Embracing the Tension Ch. 03

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Hi guys!

Thanks to everyone sticking with me so far. I know this story has been light on the sex, but that is about to change! Ryan and Erik finally dive into bed together, but things are never quite that simple. Read on to find out how they react to their first time back together.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions, so please comment!



Copyright © 2018 by Hudson Bartholomew. All rights reserved. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.


Embracing the Tension – Chapter 2

“Shit, why is it so cold?”

Ryan watched in amusement as Erik zipped up his thick, black parka and pulled the hood up over his head. It was cold, even Ryan could admit that, but Erik seemed especially sensitive.

“Sorry.” He couldn’t stop himself from apologizing, even though he knew full well he couldn’t control the weather. “It’s not usually this cold in October.”

“Fucking climate change.”


“So, it’s true, isn’t it?”

“What?” Ryan asked as he pulled Erik’s suitcase from the trunk of his car.

“Canadians do apologize for everything.”

Ryan bit his tongue just as another “sorry” was about roll off of it.

“I don’t remember you doing that so much in New York.”

Ryan shrugged. “I made a conscious effort to stop when I was down there. Didn’t want to stand out too much. Canadians tend to get made fun of.”

He hopped onto the sidewalk, locked the doors to his car, and led the way down the street. Erik followed at his side, suitcase towed behind him.

“My place is just over there. We only have one parking space, and my sister uses it.” Ryan explained.

As they made their way down the sidewalk, snow began to fall from the white-grey sky, turning the city into a giant snow globe with huge gumdrop-sized fluffy flakes. Snow on Thanksgiving; that was unusual.

Beside him, Erik tilted his head back to look at the snow. The large snowflakes landed on his cheeks and his nose, and one particularly large one landed on his thick dark lashes. He blinked it away.

Ryan stopped in front of the house but didn’t move up the walkway toward the door. Instead, he turned to Erik and stared.

“What’s wrong?”

Ryan shook his head and continued to stare. Erik was a legitimately beautiful man with a perfectly symmetrical face: high cheekbones, chiseled jaw, straight nose, no obvious flaws even when standing no more than a foot away. Almost too beautiful to be real. It was no wonder that Erik had been such a success in porn. But then, Ryan never fully understood why Erik went into porn in the first place; with a face like that, he could have become a supermodel.

But now, as they stood on the sidewalk, quickly being covered in the white stuff, Erik’s eyes were center stage, drawing all the attention. The clear blue of his irises caught the reflection off the snow, turning his eyes into two glowing, silver orbs. The darker blues around the outside formed rings; they looked otherworldly. Then Erik blinked, the orbs momentarily eclipsed by a fan of black lashes, decorated with the most delicate of flakes, before they returned, glowing as brightly as before.

“Ryan.” Erik laughed. “Why are we standing out here? Let’s go inside. It’s freezing.”

“Your eyes,” Ryan whispered. “They’re glowing.”

“They’re glowing?” Erik laughed again.

“Yeah, they’re glowing.” Ryan stepped close, close enough that the fog from their breaths coalesced into a single vapor cloud. “You look like an alien.”

“Oh, that’s flattering. Thank you.”

Ryan grinned and shrugged. They’d spoken on the phone almost every day over the past month—and several times over Skype. The texting had been constant to the point where Ryan had to beg off so he could focus on work. But he’d always go crawling back to his phone not long after, hungry for a little more of Erik.

When he had picked Erik up at the airport, there had been a strange foreignness at seeing him again. The clear, all-seeing eyes, the cute dimple when he smiled—they were all familiar. But between them was a distance bred from being physically apart, despite having been in nonstop communication over the past weeks.


He wanted to kiss Erik. Had wanted to kiss Erik for the better part of three weeks now. But now that Erik was here, standing in front of him, Ryan wasn’t so sure he knew how to kiss him.

“Erik.” He knew his voice sounded huskier than normal, but he didn’t bother clearing it.

Erik smiled his dimpled smile again, and Ryan dropped his eyes to the full lips he wanted to taste with his own.

“Ryan.” Erik tilted his head and leaned forward an inch as he spoke, as if he knew what Ryan wanted and was giving him the opportunity to act.

He closed the remaining scant distance between them and acted. Erik’s canlı bahis lips felt as soft as Ryan remembered, warm and pliant under his own.

It was only a moment before Erik kissed him back. His memory hadn’t tricked him; Erik’s kisses were as good as he remembered. Lips and tongue danced an intimate and familiar dance; the taste of Erik’s mouth brought back warm, safe feelings. But at the same time, it was new and untried, with a hint of hesitation and a gentle testing of limits. With no one watching them and no cameras rolling, this was their real first kiss.

From their lips a small spark of fire began to burn, heating Ryan’s body until he didn’t feel the cold anymore. Those tendrils of fire he associated so vividly with Erik wound their way around Ryan, igniting his body in a way that only Erik could.

Ryan pulled away before he lost himself completely, panting from lack of oxygen.

“Mmm, I think I’m going to like that beard,” Erik said.

Ryan still tasted Erik on his lips, his tongue sneaked out for a second helping. He cleared the lump in his throat as he stepped back. Erik’s eyes glowed, and his dimple deepened as he laughed. It felt easy—and right.

“Sorry.” He didn’t know what he was apologizing for.

Erik shook his head as if to clear it of fog, his eyes squeezed shut, and Ryan missed their glowing light.

“Ryan,” he said. “I don’t know if I will ever understand you.”

Ryan didn’t always feel like he understood himself. The last three years had been a journey of trying to do just that and he was only now settling into who he believed he was meant to be. And then Erik waltzes back into his life, opening up possibilities he had written off.

A small laugh tickled the middle of his chest like a bottle of carbonated water bubbling as the cap was opened. It travelled up and spilled out of him in a wide smile and an easy chuckle. This was something he was gradually getting use to with Erik: smiles and laughter that came naturally, born of something happy he hadn’t realized still existed inside of him.

The sheer weightlessness of it made Ryan feel a like he was fluttering in the wind, but then Erik would smile back and his laughter would ring in Ryan’s ear and anchor him back on solid ground.

“Come on. Let’s go inside.”

The house Ryan lived in belonged to his sister and her husband. They lived on the first and second floors with Chloe. The third floor and the basement had been converted into separate apartments.

Ryan let them in through the main door. At the end of the hallway was a long staircase that led to Ryan’s apartment upstairs. To the right was a separate, locked entrance.

“That’s where my sister’s family lives. My mom’s staying with her for the week. You’ll get to meet them on Monday—for Thanksgiving.” He said the last part quickly, hoping Erik wouldn’t catch it.

“On Monday? Why do I have to wait until Monday to meet them?”

Ryan could already hear the suspicion on Erik’s voice. “Because Thanksgiving’s on Monday.” He didn’t even sound convincing to himself.

“So? Why can’t I meet them before then?”

Ryan busied himself with shutting and locking the door behind them, then pointed to the stairs. “I’m up there.”

“Don’t deflect the question.” Erik filled the hallway with his tall frame. “Tell me why I have to wait until Monday to meet your family.”

He smiled with that damn dimple, so at least Ryan knew he wasn’t upset. But Ryan didn’t really want to answer the question. He glared, but Erik didn’t seem intimidated.


He sighed. “Because I want you to myself for the weekend.”

Erik’s dimple deepened as his smile grew, blue eyes dancing. He didn’t respond, but Ryan could tell he liked the answer.

“So, stairs.” Erik turned to the long flight up and let out a dramatic sigh.

“Wimp. Here, let me take that.” He grabbed Erik’s suitcase from him and led the way. “Come on in.” He ushered Erik into his apartment at the top of the stairs and set the suitcase down next to the door.

When he turned to Erik to take his coat, he found him staring at the wall. Ryan had never been one to blush, but he suddenly felt a warmth spread across his cheeks.

The walls of his apartment had all been painted white, all except the long wall that ran the length of his living room. Across this wall was a mural—giant wisps of smoke that trailed from one end to the other, some places dark, other places fading to a pale grey. It looked suspiciously similar to the tattoo that wound around Erik’s body, the smoky design that had captured Ryan’s fascination and never let go.

He had gotten so used to the mural that he hadn’t given a second thought to what Erik would think about it.

“Is this…?” Erik turned to him and Ryan felt his cheeks burn. “It is, isn’t it?” He glanced back at the wall before walking up to Ryan, a wide grin plastered on his face. “Oh, my god, your face is so red right now.”

Ryan tried to duck his head, but Erik kept it up with a finger under bahis siteleri his chin.

“You got a giant mural of my tattoo painted on your wall.”

Ryan squeezed his eyes shut and wished he’d thought to cover the wall or at least give Erik some sort of heads up before he arrived.

“Hey,” Erik whispered, as his hands brushed against Ryan’s beard. It tickled in the most delicious way. “It’s okay. I like it.”

Sneaking a peek out from under his eyelashes, Ryan relaxed at Erik’s grin.

“I love it,” Erik reinforced, before a twinkle sparkled in his eyes. “Now, did you have it painted just for me?”

Ryan pulled out of Erik’s hold and wrenched open the coat closet to busy himself.

“Oh, come on. I don’t mean anything by it.”

He felt Erik move to stand behind him.

“Tell me? Please?”

With a sigh, Ryan turned and took Erik’s coat from him. “I’ve always liked your tattoo.” He stepped a little deeper into the closet than he needed to. “I liked how you said the tattoo helps to ground you. I wanted a reminder of that.”

Ryan turned when there was no response. In Erik’s clear blue eyes, Ryan saw a reflection of himself, open and bare, but it didn’t freak him out like it would have before. He felt comfortable and at ease, not one ounce of fear at sharing something so intimate with Erik.

He watched as Erik’s eyes dropped, and Ryan wet his lips with his tongue under the heated gaze. Then without a sound, they were in each other arms, lips and tongue meeting again, familiarizing themselves again. Ryan’s nose filled with Erik’s musky scent, and the memory of the smell triggered a heat low in his stomach. He groaned into the kiss, and pressed himself up against Erik’s hard body.

Another groan escaped him as Erik tightened his hold and pulled them even closer with his hands on Ryan’s ass. There was thick bulge rubbing against his thigh, and Ryan adjusted himself to align his own bulge against it. Shudders ran through both of them at the contact.

The heat ignited into a fire, and the fire burned quickly, almost out of control. At the last minute, Ryan pulled back, panting against Erik’s lips, hands still gripping tightly across Erik’s back. Erik was panting equally hard.

“Good to know we haven’t lost that chemistry.”

Ryan groaned at Erik’s teasing joke. “Yeah, and it might just kill me.”

“At least you’ll die happy.”


The whole day leading up to this point had suggested that they were going to sleep together that night. At least, that’s how Erik had interpreted the casual brushes of shoulders, hands on waists, and presses of backs against chests that had been peppered throughout the day. Not to mention the looks.

They had wandered the streets of Toronto all day, popping into stores in the trendy West Queen West neighborhood, lounging at an indie coffeeshop to warm up from the chilly October weather, and grabbing dinner at one of those farm-to-table restaurants on Ossington Street.

And all day, Erik would randomly catch Ryan gazing at him from across a store, or he’d catch himself gazing at Ryan when he thought he could get away with it. Then at dinner, they were like love-sick teenagers, staring into each other’s eyes from across the table. If Erik wasn’t so hopelessly giddy from being within touching distance of Ryan, he would have found them disgustingly infatuated with each other.

He couldn’t wait to get Ryan into bed. But when they finally made it home and were getting ready to turn in, Erik was suddenly struck by a moment of doubt. Ryan had stopped them once before, it was possible he would do it again.

He leaned against the door jamb of the bathroom and watched Ryan brush his teeth, wondering how he would feel if Ryan wanted him to sleep on the couch. He needn’t have worried, though, because the look in Ryan’s eyes when he turned from the sink left no doubt as to where Erik would be sleeping that night. The desire was evident, and Erik found himself breathing more quickly in response.

Ryan’s kiss tasted like minty-fresh toothpaste, and his beard tickled Erik’s lips. Erik had daydreamed about that beard. He wanted to know how the hairs would feel against his palm, against his face, against every inch of his skin. So now he indulged himself. Cupping Ryan’s face in his hands, he ran his thumbs along Ryan’s cheeks and was rewarded with a low, reverberating moan.

Erik reluctantly abandoned Ryan’s lips, promising himself to return to them later, and kissed his way along the beard-lined jaw, tugging gently on the hairs and sneaking his tongue out for a taste. He rubbed his cheek against Ryan’s, and his breath caught at the feeling of the beard against his own stubble, sending tingles through his body.

The familiar and the new clashed within Erik as he recaptured Ryan’s lips. The spicy sandalwood scent triggered old memories of Ryan and all that they had been through, and yet this coming together felt like a weekend of firsts.

“I’ve missed you,” Erik whispered quietly against bahis şirketleri Ryan’s lips. He didn’t mean the three weeks since TIFF. The truth was, he had been missing Ryan for the past three years and had gotten so used to the feeling that he’d forgotten what it was. But now that Ryan was in his arms again, Erik couldn’t deny that they clicked together in a way he never did with anyone else. The elation of that admission was tainted with a steady drip of fear that Ryan may slip through his fingers again.

Ryan took a shuddering breath and pressed himself closer to Erik. “I’ve missed you, too.”

It seemed that Erik’s sentiments were echoed in Ryan’s response.

Erik took Ryan’s hand and led him into the bedroom. His intention had been to strip them both down and let their naked bodies get reacquainted. But Ryan’s eyes were soft with something more than lust, something more akin to wonder. Their first time together shouldn’t be a rushed job, not when there was more involved than just their physical bodies.

Changing tactics, Erik moved in slow motion as he peeled off one article of clothing after another. The heat of Ryan’s gaze followed the movement of his hands and lingered over the patches of exposed skin. Erik flexed—he couldn’t help it—and smiled when Ryan bit his lip in response. His briefs were the last item to go. But he left them on, enjoying how his hard cock strained against the tight fabric.

Ryan stepped close but didn’t touch him. Instead, Ryan’s hands hovered over Erik’s skin, just close enough to tickle the tiny hairs, then ghosted over his chest before finally pausing over his nipples. The almost-touch sent crackles of electricity across Erik’s skin, and his nipples hardened in response. Ryan was gentle when he rubbed his palms over Erik’s nipples in a slow circular motion. Erik leaned into it, yearning for more.

Erik’s heard did a little flip thing; Ryan remembered that Erik liked having his nipples played with and that realization was almost as arousing as the physical act. Erik breathed through his teeth as his muscles clenched against the pleasurable sensations. Then suddenly the gentle teasing turned into hard pinches and the quick change sent electricity shooting from his nipples to his cock. “Fuck.” Erik grabbed at Ryan’s wrists as his cock jumped and oozed precum.

Ryan’s hands fell to Erik’s waist and he bent his head. His lips took the place of his fingers, and Erik found first his right nipple then his left treated to a tongue bath, accented by little nips of teeth. “Fuck.”

Ryan had the audacity to grin at him, a teasing and playful grin that Erik had never seen on Ryan when they were naked. It stole Erik’s breath away. He grabbed the hem of Ryan’s t-shirt and none-too-gently pulled it over his head. Pushing him onto the bed, Erik curled his fingers under the waistband of Ryan’s boxers and drew them down the tightly muscled legs. On the way back up, Erik trailed his fingers gently across the skin, planting kisses on Ryan’s calves, the inside of the knees, along both inner thighs until he nuzzled against the heavy ball sacs.

Sandalwood, musk, Ryan. The heady scent triggered memories of them naked in hotel rooms, surrounded by stage lighting and camera crews. It snapped Erik out of the moment and he blinked his eyes open at the sudden chill that ran down his spine. There was no one there but the two of them and the soft light of Ryan’s bedside lamp.

Ryan reclined on the bed, propped up on his elbows and gazed down at Erik with a questioning look. “You okay?”

Erik took another breath and got more of that sandalwood and musk. Those days had no place in his future—their future. He needed to rewire his brain to associate that smell with good memories, ones that would make his heart swell and his skin tingle in excitement. Erik smiled, though it felt tighter than he would have liked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

Ryan looked unconvinced.

Trailing his hands up Ryan’s sides, Erik climbed up the bed and lay himself on top of Ryan.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Ryan whispered as Erik tangled his fingers in Ryan’s hair.

“Do you?”

Ryan’s chocolate brown eyes looked darker in the dim light, deeper in the intimacy of the space between them.

“I’m thinking the same things.”

“It won’t always be like this, will it?”

Ryan shook his head, just a tiny motion but large enough to reassure Erik’s doubts. Erik leaned down and kissed him, slow and gentle, exploring Ryan’s mouth and falling back into that place where all he thought about was Ryan and his teasing, playful grin.

As their tongues danced, Erik let his weight settle more heavily onto Ryan, enjoying the tightly muscled body underneath him. He felt Ryan’s hands roam across his back, and short fingernails trailing paths of fire across his skin. The air around them grew thick with the scent of arousal and man, blanketing them until they were covered in a thin sheen of sweat.

Ryan’s hands slipped under Erik’s briefs and pulled him tighter against him, their erections rubbing together with the most delicious friction. When Ryan shoved at the fabric of his underwear, Erik sat back on his heels and with his hands on top of Ryan’s, they pushed his briefs down his legs.

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