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A Bride Most Scandalous

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“There,” Eleanor said, fastening the top button of the dress and taking a step backward to survey her work. “You can look now.”

Frederick Avington, the third-born and least-loved son of Viscount Avington, took a deep breath and turned around to face himself in the mirror. Eleanor, his elder sister by a mere two minutes, had lined his green eyes and darkened his lashes with kohl, creating the illusion of wide-eyed feminine innocence. His long, thin nose had been dusted with powder—just a touch, she had warned, as he wanted to look like a respectable lady, not a harlot—and his lips were a brighter red than usual. Together with her maid Bethan, she had worked some sort of magic on his hair, twisting and pinning the short blond locks up in a way that made it look longer and fuller that it was in truth.

The heavily embroidered neckline of his fine muslin dress dipped just low enough in the front to flirt with scandal, exposing the small shadow of curves the stays created out of his flat chest. The blue fabric had been gathered at both the wide neck and the raised waistline, adding even more faux fullness to his chest, and additional embroidery decorated the filmy skirt that fell straight to his slipper-clad feet. Large puff sleeves with a newly added lace hem ended just above his elbow, obscuring his well-defined biceps.

He curled his lip up in distaste. “I’m not sure I can pass as you to anyone with eyes,” he said, finally meeting her gaze in the mirror.

“Oh, Freddie,” she sighed, stepping closer and reaching for his hand. Standing next to one another they were of a height, with their mother’s small, pointed chin and matching freckles on their pale faces. Eleanor’s shoulders were narrower than his, and her hips a bit wider, but dressed in her chemise, stays, and dress, they looked more alike than different. “You look wonderful. Besides,” she said, fussing with the neckline a bit, “it doesn’t need to be a perfect disguise. Montcroix has never met me, and Mother just has to buy the switch long enough for Dafydd and I to get on the mail coach to Gretna Green.”

“I’m not so sure,” he said, wavering. This had seemed such a good plan last night, when he and Ellie had thought it up, but the more he thought about it, the more hare-brained it seemed. In theory, it was incredibly simple: Freddie would wear a dress, Eleanor would put on breeches, and their mother, too vain to wear her spectacles in public, would escort the wrong twin to the church. In the light of day, he could see so many ways it could go wrong. He turned and took his sister’s hands in his. “Ellie, tell me truly. Is this what you want? Is he what you want? Once we do this, there’ll be no going back for you. You’ll be a blacksmith’s wife, for better or worse.”

Eleanor bit her bottom lip, which didn’t quite stop it from quivering; her green eyes, as familiar to him as his own, shone with unshed tears. “Oh, Freddie, I am so very sure. If I were forced to live without Dafydd—” She trailed off and squeezed his hands. “It would be as if a part of my soul were missing. And mine is small enough as it is,” she said, taking one of her hands and placing it on his padded chest, “as half of it lives here.”

Freddie covered her hand with his own. “I hope that I shall someday find a love as deep as yours,” he said, smiling at the blush of happiness on his sister’s cheeks. “Now, tell me again about Montcroix.”

She sighed and leaned in to rest her cheek on his shoulder. “Well, I’ve only had the one letter from him, but I did correspond with his brother a bit. Apparently he’s been in the military for most of his life, but his brother died without any children, so he had to sell his commission and come back to take over the estate. Father had an agreement with his brother, and for whatever reason, Montcroix has decided to honor it. He’s older—I think Mother said he’s thirty-five.”

“Thirty five!” Freddie wrinkled his nose. “That’s fifteen years between us!”

Eleanor rolled her eyes at him. “And fifteen years between he and I as well,” she said, causing Freddie to flush slightly. “Besides, it’s quite a respectable age, if Mother’s advice is to be believed. He’s not an old widower who wants to get an heir and a spare on a young wife. His letter was quite cold, honestly, and he made it clear that he expects very little from our union.” She fussed with one of the twists in Freddie’s hair. “He didn’t even mention getting an heir on me—he said he’s quite content to allow his cousin to inherit.”

Freddie frowned, thinking of the men in Springshire, even those with whom he’d shared furtive kisses—and occasionally more—and how they would react to letting their farms fall to a cousin rather than a son. “Does he have a mistress?”

She pursed her lips, dropping her gaze to the floor. “He didn’t mention one. He was quite frank about other things, so I doubt it.”

He raised an eyebrow at the flush crossing his sister’s cheeks. “What does that mean, Ellie?” he asked.

She cleared her throat delicately, then forced herself to meet his eyes, his skin nearly scarlet in the early morning candlelight. “He said he’d be willing to overlook any lovers I choose to take, provided I was discreet and took, ah—” She trailed off and cleared her throat. “If I ensured he would not be required to raise another man’s bastard.”

Freddie’s mouth fell open in shock. Though affairs were common, it was never spoken of openly, let alone between a man and his betrothed. Perhaps, he thought, rather uncharitably, Montcroix had been injured fighting Napoleon and wasn’t able to father children, which might explain some of his unconventional views on a potential marriage.

Eleanor brushed her lips against his cheek, lightly enough to not muss the powder. “You’ll be fine. Montcroix will likely be overjoyed not to be saddled with a wife in love with another man. And it’ll be too late for Mother and Father to do anything about it.”

He leaned in until their heads bumped together, and took a breath to steel his nerves. “Alright, sister mine. Let’s get me to the church.”

Despite Freddie’s worries, the plan went off splendidly, likely due to Bethan’s assistance: she had pinched the Viscountess’s spectacles when she brought her morning tea. Eleanor, wearing Freddie’s breeches, had snuck out to the blacksmith’s shop to meet with Daffyd while Freddie sat silently in the parlor, deflecting their mother’s suspicions simply by his presence. The drizzling rain on the walk to the church provided a ready-made excuse to keep the wide-brimmed wedding bonnet as a barrier between them rather than keep up with his mother’s stream of chatter, and by the time they arrived, the mail coach had left the station.

That left only the hardest bit—explaining the whole thing to Montcroix in a way that, hopefully, wouldn’t send him haring off to Gretna Green after Ellie and Daffyd. He repeated the salient points to himself as he slipped through the church hallways—it was nothing personal, Ellie was simply in love with someone else, Freddie was very, very sorry, and perhaps he could buy the baron a pint in apology?

He raised his hand to knock on the small antechamber set apart for the groom, only to yelp in surprise when his mother called out to him. “Eleanor! That’s the wrong room, silly girl!” she grabbed Freddie’s upraised hand, and started dragging him away. “You’d think you’d never been in this church before,” she continued. “That’s for the groom!”

Freddie almost yanked his arm away, but the anteroom door opened before he could. Standing in the door frame was a tall, incredibly handsome man, dressed in a black coat and breeches, with wavy dark hair and winged black brows. High cheekbones and a once-broken nose gave him a piratical air, but his lips were those of a lover, plush and wide. His sharp black coat emphasized the breadth of his shoulders and the narrowness of his waist, and underneath he wore a fashionably cut navy silk waistcoat with a subtle fleur de lis pattern. His shirt and cravat were both impeccably white, the latter silk and tied in a complicated knot. His black breeches clung to his legs, outlining the thickly muscled thighs of an avid horseman, and his low-heeled shoes had been shined to within an inch of their lives. As his mother dragged him down the hall, he felt his mouth gape open as he met the man’s startled gaze, which quickly turned quizzical, a sharp crease forming between his dark brows.

“You know the rules, Eleanor,” she said, dragging him along toward the bride’s anteroom down the hall. He stumbled along after her, the swish of his skirt unfamiliar as it stirred up the air around his silk-clad ankles. “It’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding.” Freddie opened his mouth to answer, but she ploughed on. “Now, I’m certain that it’ll be quite all right, though, it was only a little glance, after all.”

She pushed open the door and tugged him inside, fussing over him. “Freddie’s still not turned up. I sent him out to check on the decorations this morning; I just can’t believe he’d be so selfish as to miss your wedding.”

Freddie bit his tongue to keep from defending himself, instead letting her fix the hem of his gloves. “I have faith that this shall all work out for the best. Of all my children, you and Freddie have always been the most resourceful.” Gloves perfectly in place she squinted up at him, and even though he knew that without her spectacles, his face was nothing more than a flesh-colored blob, he tensed. “Now, your father’s not here to walk you down the aisle—the weather has him stuck in Town,” she said, the down turned corners of her mouth betraying that she didn’t believe that story any more than Freddie did. “And since Freddie’s disappeared, you’ll have to escort yourself.”

He opened his mouth to reply, but his mother shushed him when the organist started playing. “No time for regrets now, Eleanor. On with you,” she added, turning him ‘round toward the aisle and patting his flat bum as she passed him to head for the front pew. “Go get married.”

He ought to stop this farce now, Freddie knew. He should march right up to the vicar and Montcroix and whip off his bonnet, declare to all and sundry that Lady Eleanor Avington was on her way to Gretna Green with the blacksmith, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Even as he steeled his nerves to do just that, though, he remembered the curious frown on Montcroix’s face as the Viscountess dragged him away, and his stomach turned at the idea of publicly humiliating him. He would just have to find a less public time to confess his deception.

Baron Montcroix was much taller than Freddie, standing an inch or so over six feet, and Freddie felt his keen gaze was like a brand as he made his slow way up the aisle. The man was incredibly handsome, Freddie thought, and wondered again why he’d been willing to marry Eleanor when he could have had his choice of the flowers of the ton. He didn’t look lame, though Freddie supposed a limp wouldn’t be evident when one stood still. Military men were known for their honor, weren’t they? Maybe he couldn’t bear to break an agreement.

When Freddie reached the altar, Montcroix offered his hand to help him up the small step. He dropped his hand almost immediately, and turned to give the vicar his full attention. The vicar, a man who’d been ancient when he’d baptized Eleanor and Freddie twenty years ago, cleared his throat to gather the attention of the few attendees. His familiar raspy voice began the ceremony, droning on about the sanctity of marriage and the cleaving of one body to another; a flush crept over Freddie’s cheeks at the thought of cleaving to the tall, handsome man next to him. Curious, he dropped his gaze to Montcroix’s breeches, eyeing the significant bulge at the front with hunger.

He was so distracted by ogling his bridegroom, the vicar had to ask twice if Freddie would honor and obey his husband. Startled, he squeaked out an “I will,” breathing a sigh of relief when Montcroix agreed to do the same. The vicar then directed Montcroix to take Freddie’s hand. His hands dwarfed Freddie’s own, and the heat of them shot straight to his groin, cock stirring behind filmy layers of fabric.

His ill-timed erection only grew as Montcroix spoke his vows, his deep baritone voice rumbling over the words “to love and to cherish” in a way that sent butterflies soaring through Freddie’s stomach. When he deftly undid the two buttons securing Freddie’s glove, his traitorous knees nearly turned to water. It took all his determination to keep from swaying when Montcroix carefully pulled the kidskin from his fingertips and bared his skin to the cool air of the church.

Montcroix rubbed his thumb over Freddie’s knuckles, seemingly unconcerned by their breadth, and murmured something to the man standing with him, who Freddie recognized as the Springshire curate, though he was not wearing his vestments—not one of Montcroix’s friends, then. Freddie wondered suddenly if Montcroix had any friends in England, or if he’d left them all back on the Continent.

The curate produced a pair of rings, and after the vicar spoke the blessing, Montcroix slid the smaller one carefully onto the fourth finger of Freddie’s hand, the thin band of gold warm against Freddie’s skin. “I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow,” he said, voice soft, “and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.”

“Oh,” Freddie breathed, feeling as if all the words in his brain had been stolen by the touch of Montcroix’s gloved hand on his bare skin.

Freddie managed to repeat his own vows without stumbling, placing the larger ring on Montcroix’s finger, and then the vicar announced them to the gathered witnesses as Lord and Lady Montcroix. Freddie made to step down, but his husband—was Montcroix now his husband in truth?—squeezed his hand and pulled Freddie into him. “You forgot your kiss, Lady Montcroix,” he said, and leaned down to press his lips to Freddie’s.

The searing heat of his husband’s mouth took him by surprise. Freddie gasped at the first touch of those plush lips to his own, and Montcroix took it as an invitation, dipping his tongue inside to caress Freddie’s. The kiss lasted only a moment, but when it ended, it was as if his universe had rearranged itself with Montcroix in the center. The inscrutable expression he’d worn through most of the ceremony had changed into something fond, and it didn’t abate as he took Freddie’s hand in his and pressed a more gentle kiss to the bare knuckles.

Still dazed from the kiss, Freddie managed to follow the vicar to the vestry, where the elderly man settled himself at a small table dominated by the parish register book. “It will be just a moment Miss Eleanor—er, Lady Montcroix,” he apologized. He scratched out the lines into the register, then turned it round for their signatures. The vicar’s bony finger pointed out a line on the parish registry. “Sign here please, Lady Montcroix.” Freddie did as instructed, still flustered from the kiss, before passing the quill to Montcroix, who did the same.

Freddie stepped away, pacing nervously as the vicar wrote up a copy of the lines on a separate sheet of paper and the curate and the organist signed as their witnesses. The vicar called him back to sign this one, and when it was officially witnessed, handed it directly to Freddie. “Congratulations, Lady Montcroix,” the man said, clasping Freddie’s hand in his own. “I wish you all the happiness God can provide.”

Tears welled up in Freddie’s eyes, and he threw his hands around the vicar’s frail shoulders, remembering at the last moment to keep his false bosom from pressing against the vicar’s chest. “Thank you, Father,” he whispered, trying to keep his voice high and breathy enough to pass for Eleanor’s. “I shall miss you.”

The vicar hugged him back. “And I you, child.” He pulled away, and patted Freddie on the shoulders. “Now, I believe there’s a wedding breakfast to attend, if I know your mother.”

“Actually,” Montcroix interjected, taking Freddie’s hand in his own, “I told Lady Avington that we wouldn’t be able to stay for the breakfast. The roads are only going to worsen as this rain continues, and we must start our journey as soon as possible if we intend to make it to Montcroix Manor before they flood entirely.”

Freddie opened his mouth to protest, but the vicar interrupted. “Ah, yes, I understand the weather kept your father from attending, did it not?” Freddie grimaced, and shut his mouth with a click, noticing the look of pity in the old man’s rheumy eyes. To a man who’d know the viscount since he was in dresses, the excuse was likely less than satisfactory. “It would be a terrible end to a joyous occasion to be mired in the mud rather than cozy in a bed.”

They returned to the sanctuary, where Freddie’s mother waited for them, smiling brightly in the front pew. “Lady Avington,” Montcroix said, favoring her with a perfectly correct bow. “Meeting you has been a high-point of a delightful morning. I regret that we cannot stay for the wedding breakfast, but as you know, the roads are only going to deteriorate further. I understand that you’ve packed up Lady Montcroix’s trousseau for her?”

Freddie looked sharply at his mother, who giggled girlishly at Montcroix. “Yes, your driver has the trunk. If I’ve forgotten anything,” she said, turning to Freddie, “we can send it right away.” He opened his mouth to speak—though what he would say, he still did not know—but his mother shushed him and patted his cheek, eyes bright with unshed tears. “Don’t worry, love. Everything will work out splendidly.”

Freddie nodded, not trusting his voice at the moment. If he could only get into the carriage, away from prying eyes, perhaps he would be able to explain all of this to Montcroix.

They said their goodbyes, and Montcroix helped him into his borrowed pelisse. A well-made black carriage with the Montcroix seal embossed on the door sat just outside the church, its livery-clad driver hunched under a tiny awning that barely shielded him from the rain. Montcroix helped Freddie up the steps and into the interior, then stopped to have a quick chat with the driver before stepping in himself.

The door shut with an ominous slam, and Freddie flinched. Montcroix settled himself on the front seat, his back to the driver, and said nothing as the carriage started forward with a jolt, mud squelching under its wheels. Freddie sat stiffly in the front-facing seat, hands folded in his lap.

After several minutes, Montcroix seemed to relax, throwing one arm over the back of the seat. He cleared his throat, and Freddie looked up to meet his ice blue eyes. “Now, Lady Montcroix, would you mind telling me your real name?”

Freddie swallowed hard and removed his bonnet, placing the overly decorated confection on the seat next to him as he nervously removed his gloves. “Frederick. Frederick Avington,” he answered after a long moment of silence, tipping his chin up and staring straight across at Montcroix.

Montcroix smiled, and Freddie felt his cheeks heat. “Eleanor’s twin brother, I presume,” he said. When Freddie nodded, his smile faded. “Am I to understand I’ve been tossed over for a Welsh blacksmith?” Freddie’s mouth gaped open, and Montcroix shot him a self-deprecating grin. “We did not have an extensive correspondence, but I did read her letters to my brother before I agreed to the wedding. She was not as circumspect about her affections as she might have been.”

“Right,” he said, slumping back into the carriage seat. “I was never meant to go through with the whole ceremony, you know. Our mother was watching for Ellie to elope, so I was to stand in for her until they got on their way to Gretna Green. I tried to confess to you before the ceremony, but my mother caught me outside your room and after that—” He trailed off, hands fluttering aimlessly, “it all sort of… happened.”

Montcroix leaned back into his seat and hummed thoughtfully. “Well, since there is nothing to be done now, I wish them the best,” he said after a long pause. “As for you, Frederick—"

“Freddie, please.”

“Freddie,” Montcroix continued, “what are your intentions now?”

“My intentions?” he repeated, confused. “I don’t understand.”

Montcroix shrugged one of his broad shoulders nonchalantly, and began to pull his gloves off, one finger at a time. “Well, we have quite the conundrum, Freddie. I have legal proof of a valid marriage to Eleanor, and she will have the same of her marriage to the blacksmith. Certainly, I could petition the courts to annul the marriage, citing fraud, but that would cost thousands of pounds and cause quite a stir. I could likely weather the outrage, having just returned from fighting Napoleon, and only wanting to fulfill my brother’s obligations, but you?” He looked straight at Freddie. “Even if you’re not charged as a sodomite or locked up in Bedlam, you and your whole family will be ruined. It would be impossible for you to escape the scandal unless you left the country, and I understand you’ve not the funds to travel the Continent.”

He didn’t continue right away, and Freddie licked his lips, watching as Montcroix’s gaze dropped to his mouth before flicking back to his eyes. “Have you any alternatives?” he asked, voice shaking.

“I have some thoughts,” he said, voice low. “In her letters, your sister spoke of you.” Freddie opened his mouth to protest, but Montcroix held up a hand to quiet him. “Nothing incriminating, I assure you. And my brother certainly didn’t understand what she spoke of. But one learns to read between the lines, when it’s necessary.”

“Nec— Necessary?” Freddie stuttered. Could he possibly mean what Freddie thought—no, what Freddie hoped he meant?

Montcroix arched an eyebrow, but didn’t answer.

His heart hammering in his chest at the implications, Freddie asked, “These, ah, alternatives?”

A slow, sensual smile spread across Montcroix’s face. “You could act as Lady Montcroix in truth.”

The rumbling baritone aroused images of Montcroix, naked, leaning over him, and Freddie’s cock hardened so fast he felt almost lightheaded. He wanted nothing more than to jump across the carriage and into the man’s lap, but he felt he had to protest, in case he was misunderstanding. “I am not a truly a lady, you know.”

“A fact that has not escaped my notice,” Montcroix said, his smile widening. He leaned forward until their knees knocked together in the center of the carriage, his encased in wool, Freddie’s in silk and chiffon. “In truth,” he murmured, “I rather prefer you that way.”

“Oh,” Freddie squeaked, struck dumb for the second time that morning.

Montcroix sat up quickly, leaning back against the seat, his expression going blank. “Of course, if you’re not—"

“I am!” Freddie yelped, grabbing for his husband’s hands and drawing a chuckle from him. He cleared his throat, taking a deep breath to center himself. “You just surprised me.” He smiled back, tilting his head down so he could look up at Montcroix through darkened lashes, and was gratified to see the man’s cheeks flush. “I rather think I might enjoy playing Lady Montcroix, my lord,” he said, dropping his voice down to a more sultry register.

Montcroix groaned and used his grip on Freddie’s hands to pull him across the carriage and into his lap. “Hello, wife,” he murmured, arranging them so Freddie straddled his thighs, his knees braced on the seat and dress rucked up nearly to his waist.

“Husband,” Freddie agreed, cupping his face and leaning in to kiss him. Without the pressure of the ceremony hanging over them, the kiss was gentle, and Freddie savored the delicious little noises Montcroix made as they explored each other’s mouths. He tasted like tea with a hint of good brandy, and this close, his musky cologne couldn’t fully mask the clean scent of soap and sweat. Each jolt of the carriage pressed the hot brand of Montcroix’s arousal into the juncture of Freddie’s thighs, until he had to pull away, panting against his husband’s lips.

Montcroix dragged his mouth down the pale column of Freddie’s neck, biting and suckling hard enough to leave marks, and Freddie stuffed his fist into his mouth to keep from crying out. “Don’t,” Montcroix said, pulling Freddie’s hand from his mouth and brushing his lips over the indentations his teeth left on his knuckles. He pressed a damp kiss to the band of gold circling Freddie’s ring finger, the tip of his tongue darting out to caress the webbing between it and his pinky. “I want to hear you. I want to hear the noises you make when I give you pleasure. I want to hear you call my name when I make you come.”

“Your— Your name,” Freddie stuttered, his lust-soaked brain scrambling to remember what Montcroix had written on the church register.

He chuckled and licked at Freddie’s lips. “William. My name is William.”

Freddie gasped and leaned forward, pressing his forehead to Montcroix’s to gather his bearings. “William,” he breathed, the word both a curse and a prayer.

“I want to taste you,” he said, a hand dropping between them to cup Freddie’s cock.


Montcroix—William—laughed at his scandalized tone. “Of course here. We won’t be at my estate until near supper time, and I can’t wait that long to get my mouth around you.” He rubbed the heel of his hand against the underside of Freddie’s cock. “Say you’ll let me, love.”

Freddie bit his bottom lip and ground down against his husband’s hand, mind whirling with images of William on his knees. “Yes,” Freddie murmured, leaning in to nip at his lips. “Yes.”

William groaned and dug his fingers into Freddie’s hips, just under the end of his stays. Using that grip, he levered Freddie off his lap and back onto the seat, then dropped to his knees at Freddie’s feet. When he looked up, his blue eyes were nearly black with desire, and his lips were shiny and swollen from kisses. He grinned. “Don’t quiet yourself,” he said, then shoved Freddie’s skirt up to his waist, baring his underthings to the cool air of the carriage.

Freddie squeezed his eyes shut, unable to watch as Montcroix—as William—surveyed him. Big, warm hands cupped the back of Freddie’s silk-clad calves and pushed his legs apart, thumbs caressing the sensitive skin behind Freddie’s knees. Cool air caressed his cock, already hard and leaking, as it poked out from the split crotch of his bloomers, curving up toward the tight-laced stays that squeezed his body into a more feminine shape. “Lovely,” William breathed, leaning in to lick a drop of precome from the head.

Freddie whined out William’s name and buried his hands in the dark waves of his hair, forcing himself to watch as his cock disappeared into William’s eager mouth. Spit-slick lips stretched around the girth as the tip of a tongue flicked the sensitive spot under the head, and Freddie clenched his hands into fists, tugging sharply on William’s hair. He let go immediately, a stuttered “Sorry, sorry” falling from his lips, but William groaned around his cock and reached up for Freddie’s hands to put them back. He pulled off for a moment, lips even redder than before, and looked up into Freddie’s eyes. “I’d like it if you used my mouth.”

A whimper escaped Freddie’s mouth and his cock twitched. “You like that, love?” William asked, directing the question not to Freddie’s face, but to his cock.

“Yes,” he answered, voice breathy. “William, yes.”

“Good,” his husband said, swallowing Freddie’s cock nearly to the root in one swift move.

Freddie slammed his head against the back of the seat hard enough to hurt, but the bite of pain only added to his pleasure. He used his grip on William’s hair to direct him, thrusting upward easily at first, just testing, until William groaned around him. The vibration and the obvious enjoyment convinced him to do as William asked, and he fucked up into the warmth of his mouth. Freddie couldn’t help staring, watching as his cock disappeared into those beautiful lips, the head bumping up against the back of William’s throat. Every third or fourth thrust William’s nose brushed up against the nest of curls at the base of his cock, and his tongue never stopped teasing him. Before long, he tugged on William’s hair, babbling nonsense. “I’m—I can’t, William, I’m—”

Instead of pulling away, William redoubled his efforts, swallowing around the head of Freddie’s cock, and Freddie came in thick spurts into William’s mouth. His husband swallowed the first gush, then pulled off, letting the rest hit his face and his neck, too concerned with unbuttoning his falls and getting a hand on himself. As Freddie softened, he watched William wrap a big hand around his own cock, hiding all but the head from Freddie’s view. Forehead pressed against Freddie’s bare thigh, William jerked himself hard and fast, coming with a bitten-off cry after only a few strokes, his come spilling onto the floor of the carriage.

Exhausted, Freddie leaned back against the seat, petting the sweat-dampened hair beneath his hands. “Husband,” he murmured, smiling down at the messy face of the man still slumped between his legs.

William chuckled. “Husband,” he repeated. “I never thought I’d care to be a husband,” he said, still leaning heavily against Freddie’s leg. “War is hell, it’s true, but for men like us, Freddie, the military is heaven.” He nuzzled Freddie’s thigh, the hint of stubble sending a spike of desire through Freddie's spent cock. “When my brother passed, and I had to sell my commission—” He trailed off and Freddie used his thumb to carefully wipe some of his come from William’s face. “When my solicitor told me Arthur was betrothed to Avington’s daughter, I was furious with him. Not in the ground a month and still doing his damndest to ruin what little life I had left. If I could have raised him from the dead just to strangle him myself, in that moment, I would have.”

He stopped speaking, and Freddie ran his fingers through William’s damp hair, making soothing noises. After a long moment, William continued. “I read their correspondence--your sister and Arthur. She seemed pleasant enough, though it was clear how she felt about the blacksmith. I thought that perhaps we could come to some arrangement; I wouldn’t relish raising another man’s bastard, but if it left me free to pursue my own interests, it wouldn’t be so bad.”

When he didn’t continue, Freddie screwed up his courage and asked, “Did you know the whole time?”

William chuckled, pulling a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiping his face free of Freddie’s come and his own saliva. “Nearly, but I wasn’t sure until I saw your hands. Your hands are not a well-bred lady’s.” He reached up and pulled one of those hands down to kiss it. “Help me with my cravat?”

Freddie untied and retied the silk while William continued to kneel at his feet, rearranging it to disguise what had dripped from his chin. When he looked somewhat presentable, William tucked his soft prick back into his breeches and did up his falls, while Freddie rearranged his skirts.

Freddie offered William a hand and tugged him up to sit on the seat, leaning into William’s bulk. “William, when we reach your home—”

William shushed him with a single finger to his lips. “Hush. I employ a very small and very discreet staff. They expected me to return with a wife, and I have. The rest we shall work out as needed.”

With a sigh, Freddie relaxed a bit more. “Do they care that you—” he waved a hand at himself, “—that your tastes run toward men?”

He shook his head. “They have known me my whole life. My parents died when I was quite young, and Mr. and Mrs. Thompson practically raised Arthur and I. The day I left for France, Mrs. Thompson cried so hard my brother sent for a doctor.” He took Freddie’s hand and began tracing abstract shapes on his palm. “The village is small and close-knit, and so long as I keep the church and vicarage in good condition, they are willing to overlook any eccentricities I might possess.”

“That sounds lovely,” Freddie said, chest tight with emotion.

“I expect they will find you quite charming, dearest husband,” William said, leaning in to nip at Freddie’s earlobe, causing him to shiver in anticipation.

Freddie turned his head and caught William’s mouth with his own. Though he’d come only minutes before, his cock began to thicken under his skirt, and he reached for William’s, ready for a second round. William caught his hand before Freddie was able to rub it against his breeches. “I’m not as young as I used to be, love,” he said, smiling crookedly. “It’ll be a while before I’m ready to go again.” Freddie's whimper drew a chuckle from William. “That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with you, though,” he said, pulling up Freddie’s skirt.

Another low sound escaped Freddie’s throat at the feel of a dry, calloused palm wrapping around his erection. William stroked him slowly, rubbing his thumb over the slit on the upstroke, smearing precome over the head. “The joys of youth,” William said, his voice gravelly with lust. “How many times can you come in a night, do you think?”

Freddie groaned and reached up to grab hold of William’s shoulders. “I— I don’t— I don’t know,” he panted, unable to think coherently with William’s big hand encircling his cock.

William leaned in and pressed a wet kiss to the hinge of Freddie’s jaw. “Mmmm, perhaps we should test that theory sometime.” He laughed at the sound that Freddie made. “Yes, I think you like that idea.”

He sped up his strokes until Freddie was panting into his chest, pleasure blooming in his stomach—then his hand froze. Freddie swore as his orgasm receded, his cock twitching in William’s still hand. “William,” he gritted out.

“Freddie,” William replied, his tone just slightly teasing, but he started moving his hand again. The rough callouses scraped deliciously across the sensitive skin of his cock, and Freddie slumped forward in relief. “Patience is a virtue, love.”

“It is not one I possess at the moment,” he shot back, hissing when William squeezed his cock.

“Sometimes anticipation makes the finale all the sweeter,” William said, moving his hand again, slowly at first, but steadily growing faster. A callous on his forefinger rubbed against the sensitive spot under the head of Freddie’s cock, and Freddie's hips began moving of their own accord, chasing the sensation. He felt his orgasm building again, the sensation tightening in his stomach, and he whimpered into William’s chest. “It’s all right, love,” William murmured, his hand moving steadily on Freddie’s cock. “I won’t tease you any more. Let go now. Come for me.”

Those words, spoken in William’s rumbling voice, broke something inside him, and Freddie did as William commanded, coming in thick spurts over his hand. William continued to stroke him through it, stopping only when Freddie clumsily shoved at his hand with an over-sensitized whimper.

William released him, and brought his come-covered hand to his own mouth and began licking it clean. Freddie’s spent cock twitched painfully at the incredibly arousing image, and he groaned and forced himself to look away. “You’re impossible,” he muttered, flopping back against the carriage seat.

“I do delight in teasing you,” he said, chuckling. When Freddie managed to force his eyes open, William was cleaning Freddie’s come off with his already soiled handkerchief. He smirked at Freddie, leaning in for a lazy kiss.

The carriage jolted to a sudden stop, and, wide-eyed, Freddie scrabbled to make himself presentable, fixing his skirts and grabbing for his bonnet and gloves. A knock sounded at the door, and Freddie turned away, tying his bonnet on while William opened the door and had a hushed conversation with the driver. By the time Freddie was fully dressed again, the door had shut and William was frowning.

“What is it?”

William rubbed at the wrinkles that had appeared between his brows. “The bridge is out. There’s a way around, but it’ll take twice as long, and I expect those roads aren’t any better.” He sighed and looked apologetically at Freddie. “George is going to take us back to the nearest inn. We’ll have to stay the night.”

Freddie fiddled with the neckline of his dress, looking down at himself. “Well, no one can fault a newly married couple for spending their wedding night together, can they?”

William’s apologetic expression turned into a hungry grin. “No, I suppose they can’t.”

When they arrived at the inn, the courtyard was full of coaches and carriages, their occupants all trying to avoid the same drenching rain that had brought Freddie and William here. William left Freddie in the carriage while he inquired about a room; as he waited, Freddie was reminded of all the times Eleanor had complained about the limitations society placed on aristocratic women.

William was soaked through when he returned, dripping water all over the carriage floor. “I’ve good news and bad news. The good news is there’s a large room available for the evening. The bad news is the private dining room isn’t—too many people looking for shelter.”

Freddie nervously readjusted his pelisse. “Well, we can have them send up a tray. It’ll be, ah, easier that way, anyway.”

“I’ll have George pull the carriage up as close as possible. Keep my bride from melting in the rain,” he said with an impish grin.

Getting into the room without notice was easier than Freddie thought it would be. Apparently, the locals thought nothing of an overprotective baron escorting his young bride carefully through a dining room full of commoners, keeping her close enough no one could get a good look at her face.

Once they made it to the room--the best in the inn, the landlord had assured William--Freddie immediately peeled off his sodden pelisse. His arms, now bare, were damp and cold, and he couldn’t suppress a shiver. “I asked them to send up a bath in an hour or so,” William said, coming up behind him to rub his big hands against Freddie’s biceps. “Until then, I can think of one way to keep you warm.”

Freddie turned in his arms and pulled his husband down for a kiss. Water from his coat soaked through Freddie’s wedding dress, plastering the thin cotton to his front. He broke the kiss when the crick in his neck caused by their height difference became too much to bear.

Freddie pulled away and smiled up at William, enjoying the way his pupils darkened. He turned away, bending his head to expose the back of his neck. “Would you mind helping me with my buttons? I can’t quite reach them.”

Even through several layers of wet fabric, Freddie could feel William’s body heat as he stepped close and began carefully unhooking the satin-covered buttons. His fingers, so wide and masculine, were surprisingly delicate, popping each fastening easily from its corresponding loop. As each button released, William pressed a damp kiss to each bit of skin revealed, sending warmth through Freddie’s body to pool deep in his stomach.

Finally, the dress fell off his shoulders, the light blue fabric pooling at his stocking feet, revealing the corset and chemise he wore underneath. William lifted Freddie’s arms and wrapped them around his own neck, exposing Freddie’s corseted body to his hungry touch and pressing his own erection to Freddie's behind. William cupped the padded bust, slowly sliding his hands across Freddie's flat stomach, down to where Freddie's erection tented the fine lawn chemise. William rubbed his palm lightly against the head of Freddie's cock, teasingly, before dragging his fingers back up Freddie’s sides and to the ties of his stays.

It took several long moments to unlace the corset, which William dragged out even further, kissing and licking at each bit of skin he revealed. The stiffened fabric reluctantly released Freddie from its confines, and William helped him pull it off over his head. He dropped it on the floor and turned Freddie around to face him, peeling the chemise off in one easy motion, baring his chest. William traced the red marks left by the tightly-laced undergarment, first with his fingertips, then with his lips. Freddie's knees nearly buckled at the tenderness, even as his cock throbbed with want.

William undid the tapes holding the two legs of Freddie's bloomers to his waist, letting them flutter to the floor and leaving his naked cock free to bounce up against his stomach. William trailed his hand down Freddie's thighs, toying with the ribbons holding his silk stockings up. "I think we should leave these on,” William murmured.

Freddie nodded vigorously, voice stolen by the slow, reverent undressing. Uncertain and thrown off-balance by both the hungry look in William’s eyes and the contrast of his near-nakedness to William’s suit, he reached up to untie the silk cravat.

William caught his hands and stopped him, using his larger body to herd Freddie toward the massive bed. “I want to look at you first,” he said, and Freddie let himself be pushed down onto the soft mattress. “You are lovely, Freddie,” he said, dragging his fingers down Freddie's nearly hairless chest to pinch a flat nipple. Freddie gasped, and William chuckled. “Are these sensitive?” Freddie bit his bottom lip and nodded. “Do you think you could come just from me playing with your tits?”

His stomach clenched with want, the image of William sucking and playing with his nipples until he couldn’t control himself rose sharply in his mind. “I, uh, I don’t know,” he managed, his voice breaking. “We could try it some time?”

William leaned down and licked the nipple he’d pinched, his breath hot on Freddie’s bare skin. “I think we should. But tonight…” He trailed off and nudged Freddie’s legs apart, cupping his balls in one large hand before sliding a finger further back. William met Freddie’s gaze, a question in his eyes. “I’d like to fuck you,” he murmured, voice a delicious rumble.

Freddie had to squeeze his eyes shut at the filthy word and the image it elicited. He could almost feel William’s big, thick cock splitting him open, the strength in his muscular body completely focused on Freddie’s pleasure. “Yeah,” he gasped, opening his eyes to see William staring down at him, mouth gaping open. “Yeah, I want you to.”

Cursing, William began stripping out of his clothes like they were on fire, tossing his coat, cravat, and shirt into a heap on the floor before struggling with the falls of his breeches. He swore again when he realized he still had on his dress shoes, and Freddie took the opportunity to scoot up toward the headboard and observe his new husband.

His broad chest was covered with a thick mat of dark, springy curls, and his arms were thickly muscled, more like a laborer’s than an aristocrat’s. Scars littered his sun-bronzed skin, and Freddie gasped at one particularly jagged slash across his left pectoral. His stomach wasn’t quite flat, and that, more than the scars, made him look more like a human, and less like a fantasy dreamed up during an erotic fever dream.

He finally escaped from his breeches, letting his cock spring free, and Freddie finally got a good look at it. It was longer than Freddie’s own, and deliciously thick, with a slight curve to the left. The trail of hair that narrowed over his stomach continued into a dark nest at the base and sprinkled over two large, heavy testicles.

“Oh, oh my,” Freddie said, sitting up and reaching forward.

William grinned and climbed onto the bed, prowling toward Freddie on his hands and knees until he caged him under his much-larger body. “I like the way you look in my bed,” he said, leaning down to run his nose up the side of Freddie’s neck. He inhaled deeply, his chest expanding as he drew in Freddie’s scent. “You still smell a bit like a lady, Lord Montcroix,” he murmured, his deep voice sending a thrill through Freddie. “I think we ought to do something about that.”

He brought his mouth down and smashed it against Freddie’s, kissing him with more passion than artfulness. Freddie arched up, bracing his stocking feet against the bed to get enough leverage to rub his erection against William’s. It was only when they were both desperate for air that they broke the kiss, Freddie falling weakly back against the pillow while William kissed his way down Freddie’s body. He buried his fingers in William’s thick hair, moaning his name.

William groaned himself and nipped easily at Freddie’s nipples. “I could spend a whole night teasing you.” Freddie whimpered at the idea, causing William to laugh. “Not this time, though. This time…” He trailed off and crawled back up to kiss his lips. “This time I want your perfect little ass.”

“Yes, oh fuck yes,” Freddie swore, causing William to chuckle as he reached across to grab a small bottle Freddie hadn’t noticed sitting on the side table.

“Turn over for me?”

Freddie quickly flipped onto his stomach, letting William position him with his ass propped up in the air like a wanton. A slick finger slid between his cheeks, probing at his entrance for a moment before continuing down to drip oil on his balls. Freddie whimpered and pressed back, spreading his legs even further. “Please,” he said.

William chuckled, and his fingers returned to Freddie’s hole. “Greedy,” he murmured, pushing his forefinger in up to the first knuckle. Freddie tensed at the intrusion, and gasped at the small bite of pain as his muscles stretched.

William paused, and Freddie could hear him rearrange himself, leaning forward to kiss the small of Freddie’s back. “Have you not done this before, love?”

“I—” Freddie swallowed. “No,” he admitted, shoving his face into the pillow to hide his embarrassment. He tensed as he felt William’s finger slide out. “I want to!” he said, pushing up on his hands.

William groaned and pulled Freddie up onto his knees, using a dry hand to force his face to the side to kiss him almost violently while the slick one wrapped around Freddie’s cock. “A virgin bride,” he gasped, biting at Freddie’s lips. “I am the luckiest man alive.”

Freddie kissed him back, putting all his relief and arousal into the kiss. “Are you just going to talk about it, or are you going to do something about it?”

With a possessive growl, he shoved Freddie back down, pressing his face into the pillow. Freddie bit his lip to keep from crying out as his hole stretched around the thickness of first one finger, then two. “I’m going to bugger you until you scream, Frederick Montcroix, and then when you’ve come around my cock, I’m going to make you come again and again, until the only word you can remember is my name.”

Freddie whimpered as the two fingers inside him became three, and one brushed up against something that made his body light up with pleasure. He bit the pillow to keep from crying out as William continued to fuck him with his fingers, rubbing up against that spot every few strokes, just enough to keep him on edge but not enough to tip him over. He turned his head and gasped out William’s name. “Please, I need, I need—”

“Shhh, love, I’ll give you what you need,” William responded, pulling his fingers out and leaving Freddie’s hole empty and wanting. Before Freddie could complain, he replaced his fingers with his cock, the blunt head forcing its way past the first ring of muscle. Freddie tensed again, the pain more intense than before, and William leaned over, his cock just barely inside, reaching down to wrap his hand around Freddie’s cock. He stroked it back to full hardness—Freddie hadn’t even noticed it had wilted—and soon he was moaning in pleasure rather than in pain.

William slowly began thrusting, filling Freddie up a little bit at a time, until he was fully seated. He leaned forward, covering Freddie with his larger body, his chest hair scratching against Freddie’s back as he pressed soft kisses to the back of his neck. “Good?”

‘Good’ didn’t describe the sensation of being filled and surrounded that he was experiencing, but he couldn’t find the words to say so. Instead he only nodded, pushing back into William’s hips, silently begging for more.

William drew back just enough to have space to thrust in, forcing Freddie’s dick forward into William’s slick hand as he mouthed over the back of Freddie’s neck. The pleasure began to build deep in Freddie’s stomach, spiraling higher each time the head of William’s cock brushed up against that magic place inside him. He smashed his face into the pillow, squeezing his eyes tightly shut as he tried to stave off his impending orgasm and drag out the pleasure, but William was relentless, fucking him steadily through until he couldn’t help but spill onto the rough coverlet with a soft cry.

William didn’t withdraw when he came; instead he released Freddie’s cock and dug his fingers into Freddie’s hips, holding him in place for faster and more powerful thrusts. Each pump of William’s hips shoved Freddie forward on the bed, his oversensitive cock bobbing under him. “You’re so tight,” he groaned, his kisses turning to nips and bites as he chased his own orgasm. “If God took me now, I would die a happy man.”

“If you die now, we’ll never get to do this again,” Freddie shot back, his brain finally recovering from his orgasm. His dick valiantly tried to harden as William’s prick banged against that place deep in his body, but even his youthful stamina was spent. “I would be, ah, ah, very disappointed if that were the case.”

A wordless groan was his only answer as William’s rhythm faltered and he came, filling Freddie’s insides with liquid warmth. His significant weight bore Freddie down to the bed as his arms failed to hold him up, his cock still twitching, his body like a living blanket. He mumbled an apology against Freddie’s cheek for crushing him, but didn’t move for a long moment, finally rolling off and leaving Freddie dripping and empty.

Freddie turned over and sat up, looking down at his husband, his skin flushed with pleasure, his dark hair damp with sweat. William grinned dopily up at him, his blue eyes less like ice and more like a pond on a warm summer’s day. “Husband,” he muttered, “come here.”

Heart full, Freddie tucked himself up against William’s side, using his hard chest as a pillow. William curled an arm around him, pulling him closer, and Freddie threw one silk-clad leg over William’s thigh. “I must say, my day did not turn out quite how I expected when I put on that dress this morning.”

“Neither did mine,” William said, voice rumbling through his chest. “It turned out much better.”