Talbot Sauvageot has kept his wicked lifestyle underground for several years, going from one lover to the next. Decadent rake to females by day, passionate lover for his latest male companion at night. When he is forced to flee Paris or face the guillotine, Talbot realizes none of the men he has bedded over the years burns at his soul like his dear friend Maxime LaRue.
“Paris?” Talbot snorted. “It is nothing but a vile city filled with close-legged maidens. No place for a refined fornicator such as myself. Now if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, the sun stings my eyes and the cognac does nothing to alleviate my symptoms.” Talbot stood, grasping the liquor bottle. “To your health and happiness, Maxime. May your cock find your bride-to-be wet and willing.” He pressed the bottle to his lips and took a long drag before staggering to the doors leading inside.
“I see his flare has not diminished stuck in the countryside.” Delron chuckled. “Hearty congratulations, my friend. Though I do ponder onto where we shall have our gatherings should this marriage stick.”
“I am sure Talbot will dust off his abode and send invites soon enough.” Maxime waved his friend off.
“Have you not heard?” Landis said.
“Talbot’s father has disavowed any and all rights to his inheritance for his insatiable need to stick wick in whatever dark crevice that shines when he is within his cups.” Landis leaned back in his chair. “I assumed he would confide in you since your relationship has been closer than any of us.”
Maxime rubbed his temples. When Talbot had arrived for their yearly get together, early and unannounced, he’d thought nothing of it. His friend often showed up at the spur of the moment and Maxime opened his doors wide. “He has told me nothing and I shall not discuss it unless he brings it up. I have known him long enough to know something must have happened beyond his rakish nature.” Maxime stretched his legs. “Stay, friends, for as long as you wish. I have to make ready for my bride.” He bowed slightly to his friends, offering a smirk and a wink, and walked away.
Inside, Maxime rung his hands and paced along the great hall. If his father knew about Talbot’s inheritance being stripped away, he would force Maxime to send him away. Men without titles had no place in their upper echelon. A cold feeling slithered inside his belly and he headed for the stairs leading to the guest chambers. He couldn’t let last night and the news Landis shared hang like a black cloud.
At the end of the hall, Talbot leaned against the stone wall. He teetered to one side as he downed the last of the amber liquid in his bottle. Maxime frowned. He wanted his friend sober for their conversation. His friend’s head swiveled and Maxime stared into Talbot’s icy blue eyes.
The oppressive heat of the upper level accented by the high sun had Maxime sucking in a deep breath. He tried to rationalize that the thick air left him short of breath and not the way Talbot’s shirt lay open. Beads of sweat glistened on his bare chest.
“You cannot marry her, Maxime.” The bottle slipped from Talbot’s fingers. It clanked on the floor but did not shatter. He stumbled along the wall.
“I have no choice.” He tensed as the smell of alcohol hit his nose.
“There is always a choice.” Talbot came inches from his face.
Maxime pressed against the wall, his gaze never leaving Talbot’s. “Non, my friend. I must marry. It will not lessen our friendship. I will always welcome you under my roof.”
“Even if a rake like me invades your bedchamber?”
Maxime let out a nervous laugh, the heat of Talbot’s skin searing his flesh. “I trust you, mon ami. You have been in many beds but none were married women.”
“It is not your future wife that should be cautious.” Talbot claimed his mouth and Maxime groaned against the invasion.
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