More importantly, I've finished one of the stories on my to-do list. I'm incredibly happy. It's got a little bit of yaoi, and a lot of Sherlock Holmes-inspired language. I've been reading it all day and my brain is ooozing with British-ness. Or something like that.
Kenneth wandered through the sea of formal clothing in the ballroom, intent on only one thing: escape. He had no idea why he attended these parties. Every graceful couple, every perfect face, every inch of everything around repulsed him. There was a sinking feeling in his heart that he was walking through a room of masks, empty eyes following him, hollow mouths speaking even more hollow words in a never-ending verbal dance. This was the top, the epitome of culture and refinement. Shallow people worried more about perfecting their appearances than perfecting their minds or hearts.
Not that Kenneth had no care for his appearance; it would seem odd to his peers if he did not, so he groomed himself impeccably. He kept his oak-brown hair tied neatly back, made sure his complexion was suitably pale: not enough to make it seem he never left his house, yet not tanned enough to suggest he spent all of his time outside. His clothes were the same careful blend of just enough, not too much. White breeches; leather boots reaching to his knees; a simple yet expensive coffee-coloured jacket with just enough decoration to show his status.
Kenneth stepped out of sight behind a pillar, leaning against the stone column for more then just physical support. He took a few deep breaths and tried to calm down, starting by promising never to attend one of Baron Gosseo's "little get-togethers" again. For heaven's sake, he had never even met the man! Kenneth next reminded himself that the people in the room were shallow because they had been raised that way. Kenneth himself was only different because his family had taught him to read, think for himself, and care.
"It's rather odd for someone to slip into the shadows by himself, don't you think?" An amused voice, laced with sarcasm, came from around the corner of the pillar. "I thought the only ones sneaking off were couples wishing for privacy... Unless you are attempting to be a couple by yourself?"
Kenneth gaped. "What--how dare you," he sputtered, "Have you no manners at all?"
A soft chuckle barely survived the clamour of the room. "Would you prefer I speak in a polite way? I'm so terribly sorry to disturb you, but you seem rather distressed. Would you care to converse on the cause of your troubles?" The stranger paused. "If you would be so kind as to allow me to fetch some parchment and a quill so that I may scribe your deepest secrets down and use them later when blackmailing you would be of a benefit to me?"
"You seem to have a wonderful grasp of the inner thoughts of the people here. Though," Kenneth said dryly, "I doubt that the mindless animals waltzing around the room would find your comments very amusing."
"Oh, of course they wouldn't. They hate having the truth flung in their faces because it makes them realise just what sorry, uncaring creatures they are."
"Perhaps we could continue this conversation elsewhere? It's not wise to speak ill of every person in the room you're standing in." The corner of Kenneth's mouth lifted. "Even if you are speaking the truth."
"Especially if you are speaking the truth. Perhaps we can nonchalantly slip out into the gardens?" The speaker coughed softly. "That could be misconstrued, of course, but perhaps if we appear to be engaged in business matters....?"
Internally, Kenneth laughed. It was obvious this man knew of his already tarnished reputation. After being caught in a rather heated embrace with one of his male friends by a servant, he had been the highlight of gossip for weeks. Of course, no one officially knew, since none of them would ever ask their servants for news. The only difference the unofficial status made was that no one had openly snubbed him; there had, however, been a sudden drop in the number of marriage offers he received.
Realising he had become lost in his chain of thought, Kenneth pushed himself away from the pillar and moved to see who it was he was speaking to. His first impression was of gold, wealth. The man's black jacket was heavily adorned with gold ornaments, his boots had gold buttons, and his hair bore a striking similarity to the metal. He held a wine glass in his left hand, fingers curled around it in that just-so manner that spoke of many parties and lessons in proper deportment.
"Shall I interpret your continued staring as a yes or a no?" The faintest smirk touched the corner of the man's mouth.
Kenneth looked away, finding the man's blue eyes too intense to look into. "Oh, my apologies. I take it staring is not taken as an acceptance where you are from?"
"I would wager it isn't even where you are from. I do however applaud your ability to respond promptly and wittily to unsettling statements."
"You are too kind," Kenneth made a mocking bow.
Handing his empty glass to a servant walking by, the man returned the bow. "Shall we, Lord Grayern?" He moved toward an open door on the far side of the room without waiting for an answer.
"Only if you think your reputation will survive being seen with me." Kenneth fell into step next to his companion with ease. "May I ask your name, sir, since you obviously know mine?"
"Call me Lomino. I refuse to tell you my family name, on the grounds that it would influence what you say to me, and I refuse to lose a good conversationalist."
Glancing sideways, Kenneth caught the same almost-smirk on the man's lips. "As you wish, Lord Lomino." They walked outside, off of the well-lit patio and into a maze of tall hedges that cut off the sounds of the party behind them.
When they had walked for some minutes, Lomino sudden stopped. "Now then," he said, settling down on the edge of a large fountain, "Where were we?"
"If I am not mistaken, we were discussing the manifold failings of our social peers." Kenneth laughed. "A subject that is broader than all the oceans in the world. We could discuss this for hours on end."
"Perhaps, if we chose to speak on it for that long."
Kenneth noted the now-familiar smirk, accompanied this time by a predatory narrowing of Lomino's eyes. He sat on the fountain's rim, feeling an uneasy twinge in the pit of his stomach. This man was rich, and by extension, dangerous. "I doubt I could ever grow tired of the subject, so unless you wish to change the conversation....?"
Lomino responded by dipping one finger into the water and tracing random patterns with it. "I suppose I should be honest with you, Lord Grayern. Although I find your wit and conversation absorbing, they are not the reasons that I have led you away from the party."
Kenneth stood instantly, wondering if this man was another that wished him harm because of his reputation. "If you have brought me here under false pretences, sir, I may be obliged to leave. I have no wish to be involved in any sort of trouble."
"None whatsoever? How distressingly dull. Would you not stay even if I gave you my word that I meant you no harm?" Lomino looked up at Kenneth with such sincerity in his expression that Kenneth hesitated, and sat down again. "That's much better."
"What is the matter you wished to discuss with me, if not society's many faults? If you will not tell me, or wish to weave around the subject like dancers 'round a maypole, I will leave, make no mistake."
Still idly trailing his hand in the water, Lomino smiled. "Allow me one small disclaimer before reaching the heart of the matter, dear sir. Although I do not intend you any sort of harm, there may still be trouble in this business."
Kenneth stood and glared down at Lomino's innocent expression. "I said before that I do not wish to be involved in any sort of trouble. Now, if you will excuse me," Kenneth bowed deeply, unfriendly expression locked on his face.
"I will not." Grabbing Kenneth's arm, Lomino pulled him sharply downward, and kissed him.
After a moment of pure, wide-eyed shock, Kenneth relaxed into the gentle brush of Lomino's lips across his own. Kenneth allowed himself to be slowly pushed backward to lay across the rim of the fountain, Lomino straddling his hips and never ceasing to kiss him.
A gasp pulled Kenneth out of his unthinking action in a heartbeat, and he pulled away from Lomino to see who had stumbled upon them. His heart sank as he took in the intruder's features; rich, gold-decorated clothing, and golden blonde hair streaked liberally with gray. The likeness between that man and Lomino could only mean that they were related, father and son if his guess was correct. And it was.
"Oh, hello, father. Fancy you running into me here. And oh, what a state you have caught me in. I'm sure my fiancee would be absolutely horrified to hear of it. Wouldn't it be a terrible coincidence if she appeared right about--"
"Lomino!" A woman's voice made Kenneth turn his head, seeing a beautiful young woman on the other side of the fountain. She had one gloved hand raised to cover her mouth, and was flushed. "I thought you asked me to meet you here to--" The woman shook her head slowly, then turn and fled down the hedge-lined path.
"What is the meaning of this!" Lomino's father demanded, face turning red with anger.
Still intimately close to Kenneth, Lomino burst out laughing. "You're so simple, father, to assume I'd let you choose a bride I didn't wish to have. I arranged for you both to be here at a certain time, and then lured this young man from the ball. I made sure that you and her both caught me in a rather compromising situation; her, to make sure she would spread the news, and you, to make sure you knew why my betrothal was going to be suddenly cut off."
Kenneth pushed Lomino off and stood, enraged more than he had ever been. "What sort of man are you, to use a man's weakness to play him as you would a chess piece? I told you I wanted no trouble--"
"Yet you did not protest when I kissed you, or when I kissed you again, or again--"
"Enough!" Lomino's father screamed. "You have ended the betrothal, Lomino, and you have ended our relationship. I will not suffer you to be my heir or my son any longer. The name of Gosseo is no longer yours to have!" The man turned on his heel and strode away.
Lomino snorted, and rolled his eyes after his father. "Oh, I am so hurt. How you wound me, father dear." He turned to Kenneth with a smile. "Now then, where were we before all that messy business intruded?"
Without hesitation, Kenneth fisted his hand and punched Lomino across the jaw, then followed up with a kick to his chest that left the former Lord Gosseo sitting in the fountain. "You have managed to turn three people away from you tonight. I can only imagine that the rest of your life could be rather difficult." Kenneth left without a backwards glance, returning to his home.
That night, he began to settle his affairs in order to move far into the countryside, refusing to live in "polite society" a moment longer.
As a side note, I'm trying to learn British spelling and grammar. It's very difficult, as I'm used to using American ways... and I do a lot of writing, so it's drilled into my head. >.