A Pit Stop

“Are you embarrassed by me, Grant?”

Josh’s voice is quiet; that low, growling pitch that, depending on the circumstance, either has Grant pleased he’s rarely on Josh’s bad side, or falling to his knees in reverent worship the way only he gets to worship Josh.

“What? ‘Course not,” Grant replies quickly, wondering where Josh is going with this, and also what he’s done wrong. He’s been so tense about taking Josh home to meet his family, that he’s spent the week leading up to it overthinking every step, and overplanning every word.

“Then why,” Josh continues, slowly, making Grant’s heart thud loud, “do you repeatedly keep stepping away from me, as though I am not to be seen with you?”

Grant darts his eyes down the aisle of the supermarket they’re in and steps away from the cart he’s pushing, hands dropping to his sides. “Josh,” he begins, guiltily, trying to work out what to say, and coming up with nothing.

He feels tight, on edge being in his hometown, that’s full of narrow-minded people he’d avoided as much contact with as possible when growing up. And though his parents and sisters have welcomed Josh with open arms, there’s been several sets of other disapproving eyes on them wherever they’ve been. So perhaps he is holding back; not reaching for Josh in the usual affection he does when they’re back in their own home. He’s not meaning to do it, but if he’s hurting Josh by doing it—which Grant knows he must be doing from the look on his face—then he’s got to snap out of it, meant or not.

“Shit. Sorry, Josh. It’s not intentional at all,” and to prove his point, Grant leans over to Josh and gives him a sweet, apologetic kiss. Josh remains as still as stone.

“I’m sorry,” Grant whispers against Josh’s lips, then kissing along his cheek, and the edge of his jaw where he feels it clench beneath him. He has no problem with being seen with Josh in public, not one.

Josh nudges him until his back is against the shelves behind him, and Grant is convinced the entire thing rocks from the force of it. But he’s not caring at all; he’s too busy trying to keep up with Josh’s tongue as it fights its way around his mouth, and Josh’s hips as they grind up against him in claim.

Here? Do you have to, Grant?”

Grant feels Josh’s mouth pause, feels the indignance of being interrupted churning through his entire body, before he steps away from Grant and straightens his shirt for him from where he’s rucked it up. Josh turns away, indifferent, walking down the aisle behind Deacon, the owner of the store, who stands, glaring at Grant.

“Grant,” Deacon hisses, reaching up and covering his eyes in a sure sign of trying to keep his tongue in check. “I’ve got no problem with you or your boyfriend. But that shelving’s on its last legs; getting the whole place refurbed next month. And if that thing collapses on someone the other side with you two doing… whatever you were about to do, it’s on your head.”

Grant’s face burns with how much he’s blushing. Deacon’s been serving him since he’s been old enough to go to the store by himself. He mumbles an apology, bows his head to avoid eye contact, and pushes the cart to the checkout, where Tina, the store assistant helping Deacon, beams at him in mirth as she rings up his purchases.

Josh is folded armed and flush-cheeked against the side of the car when Grant gets outside, glancing at him guiltily as he begins to fill the trunk.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you in front of—”

Grant presses Josh up against the car and kisses him hard, humming softly as Josh’s arms loop around him.

“I know you didn’t,” Grant agrees when they pull back, nuzzling against him.

“I know I shouldn’t let myself get insecure about this kind of stuff, and—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Grant smiles, kissing him again. “I’m sorry I did anything to make you feel insecure.”

Josh sighs, nodding, fingers toying with Grant’s shirt as they always do when he’s feeling a little out of his depth. But then he’s kissing him again, and this time it’s gentle, taking what they need from each other and forgetting everything else. And when they pull back again, there are easier smiles for them both.

“I still want you,” Josh tells him with a squeeze around his waist, and intent in his eye that leaves Grant swallowing awkwardly.

“And you can still have me,” Grant promises with a wink. “Just… maybe not right here.”

“It’s not like we can go back to your parents and disappear upstairs with some lame excuse,” Josh sighs, his thumb sneaking in between them, discreetly brushing along his length.

“No, it’s not,” Grant agrees, wide-eyed that Josh would even do that in the middle of this parking lot when he doesn’t ever do stuff like that back home. But then he gets an idea that’s likely to get them both into trouble, and he can’t think of anything else. “C’mon.”

Grant drives them to the edge of town where there’s a mid-sized restaurant sharing a parking lot with a new supermarket he’s adamant wasn’t here the last time he visited. Grant grabs Josh’s hand the moment they’re out of the car and tugs him forward, keeping his head down, determined not to see anyone he knows. He drags him inside, then once more into a restroom, and firmly bolts the door behind them.

Josh’s eyes are wide in surprise for all of a second, but then there’s a triumphant smile on his face. And as he saunters towards Grant he’s already unbuttoning himself, never taking his eyes off Grant’s, pressing on his shoulders wordlessly asking him to kneel, then utters a single instruction. “Suck.”

Which of course, Grant does, more than willingly. He pushes down Josh’s jeans and boxers further, gripping his fingers into his cheeks and kneading one minute, then cupping his balls gently the next. He licks, sucks, and teases in all the ways he knows Josh likes, then pulls off him to suck his own fingers into his mouth, and slowly presses one into Josh’s hole as he takes him back in his mouth.

Josh grunts, rocking forward a little as Grant strokes his finger slowly in and out whilst lapping his tongue over his head. But Josh wants more, apparently, because he pulls Grant up abruptly, backing him against the door and kissing him hungrily, as he unbuttons Grant’s jeans and shoves them down, boxers and all, as far as they will go.

He strokes him a little, grinning at the groan Grant gives in response, and then turns to look around the room in a sort of panic. Relief is instant; his eyes fall upon a vending machine, and he hits it in a way that makes a packet of lube and three strawberry flavored condoms fall out into the sink below. Grant’s cock twitches at the sight.

Josh tosses the condoms away—one of the many perks of being in a committed relationship for coming up to three years now—and turns back to Grant with a look of pure intent. Grant gulps at the sound of the packet being ripped open, and Josh does this magic thing that Grant loves; at least, he thinks it’s magic, it feels magic even though it’s probably not. But Grant is babbling to himself either way as Josh systematically slips his fingers slowly inside him one at a time, in time with his tongue thrusting into Grant’s mouth. Grant rocks down on Josh’s fingers, giving a little whine when the angle strikes just right against his prostate.

“I need to see you,” Josh says hastily, before somehow pulling one of Grant’s legs free so he’s standing with his clothes flapping around the other leg only. And then Grant’s holding on to whatever he can, as Josh lifts and spreads him wide open, slowly pressing into him with a long, appreciative groan.

Josh pauses for just enough time for Grant to adjust then is staking his claim, as fast and hard as he can without breaking either Grant or the sink he’s somehow gripping on to and fucking Grant up against. It’s not the most comfortable of positions, but it works. It’s efficient, hitting all the right angles in all the good spots, with them both muffling their groans in each other’s necks, just about conscious of the noise traveling beyond the door of the restaurant bathroom.

After, when Josh wipes Grant down, swiping away his come from between their chests with the bathroom tissue that’s sticking to him in chunks, the look in Josh’s eye is smug and thankful. They straighten each other up both grimacing at the mess they’ve made of each other, mumbling about how good a shower would be right now if they could only find an excuse for it when they get back to the house.

When they’re outside, Josh presses Grant gently against the wall outside the bathroom with one last long kiss, humming against his lips before pulling back with a smile.

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Tainted By Our Choices – Extract

 

Tainted By Our Choices Edit 2

Jack stretched up just enough to peek down through the tinted glass of his office window at the protesters gathered outside holding hand painted placards and could only bring himself to sigh. They had moved in that morning, encroaching on all the best parking spaces in the parking lot and chanting angry slogans that Jack thought perhaps were kind of funny but would do nothing to stop what was going to happen.

The fracking would be going ahead, whether anyone objected to it or not. Works had all been approved, reams upon reams of paperwork signed and countersigned, and if some bureaucracy involving clandestine deals and exchanges of money between those further up the chain and the local authorities had happened, well. It was absolutely nothing to do with him. Jack had done his job. He had produced the environmental report that had helped win them the contract, carefully detailing all of the possible risks and hazards involved, right down to potentially affected species in the local vicinity, and models indicating the likelihood of contaminated water coming into contact with nearby residential supplies.

With another sigh, Jack looked over his mostly-completed work for the morning and pushed himself back from his desk, spinning one full circuit on his chair before coming to a stop, then doing the same the other way. He stood with an exaggerated stretch, wandering over to rattle the cafetiere and frowning at its betrayal when he found it to be empty.

With every intention of topping up from the coffee machine in the break room, Jack made his way there, the voices drifting out to him immediately changing his mind. He took a brief stop in the restroom and gave himself a quick glance over in the mirror as he washed his hands, tugging at his hair and telling himself that lighter color was definitely blond, not gray, in his usual brown.

Biting down on his lip as he debated with himself with himself, Jack decided on a local bakery with excellent coffee and even better cakes, then shrugged into his suit jacket and headed out. If he was staying late as usual to go over those complex habitat surveys for their most recent site acquisition, and had to survive the dreaded afternoon meeting, caffeine and sugar would be essentials to get him through his day.

With a carefree jog, he took the stairs down, noting with no real surprise that the chants outside grew louder and even angrier the closer he got to the exit. Giving a brief nod to the receptionist Jack stepped out into the bright, sunny morning, shielding his squinting eyes behind sunglasses from both the sun itself and the attention of those protesting. His face became a neutral mask as he passed the group buzzing like irate bees over to his right, hoping they wouldn’t pay him any attention. This wasn’t his first experience with opposition against what the company did and he’d learned early on to feign indifference, despite what he might really think.

A mop of messy black hair caught his attention, though, as it always did, whispering to him to take a look just in case. Jack’s gaze turned casually in the group’s direction as he continued walking, coming to a complete, shuddering stop and ripping his glasses off in disbelief as he watched pale blue eyes look him up and down in contempt, then spark with recognition before narrowing in quiet fury. His stomach sank and his mouth grew dry, and the only sound Jack could hear in that moment was the misplaced shriek of the crashing of waves.

1993

On a clear day, when the sky was the brightest blue and the reflection the sea gave back just as vivid, it made Jack feel like he could stare out at the horizon forever and never know where one started and the other began. The waves roared away any sense of unrest he might be feeling, waxing and waning with soothing sounds that never ceased to keep him calm.

Jack had been visiting this beach since before he could even walk, crawling along the sand and fisting it up into his chubby palms, squealing at the crunch and squeak of it between his fingers. He remembered helping his little brother build his first sand castle and watching the water lick it away one misshapen turret at a time. He remembered a red checkered picnic blanket pinned down beneath a cooler box to stop it blowing away, and laughter as he chased a corner of it that got repeatedly caught up in the breeze. Happy memories were what Jack had when he thought of this place. Happiness and home.

Today was not a clear day. The normally creamy colored sand was painted with jet black slickness, foam churning up gray against the shoreline. As if in sympathy the sky was dull and flat, clouds outlined with dirty smudges that bled into one another. It seemed to Jack in that moment as though all the color had been drained from the world. The waves rolled in as they always did, as they always had, but on that day, could do nothing to bring stillness to Jack, as each crest spewed out further victims of the oil slick everywhere he looked.

Though surrounding him was a flurry of activity, with rescue workers rushing about clad from head to foot in once white hazmat-like suits and carrying bird after bird away to cleaning stations further up the shore, the only noise that got through to him, that broke Jack’s continual horror at what he was seeing all around him was one of heartbroken, hiccupping sobbing.

A boy knelt off to his right, gently stroking his fingers over a bird whose head, he had rested across his lap at an unnatural angle. The oil from the bird’s feathers left glossy rivulets of black running down the sides of his thighs, and he continued his gentle path along its back as though touch alone could bring it back to life. A trembling hand ran over the flat of the bill, tracing against the curved tip that suggested a hint of its natural red color beneath the poisonous black that every other inch of the bird was coated in like a terrible second skin.

Jack looked at the boy’s mass of messy hair and decided it was the exact same shade as the oil staining his fingers. He stepped closer to him, his own heart heavy despite what he’d been witnessing all morning. His footfall caught the boy’s attention, and when he looked up at Jack with a quivering lip and piercing blue eyes rimmed red with tears, Jack felt an inexplicable need to bring him comfort.

Now

“Dylan,” Jack choked out, utter disbelief rippling through his voice as he continued to stare at him open-mouthed. Dylan glowered back at him, dropping the oversized placard he was holding down to waist height and resting his hands along the top of it in a fierce grip. He glanced up behind Jack at the office complex snorting in derision before dropping his eyes back down to Jack’s face in blatant scorn.

“You work here?” he asked, incredulous, a furious glare pinning Jack in place.

“Yeah,” Jack mumbled, and for a second he felt determined not to show any of the shame that surged through him just from being in Dylan’s presence. He managed a full three seconds of maintaining eye contact then found his gaze dropped to the tarmac beneath their feet.

“How the hell did you end up in Houston? Working here of all places?” Dylan demanded, so full of anger Jack struggled not to take a step back from it.

“I-”

“So, this is what you’ve become, huh?”

“Dyl…” Jack pleaded, lost for any other words to say. What was he supposed to say? What could he, after all this time, without it sounding like a string of poor excuses?

As though reading his mind Dylan rolled his eyes, glaring back at him with ice lighting those eyes that Jack had first stared back at so long ago. “Thought you wanted to change the world, Jack? Not rip it apart from the inside out,”

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Whatever Comes First

whatevercomesfirst4002

Matthew isn’t looking for a relationship. Ask him, and he’ll say it’s because between work and studying there’s just no time. Ask his best friend, Sarah, and the story is a little different and involves a failed relationship that left him raw. 

Enter Joel, a childhood friend of Sarah’s recently back in the area. He’s not looking for love, either, but he’s not adverse to the idea of a little fun. Uncomplicated and on the same page: what could possibly go wrong?

Whatever Comes First. New book on Less Than Three Press.

 

In The Car

They have Josh’s younger brother staying with them for a long weekend, and in a surprising display of modesty, Grant had arrived home Friday night to a murmur from Josh about adjoining bedroom walls, barely able to contain a burst of laughter for Josh acting so out of character demure and only greeting him with a brief kiss on the cheek. But Josh’s comments about needing to keep their hands to themselves in Toby’s company, is apparently easier said than done for Josh. Because every spare second Toby’s been out of their sight, Josh is on him like a man starved. Grant’s not complaining, obviously, but he is thoroughly amused.

Toby hasn’t been out the car more than a second to pick up a book he’s ordered when Josh’s hand is in Grant’s jeans. Grant gulps in surprise, but he can’t help respond to Josh as he does, every single time. Besides, it’s technically been a few days.

Josh smirks knowingly over at him, pauses for a moment to lick his hand, then starts again, squeezing and pulling and stroking Grant in all the ways he’s learned will make him whimper the most. Grant’s head thumps back against the seat, his half-hearted protest long dead in his throat. His eyes drift down to watch Josh’s hand on him, and he moans, spreading his legs as far as the denim and confined space will allow.

Josh smears precum down his length, and Grant lets out a mumbled curse. He has a single thought of what a mess he’s about to make, but it seems Josh is a mind reader, because his mouth is then down and on him in less than a second.

Grant clenches and unclenches his hands, letting out a single grunt as he tries to writhe in his seat. He can’t move far; he’s being kept firmly in place by Josh’s forearm pressing hard into his thighs to keep him in place. Josh’s tongue swirls over his head, and he takes a moment to grin up at Grant, before sucking him down again. Grant lets out a grunt in response not having any words left in him.

He watches Josh bob his head up and down, feels himself building, wonders at his luck, and then comes with a soft huff of a groan, closing his eyes to the parking lot they’re idling the engine in since Toby had insisted he wouldn’t be long enough for them to have to pay to park.

Josh sucks him dry, roughly wiping his mouth with the back of his hand as he sits back up, and then reaches over to re-button Grant, who feels like he might not even be able to drive.

When Toby returns to the car, he has to search for it, surprised that they’ve pulled into a space instead of idling by the side. He ducks to peer inside and finds Grant snoring softly in the front seat, and Josh curled against the window with his eyes closed and a smile on his face.

Josh cracks one eye open as though he feels Toby watching, and his face morphs into a smug smile, seconds before he realizes he’s doing it. When his cheeks light up with blush, Toby snorts, thinking his brother still see him as a kid, and doesn’t know exactly what him and Grant would usually be doing if he wasn’t staying with them. He yanks the car door open hard enough to startle Grant awake, grins at him when he looks around, and stretches out on the back seat with a long suffering sigh.

Tainted By Our Choices

 

Tainted by our choices is a contemporary romance that has flashbacks, sex, environmental awareness, and a slight fixation on dessert. Potentially all at the same time.

Meet Jack. A successful environmental officer working within an industry that is so very far from his childhood dream of saving the planet, that he no longer recognizes himself. How he’s found himself in Houston, Texas, where he has no one, and nothing but his work for company, he tells himself repeatedly he doesn’t know. But when the place that became home had the heart sucked right out of it, and all around him were the remnants of a life he wouldn’t get to have, Jack ran, at the first opportunity given to him.

On a bright, sunny morning, Jack sees a face so familiar to him that he knows it better than his own, one that takes him back first to a beach in his childhood home of Tampa Bay, and second to a college in Boston where Jack learned – and lost – his heart.

Tainted by our choices is the story of first crushes, loves, and heartbreaks, and the fallout that left Jack clinging to his past. Join him on his rediscovery of himself, as a chance meeting reminds him of the life he always wanted to lead. Is he brave enough to live it?

Whatever Comes First

whatevercomesfirst4002

Matthew isn’t looking for a relationship. Ask him, and he’ll say it’s because between work and studying there’s just no time. Ask his best friend, Sarah, and the story is a little different and involves a failed relationship that left him raw. 

Enter Joel, a childhood friend of Sarah’s recently back in the area. He’s not looking for love, either, but he’s not adverse to the idea of a little fun. Uncomplicated and on the same page: what could possibly go wrong?

Whatever Comes First. New book on Less Than Three Press.

 

On The Way Home

“I want you.”

There is nothing, no other words that Josh can say that make Grant’s knees give so quickly, and his dick stand to attention so instantly.

He breathes it out in the gravelly tone that Grant is helpless to resist, to the point where it’s gotten them into many a compromising situation when around other people. Like now, when they’re on the way home after a night out with friends, probably less than twenty minutes from the privacy of their own apartment, and apparently Josh can’t wait.

“I want you,” he repeats, and Grant’s already dry mouth causes his throat to catch.

“Okay,” is all Grant can manage to blurt out in answer. Josh is already tugging on his hand, leading him through the gates of a car park they’d normally avoid at this time of night, before he can do anything at all.

There are some trees conveniently nearby, and that is where they head. Josh presses Grant roughly back against one and hungrily licks his way into Grant’s mouth, leaving no room for objection. Not that Grant would ever object.

He’s unable to resist anything that Josh ever does to him, and that’s why by the time Josh is tugging open his fly he’s already hard. Josh hums in approval, stroking him over slowly and smiling against Grant’s mouth as he groans. Josh’s fingers disappear for a moment and Grant hears the ripping of a packet. A moment later, Josh’s cold, lubed fingers are exploring, and Grant sags a little, splaying his legs.

Josh works him open easily since it’s not all that long since he’s last been in him, and Grant soon finds himself impaled, biting hard on his own lip to stop the loud moan he’s fighting against letting escape. He’s going to have scratches on his back from the tree trunk where Josh has pushed his shirt up; Grant’s already looking forward to inspecting evidence of this little interlude on the way home later.

He closes his eyes, wrapping his legs high around Josh’s waist and clinging on for dear life as Josh pounds relentlessly into him. Grant has one last lucid thought of thanking his lucky stars that he’s lucked out with a guy that can pick him up like he weighs nothing, but then Josh adjusts his angle and bites down hard on his neck, and Grant can’t concentrate on anything else.

Tainted By Our Choices

 

Tainted by our choices is a contemporary romance that has flashbacks, sex, environmental awareness, and a slight fixation on dessert. Potentially all at the same time.

Meet Jack. A successful environmental officer working within an industry that is so very far from his childhood dream of saving the planet, that he no longer recognizes himself. How he’s found himself in Houston, Texas, where he has no one, and nothing but his work for company, he tells himself repeatedly he doesn’t know. But when the place that became home had the heart sucked right out of it, and all around him were the remnants of a life he wouldn’t get to have, Jack ran, at the first opportunity given to him.

On a bright, sunny morning, Jack sees a face so familiar to him that he knows it better than his own, one that takes him back first to a beach in his childhood home of Tampa Bay, and second to a college in Boston where Jack learned – and lost – his heart.

Tainted by our choices is the story of first crushes, loves, and heartbreaks, and the fallout that left Jack clinging to his past. Join him on his rediscovery of himself, as a chance meeting reminds him of the life he always wanted to lead. Is he brave enough to live it?

Whatever Comes First

whatevercomesfirst4002

Matthew isn’t looking for a relationship. Ask him, and he’ll say it’s because between work and studying there’s just no time. Ask his best friend, Sarah, and the story is a little different and involves a failed relationship that left him raw. 

Enter Joel, a childhood friend of Sarah’s recently back in the area. He’s not looking for love, either, but he’s not adverse to the idea of a little fun. Uncomplicated and on the same page: what could possibly go wrong?

Whatever Comes First. New book on Less Than Three Press.

 

Coming Home

Debra had learned to hold on to her emotions. Keep them so tight to her chest that they festered there, sending cruel words spitting out her mouth that she could use to safely mask what she was really feeling.

Emily felt nothing but sadness every time she saw Debra reining her feelings in. She watched, helpless as Debra’s walls flew up and her words flew out, channelling the only emotion Debra allowed herself to feel, which wasn’t even an emotion at all: ‘doing the right thing’, because in as long as she’d known her, Emily had never known Debra to give in to something she wanted if there was the slightest hint it might upset someone else.

With Emily, though, it was an entirely different thing altogether, it was getter harder and harder, to the point where she didn’t want to hold onto what she was feeling at all. But where to start?

Emily put up her own walls too. She had to, to keep herself in check. She couldn’t watch Debra seem to gear up to reach out then withdraw just like she’d been burned, without these walls to fix a mask on. And if her own walls were up, her own feelings couldn’t leak out. Not too much, anyway; at least, she could hope they wouldn’t.

Emily made her feel things. Made her want things Debra had told herself she would never be entitled to have, or even to want; that she’d never had the right to. Things that, in the darkness of night, she’d reveal in secret to her dead parents, imagining the outcome in any number of ways. Rejection. Disgust. Dismissal. But never in acceptance, or happily ever after, or just simple happiness.

Emily knew that Debra would deny herself anything she truly wanted because she didn’t feel she deserved it. All Emily wanted was for Debra to be happy. She wished Debra would let her be one of the things that made her happy but told herself over and over how selfish that was. Debra deserved the best of everything, and she, Emily, she had nothing really to offer Debra.

She wanted Emily. All of her; her friendship, her trust, her time. And though she had to whisper it to herself because this was a volatile emotion that did its best to erupt every time she saw her, she also wanted her love. All the kinds of love that were possible.

Emily wanted Debra. Beyond anything. She’d never known want quite like she did until she’d met Debra, and from that moment on, she’d never known not to want. Debra’s friendship was something she cherished, and her trust too, even if she had to keep breaking and re-earning it until it was a patched and leaking thing, because on days when they felt too close it felt too difficult to have to hold back. Sometimes it was so hard to not blurt out the obvious. To not tell her why she was drawn to her, and why she always stuck around.

Debra looked at Emily, and she felt the rage that brewed within her still to peaceful quiet. She looked at Emily, and the jolt of desire that flooded through her was so violent, she didn’t know how she was still upright instead of drowning in it. She looked at Emily, and the love that burst in her just for seeing her animated her every thought and movement made her believe for a moment it was something she could have before doubt put it out again.

Emily looked at Debra, and she felt at home. She felt all the best and worst of emotions in Debra’s presence. Jealousy when anyone looked her way. Lust when she caught glimpses of Debra changing her clothes, or changing the coffee filter, or changing lane. Anytime, really.

When Emily wasn’t there, it was like all the lights had gone out. She withdrew into a hollow, grumpy shell that barked at anyone who would listen, wounded because Emily had left yet again.

When Emily left she felt as though she was missing a part of her, which she told herself was stupid. But she felt empty, and unsettled, and on edge, unable to focus or do anything with full certainty until she was back with Debra. It hurt her to leave, but what hurt her, even more, was that Debra never asked her to stay. If Emily thought for one moment that Debra felt even a fraction of what she felt, there would be nothing to ever keep her away.

Debra couldn’t work out what was more painful; when Emily left unexpectedly, with Debra having all kinds of things on the tip of her tongue that she was denied the chance of saying, or when she knew Emily was going and those same words refused to come to the surface.

Emily was always torn when she left. She could only make excuses to stay so long. She could only build up hope that this would be the time Debra would ask her to stay. She was always disappointed. Sometimes she left without even so much as a goodbye, and other times she made her intent to leave obvious, giving Debra time to tell her to stick around. She was disappointed and hurt every single time.

This particular time Emily was leaving, Debra knew the second she walked in.

On this occasion, Emily told Debra when she was leaving.

Emily had announced on arrival that she couldn’t stay long, that she had places to be and problems to fix. Debra’s heart pounded, and ached, and longed to be able to have Emily around for longer. For Emily to just stay.

When she’d first arrived, Emily had made it clear there was a timescale here. She had fought with herself, trying to stay away longer and longer, but it hadn’t worked. She’d talked herself into giving Debra yet another one more chance, to see if she’d ask her to stay. To see if any of the feelings Emily had for Debra, Debra would return. Debra looked tenser than usual, and Emily had the sinking feeling that really, Debra didn’t want her there at all.

In the end, it was Debra’s brother Howard that forced the issue, having come over for dinner and already there when Emily arrived. Why was it always Howard?

Howard dragged Debra outside to talk. It seemed that Howard didn’t want her around either, and although that hurt, it didn’t ache nearly as much as the thought of Debra sending her away.

Howard had rounded on Debra and demanded that she pull her head out of her ass before stomping and driving away. It took Debra several minutes to realize that Howard had even taken her car keys, and she was now alone with Emily and would be forced to talk.

Emily had long ago decided not to eavesdrop if she could help it, and so she heard the muffled yet raised voices of Howard and Debra outside, but wouldn’t let her ear strain to make out a single word. There was a crunch of gravel that indicated footsteps, and the slamming of a car door before she heard it being driven away. Emily felt herself crumple; Debra didn’t even want to say goodbye. Emily felt nothing but foolish; how could she have fallen so hard for someone that would never, ever be able to love her back?

Emily was stood where she and Howard had left her when Howard had dragged her outside to talk. Emily leaned against a long cabinet that doubled as a kitchen counter, arms crossed across her chest. She watched as Debra returned to the room and shut the door with her back, leaning against it in mirror to Emily.

Emily did her best not to look surprised when it was Debra, not Howard, who walked back in. She watched as Debra leaned back uncomfortably against the door in silence, tried hard to ignore the digging in her lower back from the counter she was leaning against.

Debra took in a long, shaky sigh, closing her eyes to the rejection and pain she saw dancing in her imagination.

Emily watched as a wave of emotions warred across Debra’s face, and she breathed out awkwardly, eyes shut. Emily’s heart beat loud; was Debra working herself up to ask Emily to leave for good this time?

“Stay.”

Emily heard Debra speak, but it took a moment for the word to sink in.

“Debra?”

Emily’s eyes flew up to Debra’s, doubting yet hoping that she’d heard that one, magical word that she’d been longing to hear for so long.

Debra opened her eyes then, walking slowly towards Emily.

Debra walked towards her slowly, and Emily began to fear she’d made another mistake. She was so sick of getting things wrong, of feeling things wrong, she couldn’t take it much longer if—

“Stay, Emily. Please. Can’t you just stay?”

Surely Debra didn’t mean what she thought she meant. Surely she meant something else entirely, and Emily was misunderstanding yet again.

“Do you still need my help with something?”

That’s all Debra could mean. She needed something from her.

“No, Emily. No help. I just need you. To stay. I need you.”

This was too much. Debra… Debra couldn’t need her. Not like she needed Debra. Not like she wanted Debra. It just couldn’t be possible.

Emily remained silent, watching Debra come ever closer to her.

Emily didn’t want to move for fear of breaking the moment, and so she watched in silence as Debra stepped closer, and closer.

Debra let out another shaky breath and reached her hand out, hesitantly threading her fingers through Emily’s. Emily startled at her touch, but when she jolted in response, Debra gripped harder and brought her other hand up to hold onto Emily’s shoulder. She leaned her full length against her until they breathed the same air.

Emily looked down with a gasp at their entwined fingers, felt the heat from Debra’s other palm radiating across her upper arm. That feeling of home flushed through her entire being as Debra leaned into her completely, in one solid, warm, grounding line.

“I need you, Emily.” Debra’s voice cracked and croaked, and her breath came out staggered as Emily’s eyes widened in understanding.

Finally, finally, Emily allowed herself to believe that what she wanted most was happening. And it was happening right now. Debra wanted her. Debra needed her. Just as much as she wanted and needed Debra.

“Please…” was Debra’s final plea as she rested her forehead against Emily’s, noses bumping as she dipped her chin so she could offer the lightest of kisses.

Emily closed her eyes at the feel of Debra leaning her head down, the soft touch of her lips as gentle as she’d ever imagined.

“Please, Emily. Stay with me.”

Home. Finally, Emily was home.