"Gads, there's a boy in my bed. It's Christmas come early."
The laconic drawl jerked Stephen from a deep sleep, snapped him awake, and set him bolting upright, blinking in the candlelight at the dark devil who stood over him. He gasped for breath and sputtered for an answer, but words failed him, as they so often did. Words like "who," "why," and "what" all stuck to his tongue, and only an anguished, stammering w-w-w-w came from his throat.
The man shed his midnight jacket and began to unbutton his gleaming white shirt. His shoulders broad, his back ramrod straight, his dark hair falling in loose curls around harsh, shadowed features--he was Stephen's every nighttime fantasy made flesh, the fascinating, frightening creature of erotically charged dreams, the man who would touch him in ways he'd only furtively touched himself up to now.
"Shove over then, and make room for an old man on the warm side of the bed." The devil's quiet chuckle was like fingernails scraping Stephen's spine. "Well, perhaps not old. I prefer to think of myself as seasoned, like a good piece of meat."
"W-who...?" Stephen finally managed to blurt. He was deeply aware of the man's gaze lingering on his bare chest, so he pulled his gaping nightshirt closed.
"Lord Northrup, Earl of Stafford, but you may call me Peter since it appears we're going to be such intimate companions as to share sleeping quarters." He pulled the shirt off his shoulders, and the candlelight made his skin glow golden. Shadows delineated the muscles of his biceps and chest. A darker shadow of hair furred his pectorals and his flat belly.
"I'm not one to raise a fuss in the middle of the night when it's my fault for arriving so late to the party. So, my lad, I'm willing to share if you are."
Stephen could no longer manage so much as a vowel. He was struck speechless by the outspoken earl who made suggestive comments without a thought for how they might be construed by a stranger. The man was stripping off his boots and breeches now. What kind of an earl traveled without a valet to help him with his attire?
When the stranger tossed back the covers and started to climb into the tall bed, Stephen scooted over as fast as a fox chased by hounds. The man wore no nightshirt. He was barely clothed in drawers, the drawstring of which was tied loosely so they hung halfway down his hips. Before Northrup pulled the covers over himself, Stephen beheld the shallow indentations below each hip bone and the shape of his erect cock beneath the undergarment.
"Sir, I could go elsewhere," Stephen finally said with a gasp. "It's no b-bother at all for me to move to another room."
One dark brow rose high as Northrup settled back against the pillow, an arm behind his head. The position lifted his chest, and Stephen's gaze was drawn to the hard nubs of his brown nipples. "Come now. No need to keep pretending. I know Euphemia Pratt and her pranks. This is the room she always gives me. If she placed you in my bed, it's for a good reason. One I think we'll both enjoy."
Beneath the covers, Stephen pinched his forearm, checking to see if he was perhaps still asleep. This was the stuff of dreams, waking up to the impossible fact of a handsome man making sexual suggestions--and reaching for him under the covers.
The young man flinched when a warm, heavy hand settled on his thigh, burning through the light cotton of his nightshirt, but his cock swelled, thrilled at the touch. Swallowing hard, he took a deep breath to calm his pounding heart. He smelled the fresh scent of night air and a whiff of whiskey on his late night visitor.
"Will you deny Mrs. Pratt told you to expect me?"
Here it was--the moment for him to explain this was a huge misunderstanding, a double booking of one of the bedrooms. He was a friend of Brian Pratt, come to visit over the holidays. All he had to do was protest and climb out from under the bedcovers. But Stephen felt paralyzed by the hand on his thigh, sliding nearer his groin. He held utterly still, kept his denial to himself, and held his breath, waiting to see what would happen next.
The demon gazed at him with heavy-lidded eyes. "You're a very pretty one, with your tawny, tousled hair and that pouting lower lip. However, I'd like to see more of you. Why don't you take off that rather unattractive nightshirt and show me."
Another hard swallow and Stephen moved to obey. It was as if Northrup was a hypnotizing cobra and he a quivering rodent eager to be eaten up. With shaking fingers, he gathered the soft cotton of his nightshirt, pulled it over his head, and tossed it onto the floor. He tried to convince himself he had no choice, that he had to obey the earl's commanding tone, but deep inside he knew the truth. This was something he'd craved for a very long time--for someone to take control and "force" him to give in to his natural inclinations.
"My God," the earl muttered, his gaze raking Stephen's body and setting his flesh afire. He reached out a hand and rested the palm against the younger man's chest, then slid it down from chest to groin.
Stephen's stomach muscles trembled, and his cock hardened further. Northrup focused his gleaming eyes on the erect shaft. "No drawers beneath your sleeping attire? Now tell me you weren't expecting me, my lad."
A grin transformed the man's severe features into the face of a fallen angel--once holy, now dark and dangerous. "Don't look so frightened. I'm not going to hurt you." His hand curved around Stephen's cock and gripped it, squeezing lightly. "Much. What's your name?"
"Pleased to meet you, Stephen. Now we've introduced ourselves, why don't you come here and get to know me better?" The earl's hand snaked around the back of his neck and pulled him over for a kiss.
Heart nearly choking him, Stephen leaned over the other man's reclining body, naked chest to chest. His lips touched another man's for the first time in his life. Warm, moist, moving, Northrup's mouth was a living thing, and the touch of it thrilled him. Their breath mingled. Stephen tasted the sharp, oaken flavor of whiskey. Was the earl drunk? Would he be angry when he realized what he'd done while in his cups?