Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Good Knight by Sharon Marie Bidwell

Licinius is an adamite-knave, an ancient but largely dishonourable profession. He doesn't expect much from life and silently bemoans his existence, yet he does what he does to take care of his family. He certainly never expects to have his wish -- to spend one good night with one good knight -- fulfilled in the arresting form but strange and confusing personality of Crassius de Chartres. Overcome with lust (and love) at first sight, Licinius is willing and eager, especially when the knight insists, "Your pleasure is my pleasure."

Licinius is about to experience an incredible knight, one that is going to leave him a quivering wreck come morning, caged in a way he never expected, and possibly vagrant. He must be mistaken because Crassius wouldn't do anything to hurt him, would he? Will he finally understand the true meaning of the knight's motto and share his idea of pleasure?

One good night with one good knight: is that really too much to ask?
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Wishes did come true. At least if this was Crassius, one particular wish had. Licinius stared at the tall, muscular dark-haired knight who stood dripping in the doorway of his tent and could only gape. From the medium-length dark wavy hair to the dark eyes, those broad shoulders and the flash of manly chest in the open neckline of the linen tunic, he could see nothing but gorgeousness.

His mind flashed back to earlier events. He'd seen Crassius de Chartres at the choosing house, but never had he suspected he could ever be so lucky. Things like this just didn't happen to him.

Like always, he'd begun the day wondering whom it would be tonight. He'd gazed out from the door of the choosing house at the approaching cavalcade, the long procession of knights-errant in search of war. Well, they had found one... and won. They rode into town weary but exultant, the lesser injured attending to those who needed urgent attention. Physicians and surgeons rushed forward as did leeches, those monks so named after the creatures they used to cure the sick.

Licinius wasn't paying mind to the injured or dying or those who would try to heal them; he couldn't help, would only get in the way, and had no say in who lived or died. He was looking at the knights who had fared better, some of them mercenaries. They were in the mood to celebrate; that meant good business and that was where young men such as he came in.

"Why torture yourself?" one of the other young men had asked coming up behind him and staring out from his side where Licinius stood, arms folded by the open "inviting" entryway. Licinius had cast his questioner a glance. "You always look so anxious. What does it matter the type of man? Close your eyes. If you get a fat one, lie back and think of..."

Licinius tuned the rest out until the other lad had his say and turned away. He'd heard it all before. So what if he was always a little anxious? Mayhap he had sold his body to this life, did that mean he had to sell his soul? It wasn't a fat knight he feared. Fat was fat and by their very nature, most of these men were fit; they had to be if they wanted to survive for long. Their armour alone weighed more than most men could carry. That didn't mean all of them washed and some came to him with spilled wine or food in their beards... or worse. What they wanted to do with him was never as rough as their manner. What wouldn't he give for one evening spent with a clean, freshly shaved man? The saying went be careful what you wished for, but how could he not wish for that which his heart most desired?

A good night with one good knight: was that truly too much to ask?

Apparently not.

"Careful," the knight said, never taking his gaze from Licinius's face though directing the word at two men who ducked into the tent. Carefully placing the knight's belongings on the ground, they left as swiftly as they had entered. The knight wasn't wearing his armour. While this wasn't unusual in itself being that he'd come here for physical pleasure, some knights demanded attention the moment they returned from the field of battle. One knight had forced Licinius to his knees, insisting he only remove the most essential pieces necessary for the performance of his task. The moment said knight climaxed in Licinius's mouth, he'd shouted for his squire to put his battle gear to rights, and then he was off again to find the next conflict.

This one looked as if he was well prepared to settle down for the night, and from what Licinius saw, maybe that wasn't a bad thing. The man was handsome... and clean. He'd bathed, hence the dripping. That was what shocked Licinius to silence; that and the fact Chartres had saved the king's life this day. The rumour was the king intended to honour him with property and land.

Water pooled off his free-flowing hair even as the knight stood there, moisture soaking into the simple linen undershirt he wore. Glancing down, Licinius took in a glimpse of underpants with hose. Even now, the knight began to remove his gambeson, the quilted jacket knights wore to keep their armour from chafing. His helmet, chainmail, surcoat, shield, and some weaponry lay where the men had left it, set out in an orderly fashion to one side of the tent. Even at a glance, Licinius could tell the chainmail was of fine quality, and that this knight had wealth; indeed, was soon to have more, though that hardly mattered. As long as the knight had paid the required price, they had no argument. The fact that he was here said he had. No one deceived the choosing house.

Realising he still gaped, Licinius closed his mouth. To think he'd not wanted the knight to catch him waiting at the entrance to his tent and to appear eager. Now look at him. The knight was sure to have noticed his reaction.

A while ago, he'd torn his gaze from the sunset he knew so well, forsaking the sight for the sanctuary of canvas. In these parts, each evening blue morphed into yellow and then pink, finally to mauve before tones of grey edged the evening sky to black. His tent, which was his home and place of business, gradually became just another curious shape in a sea of such shapes. This very evening, knights walking by had cast interested looks his way, but they had already chosen and he was not theirs for the taking upon a whim. Even so, one had stopped to ask his name and Licinius had given it.

The knight had looked him up and down. "I may be in the mood for a blond tomorrow. Mayhap I will seek you out."

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