It was something of a shock to realize that it’s been four weeks since I last posted on my blog! I never was one of those folk who blogged regularly but these last few months posting on my blog has become absurdly random. I would like to be able to post something new and exciting but at the moment I don’t have anything suitable. Instead I thought I’d give you an excerpt from something I wrote a while ago but never quite finished: it’s part of a sequel to my historical novella, Smoke Screen, and I never even got as far as deciding on a title, though one idea I quite liked was…
Richard’s lip curled with distaste. “I was the one robbed, expected to pay for your paramour to live in luxury. Your brother lived off me for over a year, be grateful I did not demand the money back. He would be in debtor’s prison instead of using some other unsuspecting husband to pay his way.”
“That is a lie! You know Peter is not like that.” Katerina stopped, taking deep breaths to calm herself. “He loved me, he still does, wherever he is now.”
Listening to the exchange, Julian wondered if Katerina really knew exactly where Peter was. After their confrontation last year, when Katerina threatened to expose Julian’s burgeoning relationship with Richard and her husband challenged her liaison with her so-called brother, Peter had retreated with much less fuss and recrimination than either man had expected.
Katerina too, after her first outburst, had accepted Richard’s conditions much more easily than he believed possible. The fact that Richard and his wife each had something to hold over the other in the censorious society of London’s upper echelon, made each dangerous to the other and Julian had been on the lookout from some further threat or retaliation from Katerina, but it had never materialized. And the quiet acquiescence of her Russian lover, Peter, in quitting the house that Richard had provided had been unforeseen. Richard admitted to Julian later that he had been prepared to resort to bargaining to protect their deadly secret. The only explanation they could think of was that it was more important to Katerina to keep the lifestyle she craved, even at the cost of her lover it appeared.
No, Julian would not have been surprised if Katerina knew exactly where Peter was.
Mirroring Julian’s thoughts, Richard barked a laugh, “I am supposed to believe you don’t know where he is? Come, Katerina, I know you better than that. I wish I didn’t believe how duplicitous you are but…”
“Me?” she interrupted, incredulous. “You say that to me with your lover in the room with us – your… what is the word?”
Richard stepped closer to his wife. “I will not allow you to insult Julian. I have made it clear before, your disagreement is with me. Julian does not concern you.”
“I wish that were the case,” she said quietly, staring at Julian directly for the first time. The look in her eyes did not equate to the tone of her voice and Julian felt distinctly uncomfortable.
“Oh, please,” Richard declared. “Don’t pretend to be the injured party here, you are not. You married me because you recognised I could introduce you into the type of society you craved, while at the same time using my funds to keep your lover in the lap of luxury. Our marriage was never more than a sham.”
“And it meant more to you? You used me as much for…for scenery as I did. A way to hide your real proclivities as a Sodomite!”
Richard strode across the room to open the library door. In an icy voice, he announced, “I will leave for the country tomorrow, Katerina. I am sure you will enjoy yourself sampling the best that London society can offer while I am away.”
Head high and back straight, Katerina swept past him and out into the hallway without another word.
“Well that was unpleasant,” Richard said, leaning against the library door, ensuring it stayed closed. “Come, take the sour taste from my mouth,” he added, a hand held out to Julian.
“Chard,” Julian muttered, shaking his head, but still moving towards him. Richard gathered him in his strong arms, held him close as he searched out Julian’s oh-so-willing mouth. The kiss was both tender and demanding as Julian opened up to let Richard plunder his mouth, both men sighing at the contact.