Rion fell to the ground with a nice bump. He jolted awake to a nostalgic light, blue evening dousing his covers. A low purring emanated from the pillow beside him. Rion’s eyes flicked down – tousled caramel curls arched a halo around a heart-shaped face. Yakinos’ light breathing caused his fringe to flutter inches from Rion’s dangling fingers. He played with the tresses, curling one around his middle finger. Just gentle enough to keep Yakinos asleep and to raise his own interest. Rion pursed his lips. He would not kiss the man’s forehead; one evening of passion forced out enough sentiment.
Yakinos stirred, rubbing his bare chest against Rion’s as he turned. Head extended and the locks rested almost on Rion’s centre, purring onwards. Strange. Hicky hadn’t been the prowling type before. But Rion knew their breaking of relations had stirred within the man higher aims.
He had said so enough that evening. The word ‘hate’ had never been used as such an oxymoronic bringer of parcels of lust.
“Hello,” Rion said. He smiled at the light in Yakinos’ eyes. The only joy that arrived to him nowadays. With Phillip strutting back around the Mansion, no respite came to Rion except in undressed arms.
“I fell asleep –”
“I am sorry.”
Rion chuckled. “No, you are not.”
With the grin – and, again, his red lips stretched wide to clownish elliptors – he pushed himself up. In a flash, he had lifted the bedspread, eyes soaring. His lips curled.
“Ahem. What?” Rion asked.
“Merely checking,” murmured Yakinos in the middle of a giggle. “Have you the time?”
Rion scanned the clock on the wall opposite. “A quarter past the 11th. You should –”
They exchanged that long, knowing look spelling out a thousand hours. Rion cleared his throat. It was the least he could do to clear the tingling. He had been satisfied. That was enough.
Yakinos drew a hand over his eyes, wiping the crusted exterior from them. Then he settled down beside Rion and propped his chin up by his palm-on-elbow. “I am still a little tired. Ten more minutes?”
Rion watched the dappled hue of skin shifting in the evening light. He was very tempted – and considerations for quitting their arrangement became impossibilities. But thinking about a ‘bit of fun’ made rash with both their breaths. Rion bought fun from anywhere.
Yet, the silence of smiles fell as the door vibrated from the pounding knock its surface befell.
Bile burned the chamber of Rion’s throat. His heart pounded in its overdrive. That knock echoed through his head – boom, boom, boom – three each time in an orderly nightmare.
“Bollocks. Hicky, hide.”
But where? A blanket hardly covered the skinny frame of another sleeper – and Rion’s room opened to the world. No closet – he kept his clothes in a chest – and no interior additions. Besides, the matter arose of two pairs of shirts and trousers scattered wistfully on the floor.
He knew uselessness crept.
The pounding, however, had stopped. Even in this security, Rion shifted. He, as hopeless as it might have been, dressed Yakinos in his borrowed robes of the bedcovers.
The door burst open. Phillip, shirt limp around his youthful shoulders, slipped into the room; with one foot forward, he had kicked on the wainscoting, whilst one hand rattled the knob. He probably hadn’t realised the door was unlocked. But Rion had been too busy to slide the bar the other way.
“Where is the sense in barging into my room?” thundered Rion, knowing his only defence.
“It’s just,” Phillip stumbled. “They have brought the Brief forward to –”
Phillip’s eyebrows shot up. Rion coloured. The carnage of his room thrust forth enough evidence.
His voice fell to a whisper. “Shut the door.”
Phillip did, but wood upon wood banged. “Rion! You told me that you had ended this arrangement.”
The body beside Rion shifted. He cast him one look. “You can cease cowering, Yakinos.” Both faces burnt, but Yakinos lifted his with some pride striking his soft features.
Phillip’s hands curled. “Don’t. You shall not weasel your way out of –”
“Be quiet, Brother! I am not ‘weaselling’. I had…made an end, but… Is this worth wasting words over?”
“Is what? Your betrayal of this family?”
Rion shoved the quilt away from him and threw off Yakinos’ warning hand. He jumped out of bed and faced Phillip. “Yes? You would know. All those times you had prodded and poked into morals. When you attack Father’s and he must listen. We ought to do no suggestion of yours.” He sneered. “Do not tell me that you are attempting to save me. I tried once, but I will not be moved by your petty pleading. I have no betrayal. I have only to what I stay true.”
He didn’t dare eye Yakinos that moment. Rion shook. He didn’t know quite what had come over him. He had hated his brother before now – before Yakinos and before adulthood – but when the time came for Phillip to have only one plan of action, Rion hated him even more for it. Hated him irrepressibly.