Light a Candle

Light a Candle

By the time Ryan got desperate enough to try the bubble bath, the pandemic had been going on for eleven and a half months and it had just snowed eight inches. Desperate times, et cetera.

Feeling sorry for himself for being alone on Valentine’s Day—again—had nothing to do with it. It had just been a long winter, a long year, and a long week at work. Almost a full year of teleworking, and some people still didn’t know where the Mute button was. It was cold out, he was tense, and he needed to try something different.

Options for in-home entertainment were limited, but then he remembered his sister got him some expensive bubble bath as a “joke,” and you know what? His skin was kind of dry, what with the subfreezing temperatures and the wind and the general ick of winter. A bubble bath sounded nice. And if he was going to have a bubble bath, he might as well go all out. He grabbed a bottle of wine from the cellar and poured himself a generous glass.

He should really set the mood. Hell, why not? It was Friday night and he didn’t have anywhere to be. Just because he was his own date tonight didn’t mean he shouldn’t treat himself right. So he set his Bluetooth speaker on the bathroom countertop and cued up…. He had to stop and think about it. What kind of date was he?

In the end he decided he was kind of a stereotype, and selected Marvin Gaye.

There was still something missing, though, even as the jacuzzi tub filled with delightful frothy bubbles. The bubble bath didn’t have much scent. And the overhead lighting was kind of harsh if you were going for a relaxed vibe.

Then Ryan remembered the candle.

He couldn’t remember how long ago he’d bought it—sometime in the Before Times, when you could go to a store and hold things up to your face and smell them. It was a big clunking thing, heavy enough in its glass canister to make two-handing it a good idea, and it smelled like snow and leather and woodsmoke. Ryan didn’t know what it was about the scent, but standing there in the store’s clearance aisle, he’d suddenly found himself fighting a surprise boner.

The candle’s original price was something ridiculous Ryan never would’ve paid… but the glass had a chip in it, so it had been discounted. Fifty percent off, then seventy-five.

He’d put it in his cart, brought it home, and forgotten all about it… until now.

But where had he put it?

A few minutes of searching located the thing in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. He had to pause the search for matches to turn off the tub lest it overflow, but those were quickly found. Carefully, he pried the lid off the candle and set it aside.

There was a note on the top of the candle. Results may not appear immediately. Please allow 5-10 minutes for maximum effect.

Well, that was weird. Maybe something about the composition of the candle meant its scent didn’t really kick in until it had been burning for a while. But no matter. Ryan didn’t have any plans tonight aside from sitting in his amazing tub with his decent wine and maybe jerking off, if Marvin Gaye could get him in the mood. He lit the candle, set his towel next to the tub, and hung his robe on the back of the bathroom door.

Then he flicked off the lights and climbed into the tub.

This was a good idea, he decided immediately, as the hot, silky water caressed his skin. He hadn’t even realized how much tension he’d been carrying around with him.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, leaning his head back. Okay, maybe his sister hadn’t been making fun of him when she gave him this bubble bath. Maybe she’d been looking out for him. Maybe he owed her an apology and a thank-you.

And an inquiry as to where he could buy more products like this.

Shoulders that were sore from shoveling the driveway gradually loosened. His toes, unhappy with being crammed into uncomfortable winter boots, seemed to unjam. Then he remembered he’d brought wine—not just a glass, either; he had the bottle chilling in a bucket next to the tub. It was cold, just sweet enough, and crisp. Very nice. Ryan really knew how to treat a guy.

Even if that guy was himself. Or maybe, he reflected dryly, especially then.

Between the hot water and the wine and the dulcet tones of Marvin Gaye, Ryan felt pretty good. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, basking in it. Yes. This was exactly what he’d needed. A little time to recharge. Some self-indulgence.

He took another deep breath… and this time he didn’t want to stop. The candle’s scent had finally permeated the air, and it was just as good as he remembered. It smelled like the crisp, cool air outside when the wind was heavy with snow, but this was warm. An old-fashioned wood fire crackling in the woods, or in the fireplace of a draughty old house. And then the scent of leather hit—gloves or boots, or maybe a coat, like a bomber jacket or something. Something sexy.

Ryan shifted his legs in the tub, running one hand up the inside of his thigh. Yeah, he was definitely going to put out tonight. He was a sure thing. And with the bubble bath slicking the water, he might not even get out of the tub to do it.

He was just debating whether to reach for his dick now or tease himself a little more first and really draw it out when the candle sputtered, the bathwater splashed, and something heavy landed between his splayed legs.

Ryan attempted to scramble backwards, shocked, but with the bubble bath making the tub so slippery, he only succeeded in sloshing water everywhere. Well, that and making room for the tub’s second occupant, who was now lounging in stomach-deep water, his shapely calves bracketing Ryan’s legs.

Either Ryan’s wine was more potent than he’d thought or he’d seriously leveled up his fantasizing skills.

“Right into the bathtub, eh?” the guy said. He was naked. Ryan had never in his life described another man as a fuckboy, but this one clearly was: carefully groomed facial hair, unusual choice in tattoos, abs for days. Far too handsome and he knew it too. “Normally I like a little warming up first, but I can dig it.”

“Um,” said Ryan, carefully moving his hands so they were visible on the sides of the tub. Nothing to see here. I definitely wasn’t just about to jerk off. “Hi?”

Surprise Fuckboy flashed him a perfect, slightly predatory grin. It actually worked for him. “Hey,” he said huskily. “What’s your name?”

“What’s my name?” Surely Ryan should be the one asking that, since this was his personal bathtime this guy had intruded on.

The naked guy propped his elbow on his knee and leaned forward, batting his eyelashes outrageously. “Oooh. Do you want me to guess?”

“Do I—no,” Ryan said. “Who are you? How did you get here?”

“You called me here, big boy.” Ryan had the sudden urge to put his hands over his groin. “The candle? The fantasy?” He raised an eyebrow. “You did light the candle, didn’t you?”

What did the candle have to do with anything? “Yes.”

“Well, there you go,” he said as though this explained everything. “You called, I answered.” Then he looked closer at Ryan’s face, and his posture changed, back hunching a bit, arms coming in to cross over his chest. His cheeks flushed. “Uh. You did know what the candle does, didn’t you?”

Ryan swallowed. Was this guy saying what he thought he was saying? “Are you some kind of… what, candle genie?”

“Oh God, you really don’t know.” He laughed a little hysterically and ran his hand back through his hair, putting his curls into disarray. Improbably, they actually looked better like that. He cut his eyes to the side and seemed to say to the bathroom wall, “This has never happened to me before.”

The guy was actually embarrassed. Which made Ryan feel bad. It wasn’t like his appearance in Ryan’s bathtub was unwelcome, just unexpected.

And, well, they definitely weren’t sitting six feet apart.

It seemed like it was a little late to be upset about that, though. “Look, uh. Why don’t we start over. I’m Ryan. I own this bathroom. I’m a Pisces.” Was it okay to inject levity into this conversation? Whatever. A guy had just dropped nude into his bathtub. He reached for his wine and took a deep sip. “By day I design houses. By night I hang out in my house horny and alone, debating surfing Grindr for someone to sext with because it’s a pandemic and I’m not going to risk my life to get laid.”

The hottie in the tub blinked at him.

Ryan said, “Your turn.”

Smiling now, he uncrossed his arms and leaned back in the tub, stretching his own arms out on the top so that their fingers nearly touched. “All right. I’m Tyler. I’m not a candle genie, Christ, that’s not a thing.” His brow furrowed. “I don’t think that’s a thing. Anyway. I’m a, um. I guess you’d call me an incubus.”

Ryan’s mouth dropped open. “I’m sorry, a what? Like, a demon who seduces people in the night?”

“I’m not a demon!” Tyler protested. “And you’re the one who called me here.” He gestured at the candle, the bubble bath, the wine bottle chilling in the bucket… the speaker currently blasting “Let’s Get It On.” “And you’ve got a lot of nerve calling me the seducer here.”

Now Ryan was the one flushing. “Uh. Sorry. I guess that was pretty rude. But in my defense, I wasn’t expecting lighting a candle to actually summon company.” When Tyler grimaced, he hastened to add, “Not that I’m disappointed! A little, um, concerned? Both that I’m having a psychotic break and that I’m going to get COVID.”

At that, Tyler smiled slightly—not quite like he had before, but a smaller, more genuine thing that, yes, made him even more attractive. He had very nice eyes, Ryan noticed, a sort of changing brown-green, lively and quick and thick-lashed. “I don’t know how to reassure you about the first thing. But the second, well, look, I’m a magical entity. I’ve never even had the sniffles.”

Strangely, Ryan believed him. Why wouldn’t he? The guy had come out of a candle. “Can’t carry the plague” didn’t seem like much of a stretch after that.

Besides, it would be rude to kick him out now. They were just getting to know each other, and Ryan already had the guy wet and naked.

And now that he was paying attention, the slightly hairy rasp of Tyler’s calves against his skin felt incredible. It had been so long since someone touched him.

Fuck it. A hot naked guy who was DTF had landed in Ryan’s tub. He wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the dick. He reached for the wine bottle. “In that case,” he said, “can I offer you a drink?”

He hadn’t brought a second glass, but this didn’t deter Tyler in the least. He beamed. “I’d love one.” He shifted his legs, drawing his foot up the side of Ryan’s thigh, and then leaned over to grab Ryan’s glass.

Swallowing, Ryan followed his cue and refilled the glass, then set the bottle back in the ice bucket.

Then Tyler settled on his knees, one on either side of Ryan’s right leg, not quite touching, and held the wineglass to Ryan’s lips.

Ryan drank. He kept his eyes on Tyler’s, watching Tyler watch him, cataloguing the banked heat there.

Finally Tyler pulled the glass away, set it aside, and leaned down to kiss him.

Ryan raised his hands to cup Tyler’s face as Tyler kissed the wine right out of his mouth. A second later his knee slipped on the bottom of the tub and almost ended in disaster, but Ryan managed to pull him into his lap rather than incur a knee to the groin.

Tyler smiled against his mouth, sweet enough Ryan could taste it, and pulled back just far enough to speak. “That’s very forward of you, Ryan, I’m not sure I’m that kind of girl—”

Ryan bit his chin and squeezed his ass. Then he did it again. It was a really nice ass.

“I might be that kind of guy, though,” Tyler allowed, and then he kissed Ryan again.

It turned out Tyler was exactly that kind of guy. Thank God. He settled his weight comfortably on Ryan’s thighs and continued kissing him stupid, licking deep into his mouth. His surprisingly soft beard felt prickly-smooth against Ryan’s skin, and it smelled like tobacco and vanilla.

Ryan braced his feet on the bottom of the tub and fumbled blindly for the bubble bath, which he managed to pour into his palm. When Tyler started mouthing down his jawline, he managed, “Should I—”

Tyler smiled again—Ryan could feel it—and pointedly thrust his hips forward until their cocks brushed. Ryan hissed in pleasure. Tyler said, “Absolutely.”

Well, he wasn’t going to wait for the invitation to come in writing. Urging Tyler closer with the hand on his ass, Ryan wrapped the other around their erections.

The silken feel of Tyler’s skin against his was already overwhelming. The addition of the pressure of his hand, the movement, had him breathing hard as Tyler panted against his neck, fucking into Ryan’s grip.

After nearly a year, Ryan knew he wouldn’t last, and Tyler had found that sweet spot on his neck that always made him wild. He could feel it coursing through his blood—not just the alcohol and the heat of the water but the intoxicating effect Tyler had. His pulse thrummed under Tyler’s tongue.

“Tyler—”

Tyler bit down, gently, then firmly laved the bite.

Ryan’s dick pulsed tellingly.

“Don’t hold back on my account,” Tyler murmured in his ear. “Come on, babe.”

Groaning, Ryan stroked them faster. The bubble bath was thinning quickly, and there was almost too much friction now—but then Tyler thrust against him harder, his ass flexing under Ryan’s hand until his fingers slipped back to Tyler’s crease.

They weren’t getting any farther than that—not without intention and lube—but that didn’t seem to matter to Tyler. He groaned and stilled with his teeth grazing Ryan’s ear, and Ryan felt it when he came, in his hand and against his cock. He followed helplessly, pressing his face to Tyler’s shoulder, probably gripping his ass hard enough to bruise.

Well. That was quick, Ryan thought, self-conscious.

Tyler seemed unbothered, though, sinking lower again and pulling Ryan into another kiss, this one satisfied and languid. It went on until Tyler’s knee slipped again and they once more escaped disaster by the skin of their teeth.

Laughing, Ryan maneuvered Tyler so they could lie facing each other, propped on their hips. “Water’s getting cold anyway,” he said ruefully.

“Also,” Tyler pointed out, “it’s got jizz in it.”

He had a point. “Shower?” Ryan offered hopefully.

Tyler grinned. “Thank you, I accept.”

The second time around, neither of them had anything to be embarrassed about.

In the morning, Ryan lay in bed smiling, certain the whole thing had been a very pleasant dream. It must’ve been, right? Too much wine, too much hot water. It’d gone right to his head. Who ever heard of a candle that summoned a booty call? One who just happened to be immune to plague. Very convenient. He’d obviously been binge-watching too much questionable TV.

But when he got up to go to the bathroom, the shower door was still open. The floor was wet; he had a sudden flash of Tyler laughingly dripping all over it because the bathmat wasn’t big enough for two. He looked to his right and—well, there was an assprint on the wall; he remembered Tyler pushing him up against the it and kissing him goodbye, thanking him for a good time. And then he’d blown out the candle and vanished.

Two damp towels hung on the back of the door.

Blinking in realization, Ryan picked up the candle. It still smelled incredible, and the aroma of snow and leather brought him powerfully back to last night and his sudden lapful.

There was still about three-quarters of the candle left.

With a smile, Ryan set it back down next to the bathtub. For once, he already had plans for next weekend.

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