Undisclosed Desires - Sample Chapter
He's driven you mad already? And here I thought you'd at least reach four hundred before I had to lock you away.
“Be silent, Amaroq,” Keith replied distractedly, pacing back and forth on the thick rug in the sitting room where he'd spent the day hiding from the sun behind the great swaths of velvet that served as curtains for the bay window which overlooked the street. All day long, he'd heard the comings and goings of the townspeople, and never before had he felt so trapped. Keith had spent daylight hours within bustling cities before, but never one that contained the one man whose movements he was desperate to track. All day, he had been unable to rest, captivated by the thought that Javier might come, or even that he would pass by on the street in pursuit of some errand or another.
Amaroq covered his eyes with one great paw. You're obsessed and it's not even over someone worthy. Now, that duke in England? HE was interesting.... and that servant girl of his, with those green eyes? I would gladly have made puppies with her.
“The servant girl with the green eyes,” Keith repeated uncomprehendingly. “That is not the most outstanding of descriptions. Do you know how many servants I have seen with green eyes?”
And long auburn hair, down past her back? So straight and soft.... She looked like a Celt, but she spoke such pretty French... And she really liked dogs. Amaroq flopped onto the rug by the fireplace with a wistful sigh. You just have no taste.
Keith glanced at him and then started as he placed Amaroq's description. “Oh, yes! Yes, of course I remember Margaret. She was a beautiful woman; that you did not charm her to your den is a sin,” he commiserated, laughing.
Amaroq lifted his head, growling at the sight of mirth dancing in Keith’s eyes. Stop teasing me, or I'll find your love interest and bring him home to you.
“And how is that a threat that would leave me cowering?” Keith reclined in the great chair by the fire, watching his wolven companion with interest piqued more by the mention, he had to admit, of Javier's possible appearance than by Amaroq's countenance.
It was the wolf's turn to look smug. I didn't mention in how many pieces he'd be when I brought him to you, did I? He leapt to his feet as Keith jerked up from his chair and chased him with the book he'd been attempting to read that morning.
Finally, having chased Amaroq up into one of the third story rooms, where he would hear his nails clicking on the marble if he came back again, Keith returned to the front room and settled by the fire, trying to return his attention to something -- anything! - more productive than wondering if he would ever see Javier again. He wandered the room, wondering if he dared to open the heavy velvet curtains to study the street outside, and knew he did not. He paced the length of the room until he heard Amaroq's claws clicking on the marble as he'd known they would.
Dusk is come, and I'm hungry. Can I pass you unmolested, or will you chase me with bad literature again?
“Thomas Malory's works can hardly be considered bad literature,” Keith replied, wondering why he was offended that a wolf found his taste in reading materials less-than-desirable.
“The man was a criminal and a rapist. Why should you waste your time with his work? Or is it because you're identifying with him?” Javier leaned against the open doorway, warily regarding Amaroq even as he spoke to Keith, who jerked and stared at him in surprise.
He had come. He's here, he came! Why has he come? Is he armed? Yes; why did he come? I need him. Does he want me? Keith cleared his throat and rose, slowly approaching the younger man who leaned so casually against the wall. He was as beautiful as Keith remembered, though he knew the passage of a single day couldn't be responsible for more change than, perhaps, a lessening or increasing of weariness around the eyes. But it didn't feel as though it had only been a day since he'd seen the boy last. “Amaroq, go. Leave us for a while.”
Gladly. I want to be able to eat tonight and every night. Why can't you have better taste in men?
Keith scowled, and Javier noted how fierce the man could look when he wanted to. The sight of that ferocity had a fair amount of effect on him, and he was glad he hadn't belted his tunic so that the fabric was lifted to display his groin, as was the custom.
“When I want your opinion on my choice of lovers, I'll ask for it. Out.”
Javier scowled, both at the idea of the man so casually insisting they were lovers already without first consulting him and at the fact that he'd spoken to a dog as if the thing could speak to him.
I can speak to him. I can speak to you, too, but you're not worth my time. Amaroq sat on his haunches and regarded Javier coolly with an expression of arrogance more befitting a feline than a wolf.
“Dios!” Javier swore, backing up fast as Amaroq rose and padded towards him, his tongue lolling out. “Get this thing away from me!”
Mmm, you've been lying with that wife of yours. Maybe I'll go and visit her for a while. Think she'd like lying with a real man after having put up with you? Even if she sees this shape, lying with an animal is still a step up from lying with you.
“Amaroq!” Keith thundered, advancing on the animal. “Get out, and do it now before I decide you won't come back!”
The wolf shot his master a startled look, as though it understood. Javier supposed, though, if it could talk, it could probably understand, and when Keith took another menacing step towards it, it fled.
Javier leaned back against the wall, eyes wide. “What in God's name are you?” He demanded at last, when he felt his voice could support words without reverting to the trembling tones of a boy. “You... That ... thing, you can hear that thing - that's not a dog, is it?”
Keith shook his head, amused. “No, and I daresay he'd bite you if you called him one. Amaroq is a werewolf. Man and wolf in one. In my language, I know him as le loup-garou, but in your language, I think he is known as el hombre lobo.”
Javier nodded. “The man-wolf. I thought the stories said they could only change during full moons...” He let the words trail off. Why am I discussing this? This is madness! There's no such thing as talking dogs or men who can change their shapes! I must be dreaming; if I open my eyes, maybe I'll be at home, and Ofelia will be looking at me... He shut his eyes tightly and then opened them again, but the elegant sight that had met them before had not melted away during the seconds of blindness he had imposed upon himself. The fire still crackled merrily in the hearth and the thick stone walls were still adorned with their rich tapestries. The marble floor was still cold beneath the thin soles of his soft boots - and the man was still watching him. There was amusement in his twilight eyes, though he said nothing and did not move from his spot near the fire.
Javier looked away uncomfortably from the direct gaze, and then forced himself to look back immediately, defiant.
Keith's eyes crinkled as a smile touched his lips. He was careful not to show his fangs - one supernatural event at a time, he supposed, or he might break the boy, but he couldn't help his mirth. “The world is full of strange things, my boy. You know, when I was younger than you, they still believed the world to be flat.”
Javier snorted. “People still do. People are stupid.”
Keith laughed. “Only as a group. Alone, they can be quite interesting, so long as they are ... stimulated correctly.” He watched for a reaction to his carefully-chosen word, and got the one for which he'd been looking.
Javier's lips parted the slightest bit and he shifted uncomfortably, looking away for another brief moment before his snapping green eyes returned to Keith's features. “Stop baiting me!” He growled, pressing back against the wall. “I am a married man, and you are a ... a ... cheat,” he finished, somewhat lamely.
Keith threw back his head and laughed, not caring now what the boy saw. “I?” He demanded incredulously. “Who won most of a man's savings before that same man retired for the night? Who insisted on continuing the trick, to gain more wealth from the others who stayed even after the first person left? You are calling me a cheater?”
“If they don't want to lose money, they shouldn't play the game,” Javier replied roughly. He hadn't seen Keith's fangs; he'd been too busy trying to control his temper.
“That should be a piece of advice you should give yourself, rather than cheating like mad to gain money you don't deserve,” Keith purred, stepping away from the fire and heading towards the boy in the doorway.
“Only when you admit that you couldn't have won that duel without cheating like you did!” Javier shot back, all-too-aware of Keith's increasing proximity. “I would have cut your head off and mounted it on a pike that night if not for your dirty trick!”
“One good turn deserves another,” Keith replied, enjoying the younger man's discomfort at his closeness. “I was simply showing you what it feels like to be on the receiving end of someone else's deceptions...”
Javier's features closed, and his eyes became cold and hard. “I know what it feels like, Frenchman.”
Keith sighed. “Back to that again, are we? Call me by name, please, Javier. And if you know what it feels like, why do you do it?”
“Winning some money from a man too stupid to see he's being cheated is not the worst sin I could think of. Cheating on a duel and almost killing a man in doing so is worse. So is seducing him away from his wife.”
Keith watched him with hooded eyes. “You would have killed me for speaking the truth. How is defending my life against your wrongly-drawn blade a sin? And have you never before been tempted away from your wife's arms? You'll lie if you say no, though I do believe it's sheer stubbornness that kept you near instead of some moral obligation. They said you'd stray, so you won't, just to prove them wrong.”
Javier grunted, unable to say anything against Keith's words. Hadn't he been thinking about that very same notion this morning? He looked up, about to say something anyway, and found Keith standing there, mere inches from him. The words stuck in his throat and froze there as he stared up, aware for the second time that, for a Frenchman, he was tall. Javier was taller than most of his compatriots, who stood, if they were lucky, half a foot above their wives, but Keith held at least four inches' worth of height over Javier, which meant he had to be at least as tall as that Plantagenet monarch he'd read about in England. One of the Edwards, he thought, and then shook his musings off and pushed at Keith's chest, having nowhere to backpedal because of the wall's cold countenance behind him. “Get away from me,” he demanded. When Keith didn't answer or back off, Javier's unease grew, and he pushed again, but it was as fruitless an endeavor to try and knock him over as it was to try and move the wall behind him with his bare hands.
He doesn't look solid, but it's like he's made of granite! Why won't he move?!
It was then that Keith did move, and Javier glanced up from his perusal of his own hands on Keith's chest just in time to watch Keith's lips descend to his. For a wild moment, Javier fought, struggling against the diamond-hard grasp of the Frenchman, but Keith's only response was to deepen the kiss and draw Javier closer against his body. Keith's strength was not visible to the naked eye, Javier found; his hands and arms were lean and thin, and his fingers and their movements were graceful to the point of displaying a slight effeminacy, but their grips were powerful. He wasn't as broad across the shoulders as Javier was, but there was more strength in his chest and back than Javier had ever felt in anyone, even the weapons-master who had taught him swordplay so many summers ago. And no matter what he did, Javier could not budge him.
For a moment, he knew paralyzing fear, the likes of which a woman who is about to be raped must feel, and he was further horrified by the notion which next occurred to him.
He didn't really mind.
His body was yearning for more of Keith's hot kisses, and the older man seemed to know this, as he slid his lips downwards, across the freshly shaven expanse of Javier's jawline. Diego had done the job himself just before his master had left for the day. His hands ran smoothly with the grain of hair and then against it, and the exquisite wonder of the softness of Keith’s hands against the rough-smooth grain of his cheeks very nearly drove Javier mad. He leaned into Keith's embrace helplessly, opening his eyes only once.
Once is usually enough, and this time was no exception. Keith's hair had come free of the ribbon he'd used to tie its wealth back behind his neck, and a few locks tumbled freely over his shoulder, burning darkly in the firelight, and suddenly, the view brought to mind the last image Javier had of his wife, of her sable hair tumbling freely over her damp breasts as her maidservant scrubbed the sweat of the sex he and Ofelia had shared from her naked body. He jerked and shoved at Keith, later coming to the realisation that he only managed to move him then because he'd caught him by surprise.
Keith staggered back, his eyes opening wide, and caught himself before he could fall. For a moment, he stared, and then he shook his head, seemingly angry. But when he spoke, his voice was quiet and filled only with regret. “Why do you deny yourself, Javier?”
Still, he could not - would not, Javier insisted - pronounce his name correctly. That accent of his was always making it three syllables instead of two. The infuriating sound of it gave Javier’s skittering nerves something to which they could cling. “I deny myself nothing!” He flared angrily, shoving at him again, but Keith had stepped back out of range and he stumbled forward.
Strong arms caught him and he looked up only to be sucked into the midnight pools of Keith's eyes. They were beautiful to behold; the pupils were black raindrops in an endless sea of dusky blue etched with light silver that reflected the firelight back in rainbows. Javier's lips parted as he stared into them, lost as so many others had been before him, and then the moment was gone as Keith angrily turned away.
So many others, yes, but Javier was more than that, more than they had ever been to him, and he couldn't even voice why he believed that to be true. There was ... something. Something about this golden-haired, fiercely-angry wild man, and it was something that Keith could not ignore.
Keith understood that the man was married, and that he -- to his credit! – believed himself to have a commitment to his wife that went beyond making sure she was safely tucked into bed at night and had ample foodstuffs in the house to break her fast in the morning, but ...
But what? My desires are pulling apart a family, a family already made angry and ragged by the loss of their child or children, and what have I to show for it? No remorse; no, for if I regretted my actions so much, I would leave this place and try to forget the golden man before me... but I will not do that. I cannot do that. He watched Javier, who stood scowling at him for a moment more, and then stalked out, slamming the door of the palatial home behind him as he did.
Keith stared after the boy, inhaling the last vestiges of his scent as they drifted away on the air, listening to the fading thrum of his heartbeat as it passed even from his far-reaching hearing. I will have you as my own, Javier. Even if I have to wait until your lady is slow with age, I shall have you. Only once had he made a fledgling of another human, and his brother had hated him for it for the last three hundred years.
He had never dared again.
But if that was what it took, if Javier would not consent to be his before he had laid his wife in the ground and given her soul to whatever god there was, then he would bring Javier across the veil which separated Keith's own soul from the thrumming commotion of human life, and he would wait for him. He would wait forever if he had to. Mark my words, Javier Alvares Estas. You will be mine, even if I have to do the unthinkable.