Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Portrait by Cherry Hood
I'm posting Sons in its complete format. I've also made a few changes to the final chapter and the epilogue. Nothing serious, just a few additions here and there to flesh it out. Enjoy!
Every age seems to have its own particular tragedy, every generation its own guilt. The sins of the fathers are visited upon their children; each era must learn to deal with the transgressions of the past and those they will visit upon the future. Collective sin becomes collective guilt. And so it was with my generation. Especially for those of us who had lived through one of the greatest horrors of the modern age.
I was raised in Dresden by my grandparents who died along with the other estimated 35,000 Germans during the Allied fire bombings between February 13th and February 15th, 1945. My father died in the Great War and my mother, I was always told, had also died during ‘The War to End All Wars’. I was to learn, however, that she was English, having given birth to me and returned to England, leaving me with her German boyfriend and his parents. When the letter arrived informing me that as her son and sole heir, I had inherited a small fortune and her home in the midlands of England, I received the news with fear and excitement.
After the war the Russians moved into Eastern Germany with an amazing ferocity. To acquire my passport and traveling papers took a great deal of perseverance and tenacity. Serving in the German Army Intelligence and dealing with military bureaucracy played a large part in helping me to achieve my desired goals. Ultimately, I was granted permission to leave Germany. I had traded my uniform for civilian clothes and was traveling light. Four years after the end of the war, I left Berlin sharing a train compartment with an elderly gentleman and a woman with an infant.
The train stopped at the outskirts of Berlin and then again at the border between East and West Germany, each time filling me with terror as the conductor and an East German or Russian official checked our papers.
I watched the German countryside pass by as I said goodbye to my old life and the years of fear and strife brought on by the war. The old man snored as the woman nursed her child. As we approached the Dutch border the conductor came through checking our tickets and passports. A terror gripped me as he looked at my papers and then at me. I smiled as he handed them back to me. Soon we passed through the Netherlands where the old man got off the train. I continued into Belgium where the mother was replaced by American soldiers. Eventually, I arrived in France. Everywhere were signs of destruction.
I found a room in Calais and was up early the next day to catch my boat on a bright clear spring morning with clouds on the horizon. As the boat left its moorings and sailed into the English Channel, I stood on the bow of the boat, the wind and mist on my face baptizing me into my new life. Having no attachments gave me a sense of freedom I had yet to experience in my thirty-six years. As I watched the coast of France, the fear and hatred flew away, my spirits soaring with the gulls that accompanied our boat.
The room was filled with handsome lieutenants and colonels in their uniforms; the elite of the SD, Sicherheitsdienst, the security and intelligence division of the SS, Schutzstaffel. It was a hot September day and I longed to be far from this stuffy smoke filled room. I had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel two months prior because of my good work and affiliations with Dr. Franz Arthur Six, from the University of Berlin. He had been my economics instructor and later the Dean of the faculty of Economics. A fanatic, Professor Six had recruited me into the Nazi Party, eventually moving me into the German Army High Command and the SD, where we immediately set to work on Directive 16 and the invasion of Great Britain.
The air was somber after we had just been informed that Hitler had postponed Operation Sea Lion until the spring or summer of the following year; 1941. Hitler had shifted his focus to the Soviet Union and Professor Six had already moved into a position commandeering Operation Barbarossa.
Dr. Six and I worked together on creating a list of 2,300 persons who would be arrested and brought back to Germany after the invasion. The names for the most part came from a list previously compiled by Walther Schellenberg, who had been Heinrich Himmler’s personal aide and was now working with Reinhard Heyrich. Heyrich had been the first to suggest to Hitler that he invade Great Britain. Among those on the list were prominent politicians like Winston Churchill, scholars such as Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud, (although he had died in September of 1939), Freemasons, Jehovah Witnesses and Boy Scouts. We also made the plans for the Einstatzgruppen, the six death squads who would invade Britain and destroy all anti-Nazi elements, civilian resistance members, and of course Jews. They would target London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Edinburgh or Glasgow.
In July, thirteen divisions of soldiers had been moved in preparation for the first wave of the invasion. I was never convinced it would work and was relieved when the order came down to delay. The Luftwaffe was set into motion to continue bombing London and bases throughout England to demoralize the nation until the right time to invade would be decided upon.
I had just finished a brandy and was preparing to leave the meeting when I was approached by SchellenbergSchellenberg played a major part in the Venlo Incident, which led to the capture of two British agents. Because of my knowledge of the English language, I had worked with him on the project. He had just returned from Portugal to intercept the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and tried to persuade them to work for Germany. The mission was a failure; Schellenberg managed only to delay their baggage for a few hours, but earlier I overheard him bragging that he had almost convinced them.
“So, Huber, what will we do now that we are not to invade England?” He smiled at me and took a drink of his brandy. He held my gaze with his brown eyes.
“I suspect you have something up your sleeve.”
“As a matter of fact, I would like to discuss a very interesting little proposition with you. You and I worked well together on the Venlo Incident. Do you know the name Kitty Schmidt?”
“Isn’t she the madam who was arrested at the Dutch border trying to escape to England?”
“Yes. We’ve converted her brothel with bugs and tape recorders. Madame Schmidt has been very cooperative. Did you know she had bank accounts in England and smuggled money out of Germany with Jews she helped escape? Yes, she has been very cooperative indeed.”
“I imagine she has.”
“I’ve hand-selected twenty prostitutes from hundreds we interviewed and trained them to help us spy on military personnel and foreign diplomats who frequent her establishment. Psychiatrists, doctors and university professors have helped us decide which of the girls were emotionally unreliable and unfit for the job. I need someone to train the girls in codes and deciphers and help them with their English. Do you think you’re up to it?”
“Anything I can do to help,” I replied. My palms began to sweat and I felt the sweat on my back drip down past the waistband of my trousers. Walther took another drink of his brandy and licked his lips.
“I realize you would be making a great sacrifice, Huber.” Schellenberg took a drag off his cigarette.
“What do you mean?” I tried to stay as calm as possible.
“Well, let’s just say that I know you’ve probably never been to a house of ill-repute before.” He smiled and winked as he blew smoke past my face.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean?”
“Oh, come now, Stefan, no need to play coy. Your little secret’s safe with me. Perhaps we might even share some secrets with one another if you’re not too busy.”
“What did you have in mind?” I was sweating profusely.
He finished his brandy and set down the glass. “Come with me. Let me show you what we’ve been up to. Besides, it’s way too hot in here. I can see the perspiration on your face.” He led the way and soon we were in the back seat of his car.
“Kittys.” He commanded to the driver.
The crossing was uneventful. The sea was dark with frothy white caps. British soldiers who had been part of the occupation of Germany and France for the past four years lined the decks as we approached England and the cliffs of Dover. A few were at the railing getting sick. The rest looked longingly as the coast appeared on the horizon. The closer we got the more animated their conversations became until the cheers rang out and they began hugging and slapping one another’s backs. Soon they began singing, “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow, just you wait and see.” The deck filled with others from below singing and crying as we approached the coastline. My growing sense of isolation as an outsider became more acute.
As I stood on the deck of the ship, I saw a young man in army khakis standing off to the side, looking in my direction. His eyes caught mine, held my gaze for a moment and then returned to the coastline. There was sadness and a touch of sorrow in his gaze. He looked back at me, saw me looking at him and smiled. I smiled back as he walked over to me holding his hand out.
“Miles. Miles Sheffington. Nice to meet thee.”
I had assumed my mother’s maiden name, using the English pronunciation of my given Christian name. A gust of wind blew mist into our faces almost blowing our hats off. Miles held onto the rail and his side cap as he inquired.
“You might say that.”
I had worked out my story but it seemed like nonsense to lie to him.
“My mother died and I inherited her home in the midlands,” I hesitated. “I’ve never been there. I…I was raised in Germany.”
“So, yer mother was British? What about yer father?”
“German. He died in the first war.”
“Ye sound so British.”
“I woulda guessed thee was an earl or at least a lord.”
We laughed. He looked into my eyes and smiled again. I had studied English and during the war had done some translating, working hard on my pronunciation. When I received news of my inheritance having decided to go to England, I worked even harder on losing any traces of my accent.
“Where didja live in Germany?” he asked.
The smile left his face as he looked out to the approaching coastline.
“Dreadful business, war.”
I leaned onto the rail, looking to see how much time we had before we reached England.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“North, near the Scottish border. The Lake District.”
“If this great world of joy and pain revolve in one sure track; If freedom, set, will rise again, and virtue, flown, come back;”
He looked at me and finished the verse.
“Woe to the purblind crew who fill the heart with each day's care; Nor gain, from past or future, skill to bear, and to forbear!”
He smiled again, that sad, beguiling smile and touched my hand resting on the rail.
“Thankee,” he said.
He held his hand on mine a moment longer and squeezed before he let go, looking back out to the coast. A cheer rang out on the deck.
“For what?” I asked.
“Yer kindness. It’s been a long time.”
He turned and walked back to where the other soldiers were standing. I watched him leave and strike up conversations with the men. He glanced back, saw me looking after him and smiling walked back over to me.
“If yer ever in the North Country, I come from a place called Buttermere in Cumbria. Ask fer Miles and they should direct ye. It’s a small village.”
He shook my hand and turned away. The boat had entered the harbour at Dover. We docked and began to disembark. Having brought only one suitcase with me, I was soon on the dock, standing in the long line to pass through the customs house. A light rain began to fall. The shoulders of my overcoat were soaked at the shoulders. The woman behind me stood closer and held her umbrella over us both.
“No reason you should die of pneumonia after what I’m sure you’ve been through, lad,” she said and smiled.
“Thank you, that’s very kind of you.”
“Thank you, son, for helping to wipe out that demon Hitler and hold back the Hun once more.”
“I. . .I . ., you’re welcome and thank you for the use of your umbrella.”
I looked ahead and saw Miles waving at me on the other side of Customs. After a few dark glances and questions, I passed through to the other side and was welcomed by Miles.
“I see thee made it through the gauntlet unscathed. How ‘bout I buy thee a pint or two and we get stinking pissed my first night back in Merry Old? I think thee needs a proper introduction to yer new country.”
“No, in London Town. We’ll get a room and find us a pub.”
“Alright,” I agreed and we set off to the train station. Very soon we were heading north to London. We crowded into our seats and sat opposite another soldier with a head bandage, missing an arm. I looked into his eyes and smiled, but there was no recognition. He turned his head and cocked an ear as the door opened and another soldier sat down beside him.
“There you are, Harry, I thought I’d lost you,” he said and patted the other man on the thigh. It dawned on me at this moment the wounded soldier was also blind. “When we get to London yer sister will be meeting us at the station.”
I turned to Miles who was also watching the two men and then turned to look out the window as the countryside moved past us. It had grown dark and our car was soon in dim light. I closed my eyes and before I knew it, Miles was nudging me on the shoulder.
“Ye started to snore and besides we’re pulling into the station.”
I watched the two soldiers across from us get up and the one called Harry grabbed onto his friend’s arm with his one good arm.
“Makes me grateful I made it back in one piece,” Miles said as we watched them exit the car. He stood and grabbed his kit. I stood as the train came to a stop and we stepped out of the car onto the platform.
All around us at Waterloo Station soldiers were being greeted by loved ones. Everywhere I looked there were tears of joy and sadness streaming down faces as I caught sight of Harry being hugged by his sister. She was sobbing and holding him in a strong embrace. Tears welled up in my eyes as Miles grabbed me around my waist, moving me off into the direction of the exit.
“There’s a pint or two with my name all over it waiting for me, Stephen Reid.” We made our way out to the street and hailed a cab which took us a mile or so from the station, stopping at a small inn with the name Hatfield Arms. The old cabby refused payment of our fare.
“Thanks for coming home safely, lads.”
We thanked him, entered the lobby of the Inn and were escorted by a middle aged woman named, Sally, to our small room.
“Sorry, boys, I only got the one room with a double. All the others is taken. Will this do?”
“It’s perfect, Sally, thank thee for thy kindness.”
“Listen to him, will you. I just love the North Country boys. Now don’t you be bringing any ladies into my inn, you hear. Although, they wouldn’t be no ladies I should expect.” She laughed and kissed Miles on the cheek. “The bath is down the hall. Have a good night, boys. I’ll knock ya up when breakfast is ready.” She closed the door and Miles flopped onto the bed.
“It’s been ages since I slept in a proper bed.”
He looked up at me and smiled that wonderful sad smile as I held his gaze. The spread on the bed was white chenille and the curtains on the window lace. The room was small but efficient.
“Come, lay beside me.” He held out his hand and slapped the bed beside him. I was still holding my suitcase and overcoat. I sat them down on the floor and took off my jacket. Miles sat up and took off his khaki jacket and then stood up before me. He reached out and put the back of his hand on my cheek and ran it down the line of my jaw.
“Thou art amazingly beautiful, Stephen Reid.” His hand reached behind my neck and drew me to his lips; slowly kissing me softly. I caught my breath and held it as his tongue found mine. I stepped back and his eyes opened.
“I’m sorry. Did I offend thee?”
“No, I just. . .I never. . .” I stammered, feeling stupid and awkward. Although I had been with other men before, I had never experienced the intimacy that I now felt with Miles. All my encounters had been furtive and nothing like what was now happening.
“This yer first time then?” he asked.
“No, I . . .” He stepped up to me and grabbed my head with both hands.
“Shall we try this again, then?” He kissed me on the mouth, deliberately and much harder this time. His tongue darted into my mouth and this time I fought back with my own. He began to unbutton my shirt as I struggled with his tie and shirt. Before long we fell onto the bed naked and hard, pressing ourselves against one another and kissing long and deep. Miles rolled on top of me and kissed my ears and my neck and made his way down my chest to my nipple and bit down. I arched my back and cried out softly as his tongue trailed across my chest and found the other. I threw my head back onto the pillow, turning my face to bite the soft linen. Miles had stopped his journey. I looked up and saw him staring down at me. His look was disarming and it took a great effort to hold his gaze. He seemed to look right through me and see deep into my pain and longing.
“Thou art truly beautiful.”
He kissed me on the lips, again, softly and tenderly. His hand found my cock and stroked it with one hand as the other stroked the side of my face. I felt a rushing of blood as Miles lay beside me and took my cock into his mouth. I cried out and held onto him as I grabbed his hand and squeezed. He moaned as my body arched. I lay there exhausted and then reached down and brought his face to mine. I kissed him, tasting the salty sweetness on his mouth and lips.
“Well, that was quick. Been a long time I expect. I think I’ll save myself for later,” he said as I began to stroke him and he gently moved my hand away. “I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer.”
We found a lively little pub within walking distance of the Hatfield Arms. Sally suggested it, telling us to mention her by name. Miles wore his Army uniform and didn’t pay for any of his beers. I kept my head as I could see he was determined to get very drunk. Just after midnight I returned from the toilet, finding him passed out at the bar. Jenny, the friendly barmaid, was trying to roust him from his drunken stupor.
“Hey now, this ain’t no hotel, Luv. Nobody sleeps in my bar. Can you manage him?” She asked me as I walked up. I paid Jenny for my beers. Miles said something unintelligible. I took his arm, placing it over my shoulder.
“What a looker. I’d take him home myself if he wasn’t so useless,” Jenny laughed as she closed the door, locking it behind us.
We stumbled into the street, making our way back to the Hatfield Arms. Miles began to sing. I hushed him as we entered the Hotel.
“You’ll wake Sally and she’ll throw us out.”
“Get the old girl up and I’ll give her a twirl.”
We stumbled up the stairs whispering, making an effort to be quite. Just as we reached the top of the stairs, Sally poked her head out of her room.
“Don’t you be waking the other guests, now.”
Miles placed his finger over his lips. “Shhhhh.”
“Shhh yerself, you drunken lout.” She closed her door as we stumbled into our room.
Miles fell on his back in a heap on the floor, stifling his laugh.
“Shhh yerself, you drunken lout.” He tried to rise and fell back. “Hey Stevie, give us a hand.” He held out his hand and I helped him to stand. He grabbed me around the waist. “And give us a little kiss goodnight.” He leaned into me, planting a wet kiss on my mouth. I gently pushed him back.
“I think we need to get you into bed,” I said as I started to remove his jacket.
“Oh, ye want me naked do thee.”
“No, just in bed and quiet.”
He sat down on the bed, removing his boots and socks. “Don’t ye forget I gotta thrill coming my way. It’s my turn remember.” I began to undress as Miles worked clumsily unbuttoning and removing his shirt and fell back on the bed. I took off my trousers and wearing only my undershirt and drawers, walked over to where he lay. His eyes were closed and his breathing was loud and labored. It was obvious he was not going any further with his undressing so I began to unbutton his trousers, sliding them off his hips and legs. I picked up his legs and laid them on the bed. His odor wafted up as I caught his heady scent of sweat and beer. I glanced down at him as he began to snore gently.
He was so amazingly beautiful. His skin was like alabaster, smooth and white. His hair black as coal. His eyebrows were thick, outlining his eyes with a gentle curve. His lashes long and thick and would be the envy of many women. He had very little hair on his arms and legs. I was tempted to touch him, but grabbed the comforter from the end of the bed, placing it gently over him. I crossed over to the other side of the bed. I pulled the covers back and climbed onto my side of the bed.
The moon had risen, the light filtering into the room through the lace curtains on the window. The light fell across the bed, illuminating Miles’ forehead. I rose up on one arm and stared down at him as he turned his head towards me. His lips parted. I took a deep breath as his beauty overcame me. I leaned over, kissing him on the lips and then turned and rolled over, falling into a deep sleep listening to the gentle sound of his soft snore.
A few hours later I woke to the sound of a soft thud in the room. Miles was not beside me. I rose up and saw him lying on the floor.
“Sorry, I tripped on the way to the loo,” he laughed. “I gotta piss something fierce and I got a raging boner. Almost broke it with the fall.” Miles got up and made his way to the door, opened it and closed it softly behind him. I lay back on the bed and watched the light from the morning sun slowly fill the room. The door opened again and Miles came into the room. He closed the door and leaned back against it. “Much better” he sighed. I could make out a bulge in his drawers and a wet spot where the tip of his cock protruded.
He crossed the room and threw back the comforter and climbed into bed alongside me.
“Are ye awake, Stephen?”
He reached across the bed, putting his hand on my chest. He gently played with my nipples as they hardened.
“Sorry I passed out on ye.” He whispered in my ear as he slid closer to me. “I believe we have some unfinished business.” His hand moved down my body and rested on my swelling cock.
“Ah, I see thou art hard as well.”
His breath was only slightly sour as he kissed me on the mouth. We kissed long and deep. He rose up, removing his undershirt. He bent down and lifted my undershirt off my belly, kissing me just above the top of my drawers. He undid the first button and kissed me again. He undid the next button, kissing my pubic hair as he inhaled deeply through his nose. My swollen cock burst through the opening in my drawers, slapping him on the cheek. He chuckled as he grabbed the shaft and squeezed. A drop of moisture leaked out the end. He pulled up on my cock and my foreskin covered my engorged head as another drop of moisture spilled out. He swallowed deeply. He choked and lifted off my prick as saliva trailed from his lips to the head of my cock. He caught his breath and went down again and again.
I took his head in my hands and gently brought his mouth to mine. I tasted myself on his tongue as I took him by the shoulders and threw him back on the bed. I removed my undershirt, getting out of my drawers as quickly as possible as he removed his own. I fell on his mouth with mine like a man dying of thirst. I kissed him deeply and grabbed his enlarged member with my hand. He lifted his hips, moving gently with the stroking motion of my hand. He moaned as I kissed him. I made my way down his torso to his nipples. They were like large coins and dark like chocolate. They hardened as my lips softly kissed them. I moved down his belly, opening my mouth to take him in. I was not as adept as him, only being able to go so far before I gagged and had to catch my breath.
“Take yer time,” he chuckled.
His cock was much larger than mine, his foreskin covering half the head of his prick when completely hard. The skin of his scrotum and cock were several shades darker than his skin and the hair around his genitals, what little there was, was straight and black. He smelled musty and yeasty like newly baked bread. I was drunk on his odor. I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply and eagerly swallowed as much of his cock as I dared. His breathing quickened as I held his balls in one hand and with the other, slid up and down his cock that was wet with my saliva. I felt the skin of his scrotum tighten. He stifled a groan as I gagged, withdrawing my mouth as he continued to shoot onto his chest and stomach. He brought his hand to the back of my neck, drawing me to his lips
We kissed each other deeply. I rolled over and lay on my back as he took me in his hand and began to stroke. He kissed my neck and shoulders. My body began to tense as his mouth moved to my cock. I felt a wild rushing sensation as I arched my back uncontrollably. Miles held onto me as I unleashed into his mouth.
He fell back on the bed on his back, letting out a great sigh. The room had filled with the morning light, the sun slowly beginning to creep across the bed. As the sunlight fell across his body, the drops on his torso sparkled like jewels. I ran my fingers across his body and he took my hand in his and brought it to his mouth and licked each fingertip.
As I lay there with him I felt a calm peace come over me that I had not felt in years. I closed my eyes, feeling the warmth of the morning sun as it crept across our bodies. He drew me to him, our bodies intertwined, smelling of sweat and sex.
A sharp rap on the door startled us from our reverie.
“Breakfast in twenty, boys,” Sally’s voice announced as we scurried to cover ourselves with sheets and blankets. We lay back on the bed with our hearts pounding.
“She scared the livin’ bejeezus outta me,” Miles laughed and turned to kiss me. “Gotta clean up the mess, lad.” He jumped from the bed, quickly dressed, picked up a towel on a stand and was out the door. I lay there staring at the ceiling, basking in my good fortune. But just as quickly thoughts of what the day might bring when we had to part filled my mind.
A few minutes later the door opened, drawing me away from my thoughts. Miles came into the room, his hair slicked back and wet.
“Had to take a quick whore’s bath. Your turn.”
I got up, scrambled into my clothes and turned as I opened the door.
“I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“Done.” Miles smiled and I left for the bath with my kit. As I walked down the hall barefooted, an elderly couple from the next room was closing their door.
“Good morning,” the woman said and smiled. I searched her face for any trace of forbidden knowledge and found none.
“Good morning,” I replied.
“Sally makes a lovely breakfast, be sure you don’t miss it.” The woman smiled and her husband looked at me with a frown and escorted her away.
I hurriedly shaved, washed up and was soon in the dining room. Miles was across the room chatting with the elderly couple and another soldier. Time seemed to slow down as I watched him speaking, running his hand through his thick hair to push it off his forehead. His charms filled the room. He was like a god among mere mortals and I was amazed that I had held him in my arms. Miles spotted me and his smile drew me over to where he was standing.
“Stephen, have ye met the Caffreys? Louise and Harold.”
“We met briefly in the hallway. Nice to formally meet you.” I shook both their hands. Harold seemed a bit friendlier than our first encounter.
“And this is Barry. He was stationed near Paris.” Barry stood awkwardly and I shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Stephen. Miles was just telling us that you met on the crossing.”
“Yes.” I was getting nervous and thankfully Sally came into the room.
“Breakfast is on the buffet, dears. Please help yerselves.” She placed a final bowl on the buffet and hurried back into the kitchen.
“I’m famished,” Miles said and made way for Louise and Harold.
“Age before beauty,” Louise said as they crossed over to the buffet and Miles followed behind them. I followed him and Barry made his way right behind me. I turned to let him cross in front of me and noticed he was using a cane and was having a hard time walking.
“No, please go ahead of me,” he said. “I’ll be there in a moment. Takes me a while to maneuver these days.”
Sally came back into the room with a pot of tea. “Well, these two had a late night of it. Hope they didn’t wake anyone else but me.” She looked at me and winked.
“Didn’t hear a thing,” Louise said as she sat with her plate at the table.
“Tea, dear?” Sally asked.
“Please. Thank you, Sally.” Louise held out her cup and set it on the table. Sally filled it and moved on to Harold’s cup as a young couple entered the dining room.
“Oh, wonderful. I was afraid we might miss breakfast,” the woman said and tightly holding the young man’s hand made her way to the buffet.
Sally turned and said. “This is Jill and Ronald Hill, everyone. Newly married after Ronald returned safely from the front.”
“Jill Hill. Have to get used to that,” Jill laughed as she helped herself to the buffet.
“Hello, everybody,” Ronald said and smiled a very bright and cheery grin.
“I thought there might be someone on their honeymoon.” Barry said as he juggled his plate and cane.
Miles glanced at me and grinned. “Let me help thee with that, mate.” Miles jumped up from the table and grabbed Barry’s plate and set it on the table. Jill blushed and held her head down as she made her way to her seat.
“What branch of the service were you in, Stephen?” Louise asked. I froze. Here it was. The moment I had been dreading.
“Army,” I replied.
“What division.” Barry asked.
“Intelligence.” I looked at Miles who tilted his head to the side and was staring at me with a quizzical look on his face.
“How exciting,” Jill remarked.
“Not really,” I replied. “Quite boring actually. Tons of paper work.”
“Where were you stationed?” Barry asked.
“Oh, I see, top secret, eh?” Harold had perked up and seemed thrilled with the conversation.
“Well, yes, a little.” I looked to Miles and he still had that perplexed look on his face.
Everyone sat looking at me. I didn’t know what to say.
“How about you, Ron? Where were you during the war?” Louise had jumped to my rescue.
“On an island off the coast of Greece.”
“How lovely.” Louise really was a lady.
“It was until the Krauts invaded and put us all in a camp on the far side of the island. We were POW for about a year.”
Louise looked shocked. “Oh, how dreadful, Ronald, I’m so sorry.”
“That’s why poor Ronnie is so thin,” Jill said. “I shall do my best to fatten him up.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
Louise reached for his hand and patted it. “Thank God you made it home to marry Jill.”
“Damn Krauts, we should have taken care of them like the Americans did the Japs,” Harold barked. “Never let them rise up again!”
“Harold had some very bad experiences with the Germans in the last war.” Louise wiped her mouth and set her napkin back in her lap.
Miles stood up. “It’s been lovely chattin’ with thee, but I’ve got a train to catch if I’m ever to make it home.”
“Yes, thank you all and I wish you all the best.” I had folded my napkin and placed it on the table. “Miles, I’ll settle up with Sally, if you can grab our bags in the room.”
“Where is home for you, Stephen?” Barry asked. There was something about his nature that was beginning to unsettle me.
“Midlands,” I replied.
I gave a little bow with my head as I turned and walked out the door to the lobby. I heard Barry remark to the room after I had left.
“Seems too good for likes of us.”
I made a mental note to not be so nervous when people questioned me.
I met Miles in the lobby after paying Sally for the lodging. Miles came down the stairs with my suitcase and his duffel bag thrown over his soldier. He came over and gave Sally a kiss on the cheek.
“Thanks fer everything, Sally. Yer a peach.”
“Yer quite welcome, I’m sure. Please come back and visit an old woman when yer in London Town again.”
“I’ll be sure to do that.”
“Thank you again, Sally. It has been a pleasure,” I said.
“And you come back too, yer Lordship.” Sally winked at Miles and he laughed.
“I thought he was a Lord fer sure when I first met ‘im.”
I blushed and shook Sally’s hand. Why couldn’t I be more like Miles? I took my suitcase from Miles and walked out the front door with Miles following behind me.
The morning was a bright spring day and there was a slight chill in the air with feathery white clouds on the horizons. It was the kind of day when anything seemed possible. We hailed a cab which took us to the Waterloo Station. We didn’t speak a word on the way there. My mood had changed when I began to consider what might happen next. I paid for the cab and Miles stood on the curb as the cabby drove off.
“How much do I owe ye fer the room?” he asked.
“Ye just paid fer the cab. I have some money you know.”
He stood there staring at me. “Well, I guess this is it, then.”
“Won’t we be on the same train going north?”
“Well then, why not travel together?” The thought of parting with Miles was breaking my heart.
“I suppose we could, but I..”
Miles’ eyes filled up with tears, welling over onto his cheeks. I wanted to hold him in my arms again. He looked so young and vulnerable. I looked around and saw that no one was watching us. I stayed strong, holding on tightly to my suitcase.
“What, Miles? What is it?”
“I..I have no one waiting fer me at home.”
“Come with me then. Come with me and stay with me in my new home.” Tears began to well in my eyes.
A young girl walked by and looked at us; two grown men standing staring at one another with tears in their eyes. She giggled as she walked away.
“I dinna wanna go home. There’s nothin’ there fer me.”
“Then come with me.”
He stood there looking at me, his eyes filled with tears and fear shadowing his face. “Alright. But I’ll earn my board and keep. I dinna want no more of yer charity.” He set his duffel on the ground, wiped away the tears and held out his hand. I shook his hand.
“If you like,” I said. “It’s a deal then.”
We walked into the station and got our tickets. We barely spoke as I considered our new future. What would it be like? How would we define ourselves in our new environment? I was completely reinventing myself, but how would Miles now fit into this new life? I had always thought I would find some young woman, settle into a life of domesticity and boredom, always yearning for what I knew I could not have. But now the possibility of what I could only dream about lay on the horizon. My heart began to soar and leap, but as I looked around the station at the looks on the faces of the people, I considered the other aspect of whom and what Miles and I were and what others would think. I saw the other side of the coin and what would happen if we were discovered. What would they think of what we had done the night before?
I wanted to speak to Miles but I dared not broach the subject. Perhaps he was only thinking he would come and work for me as a handyman or gardener. Perhaps even have a life completely separate from mine. I had inherited a small fortune and would need to sign all the papers soon with my mother’s solicitor to take possession. Perhaps I was being too presumptuous thinking Miles would be a part of all this.
I found a telegraph station and wired to Mrs. Sellers, the housekeeper of Reid Manor, that I had arrived in London and should be there sometime in the evening.
We boarded the train and found our compartment. We were alone for a while and silent. I looked out the window, watching the travelers on the platforms as they ran for their trains.
“What didja do in the war, Stephen?”
I turned and saw Miles staring at me. I sat back.
“Translating.” I closed my eyes and waited for the next question.
“What didja translate?”
“Deciphers and codes.” I opened my eyes and looked back out the window. Miles was silent.
The train began to move. The door opened and a middle-aged man in a suit entered our compartment. He looked at both of us and we nodded. He sat opposite us and stared at Miles. Miles was still looking at me and then turned to the gentleman.
“Miles Sheffington.” He held out his hand. “Good to meet thee.” The man hesitated a moment and then shook his hand.
I held out my hand. “Stephen Reid.”
“Nice to meet you.” He held a briefcase on his lap.
“How far are ya traveling?” Miles asked.
“Just outside of London. Watford.”
The compartment fell silent as the train began to pick up speed. I watched London pass by outside my window. My new country. Undiscovered. I could see signs of the bombings here and there. Clean-up had commenced on a grand scale. I turned to see Miles looking at me and Rupert still staring at Miles. Rupert had one hand on top of his briefcase and the other hand under it. Miles smiled at me and then turned to Rupert.
“So, what is it that you do, Rupert?” Rupert was startled and jumped a little.
“I’m an accountant.”
“No.” Rupert stood up. He held his brief case in front of him. “Pardon me, but I need to..”
“Be my guest,” Miles offered. Rupert opened the compartment door. “Nice to have met thee, Rupert.”
“Uh,” Rupert stammered as he closed the door and was gone.
“Works every time. Unless of course they like to chat. Then yer stuck. He didn’t seem too chatty, though.”
“He certainly seemed taken with you though. Couldn’t keep his eyes of you. You must get that a lot.”
“Reckon he’s a poof?”
“A poof. A queer.”
“The cunt was having it off under his case.”
“Fuckin’ poofs. I hate ‘em.”
I looked at him to see if he was serious. He glared at me and then looked away. He jumped up and lay down on the opposite seat.
“Reckon I’ll catch a few whilst I can. Hard night, last night.” He closed his eyes and I looked at him for a moment. He seemed like a different person all of a sudden. Perhaps I had misjudged him. Maybe I should slow down and reconsider my options. What did I know of him? Nothing, really. All I knew was that he was without family or connections. A fear came over me as I looked back out the window. My heart was telling me one thing and my intuition another.
Outside the day was bright and clear with a few clouds forming what could be a spring shower approaching. My mind was spinning with possibilities. Miles seemed to have nodded off. I wanted to stay awake and watch the countryside, but soon I dozed off. I was awakened by the train pulling into a station. I sat up and saw that Miles was not in the compartment. A fear gripped my insides. I saw that his duffel was still in the upper compartment and my dread lessened only to be replaced by the thoughts I had earlier as I fell asleep.
“We’ve had to bring in extra food and drink because Fraulein Schmidt’s rations just won’t cover the needs of all her customers these days.” Schellenberg was getting out of the backseat of his car. It was still very warm outside. I followed behind him and the driver shut the door. We walked into an alley and Schellenberg opened a door that lead downstairs to another door. He rapped twice on the door and a small opening opened and then closed. The door was unlocked and opened from inside and three soldiers stood at attention as we entered.
“Heil Hitler,” Schellenberg and I returned. “This is Lieutenant Colonel Huber, men; he will be assisting me on Operation Kitty.”
The room was filled with five tables that had recording devices and headphones. Wires protruded from the ceiling in all directions. There were no windows and only the door we had entered. I saw what looked like another room that might have been a bathroom. The air in the basement bordered on cold and was a huge contrast to the outside temperature.
Schellenberg walked over and picked up a set of headphones and put them on his ears. He listened for a moment and a smile broke out on his face. “How do you like it, Lieutenant?”
“Come listen. This is from last night I believe.” He gestured me over with his hand. He took the phones off his ears and put them on my head. A young woman was being very loud in her appreciation to whatever someone was doing to her. She moaned and groaned and let out little shrieks.
“Very entertaining as well as informative at times.” Schellenberg said. The men in the room were still at attention and I could see one of them was in a state of acute arousal. His erection was clearly showing through his pants. Before I could look away, Schellenberg followed my eyes to the soldier and smiled. “One of the benefits and frustrations of the job I’m afraid. At ease, men. Back to your posts.” The soldiers relaxed and took a seat at the tables. The soldier with the erection stood by Schellenberg and me and waited. I could see he was blushing. I took the phones off and handed them back to him. Schellenberg took me by my arm and led me to the door. “Come, I shall introduce you to your new students.”
We walked out of the alley and into the street and turned left. We made our way to the entrance at 11 Giesebrechtstrasse and Schellenberg knocked at the door. Another small opening in the door opened and Schellenberg said, “I come from Rothenberg.” The opening closed and the door opened.
The compartment door slid open and I turned to see Miles entering.
“Had to piss.”
He sat down opposite me. He leaned forward and put his hands on my knees.
“Don’t take it all so serious, Stevie.”
He sat back and looked out the window. The train began to move again and we pulled out of the station. I looked across at him and was once again filled with emotions as I took in his beauty. He turned back, looking at me his eyes filled with tenderness again.
“I think I love thee, Stevie.” I was stunned.
“What happened to your family, Miles?” I asked.
“I tell thee I love thee and ye ask me that?”
“I’m sorry; it’s just that I know nothing about you.”
“Well, I think I’m the one who ought to be asking the questions. But if ya must know, I’m the bastard son of a gamekeeper. My mother died when I was five of influenza and my father left for America before I was born. I was raised by my grandmother until she died, God rest her soul, when I was seventeen and then I was on my own. Been fending fer myself ever since.” He paused. “The war came along at just the right time. I enlisted when I was eighteen. Anything else ya like to know, yer Lordship?”
I felt horrible. “I’m sorry, Miles. I just felt that we should get to know one another. I mean, especially after what we..”
“What? Since we sucked each other’s cocks? It was nothin’, Stevie. Just a drunken..”
“Miles, please. I’m sorry.”
We sat in silence as he looked out the window and I stared at the floor.
“Alright, yer Lordship. Yer turn.”
“Please stop calling me that.”
“How about Mr. High and Mighty then? Is that better?” He seemed angry and hurt.
“I guess the honeymoon’s over.”
“I’m not proud of what I did in the war. I was privy to many things that made me ashamed of myself and my country. I kept telling myself I had to do it. That it was my duty and that it was the right thing to do, but all the while in my heart I knew it was wrong. Very wrong. I hated myself for what I did and who I was. I wanted to start over. To forget the past and I thought with you it might all be possible. I’m sorry, Miles. Perhaps it was just a dream and fantasy that we could.. Please forgive me. If you like we can shake hands and have our memories.” I started to cry. “I had hoped that I could erase the past, start over and be a new person in a new country. Have something I never dreamed possible.” I brought my hands to my face and began to weep. Miles stood and sat beside me. He put his arm around me and drew me to him. Although he was fourteen years my junior, at times he seemed to be the elder.
“Like I said, Stevie, try not to be so serious.”
I had to laugh and looked up and saw a woman standing at the compartment window. Miles turned and smiled at her. She smiled back, nodded in understanding and moved on. Hopefully, she thought it was just a soldier comforting another soldier through his trauma of the war. Which is what it was.
A light rain began to fall and streaked the windows on the outside. Miles was nodding off next to me as I looked at the passing countryside separated with hedgerows and populated with sheep and cows. England was so very different from Germany. But both countries would spend many years rebuilding after the destruction of the war. The differences between Miles and me were becoming more acute also. College educated in Berlin, sandy blond hair with green eyes, I was a direct contrast to Miles’ dark hair, blue eyes and uneducated background. His skin was smooth and white and when he blushed or exerted himself, his cheeks became a rosy red. My skin was tan and pink and I was hairy all over with short blond hairs, while Miles had little to no body hair. Although he had memorized Wordsworth, his working class roots were apparent in his speech and demeanor. Although charming in some situations, he would have a hard time with the upper middle and upper classes of both England and Germany.
The train pulled into the Milford Station in the late afternoon. Everything was wet from the earlier rains as Miles and I made our way to the platform. We inquired at the station about making our way to the manor. We were informed that there was only one cab in town and he had just left the station and should return in about an hour. We found a local pub to get something to eat. Miles was in a dark and brooding mood. His moods seemed as changeable as the weather.
“Is something bothering you, Miles?”
“What’s to become of us?”
“How do you mean?”
“Look at us, a couple of vagabonds.”
I ordered us a shepherd’s pie and two pints. Miles ate in silence as I considered my future with him.
“Try not to take things so seriously, Miles.” He smiled and took a drink of his beer. I continued, “We have a lot of work ahead of us, you know. I believe the manor has not had anyone caring for it in the four years since my mother died.”
“Did you know her?” He asked.
“I never knew she existed until about five months ago. Never knew my father either. He died when I was only four years old. I was raised by my grandparents. They died in the fire bombings.”
“Were they married?”
“No, silly, yer mom and dad.”
“I always thought they were.”
“I’m sorry. Well, it looks like we’re a couple of vagabond bastard orphans.” He wiped his bowl clean with a piece of bread and finished his beer. “We should go look for the cab.”
I paid the barkeep and we walked the few blocks back to the station. The cab was waiting at the curb.
“Are you the blokes what needs a lift?” The cabbie shouted as we approached.
“Yes, Reid Manor. Do you know it?” I asked.
“Sure, out past Windley about thirty minutes.”
We climbed in and soon the Midlands countryside was flashing past the car windows.
“Nobody goes out there much these days,” the driver remarked. “Not since her Ladyship passed away, ‘bout four years ago I think it was. His Lordship died just before the start of the war. Beautiful grounds, but no one’s been tending them properly in years. They tried to keep up with it, but gave up after his Lordship died.”
“Did you know them, Lord and Lady Reid?” I asked.
“No, they had a driver for their car and I usually picked folks up and drove them out to the Manor. Just saw them a few times here and there,” he replied. “Heard plenty though. Are you related?”
“Yes. I’ve inherited the estate.”
“Good Lord, I had no idea they had children.”
“I’m her son from a previous marriage.” I smiled at Miles who was grinning.
“Well, congratulations. You’ve certainly got yer hands full.”
We turned off a country road, passing through a gate with a sign on a brick post that read, “Fair Oaks.” The long gravel driveway took us past fields and forests until we arrived at an imposing three storied building made of limestone with several chimneys and covered in ivy. The entrance had a Gothic arch as did all the windows facing the outside. Large oak trees surrounded the manor on all sides and one particular oak towered over the south wing. As we pulled up to the doorway, a middle-aged woman in a black dress stepped down the entrance stairs towards the car. The driver got out, made his way to my door closest to the house and opened it for me. I stepped out as he got our luggage from the boot.
“Welcome, home, sir,” she said to me and shook my hand.
“Mrs. Sellers?” She nodded, “Thank you. This is Miles Sheffington, the friend of mine I wired you who would be staying with us.”
Mrs. Sellers looked over my shoulder as Miles got out of the cab and put her hand over her mouth.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“It’s uncanny,” she replied.
“Mrs. Sellers, are you alright?”
She stood with her hand over her mouth and her eyes began to tear. Miles was looking around him and had not noticed her reaction or pretended not to at least.
“I’m sorry, but the resemblance..” She wiped her tears quickly with a handkerchief that seemed to appear out of nowhere and straightened her dress.
“I’ll show you to your rooms, dinner will be ready soon if you would like to freshen up.” She looked at Miles who nodded to her and then turned and walked up the stairs to entrance. I paid the cabbie and Miles grabbed our luggage.
“I can carry my case,” I said.
“On no, yer Lordship. Gotta start earning my board and keep sometime.”
“Miles, please. Let me..”
He charged up the stairs passed me and followed Mrs. Sellers into the house. The foyer was stark and devoid of any accessories.
“I’m afraid the house is not what it used to be,” Mrs. Sellers said as she reached the center of the room, turning towards Miles and me. “Many things had to be sold to pay debts her Ladyship had acquired during her illness. She left me in charge of the place and it’s been my privilege to remain here and care for Fair Oaks. It’s just myself and Lettie, the cook now. I’m afraid the place has gone to rack and ruin.” She was staring at Miles the entire time she spoke. She still had not smiled. She turned and walked to the staircase. “Please follow me to your rooms.”
I lay on the bed in my new bedroom looking up at a canopy of moray silk. Dark red velvet curtains hung at each of the four posters. This was my mother’s old room. I was told by Mrs. Sellers she had died in this bed. She had also slept here and most likely made love here. I looked around at the few pieces of furniture that remained in the room. A vanity table and chair, a dresser and a small chair near the large bay window with a window seat and cushions. The windows were divided by small panes and the curtains matched the ones on the four poster. Large rugs with oriental designs covered the hardwood floors.
A knock at the door startled me out of my thoughts. Miles opened the door and poked his head into the room.
“I believe the ladies of the house are waitin’ dinner fer thee.” He came into the room, closing the door he walked over and lay down on the bed next to me. “Very nice.” He rolled onto his side and threw his leg over mine, pressing his knee into my crotch. He held my face with his hands and kissed me on the mouth. “I’ve been wantin’ to do that all day.”
“Really. I thought you were finished with me.”
“Not yet.” He jumped up off the bed and held out his hand. I reached for him and he pulled me up off the bed and into his arms. “We gotta be careful though. This ain’t London.” He kissed me again and walked to the door. “My room’s just down the hall, yer Lordship.” He winked as he opened the door and walked out into the hall. I followed him down the staircase and into the dining room off the foyer. The table was set for two. Mrs. Sellers was just entering the dining room as we sat at either end of the large table.
“I’ll tell Lettie she can start serving.”
“Aren’t you going to join us, Mrs. Sellers?” I asked.
“Lettie and I have already eaten, but thank you, Mr. Reid.”
She walked out of the room and Miles picked up a bottle of red wine that was on the table and poured himself a glass, stood up and walked over to where I was seated.
“Would his Lordship like some wine?” He said with an affected accent.
“Please stop calling me that.”
“I thought you might fancy it as a game we could play,” Miles whispered. “You know, I can be yer stable boy or valet and thee the Lord of the Manor. I’ll let thee take me in the barn, milord.” He winked and poured my wine, setting the bottle on the table, he walked back to his seat with a smirk on his face.
Mrs. Sellers entered the room followed by a pleasant, ruddy cheeked, plump, middle-aged woman.
“Lettie this is Mr. Reid and his friend Mr. Sheffington. This is Lettie, gentlemen. She’s our cook.” Lettie stopped dead in her tracks the minute she saw Miles.
“Oh, Mrs. Sellers, it is indeed amazing, the resemblance.”
“I was telling Lettie how much you resembled our former gamekeeper, Mr. Sheffington.” Mrs. Sellers had a bowl of steaming root vegetables in her hands and she placed it on the table next to me. “I’m afraid it’s not a very elegant meal for your first one in your new home, but I imagine it will fill you up.” Lettie was carrying a large hand painted porcelain tureen that she placed on the table next to Miles.
“Would you like me to serve the rabbit stew, Mr. Sheffington?”
“No thankee, luv, I think I can manage.” Miles took the lid off the tureen and served himself. Lettie placed the lid back on the tureen and brought it to me.
“I can see a resemblance of yer dear mother in yer face, Mr Reid. She was a lovely lady, yer mother. It’s a shame you never knew her. I’ll just get the bread. Baked it fresh today fer yer homecoming. Is there anything thing else Mrs. Sellers?”
“No Lettie, thank you.” Lettie left the room. There was an awkward silence as Miles began eating. “I’ll just see if Lettie needs any help in the kitchen,” Mrs. Sellers said and walked to the door.
“Thank you for your kindness, Mrs. Sellers. I can’t tell you how much it is appreciated,” I said as she turned back into the room.
“You’re quite welcome, Mr. Reid.”
“I’m grateful for yer kind hospitality too, Mrs. Sellers. I shall do my best to get these grounds back to their former glory.” Miles was speaking with a morsel of stew in his mouth.
“Oh, I was not aware you were a gardener, Mr. Sheffington. That would be lovely.” She paused. “So, will you be staying with us for awhile?”
“Mr. Sheffington will be staying for an indefinite amount of time, Mrs. Sellers. I’ve hired him to help out with the manor.” I had helped myself to the stew and replaced the lid on the tureen.
“I’m sure that will be very nice, Mr. Reid. Lovely to have you here, Mr. Sheffington,” she said, turning and walked into the kitchen.
“So, it’s Lord of the Manor and Hired Hand you want to play.” Miles laughed, shoveling the stew into his mouth. “Best rabbit stew I’ve had in long while.”
Lettie entered with the bread and butter and placed it next to me.
Miles again spoke with food in his mouth, “Lettie, dear, I was just telling Mr. Reid that this is the best rabbit stew I think I’ve ever tasted.”
“Thank you very much, Mr. Sheffington. My husband caught it this very morning.”
“Did he now. And here I was hoping thee was single.”
Lettie blushed and her rosy cheeks turned even redder.
“Oh, Mr. Sheffington, I been married thirty years now. I’m an old married lady.”
“And I thought thee was just a wee bit older than myself.”
“Oh, I can see I’m going to have my hands full with you, Mr. Sheffington.”
“Miles, call me Miles, please.”
Lettie started for the door. “Miles it is then, Mr. Sheffington.” She pushed open the door and was gone.
“You’re quite the incorrigible flirt, aren’t you?”
Miles picked up his plate, bowl and glass of wine and came and sat next to me. “Seems silly to be at the far end of the table with no way fer thee to pass me the bread and butter.” He helped himself and was soon dipping it into the stew. “God, fresh baked bread and churned butter. What a treat.”
Twenty scantily clad young women stood in a line before us. Schellenberg walked before them inspecting each one as he passed. They were of various sizes and types and some stood more at attention than the others. They smiled at Schellenberg as he passed them.
“These are your students, Lieutenant-Colonel Huber. You will instruct them in English and codes and deciphers. Mornings are best as the girls do their best work at night; preferably not too early as they need their beauty rest.” He smiled and a few of the girls laughed. Fraulein Kitty stood off to one side smoking a cigarette with a holder. She was still attractive for a woman of fifty-seven years. Her bleached blond hair was pinned up behind her head and her make-up was slightly overdone. She wore a long kimono with a silk slip underneath and slippers, even though it was mid-afternoon. “These are a select group of ladies, Lieutenant-Colonel, and they are engaged in some very important work for the Fuehrer.”
I was sweating again and my upper lip was beaded. Schellenberg picked up a phone and dialed one number. “Turn off number four.” He walked over and grabbed a young brunette by the hand. “Follow me Lieutenant-Colonel; we shall begin the instructions immediately.” I followed them up the stairs as Kitty took a drag off her cigarette and walked out of the room.
“You look very hot in your uniform, Huber. Why don’t you take off your jacket?” The room had red walls and a pink satin bedspread. It looked exactly as I would imagine a room like this would. “Huber, have you ever been with a woman?” I blushed and looked at the whore who was sitting on the bed with her legs crossed. She smiled back at me.
“Of course,” I replied.
“What about men? Have you ever been with a man?” Schellenberg was taking off his jacket and his tie.
“No, of course not,” I lied.
“Then you should have no problem fucking Fraulein Ilsë while I watch.”
I stared at him amazed. “Why are you doing this, Sturmbannfuehrer Schellenberg?”
“I need proof of your dedication to the Fuehrer. Homosexuals are degenerates, Huber. Take off your clothes.”
I stood there sweating, feeling like I might faint at any moment. The room began to spin. My entire adult life I had feared discovery and had done my best to hide any signs of my true self for years. The moment of truth had arrived. I took a deep breath, trying to relax. Ilsë sat on the bed, watching me. I looked at Schellenberg and tried to imagine that it was him I was to make love to. At that moment he repulsed me and yet somehow excited me too. I felt a stirring and began to remove my shirt and tie. Perhaps I could do this. My emotions were spinning around inside me like a whirlwind. I fought to get them under control.
“I’m afraid that’s an order, Huber.” Schellenberg grinned.
Ilsë stood and brought me to the bed. She undid my trousers and let them drop to my ankles. She gently pushed me back on the bed, kneeling down to take off my shoes and socks. As she pulled my trousers off me I closed my eyes, imagining my most erotic encounters with men. I had been with a girl only once in my youth, but it had been disastrous. Unable to finish the act, I ran away humiliated.
Shellenberg had taken his trousers off and sat in the corner playing with himself through his drawers. Ilsë straddled my lap, sitting on my thighs she began to kiss me. She tasted of lipstick and cigarettes. I prayed for something to happen. The knowledge that Schellenberg was watching and was getting excited by the performance on the bed became the catalyst. My intense hatred for the man grew and fueled my thoughts and my sexual force. I wanted to kill him, but first I wanted to rape him. I turned all my focus on Ilsë. I picked her up and threw her on the bed. I was insane with hatred and lust. I tore her panties off and pulled off my drawers. I entered her with a quick thrust that caused her to cry out. I felt possessed. I looked over at Schellenberg with a demonic grin and saw him stroking himself furiously. His drawers were around his ankles. I looked down at Ilsë who was crying out in pain and desire. I imagined Schellenberg under me and feverishly pounded away at Ilsë until I finally unleashed all my hatred and fear into her. Schellenberg drained himself on the carpet with grunts and groans and fell back in the chair.
I pulled out of Ilsë and gathered my clothes, making my way to the bathroom past Schellenberg.
“Excellent performance, Huber.” Schellenberg was leisurely stroking his cock. I said nothing as I walked into the bathroom and closed the door.
Disgust and repulsion for myself and Schellenberg overcame me as a wave of nausea welled up inside me. I went to the sink and held back the wave as my mouth watered and my stomach churned. I gagged and spit into the sink as the feelings dispersed. I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t recognize myself. My face was flushed, sweat dripped off the end of my nose and my chin. My eyes were the eyes of a madman. I grabbed a towel, wet it in the sink and washed my face and then my body.
After dinner, Miles and I found a torch and roamed the house, exploring as much as we could. There were five bedrooms on the second story and two large rooms on the third floor. Upstairs, only my room and the one occupied by Miles had any furniture in them. The ground level had the large foyer, a library, the dining room, the kitchen, servant’s quarters and a large sitting room with French doors that led out onto a stone porch with stairs down to the gardens.
We built a fire in the library fireplace and sat in the only two chairs, finishing off the wine. The library was still stocked with books and there was a large painting of my mother over the mantle.
Before she had gone to bed, Mrs. Sellers had taken us into the library to show us the portrait.
“Isn’t she lovely?” Mrs. Sellers asked.
“Yes, very.” I replied.
“I can see a little of thee in her, Stephen,” Miles said.
“Yes, you definitely have her lovely coloring,” Mrs. Sellers said.
In the painting my mother is outdoors wearing a riding outfit and is standing next to a roan mare. She is wearing a riding hat and her blond hair is pulled back. She is holding gloves and a riding crop in her hands. Her gaze follows you around the room. Her eyes are blue and piercing and she has a lovely half smile that suggests secret knowledge and sadness.
As the fire crackled and warmed the room, I could not keep my eyes off the painting as she stared down at me. Miles got up from his chair and lay down on the rug in front of the hearth. He turned on his side, facing me with his back to the fire.
“She’s lovely, Stevie.”
“I know. I can’t stop staring at her.”
“I noticed. Yer a lucky man.”
“Look at this place. Sure it needs work, but for a while at least thee has a roof over yer head.”
“I wonder if it was hard for her to leave me in Germany?”
“Those kinda thoughts’ll drive thee crazy.” He took a drink from his wine. “Come here.”
I looked down at the beautiful man lying on the carpet in front of me. His eyes registered love and acceptance. Miles had changed into his civilian clothes for the first time since I’d met him. He wore brown corduroy trousers and a dark blue cambric shirt. His hair covered his forehead and he brushed it back with his hand. He patted the carpet as I took the last drink of my wine, setting the glass on the floor next to my chair. I stood and walked over to where he lay. I knelt down next to him as he rolled over onto his back.
The light from the fire illuminated his skin, his blue eyes flickering orange with the firelight. His loveliness took my breath away as I leaned over, kissing him on the mouth. His tongue darted into my mouth and I fought back with mine. We battled for a moment and then I relinquished my advances and lay down next to him on the carpet.
“I don’t think I can make love in this room.”
“Why, because of the portrait?” he asked and I nodded. He put his arms around me, holding me as the fire crackled and spit.
In the morning I woke confused and bewildered, wondering where I was. I was alone in the bed as I slowly remembered moving up the stairs from the library and making love to Miles. It all came back to me as I stretched, naked and hard, remembering the night before.
Miles had been so gentle, so loving. We made love for what seemed like hours with Miles taking his time when he entered me, slowly driving me insane with lust. We fell asleep, naked in one another’s arms. He must have returned to his room sometime before the dawn.
I climbed out of bed, shivering with the cold. I grabbed the spread from the bed, threw it around my shoulders and walked into the bathroom off my new bedroom. The room appeared to have been remodeled sometime in the twenties with a tile floor. There was a separate room for the commode with a pull chain on a tank hanging on the wall. I pissed and flushed. The bath was a large cast iron porcelain claw foot tub under a window that looked out onto the gardens. I walked over and turned on the hot water. It took a lifetime to heat up and eventually the tub was full of steaming hot water.
While the tub filled I clutched the blanket around me and looked out onto the gardens and the porch below. The day was bright and clear and the trees swayed with a gentle breeze. There was a rose garden within a boxwood maze that was overgrown, sadly in need of trimming and pruning. In the center of the maze stood a large raised fountain covered in moss and algae. In the center another fountain rose out of the water and dripped slowly into the pool below. Directly ahead, the garden ended at a tall hedge and I could see the tops of trees from the forest beyond. A large lawn to the left of the garden sloped down, with stone terraces ending at a gate with more hedges and forest. Everywhere there were imposing old oak trees that dotted the edge of the lawn and surrounded the house.
As I stood there waiting for the tub to fill, surveying the estate, Miles walked out onto the porch below and stopped at the top of the stairs down to the garden. He placed his hands on his hips and stood tall, pushing out his chest. He stood there for a moment and then turned, looking back at the house. His gaze eventually made its way to the second floor where he saw me looking out the window at him. He waved and seemed somewhat embarrassed. I waved back at him as he walked back towards the house.
I dropped the blanket that covered me and climbed into the tub, easing myself slowly into the hot water. The heat began to caress every inch of my body as I slowly began to relax, slipping into a calm sense of well-being as my pores opened and I began to sweat. There was a bar of old soap in a brass holder on the edge of the tub. After some effort I worked the bar into a lather and began to wash my body. I used the soap to wash my hair and face and then slipped under the water to rinse myself off. I took a deep breath and stayed under the water for a moment, enjoying the luxury of a bath after so long. As I held my breath, listening to the sound of my heartbeat, I heard the sound of footsteps on the tile floor. I shot up out of the bathwater, catching my breath and opening my eyes, I saw Miles standing above me looking down with a smile.
“Looks like his Ladyship is startin’ the day out right. Mind if I join thee?” He removed his clothes and was soon slipping into the hot water at the opposite end of the tub. “Ahh,” he sighed as his feet slipped past my hips, my feet resting near his crotch. I brought my right foot up to his chest, massaging him with the sole of my foot. He took my foot in his hand and began to suck on my toes. I squirmed in the water.
“It tickles,” I protested. He held my foot as I tried to slip away and was soon licking the bottom of my foot. I relaxed, enjoying the sensations. With my other foot I rubbed his hardening cock until it poked its head out of the surface of the water. Miles took the bar of soap and began cleaning my feet; first one and then the other as I relaxed at the end of the tub. He was forced to sit upright and away from the faucet at his back.
Miles replaced the bar and I picked it up from the holder, “Turn around and let me wash your back,” I said. He threw his legs over the edge of the tub and switched positions, sliding back between my legs. I massaged his neck and shoulders with the soap which I now realized was scented with lavender.
“Stand up,” I commanded. He stood with his backside facing me and I lathered his strong buttocks and the backs of his muscled legs. I moved back up his legs, venturing into his crack. He jumped a little.
“Careful, that’s virgin territory,” he laughed.
I rubbed the soap into his crack and slowly he relaxed, arching his back a little as he let out a small moan. He turned around to face me, his rigid cock in my face.
“Thou art not done yet.” I lathered the soap in my hands, set it back in the holder and soaped up his cock and balls. He closed his eyes, enjoying the moment. I stroked him for awhile and then took water from the tub to rinse off the soap. I grabbed his cock with my right hand and drew him closer to me, taking him into my mouth. As the moment approached he pulled out.
“Not yet,” he whispered breathlessly.
He sat back down between my legs and slid down to the end of the tub, laying down with his head on my stomach to rinse himself off. He sat back up and pressed himself against my hard cock. He moved around as he pressed his backside up against me. I reached around to his chest and massaged him, pinching his nipples.
“Well, let me at least wash your hair then,” I said. He lay back, getting his hair wet between my legs and sat up again. I took the soap, lathering his head with it. His hair was thick and full. When I had finished shampooing his hair and massaging his scalp, I stood up and climbed out of the tub. “You can have the tub to yourself now to relax and rinse the soap out of your hair.” I grabbed a large towel that was folded on a shelf and began to dry myself off as I watched him lie back in the water, rinsing his beautiful black hair. His cock had gone down somewhat, bobbing on the surface as he lay there in the water. I crossed over to the sink to shave. I could see him in the mirror.
“Thou art truly beautiful, Miles Sheffington,” I said as I watched him clean his feet.
“Listen to thee, I’ll have thee talking like a North Country boy soon enough,” he laughed.
The girls were all bright and took to their training with enthusiasm. Ilse and I formed a special bond and she did very well with her English. She told me later that she was sorry for the role that she played when I was forced to make love to her. I apologized if I had been too forceful with her.
“It was the best fuck I’d had in weeks,” she said and laughed. I was still angry with Schellenberg, but a part of me felt proud that I had pulled it off and with such aplomb. Hopefully there would be no more tests. But I was wrong.
I taught the girls in a separate building occupied by the SS away from Kitty’s. I would meet with the girls in small groups around eleven in the morning.
It was a cold November morning when Schellenberg decided to pay us a visit. After sitting and listening to the class on English verbs and adverbs, Schellenberg sent the girls back to Kitty’s.
“We have a special guest this evening, girls. Major-General Dietrich, commander of the Führer’s personal bodyguards is coming this evening. He has requested all twenty of you be present.”
After the girls left the room, Schellenberg stood and walked over to the desk where I was seated. He had taken a special interest in me since the incident with Ilse. He would sometimes stand very close to me when he spoke, never letting his eyes leave mine. Walther had gotten remarried to a very plain woman named, Irene, in October and he never mentioned her.
“Dietrich has asked a few of us to join him this evening for his little party. I thought I might bring you as my guest.”
“That’s very kind of you, sir.” I started to sweat.
“You’ve been doing a good job with the girls, Huber.”
“Thank you, sir.”
He stood staring at me. “You’re a very handsome man, Huber. Almost pretty like a girl.” I said nothing. “Do you have a girlfriend?”
“I wonder why not?”
“I suppose I haven’t found someone special yet. And my work keeps me very busy.”
“I suppose spending all your time with whores, it would be hard to find someone suitable.”
“Yes, sir.” He turned and walked to the door. As he opened it he turned back to me. “Dinner is at eight at Madame Kitty’s, Huber.”
“Thank you, sir.” I stood and reached my arm out. “Heil, Hitler.”
“Heil, Hitler,” he returned and walked out of the room.
“I’ve already had my breakfast with Lettie.” Miles was drying himself off as he walked into the bedroom from the bathroom. I was buttoning my shirt as I stared at his body.
“Then I shall have to eat alone,” I said, reaching for a pullover.
“I learned a lot from the old girl. This place is full of dirty little secrets.” He turned and walked back into the bathroom to dress.
“Well, you shall have to fill me in on all the local gossip. I’ll see you downstairs. I would like to walk the grounds when I finish breakfast. Will you join me?”
“I’d be delighted.”
Lettie prepared a hearty breakfast of eggs, chips, fried ham and her wonderful bread. I was just finishing my tea when Miles walked in from the foyer.
“I think my room was where Lord Reid slept,” he said. “I gathered that they had not slept in the same room in years. He was a cripple. Did you know?”
“I know nothing, Miles. This is all new territory for me too.”
“First World War casualty. Went around in a wheelchair. I think that’s why they had no children. His Lordship was unable to perform.”
“You certainly did learn a lot at breakfast.”
“From what Lettie tells me, there may have been something going on between her Ladyship and the gamekeeper they all says I look like.”
“Let’s get a move on. The day’s lovely and it’s not getting’ any earlier.” Miles walked to the kitchen door. “Shall we start with the kitchen.” I picked up my plate, napkin and silverware and followed him into the kitchen.
“Oh, ya didn’t need to do that, sir. I can manage it.” Lettie said as she wiped flour dust from her hands on her apron and took the plate from me. She placed them in a large copper sink. The kitchen was large with a great wooden table in the center of the room. Lettie was pounding a loaf of bread on the table when we walked in. After placing the plate in the sink she went back to kneading the bread. “How was yer breakfast, Mr. Reid?”
“Wonderful, Lettie, thank you very much.”
“Oh, yer quite welcome. Mr. Sheffington, uh, Miles was telling me all about his time in France during the war, Mr. Reid. You’ll have to tell us all about yer service too. Here in the midlands we don’t travel much and tales of foreign countries is a treat to be sure.”
“Yes, I’d love to sometime, Lettie.” Miles was smiling at me.
“Yes, I still have to hear yer stories too, Stevie.” He walked to the kitchen door and opened it. “But first we have to do a bit of exploring, Lettie.” I followed him to the door.
“Enjoy this lovely day, gentlemen.”
“Thank you, Lettie.”
“Lunch’ll be ready around noon.”
“Thank you. I haven’t seen Mrs. Sellers this morning, Lettie. Do you know where she is?”
“She went into town for groceries and errands, Mr. Reid.”
“Thank you.” Miles was already down the gravel path and I rushed to catch up with him as we walked past a kitchen garden.
“She’s a sweet thing,” I said.
“A dear heart.” Miles said. “Seen a lot here I imagine. Been here since before his Lordship returned from the war. Over twenty years. She died of cancer.”
I fell silent as we turned into the garden maze.
“Needs a bit a pruning.” Miles was looking at the rose bushes. “My grandmother loved roses. Had a lovely garden. Taught me how to prune.”
I was imagining my mother ill in the bed upstairs. We ventured down the lawn to the gate. After a bit of coercing, Miles was able to open the lock. One of the hinges was in need of replacing. We walked through the gate into a forest of fir, pine and oaks. Everywhere signs of spring were displayed as crocuses and wildflowers emerged from the loamy forest soil. A somewhat overgrown path led us through the forest. We crossed a brook with a small bridge made of tree trunks, covered with moss.
“Shall we follow the stream and see where it leads?” Miles bounded off the path like an adolescent puppy and I raced after him. After a while struggling through the thicket, we came to a large pond, watching a turtle sitting on a log jump into the water as we approached. “This’ll be a grand place for a swim come summer,” Miles said. I was breathing heavily, catching my breath as we walked along the edge of the pond and came upon a small boat with flat ends and a large pole. It seemed to be in fair condition. “Hop in, Stevie, I’ll take thee for a punt around the lake.”
“Do you think it’s safe?”
“We’ll find out soon enough. Ye can swim, can't thee?”
“Yes, I can swim.”
I climbed in; sitting at the front of the boat as Miles pushed us off the shore and jumped in. He grabbed the pole and soon had us several yards from the shore. He stood at the end of the boat, pushing the boat forward with the pole. We had reached the center of the pond. “I’m afraid it’s too deep for the pole,” he said and laid the pole down in the boat and sat down opposite me.
“What do we do now?” I asked.
“Just float for a while and see if we end up nearer the shore I reckon.” Miles put his hands behind his head and lay back at the end of the boat soaking in the sunlight. I sat nervously watching the shore and the movement of the boat. Overhead a hawk soared and cried out.
“So, tell me what it was like being in the Germany Army.”
I froze and looked at him. His eyes were closed and he put his boots up on the edge of the punt.
“Well, I never saw any combat. I was stuck behind a desk most of the war.”
We drifted for a time with only the sound of the birds and the soft lapping of the water on the sides of the boat. Miles sat up and looked directly at me. His eyes narrowed. “Should I hate thee, Stevie?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Should I hate thee for all the lives you might have killed at yer desk?”
“Of course not. I didn’t have that kind of power.”
He sat staring at me for a moment and then picked up the pole and stood at the back of the punt. We had drifted closer to the shore and he was able to push off the bottom of the pond again.
“Miles, I told you I’m ashamed for certain things I did. But no one died as a result..” We had reached the shore and Miles pulled the punt onto the bank.
“How do you know, Stephen? Can ye be certain?” I climbed to the end of the punt and jumped onto the beach.
“It was war, Miles. You do what you’re told.”
“Dreadful business isn’t it.” He looked at me as a smile slowly came to his face.
“How many Germans did you kill, Miles? Should I hate you?”
His smile left his face and then a sadness crept into his eyes.
“Like I said, dreadful business.” He turned and we hiked back to the path following the stream.
We walked in silence for awhile and soon came upon a clearing with a small hut. A chair was on the porch and the door was slightly ajar. Miles pushed it open with some effort and we entered. The room looked like it had not been inhabited for years. Spider webs and mouse droppings were everywhere. A small bed with a dusty quilt stood in one corner and there was a table with old dirty plates and broken china under the single window. A chair was on its back on the floor. Miles picked it up and set it right.
“I wonder who lived here?” I asked.
“Mighta been the gamekeeper they keep goin’ on about.”
“There’s no kitchen or bathroom.”
“Maybe he just used it during the day and lived somewheres else. Maybe this is where her Ladyship and him fucked?”
I found myself somewhat offended by his crassness. “She was my mother, Miles.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean no disrespect. I mean, ya never even knew her, right?”
“But I feel like I’m getting to know her and I would appreciate..” Miles reached out and put his hand behind my neck.
“Please fergive me, Stevie.” He drew me to him and kissed me, putting his arms around me. “We could fix this little place up and make it ours.” I put my head on his shoulder and felt a rush of emotions as we held each other.
So much had happened in the past few days and all of a sudden it seemed to catch up with me. I started to cry and Miles held me closer.
“Oh, Stevie, I’m truly sorry. I didn’t know.”
“It’s not that, Miles. I.. feel a bit overwhelmed by everything.”
“Yeah, it’s a lot to take in I suppose.”
“Never thought I’d end up in little hut in the Midlands holding a sweet man in my arms.” He took my face in his hands again and kissed me tenderly on the mouth and then on my eyes. His lips came back to my mouth and I tasted my salty tears.
Outside we heard the sound of leaves and twigs snapping. We both started and separated. Miles looked at me and then walked to the door quietly trying not to make the floor boards make a sound. He looked through the door and then motioned me over with his hand. I crossed quietly and saw a doe with two fawns feeding on the new grass in front of the hut. The mother deer looked up, saw us and bolted into the forest with her fawns following quickly behind. Miles put his arm around my shoulder.
“It certainly is a lovely place you got here, Stevie.”
“I joined the Party because I was impressed by the social prestige that came with it and the glamour of a smart uniform.” Schellenberg was drinking a glass of red wine. “What attracted you, Huber?”
I looked around the table at the officers in their uniforms, the bodyguards and SS men in their plainclothes. We had just finished a dessert of Bavarian chocolate cake. There were six of us seated at the table with Dietrich at one end and Schellenberg and myself at the other.
“The prestige was certainly attractive, but I think it was a sense of belonging to something that aspired to a higher good.” I said.
“How noble. And do you still feel that way?” I never knew where the conversation was going with Schellenberg; if I should answer truthfully or give him an answer he might want to hear.
“I’m not sure. Things have certainly progressed since the first days of the Party. Sometimes I wonder at the direction we seem to be going.” I took a drink of my wine and thought about the direction of the evening and where it might end. Dietrich sat at the end of the table and seemed to be drinking heavily. His voice was getting louder and louder.
“I thought the invasion of Britain a bit premature.” Schellenberg said.
“Yes, it seemed that way to me too.”
“I sometimes feel that working in intelligence is like being Sisyphus.” He had lowered his voice. “Pushing the rock up the hill only to have it roll back to the bottom. Especially with the Military.” He looked around the room.
The women had entered and were sitting on the laps of some of the men. Fraulein Schmidt entered the room wearing an evening dress.
“Gentlemen, whenever you are ready we can retire this soiree to the boudoir.”
The men stood and Dietrich led the way out the door.
Schellenberg stood and addressed Fraulein Schmidt. “I’m afraid I will have to pass, Kitty. My wife would not approve. Lieutenant Colonel Huber, may I have a word with you?”
I held back as the party walked up the stairs. Kitty looked at Schellenberg and smiled. She left the room, closing the door behind her.
“This should be an interesting party to listen to, Huber. Please join me downstairs.”
We entered the basement, the cold air hitting me in the face. The men stood at attention as we walked into the room.
“At ease, men. Please feel free to have a cigarette and take a break. I will call you back when I need you.” Schellenberg walked to a table and sat down, putting on a pair of ear phones. The men left the room. “Please sit, Huber and have a listen.” I crossed and sat down next to Schellenberg and picked up a pair of phones. At least I was not expected to participate in the activities upstairs. But I still wondered what Walther had in mind.
The party had gotten under way and there was a lot of noise in the room. I couldn’t make out whose voices I was hearing. The women’s voices were quiet as I’m sure they realized that they were being listened to and the men where all shouting. We listened for a while and then Schellenberg took out a cigarette and lit it. He sat looking at me and I tried not to look back at him. I could feel his eyes on me. When I looked over he was stroking himself through his trousers. I looked away and felt a dread come over me. Upstairs Dietrich was fucking one of the whores and the other men were shouting their approval. I wanted out of the room and away from this place. I felt a deep disgust wash over me as I looked over at Walther who had taken out his hard cock and was stroking it. I turned away as he put out his cigarette.
“Stefan, go ahead, look at it. You know you want to.”
“I would like permission to leave, sir.” I stood, taking off the head phones. “I’m not feeling well. Perhaps it was something I ate at dinner.”
“Not until you suck my cock, Huber.”
“Please, sir,” I pleaded.
“Get down on your knees and suck my cock, Huber.”
“You heard me, Huber.” He paused. “I’m afraid that’s an order.”
I stood looking at him. I hated the man beyond all comprehension.
“Please, sir, wouldn’t you rather I get one of the girls from upstairs?”
“They’re all with Dietrich, Huber.”
I looked around the room searching for anything I might use as a weapon. I wanted to kill him. My hatred of the man was the most intense feeling I had ever felt.
“Do it, Stefan. Now!” He shouted and spread his legs.
I felt like I might cry at any moment and fought back the emotions. I stepped towards him with resolve and dropped to my knees. I looked at his cock and clasped it with my right hand. He reached out, grabbing me behind my head and pulled me towards him. I opened my mouth as he pushed my head down. I gagged and tried to pull away. He held fast to the back of my neck and pushed me down again. I choked and my mouth began to water. I thought I might vomit at any moment. He grabbed my hair, pulling me off his cock and looked down at me. My eyes were watering and filled with hatred. Tears were running down my face as he looked at me. I struggled to catch my breath. I was drooling all over him.
“Such pretty lips, Stefan. Lovely lips; like a girl. Is your ass just as sweet?” he said pushing me back down on his cock. I choked and sputtered, pulling away with all my strength and spit on the floor. He stood up and grabbed me by the shoulders, pulling me up. “Undo your belt.”
“Sir, I beg of you. Please don’t do this. I..”
“Shut up, Huber, and do as I say.” He turned me around and reached around my waist, undoing my belt and the button on my trousers.
“I said shut up!” He pulled down my pants and my drawers, ripping the buttons as they flew to the floor. He pushed me forward onto the table. He still wore the ear phones and I could hear the sounds from the party above us coming out of the phones next to me on the table.
I cried out as he entered me. It felt as if my insides were ripped open. He thrust himself into me over and over again as the blood from my ass began to lubricate the action the pain lessened somewhat. I left my body as he fucked me harder and harder. I could hear him groaning and moaning as the sounds from the earphones increased in volume increasing his lust. I lost track of time and felt numb in my body and my spirit.
Schellenberg was buttoning up his pants as I lay there, my cheek pressed against the cold table top.
“Not a word of this, Huber.”
“No, sir.” My voice was distant and I didn’t recognize it. Something wet and cold was dripping down my legs. The coldness of the room began to chill my body. I stood up, pulled up my drawers and trousers and buttoned myself. I walked to the door as if in a trance, still not in my body.
“Not a word, Huber.”
The night air chilled my already chilled body. I shivered as I walked up to the soldiers on the street. When I approached they stopped speaking. They watched me, smoking their cigarettes as I walked past them in silence.
When we returned from our time in the forest Miles went off to the work shed and I went into the kitchen. Mrs. Sellers was working alongside Lettie, helping her prepare lunch.
“Did you enjoy your walk, sir?” Mrs. Sellers asked.
“It was lovely. We found a small hut on the other side of the brook.”
“That would be the gamekeeper’s hut,” Lettie said. “He used to raise chickens out there. Had a time of it keeping the foxes out of the hen house.”
“What was his name?” I asked.
“Mellon. John Mellon.” Mrs. Sellers looked away from us and wiped her hands on a towel. “Please excuse me; I need to put some supplies away. When you have a moment, Mr. Reid, I’d like to discuss something with you.”
“Enjoy your lunch,” she said and quickly left the room.
“She don’t like talking about him. Caused a bit of a ruckus around here, he did.” Lettie was stirring something in a large pot. “Now go wash up before lunch and leave me to my cooking.”
After lunch I went looking for Mrs. Sellers and found her in the garden writing a letter at the garden table. She stood up as I approached.
“Please don’t get up,” I said.
“I was just writing a letter to Mrs. Reid’s solicitor, telling him you had arrived.” She sat and I joined her in another chair.
“I shall be going to London on Monday next to sign the appropriate papers. What day is this? I’ve lost track of time, I’m afraid.”
“It’s Friday, sir.”
“There’s no need for formalities, Mrs. Sellers. Please. I think we’re all aware of my status. Please feel free to call me Stephen.”
“I shall try, Mr. Reid.”
I smiled and since she did not offer her first name, I decided to drop it for now. “You mentioned my mother selling off items to pay for her illness. Is there no money left in the estate?”
“Her Ladyship was very adamant about making sure that your inheritance not be used to pay for the medical bills. She sold things off to not have to touch it. I believe it is intact.”
“Did she speak of me?”
“I never knew anything until the end just before she died. She made the arrangements with her solicitor long before I knew about you. Just before she died she told me of her time in Germany before the first war and that her son had been found in Dresden.”
“The letter reached my grandparents before the bombings and they sent it off. It got lost for several years.” I paused, watching her closely. “How have you managed all these years?” I asked.
“Mr. Cromwell, the solicitor, sends me money from the estate for minimal upkeep and supplies and a bit of a legacy for myself and Lettie. Mrs. Reid was very generous in her will. Lettie and I have been well cared for. If you’d like to see the records, I’ve kept..”
“That won’t be necessary, Mrs. Sellers. She must of have been a kind woman.”
“She had a lot of sadness, but yes, she was kind and thoughtful to the very end. She had a lot of pain,” she stopped and paused for a moment. “The doctor helped her to cope with it.” She looked away.
I followed her eyes across the garden. Miles was coming through an arbor with a pair of pruning shears and a blanket.
“They’re rusty, but they should do the trick.” He called out. He reached the roses and began hacking away.
“He’s seems like a likable young man, Mr Sheffington,” Mrs. Sellers gathered her papers as she spoke.
“You mentioned you had something you wanted to speak to me about, Mrs. Sellers.”
“Ah, yes. It has to do with the finances and if you’re satisfied with me continuing to take care of the housekeeping needs. There is no need for Lettie and myself to remain here at Fair Oaks if you would like to make other arrangements, Mr. Reid.”
“Oh God, Mrs. Sellers, please. I would be lost without you. Please know that you and Lettie have a home for as long as you need it.”
“That’s very kind of you, Mr. Reid.”
“No, please continue the fine work you’re doing here.”
“Thank you, Mr. Reid. I will inform Lettie of your kindness. Have a pleasant afternoon.”
“Thank you.” She stood with her papers in her hands and reached out to shake my hand.
“Very kind of you, indeed,” she said and walked back into the house.
I watched Miles as he pruned and threw the trimmings into a pile in the pathway. The afternoon sun had risen and the air had become warm and still. Miles looked from his work and saw me watching him, wiping the sweat from his brow. He set the shears down and began to unbutton his shirt. Pulling the shirttails out of his waistband, he removed the shirt and threw it on the nearest hedge. He looked up and smiled with a look of recognition that he knew I was enjoying his little performance. I felt my cock stirring in my pants as he picked up the shears, pruning away at the roses.
The muscles in his arms and back rippled as he worked and soon a bright sheen of sweat reflected the sunlight off his upper body. I was completely hard by this time and put my hands over my lap to conceal my erection. Miles worked steadily for about fifteen more minutes and then picked up his shirt, wiping the sweat from his face and neck. I imagined plunging my face into his shirt, damp from his sweat and smelling of his body’s odors. I breathed the afternoon air through my nostrils hoping to catch his scent on the slight breeze that had come up, exhaling with a sigh. He looked up and smiled. Holding his shirt in his hand and letting it drop by his side, he walked over to where I sat.
“Do ya like what ye see? It’s all yours, ya know. Body and soul.” I looked up into his beautiful blue eyes and took a deep breath. Our eyes held their gaze and then he dropped his look to my lap. “Are ya hiding yer boner, Stevie?” he laughed and threw his head back. “God, but yer a horny devil.”
I laughed embarrassingly. I could feel the blush rise into my cheeks.
“Yer blushing, Stevie.”
He turned and walked back to the roses, putting his shirt back on. He reached down, gathering the clippings into the blanket he had laid out on the ground. Picking the bundle up, he threw it over his shoulder. He carried it to the side of the house nearest the kitchen, turned the corner and was out of my sight.
I immediately began to miss him.
Does one choose to fall in love? Or does love choose us? How had this happened so quickly? My mind was reeling with unanswerable questions. I had never felt such love and affection for another human. I was smitten beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It pierced my heart and filled me with a longing and a joy simultaneously. How could we maintain what we had? How could it last? Would we be discovered and would that discovery end it all?
I sighed deeply and walked back into the house sadly and in spite of how I felt with my head held high.
That night Miles slipped into my room around midnight. I had just turned out the lights when the door opened and I saw the silhouette of his naked body squeeze through the opening in the door, closing it quietly. In a moment he silently lifted the bed covers and slid into the sheets. I felt the warmth of his body as he inched himself closer to mine. He reached out, touching my shoulder slowly, caressing my torso as his hand made its way to my erect cock. He brought his lips to my neck, licking behind my ear as his mouth made its way to my ear lobe, his tongue exploring the inside of my ear. My mouth opened as I gasped for air. My breath increased as he stroked me, biting my lobe, kissing his way to my open and eager mouth. I felt light headed and faint as his tongue explored the inside of my mouth and I sucked his tongue.
“I want thee to fuck me, Stevie,” he gasped and turned on his side, his backside facing towards me. I turned and spooned him, my cock pressing up against his willing ass. I embraced him, kissing the back of his neck, smelling his wonderful aroma. He spit on his hand, lubricating his anus and then grabbed my aching cock, guiding me to the desired destination. His back arched as I penetrated him, catching his breath, a high gasping sound escaping from the back of his throat. I sighed as I slowly thrust deeper, nestling my face into his neck and hair.
“Oh, God, Stevie! Don’t stop.”
I rolled him over onto his front and climbed onto his back. Moving only my hips, I plunged into the warmth of his body over and over again.
We lay exhausted as the fire died in the fireplace, the warm glow of the light in the room slowly dying as the moonlight fell through the windows, illuminating the room with a soft blue radiance.
The next morning I couldn’t find Miles anywhere.
“Morning, Lettie, have you seen Miles?” I asked as I popped my head into the kitchen.
“He was up early and out of here with tools in a bag. Yer breakfast will be ready in moment, sir.”
“Thank you, Lettie. I think I’d like to take it on the porch, if you don’t mind.”
“No problem at all, Mr. Reid. It’s a lovely day, it is.”
A copy of the London Times was sitting on the credenza in the dining room as I walked by, so I picked it up and walked out onto the porch.
The world was slowly recovering from the horrors of the war. The Americans had occupied Japan and Europe was being divided by the Allies, like so many pieces of a pie. Germany had been divided with Berlin being split in half also. But the big news that day was that Schellenberg had been tried in Nuremberg and sentenced to six years in prison; three of which he had already served. The sentence was handed down on April 13, 1949; three days ago. I breathed a sigh of relief. Schellenberg had testified against other Nazis in Nuremberg and had gotten off lightly, sitting in prison until the Ministries Trials two years later. Of the twelve defendants sentenced to death by hanging, two were not hanged: Hermann Göring committed suicide the night before the execution and Martin Bormann was not present when convicted. The remaining ten defendants sentenced to death were hanged. The death sentences were carried out October 16, 1946 by hanging using the standard drop method instead of long drop. The U.S. army denied claims that the drop length was too short which caused the condemned to die slowly from strangulation instead of quickly from a broken neck.
Lettie brought my breakfast and I enjoyed the morning alone longing for Miles.
All day long I searched for him around the property. He was nowhere to be found. I ate dinner alone that evening and the next morning he still had not appeared. I began to worry, but had to make plans to leave for London the next day. I was hoping to take Miles with me on the trip to keep me company.
After breakfast I decided to go to the forest to see if I could find him. The wildflowers, moss and ferns were in abundance along the forest path we had hiked before. I decided to follow the creek we had tracked to the small lake. As I approached I heard a splash in the water. I ran the rest of the way to the water’s edge, catching a glimpse of Miles as he swam out to the middle of the pond.
“Miles!” I yelled.
He stroked the water with efficiency and grace. He could not hear me so I sat on a rock, watching him from a distance. He turned and made his way back to the shore after a while, reaching the small beach in no time. He stood when he could stand, the water waist deep. As he walked toward the water’s edge I could see that he was naked and at the same moment he saw me and smiled.
“Ye found me.”
“Where have you been for two days?”
“It’s a secret.”
He splashed the water and washed his underarms and crotch.
“Smelled something awful, so I decided to take a swim to clean up.” He shook his thick black hair, rubbing his skin downwards trying to remove as much water as possible as he walked out of the water.
I was in heaven as I watched him dress. I walked over and kissed him deeply on the mouth.
“Thou art truly beautiful.” I said.
“Come with me, Stevie. I’ve something wonderful to show thee.” He dressed quickly.
We walked back along the creek path holding hands and turned on the main path away from the manor.
“What is it?”
We approached the gamekeeper’s cabin and I could see that he had done a lot of work cleaning up the yard and the porch. As we walked up the steps I could see that they had been repaired as well as missing boards on the porch.
“Close yer eyes.” He commanded.
I closed my eyes and heard the door open as Miles led me through the threshold.
“Alright, ye can open them.”
I opened my eyes and beheld the room. He had cleaned it from floor to ceiling, rearranged the furniture, lifting the bed off the floor and had made it with the now clean quilt. There were wildflowers in a yellow pitcher on the table and a fire in the stove with a tea kettle brewing on top.
“My God, Miles. Look what you’ve done.”
“Can I get thee a cup a tea, milord?”
“Tea would be lovely.”
He set about making the tea in a small china teapot while I sat at the table watching him.
“You’re a regular hausfrau.” I remarked.
“I’ve no milk or sugar, so ye’ll have to take it straight, I’m afraid.”
“That will be fine.”
He poured the tea in two cracked cups and sat down in the other chair. I blew on my tea and looked across my cup at him.
“How’s the bed?” I asked smiling.
“I’ve slept in it for two nights now and I think t’will hold us both.” He winked.
He set his cup down on the table, stood and took my cup from me. Straddling my legs, he set my cup on the table. Taking my face in his hands, he kissed me full on the lips. I put my hands on his hips, kissing him back.
“Would ye like to try the bed out?” He whispered in my ear.
I stood, picking him up and gently laying him on the bed as I lay on top of him, slowly grinding my erection into his loins. He returned the action with his growing member as we continued kissing, our tongues battling for supremacy.
We undressed each other slowly, reveling in the privacy and one another’s bodies. Miles smelled of pond water and earth. His armpits gave off a lovely aroma of dirt, sweat and rising bread. I inhaled deeply and licked the area next to the black hair under his arms. I straddled his torso with my ass towards his face, taking his cock in my mouth. Miles grabbed my hips and pulled my ass towards him, spitting on my eager hole. I sighed deeply, arching my back as he licked my asshole. We continued thus; me sucking his cock and licking his balls as his tongue explored my willing gap. After a while I sat up, straddled his throbbing cock and eased myself onto it slowly while facing him. I rode him, bouncing on his hips trying not to put too much stress on the newly raised bed. The bed boards creaked as I moved my hips back and forth taking him deeper and deeper into my insides. The feeling was wonderful as my hard cock bounced against his belly. Miles opened his eyes and our eyes locked in an embrace. He spit on his hand, taking hold of my cock, stroking me in time with my hip’s motion. I was inflamed as I increased the speed, rocking back and forth, taking him even deeper, my mouth open as I uttered cries from the depths of my throat.
I was mad with lust and desire. I had never felt anything so incredible. I gasped as I shot my sperm across his belly and chest. In the next moment Miles lifted his hips, plunging deeply into my bowels as he unleashed his juices into me. The muscles of my ass clenched his cock as he cried out.
I fell onto his wet torso, our lips locked in a passionate kiss. I turned my head and rested it on his shoulder, catching my breath as his cock slipped out of me.
“I’ve never felt anything…”
We held each other, our chests heaving from the exertions as our breathing slowly became normal. I slipped off his sweat and cum drenched body and threw my leg across his hips, holding him closely.
We drifted into a light slumber as the morning sun danced across our bodies.
In the afternoon we made our way back to the pond, playing like children in the water. We lay in the new grass near the water’s edge drying ourselves in the afternoon sun.
“I have to go into London tomorrow and I was hoping you’d join me.”
Miles was silent for a moment. “How long?”
“I thought we might get a room and make a night of it. Let me take you to dinner.”
“I suppose it can be arranged. Let me check my schedule.”
As the war progressed, the clientele of Salon Kitty decreased. In July 1942 a bomb demolished the building the brothel was in and Salon Kitty had to move to the ground floor of the building at 11 Giesebrechtstrasse. Within the year Schellenburg abandoned the project and handed the brothel back to Fraulein Schmidt with the threat that she keep silent or face retaliation. The twenty girls stayed with her.
During the war, many German and foreign dignitaries frequented Madame Kitty’s Salon. Goebbels apparently enjoyed the 'lesbian displays' that were otherwise considered anti-social acts by the regime. Reinhard Heydrich, the creator of the brothel, also made a number of "inspection tours" although the microphones were turned off on those occasions.
What happened to Fraulein Schmidt or the women after the war I was never sure. I sat out the last year of the war behind a desk in Berlin deciphering codes and messages until the defeat of the Third Reich.
On May, 2 of 1945, Berlin surrendered after the suicides of Hitler, his mistress, Eva Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels and the murder by their parents of the six Goebbels children. I left Berlin and traveled to Dresden where I sorted through the rubble of my grandparent’s home, looking for any mementos of my life there. The city center was largely destroyed by the Allied fire bombings and without food or shelter I made my way back to Berlin where I set about reinventing myself. Three years later the letter from my mother’s solicitor eventually found me and I began making plans for my exodus to Great Britain.
Miles was unusually quiet on the train ride into London. We sat across from each other and I caught his eye once in awhile and made him smile.
We arrived at Waterloo Station and made our way to the solicitor’s office where I found out that I had inherited a small fortune that would see me through to the end of my life. I was a landed gentleman.
“Can you fucking believe it, Miles?” I shouted once we were outside and on the street. I threw my hat into the air. “Let’s find a place to stay and then I’m going to buy us both new suits.”
We found a hotel in Piccadilly and took a cab to New Bond Street where we were both fitted for new suits, shirts and evening wear at Beale and Inman. We rented evening clothes for dinner that night and then walked to Asprey Jewelers where I purchased new cuff links, tie pins and studs. I bought a new watch for Miles and myself and then hailed a cab to Bates the Hatter on Jermyn Street where we tried on new hats, coming away with new caps, hats and top hats. A simple call to my solicitor established a line of credit at all these haberdashers and establishments. The hats we took with us and had the accessories from Asprey’s, the shirts and other items were delivered to our hotel room. The new suits would be sent on to Fair Oaks. Each clerk treated us like royalty once I had established myself with them through my solicitor.
By the time we had arrived at our hotel room, our rented evening wear was laid out and ready for us on the bed; the jackets and slacks hanging on a wooden valet.
We showered together and then prepared to help each other into our tuxedos.
“I’ve never worn anything so fancy, milord. Yer gonna have to help me into mine first so I can get thee into yers.” Miles was standing over the bed bare chested in his drawers looking down at our shirts, socks and ties. At that moment there was a rap at the door and I went to open it in my robe. The delivery boy from Aspreys was standing in the hall with the packages from the jewelers.
“I’ve a delivery for a Mr. Stephen Reid, Esquire,” he said in a cockney accent.
“Just set them on the bed, please,” I said.
He walked in and set the packages on the bed and looked at Miles, who smiled at him.
“Good evening, Gov’ner,” the delivery boy said as he smiled back at Miles. “Looks like you gentleman is having a night of it.”
“That we are, my lad. That we are,” Miles returned in his best formal British.
I chuckled as I rummaged about in my pants for a tip and found some change, handing it to the boy. He smiled at me.
“Well, you gents have a nice evening then. Much appreciated, sir.”
“You’re welcome,” I replied and closed the door behind him. I walked over to the bed and began opening the packages, laying them out on the bed.
“I’ve only worn evening clothes a few times myself and can understand why some people have dressers for times like these.” I took one of the shirts and handed it to Miles. “Here put this on.”
Once he had the shirt on, I picked up the studs and began putting them through the holes in the front of the shirt. I helped Miles with his cuff links and he finished buttoning the studs and then I tied his bow tie; or at least I tried to tie his tie. It took several attempts before I got it right. I had purchased garters which I showed Miles how to maneuver once he had his stockings on. He looked so beautiful standing there; I didn’t want him to put his pants on. I had grown hard dressing him and when I pulled off my robe Miles laughed.
“Whatcha got there, Gov’ner? Looks like yer ready to have a night of it.” He walked over to me and stroked me while he kissed me on the lips. “Maybe I could fuck thee, milord before we make a night of it. Just like this. Me in me garters and you simply starkers.” He turned me around roughly, pushing me onto the bed.
I tried to protest, but he had his cock out and was lubing my hole and the head of his prick with his saliva. He leaned over and spit on my ass and then licked the hole, pushing his tongue in the opening. I arched my back and presented my ass for him. He licked me for a few more moments and then he penetrated my ass. He unbuttoned his drawers and they dropped around his ankles as he thrust himself into me, ramming it into me energetically. I was soon matching his thrusts with movements of my own, backing up onto his hard penis as I stroked my cock to a bursting climax. Miles pulled out his cock and shot his semen all over my back.
We cleaned up and finished dressing just as the doorman from the hotel knocked at our door, announcing our car was ready for us downstairs.
“Don’t we look a couple of dandies,” Miles whispered as we crossed the lobby of the hotel. I noticed several women and men turn their head as they caught a glimpse of Miles. He was dazzlingly beautiful. I don’t think I had ever seen a more handsome man.
“Thou art truly beautiful,” I whispered in his ear as we settled into the back of our cab.
We ate dinner at a small French restaurant the cabbie recommended. The dinner was delicious and Miles handled himself magnificently.
“You look like you’ve done this before,” I remarked as he placed his napkin in his lap.
“Yeah, I been out a few times.”
There was a small bar next to the restaurant and I suggested a nightcap before we returned to the hotel. The atmosphere was dark, the air filled with smoke. Neither of us smoked and after a brandy I suggested we leave because the smoke was hurting my eyes. As we got up to leave a very drunk man bumped into Miles.
“Excuse me, sir,” the man slurred. “Didn’t mean no.. Well, my God, look at you, Miley. You’re a proper gentleman, I’m sure.”
Miles looked uncomfortable and bewildered.
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” he asked.
“It’s Georgie, Georgie Ferguson. You don’t recognize your old pal, Georgie?”
Miles started moving towards the door.
“What, you got too high and mighty for your old friend, Georgie? Looks like your tricks been good to you and now you can’t give me the time of day.”
Georgie’s friends tried to quiet him but he brushed them off and followed Miles out the door.
“Hey, Miley, give us kiss, luv.”
Miles turned and hit the man in the face. “Shut the fuck up!” Miles pushed past the man and crossed the street.
“Fuck you, Miles! Don’t want anyone to know your little secret?” Georgie put his hand to his nose and it came away with blood on it. “I’m bleeding you fucking wanker.”
I rushed across the street to catch up with Miles.
“Miles please wait for me.” He showed no signs of slowing down.
“I never should have come to London.” He turned a corner and was out of sight.
“Miles!” I rounded the corner and saw him running.
“Go home, Stevie. Leave me alone.” He kept running and was soon out of my sight when he turned another corner. I stood on the sidewalk, stunned, attempting to make sense of what had just occurred.
I walked back to the hotel in a state of shock. As I passed through the lobby the clerk at the desk acknowledged me. I nodded and made my way to the lift, eventually making my way to the room. I stood in the middle of room, staring at the bed. The boxes and tissue from the packages were still scattered across the foot of the bed. My robe was on the floor where I had dropped it just before we made love. I took off my clothes, placing the cuff links and studs back in their respective boxes. I hung my jacket and pants on the valet and cleaned the room before climbing into the bed.
I lay there staring at the ceiling, Georgie’s words running through my mind over and over. I certainly was in no place to judge Miles, feeling for him and the shame that must be consuming him. The tears ran down my face as I turned and cried into the pillow. I cried for Miles and I cried for my own shame.
I awoke a few hours later to someone rapping quietly on the door. My head was clouded and it took me a few moments to gather my thoughts. I got out of the bed, putting on my robe and walked to the door. I unlocked the door, opening it slowly. Miles stood there in the hall, his tie gone and his shirt open and bloodied. His eye was swollen and discolored. Dried blood caked around his nose and upper lip which was split.
“Miles! What happened?”
He stumbled into the room, obviously drunk.
“Got in a fight.”
I closed the door and sat him in a chair. I rushed into the bathroom and wet a towel, returned to the room and cleaned his face carefully.
“I used to be a rent boy, Stevie. Fucked men fer money.”
“Miles, whatever happened in the past-”
“I’m a dirty poofter, Stevie. Can ye love a dirty whore?”
“I can love you no matter what, Miles.”
I helped him out of his clothes and shortly we were in the bed. I held him in my arms.
“We both have things that we’re not proud of, Miles.”
“Yer too good fer me, Stevie.” He cried softly and soon was fast asleep. I kissed his forehead, his cheek, his eye, resting his head on my shoulder.
We spoke very little as we made our way back to Fair Oaks the next day. I had driven us to the station in Milford in the old Bentley from the manor. Finally, in the car on our way back to the manor, Miles opened up.
“It was just before I enlisted. About a year after we declared war on Germany. I moved to London after me Gran died and couldn’t find a job. I met a man in a pub who took me home and gave me money to suck my cock. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was making money selling myself. It lasted about a year. I couldn’t stand myself no longer; so I enlisted. Towards the end of it I was making a pretty penny letting guys take me to dinner and have their way with me. I was passed around like a party favor and it made me sick. I figured death in France was better than what I was doing.”
I spent the rest of the drive telling Miles of my life in the SS.
“Did you ever meet Hitler?” He asked.
“I never met him, but was in the same room with him and other people. Very ordinary man. Obviously there was something about him that drew others to him, but I never understood what it was.”
We arrived at Fair Oaks, pulling up to the front of the manor. Miles and I unloaded our luggage and packages in the entry. Mrs. Sellars met us as we were climbing the stairs.
“I hope your trip to London was uneventful and productive, Mr. Reid.”
“Yes, Mrs. Sellars. Thank you.” Miles kept walking up the stairs keeping his face turned away from the housekeeper.
“Let me know if there is anything I can do.”
“Certainly, Mrs. Sellars. Thank you.”
Miles stayed in his room for the next few days. I brought his meals to him. We talked very little.
“Can I take the car into the village?” he asked on about our fourth day after our return.
“I suppose.” I replied.
“I’d like to pick up a few supplies to finish fixing up the hut.”
“Is there anything else you need?”
“No, just a few pounds is all.”
“I want to start paying you for your time around here and keep track of your expenses. Mrs. Sellers will reimburse you.” Something had been nagging at me since we got back from London. “May I ask you something?”
“When you saw me on the boat when we were making the crossing, why did you come over to talk to me?”
Miles stood there staring at me. His eye was still discolored, but the swelling had gone down. His lip was slowly healing, but it would leave a scar. He turned away from me and looked out the window.
“There was sadness in your eyes,” he said. “And I thought you were handsome.”
I walked up behind him as he stood at the window and put my arms around him, resting my head on his shoulder.
“I saw the same thing in you.”
The next day Miles left for Milford before I came downstairs. He was gone all day and had not returned by the time I went to bed that night. In the morning I went to the garage and the car was there but there was no sign of Miles. I began to worry. Miles had become very important to me and I had to admit that I loved him. I loved him more than anyone or anything. I walked out to the hut and saw that he had slept there. I called out for him but to no avail. Slowly I walked back to the manor, walking past the pond on my way.
“Oh, there ya are, Mr. Reid,” Lettie cried out as I walked into the kitchen. “I was beginning to worry that there was no one here to eat my breakfast.”
“Have you seen, Miles, Lettie?”
“Not since you came back from London, sir. And even then I never actually saw him, you know. Is he alright? Mrs. Sellers said he looked like he may have gotten into a scrape.”
“I believe he's alright, Lettie. He took the car into Milford yesterday and I haven’t seen him since he got back.”
“Did you check down at the old gamekeeper hut? He’s been spending a lot a time down there. Fixing it up and all. He wants to start raising chickens again he told me. He’s such a sweetheart, that Miles. It’ll be nice to have fresh eggs again, that’s fer sure. So good looking too.”
“Yes, I did check the hut.”
“Do you or he hunt, Mr. Reid? Fresh game would be nice too. The master’s old guns are around here somewhere. I could ask Mrs. Sellers to look for ‘em if you like to go a hunting.”
“Maybe I’ll do that, Lettie. I used to hunt with my grandfather in Germany.”
“Germany?” Lettie looked up from the stew she was stirring. “When were you in Germany, Mr. Reid?”
I decided to come clean, telling Lettie how I had been born in Germany while my mother was visiting there.
“Oh, Mr. Reid. How sad for you and for Mrs. Reid. All this time I thought you had been living here in England. Mrs. Sellers told me you were from Mrs. Reid’s first marriage.”
“I was from her first marriage, although my parents were never married.”
The back door to the kitchen opened and Miles walked in carrying a brace of a dead rabbit and pheasant.
“Poachers shared a little of their wealth with me this morning.”
“Well, I was just telling Mr. Reid how nice it would be if you and he started hunting and look who shows up with tomorrow’s dinner. The devil himself.” Lettie took the carcasses from Miles. “Although plucking and skinning takes a whole heck of a lot longer than a trip to the butcher. Breakfast on the porch or the dining room, lads?”
“The porch would be nice,” I said.
“Let me go clean up,” Miles said as he made his way to the dining room and upstairs.
“Where were you this morning? I went looking for you at the hut,” I asked as we ate our breakfast.
“Got in late last night. I don’t have a key, so I slept in the hut. Heard some gunfire early this morning, so I investigated. Poachers have been having their way with the property fer years now. You have to decide if you want to allow them to keep at it or share their kill with the manor.”
“Well, we need to get you keys as soon as possible. I’ll have Mrs. Sellers tend to it. What do you think? Lettie says there’re rifles around here somewhere. Can you keep up with it? I’m not too keen on hunting myself.”
“I say we let them have at it and drop off a brace or two to Lettie every now and then.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Miles was finishing up his breakfast by wiping his plate with his toast. “I’m having some chicks delivered this morning. I better go see to it.”
“That’s wonderful Miles. Lettie will be glad to hear it. She’ll be happy for the fresh eggs.”
Miles wiped his mouth and stood up, dropping his napkin on his plate. “You’ll excuse me.”
“Let me know when the chicks get here. I’d love to see them.”
“That I will.”
He walked back into the house. There was something distant about him again. Whenever he felt in the least bit vulnerable, he would withdraw. I was beginning to see a pattern.
When the chicks arrived I ran into the kitchen.
“Lettie, come see. Miles has some new baby chicks.”
Lettie wiped her hands and followed me out to the front of the manor where Miles was finishing up with the delivery man. He picked up a wooden box with a chicken wire lid and carried it over to the front porch and set it down. There were about twenty chicks chirping away in the box.
“Would you look at the little darlings. Have you raised chickens before, Miles?” Lettie asked.
“Sure, all my life. My Gran and me had them all the time. Would you mind if I keep them in the kitchen, Lettie, just until they get a little bigger? They need to keep warm without their mum.”
“Sure. I think I have a lamp that John used to use somewheres.”
“Who’s John?” Miles asked.
“John, the old gamekeeper. He used to raise chickens out at the hut too. Surely I told you all about him.”
“Right, I just never heard his name. Do you know whatever became of him?”
“Went back up north I heard and then made his way to America. A local gal got a letter from him once. Boston I think it was.”
The chicks grew into chickens and every other day or so there was fresh meat on the table and soon we had fresh eggs daily. Life at Fair Oaks fell into a routine. Miles was happy tending his chickens and growing vegetables. He would sometimes stay out at the hut for days, eventually making his way back to the manor to bathe and gather supplies. He took the car into Milford about once a week; spent the night, returning to the manor the next day hung over from a night of drinking. He would often return with cuts and bruises from brawling. He seemed determined to destroy his beauty and I felt powerless.
Spring turned to summer. The oaks filled with leaves, the roses bloomed and I busied my days with acquiring furniture for the manor. With Mrs. Sellers help, using what little decorating skills I had, I began to bring the manor back to its former glory. One room at a time.
One morning a few weeks before midsummer, I awoke and realized I had not held Miles in over a fortnight. I hungered for his touch, his kiss, his scent. With the warm weather he spent more and more time at the hut. His once alabaster white torso was turning a beautiful golden tan. My body on the other hand, was in grave need of exercise and less of Lettie’s wonderful cooking. As I lay in the bed my cock grew hard thinking about Miles. I began to stroke myself but stopped hoping to finish with Miles.
As I drew a bath that morning, I looked out on the grounds of the manor and realized it was in desperate need of attention. The roses were covered with rose hips, the water in the pond was filled with algae and leaves and the boxwood was in dire need of trimming.
I bathed and had my breakfast in the kitchen with Lettie.
“I’m afraid he’s been drinking a lot, sir.” Lettie was cutting vegetables while I drank my tea. “My Charlie says he sees him at the pub in Milford with some tart. Bit of a scrapper too, he says.” Since the affair in London, Miles had pulled further and further away. It seems I had lost him and I determined I would have to bring him back.
I thanked Lettie for the breakfast and made my way to the hut. Before leaving the manor, I checked to see if the Bentley was parked in garage. The garage was empty. Fearfully I passed through the gate into the forest. The verdant soil and moss made little sound as I made my way to the hut through the lush vegetation. Foxglove and ferns covered the forest floor and there were brambles blooming everywhere. The path was overgrown in areas. The scent of the soil and flowers was overpowering. Crows called out to one another almost as if in warning as I made my way. The chickens made a fuss as I passed the coop. It all made me feel unwanted or as if I was trespassing. Fearing what I might find, I approached the hut cautiously, listening for any sounds that may be emanating from there. Hearing nothing I walked carefully up the creaking stairs to the porch and rapped softly on the door. There was no answer, but as I opened the door I heard Miles groan.
“Miles?” He lay on his back and was still in his clothes. I walked to the edge of bed and shook him. He moaned and rolled on his side. The room reeked of alcohol. “Miles.”
“Miles, please you can’t go on like this.”
“Leave us alone.” He said belligerently. It was obvious he was very drunk.
“Miles, did you drive like this?”
“Took a cab. Car’s in town. Now shaddup and leave us alone.” He pulled a pillow over his head.
I stood there contemplating my options, finally deciding to take him back to Fair Oaks and put him to bed. There was a pitcher of water sitting on the table. I picked it up, grabbed the pillow from him and threw the water on his face.
“Get up. I will not sit idly by while you destroy your life. You’re coming back to the manor with me.”
“Leave me alone, goddamnit!” He sputtered.
“No!” I grabbed his arm, pulling him off the bed. He swung with his other arm, missing my face by an inch. He rolled onto the floor.
“Miles, I can’t stand to see you doing this to yourself.”
He grabbed hold of the side of the bed, attempting to stand. He swayed for a moment and then sat on the bed holding his head in his hands.
“You need to congratulate me, Stevie. I was just doing a bit of celebrating last night.” He was still bent over staring at the floor as water dripped from his head.
“Celebrating? Celebrating what?”
He looked up at me with his bloodshot eyes. “I’m gonna be a father, Stevie. She’s up the duff. In the pudding club.”
“What are you talking about? Who’s pregnant?”
“My Rose is, Stevie. My beautiful English Rose is” He looked at me and smiled drunkenly.
My head began to spin as I stood there stunned. I turned and ran out the door, not stopping until I reached the manor.
“Mrs. Sellers, I’m afraid Miles will be leaving the manor. Can you arrange for someone to take over his chores here at the manor? And while you’re at it, I think we need to hire someone to help you out with the housekeeping. Not that you’re not doing an excellent job, I just think that it might be a bit overwhelming for you. Maybe a couple would be suitable. There are spare quarters are there not?” I said catching my breath. She nodded. Mrs. Sellers was standing in the entry as I made my way from the back porch. She held a feather duster in her hands.
“If that’s what you would like, Mr. Reid. I can see to it immediately.” She took off the apron she was wearing. “I noticed the car is not in the garage. Do you know where it might be?”
“Mr. Sheffington left it in town. Please make arrangements to have it brought back. He’s out at the hut. You might check with him as to its exact whereabouts. I must warn you though, he’s very drunk and ..” I couldn’t continue and turned away, walking up the stairs very slowly.
“Yes, Mrs. Sellers?” I replied, keeping my back to her so she could not see the hot tears coursing down my face.
“I’m very sorry, Mr. Reid.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Sellers. So am I.”
I spent the next few days busying myself with furniture arrivals and decorating. I tried not to think of Miles and his horrible situation. Every time a thought of him entered my mind, it felt like a knife stabbing my insides. How do you describe a pain so deep that it feels like it threatens your very existence. I would brush it aside and refocus on the task at hand. Mrs. Sellers began interviewing for a handyman and housekeeper, eventually settling upon a couple from the village. They took up residence in one of the maid's quarters and Mrs. Sellars moved into Miles' old bedroom.
Mrs. Sellers offered to clean out his belongings and clothes, but I said I would rather do it myself. I brought an old trunk from the attic, filling it with his clothes. As I pulled his few shirts from the closet, I held them up to my face, inhaling the intoxicating aroma of his odor. It made my knees weak as I fell on my knees and sobbed; for the first time allowing myself to grieve the great loss of his love and his place in my life. I placed the tear soaked shirts in the trunk and began emptying his bureau of his underwear and stockings. In the top drawer I found the cuff links and accessories we had purchased in London. Next to his bow tie was a dried rose that I had purchased for him as a boutonniere the night we went out. I placed them all into a drawer in the trunk. A quiet resolve fell over me and a sadness I had never known. Finishing up, I placed his dinner jacket and pants in a bag, carefully laying them in the trunk. The sound of the clasp and locks on the trunk echoed in the room and down the hall.
That summer invitations began to pour in from my neighbors inviting me to summer fetes, no doubt desiring to parade their most eligible daughters before the male stock of the county. I accepted a few and graciously declined others. Life at Fair Oaks moved on and as the trees filled with the summer breezes they constantly reminded me of the life I was missing.
I resolved to travel abroad, booking passage on a ship bound for the Mediterranean. The first stop was in Spain near Gibraltar where I climbed as high as I could under the watchful eye of the Barbary Apes or Macaques. From my vantage point I could see the Mediterranean, the Atlantic. the Pillars of Hercules and the north shore of Africa. It was a spectacular view and I imagined those first Phoenician sailors setting sail into the unknown waters of the Atlantic, fearing for encounters with sea monsters and possibly falling off the edge of the earth. That was how my life felt. Alone again, I must sail into uncharted waters and find a new life without Miles or fall off the face of the earth. Tears fell down my cheeks and the hot dry wind dried them almost immediately.
The next day our boat left for Barcelona. We docked in the afternoon two days later and because I had fallen ill was unable to go ashore until the following day. Seasickness or something I ate kept me in the head most of the evening. When I did go ashore, I found the city enchanting. This was my first foray in southern climes and I was enjoying the warmth and hospitality of the gracious inhabitants of Catalonia. There seemed to be many men standing in the streets holding my gaze and smiling as I walked through the warm sun drenched streets and alleyways. I was not ready for any casual encounters and was still feeling the aftereffects of the previous night. I would smile back and nod as I made my way back to the ship.
I met many people on the boat, most of them seemed anxious for me to meet their niece or daughter or granddaughter back in England. I remained charmingly aloof as I nodded and agreed that it would of course be wonderful to meet them once we returned home. It appeared I was one of the few singles on board apart from widows and spinsters. Inside I began to reconsider my old option of settling into a loveless marriage with a woman. Or perhaps I could fall in love again.
The boat took us to the French Riviera and the Cinque Terra on the Italian Riviera. I had acquired a golden bronze tan and my hair had bleached many shades lighter from swimming in the sea and lying about on board the ship. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I began to see myself as others might, my vanity filling me with a pleasant sensation.
Throughout the voyage, one young steward kept catching my eye. I would pass him in the halls or at dinner. He always smiled brightly and would address me. I dressed each night for dinner in my formal dinner wear, each time remembering the night Miles and dressed for dinner. One night after dinner while we were docked in the Bay of Naples, I ventured out onto the deck of the ship to look at the lights of the city reflected on the bay. I had had a few glasses of champagne with dinner and was nursing a scotch and water while I drank in the view, smelling the aromas and hearing the sounds of the cafes that lined the waterfront as they crossed the water to our boat.
“You seem a bit sad, sir.” A gentle voice behind me remarked. I turned to see the young steward standing behind me with another drink on a tray. “I took the liberty of getting you another. I hope you don't mind.”
“Not at all.” I finished my drink, setting the empty glass on the tray and took the fresh one.
“Please don't think me too forward or cheeky, sir, but I couldn't help noticing how you keep to yourself and seemed a bit sad.”
“Someone else once thought that about me and we were standing on the deck of a ship then too. I guess I've come full circle.”
We both stood looking at the city and the lights.
“Beautiful city, Naples, but watch yourself and mind your pocket.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, they prey on tourists.”
I turned back to him and I stared into his eyes which were a brilliant blue. He had long blond eyelashes and strawberry blond hair. A fresh cheeked young man with a soft slightly effeminate quality about him. I had an overwhelming desire to kiss him on his full lips. I took a sip of my drink instead.
“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, silence the pianos and with muffled drum bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”
“Did someone die, sir.”
“Oh please, let us dispense with the formalities. No one died, but someone is dead to me and you are alive and standing here before me.” I was just drunk enough. I took my free hand and held the back of his neck as I brought him forward and kissed him softly on the lips.
His lips were soft and he had a light down on his upper lip.
“What's your name?”
“No more sirs.”
“Hard habit to break.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Well, Jeremy, thou art truly beautiful.”
“Thank you and I think you're quite nice too.”
“Thank you, Jeremy. I feel quite nice right now.”
“I have a few days off when we dock in Greece. If you like I could show you around. It's my favorite place in the Mediterranean and I always arrange my days off when we're there.”
“That would be lovely and I'm sure it will soon be my favorite too. My name is Stephen, by the way, Stephen Reid.”
While still holding the tray with the empty glass he held out his right hand, “Nice to meet you.” I took his hand in mine.
“I think we've passed this sort of formality.” He shook my hand and then leaned forward and kissed me on the mouth. His tongue darting out between his lips searching for mine.
“See you in a few days, Stephen Reid.” He turned and walked back into the interior of ship.
Every day I would look for him and some days I found him, always trying to convince him to meet me in my cabin after hours. There was an innocence and worldliness about him that I found intoxicating. He was adamant about not sleeping with me until we got to Greece. The ship had very stringent rules about fraternizing with the passengers and he was not about to jeopardize his job for me. I would just have to wait until we got to Mykonos.
Finally the day arrived when we pulled into the beautiful harbour on a lovely September morning. The air was hot and dry and smelled of the beautiful Aegean. Passengers scrambled to get off the boat and down the ramp to the wharf. One elderly couple was insistent that I meet them for drinks and dinner that night. I had to graciously untangle myself, lying to them telling them I was meeting old friends who were staying on the island. Jeremy had given me strict instructions where to meet him. There was ancient marble pillar on the stone wharf just on the other side of the harbour. He would be waiting for me.
When I arrived he was holding two bicycles.
“Come on. We haven't got all day,” he said as he rode off towards the town.
He took me to the windmills that look out over the sea, eventually ending up on the other side of the island where we hired a boat to take us to a secluded beach. The owner of the boat, frowned at us as we jumped off the boat into the waves and waded to shore.
“How will we get back?” I yelled as Jeremy ran up the beach and started taking off his clothes.
“We have two days and it's not that far to walk.”
He was naked by the time I got to him and he ran passed me to the water, diving into the clear blue water of the Aegean. I noticed that his ass was quite tan, so I surmised that this was not the first time his derriere had seen the sun. I removed my clothes as quickly as possible and followed him into the water. It was warm and soothing. Caressing every part of my body.
“Who was it that broke your heart?” We were lying on our stomachs on the small pebbles that formed the beach. “Was it a man or a woman?”
“A man. And a woman.”
“That sounds interesting.”
“He left me for a woman. A woman he got pregnant.”
“So, you loved him a lot, this bloke?”
He reached over and put his arm around my shoulder and brought his lips to mine. “Let me help you forget him.”
Jeremy was very experienced for all his supposed innocence. In the ways of love, he was an expert. He fucked me hard on the beach, my back grinding into the tiny rocks. He had an amazing stamina and I had to hold him back at times from hurting me. We found a smooth rock and he rode my cock while his erect penis bounced up and down , grinding himself onto my hard prick. He stroked himself as I cried out, coming profusely in his ass. Immediately he shot his seed onto the beach below.
We ran into the surf and cleaned ourselves, kissing and fondling one another. There was a childlike carefree abandon that we had together that I had never experienced with Miles. He truly helped me forget for a time.
“There's a taverna on the beach just on the other side of this point. I don't know about you, but I'm famished.”
“I'm starving,” I said. “Fucking you has made me hungrier than a horse.”
“Yeah, well fucking you has made me so hungry I could eat the horse and chase the rider.”
We ran down the beach laughing until we reached the Taverna. We ordered fresh deep fried calamari and moussaka, washing it down with retsina, which tasting awful until it was paired with the oily moussaka. We finished off with several glasses of ouzo. We inquired as to the nearest hotel and the owners, a middle-aged man and woman, said they had a small room over their house that they rented out. Their English was horrible and it took us several minutes before we finally figured out what they were offering. We settled on a cheap price for the night and paid them along with our bill for dinner. We were both quite drunk by this time, but we purchased another bottle of ouzo, heading down to the water's edge. The waves were larger than earlier and were breaking very close to the shore and in very quick succession. We sat on the shore saying nothing as we passed the bottle back and forth, listening to the sound of the surf.
“Fuck me, Stephen, but I've had a damn good time today. You are an amazing fuck, I might say.” He spoke with comic formality, mimicking Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy. I tried to copy him.
“Jeremy, you are quite a good fuck yourself, I might add and you have an amazing ass.”
“I love yer dick, Mr Reid. It's quite lovely when it's fully erect, you know.”
“As is yours, Jeremy.”
“Thank you very much, Mr. Reid. Fancy another skinny dip and go around?” he asked as he passed the bottle back to me.
“I'd love to Jeremy.”
I took another swig and stood. weaving back and forth as I removed my clothes. We both stripped naked and ran into the water, hitting the waves that knocked us both down. They were unrelenting and we found it impossible to stand on our feet as we laughed hysterically. Every time we tried to stand another wave would hit us, knocking us onto the small pebbles on the beach. Finally we rolled onto the shore sobbing with laughter.
“Well, that wasn't a very good idea, was it?” Jeremy cried out as he rolled onto his back on the shore away from the water. I was laughing uncontrollably, finally catching my breath.
“Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into, Jeremy.”
As a full moon shone like a spotlight on us, illuminating everything, we rolled on the beach laughing until we finally ended up in each others arms. Jeremy fucked me with the waves caressing our feet. I was beyond being able to keep an erection and finally after what felt like an eternity of fucking, he came inside me. He rolled off of me, both of us gasping for air.
“Where do you get it?”
“Young and horny I suppose.”
We made our back to the taverna, climbing the stairs to our room. We were quiet as church mice and I couldn't help but be reminded of my time with Miles. It seemed I would be haunted til the end of my days.
In the morning we slept until just before noon and had breakfast at the taverna. We thanked our hosts for their hospitality, making our way back to the village, passing small farms with donkeys and goats in the barren fields. Eventually we found our bikes, riding through the narrow streets on our way back to the ship.
Jeremy was cordial, but formal for the remainder of the voyage. I surmised this was not his first shipboard romance and I was just another notch on his belt.
We arrived in England and the staff of the boat was lined up as we passed by to walk down the gangway. I slipped several pounds and a slip of paper with my name, address and phone number into his palm as we shook hands.
“Thank you for making it a lovely voyage and if you're ever in the Midlands, please feel free to call.”
He blushed and the young steward standing next to him chuckled.
“Thank you, sir.”
I was picked up at the Milford station in the old Bentley, by Mr. Phillips, the new caretaker at the manor. My luggage and the few items I had purchased on the journey filled the boot and the backseat of the car, so I was forced to sit up front with Phillips.
“You certainly look like the journey agreed with you, sir.”
“Thank you, Phillips, I had a lovely time.”
“Sir, I gotta warn ya, that bloke what used to live at the Manor. Miles.”
“What about him?”
“Well, sir, he keeps coming round asking for you. Lettie seems to have a way with him, cause sometimes he ain't quite sober and can get a bit belligerent. I was tempted to throw him out on his arse a few times. Pardon my French, sir.”
“What does he want, Phillips?”
“I think he wants you to hire him back.”
We rode the rest of the way back to Fair Oaks with Phillips filling me in on what he had been doing around the Manor and a few tidbits of local gossip.
“I saw him one night at the tavern.”
“Mr. Sheffington. Drunk as a skunk he was. Always getting into fights and making a ruckus. I don't think anyone'll hire him. That bad he is.”
Lettie, Mrs, Sellers and Mrs. Phillips were waiting for us at the front of the Manor when we arrived. Lettie hugged me.
“What a lovely colour you got, Mr. Reid. The sun certainly loves your complexion and hair. I'm that jealous I am.”
I shook hands with Mrs. Sellers and Mrs. Phillips as her husband removed my things from the car. I told him to place certain things in the hall, as I had purchased souvenirs for the women.
“He's here again, Mr. Reid.” Lettie said as we entered the foyer.
“Not as drunk as he usually is. I don't think married life agrees with him at all, sir. He's looking worse and worse for the wear every time I see him.”
“Phillips told me he's been coming around regularly.”
“Almost every day since you left. Wants a job as your gamekeeper. No one'll hire him in town. His reputation's that bad.”
“Where is he now?”
“In the kitchen.”
I steeled myself for the encounter and walked into the kitchen. Miles was seated at the work table in the center of the room with his head in his arms. He looked up and smiled when he saw me. He had aged considerably in the four months since I had last seen him.
“Yer Lordship, yer looking mighty fine.”
“I wish I could say the same about you.”
“Oh, sorry, been a little under the weather lately.”
“Yeah, the little misses runs me ragged with all her demands. Four more months til the little bugger arrives. Not sure if I'll last that long.”
He seemed tired and there was a sad morose quality about him. It broke my heart. There were dark circles under his eyes and they seemed deeper set than usual. His face was scarred from cuts and I noticed a tooth was chipped when he smiled.
“What can I do for you, Miles?”
“No use beatin' around the bush, eh Stevie. You were always one for getting right to the point.” There was an awkward silence. Miles stood slowly and walked towards me.
“Aren't ya gonna give yer old pal a hug and a kiss first, Stevie?”
“Tell me what you want, Miles”
“I think about you all the time, Stevie. Miss the good times. Miss our times out at the hut. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind hiring me on to be yer gamekeeper? Poachers been having their way on the property since I left and I could regulate it again, like I did in the old days. Oh, did I tell ya, Stevie? Moran, the old gamekeeper was indeed my dad. Still alive somewhere in the States. One of the gals in town keeps in touch with him and I had her write him a letter and ask him if he ever fucked a gal named Beth from the North Country. Had her ask him real casual so he wouldn't get afraid she was looking for him or nothing. Turns out he's me dear old pa. What a coincidence, huh Stevie? That kinda makes us brothers since he also fucked yer Ma.”
I made a rush for him, but he was faster than I had anticipated and I ended up in a hold. He had me in a head lock and was breathing in my ear, his face next to mine.
“Let me go, Miles.”
“So you do want to give us a hug and a kiss after all, Stevie.”
He turned me slightly and kissed me hard on the mouth. I struggled at first, eventually relaxing and giving into his advances. His tongue forced its way into my mouth. He held me tightly and I was having difficulty breathing; not only from the hold, but because my love and lust for the man surfaced and I grew hard. He relaxed his hold, moving me so that I faced him more, pressing his erect cock against mine. I was lost. I kissed him back deeply, moaning, grinding myself into him, wanting to dissolve into his being. Wanting to absorb his being into mine.
“God, I missed thee, Stevie. Fergive me, Stevie. Please” He kissed my cheeks, my neck, my eyes which were wet with tears and then my mouth again. My hands had made their way to his face and I held his head, kissing him back. I wasn't worried about us being discovered. I figured that Lettie would leave us until she was sure we had finished speaking to one another, but something inside me wanted to pull away; finding my strength I pulled back. We were both breathing heavily.
“Miles, you're married.” I whispered loudly.
“We haven't really taken care of that yet.”
“But you have a child coming.”
“She's a bitch, Stevie. A real bollocks breaker. Her Mum just kicked us out cause of all the rows. Her friend's letting us room with her right now, but it's hell, Stevie. I can't get a job, I drink too much. What little money we have ..” He started crying. I held him to me, resting his head on my shoulder.
“We'll figure something out, Miles.”
Miles and his fiance, Rose, got a room in the village with my recommendation and an advance on the money I would be paying him to oversee the property, keeping the poachers at bay. Occasionally we made arrangements to meet at the hut, falling passionately into each others arms.
“What am I to do, Stevie?”
Miles was lying on his back staring at the ceiling beams, both of us naked on the makeshift bed as I lay beside him staring at his profile. Miles had just fucked me and we both glistened with sweat. I put my hand on his chest, letting it wander down his torso. Mile's cock was still semi-erect, a drop of cum oozing from the head. I reached down, scooping it up with my forefinger and brought it to his lips, kissing him and licking his lips.
“Why can't we can continue like this?”
“I think she hates me and the bigger she gets, the nastier she gets and I tell thee, Stevie, I'm beginning to hate the sight of her. I can't bring a child into a life like that. It's not fair to the little tyke.”
“When is the baby due?” I was beginning to feel a chill and pulled the quilt over us.
“That gives us three months to sort things out.”
A fortnight later I came downstairs one morning to hear arguing in the kitchen. As I approached the kitchen door in the dining room, I heard a shrill young woman's voice above Mrs. Sellers and Lettie.
“I know he's here! Probably upstairs in bed with the Master of Reid Manor.”
“Keep your voice down, young lady or I will have yer arse on the porch, baby or no!” Lettie whispered loudly as I pushed open the door.
“Sorry, Mr. Reid,” Mrs. Sellers said as I entered the kitchen. “Miss Evans was just leaving.”
“The hell I was! Pleased to meet you, Mr. Reid. Rose Evans, Miles Sheffington's betrothed. I'm sure you've heard all about me. I certainly have gotten an earful about you from me Miles. Never stops talking about his Stevie, he does. Goes on and on about his Stevie. Stevie this and Stevie that. I came looking for him. I figured he was here since I haven't seen him more than three days.”
“Mrs. Sellers? Would you and Lettie mind if Miss Evans and I continued this conversation in the library?”
“Not at all, Mr. Reid. Are you sure you'll be all right?”
“We'll be fine. Please follow me, Miss Evans. Oh, and Lettie, would you mind preparing a pot of tea, please.”
“Yes, Mr. Reid. But you just holler if ya need any help.”
“Everything's going to be fine, Lettie.”
Rose followed me to the library, waddling and holding her stomach and back in a very dramatic pose to accentuate her condition.
“I'm afraid I haven't seen Miles in more than a week, Miss Evans.”
“Probably on some bender again. He's been drinking again, ya know.”
“No, I didn't. Please.” I offered her a chair which she sank into with great pomp and circumstance.
“That's when I hear all about you and him. When he's had a few he gets to talking and telling me how much he hates me and how he doesn't want to bring a baby into this marriage.” She started to cry and pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed her eyes. I couldn't help but smile inside, she reminded me so much of a bad actress in a bad play the way she overacted, emphasizing every gesture. “Always going on about how wonderful it is here at the Manor and how much he hates living with me.”
“I'm sorry to hear that.”
“Oh, he goes on and on, he does. Won't shut up about his life at the Manor. So I says, why don't you go back to yer Stevie, if that's what you want. Don't let me and the baby get in the way of yer happiness. So he says to me, maybe I will, maybe I'll just go back and you can take care of yerself. Slams the door and I haven't seen him since.” By this time she was near hysteria and the tears were flowing. “Now that I'm here I can see why he'd want to leave me and the baby in our little flat.”
Lettie entered the library with a tray and set it down on the table in front of Rose never letting her eyes leave the young girl. Rose blew her nose and continued sobbing. Lettie frowned, turning her nose up. “Shall I pour, Mr. Reid?”
“No, I can handle it, thank you, Lettie.”
“Turning on the waterworks I see,” Lettie said, shaking her head. “Ain't she something.”
“That will be all, Lettie. Thank you.”
“I'm sorry sir, it's just that I -”
“Thank you, Lettie.”
“Yes, sir.” Reluctantly Lettie left the room. I poured us tea as Rose sniffled, blowing her nose again into her hanky.
“Cream or sugar?”
“Both. Thank you.”
I prepared her tea and left it on the tray while I moved away from her with mine. I studied her as I sat in the chair opposite her. She had a lovely complexion and had obviously put on a few pounds with the pregnancy. She had piercing blue eyes with long dark lashes. Her hair was dark with auburn highlights. She had it pulled back and formed rows on the sides. A small green hat with a pheasant feather protruding sat to the side of her head. I could definitely see the initial attraction. She picked up her tea, relishing the moment. She sat back in her chair, stirring her tea as she looked up at me and glared. Then she smiled.
“Sorry, to be such a nuisance, sir, but the way I sees it, you owe me.”
“Really. How's that?” I asked.
“Well, there's lots of folks around here that would be disgusted if they knew what's been going on here with Miles and you. Oh, if people only knew what been going on between you two buggers...” She shook her head and made a clucking sound with her tongue and teeth.
“How much do you want, Miss Evans?”
“Oh, please call me Rose or Mrs. Sheffington, cause it's only a matter of days now before we tie the knot and Miles becomes all mine.”
“Not sure what you mean, Mr. Reid?”
“How much do you want to leave the county and never come back?”
“Oh, I have no intention of leaving, Mr. Reid. I plan on having me baby and making sure you are reminded every day that Miles is mine and also making sure you will never touch him again. If you do, Mr. Reid, I'm afraid I may be forced to tell a few people what I know. Some may consider it a sin, Mr. Reid, but others consider it against the law. You could go to jail, Mr. Reid for what you and my Miles have been up to. You know that, don't you?”
“A few hundred pounds a month should cover it nicely.”
“I'll add it onto Miles' salary each month.”
“Oh, no, Mr. Reid. I don't want my Miles to know anything about this. This is my nest egg and I don't want him getting' his drunken mitts on it.”
I walked over to her and took the tea cup and saucer from her hands, placing it back on the tray.
“I will make sure a checque is made out to you and delivered each month. Now please leave, Miss Evans.”
“The bum's rush, yer giving me the bum's rush? How dare you, Mr. Reid!” Her voice had risen. “You'll never touch him again! You hear me? Never!” She had painstakingly extricated herself from the easy chair. “If you so much as lay a finger on my Miles again I will make sure that you get what you seem to love so dearly from all the other inmates of the Reading Gaol. Do I make myself perfectly clear, Stevie?”
“Is everything all right, Mr. Reid?” Mrs. Sellers was standing in the doorway of the library.
“Please see Miss Evans to the door, Mrs. Sellers. She was just leaving.”
“And I'll be going out the front door if you please. No more back door, if you get my drift.” She laughed diabolically. “I'm afraid the cabbie may have left me here. I'll need a lift back into Milford, if you don't mind.”
“Please have Phillips give Miss Evans a ride back into town, Mrs. Sellers.”
“This way, Miss Evans.”
She smiled at me as she left the library in front of Mrs. Sellers. “Please close the doors, Mrs. Sellers.”
“Can I get you anything, Mr. Reid?”
“No, I'm fine, thank you. Just get that vile young woman out of this house as quickly as possible.”
She closed the two doors and I sank back into my chair exhaling a sigh of relief, closing my eyes as I was reminded of what I had just negotiated. It seemed impossible. To never touch Miles again. To never have him touch me. I got up and began to pace the room, searching for a way out. I leaned onto the mantle, dropping my head between my shoulders.
“Damn! Damn! Damn!” I shouted, banging my fists on the mantle.
Miles eventually turned up, having gone to the Lake District to inquire after his grandmother's things that he may need to set up house with Rose. He brought back some linens, a few pieces of China and baby clothes that were stored in an old trunk. He and Rose made up and he came to the Manor to talk to me. I came down the stairs and found him in the foyer.
“She's threatening to tell, Stevie.”
“She says I can't see thee ever again. Only as yer gamekeeper.”
“Then that's what we must do.”
In the few days since Rose's visit, I had resolved myself to the situation, but inside could not let go of him. I would not do anything to ruin Miles' reputation any further and was only mildly concerned for my own.
“How can you say that? How can I live without my Stevie?”
“Miles, please. Control yourself.”
“That fucking cunt! I can't believe she is going to be the mother of my child. I'll fucking kill her!”
“Miles stop it. We just need to be patient. We'll figure something out. No one's killing anyone. Come into the library.”
Miles followed me into the library and closed the doors. As soon as he had closed them, he practically ran to me and threw his arms around me.
“I can't lose thee again. I can't.” He kissed me on the mouth; deep, holding my head with his hands. I struggled for a moment to be free, finally relenting, letting him kiss me long and hard.
Miles and Rose were married by a justice of the peace the following week. Snow fell in December and then Christmas came and went. Miles and I saw very little of one another. He kept to his position as gamekeeper and because of the cold, it was impossible to meet at the hut. The day after New Year's Day, Miles came bursting into the kitchen of the Manor. I could hear him from the library where I was reading.
“It's a boy, Lettie! A boy! Oh, God, he's so beautiful!”
Lettie was hugging Miles when I came into the kitchen.
“A baby boy, sir, it's a baby boy.” Lettie was drying her tears with a linen towel. “What's his name, Miles? What did you name him?”
“John. After his granddad.”
“Oh, Miles!” Lettie burst into tears.
“And he's not a bastard, like his pa. Signed the birth certificate and everything. Almost had him on New Year's Eve, but the little tyke was stubborn and held out til the morning. Got beautiful black hair and such lovely skin like his ma.”
“How is Rose?” I asked.
“Nasty as ever. Screamed like a banshee coming straight out of hell. The sisters keep trying to give her the baby so she'll nurse, but she says she just wants to sleep. I held him and fed him with a bottle while she passed out. She made the doctors give her something to knock her out when the pain got too bad. Sounded like a fishwife, cursing and screaming she was carrying on so bad. Scared me to death when it got so quiet and then I heard him cry. Like an angel. That's what it sounded like to me. Like a baby angel.” Miles hugged Lettie and then me. “Gotta get back to the hospital. Come see him, will thee? Rose'll be in the hospital for at least a week and then we'll be bringing him home.”
“Perhaps.” I said.
“What do thee mean, perhaps. Yer coming and that's all there is to it.”
Miles was out the back door and after it slammed shut, Lettie looked at me. “That girl's not fit to be a mother. Mark my words. Nothing good'll come of that union. That poor baby. The poor little thing.” Lettie started crying again and I put my arms around her.
Lettie, Mrs. Sellers and I made the trip into Milford to see the baby. A Sister was holding him, rocking him while she fed him a bottle. Rose was sitting up in her bed applying lipstick when we knocked on the open door.
“Well, if it ain't the Lord and Ladies of the Manor. Never expected to see you here,” she said as she put the lid on her lipstick and threw it into her purse. “Miles just stepped out for a cup a tea. Should be coming back any minute.”
“How's the baby doing, Rose?” I asked.
“Oh, I expect he's fine. I'm the one who's not doing so well. Been crying a lot. Sister says it's normal, but not for me.”
“I'm sorry to hear that.” Mrs. Sellers and Lettie held back at the door. Miles walked up behind them.
“Rose, dear, look who's come to see thee. Come on you two, she don't bite. Much.” He laughed as he gently pushed them into the room. “Lettie, I'll bet thou art itching to get yer hands on him. Aren't ya?”
“Ye certainly may. Sister hand over Little Jack to Lettie, if ya will?”
The nurse stood and handed the baby gently to Lettie, who lit up like a candle, smiling down at Little Jack.
“Oh, how can ya not believe in God when ya look into the face of a baby? What a little miracle he is.”
“Miracle alright. It's a blooming miracle either one of us survived that delivery.” Rose said.
We stayed for a few more minutes and then made our excuses and left. Mrs. Sellers said not a word to Rose, but hugged and congratulated Miles on the birth of his first son. Lettie's eyes teared up as she gave the baby back to the Sister. She hugged Miles and then turned to Rose and said, “You take good care of the both of them, you hear me?” Rose just looked back at her and smiled.
“Oh, I'll take good care of my men. You can be sure of it.”
I shook Miles' hand and looked over at Rose. She had a self-satisfied look on her face that turned to triumphant.
“Congratulations, Rose. I hope you all will be very happy.”
“Thank you, Stevie.”
“Who told ye ye could address Mr. Reid like that?” Miles was outraged. “He is our benefactor and don't ye ferget it!”
“Oh, I won't forget it, Miles. I won't forget it.”
“Sorry about that, sir. It won't happen again, I'm sure.”
I left the room and heard them shouting at one another as I walked down the hall, hating the formalities and artifice of the whole situation as much as I hated Rose. When would I be able to hold him in my arms again? When would I feel the touch of his hands on my body? When would I surrender again to his sweet kisses? She had taken it all away.
Two months went by before I saw him again. He walked into the kitchen one morning carrying a brace of dead rabbits and his rifle. He looked worn and tired. When I remarked on this he replied, “Not getting much sleep these day, I'm afraid. Baby seems to cry all the time and Rose leaves it to me to make him stop. I swear she's the worst...I shouldn't speak ill of my child's mother, but sometimes I wonder how she came to be the way she is. Hardly has anything to do with Little Jack.” His eyes started to tear. “Here's a brace of rabbit for thee, Lettie. Wouldn't mind a bit of yer rabbit stew one day. I'm afraid, my Rose ain't much of a cook either.”
“Anytime lad. Come round tomorrow and I'll have a bowl ready fer ya.” Lettie had a look of deep concern on her face.
I had to hold him. “Miles, may I speak to you in the library please? Excuse us, will you Lettie?”
“Certainly. I've got some rabbits to skin.”
Miles followed me through the dining room and into the library. I closed the doors and he all but fell into my arms weeping.
“I'm miserable without thee, Stevie. I..I..” He choked and stuttered as I held him close. My hand went to the back of his head as I ran it through his hair which had grown very long. He smelled of the outdoors. Fresh and clean. I held my cheek to his feeling the tears wet them. He sobbed and his knees seemed to weaken so I tightened my hold on him. He was so vulnerable and I loved him all the more for it. I wanted to hold him like this forever as all our cares dissolved and our world was made right. After a few minutes his crying wore itself down to a few sobs and sniffles.
“I have to have thee, Stevie. At least one more time. She doesn't need to know. We can meet tomorrow at the hut. I'll build a fire in the wood burner and it'll be just like old times. Please, say thee will, Stevie. I can't live without thee. She makes my life a livin' hell, she does.” He kissed me softly on the lips. “Say you'll meet me, Stevie.” He kissed me again, my mouth hungered for his as saliva, mucous and tears mingled together in our mouths. His tongue found mine and they danced together. “Please, Stevie.” He pressed against me, our hard cocks kissed as he continued kissing my mouth.
“Tomorrow in the afternoon.” I whispered breathlessly. “Come here for lunch and then I'll meet you around three.” I had to have him, but my heart broke at the thought that it may be the very last time.
He brought my hands to his lips and kissed the back of them. “Oh thank thee, Stevie. Thank thee.” He turned my hands over and kissed the palms. He looked up at me. “Thou art truly beautiful.”
He came the next day and had two big bowls of Lettie's stew. I begged off saying I was going into the village for the afternoon and would return just before dinner. While Lettie and Miles sat chatting and gossiping, I drove the car into town just to make sure someone would see me. I stopped in at the pub for a pint of beer, knowing that Millie, the proprietress, would be sure to make note of my presence in town. She set my beer down and stood for a moment looking awkward.
“Not sure if I should even mention it, Mr Reid, but that tart, Rose that married Mr. Sheffington's been in here spreading her viciousness. Just thought I might mention it, sir. Maybe you could have a word with Miles about her.”
“What is she saying, Millie?”
“Lies. Lies and slander. She's a wicked one, she is. I don't trust her as far as I could throw her.”
My face was turning redder as I held back my embarrassment and rage. “I'll speak with Miles the next time I see him.”
On the way back to the manor I considered the options. So, she was not living up to her end of the bargain. What a deceitful little bitch. I had already given her eight hundred pounds for keeping quiet and all the while she was telling others about Miles and me. Something had to be done. I would speak with Miles. Murderous thoughts began to grow inside of me like a cancer as my mood got blacker and blacker. How could we do it and not get caught. The last thing I wanted was be hanged for murdering Rose. Out of the question. Or was it? My mind raced with plots and scenarios. None of them seemed foolproof. Well, I certainly was not going to give her any more money. I would confront her and perhaps I could convince her to leave. She seemed to understand money. I would ask her how much it would cost for her to leave and never come back. But Little Jack. What would we do with Little Jack?
I turned into the driveway, parking the car behind a stand of trees and bushes where it could not be seen from the road or the driveway. My mind was still racing as I hiked the two miles to the hut. I was practically running when I reached the path just outside the yard of the hut. The chickens had been moved to outside the kitchen at the manor where Lettie now tended them, so all I heard was the sound of the wind in the trees. I stopped to catch my breath and saw a trail of smoke coming from the chimney on top of the hut. Spring was fast approaching, but winter still held the countryside in its grip. I could see my breath as I noticed a glow of candlelight in the window. In another month it would be a year since I met Miles. So much had happened in such a short amount of time. I loved him beyond words, beyond anything I had ever thought possible, but what had I brought to him besides my love? He was trapped in a loveless marriage with a son. I was considering murdering or blackmailing his wife. Soon we would be the talk of the village, if Rose continued her slanderous ways. Was I doing him or me a favor by meeting him in this way? Perhaps I should walk away; go back to the Bentley and go home.
As I opened the door to the hut I was crying. Miles was on the bed with his legs crossed and he smiled when he saw me. His smile soon turned to concern as he jumped up and came to me. He put his arms around me.
“Stevie, my darling darling man. What is it? Why art thou crying?”
“I want to kill her Miles. I want to kill Rose.”
“Believe me, I given that some serious thought myself. But we can't do it, Stevie. She's my Little Jack's mum. It would never do. We'll find a way. We'll find a way.”
“She's talking in town, Miles. She's spreading her wicked filth around town.”
“How do you know?”
I told him of my conversation with Millie and we discussed our options. I told him I had been paying her blackmail money and he flew into a rage.
“She's been holding out on our family with all that money when we can hardly make ends meet? I will kill her, Little Jack or no!”
After a while we had both settled down and were lying next to each other fully clothed on the bed. We stared at the ceiling.
“Is this to be it then, Miles?”
“Not if I have any say in the matter. We should probably not meet again for awhile though. So, maybe the last time for awhile, until we sort things out. Until we figure out what to do about Rose.” He was crying when I looked over and saw the tears streaming down the side of his face. “We'll figure something out, Stevie.” He turned to me and with the tearful voice of a little child asked, “Won't we, Stevie?”
I kissed him. I kissed his tears, licking the side of his face. He closed his eyes as I began unbuttoning his shirt. I kissed his chest and his nipples. He held my head as I moved to his belly with my lips and tongue. He forced me up, kissing me hard on the lips, searching for my tongue with his. Both of us were hard and breathing heavily. My breath came in shorts gasps as I tried to control it, but my passion and love for Miles were beyond my control. He matched my intensity as we scrambled out of our clothes and he fell onto my hard cock with his mouth. I raised my hips to meet him and thrust myself into his mouth. He gagged and went down again, grabbing my ass with his hands, forcing my cock and hips into his mouth. I felt myself on the verge of coming and tried to pull away.
“Not yet, not yet!” I whispered hoarsely.
“Give it to me, Stevie. Give it to me!” he begged.
I came with deep shudders that convulsed my entire body as Miles greedily drank my cum.
“Fuck me, Miles. Fuck me.”
He straddled me, his hard cock pointed at my ass and wet his fingers, moistening my ass and the head of his penis. His fingers penetrated me slowly as he guided them in and out of me, adding another and yet another. I writhed and moaned with pleasure. He spit into his other hand, grabbing my already hard again cock. He stroked it gently, rubbing his thumb over the head, spreading the precum. Looking up at Miles, I saw him smiling down at me, pleased that he could make me feel this way. With both of us still gazing at one another he positioned himself, sliding his cock into my ass. I let out a small gasp as he penetrated my sphincter muscle, relaxing as he slowly and gently made his way in to the depths of me. When he had gone as far as he could go, he leaned down, kissing me gently and then began to fuck me slowly, his passion building with each thrust of his cock and his tongue. I fucked him back with both my ass and my tongue as we began to create a rhythm, syncopating our movements like a musical duet. Miles fell onto his side, keeping his cock buried deeply into my ass. I turned onto my side, lifting one leg into the air while he continued fucking me from behind. He reached through our legs, grabbing my hard cock, stroking it in time with his thrusts. I was crazy with lust. I forced my ass back onto him, riding him and the wave of emotions that we both were feeling simultaneously.
“Oh, fuck, oh, fuck!” he cried as he came inside me. The warm liquid filling me. He continued stroking me, keeping his cock buried solidly inside me. I shouted out as another stream of cum flew out of me onto the bedclothes.
Both of us were out of breath, while Miles held me from behind.
“Never get soft and never take it out. Let's just stay like this forever, Miles.”
We lay quietly, Miles softly kissing the back of my neck and my shoulder, while I slowly stroked his forearm. I closed my eyes.
I woke with a chill, noticing the fire had gone out. Miles snored softly into my ear, his arms still around me. I turned slowly onto my back as his limp penis extricated itself from my ass. The sun was beginning to set and the area around the hut was growing dark.
“Miles, darling. I have to go.” He still had his arms around me, holding me tighter.
“Not just yet, luv. Not just yet.”
“I'm afraid so, sweet man. We can do this again. Soon.”
I freed myself from his hold and dressed. He pulled the quilt over him and watched me with a smile.
“Thou art truly beautiful.” I was just finishing dressing and smiled at him. He had placed the emphasis on the word truly for the first time.
“As art thou, my love.”
“I guess I better get up and clean myself. She says she can smell thee on me. Don't wanna give her more reason to be nasty.” He jumped up and came to me, throwing his arms around me. “One last kiss before we take a break from all this joy.”
A fortnight passed and it was my time to pay Rose. I usually mailed the checque with no return address, but decided to pay her a visit instead of mailing it.
Their flat was up a flight of stairs over a bakery. Odors of baking bread filled the stairwell as I made my way to the door. Little Jack was crying and I heard Rose yell out something. I knocked.
She was wearing a robe and slippers, smoking a cigarette when she opened the door.
“Oh, Stevie, don't think I'm quite ready to be receiving guests yet. I must look a fright.” The baby kept crying. She combed through her hair with her fingers and dropped ashes on the floor. “And the flat is a right mess. What are you doing here anyway? Decided to bring the checque yerself, did ya?”
“There's not going to be anymore checques, Rose.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Get in here before the neighbors start nosing about.” I walked into the flat and she closed the door behind me. It smelled of dirty nappies and cigarettes. “Now what are you going on about, Stevie? No more checques? I thought we had us an agreement, Stevie?”
“Oh, we did, Rose, until you broke it.”
“Whaddya mean I broke it?”
“Well, it has come to my understanding that you have been spreading filth around town regarding Miles and myself. The agreement was that I not see Miles and you would not say anything about what has gone on between us. So you see, Rose, the damage has been done and I have nothing to fear from you anymore.
“Please let me finish before you try and lie your way out of this. I have another proposition for you. I want you to leave the county and move to London. I don't want you to ever return or I swear I will kill you.” Rose was backing away from me. She put out her cigarette. Little Jack was still crying. “Don't you want to see to your child, Rose?” She lit another cigarette.
“Oh, he'll be alright.”
“Then would you mind if I did?”
“Help yerself, yer Lordship. Be my guest.”
I went to the small bassinet that the child was obviously too large for and looked down at him. “He needs a larger crib.”
“Oh, is that so yer Lordship. And just who's going to pay for it?”
“What about the money I've been sending you?” I reached down and scooped up Little Jack into my arms.
“That's my nest egg. Not touching it.”
I looked down at Little Jack who had stopped crying and was looking up at me. He smiled.
“I think he just wanted to be held.”
“Then hold him! Hold him all day, for all I care. And just what do I get out of leaving and moving to London, because believe you me, the thought has crossed my mind more than once?”
I looked at Miles' child and my heart opened. This is the child of my beloved. I need to embrace this child as if it were my own.
“I am fully prepared to make out a checque for ten thousand pounds if you will leave and leave the child.” I hadn't planned on saying that last part.
“Are you out of your mind? Do you think I'm going to leave my little boy with a couple of poufters? Now I know yer crazy.”
“This child has been a burden to you since the day he was born. I have not seen you show one ounce of motherly concern for him. If you go to London without the child you shall go unshackled, free of the huge responsibility of motherhood. Free to make your way as a new woman. Think about it, Rose. I'll give you one week to consider it.”
“Oh yeah, then what? Are you gonna kill me? You haven't got it in you.”
I held Jack closer to me. “Try me, Rose and just see what I'm capable of.” I kissed Jack on the forehead, putting him in his bassinet, hating every moment he would have to continue to be with this harridan. He began to cry again as I walked out the door.
The week passed and Rose contacted that she had made her decision. I was to open an account for her in London and deposit the ten thousand pounds. She would make the arrangements regarding Jack.
A few days later Lettie came running into the library crying.
“Oh, Mr. Reid, something terrible has happened. Something horrible!”
“What is it Lettie?”
“It's Mr. Miles, Mr Reid. He's in the hospital.”
“I just got a call from that nasty wife of his. Says he's in the hospital and they say he might die. She going on telling me that they got no money to pay for the bills and that you need to do something, cause she's done with him. Says he got in another fight and this time it was a couple of fellas and they did some terrible damage to Miles. Damage to his brain. Oh, Mr. Reid, I love that boy like he was my own son. If anything happens to him. Oh, Mr. Reid I know you love him too. I ain't judging any love any person has for another one. God is love and if you love him, then it's alright by me, Mr. Reid. I don't sit in judgment of nobody.”
“Thank you, Lettie. Now let's get to hospital and see what can be done.”
Miles was in a coma. It seems he had been kicked in the head with the steel tipped boots of a pair of miners. They were being held in the gaol, awaiting trial once we knew what condition Miles was in. From what I gathered, Miles had not been drinking, but was defending me when the miners began talking about what they had heard from Rose.
The doctors were unsure of his condition. They said he could recover, but he may end up a vegetable for the rest of his life or regain some of faculties but any recovery would be slow and laborious. All we could do was wait.
I took care of all the expenses and worried how this would affect Rose's decision. Five days after Miles went into the hospital, I came downstairs with the intent of driving into town to confront Rose. It made me sick to think of Jack there all alone with her with Miles not there to care for him. I heard Jack crying in the kitchen. I walked to the kitchen door and listened.
“It will just be for a few hours. My mum's come down with something and needs my help. Miles is in the hospital and I got no one else to ask.”
“Give him to me.” I heard Lettie say. “There, there, Little Jack, now what's all this fussing about? Go on then, do what ya gotta do. He's better off here anyways. And while yer out caring for the sick, Florence Nightingale, why not pay a visit to yer husband?”
“I'm sure I don't know what yer talking about. I visits him every day.”
“That's not what I heard. I been there every day and I ain't seen ya and asked about and none of the Sisters has seen ya neither.”
“I come just before visiting hours are over and don't like to make a fuss.”
“Is that so, is that so?”
“I brought ya some clean nappies and his bottle.”
“There's enough nappies in there to last a few days. What you got planned anyways?”
“Nothing, I swear. I gotta go, the cabbies waiting. Give us a kiss, Jack. Now you be a good boy, you hear.” There was a catch in her voice. Maybe she had some feelings after all.
I heard the door close and waited a few minutes before I walked into the kitchen.
“What's this? Little Jack has come to visit?”
“That girl is up to no good. I can feel it in my bones.”
“Let me hold him, Lettie? Hello Little Jack. How are you today?” he smiled and again my heart melted.
After a few days, it became obvious that Rose was not coming back for Jack. Lettie took up permanent residence at the Manor and we made arrangements for her husband to come live there also. Between Lettie, Mrs. Sellers and Mrs. Phillips, Jack now had more mothers than I'm sure he needed. They fussed and bothered over constantly. Of the three, Mrs. Phillips was the only one who had a child; a daughter who visited occasionally from a neighboring village. She was married and expecting her first child. Mrs. Phillips was delighted to have Jack in the Manor.
Miles came out of the coma a few days after Rose left. I sat with him and explained what had happened. His speech was severely impaired and he had lost most of the control of his right arm. I worked with the therapist and we developed a routine for his recovery.
After a month I brought Miles back to Fair Oaks and set him up in his own bed in my bedroom so I could keep a close eye on him. He resisted his therapy at first, becoming angry and frustrated with his lack of coordination and speech, but whenever I brought Jack into the room to visit him, he brightened and the routines went smoother.
Life at Fair Oaks is very different now. We are a small community of eight. Jack has made a huge difference in the way we all view life. His presence has opened up possibilities and futures we could never have seen before. We're an odd threesome, Jack, Miles and me. Two orphans with a common thread and now another motherless child, but in actuality, Jack is hardly motherless. It seems the sins of the fathers and the mothers have been put to rest and we have broken the bonds of the past.
The manor is fully furnished. Mr Phillips keeps the grounds beautifully. On Sundays we all share a meal together in the dining room.
Miles no longer resists his therapy and gets better day by day. We have learned to make love in spite of his handicaps. I love bathing him; caring for the man I love has given me such joy. We both delight in Jack and his laughter is the sweetest sound I have ever heard.
The wind blows through the leaves of the trees here at Fair Oaks as Miles and I sit on the back porch watching Jack run through boxwood maze. The roses are in bloom and their fragrance is in the air. Four years have passed and Miles has worked hard and can now walk with a cane. His speech has almost fully returned. Word came to us from America that Miles' father had died. We also heard from Rose's mother that she had married again and left the country for Australia. I suppose one day Jack will ask about his real mother. Perhaps even go looking for her down under. But for now he is one of the happiest children I have ever seen. He fills our life with happiness at every turn.
The past four years have washed away so much hurt and guilt. I feel cleansed by my new life with Miles. We plan for Jack's future and his education and are planning a trip abroad as a family when he turns eight.
As we sit and watch Jack, Miles reaches over and grabs my hand. I look at him, noticing the scars on his beautiful face and how his beauty is still intact and even more radiant. As I look at him, holding his hand, I see a tear fall from his eye and he smiles. He turns to me and we gaze at each other.
“Thou art truly beautiful,” he says, and I believe him.