the bathroom,
holding my breath so I wouldn’t vomit. I upended the jar and shook what it
contained into the commode and flushed it down.
I returned to our bedroom and retrieved the cedar chest,
dropping the jar into it beside the phallus. Then I closed the lid with a snap
and latched it.
“Where did this come from?”
Tommy appeared dazed for a moment, then shook his head and
stared at me in consternation. “What…what just happened?”
Someone was trying to ensnare my lover. Although I had no
idea how I could be so sure of that, I knew it as clearly as I knew my name.
I also knew that when I got my hands on whoever it was,
I’d have his guts for garters.
I seized the bell pull and gave it such a furious yank that
it was torn from the wall. Down in the butler’s pantry I could imagine the
bell’s strident clangor would be summoning the butler.
Before too long, Johnson came hurrying to see what was
wrong. He took one look at the savagery on my face and backed away.
“How did this get here?” I demanded in a tight voice,
shoving the small cedar chest toward him.
Johnson cast a questioning glance at Tommy. “Why…why,
it was delivered a short while ago,” he said hesitantly. “I brought it
directly to your room, sir.”
“Who was it from?” I snapped.
“It was delivered by someone from Talbot Abbey.” The
butler backed up a step as I approached him. “Sir, I…”
After several deep breaths I was able to bring my emotions
under control. “I beg your pardon, Mr. Johnson. It was unforgivable of me to
shout at you. Please see that this is disposed of in the trash.” I handed him
His expression was torn as he glanced again at his
employer’s brother. The chest was very finely crafted, and it seemed a shame
to throw it away on a whim. Tommy nodded grimly, and the butler gave a sigh. He
took it and was about to leave, when he paused at the door. “Just one other
thing, sir. The young man who handed it to me told me his orders were that I was
to be sure Mr. Thomas got it before moon rise.”
I stared involuntarily out of the window, at the fat, white sphere of the moon as it rose above the roofs of London. “*Bugger*!”
The legend attached to the Pearls of Anubis linked the one
they were used on irrevocably to the one who used them, but I was tied to Roddy
Sayer just as strongly as he was to me.
My lover had contracted a putrid sore throat, once. It
wasn’t in the least similar to what had carried Father off, but I was
terrified it would become fatal, especially when his temperature rose and he
began to speak in a language I was unfamiliar with.
“You’re not leaving me, Roddy Sayer!” I hissed in his
ear as he lay there sweating out the fever. “I’ll come after you, don’t
think I won’t! And believe me, you won’t be happy! Now, get well,
Shortly afterwards, he started to get better, but I
wasn’t taking any chances. I had the doctor seeing him every day, although he
swore Roddy was on the road to recovery. I made Dr. Cliffe give me a tincture
that he promised would speed my lover’s recuperation.
“I’m fine, Tommy.” Roddy’s tone was fretful.
“Stop fussing, do! It’s nothing!”
I stood beside his bed, tapping my foot impatiently. I
frowned mightily as I shoved the spoon filled with a thick, brown liquid into my
lover’s pouting mouth.
“Yes, well, that’s how it started with Father. I’m
not taking any chances on losing you, Roddy Sayer! Now take your medicine!” He
pretended to gag, but swallowed it down. “I love you, rosebud. I’ll love you
until the end of time.”
“I don’t know how you can, Tommy.” Warm color climbed
his cheeks. “I’m nothing special.”
“Nothing special? You’re angling for compliments,
aren’t you, love? Well, I’ll pander to you, but only because you’re ill.
You’re a good man, Roddy. You care about your country and your friends. You're
sweet-tempered," he pulled a face, and I knew I'd better change the subject
before I became maudlin. "And you have a mouth..." I leaned close
enough to taste those lush lips, but restrained myself. I’d kiss them when he
was feeling more the thing. "Oh, that mouth! I could be dead and buried six
feet under, and I'd still want that mouth!"
Roddy felt the need to mark me as his that night, the night
I found that chest on our bed. He drove into me deep and hard, and the burn made
me cry out and beg for more. And then he flipped me over and swallowed me to the
root, sucking vigorously. I shuddered to a bone-melting orgasm, spilling myself
in his throat.
My lover surged forward, bracing my legs over his forearms,
and his cock slid smoothly into my back passage once more. He stretched up to
reach my mouth, taking it, sharing my taste with me.
His cheek rested against mine, and his breath whistled in
my ear as he fucked me with a steady rhythm. “I love you, Tommy. I won’t let
anyone take you from me!” With a groan he began to come, and the heat of his
climax scalded me.
I murmured happily and relaxed beneath him. Between one
heartbeat and the next, I was deeply asleep.
When I first lost the sight in my right eye I dreamed every
night that my vision was once again whole.
I’d waken, depressed, to find that nothing had changed.
Since Roddy Sayer had entered my life again, the dreams
came less and less, and those times when my sleep was disturbed, he was there,
so warm, so solid, and so uncaring that I was no longer perfect, that I tumbled
hopelessly in love with him once again.
So I knew, when I opened my eyes and could see clearly from
both of them, that this was just a dream.
I was walking through an enormous room. Sunlight streamed
through the windows, highlighting the hieroglyphs, which covered the walls,
filtering through the enormous marble pillars that supported the arched ceiling.
At the far end, gradually growing more clear the closer I approached, was a
large throne, in front of which stood an equally large, jackal-headed statue.
At the statue’s side was a slim figure that was clothed
in a white linen kilt. The way he held himself was vaguely familiar, and for a
second I thought it was my lover, Roddy Sayer, but then I realized that this
young man was not as fair. His midnight hair flowed over his shoulder in a scalp
lock, and his eyes were a fathomless black.
As I drew to a halt before him, those eyes, so similar in
expression to my lover’s, unsettled me, observing me solemnly. I tore my gaze
away from them, and concentrated on the statue.
To realize it was not a statue, but the living god.
The massive chest, covered in sleek black fur, rose and fell with each breath.
Slender hips were draped by a cloth of gold kilt, held by ropes of precious
jewels and fastened by a sapphire as large as my fist that reflected the color
of his eyes. Strong thighs, the muscles well defined, were braced negligently
apart. At their apex was the outline of his cock, emphasized by the snug girth
of the material.
I licked suddenly dry lips and bowed my head respectfully.
I couldn’t remember much about the time Roddy and I had
spent on the altar stone in the temple that Ardeth Bey’s followers had
constructed beneath Talbot Abbey, but I did remember we would never have escaped
without the intervention of Anubis, the god of the dead.
He said nothing, but continued to study me intently.
I swallowed, more nervous than I could ever remember being.
Did he intend to take my lover away from me? “Why have I been brought here,
“You do not accord me the reverence due a god.” It was
hard to tell whether it was a question or a statement.
Bloody hell! Had I offended him by not groveling before
him? “Beg pardon, Sir,” I offered. “I’m Church of England.” // Oh, very
clever response, Tommy Smythe! A sure way to get this ancient one out of charity
A lip curled over very long, very sharp teeth. “Soon a
crossroads will be reached, mortal. A love from your past will seek to claim
you. It will be your choice, whether to remain with the love you have now, or
reject it for the love you had then.”
“I don’t understand.” Reject Roddy? Impossible!
Curiosity niggled at me. For whom? Archie? He would not expect me to turn away
from the love I now had. And at any rate, he was gone.
The god seemed to know what was in my mind. “Not the
sergeant. The shape-shifter.” He read the confusion in my eyes, and shook his
head, wryly amused. “You will be given a short amount of time to make your
“I don’t need any amount of time. Roddy is
The god would have spoken again, but I interrupted him with
a slashing movement of my hand.
“I don’t want anyone else, and I’m not giving him
Those jackal-jaws parted. I shivered but refused to look
away, and the god nodded in approval. “A wise choice has been made,
Ankhsunamen,” he said as he ran a clawed hand gently over the black hair.
The young man leaned against the large figure, and raised
eyes filled with adoration. “Yes, my lord.” There was satisfaction in his
voice. “A wise choice, indeed.”
I tried to sneer at the gadje’s words. Did he think to
frighten me, with his big talk? There was no way he could hurt me, threats of
the loup garou or no, I staunchly insisted to the tiny, whimpering voice at the
back of my mind.
I didn’t even really fear Maleva, I assured myself. If
she ever learned I had made the ointment of the wolf for both her son, and the
m’lor’, the most I risked was being exiled from the vista. Nothing else
would be done to me.
I recalled when Bela had followed me to my brother’s
caravan, and cornered me in the cramped space within. He had threatened to plant
a whelp in my belly if I did not obey him. The thought of being taken by the
wolf and bearing his cub terrified me, so I prepared the ointment.
I had done the same for the gadje, following the recipe to
the letter, changing only the scent that would draw his victim to him.
Why had I put myself in danger of banishment by complying
with his desires?
My shoulders sank in defeat, and I glanced furtively at my
palm. I was afraid of him.
Maleva sent for me, and I went to her caravan, eaten up
I clenched my hands into fists and hid them behind my back.
“Y--yes, Maleva?” I still feared that at any time she might seize my palm
and discover in it what I had done.
She looked up from the table where she was examining a deck
of Tarot cards. “I have a task for you, my child.” Carefully she levered
herself up, her hand going to the small of her back and rubbing as if in pain.
“I have received a message from the lady in the village.” She went to a
small cupboard that was set into the side of the caravan and withdrew a vial.
The entire vista knew the lady of whom the wise woman
spoke, the blonde woman from Upper Uncton. She carried the child of the
m’lor’, was talked of in hushed tones and fearful whispers.
“Is she well, Maleva? Her time is not near.”
“The lady is as well as she can be. She will need this,
my child; her babe is very special. This will provide the child with additional
protection against any who would harm her.”
“Why me, Maleva?” I hesitated before I reached for the
“I am in too much pain to go to her. You will one day be
wise woman, no? This will be good training for you. I want you to examine the
lady, and when you return to the vista, come back to my wagon and tell me of
your findings. You question my decision, Paloma?” she asked sharply as I
paused in the doorway of the caravan. I opened my mouth to speak, then shook my
head and jumped down to the ground.
I looked up into the evening sky. The moon would be full
this night. If I took the short cut through the woods, I could be to the village
and back well before the moon rose. And the gadje should be too intent with
completing his plans of subjugation to give a thought to me.
But just to be on the safe side, I would make sure I
I was having a solitary tea when Victor Twiddle, my
assistant, brushed past the woman who did for me. Due to a marked lack of
intelligence, he had been unable to fight in the Great War, and that was his
life’s regret. So he studied the manuals and insisted on saluting at every
“Colonel! We got us another one, sir!” Twiddle brought
his heels together smartly, nearly unbalancing himself, and saluted.
I sighed. “Bloody hell, Victor! Can’t you at least wait
until Mrs. Roberts shows you in? What do you think I pay the woman for?” I
threw the napkin that had been raised to my lips onto the tray and waved my
housekeeper off. “Now, what were you saying?”
For a moment it seemed he was about to salute again. I
glowered at him and he thought better of it. “In the woods, Colonel! A
Something was going on, and I was afraid I knew only too
well what it was. City people had a tendency to abandon their unwanted curs here
in the country, and when the dogs grew hungry and banded together, I had to deal
with the slaughter that was the aftermath. Cattle, and now, it seemed, people.
Victor’s brother had been a victim. George Twiddle’s body was found just
inside the forest, mangled almost beyond recognition. Damned wild dogs.
“Are you certain, Victor?”
“Of course I’m certain, sir. I’ve seen bodies before,
and this was definitely a body!”
I closed my eyes and counted to ten. It was my ill fortune
to be cursed with an assistant who was thick as a brick.
“The dog pack?” He nodded. “How bad?”
“As bad as can be, sir. Parts all over the forest floor.
A leg here, an arm there...”
“Very well, Twiddle. No need to go into such grim detail.
Any idea who it might be?”
“Didn’t I say, sir? Oh, beg pardon, I’m sure. It was
a female this time. Looks like it might have been one of them gypsies that was
camped on Sir John’s land.”
I woke up gradually, to the feel of feather touches tracing
the muscles of my back, down to the curves of my arse. I shifted, parting my
legs, giving my lover better access to whatever he chose to explore.
“I’m here, sweetheart,” he whispered.
“Again,” he agreed, and his head dipped. I jerked as I
felt his tongue stroke across my hole, and then press forward to penetrate me.
My hands clenched on the sheets and I groaned, rocking
forward to rub my abruptly aroused cock against the sheets, and then arching
back to get more of that teasing tongue into me.
Roddy’s fingers squeezed my arse cheeks with bruising
force, separating them. Slick fingers replaced his tongue, and I cried out,
certain my heart would stop beating. I was still so ready from earlier that it
didn’t take much to loosen and relax me.
I was begging him not to make me wait, to take me hard, and
he complied, slamming into me, hitting my sweet spot. My lover twined his
fingers with mine and surged over me. Along my back I could feel the dusting of
hair that covered his chest and groin.
Roddy slid his thighs further apart, widening the space
between my own thighs. He undulated rhythmically against me, driving me into the
mattress, and I gasped, whimpering for breath. His weight kept me pinned down.
“Please!” I moaned. He released my hands and hoisted me
up onto my knees, then reached beneath me to begin pumping my cock. I dropped my
head and trembled, letting him do as he would with me.
The blood was pounding in my head, matching the beat of the
blood that flowed to my cock. Another stroke, in my arse, to my weeping prick,
and we came together, he flooding my bowels, while I filled his hands.
Carefully, Roddy eased me to my side and spooned against my
back, nuzzling the soft hair behind my ear. I hummed with repletion, and we both
began the slide toward slumber.
The Wolf’s POV
I had to reach him before the moon sank behind the horizon.
Ears flattened, tongue lolling, my body low to the ground, I raced over the
Trees, houses, towns flashed by in the blink of an eye, and
then I had reached the edge of the stinking metropolis that was London. My nose
wrinkled, and I whined in protest at the smells that bombarded that sensitive
The human’s memories led me where I needed to go. I made
my way through the darkness, no one seeing me, because I had no wish to be seen.
Not as with the foolish gypsy girl. She had known, the
whole way to the forest, that I was tracking her. If she had any sense, she
would have begged to stay with the lady, but she was so certain of making the
safety of the camp.
Of course, she hadn’t. I ran a tongue over my lupine
smile, catching the last sweet taste of her blood.
There! That was the house! I scrambled up to the small
balcony that was off his window. The curtain was not fully closed, and I
was able to peer past the gauzy stuff.
He lay on the bed, naked. I could see the fine hairs that
covered his chest and groin, could make out the soft length of his cock against
his thigh. Suddenly I saw a hand reach around to pet his chest, and his
hands came up to close over it and hold it snug to him.
Too late! I threw my head back and howled my rage to the
I took a step back and then flung myself forward against
the glass, and it shattered under my weight. I landed in the bedroom and raised
my head, drawing in a deep breath. The air was filled with the scent of their
lovemaking, and I howled again in fury. He should have been mine!
The figures on the bed were scrambling back away from me.
Yes. It was good that they feared me, that they both feared me.
With a single easy bound, I was on the bed with them. My
mate needed to be punished. Perhaps, after I had him in abject submission on his
belly under me, bloody and beaten, perhaps then I would forgive him. But first I
would destroy the other one, the one who stole what was mine.
To my utter shock, he threw himself in front of the
other, to protect him! How could that be? Very well, then I would destroy
I leaped toward he who should have been my mate, and my
jaws snapped shut, just short of his throat. The other had pulled him back out
of my reach. The movement caused the chain around his neck to swing free,
and it struck me across my cheek and muzzle.
I gave a cry of pain at the awful burning sensation.
The pain seemed to free the human within. Torn between the
horror of what I had almost done and the rage at the betrayal of my mate, I spun
around and leaped from the window.
I landed wrong, shattering a foreleg. Somehow I managed to
get to my feet and limp away. I knew I left behind a puddle of blood and fur.
I had to return home to Talbot Abbey. Slipping from shadow
to shadow, I made my way to the outskirts of London, and found a lorry that was
heading in the right direction. I crawled under the tarp that covered the bed,
and lay on my side, panting, waiting while the moon worked its magic and my
injuries healed themselves.
By the time the lorry had reached Lower Uncton, I was once
again in human form. I ached, but there was no sign of broken bones and gouged
flesh. I rolled out of the truck, landing on trembling legs.
Exhausted, I stumbled through the night. I had to reach
home before I was missed.
“My son!” It was the gypsy, Maleva. She hobbled out of
the shadows that concealed her caravan.
I backed away from her, ashamed to have her see me naked,
ashamed to be seen with the mark of the beast on me. But I was too weary to run
any more, and I sank to the ground, huddling in on myself.
Her arms wrapped themselves around me, and she tipped my
head back, tracing the wounds that Thomas’ silver chain had burned across my
face. The moon was powerless to erase that brand. Her hand was gentle as it
brushed the hair off my forehead. “Oh, my poor son! Did I not tell you the
young sir was not for you?”
I dropped my head to her breast and wept.
Note: Cosmography is another word for astronomy.
Sir John’s POV
I was feeling my age.
My older sons had been lost: to a foolish War and an even
more foolish hunting accident. And my youngest son… The distance between us
was greater now than when the Atlantic Ocean had separated us.
At my behest, Lawrence returned to England. But he had no
sooner arrived at my home in London, then he was off to Kent, to assess the
extent of the damage, he said.
The extent of the damage…
I no longer had an interest in astronomy, although I was
rather touched that he had seen the Abbey was equipped with an observatory.
Had I remembered to thank him for that?
I made him replace the light wood paneling in my study with
the darker wall coverings that my first wife had selected for it, only
discovering afterwards how that arbitrary decision had wounded him.
It seemed that most of my decisions regarding Lawrence
I knew permitting my wife, Helena to take our son to Canada
might cause a breach between Lawrence and myself. I just had no idea it would
extend into his adult years.
At the time I had acted in what I thought were the boy’s
best interests, but Lawrence never knew, and he never forgave me for allowing
his mother to take him to Canada. He thought I was unaware that he hated the
country, hated her for taking him away, and most of all hated me for letting him
go without a struggle.
I knew. His mother made sure I knew.
“Sir John! Sir John!”
I flinched at the sound of her strident voice, then
struggled to contain my expression. “Yes, my love?”
Helena burst into the conservatory, then came to a halt and
scanned the area until she spotted me. Her stride mannish and no nonsense, she
hurried to where I sat beneath a lemon tree, a book of cosmographical treatises
on my knee. “The most dreadful thing, Sir John!” Her face was flushed an
unbecoming shade, and I wondered how I ever could have considered her features
similar to my beloved Harriet. “There are rumors flying throughout the
I sighed. There usually were. “Who are the poor souls
being subjected to gossip-mongering this time, Helena?”
Her eyes were lit by an evangelical fervor, and a frisson
of unease crept up my spine. “That horrid woman’s boy from the next estate!
And your son.”
I deliberately ignored the first part of her remark. Ever
since Lady Eugenia had shamed her into caring for Lawrence, Helena had found
fault with every aspect of her personality.
“Which son? When last I looked, I had three of them.”
Her lip curled as if my other sons counted for nothing. It
was fortunate they were past the need of her care. One of my greatest regrets
was marrying a woman for the sake of providing my motherless sons with a
feminine influence, and instead giving them Helena Ware.
“Lawrence!” she snapped. Almost overcome with venom,
she continued, “And Thomas Fortescue-Smythe!”
I rose and began to walk away from her, unwilling to meet
the triumph in her gaze. She would like nothing better than to separate those
two. “What have they done, my love?” I heard my words, and was suddenly
shocked by how meaningless that phrase, ‘my love’, had become.
Helena’s fingers dug into my arm. She leaned forward and
began to speak furiously in a lowered voice, imparting the ‘knowledge’ that
they had been spotted by a boy from Lower Uncton doing something that no
gentleman would be caught doing. Paul Montford, the constable’s son, had
sidled up to my wife while she was paying duty calls in the village, and
whispered what he had observed in her ear. “They were seen fondling one
She was further incensed when I casually dismissed the
words as unfounded poppycock. Lawrence and Thomas had been fast friends all
their lives, even sharing a cradle at one time. I refused to believe that two
such upright young men were engaging in frowned-upon acts.
“If you don’t do anything to bring a halt to your
son’s …deviant…behavior, Sir John,” she threatened, “I’ll make a
scandal the district will not soon forget, I promise you!”
The Fortescue-Smythes had lived on the neighboring estate
for longer than the Talbots had been in Kent. I had no desire for Helena to
drive a wedge between the two families. But neither did I have the energy to
battle my wife any longer.
“What do you suggest I do, Helena? Ship him across the
Atlantic?” I asked wearily.
“Anything! I want him away from that awful boy!” Her
glance became sly as she considered the words I had so carelessly tossed at her.
“Yes, that might be an excellent idea!”
I stared at her blankly, and she glared at me.
“Send Lawrence to my family in Canada. Once he’s away
from the influence of that…that sodomite, he’ll be my own loving son
again. I’ll go with him to make sure he gets there safe and sound, and
rectify any harm that might have been done!”
I was too relieved to question her sudden willingness to
abandon the position she had wanted enough to marry me for. Perhaps that was my
first mistake. Or perhaps it was just one in an on-going series of ill
considered, best intentions.
I saw the need to have Talbot Abbey rebuilt as the perfect
excuse to summon Lawrence home. There was nothing to keep him in Canada as the
relationship between him and his mother had deteriorated well beyond chilly
With both John and Harry gone, I wanted my only surviving
son within speaking distance, so-to-speak.
I hadn’t counted on Lawrence’s resentment. After my
first few attempts to join him in Kent were politely rebuffed I remained in
London, getting the news from home from my gameskeeper, Andrews. The family had
been in service to mine for donkey’s years. The other brothers were in Town
with me. Andrews, the elder, was my butler, while Andrews, the younger, was my
They were all dependable men, and I knew I could count on
Andrews, the middle one, the gameskeeper, to keep an eye on my son, and keep me
abreast of events.
Lawrence would need to marry, if only for the sake of the
line. I brought Gwen Conliffe to Talbot Abbey, hoping she might interest my
youngest son. She would make a perfect Lady Talbot: John would have loved her.
Lawrence made every excuse to avoid her.
The last straw was when I learned of Jennie Williams’
interesting condition. “We’ll just have to see about getting the child away
from her,” I informed Lawrence, pleased to learn that he could at least father
a child. I had been beginning to worry that perhaps Helena’s suspicions all
those years ago were a possibility. “I won’t have my grandson being raised
by a shopkeeper!”
I airily dismissed the improbable notion that my grandchild
might be a female.
Instead of falling in with my plans as I expected, indeed
as he had always done, Lawrence had lost his temper and snarled, “Damn you,
Father! Make the arrangements for my marriage with Gwen Conliffe, or marry the
bloody girl yourself, but leave Jennie Williams alone!”
He flung himself out of the house. I was appalled by his
behavior, but I had no intention of letting that interfere with my undertaking.
Would he, wouldn’t he, I would see to it there was a new generation of Talbots
in Talbot Abbey.
I went to the master suite and withdrew a jewel box from
the safe. Jumbled within were the gems I had given my first wife, as well as
some Talbot heirlooms I had managed to withhold from my second, including the
Talbot betrothal ring. I removed it and dusted in on my jacket sleeve. Then I
sought out Gwen Conliffe, and we began to plan a wedding.
Andrews, the butler, had been sent to request Lawrence’s
presence in the breakfast room of Talbot Abbey. I glanced restively at my watch,
then put the timepiece away in my vest pocket and returned to reading the local
It was filled with the gruesome details of another brutal
murder. This made four in the last month. Beastly business.
Someone entered the breakfast room. I made him wait while I
finished perusing an editorial that rather snidely demanded to know where our
constabulary was while these innocent people were being torn limb from limb.
Paul Montford, a retired colonel who had succeeded his
father in the position of constable, was a good enough man, but he was better
suited for arresting poachers and settling property disputes than solving
crimes. I always assumed his position in the military was among the pencil
Finally I raised my eyes.
It was not my son who stood there waiting until I deigned
to notice him. I sighed. “I beg your pardon, Andrews,” I said to my butler.
“Where is Mr. Lawrence?”
“I knocked and knocked, Sir John. Mr. Lawrence isn’t
answering his door.”
“Damn! What’s wrong with my son! Very well, I’ll wake
him myself. Thank you, Andrews.”
He waited until I had preceded him out of the door, then
followed me into the great hall.
The front door opened quietly, and there was my son,
barefoot, wavering on legs that were clothed in the most outlandish garment I
had seen outside a gypsy camp.
The trousers were baggy and ended just below the knee,
leaving his calves dimpled with goose bumps. The dingy white shirt, covered by a
varicolored vest, was unbuttoned. His torso was exposed, and I was startled by
the amount of chest hair he had. Surely Talbots had never been that hairy.
He raised his head, and I couldn’t contain my gasp of
shock. Lawrence’s eyes were dull, filled with despair. From the corner of his
jaw, cutting deep across his cheek and nose to just beneath his left eye was a
livid burn. He began to slide to the floor, and I managed to catch him before he
“Andrews, telephone Dr. Cliffe at once! I want him here
immediately!” I cradled my son in my arms. “Lawrence, my poor boy! What’s
happened to you?”
“Yes, that’s what I’d like to know!”
My son moaned as if he were in pain. In the doorway stood
two men, tension almost vibrating off them: the man who had been Lawrence’s
best friend as a boy, and another whose posture declared, ‘I protect what is
“Thomas? What is the meaning of this?”
The younger man stepped forward, the expression on his face
hard. “Your son has an odd taste in gifts, Sir John.”
“Roddy! Let me handle this!” Thomas laid a gentling
hand on the other’s arm, and he struggled to calm himself. “I do need the
answers to some questions, sir.”
I chewed on my lip, irresolute.
“Not now, Father, please!” my son begged, and I came to
a sudden decision.
“Lawrence is in need of a doctor’s care. You can see
him tomorrow, if Dr. Cliffe has no objections to that.”
“Tomorrow will be too late!” the one Thomas called
Roddy stated flatly.
“He’s right, Father.” I had never seen my son look so defeated. “There will be another full moon tonight.”
“What does that have to say about anything?”
“Father, help me up, please?”
I slid my arm around Lawrence’s shoulders and assisted
him to his feet. He swayed for a moment, then stood free of me. “Lawrence,
please. I don’t know what’s wrong, but you need to lie down!”
“Soon, Father. Soon I will have all the time in the world to rest.”
Note: Although some sports cars of the day were known to
reach speeds of 100 mph, the MGs’ top speed at this time was 70mph, which
isn’t too shabby in anyone’s book. Tommy’s POV
The sounds coming from my bedroom in Bertie’s house woke
the entire household. Before the wolf had reached the pavement beneath my
window, lights had been turned on, bedroom doors flung opened and voices
demanding to what all the ruckus was about sounded throughout the house.
Roddy and I just had enough time to drag on our dressing
gowns before my brother burst into the room.
“What in bloody hell are you two up to?” he roared.
Then he caught sight of the bed. “*Bloody hell*!” I thought his eyes were
going to bug out of his head.
The sheets were in shreds. Spatters of blood and bits of
fur speckled the floor. Shattered glass from the windowpanes glistened on the
rug like shards of diamonds.
Dinah had followed her husband in and recoiled at the
sight. “Oh, dear Lord! What happened?”
Roddy had pulled himself together by this time. “It must
have been a rabid dog,” he murmured, fingering the soft, black fur. He
I glared at him. Thoughts of a rabid dog would terrify a
woman with small children in the house. “Of course it wasn’t a dog, Roddy.
You must have been dreaming. It was a …a…” All right, Smythe, think!
What must it have been? “A gypsy!”
Roddy gave me an exasperated look. “Very nice, Thomas! That
won’t disturb her in the least!”
I knew he was put out with me. He never called me Thomas
unless he was. I just wasn’t sure if it was because I had thrown myself
between him and the wolf, or for my asinine statement.
Bertie stood there with his jaw agape, listening to us try
to come up with a plausible reason for raising the house in the middle of the
night. “Are you planning to tell us next that it was a nightmare? That won’t
wash, old chap. Nightmares do not break windows!”
My lover and I exchanged glances, and I shrugged and
started pulling out clothes. We’d need to get home as soon as possible.
“Bert, old sod, you’re not going to believe this, but…” And I began to
tell them what had happened.
Roddy drove like a lunatic. He told Dinah we were taking
her car, latched his fingers on my sleeve, and dragged me out of Bertie’s
townhouse and round to the mews where the vehicles were kept.
I knew Roddy could drive. He’d told me he needed
something to keep himself occupied while I was tracking down those petty
government officials in those tiny African nations, and so he had learned. I had
just never driven with him before.
Roddy had cranked up the engine and was seated behind the
wheel, his fingers drumming on it impatiently as the engine revved. He barely
waited for me to close the passenger door before he tramped heavily on the
accelerator, and the little MG leaped forward. It was a good thing it was so
late. The streets of London were fairly empty, and we got out of Town without
We had determined to visit the gypsy camp first, and I
directed Roddy on the shortest cut to our corner of Kent. On the open road, the
little sports car ate up the distance. Its Dunlop Cord tyres slip-slided over
the occasional wet and muddy stretches of road. I glanced over at the dials and
moaned when I saw the actual speed. The wind whipped my hair back off my
forehead and drew tears from my eye.
Roddy had the MG up to its top speed. His mouth was set in
a grim line, but he navigated the distance with easy competence.
I swallowed and moistened my lips, and tightened my grip on
the seat. I had never traveled in a land vehicle that went so fast.
And I had to wonder what my brother was about, to give a
tiny woman like Dinah such a powerful automobile. When I said as much to Roddy,
shouting over the whistle of the wind caused by our passing, he turned his head
to look at me. “Do you doubt Dinah could handle this little beauty?”
“Keep your bloody eyes on the road!” I shouted at him.
“Are you daft, you bleeding wanker?”
I could see the slash of white in his face as his lips
parted, and he grinned, relaxing a bit for the first time since the implosion of
glass into our room signaled the beginning of the nightmare. Deliberately, I
shoved the thought of the beast that would have savaged my lover into the
recesses of my mind.
“A wanker, am I? Not likely with you around, Tommy
“I beg your pardon,” I said frostily.
“I haven’t had to do that since you tricked me into bed
with you in Cairo! If this wasn’t such an urgent matter, I’d be tempted to
pull over into that grove of trees we’re passing…that we just passed, and
have you right here in this automobile!”
“Sex? You’re thinking about sex, at a time like
this?” But his words made me smile and helped me to relax a bit myself.
“Yes, I rather think I am. Must be all that adrenaline
rushing through my blood stream.”
“Bloody hell, Roddy!”
“Would you like me to tell you what I’d have done if we
didn’t need to be home quicker than the cat could lick her ear? Want to hear
how I’d have licked my way down your body? By the way, have I ever mentioned
that your navel drives me wild?”
I couldn’t speak. Roddy, being the brother of a
missionary, was usually the most reserved of men. The image he painted with his
words had me hard, and I moaned as I rubbed the heel of my hand over my arousal.
“You do pick your moments!”
He glanced at me quickly, then returned his attention to
his driving. “And that’s why you love me, isn’t it, Tommy? Because you
know that no matter what the situation, deep down I’ll be thinking of having
you in my body. Or me being in yours! When this is all over, I’m going to
drive us deep into the woods, strip off your trousers and bury myself in your
“You’re playing with fire, Roddy Sayer! Remember,
you’re driving! I’ve got nothing better to do than open your trousers, take
your cock out and show you what happens to bad boys who tease!”
He shifted a bit in his seat, spreading his legs wide and
rocking up his hips. “Who’s teasing, sweetheart?”
“Jesus, Roddy! I’ll never be able to look at Dinah’s
car the same way again!” But my fingers were already reaching for him.
Dawn was just breaking as Roddy nosed the MG into the
clearing that sheltered the gypsy vista. The women were tending their campfires,
and eyed us warily as we climbed out of the little sports car, exhaustion
starting to catch up with us.
The headman approached us, his face carefully bland. His
eyes widened as he recognized me. “Mr. Thomas! It has been many years, sir.”
“Sascha? It’s good to see you again!” The last time I
had seen him we had both been young men. It was just before I left for the
military, and I stopped by the vista to pay a final visit with my friends there.
We shook hands. “You are the headman, now?”
He nodded in agreement. “The position would have gone to
Bela, but sadly, he is dead.”
The shortness of that statement kept me from inquiring
further, but I was curious. I remembered Bela, who was a few years older than I.
A gypsy’s life might be precarious, but surely he shouldn’t have died yet?
“Is the wise woman here? I would speak with Maleva, if she is not otherwise
Sascha looked uneasy. He kept glancing around the camp.
“I…think perhaps she has gone to see…Ah!” the relief in his voice was
evident. “Here she is!”
The old woman seemed even more bent and worn than I
remembered. “Grandmother! Are you well?”
Her rheumy eyes lit up as I embraced her. “Young sir! You
have returned! How very good to see you again!” She stepped back and examined
Roddy carefully, nodding in satisfaction. “Yes. You are the one who was
destined for the young sir, the one protected by the Ancient One!” Her
expression grew sad. “Come to my caravan. Sascha, have one of the women bring
some tea, if you would? I will read the leaves.”
We followed Maleva to her wagon, and I waited until we were
seated around a small, fold down table. “Grandmother, we were attacked earlier
She closed her eyes as if in pain.
One of the women climbed into the caravan and handed us tin
mugs filled with hot, bitter tea. Maleva drank hers down, and then began to
speak of what had happened. “My son wanted the little brother more than
anything, and Bela made the m’lor’ his, without my knowledge. The foolish
child who aided him has paid with her life for her meddling.
“Oh, Grandmother!” I mourned. “This is dreadful news. Then it was Lawrence who attacked us?”
“Us? It was not just this young man who was attacked?”
“No. When I protected Roddy, the wolf turned on me.”
“Ah. I see. That is why he bears the mark across his
face.” She reached toward the collar of my shirt. Her fingers dipped past the
material and withdrew the silver chain I was never without. “This is what
saved you, young sir. Always keep it around you neck.”
“Is there anyway to end the curse, Grandmother?”
Maleva looked irresolute. “Perhaps, but not while the
little brother remains in England. If I could get him to the old country…”
She shrugged. “When I first read your palms, there was no question. Now? There
is another player on the board, and we will have to see.”
By this time Roddy had drained his mug, and she took it
from him, peering into the dregs that formed patterns the bottom. Her face
softened. “The protection of the Ancient One is strong, sir. He has very high
regard for you.” She observed his placid acceptance of her words. “You are
not curious as to what the future holds, sir?”
“I don’t care what the future holds, as long as Tommy
isn’t taken from me.” His eyes grew dreamy. “And My Lord promised me
this.” He shook his head and
looked startled by his own words, and smiled sheepishly. “Beg pardon. Don’t
know where that came from.”
She squeezed his hand and reached for my mug. This time a
broad smile lit her face. “You have wanted children, young sir?”
“Yes. I’ve been discussing this with Roddy, and I
imagine once this is settled, we will see about bringing some little boys into
our household. Until then…”
The wise woman stroked my cheek. “I do not see a boy in
the near future, young sir.”
My shoulders slumped. “None?”
“What would you say to a little girl?”
“We’re to have a daughter? Maleva, are you sure?” My
heart was pounding so heavily in my chest I thought it would burst through.
The gypsy’s eyes grew sad once more. “Her mother will
not long survive her birth. But the lady will go from this plane much more
easily, knowing she leaves her child in your capable hands.”
She rose and ushered us from her caravan. I helped her
down, and she slid her arms around me. “Go with God, young sir, and think
kindly of the Rom. We will not be seen here for a very long time.” She turned
to Roddy. “And you, sir.” He stepped into her embrace, and pressed a kiss to
her cheek. “You will do very well, I think.”
We hurried to the MG, looking back to wave farewell, but
she was already turning away, calling her people to her.
“I think it might be best to talk to Lawrence,” I said.
I was staring at Roddy. His knuckles were white on the steering wheel.
“Very well.” That was all he said, but I knew that if
the friend of my childhood made a single wrong move, my lover would take great
pleasure in hurting him.
Somehow I knew that Lawrence had been hurt a great deal
We drove to Talbot Abbey, and hurried up the walk in time
to hear Sir John shouting, “Andrews, telephone Dr. Cliffe at once! I want him
here immediately!” He was cradling his son in his arms. “Lawrence, my poor
boy! What’s happened to you?”
“Yes, that’s what I’d like to know!” I said tightly.
Note: Screaming abdabs is another term for the screaming mimis, which is terror, frights or nerves. Lawrence’s POV
Thomas and his ‘friend’ helped me to my room, and I
sank into a chair. I could feel their eyes on me.
I stared mutely down at my fingers, flexing them. I could
almost see them covered with fur, racing through the by-roads toward my destiny.
I shuddered, and buried my face in my hands.
“Would someone mind explaining to me what, exactly, is
going on?” Father demanded.
“Do you want to tell him, Lawrence, or shall I?”
Thomas’s voice was so cold. It was like a knife sinking deep into my heart. I
looked up at him, hoping to see…what? Friendship? Acceptance? Forgiveness? All
that was there was anger. “I saw where the wolf’s eyes were looking,
Lawrence! You would have killed Roddy!”
“Eh, what? Wolf? What is this all about?” Father was
starting to sound petulant.
“How did you know, Thomas? No one else has any idea.”
“We drove to the gypsy camp. Maleva confirmed my
“I’m sorry,” I murmured despondently, and pushed
Bela’s shirt off my shoulder. The scar seemed to throb and burn in time to the
marks across my face. Maleva had spread a soothing unguent along its length, but
the pain was starting to leach through again. I glanced at my shoulder,
unsurprised to see it an angry red, and touched it with tentative fingers.
Again I was beneath my lover as he marked me as his and
passed along the legacy that the pentagram in my palm had predicted.
I shook my head groggily. “I’m sorry,” I repeated. “I was bitten by a werewolf, on a night of the full moon. Now I’m destined to become a shapeshifter on those nights.”
There was a moment of stunned silence, and then, “What
nonsense! What rubbish! What utter balderdash! I don’t know what’s
wrong with you, Lawrence, but I intend for Dr. Cliffe to see that you’re
cured, immediately, if not sooner!” My father stormed out of my room.
“Andrews? Andrews! Where the devil is Dr. Cliffe? Do I need to
go fetch the blighter myself? Why hasn’t he shown up yet?”
“Dr. Cliffe won’t be able to help you, will he,
“No. I love you, Thomas.” I leaned forward and seized
his wrist between my fingers. “You must listen to me!” Before I could
continue, Sayer, who had been standing behind my friend, sprang forward and
knocked my hand off his lover.
“Touch him just one more time, Talbot, and you’ll be
praying for death before I’m done with you!” he snarled.
“You have Thomas,” I snapped. “He’s yours! Can’t
you at least afford me some pity?”
“No.” His blue eyes, so dark they seemed almost black,
were flat and hard. “You sent that despicable phallus to him. Did you think I
would have allowed him to use something like that? You claim to love him, yet
you would have passed your curse on to him!”
“What do you know of curses, Sayer?” I demanded
bitterly. He would have launched himself at me again, but Thomas spoke.
“Roddy.” His voice was quiet. I wasn’t surprised to
see the younger man subside, albeit resentfully. Thomas came to my side and
rested his hand on my other shoulder. “Roddy knows more than anyone should
have to know about curses, Lawrence. Now say your piece.”
I ran my hands through my hair, leaving it wildly
disheveled. “There must be a cure for this. I can’t go on living here,”
//not without love// “knowing I’m a danger to the people I’ve known all my
life. Maleva said something about me being able to survive on cattle. Bela did.
Until I can learn how to control the wolf, I’ll have myself locked in my rooms
Sayer took a step toward me, his fists clenched. “Do you
think that would stop you? The window of Thomas’ room at Bertie’s townhouse
was completely torn from its sash. The beast is so strong, he’ll have no
trouble knocking down this door!” He took another step closer. “Know this,
Talbot! I’m armed!”
I bared my teeth at him. “Others have shot at me,
Sayer.” I thought of the farmers who fired at me to save their livestock, only
to fall under my teeth and claws. “I am the one who survived!”
To my shock he relaxed and crossed his arms casually across
his chest. A feral grin curled his lips. “Oh, yes, do come after me,
Talbot! My bullets are silver!”
I recoiled from him.
“*Enough*!” Thomas thundered, suddenly very much the
captain who had led his men against the Huns. “This…this pissing contest is
getting us nowhere!” He waited until both of us averted our eyes, then
continued. “In good conscience, Lawrence, I cannot allow you to roam this
countryside. These are my people, too!”
I had myself under control once more. “I…I understand.
I don’t want to die, Thomas.”
“What’s all this nonsense about dying?” Dr. Cliffe
strode into the room, seemingly unconcerned by the tension that was rife in it.
“Oh, I say, nasty burn, Lawrence. What were you up to?” He was about to shoo
Thomas and his lover from the room, but I risked taking hold of my friend’s
hand once more.
Sayer made no move toward me, but a glance told me that he
was simply waiting. I swallowed. “Thomas,” I whispered. “The priests’
cells. I rebuilt the Abbey exactly as it was.”
That was all I had time to tell him before Dr. Cliffe sent
He stopped below me on the stair, staunchly avoiding my
gaze. “Why didn’t you let me deal with him, Tommy? Don’t you understand yet
what he was going to do to you? You’re in danger!”
This was not the best place to have this discussion, but I
knew my lover wasn’t going to let it wait. “You’re the one who’s
in danger!” I protested. “The wolf wants me, but he wants me alive,
as his mate. He wants you dead!”
“Yes? Well, that’s the only way he’s going to get you,
over my dead body!” He brushed his death aside as inconsequential and mounted
the steps until we stood toe to toe. “Perhaps he considered you his mate once,
Tommy, but no longer. Don’t you see?” His fingers dug into my arm, and I
knew there would be bruises later. “You chose me over him!”
I was pale and shaken. “Roddy, I can’t believe he would
try to hurt me!” I dropped my voice. “He was my first lover!”
He had no answer to that. Keeping his hold on my arm, he
urged me down the stairs. “Let’s get out of here, Tommy! This place gives me
the screaming abdabs!”
I nodded politely to Sir John as we passed him.
“Yes, Sir John?”
“What’s wrong with my boy?” He was wringing his
hands. How could I tell him his son was a werewolf?
I rested my hand on his shoulder, letting the warmth of my
palm sink in, then turned and walked out of Talbot Abbey.
“Mother, I really am not in the mood to dine with Sir
John Talbot.” As a matter of fact, all I wanted was as much space as I could
contrive between my lover and the home of the man who had once been my friend.
“A quiet meal in our rooms will suffice.”
Roddy chose that moment to stroll into the drawing room. He
had bathed and changed, and looked good enough to swallow whole. I moistened my
Mother gave him a smile, and he returned it.
“Would you mind accompanying me to Talbot Abbey for
dinner this evening, Roddy? My son does not wish to oblige me.”
“Roddy, I told Mother it’s really too soon for us to be
gadding about! We need at least a night to recuperate from the events of the
past twenty-four hours!” I willed him to look at me, trying to pass along the
message that I preferred not to venture out on a night when there would
be a full moon.
He ignored my words and crossed the room to bow over
Mother’s extended hand and brush his lips across her knuckles. My lover
glanced at me from the corner of his eyes and smiled. “I’d like nothing
better, Lady G,” he purred. “I felt I hardly got to know Mr. Talbot at
His tone of voice disturbed Mother, and I could see she was
suddenly regretting forcing the invitation on us. I was tempted to say, ‘I
told you so.’
“Very well, Mother.” There was no way I would let Roddy
go there without me. “What time will we need to be ready?”
“Country hours, Thomas.”
I rose to go to my room; I would have just enough time to
change into suitable attire. “I’ll have to insist we leave immediately after
dinner. We won’t be able to remain for the tea tray, I’m afraid. Don’t
gainsay me on this, Mother.” This was the first time I had ever used my army
voice in her presence, and to my surprise, she capitulated. I’d have to keep
that in mind.
And I wondered if it would work on my lover.
When we arrived at Talbot Abbey, it was to find that
Lawrence would not be joining us for dinner. “The boy isn’t feeling too
well,” his father informed us.
I wonder if Lawrence really was ill, or if he had already
locked himself in the priest’s cell in the cellar. The original door was six
inches thick, with a small, grated window. Had he replaced it with one as
sturdy? I could only hope so. If it wasn’t strong enough to contain the wolf,
I feared for the events of the night.
Both Roddy and I were armed with weapons that were charged
with silver bullets.
Two other guests would be dining with us and were already
there: Gwen Conliffe, who, to my surprise, flashed the Talbot betrothal ring
upon her finger, and Colonel Paul Montford, the constable.
I remembered Montford from my boyhood. He was always trying
to join Lawrence and myself in our games, but we never welcomed him: the two of
us were all we needed.
The numbers were not even, but I rather had the feeling
that this was the least of Sir John’s concerns. He apologized distractedly for
having dinner in the small dining room, then led Mother in. I offered Miss
Conliffe my arm, and Roddy was right behind us, followed by the constable.
Dinner was a strange affair, and the conversation was
desultory at best.
Colonel Montford sat across from my friend’s fiancée and
seemed charmed by her. She listened with parted lips to the tales of his
adventures during the Great War. Good God, who would want to talk about those
Next to the Colonel was seated my lover. Roddy was eating
slowly, languidly, temptingly. He would slice his meat with neat strokes, spear
it, and—slowly-- raise his fork to his mouth, never taking his eyes from mine.
His lips would part and he’d slide the morsel—slowly-- past them, then
remove the naked tines and chew-- slowly. Then he would reach for his wine
glass, take a sip, and his tongue would just---barely---peek out and
–slowly--touch his lips.
It was fortunate I did not poke myself in my sole remaining
eye with the fork, because I couldn’t tear my gaze from him. The tablecloth
discreetly covered my lap, but I wondered frantically if my arousal would
subside in time for our departure.
I started as I felt his toe slipping under my trouser leg.
He sat there looking so innocent while he tormented the life out of me. I glared
at him. His fork paused in mid-air. “Roddy!” I growled, and jerked my leg
back. He cocked a questioning eyebrow at me.
Before I could hurl my bread at him, Miss Conliffe squeaked
and blushed bright red. “I’m, er…I’m so sorry, Mr. Fortescue-Smythe.
My…er…my shoe slipped off and I was simply trying to get it back on!”
Under her lashes she was watching the Colonel.
My lover raised his napkin to his lips to conceal his grin,
but his blue eyes laughed at me.
I was about to accept her apology when someone tall,
gangly, and sheet-white stumbled into the room. His jacket hung in tatters from
his shoulders, and his shirt was torn. Sir John frowned, but before he could
castigate the unfortunate man, Montford leaped to his feet.
“Twiddle! What’s the meaning of this?”
“I was a-watching him, sir, I swear it! I sat outside
that blasted little room, beg pardon, M’lady!” His eyes were frantic and
couldn’t seem to settle anywhere. “These sounds, like growls they was,
started coming out of there! The next thing I knows…” He swallowed and his
expression became haunted. “This whacking great wolf knocked the bleeding door
down, beg pardon, I’m sure, M’lady, and jumped on me! I thought I was a
goner for certain, Colonel, but something must have startled it and it run
“A wolf? Twiddle, you’re out of what little mind
“No, sir! I swear. If it wasn’t a wolf, it was the
hugest dog I ever did see!” Twiddle faced Sir John. “I’m that sorry, sir.
That beast was in the little room with your son! There’s no way Mr. Lawrence
could have survived!”
Lawrence’s father moaned and collapsed onto his seat.
Mother dipped her napkin into her water glass and ran to his side, patting his
lips and cheeks with the dampened cloth. “It will be all right, Sir John, I
promise you! Thomas?”
Roddy and I both had our pistols out. I had never seen my
lover’s face look so hard. “We’ll handle it, Mother.”
“See here, now!” Montford exclaimed. “I’m in charge
“Splendid, Colonel. You can guard the ladies then!” We
were almost out of the dining room.
“Just one moment, Fortescue-Smythe! Twiddle, guard the ladies and Sir John!” The constable patted his pockets, but came up without a weapon. He snatched up the silver-headed walking stick, which had been propped by the door, and followed hard on our heels.
Note: Poor, Wand’ring One is from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.
Minor character death. I have no clue how that happened!
Shani means wonderful in African; Amala means hope in
I braced my hands against a glass wall of the observatory
and stared out at the night. The midnight sky was spangled with stars, but I
didn’t really see it. In a matter of minutes the moon would rise, and I was
cutting it rather fine. I hadn’t promised Thomas I would lock myself in one of
the priests’ cells, but I intended to. Father insisted on a dinner party, and
if I wasn’t safely behind a solid door there very well might be hell to pay.
“Sir? Will you come away now?” The young gypsy boy, who
also bore a pentagram in his palm, had been sent by Maleva, his grandmother, to
make sure I didn’t do anything foolish. She had spoken with Thomas and his
lover, and knew that seeing them together might well drive me to the brink.
“Yes, Dimitri. You’ll see to everything?” After Dr.
Cliffe had left, declaring all he could see wrong with me, aside from the burn
across my face, was a case of nerves, I’d sat down and written a number of
letters. If I didn’t survive this night, the boy would see they were delivered
to my father and Thomas, who would have to deal with the aftermath.
“Of course, sir.” He stepped aside as I passed him, but
touched my arm. “Pardon, sir, but…must you do this?”
I tried to offer a smile, but it was a poor effort at best.
“The wise woman has said there may be a chance for me! I can only hope she is
right. This is the last night of the full moon for this month. If I can make it
through to the sunrise…”
We both knew that the wolf would emerge and take control. I
had to prevent him from harming any more people. I turned away and hurried down
the winding staircase, and then down the stairs that led to the cellar.
My clothes were starting to feel constrictive, and I was
tearing at them as I rushed into the cell. There were manacles set deep into the
wall, and Dimitri snapped them shut around my wrists. He spared one last glance
at me, then closed the door. The key turned smoothly in the lock, and I
shuddered at its seeming finality. I looked out the grated window in the door,
watching as the young gypsy hung the key out of reach.
“I go to check on the lady, sir. If all is well, I will
be back at dawn.” He vanished up the stairs, and sweating and pacing the
length of the chain, I was alone. But not for long.
the priests’ cells, Colonel Montford,” Andrews the elder was saying as he
descended into the dark cellar. “I’ll see to a chair for Mr. Twiddle,
although I’m sure I don’t know why you would want him down here.”
“Sir John has given me permission, and that’s all you
need know, my good man! This is strictly constabulary business! Twiddle, keep
your eyes peeled. I have a feeling about this place, and it is not good, I
assure you! Now, I’m going up to dine with Sir John and that lovely gel who is
wasting herself on Talbot!” His footsteps faded.
Andrews, the elder, grumbled as he dragged a chair across
the floor. “If there is anything else, Mr. Twiddle?”
“Nothing, thank you, Mr. Andrews. I’m on dooty, I
The butler sniffed and began to climb the stair. “Don’t
know what he hopes to find down here, I’m sure I don’t!” he muttered
crossly under his breath. “Keeping watch, indeed!”
I had no difficulty hearing him; the wolf was beginning to
surface. My skin felt hypersensitive, and I just managed to pull my trousers
off. I ripped at my shirt, tearing the buttons, which pattered against the wall
and floor of the small cell. The material dangled from my wrists.
“Here! What’s that?” Twiddle peered in through the
window. His eyes widened as he observed my naked body. “Oh, I say!”
My hearing was becoming so acute that I could hear the
blood rushing through his veins. My nose twitched, the scent of his sexual
excitement giving rise to mine. I voiced a low growl.
“All chained up, are we, Mr. Talbot? Rather helpless, I
should think!” He moved away from the door, and I heard the sound of metal
against the stone wall of the cellar as he retrieved the key to my cell. “You
all think I haven’t got the sense God gave a gnat, but I ain't the one what’s
all chained up!”
The sound of the key in the lock was almost painful to my
ears. I held my breath, waiting to see what he would do. My body sank to the
floor as the change started to take place. The moon must be on the rise. My
hunger for my lover became ravenous. I tested the hold of the chains on my
wrists and felt the give.
“I’ve seen you, strutting through town, shaking that
fine arse of yours. Colonel Montford says you’re a poof, and you’ve probably
lost your mind, but I don’t care! I’m going to have me a piece of your arse!
And if you ever tell anyone, I’ll just say you’re mad! Everyone knows madmen
ain’t to be believed!”
I clenched my fists and gave a powerful jerk. The chains
fell from… brawny forelegs that were covered in dense black fur. At that
moment, the door opened, and the man stood there, stupidly placing himself
between me and my desire. With a throaty roar, I bounded forward, knocking him
down. I was hungry, and saliva dripped from my jaws. My claws shredded his
clothing, and I dipped my head to rip out his soft belly.
I raised my eyes, although my head was still low, and my
jaws parted to growl a warning, revealing sharp, white teeth. Beneath me the man
whimpered and tried to scurry out from under me. I placed a large paw on his
chest, casually keeping him in place.
“Please, brother, you must not do this! They will hunt
you down!” It was the gypsy boy. Hesitantly he approached me, his hand
extended palm upwards. I stretched my muzzle toward him and sniffed. There was
something familiar and …comforting about his scent. He touched my head.
“Come! We must leave this place now!”
I looked down at the man one last time and licked my lips.
I was torn. I knew the little brother was right, but I was very hungry.
The boy touched my head. “Please, brother. The babe is
coming, and Jennie Williams is in need of aid!”
My cub was about to be born? I seized the boy’s wrist in
my jaws and dragged him toward the stairs. When he saw where I was heading he
ran along beside me.
Behind us, the man staggered to his feet and began to cry
out weakly for help. I could have gone back and snapped his neck like a twig to
silence him, but I had more important things to do.
The boy and I slipped out of the house without being seen.
He could not keep up with me. “Go, my brother,” he panted urgently. “I
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when I was gone.
A gypsy caravan was parked behind Jennie’s shop. I
scratched at the door and whined, but there was no one to open it for me. I sat
back on my haunches, raised my muzzle to the moon and howled, a mournful
The window was thrown open, and Maleva’s head and upper
torso appeared. “Hush, my son! I dare not leave the lady. You must make your
own way in!”
I remembered how Bela had bounded in through her bedroom
window the night we three had made love, and my cub had been conceived. Where he
had gone, so would I! There was a shed attached to the back of the house. I got
a running start and launched myself at it, my claws scrabbling to keep my
balance. Then I clambered over a trellis to the shale tiles on the roof.
A final long leap, and I was through the window.
Jennie cried out when she saw me, and tried to scramble
away, but moaned in pain as another contraction hit her. I could see the silver
tracks of tears as they slid down her cheeks. Her lips were pale except where
they had been bitten through to contain her screams, and I was ashamed.
It was my fault that she was in such dire straits. It was
my fault Thomas no longer felt even friendship for me. It was my fault…
It seemed I brought pain to everyone I cared about. I
loathed what I had become.
Maleva didn’t have to tell me to keep out of the way. I
lay down on the hooked rug beneath the window and watched with distressed eyes
as the wise woman whispered and cajoled and demanded that Jennie follow her
Too much blood! There was too much blood!
And then there were raised voices from the shop below.
“No, you must not go up there!” It was the gypsy boy. “You must not…”
A sharp cry interrupted his plea, and a thud as he was knocked aside.
With a growl I was on my feet and through the door. At the
top of the stair was the constable. At the bottom was Thomas, holding the boy.
“Damn you, Montford! There was no need…” His eye widened as he saw me.
A fleeting thought crossed my mind. He would make a very
I hurled myself at the man who was staring at me with
horror writ large upon his face. He raised the silver-headed walking stick, the
stick that had brought about my lover’s death, the stick that would no doubt
be the death of me.
I no longer cared. The wolf’s head struck my skull, and
pain like wild fire flashed through me. My impetus sent me crashing into
Montford’s chest, knocking him down the stairs. I tumbled after him. By the
time I reached the bottom I knew I was seriously damaged. I yelped and lost
My lover burst through the kitchen. I looked up from where
I was crouched at the bottom of the stairs, the boy in my arms, trying to
ascertain how badly Montford had injured him. Roddy’s hands were all over me,
making sure I wasn’t hurt. Once he was sure I was safe, he turned toward the
Montford’s neck was bent at an unnatural angle. Lying
across him, his chest barely moving, was the midnight black wolf. Roddy’s
pistol was out and cocked.
“No, love! Please!” I begged him. “The wolf’s back
is broken! He won’t be able to do anything!”
His mouth grim, Roddy eased the hammer down, but kept an
alert eye on the beast. I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been
holding since I’d seen Lawrence’s eyes looking into mine from the face of
Roddy knelt beside me, and I leaned into his embrace.
Above stairs there was the sudden wail of a newborn, and
Maleva called out to us.
“I’m all right, sir,” the gypsy boy whispered. “Go
to her. I must fetch Sascha!” He staggered to his feet, then ran out the door,
pausing only to give Montford’s body a kick. “Gadje!” he spat.
We hurried up to Jennie’s room. The smell of blood and
imminent death was strong. “Oh my God, Grandmother! Has Lawrence killed
“No.” She gestured for us to join her at the head of
the bed. Jennie Williams was holding a tiny bundle to her breast, the expression
on her face reflecting joy and resignation. “Lady, the young sir is here, with
the one who stands with him.”
“Thomas. I remember you.” Jennie gazed up at me,
exhaustion clouding her eyes. “He is the one, Grandmother?” At the wise
woman’s nod, she tried to smile, but it was a wobbly one at best. She held the
baby out to me. “I give my child… to you, Thomas Smythe. Tell her… of me,
please. Don’t let her… think I left her because I… didn’t…love her.”
Her breath became panting gasps. “Love her… as… I …would have.”
I took the baby from Jennie. Her fingers lingered for a
moment on her child, and then slid lifeless to the bed.
Maleva kneaded her back before bending over Jennie once
more, stroking her pale hair back from her face, wiping away the tears.
“Something inside her was torn, young sir. I could not save her. All along, I
knew I could not save her. On this turn of the wheel of life, the lady was not
meant to survive. I saw this in her palm when she was a girl. She ran from Upper
Uncton to escape her destiny, and yet she returned here to fulfill it.” She
sighed. “Come. There is much to do before this night is over!”
The boy, Dimitri, brought Sascha to Jennie Williams’
house. He knelt beside the limp body of the wolf, briefly stroking the soft fur,
then backed away so the big gypsy could carefully lift the wolf. The beast’s
back had healed under the magic of the moonlight, and Sascha carried him out to
the wise woman’s caravan.
Maleva fretted that he had not regained consciousness.
“That blow to his head, that worries me,” she confided.
“Where will you take Lawrence, Grandmother?”
“He cannot remain in Kent, young sir. Having been struck
by silver while he was in the form of the wolf, the question remains:
if…*when* he regains his senses, who will emerge, the animal or the man?”
She scrubbed her face wearily. “We will take him with us to the old country
and oversee his recovery. Once I can determine how things are with him, then
there will be time enough to consider if he should return home. Meanwhile, we
must decide what is to be done with this one.”
‘This one’ was Colonel Montford, the constable. Before
I left Jennie Williams’ house, I placed a trunk call to London and spoke with
my former superior, who was more than willing to be persuaded to come to our
“It’s been taken care of, Grandmother. We’ll move his
body into the forest, where it will be found sometime late tomorrow. He will
have given his life in the attempt to capture the madman who has been stalking
the countryside. I’m sure there’s a spare body lying around that we can use
as the villain.”
Roddy stared at me open-mouthed. “If this is what you
were up to while we were in Africa, I’m bloody well glad I had no idea!”
I raised my eyebrows and returned his gaze innocently.
“There is this little one to be looked after, also.” A
gypsy woman who had recently given birth put the baby to her breast. My lover
watched in fascination as rosebud lips latched on to a dusky nipple and suckled
“She will need a name,” the woman murmured as she
nuzzled the fair, downy hair. Our child finished nursing and gave a tiny burp.
She handed the baby to me and did up her blouse.
“Shani,” Roddy answered immediately.
“Amala,” I said at the same time.
“Shani Amala,” the wise woman joined the names,
pleased. “You have named her well, my sirs.”
Roddy stood beside me. I could feel the comforting warmth
of his body along mine as I cradled the baby in my arms. I rocked her gently,
and her eyelids drooped.
With a tentative gesture, Roddy touched her palm, and her tiny fingers latched onto his. “Tommy?” My lover licked his lips in nervous reaction and extended his arms. Mutely I handed him the little girl, who opened her eyes and looked at him with the vague blue gaze of newborns. “She’s very like you in coloring, sweetheart.” She smiled at him, and his breath hitched in his throat. Roddy tucked the blanket more firmly around her and began to sing softly.
“Poor, wand’ring one, if such poor love as mine,
“Can help thee find true peace of mind,
“Why, take it, it is thine!”
His voice cracked, and his arms tightened around her.
“We’re keeping her, Maleva.” He spoke to the gypsy, but he was looking at
me. I closed my eye and nodded, taking them both in my arms.
“Can you read her future in her palm, Grandmother?” I
asked when I finally had my emotions under control once more. “Will her
father’s legacy be passed on to her?”
“No, young sir. She carries the bloodline, but whether
curse or blessing, it will pass her by. Her child, though…” She
grimaced. “Oh, that boy will have a very interesting future!”
Roddy groaned. “You’re already making us grandfathers,
and our daughter hasn’t even seen her first sunrise!”
Maleva patted his cheek. “Take her home, sir. And may God
bless and keep thee, young sir.” She kissed me.
By dawn, the gypsies were gone.
The surface of the screeing pool was ruffled and turbulent,
but the closer I approached, the calmer it became.
I braced my hands against the broad lip and leaned forward.
The white froth gradually subsided, and I stared into the pale blue depths.
As clearly as if I was in the midst of the scenes that were
taking place in the world below, I could see and hear everything that was going
The man who was dressed in a plain beige overcoat pounded
on the front door of Fortescue Manor. He was shown in and made to wait in the
hall while the butler went to fetch Lady Eugenia.
The lady, who was still quite lovely despite her advancing
years, descended the stairs from the nursery, examining the card the servant had
handed to her.
“Doctor Livingston, I presume? How may I help you?”
The tall man looked disgruntled. “I wished to speak with
“I’m sorry, my son is away on business just now. He’s
delivering a stallion to an old friend in another part of Kent, and I’m not
quite sure when he’s scheduled to return. Is there a message I might pass on
His mouth tightened in anger. “Not unless you’re
willing to punch your son on the nose for me.”
To his surprise, she burst into laughter. “Oh, I do beg
your pardon. Thomas does have that effect on people, although not as frequently
since Roddy Sayer came into his life.”
“Sayer?” Hyde Livingston’s eyes narrowed at the
mention of that name. “He’s the one who took Thomas away from Law? Is he
here? I wouldn’t mind punching him instead!”
Lady Eugenia cocked her head to one side and observed the
Canadian thoughtfully. “Perhaps we had better discuss this over a cup of tea,
my dear doctor. If you’ll join me?”
Hyde had no intention of spilling his life’s secrets to
the petite lady who handed him his tea and offered him a plate of sandwiches,
but somehow he found himself pouring out the story of how he had met Lawrence
Talbot, how they had become close… friends, and of their last fateful parting.
“He promised we’d stay in touch,” he said softly.
“He promised, and for a couple of years he did. But then his letters
got fewer and fewer. Finally I offered to sell my practice and join him here.
That was when he stopped writing altogether. So I tried one last time. I told
him I was tired of waiting, that I wasn’t going to wait any longer.”
“Thinking that would jolt him, and he’d realize he was
in danger of losing you?”
“Yes. It was a foolish attempt. For all I know, he never
even got that letter. I never heard from him.”
“Did he know how much you loved him?”
He looked up from the dregs in his teacup, and wearily
shook his head. “We never spoke of love. He’d told me right at the start
that he loved someone else. ‘You can have my body, Hyde,’ he said, ‘but my
heart belongs to another!’”
“Oh, my word! If that doesn’t sound just like Lawrence!
He did tend to dramatize things, even as a boy.”
“Did he? How did Sayer feel about having a rival for your
Lady Eugenia leaned forward and gently squeezed his knee.
“There was no rival, Doctor Livingston. Whatever my son might have felt for
Lawrence Talbot was long in the past. He’s committed himself to Roddy Sayer,
and will have no other.”
A female servant entered the room, carrying a small bundle
that was complaining vociferously. “Beg pardon, M’lady, but her highness has
awakened and is not pleased.”
“Let me have her, Tess.” Lady Eugenia took the infant
and rocked her gently. “My granddaughter, Doctor Livingston,” she said
Livingston had no desire to see the baby; in spite of his
calling, he was uncomfortable around children. But the lady tipped the quieting
babe toward him, and he admired her reluctantly. For such a young infant her
head was covered with a surprisingly thick cap of white blonde curls. She raised
her eyelids and stared into his face, and he was stunned.
Lady Eugenia noticed, of course. “It’s the expression,
I know. Her coloring is all her mother, but that expression is her biological
“She’s Lawrence’s daughter!”
“Yes. Lawrence left a letter stating that if anything
should happen to her mother or to him, if for any reason he should not be
available to see to her upbringing, Shani was to be raised by Thomas.”
“Then something has happened to Lawrence? I
stopped at Talbot Abbey, but was told Sir John was incapacitated and unable to
Distress filled her blue eyes. “The events of the other
night brought on a seizure, and it is not likely he will survive much longer.
And all Thomas would say is that the gypsies are taking Lawrence to the
Continent. He would tell me nothing more. It seems our constable, Colonel
Montford, was killed the night this precious little lady was born, and his
assistant, a rather silly man by the name of Twiddle, has taken Lawrence in
intense dislike. Twiddle is insisting that Lawrence was responsible for
Montford’s death, as well as a number of other murders that were done in the
“Law is gone?” Hyde sat down heavily, his elbows
propped on his knees, his face buried in his hands. “I really have done a very
stupid thing! I put my practice up for sale. That’s what took me so long to
get here. I had patients I couldn’t just up and leave. When I finally found a
decent doctor to take my place, I sailed for England.”
“Only to find you’re too late?”
He looked up, desolation written across his face.
“You know, Doctor Livingston, gypsy caravans are
notoriously slow-moving.” Lady Eugenia contemplated her granddaughter’s
perfect little fingers. “My daughter-in-law’s MG is in the coach house.”
He wondered at the seeming non sequitur. “I’m sure my chauffeur will have no
trouble in catching you up with them.”
Hyde sprang to his feet. “M’lady, I can’t thank you
She smiled. “I’m in an extremely expansive mood,
Doctor. I want everyone to be as happy as I am right now.”
I searched another part of the screeing pool, and found
where the gypsies were camped.
The shapeshifter had finally returned to his human form,
and had recovered from his injury, to a degree. His dark eyes watched cautiously
as the boy tended him.
Dimitri held a spoon to his mouth and waited patiently until the man opened his lips and accepted the broth. The boy sighed in relief. “You will see, brother. You will grow strong and well, and everything will be as it should be.”
“You are my brother?” The man did not remember having
any siblings. But then, he did not remember much of anything.
The boy waited until he took another spoon of nourishment.
“We are of the same line. See?” He took the shapeshifter’s hand and turned
it palm up, holding his own beside it. Quite clearly they could both see the
pentagrams that covered each palm. “Bela was also, but he abused his power,
and was destroyed by the lady.”
The boy shot him a worried glance. “Grandmother told me I
was not to overtire you. She will tell you all you need to know when the time is
‘When the time is ripe’. Why did that have a familiar
sound? He asked the boy.
“You must ask Maleva, brother. I cannot tell.”
“Can you, perhaps, tell me your name?”
The boy looked heartbroken. “You do not remember that I
“Dimitri, I do not remember who I am!”
The boy turned pale. This was the first he had heard of
this. “I must fetch the wise woman!”
The shapeshifter watched with interested eyes as the boy
ran out of the caravan. He had left the bowl of soup behind, and the man was
still hungry. Carefully he began to feed himself.
He didn’t know what his past was, but he knew what the
future held for him, and for Dimitri. The boy was young now, but in a handful of
years he would reach the maturity necessary to be turned.
Lawrence, his name burst into his brain in a flash of
illumination. His name was Lawrence. He was suddenly also aware that somewhere
in his past he had loved someone deeply. The identity of that person was
shrouded by the mists of amnesia, and for a brief span of time, he mourned the
loss of that memory.
His head jerked up. In the doorway of the caravan was a
tall, good-looking man. He offered him a tentative smile. “You are addressing
me? Do I know you, sir?”
“I’m Hyde! Hyde Livingston! Good God, don’t tell me
you don’t recognize me, Law! It hasn’t been that long! We lived
together for years in Canada!”
He had lived in Canada?
Hyde’s face crumpled, and he turned to the wise woman who
was just behind him. “He doesn’t know me!”
Maleva patted his shoulder as she brushed past him into the
caravan. “He knows no one, good sir. Perhaps, if you stay with him for a
little while, things will start to come back to him.”
“Where are you taking him?” Hyde asked.
“We return to the old country. It is early days yet, but
a monster will soon rise up, and many of my people will die. Many others will
die as well.”
“Wouldn’t it be safer to remain here in England?”
“Safer, yes, but that is not our destiny. We return to
Walachia. In the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains we will dwell, biding our
time. I have read it in the cards.” She laughed softly at his expression.
“No, you do not believe in that, do you, good sir?”
“It doesn’t matter whether I believe that or not. May I
come with you?”
“Good sir, this is a hard life...”
“I’m a doctor, Grandmother,” he interrupted, unaware
of how he had just addressed the wise woman. “I can help save some of the
lives that might otherwise be lost. I have nothing to keep me here, nothing
waiting for me back in Canada. I’ve given up everything to be with Law. Please
don’t send me away.”
She studied him carefully, then took his hand. Maleva ran
her fingertips over the sensitive flesh of his palm, and he shivered at the
touch. Finally she nodded. “Very well, good sir. You will come with us. We
will see that you have a caravan of your own, but for now you will use this one.
Law, as you call him, will be here with you.”
The shapeshifter was pleased. He liked the looks of this
man, could tell that for a gadje he was a good person. An image of the two of
them writhing on cool sheets that quickly heated came to him, and he couldn’t
tell if it was a memory sifting up from the deep layers of his unconscious, or
if it was something that would happen in the future.
Hyde took Maleva’s hand and kissed the rough skin across
her knuckles. “Thank you, Grandmother.”
I watched with interest. The boy Dimitri would take some
convincing, but he would come to care a great deal for the man who had been, and
would be again, the shapeshifter’s lover. I resisted the temptation to look
ahead to the time of his turning. That would prove to be a deeply sensual
experience for him.
As deeply sensual as my own possession by the jackal-headed
I sensed the presence coming up behind me, and my smile
broadened. I leaned further over the screeing pool.
Clawed hands raised my linen kilt and traced the curves of
my buttocks. Slick, blunt fingers explored the crevice, searching for my
puckered opening. I spread my legs, went up on my toes and raised my hips,
moaning a little as I was penetrated.
“Are you pleased with the way things are evolving in the
lower plain, Ankhsunamen?”
“Yes, My Lord,” I sighed, as he worked another digit
“Did I not promise you all would be well?”
“Yes, My Lord,” I murmured again, and bowed my back as
the blunt head of the god’s cock replaced his fingers. He slid all the way
into me, and the soft thick fur that covered him from head to toe caressed my
buttocks. For just a second his cock in my rectum was our only connection, and
then he raised my torso, holding me to him, until I stood straight, and I felt
him along the length of my back and framing my legs. His fingers squeezed and
plucked my nipples, turning them into pinpoints of sharp sensation. I whimpered
as his massive phallus rubbed up against that spot inside me, and my prick began
to weep clear tears of excitement.
Anubis gently pushed me forward until I was leaning over
the pool once again, and began a steady, relentless rhythm to plunder my depths.
“Please, My Lord! Please!”
His long body lay forward over mine, pressing me further
down. Jackal-jaws parted, and his long tongue swept out to lick the side of my
neck. I moaned and shivered as each stroke of his tongue, each thrust of his
cock, brought me closer and closer to fulfillment. A tapered claw caressed the
skin under my chin, then tipped my face up toward him. His mouth closed over
mine, and his tongue teased my lips into parting to allow him admittance.
The god’s tongue slid into my mouth, and I sucked on it
frantically, as he surged into me one last time, flooding my bowels with his
essence. The soft pads of his palm enclosed my cock, and he pleasured my flesh
I sagged in his embrace, but he held me close to him. “My
own sweet prince,” he murmured softly. I rubbed my cheek against the fur of
his chest, the whisper of my breath ruffling it. My dark lord shuddered, and a
final spurt of come filled me.
He softened and eventually slipped out of my passage. I
uttered a soft whine of protest. The moist warmth of his tongue over my neck
soothed me, and together we gazed into the screeing pool, this time to watch as
my other self and his lover spread a large blanket over the grass at the base of
an ancient oak tree.
“It was nice of Lady Genie to keep Shani for us while we
had this picnic.” Roddy hobbled the horses they had taken out.
Tommy lifted down the saddlebags that had been packed with
their lunch. “’Nice’ had nothing to do with it, love! I think she cares
more about that baby than she does about me!”
“Oh? Do I detect a pout there?” Roddy set the horses to
graze, then helped his lover lay out the blanket and settled himself down on it.
The single tourmaline eye grew hot, and his cheeks flushed.
“What will you do if I am pouting?”
Roddy rolled over onto his back and stacked his hands under
his head. He stared up at the sky through the lattice of leaves. “I’ve got
quite a variety of choices, haven’t I, sweetheart? Let’s see now.” He
closed his eyes and smiled as the warmth of the sun caressed his face. “I
could tell you pouting is unbecoming an officer in His Majesty’s army and make
you stand in a corner. Or I could abscond with our trusty steeds and make you
His lover humphed. “That’s no punishment!”
“Ah. I hadn’t realized you were looking to be
punished.” Tommy groaned. “In that case, I could make you walk the floor
with our daughter, the next time she has an attack of colic. Or I could spank
your bare bum. You’d like something like that, wouldn’t you, Tommy?
Tommy held his breath, already so unbearably hard by the
thought of his lover stripping down his jodhpurs and warming his arse that he
was afraid he might come if he moved injudiciously and his trousers rubbed over
his throbbing cock. He licked his lips. “But…?” he queried softly.
“But it seems to me I remember the way you were looking
at that black phallus. It excited you, Tommy. Were you remembering when you put
the Pearls of Anubis in me, and how I reacted when you took them out, one pearl
at a time?” Roddy’s eyes burned with passion. “My orgasm was so intense I
passed out from it! I think you’ve wondered what it would feel like to have a
cock in your arse while you were fucking me!” With a lithe movement, Roddy was
up and on his knees, reaching into a bag his lover hadn’t noticed. “How
would you like this in your arse, Tommy?” He withdrew a marvelously
constructed dildo with a bulbous head and ridged shaft. This was nothing like
that other, with its dark aura. He
began to run his fingertips up and down its length.
Tommy was panting, soft gasps spilling from his lips, his
eye fastened on the movement of his lover’s fingers.
“Yes. I think you’re going to enjoy this very much,
Tommy! Off with the jodhpurs!”
While the other man scrambled out of his trousers, Roddy
placed the phallus down on the blanket and skinned out of his own clothes. Once
he was naked, he took a jar of ointment out of the bag and concentrated on
coating the dildo with a continuous, sensuous motion.
“Roddy?” Tommy’s voice was strained.
“Help yourself, sweetheart.” He pushed the jar toward
his lover. “I took care of myself before I left the house.” Roddy grinned at
his stunned look.
“How…um…how are we going to do this?”
Roddy lay on his side and moved his upper leg, exposing his
shadowy crevice. Tommy groaned and crawled to his lover on his hands and knees.
He flowed over the body beneath him, licking a path from Roddy’s spine up to
his jaw and finally settled on his mouth. His cock pressed insistently at the
younger man’s hole, then slid in with one steady stroke.
Forcing himself to hold still, Tommy shivered and
whispered, “All right, love, now what?” He was breathing heavily, and Roddy
reached between their legs and worked the phallus into his lover, who cried out
and thrust back to take it more fully into his body.
Roddy froze, terrified that he might have hurt the one he
loved above all else.
Tommy drove deep into him. “Bloody hell, Roddy, use that
thing! It’s driving me mad!”
“Oh, I like your way with words, Tommy Smythe!” He
gasped as his lover wrapped his hand around his cock and began pumping strongly.
Sweat rolled down from his temple. His eyes were closed, and a frown creased his
brow as he concentrated on the feelings building inside him.
His hand thrusting the phallus into his lover brushed
against Tommy’s balls, against his own balls, and Roddy moaned helplessly,
drawing his knees closer to his body. He began chanting his lover’s name like
a mantra. He was so well filled. Tingles began lazily in his toes, in his
fingers, spiraling in to the center of his body.
Roddy was enjoying the lovemaking, rocking onto his
lover’s hard flesh. From the sounds Tommy was making, he was enjoying the twin
assaults also, the hot, tight grip of Roddy’s inner muscles around his cock,
and the invasion by the phallus wielded by his lover in his own snug channel.
And then abruptly their orgasms slammed into them, and they shuddered and cried
out as they came.
I found my back passage filled with the god’s cock once
more, and I whimpered under the sudden taking.
“Your other self seems quite inventive, my prince.”
“He loves, My Lord.”
The jackal-headed god halted his voluptuous movements.
“And you, Ankhsunamen? Do you love, also?”
“Of course, My Lord. Did you doubt it?”
The god rubbed his furred cheek against mine and resumed
his thrusts. “I will never release you, Ankhsunamen. Do you understand that?
You will be mine until the end of time.”
“Yes! And what of them?” I gestured into the pool,
where we could see the two curled protectively around each other. “What will
happen with them, My Lord?”
“I promised your other self a life-time of happiness, and
beyond.” I could hear the smile in the jackal-headed god’s voice, and his
strokes deepened. “But as for their descendants… Well, that is another
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