Body Language

December 8, 2014

I have a free short story, Body Language set in the Apollo’s Men world, available for download from Smashwords. It takes place more than a decade before the events in A Spartan Love.

Body Language takes place in Lydia—a kingdom in Asia Minor (now part of modern Turkey) that was conquered by Cyrus the Great during the 6th century BC and became part of the Persian Empire.

Years later, Lykos, the son of the king of the Thracian city-state, Aenus, is travelling incognito through the conquered province. To avoid arousing questions as to why he is there, he is only accompanied by the Persian, Narses, a friend of his father. Hearing cries for help, the two men intervene. They are too late to save a merchant and his slave, but they arrive in time to prevent bandits slaying the third member of the party.

Kas recently lost his family and was grateful to be travelling under the protection of Tahmasp. Now the merchant is dead, his future is once more under threat. He would like nothing better than to remain with the handsome warrior, but how can he explain that to a man who speaks little but Greek?

body language cover

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – Treehouse Love by JP Barnaby

May 31, 2013

Josh cried out as Brandon slammed into him, the condom just barely visible through the camera while I adjusted the focus. Kenny, a recent addition to the ever growing Raging Hearts family, had a knack for capturing the guys’ expressions so he ran the second camera. We’d splice everything together during editing, clean up the audio, and showcase it on the site in a few months. No muss, no fuss. I liked Brandon and Josh—they liked to strip, fuck, and get paid. I didn’t have to deal with any shit from them and that’s exactly why I scheduled them together for today. Today was special and I didn’t need a fucking twelve hour shoot with pills, injections, a diva top, or a whiny bottom.

“Yeah, like that,” Josh half-whispered to Brandon, barely registering with the camera microphones. It was a statement just for Brandon telling him how to get Josh off so we could finish the scene with a spectacular money shot. Brandon pushed Josh’s legs just a little higher and spread them for the camera as his scene partner jerked his own cock in a steady rhythm. I’d already told them to wrap it up, so Josh paid particular attention to the head, knowing from years of experience exactly what he had to do in order to get himself there as Brandon nailed his ass.

I drew the shot back, focusing on the way Brandon’s hips undulated in quick but smooth thrusts and his muscled ass flexed. Josh began to moan, his back arching, and Kenny changed his angle so he could capture both Josh’s face and the come shot. I focused on Josh’s hand as it jerked his dick and the incessant pounding of Brandon’s cock in his ass.

“I’m gonna come,” Josh gasped for the benefit of the camera and their operators. Brandon moved faster, closing in on his climax. The come shot from the top is almost incidental; it’s the bottom’s come shot the guys jerking off are waiting for. They want to hear it, see it, and feel it themselves as they race the bottom to the finish line.

Speaking of the finish line…

Josh’s head fell back onto the bed and his cock erupted. White streams of semen shot over his abs and managed to reach his chest. It was always such a contest with these guys—who could shoot farther, as if they had any fucking control over it. The mics picked up his low, strained moans, the grunts of pleasure as he coated his skin. I caught Brandon’s attention and asked him silently how close; he simply nodded. Thank fuck for that. I didn’t want to wait another hour for him to get himself off. We’d have to stop, get Josh to clean himself up, apply silicone lube so it looked like fresh jizz, and wait. Luckily for me, Brandon could get off with a stiff breeze so we didn’t have to stop.

If Brandon weren’t straight, Josh might have reached down and stroked his balls to help him off, but we all knew to just let him go. The big blond would close his eyes, think about his pretty little wife, and round out the scene. Within ten minutes, he’d added his own spunk on Josh’s abs.

“Great job guys,” I said once the cameras stopped filming and the boys were climbing off the bed. “I’m going to toss in a bonus because you didn’t give me any crap and got me out early today. I really appreciate that.” Brandon threw on a pair of loose shorts over his softening cock and shrugged.

“Dude, I’m married. I get it. Besides, we were at your wedding,” he said, tossing a glance at Josh, who nodded. Brandon pulled a faded T-shirt over his head and asked, “How’s Jamie doing? He never really comes by the studio anymore.”

“The publisher had some changes they wanted him to make on his new book, and he’s been working his ass off to make their ridiculous deadline.” I averted my eyes, packing up the camera so they couldn’t see the disappointment in them. It was our very first anniversary and I hadn’t even heard from Jamie. He’d been gone when I got up, probably off to Starbucks to work on his edits because he couldn’t concentrate at home. We’d been missing each other the last couple of weeks, passing like ships in the night because we were both inundated with work.

After paying Brandon and Josh, I checked my phone and saw the text I’d sent Jamie was still unanswered—even unopened. My heart sank. Rather than going straight home like I’d planned and setting up a candlelight dinner Jamie might not even show up for, I grabbed the memory card out of the camera and started checking the prelims. It was only out of sheer desperate hope that I went upstairs and douched before leaving the studio.

It was just past dusk when I arrived home to our house, dark save for the glow of the lighted porch.

Jamie still wasn’t driving. Though his seizures were mostly controlled by medication, his doctor hadn’t signed off for the state of California to let him behind the wheel. Starbucks was about ten minutes away anyway, so if I didn’t drop him on my way in to the studio, he would walk. The porch light glowed as I tried the door to find it locked. My heart clenched. He’d forgotten our anniversary.

Pushing open the door, I shoved the hurt down deep. I’d promised myself when we got married that I wouldn’t doubt our relationship. Jamie loved me, without question. I couldn’t even blame the book because I knew he’d worked so hard on it. The story of two gay boys who had been fucked by the Sunshine Center just like he had. It was important to him. I hated how selfish I’d become.

When I saw the living room, I stopped dead in the doorway. The furniture had been pushed out of the way, and an inflatable mattress, maybe even the mattress, lay dormant in the middle of the room. A small camping lantern, like we’d had in the tree house, sat on one of the side tables next to it. I’d just taken in the scene and what it meant when Jamie came into the room. His blond unruly hair, which I’d begged him to keep long, was wet from a shower. He stepped directly in front of me, cradled my face in his hands, and kissed me so tenderly I could have wept.

I moaned into his mouth and prayed he didn’t have dinner ready.

“I want to make love to you,” he whispered against my ear after breaking the kiss, “thoroughly, slowly, just like that very first time.” I nodded even as my arms wound around his neck. God yes.  Pressing my body closer, I tried to kiss him again, but he murmured against my lips. “Then, I’ll feed you and take you up to our bed.” I nodded again, and he took a step back, pulling me toward the inflatable mattress.

“Is this—?” I started to ask before I lost my balance and dropped onto the mattress without a modicum of grace. He chuckled as he pulled the polo shirt over his head and bared his chest. Any other questions I might have had fled my mind at the sight of his bare skin. I saw it almost daily, but here in the soft light of his makeshift version of the tree house, a replica of the place where we lost our innocence to each other, it was like seeing him for the first time.

“Is this the mattress?” he asked, finishing my question as he unbuttoned his jeans. I pulled my own T-shirt off as I sat up. “Yeah, baby, it is. I got everything from my dad’s over the weekend and hid it in the garage. Even the fan and the radio came from our tree house.” He tilted his head to indicate another table I’d missed where the old radio and fan sat quietly in the background.

“I love you so much.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him down on top of me. It didn’t matter that his jeans scraped against my skin; I just wanted to feel him, to hold him. He was my whole fucking world and everything in it. My head pushed back against the pillow with the force of his kiss. In it were his love and need for me I felt with every meeting of our eager mouths. He whispered my name between our lips and I threaded my fingers through the silky strands of his blond hair. My heart pounded in my chest, just as it had our very first time together. The only thing missing was the sound and smell of rain.

“You are my soul,” he murmured against my jaw. My head fell back as his lips found the pulse point on my neck, kissing it and sucking with almost no force, just enough to make me ache for him. I loved the way his body fit perfectly against mine when I wrapped my legs around his waist and arched up into him. He wasn’t all the way hard yet, but the friction of our bodies was getting us both there faster than I ever thought possible.

His absence from my life still haunted my nightmares, but in moments like this, where I could feel him and smell him and touch him, I could keep the fear locked away. I focused on the way his lips closed over my nipple and a wild, desperate craving to have him inside me exploded through my body. The only sounds in the room were his slow sweet kisses on my skin and our harsh, needy breaths. With surprising speed, Jamie popped the buttons on my jeans, even as his mouth slid down my abs with a peppering of tiny whispered kisses. When he reached the top of my briefs, I couldn’t stop the strangled cry or the way my hips thrust up to meet his touch.

Jamie tugged hard at the denim, jerking the jeans down my legs and then off over my feet. The briefs came with them, and I don’t know or care where any of it landed. I cared only that I lay naked before my beautiful Jamie. He nuzzled his face against my hip bone, his hair tickling my abs as I ran my fingers through it. I loved the tenderness between us.

Then my cock was in his mouth and all other thoughts left me.

“God, baby,” I moaned even as my fingers tightened in his hair. My breath caught in my throat when he took me deep and I barely registered him pulling his own cock out of his jeans to stroke it while he sucked me. Jamie sucked hard, pulling at the head with his lips. After a minute, he stripped off his pants and briefs so we were both naked and wanting.

“Move up higher,” Jamie said after letting go of my dick with a pop of his lips. My legs felt like jelly, but I crab-walked backward a foot or so up on the mattress. Jamie moved right with me, pushing one of my legs up so he could continue to explore me with his mouth. Moving lower past my cock, he massaged my balls with his tongue. First one, taking it deep into his mouth as I held my knee to my chest to give him room, and then the other, while stroking my spit-covered dick with his fist.

It felt so good, I wanted to beg him to fuck me right then, but it was obvious he wanted to take his time. When he held my other knee up and out, spreading me to him, and slid his tongue into my ass, I cried out, fisting the back of his hair. Fuck, we hadn’t done that the first time we made love. I whimpered as his thumbs held me open. It felt like he was digging the last of the ice cream out of the carton. Jesus. He didn’t miss even the smallest bit of skin. My cock ached, I was so hard.

I wanted to suck him too, but he’d already grabbed a bottle of lube hidden beneath one of the pillows. The overwhelming need to feel him inside me won out over the desire to watch him writhe on the bed with his dick in my mouth. I kept my knee to my chest so he could coat my hole with lube. Jamie was always careful with me. It didn’t matter to him I used to fuck guys for a living; he continued to be gentle and loving because that was Jamie.

He straightened my leg and kissed the inside of my knee as it rested over his shoulder. The back of my thigh strained when he leaned forward to kiss me. The scruff on Jamie’s face scraped my palm as I cupped his cheek, and my heart swelled with love for him. For a moment, it filled me so completely I couldn’t breathe. I could almost hear the rain beating on the tree house roof. I could almost see the boy that Jamie had been, sweet and scared as he hovered above me that very first time. As he slid into me, however, the fear and the pain I’d felt back then were absent. It was just Jamie and me, making love like we’d done hundreds of times before.

I felt him moan “Brian” against my lips when he slid home, his hips barely touching my ass with short, gentle thrusts. My fingers wrapped around the back of his neck and pulled his head down so I could capture his lips. We panted into each other’s mouths until he dropped his forehead to my shoulder and drove his cock into me in earnest. I loved the way he stretched me, making me feel every inch of him as he made me his all over again.  I would always be his. Always.

Nothing, not even sound, could have wedged between us as we made love, as close as two people could ever be. God, I needed him more than air. He was like sunshine on my soul. As I turned my face slightly toward him, I buried my nose in his hair. The sweet smell of sweat and coconut made my cock throb against his stomach. I longed to reach down and stroke my dick, but if I did, it would end, and I never wanted Jamie to stop.

After what felt like no time at all, he whispered to me, begging softly for me to touch myself because he couldn’t hold back much longer. The intensity of the emotions between us coupled with our amazing, dynamic attraction for each other made everything so sharp, so focused, like a single point of light that radiated through every part of our lives. We could lie together in bed, spending hours on end without words.

My hand slid, almost unconsciously, between us, and I rubbed my swollen cock. Jamie stopped for just a moment to grab the lube and drizzle a bit onto my fingers. Then I laughed as he slapped the cap against his thigh and flung the bottle over his shoulder. With my left arm wrapped around his shoulders, I used my right hand to get myself closer to the point where we could come together. We liked to do that sometimes, one of us slowing down to let the other catch up so that we could find nirvana in each other’s arms.

His labored breathing in my ear told me I needed to go faster if I wanted to keep pace, so I twisted my fist over the head with each fast stroke. Jamie let my leg slip from his shoulder but pulled my other leg higher. The change in position, the incredible vulnerability of being spread wide for him, drove me so much closer. When his dick glanced off my hot spot, I whimpered in his ear and he did it again. And again. And again.

“Jamie,” I murmured into his hair, tightening my hold around him as my muscles began to tighten. He answered with his own harsh groan and drove deep as his orgasm exploded into me. Crying out, I focused every bit of my energy on the way my groin tingled and my balls tightened against my body. He didn’t slow, trying to get me there, and after a long minute, I wrapped my legs tightly around his waist and shot my load between us.

“Yeah, baby,” he moaned against my lips as his forehead pressed against mine. He held me as our bodies shook and my cock continued to press against his stomach, tracing lines in the cooling semen on our skin. When he pulled back, I don’t think I’d ever seen such a look of tenderness on his face.

“All those years ago, I prayed that we would be here one day,” he said, one hand cradling my cheek and love shining in his eyes. “I never dared to hope, especially after they took me away from you, but I prayed. Our marriage is the answer to that prayer, Brian. I may not believe in my mother’s kind of God, but I do think he exists, if for no other reason than that he sent me my very own angel.”

A single tear ran down my cheek at his words, and I couldn’t stop myself from kissing him with long, slow deliberation.

“I love you, Jamie. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. While I’m not sure I believe in God, I have to wonder because I prayed too. I begged him to keep you safe until I could find you.”

“Happy anniversary, baby. It’s you and me—forever.”

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Read more about Brian and Jamie in the Little Boy Lost series.

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – Accepting Love by Silvia Violet

May 31, 2013

I put the final touches on the carving I was making Matt for our first anniversary. When we’d been eighteen, our friendship just solidified and our chance at more seemingly non-existent, I’d carved a horse for him. Years later, I’d found out he’d kept it through our time apart, treasuring it even when he’d wanted to hate me.

I’d carved other things for him since we’d been together—salad bowls, wooden utensils, a mixing bowl for him to give his mom. But this gift was more special than any of those, because it was a way of giving him myself, showing him that every single part of me was his, even the part I’d tried to hide from him, my shifter side. I’d carved him a wolf, and it was one of the most detailed pieces I’d ever made, the fur, the eyes, the line of the throat as the wolf tilted it’s head up for a howl. I’d spent hours hidden away in the shed I used as a workroom, perfecting it.

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Read more about Matt and Shane in Denying Yourself.

I looked the wolf over one more time and decided I was satisfied. Now I just needed to wrap it and go find Matt. He was working at the restaurant he ran at Pisgah Mountain Lodge. I worked there too, as a handyman, but I’d been able to get away for most of the day. I’d hoped we’d have the evening to ourselves, but Matt hadn’t wanted to ask for the night off since it was a Saturday, and the restaurant would be busy. He’d promised we’d celebrate after he closed up and again the next morning and the next afternoon. But I wanted to stop by and surprise him anyway.

When I stepped out of my workroom, I smelled hickory smoke. If I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed Matt was firing up the grill with hickory chips in the smoke box. We didn’t have any close neighbors, but I figured someone was burning leaves or something even though my lupine sense told me otherwise.

I toed off my dirty boots, leaving them by the door. Then I pulled it open, and the smoky smell was overpowered by the sweet tang of blackberry pie. “Matt?”

He appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, wearing nothing but his threadbare cut-offs

“Surprise,” he said, looking sexy as hell with his naughty-little-boy grin on his face.

I walked toward him, needing to feel his skin under my hands. “I thought you had to work.”

His smile widened. “Nothing but an emergency would keep me away from you on the night of our anniversary. I just wanted to surprise you, so I came home after lunch and left my truck parked at the end of the driveway.“

It had been my truck, one I’d bought with my own money when I was seventeen. It was ancient, and I didn’t know how Matt kept it running, but he refused to trade it. He said it held too many memories.

“But how did you know I wouldn’t be in the house?”

Matt rolled his eyes. “You’ve got a day off. You’re on your own. You’re going to be in your studio.”

I should probably have been annoyed that he found me so predictable, but I couldn’t bother, not with him looking so hot, leaning against the doorway, his shorts low on his hips, sweat glistening on his sculpted chest after standing by the stove in the stifling afternoon heat.

I reached out with my free hand and pushed an errant curl off his forehead. He’d let his hair stay longer than he usually did in the summer just because I liked it. “Did you make blackberry pie?”

He chewed his lip, looking uncertain. “Yeah. I made your favorite meal—steak, garlic-cheddar mashed potatoes, collards and blackberry pie.”

The list of foods sounded seductive on his lips. I skimmed my fingers down his neck and across his chest and abdomen before toying with his waistband. “Delicious.”

“Me or the food?” Matt joked.

“Both.”

Matt still looked unsure. “I thought about getting you something else, but I wasn’t sure what you’d want, and well…”

“This is perfect. There’s nothing I want more than you, but you’re cooking is a close second.”

The worry vanished from Matt’s hazel eyes. “I love that after a year you still stay that.”

“I’m still going to be saying that after twenty years.”

“I love you,” Matt said, setting his hands on my hips and pulling me closer.

“I love you too.” Those words still had the power to bring me to my knees. For so long I’d thought I would never hear them from Matt, never hear anything but scorn after I’d fucked up so badly. I was so lucky to have gotten another chance with him.

“I made this for you.” I held out the carving. “I was going to wrap it, but…”

Matt’s eyes widened as he turned the wolf over in his hands. “This is incredible. I’ve always been impressed by what you could do but…wow.” He ran his hands over the wolf’s back, feeling the texture of the fur. “I can’t imagine how you did this.”

“It’s supposed to be me. ‘Cause I didn’t want to give you that part of me at first, but now it’s okay. I can’t believe it’s been a year, Matt. A whole year and you’re still here with me, and we’re still happy and—God I’m so lucky.” My hands shook as I waited to see what he would say.

“Shane, that’s…” Tears glistened in his eyes. He took several steps backward into the kitchen, pulling me with him. He set the wolf down on the table, then took my face in his hands.

“You’re no more lucky than I am. You remember that, don’t you?”

“Most days.” There were times when I could believe Matt felt as awestruck by what was between us as I did. Other days that didn’t seem possible.

“I’m going to start making sure you remember it every day because you are the most important thing in my life. And this—“ Matt picked up the carved wolf. “This is going on the mantle right beside my horse. You couldn’t have given me a better present, because this is you. The wolf is you, the caving is you, the following your dreams is you.” Matt frowned. “All I did is cook.”

“But don’t you see? That’s who you are, the man who takes care of everyone by feeding them. You’re living your dream too.”

“But I wouldn’t be if you hadn’t pushed me.”

I cupped Matt’s ass and pulled him hard against me, needing to show him how I felt instead of talking. He kissed me, pushing into my mouth, making me open for him. He was aggressive and needy at the same time. I took what he had and gave it back, devouring him. Finally, we both needed to breathe. He nipped at my lower lip as he pulled back.

His eyes had a mischievous glint, and my body thrummed, waiting to find out what he wanted.  He took hold of the table’s edge and smiled. “It’s sturdy enough, don’t you think?”

My eyes widened. ”You mean…”

“I’m going to spread you out on it and show you just how happy I am to have you.”

My dick immediately seconded the idea, but my stomach wasn’t so sure. “What about dinner?”

Matt grinned. “I can put the steaks on afterwards. Everything else can wait.”

“But you can’t wait?”

Matt shook his head. “No, I can’t.”

I wasn’t about to deny him what he wanted, so I gripped the hem of my T-shirt, pulled it up and over my head, and tossed it to the floor. Matt maneuvered me until I was between him and the edge of the table. Then he suckled one of my nipples as I worked the fastenings of my jeans. My fingers fumbled when he bit down.

“Fuck, Matt.”

“Oh yes, I’m going to fuck you.”

I grinned. “I love how you go from sweet to lust-crazed in no time.”

He laved my nipple, soothing the sting of the bite. “This is sweet. Very, very sweet.” He belied his words by sinking his teeth into my shoulder and sucking hard enough to leave a mark.

“Matt!” I cried, digging my fingers into his back as I kicked out of my pants.

“Anxious now?”

“God, yes.”

“I love that after a year this is still just as hot as it always was.”

I groaned. “Hotter.”

Matt gripped my waist, and I held onto his shoulders as he lifted me to sit on the table’s edge. I dropped my head back as he kissed along my neck, teasing my skin with flicks of his tongue. My wolf stirred inside, longing to take command, but I wouldn’t let him.

Matt shivered like he sensed the predator rising in me. “You gonna fight me?” He asking, straightening up and popping the snap on his cut-offs. Sometimes Matt liked for my wolf to come out to play during sex. He enjoyed the side of me that balked at his being in control, but that’s not what I wanted tonight.

I shook my head. “Not if you hurry.”

He cocked his head like he was thinking. “Shouldn’t anniversary sex be slow and romantic?”

I lay back, spreading myself for him and shifting restlessly against the table. “Not this time.”

Matt groaned, watching me as he pushed his shorts over his hips and stepped out of them.

I breathed deep, smelling his desire. It was laced with the primal fear any human has of a wolf.

“Now,” I growled, knowing it would make him hotter.

I started to sit up and pull him on top of me, but he pushed me back down, and I let him, even though my wolf wanted to fight.

“Don’t move,” he said. He stepped away, glanced around the kitchen, then grabbed the olive oil from the counter. It wouldn’t be the first time we’d improvised with lube because we were too impatient walk to the bedroom. Thank goodness we didn’t need condoms any more.

I stroked myself as I watched him slick up his cock. I was desperate to feel him inside me, to have us locked together, connected in the most basic way possible.

I reached for him, and he leaned down and kissed me. “I love you,” I murmured against his mouth. “Always.”

“Shane, you’re amazing.” He found my entrance with his slick fingers and pushed inside me, opening me up, working me slowly, torturously as he kissed me. I bucked up against him, my cock brushing his abdomen, desperate for friction.

In seconds, I was already too far gone for complete sentences. “You don’t have to… I don’t need… Just fuck me.”

He grinned as he pulled his fingers from my body. “I love making you so needy.” He positioned his cock, teasing me, circling my hole with the tip. “I love making you mine.” He drove into me, and I cried out.

“Always yours. Always,” I shouted.

“Show me.”

I arched up, taking him deeper. My vision shifted as my eyes turned wolfish, and I growled. “Fuck me.”

Matt took my hands in his and pinned them to the table. He didn’t have my shifter strength, but I had no interest in breaking free. I was exactly where I wanted to be.

“I’m right where I want to be too.”

I gasped. “How did you know I was thinking that?”

He raised a brow. “I know you, Shane. I know everything about you inside and out, and I love it all.”

“Matt, I—”

He thrust deep, cutting off my words. Neither of us wanted slow and sweet right then. We wanted to work each other over, to let all our emotions turn to burning hot lust.

I wrapped my legs around him, holding him tight, and he gave me exactly what I wanted. I fought my wolf, holding him at bay. I snarled and bucked and Matt only gave harder.

“I fucking love when you’re so wild,” he said.

“Close, Matt. So close.”

He shifted position just enough to make his thrust drag over my gland, and that was all it took. I shouted his name and lost it. My cum shot between us, making our bodies slide against each other as he kissed me, pulling my cries into his mouth, then filling me with his own as he drove deep, giving all of himself to me, snarling and shouting through his own climax.

We lay there, panting, bodies slick with sweat and cum, limbs loose. “Wow,” I said when I found my voice.

“Yeah.” Matt chuckled. “That was not exactly how I planned to start the evening, but—“

“It was perfect.”

He sat up enough to look at me. “Happy Anniversary.”

I smiled. “I can’t imagine one happier.”

“Then be prepared to be amazed next year and the year after that.”

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – A True Colors Anniversary by Clare London

May 31, 2013

“What’s going on?” Miles paused in the doorway of the lounge, his newspaper under his arm. He was due a haircut, but hadn’t had time to arrange an appointment. It meant that a stray lock of his thick dark hair fell forward over his forehead and kept getting stuck in the arm of his reading glasses. Every time he brushed it back, it knocked the glasses askew on his long, straight nose.

It had been a weary, hot, and distressing week at work, finished off with a weary, hot and distressing journey home. He’d refused the offer of a cab at the end of the day: after all, he was only a dozen or so stations away from his city flat. But a wildcat strike by the train drivers meant only one in three trains was running. He’d been jostled and squashed on the platform by frustrated commuters, turned borderline psychotic by impatience and ill-equipped air conditioning. Then some hooded youth who obviously had a death wish tenacious beyond belief, had knocked into Miles -­ twice -­ and made him drop his much-needed frappuccino onto the tracks below. Before he’d taken even one sip.

The youth had apologised profusely, but Miles was in no mood for any further problems, at work or home. He looked into the lounge and frowned. The glasses slid a little further down his nose.

Zeke uncurled himself from a comfortable position on the sofa and peered over the back of it. “So I’m guessing you don’t need any further stress,” came his long, slow drawl. “I’m a sensitive, new age male. I can see that. Something about the way your fingers are welded to the handle of your briefcase. Something about the homicidal gleam in your eye.”

Miles peeled the remains of the newspaper from where the afternoon’s heat had stuck it to his palm and dropped it on to the side table. There was newsprint all over his hand but he was past caring. He carefully unwrapped the fingers of his other hand from their pseudo-rigor mortis around his case. Then he moistened his dry, pursed lips, preparing his carefully balanced response.

“Love it when you do that,” Zeke murmured. “Purse your lips like that. For me.” His eyes looked wide and innocent but his mouth smiled wickedly, licking around his words as if they were nuggets of something luscious and inevitably chocolate-flavoured. “But I guess you know that.”

Miles tried to ignore the way that Zeke’s mouth moved. Sometimes it promised delights that couldn’t be bought or begged anywhere this side of Paradise. Sometimes it meant ­- most definitely -­ further stress, though of a different kind. Miles sighed. And sometimes he never really knew what it would bring. That thought brought fearful delight. It stimulated him beyond belief. And he had no doubt that Zeke knew that.

He took a couple of steps into the lounge. “What’s going on?” he repeated. Quite calmly, and – he reckoned – in his most measured tone.

“Nothing much,” Zeke replied, in such a way that the opposite was patently true. “Just thought you needed to chill out. Hey, just listen to the strain in your voice. This deal has been hell for you. Every day, into the city centre, fighting with lawyers and accountants, and every journey a struggle through a sweaty, seething mass of humanity.”

“I never actually phrased it like that,” Miles said, dryly. “And I’ve enjoyed being involved in a new merger.”

“But maybe not as much as before.”

Miles grimaced. Did Zeke really see that in him? “True. I’ve spent a couple of months working mainly from home, and I suppose I’ve been spoiled. The change back just takes getting used to.”

“The clamour, the travel, the backbiting, the politics…”

Miles raised an eyebrow. “And that’s just at the coffee shop.”

Zeke’s smile grew wider, the skin crinkling at the outer edges of his eyes. “It’ll be finished in another month or so, and you can work from here again. I like us both working from home.”

“Your idea of us working from home has a rather different agenda than my need to earn money,” Miles said, but he could feel his smile venturing out to join Zeke’s. “Your career aspirations for us tend to involve over eighty per cent of my time – our time -­ in bed. I find it difficult to create due diligence checklists from that – those – angles.”

Zeke was laughing now. He stood up gracefully from the sofa and went to the side table, where he poured out and offered to Miles a glass of something pale, and full of what looked like unashamedly luxurious bubbles. The sides of the glass shimmered with chill condensation. Miles gazed back at his lover, seeing so clearly the similarity between man and Moet.

“Champagne?”

Zeke shrugged with a gentle, sensual grace. A trickle of liquid ran down the side of the glass and over the edge of his thumb. After Miles took the glass from Zeke’s hand, Zeke lifted that thumb up to his mouth and pressed it slowly between his lips, absorbing the drop of cool water.

Miles watched every movement; his hand felt numb around the stem of the glass. His groin ached with a heat that had nothing to do with the lack of air conditioning in public transport. “Have I forgotten a birthday or something?”

“No need to think you’re at fault. It’s just a day. Just special because it’s us.”

Miles wasn’t fooled. Spending time with Zeke kept him on his toes in more ways than one; kept him continuously alert to mood and nuance; kept him sharp and suspicious in the most delicious of ways. Living with Zeke had only honed those skills over the course of…

…a year.

“It’s a year,” he said, rather too sharply, but then his back was still hurting from a buggy that some woman had chosen to park against his kidneys for all of three stops. “A year that we’ve lived together. At the gallery, at my house. Here in town.”

Zeke’s eyes widened a little further. “Is it really?”

Miles started to laugh. His gaze ranged over the room-­ the drawn curtains; the subdued lighting; the extra cushions on the couch. The warm, meaty aroma of something cooking in the kitchen. The ice bucket perched carelessly on the low table; the soft chink of the cubes inside it shifting as the warmth of the room began to melt them.

“You wanted to celebrate it. Should I have asked to leave work early?”

Zeke took a step forward, right up against him, sliding his hand around Miles’s waist, and pressing his mouth to Miles’s neck. “Maybe.”

Miles arched back, baring the skin of his throat, feeling moist from the sweat of his journey, warm with the throbbing pulse of his excitement. “Much earlier?”

“Very…” Zeke hissed, “very, very much earlier.” He nibbled at the skin under Miles’s ear, his hands slipping down to cup the cheeks of his lover’s arse through his heat-creased pants.

Miles leaned forward into the harbour of Zeke’s body, nestling his head on the other man’s shoulder, running his own hand down the sinewy planes of Zeke’s back. The skin was very warm there and his fingers followed Zeke’s spine, a ridge of sharp bones and tight flesh. The small dip at the bottom smoothed down into the curve of his arse. The skin there was also warm; also delicious to touch; also goose bumping under the path of Miles’s fingertips…

Zeke sucked in a breath and moaned.

Miles slid his hands back up to Zeke’s shoulders and pushed him gently to arms’ length. “I like this welcome look,” he said. He was slightly breathless.

Zeke smiled, his eyes now heavy-lidded and decidedly less focussed. “The glass of champagne look?”

Miles tutted. He ran a finger slowly -­ tortuously slowly -­ down the trail of hair between Zeke’s nipples, watching them spring back gently against their natural line.

“Ohhh,” Zeke sighed. “You mean the nude look?”

Miles let his eyes run hungrily up and down the naked man in his lounge. “Yes. The nude look.”

“No problems with accessorising. Goes with everything.” Zeke panted, nudging himself back against Miles. “Let me demonstrate.”

“No,” Miles said, startling Zeke. “Let me.” He removed his glasses, folding them carefully and putting them aside. He took a full mouthful of his champagne and put the glass back on the table. He didn’t swallow the drink. Instead, he sank down to his knees in front of the other man, his hands supporting himself as he went, running firmly down the taut skin of Zeke’s waist, Zeke’s hips, Zeke’s thighs…

“Fuck,” Zeke sighed, as if he breathed a particularly precious poem.

Miles smiled with closed lips and then slid his mouth carefully over Zeke’s rearing cock. The champagne was still cool, still fizzing. Miles felt the hot, thick flesh of Zeke’s arousal thrust through the bubbles towards the back of Miles’ throat. Miles steadied himself with a hand on Zeke’s shaved groin, and felt Zeke’s shudder run all the way down to his toes.

“Love it when you do that,” Zeke moaned. “Like that. For me. Did I say that before?”

Miles mumbled something that was part agreement, part pleasure. He’d spent too long in conference with work colleagues this week to worry about it at home as well. He moved his head slowly, letting Zeke’s hand in his hair just follow the movement, not directing. Again and again, back and forth, in against Zeke’s groin then back up to the tip, the champagne warming and the bubbles melting in with Miles’s saliva, lubricating his mouth, bathing the thickening cock as he sucked.

“Gonna…” Zeke gasped loudly and tensed up.

“Do it.” Miles opened his mouth and took a quick gulp of air before going back down.

“It’s your anniversary gift.” Zeke was very flushed. One of his hands clutched the back of the couch and the other gripped cruelly into Miles’s scalp. It seemed to be the only way he could stay upright at the moment of climax. “Don’t mind… no cute gift wrapping?”

Miles chuckled, scraping his teeth lightly over the crown of Zeke’s cock. “This is cute enough for me.” You always are, he nearly said, but then his mouth was filled with a spurt of thick, sticky come, a hot new burst in amongst the warmed alcohol and his own juices. He gagged but welcomed it, sucking harder than he’d meant to, but desperate to take all he could. His hands tightened on Zeke’s thighs, his fingers making pink penny-shapes in the pale flesh.

Zeke cried out as he came, babbling some nonsense words in the back of his throat that included both cursing and pleading. His back arched as his cock spat out its satisfaction, and he leant back against the sofa for support. When Miles got to his feet, slowly licking his lips, Zeke leaned back into Miles’s arms, holding tightly until his body stopped shivering with pleasure shocks, and he seemed firmer on his feet again.

Miles stood there patiently, listening to the excited beat of his own heart. When Zeke reached fumbling fingers to his chest, he let him peel the shirt up over his arms. Miles savoured the stretch, his body tired of clothes and the pressures of a week’s work.

“Look at that,” Zeke said, throatily. “Today’s news, hot from the flesh. How tasty.” He dipped his head and licked at a line of smudged newsprint along Miles’s bared wrist. “Miles. Don’t feel bad at forgetting today. It’s not like it made the national papers.” He started to lick along Miles’ skin.

Miles shivered at the flickering tongue, teasing at the sensitive areas under his arm and across his shoulder. “Who said I forgot?”

“Huh?”

He smiled at the bemusement in Zeke’s voice. He took a step away, breathing heavily, the movement in his broad chest stirring new trickles of sweat. He flipped open the straining button of his trousers, then reached for Zeke’s hand and slid it down inside his boxers.

Zeke’s eyes opened even wider. They glinted like a switchblade unfolding. He whistled, appreciatively.

“Guess where my gift wrapping is,” Miles said. He felt Zeke’s hand tangle in amongst his sweaty hairs, and his palm close possessively around Miles’s fiercely erect cock. Gotcha!

“You wore this all the way home?”

Miles nodded.

“At this tension?” As Miles nodded again, Zeke’s expression softened. He smiled, his expression both lascivious and loving. “God, you’re hard.”

“I’m well aware of that.”

Zeke chuckled, then sighed, almost reverently. He pushed Miles’s trousers to the floor and helped him kick them to the side so that he was as naked as Zeke. Miles saw the sweat on their skin shining in the dimming light. His limbs ached with anticipation and he nudged against Zeke, impatiently. And so Zeke gently peeled off the slim, tight leather band around Miles’s cock and balls, releasing him.

Miles’ cock throbbed against Zeke’s hand, damp desire at its tip, slicking the fingers that caressed it. He groaned with almost inexpressible delight. The journey home had, indeed, been a nightmare. “I reckoned the occasion should be…”

“Celebrated?” Zeke finished, nodding. “Love it when you do that. For me.” He was breathless again and his cock was bobbing encouragingly between his legs. “I really – really – like to see that on you.”

“Restraint?”

“Uh-huh. Restrained, and desperate for release. And best of all, knowing I’m the one can offer that release.” He leaned against Miles and their mouths met greedily. “Am I right?”

“You’re right. It’s been a good time. Together, I mean.”

“Still is.”

Miles nodded and they both smiled, their lips tracing the shape of each other’s, knowing and desiring and understanding. Miles gripped Zeke again, rubbing their cocks together, his need so urgent that he felt it as a shock through his body.

“Zeke…”

“Use me,” Zeke hissed. “That’s what you want, isn’t it?” He stroked his hands down Miles’s chest, his eyes twinkling with a mix of excitement, mischief and impatience. Then he turned his back to Miles and bent forward over the seat of the sofa, resting his arms against the back cushions. He looked back over his shoulder, his legs apart and his arse presented high for Miles to see and touch. To Miles’ delight, it looked like he was already well-lubed and ready for play.

Miles smiled, his feelings deep, joyful and at peace. He moved closer, stepping between Zeke’s outstretched thighs, rubbing his swollen cock slowly with one hand and smoothing the other over Zeke’s muscled buttocks. “Happy anniversary, Zeke.”

“And? Say it, then,” Zeke whispered, grinning, sweating. “You know you want to.”

Miles laughed again, his gaze on the sensuous arch of Zeke’s body, his heart full of happiness at their shared humour, his lover’s eagerness, the plans they’d made for each other … the thoughts of the night ahead.

“I love it when you do that,” he said, no longer any strain left in his voice. “For me.”

———————————————————————————————————————–

Read more about Zeke and Miles in the True Colors series.

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – After Hours by Andrea Speed

May 30, 2013

Roan arrived at Panic just ahead of closing time, but still had to weave his way through the sloshed leaving men. He was so glad he wasn’t single anymore.

Once inside the nightclub, he was almost stunned by the quiet. Usually the dance music played at a volume that not only threatened to deafen him, but the bass often felt like it was attempting to puree his organs. Dylan was shirtless and wiping down the bar, which you’d expect of a bartender. Luis, the other one on duty, was gathering discarded glasses and bottles from the tables. He saw him first. “Ooh, look Dyl, your husband’s here,” Luis said, in a cheerful singsong voice.

Dylan looked at Roan and smiled, but Roan could still see the surprise in his eyes. “Hey. I didn’t know you were dropping by.”

“Didn’t want to ruin the surprise,” Roan replied, taking a seat at the bar.
“Surprise?” Dylan asked, tossing his clean up towel beneath the bar. “Is it a good surprise or a bad one?”

Poor Dylan. He’d put him through so much over the years he couldn’t trust that any surprise Roan had was a good one. “Good, I hope. I guess that’s ultimately up to you.”

He was just being honest, but that earned Roan a suspicious raised eyebrow. “Why don’t I find that comforting?”

“’Cause you’re a suspicious person?”

“I’m not. You just love being cryptic.”

“I do not.” He paused dramatically. “Or do I?”

Dylan shook his head and chuckled faintly at his stupid joke. “I just walked into that one, didn’t I?”

“Little bit. But thanks for setting up such a softball for me. I love knocking those down.”

“Don’t I know it. Luis, you got this?”

Luis sighed like the world’s saddest martyr. “Oh, I suppose. It’s not like I have anyone to go home to.”

“Says the man who hates dating.,” Dylan noted, heading into the back.

“Just ‘cause I hate dating doesn’t mean I don’t get envious of you sickening couples sometimes,” Luis called after him. He then looked at Roan, and said, “No offense.”

“None taken?” Roan replied, making it a question mainly because he wasn’t sure there was anything offensive in that statement. Was he worried because he called them sickening? Frankly, Roan had been called worse within the last hour. Sickening was kind of a step up for him. Maybe not for Dyl, though.

Dylan came out of the back with his shirt and coat on, which was only fair, but still a tiny disappointment. He just looked so good shirtless. “So do you want me to follow you in my car, or should I lead the way?”

“Actually, I thought we might walk somewhere first.”

Dylan cocked his head curiously, but it was Luis who said, “Walk? Are you crazy? It’s after 2 AM. You know how dangerous that is?”

Roan glanced at Luis. “How am I not the most dangerous thing out there?”

Luis thought about that for a moment. “Good point. Well, have fun kids. If you kill a gaybasher, I’d appreciate you not mentioning me in the police report.”

“Me, talk to you?” Roan responded. “Never.”

Luis waved goodbye, and Dylan gave him one in return. Roan didn’t bother, mainly because he was keeping his part of the agreement about ignoring him, in case anything happened tonight. Not that anything would, or at least it better not. Roan was hoping he’d made the news enough that even the ridiculously stupid would think twice before messing with him.

The evening was surprisingly muggy, suggesting a storm was imminent, although the occasional breeze off the Puget Sound was vividly cold. As they walked together down darkened and surprisingly empty sidewalks – although, this being Seattle, there was still traffic on the road – Dylan asked, “Where exactly are we going, and why?”

“You’ll see,” Roan said, continuing to be cryptic.

Despite Luis’s fear, they managed the two blocks without being bothered by anyone, and when they crested that second block, Dylan saw which street they were on, and gave Roan a curious look. “So we’re going to Gracie’s? You couldn’t just tell me you were buying me dinner?”

“Well, there’s a little more to it than that.”

“Oh really? Like what?”

“Now where’s the fun in that? You need to guess more.” Roan smiled at Dylan’s frown. Yes, he was being something of a jackass and they both knew it, but Dylan was too used to this behavior by now to be truly annoyed. Not that he ever liked it, but he was learning to tolerate it. Maybe if they were together for a hundred years or so, Dylan would learn to ignore it completely.

Gracie’s was an all night diner that was a true greasy spoon, which meant there was actually little food here that vegetarian Dyl could eat. Still, it was open, and it wasn’t a fast food place, so it would always have that in its favor. And even though the bars had closed, and that was a boom time for Gracie’s, there were only a couple guys tucked into back booths, either too tired or too wasted to look at all enthusiastic about the hamburgers and diesel grade coffee they were shoveling into their mouths.

As they took a booth by the window, Dylan asked, “Okay, I’m too tired to guess, so stop with the cryptic nonsense and tell me what this is about before I banish you to the sofa for the night.”

Ooh, he was pulling out the big guns. Dyl was slow to anger, but you still knew when he was pissed off. “Tell me, what day is it?”

He gave Roan a look that suggested he was pretty much at the end of his patience. “It’s the fourteenth. No, wait, it’s 2 AM, so it’s the fifteenth …” he trailed off, and his eyes widened slightly as he got it. “Oh hell, it’s our anniversary.”

Roan gave him a small, lazy smile. “Yep. And while this wasn’t the first place we met, it was the first place we really bonded, so what better place to have an anniversary dinner?” Roan reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small vinyl pouch, which he put on the table between them.

Dylan gave him the curious eyebrow again, before reaching for the pouch. “What’s this? Did you buy me something frilly?”

“No, that’s waiting at home,” Roan teased.

Dylan opened the pouch, and gasped and smiled as he pulled out the leather corded bracelet with the weird iron charm on it, that looked like a spring warped, smashed flat, and left out on a sea wall for about a hundred years. Roan didn’t get it, but he didn’t get about eighty percent of the art world Dyl exposed him to. The fact that he liked about twenty percent of it was probably a surprise to the both of them. “No way. This is an Etem?”

“I noticed how much you loved his stuff. I can be slow on the uptake sometimes, but I’m not a complete idiot.” Etem Brankovic – and there was no way in hell that Etem was his real name – was an artist who worked in metal, and that included making masculine jewelry that had a bit of a macho junkyard feel to it. Dylan had dragged him to one of his shows a couple of months ago, and while Roan didn’t get it, he knew Dyl was thrilled by it. That was the give and take of a relationship. Dylan put up with Roan’s cartoon watching, and Roan put up with Dylan’s love of art that seemed inexplicable.

Dylan studied the bracelet, grinning the entire time, but when he looked at him again, he grimaced. “This was probably too much …”

“Not as much as you might think. He’s a fan of your work. And hey, you don’t ask the price. That’s just rude. It’s a gift, so accept it.”

Dylan slipped it on his wrist, then stood up, reached over the table, and gave him a big, passionate kiss. “You are the sweetest man. I tell my friends this, and they never believe me.”

“That’s because I’m a member of the fascist bourgeoisie to them.”

“Aww. But you’re my bourgeoisie,” Dyl said, giving him a kiss on the forehead. He then sat back and admired his new bracelet.

“So comforting,” Roan replied, unable to keep from smiling. He never meant to bring so much trouble into Dylan’s life, so he was glad when he could make him happy. It felt like atonement. “So where’s my gift?”

“At home,” Dylan replied, giving him a warm smile. “Might be more than one.”

“Show off.”

Dylan clasped Roan’s hands over the top of the table. “Happy anniversary, sweetheart.”

Roan held his hands tightly, and knew he was goddamn lucky. “Happy anniversary, hon.”

And while it might be weird to some that they were celebrating it in a greasy spoon at two in the morning, Roan thought this was one of the best anniversaries he had ever had.

———————————————————————————————

Read more about Roan and Dylan’s friendship in the Infected series.

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – Slice of Heaven by Anne Barwell

May 30, 2013

So much for romance. This trip was officially a total disaster. Sean Henderson took a deep breath and poked his head into the men’s room. “You okay in there?” he asked.

He was answered by the unmistakable sound of someone being violently ill.  “Yeah, peachy,” Jason Adams replied. “I enjoy puking like this. I can’t wait to do it again.”

Sean winced. One thing he’d noticed early in their relationship was that Jason completely lost his brain to mouth filters when he wasn’t feeling well. “I’ll wait outside then, shall I?” he mumbled.

He waited a few minutes just outside the door then decided he needed some fresh air. The door out to the deck wasn’t that far from the men’s room. If Jason didn’t join him in a few minutes, Sean would go check on him again.

A few deep breaths of brisk sea air and Sean already began to feel more peaceful. He’d thought that taking Jason on the ferry to Picton would be a great way to celebrate their second anniversary together, especially as he knew Jason hadn’t been on a boat before. He’d asked Jason whether they still used boats in the future but Jason had shrugged and said he’d never seen the appeal of them.

The motor of the Arahura hummed beneath his feet as waves crashed into the side of the boat. Sean leaned against the railing and looked out into Cook Strait but his thoughts wandered elsewhere. The last two years had gone by so quickly, but there were moments when he still had trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that the man he loved was a time traveller. Jason had ignored the parameters of the assignment he’d been given and risked his life to save Sean. While Jason wasn’t very forthcoming about details of the time from which he came because of risk to the timelines, occasionally the odd hint about what it was like in the future slipped out.  Sean didn’t push for information; with the second chance of life he’d been given and, more importantly, a life with Jason, he figured he owed the universe enough already without pushing his luck too far.

Life was good. Sean’s music career still hadn’t taken off, but he earned enough from playing the occasional gig with a couple of local bands to supplement his income from the cafe, and he was still composing. Jason had decided to study history at Victoria University, although he still wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the degree, and Ruth had offered him part time work at the cafe.

“Sorry about before.” Jason slipped his arms around Sean from behind, and nuzzled at his neck. “I’m not a nice person when I’m sick.”

“I kind of figured that one out, yeah. I don’t take it personally.” Sean smiled as Jason’s embrace tightened. “Feeling any better? We should be through the strait in about another five minutes and that’s always the worst of it.”

“My stomach’s still queasy but I don’t think I’ve got anything left to bring up,” Jason said. “It’s much better out here in the fresh air too.”

“I’ve always found that.” Sean turned to face him. Jason still looked a little green, but he managed a smile which was a step in the right direction. “I’m sorry for suggesting this trip. I thought it would be something you’d enjoy.”

“You had no way of knowing I’d be sick.” Jason pulled a face. “If I have to get on one of these ferries again it will be too soon.”

“You’ll have to brave it again this evening,” Sean pointed out, wishing he hadn’t when Jason’s face fell.

“Oh crap.” Jason’s pallor paled further. “I don’t suppose we could swap the ferry for the hovercraft crossing, could we?”

“We don’t have hovercraft crossings yet.”

Jason groaned. “Of course we don’t.” He lunged suddenly for the railing and threw up over the side.

It was a good thing they were on the lower deck so all he’d done was feed the fish.

“Do you want me to get you something to settle your stomach?” Sean rubbed comforting circles over Jason’s back. “It will be over soon, I promise.”

“Kia Ora.” Both men turned at the sound of a woman’s voice. An older Māori woman smiled kindly at them. “You don’t look well, tama. Try some of this. It will help.” She held out a paper bag. “A couple of my tamariki aren’t good sailors. This works a treat for them.”

“Thanks.” Jason took a piece of what appeared to be some kind of dried fruit from the bag, popped in into his mouth and chewed. “It tastes good. What is it?”

“Crystallised ginger,” the woman said. “Take a few more, in case you need them.” She gave him an approving look when he took her up on her suggestion. “Make sure to drink plenty of water too.” She gave them a nod. “I hope you feel better soon. E noho rā.”

“Goodbye and thanks.” Sean replied in English not wanting to insult her with bad pronunciation after she’d been so kind.

“Can we sit down?” Jason grabbed at the railing. He shivered. “It’s cold out here, but I’d prefer that and a bit of rain than going back inside again.”

“Sure.” Sean helped Jason to one of the seats. It was only spitting and they both wore jackets. “I’m not leaving you.” The little sun there was highlighted the hint of red hiding amongst Jason’s blond locks. Jason rested his head on Sean’s shoulder and made a contented noise when Sean stroked his hair. “Feeling better?” Sean asked.

“Yeah.” Jason snuggled in closer. “You must really love me to put up with this crap,” he murmured.

“Yeah,” Sean whispered, kissing the top of Jason’s head. “I really do.”

*+*

“I can see why you wanted to come here,” Jason admitted. He took another swig from his water bottle. “It’s peaceful and beautiful.”

Sean stretched his legs out and leaned back on the bench seat they were sharing. They’d found one near the waterfront with a good view of Picton Harbour, and the small boats moored in the marina. Surrounding the town in the near distance were green hills, behind Sean and Jason a play area and the couple of streets that made up the shopping area. “Worth the seasickness?” he asked. He took off his glasses and polished them on the hem of his shirt.

“Don’t push it,” Jason said. He laughed in case Sean got the idea he was serious. “You’ll have to put up with me being a total coward getting back on the damn thing though.”

“The weather’s eased off so it’s supposed to be a much smoother sailing going back,” Sean said. “We can sit outside and kiss under the moonlight.”

“You’re just trying to distract me and lead me into temptation.”

“Is it working?”

“Yeah.” Jason leaned in and kissed Sean. “Although I might need some practise to get in the mood. Dutch courage and all that.”

Sean laughed. “I thought that was supposed to refer to alcohol. Or is that another one of those pop culture things you still haven’t got quite right?”

“I’m much better than I was with that stuff,” Jason pointed out. He attempted a pathetic hangdog expression but Sean just rolled his eyes. He rubbed his leg against Sean’s, enjoying the warmth of Sean’s body through his jeans. However much time Jason spent in the sun his skin never tanned the way Sean’s did. But then, that probably had something to do with the fact Sean wouldn’t let him venture out without slathering himself in sun block first, despite Jason’s insistence that he was used to the lack of ozone layer and that it was way worse in his own time.

It had been easier to adapt to the twenty-first century than he thought it would be.  While a lot of things had changed, there was much that hadn’t, and people were still people whenever they lived. It was something he’d learnt very quickly after joining the Tempus Institute. Having Sean to guide him had helped, and the fact he was very patient with Jason’s many questions. That was one of the things he loved about Sean, his patience and willingness to help out wherever he could. Jason had never regretted his decision to stay with him and make a life in Wellington. There were days he missed his family and friends, especially his father and Alisha, but he’d expected that. He was where and when he belonged and with the man he loved, and that was what mattered.

“Penny for them?” Sean said softly. “You’ve got that far away look again like you’re literally years away. I can listen if you want to talk.”

Jason linked their hands together and stroked Sean’s thumb. “I was thinking about how much my life has changed.” He shrugged. “I was never much for doing stuff the proper way, and I used to get into a lot of trouble for it at the Institute. I only read case files when I had to and as much as I had to. I figured that last assignment was probably my final chance before I got booted down to the stacks room to spend the rest of my days doing research.” He shivered at the thought. “James threatened me with it once before and he’s not one for idle threats.”

“James was your boss, yeah?”

“Yeah.” It was crazy but some days Jason kind of missed him too. “If someone had told me I’d end up as a full time student and handing assignments in on time―mostly―I wouldn’t have believed it.”

“You’re getting good grades. I’m proud of you. You’re working hard.”

“Yeah, after you kicked me up the arse for failing that first paper I took.” Jason winced at the memory. He’d seriously had to readjust some of his attitude after that one, but Sean knew what motivated him and wasn’t above using it to get results.

“I made it up to you later, though.” Sean grinned and slowly licked his lips.

“Keep doing that and I won’t have to worry about that ferry trip. We’ll both be arrested for indecent exposure and having sex in a public place.”

“So not the way I was planning to spend our anniversary.” Sean looked down for a moment. “I wanted this day to be perfect, you know? The last two years have been weird, but in a good way. It’s not every day that a guy finds out he was supposed to die.”

“You weren’t supposed to die.” Jason squeezed Sean’s hand. “I told you what Alisha said. That we’d put things right, the way it was supposed to be.” He cleared his throat and whistled a familiar tune. Slow Dreaming. The song that had haunted Jason for years, and Sean had finished writing after they’d first met. Time travel could be weird at times. It had no concept at all of doing things in the right order.

“Being with you feels like it’s supposed to be.” Sean stood bringing Jason with him. “We have a couple of hours until the evening sailing. I’d like to look around the shops and find somewhere nice for dinner.”

“Are you sure dinner’s a good idea?” Jason glanced warily toward the wharf where the Kaitaki would be docking in a few hours before it took them home.

“Yeah.  Something light on your stomach will help.” Sean pulled Jason toward across the grass toward the shops. “Come on.”

“I’m coming.” Jason gave into the temptation and gave Sean a light whack on his backside. Damn he looked good in those tight jeans. Jason couldn’t wait to get him out of them once they did finally get home.

*+*

The view from Pencarrow Head, sailing into Wellington, at night was amazing. Sean heard Jason’s breath hitch when he saw the city lights in the distance. The mixture of colours had always reminded Sean of a Christmas tree. “This is why I wanted to take the later sailing home,” he told Jason. “I wanted you to see this.”

“Wow,” Jason said. He turned from the railing toward Sean, his face lit up with excitement. “They’re beautiful. Thank you.”

They were alone on the top deck as it was a chilly night, but thankfully the weather was otherwise behaving itself. The return sailing had been much smoother and Jason had been able to enjoy the trip. The sunlight had lasted long enough for him to take some photos of the Marlborough Sounds and enjoy the unspoilt scenery.

Jason kissed Sean deeply, cupping his buttocks to pull him into a close embrace. “They might be beautiful,” he murmured in Sean’s ear, “but they’re not a patch on you. You’re hot.”

“Ummm,” Sean mumbled. Although Jason told him that regularly, he still couldn’t see it, but had found out it didn’t pay to argue too much. Besides, he kind of liked hearing it even it did make him blush.

His hand went to the jade pendant around his neck. Jason had bought it for him in Picton as an anniversary present. Sean had wanted their anniversary to be special. The ferry excursion had only been the first part of it, but now he’d got to the really important bit, it was much more difficult to say the words than he’d first thought.

“Penny for them,” Jason said. “I can see the steam from here.” He frowned. “There’s nothing wrong, is there? I’ve enjoyed today, it was a good idea. I didn’t mean to ruin it earlier by being sick.”

“I know you didn’t.” Sean pulled away from Jason. He’d always told himself that when he did this, he’d do it properly. He knew it was probably old fashioned but he suspected Jason would appreciate the gesture.

“Sean?”

Sean swallowed. He took Jason’s hand in his own, and knelt on one knee on the deck. “I love you. Will you marry me?” he asked, his voice hoarse with emotion.

“Marry you?” Jason didn’t let go of Sean’s hand but instead knelt next to him. “You really want that?”

“I wouldn’t be asking otherwise.” Sean met Jason’s gaze, trying to get some kind of clue of what was going on in his lover’s mind. “We can get married legally now, so yeah, I want to.”

Jason’s mouth opened and closed. He was shaking.

Then he kissed Sean hard, and embraced him, clinging to him. “Oh, Sean,” he whispered.

“Is that a yes?” Sean felt a cold chill go through him. What if Jason said no? Did they still get married where he came from? He’d never said much about it. “I just thought… when the marriage equality bill passed the first thing I thought of was asking you. I just wanted… Oh God. I wanted this to be the right time. I wanted it to be perfect.”

“Sean, it’s okay. Slow down.” Jason said softly. “This is perfect. I love you.” He caressed Sean’s cheek and smiled. “I’d thought the same thing but I wasn’t sure I should ask.”

“So that kiss?”

“Yeah, that kiss,” Jason said. “That was me saying yes.”

*+*

Author’s note:

Māori translations:

Kia Ora, hello (informal greeting)

Tama, young man

Tamariki, children

E noho rā, goodbye.

There’s more information about the Wellington to Picton voyage and the ferries here:

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Read more about Sean and Jason in Slow Dreaming.

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – The Icing on the Cake by Harry K. Malone

May 30, 2013

Mark tugged at his bowtie, wondering if he had tied it too tight.  He wasn’t sure he was able to breathe properly.  He moved in front of the giant mirror that leaned against the freshly painted wall of their bedroom.  He checked his hair, and though it didn’t need any additional styling, he smoothed it into place out of habit.  Then he tugged on the ends of the tie, not quite unraveling it but loosening it a little.  If he could just get some air, everything would be fine.

Despite the lack of oxygen, he looked good.  Damn good.  The Ralph Lauren Black Label was the right choice.  It was elegant and modern, perfect for Mark’s smart, all-American style.  He’d gone with a plain black tie and an understated white pocket square.  Nothing too loud for a day like this.  There were going to be pictures, after all, and they’d last forever.

Ross was wearing a Dolce and Gabbana jacket that was trimmed in velvet.  It would work on him, since the style they’d been cultivating for him was a little rougher, a little edgier than Mark’s.  But Mark had made certain their outfits would coordinate.  After all, everyone would be seeing them together.

The bowtie had somehow gotten tighter again.  Mark tugged furiously, and it came undone.  Gaping at his reflection in the mirror, he clutched it, wondering if it was a conspiracy.  Maybe the designer had made it out of especially slippery fabric.  Or maybe Mark was developing adult onset asthma.  Did such a thing exist?

As he gulped in a lungful of air, two hands slid around the smooth fabric of his jacket, and a solid body pressed into him from behind.  “You going without the tie?” Ross asked.  He nipped Mark’s earlobe.  “I like the look.”

“I told you not to see me until I said I was ready!” Mark protested, but Ross squeezed him tighter.  His hands began wandering farther south.

“Six months, Swoop,” Ross reminded them both.  “We’ve officially been together for six months.”

“Nine if you count from when we first started dating.”

“I thought we agreed to count from when we came out.”

Mark shrugged.  Either way, it had been several months, and his entire life had changed.  He was off the television series he’d starred in for four years, he had come out to the whole world, and he was standing in the bedroom of the brand new house he’d just bought with his boyfriend.

He undid the top button on his shirt, so he could get a little more air.  His neck looked a little red.

“Mm, even hotter,” Ross drawled.  He caught Mark’s eyes in the mirror.  “You okay?”

“Fine,” Mark lied.

Ross gave him a look that said he didn’t believe it.  It was one of the things Mark had first noticed about Ross, one of the reasons why he’d fallen in love with him.  Other people either bought his act or, at least, didn’t call him out on it.  But not Ross.  As much as Mark liked being challenged, that was another problem.  He plucked Ross’s hands off his waist and pushed them back to their owner.

“O-ka-ay,” Ross singsonged.  He turned to leave the room.

Mark thought he was off the hook.  He looked at his reflection once more.  Without the bow tie and with the shirt open, he did look hotter.  Yeah, that was the right look.  The bow tie had been way too stuffy and formal anyway.  This was better for summer.

Ross poked his head in the door.  “If it’s too soon, you should have just said something.  It’s way too late to cancel now.”

“I know.”

“And everyone will be disappointed if we don’t show up.”

“I know.”

“So get over it.  Ten minute warning.”

Mark scratched his neck.  His blunt fingernails left red streaks stretching toward his chin.  He cursed himself, adjusted the shirt collar to cover it, squirted on a little more Egoïste to cover his sweat smell, and steeled himself.  It had been six months, after all, and it was his idea in the first place.  And he loved Ross Lockhart with all his heart and soul.  He could do this.

* * * * *

On the way inside the room where the ceremony would take place, they passed the reception area.  The caterers were already covering tables with white linen cloths and arranging flowers on top.  One table near the door held the three-tiered cake that would be cut into after dinner.  When Mark saw it, his heart began racing again.

“I need some air.”  He hurried away from the cake, away from Ross, to the safety of the terrace.  A few yards down, two guys were smoking, but the breeze was carrying the smell in the opposite direction.  Mark leaned on the railing and took a few deep breaths.  A moment later, he felt a hand gently rubbing circles on his back, and he knew without opening his eyes it was Ross.

“You know, this was your idea,” Ross murmured.  It wasn’t accusatory.

“I know.”

“You’re the one who proposed to me.”

“I know.”

“So you want to tell me why you’re the one who’s freaking out right now?”

“It’s not you,” Mark assured him.  He turned to look at Ross, whose piercing blue eyes radiated with sympathy and understanding.  “You know that, right?  I love you.”

“I know,” Ross echoed, giving Mark his patented crooked smile.  He shifted to Mark’s left, and they both leaned against the railing – giving them a direct view through the French doors into the reception hall.  “It’s only been six months since your divorce was finalized.  I know it’s hard.  I shouldn’t have pushed you.”

Mark hadn’t made a single comparison to this day and his first wedding day, when a bride in white was at his side.  “I wasn’t even thinking about Alex,” he admitted.

“Oh, so it’s all me then?”  Ross shook his head.

“Hey, you’re the one who turned me down,” Mark reminded them both.

“I’m here, aren’t I?”

Mark didn’t know what to say in response, and they lapsed into silence.  The past year had been a whirlwind, the past six months even more so.  His swift courtship with Ross had completely upset his life, and now he was standing in a tuxedo, waiting for a wedding to start.

“Why did you propose?” Ross asked.  “I mean, I think I know why you did, but I want to know why you think you did.”

Mark ran a hand through his swoop of bangs and then smoothed them back into place.  He squinted as the sun peeked through the trees.  He’d left his Louis Vuitton sunglasses in the car, since he’d thought they’d be indoors all afternoon.

He didn’t have time to answer Ross’s question before Sam Ledbetter, a former cast mate, came through the French doors.  “Mark!” Sam called.  “I am so glad to see you.”

“Hey, Sam.”  He came forward into a hug.  “Sam, you remember Ross Lockhart.”

Sam shook Ross’s hand with a grin.  “Of course.  We met last year in New York, at the upfronts.  I feel like I know you better than that, though, since…”

Ross returned the smile easily.  “Since I’ve been all over the tabloids with Mark?” he guessed.  “Don’t tell me you read that stuff.”

Sam shook his head.  He didn’t, Mark knew.  Sam was a classy guy whose personal life was usually kept private and who wanted the same for his friends.  “Since Mark started going on and on about you,” Sam corrected.  “And since we sat near each other at the Golden Globes.”

“Oh, right,” Ross remembered.  Mark wondered if he was nervous, too.  It wasn’t like Ross to forget his first time attending an awards ceremony.

“So,” Sam said, “it’s the big day.”

“Yes, it is,” Mark agreed.

Sam let out a shaky breath.  “I can’t believe this is happening.”  He looked between Ross and Mark.  “I’m really getting married, aren’t I?”

Mark looked at Sam carefully.  He appeared nervous on the surface, but underneath was a kind of serenity and happiness Mark had never seen in him before.  Marrying Corey was going to be the best thing that had ever happened to him.

And marrying Ross would be the best thing that ever happened to Mark.  If Ross would agree to it.  There was no need to be afraid of being seen at Sam and Corey’s wedding, he realized.  People had already seen him and Ross together – in the tabloids, at the Golden Globes, at Mark’s birthday dinner in early March.  Maybe watching Sam and Corey get married would remind Mark of his own wedding to Alex, but maybe it would make him think about what a wedding between him and Ross might be like.  Either way, with Ross was at his side, holding his hand and offering him reassurances, there was nothing to fear.

“Yes, you are,” Mark told Sam.  “Isn’t it about time to get in there?  We should probably get our seats before the place fills up.”

“I’m sure someone is looking for me.”  Sam shrugged.  He squeezed Mark’s hand and patted Ross cordially on the shoulder.  “Wish me luck.”

“You won’t need it,” Mark predicted.  Once Sam was gone, he turned to Ross.  “That.”  He pointed toward the French doors.  “That is why I proposed.  That look on his face.”

“It’s only been six months.”

Suddenly Ross’s tender reassurance made a lot more sense.  Ross was scared, too.  Mark sometimes forgot that Ross had his own fears and insecurities, since Ross tended to let Mark be the basket case in their relationship.

“I didn’t – I don’t mean this to hurt your feelings, so bear with me here, okay?  But I didn’t think this was where my life was going to go.  I thought I’d always be alone, and maybe sometimes date, probably get laid a lot, but I didn’t expect that this would happen.”

“What’s ‘this’?” Mark asked.

“Falling in love with you.  Totally, madly, deeply.”  Ross was conveniently looking in a different direction when he said it.  “Wanting to have a whole life with you.  Not just some new house, but all the messy stuff – taxes and health directives and whose turn is it to wash the dirty socks.  I guess as much as I want all that, I’m scared of it, too.”

“You don’t have to be scared alone,” Mark promised him.

“I want this,” Ross pledged.  He gestured toward the French doors.  “I want that.”

“So let’s do it.  Maybe we’re not ready to get married, but we can still do the messy stuff.  We already have the house –”

“That you paid for.”

“And your name is on it.  We can register as domestic partners.”

Ross grinned.  “How is that different than getting married?”

Mark shrugged.  “We don’t have to cut a cake in front of people?”

“No top tier with two grooms?”

Apart from today’s little freak-out, Mark’s ease at accepting his newfound homosexuality had surprised even him, but a double groom cake topper was maybe a line too far.  Next he and Ross would be swapping clothes and feeding each other and calling each other “honey boo” in public.

“You know I want to marry you, don’t you?” Ross said.  “I’ve wanted to since we started dating.”

Mark leaned into Ross’s chest and let himself be embraced.  “It was back in July for me,” he confessed.  “I knew then.”

“When we were just roommates?  Before you knew how awesome I was at blow jobs?”

“The blowjobs are just the icing on the cake.”

Ross kissed Mark’s temple as the string quartet inside began to play.  “Do you need to get out of here, or are you up to a little more stifling romance?”

“What are you thinking?”

“Well, I’m not sure, but usually at these things, the bride tosses the bouquet.”  Ross raised his eyebrows lecherously.  “I can be a good catcher when I want to be.”

That was true.  He was a pretty good pitcher, too.

“There’s also dancing,” Ross said enticingly.

“We can’t dance together.”

“Why not?  There are, like, five other gay couples in there.  Sam invited you, and he knew you were bringing me.”

“Yeah, but…”  Mark’s chest grew tight again.  At this rate, he would never get to see his happily ever after with Ross because he’d be dead of a heart attack before he was thirty.

“Dance with me out here then?”  Ross didn’t wait for his answer.  He put one arm around Mark’s waist and took Mark’s hand in his own.  They shuffled along awkwardly to the strains of the music coming from inside.  “I should warn you that I’m terrible.  Nightclub playing Kelly Clarkson remixes, I can do.  But this fancy stuff…one time I had a football coach who made us all take lessons.  He said the footwork would help us on the field.  I looked like an elephant trying to walk the tightrope.”

“I suck at that club stuff, but this I can do,” Mark told him.  “Let me lead.”

“Don’t try to dip me.  I will kill you.”

Mark felt the subtle shift as Ross let his body become pliable.  Mark was in charge for this moment, the one making sure they didn’t look stupid and didn’t step on each other’s toes, and it occurred to him that their relationship was like this dance.  Ross took the lead when Mark panicked about the future, and Mark took over for the little day-to-day stuff Ross didn’t know how to do.  There was symmetry in that.  Or maybe symbiosis.

“Why, Mr. Lawler,” Ross teased, “you’re very talented.”

“I have a good partner.”  He made Ross spin under his arm and then reeled him in close.

“So do I.”  Ross held his gaze seriously.  “Domestic partnership now.  Marriage when it’s legal, and in the mean time it sure looks and feels like a marriage to me.  And no freaking out.  I don’t want to be seen with someone with a rash all over his neck.”

“How did you…?”

“Happy anniversary, Swoop.”

“Happy anniversary, Spike.”  Mark let the dance slip away as he folded Ross into a tight embrace.  He felt a little silly that he’d panicked at the idea of bringing Ross here.  Maybe he’d have to accept that he’d always have moments of panic over their relationship.  Maybe it was the result of thinking he was straight for his entire life.  But it didn’t mean he didn’t love Ross, and it didn’t mean his proposal hadn’t been genuine.  And wedding or not, the idea of the two of them together, helping each other out with their different strengths, leaning on each other when they were weak, in a real partnership – yeah, that he could do.   Forever.

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Read more about Mark and Ross in The Hollywood Version.

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – Intimate Territory by Nicki Bennet & Ariel Tachna

May 29, 2013

Blaise Risner laughed as he led his lover and partner, Peter Keller, back into the hotel Peter had convinced him to splurge on during their stay on Regulus. They’d spent the day browsing the infamous pleasure bazaar, and Blaise couldn’t wait to get back to their rooms so they could put their new acquisitions to good use.

He pushed open the door, stepped inside, and froze. Instead of the simple but elegant decorations that had adorned the room that morning, he stood in a boudoir that seemed to be modeled on the fabled harem of the Orion emperors. The comfortable but utilitarian bed had been replaced by, or at least hidden beneath, a mound of plushly decadent body pillows. A gauzy veil draped from the ceiling around the bedding, seeming to serve little purpose in the climate-controlled suite but to provide the opportunity for glimpsing a lover’s naked body through its shimmering folds. Scented tapers provided the room’s only light as well as adding a heady, sensual fragrance. To one side of the bed stood a tray overflowing with delicacies to tempt the palate and a flask of deep ruby liquor beside two ornately etched goblets.

Blaise automatically took a step backward, intending to check the room number. He couldn’t imagine the door opening if they weren’t in the right suite, but he knew the room hadn’t looked like this when they left that morning. The movement took him directly into Peter’s embrace. Even in his puzzlement, the feeling of those strong arms going around him heated his blood, especially since it was already on a low simmer from all the discussions over the course of the day about the different toys and all the things Peter would do to him when they had time and privacy. “Peter?”

Nudging Blaise forward gave Peter the chance to rub his arousal against his lover’s firm backside, and Blaise’s puzzlement didn’t stop him from pressing against the hard shaft. Peter indulged himself in the contact for a moment before leaning forward to nip at the side of Blaise’s neck. “Unless you want to continue this here in the hallway, I suggest moving inside.”

Blaise stepped far enough into the room for the door to close behind them. He wasn’t necessarily opposed to a bit of exhibitionism, but he’d prefer to do it in a more controlled manner. “Not that I’m complaining, but what’s with the décor?”

“You don’t like it?’ Peter cocked an eyebrow before tossing their parcel of purchases onto the bed, where it was swallowed up in the sea of pillows. “Not that I object to sharing the captain’s bunk with you on the Stallion, but I thought you might appreciate a bit more comfort tonight.”

“I’ll never say no to comfort,” Blaise replied automatically as he turned to face Peter, “and it looks amazing in here, but why tonight? Or is this just for the hell of it?”

The appreciative gleam in his partner’s eyes convinced Peter that he’d definitely plan something like this just for the hell of it at some point in the future, but he managed what he hoped was a convincing scowl. “You don’t remember what tonight is? After I juggled our supply schedule to be sure we’d make it to Regulus in time? And made all these arrangements over the comm while you were asleep in order to surprise you?” He shook his head. “I’m surprised at you, Risner.”

Blaise racked his brain, trying to figure out what they could possibly be celebrating. “It’s not the anniversary of my arrest,” he said. “That passed while I was still trying to find you when you ran off to Petarus without me. It’s not your birthday or mine. It hasn’t been a year since we finally worked things out, so it can’t be that. I’m sorry, Peter. You obviously went to great lengths to put this together, and I really appreciate it, but I don’t know what we’re celebrating.” He was babbling and he knew it, but he hated disappointing Peter. He had no trouble angering him, seducing him, teasing him, playing any and every kind of game with him, sating him and being sated by him, but he folded like a house of cards at the first sign that he had not lived up to Peter’s expectations.

Dropping his feigned irritation, Peter drew Blaise closer, sliding his arms down until he could cup his pirate’s—or rather, privateer’s—delectable ass. “I didn’t appreciate what I had when you first showed up on the North Star,” he admitted. “I saw your obvious attractions, but nothing beyond that. It took a while for me get my head out of my ass long enough to recognize how much more there was to you, and how much you were starting to mean to me.” Before Blaise could speak, he covered the opened lips with his own, his tongue sweeping in to claim Blaise’s in a heated duel that left them both gulping for breath when he finally pulled away. “Not that I had any intention of letting you see that at the time.”

Blaise’s head was spinning from the kiss and from Peter’s hands on his ass. Peter had him well trained. At the first sign of his lover’s attentions, he went fully hard and ready for whatever Peter had in store for him next. He’d actually been surprised to get out of the room that morning without one toy or another inserted in or affixed to some part of his body. Maybe this was why. He cast his mind back over the previous year, trying to remember the nights leading up to him making the connection between the mysterious attacks on Confederation outposts and the Gavenelians who had held him captive and tortured him for six months. “The night you first asked me to stay,” he said after a moment. “The first time I felt like your lover and not just your fucktoy.” He rubbed against Peter’s hip, letting his lover feel his arousal and by extension his willingness for anything Peter had in mind. “Instead of bending me over the nearest flat surface, you took me to bed and made love to me. That’s what we’re celebrating, isn’t it?”

Peter’s grip tightened on Blaise’s ass, his cock already hard enough to tempt him to rip the clothes from that delectable body, throw him onto the pillows, and fuck him through them, just the way Blaise described it. But if he’d learned anything since his lover found him licking his wounds on Petarus, it was that there were times when talking really did need to take precedence over sex. He’d just have to talk quickly.

“On your birthday, when I offered you anything you wanted and you asked for just me, I started to hope we’d moved beyond my forcing you, though I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t simply a ploy to avoid having to endure any of the toys. But that night—this night—watching you sleep in my bed, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I might not have been sure what it meant to you, but I knew what it meant to me.”

“I was scared that night,” Blaise admitted. “I’d slipped up and called you by name because you’d stopped being Admiral Keller and had become Peter in my head, even if I couldn’t let you see it, but that night, you weren’t the sadistic bastard of an admiral, at least not once you started fucking me, and I let my guard slip. I don’t think I ever got it all the way back up. So this is our anniversary celebration?” He loosened his hold on Peter enough to look back over the exotic boudoir Peter had arranged to set up. “Shouldn’t you be taking me to bed then?”

“Still thinking you give the orders,” Peter grumbled, though no one hearing him would believe he was truly complaining. He moved forward, walking Blaise backward with a thigh between his legs, grinding their groins together with each step. He wanted to watch the silky netting around the bed whisper over Blaise’s honeyed skin, but his lover had entirely too many clothes on for that to happen. Just before they reached the gauzy veil, he stopped and took a step back, one hand settling on his hip and the other slipping into his pocket. “Strip,” he ordered in the tone his crew on the North Star had learned to dread.

For Blaise, though, that tone evoked none of the same foreboding. For him, it was a harbinger of things to come. Sometimes painful, but always powerfully arousing and ultimately mind-blowing things. Wearing the cocky grin that had earned him more than one punishment aboard the North Star, Blaise ran his hands up over his chest, making a show of undoing the buttons on his shirt one at a time, even though he could have pulled it over his head after the first two.

Peter widened his stance at the provocative striptease, though the shipsuit he wore was nowhere near as constraining as his Confederation uniform. His first glimpse of Blaise’s chest had the same effect, regardless. When Blaise let the fabric slide down his arms, baring the two rings adorning his dusky nipples—the one he’d pierced after he escaped from the Gavenelians, the other placed there by Peter himself—Peter started releasing his own fasteners, but he didn’t move any nearer. “The rest of it too,” he prodded when Blaise paused, eyeing him with what Peter no longer had any doubt was equal hunger.

Blaise dropped the shirt to the ground and popped the button on his trousers. When he was sure he had Peter’s attention, he shimmied out of them as well until he stood before his lover completely nude and utterly unabashed, his erection jutting out in front of him eagerly. “Your turn,” he drawled. “Can’t fuck me senseless if you’re still dressed.”

“Maybe I want to enjoy the view first,” Peter answered, though he shucked his own clothes quickly enough. After letting his gaze run the length of Blaise’s lean body—he might see it every day now, but it still never failed to impress—he took a step forward and ran a hand up the toned chest, pausing to tweak the nipple the bore his ring. Then he flattened his palm and gave Blaise a push backward. The fluttering curtain brushed over Blaise’s skin, the sight every bit as arousing as Peter had imagined it to be, before Blaise landed on the mounded pillows with a bit of a bounce.

“That was strange.” Blaise reached up to finger the sheer fabric with a puzzled look on his face. “It kind of tingled.”

Peter frowned at the small remote in his other hand. “The shopkeeper I bought it from didn’t mention that side effect. Is it painful?”

Blaise ran the palm of his hand over the cloth this time. “No, not painful. Tingly, like the way the lightning of Petarus leaves the air feeling charged when the storms come at night.” They had slipped out into the storms, one memorable night, making love beneath the pounding rain, bodies singing from the contact and from the electricity in the air. He looked up at Peter for a moment before reaching out for his lover with the cloth still in his hand. He pressed his palm to the unscarred side of Peter’s chest, letting the effect of the fabric add to his touch.

Shaking his head, Peter bounced the remote in his palm. Not that Blaise’s touch wasn’t potent enough on its own, but…. “It won’t work on me. It’s already taken a sensor scan of your bioreadings—that must have been the tingle you felt—and adapted itself to your metabolism.” He thumbed a control on the remote and cocked an eyebrow at Blaise, appraising the effect. The device was supposed to be painless, and while neither he nor Blaise was averse to an occasional nip of pain with their pleasure, it wasn’t a part of Peter’s plans for the night. He nudged the setting a fraction higher, his gaze never leaving Blaise’s face. “Enough to generate a mild stasis field.”

“New and inventive ways to tie me up?” Blaise teased. He didn’t try to fight the confinement. He never had other than for show, but tonight he didn’t even bother with that. “You could always just order me into whatever position you want me in, you know.”

“And since when have you ever followed orders?” Peter retorted, pausing a moment to appreciate the contrast of Blaise’s golden skin against the white pillows before moving close enough to trace the muscle of Blaise’s thigh with his fingertips. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he felt an echo of the tingle Blaise had mentioned quiver up his arm, and he dropped to one knee, caressing the other leg to judge if it caused the same effect.

Blaise was terrible at following orders, but only because he knew Peter loved it when he acted up. Even at his worst, he’d only done it when it hadn’t mattered. When it had been a matter of life or death, he’d listened and done what was expected of him. “Where’s the fun in blindly obeying every word that comes out of your mouth?” Blaise teased. He tried to move his leg, if only to spread his thighs farther apart in invitation, but the stasis field held, sending showers of electricity up his limbs whenever he tried to move or whenever Peter touched him, and all he could do was lie in place and wait upon Peter’s whim. The thought left him far more hot and bothered than it should have.

“That’s why I have to find toys like this,” Peter explained while running both hands up the insides of Blaise’s thighs. If the frisson of excitement that coursed through his nerves at the touch was anything like what Blaise was feeling, this would prove a sweet torment for both of them. The flutter of Blaise’s eyelids suggested the sensation was at least as strong for him too. “You’ll just have to lie there and take whatever I give you.” Leaning forward, he nipped at the woven ring that marked Blaise as his, sending sparks dancing along his synapses like the ionized dust in the Varian asteroid cloud. He closed his lips over the pierced nipple, a purr of pleasure rumbling from his throat at the jolt of awareness that flowed through them both.

“You realize,” Blaise gasped as he tried to arch into the touch and couldn’t, “that the more I try to move, the more I get that static electricity feeling. I’m never going to last.”

“You’ll last until I’m ready for you to come and not before,” Peter growled, and then set to work proving just how well he’d learned his lover’s sensitive spots—and his limits—during the months they’d been reunited. Each time Blaise’s groans and curses hinted he was close to losing control, Peter backed off, turning his attentions to a less susceptible spot and then pushing Blaise even higher, keeping him dancing on the knife-edge of release without letting him tip over. That the nerve-net’s augmentation was proving just as hazardous to his own self-control was the price he’d willingly pay to lavish his lover with this much pleasure.

Blaise would have given any number of things to be able to ignore Peter’s demands and simply jerk his cock until he came. He had come so close to release so many times already, but each time Peter had pulled him back and then pushed him higher. He tried to beg, but the stasis field’s effects had spread until he had trouble even making his mouth form words, not that Peter left it empty for long. Between his tongue and his cock, Blaise hadn’t been able to do more than gasp for breath in what felt like hours. His eyes rolled back in his head as Peter denied his orgasm yet again.

As much as Peter would have liked to prolong his attentions to every micron of Blaise’s skin, his own body was making its demands clear in the ache in his balls and the insistent throbbing of his cock. While he was well dampened between Blaise’s saliva and his own precome, he needed to slick Blaise as well, even if the preparation was cursory at best. He’d heard of a device that could be inserted to keep a lover lubricated, and made a mental note to look for one on their next supply run while he scrabbled among the pillows for the container of lube that was among the purchases they’d made that day.

“Now,” Blaise said as soon as Peter left his mouth unoccupied for more than a moment. “Fuck me now.” He couldn’t turn his head to see what Peter was doing, but he heard the squelch of lube and felt the cold touch of Peter’s hand between his thighs. “Forget that,” he groaned. “In me. Now, damn it.”

“I may listen to your orders aboard the Stallion, but I’m in charge here, as you seem to keep forgetting,” Peter countered, though since he punctuated his response by slamming into Blaise in a single hard thrust, he figured his lover didn’t have reason for complaint. Just to be sure, though, he captured Blaise’s mouth with his own, his tongue probing as deeply as his cock as he worked them both hard and fast.

Peter’s mouth muffled the scream that escaped Blaise at the sudden penetration, but it was exactly what he needed. He wanted to wrap his arms and legs around Peter as encouragement, but the fucking stasis field kept him from moving. He fought it, every suppressed twitch of his muscles sending another surge of electricity through him. Peter pounded into him perfectly, pegging his gland with every pass, and this time, he didn’t pull back when Blaise’s orgasm started to crest. With a second muffled scream, Blaise lost control, his climax spilling between them. Every spasm of his muscles triggered the stasis field, prolonging his pleasure until he was nearly insensate with it, and still it continued, Peter driving into him over and over and over and… fuck, it felt so good it hurt!

If his tongue wasn’t massaging Blaise’s tonsils, Peter would have gritted his teeth as he fought to hold back his climax and prolong Blaise’s. The convulsions of the tight sheath spasming around his shaft and the tingle the stasis field transmitted wherever his skin met Blaise’s proved his undoing, the sudden splash of Blaise’s release sending a flare of such ecstasy through the nerve-net that he nearly blacked out as his release seared through him like a plasma bolt. He barely had the presence of mind to thumb off the remote before he slumped against Blaise’s hot, sweaty body in complete satiation.

Blaise felt the stasis field disengage, but he still couldn’t move. Peter had left him completely boneless.

“So,” Peter drawled after regaining his breath, “should I have one of these installed in our cabin on the Stallion?”

“I don’t have to take your orders on the Stallion,” Blaise reminded him. A rather wicked thought occurred to him. “Unless you’d rather I use it on you….”

“Maybe next anniversary,” Peter murmured as he pulled his pirate into his arms.

Blaise grinned as he started to drift off to sleep. He had a year. He’d think of something to top this.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Read more about Blaise and Peter in Hot Cargo.

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – The Last Day Of A Year by Andrew Gordon

May 29, 2013

Farrell jerked suddenly, splashing water in the process. He opened his eyes, certain he heard someone call him.

“Farrell?” This time he recognized Miceral’s voice.

“I’m just finishing taking a bath.”

“More like sleeping in the tub from where I stand.”

He twisted his body and saw Miceral smirking at him from the doorway. “How long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough to tell you fell a sleep.” Miceral retrieved the towel and held it out for his partner. “Rough day?”

Standing, Farrell felt his partner’s eyes on him. A year together and he still felt scrawny and unattractive. Not that Miceral ever said or did anything to suggest he felt that way. “Yes.”

Rubbing the soft cloth through his hair first, Farrell dried off and wrapped the towel around his waist. Leaning against the wall, Miceral continue to watch him wearing the same silly smile.

“Why’d you cover up so fast? I was enjoying the view.”

“Sure you were. Scrawny, pale and scarred—haven’t we been through this before—is not a view worth staring at.” He tried to inject as much humor as he could into his words. “Be honest, when it’s dark and we’re together, don’t you imagine something better? I mean something bigger, stronger, more like you?”

“Never.” Miceral leaned closer, kissing the side of Farrell’s neck. “I always see you and you know what that does to me.”

The kiss and Miceral’s word sent a wave of energy coursing through his body that focused on one area. Why did he even have these thoughts anymore? “If I didn’t know how much you loved me, I’d accuse you of lying.”

“Good.” He kissed Farrell again.

Before the tingle faded, Farrell felt a hand at his waist and the towel ripped away. “Hey!”

“Just getting a last look before we eat.” Miceral tossed the towel back and made for the door. “Get dressed, I had dinner sent up.”

“Dinner?” When did Miceral start ordering food sent up?

Poking his head back into the room, Miceral said, “Yes, dinner. You know, that meal we eat at the end of the day.”

Miceral disappeared and Farrell shook his head. Tying the towel around his waist, he cast a quick spell to keep it there. Using his fingers as a comb, he smoothed his unruly mane as best he could and left the chamber.

Free of the scent of soap, his nostrils detected a rich, slightly spicy aroma coming from their room. When he started to salivate, he swallowed and quick stepped into their room.

A deep bowl with mashed potatoes on top, rested in the center of the small table. He could smell the roast lamb he knew lay hidden inside. Plates, utensils, napkins and cups surrounded the tan ceramic dish, as if waiting for his arrival. Scanning the room for Miceral, Farrell almost called out when his partner emerged from Farrell’s closet. He held up a tunic and britches for Farrell’s approval.

Farrell nodded and held out his hand for the tunic. “How in Nendor did you arrange all this without me knowing? And why?”

After yanking the shirt over his head, Farrell peeled off his towel. Holding it out, it disappeared with a small flash when he let it drop.

“It wasn’t meant to be a surprise, at least not all set out like this. But you were asleep when I got home, so I had the staff fix the table.” Miceral pulled a chair back once Farrell finished putting on his pants. “As for why? Today marks one full year of knowing the most handsomest, wonderful, amazing—and dare I forget—mightiest wizard in all the world.”

Farrell rolled his eyes, but kept smiling. “Right, that’s why we’re celebrating tomorrow, remember?”

Scooping the bowl from the table, Miceral spooned a large portion of food onto Farrell’s plate. “Correct, but since we have plans for the day, I couldn’t do anything special for you tomorrow. I decided to celebrate the end of our first year today and the beginning of our new one tomorrow.”

Miceral broke a hunk of bread from the loaf and held it out across the table. “I know how much you like farmer’s pie, so I asked the cooks to make this for us.”

His grin threatened to make it impossible for Farrell to eat. “This is really sweet of you. Amazingly wonderful in fact.”

“Dig in, don’t let it get cold.”

Farrell speared a piece of lamb and a green bean before using the fork to scoop up some potatoes. One bite and he knew Miceral had done more than just ask the kitchen for food. “Who made this? It’s incredible.”

“Noticed the difference did you?” Winking, Miceral took a bite. “One of the cooks from Northhelm used to make this for me as a kid. I asked her to do it for me tonight as a favor.”

Rather than answer, Farrell shoveled more food into his mouth. The last time he remembered anyone making farmer’s pie this good, his mother ruled Yar-del and they’d had dinner in the palace together. The twinge of loss stayed with him, but Miceral’s presence dulled the pain a bit.

“So tell me.” Miceral’s voice cut his morose daydream short. “Why the bad day?”

“Do you want to kill the night’s festivities already?” Farrell laughed, but he knew telling Miceral wouldn’t ruin his mood. “Let’s just say Jursten is a dead man—and he knows it.”

“What’d he do?”

“Not what he did, what he didn’t do.” He took another bite and washed it down with half his water. “My bi-weekly attendance at the morning complaint session was this morning.”

Miceral nodded. “I know. I helped you get dressed.”

“And I’m sure I looked splendid with my face so red it nearly burst.” He chuckled remembering that Horgon looked almost the same. “Normally the sessions are boring, painful or annoying, but today topped all three. A merchant of from Respital complained that merchants from Endor were stealing business from their market and demanded reparations.”

“Stealing?”

The fork in his mouth, Farrell tried to speak, then stopped to swallow. “Exactly. As if being at war with Meglar wasn’t dire enough, they’re worried about merchant wars.”

“Farrell, trade is their livelihood. It is that important to them.”

“Agreed.” He drained his cup; then refilled it. “But their complaint was that the existent of Endor’s market hurt their business.”

Miceral chewed his bread and shook his head.

“To make matters worse, Respital’s fat, lazy, worthless, pile of pig turds of a king, Covis, agreed with his subjects and demanded Jursten repay his merchants.”

“How is that Jursten’s fault?”

“He should have declared war on Respital and cut off Covis’s fat head. Instead, he agreed with his merchants, declared impasse and sent the matter to me to decide.”

“That’s what he’s supposed to do, isn’t he?”

“Yes, but he’s also required to attend. Then again, his absence was meant as a sign of how utterly stupid he found the whole affair.”

“Sounds like you agreed with Jursten.”

“Of course I did.” He felt the anger rising inside him as he recalled the morning’s events. Taking a deep breath, he held it until some of his ire faded. “His failure to appear gave Covis the opening to argue Endor conceded the claim by not coming to argue in their defense. When that idiot made that statement, I lost my temper. I mean really lost it. I told him if he ever set foot in my council chamber again, I’d find the nearest clutch of Chamdon and deposit him the in middle with the command to rip him to pieces.”

“Wow, bet that went over well.”

“The crowd cheered my decision, until Horgon silenced them with a stare. Then your father lit into that fat dung heap. I thought Covis was going to cry.

“To cool me off, your father sent me to weapons.”

“How’d that go?”

“Worse.” Farrell tried not to laugh. He’d have to make things up to Master Baylec later.

“Worse? How?”

“I guess I was distracted still. After one too many stinging blows, I created an invisible, body-hugging, shield around myself. For a while, Baylec didn’t catch on, but when he did, he became irate. After lecturing me for a time, he called Master Thomas over to help yell at me. Being in the wonderful mood I was in, I told them both off.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah, wow. I mean, I understand the concept of training, but I don’t see any point in letting him hurt me.”

Miceral shook his head. “The pain is supposed to motivate you to work harder to avoid future hits.”

His mouth full, Farrell had to chew before he could answer. “I think I understand the purpose of training, but it was clear I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for the pain to make a difference.”

“Maybe you should have called off the session.”

“That’s what Baylec said. Now that I’ve cooled off, I somewhat agree, but at the time I was mad. I told him that as weapons master it was his responsibility to assess if I was well enough to train. That means mentally and physically. And that he should never again try to beat me into condition.”

“What did he say to that?”

“At first he and Thomas seethed, so I added that not only am I the prince of Haven, I’m also the one who has to fight Meglar. Hurting or maiming me is detrimental to both responsibilities.”

“Also a good point.”

“They seemed to think so too and then we all calmed down. Baylec apologized, I did too and then he and Thomas told me to leave their practice field until I was feeling better.”

“Told you, did they?”

“That part hasn’t changed and I don’t want it to. If I’m going to require they make an assessment of my fitness, I need to listen to them.”

“Why do I get the sense that isn’t it?”

“Because it’s not.” Farrell sighed. Just retelling the day made him tired again. “Next I tried riding with Nerti, but as soon as we set foot on Gharaha, I sensed something was wrong. One of the defensive spells was bleeding through.”

“What does that mean?”

“Breaking it down to its simplest terms, the spell had been laid improperly by Wesfazial. We designed all the spells to meld together so they have to be cast properly. Before I used the concealment spell, I was supposed check it. I guess I’ve been so preoccupied with Kel’s book this past month, I forgot. The two spells were slightly out of sync and the underlying spell was no longer hidden.”

He waited for Miceral to nod before he continued. “When I tried to ‘repair’ the problem, I almost started a cascade reaction that threatened to wipe out months or even years of work. Fortunately I stopped the break down before it got started, but I still need to go back and fix everything. That will take days of effort.

“After that Nerti told me to go take a bath and relax.”

Exhaling, he locked eyes with Miceral. Why did any of that matter right now? Staring at his partner, Farrell saw the concern in Miceral’s gaze. After the effort Miceral went through to make tonight special, Farrell couldn’t–wouldn’t–let his mood drag them down. Dipping a finger into the gravy and potatoes, he licked the tip. He made a pop when he removed it and smiled when the twinkle returned to Miceral’s eye.

“This.” He gestured toward the table, hoping not to sound too sappy. “Is exactly what I needed tonight. I feel much better already.”

Miceral wiggled his eyebrows and smiled. “Dinner was just the start. Wait until you see what’s next.”

He let Miceral pull him from his chair. “I like the sound of that.”

—————————————————————————————————

Read more about Miceral and Ferrell in The Last Grand Master.

Sexy Six Anniversary Short – Take Two by SJD Peterson

May 28, 2013

The opulent décor glimmered softly in the glow of two huge open fireplaces. A quintuplet of dazzling crystal chandeliers looming majestically overhead reflected the light, causing it to dance in the intimate two-tiered dining space. Swirling the dark purple wine around in his glass, Edward Boyd inhaled deeply, taking in aromas of blackberry, plum, licorice, and spice. Raising the glass to his lips, he took a small sip. Concentrated berry and pepper flavors with a silky feel danced across his tongue.

Ed lowered his glass, and a wave of déjà vu hit him so hard his breath caught and his hand shook, sloshing the wine. Ed set down his glass before the contents ended up staining the crisp white linen tablecloth. One year ago to the day, he’d been sitting at this same table in Acappella waiting for his husband to join him. Carrick had never shown up.

——————————————————————————————-

Read more about Edward and Carrick in Masters & Boyd.

The past year had been a challenge, extreme highs and painful lows. Acappella would now forever be special to Ed, even if it was the setting for one of those lows. One of the most painful he’d experienced since meeting his husband in fact. However, it was also the night when he and Carrick took the first steps toward discovering, or rather being reminded, of what was truly important. He and Carrick had been struggling to find balance in their busy lives. It took a lot of trial and error but they finally achieved it, even bought a haunted house together they were now remodeling. Ed’s career as an attorney and Carrick’s as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon were essential and part of who they were, testaments to their dedication to making and reaching goals they set out for themselves. But they also learned the jobs they loved were hollow and empty without being able to come home to the other at the end of the work day.

Strong hands landed on his shoulders seconds before soft lips brushed against Ed’s ear. “Waiting for someone?” Then those warm lips were kissing the side of his neck, causing him to shudder.

“He just arrived,” Ed said, his voice a little breathy.

Carrick took the chair across from Ed, a brilliant smile on his gorgeous face. Ed’s stomach clenched and his pulse instantly sped. Carrick had the ability to strip him of breath and voice with just a simple look. Add a touch and kiss and Ed was a trembling, needy, and so very lucky love-struck fool.

His husband was dressed in a dark blue Armani suit, blue jacquard monogrammed French-cuffed dress shirt, a gold and navy silk tie, and Carrick’s favorite gold and sapphire cufflinks. Ed’s arousal flared at the sight before him and mingled with pure giddiness as he recognized Carrick’s attire as exactly what Ed had laid out for his husband in anticipation of their anniversary dinner last year. Ed covered his mouth with the back of his hand to muffle the sound of his laughter.

One of Carrick’s brows went up slightly and he tilted his head. “I loved the shudder and the flush of your skin that my presence evoked, but I’m not so sure about the laughter.”

Ed bit his lip and shook his head, but he was sure the laughter and happiness was radiating out of his eyes when he said, “You look amazing in that suit.”

“This old thing?” Carrick asked, pulling at the lapels of his jacket. But the sly grin curling his lips told Ed he knew exactly what the suit meant, proof positive when Carrick added, “You always did have much better taste in fashion than I did.”

“I can’t believe you remembered,” Ed said honestly.

Carrick reached across the table and took Ed’s hand, entwining their fingers. “Of course I remember,” he murmured, his expression and tone of voice sincere. “I was a fool, Ed. From the moment I saw the heartbroken look on your face when you realized I’d forgotten our anniversary, I promised I’d never make you feel that way again. I’ve kept my promise. You are the most important thing in my world and I will never, ever be the cause of that look on your face.”

A lump formed in Ed’s throat as the emotions welled up in him, and he had to swallow hard before he could respond. “I love you” was the only thing he could squeeze out past his constricted throat.

Carrick brought Ed’s hand to his mouth. “I love you too.” He pressed a kiss to Ed’s knuckles.

They’d worked so hard together, through the failed date night attempts, the discovery of new kinks, Carrick’s graduation, as well as a job change and the purchase and restoration of their new house. Their lives were still extremely busy, but they started each morning with a kiss and ended each night wrapped in each other’s arms. They also never started a day nor ended it without saying I love you.

“Dr. Masters!” Gavino said enthusiastically. “So good to see you, sir. How are you?”

“Thank you, Gavino, I’m wonderful and you? How are your mom and dad?”

“Crazy as ever but I love them.” Gavino chuckled.

The lean, attractive young man with his black hair and matching eyes was the only child of Gavino Sr. and Rosa Acappella. He was friendly, always waited on them, and was as adorable as the bow tie around his neck.

“Can I get you a glass of wine, sir?” Gavino asked brightly.

“That would be lovely. I’ll have the same as my husband,” Carrick responded without taking his eyes from Ed.

“Right away,” Gavino said and discreetly left two menus on the table before moving away.

This wasn’t the first time Ed and Carrick had dined at Acappella’s in the last year. It was one of their favorite places and Gavino would never think Carrick rude for not giving him his full attention. In fact, Gavino Jr. had admitted to Ed in whispered tones that he hoped to find a husband as handsome and wonderful as Carrick. Ed couldn’t agree more. His husband was wonderful and handsome. He didn’t have the heart to tell the young man that Carrick was one of a kind, but he wished him the best. Ed had found a very rare and precious gem the day he’d been sitting on a bench outside St. Mary’s while his father was in surgery and looked up and met stunning hazel-green eyes.

Ed ran his thumb across Carrick’s finger as he spoke. “So you going to tell me what plans you have in store for us?”

It had been Carrick who’d made the reservations for tonight’s celebration. Other than that, Ed had no clue what his lover had in store for them; he’d tried to find out to no avail. Carrick could be a stubborn man when he wanted to be.

“We’re going to enjoy a romantic dinner together,” Carrick informed him. “Thank you, Gavino,” Carrick added as the young man set his wine down.

“You’re welcome, sir. Are you ready to order?” Gavino asked, picking up the untouched menus.

“Ed,” Carrick said, gesturing at him.

“I’ll have the fettuccini alfredo, please.”

“Wonderful choice, and for you, sir,” Gavino asked Carrick.

“I’ll have the same,” Carrick added.

“I’ll be right back with your salad and bread.” Gavino patted Ed on the shoulder before moving away.

“And after the romantic dinner?” Ed asked, picking up the conversation.

“It’s a sec—”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence,” Ed grumbled and pointed his fork at Carrick threateningly. “You know I hate secrets and surprises and I think I’ve been a pretty good sport for the last month. But, dammit, it’s our anniversary.” He glanced down at his watch. “In fact, it’s been our anniversary for seventeen hours.”

“Aww c’mon, babe, you’ll ruin the surprise,” Carrick said, completely ignoring the cutlery risk and casually swirling his wine around in his glass before taking a sip.

“Carrick,” Ed said warningly.

Carrick just smiled and took another sip of his wine then scootched his chair back just in time to avoid the kick Ed aimed at his shin. Ed sighed in resignation. He wasn’t going to get anything out of Carrick. “Stubborn bastard,” he grumbled under his breath.

“What was that?” Carrick asked, his eyes sparkling with mischief.

“Sweet bouquet,” Ed lied and raised his glass. “Happy anniversary.”

Carrick touched his glass to Ed’s. “Happy anniversary, babe. May this be just one of many very happy celebrations of our life together.”

“To many, many more.” The slight irritation rushed out of Ed and he smiled as he brought his glass to his lips. He still hated surprises and felt a little edgy not knowing what Carrick had in store for them, but he trusted that whatever his husband had planned, it would be a night or a week to remember.

*

“Can you tell me now?” Ed begged as soon as they were in the car and headed down the highway.

Carrick stole a glance at the pouting man and grinned. Carrick could point out he was whining but that would just get Ed all the more irritated. He had to give himself a lot of credit. Ed had used every trick in the book to get Carrick to reveal his secrets, but he’d stayed strong. Not an easy task when one’s gorgeous husband stooped to sexual teasing until Carrick thought he’d lose his goddamn mind.

When Carrick ignored the newest attempt, Ed huffed out a breath but the grin on his face and the fact that he was still holding Carrick’s hand, thumb rubbing along Carrick’s, ruined the attempt at anger. Carrick wasn’t being difficult or cruel. He’d ruined last year’s celebration of their marriage and he was bound and determined to make this year perfect.

“At least I’m not blindfolded this time,” Ed mused as he watched tentatively out the windshield.

“Dammit, I knew I forgot something,” Carrick teased. Actually, maybe he should have thought of it. The last time he’d blindfolded Ed had been an amazing moment. Not only had it led to the exploration of a new kink between them, one of dominate and submissive, but they also had an amazing painting of Ed on their bedroom wall as a reminder of just how incredible that day had been. “You weren’t complaining the last time I had you bound and blindfolded,” he reminded Ed.

“Mmmhmm” was Ed’s only response but his smile was wry. Carrick couldn’t hold back his laughter any longer, Ed joining in.

“Here we are,” Carrick said as he pulled into the parking lot of the Plaza.

“Ooh! Hot tubs and room service. I like.”

“I knew you would,” Carrick chuckled as he pulled into a parking spot and cut the engine.

Ed reached for the door handle and started to pull away but Carrick refused to release his hand. When Ed turned and looked at him with a confused expression, Carrick tugged him closer. The second their lips met, Ed no longer tried to get away; instead he wrapped his arm around Carrick’s neck and deepened the kiss. Ed pushed his tongue past Carrick’s lips, licking the back of his teeth and causing a tingling sensation to race down Carrick’s spine. He suddenly needed more. More skin against skin. Needed to have his husband beneath him. To be inside him.

Carrick growled into the kiss, jerked back, and threw open his door. “Let’s go,” he said hoarsely, his breaths coming in short huffs.

As Ed stepped out of the car, Carrick could have sworn he heard him say “Works every time” but when he asked, Ed responded, “Don’t we need luggage?”

“It’s already in the room,” Carrick said, coming around to the other side of the car and taking Ed’s hand in his once again to pull the smaller man along. Ed giggled, an honest-to-goodness giggle, and the happiness in that small sound made Carrick’s warmth spread through him. Damn, he need to get them to their room, naked, and wrapped in each other, pronto. Carrick hit the button on the key fob, locking the car without slowing his strides. He didn’t slow down until he stood outside their room, ran the key card, and pushed the door open.

Carrick had come to the Plaza before meeting Ed for dinner. Champagne was now chilling in a silver bucket, brightly wrapped gifts sat atop the dresser, candles were ready to be lit, the covers were pulled back on the bed, blinds were drawn, and body oil and lube sat within easy reach of the mattress. From the low whistle and hum of approval coming from Ed, it appeared Carrick had done well. His plan was to toast another year together, massage every inch of Ed’s body till he was pliable beneath Carrick, and then make slow love to him the rest of the night. However, after the hot kiss they shared in the car, Carrick’s body had other plans. More immediate ones.

Before Ed could make it too far into the room, Carrick grabbed him and pushed him against the closed door, his keys clanking on the floor as he pushed and pulled at Ed’s clothing. “Off,” he grunted huskily then covered Ed’s mouth and forced his tongue between Ed’s lips as he pushed Ed’s jacket off his shoulders then pulled his shirt out of the waistband of Ed’s slacks.

Carrick’s arousal kicked into overdrive and he was achingly hard. Carrick deepened the kiss, devouring Ed’s mouth as he tried to get Ed naked as quickly as possible. He made an annoyed sound in the back of his throat when the buttons on Ed’s dress shirt refused to cooperate, and he grabbed the material in both fists and yanked, sending buttons flying.

Ed pushed at Carrick’s shoulders, separating them just enough to speak against Carrick’s lips. “Let me do it,” he said, breathless.

Carrick growled again in frustration and forced himself to take a step back and take a couple of panting breaths. Ed smiled at him wryly as he slowly unbuttoned the one cuff of his shirt. His husband was baiting him. “Ed,” Carrick snarled in warning. Ed’s smile grew as he just as slowly unbuttoned the other cuff. “Screw it.” He grabbed Ed around the waist and picked the smaller man up off his feet and threw him over his shoulder.

“Hey,” Ed yelped in surprise and then began to laugh. The pleasant curl in Carrick’s belly at Ed’s sound of happiness fluttered again.

Carrick threw Ed on the bed, grabbed his belt and yanked it, and then pulled down his slacks before Ed even stopped bouncing on the mattress. Ed watched him, his blue eyes dark with lust as Carrick unfastened his own slacks and pushed them down his hips before snatching the lube from the bedside table. Carrick didn’t even bother with his jacket or shirt, just popped open the lid on the lube, squeezing some into the palm of his hand before tossing the tube over his shoulder. Carrick wrapped his fist around his cock, coating it liberally. Ed didn’t say another word, just continued to watch him longingly, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he kicked off his shoes and pulled his slacks the rest of the way off.

Carrick’s need was so powerful his head spun, and he grasped Ed’s leg, his skin warm and soft, the muscles flexing beneath Carrick’s fingertips as he pushed it up and back. “Damn, I need you,” Carrick groaned. He forced himself to be gentle as he ran his slick fingers teasingly along Ed’s crease.

“I’m all yours,” Ed got out between panted breaths and grasped his other thigh, opening himself to Carrick. “Please… Carrick. Need you so much.”

A primal sound escaped Carrick as he pressed himself against Ed’s ass before he leaned down, nearly bending Ed in half as he took his mouth in a hungry kiss. Ed’s entire body tightened briefly as Carrick thrust his hips hard and buried himself deep inside. Ed’s strangled cry of pleasure vibrated against Carrick’s tongue and lips, and he fed him back his own sounds as Ed’s body clamped down hard on him.

Carrick released his hold on Ed’s leg and encouraged his lover to wrap them both around him as Carrick set a hard and fast rhythm. Carrick shoved his shirt up as far as it would go, needing to feel skin on skin, and slid his hands under Ed’s arms, grasping his shoulders from behind and pulling their bodies as close together as he could.

There would be time for slow, sloppy kisses, sweet words of endearment and lovemaking; their whole lives in fact. But right then it was all about passion, desire, and need, something that hadn’t waned a fraction in the four years since meeting Ed. He loved his husband without bounds, his heart unquestioningly belonged to the sweet, gorgeous man who had blessed Carrick’s life the day he said, “I do. Carrick’s very soul was incomplete without him, but this…. This inflamed passion made their relationship not only one of love and friendship but one of pure physical delights. Ed was his everything.

“Carrick!” Ed cried out, his back arched. Ed mewled and cursed, his body trembling as he continued to moan and babble incoherently.

Carrick’s thrusts became erratic as he fought to keep his own orgasm that had begun to unfurl from exploding until he’d pulled Ed’s from him. “Come for me,” he hissed through gritted teeth.

Ed threw his head back, and a harsh shout echoed off the walls of the small room as he gave in to his orgasm.

It was futile to stay in control in the face of Ed’s pleasure-filled sounds and the look on his face. He froze, his body coiled tightly, and he came deep inside Ed with a loud roar of his own. Spent, Carrick collapsed and buried his face in the side of Ed’s neck, gasping for breath.

They lay there together, Ed’s hands clutching the back of Carrick’s jacket, legs spread and limp against the mattress. Carrick’s legs felt like jello, knees about to buckle, and he was breathing hard, heart pounding from the exertion, but damn he felt good.

“I love you,” he whispered against Ed’s damp skin. “Thank you for marrying me and standing beside me.”

“Nowhere I’d rather be than at your side…. Well except, maybe occasionally beneath you,” Ed chuckled. He hugged Carrick tight, brushing his soft lips against Carrick’s cheek. “And I love you, too.”

With a groan, Carrick pushed up on his hands and looked down into Ed’s sated eyes. “So how am I doing so far with the celebration?” he asked warmly. “Better than last year?”

Ed reached up and grabbed Carrick’s face in his hands and pulled his head down, his lips brushing against Carrick’s as he said, “Each year with you just keeps getting better and better.”

There were a hundred ways Carrick could respond, how he agreed wholeheartedly, but his throat constricted with emotion and he had to swallow hard. Then he didn’t need to say anything because Ed was kissing him again, sweet and tender, and he reveled in it. Ed was the best thing to happen to him and he’d never again make Ed regret marrying him. In Ed’s arms was where he planned to stay the rest of his life.

The End