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Hudson Bartholomew

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  1. Chapter 7

    They had turned off the major highway about thirty minutes earlier and were now slowly navigating their way through roads that were little more than trails covered with hard-packed snow. The drive had taken them nearly four hours, leaving the sleepy streets of Toronto before dawn and heading north on Highway 400. The sun was slow to say good morning, as the sky gradually became less dark before it started becoming brighter. When the rest of the world finally awoke, they had stopped in some small, out-of-the-way town for breakfast. Erik had no idea where they were, but Ryan seemed to know exactly where he was going and exactly which breakfast place he wanted to eat at. The place served greasy sausages, runny eggs, and perfectly crisp toast with those little packets of butter and jam, washed down with surprising strong coffee. Simple. Unassuming. Then back on the road. Erik was a morning person, and he wanted to know where they were going, what Rachel and Tom’s cottage was like, the names of the little towns they’d been passing. Ryan was not a morning person, and all of Erik’s questions had been met with short, pointed answers. Erik stopped asking after the first twenty minutes. Instead, their hands had found each other over the middle console of Ryan’s car, and their thumbs had amused themselves with tracing circles on the other’s skin. The silence was comfortable, like a warm blanket wrapped around them, keeping them cozy, together and safe. And as Erik watched the busyness of the city fade into the sheared rock walls on either side of the highway and the dense forests that sat on top, he felt himself transported to another world. That morning, even as Ryan moved as one half-asleep, they had packed the car with an easy efficiency, shifting around each other as if they’d been doing it for years—a squeeze on the hip as one passed behind the other, bags handed off with a quick kiss. Breakfast had been easy, too. Ryan opening the door for him with a hand on his lower back to usher him inside. Their feet had hooked around each other’s ankles as they ate. If they had drawn looks from the small-town crowd, Erik hadn’t noticed. In the car, Erik found his gaze drifting toward Ryan’s profile, and every time it did, he was rewarded with a quick squeeze from Ryan’s hand and that lopsided grin. Hunger—the word floated into Erik’s mind. Not a physical hunger; they’d just eaten. But a hunger, nevertheless, this one much deeper than physical. A hunger so deep that he’d forgotten he was hungry, and the empty gnawing was only making itself known because he had gotten a taste of what could be. The clarity with which that realization dawned on Erik was more than a little startling. He’d never felt as if his life lacked for anything; yet here he was, hungry for something he didn’t even know he wanted. “Almost there.” Ryan squinted through the reflection of the morning sun off the snow-laden road. He had popped on sunglasses when it got too bright, but the angle of the sun, hitting the whiteness of the untainted snow and the way the road wound its way between trees too stubborn to be cut down made it difficult to judge exactly where the road ended and the forest began. The car came to a halt, and Erik followed Ryan’s gaze as it turned to the left. “Yes, here it is.” “Here” didn’t look like anything to Erik. It was more packed snow in the middle of naked trees. But the snowy path was just wide enough to accommodate their car as it turned slowly, taking them deeper into the forest. Then, out of nowhere the forest cleared and they found themselves in another snow-packed clearing, the other side of which was an even larger snow-laden field. Ryan drove the car to the other side of the clearing, slipped it into park, and sighed. “We’re here.” “And where exactly is here?” All Erik got in response was that infuriating grin and shrug. He followed Ryan out of the car, cringing at the biting sub-freezing temperature that greeted his skin. The boots that Ryan insisted he buy crunched in the snow, and Erik was grateful for that extra pair of socks he’d pulled on that morning. Ryan was brushing snow off what looked like a large shed; it was difficult to tell with it all covered in white. With a bit of metal clanging against metal, a door swung open, and Ryan disappeared inside. When Erik peeked his head in, he couldn’t see anything but black, with bright spots dancing in his eyes. “You’re blocking the sun,” Ryan said. “There’s no light in here, so we have to let the sun in.” “Oh.” Erik moved farther in and shifted off to the side. With the doorway clear for the light, Erik could see that they were standing in a large storage shed. Several canoes sat upside down in racks along the center of the shed; paddles and lifejackets hung on the far wall. Plastic and wooden sleds were propped up next to racks of weird rectangular contraptions. “What is this place?” “Remember how I said there’s no road access to the cottage?” Ryan said. He pulled a couple of the rectangular contraptions from the wall and handed them to Erik. “Yeah…” Erik did remember, but to be honest, he hadn’t really understood what that meant. “So, this is how we get to the cottage.” “What is how we get to the cottage?” “Snowshoes.” Ryan nodded at what Erik held in his hands. “These are snowshoes?” Erik took a second look at the aluminum frames covered by a thick but flexible plastic. In the middle were a bunch of straps, and Erik could sort of make out where his foot would go. “I thought snowshoes were made of wood and leather and looked like tennis rackets.” Ryan burst out laughing in his low rumbly way, and the sound tickled the middle of Erik’s chest. “You’re describing old-school snowshoes, vintage ones. I don’t think even schools use those anymore. We’re a little more high tech these days.” Ryan grabbed one of the wooden sleds and dragged it toward the door. “So, we use snowshoes to get to the cottage?” Erik asked as he followed Ryan back out into the sun. “Yep.” Ryan dropped the sled next to the car. “What are you doing? You’re going to freeze to death like that.” “What?” Erik looked down at himself. He didn’t see anything wrong. But Ryan took the snowshoes from his hands and tossed them on the ground. Then he zipped up Erik’s parka like he would for Chloe and pulled the knit hat that had been stuck in Erik’s pocket over his head. By the time Ryan had the hat adjusted to his liking, he was standing close, close enough that the fog from their breaths misted around them like their own private cloud. Erik leaned down and captured Ryan’s lips with his own. They were warm against the coldness of the air. The hairs of Ryan’s beard were damp with condensation, and Erik licked at them, gathering the dewy drops with his tongue. Erik decided he didn’t need a hat. All he needed were Ryan’s kisses to keep him warm. Too bad Ryan didn’t feel the same way. “And put your gloves on.” Ryan whispered against his lips before turning to load up the sled with the boxes and bags from the car. If Erik hadn’t caught the raspiness in Ryan’s voice or the way he sneaked a hand down to adjust himself, Erik would have thought that he was the only one affected by the kiss. As it was, he did notice how Ryan’s voice seemed to have dropped an octave and the slight shiver that ran through the other man as he walked away. With a sense of self-satisfaction, Erik pulled on the gloves he’d also been instructed to buy and helped pile the last of their gear in the sled. Getting the snowshoes on was tricky. Erik hadn’t actually worn a pair since he was a kid and his gym class had spent the winter learning about outdoor sports. But he managed to strap them on, and Ryan even came over to check they were secure. After their heated kiss, gazing down at Ryan kneeling in front of him had Erik’s mind wandering, and he had to force himself to focus on the task at hand: trekking across a frozen, snow-covered lake without falling through the ice and dying a cold death. “Ready?” Ryan asked. The lead ropes of the sled were attached to some sort of belt Ryan had tied around his waist. He took a few steps toward the frozen lake, and the sled followed him, leaving two neat grooves in the snow. Erik took a couple of experimental steps, feeling suddenly like a child first learning to walk. His stepped widely to avoid snagging the snowshoes on each other, and his arms flailed out when he almost toppled over. When he managed to catch himself, he found Ryan laughing right in his face. “What are you doing? Just walk normally.” “I can’t!” Erik waved at the contraptions on his feet. “I’ll step on myself.” “No, you won’t, they’re designed to accommodate an adult stride.” Ryan took a couple more steps. “See? Just walk normally, and they shouldn’t overlap.” Erik sighed heavily, his breath fogging up the air, but he did as Ryan suggested. It was hard to consciously try walking normally. His muscles suddenly forgot how to move, and every lift of his leg felt foreign and strange. But step by step, he managed to put one foot in front of the other without stepping on himself, and by the time he reached Ryan just a few feet ahead of him, Erik felt out of breath. “Oh, god.” He looked skeptically across the lake. Even the closest shore looked much too far away. “How long does it take to walk across this thing?” “Not too long.” Ryan shrugged and set off, leaving Erik to chase after him. “We’re just going across the narrowest part of the lake. Maybe twenty minutes?” He glanced sideways at Erik. “Maybe more like thirty?” A challenge issued, a challenge accepted. Erik picked up his speed, determined to keep up with Ryan who was doing all the hard work of pulling their sled. Even then, Ryan looked like he was just taking a lazy afternoon stroll. As they navigated down a shallow incline toward the open flat of the lake, the wind suddenly picked up, no longer blocked by the thick stands of trees around the parking lot. The icy air bit at Erik’s cheeks, and he was grateful for Ryan’s mothering. He pulled the beanie down until it slipped over his eyebrows and adjusted the collar of his parka so it hid half his face. Their snowshoes made a rhythmic crunching sound on the pristine snow, accompanied by the lighter, wispier slide of the sled behind them. The wind howled all around, and every once in a while, Erik could hear the ice groaning beneath their feet. “So, um… the ice is safe, right?” He really should have thought about that before they were several yards onto the lake. “Yeah, should be fine. Might be a couple of weak spots closer to the deepest part of the lake.” Ryan waved a gloved hand off to the right. “But most of the lake is frozen over for the entire winter.” “You don’t have to check the thickness or anything?” Ryan shrugged. “I did.” “You did? When?” “Last weekend. And I called a neighbor yesterday. It’s about five to six inches; we should be fine.” “Last weekend?” “Yeah.” “You didn’t mention that to me.” “Didn’t I?” “No, why were you here last weekend?” “Getting things ready.” Ryan shrugged, eyes fixed on something in the distance. “I wanted to make sure there were enough supplies at the cottage so I knew what we needed to bring today.” Erik blinked at him. Ryan had gone to all that trouble, driving three and a half hours each way, taking up his entire weekend, just to prepare for their little getaway. Erik was struck by how sweet that was and for a second forgot he was walking in snowshoes. The wind blew unexpectedly, the aluminum frame slipped on a part of ice not covered by snow, and by the time he realized he was falling, he was already on his ass, feet sticking up in the air. Ryan burst out laughing, but made no attempt to help him up. “Are you okay?” Was the only thing he seemed to be able to get out. “Yeah, just great.” Erik glared at him and then tried to figure out how he was supposed to stand up with snowshoes still strapped to his feet. Getting onto all fours wouldn’t work, the snowshoes were too big and facing the wrong direction. Plant his feet flat in front of him and pushing off his ass didn’t give him enough leverage to heft his weight up. Ryan deserved another glare. “A little help, please?” With his lopsided grin, Ryan shuffled sideways as if he had been born with snowshoes on, and strategically braced his pair against the front of Erik’s. They clasped hands and with a tug, Erik found himself standing again, hugging Ryan close. “You even manage to fall gracefully,” Ryan said with a shake of his head, his voice tinged with laughter. “What does that mean?” Erik asked as they held each other in the middle of a frozen lake, nothing around them but snow, ice and wind. Ryan’s normally dark beard was dusted with white, and his chocolate brown eyes danced in the light of the sun. He looked like he was enjoying himself, loaded up with layers of clothes, dragging all their gear in a sled latched to his waist, the cold air painting his cheeks a rosy red. Erik wanted to kiss him, wanted to taste the snow on Ryan’s beard and lick at the lips turned slightly pale from the sub-zero temperature. But before he managed to lean in, Ryan slipped out of his arms. “Come on, it’s too cold to just stand out here.” Erik was more focused during the second half of their trek, watching for slippery ice patches and telling himself to walk normally. By the time the trees on the other side of the lake neared, he was panting hard, and the muscles on his thighs and calves were straining. Ryan still looked like he was taking a stroll. They stopped at the foot of a set of wooden stairs, and Erik noticed that the snow had already been swept clean, save for little drifts from the blowing wind. The steps led up to what looked like a log cabin with a large patio and a steeply slanted roof. Ryan tied the sled to a nearby tree, and positioned it against a particularly high snow bank so it wouldn’t slide away. Then he sat on the bottom step to take his snowshoes off. When he looked up, Erik was still just standing, trying to catch his breath. The grin that Ryan gave him did nothing to help him recover. But Ryan was kind enough to wave him over and help with the straps of his snowshoes. Erik couldn’t wait to get those things off his feet. Together, they hauled their cargo up the steps, and Ryan let them inside. The cottage had an open layout with the front door opening directly into a living room furnished with a big futon, a couple of armchairs, and plenty of blankets. The kitchen was toward the back, appliances and sink lined up against the back wall and a solid, rustic-looking dining table separating the eating area from the living room. There were two doorways that opened off of the left wall: one held a set of stairs that led to a loft overlooking the first floor; the other looked like it opened into a bedroom. In the middle of the cottage was a large, black wood stove with an equally black pipe extending up to and disappearing into the ceiling. It was freezing inside. No wind, true, but still freezing. “Oh, my god, there’s no heat?” Ryan looked like he was trying really hard not to burst out in laughter. He managed a very controlled, “Nope. And no water, either.” While Erik was still wrapping his mind around the idea of a cottage with no heat and no water, Ryan had taken his boots off and was circling the room, drawing back curtains and letting in the sun. The cottage immediately looked a hundred times brighter, the blankets in the living room popped with color, and the patterned rugs covering the floor came to life. Then Ryan knelt in front of the wood stove, opened the front cover and checked inside. He must have prepped it last weekend because all he did was stick in a barbecue lighter and Erik could immediately see the orange-yellow light of a baby fire starting to burn. “Come on.” Ryan waved at him. “Take your boots off. Our bags can go there.” He pointed to a corner next to the futon. “And some of the foodstuff can go out back.” Erik obliged, a little shell-shocked at the prospect of winter camping and a little tickled at the idea of being so isolated from the rest of the world with no one else for company other than Ryan. Sure, Ryan had explained it all to him when they first discussed the idea, but Erik hadn’t realized just how isolated they were going to be: no one else around for miles, no internet, no cell phones. Erik didn’t need any of that; the only person he wanted to talk to would be right here with him. “I thought you said there’s no water.” Erik dragged the big cooler full of food to the kitchen and eyed the sink, fully equipped with a faucet. “Not in the winter.” Ryan studied the breaker panel next to the back door. “We shut it off because the pipes would burst.” “So, what do we do for water?” “There’s a hole in the ice for lake water.” Ryan explained as he reached for the closest light switch and gave it an experimental flip. The light on the back porch flickered to life. “Is that safe?” “What? The water?” Ryan shrugged. “I’ve never had a problem with it.” Erik sighed, apparently heavily enough to catch Ryan’s notice. “What?” His lips tilted into a grin, and his eyes narrowed as he approached. Erik found himself backed up against the wall with Ryan pressing in close, chest against chest and a good ten layers of clothing between them. “Is this too ‘roughing it’ for you?” Ryan’s voice had dropped, and the gravel tone raked across Erik’s nerves, warming him from the inside. “Maybe I forgot to mention one benefit of no central heating.” “What’s that?” Erik’s voice was as breathy as Ryan’s was raspy. “The fire in the stove usually dies out in the middle of night.” Erik frowned. “That doesn’t seem like a benefit.” “So, we’ll have to find other ways to keep each other warm.” Ryan whispered this against Erik’s lips, not really kissing, just breathing into each other. Images of how they could keep each other warm, wrapped up in blankets, bodies entwined, flashed through Erik’s mind, and he suddenly felt overheated in his heavy parka. He acted on his earlier desire to kiss Ryan, capturing the full lower lip between his teeth, trailing his tongue across the soft flesh. When Ryan kissed him back, Erik moaned around the tongue shoved into his mouth. Fuck the middle of the night. Erik wanted to practice generating heat now. His hands sneaked under Ryan’s unzipped parka, trying to find their way past too many layers of clothing to reach naked skin. But their mission was thwarted when Ryan grasped his wrists and gently extracted them from his clothes. A disappointed protest rose from Erik’s throat, but Ryan smiled against his lips. “Soon, but we need to get set up before the sun sets and it gets too cold outside.” Erik rolled his eyes and sighed. He knew Ryan was right, but that didn’t mean his cock was happy about it. Ryan sorted through the cooler, pulling out ingredients to make sandwiches for lunch and other items that could be kept unrefrigerated. Everything else went back inside the cooler, and Erik was instructed to stick the whole thing on the back porch. Together they made lunch while Erik asked about the cottage and the surrounding area. Apparently, Ryan’s family had a similar cottage in Quebec when they were growing up in Montreal. When Rachel moved to Toronto and married Tom, they bought this cottage and spent most of their summer weekends away from the city. Winter camping was more Ryan’s thing; sometimes he went there by himself for the weekend—time to be alone and think. Erik didn’t understand that. Being isolated with someone and having hot sex to stay warm—yes, he understood that. But just by himself? With no one to talk to? And no one to call for help if he fell into the ice and died? That didn’t sound appealing. After lunch, they cleared the ice hole that had frozen over since Ryan had dug it out the weekend before and drew a couple of big buckets-full to bring inside. Ryan showed him the outhouse—the little shed standing a few yards away from the house with a wooden bench and strategically sized hole. Erik didn’t look forward to having to use it, and his balls curled up a little tighter just at the thought. Then they settled onto the futon for the rest of the afternoon. The cottage was stocked with reading material, and Ryan had brought a couple of articles he still had to edit for work. So, they sat, each on his own end of the futon, legs intertwined in the middle, covered under a couple of layers of blankets. Every so often, Ryan would get up to stoke the fire and feed it one of the logs already sitting at the ready in a pile next to the stove. Then he’d drop a kiss on Erik’s forehead before settling back into his spot on the opposite end of the futon. ### Erik didn’t remember falling asleep. But when he awoke, he was wrapped in blankets, and the sun had already set. The wood stove was burning, and he could feel the heat radiating from the black, iron box. His mouth felt dry and his head throbbed a little from dehydration. Ryan wasn’t on his end of the futon anymore. Sounds from the kitchen had Erik stretching and craning his neck to see Ryan at the counter, humming to himself while he chopped. It was so domestic that it hurt, a delicious ache in Erik’s soul that wished everyday could be like this: waking up from afternoon naps in front of the fire to find Ryan making dinner. In his daydream, Erik ignored how Ryan couldn’t cook to save his life. Instead, he imagined them sitting close at the dinner table, exchanging casual touches while eating, conversation flowing as they shared how their days went. He could see Ryan’s grin, the way he spoke animatedly about some new psychology study he’d read about, the way he’d prop head in his hand while he listened to Erik talk. After dinner, they would retire to the couch, cuddled in each other’s arms. Lazy kisses would grow heated and soon they would be naked under the covers of their bed. Their bed. Not Ryan’s bed or Erik’s bed, but theirs. Erik liked the sound of that. The ache in his soul grew until he propelled from his toasty little cocoon to pull the man he loved into his arms. He nuzzled the soft hairs on the back of Ryan’s neck and much to his pleasure, Ryan leaned back against him and turned for a kiss. Ryan had been sampling the food—on the counter were piles of cut up bananas, kiwis, mangos, and apples. Already on plates were pretzels, marshmallows, cubes of angel food cake and on the dining table was the fondue pot with a couple of chocolate bars and a carton of milk. On Ryan’s lips, Erik tasted the saltiness of the pretzels and the sweetness of the apples. Who needed actual food when he could just lick the flavors from Ryan’s mouth? He deepened the kiss, pouring all his longing for things he couldn’t have into that kiss. The daydream that he concocted in his mind showed a simple life, but love didn’t feel that simple and certainly the path to a life like that didn’t look simple. The knife Ryan held clattered onto the countertop and Ryan turned in his arms so they were pressed together, chest to knee. Erik groaned, his knees weak with how much he wanted Ryan. His feelings went so much deeper than a physical attraction; that had been clear all those years ago when Ryan left New York and Erik found himself with a broken heart. He never blamed Ryan—how could he when he understood more than anyone else why Ryan had to leave? But they’d been gifted with a second chance and despite how well things were going, Erik couldn’t push aside the fear that he would one day find himself with another broken heart. It was Ryan who finally pulled back from the kiss. If Erik had it his way, he would gladly have died from suffocating by kissing. “Erik?” Ryan whispered against his lips. Erik tried to smile, but it wobbled and he took a shaky breath. “Hey, are you okay?” Erik gave a slight nod, eyes shut tight. He buried his face into the crook of Ryan’s neck, the wool sweater scratchy against his cheek. But it smelled like Ryan and it both smoothed and intensified that soul deep hunger. “I’m almost done here,” Ryan said after a moment. “Want to start melting the chocolate?” Erik had no problem helping, but he didn’t want to let go of Ryan. He held on for a moment longer before forcing himself to step back. They finished prepping with Erik stirring the chocolate while Ryan laid out platters of bite-sized food. “Are you sure we’ll be able to finish all this?” Erik eyed the two giant platters. Ryan shrugged. “It’s not as much as you think.” And then he grinned. “Plus, I plan on this being a long meal.” The words sounded innocent enough, but the look Ryan gave him had Erik suspecting that Ryan’s intentions were anything but innocent. Ryan skewered a grape, dipped it into the chocolate and smeared the hot syrup across Erik’s lips. What Ryan had in mind was quickly making itself clear. He shook off the melancholy and told himself to be present. They had this weekend to themselves, there was no point in ruining it over fanciful daydreams and notions of what if. Erik’s tongue sneaked out and licked the chocolate from his lips before capturing the offending grape with his teeth. He didn’t pull it off the fork, and instead, slid his lips back and forth, mimicking the motions he used when sucking on an entirely different object. Ryan’s brown eyes darkened at the sight, but he let Erik take his time with the grape. By the time Erik pulled it off with a light tug, Ryan looked like he was about to jump across the table and steal the grape back with his tongue. He grabbed a piece of pretzel with his fingers and dipped it into the pot. As he brought it up to Ryan’s mouth, a drop of chocolate slid off and landed on Ryan’s beard. Ryan’s tongue snagged the pretzel from Erik’s fingers, and after he swallowed, it sneaked out to lick across his lips, smearing chocolate all over. Erik couldn’t stop himself. He leaned in to clean up the stray drop of chocolate and the smears along Ryan’s full lips. The saltiness of the pretzel mixed with the sweet chocolate was heavenly, and Erik sucked on Ryan’s tongue to get more. He would never get tired of Ryan’s taste, it was an elixir that Erik was quickly becoming dependent on. Even masked by the salty sweetness of their meal, there was something about kissing Ryan that felt like he was drawing on a life-giving source. Ryan pushed at his shoulders; Erik groaned in protest. “Food, babe. Need food if we’re going to have the energy for some heat generation later.” “I don’t see why we can’t do both at the same time.” He tugged Ryan’s arm. “Multitasking?” Ryan chuckled. “Right, exactly. Multitasking.” He tugged again, and Ryan moved from his seat to straddle Erik’s lap. “Hm… better.” Ryan reach for a piece of kiwi this time and held it above Erik’s mouth; it was dripping in chocolate, and Erik tilted his head back, waiting for Ryan to drop the piece of fruit on his tongue. Sweet and sour. He moaned as his eyes drifted shut and he gave Ryan a squeeze around the waist. God, this felt wonderful: Ryan in his arms as they laughed and teased each other. The rest of the world was on the other side of the frozen lake and they could be as silly and intimate with each other as they wanted. Erik wanted to take full advantage. He tightened his arms and tried to stand up while holding Ryan to his chest. Erik might have been muscled after much time at the gym, but he was nowhere near as strong as he would have liked to believe. They ended up sprawled on the carpeted floor in front of the wood stove, giggling like teenagers. Good thing the rugs were thick. When the giggles subsided, Erik looked down into Ryan’s eyes and saw a peacefulness there that he rarely felt in his own heart. He brushed back Ryan’s hair, marveling at how they managed to find each other again after all those years. “Hey.” A little crease formed between Ryan’s brows. “Stop it.” “What?” “Whatever you’re thinking about: stop it.” Ryan framed Erik’s face with both his hands. “This weekend is about having fun. I know some things are shitty out there. But that’s why we’re away from it all. We’ve got a good thing going on here, right?” Erik nodded. “So, let’s just focus on us, okay? Let’s just have fun.” And that was why Erik loved this man so much. He didn’t know when Ryan had learned to read him so well, or how he managed to say and do exactly the right thing at the right time. But he never failed to create a space for Erik to just be himself. “Okay,” Erik whispered before Ryan caught his lips in a kiss. It was a hard kiss that melted into something soft and teasing. Erik kissed along Ryan’s jaw, the beard burning his lips, igniting a fire that competed with the heat from the stove next to them. He latched onto Ryan’s ear with his teeth and tugged, growling when Ryan arched up into him. “Erik.” His name, spoken breathily from Ryan’s lips. He pushed through the sweater and t-shirt Ryan wore and splayed his hands across the skin of Ryan’s torso. The two broke apart just far enough and just long enough to pull their clothes off, and Erik felt his nipples harden at the sudden exposure to the cool air. It didn’t take long for the shock of the cold to wear off, though. Between the heat from the stove and the fire burning through the friction of their skin, a thin layer of sweat quickly developed, and Erik delighted in licking it off Ryan’s neck, his collarbone, and down the middle of his chest. “Erik.” His name again. He latched onto a particularly delicate patch of skin right above Ryan’s hipbone and sucked, lapping at it until Ryan bucked. The hardening length of Ryan’s cock bumped against his cheek and he turned his head to latch onto the delicate flesh. The scent of Ryan filled his nostrils. His…his Ryan. The thought echoed faintly in the back of his mind and made Erik want to devour him. Ryan wanted to have fun; Erik had an idea for how they could play. Erik rose to his feet, taking a moment to admire the sight of Ryan splayed out on the floor, and grabbed the pot of melted chocolate and the plate of fruit. “Oh, god.” The words sounded garbled as Ryan uttered them, his eyes following Erik as he placed the supplies within arm’s reach. Erik smiled as Ryan’s breath hitched in his chest. “You wanted to have fun, right?” Ryan swallowed thickly and nodded. He straddled just one thigh, pushing Ryan’s other leg out so it fell to the side, bent at the knee, giving Erik full access to what he wanted. Then he picked up a strawberry and dipped it in the chocolate. Ryan tensed under him as he brought the piece of fruit over and dragged it across Ryan’s hip. A ragged breath escaped him as Erik drew a path of chocolate across the olive-colored skin. “Not too hot?” He asked as he bent down. A quick shake of Ryan’s head was all Erik needed before he followed the trail with his tongue. Chocolate. Ryan. Heaven. When all the chocolate was gone, he leaned forward and fed the offending strawberry to Ryan who groaned around it. Erik’s gut clenched at the look of bliss on Ryan’s face. This was definitely fun; maybe too much fun judging by the way Erik’s cock hardened to the point of pain. Next was a piece of apple. This time, he used it to paint Ryan’s nipples with the warm chocolate. Ryan’s fingers closed over his wrist, gripping tightly as his chest heaved. Ryan bit his lower lip, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. With his gaze fixed firmly on Ryan’s expression, Erik sealed his lips around one nipple, using his tongue to lap at the chocolate, his teeth to bite lightly at the hardened bud. He repeated it with the other nipple before feeding the apple to Ryan. When Ryan finished swallowing, he pulled Erik down to him, and Erik gladly let his weight settle. Their tongues dueled, chocolate and fruit mixing with the heady scent of their lovemaking. “Having fun?” Erik asked, unable to keep a giggle from bubbling up when Ryan pinned him with a vengeful look. “Tons. My turn,” Ryan growled and flipped their positions with an ease that Erik’s brain couldn’t quite comprehend. More giggle escaped him, but he quickly sobered when Ryan picked up a slide of banana, dipped it in chocolate and gave Erik a scheming smirk. Ryan placed it in the middle of Erik’s chest and left it there. Erik cut off a gasp for fear of breathing too deeply and dislodging the banana. His cock pulsed as he lay unmoving, a platter for Ryan’s plating techniques. A second piece of banana landed a couple of inches lower than the first, the third one another couple of inches lower still until there was a line of banana slices running down the center of his body, stuck in place with a dollop of chocolate. His body looked like someone else’s, the row of banana slices perched on glistening skin, the pools of chocolate melting even more against the heat of his torso. It looked erotic as hell, and his brain short-circuited when he realized it was his own body he was lusting after. Ryan did this to him. His Ryan. His Ryan who hit all the right switches, ignited all the right nerve endings and turned him into a blubbering mess. He’d always been the initiator in the past, he liked being in charge. But letting Ryan take control in sex was a confirmation of what Erik already knew. Ryan created safe spaces, and Erik could just let go and be. “Hey.” Ryan leaned over him, bracing on one hand by Erik’s shoulder. Erik felt his other hand close around Erik’s cock and then the hardness of Ryan’s cock as he shifted to align them. “Oh, fuck.” The words escaped his throat as Ryan rubbed their erections together. He leaned down for a kiss, but Erik couldn’t do more than pant into Ryan’s mouth as he tried to hold himself still. “Bananas.” “Are you having fun now?” Ryan asked with a smile. “Bananas.” Ryan chuckled and glanced down at the row of banana slices sliding off Erik’s body. “I never thought I had a food kink, but seeing you like this now…” Ryan let out a low growl that had Erik fighting back the laughter. “Don’t! They’re sliding off!” Erik’s lungs burned as he tried to keep from breathing. Ryan laughed out loud and gave Erik’s cock another firm tug. Erik couldn’t kept the shudder that ran through his body, nor the high pitched whine that somehow rang out from his vocal chords. “Ryan!” Ryan finally took pity on him. He dipped his head, and his teeth scrapped against Erik’s chest as Ryan ate the fruit from his body. Erik fought to stay still as Ryan caught the second slice between his teeth and fed it to Erik. Erik whimpered around the fruit, and the whimper turned into a moan when Ryan’s hand, still on his cock, gave it a tight squeeze. Ryan alternated, snatching one piece of banana for himself, then feeding the next one to Erik, all the while stroking Erik’s dick. He paused when he got down to the last one, and Erik lifted his head to watch. Ryan opened his mouth and there were still traces of chocolate on his tongue as he licked at the head of Erik’s cock. The feeling of the teasing wetness against the sensitive head and the sight of chocolate still on Ryan’s lips was too much. Erik shut his eyes for fear of coming all over Ryan’s hand and mouth. Heat enveloped his dick as Ryan took him deep. His hips jerked involuntarily, and Ryan gagged a bit before diving down again. Erik let his fingers tangle in Ryan’s hair, the dark curls the perfect length for holding on. Fuck. Enough playing. “Babe.” He tugged Ryan up for a kiss, tasting the salty bitterness of his own pre-cum against the sweetness of the chocolate and fruit. “How do you want to be fucked?” Desperate whimpers escaped Ryan’s throat as Erik slipped his fingers down Ryan’s crack and began rubbing at his hole. He felt the ring of muscle quivering at even that lightest touch. Ryan muttered something incoherent. “What’d you say?” Ryan pushed himself up on shaky arms. “My bag.” He nodded toward where they had stashed their bags by the end of the futon earlier. Erik reluctantly let Ryan go and settled himself against the front of the futon, legs stretched out in front of him, facing the stove as he waited for Ryan to return with a different set of supplies than the chocolate and fruit. Ryan straddled his lap, and Erik bit back and groan and he pulled his lover close. A stray thought wove through his mind that he never liked this position when on camera; he never felt like he could sell it well enough. But that wasn’t even a consideration with Ryan. In fact, this was his favorite position with Ryan: perfect for kisses and hugs, with nothing more intimate than that face-to-face realness. He smiled as Ryan bent down for a kiss. There was no doubt that what they had was real; it was something really special. Because even a reminder of their past lives didn’t put a damper on Erik’s arousal, or trigger a downward spiral of his thoughts. Erik pushed thoughts of porn away as Ryan’s hand ran down the length of cock, rolling on the condom. Then Ryan arched his back, his head tilting back, his mouth falling open in gasps. Erik smoothed his hands up and down Ryan’s taut thighs while Ryan prepped himself. Erik wished he could see Ryan’s fingers disappearing into his own body, but watching Ryan’s expressions was almost as sexy. Knowing that Ryan was so giving of himself, eager to surrender his body to Erik was even sexier still. Ryan looked lost in a daze of lust when he finally extracted his fingers. With trembling limbs, he rose and their eyes locked as Ryan slowly lowered him. It took a couple of tries before Erik felt the head of his cock pop inside. Ryan’s pupils dilated and lost their focus, and he felt sure his eyes looked the same. He wrapped his arms around Ryan’s narrow waist, pulling him close so they were chest to chest, forehead to forehead, as Ryan slowly slid down his cock. This was it; this was that perfection he loved about being with Ryan like this. This beautiful, strong, resilient man who understood him inside and out like no one else every could. Erik buried his face into the crook between Ryan’s neck and shoulder, filled with a feeling he didn’t understand but that threatened to burst from him and leave him shattered. Ryan shifted in his lap and clamped down on his dick. Erik shook with pleasure that could not be contained and drew his knees up to trap Ryan against him. They made love like that, so tightly intertwined there was no clear line between where one person ended and the other began. Their orgasms sneaked up on them unexpectedly. One minute the pace was a slow languishing love making, and then Ryan pulled at his hair as he thrust up into Ryan’s body. Ryan plunged his tongue into Erik’s mouth, the kiss sending heat seeping through every cell until everything burst into flames. He emptied himself into Ryan just as hot spurts of Ryan’s cum landed on his stomach. Erik squeezed his eyes shut as aftershocks of his climax rolled through him in waves. “That would have made an awesome porn flick. Top of the charts,” Ryan whispered in a ragged voice right into Erik’s ear. It took a second for the words to register with Erik’s brain and then he couldn’t stop laughing because it was true. They toppled over onto the floor in a fit of giggles. The fact that they could joke over something like this gave Erik a sense of freedom he hadn’t even realized he lacked. They were moving beyond their past and if the legacy of their porn star history meant scorching hot sex in their future, Erik was okay with that.
  2. Comments done!!! Just in time for new chapter tomorrow!!! 

  3. Chapter 6

    Yep, agreed!! Erik's pretty stubborn though, he'll need to bash his head against it a bit more before it all sinks into that brain of his
  4. Chapter 6

    Agreed! No one is ever just one thing. We're all mosaics of different identities. Erik's gotta figure out what his looks like
  5. Chapter 6

    Aw, thanks Def!! Erik's got lots to work through in his head, yep, for sure.
  6. Chapter 6

    Gah! Too insightful for your own good!! *eyes next chapter...*
  7. Chapter 6

    I'm so sorry!! *hands over tissues* I hope you found something healthy to cheer yourself up!
  8. Chapter 6

    I love the idea that the parts of us we like the least as the parts that others love the most!!
  9. Chapter 6

    Thank you!!
  10. Chapter 6

    Thank you so much!!!
  11. Chapter 6

    Erik was definitely using drink to drown his sadness. I think every once in a while is okay. It's not a consistent thing. Ryan's shy, he'll ease into saying it when Erik's awake.
  12. Chapter 6

    I know... sorry!!!
  13. Chapter 6

    I know!! I don't know why I put my characters through such misery. It does get better after this!!
  14. Chapter 6

    They totally have been in love with each other for three years!!! Even if they haven't been in touch I agree that Erik needed some kind of outlet, and given their history, alcohol was probably a little better than sex.
  15. Chapter 6

    True, drinking is not a solution either. But sex has a significant role in their past This a dark moment for Erik, but also cathartic in a way. He'll have to move on now.
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