The Story I Almost Didn’t Write
Honestly, I never thought I would write a work of historical erotic fiction. Not because I don’t like history, I love it. Certainly not because I have any illusions that people in Olden Times were in any way different when it comes to matters of the flesh than we are today—Victoria’s repressive reign was a 60 year blip in the otherwise openly lusty course of human nature. Reading historical romance, among many other genres, informed me both as a woman and as a writer.
It’s just that I think of myself as a writer of contemporary erotic romance. Stories of self-aware, experienced individuals about to suffocate from the heat of their desire for one another—oh, wait. Didn’t I just say something about human nature being the same as it ever was?
In any case, whatever genre I cleave to, the one thing for certain in this writer’s uncertain life is that the Muse has her own ideas about my career.
Delilah’s submission call popped up in my in box. (There’s something about that phrase “submission call” that brings on a certain, um, warmth in various places …) I dismissed the idea at first. It would be nice, but not really my thing, I thought. Well maybe, but what on earth would I write about?
Like the montage effect used in some mystery shows as all the clues fall into place for the sleuth, ideas and subject matter started popping up all over the place.
There were too many ideas really. The supposed short story developed into a huge sprawling mess, collapsing under its own weight. I despaired and gave up, turned my back on the computer… But The Squire insisted on being told. So I chiseled and hammered, I restacked and rebuilt in a process not unlike the building of the medieval cathedral in Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.
The characters asserted themselves; their voices became strong, their actions true—two independent people, thrown together by war, holding secrets, dropping their defenses, meeting as lovers. I hope you like them as much as I do!
The knight shifted in the saddle, trying to rid his sense of unease. Not fear of the battle to which they marched, soon or late, but the disturbing consciousness of his squire. He had no real fault to find; several weeks together showed the boy to be well-bred and well trained, with a ready wit and deft in his service—indeed, he added much to Godfrey’s comfort that Hugo never had. But there was something rather…queer about him.
He went missing at odd times, though never for long and always with an excuse. Whenever Godfrey tried to draw him out about his family or past, he would shift the conversation. After that unsettling look at their first meeting, the boy kept his gaze down—a most unmanly habit. Yet, perversely, the knight had an instinctive liking and trust for the lad.
What he did not trust were his own feelings toward the squire. He found himself studying the lad, noticing his walk and bearing. One day at weapon practice, he’d gripped the boy’s shoulder and been startled at the delicacy of the bones beneath the mail shirt. His hand had burned for hours thereafter.
For the first time, Godfrey came to dread evening, when it was just the two of them in the tent. At times, he could scarce lie still on his camp bed, the nearness of his companion drawing him like a lodestone. Sleep was a torment of fragmented dreams involving flesh, firm muscles and that red-lipped mouth. Many nights he fled their shared tent, seeking relief at his own hand—something he would have to admit to his confessor, again.
A lifelong soldier, he was well aware of unseemly intimacies between certain men. Women were often scarce, apart from the doxies who followed the camps. Any man who valued his parts, not to mention his purse, would do well to stay away. Godfrey was as lusty as any man, but if a clean—and willing—woman were not available, he did without. As a man of honor, he would not stoop to ravish the womenfolk of those they conquered.
Wulfric made him doubt all that he knew of himself.
Mayhap it was time to quit soldiering. He’d been well rewarded for his service over the years with estates he seldom visited. He tried to imagine manor life, with farms and tenants, always in the same place. Could he adapt to that existence?
He would marry, of course, a lass of good family with lands to increase his, someone to grace his table, warm his bed and produce heirs. It was the sensible thing to do.
Somehow, the mental picture of the unknown bride-to-be had Wulfric’s sea-colored eyes and red hair.
Christ’s Wounds! Would death in battle be the only way to cleanse his mind of such thoughts, to rid his body of its appetite? The lad was driving him mad.
“Boy!” Wulfric looked up, startled by his curt tone. “Ride ahead and see about tonight’s camp. ‘Tis likely the Earl will call a meeting at the halt. I expect all to be ready when we’ve done.”
The squire nodded in deference and kicked his horse to a faster pace. Godfrey observed again that the boy sat his horse well; his thighs were lean but well-muscled, rounding sleekly into the arse… He stopped that line of thought abruptly.
Yes, marriage—and soon.
Find out more about Cela Winter’s writing and published work at www.celawinter.com.