The words carried further than the young man intended. “I miss you.” I looked up sharply to see Mr. Wooster and Mr. Cheesewright, linking arms and moving away from the building. My eyes filled at the sight of my young master holding the arm of another man in his sweet, familiar way. At the time I believed it was because I wished for the same freedom of movement and inclination. How little I knew myself.
“Robbie, was it?” I cursed inwardly. I was with another young woman, this one pretty and charming and very attracted to me. She left me flat, completely flat. Whatever was her name?
“I apologize, my dear,” I said, violently suppressing the deep shame when I recalled the desire that had coursed through me when D’Arcy Cheesewright, of all young gentlemen, had been too forward. Thankfully, I had been disguised as a woman and could fall back on wiles to effect my escape and button myself behind the ‘stuffed frog,’ as Mr. Wooster called it.
The young woman sighed fondly, a knowing, amused sound. “You get awfully distracted by that young master of yours.” I froze, waves of nauseating guilt crashing through my body. Would she accuse me of lusting after him and slap me roughly? “Afraid he’ll sack you?” she asked sympathetically. I shuddered. He had sacked me once. I had brought a young woman home to the flat and had my way with her, desperately hoping to dispel the demon that plagued me. It had not worked. My master had not been expected home, but he arrived, armed with his banjolele. We had parted, but only briefly.
“Poor lamb,” said the young woman, patting my cheek and giving my hand a fond squeeze. “You toddle on upstairs and set everything to rights now and don’t worry about me.” She patted my chest reassuringly, and I found myself genuinely wishing to show her affection for the first time that evening. “You’ll be just fine, Ronnie, or was it Richie?”
I thanked her brokenly and made my way upstairs. I would be just fine, I told myself, but in my heart I knew otherwise. My reserves of resource and tact were nearly depleted. If my annual holiday was not to begin the next Friday, I do not believe I could have forced myself to enter the flat. Mr. Wooster had left before I had begun my free evening, so there was little to occupy me when I returned. I read a few pages of some ‘improving’ book, and then I slipped that infernal volume from the shelf and gazed at the sordid images that inflamed my imagination. Men. Naked men. Engaging in pleasures of the flesh. The hunger had been building for months, but I would be able to slake that thirst and tamp my desires down again for long enough, long enough to remain in Mr. Wooster’s employ for another year. Another year of pleasant days and achingly lonely nights.
In the days before I had come into Mr. Wooster’s employment, I had, once or twice, attempted to find some release in those clubs for men of my inclinations. But I had seen too many men I knew, or knew of. It would not do to expose myself. This limited my opportunities for sexual release. Finding willing women was not terribly difficult, although I found the contact at best unsatisfying and at times repellent. My annual holiday was the only opportunity I had to unleash my desires, to feel that physical satisfaction of sexual union with another of my own inclinations.
That year I planned to spend a month in France. I claimed to be going for the shrimping, and I would return, looking tanned and fit, to slowly fade over the year until I became the same pasty and pale creature I was that evening in the alleyway with the nameless waitress. I reviewed my packing. I had several swimming costumes, two pairs of loose linen trousers and three shirts. With the suit I would wear on the train, such garments should be adequate. I felt so eager to be free from the confinement of my dark suit that I disrobed completely and stroked myself as I looked at the pictures. In only a few days, I would be able to partake of those pleasures myself. For now, I could caress my own bare flesh and come to completion, then fall into a dreamless sleep.
“Off to your holidays, then, what?” Mr. Wooster tapped my suitcase with what he would have described as a ‘doleful toe.’ He disliked my absences intensely, and I treasured the feeling, even though it made me somehow uneasy. I pushed the feelings down, knowing better than to probe at them.
It did not bear thinking about why I wanted him to need me, and I did my best to keep him at a certain distance, although my fondness sometimes made this difficult. I had not told my replacement that Mr. Wooster was mentally negligible. One year he had overheard my evaluation of his abilities and the aftermath had been very uncomfortable for both of us. Mr. Wooster had called me back from the shrimping, and I had lost my opportunity to partake thoroughly of a very toothsome young Frenchman who had shown an early and marked interest in my physique. This year would be different. This year I had finally given in to the knowledge that I was an invert, and I had made arrangements, suitable arrangements, to meet the toothsome young man, named Francois, a graceful, lithe and sensitive companion. I hoped to spend a pleasant month satisfying my desires with a cheerful fellow.
“Yes, sir. I have informed Rogers, my temporary replacement, of all of your personal preferences.” I drew myself up, not daring to think what some of his most personal preferences might be.
Mr. Wooster looked up and tried to appear cheerful. “That’s all very well, then, what?” He held out his hand. “I, ah, will see you at Philippi, then?”
I certain thrill passed through me at the touch of his hand. I told myself it was the anticipation of the pleasures Francois would show me. “As you say, sir.”
The doleful toe poked my bag once more. “You will wire when you reach your destiwhatsit, Jeeves?”
The heart thrilled in my breast, and I told myself it was because he was finally letting me go. “Of course, sir, if you wish it.”
“I bally well do, Jeeves,” said Mr. Wooster gloomily. Something misgave me in that moment, but I did as he asked.
The first few days of my holiday were blissful. I had rented a small cottage some distance from the house where Francois had taken a room. A nearby hotel offered meals and a bar. On the first day, I shed my clothing, donned my skimpiest swimming costume and repaired to the beach, where I met Francois. We spent the next days together, swimming, eating, and making slow, satisfying love. Then Francois grew bored and wandered off with another Frenchman. I freshened my now solitary bed, the heart strangely light in my chest, as I contemplated a week of prowling the shores, fishing and looking for new conquests.
Late one night, I heard Francois outside my cottage on the beach, taking the other Frenchman roughly. My heart had twisted briefly. Would that I had understood the lusts that motivated my intended companion. Perhaps I could find another willing partner, but at the least, I had planned to spend several days in Paris, locating some additional images to fuel my solitary pleasures over the next year.
I woke the next morning and went for a refreshing swim in my second skimpiest swimming costume. Francois was nowhere to be found, but his partner of the previous evening had risen from where he was lounging on the beach and come to speak with me. I wondered if I dared partake of his more robust activities. Then an all-too-familiar voice sounded behind me. The Frenchman sloped off, winking and leering in a most unsavory fashion.
“What ho! What ho! What ho!”
I drew myself up, paralyzed by embarrassment at being caught nearly naked by my employer. “I say, Jeeves, this is a pleasant enough spot, what?”
“Sir,” I began in a measured voice, hoping that my shame and displeasure were not evident. Then I paused and looked, really looked at Mr. Wooster. A porter had his trunk and another his bag, and he was just tipping the men, somewhat too generously. Then he turned, revealing a face purpled with bruises. One of the slender arms hung in a sling. The heart tore in my breast. In an instant, I was at Mr. Wooster’s side, holding him up by his good arm. “Sir, allow me to help you into my cabin.”
“Ah, whatsit, Jeeves. Dashed sorry to intrude and all that, but I seem to have found myself in rather a spot of bother.” I hurriedly instructed the porter to install the bags in my cottage and to fetch a generous measure of ice from a nearby hotel. I helped Mr. Wooster into my cottage. “They said there was no room at the inn but an Englishman was here, and I hoped it was you.”
“I apologize for the humble lodgings, sir,” I said, slipping an arm about his waist when he stumbled.
“No, no, Jeeves, I am deuced mortifithingummy and whatsit. Spot of bother, as I said, and,” he broke off with a low moan, leaning his golden head against my shoulder. “Dash it all.”
I settled him onto my bed, murmuring gently. “Can you tell me what happened, sir?”
“Deuced embarrassing,” said my young master as I eased the sling from his arm. “Just a sprain, that physician chappie said.” He felt in his pockets and produced a bottle of pills. I opened his trunk and poured him a measure of brandy. He downed them gratefully. “I was afraid to take them on my own. Thank-you, Jeeves,” he gasped. “And what happened, ah, that is so say, Jeeves, rather.”
I felt my lips quirk. “I fail to comprehend you, sir,” I admitted, wrapping a towel about my waist.
“Ah, D’Arcy got a bit sozzled at the Drones and mentioned our little prank with Daphne Dolores Morehead. And, er, someone heard him and became very irate, that is, dashed unsettled and, well, had it out with Wooster.”
In my years of service with Mr. Wooster I had known him to be very capable of defending himself or evading attacks. “Sir?”
He flushed a deep red. “Lady, er Florence, ah, was rather pipped, you might say, and now my esteemed Aunt…” he trailed off and rested against my pillow. I allowed my head to shake back and forth as his eyes fluttered shut. Mr. Wooster would never defend himself from a woman.
“Lady Worplesdon,” I said grimly.
The cerulean eyes fluttered open again. “I am in a terrible fix, Jeeves,” he murmured sleepily. “Couldn’t face the lads, you know, like this, and without you there to explain. Dashed sorry, your holiday, your bed, what…” I eased his shoes from his feet and covered him lightly with a sheet as he lost consciousness. The porter returned with the ice I had requested and the manager of the hotel, who explained, at some length, that he could prepare a suite for Mr. Wooster the next day. I closed the ice up in the ice box, and took the liberty of rearranging my things, feeling deeply unsettled at the thought that it was taking a liberty to move about in my own cottage. I put on one of my pairs of loose linen trousers took up an improving book, feeling oddly at ease and oddly restless at the same time. I had been looking forward to a swim and a run along the beach, physical activity I rarely enjoyed at home.
I must have dozed off while reading because I woke with a start to hear some commotion within the cottage. Francois had shed his clothes and flung himself into the bed before he realized that I was not there. Mr. Wooster cried out in pain and shock. It was all I could do not to laugh aloud at the sight of the naked Francois, trying desperately to apologize while Mr. Wooster clutched at his sprained wrist and said, “Not at all, old chap. I expect you were looking for Jeeves, I say, what?” I stood in the doorway, unable to move. Mr. Wooster looked up at me and winked, as Francois grabbed his swimsuit and pushed past me to flee the cottage, still in a state of total undress.
I suddenly understood why my eyes had filled with tears at the sight of Mr. Wooster moving away on the arm of Mr. Cheesewright. I was in love with him. I felt the tears fill my eyes again as I turned to find his pain medication.
“I say, Jeeves, have I interfered…? Frightfully sorry and all that. Perhaps I ought to toddle off and out of your hair before it is too late to call back your, ah, friend.”
“Not at all, sir,” I managed to force out. I turned then, to find him beside me, in his stocking feet. I felt my mouth slacken as he reached up to touch the tears leaking from my eyes.
“Ah, whatsit?” I felt my head bow as the tears began to flow more freely. Mr. Wooster tucked his good hand into the hair at the nape of my neck and pressed his face against me. “I, that, is, Jeeves…” he said softly, as if I were an animal he was trying not to frighten. “If you are upset about your friend….”
“Not at all, sir,” I gasped. “I, that is, sir, I.”
“I love you, dash it,” murmured Mr. Wooster. “I love you. I, ah, D’Arcy told me that he fell for you. He knew who you were finally, and knowing how deuced intelligent you are, he was frightened off like a hare, but I realized something. The green monster of envy rose up and engulfed the bean. And then, later, at Ciro’s, Florence just biffed up and, ah, whatsit.”
“Would you like more pills, sir?” I asked. “You appear to be in pain.”
He looked about the cottage. “There’s not another bed?”
“Would you come to the hotel?” I felt my mouth flap open. “As, ah, thingummy.”
“You are more than welcome to share with me this evening, sir,” I said. “A suite can be prepared for you at the hotel tomorrow.” His eyes went dark.
“Share? With you?”
I smiled. “Yes, sir.”
“So the declaration is not offensive to you?”
“Not at all, sir,” I said, and then he leaned forward and kissed me. No one had ever kissed me in such a manner before, with such hesitant, yet masterful heat. He cupped the back of my head with a hand, and when we broke apart, breathless, leaned against me.
“So, Jeeves, would it be terribly forward of the young master to ask why a naked, and rather toothsome, young Frenchman came bounding into the Jeevesian bed bursting with cries of love?” A hot blush suffused my face.
“I met him while shrimping last summer.” It was Mr. Wooster’s turn to blush deeply.
“And when I called you back to deal with the fiasco of the moment, you left that toothsome morsel to hie to the young master’s side?”
I took the liberty of stroking his fair hair. “Indeed, sir.”
He paused for a moment, then tucked his fingers into the waist of my trousers. “Would it be too sudden if I asked you to join me for a swim, Jeeves? I feel that the opportunity to survey the Jeevesian terrain was somewhat truncated earlier.”
“Have you a swimming costume, sir?” He started, and I smiled. “I will take the liberty of investigating your bags.”
I found the swimming costume and moved to help Mr. Wooster undress. Things became somewhat confused around the third button on his now-crumpled shirt. He turned his face up, then our lips met and soon I found myself tangled up with him, naked, in a snarl of sheets on the bed. We kissed and rubbed together at first slowly and tenderly and then more urgently, looking deeply into each other’s eyes as we climaxed. Afterward, we curled up together, panting.
“That was dashed lovely,” said Mr. Wooster, kissing me again and again. “Dashed lovely, indeed, Jeeves.”
“Yes, sir,” I said, cradling him against me, careful not to jar his wrist. “Would you like some pills? I will hold you until you fall asleep.”
“You will come with me to the hotel, then? And we can have another, er, tumble?”
I felt a chuckle rumble up from my belly. “You may have as many tumbles as you like, sir.”
Mr. Wooster grinned. “You may have underestimated Wooster for the last time, Jeeves,” he said. I gave him the pills and held him until he fell asleep and when we woke, he did not remember a thing.