He doesn’t speak as I slide the skin-warmed ring from his finger and inquire softly, “Why do you let them bind you like this?” Next I loosen the silk tie and toss it onto the floor, and it seems his chest swells with a relieved inhalation. “Why do you let them control you? Are you nothing but their puppet?” Now his shirt, button by button until the cloth slips off tense shoulders. “No, Tanim,” and his belt, his pants, until there is nothing left between us but bare skin, “this is who you are. Right here.” His body is eager and pliant as I press him down, hands sliding from his shoulders to capture both wrists. I can feel his hunger as he moves beneath me, desperate to mold our bodies close as possible, and yet still he argues, “I can’t…” so I tighten my fingers around his wrists and lean over, feeling the bones shift as they take my weight. “You mean you shouldn’t.” His lips part for mine as I shape the words against his mouth. “Forget them, Tanim. In the morning you’ll go back to that world. Tonight you’re mine.” The groan rising in his throat softens to a sigh and he breathes, “Please…” as he strains to taste any inch of reachable skin along my jaw, down my throat, across the wing of my collarbone. He doesn’t say please what but he doesn’t need to. I know what he wants, what he needs. Here he is mine; mine in the darkness, in the heat of our entwined limbs, in the silence stirred only by our wordless moans, and only I can give him the release he craves. This is where he belongs, not in that other world of judgment and inescapable duty. In the morning he will return there but tonight he is mine and I will make the most of the precious, fleeting hours we share.


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