Chapter 1: Lord Adam Lambert
“Look at him,” Adam muttered, glaring across the ballroom at his new husband who was pulling at his cravat nervously with his hand. Adam sneered, shaking his head. He turned to his best friend, Bradley Bell, and let out a gruff sigh. “He looks as if he’s about to walk to his death.”
“Obviously he’s heard that the size of your cock would split him wide open on his wedding night and he’s suffering from nerves,” Brad whispered, snickering softly.
Adam rolled his eyes. “For the love of God, Bell, don’t remind me. Bedding him tonight is going to require me to remember every one of my dalliances just to be able to stay interested in the festivities.”
“Do you suppose he has any idea, you think?”
Adam snorted, loudly, causing several people to turn their disapproving gaze to him. He faked a cough into his curled hand and gave them a polite smile. Bell chuckled, raising his eyebrow.
“I don’t know why there is such a high price on virginity,” he said, bored. “But knowing Allen, he’s probably as pure and as boring as the driven snow.”
“Drink more champagne, love.” Brad said, patting him on his back.
Adam nodded and picked up a flute of champagne from a passing waiter. He drank it down in two gulps and then dropped the empty flute into the potted plant nearby. He stood, hands curled into fists, as he tracked Kris’s movement across the ballroom. He stopped beside a pretty blonde hair lady – Adam thought her name was Katherine something, a cousin from Ainsley – and he watched as Kris smiled for the first time. Smiled at her.
“Why are you so tangled up, old man?” Brad murmured, his eyes following Adam’s gaze to them. “Jealous?”
“No,” he said, his voice low and mean. “He’s an ungrateful little bastard. After everything that I’ve done for his family, he still believes that I’m beneath him, no better than the mud on his tattered leather boots, when I’m the one marrying below my station. If Mother hadn’t forced me to clean up my reputation, I never would’ve offered him a marriage contract.”
“Calm yourself, Lambert,” Brad said, his voice serious and cautious. “Your voice will carry and you know that everyone here would love to see a new scandal unfold before the night is over.”
“As if there’s anything to stop them,” he groused, taking a deep breath. Another waiter passed and Adam stopped him long enough to take another flute of champagne, drinking that one just as quickly. He hid the flute in the same place, adding a fourth empty glass to the potted plant holder.
He kept his eyes on Kris, narrowing them as his husband nodded his head and smiled warmly at Lady Katherine, listening eagerly to her as he lowered his head for her to whisper into his ear. Adam admitted to being a scoundrel and having a less than sterling reputation in Society. He enjoyed his drinking and gambling and horse racing and hunting. He wiled away his evenings in gentlemen’s clubs. He could be found smoking opium and drinking absinthe in the underground smoking rooms run by the Orientals. He was known for carousing the seedier districts of London in search of new adventures. Adam knew that he skated the fine line between gentlemanly behavior and impropriety. He was called out at least six times a year and faced his duels with smug anticipation and expertise.
He was a lot of things, but he was not a man who flirted with someone not his spouse on his wedding day!
Adam focused his angry glare at Kris and he sneered when Kris caught his glance, his face flushing slightly. He stop leaning towards Lady Katherine and stood stiff, hands behind his back, and quickly averted his gaze from Adam’s long stare.
“Bell, I think I’m going to need something a little stronger than champagne to get through the rest of this night,” Adam said, his teeth clenched, feeling his heart racing in his chest. He continued watching Kris, distant now with the young lady at his side, who was giving him worried glances. Kris kept looking over at Adam, his expression so obviously one of distress and guilt. “Make that a lot stronger.”
Sir Kristopher Allen
He was resigned to the idea that this was his life now, married to the notorious Lord Adam Lambert, exposed to a man who detested him and mocked him constantly. Kris kept up the pretense of being reserved but pleased all throughout the day while dreading that he would have to face his husband and…consummate their marriage.
The bedchamber was lit with a few candles, giving the room a warm and romantic glow. Kris was feeling quite the opposite. He fidgeted with his cravat and swallowed thickly, his heart jumping at the sound of footsteps in the hallway, waiting for the heavy tread to come towards the door.
He poured water into a small crystal glass and sat down on the velvet armchair by the bed. The covers were pulled down, the sheets clean and scented with violets. He was sure that the servants meant to make it look soft and inviting, but Kris saw it as his doom.
He drank the rest of the water and placed the empty glass on the small table beside him. He was too tense to sit back in the chair and he closed his eyes, wondering if a brief prayer wouldn’t help him through this night.
There was the sound of raucous laughter in the hallway, the heavy tread of footsteps, and strange thumping noises. Kris stood up, breathing heavily, heat flushing his face.
“Oy! Have a good night, Lambert!”
Laughter and muffled words.
Someone was opening the door. Kris frowned as Adam stumbled into the room, laughing rudely when he saw Kris standing in front of the chair.
“Ohhh, look, the groom is sweet anticipation,” Adam slurred, snorting loudly. He slammed the door shut and locked it. “Allen.”
“Lambert.” Kris said, softly.
He watched as Adam gazed at him, the light from the candles glinting in his eyes. He was taller than Kris, much bigger built, and while Kris was a good swordsman and duelist, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to physically take on Adam if they came to blows.
“Well, my lovely little husband, why don’t you take off your clothes and show me what I’ve paid for, hmm?” Adam said, leaning his hip against the bed.
“I beg your pardon?”
Adam snorted, looking at Kris, slyly. “Yeah, you’re going to be doing some begging, but not for my pardon.”
“You’re drunk,” he said, quietly, trying to diffuse the situation at hand. “Perhaps you should just sleep this off and we can discuss this in the morning, like gentlemen.”
“Discuss this in the morning like gentlemen?” Adam said, laughing loudly. “Sir, I think you have me confused with someone else. I am no gentleman.” He fell on the bed and smirked at Kris, patting the bed in front of him. “Come here, little husband.”
Kris stood straight, teeth clenched in annoyance. “I think not.”
“Don’t make me chase you around this room because that, my friend, will definitely get my blood up.”
“You’re in no shape to—“ Kris startled at how quickly Adam moved, standing and taking a couple of steps until he was standing in front of him. He resented the fact that he had to tilt his head back to be able to meet Adam’s eyes. “Lambert, what—“
“Every word out of your pretty mouth is to just tease me,” Adam murmured, softly. He pinched Kris’s chin with his fingers and bent down to kiss him. It shocked him into stillness. Adam’s fingers were firm on his face, his lips soft, but Kris blanched at the smell of alcohol thick on his breath. He moved his face away and Adam growled, pulling him back and kissing him hard, tongue probing into his mouth.
Kris took a step and backed into the chair behind him, catching him behind his knees until he fell back on the cushions. Adam looked at him and laughed, raising his eyebrows.
“But then again, I like a good chase,” Adam murmured, placing his hands on top of the chair and leaning down to kiss him again.
Kris pushed past him, standing up and walking to the middle of the room. “Lambert, I insist that you stop this now before we regret what may happen.”
“You’re going to deny me my rights?” Adam said, grinning at him. “I distinctly remember the vows that you made to me today.”
He took a deep breath, trying to stay calm. “And I intend to meet all of my marital duties to you, but you are not in your right mind and I—“
Kris found himself staring at the ceiling, breathless, pinned by Adam’s heavy body to the soft mattress. Firm hands moved over him – expertly undoing his cravat, unbuttoning his jacket and vest, his linen shirt ripped open so that the buttons popped off its threads, pulling on the hidden hook-and-eye of his slacks, more buttons flying off to everywhere.
“I’ve wanted you for so long and all this time you’ve done nothing but deny me,” Adam hissed at him, hands stripping him quickly of his clothes, pushing his pants to his knees.
“Adam, I’ve never done—“
He kissed him, licking into his mouth wetly. Kris made a face and turned his head away, completely put off by the sour taste of his mouth. Adam growled and then grabbed Kris’s wrist, pinning one arm on the bed above his head. Kris let out an angry groan when Adam’s other hand slipped between their bodies, touching him.
Adam kissed him again, shoving his tongue into Kris’s mouth. He nearly gagged and bit Adam’s lip in retaliation.
“Son-of-a-bitch!” Adam grunted, licking his lip and then looking down at Kris. They stared at each other, panting heavily, and Adam chuckled down at him. “No more rules.”
Kris gulped as Adam lifted off of him and turned him on his stomach. Kris tried to move away, his feet and legs tangled with his pants and shoes, but Adam grabbed the back of his neck and held him down. “Adam! Let me go!”
He heard the sound of the bedside drawer opening and closing shut. Adam returned, his knee pressing into the small of Kris’s back, but letting go of his neck. He turned to see Adam pouring a small jar of oil onto his back. He flinched at the coldness of the thick oil and his eyes widened as he realized what the oil was going to be used for.
Adam lifted his knee off his back, but pressed between his thighs instead. A warm hand moved roughly over his bared ass. He dug his other knee and Kris struggled against the tangle of pants, finding that the only way to accommodate both of Adam’s knees between his legs was to arch his back, his hips lifting into the air. “Hmmm…very nice, love, very nice.”
“This is—“ Kris moaned at the feel of a slick finger moving into him. He closed his eyes, hands gripping the bed sheets tightly. “Adam, I can’t—“
He groaned, teeth pressed into the bedding, as two fingers pushed into him. He squirmed, trying to move away, trapped beneath Adam’s hold on him. This was not what he was expecting. He had heard that there was pleasure, but all he felt was an aching throb. He tried to twist away when Adam took his fingers out of him but he let out a shocked cry when he felt something thicker push into him.
Adam groaned deeply, his chest pressed against Kris’s back. The pressure was unbearable and Kris dug his nails into the bed, biting back the angry, frustrated scream. He panted wetly through his mouth, drooling a bit on the sheets. He hated the smell of violets.
“Fuck,” Adam said, breathing harshly against his ear, thrusting into him hard and merciless. “Oh fuck.”
Kris knew he couldn’t move away, but he twisted, trying to find a more comfortable position, trying to relax enough so that it would be over soon. Every time he moved, Adam tightened his hold on Kris’s hips, his thrusts becoming faster, erratic, and shallow.
“Yes,” Adam murmured, turning Kris slightly to his side. “Fuck, yes.”
He closed his eyes and panted through the discomfort, praying that it would be over soon. He could feel Adam’s hot breath against the back of his neck, the loud moans of his pleasure against his ear. Adam’s hands slipped over his hips, moving up and down the front of his body, large hand palming his uninterested cock.
Kris stopped moving, a flush of shame and regret and…disappointment flooding through him. Adam muttered more curses, a high pitched whimper spilling out of his mouth, until he gave a few more thrusts and held himself tight against Kris, grinding against him.
“Ahhhh…fuck,” Adam muttered, panting. He moved carelessly off making Kris wince, hissing at the slight pain as he pulled out. He turned his head to watch as Adam rolled on his back, eyes closed, chest heaving.
Carefully, Kris moved away from him and slipped off the bed. He held onto the bed post, pulling down his boots. He untangled his pants, ripped and ruined, and took off his socks. He didn’t look at Adam, whose breathing had deepened into sleep. Instead, he looked for his clothes, knowing that there was no way he’d ever wear them again, and bundled them up. He stood up and his legs trembled; he closed his eyes, taking a moment to just center himself.
He felt wetness drip down the back of his leg and he was utterly humiliated and disgusted, walking towards the water closet for a moment of privacy. A candle flickered in the small room, giving him just enough light to pour water into the basin so he could wash the stains of his wedding night off his body.
His body felt sore and a wave of unexpected rage flooded him so intensely that he had to lean against the wall to catch his breath. When he felt like himself again and calm, he thought about what happened. He had heard so many stories about Lord Adam Lambert: scoundrel, rake, sexual predator. Kris didn’t know why people craved sex. He didn’t find it all that interesting; mostly humiliating; extremely uncomfortable. Perhaps only the one who was on top enjoyed it, found pleasure in it. Adam certainly did.
Kris threw the hand towel into the basin, disgusted with himself, with Adam, with everything. He reached for the silk robe hanging behind the door and slipped it on, tying the sash. He felt much better. The marriage was consummated, that was all that mattered. In the morning, they would lead their separate lives. He would insist on his own set of rooms in the manor. He had his music and his books. The marriage brought financial security for his family and their estates. His younger brother would now be eligible to enter Society proudly. Kris had fulfilled his duty to his family and to his husband. After all, Kris was resigned to the fact that this was his life and he didn’t expect that there would be anything more. He just hoped that living with Adam would be tolerable; that he wouldn’t make any more demands on Kris’s body. They would be polite, seeing each other at meals and making some conversation about the weather or business or Society. Kris gave a soft sigh, his hand shaking as he reached for the doorknob.
So why did he feel utterly stupid for being so disappointed? What was so great about Adam Lambert anyway?
Chapter 2: Lord Adam Lambert
5 YEARS BEFORE
Adam leaned against the marble column, his riding clothes still damp from the unexpected torrential rain. Ahhh, he had not missed England’s fickle weather. He smiled, looking off into the distance, a light fog rolling over the greenery alive with life, and inhaled the sweet scent of earthy moss and grass around the abandoned mausoleum.
Well, he would be here for a while longer. He swept off his long coat, shaking water from it before placing it on the floor. He unbuttoned his jacket and slipped it off as well, tossing it on top of his coat. With a sigh, he untied his cravat and looked at the brilliant blue silk with some regret – no doubt it was completely ruined now – and dropped it on top of his jacket. He unbuttoned his sleeves at the wrists and at the neck, enjoying the looseness, and he took a deep breath.
He could see the short rays of sunlight coming through the clouds and fog above, but still a ways off before the rains stopped enough that he could continue his travel to his Aunt’s estate in Staffordshire. Adam closed his eyes, his shoulders pressed against the cool marble, when he heard the rushed footsteps of someone running across the wet grass. He turned his head to see a slender form in dark blue running for cover under the mausoleum’s protective awning.
Adam bit his lip and stood straight, watching the young man shake the water from his brown hair, looking himself over. He was at least a head shorter than Adam, but well put together – lovely bottom – and Adam cleared his throat to announce his presence. Perhaps his afternoon was not a complete loss. There would be nothing better than to spend a couple of hours, lounging naked on top of their damp clothes, enjoying the quiet freedom of being away from Society.
The young man turned and smiled, shyly, giving Adam a short, formal bow. “I see that I’m not the only one foolish enough to be caught out in this rain.”
Adam gave him a bow with a bit of a flourish, smiling widely at him. “I’d rather be fool together than fool alone.”
The stranger took a couple of steps closer to Adam, a blush on his cheeks. He looked up at Adam and smiled. “I’ve not seen you in Staffordshire before. What brings you to the country, sir?”
“Visiting my Aunt,” he said, softly. “My Mother thought it would be best for my well-being that I spend a few weeks getting some country air.”
Adam watched as the young man chuckled, ducking his head. “Got into a bit of trouble in the city, did you?”
“What a highly improper question, sir! And the answer is a very resounding yes.” Adam said and then laughed. He leaned against the wall, willing the brown haired man to come closer. “I didn’t know men of our age still blushed.”
“Pardon my impropriety,” he said, biting his smile and turning a warm pink. He took a deep breath and looked up at Adam. “I suppose that my time in the country has made me far too curious for news of London. Have you anything interesting to share?”
“Only scandalous news, I’m afraid,” Adam said, turning to look at the young man who was now standing just a step or two from him. He could reach out and touch his face, cup the back of his head, and pull him close for a kiss. “Highly inappropriate topics, not fit for speaking in good company, and will probably make you blush even more.” He chuckled, licking his lips. “Do you blush all the way down below your shirt collar, I wonder?”
He was pleased to see that that didn’t scare off his new acquaintance. Perhaps he was another adventurous soul, someone who would be a match for Adam, someone who wasn’t so prudishly beholden to the rules of Society. The young man gave a quiet laugh and looked at Adam with interest.
“Then perhaps it would be best to stick to topics that won’t make me blush,” he said, lowering his eyes to look at Adam’s mouth. “I wouldn’t want to tempt you into finding out how far my blush extends.”
Adam laughed, tossing back his head. “Oh now I must know. Here, let me help you remove your cravat.”
He reached for the wet ivory colored cravat, stepping close enough to feel the heat of his body. It was impossible to ignore the desire in the young man’s eyes. His hand slipped across the soft, heated skin and into the damp hair. He bent close and just brushed his lips against the stranger’s mouth, smiling when he felt the other man let out a breath.
Adam was not a patient man. He took his delights where he could get them. And the young man trembling against him was definitely a delight that Adam couldn’t possibly pass up. He kissed gently, not wanting to scare off someone who could be his new lover. He licked that plush bottom lip, murmuring sounds of want before he sucked it into his mouth. He felt strong hands on his arms, clutching at him. There was a tentative lick and Adam moaned, his hands grasping the young man’s head, deepening the kiss now that he was invited, and tasted the inexperienced mouth.
He let out a disappointed groan when the stranger pulled away too soon, flustered and red and nervous. Adam sighed, letting him go, and smiled as he watched the other man touch his lips with his fingers.
“An honor to be your first kiss,” Adam murmured to him.
“How do you know that that was my first kiss?”
“You don’t strike me as the type who would give his kisses away so freely,” he said, cocking his head. “I’m tempted to ask for more.”
The young man laughed, stepping back and shaking his head. “Forgive me, sir, but I cannot lure you to your doom. I will behave.”
“Pity,” Adam murmured, biting his bottom lip as he grinned. He was surprised by his attraction to the mysterious stranger; and surprised that the young man, who was so obviously well bred, would flirt with him so. “I wish to know you better, sir.”
“I agree,” he said, taking a step towards Adam. “My name is Kristopher Allen of Conway. My close friends call me Kris.”
Adam stood straight, the smile falling from his face. “Adam Lambert.”
He watched, morbidly fascinated, as the man’s face was one minute someone who was open for courting and now closed off, a frown forming on his lips. He inhaled sharply and took three steps back, looking up at Adam as he were…well…Adam knew exactly what Kristopher Allen thought of him.
“I see,” Adam said, giving him a wicked smile. “So my reputation proceeds me, even to the country.”
“I don’t think there’s any place on this earth that your reputation does not proceed you,” Kris said, his voice tight and choked.
Adam laughed, bitterly. “Do tell, Mr Allen, what you’ve heard of my reputation.”
“It’s not proper to speak of it,” Kris said, shaking his head. “And I would not add to your ego by reminiscing your past conquests.”
“Past conquests?” Adam said, raising his eyebrow. “And have you any proof?”
“And you haven’t heard the latest? I was riding through the country and met a young man who was very willing to let me kiss him. Just wait, Mr Allen, as news filters to the country of my latest exploits. I’m sure you’ll be quite astonished and offended. I’m sure it will put a very deep blush on your cheeks.”
“There is no need to so callous, Mr Lambert,” Kris said, softly. “I did not mean to offend you.”
“But you did,” Adam stated, coldly. “And who are you to judge me, Allen? I believe it takes two people to kiss.”
“I have called out men for less, sir,” he said, standing to his full height and glaring down into pretty brown eyes. “You injure me by throwing my reputation in my face when you, one minute ago, added to it.”
“Everywhere I go, I am always dealing with this fuckery.”
Kris swallowed, eyes widening at the curse word.
Adam smirked, rolling his eyes. “Lord save me from good little boys.”
“Perhaps you should try to live a more gentlemanly lifestyle.”
Adam glared at him. “You prudish little snot. You’re going to lecture me after nearly begging me to kiss you?”
“I did not beg!”
“You were the one looking up at me with your big brown eyes wanting a little impropriety.”
“I did no such thing!” Kris shouted, his hands curling into fists. Adam wondered if he was even capable of fisticuffs – and if he was so inclined, Adam was an expert in various forms of fighting.
“Deny it all you want, sir, but I know when I am being seduced.”
Kris stared at him, biting his lips, nervously. His hands clutched at the hem of his jacket. “I shall take your leave now.”
“Good day, sir.”
“I think…we should not speak of this again.”
Adam snorted, rolling his eyes. “Don’t think so highly of yourself, Mr Allen, it was hardly a kiss that bears any kind of remembering. After all, I’ve engaged in far more sordid pastimes than just giving a boy his first kiss.”
He watched as Kris flushed a deep red. He couldn’t help but to laugh as the young man turned on his heel and walked hurriedly into the rain.
“Go ahead, run away little boy!” Adam called, meanly. He let his loud laughter follow Kristopher Allen.
Adam closed his eyes and sighed, leaning heavily against the marble, flinching at the cold through his damp shirt. Well, bloody hell, another mark on his reputation no doubt: Seducing virgin boys in the rain – that actually had a lovely ring to it. He laughed, mirthlessly, and crossed his arms in front of his chest. It was a nice kiss; and he was sorry to have lost someone who might have been a friend. It was so obvious that Kristopher Allen was interested in him, before he knew his name, and Adam let himself imagine, just for a few minutes, what countless pleasures he could’ve given him.
Sir Kristopher Allen
It had been two weeks since Lord Adam Lambert arrived in Staffordshire, infusing the quiet country with a whirlwind of lively gossip. He was so unconventional, so untethered by Society that Kris wondered how it was that Lambert was still able to enter the homes of respectable families. There was an element of child-like wonder in the way that Lambert approached life; so perhaps that was forgivable in the eyes of his Peers and especially his doting Aunt Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi, the beloved Italian Countess. She was noted for being unconventional as well but nowhere in the same league as Lambert.
Kris would’ve happily ignored Lambert’s presence in the country. They had attended a number of balls since his arrival and neither was predisposed to speak to one another beyond their formal introduction by the Countess.
“Kristopher, my dear Kristopher, this is my darling nephew, Adam Lambert. I hope that the two of you will become such good friends,” she said, smiling widely at them.
“Lord Lambert,” Kris said, stoically.
“Sir Allen,” Adam said, equally emotionless.
He would’ve happily ignored Lambert for the rest of his stay except that Lambert had designs on Kris’s cousin from Boston, Cale Mills. He watched, stunned, as Lambert befriended Cale, giving him his full attention that bordered on scandalous behavior. And Cale was so good-hearted, he only laughed when Kris tried to tell him about Adam’s past. Kris could only watch as Cale happily accepted each date with Lambert; and he could not risk saying anything to Mother or anyone else who could put a stop to their continued meetings.
“You cannot go riding with him, Cale,” Kris said, urgently.
“Why on earth not? I like him, Kris.”
Kris followed Cale as he headed for the stables. “Please, Cale, he’s nothing but trouble. His reputation—“
“Kris,” Cale said, stressing his name loudly. “I am of age and do not need mothering from you. We are good friends who are going riding across the countryside. There are plenty of people who do this without a chaperone or having to worry about virtue.” He grinned at Kris, leaning close to him. “And honestly, if I’m going to lose my virtue to anyone, I’d rather it be to him.”
“No,” Kris said, putting his hand on Cale’s shoulder. “Reconsider. This is going to end badly.”
“I love you, cousin, but you really need to let it go.”
Kris watched as his cousin took the reins from the groomsman, getting on his horse expertly. He grinned down at Kris and waggled his eyebrows.
“I should be back for supper,” Cale said, chuckling. “And if I’m not, please make my excuses to your Mother.”
“Cale!” Kris called after him, watching helplessly as Cale rode quickly away.
By supper, Cale had not returned. Kris sat pale and silent at the dinner table as his Mother and younger brother watched him.
“Is Mr Mills not joining us for supper?” David asked, softly.
Kris gave a small smile. “I believe he’s out riding. Perhaps he lost track of time.”
One of the servants entered the dining room carrying a small silver tray in her hands. She dropped a polite curtsey to Kris’s Mother and held out the tray for her, a small envelope sitting in the center of the tray.
His Mother opened the note and then let out a soft chuckle. “I believe Cale is having supper with Lord Lambert and the Countess this evening. He will return in the morning after breakfast.” She tucked the card and envelope back on the tray. “How lovely of them to invite him for a longer visit.”
Kris swallowed his wine and stared at his plate, feeling his appetite leave him. His Mother was speaking to David about his studies and Kris fought down his nausea to make sure to join in the conversation. His continued silence would only cause his Mother concern and for her to question him until she had her answers. Kris would never reveal what he knew about Lambert. No doubt his Mother knew the stories, too, but they would never speak of it together. Kris wasn’t sure why he was feeling so angry and so…he gripped his silverware tightly in his hand, composing his face to look interested in David’s lively conversation.
Cale returned after breakfast, his cheeks ruddy from the ride. He gave Kris a certain kind of smile that made Kris’s stomach tighten. He motioned for Kris to follow him to his rooms on the second floor of the house. Kris closed the door and watched Cale remove his riding jacket, tossing it on the chair.
Cale laughed, falling on the bed and sighing deeply. “He is very much everything people say that he is.”
Kris balked, his mouth opening. “You…with him?”
“My blushing cousin,” he said, laughing softly. “We kissed and touched, but I did not cross that line with him.”
He watched as Cale rolled on his back, arms akimbo, sighing happily at the ceiling. “He has the most talented mouth. And his hands, Kris, his hands are so big and they are so strong and gentle at the same time. I would’ve done anything for him if he had asked. I’m sure that I begged him for more at some point, but he just smiled and said that he wasn’t as easy as everyone claimed him to be, that he enjoyed a little wooing, too.”
“I can’t believe this,” Kris said, frowning at him. “He abused his hospitality—“
“Oh, he did no such thing,” Cale said, rolling his eyes. “He was a complete gentleman—“
“Gentleman? That was not gentlemanly behavior, Cale!”
Cale turned to look at Kris for a long moment. “What are you so upset about anyway? It’s not like it happened to you.” Kris could feel his cheeks heat up and Cale sat up on the bed, looking at him closely. “Hmm…but you’d like it to happen to you.”
“No,” Kris said, shaking his head. “No, Cale, it’s not like that.”
“Then what is it?”
Kris bit his lip, dropping his eyes to the floor. “I know what kind of a scoundrel he is, Cale. He is the worst kind of seducer.”
“Did he hurt you?”
“No!” Kris said, looking at him. “He caught me by surprise. We…kissed.”
Cale’s eyes widened and his mouth curled into a sly smile. “So you’re just jealous then.”
“No! For God’s sake, Cale, I’m not! I’m not jealous,” he said, frustrated beyond belief. “He’s a seducer and a liar and—and—he can’t be trusted. You shouldn’t be alone with him. He’ll ruin your reputation. He’s spent the past few years bedding people without a care to their reputation. There are rumors that he trawls rent boys and—“
Cale chuckled, shaking his head. “Good Lord, Kris.” He stared at Kris for a long time, it made Kris uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure what his cousin saw on his face and he was afraid that Cale would misinterpret it. “He hasn’t ruined your reputation.”
“That’s because we do not speak of it – or speak to each other.” Or, truthfully, because Lambert didn’t feel it was memorable enough to want the notoriety.
“All I can say is that you’re really missing out,” he said, arching his eyebrow at Kris. “He is quite a good lover—“
“Cale, please, don’t speak about this to anyone,” Kris said, firmly. “You will be the one blamed for the indiscretion, not him.”
His cousin merely smiled and gave him a wink. “You know, you English really are uptight. In Boston, none of this would matter. Maybe you should come spend a few months with me. All these formal rules are so confusing, Kris, it’s a wonder anyone ever gets to have some fun.”
“It’s not the kind of fun I’m interested in.”
Cale raised his eyebrow. “Really?” He gave Kris a long look. “So you don’t take yourself in hand when the urge strikes?”
Kris felt his face heat up and knew he was completely red. “Cale—“
“I’ll take that as a no,” Cale murmured, smiling at him. “I think you should try it. Adam says that there’s no harm in enjoying it. He has such wickedly good hands. I’m pretty sure I screamed when he finally—“
“Oh God!” Kris said, backing out of the room. He opened the door quickly and nearly ran out of the room, breathing hard, trying to push the images of Lambert’s hands out of his head.
The Countess seemed to hold a ball every Saturday evening during the summer months. All of Staffordshire took advantage of the chance to attend every ball, the only real form of distraction in the country. Kris didn’t want to attend, but he knew that his Mother and brother enjoyed them, and they could not go if he didn’t attend. Since the passing of his Father, Kris was the head of the Allen family and it was his duty now to escort his Mother and younger brother.
Kris greeted the Countess with a kiss to her hand. He gave a brief and formal bow to Lambert, who returned it without meeting his eyes. He turned to see Adam take Cale’s hand in greeting, his stone face breaking into a warm smile, blue eyes lighting with mirth as Cale spoke about wanting to go hunting with Adam when he had a chance.
“What a lovely idea! I shall host a hunting party in a few days,” the Countess said, laughing warmly at Cale. “Oh Adam, he is such a dear.”
“Yes, he is,” Adam said, bowing his head to Cale. “I’ll see you soon.”
“I’ll be waiting,” he said, chuckling softly.
Kris pulled Cale away, throwing a glance at Adam. When they found a corner of the room, Kris looked up at his cousin. “What are you doing?”
“You’re openly flirting with Lambert! People will talk!”
“Good Lord, cousin, get a grip,” Cale said, sighing. “We are friends and friends are friendly.”
“That was not friendly!”
“That was friendly!”
Kris took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
Cale snorted, rolling his eyes. “Maybe you should do something stupid now and then, Kris.”
Throughout the night, Kris kept an eye on Cale and Adam. The black haired devil was acting like a gentleman, but Kris knew it was just a façade. He stayed close by, frowning at every loud laugh Cale and Adam shared. He glared when Adam placed his hand on Cale’s back – it was innocent and there was nothing improper about it, but Kris felt it was going a little too far. He moved closer towards them, intending to pull Cale away, when he caught their quiet conversation.
“—you kissed him.”
“Actually, I was teasing him and he practically asked for it,” Adam said, softly.
Cale chuckled. “He really seems to dislike you, though I’m not sure why.”
“There’s no logic behind prejudice, Cale,” Adam murmured into Cale’s ear. “Come upstairs and meet me in my rooms.”
Kris inhaled sharply and they turned to look at him. He narrowed his eyes at Adam. “You once said that I didn’t have proof of your reputation. I heard your proposition.”
“Kris, it’s not what—“
“If you decide to cause a scene, take into consideration what it will do to your cousin,” Adam drawled, looking at him, smug and full of himself.
“We are leaving,” Kris announced, taking Cale’s arm and leading him away. He was seething inside, angry on Cale’s behalf that Adam would be so callous to simply ask Cale to—
“Let go of me, Kris!” Cale jerked his arm from Kris’s grip. He turned, furious green eyes looking at him. “I am not a child – and more importantly, I am not under your protection. I am my own man and I’ll do what I like.”
“Cale, don’t say that. You don’t know what he’s like!”
“You don’t know what he’s like!” Cale retorted, meanly. “You wish you were the one that he asked to his rooms, but you’re too much of a coward to go to him like a real man.”
“I beg your pardon?”
Cale glared at him. “Adam told me everything about what happened between you.”
“Nothing happened between us!”
“Then why are you acting like a jealous and spurned lover?”
Kris shook his head, frowning deeply. “I’m not. I’m only looking out for you.”
“That excuse is more pathetic than I can say,” Cale told him, softly. He placed his hand on Kris’s shoulder. “You have to get over this, Kris.”
He watched as Cale made his way through the house, not even bothering to look around as he headed for the curved staircase. Kris curled his hands into fists, taking deep breaths, as Cale walked confidently up the steps, a smile of anticipation on his lips. He kept watching until Cale disappeared and Kris swallowed hard the bitterness he tasted in his mouth.
“He’s quite remarkable,” Adam said, standing behind him.
Kris turned, meeting his eyes. “How dare you—“
“Just remember that it could’ve been you, Kristopher.” Adam murmured, smiling wickedly at him. He lifted his eyes up to the stairs. “I’m sure Cale will have some lovely stories to tell you tomorrow…if I let him leave my bed. Good night, sir.”
Kris burned. He watched Adam walk up the stairs; and Adam turned to smile at him as he turned the corner to the hallway. Kris burned with something close to hatred…but it wasn’t hatred. He didn’t know what it was, this burning in his stomach, but it hurt him and it angered him at the same time.
He stalked outside to the nearest balcony, pulling at his suddenly tight cravat, distracted by thoughts of how Adam was debauching his cousin. He gripped the stone railing, staring at the happy couples below in the gardens, laughing and dancing and kissing by the light of the garden torches.
It was for Cale’s good; he was doing this to protect Cale’s virtue and reputation. There were others who were deserving of his cousin and none of them were Adam Lambert.
He walked quietly down the hallway, pressing his ear against each closed door. He saw candlelight flickering under the gap of a door and he walked towards it. He could hear soft moans behind the thick door and he placed his hand on the door knob, silently praying that it was not locked. It turned in his hand and Kris pushed the door open. He entered the room, his eyes adjusting to the candlelight. He walked towards the large bed and stared at the two men tangled on the bed.
They both stopped and Adam lifted his head to look at Kris. He smirked, raising his eyebrow at him. “Come to join us, have you?”
“Kris, what are you doing here?” Cale panted out at him. He tried to push against Adam, who was lounging over him, completely at ease in front of Kris.
Kris picked up what looked like Cale’s clothes and walked around the bed, pushing Adam off of his cousin. He didn’t dare look at their nudity. Instead, focusing on looking at their faces. He dragged Cale off the bed and threw his clothes at him. “Get dressed. Now. We’re leaving.”
“Get dressed or I will call Mother and you can explain to her what you were doing here!”
Adam snickered. “I’m fairly certain that your Mother will know exactly what he was doing here.”
“You—“ Kris breathed loudly. “Shut up.”
Cale was getting dressed quickly. He gasped, midway to pulling on his socks. “Kris, what is wrong with you?”
Kris glared at him. “Get dressed and get out of here. Now, Cale!”
“Fine!” Cale shouted, pulling on his jacket.
Kris waited until Cale was finished and had left the bedroom. He turned his hard gaze on Adam. “How dare you?”
Adam sighed, turning on his side, not a bit shy at showing himself to Kris. His hand rubbed at his lower belly and Kris couldn’t help but stare at the hard cock just below his hand. He looked quickly away.
“How dare I what, Kris?”
“He’s not one of your prostitutes! Cale is a good man and—“
“I never considered him to be a prostitute. I happen to like him. We have a great deal in common.”
Kris sneered. “What could he possibly have in common with you?”
“You are the most insulting brat I have ever encountered,” Adam said, standing up. He grinned at Kris, leaning against the bed post. “Tell me, Kris, why are you here?”
“I came to prevent Cale from making a mistake.”
“And yet you are still here,” Adam murmured, running his hand down his chest, eyes lowered seductively. “Do you regret insulting me now, Kristopher?”
Kris snorted. “Hardly. You are and will always be a libertine.”
Adam laughed. He pushed away from the bed post and stood in front of Kris, placing his hand on Kris’s neck, lifting his chin so that he would have to move his head back to meet Adam’s gaze. “I don’t deny it. What else? Come on, call me another name.”
“Scoundrel. Rake. Villain. Debaucher. Seducer. Whoremonger.”
“Whoremonger!” Adam said, laughing softly. “I like that one. Is it new? Or is that from you?”
Kris felt something unfurl in the pit of his stomach. It was the same heat that he felt that day at the mausoleum when Adam had teased him about removing his cravat. He closed his eyes when he felt Adam’s thumb move over his bottom lip, inhaling sharply. He couldn’t stop the soft groan when he felt Adam’s wet tongue slide across his bottom lip. He reached for his arms and groaned again when he felt smooth, warm skin.
Adam chuckled against his lips and Kris panted against his mouth, whimpering when Adam swept his tongue into Kris’s mouth, teasing against the roof his mouth. Kris shivered from the sensation and took a step closer to Adam, pressing against him. He could feel Adam’s hardness against his hip. He let out a throaty sound when Adam kissed along his jaw, sucking on his earlobe, one hand slipping down his back to palm his behind, pulling him in even closer.
“Anything you want,” he said into Kris’s ear.
“Tell me what you want.”
“Adam, darling, are you in here?”
They froze at the door opened and the Countess entered the room. Her smile froze as she stared at them, her eyes widening. Quickly, she looked away and cleared her throat.
“Forgive the intrusion, darling, but I believe Mr Allen’s Mother is ready to leave. Mr Mills said that he was here with you but…”
“If you’ll give me a moment, Aunt, I’ll make sure Mr Allen is presentable,” Adam said, turning so that Kris’s back was towards her, giving Kris a chance to hide his shame.
“Of course.” She said and then closed the door as she stepped into the hallway.
“Ohmygod,” Kris muttered, moving away. He couldn’t even look at Adam. He was trembling, on the verge of tears. “I’m ruined.”
“She won’t say anything—“
Kris glared at him. “I can’t believe—you can go to the devil, sir.”
“I won’t be the only one, will I?” Adam hissed at him. “Get the fuck out of my room, Allen. I’m so bloody tired of your childishness.”
Kris didn’t know what else to do but run out of the room. His face was flushed. He knew he must look like he was debauched. In the hallway, he was stunned to face not just the Countess, but his Mother, his brother, and Cale. They all stared at him. Kris couldn’t meet their gaze and he stared at the floor.
“Thank you, Countess,” his Mother said, softly. “I believe we will take our leave now. Good night.”
Kris couldn’t even look at the Countess and offer her a polite goodbye. He waited for his family to begin walking, intending to follow them. The Countess took his arm, gently.
“Don’t fret, my dear Kristopher,” she whispered, softly. “Be strong for him.”
“It’s not—I don’t—“
She frowned. “You don’t want him? You’ll bed him, but you won’t fight for him?”
“It wasn’t like that.”
She gave him a cold look, dropping her hands from him. “Good night, Mr Allen.”
Kris stood in his Mother’s drawing room, feeling like he was five years old. She gazed at him with such seriousness, he blushed under her knowing eyes. “I am more sorry than I can say, Mother.”
“What happened, Kristopher?”
He shook his head, closing his eyes. “It would not be fitting to say in your company.”
Lady Allen sighed, closing her eyes. “I am not unaware of what kind of intimacy occurs between two people, son.”
Kris blushed again, mortified beyond belief. “I beg you, Madame, I really can’t talk about this with you.”
“There will be scandal, my love.”
Kris nodded, swallowing thickly.
“I will not allow you to stay here and face the gossip,” she said, kindly. “In the morning, you will take the carriage at first light and go stay with my cousin in Paris.”
“But what of the family estate? I haven’t been able to—“
“Kristopher, our Solicitor will handle the estate business during your vacation.”
“Vacation?” Kris said, making a face. “My exile.”
“Do you want to stay here and be in the spotlight? Lord Lambert, God bless him, has tough skin and he does not care of what is said about him. But you, you blush at the drop of a hat pin and I fear they will destroy your sweet soul.”
Kris lifted his chin and look at his Mother. “Madame, I never intended for any of this to happen.”
“If you would just tell me what did happen, then I would be able to counter the more vicious lies with truth and save you from some of the heartache,” she said, taking his hand. “I will miss you so much when you leave, but I won’t let them hurt you.”
He shook his head. “It was all my fault.”
She sighed again and then stood, putting her hands on his cheeks. She kissed his forehead. “I love you, Kristopher. Go with God. Pack your things and be ready to leave at dawn. I will have the Cook prepare you a small meal to take with you, but I don’t want you to be here when the rumors and gossip begin.”
“Thank you, Mother,” he said, softly. “I’m so sorry to cause you pain.”
“It is not my pain that I’m worried about,” she said, smiling at him. “And I think you will enjoy the delights and freedoms of Paris. Try to put this behind you and I will bring you home when all of this has settled.”
Chapter 3: Lord Adam Lambert
“Sir! Sir, wake up!”
Adam opened his eyes to look up at his groomsman. “What is it, Wakefield?”
“I’ve heard a rumor that Mr Kristopher Allen is exiled to France—“
“—for his indiscretion with you.”
Adam kicked the sheets off and stood up, unbothered by his nudity in front of his groomsman, looking around for his clothes. “Get my horse readied. How long ago did he leave?”
“At dawn, sir.”
“Go!” Adam shouted, throwing on a wrinkled linen shirt and then trousers, buttoning them quickly. “Bloody fucking hell!”
He rode hard across the damp grass, heading for the road that would lead to the first carriage stop. He leaned hard on his horse, both of them panting, moving at breakneck speeds across the countryside.
Indiscretion. He frowned, biting his lip. Exiled to France. Bloody hell!
It was early morning when he came to the station house. He leaped off the horse, tossing the reins to the nearest stable hand and stalked into the house.
“Good morning, sir—“
“Did Mr Allen arrive?”
The house woman blinked quickly, looking up at him. “Yes, sir. He’s resting—“
“Which is his room?”
“He’s in number four, but—“
Adam pushed past her and took the stairs two at a time to the second floor. He looked at the numbers and found the door to room four, opening it quickly.
Kris startled, jumping up from the writing table at the other side of the small room. Adam closed the door and locked it, staring at him.
“What are you doing here?” Kris said, backing further into the room until he hit the far wall. “Don’t you think you’ve done enough—“
“You would leave me here to face this on my own?”
“I would’ve thought that you’d be used to it by now!”
Adam threw off his riding gloves and stalked across the room to stand in front of Kris. “You don’t know me. You don’t know the truth behind every story, but you’ll happily judge me for—“
“And doesn’t that say something, sir?” Kris said, looking at up him. “And any way, I don’t care. I don’t care! Why are you here! What more could you do to me?”
“Coward,” he said, softly. “You’d rather run away and hide instead of face the truth—“
“The truth is that I—I—“ Kris caught his breath, his hands pressed against the wall. Adam saw that he was trembling – but was it because he was angry…or something else? He gazed at Kris for a long moment, looking at him clearly now. He was angry, yes; he was also…Adam saw him clearly now. “I made a mistake and I am doing what I must in order to salvage my family’s reputation.”
“No, that’s not the complete truth.” He took a deep breath, pushing down his anger, staring into Kris’s wide eyes. He saw fear and want and surprise, the flush making its way up his cheeks. “You want me. You’ve wanted me from the first, haven’t you? That’s why you’re running away – running away from me.”
“Admit it! Before you knew my name and my reputation,” Adam spat, making a face, "you were interested in me. You flirted with me! You wanted to kiss me.”
“That’s not true—“
Kris started to shake his head, but Adam growled again and pulled Kris against him, kissing him deeply. Some part of him crowed in triumph when Kris moaned into his mouth, his body pressing close against him of his own accord. He slipped his hands beneath Kris’s jacket, gripping the back of his soft shirt and pulling it free from the back of his pants. He shivered, feeling Kris’s warm skin, his fingertips grazing along his slender back.
“You want me,” Adam murmured against his soft lips. He felt Kris’s hands moving across his back, tentative and gentle. “Stay with me. Your reputation is not ruined, not if you stay and face them.”
“I can’t do this,” Kris said, pulling away quickly. He adjusted his clothes, pushing his shirt under the waist of his pants.
Adam watched as Kris rubbed his face with his hands, moving away to the other side of the room. He looked as miserable as Adam felt.
“I wish you to leave,” he said, softly, not looking at Adam.
“Say it to my face.”
Kris sighed, turning to look up at Adam. “Please leave.”
He met Kris’s eyes, knowing that it wouldn’t take much to seduce him. He knew that Kris understood as well. But Adam was not one to take rejection lightly – and this was a rejection. Kris did not want to be his friend; he did not want to give consideration to Adam’s truth; and he did not want to stay.
Adam picked up his gloves from the floor and nodded once to Kris, making sure that his face gave away nothing but the polite, disinterested expression of a gentleman. “Safe travels, sir. I hope that the difficulties of our brief acquaintance will not remain with you for too long.”
Sir Kristopher Allen
He stared out the carriage, watching the familiar hustle and bustle of London moving around him. It looked the same, as if the city had not changed in the five years that Kris was away. He closed his eyes, letting his body rock against the velvet seat as the wheels moved over the bumpy stone streets.
Paris was lovely and Kris’s French cousins embraced him, welcoming him to their homes. He enjoyed the attentions of the lovely women and men, but found them too decadent to feel comfortable with their offers of pleasure and passion and love. He wrote to his mother and brother often, telling them that he needed to do something with his life, that he wasn’t made to live a life of leisure. He left for Africa, traveling as a gentleman, but always willing to help in any way that he could. He worked beside the men in the fields, his body and mind falling into a soothing trance of laboring under the hot sun. He taught children how to read and write. He sang songs that he composed while he took long walks across dusty African lands. In his third year, he fell deathly ill but recovered miraculously; he decided that he missed being closer to home and returned to Paris a different kind of man: quiet, introspective, open minded, and forgiving.
There were a number of letters waiting for him in Paris and Kris read them quickly, his heart beating quickly as each letter from his mother described in reality one of the fears that he had in his heart.
“…did not want to trouble you with business, my dearest son, but I am no longer able to keep this secret from you. We are in dire financial straits and I have need of you in London. Please come home at your earliest. I fear that only you will be able to provide the solution that we so need…”
“Sir, we’ve arrived.”
Kris opened his eyes to see that they were in front of his London home. The groomsman opened the carriage door for him and Kris stepped out, looking up at the tall, white and gray marble of the Allen’s city home. He quirked a smile to himself; a sense of relief at being home. Finally.
He walked up the steps to the front door and entered. He walked towards the formal drawing room and found his mother having tea. “Madame.”
“Kristopher,” she said, standing. She waved her hand for him to approach and she gave him a warm hug and a kiss on his cheek. “Welcome home, son.”
“I’m sorry for not coming home sooner. I didn’t receive your summons until just last week,” he said, sitting beside her on the sofa. “What can I do?”
“You’ll have to visit our Solicitor in the morning. He can give you all the details,” she said, taking a deep breath. “We are nearly without any income this year. I’m afraid that we will begin to lose our homes to the banks in the new year unless we have…we’ve had quite a loss in the past two years and…I’m afraid I’ve never been good with our investments.”
Kris took her hand and smiled. “You’ve done the best that you can, Madame. No one can fault you for any of this. I take the blame for being away for so long and ignoring my duties to the family.” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “The fastest way to solve our financial problems is for me to marry.”
“I’ve put off marriage for too long,” he said, flinching slightly. “As the first son, I should’ve married years ago and I could’ve prevented this from happening. I’ve been so selfish. And I have to think of David’s well being and his future, too. Will you forgive me, Madame?”
His mother stroked his cheek. “There is nothing to forgive, son. As you said, we’ve all done the best that we can.”
He nodded, taking her at her word. “Then it’s good that I’ve arrived home now. It’s the start of the Season and I should begin to visit our friends.”
“I’m sorry that this is the reason why you’ve had to come home,” she murmured, leaning into the sofa. “I wanted you to enjoy your time away on your adventures.”
Kris chuckled, softly. “Well, I’m glad to be home.” He bit his lip and frowned for a long moment. “Am I…will I be welcomed in any home here?”
“Of course you are welcomed, Kris,” she said, soothingly. “I have kept another secret from you. Before Cale left for Boston, he told everyone that you were innocent and that you were only protecting his reputation. Lord Lambert did not admit to any impropriety with you and spoke of you highly. He went to India for two years and just recently returned. I’ve heard that he’s built quite a large fortune for himself while there, adding to his family’s estates tenfold.”
Kris swallowed, looking away. He never imagined that Adam would…in the years that he was away, he forced himself not to think about him. For the most part, he was successful. But when he was alone, surrounded in darkness, he couldn’t help but to wonder what Adam was doing. He didn’t allow himself to think too deeply about their last meeting at the rest station. He didn’t allow himself to admit to any feelings.
“And he is not married as well,” his mother said, her tone neutral.
He could feel his face heating and he grimaced, shaking his head. “We would not be a happy match.”
“I was under the impression that you and he were…close.”
Kris glanced at his mother, trying not to grin. “Hardly. We were not friendly at all.”
“That is not how I remember it, Kristopher,” she said, raising her eyebrow at him.
“Would you really want Lord Adam Lambert as your son-in-law—“
“Of course,” she said, surprised. “He’s a lovely young man. I’ve always liked him.”
“But his reputation—“
“Kristopher,” she said, sternly. “You of all people now understand what it is like to be under the eye glass of Society. One cannot always believe what one hears…unless you would like to tell me, finally, what happened between the two of you in his bedroom all those years ago.”
He bit his lip and shook his head, not meeting her eyes. “It was not what you are implying, Madame. I forgot myself for a moment of anger and…was not a gentleman at all.”
His mother sighed, rolling her eyes. “Fine, keep your secrets, Kris. You are your own man; but do not judge him so harshly now and make yourself into a hypocrite.”
“Yes, Madame,” he said, softly, feeling a rush of shame at her words. “I am your son.”
She chuckled, patting his hand. “Yes, I’m quite certain that you are.”
Chapter 4: Adam Lambert
He was already bored out of his mind. The new Season offered no challenges, no thrills, and no opportunities for new scandals. Adam considered leaving London for the delights of France or Italy or even back to India. He might even be more interested in going to the Colonies or maybe even to one of the islands. Surely, death was better than this.
He stood against the wall of one of the dozen ballrooms that Adam found himself occupying nearly every night, watching as his peers in Society flitted about, the women giggling charmingly, the men looking like they had sticks up their bums. Adam raised his eyebrow, grinning to himself – he could really give them something to stick up their bums.
“There you are,” Bradley called, hurrying over to him. “I have heard the most interesting piece of news.”
“Oh? Do tell.”
“Remember that time when you went to the country?”
Adam rolled his eyes. “Which time?”
Bradley chuckled, looking at him. “The time when you met a certain boy who drove you absolutely mad.”
Adam turned and glared at Bradley. “I thought we had agreed to never speak of that time.”
“He’s back in London, just returned—“
“—and he’s been visiting various families – apparently, he is ready to marry,” Bradley said in a rush, laughing thickly. “Do you not find that hysterical?”
Adam frowned, pushing off the wall and walking past Bradley towards the main hallways of the crowded house.
“I’m not amused,” he said, sharply.
“And I offer nothing but amusement,” Bradley countered, grabbing his arm and holding him still. “What is the matter? I thought you’d enjoy knowing that Sir Kristopher Allen was back in town…and available.”
“He is not available to me.”
“Such a shame, love. He has grown quite fit over the years. I daresay that he has the loveliest bum in this whole house.” Bradley grinned as Adam continued to scowl at him.
“You are a horrible friend, sir.”
“Did you know that his family is in financial trouble? They would be ruined before the year is over if Kristopher cannot find someone to marry – someone with the significant funds to pay the family’s debts and bring income to their investments.”
He felt Bradley pull him towards the balcony, overlooking the patio below. There were a number of couples and small clusters of men and women, sitting close together and talking and laughing.
“So you see, Adam darling, he is in quite a pinch,” Bradley murmured, looking down at the patio, his eyes lingering on someone below.
Adam followed his gaze and narrowed his eyes when he saw Kris Allen, dressed in a fine black suit, looking very well. He watched the way that Kris smiled, how guileless he was, how utterly charming with his perfect manners. He was probably 24-years old now, but there was something so untainted on his face, he still looked like the 19-year old teenage boy that he met all those years ago.
“He’s gotten so old,” Adam said, rolling his eyes.
Bradley chuckled. “He’s actually very handsome. I understand what you see in him.”
Adam snorted, looking away, a sneer on his face. “Well, you are welcomed to him.”
“I doubt that very much,” he said, smiling up at Adam. “I have been your friend and confidant for over ten years now. You cannot hide your feelings from me.”
Adam ignored Bradley’s soft laugh and narrowed his eyes, staring down at Sir Kristopher Allen. “I wonder if he would reject me if I offered him a way to save his family.”
“He would be fool to reject you for any reason.”
Adam had to smile. He looked at his best friend and saw the mischievous twinkle in his brown eyes. “You are a good friend, Brad.”
“Thank you kind sir,” Bradley said, giving him a mocking bow.
Adam continued to watch Kris. He saw the way that Kris placed his hand on the elbow of a lovely blonde haired girl who gazed at him with obvious adoration. But Kris was a proper gentleman, only putting his hand where it was allowed, where no one could accuse him of any impropriety. Adam thought Kris was a tease, but no one asked him for his opinion on Kris…well, not in a long time anyway. He and Cale were able to crush a lot of the gossip and scandal before it began, both happy to salvage what they could of Kris’s precious reputation.
But did Kris ever send him a letter to thank him for what Adam did for him? No, of course not. He blamed Adam for everything, taking none for himself. He looked down and saw Kris escort the young woman to her chaperones, bowing to them before he made his way across the patio to another small cluster of people. They turned and made room for him, welcoming him in their midst. He watched as Kris laughed, his face lifting into the lamp light.
And for a moment, their eyes met. He watched as Kris startled, his smile fading as he continued to gaze up at Adam. It looked like he wanted to stand, like he wanted to go to Adam, but his new friends distracted him and Kris turned away to politely answer something. Adam frowned. When they met eyes again, Kris turned and looked up at him deliberately, but Adam showed nothing but a cold disdain, turning away and giving Kris his back.
Bradley grinned, watching the exchange. “So, is the game afoot?”
“Yes,” Adam said, his voice low and tense.
Adam wasn’t sure if Bradley meant him or Kris. Perhaps both.
“You…would like to marry Kristopher?” Lady Allen said, her eyes widening as she looked at Adam.
“Yes,” Adam said, nodding. He gave her a warm smile. “I am more than able to help you with your difficulties. Please forgive my bluntness on this matter, but I felt that it couldn’t be delayed any longer. There is no need to be secretive with me. I know that your son is looking for a financially advantageous marriage. There are many in England who would marry Kris for his respectable name; but there are also others who know the expectations of the dowry and would not be able to meet the requirements. Ours may not be one of love, but I feel that we are well matched in that we will help each other accomplish our own ends. My dowry is more than enough to take care of the family and your estates; and Kris’s sterling reputation is good enough that I have the ability to attend the court of King George.”
Lady Allen gazed at him. “I see.” She took a deep breath. “So it would be a loveless match. I had hoped that Kristopher would be settled with love and with money.”
“If he had the time, I would agree with you,” he said, shrugging slightly.
She moved closer to him and took his hand. “Lord Lambert…may I call you Adam?”
“Of course,” he said, smiling at her. “I never wanted formalities between us anyway. You’ve always been warm to me, even after…everything.”
“Adam,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I give you my permission to marry my son. I don’t know what happened between you – the animosity he holds against you even after all this time – and I do not need to know. I just want to see you both happily settled. I hope that you and Kristopher will find love in your marriage.”
“The problem is not with me, Madame,” he said, softly.
Lady Allen nodded, squeezing his hand. “I see.” She looked down at his hands and sighed. “So you offer my son love and he offers you…”
“Nothing,” Adam said, pulling away from her and standing, his hands folded behind his back. “And I don’t need anything from him. I do this because I cannot forget your kindness to me and I don’t want to see your other son lose his place in Society.”
“Thank you, Adam,” she said, softly. “I know it wasn’t easy to come here and to ask for this. Kristopher has changed. I hope you will see the difference in him now.”
Adam swallowed, thickly. He nodded and then took a deep breath, giving Lady Allen a small bow. “I am your servant, Madame.”
“Please come for supper tonight. You may speak to Kris then.”
“No! Madame, absolutely not!”
“You cannot refuse,” she said, sternly. “We are not the ones in any position to refuse such an advantageous offer.”
Kris stared at her, his mouth parted. “We have time. I will be able to find a proper match. He is no more—“
“Hush!” She said, raising her voice slightly. Kris balked and sat down across from her, shaking. “He is going to come for supper. He is going to ask you to marry him. You will answer yes and you will come to me for my blessing, which I will give. And then his mother and I will determine the best day for the wedding. Do I make myself clear?”
Kris bit his lip, his eyes dropping to the floor. “Yes, Madame. But—“
“There is no ‘but’!”
“I am your son,” he whispered, feeling like his heart would shatter against his ribcage it was beating so hard and fast.
Kris leaned against the wall by the window, looking out at the busy city street below. He sighed, closing his eyes, wondering what it would be like to be so anonymous, unknown, without the weight of family and duty on his shoulders. He realized that it was foolish to even think about such things and he brushed the thoughts from his mind, sweeping them into the deep places where he kept all of his other insecurities and fears.
“So you will marry him?” David said, sitting down at Kris’s writing desk.
“I have no other choice,” he said, shrugging. “It’s my duty to do what I must for our family.”
David frowned, tapping his fingers on the wood. “I don’t want you to make such a sacrifice for me, Kris.”
He turned and smiled at his younger brother. “I’d do anything for you and mother.”
“But, you’re so unhappy,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I hate seeing you like this. I missed you so much while you were away. I didn’t think you’d ever come back home.”
“I missed you, too,” he said, grinning. “But I’m glad to be home. This is where I belong.”
“Is he as…horrid as you say? I mean, I’ve heard stories…”
Kris stared at him, panic making his heart beat faster. “You’ve heard…”
David shrugged, blushing slightly. “That night, at the Countess’s home…you came out of his bedroom. I heard that…you and he…”
“It’s not like that,” Kris said, heatedly. “That’s…it’s not what you think.”
Kris looked at the floor, his hands slipping into his pockets. “David…”
“I don’t mean to pry. I just…wondered why mother sent you away and I heard all these stories about you and Lord Lambert and…Cale said…”
That caught Kris’s attention. “Cale said what?”
“He said that nothing happened between you and Lord Lambert, that you only came to make sure that he wasn’t doing anything improper,” David murmured, softly.
“He kissed me. Twice.”
“Oh.” David said, looking up at him, struggling not to smile.
Kris rolled his eyes. “Not you, too.”
“Well, he is, Kris,” he said, chuckling softly. “I’d be tempted, too.”
“Don’t say that.”
David laughed, leaning back in his chair. “Why don’t you want to marry him? Is it because you hate him?”
“I don’t…hate him. I just…” Kris rubbed his hand over his hair. “I don’t know. I guess I just don’t like many things about him.”
“Are you sure?”
Kris turned to look at his younger brother, wondering if there was something on his face that gave him away. “What?”
“I think that you find him interesting but that you don’t want to like him.”
He didn’t know what to say.
“I would like to have him as a brother, Kris. He has always been nothing but good to mother and kind to me,” David told him, softly. “I think he would make a good husband for you if you let him.”
“You are a born romantic, David.”
“Hmmm, I don’t deny it.” David grinned. “And I think you should stop denying that you are a romantic, too.”
Dinner was awkward enough and Kris blushed the entire way through the courses. He listened as Adam made conversation with his mother and with his brother. He spoke about his travels to India. He told fantastic stories about riding elephants and visiting trade routes and tasting exotic spices and teas. Kris felt like there was a rock in his stomach and he ate slowly, not tasting the food in front of him.
“I think you and Kristopher should take tea in the drawing room together,” his mother said. Kris jerked his head, turning to look at her, his fork halfway to his mouth.
His mother gave him a knowing look. “Of course, alone.”
“I would be delighted, Madame,” Adam said, softly. Kris looked up at him and found Adam staring at him, his face neutral, but his eyes were bright with…something Kris didn’t know how to name.
Kris set his fork down and wiped his mouth with the napkin, standing slowly. He saw David give him an encouraging smile as Kris led the way for Adam to follow him to the drawing room. He closed the door behind them and took a deep breath.
Kris turned around and stared at Adam. “That was…quick.”
“Did you want me to seduce you with pretty words and a song, Kris?” Adam said, smirking at him. “I’d hate for you to accuse me of anything improper in your own home with your mother, your brother, and the servants just outside this room.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“I’ve already told my friends that I planned to propose marriage to you. After tonight, you will find that you won’t receive any offers from any of the other families,” Adam said, his tone calculating and amused. “I suppose I’ve also said that it was a good thing that I was wealthy enough to buy your family’s debts—“
“You are the most arrogant man I’ve ever met! How dare you say those things!” Kris said, glaring at him. He frowned, shaking his head. “This is impossible. Why are you doing this to me? Why would you want to put yourself into this kind of misery when you stand to gain nothing from marrying me?”
Adam walked towards him and stood just within arm’s reach. He grinned meanly, looking into Kris’s eyes. “Perhaps I like it that I’ve bought you and you become my property.”
“You’re not that cruel—“
“I am,” he said, simply. “I look forward to our wedding night. I’m sure it will be worth whatever amount of money I plan to give to your family for the pleasure.”
Kris swallowed, shaking his head. “Please reconsider.”
Adam laughed in his face. “Surely you’re joking. You have nothing but your body to offer me. You have no other option but to marry me.” He grinned at Kris, licking the corner of his lip. His grin became even more pronounced when Kris watched the way that the tip of his tongue slipped in and out of his mouth. He blushed, looking away. “And once I tire of you, little husband-to-be, we can live our own lives in whatever manner suits us, provided that it is with discretion.”
“It’s a marriage of convenience, nothing more,” Adam said, moving away. “Being married to you gives me a better position in Society and I have my eye on the royal court. I think I will be well suited for court politics and intrigue and games. You may stay here in your home while I will enjoy my time at the Royal Pavilion or abroad to Versailles. It’s all for the best, Kris. I’m making you an offer that you cannot possibly reject, even if you wanted to. Think of your poor mother and brother living on the streets without my assistance.” Adam sat down languidly on a velvet armchair, his long legs parted. He glanced up to grin at Kris. “So I think I deserve an answer now.”
Adam laughed. “Suit yourself. Your mother told me that she will give her blessing.”
“You’re a monster.”
“More name calling?” Adam murmured, chuckling. “You used to call me such creative names. Whoremonger is still my favorite. Lord Adam Lambert, Whoremonger. And what does that make you?”
Kris shook his head. “This is wrong.”
“True. We will probably make each other miserable for the rest of our lives,” he said, airily, waving his hand. “But not all marriages are about love. Do give me your answer, old boy.”
Kris gritted his teeth, glaring at him. “Yes.”
“Lovely,” Adam said, standing slowly. He gave Kris a pretty smile. “Now, say thank you, Adam.”
“You’ve lost your mind, sir.”
“Say it or I will walk out of here and you and your family will be destitute in just a matter of weeks!”
A part of Kris wanted to say, yes, leave off, right now. Take your tasteless manners and your ugly words out of his home. But he was afraid that Adam would leave and that Kris would not be able to marry in time to save his family’s livelihood. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Thank you, Adam.”
“I’m not sure I heard you, Kris.”
“I said thank you, Adam,” he said, bitterly. “Loud enough for your ears now, Lord Lambert?”
Adam narrowed his eyes at him. “For now. I have plans for you, Kris. Try not to disappoint me, hmmm? Good evening, sir.”
Kris moved aside as Adam reached for the door, opening it. He leaned against the wall, pressing the heel of his hands against his eyes, fighting back the need to scream in frustration and anger. He felt as if a rope was placed around his neck, cutting off his breath. He could hear his mother and brother congratulating Adam and wishing him well as the servants led him to the front doors. He knew that he had to get himself under control before anyone saw him. He placed his hands against his face, trying to calm down. He took a few deep breaths and then turned, walking out into the hallway.
Chapter 5: Adam Lambert
Revenge was best served cold.
But Kris required a different sort of handling.
In the next few days and weeks following the public announcement of his engagement to Sir Kristopher Allen, Adam ordered four tailors in London to begin the process of outfitting his husband-to-be in the best jackets and vests and pants and cravats, sending them to the Allen’s London townhouse for surprise fittings. He gleefully anticipated Kris’s outrage at the insult.
My dear Kristopher,
As my husband-to-be, you must be suitably attired. I cannot be seen amongst our peers with you looking artfully shabby. You forget the station that you are marrying into is much grander than your own and I will not be misrepresented.
Adam sipped his tea in his drawing room, looking over his business accounts, when the messenger arrived, looking quite harried as the boy had run from Adam’s townhouse to Kris’s townhouse and back, carrying with him the first of many missives between them.
I would ask that you stop sending tailors to my home. I do not need a new trousseau of clothes as I am not a bride. Now desist!
You are clearly a grand imbecile if you think I will accept any of your gifts!
And his favorite:
How dare you insult me and my rank! You should be utterly grateful that I would accept you into my family and that you are now attached to my good name!
My mother has ordered me to thank you for the gifts. Thank you.
Adam laughed, looking at Kris’s precise handwriting. He could almost read the reluctant disdain in the bold flourishes of his letters. How he must really hate thanking Adam for anything. He found the messenger boy drinking a cup of water and catching his breath on the steps of the servants’ entrance at the rear of the house. He handed the note to the boy. “It’s my last one for today, lad.” He gave the boy two coins and smirked as the boy pocketed them, his eyes wide, and watched him run down the narrow alleyway to the main street.
My dear Kristopher,
It is remiss of me to hide you away from Society. Therefore, starting this evening, I promise to escort you to every restaurant, every party, every Ball that is hosted in this city throughout the Season. Be ready for my arrival no later than 7 o’clock on the hour.
Adam stepped out of his carriage and walked up the front steps to the Allen’s immaculate townhouse. He enjoyed the architecture. It would be a loss if the Allens lost such a lovely property. He knocked twice and the door opened quickly, the stern butler bowing his head as he opened the door further for him.
“Good evening,” Adam said, smiling widely.
“Lady Allen and the younger Mr Allen are waiting for you in the drawing room, sir.”
“Thank you,” he said, strolling into the house, familiar with the downstairs rooms. He ducked into the living room and bowed, smiling widely. “Good evening.”
“Adam, please come in,” Lady Allen said, holding out her hand. He took her hand and pressed a kiss to her cheek, making her chuckle. “You really are a scoundrel, aren’t you?”
“My mother says that I am charming.”
She gave him an amused look. “That’s not all your mother has said.”
Adam chuckled. He was not surprised to discover that Lady Allen and Lady Lambert took one look at each other and became the best of friends. He could only imagine the stories that his mother told Lady Allen. Perhaps he was safe as she did not seem to be disapproving of him at the moment. “I am her favorite son, you know.” He grinned at David. “Hello, David.”
“Mr Lambert, it’s good to see you again. Kris is ready, but he’s hiding in his rooms,” David said, his eyes crinkling at the corners.
Adam laughed, sitting back against the couch, perfectly content with them as the old formalities seemed to have melted away.
“And where are you taking Kristopher tonight?”
“We’ll dine at Maurice’s and I believe we will go to Vauxhall Gardens,” he said, smiling innocently. “There’s music and dancing and lively people. I think Kris will enjoy himself.” He frowned, slightly. “You don’t think Kris would find it too common for him?”
“Nonsense,” Lady Allen said, somewhat surprised. “Why on earth—“
“Kris has said to me on a number of times about how he must be careful of his rank and our station in Society,” Adam murmured, softly.
“You twist my words, sir,” Kris said, his tone sharp and controlled. “Do not try to sway my mother to your side. I am her favorite son.”
“That’s not fair,” David said, as Lady Allen laughed softly at them.
Adam turned his head and looked at Kris, the amused smile falling from his face. His husband-to-be certainly looked delicious in his new dark blue suit and pale blue vest and white cravat. Adam would have to give the tailors a few extra Sterling for their impeccable work. Despite the sour look on Kris’s face, the flush of color on his cheeks and the polished cut of his new clothes suited Kris and gave him an aura of incorruptibility. Well, Adam thought, not if he had his way tonight. He stood up and gave Kris a polite bow. He grinned when Kris sighed and returned the greeting with a bow of his own.
“You look wonderful. New clothes?”
“As if you do not already know the answer to your question,” Kris said, narrowing his eyes at Adam. “I apologize for my tardiness.”
“Yes, your brother told me that you were hiding in your rooms.”
Kris made a face at David for his betrayal, but Adam just chuckled at them.
“If you are ready, I am eager to get our evening started.”
“Have a pleasant evening,” Lady Allen called, smiling at them.
“Thank you,” Adam said, placing his hand on Kris’s back and pushing him gently into the hallway.
“Thank you, Madame,” Kris said, his tone softening as he spoke to his mother. He gave David a stern look. “I will speak to you later.”
Kris ducked away from his hand and hurried his pace towards the front doors. The butler saw them coming and he opened the door for them, bowing his head slightly. “Thank you, Rutherford.”
“Good evening, sirs.”
Adam nodded and then turned to watch as Kris walked towards the awaiting carriage. His eyes lingered on the way that the back of the suit highlighted his shoulders and his lean back, tapering to a perfect bottom. He bit his lip, watching as Kris stepped into the carriage, bending slightly as he ducked under the carriage ceiling. Adam suppressed an urge to place his palm upon Kris’s pert arse as he followed him into the privacy of his carriage.
“Must you insist on this public…showing?” Kris said, softly, sitting across from him.
“I insist,” Adam said, amused. “There would be even more gossip if we were not seen together during the course of our engagement.”
“It could be because I prefer privacy.”
“And no one would ever believe that I would allow us that kind of silence,” he said, shrugging. “As you know, my reputation does precede me and I do have certain expectations and standards that need to be met.”
Kris sighed, crossing his arms across his chest. “You don’t have to remind me.”
“Perhaps if you apologized, I would be more forgiving of your insult.”
“Is that what you want from me?”
Adam gazed at him, letting his eyes rove over Kris’s body. “I want a number of things from you, Kris.”
Kris looked out the carriage window and took a deep breath. He turned and gazed at Adam. “I apologize for insulting you.”
He raised his eyebrow, meeting the earnest look in Kris’s eyes. “I accept.”
“And do you have anything that you would like to say to me?”
“Such as?” Kris said, frowning. “This…this entire debacle! The way you’ve…you’ve commandeered my life and—“
“I don’t believe that saving your family from destitution is anything that I need to apologize for,” he cut in, brusquely. “You are most ungrateful, sir.”
He watched as Kris gripped his knee with his hand, jaw clenched, face turned away from him. Adam waited breathlessly for Kris’s retort, wondering what the young man would have to say to that. It occurred to Adam that he took perverse delight in making Kris mad, that he enjoyed verbal duels with him and seeing him get hot under the cravat. Since his proposal, Adam felt like crossing all the lines that Kris set down between them. He was deliciously challenging and without any artifice. It distracted him and it also drove him a little mad. Every time Kris insulted him, even knowing that it was coming, it only made Adam’s blood run hotter, imagining taking his prudish husband-to-be down a peg or two.
“I am not…ungrateful,” Kris said, softly. He stared at the carpeting and sighed. “I am not ungrateful at all. I would do anything to preserve my family’s legacy.”
Adam frowned slightly, glad that his face was hidden in the dimness of the carriage; and he stared at Kris for a long moment, wondering if he was giving in so soon. That would certainly not do. He leaned casually against the velvet carriage seat, his long legs moving between Kris’s legs, parting them suggestively. Kris gave him a sharp look, moving his legs to the side, sitting up straight. Adam chuckled, stroking the toe of his boot against Kris’s calf.
“We shall see,” Adam said, making it a promise.
He was surprised that Kris made a lovely dinner companion. In public, he was all shy smiles and perfect manners. He spoke softly, possibly because he didn’t want anyone to overhear their conversation. He looked at Adam when he spoke. Adam listened to his stories of his travels to Africa and the work he accomplished there. Adam ignored the gossip surrounding them, the whispers and stares and sidelong glances. Kris kept his eyes on their table, his face flushing a pretty pink.
“It’s best if you don’t give them any fuel,” Adam suggested, smiling at him.
Kris met his eyes and sighed. “I am not a public person.”
“Your mother has sheltered you from much.”
Adam was pleased to see the fire in Kris’s eyes.
“I am not sheltered,” Kris hissed at him.
His voice caused a few people in the dining room to stop and turn to look at him, the whisperings increasing as Kris flushed a deep red, his shoulders stooping in his seat. Adam chuckled, sipping his wine.
“Ohhhh? Have you been keeping secrets from me, Kris? From all appearances, your reputation is still quite…untouched, despite your moment of impropriety in the country all those years ago. My Aunt still believes you wronged me and she has not forgiven you for abandoning me.”
Kris stared at him with his mouth opened. He looked like he wanted to run out of the restaurant and Adam couldn’t stop laughing.
“Would you like any dessert?” Adam licked his lips, his eyes dropping to Kris’s mouth.
“No,” he said, tightly.
“Good,” he murmured, raising his eyes to look at Kris. “I would like to continue on to the next portion of our evening.”
Adam loved Vauxhall Gardens for a number of reasons: the Rococo architecture, the hundreds of candle lamps that lit the main pathways, the smell of flowers, the grand orchestra, the supper boxes, the hilarious panic of mothers and chaperones that seemingly “lost” their young daughters and sons to the garden’s numerous mazes. But the reason why Adam loved the gardens was for their private nooks where many public assignations took place – some as innocent as a kiss, others as forbidden and as bawdy as the most notorious whorehouses.
He led Kris to the main thoroughfare of the gardens, staying in the light of the lamps, wandering companionably towards the lively orchestra. He watched as Kris enjoyed the music, his eyes looking from one player to another, his hand tapping in rhythm to the music.
“I cannot believe you’ve never been to the gardens,” Adam murmured, ducking his head close to Kris’s ear, using his breath to his advantage.
Kris swallowed, shaking his head slightly and taking a small step to the side. “It’s been a long time since I lived in the city. Before my father’s passing, I was too young to leave my nurse and then mother took us to the country.”
“Then you have not seen the Chinese Pavilion.”
Kris shook his head, but he looked very interested. “From the Orient?”
Adam grinned at him, placing his hand on Kris’s back, guiding him away from the orchestra and the evening crowds to the lighted path. “It’s simply amazing. I think you will find it quite beautiful. The architecture is nothing like I’ve ever seen before in all of my travels. I’m quite tempted to visit the Orient lands in the future.”
“Is the pavilion far?”
“Hmm…if memory serves, it’s towards the center of the gardens,” Adam said, then laughed. “But I know a short cut.”
“Short cut?” Kris said, suspiciously. “I don’t think—“
“Don’t be silly, it’s just through here,” Adam said, grabbing Kris’s hand and walking quickly off the lighted path and into a narrow maze. He led Kris through a number of different pathways, left, then right, then right, then left, then right – far into the gardens, away from the crowds.
“Where are we going?” Kris protested. He didn’t pull his hand away, possibly because he wouldn’t want to get lost in the maze.
Adam sighed, stopping. He looked around and saw nothing but a dead end ahead of them. “I fear that I have made us lost.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
Adam smirked, letting Kris jerk his hand from Adam’s light hold. “I assure you, I am not kidding.”
“This is—you led me here on purpose.” Kris glared at him, tilting his chin up to stare at Adam. “You don’t deny it?”
“We are engaged,” he said, smiling down at him. “And no one would fault us for our new passion if we are caught.”
“Caught?” Kris barely got the word out before Adam pulled him close, kissing him thoroughly. He wrapped his arms behind Kris’s back, urging him in as close as possible. Kris pulled away, taking a deep breath. “Lambert! You—“
Adam kissed him again, sliding his tongue into his mouth, tasting the lingering flavor of wine. Kris whimpered, breathing harshly against him, still struggling to get free. Adam bit his bottom lip and ran one hand down the length of his back, sliding down one very firm bit of arse, gripping him tightly and pulling him in tight against his body, nearly lifting Kris to his toes.
“Lam—“ Kris panted breathlessly into Adam’s mouth, but he wasn’t willing to give Kris a moment to think and kissed him deeper. “Ad—please—“
“Hmm…” Adam murmured against his lips, licking his bottom lip thoroughly. “I want you…”
“This isn’t—we can’t—people will see!” Kris moaned softly, arching his head as Adam licked and nipped down his neck. He tried to move away but Adam moved his hand into his hair, gripping it firmly, holding him in place. He had pinned Kris against him and his own body flushed hot when he felt Kris hard against his hip.
“No one will come down this way,” Adam said, softly. He twisted his hip, his thigh pressing between Kris’s legs, pulling him in close as he tightened his grip on Kris’s plump arse, using his thigh to give him a little friction. He smiled as Kris hissed against him, moaning low and deep in his throat. His hands clutched at Adam’s back and he literally just arched into Adam’s hold. “Bloody hell, Kris…”
Kris gasped again as Adam pulled him against him, again and again. He felt the hot length of him against his thigh and he wanted nothing more than to toss Kris on the grass, strip him of his clothes, and take him right there. He bit down the side of his neck, closing his eyes tightly as Kris continued to keen and moan and move against him, insatiable little minx, hiding this from Adam, denying his want.
“Of course we can,” Adam murmured, kissing him again, feeling how swollen his lips were. “You’re close, aren’t you? You want so much, don’t deny yourself.”
He slipped his hand between them, palming Kris’s hard cock. He stroked him firmly, pressing his mouth against Kris, taking the moans into his mouth as Kris writhed against him, hands gripping his jacket now. He could feel his cock twitch under his palm and Adam groaned against Kris, unbuttoning one side of his placket and slipping his hand underneath to feel hot silky skin as he curled his naked hand around Kris’s cock and stroked him hard, moving with Kris as he lurched against him, his body shocked with shared pleasure. He stroked again and Kris broke from the kiss, his head bent backwards, eyes tightly closed, mouth wide open. He stroked again and watched as Kris came undone in his arms, shuddering wetly as his hand tightened, moving quickly. Adam watched as he bit his lip, swallowing the sound of his moans as Kris rode his hand hard and demanding. Adam swore, biting his own lip, realizing how hard he was from just watching Kris breaking under the first taste of pleasure with a lover.
Adam jerked his hand away and pulled Kris closer, holding his head and kissing in frantically. He curled his tongue into Kris’s mouth and groaned at the tentative touch of Kris’s tongue against his. Adam deepened the kiss, sucking on the tip of his tongue, playfully licking inside his mouth. Kris trembled when Adam pulled away. He was breathing heavily, but his body was loose and heavy in his arms. His eyes were lowered, seductively, sated with pleasure. Adam smiled, looking at his face.
Kris blinked twice and then his brown eyes widened in shock. He started to struggle and Adam sighed, making sure that Kris was on his feet before releasing him. Kris gave a soft whimper and he turned around, straightening his clothes.
“I’ve never done anything like that before,” Kris said, taking a shuddering breath. Adam understood the double meaning – never before with a lover, never before in public. He was greatly pleased to have given Kris his first taste of both. “I’m not that type of man who…goes against the rules of polite Society.”
“Some rules were meant to be broken,” Adam said, carelessly.
Kris turned and stared at him. “I am not that man.”
Adam smirked. “Well, just a few minutes ago, you were.” He walked closer to Kris, looking into his eyes. “Look at the pleasures that you’ve missed by being so cut off from life. It is meant to be tasted and savored like this.”
“For you, but I am not like that.”
“So are you like them? Those hypocrites? They would soon bend you over and fuck you at the first chance you give them! And then, once they are done, they will mock you and scandalize your good name – and for what? For the rules, Kris?”
Kris shook his head, smoothing his hands over his hair, wiping his face and mouth. “Isn’t that what you plan to do to me? Who is the hypocrite now, Adam? Isn’t that the life you’ve been leading all this time? Bending others and…and fucking them and then mocking them when you’re done? Are you not the same as them?”
“I’m nothing like them!” He hissed at Kris, angrily. Adam frowned at him, clenching his teeth and taking a step closer to him. He saw that Kris gazed at him without any fear on his face. Instead, he saw something else – something like pity and understanding. He snorted, rolling his eyes, letting a grin slip on his lips. “So brave now that you’ve had a little taste of liberty, hmmm? You think you know me so well now?”
“I don’t know you at all,” Kris said, softly.
Adam stood at his full height, glaring down at him. “I will escort you home.”
Chapter 6: Kristopher Allen
Kris walked out of his Solicitor’s office feeling even more uncertain about what he was about to do. The wedding ceremony was in a week and Adam had kept his promise to help Kris’s family with their financial problems. Kris was in Adam’s debt and he wasn’t sure how he would ever be able to repay him. It would always be something between them, even if he and Adam managed to be civil to each other and form some kind of friendship.
He was not looking forward to years of barbed verbal combat with his future husband. He was resigned to the fact that he would have to be the one who would keep the peace with Adam. Kris understood some of Adam’s motivations for marrying him. But what spouse would dare challenge anything that Adam wanted to do when Kris relied on Adam’s generosity? But then again, why was Adam so determined to make Kris so miserable? Did he hate Kris that much? And for what? Because Kris would never have given Adam any serious consideration? Because Kris rejected him? Was Adam so proud and arrogant that this was how he would get his revenge? It weighed heavily on his mind at times, especially now that Adam was directing their relationship into a sexual nature.
He clasped his hands behind him and walked along the busy street, thinking of Adam Lambert. Since that night in Vauxhall Gardens, Kris was leery of every public outing with Adam, anxious that he would insist on…touching him and making Kris feel…things that he hadn’t felt before.
“Do you really want to go through life in such a boring and retiring manner?” Adam once asked after another disastrous evening.
“I think you will have to content yourself that I am boring and retiring.”
“Nonsense,” Adam said, smirking at him. “I see in you a whole host of amusements just begging to rise to the surface.”
“Must everything you say be shrouded in improper innuendo?”
Adam laughed, looking at him for a long moment. Kris blushed immediately and broke his gaze. “Do you think about all the things that I do to you when you are alone?”
“No,” Kris said, frowning.
But in truth, it was the only thing that Kris could think about. He caught himself remembering the feel of Adam’s body against his, the way his mouth fit his, the erotic nature of his tongue sliding into Kris’s mouth, so sure and confident that Kris would enjoy those types of kisses. Most evenings, Adam gave him a tender kiss in the carriage while escorting Kris home. Other times, he left Kris breathless and aroused but denied him anything more. He wasn’t sure if his guilt came from acquiescing to Adam’s kisses or wanting Adam to give him pleasure. At supper, Kris got lost in the memory of Adam pinning him to the carriage seat, kissing and nipping his ear while whispering salacious things. He didn’t hear his mother calling his name and when he finally looked up, his face heated up so hotly that he had to excuse himself and left the table in an embarrassing rush.
He lifted his head, looking at the carriage pacing slowly beside him. He stopped and the carriage driver reined in the horse, stopping the carriage on the street.
“Step inside, would you?” Adam said, beckoning him into the carriage. He opened the door and Kris sighed, stepping into the carriage as Adam closed the door.
He settled into the velvet seat and looked at Adam. He was sprawled casually on his seat, long legs stretched out, black boots polished. He couldn’t deny any longer that Adam was lovely in face and body. It was too bad that his handsomeness covered a black heart and cruel manners. He realized that he was staring at him and he cleared his throat, looking away. “Good afternoon.”
“Good afternoon,” Adam said, grinning widely at him. “May I escort you to your destination?”
“Thank you. I am returning home after speaking with our Solicitor.”
Adam nodded and then tapped on the ceiling of the carriage. He leaned out the window and called up to the driver, “to Sir Allen’s townhome, if you will.”
The carriage began to move and Kris leaned back in the seat, keeping his eyes on Adam. He always felt on guard, expecting Adam to act inappropriately in the carriage with the window curtains rolled up in the middle of the day. Kris braced himself to not submit and to maintain his aloofness in the hopes that Adam would, for once, leave him be.
“So you visited your Solicitor. Is everything to your satisfaction?”
“Yes.” A moment later. “Thank you.”
He curled his arms across his chest and stared out the window.
“I would like to visit friends in Oxford this Saturday. Would you like to come with me?”
Kris bit his lip, nervously, feeling a shiver in his belly. He tried not to imagine what a weekend with Adam alone in a country house would be like, if Adam would take advantage of him far away from the eye of Society – not that it stopped Adam from doing what he wanted anyway. “I – the country? To your country estate?”
“It’s just that I’m so unamused by all the constant city gossip about our engagement and I would just like to be surrounded by friends who do not care one whit about my money or my name or anything else beyond genuine friendship and shared amusement,” Adam said, smiling slightly. “I’ve not introduced you to my friends – especially to Bell. They are very happy to meet you and perhaps going away will give you a chance to just…”
“I don’t think I should.”
Kris gave him a pointed look, raising his eyebrow. But Adam continued to look at him, his brow furrowing slightly in annoyance.
“Oh. I see. You are too good for my friends—“
“No! I never said such a thing!”
“And why am I not surprised that you do not introduce me to your friends?”
Kris blinked quickly. “I’ve not any true friends in London—“
“Your reluctance to go with me to my best friend’s home speaks volumes, sir.”
Kris sighed, shaking his head. “I’m only concerned that it would appear inappropriate.”
“We are engaged.”
“But what?” Adam demanded, his voice rising slightly. He looked out the window, frowning. “Don’t bother. I would not want you to be there and be horrified by my friends – and I certainly wouldn’t subject my dearest friends to your unappetizing pretentions.”
“I do not like the constant city gossip, too,” Kris said, softly. He peered up at Adam and then stared at his hands. “And I think it would be lovely to meet your friends and get out of London for a little while.” He watched as Adam turned to look at him. “It’s just that…I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”
“Of course it’s a good idea,” Adam said, smiling again. “It’s a lovely idea! We’ll have so much fun. My friends are very merry and Bell throws the best parties in the empire.”
Kris swallowed, giving him a hesitant smile. “I will consult with my Mother and let you know.”
Adam leaned back into the seat and gave Kris a very pleased smile. “And I promise to be a proper gentleman if that is what’s bothering you.”
Adam lied, of course.
But Kris was not expecting to be in the middle of a bacchanal. The air was thick with the smoke of opium and tobacco, making his eyes water. Wine and liquors flowed freely, sometimes down the body of a naked woman or man, various people licking their way across their bodies. There was laughter and nudity and sex. Kris couldn’t walk anywhere in the country manor without witnessing couples or small groups of people kissing and touching and…each other. And why was there a sheep running through the house?
Adam was the center of merriment. Kris watched from the relative safety of the doorway to the main salon room as Adam laughed, pulling a pretty fair-haired boy into his lap, receiving kisses on his cheeks and neck with a fond smile.
“I’m to be married next week!” Adam announced, chuckling as the pretty boy in his lap tried to kiss him on the mouth.
“That is next week, not today,” the boy said, curling around him.
Adam ruffled his hair affectionately, pushing the boy gently off his lap and standing. His shirt was unbuttoned and off his shoulders, long bared skin looking soft and touchable. Kris turned away when Adam caught him staring, a wide smile on his face.
“There’s my little husband-to-be,” he drawled, walking through the throng of bodies until he reached the doorway.
Kris hurried down the hallway, not wanting a confrontation with Adam.
He paused, gritting his teeth. He turned to look at Adam. “Yes?”
“Are you going to join in and have any fun at all?”
“I don’t believe so.”
Adam chuckled, walking towards him and wrapping his arms around Kris’s waist, pulling him closer until Kris could feel his hardness against his hip. “And why not? Are we not amusing enough for you?”
“This wasn’t what I was expecting. You never said—“
“You wouldn’t have come if I had,” he said, smirking. He leaned down to try for a kiss but Kris pulled away, taking a few steps from him.
“I would like to leave,” he said, looking up at Adam.
“Leave now? Are you mad?” Adam laughed at him, rolling his eyes. “You really are quite prude, aren’t you?”
“I’m not prudish. I just don’t want to be…here!”
“It would be rude to leave,” Adam declared, narrowing his eyes at him and walking towards him until he was standing just inches from Kris. “And I don’t want to go yet. If you are so disgusted by us, you can go hide in your guestroom for all I care.”
Kris watched Adam turn, stalking away. “But you won’t take my feelings into consideration?”
“Give me one reason why I should.” He said, over his shoulder, not even turning to look at Kris.
“This makes me very uncomfortable, Adam.”
“If that’s the case, you are welcomed to go upstairs and not be bothered by what we do here,” he said, leaving Kris alone in the hallway.
Kris closed his eyes, biting back the things that he wanted to say, the curses he wanted to throw at him. Instead, he breathed deeply, trying to calm himself, and walked down the long hallway to the library. None of the guests at the party would bother him there.
The Bell library was, to his surprise, well set out and held a large volume of books, folios, and manuscripts. He ran his hand along the hard leather covers, recognizing many of the titles and writers. He needed a distraction, something that would hold his attention away from the decadence just down the hall. Even though he closed the doors, he could hear the muffled laughter and screams and raucous pianoforte playing.
He was about to reach for Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” when his eyes set on a slim leather book beside it. It didn’t have a title on the spine and he pulled it from the bookcase, curiously. He leaned against the bookcase, opening the book in the middle, and gasped when he saw the drawing of a naked man holding another from behind who was bent over at the waist. His eyes widened and he looked around the room to make sure that he was alone. Swallowing thickly, he returned his attention to the book, flipping the pages to the beginning.
The title page was set with “Tales of Love” and did not have the writer’s name printed on it. He carefully flipped through the book, holding his breath as he looked at the anatomical renderings of male genitalia. It was a…book of directions on masculinity and sexuality. He felt his face flush, trying to stop from thinking of Adam touching him and—
“Well, what do we have here?”
Kris dropped the book and looked up to see Bradley Bell in the library, smirking at him. “I was just…”
“Just…” Brad walked closer and bent to pick up the fallen book before Kris could put it away. He chuckled at the title and then looked at Kris. “A little research before the wedding night?”
“No, I wasn’t looking to…”
He watched, mortified, as Brad flipped through the pages and smiled, letting out a happy sigh. “This is one of Adam’s favorite positions.” He showed the page to Kris and Kris couldn’t stop himself from looking at the drawing. It was of a man holding down another man. Kris turned away, clearing his throat.
“That’s enough, Mr Bell.”
Brad laughed, closing the book and slipping it back on the bookcase. “You know, Mr Allen, he’s an animal in bed. I think you would do well to have an education if you want to survive him.”
“You are crossing the line, sir.”
“I don’t believe in boundaries,” Brad said, raising his eyebrow. “You really don’t know what you’re getting into, do you? Adam has the biggest cock I’ve ever seen on a man, and believe me, he knows how to use it.”
Before Kris could escape, Brad grabbed his arm, throwing him back against the bookcase. Kris gasped, glaring at him. They were of the same height and size, but Brad was slim all throughout. His grip was very strong and when Kris tried to tug his arm away, Brad squeezed even tighter, holding him in place.
“He’s going to want to do dirty things to you,” Brad said, softly. His brown eyes were mischievous, glittering with amusement and dislike. “He’s going to make you take positions that will make you faint from shame, but he’ll make you enjoy it despite your haughty little ways. Maybe that’s why it’ll be so good for him, seeing you on your knees, begging for his cock.”
“And you’ll beg. Everyone always begs,” Brad said, leaning in close to nose against his neck. Kris flinched, trying to pull away but Brad merely laughed, pressing his body closer against him. “Adam always likes to make his boys want things and need things that they’ve never dreamed of.”
Kris frowned, feeling his face redden and his belly tighten. He twisted away, afraid that Brad would see the signs of arousal on his body. “Take your hand off of me.”
“You’re not ready for what he has planned for you. If I were a better man, I’d almost feel sorry for you, Mr Allen,” he said, meanly. “It’s such a shame, too. The more you deny him, the more he’ll only go looking for what he wants elsewhere. Imagine a marriage where your husband won’t even want to touch you anymore?”
Kris swallowed, turning away from him. It took him a moment to realize that Brad released his arm. He touched where Brad grabbed him, wondering if he would have a bruise there. He scowled at the smirking man, wishing that he wasn’t a gentleman and that he’d have the guts to use his fist to punch him in the face. Instead, Kris walked away without a word, ignoring the soft laugh behind him.
He was so tired of people laughing at him, mocking him. He burned with anger – at Brad, at Adam, at himself. He was going to walk into that salon room and demand that Adam take him back to London or…or…he was going to leave without him. He stalked down the hallway and then stopped, closing his eyes. No doubt Adam would only laugh at him and his friends would mock Kris. He felt so stupid and ridiculous. He refused to think about the things that Brad told him – making it so obvious that he and Adam had shared relations, that maybe they still did.
He caught his reflection in the mirror on the wall and he was surprised by the expression on his face. His cheeks were flushed, his lips pressing together thinly, but it was his eyes that scared him. He didn’t recognize his own reflection.
He gritted his teeth, determined to have his say, and if Adam laughed at him, then Kris would leave. He wanted so much to end their engagement, but he knew that if he did, Adam would want his money back and the Allens would be kicked out into the streets. He couldn’t do that to his mother and brother. They placed all of their hopes on Kris to ensure their livelihood. A part of him felt that it was unfair, but he accepted that it was his duty. But he was still a man, he had his pride and his ego, and he wasn’t going to let Adam dictate how he comported himself, despite the company.
He walked towards the main salon, ignoring the laughter and loud talking. He looked into the room and paused, seeing Adam pinning the pretty fair-haired boy against the wall, slender legs wrapped around Adam’s hips. Kris narrowed his eyes, the sharp stab of jealousy and bitterness stopping his breath. He knew, intellectually, that he shouldn’t feel this way, shouldn’t care what Adam did with others – their marriage was a business transaction, nothing more. It was the disrespect, the total disregard to Kris’s feelings and opinions that Kris could no longer ignore or let go. He placed his hand on the door frame, girding himself to walk into the room to confront Adam. He clenched his teeth and stepped into the room, only to find strong hands grab his shoulders, pulling him out into the hallway.
“Release me!” Kris shouted, trying to twist out of the firm grip. He turned to look at the man pulling him down the hallway to a private alcove. He pushed Kris against the wall and held him still. “Who are you? Let go of me!”
“You looked like you were about to begin something that would not end well,” the man said, amused. “I wanted to stop you from making a fool of yourself.”
He already felt like a fool. Kris tried to pull away but eventually stopped when the man just chuckled, not letting him go at all. He raised his chin to stare at the taller man. “What do you want?”
“I take it that you are not enjoying the show put on by the guest of honor?” He said, wryly.
“Yes, well, I join you in that.”
Kris looked at him, pushing past his anger and humiliation. He was very handsome with curly dark brown hair and very pretty blue eyes. He smiled at Kris, not in a leering fashion, but someone who was amused but not at the cost to Kris’s pride. He took in a calming breath and leaned against the alcove wall. The man’s released his strong hold and gently smoothed down the wrinkles in Kris’s jacket.
“Now, all better?”
“Do not make fun of me, sir,” Kris nearly growled at him.
“I make no insult to you,” he said, softly. “You don’t strike me as the type who would enjoy Adam’s parties.”
“I’m not,” he said, quickly. Perhaps, too quickly, because the other man just grinned, raising his eyebrow at him. “I’ve never…”
“Attended one of their infamous orgies?” He laughed, shaking his head. “It only gets worse as the night gets longer.”
Kris nodded. “I was just going to my rooms and hope for a little sanity come morning.”
“Hardly. The festivities will continue through until everyone leaves.” He said, lifting his hand to stroke gentle fingers along Kris’s hot cheeks. “You are very lovely.”
He stared at the other man suspiciously. “Is this how you lure your victims? Pretend to be a gentleman and then when they least expect it, you seduce them?”
The other man laughed. “Well, sir, that was quite the imagination. You have been spending far too much time with Adam and his friends.”
“Shhh,” he said, placing his fingers against Kris’s lips. “I know. You’ve never…” He stroked his fingers along Kris’s bottom lip, looking into his eyes. “You are very lovely. I like boys who are not so easily won, but for you, I would beg an exception.”
Kris would be ashamed, later, to admit that the jealousy and bitterness weren’t the only reasons why he allowed this stranger to kiss him. All he could think about was Brad’s smug grin of superiority and Adam pressing the boy against the wall. Kris moaned into the kiss as the other man wrapped his arms around him, pulling him closer. A palm stroked soothing circles on his back, warming him from the friction of the gentlest hand. Kris let out another moan when the hand moved slowly downwards to press against his bottom. He placed his arms around the stranger’s neck, opening his mouth, arching slightly into his arms.
Why not? If this was the expectation, why shouldn’t he have his amusements, too? It wasn’t like Adam cared enough one way or another. As long as he had his revenge, why shouldn’t Kris enjoy what he could get from someone else? Someone who desired him; someone who didn’t want to hurt him with cruel words and actions. Why the bloody hell not!
“Adam always had the best taste in men,” the stranger murmured against his lips, kissing him again. “You fit perfectly. I don’t know why he would ignore you in favor of that child that he’s playing with now?”
Kris didn’t either, but he had no words, wanting only this stranger’s kisses. “He doesn’t want me, not for that.”
The stranger grinned against his lips. “Hmmm…then I get to keep you all to myself. Hardly a burden.”
Kris shivered in want, his hand tracing down the strong back.
“But I’ve always been the smarter brother in the family and I wouldn’t have you if you were occupied by him.”
Kris closed his eyes, letting the stranger nibble along his neck. Smarter brother? He opened his eyes. Smarter brother! Brother! Adam’s brother?
He gasped, tensing as…Adam’s brother kissed him deeply. He moaned his protest, which didn’t sound like protest at all, and finally broke from the kiss, breathless and scared. “You’re—“
“What is this fuckery!” Adam shouted, a hand grabbing Kris’s arm and jerking him away.
"You are overly dramatic."
“Nells!” Adam growled at him, narrowing his eyes. “If you were not my brother, I would kill you in a second.”
Kris swallowed, wiping his mouth. Adam’s hand was still curled around his arm, tightening over the same place that Brad had grabbed him early. He didn’t dare look at Adam.
Nells chuckled, licking his lips. “Why did you interrupt us when you were so busily engaged elsewhere?”
Adam jerked Kris between them. “He is engaged to me.”
“He hadn’t mentioned it,” Nells said, casually.
Kris gasped, feeling betrayed, but he dropped his sharp gaze from Nells because he wasn’t wrong.
“But then again, I hadn’t asked.”
“Bugger off, you sodding arse!” Adam screamed at him.
Kris looked up to see Nells smiling at him, giving him a wink. A quick look at Adam and seeing his clenched jaw and tight set face let Kris know that he saw the exchange. Kris bit his swollen lip, watching Nells saunter away, hands clasped behind his back as if he were taking an afternoon stroll.
Adam slammed Kris against the wall of the alcove, towering over him. “What the bloody hell did you think you were doing?”
“I was merely enjoying myself as you have repeatedly told me ever since we arrived here,” Kris said, darkly.
Adam glared at him and then took a large step so that he was pressed hard against Kris, holding him against the wall. He placed his hand around Kris’s throat, holding him with his head back, forcing him to look up at Adam. “So, you are willing to play.”
Kris would normally protest and deny, but he merely gave Adam a smirk, meeting his eyes. “I liked the game with him.”
Adam clenched his jaw, his hand tightening slightly on Kris’s neck.
“Why should you be the only one with amusements?”
“You don’t get the same freedoms, Kristopher,” Adam hissed at him, narrowing his sharp gaze.
Kris snorted. “You said it yourself – when you tire of me, we will do as we like.” And with that, he pressed both hands against Adam’s bared chest and pushed hard, forcing Adam to take two steps back, releasing his hold on Kris’s neck. “Well, I’m already tired of you, Adam.”
Chapter 7: Kristopher Allen (continued)
His heart raced when he heard someone rattle the locked doorknob, trying to get into Kris’s room. He sat up in bed and stared at the door, holding his breath. He wasn’t sure who it could’ve been – Adam, Nells, another partier – and Kris didn’t want to spend the early hours of the morning fighting off a drunken, lecherous person. He exhaled in relief when the door rattling stopped, the heavy footsteps moving down the hallway. Kris got out of bed and lifted a velvet chair, propping it against the door. He pressed his hand against his forehead and walked to the window, unlatching it and swinging the window outwards to open it. The cool breeze was wonderful on his hot skin and he leaned against the windowsill, eyes closed, trying to control his trembling.
Kris dressed in his best suit, carefully knotting his cravat. He gazed at his appearance in the mirror and turned his head to see a faint reddish mark just below his ear on his neck. His eyes widened as he touched it. That was…Nells had…left a mark. He raised the collar of his white shirt and attempted to retie his cravat to try and hide it. He blushed, an anxious flutter in his stomach making him feel weak in the legs. Kris did not want a reminder of his weakness…and Adam could not see this! It would be…he didn’t even know what Adam’s reaction would be. He covered his face with his hand and took a deep, shaking breath. One day away from the eyes of Society and Kris submitted to the kisses of a stranger – to Adam’s brother no less. He couldn’t remain here for another day. Quickly, he packed his few belongings, hoping that Adam would let him take the carriage back to London.
He walked quietly down the stairs to the main hallways. The smell of opium and stale wine and sex lingered in nearly every room. He stepped carefully over the sleeping bodies curled up against one another. Only a handful of people were awake, laughing softly, moderately clothed. He ignored their calls to come and attend them.
“I see you have your armor in place.”
Kris flinched, his shoulders tensing. He turned to see Adam leaning against the doorway to the drawing room. He was dressed in a dark purple velvet robe, holding a tea cup in one hand. His hair was mussed and he looked sleepy.
“Tea?” Adam said, lifting his teacup in invitation.
He nodded. “Yes, I’d love a cup.”
Kris followed him into the drawing room and found that they were alone. The tall windows to the gardens were open, the morning air fluttering the gauzy curtains. Adam had dragged one of the plush chairs closer to the window, the silver tea service on the floor by his feet. He watched as Adam fixed him a cup of tea.
“How did you sleep?” Adam said, handing him the cup.
Kris sipped his tea to give himself time to carefully consider his words and merely shrugged. “As well as can be expected, I suppose.”
Adam gave him a wry grin. “So that means that you didn’t get any rest.”
Kris sat down on a loveseat, placing the tea cup on the table. He watched as Adam sank down in the plush chair, the robe falling open to reveal long, strong legs. Kris looked away. Adam made a startled noise and Kris jumped, swallowing hard. He turned to look at Adam.
“What is that?” He enunciated his words with a thick voice.
He could’ve pretended to not know what Adam meant, but he knew Adam wouldn’t believe him. He didn’t know how to respond so he waited for Adam to speak again.
“I asked you a question, Kristopher.”
“I have no excuse for my behavior,” Kris began, looking at Adam. “I mistakenly followed my feelings of unhappiness to act in an ungentlemanly manner.”
“You kissed my brother and you allowed him to mark you,” Adam stated, flatly.
Kris bit his lip and stared at him. “You were also engaged with a number of people.”
“And yet, none of them were your relations.”
“What does that have to do with it?” Kris said, frowning slightly. “You would debauch every person in this house without any qualms but you are angry with me because I made a mistake with your brother.”
Adam snorted, but he didn’t say anything.
“We have now less than a week until our wedding,” Kris said, giving him a hesitant smile. “I think it is best that we don’t meet each other until Saturday.” He waited for Adam to say something, to protest or to laugh at him. Instead, Adam remained silent, sipping his tea. “I have packed my things. I would like to take your carriage back to the city this morning.”
Adam gave him a long look and then set his cup down on the floor. He stood up, gathering the edges of his robe and pulling it closed. He retied the sash around his waist and looked out the window. “Do what you want, Kristopher.”
“For what it’s worth, I am sorry that I…compromised myself in that manner. It wasn’t my intention.”
“Yes, you were quite clear about your intentions,” Adam drawled, bitterly.
Kris didn’t know what he meant, but he was too tired to fight. He was no match for Adam when it came to verbal sparring. Kris wasn’t cruel enough or witty enough. He finished his tea and stood up, looking at Adam’s broad back for a moment.
“I will see you at the church.”
“Mmm.” Adam’s reply was more a gruff sound than agreement. Kris nodded to himself and walked slowly out of the room, leaving Adam alone to whatever contemplations that crossed his mind.
It was customary to exchange small gifts between the engaged parties before the wedding day. With only two days until the wedding ceremony, Kris panicked because he couldn’t decide on what to give Adam. He considered the usual types of gifts – jewelry, clothes, small pets, sweets – but nothing captured Kris’s interest.
He continued walking down Bond Street, politely stepping to the side for the fashionably dressed ladies on the street, and occasionally stopping to peer into the shops, wondering why he was even making a fuss. He didn’t think Adam would make a fuss. Ever since Kris returned home, he had not heard from Adam. He only knew Adam was back in London from his mother, who met daily with Adam’s mother for tea and gossip and wedding planning.
With a soft sigh, Kris continued walking down the street until he walked past a small bookshop. He paused and turned, walking into the store. Perhaps a book…
“Good afternoon, sir.”
Kris smiled at the shop owner. “Good afternoon.”
“Is there anything particular that you are looking for today?”
“I think I will just look at your selections for now.”
The shop owner nodded. “At your leisure, sir. Please let me know if I can assist with anything.”
“Thank you,” he said, looking at the leather bound collections along the walls.
He didn’t know what type of book would interest Adam. Perhaps a book about adventures or trade due to his interests in travel and business? Or a book of political theory or philosophy since Adam mentioned that he wanted to join the Court. Maybe a book of poetry, though Kris didn’t think Adam would be interested in poems or literature. He didn’t seem to use his free time in quiet contemplation.
Kris smiled as he saw some of his favorite volumes displayed on the shelves. He saw a book on the history of music and manuscripts for the pianoforte. His eyes moved along the spines and he stopped, looking at a thin volume of love poetry. He blushed, turning so that his back was to the shop owner. He wondered if the shop owner had a copy of “Tales of Love” and he felt his face heat up at the thought of having to ask or even explain the contents of the book.
He bit his lip and selected a collection of hymns, carefully flipping through the pages, trying to hide his face until he felt calmer. He really was not a prude. Through his travels in France and Africa, he often heard ribald stories of love and sexual pursuits. He just didn’t have a great deal of practical experience – discounting the times that Adam touched him. He pressed his hand to his face and closed his eyes for a moment, the hand holding the book starting to shake. He wasn’t stupid; he understood his body’s ability to feel pleasure. He just believed in discretion and decorum more.
Kris put the book back on the shelves and he turned to leave the shop. He smiled at the shop owner. “I shall return at another time.”
“Please visit us soon, sir.”
He pushed the door open and stepped out onto the bustling street, breathing deeply and tugging on his cravat to loosen the knot slightly.
“Good afternoon, Kris.”
Kris looked up to see Nells standing nearby, a wide smile on his face. Kris looked around, biting his lip, feeling caught out. He turned to Adam’s brother and offered a polite smile. “Good afternoon, Lord Lambert.”
“Nonsense, you will call me Nells. We are to be brothers by law in just a couple of days,” he said, chuckling softly and walking closer to Kris. “Would you care to take a walk with me to the park?”
He wanted to say no, but he didn’t want to be impolite.
“I would also like to apologize for my behavior and to get to know you as my future brother,” Nells said, keeping his voice soft and looking at Kris with polite interest. “But I would understand if you don’t feel comfortable to be with me. I am willing to wait to earn your trust in me.”
Kris smiled at him, pleased by his words, and he let out his breath. “I think a walk in the park is a lovely idea.”
Nells chuckled, sounding relieved. “Thank you. I was hoping that you would not be too angry with me and would accept my company and friendship.”
They started walking along Bond Street towards Hyde Park. Kris tucked his hands into his pockets and smiled.
“I’m open to starting again – I mean, a new friendship, that is,” he said, blushing.
“I understood your meaning perfectly, Kris,” Nells said, smiling.
“I didn’t know that Adam had a brother.”
Nells laughed; it was a rich and throaty sound. “I’m sure my brother would like to forget that I exist. I’m younger than Adam by just three years and we’ve always been a little too close, a little too competitive. I’ve been away in the Colonies, studying, and I was summoned by our mother to return for Adam’s wedding. I didn’t know that he was engaged to you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have acted so abominably when we met.”
Kris sighed. “I’m afraid that I wasn’t myself at the time, too. So let us just forgive and forget the past and be friends.”
He chuckled, nodding slowly. “All right. Brothers.”
“Though, please let me say that while I regret my impropriety, I certainly don’t regret how we met,” Nells said, softly.
Kris turned and looked up at him, a pleasant warmth moving down his spine. “Well…I…”
“I believe in being honest with one’s feelings,” he continued, smiling at Kris. “And in another time and world, perhaps we would’ve met first.”
“That’s a very nice notion.” A part of Kris wished for the same.
They crossed the greenery of the park, walking slowly in companionable silence. Kris smiled as he watched ladies and gentlemen strolling together, mothers and nannies with small children playing cheerfully in the grass. He ducked his head, pleased to have a friend in Nells. He thought that if Adam could’ve been more like Nells, Kris would’ve been more likely to think favorably of him, would’ve forgiven Adam for his excesses because he would know that Adam was a sweet and dear man inside, at his core. And with a bit of regret, Kris wished for things that he had no right to think about.
Nells was charming and funny. Kris laughed a great deal, listening to his stories of his first months in the Colonies, how out of place he felt and all of the foolish mistakes he made. His tongue was as sharp as his wit and Kris boggled at how truly different he was to Adam. There was no cruelty in him and he was full of good humor at his own pretentions rather than pointing it out in others.
He walked Kris to his home in Grosvenor Square and Kris chuckled again, stopping in front of his house, gazing up at Nells.
“Would you like to come inside for tea?”
Nells smiled at him. “I would love to; but I have not been formally introduced to your family and it would be out of bounds for me to accept at this time.”
Kris blushed, looking down. “Yes, you’re right. Thank you for reminding me. I admit that I got a little carried away by the start of our friendship. I’ll ask my mother to invite you and your family to supper tomorrow night.”
“I’d like that very much, Kris.”
He took a deep breath. “Nells, it’ll be good to have a friend – a brother – when I move into your brother’s home after the wedding.”
Nells gave him a polite bow and smiled down at him. “I will see you soon.”
“Good bye,” he said, smiling with anticipation. He took the steps to the front door and turned to watch as Nells continued down the street. He smiled and waved when Nells looked over his shoulder at Kris, giving him a vibrant and beautiful smile. Kris chuckled and then turned, opening the door and walking into the front of the house, pleased and warm from the long walk and the prospect of having a new friend.
“Mother, I’m home,” he called, walking down the hall and into the sitting room. “Mother, I’ve just—ohhh! Adam…I wasn’t expecting you.”
Adam looked out the window and then turned to stare at him for a long moment. Kris swallowed, knowing that Adam must’ve watched him outside with Nells. Adam motioned to the small box tied with a pretty bow on the table. “I have brought you a gift. It’s customary to share a gift between us before our wedding day.”
“I—I was at Bond Street looking for a gift for you,” Kris stammered, wishing he had bought something now. “I’m afraid that you are, um, difficult to shop for but I haven’t given up on finding just the right gift for you.”
Adam raised his eyebrow in response. “Are you going to open your gift now?”
Kris smiled and picked up the small box. It was heavy in his hand and he carefully untied the ribbon and slipped off the lid. Nestled inside was a beautifully carved box. The detail of the unicorn in a forest and the Goddess of the Hunt were like drawings, intricate and exotic. Kris had never seen anything like it before except in a museum. He was truly moved by the gesture. “Adam, it’s beautiful. The craftsmanship is amazing.” He pulled out the wooden box and turned it in his hands, brushing his fingertips along the carvings.
He thumbed up the lid carefully and was surprised by the sound of gentle music. He stared at it for a long time and inhaled deeply, lifting his head to smile at Adam. “Thank you, Adam.”
Adam leaned against the window, cocking his head and looking at Kris from his feet to his head. “Did you enjoy your date with my brother?”
“It wasn’t a date,” Kris said, hurriedly. He closed the music box and set it gently on the table. “I was at a book shop and Nells was walking past and—“
“Are you really this naïve, Kris?” Adam smirked, narrowing his eyes. “Do you think he’s after your friendship?”
“He was a perfect gentleman.”
“Do you know why my brother was sent away from home?”
“He said that he went to study—“
Adam laughed, walking towards him. “Nells is gifted in that he can charm the Devil. It seems to run in the Lambert bloodline; or perhaps he learned how to seduce people from me. Mother was tired of having to deal with not just one but two sons who were rebellious, so she decided, in her infinite wisdom, to send Nells to our cousins in the hopes that if we were separated, at least one of us would bring honor back to the Lambert name.”
Kris frowned. “Adam, I wouldn’t—“
Adam raised his eyebrow, tilting his chin. “Ohhh?”
“We walked through the park and shared company,” he said, shaking his head. “Nothing happened. I won’t ever do anything – like that – again.”
“He’s playing a game with you.”
“But I’m not playing a game. And this is very ugly of you to say these things to me.” He turned towards the door to the hallway about to ask Adam to leave when Adam grabbed him by the shoulders, turning him and pulling him close against him. “Adam!”
“Did you let him touch you?”
“No!” He said, trying to twist away.
Adam only held him tighter and Kris could feel him hard against his hip. He felt hot all over, his own body reacting to Adam’s familiar touch. “Does he make you feel like this?”
“Please, Adam! Not here!” He whispered, harshly, not wanting to bring the servants – or his mother or David – into the room.
The kiss was urgent and wet and Kris couldn’t stop the moan as he arched against Adam. His hands grabbed for Adam’s shoulders, trying to break his strong embrace, twisting against him as Adam was unrelenting, forcing his mouth open, the tip of his tongue licking the roof of his mouth and making Kris shudder to his toes. He made a whimpering noise and panted harshly when Adam moved his hand into his hair, clutching tightly to hold him still, deepening the kiss.
Adam was the one to end the kiss. Kris stared up at him, dazed, scared, aroused, as Adam reached up to jerk down the cravat. His hand twisted in Kris’s hair as Kris made a helpless noise of pleasure, turning his head so that Adam could stare at the faint mark on his neck. He made an angry sound in his throat and pressed his opened mouth against the side of Kris’s neck, licking his skin and sucking hard. Kris sighed noisily, shivering at the feel of his wet mouth on him, and he arched his head back even more, giving Adam permission to take more. It was always this way between them – Adam would demand and Kris would give. And even though Adam made him feel pleasure, Kris quickly learned that it wasn’t just to give him pleasure, but to force Kris to submit to it. That was Adam’s game. But this – this didn’t feel like a game he was playing. This felt…real. The little bruise that Nells left on his neck bothered Adam. He sucked harder and Kris knew that there would be a very red and very obvious bruise on his neck.
Kris pressed his lips together, trying to stifle his moans. He stopped trying to fight and he sank against Adam’s hard body, letting out a deep groan when Adam bit him lightly. He was about to curl his arms around Adam’s neck when he was suddenly released, steadied on his feet, and Adam was moving quickly away. He bit down on his tongue to stop himself from begging Adam to stay.
He watched Adam grab his jacket from the armchair, storming out of the room and into the hallway. Kris blinked, shaking his head, and startled when he heard the front door slam. He walked to the window to see Adam pulling on his jacket carelessly and roughly, hurrying down the street, his face tense and angry and unforgiving.
Kris let out a heavy sigh and closed his eyes, pressing his forehead against the coolness of the glass. He really didn’t understand Adam Lambert at all.
The ceremony was simple and quiet. Kris stood in front of Adam and tried to smile at him, but Adam wouldn’t meet his eyes and showed that he was uninterested or scowled when he did stare at Kris. Kris stuttered through his vows and Adam repeated them tonelessly. His hand was shaking as he placed the ring on Adam’s finger. Adam gripped his wrist painfully hard as he slipped the heavy gold band on Kris’s finger. The kiss was perfunctory and Adam grabbed his hand, nearly pulling him down the aisle and to the awaiting carriage. Neither spoke on the way to Adam’s large city home where they would host the reception.
Kris was a nervous wreck. He was glad to have his family nearby, staying close to his cousin, Katherine, who was very shy and had begged Kris to keep her company so that she wouldn’t be alone. He thought that the party was divided – Kris’s quiet family on one side of the room, Adam’s boisterous family and his vivacious friends on the other side. Thankfully, when the musicians began to play cheerful music and the wine and food were set out, both sides of the room began to mingle.
He looked across the room to see Adam leaning against the wall, drinking, as Brad stood beside him, smirking and talking into his ear. On occasion, Adam would glance his way but his expression seemed to be permanently set on annoyance.
A few times, Kris saw Nells watching him, smiling at him, eyes full of want and desire. Kris knew better than to be anywhere near or alone with Nells. He felt Adam’s presence and his attention on him, it felt as if he knew where Kris was at all times, even if it didn’t appear that Adam was actually looking at him. He didn’t know what happened that day when Adam left his home, if Adam and Nells fought or had words. But Kris could guess that something did happen as Nells didn’t approach him. He just gave Kris longing glances across the room. It made Kris sad to think that Nells was just like Adam, just toying with him for his own amusement, and that he wouldn’t have a friend in him once all the guests left.
He was not sure what the wedding night would bring. He was nervous because Adam was so distant and angry. He knew it had to be consummated and there was no need to delay the inevitable.
The clock in the hallway chimed ten bells. He smiled at Katherine and kissed her hand, bowing politely. “I shall say my good night now.”
She blushed and curtseyed in return. “I wish you nothing but happiness tonight.”
“It’s my wish, too,” he murmured, softly, forcing a smile on his face so that she would keep her romantic ideals. When he looked across the room, he saw Adam glaring at him and he dropped his gaze, taking a breath. He walked out of the room slowly, ignoring the knowing looks of the people watching him leave for the main staircase to the upper floors.
Their marriage was not based on love or true affection, but Kris still hoped for friendship. He was willing to try, for both of their sakes. Adam didn’t love him and Kris didn’t love Adam. They were married now and it was Kris’s duty to accept his husband, warts and all, and try to make the best of it. He owed Adam for saving his family. Kris was raised to be an honorable man, it was the only thing he had left, and he would fulfill all of his duties to Adam.
Chapter 8: Adam Lambert
Adam woke up to what sounded like Big Ben ringing inside of his head. For the love of anything holy… He groaned and opened his eyes, but flinched and shut them again from the brightness of the room. He rubbed his face with his hands, rolling to his side. With a loud sigh, he attempted to open his eyes again and stared at the undisturbed pillow beside him.
Well, where did his husband scurry off to?
Everything was a blur. He sat up slowly, grasping his pounding head. He regretted having so much to drink. All he remembered was being irritated the whole day – his wedding day of all days – and wanting to punch Nells. Beyond that, Adam didn’t really remember the rest of the night.
He kicked off the covers and found that he was half dressed, pants tangled at his knees. They must have consummated the marriage, considering his state of undress and the dried streaks on his body, and Adam groaned, sinking back on the bed, thinking that last night he probably wasn’t at his best. Did he even give Kris any kind of pleasure?
He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes and took deep, steadying breaths, trying to relieve the pressure and throbbing behind his eyes. He had flashes of memory: Kris trying to placate him, Nells watching Kris all night long with that look of open longing, Brad snickering in his ear about virgins, kissing Kris, pressing him down on the bed, ripping off Kris’s pants--
Adam sat up, gasping, nauseous and horrified. He slid off the bed, tripping over his clothes in his hurry to the water closet, emptying the remains of his sour stomach into a clean chamber pot. He sank against the floor, catching his breath.
It was not the kind of memory he was expecting; but to be honest, it didn’t surprise him. He was capable of intense cruelty when he was angry. Adam closed his eyes and leaned his head against the wall, fighting back the dry heaves. It was not the kind of wedding night he wanted to share with Kris. He couldn’t even imagine what his new husband must be thinking or feeling – well, he could imagine, he just hoped that there was enough generosity in Kris’s heart to forgive him. But why on earth would Kris want to forgive him? What had Adam done but to make Kris feel completely trapped into this marriage and then abused his position to get what he wanted?
Would Kris even want to stay in this marriage? And how could Adam stop him from leaving?
Adam turned the corner towards the kitchens when he heard someone playing the pianoforte in the main salon. He walked towards the door and peered inside to see Kris sitting at the pianoforte, playing a beautiful, slow melody. Adam looked at him closely, unobserved, and wondered how much his husband must hate him now. He swallowed hard, taking a deep breath, prepared to face Kris’s wrath. He stepped into the room and froze when he heard Kris sing.
It was an old English hymnal that Adam recognized from his days at Cambridge; Kris’s voice was deep and full of raw emotion. Adam was…amazed. Transfixed. He didn’t know that Kris could sing. Then again, there were a lot of things about his new husband that Adam didn’t know and he was fascinated. He stepped further into the room, listening to the lyrics, and he took a deep breath and sang along with Kris, letting his high notes blend with Kris’s lower voice.
Kris stopped singing and turned to look at him, his face showing his surprise. His fingers slipped off the keys and Adam held the note for a moment before stopping. He smiled at Kris and then walked closer to him.
Kris nodded, looking down at the keys. “Good morning.”
“You sing beautifully,” he said, smiling at him. “I hadn’t known you were so talented.”
“I admit to being shy about performing for others,” he said, simply. He looked up at Adam and attempted a smile. “I didn’t know that you…liked music.”
“I do. In fact, I love it. It’s been a long time since I had any reason to sing.” Adam fiddled with his robe’s sash. “Kris…last night was—“
“I think that it would be best to not discuss it,” Kris said, softly. “The wedding night was consummated and…and I’m prepared to accept you as my husband and fulfill my duties to our marriage.”
Adam bit his lip and stood beside the pianoforte looking at him. It was such an obligation. Duties. But neither had married for love so Adam had no reason to complain or wish for anything more. Kris looked tired, there were dark circles around his eyes, and his face was pale and drawn. He was already dressed in his morning suit, everything buttoned up properly. He looked immaculate as always, but Adam sensed that Kris wore his clothes like a shield, armor against Adam. He felt his stomach clench at the thought that Kris was…afraid of him. He didn’t want Kris to be afraid of him; one of the things that he found so utterly attractive about Kris were those few moments when Kris stood up to him and faced him fearlessly. The man sitting in front of the pianoforte was just a shadow of the man Adam married.
“Did I hurt you?” He whispered, not wanting to know Kris’s answer.
Kris flushed deeply and didn’t look at Adam. That was answer enough. “No.”
“I am truly sorry for…any pain that I caused you,” he said, earnestly. “It’s no excuse but I was not myself. I’ll do everything in my power to make it up to you, Kris.”
He watched Kris for a long moment, who sat still, breathing deeply. Finally, Kris looked at him but didn’t meet his eyes, instead looking at his shoulder. “Then perhaps you will be kind enough to let me have my own rooms.”
Adam frowned, pressing his lips together to keep from saying no. “Your own rooms?”
Kris met his eyes for a brief moment before flickering away. “Yes.”
“This is my home now, Adam, and I would feel more comfortable in our marriage if I had rooms of my own,” he said, his voice low and neutral, not even a hint of anger.
Adam sighed and nodded, looking away. He couldn’t refuse, even though he wanted to very much. “Of course, Kris, anything you want.”
He watched as Kris ran his fingers along the ivory keys of the pianoforte. “Would you like to visit the Vauxhall Gardens today?”
“Actually, I…no, I am feeling tired and…I thought to rest a bit more, if you would permit it.”
Adam rubbed his forehead. “Kris—“
“I know you made our plans for the…honeymoon…but I would beg to delay it for a couple of weeks. My cousins are visiting and I would very much like to see them while they are here,” Kris said, softly. “We can always go to Brighton in the summer.”
“I see,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I won’t deny you time with your family.”
The formality between them was killing him. Adam stared at the floor and nodded his reluctant acceptance, moving away from the pianoforte and leaving the room. He heard Kris resume playing the pianoforte, the soft strains of a sad, melodic tune filling the room. Adam understood that there was an even greater gulf between them; he was certain now that his actions from their wedding night had driven the last nail into the coffin of their marriage.
Adam stared at the documents that his business managers in France and India sent him, but he couldn’t concentrate on what any of the numbers meant. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, pressing his fingers against his temples and rubbing deeply. He was utterly distracted, his mind wondering what Kris was doing, how he passed his days, meeting him only at the table each night only for Kris to answer softly when asked direct questions. Nells would try to engage Kris in conversation, but he was even more reluctant to speak to him, which gratified Adam but not by much, and Lady Lambert watched them, but she didn’t say a word during the strained suppers, attempting to distract them with gossip about various goings on around London.
“Now that is not the face of a husband in the happy throes of his marriage,” Nells noted as he walked into Adam’s study. “I heard that you’ve delayed your honeymoon. Bored of your little husband already?”
Adam opened his eyes to study his younger brother. “What do you want?”
“I’m curious, Adam,” Nells began, sitting down in a plush armchair, gazing at him. “Kris walks around this house like he’s grieving the loss of a loved one. What on earth did you do to him?”
“Nothing!” Adam shouted, sitting up straight, glaring at him.
Nells smirked, raising his eyebrow. “Quite defensive, aren’t you?”
“Wedding night not go smoothly then?” He said, chuckling knowingly. “Were you disappointed – or was Kris disappointed?”
Adam wouldn’t deign a response. “I ask again, what do you want?”
“I wanted permission to take your new husband to the theatre or the races or some other proper amusements,” Nells said, off-handedly. “He’s stuck inside this house with no friends, no company, and no interesting distractions. You’ve completed neglected and isolated him and it’s been a month since you said your vows. I feel badly for him, to be stuck in such a loveless marriage, especially with an ogre like you.”
Adam rolled his eyes and laughed. “He’s not stupid, Nells. He can see right through your sordid games and machinations.”
“Like the way he sees through yours?” His brother smiled. “Never mind. I am determined to be his friend again since he doesn’t have a friend in you.”
Adam watched as Nells stood up, graceful and sensual. Nells grinned, giving Adam a mocking bow.
“Don’t touch him ever again, Nells.”
“Really?” He said, laughing meanly. “And what if he touches me?”
“Get the bloody hell out of my sight,” Adam grumbled at him, watching Nells slink out of his study.
Kris was so very lonely.
The Lambert townhouse took up the width and length of a long street with a gorgeous private garden behind it. Kris often walked through the garden, alone with his thoughts, numbed with loneliness. He kept to his suite of rooms on the other side of the house, he visited his mother and brother and didn’t let them see his sadness, and he walked through the gardens, sitting in the warmth of a balmy spring reading the classics.
Sometimes, he would see Adam standing at the window of his study, watching him as he walked the gardens, but he never joined Kris outside. Nells would visit him outside and they would exchange brief conversations about the unusually warm spring, but Kris was too wary of him to allow anything more than civil conversation. Lady Lambert treated him like her own, which he was grateful for, and she would take him to the city for lunches at his favorite restaurants, introduce him to other young married couples in the hopes that Kris would enjoy a more social life. He received many invitations to dinners and parties, but that would mean asking Adam to accompany him and Kris wasn’t sure if he was ready to be so scrutinized in public with his husband.
With a heavy sigh, Kris sat down on a marble bench and closed his eyes, just listening to the music of the gardens and the life of the city beyond the garden walls. He could hear light laughter of a young girl from beyond the gardens, the sound of hoofs on the stone streets as carriages past the house, the scent of flowers on the warm breeze. He had the same experiences every day and he admitted to himself that he was lonely…and bored.
Kris opened his eyes to see Nells standing nearby, leaning against the tree trunk. He smiled warmly at Kris. “Hello, Nells.”
“I can’t stand to see you like this,” Nells said, softly. “You’ve lost that light in your eyes and you never smile anymore unless it is for mother, though I’m sure she more than deserves your smiles for her. I see you dying every day and I won’t stand by and let it happen anymore.”
Kris bit his lip and looked down at his feet. “I’m married to your brother.”
“Yes and that’s partly the problem, isn’t it?”
“If you are looking for a convenient distraction, you won’t find it in me,” he said, frowning slightly. “I won’t make that same mistake.”
“I’m looking to be your friend, Kris.”
“Why?” He said, looking at Nells. He was curious to know the answer; he often wondered why Nells would bother. He didn’t think he was leading Nells on; and he didn’t think he was enough of a challenge to hold his interest. “What could you possibly gain from my friendship?”
“Do you think so little of yourself to doubt that I or anyone else would want your friendship?” Nells said, stepping closer to him. “What has my brother done to you? Kris, I think you would be a wonderful friend. I think you are a jewel in the rough, that you are natural and honest and loyal.”
Kris grinned at him and shook his head. “Such pretty words out of your mouth. How will I ever know that what you say is the truth instead of manipulation?”
“Won’t you let me prove myself to you? To give me that chance? Let me earn it, Kris, and I will be nothing but a good friend and brother to you.”
He was so tempted; he knew that he shouldn’t invite Nells any closer but he was so lonely.
“Kris,” Nells said, sitting on the bench beside him, but putting plenty of space between them. “If you give me that chance, I promise to never disappoint you again. I admit to being a liar and a scoundrel and a libertine, but you don’t need to fear any of that from me.”
“You sound so genuine,” he said, softly. He looked up to see Nells smiling tentatively at him; he looked hopeful. “I…I have been very lonely, Nells; I would like to have you as a friend, but…I am Adam’s husband now and…you mustn’t try to take advantage of me. I trust you to be my friend and a gentleman.”
“I swear to protect you as my brother,” he said, looking very serious. “How can I prove my sincerity?”
Kris sighed, wishing he was a stronger man. “I suppose we will just have to be friends now and only time will tell.”
“Lovely,” he said, chuckling softly. “And with that, I do have my brother’s permission to take you outside of this house for the evening. Would you like to visit the theatre tonight, Kris? The Lamberts have had our balcony box for over two generations and it would be a shame to waste it.”
“Are you sure Adam gave his permission?”
“I would not lie about this.”
Kris smiled, looking at him, pleased by the idea of going to the theatre. “Yes. I think I would like that very much, Nells. Thank you.”
“No thanks are needed, brother.”
Kris sat at his writing desk, working out his thoughts in his private journal, writing about his first months of marriage, Adam’s unimpeachable politeness to him, his growing friendship with Nells, and enjoying the company of sophisticated and witty members of Society. Now that he was a married man, he was taken seriously by his peers, often asked for his opinion on a variety of topics from politics to foreign affairs to wines to music. His favorite topic to discuss was music, but he was still far too shy to indulge himself to perform for his new friends, despite many pleas to hear him sing and play. Nells was the one “singing” Kris’s talent on the pianoforte to their new friends and Kris was pleased by his attention.
There was a soft knock on his study door. He set his writing quill in the inkwell and turned in his seat, clearing his throat. “Come in.”
The door opened and Kris was surprised to see Adam walk into his room. He stood, offering a small smile. “Adam, what can I do for you?”
“Good evening, Kris, I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“Of course not,” he said, his voice shaking slightly. Adam had only visited his rooms a couple of times. Kris was anxious that he was there to demand marital duties. “Please, come in. Shall I fix you a cup of tea?”
Adam gave him a small smile but shook his head. “No, thank you. I just wanted to let you know that we’re hosting a number of small parties over the course of the next few weeks. My business partners are visiting London and I would like for us to entertain them. We’ll host a number of dinners here and the rest of the time we can dine out.”
“Of course,” he said, nodding.
“I’d like your opinion on a number of my business ventures, if you have time to review the documents.”
Kris blinked, completely surprised. “I would be happy to review whatever you need.”
“Thank you,” Adam said, softly. He turned to go, but paused and looked at Kris. “I…” Kris waited, holding his breath, wondering what Adam would say or ask. Instead, Adam gave him a pretty smile. “Good night, Kris.”
“Good night,” he said, watching Adam leave his room, closing the door behind him. Kris sighed, feeling a deep sense of resentment forming in the pit of his stomach. Of course Adam didn’t want him, why would he? Kris was not as exciting as Adam’s friends. He wondered if Adam met them in secret, leaving in the early hours of the morning and returning before Kris noticed his absence.
He sat down at his writing desk and stared at his neat handwriting in his journal. Adam’s friends must think him such a fool. Did Adam go to Lord Bell and talk about Kris? Did they laugh behind his back? Did Adam spend his nights in someone else’s bed? Why did Kris even care? He should be pleased that he didn’t warrant Adam’s sexual attentions. He had not heard any rumors about Adam’s dalliances – and he was grateful for Adam’s discretion – but he felt…lost and stupid and…Kris didn’t even know what he felt when it came to his husband. He stared at the pages of his journal for a long time, only leaving his chair when the candle finally burned down to the quick.
Kris enjoyed meeting Adam’s business partners and he started to look forward to their dinners. They were lively, enthusiastic and charming gentlemen. He listened intently as Adam told witty stories at the table, entertaining his guests and his friends. Kris smiled, seeing a different side to him. He caught Adam watching him a few times and Kris would give him a shy smile which Adam returned and Kris felt a blush creep up his cheeks. He enjoyed his conversations with the people sitting beside him. He longed to travel to foreign lands and couldn’t stop asking questions about the different cultures and languages and music that they encountered.
But, afterwards, Kris dreaded the silent carriage ride back to the townhouse. Adam was always attentive in front of his guests, but in the carriage, he merely sat across from Kris, looking out the window. They hardly ever spoke and when they did, it was always formal and polite. Kris chided himself – isn’t this what he wanted? Didn’t he want Adam to be a gentleman? And by all accounts, Adam was the perfect gentleman now. Lady Lambert commented that she was glad Adam was settling into his position as head of the family. Many of Kris’s new friends often remarked on how lucky Kris must be; that his life with Adam must be interesting. They teased him about turning Adam into a respectable member of Society. Kris blushed at their words, unable to reveal the truth.
He remembered Lord Bell’s words about being in a cold marriage. Adam wasn’t cold, though, just distant and aloof. They spoke about business and he welcomed Kris’s opinions. Kris discovered that he was a thoughtful and careful businessman. He was generous with his wealth, providing for the poor and orphaned. But beyond conversations of business, they sat in silence, neither open to anything more.
The carriage stopped in front of the townhouse and Adam opened the door, slipping out first and waiting for Kris to step down. He closed the door and Kris walked up the front walk to the front doors.
“Will you need the carriage again, sir?” The groomsman called down to him.
“No, not tonight.”
Kris swallowed, his hand on the doorknob.
“Kris?” Adam called.
He didn’t dare turn around to look at Adam. No, not tonight. Without a word to Adam, Kris hastily went to his rooms. He shut the door and leaned on it, feeling his heart beating rapidly. He didn’t need the carriage tonight, but he had taken it out on other nights. Did Adam return Kris home and then leave again? How often did that happen? And where did he go?
He walked to the windows overlooking the street. He hid behind the curtains and wasn’t surprised to see Adam standing on the front steps, looking around the street. He was still dressed in his dinner clothes and Kris watched as he walked down the steps, turning to walk along the street.
Kris decided that he had to know. He quickly left his rooms and out of the house, turning to the left and walking slowly, keeping his eyes on Adam’s tall figure. Thankfully, it was not too late and there were many people walking about so that Kris could hide behind anyone if Adam was to look behind him, but he never did. He walked with his back straight, so proud and strong, uncaring that Kris was following him to wherever it was that he was going.
Adam continued down the street until he reached a well-manicured townhouse. Kris stood across the street, hidden by the corner of the house. He watched as Adam walked up the front steps as the door opened and a beautiful woman dressed in a red velvet dress opened the door, smiling at him and taking his hand and pulling him inside. Kris frowned, walking across the street to the house. He slowly walked up the path to the steps and then looked into the windows to see a number of people inside. Kris didn’t need to be told that this was a house of ill-repute.
He grabbed the railing when he saw Adam enter the main salon. He smiled easily and widely as he was greeted by the people in the room. A few scantily dressed girls hurried to him, curling their arms around him and kissing his cheeks or his lips. Adam laughed, holding them against him. Kris watched as a number of very pretty young men walked up to Adam, leaning close to him, and Adam stroked their heads affectionately, kissing their cheeks and laughing when one of them whispered into his ear. The woman in the red velvet dress took Adam’s arm and led him away from the others, showing Adam a place at a gambling table, introducing him to the other men sitting with him. Adam looked relaxed and…happy.
So this was where he went for his amusements. Kris took a deep breath and turned away, slowly walking down the steps. He returned to their townhouse and went to his rooms. Unthinkingly, he undressed and finished his evening ablutions before settling himself into his bed. He stared at the ceiling for a long time, unable to sleep. He was sick of being the fool and he swore that he would not be a victim in his lifeless marriage anymore. He would find his own amusements and he would pull Nells in as his ultimate accomplice and ally. He pressed his hand against his eyes, trembling with…anticipation.
Kristopher Allen was no one’s fool; especially not a fool for Adam.
He sat in the main salon, waiting for Nells. He had left a note under Nells’s door, asking him to meet Kris after everyone had gone to bed. Kris tapped his fingers nervously on the arm of the sofa and he took deep breaths to calm his fluttering stomach. He looked up when Nells entered the room, closing the door behind him.
“Kris, is something the matter?”
“No,” he said, softly. “In fact, everything is fine.”
Nells grinned. “Then why this secrecy?”
“I would like for you to take me to the gambling houses.”
Kris stood up and stared at Nells. “I’m sick of being the fool in this marriage. I know that Adam sneaks off into the night to houses of ill-repute. He has not touched me since our wedding night and I am tired of being ignorant and stupid.”
“You are neither ignorant nor stupid.”
“But I have been a fool, have I not?”
Nells stared at him for a long moment. “You are quite determined. What if I refuse?”
Kris gave him a sharp look. “Then I will have to fend for myself, won’t I?” He watched as Nells bit his lip, exactly the way Adam bit his lip when he was anxious or angry. “Who knows what kind of trouble I will find myself in, since I know nothing of this lifestyle that you and your brother seem to flit in and out of so expertly.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Why must I be the one to sit here and pine for a life that I will never have? My husband continues to enjoy all of the pleasures of life of a bachelor,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I want to taste it for myself.”
“Kris, please, I don’t think—“
“If you are my friend, then you will accompany me and introduce me to every sordid establishment that this city has to offer.”
“You don’t know what you ask.”
“But I know what I want.”
“Adam will kill us both,” Nells whispered, shaking his head. “He will kill me certainly. You…I don’t know what he will do to you but I won’t risk it.”
Kris snorted, rolling his eyes. “How unfair of him to rule us both.”
He watched as Nells narrowed his eyes, frowning at Kris. He pressed his lips tightly and then sighed. “Are you sure, Kris?”
“Don’t be a coward now, Nells, not when I need you,” he said, looking into Nells’s eyes. He hid his smile, seeing the impact of his words. How easy it was to manipulate him.
Nells took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I’ll take you where you want; but make me one promise first.”
Kris nodded once, waiting.
“Do not hate me when this is over.”
“I could never hate you,” he said, smiling warmly at him. “You are my only friend. I trust no one else to take me to these places, no one else but you.”
It was gratifying to see Nells weaken, to be so taken in and persuaded by Kris’s pretty words. For the first time, Kris felt…powerful, in control of his own life and destiny. This is what they must feel, he thought, watching as Nells ran a nervous hand over his thick brown hair. This is how they feel when they flaunted Society’s rules to do their own will.
Kris smiled to himself. And now he knew. There was no going back, there was only going forward, for good or ill, and Kris wanted to be bold and fearless with his life. For once, he didn’t give a bloody damn about his name, his reputation, or anything else but his own desire for…revenge.
Kris laughed loudly and drunkenly as Nells half carried him up the servant’s stairs to the second floor of the townhouse.
“Please, for the love of God, please shut up!” Nells hissed into his ear, putting his hand over Kris’s mouth.
Kris grabbed his hand and pulled it down, laughing into Nells’s face. “Who would have thought you would be so prudish!”
“I am so very much in love with the world right now,” Kris proclaimed, giggling. “I have pockets full of money earned at the Pharo table! And I have imbibed a whole bottle of hard liquor on my own!” He laughed again, tightening the arm around Nells’s neck and pressing his face against his cheek. “It was a lovely evening! We must do this every night.”
“You’ll be feeling the effects in the morning and then it won’t be so lovely,” Nells grumbled at him, dragging him into Kris’s bedroom.
“I see why you and Adam enjoy this feeling so much,” Kris slurred, taking a deep breath and then letting out a loud burp. He giggled again, covering his mouth. “Bloody hell. It doesn’t taste as good coming back up as it did going down, does it?”
Nells sighed, dropping Kris on top of his bed. “No, love, it doesn’t.”
“Will you help me get undressed for bed? I cannot seem to manage all of my buttons,” Kris said, blinking up at Nells.
“For the love of—Kris, please!”
“I am very drunk, aren’t I?”
Kris laughed, staring up at the ceiling. “Well, you must be my valet and undress me for bed. I cannot sleep like this. But you must also promise not to look at any of my bits because that is not proper.”
“Undressing you isn’t proper either!”
“What the hell does that mean?” Nells said, glaring at him.
Kris laughed, looking at his pinched face. “It means that I know you would like to see me naked and perhaps even touch me inappropriately. I have a theory that all Lambert men want to touch me inappropriately, though I must say that the follow through is something left to be desired.”
Nells stared at him, his eyes wide, eyebrows nearly up to his hairline. Kris snickered, rolling his eyes.
“Ahh…you will play the coward again,” Kris said, sighing mockingly. He sat up and began taking off his jacket, tossing it on the floor. He reached up for his cravat and pulled it off, throwing it at Nells. He kicked off his boots and shucked down his pants, throwing them across the room. He giggled when Nells started to move about the room, picking up pieces of Kris’s clothing. He took off his shirt and then tossed it over Nells’s head, laughing loudly.
“Get under the covers, you mad man!” Nells urged, looking away as Kris lumbered to his knees, uncaring of his modesty.
“Do you find my arse to be pleasant to look at?” Kris said, looking over his shoulder at Nells. He laughed when Nells flushed a deep red. And somewhere inside of him, Kris thought it would be very funny to shake his naked bum at Nells. “Look at it! Is it as lovely as the other boys that you fuck?”
“God,” Nells muttered, his eyes flicking down the length of Kris’s body. “Kris…”
“What is this?”
Kris looked up to see Adam standing in his doorway, wearing a robe over his nightclothes. He laughed loudly as Adam stormed into his bedroom.
“Oh look! It’s my husband! Have you come to tuck me in, Adam?”
“Are you drunk?” Adam said, his voice tense. He turned and glared at Nells. “Where did you take him to get him so drunk?”
Kris snorted and pulled at the bedding, getting under the covers and looking at the two of them. “Nells and I have made our rounds over three gambling houses, two pubs, and one boxing match. I won forty Sterling at the Pharo table. Tell him how good I am at gambling, Nells.”
“Get out of this room now before I kill you with my hands,” Adam growled at Nells through clenched teeth.
Nells set Kris’s clothes in a chair. “Adam, it’s not what—“
“I said get out! I will deal with you in the morning.”
Kris laughed. “Ohhhh, Nells, I think you’re in trouble.”
“Get some sleep, Kris,” Nells offered, leaving the room quickly.
Kris made a face, waving his fingers at him. He laughed again, settling against the plush mound of pillows under his head. He gave a sigh and then turned his head to look at Adam. “Are you still here? Get out of my room, Adam.”
“What in the bloody hell were you thinking?”
“I was thinking…hmm…I was just having some fun, Adam, there’s no need to get your knickers into a knot,” he said, giggling softly. “Now, I do need my rest. I expect that I will be in terrible pain tomorrow. Go on, get out now. You’ve had your little show for the night. I’m sure you’ll find your own amusements elsewhere.”
He closed his eyes, not bothering to look at Adam. He was very tired, the effects of the alcohol and carousing until the early hours catching up with him. He smiled and breathed out a noisy sigh, letting his limbs get heavier and heavier. Was Adam still in his room? He hadn’t said anything more. Kris didn’t care. He was quite happy with himself and he didn’t have any regrets.
Chapter 9: Adam Lambert
Nells argued that Kris should be allowed his fun; that he would make sure to keep Kris from doing anything that would raise the ire of Society. Adam gave his brother the benefit of the doubt because he was still feeling guilty and contrite at his own behavior towards Kris.
“If anything should happen—“
“Nothing will happen, Adam,” Nells said, rolling his eyes. “Your protectiveness is stifling him; it was killing him slowly. Do you not see the changes? He’s so lively and happy. You can’t take this away from him now.”
Adam clenched his jaw but allowed them the freedom to enjoy their adventures. He allowed it on the condition that Kris’s reputation would not be sullied and he made sure that Nells knew that he would be at fault for everything. He wasn’t surprised that Nells agreed to it so quickly.
“Promise that you will ensure his safety, Nells.”
“Of course I promise, brother. I won’t let anything happen to Kris.”
For weeks, Adam watched in silence as Kris and Nells left the townhouse in the wee hours of the night, disappearing into the carriage in front of the house. Adam had spoken with the groomsmen and learned that he was taking them to gambling halls and gentlemen clubs throughout the city. Adam paid them well for their discretion, telling them to ensure Kris’s safety at the establishments that they visited, and to report on Kris’s activities to him in secret.
Soon after, Adam received messages from his friends, telling him that they saw Kris and Nells at the clubs, at the races, in the fighting halls, in gambling halls, in bawdy bars and pubs. They noted that Kris would drink and laugh and dance; that he learned to sing bawdy pub songs; and that Nells acted protectively of Kris, rescuing him from others’ attentions. A few mentioned that Nells and Kris were affectionate with each other, but that they hadn’t crossed the line of propriety.
It was that unmentioned “yet” that bothered him the most. Nells had broken his promise; Society was watching Kris now.
But Adam let it continue; he believed that Kris just needed to sow some wild oats; that he had led a sheltered life and Adam could not hold it against him for finding adventures of his own. He wondered who instigated these trips to London’s underground playrooms.
And then he started to receive the Letter of Debts from gambling halls and pubs, the amounts surprising even him. He paid them quickly and cleared all of Kris’s debts. He waited for Kris to say something to him, but he acted as if he hadn’t done anything. Nells was always in good humor and his steady gaze gave nothing away. Adam watched them at supper, found the change in Kris’s demeanor at the table to be fascinating. His brother seemed to have brought Kris out of his shell; the two of them laughing and teasing each other with gossip. At any other time, Adam would’ve found it delightful to see his brother and his husband getting along.
But now, he watched Nells carefully. He saw the way that Nells would smile at Kris, his smile full of affection and warmth. His eyes were always following Kris, but it wasn’t that leering look Adam was used to seeing on his brother’s face. Nells gazed at Kris with something more than affection – he was in love with Kris. It was so completely apparent now; and whether Kris knew or not, it didn’t matter. Given the right opportunity, Adam knew that his brother wouldn’t be able to resist and he would seduce Kris and take him to his bed.
Adam dispatched letters to his businesses in the Colonies, letting them know that he would be sending Nells to them in short order to act in his proxy. He had their family Solicitor move funds to the Colonies, giving Nells a very comfortable living, more money than he would be able to spend in his lifetime. And then he sent a note to his brother, asking him to meet Adam in his study.
Nells sauntered into the room, smiling at Adam. “I was summoned?”
“I wish to speak to you about Kris.”
“You’re in love with him,” Adam said, looking at Nells.
“Don’t be ridic—“
“You cannot lie to me. You never could, Nells.” Adam sighed, feeling a small bit of compassion for his brother. “I cannot fault you for your choice. Kris is a lovely young man. You’ve grown close to him these past few months. It’s very obvious that you are not the man you were before. I feel it has something to do with how you feel for Kris.” He stood up from his chair and stared at his brother. “But you forget that he is married to me, Nells. I have never shared my lovers and I certainly will not share Kris with you or anyone else. I would kill anyone who would even think of trying to take him away from me.”
“You don’t even love him!”
Adam smiled, giving him a ruthless look. “Does that matter? He’s mine.”
“He’s not your possession, Adam.”
“Of course. He’s my husband.”
“It’s a pity that you don’t treat him like a husband.”
Adam grinned, looking at his brother. He let out a soft chuckle. “Ohh, Nells, I never thought I’d live to see the day that you’d fall in love with someone other than yourself.” The mirth left him completely. “And you have fallen in love with my husband. That’s crossing the line.”
Nells looked away and closed his eyes. “What do you want me to do?”
“You have two choices: you can face me in a duel where I will protect my husband’s honor or you can return to the Colonies and pursue whatever amusements you have there.”
His brother turned and stared at him. “But Adam! I want to be home. I want to be here, in London!”
“Then you accept my challenge for the duel?”
Nells opened his mouth and then closed it. “You would…kill me?”
“I wouldn’t kill you, but I would leave you a reminder why it is unwise to love another man’s husband.”
“I did not plan falling in love with him, if it’s any consolation.”
“It’s not. But I will do what I must in order to salvage what is left of Kris’s good name, which happens to be my good name now. I haven’t worked this hard to make changes to my life to have—“ Adam took a deep breath and clenched his hands tightly. “You will return to the Colonies before the week’s end. You will manage our family businesses there. It’s time that you took on responsibilities as the second son. You will not tell him your feelings. You will not take Kris on anymore adventures into London. You will not write to him or communicate with him for any reason. And you will return to London only at my invitation.”
“You are being unfair.”
Adam arched his eyebrow. “You betrayed my trust, Nells! How else am I to treat you but like this?”
“Nothing ever happened!”
“Not yet!” Adam said, narrowing his eyes at him. “Tell me how long until you acted on your feelings and tried to seduce him?”
“I wouldn’t do that to him,” he said, frowning. “He said he trusted me to be a gentleman and a brother and that is exactly what I’ve been to him.”
Adam sneered. “You think you could resist him for much longer?”
Nells closed his eyes and sighed, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t have made him into an adulterer.”
“You love him that much?” Adam said, slightly stunned. He looked at his brother for a long moment. “I think you must leave immediately. If not to prevent further impropriety, but to save you from further heartache. I will make sure that you are on the first ship departing to the Colonies tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow! Please let me at least say goodbye to him!”
Adam bit his lip and sighed. “You may see him here, not in any of the private rooms. I will chaperone this meeting.”
“It is this or nothing at all!”
Nells nodded his acceptance, his face flushed. “Adam, you must know that I would never—“
“It doesn’t matter now,” he said, sharply.
“He just wanted to have a little fun.”
“Is this fun now, Nells?”
Nells glared at him but Adam wouldn’t relent. He stared his brother down, meeting his eyes, his face set in a tight frown. Nells looked away and took a breath.
Adam opened the door of his study and found Kris standing in the hallway, his face pale and eyes downcast. “Please, come inside.”
He watched as Kris walked slowly into the room. He looked at Nells and frowned, seeing the expression on Nells’s handsome face.
“Nells, what’s wrong?”
“I am departing for the Colonies tomorrow, Kris.”
Kris looked at Adam and then back at Nells. “But why?”
“I am needed there to consult on our family business,” he said, giving Kris a small smile. “It’s rather sudden, I’m afraid.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Kris said, walking towards him. He glared at Adam and Adam felt a smirk form on his face in response. “Nells, please, why—“
“We are good friends, but sometimes friends must part.”
Kris rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “This is—I don’t accept this.” He turned to Adam. “What have you done?”
“What have I done?” Adam said, raising his eyebrow. “You’re asking me that question? I have acted in the only way I can as a consequence of what you and Nells have done.”
“It was only a little fun! You are a hypocrite to punish us for doing the same things that you do,” Kris snarled at him, eyes narrowing in anger. His face was flushed red, his cheeks ruddy from emotion. Adam found him completely alluring and desired him, wishing that Kris looked at him flushed with passion instead of anger. However, he wondered if that anger didn’t stem from some other reason; passion was such a close emotion to anger – frustrated passion even more so. “You are being quite boorish, Adam!”
“I refuse to allow you to damage your reputation – a reputation that you seemed to have wanted to be above reproach until recently. I’m not quite sure if Nells is to blame—“
“—for your fall from grace—“
“Fall from grace!” Kris shouted, his face reddening.
“—but I will not allow it to continue anymore.” Adam said, sternly.
“You are a bastard.”
“I will ask you not to insult my mother.”
“Nells, there must be something you can do; something you can say to change his mind.”
Adam frowned at the desperation in Kris’s voice. He glared at Nells, daring him to challenge his authority.
“Kris, I truly must go,” Nells said, softly.
“Then give me a kiss to say goodbye properly.”
Nells looked meaningfully at Adam but Adam merely smirked and raised his eyebrow.
“I shall shake your hand,” Nells said, holding out his hand to Kris.
Kris stared at him, shaking his head and taking a few steps back. “No.”
“Just go, Nells,” he muttered, curling his arms around himself protectively. “I wish you safe travels and I hope you have a happy life.”
“I wish the same for you,” Nells said, his voice cracking with emotion. He gave Adam one last look and hurried out of the room, slamming the door as he left.
Kris stared at the floor and then turned wet looking eyes at Adam. “Your heavy handedness was not necessary. I would’ve simply stopped going to the clubs if you had asked.”
“I don’t ask it, I demand it.”
“You have taken away my only friend!”
Adam shook his head. “Nells would never have been satisfied with just being your friend. He was in love with you!”
“I know!” Kris said, laughing derisively and wiping his eyes. He gave Adam a look that was astonishingly…mean. “Poor, stupid Nells Lambert; caught in his own loveless trap.”
That made Adam stop; he looked at Kris, watching the brown eyes narrow slightly. He was no innocent now; his heart made blackened, knowingly using Nells for his own ends. A part of Adam felt great anger on behalf of his brother, to be so used, especially by someone who called him friend.
“You have changed.”
“And yet, you are still tiresome,” Kris said, mockingly. He smirked and turned for the door. “I suppose I will just have to find my own adventures, now that I know where to look for them.”
“I would not recommend that.”
“I dare you to stop me.”
He stood by the window and watched Kris step onto the street in front of their house. Adam grabbed his coat and hurried down the stairs and opened the front door quietly. He slipped through and stood on the front steps of the house, pulling on his coat, and turned to see Kris walking down the street. He frowned because he knew Kris’s destination.
He saw Kris take the steps to the house, knocking on the door. It opened and Josephine opened the door, a small smile on her face. She greeted Kris warmly and Adam watched as Kris stepped into the grand foyer of the house of mirth.
Little shit! He didn’t know who he was cursing – Nells for taking him there or Kris for actually going there.
Adam took deep breaths, knowing that he couldn’t walk into Josephine’s house in a fit of anger. There was a fine line in Society, even for the best whorehouse in the city, and gentlemen were still expected to act like gentlemen in even such disreputable places. Feeling capable of hiding his anger, Adam crossed the street and took the steps two at a time. He took a moment to catch his breath, his hand moving over his hair and tucking down his coat properly. He knocked on the door and placed a smile on his lips as Josephine opened the door.
“Adam, how lovely to see you again. You are welcome here,” she said, giving him a polite nod as he entered the front lobby.
“Good evening, Jo,” he murmured, smiling at her. “I’ve come to see after my husband.”
Josephine, always the professional hostess, merely smiled at him and looked up the stairs to the second floor rooms. “Kristopher is…engaged with new friends upstairs. I’m sure if you went to the Langford Room, you will find your husband.”
She grabbed his hand, stopping him before he could run up the stairs. “A moment, sir, if you please.”
“Discretion is the only thing that I require inside this house,” she said, looking into his eyes. “I would like for you to remember that before you go into that room.”
Adam clenched his jaw for a moment and then relaxed. Of course, she would not want any kind of spectacle in her house. “I completely understand.”
“Of course,” she said, a pretty a smile on her lips. She released his hand and motioned for him to take the staircase to the second floor.
Adam walked slowly, taking the time to control his anger, and he turned down the hallway to the Langford Room, which was an intimate suite noted for its red velvet décor. He stood outside, wondering what Kris was doing inside – with whom he was with. Without bothering to knock, Adam grabbed the doorknob and turned it, opening the door quickly.
He found Kris sprawled on the velvet settee, smiling as Bethany and Roberto sat beside him, leaning close, their hands intimate on his body.
“Lord Lambert!” Bethany said, standing up sharply. “Sir, you mustn’t be—“
“Bethany,” Adam called, softly. He smiled at the two whores. “Roberto. If you would leave us, I would like to speak to my husband.”
Kris snorted, rolling his eyes. He finished the wine in the crystal glass, dropping it on the floor when he was done. “Well, he definitely ruins all of our fun, doesn’t he?”
Adam swallowed the things that he wanted to yell at Kris. Instead, he merely smiled reassuringly at Bethany and Roberto as they nodded to him, leaving quickly. Adam closed the door behind them and glared at Kris. “Get up, we’re leaving.”
“You can go to the Devil.”
Adam stalked across the room and took Kris by the arm, pulling him off the settee. “We are going to leave. You are not going to make a scene as we leave. We will say goodnight to Josephine and not make a sound of discontent until we get home.”
Kris giggled and shook his head. “You really are an idiot.”
“Do you understand me, Kristopher? You have crossed the line—“
“This is a house that is familiar to you. I’m sure you crossed the line more than once here,” he said, his voice steel. “It’s a wonder that you even remember their names.”
“Not a single word,” he gritted out, releasing Kris’s arm and taking him by the hand instead. He held tightly and pulled Kris to the door. He walked quickly, knowing that Kris would have to double his steps to keep up with Adam’s long strides, trying to pull his hand out of Adam’s grip, but he remained silent.
They walked down the stairs at a slower pace. Josephine turned to watch them, her eyes taking in everything in detail. Adam smiled at her as they reached the foyer.
“I’m afraid Kris is not feeling well so I will be taking him home,” Adam said, softly.
“Of course, Lord Lambert,” she said, bowing her head. She turned and smiled compassionately at Kris. “I hope you will feel better soon, Sir Allen.”
“Thank you, Madame,” Kris murmured, his voice kind and gentle. “Please thank my friends for their attention.”
“Goodnight, Jo,” Adam said, leaning forward to give her a polite kiss on her cheek.
“Goodnight, gentlemen,” she said, giving Adam a long look. He would have to make it up to her later with flowers and money.
They left the house without another word; Adam kept his hold on Kris’s hand. To anyone glancing, they looked like they were out on a brisk stroll together. Adam turned to look at Kris and found his lips pursed, face pale, and eyes on the street. Adam was glad for the silence. He was not yet calm enough to have any kind of civil discussion with Kris; and definitely not a conversation in public.
Adam opened the door to the front of their house and dragged Kris in quickly. He slammed the door, finally able to show his displeasure, and headed for the stairs.
“Take your hand away, sir,” Kris gritted out, following Adam up the stairs to the second floor hallway.
“I think we have something to discuss.”
Kris snorted, squeezing his hand tightly around Adam’s hand. “Do we?”
“You are out of control.”
“I will do as I like, whenever I like!” Kris shouted at him.
“You will behave yourself, sir.” Adam hissed, pulling him down the hallway. It was closer to his chambers and he preferred not to fight in the hallway where his mother and the servants could easily overhear.
Kris snorted, loudly. “Whatever for? It’s not like you care about anything but yourself.”
“Your behavior is childish, Kristopher,” he snarled, warningly. “I have heard from close friends about what you do at these clubs and houses; how much you gamble every night, how you laugh and drink and don’t care who sees you. That you walk through London drunk. You conduct yourself poorly and you have been noticed.”
“Pfft, I care not what they think of me.”
“I’ve received twenty letters of debt from various gambling houses across town!”
“It’s not like you don’t have the money to cover my losses!” Kris shouted, making a face at him and jerking his hand from Adam’s hold. He stopped walking and Adam turned to stare at him.
“That is not the point!”
“I will have my fun and play my games,” he said, turning his back on Adam.
Adam grabbed his arm and pulled him further down the hallway. He pushed Kris into his room, closing and locking the door behind him. He stared at Kris, who sprawled down on the armchair by Adam’s bed, sneering up at him.
“Ahh, we have returned to the scene of our infamous wedding night which you cannot conveniently remember.” And then he laughed, mirthlessly. He gestured to the bed. “That is where I lost my virginity. Pity, I rather liked my virginity and it was not worth losing it to you. Well, there is one consolation here – at least your bedroom does not reek of violets anymore. I cannot abide the smell of violets.”
Adam chose to ignore, not wanting to revisit that night. “Your reputation is at risk, sir!”
“My reputation? Oh, I am to be lectured now? Shall I fetch my inkwell and papers in case I need to take lesson notes?” Kris laughed in his face. “You are such a bloody hypocrite!”
Adam frowned. “I did not marry you so that you could ruin both of our names.”
“Oh yes, you want to mingle with the Royals at King George’s court,” Kris spat, rolling his eyes. “I suppose if what they say about court life is true, then you would fit right in, wouldn’t you, Adam? Court politics and sexual intrigue – that is your forte, is it not?” He let out a harsh giggle. “It is too bad that your bedding technique really needs more work.”
“What did you say?”
“I should encourage you to go to Josephine’s whorehouse more often so that you can improve on your technique,” Kris said, smirking at him. “They say that her whores are the best in the city—“
“How many times have you gone there?” Adam seethed, clenching his hands into fists.
“—so I’m surprised that you haven’t picked up the techniques to being the world’s best lover,” Kris finished, his voice deep with contempt and mockery.
He was furious, but more than that, it ate away at his pride. Adam leaned over the chair, glaring down at Kris. He grabbed his chin and forced Kris to look up at him. “Tell me, dear husband, if you’ve broken our vows – or perhaps the real question is, how many times have you broken our vows?”
“What vows?” Kris shouted at him, jerking his chin from Adam’s fingers and swatting Adam’s hand away. “Do you mean our ridiculous excuse of a marriage? Do you mean the one where we don’t speak to each other except at dinner? Or the one where you exiled your own brother so that I wouldn’t have a single friend or ally in this city? Or perhaps the vow about fulfilling marital duties?” He laughed in Adam’s face, the sound ugly and cruel as a slap. The feeling sank low in Adam’s stomach as he watched Kris in temper. “You know what I don’t understand, Adam? I don’t understand how you could have such a reputation as a fantastic lover because the one time that we did…fuck, the only thing memorable about it was how quickly it was over and how utterly boorish you were in bed!”
Adam narrowed his eyes, feeling his face heat up. “Be very careful, sir.”
“Or what?” Kris challenged, raising his eyebrow. “You’ll bore to death in bed? I think I can withstand two minutes of your attention, dear husband. In fact, I’m a little tired. Do blow out the candle when you’re finished as I will probably be fast asleep. I’m sure you won’t notice the snoring.”
“You little shit,” Adam hissed at him, leaning closer to Kris.
Kris laughed, his eyes widening. “Sometimes, I have wondered if I married the wrong brother. I think Nells would’ve been quite charming and attentive in bed, I regret refusing him his chance now. I think he would’ve been better able than you to give me pleasure, instead of—“
Adam kissed him, his wide mouth bruising Kris’s lips. He thrust his tongue into Kris’s mouth, wrestling his tongue for dominance. He felt Kris’s fingernails digging into his hands and no doubt drawing blood. He sucked hard on Kris’s bottom lip, biting it quickly and shivering at the sound of Kris’s low moan.
“Shut up. You’ve had your say,” Adam growled at him, grabbing a handful of Kris’s soft brown hair and jerking his head back. “Your little temper tantrum was very revealing, Kristopher. I see that I’ve left you alone for far too long. I’ve been sick with guilt about our wedding night, which is why I’ve let you run wild behind my back. But I understand what you need now. I should’ve seen what you were attempting to do – I noticed, don’t think I haven’t – but I doubted myself because I was sure you didn’t want me in your bed. But I was wrong, wasn’t I?”
“Let me go!”
“I said shut up!” Adam hissed, pulling his hair. “All this because you were disappointed you didn’t get to experience what everyone whispers behind my back; that I had left you alone because I didn’t want you; that I didn’t give you the same pleasures that I gave to previous lovers who didn’t even warrant my permanent attention.” He laughed, softly, watching Kris blush, his eyes slipping to the side. “Ohhh, I do want you, dear husband. You will eat your words after tonight, Kris. You have my attention now. And I know exactly what it is that you want.”
“Bastard,” Kris whispered, flicking his eyes up to meet Adam’s gaze. “Arrogant pig.”
“Yes,” he agreed, smirking at him. He moved down to his knees, shouldering Kris’s legs apart. He pressed one hand against Kris’s shoulder, keeping him against the chair, while his other hand ran firmly down the front of his body, fingers gripping the front placket of his pants and ripping it down.
“What are you—“
Adam reached under his underclothes and grabbed hold of his half-hard cock and bent his head quickly over Kris’s lap, mouth curled around the tip and sucked hard.
He felt his body flush in triumph at the loud moan that escaped from Kris’s mouth.
Adam moaned, letting his tongue curl and flick around the head, tasting Kris thoroughly. He took a deep breath and relaxed his throat, sinking down the length of his cock until his lips brushed against the short, wiry hair of his groin. He swallowed hard and shuddered when Kris whimpered, hands clutching at the armrests. Adam looked up at Kris, mouth working busily on his hardening cock.
“Adam!” Kris cried out, eyes wide in shock. “I never—this is—my God!”
He felt Kris grip his shoulder, the other sliding into his hair. Kris gasped, struggling to pull away from his mouth, but Adam flicked his eyes up to look into startled brown eyes. His hands gripped Kris’s hips tightly, holding him in place, as his mouth sank lower down his cock, tongue sliding along the thick vein.
“What—oh God—what are you—“ Kris panted, letting out a shuddering moan, head falling back against the back of the chair. His thighs tightened against his sides, hips twisting and bouncing on the cushion. Adam watched as a dark flush crept up Kris’s pale cheeks, his head turned into the back of the chair, mouth opened wide and panting. He felt Kris’s cock twitch against his tongue and was ready to taste him completely. He sucked harder as Kris let out a high pitched whine, panting noisily, as he flooded Adam’s mouth with the bitter and salty taste of his come. “Ohhh…Adam!”
Adam swallowed everything Kris gave him and then licked him clean, keeping his mouth gentle now, hands caressing his hips as Kris sank against the chair, breathing quickly. He pulled his mouth away and just spent a long time licking up and down his shaft, delighting in the shivers and soft moans whenever his tongue found a pleasure spot on Kris’s cock. He sat back on his heels, staring at his husband.
“This is what you wanted, isn’t it?”
“I hate you!” Kris hissed at him.
“I don’t believe that you do.” Adam grinned, licking his lips. He watched as Kris’s eyes followed the movement of his tongue against his mouth. “Ever since you first learned my name, you’ve wondered what it would be like to be in my bed.”
“Why would I want a—a whore like you?”
“Because I know more ways to make you moan and beg and want more,” Adam said, moving up to lick Kris’s bottom lip. “Because I know how to make you crave my cock. Because I can heat up your body with my mouth and my hands and my body. Because I can fuck you so good that you’ll never think about anyone else.”
He kissed Kris, his tongue slipping into Kris’s mouth and sharing the taste of him. Kris groaned into the kiss, trying to twist away, but Adam grabbed his hair and held him still. He scraped his tongue against the top of Kris’s teeth and used the tip of his tongue to smear his spit against Kris’s tongue.
“Tell me you want me,” he murmured, sucking on Kris’s tongue and licking his upper lip. “Tell me and I will show you every pleasure you can endure.”
“I don’t want you,” he said, blushing and turning his head.
Adam kissed his cheek and licked down his neck, nipping here and there to hear Kris gasp. “I think you do want me. Don’t be shy, Kris; tonight, I belong to you and I will be your willing servant in all things. All you need to do is command me.”
He felt Kris swallow hard and he chuckled, moving up to nip and suck on the little earlobe. He was gratified to feel Kris trembling against him. He kissed Kris’s swollen lips again and sighed against his lips, moving off his knees to stand in front of him. He held out his hand.
“Come to bed with me.”
Chapter 10: Adam Lambert (continued)
“Come to bed with me.”
It was instinct that made him turn and grab Kris by the waist as he burst from the chair, rushing for the door. Adam caught him gently, turning so that he could propel Kris to his bed instead. Some kind of unidentifiable emotion moved through him when Kris whimpered, trembling against him.
As soon as Kris fell on the bed, he twisted in Adam’s grip, letting out an unhappy groan. Adam braced himself on Kris, trying to hold him and hold him down at the same time.
“Shhhh…Kris, I’m not going to hurt you,” Adam said, his voice calm and low. “Kris, please, I’m not going to hurt you.”
Kris closed his eyes and turned his head away, collapsing on the bed and breathing hard.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Kris,” Adam murmured again, wanting Kris to believe him. “My God, you must think that I am a monster.”
Kris made a throaty sound and exhaled loudly. He turned his head and opened his eyes to look up at him. Adam saw the wild look of fear and desire in his eyes. He stroked down Kris’s face, a warm and soothing stroke of affection, his hand curling behind Kris’s neck.
“It’s all right, sweetheart. If you don’t want me…if you don’t want my touch…”
Kris crinkled his forehead in confusion. “Why did you even want me? To marry me? I don’t understand. I’m not like them – I’m not…”
“I don’t want you to be like them, Kris.” Adam slipped up on his elbow, looking at him. “I want you to feel pleasure with me. I want to see you overcome with pleasure by my hand. I want you to discover passion with me.”
I want you to discover love with me, he didn’t say.
He grinned, seeing Kris blush, and leaned in slowly giving Kris plenty of time to stop him, to press his lips against Kris’s forehead.
“We’ve really mucked it up, haven’t we?” Adam said, sighing softly, his lips brushing over Kris’s ear, down his cheek. “I never wanted for it to be like this between us. I really wanted you to be my friend and when you rejected me because of my name and my reputation, it made me mad. So I planned my revenge on you…”
Kris barked out a soft, incredulous laugh. “And this is what you do when you are mad?”
“Yes,” he whispered, his hand stroking Kris’s side in apology. “I’ve done worse…especially to you.”
Kris looked at him, giving him a small, rueful smile. “We are none too perfect, are we? I cannot now say that you are ungentlemanly when I have behaved in such a terrible manner.”
“It’s not too late for us. I admit, shamefully, that I pursued you out of spite, but that’s not how I feel now,” Adam said, his hand stroking Kris’s slim hip. “And our wedding night—“
Kris closed his eyes and made a fretful sound. “Adam…”
“—I don’t remember everything about that night, but enough to understand. I never wanted our first night together to be like what it was for you. I wanted it to be about your pleasure with me.” Adam sighed, looking at him. “And I have worried that one of the root causes of our marital discord is because we’ve not consummated our marriage properly and I accept the blame for that.” He stroked Kris’s head. “Can you ever forgive me, Kris?”
Kris bit his lip and looked at him. He nodded. “I think…yes, it is possible.”
Adam smiled at him. “Would you stay with me tonight? In my bed…and let me touch you and give you pleasure?”
Kris blinked rapidly, his face flushed. Adam thought that he could feel Kris’s body heat up, his skin hot and damp under his palm. Kris nodded shyly, biting his lip. “Yes,” he whispered, not looking at Adam.
But Adam was determined, if anything to ensure that Kris wanted him and wanted this. And a part of him couldn’t resist making Kris ask for what he wanted; it excited him to hear something dirty come out of Kris’s mouth, to see him blush with the strength of his own desires. He knew that there was a part of Kris who was bold and passionate – Adam had seen that Kris the first time they met in the rain – and Adam wanted to find that Kris again.
“I am still your willing servant; tell me what you want me to do to you.”
Kris licked his lips, frowning. “What do I—how…” He raised his eyes and looked at Adam. “I don’t know what you want me to say. I don’t know how to say it—“
“Tell me to kiss you.”
“What?” Kris whispered, his face turning an even darker shade of red.
“Say it. Look me in the eyes and say it. I won’t refuse you anything.”
Adam kissed him sweetly, taking his time to taste Kris’s mouth, his tongue slipping gently into Kris’s mouth, caressing against his tongue, teasing him. He felt the heat of lust move through him when he felt Kris moan against his lips.
“Now, say ‘touch my cock.’”
Kris blushed furiously, trying to look away. But Adam grabbed his chin and forced him to look at him. “If you want that pleasure, tell me – command me.”
“Touch my…” Kris whispered so softly that Adam barely heard him. “…cock.”
“My pleasure,” Adam murmured, sliding to his side but keeping his leg curled over Kris, holding him in place. His hand moved down Kris’s body and then smoothed down his hard cock with his palm, rubbing gently. Kris closed his eyes, mouth parting on a sigh. “Nice and ready for me again, aren’t you, Kristopher?”
Adam chuckled. “Yes?”
“I think you like to make me ask.”
“Make you beg. Did you like it when my mouth was on your cock, Kris?”
He watched as Kris’s face turned dark red. “You know I did.”
“Do you want me to do it again?” Adam said, looking into Kris’s dazed eyes. “The second time will be better. I’ll go slower and tease you and it’ll take you longer to come.”
Kris swallowed, closing his eyes. He bit his upper lip and turned his face away. “Adam, this is…I can’t.”
“Why? Is it because you’re shy or is it because you can’t admit you want me; that you’ve wanted me since the moment we met?”
Kris let out a sound of protest but he didn’t deny it.
Adam decided to hold that discussion for later. Instead, he curled his hand over Kris’s cheek and turned his face back towards him and kissed Kris, licking his cheek, his lips close to Kris’s ear. “Now say ‘suck my cock.’”
He watched as Kris moaned, arching his back when he gripped Kris’s cock, his fingers curling around tightly at the head as he gave Kris a long, firm, hard downward stroke and stroked up, hard and fast, thumb sliding over the wet tip.
“Adam, I can’t…”
“I want to hear you say it. I want you to tell me what you want; tell me how you want me to please you.”
He watched as Kris’s eyes fluttered. He was pleased to see Kris take a deep and steadying breath. He turned his face and slowly lifted his eyes to meet Adam’s steady gaze. “Suck my cock, Adam.”
“Jesus,” Adam murmured, kissing his mouth. “Anything you want.”
He quickly unbuttoned Kris’s shirt, parting the fabric so that he could kiss and lick at the small, tight nipples, watching as Kris hissed and arched his head back on the quilts under him. He ran his tongue down his stomach, tickling the little belly button, making Kris huff a small laugh, hands reaching into Adam’s hair, petting him gently.
Adam held his cock and wrapped his lips around the head, sucking hard and flicking the tip of his tongue on the head. Kris’s hands grasped at his hair, hips trembling and thrusting, as Kris let out a long groan of pleasure.
Adam moaned around his mouthful, moving his mouth down and then up, slowly, leisurely, taking his time to taste and smell and know Kris. He dragged his bottom lip up the shaft, his eyes on Kris’s face. “Look at me, Kristopher. Watch me.”
Kris let out a pitiful moan, his eyes opening. He raised his head, panting, as he watched Adam stick out his tongue to lap at the tip. Kris let out a gasp. “God…yes…” Adam grinned up at him, sucking him back into his mouth, sucking hard. “Ohhhhh yes…yes…more…”
“Hmmm…” Adam hummed, looking at him. He raised up to his knees, bracing his hands on Kris’s hips and then breathed deeply, sinking down…all the way down Kris’s cock until his lips brushed against the soft hairs of his groin.
Kris shuddered, falling back on the bed, his hands releasing Adam’s hair to clutch at the bed quilt. His eyes squeezed shut and he bit at his lips, holding his breath. When Adam swallowed, Kris grunted, trying to raise his hips off the bed so that he could shove more of his cock into Adam’s throat.
Adam pulled off, looking at how hard and wet his cock was now. He flicked his eyes up Kris’s body, taking in the long stretch of smooth, pale skin. Kris was pulling at the bedding.
“Why—why did you stop?” Kris panted, raising his head to look at him.
He stretched out his tongue and licked him, grinning lasciviously at Kris. “I just wanted to hear you desperate for me.”
“I am,” Kris said, breathlessly. “Please, Adam, I am…I’m desperate for you. Please!”
“God, I love listening to you,” he murmured, turning his head to the side and pressing his lips along the length of him and just dragging his lips to the tip, his tongue tasting him again, running the tip around the crown, teasing him at a sensitive spot.
Adam smiled at him. “Now tell me how much you want me.”
“I want you,” Kris murmured, turning his head back and forth. “Please, Adam, I want you.”
He shivered at the sound of desperation in Kris’s voice. “Tell me you want me inside of you.”
“I want you inside of me,” Kris said in a rush. There would come a time when Kris would be able to demand love and pleasure from him with nothing but boldness; but Adam would always remember this first shyness.
Adam leaned over the side, pulling open one of the drawers of his bedside table. He picked up a bottle of oil and swirled it in his hand, showing the bottle to Kris. “This is oil. I found it in India. It’s thick and stays wet for a long time.” He grinned at Kris’s questioning look. “So that when I’m inside of you, the oils will keep you slick and wet for me.”
“My God, the way you talk,” Kris murmured, closing his eyes.
“Do you like it?”
Kris swallowed. “Yes.”
He opened the top of the oil bottle, carefully coating his fingers. Adam smiled at Kris, moving up to his knees so that he could kneel between Kris’s legs. “Open your thighs, let me see you.”
Kris groaned, an arm flung over his eyes. He bent his legs and placed his feet beside Adam’s legs and slowly shifted his thighs apart, letting Adam see all of him. With a grin, Adam set the bottle on the bed and slid his hand up Kris’s warm skin, pressing one leg further apart.
“Yes, that’s very nice,” Adam crooned, softly. “I’m going to touch you. Breathe slowly and deeply for me, love.”
Kris whimpered when he felt Adam’s fingers against his opening. He hissed in a shocked breath and tensed, but Adam only kept his fingers pressed there, rubbing him gently, his other hand rubbing the inside of Kris’s thigh.
“Shhh…just breathe, I’m not going to hurt you,” Adam said, meaningfully.
He watched as Kris nodded, his arm still over his face. Adam stared at the way Kris’s mouth parted, the way he licked at his lips, the sound of his breath, the way his throat tightened and relaxed as he swallowed. Adam bent down to nip at the delicate skin of his inner thigh. Kris jerked slightly and didn’t even notice Adam slipping in one finger into him.
“Ohh…” Kris murmured, curiously. He inhaled deeply and then shifted his hips slightly against the bed. Adam bit his lip and grinned, pressing his finger in deeper and crooking the tip. “Ahhh! What—oh God! YES! There!”
Adam chuckled. “There?” He slipped his fingertip right at the exact spot.
“Yes! There! There, there, please!” Kris nearly shouted, his hands now gripping the bedding. His head was arched back, shoulders trembling slightly. “Ohhh…”
He slipped both fingers into Kris at the next pass and spread his fingers, stretching him firmly. Kris twisted, his legs shaking now, hips definitely moving by instinct. He would be ready soon and Adam was nearly at the limits of his own patience and need.
“Can I have you, Kris?”
Adam thrust his fingers into Kris hard and deep. Kris gasped, his eyes opening to stare up at Adam. “Can I have you, love?”
“Can I fuck you?” He said, giving Kris his best predatory and wicked smile. “My cock will feel so much better than my fingers.”
Kris’s mouth parted and his eyes widened, but he nodded before he closed his eyes, turning his face to the side. “Yes. Yes.”
Adam picked up the bottle of oil and poured a thick handful. He dropped the bottle on the carpet by the bed and then moved up to his knees, slicking his hard cock with the oil. He moaned, throwing back his head, stroking himself slowly and deliberately. He looked down to see Kris watching him, his brown eyes dark with passion and want, tongue flicking out to rub his upper lip. It wouldn’t be long before Kris discovered what he could do to Adam, to make him lose control and beg to Kris for more.
Gently, he moved between Kris’s parted legs, lifting him slightly and then holding him firmly against his thighs. “Just breathe,” he murmured, bending down to kiss Kris’s lush and wet mouth. He grabbed his cock and kissed his way down Kris’s neck. He laved at the spot between his neck and shoulder, letting his teeth sink in firmly enough to hold Kris’s attention as he slid the head of his cock into Kris’s opening, pushing in firm and deep, unstoppably deep.
Kris made a pained moan, but Adam knew he wouldn’t have been to decipher whether the moan came from the bite or the fuck. Adam moved up to his hands, his hips slipping back and forth. He closed his eyes, savoring the feel of him, hot and clenchingly tight around his cock. He slipped his hips back and forth in a steady rhythm and then looked down to watch Kris’s face.
He was pleased to see Kris flushed with blood and sweat, but his mouth was open and he was panting. His eyes remained squeezed shut and Adam felt his knees bump against his side.
“Yes, that’s good, love, very good,” Adam praised, smiling widely. “Move your hips with me, raise them up a little—“
“OH!” Kris jerked against him, his eyes opening wide as he stared up at Adam.
Adam chuckled. “Do it again.” He kept his steady pace as Kris angled his hips, raising them off the bed to meet every stroke Adam gave him.
Kris groaned, closing his eyes, his hands curled over Adam’s shoulders. “My God…that’s…OH! Ohhhh!”
Just to give him a little taste, Adam moved down to his elbows, his body pressing closer to Kris. He slammed his hips in quick succession, his cock slamming into Kris’s body in quick, hard bursts. Kris’s reaction was immediate and so incredibly intoxicating. Adam bit his lip as he watched Kris arch his neck, felt his nails scoring into the skin of his shoulders, as he nearly bent backwards against the bed, letting out loud, panted cries of need. It wouldn’t take much more to make Kris come.
Adam stilled his hips, keeping his cock inside of Kris, pressing as deeply as possible. “Say ‘fuck me’.”
Kris groaned, shaking his head. His legs tightened around Adam’s hips, silently urging him for more.
Adam gritted his teeth, forcing himself not to move, pressing his hips harder against Kris. His hands fisted into the sheets, his knees braced on the bed. He felt Kris twitch, restless hips pushing up against him, urging him to keep moving. But Adam wanted to hear Kris ask for it. He wanted Kris to want it, demand it. He felt Kris’s muscles flutter around him and he tried to hold his breath, grunting in his throat.
“Why did you stop? Please don’t stop, Adam,” Kris urged, trying to move his hips against him. “Adam, please, don’t stop now, don’t stop, please—“
“Please!” Kris whined, his hands grabbing Adam’s hips, trying to move him. “I’m—I’m…uhhh…what do you say…”
“You’re so close.”
“Yes! Close! Please, please!”
“Fuck me,” he said, looking pleadingly up at Adam. “Fuck me. Adam, fuck me!”
Adam groaned, unable to keep still. He dropped lower, covering Kris’s body, and thrust his hips back and forth, his cock moving in and out of Kris, so tight, so hot, so wet…Adam knew he was being rough, but Kris was moaning and clutching his arms with his hands, fingers tightening around him, legs curled over his hips, completely abandoned to his pleasure.
“Kris,” he said, grunting harshly, pleasure bursting through his body. He could feel his body shaking.
Adam pulled back his hips and thrust into Kris, hard, harder, again and again. Kris yelled wordlessly, arching into his thrusts, meeting them with the same bruising force that Adam moved into him.
“Oh yes!” Kris groaned, his body frozen in midair. Adam chuckled, grinding into him. Kris stared at him, mouth parted, but he didn’t make a sound. When Adam added a little twist of his hips on the next stroke, he watched as Kris just lost all control, his muscles clenching around his cock. “Adam! Oh please! Please!” Kris panted, closing his eyes. “Right there.”
“Yes,” Adam murmured, moving in the way that Kris wanted, his cock hardening even more as Kris bucked against him now, over and over again, demanding his pleasure. Adam would give him everything, take away whatever happened on their wedding night – this was what he wanted to give to Kris on that night and every time Kris would have him. “Kris…Kris…so good, love, so good.”
“Oh God!” Kris cried out, his body tensing under Adam and then shaking uncontrollably. He choked on his breath, arching fiercely into Adam’s body, his hips working up and down like a piston as he spilled between their bellies. “Yes! Yes! Yes, yes, yes…”
“Yes!” Adam gritted his teeth and closed his eyes, his body chasing after Kris’s pleasure with his own. He shuddered, letting out a deep groan when he felt Kris’s legs wrap tighter around him, pulling him closer to him. His hips jerked again and again and he pressed his cock as deep as he could inside Kris, trembling as heat and lust and love seared his nerves.
They were both breathing hard. Adam could feel his warm breath against his ear, his neck, and he turned his head, licking whatever part of Kris he could reach. His arms moved under Kris, holding him against him, sweaty and slick, but so good, so very good. He breathed in the scent of Kris – musk and sex and sweat and manhood – he was gorgeous and intoxicating.
Adam lifted his head and kissed him, sloppy and feverish. Kris just panted into his mouth, completely spent and limp under him.
“Kris?” He said, stroking Kris’s damp hair.
Kris opened languid and content brown eyes at him. “Hmm?”
Adam chuckled softly, kissing his cheek. “Was that what you wanted?”
He didn’t know how it was possible that Kris could blush, but he was delighted by the near seductive gaze and the pink cheeks. Kris blinked and then grinned slowly. “Yes.”
“Good,” he murmured, kissing the corner of his mouth. He kissed across his cheek to his ear. “It’ll be like that every time, I promise.”
Kris let out a soft laugh. “I think…I think I need...proof.”
“Oh yes, love, I have proof enough for you,” Adam said, nipping his earlobe, tightening his hold on Kris.
Chapter 11: Kris Allen
Being at the center of Adam’s attention was gratifying. Kris never thought that his marriage would be anything but polite disdain with nothing but decades of silence between them. So he was utterly surprised and pleased that Adam wanted to speak with him, on just about every matter, whether it was on business or on the state of the Empire or on the color choice of his cravat for when they dined out – Kris thought the latter was more an indulgence on Adam’s part since he never took Kris’s opinions on cravat color seriously.
”But why not the blue and green one?” Kris said, holding up the checked pattern cravat.
Adam made a face. “Firstly, I am not a Scotsman and secondly, I will not wear that dreaded plaid around my neck.”
“But it’s so pretty – it’s green and blue and yellow. It’s very colorful and you like these colors. I don’t see what’s wrong with it.”
“Give me the silver dove one,” Adam said, pouting slightly.
“Fine. Be conventional and boring,” Kris retorted, smiling to himself when Adam nearly had a temper tantrum.
But most surprisingly, Kris discovered he was…insatiable. It felt to him like a switch was turned on and his mind and body craved the new closeness with his husband. He was restless when he wasn’t with Adam and utterly beside himself with newfound passion when he was. A part of Kris was greatly disturbed by the strength of his need but…his desire for the closeness outweighed his doubts.
He sat at his desk, smiling dreamily out of the window to the street below, not seeing the hustle and bustle of busy London, but recounting the way that Adam made him moan into his pillow earlier in the morning. A part of him thought he should question some of Adam’s more risqué sexual experiences, but while he was moaning deliriously and helplessly as Adam licked teasingly at his backside for what felt like hours, Kris thought he ought to express his gratitude to all of Adam’s previous lovers instead. It was a silly passing thought and he secretly wrote the missive in his mind:
Dear Sir or Lady, I would like to offer you my humble gratitude for allowing my husband, Lord Adam Lambert, to attend to your passions and to give him the training ground he required in order to practice his knowledge and skill in the passionate arts. I find myself the lucky recipient of his skills and am full of undying thankfulness for having such an attentive husband. Yours sincerely, Sir Kristopher Neil Allen.
There was a soft knock at the door drawing him out of his daydreams and Kris cleared his throat, turning in his chair. “Come in.”
One of the servant girls came in and held out a small silver tray with a note for him. “Good morning. For you, sir, from his lordship.”
“Thank you,” he said, smiling as the young girl curtseyed and left his room, the sound of her giggles echoing down the hall.
Kris opened the note and smiled at Adam’s familiar messy scrawl:
Dear Sir of the Lovely Rosy Bottom, I would be honored by your company if you are free from your usual obligations. If you have the wherewithal, please join me in my salon for refreshments as soon as you receive this. Your Enslaved Husband, Lord Adam Lambert.
He was blushing as he carefully folded the note and tucked it into his private journal. He stood up and tucked the chair into his writing table. He walked to the small mirror by his dresser and patted down his hair, glaring at the cowlick that refused to go down. Letting out a defeated sigh at the state of his hair, he carefully smoothed down the front of his vest and left his bedrooms.
Adam’s salon was located in the east corner of the house, facing the gardens rather than the street. It was privately situated and was one of the coziest rooms in the house. He knocked discreetly at the door and smiled when he heard Adam’s voice bidding him to enter.
“Do be a good sport and lock the door.”
Kris turned the key and let out a muffled laugh when Adam pressed him against the wall, warm lips slipping down the side of his neck. “Adam!”
“Are you scandalized, sir?” Adam murmured, pulling him further into the room and pushing him down on the silk settee.
Kris caught his breath, looking up at Adam to see him wearing just his linen shirt, the front placket of his trousers unbuttoned on one side. His eyes widened as Adam bit his lip, lowering himself down over Kris. “It’s—it’s daylight!”
“The better to see you, Sir Rosy Bottom,” he teased, kissing Kris thoroughly.
Kris moaned, wrapping his arms behind Adam’s back, pressing himself upwards against him. Adam sucked and nibbled down the side of his neck, sure hands undoing Kris’s cravat and pulling it from his neck to toss on the floor. He sat back, undoing the small buttons of Kris’s shirt, pulling the shirt tails from under the waist of his trousers, giving him a naughty leer.
“But we already did…this morning,” he said, breathlessly. “And twice last night!”
“Yes, your point? I certainly wasn’t going to wait until this evening to have more of you,” Adam said, nimble fingers going to undo the buttons of Kris’s trousers, pulling his underclothing down to reveal Kris’s very interested flesh. He smiled and licked the palm of his hand, wrapping it around Kris’s cock, stroking him quickly.
Kris arched into his touch, his hands moving to grab the back of the settee. “We’ll ruin the silk, Adam—“
Adam laughed, licking his lips and bending down to wrap his lips around the head of Kris’s cock, sucking deliciously slowly.
He closed his eyes and groaned, his other hand grabbing a handful of Adam’s thick hair. Kris knew how much Adam liked it when Kris grabbed his hair. He groaned, loudly, and quickly released the settee to cover his mouth. He looked down to see Adam watching him, blue eyes curved in mirth as his mouth worked busily on Kris’s cock, sucking the pleasure right through him.
He watched as Adam pull off of his cock, licking his lips as he smiled up at Kris. “Mmmmmm, indeed.”
Adam pulled Kris’s hand away. “I doubt the servants are listening at the door.”
“They could be!” Kris whispered, his eyes wide. He already had a difficult time meeting their eyes the morning after when Adam made him nearly scream in pleasure through the night.
“Perverts, the lot of them, how dare they! Shall I go and tell them how shy you are and that if they should overhear anything, they should simply ignore it?”
Kris laughed and tightened his hold on Adam’s hair, pulling his head back. He met the challenge in Adam’s eyes and growled out, “put your mouth back on my cock, husband, and make me come.”
“With alacrity, sir.”
Adam bent over his cock and took him in deep, sucking and licking and swallowing with such expertise that Kris knew he wasn’t going to last long – not that he did anyway. Kris grabbed at the settee arm over his head and thrust into Adam’s willing mouth, jaw clench as he tried to keep his noises at bay but it was a losing battle as Adam loved pulling out the sounds of his pleasure from him. And Kris favored him with a long, low moan, shuddering under Adam as he came into his mouth.
He felt Adam swallowing and swallowing, licking him quite clean, and kissing up his naked belly and chest. Kris opened his eyes to look at his husband, meeting him for a heated kiss that tasted of him. It made him moan, his cock stirring between them.
“Kris, please,” Adam murmured against his lips, taking his hand and tucking it through the opening of his trousers. Kris wrapped his hand around Adam’s cock, squeezing tightly just under the head, grinning when Adam trembled against him.
Feeling brave and naughty, Kris smiled as he pushed Adam against the back of the settee, sliding down the length of his body so that he would give Adam the same pleasure that he gave Kris. It had taken him a few tries to overcome his fear of inadequacy in the act, but each time he placed his mouth on his husband’s cock and used his tongue to give him pleasure, he was able to drive Adam to distraction and taste him when he came.
“Yes, darling, just like that,” Adam said, moaning softly as Kris sucked on the head, his hand stroking him firmly. “Don’t stop—don’t stop—don’t—yes, yes!”
Kris swallowed his sweet coppery taste, his hand quickening and tightening on each upstroke, keeping his lips sealed tightly around the head. He flicked his tongue at the tip and enjoyed the way that Adam’s thighs trembled, one leg curling behind Kris’s waist to pull him in closer.
He chuckled, licking Adam clean and falling back on the settee, feeling quite accomplished and blissful. Adam reached down to wrap his arm around Kris’s waist, hauling him back up the settee so that they were curled around each other. He looked up, still a little bashful, to see Adam gazing back at him with an indulgent little smirk on his mouth.
There was a kiss and then another and then more. Kris snuggled into him for a moment, just enjoying the closeness, smiling when Adam’s hand slipped over his hip to caress his bottom.
“Mmmmmm…Sir Rosy Bottom, such a lovely bottom.”
“Adam,” he said, laughing. “That is a terrible nickname!”
“What shall I call you instead?” Adam said, chuckling. “Wicked bed fiend? Oh! I like that one.”
“If anyone is the wicked bed fiend, it’s most certainly you.”
He met Adam’s eyes and they both grinned at each other, like schoolboys sharing a secret, and Kris let out a soft sigh as he kissed Adam, moving off of the settee, grabbing at his clothes. “I’m such a mess!”
Adam chuckled, lounging back against the settee, he was long legs and long arms and long cock, like a master of a harem. “Shall I call for your valet?”
“No, of course not!” Kris said, trying to put himself back to order. “This is quite a scandal, Adam.”
“Tell me you didn’t enjoy our little afternoon delight.”
Kris grinned. “This was not what I had in mind when you asked me to meet you in the salon for refreshments.”
Adam propped his head up with his hand, gazing at Kris. “But wasn’t it refreshing?”
Kris chuckled and buttoned his trousers. He bent to give Adam a kiss on his cheek. “Very refreshing.” He stood and buttoned his shirt, his vest, and tried to retie his cravat. He looked to see if Adam was going to get up anytime soon, but he was merely watching Kris, a small smile on his lips. “Don’t you have business that you need to attend to?”
“And are you going to attend to them?”
“I’d rather attend to you.”
Kris smiled. “I’m pretty sure you already did.”
“I could attend to you again…and again…and again!” Adam said, moving sinuously on the settee, grabbing for Kris.
He laughed and jumped away, giving Adam a look. “Adam.”
“Fine, ruin my fun,” Adam said, giving a heavy sigh. He sat up and moved to his feet, putting himself back to rights. Soon, they were both as cleaned up as they could be. Adam was sitting at his desk, looking through his multiple financial books while Kris sat on the other side of his desk, reviewing the dozens of correspondence that needed their attention.
And it was “their” attention now as Kris was as well informed of Adam’s businesses as Adam. In the past few weeks, Kris learned just how vast Adam’s businesses extended, from here in London to France to India to Africa and to the Colonies. Kris had taken over reviewing all of Adam’s correspondence, answering those that he could, and making sure that Adam was aware of any problems that came up with his investments.
“I realized that we haven’t had a proper honeymoon,” Adam said, going through his calculations quickly.
Kris grinned. “I’m fairly certain that the last month was rather indulgent of us in that area.”
Adam chuckled, looking up at him through his long and messy black bangs. “Such a talented and wicked little bed fiend. I meant that we should travel together.”
“Oh.” He blushed, ducking his head and reading the letter in his hands. “Yes, I’d like that.”
“I can’t wait to buy you trunks full of new suits and cravats and vests and silks,” he said, dipping his quill into the inkwell. “Silk underclothes for the winter. We’ll have to go to the Oriental lands for the finest silks. Linens and cottons from India. I’ll take you to visit the finest tailors in Paris. Of course, the best milliners are in London.”
Kris snorted. “I have more than enough clothes to last me a lifetime.”
“Hmmm, you may be right. You don’t need more clothes,” Adam said, gazing at him. “Perhaps I should take you to my estate in Africa and just keep you naked. I think I like that best.”
“If it is your intent to scandalize me this afternoon, sir, then you have succeeded,” Kris said, smiling widely. He glanced up at Adam to see him watching him with that look in his eyes. Adam stood up and Kris watched him as he prowled around the large desk, coming towards Kris slowly. “Oh no—“
Kris let out a laugh when Adam grabbed his by the shoulders, kissing him deeply and lustily. He tried to save the correspondence in his hands, reaching for the desk, and simply just let them drop to the carpet when Adam dragged him out of the chair to the floor.
They had started opening their home for regular dinner parties for interesting friends and hosting a number of balls during the Season. Adam was the perfect host, charming to the ladies and carefully flirty with the gentlemen. Kris was always by his side, smiling under Adam’s attentiveness and stolen kisses in every hidden nook in their home.
“I see the blush of new love,” Lady Allen commented, her smile approving and delighted.
Lady Lambert gave Kris a long look and nodded. “And if Kristopher should blush one more time this evening because of my rakish son’s kisses, I daresay that he’ll turn into a tomato.”
Kris made a horrified smile and rushed away as their mothers continued to laugh and tease him.
He made his safe escape to Adam’s side as he was telling what sounded like a very dirty joke. He blushed again as Adam snickered, dropping his hand on Kris’s back and sliding it down to pinch at his behind.
“Are you all right, Sir Allen?” One of the gentlemen said, looking at him.
Adam was all concern, turning to look at Kris with a very amused look. “I think my husband needs a bit of fresh evening air.”
He found himself on the balcony being kissed deeply and he let out a throaty little moan, wrapping his hand behind Adam’s neck and kissing him back just as deeply, tasting the French champagne in Adam’s mouth.
“Mmmmm…you’re going to give me a reputation as someone who is always ill if you insist on stealing off with me for kisses,” Kris murmured as Adam chuckled.
“I’m fairly certain that everyone knows why I’m stealing you away and no one can say anything for my love of you.”
Kris blinked and opened his mouth, surprise and happiness filling him. “You—“
“Of course I love you, Kristopher,” Adam said, giving him a small smile. “Did you doubt it?”
“I didn’t think you felt…that way for me.”
Adam nodded, stroking his head. “We had a rough beginning, but my feelings have never changed from the start.”
“I didn’t know…from the start?”
“That day, when we met in the rain in Staffordshire.”
Kris made a face and smiled. “But I was so stupid and rude to you.”
“True, but I’m a romantic and sentimental fool and I knew you’d be mine someday,” he said, chuckling a little. “And I hope that the feeling is returned. Someday.”
“It is returned,” Kris whispered, swallowing thickly. “I love you, too.”
“Hmmmm…we must go on a honeymoon very soon,” Adam declared, hugging him close and pressing a kiss on his neck. “Very, very soon.”
Kris laughed, grabbing his arms and looking up at him. “I agree.”
When they finally returned to the ballroom, Kris realized that they were both blushing and wore matching smiles. He saw his mother watching them from across the room, her eyebrow raised in amusement as she fanned herself. She ducked her head, covering part of her face, as she whispered something to Adam’s mother. They both turned to look at them and Lady Lambert laughed, throwing back her head, and Kris bit his lip as he took Adam’s hand, pulling him from their sight.
“What is it?”
“Our mothers are conspiring,” he said, biting his lip.
Adam laughed, looking at him. “Well, better that they conspire for us than against us.”
Kris agreed and picked up two glasses of punch from a passing server. He handed a glass to Adam and looked up into his eyes. “To a new beginning.”
Adam stepped closer to him and held his glass higher, his hand stroking Kris’s back. “To a new beginning.”
Kris sat opposite Adam at his desk, opening the latest correspondence from Nells. He opened the folded pages and read through Nells’s neat writing with a smile.
“Nells reports that the business in the Colonies are going well,” he said, chuckling softly. “And he promises that he’s staying out of trouble, but he’s met a lovely Italian Countessa…and her sweet brother. He says that he’s not sure which one of them he’d like to take to his bed, though it seems that the brother is winning by a small margin. It’s always remarkable to me how Nells finds such drama in his life.”
Adam grunted under his breath, staring at Kris.
“Is something the matter? Shall I call for more tea?”
“I didn’t know that my brother was writing such intimate details of his private life in his business correspondence.”
Kris grinned. “Well, once he realized that I was the one writing to him, he always encloses a short letter to me—“
“Adam, it’s quite harmless. He’s over me and he knows that there’s nothing between us. We’re just friends and friends can share intimacies about their lives without crossing lines,” he said, agreeably.
Adam narrowed his eyes and he closed the financial ledgers. “Kristopher!”
“Yes?” He said, casually.
Kris raised his eyebrow, setting the letters on top of the desk. “Whatever for?”
“Come here now.”
“I think you may want to rephrase that.”
Adam let out a little growl. “Come here now. Please.”
“Of course.” He stood and walked towards Adam, his lips twitching with his attempt to not smile at Adam’s obvious jealousy. He watched as Adam turned in his chair and stepped in between Adam’s legs, looking down at him.
“You drive me utterly mad,” Adam declared, running his hands up the side of Kris’s legs, hands circling his waist.
“Perhaps because you are mad,” Kris said, smiling.
Adam let out a low growl and in a matter of seconds, Kris found himself on his back, staring up at Adam over him. He laughed, running his hands over Adam’s shoulders, tugging him closer.
“You have no need to be jealous,” he said, kindly.
“You will never stand in the same room as my brother for as long as I am alive.”
“That’s quite drastic, isn’t it? I’m sure your mother will want him home for Christmas time at some point.”
Adam growled and licked and sucked at Kris’s neck. Kris let out a happy sigh and curled his arms and legs around his husband, enjoying how even a simple mention of Nells’s name in Adam’s presence brought out this deliriously mad rutting lust-fueled animal.
Kris thought he was the luckiest man in the whole Empire.