WARNING: Sexual references and bad language.
Josef puts his foot in it with our trio’s relationship on the line.
Nine Shillings and Victorian Mistress are also available on Wattpad.
London – 1844
‘I should’ve gone with you,’ Bran said, kneeling between my legs to examine my blistered neck.
‘I should’ve gone up to the roof with you,’ Josef muttered from where he was leaning against the reading table with his fingers to his lips.
Bran looked over at him but said nothing; he was Bran, he didn’t start arguments.
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you follow a mysterious sound something bad is going to happen,’ I said and brushed Bran’s hands away. ‘I don’t need an escort.’
They both made vague sounds that could’ve been disagreement. Bran ran his hands down my sides and settled them on my legs.
I smiled and kissed him softly. ‘I’m alright, just tired.’
‘First there are things we need to discuss,’ Josef said.
I shared a vexed look with Bran, I wasn’t in the mood for lectures about how I was leaking magic, shouldn’t do dangerous things, or that I hadn’t been able to sense the murderer. I wanted to go to bed and snuggle up with Bran to get some sleep before the children appeared to jump on us.
‘I made Lot a proposition –‘
Bran punched Josef in the face. He fell off his perch and they rolled around the floor knocking things over. For two men who had been soldiers they weren’t putting on an impressive display of violence.
I locked the library door so the children wouldn’t see, gave them a few minutes to get it out their system, then dropped a book on them. I’d never been much cop at whistling.
Josef propped himself against an armchair and Bran sat with his back to the couch. Their noses bloody, lips split, and faces bruised.
‘I expect that behaviour from children, not grown men,’ I said.
They both bowed their heads in shame.
I went to the drinks cabinet and poured three glasses of whiskey. ‘Shall we pretend we’re reasonable adults for five minutes?’ I handed a glass to Josef.
‘I thought the only reasonable adult here was Bran,’ he said.
‘More than likely.’ I handed Bran a glass then straddled his lap and put my glass beside my knee. ‘Poor nose,’ I murmured and kissed it.
‘Why would you want me when you can have Josef?’ he whispered and set his drink aside.
‘You’re the only person who can’t see that Charlotte will never leave you,’ Josef muttered, dabbing at his bloody nose with the back of his hand. ‘I envy you.’
Bran peered at Josef through his loose hair as if the notion was astonishing. I sighed and licked blood from Bran’s knuckles.
‘I don’t want to take Charlotte from you, brother,’ Josef said, ‘I would never –‘
‘Except those years you tried,’ I said, checking Bran’s hands for breaks. ‘And don’t talk about me like I’m not here.’
Josef wiped his bloody hand on his trousers. ‘I suggested Charlotte have us both. I asked for companionship. I didn’t realise how much I missed –‘
‘I know you want to fuck my wife,’ Bran snapped.
I stared at him. Bran didn’t say ‘fuck’, he said ‘make love’.
‘Of course I want her to fuck me,’ Josef said. ‘She’s incredible.’
I blinked. I must’ve fallen asleep and was still lying in the alley, except I couldn’t dream so I was definitely awake.
‘I’ve heard how hard she rides you,’ Josef continued, looking off into the distance.
Bran’s jaw tightened. I squeezed the bridge of my nose.
‘I have a reoccurring dream about Lot telling me what an arsehole I am while fucking me up the –‘
‘Shut up,’ I said.
‘Sorry.’ Josef cleared his throat. ‘I got carried away thinking about… The point is as much as I want sex with Lot, Lot only wants sex with you.’
‘Why’d you have to say something I couldn’t disagree with?’ I wrapped my arms around Bran’s neck and kissed his nose. ‘It’s no fun if I can’t argue with him.’
Josef chuckled. ‘What man wouldn’t desire someone so determined to vex him for their own amusement?’
Bran and I looked at each other.
‘What’d you think about this suggestion?’ Bran asked.
‘I know I love you. Just contemplating this I felt like I’m stabbing you in the back.’ I frowned at him, trying to pick my words carefully. ‘I don’t know how I feel about Josef, but there is something endearing about the walking disaster he is.’
‘I’m not a walking disaster,’ Josef muttered.
I caressed Bran’s face. ‘There’s you and me, and there will always be you and me, whatever you choose, Bran.’
Bran closed his eyes.
‘The fact I feel some affection for you doesn’t mean you get to do your smarmy grin,’ I said without looking at Josef.
‘How did you know I was grinning?’ Josef said.
‘Are you going to slap it off my face again?’ he asked.
‘Don’t tempt me.’
‘Nobody has argued with me like you for centuries,’ Josef said.
I twisted to look at him. ‘Were you born this annoying or did it take practice?’
Josef chuckled and lay his head back against the seat. ‘Many, many centuries.’
‘The angrier I get at you the more I want to fuck Bran.’ I stuck my tongue out at Josef.
‘Says the man who was rolling around on the –‘
Bran kissed me. I forgot about arguing with Josef and pulled Bran to me. He broke away.
‘Not finished,’ I said and followed his lips.
He smiled and didn’t resist another kiss. I dug my fingers into his hair and kissed him deep. His hand squeezed my waist, slid down to my rear and pulled me tighter to him. Our kiss was a conversation without words in a language only we understood.
‘You can have us both,’ he said.
‘I know you love me and I know Josef does, and I love you both. I don’t want to lose either of you,’ he whispered.
I traced his lips with my fingers.
‘Am I going to have to leave the room?’ Josef groaned as if his sore body had settled into the floor. ‘I think Bran cracked one of my ribs.’
‘I just fell off a building do you really think I’m thinking of a fuck on the floor?’ I asked Josef without looking at him.
‘Not thinking about it would be a change,’ he said.
Bran rolled his eyes, put his hand on the couch and levered us up. ‘Maybe I should tuck you up in bed.’
‘Tucking? Is that what you young people call it these days?’ Josef muttered.
I wrapped my legs around Bran, pressed my face to the curve of his neck and nipped him. Bran chuckled and kissed my cheek.
‘Don’t mind me,’ Josef said. ‘I’ve had my energy drained and been beaten up, I can look after myself.’
‘You brought the second one on yourself,’ I called.
In the hallway Bran asked, ‘Am I going to have to put up with you two bickering for the rest of eternity?’