illustrated by Ryuu no Dokoro
Thank you to Silver Muse for the wonderful beta and to Ryuu no Dokoro for her patience and totally awesome illustrations.
When Ryan was fifteen, instead of obsessively playing video games, he applied for college. Unsurprisingly to his doting mother, he got in. After all, she had encouraged him to do it, because her son wasn’t only the apple of her eye but a Mensa-certified genius as well. What had surprised her was how far away the university was; but knowing this was what Ryan wanted, she let him go. She helped him pack his bags, settled him into his dorm room and kissed her baby goodbye, never really knowing that the university’s motto of “the future starts here” was going to be so literal for Ryan.
“What do you mean ‘there’s no curve’? There’s always a curve!” The very loud voice belonged to a behemoth and was echoed by nearly the entire class.
“I only curve if no one passes the test, Mr. Peterson,” Professor Almack pointed out, peering over his spectacles at the young man. “Since one person not only passed, but received a perfect score, that isn’t necessary.”
Ryan sunk down in his seat, hastily stuffing the perfect-scored exam into his notebook, not realizing someone had noticed his actions and understood its implication. After the class let out, Ryan waited until all of the other, much larger students had left to make his way out of the auditorium.
Ryan’s heart beat faster as he scrambled out of the building, pretending not to hear. He’d been afraid of this. He was barely out of the door before he was grabbed.
“Hey, I’m talkin’ to you!”
Huge paws grabbed his shoulders, spinning him around. Ryan kept his eyes down, shrinking into himself. He felt himself being lifted, gasping out in pain as his skinny back slammed into the concrete wall. All sound seemed to cease as his attacker shook him hard enough to rattle his teeth. His glasses fell off, clattering to the ground.
Eric never liked bullies, so when he saw Peterson shaking the little girl and slamming her against the wall, he lost it. “Peterson! Put her down!”
“The little punk busted ol’ man Almack’s curve!”
“Put the kid down.” His tone implied the threat but, thankfully, Peterson was smart enough to heed it. Eric glared at Peterson and his cronies until they left the area. His eyes moved to the huddled ball of a human being. He moved slowly as he squatted close to the little ball, picking up thin steel-framed glasses and held them out. “Here you go, sweetheart.”
Big blue eyes peered out from between long strands of blond hair. The once neat French braid was now falling apart because of Peterson’s attack. “Thank you,” she whispered, slowly reaching out to take the glasses.
“You’re welcome,” he smiled. “I’m Eric. Nice to meet you.”
“Thank you for rescuing me.” A brief lift of lips. “I’m Ryan.”
“Ryan?” Eric stared. “You’re a boy?”
The kid rolled his eyes but nodded. “I get that a lot. It’s the hair.”
Eric sat down heavily, flabbergasted. It wasn’t just the corn silk hair. It was the soft voice, the delicate features and slim hands. It was the way those finely boned hands gracefully swept loose locks of hair behind a pink shell of an ear. “God, you’re just a baby,” Eric choked out.
“Fifteen, actually.” Ryan bit his plump lower lip.
At precisely that moment, Eric knew he was going straight to hell.
Ryan peeked up through his bangs and lashes at the much larger Eric. His rescuer couldn’t seem to stop staring at his mouth. He slowly waved a hand in front of Eric’s brown eyes; they blinked suddenly, meeting his own. An uncertain smile lifted the corners of Eric’s mouth. The older student stood up fluidly, hand held out.
“C’mon, kid, let’s get you checked out.”
Ryan blinked. “Checked out?”
“To make sure Peterson didn’t do any damage. One of my frat brothers is an EMT, I’ll ask him to do a quick once over to make sure. You don’t have another class to get to, do you?”
“No.” Ryan bit a corner of his lip, not understanding the little gurgled sound that Eric made, but took the hand still being held out. It was so much bigger than his, and warm. He smiled up at Eric. Maybe college wouldn’t be so bad.
“Everything looks good to me.” Thomas turned off the penlight, stashing it back into his bag of medical goodies.
“Thanks, T.” Eric couldn’t seem to stop hovering over the kid. Or get his unruly body to behave. Ryan was a baby; Eric shouldn’t be lusting after the kid, but lust he did. Holding the kid’s hand made him want to trace over the fine lines of slim bone. Draping an arm over slender shoulders made him want to envelop Ryan and cuddle the hell out of him. And every time his best friend’s prodding made Ryan flinch, Eric wanted to yell at Thomas to be more careful. He’d known the kid for less than thirty minutes and he had it bad.
“So,” Thomas grinned at Ryan. “You beat old man Almack’s curve, huh?”
Eric didn’t like the wary glance Ryan sent Thomas as he slowly nodded. He reached out, unable to help himself, and ran a reassuring hand down Ryan’s loose braid. It was soft as a newborn baby’s hair, and his hands itched to bury themselves in it. Ryan flashed him a smile over his shoulder.
“Yes, I did.” Eric liked how there wasn’t a single boastful syllable in the young man’s answer. Ryan was quite simply responding to Thomas’s question. Eric was grateful when his friend laughed, eagerly leaning forward.
“I’m taking Swinson’s Calculus two class.” Thomas winked at them both. “You know, trying to get into med school. Have you taken the class yet?”
Ryan nodded, obviously uncertain of where this was going.
“Well? How’d you do?”
“Well.” Ryan fiddled with the hem of his t-shirt. “I haven’t taken his class specifically. I have taken Calculus two though.”
Thomas made a continue motion with his hand.
“I got an A.”
“Excellent!” Thomas spun around grabbing his books. “Can you help me with this problem?” He mock-glared at Eric. “I tried asking him but he’s useless unless it’s business math. He doesn’t get science math at all!”
“Hey! Can I help it if I’m not a science nerd like you?” Eric didn’t try too hard to swat his friend. He grinned down at Ryan when their antics made the kid laugh.
“I’d love to help,” Ryan answered, leaning around to see the book.
Eric stared down at the silky blond hair, fingers itching to completely bury themselves in that hair instead of just playing with random strands. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and saw Thomas shake his head. Thomas ‘s green eyes glared at him from behind slim glasses as he mouthed “underage, illegal, going to hell for that”. Eric pulled his fingers away, sighing, unable to disagree with his friend.
Hours later, the three of them were in much the same positions as when they’d started. After Eric had firmly curbed his fingers’ need to play with Ryan’s hair, he had moved to the couch opposite them and pulled open his own finance textbook. Eventually, the study lounge in the frat house began filling up with more and more of its members. While the room was not totally silent, it was quiet enough that he heard the speculative whispers of his brothers around him. Since none of the whisperings were malicious, he waited to see if anyone else was brave enough to ask for a fifteen-year-old’s help. His brothers didn’t disappoint. One by one they asked Ryan for help in various science and math classes. After another two hours of tutoring, Eric put a stop to it.
“Hey.” He glared at them all. “The kid’s gotta study for his own stuff too!” Properly chastised, they mumbled their thanks before shuffling back to their own studies. Eric turned to find Ryan smiling at him. It wasn’t just a thank you smile; it was a smile that said more, that thanked him for more, for caring enough to make the others back off. Eric really, really wanted to kiss that smile. Instead he dropped down next to Ryan and grinned back. “You want to stay for dinner, kid? It’s T’s turn to cook and he makes a mean meatloaf.”
Thomas growled that Luby’s made a mean meatloaf, not him. Ryan laughed at the mention of the family restaurant, but shook his head. “Thanks, but I have to get back to my dorm room before my roommate locks me out.”
“Locks you out?” Eric stared unblinking as Ryan crouched down to gather his stuff from the coffee table and stuff it into his backpack. He watched even more intently as Ryan nodded, making the blond tendrils at his temples bounce.
“He, uh, if I don’t get back before a certain time, he locks me out so he can have,” Ryan winced, “private time.”
Thomas choked on his laughter, hastily covering up his mouth.
“Private time,” Eric echoed, lips twitching. “With himself or his girlfriend?”
Ryan blushed beautifully, pink blossoming across his cheeks. “I, ah, never asked.”
“Smart kid,” Thomas gasped out. “Well, if you ever find yourself locked out,” he pointed to Eric, “he’s got a spare bed in his room here. You can always crash there.”
Over Ryan’s head, Eric glared daggers at his friend. Thomas knew he liked the kid but temptation was temptation and Eric sucked at resisting temptation. His friend grinned evilly at him, leaning over to whisper. “What doesn’t kill you . . .”
Eric gritted his teeth. “May kill you instead,” he hissed back.
Thomas grinned widely, completely unrepentant.
Eric turned back to see Ryan watching them wide-eyed. He had no idea if the kid knew what they were talking about and there was no way in hell he was going to elaborate. Instead, he stood up and casually slung an arm around Ryan’s thin shoulders. “C’mon, kid, I’ll show you the way out.”
“Thanks.” Ryan tilted his head up and smiled up at him. That same damn asking-to-be-kissed smile again. Eric just knew he was going to hell.
It was a test. There was no other explanation for it. Eric knew that up until now, he’d had it easy. Good looks, good family, better than average brains, and charm all added up to a fairly easy life. It wasn’t until the very last year of college that Fate decided to really test his mettle and sent in the big guns. Namely in the form of one sweet, brainy, deliciously cute Ryan Abernathy. Deliciously cute, seriously underaged Ryan Abernathy.
Eric groaned and banged his head against the wall of Thomas’ room for good measure.
“You do know there’s no cure for a concussion, right? Especially a self-inflicted one?” Thomas, the bastard, leaned back against this headboard and laughed at Eric.
Eric paused in his head banging to glare furiously at his friend, before letting his forehead thump once more against the wall and left it there. Ryan was like a lodestone. They didn’t have any of the same classes, hell, they didn’t even have the same major, so there was no reason for Eric to be anywhere near the kid. But without fail, Eric found himself waiting for Ryan after his classes to walk him to the frat house, where Ryan would study and tutor anyone who asked for it. At first, Eric said he wanted to make sure Ryan wouldn’t be bothered again by anyone looking for revenge. But that excuse was dead in the water because Ryan had helped enough of the brothers pass exams that everyone on campus knew the child prodigy was protected by some seriously big guys. No one was stupid enough to bother him again.
Still, every day, Eric was there outside Ryan’s classrooms because somehow, his schedule was perfectly timed so that he could wait for Ryan. And every day, Eric had to fight to keep his hands to himself. Most times, he failed miserably. Found himself playing with Ryan’s hair, sitting way too close, and generally just touching him as much as humanly possible without getting arrested for child molestation. Eric groaned again, resuming his self-flagellation. And now, there was this latest mess. “God hates me.”
“God does not hate you,” Adam intoned quietly from the other bed.
“Fine, God’s testing me and I haven’t studied for the test. Hell, I haven’t even gone to class!” He threw a shoe at Thomas but even that didn’t stop his cackling. Adam manfully subdued his laughter but his eyes were bright. Eying the two of them, Eric threw out an idea in sheer desperation. “Why can’t he stay with here? One of you could switch to my room.”
Adam and Thomas exchanged incredulous looks then promptly fell back on their respective beds, cackling.
“What?” Eric demanded.
“Eric,” Thomas gasped out. “You’re a neat freak. A seriously neat, neat freak.”
“We aren’t,” Adam added, sweeping out an arm to indicate the not so controlled chaos that was their room. “If either one of us moved in with you, somebody would be dead in a week.” Thomas nodded frantically, mirth still shaking his body.
Eric let his body slump facedown onto the end of Thomas’ bed, hoping he would suffocate and thus save himself from the inevitable. Currently, the reason for his suicidal tendencies was downstairs, blissfully unaware of the hell he was putting Eric through. Two hours after dinner, Ryan had returned to the frat house to quietly ask for a room for the night. His prick of a roommate had locked him out because the kid had been in the labs working late and hadn’t made it back by the prick-imposed curfew. This wasn’t the first time, or the second, or hell, even the tenth time this had happened this semester. The fatigue and misery on Ryan’s face had prompted Eric to do yet something else that was coming back to bite him in the ass. He had offered Ryan the spare bed in his room . . . permanently.
It wasn’t until Thomas and Adam were staring at him in disbelief and amusement that the full implications hit him square in the face. Every other time Ryan had slept in his room, Eric had been a wreck the next day. He got absolutely no sleep if Ryan was in the room because Ryan made Eric crazy stupid and made him want to do really stupid things like slip into bed with him. Eric spent the entire night listening to Ryan breathe softly in his sleep and torturing himself wondering if Ryan would gasp like that or if he’d sighed like that given the right provocation. If he didn’t fear the kinds of questions Ryan would inevitably have in the morning, he would have handcuffed himself to his bed. And now, he had stupidly offered a more permanent arrangement and Ryan had breathlessly, joyfully agreed.
“Oh my God, forget going to hell, I’m so going to jail first.”
Thomas, the bastard, said, “Do not pass ‘go.’ Do not collect $200.”
Eric wondered if going to jail for killing his best friends would be better or worse than living with Ryan for the rest of the year. Sadly enough, he couldn’t tell.
It took a while, but Eric was finally able to sleep through the night without the fear of waking up in Ryan’s bed. With him sleeping through the night, he found that Ryan was his perfect roommate. Neat, quiet and organized, Ryan fit into his room without a hitch. Even his stuff meshed perfectly with Eric’s stuff. Of course, Ryan still presented a delicious temptation, especially the time he forgot his clothes and came out of the bathroom in nothing but a towel to search for some.
Eric had sat in his bed, bunching up the blankets in his lap, hoping Ryan wouldn’t notice him staring like an idiot and salivating like a very hungry man. Ryan was slim and creamy and sleek all over. Nipples only a slightly darker pink than his lips, long finely shaped legs, and a little bubble butt outlined by terrycloth that had Eric itching to grab. That little episode had Eric fleeing for another bathroom and then straight into a confessional.
Later that morning, when Eric confessed to his friends, Thomas had nearly broken a rib falling out of his chair laughing. Adam wheezed until he had an asthma attack. Ryan had smiled breezily at all three of them when he entered the kitchen to grab his breakfast, none the wiser.
“Hmm?” The younger man paused in the middle of the curses he’d been muttering to answer, but his hands, brushing and fussing with his hair, did not.
“Why don’t you cut your hair if you hate it so much?” Eric didn’t lift his eyes from his textbook because he knew if he looked up, he would give into the desperate urge to bury his face and hands in all that luscious blond hair. He did look up though when Ryan didn’t answer. He couldn’t see Ryan’s face, only his profile. He cursed at himself when he saw the tiny frown marring Ryan’s delicate features. “Never mind, forget I asked.”
“No,” Ryan sighed, slim hands resuming the braiding that had stopped. “It’s okay. I keep it long because my mom loved my dad’s long hair.” He turned to face Eric, doing that biting-the-corner-of-his-bottom-lip thing that made Eric insane. “When he died, Mom cut off his braid. She keeps it in a wooden box in her room.” Those fine blue eyes darted away, not meeting Eric’s own. “Morbid, huh?”
Eric opened his mouth but didn’t know what to say. Instead he left his bed to stand behind Ryan in front of the dresser’s mirror. He picked up the brush, gently running through his young friend’s hair. The way Ryan smiled at him, the way his heart squeezed, then melted. Eric knew he was just in lust with Ryan but had fallen hard for the kid.
Oh, he was so going to Hell.
Eric took it as another sign of how hard he had fallen for Ryan when he figured out he could tell if Ryan was in the immediate vicinity or not. Whatever it was pinged the instant Ryan walked through the frat house door nearly two hours after he was supposed to be done in his lab. Eric stealthily moved off the couch, careful not to block the big screen TV and the movie currently playing on it. Just as he suspected, Ryan’s lovely face was buried in a textbook bigger than he was. And, being the bad, bad, lusting-after-a-kid man that he was, Eric let Ryan walk right into him just so he could catch Ryan when he inevitably stumbled.
“Eric!” Ryan’s normally bright blue eyes were dulled and unfocused.
Eric frowned, cupping Ryan’s smooth cheeks, studying the dark circles and weary eyes. “You’re studying too hard again.”
Ryan had the grace to blush. “Studying too hard” for other students meant a few extra hours. For Ryan, it meant not eating, not sleeping, not even stopping to breathe. The kid could be obsessive to the point of self-harm.
“C’mon, you’re watching the movie with us.”
“Eric–” He protested even as he let Eric pull him along.
Eric ignored him, dragging him down to sit between the corner of the overstuffed sofa and himself. It took mere seconds to divest Ryan of his book bag, textbook, jacket and shoes. Around him, he saw the other guys’ tolerant and amused looks. He ignored them in favor of settling Ryan into the chair and then himself.
“You’re such a pushy mother hen,” Ryan grumbled even as he relaxed.
“Well, if you learned to take care of yourself.”
“I moved away from my mom only to find another one.”
“Kid, it takes two moms to keep you from overdoing it.”
“SHHHHHHH!” voices from all over the room admonished.
Eric and Ryan glared at each other for a moment longer before they broke out into smiles. They finally settled down to watch the movie.
Just as Eric suspected, only fifteen minutes into the movie and already Ryan was slumped against him. He moved his arm, wrapping it around Ryan as the kid shifted sleepily into the curve of his body. Eric was bemused to find that within seconds of him moving his arm, there was a blond head on his shoulder, a warm little nose tucked into his neck, an slim arm clutching a handful of his shirt right above his heart, and slender jean clad leg sliding in between his own. Ryan probably thought he was hugging the body pillow he had on his bed. Eric sighed, slumping further into the couch and getting comfortable. He was a big enough man to admit he would take what he could get. And really, how much trouble could he get into with a room full of his frat brothers surrounding them?
A good amount, it turned out. Because somehow, his fingers ended up under Ryan’s shirt and tucked into the waist of his jeans. It only registered that he was gently rubbing circles into the baby soft skin of Ryan’s hip when Thomas pinched his arm and glared down at his with-a-mind-of-its-own hand. Thomas glared at him until he slowly pulled his fingers out of Ryan’s pants and settled them on top of cotton and denim fabric. Eric sighed again, nuzzling further into Ryan’s vanilla and jasmine scented hair.
Eric jerked upright, wide awake, only to slam his eyes shut again when lightning lit up the room. The crash of thunder reverberated through the room. He turned to stare out the window, mesmerized by the utterly violent storm raging outside. He slipped out of bed, pulling the curtains shut, hoping to deaden the sound. It didn’t do much, but it helped. He glanced over at Ryan’s window to see the curtains hadn’t been pulled shut there either. Hoping not to wake the young man, he slipped over to his side of the room to close those curtains as well. As he turned to go back to bed, lightning to flash again, followed almost immediately by the crash of thunder. During the flashes, Eric clearly saw Ryan, but the boy wasn’t sleeping peacefully.
Eric’s breath hissed out. Ryan was curled into a tiny ball, hands clenched on a pillow so tightly his knuckles were white. But it was the tears silently trailing down ghostly white cheeks that squeezed Eric’s heart. He sat down, reaching for him. “Ryan? Ryan, baby, wake up.”
Ryan jerked awake with a cry, throwing himself back against his headboard. Before Eric could explain, Ryan’s eyes met his and recognition set in. Eric barely had time to brace himself before Ryan launched himself at him. Eric caught him, instinctively wrapping his arms around the young man. Eric found himself making soothing noises as he rocked Ryan back and forth. Eventually, the trembling subsided and the shivering set in. Ryan wouldn’t let go when Eric tried to put him under the covers. Praying for strength, he slipped under the covers and comforter, Ryan’s arms and legs firmly curled around him, head tucked into his neck.
Eric buried his nose further into sweetly scented hair, loathing the sun that was directly in his eyes. It reminded why he chose the other side of the room for his own. It also reminded him he wasn’t in his own bed. Eric stilled, carefully taking inventory of various body parts, his own and Ryan’s, and where they were. Eric found he had stayed mostly on top of Ryan and used his left shoulder as a pillow. Ryan’s arms were still loosely wrapped around his shoulders, one hand buried in his hair. His own arms bracketed Ryan’s slim torso and his left leg had somehow insinuated itself in between Ryan’s silky legs. Eric bit back a groan when he realized his cock was nestled perfectly in the groove of Ryan’s hip.
Eric bit his lip. He didn’t want to move, enjoying the feel of Ryan sleep-warm and pliant in his arms. He was comfortable, dammit, and it was Saturday and he didn’t have to be up for hours yet. He wanted to stay exactly where he was. But then there was the fact that he *did* want to stay exactly where he was and that his cock was quite urgently insisting that he start doing something about his morning wood. Eric sighed as he silently made a deal with himself. Another hour in Ryan’s arms, draped across Ryan’s sweet, lithe body as long as he did *nothing* about the morning wood. He shifted only enough to glare down at his cock to make sure it understood the deal before settling back into his oh-so-comfortable position.
He didn’t count on Ryan though. He didn’t count on the little unnoticed fact that, while his cock was nestled against Ryan’s hip, Ryan’s cock was also nestled perfectly against his. Eric awoke the second time that morning to the sensation of Ryan rocking and trembling in his arms. At first he thought Ryan was reliving the nightmare he had the night before, but then the sounds Ryan was making sank into his sleep muddled mind. The sighs and breathy little moans weren’t sounds of a nightmare. Eric clamped down on the moan as he felt a slim, hard heat being rubbed into his hip and heard the sexy sounds panted right into his ear.
Eric pushed himself up enough to see Ryan’s face, groaning out loud when he realized the young man wasn’t awake and wasn’t registering that the body he was rubbing himself off on was his male roommate. Eric froze, hoping to God that Ryan would finish quickly so he could slip out of bed. He wanted to get off the bed and Ryan *now* but Ryan’s grip on his hair and shoulder prevented it. If he jerked away now and Ryan woke up, embarrassment would be the least of his concerns because his cock was more than wide awake and quite happy that Ryan’s thrusting was rubbing him in just the right way.
A frustrated noise from Ryan jerked his attention back up to his face. His head was tilted back, corn silk hair fluttering and shimmying with every bounce; but lines marred the usually smooth brow and eyes. Eric let loose an ironic laugh. Ryan couldn’t quite come. He would have thought for sure a teenager wouldn’t have trouble coming but the aggravated sounds, the lines that furrowed his face, they all pointed to sheer frustration at not being able to climax. Eric groaned, knowing he couldn’t take much more of Ryan squirming on his thigh and against his cock.
Cursing himself, Eric reached down, shoving down his boxers just enough for his cock to slip free. Then he reached for Ryan’s boxers. They slipped down Ryan’s hips like melted butter. Eric moved his hand around, cupping a delectable handful of Ryan’s ass, tilting his hips to just the right angle. He hissed as Ryan’s next thrust lined up their cocks flawlessly. Ryan’s whimpers changed tones, no longer frustrated but purring in pleasure. Eric’s own brain shut off and his mouth couldn’t hold back any longer.
“That’s it, baby, just like that,” he crooned into the pink shell of Ryan’s ear, groaning as Ryan’s mouth dropped open, a dark pink tongue wetting pale pink lips. More breathy sounds of pleasure and sex were moaned in his ear. He whispered all manner of encouragement even as his hand pulled Ryan’s hips harder against his downward thrusting body. He didn’t dare look down at their cocks, afraid he’d want more than simple frontage. Mere seconds later, Ryan shuddered all through his body, climaxing with another one of his breathy gasps.
Eric instantly stilled his hips, clamping down on every muscle, despite his body raging at him for a denied release. He waited while Ryan slumped back into his bed, miraculously still asleep. Satiation infused Ryan’s delicate features. Eric had never seen a more debauched angel. He carefully lifted himself away from the sweet beckoning haven of Ryan’s body. After cleaning up the evidence of Ryan’s release and arranging Ryan’s boxers and the blankets, Eric threw himself into a cold shower. The freezing water helped him vehemently deny his body its own climax.
Eric emerged from his icy shower to find Ryan shyly watching him from his bed. He froze, not knowing what to say or what to do. If the kid called the cops, Eric was perfectly willing to be led away in handcuffs. He nearly choked on his own spit when Ryan stood up and crossed the room to stand in front of him. Ryan stared up before smiling sweetly at him.
Eric’s jaw worked, not knowing what to say. Finally he was able to spit out, “For what?”
“Staying with me through the storm. For keeping away the nightmares.” With that, Ryan stood up on his tiptoes and pressed a chaste kiss to Eric’s cheek.
Eric was entirely thankful that Ryan slipped into the bathroom, leaving him to deal with his new hard on in peace. And the knowledge that Ryan had absolutely no memory of what happened between them this morning.
He laid on his bed, staring at the ceiling, calling himself every kind of idiot and jerk possible. Ryan, of course, was so unbelievably innocent that he didn’t know the self flagellation Eric was putting himself through even as he leaned down to accept Ryan’s kiss. It was just another sign of his depravity that even a kiss on the cheek from the teenager could make him hard as hell. Still calling himself every despicable name he could think of, he grabbed the phone as it rang.
“Eric, honey? It’s Mary, Ryan’s mom?”
He froze. The terrified thought that she knew what he had done to Ryan screamed through his mind. “Yes, ma’am?” he croaked out.
“I’m sorry to bother you, honey, but I wanted to thank you for what you did for Ryan last night.”
He pulled the phone away from his ear, staring in horrified disbelief at it. He put it back to his ear when Ryan’s mom repeatedly called his name. “Thank me?” he parroted.
“Why, yes, dear. For comforting him during the storm.”
Eric smothered a moan. He didn’t think you could call what he did comforting Ryan. “Ah, well, it was nothing, ma’am.”
“Please, Eric, I know better than that. Only as good a friend as you are would take care of him like that. I worry about him so much being there all by himself. I feel so much better knowing that you’re there to look out for my baby boy.”
“Really, ma’am, it was nothing.”
“Nonsense, young man. I want to thank you and I will.”
Eric knew when to give in gracefully. “You’re welcome, Mrs. Abernathy.” Knowing that this was probably his only chance, he screwed up his courage and asked, “Mrs. Abernathy, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, dear. What did you want to know?”
“Why does Ryan have nightmares during storms?” Her silence was so prolonged and heavy with soundless emotion that he scrambled and sputtered out an apology.
“No, no, Eric. Don’t apologize, sweetheart. I . . . it’s just . . . We don’t really talk about it so much. *Ryan* doesn’t like to talk about it.”
He was the one to stay silent this time, giving her the space she obviously needed.
“When Ryan was five, I went out with some friends for a girls’ night out. He stayed at home with his father. John was much older than I was and a homebody, so he was fine with staying home and playing Candyland with Ryan. It stormed and rained for hours that night, so I was late coming home. The girls and I thought it would be safer to wait out the storm, you see. When I got home, I found Ryan curled around John, crying. The doctors told me it was a heart attack and that it happened early on in the evening. Ryan was alone with his father all that time.”
Even with her rambling and the hitches in her voice, Eric fully understood what Ryan had gone through that night. Watching his father have a heart attack and unable to help, confusion fighting with fear. It was enough to traumatize any one, let alone a sensitive five year old like Ryan. “Thank you for telling me, Mrs. Abernathy,” he said gently.
“Thank you, sweetheart, for being there for Ryan. You’re a good man.”
“You’re welcome, ma’am.” Eric carefully placed the phone back into the cradle. He not so carefully banged his head against the nightstand.
So going to hell.
“Thanks, guys.” Eric swept his eyes over the room one last time, absently waving his thanks to the movers. He had lived here for nearly five years while earning his bachelor’s in business. Graduation was only a few days away and he couldn’t believe he was leaving the university. Nothing was left in his room except the furniture the frat had included in the room to begin with, on his side of the room any way. Eric did not want to turn around because he knew how he would find Ryan. The sixteen year old had been quietly dreading May since Eric had hand-delivered a graduation invitation to him. He had seen the absolute shock in his eyes, had heard it in the unenthusiastically voiced congratulations.
Eric sighed, turning to face Ryan. All of his resolved crumbled in the face of the abject misery sitting on his roommate’s bed. Ryan was tucked up and curled around a pillow that looked suspiciously like the one he had packed only hours ago. He crouched down in front of Ryan, bracketing the young man’s knees with his hands. “Ryan?”
“All done?” Ryan wouldn’t meet his eyes, simply hugging the pillow closer.
“Yeah. Well, except for one thing.” He playfully tugged at a corner of the pillow.
Ryan nearly clutched the pillow shapeless. “It smells like you.” Pink blossomed across his cheeks. “And it’s not the only thing you’re going to find missing. A couple of shirts, your cologne, a few of your books, and a couple of pictures.” He shrugged a shoulder. “I wanted things that will remind me of you once you’re gone.”
“Ryan.” Eric barely suppressed the moan. “Don’t say things like that.”
“Don’t be. God, sweetheart.” Eric gave up trying to keep his distance. He pulled the pillow away even though Ryan made little protesting noises that made his heart clench. He held out his arms. “C’mere.”
His grunt of surprise turned into a chuckle as Ryan tackled him. Eric landed on his ass, barely managing to catch the slim body straddling his lap. He wrapped his arms around him as Ryan curled up underneath his jaw; face firmly nestled in his neck. Eric didn’t speak, simply holding onto Ryan and enjoying the quiet moment together. Finally, he briskly rubbed his hands up and down Ryan’s back in a prelude to pulling away. “Ryan, we’ll still talk. Emails, the phone. You know you won’t lose me.”
Ryan refused to look at him, straining against Eric’s hands to bury himself back into his warm haven.
“Ryan, c’mon sweetheart, look at me.” He cajoled the younger man until Ryan finally relented and pulled far enough away to meet Eric’s eyes. The tears that shone in those beautiful eyes were his undoing. He cupped Ryan’s face, tilting it to the right angle before leaning in to kiss him. Eric caught Ryan’s startled gasp against his mouth, taking advantage to slip inside. Sweetness and salty tears burst across his palate, causing Eric to moan. He could only moan louder as Ryan purred and mewled into his mouth. The intense urge to press Ryan down onto the floor surged through him. It was enough to knock the sense back into him.
Eric yanked himself away from Ryan, groaning at the flushed, panting young man five feet away.
“Eric?” Ryan licked his lips, arms reaching out.
“No.” Eric could only withstand so much. Ryan was wide awake and reaching for him. He saw it in that instant, knew that if he wanted Ryan naked and under him, he’d have it. He forced himself to back away. “No. You’re still too young.”
That finally stopped Ryan’s slow advance, reason returning. “But . . .”
“No.” Eric dragged in a fortifying breath. “You’re still too young,” he repeated. “When you’re eighteen, you come find me, okay?”
Ryan bit his lip and Eric groaned. He jerked forward, stealing one last sweet kiss, and then ran from the room for his sanity’s sake.
Hey Ryan, I got the invite in the mail, excited about graduation? Eric
Yes, I am. Will you be there? R
Eric cursed Fate. Currently, he was boarding a plane. But instead of heading towards his alma mater for Ryan’s graduation, the damn plane was going in the opposite direction, towards England. He dialed Ryan’s cell phone again, praying that the young man would pick up this time. He didn’t. “Ryan, baby, I’m sorry. An explosion just hit the England plant and I have to be there to access the damage. God, I can’t believe I’m missing your graduation. I’m proud of you, and I wish I was there. Have fun, okay? Bye.”
He dropped the phone on the seat beside his own. His head made an audible thump as it hit the headrest. He really, really wanted to be there to see Ryan graduate. It had been nearly two years since he’d seen the younger man. Phone calls and emails hadn’t been enough, but they were all they could manage. He had been forced to take the helm of his family’s business almost immediately after graduation. His father’s heart attack had caused him to take an early retirement and forced Eric to become president of the huge corporation overnight. Since then, he had been run ragged by the demands of the job and the need to prove himself worthy to be the youngest CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation in the history of business. Time for friends was hard earned and fiercely sought after, but still rare and far in between.
Eric could only hope that things would settle soon so that he could make it up to Ryan for missing his graduation. He also hoped his gift got there okay.
“I can’t believe you got me a car.”
Eric laughed but rubbed his tired eyes, barely able to keep them open. “Well, I figured with you going to the most prestigious research-oriented graduate school in the US, you wouldn’t need cool lab equipment. A car was the most logical choice.”
He laughed again, curling over to his side, pretending the body pillow he hugged was Ryan instead. “Do you like it?”
“You’re not a stupid person, why are you asking a stupid question? Of course I like it! It’s a Hummer! Oh my God, parking it is going to be a nightmare! I wonder if I’m going to have to buy two parking permits?”
That definitely warranted more laughter. “God, I miss you, Ryan.” Eric almost backtracked and apologized when silence greeted his words.
“I miss you too. Do you. . . do you still think about me?” Ryan’s voice was soft, hesitant, and hopeful.
Eric closed his eyes, clutching the phone closer. “Yeah, I do.”
“Me too. Will you come see me after you’re done in England?”
“You’re not eighteen yet.”
“Eric!” Shock and embarrassment filtered through the phone. “I want to see my friend! Not . . . not that!”
Eric groaned but decided going for broke would be the only way. “Ryan, I think of you and I get hard. Being anywhere near you is sheer hell, because all I want to do is throw you down and slide inside your body. I have no control when it comes to you.” He waited, not sure whether Ryan would be disgusted or not. He certainly wasn’t expecting the shivery sigh from the other end of the line. “Ryan?”
He clearly heard a hitched breath, the rustling of clothing. A wicked grin touched his lips. He purposely lowered his voice. “Ryan, are you touching yourself?”
Ryan moaned softly, but he still heard it. His hand moved down to the button on his dress pants. “Are you hard for me, baby?” Another hitched breath was answer enough and his zipper finally slid all the way down. Eric moaned as he clenched his cock, images of Ryan doing the same flashing through his mind. “I’m hard too, Ryan. Thinking about your body: slim, sleek, and creamy pale. God, the way your hair slides and tickles against my skin.”
More soft, sexy sounds, so like those he had heard on the morning after the storm. The sounds brought back sensations of silky skin rubbing against his own, of slender hips thrusting against his own. Words spilled from his lips, a favorite fantasy of the two of them in their room. Ryan on Eric’s bigger bed, flushed and naked, reaching out for Eric. He described his fantasy to his captive audience, greeted by gasps and pants.
“Eric? Eric, I can’t . . .”
“It’s all right, baby, you’ll come. Tighten your hand, then slip your other hand down.” Eric whispered, squeezing and thrusting faster. He imagined Ryan biting a corner of his lower lip. God, he was so close, but he needed Ryan to come first.
“Eric? What do I . . .” Ryan broke off, gasping.
“Your hole, baby. Your pretty pink hole, rub your fingers against it. That’s where I want to be, Ryan. Inside you, right there.”
Ryan gasped and moaned, crying out his climax and Eric’s name. Eric followed mere seconds later.
“Eighteen,” Eric gritted into the phone. “The second you turn eighteen.”
How’s grad school? No one tried to beat you up when you busted the curve, did they?
Haha, very funny, Eric. One, there’s no curve to break and two, I’m not the only young genius here. I’m busier here than I was in college. Internships, lab work, etc. They throw you in and it’s sink or swim. How’s work? R
I’m sure you’re still the smartest person there. Work’s fine. We’re opening new divisions in Japan and Australia. I think I’m going to have to go overseas to manage the new divisions. At least for a while. Uncle Jason’s also been lamenting the lack of researchers and scientists in his field. Know any scientists/researchers looking for a job?
“Sir, it’s time for your meeting.”
Eric nodded absently as his personal assistant ducked back out of his office after making her announcement. He signed off on the last report before tiredly rubbing at his eyes, squeezing them shut in an effort to relieve the strain. He had been up since the crack of dawn and knew that after touring his family’s labs he would have to attend a formal dinner. The dinner was scheduled right afterwards and was held in honor of the scientists that helped make his family’s fortune. As soon as the dinner was done, he’d finally be able to get some rest. An empty bed awaited him since the person he still wanted in it with him was three states away.
He stood and checked his watch, wondering if he could finish this fast enough so he could call Ryan before dinner. Making a note to himself, he grabbed his suit coat, heading for the elevator that would take him down to the lower levels. He smiled tiredly at Jason Titanes, his oldest uncle on his paternal side.
“Eric, good to see you, my boy. Ready for the tour?”
Eric took his uncle’s hand, returning the greeting as he followed his uncle into the largest conference room on this level. Through the glass he could see all of his uncle’s researchers milling about, waiting to be introduced to the head of the company. Uncle Jason did this every year: introductions, a quick overview, and then the tour. It was so routine that Eric could put himself on autopilot, shaking hands and murmuring greetings.
“. . . and this is Dr. Ryan Abernathy. He wasn’t at last year’s review because of the flu . . .”
His uncle’s voice had already faded to the background. Eric’s eyes stared at the blond hair, no longer the length it used to be. Now, it was only long enough to bury his fingers into and have the ends tickle the backs of his hands and his wrist. The blue eyes were the same, crinkled and laughing at him, but shy all the same. It was Ryan’s little lip biting habit that broke his control.
Eric didn’t notice the gasping or excited exclamations of the other scientists as he cupped Ryan’s still so smooth jaw, bringing that lush mouth under his. Sighed as Ryan melted into his body and surrendered his mouth as sweetly as he had years ago. Eric wrapped an arm around Ryan’s slim waist, fully gathering the younger man against him. He growled when Ryan started purring and mewling into his mouth just like their first kiss.
Eric broke the kiss, startled by his uncle’s yell, but only pulled back enough to stare into Ryan’s glazed eyes. “How long have you worked here, Ryan?”
He groaned when Ryan bit his bottom lip again, unable to resist running his thumb over his wet lips. “A year . . .”
“And two months,” Ryan confessed, eyes dropping; his hands tightened on Eric’s shoulders.
Eric shook him, just a tiny bit. “You make me crazy without even trying, you know that right?”
Ryan peeked up at him through long lashes and glasses, a tiny smile flirting about his lips. “Uh huh.”
His uncle’s voice once again broke into their tableau, forcing Eric to take in the stunned faces of his company’s scientists. He flashed his uncle an apologetic grin. “Something very important has come up and it looks like I’m going to have to reschedule this year’s review for another date.”
“Uncle Jason, I’ve waited six years for Ryan to grow up and become legal. The annual review can wait a couple of days.” With that bombshell he wrapped his arm around Ryan’s waist and practically carried all the way out of the labs, into the elevator and up to his penthouse home. Since Ryan was pliant, nearly cuddling into his body, Eric didn’t think the younger man minded his kidnapping.
He couldn’t believe after all this time Ryan was working for his family’s company! The last three years had been hectic and chaotic. Ryan’s eighteenth birthday had come and gone but the promises made after Ryan’s college graduation had been left by the wayside. Their lives ran parallel courses; both men being so busy that their only communication had been through rare emails. He froze in the act of pulling Ryan with him to the penthouse door. Ryan obviously knew they worked in the same building. Had known for little over a year, why hadn’t the younger man contacted him?
He stared down into oceanic blue eyes filled with confusion. “Why didn’t you contact me? Why did you let me think you were working someplace else?”
Ryan ducked his head, a few loose locks of blond hair falling to shield his eyes.
“Ryan?” Eric lifted Ryan’s face with a knuckle under his chin, ducking his own head to look into his eyes. “Sweetheart?”
“I saw you, a month after I started here, talking to a woman. She was, God, she was gorgeous and she was all over you.” Ryan shrugged but his lip biting made Eric shiver. “I didn’t think . . . I thought you had moved on.”
“I have no idea who you’re talking about.” Eric held up finger to stop Ryan’s words, “I don’t care who you’re talking about. You’re the only one I’ve ever thought about, the only one I’ve ever wanted in my bed.”
“Does that mean you haven’t had sex in the last five years?” Ryan shot out.
“Does that mean you haven’t?” Eric shot right back, only to hiss in understanding when Ryan blushed bright pink. He remembered their kiss from moments ago, thinking that Ryan had reacted exactly the same as their first kiss, down to the inexperience response. “God, you haven’t,” he breathed. “You’re still a virgin?”
Ryan jerked away, blush impossibly intensifying. “Well, it’s not like anyone really wants a timid little science geek, do they?”
Eric hauled him back into his arms. “I do.”
Ryan, just like all those years ago, nestled into his embrace, face firmly pressed into his neck. “Well, you’re the only one,” he admitted.
Eric held him, soaking in the feel of Ryan. It had been a long time since the body in his arms felt this right. He told Ryan so, returning the brilliant smile bestowed upon him. Knowing that this was Ryan’s first time made it easier to take it slow; no matter what, Eric had always put Ryan’s needs first. He barely remembered the trip to his bedroom. He did remember the feel of Ryan gasping against his mouth, delicate hands clenching on his shoulders as his own hands roamed over Ryan’s clothes. Eric chuckled at Ryan’s blushes as he tugged and teased his clothes off.
Eric knelt, taking care of shoes and socks first before he reached for Ryan’s belt and slacks. A hitched breath above him made Eric tilt his head back. He smiled up at Ryan then moaned as Ryan sank his hand into his hair. He followed the gentle tug as the hands guided him to Ryan’s stomach. He buried his face into the soft, smooth skin, nuzzling and making Ryan’s breath stagger. He tugged off the younger man’s slacks but left on his boxers. He leaned back, fighting Ryan’s soft protest to look up at his lover. “You’re beautiful.”
Ryan’s blue eyes shone as they followed him back up to his feet. He bit his lip again, eyes darting down to Eric’s clothes and back up to his eyes. Eric smiled, guessing his thoughts well enough. “Whatever you want, sweetheart.”
He hid his smile against the feathery locks of blond hair as Ryan slowly pulled at his suit and tie. Because of Ryan’s inexperience, he let every reaction show. Every shiver and sigh as Ryan’s graceful hands brushed against his skin. He held nothing back as he showed Ryan how much he enjoyed his touch. Ryan followed his led and left on Eric’s boxers. Eric cupped Ryan’s chin, dipping his head to capture Ryan’s lips. Distracted by the kiss, Ryan easily moved where Eric lead, straight onto the bed. Ryan sighed as Eric blanketed his body. Eric loved the fact that Ryan cradled his hips with his legs and then sent his hands to exploring the body above him. For Ryan’s first time, for their first time, Eric was content to let the younger man set the pace.
As he always suspected, Ryan was all romance and sensuality. Ryan skimmed his hands up and down Eric’s body, fingertips enjoying the different textures of his skin. Ryan never tired of kisses, tasting his mouth before brushing those soft pink lips against his neck and shoulders. Eric didn’t stay idle during his lover’s exploration. He savored the feel of Ryan in his arms once again. He let himself touch and taste like he hadn’t that first time. Ryan was so sweet, peaches and cream skin, vanilla and jasmine scented hair that feathered and fluttered against Eric, slowly driving him from sanity. The breathy moans of his name falling from Ryan’s lips further drove the madness. When Ryan started rolling his hips, Eric flashed back to that morning after the storm. This time, he wanted to be inside Ryan as he came.
“Can I take these off?” He traced the edge of Ryan’s boxers, carefully watching Ryan’s still-so-young face. Eric groaned when Ryan bit the corner of his lip, then nodded shakily. He took it slow, removing his own boxer briefs first, giving Ryan time to adjust. Eric had to clench his teeth to keep from climaxing as he rubbed down skin to skin after taking off Ryan’s boxers. Ryan was squirming against him, gasping beautiful pleas into his ear, hands tightening on his shoulders. Eric reached for the bottle of lubricant under the pillow; the strip of condoms he left there. He had never touched anyone else without one, and Ryan was a virgin.
When Eric moved, Ryan pulled back to watch, eyes wide, studying Eric’s actions with an intensity Eric had only seen Ryan devote to science before. Ryan lifted questioning eyes to meet Eric’s at Eric’s chuckle. He kissed away the questions, his hand moving down between Ryan’s slim, pale legs. He pulled back, needing to see Ryan as his fingers circled his lover’s puckered opening. Ryan’s breathing was fast and scared.
“Baby, we don’t have to—”
“I will blow up your labs if you stop.”
Eric laughed so hard the bed shook.
Ryan thumped him on his back. “Eric!”
His chuckles slowed but had the lovely effect of rubbing against Ryan. Eric dropped to take another delicious kiss, fingers gently preparing Ryan. He swallowed his lover’s gasps and moans. Ryan’s gasps turned into a squeak of surprise when Eric turned them both. He grinned up at Ryan’s wide, surprised eyes. “I want to watch you ride me.”
“Oh God.” Ryan flushed, but his eyes were brilliant with lust and happiness.
Eric guided him down, biting his own lip as Ryan’s tight, hot body slid slowly down his cock. He groaned, savoring the feel when Ryan was fully seated. He lay back to watch as Ryan slowly experimented with his position like the scientist he was. The ride was tentative at first, as he seemed to relish the feel of Eric inside of him. Inch by inch, he slid up and down Eric’s cock. Eric had to clench his jaw to keep from demanding that Ryan go faster. Just when he was going to grab Ryan, his lover increased the pace.
“Oh thank God.”
Ryan flashed him a look from underneath his lashes, lips curving, but he didn’t stop. Instead, he dropped his head back, gasping again in pleasure. Eric let his hands roam the beautiful man above him, thumbing pink nipples only to drop down to wrap his hand around Ryan’s slim, pink cock.
“Eric!” Ryan moaned his name, sinking down to frantically kiss him.
“Come for me, Ryan,” Eric whispered into their kiss, hand pumping faster on Ryan’s cock. “Come now.” He consumed Ryan’s wail as his lover spilled all over his hand, body clenching and clutching his cock. He rolled them once more, hips sliding desperately into Ryan’s pliant body. Eric sank in one last time, moaning as he came deep inside Ryan. He tried to move, to pull out, not wanting to crush Ryan under his weight but Ryan’s slim arms and legs wrapped around him. Eric pulled back just enough. Ryan had that determined look on his face.
“You’re not leaving me ever again,” Ryan declared.
“Or you’ll blow up my labs?” Eric teased but sobered when hesitation and sadness flitted over Ryan’s features. He dipped back down to kiss the sadness away, tightening his own arms around Ryan. “No, baby, you’re stuck with me.”