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The Art of the Trade (How the Sausage Gets Made)

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Alexander went tense. Clenched his jaw. Swallowed hard. And complied.

Jacket first—folded carefully and placed on a chair. (It’s not anal to fold his things when performing a very sullen striptease; it’s just sensible. It’s a nice jacket, his best jacket. Stripping down to his skin in his enemy’s home so that Thomas fucking Jefferson can do whatever the hell he wants to him is one thing. Wrinkling a good suit is another thing entirely.)

Tie next, then he toed off the shoes while unbuttoning the shirt. Pulled off the socks quickly, because no one looks hot while taking off their socks, but no one looks anything other than fucking stupid if they leave the socks on while taking everything else off.

Jefferson apparently knew this already, because he’d been barefoot when he’d opened the door that evening. Bare feet, loosely flowing white linen pants, and a silk shirt (in purple, of-fucking-course) with the top few buttons unbuttoned. Looking cool and elegant and relaxed despite the summer’s endless, stifling heat while Alexander, sweating in his layers, was left to feel like a fucking moron in his formal suit.

Yeah. That was a nice, awkward start to the evening.

“So silent, Hamilton. I didn’t think you knew how to go this long without running your mouth.”

Alexander bit back the barbed reply that wanted to escape. He was here, he’d come this far, he would not fuck this up now. Folding his shirt, and then unfastening his belt, he retorted, “I thought the point of tonight was to try something other than talking.”

That was what Jefferson had said, after all. When Alexander, at the end of his patience—and close to the end of his rope altogether—had flat-out demanded to know what it would take to convince the Virginian, since Jefferson refused to listen to sense or reason or goddamn beautifully articulated evidence in favor of the absolutely essential debt-plan Alexander had created, Jefferson had simply replied:

“There’s not a word you can say that would convince me. So if I take words out of the equation, what do you have left to offer?” The lazy, lingering way his eyes slid over Alexander’s body made his intentions abundantly clear.

And what the hell, why not? Nothing was going to get solved until they settled this between them, and as much as Alexander loved the sound of his own voice, even he got tired of the nonstop arguments. He was ready to just collect his win already and move the fuck on already. And once the debt plan passed, it would be a win for him, no matter what—or who—he had to do to get it.

“When would you like me to show you just what I can do?” he’d replied three days earlier.

Jefferson’s answer was a cat-who-ate-the-canary smirk before he said, “Friday. 7:00. 57 Maiden Lane,” and then walked away.

So here they were. The house was luxurious. The bedroom was ornate. The furniture was French. The bed was king-sized—and held Thomas Jefferson sprawled atop it, openly palming himself through his trousers. The floor was parquet and featured Alexander Hamilton pulling away his boxer briefs, leaving nothing but bare skin behind.

Without his words, this was what he had. So what was Jefferson going to do with it?

A single finger beckoned Alexander to approach, then gestured to Jefferson’s bared throat. “Show me what your mouth can do here,” he ordered. Obediently, Alexander leaned in, bending over and bracing himself with an arm on the edge of the bed—then nearly fell over when Jefferson, with a “Why must I deal with all the idiots” sigh, grabbed him by his free arm and dragged him in to sprawl on top of Jefferson.

“I’m not a fairy princess, Hamilton—I’m not going to be crushed by your completely underwhelming weight. I’ve had kittens sleep on top of me that had more heft than you.” Alexander reared back, ready to defend his totally normal and not at all underweight size when Jefferson preempted him with one hand on his bare ass and the other on the back of his neck, pulling him in to put his lips to work as instructed.

Jefferson was half hard already. It pressed into Alexander’s belly—unmistakable and unavoidable. He couldn’t help rubbing against it when he shifted his position to get a better angle for his mouth. The rush of arousal he felt in response was annoying…but the little gasp Jefferson made at the contact was more than worth the aggravation. Just for the hell of it, he squirmed again, then got to work licking and nibbling his way along that long, elegant neck.

Jefferson might not be a fairy princess, but he was as prissy as any fifteen year old girl when it came to his skin regime, constantly bitching at work about his sensitive skin, and the hard-to-find lotions and creams it required. So Alex was grinning a little to himself as he alternated between kitten licks—light, ticklish, barely there—and grabbing warm flesh between his teeth and sucking hard, putting his teeth to work as well. He wondered if Jefferson would shove him away, complaining about hickeys…but he moaned like something out of a top drawer porno, and the hand on Alexander’s neck fisted in his hair, holding him in place.

Score one for Alexander.

Keeping his mouth in place, Alex rearranged his body a bit, sliding a thigh between Jefferson’s legs to give him a good target to grind against, and balancing his weight on one arm to leave a hand free. That free hand quickly got to work diving inside the open expanse of that ridiculous purple silk shirt, nails dragging down over a pectoral and scraping deliberately over a nipple. “Fuck yes,” Jefferson gasped as his hips jerked up.

Score two for Alexander.

He grinned smugly as he put his back into in, giving his all to the three-pronged assault of mouth mauling Jefferson’s neck, fingers twisting and squeezing his nipple, and thigh grinding in a firm, steady rhythm against the erection that was now almost fully hard. Jefferson all but levitated off the bed.

And sure, Alex knew he was good in bed, but the response was still gratifying. Ever since coming to join their law firm—heavily recruited by senior partner George Washington from his rising-star career with a Paris corporation—Jefferson had made his disdain for Alexander more than clear. While he never actually said the words “dirty little immigrant,” the implication was always there. Everything Alexander did, every case he won and deal he closed, every brilliant negotiation and intricate contract, was greeted with—at best—amused condescension, as if he was a puppy who’d just learned not to piss on the floor. At worst, he just dismissed Alexander entirely, as if he was below Jefferson’s notice. He seemed to know exactly what to do or say in any chosen situation to make Alexander feel worthless with just a few well-chosen words.

So Jefferson thought Alexander was some filthy upstart? Fine. Alex would show him just how good it could be to wallow for a while in that filth. He’d give the man the ride of his goddamn perfect, privileged life—and even if he went back to sneering at Alexander every chance he got, Alexander would still have this memory to fall back on: cool-as-ice Thomas Jefferson moaning and writhing under his touch.

Score all the goddamn points for Alexander. He might be selling his ass for a piece of company policy, but he wouldn’t let Jefferson turn this into a humiliation or a way to put him down. He was winning the hate fucking, and he intended to keep it that way.

So with that thought in mind, it was a little shocking to find himself flat on his back a moment later with all six feet and two inches of Thomas Jefferson pinning him down. They both hold still for a moment, glaring at each other, and then Jefferson dove in for a kiss that made Alex’s head spin and seemed to leave him breathless from the instant it began.

Okay, maybe he wasn’t winning the hate fucking after all. But that didn’t mean he was going to lose. Sliding a hand into those impossibly soft curls, he focused on kissing back. Jefferson clearly approved, and the kisses—hungry and violent—continued a while longer.

It was getting hot in the room, almost unbearably so. Pinned and half-suffocated under a warm, solid body that covered him from head to toe and then some, Alex could feel his sweat soaking into Jefferson’s clothes and viciously hoped that they ruined the expensive cloth. Though of course, if sweat didn’t do the job, maybe pre-come would. They were both fully hard and leaking, Alex could feel the wetness where they were pressed together. It must have been bothering Jefferson, because he pulled away. (Alex did not let out a whimper when he felt the other man withdraw—and he’d swear to that under oath.) In a few quick movements, he’d pulled the clothes off, dumping them onto the floor. Alex only got a short glance at Jefferson’s stupidly perfect naked body before the man was on top of him again, this time biting his way down Alex’s neck and chest.

Alex didn’t see him grab the lube, but he must have at some point because only a second after that hot mouth closed around his cock, Alex felt a cool, slick finger nudging at his hole. No point in being shy—he spread his legs as far as they would go (which was pretty damn far, if he did say so himself, and lay back to enjoy the double assault.

“Oh no you don’t,” Jefferson purred, pulling his lips away while his index finger kept pressing. “I’m not going to do all the work here.” He gestured to his own hard on. “How about you keep me warm while I get you loosened up?”

Alex thought about arguing, throwing back some snark the way Jefferson probably expected him to. But his mouth was watering at the thought of that cock, and talking would just get in the way of a much better way to occupy his lips and tongue. It was the work of a moment to get their bodies arranged in a mostly-comfortable sixty-nine. The cock felt every bit as good in his mouth as he’d known it would, and the finger in his ass—then two, then three—stretched him just right. He loved bottoming, but he hadn’t had the chance in a while and the long, thick cock stretching his jaw was going to feel so very, very good. He spelled out his appreciation with his mouth so effectively that he could feel Thomas’s hands start to shake when he finally pulled his fingers free and pushed at Alex’s shoulder.

“Enough,” he bit out. “Get up here—on your back.” Alex obeyed, posing himself carefully. He knew he looked good like this—well-fucked mouth red and swollen, body sweat-sheened and flushed, cock hard and ready. It felt important to make sure his bedmate appreciated the picture, and from the way his eyes darkened, it was clear he did. He made one hell of a portrait himself—all smooth skin and sculpted muscle stretched over that long frame. Alex felt so empty that he ached, and his skin was buzzing with the need to be pressed against someone else’s. Against this someone else’s.

“Come on then, already,” he taunted. “Or have you changed your mind?”

That had the desired result of bringing that gorgeous body back on top of his, but the return to the fierce, biting kisses from earlier that Alexander had expected never materialized. Instead, lips brushed against his gently—once, twice—before the kiss deepened. Firm now, intense, but not harsh. And the hands caressing him were gentle as they adjusted his hips and lined him up for a slow, steady penetration.

Alex pulled back with a gasp, throwing his head back. “T-thomas!” It didn’t hurt—well, not more than a little—but something about it was so fiercely overwhelming that he nearly started hyperventilating, unable to process everything he was feeling.

“Shh, darlin’, I’ve got you,” a soothing voice whispered in his ear. “Doing so well, baby—just a little more. Come on and breathe for me.”

Desperate to obey, Alex sucked in a harsh breath and held it until he could release it slowly.

“That’s it, that’s perfect.” The words were followed by a sweet kiss to his cheek. The innocence of the gesture almost made him laugh when he could feel the full, substantial length of the man’s cock pressed all the way inside.

“No rush, just let me know when you’re ready to move.”

Feeling steadier, Alex lifted his leg up to wrap around a hip, arching into the body hovering over his. Thomas grinned, and started a steady rhythm that felt better than anything that had been in his bed in the last four years. Words of filthy encouragement hovered on the tip of his tongue—he’d always enjoyed running his mouth in bed—but Jefferson had said he wanted Alex without his words, so he swallowed them back and amused himself with sucking some more hickeys onto whatever stretches of skin he could reach.

“Not gonna tell me how I’m doing?” Thomas teased. “How good I make you feel? All the creative ways you’ll kill me if I even think of stopping?”

Alex shook his head. “No words in the equation, remember?”

“Maybe just a few words,” Thomas conceded, sliding an arm under Alex’s leg and lifting it higher. “‘Yes. Please. More. My name. All of those are acceptable.”

“I’ll…take that under consideration,” Alexander said, gasping a little at a very well-placed thrust.

“You can do better than that,” Thomas tsked, upping the ante with deft fingers teasing Alex’s erection in just the way that always drove him wild. “Come on, I haven’t had neighbors pounding down my door, thinking I’m killing someone, in years. Go on and scream for me, baby. You know you want to.”

Another shift of Alex’s leg lifted it over Thomas’s shoulder, making every thrust hit his sweet spot dead on. He couldn’t help the scream he released, but he took vicious pleasure in scraping his nails down Thomas’s chest—hard enough to leave marks. He was going to have a hell of a time sitting down for the next few days. The least he could do to return the favor was make sure Jefferson had his own little reminders to face every time he looked down at himself.

“There’s my wildcat.” Thomas sounded smugly satisfied. “I knew four years couldn’t have changed you that much.” He picked up the pace—hard, deep thrusts that felt insanely good, that quickly started to drive him insane, because despite his best efforts to keep his goddamn mouth shut, words started spilling out.

“Yes, fuck—that’s…god, that feels good. You always feel so…” He choked back the end of that sentence, but a whimper, high pitched and embarrassingly needy, escaped in its place. Maybe words were the better option after all. “Please, I need more, I need y—” No, not that. Not those words. Anything else. “I need—I…”

“I know exactly what you need, darlin’. Come on and say it.”

“I need to come,” Alex gritted out through clenched teeth. “Almost there…”

“Nope.” A hand slid around the base of his erection, cutting him off from the orgasm that hovered just out of reach. “Not until you say it.”

“You bastard, whoreson, piece of shit—”

Infuriatingly, Thomas chuckled. “Good effort, but not quite what I want to hear. Come on, sweetheart—you can do it. Say my name, start with that.”


“Not even close. Baby, you know better than to try to put a wall between us when we’re like this. No more distance. No more pretending. What’s my name?”

He couldn’t, Alex couldn’t. He needed those walls. He’d fall apart without them—would lose all the anger and be left with nothing but the pain that got worse with every sneer, every curt dismissal from the man who used to…

Used to be…

Warm lips painted a string of kisses along the line of his jaw, up to his ear. The whisper came soft and low, intimate and sweet. “I’m here, I’ve got you. It’s okay, baby—it’ll all be just fine once you say it.”

Used to be the love of his fucked up life.

And goddamnit, he was still so fucking weak for that voice when it turned gentle—a gentleness he’d always craved. He knew he was contrary and stubborn and a full-fledged pain the ass when he was riled, but there was a side of him only a few had seen—a side that longed to be pleasing, to deserve praise and affection. And that voice tapped right into the switch in his brain that made him feel twenty-three again, and open, and puppy-dog eager, and absolutely, top-to-bottom, head over heels in love with…

“Tommy, I…Tommy, please!”

“That’s it, sweetheart. That’s so good—perfect.” The hand on his cock switched to stroking him, and the orgasm started to build again, even stronger than before. “So beautiful like this, baby—just for me. Tell me it’s just for me.”

“Just you,” Alex panted out.

“Tell me no one else makes you feel this good, that I’m the one you need.”

“No one else, Tommy. Need you.”

“Fucking right, you do.” Thomas’s voice dropped into a growl, getting swept away in it, too. It made Alex feel marginally better to know he wasn’t the one losing control.

The thrusts were shaking the bed now, hard and brutal and overwhelming. Sweat was dripping into his eyes and coating his skin and he could barely catch his breath. He was distantly aware that he was screaming, but it was background noise to the deafening thud of his heartbeat in his ears. He was so close.

And then he was there.

Orgasm crashed over him, punching the last breath of air from his lungs and sending his eyes rolling to the back of his head. Everything went white and bright for a moment that seemed to last a year or more.

And then it ended. The world came back into focus. He could feel his fingers and toes, though moving them seemed like more trouble than it was worth. And he could take a breath again…sort of.

Hard to breathe with about two hundred pounds of sweaty Virginian collapsed on top of you.

Alex scowled and poked a nearby shoulder. “Get off, you weigh a ton.”

“And you don’t weigh nearly enough. I can feel your ribs poking into me. Has no one fed you in the last four years?”

Alexander bristled. “I’m an adult who’s perfectly capable of feeding himself.”

Thomas snorted, but rolled off of him, lying on his side right next to Alex, incisive brown eyes scanning him with a proprietary air. “No, you’re not. But it’s fine—I stocked the fridge. I’ll run down and grab our dinner when I feel like moving again. I picked stuff we could eat in bed without making a mess. And yes, before you ask—blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I got the syrup you like, too.”

“I…wasn’t going to ask.” He really wasn’t. Because…breakfast? That was a thing that was happening? For them? Together?

He’d thought he’d known what he was getting into when he’d agreed to come over for “dinner” tonight. He’d expected a hot, hard round of hate fucking—a punishment for the way things between them had ended, a reminder of what he’d never be able to have again. And then he’d pretty much expected to be kicked to the curb. Discarded like the garbage Thomas seemed to see him as now—worthless and disposable to the man who’d once treated him like a treasure.

He’d missed a step somewhere. But where?

“Breakfast?” he asked hesitantly.

Thomas rolled his eyes, misunderstanding. “We’re not having breakfast for dinner. You can damn well wait until morning for pancakes. For now, protein, rehydration—” he grinned as he rubbed a hand low on Alex’s belly, just above his groin, “—maybe a few more rounds of exercise, and then I’ll stuff you with all the sugar you want, okay?”

And god, it was so tempting to just go with it—to nod his head and pretend that Thomas had answered his question. To relax back into the easy, affectionate caresses and let himself believe the last four years had just been a bad dream.

But no, the conversation needed to happen eventually, and better for it to happen now, before he got his hopes up. When he stood some chance of being able to walk out of here with a few shreds of pride intact if it escalated into one of those fights that seemed to be all the contact they could manage these days, and Thomas pushed him away again.

“You want me to stay the night?”

Thomas looked at him oddly, seeming almost confused for a moment. “Yes,” he answered before his eyes narrowed in understanding. He sat up. “Yes,” he repeated, harder and bordering on angry, the comfortable playfulness of a moment before totally gone. “That’s what I want. That’s what we both want, and I’m damn well sick of waiting for it.”

“Is that what you call what you’ve been doing for the past three months?” Alexander demanded, his own anger rising as he sat up as well. “Waiting for this? I must have been confused, then. Because what I thought you were doing was treating me like the last person in the world you’d be willing to piss on if I was on fire.”

“Let’s not forget,” Thomas spat out, “that I’m the one who got thrown away. What was I supposed to do, beg you to take me back? You said you were done with me. You were clear.” In spite of himself, Alexander flinched at that, remembering just how clear he had been, the things he’d had to say—lies he’d had to invent—to get Thomas to walk out of his life.

“You had to be the one to make the first move,” Thomas continued. “You had more than enough chances.”

“Me throwing myself in your path in your first five seconds in the office wasn’t enough of a move?” Alex demanded, indignant. “What was I supposed to—drop my pants, turn around and bend over on the conference room table?”

“That would have been better than the option you chose: tearing me to shreds in the senior staff meeting that day.”

“You started it! You ripped into my plan the second you opened your mouth. You didn’t even talk to me about it first!”

“Of course I didn’t—that was your cue. All it would have taken was you saying that I clearly didn’t understand the finer points of the plan, and that we should make an appointment to discuss them. A private meeting over dinner, coming back here for drinks, hashing out the final compromises over breakfast and then we could have come back in to work that morning with a deal in place and our relationship back on track. Simple as that.”

Alexander gaped at him, truly at a loss for words for one of the first times in his life. “Are you honestly telling me that dumping on my plan that first day—in front of the entire senior staff, people I’d been busting my ass trying to impress since the day the company started—was your way of what, flirting?”

Thomas shrugged, deliberately casual, but Alex saw the hint of a blush creeping over his cheekbones. For all his seductive charm, Thomas was beyond hopeless at flirting when it was someone he actually cared about. His bumbling passes five years ago, then they’d first met, had been so incredibly awkward that Alex, an interning law student already overawed by the dashing assistant district attorney, was convinced Thomas was making fun of him. It had taken time, and the careful manipulations of their friends, for him to realize that Thomas was sincere and actually wanted him.

The year that followed had been the happiest of his life.

But then it had ended. He had ended it, for reasons that had seemed worth it at the time. He’d spent the next four years selfishly regretting it, wishing he could go back in time and make the choice that would make him happy, rather than the choice that was best for the man he loved. Had loved. Still loved. Couldn’t stop loving, even when he came back from France in fuck-off purple velvet and started treating Alexander like the dirt beneath his overpriced shoes.

But now…did they actually have a chance to start over again?

“And everything that has happened since?” Alex asked.

“I attacked your plan,” Thomas replied. “You attacked me. After that, how was I supposed to react?”

So he really had hurt Thomas with what he’d said that first day. At the time, he’d wondered. Thomas had seemed so willing to turn it into a battle between them, to take every excuse to rub Alex’s face in the dirt. He’d thought that was all that was left between them—anger and bitterness. So those were the weapons he’d used to lash back, and it had all escalated from there.

But now…just the idea that it could have gone a different way, if he hadn’t been so quick to overreact to the first words of criticism in that meeting. His pride always came back to bite him—but he wouldn’t let that happen today. To hell with pride. If opening his heart and revealing his true, honest feelings was what it took to get back what they had, he’d do it without hesitating. He’d walk through fire to get his place back in Thomas’s heart.

“You could have just told me to get on my knees and beg you for a second chance. I’d have done it.”

Thomas’s jaw dropped. Alex smirked. “In fact,” he said, shifting onto his knees, “I’ll do it right now.” He crawled across the bed to Thomas and straddled his lap, wrapping his arms around Thomas’s neck. “Please give me a second chance, Tommy. I’d give anything to get us back to where we used to be.”

Thomas gulped, eyes wide. “That’s…that’s not on your knees,” he said, clearly struggling for self-control. “That’s on my lap.”

“I’m on my knees and on your lap,” Alexander countered. “It’s more fun this way. Everything’s better when I’m touching you.” He used to say that a lot. He could tell Thomas remembered from the way he shivered at the sound of the words.

“Alex, I…”

“I love you, Tommy,” Alex interrupted. Thomas froze. The moment stretched out, long enough that Alexander started to feel uncomfortable. Was Thomas not ready to hear that yet? Had his mouth gotten ahead of him again? “Too soon?” he asked. Then a horrible thought came to him and his voice shook a little as he asked, “Too late?”

That spurred Thomas into action. “Never, baby,” he promised as he wrapped his arms around Alex, pulling him in close and tucking Alex’s head under Thomas’s chin. Alex shifted his body, wrapping his legs around Thomas’s waist and settled in to just be held, basking in the gentle fingers stroking his hair and tugging just right, in the way that always relaxed him. He breathed in deeply, inhaling the scents of Thomas and sweat and sex and smiling as he planted a kiss on Thomas’s collarbone and nestled closer.

“Are you falling asleep?” Thomas asked, sounding amused.

“Mmhmm,” Alex agreed, then jumped when Thomas poked him in the side, right where he was ticklish. He scowled at Thomas, who was grinning at him.

“Oh, don’t give me that look,” Thomas replied cheerfully. “You know you’ll be bitching at me tomorrow if you wake up all sticky and gross. Go,” he smacked Alex on the ass. “Shower.”

“Shower with me?”

“We should actually eat sometime before midnight, so no—I’ll clean up in the kitchen sink while I’m grabbing our dinner. It’ll be ready by the time you get out.”

Grumbling about bossy, overbearing assholes, Alex obeyed, heading into the bathroom.

Finger food was spread across the bed when he reemerged—platters of sushi, finger sandwiches, sliced fruits and veggies and—tucked in the corner beside where Thomas sprawled, cleaned up but still in all his bareass naked glory—a small tray of brownies. Thomas would indulge Alex’s sweet tooth, but he’d have to climb onto Thomas lap first. Alex grinned. Sounded fair to him.

“Water first,” Thomas said, tossing him a bottle. “There’s aspirin on the nightstand—it’ll take the edge off some of tomorrow’s soreness if you take it now.”

“Good idea,” Alex agreed. “Haven’t been in that position for a while now.”

Thomas tensed subtly. “Just how long has it been?”

Alex resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He should have known this would be coming. But it was fine—he had nothing to be ashamed of, and certainly nothing that would get in the way of what he wanted with Thomas now. He walked over to the nightstand, opened the bottle of aspirin. “In that position? About two years. Random guy I met at a conference in Baltimore. One night stand—I never saw him again.” He popped the pills and swallowed them down, then climbed on the bed next to Thomas. Putting a little space between them might make this conversation easier—but he would through putting space between himself and Thomas. He had permission to be close to him again, and that was exactly where he wanted to be.

“You let a one night stand fuck you like that?”

“Well, we used a condom—but otherwise, yeah. I was lonely. Horny. And he looked a little like you.”

That pleased Thomas, he could tell. But the tension in his shoulders didn’t go away completely. So now it was time for this conversation. Alex braced himself while trying to decide just how much truth he should tell. In the meantime, he mechanically started eating, not really tasting anything he was putting in his mouth.

“So he wasn’t the one you left me for,” Thomas said.

Alex sighed. “No. He wasn’t. I didn’t…I never actually said there was someone else, you know.”

“No,” Thomas agreed. “You just dropped a truckload of hints designed to make me think there was someone else. At first, anyway.”

“At first?” Alex asked, surprised. He’d thought that Thomas had bought his excuses.

“The private investigator I hired made it clear that you weren’t having an affair—you didn’t even go to bed with anyone for over a month after you ended things with me, and that was just a drunken pick up at a bar.”

“You hired a private investigator?”

“Well, of course I did. I was packing for France, and there are only so many hours in a day. It’s not like I could follow you around myself.

That was just so very…Thomas. As was the total lack of apology for it.

Thomas wasn’t a nice man. Or a good man. Or a kind man. He was a great man—compelling, determined, decisive. He was capable of extraordinary thing, and had the connections, commitment and sheer, blinding brilliance to see them through. One day, he would become president. One day they’d carve his face into mountains. One day, he’d be famous across the world.

And he still wouldn’t be a nice man.

He could be rude, dismissive. He was infuriatingly patronizing towards those he viewed as less than himself—less intelligent, less proficient, less important—and that was how he viewed most people. His temper flared at the slightest provocation, and he’d hold on to a grudge until it died of old age. Even with those he cared about, he could be off-putting—too intense. His two modes for sexual partners were “meaningless fling” or “lifelong commitment” with nothing in between. The morning after their first night together, Thomas had driven Alex home and then come inside to pack a bag of things for Alex to leave at Thomas’s place. They’d been dating for all of a month when Thomas had informed Alex that he’d already planned and paid for a vacation for them to take together six months down the line. He was controlling. Possessive. Autocratic. And jealous, lord, like he thought every guy who so much as smiled at Alex was a threat to their relationship. Loving him wasn’t easy. Sometimes it felt like an endless series of battles.

But most of the time, god help him, it felt like bliss.

“I didn’t cheat on you—I swear. You should know that the whole time I was with you, it was just you, no one else.”

At that, Thomas softened slightly and gave him a half smile. “I know. I didn’t believe it at first, when I was too angry to think straight, but I figured it out soon enough.”

Alex smiled back, relieved.

“I still thought there was someone else, though—someone you wanted to pursue. And you needed me out of the way, first, so it had to be someone who knew we were together.”

Alex rolled his eyes. “If this is about John again—”

“No, I knew it wasn’t Laurens. I wouldn’t need to be out of the way for that. He’d have climbed under the table and blown you right in front of me while we were having him over for dinner if you’d let him.”

Which…was true, probably, so Alex couldn’t exactly argue against it.

“I thought it was Washington, actually,” Thomas continued, smacking Alex on the back when he started choking on his finger sandwich. “You always got a little too touchy when he called you ‘son.’ Or maybe Burr—your friendship with him never made any goddamn sense, but I caught you checking out his ass a couple of times.”

“It’s a nice ass,” Alex defended.

“Mine’s better,” Thomas sniffed.

“Of course it is. That’s why I chased after yours like I couldn’t get enough, as opposed to just admiring Burr’s in passing.”

Thomas nodded, mollified. “But it wasn’t either of them,” he said. “It wasn’t anyone we knew. That investigator followed you for six months and there was never even a hint of you flirting with anyone you came across. A few nights, you went to bed with strangers, but never the same one twice. You acted like your heart had been broken, instead of you breaking mine.”

Alex flinched, and scooted over closer to Thomas, resting his head on his lover’s shoulder. Thomas was always soothed by touch—as was Alex. When they fought, this was usually how they made up. One would reach out to the other, and keep reaching out until the touch was accepted. After that, they might still be angry, but they were reminded that they’d get through this—that everything was always better together. He’d never been in a relationship where mutual devotion had felt so stable and unshakable, like it was a bedrock truth that Thomas loved him—something he never had to doubt for an instant. Even when he and Thomas screamed at each other, or pouted and sulked in silence, he’d never feared that Thomas didn’t care about him anymore. He knew he was loved. Knew they’d work it out. Even now, as they discussed how Alex had torn apart what they’d had, Thomas didn’t turn away from him. He lifted an arm to wrap it around Alex’s shoulder, then fed him a piece of sushi.

Eel. Yuck. Clearly Thomas was still holding on to some anger.

“So there wasn’t someone else,” Thomas recapped. “And it wasn’t for your career. After I left, you didn’t change anything. Same classes, same focus for your studies. Washington kept mentoring you. I could have helped. I wouldn’t have held you back. After getting your law degree, when you invested all that time and effort into helping Washington put the firm together—it would have happened faster with me there. And I’d have had your back with those assholes who didn’t think you were qualified for the position he’d given you.”

Alex tensed a little at that, and mentally cursed himself for it. Pressed together like this, there was no way Thomas had missed it.

And indeed, he hadn’t.

“People like putting you down,” Thomas stated carefully, with forced casualness. “They always have. Your background, your family, the fact that you didn’t have any money. You always blew those comments off. And in return, you showed them that you didn’t give a damn what they thought because you knew your own worth. The only time it bothered you was when it included me.”

Gold digger. Flavor of the month. Social climbing slut. Jefferson’s little fucktoy. He’d heard just about every variety on it that he could think of. The idea that he was sleeping his way into a better life was fucking offensive and it pissed him off—but he could deal with it. The suggestion that he was a liability, that he was holding Thomas back…that was harder to swallow.

He’d been all of twenty-four, one year into the best relationship of his life and so in love that he could hardly breathe through it sometimes. Thomas had made him incredibly happy, and he knew, he knew he made Thomas happy, too. But that didn’t mean Alex was good for him. Didn’t mean the relationship wasn’t an anchor dragging Thomas back from all he had the potential to become. Thomas wasn’t a good man, but he was a great one—with a great destiny in front of him.

Loving him meant not getting in the way of that, didn’t it?

“So who was it?” Thomas asked softly. “Who spilled that poison in your ear and convinced you I’d be better off without you around?”

Alex winced. “He was trying to help,” he argued. “He just wanted what was best for you.”

“Who was it?” Thomas repeated, steel in his voice now.

“You didn’t even tell me about the Paris job,” Alex tried next. “This big chance for you to make a name for yourself, and you didn’t bring it up because you knew that my visa meant I couldn’t come with you.”

“So it was someone who knew about the Paris job,” Thomas mused. “Someone who told you about the job before I had a chance to bring it up. That narrows it down. Before we split, I hadn’t told many people.”

“I was holding you back, keeping you from that opportunity. You did amazing things in Paris, and none of that would have happened if you’d chosen to stay here with me.”

“Couldn’t be Laf,” Thomas continued, completely ignoring what Alex was saying. “He loved the idea of the two of us together. And not Jem, either. You two might rub each other the wrong way, but he respects the hell out of you, even if he’d never admit it to your face. He doesn’t agree with you on just about anything, but he’d punch any guy other than me who tried to put you down—and he still gives me these disappointed looks whenever I insult you, like he just wants us to make up and stop being childish.”

“He thought he was doing the right thing, Tommy. He may not be my biggest fan, but he didn’t do this to you, he did it for you.”

Thomas snorted. “Nope, don’t even try playing the ‘Tommy’ card. You know that all bets are off when someone hurts you. I won’t do anything illegal, or anything that could get me blackmailed down the line—beyond that, you aren’t allowed to bitch about it. That’s the rule.”

“I just want you to consider this calmly. You’ve known him for a long time—way longer than you’ve known me. You don’t want to burn this bridge.”

“Oh, I really think I do,” Thomas replied with a wicked smirk. “I think I want to show John Adams exactly how it feels to watch the life you wanted for yourself fall apart around you.”

Alex slumped in defeat, but still tried one more time. “He’s your friend.”

“Was he?” Thomas answered coolly. “I can’t remember anymore. It’s been too long.”

“You had lunch with him yesterday.”

“That was before you told me you love me—it was a lifetime ago.”

Alex sighed and turned his face to rest against Thomas’s chest, closing his eyes. He couldn’t really argue with that.

“Cheer up, sweetheart,” Thomas said, pressing something against his lips. Alex opened his mouth without looking and smiled when he bit down to taste brownie. “We won’t be leaving this bed except for food and bathroom breaks all weekend. You’ll have plenty of time to change my mind. Maybe I’ll decide not to take my revenge after all.”

“No, you won’t,” Alex mumbled through a mouthful of delicious brownie.

“No, I won’t,” Thomas agreed, not even bothering to sound sorry about it. “But you should try convincing me anyway. It’ll be fun.”

Yeah, it probably would be.

“I love you, Tommy.”

“I love you too, darlin’. I never stopped, even when I was convinced you didn’t love me anymore. I even kept the ring.”

Wait, what? “Ring?”

“That’s why I didn’t tell you about the Paris job—I was figuring out the logistics of bringing you with me once we were married.”


“Of course. But don’t worry, this is our time for reunion weekend marathon sex, not engagement weekend marathon sex. We’ll pull the ring out some other time. After I’ve figured out how to ruin Adams’s life—it’ll be my wedding present to myself. And to you.”

“But I don’t want you to ruin Adams’s life.”

“Hush, honey—have another brownie.

He pushed the brownie up against Alex’s lips. Alex considered…then accepted it. They really were delicious brownies. And he was in the arms of a delicious man who he loved. A delicious, devious, brilliant, fucked up, genius, asshole of a man who loved him like no one ever had before. Who would love him for the rest of his life.

John Adams had cost him four years of this. Maybe he deserved to suffer after all.

And then Thomas’s lips were on his again, and Alex let the pleasure wash every other thought out of his mind. For now, this was enough. He was happier than he’d been in four years. His future looked brighter than it ever had.

For the first time in his life, Alexander Hamilton was satisfied.