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Marco bit down where my neck met my shoulder, and I moaned into Jake’s mouth, pressing him into the tree at his back. I was pulsing between my legs, hot and urgent. I clamped my legs around Jake’s thigh and kissed him deeper.

That was when I became very, very aware of a firm bulge against my butt, and another one against my hip. I froze.

It’s fine, Quincy said muzzily. He was up on a branch around the height of my head. Merl was grooming his fur with her beak, Dia draped around them loosely like she was melting off the branch from how good it all was. They’re just erections.

I know they’re erections, I thought. But it’s one thing to know what an erection is, and another to have two of them right up in my business.

Quincy gestured lazily with a wing. They’re not up in your business yet.

“Argh!” I said, banging my forehead into Jake’s collarbone.

Jake rested his hands on my shoulders. “Hey. What’s up? Are you okay? You keep looking up at Quincy.”

Am I okay? God, I am SO turned on. But this is way too much to have up in my business, Quincy!

Oh my God, just use your hands, you don’t have condoms anyway, Quincy said, throwing himself on Dia like a tiny brown shawl.

Hands, I thought, a little dazed. I brought one of Jake’s hands to my mouth and started kissing it. He has great hands.

“Nnng!” Jake said. Marco reached from behind me and started groping my right breast under my T-shirt. My first instinct was to slap his hand away and tell him to stop being fresh, but Quincy startled wriggling around on Dia and saying, mmmm, I feel nice, and while Marco was squeezing me way too hard, I decided I did want to get fresh. So I stopped kissing Jake’s hand and slipped it up my shirt. His eyes widened and it looked like that scene in Pulp Fiction when the chest opens and the criminals’ faces are lit up by that mysterious glow inside it. Jake and Marco were really clumsy and rough, but it was nice to feel like some kind of amazing, unknowable gold light. I leaned back into Marco a little – not too much, he couldn’t take my full weight – and reached for Jake’s face. There, kissing. That part he was getting better at. Marco was kissing up my neck from behind and Jake held my jaw very gently and licked slowly into my mouth.

Up on the branch, Dia wriggled around, making the leaves rustle.

The pulse between my legs came back, and I was just thinking about how nice it would be to grind on Jake’s thigh again when Jake’s hand drifted down to the button of my jeans. “Can I?” he said, breathless.

Hmm, I thought. It would be really nice to grind down on his hand instead. I nodded. Jake bit his lip and opened up the button and zip. Then he shoved his hand into my underwear and started mashing around with his fingers like he was trying to shoot up a bunch of enemies on his video game controller.

Quincy shrieked in outrage, fell off the branch, and had to beat his wings hard to keep from falling. He got back up on the branch a good distance back from Merl, teeth bared. Stung, Merl hopped backward to hide behind some leaves. I yelped, staggered backward, and tumbled both me and Marco to the ground.

Jake looked down at me, horrified. “What did I do?”

Marco and I helped pull each other to our feet. Marco crossed his arms. “Yeah, Jake,” he said. “What did you do?”

“You can’t just DO that!” I yelled.

“What? Fingering? I thought girls liked that,” Jake said, turning bright red.

I rolled my eyes, leaned back against the tree, and said, “Not like that. Like this.” I put my hand in my own underwear and cupped myself so I could roll my hips down against my palm. I closed my eyes and sighed. Oh, that was so much better. When I opened them again, Marco was brick red, and Jake was looking down at his fingers, wet from where he’d poked at me, with that Pulp Fiction look on his face.

Hopefully, he said, “Can I try again?”

“Nope,” I said. “You haven’t earned my trust back.” I flexed my hand inside my underwear and bit my lip. “You could. Um. Give me something to look at?”

“I’m gonna have to be drunk before I do a strip tease,” Marco said, “and we’re out of limoncello.”

I laughed. “I don’t want a strip tease. You could. Kiss and stuff? I like it when you do that.”

Dia said, “Get over here, you idiot,” and Merl came out from hiding and pressed her forehead to Dia’s.

Marco grinned and crushed himself into Jake, kissing his collarbone because it was all he could reach. Except it wasn’t the only thing he could reach, after all, because suddenly he was grabbing at the bulge in Jake’s cargo shorts, and Jake clutched Marco’s head against his neck and said, “Ngh, yeah, do it.” Marco unbuttoned the shorts and reached in, and I saw that while Jake, like me, had figured out how to morph clothes, he hadn’t yet figured out how to morph underwear. Marco moved his hand slowly up and down, biting kisses into Jake’s neck, and I made an embarrassing squeaking noise as if I was Quincy and curled just the tips of my fingers into myself. Not as embarrassing as the sound Jake made ten seconds later, though, when his hand went tight around the back of Marco’s neck and he had a messy orgasm all over Marco’s hand.

“Oh, God, I’m so sorry,” Jake stammered. “I should’ve – I can’t believe I –”

Marco looked up from his dripping hand to Jake’s red, sweaty face. “Are you kidding? That was awesome! Do me now!” He wiped his hand off on the tree and struggled to roll down his bike shorts over his erection. I giggled and rocked against my hand, excited to see what Jake was going to do.

Which was when Mertil came crashing in through the underbrush, then skidded to a halt in the wet leaves.

“YAAAAAHH!” Dia cried, and fell off the branch onto Marco’s head.

“ACK!” Jake yelled, covering the open fly of his shorts with his hand.

«By all the bloody tails of Crangar!» Mertil swore.

I just turned around and hid my face against the trunk of the tree, hoping that if I didn’t look at Mertil he would just disappear.

«First you asked me to advise you on your sexual preferences, and now I must see this?» Mertil said, outraged. «Surely humans are not so disgusting as to perform sexual acts with no consideration of privacy or decency!»

“We won’t do it again, I swear!” Marco said.

“Please don’t tell my parents,” Jake whimpered.

Mertil said, «I will not tell anyone, as I will endeavor to forget that this happened the moment you are out of my sight. Do not force me to purge my memory again.» I heard the sound of hooves through fallen leaves again, and I turned around and slid down the tree to sit on the ground.

“Quincy,” I whined, and Quincy flew down from the branch so I could hold him against my face and maybe never look at another sentient being again.

“So,” Marco squeaked. “That maybe… wasn’t the best idea.”

“We are never making out in Kref Magh again,” Jake said fervently.

“I am never doing anything sexy again. I’m just gonna see that look on Mertil’s face and it’ll be instant death to any hard-on for the rest of my life.”

“I’m sorry,” Jake said. “This was all my fault.”

“Obviously. For being so stupidly hot we can’t resist you.”

I put Quincy down in my lap and looked up at Jake. Merl was on his shoulder, hiding her head in his hair. “I still like you,” I said. “But for now, let’s just cuddle or something. Okay?”

“Okay!” Marco said, throwing himself down on the ground next to me. “Move over, Dia.” Dia slithered off his shoulders so I could lean against him. Jake lay down with his head between us, Merl perched on his chest, and spread his arms out over our legs.

The trees near us rustled, and we all flinched and cringed. Merl squawked like a scared chicken. We looked up. It was Bek, the Hork-Bajir we rescued as a kid, a year and a half ago. He grinned at us, and I swear he winked. But then he moved on, thank God, without saying a word.