Chapter Eight

Clearing out the boat took the best part of an hour, and after Smutty had finished it looked like he’d set up a junk yard on the side of the canal. He sighed at the assorted detritus Grouch had lumbered him with, trying to see the potential in the assorted hunks of broken machinery and warped lengths of timber. Ballast and fuel was about the best his mind could stretch to. Maybe an artist would do better, seeing the broken bits and pieces as the component parts of a sculpture. But Smutty was a gardener. And now he had a garden to look after.

He set off up to the house with a spring in his step. The grass in the orchard was still wet with dew and his trousers ended up soaked from the knees down, but it was another beautiful morning so who gave a monkeys about wet legs? It was definitely time to look for a scythe in Giles’ tool shed, though. That would be his first job of the day.

Right after checking in on Giles.

Smutty tried the kitchen door and it opened, just as Giles had promised. He called out, but the house was too still, too full of echoes to contain another living being. He experienced a brief twinge of disappointment at seeing the note on the kitchen table, weighed down with a bottle of bleach, but shrugged it off again. It was sweet of Giles to think of him.

The paper was thick and probably cost a bomb, but Giles’ handwriting was surprisingly sloppy considering how uptight the man could be. Smutty paused for a moment before reading, wondering if Starlight would claim to be able to read something significant in the chaotic spikes and loops.

I have to run some errands. Feel free to borrow any cleaning equipment you need. You’ll find it all either under the sink or in the walk-in cupboard next to the fridge. The shower’s upstairs if you need it. See you later. G.

PS – Thanks for last night.

There was another line crossed out after the last sentence, but try as he might, Smutty couldn’t decipher it. He smiled to himself as he tucked the note into his pocket and looked around the spacious kitchen. So he’d been given free access to the house? Well, the cleaning cupboards and the shower, anyway. Maybe Giles simply wanted him to scrub up—him and his dirty old boat. He’d noticed Giles’ lip curl with disgust when looking around Freya. No wonder, really, when you saw the squeaky clean conditions the bloke lived in. You could probably eat your dinner off those flagstones—not that he’d want to. The heavy oak table and chairs looked an awful lot more comfortable. Sturdy enough for all kinds of recreational activities, no doubt. He wondered if Giles and that racist ex of his had ever put them through their paces, or if they still needed christening. Maybe they could do it later.

Shaking the fantasy out of his head and smiling, Smutty began looking through Giles’ kitchen for the things he needed. There was no call for harsh chemicals if he could locate some vinegar, lemons and baking soda. Cleaning first, then gardening, then a shower, then Giles would be back and they could look into that kitchen table option a little more seriously.

Smutty sang to himself as set about his chores.

***

The sun was high by the time Smutty finished the pathway. It meandered through the overgrown lawn, cutting a swathe through the lush grass all the way from the back of the house to the canal. He rested the scythe against one of the apple trees and watched as a tiny blue butterfly danced among the wildflowers. The longer Giles left this as meadow, the more diverse the species would become. Smutty wondered what his chances were of persuading Giles to give his lawn over to the wild, or if his next command would be for Smutty to mow the whole lot down into golf-course blandness. The man clearly didn’t realise what he had here. Smutty calculated there were close on two acres of grounds with a varied mix of habitats, including a spectacular yet completely neglected old walled kitchen garden, the companion to the rose garden they’d buried the bird in. He headed back that way, drawn to the space despite knowing it would never be his.

The gate creaked and scraped over the old paving stones, but once he was inside it was like stepping back a hundred years. Blooming fruit trees were trained against the walls, but the beds below were a riot of weeds and the more tenacious perennial herbs and vegatables. Triffid-like rhubarbs and giant clumps of mint jostled for space with brambles and nettles. The Victorian glasshouse built against the south facing wall was grimy with decades of accumulated filth, yet only a couple of panes were cracked and he could see it wouldn’t take much more than a concerted cleaning to get it back in use. Smutty wandered through the raised beds on his way over, mentally filling them with herbs, climbing peas and beans, golden squashes and fragrant strawberries. You could grow enough fruit and veg here to keep a large family well fed, let alone a single man. Or a couple. But there wasn’t any point in thinking that way. He had a few weeks here, tops, then he’d have to move on. Keep up his travels, never stopping to rest in one place for long enough to get attached. It was better that way. Less painful when the time came to leave.

The glasshouse door was locked, but the key was under an upturned flowerpot next to the rusty bootscraper that kept guard. After wrestling with the lock for a long minute and making a mental note to bring his can of WD-40 next time, the ancient mechanism gave way and Smutty entered the humid heat.

A laugh escaped him, and he drew in a deep lungful of warm air, scented with rich earth. The first room was lined with staging, piled high with terracotta pots. Motes of dust swirled in the shafts of green tinged sunlight that penetrated the dirty glass. He looked up to the roof, admiring the ornate cast iron mechanism for raising the lights. That would probably need a good squirt of lubricant as well, but imagine what you could do with the place! Smutty’s memory conjured up the heady scent of tomatoes ripening in the sun. It would smell like home.

Home was in his mind when he heard the door open behind him, and the joy of it transfused him as he turned to face Giles. And maybe it was contagious, because something like joy flitted over Giles’ face, before being subsumed by naked hunger.

“This place is amazing,” Smutty said, thrilled at the way Giles’ eyes grew so dark they seemed to absorb the light in the room. He watched, mesmerised, as Giles stalked towards him. “Do you even realise what you have here?”

“What do I have?” Giles stopped scant inches from Smutty’s body, and all of a sudden the heat was stifling.

Smutty took a step back lest he lose his train of thought. He’d never been one for formal wear, but the cut of the dark suit made Giles’ body look even more powerful, like a wild beast had been sedated just enough to get it dressed, but was threatening to wake up at any moment. The shirt didn’t help either, the blue reflecting up and turning Giles’ eyes the colour of a stormy ocean.

But no, he’d been thinking about practical things, not dreamy nonsense. “You have the means to cut yourself free from supermarket tyranny. You could grow absolutely all your fruit and veg in this garden, and it would all taste amazing. None of those bland waterbombs they try and pass off as tomatoes – you can get them in all sorts of shapes and colours, smelling like ripe peaches. Tangy and piquant and downright delicious. Come to that, in a greenhouse like this you could even grow your own peaches. There’s this shit-hot variety that… What?” Giles was giving him the strangest look—bemused affection with a strand of longing running through it. That joy was back again. No one had ever looked at Smutty in that way before, and for some reason it halted his rush of words and heated his face. Smutty definitely wasn’t a blusher, so it must just be the extreme humidity of the greenhouse. He tried to lighten the atmosphere. “You’re looking at me all weird. Have I got something stuck between my teeth or what?”

Giles stepped closer again, and Smutty felt the wooden lip of the staging against his arse as he tried to escape the proximity.

“Your teeth look just fine,” Giles said in a low rumble that shivered through Smutty’s flesh. “You look great.” Giles reached out to cup Smutty’s jaw and ran a thumb over his cheekbone.

Bloody hell, Smutty could feel a half-hard length pressing into his hip as Giles closed the distance between them, then began to nuzzle into his neck. “I didn’t get a chance to have that shower yet, you know. Well, you can probably smell that, seeing as how you’re—fuck!” Smutty yelped at the sensation of Giles’ tongue in his ear, but once the shock passed, warm liquid pleasure rose to take its place. He eased his elbows back onto the wooden boards behind him, parted his legs and tilted his head to allow Giles access. Giles followed with grinding hips and a ravenous mouth sucking down on his pulse point. “Shit, that’s good. Feeling hungry were you?”

“I skipped lunch,” Giles mumbled against his skin, the rasp of his five-o-clock shadow almost distracting Smutty from his words.

“Me too. Gods, I’m famished.” Smutty’s stomach gave a well-timed rumble, and he began to chuckle, but the laughter was swallowed up by Giles dropping to his knees and mouthing the outline of Smutty’s hard-on through the threadbare denim. “Mmmm, but you can’t lunch on me. Remember the rules?” If only he’d thought to go searching for condoms up in the house earlier… Unless Giles had some on him?

But it was becoming increasingly challenging for Smutty to hold a coherent thought together, what with Giles ripping his fly open, tugging down his jeans and grasping hold of his cock. When he felt the heat of Giles’ mouth like a brand against his shaft, he stayed him with a hand. “You have to pull off when I’m close, yeah?”

“Of course,” Giles said with a frown that Smutty wanted to wipe away. “I won’t do anything you don’t want, I promise.”

“Okay. Cool.” The tension eased out of Smutty’s shoulders and he leant back on his elbows again, content to let Giles explore.

And explore Giles did, running a hot tongue up and down Smutty’s prick, teasing with kisses and light nips. When Giles’ hand eased from his hips and cupped his balls, Smutty let his head fall back and a groan escaped him. He wanted to watch every moment, but the effect of Giles’ touch was overwhelming. Instead he watched patterns pulse behind his eyelids to the rhythm of his pounding heart. But then he felt Giles’ other hand wrap tight around the base of his cock, slick heat enveloping the head, and his eyes sprang open.

There Giles was, kneeling on the filthy floor in a pristine suit, sweat beading at his temples, and looking like he was desperately trying to cram as much of Smutty into his mouth as possible. When Giles’ stretched lips met his hand Smutty saw him struggle not to gag, but he drew back and valiantly made another attempt, loosening his grip on Smutty’s cock to just a tight ring of thumb and forefinger.

Smutty grinned when it quickly became apparent Giles couldn’t deep-throat. It was fun watching him try, and he’d definitely give the bloke marks for effort. Those blue eyes were watering and the grunts of frustration charmed him—he’d never had a guy want to fit him all in that badly. But who cared whether or not Giles could suck him deep, when there was that glorious pressure, that pumping hand, and most of all, the sight of Giles staring up at him with an unfathomable expression?

It was that gaze that did for him in the end. That and a well-timed squeeze to his nuts that burst ripe pleasure inside him, sent it shooting down his nerves and blossoming all over his body.

“Fuck! That’s it, enough!” Smutty had to grasp Giles’ head in the end to get his attention. “Gonna come.”

His spunk arced out as Giles continued to pump his cock. Plumes of white splashing against the flagstones and rapidly turning into dark stains on the dust. Smutty threw his head back again as starbursts exploded across his closed lids. He gasped for air in the stuffy heat, hips stuttering as the aftershocks reverberated through him.

And then Giles tucked him back in his jeans and fastened them again, before rising to his feet.

Aware of a need to reciprocate, but wilting in the heat, Smutty started to sink to his knees. His stomach rumbled again, like thunder in the hushed glasshouse.

Giles hoisted him up again. “I’ll be fine. Let’s eat first. You’ve been working hard today. Need to keep your strength up.”

Gods, he sounded like a mother hen. Smutty grinned. “Got something in mind I might need my strength for, then? ‘Cause I’ve gotta tell you, that kitchen table of yours looks like it’s good for more than eating off. Not sure how well I’ll be able to concentrate on the food, thinking about you doing me there.”

Giles flushed a fetching shade of tomato, took hold of his hand, and pulled Smutty towards the glasshouse door.

***

Chapter Nine

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