They were not gone five minutes before someone rapped on the outer door. I rose to see who was calling at this hour and silently vowing if it was anything less than life or death, I’d send them directly to young Doctor Leyton down the street.
It was not a matter of life or death. It was not a patient at all. Maxwell waited in the greenish light. Or perhaps that was the color of his face. He looked rather…peaked.
“Sorry,” he began, but then seemed to run out of conversation.
“This is unexpected,” I said, which was not much better an effort.
“May I speak to you for a moment?”
Considering how buoyantly he and Perceval had sailed in and out of my quarters previously, I was a little surprised by this diffidence.
I nodded, stepping aside. I followed Maxwell as he limped through the lobby.
“There’s a fire in the sitting-room,” I said. And then, reluctantly, “Would you like a drink?”
“No. Thank you.”
We entered the sitting room and he came to a halt, standing beside the leather sofa. His expression was troubled. “Armiston… I feel I must—ought to—explain myself. Especially after this evening.”
I sighed. He was so…correct. He made me feel both geriatric and unfair. “It’s all right. I don’t really think you were accusing me of stacking the deck against Perceval.”
If anything, he lost color. “I know perfectly well you only became involved in this matter because Percy and I dragged you into it.”
“I know that you know. Now do sit down. It’s ridiculous for us to stand here as though we’re waiting for our seconds to arrive.”
He didn’t smile. Didn’t move. “The things you said at the Banyan were quite true. I did believe the High Priestess would come to me this time. I did believe you would try somehow to interfere. Because I did believe you…” His eyes seemed dark and troubled as they met my own.
“Cared for you?” I suggested gently.
I watched the color rise in his face. He did not look away. “Yes.”
“You’re wrong though as to the reason for my concern. I’m not—I didn’t—whatever you may think, I wasn’t—”
I honestly had no idea what to make of that confused rush of words. It only then occurred to me that what I had always assumed to be taciturnity was in fact largely…shyness.
That opinion was instantly revised, however, when—words having failed him—Maxwell crossed the space between us and his hard mouth came down on mine, pressing fiercely against my parted lips.
I say parted, but in truth I was gaping at him.
His free arm circled my back, pulling me tight, and a strange sensation came over me. Though I was the larger man, I felt as though my limbs were melting against his muscular legs and thighs, the hard bulge of his body imprinted against my own with a shocking, unfamiliar intimacy. My cock answered in a painful surge against the restriction of my trousers.
This was the thing I had longed for my entire life and never known until now. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. My vision dimmed, the blood drummed in my ears, and I forgot that I was standing in my own sitting-room, forgot about the coffee-mill grinding away beneath our feet, knew only this strong, passionate young man taking my mouth with wet, hungry kisses that made my knees shake and my heart clamor.
His lips moved from mine to my jaw, nuzzled beneath my ear, which sent a jolt of electricity zinging straight to my cock. He lingered for a moment, then trailed those moist, plush kisses down my throat. I groaned helplessly at the weird, wonderful feelings sparked by this erotic exploration. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me.
At the same time I hoped it would never end. I felt quite desperate for what would happen next.
Maxwell’s mouth roamed hungrily over the hollow of my throat, the pulse beating madly at the base of my neck, and then back to my gasping mouth. His tongue pushed against mine, and I opened to him instinctively. He sucked at me, our saliva mingling as he stole my breath away. His body strained against mine, and I could feel he was shaking too.
And then it was over. Just like that, I was free, staggering a little as he released me, steadying himself on his cane.
“So you see how it is, Quentin,” he said, sounding a little out of breath himself.
It was perhaps the most puzzling thing he had said or done all night.
As though his point had been made with an inarguable finality, this strange boy turned and limped from my rooms. I stepped back against the edge of the sofa and sat down, hard. I heard the thump of his cane all the way down the stairs until the sound faded into the night.
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