"When did you get so good at poker?" muttered Sebastian as he stripped off his undershirt.
"I don't know," said Michelle, "When did you start working out?"
"About a year ago," said Sebastian, "as I recall, you accused me of becoming a musclehead at the time." As he said it, he looked over at Devon, Michelle's new beau, for any sign of a reaction. It was hard to tell by fire and lantern light, but there was no sign, positive or negative. He kept his head down, concentrating on shuffling the cards, an effort made more difficult by the three or four beers he had consumed during the night.
Sebastian liked Devon a lot, particularly for Michelle. He was strong and quiet and seemed to know how to handle her. When Sebastian had talked to him, he'd seemed whip smart. Normally, a guy like that wouldn't have a chance in hell with Michelle. She would fuck him once, then get bored, off to find the next dysfunctional psychopath who could screw up her life.
But, Devon was smart. Sebastian hadn't realized how smart he was until Michelle told him what Devon did that drove her so crazy.
"He won't fuck me," she'd exclaimed in frustration.
"Excuse me?" asked Sebastian. At the time, they were sitting on the front porch of Sebastian's family hunting lodge, sharing a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise. Devon and Sakura were still sound asleep in their respective beds.
"He's driving me crazy," said Michelle, "He's a virtuoso with his tongue. I know he's not impotent. I can get a rise out of him just by pressing my ass against him. But, he refuses to fuck me."
Sebastian thought about the idea. Michelle was damned near impossible to refuse anything. But, sex would be particularly difficult. She was not conventionally beautiful, her mouth being unusually wide and full-lipped, hinting at some African ancestry. And, while her body was thin and athletic, her breasts would barely be a handful. Still, she always seemed to have a horde of men gathered around her like puppy dogs, eager to do her bidding.
"Is he gay?" Sebastian asked. He knew how cliched the question was, but it had actually been the problem the one time he could remember a man turning Michelle down.
"If he is, he's a lesbian," said Michelle, "Did I mention his tongue? It's amazing. He can actually lick my G spot and that's all the way..."
Sebastian raised his hands, "More information than I need."
"Sorry," said Michelle, taking a long sip of her coffee.
"Besides," admitted Sebastian, "I know where your G spot is. You talked about it at length when Jeff Majors found it."
"I didn't talk about it that much," protested Michelle.
"You wrote poetry about it," said Sebastian.
Sebastian nodded, "And read it to me over the phone. It was a rather formative moment in my adolesence."
"Why does he think I invited him to join me up here?" asked Michelle, switching back to the original topic.
Sebastian shrugged, "We've only been here one night."
"Yeah," said Michelle, "and he told me he was too tired from the drive."
"Well," said Sebastian, "It was a seven-hour drive."
"I wasn't too tired," said Michelle.
"So," asked Sebastian, "why are you still with him? It's been like six weeks already."
"I know," said Michelle, "He's just so sexy. And that tongue."
Sebastian didn't answer. He wasn't a conniseur of such things, but he thought he could name at least a half dozen of Michelle's previous lovers who had been sexier.
Later, Sebastian had had a chance to talk to Devon alone. Michelle and Sakura were out taking a nature walk while Sebastian did a property inspection. Devon had volunteered to collect and cut firewood. When Sebastian came around the cabin to check the status of the generator, he'd seen that Devon had already collected and cut a fairly large number of round logs.
"That should be enough," said Sebastian, "if you want to start splitting it."
Devon took a flannel rag out of his back pocket and wiped the thin sheen of sweat off of his face, neck, and shoulders, "I think I'll take a break for a bit, then. I'd rather wait until the girls get back from their walk. It's more fun to split wood if you're being ogled."
"Shit," said Sebastian, crouching by a meter on the side of the cabin.
"What's up?" asked Devon.
"My brother," said Sebastian, "he must have come up here and used the cabin a few times without telling anyone. The tank for the generator is practically empty."
"How big a deal is that?" asked Devon.
"Not that big," said Sebastian, "I can get a truck up here by tomorrow to fill it. We'll just have to avoid using any unnecessary electricity until they get here. If the generator runs all the way to empty, it'll suck any sediment collected in the bottom of the tank into the fuel filter and that will be a real pain."
"Want me to go in and turn everthing off?" asked Devon.
"I'll take care of it," said Sebastian, "We're probably going to need more firewood now. Those space heaters are fuel pigs. Shit. I just realized. If my brother didn't tell anyone he was here, the chimneys in the bedrooms are probably clogged with soot. It'll take hours to get them clean enough to use."
"Is there any reason we couldn't all sleep in the living room for one night?" asked Devon, "I imagine if you really built up the main fireplace, it would get quite toasty in there."
"Hmmm," said Sebastian, "Don't you and Michelle want some privacy?"
Devon laughed, "Putting her off one more night won't kill her. She'll probably blame me for arranging it, though."
Sebastian nodded thoughtfully. Devon laughed again, "Don't tell me this is news to you. I hadn't known Michelle for twenty-four hours before she warned me about you."
"Warned you about me?" Sebastian asked.
Devon's voice rose to a falsetto and a passable impression of Michelle's cadences, "You have to understand about Sebastian. He's my best friend," He held up two crossed fingers, "Like this. Muy simpatico. We talk about everything. Everything."
Sebastian laughed, "She hasn't seen you do that, has she?"
"Dear God, no," said Devon, "Not yet, anyway."
Sebastian led Devon back into the house, "You seem really serious about her."
"Yeah," said Devon, "I like her a lot."
Sebastian didn't say anything as he went from room to room checking switches.
"Well," said Devon, "this is an uncomfortable silence. Is there something you want to ask me?"
"I was just wondering why..." Sebastian didn't know how to phrase it tactfully.
Devon mercifully said, "Tell me. You know her. If I'd slept with her the first chance I got, would I be here today?"
Sebastian shrugged, "I don't know. You might be."
Devon said, "Fair enough. I appreciate your desire not to tell tales out of school. But, I got the distinctive sense that I would never see her again if I took what she was offering. The funny thing was that I went to the party looking for a quick hook-up. But..."
Sebastian nodded, "She's been known to have that effect."
Up in the loft, Devon said, "Can I ask you a personal question?"
"Shoot," said Sebastian.
"Why didn't you ever..." Devon looked uncomfortable.
Sebastian chuckled, "I've known Michelle since I was twelve and she was eleven. It wasn't really an option at that point. She... matured a bit faster than I did. By the time I would have been ready, she was dating my big brother..."
"The one who used up all of the fuel and clogged the chimneys?" asked Devon.
"He's not that bad," said Sebastian, "He just has these bouts of irresponsibility sometimes. There was probably a woman involved. At least, I hope it was just one."
Devon chuckled, "So, what about after that? You and Michelle?"
"She's my brother's ex-girlfriend," said Sebastian, "That would be really weird. Could you imagine knowing that your brother had once slept with your wife?"
"Wife?" asked Devon, "Who said anything about a wife?"
"Anybody home?" called Michelle from downstairs.
"Let's go give them the bad news," said Sebastian, sliding down the ladder that led down from the loft before Devon could comment.
As it turned out, Michelle and Sakura didn't seem bothered by the inconvenience."
"It will be like a slumber party," said Sakura.
Michelle frowned, "What about showers?"
Sebastian considered the question, "It should be fine to run one space heater in one of the smaller bathrooms for a while. The temperature is supposed to drop precipitously tonight, though. So, we should probably get started on those now."
"I'll go last," said Devon, "I'm liable to work up a sweat splitting those logs. I should get back to work on that."
"I still have to call for the fuel truck," said Sebastian.
"Why don't you go first, then," said Michelle to Sakura, "I'm going to enjoy the sunset."
While Sebastian arranged for the truck, he started making some stovetop coffee on the Franklin stove. By the time he was done, the coffee was, too. He made up a couple of mugs and brought one out to Michelle, sitting out on the back part of the wraparound porch. Tracing her line of sight, he saw Devon, outlined against the reds, purples, and pinks of the setting sun, the musculature of his arms and chest clear even in silhouette.
"Enjoying the sunset?" he asked Michelle as he handed her the mug of coffee.
"Definitely," said Michelle emphatically.
"I like Devon," said Sebastian, sitting down next to her, "I realize that it's probably the kiss of death to say so, but I really do."
.... There is more of this story ...