(part 2 of 2)

Background: The book opens with Dylan at 18 in his last year at Venerable Bede School. He makes a clumsy and immediately rejected attempt at seducing his favorite teacher, Laurence Northcliff. He doesn’t realize that Laurence has fallen in love with him. Being honorable above all else, Laurence resigns his position and goes to Paris to pursue a writing career. A year later, finally out of school, Dylan goes to Paris to study composing. Unexpectedly they encounter one another. Equals now, no longer teacher and student, they spend a lot of time together and one thing leads to another…

They went one night to see Lucia di Lammermoor, and the tragic beauty of the acting and the music left a residue of emotion.

In the gig, in the darkness, Dylan put one hand on Laurence’s knee, crossed the fingers of his other hand and said, “I have to tell you something. Will you promise to listen?” Laurence said he would. Dylan’s heart pounded as he blurted, “You said yourself I’m not your student anymore. I’m a grown man and I know what I want from life. I know what I want from you. I’m not putting it very well, but … damn it all, do you know what I’m trying to say?”

“Yes.” Laurence’s voice was low, calm, serious.

Dylan moved closer on the seat, until he felt the heat of Laurence’s thigh against his own. “What is it about you that makes me persist in making a fool of myself?”

There was the hint of amusement in Laurence’s voice. “Dear boy, you don’t need my help to make a fool of yourself. You’re more than capable of doing it all alone.”

“I think you just insulted me,” Dylan said. “But I forgive you.” The horse turned its ears toward their soft laughter.
“I want to go to bed with you. Tonight. Now.”

Laurence looked at him. There was enough moonlight edging through the clouds that Dylan could see the shadowed hollows of his eye sockets and the silvered planes of his face. “Yes,” Laurence said.

“Just like that?” Dylan was dumfounded. He had been prepared to argue, seduce, or coax, whatever he had to do. “Just … like that?” he repeated and heard the surprise in his voice.

Laurence uttered a shout of laughter, and slapped the reins against the horse’s rump. The nag picked up the pace. It took only a few minutes to reach the narrow street, only a few more minutes to return the horse and gig to the livery stable and walk the short distance to the house, but it seemed like a very long time to Dylan.

Inside the parlor, with the only light being that of the flickering street lamp just outside the window, Laurence turned to him. “I’ve wanted it, too. Ever since you kissed me at Bede.”

“Mr. Northcliff, Sir, you are just full of surprises! You could have let me know a bit sooner.” This time the kiss was deep and hard and demanding. Not until that instant did it occur to Dylan that he had never kissed anyone but Laurence. He never wanted to stop.

Laurence stumbled backward against the door, pulling Dylan with him, their mouths still together until they broke apart, gasping for air. “Dylan, I don’t—I don’t have much—experience. The truth is, my love … I know about as much as a turnip.”

Dylan looked deep into the blue eyes he had dreamed about; in the semi-darkness, with wide pupils, they looked black. My love. Emotion shook him as Laurence touched his face with trembling fingertips. My love. Love. So this was what love felt like—being willing to die for just one more touch, being willing to wait for the rest if needs be. This was not Rob, ready at all times for mindless shagging that would be over and forgotten in minutes. Dylan held Laurence’s palm against his lips and said against the soft flesh, “Then I must play at being teacher.”

In the bedroom Dylan said, “Light all the candles. I’ve imagined you naked so often I have to see if I was right.”

Laurence protested in horror. “I’m too thin. And I’m—I’m almost middle-aged! Darkness would be far better for keeping your illusions alive.”

Dylan chuckled and did not answer until a half-dozen candles had flared to life. Then he said, “Don’t move. Don’t talk.” He removed Laurence’s clothing, article by article, and when Laurence stood naked, slim, and white, Dylan’s gaze roamed over him. “What were you thinking?” he said. “Your body is beautiful.” Then, looking downward, he added with a sly smile, “And I must say, my imagination was spot-on.”

Even by the candlelight he saw Laurence blush, and he laughed softly.

Dylan guided him down on the bed and on a whim lay down beside him, still fully clothed. “I am the maestro here,” he said. “You are not to move unless I tell you so. I’ll show you pleasure every way I know how.” And so he did, using his mouth, and tongue, and hands, not allowing Laurence to touch him in return. That was exquisite torment; he sometimes had to mentally count backwards to maintain control. Beneath his fingers he felt Laurence’s muscles draw tighter and tighter, and quiver with the effort not to move.

The time soon came when he knew neither of them could wait much longer. In a matter of moments he tore off his clothes and returned to the bed. At the instant of ecstasy Laurence cried, “I love you! My God, how I love you, Dylan!” With Laurence’s cry came Dylan’s own release.

They lay together for several minutes, without moving, until they shifted position so that Dylan could rest his head upon Laurence’s shoulder, his arm around Laurence’s narrow waist. They remained that way for a time. After a while Dylan yawned and said, sounding self-satisfied, “I’m a far better teacher than I was a student.” Laurence snorted and then laughed helplessly.

They dozed for a while and when their bodies signaled recovery, Dylan yawned, stretched like a lazy cat, and murmured, “They say repetition is the key to learning…”

“Do they really?” Laurence murmured in response, pulling him even closer until their bodies touched full length, and beyond the ultimate physical shock of release there was a blending of souls.

Later, as Laurence lay sleeping, Dylan woke to stare into the darkness, thinking about the hours of loving just passed. He had found something unexpected and sweet, and he couldn’t, at first, think of a word to describe it. Then it came to him: trust. Laurence had given himself over to him, body and soul, in complete trust. Smiling, he closed his eyes, sighed in contentment, threw one long leg over Laurence’s hip, and went back to sleep.

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