Truth & Tenderness

By: Tere Michaels

Nothing about Jim had changed since they met—at least not on the outside. No, it was the revelations of who he was on the inside that made Griffin’s insides flutter.

“You’re just standing there staring at my ass,” Jim said suddenly. Griffin jumped at the sound. “I feel cheap,” Jim added, not turning around.

“Actually I was thinking about your big heart and super-smart brain, but now I’m thinking about your monstrous ego.”

Griffin wandered over to slip his arms around Jim’s waist and bury his face against that fabulous patch of skin. “Thank you for taking care of me last night,” he murmured, dropping kisses between words. The smell of eggs and bacon wafted up to his nose.

“Are you grinding up against me because you missed me or because you smell breakfast?” Jim asked dryly.

“Um—I love you?”

They both laughed and Griffin’s exhausted disorientation lifted a bit more; making the movie had been an amazing opportunity, but God, he was just glad to be here, in this moment.

THEY ATE in the dining room once Jim moved the stacks of books, mail, and tile samples to the opposite end so they had room to put their plates.

“Do I want to know?” Griffin asked, fork poised and expression wary.

“Your mail, we need another bookcase, and Daisy said you have to pick tile for the bathroom,” Jim recited obediently. He ripped his slice of toast in half, then began transferring half the jar of apple butter to its crispy surface. Nirvana.

“Right. Crap.” Griffin sighed as he shoved some of his scrambled eggs in his mouth.

Jim watched him chew, then reach for the hot sauce. “Eggs should not be spicy.”

“Spicy is debatable but taste is not.”

“Fine. Last time I make you breakfast.” He defiantly put another layer of apple butter on his apple butter.

“Salt is not a spice, James.”

Jim’s scowl became hard to maintain as Griffin began to trail his foot up his bare leg under the table.

THEY LEFT the dirty plates on the dining room table, which was how Griffin knew Jim had reached a state of “sex-starved” that overruled all his other functions. On the couch, Griffin pushed Jim down among the blanket and pillows and cushions, dropping to his knees between the V of his fiancé’s legs.

“I missed you so much,” Griffin murmured, rubbing his hands up and down the furred length of Jim’s thighs, dipping under the leg of his shorts.

The tense muscles, the mouthwatering bulge pressing against the seam of Jim’s shorts—Griffin made a little sound of want as he leaned down, breathing in the scent of masculine arousal, nuzzling against the inside of Jim’s thigh.

“Stop playing,” Jim whispered, hands on his waistband. Griffin looked up to see the sheen of sweat on his fiancé’s face, the way he trembled as he lifted his hips and began to push his shorts down.

Griffin moaned as he grabbed a handful of cotton and helped divest Jim of his shorts. They didn’t even get them entirely off—the shorts hung off Jim’s knee, as Griffin couldn’t wait to get his mouth around Jim’s straining cock.

The sound Jim made as his dick hit the back of Griffin’s throat unraveled something desperate in him. He was home, Jim was his, and everything was going to be all right.

AFTER THIRTY-SIX hours of reconnecting with Jim, Griffin felt ready to turn his phone back on.

Only 111 texts, e-mails, and voice mails. He considered himself lucky.

On the ride to Manhattan, Jim drove and Griffin managed his life on his smartphone. He tried to chat with Jim at the same time, keenly aware of the growing tension from the driver’s seat.

“Almost done,” he said cheerfully. “Just a few more.”

He forwarded things, delegated, demurred, and delayed. Anything he wanted to brag about died on his tongue; Griffin didn’t miss the irony that the case that had brought him to the love of his life was currently opening a valley of strain between them.

“Gosh, I’m so glad to be back on the East Coast,” Griffin enthused, answering yet another question for the movie’s media coordinator. “All that lousy sun was giving me a headache.”

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