GAMES AT DEAUVILLE is the sequel of FLIGHT AT PEENEMŰNDE. Hopefully, you'll find it as appealing.
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I stood in the drive in front of the Hall and watched as Churchill and Molloy motored away. The realisation of what I had agreed to finally began to sink in.
I was flying to France after the weekend - on His Majesty's service, part of my brain pointed out, trying to reassure me. The Christmas preparations I'd promised to make would have to wait until I returned.
I tensed as I thought about what Churchill requested. It sounded innocent enough, but my harrowing escape from Schloß Kys was still fresh. I forced myself to relax. This time, there would be no danger in the offing, and I would have Barry with me - and Elizabeth. I should be able to work in a day in Paris before we returned. That would take care of my Christmas shopping. It would also be jolly good fun to introduce my cousin and my lover to the city of light.
Willi's horse! I'd almost forgotten! And the boy was so set on having one too.
A gentleman should be able to ride, and I intended to raise the lad as a gentleman, didn't I? Wilhelm von Kys, now William Adshead and my heir, was young at five to have his own horse - but not too young. My father had put me on a horse when I was three. I had my own before I was seven. I could do no less for my newly adopted son.
A gentle mount would go perfectly with Barry's gift to the boy. A cowboy outfit indeed! Janus von Kys would absolutely chortle at the vision of Willi riding across the flat plains of Prussia dressed like some escapee from an American wild west film.
A horse that was used to children was a necessity. The farm manager could help me there. He was a good man, and he had a good sense for horseflesh. He'd find a suitable one for the boy while I was away.
I shivered and realised that I'd walked my visitors to their car with only a pullover on.
I stepped back into the Hall and, before I could reach the study, Miss Murray approached me. "Is everything all right, m'Lord?" she asked.
I smiled as I nodded to Jane Murray. I was glad to have her, and not only because she accepted what her nephew and I had between us. "Send someone down to the farm manager and tell him to join me." She said nothing but her brow arched in question. "Elizabeth, Barry, and I will be away most of next week," I said in way of explanation. "You'll need to tell Cook that she won't have us that week to fatten up for Christmas dinner."
She started to turn but a thought struck her and she stopped to look back at me. "Was that Mr. Churchill who came to visit just now, sir?" she asked. I nodded. "Nothing good comes from that man," she mumbled.
"Why's that, Miss Murray?"
"I hear that he's looking for a war with those Huns, sir. I just hope he doesn't find it, or a lot of good boys won't be around to take care of their mums when they've grown old."
"Some American general once said that war is hell, and I suspect that's he's quite right about it, Miss Murray," I told her. "But, in this case, I fear the Germans are readying themselves for war and, if it comes, England will have to fight it. Perhaps alone. We'll need Winston Churchill then."
Miss Murray nodded sadly and started towards the kitchen.
* * *
I stepped into the library and pulled the doors closed. Barry stopped reading Whitman's Leaves Of Grass and looked up. Elizabeth sat watching me. I cleared my throat. "I have something to tell you," I said.
"That's quite obvious, Robert," my cousin said. "And what did the Honourable Mr. Churchill ask of you?"
I stared at her, taken by surprise by her perceptiveness.
Barry laughed. "Robbie, it's pretty obvious. Molloy and this Churchill guy come here, you three hole up in your study, they leave, and you come and say that you have something to tell us. What else could it be?"
"You'll both need to pack a few things for Monday," I told them. "We're going to France."
"France?" Barry yelped, staring at me in surprise.
"We fly to Paris on Monday. I assume that we'll then be driven out to Deauville where we will stay for several days-"
"Deauville?" Elizabeth asked, her eyes lighting up.
"Deauville?" Barry asked suspiciously. "What's there?"
"A casino," she explained to him, "gaming tables, the latest fashions, even actors from the cinema-"
"Ooh-la-la!" he said and rose. Reaching Elizabeth, he raised her hand to his lips. "Mademoiselle! I vill sveep you off your feet-"
"My God!" I yelped.
Elizabeth tapped her foot. "Barry, I said actors - from the French cinema. Like that darling man Maurice Chevalier. Not Germans."
I groaned for their benefit but still smiled. They were looking forward to this little junket. And they would help to make it fun for all of us.
"And, Robert, why are we going to this place mal famé?" she asked, turning to me, suspicion written in bold characters across her face.
"I need to meet with their Minister of Justice, Eliza. You and Barry will accompany me to make me appear to be just another mad Englishman - if anyone is interested."
I turned to look at Barry. "And you will accompany this girl everywhere while we're there. Aunt Alice would have my head if the virtue of a Petersholme ward were ever compromised."
"No good-looking Frenchmen allowed within ten feet?" he asked, his eyes sparkling with the same mirth as my cousin's.
I tried to imagine how Mr. Churchill would handle this repartee if he were here. I knew then that he wouldn't have. I decided simply to ignore it - and enjoy the time the three of us would share once there.
"Willi is not going to be a happy boy, Robbie," Barry said, his face suddenly serious.
"We'll be back home before the end of the week," I told him.
"Of course we will," Eliza seconded quickly.
"I don't know - the poor kid has had a whole series of knocks in a really short period of time," Barry explained, looking directly at me. "You're the one secure thing in this whole new world that he's been thrown into. And you need a chance to relax completely - away from all that stuff that filled your head all the time in London."
"Dagold arrives for Christmas tomorrow," Eliza offered. "And Willi will have Aunt Alice watching over him like a mother hen. He won't even know we're gone."
"You'd better tell him," Barry said. "Privately. Robbie, make it a man-to-man talk - maybe he'll understand that your going is a duty or something."
"I suppose so," I mumbled as I turned back to the hall, already planning how I would handle telling the boy. I thought, however, that Barry was greatly exaggerating how Willi would take my departure. The boy had behaved perfectly normally the last month in London since I'd brought him to England.
* * *
I followed the path through raised flower beds and found Aunt Alice sitting on a bench in the centre of the garden. The green of the holly bushes and the red of their berries added a festive colour to the winter bleakness around us.
Willi ran back and forth along the path that led back to the outbuildings. He had what looked like a model aeroplane in his hand. I nodded to her and looked down the path to see my new son pretending to be a bomber.
"He's a good boy, Robert," she said softly, following my gaze. "He will be a Baron worthy of you when that time comes."
"I can only hope, Aunt." I took a deep breath and looked back at her. "I'm going to France for a few days."
"That's what that Mr. Churchill wanted with you then?"
"You knew he was here?"
She giggled like a small girl, her strong face breaking into a broad grin. "Robert Adshead! There is nothing that happens at Bellingham Hall that I don't know about. Nothing."
"Elizabeth and Barry will be with me." She arched a brow and fixed me with her gaze. "It's nothing dangerous, Aunt. They're perfectly safe. I'm only going to brief a member of the French government about what I saw in Germany - him and some officers from their army."
"And Elizabeth needs to accompany you?"
"Max convinced Churchill that the two of them would provide me a cover if anyone became interested in my presence there."
"You'll watch her carefully?"
"If I get involved, Barry will accompany her everywhere, Aunt Alice."
She stood and pulled her coat close. "Then I think you'll need to tell your heir about your plans, Robert." She glanced up the path at the boy now moving towards us. "I'll leave you men alone."
"Hello, Willi," I called to the boy. "Please come here. We need to talk."
I heard the rustle of my aunt's skirts as she left me. I watched as my son came closer, his face lit up by both the air's chill and an inner fire I could only guess at. "You've decided Father Christmas can give me my own horse then?" he asked as he neared me.
I chuckled and held out my arms to him. He dropped his aeroplane down in a flower bed and flew to me, nearly knocking me over. "You'll say yes to Father Christmas, won't you?" he demanded against my ear. "About the horse?"
"Do you think you're old enough, Willi?" I asked. "A horse is a lot of responsibility, you know-"
"Please, Uncle Robert!"
"We'll see, Wilhelm. I really must think about it first, though." I set him down. "Let's walk a bit, shall we?"
We walked along the garden path, Willi holding my hand possessively. I couldn't remember a time in my own childhood when my father had allowed me to hold onto him as this lad now did me. My throat tightened; his hand in mine felt damned good. At that moment, I pitied my father for never having learnt how good a young boy's trust felt.
We reached a bench and I sat down, pulling him to me. "You're a big boy, aren't you?" I asked in German. I wanted him to understand me completely.
He stepped back, pulled himself to attention, and studied my face. "I am not an infant any more, Uncle Robert. I am the Graf von Kys."
"Good!" I breathed a sigh of relief. I told myself that this was not going to be anything like difficult as Barry had imagined. "His Majesty's Government have asked me to carry a message to France-" He continued to study my face. I felt strangely like a bug under a microscope. "I have to go, Willi - but I'll be back in plenty of time for Christmas," I finished hurriedly.
"You can't go!" He stared at me, his blue eyes large.
"Oh, let's be serious here, lad. There's nothing dangerous about going to a stodgy old government minister and delivering a message to him. I'll be home before you can even miss me."
"You're going to leave me then?" He pushed off my lap, his feet finding the ground.
"Dagold will be here tomorrow, before we leave-"
"I don't want to see Vati's whore!" he cried.
"Willi!" I growled with shock. Where had he learnt that word?
His face contorted and his small hands became fists. "I'm tired of speaking English all the time," he hissed, continuing to speak in German. "It is a pig's language. And England is a pigsty."
Tears welled in his eyes and began to run down his cheeks. "I am here because of you. To escape Mutti. But you don't want me! I want to go home - to the Fatherland - where I belong-" He turned then and began to run towards the house.
He reached the kitchen and slipped inside.
So much for any special understanding between the boy and myself. I took off after him.
Von Kys, what in God's name have you got me into? And what was I to do with a five year old child who was angry and hurt? One who was now legally my son?
If this were twenty years earlier, my father would have seen the boy's behaviour as a childish tantrum. When I was still five, I was allowed to see him for no more than an hour a day. Nurse would have me on my best behaviour for the event. I doubted that the man cared much for my feelings and thoughts. I was his heir and that had been the extent of his thinking about me when I was Wilhelm's age.
But I was not a product of the nineteenth century. I cared for the boy whom I had brought back from Germany and whom I had taken responsibility for. He made my life somehow more complete by being in it and a part of it.
I reached the great hall in time to see Barry and Elizabeth reach the foot of the stairs. Aunt Alice breathed hard as she set foot on the landing above me. I held back then.
* * *
Alice Adshead had been discussing with Cook how many Christmas cakes to bake in the coming week. She stopped in mid-sentence and looked towards the door as it slammed open.
Willi ran through the kitchen and skidded to a stop before the door to the hall. She saw that his face was screwed up and heard him breathing in hard gasps as he pulled the door open and pushed through. She turned to Cook and told her to decide on dinner and started after the boy.
He was stomping up the last of the stairs as she reached the bottom of the staircase. "Willi?" she called to him. He reached the landing and ran along it to his room, ignoring her.
She followed after him.
"Willi?" she asked as she opened the door to his room.
He turned into his pillow and Alice heard him sob. She hurried to him and sat on the bed beside him. "What's wrong, child?" Her hand went to his head and stroked his hair.
"Nein!" he wailed. "Nicht mehr auf englisch." He buried his face deeper in the pillow and cried louder.
Alice's hand caressed the boy's shoulder absently. She sat quietly beside him. She could not understand what he had said but sensed that she could not push him until he'd finished crying.
Barry had heard the door slam out in the hall and turned in time to see Willi begin to climb the stairs rapidly. Before he could do anything, however, he saw Alice Adshead quickly cross the hall and start up the stairs after the boy.
"I think Robbie just blew it with the kid," he told Elizabeth and started for the hall.
"What do you mean?"
"The kid's madder than an old wet hen. He ran up to his room and Miss Alice just went up after him. Want to go and see if we can help smooth things out?"
They climbed the stairs and started along the landing, following the sound of the boy's sobbing to his room. Barry smiled when he saw Alice sitting beside the boy and trying to console him. Elizabeth stepped into the room and Alice glanced up to see the two young people. She shrugged at their unspoken question.
Barry moved to the bed and knelt beside Wilhelm. "Come on, big guy," he said softly as he leaned closer to the boy. "Nothing can be this bad."
Willi sobbed louder. Barry took the small fist from the pillow, wrapping his hand around it.
"What's the matter? Come on, tell Uncle Barry-"
Willi lifted his head and looked at him. "No! I'm never going to speak English again," he wailed in German and buried his face in the pillow again.
Barry looked to the two women. "What did he say?" he mumbled.
"Something about English," Elizabeth offered. Alice shrugged and continued to stroke the boy's shoulder.
"Willi," Barry said softly, leaning closer. "I can't speak German. I speak English. Talk to me, buddy - so that I can understand."
Willi shook his head vehemently against the pillow. "English is a pig's language," he sobbed in German. "I'll never speak it again."
Barry glanced to the two women again. "Schwein is pig, I think," Elizabeth offered. "And Sprache is language." She forced a tight smile to her lips. "I think young Wilhelm is really quite angry, Barry."
The American nodded and looked back to the boy. He didn't know what Robbie had told the kid about their trip to France but, whatever it was, it hadn't been taken well. "You know that we love you-" he began.
Willi turned his head to gaze directly at Barry, tears rolling down his cheeks. "You don't love me, no-one loves me!" he said, speaking English slowly. "Only Vati loved me, and he's dead. I heard Dagold say that Mutti killed him when he was taking me to the aeroplane. She'll do that to Uncle Robert there in France too."
Barry leaned back slightly and smiled down at the boy. "The King of England has asked Robert to go to France for him, Willi. Robert loves you - he loves us all - but this is his King asking him to do this. He can't refuse to go."
"He'll die. But maybe Mutti won't have him killed if I go back to her. She always said that I was a son of the new Germany. She said that I belonged to Germany. The Reichsführer said it too the time that she took me to his house. Let me go to her, Uncle Barry. That way, Uncle Robert will be safe. All of you will be."
Alice harumphed and stood, looking down at the boy. "This creature who killed your father, Willi - your mother. She can't touch you here - this is England. We don't allow things like that. Robert is only going to France, and that's a free country. That woman can't touch Robert there. We're all safe from that mess."
"Elizabeth and I will be going with him to France, Willi," Barry told him. "That way, he'll be safe. And we'll have him back here all in one piece a whole week before Christmas."
The child blinked. "You'll go with him to keep him safe?" he sniffed.
Barry nodded. "I think I can convince him that you're big enough to have that pony you've been talking about too. Would you like that?" Willi nodded slowly. "Then you're going to have to get up and wash your face, kid. Big boys don't cry and carry on like this. We've got to show Uncle Robert that you're old enough to have that pony."
"You'll take care of Uncle Robert?" he demanded. Barry nodded again. Willi looked to Elizabeth. "You will too?"
She smiled. "I love Robert as much as you do, young man," she said. "I'll bring him home alive and well. I promise you that - Barry and I both will."
* * *
Clive was sprawled across the tractor seat, his left leg resting on the tyre. He raised the jug of plum brandy and took a mouthful. Swallowing, he passed the jug down to his friend Neville leaning against the gear box. He looked back up towards the manor house.
"It's bloody cold out here, Clive," Neville said as he lifted the jug to his lips.
"You ain't ever satisfied, mate," the blond youth answered. "It's always too hot or too cold for you." He dropped his foot to the floor of the tractor. "At least, we ain't spreading manure and sweating our bollocks off in this weather. Me balls itched wicked all bloody summer doing that shit."
His eyes narrowed as he remembered his Lordship sentencing him - and all he'd done was try to have some sport with that queer Yank.
He and Nevie were just looking to have a bit of fun with the American. The Yank'd have enjoyed it too - being all snooty and proper all the time. A regular nancy boy, he was. Clive figured every queer wanted dick. They had been going to give it to him too.
Only, the Yank fought them. He'd known some funny moves too - Nip moves, he reckoned. Busted his nose, the Yank had. Clive was in pain for a good month after that. He was also sure he would never breathe right again.
And his Lordship. Bloody arse! Giving him and Nevie a choice of gaol or slaving at the dirtiest jobs on the farm. And the farm manager had found every one of them too. Pitching manure all through the autumn. Sweated his bollocks off, he had. And smelling that shit!
He wondered what it would be like, fucking a pansy like that Yank was. Fucking anything was more like. He was seventeen and his dick had only known his hand. He glanced down at Neville and his cock twitched. He tried to push the thought beginning to take shape out of his head.
Nevie and him, they'd been mates since they were wearing nappies. They even shared a cottage now that they were grown up. Just the two of them. His lips twitched. He could think of one way to warm Nevie up. Him too, most like. And no-one would ever even know. Maybe Nevie would like it - like that Yank would have.
"Wonder where that stuck-up bitch is going?" Neville asked, his words pulling Clive from where his thoughts had taken him.
"Who's that?" the blond asked, sitting up - his dick forgotten as the possibility of something interesting happening took possession of him.
"That girl who works in the kitchen now."
"That tease!" Clive growled as his gaze found her coming down from the manor, his thoughts diving back into what was in his trousers. "Remember back at school how she'd look us boys over, even handle the goods a bit?"
Neville nodded. "She'd toss a lad off, all right. But she'd never drop her knickers for us to have a look-see."
Clive laughed. "She knew better, she did. It wouldn't have stopped with a look-see, and she knew it. All of the boys tried, but no-one managed to get those knickers down so we could see her fanny." For a moment, he watched the girl as she came closer. "Wonder if a lad ever found his way in to give her what's what?"
"I heard she's sweet on a lad from the tractor plant in Coventry now," Neville told him. "Only, her dad's right there when he comes to visit, keeping his eye on the two of them."
Clive watched the girl pass the tractor shed and sniggered at her giving it a decent berth. "She's going down to the cottages," he said.
"She's probably off from the kitchen then," Neville offered. "Her daddy would want her to come straight home."
"Naw, they'll be still cooking his Lordship's supper up there now. I'll wager they sent her down here to get the farm manager for our haughty Lordship to question and all."
"Whatever the reason, I wish that she'd have come closer," Neville chuckled. "I got me something that would make her forget those manners she's learnt up there at his Lordship's."
"Now, mate, don't be having that sort of thoughts," Clive told him. "You'll be too randy around me." He laughed. "I wouldn't want to hurt you none, mate. Lest you be the one bending over - and that wouldn't hurt you at all."
Clive watched the girl from the kitchen in silence until she'd reached the manager's cottage and knocked on his door. His fingers stroked his growing erection through his woollen trousers, imagining what he could do to her. It wasn't until his bollocks were drawing up against his shaft that his thoughts began to move to the purpose of her visit.
It'd only been the week before when he and Neville had been down at the pub in the village that the blacksmith had sidled up to him and put a new pint of bitter in his hand. Nevie was leaning against the wall, his eyes glazed, already pissed. But then the lad never could handle his spirits, they went right to his head.
"You're young Clive from up at Bellingham Hall, aren't you?" the smith had asked.
"Aye." He looked down at the full pint in his hand. "And thank you," he said.
"Lord Petersholme pay you well up there, does he?"
Clive shrugged. "As well as any other bloke, I figure."
"I hear that you don't particularly like his Lordship, Clive."
"Why should he have everything and a bloke like me have to work his arse off for a few shillings a week?" the youth answered with more feeling than he'd meant to show.
The smith smiled and nodded. "A man with a good head on his shoulders then." He took a long draught of his beer before continuing. "Would you like to make a bit of money now and then - on the side, that is?"
Clive had studied the smith closely. The man was young and big. Very big. Clive thought of muscles on top of muscles as he took in the man's chest and neck. Curly, black and unruly hair covered his ears and reached almost to his collar. His moustache was the same colour and extended out past the planes of his cheeks. He dug into his memories and found the smith's name. David Rice.
Clive was sure that David Rice had something underhanded up his sleeve. It sounded like it. He allowed a small smile to pull his lips up. "And what would I have to do to make this bit of money?" he asked.
Rice grinned broadly and patted him on the shoulder. "That's a good mate, Clive. I thought you would be interested-"
"Perhaps," Clive said, holding up his hand. "It depends on what I'd have to do."
Rice nodded and drained his pint. "Just keep your eyes and ears open there at Hall. I have friends who are interested in the doings of Lord Petersholme. Him and his friends - but him mostly."
It had turned out that David Rice wasn't interested at all in Miss Elizabeth or Miss Alice or even the Yank jessie boy. But he'd paid five shillings to know that German brat had arrived on the farm - more than a day's wage, it was.
Clive wondered what he'd pay to know whatever was going on at the Hall now to have them send a girl down to the manager's cottage. He knew he'd better find out what it was if he wanted to make any money out of it.
"Drink up, lad," he told Neville. "Mum said this jug was from her best lot."
"Can't get too pissed, Clive," Neville mumbled, bringing the jug to his lips. He took a long draught from it.
"You can handle what's there. It's almost gone."
Neville up-ended the jug and drained it. Lowering it back to his lap, he smacked his lips and grinned to his friend. "Good to the last drop, Clive," he said, his words slurring. "My compliments to your ma. She makes a good brew."
The blond laughed. "Nevie, it's time for you to lie down a bit." He saw the girl step out into the sun followed by the farm manager. "Can you make it down to the cottage on your own, lad?"
"I'm not some child, Clive!"
"Course you're not. You just need to sleep off the brandy, that's all."
"You want to go to the pub tonight?"
Neville hung his head and, conceding defeat, slipped carefully off the tractor. He made a show of raising his arm and pretending to sniff. "You'll wake me in time to get ready?" he asked as he stood and looked back up at his friend. "Got to smell pretty in case there's some tart around."
"I'll be off then." He began to make his way along the path, stumbling towards the cottages. Clive watched the farm manager shake his head as he and the girl passed Neville.
Clive grinned. He thought that it was just as well that the manager's attention was drawn to his friend. That kept it away from him and his doings. He waited until they had passed him and began to follow them.
From behind the nearest outbuilding, he watched the girl lead the farm manager into the kitchen. When they were inside, he ran across the clearing to press against the stairs to the terrace off of the ballroom. Pressing against the wall to catch his breath, Clive reckoned his Lordship would interview the manager in his study. Staying close to the wall, he moved along the backface of the house peering in each window until he saw light filtering through the thick curtains. He could just make out the bookshelf on the far wall and Petersholme sitting at a desk. He grinned when he heard the knock at the interior door and knew he would be able to overhear whatever was said inside. He could almost feel the smith's coins weighing his pocket already.
Clive listened as the two men exchanged the pleasantries a landowner and his manager made. He recognised them for what they were and ignored them. His ear pressed against the cold glass of the window as Petersholme told the man that he was leaving for France the coming Monday and would be taking both his cousin and the American with him. They expected to be gone only three days but would definitely be back in residence by the end of the week.
Clive was already pulling away from the wall when he heard his Lordship mention that another guest would be arriving before they left - a German named Jorsten. He left when the men's conversation moved on to the Christmas bonus Petersholme intended to give the farm help.