Lord Robert Beswick bought his commission and went to sea to escape the responsibilities of a noble title he never wanted. But now he has something, someone, he wants to stay home for, to protect, and he fears his lack of wealth and long absences at sea will drive his lover away.
Will Rohen, son of a cloth merchant, is driven by his obsession for perfection which manifests in his love for fashion. Seen as nothing more than a vain fop by society, he is a source of ridicule and envy, even catching the eye of the prince regent. But what plagues him most is the nightmare that the war will one day claim Robert’s life.
Will’s obsession makes Robert fear he cannot provide his lover with the life he deserves. Will fears more than anything that Robert will sail away one day and not return to him. Can their romance survive?
My military wage and the small businesses Will invested in meant we could keep up appearances, though I knew Will was beyond fugal when it came to running the house in my absence, which meant I didn’t begrudge him when he spent a small fortune on his wardrobe. If the man was to have a vice, there could be much worse ones, like drink, whores or gambling. Admiring every stitch and fold of fabric, even if it bordered on the edge of obsessive seemed so mild by comparison.
I wasn’t in any place to judge him, as I got to admire the results of his finely clothed body and enjoyed seeing the pride and joy he took in such ventures. Perhaps it was foolish and overindulgent, especially as I had grown up partially impoverished for the first years of my life and taught the trappings of nobility were frivolous. But why deny the man I loved his one passion. As a man of war, I understood the importance of snatching any moment of happiness you could as you didn’t know when you’d take your last breath.
“Since you have exhausted all the best tailors in London, it is perhaps time to explore different avenues.”
Will boldly strode across the dark room, the fire long dead in the hearth and the dazzling early morning sunlight unable to penetrate the heavy curtains. I smiled at his boldness. Was he like this when I left him? I doubted it. His impish freedom was reserved for our time together. While at sea, I saw him in my dreams as I rocked in my small bunk, and always he was clad in the finest tailored suits, hugging his frame so tightly they could have been painted upon his flesh by the greatest artist. Seeing him naked and free of his obsession was a privilege reserved for me, here in this house, this room. This Will, this angel, this demigod was mine alone.
“I will have to return to my room.” Will pulled on my creased shirt with a look a mild abhorrence at my treatment of so fine a fabric. “How will I explain the state of my previous attire to Beech?”
“Tell him a beast trespassed and sought to devour your tender flesh.”
“And did this beast get his fill of me?”
“No. Never. He shall return again, ravenous as ever. The beast should be hunted and captured to save you from his wicked maws.”
Will’s smile slipped. “And then he shall be put on a ship and taken far away.”
I rose and joined him at the door separating our adjoining rooms. I stroked his bicep. I opened my mouth to offer ... what? Lies that I would always be safe and always return to him. It would be cruel for both of us.
Will turned and gave a small smile that made my chest tighten and said, “You should bathe and dress, Robbie. Beech will be struggling to hold the maids back from seeing you in a state of undress.”
He was gone, and I felt it as keenly as though I were already back at sea.