LIFE was good. Well, at least as good as it could get for a twenty-eight-year-old district manager of one of America’s hottest little coffee shop franchises. It wasn’t exactly what I was going for when I got my business degree, but hey, it was a job, and it paid really, really well.
I even had a boyfriend: Joey Martin. I met him my first year in college when he wound up as my roommate. It was love at first sight, at least for me, but it took me a while to convince Joey I really did want to go out with him, I wasn’t going to humiliate him, and no one had paid me to ask him in the first place.
He had it bad in high school. I wish I could say college was better, but it wasn’t. Especially the first year—especially in the dorms. On more than one occasion, I had to rush to Joey’s rescue. He still wouldn’t give me the time of day no matter how hard I tried. I knew it wasn’t because he wasn’t out. I’d seen him several times with guys from the academic clubs he belonged to. He had a steady boyfriend for about three weeks; then it ended. For Joey, it always did.
It wasn’t until I got invited to join one of UGA’s top fraternities and turned them down that Joey would make eye contact with me. Maybe it was why I turned them down. They’d humiliated Joe during one of their hazing rituals. He wasn’t trying to get in; he just happened to be in the way when they were doing some sort of cross-dressing, leg-humping thing. I still don’t get the stupidity of all those Phi Kappa whatever the hell. It’s literally Greek to me.
I fished Joey out of the trash where they dumped him. He was soaking wet and it was cold, so I gave him my jacket. But I think it was when I punched out the pledge master that Joe realized I was serious, I did like him, and I really did want to go out with him.
He didn’t date anyone else after that, and neither did I. After we graduated, he got a job doing networking with computers, and I wound up working for the Java House. Nice apartment in Atlanta located downtown—although a little close to the Gray Zone—a good-paying job, a guy that I planned to spend the rest of my life with. What more could I ask for?
“Have you seen my favorite tie?” I stuck my head in the bathroom. Joey jumped like I had caught him jacking off instead of staring at his thin arms and trying to make the muscles in his biceps bulge.
I grinned and he frowned. “Don’t you know how to knock?”
“If I knocked then I wouldn’t ever get the chance to see you make like He-Man in the mirror.” I meant it as a joke, but I should have known better. Joey could be more than just a little bit sensitive to the fact he was thin, really thin. At five six, he wasn’t all that tall either. It wasn’t that he didn’t look like a guy, because he did. He was just, well, cut petit. Which was fine with me. I had a few inches on him, and yeah, I had muscle, but then, I wrestled in high school and still lifted weights a couple times a week.
He pushed past me and stormed across the room. I followed. “Hey….”
“I don’t know where your tie is. Probably at the cleaner’s. They called again, by the way. You still haven’t picked up your blue suit.” He stripped off his T-shirt and grabbed a dress shirt out of the closet.
I wrapped my arms around his ribs and pressed my lips to the back of his neck. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
The tightness in his body relaxed, and his head tipped forward. Joey’s sigh was so deep his entire body expanded and deflated in my arms.
“Talk to me.” I kissed him again.
“There’s nothing to talk about except me being stupid.”
“You’re not stupid, Joey.” No, he was one of the smartest people I knew.
He gave a brittle laugh. “About this? Yeah, yeah, I’m stupid.”
“Then tell me?”
Another sigh; this one was softer. Fingers traced the back of my hand, my wrist. “I can’t help but be afraid.”
“Of what?” Silence. “Of what, Joe?”
“You finding someone else.”
I clenched my jaw so I wouldn’t say the wrong thing and tightened my arms around him.
He turned in my direction, enough I could see the edge of his glasses and the bottom part of the lens fogged by tears.
“God, Joe.” I turned him around. “What do I have to do to convince you?”
He tried to smile but it fell flat. “I just worry.”
“I can’t help it.” His hand moved up my arm, my shoulder, my face. I hadn’t shaved yet, so there was just enough stubble on my cheek to make a rasping sound. “Everyone likes you, Tay, and you could have anyone you want.”
But I didn’t want anyone but him. “Joe—”
He shushed me and pressed a finger to my lips. “Tell me why.”
Why him? Goddamn it. I don’t know, because I loved him, wanted him. He was everything I wanted in a man. So what if he wasn’t six foot five and built like a linebacker? Only I didn’t know how to say it out loud, not without making things worse. I took the shirt out of Joe’s hand and tossed it, clothes hanger and all, on the dresser. “Come here.”
“Just come here.” I dragged him back into the bathroom and turned him toward the mirror.
“Hush, and look.” He did, and I said, “Do you see yourself?” How could he not? His olive-brown skin against my Irish white with freckles. I dipped my head low and pressed my lips to his shoulder.
Joey pushed his glasses higher up on his nose. Not that they needed pushing; he just did it when he was nervous.
He said, “Okay, I’ve looked. Can we stop now?”
He rolled his eyes, and I smiled against his skin.
“Taylor, this is stupid.”
“First, tell me what you see.”
“Are you serious?”
I slid a hand up from his plaid boxers and thumbed his left nipple. His dark eyes widened, and a blush spread across his cheeks. “Tell me, Joe, what do you see?”
“Some skinny nerd with too-big a nose, courtesy of his Jewish father, and toothpick arms and really big ears thanks to his Thai mother.”
“I didn’t know your mother had big ears.”
He tried to glare, but it turned into a laugh.
“And for the record, your ears aren’t too big.” I sucked at the skin behind his lobe and watched his expression melt in the mirror. “And you’re not too skinny.”
He sighed. “Okay, too short.”
“You’re not too short either.”
“You’re not. If you were any bigger, you wouldn’t fit against me like this. I like it.”
Joey dropped his gaze and fiddled with the can of shaving cream sitting on the counter. I moved to the other side of his neck and sucked a spot just below his hairline. Then, out of the blue, he asked, “Are you seeing someone else?”
I froze. Not because I was guilty but because, well, hell, that was the last thing I ever expected to come out of Joey’s mouth.
“What?” My tone must have conveyed exactly how I felt, because he flinched and tried to squirm out of my arms. I held him tighter. “Where the hell did that come from?”
“Nowhere. I just… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean….”
I pulled his chin up and forced him to meet my gaze in the mirror. He blinked and brushed his fingers over his cheek. I caught his hand and held it. “Tell me, Joe.” His Adam’s apple bobbed, and when he tried to look away, I pressed my body against his and raked my teeth across his shoulder. He responded just like I knew he would—his eyes fluttered and he moaned. “Joe?”
A name fell out of his mouth. “Paul Norse.”
I made a face. Did I even know the guy? “Who is that?”
Joey shrugged. “No one, not really. He used to work in tech support, was moved to network admin.”
“Wait, I thought you were next in line for the job.”
“I was, but I didn’t get it.”
“Why not? You’ve been there for four years.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.”
No, it didn’t. At least not right now. Right now I wanted to know who the hell this Paul Norse was and what he had to do with Joey thinking I would cheat on him.
“Okay, keep talking.”
Joe took off his glasses so he could rub his face. He set them on the counter and fiddled with them instead of the can of shaving cream.
“He said there was no way someone like you could be satisfied with someone like me.”
“And why the hell would he say something like that?” There had to be a reason, and I could almost see it in Joey’s expression: how his mouth thinned out, how he avoided my gaze, and then there was the constant jaw tremor.
I spread my hands across his torso, and Joey shuddered. Finally he said, “Paul made an unprofessional suggestion.”
Unprofessional suggestion? I had a bad feeling about the exact meaning. “You care to elaborate on that?”
“He said if I didn’t do certain favors, he was going to make sure I wound up in the basement with the rats, dismantling old servers at half the pay.”
Joey gasped and grabbed my arms. I realized then I was squeezing him too hard. “Excuse me?”
When he looked at my reflection, he paled. “Nothing happened.”
“I know that.”
Joey turned his head and looked at me. I guess he thought the mirror could lie.
“You’d never cheat on me, I know that. Now tell me what that has to do with you asking me about seeing someone else?”
“Can we go sit down somewhere?”
Joey went slack in my arms and petted my hands. “He said I might as well, because you weren’t working late, you were doing someone else.”
Doing? “And how the hell would he know anything about me working late?”
“Because when you’re late, I sometimes go down to the sandwich shop on the corner and eat dinner.”
“And let me guess, he saw you there.”
Joe nodded. “Several times. One day he came in, sat down, we talked, and he asked me to go to a hotel with him. I’m sorry, Tay. I shouldn’t have ever asked you. I shouldn’t—”
I kissed him to make him quit babbling. He turned, and his shoulder pressed against my chest. I said, “That still doesn’t answer my question.”
Joe sighed and dropped his head against my shoulder. “It’s stupid. I’m sorry.”
“Just tell me.”
“Paul started going on about how ‘working late’ was the oldest trick in the book. It was like he’d overheard every conversation we ever had, or at least the reasons you give me when you stay late at the office.”
“Did it occur to you that there are only so many reasons for me to work late? Meetings, deadlines, problems at one of the store locations?”
Joe didn’t have to answer me. He wasn’t stupid. He’d weighed all the rational arguments, and he knew the truth. Yet he still thought there’d be a possibility of me cheating on him.
I probably should have dropped the discussion at that point, but I just couldn’t help myself. “And who, pray tell, am I supposedly getting it on with?”
“No one in particular, just—”
I squeezed him again, only this time I rubbed myself against his ass. Joe gasped, and I nuzzled the back of his neck and slid my hand down the front of his boxers. One stroke and he was hard. “I would never, could never. You’re it for me. I told you that back in college, and I’ve told you that so many times since.”
Tears spilled over his cheeks, and at the same time, a moan welled out of his throat. I slid my hand lower, cupped his balls, squeezed, then pushed my hand until my fingers were wedged between his legs. I don’t know if he meant to or not, but he moved his feet apart, giving me more access to the soft spot behind his nuts.
“I’m sorry, Tay… I’m—”
“Put your hands on the counter.”
He blinked at me in the mirror.
“Counter, Joe. Hands. Now.”
He grabbed the edge, and I brought my hand back to his cock. I didn’t stroke him this time. I just held him, teasing his slit with my thumb. With my other hand under his chin, I pulled him until his lovely body curved back far enough for me to kiss him.
“Tay.” Joe clenched his eyes shut. “You’re going to be late to work.”
“Don’t care.” I sucked at his throat and rubbed my erection against his ass crack.
“You’ll get in trouble.”
“I’m the boss. I can’t get in trouble.” I dropped my hand to his chest and teased his nipples with my thumb. I watched his body’s reaction in the mirror, how his muscles jumped and his stomach tightened. God, he was pretty. I wished with all my heart he could see it. I kissed him hard, deep, sweeping the inside of his mouth with my tongue, drinking him down until his entire body trembled in my grasp.
I got my belt loose and shoved my pants and boxers down low enough to free myself. Joe tried to turn and face me, but I pushed him back around. “Hands on the counter.”
“I want to look at you.”
I breathed against his ear. “Watch the mirror and you will.” The blush in his cheeks went bright red. I fumbled in the drawer, looking for something to slick him up with.
Joey grabbed a bottle of lotion sitting at the back of the sink. “Here.”
I didn’t really want to smell like avocado, but I also wasn’t going to wait. He opened it and squeezed out a glob in the palm of my hand. It was a lot more than I needed. I slicked up my cock and gave the lotion time to get warm against my skin; then I slid my fingers against his ass crack, found his entrance, and pushed. Joe barked out my name and closed his eyes.
“Look in the mirror, Joe.” He scrunched his brow, and I pushed in another finger. “Do it. Open your eyes and look at the mirror.”
They came open, but his expression was glazed. Mouth slack, Joe sucked in one desperate breath after the other. I twisted my fingers and found his prostate, and his hands slipped off the counter as he collapsed against it.
“Up.” I couldn’t pull him up, because one hand was busy teasing the head of his cock while the other was slicking his hole. “Joey, up.”
For a minute there, I thought he wasn’t going to make it. I backed my fingers out of his ass, and he got his arms to work. The sight of him sucking on his bottom lip—his wanton expression, the sweat beading on his brow—was almost too much.
Joey’s responsiveness was one of the things that made doing this with him so good. No one I’d ever been with made me feel like he did. Like I was some sort of sex god. I watched his expression as I replaced my fingers with my dick and pushed in. Not far, just enough that he could feel me, want me, need me.
Joey tried to push back, but I held him with a hand on his hip. “Tay….”
“Look at yourself, Joe.” Some of the distance left his eyes, and he looked at the mirror. I pressed my thumb against his slit, then gave his cock one long stroke. Shivers racked his body. Even his teeth chattered. I smiled. “Do you see that man in the mirror?” I kissed his shoulder and at the same time rolled my hips forward. Still not all the way, not yet—an inch, maybe less. A high-pitched whine boiled in Joey’s throat. “Do you see how that man looks at me? Do you see how that man loves me? Do you see how beautiful he looks when I do this?” I ran my thumb along his glans.
I doubt Joey saw himself. His eyes rolled up and his hands did some more scrambling on the counter. He knocked the shaving cream onto the floor and sent his glasses into the sink.
“Answer me, Joe. Tell me.”
“Yessss—oh God, Tay, please, please, please….”
“You sure you see him?”
Joe gave a jerky nod. “Yes, yes, yes.”
“Then you should know I could never give him up.” I gave him everything then.
The rhythm of our bodies slapping together and the wet sound of his cock moving in the tunnel of my fist echoed off the tiles. I did most of the grunting, though. As responsive as Joey was, he rarely made a lot of noise. Usually a few moans in the beginning, a keen here or there along the way, but when I was fucking him hard, he went all quiet. That was how I knew I was doing things right.
It didn’t take long for my balls to tighten. The cold-hot electric sensation raced up the back of my legs, making my head hum. I slowed down. I didn’t want to come yet, I wanted to drag this out as much as I could. I wanted to make sure that Joey wouldn’t forget this. God, I loved him, with all my heart, with every fiber of my body, and I wanted so bad for him to know that. Since I wasn’t great with words, I used my body instead.
I knew he was close when his breathing changed and he sucked in air deep and exhaled it on a whisper. I watched him in the mirror, and he watched me.
“I love you, Tay.”
I barely heard it between my own grunts, his ragged breathing, and the sounds of sex. I almost could have convinced myself I’d imagined it. But thanks to the mirror, I saw his lips move and his expression go hot.
There was no holding back then. I snapped my hips forward, and I put as much force as I dared into every stroke I gave him. It wasn’t long before he stiffened against me and his ass clenched around my cock so tight I could barely move. Wet heat pumped over my fist, my wrist. Another second and I came too.