And maybe the day, too. Although she didn’t want to think like that.

Everything was so good in this moment. She wanted to stay here forever.

“Faster,” she whispered close to his mouth.

The purr that came up his throat made her vibrate inside her own skin, and she touched his chest… his arm, which was carved with contracted muscles… his stomach, which had deep cuts under his skin. As her hand moved downward, he arched up to her touch, his hips undulating, his hand pausing.

“I want to help you,” she said.

Trez dropped the hold on his cock like the thing had burned his palm. “Take over. Do anything you want to me—”

“I will.” She smiled as she pushed herself up, her heavy breasts swinging as she repositioned herself on all fours.

Putting her hand over the one he’d removed, she returned his grip to his shaft, and worked things up and down by guiding his wrist. “That’s it. Good male.”

Trez seemed momentarily disappointed that he was back to self-propulsion, so to speak. But she knew what she was doing.

Well… actually, she’d never done anything like what was about to happen before. But with him? With her shadow lover made flesh? She was uninhibited in ways she not only had never been, but also could never have guessed she could be.

“Keep going,” she whispered, “my lover.”

When he groaned and arched again, his magnificent body so aroused, so powerful in the firelight, she planted one set of hands/feet on the far side of his thighs.

Then she leaned down, bringing her face close to the tip of his erection.

“I want you to finish…” she said in a husky voice.

As his eyes flared wide and flashed with a mysterious peridot light, she opened her mouth.

You know, just so he was clear what she wanted.

* * *

Trez lost it. Totally fucking ripped-to-the-core, out-of-his-mind, batshit lost it.

The orgasm shot out of him and went into his female, and the sight of where it ended up was so erotic, his lids slammed down. Which was exactly what he did not want. He wanted to watch, he wanted to see—

“Oh, fuck!” he shouted as his lids popped open again.

The wet, hot hold that slid onto the tip of his arousal meant one and only one thing—yes, oh, God, yes, she was swallowing him down, her lips stretching to accommodate his size, her eyes glowing as they looked up his body into his own. He could have watched her forever, but the pleasure was too great, the eroticism too much, the connection too close—and considering that there was a possibility both of his eyeballs were going to explode out of their sockets and scare the shit out of her, it was probably best that he caged his peepers.

Squeezing his lids shut, he growled, he bucked, he was coming again—into her mouth, her hand working him, his balls kicking out part of him into her with ever increasing cycles. Tighter, faster, draining him—

Before there was nothing left, he sprung into action, rolling her over, and pushing his way in between her legs with his hips.

“I’m sorry,” he grunted.

“For what?”

As she smiled, he took her mouth with his own and he penetrated deep into her sex. “I don’t know.”

That was the last thing they said for a while. He meant to go slow, go easy, take his time. He couldn’t. His body took over and he pounded into her, his thrusts so powerful, he pushed her along with the rug, the two of them moving across the floor.

He fucked her all the way into the corner, wedging them into the shelves.

Which had its benefits.

Throwing out a hand, he knocked books from their lineup, scattering them down his arm. They landed with a bounce, flipping open, pages asunder, as he braced himself and fucked her ever harder.

“Yes,” his female gritted as she torqued under him.

Abruptly, he scented blood, his own, not hers—or he would have stopped and worried that he’d hurt her. But no, she had gouged his back with her short nails, and he hadn’t noticed.

He was glad she did. He wanted her to mark him up, give him wounds, make him her own in any way she wanted.

“Harder,” she demanded.

Grabbing onto the vertical of a shelf, he really put the small of his back into it, shoving one of his knees up, cranking her leg into a different position, tilting her pelvis into a cradle he could dig in deep, dig in all the way to his base, dig… into his soul.

Their sexes slapped together. Sweat beaded his face, got into his eyes. A sound ripped out of his chest.

Trez kept going—

Until he abruptly lost his rhythm for some unknown reason. After which, without warning… he lost the pleasure, too.

That wasn’t sweat in his eyes.

It was tears.


Therese was so into the sex, so blown away, so lost to her own orgasms, that her body was reduced and elevated by turns, her flesh converted into an electrical system on an overload that seemed to make it stronger rather than weaker. And on Trez’s side, he seemed to have stamina to spare, his releases ongoing, never-ending; the more she demanded of him, the more he gave her.

Except then it all changed.

At first, there was a swerve as he lost his thrusts. Then there was a curve as he started to slow. Finally, there was a stop dead.

Just as she was opening her eyes, something hit her cheeks—and with sight came hearing. There was a sound coming from him, out of him.

Not of pleasure, but of pain.

Above her, Trez’s features were twisted in agony, tears rolling out of him, agony seeming to lance through him sure as if he were being stabbed.

Scared for him, she gripped his upper arms. “Trez?”

With a horrible sound, he pushed himself off her, landing in a heap, in a sprawl. He was coughing, choking, and as he crawled away on all fours, he didn’t seem to have any idea where he was or where he was going. He was a mortally injured animal, dragging what was left of its life force to a place to die—and he did collapse. Not far from where they had been, he fell to the floor and curled in a ball, tucking his knees to his chest, his arms holding them in tight.

He was a grown male who rocked himself like a child.

“Trez,” she said as she went to him. “What’s going on?”

When she touched his shoulder, he flinched. But he opened his bloodshot, tragic eyes.

“Come here,” she whispered. “Let me hold you.”

She didn’t know if he would let her, but he didn’t resist as she gathered him up. There was so much of him that she couldn’t possibly get her arms around all of him—so she held on to what she could. Cradling him, she closed her eyes and took his suffering into herself.

She had no idea what the cause was. But as he trembled against her, the only thing that went through her mind was that she wasn’t leaving him. Ever. She was going to stand by him, wherever this took either of them. Because this kind of pain?

There was a terrible loss behind it.

She knew this because she had felt echoes of the same grief herself. She also knew that this was the kind of thing you kept hidden from everyone around you—kept hidden, most of the time, even from yourself. It was the sort of loss that changed the color of the night sky, and the feel of the ground beneath your feet, and the scents that entered your nose. This was new-life pain.

As in, you were living one way, and then…

Everything changed. You changed. The world changed.

And it was never the same again.

“It’s okay,” she whispered as her own eyes teared up. “I’ve got you… and I’m not letting go…”

Sometime later—it could have been hours—she felt him still. And as he drew in a ragged breath, she felt its exhale on her shoulder, and the sudden stillness of him scared her more than the weeping had. She wasn’t sure what would come in this aftermath.

“I need…” His voice was nothing more than a rasp. “Bathroom.”

“Okay, yeah, of course.”

Releasing her hold, she moved herself out of his way as he dragged himself up off the carpet, dropped his head and stumbled out of sight. When the door closed, she wasn’t surprised.

The sound of water was expected. She imagined him splashing his face with something cool, and staring at himself in the mirror as he tried to get regrounded in the present. She knew what that was like. How you got sucked back into the past, against your will, revisiting scenes you wanted to avoid. How once the past got a stranglehold on you, it was like an anchor with grasping hands, dragging you down, down, down, until you couldn’t breathe and you didn’t know where the surface was anymore.

As a shiver went through her, she didn’t know whether it was from her own emotions or the fact that she was naked and the fire was nothing but embers now. Reaching over, she pulled the fur throw rug around her shoulders and stared at the gray ash beneath what was left of the logs that had burned so brightly. Now, there was nearly nothing left of the hardwood, the bodies eaten away, the small, twisted cores hanging together out of habit rather than structure.

Her eyes were still on the last of the fire when the bathroom door reopened.

She turned around quick.

Trez had tied a towel around his waist, and there was a gloss to his face as if he had indeed splashed himself with water. His eyes were still bloodshot. And they still would not meet her own.

As he stood in that doorway, he stared off into space as if waiting for some kind of cue.

“Tell me about her,” Therese said softly.

* * *

Trez heard the words spoken to him from far, far away, and he looked to the sound. The sight of his female, there, on the floor, the soft white throw rug wrapped around her bare shoulders, her lovely dark hair tangled and curled around her, took a moment to sink in

In the bathroom, braced over the sink after he had washed his face with cold water, he had hung his head and debated whether or not he was going to throw up. Then he had briefly glanced over at the window she had used so well earlier, and wondered if following her example might not be a good idea.

It certainly seemed easier than explaining himself.