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Authors: Alix Bekins

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BOOK: Lord of Misrule
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“Send me an e-mail,” Taj advised, trying not to ruin his fake snooty tone by laughing. “I’ll try to pencil that in somewhere.”

“I’ve got some lead for your pencil right here,” Dan growled, rolling on top of Taj, who yelped and totally failed to wiggle away.

Another basket of laundry fell off the bed and spilled onto the floor. No one picked it up.



and Dan had had their first kiss under the mistletoe at a university party two years ago. Their “smoochiversary” was early in the month, but it added an extra note of festivity to the already busy holiday season. (They’d gone with “first kiss” since they knew the date of the party but could never pinpoint when exactly they’d transitioned from casual friends to dating. Their first fuck had been so drunk and sloppy they’d decided it didn’t count.)

Adding the celebrations with the SCA into the mix this year had simply given Taj more ways to celebrate. As the weeks progressed, Dan began to long for a quiet retreat from the chaos. He made some plans for a surprise weekend getaway in mid-January but kept wracking his brain to come up with a decent tangible gift for Taj that he could give him before their trip. What did one give to the Lord of Misrule? Taj had enough disorder in his life already, Dan thought.

What Taj needed was a secretary, a servant. Someone to help him get all the things he’d agreed to do done, and leave him with enough energy to enjoy all the parties he had planned; there wasn’t a single blank day on any weekend of their shared calendar before January sixth. Taj needed someone to take care of him.

Dan couldn’t exactly afford to hire servants, but he called a housekeeping service and arranged for someone to come in once a week for the next two months, and then he went to the market and stocked up on frozen foods. Practical and helpful, but still not a good present, not anything Taj could open on Christmas day.

Heaving a sigh of resignation, Dan picked up his phone and called Katie, Taj’s best friend, for advice. Knowing her, he’d end up naked with ribbons around his cock and a plug in his ass as his gift to Taj—again!



all their social obligations fizzled out during the week after Christmas. Dan took a moment to breathe, savoring the pause before New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night. Taj looked a bit ragged around the edges, so Dan did his best to keep him in bed. Two days of cuddling as they watched TV, dozing off in the middle of making out, hot tubbing, fucking, reading, eating leftovers in bed, and lots and lots of sleep left them both feeling recharged.

The gay men’s chorus had been a rousing good time with their friends, although Dan had secretly enjoyed the children’s panto—put on by the theater department every year as a fund-raiser—much more. This year they had done “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and there were a lot of adult-humor jokes about the beanstalk’s rapid growth and shrinkage and the magical blue beans. The play had coincided with their smoochiversary, so they’d gotten dressed up and had dinner at a swanky restaurant before laughing and giggling as they got sprayed with glitter along with the children in the front rows.

They’d stayed up for a Solstice vigil with some pagan friends and gone to a Hanukkah party so Taj could get his beloved latkes. Christmas itself was simple and relaxed. Dan, Taj, Dan’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and newborn niece, and Taj’s second-to-youngest sister had gotten together at the new parents’ house, for ease of baby care. There had been one awkward bump mid-day, when Jean—Dan’s sister-in-law—had made a comment that implied Taj was just some bit of fluff Dan had picked up and would soon be done with, and that he wasn’t someone to take seriously. When Dan had leaped to defend Taj, Jean had apologized, excusing how her words had sounded on her lack of sleep since the baby came, but… well, she hadn’t actually
, per se.

Dan had, of course. Taj had shrugged it off, but Dan could see her words had hurt. It made Dan feel extra bad that he hadn’t been able to come up with a fantastic gift for Taj to open with the family—he had one big surprise, in addition to the bed-and-breakfast weekend in January, but that had to wait for Twelfth Night. Taj had liked the pewter flask with Celtic-style etching Dan had picked up for him at Dickens Fair, but it wasn’t exactly personal, and Dan felt like a heel.

Taj was just so damn tense. He’d thrown himself into the holiday celebrations with his usual gusto, but as the planning sessions with Matilda went from once a week to twice, and then became nearly daily phone conferences as well as tons of e-mail, Dan began to worry about Taj’s stress level again. He took over dinner preparations, laundry, and tried to help out when he could with whatever random errands Taj was willing to delegate, as well as the regular business of running an ordinary life. Taj and Matilda were consumed with planning what seemed more like an invasion of the small hall they were renting than an end-of-Christmas revelry.

Jean’s comment had really bummed Taj out, which was why Dan was doing his best to make the week-long break between Christmas and New Year’s Eve as relaxing as possible. While the forty-eight hours in bed had ended, Dan had managed to get Taj to agree to a marathon of BBC’s
series, which was painfully awful but hilarious. They were stretched out on the sofa, Taj dozing against Dan’s shoulder while Dan idly combed his fingers through Taj’s curls.

They’d talked about it a little bit. Taj had made some off-hand remark about not knowing where he’d be living in five years, and Dan had responded—trying not to sound hurt—that he hoped it would be with him. Taj had been pretty insecure when they first got together, but Dan had thought they were past that.
didn’t feel like they were “just boyfriends,” with the sense of impermanence that the label conveyed, with no sense of commitment.

At the same time, it didn’t feel like the right time to have such a heavy conversation, when Taj wasn’t in the best place emotionally. Maybe that was a little high-handed of Dan to decide, but it seemed better to just wait and talk about things like that later.

But it did give him an idea for a present, though….

“Hey, sleepyhead. Should I turn this off and tuck you in bed?” he asked, breaking away from his reflections.

Taj hummed, snuggling into Dan’s shoulder. “If you take me to bed, I expect more than just sleeping,” he yawned.

Dan grinned a little and shifted to get up off the sofa. He wrapped his arms around Taj and pulled him up. “I think something could be arranged,” he said. “All in the interest of helping you rest, of course.”

“Of course,” Taj agreed. “Practically doctor’s orders.”

“Exactly. Come on, then. Time to take your medicine,” Dan said with a leer, wiggling his eyebrows comically. Taj rolled his eyes but let Dan scoop him up and carry him to the bedroom. Dan might not know what to do to make Taj feel more secure, but at least he could take care of him in bed.




was mellow, thank goodness. Katie’s house was packed with people, but the party was laid-back milling around, drinking a bit too much, talking, nothing like the loud music and wild parties from Dan’s twenties. He ended up in the basement game room playing
Gran Turismo
against his friend Douglas and learning why it wasn’t a good idea to drink and drive, even with virtual cars. A couple of hours later, he located Taj in the kitchen, part of a small crowd sampling tequila and laughing hysterically. It was good to see Taj relaxing with his friends, more at ease than when they were with Dan’s.

“You’re so drunk,” he said, coming up beside Taj and wrapping steadying arms around him.

“An astute observation,” Taj said, grinning hugely.

“It’s almost midnight. I think we’re all going to try and crowd into the living room and watch the ball drop. Want to come with me and find a good place?”

Taj snuggled deeper into his arms, an action Dan was growing very fond of. “This is a pretty good place, I think.”

“It’ll be there too.” He smiled. “It goes where my arms go.”

“All right.” Taj laughed. They settled into a spot by the fireplace, and he reinserted himself under Dan’s arm. “You going to make a wish for the New Year?” he asked.

Another change Taj had made in Dan’s life was giving up “resolutions” in favor of “wishes” on the New Year—something that a person could work for and hope for but not feel guilty about failing to achieve. Dan thought that was a fantastic idea and had embraced it enthusiastically. “Of course. Although I’m not sure what to wish for. I’m pretty sure I have just about everything I could want…,” he said, squeezing Taj.

Taj twisted sideways and kissed him, his lips moist and tequila flavored, but Dan didn’t mind at all. “Me too.”

Dan returned the kiss and didn’t stop with just one, his chest tight with emotion. He felt a little sappy, a little embarrassed to be making out in front of everyone, but it was New Year’s Eve. Their friends were too busy counting down with the telecast from Times Square to notice that the two of them kissed their way into the New Year.



January sixth arrived. The weather reports hinted at snow, but that was just ridiculous in the Bay Area; rain was far more likely. Dan and Taj drove to the event’s location early in the morning, having stuffed the car up to the roof with their baggage and all the props and decorations they could carry. Luckily a decent-sized crew of helpers met them at the rented hall. Matilda and Taj coordinated the preparations like seasoned generals, ordering people around, consulting their clipboards and lists. Dan couldn’t get over how incredibly sexy it was to see Taj like this, all take-charge and competent. Mostly he’d seen the stressed-out-and-tired part of Taj working on a project, not the assertive and skilled strategist aspect that Dan had only really seen manifested on the fencing field. Or when Taj was kicking his ass at chess. It was surprisingly hot.

In Matilda and Taj’s capable hands, the rented space transformed into a decent approximation of a medieval hall. All around stood small trees and greenery, ribbons, tapestries, battery-powered faux candles, and even a huge fake fireplace. At one end of the hall—nearest the kitchens—they had set up long tables and benches for the feast, covered with green cloths, set with pewter plates, goblets, and candelabra. At the opposite end, set up along the edges in a U-shape, were the ornate chairs that the royalty used. A square stage area was being taped off for the entertainers, and Dan helped move a few large trunks containing their props nearby. Taj was moving the last small fir tree to discreetly obscure the portable music player and light switch.

Matilda came out of the kitchen area, drying her hands on a long apron and taking a look around. “Impressive. Those tapestries are gorgeous!”

She and Taj took a stroll around while the helpers took a much-needed break. They checked their lists, confirming that the signage and balloons had been set up outside, the bathrooms were decorated so they felt as much a part of the anachronistic space as possible, and the people designated to be in charge of lights, food, parking, and emergencies knew where everything was and how it all worked. Taj, as Lord of Misrule, would be the master of ceremonies, while Matilda as Lady would see to the food and drink. The clean-up volunteers solemnly swore they would return no later than noon the next day to lend a hand.

Leaving three people on-site to deal with anything that might arise, the crew prepared to go, and Dan whisked Taj away before he could think of anything else that needed doing. They checked into the hotel without any fuss over being early, grabbed a late lunch, and Dan cajoled Taj into bed for a disco nap. Dan lay awake next to him, too excited about his plans to more than doze off and on. When the alarm went off, Dan took the first shower and then made use of the time Taj spent lingering under the hot water to set everything up just the way he wanted it.

When Taj returned to the bedroom, still steaming from his shower, a towel wrapped around his waist, Dan was kneeling beside the bed, wearing only his leggings. A pile of what appeared to be clothing—rich fabrics in jewel tones—was stacked neatly on the bed.

“What’s this?”

“A present,” Dan said in his Edric voice. “Will you let me help you dress, my lord?”

Taj gave him a bemused look and shrugged. “All right.” He pulled off the towel and gave it to Dan. Dan wiggled his eyebrows lewdly, eyeing Taj’s nude body before making an effort to settle back into the subservient role he had planned. He carefully patted Taj’s body dry and indicated that he should sit while Dan dried his hair. That done, he set aside the towel and took up a comb. Carefully he untangled Taj’s shoulder-length hair, his fingers coaxing the locks into natural curls. He squirted a dollop of lotion into his hands and patted it onto his beloved’s face, chest, and hands with a dexterous touch. Taj sat, amused but happily playing along, seeming to enjoy having Dan’s attention.

Finally Dan reached for one of the garments, a long ivory shirt whose collar and cuffs were edged in hand-embroidered silk. Dan smoothed the soft fabric over Taj’s lithe body, front and back, adjusting the fall of the shirt. He fastened the cuffs, fixed the collar, and threaded the lacing at the chest. He hummed appreciatively, loving the contrast between Taj’s darker skin against the pale coolness of the shirt, and the texture of both under his hands. Satisfied, he helped Taj into the doublet, first the body and then the sleeves, piece by piece. He laced them on, carefully letting the undertunic peek through the cords as it should. Taj’s mouth twisted into a smug smile, taking on a lordly attitude to match his clothing.

Kneeling, Dan took up the footed leggings that most of the men in the SCA used, despite being made of an anachronistic Lycra blend. He took one foot into his lap, running his thumbs over Taj’s instep, and then began to ease the hose up his lover’s graceful legs. One leg at a time, his hands lingered and caressed their way upward, until Taj had to stand so they could finish.

BOOK: Lord of Misrule
6.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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