Joshua Jones is in London to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. As a young black man from a modest background, he works hard to pay for his painting classes, both as a fencing master’s assistant, then as a waiter in an exclusive gaming club, which his uncle manages.
During the London Season when the club as at its busiest, the last thing Joshua expects is to find romance. But when mesmerising older man Frank Bartlett is determined to seduce him, how can he resist?
As they sat by the fireplace, Joshua looked around him with interest, noting the shelves of books and the writing desk piled high with correspondence. Pouring them both a glass of wine, Frank sat back and smiled at Joshua’s observation.
“Does my home meet with your approval?” Frank asked.
Joshua grinned. “I was expecting more of a palace,” he replied, which make Frank laugh, revealing that strong column of his throat that made Joshua catch his breath.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” Frank said, smiling.
“Oh, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed,” Joshua said with a tinge of flirtation, knowing he was playing with fire. Frank glanced at him with a knowing flickering glimmer that set Joshua’s pulses racing. He was achingly aware that the consideration and snatched conversations of previous evenings would escalate in this intimate setting.
“If you are in the mood,” Frank said silkily, reaching for a pack of cards and moving a nearby side table between them, “I thought we might play a game.”
Joshua almost blurted out that he did not gamble, when he suddenly realised that the stakes were far riskier, or rather risqué, than money. “Pick a card,” Frank invited him. Breathlessly, Joshua did so and putting it down on the table, he saw he had selected the Ten of Hearts. Frank followed suit, placing down the Two of Spades. “I lose,” he said, smiling as he shrugged off his coat.
Joshua’s eyes widened. “I think I like this game,” he said, picking the next card. As it was his turn to select a lower card, he chose to remove his neckcloth as slowly as possible, his adversary glued to his every movement. Then Frank lost his waistcoat, his large body visible under his linen shirt which made Joshua’s mouth go dry. He gulped his wine before picking the next card. They chose an equal number and in accord, both removed their shirts. Joshua could not take his eyes from that massive chest and brawny torso and Frank seemed equally breathless at the sight of Joshua’s lithe and sinewy brown body.
“Perhaps we should take this into the bedroom?” Frank suggested, rising and holding out his hand. Joshua followed willingly and as soon as the bedroom door was shut behind them, they were in each other’s arms.