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Why bother?

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They were making love. Or maybe Fergus would call it fucking, Marsali thought coyly, reaching up to trace his cheekbones.

Their joined movements were jerky and uninhibited, loosened in the warm fog of the wine on their breaths. There was an eager freneticism as they enjoyed being together.

He held his weight on his forearms, braced on either side of her shoulders with his palms holding her close. His darkened eyes were unfocused, seeing instead the sensation of their connection.

His movement slowed to deliberate thrusts. Enjoying the slack of wine and unwilling to slide into sober stability just yet, Marsali undulated her hips, her legs wrapping tight, pulling him in, deeper, her legs coming up and around, drawing a groan from him. She used her heel to rap against his buttocks, a signal to speed back up.

He reached back to grasp her thigh, laughing breathlessly, meeting her demands. She stuck her tongue out and licked the tip of his nose, grazing it briefly with her teeth, giggling with satisfaction. He quickened his pace, coaxing carefree laughter out of her as her hands tightened on his shoulders.


They both froze, eyes wide as they stared at each other. Sobriety trickled like slow melting ice over them.

Little footsteps retreated, escaping down the hall.

They quickly disentangled and sat up. Marsali mouthed a silent curse as Fergus chuckled, running a hand through his hair.

They had spent the evening out, celebrating with Brianna and Roger, who were newly engaged. Vibrations of romance and lust quivered around the couple, spreading to everyone around them. It reminded Fergus and Marsali what it had been like to be in the middle of that relationship crescendo, an enchanting and perfect forever within reach.

Upon coming home, they had rushed their babysitter out of the house and clumsily pushed each other towards the bedroom, paying no heed to clothing shed like a bread crumb trail. In their urgency, they hadn’t bothered closing the bedroom door or sliding beneath the sheets, instead landing on top of the mattress in a pile of gleeful limbs.

Fergus reached for his t-shirt and shorts. “I’ll go talk to him.” Marsali gave him a meaningful look, perhaps in warning or surrender.

He padded down to Germain’s room and peeked in. The aquarium night-light glowed blue in the night’s darkness, and Fergus could make out the shape of his son on his race car bed.

“Hey, bug,” he murmured, leaning on the door frame. Best to act like nothing is out of the ordinary, he thought. “What do you need?”

Germain lifted his head, sleepy-eyed but lucid. His blonde curls had been flattened by the pillow. “Can you get me some water?”

Fergus pointed to the small plastic cup on the end table. “You have water.”

“I know, but it tastes better when you get it.”

Grinning, Fergus held his hand out to his son. “Let’s go, then.”

In the kitchen, Fergus filled a kid-sized cup from the tap.

“Papa,” said Germain, all of a sudden sounding older than his five years. “What were you and Mama doing?”

Fergus briefly considered lying, then inwardly shrugged. Why bother?

“We were having sex, bug,” he replied, voice soft but matter of fact. He handed the cup to the child.

“Oh.” Germain drank it until it was empty. “What’s that?” he asked when finished.

Fergus crouched down to meet Germain’s eye. The question—and the answer—could never be avoided at this point. Still, his mind went through a rolodex of explanations, ranging from the scientific and anatomical to the vulgar. He pretended to think very seriously for Germain’s sake.

“Sex is something your body can do with others or by yourself, when you’re older.” He paused, searching for words that a child might understand, “Sex makes your wiener feel good.”

His son giggled, baby teeth showing briefly. “No, it doesn’t!”

Fergus nodded solemnly, making a Scottish noise with his throat, reminding him of his own Da. “Mmmphm.”

“My wiener doesn’t feel good!”

“But it will, when you’re much older. And then you’ll know what I mean.” He picked up his spindly kindergartener, bracing him on his hip. Germain was too big to carry, but Fergus wanted to hold him for just a moment, feeling the solid weightlessness of childhood.

He tucked his son into bed, carefully arranging his stuffed dinosaurs and bears around his head. He gave the sleepy boy a kiss on the forehead and whispered, “Bonne nuit.”

Back in his own bedroom, Fergus pointedly shut the door.