The Courtier’s Tale Ch. 02


Marcel was doing his best to appear attentive as Anna gossiped heavily about her neighbours in the surrounding barony. Elizabeth’s harp chimed beautifully beneath her pretty fingers, while giving out occasional discordant notes. David spoke softly to her, instructing and correcting the young woman in a low soothing voice that did not carry. A perfect compliment to the sitting rooms of any aristocratic house. Marcel flicked his eyes over the Irishman as covertly as possible. The man would’ve been able to teach in many of the fine parlours Paris had to offer; yet here he was in this backwater. Marcel couldn’t imagine why. His French was well executed and he seemed to have excellent manners for a commoner.

His gaze travelled over the delicate and masculine lines of David’s body. His frame was small with a beautifully tapered back ending in a very narrow waist and a nicely rounded bottom. Just looking at it was enough to make Marcel shift restlessly.

“Are you listening to me, Marcel?”

His eyes shot to Anna’s stern face. He forced a placid smile and smoothed his features. “As well as I am able. Being only man, I’ve not much of a head for such details of gossip, my dear.”

His sister’s eyes flashed warningly. “Do not think to make sport of me.”

His dark eyes grew round with feigned innocence. “Of course not, Anna. Such a thing would be unbecoming of me. We can’t all be ill tempered and rude. Where would the fun be in that?” He smirked at her and enjoyed the annoyance flushing her cheeks. The first win goes to me, thought Marcel quite smugly. He turned his attention back toward David and Elizabeth. The old dragon couldn’t chastise him without making his point for him. It gave him great pleasure to fence with his sister this way. It was certainly the only entertainment she’d willingly afford him.

He gazed at the Irishman with open interest and continued talking with his sister. “Will your guest be joining us for dinner, Anna?” Marcel could feel the anger and disgust radiating from her. Still, so long as he did nothing more than look there was little she could do about it.

“Indeed he will be.” Her voice lowered considerably and she hissed at him. “He is a godly man. Do not think to entice him with your lewd flirting, Marcel.” She paused, her gaze flicking to the oblivious harpist for only a moment. “Bear in mind what our father will likely do to you if you disgrace yourself here.”

Marcel’s mouth thinned to a grim line. Paris scandals were not uncommon among the sons of noble houses. A man could afford a small amount of gossip from time to time. Still, Marcel’s particular vices were not easily forgiven. Disgracing his sister’s well-respected name so soon after being banished from Paris would ruin him utterly. Their father would likely disinherit him and that would never do.

“There’s no need to belabour the point, my dear.” He sipped the brandy and sulked, all too aware of Anna’s gloating smile.


Marcel was deep in his thoughts as Joseph dressed him for dinner in burgundy and gold brocade. He wanted to bed the Irish music teacher. David was Anna’s friend and as much a puritan as she was herself. It would make seducing him a sweet victory indeed. He pursed his lips in annoyance. The whispered gossip following such an unlikely conquest was half the fun of it. Still, it couldn’t be helped. Even if he did as he wished, no one could be allowed to find out. Especially not his unforgiving, narrow-minded witch of a sibling.

His gaze rested on Joseph’s hands as they deftly fastened the buttons on his coat. The man was still quite fresh and Marcel fully intended to enjoy both men if possible. Still, he had to be careful, Anna likely had spies somewhere to ensure his purity beneath her roof. The young lord slipped his hands around his valet’s waist and leaned into him. The man’s dark eyes rose upwards and remained fixed on Marcel’s face.

“Lady Montblanc seems to think my relationship with you is less than chaste, Joseph.” The man said nothing his expression wary and guarded. “She must come to believe you are quite innocent of other men,” He placed an unhurried kiss on Joseph’s neck, nipping the skin with the points of his teeth, “and that you certainly are not sharing a bed with me.” Marcel’s hands slid lower and cupped his cheeks firmly, pressing their bodies closer together. The lord was panting lightly and hardening rapidly. “Do you understand?”

His servant swallowed and nodded. “Yes, my Lord.”

“Good.” Marcel pressed his lips against Joseph’s, slipping his tongue easily into the slighter man’s mouth. He squeezed and rubbed his bottom with slow deliberation and Joseph moaned helplessly into the kiss.

A polite knock outside his chamber made him tense. He released his servant with reluctance and watched as Joseph pulled open the ornate bedroom doors. Anna’s butler stood there and bowed slightly for him. The elder man’s eyes swept the room with casual ease, no doubt searching for evidence of an interrupted tryst. Marcel smiled wickedly at him. etiler escort Not a thing was out of place and the lord himself was fully and impeccably dressed.

“Dinner is served, my lord. This way, please.”

Marcel followed him from the room with easy grace, his personal servant trailing after them.

The dining room was far more impressive than the light and airy breakfast nook. A long mahogany table sporting a wide assortment of trays and delicacies was presided over by Lady Montblanc. David sat near Anna’s right with Elizabeth on her left. A young man in Montblanc livery stood behind the chair next to his niece. As Marcel approached, he pulled out the chair in silent expectation.

“I prefer my own servants at table, Anna.” Marcel spoke stiffly as he seated himself, holding his glass towards his own servant.

No one spoke as Joseph poured red wine into the crystal flute. Although his sister’s thin lipped disapproval was not lost on him, David’s steady blue-grey eyes held the bulk of his attention. He could read nothing in those eyes, further piquing Marcel’s interest.

The clipped tones of his sister cut into Marcel like claws. “This is hardly appropriate, Marcel. The man is your valet and this is my house.”

Marcel brought the glass to his lips and regarded his sister with hooded eyes. “He is my valet when I am dressing or require a bath. He is my squire when serving me wine and fetching my horse. Most importantly, he is my adjutant when I must make wide ranging travel plans on short notice and need small niceties such as fresh lace, food and a decent bed to sleep in.” He spread his hands wide to implore them. “I would be thrilled to travel with an entourage, my dear. However, father has allowed me only one servant, so what can I do?”

Elizabeth’s unexpected laughter filled the room. “Oh really, uncle! You say such funny things.”

“How so?” He smiled at her indulgently.

“An adjutant is a military officer!” She dissolved into further giggles on his behalf.

“Quite right, my dear. A military officer who handles all the dull paperwork and administrative duties his seniors cannot do without.” He tapped her nose. “That is what Joseph does for me.”

“This is hardly appropriate conversation for a young lady, Marcel. Military matters are not worthy pursuits for a young woman of quality.”

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her. “Of course, Anna.”

A conversational pause settled over the small group for long moments. The young lord fidgeted in his seat and met David’s eyes across the table. “Tell me monsieur, how did you come to be teaching music in the south of France?”

“I’ve always loved music and showed an aptitude for the harp when I was young. My parents have cousins in Rouen, financiers by trade. When I was sixteen, they offered to pay for furthering my education in music. Guy then convinced my father to allow me to study music in Paris.” He paused thoughtfully and sipped the wine. “I learned a great many things there. Paris is such an unbelievable place. I left for Marseilles as soon as I could. Finding a patron in that southern city was hard work and took some time.” He gave Marcel’s sister a soft smile. “Madame was vacationing there and we happened to meet. Thus, I am here today.”

Marcel raised an elegant brow ever so slightly. “Finding a wealthy patron would have been considerably easier in Paris, would it not?”

David’s nose crinkled in distaste. “I’m sure it would have.”

Silence descended, broken only by the soft clinking of silverware and porcelain. Curious, Marcel attempted to coax more information from the Irishman. “Forgive me for prying but…”

“You are not forgiven, Marcel!” Anna’s grating interruption made Valmont wince. “David prefers a quiet lifestyle far from the current debaucheries of the court. As do I.” She settled her angry gaze fully upon her younger sibling. “The air is fresh and the water is clean. We live a simple life here as God intended.”

Marcel braced himself for a lengthy tirade. She opened her mouth to berate him further and paused. David was touching her wrist lightly, his eyes apologetic. “Your pardon, my lady. Perhaps these things are best discussed out of present company.” He glanced pointedly at Elizabeth. “At a later time perhaps?”

To Lord Valmont’s great surprise, Anna relented and smiled graciously at the music teacher. “You’re quite right, David. I’ll speak with you later, Marcel.”

Elizabeth pouted, though she wisely held her tongue. Marcel was relieved to have avoided one of Anna’s diatribes. Yet, he was disturbed as well. Anna was not one to give ground to anyone. Well… anyone but Francis. Marcel regarded David over the lip of his glass, carefully planning his next move.

The meal drew to a close and Marcel caught David’s eye as he rose from the table. “Would you care to join me for a glass of cognac, monsieur?”

David smiled softly at him. “It would be my pleasure.”

Marcel noted the disapproving frown on his sister’s face. A thrill of dark satisfaction escorts filled him and he smoothed his features into a mask of doting concern. “You look unwell, Anna. Will you be joining us or retiring early?” He offered David a warm and friendly expression. “Women are such frail creatures. In this house full of them, sharing a drink with other gentlemen is a pleasure. I fear it won’t be often given me.”

Red suffused Anna’s cheekbones, as her mouth became a thin angry line. She looked as though she might explode into outrage at any moment. David stepped towards her, concern in his light blue eyes. “Your brother’s right, my lady. You don’t look well at all. Perhaps you should lie down.”

Anna stared at the Irishman as if she’d never seen him before. Then she collected herself with some effort. “Do I? I will take my leave of you now, David. Will you be joining us for Sabbath?”

“Of course, my lady.”

“My hired men will fetch your horse whenever you’ve tired of my brother’s company.” Lady Montblanc’s eyes glittered dangerously as she passed Marcel. He watched her retreating back from the corner of his eye. He was elated. As they made their way to the drawing room, Marcel allowed his gaze to linger on the music teacher.

Several lamps were lit within the cosy gallery. Marcel settled himself on the plush divan. “Fetch us a bottle of cognac, Joseph. Then you may retire for the evening.” His valet nodded and left the room, his face utterly expressionless.

“Your servant is quite a dour fellow.”

“What? Oh yes…” Marcel smiled widely and waved his hand in dismissal. ” He’s been in my service a full year now. Joseph is quiet and knows when to mind his own business.” He lowered his lashes coquettishly and adopted a soothing tone. “I find myself curious about you, monsieur. Most everyone I’ve known prefers Paris to any country villa. They all long to be invited to court. Yet… you do not?”

David folded his hands in lap and looked absently out the window. “Paris wasn’t to my taste.”


“Yes. I come from a middle class family in Ireland. Compared to what I’ve seen in Paris, I’d led quite the sheltered life before then.” He paused and gazed wryly at Marcel. “My father’s relatives employed a tutor for me in necessary social graces. Alongside my musical studies of course. They believed such a thing was essential to finding me a patron among the French nobility.” He chuckled softly. “Indeed. They were right.” David lapsed into silence as Joseph returned with the items his lord had requested.

Marcel frowned and flicked his fingers irritably at the dark haired servant. When he left them, the young lord poured the amber liquid and handed David the tiny glass. “What happened then?”

The slender man looked at him sharply. “I doubt you’d find it very interesting, my lord.” He took the glass with a wry quirk to his lips. “I wonder what you might think of me. You are, after all, an aristocrat of the Parisian court.”

“Indeed I am. The very reason why gossip has become second nature to me.” The points of Marcel’s teeth showed, like tiny white razors resting on his lower lip. He rose and seated himself beside the Irishman, all but purring into his ear. “We are both men, Monsieur Colton. There is very little that has the power to shock me.” His voice lowered into a sensual growl. “You can tell me anything.”

David tensed noticeably and an uncomfortable silence stretched between them. “My lord… though I’ve no doubt that you’re a worldly man…” he hesitated.

“Go on, David. Please. I want to hear all about it.”

“Well… as you observed earlier, finding a patron in Paris would have been easy. I had several offers in fact.” Oddly, David’s tone was sharp and bitter. “A few of the lords who interviewed me were not as interested in my music as I would’ve hoped. They had other pursuits in mind.”

“Really?” Valmont smiled and placed his hand on David’s knee. Running his fingers slowly up the other man’s thigh, Marcel felt his excitement rising. “Tell me, monsieur, did you allow them to take liberties with you?”

David Colton sat utterly still, his face flushed. Then he sprang to his feet abruptly and took two swift steps away from the little couch. “Certainly not!”

Marcel gathered himself quickly and stood with fluid grace. David’s back was to him and he closed the distance, slipping deft hands around David’s waist. “Why ever not? You are quite beautiful. As is your music.”

David attempted to wrench himself free of the lord’s grasp. “Don’t!” Marcel had dealt with this type of resistance before. He spun the Irishman around and pushed his back against a painted wall. “Let me go!” the slender man’s hands tore at Valmont to be free, until the lord pinned them to either side of him.

“You’re quite spirited. I’m sure I will enjoy you immensely.”

“Lady Montblanc…”

“Has gone to bed, monsieur. Come now. You’re little more than a hired servant, aren’t you?” He surveyed David body quite casually. “I’m asking no more of you than any hired man. Though so very bagcilar escort few of them have your charm and beauty, monsieur.”

“What? How dare you! Release me at once!”

” Quietly, monsieur. Someone may discover us. My sister would be truly appalled. Your reputation is above reproach in my sister’s eyes. Why give her a reason to doubt you?” Marcel pressed his lips over the other man’s mouth. He could hardly wait. “I’ll give you pleasure, Monsieur Colton. I promise you that.”

David’s eyes were cold and hard. He stopped struggling and merely stared at Marcel. “Alright, my lord. Let me go and I’ll do as you wish.” His voice was soft and icy. There was something dangerous about the way the music teacher spoke to him. Valmont’s anticipation grew and he relaxed his hold on the smaller man. He was wholly unprepared for the vicious kick that exploded against his hip. The blow narrowly missed his arousal, though it was still breathtakingly painful. Marcel crumpled to his knees as David twisted free of him and fled.


Joseph took the tea tray with toast into Marcel’s room. The young lord’s jacket lay in a heap near the bed along with his shoes. He set the tray down on the side table, surprised to find his lord still dressed and very much alone. Joseph studied Marcel’s smooth and elegant features before reaching out to wake him. Thinly plucked eyebrows arched over the closed lids. Long and sooty lashes rested above the lord’s cheekbones. His mouth was plump but not overly so. The line of his jaw was acceptably masculine and his ears were small and shapely. As though they’d been sculpted of something.

Joseph’s face softened and he tucked a chestnut lock behind Marcel’s ear. Caressing the dusky cheek gently, he shook his master’s shoulder until the eyes fluttered open.

“My lord? I’ve brought your morning tea.”

Marcel sat up and noticed the second teacup on the tray beside an unusually large amount of toast. “Were you planning to join me, Joseph?” Valmont’s tone was low and dangerous. Joseph poured tea into his cup, his hand shaking lightly.

“No, my lord.” He hesitated, unsure if he should continue. “I expected you would have company.” He kept his eyes carefully lowered as he passed the cup to Marcel. Still, the upset in the lord’s tone was impossible to miss.

“Humph! Damned bourgeoisie!”

Joseph began to relax, only half listening to Valmont’s muttered complaints. He’d seen him like this on a few occasions. He walked over to the wardrobe and began selecting Marcel’s attire for the day. Draping the items over a chair, Joseph realized the lord had lapsed into silence. He paused and glanced at him furtively.

Valmont was staring at him. Lust was there is his expression, along with something dark and forbidding. “Come here, Joseph.”

He swallowed and walked slowly over to the bed. Marcel flipped the covers down and began unlacing his own shirt. Joseph merely stood there, his heart racing in his chest. Lord Valmont looked up at him and discarded the soft linen shirt. “Well?”

There seemed to be little option. Joseph slipped out of his shoes and lay down carefully beside the other man. He was afraid and excited despite himself. He would never have chosen this lord as a lover. Yet he couldn’t deny that he enjoyed his touch.

Marcel climbed on top of him, kissed him fiercely and began unbuckling his belt. “We have very little time, Joseph. One of Anna’s servants could arrive at any moment.” Joseph’s breath caught in his throat and he squirmed in the lord’s grasp. He understood that it was pointless to struggle, but he simply couldn’t help it. Valmont treated him like a whore and he hated that. “Stop fighting me, Joseph. You are mine, aren’t you?” He nodded wordlessly and tried very hard to be still. “Good. Now roll over.”

He did as he was bid, laying his cheek against the pillow. Marcel pushed his trousers down his thighs and prepared him rapidly with oil. Joseph groaned when he felt the other man slide into him. It felt so good he could almost forget how little his lord really cared about him. Marcel whispered endearments about how tight he was and how delicious he felt. The words made Joseph’s already dripping cock ache with lust. He moaned for Valmont like a dockside slattern until he came, followed soon after by the lord’s own release.

They lay together for several minutes and then Marcel pulled suddenly out of him. “Get out. I need a bath this morning. Don’t come back until it’s ready.”

Joseph closed his eyes and felt his throat tighten with unshed tears. He bobbed his head respectfully and rose to obey.


Several days passed for Marcel without incident. David had not returned to the manor house since their last discussion. Marcel hadn’t expected him to disappear so utterly. Still, Anna was his patron and Elizabeth, his student. Monsieur Colton would have to call on them again soon.

Marcel smiled softly to himself. The anticipated chastising from his sister had not yet occurred. It was a pleasant, if unexpected, surprise. Yet, Anna had been quiet and withdrawn for much of the day. Their evening dinner had been an uneventful, somewhat strained event. The young lord rose with relief to take his drink in the upper drawing room.

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