The sight of him on his knees is wrong somehow.
Not unpleasant. There is very little about Mister Chandler that she ever found unpleasant, in life or in what now follows. He was always kind to her. He was true and fierce, a stroke of lightning in her life, sudden and short-lived. The latter thanks to her creator, the one who stole her final breath and provided it anew.
Some monster has cut his hair. As subdued as he looks, it is his neck that draw her eyes. The vulnerability of it without the shroud of hair she grew so accustomed to in life.
He looks at her from the ballroom floor, his face still as the grave. His eyes shine in the candlelight, tears that won’t fall but pool nonetheless. They turn his gaze to glass.
She should feel something.
This is the greatest cruelty paid upon her by her creator. Lily does not feel, but she is aware that she should. In another life, under a different name, she would do something different in this moment. She would feel in a way that she cannot now.
Something in her claws for those feelings. The memories are there. The good times they shared. But the soul behind those memories is empty. Fleeting warmth from an old life filled with such cold.
“He’s exquisite, isn’t he?” Dorian offers his appraisal with a secret little smile. This is his gift to her, her former lover on his knees. But true as his intentions, she sees the curiosity in his gaze. How he waits for her response.
“You know this already,” Lily says. “He told me, you know. About his night spent with Mister Gray. I knew what that meant. I always knew what that meant with you.”
“You can’t blame me,” Dorian protests. His smile grows brighter. “Before you, my life was a sea of boredom. Moments of intrigue, that's all. There was you first, of course. And there was him - the American so desperate to be someone else.”
“Stand up,” Lily says to Ethan. “You don’t look right like that.”
Ethan stands in one fluid motion, unfurling his height with ease. But there is a twitch to the fingers that hang by his sides. His eyes have yet to lose their shine.
“You intend to let me have him all to myself?” Lily points the words at Dorian with a skeptical brow.
Dorian laughs politely. “I intend for us to share, my love,” he says. “We’re greater together in all things, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Hm.” Lily steps forward. With every tap of her heels against the floor, her gown sashays around her feet. Ethan’s eyes train on her approach. He does not shy away, but he does not smile either. His face holds its stillness like an undisturbed pond.
He is beautiful, truly. Beneath her, of course. Mortal and doomed like the rest of his kind. Of no compare to her mate, the one who kneeled to her of his own free will.
But she forgot how beautiful he is. How well he fits his body. How sad the poor frocks that hide his comfortable past. His soulful eyes and the long lines of his neck. They descend into his collar, two buttons shy of closed.
Lily stops before him. His mouth pops open on a breath.
“Speak your mind,” she says.
Another breath. “You,” Ethan starts in a voice that croaks of thirst. “How?”
“Am I alive, you mean? I’m not sure that I am,” Lily replies. “Unlike you, though it’s safe to say you’ve seen better days.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ethan asks. “I cried over you. I thought I lost you. I would have given anything, anything, to see you again.”
“To have me again?” Lily asks, frowning.
“To see you only, if you didn’t want that,” Ethan says. “To know you were alright. That you were happy, or you were trying to be. I don’t know, just to know you were-”
“That’s enough,” Lily says.
At her words, he falls silent. Ethan looks at her calmly, head tilted and waiting. It’s a lovely gift, the charms Mister Gray possesses. Unfair but useful.
Lily does not feel regret. She cannot. But she believes Ethan when he says he would not have forced her to remain at his side. That it would have been her choice. That, despite any sadness, he would have released her if it was her wish. Ethan is not like other men. She knew that once. She still knows somewhere inside.
“Dorian,” she says, “kiss our guest.” Her eyes stay on Ethan. “His lips are quite 'exquisite,' as you put it. And lonely at the moment.”
Ethan’s eyes flit between her and Dorian. His face does not change.
The click of shoes announces Dorian’s arrival at her side. His smile still shows intrigue, his gaze lit with utter delight. Some of this is for her. An opportunity, however brief, to revel in one of few weaknesses that set them apart. But it is for the moment above all. The opportunity for yet another experience in his long life. The chance to share this experience with her.
Dorian cups Ethan’s cheek with the tenderness of a lover. Lily remembers the stroke of shaved skin under her fingers. The slide of his once longer hair across her knuckles.
“I understand, my dear,” Dorian says to her as his eyes take their time prowling Ethan’s face. “Why you loved this one once. I always did.”
“Please, Brona,” Ethan says. It is a name so foreign to Lily now. She almost forgets it once belonged to her. Ethan did too. Now, he can be hers again, as everything in this world of men will.
Dorian's lips meet Ethan's with a comforting sound. Soft and gentle. Not as it once was, from what Lily hears. Once, it was Ethan who seized Dorian in this room. Tonight, he allows himself to be seized.
Dorian adds his second hand to his first. Ethan’s face fits between his palms, claimed without complaint. His eyes close, and his face warms. Lily wonders how long it has been since he was kissed. If that Miss Ives is as sweet to him as the departed Brona once was.
Lily watches their kiss deepen. She watches Dorian’s descent too, the slow unbuttoning of Ethan’s shirt. The small sound from Ethan’s throat that may be encouragement or protest.
He moves only when Dorian undoes his trousers. A startled jerk of his long body. A harsh sound that catches so hard in his throat. Dorian’s hands latch to his forearms. He smiles like a patient father, but Lily sees the whiteness of his knuckles. Dorian will play along, but he is insistent. Though Ethan offers no complaint, panic widens his eyes.
“Shhh now.” Lily moves behind him. She presses herself close, her gown to his bare back. She winds arms around his waist. Her fingers begin the task that Dorian’s stalled on. Ethan shudders against her, but in moments his trousers circle his ankles. His underclothes soon follow. They close him in, a gate of fabric around his nakedness. His skin is strong and pale as it ever was. Lily’s fingers relearn the lines of his stomach and the dip of his waist down to the curls of his sex.
“Kneel, darling,” Lily says.
Dorian’s brow twitches, his only show of surprise.
After a moment, he offers a smile more dazzling than the last. He is slow to his knees, his eyes holding Lily’s until the moment he touches the tiled ground.
“N-” Ethan begins, but Lily takes his chin in hand before he can finish. His head turns for her, and she kisses him. The faint taste of Dorian sits on him, but the rest - oh, she knows the rest. She remembers the ease of kissing him, snuggled close beneath the thin sheets of that awful inn. His back fits against her corseted breasts. Every time she breathes, she feels him.
Every time she breathes. She. Imagine this.
Ethan’s lips stutter from hers, and she knows before she sees. Dorian is delicate with the softness of Ethan’s cock. At the tip, he suckles, mimicking the pluck of a hungry babe. With a gentle squeeze, he loops his lips around the crown. Ethan groans into the space between their lips. He takes the hand Lily still holds against his stomach.
“There there now,” Lily says. “Let yourself feel good. It’s been so long, hasn’t it. It's been so long since you’ve felt good.”
Her eyes meet Dorian’s. With a wink, Dorian pulls his cheeks in. Ethan’s groan is louder and deep enough for her to feel.
“That’s it,” Lily whispers to him. “Good boy.”
She rocks herself against his thighs. Welcomes the weight of his backside to her stomach. She rests her cheek against his back. His tension knots under her, echoed by his every chopped breath.
Lily sees the ease with which Dorian handles him. How he waits, patiently suckling, until Ethan's breath shakes and he knows to proceed. He swallows Ethan's length without a hint of discomfort. Dorian's lips, so pink around the girth of Ethan's sex. Lily feels a stirring, like a heartbeat between her thighs.
She imagines keeping Ethan. He will age, of course, and decay like the rest of his kind. They will outlive his beauty, but for a time she would treasure him. Even love him as a child loves their favorite toy. For a time, until it no longer satisfies the child’s whims.
She will not keep Ethan, though. It is a testament to the high esteem with which she holds him. Even now, an echo in the depths where her soul once lived.
So tonight, she will have her fill of him. She will pleasure him and use him until the slightest touch sets him to screaming. Until he knows how it feels to worship at the feet of the masters of the new world.
What a sweet beginning, this lavish attention paid by Dorian's mouth. Dampness gathers in the folds of Lily's sex. She tastes the great line of Ethan's shoulder blade. Feels him jump beneath her, a sound muted between grit teeth.
"Shh, that's it," Lily says. She slides fingers down his spine and opens him with care. A tremor rocks his thighs hard enough for her to feel. "That's it," she soothes again.
Dorian is not the only one with patience. For Ethan, she waits, cheek between his shoulders. She listens to him breathe, rasping through his open lips. The occasional catch. And a wonderful hiss that makes his body straighten like the corpse she once was.
"Easy now," she breathes. Her thumb coaxes tenderly.
Ethan draws in under her touch, tension ripped off his tongue. She registers the muted sound of Dorian's laughter from his knees.
“That’s it,” she praises. Again, she strokes Ethan. “Go on.”
When he breaks, it is with a powerful arch of his back. He plays his part well, as Dorian said. The American, strong as a beast and untameable as the west. But his release is a quiet thing, violent in body but a whisper off his lips. Ethan’s exhale shakes with a note of dismay. He braces a dizzy hand on Dorian’s shoulder.
“My good boy,” Lily says, lips to his skin. “Well done.”
“A delightful start,” Dorian says, mouth wet from his own licking. “An amuse-bouche, one might say.” He locks eyes with Lily’s, looking ravenous as a hunting hound. “Shall we move to more comfortable quarters?”
Lily’s fingers curl, cool and firm, around Ethan’s shoulders. “Yes,” she agrees. She takes in the still-flushed wetness of Ethan’s sex. The light layer of sweat sitting like morning on his skin.
“Come, my boy,” she says. “You may have whet the appetite of Mister Gray, but I intend to sate myself with you.”
Ethan glances at her. His eyes, for a moment, show the very depths of his misery.
Then he smiles and, like the finest pet, follows his masters up to bed.