Like an Apple Tree

by SqueakyZorro

for the Fandom4LLS

Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,

so is my lover among men.

In his shadow I delight to sit,

and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

Song of Songs 2:3

It's a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation.
Roberto Benigni


Sitting at the breakfast bar, Seth watched Esme move gracefully about the kitchen, pulling items from the fridge and pantry, reheating a bowl in the microwave, and putting some garlic bread in the oven. Each time she crossed the room, she seemed unable to resist touching him—a stroke over his back, a caress down one bicep as she placed some a dish of sliced vegetables and a dipping bowl of dressing in front of him. After pouring wine for each of them, she walked behind him and dropped a kiss on one shoulder. He quickly glanced back at her, and she met his eyes with a smile that was both flirtatious and a little shy. Before she could withdraw the hand that had held the wine glass, he took and raised it to his lips, kissing her fingers lightly. A blush warmed her cheeks as he let her go and she returned to the oven for the garlic bread. Within minutes, a meal sat before him, and he dug in.

She sat next to him as he ate, her eyes drinking him in. They spoke rarely—a compliment on the food, a question briefly answered—but the silence was comfortable. She savored the simple enjoyment she derived from watching him eat the food she'd prepared. Caretaking was in her nature, but she had learned that not everyone appreciated it. Seth clearly did.

As he finished, she rose to take his plate and ran her fingertips over his shoulders and neck, noticing how bunched and tight the muscles were. Without thinking, she said, "You seem really tight and hard. Would a massage help?"

Seth looked at her, eyebrow raised.

Mentally replaying what she'd just said, she blushed furiously but couldn't help giggling. "Oh, wow, did I really just say that?" The giggles became laughter that he joined. "Actually, I was serious. I took a couple of massage classes a while back. The instructor said I had good hands." Seth laughed again. She shoved his shoulder but couldn't hold back a chuckle. "You know what I mean!"

Still snorting, Seth replied, "Hmm, I'm not sure I do. Maybe you could give me a demonstration?"

Esme's giggles quieted, and a sly grin appeared. "I'd love to show you what I can do."

Gesturing him to follow her, she led the way upstairs to a room next to her bedroom that Seth hadn't seen yet. Looking around, he decided it was the perfect Esme room: shelves of books, a desk for her laptop if she felt like a change of scene from her office, fresh flowers in a couple of vases on a table, and walls covered with artwork of all media, mostly featuring gardens. She'd kept the furniture to a minimum—just a couple of chairs besides the desk and table—so it was both spacious and cozy.

She opened the closet and removed a folded massage table, which she quickly and competently set up in the middle of the room. She covered it with a sheet and laid a folded sheet on the table. "Here you go." She raised a brow and grinned. "Did you want some privacy to get undressed, or should I just stay here?"

He laughed. "I don't think I've got anything you haven't seen. Feel free to watch."

So she did, enjoying the sight of her lover unselfconsciously stripping off his jeans and boxer briefs before lying face-down on the table. She unfolded the sheet, intending to cover his lower half while she worked on his back, but first she indulged herself with a few pats on his butt.

Chuckling, he asked, "Is that part of the massage?"

She snapped the sheet and covered him from the waist down as she huffed. "Prepare to be amazed. You're gonna feel so good when I'm done with you."

He made a sexy little sound and said, "I believe it, baby. I always do."

She used a dimmer to lower the lights and selected cedarwood massage oil, a masculine, woodsy scent. Lightly coating her hands with the oil, she started the massage with long strokes over his back.

Boy, her instructor wasn't kidding. She has awesome hands. Groaning softly, Seth enjoyed the feel of her hands on his back, focusing now on his shoulders, slowly working out the stiffness and fatigue. He let his mind drift and realized he was a little curious. "What made you take massage classes? I'd have guessed gardening or art if you were going to take something."

Concentrating on a tightly coiled muscle at the base of his neck, Esme answered automatically, "I thought it would help me get more comfortable with physical contact." Realizing only as she said it what she might have given away, she tensed, waiting for questions.

His face tucked into the hole in the massage table, looking at the floor, Seth frowned. He didn't like the implications of her statement at all, and not for the first time, he wondered just how bad her marriage had been. Even without seeing her, he could feel the slight difference in her touch, the stress emanating from her as she waited for him to respond. The loss of the easy rapport they'd established dismayed him, and he decided not to ask the questions she was clearly expecting. "That sounds like a great idea. And I can tell you, you were right. This feels amazing."

Almost immediately, her hands relaxed and the tension began to dissipate. Moving to his lower back, where another set of tight spots awaited attention, she said, "Thanks. I learned to give and appreciate a good one. I usually have one every couple of weeks, especially after a hectic trip."

Seth just hummed in response as he sank back into an almost-doze. Esme continued to work on his lower back, making sure all the muscles were supple and loose before tugging the sheet down a bit to reach the top of his glutes. Unable to resist, she slipped her hands under the sheet and palmed each cheek, squeezing and stroking. He has the most beautiful ass I've ever seen in my life. And back. And shoulders. And arms. She sighed, enjoying the freedom to touch him.

Seth surfaced, feeling the change from therapeutic to sensual. In a husky voice, he asked, "Do I seem tight there, too?"

He could hear the smile in her voice as she replied, "Only in the best way. You're so beautiful, you take my breath away."

He could feel his face heat and knew he was blushing; he was thankful she couldn't see him. "Um...thanks, I guess. I never really thought about it."

She moved the sheet to his upper half so she could work on his legs. After a few minutes, she commented, "Your legs are in good shape. Why don't you turn over so I can do the front of your shoulders and your chest?"

He complied, shifting to lay on his back. She replaced the sheet over his lower half and starting working on the few knots that remained in his shoulders and pecs. Finishing the trouble spots, she indulged herself by kneading his arms and, removing the sheet completely, his legs.

As she ended with his feet, she looked up and realized he was half-aroused. Smiling slightly, she moved to stand next to his hips. "I think I missed a spot. This looks hard and tight—want some work on this area?"

Crossing his arms underneath his head, he returned her sexy smile. "Be my guest. You've done wonders with the rest of me. I can't wait to see what you do there."

She grasped him, stroking firmly from base to tip. Applying the guidance he'd given their first time together, she continued working him, admiring the results as his cock hardened and stood proudly. On impulse, she leaned down and bestowed an open-mouthed kiss on the tip.

He gasped and twitched against her lips. She continued her kisses, interspersed with little licks and sucks, up and down his length until there wasn't an inch that hadn't received attention. Seth groaned, never having imagined such kisses or how wonderful they would feel, and thrust his hips up, seeking more. Drawing confidence from his appreciative reaction, she surrounded him with her warm, wet mouth. She used her hand to hold the base of his cock as she alternated strong sucks with swirls of her tongue around the tip. He groaned again, louder. "Oh, that feels...oh...don't stop..."

She continued her ministrations, finding the same joy in giving that Seth had described earlier as well as a deep pleasure in her effect on him. Pausing a moment for a few deep breaths, she stroked her hand over him as she said, "I'm sorry I can't go deeper. I know...well, I've heard that's what men like...but I just can't do it."

He chuckled breathlessly. "Does it seem like I'm disappointed? Don't worry about it—this is awesome. Now get back here; I'm getting cold."

She met his eyes, reassured by the sincerity she found there, giggled, and returned her mouth to his cock. Humming in pleasure at the feel of him, surprised again at how soft his skin was there, even as hard as he was, she internally vowed not to stop until he felt as good as he had made her feel earlier. She had surrounded the base of his dick with one hand when a new thought occurred to her, and she used the other to cup his sac, rolling and squeezing gently. She intensified her sucking and rubbed her tongue just underneath the tip, where she knew he was extremely sensitive.

Seth could feel his climax approaching as his balls tightened and his stomach seemed to coil. "Oh...I'm about, I'm gonna you...?" Not moving her mouth from its devotion to his cock, she raised her eyes and met his. The intensity of the look they shared, coupled with the rush of sensations she was generating with her hands, lips, and tongue, drove him over the edge. With a muffled shout, his eyes rolled back and he came.

She'd never tried to swallow before—hell, she could count the number of times she'd even given a blow-job on one hand with fingers left over—but she wanted to try. She did her best, but she had to stop before he was quite done. She continued to pump him with her hand as he rode out the rest of his orgasm, fascinated by the expression on his face as it contorted in ecstasy.

Breathing deeply, he relaxed and opened his eyes to meet hers. They smiled at the same time, and he took her hand and pulled her to him for a brief kiss. Framing his face with her hands, she feathered little kisses over his face before ending at his lips, playing lightly with lips and tongue-tip. She stood and stroked his cheek, then grabbed a towel and wiped up most of the mess. Perceiving a thin film of fluid still coating his softened penis, she lowered her head and, with small licks, carefully removed the last bit. He moaned at the stimulation on his sensitive flesh, and he was already starting to harden again by the time she finished.

"How sturdy is the table?" he asked, with one eyebrow raised.

Startled, she looked up and met his gaze. Realizing his meaning, she burst into laughter. "Not sturdy enough, I'm afraid—at least, I don't want to chance it. Let's just go to bed."

He swung his legs down from the table, stood, and twined his fingers with hers.

Tugging her toward the door, he agreed, "Let's go."

A/N: Just can't leave these two alone! Well, it's only fair that Seth got his turn after the Squeeze My Lemon outtake. ;) Oh, in case anyone forgot (yeah, right!), Stephenie owns the characters; the pairing and plot (not to mention the citrus!) are mine.

Immense kudos to duskwatcher who beta'd this on two minutes notice – you rock! And for the lovely banner, vbfb1 deserves the praise—beautiful as always! I don't think she ever thought she'd do not one, but three Esme-Seth banners, lol.

This outtake was written for the Fandom for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society compilation. It was donated in honor of all the victims of the Fallon, Nevada, leukemia cluster, in the hope that someday they figure out what caused it and can prevent it from happening again. These children and their families remain in my thoughts and prayers each day.