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THE DUKE’S MAN
By my imprecise reckoning, they came for me on the 450th day of my imprisonment.
The sight of the duke’s bodyguard striding into my cell set my heart to hammering. I had not seen the Spaniard since the day Rodrigo cast me into this dungeon. He had thickened a bit about the waist, but the heavy, cruel face remained unchanged This ordeal would now come to an end, likely spurred by the discovery and confiscation of my journal a fortnight ago.
But what would that ending be? The axe to ensure the duke’s secret was safe? Banishment to some strange, foreign shore where I was free to babel words that would likely not be understood? Or a reversal of fortune? His demeanor gave me no clue.
“On your feet,” Rodrigo ordered in his usual monotone.
I rose from the rude table the guards had provided at my request. The desk remained, but the writing implements and supplies had been removed along with my journal.
Putting a playful but not disrespectful banter into my voice, I asked, “To what do I owe this honor?”
He spun on his heel. “Come with me.”
I trailed him into the corridor where two slovenly guards stood respectfully as we mounted a flight of rough, cold stone steps. The upper reaches of the cavernous room swirled with the acrid smoke of torches dimly lighting the area below. My spirits took a lift when we reached the main floor of the castle and headed for the servants’ quarters. There Rodrigo indicated I should strip and bathe in the murky water of the common bath. Then he rushed me to the pool reserved for a higher class of servants where I again soaped myself, this time in cleaner water, luxuriating in the aroma of ordinary lye soap.
That done, Rodrigo indicated a razor and instructed me to remove my beard. A good sign. An axe man might rebel at executing a smelly wretch but would not permit a beard to bother him.
I felt rather grand in a plain tunic and ordinary hose and inhaled the perfume of red and pink roses as we crossed the baily to the great hall. The subdued chatter of others going about their duties fell pleasantly on my ear. When we climbed the balustraded staircase to Duke Raymond’s private quarters, halls draped with the black bunting of mourning set me to shivering. Was Diego taking me to view the corpse of my one-time lover? Was I to join him? I took a shaky breath, half hoping the grief-notes were for the Dowager Duchess Eleanora, the bane of my youth. She somehow saw early on what neither her son nor I suspected lurked within us.
For better than a decade, I had been Raymond’s whipping boy—and his companion. As such, I trained with him and studied with him. He proved superior in weapons and warfare, but I excelled at scholastics. And a rising friendship ripped asunder the barriers of rank and privilege.
Thus, I knew not what to expect when Rodrigo pounded on the entrance to the duke’s private apartments before opening the door and entering. My heart leapt when I saw the familiar form of Raymond de Cheville, Seventh Duke of Dormont, standing in the middle of the room, obviously awaiting our arrival. He held his visage stern until he waved Rodrigo away, and then he loosed a huge smile.
“Hugh Druxman,” he boomed. “Good to lay eyes on you, my friend.”
Biting back a sharp retort, I bowed. "My lord.”
“Set aside all that nonsense when we’re alone. I am still the Mundo of our carefree days.”
I gazed on him frankly. He remained fair and boyish—and handsome. Yet there was a subtle maturity I had not noted before. “I am not certain I remain the Hugh of those times,” I ventured to say.
He frowned before grinning the grin of our adolescence. “Come now. I did what I had to do to provide for the line. Yes, I confined you, but I also I saw that you were not treated like an ordinary criminal. You received decent food and were given the leisure of exercise to keep fit.” He paused. “I have read your journal and know that you understood.”
I inclined my head. “Yes, I knew that what we had discovered between us might well deny you an heir to the title. So you stowed me away out of harm’s way until you were ready for me.” Could he hear the bitterness churning in my gut?
His eyes grew shadowed. “And danger was more eminent than either of us knew. I learned the duchess”—he referred to his mother, of course—“had plans for you. Even from the Abbey where she retired, she reached out to harm you. I learned shortly after our wonderful night together that you would have been struck down.” He turned and walked toward his bedchamber. “That threat has been eliminated.”
His words caused my blood to slow. Had he murdered his own mother? Was the black cloaking the castle for her? Mundo paused to watch me finger a smooth, black silk drape over a gilded mirror.
“The mourning is for my wife.” He must have seen the surprise on my face because he returned to my side. “I thought word would have reached your ears. But I see you are ignorant of what has happened.”
He took me by the arm and led me into the bedchamber as he explained that during my “isolation,” he had married and bedded a wife. The Duchess Matilda successfully bore him a healthy son but died in the doing of it. I read sorrow on Mundo’s face. Had he found true love?
He read me well, this childhood playmate of mine. He saw my confusion. “I loved her, Hugh. She was good and kind and brave. But she was not strong enough for both of them, and she gave her life for his. For my son Goodrich. I honored her by waiting the end of the mourning period before sending for you.”
“I am sorry for your loss.” The words were automatic, unfelt although not unmeant.
“How do you regard me, Hugh?” Uncertainty hid somewhere in his voice.
I permitted a smile to reach my face. “Unchanged. I am fond of you.”
“Fond? As a man or as a ruler?”
I lowered my gaze. “As a man. As a… a lover.”
He reached for me and enfolded me in his strong arms. “I have dreamed of this moment. Can we recapture the excitement of that night a year and a quarter ago? I would like to try.” With that, he lifted my chin—he was half a hand taller than I—and laid his lips on mine.
A weakness struck me at the touch of those lips. Every hair on my body tingled. Waves of goosebumps swept over me. Then a fierce hunger rose, bringing with it strength and recklessness. I clutched him closer and ground my lips against his. His mouth slackened, and I invaded it with an eager tongue. He moaned and tore himself away from me. His intense gaze held a hint of wonder. Without a word, he led me to the bed. I pulled his gown from him and pushed him onto the mattress. He watched with rising excitement as I tore the clothing from myself. When I stood naked before him, he reached out and grasped my throbbing rod.
“Oh, Hugh,” he whispered.
Those two words released me. I fell on him and covered his face and neck with hot kisses. I slid down is hard, wiry body to suckle his nipples, causing him to squirm beneath me. His navel had always fascinated me, even before I was permitted to touch it. Deep and dark and mysterious. Now I invaded it with my tongue. His long, hard manhood throbbed against me, demanding attention. I slipped my lips over the big, bulbous head and swirled my tongue around it. He pulled my head down on him, and it was as if there had been no interruption, no long, cold, months of separation. He was mine; I was his.
I sensed his approach to the edge and just before his release, I came off him and slid up to kiss his mouth, already in rictus from his anticipated ejaculation. I hooked my elbows beneath his knees and pulled his legs up. His fundament rose toward me. With one hand, I guided the tip of my rod, already dripping from excitement, to his sensitive rosebud. His eyes flew wide open as I stroked that sensitive place. Gently testing. Teasing.
After a long, hesitant pause, he brought his legs around me, pressing me to him. His flesh parted. I entered him. At the pain etched on his face, I faltered and lost my courage. But his eyes cleared and he stared at me as his legs closed on my buttocks, driving me deeper.
Encouraged, I began to move. Everything—possibly even my life—depended upon what came next. So I rutted like an animal, pounding into him, exciting his internal tissues. But as I worked, something claimed me. My resentment of what he had done fell away, and tender emotions took control. I slowed my pace and eased my thrusts into loving lunges. I kissed him, and he matched my fervor.
I know not how long we kept at it, but it seemed too long to endure, too short to enjoy. I erupted, spewing semen into him accompanied by long gasps and loving words. Once through my extraordinary ordeal, I grasped his hard, hot core and brought him to orgasm with my spent rod still embedded in him.
He came suddenly, with copious spurts of seed and spastic jerks of his manly body. After what seemed a very long ejaculation, he grew still and quiet. He turned on his side, and I knew this was the crucial stage of our dance of love. I had dared what I did based on one thing. When we swam in the nearby river in youthful days, he had always taken pleasure in drying his private parts by pulling the toweling between his legs so that it bit deep between his round buns. I had noted it and remembered it. And tonight, I had tested my belief that his fundament was key to his sexual pleasure… and something his dead duchess could not give him.
Perhaps I had miscalculated. Frightened by his turning away from me, I moved to rise. His hand grasped my arm, although he said nothing. I lay down again, my body molded against his long back. In time, I realized he slept, a reassuring sign. Yet, I remained alert and uncertain—even alarmed—until sometime in the middle of the night when he ground his handsome buns hard against my groin.
It seems that Hugh is “back on top” so to speak. Who knows, we might see Hugh and his Mundo again sometime in the future.
Please let me know what you think of the story at firstname.lastname@example.org. I received more comments (and requests for additional stories) about The Duke’s Valet than any other post. Let’s see if this sequel elicits as much interest.
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