AN: This story contains sex of the homo- and heterosexual kind. I apologize if this offends you.


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Venice Beach Stories

Jasper Comes into his Own

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"Hey."

It's not a question, it's a statement. It's 'goddamn, it took you long enough.'

"Hey," I say.

Her mouth is at mine, tongue at my lips, then it's in my mouth. I open up for her, let her come into me.

"God, you taste good."

She's got long, curly brown hair, but I don't put my hands into it. I pull away to slide the seat back and she slides over, her knees on either side of me.

Cherry - the car, not the girl – she smells like heaven. Old leather seats and petroleum, a little bit of smoke and a little bit of weed. Smells real. I take a breath and open back up for the girl.

She sinks down over me, grinding her tight wet hot onto my jeans. Does it hurt for girls? The zipper? Not from the way she's going at it.

"Do you feel that?"

"Unh," I grunt, and the girl makes another press of her hips to mine. This time, I press up, press back.

Her moan is high and soft. Her tits are high and firm, just like her ass, and her body is just soft and warm everywhere. But soft and warm and high and firm is not what I want.

I dig my fingers into her tits, then move them down to her back. There. A nice, anonymous back.

"I want this."

There are fingers now at my zipper, pressing against my cock through the thick denim. Then they're pulling at the button, then shoving inside. Warm, soft fingers. Tentative.

She slides off of me, and her fingers grip my cock all wrong. Not wrong. She's trying.

She pumps me once, twice, then lowers her head. She looks up at me, all wide blue eyes, and then she puts her mouth on me.

"Mmmm, fuck yes. Look at that."

I close my eyes and recline the seat back as far as it will go.

I don't want to watch, I just want to feel. And Jill? Well this girl's going at it like a champ. Except that it doesn't work.

Her mouth is full of bravado that she can't back up. She's going hard and fast, but she's only gripping the based with her thumb and forefinger. And she's not using her teeth, probably because some guy in the tenth grade told her it was scary and his pussy friends agreed. She licks around the tip, around the ridge, and then flicks her tongue into the slit, but it's a tentative little lick because she's afraid she'll hurt me.

She doesn't lick where she should, where it feels the best, because she doesn't know, and I'm not up for playing teacher.

I reach over and finger her beneath her skirt, under the panties.

Shit. She's gonna let me fuck her in my car.

On a side street.

A block from her house.

I start to feel sad for this girl, then sink my fingers into her hair and try to guide her motions. She gags once trying to take me too deep, so I pull her up, back to my mouth. Hot, soft lips. Hot, soft mouth.

I stroke my fingers against her, into the hot, soft inside of her. She's so ready.

A few seconds and a torn foil packet and I'm ready too. She slides over me, down onto me, and then I'm inside.

"Shit. Fuck."

"Is it, is this okay?"

"Oh, yeah."

"Fuck, yes. Just go slow."

I let her set the pace and she's hot and slippery wrapped around my cock. She picks up speed when I put my hands back on her tits. I close my eyes and let her fuck me.

Hard.

Yes.

"Harder…need you…so fucking…fuck yes."

Deep and hot and oh fuck, yes, so fucking tight and hard under my fingers. He's hard, hard muscle and dark skin and short hair that I pull, and salty skin that I lick as I fuck and fuck and—

"Oh, God, baby yeah, I'm gonna come. Make me come."

She's breathy and panting, and I look up at her, her face caught in that second before ecstasy breaks over her, transforming this trashy bar pick-up into a soft, beautiful girl.

I push up into her a little longer, but after that, it's no use. So I do what women have been doing since the discovery of the female orgasm: I fake it.

I grip her hips, thrust up, thrust harder, once, twice, thrice. I still and dig my fingers into her ass. I force a shiver up my spine and hold my breath, then release it with a quick shout.

From the way she's bent over me, kissing my cheeks and tangling her hair into my face, I'm guessing she bought it. Thank fuck for rubbers.

We straighten up, and I walk her to her door and leave her with a kiss. She leaves me with her number, which gets lost on the walk back to my car.

I pull Cherry out onto Highway 1, and head toward home.

Two hours, five beers, and four hundred red lights later, I'm nowhere near home. Nah, fuck that. I'm nowhere near my house.

Home is…someplace else.

I knock on the door, soft. It's late. I wait for a minute, wonder if he'll answer.

The porch light flicks on, and then there's a pause.

I hang my head. I have to stop doing this.

But then the door opens, and all I can see are warm, brown eyes, warm, dark skin. Short brown hair.

"Jas," he says, in the voice that won't leave my head.

"Hey Pete. You got a minute?"

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Peter lives in a Craftsman house. It's green and brown outside, and red and brown inside. He has Mission furniture and the whole place looks like he bought it out of a fucking magazine, right down to the funky bowl by the door where he dumps his keys and cell phone.

There are a couple of toys in a basket on the floor. It reminds me of why I shouldn't be here, but I can't stop myself. I'll go to his house, I'll look and not touch and when I leave, I'll hate myself a little bit more.

Pete cracks a couple of beers and we sit on his overstuffed leather sofa.

"Bad night?" he asks. He knows it is. He knows, he wants…and I can't.

I shrug. "Did a gig with My Italian Friends, over in Redondo."

"Yeah, how was it?"

He doesn't want to know. This is all I can give him, tattered and hazy and my balls ache from not getting off but I can feel that girl still on my skin, reminding me of who I really am.

A long, deep pull from the cold bottle in my hand saves me from having to answer.

He looks at his own bottle, shakes his head.

"You look like shit, J."

I laugh, the bitter sound too loud in the quiet room.

"Shit! Sorry," I say, keeping my voice low and glancing at the hall.

"She's…" He hesitates, and sighs. "She's with her grandparents for a couple of days."

"Oh." I swallow and take another swig of beer. It takes all I have to meet his eyes.

When I do look up, finally, I feel ashamed. I see kindness in his eyes, on his face. Not his scorn or contempt or even pity. I groan then, because there's no stopping me now, I need-

"Jasper." He's shaking his head no, and I reel back from his refusal, pressing myself away from him, further into the side of the couch.

"Not like this, man. Come on." He stands and holds his hand out to me, leads me to his bedroom, his bathroom.

"Shower up," he says, like he knows just where I've been tonight, and then I realize that he probably does, because let's face it, I'm a slut. Everyone knows that. He walks out of the room, leaving me with a clean towel.

I turn on the water and pull away my clothes. I put some toothpaste on my finger and run it through my mouth as I climb into the shower. The steam billows around me and I spit down the drain, rinsing from the shower head.

Picking up the bar of soap, I bring it to my face and am struck dumb for a moment by the overwhelming scent of him. Him.

I close my eyes and remember, him smiling up at me in his shower, lashes wet, mouth pink from mine, kissing and licking, biting his fat bottom lip. I pulled him in again and the water ran between us, got into our mouths and it was hot, watery sweet and so fucking good.

I look down and my cock is rock hard again, so I take the opportunity to wash the girl off of me. My hand on my dick feels good, and I wash a little more thoroughly than is necessary, but then a knock at the door startles me, and I take my hand off of myself and turn away, embarrassed.

"Some clean clothes on the counter," he says, and then I hear the door close again. I slump against the shower wall, the marble cold against my back.

What the fuck am I doing?

There's a moment of clarity through the boozy haze. I'll finish up and get the fuck out. I don't care if I end up sleeping on a side street or get picked up for a DUI. I need to get the fuck out of his life. I'm such a shit.

I rinse off, dry off, and get out of the shower. When I see the soft gray sweats and white t-shirt that he's left on the counter, my resolve flags, and becomes defeat.

I walk out of the bathroom in a cloud of steam. I'm still rubbing the towel over my head, trying to get the rest of the water, when I look up and see him, sitting on the edge of his bed. He stands and takes the towel from my hands, then reaches up to finger comb my hair. His hands are wary before they're sure, and I lean forward, pressing my head into his hands.

"That feels good," I say, and he sighs and drops his hands.

"Come on." He tugs on my hand and leads me to the bed. I'm boozy enough still to go without a second thought. I'm almost asleep standing up, and it feels so good, so fucking…right to let him lead me. To just give in.

He pulls back the blankets and slips off his jeans and socks. He's wearing boxer-briefs that cling to his legs and I want to slide my hand under them and feel him, hard muscles and soft skin, there under my palm. He keeps on his t-shirt and then slides back, making space for me.

"Just sleep," he says, as I climb in. He pulls me against him, lays us on our sides, and curls himself around me. There's no soft stroke of skin, no quiet kiss goodnight, but I don't care. I'm asleep before I can wonder why.

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In the morning, I'm slow to wake up. It's not until the scent of food – coffee and bacon – invade my dreams that I realize where I am. The night before comes back in a blur of booze and desperation. I can't fucking believe I showed up here. I can't fucking believe he let me in.

The last three times I'd come by, Peter'd left me standing on the front porch. He'd used Charlotte, his kid, as an excuse, but we both knew the deal. He won't take what I have to offer, and I can't give him what he wants.

I wonder why last night was different as I climb out of bed and walk toward his kitchen. There's weak sunlight burning through the cloud cover, but it doesn't hurt my eyes like it normally would. I'm not as hung over as usual, and it feels like a relief, not to have the nausea and headache for a change.

I'm still thirsty as hell though, so I watch him at the stove for a few minutes before I clear my throat.

"Glass of water?" I ask, before he turns around. I take a minute to stare.

He's wearing jeans and a light green sweater, and it brings out the bits of pale green in his eyes. He gestures with the spatula toward the cupboard – like I don't know where the glasses are. I take a seat at the bar and watch him cook: the lean lines of his back flexing beneath the sweater, the way he bounces on the balls of his feet when he's impatient, waiting for the pancakes to cook.

It makes me think of the first time I sat here, the first morning after. It makes me think about the first time I fell in love.

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I stretch my neck and arms, both feeling tight after too much band practice. I get why Paul pushes us, and I like it. But I've got part-time gigs in two other bands, and I do a little studio work on the side, so it's only natural that my body tightens up some times.

Peter laughs and my eyes slide his way. He's twirling a drumstick and wearing a faded-out Stones shirt. It's tight across his chest, like he's grown since he got it, and given his age, he probably has. I watch his fingers, long fingers, as they lace across the stick, and the mental image of them on my body makes me look away.

It's our last practice for three weeks. Paul's got some art show in New York, and February's dead for the club scene anyway. I have two gigs in the next two weeks, but other than that, my schedule's clear. I'm thinking about maybe heading up to Big Sur for a while. I haven't been in years, and I feel itchy – I need a change of pace.

"J, you coming?"

I look over at Jared, our lead guitarist. "Heading over to Malloy's. You coming?"

I finish packing up my bass and give him a nod. Malloy's has good food and cheap beer. It has the added benefit of hot waitresses and being stumbling distance from home. The other guys are getting organized and getting ready to head out, so I lock the bass in Cherry's trunk and join them.

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Five hours later, the bar's closing and I'm wrecked. Chelsea, the new blonde waitress, has been running her hand up my thigh all night. I need to decide if I'm sticking around to fuck her, or if I'm going to bed alone tonight. Six months ago, it wouldn't have been a fucking question. Six months ago I would have already fucked her in the men's room, but six months ago, he showed up and now every time I put my dick in a girl, I'm pushing back thoughts of him.

His skin is light brown and his hair is dark, curly. His fingers are long and elegant and banged up to hell, but when he twirls a drumstick, I can't take my eyes off of them. When he laughs, his whole face lights up and when he's serious, his tongue sticks out and he bites the tip, making his full lips pout out while he gets a little furrow between his eyebrows. He makes me think things – bad things, so I try to keep my eyes off of him.

I walk – using that term loosely – to the men's room. I'm leaning to the side as I piss, half-tired, half-drunk. Part of me wants to fuck the thoughts of him right out my head with Chelsea, but the other part….

I zip up and turn to go, but stop. And stare.

He's there, right behind me, and his eyes are asking questions that I can't answer. I'm straight. He knows that. Why is he looking at me that way?

He takes a tentative, half-step forward, but wobbles it. Fuck, he's just as drunk as I am, maybe more. He pitches forward and I reach out to catch him, and the moment I touch him, it's over.

I right us and push him up against the wall. My hands are on his shoulders and I grind my cock up against him before I suck his bottom lip into my mouth. There's no pretense, no softness, no sweet words meant to separate him from his clothes.

This is sharp and needful. I'm kissing him, sucking his tongue and biting his lips, and he's arching his back, pushing out his chest, trying to get into me like I'm trying to get into him.

I break from his mouth and attack his neck, licking and sucking, hands pulling his ass forward, pushing his hips into mine.

"Yes," he whispers. "Fuck, yes." He runs his nose under my ear and then his mouth, hot mouth, hard teeth, are on my neck. "Don't go home with her," he whispers. "Go home with me. Go home with me."

I groan because, fuck, yes. I want to. I want that. I want him in a bed, spread out before me. I want him up against the wall and wet in the shower and sucking my cock on his knees, looking up at me through too-long lashes.

I'm about to say yes when I hear voices in the hall. Sounds like Paul yelling to someone. I push away, push him away, and dive for the sink. When Paul walks in I'm washing cold water over my face. When I look up, Pete's gone.

"Jesus Christ, Jas. You okay?"

I look up at his reflection in the mirror, avoiding my own.

"Yeah, man. I'm good. Just cleaning up before I head out."

"You sure you're good to drive? You can crash at my place." He pauses. "I think Chelsea lives just around the corner and, dude, she's looking like she wants some company."

I smirk at him because that's what they expect. Jasper the man-slut who fucks any and every decent chick that blinks twice at him.

Drying my hands and face, I don't make eye contact. I hear his zipper lower and that's my cue. When I walk out, the place is nearly empty. Chelsea's packing napkins into holders. Jared's leaning over the Jukebox and Peter…Pete's gone.

Jared and Paul leave next, and I have Chelsea putting her hand on my hip as she moves across the table to take the napkin holder.

"You sure you're okay to drive?" she asks. "My place is just a few blocks away." The last part is a half-whisper, and if I had to guess, I'd say she's just a nice girl looking for a nice guy, but doing it all wrong.

"Nah," I say. "Early practice in the morning. I gotta go."

She gives me a soft smile and I tug the end of her ponytail. I grab my leather jacket and walk out the front door. I light a smoke and head to my car. When I look up, Peter's leaning against the hood.

I look at him and drop the match.

"You're not going home with her," he says.

I shake my head and exhale.

"Come on. We can get a cab the next block over."

It's easy to follow him and not think about what comes next. It's easy to follow him and not think about the consequences, the repercussions. What it means.

The cab ride to his place is long and quiet. I sit beside him, staring out the window. I'm wound tight. I'm ready to tell the driver to stop, to let me out but there in the back, without even looking my way, Peter's pinky strokes against mine. It's nothing – the smallest touch. But what it sparks inside of me? I can't let that go.

When we get to his place, the cab fare's over sixty bucks. I hand the cabbie a fifty and Peter makes up the rest. Without a word we walk to his door, and suddenly my stomach feels tight, feels wrong. God, if my family knew. If my father could see me. The shame starts creeping out, from my gut, but before it can take hold, Peter's there.

He grabs my hand as he comes up behind me. "Stop thinking."

I want to, but how?

As soon as we walk through the front door, and he closes it behind me, he shows me how. Shows me with his mouth against mine, his fingers tugging up my shirt, calloused hands on my skin. He groans, low in his throat and pushes his hips into mine.

"Wanted you to fuck me since the first time I saw you," he whispers. "Tell me you're gonna fuck me."

His words and my want become the only thing I'm aware of. I pull off his shirt, and he drops to his knees, breathing hot air against my cock through my jeans.

When he unbuttons and unzips and pulls me out, I'm panting.

"Oh, god, you're perfect." He takes me into his mouth, slow, easy licks, tongue everywhere on me and fingers stroking my balls. I lean up against the wall as he takes me deeper and deeper. My short nails dig for purchase against the drywall, and when I look down, he's looking up at me, big eyes that are green and brown, girl lashes, and I stare because it's unreal. My body is engulfed in pleasure and my brain can only see him, watch him as he's watching me. It's like a fantasy happening in my head and in reality, all at the same time.

He pulls his mouth off of me and I make a small, sad noise.

"If I suck you off now, are you still gonna play?"

Suck me off…I…fuck.

I nod because, fuck, I want that, so bad. I want him to suck me off, let me shoot into his mouth. My balls tighten when he goes back in. Then he closes his eyes and in less than a minute I come and my knees try to give and I thrust my shoulders against the wall and my hips into his mouth and it's like blacking out because for moments or minutes there's nothing but perfect.

When I can think again, feel again, he's still got my cock in his mouth but his hands are against my hips, pinning them to the wall. His mouth is so warm and wet, his tongue swirling around my softening cock, and he tongues the slit, sucking out every last bit of my cum.

"Shit."

"I know. I've wanted to do that for so fucking long, Jasper."

He pulls off my pants and then my shirt and takes my hand, leading. We end up in his bedroom, and I reach for him, I want him, so much. I'm scared I'll disappoint him, because I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, I only know that I want.

He falls onto the bed and I follow. I follow his lead.

He turns on his side and starts kissing, up my neck, down my chest, but I want his mouth on mine, so I pull at him and he comes to me.

"I didn't know if it would freak you out," he says, and I realize that he gets some things about me. That he gets that this isn't me. Not really. I'm not gay.

But if I'm not gay, what am I doing here?

His mouth is good, sweet and salty, and before long he's naked underneath me, rubbing his cock against mine while I fuck his mouth with my tongue. He's making small sounds in the back of his throat and clutching my ass, pulling me closer. The kiss stretches out and then he pulls away, turns over.

"Don't," I say, and turn him back over.

I don't want him to come where I can't see it. I want to see it.

"Condom?"

He points to the nightstand and I pull out lube and a condom. I roll it on and lube up, then pour some over his cock, his balls, watch it drip down to his ass. I stroke him there once, twice, and he looks up at me through heavy-lidded eyes.

"The way you look at me sometimes," he says. "Makes me so fucking hard."

I stroke his cock with my lubed-up fingers. "Like this?"

"Fuck."

I start to rub against his hole. I'm grateful for the blow-job, because without it, I'd be jizzing into the rubber by now.

Pete spreads out before me. He tips his pelvis up and rubs his ass against my cock. I figure maybe it's better to let him lead, let him come to me.

"I want this," he says, and pushes himself onto me, just a little though, just the tip. "Have you, before?"

I nod and feel like a stupid kid. "Uh, fuck, a couple of times." Two nights that I can barely remember, half lost in a cloud of booze and pot, with guys I knew I'd never see again. With guys. Two nights that saw me scrubbing my skin in the morning under scalding water, trying to wash the shame off, knowing it wouldn't work.

He groans and presses against me and I can't help it, I press back.

"Is this okay?" I ask. I'm leaned over him and it's physically painful not to buck into him, hard. I want to hear the sounds he makes when I do. I want to taste his breath when he comes, see what he looks like.

"Oh, fuck. Yes. Just…go slow."

I do, and he does, and then the backs of his thighs are on the tops of mine and I'm all the way inside. I pull on his hips, pull him up for a better angle, and start to move. I go slow, like he asked. So slow and easy and it feels like nothing else. Hot, tight, fuck, god, he's so tight.

He squirms under me and pushes back, his fingertips resting against my thighs. It's not long before he's gripping them, and I lean forward, chest to chest, trying to get in deeper.

"Harder," he says, panting the word. "Fuck me harder, I need-"

I thrust into him deep and interrupt his words.

"Yes, shit!"

His hand snakes between us and that can't be right. I want to make him come. Me.

I rise up and brush his hand away, taking his slick cock in my hand. Fuck, he's throbbing and I stroke him hard and I keep time with my cock inside of him and when he comes it's clenched eyes and bared teeth and a groan and he's throbbing around me, so much tighter, pulsing and I can't think anymore. I come, hard, so fucking hard, and it feels like everything bad in me drains away, until I'm left with nothing but good, nothing but the best.

My face is in the crook of his neck, and he smells so good. Spice and man and fresh cut grass. His arms come around and he…he just holds me. Strokes my back and it feels nice, good. Feels like I want to stay.

We stay that way until I realize the condom will be a problem. I pull out and away I already wish I was back there in his arms.

"Hurry back," he says. I do, and when I come back to bed, he wraps himself around me and kisses the back of my neck. I don't think I've ever cuddled before in my life, but if this is what it's like, I can see why chicks dig it. Pete brings his arm up under mine, pulling me in tight, close to him, and the last thought I have is how this is the best I've ever felt in my life.

In the morning there's coffee and pancakes and bacon and eggs. He's barefoot and in jeans, no shirt. I greet him by licking my way up his spine. He turns to me and the pancakes get cold and the eggs burn and the tile floor is cold, but it's good, so good.

I don't question what tomorrow or the next day will bring. I don't question what will happen when I walk out of his door. I just know that, for now, being here with him? It's good. It's better than good. And for the first time in a long time, I'm happy.

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"Where's Charlotte?" I ask, as he flips a pancake onto a plate in the oven.

"With my folks for a few days. They miss her." As he says it, I catch a memory-echo and realize he's already told me this.

Peter's only sexual encounter with a girl ended with him knocking her up. She wanted to give the baby up for adoption, but he'd begged her to let him raise it. He swears the day Charlotte was born was the happiest day of his life, and he's so good with her. She's got long, curly red hair and eyes that are a hundred shades of blue. But when she smiles, it's all Pete.

I don't say anything, just stare into my coffee cup.

He reaches out to me, puts his hand on top of mine. He's four years younger than me, but a fuck of a lot older.

"Jasper, what's going on with you?"

I can't bring myself to look into his eyes. I shrug and think about how I need to get in the car and get home.

A huff of air, coffee scented and sweet, hits me when he sighs. His fingers tighten on mine and he holds my hand until I finally look him in the eye, and that's when I'm lost. They're not green and they're not brown, and sometimes they're olive and sometimes amber but always, always, they see right through me.

"It's okay to want-" he starts, but I'm already shaking my head. Because, no, it's not.

"I don't. I can't."

"No? Then what are you doing here?"

I shrug. "Hung out at Panama Joe's after the gig. Too drunk to drive home."

I can take the lie and I can take myself away from him, but what I can't take is his disappointment. The look in his eyes, knowing that I've hurt him. Again.

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For the last three weeks it's been just me, and just him. We walk to the shore and have drinks at the bar, or take out Mexican food, and no one looks twice at a couple of guys together because this is Long Beach and that's just how it is. Still, I don't hold his hand and we don't kiss and I guess it's obvious he's gay, we've all always known, but when I realize people might think I'm gay, I get a little itchy.

He doesn't say anything about it. He knows – he has to know – that this isn't my usual scene. That I'm not that guy.

The night before our next band practice, we hang out at Peter's house. It's a nice house on a tree-lined street in the best neighborhood. It was his grandparents' house and his parents gave it to him so that they could be close to Charlotte. That kid might not have a mother, but she doesn't lack for love.

He challenges me to a round of Rock Band, with the caveat that I take drums, and he takes bass. I agree and an hour later we're both cracking up at how the game messes with our muscle memory, our musical instincts. We each have a few beers and I pack a little weed into the pipe he's got stashed in his medicine cabinet. When the high hits me and I start to float, I pull him to me and he climbs onto my lap.

His hair is unruly, curly brown-black and I put my fingers into it, pulling him down for a kiss. When our mouths touch, it does something to me. It makes me high, higher, knowing that he lets me do this, knowing that he lets me do everything. His mouth is warm and smooth and his stubble scrapes against mine. I tip my head back on the couch and his hands are under my shirt, his short fingernails scratching against my skin, like he knows I like it.

He slides down, parting my knees and then pulls off my jeans. Nestled between my legs, he gazes up at me and I can't help but get lost in him, his adoration. He takes me into his mouth and starts sucking. I place my hand on his head, not pushing, just resting, and lean back.

I'm startled when I feel his finger at my entrance, and my eyes pop open, looking at him.

"Trust me," he whispers against my cock, before taking it back into his mouth. I do trust him. I try. I try to relax, like I've felt him do, so that he can…do that.

Before long, I'm distracted by the rhythm he's building on my cock. Smooth, slow, suck, lick. Fast down, slow up. I thrust my hips and his finger goes deeper. I thrust again and before I know it, I'm fucking his mouth and his finger, and it feels…it feels wrong and incredible and dirty and so fucking good, oh shit, so fucking good.

His finger inside of me hits a spot and with one more pass of his mouth, I'm coming. I'm coming hard and fast, like it's being yanked out of me, like I can't breathe.

I'm panting hard when I look at him he's got a half-smirk on his face and I want to kiss it off.

"Fuck."

"Yeah." His grin becomes cocky. "I knew you'd love it."

"Jesus Christ, what was that? It was like you fucking…pushed a button."

He grins. "I did. Now come on, and return the favor."

So I do.

The next morning, I tell him I'll meet him at Paul's. I take myself home and I get into the shower, washing him off of me. Closing my eyes, I press my face against the cool of the tile, wishing that the water streaming down my face was the tears that I won't let myself cry.

I'm not a fucking pussy – I'm a man. And men don't fuck other men. The Major, my father, he drilled that into me from the time I could remember. "Stop being a pussy," he'd say. "Marines don't cry. What are you, a faggot? Go play with your sister. Go play with the girls."

I punch my hand against the wall and relish the sting. Whatever that was, whoever I was these last few weeks, I'm not that guy anymore. I am Jasper fucking Whitlock. I like pussy and the soft sounds that a woman makes and the way they smell and tonight, I'm going to prove it.

I get out of the shower and do what I need to do.

.

When I get to Paul's place, I'm scrubbed clean. I stood under the hot water until my skin turned red and even now, it's still a little pink. I unpack my bass and plug in, dicking around until the rest of the guys show up. Until the last guy shows up.

He hurries in, pulling his sticks from his back pocket while also running a hand through his hair. It's damp and from where I'm standing I can smell it, and the smell brings back so much, too much, so many moments in his shower and in his bed and I start coughing, choking on the smell and the bile in the back of my throat.

Pete walks over and lays his hand on my back. He doesn't pound, he soothes and I fight back a fucking sob because it feels so goddamned good.

Instead, I twist away from him. My eyes tell him to fuck off as I say, "I'm cool, I'm cool." I sit down on the stool and ignore Peter's wounded look and strum the intro to Seven Nation Army, because that's what Paul wants to practice next.

When we're done, Paul wanders off to take a call from his manager, looking tense as fuck as he does it. Jared packs up and is gone before I can blink, and Pete's just…lingering.

I pack up the bass and sling it across my back and turn to leave.

"Jas!"

His voice halts me in my tracks.

"You wanna-"

I turn to him, and I can see the hope on his face and it fucking – it hurts. "I'm busy."

He can't miss the way I'm looking at him, telling him to fuck off in every way but with words.

He sucks a breath at my look, then his shoulders drop. "Char won't be back for three days."

I shrug.

"I thought…."

I walk over to him and lean in close. "I know what you thought. But I'm not a fag, so get over it."

A second later, as if on cue, Tiffany walks in.

"Jasper?"

"Hey there, darlin'." I take her into my arms and kiss her neck while giving him a smirk. I walk out with Tiffany and lead her to my car. We're going to get fucked up and then I'm going to remind her of what it means to be good and truly fucked.

As I drive off, I congratulate myself on a job well done. Whatever Peter might have thought was going on, well, the record's straight now. I did everything right. I cleaned up my mess.

That night, as Tiffany sucks my cock, I try not to think about him. I try not to think about how good he felt, and I try not to think about how shitty this feels, but when I finally come, it's because I was thinking of him and then I try not to think about how bad that makes me feel.

.

Peter slides a stack of pancakes over to me and I go through the motions. Add butter. Add syrup. Cut off a forkful and then stare.

The sound of a fork clattering against a plate pulls me out of myself. Pete's staring at me and I stare back. My fingers twitch to touch him, and I reach for his hand, but he pulls away and stares at his plate.

"Do you want to talk?" he asks.

I shake my head and shove a forkful of pancake into my mouth. Definitely not.

"Is it…are you afraid of your family? I mean, my parents are great about it now, but…back then, they kind of acted like it was the end of the world." He pauses and fixes me with those green-brown eyes, eyes that have so much…God, is that pity? "They'll get over it, you know."

He reaches out to touch my hand, and I feel like the biggest piece of shit. The things I've said to him…the nights I've shown up at his house, drunk and all but begging for him to touch me, only to tell him to fuck off in the light of day.

I just shake my head at him. I know what he's saying, what he's asking me. He wants me to know that he'll stand by me. That…that he'll help me come out.

But I can't…Jesus. My mind revolts at the thought.

He sighs, and I see him pull himself up: his spine straightens and his fingertips push the plate away, only a centimeter, but I know it means he's done.

"She's six," he says. "She's six years old, and she sees everything. And it's my job to show her how everything works, to teach her."

I nod, not really sure where he's going, but glad to hear him speak.

"So what am I showing her here? I can't show her how a man treats a woman. I can't show her that kind of relationship, but I want to be able to show her what it looks like to love someone, J. And what would I be showing her with this?" He finally looks me in the eye, gesturing between us.

I take his meaning like a fist in the gut. He's right. He can't show her that love is a shameful thing, a midnight, too-drunk-to-drive thing, because it's not.

"She deserves better," he says, pulling me out of my head. He raises his eyes to mine, and I know what's coming, because it's true, absolutely true. "And so do I."

He pushes away from the table. "Your clothes are in the dryer. You can leave those on the washer," he says, gesturing to what I'm wearing.

"Don't – I'm asking you as a friend, J. Don't come back."

He walks out of the room and everything inside of me hurricanes up. Blood and nerves and guts and emotion, all twisting and storming around until I'm lost in the fury.

Don't come back.

.

I'm hanging out in Paul's back yard, practicing for the gig we have coming up this weekend. Everyone's there but Peter, who's running late. In the times that we've seen each other over the last few weeks, we've been like we always were – friendly and cordial but not buddies. We talk to each other out of necessity, and it feels wrong to laugh where he can see me. It feels wrong to laugh period.

Like I've conjured a ghost just thinking of him, he walks through the door.

"You guys, you gotta come see this." He beckons us to the kitchen window, and we all look out onto the front street.

Edward is holding his bike steady from the back while Bella sits on it, her hands on the handlebars. He reaches over to her, showing her how to twist her wrist. She turns to look at him and lets go of the brake, making the bike scoot forward. Edward leaps up to grab it, grab her, the bike stalls, and the whole thing almost topples over. She looks up at him, contrite, and he fists both hands in his hair. I watch him collect himself for a moment, then reach over and grab the key from the ignition.

She ducks her head down and he kisses the top of it, and then situates her back on the bike, kickstand down, motor off.

"Motherfucker," I say. "He won't even let me ride that thing."

"Yeah, but you're not her," Paul says, jerking his thumb in their direction. There's a look on his face that I can't place, something naked and raw that hits me in the gut.

"Shit," Jared says. "Cullen's gonna kill her if she drops it."

"Nah," Peter says. "They'll be fine."

He and Paul exchange a look that I can't read. "Besides," Pete says. "It's kind of cute."

"God, you're such a fag," Jared says.

"Fuck you, pussy-eater," Pete says, and charges him, until they both end up wrestling around on the ground, laughing.

Paul and I pile on, and the four of us end up a sweaty, laughing mess on the floor. We joke with Pete about being gay sometimes, and he jokes with us about fucking girls, and it's all okay, because when some guy mouthed off at a gig about Pete being gay, Jared was the one to throw the first punch.

At one point while we're wrestling, I have my hands on his skin, and I feel my whole body react. Even though I can't see him, I know it is him, and I excuse myself to the bathroom before anyone can see that my dick is hard.

I stand over the sink, splashing cool water over my face and neck, and realize that I'm jealous. I'm jealous of Edward and his girl, living their lives right out loud like that, where anyone can look over and see, from the look on his face, that he's in love with her. Where anyone can see that she loves him back.

I push off the sink, make my excuses to Paul and the guys and get the fuck out of there. I can admit what I want, if only to myself, but there's no way for me to have it, so it might as well not exist.

.

Three days later Rose walks through my front door. She's got her hair tied up on top of her head and I can tell by her posture that she is pissed. She stands in the center of the room and looks around. There are two cases-worth of empty beer bottles, an empty bottle of Jack, an empty of Goose and a half-empty bottle of rum on the coffee table.

"Are you fucking kidding me? This is such bullshit."

She walks over to me, hauls me off the couch and walks me into the bathroom. "You wasted?"

"Hung over," I whisper. Her voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

"Get in," she says, gesturing toward the shower.

I reach over and turn on the faucet, letting the water warm up.

"You smell like shit," she says, and walks out, slamming the door behind her.

When I come out of the shower, I'm clean and feel a little better, but the smell of eggs would still make me puke.

Rose has cleaned up the living room; there's no trace of the bottles, and the windows are all open, a breeze sweeping the stink of my pity party out of the house. She's wearing bright yellow rubber gloves, and there are two bags of trash next to the front door.

She's still furious. She sees me staring and pitches my cell phone at me.

"Forty-three missed calls, you asshole."

She turns around and goes back into the kitchen, yanking open the fridge and tossing shit into the trash.

"Paul's ready to fire your ass. I told him we had a family emergency."

She opens a carton of milk and reels back from the stench.

"Edward and Emmett came over here last night and you were passed out on the couch with your front door unlocked."

Chuck, chuck, chuck. Three more things hit the trash can, each with a loud thump.

"Anyone could have just walked in and-" Her voice wavers just a little, and she pitches something that might have been lettuce, once, into the trash. It hits with a soft, sickly thud.

"What the fuck, Jasper?" She turns to me and her eyes are blazing. They're bright with tears that she hasn't let go, and I can see she's almost shaking with anger.

I might be an asshole, but I know my baby sister. The only time she's angry is when she's scared.

I walk toward her slowly, because one off move and she'll throw something at me.

"I'm sorry," I say, looking her in the eye.

By the time I reach her and wrap myself around her, I'm crying and so is she. We slump to the floor and I let my little sister hold and rock me, comforting us both.

"I'm sorry," I whisper. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I know what she saw when she walked in – the same thing we saw when we were kids – our father passed out on the couch, empties all around him after he'd gone on a bender. Our mother would rush us out of the house, and we'd stay away all day, until we couldn't avoid it any longer. Sometimes he'd clean up and when we walked in, everything was fine. Other times…other times there were fights. Thrown objects. Tears. Me and Rose, hanging onto each in my bedroom, my back up against the wall, holding her tight to my chest, promising it would all be okay.

We never talked about those times, not as a family, and not between the two of us. We just survived them and then tried to put the memories away.

"You can't do this to me, Jasper. You can't, God, please don't be like him."

"I'm not. I'm not, I promise. I won't. I won't do it again."

"You can't. You can't. Please."

I hold her closer and we cry ourselves out, clinging together. When we finally stand, stiff and sore, legs cold from the kitchen tile, I realize that for the first time, she has held me. Her back up against the wall. Her arms keeping me safe.

The knowledge shakes me, shakes something loose inside of me.

Rose leads me to the living room and pushes me down on the sofa.

She sits on the coffee table opposite me and doesn't say a word. She waits.

I don't know where to start, so I start with the obvious. "I'm so fucked up, Li-li. I fucked it all up. You're…I'm so sorry." I use my childhood nickname for her, and it dawns on me that I haven't called her that in a really, really long time.

I don't even know what I'm apologizing for, or who I'm apologizing to. Everything in me hurts, from the inside out, and all I want is for something to work, something to be right. Real.

Rose takes my hand and leads me to the bathroom. Fog clings to the edges of the mirrors and the air is warm and humid.

She holds me in front of the mirror, and then steps to the side.

Eyes the same shade as mine stare at me. Blonde hair, the same color as mine, frames her face.

"You see this," she says, her fingers gesturing to her eyes.

I nod.

"You're my blood, Jasper. I may not always like you, but I'm the one who will always love you best." She stares into my eyes a beat longer. "No matter what."

I bow my head and she takes my hand in hers, laces her fingers through mine.

"There's nothing you could break that you can't fix." Her fingers squeeze mine.

"I..." I swallow hard and my mind rattles off all the things I could say.

I fell in love with a man.

I hurt someone and I don't know how to make it right.

I hurt myself, and I need him to fix me.

I need him.

I'm gay.

The last one makes my heart beat hard. Am I gay?

I start to panic, and Rosie's fingers squeeze mine again, and she turns into me, putting her arms around me again.

"It's okay," she says. "I promise, it's okay."

With her face in my neck, she can't see me, and I whisper the words that have been rattling around in my head, in my fucking veins, for weeks now.

"I think I'm in love with Peter, and I don't think he wants me."

Rose doesn't say anything. She doesn't hold her breath or gasp, and she doesn't hold me tighter or push away. I wonder if she heard me at all.

"Li-li?"

"And?"

I push from her grasp. "And?"

She waits for me with open, curious eyes. "And…?"

I stare back at her and don't understand.

"And what? Li-li, I said I'm fucking in love with a guy. A guy!"

"I thought Peter was gay, right?"

"Yeah. Yeah, he is."

"But he doesn't want you? You've…you've talked?"

I can't hide the sarcastic smile on my face. "Yeah. Sort of."

"Sort of?" She asks the question and then turns and walks away, toward the living room. I stop by the fridge, but I'm out of beer. So I'm doing this dry. No. I'm doing this, with my baby sister, hung over.

"We, uhm, we had a thing, I guess."

Shit. Now I'm telling her about fucking a guy. Shit.

"And he broke up with you? Is that it?"

"No. I mean – I can't – I can't be gay."

And now I get the look. The look she saves for stray cats and Emmett when he is, in her words, uncouth.

"Babe, I don't think you get a choice on that one. If you like dick, you like dick. Believe me, I know."

"Yeah?" I cock an eyebrow at her. That sounds like a story.

"Let's just say I experimented after Royce."

"That cumstain."

"Yeah."

We were both quiet then, remembering the worst days of her life.

"No one who loves you gives a fuck if you're gay. You know that, right?"

"But the Major…"

"The Major was a fucking asshole and I hope he's rotting in hell. He talked so tough about being a man, but how many men do you know who hit women?" I suck in a breath because no one – no one – has ever talked about our father that way.

"You. What you did for me, what Edward did for me? That takes a real man. If it wasn't for you, I…I never would have given Emmett a shot. You are a real man."

I shake my head at her and she holds my face in her hands.

"No one who loves you gives a fuck if you're gay. Now, you might not be ready to be who you are, but the people who love you? We're going to love you no matter what."

I lean my forehead against hers. "I love you, Li-li."

"Love you too, babe. Can we order Thai food? I'm really hungry." Rosalie pats her stomach and like that, everything is right again. Everything is normal. I start to relax.

.

The next day I'm supposed to show up at band practice. Instead, I call Paul and let him know I'm out. I can pick up enough gigs with other guys, even some studio work, that I don't need the paycheck – it mostly pays in beer, anyway.

I don't want to do this – quit – but I have to. I'm all kinds of fucked up, and being around Peter is only going to make it worse. The last time I walked out of a bathroom zipping my pants with some girl behind me wiping her mouth…I never want to see that look on his face again. I just can't.

I'm trying to watch the Rangers game when Emmett shows up.

"So Rosie says you're a fag."

Emmett walks into my apartment and heads straight for the fridge.

"Yeah, well she says you have a small dick."

"Fuck you."

"You fucking wish."

Emmett walks out of the kitchen, beer in his hand, grinning. "Sorry man, I'm not into kinky twin shit unless it's with two chicks."

I shake my head and roll my eyes. I've spent the last three days terrified of what my friends might think. I've envisioned big "coming out" scenes. I watched Reality Bites a half dozen times before I realized that it was stupid and vapid and kind of before my time.

PFLAG. Jesus.

"Seriously though. You're…you want to be with Peter?"

I nod my head and don't look at him. I punch the volume button the game and take a swig of my beer.

Emmett tries to grab the remote from my hand, but I challenge him and he wrestles me for it. I'm gasping for breath, pinned beneath him – he's a big fucker – when I realize that this is normal. That nothing's changed. That he knows I want cock and he's not afraid to touch me.

He grabs the remote from my hand and sits back down on the couch, thumbing the volume down.

"You talked to him?" he asks.

I shake my head.

"Well, shit. Your sister? She was a pain in the ass."

He side-eyes me and I give him a warning look.

"No, really. She didn't want to have shit to do with me. It took me forever to wear her down, but eventually, I did."

He stops talking and drinks his beer, and we watch the game for a few minutes.

"Have you tried flowers?" he asks.

I shake my head. Fuck. Emmett McCarty giving me relationship advice. For a guy. We're pretty much pushing the outer limits on weird.

"Worth a shot," he says.

Then we watch the rest of the game. And everything's cool. Later, we go out for burgers and Edward and Bella meet up with us and they're cool too. It's like…no big deal. To anyone.

But me.

No matter how I try, I can't come to terms with the label: gay. I want…shit. I always imagined my life would someday have a wife, and a couple of kids. I always thought I'd be a dad, and do it better, do it right.

Now? I just don't know.

.

Five months later, I'm parked at the corner of his street, watching his house. I feel like a fucking stalker. I kind of am.

I watch as a Saturn SUV pulls up to the front of the house, and people my parents' age, maybe a little younger, get out. Twenty minutes later, they're back at the car, with a pink suitcase. They load Charlotte into the toddler seat and drive away.

I listen to three songs by hipster bands on the radio, and then commercials come on. I can keep watching and really be a stalker. Or, I can get out of the car and talk to the one person who can change my future.

I knock and wait and knock again. I ring the doorbell. He doesn't answer and it pisses me off. I'm not here to fuck up his life. I'm here to…I don't know…unravel mine.

I sit on his front steps and wait for him to open the door. Fucker can't stay in all weekend. Can he?

.

I'm leaning against the stucco of his front porch when the door opens. I hear him make a noise, then stumble back.

"Jasper?"

I stand, startled, and turn to him. I thrust the bouquet of flowers in my hand toward him.

"I knocked and rang the bell," I say, by way of explanation.

He runs a hand through still-damp hair. "I must have been in the shower."

I step forward, the cellophane of the flowers crinkles between us. "Is this a bad time?"

He opens his mouth to speak, and I say "I saw Charlotte leave." I hope it's not too creepy.

"What are you doing here?" he asks.

"I wanted to know if maybe…maybe I could take you out? Dinner? Or…?"

Peter bows his head and leans his hand against the doorframe. He's not letting me in, and he looks…weary. Wary. Really goddamned done.

"I didn't know if you'd want Charlotte to meet me, yet. I didn't know if you'd mind, so I waited until I saw her go. I didn't want to do this on the phone." My hand reaches for his face and he ducks away.

"Am I…? Shit, you probably want me out of here," I say. I turn to go and catch a whiff of the flowers in my hand. They smell sweet, like spring. Like fresh things, and I want more of that in my life. "Fuck it."

I turn to him and he takes a step back and I take a step forward. I take his face in my empty hand and I breathe against his mouth.

"I want you. I want this, and I don't care what that means to anyone but you and your kid." I kiss him then. It's not soft. I'm hard and demanding with my mouth, licking against his lips and when he opens his mouth to protest, I move my hand to the back of his head and hold him there. I touch his tongue with mine and he draws away. I follow, refusing to break the connection, and then he's backed up against the wall. I have to do this. It's my only shot at showing him – reminding him – of how good we can be, together. If he rejects me after this, at least I'll know I tried.

He's hard, rigid against me and then he gives in and instead of cringing away, he meets me. His mouth opens and his tongue pushes against mine, stroking soft and then hard. He runs his tongue along the backs of my front teeth and I push my dick into his.

"I'm sorry," I say. I move my mouth to his neck, and he pushes his head back against the wall. "I was so fucked up, and I'm so sorry."

I bring my hand up to his chest, thumbing his nipple and he groans. "Fuck, that's good."

I fill my hand with his ass while the other thumbs across his cheek. "You're not seeing someone?"

"No. Fuck."

"You're gonna go out with me?"

He nods, and I suck on his Adam's apple; his groan shoots up my spine.

I bury my head in the crook of his neck. "Do you…can you forgive me? Someday? I've been seeing someone." I'm trying to set his mind at ease, but he tenses all over and starts to push me away.

"Fuck! No, a counselor. I've been…I've been seeing a therapist. I want – I want to be good, for you." My desperation makes me stutter, and I'm so anxious, waiting on his reaction, that it's hard to look him in the eye. I'm so afraid of what I'll see.

But then the tension leaves his body and he sags against the wall. His arms come up around me, pulling me in, holding my face to his shoulder.

"Shit. Yes, Jasper. Of course I forgive you."

"Really?" I ask, and the word is a sob in my throat. I can't believe this. I can't believe he'd forgive me. I can't believe he'd take me back, after all the words, dressed like knives, that have fallen from my tongue. I can't believe he'd still have me.

He puts his hands against my shoulders and pushes me away. I search his eyes – the brown and green so full of…God, so full of warmth and trust and…and he still wants me.

He smiles, that easy, Peter smile, and I smile back, and then we're laughing, and I have tears in my eyes, and we fall to the floor, rolling around and laughing, grabbing at each other – skin and ass and cock and nothing else matters because of the smiles.

"I'm gonna fuck you silly," I say. "I have making up to do."

"God, you'd better."

"You can call me Jasper." I nip at his shoulder through his t-shirt and then smirk as his confusion gives way to understanding.

"You're not that good."

"Best you ever had."

"Goddamned right," he says, and licks the column of my neck. We rise to stand and he spins me and turns me so my back is against the wall, and then he pulls my arms up above my head and pins me with his hips.

He must be on his tip-toes, but it doesn't matter, because I'm right where I want to be.

"Yes," I whisper, I groan.

His fingers are under my shirt, short nails scratching my skin and in a moment, he's on his knees in front of me and it's wrong. It's wrong.

I push him away from me, his mouth already pushing against my dick, through my jeans.

"No, no."

He looks up at me with disappointment, fear.

I tug him up to stand next to me and then I turn him so that he's against the wall. The wariness returns until I fall to my knees before him.

"That wasn't right," I say. "This is right."

I'm on my knees. And I take his cock in my mouth. And I let him push into me, into my mouth, and I do all the things he does to me, all the things I like. And I slide my finger into my mouth and it rubs between my tongue and his dick. And I slip my finger out and press it into him, inside of him, and he groans and shakes, and I give him back everything, everything he's ever given me, and I give it back with pride.

I'm the one making him shake. I'm the one making him groan. And when he comes, pumping down my throat in salty spurts, well, I'm the one who did that, too.

"Jesus Christ," he says, sliding down the wall and into my lap. "How have we never done that before?"

"Was it okay?" I'm nervous. I've never sucked cock before.

"Fucking hell, Jasper. So much more than okay."

Then he sticks his tongue in my mouth, and I feel him licking me, licking inside of my mouth, tasting himself on my tongue. The idea of that, of him tasting himself on me, makes my cock so goddamned hard that I latch onto him and push up, grinding my cock into his thigh.

"I'm gonna take care of that," he says. "I'm gonna take care of you." I don't know how he means it, maybe he just means he's going to get me off, but it's hard to swallow at the idea of him taking care of me. The idea of someone taking care of me.

He stands on shaky legs and pulls me into his bedroom. I almost trip over one of Charlotte's toys, but instead, stub my toe.

"Motherbitch."

"You're gonna have to watch that shit when she's around," he says, and it feels good; he's taking me seriously.

"I will."

"I know."

We get into his room and he pushes me down on the bed.

"Take off your pants."

I comply, popping open the buttons and sliding them down my hips, past my thighs, until they're hooked around my ankles. Peter yanks them the rest of the way off, then slides up my body. He runs his nose along my cock, his tongue flicking out here and there, until he takes the head into his mouth and I arch up off the bed.

"I've missed this," he says, flicking his tongue into my slit. "A lot."

I flop back onto the bed, letting him do whatever he wants. When I feel his finger at my ass hole, I breathe deep and focus on how fucking good it felt the one time he did that before.

He takes me into his mouth, and I'm lost in sensation all over again. Lost, until I feel him pressing into me with his fingers. It's too much, too full, and I'm panting. I don't know if it feels good, but I like it.

It takes me a second, but I know what he's trying to show me.

"Yes," I gasp. "Yes, I want it. Do it." I pull him up to my mouth, and he kisses me hard, his fingers still inside of me.

"Yeah? You want me to – fuck – you want me to fuck you?"

I nod against his kiss and he moves away from me for a moment. When he comes back, there's cool lube on my cock and against my ass, and I freeze up.

"It's just me," he says, leaning over me, licking outside of my ear. "It's just me."

I like this. I like him taking for once. I like him taking from me.

He pumps my dick and rubs against my ass until I'm panting again. When he positions himself and pushes in, I freeze up. I can't move.

"Just me," he says, his mouth on my throat, teeth biting at soft flesh.

I try to relax, and I try to push back at him, but I'm afraid and tense, and it's too much.

He cuddles me – one hand tangled into my hair, the other under my ass. His chest is hard against mine, and I can feel him breathing. It's not hard. He's not…he doesn't feel like he's out of control. He feels good. Right.

I shift my hips so that I'm pushing onto him, and he stays still. The sound of our breathing echoes off the walls – mine, desperate and fast. His, slow and measured. If he wants this as bad as I do, he's not showing it.

"Easy," he whispers. "You have to want it."

"I do." I press a little further. "I'm yours."

We lay in a holding pattern for seconds or minutes or hours. I don't know. What I know is that I'm being opened up, pulled apart, fulfilled. What I know is that nothing before has ever equaled this.

When he's finally inside of me – all the way inside of me – I'm panting hard and begging. He takes my cock in his hand and begins to stroke, slow and steady, in time with the way he moves inside of me.

It's heaven. It's dirty and incredible and it's proof of how much I love him.

Like he can hear my thoughts, he stops.

When he pulls out, I feel empty, void.

One hand moves behind him, and the other strips off the condom, tossing it aside. Before I can ask what he's doing, he's got my cock wrapped up in rubber, and he's straddling my hips, pushing himself down onto me, making my head hurt and my heart hurt with how much I want him.

"Too much," I say, as I feel his ass hit the tops of my thighs. "God, it's too much. You're too much."

He falls on top of me, letting me push up, into him. "No," he says, his whisper harsh inside of my ear. "Not enough. Not enough."

My hands want to hold onto his hips and fuck him hard. My mouth wants every inch of his skin under my tongue. But I'm too busy feeling, feeling all of this, to take all the things I want. My fingers are everywhere – hair and back and ass and hips and cock – and my mouth never wants for his flesh, unless I'm saying things –ridiculous things – into the air around us.

I come too fast, and when I do, I see the smirk at the corner of his mouth. I might have been fucking him, but he fucked me right back. It's too good, being inside of him, and him hard and hot and everything I want, right on top of me. He's not soft; his voice is deep, gruff. He's a man, and he's everything I want.

He comes again, not long after I do, both of us stroking his cock, bringing him off. He spurts hot and wet across my stomach and chest, and then falls down onto me, our bodies smearing it around until it's sticky between us.

"Shower or nap?" he asks.

"Both?"

He grins at me and pulls me off the bed, until we're in the shower.

We stand under the water, hot and steaming and the smell of his soap makes me feel…so much.

"I've missed you," I say. His eyes are brown and flecked with green, and I can see what I'm feeling, mirrored back to me.

I drop my head to his shoulder, feeling months of tension and strain slipping away from me, washed down the drain like so much soapy water. He places his hand at the back of my neck, cupping me close, holding me near. I feel his lips move against my skin, and he's covering me in kisses. We stay that way, sweet and delicious, until the hot water runs out. By the time we hit the bed again, we're naked, damp and shivering.

He snuggles us tight beneath the blankets, pressing our bodies together to create some kind of warmth. As we begin to warm, I feel myself relax, letting my body mold to his. Nothing has ever felt more right.

"I'm sorry," I say again, because I can say it a hundred times and still not get it right. Still not show him how much I mean it.

"I know," he says. In the dim light of the room, his eyes are almost black, and I notice that his hair has gotten longer. I twist a curl around my finger and wait for the 'but.'

When he doesn't say it, I do it for him. "But?"

"Have you talked to your friends, to Rosalie?"

"Yeah! Yeah, God yeah." I roll away from him a little, scooting back so I can see his face. "Rose has been amazing, she's been…so great."

Peter smiles. "Good. I'm glad."

"But?"

"Jasper, I said I forgive you, and I meant it. But we can't go back to where we were…I don't want that."

"I don't either. I want – Peter – I want so much more." I take his face in my hand and lean down to kiss him. It's not the hard, desperate kiss from before. It's softer, so sweet, and I feel like I could do this forever – just kiss, breath him in and feel his mouth, his lips, all of him. I finally break the kiss because I realize that there's so much more of him left, and I want him to know – to understand. I want him to know how I feel, so I press a kiss against his cheek, against his forehead, the tip of his nose.

I whisper against his skin all the things I need him to know. "I know I've lost your trust. But I haven't been with anyone – anyone – in over six months. The only one I want is you. And I'll do whatever it takes, put in as much time as you need, for you to know it. You make the rules," I say. "I'll do what it takes."

I feel his fingers thread into my hair as he pulls my mouth back to his. After another long, long kiss, he pulls away.

"We'll get there," he says. "I really think we will."

I lay my head on his shoulder and it feels so good to be held by him, for however long he'll have me.

"My folks are bringing Charlotte back tomorrow night. We're all having dinner here – probably just going to grill something."

My heart sits in my throat. Is he already telling me I have to go? I've never dated anyone with kids before, but I'm pretty sure he won't want me hanging around her until he's sure of me, sure of us.

"Okay," I say. Maybe I don't get tomorrow, but at least I have today, and tonight. I made a promise to play it his way, and I'm a man of my word.

"Will you stay?"

I draw back and look in his eyes. He's looking at me through long lashes and I want to press my lips to them. I want to get him dressed and walk with him in the sunshine and help Charlotte learn to ride a two-wheeled bike, and how to do double multiplication. I want to learn who she is, and who he is when he's with her. I want to be a part of their lives.

I want to be their family, to have a family. And I think…I think he might let me try.

When I speak I'm looking him in the eye. I'm putting my heart into it, my guts. I'm laying it on the line.

"For forever, if you'll have me."

"I will," he says, before his mouth claims the skin at the hollow of my throat. "I will."

.

.


AN:

This story means a lot to me, and I am grateful to the men and women in my life who helped to shape me into the woman I am, and whose experiences lent themselves to this tale. My heart is full, because of them.

So this is it for the Venice Beach kids. I hope you enjoyed their journey as much as I enjoyed writing about it. That said, I may write a little Em/Ro, someday. But for now, I'm marking this complete. Thank you so much for reading.

This is my first, and probably only, slash. Because of that, I needed a lot of help. FarDareisMai2 and Zigster are my tripod and this never would have happened without their help. They both read the first (and woefully shorter) draft and inked it up for me. Ajasperforme tried verrah hard to corral my commas. AccioBourbon helped me find the missing pieces that made this story whole, and in the process, became someone I call friend. I could NOT have done this without them.

Lastly, huge thanks to MsTallulahBelle. She really helped get this story seen, way back when, and I am so grateful to her, for everything.