Reid – Sasha Cottman

Something was seriously amiss with Reid Follett’s plan. He clenched his fists tightly and swore under his breath. The Follett Plan, as he had privately dubbed it, was ironclad, infallible. A plan so cunning and cocksure he should have letters patent taken out on it. Upon arriving at whichever party, ball, or private soiree he had decided to attend that evening, he would hand over his coat to a footman. Next, he would seek out the closest tray of drinks and avail himself of the largest glass of brandy. With drink in hand, he would then take a slow turn about the room, greeting various guests and, of course, the party host as he went. A small chat here, a welcome kiss there. All the while, his gaze would be roaming the room, searching. His primal brain would note which of the haute ton’s sexually promiscuous women were in attendance. Like a stallion seeking out mares in heat, his lustful instincts would soon find the right one. Brief flirtatious glances would be exchanged, encouraging smiles given. He would never be so crass as to make a cold, direct approach. Women were always keen to bed him. After making his way over to the lady of his choosing, the full seduction would begin.

It required little effort on his part. He was Lord Reid Follett, hero of the Battle of Waterloo. The Follett Plan had never let him down. Until now. Across the room, he sighted his prey. Lord Keating’s wife. She batted her eyelids at him and flicked open her fan. Here we go. About bloody time. His cock twitched at the prospect of some hard bed action.

Lady Keating was one of his regulars. A quick glance around the room and he spied Lord Keating sidling up to someone else’s wife. Reid did prefer to wait until the husband of his lust object was not in sight before making his move. A jealous spouse could make for an ugly scene. He took a step toward Lady Keating, a charming greeting ready for her. As he approached, she blinked slowly, then turned her head. A soft smile appeared on her lips as she greeted another guest—a tall, dark-haired gentleman who immediately bowed low to her. When he placed a kiss on Lady Keating’s hand, she all but melted for him. “Shit,” muttered Reid. As he passed by Lady Keating and her gentleman friend, Reid caught the lilt of an Italian accent.

“Tesoro mio, Lady Keating. It means ‘my treasure,’ which you truly are. Would you like to take a turn about the garden with me?” Reid saw red. The Italian had beaten him to the prize. He was still trying to calm his temper when from out of the crowded gathering he spied his friend approaching. He nodded in greeting. “Owen.” Lord Morrison was Owen to his closest associates and the numerous women he had bedded. The list of ladies in London who could refer to him by his first name was long and illustrious. “You look ready to do bloody murder,” said Owen.

“If I could find a loaded pistol I would do just that. I had Lord Keating’s wife lined up for some bed sport. She had given me all the right signals, even did some of that fancy fan work just to make sure I got the message. But no sooner had I taken a single step in her direction, than one of those bloody Italians stepped in and snapped her up,” Reid replied. Owen nodded. “Yes, well, an Italian stole Mrs. Timms right from under my nose. I went to get a glass of wine for her, but by the time I came back she was slipping her arm in his and whispering sweet nothings to him. The blackguard didn’t even have the good manners to look embarrassed by what he had done. He just gave me a self-satisfied smirk as he led her away.

The bastard.” With the pick of the crop now gone, Reid was facing the ugly and unusual prospect of going home with his lust unsated. He shook his head in disbelief. Had he lost his touch? One unwed young miss in a pale cream gown attempted to practice her come hither smile with him, but Reid only frowned at her. “Not until you have a husband who has broken you in, sweetheart,” he muttered under his breath. “So much for being bloody war heroes,” grumbled Owen. Reid downed the last of his brandy and snorted in disgust. Three times this week his efforts to woo the wayward wives of the ton had come unstuck at the hands of the newest arrivals on the social scene. It was starting to become an unwelcome habit. “Who are these chaps, and why have they suddenly descended upon our hunting grounds? It’s just not on.

I am sure the tupping of our women is against some international treaty or something,” he huffed. Owen raised an eyebrow. “It’s enough to make you want to go and get yourself a wife. If I had one, I wouldn’t have to fend off these sorts of attacks just to get my itch scratched,” Reid added. The look of abject horror which appeared on Owen’s face had Reid laughing. He gave him a reassuring pat on the back. “Don’t faint away, sweetie. I was only in jest.” “I think my heart might have just missed a beat or two. I need another brandy, and quick smart,” replied Owen.

“Sorry to have frightened you. But seriously, we need to do something about this situation before we are forced to consider those sorts of drastic measures. The whole thing is threatening to get out of hand.” Heaven forbid a man would give up the enjoyment of private dalliances with a different woman every night in exchange for seeing the same woman under him for the rest of his days. Wives were more trouble than they were worth, if the matrons of the ton were anything to go by. A chap would have to be either mad or madly in love to take one on. Reid was sure of his sanity, and love was a foolish notion meant only for the poets. In his book, there was nothing worse than seeing a fellow lothario taken down in his prime by one of Cupid’s arrows. Thankfully there were enough society marriages based purely on practical grounds such as money, power, and bloodlines for there to be plenty of women prepared to stray. “The time will come when we will both have to address the issue of heirs, but I plan to be sporting a few more grey hairs before then,” replied Owen.

Reid shuddered at the prospect of having a wife and a family. One day it would have to happen; he had a title and an estate to pass on. But he had plenty of wild oats yet to sew before putting his head into the parson’s noose. He grabbed Owen and himself another brandy from a passing footman. He finished his in three quick gulps. The brandy burned his throat as it went down, but nothing could stir the chill in his loins. “Sod it. The pickings are too slim tonight, and I will be damned if I am going to drop my standards. I may as well go home and get some sleep. I shall see you on the horse track in Hyde Park at six.

And make sure Callum and Kendal are there too.” Reid headed for the door. This new group of handsome interlopers threatened to make the rest of his summer one long lonely night. He was not going to stand for it. “Over my dead body,” he muttered. If he was going to defeat the Italians, he had to come up with a new plan. Chapter Two Reid threw his riding crop on the dining table with a loud slap and slumped farther in his chair. He had woken in a foul temper, and it had not improved even after a hard riding session along Rotten Row in Hyde Park. For a man used to having sex at least once a day, often more, he was not taking his three-day conjugal drought very well. Was is possible to go blind from not having sexual relations? He was certain he had read it somewhere.

And even if it wasn’t scientifically proven, it was a risk he was not prepared to take. At the opposite end of the long mahogany dining table sat Lord Kendal Grant, second son of the Duke of Banfield. His shoulder-length fair hair was its usual messed up mop. Reid was certain Kendal did not own a comb, and his friend pointedly refused to tie it back, even in polite company. Kendal was busy tapping out a tune with his own riding crop on the top of Reid’s priceless antique table. Reid was sorely tempted to join him. To the right of Reid sat Owen, and to his left was Callum Sharp, son of Baron Sharp. Callum had a hip flask set to his lips. Four war heroes. All having seen the bloody action at Waterloo in June 1815.

All officers personally decorated by the Prince Regent. In a matter of days Callum was to be knighted for his bravery. All sexually frustrated. “What are we to do, gentlemen? I can only take so many cold baths before my health begins to suffer,” grumbled Reid. Callum chuckled. “Or your balls shrink away to nothing.” Reid shot him a dirty look. He didn’t find that sort of talk the least bit amusing. He dropped a hand to his trousers and gave a quick groping check. He sighed with relief.

He was not yet a eunuch. It was alright for Callum. While he was also a hunter of female company, everyone knew he had a second mistress to fall back on. Her name was gin, and he loved her hard. Kendal set down his riding crop, replacing it on the table with his muddy boots. He put his hands behind his head and leaned back in the chair, making himself very much at home. If Reid had been asked to describe Kendal in one word, it would be ‘arrogant prick,’ because of course being Kendal it would take two words to describe him. Kendal Grant might well annoy the life out of Reid at times, but if his friend had not been such a crack shot with his rifle on that day in Belgium, Reid would have died at the hands of a French cavalryman. The thought of how close he had come to meeting his maker still sent a cold shiver down his spine whenever he thought about it. A loud scraping noise echoed in the room as Owen pushed back his chair and got to his feet.

Reid winced. “Mind the floorboards. I have just spent a small fortune in having them oiled,” he said. Owen raised an eyebrow at Reid’s mention of money. He then proceeded to bang his hands loudly together, startling everyone. Callum flinched like he had been shot at, and screwed his eyes shut. Reid looked at Callum in disgust. “Try laying off the bottle for a minute, Callum, then your nerves won’t be in such a bloody mess.” It was a rare sight to see Callum without a stiff drink in his hand, even first thing in the morning. Owen cleared his throat, ensuring that all attention was now focused on him.

He looked at Reid. “After you went home last night, I decided to stay on and undertake a spot of reconnaissance. I followed our Italian friends around for the rest of the time they were at the Keating’s soiree, and then tagged along behind them when they moved on to the next party. What I discovered does not bode well for our future sexual conquests, gentlemen.” “And what’s that?” replied Kendal. “Apparently all four of them are considered devilishly handsome by the ladies. And if that was the worst of it, we would have no problems. None of us have had the ugly stick pointed at us. But it turns out they are talented musicians and every hostess worth her standing is scrambling to have them perform in her home,” replied Owen. Reid’s heart sank at this news.

If the Italians had just been a group of visiting tourists in town to see the sights and sounds of the English capital, he could have handled them with ease. Given them a quick personally guided tour and then wished them a fond farewell before putting them on a boat back to Italy. Problem solved. He had caught a glimpse of how the brown-eyed lotharios worked to woo women the previous night, and even as a hot-blooded male he could see the appeal of the new arrivals. “So what? There are plenty of talented musicians in London, though few are on the same level as me. Still I don’t see what the problem is,” replied Kendal. “Not every matron in the ton is interested in your boyish good looks, Kendal. Some want a real man,” growled Callum. His senses might have been dulled but he was obviously still paying attention. “The problem is that all the good bed sport is overlooking us and lining up to get a good hard fucking from the continental contingent.

The problem is that they are stealing the talent from under our very noses. The problem is . we are not getting the sex we so rightly deserve,” said Reid, barely controlling his rage. He clenched his fists when Kendal lazily rolled his eyes. His breath came hard and fast as his temper rose. He blinked hard. Was that a blur in his eye? Oh, god, had his eyesight already started to fail? “And the final problem, Lord Kendal, is that your dirty boots are on my bloody table. Get them off!” The whole situation would have been funny had it not been so frustrating. With a bored expression on his face, Kendal rose from the table and sauntered over to the nearby sideboard on which a selection of bottles of brandy and whisky sat. He helped himself to a large glass of brandy.

After Callum and Owen both waved a hand at him, Kendal brought the brandy bottle and three other glasses back to the table, before collecting his own generously filled glass. Reid had not slept well, and the two strong coffees he had downed before heading out to ride in Hyde Park had done little to lift his mood. He took the glass of brandy offered him. “Thank you,” he said. A stiff drink was just what he needed. He took a long sip before setting the glass down on the table. “Owen, my good chap, please tell me you have come up with a solution to the Italian problem. I would prefer one which will not see me engaging the services of assassins, but I am not above talking to some rough lads in the east end of London if it comes to it.” Owen sat back in his chair and with hands laid flat on the table, looked at Reid. A selfsatisfied grin was on his lips.

Reid rose to attention. Owen had come up with a solution. “I would have thought the answer was pretty clear,” he said. “For fuck’s sake, get on with it,” snapped Reid. “We take the Italians on at their own game. We start our own musical quartet. I can play the violin and viola; Callum, you have the wind instruments at your disposal; and Kendal is our virtuoso on the piano. Reid, you can conduct us for the musical pieces if needed. It’s really all quite simple,” replied Owen. Reid frowned as he quickly realized his own musical abilities had been completely overlooked.

What about me? I can sing. Why isn’t anyone suggesting that? If Owen had expected a standing ovation for his bright idea, his friends were quick to disavow him of that notion. When no one leaped to their feet and shouted huzzah, he rolled his eyes in disgust. “A musical quartet? You mean we would play like hired musicians at people’s homes? You have got to be bloody joking,” sneered Kendal. Kendal would no doubt consider himself far too talented to play for money. Precious bloody petal. “Yes, like hired musicians. That’s the secret of our Italian friends. They play at all the best homes and are getting first crack at the available women. The way things have been going lately, we are left with either the dregs or our own hands when we get home,” said Owen.

And while he intended at some future point to take Owen to task over the omission of himself as the singer, the longer Reid considered his friend’s plan, the more sense it made. He nodded. “While forming a musical group is not the first thing I would have thought of, I must admit that it’s an insane enough idea that it might actually work. It has my vote.” “Mine also. I say we give it a shot,” said Callum.

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