Standish

I’m happy to announce that STANDISH will be re-released with LETHE PRESS in 2013.

A great house, a family dispossessed. A sensitive young man, a powerful landowner, and the epic love that springs up between them.

Ambrose Standish is a studious and fragile young man with dreams of regaining the great house his grandfather lost in a card game, but when Rafe Goshawk returns from the continent to claim the estate, their meeting sets them on a path of desire and betrayal which threatens to tear both of their worlds apart.

Set in the post-Napoleonic years of the 1820’s, Standish is a tale of these two men, and how the relationships they make affect their journey through Europe and through life.

Painting a picture of homosexuality in Georgian England, illegal as it was and punishable by death, at heart it is a simple love story and the tale of one man’s discoveries of his sexuality and his true feelings for the man who released it.

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 Chapter 2

“Well, it’s dashed good to have you back in the country, Goshawk, and that’s all I have to say on the matter. Can’t imagine what you were thinking, man, spending so many years away from London.”

Lord Trenberry stood in front of the cheval mirror as two servants attired him in his dress uniform. “Damned place has been dead without you.”

The gentleman he was addressing, dressed in deepest black, was stretched out on a chaise at the side of the room, minutely examining his fingernails as he listened to Trenberry’s prattle. He was long, lean and cadaverous, with a narrow face and black-brown hair tied with an elegant bow. His black, lupine eyes were  expressionless as he narrowed them at the speaker.

With a small, irritated sigh, Rafe Goshawk stood. “Sorry to disappoint you, Francis,” he said, his voice acidly mellifluous. He knew that Francis’ reaction to the news he had to break would be unpleasant. “I am not staying in London. I am taking my son to Dorset; we are going to be living at Standish.”

Trenberry spun round, flustering the two fitters. “What?” he demanded. “You’ve only just got here, man! Stay out the season at least! Standish be damned. You’ve never shown the slightest interest in the place. Why bury yourself in that godforsaken mausoleum now?” Losing his temper with the servants who were attempting to fit his sword, he yelled, “Get out! I’ll finish it myself!” The footmen fled.

Francis strode toward Goshawk, who was looking at him from under hooded lids. Trenberry’s demeanour changed from arrogant lordling to whining youth. “I’m serious, Rafe. I’ve had years without you, irregular letters, having to trek down to France to see you, being at your beck and call. When I am beyond all hope, you finally return to me; your wife has been dead for years, and we can be together at long last, enjoying London after all we’ve been through. Now you calmly tell me you are leaving again?” He put his arms around the taller man’s waist and kissed him gently, his voice becoming husky. “Rafe, I long for you. It’s been two desolate years.”

Rafe very much doubted whether Francis had had two desolate weeks, let alone years; his libido was only matched by his neediness.

He sighed again as Francis continued. “Stay with me? At least until after the season. Then we’ll both go and bury ourselves in your precious Standish.” He latched his mouth onto Goshawk’s neck and nipped the skin there softly, moved a hand to the front of Rafe’s breeches, gently rubbing the front of them with the flat of his palm, then began to unbutton the placket.

Goshawk remained immobile, allowing himself the pleasure of becoming hard under Trenberry’s fumbling fingers, then pulled sharply away from the embrace before more buttons were unfastened.

He inspected Francis, taking in his vacuous, pompous expression, his cheeks red and coated with sweat, and wondered, What did I see in him? His memory strayed to a younger Francis, the handsome young man he had met at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball five years before on the eve of Waterloo. Slim as a reed, he’d been back then, his red jacket fitting him exquisitely, his breeches perhaps slightly too tight for comfortable riding, but more than tight enough to garner interest from someone who was interested in such beautiful views. The young officer he’d been then had taken Goshawk’s breath away, with his laughing eyes and pert, firm posterior.

Yes, Rafe thought, he was beautiful then. He’d taken the young man in a willing—but brief—moment of madness and lust, never expecting to see him again in light of the oncoming battle. If only he had been killed. He would have stayed with me as a perfect moment, an amber bead of time holding the memory of his peach-like fundament beneath me, the image undimmed and untainted by the years between then and now. Instead, there had beenpetulant letters, jealous tantrums, demands for time Rafe did not have, money that had galled him to send. That perfect moment soured, until there was nothing left between them but bitterness and ennui.

Without taking his eyes from his host, he adjusted his clothing. “No, Francis. I am not staying in London, and I certainly am not taking you down to Standish with me. What would your fiancée say? Or your regiment? We grew out of each other years ago.” Or I did him, at least. How many times did I write to put him off, and how often did he still journey to see me?

With the first pleasure since entering Francis’ company, he watched the red cheeks pale and the eyes widen with shocked anger.

He ran a finger over Francis’ cheek. “No regrets, Francis. Never any regrets,” and without another word he strode to the double doors and departed, hearing the sound of a mirror breaking behind him.