Copyright January 12-February 12, 2005
by Matthew Haldeman-Time

I am writing about men having sex with other men.  You must be eighteen or older to read my fiction.  This site is for consenting, responsible adults only.

animated banner by Leslie Lee

            “Getting frustrated about it won’t help.”

            John glared at Derek, who was standing by the foot of the bed with an infuriatingly reasonable expression.  “I am handcuffed.  To your bed.  And you lost.  The fucking.  Keys!” he shouted, furious with shame and rage.

            “Yelling at me about it won’t solve anything,” Derek said.

            “No, no, that’s true, you’re right, yelling at you won’t solve anything,” John said.  “Maybe getting out of here and then strangling you with my bare hands will!  Find the fucking keys!”  His predicament would have been upsetting enough under regular circumstances, but considering the situation, he thought that a little panic was warranted.  Derek’s calm was outrageous.

            It was typical of Derek to remain casual and unruffled, just like it was typical of John to yell.  John got pissed off and loud, Derek remained laidback and calm; that was their thing, it was what they did.  That was fine, usually.  But tonight, John would have appreciated a little concern on Derek’s part.

            They’d used scarves, in the past.  Nothing serious, just a little light bondage once in a while if they were in the mood.  John got off on it, and Derek got off on John getting off, so it worked out pretty well for both of them.  Tonight, Derek had scrounged up some old handcuffs, and when the metal had closed around John’s wrists, chaining him to the bedposts, he’d gotten so hard he’d forgotten to be concerned about anything else.

            Now that he was sweating and splattered with cum, arms aching, sitting up shackled to the headboard, he was beginning to wish he’d made sure that Derek had the fucking keys!

            “Maybe they’re-”

            “No!” John shouted as Derek stepped towards the door.  “You don’t leave this room without me.  You’re not leaving me here.  I don’t care if you have to take this bed apart to get me free, you’re not leaving me alone.”

            “They’re not my handcuffs,” Derek said, completely naked and unconcerned.  “They’re my brother’s.  When I got them, maybe I left the keys behind.”

            “Call him!” John shouted.  “Call him, tell him to drive by and drop them off, tell him that it’s an emergency.”

            Derek reached for the phone.

            “Don’t you dare tell him that I’m chained to your bed,” John warned.

            Derek smiled at him.  “Okay.”

            John closed his eyes, mentally counting back from two hundred.  He couldn’t believe that he was cuffed to a bed with no way free.  He couldn’t believe that Derek had forgotten to pick up the keys.

            He and Derek had been together for about eight months.  He’d been attracted to Derek’s blond, hazel-eyed, angelic good looks from the start, and despite their basic personality differences they had a lot in common.  But Derek had been a little too flakey lately.  Stalling the elevator, getting them trapped in that basement, now this.

            Granted, both the elevator and the basement had proven themselves to be great places to have great sex.  But there had to be a limit to the number of crazy predicaments two people could get into in one month, and this was pushing it.

            When John opened his eyes, Derek was off of the phone and sitting beside him on the bed.  “Jake will bring the keys by in another hour or so.”

            “An hour?” John demanded.  “I don’t have an hour!  This was the only afternoon I had all week to run errands!  I have to pick up my laundry and go to the bank and-”

            “Your laundry will be fine for sixty minutes,” Derek said.  “You’ve been really busy lately.”

            “I have a lot to take care of,” John said.

            “You’ve been working a lot,” Derek said.  “Late at night, on weekends, over lunch…”

            “It comes with the promotion,” John said irritably.  “Was it my imagination, or did we already talk about this?  I work a lot, my job demands a lot of hours, my promotion came with a lot of responsibility.  I don’t know why you can’t understand that, but if I wanted a nagging wife I’d go find one.”

            “I’m not trying to nag you,” Derek said.

            “Good, then-”

            “I’m trying to get your attention,” Derek said.

            Taken aback, John tried to remember Derek ever cutting him off before.  Derek never interrupted.  Maybe John should take this conversation more seriously.  “Get my attention?” he asked.

            “You’re killing yourself over this job,” Derek said.  “You were before the promotion, and now it’s even worse.  You’re neglecting everything else in your life.”

            “I’m busy,” John said.  “I have-”

            “I never see you anymore,” Derek said.

            “You’re seeing me right now!” John protested.  He tried not to sound frustrated, but irritation was in his voice.  “You know how many hours I have to put in.  I already told you.  What do you want, do you want me to quit my job?”

            “I want you to work reasonable hours,” Derek said.  “Your job isn’t life or death.  No one’s fate hangs in the balance.”

            “Mine does,” John said.  “If I do well now-”

            “You might get another promotion in the future,” Derek said.  “Maybe another after that, and one more after that one.  That means more responsibility, more work, more hours, and for what?  More of the same?”

            “For money,” John said.  “Stability, job security, a solid financial future.  I’d like to be able to retire comfortably someday.”

            “And what about right now?” Derek asked.

            “Right now, I’d like you to find the keys!”

            Derek was unperturbed.  “They’re in the kitchen.”

            John stared at Derek’s placid expression.  “They’re what?!”

            “The keys are in the kitchen,” Derek said.

            “What about your brother?!”

            “I faked the call,” Derek said.  “I wanted to talk to you while you were a captive audience and had to listen to me.  The last two times, the conversation took a left turn and we ended up having sex, so this time I decided to restrain you physically so you couldn’t distract me.”

            “What?!” John almost shouted.  Faked the call?  Captive audience?  The last two times?  “If you’re telling me that the elevator-”

            “Listen to me,” Derek said, looking firmly into his eyes.  “You work too hard.  You work too many hours.  You don’t have to do all of that.”

            “I’m not doing it because I want to do it,” John snapped.  “I do it because my job requires it.  You set me up?!”

            “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time,” Derek said.  “I’ve been watching you work harder and harder, I’ve been watching you put more and more of yourself into your job.”

            “You knew how hard I worked when we got together,” John said.  “You knew exactly how much time my job took.”

            “I can’t take tenth place in your life forever,” Derek said.  “I can’t watch you put me behind everything else.  Your job is demanding, I understand that.  I work hard, too.  But I can’t be with someone I never see.”

            John felt himself tensing at the threat behind those words.  “You chained me to your bed so you could dump me?”

            Derek took a deep breath and looked him in the eye.  “I think that you need to take a vacation.”

            John sat up straight from where he’d been leaning back against the headboard, jerking against the cuffs.  “Go to hell.”

            “You’ve been working too hard, and-”

            “You aren’t getting laid enough, and now you-”

            “You’ve been working too many hours for too many days in a row.  When was the last time you took a Saturday off?  When was the last time you went home before eight?”

            “I have meetings and presentations and conferences and-”

            “You need to take a break, John.  I know how many vacation days you have coming, and I’m telling you to use them.”

            “And I’m telling you to go fuck yourself!” John shouted.  “Vacation?!  Why don’t you just fucking break up with me?!”

            “You’re overworked, you’re stressed out, you’re irritable…”

            “I’m not fucking irritable!

            Derek raised his perfectly arched blond eyebrows.

            John glared at him hotly, almost panting.

            Derek didn’t blink.

            “You can’t do this to me,” John said, his voice low and tense.  “You can’t do this to me!”

            “I own the company,” Derek said.  “I can do whatever I want.”

            John squeezed his eyes shut, thumping his head back against the headboard.  He’d known better.  He’d known that he shouldn’t date the boss.  He’d known that he shouldn’t fuck the boss.  He’d thought that he was responsible enough to handle it, that Derek was too hot to pass up.

            He’d worried that someone would find out, that once people knew they’d start to judge his on-the-job performance; so he’d worked harder, put in more hours, polished every presentation, reworded every memo.  All of his hard work had paid off, and he’d gotten a promotion, but now he wondered if they connected the promotion to his personal life, if they suspected that he was sleeping his way to the top, if they doubted his professional merit.  That only meant that he had to step up his game.

            Now he was being told to take a break?  First a promotion, now a paid vacation?  How the hell was that going to look?

            People knew that they were together.  There were comments, whispers, looks.  Derek never did anything inappropriate in the office, but he wasn’t subtle, either.  He’d dropped by John’s office a few times too often, for one thing.  And even though they’d only gone out to lunch together four times at most, technically John was supposed to be just low enough in the hierarchy to be beneath Derek’s personal notice.

            He’d known that all of this shit was going to come back and bite him on the ass.  He’d known that hooking up with the too-hot, too-young owner of the company meant trouble in a bad way.  But his hormones had made his decisions for him, and now he was chained to Derek’s bed being forced to take a vacation.

            “Maybe we should break up,” he said without opening his eyes.

            “Maybe I don’t want to break up,” Derek said.

            “When was the last time you forced someone to take a break?”

            “Three months ago.”

            Oh.  So this was a habit, then?  “Was he naked and chained to your bed, too?”

            Derek laughed quietly.  John wasn’t in a laughing mood.  “No.”

            “You can’t do this to me!”  He opened his eyes, wishing that he could wrench his hands free.  “You’re compromising me and undermining me.  If you don’t fire me, I’m going to have to quit.”

            Derek shifted in one deceptively casual move to kneel astride John’s thighs.  “I’m not going to fire you.”

            John knew that he was glaring, and didn’t bother to tone it down.  “I knew better than to start fucking someone I worked with, but I just had to start fucking someone I worked for.”

            “That’s because I’m…  What did you call me?” Derek asked, slowly trailing his fingers around John’s right nipple, gaze rising from John’s chest to John’s eyes.  “Irresistible?”

            John wanted to smack Derek’s hand away, but his body instinctively responded to Derek’s touch, awareness racing across his flesh as Derek’s fingers circled maddeningly, torturously close to the tight nub of his nipple.  “Get your hands off of me,” he forced himself to say, furious with Derek, angry with himself.  It was Derek’s fault that he was chained to the bed, but it was his own fault that his personal and professional lives were in conflict.  He’d put himself in this position.

            Derek leaned in close, lips brushing feather-soft against his jaw.  “Make me,” Derek whispered, and kissed his cheek, lightly twisting his nipple.  John closed his eyes, tensing against Derek’s touch, nerves jumping.  “I’m not going to dump you,” Derek said, voice soft, kiss softer, the flat of Derek’s hand rubbing across his chest.  “I’m not going to fire you.”

            With his hands cuffed, and Derek’s weight across his thighs, John felt impossibly helpless.  “Get off of me!”

            The lick of Derek’s tongue along his jaw brought heat to John’s cheeks.  “You need to take a break.  Get away from the job for a week or two.”

            “I am not going to take a vacation because you’re feeling neglected,” John snapped, turning his face to one side to avoid Derek’s kiss.  “My career is important to me.  Get over yourself.”

            “This isn’t about me,” Derek said calmly, lightly running his knuckles up and down John’s chest.  “This is about you working yourself into an early grave.  You can’t devote this much of yourself to a job.  That can’t be all there is to your life.  You have to save time for your family, for your friends, for your other responsibilities, and for yourself.  When was the last day you took any time for yourself?”

            “It takes time, actual working hours, to accomplish things,” John snapped.  “If I stop to smell the roses every damned day, I won’t get as much done.  Do you want me to neglect my proposals?  Drop my presentations?  Skip meetings?  Avoid memos?”

            “I know that you’re busy,” Derek said.  Derek’s fingers stroked John’s forearm; John tried to jerk his hand away but couldn’t get far.  “I’m busy, too.  But there’s a difference between being busy and becoming a workaholic.  People are getting worried about you.  Steve thinks that you’re burdening yourself with too much.  Tracy asked me if we need to hire more people, or if you need more assistants.”

            “They’re talking to you about me?” John demanded.  People were talking.  People were going to Derek about him.  They wouldn’t have said anything if they hadn’t known that he and Derek were lovers.

            “Greg was keeping an eye on you, but he wasn’t going to say anything until he saw you in the office on Sunday,” Derek said.

            “It was only a few hours,” John muttered.

            “How many Sundays in a row?” Derek asked, quietly but with the tone of someone who knew the answer.

            “Everybody knows that I’m the guy giving you head on the side,” John said.  “Excuse me if I think that I have a little something to prove.”

            “How you perform in the office and how you perform in my bed have nothing to do with each other,” Derek said.

            “We got together, I got a promotion,” John said.  “That doesn’t look suspicious?”

            “You got the promotion because you’re a great employee and you were capable of bigger and better things than your old position allowed,” Derek said.

            “They know we’re together!  They’re drawing logical conclusions!  How can that not bother you?” John demanded.

            “No one’s made any negative insinuations,” Derek said.  “The people who’ve let me know that they’re aware of our relationship have been matter-of-fact about it.”

            “You think that they’re going to accuse you?  They’re not going to say anything to your face!  You could fire them!”

            “Has anyone said anything to you?” Derek asked.  The backs of his fingers stroked up and down John’s neck, distracting, and the second John got free he was going to kill Derek for doing this to him.

            “Of course!  We’ve been together for eight months!  Everyone knows about it by now!”

            “What have they said?” Derek asked calmly, rubbing the pad of his thumb across John’s collarbone.

            “They…”  John floundered, agitated.  “They’ve said things, they’ve made comments, they’ve…  They’ve said things!”

            Derek tilted his head to one side, eyes narrowing slightly.  “Like what?”

            “Like…  Kurt said…  Janine…”  He couldn’t think of anything specific, nothing directly derogatory or accusatory, but there must have been something.  “They know that I’m fucking the president and owner.  They’re never going to trust me.”

            “I don’t think that they have the problem,” Derek said quietly, dropping his hand.  “I think that you have the problem.”

            “My problem is that I’m handcuffed to your bed!” John shouted.  He was furious at Derek for this conversation, for this situation, for fucking with him; and he was irrationally pissed off that Derek had stopped touching him, even though Derek’s touch had been driving him out of his damned mind with itching, crawling need.

            Derek kissed him.  “Your problem is that you’re becoming insecure and paranoid.  I think that it’s time for a vacation.”  Derek’s hand rubbed reassuringly over John’s arm, but John didn’t feel remotely soothed.  “If you spend a week at home, you’re going to try to work from home.  Maybe you should go somewhere.”

            John was seething.  “Maybe you should go to hell.”

            Derek kissed his cheek, rubbing the outside of his thigh with one hand.  “You should spend some time at my house on the coast.  It’ll give you a chance to get away, see the sun-”

            “Pay exorbitant airfare rates, get skin cancer,” John muttered, shrugging irritably in a vain attempt to get Derek off of him.

            “You can take my plane and use sun block,” Derek said.  “John, you need to get away for a while,” he insisted, looking into John’s eyes.  “Away from your desk and your phone and your computer, away from the office, away from the city.”

            “What’s going to happen to everything I’ve been working on?” John demanded.

            “Tara and Devon can handle it,” Derek said.  “They should be familiar with all of it.  You can leave them detailed instructions.”  Derek kissed his neck, his shoulder, soft lips, delicately stroking tongue.  John curled his hands into fists, needing to touch, hating Derek and loving Derek and silently begging for the strength to get through this torturous tease.

            “I can’t,” John said.  “I can’t go on vacation right now.  I’m in the middle of too many projects.  Even if I could go, I can’t go at your request in your plane to your summer house.  How the hell is that going to look?”

            “If you don’t want anyone to know that I’m asking you to do this, no one has to know.  Buy your own tickets, rent your own place.  Just go,” Derek insisted, kissing down onto his chest, licking between his pecs.

            John closed his eyes.  “What’s the catch?”

            Derek glanced up, a flash of hazel before he ducked his head and kissed John’s stomach.  “I want to come with you.”

            “No.”  John’s eyes snapped open.  “No!  There is nothing less professional than you going off on vacation and taking me with you!  When I get back, I’ll have no career left waiting for me!”

            “You’re exaggerating,” Derek said between licks.  “John, I know that fraternizing is a serious thing.  If you’re worried about it, you should have told me, instead of avoiding me.”

            “You think I’m avoiding you, you feel neglected, so you want me to run off on vacation with you,” John said, glaring down at the back of Derek’s head.  “How the hell did all of this become about you?”

            Derek was pushing John’s knees to his chest, planting the soles of John’s feet on the mattress, stretching out on his stomach and trailing his fingers over the lines of John’s pelvis.  “You won’t do anything for your own good.  I thought that maybe you’d do it for me.  John, I’m not going to fire you and I’m not going to dump you.  You’re not going to quit and you’re not going to leave me.  That-”

            “What makes you so damned sure?” John asked.  He was breathing hard.  Seeing Derek’s soft pink mouth that close to his dick made his blood hot.  If he could get a fucking hand free, he could push the issue, cup the back of Derek’s head in one hand and guide Derek to his dick, or at least grab his dick and aim it for Derek’s mouth, or fucking do something.  He was helpless, powerless, at someone else’s mercy, and he was so frustrated and so hard he felt violent.

            “That you won’t leave me?” Derek asked mildly, and licked at John’s dick, taking the shaft in one hand and sucking the head into his mouth.

            Stunned, John groaned, snapping his head back against the headboard, grunting with pleasure as Derek swallowed his dick.  “God, fuck, yes…”  Toes curling, he closed his eyes, his body tense under the strain, giving himself over to Derek’s hot, sucking mouth.  “Yes, yes, suck it, suck my dick, god…”  Up and down, suction and stroking, the slide of Derek’s wet lips, the, Jesus, “Harder, suck it harder, yeah, do it, fuck, do it…”  Panting, unable to catch his breath, John moaned, dick throbbing, chest aching, Derek’s head in his lap, his legs over Derek’s shoulders, Derek’s arm winding around his waist.

            Lost in the feeling of it, living in the pulse of his dick, breathing in time with Derek’s rhythm, digging his fingernails into his palms, John cursed with each upslide, his body tightening.  He planted one foot on Derek’s back, his heel riding down the arch of Derek’s spine as he slammed his head back into the headboard again, biting his lower lip to fight off orgasm.  Fuck.

            Suddenly, it stopped.  Derek’s mouth was gone and Derek’s hand was gone.  John’s eyes snapped open just in time to see Derek pushing his legs aside and sitting back, reaching to the nightstand.

            Wet dick painfully hard, struggling with a bone-deep urge to fuck and rut and thrust, John grasped for words.  “What…  You…  Get…”

            “Are you going to do what I want?” Derek asked, squirting lube onto his fingers.

            John didn’t know what Derek intended to do with that lube, and he didn’t even fucking care, he just wanted to get his dick back in Derek’s mouth.  “You can’t leave me like this, you fucking chained me to your fucking bed, you-”

            “Tell me that you’re going to take a vacation, you’re going to relax, you’re going to stop pushing yourself to work ninety-hour weeks.”

            In the back of his mind, John intended to snap that he didn’t work ninety-hour weeks, but the fact was that sometimes he did, and another fact was that Derek was rising up onto his knees and reaching back to oh god lube himself.  Even knowing that it was futile, John had to jerk against his handcuffs, wanting to break free and tackle Derek, push him down to the mattress and drive into him, yank him onto his dick and fuck his gorgeous tight ass.

            Derek’s thighs were splayed, his hard, thick erection rising in a slow arc from a blond thatch, his back arching, heat blushing red up his chest, his eyes closing as his hand disappeared behind his back and his body undulated.

            Another full minute of this, and John was going to break the damned headboard to get free.  Straining, snarling, practically gnashing his teeth, John had never felt so damned thwarted.  He wanted Derek, he wanted to slam his dick deep into Derek’s ass, he wanted to feel Derek’s fit, trimly muscular body against him, he wanted to get his hands on Derek and not let go.

            Derek opened his eyes, testing John with his gaze.  “Are you going to do what I want?”

            “Fuck that,” John said, panting harshly.  “Get over here.”

            When Derek leaned closer, John’s heart jerked in his chest.  When Derek’s lube-slick hand closed around his dick, John cursed against the wild rush.  The brief pump and squeeze had him breathless and frantic and on the edge, and when Derek let go, John had never loved or hated him more.

            Until Derek knelt astride his lap.

            “What are you doing?” John demanded, knowing the answer and needing it to be true but not willing to trust.

            “I’m giving you what you want, so you’ll give me what I want,” Derek said, running his fingers across John’s chest and pinching a nipple, making John gasp.  “It’s a simple business transaction.”

            Helpless to stop it and unable to speed it up, John watched with breathless need as Derek eased onto his dick.  Gripping it with one hand, Derek held it steady, and when the head popped in John groaned, unable to bear the tight, clenching squeeze.  He felt himself go in deeper, deeper, until his dick was buried in hot, contracting muscle and Derek was moaning his name.

            John couldn’t stop moaning, curling his hands around the bedposts and fighting for breath, staring into Derek’s eyes.  The heat there was incredible.  As calm and as casual as Derek was, there was sexual passion within that only came out when they were alone.  John loved pushing Derek to that place, loved to light that flame.

            With one hand behind himself gripping John’s thigh, Derek curved his other hand over John’s shoulder, digging his fingers in and rising up just enough to drop down again.  The movement made John’s eyes roll back in his head; he gripped the bedposts more tightly, sweating and shuddering, making low, feral noises.  Derek did it again and again, finding a rhythm, rising and falling, providing him with the constant friction of a relentless in and out.  The burn of Derek’s gaze was passionate and the clutch of Derek’s hands was so tight it was almost painful, but the sensation of pure fucking was so brutal it was almost deadly.  The intensity of it was ripping harsh groans from John’s throat, and the longer it lasted the louder he got.

            Derek was riding his dick fast, pushing the beat, moaning his name and arching like it hurt.  When Derek’s head tilted back, his long neck was exposed, and John’s gaze traveled down, down his chest, the small pink points of his nipples, the ripple of his abs, the long, thick, hardness of his erection.  Seeing how hard Derek was made John’s own dick throb, and hearing Derek’s moans of fervent pleasure made John louder, more aroused, more aware of exactly what they were doing to each other.

            “Give me what I want.”

            The force of Derek’s low, urgent question cut through the chaos of John’s need.  His eyes focused with new attention on Derek’s face.

            “Give me what I want.”

            It was blackmail.  Derek had him hostage, had his body under siege, controlled the moment.  John struggled for one full breath, licking the salt of sweat from his upper lip and staring at Derek in shock.  “Never.”

            Derek stopped moving.

            John groaned, twisting his hands around the bedposts, unable to believe what was happening to him, frustrated that Derek’s weight was pinning him down and he couldn’t even move his fucking hips.  And then Derek was chest to chest against him, kissing him, making fierce wet love to his mouth, stroking his arms and sides with hot hands.  “Give me,” Derek insisted with quiet urgency, “give me what I want.”

            Desperation had settled into John’s bones.  He needed to fuck, he needed to come, he needed to have his hands free so that he could be back in control of what was happening to him.  He wanted to grab Derek and fuck Derek his way on his terms.

            “Tell me,” Derek said, licking at his mouth and running quick fingers through his hair.

            John broke.  “Anything you want,” he promised, kissing Derek back with feverish greed.  “Anything, just do it.”

            “You’ll take a vacation,” Derek said against his mouth, stroking his neck.

            “Vacation,” John agreed desperately, not caring anymore.

            “You’ll work forty-hour weeks.”

            “Sixty.”  He was desperate, not insane.

            “Fifty, no weekends.”

            “Okay,” fine, whatever, “do it.”  He fed from Derek’s kiss hungrily, twisting against Derek’s hands.

            “Tell me you love me.”

            John opened his eyes.

            Derek grinned.  “Worth a shot,” he said, and then he was on the move.  Rocking, riding, fucking himself and moaning from it, one hand teasing John’s nipples, one hand fisting his own dick.  John was groaning and grunting, sweating and writhing, doing everything but begging Derek for mercy.

            The pleasure and the torture had been so drawn out, John had been teetering on the brink of the final ecstasy for some time.  When the end finally came, it broke through him in an aggressive burst, tearing into him and leaving him a panting, shuddering, moaning, weak wreck.  He was still shivering from it when he felt the splash of cum on his chest and Derek slumped against him, moaning against his neck.

            John caught his breath.  Derek’s body was hot against his.  Derek’s face was pressed to his neck, Derek’s hair against his jaw, Derek’s hands curled loosely against his hips.

            “I’m going to hold you to your word,” Derek said.

            “I know.”  John didn’t have the energy to fight about it.  He just wanted to relax with Derek’s naked body and not worry about anything else.

            “No one in the office has a problem with us being together,” Derek said.  “Except Perry, and he has a problem with everything about me.”

            “I know,” John said.  John was the one with something to prove, but he had no one but Perry to prove it to, after all.  “You should fire him.”

            Derek made a noncommittal noise, idly stroking John’s hip.  “He’s one of the best salesmen we have.”

            John sighed.  “Are you going to uncuff me?”

            Derek raised his head, and his smile made John’s heart skip a few dangerous beats.  “Okay.”  Instead of getting up and going to the kitchen, he kissed John.

            John didn’t even mind.  He kissed Derek back, letting his eyes drift shut.  He was oddly content now, and he wanted to attribute that entirely to post-orgasm lassitude, but…  John opened his eyes.  “I’m in love with you.”

            Derek smiled.  “Now, was that so hard?”
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