“Took you long enough,” Ethan said, drawling it out through swollen lips.
Giles ignored him to bend over the one soldier still conscious. He extracted the rubber hose from the youth’s hands and tutted. And kicked him in the groin, without changing expression in the least. The soldier groaned in a most satisfying way. Giles kicked him again and it went up an octave in pitch. Ethan shifted himself as best he could in the low chair, spreading his thighs to ease the cramps. Ripper knew the way to his heart. Assuming Ripper wouldn’t turn it on Ethan next. He’d been provoked, rather.
Giles knelt on the floor and did something Ethan couldn’t see. The boy writhing on the floor went silent. Giles stood up and dropped the rubber hose.
“Did you kill him?”
“You got off on that,” Giles said. A bare statement of fact.
Ethan shrugged with some difficulty. He hadn’t, in fact, not even when Giles had shown up, lead pipe in hand and in that state of cold rage that so exhilarated the both of them. Then, of course, it had been pure pleasure, watching Ripper dismantle four armed men before they could get off a single shot. It would have been most erotic in other circumstances.
The bulge in his trousers meant Giles had got off on it. The leopard might abandon his nickname, but he could not change his spots. Ethan let his gaze linger on Giles’s stiff prick, as obviously as he could. He smiled with the half of his face that wasn’t swollen.
“Certain you didn’t kill him, Ripper?” he said.
Giles made no answer but took out his clasp knife. He stepped closer to Ethan and held the curved edge rather too close to his throat. Ethan closed his eyes and parted his lips. The ropes holding him to the chair fell away. Ethan waited, but Giles made no move to cut the ropes around his wrists.
“I have a score to settle with you,” Giles said, from close behind him.
Ethan opened his eyes. “Oh?”
“One best settled with you on your knees.”
Ethan licked his lips, though it hurt to do so. “I should be delighted. Do untie my hands.”
Giles snorted. “I think not.”
“You always did prefer me bound and beaten.”
But the flat of the knife slid along his arm and the ropes cutting into his wrists were gone. Ripper’s arms around him, lifting him up and slinging him over a shoulder, were almost tender. Though Ethan knew better than to say so aloud.