Playing at Bragging

WARNING: Sexual content.

Lot, Bran, and Josef play strip brag and Josef tries to figure out how Lot is cheating.

Read the first part of today’s double bill here.


Playing at Bragging

London – 1844

‘You’re cheating,’ Josef said and tossed down his cards.

‘The question isn’t: am I cheating? It’s: how am I cheating, sugar stick?’ I picked his pocket watch up off the table and dangled it by the chain. Bran had decided our bickering was the funniest thing he’d ever seen and was shaking with suppressed laugher, one hand covering his face.

Josef’s gave Bran a side-long look. ‘Bran’s loading the deck for you.’

‘No.’ I put Josef’s watch next to Bran’s cufflinks, they’d get them back when the game was over.

His grin was drenched in wicked suggestions. ‘What do I get if I figure it out?’

‘Gentleman’s choice.’ I sipped my whiskey and arched my eyebrows at him. ‘Mine if you don’t.’

‘Did you guess, brother?’ Josef asked, pouring himself more whiskey.

Bran cleared his throat and took a gulp of whiskey to settle himself. ‘No.’ He met Josef’s gaze. ‘And lady’s choice is none of your business.’

I rested my elbows on the table, steepled my fingers, and bit the tip of my thumb. Josef saluted me with his glass.

Bran dealt us each four cards then put the stack in the middle of the table. We checked our cards and each picked one to return to the bottom of the deck, Josef watched me for any sleight of hand. I put a stack of coins in the middle of the table.

Bran glanced at Josef and made show of checking his pockets. ‘Shirt it is.’ He still had his wedding ring but he was never going to gamble with it, even in jest.

I leaned across the table and slipped my hand inside the open collar of his shirt. ‘I hope I win.’

He kissed me softly, lips sharp with good whiskey.

‘What about you, Sef?’ I sat back. ‘What’ve you got left?’

‘Shirt for a shirt.’ Josef unbuttoned his waistcoat and tossed it onto the empty chair next to me then shrugged off his braces.

‘I fold.’ I turned over my cards. ‘Off with it then.’

He turned his over and frowned. ‘You haven’t won.

I flipped Bran’s cards over. ‘Winner.’

Josef bent towards me and held my gaze, searching for deception. ‘You’re using your magic too look over our shoulders when we check our cards.’

‘Both complicated and wrong.’ I put my face close enough to feel his breath and rested my chin on my linked fingers. ‘Shirt.’

Josef pulled his shirt off and tossed it to Bran who caught it and threw it to me. I pressed the collar to my nose and inhaled the cut wood and sage scent of Josef without taking my eyes off him. He watched me as if I was doing the most erotic thing he could imagine. I draped the shirt over the back of the chair beside me.

He pushed the coins over to Bran and collected the cards. ‘I’ll deal, I’m not sure you two aren’t pulling a fast one on me.’

‘I’m an innocent bystander,’ Bran said to the ceiling.

‘There’s nothing innocent about you.’ I bumped Bran’s knee with mine under the table.

Bran blushed and squeezed his lips together.

Josef separated the deck and flicked them together on the table top, completed a few nifty manoeuvres, and dealt them. ‘Blind bets. Beat that.’

I grinned. We each returned a random card to the deck and placed our bets, except Josef.

‘You’ll have to bet more than that if you want to get my trousers off.’ He tapped the table the edge of the table.

‘As if you’re bothered about getting your cock out,’ I said.

‘I have standards.’ His smile suggested if I wanted to see his cock he could forget those standards.

I pushed my heap of coins, cufflinks, and watches into the middle of the table. ‘I’m not wearing trousers.’ I stuck my bare leg out and flexed my ankle.

‘Trying to distract me?’ Josef caressed my ankle and rested it on his knee. ‘All fold in…’ He put a card on the bottom of the deck without taking his eyes, or his hand, off me. ‘One… Two… Three…’

We all turned our cards over.

I won. I beat Josef’s flush with a run, by one card.

I sat back, grinning. ‘Clothes off, fellas.’

Bran fixed his gaze on me, pulled his shirt slowly over his head, and dropped it on the floor by my chair. I blinked. I hadn’t expected him to do it.

I climbed onto his lap, wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him. ‘My bold, beautiful, Brandon.’

‘Nothing I haven’t seen before,’ Josef said, examining the table as if he might find a trick.

‘What do you two get up to at those gentleman’s clubs?’ I asked, nuzzling Bran’s nose.

He slid his hand up the inside of my thigh under my shirt but stopped short of interesting and tilted his head towards Josef.

‘Nothing you haven’t seen before?’ I asked, playing my fingers through his hair.

Bran blushed and looked away.

I kissed his jaw. ‘Where’s my prize, Mr Mathers?’

Josef raised his head from the top of the table. ‘What? No enthusiasm?’

I clapped a rhythm. ‘Off. Off. Off.’

Josef moved round the table to where I could see him. He unbuttoned his trousers, pulled them off and threw them at me followed by his stockings. I caught them, laughing. Josef spread his arms and shrugged.

Josef’s beauty was different to Bran’s; all sculpted muscle as if God had carved him to tempt me into touching and tasting. Unlike Bran he bloody knew how delicious he was.

‘Well, you’re definitely…’ I put my head to the side and bit my lip. ‘Jewish.’

He put his hands on his hips but his smile said he was well aware I was teasing. ‘Not only Jewish men are circumcised.’

Bran kissed my neck. ‘You are Jewish.’

‘Beside the point,’ Josef said.

‘Hmmm,’ I traced my fingers across Bran’s shoulders. ‘You could catch a hoop on it.’

‘Would you take bets?’ Josef asked.

‘Not on such an easy target.’

Josef smirked and nodded at the table. ‘I showed you mine.’

I tossed him his trousers and he threw them on his chair.

I gathered the cards and shuffled the deck. ‘If I can remember the contents of books without looking –‘

‘You know the order of the cards whatever we do.’ He pinched the bridge of my nose.

I flicked out the queen of hearts. ‘Young Lot could’ve had a very successful gambling career if she’d learned to lose occasionally.’

‘Next time I go gambling, you should come with me,’ Josef said.

‘I’m sure you’d love me to come with you.’

Josef rested one hand on the back of the chair and one on Bran’s knee, leaned in until his forehead brushed mine and whispered, ‘Is that the lady’s pleasure?’

I caressed his hard chest, my scarred hand rasped against his hair. ‘Such an opportunity requires careful consideration.’

He kissed me softly. ‘I have quite the list if you need inspiration.’

I chuckled, turned my face away and kissed Bran, he returned it with a fierceness that made me wish he’d move his hand higher.

‘Must I compete for attention?’ Josef stepped away and struck a pose worthy of marble. ‘Take a good look.’ He had such a variety of poses I wondered if he’d modelled for some of the marble statues.

One pose was supposed to be thinking deep philosophical thoughts but the subtext of look-at-my-big-masculine-balls made Bran and I laugh so hard Bran had to pull me up before I fell off his lap. We couldn’t get drunk but we were doing a very good impression of it.

‘Stop being noisy. We’re sleeping!’ Mary shouted from the top of the stairs. ‘You’ve got to tell us a story now.’

I clapped my hands over my mouth to stop my laughter and Bran pressed his face to my neck to smother his. I was breathless and sore, I’d never laughed so much.

Josef sighed and pulled his trousers back on. ‘My turn,’ he said then called to Mary, ‘I’m coming.’

‘Better.’ Mary’s little feet stomped back to her bedroom.

I got off Bran’s lap and kissed one of the lashes on Josef’s back. ‘Going to read our children a story is more delicious than any pose.’ I tucked the queen of hearts into the front of his trousers. ‘I’m sure I can think of compensation.’

He turned and gave me a whiskey soaked kiss. ‘I expect something truly wicked.’ He pulled on his shirt. ‘Defile me.’

I snorted. Josef kissed my forehead and left before Mary shouted again.

Bran was shaking with his fist pressed to his mouth to stifle his laughter.

I straddled his lap. ‘You, my love, are an eternal surprise.’

He settled his hands on my hips. ‘I’m having fun with my best friends.’

I kissed his nose. ‘If you’d told me seven years ago you’d find this fun I wouldn’t have believed you.’

He nuzzled my nose. ‘I don’t think I knew what fun was.’

I grinned and nipped his ear. ‘Oh, you knew.’


Read more episodes of Nine Shillings or Lot’s first adventure, Victorian Mistress, here.

Nine Shillings and Victorian Mistress are also available on Wattpad.

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Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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