Posts Tagged Jack Starr

Arrival and Departures

23 June 2013
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If Nash had been the sort of man who paced, he’d have worn a hole in his Aubusson carpet that morning. Instead, he stood staring out his cabin’s lone porthole at the passing clouds. The stillness of his body belied the fury that raged within it.

“You know, brooding about your last flight as an Imperial Sky Commander won’t fix what’s wrong on the Lucky Penny,” Jack commented as he picked up his coffee cup.

Nash ground his teeth together in frustration. He sometimes wished he didn’t have the volatile emotions his Italian genetics had bestowed upon him. Normally, the cool logic of his English genes held his Italian side in check. However, the escalation of odd and coincidental events over the past year had gone from being suspicious and annoying to infuriating and dangerous.

When the events that had taken place on the Connaught arranged themselves to lead to the court martial of himself and every crew member who stood beside him, he’d been angry but because of Jack’s warning, he’d known to expect it. He’d known that he’d been set up. Since he already had the Lucky Penny, taking to the air in pursuit of answers as to why he and his crew had been set up had been a foregone conclusion. Apparently, whoever had arranged the events of that trip to the Russian Barrens had known he would do exactly that. At least one of the crew members who had been court martialed alongside him had done so in order to retain his place as one of Nash’s trusted crew. And he was a spy.

“Who the hell is behind all of this, Jack?” he growled, his voice low and angry. “You must have some idea.”

With a sigh, Jack set his coffee cup down. “I do, but I’m not at liberty to say as yet. Perhaps when we’re on the ground, at your father’s palazzo.”

Nash snorted. He doubted Jack would tell him anything. His lover was many things, but forthcoming was not usually among them. He knew, as Anthony may not have, that Jack’s plea to his former lover for help wasn’t quite on the up and up. Jack had some idea of who was behind Nash’s kidnapping, but he had no idea where Nash was or who exactly had snatched him. Anthony’s brilliant idea to have Shelley impersonate Nash had turned up invaluable information for Jack about who had been behind Nash’s brief incarceration. And if anyone knew who had been behind the court martial of the Connaught’s crew, it was Jack.

“I know that expression. You don’t believe me.” Jack smiled crookedly. “You’re wise not to, but I honestly will come clean very soon. The situation is rapidly becoming one I need assistance with and there is no one I trust more than you.”

Suppressing an eyeroll, Nash cocked up one brow. “Anthony?”

Jack heaved a sigh. “Yes, very well, I trust him too, just not nearly so much as I trust you. For God’s sake, I love you, Nash. I don’t love Anthony.”

“At least, not any longer.” Nash couldn’t keep the sarcasm from his voice.

“You’re in a mood, aren’t you?” Jack’s expression held a tinge of regret. “Look, me being completely honest with you about the events that have taken place recently won’t bring that poor dead boy back. He allowed himself to be seduced by whoever the spy is and he paid the price with his life. It’s not as if those sorts of things don’t take place every day on Bird Cage Walk. Young men seeking to liaise with another man risk much, including unfortunately, their lives. Even if I had told you everything I know we could not have prevented that boy from being seduced, used and murdered. I’ve no idea who your spy is.”

“I don’t like having my suspicions regarding a mole proven correct,” Nash grumbled.

“Of course you don’t.” Jack stood and crossed the room to stand behind Nash, rubbing his groin against Nash’s buttocks. He spoke softly into Nash’s ear. “Look, there are things we can do when we reach Venice. In fact, if we didn’t do them, it would seem suspicious.”

“What then?” Heat rose in Nash’s body but he refused to give in to his libido.

“When we arrive, dismiss anyone who was not part of your crew on the Connaught. I’ve no idea if any of them are also spies but I would hazard a guess that least one is working for our enemy,” he whispered. “Give them a nice salary and fare back to England. Let them know that due to the murder, it’s for their own safety.”

“Then what?” It took all of Nash’s concentration not to thrust his arse back into Jack’s hard body.

Jack nuzzled Nash’s ear. “We get on with the business of visiting your father. I’m sure he can add to what Shelley’s told us of the blade that killed your young crewman.”

“We don’t know that the blade killed him,” Nash pointed out. “Silsbury was correct. The body smelled of aether. That’s quite odd. We’ll have to have the body examined. I’m sure my father has someone who can perform an autopsy in secret.”

“Very good. We will let your father handle the authorities. I’m afraid all of the crew will be interviewed, but I’m sure none of them will have any information to impart to the Carabinieri. Our spy is very good.”

A soft, but firm tap on the door had them both spinning away from the port hole. “Enter,” Nash called out.

The door opened and Ivar flashed them a brief smile. “We’re approaching Venice, sir. We’ll be at your father’s dock within the next twenty minutes.”

Nash sighed and exchanged a glance with Jack. “Thanks, Ivar. My father will have someone awaiting our arrival. You’re to let him know what’s happened so he can report to my father immediately. We’ll all stay on board until the Carabinieri arrive. Please let the crew know that the authorities will wish to speak with them as we disembark. Also, please bring me a list of the crew who were not on the Connaught with us. We will be sending them home to England for their own safety.”

Surprise glittered in Ivar’s eyes for a moment and then he grinned. “Good idea, sir. I’ll bring that list to you right away.”

The door closed, leaving Nash and Jack alone.

“I’ll want to watch the departure of the crew that’s not staying,” Jack murmured. “It should be interesting.”

Nash snorted again. “It will be more interesting if you don’t see anything out of the ordinary.”

Jack walked over to the porthole and looked out. Nash’s gaze traveled the length of his lover’s body, wishing not for the first time that their trip was pleasure and not business.

“This is the first time I’ve ever dreaded my arrival in Venice.”

A chuckle escaped Jack. “I’ve no doubt you’ll get over your discomfiture soon enough.”

Nash fell back on the faith his father so relied on. He closed his eyes on a tiny, brief prayer to God and the saints. Whatever they faced in Venice, they wouldn’t face alone, but he still asked for a little divine intervention to keep them all safe, especially his danger addicted lover.

With their arrival in Venice imminent as well as the departure of half the crew, Nash felt certain that something would occur to flush more clues or even the mole out into the open. So much had happened that he knew the subversive nature of it all had to be on the verge of becoming exposed. Their enemy would either be revealed to them through the clues or would reveal himself. Either way, Nash knew he needed that prayer.

Smoke and Aether

26 April 2013
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Revelation – Part 2, by KC Burn

Emmett had been bashed on the noggin before and it hadn’t stunned him as much as Caleb’s revelation. After exchanging quizzical glances with Jack and Nash, he hustled Caleb back to his rooms and shut the door. He stared at the man he’d spent the night with… spent a wondrous, incomparable night with, but the sweet innocent in his sights did not conform to a man who committed burglary.  Even the abashed glances and fiery blush didn’t speak of a felonious man.

“Pardon me? Did you say that you had broken into my house?”

Caleb’s cheeks reddened further and he nodded.

“Were you… why would you… what…” Emmett blinked. He’d never been at such a loss for words. Last year he’d attended a mesmerist’s show and had seen several men act rather out of character, but he’d never heard of such a thing happening elsewhere.

“I’m really sorry.”

Emmett shook his head, still unable to process what Caleb had told him.  He paced the length of the room, taking deep gulping breaths.

“Emmett, please.”

He shrugged off Caleb’s hand and strode out into the sitting room. The stained carpet caught his eye, menacing and malignant.


Caleb had followed him out of the bedroom, a pleading expression on his face.

As suddenly as the previous night when he’d taken a swing at Nash, anger billowed up, hot and choking.  But that wasn’t anything next to the pain like his soul had been flayed open and doused in acid.

“Was this you? Was the break-in connected to this… this…” Emmett stabbed a finger at the ruined carpet, infused with the weapon meant to kill him.

No matter how early it was in the morning, he needed a drink. But now that Caleb had spent the night, could he trust anything in his rooms? How had he so monumentally misjudged a man who seemed more innocent and sweet than anyone he’d ever allowed this close.

Caleb paled and his eyes widened. “What?  Emmett, no. Please.” His fingers fluttered, as though he wanted to reach out and touch, but Emmett was glad he didn’t try.  Emmett wouldn’t have trusted himself not to flinch away.

With effort, he steadied his breathing and spoke, cold and low and even. “Then explain. Now.”

Wrapping his arms around himself,  as if seeking comfort, Caleb’s lip trembled and for a few moments the only sound in the room was the rhythmic cadence of their breathing.

“Please believe me. I had nothing to do with that.” Caleb waved his hand in the direction of the wine stain.

“So you said.”

Emmett couldn’t afford to crack. He’d interrogated spies in battle, fought against unimaginable odds, and he’d never once come so close to caving in to softer emotions. But Caleb brought out the best and worst in him and until he had an explanation, everyone on this ship could be at risk. He couldn’t let his growing feelings for Caleb blind him to the possibility of a traitor in their midst.

Caleb’s voice wasn’t steady, at all. “My uncle… he left enormous crushing debts when he died. Debts we didn’t know about and debts we were expected to repay.  My mother and brother look to me to support them, but I’m only a crafter of clockwork animals. It’s the only income I have. The only way out was marriage to an heiress. My brother knew how unbearable it would be for me to have to marry a woman, and offered to be the sacrificial lamb, but debts don’t attract heiresses. Being involved in a trade doesn’t attract heiresses. Forget the tailor, sometimes we didn’t have the funds for the fishmonger.”

Pausing, Caleb drew in a shaky breath, reaching out for a crystal tumbler and the decanter half-full of whisky. Emmett heart twisted, realizing how dire Caleb’s straits were.  Caleb had already poured out half a glass and raised it to his lips before the danger of what he was doing communicated itself to Emmett’s mind.

He leapt the feet separating them and knocked the tumbler out of Caleb’s fingers, amber liquid sloshing on the already ruined carpet.

“What the hell is the matter with you? Don’t you know that anything on this ship could be suspect?”

Caleb’s eyes widened and his whole body stiffened and shook. His already pale skin went almost transparent as the blood drained away. He stumbled back and fell on the settee, his mouth a white, compressed line.

In that second, Emmett realized his original instincts about Caleb weren’t wrong. He’d survived so much because of his sharply honed instincts and no matter what explanation Caleb had for his break-in, there was no way Caleb was a murderer. No way he could lie without his face giving everything away.

His conclusion was confirmed when he sat down and wrapped an arm around Caleb, who curled into his embrace and shook. When a couple of sobs made themselves heard, Emmett just held him tighter and waited. There was still some explanation required, but he was a hardy soul. Aside from Caleb trying to kill him or his friends, Emmett could handle anything.

A few minutes later, Caleb lifted his face from its hiding place in the crook of Emmett’s neck. His eyes were reddened and puffy but the tears were done for now.

“Thank you. I… I wasn’t thinking. You saved my life.” Caleb’s voice hitched and he swallowed heavily.

Emmett snorted. “Or I spilled some expensive whisky. I don’t imagine everything is poisoned, but something besides the bottle of wine last night might be.”

A quick glance at the carpet revealed nothing alarming, not like the acidic scorching of the poisoned wine.

“Still. Thank you.”

Emmett nodded but didn’t say anything else. He wasn’t quite ready to forgive and forget. Not when Caleb hadn’t finished his tale.

A flash of tempting pink tongue moistening Caleb’s lips almost distracted Emmett from the matter at hand.

“Anyway, when I met you that night at the ball, you reminded me so much of my uncle. Arrogant, entitled, and only interested in your own pleasure, no matter if it had unintended consequences for someone else.  And… and…” Embarrassment burnished Caleb’s cheeks yet again.

“And?” Emmett prompted after Caleb’s gaze started darting around the room.

“And I hated you.”

The words sliced through Emmett like a cutlass, but Caleb’s fingers stroked along his jawline, softening the blow.

“Don’t misunderstand. I wanted you. And I realized later it wasn’t you I hated, but the way you reminded me of my uncle.  Anyway, I thought that someone with so much maybe wouldn’t miss a little something, and I could appease the hate I felt.”

“Then my dogs scared you off.”

Caleb let out a watery chuckle. “Well, partly. But I’d broken into your workroom. I couldn’t steal from a fellow crafter.”

“That didn’t make you any warmer the next time I saw you.”

“I didn’t want to like you. But I was growing to.”

“I thought someone was after my invention.” Emmett frowned. He was certainly glad to know this had nothing to do with the eyes he’d felt following him periodically since his return. His Caleb didn’t have the ability or the cunning to hide as their foe had.

He took a deep breath. “So you don’t hate me any more?” He wasn’t sure he could bear the pain if that were still true.

“No, oh, no. I lo…. I mean… I like you very well.”

Emmett kissed him soundly. He was fairly certain he knew what Caleb had been going to say, but this wasn’t the time to press. If he was going to hear that from someone he felt as strongly for, it wasn’t going to be here, in the midst of all this chaos.

“I like you very well, too, my Cal. When we get back, we’ll see what we can do about those debts of yours.”

Caleb shook his head frantically. “No. That’s my problem to solve. I’m not with you for that.”

Emmett smiled. Somehow, Caleb hadn’t yet figured out how determined he could be, even after his single-minded pursuit of the man.

A yawn split Caleb’s face, and Emmett’s smile got wider. “Energetic night, wasn’t it?”

Caleb blushed again, but nodded. For some, it tired them right out, but bedroom athletics with a willing and active partner, as Caleb had been, energized Emmett.

“Why don’t you go back to bed? It’s quite early still.”

“What about you?” Caleb asked around another yawn.

“I’ll go for a walk on the deck. Perhaps have a smoke. Consider our next steps. Figure out how to explain this to Jack and Nash.” If only they hadn’t been present for Caleb’s confession. Perhaps they’d think he’d been hoodwinked by a clever bottom boy, but Emmett was more than willing to trust his own instincts over any one else’s.

“If you’re sure.”

Emmett dropped another kiss on his lips. “I’ll wake you later. Make sure you’re naked.”

Caleb shivered, this time in a good way, and he smiled at Emmett before trotting back to the bedroom.

In Flight by Lex Valentine

The motion of the airship during the night had kept Anthony from a deep sleep. He’d tempered his restlessness by keeping Shelley snugged close to his body. Having his lover close for an entire night was an extravagance Anthony rarely indulged in. In the past, back in the days when he took for granted the exchange of money for passion, it had seemed wrong to spend the entire night with Shelley. Lately, since he’d begun to question not only the money but his relationship with his lover, he’d also developed a deep seated yearning not to leave Shelley’s bed, not to leave Shelley.

Every time he’d stayed the entire night, Shelley seemed to relish it, wrapping his lithe frame around Anthony’s larger one as they slept. Despite the general soppiness of such behavior, Anthony actually enjoyed cuddling with Shelley. He’d always felt that the affection in such actions was something both he and Shelley had had little enough of in their lives. And who the hell could go their entire life without affection? Humans craved closeness with other humans. Anthony knew that to be a scientific fact. He also knew that deep inside, he craved being with Shelley. Not just for sex but for companionship.  Anthony honestly didn’t trust many people and after their recent razor play, he realized that he trusted Shelley more than any other person he knew.

With a soft snort, Shelley flung himself onto his back, arms and legs spread wide, a small smile curling his mouth as he slept. Anthony grinned. His lover’s abandoned pose spoke of Shelley’s own trust, a notion that sent heat and pleasure spiraling through Anthony.

Since Shelley now took up the lion’s share of the bed, Anthony decided to get up and use the water closet and perhaps grab a breath of pre-dawn air. He slipped from between the silk sheets and padded silently into the bathroom. It was small but luxuriously appointed. Fig had checked it out when they arrived and played with the water taps for a few moments, apparently astonished at the hot water that poured from the spout. Anthony had enjoyed watching the young man’s surprise at finding such luxuries aboard an airship.

Once he’d relieved his bladder, washed his hands and face and brushed his teeth, Anthony emerged from the bathroom and pulled on trousers, covering his chest with a rich brocade robe that Shelley had bestowed on him for his last birthday. Walking softly in his leather slippers, Anthony moved to the door, glancing over his shoulder at Shelley sprawled in hedonistic abandon in the center of the bed and Calfiglio curled into a plush blanket on the chaise in the corner. Even though there was another bedroom, Fig refused to sleep away from his master and Anthony couldn’t blame him. With a smile, he slipped from the room

The salon had been cleared of their dinner dishes and glasses, the carpet swept and the tables returned to their highly polished finish by a silent steward of Nash’s. Anthony turned the polished brass handle of the door and pulled it open, stepping into the quiet corridor. He glanced at the other three doors. Behind one slept Jacob Silsbury and his friend. Behind another lay Emmett Montgomery and behind the last door slept Jack and Nash.

Frowning, Anthony turned away from the interior of the ship and headed out to the rail to watch the sun rise. He didn’t want to think about what might be happening behind any of the other bedroom suite doors on the airship. It was none of his business anyway.

He leaned on the rail and watched thick clouds of fog drift past. A lot had happened recently giving him the sense that the world was changing more than in just his small corner of it. Yes, Jack had returned to his life, but not as his lover. Yes, he’d finally made a conquest of Spence, but it hadn’t really gone as expected. Taking the near virginal doctor hadn’t left him feeling triumphant. It had left him with a gut full of guilt and regrets. His jealousy over Emmett’s assignation with Shelley had shocked him to the core. If Emmett hadn’t been with Shelley, if Anthony hadn’t been eaten alive with jealousy over it, he admitted to himself that he probably wouldn’t have taken Spence up on his offer.

The personal upheaval in his life married to the facts of Nash’s kidnapping and a poisoned bottle of wine being delivered to Emmett, told Anthony quite clearly that something wasn’t right in his world. Being summoned to Venice by Italy’s Finance Minister for a masquerade, even though said minister was his lover’s father, seemed out of the ordinary as well. Everything that had gone on recently seemed extraordinary and as such, fraught with tension.

Anthony didn’t like feeling unsettled. He didn’t like the darkness that he sensed awaited them in Venice, the very city where he’d met Shelley. A trickle of apprehension slipped down his spine. What would this trip bring them? Danger? More questions? Or finally, some answers?

The scent of a cigar reached his nostrils just as the sound of a throat clearing pierced the early morning fog shrouding the airship. He turned to find Emmett leaning against the rail behind him.

“Good morning,” the earl said, his voice gravely from sleep.

Anthony nodded a greeting. “Good morning. Did you sleep well after the poisoned wine incident? Jack stopped in for a moment during dinner to tell us what happened. Have they found the culprit?”

“Eh, no and no.” Emmett smiled. “I didn’t sleep well because I was busy. And no, they’ve not found who poisoned the wine or the steward who delivered it. He must be on board though. Where would he go?”

“Where indeed.” Anthony eyed the other man cautiously. “You were busy last night?”

Emmett’s smile became that of a cat that had eaten the cream. “Yes. With Caleb.”

Anthony felt his eyes widen. “So the big game hunter has taken down his quarry?”

Now, Emmett’s smile disappeared, to be replaced with a fierce frown. “That’s no way to speak of the boy. He’s not prey.”

“No?” Anthony couldn’t help himself. He raised his brows as he gazed at the big game hunter. Baiting a man like Emmett wasn’t a good idea. Besides, Emmett was Nash’s friend and Shelley’s client. Anthony couldn’t say what had gotten into him, but clearly, the events of the past days had pushed him into walking a dangerous path that morning. And he just couldn’t find it in himself to curb his tongue and behave.

“C’mon, Emmett,” he murmured. “You know you originally thought of him as prey. I’ve seen you work the crowd at balls and at the club. I know how you operate.”

Fury lit Emmett’s eyes and Anthony didn’t blame the man one bit for his anger. In fact, he braced himself to feel the sting of it on his chin. Whether Emmett actually took a swing at him or not was entirely up to the earl. They stared at each other, tension stretching out between them uncomfortably as Anthony waited for the blow.

Smoke and Aether, by KC Burn & Lex Valentine

“Are you hoping if I blacken your eye, too, you’ll get some tender loving care from Shelley – for free?”  Emmett grinned at Anthony’s suddenly clenched fists, the cigar dropping to the deck. It was a low blow, to be sure, but well worth the turnabout.

This time, it wasn’t Emmett swinging first. He blocked Anthony’s blow and swung them around. He was in too good a mood and it was too damn early in the morning for a scuffle.

“Oh, calm down. We’ve got business to discuss. Jack and Nash are already awake and talking to the crew. We should probably join them.”

Tight-lipped, Anthony nodded.  “For the record,” he growled, “money has nothing do with my relationship with Shelley.”

Emmett shot him a cynical, disbelieving glance, and then looked down at the cigar rolling around on the deck. “Let’s have another smoke and stroll along the deck. We’ll start fresh.”

Like the calm before the storm, they strode along the deck, smoking and making small talk – steering clear of their lovers’ attributes, of course.

A pile of canvas – presumably for repairing the dirigible’s envelope – lay haphazardly in a corner.

“I’ll have to tell Nash he needs to keep his ship in better order.” Anthony kicked at a stray fold of fabric that extruded out into their path.

Emmett gasped and choked on a tendril of cigar smoke. “I’m not sure it’s Nash’s fault.”

He pointed at the hairy leg that had been revealed.

“Well, he’ll need to reprimand his crew for getting too foxed to find their quarters.”

Sniffing the air, Emmett realized more than cigar smoke scented the area. He was all too familiar with the smell of death.

“He’s not passed out. He’s dead.” He sent the stump of his cigar over the railing.

Anthony’s eyes rounded and he also flicked his cigar over the side.  “Help me with this canvas.”

The two of them folded back the canvas, revealing one of Nash’s crewmen. A dagger with a narrow handle had been plunged to the hilt in the man’s chest, a small patch of blood, dried to a dark ochre, framed the entry wound. Likely a stiletto of some sort, as they were designed not to attract attention as great gouts of blood were likely to do.

Then Emmett got a good look at the dead man’s face. “Good heavens. That’s the man who brought me the poisoned wine!”

He glanced at Anthony. There wasn’t only one traitor aboard – there must be another. Obviously, the man who had poisoned the wine had killed the steward so that under questioning, he could not divulge who’d given it to him to deliver. Emmett would swear on his mother’s grave that it wasn’t Caleb or one of the other Lords of Aether who’d killed the steward, which meant Nash’s vaunted crew was a point of liability. He bent over the body and tested the temperature of the flesh at the dead man’s wrist.

“I wouldn’t be half surprised if he was killed right after he brought me the wine.”

“Anthony, there you are. Nash has been looking for you. You know I hate to have my sleep disturbed.”

They both turned at the sound of Shelley’s voice.

Artfully disheveled and dressed in an extravagant velvet robe over loose, flowing silk trousers, the courtesan’s gaze went from each man to the dead man. “Oh, my, gentlemen, what have you done?”

“Nothing, as you well know.” Anthony reached out to draw Shelley near, but he dodged the earl’s outstretched hand to bend over the body.

“We have a serious problem.”

“What do you mean?” Anthony slid up behind Shelley, who pointed at the hilt.

“See that engraving?”

Emmett stooped to view the symbol better.  “Looks like a Freemason symbol, although it’s quite faint.”

Shelley shook his head. “Not Freemason. Carbonari.”

“The Carbonari?” Emmett had heard the name, but couldn’t recall any information about them.

“An Italian secret society. Assassins and revolutionaries, for the most part, but they were supposedly eradicated over fifty years ago.” The thoughtful expression on Shelley’s face didn’t deceive Emmett and he doubted it had fooled Anthony either. Something about the symbol on the blade worried Shelley. “If the Carbonari are truly behind this, poisoned wine is the least of our worries.”

Anthony stood. “Is it coincidence that this particular man was killed by an Italian knife, just as you were summoned to Italy?”

The three of them just stared at one another in silence. How was it possible there was any connection to their mission? The odds against it being a coincidence were monumental, but not entirely impossible. There was no real answer to that question just yet, but the murder was an additional reminder that they weren’t on a pleasure trip.

With a brief smile for Emmett and an exchange of speaking glances with Anthony, Shelley left to find Jack and Nash, leaving Emmett and Anthony with the body.

“This isn’t how I envisioned this flight would go,” Anthony said on a sigh, nudging the dead man’s foot with the toe of his slipper.

Emmett didn’t bother to comment. He didn’t know tuppence about Nash and Shelley’s relationship with their father but obviously they would have to decide whether to inform him of the murder. Informing the Italian authorities was probably a completely separate concern. Doing so might create undue delays with suspicion leveled on them without cause, especially if an Italian secret society was involved.

He and Anthony stared down the gangway Shelley had taken. Apparently, they both wished for Nash’s speedy arrival. The level of danger surrounding them could not be dismissed casually. Once the body had been dealt with, Emmett wasn’t leaving Caleb’s side. The man didn’t have nearly his wealth of experience in fending off attackers and there was no way he was allowing anyone to damage his Caleb. Not even if it meant murder.

Nash burst out onto the gangway with Jack only a half step behind him. They stopped beside the body and Nash jerked the canvas away from the nude form. He cursed in Italian.

Jack rubbed his chin in a typical English gesture. “Now, love, don’t get so wound up.”

“Fuck you, Jack.” Nash’s fury flashed from his eyes.

A smile curled the lips of the Imperial spy. He looked at Anthony and then stared at Emmett. “I gather he served you the poisoned wine?”

Emmett nodded briefly, anger surging to the surface again. Jack cocked his head to one side and pursed his lips.

“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you lot, but why this man’s dead isn’t nearly as interesting to me as why the devil the poor fool’s stark bullocks naked.”

A sniff came from behind them. “Aether.”

As one, they all turned to find Jacob Silsbury standing there blinking in the newly risen sun, as placid as if he saw cadavers every day before breakfast.

“I love the smell of aether in the morning.” He smiled at them angelically then wandered back down the gangway into the airship.

“Took the wind out of your sails,” Emmett muttered to Jack, somewhat pleased that someone had. “Now, can we decide what to do with the body so I can go back to bed?”


8 March 2013

Emmett came to complete wakefulness in a mere instant, a life-saving habit developed from battle-readiness that he’d never entirely shed. He held himself motionless, mimicking sleep until he’d fully cataloged his surroundings. Something wasn’t right, wasn’t normal. Beyond the clear memory of poisoned wine designed to kill him.

The rhythm of the airship engines, faint yet distinct, thrummed through his bed, but it wasn’t the vibrations that set his libido alight. His body was curled around a warm, slender, naked form. Crisp hair tickled the underside of his arm where he’d tucked the man in close and held him all night. There was the oddity. Sleeping with a lover. The identity of that lover clarified in his mind, almost immediately followed by a vision of the intense sexual play he and Caleb had enjoyed.

Emmett’s cock, nestled in the valley between Caleb’s fuzzy muscled cheeks, bucked as though seeking more of the same pleasure. But Emmett was master of that particular vessel, and although he berthed it more firmly against Caleb’s backside, he refrained from moving enough to bring Caleb to wakefulness. A period of reflection on this change of circumstance was warranted.

Trouble was, there was more to Caleb’s presence in his bed than mere carnal pleasure, no matter what his cock wanted. He so rarely took a second helping from any man, and yet, he rather thought he could gorge himself on Caleb and never have enough. The implications of that should have had him quaking in his boots… the ones that lay haphazardly amongst the clothes they’d shed the previous night without a care to creases.

Would Caleb get on with his dogs? Or George, his companion? If George had come along on this trip, the minute that wine had been established as poison, Emmett would have been locked up tight in his cabin with George standing guard. There wouldn’t have been an opportunity for the delightful culmination… no, culmination spoke of an ending not in sight.  The delightful climax of his dogged pursuit. A pursuit he couldn’t help feeling smug about. He’d spotted something precious in Caleb that very first moment at the ball, and he was more than pleased to have his instincts proved right.

For some reason, he’d always assumed spending the night with a lover would be akin to peers who’d been caught by a cuckolded husband or one obliged to do the right thing after compromising some husband-hunter. The panic of a newly captured herbivore or the relentless pacing of a caged predator, seeking any avenue of escape, were the emotions he expected. Not his current sleepy contentment that could easily tip over into animalistic passion.

A sneaking fear overshadowed his bliss, but not the fear he’d have thought even a fortnight past. No, if Emmett’s seduction had been successful even a few hours earlier, he might have offered a glass of that murderous swill to Caleb. Anger, hot and vicious, tore through his chest. Attempts on his life weren’t common but he’d experienced his fair share of near-death situations. His was a dangerous profession carried out in dangerous places. And he frequently ignored consequences when in the single-minded pursuit of his cock’s pleasure. But the possibility Caleb could have died as bystander to a nefarious plot against Emmett’s life, stranded as they were on this airship, wasn’t to be borne. Nash had better have a plan to find out who was responsible or by all that was holy, Emmett would face down each crew member, one by one if he must.

Caleb let out a sleepy questioning noise as Emmett’s arm tightened protectively around him. Just as suddenly as the anger flared to life, it disappeared, leaving another fire in its wake. A fire only Caleb could quench.

He gently maneuvered Caleb to his back, leaving Emmett above him, Emmett’s eager erection buffeting against Caleb’s morning hardness. Caleb blinked sleepily at him and those slumberous eyes combined with the unaccustomed scent of a newly-wakened man along with their convenient nakedness ignited the flame of Emmett’s desire into a blazing inferno.

Bending his neck, he sealed his lips over Caleb’s, pressing them open with his tongue before delving deep into Caleb’s mouth. The sudden shock of Emmett’s lusty attack wrenched a gasp from deep within Caleb before he moaned into Emmett’s mouth and bucked his hips up. Caleb’s fingers clutched at Emmett’s shoulders before his hands stroked down Emmett’s chest.

Emmett lifted his head and stared down into Caleb’s dark, glittering eyes and groaned. He wasn’t going to be able allow a leisurely exploration this time, either.

For someone who’d tutored many a willing man in the joys of sex and graciously offered his cock to multitudes of partners, a man such as Caleb shouldn’t stretch his control to near breaking. Then Caleb leaned up to lick at a nipple and Emmett forgot about trying to prove anything. Measured strokes wound them tighter, raising them ever closer to the pinnacle, cocks sliding easily in the wake of precum from two eager men.

Too close for anything approaching finesse, Emmett pressed his groin against Caleb’s while biting firmly into Caleb’s flesh where his neck met his shoulder. The sweet man shuddered beneath him and the slippery eruption warmed Emmett’s cock. His whole body stiffened as his cock throbbed, his own heated offering joining Caleb’s.


Emmett and Caleb acted as each other’s valet and Emmett found assisting Caleb to get dressed was almost as erotic and appealing as undressing him, especially since Caleb give him shy little kisses between each garment, bestowed with blushes. Getting dressed had never taken Emmett so long, yet he looked forward to the same “ordeal” the next morning.  Or perhaps a late afternoon nap might be required. It would depend on how the upcoming confrontation with Nash went.

Finally attired and almost respectable-looking, wrinkles not withstanding, Emmett gave Caleb a pat on the bum before ushering him to the door.

“Come on. We’ve got a villain to find and apprehend.”

The shyness bled out of Caleb’s expression, replaced by a grimness that told Emmett Caleb might not have his battle experience but he was equally unhappy about the near-fatal turn of events.

They found Nash and Jack on deck speaking in hushed tones.

“Morning, gentlemen.” Nash offered a genial greeting when he noticed their approach.

“My, my. You two are up quite early, considering…” Jack’s sly smile left no doubt as to what he meant and Emmett knew without looking that Caleb’s blush had reappeared.

“You mean, after I was nearly poisoned? Worried about being murdered in my bed? Yes, it’s amazing I got a wink.” Indeed, his concern for Caleb should have kept him awake all night, if it hadn’t been for the temptation of Caleb’s body.  Which then promptly sent him into the sleep of the well-satiated. Nevertheless, the exaggeration wiped Jack’s smirk away, making it well worth the implication of a cowardly streak in his character.

“I’ve already set Ivar to investigate the crew. It makes me sick to imagine any of them would betray us like that.” Nash took a step forward, as though to get between him and Jack. Not that Emmett intended to brawl with either of them.

“I’d like to question them, also. After all, I am clearly a target. When I was last in Africa my quarters were searched, I’ve felt eyes on me ever since, my home in London was broken into and now this murder attempt.” Listing the recent grievances, which didn’t even take into account Nash’s kidnapping or any other suspicious incidents, made Emmett furious. He would rip the villain apart with his bare hands when he found him.

Caleb made a strangled noise, and Emmett turned to him. The flush suffusing his face was a choleric red, nothing like his earlier innocent blushes.

“Are you hurt?” Emmett stepped close to Caleb, hand on his face, checking for signs of injury. They’d eaten nothing since the previous evening, fearing tampering, and the ship confines would normally make it impossible for an assassin to use a distance weapon without being seen by one of them, yet Emmett well knew the days of that certainty may well be over. Especially if his invention came to fruition and found its way into the wrong hands.

“I… I…” Caleb’s eyes, filled with fear, searched Emmett’s face.

“What?” His voice lowered, wondering if he’d somehow unnerved Caleb beyond what he could bear.

“I’m sorry,” Caleb whispered. “I didn’t do anything to the wine, I swear.”

Emmett frowned. “Of course not, why would I think that?”

“Because I was the one who broke into your house.”

Bedtime Bondage

4 January 2013
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Nash tugged at the ropes that bound his wrists to the headboard. Jack knelt over him, the expression on his lean face filled with satisfaction. Resisting the urge to roll his eyes at his lover’s happiness at having secured his immobility, Nash let out a sigh instead.

“You know, the dilemma of Emmett’s poisoned wine should be what is uppermost on our minds tonight,” he complained. “We should be working on that.”

Ever since the poisoned wine had been discovered, Jack had been filled with lust. Nash had seen it clearly in the flash of his lover’s eyes. God help him, but Jack took a passionate delight in dangerous situations. Which, of course, is how Nash had come to be tied to his own bed with his naked lover straddling his hips and brandishing an erect and leaking cock in his face.

“There’s time enough for that in the morning,” Jack said, his voice sounding distracted. “It is not as if any of us are going anywhere.”

“That isn’t the point, Jack.” Nash tugged at the ropes although he knew it was futile to try to get free. That wouldn’t happen until Jack came or he came or they both came. Freedom tended to be inextricably bound to orgasms when it came to Jack and bondage.

“Do you think Emmett is buggering Colchester right about now?” Jack mused, his hands sliding along Nash’s ribcage.

Nash resisted his urge to shiver beneath his partner’s caresses. Jack could turn him into a quivering jelly with but a few swipes of his hands over Nash’s body.

“I think Emmett’s sex life is none of our business especially when it concerns Colchester.”

Jack cocked an eyebrow upward. “You didn’t think that when we conspired to push them together.”

“Gods, Jack! That’s different and you know it. Now, that it appears things have come to a head between them, we must bow out. What they do isn’t any of our affair as long as they ease the tension on this ship by giving in to their obvious lust for one another.”

Nash knew his words had come out sounding much more grumpy than they should have, but being tied up annoyed him. He’d thought perhaps Jack would remember that it wasn’t very long ago that he’d been kidnapped.  He’d thought maybe Jack would think he might have an aversion to playing bondage games since he’d been a captive so very recently. But no. Jack did what Jack wanted and the hell with everyone else. Nash would have been hugely annoyed and irritated at Jack’s insensitivity if it weren’t for the fact that Jack’s cock was dribbling pre-cum onto his bottom lip. He licked the sensitive flesh, letting the flavor of his lover burst across his tongue.

“I don’t think that’s just lust between them.” Jack pressed his cockhead against Nash’s mouth, painting his lips with more sticky pre-cum.

“Jack!” Nash stared at his lover reproachfully. Why did the man have to discuss other men when they were naked in their bed? Couldn’t he leave it alone until after they’d both come?

“Suck my cock, Nash,” the spy ordered in a gentle voice. He fed his cockhead between Nash’s lips. “There’s a good boy.”

Nash suckled the soft head, his tongue swirling around the glans. Part of his brain concentrated on sucking Jack’s thick cock while the other part continued to ponder the poisoned wine. His lips formed a tight seal around the heated flesh and his tongue danced along the vein on the underside. Jack’s hips thrust lightly, pressing his cock deeper into Nash’s mouth. The spy was obviously mindful of the fact that Nash was bound and had very little control over how much cock he took in.

The cabin remained quiet for some minutes. The only sound came from Nash’s slurping tongue and sliding lips. Suddenly, with a quick jerk of his hips, Jack came. Startled, Nash swallowed down the hot juices. He realized that had been the first time in months that Jack’s orgasm had caught them both off guard. He wondered if it was because they were distracted by the incident with the poisoned wine or if Jack’s arousal had spiked for a reason. What was the man thinking?

Jack pulled his softened penis from Nash’s mouth. He scooted backward along Nash’s nude body until he lay between Nash’s thighs. Then he proceeded to give Nash the kind of tongue lashing every man enjoyed. Balls, cock and tight puckered hole all received Jack’s exquisite attention to detail. Nash moaned. No one had ever licked him as thoroughly as Jack. He could well understand why Anthony Banning had been so enamored of Jack. He had his own issues with regard to his heart and Jack.

With a low moan, Nash gave up trying to think about the poisoned wine, Emmett’s feelings for Caleb, and his own feelings for his lover. The only thing that mattered in that moment was what Jack was doing to his body. His cock strained. His balls drew tight to his body. He broke into a light sweat as he arched into Jack’s touch.

Gods! The man had magic fingers and an incredibly talented mouth! Nash’s eyes slammed shut as his orgasm rushed at him, his spine tingling. Nothing mattered in his world in that moment except his pleasure and Jack.

“Jack! Damn you, spymaster!” he panted, teetering on the edge of bliss.

“Do you want to come, Sky Commander?”

Jack’s chuckle held an intimate note that made Nash gasp and quiver. “Of course, you bastard!”

Hard hands stroked his flanks, teasing the sensitive strip of skin just inside his hipbones. “I assure you, my parents were properly wed before I was conceived,” Jack murmured wickedly.

His mouth returned to Nash’s cock, sucking him deeply into the back of his throat as his long fingers scissored inside Nash’s fluttering hole. Two twists of those long digits against Nash’s gland and he was crying out, fire and fierce pleasure catching him up in a maelstrom of sensation.

Long minutes later they lay in a tangle of limbs, even though Nash’s hands were still bound. Jack caressed him, a lazy smile quirking up his lips.

“A little bondage at bedtime is just the thing for a journey such as this,” Jack said softly. “I like having complete control over you. You won’t go missing again if I keep you tied up. I discovered I have an aversion to worrying over your well being.”

Nash snorted. “I love you too, Jack.”

His eyes drifted shut. Jack would untie him in a few minutes and pull the coverlet over them both. The poisoned wine and whether Emmett was buggering Caleb were very far from Nash’s mind as he drifted to sleep. As Jack had said, all of that could wait until morning.


5 October 2012

Caleb puttered around the workroom, accomplishing next to nothing of value.  He couldn’t much concentrate. Alexi had interrupted his ill-advised interlude with Montgomery… no, Emmett.  He’d been invited to use Emmett’s given name, and the intimacy of such a gesture shouldn’t affect him, but it did.  Alexi’s appearance had been well-timed, because he didn’t think Emmett would have been easily put off.  Especially since Caleb hadn’t been able to remember how to say “no” once Emmett’s mouth had moved over his, soft but determined.  Thrilling.

Every time he saw Emmett, it got harder and harder to remember why he was supposed to dislike the man, why he shouldn’t tumble into bed with him the way they both clearly wanted.  He’d not been completely unaware of Emmett’s intent gaze on him whenever they were together, but lately, he found himself wanting more than Emmett’s smoldering expression.

Alexi’s interruption had given him time to think, time to compose his rejection, time to let his arousal – brought to an abrupt fever pitch by Emmett’s touch – fade.  Problem was, the arousal hadn’t gone away, not completely.  In the face of the sullen complaints from his unsatisfied cock, his attempts to compose lucid and logical reasons why he shouldn’t succumb to Emmett’s advances collapsed like a clockwork with no gears.  And if he didn’t succumb, would Emmett find someone else to slake his lust with?  Caleb hadn’t appreciated that the last time, and he wasn’t entirely certain he’d be able to retain any civility in Shelley’s company.

Did Shelley call Emmett by his first name?  A quick vision of the two men, naked and entwined, one of them calling out Emmett’s name in his ecstasy, came unwelcome and unbidden to his mind.  In a sudden fury, Caleb swept the table free of gears and piping, the loud clatter shaking him out of his imaginings as he squatted to pick up the pieces.  He shouldn’t care what Emmett did with his time.  But his libido wanted what Emmett offered, and no amount of rhetoric could convince his cock it was a bad idea.

Perhaps if he could retire to his cabin, give himself a little relief, that might help.  But it was broad daylight.  One didn’t do that in broad daylight, especially not when one was a guest.  Did they?  Dinner would likely be served soon; how humiliating to have someone stop by his cabin to announce the meal while he was mid… No.  He couldn’t allow it. He wasn’t one of the idle rich.  Working his commission during the day… that was what he had to do.

With a sigh, he sat down, work still the last thing he wanted.  The vibration of the engines, a minor annoyance when confined to the soles of his feet now radiated through the chair, reawakening his half-dormant erection.  With a curse, Caleb pushed away from the table and stood.

Enough was enough.  He didn’t care if it wasn’t proper, he needed relief and he needed it soon, or he might make the supreme mistake of knocking on Emmett’s door and begging to be his latest bedsport.  Not that he expected every carnal encounter to result in a relationship, but Emmett’s attitude towards it pegged him as the heartless hunter he was. Caleb didn’t want to be used and discarded like a broken toy.

Adjusting his cock in his trousers, Caleb left the workroom without a backward glance.  After all, Emmett had merely commissioned a work, not enslaved him.  He was entitled to “rest” in his cabin for a bit.

Caleb reached his cabin door swiftly and without encountering another soul, thankfully, because it would only require a glance at his groin to discern his state of mind.  After imagining him and Emmett that first night they’d met… imagining him out in the garden, down on his knees in front of the muscular hunter, mouth open to receive the ample erection Emmett sported, he’d find relief within moments of taking himself in hand.

He had a hand on the door handle when a voice spoke.

“Colchester.  Settling in okay?”

Caleb bit back a whimper as an embarrassed heat warmed his face.  Anyone other than his host, and he’d have mumbled his excuses to the door frame and escaped into his cabin.  Instead he took a deep breath and half turned to Nash.

“Fine, yes, thank you.”

Jack, nestled into the circle of Nash’s arms, peered at him.  “Are you certain?  Many people are afflicted with mal de l’air on their first airship flight.  You are a little flushed.”

Caleb’s face got hotter.  If only he could blame airsickness.  Then Nash smirked, and Caleb was very much afraid neither of them thought he was ill.  Depraved, perhaps, but not ill.

“No, I’m fine.”  But his voice cracked, and he might not be fine until he’d reached the solace of his cabin.

“Well, then, come inside and have a drink with us before dinner.  We insist.”

Nash’s words were rather louder than needed, considering how close they stood, but his tone brooked no argument.  And Caleb had to be imagining the odd emphasis on the word “drink”, making it sound salacious.

There was no hope for it.  At least once he was seated, he could hide his arousal, and pray it deflated shortly.  Trying to make polite conversation might be the distraction he needed.

“Of course.  It will be my pleasure.”

Emmett rounded the corner, only to see those bastards, Jack and Nash, ushering Caleb into their cabin.  Caleb, whose erection was obvious to anyone with eyes, and it should have been his.  If not for Alexi and his clinginess to Caleb, Emmett would already had Caleb.  Maybe right there in the workroom, if they’d not been able to make it back to their rooms.  Maybe both.

Emmett stood outside the cabin door, teeth clenched, hands curled into fists.  He couldn’t actually fling the door open and demand Caleb’s return.  Not if he didn’t want to irk Nash to the point of getting himself thrown over the side of the ship.  It was a long, long way to the ground.

Clinging to his temper by a gossamer thread, he made himself enter his own cabin.  The bottle of wine Nash had delivered earlier, “with his compliments” stood on the sideboard, mocking him.  Speaking loudly of Nash’s intention to keep Emmett sotted and away from Caleb.

His anger rose, and he grabbed the bottle, slamming it on the side of the wall he shared with Nash and Jack.  Bastards.

Glass shattered and fell to the floor as crimson liquid sprayed along the wall and dripped down to pool among the shards.  Where it began to foam.  Emmett frowned and stepped closer, careful where he stepped.

He stretched out a finger and dipped it in the wine.  He brought it to his nose and sniffed.  Smelled like wine, but not a great vintage.  Then his finger began to burn and he hastily grabbed a linen cloth from the sideboard to wipe his finger.  The cloth browned a trifle.

Fury boiled over.   How dare he?  Nash already had a man of his own and he was willing to kill Emmett for his?  Emmett didn’t give a good Goddamn who owned this stinking scow.

Like a vengeful god, Emmett stormed over to the cabin next door, and flung open the door.  He had a moment to notice that everyone’s clothes were still on before he barreled past Jack and Caleb to yank Nash out of his chair and land a heavy punch in his face.

The two other men prevented him from landing another blow, but land more he would, because Nash’s shock made him even angrier.  A flash of pain flared in Nash’s face and he touched the blood that trickled from his broken nose.  He narrowed his eyes in anger, which suited Emmett just fine.

“You cold-hearted bastard,” Emmett gritted out between clenched teeth as he attempted to shrug off his restraints.  “If you want to kill me, do it like a man, you puling pup.”

Nash’s anger turned to confusion.  “Kill you?”

Jack and Caleb both echoed the words, which apparently surprised them enough Emmett was able to shake them.  He cocked his fist and let it fly, but this time, Nash was ready.  He caught it and slammed his own fist into Emmett’s gut.  Breath fled his lungs and he stumbled into a chair, stunned.

“I’ve never known you to brawl when you’re drunk, Montgomery, but there’s always a first time.” The restrained menace in Nash’s tone was one never directed at him before, but then, he’d never had Nash try to kill him before.

“What the hell is going on?”  Caleb switched his weight from foot to foot, like he couldn’t decide where to go or what to do.

As air finally returned to his lungs, Emmett became aware of the throb in his ribs that matched the throb in his knuckles.  Nash must have stone under his skin instead of mere bone.

“Your suitor here has apparently been driven mad with jealousy.”

“Is that the story you’ll give the authorities when you tell them I’m dead?”  Emmett sneered.  He had a whole arsenal of weapons in his luggage, but hadn’t bothered bringing one over with him.  Stupid.  But he’d bide his time and get his chance.  Nash was in his sights now, and he never missed.

“Authorities?  What are you talking about, Montgomery?”  Jack moved to wipe away the blood that now dripped off Nash’s chin.  The smear of red made Nash appear mad, as mad as he’d have to be to kill Emmett over a man.

Caleb stared at him as though he’d lost his mind.  And that convinced him he needed to control his anger.  They’d never believe him otherwise.  But Jack needed to know.  As did Caleb.  It was the only way they could keep themselves safe.  And if he convinced them now, perhaps they could prevail upon the crew to keep Nash confined until they could land and hand him over to the authorities.  That was the wisest course of action, as much as Emmett would like to hunt Nash down like a feral beast.

“The poisoned wine.  That Nash sent me.”

The confused look returned to Nash’s eyes.  “I never sent you wine.  Much less poisoned wine.  What are you on about?”

“You didn’t send a crew man to my cabin earlier with a bottle?  I thought you were trying to get me out of the way so you and Jack could have your way with Caleb.”

Caleb gasped and a fresh blush colored his cheeks.

“Not a bad plan, but no, I didn’t send any wine.  What about the poison?”

Could he be wrong?  Could his infatuation with Caleb have muddled his faculties?  Because he believed Nash spoke the truth.  In fact, he’d known Nash long enough that he shouldn’t have leapt to the conclusion he’d kill… at least, not under these circumstances.

“Come.  Let me show you.”

The scene in Emmett’s room told the story.  Where ever wine had landed, it etched and discolored the surface like acid.

“By all that’s holy.  Who brought you this wine?”  Jack asked.

“A crew member.  One I didn’t recognize.”

Nash knelt near the still frothing liquid.

“Careful not to touch it,” Emmett warned.

“We only had one new crew member, but he deserted before we lifted off.”

Suspicious.  Very suspicious.

Nash used a handkerchief to pick up a piece of glass with the wine label.  “And this is not one of the brands in our collection on board.”

“So what does this mean?” Caleb asked.

“Well, either Emmett had another jealous rival,” Nash waggled a brow, and Emmett snorted. “Or, there’s something more nefarious going on.  I’ll have the crew check for signs of tampering, but a ne crew member wouldn’t have been given access to something as important as the pantry.  We’ll hopefully know more at dinner.  If necessary, we’ll stop at the nearest place and bring new supplies aboard.”

Nash led Jack from Emmett’s cabin, leaving Caleb looking shaken.  This might even be worse than Nash trying to kill him.  How could he protect Caleb from a nameless, faceless enemy?  He wanted to tell Caleb not to worry, but knew how useless such words would be.  Instead, he drew Caleb into his arms, thoughts only on comfort, not sex.  At least for now.

On the Catwalk

14 September 2012

“The greatest weapon in an espionage agent’s arsenal is his observation abilities.”

The metal catwalk beneath Jack’s boots vibrated with the movement of the airship as it left smoky London behind. He stood firm, swaying slightly as needed to keep his balance on the narrow catwalk.

“And what is it that you think you’ve seen thus far?”

Nash’s voice held a note of amusement that told Jack his lover was humoring him. Nash had been filled with an electric vibrancy ever since the two of them had conspired to make Montgomery jealous. That extra spark had gone incandescent when Anthony and Shelley boarded and the Lucky Penny had cast off. Jack knew from experience that nothing made Nash happier than to be in the air, on his ship, headed into God knew what dangers. He empathized with his lover completely. Nothing made him feel like the rush of doing his job.

“I give Montgomery another twenty-four hours to bag his quarry,” he murmured. “The man is literally shaking with his lust. I admit, I can’t quite believe Colchester could bring such an experienced man to such a pass, but there is no rhyme or reason to attraction, is there?”

“No, obviously not if you and I are together instead of you and Banning.” Nash nudged Jack with an elbow.

Jack leaned over and brushed a kiss to Nash’s stubbled cheek. “Don’t you have a ship to fly?” he asked.

“Don’t like me to talk about Banning, eh? You did see him board with my brother, didn’t you?”

Nash’s casually phrased digging didn’t anger Jack. He just wondered why his lover seemed so intent on making him talk about Anthony.

“No, I don’t mind talking about Anthony and yes, I did see them board.” He leaned against the catwalk’s railing. “Why do want me to talk about them?”

One of Nash’s brows rose. “Why don’t you want to talk about them?”

Jack chuckled. No one had ever put him on the spot the way Nash did. He supposed it was one reason he loved the man so very much. Nash never let him get away with anything.

“I feel a bit of remorse for hurting Anthony. The whole thing was poorly done of me. I was an utter bastard to the man even though I loved him dearly.” He shot Nash a speaking look. “I still love him. He’s always been my closest and dearest friend.”

If Nash felt any jealousy at Jack’s words, he hid it well. His expression showed only compassion. “What did your powers of observation tell you about him and my brother?”

“I’d wager a monkey my former lover has fallen for your sibling. There’s something about the way he watches your brother that reeks of possessiveness.”

‘That’s a good thing for Shelley, isn’t it?” Nash asked.

“If Shelley wants to belong only to Anthony, then yes.” Jack made a face at Nash. “If your brother prefers to continue his amorous liaisons with men like Montgomery, he’ll eventually lose Anthony. I don’t think Anthony wants to share any longer. I also don’t think he’s fully aware of his own feelings, which is probably my fault. Anthony obviously doesn’t trust his instincts when it comes to love now.”

“My brother is in an odd mood. I’m not sure why but I think perhaps it has something to do with Anthony and Venice.” Nash rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “This trip is going to have some repercussions.”

“I wouldn’t worry about your brother. If he and Anthony are in love, it will sort itself out.”

“I’m sure you’re right. Now, tell me why we interfered with Montgomery and Colchester but we’re leaving Anthony and Shelley to sort themselves out on their own?”

Nash’s pointed question made Jack wince. His lover never pulled his punches. “I don’t think my interference would be wise when it comes to Anthony’s love life. I want him to be happy so I’d best keep my nose out of things.” He eyed Nash with an arch expression. “However, I’m sure you’ll make up for my lack of action in this instance.”

Nash laughed softly. “I can never hide anything from you, can I?”

“I know you too well,” Jack conceded. “As for Montgomery, weren’t we agreed we’d help his situation along solely to avoid more strife on the journey?”

“Yes, but I sense there was more behind your actions than a smooth flight.”

Jack shrugged. “Perhaps. You know, I rather wish I were a fly on the wall when Montgomery finally takes Colchester. There’s something very primal between them and I admit I find the thought of them together quite arousing.”

Silence fell between them for a moment and then Nash’s hand stroked over the curve of Jack’s ass, sending a shiver of lust through Jack’s body.

“Who said you couldn’t observe? The Lucky Penny is a very well equipped ship, Jack. There is a lot more to her than you know.”

Nash’s soft, amused voiced sent spirals of arousal through Jack. Of course, the thought of watching the oh, so masculine Montgomery bugger the beautiful Baron Colchester also had something to do with the erection that began to tent his trousers. He took Nash by the elbow and steered him from the catwalk toward their cabin.

“I wish to know more about the ship’s charms, Nash. You will share, won’t you?”

The two shared a smug smile and Jack realized it was going to be a very, very good flight.



Cat and Mouse

23 June 2012

Jacob accepted the parcel delivered to him with a healthy dose of suspicion. He hadn’t ordered anything. He’d chosen his wardrobe carefully and brought along any tools he anticipated having the remotest chance of needing. The label on the valise only caused more confusion. It came from the small, exclusive dress shop onSt.   Albans Street. Who, besides Leo, even knew that Alexi might have the slightest interest in the wholly feminine garments that could be purchased there?

That thought sent a thrill through him. Perhaps Leo had sent the package as a peace offering. A going away present of sorts.

Opening the case, he lifted the tissue away to reveal perhaps the ugliest skirt he’d ever seen. If it was a gift from his friend, it was no peace offering. Leo knew his tastes. He would never send something so hideous unless he was making a statement. One clearly telling Alexi he was still angry.

“Which I have done nothing to deserve,” he muttered, shoving the garment aside. He rose and found the tumbler he had set down when the delivery had arrived, drained and refilled it, then drained it again. As he filled it for the third time, he hesitated, decanter resting on the lip of the glass. No one stayed his hand or suggested he might want to go easy on the imbibing this early in the day.

Because Leo was off someplace else, enjoying the attentions of straight-laced, simpering Dr. Spencer. Straight and stuffy the both of them. They deserved each other.

Alexi filled his glass and took a healthy swallow. If Leo wanted him to drink less, he should be here to tell him so. Just the idea that he was the one in the wrong boiled his blood. Leo had been the party to bring an uninvited guest into Alexi’s private space. And not just anyone, but a man very obviously interested in Leo in ways Alexi found infuriating.

No one had the right to put Leo on the spot like that, offering attentions he did not want. Everyone who knew the man at all knew he had a membership at the club only in deference to Alexi. He wasn’t like the rest of them.

Another fact that made Alexi want to hit something. Because underneath the stiff collars and occasional liaisons with pretty maids, Alexi knew Leo. He could see what his friend refused to. The man just needed a little push.

“From me!” Alexi snarled as he imagined, once again, that scene in the street of Spencer pawing at his Leo. Tossing back the last of his drink, he rose and sorted through the rest of the package.

He had to admit, as he fingered the remaining garments, they weren’t all as hideous as the skirt. Some of it, he might actually wear, with some modifications. None of it, though, had Leo’s particular touch of refined, elegant taste. He hadn’t had a hand in this.

Which meant someone other than Leo and the professor knew of his proclivity, and that was, indeed, a sobering thought. That information, in the wrong hands, would get him killed, and that was the best, least painful scenario.

Leo would never tell a soul. Beare would keep a confidence, even as he looked down his nose on Alexi for it. That left the professor as the most likely to give away his secret. Or perhaps his own indiscretion. He had to admit, around the club, he was less than circumspect. Perhaps he had grown too comfortable there.

With a heavy sigh, he tossed the packages off to the side and contemplated the half empty decanter. It was probably not a good idea to pour another on an empty stomach. With that in mind, he left his rooms, headed to the mess, and almost got run over by a very disturbed Caleb. The man didn’t even bat an eye when Alexi called after him. He had to try a number of times before he got his friend’s attention.



Alexi blinked. “What’s happened?”

“Nothing.” He hesitated. “Jack.” He shook his head and snarled. “Emmett.” His shoulders slumped. “I don’t know.” After another pause during which he studied Alexi carefully, he sighed. “Jack Starr fancies he sees everything. He thinks you’re safe.”

“Safe? Safe from what?”

Caleb smiled. “Not from. For. He thinks I am safe in your company. He sees a flighty, skinny little boy in you, Alexi. I wonder if he knows how clever you really are?”

Alexi ground his teeth. Jack Starr would not be the first to observe his outward appearance and mistake it for inward substance. “What else did he say?”

The question only brought the cloud of anger and something deeper to Caleb’s face. “Nothing important.” He turned on his heel and stalked off down the corridor.

Alexi was about to follow, but a soft clearing of a throat behind him stopped him.

“Did you enjoy your delivery?”

Alexi whirled. “You?”

Jack shrugged and leaned against the bulkhead casually. “A small token. To let you know you’re amongst friends.”

“Is that so?” Alexi narrowed his eyes. “Just what did you say toColchester?”

Jack smiled enigmatically, his gaze flicking past Alexi, then back. “What he needed to hear, I dare say.”

“And you think you know what your guests need?”

“The man is a ticking time bomb. I felt it prudent to contain the damage, perhaps control the fireworks when he does explode.”

“You keep playing with people like that, Jack, sooner or later, the game will turn dire.”

“What makes you think it hasn’t already? There’s a reason we’re going toVeniceyou know.” His smile widened into a grin as Alexi fumed. “Oh, do calm down, Silsbury. I merely nudged him along in the direction he was already headed.”


Jack shrugged but his grin remained in place.

“You dangle a mouse before a lion, expect to lose a few fingers.”

“I’m not worried about Emmett.” Jack tilted his head, pushed off the wall and ran a finger down the side of Alexi’s face. “But perhaps the house cat is miffed at losing his meal?”

“As anyone might be if someone, even a friend, tried to take from him what belonged to him,” Alexi replied, batting the hand away. He deftly straightened a cuff, the motion distracting the spy from Alexi’s agile flick of fingers against the leather jacket sleeve. The spy didn’t see the tiny blade until it was pressed against his throat.

“So.” Jack’s gaze met Alexi without wavering. Without fear. “The kitten has teeth after all.”

“You’d be surprised what the most unassuming package can conceal. The fanciest valise can hide the ugliest outfit, sometimes, Starr. You can never be too sure what you’re looking at.”

“So it seems.” One dark brow rose above brilliant sapphire eyes as Jack’s body leaned into Alexi’s for a moment, long enough for Alexi to feel the unforgiving press of a gun barrel against his ribs through both their jackets.

He took a step back, carefully re-seated his deadly little blade in its holster in his sleeve, and reset the trigger release hidden in the zipper pull. He knew Jack watched him carefully even though the spy made a show of pulling his own hand free of his jacket pocket where the pistol lay.

“Next time you want to bribe me, send your messenger to the little shop onWhites   Street. Next to the apothecary. Have him ask for Mistress Margaret. She, at least, has taste, and knows my measurements.”

Humor lit those sapphire eyes and Jack laughed. “Duly noted.” He paused, his expression turning thoughtful. “About that device,” he pointed to Alexi’s sleeve. “Your own design?”

Alexi held up his innocent looking sleeve. “Yes.”

Stretching his arm up, Jack ran a hand down the worn leather of his own coat. “Is it adaptable?”

It was Alexi’s turn to grin. “Anything is adaptable.”

“Then you have something worthwhile to distract you for the flight. I’d like to commission one for myself, and one for Nash.”

Alexi considered the offer. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have something to do. But he’d agreed to come and help Caleb with his own commission. He certainly wasn’t going to renege on that. “I’ll have to borrow Caleb’s workroom,” he mused, “some of his tools and materials.”

This not only gave him something to do, but another excuse to help his friend and be close enough to offer a shoulder or an ear, should this fiasco with Emmett Montgomery go any further. “Once I tell him what I need, you can negotiate a price with him.”

“Do you think the way to his heart is through his pocketbook, Silsbury?”

Alexi shot Jack a look every bit as sharp as the blade he’d put away. “At least you understand it is his heart I have a care for. He is my friend, Jack. IfMontgomeryhurts him, just watch how deadly this kitten can be.”

Jack nodded. “Also duly noted. I’m glad we had this talk.”

“As am I.” Alexi gave him a curt nod and turned in the direction Caleb had gone, assuming he would be able to find the inventor ensconced safely in his workshop. He stopped after only a few steps, though and said, “For what it’s worth, I happen to agree with you about them. Just because it’s what they both want doesn’t mean it’s good for either of them, though.”

Jack’s voice held a note of suppressed amusement. “Are we still talking about Montgomery and Clochester, I wonder? Or perhaps a certain textile merchant and a young inventor with more money and ideas than circumspection?”

Alexi snorted. “Touché.” He began walking again. “See you at dinner.”

Maybe, he reflected, Jack was as observant as the infuriating spy actually thought himself. That was a disturbing thought.



The Pot Simmers

27 May 2012
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“Well, well, well, so we were seen.”

“Do you care?”

“Not really. What do you think of the idea of a ménage?”

“Not much, but then Montgomery doesn’t think much of the idea either.”

“He’s jealous.”

“Do you think he’s just intrigued with the hunt?”

“Hard to say. But his interest is quite peaked. He wants Colchester badly.”

“Have you ever seen him be possessive before?”


Silence fell between them.

“You’re plotting.”

“Why would you say that?”

“I can hear you.”

“I didn’t say a word.”

“You didn’t have to. I know you. I love you. I know when you’re plotting.”

“We have a little time before Shelley and Anthony arrive in the morning. I’d say tonight’s evening meal could well be…enlightening.”

“Who are we helping?”

“Who do you think?”

“I thought you were his friend.”

“I am. But I think an interest this deep may need some help seeing the light of day.”

“He’s not stupid.”

“Even the brightest men are blind when it comes to love.”

“Love? He’s not.”

“Maybe. But then again, maybe he is.”

“I can’t believe it.”

“Even the best of us fall.”

“But him?”

“He’s no different than the rest of us.”

“When did you become such an expert on love?”

“The first time you put your cock in my ass.”

“So how do you want to play this?”

“Which of us do you think he’d be more likely to be susceptible to?”

“Me, of course. You need to work on your friend the hunter.”

“Make sure he’s not with the Silsbury lad.”

“I’ll distract him with the delivery of some feminine attire.”

“You noticed that about him?”

“Be hard not to. Skirts are rare in the club.”

“He doesn’t think he was seen.”

“They all think their peccadilloes aren’t seen at the club. Buggering men doesn’t make us blind. And Beare never misses the flick of an eyelash.”

“So. Shall we play?”

“You’re really that bored?”

“I’m really that primed to stir the pot.”

“Alright. I’ll play. But you owe me one.”

“And I’m sure you’ll make me pay up later.”

“Right back where we were before lunch? You on my cock, pressed against the side of the ship?”

“Works for me.”

“Me too.”

“I’ll meet you back here in an hour.”

“That’s all you need to beard the lion in his den? Don’t forget, he’s been antagonized already.”

“I’ll take a whip and a chair.”

“You do that. Make sure you take notes. I want a blow by blow description.”

“Anything for you. Especially anything involving blowing.”

“Just keep thinking like that and we’ll never have another argument.”

“We don’t argue. You just stick your cock in my mouth every time I disagree with you.”

“It works, doesn’t it?”

“Not really. But I’ll let you keep thinking that it does.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“You love that about me.”

“I do.”

“Shall we?”

“We shall.”

“Poor bastards have no idea what’s about to hit them…”

Laughter was the only reply.


Jack arranged for a valise of feminine attire to arrive at Jacob Silsbury’s cabin. He figured it would keep the young man busy for at least an hour. Once he was sure Jacob was busy, he went on a systematic search of the airship, looking for Colchester but ostensibly out for a stroll. He found the man not far from where he’d fucked Nash earlier, but in the public part of the ship.

“Ah, Colchester. Are you enjoying yourself?” he asked, his voice as sly as he could make it without sounding like a villain.

Caleb turned and his pale eyes widened a little. Jack wasn’t sure if it was in fear or arousal. Either way, he could work with it.

“It’s a magnificent ship,” Caleb said, rubbing his hand along the brass railing.

Far below them, the harbor teamed with ships and people. Clouds drifted past and the airship creaked and swayed at its moorings.

“Yes, Nash and his grandfather spared no expense in building her. She saved my life on a mission once. I’m quite fond of her.” Jack angled his body closer to Caleb’s and leaned on the railing, his pose vaguely seductive.


Caleb’s voice sounded a little strangled and Jack could hardly keep the smile from his face. He let his gaze sweep appraisingly over the younger man, acknowledging that Montgomery had excellent taste.

Colchester was tall, at least six feet, with broad shoulders and narrow hips. He had a face that probably made women swoon, high carved cheekbones and a sharply contoured jawline covered in dark stubble, just enough to be sexy. Jack figured that as he grew older he’d become more bulky with muscle like Montgomery, but for now he appeared lithe and wiry, his muscles firm and nicely rounded but not huge. Definitely masculine.

Jack’s gaze took in the long length of Colchester’s legs, the bulge of his thigh muscles, the rounded curves of his pert ass, and the growing swell beneath the falls of his trousers. The smile Jack had been holding back burst forth. Caleb Sutton was ripe for the picking and he wondered if the man was a virgin. He wanted fucking in the worst way so Jack figured if he wasn’t innocent, he was at least very inexperienced.

“The airship is named for Nash’s mother Lady Penelope. ‘The Lucky Penny’ was designed by Nash and his grandfather, the Marquess of Lytton.” Jack shrugged carelessly as if the information he imparted didn’t interest him in the least. “Nash incorporated all the best features from The Connaught, the ship he commanded when he was kicked out of the Imperial Navy. He wanted a ship that could best the Empire’s greatest ship. And he did it. He’s outrun, out maneuvered and outgunned his former command on numerous occasions.”

“That’s fascinating.” Caleb’s hands stroked the smooth brass of the railing.

Jack let his gaze follow the movement of the younger man’s hands. “You’ve very beautiful hands, you know,” he murmured. “I can imagine what they’d feel like stroking my skin.”

Caleb gasped and his gaze flew to Jack’s even as his body stiffened. “I —you—Mr. Starr!” he stammered to a stop, his face blazing and his eyes flashing with fear, arousal and indignation.

Jack allowed his smile to widen and he reached out, covering Caleb’s hand with his and then stroking upward to the younger man’s shoulder. He could feel the tremor that went through him and leaned closer, rubbing his body up against Caleb’s. His hand tangled in the other man’s hair. Caleb gasped again.

“Call me Jack,” he murmured, his gaze on Caleb’s mobile mouth with the full bottom lip that invited a man to kiss it. Mirth filled him. Caleb Sutton was a delectable morsel of a man, ripe with unfulfilled desires and exuding an air of caged sexuality. No wonder Montgomery was smitten. For an experienced man, Caleb presented not only a challenge but a hard to resist allure.

A low growl came from behind Jack and he watched Caleb’s eyes shift, the expression filling with lust and a host of other emotions that had nothing to do with Jack. A door slammed and Caleb’s face showed a flash of disappointment before he backed away from Jack and turned his face away. Biting back a sigh, Jack knew the moment of seduction had passed. Caleb had seen Emmett and now his entire focus was the other man. Jack knew Caleb wanted Emmett. His whole demeanor had shifted the instant he’d seen the hunter.

The game became much more interesting to Jack now. Emmett had seen Colchester in a compromising position with Jack. The growl and slammed door were indications that the earl hadn’t liked what he’d seen one little bit. Obviously, the hunter didn’t like anyone else scenting his particular prey.

Feeling every one of his years, Jack took a step toward Caleb and laid a hand on his shoulder. The younger man eyed him warily.

Jack leaned in to whisper in his ear, “Don’t play with fire, Caleb. Emmett is a man with a man’s desires. He’s not safe like Jacob Silsbury, but he’s not a bad man. You could do a lot worse, you know. If you want to know what it’s like to indulge in those urges you try so hard to suppress, at least Emmett would make them pleasurable. Many men would not.”

He straightened and watched as Caleb swallowed hard, his pale eyes filled with apprehension. With a sympathetic smile he gave the younger man some advice. “You can’t fight who you are forever, Caleb. You have to give in to those desires one day. You should do so with someone who will have a care for your pleasure and not abuse your body.”

“It’s not my body I fear will be abused,” Caleb whispered, his full lips trembling.

Jack shook his head sadly. “You can’t protect your heart. It has a will of its own. If anyone knows that, I do. And by denying yourself that for which you yearn, you do yourself a great disservice. That’s not living, Caleb. Or if it is, it’s living in fear and no man worth his salt allows that to happen.”

With a sigh, Jack turned away. “We’ll see you at dinner, Caleb.”



Nash’s job turned out to be much easier than he’d thought it would be. He found Emmett prowling the ship, a fierce scowl on his face. Mentally, he picked up the chair and whip he’d need to tame the lion. His lips twitched with amusement. Viewing Emmett as an angry lion seemed wholly appropriate.

“You know, I have better things to do than poach on your preserves, Montgomery,” he said as he approached the earl.

Emmett’s scowl deepened. “What the bloody fuck do you want, Nash?”

“A few minutes of your time nothing more, nothing less.” Nash smiled and observed Montgomery’s scowl easing into an expression of suspicion.

“For what?”

“Conversation. Come, let’s walk.”

Nash pushed open a door to the deck and led the earl toward the stern of the airship. He stopped on a platform, the wind teasing his hair. Emmett leaned against a bulkhead his expression forbidding. In that instant, Nash decided not to tease his friend too much. He still wanted Emmett to see Caleb in a compromising position though. He had a feeling it might push Emmett to stop stalking the man and just pounce. He didn’t want Emmett getting frustrated and turning to Shelley for succor during the trip. He didn’t want anyone distracting his brother from Anthony Banning.

“Colchester is a simmering pot.”

Montgomery’s eyes narrowed. “Your point?”

Nash shrugged. “Simmering pots eventually boil over if you don’t turn the heat down. Colchester’s sexuality is all bottled up with nowhere to go. I don’t need problems on this trip, Emmett.”

“You’ll get no problems from me, Nash.” The deep rumble of Montgomery’s voice held anger and frustration despite his words of assurance.

“You don’t want to tear Silsbury limb from limb?” Nash’s brows rose in disbelief.

Montgomery snorted in disgust. “I do, but I won’t touch the boy.”

“Because you really want to touch Colchester.”

“Nash, you know I want him. What is this all about?” Impatience colored Montgomery’s voice and showed in his posture.

“I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me, Emmett?” Nash strode down the walkway, opened a door and led the way down a gangway. They rounded a corner and pushed open a door, coming a halt, the platform in front of them blocked by Jack and Caleb in what looked like a very compromising position.

Only Nash heard Emmett’s softly indrawn breath and then came the possessive growl. It grew in sound and Nash thought it might end in a roar but abruptly, the sound cut off as Emmett spun on his heel and slammed through the door behind them. He caught a glimpse of Caleb’s confused expression before he took after Emmett at a run.

“Emmett! Wait!”

The earl turned on him, his eyes flashing. “For what, Nash? Another demonstration of how you and Jack want to lure an innocent into your sexual games?”

Nash snorted. “Jack and I don’t have sex with other people, Emmett.”

“Then what the fuck did I just see?”

Nash smiled soothingly at his friend and told him, “A simmering pot, Emmett. One that’s about to simmer over. Are you ready to turn up the heat or will you let someone else do it?”

Sky Sex

18 May 2012

The wind caught his hair and tunneled through the locks as if it were his lover’s fingers. The sigh and creak of the airship as it tugged at its moorings occasionally drowned out Nash’s soft moans and the slap of flesh upon flesh. The sharp prickle of beard stubble against his neck caused him to arch his back. A wicked chuckle reached his ears as hot breath soughed over his skin. He shivered.

A groan vibrated against his throat and he turned his head, his own stubble catching on Jack’s as their mouths met in a kiss furious with uncontained lust. Nash pushed his hips back toward Jack. Impaled on Jack’s thick cock, he reveled in the sensation of being taken out in the open, bent over the rail of his own airship, and made to submit to Jack’s decadent will.

The wind whistled a little through the stanchions as the afternoon breeze picked up. Jack nipped at the lobe of his ear. One of his knees pressed Nash’s thighs farther apart and the angle of Jack’s thrusts changed so that he now hit Nash’s gland with every stroke. When Nash moaned again, he could feel Jack’s smile against his skin as his lover licked and nibbled along his neck.

His cock hung heavy, the tip wet with a steady flow of pre-cum. He bent backward into Jack’s embrace, loving the feel of those arms, heavy with muscle, holding him, possessing him as surely as Jack’s cock possessed his arse. As Jack’s thrusts grew more rapid, less controlled, more fierce, he reached his hand down and stroked Nash’s thigh. Nash quivered at the caress and then shuddered in ecstasy as Jack’s hand closed around the thick base of his cock.

Mouth open in bliss, Nash let his head fall back onto Jack’s shoulder. He let Jack orchestrate every move, every lick, suck and caress as they raced toward their fulfillment. Jack stroked him masterfully, his hand gliding the length of Nash’s cock, his fist slipping over the head, his thumb teasing the spot beneath the crown. When Nash cried out, shaking with sensation, Jack smiled against his throat again.

“Are you going to come for me, my sky pirate?” he whispered as his hips pushed against Nash’s backside, his cock plunging deep into Nash’s anus.

Nash whimpered. Jack loved to torture him. It was a good thing Nash loved this kind of torture. His ass might be tender for the next twenty four hours but it was always worth it. No one had ever fucked him as thoroughly as Jack Starr.

“Should I pull out and drop to my knees and suck every drop of that cream leaking from your cock? Should I suck and suck until your balls draw tight and your cum fills my mouth and throat?”

Jack’s dirty whispers made Nash whimper again. Louder this time.

“You love it when my cock reams your ass, don’t you?”

Nash couldn’t contain the needy moans that escaped his mouth. His whole body trembled as Jack’s hands, cock, mouth and words pushed him closer to orgasm. And just like Jack said, he could feel his balls pull up tight as heat sizzled up his spine.

“Yes, Jack! I love it when you fuck me!” he cried out, uncaring if any of his crew heard him.

Jack twisted as he thrust, his hips drilling his cock into Nash’s tender hole. The head pushed against Nash’s gland and fireworks exploded inside him. With an incoherent cry, Nash came, his cock spewing creamy jism over Jack’s long fingers and onto the side railing of the airship.

“Oh, my pirate, my Nash. You’re so beautiful when you come,” Jack’s voice rasped in Nash’s ear, punctuated by uneven breaths and pants. “Your tight ass squeezes me until I can’t bear the pleasure.”

“Fill my ass with your cum, you bastard. Do it!” Nash gritted out as his body continued to shudder and shake.

With a loud groan, Jack came. His copious fluids filled Nash to overflowing until he felt it trickle down his ass crack and inner thigh. He loved how Jack left him hot and sticky with cum, branded by the scent of his lover’s semen. A raw sound of pleasure escaped him as Jack’s hard body covered him from the back of his neck to his hips. Firm lips sought his own and he surrendered to Jack’s kiss.

After long moments had passed and their bodies had ceased to shudder, Jack began to pull free of Nash’s ass. The wet glide of Jack’s softened cock along his sensitive flesh made Nash shiver. He hated it when Jack wasn’t inside him. He wished they could stay connected always. When he’d first expressed that sentiment to Jack, his lover had laughed and commented that it would sure make it difficult to ride a horse.

“Come on, slut. Let’s clean you up. I’m sure luncheon is ready by now.” Jack helped Nash to stand upright on legs that quivered.

“My crew is always punctual. We’re the ones who can’t ever manage to make it to meals on time,” Nash reminded the spy.

Jack laughed and slung his arm around Nash’s shoulders. “That’s because I can’t resist you. Whenever you’re near me, my cock wants to be inside you.”

“You’re just as much as slut as I am, Jack.” Nash grinned at his lover and received a kiss in return.

Jack’s face was set in an expression of satisfaction that would have rivaled a cat with huge dish of cream. “You love it. We can stand out here on the deck in the fresh air and pound away at each other like a pair of loose moraled courtesans and no one can stop us. It’s a freedom I don’t ever want to lose.”

“Speaking of courtesans, I love how incestuous we’ve become with your first lover now fucking my brother.” Nash headed toward his cabin and Jack followed close behind, his hands always reaching out to touch Nash.

“I don’t know if that’s a very good pairing,” Jack grunted.

Nash stopped at the door to his cabin. He turned his head and stared at Jack in shock. His lover had a frown wrinkling his brow.

“What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see they are head over ears for each other? Why wouldn’t you be happy for Anthony?”

Jack pushed past Nash into the cabin. He headed for the small washroom. “I’d be happy for Anthony if Anthony was happy. But he’s not.”

His muffled voice drew Nash into the tiny room where Jack washed himself with a warm, wet cloth. He rinsed it and began to wash Nash.

“They will work out their problems. I have faith,” Nash told him. “My brother can be somewhat less than confident when it’s a man he has true feelings for.”

“And Anthony is blind and still encumbered by feelings of rejection from me leaving him in such a poor manner all those years ago.” Jack sighed and tossed the wash cloth into the tiny sink. “I should probably explain myself to Anthony. Maybe it will help right the wrong I perpetrated against him.”

Nash punched him lightly in the shoulder and strolled back into his cabin to dress. “You should. It’s only fair. You ruined the man’s life, Jack. The least you could do is tell him why and tell him how you really felt. He thinks you never cared about him. That’s rather cruel, you know.”

Regret colored Jack’s expression as he too began to dress. “I know, I know. I was a bastard to Anthony. I was from the very beginning. I let him think I was experienced and I wasn’t. I let him believe a lot of things that weren’t true and it was wrong of me to do such a thing to a man I loved and considered my best friend.”

“So fix it. You have a whole journey to Venice in which to do so.” Nash buttoned his shirt halfway and left it like that. He leaned against a dresser and watched Jack finish dressing. “My brother will appreciate your efforts I’m sure. Especially if it makes Anthony more open to keeping him around forever.”

Jack cocked his head to one side and stared at Nash with a hard glint in his eyes. “You really think your brother can keep Anthony amused for the rest of his life?”

Nash nodded. “Absolutely. Shelley adores Anthony. Can’t you see that?”

“No.” Jack made a disgusted sound. “He’s a butterfly, your brother. I don’t see how he can keep a man of substance like Anthony happy outside of the bedroom.”

Pushing off from the dresser, Nash turned for the door. “You’re not thinking like a spy, Jack. You’re thinking like a jealous former lover. Shelley is everything Anthony needs and more. If Shel’s a butterfly, why the hell do you think my father called him home? My father deals in absolutes. He doesn’t tolerate hedonism for the sake of hedonism. He knows there’s more to Shelley than meets the eye.”

Nash stopped in the airship corridor and pulled Jack against him. “Start thinking like a spy again, Jack. We’re into something deep here and I need you to pull your head out of your arse. I’m here. I’m safe. We’re together. Now, start looking at everything with your brain and not your emotions.”

Jack sighed and wrapped his arms around Nash. “I’m sorry. Your kidnapping tossed me up. I promise to watch Anthony and Shelley during the trip so I can see what you see.”

“Good!” Nash dropped a hard kiss on Jack’s mouth. “Now, let’s eat. You fucked me so hard I’m famished and need sustenance if you’re going to fuck me again later.”

Jack laughed and Nash hid a grin. He relished the coming trip for more reasons than the opportunity it afforded him to be with Jack. And he hoped to God that the trip proved fruitful for all the passengers. Even if they didn’t get to indulge in sky sex.

Bad Anthony

13 April 2012

Anthony took his leave from Shelley under the guise of needing to speak with Jack and Nash. So while Shelley still stood with Emmett Montgomery, Anthony slipped from the room behind his former lover. Jack shot him a surprised look, brows raised. Nash just smiled, a smug movement of his lips that told Anthony he hadn’t fooled Shelley’s half-brother at all. Nash knew he was in a jealous rage.

“You are coming on this trip, aren’t you?” Jack asked unnecessarily.

“Of course he is.” Nash brushed aside Jack’s question with a flick of his wrist. “He is my brother’s lover. Of course, he’ll be coming to Venice with us.”

Jack’s face went smooth and undecipherable. “Emmett…”

“Has someone else to fuck,” Nash said, cutting Jack off. “Didn’t you see the way he included Colchester? He wants that innocent flesh.” Nash’s eyes gleamed with a lascivious light.

A grimace flashed across Jack’s face. “I don’t think Colchester is as innocent as he seems, but his inclusion on the passenger roster should make the trip entertaining at the very least.”

“My flights are always entertaining,” Nash declared with a wide grin. “And now, if you’ll excuse us, Anthony, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen my love. I’m sure you’ll understand if we’re in a hurry to retire.”

Anthony made some kind of polite noise and watched as his former lover practically carried Nash down the stairs of the club. Without Jack and Nash to distract him, his jealousy of Emmett bubbled to the surface and he smashed a fist into the wall. The delicate gaslight nearby shivered in its brass and glass wall sconce but it didn’t break. Anthony shook his hand, not really noticing the slight ache in his knuckles. He wished the sparring salon wasn’t closed for the evening.  He would have happily beat the stuffing out of one of the sparring bags or smashed his fists into the iron muscles of one of the Nubians who were the salon’s silent and non-combative sparring partners.

Instead of beating his fists on any more inanimate objects, Anthony’s fit of pique carried him downstairs and into the library of the club, bypassing the card and billiard rooms. Once there, he flung himself into a leather chair in a darkened corner near the fire, after ensuring that a passing waiter knew to bring him a bottle of Scotch. He glared at the flames, his jaw clenched so tightly his teeth hurt. The Scotch and a cut crystal glass appeared at his elbow. He poured himself two fingers and tossed it back, letting the strong spirits burn through him.

Why now? Why the hell would Shelley’s amours bother him now? Was it because he’d been with Montgomery, that fucking handsome son of a…?

His thoughts trailed away as a movement in the opposite corner of the room caught his eye. The firelight caught ginger colored hair and glinted off the wire-rimmed frames of the glasses worn by Dr. Peregrine Spencer. Anthony’s overwrought senses slowed as arousal began to spike within him. He and the doctor had been introduced previously by an acquaintance, the Silsbury lad, and Anthony had thought the doctor quite handsome if a bit shy and retiring.

He’d heard rumors that while at Eton Spence had been raped by older boys and his parents had removed him from the venerated school. Anthony had no idea if the rumors were true, but he knew that Spence was very reserved despite the fact that the younger man seemed to find him attractive.

He wondered what it would be like to take a man who’d never been with another man or at least one who had never found pleasure with a man before. If Spence had been abused, he wouldn’t be an easy conquest nor would the bedsport be simple and relaxing. He’d have to go slowly and make sure the doctor was writhing with pleasure before he so much as put a tongue or other appendage on or in him. The challenge appealed to his lacerated senses.

For a moment, Anthony frowned, his mind occupied with the fact that his feelings were well and truly bruised by Shelley letting Emmett fuck him. He wondered if he was overly sensitive because of Jack’s return. After Jack, Anthony hadn’t allowed any man but Shelley to get close to him. Now, Shelley was seeing Emmett, a man Anthony had always admired.

He wished he could say he’d been betrayed but he knew that would be a lie. Shelley didn’t belong to him. However, his emotions were in turmoil and he definitely had had his feelings more than a little bruised by the thought of Emmett touching Shelley’s elegant flesh. The why of it all escaped him. He had no idea why Shelley’s profession suddenly bothered him, but the dynamics of their relationship seemed to have subtly shifted. The hell of it was the shift seemed to have occurred only on Anthony’s side. He thought of the smooth scrape of the straight razor over his throat and the reflection of Shelley’s beautiful eyes in the mirror, his gaze holding Anthony’s just as surely as he’d held Anthony’s life in his graceful hands. He trusted Shelley more than any other man on the earth but he could no more understand his feelings for the man than he could capture aether. But he did understand that he hated Emmett touching Shelley.

Anthony turned to the Scotch. Better that he erase all those visions in his head with some strong spirits. He didn’t have answers so he needed a distraction. He drank deeply then froze as a throat cleared just to his right. He turned his head and found Peregrine Spencer sitting in the chair beside him.

“I hope I’m not intruding,” the young man said, his deep blue eyes holding a warmth Anthony recognized even as he registered the hesitancy also in those blue depths.

“Not at all, Spence. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you. We seem to keep missing each other.” Anthony pointed to the Scotch. “Would you care to join me? I’ll call for another glass.”

The young doctor shook his ginger colored head. “No, thank you. I don’t drink spirits.”

Anthony nodded. “A wise decision.” He briefly wondered how he might get the doctor alone so he could test his theory that the man wanted him, but then the doctor himself gave Anthony a clear opportunity for seduction.

“I have rooms h-here,” Spence said, stumbling over his words a bit. “Would you care to join me for a drink in private? I have an excellent port that Beare recommended.”

Crude appendage that it was, Anthony’s cock stirred more than a little at Spence’s words. He stood and smiled at the doctor. “I would enjoy that. Beare is known to have exceptional taste in wines.”

Spence stood and Anthony followed him up the stairs to a suite of rooms near the back of the building. Once he stepped inside, it was immediately apparent to Anthony that Spence used these rooms as a way to escape his family. Books and papers littered the desk and personal touches were evident throughout the room.

“Do you mind if I take my jacket off?” he asked. “It’s been a long day.”

“By all means, make yourself at home, my lord.” Spence’s face flushed a little as he moved toward the sideboard where a decanter of port awaited.

Anthony removed his jacket and carefully folded it over the back of a chair. He undid his cuffs and rolled the sleeves of his shirt up to his elbows. He noticed that Spence’s eyes followed his every movement. He stepped closer to the doctor, ostensibly to take the glass of port from him, but in actuality, he wanted to see Spence’s eyes, wanted to see if the man wanted him. His fingers deliberately brushed Spence’s as he took the wine glass. Instantly, the deep blue eyes that stared at him turned nearly violet with emotion and Anthony’s cock went rock hard.

Seeing a spike of panic on Spence’s face, Anthony turned away, sipping his port. He glanced over his shoulder and caught Spence gulping down port. Sympathy stabbed him. The poor man wanted him, but was afraid of something. Anthony decided it wouldn’t do to draw out the seduction. Spence was becoming more nervous as the minutes passed. Eventually, he’d be too rattled to succumb to Anthony’s advances.

“I heard rumors, you know, Spence,” he murmured as he wandered the room, looking at the books Spence had strewn about.

“R-rumors? About what?”

Anthony smiled soothingly. He could clearly see the apprehension on the doctor’s face. “That you were hurt at Eton.”

Spence’s eyes widened with alarm. Anthony circled the room, coming closer to the nervous young doctor. The nearer he got the more port Spence drank. By the time he stood in front of Spence, the glass was empty. Anthony set his own still full glass on a side table and stepped deliberately into Spence’s personal space.

“I won’t hurt you, Spence,” he murmured. “I only want to give you pleasure.”

Raising one hand, he brushed the back of it against Spence’s cheek and the doctor shuddered. Anthony stepped closer, his body so close to Spence’s he could feel the other man’s heat.

“Have you been with anyone since you were raped, Spence?”

Anthony said the words boldly, deliberately. He needed to keep Spence strung tight yet off balance. To his astonishment, Spence nodded his head.

“A m-man, here at the club. He…he…” Spence broke off and swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “He took me in his mouth.”

A smile curled Anthony’s lips. “He sucked you off?” Spence nodded. “And how did you like that?” he asked curiously, his voice soft.

“I liked it a lot.” Spence’s eyes were wide open and filled with a mixture of horror, arousal and fascination.

One of Anthony’s hands carded the soft ginger waves of Spence’s hair. “Were you attracted to men before the unfortunate incident at school?”


The yearning in that stuttered reply nearly unmanned Anthony. “Would you like me to show you how men make love, Spence?” A groan escaped the doctor and Anthony chuckled. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Spence held himself stiffly as Anthony removed his jacket and both their neckties. He pulled his shirttails from his pants then pulled Spence’s free. Slowly, he began to back Spence toward the bedroom. When Spence’s legs hit the side of the bed, he groaned loudly.

“M-my lord?”

Anthony pressed his body to Spence’s, feeling the tremors that shook the doctor’s frame. “My given name is Anthony. I give you leave to use it, Dr. Spencer.”

Bending his head, Anthony took Spence’s mouth. Carefully, he teased the doctor’s closed lips, his tongue licking the seam. The lips opened and Anthony delved within, tasting the sweet innocence of Peregrine Spencer. As the kiss deepened and Spence began kissing him back, Anthony worked at their clothes until they were both completely naked. He stopped briefly to remove Spence’s glasses and set them on the bedside table. Then, he tumbled Spence to the mattress and lay to his side, not wanting to overwhelm him.

They lay for long minutes kissing and caressing each other’s bodies. Anthony wanted Spence to want him as much as he wanted the innocent young man. So they played, stroking and licking yet not touching each other’s cocks. Anthony’s lay heavy against his belly, leaking a stream of pre-cum, his balls aching with the need to unload his seed.

“Are you ready, Spence?” Anthony murmured against Spence’s collarbone. “Are you ready for me to make love to you?”

The young doctor nodded, his silky hair flopping over his brow. “I’m ready,” he whispered, his voice shaky.

“Have you oil? Something slippery?”

Spence moved his hand toward a bedside drawer but couldn’t reach it. Carefully, Anthony leaned over and opened the drawer, pulling out a bottle of exotic herbal smelling oil. He uncapped the bottle and spilled the rich, thick liquid into his palm, heating it. He slicked his cock and hand then pressed Spence onto his back on the bed. Nudging the doctor’s pale thighs apart, he lay between them, pressing Spence’s knees higher. The instant the pale pink pucker of Spence’s anus came into view, Anthony sucked in a harsh breath.

“What’s wrong?” Spence whispered, eyes wide with apprehension.

“Nothing. It’s just that you’re beautiful.” Anthony cleared his throat. “I’m going to touch you there. Don’t tense up on me.”

Spencer nodded his acquiescence and Anthony circled Spencer’s pink hole. Involuntarily, the doctor tensed then Anthony bent and licked the puckered skin. Spence keened and relaxed. Anthony smiled. Things were going much easier than he’d expected.

In moments, Anthony had one long finger buried to the hilt inside Spence. Slowly, he eased the finger out then in again. It took very little time for Anthony to have Spencer writhing on the sheets with two of Anthony’s fingers deep inside him. Anthony crooked the digits, rubbing the spot that gave men the ultimate pleasure. Spence shuddered, his long slender cock leaking pre-cum with each pass of Anthony’s fingers.

When he couldn’t take the moans any longer, Anthony pulled his fingers free, reared up on his knees and pressed the head of his aching cock to Spence’s anus. To his amazement, Spence grabbed the backs of his thighs, tilting his ass up for Anthony. However, at the first hard press of his cock into Spence’s anus, the young man turned into a statue.

“Breathe out, Spence. Push out and breathe out,” he advised. He flexed his hips and the head of his cock pushed past that tight first ring of muscles. Incredible heat seared his cock head. “Again,” he demanded.

With a breathless grunt, Spence pushed out as Anthony pressed his cock deeper. With excruciating care, Anthony finally got his whole cock inside Spence. They lay still, bodies pressed together and Spence’s hard cock trapped between their bellies.

“You feel so wonderful,” Spence whispered. “I’ve never felt this way before.”

Anthony wanted to ram his cock into the tight, hot channel but he didn’t. Gently, he made love to Spence, giving the young man time to accustom himself to the feel of Anthony’s cock inside him. When Anthony began to move, the glide of his cock dragged the head across the place inside Spence that caused him to moan uncontrollably. Before long, Spence moved his hips in time to Anthony’s thrusts. It was then that Anthony began to fuck the young doctor.

Heat swirled inside Anthony. His focus became singleminded, pleasuring himself within the tight clutch of Spence’s near virgin ass. The doctor’s lithe frame quivered, visibly shivering with bliss with each of Anthony’s thrusts. Head thrown back, Spence arched into Anthony’s bigger, broader body, his face contorted in a mask of passion. The sight spurred Anthony on and his hips snapped. His balls slapped against the taut globes of Spence’s buttocks.

And then Spence’s fingers scrabbled for his cock, wrapping them around the reddened flesh. Quickly, he frigged himself as muscles strained in his neck and shoulders. Incoherent sounds of pleasure escaped his mouth. Anthony twisted his hips, his hands canting Spence hips to meet his thrusts. A flush crept over the younger man’s torso and his eyes went wide with shock and excruciating bliss.

Spence cried out Anthony’s name as his cock erupted, spilling creamy seed onto his chest and over his fingers. Instantly, Anthony’s cock was gripped by the tightening muscles of Spence’s anus as he came. Heat washed over Anthony as his balls drew up and his cock began to spew its seed deep into Spence’s dark passage. He took Spence’s mouth fiercely, sucking on his tongue roughly as he shoved his cock one last time into Spence’s innocent ass.

Collapsing onto the gasping young man, Anthony felt little tremors in his muscles as his orgasm crested and then receded. He realized that Spence was pressing kisses along his jaw and that the young man’s hands were caressing Anthony’s broad back. Guilt pinged but he shoved it aside. Spence wasn’t completely innocent, nor was he a child. He was a man who had wanted to be fucked. He had invited Anthony to his rooms. Anthony hadn’t had to do much seduction at all.

“I’ve never experienced so much pleasure,” Spence murmured against Anthony’s shoulder.

Anthony pulled his softening cock from Spence’s ass. The younger man gasped and shuddered. Anthony used a corner of the sheet to wipe himself and Spence.

“That is only one thing, one position,” Anthony said matter-of-factly. “There are other pleasures to be had between men.”

“Truly?” Spence’s violet eyes became luminous.

Anthony shoved aside his guilt and the voice of reason inside his head that told him he had no damn business being in Spence’s bed. “Would you like me to show you?”

Eagerly, the doctor nodded and fell into Anthony’s arms.


On his way out of the club, Anthony noted that Beare had not yet retired and stood hovering near the foyer. The stiffness of Beare’s expression could have been because it had been a long night. However, Anthony knew it was because of him. Beare hadn’t liked that he’d used the good doctor to get back at Shelley for fucking Emmett. Hell, Anthony didn’t like what he’d done. Guilt had assailed him the moment he’d put his cock in that innocent flesh.

Rubbing a hand over his face and then through his hair, Anthony moved toward Beare. The steward held out his overcoat. As he slipped his arms inside, he murmured, “Even the best of us make mistakes, Beare. I’m sorry.”

The steward smoothed the wool over Anthony’s shoulders. “I don’t believe you owe me an apology, my lord. You’ve not wronged me.”

Beare did not emphasize the last word but Anthony heard it nonetheless. He closed his eyes for a moment, pain raking him with hot talons. “My life is in chaos. I’ve no idea how to even begin to put it all straight.”

“You could begin at the beginning, but that would be trite, now wouldn’t it, my lord?”

Anthony opened his eyes and found Beare raising one brow.

“As Poll says, it makes no matter where you start as long as you start somewhere.”

“Poll is quite wise, but I’ve told you that before, haven’t I, Beare?” Anthony eyed the steward, wondering how angry he really was.

“She married me, my lord.”

Beare’s brief words made Anthony’s lips turn up slightly.  He turned toward the door which an attendant opened for him.

“So she did.” He pulled his coat more tightly around himself. “Have a good night, Beare.”

The steward inclined his head and Anthony stepped out into the fog shrouded dawn, knowing that even though he was headed home to his bed, sleep would probably elude him. He wished he could drug himself into a stupor like the opium eaters. Perhaps then the demons inside him would let him rest.

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