I’m a bit tipsy already. Ok, so we just broke that damn case wide open--the work kind of case, not the alcohol kind of case, although, actually, we just broke one of those open too--and, anyway, where was I? Yeah, I’m a bit drunk. I mean, the whole gang is in the living room, and I am too, but I can’t seem to stop staring at a crushed handful of potato chips that has died all over Jim’s nice hardwood floor. *Our* nice hardwood floor. It’s a little pile-y smudge on the light wood, and I can just FEEL the grease soaking into the floor boards. Jim doesn’t seem to have noticed it though, but then, he’s probably just as smashed as I am at this point.

It was our case, too. Like this is our loft.

We share a lot of things. In fact, I can’t really remember the last time something’s been entirely undisputedly mine.

“Yo! Hairboy! Your turn! Come on, already!”

Oh, ok. There we go. Mine. This turn is mine.

How’d a bunch of grown men end up playing a high school drinking game anyway? Actually, in further testimony to my tipsiness, I really can’t remember. Looking around the room, I’d say the most likely suspect is the non-grown-man component, namely Megan.

“Let’s hear it, Sandy,” she says, now, looking at me, bright-eyed and flushed-cheeked, “That is, if there’s *anything* you haven’t done.”

General merriment results at this oh-so-funny (not) bit of repartee, and my partner, he who makes all my “my’s” into “ourses” seems to be most amused of all, so, just to get him back, I say, making sure every word is as clear and enunciated as I can make it, “I never... attempted to have sex, with a woman I *just met*, in a *coat closet*, while working a *case*.”

I watch with appropriate smugness as Jim shoots me the expected glare of death and downs a shot.

Simon laughs out loud. Man, can his voice *boom*. I tell you, that guy is the guy that that cliche was just *made* for. Like thunder or something.

“Yeah, yeah,” says Jim, “Laugh it up Simon. Let’s see what you’ve got, huh?”

Yeah, sure, can’t wait to see what exciting ground Simon has not yet covered. This is a really stupid game.

“I never... walzted into my Captain’s office without knocking.”

Great, great. These pointed questions have got to go. I knock back the necessary dose of liquor, and notice Jim and Rafe and Megan all doing the same. I think the rule was something like, whoever passes out first has to buy the rest of the gang lunch tomorrow. Or, maybe aspirin. Cause fuck we’re gonna need it.

I accept the bottle that’s being passed around anyway, and dutifully refill my glass.

“Buncha insubourdinant ruffians,” Simon growls. “Conner!”

Damn, do I hate male bonding. Bunch of bullshit.

“Right, sir. Well, *I* never...”

Ok, now she’s doing the dramatic pause thing. Just get on with it already. Enough with the unholy glee. I find myself eyeing the bad, evil, throughly squashed potato chips again.

“- had sex with a woman,” she says.

I freeze.

Shit, shit, shit.

I dunno. I should drink, take a sip, easy as pie, simple obsfucation, nothing to it, no one will ever know, but FUCK, it’s too late now, cause Jim’s ice blue eyes are drilling into mine and his glass is already empty and so’s everyone else’s, of course, and here I am, still holding mine like a complete doofus, and I’ve blown the obfuscation window by about a mile.

“Sandy? I said, I’ve never-”

And I lose it, and throw my glass across the room. I guess maybe the intent was for it to shatter dramatically against the far wall, but my arm isn’t really up to full speed right now, with my current BAC, so it just kind of thumps down to the floor after showering whiskey across the rug.

Whatever, I don’t care, I’m out of here.

Or sort of at least. Damn, I’m drunker than I thought.

I lever myself off the couch, but it doesn’t work quite like I planned, and the room is spinning, and I throw out my arm, but all I manage to do is fall over. Great, like I didn’t already look like enough of a dork. I push myself up again, and make for the door.

Shit, I’m gonna throw up, or maybe pass out, or, hey, even better, both. The edges of my vision are dark, and my head and my insides are being squeezed in a vice, but suddenly, thank god, there’s the door handle, solid and firm in my hand, so I jerk the door open and stagger out.

But, of course I don’t get very far before there’s a big strong hand clamping on my shoulder, and another one on my arm. Jim’s behind me, steadying me, and he’s just a big mass of warm. I give up on getting away, and just lean back against him, cause he’s solid and unmoving, unlike the floor, or the walls, or pretty much anything else at the moment.

“Hey, hey, easy, Chief,” he says, and his voice thrums through me, like power, electricity, and I shut my eyes against the vertigo and feel the vibrations. That’s nice. Very nice. Oh, wait, I’m supposed to be mad. Storming out of here. Yeah.

I try to push away from him, but he’s still holding on to me, so I just tug ineffectually against his arms and then thump back against the hard wall of his body.

“Lemme go, Jim. I’m storming off. Doesn’t work if you don’t let go.”

“Uh, Chief, I hate to break it to you, but I think you’re a bit too wasted to be doing the dramatic exit.”

I frown. Damn it, I’m not a kid.

He loosens his grip, and the world moves again. I reach back and grab his arm.

Ok, not a kid. But I am spectacularly drunk. Which, I must confess, kind of amount to the same thing.

“Jim? I think I’m gonna throw up.”

Then we’re moving. There. That “we” thing again. Damn it.

Whatever, who cares. I’m just grateful that the unit that is us reaches the bathroom in time for the part that is me to NOT add to the potato chip mess on the hardwood floors. Ugg, I hate throwing up. It’s just really a bad, bad thing.

But at least there’s Jim, holding my arm with one hand and rubbing my back with the other, cause, you know, since the cop thing there’s been no long hair to hold back during this particular operation.

I want to tell him I’m sorry, as he gets up and moves away, leaving me on my knees in front of the ol’ porcelain thrown, but when I try to talk, all that happens is, well, more barf. Great. Just great. I am NEVER touching alcohol again, and I am SURE AS HELL never playing a fucking drinking game with Megan again.

Jim’s back in a second, though, and it’s kinda all worthwhile, cause his hands are big and warm, and so, so gentle, steadying me and gently running a warm wash cloth over my face.

“You think you’re done? Or do you still feel-”

“Done, definitly, done. No more of that.”

Jim sounds vaugly amused, “Truth, or wishful thinking?”

“Wishful thinking, “ I groan, dropping my forehead down on the cool porcelain.

“Jesus, Chief, how much *did* you drink?”

“I wish I could remember, man, I really do, cause I’m never drinking that much again.”

My stomach clentches dangerously, and I lift my head, but the feeling passes, with a wash of cold sweat. Jim’s hand has made its way up to the base of my neck, and he squeezes gently, a comforting little, “I’m here” kind of gesture. I feel like such an idiot.

“Jim,” I say, “I’m sorry.”

“No problem, buddy,” he says, even though he’s probably not at his best himself right now, and here he is, kneeling next to me on the nice, cold, hard tile of our bathroom, smelling the lovely boutique of the contents of my stomach. And yet, I think that maybe he really means it.

“Jim, you’re a great friend,” I say, and woohoo, there goes the alcohol, talking again. This is some fucking twisted version of a Miller Light commercial, though.

“Hey, that’s what partners are for,” Jim says, and I snort.

“Hello? Jim, we are so far beyond partners, it isn’t even on the horizon, ok? I mean, H and Rafe? They don’t LIVE together. They don’t, you know, COOK for each other.”

“What’s your point?”

I sit back, feeling the shock of cold tile on my butt through my jeans.

“I mean, like, they have an ‘I,’ ok?”

Jim is frowning now, eyeing me like he thinks I might have finally actually cracked.

“We have eyes, too, Sandburg. Several of them, in fact, between the two of us.”

“No, no, no, you see? That’s the point! ‘Us!’”

He is looking even more lost.

“Ok, I’ve got the eyes, but I’m not seeing, here, Sandburg. What the hell are you on about?”

I sigh.

“Jim. I’m drunk. Can we please just let this go?”

He looks intently confused.

“Sure, Sandburg. Whatever you say.”

I nod gratefully.

“I say--bed. Bed now. And I need a serious glass of water, or I am gonna be too hung-over to live tomorrow.”

This return to a little place called reality, or possibly sanity, seems incredibly comforting to him, but he still gives me a few long, searching looks as we go through our nightly routines in the now-deserted loft.


By all rights, last night should be a complete blank to me, lost forever to the land of an alcohol-induced blackout. However, it is not. I remember ever, single, stupid moment of it. And damn, does my head hurt.

I get up, anyway, though. I can smell coffee, plus the prospect of a nice, hot shower is just too attractive to pass up.

“Breakfast, if you’re up for it,” Jim offers as I pass through the small hallway.

“Shower first,” I say over my shoulder, “But thanks.”

Eggs, toast, coffee, orange juice, and--thank God and Jim--aspirin greet me as I exit the bathroom on a cloud of steam. Jim’s at the table, still munching on the remains of a slice of toast and perusing the business section.

I eat, I drink, I medicate, and Jim reads. It’s a nice domestic moment. Two guys having a nice domestic moment. Jim and I, that is. The fact that this is not at all unusual doesn’t even bug me this morning. I mean, I’ve been noticing it for awhile now. It’s been happening for a lot longer than I’ve been noticing it. We’re married, Jim and I. We spent almost all our time together, our lives revolve around each other, and every Saturday morning, especially lately, we’re here, at *our* table, eating *our* food, reading *our* paper.

Blair Sandburg and marital bliss. Well, except for the whole fact that Jim isn’t, as far as I’m aware, completely in on the fact that we’re married. Or is, at least, unaware of the fact that *I’m* aware of that fact.

He’s doing such a good job of not mentioning last night. Denial is completely within my grasp here. But... no. Not this time.

“Jim,” I say, and I can only bring myself to say it softly.

He glances up, with those sharp, beautiful, *sentinel* eyes, and then folds the paper with an efficient snap and lays it aside. I have his full attention. Fuck, I’m suddenly shaking.

He frowns.

“You ok?”

“I’m a virgin.”

Whoa, ok, way to warm up to the subject, there, Sandburg. Very impressive. Kind of like the way Jim’s eyebrows have almost managed to reach his receding hairline is impressive. Ok, no, that’s an exaggeration. But, anyway, that’s not the point. God, I’m scared. Why the fuck am I so scared?

“You... are a virgin?” he says.

I sigh.


The long silence is just making things worse, so I babble a bit: “So, you know. So much for that whole, Cassanova thing, and all. I mean, this is gonna seriously cut back on your amount of make-fun-of-Sandburg material. Or, actually, it’s probably just going to give you infinitly MORE make-fun-of-Sandburg material-”

“How?” he says.

How? What kind of question is that?

This strikes me as a good question, so I repeat it out loud.

“I mean--all those women. And you always-”

“I date, Jim. I, I make out. I just don’t-”

“Why not?”

I sigh again, shut my eyes.

“It- I-”

I open them again, and find him regarding me with nothing but open, accepting interest. His eyes, his demeanor, everything about him, from the way he’s leaning calmly against the table, with his hands loosely folded, to the way he meets my gaze easily, without censure, sets me immediatly at ease, and as suddenly as it came, the fear is gone. I don’t know what I was worried about. This is Jim. He’s one of the most open-minded, accepting people I know. Not always about himself, but always, *always* about others. Well, ok, not always. There was that neo-hippy-witchdoctor-punk comment.

Not the point, though.

I leaned forward and rest my elbows on the table.

“See, I grew up around a lot of kids whose parents were hippies. I mean, no surprise there, I’m sure. Well, when I was about thirteen, I had a group of friends, and see, not a one of us, out of like, four kids, had any idea who their father was.”

I pushed my chair back and stood up, pacing across the room to the balcony doors and looking out.

“It doesn’t bother me that much, not knowing. I mean, it really, honestly doesn’t. I love my mother, and I’m proud of the way she raised me. But anyway, at that age, we were really starting to learn about sex for the first time, you know? Really starting to think of it as something that might apply to *us*. And we got to thinking, you know, about how most of the adults around us treated it like, like something so casual. And it just didn’t... seem casual to us.”

I didn’t hear Jim come up behind me, so I started a little when his hand came to rest on my shoulder. But I didn’t try to push it away, and he didn’t move it. To be honest, the comfort was kind of welcome.

“So, we all made a vow. No sex until we were married. Until we found the one we wanted to be with the rest of our lives.”

I turned around then, looked Jim in the eye and smiled.

“I mean, it’s hardly a stunning concept, you know?”

“Not at all,” he says, and his eyes are so soft at that moment, that I kind of feel my heart melt. *You,* I think. *God, it could be you.*

And then he doesn’t stop looking at me. We are so, way, totally out of the male safety zone...

Then, suddenly, he goes hard all over and steps away, pulling his hand off my shoulder like it burned him, and wrapping that hand into a loose fist as he walks a few steps away.

“Sorry, Chief,” he says, with his back tense and turned towards me.

“Sorry?” I say, honestly confused.

“Nothing,” he says, and then starts back towards the kitchen.

And then it hits me. Oh, god. He just thought the same thing. Thought that it could be him. I’m suddenly more sure of this than I am my own name.


Like anything I say with that tone of voice always does, that one word stops him in his tracks. But he still doesn’t turn back to face me.

Which, actually, is kind of ok, cause, damn, he’s really got a great back. And, ok, that was totally out of place...

“It could be,” I say, and he turns around, and there are thunderclouds in his eyes now, no more softness.

“What could be what, exactly, Sandburg?” he says, putting the distance back between us, and there are veins standing out on his clentched fists.


He’s staring at me, openly amazed, shocked, even. And, oh, god, I’ve never wanted anything as badly as I want this. Want him. Want him to say “ok,” or maybe something a bit more romantic, not that it really matters. Cause, god, he is beautiful right now, in the morning light, a tight grey tee-shirt strechted across those killer pecs, jeans showing off his long, muscled legs and, yeah, that nice package in front.

I’ve checked him out before. But it was never quite the right moment before. We never clicked at the same second. And now... now, maybe we’re finally on the same wavelength, and if we can just stay that way for a little longer, maybe we can finally dump those last few “I’s” and “my’s” and just go for a full house on the “we’s” and the “our’s”.

We’re breathing at the same time. I think if I was him, I would probably even be hearing our hearts beating at the same time. And we’re standing here, staring at each other, and it’s like there’s nothing else in the whole universe but us. Us.

There was one other moment like this. At the fountain. We were both significantly furrier at the time, though, and that was on a completely different plane of existance.

Please Jim. Please, please, please.

“Why?” he whispers, and I feel myself practically go completely limp with relief, because that was enough. We’re across the bridge.

“Duh, Jim,” I say. “You’re it.”

“Me?” he says, and in spite of the fact that he’s doing an incredibly good job of convincing himself he’s incredulous, I can see that the tension is gone from his body, too.

“Yeah, you,” I walk over to him, and it’s so simple to remove the physical distance between us. I touch his chest, right over his heart. “Who else would it be?”

Now he’s the one who looks scared, looking down at me. I’m a dangerous factor, and we both know it. Because, hey, ok, maybe I’m the one who’s never actually, physically had sex, but that’s completely inconsequential now. We’re both on new ground here, and I’ve always been the one who adapts best. I’ve always been the guide.

Neither one of us has ever been this in love before.

God, even terrified, he’s beautiful. I want to kiss him so bad I’m actually aching from it, but I know better. Jim and his fear-based responses would be out of this loft so fast, there’d be a sonic boom. So, ok, go slow. Easy. One step at a time.

Step one: evoke a protective response. Cause, as long as Jim thinks it’s MY fear we’re dealing with, he can handle it.

I look sincerely into his eyes, and I say, “To be honest,” hah! “I’m a bit nervous about this whole thing. Maybe it would help if we... ritualized it a little. You know, give me some nice, anthropological ground to stand on.”

“Huh?” he says.

“A date, Jim. I’m saying we should start with a date.”

I can barely restrain my sigh of relief when I see my Jim, my confident, safe, comfortable Jim, return.

“This is all a big ploy to get me to pay for dinner, isn’t it?” he says, and there’s laughter written across his face instead of panic.

I waggle my eyebrows seductively.

“Wouldn’t it be worth it to find out?”

And now he really does laugh, and pulls away from me, but gently, and I know that he won’t be gone forever. In fact, hopefully, he’ll only be gone until, oh, sevenish this evening.


We didn’t talk about it all day, but around six, we both headed into our rooms. I dug around in my closet, finally settling on a nice, dark blue shirt and black jeans. I wished for a moment that I still had my long hair, because I could remember the way he used to look at it, and the way he used to surreptitiously touch it. Oh well. I could always grow it back out again, once my place in the department was more firmly established.

I’m about to leave my room, when I stop. I turn around and head back in, opening my top drawer and pulling out something I haven’t looked at in ages, an old wooden box. I open it and pull out a leather bracelet and a hemp choker. And two simple silver hoops. I haven’t worn them in ages, but they slide through my earlobe without a protest.

I glance at myself in the mirror. The earrings look a little out of place without the hair, but when I take one out, I notice that by itself, the single remaining silver hoop looks natural.

I look myself up and down one more time. Not bad. Not bad at all. *Blair, old buddy,* I say to myself, *you are gonna get LAID tonight.* Wow. Weird thought. Exciting thought. Kind of a... making-a-lot-of-assumptions thought, actually.

Although, the moment I stepped out of my room, the time for assumptions was over.

Oh yes, I was indeed getting laid tonight. Either that, or dying a gory death from blue balls. Not that I, as a thirty-year-old virgin, believed in blue balls.

Jim was devastating, dressed in slacks and a black silk shirt and all of it topped off by that smile, the one that lit up every corner of the known universe.

“You look good,” this paragon of manhood said, in his quiet, perfect-

God, I am such a pathetic love-struck idiot. It’s a great feeling.

My cheeks actually *hurt*, I’m grinning so hard. He just grabs his keys from the basket and swings the door open.

“Come on, Sandburg. We have reservations for six forty-five.”


To be honest, the evening is a bit of a blur to me. I know that it went pretty much like most of the other times we’ve ever eaten out. We talked, we laughed, we touched each other--maybe a little more touching than usual.

And then we were home again, and Jim’s keys were *back* in the basket, and we were both standing there just inside the door, looking at each other.

“So,” I said, but I didn’t have anything to say after that.

“So,” he echoed, and we looked at each other some more.

When I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I reached out, and curled my hand around his, and tugged gently. He took a small step towards me, and I could feel his body heat as I looked up into his eyes.

“Are we doing this?” I asked. No bullshit, no dancing around the issue. Yes or no.

“Yes,” he said.

“Good,” I said.

His hand was warm in mine, and I could feel calluses on it, feel the roughness over his knuckles. We were breathing in time again, and in the dim loft, his eyes for once seemed dark.

His free hand touched my side, and I shuddered. God, I needed him. I’ve never felt that way in my entire life. Just the light brush of his hand on my ribs was enough to make me want to scream. And then, he laid his palm flat against me, and his hand slid up around my back, and curled at the bottom of my skull, and he was tilting my head up and his head down and his eyes were slipping closed and his lips were slipping open, and I just shut my eyes.

And then, he kissed me. Soft, searching, just a brush of his lips against mine. It sent a shockwave through me. Jim’s lips. Touching my lips. Oh god.

He backed away, but not far. I could still feel the warmth of his breath. I made a small sound, because I couldn’t get enough of my muscles to work together to say “Please.”

He understood, though, because instantly, his lips were back, pressed against mine, no brush this time, this was a hard, desperate, real kiss, and then a moment later, I felt his tongue, and I welcomed him in, and all that mattered was this hot, wet, wild kiss. Jim and me. Kissing.

Damn, I’d never been this hard in my entire life, and this was only kissing. Wow, he was gonna kill me, after all, but what a way to go.

I clutched fistfulls of his shirt behind his back as he manuevered us both across the loft to the nearest couch, where we both toppled without even losing lip-contact for more than maybe a few seconds. His hands were all over me, then, and his weight was on top of me, and his tongue was in my mouth, and, wow, unless that was a flashlight in his pocket, he was *really* happy to see me. Woo hoo.

I just reached down to fondle his ass and happily enjoyed the wonder that is a lust-crazed sentinel. I knew there was some reason I wanted to find one of these.

But then he stopped. Damn it.

He pulled back and looked down at me.


“Yes?” I said. “I hope this is important, ‘cause I was kind of in the middle of something,” I added, raising one brow significantly.

“When you say virgin... what exactly do you-”

I drew in a quick breath.

“Uh. Always kinda defined sex as anything involving two or more people and an orgasm.”

“Ah. So you’ve never-”

“Jim. I am never, ever playing that stupid game again.”

“Oh. Right,” he said. Then he grinned wickedly.

Before I could protest, he moved down the couch.

“Jim, where are you-”

And then his mouth was on my crotch.

“Holy shit,” I gasped, and he laughed, and, oh, that was an interesting sensation, hot breath through my jeans on my dick. “Yeah.”

He nuzzled me, licked me through the cotton. Fuck, I was already seeing stars. This was not good. Not good at all. I was NOT going to come in my pants like some stupid teenager, not, not, not, oh... shit... that feels good.

He was caressing me now, firm, steady strokes with the heel of his palm against the base of my dick, while his lips and tongue continued to trace the rest of it, and I couldn’t stop my hips from picking up a bit of his rhythm, and I couldn’t believe how different it was to have someone else doing this, especially when it was-


And that only made him stroke a little faster.

“Come on, baby, let it go,” he whispered, and god, I could feel those words against my dick, and his hand was just begging me for it, and suddenly, I just couldn’t hold on anymore, and I rocked up, hard against his hand and gasped, and cried out and cursed all at the same time, and I *was* coming in my pants like a goddamned teenager, hell, but Jim was coaxing me through it the whole way, holding me tight and whispering encouragement.

When it was over, he prowled back up and lay down, half beside me and half on top of me, and kissed my jaw gently.

“Thanks a lot,” I said, managing to get a hint of almost-real annoyance into my voice, “That’s how I wanted my first sexual encounter to go. Humiliation really does a lot of my complexion.”

“Blair,” he said, “That was beautiful. You are beautiful.”

And ok, that was more touching than it was supposed to be, so I had to say: “Jim. I’m sticky.”

I felt him grin, and then he lightly licked me where he’d just kissed me earlier.

“That too. Maybe we should get you out of these clothes, huh?”

Oh. Now that was an attractive thought. Jim chuckled.

“I take it that expression means ‘yes.’”

“Oh, yeah,” I say.

He sat up and then pulled me up as well. I thought he’d just stand up, but instead he wrapped his arms around me and suddenly was just holding me, close and tight, with my head tucked up under his chin. I was startled for a moment, then I wrapped my arms around him, too, and we held each other. It was nicer than it had any rights to be, especially given that we we sort of awkwardly half-turned towards each other and my damn underwear was damp.

I took a deep breath and then sighed a deep content sigh, and let myself melt into his arms. God, those muscles. He’s like a warm cuddly rock. But in a good way. No sharp edges or anything. Just... lots of nice, firm Jim. And boy, does he ever smell nice.

“I love the sound of your heartbeat,” he whispered into my hair, and I shivered, but didn’t say anything. That was a hard thing to top, I thought, as far as romantic things to mutter went. His hand moved gently on my back, soothing, long strokes, that were just nice, not particularly arousing. Except that, they kind up were. Arousing. I wriggled against him and then said, “Jim. Nakedness anytime now.”

I felt the chuckle this time, making his body vibrate attractively, and then he did stand up, again, pulling me with him. He gave me a gentle shove to get me moving.

“Let’s go, then,” he said.

“Your bedroom or mine?” I said, weighing the benefits--Jim’s, bigger bed, mine, closer--when Jim came up behind me, wrapped his arms around my stomach and whispered, “Ours,” and then nipped my ear.

Ooooooh. Yes. One more “our” to add to the collection... no, several more. Like, our room, our bed, our sheets, our dresser... who needed singular possesives anyway, I mused as we walked up the stairs, Jim’s hand never leaving the small of my back as he followed me up.

We reached the top and I immediatly turned, pulling Jim down for another nice, deep kiss. His hands moved around to my chest, and undid the first button, then the second and third on my shirt.

“Mmm,” I said in approval, because my tongue was otherwise occupied.

He slipped my shirt off my shoulders and wrapped his arms around me again, pulling me against the warmth of his body, and sliding his hands down to my ass, lifting me a bit as he pressed forward aggressively, deepening the kiss a bit more.

When we broke apart, we were both panting, staring at each other, and god, his eyes were dark and beautiful, like they were when he was doing his sentinel vision deal, only this time, it was clearly a different cause. He wanted this. Wanted me.

Never breaking eye contact with me, he took a few steps backwards, and he began to unbutton his own shirt. Oh. Hey. Stripping Jim. This was a good thing. A very, very good thing.

The black silk fluttered unheeded to the floor and oh yeah, this was Jim up close and personal, that sculpted body, flushed... flushed with desire for me. And speaking of desire... His hand dropped down to the button of his jeans, then paused, and slid a bit lower, cupped around the ridge in his jeans and stroked, just lightly. Oh god. My own cock was hard again, and it pulsed in sympathetic pleasure, remembering Jim’s hands down on the couch.

I lifted my gaze to his face and found he’d rolled his hand back, his eyes shut, his body loose with pleasure, as his hand gently worked his own dick. Oh, man, oh man, ohman.

He shifted his stance a bit, spreading his legs a tiny bit more, and pressing a little harder, moving his hand a bit faster. My own hand dropped almost unconsciously to my own crotch, rubbing a bit, which reminded me that I really wanted to get out of these pants. Of course, when I reached for the button, the nervousness kicked back in. Jim stopped what he was doing and looked at me again, a slow, sensual smile across his lips.

“Come on, Sandburg. I saw you looking on that oil rig. My turn. Let’s see what you got.”

I grinned back at him, amused and, even, oddly pleased that he’d caught that brief speculative look all those years ago. The man really is a detective. He misses nothing, and he even usually puts it all together pretty well.

I popped the button quickly, not letting myself think about it too much, and grabbed the zipper. Ok, so, I have a thing about nudity. I’m fairly body-conscious. I don’t know *why*, given the way I was raised, but then, given the way I was raised, one might also suspect that I wouldn’t be a virgin still. So to hell with it. I pulled the zipper down and shoved my pants and boxers down in one fell swoop, then kicked them off my feet.

Jim’s gaze swept up and down my body, leaving a trail of fire in its wake.

“So?” I said, trying to sound casual. “What’s the verdict?”

He stepped up to me, slid his hands up my thighs and around to my ass again, and then pulled me back flush against him. Ooo, that was interesting. Bare hands on naked butt, naked chest to naked chest. Good. This was good. Might be better if-

He took one of my hands in his own, and guided it to his jeans.’’