Fast in His Gaze
originally published in Forbidden Fruit Magazine, Issue 14, September 2007
When Hayden becomes aware of the new Lady Astor's proximity, he drops his gaze from the remote figure of the estate's young lord and returns to the task of removing the weeds that have dared encroach upon the rose bushes along the south side of the gazebo.
He stops again when she approaches, and when she halts at his side he rises to his feet. Though he faces her, he keeps his eyes deferentially down.
She does not address him at first. He remains as he is, and finally he hears her draw breath to speak. "He's not for you. You know that, don't you?"
"Yes, Ma'am," Hayden says, eyes still averted.
She snorts indecorously. "Do I look like a ma'am to you?" Hayden does not reply, does not raise his eyes to make an assessment, and so she continues, "You may call me Lily. Or," she adds without waiting for response, "if that is too intimate, Miss. Yes, I think I like that. 'Miss' will do nicely."
He's aware of her eyes on him, but he does not raise his own. "Yes, Miss."
"So," she resumes, "you know, don't you? That he's not for you?"
"I could arrange for you to be near him," she says.
She seems to require response, so he says, "Yes, Miss."
"Do you know how to drive an automobile?"
"Good," she says. "Then you'll drive us, starting tomorrow."
A month after Hayden assumes his new duties, a friend of Miss Lily's pays a visit. Master Davis Astor is engaged in business for the afternoon, so he has the car sent for with instructions to take the two ladies on a countryside drive.
"Hayden," Miss Lily says as he opens the door for them, "this is Miss Darlene Bartlett."
"Hello, Hayden," Miss Darlene says.
Hayden tips his cap and offers her a hand as she steps to seat herself inside.
He is just turning the car out of the long drive when Miss Lily says, "Miss Darlene is really quite beautiful, Hayden, don't you think?"
Eyes on the road ahead, Hayden says, "Yes, Miss."
"Her hair is quite luxurious, isn't it? Don't you just want to run your fingers through it?" Miss Lily asks.
In the rearview mirror Hayden catches a glimpse of her fingers running through Miss Darlene's hair. Finds himself caught in Miss Lily's gaze, and fixes his own back on asphalt and gravel and tar.
"And her mouth - don't you just want to cover it with your own?"
Hayden snags on Miss Lily's one-eyed gaze in the mirror, her other eye hidden by the angle required to fasten her lips to Miss Darlene's.
"And her breasts, Hayden," Miss Lily says when she breaks for air. "Don't you want to touch them? In fact," Miss Lily indulges herself, "don't you want to put your hands and mouth all over her flesh?"
Hayden keeps his eyes on the road, his hands on the wheel, his mouth closed.
For the next month, Hayden continues to drive Master Davis and Miss Lily, sometimes together and sometimes separately, always without incident. And then one afternoon, Master Davis calls for the car. The young lord is often preoccupied when he takes the car, and in any event does not engage Hayden in conversation the way Miss Lily does; he has not spoken more than a half-dozen words to Hayden since Hayden began chauffeuring him (which is, of course, a half-dozen more words than Hayden had ever expected Master Davis to direct to him).
This time, though, when Hayden gets into the driver seat after putting Master Davis in the back, Master Davis leans forward.
"My wife tells me you are a model of discretion, Hayden."
"And may I count upon you to protect my indiscretions as well as you protect hers?"
"Very good," Master Davis says, and though Hayden does not look in the rearview mirror as he starts the engine, he can hear the smile in the pleased tone.
Master Davis says no more until they are halfway down the drive, when he gives the order to halt. "That won't be necessary," he says when Hayden starts to get out, so Hayden remains seated in front while the young lord opens his own door.
In the periphery of his vision Hayden sees someone slip out from behind one of the age-old elms and come toward them. Master Davis lets the other man climb into the back seat before he climbs in himself; in the moment that Master Davis is turned back to the door to pull it shut, Hayden's eyes stray up to the rearview mirror - and meet a pair of unexpectedly familiar eyes in return.
Hayden looks away first, eyes snapping to his hands on the steering wheel, then up to the road as he hears the slam of the backseat door.
The young man involved in this indiscretion is another servant in the household. Master Davis does not ask whether Hayden wishes to touch Vaughn's hair or mouth or flesh, he simply does it himself. And Hayden simply drives on.
Hayden is awake when the soft knock on his door comes that night, followed by the soft creak of the door opening, the softer tread of familiar feet. Vaughn shuts the door behind him but stays by it.
Hayden stays on his side, facing the wall.
"I had to." Vaughn's voice strains with whispering. "He's the master of the house..."
Hayden rolls onto his back now. Vaughn stays by the door; Hayden's eyes are adjusted to the dark enough to see Vaughn's arm curving back behind him, his hand still on the doorknob.
"Do you want me to go?" Vaughn asks after awhile.
"You can stay," Hayden says, pushing the covers down, lying back on the mattress, spreading his legs as Vaughn crawls onto the bed between them.
It's only a week before Master Davis asks for Hayden's discretion again. He has Hayden drive him to a different spot this afternoon, and again he gets his own door. Instead of beckoning to a boy hidden in the trees this time, Master Davis raps on Hayden's window.
When Hayden rolls it down, the young lord says, "Come talk with me."
"Yes, Sir," Hayden says.
They walk a little ways, until the trunk of a fallen tree presents itself. Master Davis seats himself, and motions for Hayden to do the same.
Hayden, as always, has his eyes cast down politely. He doesn't feel Master Davis's gaze on him, so he dares a sidelong glance and sees Master Davis looking off into the distance. He thinks maybe Master Davis didn't actually want to talk, but that perhaps "come talk with me" is a colloquialism amongst the cultured and well-to-do for not wanting to be alone. He shifts his own gaze down and off, sitting quietly, something like contentment bleeding in at the edges.
Then: "That boy," Master Davis says, "the one I had the other week." And now Hayden feels Master Davis turn to him. "You knew him, didn't you?"
Hayden swallows. "Yes, Sir."
"Not just as one of the household servants. You knew him."
"He's your lover."
Hayden doesn't say anything.
"Is it that I'm wrong?" Master Davis says after a moment of consideration. "Or do you object to the classification?" When Hayden makes no reply, Master Davis continues, "My wife, who seems rather oddly fond of you, tells me things about you sometimes. She tells me that you never say the word 'no'."
Hayden remains silent.
"Your bedmate, then," Master Davis says, returning to the matter of Vaughn. "Is that what he is? Your sexual partner?"
"Yes, Sir," Hayden says. His mouth is dry; swallowing does not seem to help.
"Do you love him?"
Even though he knows it does not help, Hayden swallows again.
"I wonder," Master Davis says, "if I am intruding where I am not welcome, or if the answer is that you do not love him."
He expects no reply, and Hayden makes none.
"My wife tells me that you do not love him," Master Davis says then. "She is nearly always right. She would have me believe that she is never wrong, but no one can be right all the time and I am determined to catch her.
"However, she tells me you do not love that boy, and I am inclined to think that in this, she is right.
"She tells me," Master Davis goes on in his casual, conversational tone, "that you love me."
Hayden's mouth opens, but only to breathe before shutting again.
"Hayden," Master Davis says, "do you love me?"
Hayden closes his eyes. And whispers, "Yes, Sir."
He feels Master Davis touching him with more than his eyes now; he feels Master Davis's hands on him, feels Master Davis through his clothing.
"Is this all right, Hayden?"
Hayden's shirt tugs against his back as Master Davis manipulates the buttons in front, and now a light breeze caresses Hayden's skin indiscriminately, the warmth of the sun plays across it; Master Davis's fingertips are more resolute, more heated as they move down and down. Now and then, Master Davis pauses to ask if this is all right, and each time Hayden says, sometimes barely audible, "Yes, Sir."
When he reaches the lacings of Hayden's trousers, Master Davis lets his hand rest. "Shall I continue," he asks, "or do you wish me to stop?" Hayden's eyes meet his fleetingly before sliding off. "Do you want me to stop?" Master Davis repeats, teasing his fingers the length of Hayden's arousal.
White-knuckled, Hayden scrapes splinters off the log beneath him, his hands digging into it even as his hips arch off.
Finally, Master Davis says, "I need you to say it, Hayden. I need to know that you are capable of forming a 'no', so that I can believe you when you say yes."
Hayden understands the logic and desire of it, he does... but after so many years of training and practice, he can't bring the word out. Master Davis begins stroking Hayden's cock through the fabric of his trousers, slowly, rhythmically, and Hayden can't do anything but breathe, ragged helpless rhythm. He's having a hard time breathing, not only because of his arousal but because the word is stuck in his throat. For years and years, he's swallowed the word and said nothing at all every time he's thought it. Because that's just how it has to be.
When he has undone the lacings, Master Davis curls his fingers around Hayden's arousal and takes him out. "Do you want me to stop?" he asks yet again. His fingers pause, hover, flutter into slight contact, drift into hovering again.
Hayden hears the word in his head, but he cannot feel it on his tongue let alone bring it off. His tongue licks uselessly at his lips, unable to soothe the tremors there. Master Davis's fingers lick along his flesh, only inciting the tremors there. There are tremors in his very breath, and Hayden cannot be soothed.
"Hayden," Master Davis breathes, "do you know how you beautiful you are right now?"
Hayden swallows and lets his lips part but still no sound comes out, nothing but breath escapes even when he slicks the passage with his tongue. He would look away, but Master Davis holds him fast in his gaze.
"No." The word has fallen from Hayden before he knew it was at the edge. He wants more than ever to look away now, but Master Davis is still holding him, looking at him...
Master Davis's mouth moves in a smile. He moves, still holding Hayden in his gaze, until his smile presses to Hayden's silent and still mouth. The smile opens against him, touches him, enters him, consumes him and leaves him whole in its wake.
"Now," Master Davis says, taking Hayden in his gaze anew, looking into his eyes as his fingertips travel Hayden's body, "do you want this? Do you want me?"
"Yes," Hayden says, returning the gaze; "yes."
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