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He was a man with needs, Penric told himself firmly. There had been few enough opportunities for dalliance before, but he had always had recourse to his imagination.

The problem now was that Penric was never truly alone. Desdemona was always with him. Just as he would never expose himself in public, he couldn’t quite imagine doing… that... with her watching.

Not just watching – especially as Desdemona had informed him that watching could be enjoyable – but commenting.

We all know how it works, Desdemona assured him. None of us are strangers to a man’s body.

He was starting to feel almost a stranger in his own body, afraid to touch or linger, unable to ask for privacy he wasn’t sure she could give him.

The dreams came more frequently, until one night Penric woke trembling, desperate. He had taken himself in hand, and let practiced motions and dream images carry him to relief.

Spent, almost drowsy enough to fall asleep after tending to matters of cleanliness, Penric could breathe easier.

That was impressive, Desdemona said into the quiet.

You were watching? Penric flushed hotly. Of course her silence hadn’t meant absence.

You aren’t the only one with needs, you know.