Justin led him up the sweeping mahogany staircase in the entranceway and along the second-floor hall to the master suite’s dressing room. It was a large chamber for the purpose, with one wall lined by clothing racks. A dresser stood against another wall, alongside a tri-fold mirror, while a settee occupied the third wall. “Take off your shirt,” Justin ordered, flicking through the hangers.
Nik complied, peeling off gloves before looking down to untie his neckcloth. He was keenly aware of Justin’s presence in lieu of the usual valet, and the lack of any other observer. Nik’s fingers trembled slightly as he unfastened the buttons of the shirt. Justin had a spare shirt draped over his shoulder, held by two fingers; Nik could almost feel the heat of his dark-eyed gaze.
Justin closed the distance between them with a few strides. “Need a hand, Striker?” Then those strong hands were on Nik, pushing the shirt off pale shoulders, sleeves tangling around forearms as Nik hadn’t yet undone all the buttons. Justin leaned close to nuzzle at the fading bruises on Nik’s neck.
Nik swallowed. “Don’t, Justin,” he murmured, shivering with desire as tan hands caressed his biceps. “The greatcats. They’ll smell you on me.”
“Of course they will.” The stronger man shifted his weight to pin Nik against the wall, kissing the bruises, pressing the hard length of his body against Nik’s. “You’ll be wearing my shirt.”
Nik closed his eyes against the response of his body, the wave of need driven to an almost painful pleasure as Justin’s hand slipped into his breeches. He gasped with longing, hips thrusting of their own accord into Justin’s fingers. Nik squirmed an arm free of the shirt to caress his lover’s chest, then froze. “Won’t explain—” Nik lost the power of speech for a moment under Justin's attentions, a stifled whimper escaping. After drawing in a ragged breath, he struggled to get out, “my scent on you.” Justin closed his mouth on the side of Nik’s throat, and Nik stiffened, wanting nothing more than to lose himself to the sensation and terrified to do so.
A moment later, Justin released him and withdrew two paces. Nik reached for him reflexively, fingers clenching on air as Nik forced himself not to pursue. Curse it, I asked him to stop. I’ve no right to complain that he did. But he felt cold and bereft without Justin’s warm weight against him. “Of course.” Justin said, his own breathing not quite steady. “Of course.” He tossed the riding shirt to Nik and turned his back, straightening his cuffs. Nik drew the borrowed shirt on; it was too big across the chest and shoulders, the sleeves a trifle short, but it didn’t signify.
Justin’s composure was restored before they stepped into the hall; Nik wished he could say the same for his own. Six years. Why is it still so hard to get him out of my thoughts? Damn law and propriety and greatcat noses anyway. I should’ve picked something else. Hunting. Cards. Even billiards. Anything where we could be alone.
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