They managed to escape the ballroom without drawing too much attention, and the coach was brought around for them with Hannibal’s mount tied behind, all but the coachman and a single footman sent home hours ago.
Will was handed into the coach and settled on the soft upholstery with a huff of relief, but he looked back at the Colosseum with a fond smile, humming softly under his breath.
“You’re near done in, aren’t you?” Hannibal asked, moving to sit across from him. He reached down and hefted Will’s feet into his lap, steadying him as the coach shifted into motion.
“I have never felt so exhausted, but pleasantly so,” Will said, querying, “What are you doing?” when Hannibal slid his buckled shoes off.
His only answer was to have the gentle, expert press of thumbs on the aching ball of one foot and Will sighed heavily, unable to muster the affront to scold him.
“Nice?” Hannibal asked, rubbing Will’s supple foot in both hands, smiling when he spread his toes. He teased a finger into a hole in his stocking, saying, “Well, holes this far, anyway.”
“I shall have to wheedle my husband to replace them,” Will murmured, his tired smile unguarded and sweet, the street lamps revealing his expression in a flare of soft golden light.
“I have it on good authority that he is prepared to buy out the store,” Hannibal said, working on his other foot as well, taking the occasional sidetrack down to his slender ankles just because they were so temptingly near.
Will chuckled, his head lolling against the seat, his eyes slit nearly closed with exhaustion and enjoyment as Hannibal worked on his feet.
“Thank you, Hannibal,” he said, the words slipping out of him almost on accident, an exhale of appreciation.
“For what?” Hannibal asked, intent on his task but looking up to catch a glimpse of Will’s face in the passing lights.
He seemed sad again, reflective, and Hannibal paused in his work, just holding Will’s ankles in his strong hands. “Will?”
“For acknowledging I have a right to choose,” Will whispered, his gaze dropping just a little. “For not resenting me for it.”
“I have no reason to resent you in anything,” Hannibal said, resuming his gentle massage. “Although I wonder what you will think come morning…” Continue reading