Tainted By Our Choices

Tarred 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.

Tarred 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?

Goaded

For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise. And this is just as ridiculous and silly here as it was there 😉


“Jay. I am 34 years old. It is not a question of not knowing how to. Do you honestly believe that… just because I haven’t tried something before, that I couldn’t?”

Dean studies Jay’s face in that way he does when Jay knows he’s being an idiot but just keeps on talking anyway, and waits.

“Uh…” Jay stumbles, feeling lost for any kind of meaningful words.

He’s known Dean coming up to four years now, and on some days Jay still can’t work out how the two of them have become such good friends. Where Jay is practical, act-now-think-later, and very much a learn-by-doing, Dean is meticulous, researches and cross-references things he wants to know about to a point of obsession, and is the first to admit that spontaneity is a dirty word.

He’s also serious, thoughtful, loyal and compassionate to the people he cares about. Dean makes Jay feel he might be worth something, and that’s not something he’s used to being. And above all else, he’s patient with him, stays calm when Jay is close to panic, talks reasonably when Jay’s lost all sense of his. So it’s sort of funny seeing the slightest evidence on his face of being flustered that suggests for all of his blustering bravado, he’s actually a little nervous. It’s kind of cute, Jay thinks, then catches himself thinking it and pretends he isn’t.

“Yeah, Jay,” Matt pipes up next to him, grinning at Jay’s discomfort. Matt’s smirk drops instantly when Dean’s assessing gaze turns to him, as though Matt is being equally stupid.

This is what you get, Jay berates himself, trying to keep a lid on the whine that’s threatening to climb up out of his throat. This is what you get for arranging for your closest friend stroke not-so-secret forbidden crush to come over for dinner, and not forcing your kid brother out of the house you share. It’s inviting trouble, really, and he can’t blame anyone but himself for whatever’s about to unfold.

Dean continues to stare at him as this internal berating goes on for Jay, silently demanding an answer.

“Knowing the theory isn’t actually the same as… you know. Doing it,” Jay finally offers a little helplessly, flinching as Dean’s eyebrow raises a notch.

Jay looks longingly towards the doorway of the kitchen, to safety and escape.

He’s not going to get away from this that easily though, he knows that, acknowledges that the only way out of this is down. But he is going to have this out with Matt later, that much is for sure. How dare he bring up something like this, when he knows… Jay knows Matt knows… about… well. Things. About stuff.

“Well,” Matt relents after a minute, and Jay’s trying to concentrate on that, rather than the way his heart is attempting to leap out of his chest, “we’ve evidence, Dean. For example, from the last time you, uh… tried to help us cook. That… just ‘cos in theory you know how to do something? In practice, it doesn’t always work out all that well,”

“Omelette,” Jay blurts out, and for a moment, all three of them frown in sync, avoid looking at the black scorch mark on the frame of the patio door, and each other. Then Dean’s eyebrow cranks up a fraction more, in blatant disdain for their stupidity.

“I choose not to cook. It is not a question of not being able to,” he retorts, his scowl turning into a full on glare when Matt snorts, and Jay’s mind takes him back to the day of The Omelette pinpointing that as the start of so many of his current problems.

Dean had been insistent. Obnoxiously so. And most indignant, when Matt and Jay hadn’t believed he’d be able to do something as ‘simple’ as make an omelette. He’d raised an unamused eyebrow at both of them – very much as he is doing now – then shrugged out of both his coat and suit jacket in one fluid movement, and slowly rolled up his sleeves, all whilst Jay watched him open-mouthed like a man gaping at a beer after a taxing Dry January. Discreetly, of course. Discreetly.

Jay had continued watching Dean’s back as he’d walked over to the sink to wash his hands, dried them on kitchen towel like a pro, and then stalked over to the carton of eggs on the counter, bringing them back across the kitchen to leave next to the stove. Jay had swallowed roughly to see the pull of the shirt over Dean’s muscle and had stood, transfixed, willing himself to look elsewhere, but failing dismally.

Next, Dean had walked over to the fridge, bending down to peer inside in interest, and giving Jay a very distracting view of the way his pants tightened over his ass. Jay couldn’t help staring at things like that on any given day when he was around Dean, honestly he couldn’t, and at the time, Matt had given a delighted snort, grinning victoriously in his direction. Jay grimaces uncomfortably for remembering the look of comprehension on Matt’s face, still shrinking back from the wickedness emitting from his brother after all this time, wanting to turn quickly on his heel, and leave. Matt had that effect on him a lot when it came to Dean, Jay reflects then, fighting back yet another whine.

But Matt and Jay’s attention had then turned immediately to the bowl Dean clunked down noisily on the counter, and the way he threw in everything at once, before stirring the mixture vigorously and slopping it all over the sides.

Sure, in principle, the idea had been good; eggs, cheese, and bacon were acceptable – essential, ingredients perhaps, for making an omelette.

But, as Jay had sidled up to him, taking in the bits of shell floating on top of the mixture and the bacon fat sticking out like little white islands in a sea of yellow, he couldn’t help but laugh.

Even if Dean did spin on his heel and glare at him in contempt.

The second attempt, when the first had been thrown with some force into the trash, fared slightly better to start with. But Dean couldn’t seem to get to grips with the pan, and even Matt, who had been strictly forbidden from doing anything more complicated than reheating or nuking things in the microwave, howled in laughter, as Dean pushed stubbornly at the black mess that in a former life had once been eggs.

The third attempt, using up the very last of the eggs, had resulted in that black mark on the door frame that all three of them are currently glaring at, and Jay tactfully takes a slight step to the side, blocking everyone’s view.

“This is different,” Dean assures them with the most serious of expressions on his face.

“How is this different?” Matt laughs, boldy. This doesn’t really impact him one way or another, after all. Aside from watching his brother die from mortification. Unless it’s a really underhand way to get his share of the house, Jay thinks, considering just how evil Matt is, and what his limits may or may not be.

Dean stares at Matt curiously, and somehow that makes Matt laugh more. “Because, Matt. The omelette… incident…” Dean glares at them both for a second, daring them to comment. They do not. “I had never considered making an omelette before. It was not something I had ever spent a lot of time thinking about. You are both aware that I prefer to eat meals that are prepared for me,”

Jay straightens up from where he’s been slumped back against the counter, and his eyes narrow. “Wait,” he says, half-extending a hand towards Dean but curling his fingers back before they actually reach him. “You’ve been thinking about this? A lot?”

“Yes, Jay.” Dean tells him with utmost certainty, calm and assured as he is almost always calm and assured.

There is a look on Jay’s face that Matt instantly recognises as jealousy. He knows it, and has known it all his life; usually when Jay thinks Matt’s got more toppings on his pizza than he does, or has unknowingly poured himself an inch more wine from a shared bottle, it’s true. But still. He knows jealousy on Jay when he sees it, and finds himself smirking a little harder.

“With who?” Jay demands, stepping that touch closer, his voice tinged with bristling anger.

Dean’s face contorts, showing he’s really not sure what Jay’s problem is.

“I would have thought that would be obvious by now,” is all he can offer in answer. Which Jay growls, actually growls at, and Matt barks out a peal of laughter at, earning himself another glare from Jay.

“So,” Matt eventually manages when he’s finished his gleeful laughter from the safe step back he’s taken away from Jay’s mood. “What you’re saying, Dean. Is that. Is that. Unlike the omelette thing. You’ve been thinking about doing this. A lot. So you know exactly what to do here.”

“Yes,” Dean gives him simply.

Matt shrugs. “Prove it.”

“Matt,” Jay blasts out, eyes full of rage for Matt and spinning around, fully turning his back to Dean.

His eyes drop the second he feels Dean’s hand on his shoulder, and raise back up again in shock as Dean is pushing him back against the counter with no gentleness at all.

“Uh…” is all he manages, before Dean is against him bodily and kissing him firmly on the mouth.

There is a moment, a tiny moment, when Jay registers Matt laughing hysterically beside them. But it is only a moment, because right now, his brain has shorted out for the absolutely most impossible thing to be happening to him. Dean is kissing him. He’s actually kissing him, willingly, very ably, he’d very much like to add, and from the feel of… yep, that feels a lot like, well, interest, he seems to be enjoying it just as much as he is.

Unconsciously, Jay’s arms curl around Dean’s lower back, pulling him that little bit more firmly against him, making Dean moan into his mouth in appreciation.

I’ll die happy, is the only thought Jay manages, sagging under Dean’s weight.

Matt is doing all but cheering them on, resisting the urge to clap and forcing back the slight tears he’s feeling pricking in his eyes to see what he’s seeing before him.

Never in his wildest dreams would Matt have believed that what was a glib challenge to Dean about his never having kissed another man before, would have led to this. To seeing Jay, so utterly and thoroughly caught up in, well. Kissing Dean, like Matt damn well knew he’d been thinking about for an eternity. It made his little shipper heart sing, it really did.

Although.

Perhaps that level of enthusiasm was a little too much for his eyes, and oh hell he knows he just saw tongue.

Choking back the laughter that’s threatening to erupt yet again, Matt clears his throat, which neither Dean nor Jay acknowledge him doing.

“So, uh…” he tries pathetically, knowing there’s no way he’s getting their attention any time soon.

“Uh… you can thank me later, Jay,” he manages to half-call out eventually, backing up slowly towards the kitchen door.

Jay must be somewhat aware that Matt’s still standing there, because he slowly raises the hand he’s got wrapped hard around Dean up, flips him off, then slowly gives him the thumbs up Terminator two-style, before putting his hand back firmly on Dean, a little lower this time.

Matt’s eyes widen to see that, and he thumbs a gesture over at the door, making a quick exit with an absent wave, averting his eyes as he does.

Point of No Return

“You remember when we-”

He says, a reminiscent smile on his face as he leans on the terrace railing and stares out over the water. His voice fades away, but you don’t need him to finish the words, because you do; you do remember. A small boat, white with a navy blue trim around its flank. Sea spray striking your skin as wind whipped up your hair. Your hands on the steering wheel, though he was the one steering; pressed up tight against your back with his hands around your middle, gentle fingers slipped between your own.

A lifetime ago, you think, but it isn’t really. Can it only be three years since? Three years, for the love of your life to morph into barely an acquaintance? You don’t even know this man stood there in front of you, not really, not anymore. Not the lines of his back, nor the warmth of his skin beneath yours; nothing. You barely know yourself anymore, you defend, but it’s empty, as empty as you feel.

“I do,” you say, anyway, wincing at the words, because not so long ago, you thought you’d be saying them in front of witnesses. The ring still sits in its velvet prison, buried deep at the bottom of your sock drawer. You should have taken it back months ago, when you first accepted it was never going to happen, but you’ve talked yourself into and out of it so many times, clinging on for hope, which is what this weekend is all about.

You watch him in profile, and it brings the slightest amount of comfort seeing that reminiscent smile turn wistful before finally settling on just plain sad. You both did this, you tell yourself, though it’s nothing but fiction. Because some days it’s easier to pretend it just happened. Easier to act like you didn’t bring it all on yourself.

That small boat, with that deck so small, that you barely had room to step around one another. But that hadn’t stopped the wandering hands, the smiling faces, the teasing kisses under the fading summer sun. A lake house, a long stretch of decking to which that boat had eventually been tethered, and love made on a mess of blankets on that decking underneath the light of the stars.

You took that from him, you think, your stomach churning, as it always seems to be churning of late; you did that to both of you. Took something sacred, sweet, and centring, and turned it stale, and sour. And this weekend away, you hoped would claw it back. But how can you claw back what you took for granted? How can you regain the trust that you so viciously shred apart?

“I wouldn’t go back, you know,” he says then, quiet though firm, soft enough to make your heart both ache and pound, “I mean, I wouldn’t change it. Wouldn’t… guess I’m saying is, I don’t regret it; not a minute of it. Not even if this is where we’ve ended up,”

This, you think, tears choking your throat, then pricking in your eyes, as his hand reaches out to press over yours, slotting his fingers between your own as he once did, as he has done, so many times. This is over; there’s no point denying it, no point sprinkling it in sparkle and pretending the end isn’t happening when so obviously, it is. It has been happening, for months now. You’ve just finally run out of time.

On Being Guided

Jason’s recently acknowledged his attraction for men. His friend- now boyfriend, Michael, is helping him come to terms with that.

This is NOT safe for work, just to warn you. For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise 😉

“I’m sorry for being such a girl about this,” Jason mumbles, and instantly looks up at the click of disapproval Michael is giving him.

“I’ll never understand why being nervous about a new experience is something that is purely a feminine thing,” Michael tells him with a stern look, “or why being ‘a girl’ in this situation is meant to be something derogatory,”

Jason winces, instantly chastised, and reaches out his fingers to tangle around Michael’s. He’s not used to this, not used to watching his words, thinking before he’s speaking, and up until a few weeks ago, when he gave into his interest in Michael, Jason had thought nothing of the usual banter that he’d grown up hearing from his father and older brother. It’s been a steep learning curve, and Michael has been a very attentive teacher. In more ways than one.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it,” he says, grimacing to himself. “It’s just a… kneejerk kind of expression,”

“It is an outdated one,” Michael tells him firmly again, raising a shrewd eyebrow.

For a moment, Jason feels cornered, like he always does when he’s said something wrong. But soon Michael is relenting, rolling his eyes a little, but smiling as he nudges himself in between Jason’s legs where he’s sitting, and bending down to kiss him.

“There is nothing wrong with being nervous about this, Jason. It would be ridiculous if you weren’t,”

Jason purses his lips together and nods, trying to believe that.

It’s a few weeks into, what Michael still gets the strangest jolt in his stomach for acknowledging, their relationship, and while they’ve grown skilled with their fingers and mouths on each other, they’ve still been moving the physical side of things between them along at a slow, undemanding pace.

Yesterday, when Michael had trapped their leaking cocks between their stomachs and rolled down on Jason until they both came, Jason had allowed himself to wonder what it might feel like to have something more. The subsequent ache all the way up inside him for imagining that had him closing his eyes to it, and tucking himself firmly into Michael’s side.

Jason and Michael have known each other a couple of years now, forming an instant friendship when they’d been paired with one another in an evening Spanish class and gone for a beer afterwards. Speaking in Spanish is fairly easy for them after all this time, with neutral subjects such as ordering food and discussing opinions on whatever is in the news. But actual, honest speaking in his own native tongue, revealing what he honestly thinks and feels, is an alien concept to Jason. Yet another thing that Michael has been going out of his way to teach him.

So, because speaking is a thing they do with each other now, instead of loaded silences and so many possibilities for misunderstandings, Jason had said exactly that. How he thought he might be ready to take that further step between them. How he wanted to find out what it might feel like to have Michael actually inside him. The moment the words were passed his lips, Jason felt that aching clench again, and realised just how badly he really, really wanted that to happen.

Michael’s pupils had dilated to hear it, and Jason had watched as he’d swallowed repeatedly before he could speak. His kisses had been loaded with want, and promise, and carefully they agreed that it would happen sometime soon.

Very soon.

Telling himself they weren’t going to make a big deal out of this, Jason had mumbled a suggestion about maybe getting a room somewhere so they had privacy for it. Not that it was a big deal, or that they were making an event out of it or anything like that. Not out loud, anyway.

And as he’d packed up an overnight bag, Jason’s eyes had fallen onto the bottle of lube he’d brought with blushing cheeks at the pharmacy, and he’d had to drop down on the bed, clutching his head in his hands, and tell himself not to be such an idiot.

But here they were now, in a hotel much too nice not to acknowledge the importance of what was about to happen between them.

Michael uses the tangle of their fingers to guide Jason to his feet, dropping them to cup his face and pull him closer for a gentle kiss. Jason sighs into it, wrapping his arms around Michael’s waist and dropping his eyes closed as Michael presses right up against him.

Undressing each other has become something of a cherished routine between them, with every revealing of skin comes a brushing of lips or hands, leaving them both gasping for more. As always, Michael is the one who’s guiding them to lay down on the bed, and as his hand runs up from Jason’s knee, to his thigh, and rests lightly on his hip as he leans over him, the look he gives Jason is nothing but heated.

Jason reaches out a hand and wraps it around Michael’s cock, as Michael begins a trail of kisses over his skin. He doesn’t miss a spot; neck, cheek, ear, only pausing to give the occasional thrust into Jason’s hand and follow it up with a soft groan.

Michael reaches down and gently grips around Jason’s wrist, bringing it and his other hand to lie flat on the bed at waist level, and pins them there. He’s leaning completely over Jason and kneeling between his legs, and begins a trail of kisses down his chest.

When he’s at eye level with Jason’s cock, he glances up for a second, then flicks his tongue out and over the head, smirking at the stutter Jason gives in response. Michael wants to suck him into his mouth entirely, but already knows Jason’s body well enough not to overstimulate him all in one go. So, he moves on, raining kisses over his stomach, hips, and down his thighs, before pressing another kiss into each kneecap. With light fingers, he lifts Jason’s knees, encouraging him to lay his feet flat against the bed.

Michael presses lightly on Jason’s inner thighs until they’re parted as comfortably as he can get them. Only then does he look up and over Jason, and the look Michael gives him then makes Jason’s cock twitch just to see how much he’s wanted. With another kiss to his thigh, Michael leans up for a moment to reach for the bottle of lube Jason’s got next to him on the pillow. He kneels back between Jason’s legs, looking down at the bottle in thought before uncapping it.

“You know, Jason,” he begins, drizzling the gel onto his fingers, “I still can’t believe you’d never even used lube for you and me started… you know,” then raises his eyes to Jason and smirks. Jason’s cock twitches again, and Michael reaches out to swipe up the precum there, smiling again as Jason judders at his touch.

“I know,” Jason manages to choke out, “I know. But-”

“I’m not complaining, here. Seeing your face the first time I jerked you off with my hand all slicked up is probably one of the hottest things I’ve ever seen in my life,” he says triumphantly, scissoring his fingers in mid-air as he warms the gel. “Are you ready?” he asks then, glancing back up to Jason.

Jason sucks in a breath and nods rapidly, swallowing hard. His eyes are fixed firmly on Michael’s fingers as they dip between his legs, and as Michael uses one hand to hold him gently open, Jason’s juddering breath makes Michael pause, and look back up.

“Jason-”

“It’s okay. It’s good. Just… nervous,” Jason chokes out, nodding at him and opening his legs a little wider.

Michael looks back down, and slowly presses the tip of his finger in until the first knuckle disappears, glancing up again. Jason is nodding, so he slides in a little further, and a little more, until Jason’s blowing out a shallow breath, and flicking him a smile that tells him to keep going.

So Michael does exactly that, pressing his finger in as far as it can go. He stays there, letting Jason get used to the feel of the intrusion for a moment before withdrawing it again. He pumps it in again slowly, drawing it back out, then slowly in again, and it’s on the third stroke in that Jason gives a surprised moan that says he’s liking it.

Michael glances up, receiving another smile that encourages him on. He continues stroking in and out of Jason whilst holding eye contact, and Jason’s breathing becomes heavier as he watches. When Michael withdraws his finger this time and he feels him pushing in two at once, the strange, burning pleasured sensation it shoots through him has Jason dropping his head back against the pillow in a thud. Michael keeps stroking into him as though he’s in no hurry at all, smiling at the noises Jason is making.

It’s when he presses in and around Jason’s walls, scissoring his fingers and glancing them against his prostate, that Jason lets out a long, low grown, and arches up, unconsciously pressing himself down on Michael’s fingers with a grunt.

By the time Michael has drizzled more lube on his fingers and is sliding three fingers in and out of him at a steady pace, Jason is a whimpering mess, writhing and shaking his head back and forth on his pillow as his cock strains erect and leaking.

“Do you think you are ready, Jason?” Michael asks, and Jason’s grabbing for him as though he’s trying to drag him up the bed.

Michael shifts onto his knees again from where he’d sat cross legged as he’d worked Jason open, rolls a condom over himself, and with his fingers pumping into Jason to keep him used to the feeling, he awkwardly uncaps the lube and slicks himself up.

Michael kneels forward, lining himself up between his fingers to press bluntly against him, looking at Jason again, to make sure he is absolutely sure. When Jason nods, Michael slowly withdraws his hand, and he’s convinced he can hear Jason’s heart thudding. He presses his hole open with his thumbs and rests his cock head there, but doesn’t move any further until Jason nods again.

Michael rolls his hips only a touch, and only until the head of his cock slips inside him. He bites back the groan rippling through him at how good that feels, because Jason’s stuttering and tensing beneath him, and Michael doesn’t want to rush him. So Michael waits, until he feels Jason relax enough for him to push in again.

He gets a little further in, and Jason’s scrambling his hands out for him, calling out Michael’s name in a panic and gripping hard on to his forearms. Michael stops, slides his hands up and on to Jason’s stomach and rests them there, waiting again. He smiles when Jason unscrews his eyes and stares up at him in astonishment, and in another moment, he feels the give around his cock that says he can press in again.

Jason’s breathing out shallower and shallower with every inch that Michael is filling him, and when Michael is fully inside him, Jason lets out a soft, choked cry that immediately has Michael tensing up with worry.

He leans forward to kiss Jason softly, nuzzling against him. “Are you okay?” he mumbles into his lips, then pulls back enough so that he can see all of his face, to make sure that Jason is going to be honest about what he’s thinking, and feeling.

Jason nods his head frantically, shakes it a little, then laughs at himself. “I don’t know, Michael. It feels… I don’t know how it feels,” he says, and Michael knows he’s holding his breath, tensing against the feel of him buried inside him, not knowing what to do with it yet.

“Can we give it a minute?” Jason asks haltingly, his fingers fluttering anxiously at Michael’s sides, seeming torn between wanting to touch him, wanting to not offend him by not being more enthusiastic already, and just plain scared.

“Of course. We’ll take as much time as you need,” Michael reassures him, before smiling again, shifting so that he can brace himself against the bed better, and starts a long, leisurely kiss, that soon has Jason sighing out relaxed and reaching his arms up to loop around his neck.

“I think you can move now,” Jason whispers against his lips after a little while, and Michael waits another moment before doing just that.

Michael can’t stop the groan escaping this time as he rocks himself out and slides all the way back into him, because Jason feels so good, so tight, warm and slick, and everything feels so right, that there’s no way to not show how much he’s enjoying this. And after a few, purposefully slow thrusts, Jason’s giving that soft, surprised moan of appreciation he’d given earlier, letting his hands drift down Michael’s back and rest around his hips.

Michael rocks into him and does his best to keep his movements even, and steady, and Jason’s breaths are coming out more and more erratic and surprised. When Michael shifts how he’s kneeling, Jason lets out a stifled bark of a grunt, and Michael smirks, knowing exactly what, and where, his cock is hitting. He winks at Jason, and Jason gives a small burst of laughter to see it, then begins rolling his hips up in time with Michael’s, still with that look of utter amazement on his face.

And soon they’re a writhing, moaning mess, lips pressed into skin and glancing against one another as Michael reaches between them and begins stroking Jason’s cock. Jason lets out a noise that sounds a lot like a keening whimper, and he’s glancing down at Michael’s hand around him and up at his face like he’s about to burst with every sensation he’s experiencing at once.

Michael slows his pace a touch because of Jason’s expression, and now Jason really is whimpering, grabbing him impossibly closer, shaking his head, pleading brokenly for Michael to keep fucking him just there

At the encouragement, Michael is relentless, and Jason is choking out, tensing up, chanting his name hoarsely as his orgasm builds, and builds, and builds to an intensity where there’s a roar in his ear and a wave rushing through him, and he’s coming in a long arch that feels like it starts somewhere up at his throat and ends down at where Michael is deep inside him. Michael moans out to see it, and uncontrollably starts pounding into him harder, falling forward, growling out Jason’s name until he stiffens, arching hard against him, before spilling himself in Jason with a deep, rumbling groan.

Michael falls forward on Jason’s chest, and Jason gives a little huff at the weight of him, before pressing an absent kiss into the side of his head. He wraps his arms tightly around him, holding Michael firmly in place for a moment as his heart continues racing, before Michael is sliding himself out and falling heavily beside him.

The moment Michael hits the bed, he’s opening his arms wide to Jason and whispering for him to, “Come here,” then wrapping his arms securely around him as Jason buries himself into his chest. Michael rubs soothing circles into his back and repeatedly drops kisses down on the top of his head, until he feels the tremble in Jason subside, and knows that he is calm.

Michael waits a little longer, until Jason raises his head and looks up at him, his mouth curving up with a smile that is both shocked, and happily sated. It’s at that point that Michael grins at him, leaps up with a lot more energy than Jason thinks he should be feeling, and definitely doesn’t feel himself, and returns with a wash cloth to gently clean him down. Then he’s crawling back beside Jason, pulling him into his arms again, and kissing him firmly on the mouth, all while still grinning wide.

“Don’t know what you’re looking so pleased with yourself about,” Jason grumbles, although his grin has spread just as stupidly.

“Yes, you do,” Michael tells him, raising an eyebrow as he smiles once more. Then presses forward and claims another kiss.

Tainted By Our Choices

Tainted

Tarred 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.

Tarred 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?

Waiting For the Right Time

When Evan’s brother is in an accident, he’s terrified, and doesn’t know where to turn, or who to ask for support. Which is stupid, really, since Peter’s been in his life for longer than he hasn’t, and has always been a rock.


 

It isn’t fair, Evan thinks, staring down at Tom laid pristine white in a hospital bed, willing himself to concentrate on the slightest evidence of his chest rising up and down. Tom’s the baby of the family, eight years younger than Evan is himself, and all Evan can think staring down at him then, is that he’s failed him for letting this happen.

It’s beyond not fair, he adds, eyes closing in anguish at the sight of the apparatus set around the head of that bed, proof that Tom’s only there because there’s machinery keeping him alive. The bandage wound around his head speaks of swelling that hasn’t shown any sign of lessening, and there are enough smaller ones dotted to his neck and arms to make him look tiny, fragile there in that bed.

Tom’s a good guy, the best of them, never done anything but try to live a good, honest life, and do the right thing, every chance that he gets. And okay, so maybe Evan’s a little biased because Tom’s his little brother and he’ll never see him as anything but a hero. But he’s also never willingly hurt anyone, and that’s a heroic quality Evan feels a lot of people in the world are lacking, turning a blind eye where Tom is always sticking up for people. Always jumping to the defence of others without any regard for himself, without ever being asked.

Which is apparently how he got himself into this mess in the first place.

Just a day ago, Evan had been putting the finishing touches to a customer’s garden, enjoying the many perks of outdoor work in the late summer sun, when he’d received the phone call. A quick glance around, his careful eye checking for any small details that needed fixing, was interrupted by the scream of his phone, and Tom’s near-hysterical friend Steven announcing he’d been hurt in a fight.

Evan had driven directly to the hospital, the mantra that Tom was against mindless violence doing nothing but terrify him even more, for all the images and possibilities it stabbed into his mind. Steven’s broken words when he’d collapsed into Evan’s arms, once he’d found him wide-eyed and startled on a hospital corridor outside the operating theatre, spoke of Tom standing like a fortress, when a guy at the table next to theirs in a beer garden had been attacked. Of course he did, Evan thinks to himself for the hundredth time as he reaches out to pointlessly straighten Tom’s blanket, of course he’d done that. Without even hesitating. Without even giving it a thought.

There’s only the two of them, Evan thinks then, his stomach knotting over and over, half-glad that their parents are already long gone and not having to share this burden with him, yet also desperately missing their support. What happens next? Who does he need to call? What can he do to fix this? There’s a thousand things he needs answers to, but no one there to tell him anything.

Thank god, or whatever is out there, he thinks, that Peter is there with him.

Peter is a calming, steady presence beside him as Evan stands watch over Tom, twitching, trying to anticipate whatever Tom might need, or want, even though he hasn’t yet opened his eyes.

“I’m here,” Peter says, seeming to sense how badly he needs him, not offering any platitudes about Tom being okay, knowing it will do nothing to soothe Evan’s nerves. Instead he drapes his arm around Evan’s shoulder and allows him to shuffle closer, the only acknowledgement paid to Evan’s frustrated tears being the circling of his thumb repeatedly against his upper arm.

***

When Evan gets Tom back to his apartment to watch over him as he recovers, Peter is still there beside him offering quiet support. He brings Evan coffee, swiftly grabbing the rapidly emptying whiskey bottle from Evan’s hands with a terse look that speaks volumes Evan doesn’t want to hear about, and replacing it with a large, warm mug he can wrap his fingers around as he quietly nods in thanks.

Peter empties the bowl Tom retches into sometimes, walks with him to the bathroom when he needs help getting there – when he’s sent Evan out on errands to force him into getting some fresh air, and continues his silent vigil over both of the brothers when Evan finally succumbs to much-needed sleep.

Peter is also there, when Tom is screaming, crying out in the middle of a nightmare, and Evan is leaking silent tears of his own for all the things he can’t do for him. Peter rests a hand on Evan’s shoulder, and Evan breaks, grabbing Peter to him and sobbing wrecked into his neck, clinging on with a vice-like grip. Peter soothes with words spoken softly into his ear, and gentle hands rubbing reassurances into his back.

At some point about a week into Tom’s recovery, Evan thinks that in a fear-fuelled moment late one night, he’s kissed Peter, seeking comfort, reassurance, and escape. But his mind is so twisted in confusion with all that’s happening, and so bone-tired, that he can’t even remember if the moment was real, or just an unrealised fantasy that’s taunting him. That has taunted him, for as long as he can remember. Either way, Peter resolutely stays by his side.

***

Tom is strong, and begins to show good progress, with strength returning to his limbs, and wit making a reappearance in his words. Evan looks on, smiling proudly, reminded of a thousand times he’d watched over Tom protectively in sleep when they were growing up, repeating his mantra of thank you over and over for having him there to still do that.

As Tom gets better still, Evan begins to leave him alone for longer periods as a solution to his argument that he should go home, get out of his hair. He’s never far enough away to be out of shouting distance if Tom needs him, or wants to yell at him some more for being an overprotective mother hen; but enough to give Tom what is surely much needed space.

Peter is still there with him, and Evan finds it aches thinking about him eventually leaving when things go back to normal. His overnight bag’s become a feature of Evan’s living room, his favourite shower gel leaves a teasing scent of him in the bathroom, and his attempts to force nutritious food on Evan have filled his cupboards with strange new worlds of ingredients for all the recipes he’s got him trying.

Evan pauses outside Tom’s room, one time, hearing Tom’s soft laughter and a bemused, gentle mirth in Peter’s low, gravelly tone, leaving Evan stuck between listening and leaving, both curious and afraid of what he might overhear.

“Don’t tell him, Pete, ‘cos I can’t handle justifying all his fussing. But I don’t know how I’d have got through this without him,” he hears, and Evan feels a lump form in his throat, that he quickly forces down.

“You too,” Tom adds, and from the rustling sound that follows, Evan’s sure Tom’s reached out to pat Peter on the shoulder, or something.

“Evan wouldn’t leave your side, Tom, not for a second. When we were in the hospital waiting for you to wake up, I had to drag him out of your room to make him take even a five second break. He was terrified for you. Kept telling me, he wished he could take your place there, wished he could be going through it all for you. And though I would do anything for you, help you in any way I can, it’s been… difficult. To have to hear him talking like that. It’s probably selfish, but… I’ve felt so helpless,” Peter finishes with a sigh, and Evan wants to walk in and wrap his arms around his shoulders, tell him how vital he’s been to him throughout all of this.

“You’ve been here for Evan.” Tom answers, stealing his words. “That is far from being helpless,” Evan hears Tom reply, imagines his smile, and closes his eyes, grateful that Tom is finally smiling again.

“He’d be lost without you too, you know?” Tom adds, and Evan freezes at his words, desperate to know Peter’s response.

There is a pause, but finally Peter gives a soft, breathy sigh that sounds like acknowledgement, and answers quietly with, “As would I without him.”

“You guys need to talk stuff out, you know,” Tom tells him, and Evan thinks he can picture Peter shuffling in discomfort.

“It’s not really the time, Tom. We need you to concentrate on getting better, more than anything else.” Peter’s tone is decided, and firm, adamant he’s right in his thinking. He is right, Evan agrees, but it doesn’t stop his heart sinking a little, even if he’s not worked up the courage to do anything about this – them, himself.

“Pete,” Tom’s talking in that gentle, patient, explaining-to-an-idiot tone of his, and Evan kind of loves him for it. “I’ve known you for… it feels like all my life. You two have been friends since forever now, and it’s obvious to anyone with eyes that there’s something between you even if you pretend that there isn’t. If you keep thinking about it like that, that now’s not really the time, there’s never gonna be a right time. So why not make it the right time now? What is it the two of you are waiting for?”

Evan doesn’t want to hear Peter’s answer, too scared it will be the confirmation of rejection, so chooses that moment to go in with the tray of food he’s prepared. But it’s not like Tom’s words don’t play over and over for Evan, or stop him sneaking continual glances in Peter’s direction for the rest of the day. Or give him any chance of sleep later that night.

When he’s admitted sleep is just not going to be happening for him, Evan gets up, sighing heavily at the early hour glaring back at him on his phone, and pads through to the living room, expecting to find Peter stoically asleep on the sofa where he’s taking up what feels like just as much permanent residence as Tom. But Peter is sat at the dining table, his face illuminated by the screen of his laptop, and his eyes raise at the sound of Evan entering the room.

“Can’t sleep,” Evan offers in answer to Peter’s silent question, “What are you doing?”

Peter pauses, then reaches over to flick on a lamp on the table, and silently closes the laptop lid.

“Nothing much,” he says, coming around to lean back against the table, his hands wrapping around the edge, as he watches Evan. “Couldn’t sleep either,”

Evan watches back.

The silence remains heavy, loaded with unspoken questions. And Evan decides he can’t stand just watching anymore, so takes a courageous step forward. He bends slightly to cup Peter’s face and tilt it up, slow to give him time to resist if that’s what he wants to do. And then Evan leans down, claiming Peter’s mouth in a kiss that feels very, very long overdue. Peter’s hands are immediately around his waist, gripping Evan as he adjusts the way he stands between his legs, and pulling him as close as he can get.

The silence between them might not be filled with words, but there’s soft gasps and gentle exploration in their place, and that adds more to the sense Evan has of them finally getting somewhere. Evan feels hopeful, and humble, and more than anything, home. And when they pull apart to catch their breath, Peter’s smile for him repeats the same thing back.

***

When Tom walks through in the morning, rubbing a tired hand down his face, he comes to a stop at the foot of the sofa, his head tilting to one side as he considers the view in front of him.

On the sofa lays Peter on his back, with Evan tangled between his legs and wrapped up in his arms, fast asleep in the crook of Peter’s neck.

Peter looks at Tom, and Tom looks on back at Peter, and where Peter’s smile is small and a little timid, Tom’s is wide, and beaming happiness.

They nod at each other in unspoken acceptance of the change in circumstances between them all, before Tom turns and heads into the kitchen, a spring in his step and a hum in this mouth. He rinses the cafetiere, measuring out a generous amount of coffee, then settles it down on the side, fingers drumming as he considers adding another spoon.

Tom pulls down two mugs from a shelf, leans over to fill the kettle, then leans back against the counter, a gentle smile lingering around his lips for how ecstatic he feels for his brother. And with that smile, and a barrage of teasing already forming in his head, he turns around, and reaches for a third.

Finding The Words

James knows Darren loves him. He just needs to find the words to convince him of it.

For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise 😉

“You don’t get it, James,” Darren’s voice is low, and tired, and he stands as though he has never lived without permanent ache.

James watches him wordlessly, arms folded roughly across his chest, letting Darren speak.

“You just don’t. You don’t understand that I don’t get good things. I don’t get the happy ending, I can’t just have what I want. I just can’t,” Darren sighs then, looking over at James with pleading in his eyes. James can’t tell if he’s pleading for understanding or to be proved wrong.

“It isn’t because I don’t want this,” Darren adds, and he doesn’t need to say the words. This is them. It’s that thing that has brewed and bubbled between them for what is possibly forever. Or feels like forever. Ever since that first – and last time Darren had lapsed, and reached for a bottle instead of help on a bad day, when he’d been doing so well, not drank a single drop in god knows how long; that’s how long Darren’s felt like this about him.

Even then, in that darkest of moments, especially then; James had looked at him as though he believed in him, and that what had happened was nothing but a temporary blip. Darren has never had anyone show that much faith in him, and seeing it open and honest and there on James’ face had solidified for Darren what he’d been kidding himself for the longest time was just fleeting attraction for him.

“It isn’t because I have a problem with this,” he adds, and now he’s being as clear as he can be, when clear feels impossible, “it’s because I want this. You. More than I’ve wanted anything my whole life. And I can’t have it, I just can’t; you’ve got to hear what I’m trying to tell you,”

Silence fills the space between them for an age, and then James quietly replies with, “May I ask why?”

Darren’s resolve is slipping. The tone of James’ voice that is hurt and looking for understanding crumbles it, because that’s what James does to Darren. He makes him weak. “Because I just can’t, okay? I’ll ruin it. I’ll mess things up, and I’ll hurt you, and I’ll lose the best friend I’ve ever had,”

Which, in a nutshell, is the full truth of it. James has been one of Darren’s closest friends since college, with Darren remembering as though it were yesterday looking up across a lecture hall at the sound of a well-spoken English man, articulately arguing for his right for admittance. Or whatever the words he’d used at the time were. The point was, Darren had smiled at him in welcome when he’d come to sit a few feet from him, and James had returned it, and they had been friends ever since.

But it wasn’t yesterday, it was more than ten years ago, and James has been by Darren’s side ever since. His friend, his confidante, his rock. There through his many failures, there for his few successes, there for everything. How can he risk losing all of that by giving into all these feelings, when he knows without doubt that James could do so very much better than himself?

“And you could get hurt.” James adds, noting the omission.

Darren huffs as though that’s not a distinct possibility. That the thought of losing James, especially if he allows them to just… be… doesn’t kill him already.

“You could get hurt.” James repeats firmly, holding Darren’s gaze, in the way only James ever does.

“Yeah, well.” Darren shrugs, breaking the eye contact, “happens…”

James turns slightly, still keeping his distance from Darren. “I would never make promises not to hurt you, Darren. That would be unfair and a lie. I could only promise to never intend to hurt you.” James’ words are gentle, and Darren can’t help but let the tenderness of them seep through him for a moment.

“Don’t know why you’d be interested anyway,” is Darren’s response, scuffing the toe of his boot along the floor with his usual kneejerk change-the-subject reaction.

“I could list all of the things I love about you, Darren. Yes, love,” James repeats the end of his statement when Darren snorts in dismissal, “because I do love you. I have loved you. For a very long time now. But I doubt very much that you’d like to hear what I have to say about that,”

“How could you?” Darren mumbles, eyes still on the floor, and it’s a fair question. How could anyone as incredible as James; intelligent, attractive, kind beyond anything – how could anyone that amazing love him of all people? It wasn’t possible, not now, not ever.

James takes comfort from the fact that Darren hasn’t run from his words. There was a time when he feared complete rejection purely because they were both men, and throughout college and beyond, Darren had only ever shown interest in women. He feared that Darren’s outlook on life was already carved in stone by the views of his father, and although it was unfair, James felt nothing but dislike for the man, and the way he had shaped his son to hate himself as much as he knew Darren did. In situations such as now, with the full embodiment of Darren’s self-loathing making him truly believe he wasn’t worthy of him, that dislike flared ugly.

“I already said,” James continues, “I could list all the things I love about you. The reasons why. But you wouldn’t want to hear them. It would be pointless to force you to hear things that you are adamant you don’t want to hear. And will reject,” he adds, unable to keep a tinge of sadness and bitterness from his tone. He really has loved Darren for an age; in silence, in secret, at a safe distance. Never pushing, never taking more than Darren was willing to offer because until recently, until an evening where they’d fallen asleep together on his couch and James had woken to Darren staring at him with nothing but want on his face, James had never dared think Darren might care about him, want him back.

Darren’s eyes fly up, pain reflected there because of the pain he knows he’s causing James now. “I’m no good, James,” he protests, “no good at all. I’ve got… nothing to offer you. You could be with anyone, anyone you wanted… anyone at all-“

“You are who I want,” James interrupts, trying to keep his voice gentle when he wants to yell in frustration to make him see sense.

“How?” there’s bewilderment there in Darren’s voice, and he’s tightly gripping on to the edge of the counter where he’s leaning like his life depends on it. “What could I possibly give you? You could have… anything. Everything. But I can’t give you anything, James. I’m nothing,” he finishes with, his voice trailing away as he lets his head hang with a single shake.

“You could give me you,” James counters, “that is all I want,”

“You don’t mean that,” Darren shakes his head again, refusing to hear the words.

“Darren. I never knew want like this before I knew you. I never knew longing, or friendship, or what it is to be cared about. You are going to have to trust me when I say it is you that I want, because you were the first person that I ever wanted this much in my entire life. The only thing I’ve ever wanted in life that I still want,”

“Aside from brownies and pizza and cof-”

“Darren,” James cuts him off, frustration creeping in at Darren’s constant need to make a joke. He knows it’s a diversionary tactic and exactly why he does it, but now is not the time.

“I can’t, James,” Darren pleads, his words quiet, and full of emotion.

“What you mean is, you won’t try,”

“Not if it means losing you altogether. No,” Darren tries for firmness in his voice but it’s marred by the way he just wants to give in, to have James and to let James have him. Because as much as he fights it, it is the only thing that makes sense to him. It – James, is the only thing that has made sense to Darren in a long, long time.

“But if you keep pushing me away. If you continue this… charade, with me, Darren. Do you

honestly believe I can stand it? Do you honestly think I can stay?”

Darren’s eyes widen, and there’s real fear there making his heart thrum away in his chest in panic. “Are you saying… that if I don’t… if we don’t… you won’t stick around?”

James pinches the bridge of his nose, cursing his choice of words. “I am not trying to force you into anything you don’t want. I’m not trying to give you an ultimatum, Darren. I’m just saying, I can’t keep-”

“I didn’t say I don’t want-”

“I’m saying, it will hurt too much to be near you and watch you. With others. With another…”

James’ words dwindle away and he drops his hand heavily to his side. “When I want you to be with me. It will be too painful to pretend that all I feel for you is friendship, and to have to keep wondering if I’m too close, or if I should comfort you, or reach out to you. I am not so strong as to continue to act as though we are nothing but friends, Darren. We are that, we have always been that, and I cherish your friendship beyond… anything. But we are also more. So much more,”

Darren chews on his lip for a moment and then, says quiet enough for James to have to lean forward to hear it, “You do know that I love you back, right?”

For a second, James’ heart soars at the words he never thought he’d hear out loud. Sure, he’s thought he’s seen them in all of Darren’s gestures, the way he cares about him like no one else does. The way he remembers all the smallest details about him, and goes out of his way to make him happy, looking so proud and rewarded every time he makes him smile. That is how he knows Darren loves him, but to actually hear the words spoken is better than any sound he could ever imagine. All he can do is nod his response.

“So, you do know that me saying this can’t happen is because I love you. Right?”

Darren’s logic is annoying, because James can completely understand where he’s coming from. He knows how broken Darren’s opinion of himself is, of how he fears he’ll turn everything good to dust. He knows how frightened he is of that. And he also knows that Darren is rejecting him from a place of love. It doesn’t mean it isn’t rejection though. James can’t see past that, not when he sees, he knows, how good things could be between them. It would just be like coming home, to a home he’s never had, really, but now doesn’t want to be without.

Darren is watching this internal debate play across his face, and James swears he can feel Darren’s heart pounding from across the room. He knows how torn Darren is, knows all the reasons for it. He knows Darren. He just needs to find the right words.

“You say that,” James says, full of caution, “but you are still sending me away,”

“I’m not, James. God, I’m not. I’m trying to explain… I need you. You don’t know how I need you.”

“If you need me-”

“But I can’t need you. Don’t you get it? I can’t rely on anyone. I can’t have anyone rely on me. I’ll just… I’ll fail you, James.”

“You are a most confusing man.” James sighs, rocking on his heels. “What you’re saying is that these… intimacies… that we both want, we cannot have, and that you need me, but can’t have me, so I’m supposed to just be here but not be here with you?”

Darren rubs a hand over his face and a dry laugh escapes his lips. “When you say it like that…”

“It sounds as stupid as it is,” James finishes for him, knowing his tone is curt. He doesn’t mean it to be, but he’s hurting here too.

“I’m sorry,” Darren says, and his voice breaks, his body arches towards James even from this distance, confused by the pull to comfort him and the idea that he must, for James’ sake, stay clear.

James knows that Darren rates his own intelligence very low, and he hates that Darren does that. But right now, James can’t help think how ridiculous Darren is being. How can Darren be saying all these empty words, the things he feels he must say, when James can see written all over his face what he is truly saying? He can practically hear the longing, the wanting, the love that’s there. It just doesn’t mean as much, or anything at all, if Darren can’t manage to say these things out loud. It would be like using his not-so-secret thoughts against him, and there is no way James would ever want to violate him like that.

James decides to take matters into his own hands, or at least, to give them a nudge.

He stretches back languidly, knowing full well the way Darren’s eyes are on him as he arches his neck. He’s not blind; he’s seen the way Darren’s gaze lingers over him, knows when he’s wearing a favourite shirt, or a pair of jeans Darren really likes on him. He knows lust when he sees it in someone’s eyes. Knows ache, and god, does he know want. And he’s seen each of these things in Darren’s eyes, so many times when he’s looked at him.

James lowers his head, eyes pinning Darren’s in place, sure he’s hearing a solitary loud thud of his heart. He stands to full height, and very slowly walks across the room, never breaking eye contact.

“Tell me you don’t want me, Darren. Tell me. And I’ll go,” His pace is deliberate, giving Darren time to consider his words.

“I don’t want you to go, James, I never said I wanted you to go,”

“No,” James agrees, “you want me to stay, but not stay with you. You push me so far and then just… pull back. You keep… toying with me, Darren. I do not enjoy that feeling,”

Darren’s hands fall, crushed by the truth of James’ words, curling defensively into his sides. “I don’t want to hurt you, James. I never mean to do that,”

“So, tell me you don’t want me,” James prompts again, sterner this time.

Darren’s voice is barely audible when he says, “But you know I want you. You know,”

“I do,” James agrees, a slight nod as he stops directly in front of Darren, eyes flicking down to his chest where now he really can hear Darren’s heart pounding out a staccato, “but you can’t keep doing this to me.”

James tries to keep the hurt from his voice, because he knows that it just makes things painful for Darren, but he can’t help that. He can’t help it if Darren has made him so aware of everything about him.

“So. Here is what I am going to do, Darren. I am going to kiss you. I am going to lean in and kiss you, any moment now, and if you honestly don’t want me to. If you honestly, truly believe that this,” and he waves a finger between them, “is a bad idea, well, then. I guess you’re just going to have to stop me.”

Darren’s eyes widen and his tongue dips out to wet his lips; the action is involuntary, as is the tightening of his jeans in response to James’ words.

Again, James knows exactly what he is doing. He leans a little closer, and closer, practically hearing Darren’s internal monologue that goes something like please, kiss me now, no stop, stop, I can’t stop you if you do.

James pauses, inches from Darren’s face, watching Darren’s eyes fall to his lips, his own slightly parted. And then, he does it. Presses his soft, dry lips against Darren’s in one slow, chaste kiss.

He may as well have lit a stick dynamite, because that one touch is not enough.

James’ hands cradle Darren’s face as he reaches in to kiss him again, never for more than a few seconds, always giving Darren the chance to pull away. James can feel Darren’s hands twitching uncontrollably at his sides, until suddenly they’re not. They’re finger deep in James’ hair, holding him exactly where he wants him as Darren kisses back, hot and hard. James’ own hands wind around Darren’s neck and he presses himself flush against Darren, earning him a low growl and Darren rolling his hips back against him.

Darren’s kisses are not gentle; they are ferocious, exactly the kind James expected of him after holding back for so long. He’s been so sure that Darren wanted to kiss him, to claim him for his, to never let him out of his grip again. Now he’s getting confirmation of that, and James is overwhelmed by it, realising that all his fantasies about Darren like this have always been barely adequate. This Darren, the real one, is a furnace, ready to consume him.

James doesn’t mind that imagery one bit.

He kisses back with as much of his own force as he can, his tongue darting fiercely into Darren’s mouth forcing a moan out that flares fire through James’ core. Darren sucks on his tongue, chases it, moves his hands shakily down James’ back to press into James’ ass so that he can grind against him.

Gradually, the kisses lose their intensity, and they lean into each other more in comfort than

anything else. Their breathing is heavy, and lips find skin along jaws and necks before James’ head finally falls onto Darren’s shoulder, and Darren’s arms circle him protectively. Darren kisses him once, long and hard on the side of his head then sighs into his ear, sounding defeated. Finally, he whispers, “I could never have said no to you, James. I don’t have the willpower,”

James nods against him but says nothing, because he doesn’t want to break the spell that is them.

Darren’s hand strokes gently down James’ back, feeling his face flush as he buries it further into his neck. He’s been kidding himself for all this time that James had no idea, when obviously, how could he not? “Then why now?”

“Because, Darren,” James noses against him, “I wanted you to be the one initiating things. I never wanted you to feel I had forced you. That I was using your own thoughts and feelings against you, when you… when you have never acknowledged them,”

“Hey,” Darren raises his head to look James in the eye, “I’ve never felt forced, okay? This isn’t about being forced. It’s about me being terrified of screwing things up. It’s about me still thinking you’re making a mistake wanting me like- like I think… I’m fairly sure you do,”

James narrows his eyes. “Do I have to kiss you again to prove to you how wrong I think you are about that? About me making a mistake in loving you? Wanting you, Darren?”

“Well,” Darren replied, eyes again falling to James’ lips like he’s found a new addiction, “I’d kind of prefer it if you just kissed me for the sake of it,”

And James does just that, slow and leisurely, melting into him.

They break away, a long time later, looking at each other with a mix of awe and uncertainty.

“I’m still not sure about this, James. I mean,” he grips James a little tighter in case there’s any misunderstanding, “I want this. I never didn’t want this. I just… I don’t know how any of this is going to work,”

James shrugs then, leaning in to kiss him once more, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and leaning hard. “We will work that out together, Darren. We will… we will take things as they come,”

“Don’t leave me,” Darren pleads then, squeezing him a little tighter and gathering to him.

James sighs, slotting his fingers through Darren’s hair to cradle him, one warm hand splayed wide around his back. “I never could,”

I am you, and you are me

The crackle of the record player with every spin of the disc hissing in the background, the muted orange lighting that bathes skin with a night time glow. Socked toes, catching on the tug of the cream carpet pile with every turn, the brush of cotton beneath fingertips, the feel of fingers spread low around a waist.

Soft hair from a bent head brushing over an already bare shoulder. Shirt buttons against skin with every exhale. Breath, calm, steadier than the heart thudding beneath bare chest as a hand raises, stroking slowly up from the waist over the smoothness of a back. A head raises; stubble brushes back against stubble making breath catch; the ghost of a hint of a kiss as lips linger longer in passing.

A look; certain in uncertainty, a right when everything outside these walls says wrong. Shaking fingers snagging against tight shirt, seeking out shirt ends, pulled up from a belted waist. Buttons, unsteadily unfastened with fingertips revealing a swirl of wiry hair, an endless expanse to explore, a shrugged shoulder that asks to be rid of shirt.

Clothes fall to carpet, nerves numb to need; desire wins out over fear of defamation because here, here we are alone. Together. Where we are meant to be. Skin on skin, sweat on sweat. In this room, in this moment we are exactly who we are and do not have to justify it, or fear it – or fear other’s fear of it.

I am you, and you are me, and in this moment, we are free.

***

The thud, thud, thud of the club downstairs has the walls rattling. The desk lamp jolts across the desktop, teetering along the edge as we teeter on our own edge. A swirled thumb, a darting tongue. The telltale snick of a zipper being slowly pulled down.

Muffled moans on contact, catches of breath and clutches for more; a stolen moment, perhaps, but one that is ours, one that is heated, and filled with need. Even the anonymous voices beneath us do little to disturb but to raise a smile, before we’re diving straight back in, drawn to one another and submitting to what so many view as immoral, a depraved sin.

We’ve both lost friends. A never-ending cough, a night filled with disturbed sleep and drenched sheets, and lesions to the skin like a badge of belonging no one wants to have on display, or to ever have to wear. And no one is doing anything; stood on the sidelines, observing, judging. Silently hoping that our kind will disappear, eradicate itself with its own unnatural urges.

The clock is ticking, however, and now is not the time to dwell on the things beyond our control. This night is almost over and tomorrow will dawn a new day of keeping secrets, seeking reassurance and pleading with gods we still hope to believe in that it is not our turn, it is not us, nor those that we love around us.

Tomorrow, we will go about our day jobs behind masks and make believe, make them believe us just enough to allow us to fit in. Turn a cheek to hatred, to persecution, to misinformation. Go about our lives as though we have a right to it, to live, to exist, to breathe easily.

But for now. In this moment. I am you and you are me, and we are free.

***

The sidewalk glistens slickly under the streetlights after a deluge of rain. You huddle closer to me for warmth, lean in for a kiss as my arm wraps around your waist, draws you in. The couple behind us mirror our movements, shooting us a shy smile as we all look together to the front of the queue, see the newly engaged couple, so happy in their happiness that they are lost in one another, oblivious to the doorman rolling an amused eye, ushering them in.

Inside, the club is busy, vibrant, welcoming; there are cheers for the newlyweds, hugs for returning friends. Drinks at the bar, beats on the dancefloor. Safety, acceptance. A home away from home. We get this now; free to love, free to live, free to legally spend the rest of our lives together if that is what we choose.

Pride went off almost without a hitch last weekend. Only a handful of protesters whose ways were blocked by allies and voices louder than ours. A spectrum of accepted sexualities to match that of our rainbow of flags. We are equal, we are together. We are one.

And next weekend, it’s just you and me. A weekend retreat where we’ll be hand in hand, side by side the entire time. A shared bed in a hotel booked without secrecy or shame, because we can do this now. We are accepted now. And that ring box in my dresser that is burning a hole through my sock draw just reiterates that acceptance somehow. That need to have something that has been taken for granted by so many for so long.

My heart thuds at the thought of it and you smile, curious at my thoughts, squeeze my fingers and lead me over to dance without a moment’s glance back.

Of course, nothing is that simple. No day is without a comment, surprised look, falsified smile. No moment when we don’t have to second-guess stereotyping, steer clear of subjects people find unsettling, smile sweetly through insensitivity. Bigotry is rife in the undercurrent, unsilenced by blanket acceptance. Still a punch to the gut for each disparaging comment and every sneered out queer.

But for now, we are together, we are successful, living our lives alongside every other couple out there, existing in the in between beside our friends, families and allies. In a community to which we are sometimes tethered, and often tied, but that still questions if we belong.

Where I am you, and you are me. But are we really free to be that?

 

As Nature Intended

Cover As Nature Intended

Since presenting as an Omega at the age of fourteen, Elliot has been cautious and distrustful of the world around him. But he has overcome the obstacles of being an Omega, working hard to make a life that is successful and fulfilling. And that life is good; in fact, everything is looking good for Elliot. Which is, of course, exactly when his body decides to rebel.

Enter his Alpha, Oskar, who is just as reluctant to have his life disrupted, and as horrified by his own instincts as Elliot is about his own. Should they fight the inevitability that is their connection, or accept how right they feel together?

Now available! Read here

Driving Distractions

Driving home from a team building conference with the guy from the office who he’s been secretly lusting after since he joined the team, Alex thinks the worst thing he’s going to have to deal with is his own wandering mind. But then the storm they’re driving in becomes impossible and forces them to stop; here’s what happens when Alex gets really, really lucky…

This is NOT safe for work, just to warn you. For those of you who follow/have followed me elsewhere, you might recognise this story in another guise 😉 and it’s all kinds of far-fetched. Fiction though, right? Always room for a little far-fetchedness in name of, um. Self-discovery?


“There’s no way we can keep driving in this. It’s too heavy,”

Ryan grunted noncommittally at Alex’s words, his eyes narrowed and scowling out of the window over the rain-soaked road in front of them.

As if to emphasise the point, the car lit up white, and the thunder the followed rumbled so heavily they could feel the car tremble beneath them. The rain sheeted down, relentless, a permanent tap, tap, tap against the car’s metal frame enough to set both their teeth and moods on edge.

It had been raining almost all day, steadying only in its intensity, but when they’d set off mid-afternoon from the hotel hosting the torture that was a Saturday team building conference, Alex had been not-so-quietly confident, patting the steering wheel of his faithful truck in trust and ignoring Ryan’s worried repeating of the flood warnings from the TV they’d been watching in the hotel lobby.

Alex had immediately started making jokes about how someone from Louisiana should be used to a little precipitation, loving that he had Ryan to himself and that there was no one else around to watch him fumbling over his words. Ryan’s death glare for his teasing stopped him speaking altogether, however, leaving Alex awkwardly clearing his throat and keeping his thoughts firmly on driving instead.

As the day wore on, Alex’s confidence withered away with the clouds rolling in increasingly darker, and the wind whipping up a frenzy. He phoned Roger, their station chief, who’d been the one to organise the damned course for them in the first place, instructing Alex to get useful information you can present, and Roger laughed at his crankiness but told him to be careful.

They stopped in a diner, watching through the window in silence as the parking lot puddles bled into one another and began to trickle rivulets across the footpaths. Alex suggested they stocked up on food for the road and keep going, still insistent that they’d make it back by nightfall. They climbed into the car with supplies, drenched from the short run between the car and a convenience store, both of them grimacing as they pinched up the wet denim away from their legs, and Alex cranking up the heating a little more to try and dry them out.

There was a near miss when the truck aqua-planed, and careered across the road bringing a sedan coming in the other direction to a screeching stop. And Alex had to slam on the brakes quickly a few more miles up the road, barely stopping in time without hitting the car in front, as the one in front of that one succumbed to the rain by crashing.

The sky remained dark and dismal, and yet seemed to grow darker still as the day went on, and attempts to restart the easy conversation they’d had on the way up to the conference on Friday cut short with every peal of thunder and every squeak of tyre on road, until the only sound to be heard inside the car was that of apprehensive silence.

Another diversion, and Alex gave up. They’d have to find somewhere to stop for the night, no question about it, if he wanted to get them both home safe. The first motel they passed was flooded out, its one solitary welcome sign flickering ominously. The second looked to have no power at all, and starting to pull into a third was the moment the truck stuttered, choosing the most inconvenient timing to break down, coming to a sharp, juddering stop. Alex and Ryan pitched forward heavily against the dashboard with their air being pushed out of them with a huff at the force of it.

“You okay, Ryan?” Automatically Alex reached a hand across to rest on his shoulder, hearing a soft groan as Ryan sat back.

“Yeah, I’m fine. You?”

Alex gave himself a two second check over and nodded. “All good here,”

“We can’t leave the car like this, Alex. Not at this angle, and not so close to the road,”

Alex silently agreed, gritting his teeth against the idea of the two of them pushing the car in the pouring rain, both of them seeming to listen extra hard to it and shudder at the thought of getting out.

After a lot of grumbling to themselves, they jumped out and rolled the car to as safe a spot as they could in the pitch dark, dragged their overnight bags out of the trunk, and began a slow, unhappy trudge towards the motel entrance, shining out flashlights to guide their path.

The rain seemed to grow harder still over the short distance, and they hunched in on themselves uncomfortably, neither having particularly dressed for the weather.

Silent, and miserable, as even in their short walk their clothes became heavily saturated and their shoes filled until their socks squelched, their mood dipped even further at the confirmation inside the lobby that this motel was also completely out of power. There was no clerk to be seen at the desk at all, despite both of them calling for a good few minutes, and Alex eventually lost his patience, leaning across the counter to help himself to a set of room keys, tilting his chin for Ryan to know to head back out.

When they finally found their room number and closed the door behind them, the only noise to be heard was the steady dripping of water from their clothes, both of them sighing in temporary relief. Alex threw his bag to the floor and knelt, wrinkling his nose up in distaste at the way his jeans still clung wetly to his skin, and zipped the bag open.

“Here, hold this for me,” he handed Ryan the flashlight to point inside the bag, and gave a pleased sigh when he found spare batteries, then after a quick look around the room set his flashlight down on top of the closet, bathing the room in a strip of light.

“Get changed, Ryan,” he said, with them both tactfully turning their backs to one other, spending the next few minutes stripping down every wet layer with difficulty, and roughly drying themselves off with the towels that had been on the end of the bed.

Bed, thought Alex, sighing softly to himself. He would pick a room with only one bed, wouldn’t he? That was going to drive his imagination into a frenzy with Ryan being within literal touching distance. Ryan had only been at the station a few months, but he’d immediately caught Alex’s eye, and, he excused himself, it would take a better man than him not to notice the way the guy’s shirts fit so snuggly over his chest and arms, and the curve of his ass in his work pants.

Until Ryan, Alex had paid very little attention to the admin staff that worked with them for varying lengths of time, but ever since Ryan arrived, he’d found more and more reason to get himself into the back office, telling himself that his checking him out was nothing but discreet.

Alex closed his eyes, willing away thoughts he couldn’t let snowball, and looked over at the bed, switching to a mindset of practicality. It was big enough for them both and you know, he told himself. Shared body heat and all that. They had both got drenched, were cold, and there sure as hell wasn’t any heating in the room with the power being out. Besides. Ryan had seen the bed for himself and hadn’t commented, hadn’t walked back out again to get his own room key, so who was Alex to make a fuss over nothing?

He could hear Ryan’s teeth chattering behind him, and half-peered over his shoulder, catching a glimpse of Ryan’s naked back and quickly spinning away again. “You gonna hurry it up, or what?” he muttered, telling himself firmly not to sneak another look.

They both pulled on their spare clothes as quickly as they could, with Alex gathering up all their wet things without even hesitating, then taking them to the bathroom to ring out, and draping them around where he could. When he came back to the main room, he found Ryan had tucked his hands into his armpits and was huddled in on himself shivering, and felt a little pull of affection for him.

“Cold?” he asked, pointlessly, to which Ryan gave a single, glum nod.

“A little,”

“Well. How about we eat something real quick, then sleep?” Alex suggested, then waited for Ryan to nod and turned to hunt through the bags for their earlier-purchased food. Pre-wrapped sandwiches, chips, and candy bars later, and they were adequately full, and more than ready to try and sleep. Both continued shivering as they took a turn in the bathroom that thankfully still had running water, and when Alex came back into the main room, Ryan had set up his own flashlight to one side of the bed and was stretching up to retrieve Alex’s own from on top of the closet,

“C’mon. Quicker we get under, quicker we get warm,” Alex said with false enthusiasm, moving around to the far side of the bed. With another second to see what Ryan was doing, Alex reached forward to grab a handful of blankets, nodding for Ryan to do the same. A rustling of sheets, a mumbled apology for the colliding of thighs, and they were in, willing themselves warm.

Alex stared up at the ceiling telling himself to relax, as Ryan continued to shiver beside him. He debated with himself, cursing internally for a couple of minutes, then blurted out, “C’mon, Ryan. Shuffle over,” whilst repeating his mantra of practicality in his head.

“Alex?” Ryan said, sounding a kind of surprised Alex couldn’t put a finger on.

“You’re freezing, I’m freezing, we’ll warm up quicker if we’re… you know,” he said, resisting the urge to reach out a reassuring hand to encourage him. He felt Ryan tense for a second before turning a little, the room growing a little darker with only one of their lights shining out, and Ryan was shuffling towards him.

Alex swallowed a little thickly before turning to switch off his own flashlight then spun back, muttering, “Turn your back to me,”

After another few hesitant seconds, Alex had positioned Ryan on his side and was spooned up behind him, throwing an arm over his waist, attempting to seem casual about it.

“You okay, Ryan?”

“Yes,”

“You sure?”

Ryan remained silent for a moment, and then muttered, “I’m cold, Alex,”

Alex found himself pressing his knees into the backs of Ryan’s and squeezing him a little tighter. “We’ll warm up soon. Promise.”

“This isn’t… I… this is, uh… unusual, Alex,” Ryan finally managed to stutter out, his breath hitching and his voice so full of confusion.

Alex smiled against the back of Ryan’s head. Oh good, you’ve noticed… “Uh huh,” he agreed, and reminded himself that he hadn’t been already thinking that, questioning his actions, that this apparent ease he spoke with was a carefully placed facade. “You uncomfortable with this?”

“…No,” Ryan mumbled, but Alex could plainly hear discomfort in his voice.

“If it makes you feel any better, this is an old-“

“I know all about sharing body heat to keep warm, Alex,” Ryan stopped him, seeming to force himself to relax in his arms and even press back a little into him.

Alex shrugged, not knowing what else to add so leaving them both silent, and he soon felt himself begin to thaw out, his sighs shifting to relaxed ones and his eyes beginning to drift closed, despite Ryan still shivering beside him.

“You doing okay there, Ryan?” he asked tiredly, feeling himself on the very edge of sleep.

“I’m still really, really cold,”

“Yeah…you are a bit, huh?” Alex acknowledged with a frown, “I’m sorry I don’t have more clothes for you to put on either. Hold on,” and with that Alex was fumbling the flashlight on, up out of the bed, tucking the blanket in around Ryan who still complained at the loss of heat.

A successful search turned up a couple of spare blankets in the room’s solitary closet, and Alex smirked to himself in mischief before whipping back the cover already on the bed.

Ryan jumped, barking out Alex’s name in protest as he flicked out both blankets and covered him with them, tucking them all around, carefully under his knees and pushing a side in under his elbows, before sliding back down himself and throwing the main cover over them both. He shifted forward again to press against Ryan’s back, securing his arm tightly around his waist.

“Give it a minute. You’ll be warm soon. I promise.”

“Thank you,”

Sure enough, a few minutes later, Ryan’s trembles started to reduce, and Alex finally felt him relaxing in his arms before drifting off to sleep.

 

***

 

Even before he opened his eyes, Alex could tell the rain hadn’t let up.

He could hear it striking dull against the motel room windows and splashing down into already-existing puddles that he hoped wouldn’t reach out enough to flood.

With a soft sigh and as gently as he could, Alex slid out of the bed to use the bathroom, returning just minutes later to find that in his absence, Ryan had flipped over, and was snuggled into where Alex had been laying, leeching all the heat from there. Alex rolled his eyes, watching him for a second, then climbed back in as best as he could manage to around Ryan.

Ryan, of course, grumbled at the intrusion.

“Come on, man. Budge up. Share,”

Muttering under his breath, Ryan moved just enough to let Alex lay down and then pressed himself back into Alex’s side, this time facing him. In his sleepiness, he seemed to have no problem at all with being half draped over Alex’s chest, wrapping his arm around and wriggling to get closer.

Alex didn’t object either, only looking down to grin. He might not be able to stop himself from fantasising a little with Ryan pressed up against him like he was, but he wasn’t about to deny himself entirely. It was okay to just look, after all, right?

“Comfy, there?” he said, grinning what he felt was probably a little stupidly.

“Yes. You’re warm,” Ryan pressed his face into Alex’s chest, and Alex bit back a laugh, hesitating only for a second before bringing up his arms to wrap around him, drifting back to sleep to the sound of Ryan’s pleased little sigh.

When they woke a little later, the rain had slowed, but a quick glance at what he could see of the sky without moving too much told Alex that it was still dark, and full of more rain yet to come.

With their phones out of battery and no way to charge them, Alex didn’t relish the thought of trudging out to find some way to fix the car, or get themselves elsewhere. So he laid back in the almost-comfortable bed, and waited for Ryan to wake up fully, smacking back any thoughts of him that were less than clean, which was so much easier said than done with a sleepy Ryan seeming content to be held in his arms.

When Ryan finally stirred against his chest, he rested his chin there and looked up at Alex, bleary-eyed, muttering a low, “Good morning,”

“Morning,” Alex answered, smiled wildly down at him, “I don’t need to ask if you slept okay, since you used me as a pillow for the last couple hours,”

“You make an exceptionally comfortable pillow,” was Ryan’s first retort, grumbled into Alex’s chest in a way that made him hold his breath, and then again at how Ryan suddenly grew completely still.

“…Ryan?” Alex tried, attempting not to sound worried, but there was no response from him at all, which made it that much worse. “Uh, Ryan?”

“Shit,” Ryan cursed out, starting to pull away from him, “sorry, Alex. I’m being inappropriate,” and kept trying to move, only to be stopped by Alex’s firm grip on his upper arms.

“’Inappropriate’?”

Ryan looked up to see Alex’s raised eyebrow, and quickly slid his eyes away again. “Yes,”

“Ryan?”

“I shouldn’t be… sleeping on you like this,” Ryan blasted out in utter mortification, his cheeks aflame with the embarrassment he seemed to be feeling.

“Oh. Well,” Alex shrugged, untroubled on the outside but inside his thoughts whirling up a storm, “I get it. But I don’t mind,”

Ryan resolutely continued to look elsewhere, and Alex grew increasingly suspicious of his reaction.

“Ryan-”

But Ryan jumped out of the bed and moved to the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind him, effectively shutting out Alex’s question.

Alex rolled his eyes, listening as Ryan worked through whatever morning routine he had, then plastered a neutral expression on his face as Ryan returned to the room. Out of the corner of his eye, Alex watched him standing awkwardly beside the bed as though not sure where he should be.

“Get back in, Ryan. No point us going anywhere just yet- or catching cold,” Alex protested, turning his head to look at him properly and raise an eyebrow challenging him to disagree.

“You cannot, technically, ‘catch a cold’,” Ryan retorted, whilst climbing back under the covers, keeping himself back as far from Alex as he could. It lasted a second, before Alex laughed and pulled him into his arms, with absolutely no idea where he was getting the bravery – or audacity to do so. This was far, far too intimate behaviour to be having with a colleague he’d been crushing on since first meeting him, yet been too cowardly to do anything about.

“Ryan. C’mon,” he said, forcing himself to sound perfectly rational, “we’re cold. We’re… it’s okay. What’s the big deal?”

Ryan shook his head, and Alex saw that blush returning to his cheeks, making his stomach give a small jolt for seeing the way it spread out.

“What was all that stuff about being inappropriate, anyway?”

Ryan seemed to hold his breath for a moment then let out a long-suffering sigh. “Alex,” he pleaded, “we- we barely know each other,”

“So?” Alex objected with a shrug, telling his stomach not to then drop in disappointment, “we’ve got on okay this weekend, haven’t we? And we’re… I mean we’re getting to know each other better at work, right?”

“Of course,” Ryan agreed in a blast of words, looking at him guiltily then rapidly turning his eyes away again, “but… You- you can’t be… can’t not have noticed my, uh… my reaction,” he offered, blurting out the word so very uncomfortably that Alex had to turn his head to make sure he wasn’t in actual pain.

Oh. Well no, Alex thought, he’d have to have been numb not to have felt Ryan’s cock pressing insistently against his thigh, but that’s why he’d extricated himself earlier, because he’d been doing just the same. He was trying to ignore it. Failing miserably, but trying to all the same.

“Hate to break it to you, Ryan. I had the same reaction myself. We’re guys. We do that. Honestly. No big deal,”

Ryan continued looking away, shaking his head, refusing his words.

“It’s not a problem, honest. No big deal,”

“I disagree,” Ryan retorted with a harder, more adamant shake of his head.

“Well go ahead and disagree, but I’m not gonna be offended by a normal bodily reaction,” Alex told him, and there was enough affection in his voice to make Ryan look up, biting down on his lip as he did.

“You aren’t angry,” Ryan said after a moment, the reply coming out statement rather than question.

“For what? I already told you, no,”

Ryan took the tiniest of breaths, looked away again, and then muttered, “What if it wasn’t just a ‘normal bodily reaction’?”

“Uh… what?”

“What if,” and now Ryan pulled away a little more forcibly from Alex, “it wasn’t just a bodily reaction… but- but my body reacting to yours?”

Alex’s mouth opened and closed fishlike, and he narrowed his eyes, trying to decipher the meaning to his words. “Um. Huh?”

Ryan looked up at him quickly then, his eyes mournful, and so embarrassed, shaking his head all over again.

“Ryan. What are you trying to tell me?”

For what had to be a good three minutes – and Alex should know, because he lay there counting each and every second – Ryan daren’t look up, daren’t move, daren’t respond in any way at all.

“This isn’t the first time that I’ve, uh reacted to you. Like that,” Ryan blasted out then, looking surprised at himself for speaking, his cheeks flushing hard enough to say what he couldn’t finish getting out of his mouth.

“Uh-”

“I’ve woke up like that… after dreaming about you. Uh… several times now…”

“Oh. Oh,” Alex stuttered out, and it was his turn to lay very, very still.

“It’s inappropriate,” Ryan concluded in a mumble, looking as though he wanted to curl into himself.

“I… uh…” Alex began, but the words escaped him, and he cleared his throat to try again, “Ryan. I’m not… I don’t… I’m not complaining, here. And I don’t honestly know if I totally understand what you’re trying to tell me,” he said carefully, hearing himself babbling, but then his brain was several seconds behind the rest of his body and he had to make do with the words he could get out, “but I think you might be saying something about… uh… attraction,” Alex found himself to be blushing then, and huffed a little at himself for it.

Ryan nodded rapidly, keeping his eyes elsewhere. “Yes, Alex. I do. Find you attractive, that is. I have… since we all went for dinner at the steakhouse that time,”

Alex’s eyes grew wide at that, his mind going back to a meal they’d had probably a week or so after Ryan had started, and only able to answer with, “I see,” remembering how his eyes had lingered over Ryan when he was stood at the bar ordering a drink, and how he’d strategically managed to move from where he was sitting to be beside Ryan, who hadn’t seemed to object about the way their thighs were tightly wedged together beneath the table. Though they’d not acknowledged it at the time, obviously.

“And I’ve… I’ve never even been attracted to a guy before,” Ryan continued, swallowing hard, “at least, not consciously. Not admitting it to myself. Not- not like this,”

“Huh…”

“So, you can appreciate my… awkwardness,” Ryan added, somehow pulling away even further, which shouldn’t have been possible given the size of the bed.

“I guess,” Alex considered, then shrugged, feigning nonchalance, “still not a big deal, Ryan. I mean. I don’t have a ton of experience myself, either- with guys I mean. But… you’re kind of attractive yourself,” and Alex groaned at himself then, realising he sounded like he was flirting. Badly, at that.

Ryan let out a little surprised huff, and finally raised his head to look at Alex. “I… you do? I mean… you think that?”

Alex thought over his words, checking how ready he was for letting them out, then nodded, feeling brave. “Yeah,” he agreed, and Alex took another moment to deliberately rove an eye over Ryan as best he could in the badly lit room, “yeah. You are. In fact, you’re pretty hot, you know,”

The startled look on Ryan’s face had Alex cursing under his breath for his honesty, immediately regretting it. “Still doesn’t make this inappropriate. I mean,” he continued, allowing his thoughts to unravel a little freer. “Don’t mean it’s gotta go anywhere if you- we don’t want it to. It’s not- not like you’re pinning me down to the bed and forcing yourself on me, is it?”

Alex felt his heart quicken at his own words, and the image that he’d created for himself there, smirked to himself for his own reaction hopefully out of sight beneath the duvet, before catching Ryan’s eyes.

Ryan just stared back at him, incredulous. “Are you telling me that… it’s okay? To… uh… to want you?”

Alex asked himself that very question as though it wasn’t something he’d had very detailed thoughts about a hundred times over. He’d often caught himself looking at men over the years. He might have even had a couple of very drunken fumbles in his time, now that he was being truthful about it. More than a couple. But his attraction to Ryan burned that little bit brighter than any of that, enough to maybe acknowledge that that was what he was feeling. Attraction. Which up until then, he’d done nothing about, and was questioning himself as to why. Especially, he added to himself with a tentative smile, since the feeling appeared to be somewhat mutual.

“Uh, sure? ‘course it’s okay to want,”

Ryan nodded and ducked his eyes away again.

Alex nudged against him. “Hey. Want’s like that. Can’t help it, you know? I’m not offended, or angry, or… weirded out by it, or anything, if that’s what you’re getting all pouty about. It’s not like… it’s not like I haven’t had moments, uh… wanting you back. A lot of ‘em, actually. You’re… you’re kinda distracting, you know?”

As expected, Ryan’s head raised instantly, and Alex felt a little caught in headlights by his stare, but made himself keep speaking. “Just never really… I’ve never really. I… I guess I only recently acknowledged the fact that I was even attracted to men, so, you know. It’s new for me. And we work together, so it’s like… and you’re still practically new, you know? And as much as I really, really wanna get to know you better- as friends… more than friends… whatever, there’s just never really been a moment to just… I don’t know. Say something, do something about it,” Alex shrugged, “never been the right time. Keeping focused on the job’s what keeps us alive, right? Keeps our minds clear?” He laughed to himself then, groaning with embarrassment. “‘least, for me it means that; can’t say it’s true for you when you’re stuck behind a desk all day,”

Ryan nodded, slowly, and his expression told Alex he was thinking, and hard. “I like my desk job-”

“I know,” Alex agreed quickly, rapidly nodding, “I wasn’t saying-“

“Could now be the right time?” Ryan asked, interrupting him, and Alex thought he could hear a trace of hope there in his voice.

“…Now?”

“Yes. It’s Sunday. Neither of us are back at work ‘till Tuesday, ‘cos we got an extra day for coming to do that stupid team building crap,”

Alex nodded, grinning, happy to see Ryan agreeing with him on the ridiculousness that was their conference.

“We’re cut off from the world, temporarily,” Ryan continued, swallowing harder, “we have no urgency to leave, no one’s gonna be able to call us since our phones are dead. We can’t even go anywhere till your car’s been looked over. Is now a right time?”

Alex felt a smile spreading across his face. “Uh. Sure? Got to do something to pass the time, right?”

Ryan pulled away a little at his words, but Alex just pulled him right on back.

“Where’re you going? I was messing with you,”

Ryan let himself be pulled back against Alex’s chest but continued to avoid his eyes.

“Ryan,” Alex whispered, bringing his hand up around the back of Ryan’s neck, “how ‘bout I kiss you? See if we like it?” The words sounded calm, but Alex’s heart was jumping and juddering just at the thought of it.

Ryan licked his lips nervously and his eyes fell on Alex’s.

“Is that a yes?” Alex wasn’t about to move unless he got all the right signals from him, telling himself to keep perfectly still. When Ryan gave the slightest of nods of agreement, Alex leaned forward, and pressed a soft, chaste kiss against Ryan’s mouth. He crooked an eyebrow up, silently asking for consent to continue, then leaned in for another, opening it up a little as Ryan responded gently against him.

When he felt Ryan’s hand come up and rest against his cheek, Alex relaxed and allowed himself to enjoy the kiss himself. His own hands explored a little where they could reach, and Ryan gave out these little breathy sighs of appreciation that Alex found he really liked hearing from him.

“How’s that?” Alex asked, pulling away a little shakily with the force of stopping himself before he got carried away, and catching Ryan’s eyes.

“It feels… surprisingly good,” Ryan said thoughtfully, his fingers coming up to ghost against his own mouth.

“’Surprisingly good?’ What, you thought it would feel bad?” Alex laughed, pretending to be offended, finding he couldn’t tear his eyes from Ryan’s fingers, and then asked, “You’ve been thinking about it?”

Alex continued to watched Ryan’s lips as he swallowed a little awkwardly. “Only surprising because you’re… willing,” Ryan admitted, looking up then as though he couldn’t quite believe what they’d just done, “and yes. I’ve been thinking about it a lot,”

Alex smiled, leaning his head down a little to mumble against Ryan’s lips but not quite kiss him, “You’ve been thinking about kissing me, Ryan?”

“Amongst other things, yes,”

“Then don’t you think you should?” Alex asked, grinning, his heart giving a painful jolt.

“…I can?”

Alex’s chest swelled at that, that Ryan would think he needed permission. “Yeah. You can,”

And with a slight oof, Ryan pulled himself up a little and leaned his full weight down on Alex, immediately claiming his mouth.

Ryan, Alex thought, full of delighted surprise, had clearly been telling the truth when he said he’d thought about this a lot. He could tell from the way Ryan alternated the pressure of his kisses. The way he nipped at his lips, coaxing them apart. The way he stroked his tongue into his mouth, and gently moved his jaw to change the angles, with the most satisfied of groans rumbling up from deep in his throat throughout.

Alex was helpless to do anything but let him explore, and loved every minute of it, and soon their groans were accompanied by gasps, with Ryan straddling Alex’s lap and them rolling their hips together. Alex dug his hands into Ryan’s ass and held him just where he wanted him, with Ryan humming his approval into his mouth, as the rain continued to beat down outside their motel room.

 

***

 

The atmosphere in the car on the drive home was a different kind of tense than the one that had filled the car before the motel.

When they’d finally untangled from what was, to Alex’s mind, the greatest make out session he’d experienced in forever, they’d done a strange thing where both had tried to revert to their usual behaviour. It left them awkward, reaching for bags to pack at the same time and pulling away embarrassed when their fingers touched, or getting distracted when either of them forgot themselves and just stood there staring.

The memory of Ryan writhing in his lap had Alex’s brain checking out on him multiple times, and from the slight blush to Ryan’s cheeks when he caught him looking, the thought wasn’t far from his mind either. But they barely spoke, communicating only in awkward gestures, going out of their way to not come into contact with each other when they finally left the motel room.

As luck would have it, the truck started after only a couple of attempts, and they drove to a garage to have it checked out, still in complete silence. Once Alex had been reassured the truck wasn’t going to give out on them again any time soon, they’d got back on the road, driving for around an hour before Alex decided he couldn’t take the tension between them any longer.

Swinging into the nearest lay-by he slammed the brake on, and the second he cut the engine Alex pressed himself across the seat and on to Ryan, sighing with relief when Ryan opened his mouth to him and slid his fingers deep into his hair, gripping him in place.

“I don’t want to go back yet,” Ryan told him breathlessly between kisses, sounding both bold and nervous at once.

Alex paused above him, nudging his lower lip against Ryan’s own. “No?”

Ryan shook his head slowly. “No,”

Alex pulled back a little, and Ryan watched his face warily, seeming cautious about what his response was going to be.

“Alright,” Alex nodded, trying to sound decisive, like he knew what he was doing, “how ‘bout you and me stop off somewhere. Maybe take another night. See how we feel?” he asked, holding his breath and waiting for Ryan’s reaction, full of his own hesitation.

Ryan’s shy smile lit up his whole face. “You would do that?”

“Sure,” Alex nodded, answering his smile, “been pretty good so far, don’t you think?” He chose not to add that he couldn’t wait to get his hands on him, and didn’t think he’d be able to drive all the way back without being dangerously distracted by all the things he wanted to do to him.

“Very good,” Ryan agreed eagerly, gripping him with a little more confidence.

“Alright. Let’s do this,” Alex said, claiming one final kiss before turning back to the steering wheel with a smile.

After a stop for food, and Alex’s blushing trip for what he’d termed to Ryan as he’d left him in the car, ‘essentials’, the tension between them grew even more loaded with anticipation. Alex let out a sigh of relief at the sight of a motel sign, gratefully turning the engine off as they pulled into a parking space, squeezing his fingers around the steering wheel for a second to steady himself.

Alex had an idle thought of wishing they’d found a better location, but quickly changed his mind at the hungry look Ryan gave him across the seat. This motel room they paid for, upfront, with the clerk looking between them and not even bothering to hid his knowing smirk. And when the motel door clicked closed behind them, the very air felt charged.

They stood, as though put on mute, looking at each other for what felt a very long time, until Alex’s impatience won out and he had to get things moving. “Don’t know about you, but I could use a shower,” he announced, after clearing his throat and taking a couple of attempts to get out his words.

Ryan curled his fingers into the hem of his jacket, and agreed with a simple, shy nod.

“You go first?” Alex offered, rummaging in his bag for a charger and offering to do the same for Ryan, plugging their phones in, then listening to Ryan start up the shower.

Alex let out a long, long breath, and felt his heart thud heavily. How the hell had they got to this? Not, he hastened to add to himself, that he was complaining about it – he’d be counting his lucky stars if he was that kind of guy. But this, this, was like something out of every bad porn he told himself he’d only ever caught himself watching by accident. Hot colleague agrees to a night in a motel with the only thing to entertain them a bottle of lube and each other? It was far too good to be true.

Trying to keep himself busy, Alex tipped out his recent purchases, sorting through the snacks to pull out the box of condoms and bottle of lube, and swallowing thickly at seeing them in his hands, even though he’d been the one to buy them. On hearing Ryan shutting off the shower, he quickly flung them on to the bedside cabinet and scooped up everything else to deposit on the small table nearby.

Ryan walked out just a couple of minutes later looking even more shy than before, and wearing only a towel that left little to Alex’s already overactive imagination. “I assumed I wouldn’t need… that is… I…” his voice tumbled out, and Alex’s heart started pounding, both at how Ryan looked – incredible, that’s a good word, he thought. Completely fuckable was a better one, he added – and how willing, despite being nervous, that he seemed. Alex’s answer was to grip around Ryan’s hips and kiss him, hard, at which Ryan sighed in relief, and pressed firmly back against him.

“My turn,” Alex mumbled against his lips after a while, smirking at how Ryan’s towel now stood out proudly as he stepped away from him. He spun quickly to head to the bathroom and closed the door firmly behind him, taking a moment to steady himself against the back of it before jumping in the shower, finding himself being extra thorough.

When he came back into the room he found Ryan sat on the edge of the bed, the box of condoms clutched to his lap as he read the side of the lube bottle as though he needed to understand the instructions thoroughly.

On hearing Alex return, Ryan looked up at him, anxious. “I hope I’m not… not disappointing, Alex,” he began, pushing the bottle and the box from his lap and on to the bed.

“Not possible,” Alex beamed at him, shaking his head, “I mean, look at you,” Alex’s eyes travelled intentionally down from Ryan’s eyes, to his lap, then back up, and Ryan blushed, but smiled back at him.

“It’s not like I’ve done this before either. Not,” he clarified, “with a man. Not all of it, anyway,”

“What… what have you done? With- with a guy, I mean?” Ryan asked, full of hesitant curiosity.

Alex shrugged, and sat down beside him, freezing for a second as his towel began to shift, then realising that was pointless considering what they both intended. His towel slid a little more to expose a large amount of thigh, though still covered him enough to keep him modest, for now. Ryan’s eyes were captivated.

“I’ve fooled around a couple of times,” Alex started with, smiling when Ryan managed to drag his eyes back up to look at him, “maybe more than a couple of times,” he amended, more honestly. “You know. Hand jobs,” and his breath caught at his own words, even though he felt like he shouldn’t be the slightest bit embarrassed, “some fingering. Basically, a lot of exploring,” he finished with a grin as Ryan’s gaze over him as though he had no control over it, then raised back to his eyes once more.

Ryan sucked his lower lip into his mouth, biting on it for a moment before releasing it. “I’ve got no clue what I’m doing here, not one. I’ll be completely at your mercy,” he mumbled, his eyes dropping to drift over Alex’s towel.

“You can’t say things like that,” Alex said hastily, feeling the heavy twitch his cock gave at the word mercy, “and you’d be surprised at what you know. It’s instinctual. Has been with me, anyway,” he promised with a smile that was far more confident than he felt.

Ryan nodded, but still looked uncertain.

“And,” Alex added, leaning over a little, “no one says we do anything we don’t want to do. We’re just seeing what we like, right?”

“Right,” Ryan agreed with a forceful nod, then sucked in a sharp, whistling breath.

Alex sat and watched Ryan getting used to the idea of what they might be about to do, using the time to get used to the idea for himself. He wondered if he should pinch himself, see if he was about to wake from some very interesting dream, find himself waking to another day at the station where he surreptitiously found reasons to keep Ryan in his eyeline. But the air was too thick and heavy, and his heart racing too fast for this not to be real.

Alex shifted forward again, and that movement had his towel slipping further, with Ryan’s eyes growing wide as his throat gave an audible quick, apparently trying to swallow. Alex kept perfectly still, thinking perhaps he shouldn’t do anything to startle Ryan into changing his mind, but he seemed to have other ideas entirely. With one decisive movement, Ryan reached out and flicked Alex’s towel away, leaving him the one momentarily startled.

Ryan’s fingers were on him immediately, starting with gentle stroking along his shaft with just his fingertips that then slid to grip around it as Alex grew hard at his touch. Ryan stroked him, his eyes riveted in fascination, and it was only at Alex’s delayed but choked gasp that he looked up.

Ryan grinned at him then, full of mischief. “I assume you realised I’ve touched my own cock on more than one occasion. Kinda know how this bit works,” which just created a flood of all sorts of pictures in Alex’s mind that made him harden further, and the ability to speak vanish altogether.

He did manage to open his legs a little wider though, which made Ryan’s smile grow, and his hand dipped down briefly to lightly stroke over his balls, then back up, wrapping his fingers round him again a little more confidently. Alex found himself leaning back on to his elbows and watching Ryan’s hand on him, taking slow, measured breaths and letting out the smallest of noises that told Ryan exactly how good it felt. He grunted when Ryan swirled his thumb over his head, and somewhere in the back of his mind remembered the lube he’d brought, twisting around for it without taking his eyes off Ryan’s hand.

Within minutes, Alex was completely slicked up, and his head dropped back against the bed as Ryan worked him steadily, the sounds of Alex’s soft moans and the slickness of skin on skin the only thing either of them could hear. Ryan moved to sit cross legged between Alex’s legs, his own towel long forgotten, his free hand coming up to alternate between cupping Alex’s balls, and hesitantly pressing around and into his hole.

Alex surprised himself by the way he writhed and rucked at the feel of Ryan’s finger pressing into him, feeling a clench that said how much more he wanted. He opened his legs a little wider, snorted at the realisation that he was completely at Ryan’s mercy right then, and let himself enjoy all Ryan was doing to him for as long as he could stand, before getting too close to be able to stop himself from coming.

With a gentle tug on his wrist, Alex pulled Ryan’s hand away, sitting up fast and dragging Ryan’s mouth down to his for a filthy kiss. Raising to his knees he pushed Ryan down on his back, flicking his tongue into his mouth as he lubed his hand up. And the second he wrapped his fingers around Ryan’s already straining cock, they both groaned out hard, with Alex tilting his head to watch as Ryan’s cock slipped between his fingers and his legs jerked further apart.

Alex leaned forward then, keeping up kisses along with stroking Ryan for as long as he could bear, and then moved to kneel back, taking up his own exploration between Ryan’s legs, teasing fingertips along the crease of his thighs and circling over his hole. Ryan let out a series of short gasps at his touch, whining a little when Alex pulled away from him, even rocking up his hips asking to be touched all over again.

As Alex poured more lube on to his hand, Ryan raised his head to watch what he was doing, dropping it back with a grunt as Alex lined their cocks up together against his palm. He was soon looking again though, eyes fixed on Alex’s hand jerking them off, their breath heavy, both of them mumbling out encouragement for how good it felt.

Alex shifted a little again, letting go but pressing their cocks together between them then rolling down between Ryan’s legs writhing a steady rhythm against him. Ryan arched up, and Alex claimed his mouth again, mumbling into it, cursing when Ryan thrust up harder, and fought to match his rolling hips with his own. He pulled back to look at him, forcing himself to move teasingly slow, and smirked at Ryan with the dirtiest of grins.

“See, Ryan? Told you. Instinctual,” he whispered, triumphant, bending down to kiss him again.

“Or it’s just ‘cos you feel so fucking good,” Ryan replied with an unsteady gasp.

“I could say the same about you,” Alex retorted with, giving a long, slow thrust that had Ryan sucking in a breath, “you feel so, so good, Ryan. Why’ve we never done this before?” he laughed, then bent to trail kisses along Ryan’s jaw and down his neck.

“We’re stupid,” Ryan told him with a certainty that made Alex laugh, “and I want more,” which abruptly stopped Alex moving altogether, freezing above him wide eyed.

“More?” Alex asked, knowing he sounded like he feared Ryan was teasing him.

“Yes.”

“What… uh…. what do you want?”

Ryan slid his hands down Alex’s back to cup his ass, pulling him hard against him with a small groan. “Next time, I wanna fuck you. Really, really fuck you. Take that hungry look off your face when you think I don’t see you watching me at work,”

Alex swallowed thickly at Ryan’s words, and harder still for realising his looking had been noticed, then felt himself nod, earning himself a wicked smile.

“But right now,” Ryan continued, very matter of factly, “I want to feel you inside me, Alex. I’ve been… fuck, I’ve been thinking about it so much. Can we do that?”

Alex groaned, grinding his hips down without any thought behind it, though forcing himself to breath out long, and steady. “Whatever you want, Ryan. Whatever you want,”

They lost themselves to increasingly more filthy kisses for a time, but then Alex forced himself to sit up, fighting back his nerves and telling himself to get on with the inevitable. “Uh. I’ve heard. That is, I’ve read. That this might be easier. A first time. If you… roll over. On your front. Kind of… tuck up your knees under you… uh… if that’s okay?”

Ryan did just that before Alex even finished getting his words out, arching himself back as much as he could and looking over his shoulder in a way that made Alex fall forward in want.

Telling himself there was no conscious thought behind it, Alex found his hands stroking over Ryan’s ass, his thumbs pulling him open, his head ducking down a little to get a really good look at him. He sucked in a breath, imagining just how good it was going to feel to be in there, wondering for a moment how the hell he was actually going to fit in there, and then poured lube over his fingers, gently pushing one in. Ryan rasped out a little sigh the second Alex’s finger breached him, writhing back on it.

“You’ve got to let me know if I do something wrong, okay? If it hurts, or something doesn’t feel right, you just tell me, okay?”

“I trust you,” Ryan told him quietly, which did nothing to help Alex calm.

With a steadying breath, he continued pushing that one finger into him slowly, waiting for Ryan to relax around him before pushing in further still. He swallowed sharply as he pulled his finger back out a little, eyes wide at the way it glistened, imagining his cock slicked up the same way and pushing it inside him, how tight that was going to feel.

Ryan moaned out beneath him, and pushed his hips back a little. “I need more,”

Alex drew out his finger and added a second, pushing in slower until his fingers were in as far as they could go. And then he pressed, explored, scissoring his fingers gently until Ryan gasped and bucked against the bed. Alex gave himself a mental high five, and continued pressing, growing harder at the way Ryan squirmed and rocked back on his fingers. He pumped them in and out for a few more strokes, then added a third, which Ryan responded to with the loudest groan he’d given so far, arching his hips up against him.

With one hand holding him open, Alex continued to pump his fingers into Ryan, watching in fascination the way his hole puckered red around them.

“Alex,” Ryan gasped, “Alex,” and he pushed back hard against Alex’s hand, seeming to have lost the ability to say anything else.

“Okay. Just give me a minute, okay?” Alex asked, the words coming out scratchy and halted. Withdrawing his fingers altogether, and as quick as he could manage with nervous hands, Alex tore off a condom from the strip in the box, rolling it down over himself firmly and pressing it firm around his base. He took another steadying breath, then kneeled forward, pausing again to put another slick over lube over himself, then resting his hands on Ryan’s hips and pressing his cock against the crack of his ass.

“You okay there?” he asked, shuddering forward at the way Ryan rolled his hips up in response.

Alex thumbed him open again, groaning at how wide he now looked after his fingers had gone to work on him. He pressed his tip up against him, sucking in his breath as he watched his head slide in, at which Ryan gasped, but pushed back to urge Alex on. Alex pressed in, inch by inch, stopping each time Ryan tensed up until he relaxed around him, until he was fully inside and he couldn’t hold back the groan punching its way out of his throat. He took a moment to flex himself, feeling his cock been squeezed by the tightness of Ryan’s ass, listened as Ryan whined for him to move, grinding back against him, and then Alex was gone.

His fingers slid around to grip onto Ryan’s hips, and as slow as he could manage, he pulled out, leaning back to watch himself slide repeatedly in. He tried to keep it slow, he really did. But like he’d told Ryan; instinct. And instinct had him pounding out of control before he knew it, falling forward and leaning right down on Ryan one moment before straightening back up and moving Ryan’s hips to angles that made Ryan moan and grunt beneath him.

Ryan changed his position, spreading his legs a little and dropping down onto one arm, and Alex realised he was stroking himself. Cursing, he thrust in harder, gripping tight, leaving finger marks deep into Ryan’s skin.

“Alex,” Ryan breathed out, and he tensed a little, “I think I’m-”

But Alex cut off his words, chasing a point in Ryan that felt mind numbingly good, and only seemed to feel even better as he felt Ryan come with a hard, short gasp. Two, three, four more thrusts, and Alex was joining him, cursing again and falling forwards once more. He flung out his arms to stop himself collapsing entirely, panting out over Ryan’s ear with a tired, filthy groan.

It took them a while to calm enough to move, since their legs were shaking so hard from the pressure of them both kneeling for so long. But eventually, Alex pulled himself out, and on wobbly legs stood to tie and throw the condom in the trash. He grabbed the bottles of water he’d bought and passed one to Ryan as he rolled over, adamantly not laughing at Ryan’s grimace as he found the wet patch on the cover beneath him.

“Stay there,” he said, returning moments later with a damp towel that he cleaned Ryan off with before wiping away the worst of the mess they’d made on the bed. He nudged for Ryan to move, and together they pulled the blanket down to lay on the sheets.

They lay, taking long sips of water, for several minutes in complete silence.

“So,” Alex started, when he’d managed to untangle his thoughts from his brain, and if he was honest, his orgasm which had rendered him temporarily dumb, “How was that?”

Ryan turned from him to put his bottle on the floor beside the bed then rolled back, grabbing Alex’s face and pulling it down to his, flicking his tongue into Alex’s mouth. “I have every intention of repeating that with you, as often as you’ll let me,” he answered, smiling around his kiss.

“Does that mean you enjoyed it? ‘Cos that… I can’t tell you how good that felt to me,” Alex sucked in a breath, somehow suddenly bashful. With a wink, Ryan pulled and rolled Alex until he was bracketed between his arms, trading languid kisses until they fell asleep.

 

***

 

The atmosphere in the car on the drive home was a different kind of tense entirely when they eventually left the motel the following morning.

They had barely come up for air.

There had been a long, loaded make out session that had started out slow and calm in the aftermath of their first time together. It had quickly built into something of a frenzy, with Ryan pounding Alex into the mattress with a ferocity that Alex could only whimper at, the feeling of being filled and fucked like nothing he could ever have imagined, but absolutely something he wanted over and over (and over) again.

Alex woke Ryan with his first attempt at giving head, which Ryan seemed to like so much that he groaned loud enough for the neighbouring room to hammer on the adjoining wall. And Ryan had later crawled over Alex, teasing him hard with his hands and his mouth before straddling him, and sliding down on to him, rocking frustratingly slowly until Alex couldn’t take any more and gripped tight around his waist so he could piston up into him from beneath.

It had taken them an incredibly long time to get ready, what with sharing a shower, getting distracted when they tried to dress, and kisses that rendered them useless and unable to move.

The tension in the car was a loaded kind of, what now?

There had been very few words between them really, since that first kiss in that first motel, and it seemed to have dawned on them both at the same time that they had hours ahead of them in the car, giving them the perfect opportunity to talk. With both of them reluctant to start.

Eventually, Alex cleared his throat and gave a cautious glance over at Ryan. “You okay there?”

“I’m good,”

“Yeah?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t feel like talking?”

Ryan turned to him slightly, a small smile. “I’m quite tired, Alex,”

Alex’s own face cracked into a grin. “Yeah… yeah, me too,”

“Do you think we should talk, Alex?”

Alex turned his gaze back to the road. “Probably,”

“But you don’t want to?” Ryan guessed, pursing his lips together and looking what Alex thought might be either disappointed, or sad. Alex smiled in an attempt to reassure him, though ended up frowning a little and taking a few minutes to think about what he wanted to say.

“When we get back…” he started with, darting another quick look at Ryan to gauge his reaction, “I don’t wanna act like nothing’s changed,”

Ryan nodded but didn’t add anything, silently telling Alex he needed to keep talking, so he cleared his throat, and begged himself not to mess it up.

“I don’t… I don’t have any problem at all with anyone knowing I’m… we’re… whatever we are now,” Alex continued, as cautiously as possible, “but I don’t know what we do now. I mean,” and he shifted a little in his seat as the thought hit him, “I don’t know what you expect either, actually.”

Ryan pursed his lips again, obviously thinking, reaching out almost absently to take Alex’s hand in his grip, then stroking a thumb over the back of it, which Alex loved.

“I don’t wanna pretend like this whole thing never happened,” Ryan said, equally cautious, glancing over at Alex to see how he received his words and smiling in relief when he winked back at him, “and I very much want to have sex with you again,” Ryan added with a finality that suggested Alex had better agree, or else. He did, readily, squeezing Ryan’s hand in reassurance.

“Me too, Ryan. Just try and stop me,” he turned to wink at him, and Ryan blushed, looking away. “Just… not to be jumping the gun or anything. But I can’t promise to be any good at relationship stuff. Kinda suck at that,” Alex groaned, feeling his shoulders drop at the admission.

“And we work together,” Ryan added, frowning a little himself.

“And we work together,” Alex repeated, wondering how the hell they were supposed to navigate that? Or even how he’d keep his hands off Ryan in the office now he’d had all that skin against his palms.

Ryan nodded, thoughtful. ““I would be… uncomfortable. If… if we were to keep doing this and still see other people. I’ve got… I’ve got no problem us keeping this just between us for a while; in fact, it’s probably a good idea while we figure this out. But I don’t… I don’t want there to- to be anyone else in the equation, here. It’s… I don’t want that at all,”

Alex thought that a solemn Ryan sounded cute beyond all measure, but didn’t see the need to tell him that. “So, what you’re saying, Ryan, is that you want me to yourself, huh?” Alex concluded with him unable to hold back his smile, squeezing Ryan’s hand as he spoke.

“I understand if that’s a bit too much,” Ryan sighed, looking down at their joined hands, which Alex squeezed again, asking him to look back up.

“Ryan. Seriously. Any idea the last I had sex with someone? Before you?” he grinned, stopping Ryan from whatever he was about to say. Ryan shook his head, and Alex paused for a second to think about it himself, then laughed. “Me neither. Months, I guess. Not exactly been interested,”

“But you are interested. In me,” Ryan asked, for clarification, biting down on his lip.

“Hell, yeah. I’m all kinds of interested in you. There’s… there’s so much we… yeah. I’m interested, Ryan,” he settled for, and Ryan seemed to consider his words, find himself happy with what he heard.

“So. It doesn’t need to be complicated. We can… we can take it one step at a time. Right?” Ryan asked, turning to him shyly, but with an expectant expression on his face.

Alex looked back at him, smiling easily. “Alright. Sounds good to me. One step at a time, right?”

“Agreed.”

“I can’t promise I won’t mess up,” He warned, looking back to the road, worry on his face.

“Neither can I. Alex,” Ryan laughed, shifting in his seat, both of them fidgety and on edge, “let’s just… see what happens. Not- not force each other into anything we’re not ready for. Just… see how it goes,”

Alex squeezed his hand again, feeling himself relax. And then, “So that’s it?” Alex he asked, disbelievingly, leaving Ryan looking back at him, silently asking what he meant. “I mean. This whole thing kinda happened by accident. Which I am not complaining about,” he hastened to add. “But. I’m not used to things going… easy,”

Ryan shrugged, staring out of the window. “Me neither. Maybe we get an ‘easy’ now and then, sometimes,”

Alex gave a short huh before they grew silent again, and then to Ryan’s surprise they were pulling over.

“Alex,”

“Shh…”

And Alex was leaning over to Ryan, sighing a kiss into his mouth.

Ryan groaned, wrapping his arms to loop around Alex’s neck and chasing his tongue.

“Alex,” he mumbled between kisses, biting a little at Alex’s lips and enjoying the way he gasped at that, “Can I tell you what I want, Alex?”

“Sure,” Alex breathed into his skin, mentally calculating how much longer it would take them to get home.

“I want you on top of me. And I want you… on my cock. And I want you… in my hand,”

Alex whined a little at the image that gave him and the way he strained against his zip.

“Can we do that, Alex? Can we do that now?”

Here?” Alex asked in surprise, as though the idea of having sex in a car had never occurred to him before.

“There’s ample room your back seat,” Ryan reasoned, sliding his hands all over him greedily.

“I don’t know about ample,” Alex started, quickly kissing away the grumble from Ryan’s lips, “but we’ll give it a go. Something, anyway,” he added at the look on Ryan’s face.

Not taking his eyes from Alex, Ryan started unbuttoning his jeans and stroking himself to get Alex’s full attention. It worked.

“You,” Alex growled, leaning once more to kiss him, “back seat. Now,”

Ryan grinned at him triumphantly for a second then scrambled into the back seat quickly with Alex following him right behind.

“If you won’t let me fuck you here, Alex,” and the obscenity on Ryan’s lips hit Alex hard with lust, “then I am going to at least taste you,”

In what felt like one single move, Ryan unzipped him, pulled down his jeans and boxers, yanked off his jacket and pushed up his shirt. And then was down, licking along Alex’s length before sucking on his head with a hungry moan.

It was all that Alex could do to hold on to something, anything he could grab, bracing himself back against the window and one hand at the headrest, as Ryan swallowed him down, his hands pressed Alex’s legs open and preventing him from moving around too much. The noises Ryan made just added to the build Alex felt in his gut, and all he could do was grunt and gasp in response.

But then Ryan was moving and kneeling half on the seat and half on the floor. “I need to come too,” he said anxiously as he unzipped himself. Alex’s eyes flew to where Ryan sprung free and he reached out for him, gripping him firmly and smiling as Ryan rocked into his hand.

“Come here,” Alex muttered, angling himself to line their cocks up together. Ryan looked down to Alex’s hand as he stroked them, lacing his fingers in the gaps between to join him. They both watched for a minute and then Alex picked up the pace, with Ryan pushing up their shirts out of the way to give them a better view. Faster and faster became the slap of their skin, thrusting up into the circle of their hands with increasingly desperate grunts, urging each other on with filthy encouragement.

“Come for me, Ryan,” Alex whispered when he knew he was close, and he did, seconds before Alex, both moaning into each other’s mouths and feeling their come grow cold on their chests. With smiles pressed to lips and hums of sated approval they sprawled out on the back seat to catch their breath, laughing when they realised they had nothing to clean themselves down with.

 

***

 

The drive had been significantly lengthened by frequent make out stops, and there had been discussions about boundaries they carefully agreed on together for this very new development in their relationship. By the time they were almost back, the atmosphere had again shifted, this time to nothing but wanting. About five miles out, Ryan idly began tracing his fingers over Alex’s thigh before reaching to stroke along his length through his jeans, pinching his way along the growing swell there until Alex growled that he’d be driving them off the road if he didn’t stop.

Ryan did stop, for all of a minute, then pulled Alex’s hand between his own legs, tracing Alex’s fingertips over his own straining fly instead.

“Come to mine,” Alex growled, his breath catching at Ryan’s easy agreement, squeezing around his length in reward.

A few minutes later, Alex threw the car into his parking spot a lot less smooth than usual, taking barely a second between pulling on the brake and grabbing Ryan roughly into his lap to grind up against.

Ryan’s hands were up and under Alex’s shirt immediately, straight to running his fingernails over Alex’s nipples after very recently discovering how much Alex liked that. And a little later still, once they’d managed to get themselves to Alex’s bedroom, Alex arched his back leisurely, leaning up into Ryan’s kiss and stroking a lazy hand down his back as Ryan rocked into him.

Ryan moaned against his lips, before shifting his hold on Alex to angle his hips and drift his hands up the back of Alex’s thighs, holding his knees high and as far apart as he could. He thrusted hard, once, smiling at Alex’s answering groan, pulling out slowly before doing it again, and again, forcing out noises from Alex that he couldn’t get enough of.

Reaching down between them, Ryan rubbed his palm over Alex’s cock head, smearing the precum there down his shaft and stroking him in time to his thrusts as Alex fell apart beneath him, groaning out brokenly as he came.

Ryan chased down his own orgasm, then collapsed on top of him, thoroughly spent. When his breath was back, and he’d tied off the condom, he climbed back on to the bed, pulled Alex into his arms, and told him he’d be staying the night, then promptly fell asleep, leaving Alex to grin to himself at just how lucky he’d gotten, before snuggling back against him and falling asleep himself.