By, Ruby Barrett
Chapter 1: Corrine
1 Week Until B-Day
What do you get the man who has everything? I guess he doesn’t have everything but there’s not a lot that he wants. Wesley is just so very easily pleased, or he wants things that I, as a VP of marketing for a boutique agency, simply cannot get, like: the Red Sox win the World Series, to play for a major league team, or “world peace”. But everything that he wants that I can get him, he already has, or he can buy for himself, and he insists I not get for him.
“What about a tie?” Amy asks.
“Seriously? A tie?”
She shrugs. “Socks?”
“I need new wiper blades,” she says casually.
“Yes, but I’m trying to figure out what I should buy your brother for his birthday.”
“I’m just saying! We have the same birthday!”
We raise our arms in half-hearted participation of the wave rolling through our section and I take a glance over my shoulder to make sure Wes isn’t on his way back to our seats with provisions.
Amy leans across the empty seats between us. “Wes is sentimental. He doesn’t care so much about what you get him. He cares about why. Like if you gave him the movie stub from your first date? He’d probably marry you on the spot.”
Something happens down on the field, maybe the teams are starting play again or someone was streaking. I have no idea.
Wes and I don’t have a first date ticket stub or some meme I could repeat. We don’t even really have a first date. We have a first…sex.
And it’s not even like we can repeat the First Sex, since both of us are no longer employees of the place we did it and would likely be escorted off the property by law enforcement if we were found re-enacting the First Sex in an office that has likely been completely redecorated.
I sigh, loud enough and pathetic enough that Amy frowns over at me as Wes and Jeremy shuffle back to their seats.
“Here you go,” Wes says, handing me a sweating water bottle. He kisses my temple and throws his arm around the back of my seat, as he negotiates eating a ballpark dog one-handed.
“Thanks,” I mumble, twisting the cap and taking a long sip just to be able to do something with my mouth. The stadium erupts as the teams take the field. Men spit and throw fists into gloves and the umpire yells play ball. Wes’s arm leaves my shoulders as he leans forward in his plastic stadium seat, and even though it’s too hot and our seats have been sunlit for the last forty-five minutes I miss the security of his arm.
I never would have called myself a baseball fan before Wes. I appreciated the sport, but loved it? No. Wes made me love baseball. It’s impossible to watch him love something so much and not love it too. Though we’ve never had a first date in the traditional sense, he does have a lot of my other firsts: first Red Sox game, first sunstroke from said Sox game. He’s the first man I’ve let stay at my apartment when I wasn’t there, and the first one to meet my parents. He was the first man I’d ever let kiss me at work.
I sit straight in my chair just as an Astros player hits a line drive down the third baseline, so neither Wes or Jeremy seem to notice my sudden understanding: we give each other firsts. Big ones, little ones. That’s what I’ll get Wesley for his birthday.
Chapter 2: Wesley
6 Days Until B-Day
Corrine jumps so high her butt leaves the stool she’s perched on. She juggles her phone in a catch that could get her recruited for an outfield position and when she finally gets control of it, she slams the phone, screen facing down, so hard onto the marble counter that we both wince.
“You okay?” I ask.
The sunburn has yet to fade from the bridge of her nose, her freckles more prominent than usual and like always I want to trace the constellations they make.
“You just scared me.” She turns her back to me on her stool, hunching over her phone again.
I wrap my arms around her middle, propping my chin on her shoulder and she slams the phone, screen facing down, a second time.
So that’s weird.
“You sure?” I ask. “That you’re ok?” I take stock of her in my arms, compare it to last night. The way she’d been so relaxed, fluid against me. How even after she’d drifted away from me in sleep, we’d kept one point of contact: her foot against my shin, her hand in mine under my pillow.
While Corrine has no problem using her voice at work to get exactly what she wants, she takes longer when it’s between us. Before she asked me to move in, she’d lost three episodes of Jeopardy in a row. I’ve learned to pick up on her cues when she’s letting some thought or problem marinade.
“Are you happy with our sex life?” she asks, her words fast and high.
I spin her on the stool, so she faces me. “Is this because we didn’t have sex last night because if so, I can rectify that.” I start to sink to my knees, pushing her legs apart and tugging at the tie on her robe. We have about thirty minutes before she’ll absolutely insist that she must get ready for work which means I can try to break my record of making her come on a deadline.
“No, Wesley. No.” She pulls me back up by my t-shirt. “I just mean.” She looks to the side, then me, then away again. “Do you ever wish we could experiment or something?”
“I want to do whatever you want to do,” I say. It’s the truth. I’d follow her anywhere. And if that happens to be a sex dungeon, well how fucking lucky am I?
She huffs. “You can tell me. I want to know the things you want.”
“I want you,” I say, but I feel like this is a quiz I didn’t know I was taking, and I am bombing it. “Is there something you want to experiment with?”
“How about this.” She tugs me closer by the waistband of my sweats. “I’ll name some sexual activities and you can tell me if you’re interested in them or not.”
Corrine’s hair is longer than I’ve ever seen it. It falls down her back and shines in the overhead kitchen light and like some sort of fucked in my love for her magpie I can’t help but touch it, play with it, tuck it behind her ear as she talks. “Sure.”
She narrows her eyes. “What kind of breakdown?”
“Tell me the genders of participants.”
I shrug, wrapping her hair around my finger. “Whoever you want,” I assure. “Wait. No one named Amy though.”
She makes the same shudder face as me. “Moving on. What about BDSM?”
“You mean like bondage and whipping and stuff?”
She cocks her head to the side. Classic Corrine Thinking pose. “I’m unsure of the exact technical parameters but for the purposes of our discussion, yes.”
A flush covers my cheeks, as I say, “I wouldn’t mind if you tied me to the bed once and a while.”
Her eyes lose all colour, the black taking over. “You want me to tie you up? Would you want to tie me up?”
I nod. “If that’s what you wanted.”
She bites the inside of her cheek, a far off look on her face. “Okay,” she says slowly.
“Anything else?” I’m not mad about this conversation but I still think we could have used this time more efficiently. I gather her hair in my fist at the nape of her neck and she lifts her chin for me, an unconscious movement, like she’s done it for me a thousand times. Because she has.
She hums as I rub my nose along the column of her neck, inhale the scent of her, sleep and fabric softener and coffee and coconut.
“What about anal?” she says, the words vibrating against my lips and I go still. Straighten slowly.
“Say more,” I say.
A wrinkle appears between her eyebrows. “Just, you know, have you ever done it before? Have you ever thought about…” She trails off.
“Butt stuff?” I supply, unhelpfully if I’m reading the look on her face correctly.
She looks at me like well. And I can wait all day, Mr. Chambers.
“Uh, yeah.” Eloquent. She looks up at me, brow arched, waiting. “I’ve never done it before. Any kind of…” I blush. Because Corrine, in her very Corrine way, has touched on the one thing that I’d probably be too nervous to bring up myself. “I’d be interested. In any way you want,” I say, trying to get my point across while also not really trying that hard at all.
“It would be a first for me. But Corrine.” I cup her jaw, brush my thumb over her mouth, her lips warm. “I’m happy with our sex life. I’m happy with you. You know that, right?”
Something twists inside me, at the idea that she could think I’d be unhappy with her, and deeper, more insidious, the fear that she’s unhappy with me.
She nods, gives me a tight smile. “Time to get ready for work.” She kisses me and slides off the stool, her bare feet padding softly on the tiled floor. Her phone stays face down on the counter and for the first time I’m left wondering: what was she looking that on there? What did she have to hide?
Chapter 3: Corrine
1 Day Until B-Day
That’s weird. The large brown envelope crinkles in my hands as I turn it over. I’ve never ordered a strap-on before, I’ll be honest, but I expected it to be delivered…differently. The envelope is a bit on the small side and while I didn’t go for the Extra Large I still thought it would be bigger than this. Firmer, too.
My stomach sinks as I look at the clock. Wesley will be home soon. I got the notification that the package had been delivered an hour ago and immediately left work so I could get it inside without him seeing it. It was leaning up against my door and as I’d picked it up my neighbor, Mrs. Farley, had cracked open her door to get her own delivery. Mrs. Farley is the kindest, sweetest woman I’ve ever met. Nicer than my own grandmother – who wasn’t that nice so it’s not much of a stretch – and she’d occupied me in chit chat that I’d normally be happy to participate in. Mrs. Farley is only ever looking for someone to talk to. But not today. Today I needed to get my sex toys into the house.
I rip open the package and a pile of fabric falls into my lap. “What the…”
I upend the envelope, shaking it. No harness. No strap on. Just piles and piles of…tea cozies? “What are these?”
Every tea cozy known to humankind is in this envelope. Flower-shaped ones, and owl-shaped ones, and ones with pompoms on top. I hold up a brown tea cozy with mice knitted in relief into the sides. The craftsmanship is impeccable, but I cannot fuck my boyfriend with tea cozies.
I flip the envelope around, a slow sinking feeling in my chest. “No,” I whisper, as I read the name on the front of the envelope. “NO.”
Mrs. Mary-Beth Farley
If I have Mrs. Farley’s package than that means… “No.”
Maybe if I say it enough times I can make it true. It’s no longer a sinking feeling in my chest, more like a crushing feeling. A weight. Pushing me into the ground through every floor of this condo building, through the parking garage, into the earth. Bury me. Please.
With shaking hands, I stuff the tea cozies back into the envelope. I should be more careful, fold them maybe but I don’t have the dexterity. Not when my octogenarian neighbor has a strap on and a harness advertised as “for beginners” sitting in a package in her living room. The best I can hope for is that she hasn’t opened it yet.
It is evil, entirely evil, but for the first time in my life I wish that this sweet old lady has a terrible case of arthritis that prevents her from being able to open anything.
Tea cozies in hand I knock on her door. Then knock again. Mrs. Farley is a bit hard of hearing.
The door cracks open and Mrs. Farley peers up at me, her eyes made bigger by her glasses. “Hello dear,” she says, opening the door wide. “Why don’t you come in for a cup of tea?”
I shove the envelope in her direction. “I think I got your package. And you might have gotten mine. You haven’t opened it, have you…” I trail off as I take in the detritus of packing material on the kitchen counter, but I have to close my eyes when I see the black leather and a purple five-inch dildo.
Why did I order purple?
“Come in, dear,” she says, laying her hand gently on my forearm. “We can get this all sorted out.”
I follow her because that’s all I can do. She seats me at the kitchen island in front of my package and hums to herself as she makes tea. The layout of her apartment is similar to mine though she doesn’t have an electric fireplace and there’s far more carpeting.
“My son bought this place for me,” she says, placing a teacup and saucer edged in gold leaf, in front of me. “It’s far too big but…” She shrugs.
I stare at her. I do not look at the strap on.
I drink. The tea is hot but I don’t care. My brain is in a constant loop of: Processing.
“I haven’t seen one of those in years,” she says.
“One of…” I nod at the package. “Oh. Here are your tea cozies.”
Mrs. Farley takes them, gracious, and turns back to the strap on. “I just wanted to make sure,” she says. “That you know how to use it.”
“That I…” My mouth is dry. My throat is dry. I. Am. Dry. I take another sip of tea.
“You see normally I would have just slipped the package to back on your doorstep. No need to make a big fuss about it. But.” She rummages through the bags, the packing slip. “I couldn’t find any lubricant in your package, dear. And I was worried you might not have any. I’m never one to butt my nose into other people’s bedrooms but if you haven’t done this before, you should know it takes more lube than you might be expecting.”
I cycle through the most embarrassing things that have ever happened to me. There was the time I got my period while on an overnight school trip to the state capitol. The time I threw up in front of Wesley when we still kind of hated each other. The time Richard walked in on us having sex in my office.
Nothing compares to this.
“I…I do have lubricant, Mrs. Farley. Thank you for your concern,” I wheeze.
“Oh grand.” She claps her hands together. “Well then, I think you’ll be alright. Like I said, I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it but I’m so excited to see young people are still experimenting.”
I shake my head, standing slowly, pulling my deliveries closer to me. It’s not that Mrs. Farley isn’t nice. It’s just that if I don’t get out of this apartment in the next thirty minutes my embarrassment will cook me from the inside out and I’ll just melt right here on her kitchen floor.
“Thank you,” I say. “Thanks again.” I mumble my gratitude as I back out of the apartment and as the door shuts behind me, I think I see her smirk.
I scream at the sound of Wesley’s voice and shove the bags behind my back.
“What’s wrong?” He takes a step toward me and I step back. He frowns. “Corrine?”
“Nothing,” I squeak and slip by him without showing him my back. “Just give me a second, ok?”
But he doesn’t give me a second. He follows me into our apartment, down the hall. “What were you doing at Mrs. Farley’s? And what’s behind your back?”
“Nothing. It’s nothing.”
This was the stupidest birthday present ever. I haven’t even talked to him about it yet. I haven’t even confirmed that this is what he meant by any way. “What was I thinking?” I mutter.
He stops in our bedroom doorway, leaning against the frame, knocking his temple gently on the wood. “I’d give anything to know right now, honestly.”
I deflate, sink onto the bed and set the harness and dildo on my lap. Wesley’s socked feet stop between my spread legs. Red, the word BOSTON printed over and over. Literal Boston Red Socks. I had them made custom when he got a promotion at work.
Wesley covers my hands with his, the smattering of hair on his knuckles is comforting. His hands are beautiful and kind and if I’ve fucked this up Wesley will be, too. I must remember that.
I take a deep breath to explain it all in a long rush when he says, “How did you know?”
I look up at him. He’s staring down at the phallus, his thumb moving back and forth over a purple ridge.
“You said any way and I just... Well, I thought I knew but then Mrs. Farley got the package by accident and then I saw you out there and I realized we’d never really talked about it and I didn’t want you to feel pressured and I wasn’t sure anymore.”
He squeezes my hand, my chest squeezing in an answering pulse. “Be more sure of yourself.”
“It was supposed to be for your birthday,” I whisper. Wesley nods. He unbuttons his shirt, pulls his tie off. He stands up in front of me, his belt dangling from the loops.
“Can it be my birthday now?” He runs the heel of his hand between his legs, his cock already straining against the dark fabric of his slacks.
He grins then runs into the bathroom.
“Where are you going?” I yell.
He pokes his head back out. “Gonna shower. Then you can fuck me.”
I pull up the research I’d saved about how to fuck your boyfriend. I need to brush up.
Chapter 4: Wesley
1 Day Until B-Day
She starts on her knees, her hair in a high ponytail and soft in my hands, her mouth hot. She touches me everywhere, up and down my thighs, my tummy, cups my sac. She’s gentle, tender, like she’s showing me now how it will be later. Slow and gasping and covered and sweat. A promise.
My heart can’t slow down, not out of fear or nerves. I’m just excited. And I love her so much, love the way she looks up at me, love the shape of her mouth around me. I love the way she knows me. The way we know each other and that out of all the people in the world I had to walk into that elevator on that day at that minute. And how, every moment since then has led to this one: her palm on my shoulder pushing me back, spreading my legs apart. Her quiet sorry when I gasp at the how cold the lube feels against my heated skin.
Corrine is every dream I didn’t know I had come true. Her nipples begging to be sucked, her hips wrapped in leather and metal. The skin around the harness is already pink and I run my fingers along the seams. Already, I can taste her there, how the skin will be salty and warm, and the sounds she’ll make when I do. Her ponytail brushes her shoulders, and she left her lips red, touched them up maybe, though they’re messy now, smudged, and the sight and the reason for it makes me leak pre-come even before she presses against me with slick fingers.
We stay here long enough for the light to change in the room as the sun sets behind the curtains she’d pulled haphazardly closed. We stay this way until I’m shuddering and each breath feels like this could be the one, this could be the one where I come in my love’s hand.
“Please.” I sound like I need water.
I nod and Corrine moves with the seriousness that makes me love her. She confronts fucking me with the same intensity that she confronts everything that is important to her. The forehead wrinkle appears, and she bites her lip, and I grunt when she presses into me, slow, but what I really want to say is fuck I love you and like that just like that.
“You good?” she asks. Her voice has never sounded like this before, this soft, this sweet.
“Come here.” I reach for and change in her position is like, “Whoa.”
“So good, so, so good.”
She fucks me like this, our mouths open, the taste of her tongue in my mouth, the sound of my moans in hers. Her tit in my hand, all I can do is hold her, hold on for dear life as she pumps me in her hand, as her movements – which started slow and cautious – become surer, confident strokes. I am stretched open, stretched thin. She pulls away from my mouth, her face flushed, cupping her breast. She tips her head back and releases this moan of pleasure, her hand moving down her body to press at her clit against the harness. I can’t handle it, the concept that this woman is fucking me and that she feels this good and that she could maybe come, too. Her pleasure is mine.
“Oh fuck,” I whisper and I come, hitting my chest, my chin. I come in her hand until she’s soaked, until it covers me wholly. I come and I come and I can’t even hear the sounds I make anymore. I can’t even see. It’s just white hot, and the sound of my jaw cracking, and pleasure multiplied again and again, exponential, until I’m gasping.
She pulls out slowly and that is another quiet shudder, tender and sore but so fucking good. I want her to push back in just to feel it again. At some point she leaves, then she comes back. She rubs me down with a warm, wet cloth.
“Give me a minute. Just a minute.” I feel soft, tenderized, boneless. A minute is a lie. I need a week, a month. I need to pick up all the pieces of myself that have been cast aside by this woman and her body and her love for me.
“Take your time,” she says, stroking her fingers up and down my arm. “This is for you.”
That wakes me up. I roll toward her. “If you think I’m not making you come after that, you’ve got another thing…well, coming.”
Chapter 5: Corrine
1 Day Until B-Day
“It’s for your birthday,” I say. “Another first for you.”
He rolls me onto my stomach and pulls at the laces tying the back of the harness together. “How do I get this off?” he mumbles.
“There’s a buckle.”
“Thank you.” Wesley is quiet and concentrated as he pulls the leather from the buckle. Meanwhile, I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I’m on the edge and he could set me off with a well-placed kiss and just the right amount of pressure. I knew I would enjoy it. But I didn’t realize just how much. I loved the way the harness framed my bare ass, the pressure around my hips, against my clit, that became more and more.
“You really don’t have to.”
That’s a lie.
“This was for you,” I say again.
And it was. But god I want his face buried in my pussy. I need to be as stretched out as he was, as full. I’m greedy and selfish because everything I gave him, I want it right back and I’m wild with it.
“This is for me, too,” he says as he gently lifts the leather from my skin. I’m pink, red in some places. I’ve probably had it done up too tight. He rubs his thumb over the irritated skin, gentle, then harder until I gasp. He kisses me, mouth open, eyes closed. My hips, the globes of my ass. He flips me onto my back, spreads me. I’m wet, aching, and he sees. He must see. But he takes his time anyway, kissing and rubbing my skin until it hurts in the best way, his stubble rough and delicious.
“What do you want?” he asks.
“Your mouth.” I gasp when he blows air over my heated skin, his mouth hot but I am hotter. He holds up two fingers. I hold up three.
Wesley doesn’t look away. Not when leans over me, his mouth open, his pink tongue peeking out. Not when I cry out from the first sharp slide of his three fingers inside me. He doesn’t look away when I pull him to me by his hair or when he licks me, pumps me, sucks me. His glasses are skewed and from the glimpse of red as he crawls closer to me – as if he could somehow get closer – he is still wearing his socks.
I was right. All it takes is the right kiss, his tongue messy, the right pressure, firm inside me. I am the one to break contact first as I close my eyes, pull his hair, and come on his tongue.
We know each other well enough by now. He knows when I need him to stop, that I’ll be cold after and he pulls the duvet over us, so we’re cocooned in white down.
“Smells like sex in here,” he whispers, and I laugh. He knows how to make me giggle.
We slide into our positions: his arm under my head, mine under his armpit, his hand on my breast, mine on his hip, his thigh between mine, my foot curled around his calf.
“Technically, my birthday is tomorrow.”
I take his glasses off for him.
“So, you should probably do that to me again. Tomorrow. To make it legit,” he says.
“Easy, tiger.” I kiss him. The slow kind, the kind we’ll do forever. “Let’s wait and see how you feel.”
The air is close, hot. He opens a “vent” which is Wesley for, he untucks the duvet from around us to let fresh air in.
“Should we talk,” he says. “About how we have to move now that Mrs. Farley has seen our strap-on?”
“She mostly just wanted to make sure we had enough lube,” I say.
“Oh, yes. That makes it better.” Wesley rubs me, his hands lingering on the places where the harness straps are still visible. He’s gentle between my legs, asking if I’m sore – I’m not – and I ask if he is – a little.
“Where’d you come up with this idea, anyway,” he asks a while later.
“Your sister, actually.”
Wesley covers his ears. “Oh good golly no.”
I pull his hands away. “She just said, you like the why of a gift more than the what. I realized we have a lot of firsts together. I wanted to give you another. That was my why.”
He grins, his eyes crinkle. “It was perfect.”
Normally, I hate feeling this way. Giddy, gooey inside. I want to be stronger and I want to have control. There’s only one person I want to give it up for.
“Yeah?” I’m proud.
“Best birthday I ever had.”
“Until next year,” I promise.
Thank you for reading! I hope you had as much fun re-visiting Wes and Corrine as I did!
If you’d like to read more workplace romances, pre-order The Romance Recipe releasing from Carina Adores on June 28, 2022, in trade paperback, e-book, and audio!
A fiery restaurant owner falls for her enigmatic head chef in this charming, emotional romance.
Amy Chambers: restaurant owner, micromanager, control freak.
Amy will do anything to revive her ailing restaurant, including hiring a former reality-show finalist with good connections and a lot to prove. But her hopes that Sophie’s skills and celebrity status would bring her restaurant back from the brink of failure are beginning to wane…
Sophie Brunet: grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer.
Sophie just wants to cook. She doesn’t want to constantly post on social media for her dead-in-the-water reality TV career, she doesn’t want to deal with Amy’s take-charge personality and she doesn’t want to think about what her attraction to her boss might mean…
Then, an opportunity: a new foodie TV show might provide the exposure they need. An uneasy truce is fine for starters, but making their dreams come true means making some personal and painful sacrifices and soon, there’s more than just the restaurant at stake.
If this was your first time meeting Wes and Corrine, you can read Hot Copy now.
A meet-cute gone wrong is the start of a surprising courtship in this fresh, modern take on the workplace romance from debut author Ruby Barrett.
Corrine Blunt knows what people think of her—she’s an icy, unapproachable executive. It’s the price she’s had to pay to get to the top. But there’s knowing you have a reputation in the office, and there’s hearing your new intern laugh when someone calls you “Blunt the C*nt” in the elevator on his first day.
She’d hoped to finally find an ally in Wesley Chambers, but she’s not about to let him off the hook for joining the office boys’ club. Taking refuge in the professional boundaries between them, she relegates Wes to assistant work—which would do the trick, if he weren’t so eager to prove he’s a decent human being.
Wes is sincerely apologetic, insisting it was a misunderstanding, and to her surprise, Corrine believes him. Being forced to work together was one thing, but long hours at the office with what turns out to be a kind, thoughtful man soon has their business relationship turning personal, and things get complicated—fast. Could this be something more serious than either of them dared to hope for? Or is their relationship just playing into the harmful power dynamics Corrine’s had to endure her entire career?
You can also read my erotic short story “Our Fragile Mouths” in the Big Book of Orgasms, Vol. 2: 69 Sexy Stories, from Cleis Press.
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For Kiki, a long time coming.
And for Rosie, because it’s romantic.