Thursday, March 15, 2018

After the worst year ever...

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I have been far more absent than present of late. The past year or so has rocked me off of my foundations and I currently lack the spoons to do much of anything. In November of 2016 my husband fell ill. In February of last year the cause was determined to be pancreatic cancer. Three days later he was whisked into surgery for ten hours to have half his pancreas, half his stomach, his duodenum (the part of the intestine connected to the stomach), his gall bladder, and over 30 lymph nodes removed. We were hopeful that, indeed, surgery had managed to remove all the cancer and he would be one of the lucky few who survive this devastating illness. Once surgical recovery was done chemotherapy started. Several trips a week to the infusion center, for chemo, for fluids, for shots to bolster his immune system, not to mention the inevitable hospitalizations when those efforts failed.

Through all this I maintained a stoic exterior. I went to every appointment, talked to every doctor and nurse, and continued to keep life as normal as possible for everyone. I drove the kids to work and school, did the shopping and cleaning, tempted my husband to eat even when he wasn't hungry, and, in general, tried to soldier on as if normalcy could drive the shadow from our doorstep.

My efforts were futile. In January his condition deteriorated to the point where no more treatments were possible and he was transitioned to hospice care. Four weeks later he was dead. I knew it was coming, I thought I was prepared...but nothing prepares you to lose your partner of 36 years. And now I am adrift. I spend every day seconds away from a panic attack. The nervous churning in my gut is a constant. Sleep eludes me at night and dogs me during the day. Food is an uphill battle...and I cannot seem to get anything accomplished, even though there is a pile of urgent matters I need to tackle.

At the best of times I have issues with communicating verbally. Face to face is difficult, and just the thought of speaking on the telephone sends me huddling in a corner. Yet there are urgent phone calls to be made, and I no longer have a partner to delegate those tasks to. I also need to go back to work. After a decade of freelancing while I divided my time between home and caring for my aging father, I now have to somehow convince an employer that I am worthy of hiring at the ripe old age of 59. The cost of battling cancer has left me deeply in debt, with all my retirement and savings long gone.

So...for many reasons I haven't been as visible as I once was. I may become even less visible as I struggle to climb back out of the emotional and financial pit I have fallen into. But I haven't forgotten you. I want to come back. I even have some wonderful ideas percolating that, with luck, may even make it onto the page.

Miss you all very much.

Friday, August 18, 2017

New Release from Juliette Banks - Out of the Darkness

"I can't keep traipsing three miles every time I want to spank that delectable little behind of yours."
As a beautiful and famous model, she has the life many young girls dream of.
Yet the missing father; the predatory stepfather; the abusive lover; they all let her down, and damaged her judgement about the men she meets.
She thought she had met the man of her dreams, yet fate was cruel.
Until one day, at an airport, she meets the strong, yet kind, dominant man she had longed to meet.
Is he the man she has sought her whole life? Will he show her the way out of the darkness and into the loving, submissive relationship she has always craved?

"Oh I work hard, but I play hard, too. Do you play hard, Marianne?"

NOTE: This book was previously published, under the same title but with a different cover, under the author name of Rachel de Vine. The book has sweet romance, but also contains explicit sex and some BDSM practices. If this material offends you, please do not purchase.

Now on sale at Amazon for only $.99 for one short week

Amazon US       Amazon UK       Amazon Canada        Amazon Australia

We were scarcely inside the door before William issued his first command. "Down. On all fours."
His instructions were given in a calm, quiet tone, but I knew that he meant business. I dropped to the floor immediately and waited, head bowed, awaiting further instructions.
"Crawl over to the middle of the room."
I crawled slowly on hands and knees across the room and stopped. For all my submission, I had never felt so powerful and sexually voracious. I heard William go over to the bar and pour himself a drink. I heard the clink of a glass stopper and knew he’d poured a whisky or brandy from one of the decanters on top of the bar. He walked back towards me and stopped a few feet behind me. He stood for perhaps a minute, without moving. I couldn’t see him but I sensed his eyes taking in the curve of my bottom beneath the silk dress.
"Lift up your dress. I want to see you."
I shuddered with sexual anticipation and did as he said. I couldn’t resist arching my back and pushing out my bottom as I did so.
Again he remained still, looking at me. Again he waited in silence for at least a minute.
He left me where I was and went over to one of the armchairs and sat down with his drink, and said nothing for a couple of minutes. I was beginning to relax when he again spoke. "Anticipation."
He didn’t continue for a moment and I was unsure if I was expected to respond in some way, or whether this was an instruction of which I was unfamiliar.
"Anticipation is the key. You are anticipating what I might do with you. I’m anticipating the pleasure that awaits us. Our minds are slowly increasing the sexual tension. Don't you agree, Marianne, that anticipation is the key?"
"A man could go to war in defence of a body like yours, you know. You hold most men in the palm of your hand.”

He took off my dress and my bra, and I sat before him, head lowered, ready to submit. "Stand up. Place your hands flat on the cushion of the other chair, and spread your legs, and wait for me to attend to you."
I did as instructed and heard William get up and walk away, either to his bedroom or bathroom. I trembled, partly with nerves and partly with sexual expectation. One minute passed, then two. I remembered what he had said about anticipation. This was my time to anticipate what lay ahead, and the sexual need within me doubled in strength. I needed what this man was about to give me. I needed him like I needed air to breathe and water to drink. I lifted my bottom just a little higher and waited to be taken to heaven.
William returned. He had changed into his black jogging pants and t-shirt. He placed something down on to the arm of the chair, but I daren't look around. I remained absolutely still and silent. He bent over and kissed my back and ran his hand over my bottom.
"A man could go to war in defence of a body like yours, you know. You hold most men in the palm of your hand, even strict Doms such as me, and you have no idea of the power you have, do you? I don't think I have ever met another beautiful woman who has less awareness of her beauty as you have."
I didn’t reply. I don't think he expected a reply. I’d heard this before, and perhaps he was right. From childhood I had never been told I was pretty and grew up with the idea that I was quite ordinary. Even after I was discovered by the modelling agency, and became one of the world's top models, I never really believed that I was beautiful. I always thought my success was the result of a fluke, and that one day I would be found out and exposed as a fake. Perhaps the messages I’d heard over the years from men were at last starting to get through the barrier that I had erected around my fragile psyche.
My thoughts were interrupted by a sharp slap on my bottom by William's hand. I snapped my attention back to the present. Then came another stroke. I breathed deep. I was back in the zone where I wanted to be. All I could think of was this powerful, masculine man standing behind me, raising his arm and bringing his hand sharply and crisply down, warming my flesh and lifting us both to the joyful place of sexual excitement and passion.
William gave me about twenty strokes with his hand, before stopping and reaching between my legs. He plunged two fingers into my sex. I gave a deep groan in response to the sudden intrusion. A sexual tremor went from my pussy to my brain, and back again. God, I wanted this man so badly.
"Yes, Marianne, you want me as much as I want you, don't you?"
"I want you so badly. Please fuck me, Sir."
He didn’t reply, but pushed me down on to the chair, so that I was kneeling on the cushion and leaning over the chair back. I felt his hard body press up behind me and he pulled down his jogging pants. He leaned over me and I could feel his breath against my neck. He took the lobe of my ear into his mouth and gently bit on it, before kissing it.
There was nothing I wanted more than to wake up every morning next to him, even if I was tied to the bedpost.

"Do you like strawberries and cream Marianne? I’ve just tasted one and they are sweet and juicy."
"Yes, Sir."
"Good. Open your mouth for me."
He pressed a large strawberry, dipped in cream gently against my lips and I opened them to take a bite. When I had finished it I licked my lips.
"You have a little cream left on your lip. Let me lick it off."
His tongue swirled around my lips and removed whatever was there.
"Now it’s my turn to eat one, and I plan to eat mine from a very special dish."
I felt a strawberry placed on my stomach, in the dip of my belly button.
"I'd like some cream on mine too."
A small amount of cream was poured on top of the strawberry, and then William bent over and ate the fruit from me, licking around the skin to lap up the cream. I gave a soft moan, wondering if it was possible to orgasm from the simple effect of strawberry eating.
He fed me another strawberry, and this time he ate the next two from my breasts, making sure to lick the cream off thoroughly.
"There’s one more place from where I would like to finish dessert."
I guessed the place he had in mind. Sure enough his fingers went down between my legs and a large strawberry was pressed between the lips of my labia.
"You seem to be producing your own juice down here. I don't think this strawberry needs any cream. Would you like to taste yourself Marianne?"
The question didn’t require an answer it seemed, as William plucked the strawberry from its hiding place and placed in my open mouth. I could taste and smell my own excitement on the surface of the fruit.
"I think that the juice down here needs licking away, don't you?"
William went down between my legs and began to lick my pussy. I was on the edge of exploding with pleasure and he must have sensed it.
"I want you to come, Marianne. I want to watch you come."
He lifted his head, but his fingers remained to massage my clit, while he thrust other fingers inside me. I called out as the most intense feeling of pleasure that I have ever felt radiated out from somewhere deep within my groin and sent shivers and goose bumps to my extremities. I wanted it to go on forever.
William took off the silk scarf and saw my eyes were misted with tears, but they were tears of joy at the experience he’d just given me. He bent over and kissed me hard on my lips. I could see an expression of lust in his eyes. He hadn't finished with me yet.

Was it to be pleasure or pain this time, or perhaps a combination of both, given in the way that only he can?

About Juliette:
I write erotic romance as both Juliette Banks and Rachel de Vine, and love to write about sensual, romantic and erotic characters who lead interesting lives, and who often have to overcome challenges along the way. I prefer to write erotic romance, rather than straight erotica, because I am essentially a romantic person, but I also like to involve my characters in an exciting life of Dominance and submission at different levels.
I am British, love the rural life and live in a beautiful home in the middle of the rolling English countryside. I also like to travel around the world from time to time, and have visited some beautiful and exciting places on the way. I am forever grateful that I was born in a place and at a time to take advantage of the freedoms and pleasures that are still denied to many people of the world. We must never take such freedom for granted.
Contact Links:
Amazon Author Page

You Tube Channel

Facebook page

Monday, May 22, 2017

Highland Pursuits is FREE until May 25th

Emmanuelle de Maupassant recently launched her saucy 1920s romance romp: 'Highland Pursuits’. To celebrate, she’s offering a free copy for your Kindle – but only for a few days, from 22-25th May. Don’t miss out.

There’s also a signed paperback of ‘Highland Pursuits’ up for grabs.

Do drop your name in the hat here.

1920s debutante Lady Ophelia Finchingfield is banished to wildest Scotland to come to her senses, having refused a proposal from the Earl of Woldershire. In the care of her eccentric grandmother, Ophelia is soon caught between rugged widower Hamish and the villainous Comte de Montefiore.

She’s ready to play with fire, but will she burn more than her fingers?

What readers are saying

I can’t tell you how much I love this book. It was a true delight to read. The author has captured 1920s Britain wonderfully, and her detail is exquisite. – Rachel De Vine

As a comedy of manners, this is exceptionally well done. – Fionna Guillaume 

Highland Pursuits is a wry, clever, incredibly sexy romp… a completely engrossing, utterly enjoyable read. I can't recommend it highly enough…fabulously fun - Malin James

The scene was set beautifully… I felt like I went back in time to high society Scotland - Christine of Sweet and Spicy Reads


Find 'Highland Pursuits' on Goodreads and for sale on Amazon 


Pssst…  if you enjoy Highland Pursuits, don’t forget to leave a review. Reviews make books more visible online, bringing new eyes. If you're on Twitter or Facebook, tag Emmanuelle in your review post and she'll say hello. 

Social Media Links

Explore Emmanuelle’s website here
Find her on Twitter here
and on Facebook here
or sign up for Emmanuelle’s newsletter here
(exclusive giveaways and goodies)

Monday, May 8, 2017

A long deferred update

I admit, I have never been the most consistent blogger...but lately I have been completely absent. My apologies, but my attention has been elsewhere. First, there was the disastrous election here in the US, which left me fighting to keep my head from exploding. Then my personal world was knocked for a huge loop when my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

If you are interested, the early stages of the process are documented on his GoFundMe page (because, of course, we have no money set aside for a disaster of this magnitude). Now the surgical recovery is complete, and we have embarked on the long, exhausting path of chemotherapy and radiation. 

On top of all that, I am now the primary driver for the family, making sure Paul makes it to all his doctor's appointments, my son makes it to school and work, and his girlfriend makes it to her, of course, all the ancillary running around for groceries, prescriptions, and all the places a couple of 21 year olds need to get to!

So, for now, writing is kind of on the back burner. I have the desire, but very little time to actually sit down and type without constant interruption. Hopefully this will change and I will soon have better writing related news to post here!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Release Day - Morrow's Horizon by Sierra Kummings

Morrow’s Horizon, the first in an all-new series of standalones from Sierra Kummings is now LIVE!

Morrow’s Horizon by Sierra Kummings
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blood, and love for a special little girl, bind the five Morrow sisters in an unbreakable way. Yet the family-devoted Sara Morrow yearns for more.

And that “more” looks a lot like the irresistible Jacob Ramírez.

For years, Sara’s contented herself with toe-curling fantasies about the CFO of the bank that employs her – all the while promising herself she’d never fall for the type of passion that destroyed her parent’s marriage. But when the one and only Latin six-foot-four god accepts her offer of help and turns her fantasies into reality, she’s forced to decide if it’s worth finding out if her boss is everything she’s dreamed of, or just the manifestation of all her fears.

Jacob has his own set of fears. Right out of high school, he joined the Marines, only to come home six years later with night terrors that haunt even his days. Now, at thirty-three, rudimentary techniques keep his secret hidden.

Until a chance meeting with Sara Morrow coincides with a deception that rocks him to his core.

When Sara’s faith is tested, her sisters’ love gives her the courage to believe in someone else. When Jacob’s is tested, he has to learn how to believe in himself.

Read Today!
Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

Add to GoodReads:

About the Author:

Sierra Kummings is a writer of contemporary erotic romances. Her three loves are her family, writing, and chocolate–though not always in that order. She discovered creative writing in high school, but set her dream aside to pursue a master’s degree in professional counseling. She now puts her degree to good use strengthening characters that have been in her head since her teens. In addition to penning hot romances, she also proudly claims the title of mother to an incredible little girl who inspires her every day.

Connect with the Author:
Twitter: @SierraKummings
Stay up to date with Sierra by signing up for her newsletter:

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Release Day - Highland Pursuits by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Emmanuelle de Maupassant is thrilled to announce the launch of her saucy 1920s romance romp: 'Highland Pursuits’.

In celebration, Emmanuelle is not only offering three signed paperback copies, via Goodreads here, but has her entire catalogue on sale for 99c/99p from March 1st-8th: Baby Love, Scarlet, Cautionary Tales and Gentlemen's Club (as recommended by Stylist Magazine)

1920s debutante Lady Ophelia Finchingfield is banished to wildest Scotland to come to her senses, having refused a proposal from the Earl of Woldershire. In the care of her eccentric grandmother, Ophelia is soon caught between rugged widower Hamish and the villainous Comte de Montefiore.

She’s ready to play with fire, but will she burn more than her fingers?

What readers are saying

I can’t tell you how much I love this book. It was a true delight to read. The author has captured 1920s Britain wonderfully, and her detail is exquisite. – Rachel De Vine

As a comedy of manners, this is exceptionally well done. – Fionna Guillaume 

Highland Pursuits is a wry, clever, incredibly sexy romp… a completely engrossing, utterly enjoyable read. I can't recommend it highly enough…fabulously fun - Malin James

The scene was set beautifully… I felt like I went back in time to high society Scotland - Christine of Sweet and Spicy Reads


Find 'Highland Pursuits' on Goodreads  and for sale on Amazon



Emmanuelle sends enormous thanks to her editor, Adrea Kore, for her help in bringing ‘Highland Pursuits’ into the world. She says: ‘Adrea is an incredibly talented writer, and a wonderful friend. Her editing skills helped bring the words alive. She is a marvel and I'm so glad that one day, forever ago, we found each other.’ 

'Highland Pursuits' draws inspiration from a short story of the same title Emmanuelle wrote originally for the charity fundraising anthology Because Beards: all proceeds have been given to the Movember Foundation.

This longer, novella, length offers more scope to explore the wonderful characters' eye-popping shenanigans. Hamish and Ophelia were in Emmanuelle’s dreams for many weeks, as she wrote this story. 


Pssst…  if you enjoy Highland Pursuits, don’t forget to leave a review. Reviews make books more visible online, bringing new eyes. If you're on Twitter or Facebook, tag Emmanuelle in your review post and she'll say hello. 

Social Media Links

Explore Emmanuelle’s website here
Find her on Twitter here
and on Facebook here
sign up for Emmanuelle’s newsletter here 

Monday, October 31, 2016

A final Halloween tale

One final tale for this spookiest of holidays - definitely not safe for work!! Our memories and our reality don't always coincide, especially in the winter of love.

Hooded eyes kept watch on the tall figure across the room, tracking every move as Peter pulled on some jeans and an old faded t-shirt. Armand couldn't help the way his eyes followed the muscular backside as the younger man turned and left, brushing past his silent observer without so much as a murmur of apology.
Four days, Armand thought. I've been trying to talk to him for four damn days. Every time he leaned close to whisper in his lover's ear, Peter just continued on his way, leaving him behind.
It's almost Christmas, he realized with a start. Not that there's any real winter in this godforsaken place.
A year ago this city had been their haven, a magical escape from the too canny scrutiny of friends and family. Now it had become his prison and he was locked in this hellish limbo. Five minutes. He just needed to capture Peter's attention for five minutes. After almost six years together you wouldn't think it was too much to ask.
Armand trailed down the street, never losing sight of Peter's taller frame, although he made no effort to move closer. What's the point. He's too distracted right now. Maybe when he's getting ready for bed. Decision made, he slowed his pace.
His eyes narrowed when he realized their destination, but he persevered and headed inside. He found a seat in the shadows, watching as one man after another took the stage. Armand's eyes slid shut and his mind drifted to days long gone, abandoning the present for shadows of the past.

"Come dance with me.” He looked up into sparkling cobalt eyes and shook his head to clear it.
"Excuse me,” Armand managed. “I didn't hear what you said.”
"Dance with me,” the stranger insisted, pulling him up from his seat and flush against his hard chest.
"I don't dance.”
"Everyone dances.” The dark-haired man towed him out onto the floor, effortlessly guiding him through the steps until he finally began to relax. “See, it's not so bad.” The husky whisper next to his ear brought a blush to his cheeks and Armand buried his face in his partner's broad shoulder as he attempted to will it away.
"I haven't seen you here before,” the stranger continued. “I'd remember you.”
Armand turned wide chocolate eyes on the man holding him. “Why? There's nothing memorable about me.” He slapped his hand over his mouth as soon as the words left him.
"On the contrary, that blush is memorable all on its own. The rest of you even more so. My name's Peter, by the way, and you are?”
"Armand,” he mumbled. “I just moved here.”
"Well, aren't we lucky . . . at least, I am.” Peter chuckled, dipping his shocked partner and then pulling him close.
Armand opened his mouth to protest, but a pair of lips were pressed to his. Soft, slightly chapped lips displaying a dizzying amount of experience. Slowly, gently, wonderfully, that sensual mouth moved over his until he swayed up against his larger partner as his legs threatened to give out. His hands moved to clutch broad shoulders, and he clung to the taller man as sensation flooded though him.
Somewhere in the middle of this perfect kiss, a tongue slipped into Armand's mouth. He gasped as it caressed his, boldly tasting and teasing. All he could do was moan helplessly, not even feeling the hands drifting down his back to close over his ass. They squeezed gently, and Armand tried to push himself closer. He never wanted this to end, the amazing sensation could go on forever as far as he was concerned. Tentatively he pushed out his own tongue, and Peter made a satisfied sound in the back of his throat as he twined them together.
Finally he pulled away as they both needed to breathe. Armand was a panting, flushed mess, only held upright by the strength of his arms. “Now, that was a kiss.”
Armand stared at him out of dazed eyes. “You had no right,” he sputtered.
"Now, now, I know you liked it,” Peter purred. “And I know I liked it. What on earth is wrong with that?”
"I'm not in the habit of kissing strange men. You presume too much.” A dark scowl settled on his face as Armand crossed his arms over his chest. “I'm not interested, sorry.”
"I think you'll change your mind,” came the cocky reply. “In fact, I'm so sure of it I'll agree to meet you here tomorrow.”
"You'll be waiting in vain.”
"I'd much rather waste an evening than miss out on the chance to get to know you better.” Peter's soft, husky baritone sent shivers running up his spine, and Armand knew he was in trouble.
Rather than risk answering he merely snorted, pushing through the crowd and out into the cool night air without looking back.

Armand blinked his eyes open in surprise and focused on the present when the announcement came over the loudspeakers. Finally. He leaned forward, resting his head on his crossed arms as he regarded the lanky masked man strutting onto the stage.
His fists clenched at the sight of his lover, dressed in nothing but a pair of tight black leather pants, a few straps of the same supple leather wrapped strategically around his torso and upper body. The mask covering his eyes made him seem mysterious, exotic, even dangerous.
The music started, a heavy bass beat that rumbled the floor and sent the watchers surging towards the stage. Anonymous men, pressing close to try and touch all that perfect pale flesh.
He growled, but didn't move, watching through narrowed eyes as Peter whipped them into a frenzy, stretching and twisting around the pole for several minutes before thumbing open the button on his pants and sliding down the zipper.
Peter went back to dancing, and Armand's mouth went dry at the tantalizing glimpse of hipbone and silky smooth flesh revealed as he swiveled and dipped. He nearly lost his resolve and rushed up on stage when his lover tore the pants off with a sudden jerk.
The roar grew to a bellow, a sea of hands fisting bills. Instead of the usual g-string, more supple strips of leather wrapped his cock and balls, sliding in the cleft of his ass and continuing down long, muscular legs.
For his part Peter merely shut his eyes and continued to dance, trying to lose himself in happy memories. This is all Armand's fault, he decided bitterly. I don't have any other options left. He repressed the shudder that threatened to ripple through him as rough, unfamiliar hands pulled at the leather straps cutting across his flesh, slipping tattered bills inside as they stole a lingering touch. He stifled his rising distaste, hiding in thoughts of the past to avoid facing the present.

"I knew you'd come,” Peter exclaimed in delight. His eyes drank in the sight of the man who made his heart quicken. As soon as he'd spied the coltish figure he knew he wanted a closer look. One glance into liquid chocolate eyes and he was hooked.
He'd worried for a few minutes that perhaps he'd been too forward. They hadn't even properly introduced themselves before he stuck his tongue down Armand's throat. Still, he couldn't have minded too much, he'd come back.
The music was almost a physical presence, a heavy salsa rhythm that pounded through his body, making it impossible for Armand to muster his thoughts into any sort of coherent order. Peter pulled the smaller man into his arms, swaying to the beat as he maneuvered them skillfully off the dance floor and into a secluded alcove. He pressed the slighter man into the corner, arms on either side, pinning him to the wall. One of his lean thighs was thrust between Armand's legs, hip pressed into his growing bulge.
Peter's laugh was wicked and sensual, and Armand couldn't find the will to protest. A hand curled around the back of his head and mouths met, tongues gliding together in an erotic caress. Hands slid down his back, closing over his ass, worming their way under his shirt to stroke bare skin. Armand grabbed the taller man's biceps with bloodless fingers as their mouths mated. He knew if those wicked touches slid any further down he would lose his mind.
"That's the taste I've been craving,” Peter muttered when they pulled apart to breathe. He dragged his tongue across the sensitive flesh at the junction of Armand's neck and shoulder and was gifted with a breathy moan that raised hairs on the back of his neck.
"Why me?” Armand gasped. “There's so many good looking men here.” He waved an arm to indicate the swaying sea of bodies and the expanses of perfectly toned flesh they boldly displayed.
"The moment I saw you, I knew.” The whispered response sent a surge of lust straight to Armand's groin. Peter captured his mouth yet again, tongue plunging inside to dance teasingly over its counterpart while the slight figure rubbed the evidence of his attraction against a muscular thigh.
Peter pulled back, clasping wandering hands firmly in his larger ones. “We need to slow down. I don't want to ruin this.”
"Ruin what? We don't even know each other,” Armand muttered.
"All the more reason to take our time. Personally, I think you look like a keeper. I'll never have the pleasure of waking up next to you every day if I scare you off right from the start.”
"I'm far from scared, although maybe I should be,” Armand admitted. “I've never done this before. I moved here because I couldn't be who I really wanted to be.”
"You wanted to be my lover?” Peter asked in amusement. “Fine. Settled. What else can I do for you?”
"It's not nice to make fun of me. I'm fully aware of how ridiculous it is to be a twenty-seven year old virgin.”
"Virgin?” Peter's normally controlled baritone turned into a squeak and his hands tightened, yanking the smaller man close to whisper in his ear. “You have no idea how close I am to coming in my pants like some horny teenager, at how exciting that is. I would love to be the one to take you under my wing and teach you the ways of love. I've only been in town a few months myself. I tried hooking up with a few guys, but it never really worked out. Then I saw you.”

Peter blinked his eyes and brought his focus back to the present when the music ended. He hurried off stage, nimbly avoiding the grasping hands in the sea of faceless admirers. He threw some jeans and a sweatshirt over the remains of his costume and slipped out the back door.
Armand paced the hurrying figure, staying far enough back not to irk his peevish lover, but close enough to make sure he was alright. He waited patiently while Peter cleaned up and settled down, only joining him on the couch after he'd had a glass of wine. “I really need to talk to you.”
No response was better than a brush off, so Armand plunged ahead. “I've been trying to find the words, but it can't wait. I feel like you're slipping away from me.”
Peter sighed and stretched. Armand watched in a fit of pique as he stumbled to his feet and headed to the bedroom. By the time he caught up, muted snores were rumbling out of the inert form sprawled diagonally across their bed.
He settled in the corner, huffing in frustration. Tipping his head back against the wall, Armand let his eyes slip shut. He fought back the rising tide of anger surging inside of him, conjuring a vision of happier times, anything to offset the despair threatening to crush him completely.

The mattress bulged ominously, then exploded into the room, tumbling the two men behind it across the floor to land in a tangled heap. “We haven't even tried it out yet and already this new bed is bringing me luck.” Peter leaned in for a slow sensual kiss, rolling his lover underneath his larger form and rubbing against him suggestively.
Their mouths met, and Armand lifted his hands to clutch at broad shoulders. It was a long, deep, wonderful kiss, and his body was aching to move on long before Peter abandoned his lips and began to lick the sweat off his skin.
He panted and made breathy sounds as that wicked tongue tickled over sensitive flesh, quickly reminding him that he was amazingly sensitive in the most unexpected places. The backs of his knees, the crook of his elbows, the side of his neck, Peter explored them all, taking his time, his hands following his mouth in caresses that made Armand almost dizzy with lust.
"I vote we christen the bed now.” The sound of his lover's voice had a blushing Armand struggling to right himself on the toppled mattress.
"We need to get it set up first, then put the sheets and things on. After dinner will be soon enough.”
"I think not.” Peter yanked on Armand's leg, tumbling him back down to sprawl wantonly on his chest.
"Stop. We have things to do.”
"Your protests are getting weaker by the moment.” Peter's husky whisper sent shivers racing across his skin. “There's no one here but us. I want to celebrate. After all, it's not every day you move in with the man of your dreams.”
"Stop being so silly.”
"I'm not the man of your dreams?” The plaintive note in his lover's voice had Armand taking a closer look. He was surprised to see his boyfriend worrying his bottom lip between his teeth as he waited for an answer.
"Of course you are. I meant we don't need to celebrate.”
"I want to celebrate everything with you,” Peter whispered as he pulled the slighter form into his arms and kissed his nape. “Just in case.”
"In case of what?”
"In case you decide you don't need me anymore.”
"Isn't gonna happen.” Armand turned in the taller man's arm's and pushed him back into the mattress, straddling his lap. “Now, what exactly did you have in mind for this celebration?”
The only response he got was a hot mouth closing around his nipple, sending shock waves of sensation running straight to his arousal. He sighed, wiggling a bit to settle Peter's erection comfortably in the cleft of his ass. “Wait a minute. When'd you get naked?”
"While you were blathering on about making beds and eating dinner,” Peter mumbled around his morsel of reddening flesh. Hard hands roughly caressed his chest. Armand let out a loud groan when tormenting fingers were replaced by a hot, wet mouth, leaving them free to explore defined abs. He stilled for a moment when inquisitive fingers undid his pants, dipping inside to stroke sensitive skin, sending shivers through his frame.
Peter rolled them over and pulled back, slowly peeling off Armand's pants and boxers. When he slid them free he gazed worshipfully at all the delectable flesh revealed to his hungry eyes. He bent to nuzzle a taut thigh before mouthing a wet path across his lover's balls and up the underside of his straining member.
Armand let out a keening wail when lips closed around the head of his cock. “Oh fuck, so good.” Peter’s hot mouth and talented tongue slid down his length, twisting and twirling before sucking hard. Retreating, only to retrace its steps. “Don’t stop,” he cried when his weeping length was released, only to be swallowed to the root yet again.
Armand was fighting not to come. The things that tongue were doing were absolutely sinful. His cock hardened impossibly, dripping precum and throbbing in time with his thundering pulse. He fought to stave off his orgasm, thinking of every turn-off he could as he moaned and writhed like a cat in heat. When Peter pulled back again he groaned in relief, finally able to gain some control.
The feeling was short lived. Large calloused hands easily flipped their positions and began tracing the planes of his back. Peter licked and nipped a slow lazy trail down his spine, laying tender kisses across the saddle of his hips before lapping and nuzzling pert buttocks. He spread the firm globes and dipped his head to place a kiss on the hidden pucker. He pressed his tongue against the fluttering hole and flicked the tip, reveling in the wanton moan it pulled from kiss-swollen lips. His tongue swirled and then dipped inside, retreating to thrust deeper, stroking hot velvet walls, dragging forth the most wonderful sounds and spurring him on.
Fingers came into play alongside that wicked tongue and Armand was spread wide and plundered, arching and groaning as his prostate was stroked. His disappointment over losing those taunting fingers dissipated when the broad head of his lover's erection nudged his loosened entrance. It pushed inside, his mouth flying open in a silent O of pleasure and pain. He scrambled for something to cling to on the unmade bed, having to settle for fistfuls of the slippery mattress cover.
"So fucking wonderful.” Peter's husky whisper trailed off into a guttural moan as his erection slowly and inexorably sank in to the hilt. He immediately began a measured slide, in and out, occasionally adding a hard thrust that had Armand seeing stars. For his part, any control he might have had was wrenched away by the wave of lust the huskily whispered words triggered. When the hard length filled him completely he was lost.
Peter increased the pace, keeping his lover's hips in a bruising iron grip, pulling him back until he was almost sitting in the taller man’s lap. A long fingered hand wrapped around Armand's dripping erection and began to stroke him firmly in time with the thrusts, occasionally adding a twist and the firm stroke of a calloused thumb across the sensitive tip.

Armand was pulled out of his reverie by the sound of his lover's whimpers. Obviously his dream wasn't of happier times, the lanky figure shuddered and shook. “Don't leave me,” Peter screamed as he flung himself upright, panting and shivering. His eyes combed the shadows, looking for something that wasn't there. He abandoned his search, dragging himself out of bed and into the bathroom. He stared at the haggard face in the mirror while the tub filled, gratefully immersing himself in the steaming water and shutting his eyes.
Think happy thoughts . . . easier said than done. He sighed as the tension finally started to leach out of his aching muscles. Hasn't been much to be happy about lately. He cast his mind back, searching for the last time he could claim to be truly happy. No ugly truth hanging over his head like a dark cloud.

"Honey, I'm home,” Armand called from the door. “Are you ready? We're going to be late.”
"I don't see why you can't tell me where we're going.” Peter emerged from the bedroom half dressed, tucking his shirt in with one hand while the other busily tried to sort his hair into some semblance of order. “And what have I said about calling me honey?”
"I can't tell you because then it wouldn't be a surprise.”
"I don't particularly like surprises.” The petulant retort elicited a broad smile in response.
"You'll like this one. You trust me, don't you?” Armand asked teasingly.
"Of course I trust you.”
"Right answer.” Soft lips pressed up against Peter's as he opened his mouth to continue his protests, effectively derailing his train of thought. “Now, we have a train to catch.”
A few short hours later they were striding through a beautifully manicured Japanese garden, possibly the most enchanting place he'd ever been. “Hurry up slowpoke.” Armand yanked on his hand, towing Peter's taller form determinedly behind him.
"But it's so beautiful, I just want to stop and enjoy.”
"Not yet, they're waiting.” They climbed the steps to an ornate gazebo lit by flickering oil lamps and the light of the full moon.
"They who? What's going on?” Peter stubbornly refused to move forward until he got some answers.
"It's our anniversary. Five years ago you asked me to dance. Don't you remember?”
"Of course I remember. That doesn't explain why we're here.”
"It may not mean anything when we get back home, but I want to marry you.” Armand's husky response had him turning wide eyes on his lover.
"Marry me?”
"Unless you don't want to,” Armand whispered, suddenly afraid he'd made a grave error in judgment.
"I'll never love anyone the way I love you. Of course I'll marry you.” Peter squeezed his hand, searching his lover's eyes, fearful there was some sort of catch.
They stood in front of strangers and spoke from the heart, binding themselves together as tightly as they could. “You do know what this means.” Peter turned a crinkle-eyed smile his husband's way. “Now it's time for the honeymoon.”

Peter shook his head, sliding under the surface of the water and looking at the distorted view for a moment. That was over a year ago. The beginning of the end. He pushed the morbid train of thought to the back of his mind, determined to get at least a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep.
When he padded back into the bedroom he didn't even glance at the other side of the bed. Slipping under the covers, he turned his back on his silent lover. For his part, Armand didn't press, it was obvious Peter was under stress, no point in pushing when he wasn't receptive. Maybe tomorrow, he concluded before settling in to keep watch over the slumbering form. Memories rose unbidden behind closed eyes, reminding him of why he kept his silent vigil.

"He asked you to do what?” Armand was certain he hadn't heard correctly.
"He saw us at the club the other night. He asked me if I wanted a job as a dancer,” Peter explained, holding out the flimsy business card for his lover's inspection.
"This is a strip club. You said no didn't you?”
"I didn't say anything. I just took the card.”
"Fine,” Armand bit out. “I'll make sure he understands you aren't interested.”
"We could use the money. It wouldn't mean anything,” Peter insisted. “I'd still be yours.”
"No, absolutely not. I'll shovel shit first.”
"You're jealous. That's so cute.”
"Of course I'm jealous,” Armand whispered. “I'm nothing special. You'll meet some rich, good looking man and leave me.”
"I'll never leave you,” Peter assured him. “You're stuck with me, like it or not.”
"I'm not willing to take the chance.”
He'd gone to the club owner, explaining that Peter was not to be approached again. But instead of backing off, the refusal only seemed to pique the man's interest. The offers got richer, the refusals more brusque.

Not that it did any good. Armand sighed. The scene at the club last night rose unbidden to his mind. They'll have him in someone's bed if I don't do something. He considered having another talk with the club owner, but decided he wasn't likely to have better luck the second time around. That left Peter as the sole avenue of approach. Peter who still stubbornly refused to hear him out.
Armand was sure the so-called support group Peter had started going to was part of the problem. He failed to see how this forced estrangement was helping anything. He'd never been a particularly jealous man, but this new coldness between them had him taking a second look at everyone. The “buddy” system meant his husband was now spending an inordinate amount of time with another man. He wasn't sure what Michael's angle was. All he had managed to glean about the man from his eavesdropping was that he had joined the support group after his lover died.
He twisted his neck from left to right, listening to the satisfying series of pops before rubbing his temples in an attempt to soothe his mounting tension. At least my head doesn't hurt. In fact, it had been days since he'd had one of his headaches. It almost felt wrong, over the last year he'd become used to the crippling attacks. Not that he had much choice, they hit him at random. If he hadn't learned to cope, he would have been incapacitated.
He hated the way the episodes had taken over his life, certain that the constant hassle of caring for a semi-invalid husband was the reason for Peter's coldness. It frustrated him to no end. All those months Peter had cared for him. Now when he finally felt better, there was a gap he couldn't seem to cross.
Maybe I should plan something special. What grand romantic gesture would sweep him off his feet? He considered and discarded half a dozen ideas, searching his memories to assure he made the best impression.

"We're almost there,” Armand told his fidgeting lover. “Just keep your eyes closed until I tell you.” He carefully guided the taller man up a short rise and out onto a flat rock. “Now you can look.”
Peter dropped his hand to gaze out over a field of wildflowers. “This is beautiful. Where did you hear about this place?”
"I stumbled across it when I stopped one day to stretch my legs. Do you like it?”
"It's beautiful.”
"Then let's have a bite to eat and enjoy it.” Armand whipped a picnic basket out from behind his back. He spread out the blanket and beckoned his lover closer with a single crook of his finger. “You know we're very isolated here. I'd be amazed if anyone else has stumbled on this spot.”
"So you won't mind if I do this?” Peter leaned in, a crooked grin blooming on his face, and kissed his lover. While their tongues battled, nimble fingers slid inside his waistband, tickling down his abdomen to caress his length. The tip of a calloused finger dipped into the slit, spreading pearly drops of precum in their wake. When they retreated he let out a pained groan, thrusting his hips hard against his slighter lover.
Then the tip of his erection bumped stubbled skin, and fingers stopped touching and teasing to tug impatiently at his pants. Peter lifted his hips, feeling his naked erection pushing into the soft flesh of his lover’s throat. His pants were tossed aside and a gust of cool air had his balls drawing up and goose pimples racing across exposed skin.
Peter cracked his eyes open in time to see Armand’s tongue snake out, laving a wet streak from his balls to the tip of his twitching erection. The combination of erotic visual and exquisite sensation was almost his undoing. His balls were inhaled and rolled in wet warmth, gently massaged and released, before that magical mouth enveloped him with agonizing slowness.
The hot mouth retreated, nibbling the thick vein tracing its way down the impressive length. Armand took just the head into his mouth, running his tongue around the rim and tonguing the slit. “Gods,” Peter muttered huskily before arching further into the inviting heat. His lover relaxed his throat, engulfing the rigid length to the base.
He slid up to the tip, twisting his tongue as he withdrew. As he slid back down he began to hum and Peter's control broke. He fisted his hands in his lover's hair to hold him in place and began to thrust his hips, moaning and growling as the sensations overwhelmed him. It wasn't long before the thrusts became erratic and he came with a roar, pumping his seed down Armand's throat.

Armand pulled himself back to the present, pushing to the back of his mind the knowledge that the picnic he remembered so fondly was also the scene of his first blinding headache. He knew it was a gamble, but hoped it would prove to Peter that he really was feeling better and their life could get back to normal. Now all he needed was his lover's agreement.
Each day he watched in silence while his husband poured his heart out to another man. At night he trailed Peter as he walked to the club, careful to maintain a discrete distance. Armand waiting patiently outside until he emerged to make sure he was safe. He was mildly concerned when his lover began to drink as soon as he got home in the evening, carrying a bottle into the bathroom with him and sitting for hours, letting the water grow cold while he drank himself into a stupor.
He watched with slitted eyes from the safety of the doorway as the arm holding the bottle finally grew lax, and it dropped to wobble across the tile. This was the third night in a row he'd had to keep watch over Peter, making sure he didn't slide under the surface of the water since he couldn't lift him out of the tub. Obviously something was bothering his husband terribly. Unfortunately, he didn't know what the problem was. He'd love to take care of it so they could move on. Armand knew he'd do anything to salvage this relationship before it slipped through his fingers.
Peter couldn't believe he'd passed out in the tub again. The sound that he'd imagined was his lover's heartbeat resolved to a fist banging on his front door. He swore as he pulled himself out of the icy water, yanking on a robe. He opened the door without even checking to see who it was, anything to stop the pounding that was threatening to split his head in two.
As soon as he forced his eyes to focus he regretted his haste. Peter pulled the robe tighter as he started to fidget under the club owner's heavy gaze. “You're not supposed to come here.”
"You never called me. I decided I'd waited long enough and I'd come find you.” The club owner looked Peter up and down appreciatively. “You gave me your address when you started working at the club. Remember? Now, don't you think you should invite me in? You aren't really dressed to be standing out in the street.”
Peter reluctantly stepped back to let his visitor enter. He shut the door and headed for the kitchen. “What do you want?”
"Now, now, is that any way to talk to the man paying your salary?”
"Just answer the question so I can get back to sleep.”
"You know why I'm here. I need your answer. He's a valued customer. You know he spends a fortune on you.”
"Not my problem.” Peter crossed his arms mulishly and glared.
"It's just a lap dance. All the other dancers do them. If you don't say yes, I'm just going to have to find someone who will.”
"You'll fire me?”
"In a heartbeat.” The club owner moved in to capture Peter's chin in cruel fingers. “You're nothing special. There are a hundred guys who want your spot.”
"And if I say yes?”
Armand's heart stopped. He couldn't even summon the will to protest. His Peter was agreeing to get naked and rub all that luscious flesh on a stranger. He stumbled out on the porch, gasping for air and trying not to break down.
He didn't trust himself to face his lover yet, so he lingered outside, feverishly concocting and rejecting plans to change his mind. When Peter's “buddy” Michael dropped by, Armand followed him in, taking a watchful stance in the corner while the two men talked.
"You actually said yes?” Michael couldn't stand to see Peter sink any lower. “You don't have to do this, you know. There are lots of other options.”
"I need the money.”
"You don't have to stay here. There are plenty of other places. You could find another job. It wouldn't pay as well, but you wouldn't have to act like a whore either.”
"That was uncalled for.” Peter began to pace, pulling on his hair as he tried to explain. “You're the one who keeps telling me to move on. If I do this, then it shows I'm putting the past behind me.”
"There are other ways to do that.”
"But this will make me accept that it's over.”
Michael didn't know what to say. He started and stopped a few times before clapping a hand on Peter's shoulder. “I'm here if you need me. Just think about it some more, please?”
Peter nodded, slumping on the couch and squeezing his head between his hands as soon as the other man left.
"You don't want to do this,” Armand whispered. “You don't have to do this. If you want to be free of me then go. You don't have to do this.”
The only response to his impassioned pleas was an airy sigh. His lover hoisted himself off the couch and went to dress for work. Armand watched with a heavy heart as he checked his costume. He wasn't stupid, he knew if Peter went through with this he'd lose him for good. It's not fair. I never had a chance to explain.
All too soon Peter's turn on stage was over. For the first time he actually wanted the dance to last longer. Anything to delay what was to come. As soon as he stepped off-stage he was whisked into one of the private rooms. “I need to change,” he insisted.
"Nope, sorry. He specifically requested you wear this.”
Of course he did, Peter thought sourly. It will be so much easier to 'accidentally' unravel these straps than remove a g-string. He swallowed hard and moved to stand in front of the seated patron.
When the music started he took a deep breath and began to slowly gyrate to the beat, grinding suggestively into his customer's back before gracefully straddling his lap. Peter shut his eyes and fought to detach himself from what he was doing. The feel of this stranger's erection rubbing against his ass made him want to shudder in revulsion. I need this job, he reminded himself.
The coarse hand unraveling the straps and rubbing suggestively over his hidden flesh was almost too much. It took all Peter's control not to jump and run. Flashes of his last dance with Armand rose to taunt him.

"I don't want to go out. I look ridiculous,” Armand insisted.
"I think you look hot,” his lover teased. “I like bald guys.”
"I thought you loved my hair.”
"I love you. Hair, no hair, I don't really care.” Peter leaned in to nuzzle his husband's neck. “This gives me easy access to all your sensitive spots.”
They arrived at the club early enough to grab a table by the floor. They watched the dancers and chatted idly, occasionally leaning in close to share a kiss.
A slow, lilting ballad began to play. “This is about my speed.” Armand towed his lover out onto the floor, smiling when strong arms wrapped around him and Peter began to hum in his ear.
"Any speed you like is fine with me,” Peter whispered. “Nothing wrong with a long slow burn.”
They spent the rest of the evening on the dance floor. Trading long open-mouthed kisses as they swayed to whatever was playing. When he couldn't stand another moment he pulled his husband out of the club.
They barely made it inside the door when Armand found himself pinned against the wall as his lover tried to suck his tongue out of his mouth. “Want you so bad,” Peter husked as he fumbled with the button on his husband's pants.
He pulled Armand close, pressing their lips together in a heartfelt kiss. “Let's move this somewhere more comfortable, shall we. I'd hate to come on the living room wall.”
Armand dove back in for another kiss, taking control and maneuvering them to the bed, his nimble hands caressing every inch of flesh they could reach. He suckled defined pectorals, then slid lower to trace the ridges of Peter's abdomen.
Peter let out a stifled gasp when that hot tongue slid lower, tickling the head of his penis before darting away to suckle his heavy sac.
Eventually Armand grew tired of teasing and swallowed the erection bobbing temptingly in front of his face, using the distraction to slide a slick finger through his lover's puckered ring.
He added a second finger and began to gently thrust them in time with the bobbing of his head. He smirked in satisfaction when Peter let out a loud moan, legs spreading impossibly wide in an attempt to encourage him. “Like that do you?” Armand chuckled before targeting his lover's prostate, eyes darkening with lust as he watched Peter writhe wantonly.
"I can't wait any longer.” Armand quickly lubed his erection before slowly pushing through the clenching muscle, both men letting out a sigh as he brushed over Peter's prostate and a shudder ran through the tall man.
"Make me yours,” Peter whispered when he was finally seated to the hilt. “No holding back.”
"I can't say no to such a tempting offer.” He folded Peter's long legs around his waist before getting to his knees, shifting inside the larger man until only the head remained in his clutching passage. “We're going to try something different. Just relax and let me take control, I promise not to hurt you.”
"Just move, or I will.”
"Oh no, you won't.” Armand thrust hard into the furnace of his lover's body, biting his lip to keep from coming at the deep erotic groan it pulled from his throat.
"Again,” Peter insisted. “Don't stop.”
"I couldn't stop if I wanted to.” Armand panted as he sped up the pace, plunging into his lover as he writhed and keened.
The continuous assault on his prostate proved to be too much and Peter was undone completely. He threw back his head and roared as his come spurted onto his husband's chest.
"I'm not done with you yet.” Armand twisted him to lay on his side, speeding up his thrusts until he came with a choked cry, eyes falling shut and his whole form shuddering with the force of his release.

Peter's eyes sprang open with a gasp. He leapt back off the lap he was perched on, quailing slightly at the heavy, lustful look directed his way.
"What's the hurry? We were just starting to have a good time,” the customer insisted.
"No, we weren't. Your dance is over, I need to get out of here.”
"I don't think so.” Peter suddenly noticed how large the man in the chair was. “We were having fun. Look, you're still hard for me.” When a meaty hand roughly fisted his erection Peter bolted, pulling on his clothes as he tore out the back door and headed for the safety of home.
He heard the door slam. Peter followed his usual evening routine and headed into the bathroom. When he headed back out a few minutes later and sat down on the edge of the bed, Armand steeled himself for the confrontation that was surely coming.
He cleared his throat, ready to broach the subject of their estrangement once again. He knew if he didn't speak now, he wouldn't have another chance. The words he'd been aching to say flooded his head. I love you. I'd never leave you. Please give us a chance. All of them stuck in his throat in the face of the broken man his lover had become.
Before he could speak Peter raised his head and fixed his eyes on his reflection in the mirror. “I don't know what you expect from me,” he croaked. “I know you don't approve of my dancing, but this was our home. I don't want to leave it and I can't swing the payments any other way. Everyone keeps telling me to walk away, make a fresh start, but I just can't.”
His head dropped onto his knees, arms dangling uselessly as strangled sobs shuddered through his frame. It was then Armand saw the bottle. The empty bottle. “It's the only thing that makes sense,” Peter slurred before his eyes dropped shut.
"You need to tell me what you've done,” Armand demanded, surprised when weary chocolate eyes lifted to lock with his own.
"Can't, you'll be angry,” came the whispered response.
"I'll never be angry with you. I've loved you since the day we met.”
"Liar. You left me,” Peter muttered.
"I'm right here,” Armand insisted. “I never left. I'll never leave. You're the one who stopped talking to me. But I don't want to fight about it, you need to get help.”
"No, I just want you. I want to stay with you. I can't stand to lose you again.”
The door burst open and Armand found himself swept aside by paramedics. “I should have checked him earlier,” Peter's friend Michael kept insisting. “He said everything was alright. He seemed ready to move on.”
"So he'd been upset about something?” the paramedic asked.
"We met at a bereavement support group. His lover died a couple months ago. He's had a hard time moving on.”
"No,” Armand whispered. “He's wrong. I'm Peter's lover.”
"Peter, I need you to talk to me. How many of these pills did you take?”
"None of their damn business.” Armand swiveled, eyes going wide at the sight of his husband standing behind him.
"But. . .” He gestured toward the limp body the emergency crew was laboring over.
"I won't lose you again.” Peter reached to embrace him, but never connected.
The body on the floor started to flail, and the crowded room emptied into the ambulance. The house was silent and still, free of the living and the dead. Armand settled on the edge of the bed, in the spot his lover had recently occupied. He was a patient man. The dead have all the time in the world, after all, and love is worth waiting for.