Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fleur de Lys Part 3


The company was sent down to rest at the end of that week. Hayes brought the news on Thursday evening. Deverel laughed and went out on duty. He and Lindley were working four-hour duties again, now three officers short. Deverel looked sullen, Lindley’s pale skin was nearly translucent. The atmosphere wasn’t grief. It was an equal blend of resentment, exhaustion and cold.

“How did you swing that?” Lindley asked without much interest. Hayes shrugged.

“I said the company was too depleted to run.”

“I could be wrong, but haven’t you been whispering those words to HQ for months?”

“I went to the old Man.” Hayes leaned on the table. “Hammered Dev’s record home. Said I wouldn’t be responsible for what happened if the company had to run like this.”

“And the old boy actually listened?”

“I’ve been sworn another fifty men and another lieutenant.”

Lindley shrugged with rare bitterness. “Mustn’t expect miracles. How long will they give us out?”

“Three days.”

Silence. Hayes stared into his coffee.

“Dev all right?”

“Oh do try to be sensible. I know the proverbial stiff upper lip's a handicap but you can do better than this.” Lindley shut his book and pushed it away. “He was in a flap about young Blake even before he was killed. He’s exhausted.”

“Aren’t we all?”

“You’ve got to get him some leave Edward.”

“I keep trying. Now you’re another man down there’s not a hope.”

“He needs to go home. The entire company runs on his nerves. The day he cracks-“

“He won’t crack.” Hayes said sharply. Lindley laughed.

“He’s barely older than little Blake was and he’s been out here longer than you and me put together. He works himself to death for the company, you know he does. He felt responsible for Blake coming out here and being bludgeoned until he was as zombied as the rest of us-“

“It took everything I had to get three days.”

Lindley watched the tight line of Edward’s shoulders with exasperated fondness. Edward Hayes was undoubtedly an idiot, but he was an endearing idiot: Lindley had a sneaking affection for his nervous moustache and badly bitten fingernails.

“You’re a good little boy aren’t you? Just like Dev. Decent and quite nauseatingly honourable. I did it papa with my little axe.”


“Do you want a drink?”

As Lindley got up, Edward bent to retrieve his book, idly flipping through it. Grimm’s fairy tales, beautifully illustrated. And much handled.


It was a three-hour walk to the rest camp in sleet and water that rose waist deep in places. They fell further and further back from the front lines. When they finally left the trenches, the sleet became real snow, falling steadily and laying a little in the transport camp where they emerged. Horses were waiting for the officers and Dev mounted thankfully, his fingers almost too cold to feel the reins. Lindley was mounting a bay and fumbling with it’s bridle, head down under the snowfall. Deverel looked hard at him, noting the uncharacteristic clumsiness of his fine hands. The cold and wet was doing him no good, nor the strain of the longer and more frequent duties. He never complained, but he was not strong.

The men were standing still, too tired and too cold to care about the snow. Deverel know the bite of the heavy packs into their shoulders, the dragging, exhausting weight. Men had been stumbling and falling since they left the front, more or less sleepwalking, faces blank, uncaring. Dev signalled and kicked the cob forward, adjusting his weight over it’s shoulders to help it pick through the mud. They moved slowly through the camp and onto the road.

The further away from the line they went, the thicker the snow lay. The cob stumbled and Deverel held him up without thinking, “Come on sweetheart, pick your feet up.”

The Sergeant Major was saying something very similar to the stragglers at the back. There was some ragged whistling from Lindley’s platoon, two or three conflicting tunes which got lost in the cold. The noise of gunning was fading out of earshot. A muddle of breathless voices rose again from Lindley’s platoon, chanting more than singing.

“We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here-“

No matter how tired, they always had the strength to sing when the line was behind them and they were walking away. Deverel picked up the song and joined in, his voice dragging in others. Better there was some noise, something to pull in the wearier ones. The SM’s voice picked up the tune at the back, not musical but energetic.

“We’re here because we’re here because we’re here-“

Lindley’s lips were moving in time with the words but his face was strained. Cold air hurt his gas damaged lungs. Deverel had seen a slight frost cause him agony. The world was filled with grey: grey snow, the endless grey of uniforms, grey of misting, panting breath above the stumbling men. The song petered out and altered to another.

“I don’t want to be a soldier,
I don’t want to go to war,
I’d rather stay at home, around the streets to roam,
And live on the earnings of a well paid whore –“

For the fourth or fifth time in an hour, Deverel kicked the cob into a trot and circled his straggling company, talking to the men on the outside and doing what he could to encourage those limping. The SM was alternately coaxing and bullying two very young lads at the back. Cowan had one of Blake’s platoon by the arm, keeping him on his feet more or less by force. His eyes burned at Deverel through the snow.

“I don’t want a bayonet up my arsehole
I don’t want my bollocks shot away,
I’d rather stay in England ,
In merry merry England ,
And fornicate my bleeding life away.”

The camp had once been a farm. Deverel took one look at the snow weighted tents and raised Cain until the company was given two of the barns. They weren’t luxurious but they were warm and dry. Lindley left him arguing with the camp adjutant well within earshot of the men and at full blast. The adjutant was squirming and furious but the company was deriving a lot of innocent enjoyment. Several of them could mimic Dev rather well. Dickson and Lindley between them began foot inspections of three hundred cold, depressed and blistered men. A couple of the cooks were heating tea outside the door. There wasn’t much else that could be done. A bugle was playing the last post somewhere in the camp: a sound never heard in the front lines. Dickson and his own platoon sergeant Jenningsmet him in the doorway and Jennings gave him a shrewd look.

“You might as well go sir.”

Lindley didn’t argue. “See they get a decent meal.”

“Sir. Dennis’s foot is infected-“

“Yes.” Lindley said grimly. Jennings coughed.

“There’s an MO in the field, I wondered-“

“Yes, get him down there. And Robson, that splinter’s in a hell of a mess. Tell me what he says-“

He spun at the sound of a shout, in time to see Cowan on his feet, with his hands around the neck of some poor sod in his way. Deverel was already bellowing, half way across to them. Cam watched him shove the two apart, voice raised and furious. Lindley turned his back on them.

“Why is it always Cowan?”

Dickson followed him into the yard. “He's a hell of a fighter sir."

"He's a hell of a man to keep in public without a collar and lead." Cam said wryly. Dickson coughed.

"Are you allright sir? You look a bit green if you'll pardon me."

"I'll live." Lindley took a careful breath. "If there's anything else send a messenger up to the house."
Jennings turned back to the barn, raising his voice to a cheerful shout.

"Dennis and Robson! Up you come lads, Kitchener wants you!"

There was a groan as the men heard that phrase: a code around here for any unpleasant task in the offing.

"Hold lights out until the men have finished eating." Lindley said as a passing shot to Dickson. "Have you got somewhere decent to sleep?"

"Plenty of straw in the barns and no rats. We've had worse." Dickson's large hand clamped firmly on his elbow: the big, kindly face was concerned. "If you'll excuse me sir, I'll walk you back to the house. It's a bit dark up that way."

They heard the men strike up again behind them as they left, the company's private address to Dickson who would react with enough outrage to give them satisfaction. There wasn't much Dickson wouldn't do for them.

You've got a kind face you old bastard
You ought to be bloody well shot
You ought to be tied to a gunwheel
And left there to bloody well rot.

Deverel was talking to Jennings when Trent from Lindley's platoon came across the yard at a breathless run.

"Excuse me sir, but the SM says can you come up to the farmhouse right away, Mr Lindley's fainted."


Lindley was lying on an iron bedstead in the attic room he'd been allocated to share with Deverel, and Dickson had him partially stripped of his wet jacket and shirt.

"I've sent for the MO sir." He said deferentially as Deverel appeared. "We were half way across the yard and he just keeled over."

"Have you tried getting any spirits down him?" Deverel demanded. Dickson gave him a wry look.

"Nothing to give him sir. The men aren't carrying rum since we ran out on Tuesday. The camp NCO 's looking now."

Deverel leaned on the edge of the bed rail. Lindley's face was a ghastly grey green, and his lips were purpled. He was breathing, but not easily: his chest rattled every time it lifted. Deverel tore his eyes away with an effort and gave Dickson a brief nod.

"Allright Dickson, get back to them for God's sake or they'll have the barn down."

"They're too tired to be any trouble tonight sir."

"I know. Do what you can for the poor devils."

Dickson shut the door behind him. Deverel sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed Lindley's cheek until he dragged his eyes open. He was utterly exhausted: not the just the bone weariness they were used to but drained until it was an effort to move or speak.

"You bloody fool." Deverel said harshly.

He thought Lindley's eyes were faintly frightened, but Lindley only smiled faintly, reassuringly. "Only the cold."

"Be quiet."

Lindley's eyes shut again. He lay like a rag doll while Deverel stripped him of his wet clothes and covered him with blankets from both beds. Dickson had started a fire in the little grate and Deverel kicked it into action while he waited. The brief knock at the door heralded a middle aged man with the MO insignia on his uniform. He went to Lindley without ceremony, looked at his face and said not as a question, "Gas lungs."

"About two years ago. This has happened before."

"I don't doubt it."

Deverel hovered while the man made a cursory examination, during which Lindley barely stirred. The MO pulled the blankets away and grunted.

"Nothing of him."

"The gas mucked up his stomach, he doesn't eat much."

"This is exhaustion. He shouldn't be out here in the first place, I suppose you know that?"

"Could you get him sent down?" Deverel asked curtly. The MO shrugged.

"Not in enough of a mess. Couple of days' rest and he'll be on his feet. Tell his batman to get some food into him and let the poor devil sleep. By the way, was that one of your men I saw? Davis or Dennis or something? Foot infected. I shot him full of anti tetanus, but he'll be the one to be sent down if I'm not mistaken. Four toes gone, foot'll have to go too. You're lucky more men aren't affected knowing where you've come from. Knee deep in slush from what I heard."

"It was hip deep when we left."

"No wonder this fellow's on his back." The MO put the blankets back over Lindley and twitched them straight. "You'd better change or you'll be getting pneumonia yourself. You're all the same you young CCOs. Harassed out of all good sense."

"Thankyou for coming up." Deverel said shortly. The MO gave him a curious glance. Little more than a boy. Good looking, but twisted now into something sullen and hard. It was the hallmark of the very young officers out here, that sullenness: the child left in their prematurely aged faces. Faces like this passed weekly through the camp, intent on their men and their endless responsibilities. The MO was a good man but three years of war had made him cynical and he knew from experience there was nothing you could do for this brand of men. Most of them got themselves killed sooner or later. He shut the door quietly behind him and left the boy alone with his wheezing, frail lieutenant.


He had been beaten on the last night of the summer term by the seventeen year old captain of the house. The fact that the captain was also his brother had no bearing on the matter. At the time, thirteen and defiantly biting back the sting, Deverel felt no anger with Rob at all.

They were both in full cricket whites still, and the last of the afternoon sunshine streamed through Rob's study window and onto the table where Rob sat down, dropping the cane with a clatter. Deverel found himself looking up into the cat's eyes, always kind to a younger and inexplicably difficult younger brother. Rob gave him his usual half smile, without patronage.

"Allright. What was all that about?"

Deverel was still smarting too much to talk. Rob waited a minute, then got off the table and went to stand his kettle in the fireplace. He shared the study with their cousin- and Deverel had seen Freddie's face across the pitch that afternoon. He was well aware had he been the one handling the cane he would have been skinned alive. He gulped once or twice, still angry. For anyone but Rob, he would have refused to talk at all.

"It was a straight cheat! Devonbrook wasn't caught out, that beast of a wicket keeper fumbled it! We all SAW-"

Rob turned to give him his full attention and let him rant. When Deverel finally ran out of steam he said gently, "But the umpire made the decision."

"But it was wrong!"

"He was the man who had to decide and he gave his ruling. No, listen. What would happen if we played without an umpire? There'd be chaos. Fighting all over the pitch, we'd never get a game finished. Someone has to be appointed to be objective, that's the rule of any game. And the other rule is that in a game you play for the team, not yourself. And you play according to the decisions made by the umpire. He may have seen something you didn't-"

"I saw perfectly!"


He said it quietly. Knowing Freddie would have clipped his ear by now, Deverel closed his mouth. Rob sat back on the table and crossed his ankles, fair head down while he thought.

"Look. Suppose in this house the prefects didn't have any power. Suppose everyone just did what was they thought best on their own, without any common laws. What would happen?"

Deverel nearly smiled. "It would be glorious."

Rob did smile. "In some ways. But think about it. Some people would get their way more than others. You could get a lot of the kids to do what you thought was right because you're lively and people listen to you. Freddie and I could force the kids to do what we wanted because we're bigger. What about people like Corrigan? Remember last term when he was bullying those three in the lower second? He thought that was right. If the prefects only did what they personally thought was right, they might not have made him stop. There have to be common rules aspiring to do objectively what is RIGHT, and if people don't aspire then they have to be made to do it anyway. Someone has to give orders, and there has to be a system where everyone agrees to follow them. And if they don't, like Corrigan, they can be made to because the system's against them. That beast had a go at you, didn't he?"

"Did you really make his nose bleed?"

Rob winced. "Never mind that. Do you see what I mean? It's got to be the way we do things. It's the civilised way. We can't have a free fight in the middle of a match because one kid is giving one ruling and the Umpire another. That's animal law, the strongest wins the fight. It's not OUR way. Do you see?"

"Yes." Deverel said unwillingly. Rob had dispelled both temper and defences: the cat eyes were sympathetic but still grave above him, which reproached far more than any of Freddie's strictures could have done.

"Something else Daig. I've seen it before. You play an awfully selfish game. It's as if you don't see other people on the field with you. It's not a personal battle, you've got to see yourself as a cog in the machine, your job is to help the machine go."

Deverel felt himself flushing a miserable scarlet. Rob tousled his hair, far far darker than his own.

"Allright old man, we'll leave it there. Sit down, you'd better tea in here until the house has time to forget about you. Can you sit down?"

Gingerly. Rob was not heavily built and never aggressive, but he could whack allright out of sheer, sober duty and it hurt. He passed a mug of tea and tossed a packet of biscuits into Deverel's lap.

"There. Not much, but it is the end of term."


The warmth of the shabby, battered study faded into the sharp cold of the darkened farmyard.

There were six inches of snow on the ground, but the brittle air was calming and the need for escape drove him out of the gate and into the openness of the field beyond. Deverel made himself pause there, stood, and lit a damp cigarette. The field was pitch black. Deverel breathed smoke and let the silence fill him. Snow squeaked under his boots and numbed his feet. The smoke shone in front of his eyes, recreating his brother's face as it was the last time Deverel had seen him. Cold, thin, hands deep in the pockets of his greatcoat at the station where they'd managed to meet for an hour a few months ago. The smoke created the same gentle reproach he'd seen in that study seven years ago, it wasn't hard to hear Rob's voice to go with it.

"What was that wire stunt all about, Daig? You've got a duty to do here, what you want doesn't matter. You're a cog in the machine, your job is to help the machine go. You play an awfully selfish game you know?"

The cigarette died. Deverel turned his back on the shining smoke and lit a second, knowing he was stalling for time. In the daylight it was Cam in that room, whom he loved. But in the dark- he couldn't go back to lie beside that dry, wheezing corpse. And too many other thoughts crowding around his mind. Too many other shames.

The sound made him spin. It was too dark to see but he spun, lifting the revolver flap and drawing the cold solidity of his gun.

"Who goes there?"


Another second and the height became distinguishable in the darkness. Deverel swore and holstered the revolver.

"It's the middle of the night, how the hell did you get out of the barn?"

"Sentry was asleep."

Cowan came closer until Deverel could see his outline, then suddenly his face. Disapproving.

"What are you doing out? You were that bloody knackered."

Deverel blew out smoke at him, saying sharply: "You could be charged for leaving the barn. What the hell are YOU doing out here?"


"Pull the other one."

"I followed you you daft sod. It's pitch black and there's a foot of bloody snow. Sir."


A few soggy flakes began to fall again.

"You're wet through."  Cowan's hand gripped his arm. "Bloody soaking. There's a stable over there, other side of the yard, come on now."

Deverel gave him a long, measuring look, well aware of what Cowan was suggesting. And well aware too that he could pretend ignorance of the hints, simply order the man away and this would end on the spot. Probably.

Instead, he shook off Cowan's hand but led him towards the sheds. The few flakes were becoming a steady swirl by the time they reached the door, and Cowan leaned past him to wrench it open. It was dark, smelled faintly mildewed, but as the heavy door shut and the wind was cut off, it was definitely warmer.

Cowan dug him in the ribs.

"Ladder to your right. There's a loft up there. Safer."

Deverel didn't question for what. He hauled himself up and sat against one of the sacks piled across the loft. Cowan pulled himself up through the hatch and shut it, pulling a sack across the opening to weight it.

"Damn sight warmer up here. You're wet through, ain't you?"

"No worse than you."

"You told the sergeants to get us near fires as soon as we came in, I've been dry for bloody hours."

"Had to watch Lindley."

"Yeah, well he shouldn't be out here." Cowan pulled his jacket off, felt his shirt, then tapped his shoulder, not very gently. "Get out of that. Where's your greatcoat you silly bugger?"

Deverel pulled his shirt over his head and watched him wring it out, no more than a shape in the darkness.

"More likely to freeze solid than dry. Your jacket'll dry allright. You ought to be by a fire."

"So should you." Deverel said pointedly. "In the barn."

Cowan's accent roughened with exasperation. "Get that on."

It was his greatcoat. Rough but dry, and warm from his body. Deverel huddled into it and burrowed deeper into the sacks. He heard the flick of fabric, then Cowan sat down beside him.

"Lindley allright?"

"Looks like a corpse." Deverel said flatly.

"Poor bugger looks like a walking skeleton at his best."

"He was gassed about two years back. Christ knows who passed him fit, he should never have been sent back here."

"You're perished, aren't you? Come here."

Without any particular emotion, Deverel took the offer he was making and leaned against him, under the arm Cowan wrapped around his shoulders. They pushed together for warmth. The cold was purifying, air that was entirely fresh after weeks of the stench of mud and death. The darkness was filled with the rustle of sacks and male strength against strength. Hard muscle, clean sweat. Deverel leaned against him, too tired for anything except brute, uncomplicated lust. Cowan had manoeuvred him openly and quite unashamedly, knew exactly what he wanted, and as far as Deverel was concerned he could have it with pleasure. This was a clean place, somewhere untainted, and Cowan was- Deverel couldn't see him, but turned and pushed a hand through his hair. Soft. Short cropped. Powerful shoulders, a broad chest. Cowan grunted as he shifted to get comfortable, then his hands slid underneath the greatcoat and down Deverel's bare back. Callouses scratched but his fingers were startlingly gentle. The heat in Deverel's belly flicked on like a lit gas jet, exploding from numbness. Cowan held onto his hips, rolled suddenly and put him on his back. They were neither of them clean shaven. Cowan's jaw rasped against his, Deverel could only feel, not see him, but knew Cowan waited above him, hesitating. Deverel pulled his head down. His mouth was alarmingly hot despite the snow.

They were too urgent for it to take long. Deverel got Cowan's buttons open and got hold of him. Cowan's hands slid underneath him and down, kneading, pulling. He broke first, and in his gasping his hands tightened hard enough to push Cowan over the brink. Deverel bit his shoulder to stifle himself and shut his eyes until the waves passed. Cowan subsided heavily on top of him. It was too cold to become sleepy. They lay for some time, then Deverel felt his hand stroking, and turned his head. No emotion, just exhaustion.

"What's your name?"


The grasp was slowly becoming more insistent. "You're a D name. I've seen it on papers."


"What the hell's that when it's at home?"

"Irish. My mother reads too much." Deverel twisted, gasping. "Where do you come from Alick?"

" North York coast."

"Your battalion came from the Somme , didn't they?"

"Aye." Cowan dropped his hands and rolled onto his back, still panting. "Three weeks training and dropped right into that bloody fiasco."

"I saw the end of it."

"Didn't start any better. Slaughter. No, murder. Joe Soap's bloody army. Eighty men out of my whole bloody battalion came home out of that."

"Fifteen of ours." Deverel shut his eyes before he could think of the field. Too much smoke to tell the weather, or even day from night.

"When we came up here all we did for weeks was dig graves."

"And you dug most of them because of some sod who's never been near the front or stood under fire in his life, gave orders fifteen miles away with his map upside down." Cowan said shortly. "How old were you when you came out here?"


"Underage?" Cowan gave him a brief, unsurprised look. "My dad would have leathered the backside off me. And they gave you a platoon at seventeen? Fifty men to practice on? I grew up in a fishing fleet town, back there you KNOW- every man dead means a family struggling to cover his pay."

"You're a born politician." Deverel said wryly. Cowan grimaced and rolled back over him.

"I've got a lousy temper. I told you. Gets away from me."

"I know. Where ever you are there's a fight going on." Deverel dug his hands in his ribs. "Move over, you're squashing me."

"Won't be all I do to you." Cowan threatened. He was shocked and delighted to hear Deverel laugh and the change in his voice, a sudden lift to a boy's tone from his usual grimness.

"LOOK, I hit back you know- no boys on burning decks for me."

"Eh?" Cowan said, pausing to look at him. Deverel wriggled to get comfortable under his weight.

"Casabianca? The boy stood on the burning deck when all about had fled- It was shoved down our throats at school. The kid's father ordered him to wait on deck and he burned to death rather than disobey."

"Bloody stupid." Cowan said shortly.

"British courage."

Cowan snorted. "It a kid of mine stood anywhere near a fire I'd clout him for being a bloody idiot.  Besides, if you're talking about the kind of courage that makes you get up and under the wire alone then I call it stupidity."

Deverel's voice was nearly inaudible. "But he faced the fire rather than break his word?"

"Would his father have wanted him to burn?"

"That's not the point-"

"No wonder all the bloody Generals are cockeyed if that's how they train you lot." Cowan found his hair and tousled it roughly. Deverel pushed his hand away, voice thoughtful.

"I don't know if you're a pragmatist or a bolsheveik."

"No. Just an uneducated sod who thinks you deserved a good hiding for getting up and under that wire, not the pat on the back Hayes gave you." Cowan said bluntly. .

Deverel swallowed on that, oddly comforted by the forthrightness and the twist of perspective.

"Sometimes you have to break rules."

"Rules had nowt to do with it. If you were mine-"

"Lucky I'm not, isn't it?" Deverel said acidly. "Stop messing about."

"And do what?"

"Fuck me for Godsakes, it's too cold for polite conversation."

There was enough light by four o clock for Deverel to fumble for his watch. Cowan tipped his hand to see the dial.

"Hours yet. Go back to sleep."

"I've seen the schedules for today."

"Oh aye?"

"Drills. Inspections."

"Bugger." Cowan collapsed onto his back and stared at the tin roof above them. "In this much snow?"

"Oh yes." Deverel sat up to wind his watch. Cowan stroked his back. It was the sort of tenderness Deverel only knew in Lindley and it didn't fit Cowan's size, nor the harshness of his voice and face. Now they were moving back towards the reality of morning he was no longer entirely comfortable with Cowan or their situation.

"You going back to Lindley?" Cowan asked. That too held genuine concern. Deverel tugged his shirt straight and buttoned it.

"Yes. You'd better be in the barns and looking innocent when the sergeants start counting."

"I'll get back in somehow." Cowan's arm hooked around his waist and pulled him down. Deverel returned the kiss, brief and hard. They dressed in silence. Deverel hovered as Cowan climbed the ladder down to the ground, unsure what to say to him. Cowan caught his eye and gave him a faint smile.

"You'll have the SM complaining to you about suspicious footprints around this shed."

Deverel didn't smile. "You know this mustn't happen again? It shouldn't have happened at all."

"Aye." Cowan agreed easily. He pulled his jacket on and stopped to touch Deverel's face. "Come on lad, frame yerself."

He needed a shave. Deverel touched the rough jaw above him.

"I'd better get you past the sentries."

"I'll get by. They're used to me as a bit of a lone wolf."

"Yes. You're always hovering around me. "

"Now you know why." Cowan said simply. Deverel frowned at him and the hawked face cracked into a smile.

"God you're such a kid. Come here."

He tugged Deverel off balance into a crushing hug, more than genuine and beyond the boundaries of sex. Deverel pulled free, confused.

"Now look-"

"Now you look." Cowan held onto his hand. "Don't you start torturing yourself, we've all got to stay sane in this place and we do what we have to. Take what we bloody need, no guilt about it either. None of Lindley's boyfriends bother him in the line, no need for anyone to know anything that's not to do with them."

" Cam wouldn't!" Deverel said, scandalised. Cowan shook his head, somewhere between amusement and exasperation.

"Of course he bloody does, and he's not the only one. Get yourself out of here before you're seen, and work on staying dry."

He resisted the urge to laugh at the boy's bewildered fury and gave him a gentle push towards the door. Half way there Deverel wrenched his head down and kissed him hard enough to bruise. Then he was gone, like a cat over the snow.

Continue on to Part 4 of Fleur de Lys

Copyright Ranger 2010

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