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Embracing the Tension - 8. Chapter 8

Warning: This chapter may contain sexually explicit content. Reader discretion is advised.

Erik woke up to the feeling of fingertips trailing lightly across his skin. His face was pressed into the nook between Ryan’s neck and shoulder, and every breath he took smelled of sandalwood and man. If he never moved from the spot, he’d be happy.

It took him a moment, but he eventually realized that Ryan was tracing his tattoo—up over his shoulder then back down his arm, the same swirly path over and over until the skin burned lightly at the touch. Erik kissed the soft skin under his lips and let his tongue sneak out for a taste, too.

“Morning.” Ryan rubbed his cheek against Erik’s forehead, the beard sending tingles across Erik’s skin.

He loved the groggy, half-awake sound of Ryan first thing in the morning.

“Good morning,” Erik replied and snuggled himself closer to Ryan.

It was usual to find Ryan awake before he was, but this cuddling was nice. Maybe he should linger in bed more often in the future so they could enjoy more lazy mornings. Erik smiled until his brain rudely reminded him that he lived in New York and Ryan lived in Toronto, so any mornings together—be they lazy or not—were to be few and far between.

“Are you overthinking again?” Ryan asked.

Erik leaned back so he could get a good look at Ryan. “How the hell do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Know what I’m thinking all the time.”

Ryan smiled and shrugged the one shoulder that wasn’t pinned under Erik.

“You stiffen up and your eyes lose focus like you’re trying to see something that’s not there.”

“Huh.” Did he do that? Certainly, not consciously.

“See? There it is again.” Ryan pulled him down for a quick kiss on the lips. “Mm, morning breath. I suppose we should get cleaned up?”

After they adventures with the fruit fondue the previous evening, they had just wiped themselves down with a damp cloth and borrowed under a pile of blanket. Erik wouldn’t be surprised if there was still traces of chocolate and semen stuck on him somewhere.

With great reluctance, they got out of bed and Ryan re-stoked the fire that had run cold during the night. Erik nearly got frostbite on his dick when he tried to use the outhouse, but when he ran back inside the warm cottage and slammed the door shut behind him, he found Ryan had a French press of fragrant coffee steeping and a big pot of water warming on the wood-burning stove. They ended taking a sponge bath in the tiny little shower stall, huddled together as they dragged wet washcloths over each other’s bodies, and hopping from foot to foot on the cold, tiled floor.

After a hot cup of coffee and some muffins for breakfast, Ryan suggested they take a hike in the woods. No amount of glaring got Erik exempted from the outdoor excursion. Despite all the practice from the day before, Erik felt even more awkward during his second attempt at snowshoeing. He blamed the uneven ground they trekked over, as they picked out their own trail through the barren trees surrounding the cottage.

“How the hell do you know where we’re going?” Erik asked, breathless as he tried to keep up.

Ryan stopped a few paces ahead and looked back. “We’re just following the lake’s shore.” He pointed to their right and the open expanse a few yards away. If he hadn’t pointed it out, Erik’s eyes never would have noticed it.

He took a minute to look back in the direction they’d come. Their tracks meandered in between the stark, black trees, but other than the white of the sky and the white of the snow, there was nothing else in sight.

“It feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere.” Erik dropped his voice in reverence to the stark landscape around them.

“Our cottage is just around the bend back there, and we should be able to see the neighbor’s if we keep going that way. Not quite in the middle of nowhere.”

Erik threw a glare at Ryan, who grinned back at him with a twinkle in his eye.

“Come here.” Erik shuffled the few feet between them and tried to insert his snowshoes in between Ryan’s. There wasn’t enough room, and Erik didn’t really know what he was doing, so the aluminum frames caught somehow, and Erik reached for Ryan just as Ryan reached for him, and they both ended up landing in a pile in a snow bank.

“Ow.” Ryan frowned, though his grin still graced his lips. “What was the tackle for?”

“Nothing. Shut up.” It seemed Erik could move more fluidly while horizontal than while vertical when he had snowshoes on. He rolled them over until Ryan was on his back and Erik’s weight pressed them into the snow. Then he proceeded to wipe the grin off of Ryan’s face with a kiss, lips cold at first but warming quickly as they brushed and brushed again.

Ryan’s arms tightened around his back, bringing him as close as their parkas and the contraptions on their feet would allow. A moan escaped, though Erik wasn’t sure who it came from. Their breaths were clouds of steam floating all around them, and when Erik pulled back far enough to gaze down at Ryan, it felt like he was watching a scene through a camera lens zooming out to find the perfect frame: Ryan with his lazy grin, eyes smoldering through a hazy mist.

Erik wished he actually had a camera so he could capture the image forever. Not just the image, but the moment. The two of them in the snow, away from work and family and the things the world demanded of them; just the two of them and the love that bubbled up in Erik’s chest, so potent that it hurt.

“Hey,” Ryan whispered.

“Hey,” Erik whispered back.

“It’s getting cold.”

Erik nodded but didn’t move. He didn’t want this moment to end. It was too perfect to end.

“Hey.” Ryan pulled him down for a kiss that was more a lip snuggle than kiss. No movement, no tongue, just a press of lips and foreheads. But it was more than that even; it was an exchange of unspoken words, an acknowledgement that whatever was going on inside Erik’s heart was mirrored in Ryan’s. Emotions too strong to be contained threatened to spill out, and a strangled sound escaped Erik’s throat. He pulled himself away before he turned into a blubbering mess in the middle of a snow-covered wood.

Rolling onto his back, he blinked up at the backlit sky and breathed in the cold air, letting the winter bring his body back into some semblance of normal. By the time he pulled himself together, Ryan was already upright and holding out a hand.

“How’d you stand up so fast?” He asked as he grasped Ryan’s hand.

Ryan smirked at him and pulled him up to stand. He planted a quick kiss on Erik’s lips before turning to continue their hike. “Family secret!”

“Jerk.”

They continued in silence, accompanied by the howling wind and the crunch of snow under their snowshoes. Every few steps, there would be a crack of a branch caught under their weight. The pristine environment felt cleansing, as if the purity of the snow and forcefulness of the wind could wash away all the worries that came with real life.

They walked until they arrived at a neighboring cottage, closed up for the winter. Ryan led them down toward the lake and found some sort of snow-covered ledge large enough for both of them to sit.

“I should have brought some hot chocolate or whiskey or something. Sorry.” Ryan apologized as they sat and gazed out on the frozen lake.

“I don’t think I can talk about chocolate ever again without getting hard.” Images of the previous night flashed through Erik’s mind.

Ryan leered at him and pulled him closer so Erik’s head was on Ryan’s shoulder. He snuggled into the half embrace.

“Thanks for bringing me up here.”

“You’re welcome.”

“It’s not really what I expected. Although, I don’t know what I was expecting.”

Ryan made a sound of acknowledgement and pressed a kiss into the top of Erik’s beanie-covered head.

“Do you think we can stay up here forever?”

A low chuckle emanated from Ryan’s chest, vibrating against Erik’s cheek. “We’d run out of supplies.”

“We can do supply runs.”

“Really? You’d be okay with using an outhouse and taking sponge baths all winter?”

Erik grunted. “I’d forgotten about that part.”

“We can come up again if you’d like.”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”

“Okay.”

There were a couple of evergreen trees in the middle of the lake, standing strong and proud against the wind. “Why are there trees in the middle of the lake?”

“There’s a little rock island there. We won’t go out that far. There are some weak spots in the ice. Oh, shit, I told Chloe we’d take a selfie for her.” Ryan pulled off his gloves and dug into his pocket for his phone. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. I’d take a million selfies for Chloe.” Erik smiled at the thought of Chloe pestering her Uncle Ry for a picture.

“Yeah, she can be a demanding little brat.” The insult didn’t sting when Ryan said it with a smile and a wisp of fondness in his voice. “Uh, how does this work?” He held out his arm and pointed the phone at them, but couldn’t find an angle where some part of someone’s face wasn’t cut off.

“Here, let me.” Erik pulled off a glove and took the phone from Ryan. He raised the phone high and off to the side, framed it up and took a couple of snaps. When he went back to review the pictures, his heart seized tight in his chest, and his lungs squeezed his breath out of him.

He had rested his head onto Ryan’s shoulder, and Ryan had leaned in so that part of his face was obscured by Erik’s beanie. That left Ryan gazing up at the camera through his thick, dark lashes, a lopsided grin just visible on his lips. The picture even captured Ryan’s arm as it wrapped around Erik’s back. And on Erik’s face was the happiest, most relaxed and satisfied look he’d ever seen on himself. He wondered whether he had ever looked like that before, like all was right with the world and nothing could disturb it.

“Perfect,” Ryan whispered. When Erik glanced over at him, Ryan wasn’t looking at the phone, he was looking at him, and Erik forgot how to breathe. Ryan stole a quick kiss before grinning at him. “Come on, let’s get back before we freeze to death.”

Erik followed Ryan as they trekked along the snow-covered ice, following the invisible shoreline back to their cottage. It seemed faster than when they first headed out, but then maybe that was because Erik had gotten lost in stepping in Ryan’s snowshoe prints. He felt like a little child dreaming of what the future might hold if he could walk the footsteps in the snow. What might life look like if he was able to follow Ryan wherever Ryan led? What if he could just stay here?

Erik let himself imagine what that life might look like before he dismissed it again. Toronto was a wonderful city, but he had the beginnings of a career waiting for him in New York. And as astonishingly perfect this weekend had been, there was still a real world waiting out there for them.

And yet, the idea wouldn’t leave him as they shook off the snow that had gathered on their clothes, and huddled around the wood stove, covered in blankets and cradling glasses of whiskey in their hands. The idea lingered as Ryan finished up some work and Erik pretended to read, his eyes roaming over the same words again and again while his brain conjured up what life would look like in that third-floor apartment with Caesar curled up on the couch and Chloe’s laughter echoing from downstairs. Even dinner was unusually silent with Erik was preoccupied with his fantasy.

“What’s wrong?” Ryan asked as he dipped some bread into the beef stew they had warmed on the stove.

A protest was on the tip of Erik’s tongue, but he held it back. What was the point in lying when Ryan wouldn’t buy it? “It’s silly.”

“And?”

Erik took a deep breath. “It’s nothing, really. I’m just thinking.”

“About?”

Erik shrugged. How could he tell Ryan that he’d been daydreaming about having a life together? They’d never even talked about whether they’d ever end up in the same city. Erik had assumed that was where they were headed, but now that he was honest with himself the idea of moving to Toronto was kind of farfetched. And convincing Ryan to move back to New York? He had no confidence that he could do that.

“Just work stuff that’s waiting for me in New York.”

“Mmhmm.” Ryan narrowed his eyes in skepticism. “We’re not supposed to be thinking about work, remember? We’re here to have fun.”

“Right.” Erik chuckled, though the distinct lack of humor was audible. He reached out and grasped Ryan’s hand, his heart skipping a beat when Ryan squeezed his fingers back. He did his best to push those thoughts away and focus again on the joy of simply being in the same space as Ryan.

After dinner, they crawled onto the futon and pulled the covers over them. They kissed and touched, holding each other close and soaking in each other’s presence. They made love that night, slowly, gently, neither in a rush to climax, both simply content to be connected.

Ryan lay on his side, and Erik curled up behind him. When he pushed himself inside Ryan’s body, it felt like he was being made whole again, like he found some part of himself that he had never realized was missing. And when Ryan turned his head back for a kiss, his bottom lip caught between his teeth, Erik’s heart surged with the love at the beauty of the sight.

He never loved the sound of his name so much as when Ryan cried it out again and again, breathless and desperate as he came all over Erik’s hand. And when he reached his own orgasm, pushing himself as deep into Ryan’s body as he could go, he felt his soul become inextricably woven together with Ryan’s.

They fell asleep on their sides. This time with Erik as the little spoon, his back pressed against Ryan’s chest and Ryan’s arms holding him tight. It felt good and right and exactly how Erik wanted to fall asleep every night for the rest of his life.

###

It had been the perfect weekend. Literally, everything was perfect—exactly how Ryan had wanted it to unfold. Except when he’d woken up this morning, Erik was already dressed with coffee already brewed. Erik had given him a smile from where he sat at the dining table, just a small one, a little bit sad. Something was wrong, but for the life of him Ryan couldn’t tease it out of Erik.

They’d packed up their things, and Ryan had gone through the cottage making sure everything was set to leave the place empty for another couple of months. All the while, something hung in the air between them: a tension that built with each passing moment it went unaddressed.

The trek across the lake back to the car was done in silence, but rather than the reverent stillness from their hike the day before, the cold, stark landscape felt bleak and severe. When they got to the other side, Erik had stood by the edge of the lake staring out onto the unending whiteness while Ryan loaded the car. Ryan didn’t mind, Erik clearly had something on his mind. He finished stashing the snowshoes and the sled in the storage shed and came up behind Erik and pulled him into his arms.

“What’s wrong?” Ryan asked.

Erik didn’t answer, just pressed his lips together and leaned back. Ryan welcomed his weight, the solid mass of it, stable and grounded, his anchor.

“Erik? Tell me what’s wrong?” He tried again.

Erik took a shaky breath and then let it back out, just as shakily, his breath fogging up the air around them. He shook his head, and his lips tilted up in an unconvincing smile. “Nothing. I’m just sad to leave.”

For someone who had once claimed to be an actor, Erik was a terrible liar. But Ryan didn’t press him; he was sad to leave, too. He turned Erik around to face him, framed Erik’s face with his hands and leaned up to press a kiss on Erik’s lips. He tried to put everything he felt into that simple press of lips—all the jumble of emotions, dreams, desires in his head and in his heart.

The weekend had been perfect, and it had proven to him what he had suspected for a while. He loved Erik. So much. More than he thought he could love someone who wasn’t related to him by blood. And they were good together. In all the ways that Erik was high, Ryan was low; Erik pushed forward, and Ryan pulled back. They balanced each other like opposite ends of the scale, and Ryan just knew that if he lost Erik now, his life would go careening off again.

“Come on,” he said, his voice thick with emotions he hadn’t expressed. “Let’s go.”

###

The closer they got to Toronto, the stronger the ache in the middle of Erik’s chest grew. It grew and grew until he felt like he couldn’t breathe anymore, and he cracked open his window to let in some cold winter air.

Ryan’s eyes darted over to him every few seconds. Concern and worry were written all over Ryan’s face—in the way he pressed his lips together, in the crease between his brows. And Erik wanted to say something to ease the worry, something to lighten the mood that weighed heavy in the car. But his mind wouldn’t cooperate—too preoccupied with the knowledge that their weekend was coming to a close and that he was leaving the man he loved. He’d be back, he knew that. Or Ryan would visit New York. But it wasn’t the same, and his heart had begun the grieving process before he’d even experienced the loss.

He didn’t notice Ryan reach across the center console until his hand closed around Erik’s. Ryan squeezed twice, and Erik squeezed back. No words were spoken, and yet that was the opening Erik had been waiting for.

“I don’t want to go.” God, he sounded like some petulant, whining child.

Ryan squeezed his hand again. “I know. I didn’t want to leave, either. But we can come back again; just let me know what weekend you’re free to come up.”

“No, I don’t just mean the cottage.” Erik turned to take in Ryan’s profile: the line of his jaw, the bump in his nose from a hockey scuffle, the way his bottom lip was caught in between his teeth, brows lowered over his eyes. “I don’t want to go back to New York.”

Ryan took a sharp breath in through his nose, his fingers tightening around Erik’s own and not letting go.

“I don’t want to go back to all these dead-end projects that no one’s interested in. God, it’s so fucking tiring, constantly knocking on doors and constantly getting rejected.”

“But, isn’t that part of the job?” Ryan’s frown deepened as he changed lanes to move around a slow car in front of them.

It was part of the job, a job that he had wanted and signed up for. So, what the fuck was he complaining about? “Yeah, it’s just…”

Ryan sneaked another glance over at him. “What?”

“I don’t know, maybe I’m just not as motivated as I used to be. Maybe I’m just tired.”

“I know how that feels.” Ryan drew his hand back, and Erik immediately missed the contact. “Especially being tired in New York. It’s like a whole other level of tired.”

“Yeah, no shit.”

“So why are you still there?”

“What?” Erik frowned.

“Why are you still in New York?” Ryan persisted.

Erik wouldn’t have been annoyed if he hadn’t been pondering the exact same question for the past twenty-four hours. But Ryan suggesting something that he’d been considering had his defenses going up in a way he hadn’t felt the need for in a long time.

“Not this again.” He heard the edge in his own voice. He regretted it the moment the words left his mouth.

“I’m just saying.”

“Saying what? That I’m not good enough to cut it in New York?” He knew that wasn’t what Ryan meant. He knew that Ryan only had the best of intensions. But the thought of actually leaving New York, the realization that it could be something he wanted, was so foreign and terrifying that it felt easier to lash out against it than try to accept it.

“We’ve been over this before.” Erik knew he should stop before he said something he couldn’t take back. But the words were just flowing now, and he didn’t have much control over them. “New York is where my work is; it’s where all the connections are. How am I supposed to have a career if I just leave?”

Ryan’s grip tightening on the wheel until his knuckles were white, and Erik felt the distance grow between them as Ryan threw his walls up. And yet, he went on.

“Yeah, New York’s a hard city to live in, everyone knows that. But I know how to live there, I’ve been living there for years now, and I’ve been fine. Maybe things are shit right now, but that’s just how it is. If I just give up and leave now, I’ll never make it anywhere in life.”

Every word he spoke brought his deepest fears into sharp focus. Fears of not measuring up, of failing. Fears of being another statistic of someone who came to the big city with stars in his eyes only to go home broken because he couldn’t cut it, because New York was a merciless meat grinder that liked to pull people in and spit them back out as a shadow of their former selves.

“Is that what you think about me?” Ryan asked the question quietly, with a tightly restrained voice, tension lining his arms, his shoulders, the way he held his head.

Was that how he thought about Ryan? That Ryan had given up because he wasn’t strong enough? Maybe. Because wasn’t that the only reason why someone would want to leave New York? “No.”

The scowl Ryan threw in his direction made it clear that he didn’t believe Erik’s denial. Erik barely believed it himself. “No, your situation wasn’t the same.”

“How wasn’t it the same?”

How was it that he always had a million things to say, but when it mattered the most, all his words escaped him. “Because it wasn’t.”

Ryan’s scowl deepened.

“Ryan—”

He held a hand up. “Save it.”

Shit. He’d fucked up, badly. And he didn’t know how to fix it. Because all those accusations that he had hurled at himself, he could just have easily used them on Ryan… and he would have believed them, partly, almost. Except seeing Ryan in Toronto and the way he was more himself here than he was in New York negated every one of Erik’s ideas about why he couldn’t leave the big city. The rational part of his brain understood all of this, but embracing that reality for himself was a step he couldn’t bring himself to take.

“Ryan…” he tried again after several moments of tense silence. “Look, I just meant that—”

“I know what you meant.” Ryan cut him off and changed lanes to pull off the highway. He made a couple of turns on the small rural roads and pulled into a gas station. When he got out to work the pump, he slammed the door behind him hard enough to rock the car back and forth on its tires.

Erik muttered a “Fuck” as he sighed and leaned his head back. He couldn’t have thought of a worse way to end their perfect weekend. And it was all his fault.

The rest of the car ride was unbearably awkward. Erik tried to apologize again, but Ryan just grunted and turned on the radio. When they pulled into an empty parking space in front of Ryan’s house, Erik couldn’t wait to scramble out of the car.

He took a deep lungful of winter air, letting its biting cold chase away the angry gnawing feeling in his chest. He had to make things right, and he had the rest of the evening to do it. Because there was no way he was getting on that plane to New York if Ryan was still upset with him.

Ryan already had the trunk open and was piling their stuff on the sidewalk. Erik grabbed a couple of bags and carried them to the house, but before he got to the door, it flew open and a little ball of energy came hurtling down the little walkway. Erik dropped the bags and crouched down just in time to catch Chloe as she flung herself into his arm.

“Uncle Erik!” She screamed into his ear.

He winced. “Hey, Clo.”

Her arms had snaked around his neck, and she clung tightly, draping herself over his shoulder. Erik hugged her back; her small frame in his long arms felt fragile, precious. The soft wisps of her hair in his face still had that innocent, baby smell. If he could come home to this every day, he would be the happiest man alive. That realization was nothing short of terrifying, and his heart lurched in his chest with a strength of yearning that he hadn’t thought was possible. He risked squeezing her a little tighter, and Chloe reciprocated by squeezing him back. He was done for. The little girl had stolen his heart—whatever was left that hadn’t already been claimed by Ryan.

“Clo, you don’t even have a coat on.” Ryan cleared his throat. “Go back inside and let me and Uncle Erik finish bringing things in.”

Erik reluctantly let Chloe out of his arms. “You go inside, Clo. We’ll be right in.”

“Okay!” And with the same energy with which she had bounded out of the house, Chloe raced back inside.

Erik stayed crouched low, watching as she disappeared into the house, and waited a moment before standing up again. Ryan watched him with lips pressed thin and a furrow in his brow. It wasn’t a look of anger, but Erik couldn’t quite place the emotion he read in Ryan’s eyes.

“Look, Ryan.” He took a step closer and thanked the stars that Ryan didn’t back away. “I’m really sorry about what I said earlier in the car. It was stupid, and I didn’t mean it.”

Whatever tension that lingered in Ryan’s body melted away and, with it, the vice that had been clamped around Erik’s chest. Ryan’s eyes drifted shut, and it was some seconds before he opened them again, a look of sadness in them.

“I know you’re sorry,” he said softly. “But I also know you meant what you said.”

An objection was right on the tip of Erik’s tongue, stopped only by Ryan’s fingers pressing on his lips. “I know you meant it, because that’s what I used to think, too. I’ve been there before, remember? I know the kind of lies that New York feeds people.” Ryan’s hand fell away. “Come on. Let’s get this stuff inside.”

They spent the rest of the evening with Chloe and her parents—first a light dinner and then they nursed mugs of hot cocoa for dessert. Chloe peppered them with questions about the cottage, which Erik was more than happy to answer. And then she dragged Ryan off to play make-believe with her stuffed animals.

“I’m glad you guys had a good time at the cottage,” Rachel said as they sat at the dining room table watching Ryan and Chloe speak to each other with distorted, stuffed-animal voices.

“Thanks again for letting us use the place,” Erik replied.

“Somebody need to keep tabs on the place during the winter. Better Ryan than us.” Tom waved it off.

“He really likes you, you know.” Rachel looked straight at Erik, and he blinked blankly as his brain caught on to what she was saying. “I think he loves you.”

Tom sneaked a glance at his wife from under his lashes and then trained his eyes resolutely into his mug of cocoa. Erik wasn’t about to get any help from there.

“Well?”

If Rachel was expecting a certain response from him, Erik wasn’t really sure which was the right one. “Um, well, I think I love him, too.” Best to go with the truth, he supposed.

She narrowed her eyes. “You think?”

Erik swallowed under her piercing gaze. “I know,” he whispered, the admission stealing his breath away.

Rachel nodded, her brows still knotted. “So, what are you going to do about it?”

“Uh, do about it?” Was she expecting him to propose and make an honest man out of Ryan?

“Jesus, Rachel,” Tom muttered under his breath, which earned him a backhanded slap on the arm.

“Ryan’s not going back to New York, you know.” The look she pinned him with made Erik want to crawl into a dark hole and hide.

“Oh, uh, the thought never crossed my mind.” And that was the truth. He had never once considered asking Ryan to move back to New York. Just the memory of what Ryan had been like in his last days before leaving was reason enough to rule that out as an option completely. Which left…

Erik couldn’t quite meet Rachel’s penetrating gaze. He knew what she was thinking. He knew that she knew what he was thinking, too. Please don’t say it. Please don’t say it.

“So that means you’re moving here?”

Fuck. She had to go and say it. He tried to smile; he really did. But he could feel the strain in his cheeks as he forced them to move. “We haven’t really gotten to that point yet.”

She narrowed her eyes at him again. She didn’t believe a word of what he said. To be honest, Erik didn’t either.

“Hey, guys.”

Erik jumped at Ryan’s voice next to him and the hand that landed softly on his shoulder. He had been so engrossed in Rachel’s interrogation that he hadn’t noticed Ryan approaching or Chloe scurrying to climb onto Tom’s lap. He wondered how much of their conversation Ryan had overheard.

“I’m beat. And you’ve got an early flight to catch tomorrow.” Ryan gave his shoulder a light squeeze. “Let’s go upstairs?”

“Yeah.” Erik didn’t need another excuse to escape Rachel. They said their goodbyes and slipped away.

Erik tried to assess Ryan’s mood as they got ready for bed. He was quiet, but then Ryan was always quiet. Otherwise, he seemed normal.

They moved around the bathroom together as if they’d been doing it for years, as if they were following some ingrained choreography that felt familiar and comfortable and warm.

The intimacy of sharing the space with Ryan as they took care of their basic hygiene added to the complex mix of emotions Erik had been carrying around all weekend: a deep satisfaction, a sense of belonging, of letting go of all pretenses and just being himself. A longing for this to be a part of his routine, to end every day with the two of them putzing around the bathroom in their boxers and t-shirts. And then crawling into bed, snuggling together like magnets clicking into place. He just didn’t know how he could turn that dream into a reality.

“How much of Rachel’s questioning did you hear?” Erik asked as they lay spooned in the bed, Ryan’s chest flush against his back, Ryan’s arm slung across his chest, and Ryan’s breath light on his neck.

For a second Erik thought Ryan might have fallen asleep until Ryan spoke in a soft voice. “Enough of it.”

Erik swallowed around a lump in his throat. Fuck. He didn’t know what to say, where they should go from here, how to make things right for them.

Ryan pressed a kiss onto the back of his neck. Then a quiet confession: “I love you, too.”

The lump in his throat grew, and his heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest. Erik swallowed a strangled sound and dragged in a lungful of air. Then he shifted around in the bed until he faced Ryan, held Ryan’s face between his hands, Ryan’s beard tickling his palms. He leaned their foreheads together, noses aligned, before whispering, “I love you, too. So much.” He took a shaky breath. “It’s the only thing that makes sense in my life right now, the only thing I can hold on to; it’s the only thing that’s solid. Oh, god, I love you so much.”

Ryan’s arms tightened around him, and Ryan’s lips cut off the words that still flowed from his mouth. With a groan, Erik kissed back and used his heavier weight to roll them over until he was pressing Ryan into the mattress. A moan escaped from Ryan’s throat, and he shifted his legs so that Erik settled neatly between his thighs.

Erik was heady with desire for Ryan, all the blood in his body pooling in his dick as Ryan’s legs wrapped around his waist. Sex with Ryan had always been an out-of-this-world experience, but now that they had declared their love for each other, it felt like a whole other level of mind-blowing.

There was no more nagging little voices of doubt, just losing himself in the freedom their love created. He lost himself in the trails of fire Ryan drew across his skin, in the hardness of Ryan’s body underneath him. He needed to be inside Ryan, to consummate the love they shared.

Erik rubbed his cheek against Ryan’s beard, savoring the soft abrasion that sent tingles across his body. He kissed his way up Ryan’s jaw until he latched onto Ryan’s earlobe and tugged.

Ryan arched up into him, accompanied by a breathy “fuck.” Strong fingers dug into his back, and legs tightened around his waist.

“Erik, please.”

He loved it when Ryan begged with that ragged voice; he loved how raw his name sounded on Ryan’s lips. His cock pulsed where it lay next to Ryan’s.

“Please, Erik. I need you.” Ryan trembled with those words and Erik knew exactly how he felt; he felt the same way.

They shed their clothes and Erik leaned over to grab supplies from Ryan’s nightstand. After a weekend of fucking, Ryan didn’t need much prep, but Erik made sure to work his fingers in until Ryan was nice and loose, regardless. He loved watching his fingers disappear between Ryan’s ass cheeks, feeling the muscles of Ryan’s sphincter tighten and then loosen. It was an act so intimate, he felt privileged to be given the honor. Love soared in his heart for this man.

When Erik entered Ryan, he made sure it was slow, wanting to hold on to this moment for as long as possible. He watched every inch of his dick as it was swallowed up into Ryan’s heat. By the time he was fully sheathed, they were both trembling, covered in a sheen of sweat.

Erik glanced up at Ryan and the look he saw on Ryan’s face simply stole his breath away. The love he saw there, it was more than anything he could have wished for, it was sweeter than air, than water, than any of the basic necessities of life. Erik was sure he could survive on that love alone.

He leaned down to seal their connection with a kiss. Their tongues wrestling as their limbs pulled them closer to each other. The slow pace he set didn’t last for long. Soon he was slamming into Ryan as hard as he could, driven on by a love so strong it was overwhelming, a need to be one with this beautiful man.

Ryan made those desperate, whimpering noises, calling out his name, pleading with him for something that Ryan couldn’t put into words. He loved it all: how their bodies moved together like they had been handcrafted for each other, engineered to dance, to push and pull against each other until they were hurtling toward a climax that would ruin them.

It did ruin them. He heard Ryan shouting in his ear just as his vision whited out. It took several moments before Erik came around and could get his bearings. He laid on top of Ryan—his weight must have been crushing. He tried to roll off, but Ryan held him in place. It took some maneuvering, but Erik managed to get rid of the condom and toss it into the conveniently placed garbage bin next to the bed.

Then he snuggled down into Ryan’s arms. He didn’t know what tomorrow would hold. But for tonight, all was right with his world.

A lovely weekend ends a little tense and finally a bit of talking :D Not everything is fixed yet, but they muddling their way through!

 

Thanks for slogging through this story with me!! Let me know what you think will happen next!!! :D 

Copyright © 2018 Hudson Bartholomew; All Rights Reserved.
If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

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Chapter Comments



Well, I guess Rachel's pushing did achieve something good. At least the love is acknowledged and that's a huge step. Everything else is negotiation. ;) 

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Love these two...they've grown some, but still don't really talk with each other..now though others are helping, unintentionally? I'm crossing everything for some happiness ever after for these two!  Great chapter!  Thank you!

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Not sure how to put this more delicately but the only way I can describe this story is that each chapter feels like a new level of edging -- each more  intense than the last, leaving me wanting a resolution as much as wanting to increase the tension just a bit more. Great story, great writing.

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4 hours ago, Sweetlion said:

Erik is pushing it. He is so terrified that he would only be able to have a career in NY that he is risking the only thing that he loves. He can do his films everywhere, and just travel when he needed.

 

EXACTLY!!!! The world is just a mouse click away. I keep reading about corporate bigwigs who live in Connecticut or wherever and just commute to the home office only when necessary, big meetings that require human presence, rather than being able to attend virtually.

 

Rachel, OTOH, needs to shut her mouth and butt out. It's not her relationship. I'm going to stop there because I need more coffee and my thoughts are not pretty without it.:pissed:

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3 hours ago, BlindAmbition said:

 It’s time for Ryan to make boundaries very clear to her.

AAAAAAAAMMMMMMMEEEEENNNNNN

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5 hours ago, BlindAmbition said:

I’m biting my tongue on Rachel. It’s time for Ryan to make boundaries very clear to her. Shes very much out of line with her actions.

I guess I’m the only one on Rachel’s side in this. I think I would’ve done the same thing! I don’t like the way she’s dealt with Ryan’s porn past, but she can want what’s best for her brother and wonder if Erik is it. And she saw what NY did to Ryan, and doesn’t want him to hurt like that again. However, I say all this as an only child who’s never experienced such a relationship. Maybe I’d really want to kick her ass. LOL

 

No matter the method, tho, the two finally did admit their feelings. Who knows how long it would’ve dragged on without her impetus.

Edited by Geemeedee
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I know it's a really tough decision for Eric to make, but once he does he'll feel so much better and freer.  It'll all be uphill after that.

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Toronto is a major city and all major cities have a film industry. Hell, even Dallas has a film industry, and a pretty big one at that. Erik could find work in Toronto if he tried. He just might need to marry Ryan for citizenship reasons lol. 

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A significantly bitter-sweet chapter , despite finally expressing their love a long distance separation looms . Rachel’s meddling has the potential to cause some serious long term harm as well meaning as it may be intended to be . It’s one thing for Ryan to discuss the future , quite another for s sibling to insist on the course of their future. 

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On 2/25/2018 at 9:31 AM, Timothy M. said:

Well, I guess Rachel's pushing did achieve something good. At least the love is acknowledged and that's a huge step. Everything else is negotiation. ;) 

 

Yep, progress!!

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On 2/25/2018 at 9:46 AM, mfa607 said:

Love these two...they've grown some, but still don't really talk with each other..now though others are helping, unintentionally? I'm crossing everything for some happiness ever after for these two!  Great chapter!  Thank you!

 

Yeah, it takes them some time to let it all come out! Thank you!!

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On 2/25/2018 at 10:19 AM, Sweetlion said:

Erik is pushing it. He is so terrified that he would only be able to have a career in NY that he is risking the only thing that he loves. He can do his films everywhere, and just travel when he needed.

 

Yes, he can make films anywhere. But that's just an excuse. The real issue is leaving New York feels like admitting defeat, like he couldn't "make it" in the big city. He'll get over it eventually :D

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On 2/25/2018 at 11:18 AM, Wesley8890 said:

Go Rachel! Make him see some sense girl!

 

Haha, I think you might be the only person who likes Rachel! :)

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On 2/25/2018 at 11:34 AM, FanLit said:

Nope, I can't agree with that part. 

They are in the slow lane but they were working toward that at their own pace.  They came back from Erik's f^<k up in the car and he already said he didn't want to leave him.

Erik is a nice guy who is even liked by her child, even as a concerned, (over)protective sister, Rachel had no right to interrogate him like he's poo on the bottom of her shoe.  Love declarations between the guys should have NEVER involved her.  Unless she only still sees a porn star (which is not necessarily a negative in my opinion), she owes Erik an apology before their wedding.

WOOOO SAAAAA.

On a different note, I know Ryan prefers to bottom in RL but he topped in the movies; Will he ever top Erik?  Does either of them want that?

 

 

 

Haha!!! woo saa indeed! They are in the slow lane, they'll get there on their own time!

 

I think with Erik, Ryan prefers to bottom and Erik prefers to top :)

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On 2/25/2018 at 2:07 PM, starboardtack said:

Not sure how to put this more delicately but the only way I can describe this story is that each chapter feels like a new level of edging -- each more  intense than the last, leaving me wanting a resolution as much as wanting to increase the tension just a bit more. Great story, great writing.

 

Aw, thank you! I never thought getting compared to edging would be a compliment, but I'll take it! 

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On 2/25/2018 at 2:39 PM, empresslovesreading said:

EXACTLY!!!! The world is just a mouse click away. I keep reading about corporate bigwigs who live in Connecticut or wherever and just commute to the home office only when necessary, big meetings that require human presence, rather than being able to attend virtually.

 

Rachel, OTOH, needs to shut her mouth and butt out. It's not her relationship. I'm going to stop there because I need more coffee and my thoughts are not pretty without it.:pissed:

 

Haha, another person who doesn't like Rachel! :gikkle: 

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On 2/25/2018 at 5:10 PM, BlindAmbition said:

I’ve learned from experience, there’s no hiding anything from the one who loves you. The mask might be opaque for others, but not your partner.

Eric doesn’t have a leg to stand on when he thinks his career is only in NYC. Toronto has a very active filming presence. Both in film and television. If he wants to continue making connections, TIFF is there every year. Toronto festival has a lot of clout and prestige. He doesn’t need to be in NYC, or L.A. for that matter. What Ryan said in past chapter is soo true. You are playing the game to keep up in NY.  Losing yourself in process.

I’m biting my tongue on Rachel. It’s time for Ryan to make boundaries very clear to her. Shes very much out of line with her actions.

 

Agreed. Except it's difficult to see all that when people are living in New York, they're too close to it all to have any perspective. It takes a while for them see what's really going on. 

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On 2/25/2018 at 11:02 PM, Geemeedee said:

I guess I’m the only one on Rachel’s side in this. I think I would’ve done the same thing! I don’t like the way she’s dealt with Ryan’s porn past, but she can want what’s best for her brother and wonder if Erik is it. And she saw what NY did to Ryan, and doesn’t want him to hurt like that again. However, I say all this as an only child who’s never experienced such a relationship. Maybe I’d really want to kick her ass. LOL

 

No matter the method, tho, the two finally did admit their feelings. Who knows how long it would’ve dragged on without her impetus.

 

Ah, a second person who is on Rachel's side :D

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On 2/26/2018 at 7:05 AM, Terry P said:

I know it's a really tough decision for Eric to make, but once he does he'll feel so much better and freer.  It'll all be uphill after that.

 

Yeah, he'll feel a whole lot better once he makes his decision!

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