John stood facing Percy, each man’s gaze locked on the other’s. Percy’s golden-brown eyes were liquid pools, his long lashes flicking with surprise. “You loved me?” he repeated, almost scared to believe it.
“Yes.” Now that he’d finally said it, the momentary weakness of uncertainty left Grey, and he could feel his strength rise within him. With one step, he closed the gap between them, set his right hand on the back of Percy’s dark curls, and kissed him soundly on those full, still-soft lips. They’d been in their twenties when they’d met, full of vigour and the lust for life. If John had allowed himself any personal dreams at all back then, he’d let most of them fall away over the years, of necessity. He’d lived a life of duty and devotion—duty to king and country, devotion to kith and kin, and particularly to an ideal of a man—a redheaded paragon of honour and strength who did not return his devotion. Eventually, he’d had no energy left for youthful hopes and fantasies. But now… Could they pretend they were young again?
Percy responded eagerly, his mouth and hands searching, unbuttoning John’s clothing just as quickly as he had that first night they’d shared. His rooms had been so cold then, they could see their breath in the air. Here and now, the morning sunlight flooded in, warming him. The sensation of it on his back alerted Percy to the window behind him, its curtains open to the street outside. “Come,” he told John, taking his hand and leading him into a darkened bedroom. He locked the door against any possible interruption from the maid and continued disrobing them both. Helping Grey off with his shirt, he gasped. “You’re more hurt than you said.” His fingertip lightly touched an angry four-inch bruise on John’s right side.
“I’m fine.” John’s eyes swept over Percy’s naked body, still lean and graceful if a bit softer around the waist than his twenty-six-year-old self. “You are beautiful still,” he said, as though he hadn’t seen him in years. They came together slowly, tentatively, strangely shy after John’s confession. Percy wrapped his arms around Grey and pulled him to the bed. “Be gentle with me,” John pleaded. His head had begun to throb dully, but other throbbing parts took precedence.
Instead of tumbling onto the mattress with him as he wanted to, Percy let John ease himself onto the bed and then climbed up beside him. Their lips found each other again, and their tongues darted into each other’s hungry mouths. “You had eggs and tea for breakfast?” Percy asked, smiling, as he pulled away. One hand smoothed over John’s chest, tracing the scars left behind from the shrapnel of a burst cannon.
Grey let his own hand wander, trailing over Percy’s angular hip and coming to rest at the steel-hard flesh of his manly sword. At this touch, Percy’s eyes grew darkly lustful. He turned over onto his lover, pushing hard against John’s prone form.
“Ouch!” John sucked in his breath and his free hand flew to his ribs.
“Oh, John, I’m sorry!” Percy raised himself up.
“Just a cracked rib, nothing to worry about,” Grey mumbled, gritting his teeth against the pain.
“You should have that wrapped up.”
“And you--” John seized Percy by the shoulders and flipped him, effectively trading places. “—should not tell me what to do!”
“Oh!” Percy laughed, both shocked and aroused by his partner’s resurgent strength. “I won’t bother telling you to be careful, then.” He shifted his weight to turn over, but John stopped him with a hand on his chest.
“Don’t—I want to look at you.” John felt the heat in his cheeks as he flushed a deep rose. Minute beads of perspiration dotted his forehead. His eyes took on the slightly unfocused look of a sky glimpsed through cloud and his lips were swollen and red. He swallowed, and Percy’s gaze moved from John’s face to the faint bump of his Adam’s apple nestled under a fine haze of dark stubble.
Percy stretched his arm out to a small table beside the bed. “Hurry.”
John opened the drawer, took out the bottle of oil he found there, and drizzled some onto his fingers. His eyes didn’t leave Percy’s as he spread the stuff onto Percy’s arse and slowly pushed a finger in, then swapped it for a thumb. Percy’s eyes rolled back as John gently stretched him open, and his knees bent higher. Kneeling, Grey took Percy’s right hand in his left, lacing their fingers together, and squeezed.
Ice-blue stared into buckwheat-honey eyes as John took him, feeling the heat of his lover’s body around his slippery cock. He grunted softly in reply to Percy’s open-mouthed pants, marveling in the expression of unhindered surrender to pleasure that he saw written on the other man’s face. Percy’s hand pressed his so tightly, the skin between John’s fingers hurt, but he returned the pressure and brought Percy’s leg to his shoulder, planting a quick kiss on the inside of his ankle. Then he closed a hand around Percy’s stiff cock and was rewarded with a loud groan. Percy was moaning openly now, and Grey hoped the maid wouldn’t hear. He kept watch on the younger man’s face, but it showed no signs of discomfort. Finally, John let himself go, giving in to the steadily building thrust of his desire and letting out his own unstifled groan. As though this sound were a secret password, Percy’s own dam burst, and his free hand closed over Grey’s as he jerked and shuddered with release.
“Do you now?” Percy whispered, his voice shaky with emotion. Their hands were still entwined, and John was still inside him.
“Do I what?” A thin ray of sun broke through a crack in the shutters and lit the greying hairs on John’s chest as it rose and fell.
Lord John thought only for a moment. “Yes, my dear. Yes, I believe I do.”