“Come now, mother,” said Terrance. “Is it really such a chore to indulge in a splash of wine and a quaint meal with your dashing son?” As he set down the basket, his lace shirt fell open, exposing his muscular chest.
He opened a bottle, and spotted a man below. “Oh no, not that fool again.”
At the base of the hill, a gardener staggered over crops, chasing away the family dog.
“You must get better at staffing the estate,” said Terrance.
“That’s your father’s business, not mine. Besides, what do you think is wrong with him?” Tess asked.
“Isn’t it clear? Without proper education, the mind is nothing but a rotten core.” He poured a glass of wine. “That mindless twit doesn’t have a lick of academics under him. Ask him to read a book, and watch him stare at it like a hairy arse; ask him to spell it, and watch him struggle to squeeze it out that very same back end.”
Tess grabbed a sandwich, and took a bite.
“In fact, the other day I caught him deflowering a chicken,” said Terrance. “I did not say anything since you were serving poultry that evening.”
She spit out the sandwich. “That’s not funny; I ate that chicken. Is that why you declined so sharply?”
“There, there, stepmother.” He leaned forward and kissed her on the mouth, gazing into her with his deep, blue eyes. “I did not say you ate the very one he defiled.” The wind swept through his long, dark hair. “All right, perhaps I did,” he smirked.
“Rotten child.” She tossed the uneaten portion at him, and glanced down his shirt. As their eyes met, she turned back to the gardener. “No, I think something is genuinely wrong with him. Hatters are more likely to go mad; laborers tend to lose themselves with the bottle.”
Below, the man spun around, tearing up onions and radishes, and devouring them whole.
“Does it really matter?” Terrace took her hand in his.
“No, not here.” She pulled away.
“Is it my fault that father and I share the same taste in women, especially those younger than I? Or that he left you for so long, in the care of his eldest son?” He swallowed a mouthful of vintage.
“We’re going to get caught,” she whispered. “Why don’t you bother the duchess of Harlow?”
“The one growing hair out her ears?” Terrance balked. “And what if I explored regions father south? Would you send a rescue party to extract me from that jungle of hers?”
“Damn you, Terrance. Shut up!” said Tess. “Oh my, he’s headed this way.”
“Perhaps he would like to sleep with you as well.” Terrance drained his wineglass.
“Shh…I’m serious. Why aren’t you pouring me a glass?”
Terrance ignored the request. “Maybe you could give him a taste? The closest that chap has come to a pair of real melons are the ones in the garden.” He pinched her breast.
“No!” She slapped him away. “I would never do such a lowlife.”
“Well, you’re doing me, why not him? Hell, why not the both of us together?” He poured himself another glass. “I could even throw in a chicken, just for fun.”
Tess slapped Terrance across the face. “Enough of your banter. I am no whore.”
“Truly it would not be an exquisite day without your loving touch. My apologies, stepmother. You are not just a whore.” He snatched her hand, and kissed it. “You’re a raging whore.”
Tess jumped. “Get your hand out of my dress.”
“Sweet mother, I did no such thing. It must have been a random gopher wandering these lands.”
She jumped again. “Stop it!” Her caramel eyes darkened.
“They must be frisky this time of year. I believe we have an epidemic.”
Tess stood, and scooped up the basket. “You are a bastard, Terrance. I loathe the day I met you,” she uttered.
Terrance lingered on the ground, fidgeting with a dandelion. He peered up with his icy, blue eyes.
“I shall lunch elsewhere; and stop gazing at me with those puppy dog eyes.”
Terrance got to his feet, and tossed the weed aside. “I’m having trouble with this shirt; I cannot seem to keep it on.” He peeled it off, revealing his broad chest and shoulders.
Tess could not help but gaze at his chiseled frame as it blocked out the sun.
“To a prosperous day, mother.” He held up the bottle of vintage, and took a swig.
As her eyes lingered over him, the disturbed gardener crept over the hill. She screamed as he lunged forward and bit into her arm.
“Have you lost your mind? I was only kidding about the whole sex thing,” Terrance tried to peel him off. “Oh dear, mention twat and the whole countryside comes running from miles away.” He peeked over the side as more laborers scaled the hill.
“Terrace, do something,” Tess cried.
“Right.” He polished off the bottle, and then smashed it over the lunatic’s head. Terrance pushed him over the edge as two more crept up. He swatted the others with the picnic basket, before ultimately handing it to them.
The madmen fished a sausage from the basket, and fought over the pork tender.
Terrance sighed. “And I had such ambitions for that slab of meat.”
He smashed their jaws with his fists, and kicked them off the hill. “Dung-eating fools!” He picked up his shirt, and wrapped it around Tess’ bleeding arm. “Now let’s get you cleaned up,” Terrance grinned.
“No.” She pulled him closer, aroused by the sight of blood. “Take me here.”
“Are you mad? With these lunatics lurking about?”
She thrust him between her breasts. “Devour me,” Tess murmured. “Lower.” She pushed his head down. “Lower still...oh yes, that's it...” She arched her head back.