Relationships 201 by Alix Bekins



Stephan Burke's relationship with Eric has hit a rough patch, and they can't seem to reconnect after their summer apart. Despite being good together, Stephan feels something undefinable is missing. Now starting grad school, he's meeting up with old friends who offer not-so-sage-advice, rediscovering how much time schoolwork consumes, and—Eric aside—crushing hard on the professor he works for. 


Professor Jeffrey Tegan is new to campus and eager to befriend his TA. Jeff turns out to be almost everything Stephan has ever wanted in a man: he's smart, outdoorsy, likes music, and is smokin' hot. Only Jeff is just getting over his recent divorce, and Stephan has no reason to think Jeff is anything other than totally straight. He knows his crush on his professor is clichéd and ridiculous, but he's not fulfilled by what he has with Eric...  is it so unreasonable to want more?


Cover ArtistCatt Ford
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Read an Excerpt:



STEPHAN cracks open a beer as he flops down on the avocado-green couch, wincing at the creaking noise from the battered piece of furniture. It’s probably a decade older than he is, bought by the university to furnish the “new” graduate student housing when it was first built in the late 1960s. Still, it’s good to be back on campus.

“Lazy bastard,” Jim groans, lumbering through the door with a box nearly larger than his torso.

“Fuck you; I’m finished,” Stephan says with a grin, swinging his feet up onto the coffee table.

Jim makes a face at him. “It’s going to be like this when you finish your homework and I’m still slogging through mine, isn’t it?”

Stephan raises his bottle in a teasing salute. “Yup. Just like when we were undergrads. Half the joy in being done is rubbing it in the faces of all those who aren’t.”

“I’m going to remember this, you know.”

“You remember everything; I can’t even remember what the hell you’re getting a degree in, man. Tree-hugging crap, that’s all I know.”

“Environmental Toxicology,” Jim supplies in a long-suffering tone. “And if you drank less, maybe you’d remember more. You’re killing brain cells as well as poisoning your liver, you know.”

“Goody-two-shoes,” Stephan says, flicking the bottle cap at his friend.

“Alcoholic.” Jim catches the object midair and tosses it back at Stephan, plinking him in the forehead.

Stephan’s mouth drops open. “Oh, it is on, Davis, you fucker.”

“I’m shaking,” Jim mocks, putting down his box and flexing his arms. Which are pretty impressive, actually, because Jim definitely puts in his hours at the gym, not to mention jogging more than can possibly be good for a person. In other words, he’s built.

With a grumble, Stephan lurches off the sofa and over the coffee table, and tackles Jim to the ground. Jim might be bigger, but Steph’s devious, and he’s no stranger to the Soloflex, himself. Laughing, they roll across the mostly empty living room, coming to a stop up against a wall, legs entangled.

Stephan is pinned underneath, swearing and shrieking as Jim digs his fingers in between ticklish ribs, when someone speaks from the open doorway.

“Goddamn, Steph.” The tone of voice can only be described as aggrieved. “First day back on campus and you’re already rolling around with another guy.”

Stephan reaches down and grabs Jim’s ass, giving it a squeeze as he moans theatrically. “Come on, Eric, tell me you could keep your hands off this fine ass if you were alone with it.”

“There’s a person attached to that ass, you know,” Jim huffs, managing to knee Stephan in the stomach as he gets disentangled. “And also? You suck.” He makes for the door, giving Eric a grin as he brushes past on his way to get more of his stuff.

“If you were horny, you just had to text me,” Stephan’s boyfriend scolds, strolling in and making himself comfortable on the sofa. Well, trying to; the sofa is adamantly resisting all efforts at cushioning and doing its best to imitate stone, longevity having been more important to its design than comfort. Also, at four inches over six feet tall, Eric doesn’t fit on most furniture very well. His lankiness, floppy hair, and pointy features combine to make him seem very boyish.

“Well, you’re here now; let’s go find out which box the lube is in,” Stephan suggests with his naughtiest grin.

Eric laughs and sits down, kicking off his flip-flops. “Seriously, are you all moved in? I thought I’d drop by and see if you needed a hand.”

As usual, Eric’s completely oblivious to Stephan’s disappointed sigh. “All moved in, not terribly unpacked. I’ll get to it later. I was just kicking back, watching Jim lug boxes around, making fun of him, and drinking that beer,” he growls, lunging to reclaim his bottle.

Eric holds it out of reach, using his unfairly long limbs to play keep-away as if Steph was some pathetic little kid reaching for his milk money. After a light punch to Eric’s shoulder, Stephan gets up, grumbling, and retrieves another one from the fridge.

“So, do you wanna get dinner?”

Stephan gives Eric one of his what the hell are you babbling about? eyebrow quirks. “It’s two p.m.”

“Oh. Okay, um. We could play some PS2 or something, if you’re not going to unpack…. Did you eat lunch? I bet the pizza place at the Student Union isn’t totally swamped yet and might get it here in under an hour.”

They play around for a while, getting the TV and game consoles set up with only one minor argument, and dividing a pizza and responsibilities for harassing Jim equally. Just like the majority of their evenings over the last nine months, they settle into companionable, mellow hanging out. Being with Eric is like being with one of his best friends, only with sex. Sometimes. Stupid Jim had foiled Stephan’s plans and objected loudly to his suggestion that he and Eric play strip-SSX Tricky, and Eric hadn’t taken him seriously about a strip-game anyway. There is some kissing and minor groping while Jim is in his room, cussing as he tries to install some shelves and stubbornly refusing any help. It’s nice.

And Stephan’s definitely getting laid tonight. Probably for sure. They’ve been together for nearly a year now, although separated for the last two months while Eric did a summer outreach program in his hometown, but now they’re back together. It’s easy and comfortable, reassuring, the way they just fit with each other. Physically and figuratively, both.

Finally Jim comes out, holding some ice to a reddish-purple finger. “Aww, look at you two, all cozy on the couch. So sweet and romantic.”

And it is—it’s almost sickening, the way they’re leaning equally against the sofa and each other’s shoulders. But it feels right, so Stephan isn’t arguing. It’s good to just be with his boyfriend again. Even if he is so horny he might explode. Literally.

Eric stretches his arms above his head, exposing a strip of tummy Stephan wants to lick in the worst way. “Are you sure you don’t need to unpack?” he asks, clueless to the lustful look he’s getting.

“Dude. It’s good,” Stephan sighs, rolling his eyes.

“Aw, come on, I’ll help you at least make the bed and stuff.”

“Does that mean I’m finally going to get you in it?” Stephan asks as he gets up, sensing the futility of arguing.

“Maaaaybe.” Eric grins.

They’re pretty much finished when Steph’s cell phone buzzes, and the piercing voice of his friend Kristine greets him. It sounds like she’s at a rock concert or something, with the volume of music and voices and her yelling into the phone, but after a few minutes he manages to glean that a bunch of people are going out to 99 Bottles to celebrate the start of the new year, and he should join them and bring everyone he sees along with him.

They meet up with the usual suspects, mostly friends still in school, and spend the evening alternately mourning the end of summer and anticipating the joy of the new semester. Surprisingly, it’s mostly couples: Jim and his girlfriend Jamie, Eric and Stephan, and Kristine and her new girlfriend, Tina. It strikes Stephan as a bit odd that everyone paired off when he wasn’t looking, but he guesses that it’s just another sign that he’s getting older. The coupling, not the unobservant thing. He’s always been unobservant.

It’s too loud to have any decent conversations other than idle chitchat about the upcoming year. A few of the others are first year grad students, too, and only one isn’t in the Division of Humanities. They spend some time commiserating together about their nervousness regarding the differences in coursework from when they were undergrads and the orientation the next day, when they’ll find out which classes they’ve been assigned to as teaching assistants. The wrong professor could make their lives utter hell.

The cheap beer and greasy appetizers are plentiful, and Stephan eats with the mental note to do an extra twenty minutes of cardio the next time he works out. Although maybe carrying all his boxes up to his new apartment counted? A few more beers and he decides that the exercise was definitely good enough, even with the pizza he’d eaten earlier. Eric, of course, at barely twenty-one, can eat whatever the fuck he wants, devouring grease and sugar like they’re going out of style. It totally isn’t fair, and Stephan would hate him except that he knows that one day the kid’s metabolism will catch up, and on that day he is planning to laugh his ass off at Eric’s soft little beer belly.

“Will you still love me when I’m a bear?” Eric asks, fluttering his eyelashes as Stephan dutifully passes him the last of the jalapeno poppers.

“Fuck no.” Stephan shudders. “I’ve dated older guys, yeah, but not bears.”

“Aw, Steph. Love is supposed to be unconditional.”

Stephan wipes a bit of ranch dressing off the corner of Eric’s mouth with his thumb, and then kisses him. “Sweetheart, I do love you unconditionally. Just so long as you never, ever get old. Or cut your hair. Or stop working out. Or change how you look in any way.”

Eric sticks his tongue out in response and wiggles it suggestively. Stephan is pulling him close for another kiss, when they’re interrupted by a tiny blonde throwing herself bodily at them.

Allison, a friend of Eric’s, whom Stephan has always disliked. Not that there’s anything wrong with her in particular, just that she keeps pawing at Stephan and never seems to pick up on the fact that he’s really, truly, completely 100 percent gay, and will never be interested in her that way no matter what. Not to mention that she’s also brought Chad with her—Chad, who’s been Eric’s best friend since they were freshman-year roommates. The guy seriously rubs Stephan the wrong way; he’s constantly making comments, which Stephan thinks barely conceal Chad’s inner homophobia, and which Eric always insists are just “manly teasing.” And of course Chad has dragged along his flavor of the week, a perky little brunette, and Perky’s friend for good measure. Stephan wonders if Chad is going to manage to get both girls into bed with him; women just seem to turn stupid around the guy.

Ignoring the newcomers and not wanting to cling too much to Jim and Jamie, Stephan finds himself with Tina and a guy she knows from the Philosophy Department, another first-year grad student, who has the most amazing blue eyes. Not a bad body, either, and Stephan has had enough beer to let his gaze wander appreciatively while Eric’s busy talking to Allison and Chad and the rest of his crowd.

He’s abruptly interrupted from his leering by a hard elbow to the ribs. “Hey, I was just looking,” he pouts, rubbing his side.

Eric rolls his eyes. “Better be all you’re doing, Burke.”

Stephan puts his arm around Eric and grabs his ass, pulling him close for a quick little smooch. “Wanna go home and I’ll show you how sorry I am, baby? You know you’re the only one I want,” he teases, nuzzling Eric’s neck.

“Prove it.” Eric grins, and Stephan’s cock throbs a bit, reminding him that it’s been forever since they’ve fucked.

It’s technically true that they’d had reunion sex when Eric got back into town a few days ago, but Stephan had been couch-surfing at Billy and Scott’s until he could move in on campus, so it was just blowjobs. Stephan would have done more, but he was trying to follow Billy’s “No Spooge on the Couch” rule, and Eric is unbelievably shy about sex when someone might walk in on them. So Stephan is understandably looking forward to getting him alone.

They don’t bother saying goodbye to anyone, just leave, and Stephan is relieved that Eric seems as eager as he is, for once. In fact, he surprises the hell out of Steph on the drive home, running his hands all over his own body in the passenger seat, teasing, telling Stephan what he’s going to do once they’re alone. Apparently two months without sex has loosened up a lot of Eric’s inhibitions, and Stephan practically runs from the parking lot to his apartment, laughing as his boyfriend paws at him all the way.

They fall on the bed, kissing and laughing and shoving each other’s clothes off as fast as they can once Eric has kicked the door shut with a bang.

“Good to have a bed,” Stephan notes, rolling them so he’s on top and can get his jeans off the rest of the way.

“Good to have a door,” Eric groans as Steph bends over him to mouth at his chest and stomach, making his way down.

“Well, if you weren’t so inhibited,” he grumbles between licks and kisses. “Some people find the idea of getting caught exciting.”

“Not by Billy and Scott.”

“You just don’t want anyone to see the silly faces you make when you come,” Stephan teases, smirking as he runs the tip of his tongue along the length of Eric’s cock.

Eric sucks in a surprised breath as his dick jerks and a few drops of pre-come trickle out. He finally retorts, “Shut up, asshole,” with a stellar lack of wit.

Stephan grins a challenge at him. “Make me.”

“With pleasure.” Eric grabs Stephan’s head and pushes it down toward his cock. Barely a few moments have passed before he’s making little whimpering noises and pushing Stephan away again. “Wait, hold on. Don’t you want to fuck?” he manages to ask.

Stephan raises an eyebrow, answering with his lips still touching Eric’s erection, the vibrations making Eric moan. “Um, yeah? That was sort of my plan.”

“Your turn, then,” Eric says, sitting up and manhandling Stephan down onto his back instead.

Stephan thinks about protesting that he’d wanted to top, but then Eric’s mouth is on his dick and those fucking magnificent hands are spreading him open, and he decides he doesn’t care; it can wait. Eric is slow and gentle, like always, although Stephan doesn’t mind so much tonight, since it’s been a while. It takes him a few minutes to relax, far too long in his opinion, but Eric never listens when Steph wants to hurry up and says that he doesn’t mind the burn.

Anyway, it’s good. Great, even, especially when Eric’s fingers are replaced by cock—wonderful, thick, glorious cock. Say what you want about the boy, but he has a great dick and he knows what to do with it. Every stroke hits Stephan’s sweet spot, filling him up, making his eyes roll back in his head with bliss. They’ve been apart too long to make it last, but that’s perfect—not quite fast, yet still urgent. Soon they’re entirely twisted up in each other, arms and legs entangled as they both thrust furiously, eyes squeezed shut as they try to muffle their climaxes against each other’s shoulder and neck. 

Stephan’s hands clench so hard on the bedframe when he comes that it takes a moment to unbend them, and he feels a sore spot on his shoulder where Eric bit him a little too hard. They pant for breath, covered in a sheen of sweat, then gradually untangle. Stephan peeks into the hallway to discover Jim’s door is shut, and quickly retrieves a glass of water and a washcloth from the bathroom to clean up.

Even the wet cloth doesn’t wake Eric from his doze, and Stephan climbs back in bed, content to just crash out too. Their legs tangle together under the covers, his boyfriend’s quiet breath ruffling his hair. Stephan lies there listening to Eric’s heartbeat, the chirp of crickets, and the distant sounds of the undergrads’ all-night partying which drift inside with the cool autumn night air.

He’s back at school, back with Eric. All is right in his world again.



Write a review
Reviews and Ratings:

    Date Added: Thursday 15 September, 2011
    by BD Whitney @ BookWenches

    Relationships 201 studies love, sex, friendship, and the intersection of all three in a story that feels very real. I enjoyed it and found that I had grown quite attached to the characters by the end. While I’m not completely sure whether to classify the ending as happily-ever-after or simply happy-for-now, I appreciated feeling of warmth and community regardless, and I found this novel more than worth the reading time.  - 4.25 stars


    Read the full review at http://www.bookwenches.com

    Rating: 4 of 5 Stars [4 of 5 Stars]

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