“Of Candy Canes and Fuzzy Handcuffs” is now also available for download on Smashwords.
Warning: This short story contains major spoilers for “Spectacularly Broken”
Warning: Explicit content
Santa Monica, California—Present Time
The Great Christmas Tree Debate of the Twenty-Fourth of December raged across our dining-room table, showing no signs of settling down anytime soon.
“I’m allergic,” Jarett said for the fifth time.
“Take your meds,” was Finn’s petulant answer. “It’s tradition. I want my tree.”
“Nobody said you couldn’t have a fucking tree,” Cai pointed out. I was pretty sure that if he scowled any harder, the lines would be etched permanently into his face.
“Goddamn it. You heard what I said.”
“I heard ‘I’ll walk across allergy-ridden corpses to get my way in this.’ That’s what I heard.”
“I said I don’t want a stupid fake tree,” Finn growled.
“Well, I guess we can go looking for an intelligent fake tree—”
“Stop being an idiot. I. Want. My. Tree.”
I put my face in my hands and sighed deeply as I backed away. Having my friends for roommates had sounded so good in theory, and for the most part it was, but it led far too easily to situations like this one.
“Is it even possible to get a real Christmas tree around here that doesn’t look half-dead?” Jarett asked me with hope in his eyes, inching closer to me while my cousin and my boyfriend continued to snipe at each other. “I mean, one that’s not ludicrously expensive? Back home we never had one.”
“Oh, ludicrously expensive is totally par for the course.” I shrugged. “My dad gets four each year.”
“Four? What does he need four Christmas trees for?”
“Don’t be silly. Nobody needs four Christmas trees. He just gets them so the house looks like happy people might possibly live there.”
“Oh. I probably wouldn’t ever want to be at your house for Christmas, then.” Jarett shuddered.
“Neither would I,” I replied distractedly. “How bad is your allergy, anyway?”
“I get really stuffed up, itchy eyes and everything. It’s not that bad if I take Claritin, but I’d prefer not to have to do that.”
“Yeah, okay.” I eyed the Christmas-tree combatants and tried to estimate how long this would take. Finn’s eyes were blazing with determination. He didn’t usually get this excited, which meant that this tree thing had to mean a lot to him. Cai, on the other hand, wore the same disgusted expression he had pulled out more and more over the past few days. It had taken me a while to realize that it was his “I fucking hate Christmas because everything reminds me of my dead brother” face.
I couldn’t really fault him for that one.
“This is the first time I’ve been away from my mom for Christmas and New Year’s. It’s weird.” Jarett just kept on chatting in a vain effort to distract himself from the shouting voices—“You hate Christmas!” “You hate common sense!”—while his cheeks slowly colored. Jarett was kind of an expert at blushing.
“So, what do you normally do for the holidays?” he wanted to know.
“Not much, really.”
“What’s that mean? What did you do the last few years?”
“Um,” I said.
Los Angeles, California—Two Years Ago
“I need you to get it together for ten damn minutes, Lysander.”
My dad stood in the doorway, glaring at the glass of whiskey in my hand. I had decorated it with a red-and-green-striped candy cane—my only concession to the most wonderful time of the year. Next to me, the hot guy I’d been hanging out with—Jason? James?—blinked like an owl, looking dazed. I wasn’t sure what he had ingested before coming here, but I was willing to bet it was something good.
“Yeah, how about no?” I muttered. I really didn’t want to ruin my comfortable buzz by interacting with the assholes downstairs. Unfortunately, it was one of the few occasions when my dad wouldn’t back down. And his cutting voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard to my floaty mind.
“I’m not going to tolerate a refusal. You knew beforehand that I expected you to make an appearance at the party. You’re lucky I don’t insist on your attendance for the whole evening.”
If he did that, the party was doomed. He knew that as well as I did. Ten minutes of my time was a bargain I was willing to make for his goodwill. An entire evening would have me shouting obscenities at the crowd of film-industry people who were currently slurping champagne downstairs while listening to overplayed Frank Sinatra Christmas tunes.
“Fuck,” I muttered obstinately.
“Get up, get your clothes straightened out”—my dad actually reached for my T-shirt and smoothed out an imaginary wrinkle—“and eat a breath mint.”
“Yes, sir,” I drawled.
“Don’t embarrass me, Lysander.”
“Keep dreaming,” I muttered at his retreating back.
James—no , wait, Jason—snorted. He seemed to find the whole affair as stupid as I did. After climbing out of my armchair, I extended a hand to him and helped him up.
“You’re really gonna go down there?” he asked.
“If I don’t, my dad’s gonna be on my case for the rest of the night and probably for weeks afterward. So not worth it.” I shrugged and hooked my thumbs into the belt loops of my new favorite pants—an early Christmas present to myself. They were black leather and laced up at the sides, allowing me both comfort and skintight sexiness. “A few minutes of gritting my teeth and he’ll leave me alone.”
“Guess that’s a pretty good deal, then,” Jason—or was it James after all?—said.
As we walked down the main staircase, I noticed with satisfaction that he was looking at my ass, and I swayed enticingly in response. The leather pants probably didn’t hurt my case.
“Lysander!” I heard my name called by my dad’s agent. Thomas was past middle age but refusing to acknowledge it. He yearned to be twenty years younger and dressed like it, without looking the part. It was all sorts of cringeworthy.
“Thomas,” I said through gritted teeth.
“You’ve grown, my boy.” He placed a hand on my shoulder and manhandled me toward the little group of fame-hungry fucktards he had been chatting with. “How old are you now?”
“Just turned nineteen,” I responded pleasantly and took a large and very obvious gulp of my whiskey. “Cheers.”
Thomas, who had plenty of practice in dealing with me, didn’t even react. Not wanting to be slacking, and perfectly well aware my dad’s agent was a homophobic jerk, I eyed a cute blond cocktail waiter passing by.
“Gorgeous, isn’t he?” I asked Jason —yes, definitely Jason. Probably. He nodded, a slight blush staining his cheeks. Then I looked back at Thomas, dipped my index finger into my drink, and sucked it clean. “Don’t you agree?”
“Excuse me?” His lip curled.
“Oh, you know.” I made an indecent motion with my tongue and watched a vein in his jaw slowly begin to pulse.
The next moment, a hard grip bruised my upper arm. “What are you doing?” my father asked into my ear, voice low and harsh.
“Being a good host,” I said as innocently as I could manage.
“Oh, please. You told me to.”
“I did not. I simply needed you to make a ten-minute appearance while acting polite and decent.”
I pulled the candy cane out of my drink and swirled my tongue around it, killing two birds with one stone because, as my father’s expression got delightfully bug-eyed, Jason—screw it, he was Jason now—blushed harder. I was in rare form today, I decided, feeling pleased.
“So you want me to stay down here or not?” I asked conversationally.
“Yeah, yeah. Leaving.” I sighed, pulled out of his grip, and waved for Jason to follow me. Once we were out of earshot, I got right to business.
“You ever fucked a guy?” I asked Jason.
“Uh, no,” he said.
“You want to?” I met his surprised stare with a raised eyebrow and a sly smile.
“I’m, um, straight.”
“Doesn’t mean you can’t experiment.” I gave the candy cane another lick and offered it to him. “C’mon. It’ll be fun.”
Jason opened and closed his mouth like a fish while I waited for him to consider the offer. Eventually, he tentatively stuck out his tongue and touched it to the candy cane. When he sucked it into his mouth, I knew he’d be game. I didn’t usually do inexperienced guys, but he was exceptionally hot, and I didn’t want to let him slip through my fingers.
The cute waiter was back and caught my eye. When he gave me a heated look, my gaydar pinged at max level.
Well, hell. I was spoiled for choice.
“Come on,” I said. “I’ll show you my room.” I shifted my attention back to the blond waiter and gave him a meaningful look. Then I dragged Jason off, down the nearest hallway. Blondie followed unobtrusively.
“Where are we going?” Jason asked.
“I told you. My room.” I was about to turn a corner when I heard the voice of the one person I did not want to be seen by while I was slutting it up. Our housekeeper, Sheri, had basically raised me. She was the only one who could get away with dressing me down, and it wasn’t pleasant to be on the receiving end of her disappointed stare. Currently, she seemed to be busy arguing with one of the caterers about whether the mint juleps were supposed to be served during or after the impending gift exchange.
“Change of plans,” I said and opened the nearest door, which was a bathroom. I shoved Jason inside and pulled cute waiter guy along with me. Then I banged the door shut and didn’t waste any more time.
I didn’t kiss Jason, because I figured that might have been a bit much for his first time with a guy—if that’s what it was. I was a little skeptical, since convincing him had taken no time at all, but then again, it was hardly my business. And as long as he was game, I didn’t much care either, so I simply placed my hand on his crotch and massaged what appeared to be a very nice length of cock, as far as I could tell through the clothes. With one flick of my eyes, cute waiter went to his knees and paid some attention to my crotch—and after a minute or so, to Jason’s as well. I got busy unbuttoning Jason’s shirt so I could admire his cut torso more easily.
I was having rather a lot of fun, actually, right up until the point where I heard male voices outside and someone opened the door wide.
“I don’t think he’s in—” my father started. Then his eyes went wide, which was to be expected given our rather compromising position. “Here,” he finished. Behind him, some vaguely familiar guy who more than likely worked with my dad had gone white. He probably wasn’t used to this kind of stuff.
“Um,” I said. “Well, awkward.”
Jason had frozen in place. Cute waiter seemed to be trying to make himself as small as possible.
“James,” said the vaguely familiar guy, looking aghast.
Oops. Apparently Jason wasn’t Jason after all.
“For God’s sake, Lysander, if you have to do this, could you at least lock the door?” My father covered his eyes with his palm and breathed deeply, sounding as though he was staving off some kind of attack.
“I was preoccupied,” I said. “Besides”—I put on my sweetest smile—“not like this is the first time you’ve walked in on me.”
He went a little green. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.
“Just…hurry up and get dressed, please. We’ll meet you outside.” With that, he closed the door.
“Oh my God,” Jason…er, James said. He sounded completely freaked out. “Oh my God. My dad and Joel Shepherd just walked in on me having sex with two dudes. Oh God.”
“Yeah,” I said, unaffected by his panic. “Welcome to my world, cupcake.”
Santa Monica, California—Present Time
Jarett looked me up and down without even blinking.
“Yeah, sounds like you,” he said.
We noticed the sudden silence at the same time, and our heads turned in unison. An agreement seemed to have been reached. The change was so abrupt that I took a startled step back when I spotted Cai, now sitting on the table, calmly nodding his head at something Finn was saying.
“You could have told me that to start with,” he chided my cousin gently.
“Yeah, well, it’s kinda personal.”
“What’s personal?” I asked. Cai looked up at me as I came closer.
“Lexa wants a real tree,” he told me. “The smell gives her good memories.”
“Then obviously we’ll get a real tree,” I said as Cai fished for my hand, brought it to his mouth, and kissed my palm. I loved it when he did that. Before I had a boyfriend, when I was just fucking every eligible gay guy in a thirty-mile radius like my life depended on it, I would have laughed in the face of anyone telling me that I might ever crave so much tenderness from a single person. Now…well, let’s just say I wasn’t laughing so much as smiling. At Cai.
I’d become such a fucking sap.
“So it’s decided?” I asked, just to make sure.
“Yeah. Sorry, dude.” Cai nodded at Jarett before interlacing his fingers with mine. “We’ll vacuum twice a day, okay? And we won’t leave it up for long.”
“Okay,” Jarett agreed, like I’d known he would, because Jarett was far too nice for his own good. And the rest of us, particularly yours truly, had a tendency to take advantage of that without even realizing it.
One of these days, I was gonna make it up to him and buy him a pony or something.
* * * *
“Lys just bought a real Christmas tree for us,” Finn told Lexa as soon as she returned from her therapy, before she had even put her canvas bag down. She gifted him with a rare sunny smile. Finn grinned back like an idiot. “And we’ll get decorations,” he added, reaching out to put an arm around her and kiss her cheek when she walked up to him.
“But no blinky lights,” I reminded him from the couch, where I was sitting on Cai’s lap and trying to focus on my homework. It was not an easy feat. He smelled far too good and was giving me ideas that had nothing to do with my textbook and everything to do with ripping all his clothes off.
“Fine,” Finn sighed and rolled his eyes at me before turning back to Lexa. “I thought those multicolored blinky lights would be fun. Lys threatened to strangle me with them if I bought some.”
“They are kitsch incarnate, and I am not allowing them anywhere near me,” I informed the room without even looking up from my book.
“Yeah, whatever.” Finn was still focused on his girlfriend. “You can decorate too, if you want. Actually, you really should. Jarett says he’s not getting close enough to the tree to put any ornaments on it, Cai says he doesn’t care, and I’ve been banned from anything to do with aesthetics. But someone needs to keep Lys from totally overdoing it. Else we’ll probably end up with a tree that looks like the world’s fruitiest designer snowman vomited all over it.”
“Excuse you,” I said, feeling semi-offended. “My taste is impeccable. At least I—”
Before I could throw an appropriate insult Finn’s way, Cai had placed a hand over my mouth, pushed my chin upward, and gave my exposed throat a kiss and a nibble. He knew all my weaknesses by now, so it wasn’t a surprise that he managed to make me forget what I’d been about to say.
“Cheater,” I grumbled at him when he let go of me.
“I’ll make it up to you later,” he murmured into my ear, all silk and seduction and giving me the shivers without any effort at all.
“I heard that.” Finn placed his hands over his ears, his expression one of mock horror. “Spare me the details, please, God!”
“Aha!” I said triumphantly and pointed a finger at him. “Just for you, I’m gonna be extra loud later, when Cai has his—”
The hand came over my mouth again and stayed there. I had expected it. I didn’t really think Cai would allow me to start blurting out the details of our sex life, and I had counted on him stopping me. Finn was already whining about TMI, so my goal had been accomplished.
“I don’t mind whatever decorations you want to use,” Lexa said as she sat down on the other couch. “I’m sure it’ll be pretty.”
I licked Cai’s palm, and he let go.
“We could do something classic—handcrafted wooden figurines, straw stars, that kind of thing,” I proposed. “Or maybe a red-and-gold scheme, with glittery ornaments and sensible amounts of tinsel. We could also go with something really modern, use pearls and weave flowers into the branches. I’d use something like poppies, maybe.”
“Paint some pinecones gold,” Finn said.
I gave him the evil eye. “Um, hell no.”
“We are not in kindergarten,” I pointed out.
“You’re no fun at all.”
“Maybe not, but luckily I’ve got enough style for the both of us.”
“Lys is the most designerish one here,” Jarett acknowledged. “And he does kind of have a standard to maintain.”
Jarett had a point. A couple of months back, I had entered and won a freshman-class competition to design a local private high school’s new uniforms. Having my name out there as something other than Joel Shepherd’s useless spawn had been a novel experience and an elating one. The press, which hadn’t had all that much interest in me for the last few years, had suddenly started circling me like sharks. My dad’s PR girl had told me that throwing them a few crumbs every once in a while was the best strategy to keep them from invading my privacy, so that was what I had started doing—mostly because that way, I could make sure they focused on me and left my friends and my boyfriend alone. I had given a couple of short interviews and attended a charity ball with my father, which had been strangely fun, actually. But as of right now, I was overdue for throwing out another breadcrumb. A Christmas picture of me with my own fancily designed Christmas tree would probably do it.
“Yeah,” I said. “Flowers and pearls. I won’t overdo it. Don’t worry.”
Finn threw up his hands. “Fine,” he grouched and stomped into the kitchen.
He had barely left when Cai turned and said, “If you’re sending out a picture, I want to be in it.”
I nearly choked. “Excuse me?”
“I’ve been thinking.” He shrugged, looking almost a little embarrassed. “I don’t like that whole eligible gay bachelor thing the media has been pegging you with. It pisses me off.”
I took his hand with both of my own. “Sweetheart,” I said, “I thought you knew better than to give a shit about the stuff they say.”
“I thought I did too, but turns out it’s not as easy as I thought.”
“Do me a favor?” I asked. “Keep thinking about it for a bit? ’Cause once you’re out there, it’s impossible to take back.”
“I know.” He sighed. “It’s just…I have this irrational desire to have people know that you’re mine and I’m yours, damn it.”
“Aw, you’re going all territorial caveman on me.” I grinned. “That’s kinda hot.”
Cai’s cheeks had reddened. “Shut up and do your homework,” he said.
“Lost cause.” I flung my textbook on the table and put both arms around Cai’s neck. “C’mon, caveman. Show me how much I’m yours.”
“That’s the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard,” Finn groaned, coming back into the room.
“Yeah, but see, it works,” I crowed as Cai stood and lifted me easily along with himself. My legs locked around his waist. Having him carry me was one of my favorite things.
“Excuse us,” Cai said, stepping around Finn. “I think I’m gonna have to spank the smugness out of him.”
Finn yowled in protest and covered his ears.
“Ha,” I said, tilting my head. “Remember the first time we got all kinky?”
“Of course,” Cai said. “Spoiled brat.”
Salt Lake City, Utah—One Year Ago
I felt crumpled and exhausted and like hell. My hair was a mess. I was sticky and sweaty and just plain gross, but none of that mattered the moment I walked past airport security and saw Cai.
It had been so long. Two freaking months since he had visited me in Los Angeles, and that had been only for a week. I hadn’t gotten nearly enough of him then. And now here he was, looking handsome and tasty in a dark blue turtleneck and black jeans, and I sprinted to close the distance between us.
“Hi,” he said, laughing as we hugged. “You look terrible.”
“Shut up.” I kissed him. “You look great. This is new.” I plucked at his clothes. I had never seen Cai wear anything other than black.
“Yeah, I…” Cai shrugged. “Figured it was time, you know? I bought it a while back, but today is the first day I decided to wear it.”
I hugged him again. Cai’s twin brother, Cassiel, had been gone for over two years now, and ever since I had known Cai, he had worn all black as an outward sign of his mourning. I was perfectly well aware just how big a step this represented.
“You like it?” he asked.
I pretended to think about it. “Needs glitter,” I said.
He laughed and picked me up, spinning me around once. His dark eyes sparkled with joy, and I loved him so very much in that moment that my heart hurt.
“I missed you,” I said when he put me down. “So much. Sooo much.”
“Same. How was Paris?”
“Awesome, but too far away.” I shuddered at the memory of the trip I had just endured, starting out in Charles de Gaulle this morning, then going to Sea-Tac and from there to Salt Lake City. Now it was evening, after a stupidly long day, and I was beat. “I hate long flights.”
“Says the guy who flies first-class,” Cai said.
“Transatlantic economy would have killed me dead,” I said seriously.
“Spoiled brat.” He kissed my ear and went to pick up my suitcase for me.
I had recently expressed to my dad an interest in fashion that went beyond wearing it, and he had been…really supportive, weirdly enough. But it was nice. Anyway, since he’d be gone for Christmas, I had gotten my present early: A week in Paris, including meetings with several high-profile designers. It had possibly been the best present he had ever given me.
I had hugged him somewhat awkwardly in return.
As Cai returned to me, I studied his face. He had a new piercing, a slim ring in his eyebrow. I had seen it the last time we’d used Skype, but now I got to pass judgment on the real thing.
“Suits you,” I said.
“Glad you think so.” He grabbed my hand with his free one, easily lifting my suitcase with the other.
“I like it when you do the strong, sexy boyfriend thing,” I informed him. “Makes me want to jump you.”
“Let’s wait until we’re home.”
“You’re no fun at all.”
He laughed, which felt good because I loved making him laugh.
We made our way to his car and then drove, out of the parking garage, past hills of gray snow and houses decorated with multicolored lights. We held hands the entire time. I chatted on about Paris throughout the drive until we had nearly reached his home in the suburb of Riverton, when something occurred to me.
“Did you realize this is the first time I’ve been back since…you know.”
“Since you somehow convinced me to be with you despite the fact that you’re a lying liar who lied to me?”
“Yeah, that,” I said unapologetically. I knew he was just teasing me, having long since forgiven my major screw-up. “It’s nice to be back now that I feel all secure in this relationship.”
“I wasn’t,” he said, “the first time I came to visit you.”
That jolted me a little. “What?”
Cai grimaced as he stopped the car. “I didn’t say anything at the time, and I know it sounds strange, but…it didn’t really hit me who I was dating until then. When I saw your giant home and your ballroom-sized wardrobe, and for fuck’s sake, you came to pick me up from the airport in a limo.”
“I thought it was very romantic.” I pouted a little as I got out of the car.
“It was freaking terrifying is what it was.”
“So not my intention.”
“I know, baby.” He patted my hand and then took it as we walked up to his front door, which was decorated with a festive green-and-gold wreath. “I think half the time, you don’t even realize how you come across.”
“How do I come across?”
“Spoiled,” Cai said succinctly while he unlocked the door.
“I am not!”
“You own over a hundred pairs of shoes!”
“Yeah, but I need those,” I tried to argue my case. “There’s not a single pair that doesn’t go with at least one outfit I own.”
“And you think that means you aren’t spoiled?”
“Um.” I squinted at him. “Yes?”
“There is no way in hell you actually believe that.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
That was when he smacked my ass. I screeched and jumped in surprise. He did it again, causing me to emit little squeaks of terror as I tried to keep him from continuing.
“Abuse!” I protested, laughing.
“Deserved,” was Cai’s response before he lifted me up and tossed me across his shoulder.
“You play so…” I twisted without success. “Dirty!”
“I’ll show you dirty,” he threatened while carrying me inside.
“What does that mean? Does that mean what I think it means?” the eternal optimist inside me demanded to know.
“Probably,” Cai said. “My parents aren’t gonna be home until later tonight, and you need a lesson.”
“A lesson involving sex and spanking?”
“And handcuffs. I got us some fluffy handcuffs.”
“You’re the one for me. Wait, are they leopard print? They better not be leopard print.” I was seriously concerned.
“They are not leopard print,” Cai assured me. He carried me up the stairs and through the hallway leading to his room.
I was mollified until something else occurred to me. “Are you sure your parents aren’t gonna be back soon? Because I’ve lived that movie.”
“Sure,” he said. “Barring a serious emergency, they’re occupied.”
“Okay,” I said, and he threw me on his bed. I bounced once. In a moment, he was on top of me, kissing, touching. I hadn’t gotten to run my hands over his body in so long, and it felt all sorts of wonderful to be able to sneak beneath his sweater and do it now, so I made a noise of protest when he held down my wrists.
“Spoiled,” he said against my jaw, where he was nibbling and nipping and licking, being just rough enough that I was starting to melt beneath him. “Spoiled little brat.”
He let go of me for long enough to divest himself of his turtleneck and slip my shirt over my head as well. When I briefly turned my head to the side, I realized he had already placed lube and condoms on the nightstand, ready to be used. Next to them were two bottles of water and a washcloth. It was a beautifully sexy sight, and so damn practical to boot.
One of Cai’s hands came forward to tousle my hair.
“I like it like this,” he said. “Longer.”
“Good, cause I’m never gonna cut it so freaking short ever again.” I shuddered when the memory of the buzz cut I’d endured came back to me. “Seriously. Never. Again.”
He grinned down at me fondly. “You’re so vain,” he said.
“Am not!” I protested out of principle, even though it was impossible to deny. When I twisted beneath Cai, he held me down harder, his grip on my wrists almost bruising. Something in my belly tightened with excitement when I twisted again and realized he wouldn’t let me up.
“Are too,” he growled.
“Am no—” The rest of it was lost in the scream he forced out of me when his mouth closed on my nipple and he bit down without gentleness. I writhed, wanting more. Cai knew me by now, knew exactly what I liked and how to push my buttons.
He flipped me over. Putting his weight on me, he led my wrists up above my head. As soon as the handcuffs clicked shut around them, I was gripped by a full-body shudder filled with anticipation and excitement. We hadn’t done this before—the handcuffs, I mean—but I was already loving it.
“I think I like having you at my mercy,” Cai muttered into my shoulder before pulling away completely. Right away I missed his body heat blanketing me. I felt his fingers running along my spine and stroking the small of my back before slipping beneath to open my jeans. He popped the button with a nimble flick. As soon as he got a good grip on my pants, he dragged them down with so much force he knocked the wind out of me when my upper body slammed into the mattress.
“Oof,” I said intelligently.
Cai pounced like a cat, using teeth and fingers and his entire body to make me moan. That was when I realized just how much it sucked to be in the cuffs. I’d never loved touching anyone as much as I loved touching Cai, sliding my hands across smooth, heated skin as well as the web of scars on his back that defined so much of him. Not being able to do so drove me insane.
I may have whined a little bit, which made Cai laugh.
“Told you,” he said. “Spoiled.”
“That’s not even…You’re so full of… Fuck you!” I sputtered, outraged.
“Really? You wanna top this time?”
“No! Fuck me!”
“Make up your mind,” he said and reached beneath to give my nipples a vicious pinch. I winced but obliged him by arching my back and pressing my ass into him in the most obvious do-me-now gesture I could manage.
“Please!” I groaned.
“Say it again.”
“Please?” I purred the word this time and rolled my hips just the way I knew he liked. The shuddering breath he exhaled told me it had the intended effect, and then a slick finger had slipped between my ass cheeks and was circling my hole teasingly. I wanted to tell him to hurry the fuck up—I was more than ready; Jesus, it had been so damn long—but I had an ominous feeling he would use the opportunity to accuse me of being mouthy or something and punish me for it.
Then again…mmm, punishment.
“Can you take me without prep?” Cai asked breathlessly. He sounded as impatient as I felt, and I wanted to scream yes.
“I don’t know,” I said instead, honestly. A second later his finger was stroking into me and then back out, stretching me gently but firmly.
It felt strange not to be ready right away, quite frankly. Cai was the first guy in my life I had ever been faithful to, and as a result, I hadn’t had sex since I’d last seen him. It was the longest dry spell I’d been through ever since I’d started being sexually active. I didn’t mind, exactly, but it meant that I was, well, much tighter than I was used to being.
Not that it was a hardship, especially when Cai was murmuring sweet, dirty things into my ear while he had two fingers inside me, moving and twisting them just right. It felt beyond good, making my hips roll almost of their own accord. Still, I was relieved when I saw Cai reach for the condom and heard him rip it open.
“Fuck yes,” I groaned when he finally pushed into me. I didn’t need to tell Cai anything; he knew exactly how I liked it, and he knew how to move to use his laddered cock piercings to maximum effect. By now, I was completely addicted to the way they felt inside me. My cuffed wrists were hurting as I pulled, and even that, I liked. My skin burned, and arousal coiled more tightly in my belly with every thrust. This wasn’t going to take long.
“Harder,” I said, like he didn’t know. His response was a raspy moan. I could feel him losing control, speeding up his pace and thrusting more violently. His hands came to rest on my shoulders, clinging, and the jolts of pleasure turned into small explosions and then, finally, into an entire freaking July Fourth firework as I came, moaning, screaming, tossing my head and grinding into the mattress with abandon.
Cai collapsed on me, and both of us gasped for breath. My entire body tingled; my heart pounded. I was sticky and sated and so goddamn happy it made my head spin.
“Love you,” I muttered, once I could speak again.
“Love you too,” he whispered tiredly. “Fuck, Lys. So good.”
“I know, right?” I grinned, and Cai responded with a weak, tired grin of his own.
“Spoiled,” he said tenderly and kissed me on the lips.
Santa Monica, California—Present Time
Much later, when we were tangled in the sheets as well as each other, Cai said, “I want to make it official. I want people to know. I don’t care what happens.”
“Okay,” I said simply. I was still out of breath, still slick with sweat that was just now beginning to cool on my skin. My fingers traced the scarred welt on his shoulder as I looked up at him. “I want you to talk to Annie, though.”
“Your dad’s PR girl?”
“Yeah. She’ll go over what to expect and what to do if someone shoves a microphone in your face and stuff. And we need to make sure the others aren’t gonna get pulled into it. Especially Lexa.”
Cai nodded his agreement and pressed a kiss to my forehead. In response, I snuggled more closely against him. I loved cuddling through my afterglow—another thing I never would have thought possible before Cai.
“Do you think it’s a bad idea?” he asked eventually.
“No, I just want you to be certain.”
“I am,” he said. “Certain.”
I got the sudden feeling he wasn’t talking about a press release at all.