Tiptoeing into the large stable, Colin winced as the door closed behind him with a loud whine from the hinges. He’d have to remember to tell one of the servants to tend to it. He’d do it himself but had absolutely no idea where he’d obtain the oil.
Cautiously, he crept farther into the dim building. The horses had all been out for their exercise and now resided calmly in their stalls for the most part. As Colin passed, Viola huffed and stamped the wooden floor, probably eager to return to the pasture. Colin shushed her, scratching behind her ears.
As he moved toward the back of the stable, he listened carefully but heard nothing out of the ordinary. Just in case, Colin peeked around the corner toward the stable master’s quarters.
He sighed heavily and returned to Viola to give her an apple. After the first time he’d stumbled upon the two men three years before, Colin had avoided the stable for countless months, flushing with embarrassment every time he had even neared the building. He’d made every attempt to forget what he’d seen and -- more importantly -- how he’d reacted.
However Colin had now abandoned the pretense, at least in his own mind. It had taken him years to accept it, but he’d given in to his nature and had begun actively seeking out the clandestine activity, eager to witness it again.
Naturally as soon as he was looking for it, it was nowhere to be found.
Colin knew it was wrong on several levels. Patrick would surely be furious if he found out he was being spied upon. But more importantly, the act Colin craved was punishable by death. He should be disgusted by it.
Yet the very thought of it quickened his blood and stirred his manhood. It excited him like nothing else.
After the day Patrick had plucked him from the runaway stallion’s back, they’d become friends of a sort. Patrick had given him riding lessons, and Colin had eagerly hung around the stables whenever he could, helping with the chores.
There had always been an air of defiance about Patrick, who treated Colin as a peer and not a master. But three years ago, Colin had discovered just how rebellious Patrick truly was. It had led Colin to destroy their friendship.
As Viola chomped through her apple core, Colin’s thoughts drifted back.
Rain pelted the countryside and brought with it a relentless wind. Everyone holed up in the main house, but Colin grew restless. He was sixteen and bored of everything, particularly studying.
By late afternoon, the sky was so dark it was as if night had fallen. Colin bundled up and stole out the kitchen door, hurrying to the stable. He planned to keep Viola company, guessing she was as tired of being cooped up as he was. Perhaps Patrick could give him something to do. He loved visiting Patrick and helping with the animals whenever he could.
As he entered the stable, Colin was careful to shut the door quietly against the wind so as not to startle the animals. He opened his mouth to call a hello to Viola, but the words died in his throat.
A low moaning reached him, coming from the far side of the stable. Colin wasn’t sure at first if the sound was human, and worried an animal was ill. But some instinct told him to be stealthy and keep his silence. He trod as lightly as he could, listening to the moans and gasps for breath with a strange excitement and mounting curiosity.
The stable master’s quarters were in the back corner of the building at the end of a short corridor, and it seemed to Colin the noises were most likely coming from there. After gathering his courage, he peered slowly around the last stall.
His heart hammered so loudly he worried it would certainly be heard. Through the open door at the end of the corridor were two men. One braced himself against the wall, hands spread as he bent forward. The other man was Patrick, and Colin clapped his hand over his mouth as he gasped aloud. Patrick had mounted the man in the same manner Colin had seen horses mate, and Colin stared, transfixed.
Both men groaned and breathed harshly, breeches around their ankles, shirts undone and hanging loosely. Colin’s own trousers were suddenly uncomfortably tight, and he fought only briefly against his urge to get a closer look. Taking the apple he’d brought for Viola, he held it out for the horse in the last stall, opening the door just enough to slip inside. He squeezed by the animal to the rear of the enclosure, holding his breath.
By stooping, Colin could see through a gap in the horizontal slats of wood. He was only ten feet from the straining men, and his pulse pounded. Colin had been informed of how babies were created by his dispassionate tutor, Mr. Wheeldon, years ago, but had never imagined what he was witnessing was possible. While William had been obsessed with girls of late, Colin had never found them of much interest outside of pleasant conversation.
But hiding in the stable, watching Patrick mate with a man he vaguely recognized as one of the groundskeepers, Colin was overcome with desire and exhilaration. Patrick slammed into the man over and over as Colin watched, rapt. It was as if the missing piece of a puzzle had finally locked into place.
Both men shone with a thin sheen of sweat, even in the chill, and they grunted with a satisfaction Colin had never experienced. He’d touched himself many times, but it had always felt strangely empty. William had told him that he thought about one of the housemaids dusting naked, but when Colin tried it, his loins remained stubbornly unmoved.
As Colin watched, Patrick reached around for the other man’s member, grasping it tightly as he continued riding him. Colin silently loosened his trousers and snaked his hand inside. He was already hard as a rock, the tip of his cock wet. Biting his lip, he stroked himself, eyes glued to Patrick’s round, firm buttocks, partially hidden by the ends of his shirt.
Colin drew blood from his lip as he flooded his hand with sticky seed. He hung on to the side of the stall, his entire body shuddering with release as he’d never felt before.
“What are you doing here? Lose your way?”
Colin jumped, his mind jolting back to the present as he spun around to find Patrick watching him quizzically. Colin had been rubbing himself unconsciously through his trousers as he’d remembered the stormy day three years past. Patrick’s gaze flickered downward, and he raised an eyebrow in amusement. “Enjoying your horse, Lord Lancaster?”
“I... What? No! I was just...” Colin tore off his jacket and held it to his stomach. “I was giving Viola an apple. Nothing more.”
Patrick smirked. “If you say so, Lord.” The term he’d once bestowed without malice had become an insult.
“You know I’m not a lord at all,” Colin mumbled. Colin’s family was wealthy enough, but they weren’t nobility.
“Could’ve fooled me. I’m surprised you’re giving your mare the time of day. Thought you were too good now for hanging about in the muck. Shouldn’t you be relaxing somewhere? Eating candies?” Patrick was being quite insolent and would never speak this way to Colin with others around. “You used to enjoy getting your hands dirty. But I suppose the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.” He shrugged.
Colin flushed. After witnessing the encounter three years ago, he’d stopped his visits to the stable. He only came when he had to and had often tasked the household servants with collecting and returning Viola for him. He knew why Patrick thought he was now a pampered prince and too much of a snob to hang about as he once did. Yet truthfully he’d been too confused and troubled by his feelings to do anything but watch Patrick from afar.
Although he’d been coming again regularly to the stable for the last few months, Patrick was none the wiser, since Colin had hoped to catch him fornicating again and hadn’t made his presence known. He’d thought about talking to Patrick and telling him the truth, but every time he considered it, he felt positively sick to his stomach.
“Can you not deign to listen to me?”
Colin had been so preoccupied with the fact that Patrick was standing but a few feet away, looking completely ravishing, that he had no idea what the man was saying. As usual, he didn’t have the nerve to look Patrick in the eye and kept his gaze elsewhere. “Pardon?”
“Shouldn’t you be running along to your tutor?”
Colin forced himself to look up at Patrick. “My tutor?”
“Although you’re quite” -- Patrick’s eyes flicked downward again -- “unpresentable at the moment.”
Without another word, Colin fled, leaving Patrick’s hearty laughter in his wake. As he hustled back to the main house, a two-story rectangular building of beige brick with a long, curving lane in front, Colin cursed himself for his foolishness. He should forget Patrick and stop embarrassing himself.
Passing a startled maid, Colin took the grand staircase in the foyer two steps at a time and was soon safely in his chambers, the door firmly closed. He buzzed from running into Patrick. Although Patrick had cooled toward him considerably, Colin couldn’t help but be exhilarated by the encounter.
After checking the clock on his mantle, Colin saw he still had twenty minutes before Mr. Wheeldon would arrive for their daily studies. He quickly shucked his trousers and stroked himself, imagining it was him Patrick had mounted that day in the stable.
At first, Colin had been so mortified by his reaction to the sight of Patrick and the groundskeeper that he hadn’t touched himself for the longest time. He’d denied his feelings and avoided Patrick at all costs. And he’d tried with the lovely Katherine Crawford. Really, he had. But it was no good. Colin wanted men, and one man in particular. One man he could never have.
After spilling his seed, Colin swiftly cleaned himself and went to the drawing room to meet Mr. Wheeldon. The afternoon ticked by ever so slowly as they went over Latin conjugations. Colin thought about what Patrick was doing until Mr. Wheeldon, face growing alarmingly red under his thatch of white hair, smacked a ruler across Colin’s hand and ordered him to stop daydreaming.