Hi again.

And this is part 2.

A big thank you to all the wonderful people who’ve been filling my inbox with mails, asking me to put out the next part and everything else. You people are truely wonderful. Thank you.

There are so many people I want to thank, but at the moment, I just can’t remember the names. However, a big, big thank you to Sarah, Steph, Tony (my grasshopper! And really. Y’all should go read the fabulous “Maze of Moments”. Really. Go after you’ve read mine) and of course, my own, *always* important Val-loonie (schweetie! I don’t mail or talk enough to you. I suck.) for the look through. And to Barry for the all-mighty beta, cleaning up my messy words and making them into something readable. ::kisses::

Lastly, this chapter is dedicated to Brian, who not only gave me the title for this chapter, but kept me sane and amused with hours of meaningful late, late, late night chit-chat, video discussion and so much more. So we’re obsessed ::winkwink::, who cares? You’ve saved me from self-destructing more times than I care to admit and I’m eternally grateful for that. Canadian Lance. I’m dancing. This is for you, mindtwin. Enjoy.

The song used in this chapter, is “Yes It Is” by the Beatles. It can be found on “Past Masters Vol 1”. Like everything they wrote, it’s a Lennon/McCartney penned song.

Um, shameless hussying here: New installments of MSR are always on my site ahead of time: Sweetheart Stories. And mail! Send me mail! sweetheart_stories@hotmail.com. Please? Thanks.

Disclaimer: So unreal it’s not even funny, though I do wonder about how close I am to the made-up characters in here. I don’t know Lance. Really. I don’t. Be of age to read this (18 or 21--you know if you shouldn’t be).

My Surprise Romance
People Change
Chapter 53
Strangers in Familar Places - Part 2
©2001 Gabriella Morrison

During the next few hours, I wasn’t sitting at a studio table, being creative and sloshing watercolors around on heavy paper. Nor was I in an uncomfortably hot, crowded classroom, listening to some teacher drone on about Paul Klee and Jackson Pollack in her Charlie Brown-esque wah wah wah voice, while I sat there and daydreamed about kissing Lance.

Instead, I found myself driving around downtown Ridgemont, trying to clear my head. My newspaper bag sat on the passenger seat next to me, and every time I looked over, I saw that stupid manila envelope peeking at me from under the flap.

My mind started playing tricks on me. When I came to a red light, I swore I saw Marianne walking out of a coffee shop. And then I saw a spiky-haired blond walking out of a delicatessen, and immediately my mind thought, ‘Lance!’

Drumming my fingertips against the steering wheel, I sighed a few times, rolling down the window to breathe in some fresh air.

I had no clue where I was headed, and that was fine with me. This wasn’t the first time I had driven around Ridgemont, wondering where my next destination would be. In fact, blind driving was rather peaceful. The radio was barely audible, and the lunch-hour traffic was beginning to thin out.

I drove up and down the half-empty roads and boulevards, lost in my thoughts, while maneuvering my beat-up car around town.

Part of my brain insisted I head back to my apartment. To where Lance was waiting for me. I guess I could have done that, but you know, I still didn’t want to.

The image of my boyfriend lying naked in my big, unmade bed sent shivers up and down my spine. Reaching a red light, I closed my eyes, and my mind reeled back to that morning, when he had flashed me. I choked and nearly took my foot off the brake. ‘Jesus,’ I thought as my car edged forward. ‘Gotta stop thinking about that, Peterson. Gotta stop.’

Looking at the time, I saw that it was one forty-five. Lance was expecting me back home around six-thirty or so.

That meant I had almost five hours to get my tangled thoughts in order.

And suddenly, I rounded a corner and my eyes fell on a big, wooden sign, and its hand-painted letters made something in my heart snap.

"Mountain Park," the sign read. That place was one of the highlights of my childhood. My father used to take me there when I was a child. We would walk along the paths in the park, looking at Mountain Falls and watching the water rush down the creek beds. While I would stare at the water and feed the ducks, my father would take photographs of me. Black and white, mostly.

Photography had been his main hobby. He did that avidly, for kicks, taking pictures here and there, whenever the mood moved him. I don’t have a firm grasp on many memories of my father, but what I do remember still makes me smile.

I’m willing to bet any amount of money that my love of art came from him. One of the things he passed down to me. And I’m thankful, of course. I just wish he were here today to see what I’ve become. I think he would have been proud.

And so I turned into Mountain Park, put the car into park, and then cut the engine. My ears were filled with the sound of water tumbling over the rocks and down the stream.

My mind began to flip through the events of the morning.

I get up. Lance acts goofy-sweet and I never want to leave him. I do, of course, but only because I feel I have to play the role of the (stupid) good student.

Then, I get an offer that knocks me flat on my ass (figuratively, of course). An internship at a prestigious English art school. Holy moley. You don’t get that kind of offer every day.

And then, as though that weren’t enough, I suddenly blurt out my true sexuality to Marianne and she gets mad at me. After three years, I finally out myself to her and she huffs off, making me extremely paranoid. I was positive she was going to tell every person in the art department that she had been hanging out with a fag for the past three years.


This day was neither what I had wanted nor what I had expected when I got out of bed this morning. I just wanted to attend my classes so that I wouldn’t be thrown out of them, not to get myself into an even deeper mess.

Sighing, I rested my forehead against the steering wheel, trying to think through the tangle of problems that were building up in my life. To be honest with you, I was thrilled at the idea of heading over to England after graduation. There was no doubt about that. I had always wanted to travel after I graduated from college, experiencing life and hopefully advancing my art career at the same time.

But then I met Lance. Lance never had fit into the after-college plans, because I had never expected to meet him. Hell, a romance had never fit into the plans, because for some reason, I had always felt asexual (even though I knew I was gay, I had just never found the right person to be attracted to) until I met Lance.

Caught up in my problems, I let out such a loud sigh that the sound of it made the birds escape their homes in the trees, squawking as they flapped their wings to get away from me.

Even the birds didn’t want to be around me. Wonderful.

Still in my car, I held onto the steering wheel and just stared at the colorful leaves that fell from the trees. There were a couple of green leaves still on the branches. Their brightness stood out from the warm colored leaves that surrounded them. I smiled as I realized that the green was reminiscent of Lance’s eyes. And suddenly I was reminded of all the times that I would lie in bed, holding him and staring into his eyes.…

I was suddenly faced with a decision: Either to advance my career and accept the offer to go to England, or to refuse it and stay with Lance.

No matter which option I chose, something would suffer. My art or my love life, one of the two. I had to make a choice. I had to. And either way, something or someone would get hurt.

Reaching over to the glove compartment, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. To my surprise, I looked perfectly untouched by this sudden surprise in my life. I’m not sure how I expected myself to look. Panicked? Worried, maybe? Nope, I just looked like Stephen Peterson, the same person I had been when I looked into the bathroom mirror that morning.

My fingers fumbled with the lock on the glove compartment, and when I finally got it open, the half-full pack of cigarettes that I kept hidden in there conveniently tumbled into the palm of my hand. I slammed the door shut and within seconds I had lit up, falling into my old patterns of high- school smoking like I had never quit.

Two words floated around in my head: Lance or England. England or Lance. Make a decision, Peterson. You gotta choose one or the other.

Granted, I didn’t have to decide until March. Hell, Lance and I might break up by March, but unless something major happened, I doubted that possibility.

And so I’d have to decide between them. Either my Lance or my future.


That was the right decision. Right?

I stayed in the park until the sun dropped behind the trees, causing me to shiver slightly in my thin t-shirt, smoking the rest of the cigarettes in that pack and wishing I had more. I had walked around the park, stopping at the small duck pond, watching the animals swim around lazily in the dirty water. I didn’t want to go home--not yet. I had so much on my mind, I needed to be alone.

I could practically hear Lance’s voice when I told him about my offer:

‘Stephen, go. You have to go. This is a big step. You’re so talented and creative...I’m not going to hold you back from this.’

And all the while, tears would be shining in his eyes, breaking both of our hearts. And then we would cry together, hold on to each other and most likely have sex. The latter was a given. Every time I got close enough to hold Lance, we would have sex.

I couldn’t help but smile at that last thought.

But I wouldn’t go. I would tell Professor Bell whenever I saw him next that there was no possible way for me to go to England. It would hurt to say that, because in my heart, I really wanted to say yes. I wanted to take slides of my work and ship them overseas, so the heads of the Institute could look at them. Even if they rejected me, I would have tried. Not just thrown away ‘the offer’ (as I had dubbed it) and settled into Lance’s arms.

After all, Lance never gave up his life for me. I had gone on tour all summer with him. He had gone to Japan a few weeks before. He was still a member of *NSYNC. And after this break, he was still planning to go back on tour.

He had wanted to quit, though. He had wanted to quit the band a few times since we’d been together, and every time he mentioned it to me, I wanted to smack Lance upside the head.

Clearly, I was facing a catch-22 situation here. I didn’t know what to do.

The automatic night sensors turned on the park lights, even though it was only dusk and not completely pitch black out. I took a seat on a cold metal bench and wrapped my arms protectively around me, trying to keep warm. I looked out at the black pond in front of me.

I didn’t know what to do. I thought I had known the answer, but now...now I wasn’t so sure. There was only one thing I was sure of.

I wasn’t going to tell Lance about the offer. I would just pretend that it had never happened.

Driving back to my apartment, I still felt the weight of the day’s problems resting heavily on my shoulders. But I had to go home sometime. And besides, I wanted to see Lance again. I missed him. After all, he was my boyfriend, and while the idea of keeping a secret as big as this one made me uncomfortable, I knew it was for the best. I didn’t want to drag him into my world of decisions for the future, and after reassuring myself countless times, I knew what I was doing was the best for both of us.

Just keep your lips shut, Peterson, I told myself. The words London, England, don t even exist in your vocabulary.

I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex around 6:45, timing it perfectly, almost as though my art seminar class had just ended and I had headed straight home.

After I had parked my car and gotten out, I looked up at my window and saw the curtains part ever so slightly. It was too dark for me to make out a face, but I could see the spiky hair and broad- shouldered figure silhouetted against the curtains. Lance. He had been waiting for me.

The figure disappeared from the window, and all that remained was the slight swaying of the curtains. I felt something in my heart twist--guilt, perhaps--knowing that Lance had been waiting for me, while I had been avoiding him all afternoon.

But I needed to be alone, I reassured myself, repeating it like a mantra in my mind. I needed to be alone.

I made my way up the cracked stone steps and into the building, the door swinging shut behind me. The sound of my footsteps heading up the staircase echoed through the narrow, empty hallway. Everything that surrounded me seemed so bleak and colorless and blah. And I looked up, and suddenly, I just wanted to see Lance. I wanted to look into his eyes and run my hands through his hair and just touch his skin. I wanted--no, needed--to feel his body next to mine.

So I sprinted up the stairs, not sure what had come over me. I had gone from not wanting to see Lance, to desperately needing him. The sound of my footsteps pounded through the hallway as I raced to my apartment. Hurriedly, I fumbled through my pockets, frantically searching for the key that would unlock the door. Touching the cool metal object, all I could think was, Success! Then I pushed open the door.

Holy moley,’ I thought as my jaw dropped clear to the floor. The newspaper bag slid off my shoulder, landing on the floor with a loud thump.

There were candles. Lots of candles. And they were scattered all around the living room, casting a soft, warm light that made my apartment glow.

“Lance?” I managed to utter, my voice emerging in a barely audible whisper. “Lance?”

“Right here.”

Turning to the right, I saw Lance standing there, partially secluded behind the door. A shy smile lingered on his lips, and a mysterious twinkle lurked in his eyes. He stepped forward and quietly shut the door. I watched as he locked up, sliding the chain lock and locking the numerous deadbolts before turning back to me.


“You like?” The shy smile turned into a grin as he moved closer. “‘Cause I wanted to surprise you and stuff.…” Leaning forward, Lance nuzzled the soft flesh of my cheek before pulling away and looking at me with suspicious eyes.

“You’ve been smoking?”

I blushed under Lance’s scrutinizing gaze. “Uh...yeah...” I couldn’t lie about *that* to Lance. After all, even I could smell the lingering nicotine on me. It was embedded in the fabric of my shirt. It was in every strand of my hair. I couldn’t hide something that obvious.

Judging from the slightly displeased look on his face, I expected Lance to sit me down and lecture me on the evils of smoking. But he didn’t. Instead, he gave me a shy smile, replacing the suspicious look on his face. He leaned forward once more and trailed his lips across my cheek.

“It smells kinda sexy on you,” Lance chuckled, his voice sounding low and seductive. “I never thought I’d be saying that, but on you, it does.” With that, he gently kissed me, right next to my lips. He grabbed for my hand and wrapped his fingers around my own.

“You know...” Lance trailed off as he kicked my newspaper bag off to the side, so that he wouldn’t trip over it. “I wanted to celebrate a little, since, you know...” He smiled shyly at me. “...we are going to spend a whole week together, Stephen.” Leaning forward, Lance gave me another seductive smile, before placing another chaste kiss on my cheek. “And I wanted to start the week off on the right foot.” He paused for a second, looking down at his feet, which made both of us giggle. Trust Lance to be so literal, especially at a time like this. I giggled once more when I saw he was wearing a pair of black flip-flops. But before I could comment on his choice of footwear, Lance looked up at me, his green eyes innocent.

“Plus, being cooped up here...all alone...it can get pretty boring.” We laughed again, and before I could say anything, Lance dropped my hand, slid his palms up my arms, cupped my face and brought me in for a kiss.

As our lips touched, I felt the weight on my shoulders lighten. At that moment, nothing else mattered, except for the fact that Lance and I were kissing and the way his arms felt wrapped around my neck. His knee began to gently nudge my groin, rubbing up against the slight bulge that was hidden there.

“Lance...” I murmured his name into the kiss, unable to control my body’s reaction. “Lance...”


“You’re killing me here...”

He broke away from our kiss, smiling devilishly as he stared into my eyes. He blinked once, and I noticed that there was nothing but mischief lurking in the depths of those jade pools.

“I know.” I was rendered speechless as Lance snugly slid his hands into mine and began leading me into the kitchen.

“It’s time to eat,” he said, his words light and tinged with laughter. Somehow, that simple phrase managed to turn me on more, making the short walk into the kitchen quite difficult. “You like to eat, don’t you, Stephen?”

My heart began to race. “Depends on what we’re eating,” I managed to answer, raising an eyebrow as suggestively as I could. A smile flickered across his lips and a lustful look filled his eyes.

“Take a seat,” Lance ordered, smiling as he pushed me into a chair. “The food is in the kitchen. I’ll be back.” He turned away and headed into the kitchen. Naturally, my eyes couldn’t help but zoom in on Lance below the waist as he retreated. He was wearing khaki pants that fit snugly across the hips, accentuating the perfect roundness of his ass.

I felt the all-too-familiar stirring below my own belt. Suddenly, dinner seemed trivial, and the only thing I wanted to sink my teeth into was now playing the role of Martha Stewart.

I fought off the urge to run into the kitchen and jump Lance. Instead, I turned my attention to the elegantly set table in front of me, which caused my jaw to drop open for the second time that night.

He had gone all out. And he must have gone houseware shopping, because when I had left for school that morning, I certainly didn’t own fancy, gold-rimmed wine glasses or cloth napkins or gold-plated napkin holders.

And in the center of it all sat two long, tapered candlesticks. They were unlit, sitting in expensive-looking holders that matched the napkin rings and wine glasses. As I sat there, gawking at the fancy setup, Lance emerged from the kitchen with a large, rumpled paper bag in his hands.

“Italian,” Lance quipped as he set the bag on the table. “I can’t cook, Stephen. And if I had tried to, you...” He began to giggle, playing with the paper bag as he looked at me. “You wouldn’t have an apartment right now, let me tell you. You’d have a fire. Or food poisoning.”

Instead of laughing at Lance’s joke, I chose to stare at him. I was enthralled with the way the glow of the candles enhanced his handsome features. The gentle glow seemed to light up his eyes, and the shadows flickered across his body. I just couldn’t control myself any longer.

Grinning, I reached out, hooked my arm around his waist, and neatly pulled him into my lap.

“Stephen,” Lance protested, confusion in his eyes. “What about dinner? I went out special for this.” He made a sweeping motion with his hand, indicating the spread on the table. “What are you--?”

I never let him finish his sentence. Instead, I reached up and ran my fingers through his hair. Watching me with curious eyes, Lance smiled as I traced over his eyebrows, down the narrow bridge of his nose, and then around his lips. Touching Lance was like playing a game of cause and effect. I would place my fingertip to his skin, and my heart would beat like a drum. My blood began to race through my veins, centering on that spot below my waist. I was about to trace a path down his chest when Lance leaned over and pressed his lips to my own.

The kiss was warm. Sweet. It was a Lance kiss--familiar and exciting and hot all wrapped up into one. I had wanted *that* all day. Even in the park, when I had wanted to be alone, all I wanted to do was kiss Lance. I closed my eyes as his lips parted, and my tongue slipped in. His lips were so soft...so warm...I began searching his mouth with an almost frantic, lustful passion, trying to convey my feelings. And while I did this, Lance found his way underneath my shirt and began pulling the material up until cool air hit my skin, only to have it replaced with the feeling of his hands stroking my back.

Our kisses grew more and more passionate and his hands were everywhere on my body. He moved to the front of my shirt, where his fingers began to fumble with the buttons. Placing kisses on my chin, Lance was unbuttoning my shirt, marking my chest with kisses when...

My stomach rumbled. Loudly.

But we ignored it at first, continuing with our passionate kisses. Staring at me with fire in his eyes, Lance finished unbuttoning my shirt, bending his head to place kisses along my breastbone. He was about to push the thin material off my shoulders, when my stomach chose *that* moment to rumble once more.

I had to admit--I was starving. I hadn’t eaten all day. But food paled in comparison, when Lance was standing in front of me, running his tongue over his lips. I forced myself not to look at the bulge in the front of his pants.

I wanted him. I really, really wanted to throw him to the ground right then and there. And I would have, if Lance hadn’t pulled away from me, giving me a caring smile as he did so.

“Stephen,” Lance whispered as he ran his hands down the front of my bare chest. “I can’t concentrate with that noise.” And as though that were its cue, my stomach rumbled loudly once more, which caused both of us to groan.

“I’m ruining the mood,” I sighed, pushing Lance off my lap. “I haven’t eaten all day, y’know.”

Running a hand through his hair, I noticed the look of frustration that appeared in Lance’s eyes. And although he did his best to give me a reassuring smile, I watched as Lance turned away, adjusting himself as he disappeared into the darkness of my kitchen.

I frowned, looking down at my stomach. ‘Stupid,’ I reprimanded it, even though I knew it couldn’t answer back. I was more than upset. I was horny. Really horny.

I watched as Lance re-emerged from the kitchen, open wine bottle in hand, and a thin smile on his lips. I knew he wasn’t happy. Hell, I wasn’t happy.

“We can eat,” Lance said after a few seconds of silence passed between us. “We can eat dinner.” He poured us two glasses of wine before reaching for the paper bag that sat on the table. He opened it and pulled out two take-out containers of Italian food. He did this without uttering a single word. I thought Lance was angry with me. I almost expected him to throw the container at me, grab his glass of wine, and then storm off into the living room.

But he didn’t do that. Instead, Lance reached out and playfully tickled me under my chin.

“Eat first,” Lance whispered as he grinned at me. “You eat first, Stephen, and then we can get to...” Tracing my jaw line, he raised an eyebrow at me. “You know what comes after dinner?”

“Dessert?” I squeaked out, mesmerized by the way his eyes twinkled whenever he spoke.

“Yup,” Lance nodded enthusiastically. “Dessert, baby.” He began to hum under his breath, opening up the containers and setting one of them in front of me. Looking back at me, Lance took one look at the dumbfounded expression on my face and began to laugh.

“What’s with you, Stephen? You looked shocked...”

“I thought you were...mad...at me,” I managed to stammer, fingering the silverware that sat on the table. “Because...”

“Because you were hungry?” Lance finished, his words light and filled with laughter as he fell into my lap once more. “Hey, you gotta eat. I don’t want you passing out on me later tonight, Stephen.” He arched one of his eyebrows at me in a rather seductive fashion. “I got some plans for us.” And he finished off his sentence by placing a sloppy, wet kiss on my cheek.

“Got something planned?” I asked dumbly, which only caused Lance to laugh some more.

“Oh boy,” Lance sighed, pulling himself out of my lap and ambling over to his chair beside me. “I’d love to tell you, but...that’s for me to know, and for you to find out, Stephen.” His words were mysterious, his voice was low, and as he spoke those words, he winked at me.

My throat went dry at the provocative tone of his voice, and I could barely concentrate on sitting still, much less eating the food that sat in front of me. I stared at Lance for a few more seconds, hoping that he would say something else, or at least kiss me or touch me or something. But he didn’t. And suddenly, I was wishing that dessert were the meal that came before dinner.

After our Italian dinner, Lance and I headed into the living room, where he began to explain the events of his day.

“I went to this houseware store...it’s just down the block,” Lance recalled as he grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the futon. “And I walked in there with my hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses still on, and I thought that the ladies behind the counter were going to have a heart attack or something.” Pausing thoughtfully, Lance twisted his face up into an adorable expression while he stretched his body out. “I guess they thought I was going to rob them or something. I mean...I wasn’t,” he added, grinning as he rested his head in my lap.

We laughed at that for a few seconds, falling into silence. Looking down at my boyfriend, I slowly began running my fingers through his hair, which caused a blissful smile to appear on his face.

“Mmmm,” Lance purred, closing his eyes as my fingers continued to massage his scalp. “That feels so good, Stephen...”

“So that’s where you got everything, huh? All the glasses and napkins and candles...” I asked, as I peered into his eyes. As he nodded in agreement, I noticed the way the back of his head gently rubbed against my crotch. Once again, my heart started to pound, and all the blood in my body raced to where Lance’s head was resting.

“Uh-huh,” Lance murmured, as he continued to nod his head in earnest, agitating me further into arousal. “And then the nice women who worked there directed me to this little Italian diner. That’s where I got our food.” He grinned at me again. “We should go there sometime.”

“Yeah,” I said faintly, trying to hold back the heavy breathing. “We should.”

“Mmmmm,” Lance murmured again, a pleased expression on his face. “You’re such a good pillow, Stephen...soft...” He grinned devilishly at me. “But now you’re kinda...hard.” And in the blink of an eye, Lance immediately switched the subject, enjoying the look of torture on my face.

“So, Stephen...how was school today?”

At the mention of school, my entire body stiffened--and not in the way I wanted it to. School. Jesus... Lance and I had spent all that time shooting the shit over dinner, and now he decides to bring up school? Was he insane? Did he think talking about my education would turn me on? Wrong. In fact, the inquiry about school worked as though it were a cold shower.

I swallowed a few times, trying to settle the uneasiness in my stomach. Part of me wanted to smack Lance in the face. And the other part of me wanted to break down and tell Lance everything. Maybe I would have felt better. But for some reason, I just gritted my teeth, gave Lance a fake smile, and flat out lied.

“It was okay,” I finally answered, my chest tight as my lips barely moved. I was hoping the candlelight would mask the look of discomfort on my face, but of course, it didn’t.

“Okay?” Lance asked curiously as he propped himself on his elbows. “You don’t look okay about it.”

“I’m fine,” I repeated, my voice firm. “I’m just...stressed.”


Stressed.” I gave him a weak smile. “Lots of homework. Behind in my projects. So, um, if you don’t mind, I would rather not talk about school right now.”

Lance held my gaze, searching...almost as though he knew I was lying. And then he smiled--it was a hesitant smile.

“Okay,” he said carefully. “I won’t. Wouldn’t want to ruin our plans for tonight, Stephen.”

And with that, Lance pulled himself up, stood up and stretched out his arms. Since his back was facing me, I felt slightly like a Peeping Tom, watching the way his back muscles strained against the silky material of his shirt. Forgetting about school, I couldn’t help but stare at my boyfriend in awe. Flickers of candlelight danced off his broad frame, and my breath caught in my throat. My eyes traveled down his broad back, along the planes of casually rumpled material, and then fell on his ass. God, he looked good in those pants.

Obviously Lance knew what all this stretching was doing to me, because he craned his neck back and flashed me a seductive smile, all pearly white teeth and half-lidded eyes.

“You like?” he asked coyly. When I answered with an overenthusiastic nod, Lance could only laugh. I thought that Lance was going to fall back into my arms, but to my surprise, he didn’t. Instead, I watched my boyfriend walk away from where I was sitting, and stroll over to my worktable. The stack of CDs that sat among the mess there must have caught his eye, because he began quietly shuffling through the jewel cases sitting there.

Watching Lance’s face as he examined each CD was interesting, to say the least. It was funny to see the confused expression that would appear every time he came to an artist he didn’t recognize. Or to see the pleased smile that would stretch from ear to ear when he did recognize something.

“You’ve got weird taste in music, Stephen...” Lance concluded as he placed the final CD back in the stack. “Like, it’s not normal to--”

“What?” I teased Lance from my seat on the futon. “What’s not normal, Bass?”

“Like, so much crossover.” He shook his head, made a tsk-tsk sound with his tongue, and then held up one of the more obscure indie CDs that I owned. “You have stuff here that I’ve never heard of--” And then he picked up another stack of CDs. “--And then you have the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello and good stuff like that. Classics.”

“Yeah, well, I m multi-cultured--or whatever,” I shrugged, before giving him a sly grin. “I’m just embarrassed that I don’t have any of your stuff over there.”

Lance stared at me with perfect seriousness, before finally catching my joke. “Do you need copies of our CDs?” Lance laughed. “I mean, I’m sure I can get ‘em for you...if you really want them...”

“Thanks, Lance...but, y’know...I still have an autographed copy of No Strings Attached. Remember?” I asked pointedly, thinking back to all those months ago, when Lance and I had first been introduced. “The night we met? You autographed one of your CDs for me?”

“Oh, yeah!” Lance tipped his head back, laughing at the memory. “I completely forgot about that free CD...did I win you over with that, or what?”

“Uh-huh.” I rolled my eyes, wishing that Lance would come back over to the futon already. “Won me over like you wouldn’t believe. I couldn’t get you out of my head for days,” I sighed wistfully, playing with the hem of my pant leg as I spoke. I couldn’t help but think back to the night when Lance came back to my house, had a cup of coffee with me, and then asked if I would do something with him the next day. My mind slowly turned into mush as I thought about our first kiss...

“Stephen?” I looked up at Lance, who was staring at me with a bemused smile on his face. Obviously, from the look on his face, he had been calling my name for quite some time already. I hadn’t noticed.


“Mind if I put this on?”

Squinting in the dark, I tried to make out the CD that Lance was holding up, but to no avail. So I nodded in agreement, not really caring one way or the other what he wanted to listen to. Grinning at me, Lance turned, and I listened to the sounds of his footsteps on the wooden floor. Lance made his way over to the small portable stereo that sat on my worktable, and in a matter of seconds, the slow, beautiful melody of the Beatles’ "Yes It Is" floated across the room.

A shy smile spread across Lance’s lips as he beckoned me over, opening his arms and nodding toward the stereo.

He wanted to dance with me.

I practically flew off that couch and into the waiting arms of my boyfriend. Protectively, Lance wrapped his arms around me, and relaxing into his embrace, I rested my head on his shoulder.

“Took you long enough,” Lance whispered in my ear while pulling my body closer. “What if I got tired of waiting for you?”

“Tough,” I laughed softly, looking up at my boyfriend. His eyelids were hooded, the green of the iris darkened with obvious lust, and as a result, I felt a strange tingle travel throughout my body. “What would you do? Find someone else to dance with?”

“Nah.” Lance smiled bashfully, looking away before meeting my eyes again. “I’d wait as long as I had to for you, Stephen.”

“Thanks.” Overcome by the feelings that swam around in my heart, I gently brushed my lips against the slight stubble on his cheek. His face was warm, and being held in his arms...just felt good. It was indescribable. Lance’s grip tightened around my waist, drawing our bodies closer together. Closing my eyes, I resisted the urge to thrust my hips into his and began to pray for some kind of self-control that would allow us to finish our dance.

Lance and I held on to each other, swaying back and forth to the sound of Lennon and McCartney’s voices blending together. I felt him place a soft kiss on the curve of my neck, and I closed my eyes, almost wishing that this moment would never end. I had never slow-danced with another person before, and let me tell you, I didn’t know what I’d been missing.

“Stephen?” Lance whispered in my ear. “You okay? I mean, if you think this is corny or lame, we can just stop and get to the good stuff.” Pulling back, I fought back the urge to laugh. Lance was looking at me with this goofy, come-hither look on his face. I ran a reassuring hand up and down his back.

“I like this,” I whispered, placing a kiss on the tip of his nose. “I like this a lot. Why haven’t we danced with each other sooner?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know.” And then Lance kissed my cheek. Soft. Chaste. But when I looked into those eyes...oh Lord. There was something more.

“I could be happy...” Lance breathed in my ear, singing the lyrics to me. “...with you by my side.” And before I knew what was happening, he cupped my face in his hands and pressed his lips against my own. The intensity of his kiss almost caused my knees to buckle underneath me, and I held on to his shoulders, desperately hoping that I wouldn’t fall to the floor.

I didn’t. But I did lose myself in the kiss. In the moment. Time...what was time? All that mattered was the sweetness of his kiss. How soft his lips felt. The way his mouth pressed against mine, and the warmth. His breath hitting my face. And the slow way his tongue searched my mouth, prolonging the kiss.

The last notes of the song faded out, bringing me back to reality. Breaking his grasp from my waist, Lance leaned over to shut the CD player off and pulled my body closer to his. He brushed his lips against my ear.

“Stephen,” Lance whispered, his breath tickling my skin. “I want you...” He didn’t give me a chance to respond. And he kissed me again. My eyes closed, only to have them fly open when I felt his teeth nip at my lower lip.

“Stephen...” My name again. We broke apart, before diving in for another kiss. Murmuring against my lips, Lance’s small moans sent shivers up and down my spine, practically knocking the wind out of me. His fingers played with the hem of my shirt, finding their way underneath and touching my back.

And then he pulled away abruptly.

“Stephen...I want you...Now.”

He growled that sentence. Fucking growled it, driving me insane with lust. If I’d had my way, I would have thrown him to the floor and made love to him right there.

“Maybe we should get to bed?” Lance whispered, his green eyes twinkling as he nuzzled my cheek, before licking my cheek all the way up to my hairline. I’m surprised my hair didn’t stand on end from that, and I became so weak that all I could do was watch Lance. I watched as he ran his hand down the front of my body, pressing the palm of his hand against the bulge in the front of my pants.

I closed my eyes, my throat went dry, and my knees grew wobbly once more. Taking advantage of my distracted state, Lance slid his hand up my body, grabbed my wrist, and yanked me off toward the bedroom.

Stumbling into my room, I suddenly wished that it weren’t so dark. The only light came from the slight glow of the candles in the living room. The only thing I could only make out was the silhouette of Lance’s broad-shouldered frame. But I felt it as he touched me--running a hand over my chest and playing with my hair, before grasping the material of my shirt, yanking me toward him. And while Lance’s touches were more than enough to make me hot, I desperately wished I could look into his eyes. Somehow I always felt closer to Lance when I could lose myself in his beautiful green eyes.

I felt his fingers brush against my shirt buttons, his fingers quickly slipping them though each loophole, and kissing the skin as he parted the fabric. As Lance licked and sucked at the flesh beneath the material, my pants and boxers became confining. I felt trapped. I began running my hands through Lance’s thick hair, moving his head closer to my chest, wanting him to continue these slow, erotic licks against my skin.

Even in the dark, I could make out when Lance dropped to his knees, his fingers fumbling with the button on my pants. Unfastening it, he slid his hands between the pants and my boxers, allowing the pants to tumble past my thighs, past my knees, allowing them to bunch around my ankles. Taking my shoes and socks off, Lance pulled off the pants, only to kiss his way back up to my hardness. I felt Lance brush his cheek roughly against my cloth-covered erection, much like a cat would rub its body against a person. And I nearly fainted at the touch, sliding my hands through Lance’s hair and bringing his face closer to my body.

“Mine,” Lance whispered as he moved his lips to my navel. Placing his hands on the small of my back, he pressed his cheek to my stomach and moaned. “You’re mine, Stephen.”

Moving his mouth back down, Lance began to suck on my hardness through the thin cloth of my boxers. My head dropped back and I tried not to scream in pleasure. Lance giggled, *giggled* as he did this, sucking on the sensitive head, thoroughly wetting the material with his saliva before hooking his thumbs under the waistband. He giggled again before sliding the shorts past my hips and over my erection. It bobbed up and down in front of me, only stopping as Lance placed his tongue on it, licking up and down the length before pulling away.

What the fuck was he doing? What was he planning? To drive me into the loony bin before the night was over?

Before I could do anything, Lance stood up again and I could feel him grinning at me in the darkness. He gently cupped my balls in his hand, sliding his fingers around them, before letting go and pushing me back onto the bed. I hit the mattress with a thunk, my mind swimming with lust and bright colors dancing before my eyes. God only knows how long I lay there, but it seemed too long, and before I could pass out with lust, I heard the sound of a match striking the rough strip on a matchbook.

A small flame barely lit up the room, and I saw Lance’s face illuminated by the soft glow. The flame moved toward a candlestick, hit the wick, and finally lit the room with candlelight. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed that Lance was bare-chested, and I deduced that he must have taken his shirt off after he threw me on the bed.

His eyelids drooped as he faced me, licking his lips and running his hand over his smooth, pale chest.

“Stephen,” Lance mumbled as he fell onto the bed, on top of my body. His hot skin touched my own and he rubbed his knee against my erection.

“Yeah,” he breathed, his eyes drinking in the sight of me lying there, powerless under his moves. Lance began placing sloppy kisses over my chest, seeking out one of my nipples and teasing it to hardness with his tongue.

“Jesus,” I muttered, closing my eyes at the feeling. His hands snaked down my stomach, grabbing at my erection and giving it a gentle yet firm squeeze. I bit my lip, trying my best to stifle a cry of pleasure. I opened my eyes, only to find Lance grinning devilishly at me.

“Do you like that, baby?” Baby? His low whispers reminded me of a phone-sex operator. Dirty. Low. Rough. Obscene. Lance had never taken such a serious tone with me. Never. Not when we were in bed. Never.

I managed to squeak out an “Uh-huh”, only to be rewarded with another squeeze. Harder. I felt Lance’s thumb rake over the swollen head, massaging the drops of slickness that appeared at the slit down the length of my erection. I moaned. Loudly. I just couldn’t hold back any longer. His hands felt so good.

My God, he wanted to kill me, didn’t he?

“Lance...oh...” He stroked the wetness up and down my shaft, his expert hands working me into a state of practically unconscious bliss. “Lance...”

“Shhhh,” Lance shushed me as he stood up, his hot hands leaving my body. “Shhh...” Lying on the bed, I was enjoying my view of Lance standing over me. I watched as his hands flew over the button closure on his pants and the way his fingers slid the zipper down with ease. The pants fell past his hips, and my eyes grew as wide as saucers. They noiselessly fell to the floor, and Lance kicked them aside as though they were rubbish.

Lance had been naked underneath those pants. All night, he had been...naked.

No wonder the pants looked so good on him, I thought, smiling. Nothing to interfere with them.

I watched as Lance stroked himself a few times, and my throat went dry. He kept his eyes locked with mine, before falling back on the bed next to me. He propped his head on his hand, grinning at me like a maniac. Reaching out, his hands began exploring my chest, fingers settling on my nipples where he rolled them between his fingertips, teasing them into tight, hard buds.

“Do you like this?” Lance murmured, rolling his body over mine, as his mouth took over where his fingers had left off. Grazing his teeth over my nipples, the lower half of Lance’s body began to grind into mine, his hips danced and our erections began to painfully rub each other.

Did I like that? Lance was crazy, wasn’t he?

I began to whimper, sounding very much like a sick puppy. I began to pray to someone, anyone, who would make Lance give in to a quickie right now. But I seemed to have forgotten that the gods above aren’t that receptive to prayers for sexual favors.

“I’m taking that as a yes.” His deep voice sounded shaky, almost as though he was about to fall apart any second. Before I could answer him, though, Lance began shifting his body lower, placing sloppy kisses along my torso, here and there, lower...lower...lower, tongue swirling in my navel...lower...until his lips began nuzzling the thatch of dark curls right above my erection. I swear that he giggled as he did this, enjoying the sounds of agony that were escaping from my throat.

After a few seconds of this, Lance began to move back up my body, placing some more messy kisses along my hot skin, until he found my lips, devouring them with fervent kisses. We began rolling on the bed, the silence in the room filled with nothing but the sounds of our lips meeting, as well as the sound of us trying to catch our breath. This all came to an end when Lance rolled me onto my back, pinned me down and straddled my hips. As he smiled down at me, a mischievous glint shone in his chartreuse eyes.

Oof,” I panted, as Lance gently slapped his hands in a drumroll fashion across my stomach. “You’re heavy. Get off.”

“I’m planning to.” Arching an eyebrow at me, Lance gave me a flirtatious smile. “But not until I have my dessert.”


“Uh-huh.” He scooted his body lower, his backside bumping into my erection as he did so. Closing his eyes at the feeling, Lance let out a gasp, running his hands up his own chest, before leaning over and reaching out for something that sat on the nightstand. Squinting, I tried to make out the object in his hand, but failed. He moved his hand forward.

And then I saw it.

It was a jar of body paint. Chocolate. One of the I-miss-you gifts that Lance had sent me from Japan.

Grinning devilishly, Lance slowly unscrewed the top. He did this slowly. Methodically. Almost as though he was trying to seduce me just by opening the jar. I watched Lance with interest, waiting to see what his next move would be.

“Dessert…” Lance whispered huskily as he threw the lid off to one side, not caring where it landed. “…is the most important meal of the day.” He trailed a finger down the center of my chest and then cleared his throat, as though he were about to make a speech. “And it’s time for my dessert, Stephen.”

Eyes glued to my boyfriend and that jar of chocolate, I watched as Lance tipped the jar, sticky brown liquid pouring out and drizzling onto my chest in shiny rivulets. Swirling it around in intricate patterns of chocolate, Lance began to decorate my chest and around my nipples. I arched my back, panting for breath, wondering what Lance was planning to do next.

Still holding onto the jar of chocolate, Lance flashed me another smirk and leaned back to the nightstand, this time grabbing for something else. I squinted my eyes, trying to make out whatever Lance had reached for, but in the candlelight it was useless.

I felt something land on my skin. Cold. Wet. And the smell...

Lance dropped whatever he was holding on my chest, right on top of my nipples. And then the sharp, fruity smell hit my nostrils.

Pineapple, I thought, as Lance leaned forward and pressed his mouth to mine again.

You’re my dessert, Lance whispered mischievously, before trailing down my neck and right to where the rings of pineapple lay on my chest. Using the tip of his tongue, Lance began to gingerly lick inside the rings, dipping his tongue into the hole, circling it around the tight bud that sat in the middle of it all. Moaning his name, my hands twisted the sheets beneath me. Moving his tongue away from my nipple, Lance moved to the pineapple itself, biting at it before lifting it with his fingers. Dangling it over my lips, Lance teased me with the pineapple before yanking it away and pulling the fruit apart. Still giggling (where was this laughter coming from, I thought), Lance began to feed me sections of the sweet fruit, while taking the time out to run his fingers through the pools of chocolate covering my body.

There was a time in life when I had thought something like this--fruit and chocolate--was tacky, something straight out of a bad made-for-cable movie. But when Lance did it--when it was Lance straddling my waist, teasing me with edible things and staring down at me with hungry, wanting eyes--now that was sexy.

And I loved him. That made our fooling around even better, because I knew that Lance cared about me. Those thoughts were soon forgotten as Lance traced the last piece of pineapple around my lips, dangled it over my face, and then popped it into his mouth.

“Tease,” I huffed, pretending to be angry. He laughed at that one.

“Like you’re not enjoying this,” Lance shot back, and I remained quiet, because judging from the look in his eyes, I knew he was ready for something else. And I was right.

Rubbing his hands together in anticipation, Lance began to slide his palms along my slick chest, fondling the small, tight buds that lay under his fingertips. He did this numerous times, before lifting his hands to his mouth and licking the chocolate off.

“Taste?” Lance asked suggestively, arching an eyebrow as he brought his fingertips to my mouth. Nodding weakly, I allowed my tongue to flicker over his skin, tasting not only the sweetness of the chocolate, but also the salty taste of his hand.

“Ohhhhh...Stephen...” His moans only succeeded in turning me on more, and urged on by that, I sucked his finger into my mouth. Closing his eyes, Lance ran his hand down my sticky chest, all the way down to his hotness, and brushed his fingertips against his erection, coating it with a thin layer of chocolate.

I choked upon seeing this, thinking that there was nothing hotter in this world than watching Lance touch himself. And while I had always thought our sex life was hot, this was absolutely scorching. I’m surprised that my whole bed hadn’t just erupted into flames, as my eyes were glued to the sight of Lance stroking himself.

“You like watching?” Lance murmured happily, before leaning down to kiss me, his eyes locked with mine. “Because I certainly like showing.” Moving his hand off his erection, he then brushed his thumb across my cheek, leaving a trail of chocolate and whatnot on my skin, almost as though this was his way of marking me. And as though that weren’t enough, Lance then leaned forward, his tongue darted out, and he licked off the chocolate, almost causing me to come right on the spot.

“Yummy,” he laughed huskily as he kissed me again, allowing me to taste the sweetness of the chocolate as well as himself. “Very yummy.”

All I wanted to do at that moment was sink into the haze of arousal and sex that Lance had built up for me. That was all I wanted to do.

But oh, no, Lance had much more in store for me. Much.

“Time to get cleaned up,” Lance whispered, his eyes glistening with mischief. Running his thumbs over my nipples one last time, he tipped his head to my chest, darting his tongue out again and began scooping up the chocolate in long, slow licks.

“Oh My God,” I thought, surprised that I could even think those three words. Was he trying to kill me? Alternating between kissing and licking at my chocolate-covered skin, Lance continued his cleanup, taking much-needed breaths while my body moved underneath his. My heart was beating as though I were running a marathon, while beads of sweat began to pop out on my forehead and a slight trickle ran down my neck.

“Stephen sundae,” I heard Lance whisper, another giggle punctuating his words while his tongue swiped a path down my chest. And then he looked up at me, and as hot as I was, I wanted to laugh at Lance’s appearance. His blonde-tipped hair was sticking up in mangled clumps, while a ring of chocolate was messily smeared around his mouth.

“Lance...” I breathed, unable to move, wanting to lean forward and lick that chocolate off his face. “I...I...” I never got to finish my thought, though, because Lance took that moment to run his hand down my still-sticky body and wrapped his hand around my aching hardness.

“Oh, look,” Lance purred, his voice sounding goofy and seductive all at once. “This fudgesicle has a stick already.”

And it was those words, those provocatively whispered words, that almost sent me over the edge.


I couldn’t take it any longer, lying there passively and letting Lance molest me like this. I needed to have a little fun myself, so I decide to take charge.

Without saying anything, I pressed a hand to Lance’s chest, pushing him backwards onto the mattress. A look of confusion passed over his face, his eyes blinking as I hovered over his body, and I could tell that he wanted to say something, but he didn’t. Instead, Lance continued to watch as I hooked a leg over his waist and straddled his hips.

“What are you gonna do, Stephen?” Lance asked coyly, running his tongue over his lower lip. “I’m waiting...”

My eyes flickered across the nightstand where Lance had retrieved the bottle of chocolate body paint. I saw that the other two bottles were sitting there, as well, just waiting to be used. Reaching out, I grabbed the first one I could get my hands on.

“Strawberry,” I announced, trying to ignore the throbbing between my legs. “Do you like strawberry, Lance?”

He nodded meekly, biting his lower lip as I unscrewed the jar, and without a care in the world, began to pour the strawberry syrup all over his chest. I became mesmerized at the way the crimson liquid contrasted with his pale skin, watching as it dripped onto the chocolate-stained sheets lying beneath him. I didn’t care how dirty we got. All I cared about at that moment was Lance. And making him feel very, very good.

Moving my body off to the side, I continued to pour the sticky syrup along his body, drizzling it into his navel, and I began to laugh when Lance squirmed at the liquid’s coldness. Traveling farther down, I dripped the sugary liquid along his well-defined torso, allowing it to spill over the coarse hairs and over his twitching, weeping erection.

He moaned so loudly, they probably heard him back in Florida.

“Cold,” Lance gasped, arching his back at the feeling. “So cold...”

Smiling lustfully, I threw the now-empty container off to one side, not giving a damn if it shattered into a million pieces. I heard it hit the floor with a *thud*. Moving lower, I watched as the strawberry syrup ran down his pale thighs, pooling neatly underneath him on the bed. I paused for a moment, pretending to think about what I was going to do next. Lance was watching me, his curious eyes observing my every move. And seeing how needy he was, I quickly engulfed his hotness with my mouth.

“Oh...Stephen...” Lance moaned as I moved my lips up and down his rigid shaft. The unique taste of Lance mixed with the sweetness of the strawberry syrup was driving me insane. I became blinded by the pain of my own erection, as well as by the lust traveling throughout my body, and it took Lance’s voice to bring me back to reality.

“StephenStephenStephen...you’re killing me...”

Moving back up his shaft, I swirled my tongue around the head and licked the slit at the top, gathering up the pearly drops of frustration that nestled there. Moaning and begging, Lance slid his hands through my hair, causing his erection to plunge into my mouth, making me gag. I choked for a second before relaxing and allowing him to slide down my throat. I tried to breathe in his musky scent, causing dots of color to swim before my eyes. I couldn’t do it anymore. Pulling my lips along his shaft, I dragged my tongue along the underside of his hardness, causing another moan to leave his lips.

He tossed his head from side to side, while I began to lick his erection clean. Backing off, I soon moved a bit lower, gently taking his balls into my mouth, eliciting another groan. I sucked on each one, enjoying how Lance was moving under me, before moving my attention back to his erection.

I gently dug my nails into the fleshy part of his hip, holding Lance down as I took him into my mouth once more.

“Oh God...Stephen.” That was all I needed. I began to apply firmer suction, tasting and massaging Lance with my tongue, teasing him by going slow and then fast. Looking up, I noticed that he was watching me with eyes that begged for release. And suddenly, I knew what Lance had gotten off on when he was teasing me. Power. I was on a total power trip, enjoying how I controlled his pleasure. I moved off his erection, and began to lick at the strawberry-flavored syrup that coated his stomach, briefly dipping my tongue into his navel as I worked back down. I moved my tongue down his thighs, and when I came back to his erection, I allowed it to rest against my cheek. The warmth and dampness of it sent shivers down my spine, and I blinked once, only to see that Lance was sweating like a madman. He was staring down at me, fascinated as I rubbed my cheek along the length of his erection.

“Stephen...please...baby...let me come already...please.”

My fingers left Lance’s hip, the nails leaving crescent marks in his pale skin. I went back to caressing his thighs, palms sliding over the slick substance that coated them. Lance was panting now, his breaths coming out in soft, painful moans. I slid my hands under his ass and brought his body closer to my mouth.

And I couldn’t take it any longer. I dove back down his shaft one last time. I knew the way his body tensed. And I knew that he was about to come. His muscles contracted, Lance arched his back and came, shooting into my mouth, down my throat, and letting out a yell of pleasure all at once.

Holding down Lance’s hips in a vain attempt to keep him steady, I drank in what my boyfriend gave out, until he couldn’t give any more. We stayed in that position for a few seconds, until Lance’s body stopped twitching and quivering in pleasure. Releasing him, I moved back up his body, and our lips met in a torrid, almost lewd kiss.

Lance desperately searched my mouth, his tongue exploring every inch as he sought out his taste. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to wrap my arms around him. But eying that nightstand, and the food it held, I knew I still had business to take care of. And then this idea--this weird yet erotic idea--popped into my mind.

I reached out for the container of pineapple slices that Lance had used on me earlier. I grabbed a few and dropped them onto his stomach, watching as they landed with a *plop*. Slyly, I picked one up, took hold of Lance’s now-softening member, and neatly slid the pineapple slice down his shaft.

“Stephen,” Lance asked nervously, eyes wide with bewilderment as I slid another pineapple ring down. “What are you doing?”

“Playing a game.” I smirked at him, slowly running a hand over his once-again-hardening shaft.

“A game?”

“A game,” I repeated, my voice firm as I slid another piece of the sweet-smelling fruit down his semi-hardness. “You have to be a good boy and not break the rings...”

“Break the rings?” Lance squeaked out. “What do you mean by breaking the rings?”

“I mean...” I slid another one down, watching him slightly harden in my hands, causing the pineapple rings to expand. “Don’t...break...” I slid another slice of pineapple down, trailing my fingers over the sensitive flesh of his half-hard member. “...the...rings...”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Lance half-moaned as my fingers caressed him. “This is a joke, right? Stephen?” Waiting for an answer, Lance propped himself on his elbows, only to watch with heavy-lidded eyes as I began to nibble at the stacked fruit.

“Stephen?” He squeaked out my name, reaching down to run a hand through my hair. “How do you...expect...” I nibbled at the pineapple once more, only to feel him growing harder with every bite I took.

“Don’t break them,” I mumbled around the fruit in my mouth, gazing up at Lance through my eyelashes. “Remember--you have to be good...”

Falling onto his back, Lance clutched his hands into tight fists and slammed his eyes shut, while I continued to torture him. I took slow, methodical bites of the fruit that surrounded his hotness, and I *knew* the reaction I was having on him. Slowly, my hands moved over his thighs, while I continued to nibble at the pineapple.

“Good boy,” I murmured, patting him on the hip as I gently licked around one of the rings.

By now, Lance was mumbling incoherently, babbling about how much he wanted me and how badly he was going to kill me when we were done. He kept those beautiful eyes shut tight, fists clenched next to his hips, as he tried his best to keep my actions from arousing him. I continued biting the fruit, slowly licking at his semi-hardness with each bite, trying not to laugh as Lance did his best to empty his mind of sexy thoughts.

We should have both known it was useless, though. After I had eaten the second pineapple ring, Lance slowly came back to life, breaking apart the last two rings at the base of his erection.

“Oh, shit,” I heard him breathe as he felt the pineapple fall away. “I broke ‘em, didn’t I?”

“Uh-huh,” I laughed weakly, unable to tear my eyes away from my Lance’s sweat-and-strawberry- syrup-covered body. “You did...” I began working my way back up, trailing a path of kisses along his stomach as I did so. And as I did this, my own erection was growing more and more painful with each kiss I planted on Lance’s body.

When I finally reached his face, I couldn’t help but smile. His cheeks were flushed and beads of sweat trickled down the sides of his face and neck. His eyes were still closed, so I leaned over and placed soft kisses on each of his eyelids.

“Lance.” My voice was soft in tone as my lips brushed over his temples. Lance tasted of sweat and strawberries, and the salty-sweet taste lingered in my mouth. I ran my fingers through his damp hair, and brought his head close to my chest, resting his cheek against my heartbeat. Only then did Lance open his eyes, those bright green orbs staring at me, filled with lust and need and love.

“What?” he asked hazily, looking as though he were about to pass out.

“I need you.”

He smiled then, a dirty little smile as he trailed a hand over my chest, fingers skimming across my sticky skin. He found a nipple and rolled it between his fingers. Pleased with my reaction, Lance pulled himself into a half-lying, half-sitting position and moved his lips to my ear.

“No,’ he spoke firmly. “I need you, Stephen.’ Throwing his arms around my neck, Lance hooked one of his legs around my thigh, in an almost possessive manner. His kisses began to fly up and down the length of my throat, licking and sucking at the delicate skin.

“I need you,” Lance begged, his words clearly indicating what he wanted. “Now. Please.”

Wordlessly, I kissed him, running a hand down his back, noticing how damp and strong it felt under my touch. And I don’t know how he did it, but before I could say anything, Lance twisted his body around so that he was facing the mattress. Tilting his head up at me, he batted his lashes in an almost girlish fashion.

“Please?” My mind began growing crazier as the seconds ticked by. The sound of his voice was sending me into a frenzy. “Please. Now.”

I became frozen as Lance reached out, eyes bright, while his fingers wrapped themselves around my erection. Running his fingers over the swollen head, Lance slid his fingers over a portion of the precum that had pooled in the slit, and giving me a seductive grin, he touched his fingertips to his lips, tongue flickering out over them.

Jesus. Now he was trying to kill me. I’m surprised I didn’t come right there, and that I was still able to hold back from doing so.

Before he could do anything else to me, I moved down Lance’s body, lazily running my hands over his skin, and straddled his thighs. I stared at this beautiful man who was stretched out in front of me, his pale skin pressed on top of sticky-sweet sheets. His strong, muscular back was covered with a fine sheen of sweat, which reflected the glow of the candlelight.

I felt my heart thumping wildly in my chest as I stretched my body over his and pressed my cheek to his shoulder blades. As I curled my body back up, my hands trailed down his spine, the center of his body, until my fingers reached his ass. Trembling slightly under the touch, Lance buried his face in the fluffy pillows that lay under his head and arched his back.

“You’re so beautiful,” I whispered as I gently parted his cheeks. “So beautiful, Lance...”

Running a hand over my erection, I collected some of the precum that lay in the head and then moved my fingers to the tight ring of muscle that lay hidden between his cheeks. He flinched slightly as my fingers brushed over the light pink pucker, relaxing only as I placed a soothing hand on the small of his back.

“You okay?”

He sucked in a deep breath that sounded like a whooshing noise. “Stephen, please...”

I slipped a finger inside of him, listening to the pleased sigh that left his lips, before working another finger in. I closed my eyes, reveling in the intimacy that we were sharing. Taking another deep breath, I gently worked in a third finger, pushing in deeper and hooked it, brushed against his prostate as I did so.

Suddenly, Lance slammed a tight fist against one of the pillows that lay next to him, sounding like a soft thump. Looking at his handsome face, I noticed that he was all gritted teeth and painful frustration, and I wondered for a second if I had hurt him. I was about to pull my fingers out, thinking that he was in immense pain. That wasn’t what I wanted.

I was wrong.

“Jesus Christ, stop teasing me!” Lance bellowed, grinding his hips into the mattress that lay under him. He continued to beat the pillow next to him, his moans growing louder with every thump. “Stephen, *please*. I’m begging you...just fuck me already.”

Those words made me hot. Hotter than I already was. Fingers slipping out of him, I moved myself between his spread legs, parting him wider and pushing him apart. I positioned the head of my erection against his hole. Just brushing against Lance nearly sent me over the edge, but I bit my lip, took another breath and then slid into my boyfriend, hissing as I entered him. He was tight. Tighter than he had ever been and, my God, it was the most amazing feeling in the world.

“Stephen, please...deeper...”

Lance began to pull himself onto his hands and knees, pushing himself further onto my erection, while my fingers grasped at his hips. He sounded weak, as though he were dying and needed a drink of water to keep him alive. Soon enough, his ass was pressing against my stomach, and he was gasping for air and moaning my name loud enough to wake the dead.

That voice--that deep voice that told teeny interviewers how much he loved his fans and how much he loved music--was now filled with a weakness I had never heard before. Lance was calling out my name, his throat emitting low growls with each breath he took.

Feeling as though I was about to pass out from sheer ecstasy, I slid out of Lance, only to slam back in. His tight hotness surrounded me, and *fuck*, if this wasn’t the most amazing feeling in the world. Flailing, Lance reached out for the headboard, knuckles grasping the metal bar for support. Maybe this was too much, I thought, eying Lance as he cried out in...pain?


Okay, so it wasn’t pain.

I repeated my actions, pulling out and slamming in, establishing a rhythm, while my hands held onto his hips for dear life. My nails sunk into his skin, and I knew that tomorrow morning there were going to be bruises and marks and scars, but I didn’t care. He felt so good. Tight. And hot. And this was everything I wanted. Suddenly, school and England seemed to be a very foreign concept, because I could never imagine leaving Lance. Not now. Not ever. The sex alone was too good to leave him.

Leaning forward, I dragged my tongue down the center of his back, inhaling the sweet scent of Lance’s skin as I did so. Moving up as I worked the lower half of my body in and out, I kissed the back of his neck, blowing against the skin as I pulled away. Lance began moving with me now, trying to thrust his body backwards as mine moved forward.

“Deeper,” he grunted, knuckles turning white as he gripped the headboard for dear life. “Stephen, deeper...please.” I closed my eyes and thrusted as deep as I could go, and was rewarded with Lance moaning so loudly that the sound of his voice nearly broke me. I reached around, searching somewhat blindly for his erection, and sure enough, as my hand drifted down, my fingers closed around his hotness.

“Stephen,” Lance breathed, almost whining as I began to slide my hand up and down his shaft, working the precum up and down its length, trying to get a rhythm going. “Oh...God...” He was panting by now, every ounce of his composure and sanity breaking down as the seconds ticked by. Every breath he took matched my thrusts, each one growing faster and faster and more out of control.

I kissed the side of Lance’s neck, pulling back and gently sinking my teeth into the pale flesh of his shoulder. I watched his fingers clench the metal bars more tightly. His body tensed under mine, just like before, and I knew that he was at his breaking point.

“Come on, Lance,” I whispered, flicking my tongue over the curve of his earlobe, licking up the beads of sweat that had formed there.

And before I could torture him anymore, Lance’s body tensed underneath my grasp and suddenly I felt his warm, sticky fluid shoot out and spill over my hand, and I was surprised that his moans didn‘t shatter the windows of my apartment and wake the entire building up.

He was panting heavily, sweat rolling down his back, and as his orgasm hit, I felt him clench around my erection. And I couldn’t hold back any longer. What had built up all night, finally released, and I broke, coming deep inside of Lance. Over and over. I wrapped my arms around Lance’s chest, bringing his body close to mine. Bright spots of color danced before my eyes, and I teared up--from the emotion of what had happened between us, as well as from the powerful orgasm that shot throughout my entire body. My toes curled. I felt hot. I felt like I was floating. And I felt like my heart was about to burst open and that maybe I was going to die from ecstasy. I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want to ruin this, but I just couldn’t hold back any longer.

“I love you,” I heard myself whisper, and it wasn’t even like I was in my own body anymore. I felt like I had walked into someone else’s fantasy. Seeing Lance lying beneath me, his green eyes straining to see mine as he craned his neck backwards, sent another wave of pleasure through me. I came again. I realized that I was no longer in control of my body as I twitched and shook. And I realized that Lance was mine. All mine. And I loved him more than any other human being could possibly love another.

“I love you, too,” Lance gasped as his lips sought out mine, and we kissed, lips parting slightly as our tongues met and tangled. My body shook once more and I came for the last time that night.

Our mouths parted, and I found that all I could do was lie there, resting on top of Lance’s body, too drained to move a muscle. I tried to catch my breath, tried to slow down my racing heart, as Lance tried to do the same.

We lay there for a few minutes, and finally Lance began to stir underneath the weight of my body. And suddenly, I had this urge to hold him. Tightly and in my arms. I rolled off to the side, onto the clean side of the bed, while Lance rolled onto his back. His green eyes were fixed on the ceiling, staring at it as though he were in a trance.

The candles that Lance had lit when we began our tryst, began to flicker. And we both noticed it.

I was just about to say something, when Lance turned his face to me, his eyes heavy with the aftereffects of what we had just done. Smiling lazily, he reached up and stroked my cheek.

“What the hell did we do?” Lance asked drowsily, as he shifted his body closer to mine. Sticky skin pressing against mine, I wrapped my arms around him, holding him as tightly as I could.

“Don’t know,” I answered lazily, as a wave of sleepiness overcame me. “Felt good though.”

Instead of answering, Lance nuzzled his face into my chest, placing a soft kiss where my heart beat. Then he looked up at me, and as I looked down into his eyes, I could tell that he wanted to say so much more. I wanted to say more. There were a thousand things swimming through our minds, and yet we didn’t speak a word.

And then...

“I love you, Stephen,” Lance whispered as he tilted his head up. Brushing his lips against mine, I smiled into the kiss.

“Love you, too.”

I looked down at Lance one more time and saw that his eyes had closed, and that he was snoring lightly. But he was smiling rather peacefully, and I knew that he was happy.

It was okay. Because I was happy, too.

And then like magic, the candle suddenly went out, bathing both of us in pitch-black darkness. I lay there for a few seconds, not wanting to let this night go. There was something special about what Lance and I had shared, but I was too sleepy to think coherent thoughts. And before I knew it, I had fallen fast asleep, holding Lance tightly in my arms, almost as thought I were afraid to let him go.


At first, I had thought it was one of those noises that you hear when you’re in that semi-lucid state of sleep. You know, you’re dozing off and suddenly you hear something crash, but when you open your eyes, it’s nothing. Just a figment of your imagination.

So I opened my eyes. I looked down to see that Lance was still lying in my arms, snuggled into my chest. He looked cute. Mussed-up blonde hair, streaks of strawberry syrup haphazardly smeared all over his body, and he was snoring a little. But he hadn’t made that noise.

I closed my eyes again, trying to sink back into the cloud of sleep that I had been awakened from, only to have it disturb me again.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

‘What the hell?’ I thought as I lifted my head from the pillow. The noise was coming from the direction of my living room. The door, the still-sane part of my brain concluded, as it recognized the sound of someone banging a fist against my door. That was it. Someone was at my door.

“Lance,” I mumbled, my voice rough with sleep and exhaustion as I tried to pry him from my arms. Lance...wake up.

His eyelids began to open, slightly fluttering until the sleepy green of his eyes was in view.

“Whatza? Huh? Stephen...” Lance mumbled under his breath as he began to stir. “What’s going on...”

“Someone’s at the door,” I said, my voice sounding a little more coherent as my brain began to wake up. “It’s..” I turned my head to look at the clock that sat on the nightstand. “Fuck. Eleven a.m.” I had missed my two academic classes that morning, thanks to what Lance and I had engaged in. ‘Oh, well,’ I thought with a shrug. I certainly wasn’t about to complain about what we had done.

I looked at Lance and grinned. Only he didn’t grin back. In fact, the look on his face resembled one of panic and not post-morning bliss. I tried to roll away from him, but only succeeded in pulling his body along with me. Huh? What the hell was he doing?

I soon realized that we had a problem. It seemed that Lance and I never thought about the consequences of using syrup. As Lance tried to roll his body away from mine, I heard this strange...almost tearing noise, and only after a flash of pain shot through my body, did I realize that Lance and I were stuck together.

“Ouch!” I screamed, as Lance pulled away from me. Tears formed in my eyes from the immense pain I was in. “Jesus Christ!!”

“Fuck!” Lance rolled onto his side of the bed, rubbing his back as he lay there, trying to recuperate. “What the...” He looked back at me, where I was still lying on the bed, and smiled. The smile grew into a chuckle and then grew into full-out laughter.

“What’s so funny?” I spat out as I rubbed my sleep-filled eyes. “Huh?” And just as I said that, a terrible, burning pain shot through my body. I had no clue what was happening.

And Lance. Lance continued to giggle and point at a spot just below my waist. Following his finger, I lowered my eyes and saw exactly what Lance found so funny. And I blushed. And then I cringed in pain once more.

Thanks to the syrups we had used and the stickiness they’d left behind, Lance had unknowingly ripped out some of the hairs from the happy trail just under my navel. And not just a few. A whole, noticeable chunk. It was almost as though Lance had waxed a portion of my stomach.

“Real funny,” I muttered through gritted teeth, as I swung my legs over the side of the bed. “Ha ha ha.”

“Oh, come on, Stephen,” Lance smiled, now fully awake, as he watched me move around the room, searching for clothes to cover my nudity. “Smile. It’s a beautiful day.”

“Ha,” I shot back, unable to keep the frown on my face. Lance was just too cute at that moment, looking like an over-exuberant child on Christmas morning. He was happy. Practically bouncing in the bed as he watched me pull on my boxers and a random t-shirt that I had found on the floor. “You’re only saying that ‘cause you got some.”

“If I’m not mistaken, I wasn’t the only one,” Lance shot right back, arching one of his perfectly shaped eyebrows at me. “Someone else got some, too. Someone who’s surprisingly grumpy this morning.”

“Oh shut up,” I laughed despite the frenzied bangings that were growing louder and louder. “I gotta see who this is.” I motioned toward the noises with a jerk of my head, and Lance nodded in agreement, his green eyes growing serious.

“Okay. But...uh...” His face darkened momentarily. “Be careful, okay? There are nuts out there.” I stared at Lance for a second, and I saw fear briefly shoot through his eyes, and I knew that he was thinking about his own safety precautions. And I have to admit--I was touched by his concern.

“Okay.” Walking over to his side of the bed, I sat on its edge and looked at Lance. Damn the banging, I thought, as I leaned over to kiss him.

Just as I was starting to get into it, and Lance had cradled my face in his hands, the banging at my door started up again.

“Just go, Stephen,” Lance sighed as we broke apart.” See who it is and then get your ass back in here.” He gave me a mischievous smirk. “And then when you get back, maybe we can clean this mess off?” He motioned to his body, which was still covered with the mess from last night.

Nodding, I looked down at myself, eying the streaks of leftover syrup that were smeared over parts of my body, as well. Good idea, I agreed as I got off the bed. And with one last look at my boyfriend, I made my way into the living room, noticing the burned-out candles and the mess on the kitchen table left over from last night. I couldn’t help but smile. And if I’d known how to purse my lips and whistle, I would have done that, too. That’s how happy I was.

I loved having Lance around.

As I walked to the door, the banging grew still louder, and while I know I should have been worried, I wasn’t. Part of me wanted to pick up the telephone and call the police. But I didn’t. Instead, I moved toward the door and peered through the peephole, rolling my eyes with annoyance as I recognized the person.

‘Oh, fuck,’ I thought as I began to unlock the deadbolts on the door. ‘What does she want?’

Once the locks were off, I flung the door open, only to find Marianne standing there. She was red-faced and slightly breathless, but once she saw me, she recoiled somewhat, crossing her arms protectively over her chest now that we were face to face. Seeing the petite girl, you would never have guessed that Marianne was capable of making so much noise.

“Hey,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “You missed another day of classes today.”

“Yeah,” I said as I ran my hands through my messy hair, trying to make myself look a tad more presentable. “I know. Overslept.”

I really didn’t know what to say to her. We had argued. She’d left the sculpture room in a huff and I’d been left standing there, unsure of what was going to happen next. And as I faced Marianne, a strange realization came over me.

I was practically leading a double life. In school, I was quiet, a good student. People probably thought I was this shy, dateless wonder. I was Sensible Stephen. But once I left that place, I became the Stephen that I had grown into over the past few months. Passionate Stephen. The one who had a boyfriend, who didn’t give a fuck about anything except being happy and making his boyfriend happy.

Maybe I was schizophrenic. Or maybe I was just normal. Hmmm. Who knew?. All I knew was that this wasn’t the time to start psychoanalyzing myself. I had to get Marianne out of here and head back to Lance.

“Stephen,” Marianne spoke softly as her aqua eyes began to fill with tears. “I’m sorry for snapping at you like that...yesterday...I...I... I panicked.” What the hell? I watched as Marianne began to cry, the tears spilling down her pale, freckled cheeks and splashing onto her clothing.

“I’m sorry for just leaving,” she sobbed as she wrapped her arms around my neck. My body stiffened at her touch, but I forced myself to hug her back.

“Mari,” I whispered into her hair. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not. I’m so sorry at the way I reacted yesterday. When you told me. I should have been more--more supportive or something”. Looking up at me, I noticed that her gray eyeliner had smeared around her eyes, making her look kinda spooky. “I shouldn’t have blown up and acted selfish...I should have been supportive.”

Sniffling, Marianne wiped her runny nose with the back of her hand. “I know how hard it was when my brother came out, Stephen. And I just feel so bad that I treated you....thought about myself...” Mari paused for a second, staring at the black Mary Janes on her feet. “And how I felt. When it must have been so hard for you to deal with. And your mother,” she added hastily, sniffing once more. “All that stuff that happened to you over the summer. I’m so sorry for just running out on you like that.”

“It’s okay,” I repeated, reaching out to wipe a tear that formed at the corner of her eye. “Don’t worry. It was a weird situation yesterday, Mari. I shouldn’t have sprung it on you like that.”

A strange look crossed her face, something that I wasn’t expecting to see. She looked up at me, her eyebrows dipped into a frown.

“What happened to your legs?” she asked curiously, bending over to examine splashes of color that were dried on them. Blushing furiously, I moved back, wishing that I hadn’t chosen boxer shorts.

“Uh...” I began, getting more and more uncomfortable as the seconds passed. “It’s, uh...”

“Stephen?” Lance. He was calling out my name, his voice sounding vaguely worried. He was probably imagining the worst at the door, since I had promised that I’d be back in bed as soon as I could get there. Turning, I wished I could have moved faster and blocked Lance from coming into the living room, because at that moment, I really didn’t feel like explaining his presence to Marianne.

It was too late, though. Lance emerged from my bedroom, all wayward hair and still-sleep-riddled eyes. He looked worried. And he was bare-chested, which only emphasized the messy swirls of red on his skin. Thankfully, he’d had enough sense to put boxer shorts on, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that.

“Stephen, are you--oh.” He stopped short when he saw Marianne standing in the doorway, eyes growing wide with shock. “Oh. I didn’t know we had company.’

Marianne stared at him for a few seconds, and then shifted her gaze back to where I was standing.

“Ohmygosh,” she said, her words rushing out as she turned a bright, embarrassed red. “I’m so sorry...I, uh...didn’t know that you had a...uh...” She giggled nervously. “You know...a...”

Her unspoken word hung in the air. ‘A boyfriend.’ And the look of Lance emerging from my bedroom, clad in nothing but a pair of rumpled boxers, certainly did coincide with Marianne’s words. There was no way I could just tell her that Lance and I were dating. Are you kidding me?

So I blurted out the first words that popped into my head. And if I’d known what a commotion they would cause between Lance and me, I would never have said them. I would have sooner outed Lance than to say what I did.

“A boyfriend?!” I said, a bit too enthusiastically. Turning to Lance, I widened my eyes at him, hoping that he would understand what I was doing. “This is....James. My...uh...cousin,” I lied, flinching at the words I had just used. “You know...a cousin. Nothing special or anything. James, this is Marianne. She’s one of my best friends from school.”

Lance froze, staring at me in shock. The words I had just spoken began to echo through my mind.

‘Nothing special.’

I had just said that Lance was nothing special to me.

I really don’t remembered what happened in the next few seconds. I knew that Lance stared at me, the hurt obvious in his green eyes. I knew that Lance had walked over to Marianne and shook her hand, flashing her one of his charming smiles, and said, “Pleased to meet you,” as well as some other things. And I remembered Lance turning away from her, and giving me a pointed look, while discreetly wiping away the tears that had welled up in his eyes.

My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. What had I done? Breaking my gaze away from Lance’s sad expression, I forced myself to look at Marianne. Her face was aglow with happiness, the crimson blush faded away into something much more ladylike.

“Um...thanks”, she giggled flirtatiously, oblivious to the heartbreakingly sad look that had taken over Lance’s entire being. “I haven’t heard about you--” She met his green eyes and gave him a toothy smile. “Um, I knew Stephen had a cousin, but the only one that I knew about was Cynthia.”

“Yeah,” Lance muttered, blinking a few times. “I didn’t know Stephen had another cousin either. But then...there are a lot of things you don’t know about people.” He paused. “No matter how well you think you know them.” He looked at me then, his jade gaze piercing what was left of my self-esteem.

I just couldn’t look at him anymore. I turned my head away from Lance, because it hurt to look at him. So I looked at Marianne again, only to go into panic mode once again.

She was staring at Lance. Her aqua eyes were transfixed on his face in an almost loving fashion, her fingers absentmindedly playing with the hem of her black miniskirt. The look on her face was almost shy, coquettish...There was something about *that* look that made my stomach turn.

Then I cleared my throat. I needed to break the silence between us, because frankly, everything was just getting too weird for my taste. I wanted Marianne to leave, because I needed to talk to Lance. Now. And that would be awfully hard to do with her standing around.

“Um...yeah,” I stammered. “You know, Mari...I have a lot of important things to do...so, um...”

“I should go,” Marianne finished up, sensing that something was wrong. “I know. I have some homework to catch up on.” She grinned uneasily. “Homework that you missed today, Peterson.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I laughed good-naturedly, as she poked me in the chest. “Shut up. So, uh...” I reached for the door, trying to watch Lance out of the corner of my eye. His arms were folded over his chest and a disgusted, let’s-get-this-over-with look had replaced the hurt expression on his face.

“I better leave,” Marianne said quietly. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Stephen. Right?”

“Right.” I gave her a smile and began to close the door, trying to push her into the hallway without being too rude about it. “Thanks for...uh...worrying and stuff.”

“It’s my job,” she laughed sweetly, before leaning forward and getting one final look at Lance. “And it was nice to meet you, as well, James.”

It took Lance a few seconds to break out of his daze. “Huh? Uh...I mean, it was nice to meet you too, Marianne.” He gave her a wan smile. “See you around.”

“Yup.” I watched her press her fingertips to her lips and then placed them on my cheek. “See you, Stephen. Bye.” And with that, Marianne spun on her heel and flounced down the hallway, her hair bouncing around her neck, and with a spring in her step, almost as though she were in love or something.

Once Marianne disappeared from view, I closed the door. My fingers began to fumble with the locks, and the click-click noises they made nearly drove me insane. When I finished that, I leaned my forehead against the door, the wood feeling cool on my skin. I could practically feel Lance’s eyes boring holes into my back. I took a deep breath. And then I turned around.

Lance was standing there, arms crossed over his chest. I took another deep breath, trying to gather enough courage to look into his eyes...

Blank. They were blank. No traces of hurt or anger or anything. They were just...blank.

“Lance,” I began softly, “Let me explain--”

“Don’t bother,” Lance snapped, his voice curt. “You made it very clear to Marianne that I was nothing special, so don’t even bother.”

“Lance, come on,” I took a step closer to him, only for Lance to take a step back. “Just listen to me.” The tone of my voice was desperate, but in a different tone of desperate than last night. Last night, my voice was desperate in the way that can only be brought on by sexual deprivation. Now...now I was just desperate for Lance to listen to me. To let him know that my silly words were just that--silly. And nothing more.

“What, Stephen?” Lance said, shaking his head wearily. “What do you want me to listen to? To hear you say that the ‘nothing special’ excuse was the only thing you could come up with?” His eyes flashed, turning darker and darker with every second that passed. “Fuck. Stephen...I’ve put my ass on the line for you so many times.”

“I know you have,” I protested, feeling a strange wetness well up in my eyes. “I know you have, Lance. Just let me explain. Please.”

He waved his hand in front of my face, cutting off any words that I wanted to say. “I don’t want to listen to you, Stephen. Not *now*.” He took a breath, closed his eyes and then opened them and when he did, the blank look was gone. He looked resentful. Bitter.

And it took the splash of water on my hand for me to realize that I was crying.

“Lance,” I said hoarsely, grabbing at his hand. He was moving away. “I didn’t mean what I said. I didn’t mean to say that you were nothing spec--”

“Just shut up,” Lance snapped. “Stephen, all the times I’ve told people that you were my boyfriend. My mom, my dad--” He rolled his eyes and his cheeks grew red with anger. “For God’s sake, my *sister*, who hated my guts when I told her I was gay...I’m in the business. And everyone in the business knows I’m gay--”

I opened my mouth to say something, but Lance cut me off once more.

“Stephen, practically everyone in the industry knows I’m not into girls. I mean it’s not...official, but...it’s pretty clear to people that I’m not straight.” Lance lowered his voice, almost down to a whisper, yet the pained look in his eyes still remained. “I don’t have a girlfriend. I--I don’t have a Britney like Justin has. I--I...” His voice faltered. “I have you, Stephen.”

“I know,” I answered quietly, taking another step toward him. And this time, he didn’t step away. He just stood there, frozen in place, staring at me as though I were a stranger.

“You don’t know, Stephen,” Lance whispered, looking down at the hardwood floor. “You don’t. And for you to say something like that...’nothing special?’” I cringed at the words. “How do you think that makes me feel?”

The word "terrible" was on the tip of my tongue, but suddenly, I became incapable of speech. I just stood there, staring at my boyfriend, awed by the various emotions that showed through. He looked so sad. So pained. It became harder and harder for me to look at him, because I knew I was the one who had caused him the hurt.

“I just didn’t want Marianne to know that you...you...were dating.”

“Stephen, the girl didn’t even recognize me. If Mari even knew who *NSYNC was, she would have started screaming at the top of her lungs and then mauled me to death.” A hint of a smile played on his lips, only to disappear almost immediately. “She wouldn’t have cared. I heard what she said about her brother...she wouldn’t have cared, Stephen.”

I stood there in silence, my eyes shifting to the floor. I just couldn’t look at him. It hurt too much to look at him.

“I’m...sorry...” I looked back up at him, only to see Lance wiping tears from his eyes, looking vaguely embarrassed by his show of emotion. “I didn’t mean it. I take it back. I panicked.” I knew how pitiful my answers sounded. And like every other time that something had happened between us, I guess I expected Lance to walk over, take me in his arms, and kiss me. He didn’t.

Instead, Lance just shook his head, and his green eyes filled with fresh tears. “Yeah, well...maybe.” He paused, taking another deep breath, as though he was steadying his nerves, calming himself down. “Maybe you should have thought about that before you said I was ‘nothing special.’” He stared at me for a second before backing off. “I’m going to take a shower. And then I’m leaving. Back to Florida. I certainly don’t need to stay where I’m not wanted.”

“We were supposed to spend a week together,” I said desperately as I lunged forward, grasping his hand. Scowling, Lance pulled away from my grasp, almost as though my touch disgusted him.

“Well, I guess we’re not, are we, Stephen?” Lance said quietly, allowing the words to hang in the air. He stared at me for a second, allowing me to see all the hurt I had caused. And then without another glance, Lance headed toward the bathroom, disappearing into the small space before slamming the door.

I stood there, flinching at the sound that a slamming door makes. I stood where Lance had left me holding onto empty air, instead of his hand. I felt cold. Alone. And that was the worst feeling in the world.

::end of Chapter 53::


Not much to say here, but thanks for reading. Take care everyone, and hopefully 54 will be out sooner than this one!