His fingers found her dress’s zipper again. He sank to his knees as he pulled it down, revealing not just her skin but perhaps his nature. He reached up and tugged at the shoulder of her gown. The cloud of violet organza slipped down and puddled at their feet.
Amelia ducked her head with an awkward smile. “I’m sorry.”
Arthur paused with his hands halfway under her petticoat. “What on earth for?”
“There’s more architecture involved in this dress than the Tower Bridge. It’s not exactly appealing.”
“And that, is where you’re wrong.” Arthur’s clever fingers traced over her ankles and up to the backs of her knees. “Any man with sense knows a good dress is a work of art and appreciates what a woman has to do to wear it.”
Amelia tried not to laugh as Arthur managed all the hooks and straps of her undergarments far more deftly than she herself had when getting dressed for the evening.
“Do you think women would wear such dresses if it was not a joy to divest them of all their secret layers,” Arthur asked as he undid her garters and rolled down a stocking. Inch by inch, garment by garment, he revealed her.
He pressed a soft kiss to the inside of her thigh as the last of her undergarments were discarded. She had barely stepped out of her knickers when he dragged his mouth the rest of the way up her leg. He parted her with his mouth. Arthur was clever with his tongue and possibly smug. He hummed against her clit.
“Arthur,” she tried to say with a sharp tug on his hair. It came out of more of a breathless keen.
He made an inquisitive noise but didn’t stop his ministrations. The vibration shot through her body.
“If you keep — I can’t stand up.”
She wasn’t sure how intelligible that was, either. But one moment she was standing, holding on to Arthur for dear life, and the next she was on her back on the bed, Arthur hovering over her, pressing kisses to her throat and breasts and stomach. The fine fabric of his clothes scratched against her skin, lighting up her nerves with an eager heat.
Amelia whined and tried to push him lower, back to where she really wanted him, but he sat up.
“Wait,” he said, one hand on her hip.
Arthur hung his head sheepishly. Amelia narrowed her eyes. “What?” she repeated.
“I’m afraid I didn’t come prepared for any sort of, well. Tryst.”
“You don’t have condoms,” Amelia interpreted and barely refrained from commenting on tryst.
“Afraid not. Although I could send someone —”
“There’s no point in having a staff if I can’t send someone to fetch —”
“No,” Amelia said.
“No, don’t send someone, or no, you don’t want to…?”
“Don’t send someone.” She reached out a hand and hooked her fingers in the open collar of Arthur’s shirt.
“No. I mean it.” She was surprised to find that she did.
“There are any number of things we could —”
“Do you not want to?” Amelia asked.
Arthur looked at her helplessly.
“We both want this,” Amelia said. “We’ve survived the political nightmare we created together. And we’re getting married in a matter of months anyway and condoms have nothing to do with why.”
“What?” Amelia poked him in the side with her bare toes.
“You.” Arthur leaned back over her, his weight braced on one arm. “Only you would rattle off a list of evidence for why I should fuck you like you’re presenting a paper.”
“So are you going to?” Amelia started in on the infuriating studs still holding Arthur’s shirt closed.
“That depends on whether you’re ever going to manage to get my clothes off.”
“Help a little, would you?” she hissed.
Arthur sat back on his heels again, Amelia’s hands sliding away from his body. She watched as he worked, his hands efficient with practice.
“Will it always be this awkward?” she asked as Arthur stood to divest himself of his trousers.
He paused with his hands at his waistband. “This isn’t awkward, Amelia. It’s companionable.”
She considered the statement as he skimmed out of the rest of his clothes. She knew he was fit, but it was something else to appreciate his body beyond the abstract. His arms were toned and his chest was broad and defined, with a light dusting of hair. She reached out a hand to skim over his well-muscled thigh. Riding and military service together had done wonderful things for his body.
Suddenly everything Amelia had been worried about for months seemed absurd. Not because Arthur’s body was so very worthy of her desire, nor because of the fairytale romance of their very public night out. But because Arthur was right. This was companionable. She’d never had that before. But here they were, naked and chatty. Arthur had even thought she was beautiful in beige undergarments meant to hold everything in and push everything up. When he’d said it a few moments ago, she’d thought it was flattery, but now she realized it was true.
Amelia wondered how long it had been since anyone had touched him like this. If she so chose, no one else could ever touch him like this again. It was a heady thought that threatened to overwhelm her.
She heard the soft rustle of sheets as Arthur stretched out next to her. Amelia rolled to face him.
“What are you thinking?” he asked softly. He traced circles on her hip with his fingers.
Confessions were on the tip of Amelia’s tongue; there were declarations she had harbored from nearly the beginning of this that were wildly unwise. Would declarations of love cause the moment to crumble? Companionable was a life she could live and enjoy, that was clear. She swallowed her heart back down, like any good princess, and kissed him.
Amelia could feel his smile against her lips. And that was lovely, but he was letting her control the kiss and that wasn’t what she wanted.
“I won’t break,” she muttered into his mouth.
The only indication that he’d heard her was when hauled himself up to sit. He brought Amelia with him, his arms strong around her back, and maneuvered her until she was straddling his waist. Distantly Amelia thought that, with any other man, she would have felt horribly exposed and vulnerable. Positioned like this, there were no sheets to hide under or pillows to press her face into. There was only Arthur, the muscled lines of his torso pressed along her smaller, softer form. This wasn’t nerve-wracking, even with all the lights on; it was delicious.
Riding horses had strengthened Amelia’s legs, too, but her thighs still trembled when Arthur put a hand under the curve of her arse and helped her raise her hips. Her breath came out in stuttered gasps, from both the effort of holding herself up and from the unfamiliar sensation of Arthur’s cock nudging at her folds.
Arthur kept her balanced; one hand on her waist, the other on his prick, as he guided himself into her. It was a strange feeling, having him inside, and Amelia bit her lip and pressed her face in Arthur’s shoulder, shifting her hips to try to make it more comfortable.
“I know it feels weird —”
“How would you know?” Amelia half-snapped, half-laughed into Arthur’s shoulder.
“Just breathe.” Arthur chuckled softly, causing him to shift inside her.
She gasped. Everything felt strange. It didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable either. Amelia was still waiting for the wow. She wanted Arthur to move, to win her body over. She was glad when his fingers slid down her stomach and then pressed against her, right where she ached most.
“Much better,” she murmured, tensing her muscles around him in search of the angle that was going to make everything just right.
“Keep doing that for science and this is going to be over before it’s begun,” Arthur said as he started to thrust shallowly.
“You mean —” she gasped. Arthur’s fingers were good. Adding movement was definitely better.
“It’s been over a year.” Arthur’s voice sounded strangled.
She could barely find her voice herself. “Want to race?” she managed.
He tightened his grip on her waist to thrust harder. “Would prefer you win,” he grit out, flicking his thumb against her clit, sharp and perfect.
She made a startled noise. “Right there,” she said. “Right there.”
Amelia closed her eyes to force herself to give into the pleasure which shot through her body and crept up into her brain. There would be a madness to it, once she surrendered. And letting go had never been something she was very good at. She shoved her hands into Arthur’s hair.
“I can’t,” she said in despair. She was so close, but it was all too much, as if her body were too overwhelmed to relieve her of this want and burden her with its consequences.
“Yes you can,” Arthur said against the skin of her neck. He lifted his mouth to her ear. “Do it for me.”
That was all it took. Amelia was coming, pulsing around him, and laughing in delight and at the absurdity of her body obeying Arthur, as if she were kingdom to his not-so-meaningless crown.
Before she could even catch her breath Arthur tipped her backward, his hand cradling her head as she hit the mattress. She wrapped her legs around him and urged him on with the heel of her foot now that he could thrust into her in earnest.
All his earlier restraint was gone. Amelia felt powerful, like a witch having summoned the wind, to be the cause of it. There was a sheen of sweat across his forehead, and his hair was a wild wreck from where she had run her hands through it. She was counting the flecks of gold and green in his eyes, when he closed them and came with a shuddering groan.
He was here.
Tam clutched at Driver’s shoulders because there was still a part of him that didn’t believe it.
“Tam,” Driver whispered between kisses.
“I know.” He knew, but he didn’t want to think about it. He couldn’t dwell on reality when they were together like this. If he let his worry in, it’d ruin everything. Even if this was a goodbye, Tam wanted to cherish it.
He pressed closer and relished the automatic way Driver’s arms tightened around him. It was a full-body embrace and it calmed some of Tam’s anxiety. Though there was an undercurrent of desperation, they didn’t rush.
Tam savored everything. Each caress was a miracle, each breath a boon.
As long as Driver was with him, the world would wait.
Driver’s lips tasted of cherries and felt like home.
If it weren’tfor the thunderous beating of his heart, Tam might have thought he was dreaming. He’d never had a home before, but he’d always understood what the word meant. Ever since he could remember he’d been homesick for a place he never truly believed existed. Somewhere where he was understood. Where he was protected and his soul was healed and his heart was full. Instinct had guided him since he’d run away. It had brought him a new family in the boys. And now it had given him a place to belong.
Who cared if it was only temporary? For now, it felt right.
It felt like the only thing that mattered.
Driver was all there was.
“Tam.” Driver smoothed his hair as he pressed soft kisses to the corner of his eye, but his voice was tentative. The sound bruised Tam’s heart.
His fingers flexed in Driver’s shirt. Everything in him rebelled against the inevitable. He didn’t want to let the truth in. Squeezing his eyes shut, he rested his forehead on Driver’s chest again. Not once did Driver stop touching him. With long strokes through his hair and the warm circles on his back and even subtle pecks to his temple, Driver devastated him with kindness.
Chest aching, Tam shook his head. “Don’t,” he said.
“I…I’m still going.”
And that was it, the spear that shattered their bubble. Tam trembled from the loss as he gathered the pieces of himself and did his best to put them back together. “Don’t.” Yes, he was begging but he didn’t care.
“I never meant for this—”
Tam reached up and grabbed Driver’s face with both hands, then slammed their mouths together. Only kissing. Only this. He didn’t care that his heart was breaking. If this was the last moment he had with Driver, he wasn’t going to let anything take it away from him. He no longer let the fear stop him. He’d grown past that with Driver’s help. And besides, no one knew the future.
All the darkness in his life had made it possible for him to know the stars. He wasn’t going to let them fade without a fight, especially not when he was holding one of the brightest spots in the palm of his hand.
And hell if it didn’t fill him with determination. He’d still soar. If he quit, they’d win.
“You’re here now,” he said against Driver’s lips. “Don’t go tonight.” Don’t go…ever. But those words wouldn’t cross his lips.
Driver wrapped him up tight, one large palm cupping the back of his head and the other on his ass.
“Not tonight,” he said.
They were kissing again, this time with driving need from the knowledge that it might be their last chance. Importance colored everything, even undressing each other became somber and sincere. They never broke eye contact, they never stopped touching.
When they fell onto the bed in a tangle of limbs and hair, Driver took the brunt of it but immediately rolled. Tam wrapped his legs around Driver’s hips and met every thrust with one of his own. Their cocks slid together between their bellies but it wasn’t enough friction to get him off. Not that he was ready for it to be over so quick. No. He wanted this moment to last forever.
Pinned to the mattress with Driver’s heavy weight above him, Tam felt quick and urgent passion. Passion and a strange yet familiar comfort. With both arms around Driver’s neck and hands fisted in Driver’s thick hair, he was so close he could count the flecks of silver in those gray-blue eyes.
Driver met his gaze and didn’t release it.
Their kisses became more an exchange of breath as Driver’s free hand traveled the length of Tam’s torso. Panting against his lips, Tam arched into every caress. His skin tingled. He wanted more. He wanted it all.
Even as Driver’s strong hands gripped his cock, it wasn’t enough.
“Please,” he said on a gasp. “Driver, please.”
Driver groaned before kissing him deep, their tongues twisted together but not for long. Then Driver was on his knees between Tam’s thighs and both hands were working Tam’s shaft and balls.
Tam’s head slammed back into the pillow and he moaned.
Fuck yes. Fucking hell.
“Beautiful,” Driver said. His voice was so gruff and filled with praise it kindled an answering heat in Tam’s core.
Feet on the bed and thighs spread, Tam lifted his hips into each stroke. Driver’s pleased grunt was all the reward he needed to keep going. Well, that wasn’t really true. He kind of loved the way Driver’s eyes were glued to him too. The way his cheeks were flushed and his lips were swollen, the way his abs tensed and relaxed in unison as if he could feel what Tam felt, and definitely the way his fist tightened on every upstroke like he couldn’t stand to let Tam slip from his grasp.
The heady rush of it all sent Tam flying high until he thought he might rocket into the sun. He was so gone, right on the edge, toes curling into the soft sheets and head thrown back when he felt the unmistakable pressure of a finger on his asshole.
It took all of Tam’s newfound courage not to descend into panic when his entire focus narrowed to that single point of contact. His heart squeezed and his lungs seized, but he didn’t let himself get sucked down. He just grabbed Driver’s wrist.
Driver responded instantly. And even though Tam knew he would, relief still flooded him with a strange euphoria. He collapsed onto the bed and hid his eyes with his arm.
“Sorry, I…I still can’t…” His hands clenched as a sense of failure overwhelmed him.
“No, baby, I shouldn’t have surprised you like that.” Driver rubbed both of Tam’s thighs.
It took Tam a minute, swallowing the lump in his throat before he could speak again.
“I hate them for ruining this.” Tears threatened to leak from the corners of his eyes. He was doing his best to keep still while he fought the disappointment.
Driver moved to cover him again, his body a warm comfort. As were the soft kisses he placed along Tam’s jaw.
“Nothing is ruined.” His hips flexed, drawing Tam’s attention to the erection rubbing against his leg.
“I’m not ready. I can’t.”
Driver took Tam’s arm and moved it away from his face. “That’s okay. I can.”
Tam bit his lip and opened his eyes. Driver looked so earnest and confident it stole Tam’s breath.
Driver leaned down and kissed him. “Make love to me, Tam.”
Never in a million years had Tam ever imagined a man like Driver would want to bottom. Of course, everything he knew about sex was tainted by his experiences. But Driver was so…so…virile. From his sharp features, deep-set eyes, and rough five-o’clock shadow to his sculpted body, tattoos, and I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude—he was a man’s man.
It had been a shock to find out Driver was bisexual, but this?
Tam was having a hard time processing it, which was just another example of his own prejudices.“Really?”
Driver rolled them again so Tam ended up straddling him.
“I told you my motto when it comes to sex, didn’t I?”
Yes, please.Tam blinked.
“I’m a glutton. I’ll take it however I can get it. Sometimes that means bottoming for some super-hot alpha top.” He squeezed Tam’s ass. “I never minded one bit.”
“I’ve never topped before.”
Driver’s eyes hooded and his nostrils flared. “Good.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.” And it always hurt, didn’t it?
“I’ll prep myself real well, precious. It’ll be fine.”
Then he pulled Tam down into a mind-melting kiss that reignited Tam’s desire like a damn nuclear bomb. Just that quick he went hard as a steel stiletto.
What else could he do but trust Driver?
“You keep surprising me,” he said.
“Yeah? Is that good?”
Tam hummed his answer, bringing their mouths together again. So damn good. It was like the best roller coaster ride in history. Or the most perfect dance routine.
“Let me grab a condom. I need you inside me.”
Tam scurried off so Driver could lean over the edge of the bed and dig around inside his jeans. He came back with two small foil packets. He ripped the first one open with his teeth, then squirted the contents onto his fingers. Tam held his breath as Driver brought both knees to his chest and began circling his hole with the newly lubed fingers. His ass and hole were mouth-wateringly smooth, but his balls were surrounded by a soft patch of pubes. Tam squeezed his own cock, eyes glued to the delectable sight as Driver breached himself with one finger.
“Oh my God.” Tam felt the tug deep down in his core.
Driver winked at him, completely shameless, and twisted the finger buried inside. “You like that?”
Driver was Adonis or some other god of temptation put on the earth just to torture him. How had he lived his entire life without knowing this kind of pleasure? If he let himself, he could come just from watching. But wouldn’t that be a tragedy? Never knowing what it felt like to be inside Driver?
Tam wasn’t going to give up his one and only chance. He scooted closer and caressed Driver’s skin, needing to touch somehow but still too nervous to do anything more. Soon Driver was fitting another long finger beside the first. He hissed as he scissored them.
“I haven’t done this in a while.”
“Stop if it hurts.”
Driver’s chuckle was warm. “I love the way it hurts. I forgot how good it feels.”
That hit Tam hard because it went against everything he’d ever known, but Driver wasn’t lying. His cock twitched every time he stretched himself. Tam’s skin burned and his limbs were heavy from desire. Everything Driver did overwhelmed him until his every nerve ached. Needing to participate in Driver’s pleasure in whatever way he could, Tam leaned forward and took Driver into his mouth.
“Holy fuck!” Driver thrust up, making Tam cough. “Shit, sorry.”
Tam hummed around Driver’s cock. His heart tap-danced and his blood sang, but damn it tasted good. He flicked his tongue around the head, learning every inch of Driver’s impressive length. Salt burst over his tastebuds, and he drank it up. He’d never had much of a sweet tooth, but salty snacks were his weakness.
And Driver was the best treat he’d ever tried.
“Fuck, baby. Stop or I’ll come.” Driver tapped Tam’s shoulder with his free hand. “Here.” He tossed the second foil packet at Tam. “Suit up, quick.”
With trembling fingers, Tam struggled to open the condom wrapper. He’d never done it before and it was strange. Jesus, he was nervous. What if he totally fucked this up? He flicked a glance up through his hair to find Driver waiting for him, calm and relaxed with three fingers now buried in his hole.
Tam sucked in a breath. He could do this. He could make this good, for Driver. For both of them.
He gathered the tattered remains of his confidence around himself like a brand new outfit full of glitter and gorgeousness and rolled the condom onto his shaft. As he moved into position, Driver removed his fingers and guided Tam to the target.
“Nice and slow until I adjust.”
Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit.
He was about to fuck Driver. Tam’s entire body trembled as he pushed against Driver’s tight star. He held his breath until he broke through and then he gasped. Fucking hell, it was scorching hot inside. Goddamn. He wasn’t going to make it. Sweat poured off him as he struggled to keep cool. Then Driver’s fingers clawed at his ass.
“That’s it. Take me.”
And Tam was a goner. He thrust the rest of the way inside with a loud groan and then held himself still above Driver with shaky arms. Driver smiled up at him, his eyes glassy and hooded. His grin was lopsided and kind of goofy. Damn if he didn’t already look satisfied. Tam’s inhale was unsteady, but the complete trust Driver gave him was powerful. It released him.
It made him strong enough to fight the shame that plagued him.
It made him invincible.
Driver circled his arms around Tam’s shoulders and tugged him down into a kiss, urging him to move with the grip on his ass.
He thrust and thrust and thrust until they were both gasping. With every inch, his head spun and his heart yearned.
He was burrowing into the core of Driver, finding a place inside to live forever.
When he reached out his hand, Driver’s was there to hold. Their fingers twined together, their tongues tangled, and their bodies joined.
It was everything Tam had never been brave enough to imagine.
The dream he’d never dreamed because it would cut too deeply when it didn’t come true.
So what if it was just once?
He would have his memory for the rest of his life.