When she agrees to marry Leonard McCoy, Jocelyn Darnell reluctantly sets aside the idea of taking other lovers. He’s whip-sharp, keeps up with her snarky humor and hairpin conversational turns like no one else she’s ever met, and they’ve been known to talk the clock around. Sweet and considerate under a taciturn exterior, Leonard is also a tender and frequent lover — if sometimes a bit conservative. So she doesn’t have any trouble convincing herself that sharing a life with Leonard and having him in her bed every night will be worth forsaking all others.
And Leonard, himself, is faithful to her — which, she privately thinks, has as much to do with his workaholic tendencies as a lack of inclination to stray. She presses him, once, about whether he finds anyone at the hospital tempting; he finally admits there’s a certain derriere he fantasizes about seeing naked, but only shakes his head lazily when she asks if he’s tried flirting or sneaking a peek in the locker room. His nonchalance makes it harder for her to confess her own frustrated fantasies about Desideria, the graceful Brazilian lady who delivers packages to the grad student offices.
But he laughs, eyes crinkling softly. “It’s all right, Joce. Have a flirt, have a cup of coffee, have a fling if you like. I knew who you were when we got married.”
“Really, darlin’, it’s okay,” he says, leaning in to give her a soft kiss on the lips. “Thanks for tellin’ me first — reassures me how much I mean to you. But I don’t need you to change. I know who you’re comin’ home to.”
Lusting with permission isn’t quite as thrilling, she finds, as the furtive cheats she engaged in as an undergrad, but the marriage and Leonard are a lot more important to her than those boyfriends were. At first, she thinks she needs to be careful to protect his feelings. She waits for days when he’s busy or traveling, she showers thoroughly after, and she only pursues women. But he’s not stupid, and he’s not blind, and one night after they’ve shared a bottle of wine over dinner, he asks about her latest conquest, and before she really knows what’s happening, she’s leaning back on the couch babbling every glorious detail while Leonard’s mouth roots between her thighs. When he takes her, right there against the living room wall, it’s with a vigor she hasn’t felt in a long while.
After that, she looks forward to bringing the details home to him, and listening to her exploits never fails to get him going, even after a draining double shift. She confesses this in the bed of one of her fellow grad students, who has turned out to be one of her more creative lovers; a new thrill zings through her at Rowan’s laughter.
“Oh, honey, he wants to do more than hear about it — take me back to your place. Now.”
The look on Leonard’s face when they come in the door — lips parted, hazel eyes wide and a familiar faint flush creeping up his neck — banishes all uncertainty. His rapt attention heightens her awareness of every touch and moan, adds new depths to her carnal joy. By the end of the night she’s already planning what sort of armchair to buy for the bedroom; even with his dark prick wrapped in his hand, he’s a bit less sexy than usual perched on the edge of the tiny white curlicued chair she keeps tucked under her vanity.
A year or more, this goes on, and their sweet sex life is better than ever, much less predictable. She’s straightforward with her flings about keeping it simple; she never brings a particular woman to their bed more than once or twice. And the things he watches her lovers do to her make their way into their private intimacies. Little by little, the shyness she’d once thought was prudishness is being eroded, even if he still can’t quite bring himself to expose all of his own fantasies to the light.
Even when invited, Leonard doesn’t join her in bed, preferring to play voyeur. He sits so quiet her lover may forget he’s there, attention fully on Jocelyn’s heaving body beneath or above or beside her. As far as Jocelyn’s concerned that’s how things should be: what’s going on in the bed isn’t about him, even though sharing it with him is an important part of their marriage.
While she’s finishing her master’s thesis, he takes on ER duties at a second hospital, to cut down on his student debt, he says. She thinks the time is right for them to get pregnant — and she knows he wants a child as much as she does — but he inexplicably disagrees; they patch up their fight over an intense night with an alluring short-haired dancer from Boston. It’s the first time she watches him fuck someone else, and it's delicious, to discover a deeper understanding of Leonard’s delight in the outside perspective. She also gains a new appreciation for his lean body and broad hands: the gentle but thorough way he unravels the lithe body beneath his, just as he takes Jocelyn to pieces when they’re alone again.
She’s mad at him again the first time she brings home a young man. She’s forgotten why by the time she’s pinned between two sweaty bodies, groaning and sobbing and smearing kisses all over Leonard’s face, feeling his strong arms wrapped around both her and the boy panting hard on the back of her neck. She’s sure it’s Leonard’s long, tapered fingers toying with the boy’s hole that finally pushes the three of them over the edge like dominoes.
He’s given her the clue she needs; she’s eager to seek ways she can make their sexual games as much about him as about fulfilling her own desires, and her dawning awareness of Leonard’s unspoken needs kindles new thrills in their bed.
She doesn’t have as many men in her circle of acquaintances, though, and fewer still up for a bisexual tryst, even among those who’ve seen the husband who’s far more attractive than he gives himself credit for. Between her voluptuous curves and quick humor, she’s never had trouble attracting men, but the idea of hunting out the right type in bars or bookstores is a little exhausting.
Rowan — no longer her lover, but still a good friend — comes to the rescue, and points her toward a dating service where all of the members are screened and filtered to match their preferences, in theory at least. Jocelyn and Leonard browse side by side; she notes that he lingers over a certain type of blond, but the first one they try doesn’t lure Leonard out of the armchair, and ruins his chances at another go when he wants to know if he can come back to cook dinner for them the next night. The second one is so polite and passive underneath her that she might as well be riding a plastic toy while Leonard presses into her from behind.
“Maybe it’s the wrong place to be looking for one-night-stands,” she gripes to Rowan over a cup of coffee the next day. “You can’t feel any zing through a computer screen. Maybe I need to start going to parties again, or something.”
“You know, Xu would have a fit about you drawing conclusions based on a sample size of two,” Rowan laughs, reaching across the table to pat Jocelyn’s hand. “Stick with the service. Leonard’s much too shy to begin with, and you never know what random guys at parties might do when you get them alone, much less the creepy ones who hang out down by the clubs.”
It’s like Rowan’s words are a magnet turned the wrong way. Jocelyn doesn’t know why she ends up parked on a grimy downtown street, still dressed like a sweet Southern professional, watching lines of people gather and then ebb into the nightclubs that change owners and names as often as she changes her underwear. Most of the kids are there to dance, but some stay outside under the slow red-white red-white flash of the neon signs, sucking on cigarettes to fight the chill; loose hips and easy smiles responding to any person or car that approaches.
Her fingers flex and then curl around the steering wheel. If she defined herself only as a student, a wife, a buyer of bran flakes and broccoli, she’d admit she should start the car, get out of this neighborhood and not look back. But she doesn’t. She’s driven by a novel hunger that's going to need feeding soon — very soon. Tonight she’s a hunter, a lioness aching to bring down prey for her mate.
This first night, she merely intends to watch: a scientist studying the dynamics and flow of the crowd, a smart cookie learning the cast of characters and the potential dangers. Some of the lingering young men and women vanish into alleys and bars with new “friends” for fifteen minutes, half an hour at a time, then return to the sidewalk as if they never left. Others get into cars and don’t come back — though she’ll bet money she’d see them here again tomorrow.
Out of the corner of her eye, Jocelyn sees a flash of falling movement. She turns her head in time to catch one of the boys startling at a sudden crash. He looks back at a dumpster in the alley behind him, then up. She follows his gaze, sees a figure in black leaning over the edge of the decrepit second-story rooftop and waggling insouciant fingers at his maybe-friend below. Her breath catches when the lean young man climbs over the parapet, but he’s graceful and sure, his fingers know where all the handholds are along the rusty drainpipe and narrow windows, and he lowers himself hand over fearless hand to the ground. The denim jacket tied around his waist by the sleeves conceals his swaying derriere; his hair is short and scruffy, and shines blond when the nightclub sign clicks back to white.
She gets out of the car and crosses the street in eight swift strides, despite her best intentions. There’s something different about the easy way this boy moves, something special in his carriage. Leonard will want him. She wants him. And so do half the other predators on the street. Her heart-rate picks up, the thrill of the hunt heating her skin and rushing blood to her vulva and nipples.
He sees her coming, pauses briefly in the act of shrugging his jacket on over his sleeveless black shirt, tucks his hands in his pockets. Leather pants hug his legs and crotch in a way that makes her mouth go dry. His eyes look dark, sultry, under the blood-red neon, subtly outlined in black; his plush lips are darker. She doesn’t doubt he’s evaluated her body and her wardrobe in one quick glance, from hairdo to shoes to the understated wedding ring in between. He cracks a knowing, welcoming smile as she approaches, extends an elbow in her direction as if he’s just been waiting for her to show up and take his arm.
“Hiya, gorgeous. Looking for a dance partner?” The sign overhead changes again; his smile blazes with straight white teeth, and his eyes are a dumbfounding, impossible shade of blue.
“Could be,” she answers with a smile of her own, wrapping her hand around the muscle of his forearm beneath the worn denim sleeve. But she doesn’t let him pivot her toward the row of clubs, and he doesn’t step back; she advances enough that her thigh is between his legs, just a whisper from brushing his crotch. The hem of her business-like pencil skirt presses against his knee. He settles a firm hand on her waist, turns up the beat of her thumping heart.
“Oh, you know what you want, don’t you, darlin’?” he says, low and husky, looking her in the eye across the narrow breath-filled gap between them. She’s sure he feels the startled shiver that runs down her spine, but his faint accent wraps oddly around Leonard’s favorite endearment, his vowels a little bit too tense.
“I do. I want to find out if you’re good enough with your tongue to take home to my husband.”
“Mmmm,” he hums, tongue taking a stroll across his lower lip. His eyes twinkle naughtily. “Double your pleasure, double my payday.”
She nods. “And what’s your pleasure?”
He closes the space between them, pulls her close against his leather and his hard-on; breathes a number in her ear, adds on a few caveats.
“Done,” she says, trying to sound brisk and not breathless. “Come back to my car.”
It’s almost too small a hesitation for her to recognize, and a twinge of sympathy cuts through her desire. His can’t be a safe life. But the wariness disappears under his bright smile and, after a quick scan of street, sidewalk, and alley, he escorts her across the empty pavement with his arm around her waist.
She drives them to a seldom-used service road on the back end of the university, half-lit by the overspill from the football field floodlights beyond the trees: not exactly Lovers’ Lane, but then they’re not exactly lovers. They’ve exchanged nothing but names and some self-mocking conversation about the weather by the time she puts the car in park.
Jimmy strips off his jacket, exposing muscled biceps and pale skin, leaves the denim draped across his thigh. His expression is heavy-lidded, seductive, but those blue eyes are actively watching hers, weighing Lord knows what. He reaches a hand to her face, strokes along her jaw, down her neck, hooks fingers in where her collar vees down to the button placket. She’s paralyzed with anticipation, lets the moment he gives her to object pass by — he yanks hard and her top button is gone, and his fingers are down on her belly behind the next one, and the back of her neck burns. Her exposed brassiere does not protect her from the cold or from the lips that descend hungrily on the upper curve of her breast.
Her hand wraps around the back of his head of its own volition, fingers sliding through the soft, short strands. She’s gone from apprehension to complete arousal almost instantly, wonders if he can smell the wet heat between her thighs. He breaks the next button off violently at the same time he bites and sucks at her nipple with a wet hiss, right through the lace. She gasps aloud; he isn’t giving her a chance to catch up to any one sensation. One hand slides around her ribcage, rough and hard on the bare skin under her blouse; slides up the space between the car seat and her arching back, finds and releases the clasp of her brassiere with unerring accuracy. She’s trying to wriggle the straps forward when the same hand drops to her thigh, hauls her around with breathtaking ease so that her back is against the driver’s-side door, her calves folded as neatly together on the seat between them as if she’s on a blanket at a Sunday school picnic.
Well, that will never do.
She shifts her weight to the leg against the seat-back; his blunt, rough-skinned fingers — so different from Leonard’s — push the narrow skirt up her thighs so she can spread her knees apart. She traces her thumb along his lower lip, and he gives her a sly smile, tucks fingertips over the center of the loose bra, slides it down off her breasts, down her arms until the straps catch on the open wings of the blouse held around her waist by two buttons, hem still tucked in the waistband of the rucked-up skirt that doesn’t conceal her wet panties at all.
Jimmy pulls back, admiring her bosom and her dishevelment, breathing as heavily as she is. He licks his lips, tugs his jacket off his lap and hers off the headrest behind her, and lets them fold into a haphazard pillow against the car door, nudges her backward until she’s propped on her elbow, head resting at the base of the window. She’s still mostly dressed, but she has to look ravished already, splayed out wantonly on the seat, bra dangling uselessly across her lower ribcage.
She’s like to be invisible from outside the car. But there might be late night wanderers on campus. Policemen. Professors. People she knows.
The illicit thrill rushes through her, setting off a full-body shiver. She moans, and Jimmy’s head drops down; his ungentle lips roam the swells and dips of her breasts and torso, teasing but not claiming her bare nipples. She shouldn’t be doing this — not here, not now, not with him. She’s been so impulsive that Leonard doesn’t even know, this time...
Jimmy’s fingers stroke up her inner thigh, and while her arms aren’t exactly pinned by her sleeves and straps, they might as well be; she momentarily forgets she has hands when his touch rises toward her panties, his mouth descending toward her navel. He gets the message from her heated groans, shifts himself on the seat — one knee tucked underneath him, the other on the floor — so he can bring his head lower. His exploring hand wiggles beneath her rear, provoking another gasp and an upward hitch of her hips; he grabs the delicate waistband of the panties and yanks them down her thighs, scraping his knuckles between her cheeks along the way.
“Sugar....” she rasps, and then there aren’t any more words. He leans over the panties that he’s still pushing down past her knees and beyond, and he dips his tongue in shallowly, down where her juices are pooling at the mouth of her vagina. She’s vaguely aware of her breathy sighs but she’s far too tangled up in sensation to care. He licks upward, pushing her labia apart with a strong, strong tongue, carrying her fragrant natural lubrication into crevices that might, on any ordinary night, be needing the moisture.
The boy doesn’t zero in too quickly on her clitoris, doesn’t treat it like some magic pleasure button; something her high school girlfriends had known instinctively, and had frustrated her to no end with her first boyfriends. Like Leonard, Jimmy doesn’t have to be taught or reminded her clit is more finicky than a penis; her tight cluster of nerves likes subtle approaches, slow wooing, variety and surprises. With delicate determination, he roots around her other tender wet bits (almost as sensitive, slower to rouse) until she’s begging for more.
He conducts one hell of a symphony, building slowly in intensity, with his fluid and flexible tongue; hard and soft touches augmented by lips, teeth and breath. She croons in counterpoint, on the edge of babbling, toes curled inside her shoes. His fingers play in the neighborhood while his mouth works, stroking inner and upper and outer thighs, pressing dents into her rear when she wiggles too much, feathering touches against the tapering labia beneath his chin and the entrance to her vagina, over her perineum and anus. He keeps teasing, doesn’t penetrate — she isn’t paying for that, is she? — but finally he spreads her knees wide: thighs akimbo under his elbows, labia unfolded and held open beneath his fingertips, clitoris exposed to his eyes and his breath and his sweet, sucking lips.
She’s surprised by her own hitching sob when her climax overwhelms her, caught off-guard by the sudden sweetness of it; her nails dig into Jimmy’s scalp. It’s not the most intense orgasm she’s ever had — Leonard is responsible for most of those — but it may be the quickest anyone else has ever driven her there, and the shudders running through her body are definitely up in the quarterfinals. She needs a minute to come back to herself, let go her cruel grip on the boy's head.
“Sorry,” she says, voice raw in the aftermath. “I didn’t hurt you too badly, did I?”
He pushes himself upright, eyes crinkling at the corners as the rest of his smile vanishes behind the handkerchief he’s produced out of nowhere. He swipes the cloth down off lips and chin, balls it in his fist, and tilts his head slightly, still smiling.
“Occupational hazard,” he says, rosy flush high in his cheeks. A thick eyebrow lifts. “Good enough?”
She laughs, disentangling her legs from around him and starting to re-arrange her shirt. “More than.”
She’s a little drowsy, satisfied, and very pleased with her catch. This time, she's not bringing home another lover for her sake, or for Leonard's — for the first time, she knows they are both going to get everything they want.
The boy’s feral, unselfconscious beauty is just what Leonard’s been looking for, among the bland and hopeful smiles on the dating service, and she has no doubt that Jimmy’s skill and confidence, and even that precisely performed edge of violence, will leave Leonard wondering what just hit him.