>Peaches and cream stretches out under him, smooth and soft and flushed with desire.
All for him.
A burbling laugh draws his eyes up to take in the dimples and curves, brown swooshes of brow and lash, white flashing in mouth and eyes. Blue-edged black pulls him in, in to hot pink Cupid’s bow and strong muscle darting out to meet his, rough and wet. Tasting of happiness.
Tousled strands slide between his fingertips, alive with warmth and color, caressing his knuckles. Coarse hair scratches his hips, toes tickle his calves, fingernails scratch his back.
His senses open to forever.
>A hand tugged at Alan’s pants leg. He looked way down into brown eyes looking way up at him.
“Hey, Mikey.” Alan squatted to Mikey’s level. “What’s up?”
Silently, Mikey held out a construction paper contraption. Alan unfolded pink into a lopsided heart with shaky red-crayoned words.
“I’m sorry again. Forgive me again?”
Alan raised a hand to the back of Mikey’s head and kissed the crown. He didn’t turn toward the figure leaning against the doorframe.
“Using your brother as a go-between now?”
Ryan laughed softly. “Just helping Mikey learn his letters.”
He moved closer. Alan met him halfway.
>She stands waiting, watching him shuffle up to the chair on the other side of the scratched plastic barrier. Orange is a bad color for him, she thinks, not for the first time.
Sh pulls out the hard vinyl chair to sit, picks up the phone while the guard helps him with his. “Hi,” she says, trying to smile in response to his blank look.
He doesn’t know her. He hasn’t known her since she was six, when he pulled the trigger and took away her mommy.
She visits him anyway, because once upon a time, he was her daddy.
>Soot from the dying bonfire drifted past, carried by the last breaths of the windy spring day. Billy sat barefoot in the grass, gazing out across the pond, waiting for the promised private afterparty.
The birthday girl appeared in front him, late as usual, still just as beautiful at thirty as she’d been at eighteen. She straddled Billy ‘s lap, mouth reddened with dye from the fruit punch she’d been drinking. The color made Billy crave a taste.
They kissed, and Billy ‘s eyes fluttered shut as he felt time freeze again, as it always did when he lost himself in Anna.
Brandon flung his little body across the room, and Steve scrambled to keep his brother from barreling right into his boyfriend’s lap. “Be careful,” he warned gently. “Andy’s got a boo-boo.”
Brandon looked solemnly at Andy, who held up his elastic-encased wrist, victim of a sprain caused by a fall from a position he’d never describe to anyone. “Just watch out for this and we’ll be fine, buddy,” he said, smiling.
Brandon climbed onto the sofa, all hands and feet. “Make it better,” he said, leaning over to press his mouth against the wrap of fabric covering Andy’s skin.
>The peppery-sharp scent of carnations tickles her nose as she crosses the unkempt cemetery toward his grave.
She met him only once, at five to his ninety; she remembers the cracks in his skin and the gaps between his teeth. He gave her a Japanese doll wearing a kimono in vibrant reds and greens; she’s treasured it for thirty years.
She replaces the faded plastic flowers with her bouquet, brushing leaves away from the headstone. She resolves to visit more often, to keep the area around the grave clean.
He lived his life alone. He shouldn’t be alone in death.
>She has always hated noir. Pretentious and self-congratulating, it leaves her cold as a Chicago winter, empty as the spaces life has left in her heart. The outside world provides more than enough darkness and paranoia for her taste. She does not need it disguised as entertainment.
She watches now only out of apathy, unwilling to expend the energy it would take to argue her date’s choice. He is engrossed, enthralled, and she flinches as he reaches out in the darkness, his fingers wrapping icicles around her hand.
On the screen, the hero abandons the girl, and she shivers, remembering.