I awoke with a start and put out a hand for David but his side of the bed was empty and had been for some moments if the cool sheets were any indication. He was probably just in the bathroom, being a restless sleeper and having a very small bladder. Now that I was awake, I planned to surprise him in return for the joy he'd given me earlier. My memories were sweet indeed while I dozed a little.
But then I realized that it had been over ten minutes. Where could he be? Had dinner disagreed with him? I swung my legs over the side of the old oak bedstead and reached for my robe. A noise from the door heralded his return with the oil lamp from the dining room. He sat it on the dresser and began to remove the heavy velvet robe I'd given him for Christmas.
"What was wrong, David?" I asked.
"I thought I heard a noise from the shop so I went down to investigate." He said it matter of factly.
"You should have awakened me." I frowned. I do not like to think of him confronting the unknown alone. He is too brave for his own good.
He looked at me affectionately. "It was just a noise, Josiah. I wondered if we'd left one of the cats in the shop. When I unbolted the door at the foot of the stairs, you know how it sticks, I heard another sound." He hesitated and hung up the velvet robe on the hook by the dresser, standing there in his flannel nightshirt suddenly uncertain. "Like a click, very loud in the silence of the shop. Opening the door, I held the lamp up but there was nothing there. I checked the workroom and found the backdoor unlocked. It was shut but the lock wasn't turned."
"What! That's not possible. I locked it when I put out the trash this afternoon. Neither of us went out that way later." I sat back on the edge of the bed and thought about my movements after we closed the shop.
"Perhaps you just thought you had, love. It's such a habit that maybe this time you forgot. You did just turn forty. Maybe it's your age catching up with you." He teased me slyly while he crossed the room to stand between my knees.
"Age? Old am I? Imp, you go too far." I scolded in mock anger. "And you went into what might have been a dangerous situation without me. I fear that your behavior may need correction. Did you re-bolt the stair door?"
David nodded and shivered before me, his eyes turning the sultry blue of the ocean during a storm. Correction always turns him wanton. "I will check the door and get the instrument of correction. You know what position to take." I headed for the bedroom door and took the lamp with me. The door to the stairs was of course bolted, he values our privacy too much to forget it, and I retreated to the bathroom to get his hairbrush. He loves being chastised with it.
When I returned to our room, I found him kneeling naked by the arm-less slipper chair, his fair hair shining like one of Bottecelli's angels in the light of the bed lamp. I'd replaced the other lamp in the dining room and came in with the tool of his correction in my hand. His eyes gleamed in the lamplight and his lips trembled with the need to appear properly contrite. This was a game that we had played for many years and still it satisfied.
I removed my nightshirt slowly, throwing the brush on our bed and he watched me, his eyes following every movement and flex of muscle. He has told me over and over that he finds me beautiful but I fear he is the only one who sees me so. But he is the important one so I am content with my stature and bulk.
"How powerful you look in the lamp light. Your skin is bronzed with color and the black curls tempt me to touch and touch and never stop touching." His voice was husky and I could feel my shaft begin to lift towards him, seeking its home within him. "So strong and yet so gentle with me. I am not a weak creature who will break easily. Come and give me my penance."
I sat in the chair and handed him the brush, motioning him across my lap. He assumed the position with mock reluctance, pushing himself against me sensuously and settling over my legs as he had earlier for his cleansing. "Scamp. I see you intend to fully enjoy your spanking." He had inserted the ivory plug and I pushed it in and out briefly, making him squirm and moan.
"Yes-s-s." He shivered and rubbed himself against me, his protests part of the play that we acted out in these moments.
I took the brush from his hand and stroked it over his back and down over the plug to the soft sac that hung between his legs. That brought another moan and he tried to press his legs together but I would not allow it and I spread them with my hands, placing them on either side of the footstool that I wasn't using and commanding him to leave them there. I brought the brush back up and smoothed the bristles over the tender skin between the sac and his well-filled puckered muscle. He was shivering continuously now and I knew it was time for the next step.
I flipped the brush over to the flat broad head and began to pepper his buttocks with light slaps that warmed his skin to a rosy flush. He squirmed and pleaded with me to stop, all the while lifting his ass wantonly for the next stroke. Every third spank glanced off the plug and stimulated his inner gland making him moan and hiccup with need. Soon his entire ass and upper thighs were bright red and glowing with the heat. His cries had reached a level I recognized as the point for the next step.
His cock was rock hard between my thighs and I was not far behind. Reversing the brush again, I began to tickle his heated skin with the bristles and he was soon pleading for me to take him and put out the fire. I laid the brush aside and handed him the pot of cream that we used for penetration. He slid off my lap and hastily brushed away a few tears before sitting on my lap facing me with his legs over my thighs.
"Too much, love? Did I hurt you?" I asked, genuinely concerned that I had misread his reactions.
"Never!" He kissed me passionately and began to rub my cock with the cream. Finally pulling away, he smiled at me. "You could never hurt me. It was just so intense for a moment that I forgot we were playing."
"I never wish to harm you, David. You are my heart and soul. Hurting you would be hurting myself." I stroked his pale skin soothingly and fingered the plug still snugly seated where I wished to be.
"Take it out, sweetheart and fill me with yourself. I'm on fire and only you can put it out." He kissed me again and I pulled it out with a moist pop of suction that made us both groan.
Holding his cheeks in my hands, I spread them apart and waited for him to guide me home. Still well lubricated from our earlier loving, he rose from my lap and slowly sank down onto my hard staff. Oh, the feel of him enclosing me with his warmth is something I will never get used to, not if I live to be one hundred will the wonder and joy of loving him ever fade.
"Oh, my." He sighed and wriggled a little closer before beginning the teasing glide up and then down again. The long, lean muscles of his thighs flexed while he rode me with increasing fervor. I thrust up and hit his prostate, feeling him clench around me, but in this position, most of the control is his and after a spanking, that is what he needs.
Playing with my nipples, he tormented the small brown nubs with soft caresses and hard pinches that made me arch towards him, stimulating that inner gland again. Suddenly, the velvet glove sensation was not enough and I surged up from the chair, still holding his cheeks. He yelped and grabbed my shoulders to keep his balance and I began walking across the room to our bed. Each step jolted me deeper within him and he began those panting groans that make me lose all control.
His legs were now tight around my waist, squeezing me in two. By the bed, I tilted him backwards and found him at just the right angle on the edge of the bed, to volley my thrusts against his gland. Bouncing on the bed in time to my movements, he moaned my name over and over. I felt my release begin to fray the nerve endings in my body and when he froze around me with a shout, we both let go and came into each other's keeping.
Slumping to his chest, I tried to get my breath back and still the tremors in my legs but my racing heart refused to slow. Gradually, I heard his voice in my ear calming me while his hands traced soothing patterns up and down my back. We were two again after being one body for such a brief moment. Pulling back, I saw the same regret in his eyes, I know was in mine. Such union is rare and treasured for its joy.
Gingerly, I pulled myself from his depths and he bit his lip at the loss of my possession. I gathered him in my arms and carried him to the kitchen for the cleanup necessitated by our loving. The water in the hob was nicely warm and we used a pair of kitchen towels to wipe each other clean of the evidence of our love. In the glare of the kitchen gaslight, I checked his opening to be sure that I had not been too rough. My greatest fear was that I would harm him as his 'customers' had while he was enslaved in the whorehouse.
"You could never harm me, dear heart. I love you too much for there to be any pain. If I could have you inside of me twenty four hours a day, it would not be too much." He reads my mind sometimes with such accuracy.
Kissing his most private mouth, I then dabbed on the healing cream that Watson had given us for just such occasions. He wiggled and laughed at its coolness, then sighed when I spread it as deep inside of him as my middle finger would go. Taking hold of my disgraceful libido, I finished by washing my hands and trying not to catch his eye. Really, for a man of my age, I should not be thinking about making love for a third time in one evening.
Or rather morning since in a few hours we would need to be up and about. His arms slid around my waist and he pressed kisses up my spine until he reached my neck where he licked at my sensitive hairline. I shuddered and covered his hands with mine, holding him in place.
"To bed, my love. We need a few hours sleep at least before we investigate the shop to see if we're missing any books." I turned in his arms and caught him smiling.
"All right." He pressed close and rubbed against me teasingly. "You older men get so cranky when you don't get your sleep."
Growling in mock anger, I quickly bent and hoisted him over my shoulder to carry him to bed. Stopping to blow out the lamp, I ignored his laughing gasps and the rain of half hearted blows upon my back. In our bedroom, I gently threw him on the bed and turned out that lamp as well before sliding in beside him and pulling him up over me like I would pull up a blanket.
He snuggled close, his head nestled in the hollow of my shoulder and his satiated cock in its own warm nest between my thighs. "Love you, Josiah. Never stop loving you." He yawned against my skin with a moist puff of air.
"Loving you is my reason for living, David." I brushed a kiss over the fair hair beneath my chin. "Now go to sleep and dream of me."
"Always." His sleepy murmur was the last thing I heard before falling back asleep.
I watched David move a little gingerly the next morning while we checked the inner sanctum to see if any of the rare books were missing. Before we moved out to the main floor, I stopped him and tilted up his head to see if there was pain. He could never hide that from me ... not when I can see his eyes, the windows to his heart and soul.
"No, there's no pain, Josiah." His clear blue gaze smiled up at me. "Just this reminder that you were deep inside of me last night. An ache that begs to be filled again and again." Each word was punctuated by a soft kiss over my freshly shaven cheeks and chin.
I groaned softly, unwilling to give Alfred any clues to what we were doing, although he probably knew full well. His longtime lover worked at the British Museum, one of a hundred assistant curators. He specialized in Oriental porcelains and we had all four enjoyed many an evening discussing our varied interests. It was extremely convenient to not have to hide who or what we were from such a long time employee. I knew full well how rare a case that was.
"You must heal from my over enthusiastic loving first before. I never wish to hurt you, even by accident. As you should know by now." I held him at arm's length and he laughed up at me.
"Well then, I shall have to be very, very bad so you must chastise me again."
I caught him up into a fervent kiss, sucking his tongue straight into my mouth and entwining it with my own. When we broke for air, I rested my forehead against his and sighed. "In two days time, I wish you to take me after a little chastising of my own."
His eyes lit up and he wriggled all over before gently brushing his mouth over mine. "Yes, all right. I thought up something new the other day. I think you'll like it."
"I'm sure I will. Now, back to work. If we each take a duster, we can go over most of the shop before we open at ten." I stepped away from him reluctantly and moved ahead of him into the public area. Something new? It sounded ... interesting and it was with an extreme act of will that I brought my mind back to the task at hand.
I explained to Alfred the alarm in the night and he took the north wall to check and see if anything was missing. David and I took the east and west walls respectively. A used bookstore like ours needs to have an air of clutter to give the customer the feeling that he or she is going to find a treasure hidden away, unknown to us. But the untidy appearance masks an order that would be immediately apparent to another bookseller. After a half an hour's intense inspection, nothing was found to be missing.
"Josiah, this is odd." David had a book in one hand and a letter in the other, his duster wedged on top of a row of books just above counter level. "I know we went through all these books before putting them out and this wasn't here then. Do you think we're acting as some lover's post office?"
I crossed over and we met at the counter. The cream colored envelope held a canceled stamp, a smudged postmark I couldn't read and an address in northern London. The envelope was open and part of what appeared to be a shopping list was jotted on the back. "Soap, foot powder, razor blades and ... what is that word?" I struggled to make it out.
"Brush? Is there anything inside?" David's fingers pulled back the flap and ran his fingers over the glue. The untouched glue.
Our eyes met while we pondered how an envelope could go through the mails without ever being sealed. There was a sheet of thick, rich paper inside and David's slender fingers pulled it out gently while I looked inside to be sure there was nothing else there. Nothing.
"It looks very ordinary, Josiah. Except for the ink of course. Who uses purple ink these days?" He held it flat against the counter and Alfred joined us, craning his neck to read the short note. The short, completely mundane note about tea and shopping on Saturday.
"Dated two weeks ago." Alfred noted.
"Could it be a code? Like in that story that Dr. Watson wrote, the Adventure of the Dancing Men."
"That was symbols that he had to decipher into English words." Alfred objected. We were all three inveterate readers of the good Doctor.
"But this could be a substitution code of some kind." I mused and read it over again.
"Well, I think we should send it to Holmes and see what he says. Explain what happened and let him ferret out its secrets. If there are any." David smiled and glanced at the grandfather clock that stood in an alcove near my office door. "Heavens, we need to put up the blinds and open the door."
Alfred gave a low exclamation of dismay and began a quick tidying away of our dust cloths. I slipped the odd letter into my pocket and went to the front door to open for business. David rolled up the inner blinds and let the early morning glimmer of winter light into the shop. The snow was still shoveled off the sidewalks and one of our regulars was shivering on the doorstep when I opened it.
"Good morning, Mr. Harbottle. Do you have that Sumerian text for me?" Jonathan King was a student in theology at Oxford doing some reading at the British Museum for the semester. He had the financial means to collect the books and manuscripts he needed instead of just borrowing them from learned institutions.
I did indeed have the manuscript for which he'd been looking and the morning passed quickly after I'd satisfied him. Business was brisk and the three of us were kept quite busy until about two o'clock when I sent Alfred off for a mid-day meal. I'd taken a moment to write a quick note and seal it with the letter and its envelope into a small package that he could slip into his pocket and deliver to Dr. Watson's office. It was on his way to the restaurant where he usually met Simon, his lover.
For some reason, I did not wish to draw attention to our finding of the letter. I had the vague feeling that there were eyes upon us and had been since we'd thrown up the blinds. During a lull between customers, David asked me quietly what was wrong.
I shrugged. "A feeling. I don't know what it is. Just a feeling."
"I'm going up to eat. Will you be all right alone? I could send Mrs. Green down to tidy up your office?" He said slyly. He knows how much I hate to have anyone but him touching anything in the office, especially our charwoman, who has a heart of gold but a very heavy hand when it comes to cleaning.
"I'll be fine, David. Off with you and don't eat all the shepherd's pie. Save some for your poor starving partner." I tried to sound pathetic but he just laughed and disappeared into the workroom and up the stairs to our rooms.
The rest of the day passed quietly. I took my turn upstairs to eat and endured a constant stream of dialog from the good woman who comes daily to cook and clean for us. It never took more than a ... 'really' or a ... 'you don't say' to make her happy. She's a treasure and very forgiving of our life style. She's been with us since David joined the household and she mothers him as I don't think he was ever mothered at home. But then he doesn't talk about his family much at all.
A note came from Dr. Watson acknowledging our package and inviting us to visit 221B Baker Street at nine that night. The small urchin who brought the note waited and took our acceptance and a new shilling back with him. I don't know where he finds his young helpers but in his own way, I think he cares for the poor as David and I do.
We were open until seven o'clock that night and David was on tender hooks while we ate the tea that Mrs. Green had left for us. He loves a good mystery and the thought that we might be a part of one excited him into chattering speech that I let flow over me like the waters of a babbling stream.
"I know, I'm talking too much." He grinned and sat on my lap with his arms around my neck. Thank goodness all our chairs are good, strong English oak.
"You'll have to behave yourself with Holmes, little imp." I kissed him tenderly as I had wished to do a hundred times during the day.
"Heavens. I won't say a word once we get there." He rested his head on my shoulder and shivered. "He's so stern and quiet, I'd be afraid to say anything for fear he would think me an idiot."
"It's true he doesn't suffer fools gladly but he is not an ogre, David. I think he is shy and very reserved around people he doesn't know well." I could not betray a confidence but I suddenly wished to share his and Watson's love with my own lover.
He knows me too well, leaning back in my arms and gazing at me in speculation. "You consider him a friend."
"Yes. I believe I do. As much as he can be a friend. He's such a private man that I fear to trespass on his time. But I do know he craves mental stimulation and this just may be a puzzle that he will enjoy."
"Well, at least Dr. Watson will be there. He's as warm hearted as Holmes is cold." David snuggled closer and began to stroke my chest.
"Oh, I don't know, love. Holmes is quite passionate in his search for the truth. Perhaps that spills over into other parts of his life as well." It was as close as I could get to telling him without their permission.
"Hm-m-m. May we walk over to Baker Street? It seems we've been very sedentary today." David sat upright and looked expectantly at me.
"Yes, of course. But that means we should leave now. It's a good forty minutes to 221B." I smiled fondly at my energetic lover. Such a beautiful bundle of energy and all mine, I thought in satisfaction.
"Thank you!" And he sprang up to get ready.
Within a few moments, we were on our way, well dressed against the elements. Within a block, that odd feeling of being watched was back but it was impossible to tell who it could be. Even after eight o'clock, the streets were well filled with people. Was I just obsessing over nothing? However tonight turned out, I decided, we were taking a cab home. I would not risk David's safety.
It was a relief when we reached our destination. Mrs. Hudson answered our knock with a smile and help with our coats. David smiled at her and kissed her hand in thanks. I watched while she patted his cheek and asked him if he were eating enough. I've found it's his slender good looks that bring out the maternal instinct in most women.
The door to the upper rooms opened and Dr. Watson appeared, calling down. "Welcome, Josiah. How are you, David? Come up and have a drink on this cold night."
And we climbed the stairs in search of an answer to our little mystery.
End chapter five