Lunch was even better than the day before and their peach pie was absolutely divine. James had relaxed by the time we were through and I made a mental note not to get so involved in conversations that didn't include him. I should have realized how excluded he'd feel with everybody speaking the language but him.
I wouldn't forget again.
After lunch, we walked in a different direction and found a quarter that had shop after shop of clothing and personal grooming supplies. We followed our noses and soon had three different creams that might do when we made love. I showed him how to test a cream on the soft skin on the inside of his wrist, explaining that the thinness there would quickly show him if any allergens were present.
One made him itch almost immediately and he eyed the jars with more respect while he thought about what would have happened if I'd spread it inside of him. I assured him that usually the problem was the scent and not the cream itself. One of them smelled very faintly of the ocean and I noticed that he immediately chose that one to test. We both liked it and bought a jar to try later.
In a little shop three doors down from the store that had the sea breeze cream, I found some lovely-shirred shirts with billowy sleeves that laced up the front. James tried on a blue one that matched his eyes and I could feel myself begin to harden at the beautiful sight of my lover looking like a buccaneer from the days of old.
I must have had a rather lustful look on my face because he blushed rosy red and dropped his eyes while he carefully removed the shirt. But then it was his turn when I tried on the burgundy version. His hand stroked my chest, pressing in the fine cotton over my peaking nipples.
"You look like a pirate captain, Artemis." He blushed again and I immediately began to write a new story.
"We shall see what we can do, James." I promised him and we didn't leave until we'd bought the shirts in every color in both our sizes. The shop clerk was smiling broadly when he bowed us out and promised to deliver our purchases to the hotel at once.
Further down the street, we came upon a boot maker with a display of boots that drew us inside. He fitted James with a pair of knee high black riding boots that made him look quite wicked. But the pair of soft thigh-high boots that I drew on made James bite his lip in the same reaction that he had when I pulled on a pair of leather gloves.
The buccaneer play was looking better and better.
Those purchases went back to the hotel too while we kept walking down the fascinating little street. An art gallery's wide windows drew us in and I watched James look at the art with puzzled eyes. Some of it mimicked the old masters but only succeeded in looking half finished. Until, on a rear wall, we found an oil painting of two horses, one black and one white grazing in a pasture with trees ringing them. I checked the signature and realized that I knew the artist.
"I like this one, Artemis. You can tell that he knows horses." James moved to another angle to catch the light.
"She knows horses, James. Rosa Bonheur is probably the most famous artist in Paris right now. Or rather outside of Paris." I smiled reminiscently. "Her chateau is known for its horses and vineyards. She gives lovely parties that last for several days. Her most famous picture was first exhibited in 1854 and it was called the Horse Fair."
"A woman artist? She's very good." He nodded with a smile that made me melt.
We bargained with the gallery owner and for three hundred dollars became the proud owners of a Bonheur. Our walls were going to be quite eclectic by the time we were done. It was late afternoon before we finished our buying spree back at the hotel. We had quite a few packages to unwrap and I chose the white shirt for James to wear after dinner.
Deciding to eat at the Singing Swan so we didn't have far to return, we went down for a very good dinner of steak and steamed asparagus. The cucumber soup we started with appealed to my taste buds and I gave my compliments to the chef via our server. I tried to figure out the seasonings and their proportion to each other while James watched me wide-eyed and I wrote down in my pocket notebook, the spices I recognized.
But that didn't keep me from enjoying the rest of the meal all the way up to the raspberry sorbet we had for dessert. James was excited about our evening game and I gave him the choice between the Chinese play or the pirate story. He bit his lip before choosing the pirate tale so long as I wore my new boots.
I smiled at him and promised him a play that would fulfill all his desires. He beamed happily at me and polished off his dessert. When we returned to our room, I helped him dress in his tight black pants, the new white shirt and his new boots. I loosened his laces so his beautiful nipples peeked out and he shivered when I smoothed my hands over his ass.
Then I used one of our silk ties to blindfold him and another to bind his hands behind his back. Positioning him at the foot of the bed, I bade him stay there until I came back. Opening the bathroom door so he could hear me, I began to dress myself.
"You are the Captain of Her Majesty's Crown ship the London Lady. I am the pirate you've been chasing all over the Caribbean and unfortunately caught up with this afternoon. We fought hard, back and forth from your ship to mine but once your ship began to sink, you gave your parole to save your men." I adjusted my own laces to show off a little more chest hair through the burgundy strips.
Sitting down to pull on the butter-soft boots, I continued on with the story. "I brought all of us to my secret island islet and your men are sequestered in the stockade. But I have had you brought to my ... private quarters to speak about what happens next."
Moving back into the room, I turned down the bed and left only a single light on. His head turned to catch where I was and I stroked his head slowly while he caught his breath. "Captain West, I've heard that you've been given the special job of bringing me in for justice. Well, now that you have me, what are you going to do with me?"
I pulled off the blindfold and stood aside to let him see me. He gulped and swallowed hard before using his prim voice. "It would be best, Pirate Gordon, if you were to give yourself up to my custody and not commit anymore crimes against the Queen's justice."
"Give myself up, my delectable young Captain?" I put my hands on my hips and laughed. "That's not what's on my mind at the moment but perhaps you can tell me something that will change my wicked ways."
He stood up gracefully, even with his hands tied behind his back and faced me with his head held high. "You are wanted for so many crimes that it would take me half an hour to list them all. An informer gave us your location and even if you kill me, there will be another to take my place and another to give away your plans."
I cupped his chin and drew him closer so he could feel Artie swelling against him. He bit his lip and it took all my will power not to kiss him there and then. "Sweet Captain, the informer had his instructions and I didn't want another to find me. But I did want to meet you so I made sure that it would be on my terms instead of yours."
He frowned. "But why would you want to meet me, your sworn enemy?"
I leaned in and finally kissed him, holding his neck so he couldn't back away. But he opened to me so sweetly that I almost forgot the play. After feasting on his tempting lips, I drew back and moved my hands down over his chest, tweaking his nipples to hard peaks.
"My sweet little captain, you are the most tempting sailor currently sailing the seven seas. Are you sure that you don't know why I wanted to get my ... hands on you?" I smoothed a hand over his rock hard cock, outlined so nicely by his tight pants. I felt him tremble and I could have sworn that for a moment he completely forgot where we were.
"Certainly not." He cleared his throat and stood up straighter. "I expect to be treated the way an officer of her Majesty's Navy should be treated."
"Oh, I plan to treat you the way you should be." I circled him, bumping up behind him so I could kiss the back of his neck and that spot behind his ear that always heated his flesh to a blood-red flush. "You have invaded my dreams and my sea lanes, my fine ... young ... captain. Now, I plan to invade you."
"That's ... that's not at all a civilized response to the situation. If you plan on torturing me, you must know that I will resist." His voice faltered when I pinched his nipples.
"Good. I wouldn't expect anything else from such a fine officer." I wrapped him in my arms and felt him tremble when I slid my hands up underneath his shirt. With Artie swelling against his crease, he was back to biting his lip. "Have you ever flogged one of your men, Captain West? Or perhaps been flogged by one of your Admirals?"
"Of course not!" He said indignantly. "That's barbaric."
"Well then, you can only expect a barbarian like myself to enjoy such an act. It's a pity that my cat-o-nine-tails is out being cleaned." I bit his ear then stepped back to bring his shirt up over his head, trapping his hands further behind him. "Such lovely skin you have. It would be a pity to mar it with red stripes that sting and burn."
He shook in my arms while I slowly unbuttoned his pants to let his cock spring free. Then pulling down his pants, I sat on the edge of the bed and tipped him over my knees to start his 'flogging'. He squirmed and protested all the while raising his hips to my hand. When he was glowing bright red, I smoothed my hands over his satin smooth skin.
"Now, my lovely Captain, I believe it's time for you to walk the plank." I let my fingers slide down his crease and tickle the backs of his balls before pressing the nerve to keep him from coming.
"Walk the plank?" He twisted his head to look at me with such bewilderment that I couldn't help smiling.
"It's a saying we have in the piracy trade." I smiled at him before picking him up and laying him on the bed so I could remove his boots and pants. "Did you know that on my ship, the crew and I share whatever plunder we win? This trip has provided me with two of the prettiest sapphires it has ever been my pleasure to see. I'm looking forward to looking at them everyday for the rest of my days."
James, part two
His hands kept stroking me and I could feel Jim aching to release but he just kept on moving me higher and higher in the bed until my head was on one of the pillows. My poor shirt was tangled beneath me and my hands were still tied but the feel of those soft leather boots between my legs was making me weep salty tears of longing.
"There weren't any sapphires on my ship." I arched up a little to get more of his touch.
"Indeed there were, my dear Captain," he held Jim tightly at the base before licking him from root to tip. I shook with the need to come and tossed my head back and forth on the pillow. "But at the moment, I see that you had a weapon hidden in those tight pants of yours. I'd better disarm you before it goes off and hurts someone."
Then his hot, wet mouth was surrounding me and I thrust up twice and came so hard, I blacked out. When I came to, my hands were tied to the headboard and I was completely naked. Artemis had removed the burgundy shirt that made him look so beautifully wicked and two of his pants buttons were undone so that I could see the bulge that Artie was making.
"A very lovely weapon, Captain West, and one that I look forward to unloading over and over again." He was propped on one arm at my side while his leg lay between mine, nudging my balls.
"What do you think you're doing, Pirate Gordon? That was ... was not like anything I've ever felt before." I was pretty sure that Captain West would be rather bewildered by someone sucking on his cock after spanking him.
"My innocent Captain, what are they teaching in the Admiralty these days? Why when I went through, I learned all sorts of lovely ways to disarm weapons, shoot at targets and last but never least ... walk the plank." He played with my nipples and I couldn't help but arch into his hand. "I can't believe that your instructors would be so foolish as to let such a beautiful sailor go so untutored."
"What would you know of the Admiralty and naval training?" I bit back a groan when his leather clad knee rocked against my balls. Jim was coming back to life.
"Goodness, Captain West, didn't you know that I was a graduate of the class of 1858? Top of my class and all set to become the youngest Admiral in the Fleet when tragedy happened." He sighed sadly and seemed to idly stroke Jim while lost in his thoughts.
"What tragedy?" I couldn't help asking while wondering how to get him to kiss me again. I missed his taste most dreadfully.
"I beat Admiral Snelling in a game of chance. He accused me of cheating, I took exception and he called to the guards to keelhaul me. I had to flee with my reputation in tatters. If there's one thing I dislike, it's a poor loser." He shook his head. "But enough about me, we were talking about my share of the plunder and the pretty blue sapphires that are so beautiful. Not to mention the walking of the plank."
His hand stroked my chest and he leaned in to suckle on my nipple while I fought the urge to beg him to fuck me. I thought I knew what he meant but I didn't think that an unaware Captain West would so I'd have to ask.
"What sapphires? And this is entirely the wrong place to walk the plank." I told him haughtily.
"These sapphires, sweet captain." And he kissed my eyes gently before moving down a bit and caressing my lips. I couldn't help opening to him, so eager was I for the taste of his mouth.
We kissed for a long time, trading tongues and tasting the spices from dinner that still remained. When he pulled away, I couldn't help my whimper at the loss of his heat and he smiled so tenderly at me that I all but purred.
"They are the only jewels that I have ever wanted and I intend to keep them safe in my care forever." He assured me.
"But they don't belong to you and ... and I could never become a pirate like you." The captain-side of me didn't want to give in but the lover-side of me wanted more kisses.
"Ah, I think that once you've walked the plank, my innocent captain, you might just change your mind. I'll need to prepare you first. Are you sure that you've never walked the plank before? Maybe after the lights went out in the naval dormitories?" He rolled off the bed and put one leg up to slowly slide the boot off.
"After lights out, we weren't allowed to do anything but sleep." I told him while my eyes avidly watched the other boot come off.
"How very sad for you, my Captain. But how very nice for me to be the first one to initiate you into the perils ... and pleasures of plank-walking." He undid one button then another and another until Artie sprang free and I bit my lip at how hard he was.
"Why ... why are you getting undressed, Pirate Gordon?" I said while watching him slide the black pants to the floor before standing proudly before me.
"Walking the plank must be done while naked, Captain West." He smiled down at me before moving to the foot of the bed and pulling me towards him until my arms were stretched tight above my head. "How very beautiful you are, James. May I call you James? It seems I've known you ever since that day two years ago when I first saw you on the quarter-deck of the London Lady."
He unscrewed the lid of the new cream we'd bought that morning and I could just catch the faint scent of the sea that had drawn me to it. "Now, since you've never walked the plank before, I'll just get you ready. Over you go."
Turning me so I lay face down, he spread my legs and knelt between them. When I felt the first cool finger enter me, I couldn't help but groan. That always felt so very good. His chuckle told me that he knew what I was feeling but then he always knew me better than I knew myself.
"That's a very ... very intimate thing you're doing, Pirate Gordon. Why are you putting cream inside of me? Oh-h-h." I moaned when he sparked my gland.
"It's very hot here in the tropics and walking the plank can be very warming so I always apply a cool cream first. And the way you're sweating tells me that you need a little more cooling down." He had three fingers inside of me and Jim was hard as a rock beneath me.
"Oh please, I'm burning up, Pirate Gordon. Please do something to put out the fire." I said breathlessly while moving restlessly on the cool sheets.
"Ah, you're ready to walk the plank then." He chuckled and removed his fingers. I felt the soft crown of his cock press against my hole and I tried to relax and let him in. He pushed until he was through that first tight ring of muscle and I bit my lip at the lovely burning sensation. "Now, relax for me so I can come all the way inside."
I tried, I really did but for some reason he felt bigger than ever before and part of me thought he was just too big to fit inside of me. That's when I felt his hands stroking my lower back while he stayed still, just within my entrance. Taking a deep breath, then another, I finally relaxed enough for him to slide all the way in.
My legs straddled his hips and Jim pulsed in the 'v' of his thighs. "My sweet captain, how beautifully you walk the plank. I shall make sure that you walk it every morning and every night. But you're so very tight that I think I shall have to make you a plug that you can wear all the time. That will help you stretch all those lovely muscles of yours so I don't hurt you."
"You say you learned this in the naval academy?" I was still taking deep breaths but finally felt I could venture a flex or two around the bulk that filled me.
"Goodness, yes. Training has obviously gone down hill since I was there. A tasty morsel like you would have never gone untrained in my day." He rocked in and out a little. "How is the warmth, James? Hot enough for you?"
"Yes, it's hot. So very hot that I'm burning up inside. I thought the cream was supposed to cool the heat?" I gasped and pushed back at the same moment that he thrust in. I felt as if I was boiling.
"Such heat as yours would defeat the coolest of creams. You are the king of the plank-walkers, my James. Now that I've experienced you, I shall never be able to let anyone else walk my plank." He leaned down and kissed my spine all the way up to my sensitive hairline.
Suddenly I was jealous, even though I knew it was only a play. "I think that's a very good thing, Pirate Gordon. I need to bring you back to the side of right and if that means walking the plank until you see the error of your ways then I will."
"Ah, such dutiful fervor." He bit my earlobe then nibbled his way across my neck to the other one, which he also bit. "I'm a very possessive pirate, James. You will never walk the plank with anyone but me. I shall keep you chained in my cabin, away from the other pirates who would like to steal my captain of the sapphire blue eyes."
"Oh!" I shook around him and only his pressing of the nerve kept me from coming. "Yes, please keep me close to you and I'll be glad to walk the plank with you every day."
"Ah, you shall be my first mate and cabin boy all rolled into one delicious package, my sweet James." He was moving faster now and I could feel the burn all the way down to my toes. "Once we're at sea again, I think you and I shall take the late watch. While you're steering the ship, I'll unfasten your pants and slide my cock inside your tight sheath. Or maybe we'll climb to the crows nest and I'll take you while you hang over the edge, thirty feet above the deck with my cock the only thing that's keeping you from plunging to your death."
My imagination was filled with the word pictures he was painting for me. I shook at the strength of his thrusts and seized at the same moment that he flooded me with his heat. I must have passed out again because when I came to, I was cradled in his arms. He lay beneath me and the sheets were pulled up over us so we were cocooned in warmth.
"Sweet James, please don't ever stop throwing yourself into our plays." He kissed the top of my head and I licked the sweat from his chest before latching onto his right nipple and sucking hard. "How very nicely you walked the plank."
I chuckled and let go so I could raise my head. "Now the dungeon will have to be a pirate's cabin too."
Artemis, part three
I laughed into his sparkling eyes. "Indeed it will, sweetheart. I believe it will also be the Emperor of China's summer sanctuary where an intrepid explorer will learn more about the Chinese than he ever thought to know."
He smiled sweetly at me and went back to sucking my nipple. I'd never had such fun writing stories and I wondered if there might be a wider audience for them then just the two of us. "James, if I wrote under a pseudonym, would you mind if I took some of our plays and sent them to an old friend in New York?"
He thought for a long moment before letting go of my well-loved nipple. "I think it would be inspiring for other lovers to have your stories. I know that I would have never dreamed there were so many ways to make love."
"My James, how very wonderful you are." I watched him blush and wondered when he would grow used to compliments. "When winter sets in, I shall begin to write them down. Of course, we shall have to test each one so we know that they work."
James grinned down at me. "I love being a part of one of your scientific experiments, my Artemis. It wouldn't do to send out an untested story. We shall have to have several rehearsals just like they do in the real theater."
"Exactly, sweetheart. It will keep us happy and content during those long days when we're snowed in with nothing to do." I caressed his back and he wiggled just a little over Artie who decided to wake up again. Only James could harden me for a third time within such a short space of time.
"I think maybe Captain Jim would like to walk Pirate Artie's plank again." He pinched both my nipples and they immediately hardened for him.
Slipping my hands down over his warm cheeks, I checked his entrance to be sure there was enough cream left inside to smooth my way. "Well, it appears you're right, my young cabin boy. I think that you'll be so stretched tomorrow that I won't need to put your plug in."
He shivered and the sultry look appeared that I'd only begun to see a few weeks ago. "Oh, I don't know, my hearty pirate, I shrink so easily that maybe I need to be ... stretched for your pleasure. Perhaps, we could go to sleep with Artie inside of me where it's warm."
I groaned when he slipped off me and slid to my side. "What a lovely idea, my innocent cabin boy. I believe I have something in my pirate chest that will help." I turned as well and used my leg between his to open him for my cock. He gasped and moaned a little while I slid inside of his velvet soft channel.
"Oh there, my lusty pirate of the giant cock. How very good you feel inside of me and how very kind of you to further my education this way." He flexed around me, pulling my arms around him and hugging them close.
"Perhaps I should start a Pirate Academy to teach young sailors about weapons and collecting treasure and walking the plank." I thrust in just a little and heard him sigh. He pressed back against me and we began that rocking that always seemed so essential to our late night loving.
"That's a good idea but I'm afraid that I will have to be your only pupil, Pirate Artemis. Young captain cabin boys are notoriously slow to learn and I'll need constant lessons and practice sessions before I could possibly graduate." He smiled over his shoulder at me and I snatched a quick kiss before going back to rocking with him.
It lasted a long time before he clenched around me once too often and I gave him the remainder of my seed. He spasmed in my hand and we rested until he pushed me out. Then we found the energy to get up and clean ourselves before coming back to bed and a dreamless night of deep sleep.
He was full of energy the next day and we spent the morning tasting teas at the Wagner Tea Emporium. My favorite tea, the Cha Ching blend, was one of their first teas that they packaged in 1847 when they first offered tea to the public. But they had several new blends to try and the young woman who made the tea for us to taste spoke of the various tea leaves that went into each brew.
I added my memories of tea shrubs and the small, graceful Oriental women who plucked the leaves with their long fingernails in Ceylon. She and James both listened wide eyed while I spoke of the drying rooms on the tea plantations with the palm leaf fans that a youngster kept in constant motion. We chose a new blend they called Russian Caravan and I thought that it would be a nice change.
James enjoyed a robust blend they were calling English Breakfast and he urged me to tell some stories about my trips to England. We passed a most enjoyable morning sipping tea and adding to our store of spices from their plentiful stock. We tried a different restaurant for the noon meal and while the food was good, it lacked the robust crispness of the Fisherman's Café.
We journeyed to Chinatown for the Li's answer after our meal. I knew that I wouldn't be able to concentrate on the rest of our shopping until that was settled. All eyes were upon us when we walked down to Mr. Chang's apothecary. Inside the dimly lit aisles, he waited patiently for us to come to him.
"James, if you don't mind, I'll translate while we speak. All right?" I looked down into his rather anxious blue eyes and saw the merest glimpse of uncertainty there. "We can simply say we've changed our minds, my James. I will not have you feeling uncomfortable in your own home."
He smiled hesitantly. "It's our home, Artemis. And sooner or later, we're going to have others with us. Could we maybe tell them that we want them to come after we've got their cottage built?"
"Of course, we can." I returned his smile and brushed an imaginary piece of lint from his shoulder. "Let's go see if we have a housekeeper."
We finished our walk to the back and after the ritual bowing, I asked after Mr. Chang's health and the health of his family. We spent a few moments being polite but his eyes told me that it was all right to ask about Mrs. Li and her daughter. With a few brief questions, he probed our relationship, finances and intentions. I gave him the answers he needed and he bowed once again while giving his permission for them to come and work for us.
However, he had a slight addition to the plans. A young kinsman was in need of a job working with a garden and he recommended him to us. I explained to James and he nodded immediately. We both realized that he would be protection for the women. With that adjustment, we left the elderly man with another bow and the flowery language the Chinese loved.
Crossing the street to the rug emporium, we met with the younger Chang and passed his inquisition before he accompanied us to his sister's shop. They spoke briefly and I thought I might have caught a glimpse of relief in her dark eyes. The Chinese are notoriously poker-faced but I hoped that this relationship would work out for all of us. Translating for James every few moments taxed my concentration but the interested way he followed along made it all worth it.
He was the important one and I wanted him completely comfortable with every step of this process. Young Ling made a brief appearance with her baby and when I asked his name, she whispered 'Ping'. He laughed at me when I tickled his cheek and James' smile glowed on both of us. I had hopes that through his interaction with this child, he might regain more of his own childhood.
I asked the important question about timing, furniture and the cottage. Chang and his sister conferred for several minutes while James and I spoke quietly near the door. He wanted to know if we'd have time to swing by the bookstore that Denver had mentioned to us when we had dinner after the theater. We really didn't have a schedule and I assured him that we'd make the time to find more books for our shelves.
James wanted a good history of China and I concurred. This trading port should have brought all kinds of wonderful books about the ocean voyages of those intrepid explorers to these shores and our library would be the perfect place for them to continue to enlighten us. The bookstore was one that I hadn't heard of before but with the name, the Hungry Mind, it was sure to be a good one.
Chang spoke up and I went back to the bargaining session. It was agreed that we'd build a two-bedroom cottage for the Li's and young Wong who would be coming with them. They would provide all furnishings and we would ship them north with at least a two week notice to the Li's for packing purposes. The salary of $75 a month was agreed upon for cleaning, sewing and cooking with another $50 for gardener Wong. James nodded silently and I breathed a sigh of relief.
I had no idea what salaries should be but his decisive nod told me that they weren't too out of line. We were really on our way to a working establishment and that was a relief to me. I knew how absentminded I could be when in the midst of an experiment and James deserved to have his meals on time when I'd forgotten to cook. Of course, I didn't know what Mrs. Li's recipes would be like but I enjoyed most Chinese dishes.
Everyone bowed to everyone else and Mrs. Li handed me a package with the shy statement that they were our robes that I'd originally ordered before delivering a baby. James' eyes lit up and I could see he was looking forward to the play about the Intrepid Explorer and the Emperor. Chang gave me their address to which we'd send word of the completion of the cottage and our errand was complete.
We walked from Chinatown with a light step and caught a cab to the Hungry Mind. The shining bow-front window held selected new books in their gleaming leather covers. The front door was painted an emerald green with a shiny brass kick plate and doorknob. Everything was sparkling clean and I had a premonition that we'd be spending both time and money in this elegant store.
James looked eagerly about as we entered, preceded by the tinkling of a bell at the roll top desk in one corner. The proprietor looked up and greeted him while my mind tried to figure out why he looked so familiar. He shook hands with James and turned to me, raising an eyebrow when he greeted me.
"Fergus?" I met his hand and shook it warmly.
"Aye, Artemis, it's been a long time, indeed since we hoisted a few in that pub in London." His rich Scottish accent reminded me of almost fifteen years before on my first trip to London.
"James, I'd like to introduce you to an old friend, Fergus MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. We met back in 1859 on my first trip to England and Scotland." I smiled happily at James. "Fergus, this is my partner, James West."
"Pleased to meet you, James. What are the two of you doing in California?"
James, part four
I was beginning to think that the world was a very small place and my Artemis knew more people than I had ever met. The bookseller was a tall man, even taller than Artemis, with bright red hair. I liked his smile and the friendly way he invited us into his shop. With a few brief sentences, he and my lover caught up on the intervening years.
"We're looking for a history of China, Fergus. And more books to round out our collection of vineyard horticulture." Artemis told him.
"Excellent, Artemis. I've thought for years that with proper plantings, California could produce better wines than those in France. It's a paradise here in these verdant valleys and my wife, Sheila, who was born and raised in San Francisco so she's a wee bit prejudiced," he smiled gently. "She's a firm believer in growing and buying things from our state first and last."
Artemis chuckled and I watched his beautiful smile light up the room. "I can see that she and I will have much in common. James and I have no dinner plans tonight. Could we prevail upon the two of you to recommend a good restaurant and join us?"
"We have no plans that I know of but I can easily check. Our apartments are on the third floor above the shop. While you browse, I'll run up and see if she is feeling like dinner." His grin was unexpected and I thought I caught a hint of a blush. "She's expecting our first child and tires easily these days."
Oh dear, I thought in dismay. Artemis seemed to be attracting pregnant ladies. But Fergus was explaining that she was only six months along and I breathed a sigh of relief. He disappeared up a wrought iron spiral staircase in one corner of the shop while Artemis began to browse among the gleaming bookshelves of polished oak.
His quiet whisper reached me at the same moment that MacLeod's legs disappeared. "I seem to be a baby magnet these days. Thank goodness she has three months to go."
I joined him with a smile. "That's just what I was thinking. Perhaps, it's your aura of quiet competency? Or the way that you can calm men, women and animals?"
"Ah, a bit of the kindly old doctor persona?" His eyes crinkled down at me and I wished we were back in our rooms so he could kiss me. "Sweet James, we shall be private after this stop and I promise that I shall hold you in my arms until we leave for dinner."
"I love the way you read my mind, my Artemis." I started looking at the books near us and almost immediately found two cookbooks that we didn't have. There was another one on French wines and when I showed it to my lover, he nodded approvingly. During the twenty minutes MacLeod was gone, we found twelve books that looked good.
Some illustrated children's books caught my eye and I leafed through the colorful pages of delicate watercolors with a sense of awe at how beautifully the illustrator had caught the fanciful rhymes and turned them into pictures.
"Wouldn't Elizabeth love to have that, James? It's such a lovely rendition of the Tales of Mother Goose." Artemis was looking over my shoulder and he stopped my page turning at the picture of a tower and a beautiful princess asleep. "Ah, Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite fairy tales. I'm tempted to rewrite it for one of our plays."
"I've never heard of Mother Goose, Artemis." I admitted and kept on turning pages while I thought that he was more than capable of turning any story into another fun time for us.
"Dear heavens, James, they are classic children's literature." He frowned and shook his head. "How very neglectful your father was in your education. Oh well, I shall read them to you now and see what you think of them. Get two copies of that one so we'll have one to give away to the school. That reminds me that Mrs. Baker wanted her own copy of Marston's Cookbook that she borrowed from us. I hope Fergus has it."
I watched fondly while he began a through search of the shelves where the cookbooks were. It seemed my education had been very narrow and I looked through the shelves picking out ones that looked intriguing to me. Most of them had illustrations and the ones that made me smile were the ones that I chose. Little Ping would need to be read to as he grew. One of my favorite memories of my mother was listening to her sweet voice recite long poems and words that my young mind didn't yet know.
Maybe that was why I loved to listen to Artemis read aloud? The piles of books on the counter were quite tall when MacLeod rejoined us. His eyes widened when he saw them and he told us that dinner would be a pleasure. We made arrangements to meet them at a restaurant called the Union Jack at eight o'clock. Then he began to help us fill up the rest of the counter.
Artemis found a copy of something that was in French but he just chuckled when I asked him what it was about. 'An adult fairy tale' was what he called it and I caught a glimpse of a beautiful drawing that seemed very sensuous. He translated the title into 'The Arabian Nights' and somehow I just knew that we'd be using it for our plays. It reminded me of the Sheik and the Pleasure Slave, one of my favorites. MacLeod recommended a Danish author of fairy tales and showed us two of Han Christian Andersen's books.
We took them both and I paid with the gold coins that I'd been carrying for the last few days. The new books were more expensive than used and yet I knew how much pleasure they would provide us for years to come so I begrudged nothing. He agreed to crate them up and send them to the rail yards on Friday. That was going to be a very busy day for us but with the week half over, I was already looking forward to going home.
Going home. That wasn't something that I'd ever had before and knowing that now I had one, I could hardly believe it was true. Artemis caught my sudden distraction and we soon left the Hungry Mind with cheery good-byes for our hotel. He held my hand tightly while using his other to point out scenic sights on the steep hills of the city. He stopped at the front desk to order two pots of tea to be sent up to our rooms. The trip up the elevator seemed to take forever but when our door closed behind us and he wrapped me in his arms, I felt all the strain drop away.
"My sweet love, how very hard it is to go so long without touching you." He murmured against my temple and I leaned hard against him. The sound of his heart beating slowly beneath my ear eased the tension and I hugged him tightly while he stroked my hair.
"I've loved everything we've done but it's very hard not to be able to touch and kiss you." I said plaintively and he raised my chin to feather a gentle kiss over my lips. But that wasn't enough and I raised up a little to bring his tempting mouth to mine for a real kiss.
He obliged me instantly and our tongues slid together first in his mouth then in mine. We tasted of lunch and tea and most delicious of all, ourselves. He chuckled when he pulled away to breathe and I pouted at the loss of his tasty tongue. "James, we need to strip off our clothes and take a bath then have a little ... nap so we're well rested for this evening."
I began unbuttoning his coat at once. "What a wonderful idea, my Artemis. I think I need to be cleaned inside and out."
"Really? What a good thing it is that I brought our bag and several of our cleansing herbs with us." He winked at me and stripped my jacket off while attacking my shirt buttons. "We can use the hot water that's coming for our tea to warm it enough for you."
I grinned and marveled at his planning ahead for us. I hadn't seen the bag go into his suitcase. The maid had been in and tidied the room so we would be private. I took the bag into the bathroom when a knock came at the door and I ran the hot water from the tap to start filling it. Artemis brought in the herbal ball and a steaming teapot. While I worked on getting the temperature right, he started the bath water.
He completed undressing me and leaned me over the tub to fill me up with the warm herbal solution. I loved the rush of hot water and when he pushed in my plug, I wiggled all over with the tingling sensations. He smoothed a warm hand over my cheeks and I turned to finish undressing him. Artemis chuckled and let me strip him bare before lifting me into the tub and following me in.
We soaped each other from head to toe and then rested in the hot water while I simmered. I lay on Artemis' chest and watched his face smooth out into the contented lines I liked to see. "What are you thinking about, my Artemis?"
He chuckled. "I'm thinking about how much fun it is to buy books and that booksellers are among the nicest people on the face of the earth. I don't believe I've ever met an unfriendly one and Fergus is one of the best of the breed."
"I liked him and I really liked all the brand new books but there's something nice about a used bookstore too." I kissed him gently just because I could.
Kissing me back, his hands smoothed down my back and grasped each of my cheeks to bring them together then apart. We feasted for a long moment before he answered me. "There are treasures in both kinds of bookstores but I think it must be the thrill of the hunt that leads us into a used shop with the dusty rows of books just waiting to be found."
"It's like rescuing a damsel in distress when we buy an old book that might otherwise be thrown away." I'd been thinking about that after our hours in Peter Harris' bookstore in New York.
"Exactly, sweetheart, that's what I've always thought." He smiled up at me and I basked in the warmth with which he surrounded me. "I think we're beginning to read each other's minds."
"I'd like that, my Artemis. Now, why does the Arabian Nights ring a bell with me if the book has never been translated into English?" I asked him and watched his face crinkle into another smile.
"You'll remember I said the Sultan would abandon Scheherazade after one night with you?"
"Back when I first became your personal pleasure slave, my beloved Sheik?" I teased him and felt Artie surge to life between us.
"The story of the Arabian Nights is their story. The Sultan had an unfaithful wife and after beheading her, he vowed never to be cuckolded again. When he married again, he enjoyed each wife for one night before executing her the next day. Brave Scheherazade thought to free him from his anger so volunteered to marry him. On their wedding night, she told him a story without revealing the ending and he put off executing her so he could hear it. The next night she repeated her success and he had to keep putting off her execution until after 1001 nights of stories and pleasure, he decided to keep her. And they lived happily ever after." He kissed me sweetly while I thought about how alike we were.
Artemis, part five
I wondered what he thought of the abridged version but was not surprised to find that he and I shared the same idea.
"The Sultan and I are the same, my Artemis. Cold and lonely until a beautiful story teller came into our lives to show us what love really is." His blue eyes glowed into mine and I had to kiss him again immediately.
Feeling his stomach ripple against mine, I let him go so he could reach the commode. I pulled the plug on the drain and left the tub to begin drying myself. Applying the washcloth, I cleaned him while he took the towel from me and would have begun to dry me except for my exclamation.
"My lord sultan, you must not humble yourself so. That is my job." I wiped him down and watched him think about this new play. It was an interesting variation on our normal roles and I wondered how he would respond to my being the server rather than the ruler.
"I've never had a male bride before but since I ran out of females willing to marry me," his eyes gleamed up at me, "I'm going to have to get used to it."
"My dearest lord, I shall endeavor to give you all that you need this evening." I rubbed his skin to a rosy hue and he turned for me when I knelt to dry his legs. "Would you think it too forward of me if I asked to suck your royal cock right now?"
He gave a snort of laughter in surprise and I batted my eyelashes at him while he tried to remain stern. "I suppose that I might let you try, my royal mate of the evening, but I prefer the comfort of the bed. Follow me."
I rose and watched him strut into the other room with a haughty air that some people thought was arrogance instead of the simple grace that was James. He lay on the bed and rolled until he was squarely in the middle, his legs splayed wantonly. I knelt at the foot of the bed and waited for his royal command.
"Have you ever done this before?"
"Oh yes, my royal lord, the Harem School of Pleasure made sure that all of your concubines knew how to pleasure you. Please, may I stroke your beautiful cock?" I could see Jim swelling into a completely hard state and Artie wasn't far behind.
"Very well, you have my permission." He stuffed a pillow behind his head so he could watch me move between his legs, my hair teasing his thighs into quivering. "Oh, that feels very nice."
I stroked him slowly and breathed in the musk that always rises from his flesh after a bath. "How very beautiful you are, my lord. May I taste your royal cock to bring you pleasure?"
His eyes were slitted with contentment and he nodded while his hands played with his nipples. I licked him from top to bottom before gently peeling back his foreskin to reveal the crimson head of my favorite cock. He was already weeping a tear of seed and I licked it off before tenderly sucking the crown into my mouth. He groaned a little and moved his hips just a bit to thrust up into my warmth.
I took him in deeper and fluttered my tongue around him while my fingers rolled his balls gently back and forth. Looking up to see him watching me with a smile on his face, I smiled around my mouthful and sucked a little harder. He obliged me by thrusting up more strongly until I could feel him hit the back of my throat. I'd learned sword swallowing from a friend in the circus and it was easy to release my muscles and take him all the way in.
He set the rhythm and I slipped my hands between his legs so I could palm his cheeks and stroke across his entrance, making him shiver for me. Then he surprised me by stilling and patting my cheek with his hand. "That's very nice, my delicious mate of the evening but I think it's time that I see what pleasure can be found in your depths."
I slowly let his cock go. "Please, my most royal sultan, it would be a great honor if you would mate with me. I hardly dared to wish that you might favor me so."
"Fetch some cream from the royal spa so I don't hurt you. Have you ever been with another like this?" He watched me with hooded eyes while I found the cream in my bag and brought it back to the bed. I put it by his side before kneeling on the floor by the bed and dropping my eyes.
"Oh no, my sultan, we are all virgins in your harem. We were taught what to do by the eunuchs but only a finger has ever been inside of me. I wanted it to only be you, my lord, and never dreamed that I would someday be here." Heaven knows that was the honest truth. He was such a miracle to me.
His hand raised my chin and the look of love he gave melted me on the spot. "I value such a gift, my mate, and I promise to be gentle with you. Come up here and lie on your back so I can see this virgin hole that I shall be deflowering."
Positioning me just so on the bed, he began to prepare me with the cream while I held my legs up and apart for him. He was very thorough, the way he always is and I felt greatly cherished when he slowly slid inside of me. Reconnecting like this was always so very special and his eyes told me that he felt it too. Very tenderly, he began the slow thrusting that always brought me the most joy.
"Tell me a story, my royal mate. Perhaps one about a sultan who found the perfect person with whom he could spend a long and happy life." He smiled at me and began to speed his thrusts.
I swallowed hard and tried to keep from coming while he targeted my gland with the sure knowledge he'd gained over the last few months. "Long ago, in a kingdom not very far from here, a weary sultan thought about giving up the search for a mate who would be loyal and true to him alone. It seemed that such a person didn't exist and he began to feel his quest was hopeless. One day when he was walking through the royal gardens, he came upon a humble gardener digging the soil around the royal roses."
James hit my prostate squarely and froze, his grip the only thing keeping me from joining him. He shook himself apart and flooded me with his hot seed before collapsing into my arms. I was painfully hard and rolled us onto our sides to relieve the pressure on poor Artie. Holding him felt so good that I gradually throttled my cock back to manageable levels to give him time to come back to me.
Holding him, after the long day of not touching more than the casual touches allowed between friends, was the closest thing to being home that I'd ever felt in my life. I wanted to do so for the next fifty years if the good Lord saw fit to grant me that much time with him. Stroking the long muscles down his back, I felt the little quiver telling me that he was waking up.
"You didn't come when I did?" He pulled back a little to look at me.
I widened my eyes. "But you didn't give me permission, my lord sultan. They told us in the harem that we weren't allowed to come unless you said we could."
He pushed me flat on the bed and slid his hand around my cock. "Quite right, my beautiful mate. Have you ever fucked another person before?"
"No, my lord, the eunuchs said that I was too big and I should be put to the knife the way they were."
"Never." His eyes flashed fiercely and his grip tightened. "So you've never felt the tightness of a man or woman?"
I shook my head. "They told stories in the harem about the joys of such an act but I knew that I could never feel that because I might hurt someone and I wouldn't ever want to do that."
"Do you want to feel that with me?" His eyes contemplated my cock while his hand gently moved up and down.
"I wouldn't want to hurt you, my wonderful lord and I'm afraid that I would disappoint you with my clumsiness." Hesitantly, I stroked the arm he was propped up on and wondered what was going through his mind.
"You wouldn't hurt me, beloved concubine. I've never seen a more beautiful cock and I'm curious to see what it feels like inside of me. You do know that there is a gland inside of you that feels good when touched?" He found the jar of cream and handed it to me.
"Was that the warmth that filled me when your mighty cock thrust inside of me?" I scooped up some of the cream and waited for him to tell me what to do.
"Yes, that's the spot. Now, take some of the cream and bring it inside of my entrance to smooth the way for your warm cock." He moved over me and licked my crown free of the weeping tear. "I'll just taste you while you loosen me."
I had to clench my teeth at the feeling of his hot wet tongue licking me up and down. But he needed to be loosened and I quickly began to spread the cream inside of him, the velvet walls of his channel rippling around me. "My royal master is the Sultan of Pleasure and does me much honor in allowing me to touch him so intimately. And you are already hardening again, my wondrous master of love."
"The feelings of pleasure that you felt before are now your gift to me, my royal mate. Add another finger so I'm prepared to take you safely inside of me." He flashed a lustful look over his shoulder and I felt my own grin bloom for him.
"You feel so very good to me, my beautiful sultan, that I could release just from the touch of your lips. None of the others wanted to take my cock in their mouths to show me how pleasurable it could be so I always wondered what it would be like to feel warmth all around me." I had him well loosened by now and he groaned just a little when I sparked his gland. "Did I hurt you?"
He pulled off of me and moved off my fingers. "Not at all, my mate of the giant cock, you simply found that sweet spot that makes all men feel good." He turned around and straddled my legs. "Now, take some of the cream and spread it over your cock while I watch you."
I felt a blush cross my cheeks and realized that I wasn't the only one who threw himself into our plays. The hooded gaze was back and it sent a thrill through me while I smoothed cream over Artie's soft skin. He watched me closely, leaning in to pinch the nerve when I almost came just from his look.
"The others were fools not to take advantage of the chance to taste you and feel you inside of them. Your cock is an instrument of pleasure, not one of pain." James positioned himself over me and very slowly pierced himself with me. He was panting at the initial stretch and I watched his eyes to make sure there was discomfort only.
James, part six
It felt like the first time all over again and yet there was a difference in this game we played. I enjoyed the chance to be in control of this most intimate act and I felt as if I was truly initiating him into the secrets of love. My Artemis was an amazing man and he deserved all the tenderness that I could give him to repay the exquisite care in which he wrapped me with his love.
"Are you sure that I feel good inside of you, my compassionate royal mate?" He was slit-eyed with pleasure when I sat fully down upon Artie.
"Quite sure, my tenderhearted concubine. You could never hurt me with your gentle strength. Give me your hands." I rocked a little using his braced arms as my lever. The wonderful warmth of him filled me completely and I smiled down at him. "Now, I shall slowly and tenderly make love to you while your warm cock pleasures me. Tomorrow night, I will show you another way to make love."
He thrust up just a little and sighed happily. "Then you won't have me beheaded tomorrow morning?"
I squeezed around him hard and felt that second heart beat that told me he was close. "Certainly not, my tempting storyteller, you haven't finished the tale of the royal gardener and I want to hear the ending tomorrow night. But right now, we will be silent together while you keep on pleasuring me."
He chuckled silently and thrust up a little harder. Jim was hard and leaking between us but I knew that Artemis would finish him off sooner or later. This time was for him and I squeezed around him to bring out the moan that I loved to hear. His hips snapped up and I swear I saw stars for one bright moment then his hand was wrapped around my cock and I was coming hard all over his chest.
My contractions pulled his seed out in a long burst of liquid warmth that flooded me. I think we both groaned, then he was pulling me down against his chest while his lips sought mine. We kissed for long moments and I sucked on his tasty tongue until I felt him begin to soften.
"My sweet James, what a very convincing Sultan you are. Did you enjoy it?" The hesitant note in his voice brought my head up to look into his eyes.
"It was almost as much fun as being your pleasure slave. May we do it again when we get home?" I wasn't sure what he was thinking.
His slow smile told me that I'd said something right. "There are all kinds of variations that I think you might like. When you told me that the others were fools, I felt as if you'd just knighted me. That I was indeed a normal person with normal needs instead of just a fearsome cock looking to hurt people."
I felt a white-hot anger rise in me at his quiet admission. Not at him but at those other lovers who'd flinched from his size. They were indeed the fools I'd named them. He was so precious to me and I could see the rueful smile he used to defuse situations already forming. This glimpse into his past was a revelation to me and I wondered how to tell him how honored I was.
"There is nothing fearsome about you, my Artemis. And I'm sorry to be so very selfish but I'm glad that the others didn't realize how wonderful Artie is or you wouldn't be here with me now." Leaning down, I kissed him with all my heart.
He opened to me and entwined his tongue with mine while his warm arms hugged me tight. We stayed like that for long moments until Artie slipped from me and we both flinched a little. His eyes glowed up into mine and for a moment, I felt as if our souls kissed as well.
"I love you, my James. All of my life was just a dress rehearsal for the most important role I would ever have the privilege of living . . . your lover."
"I love you too, Artemis." I thought I might know what he was a little indecisive about. "Whenever you need me to take charge of something like I do with our finances, I promise to do my very best. I like taking care of you and being taken care of by you."
He blushed again and I wiggled in delight at the beautiful sight. I'd been right.
"I like all our plays, James, but sometimes I need something a little different. You won't mind if I need you to be the stern Sultan or the busy General?" He rolled us to our sides and cradled me in his arms.
"If you continue to give me what I want and need, I have every intention of giving you what makes you feel good, too. I love making love with you and this was just one of those variations that my loving teacher taught me." I kissed the hollow at the base of his throat and felt his pulse beneath my lips. The busy general sounded like fun.
"Oh, James, how wonderful you are and how very grateful I am that you love me." He rested his chin on my hair while I went foraging for one of his tasty nipples. "I just existed until you came into my life with your bright spirit and tender heart. Thank God, you love me, too."
I bit the brown nub gently and felt him swell. "We're both lucky that we found each other because we fit perfectly together."
He kissed my hair and hugged me a little tighter. "There's an old Greek tale about the beginning of the world when souls played freely upon the Earth until a catastrophe split all of them into two. Now when men and women are born, they spend all of their lives looking for the other half of their souls. How very glad I am that I found mine in you."
I thought about that while I suckled at his nipple. It felt right somehow. We complimented each other in so many ways that it did feel as if everything I'd missed in my life was found when he first loved me. "I think that's a true tale, my Artemis. You filled all the empty spaces of my heart and soul."
"And you filled mine, my sweet love." I heard his sigh and tried to burrow closer into his sweet smelling chest hair. "My dearest James, we need to get up and get ready for our dinner engagement. I hate to let you go but time keeps on speeding by."
I pulled away and looked into his eyes. "Did you forget, silly Artemis, that we're never letting go because we always hold each other in our hearts?"
"Ah yes, you're quite right, sweetheart. I could never forget that." He kissed me gently then rolled off his side of the bed and onto his feet, holding out his hand to me.
Joining him, I hugged him once more. "Later, you can tell me about the busy general and his adjunct."
He chuckled and guided me into the bathroom so we could wash off the signs and scents of our lovemaking. "Rest assured that the play is being written as we speak. Our range of stories just doubled, my James, and I promise that we'll enjoy every single one."
I just smiled and thought about what he'd shown me of his secret heart. While we washed and I watched him shave again, I pondered how such a public man might be wounded in private by the fear he saw in the eyes of the men and women he'd met. His jokes had hidden a deep loneliness that I only now could see because he let me. Perhaps there were cold spaces inside of him too, like the ones inside of my heart.
And perhaps, I was thawing him the way he was thawing me out of the icy walls I'd built around my heart. That made him all the more precious to me and I felt suddenly that I'd grown just a bit wiser in the knowledge of love. Neither of us were knights in shining armor, but two men who had lived through good times and bad before finding the other halves of our souls.
I was incredibly lucky and determined to love Artemis in every way I knew how. Perhaps we could agree on a code phrase that would alert each other to what we needed. I realized with a start that Artemis had finished buttoning my white shirt. He smiled fondly at me.
"Are you back with me, my absentminded James?"
I blushed. "I was thinking about how we could let each other know what we want to ... play."
"Sweetheart, I believe that if we just ask each other for a preference, we will always please ourselves. I love you and can't think of anything you would want to do that I wouldn't enjoy also." He tied my tie for me and straightened it with a tweak.
"I enjoy everything we do, my Artemis." I helped him into his shirt and began buttoning. "But I like it when I'm your virgin partner and you're teaching me about love. It makes me feel like the most cherished person in the whole world. But I enjoy making you feel that way too."
"Whether you are taking me inside of you or coming inside of me, I love your wholehearted concentration on our lovemaking." He smiled at me while I fished his silver cufflinks through the holes on his cuffs. "And you will always be my pure and innocent James, even after we've loved for another forty years."
I finished buttoning him and smoothed my hands over the soft linen that hid all of his beautiful hair. "And you will still be my beloved teacher fifty years from now while we walk on the beach of some seaside resort."
He laughed out loud. "You have a very good memory, my love. However long we have, it shall never be long enough for me to love you all the ways you deserve to be loved. That would take an eternity."
I tucked his shirttails in and made sure that I petted a quiet Artie to remind him of later. "We will have all the time we need, my Artemis. I promise you that."
"I am the luckiest man in the world to be so well loved, my heart." He cupped my cheek and kissed me sweetly while stroking my throat. When he pulled away, he shook his head. "Every day I fall more in love with you, James. Sometimes I must pinch myself to make sure that I'm not dreaming."
"Tell me the next time and I will kiss you to prove we're together." I didn't want him to ever need pain as a reminder.
He nodded while tucking in my shirt and holding my jacket for me. For the first time, I realized that we were dressed in our second best suits. It wasn't like going to the theater where we had to dress in black tie and tails. I didn't really mind it except for the stiff collars but I loved seeing Artemis in formal dress.
We checked each other to be sure we were fit for public view then left to meet the bookseller and his wife for dinner. I was looking forward to learning more about his past.
End of San Francisco II