The Courtier’s Tale Ch. 03

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“Follow me, Joseph. Bring the tray.” Lord Valmont strode toward his rooms with singular determination. Joseph trailed behind him, bearing the bottle of cognac with him. The quiet valet was certain that Lady Montblanc would not tolerate Marcel’s recent behaviour. Yet he knew better than to make any comment.

Marcel stopped abruptly just three paces inside the door and swung around. Joseph very nearly walked into him. Scooping the bottle off the tray, Marcel filled his glass and drained it almost immediately. Joseph had never seen Marcel drink so much in the space of a mere few hours.

“Damn it all! This bottle’s empty.” Marcel stared balefully at his valet. “Why are you still here, Joseph? Fetch me another!”

“My lord.” He bowed quickly and left. Although the young lord clearly needed no more of the strong liquor, Joseph would never dare to tell him so.

He slipped through one of the many painted panels leading below stairs. As he passed by clusters of Anna’s servants, his thoughts were focused on Marcel. Lord Valmont’s obvious interest in the Irish music teacher made Joseph clench his fists. A few months ago he never would have cared. Joseph sighed and shook his head. He knew it was beyond foolish to allow the selfish lord into his heart. Marcel was merely using him and thought of nothing but his own pleasure. Repeating this to himself like a prayer, the somber man collected the liquor and began walking back to Marcel’s rooms.

This time he noticed the way many of Anna’s serving women stared at him and whispered to each other as he passed. He raised his chin and refused to acknowledge them. They all seemed aware of Marcel’s particular taste in bed partners. As a result, they shunned his company and watched his every movement.

It hadn’t been that way in Paris. Joseph missed the city almost as much as his master did. Friends and family had both been left behind. If he’d been there, he was sure that his friends among the family servants would’ve been less hostile.

Such thoughts were banished as Marcel’s apartments came into view. He could hear angry voices through the closed doors, one of them clearly belonging to the lady of the house. Joseph knew he’d no right to spy on them. He was well aware that he should wait in the hall until summoned. Yet, he carefully turned the latch and eased the door open just a crack.

“… made a mockery of myself and my hospitality! On a Holy Day no less! Father would—”

“Our father sent me to you! My dear sister,” he sneered, “the paragon of discipline and virtue.”

“That’s right!” she snapped back. “What would become of you if I threw you out?”

“You wouldn’t dare! It’s not as though you don’t have your own dirty secrets! What would father say if he knew of young Mr. Colton? You’re entirely too fond of him, Anne!”

“What? How dare you threaten me! How dare you assume I feel such base emotions!”

“You’ve a point, I confess it. No harpy such as you would feel anything beyond her own self-righteousness.”

There was a sharp crack, followed by silence. She’d actually struck her brother. Joseph inched closer to the door, wondering if it was over. No such luck, Anna berated her brother further as the valet listened.

“You concern yourself too much with my daughter’s music teacher. I think you’re jealous, little brother. You will stay away from him henceforth!”

“Really, Anna, do you honestly expect me to hide myself if he canters up the drive on his drab little pony?”

“I’ll do better than that, Marcel.” She hissed. “For the next week, you will remain in your suite unless summoned.”

“Out of the question!” His outrage was palpable. Joseph wished he could see the young lord’s face.

“You will do as you’re told, Marcel.” Her voice was calm and even now, dangerously so. “You’ll be lucky if I don’t order you locked in these rooms. I ought to send your servant packing as well!” Joseph drew a sudden, sharp breath. Unfortunately she heard him. The door was jerked open an instant later and he stared into the lady’s hateful gaze.

“So! Your servant spies on us, Marcel!”

It was true enough, though one did well not to admit such a thing. Joseph bowed gracefully and knew he had to lie. “Not so my lady. The door was left ajar and I could not help but hear your last words. I apologize if I–“

Anna slapped him hard. “How dare you lie to me! I can—”

“That’s enough, Anna.” Marcel appeared by Joseph’s side. “He is my servant. Father gave him to me.”

“I beg your pardon? Are you protecting your catamite, now?”

Joseph blushed and lowered his eyes. “My lady, I’m nothing of the sort.”

Marcel smirked triumphantly. “There, you see. My valet is innocent of such things, dear sister. Surely I would never claim a common man as a lover? Even you must see that.” The lord’s tone was vile and mocking as he said it.

“No servant of yours is innocent, Marcel.” She said darkly. “Furthermore, your disgusting habits have little to do with love. He was eaves dropping and ought to be punished.” etiler escort The look she gave Joseph was murderous.

“Indeed?” Marcel Valmont closed his hand around Joseph’s arm and drew him inside the suite. “If he has been spying, I’ll punish him myself. Good night, Anna.” He shut the door in her outraged face and bolted it.

Joseph wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, but Marcel still held his arm tight. The look in his eyes was merciless, though his tone was quiet and soft. “I believe my sister is right, Joseph. How unfortunate for you.”

“My—my lord, I—”

“Be quiet!” He drew him close and whispered in the valet’s ear. “I’m sure you realise what could happen to you?” Joseph trembled, aware that he could be sacked or even flogged for his temerity. Unable to speak, he nodded. “Good. Now then, what were you doing outside my door, Joseph?”

He held up the bottle that he’d been sent to retrieve. “My lord requested this.” He whispered.

Marcel chuckled in his ear. “So I did. It will taste almost as good as the sweat on your skin. Perhaps I might consider forgiving you. Get undressed.” Valmont took the bottle and poured himself a glass. Dark eyes watched him over the rim of cut crystal. “I’m impressed you did not crumble beneath her scrutiny, Joseph.”

Joseph draped his coat over a chair and began unbuttoning his shirt. “She did not believe me, my lord.”

Marcel only snorted and drained the glass. “Of course she didn’t. My sister isn’t stupid, she simply has no proof.”

He stalked toward Joseph and ran his tapered fingers over his valet’s bare chest. “She won’t be back tonight. Take off the rest.” Joseph did as he was told. “Ah, you’re ready for me, aren’t you?” Marcel’s fingers slid smoothly around Joseph’s hardened rod. He gasped and arched his back into Marcel’s hand. “I’m pleased by how quickly you’ve learned to enjoy this, Joseph.” The valet moaned as his body was kissed and groped, ashamed by how very much he wanted it.

Their mouths met, exchanging hungry, passionate kisses. Joseph slid his hands down the front Marcel’s flamboyant outfit. As he began to unlace his breeches, the young lord stepped suddenly away from him.

“Not yet, Joseph.”

Marcel strode into the inner chamber, his heels clicking sharply on the marble parquetry. Sitting on the bed, Marcel leaned back on his elbows and extended one long leg into the air. “Shoes first.”

Joseph was aroused, naked and highly irritated. He knelt at his lord’s feet and carefully removed the silken shoes. Instead of removing the breeches, as he normally would, Joseph slid his palms over Marcel’s feet and up his calves. He undid the button just below Marcel’s knee and slipped his hand beneath the fabric, stroking his thigh over the silk hose.

“Joseph? What are you doing?”

The valet’s fingers found the top edge of the short hose his lord was wearing, halfway up his thigh. “Disrobing you, my lord.” He said innocently. Then he rapidly slid the silk garment all the way off.

Marcel gasped and stared down at his servant. Joseph gave him no time to react and repeated his actions with the other leg. Planting lingering kisses all the way up Marcel’s leg, Joseph finally unlaced and removed his breeches. Instead of taking complete control, as Joseph expected, Marcel observed him silently with half lidded eyes. He must really be drunk, the valet thought sourly.

Marcel gasped loudly and threw back his head as Joseph’s mouth enveloped him. Joseph held down his hips and took the lord’s manhood down his throat over and over. Marcel’s fingers tangled in his hair and the lord squirmed ardently beneath his ministrations. He’d done this before, of course, but never so aggressively.

“Ah! Joseph—I…”

He knew Marcel was about to come and stopped abruptly. He climbed on top and straddled his master, unbuttoning vest and shirt.

“What—” The lord was silenced by a savage kiss that left Marcel breathless.

Joseph didn’t want to give Marcel time to think. His hands trembled as he picked up the bottle of oil and liberally applied it the lord’s long tool. Valmont’s eyes dilated and his breath quickened. Joseph knew it would hurt a lot, he just didn’t care. He raised his hips and impaled himself hard on Marcel’s manhood, screaming out raggedly as he did so.

Marcel reached toward his shoulders, but Joseph was having none of that. He pinned the lord’s wrists and waited for the pain to subside.

“Let me up, Joseph.” There was cold steel in Marcel’s voice, but the young valet ignored it. He kissed the lord passionately and then rode him hard and fast. It didn’t take very long. Excited by his own boldness, Joseph came quickly, followed by Marcel. They were covered in sweat as Joseph rolled onto his back. He closed his eyes, too exhausted to move.


Marcel woke slowly. The bright wash of sunlight through the window lay warm on the lavender quilt. It was tucked snugly around him, which struck the lord as odd. The previous night came back to him and he bolted upright. escorts Marcel then realised he wasn’t naked, the linen nightshirt smelled crisp and fresh. Blinking in surprise, he turned to find his customary tea and toast breakfast on the nightstand. Everything was completely normal. Dark eyes slid slowly along the floor. Every trace of their debauchery was gone. In fact the parquetry looked cleaner than it had any right to.

“I see you’re awake, my lord.” His valet came into the room and approached the tea service. Every movement as he poured the hot liquid was casual and relaxed. Speechless, he took the small cup as it was handed to him. Joseph then wandered over to the wardrobe and began selecting items of clothing.

Marcel’s mouth thinned to a line. He put the cup down and surged to his feet. Joseph whirled around as Marcel closed the distance between them. The valet backed up, pressing against the teak wardrobe. Marcel placed his palm almost tenderly against the young man’s face.

“Joseph,” he purred, “I am your lord, am I not?”

“Yes my lord.” A small hesitation, “I live to serve.”

“Do you?” Marcel leaned into him until the tips of their noses were almost touching. “Hmm. Do you know why my father chose you to accompany me to this God forsaken hole?”

“No, my lord.”

Marcel idly picked up a stray lock of Joseph’s hair. “For several reasons. First, you’re obedient; you mind your own business and keep your mouth shut. Second, in the last year that you’ve been among my body servants, I hadn’t shown the slightest interest in you.” Their eyes met. “Unsurprising really, since you’re not much to look at.” Joseph blushed and he looked away. “Also, you hadn’t shown any interest in anyone at all. He thought you quite chaste and believed he was forcing celibacy upon me.” The look his valet gave him made Marcel smile wickedly. “Oh yes, my father keeps track of these things. As do I. Thirdly, you are the least experienced of all my valets in Paris and the youngest. He thought to humiliate me, you see.”

Heavy silence hung between them for several heartbeats. Then Marcel’s eyes darkened, even though he smiled. “So tell me why you believe that your behaviour is excusable.”

Joseph hesitated, “Was my lord… unsatisfied?” Marcel’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. He studied Joseph intently. The lad’s face showed only concern for his performance. A growing anxiety as well but that was expected.

“You’re concerned about my enjoyment?” He asked incredulously.

Confused, Joseph blinked at him. “I… my lord, pleasure is the goal, is it not?” His valet continued on before Marcel could react. “Please, forgive my forwardness, but how does my lord wish me to… I… that is…” The lad trailed off, blushing madly. “How might I serve you?”

Marcel was charmed and felt his anger gradually slipping away. He pressed the younger man against the wardrobe and claimed his lips. They shared a long, passionate kiss tasting each other deeply.

Both men heard the outer doors open. Marcel stepped away from Joseph and sat on his bed. When Anna’s butler opened the inner doors, Marcel was sipping his tea whilst Joseph waited to dress him. Nothing was amiss in any way.


David cantered up the drive towards Montblanc Manor. He usually looked forward to his time tutoring Elizabeth. However, a frown creased his brow as the manor house loomed closer. He could only hope that Lord Valmont was out riding or some such. His hands tightened on the reins. Anna’s brother was proving volatile and unpredictable. From what he remembered of Parisian courtiers, he might become dangerous as well. If he failed to get what he wanted, of course. David’s jaw clenched as he closed the remaining distance to the front steps.

One of Anna’s many stable grooms was waiting for him and he dismounted smoothly. “Good afternoon… Andre, isn’t it?”

The lad smiled and gave a slight bow. “Master Colton.”

David sighed and made his way inside. He’d tried to persuade the boy to call him David, but no such luck. Anna’s servants were too well trained to break easily from tradition. The thought made him smile ruefully as he waited in the front hall. He knew where the south-facing parlour was. Still, he waited for one of Anna’s valets to escort him. The Lady was a traditionalist herself and it wouldn’t do to offend her.

Where did Marcel fit in her world? More importantly, why was he here instead of parading about at court? For the first time, David wondered why the courtier would visit a relative he so obviously disliked. Not only that, but she lived so far from the court the young lord would surely disdain everything in Perigueux as unacceptably provincial.

Motion at the corner of his vision drew David from his thoughts. His eyes met those of a sallow faced young man carrying a covered tray. The music teacher remembered he was Marcel’s personal servant, although he could not recall his name. The valet averted his gaze and walked rapidly up the curving staircase. His expression had bagcilar escort been calm and controlled, but David felt certain the young man disliked him.

“Monsieur Colton?” Anna’s butler had arrived for him. “This way please.”


“David!” Anna called out as he entered the parlour. “It’s always a pleasure to see you.”

He sketched a small bow. “Madame.”

Elizabeth rose and curtsied prettily. “Good afternoon, monsieur Colton.”

“A pleasure to see you, Elizabeth.” He took her hands and kissed both cheeks. “I’m sure you could simply call me David.”

“Certainly not!” Anna’s voice was shocked and shrill. “That’s far too familiar for a young woman of quality. It simply isn’t done.”

David looked over at her and released her daughter’s hands. Lady Montblanc’s temper had been more evident since her younger brother had arrived. Once again, David wondered why Marcel was there. “Forgive me, madame. Such a lapse will not occur again.”

Anna demurred almost immediately. “Of course, David.” She fanned herself slowly and sipped a cup of tea.

David led Elizabeth to the great harp for her lessons. He began tuning the instrument and glanced over at Anna. “Will Lord Valmont be joining us this afternoon?”

Anna’s face reddened and she snapped her fan shut. “I’ve little tolerance for my brother today.”

“Oh. Of course, madame.”

Her expression softened fractionally, although she did not elaborate.


Joseph brought Marcel his lunch. The lord was staring out the window with his back to the door. He set the tray down beside the chaise lounge and poured his master a glass of white wine.

“That’s a pale vintage. What am I having?”

“Turkey sandwiches, my lord.”

Marcel sighed deeply. “Gods, how dull. Tell me they’re decently seasoned at least.”

A smile curled the corners of Joseph’s mouth despite himself. “I’m sure they are, my lord.”

Marcel snorted as he sat down. “Yes my lord, no my lord, I’m sure it’s very good my lord.” His tone was bitter and mocking. “For God’s sake, Joseph, don’t you ever want to tell me to go fuck myself?” Dark eyes pinned him, daring him to say yes.

Joseph averted his gaze. “No, my lord.”

“Liar.” Marcel sipped the wine and continued speaking to his valet. With no one else to talk to it was becoming a habit. “Tell me, is their anything noteworthy going on anywhere? I’m bored to death.”

Joseph hesitated, but he was sure Marcel knew what day it was. “The music teacher has arrived.”

Marcel looked up. “Oh? Thursday is it? Was our dear Mr. David Colton wearing grey or black today?”

Joseph felt an irritation that he tried not to show. “Grey, my lord.”

“M-hmm, how dull. I daresay the man has no imagination.” The valet said nothing and silence reigned for several minutes. “Mind you, he does favour those adorable little garter bows. If only they weren’t always black. Was he wearing those today?”

“I…” Joseph faltered. “I was on my way here and failed to notice, my lord.”

Marcel sighed. “Damn. No matter, he always dresses with absurd sobriety. Even the pale blue Montblanc livery would be a welcome change.” Marcel’s eyes lingered idly on his servant’s clothes. Anna had insisted Joseph wear her colours while they were staying there. The truth was it made Joseph stand out less and the young valet was grateful for that. “This blue suits you, Joseph.” The lord ran his fingers up the back of Joseph’s trousers. The younger man sucked in a sharp breath.

“Th- thank you, my lord.” He flushed, actually hoping Marcel would undress him.

Lord Valmont turned back to his lunch. “When you return the tray, check and see if he’s wearing those little bows.”

Joseph forced a placid tone as he refilled Marcel’s glass. “Yes, my lord.”


Joseph exited the kitchens and proceeded towards Lady Montblanc’s favourite parlour. He knew well enough that he couldn’t just walk in there without reason. He prepared a plausible excuse so he wouldn’t have to sneak around. There was enough ill will toward him and his master without that.

He took a deep breath and opened the white double doors. Anna looked up; surprise and annoyance clear on her face. He bowed and waited for her acknowledgement.

After a moment, she pursed her lips and gestured impatiently at him. “Yes, what is it?”

“My Lord Valmont wishes to know if his presence at dinner will be required this evening?”

Her eyes darkened further. Elizabeth and David looked over at them with interest. “I will send for him at the appropriate time.” Her tone was hard and unforgiving.

“Yes, madame.” He bowed and ran his gaze swiftly over David. Little black silk bows adorned the hems of the Irish man’s breeches, just below the knee. His eyes slid upward in case there was anything else of note about the man. Their eyes met and Joseph stared into those clear grey orbs.

“You are dismissed.” The lady’s tone was crisp.

Startled, he bowed again and withdrew. He could feel her predatory gaze on his back until the shut the doors behind him.

The click of his one-inch heels echoed softly on the marble flooring as he walked through the manor house. They were perfect metronomes for the lonely feeling inside him.

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