“These are the two candidates we agreed on.”
“Yes, but Chad?” Barba said.
Benson laughed at the disdain in his voice and expression. “I don’t think it’s a requirement for you to call either of them by their name,” she said.
He made a face. “How tacky would it be—”
“Look, if it’s that big a deal to you, we can go with her, instead,” Benson interrupted, pointing a finger at the laptop screen. She was sitting at the table with the computer open before her, and Barba was standing beside her chair, leaning with one fist on the wooden surface.
He looked at Benson. “Britney,” he intoned.
She laughed again, with more than a little exasperation. “Are you really going to let their names influence this decision?”
“They make me feel old.”
She patted his arm. “We don’t have to do this at all, you know,” she said. “Or we can start the process over—”
“No, no, you’re right. These are the two we picked.” He sighed. “Chad and Britney,” he muttered, and she could see the effort it took him to keep from rolling his eyes. “Alright. Pick one and we’ll get the process started.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Pick one?” she repeated. “Me?”
He straightened and looked down at her. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
“You must have a preference, Barba,” she said.
He laughed. “I really don’t,” he answered. “As long as we go in together.” He paused, regarding her. “And come out together,” he added.
“Raf—” she started, but she broke off as Noah came skipping into the kitchen.
“Hi, Uncle Rafa,” the boy said, heading toward the refrigerator.
“Hey, buddy, how’s it going?” Barba asked.
“Oh, good,” Noah answered. “Are you coming for dinner?”
“Not tonight,” Barba said, glancing at Benson.
She pushed the laptop almost closed so that the screen wasn’t visible. “What do you think you’re doing, mister?” she asked as Noah started rummaging through the bottom drawer of the fridge.
The boy straightened with two packages of string cheese in one fist and an apple in the other. “I’m starving,” he said, and Barba laughed. “Pleeeease?”
“Liv, how dare you starve this growing boy,” Barba said before she could answer. “Noah,” he said in a stage-whisper, putting his hand beside his mouth, “I’ll distract her while you get out of here.”
Noah giggled, looking at his mother expectantly.
“One string cheese,” she said.
When Noah turned back to the refrigerator, Benson turned her face and Barba bent down to place a quick kiss on her lips. “I’ll see you later,” he said, straightening as Noah closed the fridge. “Noah, I’ll see you tomorrow at your game, okay?”
“You can come?” Noah exclaimed, his face lighting.
“I will do my very best,” Barba promised, and that was enough for Noah.
“Hooray,” the boy said, hurrying from the room.
“Rafael,” Benson said as Barba started toward the door. He paused and looked back, watching her spread her hands. “We haven’t decided anything,” she told him. “Do you want to go through with this?”
“Yes.” He glanced at his watch, then toward the living room. Noah was out of sight, so Barba gambled on another quick kiss. It was only a matter of time before the boy let it slip how many nights Uncle Rafa came over for dinner these days; they didn’t need him mentioning kisses or the nights that Benson stayed out until just before dawn.
While Benson and Barba were no longer working directly together, they’d chosen to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. That meant a bit of discretion on their parts, but Barba knew that they both felt something of a thrill at the sense of illicitness that came from “sneaking around.”
“Liv, it really doesn’t matter which one,” he said quietly, giving her a pointed look. “If you have a preference, I’m perfectly fine with—”
“I don’t,” she said with an exasperated laugh. She pulled up her computer screen and looked at it, shaking her head. “Either way it’ll be a unique experience, and…” she trailed off, studying the pictures, letting her imagination roam for a few moments.
“Why not both, then?” Barba suggested. It took a few seconds for the words to sink in, and Benson looked up at him in surprise. He laughed. “Not at the same time,” he clarified. He saw the speculation in her expression and knew that she was going to say yes. He smiled. “I really have to go,” he said. “Neither, either, or both, I’m on whatever page you are, Liv.” He raised his brows and dipped his chin, offering a single nod. “I’ll see you later,” he repeated, touching her shoulder briefly—forcing himself to resist the third call of her lips—before striding toward the door.
“You seem nervous.”
“I’m not,” she said. When he cocked a skeptical eyebrow, she arched one in return, making him smile. “It’s more like...nervous excitement,” she said after a moment. Barba was sitting on the foot of the hotel bed, watching her pace. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and she had enough presence of mind to appreciate the sight of his arms filling out the short sleeves, and the way the jeans hugged his thighs. She hardly ever had a chance to see him dressed so casually. Even at Noah’s baseball games, he usually showed up in some partially-disassembled version of a suit, fresh from a long day of work.
“We’ve thought this through,” he reminded her. “We’ve talked about all the possibilities.” He watched her glance at her watch. They had five more minutes, at least in theory. “They’ve been vetted. You know, you checked the company thoroughly. They do everything by-the-book, blood tests and background checks. This is neutral ground. And you and I are here together.”
“I know,” she said, turning toward him. He spread his knees and took her hand, tugging her forward until she stepped between his thighs. “It’s just—what if someone finds out?”
“We’re not doing anything illegal—or wrong,” he answered.
“I know,” she repeated. “It would be embarrassing, though,” she said, and he smiled up at her.
“They don’t know our last names.”
“But they could see either one of us on TV.”
“They’ve signed nondisclosure agreements, and so did we. Liv, people do this all the time. It’s not like we’re inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner or to one of our homes. We’ve taken the necessary precautions.”
She sighed and he lifted her hand to his mouth, pressing a kiss into her palm. “You’re right,” she said.
“I’m always right,” he answered, smirking against her palm. When she bent to kiss him, he tipped his face up to meet her lips. “You can back out any time if you don’t want to do this,” he reminded her.
“I do,” she breathed against his lips, searching his eyes. “I do want to do this, with you. It’s more excitement than nervousness.” Her eyes dropped to watch his lips tilt up into a smile. “What about you? Are you into this?”
Holding her wrist in a loose grasp, he slowly lowered her hand into his lap. She pressed her palm, gently, against the curve of his crotch, where he’d already begun to harden inside his jeans. His breath caught and she returned her gaze to his.
“Guess so,” she smiled.
“We’ll go over our list of dos and don’ts and feel the situation out, and if anything feels off to either of us, we’ll call it off,” he said.
There was a knock on the door, and they stared at each other for a moment. “Punctuality is a virtue,” she said, smiling at his light snort. They both knew he was in a perpetual state of being almost late.
“Nice, efficient knock,” Barba said. “None of that ‘Two Bits’ nonsense or anything. Alright, let’s let Brock or Brent or whatever in.”
She laughed. “Chad, as you know,” she said, shoving at his chest.
He fell halfway to the bed and sat back up, grinning at her. “Fine, then, Chad. Want me to get the door?”
“Don’t want to scare him away with your eagerness,” she said, tapping a finger against his crotch.
He winced, then laughed. “That’s for you, not him,” he said as she started toward the door.
“Hmm, we’ll see if he knows that,” she said, tossing him a wink over her shoulder.
Barba leaned back and snatched up a pillow, dragging it onto his lap as he watched Benson checking the peephole. She unchained the door and pulled it open, and Barba could hear the smile in her voice as she greeted the man in the hallway.
“Chad, right?” she said, shaking the man’s hand. “I’m Olivia. Please, come on in.”
Barba gave the man a quick once-over as Benson relocked the door and followed him into the room. Chad was in his early thirties, six-foot-one with a slender but muscular frame and narrow hips. He was wearing low-slung khaki shorts and a white polo shirt. He had a swoop of blond hair that probably never looked bad no matter how windswept it got, and bright and alert blue eyes that found Barba’s gaze quickly.
“Rafael,” he said, walking toward Barba and extending a hand. Barba shook it without standing; he wasn’t generally prone to physical insecurities, but he knew he would feel short and frumpy—and old—standing beside Chad. And he was suddenly even more aware of his semi-erection, and cursing himself wasn’t lessening the problem. “I’m Chad.”
Barba cleared his throat. “Nice to meet you,” he said, feeling like an idiot. He looked at Benson and saw sympathy and concern in her brown eyes—of course she could read his discomfort, she could always read him like the cover of a book—and he gave her a quick smile. He wasn’t backing out of this; he still wanted it, in spite of Chad’s annoyingly-good looks.
In spite of? his mind mocked, but he pushed those thoughts away. They would serve no purpose here and now and he wasn’t about to let old doubts plague him. The only opinion he cared about was Benson’s.
Chad glanced at the pillow Barba was holding in his lap. “I hope you didn’t start without me,” he said, offering Barba a smile and a quick wink. Barba felt heat creeping into his cheeks and cursed himself again.
“I’m a busy man, Chad,” he answered. “I always try to plan ahead and be prepared.”
Chad laughed—a genuine laugh that made his cheeks dimple and his eyes sparkle, and for just a moment Barba wasn’t sure if he liked him or hated him. “I think you’ll find I like to take my time,” Chad told him. “I hope you’ve cleared your calendar for the evening.”
“So, you may have guessed, we’ve never done this before,” Benson said, drawing Chad’s attention from Barba. She didn’t seem nervous at all, now, so she must’ve decided she liked Chad. Barba did his very best not to let that thought bother him.
“No worries, Olivia,” Chad answered with a smile. “We’ll work this out. I assume you have the listed items? Condoms, lubrication?”
“Yes,” she said, pointing toward the table. “We just need to establish our...parameters.” She shot Barba a dirty look when he snorted, but she had a smile playing on her lips.
She’s into this, Barba thought. He looked from her to Chad and back again, and shifted carefully to relieve some of the pressure on his crotch. He was into it, too, in spite of his discomfort.
“Absolutely,” Chad agreed cheerfully. “You said you’re not interested in DP, right?”
Benson’s lips parted in surprise, and Barba saw her eyes widen. “No, I—” She paused and cleared her throat, glancing toward Barba. “I don’t do anal,” she said, and now she was blushing.
“No worries,” Chad repeated.
“But I do,” Barba said, drawing the younger man’s piercing blue gaze.
Chad smiled at him. “Excellent,” he said in a low voice, and Barba felt himself harden. “I promise it’ll be well worth your time.”
Benson and Barba were sitting on the edge of the bed, side by side, and Chad was standing near the small table where he’d laid out the box of condoms, bottle of lubrication, and an iPod.
They’d gone over everything, and Benson found that she was actually less embarrassed after having discussed all of their dos and don’ts openly, even though it had been painfully awkward at the start. She liked Chad, and she could tell that Barba—although intimidated for reasons she couldn’t quite fathom—liked him, too.
We’re really doing this, she thought with a thrill of excitement, looking at Barba.
“Maybe you two would be more comfortable getting started with each other?” Chad suggested, glancing between them.
Benson looked down at Chad’s shorts and, in spite of the heat in her cheeks, said, “Do you want me to…” It usually took her a while in a relationship before she was willing to perform oral; it required a high level of trust for her, which she didn’t give easily. She’d already told him that she was willing, though, and she’d meant it. She would step outside her comfort zone so they could all get the most out of this experience.
“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be good to go in a few,” Chad assured her with a smile. He grabbed the bottom of his shirt and stripped the garment up over his head, tossing it onto the back of a chair.
Benson looked at Barba and he offered her a crooked smile, reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ear. She leaned forward and kissed him, and his fingers curled around the back of her head.
Chad had already shucked his shorts and boxers, and Benson marveled at his lack of self-consciousness. She knew he’d stripped out of his clothes to put them at ease, so they didn’t feel at a disadvantage, but she also knew that Barba was feeling unaccountably shy. She’d never seen him quite so insecure.
She knew he was self-conscious because he’d put on a little bit of weight over the last couple of years, and each inch of Chad was trim and chiseled. Barba knew that she loved every part of his body, though—she just had to remind him of that fact.
She took his hand and stood, tugging him to his feet. He held her gaze, and lifted his arms when she pulled his t-shirt up. She pressed a kiss to his lips, running her hands over his chest, around his ribcage and down his sides to his hips. She reached for the button of his jeans, popping it open and carefully lowering the zipper over the curve of his crotch.
He was already barefoot, so when she pushed his jeans down his legs, he stepped out one leg at a time and stood before her in just his underwear. She put her hands on his chest and pushed him gently back onto the bed. He sat and cocked an eyebrow at her, and she was glad to see the familiar smirk tilting his lips.
She wasn’t going to give in to self-consciousness, now; she knew that Barba loved her body as much as she loved his, and his was the only opinion that mattered. Besides which, Chad was standing buck naked and half-hard, starting music on the iPod, so embarrassment seemed a bit ridiculous.
She stripped off her shirt and bra, tossing them aside with Barba’s clothes, and then shucked her slacks and panties. Barba watched every movement, his pupils dilated and his nostrils flared, and she knew his hands were itching to reach for her.
She stepped between his knees and pushed at his shoulders, forcing him onto his back. She crawled over him, flattening her breasts against his chest as she claimed his mouth. His tongue met hers eagerly, and his hands were hot on her waist. She could feel the erection straining against the silk of his underwear.
She broke away from his mouth and turned her head to kiss his shoulder, and his chest, shifting to flick her tongue over his nipple. She felt his intake of breath as his hands tightened on her hips, and she smiled, running her tongue in circles around his nipple; she’d found him to be more sensitive, and more fond of nipple play, than most of the men she’d been with. It had been a source of great pleasure for her, discovering all the ways she was able to make him squirm.
She moved away from his glistening nipple reluctantly, trailing kisses down his chest and over the slight swell of his belly, flicking her tongue around his navel and smiling at the way his stomach muscles tightened. She shifted further, spreading her hands at his sides, and brushed her lips over the bulge of his erection.
His legs were still bent over the edge of the bed, and she pushed his thighs further apart, dropping into a partial crouch in spite of the protest from her knees. She pulled him—underwear and all—into her mouth, and his hands slipped into her hair. She sucked gently, feeling him hardening, growing.
He shifted his hips restlessly, making a small, involuntary noise in his throat. Then: “God, Liv,” he breathed.
She lifted her head. “Okay?” she asked, and he knew what she meant. He nodded, watching her face as she hooked her fingers into the waistband of his underwear. He levered his hips up so she could pull them past his thighs, and down his calves.
She wrapped her hand loosely around his erection and ducked her head, sucking him into her mouth. From the corner of her eye, she saw Chad move up to the side of the bed. He was stroking himself lazily with one hand while he propped the pillows up against the headboard.
“Liv,” Barba said, and she felt his fingers at her arm. She looked up and, a moment later, shifted up and forward to meet his lips. There was a hint of desperation in his kiss, and after a few seconds he flipped her over onto her back, covering her body with his.
He kissed along her jaw and she tipped her chin so he could suck gently at the sensitive skin beneath. His hand was hot against her cool skin as he cupped her breast, and her nipple was hard against his palm.
He slipped his other hand between her legs, fingering at her wetness; she was ready for him already, but they both knew things were not going to move so quickly. He slid a finger inside her and closed his mouth around her breast at the same time, and she sucked in a breath, arching against him.
Chad walked slowly around to the other side of their legs. “May I?” he asked, with his hand hovering over Barba’s hip.
Barba looked at him without taking his mouth from her nipple, and said, “Mmhm.”
Chad smiled; he was still giving himself slow strokes, but he ran his other hand over Barba’s back, over the curve of his ass, to his thigh. He slapped lightly at the inside of Barba’s thigh; this was within the boundaries they’d set, but Barba’s mouth tightened reflexively around her breast, and his finger momentarily stilled inside of her.
And then Chad took hold of Barba’s leg with both hands and lifted, rolling Barba onto his hip, clearly surprising him. In a matter of seconds, Barba’s leg was hooked over Chad’s shoulder and Chad was in a crouch, bending toward his exposed crotch.
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” Chad murmured.
Barba hadn’t stopped, in spite of his surprise and embarrassment, and he didn’t stop when Chad swallowed most of his length.
Chad seemed to be more interested in Barba than Benson, and she really didn’t mind. She still wasn’t sure how she felt about having a stranger’s hands and mouth on her body, but she did enjoy how flustered and aroused Barba was by Chad’s attention.
And she was, as always, thrilled to have Barba’s hands and mouth on her body, as they were now. No one had ever understood her body—or the rest of her—the way he did, and having him here with her mitigated her self-consciousness and discomfort about being so vulnerable in front of Chad.
Chad currently had his face buried in Barba’s ass, though, so she supposed her self-consciousness was still a bit ridiculous.
She was lying back, propped up against the pillows, and Barba’s head was between her legs. He had one hand on her hip and the other splayed over her ribcage while he sucked her ever closer to climax. She had her hands fisted in his hair.
Barba was on his stomach with his legs spread, giving Chad full access, and while she couldn’t see exactly what was happening, it certainly seemed that Chad was taking full advantage. She could hear him sucking and licking, and Barba gasped, turning his face for a moment. She shifted her legs restlessly; she was close, and her body was thrumming with built-up pressure, but the warm and heavy weight of Barba’s hands on her body, and the way his fingers curled involuntarily into her skin, were more important. She wanted his pleasure more than anything else.
Barba let out a breath and glanced up at her. He moved his hands to her thighs and quickly ducked his head, resuming his ministrations, and it was her turn to gasp as he flicked his tongue over her clit. Her eyes closed and her fingers tangled in his hair; his mouth felt almost frantic, and she knew he was trying to get her over the edge before Chad robbed him of all motor skills. The thought made her smile in spite of her body’s tension.
She opened her eyes, struggling to focus, and saw Chad putting lubrication on his fingers and Barba’s opening. When he slipped first one, and then a second, finger inside, she felt Barba’s mouth tighten around her. His hands were gripping her thighs tightly enough to leave bruises at his fingertips, and she didn’t care.
When Chad crooked his fingers downward, Barba’s hips bucked into the mattress and he pulled his mouth from her clit with an involuntary sound, burying his face against the inside of her thigh for several seconds. She massaged his scalp, watching as Chad withdrew his fingers and knelt between Barba’s legs, rolling on a condom.
Chad looked up and met her eyes, flashing a smile that she couldn’t help but return. While Chad applied a generous helping of lube to his newly-sheathed erection, Barba once more went to work between her legs, now slipping two fingers inside her beneath his chin.
Chad bent forward, bracing himself on one hand while using the other to position himself. “We good?” he asked.
Barba hummed an assent, but Chad hesitated, looking to Benson for permission. Even though her body cursed her for stopping him, she tugged Barba’s hair, pulling his head up and forcing him to look at her. He blinked the cloud of desire from his eyes, focusing on her face. His lips were glistening and parted. His fingers were still buried inside her, and her body was straining toward his hand.
“Yes,” he said. He was answering Chad’s question, but he was talking to Benson. She cupped her hands to his cheeks for a moment, running her thumbs over his eyebrows, struck by how much she loved him.
Then Chad was slowly pressing into him, and Barba’s eyes closed. She felt his body tense, and he held onto her leg, drawing a breath through his nose. Chad was taking great care to make sure Barba’s body had time to adapt—moving slowly, entering him a little at a time, keeping him spread open with well-lubricated fingers—but Benson knew that Barba wasn’t averse to discomfort or minor pain; he was tense because of the inherent vulnerability of his position, and the fact that he’d given control to a man who had only his limited and tentative trust.
She rubbed her thumbs at his temples and felt him press a kiss against her thigh, and then his mouth was once more at her center and her fingers were curling into his hair. He made a sound as Chad finally sank into him, but his tongue and fingers didn’t falter.
Chad flattened himself against Barba’s back, with his legs between Barba’s. He kissed Barba’s upper back and shoulders, keeping his hips still while Barba’s body adjusted to the feeling of Chad’s full length buried inside it.
Barba moved first, or tried to: slipping his free hand, the one not diligently at work inside her, to the bed beside her hip, he flexed his arm, pushing himself backward and up as much as he could; with Chad’s weight pressing him into the bed, that wasn’t much.
Chad made a sound of approval and levered himself up on one arm. With the other, he grabbed Barba’s hip and pulled him up a little, shifting so he was straddling one of Barba’s thighs, and then he was flexing his own hips. He set a slow pace at first and quickly increased his tempo.
Barba grunted with each deep thrust, but his mouth and fingers were working overtime, driving her inexorably toward release. Now that Chad had Barba’s hips levered up a bit, she wondered if he was getting enough friction against the sheet; she wanted to make him roll over, or at least slide her hands beneath him, but that thought—all rational thought—was quickly driven from her mind as Barba sucked roughly at her clit, flexing his fingers inside her, and she found herself hurtling over the edge as her hips bucked against his face.
Barba continued to work his tongue mercilessly over her swollen center, and she choked back the cry of his name, holding it in her throat. She couldn’t hold back her moan as he worked her through her orgasm, though. Her eyes were closed, but she could feel every thrust of Chad’s body into Barba’s, driving the lawyer against her.
Finally, as her body shuddered beneath him, Barba’s mouth released her and he drew a ragged breath, withdrawing his hand from between her legs. She sank back against the pillows; her muscles felt shaky and weak.
Chad continued to thrust into Barba, and tugged at his hips, raising his ass a little higher in the air. Barba dropped his cheek against her thigh, holding onto her waist to steady himself. His hair tickled her leg, and she brushed his sweaty locks from his forehead.
She ran her hands over his shoulders and back, as far as she could reach. She watched Chad snake an arm around Barba’s waist and knew that he’d wrapped his hand around Barba’s cock by the change in Barba’s breathing.
She wanted to help pleasure him or, at the very least, see the effects. Before she could voice the thought, Chad seemed to read her mind.
He glanced up at her face and said to Barba, “Don’t come yet.”
“I’m not,” Barba mumbled against her leg.
“I think Olivia wants to watch,” Chad added, his dimples flashing as he smiled at her. His movements slowed, and he carefully withdrew from Barba’s body, settling back onto his knees. He slapped the lawyer’s backside again, a little harder than the first time, and said, “Roll over for me, Rafael.”
Barba pushed himself up and flopped onto his back beside Benson’s legs. He looked down the length of his body toward Chad, who was now standing at the foot of the bed and applying fresh lubrication to himself.
Barba tipped his head to look up at Benson, and she shifted downward so she could kiss him, laying her palm against his flushed cheek. He reached up, holding the back of her head, but he let his hand fall away when Chad took hold of his calves.
Chad pulled Barba’s legs, sliding him down the bed until his ass was at the edge, and hooked the lawyer’s legs over his shoulders. He reached down, spreading Barba open with one hand and making sure he was well-lubricated. Then he got himself into position and pressed forward, entering Barba slowly and completely before stopping.
He looked at Barba’s face.
Barba stared up at him, and their gazes locked. Benson saw something unspoken pass between them. She saw Barba’s chin tip up a bit, and he adjusted his shoulders against the bed. His hands were flat on the sheet at his sides.
“Ready?” Chad asked. His voice was silky and low.
“Yes,” Barba said.
Chad drew back and thrust forward once, hard, rocking Barba’s body against the bedding. He stopped, fully buried, and raised his eyebrows.
Barba, holding the other man’s stare, cocked an eyebrow in response, and the smirk on his lips was one that Benson knew well. It wasn’t the same smile he used on her, not even when he was annoyed; she’d come to learn his every nuanced expression over the years, and to realize that some were reserved solely for her.
The smile currently slanting his lips was the one he used when he knew he had the upper hand in a situation in which he should be at a disadvantage. And she realized that there was some understanding between the two men, something that hadn’t been voiced and something of which she wasn’t a part.
Barba’s physical position was one of vulnerability, but she trusted him.
Chad pushed his shoulders against Barba’s legs and pumped his hips again. Barba’s eyes closed, and Benson saw his swollen erection twitch against his stomach.
A moment later, Chad was slamming into him, moving hard and fast, pounding relentlessly; fucking him. She wasn’t a fan of the word but there could be no other description.
“Oh god—Jesus,” Barba gasped. His head was tipped back into the mattress, his eyes closed, his hands now fisted in the sheet at his hips. Benson knew by the trail of precum glistening on Barba’s stomach, as much as by his labored breathing, that he was moments away from orgasm and holding himself back by a sheer force of willpower.
Chad knew exactly what he was doing with Barba’s prostate, and Benson tried to make a mental note of his angle and speed for future reference.
“Liv,” Barba said, reaching blindly for her. She grabbed his hand and his eyes opened, finding hers; his pupils had nearly swallowed the green. He pulled at her fingers. “You,” he said, apparently all he could manage.
She glanced at Chad and he nodded, seeming to understand, but he didn’t let up on his pace. He had Barba’s legs hoisted over his shoulders, and Barba’s ass angled up, leaving her little room. She didn’t pause to worry about the logistics—she turned her hips and swung a leg over Barba’s stomach.
Chad slowed a little, to let her get into position, but she struggled for a moment. She braced a hand beside Barba’s head, trying to hold herself up while she fumbled between them for his erection, but his body was slick and slanted and she couldn’t seem to get herself where she needed to be. Barba held her shoulders, trying to help even as his body trembled with its need for release.
Chad grabbed her hips and pulled her back onto Barba’s cock, and she gasped in surprise, immediately tightening in reflex.
“Oh fuck,” Barba groaned. Giving up on holding her up, he threw his shaky arms around her, pulling her flat against his chest and burying his face in her hair as he came inside her. He couldn’t move his hips, but each of Chad’s hard thrusts drove Barba forward into her, and her second orgasm caught her by surprise, swelling up and crashing over her in a matter of seconds, fueled by Barba’s ragged breaths and jagged groans in her ear.
After a few more thrusts, Chad stilled as he came inside of Barba—inside the condom—and his hands fell away from her hips. He withdrew slowly and helped Barba lower his legs until they were hanging over the edge of the bed, bare feet on the carpet, but Barba didn’t immediately move. He held Benson clutched against his heaving chest, and she rode the rise and fall of his breaths.
“Liv,” he said at her ear.
“You’re gonna need some ibuprofen,” she murmured, and he laughed, tightening his grip on her.
“Do you think he’s offended we didn’t ask him to stay the night?”
Barba chuckled, pulling her back into the curve of his body. His legs were tucked behind hers, his chest and stomach flattened against her back, his arm wrapped around her with his hand splayed over her stomach. He pressed a kiss to her shoulder.
“He seemed satisfied when he left,” he murmured with a smile. “But maybe we should invite him to Thanksgiving, after all.”
She laughed, snuggling backward into his warmth. “What about you, Barba? Were you satisfied?” she asked.
He didn’t answer, and after a few seconds she could feel the building weight of his silence. She turned her head, looking over her shoulder.
“Liv, I…” He paused. She rolled partway in his embrace so she could better see his face. He searched her eyes, gathering his words. “Thank you for loving me,” he finally said. All of me, he thought, and she could read in his face everything that was left unspoken.
She leaned back and met his lips for a kiss. “Raf,” she said quietly, “loving you is the easiest thing I’ve ever done.” His lips curved into a smile, and she kissed him again before turning back onto her side and relaxing into his embrace. “Rest up, Barba,” she added, yawning. “I learned some tricks from Chad that I want to try later.”
“I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you, too,” she said, closing her eyes. “I don’t know how Britney can possibly compete with Chad,” she murmured sleepily.
“No one can compete with you,” he answered, and she smiled as she drifted off to sleep in his enveloping warmth.
Between late night calls and early morning court appearances, they’d barely seen each other all week and they’d had no nights spent together. Benson got to the hotel room a full fifteen minutes before Barba, and she paced nervously for most of that time while she waited for him to arrive.
When she opened the door to find him still in his suit, looking tired and stressed, she pulled him into the room by his tie and kissed him; she couldn’t help it.
“I missed you,” she said against his lips as the door closed behind him.
She felt some of the tension leave his shoulders, and he cupped his hands to her face, turning her so her back was against the wall. He kissed her slowly, methodically, making up for a week of lost moments.
Finally, he drew a breath and took half a step backward, reaching up to loosen his tie enough to slip it over his head. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. He searched her face as he stuffed his tie into his pocket and unbuttoned the top of his shirt. “Are you okay?” he asked.
She laughed. “Fine, now that you’re here,” she said. “I was just…” She gestured vaguely toward the room. “Pacing, feeling like an idiot, thinking about how I’m too old to be doing things like this.”
He tugged his shirt from his trousers and then leaned forward, flattening his palms against the wall to either side of her head. “And now?” he asked softly.
“Now you’re here and everything’s better,” she said.
He smiled, but his eyes were serious as he regarded her. “We haven’t had much time to talk this week,” he said. “Do you still want to do this?”
She smiled. “Yes,” she said, and it was true. Now that he was here with her, her insecurity and doubt were sliding away and she was left with the familiar thrill of excitement. He straightened, glanced at his watch, and slipped out of his jacket, tossing it onto the TV stand. “Do you?” she asked.
He leaned his hands against the wall again and kissed her, tucking his thigh between her legs. “I’ve barely thought of anything else all day,” he murmured. He grinned. “Should we get started, you think? Would that be rude?”
She laughed and took hold of his hips, pulling him closer. “Maybe we could just—” She stopped at the sound of a knock on the door.
“We’re two for two on punctuality,” Barba said, raising his eyebrows at her. “I think that means we’re good judges of character.”
“I should hope so, by now,” she laughed, pushing him back a step. “And this from the guy who wanted to judge on their first names.”
“Luckily I have you to keep me on the right path,” he said with a smirk, kicking off his shoes. “I’ll get it,” he added, heading toward the door in his socks. He checked the peephole; Britney looked just like her photo, and Barba pulled the door open.
“Hi,” she said, smiling. “Rafael?”
“Yes,” he answered, stepping aside and holding the door. “Please, come in. This is Olivia,” he said, closing the door behind Britney.
He watched her walk over to shake Benson’s hand, saw Benson give her an appreciative once-over. Britney was a couple of inches shorter than Benson—and Barba. She was slender, fit, attractive; of course they both found her attractive, or they wouldn’t have chosen her.
She must’ve liked what she’d seen of them, as well, or she wouldn’t have agreed to meet. Now she was looking Benson over with a hungry glint in her eyes, and he could certainly understand that.
“God, you’re so hot,” Britney said, and he saw Benson’s eyes widen in surprise, saw her cheeks darken even as she smiled. A moment later they were kissing—well, Britney was kissing Benson, anyway.
Huh, Barba thought, with a mixture of amusement and arousal, I guess Britney doesn’t waste any time.
Benson was kissing her in return, now, and pushed Britney against the wall. Britney’s hands were all over the place, from Benson’s ass to her hips to her breasts, moving so quickly that Barba could barely keep track of them. Benson had the younger woman pinned against the wall and was going to town on her mouth, and Barba knew he should be doing something—something other than standing in the middle of the room, watching like a creep and growing hard in his trousers—but he couldn’t seem to tear his eyes away.
After nearly a minute of watching them make out against the wall, Barba cleared his throat, unsure what else to do.
Benson seemed to recover some of her senses, and she drew back with a dazed look on her face, casting him a quick look that almost made him laugh. “We…” She shook her head to clear it and took another step back. “We need to go over…things, before we get carried away,” she said, and Barba did laugh at the momentary look of disappointment on Britney’s face.
I feel the same way whenever she stops kissing me, he thought.
“You guys are so much cuter than the last couple I met,” Britney said, looking down the length of Barba’s body. He resisted the urge to put his hands in front of himself; his slacks were dark, though probably not enough to hide his arousal if the look on her face was any indication. “There’s not really anything I don’t do,” she said, dragging her eyes up to his. “And I’m very flexible. I teach yoga.”
Barba stared at her, feeling a bit helpless. When the hell did I get so old? he thought. Here I am intimidated by a thirty-year-old yoga instructor, for God’s sake.
“Well,” Benson said, smiling when Britney’s eyes returned to hers, “let’s just go over everything to make sure, alright?”
Britney grinned. “Whatever you say, Olivia,” she said, and Barba barely managed to suppress an embarrassing groan.
Britney stripped out of her clothes quickly and eagerly and with no self-consciousness. Benson stopped in the process of unbuttoning her own trousers, watching as the younger woman moved toward Barba.
I looked like that, Benson thought. Twenty years ago. Now, nothing was quite where it used to be. Barba didn’t mind, of course, any more than she minded the few pounds he’d added to his frame over the years, but he’d also never seen her body before age and gravity took their tolls.
Benson did her best to shove her inconvenient insecurities aside. Watching Britney run a hand down the front of Barba’s shirt, Benson felt a pull of desire between her legs, and she finished unfastening her pants, quickly shedding them.
Britney unbuttoned the top of Barba’s shirt and pulled it, and his undershirt, up over his head. Then, with her hands on his bare shoulders, she leaned up and kissed him, slanting her open mouth over his. His lips parted, giving her tongue access to his mouth, but he seemed startled. His hands settled tentatively at her naked waist.
Without giving him much time to respond to her kiss, Britney pulled her lips from his and sank smoothly to her knees in front of him, reaching for his fly. His hands hovered near her head and he stared downward, watching as she tugged his pants and underwear over his hips and down his thighs, exposing his arousal to the room.
She bent her head forward, quickly swallowing him, and Barba made a surprised, choked sound. He took a staggering step forward and grabbed her shoulders to steady himself. She braced a hand on his thigh, cupping his balls with her other palm as she sucked wetly at his length.
She doesn’t waste any time, Benson thought. Seeing Barba’s eyes close, and his stomach tighten, gave Benson a fresh flush of desire. She realized she was staring, doing nothing, and she hurriedly stripped out of the rest of her clothes, moving forward.
Barba sense her approach and lifted a hand, reaching for her. His eyes opened and found hers as his arm went around her shoulders, pulling her in for a frantic kiss. She ran a hand over his chest, rubbing her middle finger in circles over his nipple, and he made an involuntary sound; his other hand found her breast, kneading gently with hot fingers while Britney swirled her tongue around the head of his cock.
Britney slid a hand up the inside of Benson’s thigh, fingering at her slick warmth, and Benson shifted her legs apart automatically. Barba’s tongue continued to claim her mouth, and his arm tightened, supporting her as Britney slipped a finger inside her.
Britney pulled her mouth from Barba’s shiny erection, pumping it with her fist instead as she turned her face toward Benson. Benson leaned against Barba as Britney somehow managed to get her mouth around her clit, but she had to break away from his kiss; the room was spinning, and her legs had already grown shaky.
Barba bent his head and pulled her nipple into his mouth.
“Raf,” she gasped, her hand fisting in his hair.
Britney suddenly drew back and rose to her feet, and Barba lifted his head in surprise. Britney quickly covered his mouth with hers, again.
He let her kiss him for a few seconds, and then he turned his face away, drawing a breath. They hadn’t taken kissing off the table, agreeing to play it by ear, but Barba had no interest in kissing Britney. She tasted like cherries, her lips didn’t fit his, and she wasn’t Olivia.
Britney didn’t seem deterred. She leaned into him.
“Do you want to fuck my ass?” she whispered near his ear.
“I, uh…” He swallowed with a click, glancing at Benson; her brown eyes were nearly black with desire, and his groin tightened in response. Britney was stroking his length, and he forced his eyes back to hers. “Do you want me...to…” He couldn’t seem to think clearly, let alone come up with an answer to her question. Jesus, Barba, he thought, what the hell is wrong with you?
“I want you to fuck my ass while I make Olivia come,” Britney answered.
“O-okay,” he managed, watching as she turned to kiss Benson.
Britney steered her back toward the bed, and Benson let the younger woman push her down onto the mattress. Britney knelt on the bed, bent forward, and buried her face between Benson’s legs. She was on her knees with her ass in the air and she reached a hand between her own legs, fingering at herself and opening herself as Barba watched.
“Please, Rafael,” she said.
Christ, he thought, swallowing again. He kicked out of his shoes and pants and forced his feet to carry him across the room. He grabbed a condom, quickly tearing it open. He rolled it on with fumbling fingers and applied a squirt of lubrication, watching as Britney continued to suck at Benson’s swollen clit.
He moved up behind Britney and she reached back, grabbing at his hip. He ran his lubricated fingers along her folds, and she pushed herself against his hand, moaning into the juncture of Benson’s legs.
“Do you want—” he started.
“In my ass,” Britney said. “Please, Rafael.”
Benson was looking up at him, and he met her eyes. Britney had her close to climax already; without even touching her, Barba could feel the tension thrumming through Benson’s muscles.
He pressed himself against Britney’s tight opening, moving slowly, carefully, his teeth clenched against the strain. He’d barely begun to enter her when she pushed herself backward, quickly taking half of his length. He grunted in surprise and grabbed her hips to steady them both. She was so tight around his cock that it was almost painful, and he closed his eyes, drawing a breath through his nose. His body was screaming at him to move, but he wanted to give them both time to adjust.
Britney rocked her hips forward and back in his grasp, taking the decision away from him. He groaned, and shifted his feet. His hips started moving of their own volition, meeting each of her backward thrusts.
“Yes, Rafael,” Britney said. Then: “Come on, Olivia.” She had two fingers buried inside of the older woman and was flicking at her clit with her tongue. “Please come on my mouth.”
Barba and Benson stared at each other; she wasn’t a fan of dirty talk, he knew. Britney had pushed both of them out of their comfort zones. Reaching down, he settled his hand onto Benson’s leg, needing the contact. She covered his fingers with hers and closed her eyes, tipping her head back.
Barba held Britney’s hip with his other hand as she continued to pump herself against him. He closed his eyes again, too, focusing on controlling his body.
“Come for me, Olivia, come,” Britney was saying, the words barely distinguishable as she worked at Benson with her mouth.
He felt Benson’s fingers clutch at his, felt her leg tense as she arched against Britney’s face, and he opened his eyes as she sank back into the mattress and Britney lifted her head.
Britney suddenly shifted forward, pulling herself free from his body, and he pressed his knee against the edge of the bed to keep himself from falling over. She turned and kissed him; mingled with the taste of cherries, he could taste Olivia on her lips.
He let Britney push him down onto the bed. He felt dazed and slow. His body was screaming for release, and he couldn’t hold back his moan when she crawled up and sank onto his erection.
Britney had her hands on Barba’s shoulders, and she was riding him hard; he was meeting her thrusts but she was doing most of the work. He reached up for Benson, pulling her down for a breathless kiss, but he had to turn his face away quickly. Benson knew he was close.
Britney moved even faster, saying, “Come for me, Rafael.”
Benson saw his eyes close, saw his expression contort in strain. He reached for her again, his fingers grazing her skin, but his hands abruptly changed course. He grabbed Britney’s hips, stilling her.
“Yes, baby, come for me,” she said.
His stomach tensed and rippled and he shifted beneath her, thrusting once. A moment later, gripping her hips, he levered her up and off his cock, surprising her. He pulled her forward so she was sitting on his chest, and he bent his head forward to suck a nipple into his mouth. She arched her back, grabbing his hair, and Barba curved his right arm over her thigh, quickly slipping his hand between her legs and finding her most sensitive spot with the pad of his thumb.
“Oh god, yes,” Britney cried. She reached for Benson with one hand, leaving the other tangled in Barba’s sweaty hair. Benson met her lips eagerly; she could feel Britney’s body shuddering at Barba’s skilled touch, and Benson kissed her through her orgasm as Britney’s hips rocked against Barba’s hand.
When he finally withdrew his hand and pulled his mouth from her breast, Britney collapsed across his shoulder. He looked up and caught Benson’s eyes for a moment, and then Britney was shifting, flopping onto her back beside him and once more reaching for Benson.
Barba rolled away from them, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to sit for a few seconds with his back to the two women.
“You okay, Rafael?” Britney asked.
He touched the tip of his tongue to his lower lip for a moment. “Yep,” he answered, with as much conviction as he could muster. “You two have some fun without me for a few, I’m gonna go get cleaned up.” He pushed to his feet and started toward the bathroom.
“You want some help?” Britney asked.
Barba managed a laugh. “I’ve got it, thanks,” he said. He slipped into the bathroom and closed the door.
“Can I come in?”
“I’m coming in.” She waited, though, giving him time to say no.
After a few seconds he said, quietly, his voice almost lost beneath the sound of the shower: “Okay.” She heard him turn off the water as she opened the door.
She could feel the chill in the air as soon as she stepped into the bathroom. There was no steam, no heat. Barba’s hair was damp, and beads of water glistened in the curls on his chest. He was standing in the middle of the room, wrapping a white towel around his waist.
She was dressed in her t-shirt and underwear. He glanced past her.
“She’s gone,” she said.
He grimaced and ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry,” he said.
“Oh, it’s fine. She said she had to go. She’s apparently running a marathon in the morning.”
He snorted softly, his lips curving, but his gaze was somber as he regarded her.
“Tell me what’s wrong,” she said. “If you regret this, talk to me, we can—”
“No. Jesus,” he said, shaking his head. “Of course I don’t. I’m sorry, I just…” He licked his lips, looking away.
“You might’ve fooled her, but I know you didn’t finish,” she said. He closed his eyes and let out a breath. “If you’re upset with me, we need to—”
“Olivia,” he said, opening his eyes. He crossed to her in two steps and put his hands on her arms. “I’m sorry.”
He shook his head. “I didn’t want to ruin...I just couldn’t do it. Fuck, I didn’t mean to ruin this for you.”
“For me? Rafael, this was supposed to be for us.”
“It was,” he assured her, his expression earnest. “It was, it is. I thought—I didn’t—I just, when it came down to it, I couldn’t do it, Liv.”
“I don’t…” She paused, considering the possibilities. “You came for Chad,” she said, finally. She saw his wince, and she put her palm against his chest. “Rafa, honey, I love you. I’m just trying to understand what—”
“I didn’t come for him,” he said in a low voice, and his eyes begged her to understand. “I came for you. Inside you, Liv. I thought I could do this but she said ‘come for me’ and I…” He shook his head again.
“Oh,” she said.
He blinked. “Oh?” he repeated.
“I didn’t come, either,” she said quietly.
He stared at her. “I...thought you…”
“I faked it,” she said. “To get her face out of my crotch.”
He didn’t laugh. “I would hope I’d be able to tell the difference,” he said, and she realized he was upset—not with her, but himself.
He dropped his arms to his sides.
“I don’t know how you’d recognize something you’ve never seen,” she said, and his lips did quirk a bit at that. “Barba. You weren’t looking at my face or you would’ve known. I just had to get her out of there. Her tongue was so aggressive.”
He finally laughed, a surprised but amused chuff. “She’s definitely a...go-getter,” he said. Benson laughed and leaned forward, pressing her forehead against his chest for a moment. He wrapped his arms around her, loosely. “A little hyper for me,” he added quietly.
“Oh, you like me because I’m older and slower?” she joked, lifting her head to look at his face.
He searched her eyes. “I’ve never known you to have less than the ideal amount of energy,” he said.
She kissed him, then leaned her forehead against his. “Poor Britney,” she murmured. “At least we both came with Chad.”
“Must’ve been the music,” he said.
Benson laughed. “He did put a lot more effort into setting the mood.”
“Liv, Britney and Chad are both attractive, and a few years ago I would’ve gladly taken either—or both—of them home. But I don’t want either of them, or anyone that isn’t you. We can do this again if you want—I don’t think there’s any doubt we both enjoyed ourselves, at least most of the time. But I’ll only ever finish with you.”
She kissed him again, curving her palms along his jaw. He could still taste cherries, but he didn’t mind the flavor on her lips. She pushed him backward, stepping further into the room so she could shut the door behind herself.
Turning away from him, she flipped the shower knobs, cranking up the hot water. She straightened and stripped her shirt over her head, tossing it onto the counter. She slid her panties over her hips, stepping out of them quickly.
The painful bite of his cold shower had lessened his arousal, but all it took was a single glance down Benson’s body to make him harden against the rough terrycloth of the towel.
She pulled the towel from his waist carefully, mindful of his overly-sensitive state, and tossed it aside. He let her steer him into the shower, but as soon as he’d stepped into the bathtub, he turned his back to the spray of hot water. There was no way his body would be able to handle that; even against the expanse of his back, the drumming massage of heat was nearly too much.
She stepped into the tub in front of him and pulled his head forward for a kiss. He slipped his hand between her legs, finding her wet and ready against his fingertips. She hummed against his lips and lifted one leg, hooking it around his hips.
When she found his erection with one hand, he broke away from her mouth, breathing raggedly. He turned her back against the wall and let her guide him into place. He slipped into her body slowly and easily, dropping his forehead against her shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him and they both stilled, savoring the moment as the hot water beat at their skin.
“I love you,” he said into the tangles of her damp hair.
“I love you, too,” she returned, lowering one hand to pull at his wet hip. He started moving, no longer able to deny the demands of their bodies.
“Do you mind if I stop by for lunch?”
“Do I mind?” she asked, smiling as she leaned back in her chair.
“People might guess we’re together.”
“They won’t have to guess if we start making out in the squadroom,” she said, and his soft chuckle found her ear through the phone. “Where are you?”
“Pulling up to the precinct,” he said, and she could hear the break of humor in his voice.
“Oh, so the question was rhetorical?” she asked with a smile.
“Of course not. If you said no, I would’ve paid the driver to circle the block for the next four and a half hours.”
She laughed. “Come on in, then. I can take off for lunch in a few, I’m just waiting for the new detective to get here and then I’ll have Rollins and Carisi babysit him. Hey, his name is Chad Wills. I actually laughed when I read the name. I—” She stopped at the sound of a knock on her door. “Come in,” she called. “I think he’s here, Barba,” she said. “I’ve gotta go, I’ll see you when…” She trailed off as Carisi and the new detective stepped into the office.
“Hey, Lieutenant,” Carisi said. “New guy’s here.”
Chad stopped short in the doorway, looking as though he’d been slapped in the face. It was almost funny.
“Liv?” Barba asked in her ear.
“Yeah, sorry,” she said, shaking her head. “I, uh…” She didn’t know what to say, at least not while Carisi was standing in her office staring at her.
“Shit,” Barba said softly, and she almost laughed again. He was quick; he’d always been quick.
“Right,” she answered. “You can wait outside if you want.”
“I’ll be there in two minutes,” he said, hanging up.
She set her phone on the desk. “Sorry,” she said.
“Everything alright?” Carisi asked.
“Yes. Uh...Carisi, could you leave us alone for a minute? I need to speak to Detective Wills.”
Carisi glanced back at Chad with a frown creasing his brow. “Sure thing, boss,” he said, heading out and closing the door with a soft click behind himself.
“You’re Lieutenant Olivia Benson,” Chad said when they were alone. It wasn’t a question, and he’d recovered most of his composure.
“And apparently you’re my new detective,” she said. She couldn’t quite figure out what she was feeling; the initial surprise was wearing off but her thoughts and emotions were still jumbled. She had a laugh trapped in her chest, and heat trying to creep into her cheeks, but neither had quite gained the upperhand.
“Okay,” he said, running a hand over his face. “Okay,” he repeated. He nodded. “This doesn’t need to be awkward, right? Even without the nondisclosure, I would never speak outside the bedroom about you or Rafael or anyone else. And I’m sure you feel the same. So...I mean, even if we were to meet up again—”
“Let’s establish very clearly right now that that will not happen. I’m your boss. From this moment forward, the only relationship we’ll have is a professional one.”
“Of course,” he said, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “I didn’t mean—Sorry.”
She waved a hand. “No need to apologize, Detective,” she said. “Like you said, no reason to make this awkward. We’re all consenting adults and neither of us knew we’d be working together.” There was another knock on the door. “Yeah,” she said.
When Barba sauntered into the room, Chad looked really and truly flustered for the first time; his surprise at seeing Benson didn’t compare to the look on his face at the sight of Rafael Barba—dressed in a full, tailored three-piece suit, wearing a smirk and moving with an easy swagger.
Barba closed the door.
In spite of herself, Benson leaned back in her chair, letting her curiosity have free rein.
“Raf—” Chad cut himself off. “Or, Mr….?”
“Barba. But you can call me Rafael if you’d like, Detective,” Barba said. He paused. “Nice suit,” he added, and Benson saw a hint of color staining the younger man’s cheeks. “May I?” he asked, pointing toward Chad’s tie.
Chad glanced down at himself with a slight frown, and Barba stepped closer. With long, skilled fingers, Barba straightened the crooked knot of the other man’s tie.
“There’s no need to look so nervous,” Barba said softly, and his smirk shifted into a friendlier smile. “I don’t work directly with SVU anymore but I promise, there’s no better squad and you’ll never learn as much anywhere else.”
Chad cleared his throat. “That’s what I hear,” he said.
“You must have an impressive record and reputation, yourself, to get your foot in the door here. I hope it’ll be a good fit for everyone involved.” Barba held out a hand, and Chad shook it automatically, looking bemused. “I wish you the best of luck, Detective.” Looking at Benson, he asked, “Do you want me to wait at the elevators?”
She shook her head, getting to her feet. “I’m ready,” she answered. To Chad she said, “I’m going to have you shadow Carisi for a few days, you go where he goes, alright?”
“Sure thing, Lieutenant,” Chad replied, watching her walk to Barba’s side. “I guess I’ll see you later.” Benson and Barba were looking at each other, though, and Chad got the impression they’d already forgotten he was there.