Author's Note

After I finished Cover Me Up, I started posting little minifics over on my Tumblr blog (catrionamacwrites) that filled in some holes, answered some questions, or just explored some moments I hadn't had time to explore in the main story. Think of these as my DLC for Cover Me Up.

This story contains explicit sexual content between consenting adults. If Ellie & Joel aren't your particular glass of lemonade, would you kindly skip this story?

"It's too fucking hot," Ellie said.

Joel looked up from cleaning his rifle and glanced through the open back door to where she was lying on a lawn chair. She looked miserable in her shorts and long-sleeved t-shirt, and her face was streaked with sweat. "You should come back in. You're gonna get a sunburn."

She groaned. "It's too hot to move."

Joel couldn't argue with her. This first week of August had been brutal, with temperatures well up in the high nineties, if not the triple digits, and there hadn't been a breath of fresh air for days. "If you're that hot, take your shirt off."

She cracked one eye at him and delivered her best withering glare. "You wish."

He snorted and went back to his rifle.

"Joooooeeeeelllllll," she whined. "It's hot."

"Lemme go get you an ice cream cone."

"Har har har. You're hilarious." She sighed and stood up finally. "I'm going to stick my head in the freezer for a while."

"You really shouldn't waste the electricity like that," Joel said mildly, as she wrenched the door to the freezer open.

"Ahhhhhh," she sighed in content. "Fuck you. What are you going to do, report me for excessive freezer opening?"

"Ellie," he said, in a tone of exasperation.

"Joel," she mimicked.

Joel grunted. "You know, that's actually getting old." The heat was making Ellie cranky as fuck, and she'd been sniping at him unrelentingly for the past two days. "Hey," he said, fitting his rifle back together. "I've got an idea — why don't we go swimming down at the reservoir?"

"Hey, I've got an idea," she said nastily, shutting the freezer door, "let's not put on swimsuits and fucking go down to the reservoir where the whole rest of the fucking town is going to be."

Joel lost his temper a little at that. "Damn it, Ellie. Nobody gives two shits about that scar anymore."

Ellie's left hand went to her right forearm, and she said in a low voice, "You know that's not true, Joel."

Joel didn't answer her, because she was right. People got freaked out when they saw her scar, even now, and Ellie herself could barely stand to look at it. That was why, even on a miserably hot day like today, she still wore one of those damned long-sleeved shirts.

Instead he picked up his rifle and said, "Come on."

"Come on? Come on where, Joel?" She tugged at the collar of her shirt, and the gesture went straight to Joel's heart. He hated seeing her so despondent.

"I got an idea. We're gonna go for a little ride." He'd been saving this discovery for the next time they went hunting together, but he could tell she needed it today.

"Ugh," Ellie said. She considered for a moment, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, and then she said, "Fine. It's not like it's any hotter out there than it is in here."

At the front door, they grabbed their respective packs. "We're leaving the compound, so take your rifle, just in case. And wear the hat this time, yeah?"

Ellie glared at him. "As if I'd leave the compound without my rifle. What do you think I am, five? And that hat can go fuck itself." She glanced scornfully at the big floppy straw hat Joel had found for her.

Joel's jaw clenched. Sometimes, Ellie made it hard to be nice to her. He took a deep breath and let it out again. "I don't want you getting such a bad sunburn this time. It ain't like sunscreen is just lying around at the drugstore these days." Ellie had spent two uncomfortable days with her face slathered in aloe vera after the last time. She'd needed so much that Doc had given them their own aloe plant to keep at home, just in case it happened again.

She glared again, and muttered, "Stupid fucking pale skin, I don't know why I can't get a tan like a normal person. It's not fucking fair."

But she took the hat.

Joel turned away and hid a small smile from her before he led the way down to the stables.

They checked out two horses from Burt. Ellie was thrilled to find her favorite, a little palomino mare that Burt had inexplicably named Def Leppard, still in her stall. Joel pointed to a brown gelding and said, "I'll take that one. What's his name?"

Burt opened the stall door and slipped a bridle over the gelding's head, patting him fondly on the neck. "This big boy here is named Sid Vicious. But don't let the name fool you. He's as gentle as they come."

Joel rolled his eyes at the older man. "What'd you do, back before all this?" It wasn't something he usually asked another old timer; most of them found remembering life before the pandemic too painful to talk about. But he'd been wondering about Burt and his damn music names for years, and today his curiosity got the better of him.

Burt smiled. "I was a roadie for Journey back in the late seventies, early eighties. And then I spent twenty years working for recording studios in Nashville."

"Get the fuck outta here!" Joel laughed as he placed a saddle blanket on the gelding's back.

Burt grinned back at him. "It's true. You're probably one of the only people left around here who'd understand what that means. These guys…" Burt gestured to the horses in the stable, "...they're all named after people or bands I ran into, back in the day. Man, I saw some crazy shit you wouldn't believe." Burt helped Joel throw a saddle up over Sid's back, and bent down to tighten the cinch.

"I just bet you did. Hey, uh, you mind if I come down here some time to talk? I'd love to hear some of those stories, if you'd be up to tellin' 'em," Joel said.

Burt grinned and shrugged. "You bring a few beers with you, I'm sure I'll start feeling pretty chatty."

Joel adjusted the stirrup length, and then swung himself up into the saddle. "It's a deal. See you, Burt. We should be back before dark."

"Joel, are we going, or am I just going to have to sit here all fucking day?" Ellie called from outside the stable.

Burt gave Joel a knowing glance. "You got yourself a firecracker there. Best not to keep a woman like that waiting any longer than you have to."

Joel gave Burt one last grin and then clicked his tongue to urge Sid into a walk. He joined Ellie outside, and they rode at a trot together down to the main gate, where Joel managed to keep their destination hidden from Ellie through the simple expedient of lying to the gate guard about where they were going. "Heading to the reservoir," he said, as they signed out of the compound.

Ellie gave him a sharp glance, but didn't say anything until they were out of earshot. "Joel, I already fucking told you I didn't want to go to the reservoir."

"That's fine. We're not going to the reservoir." He kicked Sid into an easy canter across the meadow and she followed, but when they got to the path that headed off to the dam and the reservoir, he turned right instead of left.

"So you just lied to the guard at the gate. That's fucking great, Joel. What if something happens, and they need to find us?"

Jesus, she was relentless. "Ellie, nothing is gonna happen. And I lied because I wanted to fucking surprise you for once, but if you have that big of a problem with it we can just turn around and go the fuck home!" he snapped.

They had slowed to a walk again and she was silent for a good minute before she said, "It's too fucking hot."

Joel sighed. "I know."

He almost missed the little game trail that marked the turnoff to the river, but saw it just in time. The heat along the trail was even worse, the air stifling and still, so thick and hot it felt like they were trying to breathe in molasses. Ellie had taken the floppy hat off again and was fanning her face, which was bright red and dripping with sweat. Joel's t-shirt was clinging to his body, and he was starting to wish he'd worn shorts instead of jeans, because the sweaty denim was starting to chafe uncomfortably against the saddle.


They were riding single-file because the trail was too narrow to ride side-by-side. He stopped Sid and looked back at where she had stopped, twenty feet behind him. She looked absolutely defeated, as wilted as a cut wildflower.

"This can't possibly be worth it." She sounded like she was going to cry.

"Baby, I know it's awful out here. But it's only a little farther now, and I promise it's worth it, and it'll be a lot more comfortable when we get where we're going," he said.

Her only answer was a weary sigh, but she nudged Def Leppard into motion again. Joel almost shouted with relief when the trees opened up and the trail turned to follow the river. It was cooler here at least, the heat in the air being sucked out by the sheer mass of flowing water.

"It's just around this next bend, here." He waited for her to catch up with him, so he was watching her face when she finally saw the wide, placid pool that spread across the path before them. The wonder and surprise on her face was worth enduring every dig she'd thrown at him in the past two days.

"Joel…" she breathed. "This wasn't here last year."

"We have our friends the beavers to thank for that." He pointed to the big dam at the far end of the pool. It had created the perfect swimming hole: deep, quiet, and secluded.

She looked at the water with such longing on her face that his heart swelled with joy, but then her mouth twisted and she hissed, "You are such a fucking asshole, Joel."

He was completely taken off guard. "What?"

"You didn't tell me where we were going, it was this big fucking secret, and I didn't bring a goddamned swimsuit, so now I can't fucking swim,…" Tears were streaking down her red face, and Joel didn't even think she knew it.

"Ellie," he said calmly. "Look around you. Nobody's around. Nobody else knows where this place is, or knows where we are. And a swimsuit is not a requirement for swimming."

Her mouth gaped open while she processed what he said. "What do you...oh. Oh!" He could see the light dawning in her eyes, and for the first time since this fucking heatwave started a wicked smile of speculation curved her lips. It made his heart beat faster when she looked at him like that.

They dismounted in silence and picketed the horses in a patch of grass that wasn't too withered by the heat.

"I', I've never gone skinny-dipping before," she said as she slipped her shoes off.

"First time for everything," Joel said. He pulled his sweat-soaked t-shirt off over his head and draped it on a low-hanging branch, and then shucked his damp jeans too. Ellie was slower to pull her clothes off, looking around self-consciously like she expected someone to jump out of the bushes at any second. She'd taken her shirt off, but held it in front of her body protectively.

Joel walked over to her in his skivvies and took the shirt from her hands. "C'mon. I promise the beavers ain't gonna mind." He pushed his boxers down over his hips and stepped out of them, kicking them aside.

Her mouth twitched as she looked him up and down. "Mmmmm. Maybe I need a little help."

His lips curved into a half smile. "Is that right." He looked down at her red, sweaty face and tried to remember exactly when she had started making him feel like this, half-crazy and half-desperate, and all loved up. He draped her shirt next to his, and then skimmed his fingers lightly over her freckled shoulders, teasing the bra straps down over her arms. She shivered as he found the hooked clasp of the elastic band at her back and deftly popped it open, drawing the sweaty garment off her as slowly as he could stand it. Her small breasts were dewy with perspiration, her nipples erect and pointing straight at him. He hung the bra next to her shirt. "Better?" he asked.

"Getting there." She trailed her fingers through the hair on his chest, then raked her nails lightly over his skin, making him shudder.

He hooked his thumbs into the elastic waistband of her shorts and pushed them down over her narrow hips along with her panties, running his palms over the full, round, cheeks of her ass and pulling her into him for a kiss. The length of her naked body pressing up against his brought his dick to life with a vengeance, and he leaned himself into her abdomen as their kisses became wilder and wilder.

And that's when a really evil idea occurred to him. She would probably make him pay for this, but he didn't care, it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Without stopping what he was doing with his mouth, he bent over and hooked his arm under her legs and lifted her up into a carry. She gasped, but he stopped whatever she was going to say with more kisses. He carried her to the water's edge, her sweaty body sliding in his arms, and waded in up to his knees.

"Ellie," he said, finally breaking their kiss.

"Joel." Her eyes were wide and unfocused, and she was panting with arousal. He almost hated to do this, but then again, she'd really been a shit the past couple of days.

"This oughta cool you off." And with that, he threw her as far as he could, directly into the deepest part of the pool.

Her shriek was cut off when she landed in the water and resurfaced, spluttering and angry enough to spit nails. "F-f-f-fucking f-f-freezing, you f-f-fucker!"

The river was mostly snowmelt from the higher elevations of the mountains. It was icy cold. Joel was laughing so hard he couldn't stand up straight. She swam back to the shallows and stalked toward him, her mouth set in a grim line.

Joel stopped laughing. "Now, Ellie, I ain't the one been complainin' about it being too hot…"

She jumped on him. For a second, he kept his balance, but she threw all her weight to the side and they went down together into the shallow water.

"Fuck!" The shock of the cold water killed Joel's erection entirely, and he felt his balls trying to crawl up inside his body.

Ellie sat up in the water next to him and sniffed. "See how you like it." Then she grinned at him over her shoulder. "It's actually not too bad once you get used to it." She stood up and with a few steps she was diving back into the pool, cutting cleanly across to the other side with long strokes of her arms.

Joel shook his head and followed her. She was right; once his body got used to the cold, he was able to just enjoy the sensual pleasure of the water sliding across his naked skin. He joined her on the other side of the pond, where she was crouched, her eyes intent on the dam. Joel fitted his body behind hers, and she melted back against him while he bit her lightly on the neck.

"Shhh," she said. "Be still." She twined her fingers in his.

After a minute, a sleek brown head broke the water near the dam, and then another. The beavers climbed up onto the dam, and Joel and Ellie watched them chase each other playfully up and down the length of the dam before they finally splashed into the water and disappeared again.

"That was so fucking cool," Ellie breathed. Joel felt her shiver in his arms.

"Mmmm." He kissed her ear. "You gettin' cold?"

She shivered again. "Yeah."

Joel considered their surroundings. There was a grassy bank just a few feet away, covered with springy turf. He stood up and grabbed Ellie's hand. "C'mon."

They lay there together on the grass until the sun finally stopped their shivering, Ellie's head on Joel's shoulder.

"This is weird," she said finally.


"Lying on the grass naked. It feels good, but it's weird. Like we're in the Garden of Eden, or something." She traced a line down Joel's sternum with her fingers.

Joel laughed. "You gonna tempt me now?"

She trailed her hand lower, to where Joel's member was just stirring to life again. He felt himself swelling beneath her hand.

"Oh, yeah," she breathed.

Joel moaned and pressed his head back into the grass as she bent over him and took him into her mouth, squeezing his base in her fist at the same time. It felt so good that he wanted to return the favor, but he didn't want her to stop what she was doing. "Turn around," he panted.

Her mouth left his cock. "What?"

"Get on top of me and turn around," he repeated. "I want to taste you."

Ellie gave him a heated look and wasted no time clambering onto his chest, and Joel was treated to the sight of the firm white globes of her ass spreading to reveal her wet and engorged labia underneath as she tipped her hips and pushed herself back toward his face. She moaned as his lips met her slick flesh, and then she bent forward to take him in her hot mouth again. In this position, she was too short to get more than the head of his cock into her mouth, but at this point Joel didn't care. His mouth was flooded with her sweet juices, and he held onto her hips to control her movements as she slid herself across his face, grinding her clit onto his chin.

He felt her thighs begin to shake, and the movements of her hips and her mouth became more and more erratic until finally she moaned around his cock and his mouth was flooded with a rush of fluid as she panted and shook above him. He lapped up as much of her juices as he could, sucking the elastic lips of her labia into his mouth, loving the taste and feel of her against his lips.

Ellie collapsed with her cheek on his thigh, and he could feel her hot, panting breath on his erect cock. He was so hard now, it hurt. He rocked his hips involuntarily, needing to feel some kind of friction around him, and she laughed breathlessly.

"Hold your horses, cowboy. You'll get yours." She dragged herself upright and turned around so she was straddling his stomach, and bent over to kiss him. Her tongue plunged into his mouth and he knew she was tasting herself on him, his soaked beard and mustache smearing her own moisture onto her face as she kissed him. He groaned as the thought just made him harder.

Ellie raised her hips and ran herself up the hard length of him; she felt like velvet, soft and hot and so fucking wet Joel's head was starting to spin. When he felt her position herself so the tip of his cock just pressed against her tight entrance, he gasped her name and thrust up with his hips.

She immediately lifted herself up off of him and said, "Don't move."

Joel swallowed and nodded. "Okay."

She lowered herself down again, and Joel felt an agonizing sweet pressure as she enfolded first his head and then the top of his shaft. He was sweating with the effort of staying still, but as she slipped down around him like a tight, wet, glove, he couldn't stop another involuntary thrust of his hips.

Joel cried out in frustrated lust as she lifted herself off him again and said, "I said, don't fucking move." Her eyes were narrowed, but they gleamed with amusement and Joel could see by her smile that she was enjoying the way her body was making his react against his will.

It made him even more determined to control himself. He clenched his jaw and both fists and nodded again, and once more she started her slow, torturous descent onto his hard shaft.

Joel was shaking when her pelvis finally touched his, and his body was screaming at him like a toddler throwing a tantrum, but he kept himself still. His sense of triumph was marred a little by the involuntary moan that she ripped out of his throat when he bottomed out in her, but he thought he was holding his own until she squeezed him. He felt her muscles ripple around him from base to tip and suddenly he was pleading, the words falling from his lips like spilled water.

"Please, Ellie...Oh, god. Please…" His breath was heaving in his chest and sweat streamed into his eyes, and he hazily thought to himself that he'd never begged a woman to let him fuck her before. "Oh, fuck…" She had planted her palms on his chest and squeezed him again. Joel didn't know how much longer he could control himself.

"Okay." He looked up at her face, and saw she was as flushed and hazy with desire as he was. He wasn't the only one riding the very edge of self-control. "You can move now."

With a growl, Joel put his hands on her hips and thrust himself up into her as hard as he could. Fuck, yes. She was so fucking tight and wet, and he could feel her juices dripping down to coat his balls. She moaned and ground herself back into him, rubbing her sensitive clit against his pelvic bone. She was fucking him fast and hard, and he was meeting her every movement. One of his hands left her hips and cupped a breast. She threw her head back in ecstasy when he rolled her nipple between his thumb and forefinger.

"Ohhhhh, Joel…"

God damn it. He could already feel his orgasm coming. He wasn't going to hold out much longer at this pace. "Ellie," he panted, "We need to slow down, or I ain't gonna last."

That just seemed to spur her on, her eyes glowing with lust. "I want to feel you come inside me, Joel."

"No." That wasn't going to happen. Joel rejected the thought, even as it made his cock jump and swell even harder.

Ellie had felt it. She looked down at him knowingly, without reducing her pace at all. "You want to. You want to come inside me."

"No," Joel said again, as he felt panic start to grip his chest. He couldn't. He couldn't risk getting Ellie pregnant. He couldn't risk having another kid. But his traitorous body had a mind of its own, and his hands went to her hips again and held her in place while he thrust wildly into her. He was right on the edge, but he was still controlling himself.

But then Ellie's eyes rolled up into her head and she pushed herself down onto him as deep as she could go, and she moaned his name so sweetly that the powerful, squeezing pulses of her orgasm were almost an afterthought; Joel lost the little control he had and felt the semen come boiling from his balls through the tip of his cock with such force that it hurt.

Ellie rolled off and lay on the grass beside him, giggling. "Oh, man. That was awesome."

Joel felt sick to his stomach. He sat up and gripped his knees.

After a few seconds, Ellie must have noticed the tension in his back, because she said, "Hey, what's wrong?" She sat up and reached out to touch his shoulder.

"That was really stupid, Ellie."

She snatched her hand back as if she'd been stung. "What?"

"You know what." He glowered.

She sighed. "Joel, it's fine. I know how to fucking count. I just had my period. Getting pregnant is the last fucking thing I want, all right? I just love feeling you...lose yourself like that in me. And I figured, why take that off the table?" Her voice grew thick and she sniffed. "I wouldn't have asked you if I didn't know if was safe."

Joel looked up at her face and saw with a pang that her eyes were tearing up. He reached out and took her hand and stared at her callused fingers, because that hurt less than the look on her face. "Sweetheart, I ain't...I can't deny...fuck. I'm sorry, Ellie. Just…" The idea of knockin' you up scares me more than just about anything I can think of. The idea of what a pregnancy might do to you makes me fucking cringe. The thought of bein' responsible for another child after what happened to Sarah…

He squeezed his eyes shut and tried again. "I don't know if I can ever get comfortable with...that...but I'll try. But we have to be really fucking careful about it." He knew from experience how easy it was to make one mistake, and it only took one to fuck up your whole life.

"Of course," she said. He saw the ghost of a smile on her lips. "You have to admit, that was pretty fucking awesome."

The tension in Joel's chest finally unwound, and he laughed. "I'll admit it. You are…" He pressed her back down to the grass and covered her mouth with his, kissing her until she was panting again. "...a really good fuck."

She snorted. "Wow. You do have a way with words. I bet that line's really popular with the ladies. How did you ever…"

He kissed her again.

"I guess that makes up for it," she said.

He laughed and just held her, taking time to enjoy the prickle of the grass against his skin, the quiet murmur of the water nearby, the songs of the birds who were going about their business as if ninety percent of humanity hadn't disappeared from the face of the earth, the sunshine warming his chest…

"Joel?" Ellie said.


"It's too fucking hot."

This is part of a series of stories set in the universe created in my full-length story, Cover Me Up. For a complete list of the series and links to stories, please see my author page.