“Rion. I know.”
His brother shifted on the leather seat. He looked about to clear his throat, but Rion stopped himself.
“There is nothing to be known.”
Phillip parted his lips, but he released silence alone.
Rion settled into a cloud of silence the entire journey home. His blank face twitched as the electric vehicle rolled over holes in the paved road, but his eyes stared away from the life. Even the sight of Colonel Montgomery with his day-servant did not bring back his euphoric sense.
Phillip studied the creases in his own palms. A smudge of pastel blue still decorated one from yesterday’s oil canvas.
He couldn’t wait to leave the moving confines of the cab.
When the fair-haired driver clicked down the device known as the 'peddle-stick', Rion was the first to open his door. He twitched his lips in the direction of the young man, before thrusting a wad of brown notes his way. Tens. More than enough to pay for the fifteen-minute fee.
Phillip stepped out – already Rion moved beyond the sweet twitter of the larks in the orangery, and his finest shoes crunched upon the brittle stone path. A whiff of citrus threw Phillip, but, blinking back the dreamy haze, he broke into a run. Rion wasn’t getting away.
“Excuse me!” Phillip called.
Rion didn't turn. With hands deep in pockets, a concession would not be made so easily.
“Rion!” Phillip was the faster runner. He always had been. Where Phillip legged it from one quarter of the Mansion to the next, Rion took command on a horse – and his lunge was lethal.
“I have nothing to say to you,” Rion’s voice said. His eyes scanned the bottle-white sky.
“All right,” Phillip replied. His marched to the beat on his brother's kicking toes. They had only edged a little further when that silence killed Phillip's inspiration of the nature. “I am not oblique to life. A question would be ill-spent. I have seen Benjamin's antics –”
“I told you: enough!”
And the end of the pathway met the two front doors, oak and broad. Rion yanked the bell-chain and rapped once, only startled by Richards opening the door so suddenly.
“Gentlemen. Good afternoon?”
“None of your business,” was Rion's curdled answer.
“One could say that, Richards,” Phillip said to the butler. He shrugged, keeping Rion's stubbornness in the corner of one eye.
They marched through the hallways. The moment he thought Rion might slide away into his dank office and bar everything from entry for a thousand years, Phillip spotted the open door to the lower living room. His one shot at a bluff.
“I shall tell Father. You know that.”
Rion's footsteps halted. His left hand scraped down on the stair-rail, but, when he turned, he was more interested on the room beyond Phillip’s head than the white paint underneath his nails.
He crushed the two steps in one jump, and his shoes made skid-marks across the polished floor as he galloped to the doorway. It was bare, but only Phillip had known that. Rion slowly spun. Before, his eyes had boiled with unusual terror; now they contorted.
“Dare to play games with me, Brother?”
Phillip took a deep breath. “I know you are different. I do not share in your…tastes, but I take my own interest in them.” As his brother advantaged, they both budged into the room.
Phillip posted himself near the rear tapestry, but, for once, he could not settle into the foams of picturesque thread. He kept his eyes on Rion, whose back already had displayed itself.
“You ought to call an end to the…arrangement,” Phillip said.
“I ought to?” Rion drew his tongue through his front teeth: a sound making mockery of Phillip, as if he was the one to be ashamed.
“Yes –” Phillip started again, but he cut off himself this second time. He frowned at the tapestry – had it not gasped? No, his imagination must have been playing tricks on him, for the cloth hung as lifeless as ever.
Instead, the skulking Rion entered his view. If Phillip had been given this one chance in helping his brother, like hell was he taking it.
“If Father finds out –” he began.
“You and your righteous ideas! Father will not find out, and you will not tell him, Phillip. No.”
“I simply don’t understand the compatibility of…like parts,” Phillip protested.
Rion snorted. He bore the tone of his cavalry steeds. “You don’t have to skirt around the juicy details.” That same disturbing smile stuck on his lips. His pink tongue darted out, glossed his lips with saliva and retreated. His pleasure smacked Phillip with its distortions.