|10:51 am - If I Leave Again|
This is based on the characters in Mary Renault's novel The Charioteer. They belong to her and I make no profit from them. Rated PG-17.
The telephone rang. Laurie reached for it, his eyes on the manuscript in front of him. "Good morning. Poynter Literary."
"Spud," a well-remembered voice said.
He jumped to his feet. His chair skidded backwards to thud against the wall. "Ralph! My God! Where are you?" He was safe.
"Liverpool." There was a low laugh. "I thought I'd better call my agent."
The signal Ralph wasn't alone, but Laurie couldn't help the smile on his face or the way his heart was thudding like a bird trying to escape his chest. "Indeed, you had better."
"Ask him when we receive a new novel." Poynter stood in the doorway in one of his dramatic poses, arm propped on the doorjamb a cigarette tilted between his fingers. The man should have been omipalone he was so dramatic, but in fact he was definitely straight, often with an adoring actress on his arm for the evening.
Laurie gave a quick nod. "Is there somewhere I can call you? We need to talk--about your new novel, Poynter says."
"I'll be in port for a week or more. Can't say why, but if you can come to Liverpool, I'll show you what I have for you." The smile in Ralph's voice made Laurie sit on the corner of his desk. "Can you come?"
"Of course I'll come. A week?" He felt breathless. "I'll check the train schedule. I'll have to stop by the digs and pack a bag."
"Good. I'm at the Adelphi. I'll see if there is another room available. Don't worry about anything; just get here."
"Can I call you there? To let you know when I'll arrive?" Laurie chewed a lip. "From Euston station should be best."
"Just meet me in the hotel bar. I'll be waiting."
Laurie put the receiver down to look up at Poynter's smirk.
"I take it you want time off."
"He is a client, after all," Laurie objected. Thank God, he didn't blush. A year in London with Poynter's quite literary set was beginning to cure him of that. It wasn't as though some of their clients like Ackerley made much secret of what they were. He even liked the man, even if Ackerley was famous for his fondness for rough trade.
"Rather." Poyter sucked in a lungful of smoke and let it dribble from his mouth. "Do remember to check on a manuscript while you're there, dear boy. He is your client now, after all."
"Mine?" Laurie looked at him blankly.
"Isn't it about time you had your own stable? Let's see. You brought in Lanyon, and it was you convinced Marshall and Jameson to sign. You can have them; I have more than I have time for."
Poynter would bring this up now. Would that mean he'd get the agent's split? It would have to wait until he got back. He shoved manuscripts and papers into his desk drawers. "I'll see if Ralph has a new manuscript," he said as he headed for the door.
Even with the current fuel shortage with so many transports being lost to the Germans, trains ran between London and Liverpool every hour. By late afternoon, Laurie walked through the marble lobby of the Adelphi. The clerk said there weren't rooms with so many naval officers and officials in the city, so he would have to share with Commander Lanyon. Laurie scowled and said, "This is most inconvenient," feeling a bit smug at his newly acquired sophistication, before he headed for the bar.
Ralph stood at the bar engrossed in a conversation with an RN lieutenant. Even amidst the elegance of the Adelphi, Ralph shone in his well-pressed, beautifully-fitting uniform. Laurie stopped so he could enjoy simply looking at him. Even in the dim light of the bar, you could see his eyes were blue. During his year away, the incipient lines around his eyes had gotten a touch deeper. He nodded at what the lieutenant was saying, then he turned his back to the bar, eyes sweeping the room until they rested on Laurie, and he smiled. As Laurie walked towards the two men, Ralph motioned for a drink.
"Riordan, Spud Odell. He's the one who got me into this literary nonsense."
The lieutenant, almost handsome, Laurie noted, with dark hair, gave Laurie a brief handshake. "How d'you do. Odd thing for the commander here to be involved in. Never would have taken him for the bookish sort."
Laurie took a welcome sip of his gin and tonic. "He didn't take to the idea at first, but he's good actually." Please, he couldn't be blushing. Laurie saw Ralph smile into his drink. "Sales are doing rather well." He felt a good deal less worldly than he had just a moment before and took a gulp of his drink. "We're hoping for another one soon."
"Must pay well to run to the Adelphi." He finished his drink and, with good days to both, was on his way.
Ralph looked at his watch. "Plenty of time before dinner. Suppose I show you that manuscript first."
"Yes. The manuscript." He carefully put his glass down on the bar. "I must see it." Now he sounded like an idiot, but Ralph nodded. Laurie followed him into the lobby and up the broad marble stairway. He was so hard inside his trousers it was ridiculous.
At the door of their room, Ralph grabbed his wrist and yanked him inside. He closed the door behind them. Ralph's hand cupped the light switch. "No," he said. His hands on each side trapped Laurie, and he leaned in for a hard kiss. Ralph pressed him against the door and unbuttoned his pants. He knelt and took Laurie in his mouth. Laurie let his head drop back, gulping for air. He stroked Ralph's head, pushing his fingers through the crisp hair. Ralph hummed in his throat as his head bobbed. But soon all Laurie could focus on was Ralph's warm, hungry mouth. The top of his head lifted off as he came with a shuddering groan.
Ralph pushed himself up with his palms, flushed and smiling. "That couldn't wait," he whispered
Laurie laughed softly, catching his breath. "Apparently not." He leaned into Ralph and devoured his mouth. They shed their clothes as they kissed and stroked, working their way to the bed.
Ralph pushed him down and rolled him over. Laurie shivered as Ralph knelt and ran his hands over his back and his arse. He already had an erection again. He couldn't help the whimper as Ralph's fingers explored him. The memory of that hard body had been nothing to its reality. To Ralph's kisses. To biting his shoulder as he pushed into him, sweat dripping onto his back. To the sound of their bodies slapping together. To the wonder of Ralph inside him when he finally lost control and came with a roar of release.
For the next hour, they wrestled and ranged around the bed. Those nights alone in his bed as he'd touched himself and imagined it was Ralph, he'd almost forgotten how very much Ralph knew and how good he was. But even better than Ralph's experienced caresses were the hard, hungry kisses that meant that Ralph had been as lonely as he had been. Finally, tangled in gummy sheets, by unspoken agreement, they stopped, flat on their backs, spent.
Laurie twined his fingers with Ralph's. "I missed you."
"Missed that?" Ralph lifted himself onto an elbow to smile down at him.
"That too. Sometimes I think..." He reached up to stroke back a strand of blond hair that had fallen over Ralph's forehead. "...that all this will never be over."
"But it will be. Someday." Ralph let out a sigh, settling on his side next to him. "And I'll come home."
"For a while." Laurie hadn't quite realized before that there would be hurt in the statement. "But you'll go to sea again."
"No, not when all this is over," Ralph said in a business-like voice. "If I leave again, you're coming with me."