//I, the true Giovanni Jacopo Casanova, wish to set the record straight, though I doubt this will ever be made public. Still, I trust that my family will keep this safe so that some may know the story of how I truly and deeply fell in love.//
Daniel’s eyes lit with excitement as he translated the old document. This was an incredible find! An old uncle of Jack’s had recently died and left it to the colonel in his will. Jack had given the document to Daniel to translate, which the linguist had happily agreed to. He was very glad he had - this was truly amazing!
Pen at the ready, Daniel continued to read.
//Venice, 1754 - Giovanni, or Jack as he was known to his closest friends, watched the latest potential bride leave, her anger visible even from this distance. When he had married, he had bought an estate on the edge of Venice so that any children he had could run free without fear of falling into one of the many canals that made the city famous, so Carlina was actually walking, not travelling in a gondola. Turning away from the window, Jack jiggled the three-month-old baby in his arms. “I think she’s a little upset,” he understated to his son.
Vanni just looked back at him with big brown eyes and waved one chubby hand in the air.
“Yes, wave bye-bye to the nasty woman,” Jack agreed. Carlina had been the latest in a long line of women - many of whom were previous conquests - who thought that poor Casanova needed a new wife to look after his poor motherless bambino. That reason, Jack figured with dread, was overshadowed by the one that meant that the woman who snagged him would have bragging rights forever more. ‘I brought Casanova to his knees’ would take on an entirely new meaning, and Jack cringed at the thought. It was already bad enough with gossip of how many women he had bedded during the past year - the number had grown exponentially in those stories until Jack wondered how he’d had the time to eat or sleep - and the current one where he had murdered his wife. That one bothered him most of all; Vittoria had been a lovely woman and despite the fact that he had cheated on her many times, Jack had never wished her ill. Fortunately, the doctor who had attended Vanni’s birth had nipped that rumour in the bud quickly, but some damage had already been done. Too bad it didn’t put off the potential brides though.
Vittoria hadn’t been the woman he had originally wanted to marry, although she certainly had been pretty enough. Four years ago, when he was a young and impressionable twenty-four years of age, he had met Henriette, a Frenchwoman, and he had fallen deeply in love with her. However, she had left him after a brief affair and Jack’s heart had been scarred by the action.
“Never trust a woman,” Jack confided to his son. “They either want a rich and famous husband or they lay terrible traps just to try and trap some poor, unsuspecting man.” With his vast experience with the fairer sex, he would share his wisdom with Vanni when the boy was older. “Well, shall we go for a walk, little one? See if we can find someone to share my bed tonight?”
Vanni gurgled in apparent agreement, making the man holding him smile. “You’re going to take after your father, aren’t you?” Jack said with pride. “Just... try not to bed any of your sisters, okay?” Jack didn’t know how many children he had fathered illegitimately but there was sure to be a few.
They dressed warmly, Jack wearing his trademark long black cape, and then headed outdoors. They were limited as to where they could walk to as Jack didn’t want to take Vanni in a gondola while he was still a baby; the little tyke was notoriously slippery. So they just meandered around the city, admiring the scenery, with Jack stopping occasionally to chat up a few women that he saw.
When they came to a marketplace just outside the Biblioteca, Jack spotted a woman with golden hair that was tied tightly back from her face. Intrigued, as that style was not fashionable in Venice at this time, Jack moved closer until he could hear her voice. The woman was mangling Italian terribly but her voice was melodious and Jack was entranced. This was the woman he would take home tonight. “May I be of some assistance?” he offered in his native tongue.
The woman frowned as she mentally translated the words, then haltingly replied, “I wish to buy some...” She broke off, muttering in English before gesturing to the stall in front of her.
Jack looked at it and then back at her. “Material? You wish to buy some material?”
“Yes, material,” she echoed, a relieved smile appearing on her face. “Grazie.”
Lovely blue eyes looked at him with gratitude and Jack found his body reacting. It would be a pleasure to teach this woman about the joys of loving. “You are welcome. I am Jacopo Casanova. And you are?”
“Samantha Huntingdon-Smythe.” Blue eyes sparkled as she held out her hand to be kissed.
Jack obliged with a sensuous smile. Oh yes, he was going to enjoy her. “Perhaps after purchasing your material, you would allow me to show you around my fair city?”
“I would like that but I must wait for my brother,” Samantha replied. “He is visiting your library and then we are supposed to visit the university.”
A woman studying at the UniversitÓ? Jack knew that such a thing was frowned upon. “Are you a scholar, Signorina?”
“Less so than if the old beliefs that a woman cannot be intelligent were overturned,” she replied, fire now in her eyes and bitterness in her voice. “Still, I study what I can and my brother assists me as well as being a scholar in his own right.”
“What area do you study?” Jack asked curiously as he shifted Vanni to a more comfortable position.
“Physics,” Samantha replied, becoming distracted by the baby. “Hello there,” she said in the language Jack couldn’t understand, “what’s your name?” When no answer was forthcoming, she repeated her question in Italian.
“Giovanni,” Jack answered proudly; his son drew many admirers, most of them welcome.
“He’s adorable,” Samantha praised just as someone called out her name. She turned her head and smiled at the young man who was striding towards her. “Did you get my books?”
“Yes. Who is this?” the young man inquired as he approached the group, eyeing Jack suspiciously.
“Jacopo Casanova and his son, Giovanni. Jacopo, this is my brother Daniel,” Samantha introduced the two men.
Jack forgot how to breathe as he stared into the bluest pair of eyes he had ever seen, that were framed by long lashes almost obscured behind a pair of spectacles. After a few seconds, he remembered to breathe again, aware that the young man was staring curiously at him. Jack’s innate manners kicked in and he bowed his head, stating, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Daniel.”
“Likewise, I’m sure,” Daniel dryly. He could sense that this fellow Casanova was a charmer like many of the Venetian men he had met so far, and was immediately on alert; he would not let this man take advantage of Sam - or himself. Several men had tried to approach him so far during his short stay, all wanting to share pleasure with him, and he had rejected them, his refusals as blunt as the proposals. He turned to his sister, unable to look at the man any longer because doing so was making him feel... strange. “Are you ready to go?”
“I just need to buy some material,” Sam stated in English, showing her brother which brocade she wanted.
Jack listened in amazement as Daniel bargained fluently with the stallholder to secure the material for a price Jack was not sure even he could have obtained. There was definitely something about Daniel that warranted further investigation. “I would be pleased to accompany you to the UniversitÓ.”
“No, thank you, I’m sure we’ll be able to find it,” Daniel smoothly refused; he didn’t like Casanova. “Good day, Signore. Sam, let’s go.”
Sam smiled sweetly at Casanova and shrugged her shoulders. “Good day.”
Jack bowed his head in response and waited until he was sure they were gone before lifting it, a sly look on his face. “The Huntingdon-Smythes definitely need looking into, don’t they, Vanni?” He had never had that reaction to a man before and he was curious as to why.
Meanwhile, further down the street, Daniel pulled Sam along with his free hand, eager to get away from the man who had made his body tingle with just a look. He couldn’t explain his reaction and that scared him. “What did you think you were doing?” he hissed at his sister in English.
“Just talking,” Sam defended herself. “He offered his assistance at the stall.” Really, sometimes Daniel was so overprotective!
“Yeah, I bet.” Daniel had been charged with protecting Sam’s honour on this trip and he wasn’t going to fail his father. At twenty-four, he was the elder by two years, although Sam often seemed to think it was the other way around, and they were both of marriageable age. Sam, in fact, should have been married years ago but she was extremely fussy, saying that she wanted a husband who wouldn’t be afraid of her intelligence, and thus was the despair of Jacob, their father. “You’re not supposed to talk to strange men,” he continued as they negotiated the narrow streets.
“He wasn’t strange, he was nice,” Sam argued, mentally rolling her eyes; she knew all about her brother’s protective streak. “Besides, he had his son with him so he wasn’t likely to be whisking me off somewhere to seduce me.” Although she kind of liked the idea of the seduction bit.
“Sam, all Venetian men are not to be trusted, whether they have children with them or not,” Daniel refused to back down. He might be known amongst his peers as hopelessly na´ve and unobservant but he had seen how the men, young and old, had been looking at Sam with her golden hair. He had, however, missed how they had looked at him unless they had approached him.
“You worry too much,” Sam dismissed his concerns. “I can take care of myself.” And she could too, better than Daniel, in fact.
“That’s what I’m worried about,” Daniel muttered, his words lost in the crowd. He had been given warnings before he had come about the volatile emotions of the southern European men, and he hated to think what they might do if Sam spurned their advances. So far, his own refusals had been met with politeness, which Daniel considered very fortunate.
Their conversation halted then for they had arrived at the UniversitÓ. Women in Venice were discouraged from attending the place of learning but they were permitted to visit, as were foreigners. Sam was really there to attend a lecture on physics which Daniel would translate for her, but she needed to keep up the appearance of just visiting with her brother.
Daniel was glad of the distraction. Concentrating solely on translating the scientific terms for Sam, he was able to put all thoughts of Casanova out of his mind for a couple of hours. Afterwards, however, the man’s handsome visage kept popping into his mind: the deep brown eyes, and the dark blonde hair that hinted at an outside heritage.
“You seem distracted,” Sam commented as they took a gondola back to their hotel.
“Just thinking about the history of this place,” Daniel lied; he hadn’t been taking any notice even though he loved that kind of thing. “It’s simply breathtaking, and the engineering that was used to build a city of canals...” Daniel trailed off when he saw that Sam wasn’t really interested.
“It’s incredible,” she agreed. “But that’s not what’s you were thinking about,” she stated, knowing her brother well. “Is it that Casanova fellow?”
“Casanova?” the gondolier echoed, having understood that word.
Daniel leaned forward with interest. “Do you know him?” he asked in Italian.
The gondolier, who was a man of about forty years, nodded. “He is reputed to have bedded every woman of marriageable age in Venice, including the nuns. The Inquisition has often tried to arrest him but no-one could find enough evidence and the women will not testify.”
That was even worse than he had thought. “Is he married?” Daniel inquired, wanting to know if the baby had been Casanova’s.
“Widowed,” the man replied as he steadily steered the gondola through the canal. “Three months back. Mind you, he had been cheating on her since their marriage. If I were you, I wouldn’t let your lady anywhere near him,” he advised, nodding towards Sam.
“I won’t,” Daniel assured the man before switching back to English. “How much of that did you understand?” he asked his sister.
“Okay, you were right,” Sam conceded, having understood enough. “But I still think he seemed nice.” And she was sticking by that opinion.
“Of course he seemed nice, Sam, that’s how he charms women,” Daniel pointed out. That, and Casanova’s good looks, he had to admit. “I will not let you become another conquest.”
She grinned at him, not the least bit concerned. “You sound like Father,” Sam commented, hoping to get a rise out of him.
“Sam!” The last thing he wanted was to turn out like their military father, even if he did love him. But Daniel preferred peaceful resolution and hated events like fox hunts with a passion.
“Did you notice how Casanova stared at you?” Sam changed the subject away from her. “Maybe I’m not the one you should be worried about,” she teased.
Daniel frowned as the gondola stopped at the entrance to their hotel. “Don’t be absurd. He likes women.”
“He couldn’t take his eyes off you,” Sam continued, accepting her brother’s help to step out onto the small landing. She knew her brother was handsome - beautiful even - with delicate features inherited from their late mother Claire, and bluer eyes than herself. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how one looked at it, Daniel didn’t realise how attractive he was. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect your virtue.”
Daniel shook his head as Sam preceded him into the hotel; his sister had a strange sense of humour.
Watching from a discreet distance was Jack. After taking Vanni home, he had asked around the popular hotels until he had found where the Huntingdon-Smythes were staying, and then he had waited around, wanting one more glimpse of the intriguing siblings. From this distance, he couldn’t make out too many details though. Samantha’s golden-blonde tresses stood out more than Daniel’s light-brown hair but it was the latter to whom his eyes remained fixed upon. The current fashion in Venice was for men to wear their hair long, especially if they were noblemen, but Daniel - a visitor in their midst - had his shorter so that there was barely any to tie back. Was that the style where they came from, Jack wondered, or did Daniel not follow the fashions? The young man’s simple style of clothing suggested the latter. Very intriguing indeed.
When the siblings disappeared from view, Jack left his hiding place and headed for home, deep in thought. He had some planning to do.
The next morning, a hand-delivered letter arrived at the Royal Hotel for Signore and Signorina Huntingdon-Smythe. Daniel accepted it with some puzzlement; they didn’t know anyone here except for an old professor of his, and Daniel didn’t think the old man was one to send invitations.
“Who is it from?” Sam asked, coming to look over her brother’s shoulder. She had left her hair down this morning as she had seen the Venetian women do.
Daniel put his spectacles on and then opened the letter. “It’s an invitation from Casanova,” he read, his heart speeding up for some reason. “He wants us to come for supper tonight.”
“Oh, how lovely.” Sam thought that was a wonderful idea, and it would be a good opportunity to flirt with the philanderer.
“No, it isn’t. We’re not going,” Daniel decided, stuffing the letter back in its envelope. He looked around for a quill and paper to compose a reply.
“Why not?” Sam wanted to know. “Daniel?” she persisted when no answer was forthcoming.
“We are not going to dine with someone like Casanova,” Daniel stated, finding the writing implements and sitting down to compose an abrupt but polite reply.
A sly smile appeared on Sam’s face; that might be what Daniel thought but she had other ideas.
The two of them stepped out of the hotel half an hour later and literally ran into Casanova, who had been waiting for them to make an appearance.
“Buen guerno,” Jack said, bowing politely to the siblings. “It is a beautiful day for seeing the city, is it not?” Samantha, he noted, looked quite stunning with her hair down but Daniel, with his plain clothes and serious expression, was the one who caught Jack’s eye.
“I’m sure it is but we have things to do,” Daniel refused for them both. The strangeness he had felt around Casanova yesterday had returned and the only way he knew how to deal with it was to get as far away as possible.
“Does the Signorina wish to visit the UniversitÓ again when there are far more delightful things that Venice has to offer?” Jack questioned with an innocent face.
Daniel’s eyes narrowed; not on his life. “Samantha will remain with me,” he said stiffly, wishing that Casanova would go away. To that end, he headed towards the small pier nearby where a gondola was waiting.
Jack followed, however, offering Samantha his arm to assist her. When she smiled coyly up at him, Jack graced her with a smile that had lured many women into his bed. It seemed, he noted with pride, to work equally as well on foreign women if Samantha’s reaction was anything to go by. “Do you have another engagement tonight that you are unable to attend me for supper?” he inquired, having received the written refusal a few minutes earlier.
“No.” Sam’s answer overlapped her brother’s as she stepped down into the gondola. “We don’t,” she added, ignoring Daniel’s glare.
“Then why the refusal?” Jack asked. “Is it perhaps that you know of my reputation and seek to avoid a compromising situation?” His eyes were on Sam but the question was for her brother.
Daniel’s glare shifted to Casanova as the older man stepped into the gondola with them. “Is it so difficult to believe that perhaps we simply do not wish your company?”
“Frankly, yes.” Jack nodded at the gondolier in a silent order then he sat down. “Samantha, would you sit with me?” he invited.
“Certainly.” Sam lowered herself down next to Casanova.
Given no option, Daniel sat where he was, annoyed at the Venetian man for assuming such familiarity. “Don’t you have any other business to attend to?” he hinted heavily.
“No. Today I am a man of leisure,” Jack replied, grinning at the young man; it was fun riling him. “Are you sure you do not wish to tour the city?”
“I would,” Sam stated. When Daniel started to object, she continued, “It’s only a history lecture, and you know that doesn’t interest me as much as it does you.”
“No.” Daniel refused to give in on this. “We had an agreement, Sam. Unless you wish to forego the rest of your lectures.”
Well... Sam turned her head towards Casanova. “I’m sorry but I did promise Daniel to attend his lectures if he attended mine.”
Jack looked suitably disappointed. “Well then, I shall meet you for lunch. I know a place that has the best coffee in Venice.” He saw Daniel’s eyes briefly light up at the mention of coffee and stored that piece of information away for future use. “I promise I will not attempt to seduce anyone.”
Sam giggled, something she rarely did, and looked at her brother. “Can we, Daniel?” she asked in English. “It will be nice to dine with him, and you’ll be able to have some genuine Venetian coffee, the best in the city,” she tried to persuade him.
Daniel found himself giving in, partly because of the lure of excellent coffee and partly because it was difficult to consistently say ‘no’ to Sam. “Alright. But only for a short while. Perhaps you will be able to tell him about your studies,” he suggested, thinking that it would be an excellent way to bore the man. If that didn’t work, then Daniel knew other subjects that would definitely bore him.
Sam’s expression lit up at that idea. Switching to Italian, she told Casanova, “We accept. What time would you like to meet?”
“Oh, around noon,” Jack replied, thrilled that his plan was working. “We are very casual about time here in Venice.” He hid a smile; it wouldn’t be good to let them know that he could understand English.
“Amongst other things,” Daniel muttered, already regretting his agreement. This was going to be a bad idea.
When the gondola stopped at the pier nearest the UniversitÓ, Jack got out first and offered his assistance to Samantha. He felt a brief spark of attraction as he held her hand but nothing like the one that went through him when he assisted Daniel alight. Okay, his body clearly wanted the younger man despite the fact that it had never shown any interest in men before. Very curious indeed.
Daniel tugged his hand out of Casanova’s, confused by the arousal he had felt. He wasn’t exactly inexperienced in sexual matters but it surprised him that another man was causing such a reaction. What was wrong with him?
Jack grinned again; this was going to be fun. He took Samantha’s hand and kissed it, then bowed his head towards Daniel. “Until lunch then.” He stepped back onto the gondola, his business finished.
Sam watched him travel away, her normally sensible brain virtually swooning in delight. “I can’t believe that he’s the philanderer everyone says he is.”
“And I can’t believe you’re falling for his act,” Daniel said in exasperation. He had never seen Sam become like this over anyone before. “Men like that are only out for their own satisfaction and know exactly how to get it. Casanova will never fall in love, not with you, not with anyone.” Daniel was sure of that. He started walking towards the large UniversitÓ.
“He was married,” Sam argued in Casanova’s defence as she hurried after her brother.
“That doesn’t mean that he loved her,” Daniel shot back. “All it means is that it was a way to become respectable.”
“Well, I think you’re wrong,” Sam pouted; that was another thing she normally didn’t do.
Daniel doubted it but he didn’t want to keep arguing. “We’ll see,” was all he said. He had the horrible suspicion, though, that he was right.
That morning at the UniversitÓ, Daniel found himself sitting next to a very handsome, if somewhat feminine, young man, who had the traditional dark Italian looks. He was just contemplating moving so that Sam wouldn’t see him when the man spoke.
“I am Luca diBenito. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?” the Italian asked, his voice pleasant sounding.
“Daniel Huntingdon-Smythe.” He nodded in acknowledgement of the other man.
“Dan-yel,” Luca echoed, the name rolling off his tongue.. “And what brings you to our fair city?”
“The study of your history,” Daniel replied, starting to get suspicious. Being interested in, and having studied, many languages, Daniel had a good ear for accents and voices, and he was beginning to think that Luca wasn’t who he said he was. He risked a quick glance downwards and saw the finely shaped fingernails at the end of delicate fingers. “Excuse me if this is an improper question, but is your name really Luca?”
“It is if I’m to be allowed in here,” came the soft reply. “Promise you won’t tell?”
“I promise,” Daniel vowed, intrigued.
One delicate hand was held out for him to shake. “Lucia.”
Daniel looked at the smiling face and felt something stir inside him. “It’s nice to meet you, Lucia,” he said with a smile of his own. He figured that if she was here, and had made the effort to blend in so that the lecturers didn’t notice an Italian woman in their midst, that she was very keen on history herself. “Are you a scholar of history?”
“Yes,” she replied, her brown eyes sparkling as she spoke. “I’ve been doing this for a year and no-one has noticed yet.”
Daniel had to wonder how she had gotten away with it for that long. “Why?”
“Maybe because they wouldn’t expect that a woman would do such a thing,” Lucia stated impishly.
Grinning, Daniel had to agree with her; he wouldn’t have expected it either. He definitely liked her.
The lecture finished a little before noon, and Daniel accepted Lucia’s invitation to join her at the next day’s lecture. As Daniel and Sam walked out of the lecture theatre, the latter coaxing information about Lucia from her brother, the young man hoped that they would be able to avoid meeting with Casanova. Unfortunately, the Venetian man was waiting near the entranceway for them. Unable to avoid him, Daniel gave a curt nod in greeting. “You are early, Signor. I thought you didn’t worry about time.”
“It depends on the company,” Jack responded, winking at Samantha and eliciting a giggle.
Daniel rolled his eyes; how had Casanova managed to turn his sister into a simpering woman? The most charming of men back in England hadn’t even been able to manage that!
The three of them walked along the water’s edge for five minutes until they reached a small cafÚ. Jack told them tales about the people of Venice as they travelled, which Sam lapped up attentively. Daniel, however, brooded silently, still suspicious of the older man’s intentions.
Jack thought that Daniel’s pout was adorable, which was a strange thing to be contemplating about a man. However, he was beginning to get used to that and it didn’t bother him in the slightest. Sex was still sex, no matter who it was with.
He assisted Sam in becoming seated, then as he moved around to a vacant chair, he let his hand rest briefly on Daniel’s shoulder. The younger man jerked away from the touch, which caused a faint smile to appear on Jack’s face. What was making Daniel so nervous about being touched? “Shall I order?” he said casually.
Daniel agreed without a murmur, disconcerted by the innocent touch. Or had it been innocent, Daniel wondered; was Casanova indeed toying with him as Sam had implied yesterday? No, that couldn’t be right. Better to just assume that the philanderer was a tactile man. “Sam, how about you tell Signor Casanova about--”
“Oh yes,” Sam interrupted, eager to impress the Venetian man with her knowledge. “Do you know much about the science of physics, Signor?”
“Very little, I’m afraid,” Jack replied truthfully. He had studied many years ago to become a priest but that hadn’t worked as he had enjoyed sex too much. He also had a doctorate in law, having studied under one of the most influential lawyers in Venice - fortunately, not literally. But of the sciences, he knew nothing. “You’ll have to enlighten me.”
So Sam proceeded to do just that. In between every mouthful of delicious food, she related as much as she could about physics to the seemingly interested man.
When the meal was finished, Sam excused herself, needing to attend to ‘ladies business’, leaving the two men alone.
“You did that deliberately, didn’t you?” Jack accused Daniel as soon as Samantha was out of earshot, even though he knew the truth already. He had never been so bored in his entire life.
“Did what?” Daniel replied innocently. He leaned back and sipped at his coffee - so far the best he had ever tasted. He had seen how bored Casanova had been, even though Sam hadn’t noticed.
“You know very well what,” Jack stated, not buying the innocent act for a second. It intrigued him, though, that underneath that scholarly exterior was a sneaky man. “It’s not going to work.”
“Sam can go like that for hours,” Daniel said casually. “Still, if you like that sort of thing...” he shrugged, not allowing his smile to reach his lips.
Jack grinned with amusement at the obvious ploy. “When I’m with a woman, talking isn’t high on the agenda,” he drawled, innuendo colouring his tone.
Daniel felt himself blush at the implication and he cursed silently for reacting that way. “No, I don’t suppose it would be for you,” he responded to cover his reaction. “That is where we differ. I prefer women to be more than just a body to use.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Jack commented, raising his eyebrows in an insulting manner. The blush had been most becoming, and Jack had felt stirrings of arousal at the sight. “You strike me as someone who is not comfortable in bed anyway.”
Daniel bristled at the insult. “Just because I don’t try to seduce every woman I see, doesn’t mean that I’m... I’m what you’re implying.”
“We’ll see,” Jack promised, and was pleased to see Daniel look confused. That would give the young man something to think about and, hopefully, agree to.
Sam came back soon after, oblivious to the atmosphere between the two men. “So, does that offer for dinner still stand?” she inquired of Casanova.
Daniel’s exclamation of ‘Sam!’ was ignored by Jack. “Unfortunately,” the Venetian man replied, “I have since made other arrangements. However, if you are free tomorrow night...” he left the invitation hanging.
“No,” Daniel got in quickly before Sam could say anything. “We are not going to be free any night.” Especially not if Casanova was planning on bedding both of them.
“No,” Daniel cut off Sam’s protest. He stood up and glared down at Casanova. “In fact, we do not want to see you again.” That said, he stormed off.
“I’d better...” Sam gestured towards Daniel, wondering what had got into her brother, and then hurried after him.
Jack simply leaned back and stared after the young man. He was definitely getting under Daniel’s skin.
Daniel really liked Lucia. She was smart, funny and, he admitted to himself, beautiful. He definitely wouldn’t mind developing a relationship with her but for some unknown reason, he was reluctant to make a move in that direction as he was enjoying their friendship. But when he took her to a ball two nights later, with Sam along as chaperone, he found that he wanted to kiss her.
The opportunity came towards the end of the evening. Lucia, looking gorgeous in a red satin gown, took Daniel’s hand and pulled him into a dark recess. “Are you going to kiss me, Daniel?” she challenged boldly.
“Yes,” he replied before proceeding to do just that. Her lips were so soft, and her body molded to his, causing desire to rise in him. As he was a gentleman though, he wasn’t going to take things further, especially not when there were plenty of people only a few metres away.
He pulled back and smiled at Lucia. However, before he could say anything, he heard Sam say in a loud voice, “Oh, he was here a moment ago. Perhaps he went to get a drink.” Daniel knew that was a hint to appear and so he stepped out, reluctant to leave Lucia. He really wanted to get to know her better.
On the way home, after seeing Lucia to her home, Sam took the opportunity to tease Daniel. “So, do we hear wedding bells anytime soon?”
“Cut it out,” Daniel retorted good-naturedly even as he blushed. “We hardly know each other.”
“But you’d like to,” she continued, enjoying making her brother uncomfortable.
“Maybe,” Daniel admitted. He could certainly see himself spending much time with Lucia, talking about history and languages, but he didn’t yet know whether he loved her.
“Well, you have my approval,” Sam stated, nudging Daniel with her elbow. “She’s perfect for you.”
“Thank you,” Daniel said dryly, unable to stop the grin from forming on his face. “That makes me feel ever so much better.”
They both started laughing at that as they headed into their hotel.
From his position in the shadows, Jack frowned, having overheard the last part of the conversation. This wasn’t good.
It was one more day before Jack made another move. His spies - young boys of bribable age - had been watching Daniel’s movements around the city for the past three days, so Jack knew a great deal about his daily habits. He had also talked with the hotel manager and discovered that the Huntingdon-Smythes were only staying for another week; hopefully that would be time enough to accomplish his seduction. And of a more worrying nature, there were two rivals: a young man whom Daniel was spending much time with at the UniversitÓ; and the young woman whom Daniel and Samantha had been talking about the previous evening, someone whom the scholar liked. He would have to speed up the seduction if he wanted to get Daniel first.
What he didn’t realise, until almost too late, was that he wanted more than just a simple seduction - he wanted everything.
“Are you sure?” Daniel asked Sam, who was lying in bed still and complaining of a headache.
“I’ll be fine here, Daniel,” she said weakly. “I’m sure it will be gone by lunchtime.”
Daniel didn’t want to leave Sam by herself but he didn’t want to miss the lecture on early Roman history either, especially since Lucia would be there. And he hadn’t seen Casanova since their last meeting so he was confident that the older man would not be a problem. Still, it was with some reluctance that he agreed to leave Sam by herself for the morning. “I will be back at noon to see how you are.”
“Have fun,” Sam called as Daniel headed towards the door. As soon as he was gone, she sat up, all traces of her headache gone. All she had been able to think about these past three days - besides physics and Daniel’s love interest - had been Casanova, and she had come up with a plan to see him. She would find someone to take her to his house; beyond that point, she had not planned. But she would have to be back by noon or Daniel would be suspicious.
Her heart thumping with excitement at this adventure, she set off on her journey.
Outside, Jack’s spies had sent word to him that Daniel was alone. One of the boys nodded at the gondolier, who was also in Jack’s pay, and so the plan was set into motion.
Had Daniel been paying attention to his surroundings, he would have realised much sooner that his transport was not taking him towards the UniversitÓ. Instead, he found himself in a part of Venice that he had never seen before. Concerned at missing his lecture, Daniel asked the gondolier what was going on but the man merely smiled and nodded towards the nearest pier.
Daniel looked in that direction and to his shock, saw Casanova standing there. Anger replaced concern; how dare the man arrange this! “Turn us around now!” he demanded of the gondolier.
“Sorry, Signore,” came the reply.
As the gondola pulled in beside the pier, Daniel resolved not to get out but he suddenly found himself being hauled up onto the pier by a strong pair of hands. Indignantly, he glared at Casanova, resentful at the way he was being treated. “I told you that we never wanted to see you again.”
“So you did.” Jack couldn’t help becoming aroused at the fire in Daniel’s eyes. “Come, I have something to show you.” He took hold of Daniel’s hand and started leading him through the crowds.
“Wait!” Daniel tried to yank his hand away but Casanova’s grip was strong. “Where are you taking me?”
“You like history and architecture, no? We are going to one of the oldest sections of the city,” Jack explained. Daniel’s hand fitted perfectly in his and Jack wondered whether the same would be true for their bodies. To keep his mind off that for the present, he launched into storyteller mode, reciting what little history he knew of Venice.
Daniel was intrigued in spite of himself. Forgetting that he was holding hands with another man, he asked Casanova many questions, eager to learn as much as he could.
In a narrow alleyway just before they arrived at a small church, Jack made his move. He pulled Daniel in towards him and then moved so the younger man was pressed up against the wall before covered the kissable lips with his own.
Daniel tried to protest but found himself falling victim to Casanova’s skill. Never had he been kissed with such intensity before, and his body filled with desire at an alarming speed, more so than the other evening with Lucia. He almost forgot who he was kissing until he rocked his hips forward and encountered an erection equally as hard as his. This shocked him but he didn’t pull back immediately.
Neither did Jack. Kissing Daniel was both intoxicating and addictive, and there was a special thrill in knowing that Daniel’s strength likely matched his own. He brought his hands up to cup the younger man’s face, one hand making a quick detour to loosen the tie around the light auburn hair. He pulled back briefly to observe the effect and then dived back in, needing more, his hips urgently pushing against the young Englishman’s.
It was about then that Daniel started to panic. His body begging for release, Daniel nonetheless found the strength to bring his hands up to Casanova’s chest and push him far enough away that their lips broke contact. “I can’t do this!” Casanova was a man and, moreover, one whose life was filled with one-night stands. He didn’t want to become just another notch on the other man’s belt regardless of how much his body wanted that right now.
“Why not?” Jack shifted one hand to idly glide through Daniel’s silky shoulder-length hair. “You want to,” he pointed out, looking deep into Daniel’s arousal-darkened eyes.
“I won’t be one of your conquests,” Daniel protested, steeling himself against the feel of the fingers that were now gently caressing his scalp. However, because of the desire coursing through him, his voice was unsteady and lacked conviction.
“I promise you won’t regret it,” Jack said silkily, tilting his head and leaning in to kiss Daniel again.
“No!” Daniel pushed him away with all the strength he could muster. Breathing heavily, he took a moment to compose himself before looking directly into Casanova’s eyes. “I will not be an outlet for your needs.”
“You won’t be,” Jack started to say but Daniel interrupted him.
“Yes, I will. Your reputation is widely known around here,” Daniel stated, “as are your run-ins with the Church. Would you risk your life and mine on something that is forbidden, just to satisfy your needs? Would you want your son to be raised by strangers? Your silence says no, you don’t want to risk that, and neither do I.”
Jack couldn’t argue with him; the points Daniel had made were very valid. He watched Daniel straighten his glasses and tie his hair back with disappointment so strong, it hurt. “It would have been more than one night,” he said to break the silence.
“No, it wouldn’t have,” Daniel stated sadly, unexpectedly disappointed that he wasn’t worth the risk. “And even if it had been, there wouldn’t be any way that you could have remained here, not without risking your life. So really, I’m saving your life.”
“What if I don’t want it to be saved?” Jack blurted without thinking. The way he felt about Daniel at the moment, he would almost be prepared to give Venice up.
“Then you’re a fool.” Without waiting to hear any more, Daniel turned and hurried away.
Jack stood in the same spot for several minutes, unable to believe what had just happened. Things had been going so well and all of a sudden, Daniel was gone and he remained, empty and unsatisfied. How had things gone so wrong?
It has been so easy with women, to give them words of love and then leave them. They had all been satisfied with what he had given them, even if they had originally wanted more. But Daniel... by the sounds of it, the young man would never settle for that. There wasn’t any way they could have a long-term relationship anyway, not unless they went to live somewhere less populated where no-one would disturb them. What kind of life was that though?
One he could live with, he realised with surprise. Provided, of course, he had Daniel and Vanni with him. Despite the fact that he barely knew Daniel, he somehow knew that he would never tire of young man’s company. Did that mean... he loved Daniel? Truly loved?
With that strange thought in his head, Jack finally started walking.
Sam waited as long as she dared as Casanova’s house and then reluctantly headed back to the hotel. She felt so embarrassed to have gone chasing a man who obviously had better things to do but at least it had given her time to think. What had possessed her to contemplate such a stupid thing? The man was a known philanderer and yet she had decided that he was the one to teach her about the art of love, ignoring Daniel’s warnings in the process. How stupid could she be? She wanted to find someone who would love her for more than just one night, who would understand her intelligence and let her continue to study physics. That man would not be Casanova.
Glad she had not made a monumental mistake, Sam kept walking, hoping she would get back before Daniel.
She wasn’t in luck. Daniel had gone straight back to the hotel and started packing, not even fully aware that Sam wasn’t there. It was probably an overreaction to the failed seduction but Daniel didn’t care; right now, he wanted nothing more than to be as far away from Venice as possible.
Sam entered the hotel room and froze when she saw her brother there. When she saw what he was doing, she immediately thought that he had somehow found out where she had gone. “Daniel, I’m sorry, I--”
“What? Oh, Sam, there you are. Is your headache better?” he asked absently as he continued to pack.
“Much. Daniel, what’s going on?” If this wasn’t the product of finding her out, then what was it?
“We’re leaving.” Daniel finally stopped and stared at Sam. “Have you been out?” he queried, eyeing her dress.
“I went for a short walk,” Sam replied, telling a partial truth and hiding the rest.
“I’m amazed that he didn’t try to kidnap you too,” Daniel muttered, going back to throwing clothes into his traveling trunk.
He? “Who?” Sam questioned, totally confused. Then the rest of the sentence sank in. “Someone tried to kidnap you?”
“Yes. Casanova, the man you thought was so nice, bribed my gondolier, took me to an old section of the city and--” Daniel broke off, aware that what had happened next was not for his sister’s ears. He was not sure he could voice such a thing anyway.
“What? What did he do?” Sam couldn’t imagine what could be so bad to provoke Daniel into leaving.
Daniel slammed the lid of his trunk down with unnecessary force. “Nothing. It doesn’t matter.” It had only been the best kiss of his life with a man he couldn’t respect.
“Then why are we leaving?” Sam inquired. There had to be more to this than Daniel was letting on. “There are still two lectures I want to attend, and you were so looking forward to the one on Ancient Greece.”
Feeling guilty, Daniel bit his lip and his hands hugged his sides. Why should he deprive Sam of the pleasure of going to those lectures just because something bad had happened to him? “I just... I guess I overreacted,” Daniel finally stated.
“That’s not like you,” Sam observed. She put her arm around his waist and guided him over to sit on the bed. “Tell me what happened.”
“I can’t,” Daniel replied, wishing that he could. “It’s nothing, really.”
Sam still didn’t believe him but knew from experience that she would get no more out of him. “Well, he’s hardly likely to kidnap us both so we’ll just have to make sure we stick together.” With some guilt, she wished that she hadn’t left Daniel alone earlier because then he wouldn’t have been put through his ordeal.
“Hopefully,” Daniel added dryly; he wouldn’t put anything past Casanova if the man really wanted something. With an effort, he straightened up and smiled at his sister. “Would you mind helping me unpack?”
“Not at all.” It would give her time to work out how to deal with Casanova if she saw the scoundrel again.
Jack spent the rest of the day in his house, thinking about Daniel and how to win him over. “Am I crazy?” he asked his baby son who was currently nestled in the crook of his arm.
Vanni just stared up at him and gurgled.
“Thank you for your support,” Jack said dryly as he tickled Vanni’s round stomach. After eliciting a smile from his son, Jack sighed and looked around him at the opulent decor. He couldn’t ask Daniel to live here, not where the scandal would be known within two days, but was he prepared to give everything up just to be with a man he hardly knew? If only he could somehow talk to Daniel again like he had earlier before sex had ruined things, then he would know for sure.
Problem was, based on that conversation earlier, Daniel was the opposite of him: intelligent, adored history and culture but had no idea of fashion, fluent in other languages, passionate about things other than women... Would they even be able to share a life without driving each other crazy?
As he paced the large living room, a young male servant came in and announced that Teillo, Jack’s closest friend, had arrived.
“Show him in,” Jack ordered, forcing himself to stand still. “T!” he enthusiastically greeted his friend as the man entered the room.
Teillo was a large man - built like a building, Jack often thought - with black hair and eyes, and skin several shades darker than Casanova’s own. “Jacopo. You wished to see me?”
“How did you know that?” Jack asked then shook his head; Teillo was a strange man who had the awful habit of seeing things too clearly. “Never mind. I have a problem. I think I’ve fallen in love.”
Teillo raised one eyebrow; that wasn’t new. “Who is the lucky woman this time?” he inquired.
“I mean, really in love, T. And... it’s a man,” Jack admitted to the only person he knew wouldn’t judge him.
This time, Teillo raised both eyebrows. That revelation was unexpected given that Jack had never bedded a man before. “Are you certain?”
“What, that he’s a man? Yes. That I’m in love? I don’t know,” Jack replied, resuming his pacing. “I haven’t felt like this about anyone!”
That was a very interesting revelation. “And what exactly do you feel?” Teillo inquired.
Jack paused in his pacing and shifted Vanni so the baby’s head rested on his shoulder. “What do I feel? I can’t stop thinking about him! I kissed him once and didn’t want to stop! I’m even contemplating leaving Venice to be with him! If he’ll have me,” Jack added as an afterthought.
The first two things, Teillo had heard before, but the third one was new. “That does not necessarily mean that you are in love with him,” he pointed out.
“I know, I know. But T, this is a man we’re talking about,” Jack argued, resuming his pacing. “I’ve never even looked at another man let alone contemplated doing anything sexual with one. And he has a beautiful sister yet I don’t want to seduce her. Well, not after getting to know Daniel,” he amended truthfully.
“How well do you know this Daniel?” Teillo questioned, needing more confirmation that Jack was truly in love this time.
Jack grimaced. “Not well at all. But I know he likes history and languages, and he can be sneaky when he puts his mind to it. And he’s not afraid to say what he thinks.” Most people of his acquaintance - admittedly, mainly women - were either too charmed or too polite to stand up to him.
“And he has not fallen into your bed immediately,” Teillo deduced. “Perhaps it is not love but simply the thrill of the chase?”
“But why was I drawn to him in the first place?” Jack countered, trying not to admit that Teillo’s theory might be correct. “I mean, he’s a man!”
“You have stated that repeatedly,” Teillo said calmly, his brown eyes watching Jack’s body language carefully. There was something about the way Jack was acting that made the older man think that maybe it was for real this time.
“I know, I just...” Jack broke off, unsure of what to say. He sighed again and looked directly at Teillo. “How do I know if it’s really love?”
“There are two ways,” Teillo replied. “One is that being parted from him causes you great sorrow and longing.”
“And the other?” Jack inquired, thinking that he had that one.
Teillo stared solemnly at him. “You must be willing to put his needs above yours.” That was something he had never seen Jack do.
“His needs,” Jack echoed. He hadn’t exactly put Daniel’s needs first when he had kissed the younger man, nor when he had essentially kidnapped him. He should have asked nicely and wooed Daniel into accepting an invitation. The only redeeming point in his favour was that he hadn’t tried to seduce Daniel for at least an hour on that tour. “So I should apologise.”
“That would be a wise first step,” Teillo agreed. “Then perhaps invite him to a concert, his sister also, so that you may get to learn more about him. If he does not agree, you will have to accept that he does not want the same thing.”
“His body does,” Jack stated, thinking back to that delicious kiss. Daniel’s body had reacted with desire, which had made the kiss even more intoxicating.
“But does his mind?” the older man countered, his deep brown eyes staring steadily at his friend.
Looking away from that knowing gaze, Jack moved to stare out the window. “I don’t know.” He thought back to Daniel’s words. “He said that he wasn’t going to be an outlet for my needs and that he wasn’t going to let me risk both our lives because of that.”
Teillo remained silent, letting Jack think this through.
“He only said no to a one-night stand,” Jack realised, hope suddenly filling him. “He didn’t refuse outright.”
“Then you have a chance,” Teillo stated, hoping that was the truth.
Jack was just about to say that he would go at once when a bad smell reached his nostrils. He held Vanni out at arm’s length. “Are you trying to tell me something?” he asked the baby, whose face was beginning to scrunch up in preparation for crying. “Let’s go find Nurse and then we’ll take a nice long walk.” He needed to clear the air with Daniel as soon as possible.
That afternoon, at another lecture at the UniversitÓ, Daniel apologised to Lucia for not meeting her that morning. “A... friend arrived to show me some of the sights around Venice,” he explained, not wanting to go into details but needing her to know that he hadn’t stood her up.
“That’s fine, Daniel,” Lucia replied, smiling at him. She had missed him but hadn’t worried too much because she believed that he would have a good reason. “Are you still coming to the ball tomorrow night?”
“Yes,” he stated firmly. With any luck, he would get a chance to kiss Lucia, which would put Casanova out of his mind.
Jack did not catch up with Daniel until sunset when the siblings returned to their hotel for the evening meal. He’d had to return to his house several times for Vanni to be changed or fed, and had left the baby there the last time as the evening was turning cold. So, empty-handed, Jack advanced towards the young visitors. “Bueno sera, Signore Ú Signorina,” he said, bowing low with respect.
Sam’s eyes flared with indignation while Daniel’s displayed a multitude of emotions. He hadn’t expected to see Casanova again and was unprepared for the way his body reacted with desire. Clamping down on this betrayal, Daniel opened his mouth to reply but Sam beat him to it.
“How dare you show your face here!” she said, hands on hips. “I’ve a good mind to call the guards for what you did.”
Jack’s eyes widened; surely Daniel hadn’t told her exactly what had happened?
“Why couldn’t you have just asked him nicely instead of kidnapping him?” Sam continued in full protective mode.
“Because given Daniel’s dislike of me, I did not think he would come otherwise,” Jack replied before turning his attention to the object of his desire. “For that, I sincerely apologise. I will not do so again.”
“And the rest?” Daniel questioned, having gained control of himself.
“I am sorry for the intent but not the action,” Jack stated truthfully. How could he be sorry about that kiss?
Daniel’s heart involuntarily skipped a beat; Jack had really wanted to kiss him! That knowledge was as thrilling as it was scary. With a dry mouth, he stated, “I notice that you didn’t say that you wouldn’t do it again.”
“That is because I don’t make promises I cannot keep,” Jack said, allowing a hint of the attraction he felt to show in his eyes. He hadn’t missed the signs of nervous arousal in the younger man’s expression and permitted himself to believe that Daniel wanted this too. “Anyway, I was hoping to extend an invitation for dinner tonight but if you have already made plans...?”
Sam, who had been looking between the two men in confusion, spoke up then. “I’m afraid we do have plans. Perhaps if you hadn’t behaved so terribly, we would be more inclined to accept your invitation.”
Jack mentally frowned; Samantha’s attitude seemed more than indignation on her brother’s behalf. “Have I offended you, Signorina?”
“Only that you treated Daniel horribly, Signor Casanova,” Sam replied, not about to reveal her misguided crush. “In our country, that would be grounds for a duel.”
“In mine also. Do you so wish it?” Jack offered politely, hoping they would refuse as he had no wish to harm either of them.
“No,” Daniel got in before his sister could; he did not wish any violence to come of this. “We do not wish it.”
“Daniel--” Sam started to protest.
“I just want to forget about it,” Daniel tried to calm his sister in English. “Anyway, it’s not as if my honour has been stained,” he said with a wry half-smile.
Sam again wondered what exactly had happened between the two men, and she came to the uncomfortable conclusion that her teasing remarks from the other day had come true. “Holy Hannah, he tried to seduce you, didn’t he?” When Daniel ducked his head, unable to lie, Sam rounded on the Venetian gentleman. “Are there so few women left in Venice that you have to turn to men now?” she accused in Italian.
Several passerbys turned their heads at the loud voice, and upon seeing Casanova, started whispering to each other.
“Thank you for starting that rumour,” Jack stated sarcastically, keeping his voice low.
“Well?” Sam demanded, wanting an answer.
Instead of replying, Jack said, “Do you realise the danger you have just placed your brother in? If your words reach the ears of the Church, they will not care that he is a visitor here and may likely imprison him.” He himself, of course, would be hanged if Daniel testified against him.
Sam subsided, wide-eyed with fear at the situation she had unknowingly created. “I’m-I’m sorry.”
“He’s lying,” Daniel said, eyeing Casanova with suspicion. “The Church cannot arrest me.”
“Do you want to risk your life on that?” Jack threw Daniel’s words back at him. “They often care little for evidence, and fornication amongst men is a serious sin in their eyes.”
“But it was your fault,” Sam argued, defending her brother.
“That will not matter,” Jack stretched the truth, seeing an opportunity to remain in Daniel’s company. “You must gather your belongings at once. Giacomo will take you to my villa,” he continued, nodding at the nearby gondolier, “and we will all leave Venice until the danger has passed.”
Daniel was still suspicious but the whispering and pointing of the passerbys went a long way towards convincing him that they couldn’t stay in Venice now. “And where exactly will we go?”
“Leave that to me. We have no time to waste.” Jack hastily bowed in farewell and then strode away, needing to make his own arrangements.
“Daniel, I’m really sorry,” Sam apologized again, guilty over what she had done.
“I know,” Daniel easily forgave her. He wrenched his eyes away from Casanova’s retreating form and looked at his sister. “I think we had better pack.” And he would have to write a note to Lucia so that she knew that he wouldn’t be able to attend the ball after all. It was such a shame that he couldn’t stay and pursue a further relationship with her but he really didn’t want to be arrested. If, of course, Casanova was telling the truth about that.
At his house, Jack quickly put his affairs in order. He charged Teillo with the job of finding someone to carry on the Casanova name, and to quash rumours that would even now be spreading throughout Venice, and then he packed his belongings for the journey ahead. He prevailed upon the youngest wet-nurse, Maria, to come along so that Vanni would be fed - he would send her back when another suitable woman could be found at their destination. Then he gathered up his young son, who was presently sleeping, and headed for the carriage that would take them out of the city.
They were joined soon after by Daniel and Sam, and then the party of five left Venice. Maria did not understand what was going on and babbled incessantly until Jack informed her that they were merely taking a holiday to show the English couple more of Italy.
They travelled through the night, no-one except Vanni sleeping well, and throughout the next day until they had put Venice a good distance behind them. After stopping at a boarding house in a medium-sized village, the party of five travelled on, heading for England. Jack did his best to woo Daniel but the younger man kept rebuffing his advances, determined not to give in. Sam was somewhat aware of what was happening and tried to chaperone Daniel whenever she could. And Maria was unhappy that the great Casanova wasn’t trying to get her into bed. So the only happy person during the journey was Vanni.
It took a month to get to Calais, where they would be able to get a ship to England. Maria would stay behind and travel back to Venice, which meant that a new nursemaid needed to be found. Jack asked Sam to see to that task so that he could organise the passage to England - and continue to work on his seduction of Daniel.
He also secured two rooms at a hotel near the port; it was a busy season for travel and they were all the rooms he could get. Sam would have one room and the men another as none of them were married.
Jack thought this was wonderful but Daniel didn’t share his enthusiasm. The younger man had suggested that he and Sam share a room under the guise of a married couple but Jack had pointed out that they looked too similar for that to work. And so Daniel found himself sharing a room that contained two single beds with a man he was still afraid to be alone with.
Jack grinned at Daniel’s obvious reluctance to get undressed. “Do you want me to help?” he offered not-quite innocently.
“No!” Daniel refused a little too quickly. “I just... please turn your back,” he requested.
“What if I say no?” Jack queried.
“Then I will leave,” Daniel stated, picking up his trunk.
Jack laughed at the threat and obligingly turned his back. “You’d better hurry up because I won’t guarantee how long I won’t look.”
Hurriedly, Daniel stripped to his underwear and dived under the covers of his bed. He felt silly behaving like a nervous virgin but given what Casanova wanted to do with him which had been made clear to him at every available opportunity – Daniel believed some modesty was allowable. “You can look now.”
“With your seductive technique, it’s a wonder you’re not more popular with women,” Jack commented as he turned around.
The barb stung and Daniel’s lips thinned as anger rose within him. “At least I respect them.”
“But that’s not half as much fun,” Jack grinned at his young companion. “Just ask your sister.”
“You leave Sam out of this!” Daniel ordered, sitting upright to glare at Casanova.
Jack eyed the undershirt with amusement. “Do you always wear clothes to bed? Perhaps you do not even allow yourself to see you naked?”
Daniel blushed but raised his chin defiantly, fighting the urge to pull the covers up. “I wear something when it is cold,” he replied truthfully.
“Then allow me to warm you,” Jack offered. He swiftly removed the bedcover and then straddled Daniel’s legs before catching the younger man’s full lips in a passionate kiss.
Daniel flushed with embarrassment as he squeaked in protest, the sound too feminine for his comfort. Then he flushed for a different reason as arousal flooded through him. The kiss gentled briefly before resuming its original strength, luring him to respond in kind. So he did.
Jack smiled in triumph, knowing he had Daniel hooked this time. Gently, without losing contact, he encouraged the younger man to lie down. Then with one hand, he released both their throbbing erections to the cool night air. Not giving Daniel a chance to protest, he insinuated himself between the long lithe legs until he was lying on top of the scholar, their groins pressed against each other.
The heated flesh startled Daniel and his eyes opened wide. He wanted to protest, to say he didn’t want this, but just then Casanova rocked his hips forward and a bolt of pleasure burst inside him, overwhelming his brain. Daniel closed his eyes and moved his hands under Casanova’s shirt.
The light caress made Jack moan; this was unbelievably good! Even the fact that Daniel had none of the soft bits that he was accustomed to didn’t worry him. He so loved the feeling of having a male body beneath his, especially one who was starting to thrust his hips upwards in rhythm.
Daniel couldn’t help it - his body had wanted this for so long. His hands gripped Casanova’s sides more firmly now, and he arched his neck, breaking the kiss so that he could breathe. It had been awhile since he had experienced such pleasure and his brain had been overruled by the rest of him. His hips started jerking faster, needing to reach that pinnacle of release soon, and his pleas to Casanova became louder.
Jack stretched up to again capture Daniel’s lips; who knew how thin the walls were? His own thrusting kept pace with the younger man’s, not caring about technique for the first time in his life; he just wanted to experience that first climax with Daniel. He couldn’t wait for it and at the same time, he wanted to prolong this pleasure as long as he could.
Daniel’s shout as he climaxed was muffled by the kiss; given the volume it would have been, that was just as well. He felt warmth spread between them, soaking into his undershirt, and then Casanova groaned, his hips stilling as he reached his own release. It was only then that Daniel realised what he had done and his pleasure turned to horror. He’d had sex with another man! Not only that, but a man reputed to have seduced the female half of Venice! How could he have been so stupid!
Casanova had collapsed on top of him, the man’s weight pressing him uncomfortably into the bed. Daniel managed to move his hands to Casanova’s chest and pushed him away.
Jack frowned in post-coital confusion. “Daniel?” he asked as the younger man scrambled off the bed and hastily tucked himself in. His eyes were caught by the sticky mess on the shirt, and Jack imagined his own clothing looked similar.
“You-you tricked me!” Daniel accused, wanting to blame someone else for this serious lapse in judgement. He kept his eyes on Casanova’s face, not wanting to look any lower.
“Excuse me? I did no such thing,” Jack denied. “I made my intentions clear so it wasn’t my fault you didn’t say no.”
Daniel started to cross his arms but aborted the movement when he felt the stickiness on his shirt. “I... you kept kissing me! How was I supposed to say no?”
“Say it a bit louder, why don’t you? I don’t think everyone heard you,” Jack drawled, enjoying the flush of emotion on Daniel’s face.
That made Daniel swallow his next words; there was no way he wanted Sam to know about this. At least there was a bright side though. “Well, you’ve had your fun now so get out of my bed and leave me alone.”
“I don’t think I can do that,” Jack stated lazily. Now that he had sampled what Daniel was like in bed, he wanted more.
“Then I’ll sleep here,” Daniel said, turning to get into the bed Casanova had vacated.
“I meant, I don’t think I can leave you alone,” Jack clarified. He slowly got out of bed and advanced on Daniel like an animal stalking its prey.
Daniel swallowed hard and backed away, only to find his way blocked by the bed. “I thought that once you had seduced someone, that was it,” he said defiantly, refusing to show fear in the form of crossing his arms to protect himself.
“So did I,” Jack confessed, coming to a halt right in front of Daniel. The smell of sweat and seed was intoxicating. “But strangely, I don’t think that even a thousand times would be enough with you. I find myself in the unusual circumstance of wanting to get to know you completely both in and out of bed, something that I imagine could take a lifetime.” He lifted one hand to cup Daniel’s cheek, and one thumb caressed the skin softly. “You intrigue me in a way no-one else has, and I would be honoured if you would permit me to continue in your company and to share your bed.”
Daniel was speechless. Casanova’s tenderness was totally unexpected, and the words touched his heart. The caress was very nice too, his skin still sensitised from the sex earlier. He looked into the warm brown eyes and saw sincerity there, as well as an emotion that could be love. But that wasn’t possible, was it? “This is some sort of trick, isn’t it? You’re just saying that to get what you want and then you’ll abandon Sam and I tomorrow.” That had to be it because otherwise...
“I give you my word as a gentleman, I will not do that,” Jack promised truthfully. “I want to share my life with you, Daniel Huntingdon-Smythe.”
He couldn’t believe any of this despite the fact that he wanted to. “I don’t want someone who will be constantly unfaithful to me,” Daniel stated, trying to control his body’s reaction to Casanova’s proximity.
Jack nodded in acknowledgement; Daniel had a point. “I enjoy sex very much. But for as long as we are together, I will not be unfaithful,” he vowed, having every intention of sticking to that promise. “Besides, I think we will be able to keep each other satisfied,” he continued with a sensual smile.
Oh boy. Daniel’s knees actually went weak at that smile but he forced himself to remain standing; he couldn’t allow the man to see the effect he had on him. “How can I trust you?”
“Because I tell the truth. I have never hidden what I want from you,” Jack pointed out, feeling another stirring in his groin as Daniel frowned slightly in thought.
“But I’m a man,” Daniel stated, finding himself wanting to trust Casanova. “Men can’t be together. It’s unnatural.” What would his father say if he knew? What would Sam say if she knew he was actually contemplating this after her witnessing so many refusals?
“It might be unnatural but it’s also right,” Jack said, using his free hand to draw Daniel closer so that their bodies were pressed together. “Don’t you feel that too? Otherwise, why would we be feeling this way when neither of us have been interested in men before?”
“I-I don’t know,” Daniel stammered, finding it difficult to think while Casanova was in such close proximity.
“We are destined,” Jack continued, feeling the truth of his words. He kissed Daniel again, drawing the younger man in briefly before pulling back and staring into those beautiful blue eyes. “Will you allow me to love you?”
“I... I can’t.” Daniel pushed past Jack and went to flee the room, intending to go for a long walk so that he could think.
Jack grabbed Daniel’s upper arm so that he couldn’t leave. “Yes, you can,” he disagreed softly. “I promise that I will never hurt you or cheat on you as long as I live.”
Daniel looked into the warm brown eyes and saw the sincerity there. Overwhelmed by his feelings for this man, Daniel murmured, “Yes.” He had to admit that Casanova aroused him like no other had done before, and he was curious to know what lay beneath the philandering exterior.
Jack felt as though his heart would burst with happiness at that one simple word. “Thank you.” He didn’t know if Daniel loved him back but he hoped that the younger man would soon return his feelings. Easing Daniel down onto the bed, he proceeded to show him just how much love he had in his heart.//
Daniel sat back, his heart racing. That story had been incredible, not least because it turned everything that was known about Casanova into a lie. And then there was the fact that it was a love story between two men who bore similar names to himself and Jack - which was a little creepy. But it made him think more carefully about their own friendship and whether there was anything more to it.
Jack had the ability to make him feel good just by walking into the same room. Conversely, Jack could hurt him deeply with just a word or a look. There was also the fact that he trusted Jack with himself and so far, the older man had never betrayed that trust. Hmm... he would definitely have to think more on this before he showed Jack the translation.
And speaking of which, there was one more section, written in a shaky handwriting so Daniel assumed it had been done many years later. Curious to know how the story ended, he read on.
//I did indeed fall in love with Jack, and in the forty years we spent together before his death, he never once betrayed me nor I, him. We went home to England briefly before moving to a small community in Ireland where we could live in relative anonymity and raise Vanni together. Jack’s reputation as a skilful lover was well warranted, I have to say, and I never regretted giving up women for him.
To hide his origins, Jack worked hard to blend in and soon gained an Irish accent as broad as the locals, and he changed his last name to O’Neill, liking the idea of pretending to be descended from the Ancient High King of Ireland. I buried him last month under that name in the local graveyard for any future generations who wish to know where he was laid to rest.
My own time is drawing near and I have given our son Vanni, now known as Jimmy, instructions to bury me with Jack. The tombstone will not state what we were to each other but I hope that this story will not be lost and consequently, some will know the truth - that we completed each other.
I miss you so much, Jack, my beloved.//
Daniel was surprised to find tears in his eyes when he finished reading. That the two men had loved each other so much and had lived together for forty years only to die within months of each other... it was sadly romantic. He wondered about what wasn’t mentioned, whether Daniel’s family had known and approved of the relationship; given the lack of reference, the linguist assumed not. But the two men had been happy together. What were the odds that he could find similar happiness with his own Jack?
Gathering the pages of translations, Daniel believed that there was only one way to find out.
Less than a day later, Jack put down the last page of the story, deep in thought. When Daniel had given him the translation yesterday with the words, “You really need to read this,” Jack just assumed that the linguist had only wanted to share another boring find and so had put the papers aside. But when Daniel had called in the evening to ask Jack if he had read the story, the older man had to admit that he hadn’t. Daniel had sounded so disappointed that Jack had promised him that he would read it immediately, and so he had upon disconnecting the call. Now, at 2am, five hours after starting to read, he had finished the story for the second time.
On the first read through, he had been skeptical and disbelieving about all the coincidences. The second time, however, he had realised why Daniel had been so adamant that he read it.
Daniel loved him.
Jack couldn’t believe his luck. He had known that he had loved Daniel since the linguist had ascended last year. Since Daniel’s return, he had put those feelings aside, not daring to hope that they would be reciprocated. Now, he allowed that hope to see the light of day. Daniel loved him. This development was definitely worth investigating.
Knowing that his best friend would still be up at this hour, Jack went around to Daniel’s apartment and knocked on the door. He would know the truth as soon as Daniel opened the door if the younger man displayed no surprise at his arrival.
Daniel answered the door, wary but with hope in his eyes. “Well?” he asked immediately.
Jack stepped into Daniel’s personal space and kissed him hard, revelling in the opportunity to finally do what he had wanted to for so many months. “I love you,” he confessed when he surfaced for oxygen a minute later.
“I sure hope so after that kiss,” Daniel teased, feeling light-headed with happiness. Jack had obviously taken the message the right way, and that kiss... he could only think ‘wow’!
“And...” Jack prompted, putting his arms around Daniel and holding him close. Like their namesakes, this felt so right.
“And I love you too.” Daniel smiled at the man who would soon be his lover. “So how do your skills compare with Casanova’s?” he invited.
“I’m even better,” Jack boasted, certain that what he might now lack in quantity, he could make up for in quality.
Arousal spiked inside Daniel, making him bold. “Then show me,” he dared.
Jack grinned; it would be his pleasure.
It was raining lightly but that didn’t bother the two men staring at the new gravestone in a small church graveyard in Ireland. After getting together with Daniel a month ago, Jack had decided that he wanted to visit his ancestor’s grave, and so they had been granted a week’s leave to do so. The first time they had seen the old headstone had been eerie, the letters etched there worn down by rain erosion but still recognisable. It had given Jack the chills to see his and Daniel’s names written there but it had also made him determined that the forbidden love would remain hidden no longer. So he had ordered a new headstone made, which he and Daniel were now staring at.
“They would love it,” Daniel said softly, not wanting to spoil the eerie atmosphere. He stood in front of Jack, the older man’s arms around his waist in a loving hold. He had never felt so alive as he had been during the last month when he and Jack had become a couple, and their love had grown so much.
“Yes, they would,” Jack agreed, kissing the side of Daniel’s head before turning his attention back to the headstone. With the exception of two names - his son’s, and Daniel’s surname - and the dates, it was exactly what he wanted on his own gravestone when the time came.
It read: In Loving Memory of Jack O’Neill, loved father of James and beloved husband of Daniel. Born 2nd April 1725 and died 12th March 1795 aged 69 years. Also Daniel Smith, beloved husband of the above. Born 8th July 1730 and died 15th April 1795 aged 64 years. May their souls live together forevermore.
|Genres:||Alternate Universe, First Time|
|Summary:||An old family document leads to a fascinating discovery about a famous historical figure, and it also brings two people unexpectedly closer together.