Thank you for continuing to read GAMES AT DEAUVILLE. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
I hold the copyright and no portion of this manuscript may be published in any medium other than at Nifty without my express and written permission. With the US Congress pretending to be a medieval religious Prince's court (and jury and executioner), it's best that only those over 18 in the US, 16 in the civilised world read this novel.
I would like to refer you to my other story appearing on Nifty: DARK PRINCE that is in the scifi/fan folder.
Nifty can always use operating capital. Please use your credit card and help keep Nifty free.
"Gott im Himmel!" Schmidt gasped. He instantly realised that he'd spoken aloud and quickly glanced towards the end of the bar and the bartender there. The man was still washing a glass and didn't appear to have heard him. Schmidt breathed a sigh of relief at that and turned back to look at the red-haired youth who had so reminded him of his friend from officers training school.
No, now that he was studying him, this man didn't look much like his friend at all. His complexion was darker and he had freckles. His eyes were spaced further apart, his nose was not aquiline at all, and his lips were fuller. The cut of his clothes was strange as well. He was handsome, but he wasn't his friend.
Schmidt pulled his attention from the ginger-haired man and turned it to all of the people at his table. The woman with the chestnut hair, she was most attractive. He smiled. It would be a pleasure to bed her. So much more of a pleasure than the Gräfin von Kys this afternoon.
He saw the French major then and his eyes widened. So, this was the English Baron's party. He wondered which one was Petersholme. It couldn't be the ginger-haired man - that one was far too young to have crossed the Gräfin.
There were two other men at the table in addition to the woman and he concentrated on them. One would be the Englishman and the other the Dauphin. They were both Aryan, as perfectly so as the Party could hope for in German men. The brunet seemed to be taken by the woman. A Frenchman? Perhaps the son of the French pretender? Yes. He was wearing the uniform of the Army of France.
He turned to the other man and recognised the English cut of the blond's clothing. Baron Petersholme, I presume? he asked mentally. Yes, of course you are. Whatever did you do to the Gräfin von Kys to make her hate you so?
He shrugged as he continued to study the blond Englishman. It is a pity that you die tomorrow, Herr Baron. He raised the snifter of cognac to his lips and smiled to himself behind it as he felt his member stir. I would certainly have liked to have had time to get to know you better.
He motioned the head waiter to him. "I'll eat, after all," he told the man in poor French. "May I have the table beside the young people over there? They don't look as stodgy as some of your other guests." He slipped the man a ten franc note as he stood and followed as the head waiter began to lead him across the dining room.
"Robert, Philippe suggested this afternoon that I watch Monsieur Reynaud's cook create French art while you men hunt," Stefan heard the girl say as he was being seated.
He nodded. Yes, they were speaking French and he could understand them. "But," she continued, "I think I would like to join you in search of a stag instead."
"Eliza-" the blond said, his voice a warning.
"I'd be happy to stay at the château and learn something about French cooking," the redhead grumbled and Schmidt had difficulty understanding him through a strange accent he'd not heard before. "Or read a good book perhaps-"
"You do not like to hunt, Monsieur Alexander?" the brunet asked. "The Americans do not hunt the stags to cull their herds?"
Definitely a Frenchman. And, of course, that made the man the French Dauphin. Louis-Philippe d'Orléans, Comte de Paris. Schmidt stole a quick glance at their table to get a better picture of the man. After all, there was talk that, once the Führer had established the new order throughout Europe, he might put this Frenchman's father on the throne as he was supposed to want to do with that English King that abdicated the year before.
And the redhead was American. How strange! He looked as normal as the others at his table. He even exhibited the same manners as the others. Nothing at all like those yelping wild Indians who had populated the films he'd watched as a boy at the cinema.
Why was an American with Petersholme? And one so young at that?
As far as Stefan Schmidt knew, relations were not strained between the Fatherland and America. He wondered if the American were entranced by the girl - they could be young lovers. But it was d'Orléans who appeared totally enthralled by her, not the American.
So, who was this American and why was he a member of the Petersholme party? Schmidt found himself wishing that Major Urnazy had been more complete in his report to the Gräfin earlier. He wanted to study the American more closely.
"Of course, he will enjoy this hunt, Capitaine," Urnazy said at the Petersholme table. "And it would be inadvisable for Baron Petersholme's cousin to join the hunt."
Schmidt felt as if the major were gazing at him, though he was studiously avoiding looking over at their table. Somehow, it felt as if the Frenchman's gaze was a veiled threat. For the first time, he allowed himself to wonder if the SD's man in Colonel de Gaulle's office could be playing both sides.
"I'm not particularly thrilled at the thought of shooting some poor dumb animal," the American mumbled in his defense.
The younger Frenchman chuckled. "Then, you must not shoot, Barry. Still, you must come with us - there is a cameraderie that unites men who hunt together-"
"So, it's men bonding together that you want tomorrow then?" the woman asked. Schmidt decided there was a playful quality to that voice. And it was so refined - yes, he would like to pleasure her. "Like young boys playing together?" she continued and he now definitely sensed the mirth behind her voice, like a mother permitting her son to play with his friends.
"There is something of that to it, Eliza," Petersholme answered.
"Something almost feudal," Barry Alexander grumbled.
"Has the Minister been able to put together a compromise on this piece of legislation yet?" Petersholme asked, clearly changing the subject of conversation at their table.
"Ah, no, Robert - not yet," d'Orléans answered.
"So, you've heard from him?" the American asked.
"His secretary called just before we were to leave the château - I forgot to mention it. Please accept my apologies."
Schmidt hazarded a quick glance at the table as the waiter began to serve him and saw that the ginger-haired American was grinning and that d'Orléans was actually blushing. The girl's eyes twinkled knowingly and Petersholme just smiled as he watched the Frenchman. How very strange, he thought to himself. But, then, the nobility was always strange. It would be best to make them puppets, he decided - just as the Führer was said to have decided.
He stopped trying to listen to the conversations beside him as he started to eat and turned his thoughts to trying to understand the Petersholme party's dynamics.
The redheaded American - Barry Alexander, he remembered - stood out as incongruous. He was far too young to be a government official. Schmidt would guess his age as twenty or twenty-one years at most - probably younger. And he was unattached to the girl - the Baron's cousin, if Urnazy was correct. Logically, he should not be with them; yet, he was seated at the same table and seemed to know them well.
D'Orléans was obviously smitten by the girl and the other members of the party knew of his feelings. It was not difficult to imagine that his interest was returned by her; he was quite handsome. There was also a natural grace to his movements that was appealing.
Schmidt could understand the English Baron, d'Orléans, and the girl together. That would be natural to their sort - the suitor and his lady with the accompanying chaperon. But Barry Alexander? Why was he there?
That was definitely not obvious. It bothered Stefan Schmidt, gnawing at the very fabric of the order that he had managed to establish over his world. He had no doubt the Gräfin would be as interested as he himself was.
He frowned. Hopefully it would be interesting enough for her to forget about making him her sex toy. A good looking-woman like Lord Petersholme's cousin wanting him would be a pleasant diversion. But the cow who had corralled him that afternoon? It was a wonder that his equipment had been able to perform, but he was thankful that it had.
It was almost like the American was with the Baron. As the girl was with d'Orléans. Was that possible? That the Baron was queer? He grinned at that and had to force himself not to turn and stare at the men sitting at the Petersholme table.
The Englishman was definitely handsome enough to turn a warmer Bruder's head - both he and the American were. And they did make a handsome couple.
Would Urnazy have picked up on the sense of the two men being together? Stefan would give anything to be able to question the French major at that moment, learning everything he knew or guessed about the Baron and his companions. The Gräfin would want to question him too. He already knew that she was insatiable if something was sexual.
Only, they were not going to have Urnazy to question. He was with the Petersholme party and would return to the château with them. And the hunting party was tomorrow.
Still ... Stefan could easily imagine the two of them in bed. And they became three as he joined them. It would be a good fantasy for lonely nights.
He would not have to see Urnazy again. That was a relief. He still did not understand why he felt so threatened by the man at the other table. It was as if Urnazy knew about him, about his past, and was daring him.
* * *
Maximillian Molloy crawled around the nursery on his hands and knees before the fire. He had removed his jacket and collar in anticipation of this time to play with his son. Willi rode his hips and little Cecil his chest. Petersholme's adopted son had his arm around Cecil's chest, holding him on his father's back.
Molloy was surprised at how well the German boy had taken to his son. Willi was an only child, and Molloy had assumed that he would be spoilt rotten. But the moment the boy was introduced to Cecil, it was as if Petersholme's newly adopted heir had taken responsibility for the younger boy.
There had been no suggestion of it from Molloy or the other adults, no directing the older boy to consider Cecil. He just had.
"Are you all right there, Willi?" Molloy asked over his shoulder.
"Jawohl!" the boy called back, his legs squeezing Molloy's waist tight. "I like this riding of the horse. You are a good horse."
Molloy looked down his chest at his belly hanging there. He'd lost weight since he'd been with Alan, but he needed to tighten those muscles. It was definitely time he began an exercise regimen, he told himself.
"I mean, do you mind looking after little Cecil, lad?"
"Warum nicht, Herr Molloy? He is my brother. I must do so; it cannot be other than this. We are good together."
His brother? Wherever had the boy got that idea? Molloy smiled then. That sort of attitude bode well for the continued friendship between their two families that he and Robbie had begun.
Molloy looked up to see Cecil's nurse standing at the open door. He sighed as he was pulled away from the simple pleasure of enjoying the boys. "Yes?"
"It's young Cecil's usual bedtime, sir - would you keep him up longer?"
"No, I suppose not." He looked over his shoulder at the two boys. "Hop off, lads."
"No!" Cecil cried. "I want to ride the horsey more."
Willi bent forward and whispered something in the other boy's ear. Molloy didn't hear what was said, but Cecil instantly dismounted his back followed by Willi.
"I'll sleep with my friend Willi," Cecil said to the nurse and, taking the German boy's hand, started for her.
The nurse looked questioningly to Molloy.
He nodded as the woman began shooing the boys through the door.
After they were gone, he stood and buttoned his shirt. He groaned as he saw his collar and tie. The Earl would die of apoplexy if his oldest son dared to appear in public undressed and, at Easthampton-Mares, in public meant anywhere other than the bath and one's own bedroom. Molloy dressed and started down the hall towards the stairs that would lead him to the sitting room where his father and his wife would be waiting for him.
They were in their bedroom and Max was sure his father was already snoring in his bed. He hadn't believed how much port the old Earl put away after he had joined them. He hoped that his drinking hadn't become a nightly occurrence.
"Alan got away to Belfast then?" Sarah asked as she pulled pins from her hair.
He finished removing his collar before answering. "Bloody lucky!" he answered. "He left - what? - three days ago now. A fortnight he's got off."
"And what about you, Max?" she asked over her shoulder.
He chuckled. "There's no rest for the weary."
She turned to face him. "You're not going to have to go back to London this week, are you?"
"Not London, Sarah. Bellingham Hall. I'll need to stay through Friday-"
"Whatever for?" she demanded, coming closer.
"Alice Adshead and that young German Petersholme rescued are there alone."
"And-?" She demanded, studying him closely.
Molloy collapsed on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. "This is all hush hush, Sarah."
He sighed. "There's a spy in place at Bellingham. The Navy intercepted a radio message telling Berlin that Petersholme was off to France and that both Willi and the German lad were at the estate - that's why Willi is here. We want to keep him safe."
"My God!" she hissed. "This is England, Max - they can't do anything here!"
"They can and they well might." He sat up and faced her. "Sarah, it's Willi's mother who's behind this. She survived that mess that Petersholme was in a couple of months ago, and she's managed to get herself transferred over to state security. It's a good bet the Hun's going to try something at Bellingham Hall before Petersholme can finish up in France."
"Why not just turn it over to the police?"
"We don't know who the spy is - it could even be the local constable for all we know. Besides, if they are up to something, it'll be with guns and it'll be nasty - the constabulary would be useless."
"The army then?"
Molloy snorted. "Sarah! Those lads would stir up enough dust that you could see them coming for a hundred miles. The spy and everyone else around would know the army's there."
"What will you be able to do there then, Max?"
"Firstly, no-one will know that we are on to them. Then, this German lad who's there was trained in their Waffen-SS-" He smiled at her. "You know, the lads in those black uniforms you liked in the newsreel we saw a fortnight ago? He was one of those before this Countess tried to kill him."
"What do you know about military operations, Max? Or how spies operate for that matter?" She crossed to the bed and stood over him, watching him closely.
"Sarah, I learnt to shoot as a child. We'll be armed to the teeth - Petersholme has a full gun cabinet, thanks to his father. And we'll have Alice Adshead with us as well. You've met the old girl - in the middle of the night, she'd scare a Hun stealing into that house to death. Besides, there wouldn't be more than one or two of them - if they try to do anything at all."
"So, you're going to Bellingham Hall, like a little boy off on a great adventure ... Max, you could get killed. Others could. This mess is a matter for the police - or the army."
"Robbie's my best friend in all the world, Sarah-"
"Better than Alan?"
Molloy blushed. Though she knew and approved of his relationship with Alan Dudding, he was still embarrassed whenever the subject of his lover was brought up in front of her. "The situations are different - between them, I mean. But they're both my best friends then - equal ..."
He nodded, still embarrassed by the subject.
"And Cecil and I are-?"
"The same," he mumbled.
"But different again?" she asked as she sat beside him.
He again nodded.
She shook her head slowly, her gaze continuing to hold him. Molloy saw the twinkle in her eyes then and relaxed. "I suspect this is why I'm so fond of you, Max - this sense of duty of yours. Even when it's dead wrong, you won't be stayed-"
"Petersholme would do the same for me, Sarah."
"Just remember this can be a serious situation, Max. If a German spy does break into Bellingham Hall, he'll be armed."
He chuckled and bent to kiss her forehead. "I'll hide behind Alice Adshead; she'd have him packed off to Hun Heaven before he could point a pistol."
"When will you leave, Max?"
"I'll start out first thing tomorrow morning and be there in time for tea."
* * *
He waited just inside the doorway of the stairway, watching the entrance to the Gräfin's rooms. A smile touched his lips as he watched Pelletier step out into the hallway and start towards the lift. The man fastidiously cleaned his hands with his handkerchief as he glanced quickly up and down the corridor.
It took no imagination for Stefan Schmidt to know what the man from French security had just gone through. He suspected Pelletier would scrub himself thoroughly before he went to bed. Gisele von Kys had that effect on men.
"Cow!" he hissed under his breath as he remembered his own sense of uncleanliness from that afternoon. He heard the elevator stop on the floor and its gate open. He pursed his lips.
The Frenchman was gone and that left him to report to the Gräfin. Alone. He hoped that Pelletier had satisfied her and she would leave him alone.
He didn't begrudge the Gräfin her sexual appetite, he reminded himself as he entered the corridor and started for her door. It was just that she shouldn't direct that appetite towards him. Not only did he not want it, it was almost un-German. Using her position to coerce him was.
It brought into question the new order that the Führer had given the German people.
He paused as a new thought struck him. He could report her once they were back in Berlin.
Quickly, he glanced up and down the hallway to ensure that he was alone.
He knew the answer almost as soon as the thought became conscious. The one word of advice that the commandant at officer training school had given him was never to cross the Gräfin. He had whispered it in the next breath after he'd given Schmidt his first duty orders.
She was too well placed, had too many influential friends. If Schmidt or any subordinate was seen to betray her, he would face a firing squad.
But, if she were out of the way, he would not have to service her on demand like a stud bull. He grinned as he had another thought. If he performed well on this mission, he would be practically guaranteed a promotion - especially if the Gräfin von Kys were not in the picture.
He quickly forced that thought away and made his face blank. He crossed the hallway resolutely and knocked on the Gräfin's door.
She wore a dressing gown when she finally opened the door for him. She looked rumpled. "What?" she demanded.
He forced back a smile. "I have something interesting to report, Gräfin," he said, keeping his voice neutral.
"At this hour, Obersturmführer?" she growled but stepped back to permit him to enter. "This had better be good."
"The English Baron was in the casino's restaurant with Major Urnazy and the French Prince, Gräfin," he said as she closed the door behind them. "There were also his female cousin and a young American man with him. It appeared that the cousin and the Prince were-" He paused, unsure of the exact word that would describe their relationship. "That they were interested in each other."
"He brought his damned cousin with him?" she demanded. "That is strange-"
"Not as strange as the relationship I saw between the Baron and the American, Gräfin."
She looked up at him sharply. "Relationship?"
"I think that they were lovers."
"The American was too young to be attached to his government, Gräfin. There was no obvious reason for him to be there. And there were glances between them-" Schmidt suddenly realised that nothing he'd seen at the casino had been untoward. The two men had behaved properly at all times. Yet, there had been that overriding sense of togetherness he had felt. "They seemed to be together. I can't explain any better than that. Perhaps Major Urnazy can."
"Urnazy knows about these Schwulen?" she gasped.
"I think he suspects, Gräfin. He was at the table, enjoying himself with the others. He appeared comfortable with the Baron and American."
"I didn't know you spoke English, Stefan."
"No, but the conversation at their table was in French."
"Urnazy has made no mention of these queers-"
That bothered him. Why would a German agent leave out such a detail? It made no sense.
An image of the major began to coalesce across his mind. Younger and dressed in civilian clothes. He almost gasped and covered himself by coughing.
He knew Urnazy now. He had serviced the Frenchman at the Gauleiter's home. Seven years ago. Stefan had been fourteen and had just entered the Hitlerjugend, and Urnazy had been insatiable.
"This explains everything-" the Gräfin mumbled.
His mind leapt back to the room and his report to the fat woman.
"Petersholme was my late husband's best friend when he attended university in England," she mumbled, nodding her head. "This explains that - the damned English Baron was banging my husband in the arse."
Her eyes became focused and her gaze fixed on him. "Perhaps he what?" she demanded.
Schmidt shrugged. "I don't know, Gräfin. Forgive me please - I was just thinking aloud."
She nodded as a smile began to tug at her lips. "And I like the way you think, Stefan." She began to pace. "Urnazy is definitely a man of the world - that is obvious in his every mannerism. Yet, he has chosen not to report what he knows about the Baron - at least, what he suspects. That is suspicious."
"We arrived in France," he said slowly, "and were put together with a major from the army and an agent of French internal security-" Stefan Schmidt knew he was trying to sow discord as he spoke the words; he had decided to do so just at that moment. It had come to him then and he'd had no time to think it through.
Urnazy had been a visitor to the Essen Gauleiter's home and had used the youths from the local Hitlerjugend that the Gauleiter made available. He had used Stefan.
That should mean nothing. Other guests who had bedded him had eased his way into the SS-officer training school. But Urnazy had seemed threatening, especially earlier that evening.
Schmidt understood that he had to tread carefully. Urnazy was an agent of the Sicherheitsdienst. They were as committed to the new order to the same degree that the SS was. If the SD knew about his past, it would be the end of Stefan Schmidt. Urnazy would protect himself, but he could get Stefan.
Ultimately, it did not matter if Urnazy was a threat to him. He suspected him and that was enough. If he was right about the Frenchman, he would be dead. Schmidt preferred to think of the Frenchman dying instead. Only that meant that he did not make the Gräfin suspicious of himself while he directed her suspicions to play on the Frenchman.
He realised that the Gräfin was studying him and forced his thoughts away.
"Tomorrow I'll hide in the woods where Pelletier takes me. I'll wait for the hunting party there and you'll stay with the car - just as we've planned."
Schmidt brought himself to full attention and clicked his heels. "Of course, Gräfin."
"Only, you will not remain with the car. You will follow behind us, but stay hidden. Pelletier must not know that you are nearby."
He smiled as he allowed himself to relax. He did not have to worry that she would be suspicious of him after all. "And-?"
"You will keep Pelletier in your sights while we wait for the hunting party to arrive in our little woods, Obersturmführer-" She paused but he said nothing. "If Pelletier makes no move to harm me before they arrive," she continued, "you will concentrate on Urnazy." She smiled as he nodded. "You will kill the Petersholme's American queer when I shoot Petersholme. Then, with your second shot, you will kill Major Urnazy. Together, we'll return to the car and drive to Belgium."
"And the man from French security, Gräfin?"
"He will follow behind us. When we are away from the woods, kill him. Afterwards, you will lead me to the car and our German driver."
Schmidt grinned. "I like this new plan much better, Gräfin. It does not force us to depend on men we can't trust."
Her brow furrowed with thought. "Yes. One last thing then, Obersturmführer," she said a moment later. "Find a call box away from the hotel, one that French security will not have tapped. Call our embassy and have a car here by first light tomorrow morning. Insist that the driver and anyone else involved be German."
"First light, Gräfin?"
"You will need to show the driver where that barn is. Have him bring you back before parking there and waiting for us." She grinned suddenly at him. "We'll depend on Germans. We leave the woods for the barn and the embassy car, not the car that Pelletier knows about." She studied him for another moment. "Go make that call, Stefan."
He snapped to attention. "Jawohl, Gräfin!"
Stefan Schmidt lay in his bed in the dark, his arms behind his head. His thoughts raced.
He had Gisele von Kys' permission to kill Urnazy tomorrow. With him dead, there was no way the Sicherheitsdienst could learn the details of Stefan's youthful work for the Party. And, if Urnazy's controller in the SD didn't know about it, no-one in Waffen-SS or the Reichsführer's office was going to know about it.
And Pelletier would also be dead. The Sûreté was state security. There was no telling what the man might know about him. With him dead, Schmidt would feel much safer.
He chuckled as a new thought entered his mind. It would be doubly pleasant if Pelletier killed the Gräfin before Schmidt killed him.
There was, of course, no cause to believe that Pelletier would kill her. But he might react in such a way as to do something like that after seeing Urnazy killed. He would think that he was protecting himself. Schmidt wished that there was some way that he could put that thought into the Frenchman's mind.
It would be all too pleasant to arrive back in Berlin with his first mission successfully completed. That would be what the brass in Waffen-SS would see - a successfully completed mission.
It would matter little that his superior officer did not return to enjoy that success with him. It would be a pity, of course. It would also remind Berlin of French duplicity. He laughed at that thought. Of course, Berlin would believe that Urnazy and Pelletier had planned the Gräfin's and his deaths. Schmidt would tell them so. He would create a story they would have to believe.
He would have barely escaped the French trap. Berlin would believe that. They would have to. There would be no-one alive to dispute him - as long as the cow was dead. If she wasn't, Stefan Schmidt would face a firing squad, if the Gräfin didn't find some dirty way to kill him first.
Did he dare carry the Gräfin's orders that final step?
* * *
Barry snuggled against me on my bed, his face against my breast. I stroked the back of his head, enjoying just the feel of him beside me. "I spoke with Philippe this morning and with Elizabeth after we had our sleigh ride this afternoon."
"How is their romance developing?" I asked, unable to stiffle a snigger.
"Robbie, it looks like it's coming along too well-"
I realised that he'd lifted his head and was looking down at me. "How do you mean?" I asked, not at all sure that I wanted an answer. I could see Aunt Alice standing over me, tapping her foot.
"Philippe shows all the signs of being one ever more smitten boy-"
"What does that mean?"
"He's in love with your cousin, Robbie. And she's in love with him."
"So-?" I couldn't imagine that there was anything wrong with that. I'd been in love hundreds of times as a youth and even as a young man at university.
"I mean that they're really in love - the wedding bells kind, if they were back in New York."
"But that can't happen with them, can it?"
"I don't know - but why shouldn't it?" I shrugged. "Assuming they both feel this way when Eliza is back in England."
"He's Catholic, isn't he? And don't the Catholics and the Church of England have some heavy duty problems?"
"Philippe and Eliza are both civilised people, Barry. They come from generations of civilised people. A little thing like religion would be the least of the problems lying ahead of them."
"Sure, it is," he growled.
"I'll talk with Philippe tomorrow, Barry. We'll come to an understanding about this."
He buried his face in my chest again. "I really don't want to go on this hunt tomorrow, Robbie," he said, his voice muffled.
I could just make him out in the dim light from the sitting room. My arms went around his back, holding him closer. "Why not? Surely, you have this sort of thing back home-"
"Yeah, we do. The hunting party gets into place and labourers start scaring the deer towards the hunters. It's like - like shooting fish in a tub."
"Fish in a tub?"
"You catch the fish before hand - usually trout or bass. Big ones. Then you put them in a shallow tub or even a pool. It's shallow enough you can see them swimming around. Then, the hunters start shooting the poor suckers. There's no sport in that, Robbie." He lifted his head. "And the poor stags you guys shoot tomorrow - there won't be any sport in that, either."
"Like the grouseshooting we had for the guests last spring at the farm?"
"Yeah." Barry sat up then, the blanket falling down his chest to lie in his lap. "Exactly like that, Robbie. Grown men shooting poor defenceless animals that have no chance to escape."
My lad's voice was becoming louder. "Philippe is under orders to keep us occupied until this Reynaud chap can get free," I said slowly, hoping to calm him by appealing to his sense of responsibility. "I gather it's this or the gaming tables in town for us men."
Barry groaned. "At least you got in some reading this afternoon while I was chaperoning Elizabeth."
I grinned. "I finished the book too."
"It was one of Agatha Christie's mysteries, wasn't it?"
"I don't read much else when I'm away from home."
"So, who did it?"
"The butler," I told him, my voice serious.
I laughed then.
"That Major Urnazy gives me the willies, Robbie-"
"He - I don't know - he's sort of creepy," he continued. "I don't trust him."
"He gives you the willies?" I asked, repeating his words as I began to suspect that I had just learnt another American expression. "This means that you find him creepy?"
"Yeah. What did you think it meant?" His face began to swim slowly towards mine.
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Willie is used quite often to refer to a child's penis, Barry. I would suggest that you consciously avoid using that expression again - at least, when you're in the presence of Englishmen." I anticipated his lips and puckered mine in welcome.
He lay astride me, his chest touching mine and his knees straddling my hips. His lips nibbled at my earlobe. "Was it just me?" Barry breathed at my ear, "or was Urnazy sort of sneering at me at dinner tonight?"
"I didn't see anything," I told him, comfortable just to be holding him against me.
"It was sort of like he had us figured out, Robbie. Except that he had me pegged for a gold-digger. It felt kind of like there was a sexual energy there, all one-sided-" He sat up and looked down at me. "There was a - I don't know . . . sort of like the guy who's just about to rape a girl - like he wanted me, but it was more like he wanted to possess me."
I chuckled. "You are a lovely trophy, lad. Any sort with a Wildean bone in his body would want to bag you."
"I'm serious, Robbie." He shuddered. "I felt dirty after sitting at the table with him during dinner."
"After the hunt in the morning and dinner tomorrow night, you won't see him again." My hands moved to his hips as he continued to sit astride me and my fingers began to caress his smooth bottom.
"Didn't you say that Churchill told you that he didn't trust this de Gaulle guy?" Barry asked suddenly.
I nodded up at him.
"And both Philippe and this Urnazy are in de Gaulle's command, aren't they?"
Again, I nodded.
"Why wouldn't Churchill trust de Gaulle, Robbie? Do you think it's because somebody in England's military intelligence thinks he may have a spy in his organisation?"
"That's a bit far-fetched, Barry," I groaned. The middle of the night in my bed and being properly sated was not my idea of a reasonable time and place to discuss spies.
"This Major Urnazy is going to be on the hunt with you and Philippe, isn't he?"
"Of course, it was his idea I think-"
"Of course it was - I'm going hunting with you tomorrow." He rolled off of me and began to slide towards the edge of the bed.
"Where are you going?" I demanded.
His feet found the floor and he stood up. He turned back to face me. "Robbie, I'm going to my own bed."
"If I'm going to get up at the crack of dawn, I need my beauty sleep." His hands went to his hips and, though his voice was petulant, there was the hint of a chuckle in it. "I for one don't want crow's feet under my eyes when I'm twenty-six. Besides, we don't want to cause an international ruckus if some maid finds my bed unslept in."
"Ta ta, love." He blew me a kiss and scampered for the door.
I was wide awake, damn it.