You’re shaking.” Alec, panting and painfully hard, pulled back from Eli so he could look into his eyes. “We don’t have to do this now.”

“Don’t stop,” Eli pleaded, equally breathless and pained. “I want this… want you.” He hooked his left leg around Alec’s waist to keep him close and reached out for him. His fingers played in Alec’s wavy black hair, traced his jaw, and brushed over his lips as he grinned up at him through heavy-lidded, passion-drunk eyes.

They had met in late summer and had been officially together for only a few weeks, but all the back-and-forth desire in the months before Eli decided to take a chance on the handsome, persistent American author—that was part of their relationship, too, a part of their history. Alec had gradually drawn Eli out of a darkness sparked by the murder of his partner, an attack he’d witnessed and that had nearly claimed his life as well.

But now they were facing another hurdle, another step forward, because all the kissing, breathless groping, and hand jobs just weren’t cutting it any longer. There was a lot of need for something more built up in both of them—a need to be even closer. With their housemates either out of town or spending the night elsewhere, Eli and Alec had separately come to the same decision: tonight they would make love for the first time.

After a romantic dinner out, a long conversation filled with nervous laughter and secret glances, and a short walk through the chilly air of their tiny neighborhood park, they had stumbled through the front door grabbing frantically for each other: kissing desperately, pulling at their clothes, knocking into the hall table, and upsetting the tchotchkes. But after dropping and almost tripping over Eli’s cane, they’d forced themselves to calm down and slowly, carefully ascended the stairs—choosing Alec’s attic room over Eli’s on the main floor. Up there the morning sounds of the house wouldn’t reach them, and they could pretend the rest of the world didn’t exist for that much longer.

They had begun with the familiar: Alec half on top of Eli, kissing him, rubbing him through his jeans, and Eli clinging to him, grinding upward against him, tangling his fingers in Alec’s hair. But then, seeking skin-to-skin contact, Alec had reached beneath Eli’s shirt and, as usual, when his fingers moved up Eli’s torso, Eli went rigid and gasped, involuntarily inching away from his touch. Alec had slowed his eager hands until Eli settled—until, grinning and ashamed, he scooted close again.

“I’m sorry,” Eli whispered.

“It’s okay. It’s okay,” Alec repeated softly as they slowly undressed each other. But now, stripped bare and embracing, panting, with condoms and lube at hand—Alec was the one who wasn’t okay. He had put on the brakes, worried that Eli wasn’t ready for this.

“I don’t want you doing this just because you know I want it. That’s not good enough, not reason enough.”

“Alec, look at me.” Their eyes traveled down to their duel erections. “Don’t I look ready?”

“I can take care of that without—”

“I want you inside me,” Eli growled, reaching down between them and gripping Alec’s cock possessively.

“Eh-Eli—” Alec’s eyes closed for a moment. “Uh-okay.”

“It’s been two years,” Eli said, his voice softening. “You’re the first man I’ve kissed since Bennett was killed.” His large blue eyes bored into Alec’s gray. “Can’t I want you and still be nervous?”

Eli reached up and gripped the back of Alec’s head, pulling him into a kiss that shook them to their toes. When they parted, Alec couldn’t speak. His hand fumbled over the surface of the nightstand on his left, his eyes never leaving Eli’s as he found the condoms and lube.

He squeezed a generous amount of lube onto his fingers and smiled down at Eli, who grinned back, just before he reached out to switch off the light.

“Wait,” Alec said, uncertainty tainting his voice.

“I trust you know where everything is?”

Alec laughed softly. “You can be certain of that, but I want to watch you.” Eli’s smile faltered, and he withdrew his hand. After a moment of watching the uncertainty on his boyfriend’s face, Alec reached out with his left hand and switched off the light. Eli’s arms and legs were immediately around him, squeezing him and throwing him off balance a bit. “Slow down,” he blurted out, laughing. “I need to get my bearings.”

As his eyes adjusted to the low light from the streetlamps below filtering in through his windows, Alec smiled at hearing Eli’s playful chuckle from the darkness. He could feel hands caressing his back, lips kissing his neck and chest, thighs tightening around his waist, the hair on Eli’s legs tickling his sides and lower back, and their cocks brushing and bumping against one another. His disembodied lover was eager, hot, and squirming beneath him.

Alec lowered himself over Eli, kissing him as his left hand stroked Eli’s hair. Then Eli’s hands left him, his right patting out to his side in search of the condom packet. When Alec heard the package ripped open, he rose a little so Eli could reach his erection and roll on the condom.

“You’re good at that.”

“I can do it with my mouth too.”

“You’ll have to demonstrate that sometime,” Alec said as they closed their embrace again.

“Uh-uh. Once we get our results back, we won’t need these anymore.”

“True,” Alec said as his slick fingers danced around Eli’s entrance, causing his body to jerk involuntarily. “But I still want you to show me.”

“I promise I will—uh!” Eli arched off the bed as Alec penetrated him with two fingers, curling upon entry.

Eli’s whole body tightened around Alec in a spasm and shuddered. Alec didn’t try to move again until Eli relaxed, largely because Eli had a death grip on the back of his head. He could hear Eli’s rapid breath as his boyfriend panted against his neck.

“Sorry,” Alec whispered, feeling Eli’s body slowly unclenching around him. “Got a bit overeager.” He wished he’d gone more slowly; after all, it’d been two years, and he wanted this first time to be perfect. “Eli?”

More,” Eli whispered as he tangled his fingers further in Alec’s hair.

Alec grinned and began to work his fingers inside the man. He could now make out the vague shape of Eli beneath him but none of the visual detail—only an occasional glimpse of his parted lips as he gasped, his head turning back and forth on the pillow. Alec quickly withdrew his fingers and applied more lube to his condom-sheathed cock as he spread Eli. He pressed the head against Eli’s opening and pushed forward gradually.

Eli seemed to stop breathing. For that matter, so did Alec at the sensation of heat enveloping him, squeezing him, pulling him in deeper. Once buried to the hilt, he withdrew again and pushed forward harder.

Eli whispered, “Yes,” spurring Alec to find a rhythm and intensity comfortable for them both—one he could maintain for a good while. He threw Eli’s left leg over his shoulder but allowed his right leg to rest lower on his thigh as he pushed into Eli over and over. His hair hung in his eyes, and his skin grew slick with sweat. And not simply from the physical effort, but also from concentrating, trying to prolong the glorious sensation of being sheathed within the man he loved. When Alec was close, he reached for Eli’s cock to bring him along, but before he could lay a finger on him, Eli came, screaming his name, his inner spasms bringing Alec right along after.

After his tremors subsided, Alec allowed Eli’s leg to slide from his shoulder and collapsed on top of him, both of them gasping for air. He carefully removed the condom and tossed it—he hoped—into the wastebasket by his bed before rolling off his boyfriend and onto his back next to him. His right leg lay across Eli’s left as he stared into the darkness and tried to make out the details in his ceiling.

When Eli’s breathing began to settle, Alec stirred. “I’ll get you something to clean up.”

But Eli’s hand shot out and held him down. “Got it.” Alec got a vague impression of him leaning off the side of the bed and grabbing some discarded article of clothing off the floor to wipe the come from his chest. “See… all clean.”

Alec’s laughter was silenced as Eli rolled over and kissed him, wrapping him up in his arms. Surprised to feel Eli begin grinding against him again, Alec broke the kiss and asked, “Really?”

“Good… more.”

“Ah.” Alec reached down and began squeezing Eli’s bottom. “Should I take it as a compliment that you’ve become virtually monosyllabic post-coitus?”

“Big words good,” Eli whispered, and Alec could hear the smile in his voice.

He kissed him accordingly.



Jerking awake much later, Alec stretched languidly and yawned, reaching for Eli for a third time. But that side of the bed was now cool and vacant. He sat up abruptly, hoping Eli had not tried to navigate the stairs on his own. But then he saw the light from his bathroom and heard the shower. He climbed out of bed and padded naked across the carpeted floor. The bathroom door was ajar, steam swirling out to greet him.

“Eli?” he called as he pushed the door farther open and stepped into the small room. There was no tub, only a tiny sink and vanity, a toilet, and a glass-enclosed shower. That’s where he found Eli, standing beneath the hot spray, his face buried against his arm as he leaned against the tiled wall, weeping. His other hand hung limply at his side, holding a soapy loofah.

Alec went to him, carefully opening the shower door and slipping in behind him. He flinched as the hot water stung his skin and embraced Eli right at the moment he became aware Alec was there.

“Oh, I’m… I’m ok-k-kay,” Eli said, quickly wiping his eyes. Alec hugged him back against his chest, kissing his neck and swaying with him. “It’s just… I… uh, I—”

“Shhh, now. It’s going to be all right,” Alec whispered as he took the loofah from Eli, wrapped his arms around him again, and continued swaying—while Eli continued to fail at stopping his tears. Alec hoped with everything in him that what he’d just told him was the truth.

Eventually Alec wet the sponge again, worked up a fresh, hot lather, and began to wash his lover. He turned Eli to face him and began with small, gentle circles on his chest. His fingers brushed lightly over the scars where a rib or two had punched through years ago, and for a moment, Alec became lost in reading Eli’s skin like a relief map of his past, which is what scars really are. Eli didn’t flinch as Alec caressed a rough line of skin where a surgeon had entered to stop his internal bleeding.

They captured each other’s gaze, and Alec briefly wondered about the scars he couldn’t see. He continued his work with the loofah, expanding his strokes to include Eli’s arms, neck, shoulders, and back. Neither of them spoke again, and by the time Alec ran the sponge over the rough, puckered skin of his boyfriend’s right leg, Eli’s sobs had quieted.