“Lord Dunkirk! Just the man we want to see!”
Sorrel lifted one brow and looked down his nose at the two men approaching him, not hiding the fact he was utterly baffled as to why the heads of the Royal Society for Literature wanted to see him. No one wanted to see him, unless it was to try and sleep with him or curry favor with one of his circle—or, these days, schedule an appointment with ‘the Queen’s Matchmaker’.
Never mind that he was on his way to see Joss, and did not care to be delayed. Not with what he had to discuss. Eager to get rid of them, he used his snidest tone to say, “How strange. I did not want to see you at all.”
Lord Fairweather laughed. Beside him, Lord Sexton looked a bit more anxious but still determined. What in the world did they want? “Now, now, my lord,” Fairweather said. “I cannot believe you kept mum! I almost missed your book, amongst the other review volumes given to us this week. We of the Society are in awe of your talent! You never said a word, my lord. We have not seen such exquisite poetry in years—I daresay in decades. You will be pleased to know that you will be made a member of the Society promptly, expect the invitation tomorrow. There is also talk already of you doing a reading for us on Sunday—”
“I see,” Sorrel replied, idly contemplating how he would murder Joss. So much for a pleasant afternoon. “I suppose I am elated that the Society finds my efforts adequate.” As if he cared—the Royal Society for Literature was hardly his ilk. They fondled musty old tomes the way he had once fondled the easy fools who let him into their beds. They spoke ad nauseam about the meaning of every little word in a paragraph or sentence. They had readings in gardens and halls and other such nonsense for which they word eccentric had been invented.
Sorrel positively shuddered at the thought of joining them. He had been bored of late, when he was not with Joss or the others, but he did not think he was quite that bored.
“You are more than adequate, my lord!” Lord Sexton said. “Truly, you are an artist of unparalleled skill. Please say you will honor us with a reading in the Princess Garden tomorrow night. It would be a great honor.”
“Honor?” Sorrel echoed, amused and—well, disconcerted, if he were honest. No one ever spoke to him about something as trivial as his bloody poetry. He was going to enjoy finally wrapping his fingers around Joss’ delectable throat.
“Yes, my lord,” Fairweather said quietly. “It is rare we get anyone of your reputation—”
“Which reputation would that be?” Sorrel asked idly, picking one of the white flowers from the bushes that lined the path on which they stood. “The one where I am too cozy with the Queen, the one where I am a shameless whore working my way through the court? Heartless bastard? Scheming bastard? I am not certain which of those is relevant to the Literary Society.”
“You’re taken seriously, my lord,” Sexton said quietly. “You are not considered an idiotic, eccentric fool.”
Sorrel paused, and looked at them without mockery, only then realizing the hope there in their eyes, their expressions. He stifled a sigh, and wondered when he had begun to grow so soft. But he knew the answer to that—two years ago, when Marianna had invited trouble into the palace. “Oh, I don’t know. There is no fool more eccentric than the fool in love. I will leave the selection of my readings in your capable hands. Nine o’clock in the Princess Garden?”
“Yes, my lord. Thank you, we are most grateful,” Fairweather replied.
“Do not be grateful just yet,” Sorrel said, and cast the picked flower aside. “My reputation may be the death of your precious Society. Until tomorrow night, gentlemen.” He bowed, then walked off, heading straight for Joss’ office.
He opened the door, and shot a look at the man in the chair, barely noticing who it was. “Out. Now.”
Joss stood up as the man fled, bracing his hands on the desk. “What in the hell do you think you are doing? I am working, Sorrel.”
“Yes,” Sorrel replied, locking the door and throwing the key absently aside, uncaring as to where it landed. “You have been quite busy—matchmaking and publishing books of poetry that do not belong to you. How do you manage?”
“I see,” Joss said, and sat down. “Well, you certainly found out sooner than anticipated.”
“The Society of Bookish Eccentrics hunted me down to do a reading,” Sorrel replied, and stalked across the office toward him. He stepped around the desk and moved into Joss’ personal space, curving his fingers around that lovely throat.
Joss smirked. “You said yes.”
“Shut up,” Sorrel muttered. “You are the most infuriating person I have ever met. You had no business publishing my poems. They are mine, not yours, and I do not appreciate your interference.” He used his thumb to nudge Joss’ head up, and bent to nip hard at his throat. Joss smelled like musk and sandalwood, hints of the ink and paper he spent so many hours of the day with.
“They deserved to be—” Joss broke off as Sorrel’s nails scraped the back of his neck. Mm, yes, nothing made Joss as pliant as that particular touch. “P-published. Unhand me at once, you rake. I do not approve of fucking in my office.”
“I do not approve of you going behind my back to make me a published poet,” Sorrel retorted. “If you get your way, I get mine.” He released Joss only to grab him up and move him away from the desk, pushing him to the floor in front of the windows.
Joss attempted to push him off, but the efforts were token and they both knew it. “I felt certain you were finally going to murder me,” he said as Sorrel made quick work of their clothes. Sunshine poured through the windows, turning Joss’ skin a warm gold, making him look positively decadent. Sorrel really did not understand why Joss thought himself so unremarkable.
He wondered just how angry Joss would get, to know more than a few hopeful cads had discreetly—and some not so discreetly—inquired as to the possibility of a threesome. They were all still too terrified to be in the same room as Sorrel.
“Oh, I will have my revenge, darling,” Sorrel drawled. “If I must go read poetry tomorrow night, then I think you deserve to have everyone know that I just kicked out your latest client to fuck you senseless on the floor of your office.”
Joss started to say something, but Sorrel cut him off by the expedient method of simultaneously kissing him and grabbing his cock, stroking Joss until he was writhing and begging and threatening in Sorrel’s arms.
Given their enthusiastic activities just that morning in bed, it took only moments until Joss was ready for him and Sorrel was pushing inside, fucking Joss just as hard as he had threatened, relishing the way only he made Joss this way, got to see Joss this way—uncontrolled, emotions bare, nails biting into Sorrel’s shoulders as he rose up to meet every thrust.
It wasn’t long before Sorrel came, muffling his cries in Joss’ perfect, addictive mouth.
“You are a wretch,” Joss said eventually. “I cannot think why I put up with you.”
“Because I could have strangled you but didn’t,” Sorrel replied, “and I am fantastic in bed, on floors, your desk…”
Joss smacked his chest, just hard enough to sting, in a not entirely unpleasant way.
Sorrel grabbed his hand and pushed it to the rug, then added, “I am also pretty, and according to the experts, that keeps me alive where other men would be dead.”
“You are pretty,” Joss said, and shoved with his free hand, pushing Sorrel off him to tumble to the rug. “I cannot believe—it’s midday and this is my office!”
“And the entire palace knows by now how utterly shameless and wanton you are,” Sorrel replied smugly, stretching out on the remarkably comfortable rug, enjoying the sunlight on his skin.
Joss dropped his clothes on his head. “If this is your idea of revenge—”
“Oh, no, this is just me being petty,” Sorrel replied, slowly pulling his clothes on again, using the windows to repair his cravat. Satisfied he was as good as new, he finally turned back to Joss. He smirked at the way Joss always looked rumpled after one of their tumbles. Reaching out, he smoothed folds of fabric, adjusted the knot of his cravat, until his lover looked as untouched as before.
Save for the flush to his cheeks, the smell of sex mingled with sandalwood that lingered on his skin. Sorrel utterly hated it, but Joss really had made of him the greatest of fools. “I have decided that my real revenge will be to write a book.”
Joss raised his eyes to the ceiling, then pushed him away and returned to his desk. “Let’s have it then, Sorrel. What book are you going to write?”
Sorrel found the key under a chair by the tea table, and bent to pick it up. Moving to the door, he unlocked it, then turned the door knob but did not quite open the door. “My working title is ‘Analyzing Love: My Life Married to a Know-it-All Matchmaker.”
“That is an awful title and you know it,” Joss replied, laughing. “Anyway, you aren’t married to me.”
Ah, revenge was too easy sometimes. “That must be what this ring in my pocket is for, that I was going to give you today until I was harassed into giving a poetry reading. I suppose you shall have to wait until I have free time, now. The life of a famous poet is so busy, you know. No time left for bothersome things like engagements and weddings.”
The look on Joss’ face, the way he had clearly forgotten how to speak, was perfect. Sorrel would remember it, and savor it, always.
“Now, then, I must be off to practice for my reading tomorrow night. Ta, darling.”
Sorrel fled, laughing at the furious bellows that chased him a moment later, slipping down the servant’s hallway so that Joss would not catch him any time soon.