“What the devil -?” Strange stared in bewilderment at the picture in his silver basin. He had been quite clear in his intention to find Lord Wellington's whereabouts, so why was the wretched thing showing him Major Grant in a state of undress? If magic was beginning to play tricks on him, the consequences did not bear thinking about.
Grant lay on a bed such as Strange had not seen in many months; the room must be in some hotel. He was wearing his shirt and (as far as Strange could see) nothing else. Strange knew he should dismiss the vision and try again, but it was difficult not to let his gaze linger over the Major's bare legs, or to refrain from admiring his well-shaped calves and powerful thighs.
Strange was not alone in his scrutiny of Grant's undress, as he realized with a faint shock. Colonel De Lancey appeared by the bedside, fully clothed; the contrast between his uniform and Grant's undress was remarkably indecent. He surveyed Grant with an air of sternness, though Strange suspected this was assumed; he looked as if he was trying hard not to laugh.
“Well, Major,” said he, “are you ready to yield?”
“Villain,” Grant said, “do your worst!”
Strange watched in fascination and disbelief as De Lancey leaned over Grant and began to tickle him, attacking his belly and ribs and making him squirm and giggle. He was evidently extremely ticklish, and to Strange, who had often suffered from the Major's scorn, there was something irresistible in seeing him reduced to such a state of helplessness. De Lancey teased him mercilessly for some time, ignoring Grant's cries of protest and playing his fingers up and down his sides until he was red-faced from laughing and could hardly breathe.
The Colonel paused for a few moments to allow his victim to recover a little, but then began again, tickling Grant under his arms and on either side of his neck. Grant writhed and twisted, trying in vain to escape the tormenting touches. There was a sharper note mixed in with his laughter now, one that made heat curl in Strange's stomach. He wanted very much to see where De Lancey would touch Grant next. Judging from Grant's response as De Lancey addressed himself to the back of his knees, he was even more ticklish there than elsewhere, and when De Lancey moved his attentions to his inner thighs Grant's laughter turned to whimpering and moaning.
“Enough,” a familiar voice barked, startling Strange so much that he nearly knocked the basin over. Clearly his magic had not led him astray after all.
De Lancey stepped back, and Lord Wellington took his place at the bedside. Grant seemed to be trying to lie still and quiet under his commander's gaze, though he could not repress a shudder of anticipation. Lord Wellington laid hands on his shirt and pushed it up, revealing Grant's prick in a state of erection. Strange swore under his breath as he watched Lord Wellington take it in his hand and give it a few quick rough strokes. Grant groaned and jerked his hips, thrusting up into his lordship's fist. He seemed to Strange to be very close to his crisis, but before he could reach it Lord Wellington released his grasp.
“To him again,” his lordship ordered.
De Lancey knelt over Grant, straddling his body, and resumed his tickling. Grant thrashed so desperately that Strange thought he would throw De Lancey off the bed. The Colonel seemed to know exactly when to shift his attack and vary his touch to produce the greatest effect, and the repeated alternation of his attentions and Lord Wellington's reduced Grant to a state of torment and arousal that Strange did not know whether to pity or envy.
More troubling than either of these possibilities was the strong wish he felt to be in De Lancey's place, or Wellington's, or both. He wanted to make Grant breathless and helpless with laughter, to make him gasp and moan and beg for release; the very thought of it made Strange's prick swell in his breeches, and he was forced to lay hands on himself as he watched the two men teasing Grant to distraction.
Lord Wellington finally appeared to take pity on Grant, and continued stroking him until he was evidently on the point of completion. De Lancey, who had been watching this phase of the action from his vantage point at Grant's side, rolled over to sprawl across Grant's legs. Lord Wellington gave a twist of his fingers around Grant's prick that made him curse fervently; as if this was his cue, De Lancey ruthlessly tickled the soles of Grant's feet, till now untouched. This combined stimulation proved too much for Grant, who arched his back and spent with a wild cry.
Strange could no longer see any thing, except through a haze of lust, or hear any thing but his own groans, which he was too far gone to restrain. His crisis, which followed hard upon Grant's, caused him to knock over the basin, spilling the water on the ground. He hardly knew which to regret more, the abrupt termination of his vision, or the lack of means to wash himself after he had spent.
The effects of the vision remained with him for many hours, making him hot and breathless whenever he thought of what he had witnessed and what he had done. He hardly knew how to look Grant and the others in the face on their return from Madrid. When some jest of De Lancey's caused Grant to burst out laughing, Strange had to make an excuse and retire to his tent, there to attempt to quell the desire that sound had raised in him. Where all this would end, he did not know, but he vowed that before many days were out he would find means to explore Major Grant's ticklishness at first hand.