“So this,” Katharine said, gesturing expansively, “is a castle. I can’t say it’s the kind I dreamed of as a child.”
“Darling, no castle is of the kind anyone dreamed of as a child,” Peter replied to her, as he built the fire up. “Unless you were the strange kind of child who dreamed of drafty rooms, death duties, and dusty beds.”
“Maybe I was that type of child,” Jane mused, though she really wasn’t.
“Never dreamed of castles myself,” Anthony said. “I had no real wish to be a king.”
“Don’t have to be a king to have a castle,” Timothy pointed out. “Not technically, though I don’t know if they’re not more often called manors, estates, or bloody white elephants.”
“Usually the last,” Peter said. “At least in Ireland.”
“Everywhere else, too,” Jane said. “No one can really afford to keep one up, unless they are the Queen. Even she has some difficulties, I’m sure.”
Peter laid the match and a flame burst into life. Of course, there was a huge puff of smoke from the wood, which made him cough and splutter.
Wordlessly, Anthony handed him a drink, having already served Jane and Katharine, and Peter downed it slowly, as it did help.
“Did you really cut off a piece of your finger?” Timothy asked him as he accepted a drink from Anthony.
Peter held up his bandaged hand. “I could take it off if you want to see.”
Timothy shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
“Someone doesn’t like the prospect of blood,” Anthony teased.
“Someone is very sensible, then,” Katharine said. “No blood. We don’t need to see it.”
“It’s probably healed up,” Peter said. “But I don’t think I’ll show you,” and he almost laughed at the looks of relief on everyone’s faces, especially how pronounced Anthony’s was, given his teasing.
“Did anyone bring food?” Katharine changed the subject, smoothly enough.
“You did promise to feed me, after all.”
“Isn’t our presence food enough?” Peter answered her.
“While your presence and wit are food for the mind and soul, sometimes the body needs nourishment,” Katharine shot back, making Peter laugh.
“I had the hotel cook pack a basket for us,” Jane answered. “I still don’t know why we’re staying here for the evening, when we could be there. In actual warmth,” for even though the fire was blazing, it only heated the area they were in at all adequately.
“Thank you, darling,” Peter picked it up. There was a blanket as well, so he spread it out in front of the fire. “Someone gets a kiss for the whiskey bottle,” he said and pressed his lips to Jane’s slightly cool cheek. “Come closer to the fire, darling,” he said. “We can’t have you turning into a block of ice.”
He led her closer and settled her on the blanket, pouring her another drink as well.
“I suppose one has to be young and pretty to get that treatment,” Katharine winked at Anthony and Timothy as she spoke, which Peter was fully aware of.
“Not necessarily,” he said, and then pulled Timothy closer, noticing the slight frown on Anthony’s face when his arm went around the younger man. “But it helps.” He settled Timothy beside Jane, before doing the same for Katharine and Anthony, and he noticed how close Anthony sat to Timothy.
He wondered if it was simple transference of screen roles – he’d certainly had a little of that happen in the past, and he smiled at memories of the cold desert night and huddling with Omar and Alec. Still, there was something a little different about Anthony’s attitude, that he hadn’t quite put his finger on yet.
While Peter would have been happy to drink the night away, Jane had gone to all the trouble of bringing food, and he put out the plates and utensils. They ate from each plate, sharing tidbits and Anthony seemed to linger as he pressed grapes into Timothy’s mouth, which made everyone smile, but no one said anything aloud, it might still be new or unacknowledged, and there was a silent consensus not to press them in case it was more about getting into character, but Peter doubted that it was after that moment.
He was regaling them with stories of the Lawrence shoot, talking of sand getting into places it never should, of the desert winds. “Let me tell you, here is luxurious in comparison.”
“Really?” Jane asked.
“Darling, we are not in a tent. There were days I swore I never wanted to see a tent again,” Peter answered. “Though I think I can bear the sight of canvas now, at least. Possibly not if I’m expected to live in it, but at least I can see it without screaming.”
“You’ve never screamed in your life,” Katharine said. “Yelled, in a manly way of course. But you’re not a screamer.”
“Under most circumstances, you’re right, as long as we don’t count being in bed,” Peter replied, winking.
“A bliss I will never know,” Katharine answered. “But I’ll bow to your wisdom on that.”
“Do men scream in bed?” Jane asked. “Or have I been sheltered or with the wrong men?”
“Some do,” Timothy answered, and then he flushed, becoming silent.
“Some?” an arch of an eyebrow and Anthony looked a mixture of curious, jealous and aroused. “You’ll have to tell me more.”
“Back at the hotel,” Timothy said. “It’s private.”
While Peter might have tried to push, the blush on Timothy’s cheeks was enough to put him off. “People make the strangest noises during sex, let’s just say that much,” he said.
“True,” Katharine agreed. “Just as long as they’re not telling you to stop, anything is good.”
“Agreed,” Anthony said. “I can’t say I have had anything really memorable outside of a few screams, at least not yet…”
“Oh, you will,” Peter said. “I’m absolutely sure of that.” If not Timothy, which he was pretty sure was a certainty given the way they’d reacted to each other tonight, Anthony would certainly have many interesting experiences.
“You’re young, take life as it comes, you’ll have more great experiences than you could imagine,” Katharine said, raising a glass.
They all drank to that.
Timothy cleared up the dishes and put them into the basket, and Peter noticed the flush on his cheeks was calming.
“You’ll make someone a fine husband,” Jane said to him, smiling as she kissed his cheek. Peter could feel the confusion and jealousy emanating from Anthony. He pulled Jane over to him and kissed her cheek again. “You feel warm now,” he said.
“You know actors, feed us and give us enough drink and we’ll get warm,” Jane answered.
Katharine nodded to that. “Sometimes you can huddle for warmth, too, if you think that would help.”
“A place like this, it can be the only way not to freeze,” Peter said, and he saw that Timothy and Anthony were already doing that.
Mission accomplished, he hoped. Not that pushing the two younger men together had been the only goal of tonight – they really had needed a night to loosen up together as a group, but Peter had confided his suspicions in Jane and Katharine, and he glanced over at them both, subtly indicating the young men.
They couldn’t leave yet without arousing suspicion on the part of Timothy or Anthony, so Peter began regaling them with more stories about filming Lawrence and Katharine had an endless supply of Hollywood stories, well lubricated by the rest of the bottle of whiskey. They talked long into the night, but eventually it was late enough for Peter to douse the fire, as he helped Katharine and Jane to their feet, noticing that Anthony did
the same for Timothy.
The car was waiting outside for them to take them back to the hotel. Peter was sad to leave the castle behind, but maybe he’d helped start a few more dreams tonight.
Feeling Jane’s hand in his, he wondered, as she looked up at him, if he might have found something for himself, too, at least for filming.