Following a hearty dinner shared with the other members of the Royal Guard, Gerard and several of his brother knights donned cloaks against the chill night air and walked to the alehouse in the village outside the castle walls. The low-ceilinged room was heavy with smoke from the fire in the hearth and a number of pipes enjoyed by the men laughing and shouting for more ale. The knights pushed a number of men off the benches of a long table by the fire and gulped tankards of ale, their voices growing louder with each round.
A large knight, Bartholomew, the eldest of the Royal Guard and the leader of the select group of knights, banged his empty tankard on the tabletop and said in a booming voice, “Brother knights!
Gerard and the rest of the knights quieted down and looked to Bartholomew, some sipping ale, others gnawing on bread.
“We have a problem on the road out of town,” Bartholomew said, stifling a belch. “A band of thieves has taken to robbing travelers.”
“Thieves,” growled Phillip, a short, squat knight packed with muscle who sat across the table from Gerard. “As if the Scots aren’t bad enough, now we’ve got to deal with English bastards too.”
“Therein lies the rub, brother Phillip,” Bartholomew said. “There is talk that the leader of this band of thieves does not look or talk like an Englishman.”
“It’s the Scots!” Phillip cried and raised his ale. “Death to the bloody Scots!”
Gerard cheered along with the other knights and gulped down ale, but Bartholomew quieted them down again. “This man does not appear to be a Scot either.”
Phillip looked at Gerard and screwed up his face before looking back at Bartholomew. “French?”
Bartholomew shrugged. “Who’s to know? He has no hair upon his head and strange markings upon his body.”
“Markings?” Gerard asked with a frown. “What sort of markings?”
“Odd symbols etched upon the skin of his neck and arms,” Bartholomew explained. “For now, we ride in pairs when we manage the village and outlying areas. These thieves are very organized, and if you cannot get the leader, try to get at least one of them alive to be questioned, and maybe he will lead us to the leader.”
“Aw, no killing?” Phillip said. He looked down into his ale and mumbled, “Where’s the fun in that?”
“These thieves have killed a man and his servant already,” Bartholomew said. “If allowed to continue, the surrounding towns and cities may quit trading with Algonwick, and we cannot allow that to happen. Understood?”
The knights nodded, and Bartholomew raised his ale. “A toast, then, to all of us within the Royal Guard, brothers to each and each to his brother.”
The knights raised their tankards and drank, and then some told stories of past skirmishes with thieves and the occasional battle with the Scots. As the ale flowed, the tales became more bloody and outrageous, and Gerard, the youngest knight of the guard, who had never been in battle, listened and laughed.
At one point, a timid young lad tugged on Gerard’s sleeve to get his attention.
“Well, hello there, young one,” Gerard said with a grin and bent down. “What is it you need?”
“Begging your pardon, sir,” the boy shouted above the raucous noise of the other knights. “But there’s someone outside wants to see you.”
Gerard thanked him and handed over a large chunk of bread, watching as the lad scurried to the door, the food clutched tight to his scrawny chest. Gulping down the last of his ale, Gerard pushed back from the table and made his way through the crowd to step outside. The night air was cool and sweet after the heat and smoke inside the crowded building, and he paused to take a deep breath before squinting into the darkness.
“Hello,” he called. “Who is it that wishes to see me?”
A hand fell over his mouth, and Gerard reacted from instinct. He twisted out of the man’s grip, grasped the offending wrist, and spun the attacker around to pull the man’s back against his chest with an arm around his throat.
“Who is it that accosts me?” Gerard hissed in the assailant’s ear.
“Easy, love,” Tristan said through clenched teeth. “’Tis I, your faithful prince.”
Gerard released Tristan’s wrist and grabbed his hand to pull him around the corner to the deep shadows behind the alehouse. Pressing Tristan’s back against the wall, Gerard placed his hands on either side of the man’s face and kissed him hard.
“Did I hurt you, my love?” Gerard asked. Tristan shook his head, and Gerard leaned in again, whispering between kisses, “How did you know I needed to see you again tonight?” His heart pounded in his chest, and his yard already throbbed, hard as bone inside his breeches.
“Because I too needed to see you,” Tristan replied. “This afternoon we were not allowed to linger as we like.”
“Aye,” Gerard breathed and moved his lips to the soft skin of Tristan’s neck, gently kissing him as the prince sighed. “And I have been thinking of that yard of yours all evening.”
Tristan placed his hands on Gerard’s shoulders and pushed him to his knees. “Have you? I do not feel you have thought of it enough. Study it closer so that later you will be able to more clearly remember its size and form when you are alone.”
Gerard spread the dark, hooded cloak Tristan wore and lowered the man’s breeches. The thick length of Tristan’s cock stood proud beneath linen undergarments, and Gerard pressed his mouth against the shaft through the material. Tristan moaned softly, placing a hand on the back of Gerard’s head and pushing his hips forward.
Carefully pulling the material out and down, Gerard freed Tristan’s staff and took it in his mouth, savoring the taste of rose water and sweat. He dragged his mouth up the length and gently pulled the foreskin back from the rounded head to plant a soft, loving kiss on the slick tip. Then Gerard swallowed Tristan to the root of his manhood, gagging slightly before pumping his mouth up and down the stone-hard pole.
“Ah, my knight,” Tristan sighed. “Your skills with a sword are formidable.”
Gerard stroked the spit-slick shaft in time with his sucking as Tristan’s fingers tangled in his hair. He did not think he could ever get enough of the man inside him at once, and when the prince reached his release, Gerard eagerly swallowed each sweet, thick drop.
“You act as if you have not eaten for days,” Tristan whispered between gasps for breath. “And just this afternoon we lay with one another.”
Gerard stood and kissed him, slipping his tongue between Tristan’s soft lips. “These stolen moments conducted under the cover of darkness or in hiding are not enough,” Gerard said. “Nay, even if we were free to be together always, day and night, in front of any and all to witness, for all the days of our lives, it still would not satisfy me.”
Gerard could see Tristan’s smile even in the shadows as the prince said, “I feel the same for you, my love. Perhaps someday the world will be ready to embrace us, but for now we must satisfy ourselves with these stolen moments.”
Gerard nodded as his mood darkened at the truth of the situation. “I will accept what time we have.”
Tristan turned Gerard around and leaned him against the wall, then pressed against him for a kiss.
“Then let us take a few more moments to ourselves while we can,” Tristan said in a hushed voice and knelt before him.
Through the wall behind him, Gerard could hear another round of drunken singing and calls for more ale. And then Tristan’s soft lips touched the tip of his manhood, and Gerard sucked in his breath with a hiss. The prince’s lips moved steadily lower as he delivered gentle kisses to the full length of Gerard’s hardened condition.
“After all that ale, I am surprised to see you so emboldened,” Tristan said.
“No amount of ale could keep me down when you are present,” Gerard replied.
Tristan pulled the swollen shaft away from Gerard’s hairy belly so that it pointed straight at his face. “This is like a lance. You might use this to joust in the Royal Games.”
Gerard looked down to where Tristan knelt before him, one soft hand wrapped around the base of his yard. In the shadows, his pale face gave him the appearance of a ghost, and when he returned Gerard’s gaze, his eyes were dark with shadow, as if his head were just a skull, causing Gerard to shudder.
The illusion vanished, however, when Tristan opened his mouth wide and easily accepted Gerard’s full length. The wet heat of the man’s mouth made Gerard gasp, and he put his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. Tristan sucked him hard and fast, his fist tight and pumping in time with his lips until Gerard shuddered and grunted quietly with the sudden rush of release. Tristan drank the thick seed down, slowing his hand and mouth until Gerard stood limp and spent before him.
“I believe I have won the jousting contest,” Tristan said and stood to kiss him softly. “I have upset your attempt to retain the championship at the Royal Games.” He licked his lips and whispered, “I do enjoy the tang of your seed. It will satisfy my hunger until our next meeting.”
“When shall that be?” Gerard asked between gentle kisses.
“Soon, love,” Tristan promised. “Very soon.”
Gerard kissed him again and tucked himself back into his undergarments, his senses fully alert as he fastened his breeches. “I am glad for this surprise visit, but as a member of the Royal Guard, I must insist on escorting you home, my prince.”
Tristan rested a palm against the warm, rounded bulge of Gerard’s groin. “I was hoping that would be something you insisted.”