What We Leave Behind

He thinks he's gotten over the death of his lover, Thom, to cancer. But mostly he's just been hiding inside himself, and it's working just fine for him. Until Seth shows up in his kitchen with a big white dog named Annie in tow. And as much as he tries to resist it, his heart--and the rest of him--is just about to get cracked wide open...

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I realize I’m not listening. What I’m doing is eying Seth’s back, the curve of his shoulders and hips. This realization makes me want to fuck and cry. While Thom was dying I looked at everything—everything—that walked by. I didn’t touch; that was our rule. But, Jesus, I don’t know if I’d ever been so horny in my life. We fucked some, then, almost to the end. Thom joked we were like pregnant women or little old ladies. He was afraid I wasn’t attracted to him anymore; I was afraid to hurt him.

Near the end, sex took on this ritual: I would lie next to Thom, barely touching, and we would kiss. Just our lips and tongues. His lips still silver-soft from the chapstick he was addicted to. And then I would suck. As much as he was ashamed of his body at the end, he was always proud of his cock. I’m so grateful for that, that he had something to be proud of, always.

And I loved to suck him. The only part of his body that didn’t lose its weight, that stayed full and heavy and alive in my mouth. I’d run my tongue up the ridges and veins. Play over and over the soft curve of his head until his sighs changed from the long, slow release to a near-pant. Until he lifted his hips off the bed and put his fingers in my hair and said my name, over and over. And then, sometimes, he could fall asleep without the pain meds. Sleeping then, he looked like my Thom again. If I squinted, I could pretend I didn’t see the IV poles, the hospital bed, the meds and tissues scattered around the living room. I could pretend he was just napping in the middle of the day.

And then the truth would come back and I’d go down to the laundry room and put already dry clothes in the dryer. Beneath the loud clunk-clunk of jeans and t-shirts, I’d masturbate, hard and fast, without lube, chafing my skin into some kind of pain. Sometimes I came. Sometimes I just cried.

But after Thom died, nothing. It was like my libido got dressed up in its best clothes, and laid down to be buried somewhere between Thom and Bella. For it to come back now, sudden and with such force that my cock tightens in my jeans, it wrecks me.


Shanna Germain’s What We Leave Behind

“In Animal Attraction, the best is saved for last. Shanna Germain's tale of "What We Leave Behind" is the final story in the book, and rightfully so—her narrative about death, living and making it through both is hauntingly real. You know you've read good erotica when the story lingers long beyond the page, when you can move past the sexual tension but never shake free of the emotional impact. Germain's story is that rare contradiction: a straight-up shot of tenderness that will knock you on your ass. It's the perfect end to a fantastic collection.”
—Gwen Masters, Clean Sheets

“While several stories in this anthology touch on the emotional healing pets can bring, "What We Leave Behind" by Shanna Germain is absolutely stunning. Not only does she show the healing power of pets, but also sex. It is beautiful and sad and hopeful – a difficult combination to deliver, but Ms. Germain deftly crafted a winner.”
—Kathleen Bradean, Erotica Revealed


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