James was warm against one side while Maria warmed my other. The experiment had been a success. My lover had enjoyed his lovemaking with my old friend and she had given him a new confidence in himself. I was a very lucky man to have such good friends. My little bout of anxiety had been loved away and now I couldn't understand from where it had come.
Lips tugged at my nipple on James' side and I pulled him closer. "How are you feeling, my sweet James?"
"Good." He let go and leaned up to look down at me. "I enjoyed making love with Maria but nothing is better than making love with you. You do know that?"
I smiled and caressed his cheek. "I do know that I love you very much and knowing that you love me is the best gift I've ever been given."
He returned my smile and his hand wrapped around my cock lovingly. "Poor Artie has been terribly neglected so far."
Maria rolled up and her hand joined James'. The two of them had an identical smile and I knew I was in trouble when they turned them on me. "You're right, James. Artie needs a lot of love because there's just so much of him. I think I'd like him inside of me first." She leaned in and whispered something to him.
"I'm in big trouble, aren't I?" I smiled at their conspiratorial air.
James grinned at me, the wide beaming grin that had been released by our love. "Yes, but you'll enjoy it."
"Since it's the two of you, then yes, I certainly will." I tugged Maria down to my chest and she kissed me hard before rolling to my side. James moved far enough to let me up and I knelt between her long elegant legs. "Let's see, what to nibble on first?"
"I'll take her nipples, my Artemis." James moved up and leaned in to nurse at her plump breasts. I met her eyes and she nodded reassuringly to me, her hand coming up to comb through his hair.
"Then I shall see if your taste has changed, Maria." Leaning in, I licked around the small bud and felt her quiver just a little. Multiple orgasms often left her feeling very sensitive. I fluttered my tongue against it and her hips moved restlessly. Testing her channel for wetness, I checked her reaction to two fingers and felt the velvet walls clasp them tightly.
Reaching for the cream, I started to smooth some over my rigid cock but James frowned at me and left his suckling. "He's mine, Artemis. Let me."
So I kissed him while he creamed my cock. Then he went back to his nursing while I lifted her hips just a touch and began the slow slide into her. She shivered from head to toe and moaned just a little. "God, I forgot how big he feels when he first enters me. Why did you wait so long to visit, Artemis?"
James chuckled around his mouthful and he moved a hand down to stroke the small bud that swelled between us. I stilled when she began to pant and waited for her to tell me that she could take more. Aside from Lily in Paris, Maria was the only woman who'd ever been able to take all of me.
She took a shuddering breath and opened her eyes, nodding her permission to continue. I slowly slid another inch within the tight channel, then another until she had most of me. Palming her buttocks, I began the gentle rocking that usually made her begin to unravel. And I was not disappointed when she shuddered around me and came for the fourth time that night with a low moan.
James had watched me with wide eyes, forgetting to suckle. "Wow, Artemis, even her nipples clenched that time. I think she blacked out like I do."
I chuckled and nodded. Her facial muscles had indeed gone slack. "That is such a compliment, my sweet James. I feel a veritable giant when you have that reaction."
He sat up and leaned in to kiss me. We both tasted of Maria and dinner but still something remained of James' sweetness. He was my favorite aphrodisiac. When he pulled away, the sparkle in his eyes told me that he was up to something. "We have a plan, Artemis so all three of us can play."
"Well, I certainly hope that means that you're going to come inside of me right now." I had an inkling of their plan and he pouted for a moment before moving behind me and using some of the cream to begin to loosen me for his rising cock.
"It's all right then? Maria suggested it." His fingers were busy delving within and I noticed that her eyes were open again.
"It's only fair when you give us such pleasure, Artemis, that you allow us to give to you." Her husky voice reminded me of a fallen angel. Her hair had tumbled down and now lay curling upon her shoulders.
"Between you and James, it appears that angels have come to earth to love me." I said quietly, meaning every word. Leaning in, I kissed her gently and felt her smile.
"Sweet Artemis, you are too earthy to be an angel but I'm constantly reminded that your godlike endowments should be worshipped for the gifts they are." She lifted her hand and cupped my cheek.
"Zeus ... he reminds me of the king of the gods." James told her while breaching my guardian muscle and sliding deep inside of me.
We both groaned and Maria chuckled before reaching up to pluck at my nipples. James wasn't the only one with a nipple fetish. I began rocking back and forth while my lover started a slow but steady rhythm in and out that made me burn. Maria had one hand between us to stimulate her bud and I could feel her begin to shake around me, the damp walls rippling around my cock.
She was back to panting again and I nudged just a bit harder than I had earlier, watching her bow her back with the strength of her climax. James seized at the same moment and I felt myself flooded with his heat. Unfortunately, Artie still needed something to push him over the edge. However, I was a little busy holding up James from his sprawl over my back while trying to not crush Maria with both our weights.
There are a few complications to three-way loving. James stirred on my back and I felt him kiss me gently between my shoulder blades. "Sweetheart, we need to move sideways so we don't crush poor Maria flatter than a pancake."
"Oh, goodness, I didn't think about that." He slowly eased himself from me and I hated to lose his warmth and strength, but my arms were beginning to quiver at the strain of holding us up.
"Thank you, James. Now, I need to come out of Maria's well-loved channel before she starts to cramp." I gently slid back an inch at a time until finally Artie popped out, glistening with her juices.
"You didn't release, my Artemis." James moved a little farther so I could rest on the bed between them. His hand immediately came to stroke my shaft then he leaned in to lap the head. "You taste of Maria and cream. She's kind of salty too."
An inelegant snort to my left told me that Maria was back with us. "I vote we adjourn to my bathroom and the big tub there." She sat up and stroked my chest. "Then you and I can make sure that Artie comes."
James kept hold of me but his sparkling eyes told me that he was still game to play. So, I nodded and stretched. "I think a hot bath would be just the thing. There is no one more beautiful than James when he is wet."
She laughed and shifted off the bed, taking a moment to adjust to being upright. "I swear I'll be bow-legged tomorrow. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed being reamed by such an expert. It's a good thing that you'll be thousands of miles away, Artemis, or I'd have to take the pair of you into the business."
James laughed and rolled off his side of the bed. "Artemis would have men and women lining up to patronize the House. But I don't want to share him, so it really is a good thing we're leaving."
I followed my lover and picked him up to carry him into the bathroom. "I don't share either, James, except with my good friend Maria. After this, it would take an Aphrodite or Athena to make me even think about sharing your delights."
He laughed up into my face and I kissed him while Maria went in ahead to turn on the water. Piped hot and cold water was such a lovely thing. Her bathroom was done in white and gold with a sporting Cupid for a faucet in the huge square tub that comfortably held two but would tonight hold three. I let him down while he looked about him in amazement.
Maria was pouring something in at one end and the now familiar scent of lilies of the valley filled the room. Bubbles began to grow almost immediately and James gazed at them in stupefaction. "Wow, I thought that was bath oil. What makes the bubbles?"
I explained as best I could but when he still looked puzzled, I promised him a return trip to Mother Maisy's. Maria was already sliding in at one end and an elegant finger beckoned us both in to join her. I got in first and James settled against me in our favorite position. Artie came up between James' thighs and he stroked him lovingly.
"The two of you make me think of forever. I think I'm jealous." Maria was busy pinning up her hair in a careless fashion that made her look more human and less like royalty.
"It is forever." James said quietly.
"We are indeed forever, Maria. I can no longer see a future without James in it." I stroked his chest and tweaked his nipple ring.
"You're very lucky but then you deserve it, Artemis." She smiled affectionately at us and lazily soaped her arms above the rising bubbles. Judging the depth satisfactory, she turned off the water. "Your James is just as nice as you said. If I must lose you, then I am glad it is to someone who will love you and take care of you."
"Always, Maria, I will always love him and never let anything happen to him." James said quietly, hugging my arms tighter around him. "He gives me everything that I could ever want or need. I will always try to make him happy as long as we live."
James, part two
I meant every word and Maria nodded, accepting my fervor. Artemis' lips grazed my temple lovingly. "Beloved James, you brighten my life with your light. I am forever blessed by your love."
Blushing, I dipped my head and gathered up some of the bubbles that covered the water. They were beautiful with little rainbows that came and went in the candlelight. Looking about the white room, I noticed the fat tapers that were hung everywhere. They provided a softer light than the gaslights we had at home and I pondered adding some sconces to our bathroom. When we were stationary, they wouldn't be too dangerous and Artemis looked wonderful in their light.
Maria looked beautiful too but somehow far away like the angel that Artemis had called her. I liked her and was glad to have met her, experiencing lovemaking with a woman had gone a long way to satisfying my curiosity. But even though it was fun, I preferred Artemis and always would. He filled up all the cold and empty spaces inside of me, filling them with his warmth and love. No woman could come close.
"What are you thinking about, sweetheart?" He lazily washed my chest with bubbles that tickled while Maria watched us with kind eyes.
"Maria, I liked making love with you but it's just not the same as making love with Artemis. He makes me feel whole." I hoped that I didn't hurt her feelings.
"Well said, James. There is indeed a difference between making love and having sex. Few men ever seem to realize that, however." She smiled fondly at me. "It's why I prefer women. With a very few exceptions, women love with their heart and body. That feeling of double satisfaction is absolutely necessary for most of us."
I nodded. "That's it, exactly. With Artemis, all of me is loved and safe. I'm so very glad that he finally showed me what I was missing."
She perked up at that. "And how, exactly, did he do that?"
Artemis laughed and told her about my unfortunate predicament in the underground torture chamber. I listened while stroking Artie softly so he didn't come in the hot water. I wanted him back inside of me again to re-stake his claim to my body. He seemed to agree because he shifted his legs inside of mine so I was splayed and open to his fingers.
Maria saw what was going on and moved closer. There was a jar of white cream on the tiled wall above the faucet and she scooped some onto her fingers before bringing them under the water to my entrance. Artemis gave way to her and the feel of her long slim fingers piercing my body made me shiver. They seemed to know just where to go and soon, I was burning with each touch.
"It's amazing how unknowing most men are about their bodies." She mused while leaning in to tongue my nipple ring. "Hm-m-m, tasty indeed. James, you are a treat for all my senses. But I think that Artie is getting impatient."
"While he enjoys your tightness, Maria, he is completely enamored of James' tight depths." Artemis moved my hips a fraction and I felt Artie nudging my well-creamed hole. The familiar burn made me shake but when he pierced the outer muscle, I almost came again just from that.
Maria pinched the nerve at the base of my cock and smiled knowingly at me. "We'll not waste this lovely erection on the bath water. How well you take him."
Artie was still sliding into me and I tried to relax so he could seat himself more fully. I hoped I never grew complacent about his size or his gentleness. The flush of heat told me that he'd found my gland and I clenched around him. Maria was stroking my cock and nibbling on my unadorned nipple while Artemis tongued the spot behind my ear that felt so good.
I felt surrounded by love and caring. Then he was completely in and I could feel his balls against my nether cheeks. "How does it feel, sweetheart?"
"Good. He feels better than good. I love having him safe inside me." I turned my head just a bit so I could see his eyes. They were smiling at me and he kissed my ear tenderly.
"James, may I have Jim inside me again?" Maria lightly scratched my stomach with her nails and I shivered all the way down to my toes.
"Yes, please. That won't squish you, will it, Artemis?"
"I would love to be so squished, my James. Let your legs come inside of mine to give Maria room." He positioned me just so and she moved up to bring her legs around our waists.
It felt so different sliding inside of her. She was tight but not as tight as Artemis' channel. In the tub, she felt still wetter inside than she had in the bed. Then I realized that the cream that I'd put on Artie was still there too. She gasped when she took all of me and I pulled her a bit closer so I could suckle at her breast.
I couldn't decide what felt better, Artie inside of me, me inside of her or the way her breast felt against my lips. It all felt so good that I suddenly knew that when I came this time, I was going to shake to pieces. Smiling, I tightened my inner muscles around the hard cock inside of me and thrust up just a bit into her velvet soft channel.
They both moaned and then there were so many sensations that they all got mixed up in my mind. Pressure from before and behind heated my whole body. I felt as if I was glowing red hot and every movement shook me. Maria's inner muscles were rippling around me and when she moaned and came, so did I. That seemed to be what Artie needed because I felt him jerk hard and come inside of me.
The pleasure sent me right into a brief nap and when I came back, I was still inside of Maria while Artie was still inside of me. But all of us seemed to be resting. Maria's head was on my shoulder, her arms around both of us while my head rested back against the curve of Artemis' shoulder.
"Sweet James and Maria, how well you love me." He whispered into my ear and I smiled at the compliment.
"I will definitely be bedridden tomorrow but these memories will be among my favorite fantasies in the months to come." Maria's husky drawl came from my shoulder and her breath teased my skin. Then she was moving carefully from me and I slipped from her regretfully. "The two of you are a bright light in this sometimes dreary world."
She looked sad and I knew that she was thinking of April. I wished I could help her but I didn't know how. "She just needs you to love her and take the fear away. Maybe you could do something like Artemis did for me."
Artemis hugged me tighter. "Would something like that work, Maria? I would scare her into fits but James here made her smile several times. Could he perhaps pleasure her into losing the fear?"
Maria settled back against the other end of the tub with a bleak look in her eyes. "She was raped repeatedly by a man of about your age and stature, Artemis. Up to that point, she still didn't know what making love meant. No one ever told her the process, the way you did for James. If I had my way, I'd tell every girl by the time of her first menses what her changing body meant. And how love should be made."
I felt him nod, his hands stroking my stomach. "True, too many come to marriage without the faintest idea how to make it good for either partner. Most so called frigid wives are simply women who were traumatized by their first encounter with a man's penis. And the men aren't much better since they have no idea how a woman's body works."
"If they come then they just assume the woman did as well." Maria snorted and stood up, gracefully stepping from the tub. "How very wrong they are. Someday, I shall start a second business for women of society with a stable of well trained men to service them."
"A lovely idea, Maria. Do you have some ideas about what kind of man would be able to fulfill your requirements?" Artemis asked her while continuing to stroke me.
"From watching you two, I think I might pick some of my friends who are bi-sexual. Hearts and minds are needed." She began to pat herself dry with a large fluffy white towel. "Men of gentle and caring dispositions that aren't afraid to show their tender side."
"Such a compliment, Maria, you honor us with your praise. I know of someone who just might fit the bill. Do you remember young Anthony, Peter's partner in the bookstore?" Artemis kept on stroking Jim and I wiggled on the hardness still inside of me while I felt myself begin to stir again.
Only Artemis could bring me back from the dead like this. I'd forgotten how many times I'd come today but unless it was after midnight, I was going to add to my total. I worked my inner muscles to encourage Artie for another round of lovemaking and he surged within me with new life.
"Anthony ... small, blond and the classic features of an Adonis?" She wrapped herself in the towel and came back over to trail an idle hand over my chest. "Such stamina and recuperative powers, you both have. Simply amazing."
"Love has no limits, Maria and James expands my horizons with every look and caress." Artemis rocked me on his shaft and I clenched at the need to move again. "Out of the tub, sweetheart, we need more room to maneuver."
"I'll go tidy the bed while you dry yourselves." Maria tweaked my nipple ring with a smile and rose from her perch on the side of the tub.
I pulled off of Artie with a pang but his hands kept caressing me while we left the tub and pulled two fresh towels from the stack on the painted wooden shelves nearby. I felt extremely well loved so I stretched all over when I was dry and watched Artemis' eyes take on the sultry look that betokened a loving.
Catching me up in his arms, he kissed me thoroughly, re-staking his claim to my lips. The dense hair on his chest tickled everywhere and I reveled in the feel of his body against mine. No one would ever feel this good to me and I vowed to tell him so every day for the rest of our lives.
He finally broke the kiss and smoothed my hair back from my forehead. "You are the other half of my soul, James. Thank you for trying this experiment and continuing to love me."
"Silly Artemis, you are my heart. I could no more stop loving you than I could walk on the moon." I smiled at him and he smiled back, lighting my heart with his pride in me.
Picking me up, he carried me back into Maria's bedroom for our next round of lovemaking. I could hardly wait.
Artemis, part three
We spent almost two days with Maria and when we left to rejoin our rail way car, I was assured that James knew what he would be missing but preferred me. What an astonishing statement that was to me. He wasn't even tempted to experiment more because he told me I satisfied every part of him. I was a very lucky man. Poor Maria had finally thrown us out and taken to her bed. Alone.
She said she needed a week to recover from us. But she was smiling when she said it and I could see April wondering what she meant. I felt for my old friend for I feared she had an uphill battle in bringing the young girl out of trauma. But I wished her well and we promised to correspond regularly, keeping each other apprised of all the news.
Now we were back in our own home, bustling around bringing it back to life again after our sojourn away. Packages had arrived while we were gone and the station master had to send a porter to help us carry them all in. James tipped him and sent him on his way, locking the door decisively behind him.
"Thank goodness, Artemis, may we please go to bed and take a nap?" He said rather plaintively.
Chuckling, I agreed. "Let me just put the roast into the oven on low so it can simmer while we nap. Why don't you light the hot water heater so we'll have hot water when we decide to bathe?"
"Yes, please. Bubbles are nice but I prefer our oil." He said over his shoulder before disappearing down the hall.
I seasoned the rump roast and made sure there was enough water to keep it covered while we snoozed. Putting the lid on, I slid it into the oven and judged the newly rekindled heat to be sufficient. Coal gave a much more even heat then the old wood stoves and I wondered if we'd be able to get a good supply of coal in the west. I might have to rewrite some recipes if we couldn't.
Taking off the apron, I hung it by the sink and followed my lover to our bedroom. He was already beneath the sheets and he held them up invitingly for me to join him. They were cold but he was not and I gathered him in like an extra blanket. He purred for me and we both relaxed into the familiar embrace.
"This is better than any boudoir in the world, Artemis." He sighed and moved a little lower so he could lick my nipple. "And we are better than any other lovers in the whole wide solar system."
"I agree, sweetheart. But now we both know what we are giving up because we know that what we have is better than good." I stroked his back and enjoyed his leisurely sucking. "What we have is rather rare, my James."
His head lifted and those blue eyes glowed with his passion. "What we have is true love, my Artemis, and it is a blessing I wish only to share with you."
Hugging him tight, I nodded over the lump in my throat. "Sleep now, sweet James and we shall awaken to love again."
James nodded and went back to his lazy suckling. I relaxed and fell asleep with his sweet weight anchoring me to the bed. When I awoke, he was still sleeping but we'd rearranged ourselves into our favorite position with his back to my front. Artie was alert and ready to go again. I tested his channel to see if he was still slick enough from our morning loving and then eased slowly inside until I was firmly seated.
Stroking his stomach and occasionally his still slumbering cock, I waited for him to wake up and join in our loving. Musing on how addicted I'd become to his sweet touch and taste, I awoke Jim to his pleasure and soon he was very hard and slightly leaking.
"Hm-m-m, this is my favorite way to wake up. I'm glad to see that we still have something left after the last two days." He chortled quietly and clenched around me.
"You are all I need to resurrect Artie." I kissed the spot behind his ear before tonguing a path down his strong neck. "You are the miracle I never thought to have."
"But you do have me and I think you are the miracle." He smiled over his shoulder and I briefly kissed those lips that beckoned me.
"We are very lucky we found each other, James. Would you like to try a new position?" I asked, knowing his answer all ready. He is always ready to learn something new about our lovemaking.
"Yes, please." He said eagerly and I held him close while going to my back so he lay impaled above me.
"Hold still, my love until I get us situated." I moved cautiously back and up until I had both our pillows behind me while he held onto my hips. Then I coaxed his legs to either side of mine and steadied him. "How is that?"
"He feels deep like when I sat on him at the table." He said shakily.
"Then lean forward a bit to ease the pressure and use your legs to move up and down on him." I counseled and watched him figure out how to place himself so he was in control of our movements.
"Oh, this feels odd but if I sit up and rock he feels very deep." He sighed and rocked back and forth. "And very, very good. I can't believe that I ever thought he would hurt me or split me in two."
I chuckled and smoothed my hands down his sleek back to his slender hips. Palming his cheeks, I added a little boost to his next upward movement and he came down hard enough to wring a groan from him.
"Do that again." He commanded me with a wiggle and a slight lean forward to brace himself on my thighs. "Oh yes!"
We made it last a very long time while we reconnected with each other. The interlude with Maria had been fun but nothing like the incandescent joy that came with just the two of us. He came with a hard clench that milked my climax from me while his spurted onto my legs. I drew him down to my chest and back onto our sides so he could relax all the muscles he'd given such a fine workout.
"Just think, my love. The next time I'm lifting weights on the bench, you can come over and sit on Artie and help me exercise these muscles as well." I teased him.
"Oh, that sounds good except you still haven't taken me over the pommel horse or speared me while I'm on the rings." He reminded me and I swear that Artie pulsed inside of him at just the thought. He laughed joyously in my arms and I held him close.
"Yes, I believe that you're right. We must start exercising naked and before each session, we'll smooth cream inside ourselves so we're ready at any time to slide inside of the other." I possessively stroked his stomach and felt Artie begin to shrink.
"Perfect, Artemis, you're absolutely right. 'Be prepared' should be our new motto." He teased me and flexed around me as I slid from him. "After we dine, I plan to bring you back here and make love to you. Does that sound all right?"
I turned him in my arms and kissed him with passion. "That sounds just right, my sexy James. Sharing your strength with me would be the perfect end of a perfect day."
He wiggled against me and kissed me again until we had to break apart to breathe. "All my days are perfect when we're together. How much more shopping do you think we need to do?"
"We'll pull out the lists tomorrow and see what remains. Mother Maisy should have our order ready and I think I'd like to eat at Bertha's again. I'm still trying to get her recipe for that apple tart that was so good."
"And the used bookstore, since we cut our shopping there short." He reminded me with a smile. "I want you to have all the books that you could possibly want before we leave. I plan on listening to you read for hours and hours."
I laughed aloud and nodded. "Yes, indeed, books are not a luxury but a necessity where we're going. I shall introduce you to all the great poets and the plays of Shakespeare. Perhaps I should have been a teacher?"
"Yes, you should be but I'm to be your only student. I'll be as naughty as I have to be to keep your complete attention." He promised slyly before sliding away and off the bed. "We need to clean up, open our packages and have dinner."
I chuckled and followed him into the bathroom. He'd grown surer over the last few days and I blessed Maria for her insight into his mind. I was too close to him to see if I was truly fulfilling his needs but her subtle probing had shown me that he was still growing and learning with each day that passed. Challenging his mind was the key and I planned to keep doing that with the books and ideas found in them.
And taxing his body with hard physical loving was the other half of the complex man I loved. Together, we should be able to keep ourselves happy and healthy so long as we kept reading, growing and loving. Rather like a recipe for life, I mused while wiping down James' body and checking his well-loved entrance.
"What will we do when it turns cold, Artemis, and we can't go naked inside our home?" He asked while taking the washcloth and beginning to do the quick wash that we preferred during the day when we were saving our bath for later.
"Goodness, we don't really know what the weather will be like, do we?" I pondered for a moment. "I seem to remember the natives bragging that it never got too hot or too cold unlike Los Angeles that gets so very hot. But wasn't fog a problem?"
James nodded and finished washing Artie with a quick kiss to his crown. "It got so thick that we could hardly see where we were riding but that was down by San Francisco, not up by Clear Lake."
"Probably the ocean currents meeting the land currents at that particular juncture." I nodded and led the way to the parlor. "When we go back to Peter's used bookstore, perhaps I'll find a book on weather. You know, I didn't look at any books on soil and the proper horticulture of vineyards."
He grinned and lifted a heavily wrapped package to the table. "I know, so I did. Look and see what I found at Green's while you were buried in the drama section."
Unwrapping them, I found the two books on Marlowe that I'd set aside. But the other six were ponderous tomes on horticulture, wine making and a biography of Benvenuto Ramillia, a famous wine maker from Italy. I was speechless and he crowed with laughter at the look on my face. I can see that I shall be hard pressed to keep up with the young man who was so determined to take care of me.
I am a very lucky man.
James, part four
I enjoyed the look on Artemis' face when he found one of my surprises. He kept stroking the fine leather binding on the biography while picking up and setting down the others. He looked so bemused that I couldn't help but laugh, only to yelp when his hand shot out and pulled me down into his lap.
"What great ... good care you take of me, my James. Thank you." He held me close and kissed my cheek.
"I like taking care of you, my Artemis. It makes me feel very good when you let me." I caressed his cheek and he caught it, pressing a kiss against my palm.
"We take good care of each other and I hope we always will." His eyebrow raised. "Are we to get every book that we want or might need?"
It was the closest he'd come to asking about my surprise and I thought quickly before nodding. "Books are special. They hold the past and the present safe between their covers. It's why dictators always burn them when they try to subdue their people. I want us to have such a library that we are known throughout the land for it."
"What a lovely thought, my love." His eyes glowed into mine. "That is better than being known for having the best wine or cattle or crops. Books are seeds just waiting to sprout inside their reader. That makes them part of the future as well. We must assuredly go back to Peter's shop. Buying used doesn't hurt the contents and means that we may have a few more without bankrupting you."
I smiled at the thought of even a thousand books making a dent in Father's investments. "I promise to tell you if a book is too expensive. And we cut short our visit to the used bookstore so I'd like to go back."
"Good, then that's what we will do. What do you think, another three days before heading down to Washington?" He asked while I quickly ran through our list. When I nodded, he tipped me off his lap and stood to put the books with the others in a crate we'd placed in the front corner of the parlor. "You know, I shall miss this railway car when we move. I hate the thought of someone else living and sleeping in this place where we first made love."
I bit my lip to keep from telling him that we would not be giving it up but taking it west with us. Director Thomas had proven most agreeable to me having another car created for the Secret Service's needs. It helped to be a major shareholder in the Union Pacific. Orders had already gone out and I expected to be able to inspect it when we returned to Washington.
Putting everything away took some time but soon, Artemis was serving dinner and we ate as if starved. All the food, cooked by all chefs in this large city didn't taste as good as a meal prepared for me by my lover. We ate on opposite sides of the table but played a new game he'd taught me in which our feet made sneak attacks across to the other one. He was very good at it but he especially like it when my toes made it all the way to his groin to delicately stroke his balls.
We were simmering when we finished eating and did the dishes. Even mundane things like dish washing took on life and color when he was involved. He loved me to wash while he dried and put away since that meant he could sneak caresses to me while my hands were busy. And the best was when he slid his arms around me and just held me while I finished rinsing the last pan. I loved that.
But then, I loved everything about him.
The next three days went quickly while we filled the car with items for our new home. I caught him sometimes caressing the pool table or the tabletop where he taken me so many times. Almost, I broke down and told him that I'd negotiated our keeping of this home of ours. But I did want to keep it a surprise so I held my tongue. I'd told Maria of my wish to have him well supplied with cooking pans and things of which I knew nothing and she'd undertaken to buy everything he could possibly need.
A code phrase in her note to us told me that she'd succeeded in sending ahead for us all that she'd found. Our last day was spent in old town with Mother Maisy and her six sisters. While Artemis was coaxing the recipe for apple tart from Bertha, she took me aside and had a long talk with me about family. I understood much better the need to share love and happiness that she spoke of.
I was still rather selfish when it came to Artemis but she made me see that he would need to befriend others. He would bring waifs and strays home to me and it was up to me to accept or reject them. But if I rejected them, I would wound the man I loved more than myself. She reminded me that the heart had more than enough room to take in all who came across our paths.
She told me the story of how they met when Artemis was a struggling young actor in a small theater near her shop. He'd stopped in, entranced by her window but couldn't afford to buy anything. So, she'd asked him to test a new soap that she'd just created and since it was a favor, he happily did. That soap was the one we were using today. Some of his first cooking lessons came from sister Bertha while he waited tables between plays.
I hugged every tale close to me and loved knowing a little more about the special man I loved. But I also took to heart her reminder that he would need to help others as he had been helped. I promised her that I would try to always be open to his needs and accept those he brought to our home.
Mother Maisy patted my cheek and called me a good child before going to settle an argument between two ragamuffins who had sneaked in to rifle pockets but stayed to have a 'little' lunch. I watched the colorful crowd of people from all walks of life who patronized Bertha's restaurant and realized that they were all part of the loving family that the sisters had created.
Smiling, I went to help Artemis coax the recipe from the frowning woman who kept urging me to eat 'just a little more'. If he needed to recreate this good cheer out in California then I'd do my level best to help. So long as we had our private time when it was just we two, I would welcome anything and anyone who made him happy.
Maybe my heart wasn't as small as I thought.
When finally we were on our way back to Washington, I lay with my head in Artemis' lap, lazily sucking on a semi-hard Artie while he finished his last letter from Peter about his order of books on wine making. We were both naked again even though the shades were open. I'd talked one of the designers into putting in shades that opened just the top or bottom rather than only the bottom.
He'd been most amazed at the privacy that provided while still admitting light. Who knows, I may have just contributed to a 'new' style, I thought to myself while testing to see if Artie was hard enough to come back inside of me. Not yet but soon, so I went back to sucking on his velvet crown while rolling his balls with my other hand. He liked that ... a lot so I kept on doing it until Artemis laid aside his letter with a smile.
"That's a very mischievous look, sweet James. What do you have planned for me?" He caressed my cheek and I let go of Artie so I could put the next part of my plan in motion.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Artemis. I'm never mischievous." I said mendaciously.
He laughed and pulled me over his lap to spank me gently while I squirmed. "Never? I think my naughty James has forgotten who kept 'spilling' cherry sauce on me so he could lick it off."
The spanks were beginning to burn the way I loved and I could feel my cheeks redden. "Oh no, my Artemis, I'm only a little bit careless with my food. Besides, you taste so very good with cherries."
Laughing, he let me turn so he could pull me up into his kiss. I loved tasting him this way and I sucked hard on his tongue when he invaded my mouth. Almost, I forgot my plan but when we had to breathe, I remembered. Twisting just a bit, I put both hands on his shoulders and straddled his hips.
"I got myself ready for you while you were reading your first letter." I told him and watched his eyes light up. His fingers tested me and found me creamy enough to take Artie.
So, he held his cock still for me while I arched up and settled on that familiar hard bulk, slowly taking him in inch by inch until he could go no further. His eyes were half closed and the look on his face, I wanted to remember always. I had given him this pleasure and what he gave me was even greater. The feel of him inside of me, possessing me with all his strength, would never pall or grow commonplace.
He was too special for that. That pulse was tickling me inside and using my thigh muscles to ride him, I began to rise and fall on that tall column of flesh that fit me so well. This way, we could kiss at the same time we loved and his lips devoured mine with a fervor that sucked my breath away.
The lazy pace began to speed up and his hands curved around my cheeks helped me up before letting me drop, sparking the gland that made me burn. My cock was caught between our stomachs and the friction was driving me insane the way it always did. It was just after he stole my breath once again with one of his voluptuous kisses that I felt the spark explode and my cock followed suit, anointing him with my seed.
He surged forward and carried me to the table before putting me down and thrusting strongly inside until I felt him release deep within me. His heart was pounding against me and I held him with trembling arms while his pulse slowed to a more even level. My legs wrapped around his waist to keep him inside and I was more than willing to stay here until he needed to move.
"Beloved James, you never cease to amaze me." His breath tickled my neck and I felt his soft lips kiss my pulse. "I think we must tell the Director that this table was broken somehow and replace it for him. It is a sacred object now since I've worshipped you on it so many times."
"Like an altar, Artemis?" I rather liked the idea even though it might appear blasphemous to anyone else. "Since you're Zeus, my Artemis, I find that notion quite appropriate."
"You are my sacred vessel, James and this is indeed an altar to our love, second only to our bed which we will have to take with us as well. That really is mine but I suppose we'll have to replace it as well." His sigh decided me.
"Um, Artemis, I need to tell you something." I bit my lip but he just raised his head and smiled at me. "I talked the Director into letting us have this car if I would replace it with another identical to it. While we were in New York, I called in a favor so we don't have to give this one up."
His look of surprise was all I could have hoped for.
Artemis, part five
I was flabbergasted and knew I was showing it by the smug smile on my lover's face. Something told me that his surprise was going to be just as shocking and I swallowed hard to get rid of the lump in my throat. Clearing it with a harrumph, I stroked his face and tried to think of something to say to this astonishing man.
"You don't mind, do you?" He bit his lip and I shook my head, still mute. "I hated the thought of strangers living here where we made our first home so I thought you would be all right with it."
"Sweetheart, you amaze me with your courage and your forethought." I shook my head again and tried to think. "I'm glad that you didn't wait to tell me later. I've been doing a bit of grieving when I thought you wouldn't know. I've lived many places but this car ... this car became enchanted when you moved in with your bright spirit."
He blushed and dropped his eyes. "That's what I thought when I tried to picture strangers living here. They couldn't know how sacred these rooms are where you made love to me and taught me about my body. I just had to do something about it. The stable car and gym car aren't that special although we will need the stable to transport Charger and Lady. And I'd hate to lose the gym but we could always recreate it at our new home."
"We can indeed, my thoughtful love. But the equipment might be hard to come by out west so we may want to keep the stable car and fill it half with our work out pieces and the other half with our horses." I suggested while smoothing my hands down his chest to tickle his depleted cock.
"I was thinking of renting an empty boxcar and filling it with all our boxes and paraphernalia. Then it could house stuff until we build anew and move everything out. It wouldn't cost that much." He assured me.
"You are in charge of our finances, James and I trust you to manage them better than I would. So if you say it's all right then I shall believe you. And thank you for thinking ahead to make such good plans for us." I leaned in and kissed him gently. "You are my wonderful love and I look forward to all your surprises."
He beamed happily and I counted my blessings yet again while picking him up and carrying him down to the bathroom for our nightly bath. We washed each other carefully, each stroke one of love and commitment. When he took me to bed and filled me sweetly, I knew that whatever the state of our finances, he would make sure we were well taken care of.
I couldn't ask for more.
Our arrival in Washington began the last frantic rush of preparations for our departure to the west. The Director had us over again for dinner and we finalized our part-time assignment plans for him. We had spoken with Abigail and Penelope and they'd agreed to take any letter addressed to Pen and enclosed with a letter to Abby and re-forward it to Director Thomas at his home.
It kept our contact minimal with the Secret Service and that might prove a blessing in the days to come. There were a thousand and one details to finalize and by the end of the first week back, I suddenly realized that we were indeed leaving behind all I'd once held so dear. The familiar and commonplace became dear to me, filling me with nostalgia about the past.
But I refused to wallow in old memories when the future beckoned so brightly in the form of my beloved partner. James was a whirlwind of activity and he swept me up into the frenzy of plans. We ended up renting two rail cars for the overflow of items without which we couldn't live. The books and bookcases alone took up a third of one car. And I wondered if I'd ever get to the end of his surprises. The pots and pans and utensils from New York had to all be unpacked and gloated over then repacked and stored away.
I was beginning to see the kitchen of our new home and it was going to be beautiful. He told me solemnly that he expected us to entertain at least once a month and maybe more frequently. I opined that Mother Maisy had been talking to him about my need to cook for people and this was his reaction. He's normally a rather solitary person and I knew how hard it would be for him to entertain.
Promising myself to remember how much he needed solitude and my own growing urge to have him all to myself, I nevertheless looked forward to creating dinners in my own kitchen rather than the little cubbyhole that was our current kitchen. Every once in a while, I stopped and took a deep breath to marvel at how topsy-turvy my world had grown.
On our last day in Washington, we ran errands from nine in the morning to nine at night. I'd barely seen him all day and needed his mouth desperately. When I finally stopped moving and looked around at the chaos that was our parlor, I couldn't help a chuckle. Somehow, we'd fit everything into the stable car, the two rented cars and this one but the seven days it would take to get to California were going to be crowded.
"Artemis, come to bed. I kept that room just the way it was." James' voice broke through my fatigue and when I saw him leaning against the corridor doorjamb I had to catch my breath. He was magnificently naked and beautifully erect. Moving towards him, I led him lead me down the hall to the bathroom where he efficiently stripped me bare and held Artie so I could rid myself of the fluids of the day.
I was half-asleep and when he wiped me down with a damp cloth, it was all I could do to stay upright. He led me to our bed and crawled in after me, holding me close while I fell fathoms deep almost immediately. Not even the jerking of the train when we pulled out of the station woke me completely. But when James tried to disentangle himself from my arms, that brought my eyes open.
"Hush, Artemis, I just need to go to the bathroom then I'll be right back. Are you thirsty?" He kissed me gently and I tried to think.
"Um, maybe a glass of water. My throat is dry." I could feel movement so we must be underway. "What time is it?"
"Just ten o'clock, my Artemis. I'll return shortly." He eased from my arms and I must have fallen back asleep because it seemed no time at all before he was back.
I drank the glass of water eagerly and felt it slide down my throat like a benediction. My throat tickled a little but when I began to cough, I couldn't stop. James held me close and rocked me until I stopped. "Sorry, sweetheart."
"I'm going to make a nice pot of tea, Artemis. With honey so it helps your throat, all right?" He sounded worried and I forced my eyes open.
"It's nothing, James, just a tickle. But we do have a jar labeled spearmint, that would be nice with a little honey for the cough." I didn't have the energy to do it myself and I dozed until he returned with a full tray.
The tea was strong but good and it seemed to clear my head so I could deal with a very worried partner. He watched me anxiously and when he felt my head, his hand felt cool to the touch. "You have a temperature, Artemis. I'm going to get our thermometer. Stay covered up for me."
I finished my tea and waited for his return. He stuck the long glass tube under my tongue and waited impatiently while the mercury rose higher and higher. Removing it, he read it with a tight expression before shaking it down and putting it back in our first aid box.
"It's 101 degrees. At our next stop, I'll see if there's a doctor in the passenger cars." His voice trembled just a little and I realized that this would be our first test of adversity.
"Sweetheart, it's just a summer cold. Sore throat, cough and temperature all mean a cold."
"It could be the influenza, Artemis. I won't take a chance with your health." His tones were adamant and I took his hand in mine, holding on tightly.
"Then I shall let a doctor look at me, but truly, James, I will be all right." I put as much conviction into my voice as I could manage but it was spoiled by another cough.
When I finished, he left me briefly to fetch a basin of cool water and a wash cloth. Then he was back soothing my fevered brow and wiping down my body. It felt wonderful and I told him so but he just nodded shortly and kept on tending to me. This had to be like the reenactment of his worse nightmare where he lost me to illness rather than a bullet.
The next few hours passed in a haze for me while the cough grew worse and my temperature shot up two more degrees. I kept drinking water to try and flush the problem from me but all that got me was two shaky trips to the bathroom on unsteady legs while James held me close and kept me balanced. All my energy seemed to have run out and it was all I could do to collapse back in to bed.
He propped me on pillows when I had trouble breathing and made me a pot of white willow bark tea when I requested it. My voice was nothing more than a rasp by now and I had trouble explaining why I needed it. But he just followed my directions and was soon back with a new tray. He had to help me hold the cup but the rather bitter tea seemed to help and when next he took my temperature, it had dropped a degree.
I'd gotten that bit of knowledge from an old Chinese apothecary and was glad that we'd stocked so many of the herbs he'd recommended. We had a better supply of herbs than some pharmacies. The cough was troublesome however and while I was dozing, we reached our next stop and James disappeared.
When next I awoke, a stranger was taking my pulse and talking in a low tone to my tightlipped partner. "I recommend a syrup of poppies to tame the cough. His temperature seems to be dropping which is all to the good. It seems to be nothing more than a cold but I don't want it to settle in his lungs so the sooner we rout it from his system the better."
"Thank you, Doctor Ransom. What else should we do?" He asked the rotund man with the jolly smile.
"The tea seems to be helping so I'd continue that." He saw my open eyes and smiled reassuringly at me. "Mr. Gordon, I'm Doctor Sam Ransom and I'm glad to meet you even under these less than ideal conditions."
"It's just a cold, Doctor." I rasped.
"Of course, it is." He said soothingly while opening his doctor's bag. "Now, here is a small bottle of the syrup of poppies. Give him no more than one teaspoon once every four hours. And if his temperature spikes again, increase the cold compresses. I'll check on him at the next stop which should be about ten hours from now."
"Thank you." I managed before beginning to cough again. James immediately uncorked the bottle and poured a rather shaky teaspoon full. I took it meekly.
James, part six
I felt fear flood my system while Artemis struggled to breathe and not cough. He was so strong that to see him laid low by some stupid germ seemed a travesty of justice. I kept him supplied with water and tea for he told me that flushing it from his body would be the best remedy. But I would take no chances with his health so I took the syrup of poppies from the doctor and made sure that he took it.
It made him sleepy and rather cross so once I'd escorted the doctor back to the passenger car, I put the bottle aside and just held him while he dozed. It had been many years since I'd believed in the vengeful god of my father's but Mother Maisy had reminded me of the kind god of my mother's so I found myself praying to him to keep Artemis healthy and strong enough to shake free of his cold.
He didn't seem as warm to me so I rocked him the way I remembered my mother rocking me when I was sick. I hummed what I could of the lullaby she always sang to me and hoped that it didn't sound too bad to him. He smiled and slept a little deeper than before so I gently eased from him and tidied the room, removing the tea things and putting more water on to boil.
All the while, I kept telling myself that he would be all right. Over and over, I said the words silently, 'it's only a cold, it's only a cold'. When the water boiled, I made a fresh pot of the white willow bark and watched it steep. Thinking of food, I looked around for something that might tempt his appetite. Remembering one of the gifts that Abigail had bestowed on us, I looked for and found the jellied consommé that she insisted would keep us well.
I put it on top of the stove and went back to check on Artemis while it heated. His face was flushed with the fever and he still coughed a little through the syrup but it wasn't the hacking cough that had frightened me so. He wasn't restless the way he'd been earlier so I returned to the kitchen and fished out the porcelain ball that he used for our drinking herbs. That reminded me that it had been three days since we'd cleaned ourselves out and made love.
Blaming myself for pushing us so hard, I tried to think what else I could do to bring him comfort. But he was coughing again and I hurried back to hold him. He was trying to stifle the cough but he couldn't. When the spasm passed, he whispered to me to go to the herbal medicine chest in my room and bring him the jars marked with the names golden seal and horehound.
I didn't want to leave him but he shooed me away and I hurried to the teak wood chest with the hinges that held all the herbs he'd stocked from the apothecary. They were in alphabetical order so it didn't take much time to find the ones he wanted. Hurrying back to him, he nodded and wrote down what I should do with them.
For the next two days, I napped when he did, held him through the cough and made endless pots of tea with the herbs he told me to use. The doctor called on him once a day and tried to make him keep taking the poppy syrup but Artemis was stubborn although charming and refused it.
That made me feel anxious but I trusted his knowledge and the doctor smelled a little of alcohol whenever he came back and it wasn't of the rubbing kind. So I made a cup of golden seal then one of dried horehound, then repeated them over and over. We were almost out of Missouri when I noticed that his skin was cool to the touch and that it had been two hours since he'd last coughed.
When he woke this time, he cleared his throat and asked for water. I helped him drink it and when he lay back, he looked a little brighter. "James, I feel quite empty. Is there any of that broth left?"
I kissed him hard and held back my tears of relief with difficulty. "I don't know but I'll go and look. How do you feel aside from that?"
"The horehound has broken the cough that worried you so but I think I'd better keep drinking the golden seal infusion although I hate the way it tastes. At the moment, I can't really taste anything. Maybe some of those hard cookies that we have in the tin in the parlor?" His sudden thought and needy look surprised me into a smile.
"I'll go and check, my Artemis." I kissed him again and left him closing his eyes and leaning back against the pillows. He was getting better and I felt like singing again but I kept it to a hum while I searched for something to tempt his appetite. Another jar of consommé was still on the shelf and I heated it for him while I looked for the tin of cookies he wanted.
He drank all the consommé and two of the cookies before falling asleep again and I rejoiced all the way back to the kitchen. Washing the dishes and putting everything away, I looked around and thought about food. Now that Artemis was getting better, I discovered that I was hungry, too. So I checked the icebox and found that the chicken smelled a little funny and some of the other ingredients looked a little the worse for sitting.
Checking my watch, I calculated that in another hour or so we'd be stopping at Topeka for about three hours for refueling and re-supplying the dining car. That would give me time to do some shopping and restocking of our larder. Going back to our bedroom, I watched him sleep while making a list of food that might tempt his appetite. I would check with the stationmaster about a good restaurant and get some ready made food for the moment.
I know full well that I will never be a cook. Boiling water is the extent of my expertise and it's all I've ever needed. But with Artemis' help, I should be able to at least put a roast on and keep it from burning. I noted down vegetables as well, perhaps there would be a market that I could shop. I'd watched him often enough to know what to look for in terms of quality and freshness.
"James." His croak was still rasping but I smiled at him in relief. "I feel much better. What are you working on?"
"A shopping list for our larder." I showed it to him and he blinked before getting his eyes to focus. "The chicken smells funny and some of the carrots are limp. The potatoes are all sprouting eyes and only the cabbage looks all right."
He chuckled and didn't cough which was a very good sign. "How long has it been since I succumbed to this damn cold?"
"We left Washington Saturday night and it's now Wednesday." I shivered again at how close I'd come to losing him. "You were very sick, my Artemis. I'm so glad that you know more about healing than the doctor seemed to."
"Modern medicine is graduating more quacks then doctors." He snorted and took the pencil from my hand. "Where are you shopping?"
I smiled at him fondly while he started making notes on the paper tablet. "Topeka in about an hour."
He nodded and kept on writing. "These are fine but we'll need fresh butter as well. And you'll need to check on our water supply as well. After going so long without a bath, I need one desperately. The doctor will be sure to tell you that it will weaken me to bathe but that's a silly superstition that should have been squashed decades ago. Most doctors don't even bother to wash their hands when it's been clinically proven that simple soap and water goes a long way at fighting infection in both wounds and childbirth."
That diatribe brought on another coughing spell but it was easily quelled with a drink of water. Finally he declared himself content with my list and I got him settled again with the promise of a bath later. I curled up beside him and stroked his temples. He smiled under my ministrations and fell back asleep with a sigh of my name.
Tears welled to the surface but I kept them under control. He'd frightened me with this illness and I feared that another such might carry him off. I would be very vigilant in watching him to make sure that he didn't have a relapse or try to do too much too soon. But for the moment he was getting better and I kept watch while plotting ways to keep him in bed until we got to California.
Everything worked out all right while I was shopping. He napped while I bought everything on the list and a few extras. The railroad café had chicken noodle soup as the special for the day and I bought half a gallon of it, storing it in covered bowls in the ice box which was also replenished with a new block of ice. Once I'd finished shopping, I prepared a bowl of soup for him and watched him eat it slowly.
"James, have you tried any of this?" He asked while spooning up the last of the noodles. "It's quite good and not something I'd expect from a railway café."
"I'll have some later, Artemis." I hadn't been very hungry lately because of worrying about him.
"Nonsense, sweetheart, go and get a bowl and I'll feed it to you. It seems an age since I got to feed you anything." He pouted just a little and I gave in with a smile, going and getting one of the bowls. And true to his word, he fed me spoonful by spoonful, occasionally leaning in to kiss away some that 'escaped' onto my lips.
It was a pale shadow of our normal meals but a good indication that we'd soon be back to normal. He napped again while I did the dishes and cleaned the carrots and potatoes to get them ready for dinner. The train jerked and began to move again and I thought thankfully of all the errands I'd gotten done.
Water was heating for Artemis' bath and I had several extra cans wedged between the wall and commode. I wanted him to lack for nothing so he would get well as fast as possible. For a solitary man, I'd missed his conversation and presence with a passion I normally reserved for our loving. No longer could I make it on my own with any equanimity. He'd spoiled me for that and given me expectations that only he could fill.
I heard my name faintly called and wiped my hands before hurrying back to him. He looked quite put out and I sat on the edge of the bed to hear what he needed.
"You were gone when I woke up." He said plaintively and I felt my heart swell with love for him. "What were you doing?"
"Washing vegetables so you can tell me how to prepare them for our dinner tonight." I took his hand in mine and held it to my cheek. "I don't like being away from you either but those carrots wouldn't scrub themselves."
"You could bring them back here and I'll help." He suggested hopefully.
"After your bath and another nap, I shall do just that." I promised him and watched him light up at the word 'bath'.
"Yes please, help me out of this bed and down to the bathroom. I feel as if it's been months instead of just days since I last bathed. I must stink to high heaven." He pushed back the covers and I hastened to help him up.
"No, you don't. You just smell a little stronger than usual of Artemis. And that's my favorite scent in all the world." I reassured him truthfully.
End of Journeys