I woke before Shelby.
I kissed her hair away from my face and her neck.
I counted the numbers on my clock—nine thirteen, fourteen, fifteen—before rising to clear the last remnants of the previous evening’s party.
The night before, with the last of the Nubians off to a pre-dawn breakfast, I showered as Shelby put fresh sheets on the bed. I tidied the room before we got under the covers.
We held our nude bodies close, drifting to sleep.
After five weeks apart, our true reunion could wait until we were rested and alone together the next day.
As she slept that morning, I washed dishes and piled laundry, cleared condoms and wrappers, and gathered recycling.
I swept away an orgy to remake my apartment as Shelby’s retreat.
A little after noon, I slipped back into bed.
Before I agreed to co-host Apollo’s party, I had checked in with Shelby to be sure she was comfortable with a couple dozen naked people intruding upon our time together.
“Do what you want,” she said coolly. “But I’m not playing. Straight up, I’m done with group shit for now. I’m fine with you, but that’s it.”
Shelby had not intended to become a one-man woman.
Her body had made that decision for her.
A spate of irregular bleeding had sent her to the doctor. A biopsy followed, with frightening news: Shelby needed surgery to remove cells that might become cancerous.
Shelby registered the diagnosis as most people would—blah blah blah blah blah blah cancer.
Her family history put her at risk, even at so young an age. She concurred with the assessment that surgery was the correct course—a decision supported by her family—even as she dreaded going under the scalpel .
The “c” word scared the hell out of her. Making matters worse, Shelby hates medical procedures. Now she faced a particularly invasive one.
She told me about her fears and anxieties. We talked and I listened, offering support, love and concern—from a distance of many hundred miles.
There are times we might wish for a more conventional romance.
I would not be there to hold her hand during exams. Our friend Meg took that shift, assisted by Mary Poppins.
I would not be there for the procedure itself. Shelby would have to rely on her mom for that.
I was just too far away.
Even if I were closer, I’m not sure that her anxious parents are yet prepared to share a doctor’s waiting room with their daughter’s older lover.
Now, this morning, after an orgy, we were together.
This was how I could offer comfort. My bed was some solace, my kisses some relief.
She woke with my arm draped over her. She opened an eye, squinting to bring me into focus. Her lips curled into a smirk as she extended a leg, twisting her body into a feline stretch.
I kissed her good morning.
She closed her eyes and turned to her other side. I pulled close to spoon her, my arm wrapping her waist, cupping her hands in my palm.
We lay quietly.
“I’m scared about this,” she finally said.
“I know you are. It’s scary.”
She was still. Her shoulders moved against my cheek as she breathed.
“I just feel so . . . broken. I don’t work anymore. I’m diseased and gross.”
I swallowed, unsure of what to say.
I propped up on an elbow, and turned her face to mine.
“You have cells with the potential to become diseased. You are not diseased. You’ll get better.” I kissed her shoulder. “You are beautiful and you have so much life. I love you.”
That morning, we made love.
It had been so long. I was so concerned to be gentle with her.
“Take it slow, okay?” she asked.
“You tell me what you feel,” I said, kissing her neck.
“That’s pretty good.”
“And this?” I took a nipple under my tongue.
“It’s good. Better than, say, this?” She jumped to pinch one of my nipples.
“Ow, ow! Why, you rotten bitch . . . !” I winced.
“Just be gentle, or you’ll get worse.”
My cock was soon entering her, slower that molasses dripping in the snow. When I was fully in her, I asked if she was okay.
“Yeah. You can fuck me, you know. I won’t break.”
I held my torso still next to hers, my weight on my elbows as our hips pressed to one another. We were eye to eye, close even as our bodies fucked a million miles away.
She put a hand between us, fingering her clit. I lifted to give her space, fucking shallow and fast.
She soon arched her back, giving herself over to squeaks and screeches.
I stayed steady, eyes open, as her orgasm reverberated off the walls of my room.
That night, after a day together, we would make love again, just as intense but more physical.
We were fierce, hungry for one another. There were no fears of broken bodies, just us, Shelby and Jefferson, in our bodies, in one another.
Those orgasms filled my ears, echoing so many others.
I had not heard her orgasms during the five weeks we had been apart.
It was very likely I would not hear them again for months.