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I was still trying to figure out what the hell to say when a distraction presented itself.

Well, I wasn’t really looking for a distraction. In fact, I tried to ignore it. Sam was the first one who said, “Hey, do you two smell mushrooms?”

“Probably something going past the stairs downstairs,” I said, and kept thinking. How could I forgive someone – two someones – when I was the one who thought I’d screwed up?

But who had screwed up, really?

Even if it was okay in the end, I should’ve asked. But then…

“No, someone’s coming up the stairs,” Sarah said. “And I definitely smell mushrooms now.”

Further denial was rendered pointless when one of the staff – a wolf girl, about my height, broad enough at the waist and hips to please most guys without being overdone – bounced in with a tray. “Hi, folks!” she chirped. “I’m Liz. Got a special order here for you – all taken care of, you don’t need to worry yourselves about it. Just starting with a little something to nibble on.”

“Uh… right. Thanks.” Sam had apparently been caught off guard; he just leaned back out of the way and let Liz put the tray on the table. Stuffed mushroom caps, and a big order of them at that, along with three glasses of iced tea.

Once she’d left, the skunks exchanged glances. “Who would have…?”

“Had to be Ric,” I said. That was a no-brainer. “He set all of this up.” I gestured, not at the food, but at the otherwise-vacant room around us. That was the easy part. The question was not who, but why? What was he saying by this?

Was he… giving us his blessing? That didn’t sound quite right, I thought, snagging one of the mushroom caps. No, that wouldn’t be his style.

But it might have been his way of saying he wouldn’t get in the way. Not because he’d think I needed his approval, but to show he didn’t disapprove, wouldn’t make a fuss.

Either way… God.

A heavy hand rested on my shoulder. “You okay, Tim?”

I took a deep breath. I would not choke up, not here… I swallowed. “What’s it take,” I asked, hearing my voice come out hoarse but not able to do much about it, “to have someone you’re fond of in your arms, and… hand them over to someone else to do whatever?”

Sam gave me a searching look, squeezing my shoulder. “I think I’d call that love, Tim,” he said, soft but grave. “The love of the best kind of friend.”

That… didn’t make it any easier to bear. I looked down, and that brought my gaze to the food. “I’ve got to pay him back,” I said to myself.

Of course, I had said it aloud, anyway.

Neither of them mocked me – well, that’s too strong a word; I had no reason to believe they would. Neither of them teased me about it, though. Sarah rested her hand on my knee, saying, “If someone wants you to be happy, Tim, if they’re giving their all so you can be… figure out what’d make you happy. And grab it with both hands.”

I looked up again, and thought I saw some of that same fondness on her face.

“Well.” I swallowed. “I guess we shouldn’t insult the guy by spurning the food he provides, huh?”

A pair of soft smiles greeted my words. “That’s the spirit,” rumbled Sam, with one last squeeze and pat to my shoulder.

As Liz had hinted at, the mushrooms were just the start. Talk turned to lighter, inconsequential things as we worked through them, and that was fine; lower pressure felt right, at the moment. Things were just starting to dry up on that front when the main course arrived; seafood linguine for me, a hefty cut of roast beef for Sam, and a delicious beef stew for Sarah – I know that for certain because we sampled each other’s entrées, and while all of it was to Casey’s usual high standard, I was almost tempted to ask to switch with her.

Almost. They do really good seafood there.

The arrival of the main course had made me realise just how hungry I was; I hadn’t had a proper meal since lunch the day before. I’d had the largest share of the mushrooms; now, not only did I polish off that entire hefty serving, the other two pushed portions of their own meals onto me as well. And I still wasn’t feeling stuffed by the time I was done – full, yes, but not overly so.

While they were picking at the remains of their meals, I excused myself and slipped downstairs. I wasn’t at all sure what the future was going to bring, but I still needed to talk to him, at least, if he was still around.

So he was – talking with Erin at the bar; he was hanging onto his bike helmets, but his jacket wasn’t done up and he was sitting down. He didn’t seem to be about to leave – which fit, when I thought about it; he did say he’d be waiting.

He looked up and smiled as I got close to him. It was a weird sort of smile; wistful, hopeful, uncertain… It stung, in a way. Not because of what he’d done, not because of what that smile seemed to say… well, not exactly. What stung was being stuck with this sort of choice.

“Give us a few, Erin,” the chinchilla murmured, and the wolf slipped off with a nod. Ric reached over to clap his hand on my shoulder – it was a very socially acceptable sort of gesture, but there was a warmth to his grasp that on equal parts reassured, and reinforced the awkwardness I already felt. The guy obviously cared…

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, before I’d even managed to get a word out. “I know that look. Do what’s right for yourself, Tim. And if you’ve still got room for it, I’ll be glad to have you over even if you’re officially with someone else – so long as they’re okay with it.” A smile. “So no more doom and gloom, huh? You don’t have to chart out your whole life right away.”

I still didn’t feel quite right. I’d been in the guy’s bed not two hours ago, after all, and not in any innocent way. And it didn’t exactly put those thoughts to rest when he leaned in and whispered that he’d have plenty of images to keep him company. But then he straightened, patted my shoulder again, and said, “So get things squared away, do what you need to do – and enjoy yourself as much as you can, okay? I’ll be rooting for you.”

Guilty conscience or not, he was right. “I’ll try, Ric,” I sighed. “Thanks. For the food, and… everything.”

“I thought you’d like that,” he said with a grin, zipping up his jacket. “Consider it belatedly playing host; I only remembered after going downstairs that I hadn’t seen you get a proper meal. And it’s not like I didn’t treat myself, so,” he poked my shoulder, “don’t you dare feel guilty about that, got it?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes, sir!”

The skunks made an appearance at that point, with their coats on, Sam carrying the one I’d left at their place… had it only been that morning? It felt like longer than that. They spotted us and hustled over, and Sam passed the coat to Sarah on the way.

Huh. Both heading this way, but Sam not keeping my coat… “I think someone wants to talk to you,” I noted.

“Looks that way,” Ric agreed, chuckling. “If I didn’t know he was a nice guy, I might be worried.”

An impulse grabbed me. A moment’s thought led to the conclusion of ‘For God’s sake, do it’, so… I reached up, took hold of the chinchilla’s shoulder, and gave it a squeeze. “I’ll see you around, okay? Call me sometime – I don’t have your number.”

“They do,” he laughed, stroking over my fingers and making me shiver a little, then drawing gently away. “Take care of yourself, Tim. I’ll be in touch.”

God. I wondered – not for the first time – what the hell I’d got myself into here. Not that it was bad stuff going on – in fact, it was so good that it had me downright confused.

Sam, true enough, wound up corralling Ric to “talk for a bit before we go our separate ways”, leaving Sarah to hold up my coat in silent invitation; I slid into it with mumbled thanks. She gave the impression she’d have been willing to do it up, too, but as soon as I started doing so myself she gave me some space.

Pleasant a notion though it might’ve been to have her reaching around me, it was one that’d take some getting used to, and I really didn’t want to be about it right there in public.

“Should I ask what’s on the agenda there?” I murmured, nodding toward the other two guys.

“Setting the record straight,” she replied, giving a pat to my shoulder that nudged me in the general direction of the door. “Tim, we’re not… not stepping on anyone’s toes here, are we? We want to invite you back to our place to at least get things straightened out, but… well, is there a reason we shouldn’t be more forward than that?”

I thought about it. Thought about how Ric had made me feel, in his bed and otherwise. Thought about what he’d said before and since. “I… don’t know,” I sighed. “I don’t think so. But this isn’t how I’m used to things working.”

“Take your time, Tim,” she urged. “We don’t want to make another mistake, Sam and I. And even if he’s the one who did something first, it could just as easily have been me – both of us have really pushed harder than we should’ve without clearing things up.”

“It’s okay,” I hurried to say. God, I didn’t want to make so many people worry…

“Nice of you to say, Tim, but it’s not fair to you. But we can clear that up somewhere more comfortable; looks like they’re done there.’ Sure enough, Sam was heading toward us and the door; Ric was having a few last words with the bartender by the look of it, but did look over and toss a wave at me, which I didn’t mind returning.

So what if people talked? Whether they thought I was Sarah’s boyfriend, Ric’s, or Sam’s, hell, it’d be a nice catch – and if they thought I was cheating on one of them with another, well, that wouldn’t be as nice, but I could get it straightened out with the people who mattered.

I hoped.

“That guy is something else,” Sam murmured once we’d filed outside and started down the road. “Never seen a guy before who’d send off with someone else, someone he, uh…”

“Slept with?” I suggested. What point was there in hiding it, any more?

The big skunk sighed. “Yeah. And didn’t cock it up, at that, I imagine.”

I grimaced. What could I say to that? I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t been awkward, but he’d…. ah. “You acted in good faith, and it’s not like it felt bad at the time…”

“You’re reaching,” Sarah murmured, squeezing my shoulder through the thick coat. “We’ll get over it, Tim, but we can’t just ignore it.”


“Are you all right to stop over for a while?” Sam asked. “Talk things through, get that done? Could just see you home, if you need…”

“Need what?” I shrugged. “The good side of unemployment is I’ve got all the time I need.” I tried to say it with a wry grin. It was true, after all.

Apparently I didn’t succeed; Sam winced. “Ah.”

“So, uh…” Sarah took a breath. “Are you and Ric an item? I know what you said, I just want to get straight exactly how things stand.”

“No… not yet, anyway.” I shrugged. “He’s kind of said he didn’t mind the notion, but not… not now, with everything being a mess.” I grimaced; a kind of ugly thought had just occurred to me. “I think he might be a little worried about what he’s done as it is, and I was the one to ask for it. He might think pushing for an actual relationship right now wouldn’t be far off from date rape.”

“You obviously don’t think anything so dire,” said she. “But where do you see yourself going?”

I shrugged, and gestured toward the intersection ahead. “Too early to tell, yet.”

“Ric was… pretty graphic about some stuff, actually,” mused Sam. “Not about what you two may or may not have got up to, mind. He did say, though…” He managed to crowd one of his hands on my otherwise unoccupied shoulder. “He said that if we want to pin you to the bed and shag you to exhaustion, you’d better have a smile on your face afterwards, but so long as that’s true he’s not going to complain. Almost a direct quote.” He shook his head. “I almost offered him a chance to come along and make sure, but figured it’d be unfair to you without your input. What a guy, though.”

“He’s a good sort, that’s for sure,” Sarah replied over my blushing ears. “I get the feeling I’m not his type, though. Wrong equipment.”

“Could be. Maybe he wouldn’t mind you watching, at least, if it was just us guys…”

The image shoved its way into my head of Ric on one side of me and Sam on the other.



Oh, God.

Sarah leaned over, cuffing the bigger skunk on the shoulder. “Stop breaking the tiger,” she said, though her stern voice was rather spoiled by trying to stifle a laugh.

That wasn’t quite enough to chase the images away, though. Especially not when they were joined by images of Sam and Ric alone. I wasn’t quite sure what guys did together, but… well, it was a good thing we weren’t far from their place, even so.

“So… explanations?” Sam suggested, hanging up coats.

I took a breath, and almost asked to get those done somewhere comfortable, like, say, bed. Fortunately I caught myself. I don’t think they’d have been offended by the notion – I knew better, and it was starting to sink in – but the explanations did need to happen. “Uh… right. I just need to visit the washroom for a moment.”

I got my treacherous little friend arranged a bit more comfortably, washed my hands, and joined them in the living room. I wound up on an easy chair, with the two of them on the couch; and maybe I should’ve expected things to be serious, but I hadn’t thought they’d get as dark as they did.

It was as I was just getting into the offered seat that Sam shook his head, sighed, and said, “This is all my fault.”

“You thought I understood,” I protested. “We can get over that – “

“Before that,” the skunk corrected.

All right, I was lost. I sat back and listened. But the matter wasn’t made any more clear when Sarah chipped in, “It wasn’t your fault. People aren’t doing what they were told.”

“It was my idea, though.” Sam leaned back against the couch, closing his eyes. Before I could work up the courage to ask what the heck was going on, he said, “One of the clients I advise, Tim, is AEC. Angel Entertainment Company.”

Angel Entertainment…


“They approached me some weeks back, asking about a particular project that had been brought to their attention. A company was looking for a publisher, and my contact at AEC wanted my thoughts on how successful the investment might be, and if it’d be a good idea to try for a larger investment and share than was initially asked. Then… you showed up last week.

“It took me a little while for it to sink in that you’d actually brought right to us an actual, live copy of the thing AEC was looking at. And I was determined to stay objective about it – and I liked it a lot. So I told my contact that it was a good piece of material, that they had good people working on it, and that I’d personally buy and recommend the product based on what I’d seen so far, so it’d be a crying shame if it got scrapped for lack of interest. I could even pull a few strings and get some partner investors in the industry.” He shook his head. “You know the rest better than I do.”

Oh. Damn. No wonder the guy felt guilty. It wasn’t just about seducing me – he thought he’d cost me my actual job.

But wait a moment…

Sarah confirmed my thought in a moment: “Be fair, Sam. You told him it was the people who made the project, and he said he agreed.”

“Not sure what the hell went wrong after that,” the bigger skunk muttered, glowering. “I left him a mostly-polite query today. He’d better get back to me soon, or they’ll have to shoulder the purchase cost alone – and they’re not that big a company.”

I blinked. He’d mentioned what field he was in, of course, but I hadn’t quite grasped how much influence it gave him.

“Tim…” Sarah leaned toward me. “We don’t think it’d be that much trouble to find a job; you sell yourself short on that score. But if something doesn’t turn up fast… trust us, okay? We can get you something – and we owe you that much; if it wasn’t for our enthusiastic recommendation, you’d probably be at work right now.”

“Well… maybe it won’t turn out all bad?” I hazarded. If nothing else, I’d got laid…

“It better not,” Sam breathed, looking up. I lurched back in spite of myself. There was a very intent look in his eyes, suddenly. A look that sized me up, and… wonder of wonders, liked what it found. A look that wanted.

“Easy there,” Sarah chuckles, leaning a little closer. I hadn’t realised the two seats were that close together, but her fingers managed to find my jaw all the same. “Tim, I think it goes without saying, at this point – but I’m going to say it anyway – that we’d quite like an opportunity to give you a… proper reception. Both of us – and if you’re up to it, I’d rather get it done before work than after.”

I wasn’t aware of standing. I just… kind of nodded against her palm, and next thing I knew her touch had coaxed me onto my feet.

Sam got up as well, giving Sarah a touch on the shoulder. “Gently, hon. And I know there’s irony in me saying this, but learn from my experience, huh?” He leaned in a little closer, brushing his fingers over my cheek. “We’re into you, Tim. We’re not going to ask anything permanent of you here – we just want some time to get close to you, just for a few hours. Anything longer-term than that, we can decide in the future. For now, it’s just some fun and pleasure, no strings. That okay with you?”

I let out a breath. It was so easy to get caught up in the moment; they’d have probably been able to get me to agree to being tied to their bed for a week, though I’m sure I’d have regretted it later. But as it was…

“That sounds pretty good, yeah,” I breathed, and managed a grin.

Once again I found myself in their bedroom, and this time I co-operated, rather than just not resisting, as Sam slipped my shirt off; this time, the presence of his big hands on my shoulders was comforting, reassuring. It might have been because I had a notion of how things were going, and I didn’t think it was himself he was getting me ready for. Though he figured out right away that nibbling on my ear was damn hot and he stripped me down with the barely-restrained eagerness of a kid unwrapping a Christmas present, some part of me remained quite aware of the motion behind me, of articles of clothing drifting over to the hamper by the foot of the bed.

I’d been hard by the time we got to the top of the stairs; I certainly wasn’t less so when Sam finished getting my boxers down to my ankles so I could kick them aside, or when his hands cupped under my rear and his snout nudged under my chin.

“You’re amazing, Tim,” he breathed, and I shivered as the words caressed my throat. “So beautiful, so… so alive.”

“He is that,” Sarah replied, right against my ear. She also knew just how to treat – suckling on the edge of it, the sides of her teeth rubbing against it, then gracing very, very delicately with their sharp points… God. It was a wonder I didn’t come then and there.

If that wasn’t a wonder, though, what came next was almost a miracle.

She reached over my shoulder, and Sam lifted a hand to meet hers; she’d taken the liberty of opening the small package, so it was left to him to fish out the contents, to curl his thumb and two fingers around my cock… I managed to turn my head down, watching – and squirming – as quick, light strokes with his other hand sort of… un-peeled the rubber onto my erection.

“Nothing against you, Tim,” he murmured. “There’s just some things we’d rather not take chances with.”

“And it’s nothing to do with your background,” Sarah purred over my neck, giving a bite to the side of it that made me shiver all over again. “I don’t think you could knock me up even at the right time of month, even if I weren’t on the pill – but why take chances, hmm?” She squeezed my shoulders, and whispered, “Now turn around and get over here, sexy.”

Well, damn, who in my place could’ve turned down a command like that?

I had every intention to take my time, to get her warmed up and ready. Thus, I was caught off guard when she pulled me right down atop her, one hand behind my head, the other cupping over my butt. “C’mon, tiger,” she hissed over my ears, pulling me closer still. “Come on in.”

There really wasn’t much I could do to prevent it; with just a tiny fidget to get in the right place, her hand – and Sam’s, God, helping on the small of my back – drove me in from tip to hilt all in one stroke. God – even through the rubber, she was warm, soft, wet and inviting.

I shivered, hands finding purchase on the sheets by her shoulders. Not that being pressed down against her breasts was a bad thing – far from it – but it made it hard to say much. “That was abrupt,” I panted once I’d pushed my shoulders up a bit, and grinned. “Damn nice, but sudden.” I didn’t need to be told to start moving – if she wanted me in that fast, odds were good she wanted it hard, and it was the least I could do to work up toward that.

She laughed. Even as she slid her hands along my thigh and my spine, even as she squeezed around me, she let out a deceptively normal laugh and nuzzled at my ears, tousling my hair with a few nibbles. Oh, she was moving under me, too, and those fine legs of hers were at least as strong as my own – she pressed up against me, eased back, then rose to meet me again before she said anything in words. “You’ve seen Sam naked before,” she hissed into my ears – in fact I was peripherally aware of him stripping down behind me, but that was beside the point. “You know how he’s built. I’ve spent the last four years with a man who needs to spend a lot of time warming me up, getting me wet, and even then has to go in slow.” Her arms tightened around me, holding me in place for a few moments. “Do you have any idea,” she husked, “how nice it is to be able to just pull a guy on me and bring him home?”

I shivered, and not just from the sensations she was putting me through. I hadn’t really thought of what the big skunk’s imposing length would mean in their relationship. “I think,” I said, churning against her as best I could in her grip, “I can see what you mean.”

She let me go at that point, and I braced against the mattress and started really getting to work. Not that I was quite so dumb as to let thrusting do all the work; I kissed her jaw, I tried a nibble along her neck and was rewarded with a shiver and a deep moan, I nuzzled at the warm swell of her breast. Her hands urged me on – it had been years since I’ve had a woman make me feel so… so good about what I was doing; not just with her touch, but with soft whimpers, groans, and squeezes around me now and then. The rubber was a godsend; I don’t think I’d have lasted more than a few seconds without it, and I doubted I’d go too long as it was.

When Sam slid onto the bed by our heads, I faltered again. Yes, I’d seen him naked; I’d even caught a glimpse of him hard, the night before, though it hadn’t been a good glimpse and I hadn’t been in the mood to pay attention anyway. All that couldn’t have prepared me for the hefty pole that was suddenly resting on Sarah’s snout, her laugh wafting around it.

“Don’t be shy, Tim,” she murmured. “Plenty for us to share.”

That and then some. The guy had double my dimensions… well, no; he might’ve been that thick, but he was, oh, eight inches long, tops. Which was bad enough, but lifting my head and staring down the black length of it made it pretty intimidating.

“Don’t rush the man into it,” Sam murmured, reaching down to stroke my ears. It was a strangely tender touch, compared to what I and Sarah were doing – had been; I’d paused in my uncertainty, and only then remembered to at least keep shifting against her.

Sam was pointing out that it wasn’t like I had a lot of experience with guys when I took my first lick, right over his tip. That made him pause; when I continued up from there, over the rim of his plump glans, he groaned, and his fingers tensed against my skull. Sarah chuckled again, and started kissing and licking along the underside of that length while I progressed along the top.

“Points for eagerness, though,” the big skunk panted, unclenching his hand to stroke over my ears.

“Oh, he is that,” breathed Sarah, claws gliding along my spine. “Aren’t you, Tim?”

“God,” I groaned. “How I’ve lasted this long I’ll never know.”

“I won’t ask much more of you,” said she, the words short, quiet, and distinct; she shuddered at the end of them, and pressed up against me, groaning. “Oh, God, you know how to move, tiger.”

Did I? I hadn’t thought I was doing anything special. I didn’t think I was giving her much stimulation aside from simple thrusts and the occasional grind against her – but apparently that grinding was enough; the next time I paused to do it, she shivered again, whimpering over Sam’s balls, squeezing hard around me. A few more strokes, a few more licks and kisses – I could get to like the taste of Sam too quick by half, I found time to think – and she surged against me again, a bit more urgently; a few more, one more long push, and she bucked up against me hard, claws digging in against my ass and my ribs as she panted and whimpered over Sam’s length.

Not for the first time, I thought for sure I was going to pop. But somehow I didn’t – somehow, I kept pushing against her, working her through what seemed to be a fairly intense climax. I propped myself up on one elbow, freeing the other hand to stroking along Sam’s cock, trying to wrap around it – I could just barely do it with my thumb and little finger, and didn’t have much room to spare with the others. I stroked him, I lapped at his tip, I let his rising moans mingle with Sarah’s and wash over my ears.

I wasn’t ready when, even as Sarah was winding down and I was starting to ease up against her, Sam suddenly cried out and gripped my shoulder hard. The first spurt of his spunk caught me by surprise – the man was pretty copious, and having that much of it coursing over my tongue made me swallow and pull my head up before I even knew what was going on. Not that either of them minded – he pulled back a little, panting hard, and Sarah started licking that much harder at him. I followed her cue, slurping at the top, our tongues meeting now and then as he got both of our necks and chests messy.

When he was spent and started to sit back, I looked up, and I saw his eyes closed, jaws parted, chest heaving in a look of bliss – and something just… snapped. I heard myself cry out, felt myself lurch against Sarah, felt both of them stroking me, heard their hoarse encouragements and endearments as I finally shot into the tight rubber.

And I’d thought my balls had felt drained before… that was nothing.

I did have the presence of mind to pull out, flipping onto my back and letting out a groan. A few seconds to catch my breath, and I sat up, then, gingerly, stood, making it a little easier to pull the condom off without making a mess. “By the door, dear,” Sarah murmured, and sure enough, I saw a little trash can there, and managed not to totter as I took the few steps toward it, tossed the wadded-up rubber into it, and went back.

I’d intended to slide up alongside Sarah, but Sam took my hand, and guided me to lie face-up on top of him, his chest rising and falling against my shoulders, while she reclined against his right side, in the crook of his arm, one of her hands running along my side.

“It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it?” she murmured into my ear. “I remember the first time I lay atop him like that. Felt like everything was right with the world and nothing bad could happen.”

I closed my eyes and just let myself feel the warmth under me, the strength in his fingers as they roamed about my chest, even the heat of his still-somewhat-firm shaft against my balls and thigh… “Yeah, that sounds about right,” I sighed.

So did she, but hers was a more irritated sound, accompanied by a glance over. “Damn the time. I need to scramble here, guys – only have time for a quick wash before I need to head in. Thank God it’s a short shift, but it won’t be short enough.” She leaned in, then, brushing her lips against mine. “You two have fun, yeah? And Tim, don’t worry a bit about what I would or wouldn’t want you to do. Trust Sam on that.”

I nodded, grinning up at her. “It’s a bit of a weird feeling, that,” I admitted. “But I think I can get used to it. With practise.”

He laughed, patting my stomach, and Sarah gave him a kiss, too, before slipping out of the bedroom in a whirl of stripes.

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