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Thanks for the wonderful editing job, Kaytln Hargrave!
“I came by to check on you.” Pocketing his key, Elijah walked into the bedroom and froze. Anthony, his best friend and employee, lay on the bed stroking his erection, moaning softly. Elijah wasn’t positive, but it sounded like his name escaped through the full lips of the younger man.
Anthony’s eyes opened slowly. They appeared unfocused as they gazed at him. “Elijah?” he whispered, his voice unsure.
“Yeah.” He coughed. What was the proper etiquette for something like this? He turned to leave as Anthony closed his eyes and rolled to the side of the bed. Unblemished skin, the color of butterscotch covered a wide muscular back that tapered to a smaller waist and ended with full round globes. Elijah’s face heated as he stared a moment longer than appropriate at the high, smooth cheeks on display. Perfectly formed thighs and long full calves shielded the more intimate portion of Anthony’s body from him. Swallowing hard, he finally turned toward the doorway, thinking to give his friend some privacy.
“I came to check on you. Secretary said you called in sick again.” Elijah paused, not wanting to stay but afraid to leave. They’d been best friends for a long time and had recently crossed a line. It was one of those things un-discussed. “What’s…? What’s wrong?” Common decency demanded he ask since he’d come on the excuse to check on the man’s health, although his racing heart warned him the answer would be trouble.
A crude chuckle escaped Anthony’s lips. Elijah’s body responded to the sound, and he hated it. Hated the entire situation. “Talk to me, are you sick?” Fear slashed through him that Anthony was truly ill, and not avoiding everyone, especially him.
“I have a bad cold. It seems to want to stick around.” The hoarseness of his voice surprised Elijah. “I’ve been a little nauseous lately, nothing major.” A bout of wheezing shook Anthony’s body, giving lie to the words he’d just spoken. His hand rose and waved away any comment Elijah would’ve made. “Just a cough, it comes and goes.” He tucked his hands between his thighs and curled into a ball, leaving Elijah with the impression he wanted to be left alone. Well, he’d grant him the unspoken request in a minute. Right now he needed to be sure his friend had everything he needed to recover.
“What’re you taking for it?”
“I’ve got some cold meds.” This time the voice sounded bored, distant, and for some reason that hurt. “A couple of choir members brought some stuff yesterday. I’ll be okay.” He curled tighter, appearing vulnerable.
“I know you’ll be okay.” He hadn’t meant to snap, but it seemed lately, he got everything wrong. His wife wanted kids. His fear of being a worse parent than his father, Bishop Pace, kept him in a state of limbo. He wasn’t ready. His father wanted him to take the church in a certain direction. They disagreed. The result was constant friction. This attraction for his best friend came at the worst possible time. Although, when was the right time to want another man, especially when you were his boss and his Pastor?
Eyes closed, he wished he could turn back the clock before they’d acted on their feelings six weeks ago. It started with a hug, a kiss and then mind-blowing sex. How could anything that good, that intense, be wrong? Nonetheless, afterwards, they’d both felt bad and never discussed what happened that afternoon. Cheating on his wife weighed heavily on his conscience. They’d avoided being alone until today.
Elijah sat on the edge of the bed as he’d done so many times before. With their recent past between him, it seemed awkward. Years of easy-going camaraderie vanished as the reality of their actions burrowed into their minds.
“Talk to me, what’s really going on?” As much as he hated opening the door, he knew they needed to clear the air so they could move forward.
“Why should I? What difference would it make?” He cleared his throat before blowing his nose. “Just let it go. It doesn’t matter much anyway.”
Elijah watched the back of Anthony’s head. Without thinking, he stroked the soft curls, cheeks and forehead of his friends face. The slight tremor beneath his palm and hitch of breath said more than words how much his friend hurt.
“Talk to me.” He squeezed a bare shoulder. “I’m here now, what’s wrong?”
Slowly, he rolled over and gazed at Elijah with honey colored orbs. Eyes swollen and red from bouts of crying, Elijah’s hand cupped his friend’s cheek, as anguish ripped through him. His inability to honor his matrimonial vows set this bright soul on a path of suffering. Closing his eyes, he sent up a prayer for wisdom to make everything right. Removing his hand, his eyes widened as long fingers grasped his appendage, holding him in place.
“I’m in love with you.” The husky timbre slid through layers of reserve and touched Elijah’s closeted heart. It leapt in response as he drowned in the eyes of his closest friend. Nothing would ever be the same. They’d met in Bible School at a time when he desperately needed a friend. His father had just announced his retirement and placed his son’s name on the table to replace him in the large community church. At nineteen, he wasn’t ready to take on so much responsibility, besides there were things he wanted to experience in life before taking on that particular mantel.
He’d never played sports, or hung out with friends outside of the church. Family vacations were annual minister’s training retreats or conferences. It had been a battle to get away for Bible College, but he’d pushed until his father relented. He met Anthony his first year. Although their ministerial interests were different, Anthony’s music and Elijah’s pastoral, they had enough in common for a strong friendship.
“You’re in love with me?” It was stupid. He knew it the moment he spoke. But guys didn’t say things like that to one another. Of course, they didn’t hug or kiss, either. Anthony sat up, head down, his fingertip drew swirls on the sheet. Soft tufts of hair lay on his upper chest, Elijah glanced at the pointed pink nipples and grew warm.
“Yeah. I am. Probably have been for a while and didn’t realize it.” Shrugging, he didn’t seem concerned as the tip of his penis slid through the sheet. Elijah’s gaze slid across the room, not missing the swelling beneath the fabric. The smell of Anthony’s arousal hit him hard. Any other time, he’d joke about the man jacking off, but under the circumstances, he refrained.
“Oh.” What could he say? He was married to a wonderful woman and planned to spend the rest of his life with her. In all honesty, the sexual desire was mutual, but he refused to act on that. “How can you be sure?” He wondered at his friend’s positive attitude. Neither of them were gay in any degree. They’d gotten together that one other time, he chalked it up to being a fluke. Obviously, they didn’t see it the same.
“I’m sure. Just like I’m sure you’re in love with me.” The words dropped like a bomb in war.
Elijah jumped from the bed and stared at the crazed man. “What are you taking?” Anthony stretched out on the bed, placed his arms beneath his head and smiled. For someone who sounded like death warmed over, he seemed to have made a miraculous recovery.
“Cold medicine. Nothing too strong.” He squinted up at Elijah. “You’re in love with me, stop denying it. I’m tired of the games.”
Elijah took a large step from the bed, palms forward. He couldn’t believe this. “I’m not playing a game.” He resented the implication. “Just because you think you know what you want, doesn’t mean I want the same thing.”
Slowly, Anthony stood, lips tilted at the corner. Had he thought his eyes swollen? At half-mast, they looked sensual, alluring as he watched Elijah inch back. The movement of Anthony’s long, thick cock against his lower abdomen caught Elijah’s attention.
Using his musical talent, Anthony manipulated his voice to a Siren’s cadence to draw his resistant quarry closer to him. “Yeah, I’m horny and I want a repeat. Six weeks is a long time to wait. I tried to be patient, but you buried your feelings in the sand and never talked about what was the best night of my life.”
“I’m married.” His voice sounded weak and desperate to his own ears. The words were tossed like a life raft thrown in a dismal, drowning situation.
“You were married to Lena when we made love back then.” Naked and leaking, Anthony stood in front of him, without touching. “Don’t get me wrong. I love, Lena. She’s my closest friend, after you. I feel like crap that we cheated on her, and worse, that I still want you. That hasn’t changed.” Inhaling he stared Elijah in the eye. “But I’m in love with you. Right now, I’m feeling horny and you’ve got what I need to feel better.” Hesitantly, his hand rose and stroked Elijah’s arm. He shivered at the light contact.
Spellbound, Elijah stood silent as Anthony moved closer, placed his arms around Elijah’s neck and hugged him. Chest to chest, cock to cock, naked and fully clothed they stood silently for a space in time. Gradually, Elijah’s arm wrapped around Anthony’s waist, pulling him tight.
Why did his heart race at the sight of his best friend? God, how could he avoid this temptation when his own body turned traitor, hardening in preparation. He was a minister, and married. This attraction was wrong. Worse, he’d never felt this level of excitement for his beautiful wife.
“Just tell me. If I’m wrong, tell me, and I’ll let it go.” Anthony’s voice reached him. “All I ask is that you’re honest with me.”
Moments passed. “No you’re not wrong. I-I do love you.” Hearing Anthony’s sigh of relief, he hastened to add. “It doesn’t mean anything.” He pushed him away, regretting the broken connection. “Can’t mean anything. Nothing more will happen.” His eyes pleaded to his friend for help. Help to remain strong in the face of this unnatural attraction. Anthony backed up and lay on the bed, fingertips grazing his chest. He didn’t speak, he simply watched him.
Coughing to cover his uneasiness, Elijah walked to the door, knowing if he didn’t leave now, there’d be no turning back. Anthony’s voice stopped him.
“Could you bring me a glass of juice, please?” Without facing him, Elijah nodded and headed for the kitchen. He’d been in this apartment a million times, but today, it felt different. It was as if the walls breathed secrets. As impossible as it seemed, he was in love with two people. Lena, his wife of five years, and his best friend, lying in the back room sick.
Loving Anthony was a major complication he didn’t need. However, not loving Anthony wasn’t a viable option now. How could he survive without his best friend? The man kept him going through a myriad of rough and stormy days he encountered as pastor. When Elijah knew he’d messed up his sermon or counseling, Anthony calmed and reassured him scripturally he was on good ground. He turned to Anthony when life became burdensome because he didn’t want to appear weak in front of his wife or church family. Ever since he returned from Bible School, Anthony had been the steel in his back navigating him through treacherous territory, keeping him focused, and strong. He hadn’t realized when their relationship changed, but it had.
Returning he gave his friend the glass of juice and walked to the living room to think.
“You okay?” Anthony had followed and sat next to him. Elijah nodded as the natural musky scent of his friend teased his nostrils through the boxers he’d thrown on. This was not good.
“Just thinking.” He managed to get out pass the rising heat of his face.
“Look, I don’t want to stress you. Forget I said anything.” Anthony rose. Elijah grabbed his hand, and pulled him back down. It amazed Elijah how a man like Anthony could be in love with him. Women always went after his best friend. He’d had to talk to Anthony about screwing around with so many of the women in the church. For some reason they fell in love with his light brown eyes and high yellow complexion. He reminded Elijah of Ron, without the glasses, from the old Cosby sitcom, “It’s a Different World.”
“I can’t forget what you said. Obviously, you’ve thought about this a lot. It’s affecting your job and the church. So we have to deal with it, okay?” He squeezed Anthony’s hand before releasing it.
Anthony smiled and leaned forward. “Okay.” His lips grazed Elijah’s jaw. Fire raced through Elijah at the light touch. This raw need had been missing from his relationship with Lena. He loved her, but their sex life was mediocre at best. Hands down it was his fault. He’d sensed her frustration and backed off, many nights he slept in another room rather than see her disappointment.
Anthony turned his face to receive another kiss. This time Elijah accepted the questing lips, the slip of the tongue and heated embrace. Within moments, he was lost to the ecstasy of being with his love.
“I love you,” Anthony said falling to his knees while opening his pants.
“Love you, too.” His breaths came in spurts. His body tensed in preparation of the wonder of Anthony’s mouth. Elijah sighed at the euphoric feelings sprinting through his body.
“So good.” His fingertips stroked the wavy hair that bobbed in front of him. He’d tasted Anthony the last time and hoped he’d get a chance again. Just as he was on the edge, Anthony stopped and leered up at him. Pulling him up, he kissed him hard. Anthony took his hand and walked into the bedroom. Elijah eyed the high round ass cheeks with a hunger that surprised him.
“Let me.” Anthony undressed Elijah while placing kisses all over his cheek and neck. Heat and desire swamped him to the point his thoughts were all over the place. He couldn’t remember why this wasn’t a good idea.
“I’m glad you still wear this.” Anthony tapped the diamond studded cross he’d given Elijah a year before he met Lena.
“Why wouldn’t I wear it?” He frowned, glancing at the jewelry. Anthony shrugged and continued undressing him.
“Come here.” Anthony pulled him toward the bed, pushed him down and lay on top. Wiggling his erection against Elijah’s hardened one; he smiled at the face Elijah made. More like a grimace of pleasure.
Elijah grabbed and kissed Anthony. Tongues tangled, hands roamed, teased and inflamed flesh. He couldn’t think past the rising heat in his groin. As many times as he’d preached against allowing your smaller head to lead you down a path you know you shouldn’t go, he’d fallen victim himself. No way would he stop. Understanding dawned in a way it’d never hit before. Sometimes you just let yourself go with the flow, even when you think it’s wrong. He wanted to smile as Anthony placed the rubber on his hard erection. His lover wasn’t taking any chances that he’d bolt. He watched as the man lubed his own hole in preparation. The sexy maneuver made him hard as nails. Elijah drew the line when Anthony tried to sit on him.
“Hands and knees.” Anthony smiled in anticipation while getting in position. Gently, Elijah pushed forward. “How’d that feel?” He didn’t want to hurt him.
“Good, keep going.” The husky voice sounded okay, so Elijah continued pushing gently, until he was balls deep. Sweat poured off him as he waited for Anthony to adjust. The tight heat tested his ability to wait patiently. His arms shook under the pressure of holding still when he wanted to thrust.
“Move.” The one word demand broke Elijah’s paralysis. He withdrew and slammed forward. There was something so wonderfully fulfilling about loving Anthony, he gave himself up to the pleasure. As he stroked, he thought he heard a sound, but at that moment, Anthony’s ass clenched around him and he pumped faster. Reaching beneath, he stroked Anthony’s cock in sync with his strokes. Grunts and groans filled the room. Finally, a large amount of fluid jetted from Anthony’s shaking body. Seconds later, he reached his completion. He rolled to the side, stroking Anthony’s arm. This was the last time they’d do this. Even if he had to move away. Elijah refused to cheat on his wife any more than he’d already done. No question, he loved Anthony but this could never be anything more.
“This is the last time,” he murmured. “I won’t be coming back. The temptation is too great.” He shushed Anthony when he tried to interrupt. “I can’t live like this. I have responsibilities to a lot of people and I can’t let them down.”
“So you’re going to sacrifice your happiness for them?” Anger, hurt, condemnation and a few other emotions he didn’t want to identify were wrapped up in that question.
Elijah nipped Anthony’s neck. “Yeah.” Anthony sighed but didn’t speak. “Hungry? Want me to fix you a sandwich or something?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Anthony stood after him. They walked into the bathroom and cleaned up before heading into the kitchen. The floor near the bedroom door was damp. Elijah paid it little attention, his mind already on his tasks for the rest of the day. Turning into the kitchen, he looked into the cold eyes of his wife. She was furious. His mind blanked. He couldn’t process what her words or presence meant.
“How long have y’all been screwing?” The icy demeanor in her posture and voice sent a sliver of fear down his spine. She’d seen him. What could he say? Or do? Nausea roiled and his stomach dropped at the reality of the situation. What next? His face heated as he stared at the ground, praying for a word, any word that’d fix the situation.
Not allowing him time to answer, she turned to Anthony. “So is this why you’ve been giving me the cold shoulder? Because you’ve been sleeping with my husband? The Pastor? Your Boss?” She ended on a shout.
His mouth opened and closed like a guppy, before he spun and ran out the kitchen leaving him alone to face Lena’s wrath. He prayed for a miracle. No such luck.
“Nothing to say?” He remained silent, his throat worked but nothing escaped. The pain of her hurt, coupled with his sense of failure as a husband and pastor, overwhelmed him. He heard the clacking of her footsteps draw near and braced himself for her scorn.
“Don’t you have something to say to me after stealing five years of my life?” Tears streamed down her face. The pain in her voice cut through him, freezing him in place. “You’re not interested in a woman, never was. You used me to cover for this…this relationship with your best friend,” she yelled, stepping closer. “You know what? I don’t blame him. I blame your sorry, punk ass, who couldn’t man up and be with him.” He flinched and looked at her shocked. In all the years he’d known her, she’d never been vulgar or this angry. “He didn’t waste anyone’s life other than his own, waiting for you.” She slapped him, the sound loud in the kitchen. The sting on his face penetrated the fog of denial he’d wrapped around himself. The person she despised wasn’t him. He loved her.
Tears trickled down her face as she wrapped her arms around her waist. “I thought meeting a man in church would be different than the men I dated before. But none of them made me feel as low, as stupid as I feel right now.” She peered up at him and pointed. “I hope you burn in hell. Not for cheating on me, not even for fucking Anthony. But your ass needs to burn for the hypocrisy you put on every Sunday morning.” She shook her head and wiped the tears away. “I know there’s a special place in hell for hypocrites like you.” Turning, she stomped to the front door. His heart stopped when she left. Do something. Say something.
“Lena,” Elijah said, his voice a tortured whisper before she turned the knob. She stiffened but didn’t turn. “I’m sorry.”
“Damn right, you’re a sorry piece of trash.” She slammed the door.