1795 – Rural England
Jensen wandered through the sunlit garden; it was beautiful in its own way. Green, lush and abloom with flowers. Fruit trees blossomed all around him and he could smell their sweet scent, almost taste the succulent pear or juicy plum burst on his tongue. He sighed and buried his bare toes into the carefully clipped grass. He was so bored .
Behind him the house where he had come to live loomed up grey and dull all but blotting out the sun. The windows appeared to watch him like several sets of tiny eyes, all of them disapproving. He tilted his chin and stared back at it with some defiance but, deep down, he knew any protest was pointless. This was his home now like it or not and he would have to learn to live with it or he would go mad.
As the middle child in his family he had been bound for the church, until Sir Jeffery had seen him playing happily with his siblings amongst the dunes near his family’s sea front home. He had been but twenty summers then and he knew his time was growing shorter. He had no real longing to be a priest but he had been expecting it, prepared for it and he had kept himself clean and pure. Sir Jeffrey had ridden by on that fateful day, taken one look at Jensen and declared that he must have him and have him now.
Of course he told Jensen’s parents that he needed a companion, someone to keep him company in his lonely old house. Jensen could not help but be amused at how easily his parents were taken in by this statement. He may have been keeping himself pure but he was far from innocent. He also knew that Sir Jeffrey, a knight of the realm, a constant at court of King George III, had given his parents a fair price for him, a tithe for the church who would no longer be getting a new servant for their cause.
Sir Jeffrey took Jensen from his home on the day he reached his majority; he was in his twenty-first year and considered a man. That evening he had been shown to his rooms in the West Wing of the huge house set on the edge of nowhere, flat and green and as far away from the scent of the sea and the soft sand of Jensen’s childhood as there could be.
That night instead of going down on his knees in prayer, Jensen was on his knees worshiping Sir Jeffrey’s more than adequate manhood. It was not what he expected but it was not unpleasant. Sir Jeffrey was handsome despite his age and he had a wicked laugh that made Jensen want to be touched by him, loved by him.
And so his education began.
He had been happy.
On the surface he was Sir Jeffrey’s male companion, accompanying him to balls and, once, even to court. In reality he was Sir Jeffrey’s lover, always in his bed, creeping out before dawn sated and contented. Perchance life would always be that way.
But no, Sir Jeffrey had taken him aside one day and explained, gently, that he had to marry, to procreate, to extend the family name. He took a bride very quickly and soon Jensen was banished to his rooms, not allowed to be seen by Sir Jeffrey’s delicate and oft pregnant wife. Jensen was lonely; he could not mix with the servants because he was above them but he could not go anywhere with Sir Jeffrey anymore because he was below him. Jensen had no place in society and no other place to go. His parents had let him go for two bags of gold and, despite this, for the first time in his life, he felt suddenly worthless.
Jensen sat on the grass, the midday sun burning through the thin shirt that he wore. His breeches were slightly damp and there was sweat beading at the top of his spine. Bees buzzed around his head and he sighed, lying back for a moment, his eyes closing.
“Sir, you should move.”
Jensen must have been dozing. The sun appeared to have gone in and he could see nothing behind his eyelids.
“Sir,” that voice again, unfamiliar and annoying. “You have tarried here way too long, and you should move before your skin burns.”
Jensen opened his eyes to see a large figure looming over him. He blinked for a moment and then sat up, head spinning.
“Let me assist you.” Strong arms fitted beneath his shoulders and hauled him none too gently to his feet. He stumbled a moment and realized that his head was now resting against firm, hard flesh.
The man before him was huge; broad shoulders, thick biceps and a very flat abdomen. His chest was bare and filmed in sweat, his long chestnut hair sticking to his neck and forehead. Concerned hazel eyes stared down at him and a huge paw of a hand cupped the back of his neck for a moment before righting him.
“Who . . . ?” Jensen’s mouth was dry and he could feel the start of a headache behind his eyes.
“Here.” The man pressed a cup of something against his lips. It tasted wonderful, water perhaps flavored with lime and honey, refreshing him instantly. “Do you feel better now?”
“Thank you.” Jensen flushed, he felt foolish and gauche, sitting in the bright sun in his best breeches and silken shirt. “I had no idea it was so hot.”
The man smiled then, wide and bright, teeth white against his tanned skin.
“You should be more careful. Delicate skin like yours will soon be damaged in this heat.”
Jensen nodded and wiped his brow.
“Who are you?” He said, finally. “We’ve never met before.”
“I’m Jared.” The man tipped his head slightly. “Sir Jeffrey employed me to take care of the gardens here. Seems the last man was not up to his standards.”
“Oh.” Jensen was aware that he was still very close to Jared’s naked chest and he was also acutely aware that his traitorous neglected body was showing signs of interest, his cock already half hard in his breeches.
Jared smiled again, his grin knowing. “Seems like the garden isn’t the only beautiful thing around here that has been neglected.” His big hand cupped Jensen’s chin and tilted it up so that they were eye to eye. “Sir Jeffrey has gifted me with a small cottage to reside in whilst I take care of his lawns.” He winked. “If you are feeling lonely at any time, do come and visit me there.” He cocked his head to one side observing. “I can serve you afternoon tea – everything good and proper and how it should be.”
Jensen almost swallowed his tongue while searching for a reply. It was tempting, so tempting. It had been a long time since he had been wanted in any way and he just wanted to feel again whatever the cost.
“Perhaps tomorrow,” he ventured and Jared nodded.
“It will be my pleasure,” he replied.
Jensen knew it was not proper to fraternize with the gardener, the hired help if you will, but he was aware that it was also not the done thing to be a male companion (read lover) to a beloved knight of the realm and to be rejected quite completely by said knight. Jensen was lonely and, if the truth be known, sexually frustrated. What did he have to lose? A closet full of expensive clothing that he would never wear, a suite of rooms that only made him his exclusion feel sharper than ever and a wallet full of notes he would never use as he was, virtually, a prisoner here. Perchance a dalliance with the gardener – with Jared – would make him feel wanted at least and if it doomed him then so be it, he was old enough to face the world alone and he would do so if necessity dictated it.
He had dressed impeccably as if he really were going for afternoon tea, best waistcoat, black breeches and a shirt of pure silk. He polished his boots till they shone and painted his face a little as the dandy’s did a beauty spot here and there, as if he were going to court.
Jared’s face, when he opened the door to his tiny cottage (little more than a hovel really) was worth all the effort. Jared had cleaned up nicely, he wore a simple cotton shirt over loose breeches and he had tied his messy hair up in a pony-tail some of the strands already falling lose.
“The water is boiling.” Jared gestured to a bubbling pot on the battered looking range. “And I have managed to obtain a little milk from cook.” He grinned. “She gave me two slices of her delicious cake too, just used my charms.”
Jensen swallowed and stepped inside. Jared smelt of the earth, no expensive cologne for him, and it was heady and overwhelming and Jensen was aware that he was not here for tea and cake but for something else, something fierce and needed.
“Lay down for me,” Jared begged, ragged, pleading. “I know this is wrong, I know two men should not have carnal relations like this but I want it and you want it so how can it not be right?”
Jensen fumbled with the buttons on his fancy waistcoat, the lace on his breeches. Jared pulled him down onto a threadbare rug by an already blazing fire, the smell of wood smoke and coal sharp in his nostrils.
“You are so pretty.” Jared bit his ear, stroked at his skin, moved his hand lower until it encircled its prey. “Please,” he said again. “Please.”
“Anything you want,” Jensen whispered, lost in the sensations already.
“You inside me.” Jared smiled as he bent down to kiss. “That’s what I wanted the minute I saw you lying there in the sun.”
Jensen swallowed; this was intimacy he had never experienced before, Sir Jeffrey had always been in charge, always been the one to take and not always give. He nodded, eagerly, as Jared laid down for him, naked now, everything in proportion, a simple delight. Jensen was aware that they had only exchanged a few words that Jared did not even know his name but it did not matter. They had the here and now and it was enough, it had to be enough.
“Why are you here?” Jared settled more comfortably on the rug and Jensen buried his head into the juncture where neck met shoulder, damp and sweaty.
“Sir Jeffrey took me from my family to be his companion.” Jensen did not want to talk about bags of gold or ownership. “What about you?”
“My family lived in Dover near the port.” Jared’s eyes went distant for a moment. “There were so many people there, so many travelers and they brought so many exotic things with them.” He laughed with no humor. “Including cholera; death came quickly and my mother, my baby sister and my elder brother were all gone within two weeks of each other. I never knew my father, he was a sailor I believe and I oft dreamed of following his path but instead I became interested in plants and trees.” He laughed. “Odd for a city boy, I know. When I lost my family there was naught for me. Sir Jeffrey was kind enough to take me in,” he sighed. “But this is not what I want.”
“What do you want?” Jensen knew the sea too, missed the salt tang of the ocean.
“To sail the seven seas and to explore far off worlds.” Jared grinned, eyes closed. “To see the exotic and the bizarre. Perchance to go to the Americas and buy some land there.”
“I would like that too.” Jensen chanced his arm. “I have clothes I could sell and enough money for our passage to Dover at least.”
“You would run away with me? A stranger? Leave your comfortable life here?”
“Yes.” Jensen inclined his head. “I would.”
“Then perhaps we should start afresh if we are to be traveling companions.” A big hand stroked down his flank, white teeth flashing. “My name is Jared Padalecki – a waif and stray of foreign descent who is ready to see the world.”
“Jensen Ackles – once bound for the church, once a kept man and now an unwanted ornament, also ready to see the world.”
Jared laughed then, teeth flashing, and he hauled Jensen to his feet the two of them fitting together as if had always been.
The docks were busy and hectic and they easily lost themselves in the crowd. Jensen had no idea if Sir Jeffrey would actively pursue him as, in reality; he was a thief and property at the same time. He had sold his clothing to a market trader for a pretty penny and he had traded in some of his money for a horse which they had ridden, clumsily, the rest of the way. Jared had taken some of the tools he had used on the garden and also the copper kettle he had brewed tea in. Together they had raised enough coins to afford them a stay in a coaching inn with weak cabbage soup for their supper and tough blackened bacon to break their fast. Now they were on the verge of a new life and Jensen wondered if it was fate that had brought them here, the two of them having no one else but the other.
They would find a ship to take them from England; there were worlds out there for them to discover and explore. Life would not be easy nor would it be safe but in no way would it be boring.
Jensen had never believed in love at first sight, in fact he had never believed in love at all but when Jared kissed him and lay down for him night after night, he might very well change those beliefs.
What they had was dangerous and forbidden but it made no difference nor would they ever change. They were careful and cautious and could easily travel together as friends or as brothers depending on who they wanted to be on that particular day.
For now they had the softness of the dunes beneath their feet and the scent of the ocean in their nostrils and a new life awaiting them.
Jensen was complete.