Chapter 21: Facing Truths
I wish to apologize for the length of time since I’ve posted a chapter. I had two accidents. I fell for no apparent reason and injured my foot, ankle, and lower leg. A week later it happened again. I aggravated the first injury and injured my lower back near the tail bone. I am back walking due to now having a cane with 4 small legs on it. The pain is such now that I can concentrate on what the characters are telling me.
A knock at the door had Jared out of bed and moving swiftly to answer it, hopeful that Jensen would remain asleep. Opening the door to a servant, he stared at the man.
“The countess asked that you and the duke join her for luncheon, my Lord.”
“She holds the main meal of the day at luncheon. The countess claims it’s better to eat a heavy meal early in the day.”
“Let her know that we were asleep, and it will take a little while to get dressed.”
“Yes, my Lord,” the servant said and bowed.
Jared stared at the man and watched him head down the hall. He closed the door, shaking his head. “Jensen?”
“I’m awake,” came a mumble from under the comforter. “Told you she was formal, Jared.”
“We need to probably hurry.”
“She’ll wait on us,” the duke replied as he slowly rolled out of bed.
“How do you know,” the taller man asked as he buttoned a shirt.
“She knows we were in bed together. It’s where she wants us,” came the reply with a soft sigh behind it.
The baron grinned. “Jensen, she knows it’s not going to happen on a whim. Your aunt is one very smart woman. She does have us where she wants us though.”
Jensen grabbed his shirt and began to don it with another sigh. “We walked right into her trap.”
“Given the circumstances where else did you have to go?”
The duke was sitting on a chair pulling on his boots, and he looked up at his husband. “You know damn well I had nowhere else to go, Jared. If we went home, Morgan would have had us. We had to see the Bishop before we left town, and the Bishop’s palace is on the opposite side of town from the road home.”
Soon both men were dressed, hair combed, and heading toward the door. Jensen led the way downstairs. Upon entering the hall, he asked the servant where he would find his aunt.
The two men entered the room they had visited the night before. The countess looked up from a book she was reading.
“It took you two long enough,” she commented, looking the two men up and down. “You really went to sleep?”
“That is the basic use for a bed, aunt.”
Jared started choking. The duke looked at him and saw that he was striving not to laugh.
“What is so funny, Jared?”
The countess interrupted, “You are not that naive, Jensen. The bed is the most comfortable place for a romantic tryst. Although I must admit that your uncle and I tried a number of different places through the years.”
Jensen’s eyes widened, he turned blood red, and his mouth opened and closed as if he were trying to come up with a reply and couldn’t think of one. He heard laughter erupt from Jared, who turned and walked from the room.
The duke turned back towards his aunt and hissed, “Aunt Margaret!”
The older woman looked into his shocked green eyes. “I know you two consummated your wedding night. From what little I have come to know of Jared, I believe he probably knows your body and how it responds to the proper caress better than you do, Jensen. So, please quit pretending to be so innocent. If you can look me straight in the eyes and tell me that you laid there like a wet fish and felt nothing and did not respond to him, then I’ll stop my comments. You really would be naive. That would seem impossible to me.”
Jensen’s voice had a choking sound to it as he asked, “Why would that seem impossible?”
The countess stood up and walked towards her nephew. She ran a hand down his cheek and held his chin gently. “Because you’ve been hunted and persecuted your entire life, boy. You’ve never known love. That night you experienced it; I know you did. Your mind and your body would have screamed out for it. I know you would not have been able to deny the need…the desire. Hell boy. It would have been hunger.” She reached up and patted his cheek.
“Give it time,” she murmured as she felt the stiffness leave him. “You’ll want it again when you’re ready. Jared is most willing to wait because he loves you, boy.”
“Aunt Margaret, I’m afraid. I can’t handle being hurt again.”
“We have to take risks for love, Jensen. Give it time. Let’s see where your husband ran off to. I am hungry.”
The two exited the room and found the baron sitting on the stairs, his head in his hands, shoulders shaking.
Jensen walked over and touched the top of his head, running his fingers through the floppy mop of hair. The older man grew still and leaned his head into the duke’s hand.
“I’ll be in the dining room. Join me when you are finished.”
“Thank you, aunt,” Jensen whispered. He kept running his fingers through the older man’s hair. “It’s so soft,” came a quiet comment.
The baron groaned, rising to his feet. He looked at the tear brimmed green eyes and ran his hand down the side of the duke’s face.
Jared’s voice was rough when he spoke, “I want you to know that I love you, Jensen. I am so sorry for all the pain and heartache I have put you through, and I swear I will do everything in my power to make you happy and bring you peace and love. I can and will wait on you. You will never be forced by me in any way for the rest of our lives.”
Jensen heard the earnestness in the voice and leaned into the baron’s hand.
Jensen stuttered as he whispered softly, “If you will give me the time to heal and help me reach that point, then please know that some day I will want that with you. No one else, Jared. Just let me heal.”
Jared gently pulled the smaller man into his arms and held him, leaning his chin on the younger man’s head. “Yes, I will,” he whispered. “Now let’s go before she comes back out with some other insane comment.”
Jensen laughed and pulled back. “We had better do that then. She will do it.”