Excerpt — Rite of Summer

A little bit of a teaser! I have to keep the excerpts on other sites to a PG-13 level, but this website is mine, and I do what I like. (mua ha ha). This scene takes place on one of the first nights after the guests arrive for the house party. Joshua can’t sleep, his mind fixated on his crush on Stephen Ashbrook, and he goes exploring instead. He finds quite a bit more than he bargained for.


Sleep, normally a welcome lover, forsook him for warmer beds. Joshua tossed and turned in his sweaty sheets, in that half space between dream and waking. Every time he dozed off it came back, that feeling that he was reaching for something, only to have it turn to mist and slip from his fingers the moment they closed about it.

He rose and dressed again by the faint glow of moonlight. A small stub of candle was enough to light his way, and he went wandering. The almost-full moon shone in through the bay windows in the upstairs hall, turning everything it touched to shades of silver, taupe and gray.

Silence reigned, not the quiet of the grave, but something more wholesome and peaceful. It was late enough that all the servants would be abed, and not yet time for the parlor maids to be slipping through the rooms to set the next morning’s fires. Darkness closed about him when he turned the corner and left the moonlight behind, his tiny flickering flame the only thing holding it at bay. He was a ghost, passing melancholically and unseen past closed and barred doors. Once he was gone, there would be none left to mourn him.

Joshua turned another corner and then stopped, the flicker of light below a door banishing all of his morbid thoughts. The double doors led to the music room—he remembered that much from the tour he had received upon their arrival. The countess had been disinterested, he had marked it more from curiosity than anything else, and they had moved on.

Now someone else was there.

Ashbrook? His treacherous pulse beat faster before he could calm it, but who else would it be? The master of the house was no music lover, to be hanging about his pianoforte in the dead of night. Unless one of the ladies was indulging in a secret assignation with her music master—hardly likely. The man was fifty if he was a day, and with a potbelly to match.

No music echoed down the hall, but even through the door he could hear the soft susurration of voices, both male, and the creaking of furniture. He needed to know, though he could probably guess. His feet moved one in front of the other despite his nagging impulse to turn around and return to his room. The candlelight flickered again, below the doors and between them. The latch had not been properly set.

Someone gasped, a sound followed by a low and guttural moan that quickly cut off. Or had that been a sob? Despite himself, he pinched out his candle and put his hand to the door. What if someone inside was injured or ill? Just because it sounded like something other than that—

It swung silently at his touch, the hinges well oiled and the door heavy. He stopped it before it could open farther than an inch or so, but that was more than enough for the image to sear itself into his memory.

The hushed and muffled noises that emerged from the room were musical indeed, but not the sort that could be played upon a harp. Two bodies writhed and rocked into one another in the center of the room, a portrait of lusty abandon. Candlelight gleamed golden and warm on Cade’s long, lean thighs, his trousers pushed down about his knees. Ashbrook knelt on the upholstered armchair in front of him, his fingers clutching tightly to the headrest, clad only in his shirt. A pair of trousers lay in a heap on the floor.

Cade’s fingers sank into the flesh of Ashbrook’s hip, digging hard enough to leave dents. That fair skin would be marred tomorrow with pink and purple marks, the constant low ache a persistent reminder of their fucking. Ashbrook’s shirt clung to him, the sweat-damp fabric clinging to the dips and shadows of his muscled back and shoulders. Cade bent low, pressing kisses to the bumps of Ashbrook’s spine with every snap of his hips. Cade’s buttocks clenched in time with the slap of skin against skin.

God above, Joshua would pay any price imaginable to be the one leaving marks like that, to feel Ashbrook’s body clench around his cock, to drive into him and wring gasps of pleasure from his throat. Ashbrook arched deliciously, his neck and back a perfect taut bow. He groaned and bit his lip as Cade laced fingers in his dark curls.

Cade pulled back, tugging Ashbrook’s head up and baring his throat. The curve of it in the flickering shadows was devastating, the angles of their bodies and the punishing thrusts of their movements a punch to the gut that sent Joshua reeling back a step.

His breath heaved faster, loud even to his own ears. They must be able to hear it, had to realize that he stood there, hardening inside his trousers, at war with himself. He should respect their privacy, turn and walk away.

And yet. They had a suite entirely to themselves—why plan an assignation in a public room if not for the thrill of the possibility of discovery? Better that it be him than one of the maids or, heaven forbid, one of the chaperones or Coventry himself. Perhaps it would be better if he stayed where he was, if only to raise the alert if someone else should happen to come by, someone who would be less…understanding about their particular proclivities.

Yes, he would be doing them a service. He turned his back, pressed his forehead against the cool, solid wall.

In the meantime…Joshua pressed the heel of his hand against his cock, fought the urge to thrust against it, to roll his hips into the friction. He tried to will it down, to force his pulse to slow to normal. Mathematics—that could work. Times tables, if he could remember them all, or the order of precedence of the current peerage…

Another creak and gasp from behind him made him turn, and the sight drove all thoughts of leaving out of his mind.