“Wash up, lazybones, and take those furs to Sir Charles,” the tanner ordered. The day’s chill turned his breath to a liquor-laden mist.
“Sir Charles, Father?” Tanners asked, confused.
The tanner rolled his eyes to the heavens. “Oh ye gods, why curse me with such a stupid boy?” He turned to the young man. “The banker, the one whose son you don’t like. He’s offered three gold for the lot.”
Tanners scowled. “Everyone follows him like sheep. He calls me names that I don’t understand. He never has a kind word for me.”
“The boy? No reason why he should,” his father riposted with a belch, “but it’s neither the master you’ll be seeing nor his sly serpent of a son. Speak to the steward so you don’t offend the household, and don’t come back without my coin. Do you think your thick head can handle it?”
“Good. Be on your best behavior. Should you encounter Charles the Younger, stay clear of his path.”
Tanners shivered on the cart and clicked his tongue at the donkey. Would it snow this year, he wondered? The last time the town had seen snow Tanners had been barely old enough to remember it. He hoped that Keilan was somewhere warm and safe.
Why does the banker live so far from the town? Tanners wondered as the donkey brayed its dissatisfaction with the long stretch of road. “Easy, Donkey,” he said soothingly. Tanners could understand the animal’s frustration. Cold, none other of its kind to talk to, the donkey was probably just as confused that a wealthy man would buy a wood and put his house in the middle of it.
The wind rustled the dead leaves and nipped at the young man’s ears. Tanners felt strangely discontent; a little morose without understanding the reason. He had visited Melody and the baby last night, Father had been too drunk to cuff him all day, and he’d had a bath already. Why was he so restless? Perhaps he had gone to long without his brute. Since Keilan’s departure there had been nothing to stand between Tanners’ beast and its growing dominance.
After ages the donkey hawed onto a packed dirt road that ended at a gate. Scents from a smokehouse wafted over the crisp winter breeze, and fowl squawked comically in the courtyard. The complex was huge. There were fields beyond the stone house and courtyard, horses grazing in a pasture, and what looked to be an orchard.
Tanners stopped his cart near the stables and wrapped the reins around a hitching post. “Bye, Donkey. I won’t be long.” He patted the animal’s sturdy neck and approached the nearest servant. “Excuse me, but where might I find the steward?”
The stable boy made a sign against evil. “He’ll be in the main house,” he answered, taking care to stand on the young man’s right side. “Be sure you say the names of three gods before you step foot across the threshold. The master will tolerate no devilry.”
“Aye,” Tanners replied. His demon met holy names with indifference, but the young man knew it was better to be safe than sorry. He knocked on the servant’s door and waited for a maid to open it before covering his blue eye and reciting the gods. She showed him to the main hall.
“Wait there,” she ordered.
Tanners sat on the hard stone bench she had indicated. He wished that he could sit on the furs and keep his buttocks warm, but settled for draping the bundle over his lap. I hope the steward arrives soon, Tanners thought. The opulent tapestries and soft brush of slippered feet on wood made him uncomfortable. He didn’t belong in this world.
“What,” a man hissed, “is that thing doing in my home?”
Tanners whipped his head up to see Sir Charles glowering at him from the entryway. The man with all the keys standing to the banker’s side—was he the steward?—wrung his hands. Swiftly Tanners stood and bowed.
The banker addressed his steward. “Again, what is that thing doing here?”
Taking care not to cast his cursed gaze on the master of the house, Tanners spoke up. “I’ve delivered the furs, your lordship. For your son’s birthday.”
The man made a noise of disgust. “Someone translate the beast’s words.”
Tanners scowled fiercely at the floor and clenched his hands while his restive demon gnashed its teeth.
“The gifts,” the steward explained, “for the young master’s wedding.” He snapped at a maid, who accepted the heavy bundle from the tanner’s boy with an unsubtle sign against evil.
Sir Charles waved a dismissive hand. “Give him one gold and five silver, and see him away from this place immediately,” he said, then turned to bark at the young maid. “See those to the priest before he leaves. I won’t have tainted goods in my home.”
Choke him, the demon urged. The steward is a weakling and the girl will only scream. Leap upon the banker’s corpulent body and end his life. Tanners shoved the beast down in its cage. Father had warned him to be on his best behavior. Though he was unlearned in the ways of society and etiquette, Tanners was positive that killing a man over an insult would involve disobeying Father’s orders.
So busy was he arguing with the devil that Tanners didn’t notice the weak steward propelling him out of the door. Only the slam behind him brought him from his reverie. Tanners stared into his hand. “Don’t come home without my coin,” Fathers had said. One gold. Five silver. That was less than half of the agreed sum. A chill pricked Tanners’ spine and raised gooseflesh. Father would be furious, but couldn’t return to the banker with demands for money. He would have no choice but to beat Tanners bloody for it.
Lie to him, suggested the devil. Tanners shook his head. How would a lie change five silver to two gold? Refuse to leave until you’ve received the full amount. No, the banker had used Tanners’ demonic possession to cheat the youth’s father. Should Tanners stay he could be arrested and all his coin confiscated. Run to the goatherd. Ah, that was it. Consulting Melody was the first help that Tanners’ devil had offered all day. He could avoid his father, see his friend, and…Where was Donkey?
The cart stood where he had left it, but the animal was nowhere in sight. Panic seized his heart. Not only had he offended the household and botched the furs transaction, but somehow he had misplaced the tannery’s only transport. Had the donkey somehow gotten loose and returned home? He hurried to the gate to look out at the road, then to the stables. There were so many horses in sight, but none had the petite stature and long ears of his beloved creature. The child to whom Tanners had spoken earlier was filling troughs. Tanners ran up to him.
“Where’s Donkey?” he asked the stable boy. The child pointed to a stall at the end of the building, but before he could open his mouth a most odious voice filled Tanners’ ears.
“Ah, tanner’s whelp.”
Tanners whirled around at the sound of the familiar tenor. Charles the Younger was leading two other young men through the stable, looking pleased with himself.
“You smell less of urine today. Got fancied up to come see us?”
Tanners frowned. His devil did not like Charles the Younger; it sensed a swift and venomous viper in him. The demon stretched and unsheathed its claws at the youth’s approach. It must have been the devil that pulled the banker’s boy here, Tanners realized sourly. The beast had always been unsatisfied with Tanners’ lot in life, and felt need to remind him of status’ epitome—flaxen hair nearly white in the afternoon sun, pale and smooth skin, a nose that had never been broken, fine clothing cut close to highlight a lithe figure unused to heavy labor. The demon wanted to break him and Tanners both. Stay clear. His father’s words rang in his ears. Stay clear.
Tanners backed away from his cart and lowered his gaze. There was a door at the other end of the stable next to the falconry. He had seen it on his way in. Stay clear. He turned heel and fled.
“What is he doing?” one of Charles’s companions asked as they watched Tanners bolt from the stable.
Tanners didn’t hear the young master’s reply, but he hoped that they didn’t chase him down together. The smokehouse on the edge of the lawn was further than the other outbuildings; perhaps he could hide there until the mean boys’ interested had waned. He dashed behind it to huddle against the warm brick. Coward, his beast taunted. I could have taught him to use our name with more respect. Tanners shook the demon’s claws from his shoulders. As little as he could trust the evil in his breast he trusted Charles the Younger even less.
Fine red shoes filled his vision. “Who trained you to run when you’re called? Bad dog.”
Tanners looked up at the slender figure but dropped his eyes almost immediately. How had the banker’s son found him so quickly? “I’m no dog,” he grumbled.
“You brought furs, did you not?” The boy leaned against the brick wall.
“Aye,” the young man replied, resentment written on his face. “They were fine furs for your birthday.”
“My wedding,” Charles corrected.
“And your father only paid me half the price because his servants let my devil in,” Tanners continued bitterly. “Father sent me; I didn’t ask to come.”
The blond considered that for a moment. “You’re possessed, are you not? Couldn’t you have said, ‘Suck my cock, you aged goat. Give me the five gold you owe me or I’ll send a pestilence to your house,’ or something akin to that?”
Tanners glared so fiercely at the red shoes that he did not notice the wearer’s smile. “Five gold is too much. Moreover, I would not ask such an intimate favor from a man I did not like.”
“I forgot,” Charles mockingly apologized, “that catamites prefer to give rather than receive, at least on the top end. But you should be long accustomed to wrinkly old dicks in your mouth.”
I’ll chew him up, the demon offered. “I’ve only had one dick in my mouth,” Tanners snapped, “and it wasn’t old or wrinkled.”
“That was figurative…You’ve really sucked a man’s cock?” the boy asked, incredulous.
The tanner’s son and his devil looked up at Charles the Younger. Had some dark secret been revealed? What was so shocking? The demon clicked sharp teeth, but its honest host nodded in affirmation and then shrugged. “Only one, so I don’t know if I was very good at it.”
The boy leaned his back against the bricks and laughed with unconvincing derision. “So you reckon that it takes skill. Would you like to practice, perhaps graduate from apprentice to journeyman?”
Tanners scowled at the boy. “Don’t mock me. I don’t like it, and you’ll make the devil angry.”
Rolling his blue eyes, Charles stood. “Perhaps if your skull were not so thick…”
In one swift and brutal motion Tanners rose to his feet and slammed the boy against the wall.
The young man grinned. “Hello, devil.”
“Hold your tongue,” Tanners ordered. His breath was coming faster. He must calm down or else loose the demon. Calm, Tanners told himself, though he did not know how to slow his beating heart with thoughts alone.
Charles’ pink lips turned up at the corners. “I’d rather hold yours.”
Tanners blinked. “Pardon?”
“I said,” the boy slid his fingertips up Tanners’ sides, “I’d rather hold yours.”
Tanners was too ticklish for such a light touch and backed out of the young master’s reach. What could Charles the Younger mean by wishing to hold someone else’s tongue? Images of pincers and dungeons flashed through Tanners’ mind.
“Whose cock was it?”
Tanners shook his head to clear his thoughts. “Whose cock?” he repeated.
“You sucked a man’s cock, I’d wager with some zeal.” Charles folded his arms. “I inquire as to whose.”
It was Keilan’s, who was likely leagues away fighting villains and demons. Would he ever return? This discourse was making Tanners very lonely. “I shan’t tell you,” he muttered.
“Such a pout on your fine lip! Let me guess,” the banker’s son said meanly. “It was that big brute squad member, the one you panted after all summer.”
Charles spread his hands. “Anyone could see the way you lusted after him, presenting yourself like a bitch in heat.”
“I didn’t do that.”
“Of course you did, Tanners. He fucked you, did he not? He fucked you like a bull fucks a cow, and you begged for more.”
“Stop. He was kind to me. I was very happy.”
“Kind? He spent moons dangling his cock in front of you until he finally let you gobble it up. Then he left you. He’s in some other town, stuffing some other simpleton’s ass. Now you can’t find a man willing to risk his dick in order to satisfy that hungry cunt you call an anus.”
No. It was all wrong. The stupid banker’s boy didn’t know the half of it. He was sullying a beautiful memory. Even his devil was growing angry. “Stop it!”
Charles snickered, “Besides, does that not leave you a virgin still, never having dipped your cock into that brawny oaf’s ass?”
The devil took hold of the rich boy’s upper arms and pinned him to the wall.
“Ouch,” the boy said calmly.
Tanners gripped the young man so fiercely his knuckles whitened. “You dare to mock that which you do not know,” the demon said in a growl.
Leaning as far as Tanners’ grip would allow, the young man ran his pink tongue over Tanners’ cheekbone, under his devil’s eye. Tanners immediately recoiled in shock. The banker’s son grinned.
“You shouldn’t do that,” Tanners warned. The devil spread its wings and stretched.
“Why?” the youth retorted with a smirk. “I see I was right to guess that being rutted like a sow would shrivel your balls, you eunuch.”
Was it anger that flooded his body and tightened his gut? The demon was pacing in Tanners’ skull, but there was something else beside it that kept him from sending the beast back to its cage. “Say you’re sorry.”
The young man’s face was so close that Tanners could feel his lips move when he spoke. “Make me sorry.”
It was the demon that took Charles by the shoulders and spun him around. It was the demon’s body that held the younger man’s upper body against the wall and kicked his legs apart. It must have been the demon, because Tanners suddenly felt the need to punish the boy’s insolence with the turgid member that strained his breeches.
“Drop your trousers,” he growled, pressing his loins to the boy’s soft buttocks, “unless you want me to rip them from you.”
The banker’s son untied the laces but looked back at Tanners with scorn. “You wouldn’t dare, peasant scum.”
Tanners slapped the boy’s ass in response. Charles yelped, but did not capitulate.
“You think one demon eye and an engorged shaft frighten me?” he sneered, sounding slightly winded. “You’ll have to use more effort than that.”
The demon wrapped its claws around Tanners’ brain. Fuck him, fuck him, it whispered insidiously. Fuck him until he begs you to stop. Tanners stepped back only to take hold of the young man’s trousers and yank them to his feet.
“You have the lily white buttocks of a girl,” the devil jeered as Tanners untied his belt.
“What would you know?” Charles spat back, watching the tanner’s son free his cock from his breeches. “Only one of us has ever seen a naked woman. The other has only played the role.”
“Then you’ll be the first to do both,” Tanners returned, and he grabbed his tumescent manhood and shoved it at the young man’s puckered entrance.
Charles let out a gasp of pain; he was too tight to enter smoothly and Tanners had no oils. He leaned down and spat on the pink hole, unceremoniously burying a finger inside to prepare the way for his cock. The demon inside laughed as the boy’s legs shook when Tanners added a second digit.
“Is it too much for you already, brat?”
Forehead pressed against his arms, the boy gritted out, “I’ve seen bigger dicks than yours on a cat.”
Tanners pulled his fingers free and stood. “Perhaps you’re in need of a closer look.” He grabbed the young man’s neck and swung him around, shoving him to his knees. Charles opened his mouth, likely to say something else disparaging, so Tanners stuffed it with his cock.
Though the banker’s son may never have held another man’s shaft in his mouth, he made no sound of protest as Tanners guided him up and down by the hair. His hands gripped Tanners’ powerful thighs, digging into the muscle, before his fingertips drifted up to travel lightly over the dark curls covering his groin. Tanners groaned in pleasure when the young man tugged gently on his scrotum. Charles had a rich man’s hands, soft and smooth, that traced the contours of Tanners’ lower body and encircled his manhood with delicacy. His pale blue eyes stared into the mismatched pair of his aggressor with a mixture of amusement and defiance. Choke him. Wipe the smugness from his face, the devil said. No need, for the youth was attempting to fit so much of Tanners’ cock down his throat that he gagged and coughed. Undeterred, Charles pulled back, took a deep breath, and tried again. When his plump lips hit Tanners’ pubic hairs they both groaned.
Tanners would have gladly let the young man suck him to completion, but the demon had a lesson to teach. It jerked the banker’s son to his feet, pleased to see a string of saliva connect his lip to Tanners’ phallus for a moment. “That should suffice,” the beast growled.
Charles’ face was flushed and his eyes were glazed. “I thought—I’m surprised that you held off spilling your seed like a pubescent boy.” He sounded slightly winded. Tanners only had time to note that the young man was fully erect before the devil took over and spun the boy back around.
“If you crave my seed, I’ll feed you.”
Tanners watched in a reddish haze as his manhood pierced the delicate rose bud of the boy’s ass. Charles wriggled, trying to escape the intrusion. Tanners held fast to the younger man’s hips and pressed slowly and steadily. Inch by stiff inch he buried himself into that hot vise, low, throaty exhalations of pleasure ruffling Charles’ hair. The boy was murmuring to himself, a string of syllables that for a mad moment sounded to Tanners’ ears like, “Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.”
Again demon slapped Charles’ ass, enjoying the resulting gasp of pain. Tanners pulled back slowly, watching as the ring of muscle popped around the head of his cock. Beautiful, he thought. The demon knew it was a wicked thing to do—experience had taught Tanners that such a withdrawal could be as painful as the intrusion. Charles let out a high cry when the peasant suddenly plunged in again, shaking in the rough grip. Out again slowly, until that snap of flesh, then to the hilt.
Tanners felt intoxicated, giddy with the smoothness of the younger man’s milky skin, the softness of his full buttocks, the hot grip of his cavern. It was a completely different connection from the times with Keilan, much more powerful, much less affectionate. It was the devil’s moment of glory, a lust-driven punishment for the slender form beneath him. Tanners’ hips rolled smoothly, building a slow rhythm that heated his body in spite of the winter chill.
“You’ll not be able to sit tomorrow,” the demon promised.
The banker’s boy turned his head to glare at Tanners with one sky-colored eye. “At this pace I’ll forget you were ever inside me.”
Unforgivable! Tanners grabbed the young man by the hair and fucked him harder. Charles lusty cries tumbled over Tanner’s low grunts, high following low, gasp following thrust. Harder, the demon urged, digging its claws into the rich boy’s hips. Let him feel our cock in his chest.
The beast had taken over. Tanners was losing control of his body, keeping a pace so brutal that Charles’ ass grew pink. The younger man had the sleeve of his shirt between his teeth and his eyes clenched shut. His other hand was out of sight, stretched toward his groin, but his arm moved in a familiar rhythm. Tanners gripped the Charles’ slim waist with demonic strength, bruising the tender flesh as he rutted the boy like an animal.
The devil fucked with vicious intent, pounding the banker’s son so as to knock the breath from his lungs. Charles pushed back, using his ass to fight the man inside him.
“You’ll not finish,” Charles declared scornfully. His voice hitched with each powerful thrust. “I wager those dangling testicles are—ah!—empty!” The last word ended in a squeal. Whether pain or ecstasy, the sound was such powerful stimulus that the demon needed no words to prove the young man wrong. The world turned bright, then black as the power of his orgasm ripped through his body, seizing his muscles and lungs. Tanners climaxed with unparalleled force, deluging the rich boy’s passage with his seed.
Soon Tanners became aware of his bare lower half and exactly how cold it was. He stepped away from the banker’s boy; his manhood made a slick noise when it slipped out of Charles’ friction-pink hole. A quick swipe with a handkerchief cleared any evidence of the devil’s dominance. Tanners pulled up his breeches hurriedly. Would the banker’s boy tell his father that the demon had gotten loose?
Charles pulled up his trousers, chest still heaving, and turned around. Clear fluid dripped down the side of the smokehouse from waist level. That isn’t mine, Tanners realized. He tried to consult his demon, but the beast had returned to its cage, for once of its own volition, to lick its chops contentedly.
“I—” Tanners began, but the young man silenced him with a soft kiss on his still-flushed cheek. Tanners’ wide-eyed blink disclosed his confusion.
“Don’t tell anyone,” Charles instructed.
Tanners shook his head. How could he ever tell anyone? No one could know how strong the demon had become. The town council would have him flogged, possibly burned.
Charles finished tying up his trousers to chuck the older boy under the chin. “Are you angry with me, Tanners?”
“No.” Tanners said quietly. “I’m sorry I struck you so hard.”
“Never mind that.” He smiled lopsidedly and cocked his head. “Would you repeat the act? You satisfied me greatly.”
Was Charles the Younger a glutton for pain? Though he couldn’t imagine why the wealthy youth would wish to face the demon again, Tanners nodded.
“Good. Here.” The banker’s son dropped a small coin purse into Tanners’ hand. “It’s one gold and ten silver.”
Tanners stared at the fine cloth of the purse, trying to understand. Was this not what whores did? Was he a whore now that he had copulated with two men? Keilan hadn’t paid him; should Tanners have compensated the brute for playing the stallion? What if the receiver only had coppers on hand?
“I came to give it to you, to buy the furs,” Charles explained. “It was wrong of my father to change the agreed sum. That’s the remainder.”
“Oh. Thank you,” Tanners said, feeling slightly embarrassed that he had so abused the man who had only been trying to help.
The young master patted Tanners’ cheek. “Good boy. Off with you, then.”
Tanners scowled and knocked the hand away. “I’m no dog.”
“But you’ll come when called, while you not?”
Tanners puzzled over the question for a moment. That he came when called was true, but didn’t any man? If he agreed, would that mean he was a dog? What if—A tap on the other cheek brought him out of his thoughts.
“I mean to say that we’ll meet again, Tanners,” Charles clarified. “When that devil inside of you has fasted long enough, and when I grow weary of being unable to touch the one I love, we’ll satisfy each other.”
The devil opened one sleepy eye. It very much liked that idea. “All right,” Tanners agreed. “When the devil is hungry.”
“When the devil is hungry.”