12. SILK

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The Three Archangels, d'Oggiono, 1516
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It was now Josiah's personal favorite day—the last one of the school year. During the past two weeks since the excursion, he'd secretly met with Isaac several times; however, they never once met in each other's rooms. It simply didn't feel right for the no-strings-attached type relationship they developed. Instead, they did their illicit acts in either a janitor's closet, the bathroom, or the locker room shower—basically wherever they could manage fifteen minutes of privacy. Their satisfying exchanges required few words, only heated embraces and intimate touches.

Currently, his professor was dragging on about how to behave and optional assignments for the break. Josiah yawned and rubbed his dry eyes.

"If you're taking these classes, be sure to read these chapters over—"

"Josieee!" The professor couldn't finish, because he was interrupted by a woman with short, bouncy hair running excitedly through the doors.

Oh God.

"Excuse me, Ma'am, you're interrupt—"

"Interrupting what? It's their last day for God's sake! Let a sister talk with her little brother."

"Dahlia..." Josiah buried his face in his hands.

"Come with me Josie," Dahlia grabbed him by the arm, "this is important Beckett family business."

Everyone stared at the sight. Women didn't just show up at Eton, attractive women nonetheless, and they definitely didn't violently yank Josiah Beckett out of class. Helpless, he followed her into an empty room. She locked the door behind her.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"I heard you came out to mother," she answered bluntly.

He groaned from the memory. "It was an accident and she hit me afterwards. All you need to know is that it wasn't a pleasant experience. You didn't have to come here."

"For your information, she wanted to come all the way here to check on you herself, but I volunteered instead, being the great sister that I am. You should be thanking me."

"Thanks," he said sourly.

Dahlia observed the room, glanced at the oak desk and chair sets and the dusty chalkboard, then looked straight at Josiah. "And I know she may not show it, but I do think she's really worried about you. "

"No she's not," he scoffed. "If anything, she's worried about her damn reputation. It'd absolutely ruin her if her son did something crazy."

"Josiah—"

"Stop. I don't want to hear about her."

"Suit yourself!" she said, hoisting herself onto a desk. She flattened out the wrinkles in her delicate silk skirt. "So...any other news you have for me then?"

"Like what?"

"Um, hello? Boyfriend updates!"

Right, Dahlia always was a hopeless romantic.

He let out sarcastic laugh. "You're funny."

     "How can you attend an all boys' school and not have a secret boyfriend?"

"Easy. I don't bother with one," he shrugged. "And in case you haven't noticed, not everyone is as weirdly open as you are. They can't fathom the idea of a man being attracted to another man who isn't a spawn of Satan." He shifted his weight against a desk. "I can only feel sorrow for any men with that mindset; they'll never experience the satisfaction of being with someone who has exquisite knowledge of the male body."

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