Chemistry

Erotica + Short Story

Chemistry

What begins as a routine study session ends in something far more heated.

Academy senior, Amber has had a crush on her best friend, Liz for as long as she can remember. She never dreamed that Liz may feel the same… And then some.

A 3000-word short featuring surprise kisses up top, not-so-surprise kisses down below, and a handy appreciation of puns.


Amber met Liz when Liz’s Barbie got sucked down a storm drain during a game of Gnarly Water Rapids and she’d lost her glasses trying to retrieve it. Amber had never seen anyone ugly cry so hard. She’d also never been yelled at so much after the teacher found her ass-up, dangling halfway down the drain with a manky Barbie clutched in one outstretched hand and fairy pink glasses in the other.

It’d been worth it though. It’d got her Liz.

Liz, who gave her next Barbie superpowers and named it after Amber. Liz, who tripped Meghan Hofstadter when Meghan called Amber a swamp rat after a particularly muddy game of tag. Liz, who grew up beautiful: dark eyes, darker skin, and gentle hands — hands that tugged Amber through thrift stores and Sunday markets, that flew whenever she recounted a story that she knew would make Amber laugh. Hands that Amber got to hold, but not quite like she wanted to. Not softly. Not pressed palm to palm. Not guiding down to-

“You’re daydreaming again.”

Amber’s silently amazed she doesn’t bite her pen in half as she wrenches her eyes away from where Liz’s hands are smoothing over the pages of her chemistry book. The one that’s open in her lap. Because they’re studying.

Studying. Yes.

“Sorry,” Amber says, blinking down at her own textbook and forcing her eyes to focus. Substrates. Great. Excellent. Amber has no freaking clue what those are. She groans. “I’m so gonna fail.”

Liz throws a Post-it note at her. “Lies,” she says, shifting cross-legged.

The movement makes the bed bounce in a way that might have resulted in a mess of notepaper if Liz weren’t chronically addicted to paperclips. The elegant staple, she calls them. Because Liz is weird. Amber watches Liz’s hands, straightening the sorted pile of notes before forcefully yanking her eyes back to her textbook.

Because intense stationary proclivities aside, Liz is also the only thing Amber has standing between herself and a failing grade in Chemistry. If she wants to convince her parents to give her a gap year after graduation, she needs this. This, or a miracle.

“I still don’t know why you waited so long to ask me for help,” Liz says in the self-assured tone of one who has her valedictorian speech already memorised. Amber knows she’s supposed to find it annoying — everyone else seems to — but she likes the thing that Liz’s lips do when she’s being a nerd.

Amber sighs, slouching over her textbook, trying to pretend she’s not hiding behind her hair. “I didn’t want to trouble you.”

“You live to trouble me,” Liz says and punctuates it by obnoxiously blowing at Amber’s fringe. Her breath is warm on Amber’s face which is just all kinds of unfair really. Just like the flush she

can feel sending her neck hot and splotchy. God. God.

“Hey,” Liz says, voice gone soft. Amber closes her eyes against it, everything suddenly too much. Something in her chest clenches as she feels Liz lean in. “You know this isn’t actually any trouble, right?” Liz says, the mattress dipping as she shuffles closer because Amber is being a moron. “You’re never trouble.”

Amber pinches her own wrist — reminds herself to be a normal human being for God’s sake — and musters a smirk as she opens her eyes. “Right.”

This close, Amber can see the way that Liz’s smile starts in her eyes, the way she bites at her bottom lip as the corner of her mouth ticks up. “Well, you’re my kind of trouble.”

The air does something uncalled for in Amber’s lungs, which is what she’s going to blame in the end. A chest infection or something. Anything to explain the way she leans in, like it’s the simplest thing in the world, like pressing her lips to Liz’s isn’t the end of it.

She startles back when she realises what she’s done. What she’s doing. Because shit. Shit. Amber’s stomach does something complicated involving gravity as Liz raises her fingers to her

own lips, prodding them as if making sure they’re still attached. “You kissed me,” Liz says, like she’s testing the words out.

Amber swallows around what feels like a small, arid country wedged in her throat. “Um.”

Liz’s hand drops away, large eyes blinking behind her ridiculous, thick-framed glasses. She’s been trying to convince her mom to get her new ones for months. They’re too big, she says. No one’s going to take her seriously with glasses that look like something Clark Kent would wear.

Amber can’t take herself seriously whenever she’s forced to look away from the curl of Liz’s fingers as Liz fusses with the freaking things.

Liz licks her lips and Amber tries not to follow the motion. She fails. Abysmally. “Why did you-“
“It’s not my fault,” Amber says urgently.

Liz blinks again and Amber contemplates the logistics of throwing herself out the bedroom window. She’d probably survive the two-floor drop. And she could hitchhike out of town pretty easily.

Amber slams her Chemistry textbook shut and huffs. “I mean-“ She stops, fists her hands in her fringe and tries to disappear. “I don’t know what I mean.”

She hears Liz’s sigh and the shuffle of books and papers being moved aside. Then there are soft hands wrapping around her wrists. Amber lets Liz pry her hands away from her face, but she keeps her eyes squeezed shut. Because she’s an adult.

Liz breathes a short laugh. “You’re being a goob.”

Amber opens her mouth to protest, which makes for a really awkward failure of a kiss. Which happens. Because Liz has leaned right on in to kiss Amber. On the mouth. With her mouth.

Amber’s eyes fly open and she gapes through her fingers as Liz leans back laughing. Her nose is doing the crinkly thing that makes Amber want to count the lines.

“Try that again?” Liz says, tipping her head so that her hair falls over her shoulder. It’s particularly frizzy today. There’d been rain. Oh god, she’s thinking about the weather, what is wrong with her?

Amber wrenches back to herself and nods — can only nod — as Liz leans in, hand coming up to press lightly at Amber’s jaw, ticking her head just so as-

This time is much better. There’s none of the sheer, stark terror of the first kiss and their mouths actually find each other as opposed to the second. Their mouths find each other really, really well, actually.

Liz makes a small noise, almost a hum, and Amber can’t help but press further into the kiss, parting her lips to lick a stripe across Liz’s bottom lip. And wow, okay – that wasn’t a hum. Neither is the strangled thing that’s torn out of Amber’s throat when Liz gets a hand in her hair and tugs, licking deep around Amber’s moan and- shit. Shit.

“Jesus fuck,” Liz gasps, and something swoops low in Amber’s gut because Liz never swears. Amber didn’t even know Liz could swear. Only now she is and… Amber did that. Amber really wants to do it again. She skirts a hand up the back of Liz’s shirt and tries not to lose her mind.

“I don’t know if-“ Liz leans in again, chases Amber’s lips. “Can we just-“ Another kiss that quickly turns open-mouthed and filthy, and Amber groans as Liz crowds her back into the headboard, crawling forward into her lap. Liz rolls her hips and it’s oh- this, just like this: Liz’s weight pressing into her, mouth open and desperate against her own. Amber’s hands clutch at Liz’s legs, sliding shakily up under the material of her skirt, and Liz shivers against her.

“Please,” Liz says, breath across Amber’s lips. “Please touch- just-”

Amber catches Liz’s mouth again, tracing her hands up over the curve of Liz’s hips, the hot crease of her thigh where soft skin gives way to light cotton. She’s hot; Amber can feel her from here. Hot and damp and when Amber edges her fingers down to where Liz is soaking through her panties, it earns her a sharp shudder and a sharper moan.

Oh God.

Amber doesn’t think, just bucks up and forward, tipping Liz back into the pillows at the foot of the bed with a surprised huff. Their textbooks tip off the edge of the mattress and Liz’s paper-clipped notes are totally a goner but Amber can’t find it in herself to care. Not when Liz is lifting her hips, helping Amber wiggle her panties down and off.

“Oh god, c’mon-“

“Don’t be bossy,” Amber says, heart thundering as she dares to yank Liz back down the bed by the backs of her knees, legs spreading easily under her hands and oh, she’s beautiful.

“Take my skirt off,” Liz says urgently, fumbling at the zip. “I want to see.”

Amber snags Liz’s shaking fingers, pulling them up to press a sucking kiss to Liz’s thumb as she makes quick work of the skirt. How her own hands aren’t registering on the Richter scale right now, she doesn’t know. Particularly with the way Liz’s eyes darken, mouth parting around a sigh as Amber bites lightly at the meat of her palm.

Four years she’s been wanting this, pretty much since she knew this was a thing to want. Liz sighing under her, that expression right there on her face because Amber put it there. Everything’s just-

“C’mere,” Liz says, drawing her down into a kiss, hands still shaking but sure as they tangle in Amber’s loose hair. Liz holds her steady, just like she always has, ever since she’d wound herself around Amber’s feet and braced them both against the metal drain grill.

Liz snakes one hand up the back of Amber’s tank top, pulling the material with her until Amber has to break the kiss to allow her to pull it off.

“Agh, your boobs,” Liz groans, cupping them through the lace of Amber’s bra, and Amber can’t help but laugh. She’s heard the words before — Amber had been the first to hit what Liz called the ‘boob awakening’ at age thirteen — but never like this. Never like Liz is one word away from writing Amber’s cleavage sonnets.

“You-“ Amber gasps as Liz’s thumbs brush over her nipples. Oh-kay. “I didn’t realise-“

That you liked me? That you wanted me? Anything apparently?

“Goob,” Liz says, like that’s the novel of an explanation Amber’s after. Then she leans up and licks at Amber’s right nipple, and Amber shivers so hard her arms nearly buckle.

Liz groans, like she’s the one being pulled apart. “Oh, take it off,” she orders, yanking her own shirt up. “I want to rub my boobs on your boobs.”

“You are such a nerd,” Amber says, reaching around to snap the clasp on her own bra open. It’s loud and very real.

Liz arches up under her. “That’s why you love me.” Yeah, it is.

Amber ducks down before her face can give her away, brushing the loose cups of Liz’s bra aside so she can latch onto Liz’s nipple and suck. Liz swears, fingers scrabbling into Amber’s hair like she needs to hold onto something or she’s going to fly away. As if Amber would let her.

“Check,” Liz says. “Really sensitive nipples.”

Amber pulls off, breathing deliberately over the wet skin to watch Liz shiver. “Are you taking notes?”

“Science is life,” Liz says, tipping into a whine when Amber trails a hand up the inside of her thigh. “Oh fuck, oh fuck oh fuck -“

“Language,” Amber says, delighted as she traces her fingers up the crease of Liz’s thigh. Liz shakes her head, though she looks like she’s coming apart a little as she does it. “Nope,”

she says shakily, hips twitching under Amber’s touch. “Sex means full amnesty. I’m gonna- oh.” Amber leans down, shifting her palm to press between Liz’s legs proper. It’s hot and wet and

everything. “One day you’re gonna get into trouble,” she says, and crooks her fingers. Liz bucks against her. “Oh god, Amber, please-“

She’s soft and sort of perfect here, all slick folds and beautiful heat. A nub at the top has Liz biting off a yell and digging her nails into Amber’s shoulders and god, Amber hopes the scratches stay. That she’ll be able to press at them later in the shower and know.

The bed creaks like it’s going to collapse when Amber all but throws herself down the spread of Liz’s body, but short of an environmental disaster, Amber doesn’t think that she could care about anything but getting her mouth on Liz. Which she does. And it’s…sort of mind-meltingly amazing.

Liz cries out and scrabbles at the bedspread as Amber mouths at her clit before licking down, hot and deep and oh God, Amber’s fairly certain no one’s supposed to taste this good.

“You’re gonna- I can’t-“

Amber can’t help her groan, pressing her hands under Liz’s ass to shift angles, something primal uncurling in satisfaction at the feel of Liz’s legs hooking over her shoulders.

She’s never done this before; really has no idea if she’s doing things right or well but screw it. Amber’s never been good with books, but hands-on she can do. And this is all kinds of hands-on. She punctuates the thought by hooking one arm around Liz’s hip, pressing her down as she flattens her tongue and licks Liz from the core of her where she’s wettest back up to her clit. Liz shudders like she’s coming apart, hips rolling under Amber’s hold, trying to fuck her mouth and it’s without a doubt the hottest thing that’s ever happened to her.

Amber settles into the sensation, uses one hand to part Liz’s folds properly so she can find her clit, making sure to lave across it special on every few upstrokes. Everything goes hot and messy, and the feel of wet slicking her chin should be gross but it’s just sort of perfect instead. Amber can’t help but groan as she grinds down against the mattress, Liz’s voice gone breathy above her.

When Liz comes, it’s a revelation. She’d been edging ever closer, hips rolling in a shortening rhythm, so when Amber pauses to lick deeper — press in where everything’s soft and hot — she doesn’t expect it to end with Liz scrabbling at her shoulder, an aborted warning before she

cuts off into a yell, hips bucking sharply off the bed. In the end, Amber’s forced to curl her hands around Liz’s hips and hold her down as Liz comes, hot and wet and everywhere. Amber licks her through it, tasting her aftershocks and falling mindlessly in love with the entire experience.

After a minute, Liz makes a broken whine of a sound, petting at Amber’s face until she pulls away to press a kiss to Liz’s palm. Liz’s hand curls around Amber’s jaw and pulls, guiding Amber up until she’s close enough to pull into a messy, sated kiss.

“Holy God,” Liz breathes against her mouth. “I think you killed me.” Hell yes, she did. Amber grins. “You’re a very loud corpse.”

“And you’re wearing too many clothes,” Liz says, then pauses. “That was probably not the best segue.”

Amber laughs, skin hot and oversensitive where Liz’s touch slips up under her skirt. She’s so wet she’s almost throbbing with it – could probably lose herself with just Liz’s fingers pressing-

“Off, please,” Liz says, somehow gone polite in her come down because of course she has. “I want to touch you.”

It takes some fumbling but finally, they’re naked together, skin contrasting starkly as Amber lets herself be shuffled up to straddle Liz’s legs. She’s trailing slick which should probably be weird but Liz doesn’t seem to mind if the way she presses one thigh up between Amber’s legs is any indication.

Amber gasps, falling forward onto her hands as she grinds down. Oh, just the pressure is- it could be-

“You look amazing,” Liz says and Amber can’t help but whine as she’s drawn into a kiss, Liz’s thigh rocking up against the heat of her until-

“Jesus Christ,” she swears, shuddering down onto her elbows as Liz crooks the fingers inside her.

Liz smiles and nips at her bottom lip. “Language.”

To hell with language. To hell with everything, because Liz has got two fingers inside her, curled mercilessly against Amber’s g-spot and she’s not- she can’t-

“Another- Please, I can’t-“

A third finger slides in easy and Amber moans, loud and obvious even to her own ears as Liz starts up a rhythm that’s going to shake her to pieces.

“I knew that game of truth or dare would come in handy,” Liz says and Amber would laugh at the memory but she can’t focus enough, can’t do much of anything other than press her hips forward.

“Handy,” Liz says again, tone gone wicked and fingers even more so. “Get it?”

Amber will never know if it’s the last pointed crook of Liz’s fingers inside of her or her shocky laugh that sends her over the edge. Either way, it’s enough; worked up as she is, Amber arches with it, crying out as her orgasm lights up her spine, forcing tears out of the corner of her eyes.

For one blinding moment she’s floating. Then there’s a whole lot of collapsing. Collapsing, and warm touches: kisses being pressed to her temple as gentle fingers card through her hair. It’s the best she’s ever felt.

When Liz shifts a few minutes later, Amber rolls to the side, stomach swooping when Liz’s arm around her back doesn’t let her get too far. She thrills ridiculously as she tangles their legs together, tucking her head up under Liz’s chin.

“So,” Liz says eventually. “That happened.”

There’s no inflection, nothing to indicate good or bad but Amber can’t help but tense up anyway. “Yes.”

Liz hums, smoothing her hand down Amber’s spine like she’s calming a spooked horse. Amber would grumble but it does do the trick; she melts back into Liz’s side.

“What do you think the academy’s stance on same-sex relationships is?” Liz says, jokingly. Amber’s heart jolts because she didn’t-

“Oh my God,” Liz says, scooting down the bed so she can cup Amber’s face in both hands. “Don’t freak out.”

“But-“

“Do you regret this?” Liz interrupts.

It’s not even a question. “No.”

Liz beams. There’s no other word for the expression. Her thumb swipes over Amber’s cheek and Amber could die from it. “Then nothing else matters, yeah?”

Amber’s own smile is slow to catch, but it burns hard and real. “Yeah,” she says.

Liz leans in for a kiss and- God, Amber never wants it to end. Wants to spend the rest of forever sharing breath and tasting like sex…

“Does this mean chemistry doesn’t matter either?” Amber says, hopefully. “No,” Liz says. “I made flashcards.”
“Handy,” Amber says and laughs until Liz tackles her into the pillows.

FIN


If you’d like your own erotic story written to spec hit me on up at Fiverr.

Happy fapping, folks!
<3 Stacey

Latte Heart by Stacey Lehane

News + Short Story

Latte Heart – a m/m short is LIVE

Guess who wrote poooooooorn!

Gay werewolf coffee shop pooooooorn!

“Leon’s been crushing on one of the regulars at his cafe for an embarrassingly long time. Things come to a head when his werewolf instincts get the better of him.”

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Thanks go out to all my friends who provided feedback and described all the ways they….ahem….enjoyed this story. I love you all.

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<3

Latte Heart by Stacey Lehane

A m/m short

Latte Heart

Leon hears August before he sees him, mostly because August hasn’t yet learned how to enter the cafe without half falling through the door. Leon doesn’t let himself look up, instead, surreptitiously takes down a mug and adds a few pumps of hazelnut syrup. It’s absolutely because it’s the closest thing to hand and not because August always moans a little bit into his first sip if Leon puts hazelnut in it.

“Dude!” Leon looks up to find August practically vibrating at the counter in front of him. “You gotta tell me about werewolf mating rituals!”

Leon fumbles hooking the portafilter, because Jesus. “What?”

August uses his old, beaten laptop as an armrest as he leans across the counter. Leon would feel sorry for the thing, but he knows it’s been through worse. August has probably dumped more energy drinks on the thing cramming for exams than is altogether healthy. “Mating rituals,” August says giddily, like he didn’t fry Leon’s brain with it the first time. “I need it for my next assignment on werewolf sociology.”

Leon leans over to grab a fresh bottle of milk from the fridge, and when he straightens up, August’s cheeks are a distracting pink. It’s mildly satisfying to know that talking about fucking mating rituals seems to affect August like a normal human being.

August clears his throat. “But yeah – this assignment is worth like a third of my grade and I-“

“Mating rituals?” Leon says before he can stop himself, twisting the cap off the jug. “Really?”

August grins. “Yes, really – they said I had to focus on an aspect of werewolf culture,” he says, and Leon has to roll his eyes because of course August would choose something likely to have him dragged before the Dean. “Speaking of,” August says. “Is knotting a thing?”

Leon sloshes the milk everywhere.


August started coming to the cafe two years ago, back when he was a plucky freshman with a brand-new laptop and Leon’s family were mostly known for being the only established pack in Northern California. These days, they’re also known as the makers of the best espresso in town, which Leon feels rightly proud of considering he snarls at anyone who comes near the espresso machine without a thorough knowledge of the benefits of a conical burr over blade grinders.

But anyway, August. August had tripped through the door at speed only to stare up at the menu for a solid ten minutes like it was written in goddamn Latin or something. Leon, while known for his fucking excellent coffee, was not known for his patience. Still isn’t. And so he thinks he deserves a medal for waiting as long as he had to snarl at August to get on with it.

What he hadn’t expected was for August to flail so hard he’d actually fallen over, right there in front of the counter. Leon had leaned over to make sure he wasn’t dead only to be met with one of the biggest grins he’d ever seen in his life.

“Holy shit, you’re Leon Readus,” August had said, like Leon was the second coming or something. “Dude, I have like, a million questions for you!”

Which is how Leon had found himself the unofficial go-to for August’s werewolf research.

Leon turns the mug gently as he pours, slowing towards the lip so he can start the design. He’ll never tell anyone, but this is probably his favourite part of the job – pouring little pictures into each cup, making sure each one’s unique to the customer.

Leon smirks to himself as he finishes up the cup before calling over his shoulder, “I’m on break!”

“Roger!” Linda calls back and Leon rolls his eyes. The girl’s lucky she can make a macchiato with her eyes closed.

Snagging his own, less decorative cup, Leon makes his way over to August’s seat. It’s in the back, near the kitchen, and is probably the loudest part of the cafe. August says the noise helps him focus and Leon doesn’t argue because with him there, Leon has excuses to brush by and watch him type whenever he needs anything from the store room. Like syrup. Can never have too much syrup out front. Even if Linda does huff at him about overstocking.

Leon slides the mug over to August before falling into the seat across from him. Eight hour shifts are a bitch.

August doesn’t look up, obviously on a roll, and Leon takes the opportunity to just watch. August’s forgotten to style his hair today, leaving it a fluffy, half-fucked auburn mess. It shouldn’t be as endearing as it is but that’s Leon’s fucking life these days. His lip is also shiny and red, like he’s just got through gnawing at it, which would be bad enough but he’s also typing at speed and… yeah.

Leon came to terms with the fact August’s fingers are his fucking kryptonite a long time ago, but it doesn’t make watching him work any less affecting. Leon is painfully aware that grown men aren’t supposed to fantasize about being keyboards as much as he fucking does.

August hums slightly, tipping his head at his screen before hitting control-S and shutting the laptop. Leon shifts and hopes he’s not as red as he feels.

“Ah!” August says, dragging his cup towards him. “You are the wind beneath my fucking wings, man.”

Leon tries and fails not to appreciate the delighted noise August makes upon sighting the foam.
“You always make me feel like an ass for drinking these things,” August says, grabbing at his phone to take a snap of Leon’s latest creation. Leon is fully aware of how pathetic it makes him that August taking a photo of a latte art dragon is the highlight of his day.

“So.” Leon clears his throat. “Mating rituals?”

August fucking lights up, and it’s ridiculous how badly Leon wishes this conversation could be a tactile learning experience. “Yes!” August sips at his latte and groans like Leon’s killed him, eyes fluttering shut. “Fuck yes,” he breathes and Leon has to look away, because Jesus Christ…

“What’s this one?” August asks. Leon’s been making August random concoctions for years. Ever since August admitted to ordering things at random off the menu and hating fifty percent of them. He’s never hated anything Leon’s made.

Leon shrugs. “I made it up,” he says. “It’s got hazelnut in it.”

“It tastes like an orgasm,” August says, licking foam off his top lip and Leon thanks the fucking universe that there’s a table between them.

“Mating rituals?” he says, hoping he doesn’t sound as desperate as he feels.

“Oh!” August says, putting his cup down to reopen his laptop. “Yeah, I’ve been researching and I wanted to run some stuff by you.”

Leon slouches in his chair and sips his own latte as he watches August pull up his notes. “So! Okay,” August says. “I’ve been reading up on all these, like, ritual things, only it seems like there are about ten million of them or something.”

Leon snorts. As far as the world has come since the big supernatural creature-feature reveal, mainstream media still has a long way to go when it comes to accurate, freely available information. August’s face when Leon had first told him that Google is not, in fact, his friend when it comes to werewolves had been priceless. “There are about ten million because there are ten million,” Leon says. “Mating rituals are less rituals and more…instinct.”

August taps his fingers against his coffee cup. It’s almost more distracting than his typing. “Soooo, every pair is different,” he says, and Leon can practically see him turning the information over in his head. “Because every werewolf is different?”

Leon nods. “It’s about proving to a potential mate that you can provide for them,” Leon says. “You demonstrate any skills that you have.”

“You show off like a kid at the third grade science fair, is what you’re saying,” August says, and Leon kicks him under the table. He realises a second too late that it’s something a third-grader would actually do and August must too because he’s laughing so hard he has to put his coffee down.

Leon can’t even pretend he’s not staring, because August laughs with his whole body and it’s not fucking fair at all. When he’d first staggered through the door of the cafe August was already distractingly attractive, even if Leon had stamped hard on the realisation. Since then he’s grown into his looks in a way that makes Leon want to bite something.

These days August is all broad shoulders, pale skin, and lythe muscle which would be a dangerous combination for Leon at the best of times, but it’s also attached to a whip smart, funny, semi-asshole. Leon’s honestly done for.

“So, like,” August says a few moments later, bringing Leon back to the subject at hand. “A mechanic might fix up someone’s car or something?”

Leon hums around his coffee.

“Huh,” August says, and Leon really should have learned to recognise that tone by now. “What would a barista do?”

The coffee cup in Leon’s hand freezes halfway to his mouth as he snaps his eyes up to August’s. Because, oh fuck. Oh fucking FUCK. How had he not… He didn’t… Jesus Christ-

He’s glanced down at the cup in front of August before he can think to stop himself and he knows the second he flicks his eyes back up and August’s mouth just drops right the fuck open that he’s totally fucking screwed.

“Holy crap,” August breathes.

Leon scrapes his chair back so violently he’s probably scoured grooves in the floor. “I’ve gotta-“

“Leon-“

“I’m off break,” Leon says, even though he’s got another fifteen goddamn minutes and August knows it but fucking hell.

Leon slams into the back room and thanks the fucking heavens there’s no one to snarl at for privacy because if he’s going to have a fucking mental breakdown, he’d rather it go unwitnessed.

Leon leans against the stock shelving and tries to breathe because oh my god, this isn’t happening. People do not engage in fucking mating rituals without realising what they’re doing. That’s stupid. He’s stupid. Fucking hell, he’s been courting August! With coffee! Who does that? Failing that, who expects that to work?

Leon bangs his head once against the shelves, making the syrup bottles clatter loud enough he almost misses the sound of the door opening. “Fuck off,” he snarls.

“Yeah, nope,” August says, and fuck-

Leon sighs, because there’s only one person who would have let August back here. “I’m going to kill Linda,” he says.

August snorts and Leon hears him shift closer. “Have you seriously been been peacocking me with your leet coffee making skillz?” August says, and Leon wants to bury himself in the bags of coffee beans in the corner. “Because I gotta say, dude, you had me at latte Batman.”

Leon blinks. When he turns it’s to find August just- okay, yeah, that’s really close. Close enough that it seems like nothing to reach out and- no. No. Only August doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about this being a bad idea because his hands are scorching where they’ve landed on Leon’s hips.

“I’m just gonna- yeah,” August says, eyes dipping down to Leon’s mouth and then he’s leaning in like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Leon has just enough time to suck in a startled breath before there are warm lips on his.

It starts chaste, a soft press of skin and then August’s hand on Leon’s hip spasms and Leon can’t help his slight gasp – the way it parts his lips and that’s all it takes.

August groans and Leon’s brain switches gear. He turns them, pressing August back into the shelves, which really can’t be at all comfortable, but fuck it, August doesn’t seem to be minding. August is doing the opposite of minding, actually, which is to say August is hooking one leg around Leon’s hip and making painfully hot noises as Leon licks hard into his mouth.

“Oh holy fuck,” August breathes when Leon breaks the kiss to get at his neck because he’s been wanting his mouth on August’s throat for years. “You fucking asshole,” August groans. “I’ve wanted you forever and you never said- ah!”

Leon sucks harder, feeling a growl rumble out of him when August bucks and swears, clawing at his shoulders before threading his fingers — oh fuck, his fingers — through Leon’s hair. “Oh god,” August shudders. “Don’t you dare stop.”

Only they should. They should because they’re in the goddamn store room of Leon’s family business – Linda could walk in at any moment but-

But August is hot and real and fucking all but writhing in Leon’s arms and fuck it. Fuck it. Leon drops to his knees because as much as he’s wanted his mouth on August’s throat, there’s another place he’s thought of putting it more.

“Oh fuck,” August says, voice reedy. “You’re-”

“You’re gonna have to shut the fuck up if you don’t want me fired,” Leon says and then makes the mistake of looking up.

Leon has thought about August from just about every angle, usually with a hand hot and desperate around his dick. But it doesn’t compare to the reality of August looking down at him, eyes wide and lips kiss-bitten. There’s a flush high on his pale cheeks, freckles standing out against the blush. He’s fucking beautiful and Leon’s in so much trouble.

“You own the place,” August says breathlessly but it doesn’t stop him clapping a hand over his mouth when Leon leans forward and mouths at the inseam of his jeans.

And fuck. This close, Leon can smell the arousal on him. A syrupy heat that sinks into Leon’s senses and makes his wolf want to howl in triumph. It’s everything Leon’s wanted since August had stumbled quite literally into his life. It makes something in Leon’s gut swoop as he works the fastenings of August’s jeans, finally gets them down around August’s thighs. His underwear—his fucking batman underwear, of course—is next and well – Leon’s spent a lot of time wondering about this particular dick. How it would feel in his hand, against his abs, down his throat… The reality is long, hard, and just the right shade of thick that Leon can’t help but imagine how it would feel in a more biblical sense.

But no. Later. Because there would be a later, goddammit. He’ll make fucking sure of it.

For now Leon satisfies himself with finally getting his hands on August, relishing in the buck of August’s hips; the low whine that escapes around his hand. From there it’s a simple thing to lean in and swallow him down.

August buckles, hands landing hard and grasping against Leon’s broad shoulders and it’s nothing for Leon to shift his stance and take the weight. Werewolf strength has its perks. Werewolf senses too because fuck. Fuck. August tastes good. Hot and real on Leon’s tongue – so fucking wet with precome that Leon has to swallow around him and oh, if that doesn’t elicit the best noise in the world.

“You’re gonna fucking kill me,” August groans above him and it lights something warm in Leon’s chest to hear it.

It’s nothing to the growing urgency in his own gut though, dick pressed hard and throbbing against his zipper. Leon shifts, gets one hand down and it’ll be fine – just one quick rub and he’ll be able to –

“Fuck yes,” August says. “Touch yourself.”

And really, how the fuck is Leon going to say no to that? His own zipper comes apart despite the shaking of his hands and getting his hand around his dick is like a rush of cold water in the desert. He groans around August’s dick and August swears, bucks like he can’t help it and it’s sheer dumb instinct that lets Leon take it, open his throat and just –

“Fuck, fuck… sorry!” August hisses.

Leon pulls back just long enough to cut him off. “Do it,” he says.

And August—bless his soul—doesn’t need telling twice. When Leon swallows him down again it’s to meet a sure, steady thrust and Leon can’t help the way he groans, hand tightening around his own dick. He’s not going to last. Not with August’s scent in his nose, his taste on his tongue. Not with August’s desperate panting and sure, deep thrusting.

At least he’s not alone. August’s hands have gone tight on Leon’s shoulders, fingers spasming in time with his thrusting and it’s no time at all before he’s swearing.

“Fuck, I’m gonna-”

Leon’s own orgasm hits him like a bat to the side of the head. It’s sudden, harsh, and debilitating – it’s pure instinct that keeps him upright, August’s hands still hot and trusting on his shoulders – but he can’t hold in the deep, guttural groan as he spends over his own hand.

August swears like Leon’s gutted him and goes to pull back but Leon’s having none of it. It’s nothing at all to swallow around him until August is coming down his throat, clutching at his shoulders like a lifeline as he swears loud enough someone in the cafe definitely heard.

Not that Leon can give a fuck right now. Not when his knees are weak and his head’s full of cotton wool. Not when August is collapsing in front of him – against him, burying his face in Leon’s neck.

“Jesus fucking christ, dude,” August says. “I think I’m dead.”

Leon cards his fingers through August’s hair and chuckles. “You’re a very chatty corpse.”

August leans back and wow, yeah. Leon’s never getting over post-coital August. His hair has somehow become more fucked, lips kiss-bitten and rivaling the bloom of red high on his cheeks. Leon’s never wanted a picture of something more in his life. Instead he gets the next best thing, leaning in for a warm kiss, groaning half-heartedly when August licks into his mouth, probably tasting himself and fuck…

The loud rapping at the door behind him is like a bucket of water down his back.

“Congratulations and I hate you!” Linda calls through the door. “Take the rest of the day off before you scare even more customers away.”

Leon groans, tipping his head against August’s shoulder which would be more comfortable if August weren’t absolutely cackling. When he finally sits back August is beaming at him.

“So, your place or mine?”

They end up at Leon’s. For three days.

Don't Wear Red by Stacey Lehane

Short Story

Don’t Wear Red

The forest is magnificent. Giant yew trees reach for the sky, their leaves sending dappled sunlight down toward the moss-covered floor like a parting gift. Even Shiloh can’t deny the majesty of the place, as much as she might have preferred the wood around her a little more dead, with four legs, and holding up a tankard of beer.

But alas, good things apparently come to those who wait. And wait. Shiloh sighs, pulling her pelt more securely around her as she shifts into a warmer patch of sunlight.

“Are you almost finished?” she asks. “It’s nearing dusk, my love.”

The nearest tree is a monster. As thick around as three broad men standing in a circle, arms outstretched, fingertip to fingertip. It hides Shiloh’s wife from view. Just.


When Kae rounds the trunk of the tree, she makes it look a fraction of its years just by virtue of the contrast.

“Almost,” Kae says, broad hands smoothing over the bark like she’s soothing a spooked horse. “The bairn is sick with heart rot, the poor thing. I need to shore her up before it gets worse.”

Shiloh can’t find it in herself to be annoyed. Kae’s described heart rot enough for her to have some sympathy for the poor tree. And it doesn’t hurt that seeing her wife full of care makes a puddle out of her.

“It’s a good thing I enjoy watching you work,” Shiloh says, unable to help her soft smile. “Because it’s all you do.”

Kae looks to her, sharing the smile for a moment before her eyes snap suddenly back to her charge.

Shiloh tenses on instinct. “What?”

Kae’s alert, but not reaching for her axe. Shiloh relaxes her hold on her pelt but keeps it in hand for swift action anyway.

“There’s a girl in the forest,” Kae says. “Small. Alone. The… the trees are agitated.”

“Over a girl?” Shiloh says, confusion reflected in the look Kae sends her. “That’s a new one.”

Kae turns her attention back to her patient. “I’m almost finished here, then we can-”

“I’ll go on ahead,” Shiloh says, stretching her back out as she stands. “I’ve been sitting too long anyway, I’m going to grow moss.”

Kae doesn’t pick up the thread of the joke, looking as agitated as the trees around her must be. “I don’t…”

“I’ll be okay,” Shiloh says, stepping forward to clasp her wife’s hand between hers. “I have my pelt. I’ll even take my wrap-”

“No,” Kae says quickly, stopping Shiloh with a hand on her wrist as she reaches for their pack. “Don’t wear red.”

Shiloh raises an eyebrow. “That’s not what you said the other night, my love.”

And oh yes, now who’s wearing red? Shiloh grins as she uses her grip to pull Kae within reach, pecking her on one rosey cheek.

“It’s the trees,” Kae says, brushing a strand of Shiloh’s dark hair from her face. “They’re saying, don’t wear red.”

“How judgemental of them,” Shiloh says, but leaves her red wrap safely in their pack anyway.


Tracking the girl isn’t difficult. She smells of hay and woodsmoke, a combination that is as much out of place as her humanity this far into the woods. Shiloh hangs back, employing more caution than she would have otherwise, her wife’s worried frown at the fore of her mind.

The girl is indeed alone. Shiloh closes the distance between them until she can spy the girl’s back through the trees. Her hooded cloak is flapping around her ankles as she walks.

Her hooded red cloak.

Shiloh frowns and ups her pace, circling around the girl on soft feet until she finds a clearing up ahead with a downed tree to serve as a casual perch. The girl comes upon her bare minutes later, startling to a stop despite Shiloh’s deliberate, friendly smile and unassuming posture. Unfortunately there’s little she can do about her state of dress.

The girl can’t be older than seven summers, blonde hair tufting out of her hood as curious eyes look Shiloh over. Shiloh doesn’t blame her. She’s an unusual sight at the best of times.

Finally the girl breaks the silence. “Why are you naked?”

The bluntness of the question stirs a real smile to Shiloh’s features. “I’m not naked,” she says. “I’ve this pelt.”

The girl frowns at Shiloh’s wolf pelt, twisted about her in an approximation of a tunic. “It’s not very big.”

She’s not wrong. But then… Shiloh rises to her feet – carefully,  so as not to spook the girl further. “It doesn’t have to be.”

The little girl watches her like one might watch a particularly interesting snake on one’s path. Cautious. Cautious but curious. Shiloh knows the sort. She sees it in the mirror those mornings Kae lets them hire a real room.

“What are you doing in the woods alone, child?” Shiloh says.

The girl rises to her full height, like she’s being inspected by someone with a badge. “I’m visiting The Grandmother,” she says, practically pronouncing the capital ‘T’.

Strange. Usually the trees warn Kae of any human settlements in the woods they travel. Kae’s parentage and Shiloh’s proclivity for travelling skyclad make chance meetings with humans something to be avoided.

“And where does she live?” Shiloh asks.

The little girl points along the direction she’s been travelling, deeper into the woods. “I’m to follow the sun to her cottage,” she says.

Right. Shiloh hums as she thinks. Kae isn’t far off and almost finished her tree-doctoring by her own admittance. She will catch up when she can. “May I walk with you, child?” Shiloh asks. “I’d feel much better knowing you got there safe, is all.”

After a lengthy pause, the girl nods, which is for the best really. It’s much easier to walk by her side than track her from behind.


The girl’s name is Scarlett.

“That’s an interesting name,” Shiloh says, the red of Scarlett’s cloak growing more vivid in Shiloh’s peripheral vision.

Scarlett shrugs. “Not really. There are lots of girls named Scarlett in the village.”

“Is that right?” Shiloh says, feeling more and more like she has a handful of puzzle pieces but no interlocking edges to fit them together.


They come upon the cottage as the sun kisses the distant mountains, sending the woods into an early dusk. Shiloh’s mildly put out when she notices how perfectly normal the place looks. The gardens are well-tended and the stoop swept. There’s even a cheerful glow warming the windows.

“This looks like the place,” Shiloh says, sweeping the clearing for something to explain the slow drip of dread down her spine.

Scarlett huffs a sigh next to her. She’d taken Shiloh’s hand not long into their walk and her little palm is warm and soft in Shiloh’s own.

“I guess so,” Scarlett says.

“You guess so?” Shiloh says, eye catching on a large shadow moving within the cottage. “You’ve never visited your grandmother before?”

The Grandmother,” Scarlett corrects her. “And no.”

She says it like it’s the most normal thing in the world, but as Shiloh looks down at her, the red of her cloak seeming to glow in the darkness, she can’t help but think the situation is the very furthest from normal they can get.

“Is that visitors I hear?” Comes a voice from within the cottage. Shiloh looks up as the shadow in the cottage window moves toward the door. It gets smaller as it goes which is a funny thing, because Shiloh could swear it’s moving toward the light source…

The shadow is bare steps from the door when Shiloh gives an exaggerated shiver.

“Are you cold?” Scarlett asks.

“Yes,” Shiloh says quickly. “I’m afraid I didn’t think ahead. Might I borrow your cloak, child?”

Scarlett looks torn. “I was told not to-”

“Only for a minute or two,” Shiloh says, over the creak of the door. “I promise.”

“Okay…”

Shiloh whips the cloak from Scarlett’s shoulders and about her own just in time to face the figure in the doorway who-

Is a little, old woman.

Shiloh balks at the sight, eyes warring with every other instinct telling her to run, fight, hide. Shift.

The Grandmother smiles. Her face is like a weathered peach and her hands look frail as spider’s silk. They clasp and unclasp in front of her, the only tell that she too feels the tension that’s fallen on the clearing like a woollen blanket.

“Where are you, my child?” The Grandmother asks, peering across the clearing. “Come closer, I’m afraid my eyes aren’t what they used to be.”

Scarlett is stepping forward before Shiloh can move to stop her, small hand leaving only a warm imprint on Shiloh’s palm as she lets go.

“Ah, there you are,” The Grandmother says, with a smile warm like home. “I see you now.”

Only she doesn’t. As Scarlett walks toward The Grandmother, the old woman’s eyes, suddenly sharp and shrewd, remain fixed on Shiloh. No, she thinks as she steps forward and the cloak flares out. Her eyes are on the cloak.

Don’t wear red.

“Scarlett,” Shiloh calls, pulling the cloak from her shoulders. The Grandmother’s eyes follow it’s rustle like a hawk as the fabric hits the grass.

Scarlett stops and turns back. And The Grandmother’s shadow starts to grow.

“Scarlett, run!”

Shiloh doesn’t wait for the girl to obey, simply grabs for her pelt, reaches down deep and pulls. Scarlett screams and tumbles backward as Shiloh flies at her which makes leaping the girl an easy feat. She’s only half shifted when she hits The Grandmother’s charge but it’ll do. She’s got her teeth at least.

The Grandmother is easily the breadth of Kae’s yew patient and growing, but her skin, turning green and sickly by the minute, is easy enough to tear through. She bleeds. That’s the important thing.

Anything that bleeds can die, in Shiloh’s experience.

She’s fully shifted by the time The Grandmother hauls her back by her scruff and rakes jagged claws across her furred ribs. Lucky, Shiloh thinks as she hits the ground. She doesn’t think she’d have survived it in her human form.

Shiloh rolls to her feet and snarls. Her mouth tastes of copper and she can feel something sticky on her flank but the fight is a singing, beautiful thing in her blood. She might go down but she’ll give Scarlett enough time to put distance between herself and this… whatever this is.

The Grandmother’s skin seems to boil, lending her silhouette against the rising moon an air of gut-churning horror. Which is nothing to the sight of Scarlett behind the monster, branch raised like a club. Like she’s going to fell the beast with a stick.

Scarlett lets out a warrior’s roar as she brings the branch down and-

Nothing. It breaks on The Grandmother’s writhing back like so much driftwood. Scarlett goes from heroic to trembling in a bare moment and then The Grandmother is turning. Shiloh’s paws dig large grooves in the earth as she launches herself forward – she’s never moved so fast.

The axe moves faster.

Likely because it was hurled by a half-giantess.

The Grandmother’s skull cleaves like a ripe melon and Shiloh uses her forward momentum to barrel Scarlett out of the path of the monster’s falling carcass.

And then, silence.

Shiloh uncurls with a wince to find Scarlett unhurt if a bit squished under her bulk. She wasn’t kidding when she said her pelt needn’t be big. She’s a hulking wolf no matter the size of her talisman.

“Damn you, wife! You’d best not be dead!”

Scarlett’s eyes are round as the moon rising over them, flicking panicked from Shiloh’s less-than-reassuring countenance to the giantess bearing down on them. Shiloh can’t help but snort a laugh as she shifts back to her human form, pulling herself off the child as she goes.

“It’s okay, Scarlett,” she says. “This is my wife, Kae.”

“This is your widow more like!” Kae says, picking Shiloh up with one big hand to set about inspecting her wounds. “Because I’m going to kill you for that fright you just gave me!”

Shiloh endures the inspection, mostly because she’s had a lot of practice. “My love, you’re frightening the child.”

Scarlett seems to take that as a challenge, climbing rapidly to her feet. “I ain’t frightened!”

Shiloh kisses Kae’s palm on its way to pawing at her scalp to check for head wounds and sighs. “Yes, I could see that. What part of ‘run’ didn’t you understand?”

“The part where you were in trouble,” Scarlett says, chin jutting out stubbornly.

“Oh I like her,” Kae says, seemingly having satisfied herself that Shiloh isn’t going to keel over dead any time soon.

Shiloh rolls her eyes. “Of course you do.”

Silence falls on the three of them once more as their attention turns to the hulking corpse of The Grandmother.

Scarlett breaks it. “They sent me here to get et, didn’t they?”

Shiloh, who was behind the door when the Gods handed out artifice, says, “Yes, my girl, I think they did.”

Scarlett takes this news with the sort of stoicism that’s likely going to require a lot of crying at some point later. “I’d like to not go back,” she says, finally.

Shiloh doesn’t say anything, simply exchanges a long look with her wife. And then she holds out her hand.

One year later, the village drapes another little girl named Scarlett in red and sends her into the woods. Four hours later, she comes back.


A Princess and a Boy by Stacey Lehane

Short Story

A Princess and a Boy

The boy watches from his dias, ruffled dress pressing in uncomfortably on all sides. They insisted on a corset this morning, ignoring his winces as the maid pulled it tight around curves that are becoming harder to ignore. It wasn’t the first time he had borne this sense of wrong as someone worked to present all the most awkward parts of him to the world. After all, he is the princess, and with that title comes certain obligations.

Including, apparently, suffering the groggy afternoon heat as a goatherder’s son tries to tug an ancient sword from a stone.

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