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Shared by the Firemen

One Year Later

“Good!” Mateo shouted above the sound of the ocean. “Just like that! You are doing it!”
I maintained an unsteady balance on the surfboard, propelled forward by the wave. Two seconds. Three. I was doing it!
Then, in the blink of an eye, I was falling into the water. The cold silence underneath the surface was strangely calming, like the pause between songs on a playlist.
Mateo was there when I resurfaced, his bronze face grinning as he bobbed in the water. “Alyssa! You are a surfer now!”
“It was only a few seconds,” I said, but deep down I felt immense pride at the simple accomplishment. This was our fourth surfing outing, and that was the longest I had ever stayed on the board. It was progress, and progress gave me hope.
“There is something my uncle used to tell me,” Mateo said. “Being bad at something is the first step toward being good at something.”
“He’s a wise man,” I said with a grin.
We tried a few more times, then swam up to the beach. Mateo carried the surfboard as we walked up to the spot where we’d left our towels, nestled in an open space surrounded by tall beach grass. I collapsed onto my towel, tired and satisfied.
“You are improving,” Mateo said, laying out on the towel next to me. “In another week or two, you will have the confidence of a champion surfer.”
“We’ll see,” I chuckled. “It feels good to try something new.”
The sun still hadn’t risen above the trees behind us, so it was chilly now that we were exposed. I grabbed the spare towel, wrapped it over me, and then curled up against Mateo.
“Are you excited about today?” he asked me.
“So excited! I haven’t seen Brandi in two months.”
“I am sorry we are working,” Mateo said. “We should go out to dinner tomorrow. To celebrate.”
“I love that idea.” I kissed him on the cheek and snuggled closer. His body was warm and inviting. I didn’t want to get up and leave, although I knew he would insist on it in a few minutes.
Unless I distract him in other ways.
I casually slid one leg up over his until I felt my knee brush against his crotch. I let out a soft sigh—the kind that I knew turned Mateo on. His arousal was almost instantaneous, a flinch of flesh in his bathing suit, and then the rapid hardening of his cock.
He let out his own, deeper, sigh. A green light.
“Thanks for spending the time teaching me,” I breathed, kissing his neck softly. He tasted like the ocean. “How can I repay you?”
“There is no repayment necessary.”
“Maybe it’s not necessary,” I crooned back at him, “but it’s fun.”
He smiled lustily. “Yes, it is.”
I rolled all the way over until I was straddling him, the towel remaining over me, concealing us. I ground my hips into his crotch and kissed him lazily. Like we had all the time in the world.
“Shall we take this party indoors?” he asked. It was a tempting offer; his place was only a couple of blocks from the beach.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” I said, reaching down and untying the laces on his bathing suit. “And I don’t want to wait.”
Once his cock was freed from his clothing, I pulled aside my bathing suit and sank down onto him. I was already drenched at the thought of him, and his hard length slid into me with ease.
Both of us sighed. An exhale, like a fist unclenching.
I rolled on top of him slowly, enjoying the way he filled me. Mateo reached up and brushed a lock of hair over my ear, then pulled my face down into a stronger kiss than before. Soon I was moving up and down on his stiff length with greater speed, urged on by the way he thrust up into me from underneath.
This wasn’t the first time we’d done this in public, and I was certain it wouldn’t be the last. There was something so intoxicating about having sex in a public area. Even concealed within the tall grass, anyone could walk by at any moment. The towel covered us, and a passerby might assume we were only making out, but still. It felt dangerous.
It was that danger that ignited the fire between my legs, created by the delicious friction of Mateo’s manhood. I gave a few final thrusts, driving my pussy down onto him, and then let out a deeper gasp than before as a quick orgasm overwhelmed me. Mateo gripped my hips tightly in his fingers, fucking me from below a few more seconds. Then he was crying out himself, his moans of ecstasy carried away by the morning wind coming off the Gulf.
We giggled to ourselves and held hands all the way back to his place, then showered together. There was one negative to having sex on the beach: the salt water caused some uncomfortable chafing. But it wasn’t too bad, and it was absolutely worth the fun.
Even though we had all been together for a year now, our sex lives were every bit as strong as when we began. Maybe that was because with three men, and various combinations of group sex, it was tougher to grow bored. Or maybe I had found three men with whom I had amazing chemistry, the kind that would last years.
Or the kind that will last a lifetime, I thought as I kissed him goodbye.
The drive home only took ten minutes. I still thought of it as Jack’s place, even though I had abandoned his guest house and had moved into the house itself six months ago. He was in the kitchen making eggs and bacon, based on the smell.
“How’d it go?” he asked. He was wearing a pair of boxers, but nothing else. The sight made me want to have another round, this time in a bed rather than the beach.
I hugged him from behind. “I surfed for several seconds this time!”
“That’s great!” Jack replied. “Didn’t I tell you it took time? Mateo is always saying that being bad at something—”
“Is the first step toward being good at something,” I finished for him. “Got any eggs for me?”
“Only if you’ve got some eggs for us,” he replied. I felt his chest vibrate as he chuckled at his own joke.
“We haven’t even begun trying yet, and you’re already making dad jokes.”
“Just making sure I’m prepared.” He flipped a fried egg off the pan and onto a nearby plate. “All yours. There’s toast over on the counter.”
I kissed him on the back. “I love you!”
“You seem to say that the most when I’m feeding you.”
“Because that’s when I love you the most!” I replied as I sat down to eat. Our jokes were just that: jokes. Jack and I had been saying I love you since about a month after we hooked up that first time last year, and we both knew we meant it every single time. The same went for Mateo and Liam, even if it took longer for us to say the words.
After breakfast, Jack went out to run some errands before his shift began at the station, so I took Smoke for a long walk on the beach before it got too hot. Then I drove to the store. It was hard to believe that the building in the strip mall parking lot was the same one my mother had worked in; now it was open and airy, with an inviting sign out front:

-Ford Photography-

“Hey there, Ms. Ford!” called Jeremy, one of my four employees. “I was just about to call to get your opinion on the Benning wedding proofs.”
He handed me a tablet full of photos. I quickly scrolled through them. “These are perfect. Except photo number six. Swap it out with the similar one from that cluster—the one where the bride is looking up at the groom.”
“You got it!”
My business had taken off quicker than I ever expected it to. In addition to Jeremy, who worked in-house and did most of the digital editing and touch-ups, I had three other photographers to send out to jobs. My business wasn’t just surviving: it was thriving.
Turns out all I needed were some people in my life who believed in me.
I spent the morning taking care of lots of little administrative tasks. Then, half an hour to noon, the front door opened and a familiar face walked in.
“Brandi!” I squealed, running over to throw my arms around my sister. “I thought I was meeting you at the diner for lunch!”
“I wanted to secretly drop by your store and see how it’s doing!” She hefted a glass baking dish covered in foil. “I made brownies for the boys.”
“Oh,” Jeremy said. “That’s sweet of you, but I actually can’t eat dairy. Or gluten.”
“Fortunately, the boys she’s referring to are down at the station,” I explained.
“Ah,” Jeremy replied, looking vaguely disappointed.
Brandi reached underneath the foil and pulled out a cookie wrapped in parchment paper. “But I did pick this up on the way in. It’s from a vegan bakery. No dairy, no eggs, and they use almond flour!”
Jeremy’s eyes lit up. “Has anyone ever told you you’re the nicest Ford sister?”
“All the time!” Brandi replied.
I pointed a threatening finger at Jeremy. “I’m going to assume you’re just being nice.”
“Oh, of course I am.” He shielded his mouth with a palm and pretended to whisper to Brandi: “I’m not. You’re the best.”
“Come on,” I said. “Let’s drop these off at the station and then get lunch. I’m starving.”
“Worked up an appetite surfing this morning?” Brandi asked.
“That, and other things.”
Both of us giggled on the way to the car.
The fire station was abuzz with activity since we were arriving right around the time of a shift change. Everyone was gathered in the activity room, chatting and joking around. When they all saw Brandi, the voices grew louder.
“There’s our favorite arsonist!”
“Quick, check her for matches!”
“There was a big fire in Jacksonville last week. Was that your work?”
“Don’t make fun of her. She’s just making sure we still have work to do!”
It was all in good fun, thanks to Jack. I knew he had made sure everyone gave Brandi a hard time… but in playful tones.
“First one’s free,” Liam said, hugging my sister. “After that, we’ll start to get upset.”
“Let me assure you: the first one was not free,” Brandi replied with a laugh. “Six months in prison ensured I’m never going to do anything like that again.”
“You say this now,” Mateo teased. “But as soon as someone lights a candle, you are going to feel your pulse race at the thought.”
She stuck out her tongue at him, then they hugged too.
“I baked brownies,” Brandi announced. “As yet another apology for what happened last year.”
“They let you near a stove?” Ellen called.
“It must be electric, not gas,” someone replied.
All jokes aside, the dozen gathered fire fighters dove onto the tray of brownies as soon as Brandi placed it on the table.
“What do you two have planned?” Liam asked. “Aside from—”
“Aside from burning down houses?” I said.
Liam frowned. “Well it’s not fun if you say the punchline before I get to.”
“We’re getting lunch at Diane’s,” Brandi said. “Then we’re going to spend the day catching up. Finally, tonight we’re going to get wine drunk and she’s going to tell me all the juicy details about her relationship with you three. The details she won’t tell me on the phone.”
Mateo’s eyebrows drew down in concern. “You tell her details?”
“Of course she does,” Jack said. “We share details about everything.”
“That is different. That is like comparing notes,” Mateo argued.
“I won’t tell her too much, I promise,” I said. Brandi let out a long boo.
“Fine. Let me use my imagination instead,” Brandi said. “And trust me: I have a very good imagination.”
Suddenly, an alarm went off in the station. White lights on the wall flashed, and a robotic female voice announced a residential fire and listed off an address.
“Got to go,” Jack said around a mouthful of brownie.
“Stay safe!” I said. “Don’t fall through any floors!”
“Wouldn’t dream of it!”
“And if he does, we’ll drag his ass out,” Liam said.
“Again!” Mateo added.
“I promise to stay safe,” Jack argued. Then he lowered his voice and said, “Especially since tomorrow night we’re going to start trying.”
Mateo perked up. “Finally?”
“Hell yes,” Liam said. “About time!”
They all gave me a quick kiss, then hurried away. Ellen jogged by me on the way out, a brownie still in her hand.
“Don’t worry—I’ll make sure they don’t do anything stupid,” she told me.
I squeezed her arm in passing. She and I had an understanding about my three men. I breathed a sigh of relief as the engines drove out of the garage, sirens wailing. Then all of them were gone, and the fire station activity room was eerily quiet.
Brandi lightly punched my arm. “You’re trying? You didn’t tell me that!”
“I was going to tell you tonight! After too much wine!”
“Whose baby will it be?” she asked. “I mean, with three of them…”
“That’s the fun part,” I replied. “We’ll leave it up to chance and see what happens.”
“So does that mean… all three of them… with you…”
I slowly nodded my head.
Brandi took my arm and cackled to herself as we walked out to our car. “You know, sometimes I wish our mother was still alive just so she could see the life you’ve built for yourself.”
“She’d call me a slut,” I said with a giggle.
“She’d be right!” Brandi said.
“Face it, Alyssa: you are a slut. But, like, in the best possible way. I love Kyle with every ounce of my heart, but sometimes I’m jealous of your slutty situation!”
“Just for that, you’re buying me lunch,” I said.
“I get to call you a slut, and the only price is lunch?” she asked. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
The two of us roared with laughter as we got in the car, thoughts of our mother long forgotten.

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