I’ve got the final files now so it’s time for an excerpt from Iain Sinclair and James Hart’s story, which comes out in November. In this scene, a young James discovers something about Iain he hadn’t guessed before …
When he got to the end of the garden, his dancing slippers were soaked from the wet grass, but he didn’t care, just leaned on the fence and looked out over the little manmade lake his grandfather had created fifty years before, James’s favourite place on the whole estate.
He wasn’t sure how long he stood there, just looking out over the water, or when he became aware of the presence of others nearby. At first all he heard was a low chuckle of laughter, then the murmur of voices—two at least, or were there three? However many there were, the voices were male, the husky laughter they shared, low and intimate—and growing nearer. James didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone. He stepped back into the shadow of one of the willows that ringed the lake, hiding himself, and waited for the owners of those voices to materialise, searching his shadowy surroundings with his keen scientist’s gaze.
They emerged at last from a clump of trees twenty yards away, two figures, walking side by side. Their shirts blazed white in the darkness making James frown with puzzlement till they drew nearer and he realised they’d been swimming. The wet linen clung to their torsos, and both of them carried some bundled-up clothing under their arms.
It was Iain. Iain and, of all people, Mellick, one of the grooms. Laughing together—like equals.
James realised they were going to pass the willow he stood under. He stepped back, even further into the shadows, moving slowly and carefully so as to make no noise, obscuring himself behind the solid arching trunk of the old tree.
They didn’t notice him, just walked on, still murmuring to each other, chuckling softly now and then.
After a little while, James realised where they were going—they were making for the boathouse, growing more careful as they drew closer to the ramshackle building, both of them looking around several times before, one after the other, they entered, and the door closed behind them.
From his place in the shadows, James felt as though his breath had got stuck in his throat. Only when the two men were out of sight behind that closed door did he manage to gasp a breath. He knew what this was, or he thought he did, and now he was feeling too many things all at once. Curiosity and excitement, and anger too, that Iain had wanted this more than he wanted to be with James tonight.
But of course, this was different.
He’d suspected as soon as he’d caught that first glimpse of them emerging from the trees, heard the soft, intimate music of their voices. James might have no experience himself, but he’d heard about men who indulged in…unnatural desires. Men who did the very things that he spent hours in his bed at night trying to imagine while he stroked his aching prick.
He would never have thought that Iain would want this, though. Iain, who was so manly and vigorous. Iain, who was the most bruising horseman James knew, who could bowl anyone out at cricket. Iain, who could run faster, climb higher, swim more strongly than anyone.
Without consciously deciding to do it, James found himself walking slowly towards the boathouse, his steps carefully silent. He knew these paths like the back of his hand, had been walking them since he was a tiny boy collecting tadpoles in spring, and he made no sound as he approached the wooden structure that housed the rowing boats for the lake.
Silently, he drew closer to the single, small window. A faint glow from within told him they’d lit a candle, a reckless decision since, even standing a couple of paces back from the glass, James could make out the two men inside as they came together.
They put their arms around each other so that they stood chest to chest, and then their lips were meeting—
They were kissing each other.
James’s chest ached. He couldn’t even put a name to the feelings that rushed through him at the sight of Iain Sinclair in Mellick’s arms, kissing him with the same heated passion that James had seen between the upstairs maid and the second footman when he’d walked in on them in the stables last summer.
On the one hand, the realisation that Iain did this—this thing that James wanted to do so very badly—was like some great door of possibility opening wide.
On the other…he felt almost sick with the pain of witnessing Iain doing this with someone else.
And alongside those mingled feelings of excitement and pain, there was something else, something infinitely more physical. The crawling, insistent rise of his own arousal.
James watched, dry-mouthed, as Iain stepped back from Mellick and whipped his shirt over his head in a flash of white, revealing the broad line of his shoulders and the perfect planes of his smooth, pale back. When he stepped forwards again, he took Mellick’s face into his hands and drew him into another passionate kiss.
Oh, Jesus in heaven.
James pressed the heel of his hand over his stiffening cock, the satin of his evening breeches smooth against his skin. He shuddered and bit his lip. He was going to lose himself right here, watching this.
After another minute or so of kissing, Mellick drew his head back, flashed Iain a grin, and dropped fluidly to his knees, busying himself with unfastening Iain’s breeches while Iain rested one hand on Mellick’s shoulder in a gesture that struck James as unexpectedly tender. He’d heard men talk about sodomites, and they always made the act sound appalling. Violent and brutal. Someone being made to bend and take it. Pain and shame. Who could ever want that?
This was nothing like that.
Once Mellick had unbuttoned Iain’s placket, he glanced up again. He wasn’t grinning now, but there was still a half smile on his face and his eyelids were half-lowered, giving him a look of languid promise. Slowly, without moving his gaze from Iain’s face, he reached inside Iain’s breeches and drew out his cock.
For several of James’s frantic heartbeats, the groom simply admired Iain’s sizeable prick, his frank gaze warm, then he leaned forward, engulfing it in his mouth.
Iain’s head went back, eyes closing, lips parting in obvious pleasure.
James rubbed his hand over his breeches a few more times, but it wasn’t enough. With a rough exhalation that was part helpless gasp, part protest, he ripped the buttons of his own breeches open and drew out his hard shaft.
Mellick’s head was moving up and down. James couldn’t see precisely what he was doing, but it didn’t matter. He probably wouldn’t have looked if he could see. His eyes were all for Iain, for the strong arch of his throat and the abandoned, almost painfully intimate expression on his face. For the way he gripped Mellick’s shoulder with one hand and palmed the back of his head gently with the other, canting his hips forwards for more.
Oh God, Iain.
James’s hand was moving with a steady rhythm now. As he watched Iain respond to Mellick’s attentions, he felt oddly at one with him. Imagined that, somehow, Iain’s pleasure was mounting at the same pace as his own.
Strange, to feel so intimately connected to someone who didn’t even know he was there.
He saw the pleasure peak and crash through Iain’s body. Saw the way his hand tightened, knuckles whitening, on Mellick’s shoulder and his whole body seemed to go taut and still, other than his hips, which stuttered in Mellick’s firm grip. And then James’s own crisis was upon him. He bit his lip against the desire to cry out and, eyes still fixed on Iain Sinclair— now caressing Mellick’s hair with seeming affection—stroked himself to a wrenching completion, spilling his seed on the ground like an offering.