Will Marsden is a man on the run from his memories and his past. Steward of Denton Manor was a good position until Captain Dearne, the owner, lost the manor on the turn of a card. When the feckless Dearne is dumped unconscious and near death on his doorstep, Will grudgingly accepts an enormous sum of money to care for him.
Dearne regains consciousness but has no memories of how he came to be in the bed of a dark-haired, angry, but gorgeous man or how he came to be so badly injured.
When nightmares drive Dearne into Will’s arms every night, the attraction between them explodes. As Dearne battles with lost memories, he is forced to accept the fact that someone in his family wants him dead, and Will is forced to confront his past head on. Will the revelations uncovered tear them apart?
"I should probably see to your dressing." He nodded at Dearne's leg.
"It will be fine. Thank you."
"You won't be fine if it goes bad. You look tired. I need to see it to make sure there is no infection."
"Did you bring the salve?"
"I did. I'll go and get it."
Dearne took a breath. The last thing he wanted was Will fiddling with his unmentionables, but the leg was throbbing unpleasantly. Never in his life had he felt so weak, exhausted and completely and utterly without anchor. He was mortified to realise that what he really wanted to do was lie down with Will's arms around him. If he could just damned well remember what had happened to him after he had left his rooms that day, or remember what had happened since leaving Belgium, and remember how he came to be in Will's house then perhaps he could get a grip on things, but everything kept dancing out of his reach. The whole farce was becoming ridiculous and the overwhelming feeling that he just needed to be held was simply ridiculous.
He poked at his leg and winced. He quickly divested himself of his borrowed breeches and smalls, then lay back on the bed and cupped himself and pulling down his shirt to cover his modesty.
Will returned with a bag and pulled out the salve and some more linen. He quickly washed and dried his hands, and then busied himself with unwrapping him, eyes firmly fixed on his thigh, although his hands felt a little unsteady. Dearne adjusted his shirt when his cock twitched at his gentle touch. Any budding arousal was swiftly truncated though when Will pulled off the pad of gauze sending red hot agony through his entire body and Dearne couldn't stifle yet another high pitched shriek.
"Sorry, sorry ..." Will put his hand on Dearne's arm and held on tight whilst he brought his breath under control. He hardly dare look at his leg.
"It's not too bad," Will said, so he peeled open one eye and squinted down. It was actually healing well. He presumed the pain was simply from dislodging the scabs. He breathed more evenly as Will dipped a cloth in the warm water that had been left in the rooms for them and bathed him. He relaxed fractionally.
"It is healing well." Will said, drying him and then smoothing the salve over and replacing the old pad with a new one, then winding the makeshift bandage back around. "We could see if there is a physician in the town? Perhaps you should see someone who knows best how to deal with injuries."
Dearne shook his head. "It is doing just fine. No need to involve anyone else in our escapade."
Will smiled at that. "We have a couple of hours before we eat. Why don't you sleep?" Dearne watched Will fold the old bandages and then wash his hands again. When he turned around and looked at him, lying on the bed with no breeches or smalls, he felt oddly exposed and for some reason, that excited him. Beneath his hand his cock hardened. He let himself relax against the pillow and watched Will's jaw tighten and his eyes become fixed to his groin where he still cupped himself beneath his shirt. His whole body flushed as a surge of need tightened his skin. Will felt it too judging by the bulge in his breeches.
"Will ..." His voice was low, husky.
"Don't." Will closed his eyes and swallowed. "Don't."
Will opened his eyes, those beautiful dark eyes, and Dearne was shocked to see misery in them. "You know what I mean."
Dearne looked pointedly at Will's groin. "Why?"
"Because it's wrong."
"Yes, wrong. I can't go through all that again. I can't." He turned away and picked up his bag. "I'll see you for dinner."
He paused momentarily by the door as if he would respond, but then yanked it open and left. Dearne flopped back on the bed and groaned.
* * * *
Will sat on the edge of his bed. His whole body trembled. He held his hands before him and watched them shake before jamming them under his armpits and rocking. His heart was pounding as though it might burst out of his chest and fierce longing made his entire body ache. He screwed his eyes closed and willed the need to go away, tried to think of sad things, horrid things, the pain, the shame, but all he could see was Dearne laid on the bed, hand on his cock. Those long, strong legs finely dusted with hair, that watchful smile that crept out at odd moments, and his eyes. Christ, his eyes. Ever since the morning they had woken and, half asleep, he had kissed Dearne's shoulder, run his tongue over those freckles that sat like gold dust on his skin and he had begged him for more, all he could taste was Dearne's mouth. All he could feel now was Dearne's mouth. All he wanted was Dearne's mouth.
He wrapped his arms around his middle and bent over until his head almost touched his knees and barely recognised the keening sound that came from his mouth as everything threatened to spiral out of control.
He didn't hear the door open, he didn't hear Dearne until he sat beside him and put an arm around his shoulders. And try as he might, he didn't resist when Dearne pulled him into his arms. They sat, side by side, with Dearne holding him awkwardly, and Will pressing his head onto Dearne's shoulder and gradually the trembling subsided.
"I don't suppose you want to talk about it?" Dearne said.
"God, no." Will actually shuddered.
Will glanced up and Dearne offered him a crooked smile.