It was nearly midnight and once more, sleep did not visit Maurice. In fact, this seemed to be the pattern whenever he came to Penndersleigh. Perhaps it was because of the memories that the place held. He turned in bed once more, thinking of the first time he visited, when Clive had brought him here during one of their term breaks. They were so much younger then. He remembered how magical this place seemed to him when he first came. It was like some fantasy world where he and his friend to be themselves, or so he thought. Even then, whenever Maurice tried to kiss Clive's lips, or put his arms around his waist, he was always pushed away. "It's too much," Clive would say. "What we have now is so perfect." It was perfect for him maybe, but the small scraps of physical affection that he was given were never enough for Maurice, who wanted to share every part of his body in addition to his mind with Clive.
It was so hard for him to watch Clive with Anne, and not just because there was some small part of Maurice that still wanted to be the one to wake up in the arms of his first love. He knew his friends life was a lie now. How could he live like that? How could he surround himself with boys like that Scudder fellow (who Maurice found absolutely fascinating)? There was no doubt in his mind that Clive felt something for Anne, but it couldn't have been passion. Or maybe it was, and their closeness in college was just Clive entertaining himself. Perhaps Maurice knew nothing. He turned once more in bed, trying desperately to find some position where he could fall asleep.
Suddenly, he heard a rustle outside the open window in his room. He'd left it open every night during this particular stay, for he found it somewhat satisfying to go outside and stand on the balcony at times at night, even in the rain. Perhaps the rustling was just the wind shaking the ladder that one of the workers had left leaned against Maurice's window. But no……….it was someone climbing. Maurice wondered if perhaps he had fallen asleep and was having some strange nightmare, for who could possibly be climbing the ladder now? He froze in his bed and simply stared out the window, defenseless and intrigued. It took only moments for the figure to reach the top of the ladder. Even in the dark, Maurice could tell that it was that it was the Durham's gamekeeper, Scudder. He had seen the boy many times at Penndersleigh, and often found himself staring at the boy's hauntingly beautiful face. They had even spoken some, and Maurice felt strangely at ease with him.
He'd climbed all the way into the room now, stopping for a moment to sit on the window ledge, giving Maurice a look of such intensity that Maurice sat straight up in his bed, terrified and yet somehow also awakening his desire. Hesitantly at first, the boy crossed the room to Maurice's bed. "I could hear ya' callin to me sir," he muttered, his husky voice barely above a whisper.
Maurice was still in shock, being kissed with such ferocity and feeling the gamekeeper's rough hands on his body was something completely new, wonderful and forbidden. It was almost as if the younger man knew Maurice's fear, for he kept repeating, "I know sir, I know." He could smell the sweat on Scudder's skin, and realized how much he wanted to taste it, to taste him. He hated himself for being swayed so easily. "Lie down," Scudder said at last. It was a command, but a gentle one. One that Maurice found himself obeying. As Scudder began unbuttoning the blonde's nightshirt and Maurice felt himself be touched, he wondered if perhaps he could still escape somehow, but feeling another man's warm mouth on his chest and hearing his moans and sighs was too perfect. He removed the boy's hat and stroked the head of beautiful chocolate hair, breathing him in. Perhaps he'd regret it, perhaps not, but in that moment, as their bodies pressed together ……….everything felt right.