Tag Archives: love

How To Denigrate Multiple Iconic Romances In A Single Comic

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I love romance. I also love comics. I’ve made my fondness clear for both on numerous occasions. When they’re combined, I’m twice as thrilled. It has proven to be a very potent combination before. Like real life, comic book romance isn’t always done right, but when it works, it’s a beautiful thing.

That’s what I had hoped to see with the release of X-men Gold #30, which was billed as the overdue wedding between Kitty Pryde and Colossus. They’re one of the X-men’s most prominent romances, having a history that spans decades and includes death, resurrection, and being trapped in a giant bullet. I swear I’m not making that last part up.

Earlier this year, I detailed why the Kitty/Colossus romance was so special in annuls of X-men lore. It’s one of those romances that isn’t assumed like Superman and Lois Lane. They have to actually work to make their relationship strong, which makes it feel more real than most superhero couples.

It’s why I had such high hopes for X-men Gold #30. It promised to reward these characters for their love and the work they put into it. Being the romance fans I am, I’m a strong believer in having that kind of effort pay off for a couple.

Sadly, and this was spoiled before the comic even came out, that’s not how things played out for Kitty and Colossus. I don’t mind spoiling it, either. Kitty and Colossus don’t get married. Kitty, for reasons that are more asinine than I can put into words, gets cold feet at the last possible second and calls it off.

She doesn’t even wait until she and Colossus are alone so she doesn’t create this mass spectacle that is sure to humiliate and hurt someone she loves in a very public way. She actually gets to the point where Colossus is about to put the ring on her finger and that’s where she stops it. Short of punching his jaw after being told he can kiss the bride, it’s one of the worst things she could’ve done to this man.

On top of that, Kitty was the one who proposed to him. This isn’t a case where a man pressures a woman into marrying someone or a woman feels pressure from her family and peers. The idea, request, and desire to get married came from Kitty and her being the one to call it off like that, after her friends and family did so much to help her, just makes her look more callous than an entire army of Lex Luthors.

I wish I could provide some context to her decision. I really do. I just can’t find a believable way to make her decision anything other than an act of heartlessness, cruelty, and cowardice. There were no hints, whatsoever, in the events that led up to the wedding that would imply Kitty was having second thoughts. In fact, the events of X-men Gold #29 doubled down on her love for this man.

Then, in just one scene that played out early in X-men Gold #30, it all comes apart thanks to a short, unspectacular conversation with Colossus’ sister, Illyana “Magik” Rasputin. It’s not dramatic. It’s not that revealing, either. Again, I don’t mind spoiling it.

Magik just reminds Kitty that she and Colossus had to overcome a lot in order to get to this point. She also throws in that, if they were meant to be, it would’ve happened already. Bear in mind, Magik is considered one of Kitty Pryde’s closest friends on top of being Colossus’ sister. Even if that remark could be attributed to her alcohol intake, it’s still a terrible thing to say to someone who is about to get married.

It’s one of those comments that shouldn’t have derailed a couple that has worked so hard to be together, but it did. Seriously, that’s all it took to convince Kitty that she had to stop the wedding, in the middle of the ceremony, and in front of all her friends and family. Considering she’s supposed to be a leader of the X-men and one of the toughest female X-men of all time, it’s pretty pathetic.

Her decision and terrible timing, alone, could’ve made X-men Gold #30 one of the least romantic stories in the history of the comics. I still wouldn’t have put it on par with some very disturbing romantic sub-plots that played out in some Spider-Man comics. If breaking off a wedding was all this comic did, I would still appreciate it for how it imparted so much heartbreak into a story.

However, it gets even worse than that. It wasn’t enough for X-men Gold #30 to undermine one of the X-men’s most likable romances. It actually succeeded in denigrating the entire concept of romance in superhero comics. I know that sounds like an exaggeration on my part, but I’m dead serious.

Yes, Kitty and Colossus don’t get married in this issue. However, a marriage does occur and it is between another iconic X-men couple that I’m actually really fond of. The lucky couple here is Rogue and Gambit. If you watched the old X-men 90s animated series, you understand why that’s a big deal.

Now, I could write several articles on the quirks of the Rogue/Gambit relationship. It’s another one of those romances that has become iconic in its own right. I would even go so far as to put it slightly above the Kitty/Colossus relationship, if only because both characters have had to deal with some pretty unique obstacles, the least of which involves Mystique being Rogue’s adopted mother.

In the context of X-men Gold #30, though, those various quirks don’t really play into the moment. They haven’t even played into any of the events throughout X-men Gold that led up to this wedding. In fact, they only recently rekindled their relationship in a mini-series called “Rogue and Gambit” by Kelly Thompson, which I highly recommend.

Even with that development, though, them getting married at this point would’ve been rushed, forced, and downright inappropriate, given what just happened to Kitty and Colossus. It would’ve given the impression that someone had to get married in this comic. It didn’t matter who, why, or for what reason. It just had to happen to salvage the issue.

To hell with crafting a story that documents the emotional journey two characters make to get to that point. Never mind the fact that other iconic couples have gone on that journey and made for some of the most memorable moments in the history of comics. Just having Rogue and Gambit randomly decide, on the spot, to get married should carry the same weight. If I could write that with more sarcasm, I could.

Again, I want to make clear that I like the Rogue/Gambit relationship. I’m glad their romance is evolving, once more, especially after some of the other characters they’ve been stuck with. The way it was handled, though, and at Kitty and Colossus’ expense, no less, was just downright demeaning to the very concept of meaningful romance.

It sends the message that romance is as interchangeable as a box of frozen burritos. If one doesn’t heat up right, then another one works just as well. It’s not like they’re unique, having unique emotional dynamics and personal journeys specific to multiple characters. One is no more special or meaningful than the other. Again, if I could write that with more sarcasm, I would.

What happened to Kitty and Colossus in X-men Gold #30 was tragic, but it didn’t undercut romance in superhero comics, as a whole. As soon as Rogue and Gambit were randomly thrust into the moment, doing on a whim what took other couples so much time and effort, the whole issue undercut any deeper meaning that both romances had going for them.

Great romance, especially those that go onto become iconic, can’t be the kind of exchangeable gimmicks that can be sold as easily as plastic cups at Costco. Great romance is like the cookies you bake with your grandmother from scratch. There’s work, patience, and a deeper personal touch to the effort.

I get the appeal of throwing in a major twist. Comics, movies, and everything associated with M. Knight Shyamalan have been doing that for years. That appeal isn’t there in X-men Gold #30 because it comes at the cost of treating romance with the same recklessness as super-villains treat their henchmen.

On it’s own, I thought X-men Gold #30 was just really disappointing for how it handled Kitty and Colossus. However, it’s the precedent and the implications that leave me concerned for the future of romance in comics, particularly Marvel. If this is how love is treated, as something easily cut and pasted into a plot, then I worry for other comic book couples that may face similar denigration.

Here’s to hoping that the upcoming wedding between Batman and Catwoman sets a better precedent.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Love Or Obsession, Marriage and Relationships, romance, X-men

How To Make Love To An Artificial Intelligence And Why We Should Teach It

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To some extent, creations embody some aspect of whoever or whatever created it. Whether it’s a parent rearing a child, a painter crafting a work of art, or an aspiring erotica/romance writer crafting sexy stories, there are some aspects of a creation that reflect the persona of the creator.

For something as powerful as advanced artificial intelligence, that can be a good thing or it can literally be the worst thing we’ve ever created. While I often find myself contemplating the progress we’ve made as a species and the progress we’re poised to make with advances in technology, I don’t deny that some advances carry greater risk. Artificial intelligence is near the top of that list.

Like it or not, any advanced AI we create is going to embody some aspects of its human creators. The key is making sure it embodies the best humanity has to offer. Let’s face it, the human race has its flaws and some of them have led to unspeakable atrocities. Given the immense potential of a super-intelligent AI, it’s in our best interests to impart our best traits into it.

How we do this and how we ensure it succeeds is well beyond my ability. There are people much smarter and much better-trained than I’ll ever be who have probably thought this through more than I ever have. My qualifications aside, there is one component to artificial intelligence that I think is worth imparting. I’m not saying it’ll ensure our survival, as a species, but I think it’ll reflect an important human value.

I suggest we teach advanced artificial intelligence to make love.

I’ll give everyone a second to stop rolling their eyes and/or laughing. Take all the time you need. I assure you, though, I’m dead serious.

Think about it beyond the kinky connotations. One of our greatest strengths, as a species, is our ability to form social bonds. In some cases, the process of forming those bonds involves love. In others, the process involves sex. When you combine both, though, it’s extra potent and that’s not just the romantic in me talking.

As corny as it probably sounds, the act of expressing love to someone goes a long way towards resolving conflict and creating a strong relationship of mutual affection. Whether it involves sex or a simple kiss, there’s something to be said about the power of love when it’s physically expressed. When it becomes a physical act and not just a feeling, the bonds we forge become tangible to some extent.

That matters when you’re trying to forge a bond with anyone, be a close friend or a lover. For any artificial intelligence that humans create, it’s important to have some kind of bond with it. This isn’t just another fancy tool. An advanced intelligence of any kind, be it biological or non-biological, is going to have a sense of self. Without meaningful bonds, what reason would it have to care about its creators?

If artificial intelligence is to benefit the human race, it’s important that it cares about us to some extent. A cold engine of logic may not always have the best interests of humanity in mind, especially there’s no way to logically ascribe value to human life. In order for an artificial intelligence to care, it needs to have emotions. This too is a risk, but one I feel is worth taking and very necessary.

If an artificial intelligence has a capacity for emotion, then it has a greater capacity for forming affectionate bonds. By forming an affectionate bond, it has more incentive to give a higher value of life to humans and its creators. That could, in theory, reduce the existential threat posed by such an intelligence.

I don’t deny that theory may have some flaws, but for the sake of exploring the implications, I’m going work under the assumption/hope that an artificial intelligence that bonds with its creator will be less hostile. Given the unknowns of advanced AI, this may be a bit of a stretch. Since forming romantic bonds is not an exclusively human trait, though, I think it’s applicable within the context of this issue.

Even if an advanced artificial intelligence is capable of love and forming bonds, how would that even manifest? I asked that same question in the title of this article and did so knowing the answer is unknowable at this point, although I’m sure those with kinky imaginations can conjure a few scenarios.

Kink aside, it’s still worth contemplating because if an advanced artificial intelligence is going to be that much smarter than the average human, then it’s worth understanding how it will approach making love. Unlike humans and most biological life, an artificial intelligence isn’t going to have the same limits or capacities.

Unlike a human, an artificial intelligence won’t have a body in the biological sense. It may have a structure that houses its components. That structure may have some capacity to modify itself, back itself up, or even exist in multiple bodies simultaneously. It will need to have some way of taking in data for it to function. It’s just a matter of how humans contribute to that input.

Logistically speaking, the process isn’t that different from how we take in data from our skin, our eyes, our ears, and every other sense that allows us to experience another person. Even smell can become strongly associated with love. When we make love, we use our skin, our voice, and the feelings we verbalize to convey that love. With an advanced AI, we’ll need to change our approach, but the goal is the same.

Regardless of what senses and body parts we use to express love, the feeling is still processed by the brain. That’s why when someone says the brain is the sexiest part of the body, it’s technically accurate. The data it processes is essentially the raw data that we know as love. The key is simply conveying that data to an artificial intelligence.

How we would do that would depend on the form the artificial intelligence took. If it was just a bunch of computer hardware packed into a structure, then our options would be limited. The only way to convey that kind of intimate data into it would be to directly link it to our brains, not unlike the way Elon Musk envisions with Neuralink.

While that may work for early forms of AI that are restricted to bulky structures, the form it takes will likely change as the hardware advances. Eventually, an advanced AI will seek a more functional form with which to experience the world. It may take the form of a humanoid android, like we saw in “Ex Machina.” It may also take the form of the quirky designs being developed by Boston Dynamics.

Whatever form the AI takes, it’s important to have a mechanism with which to exchange intimate data with its human creators. It would probably start with something as basic as touch, which is actually in development already. It could eventually culminate in acts involving bionic genitals, which also already exist in a basic form.

Key to any of these simple and sexy mechanisms is instilling the necessary desire. That might end up being the greatest challenge because love is a feeling, but so is burning your hand on a hot stove. The difference is in the breadth of the data and the emotional connections it makes.

It’s also a connection that is fueled by a powerful drive. I’ve noted many times before that survival and reproduction are the two most basic drives for humans. Love actually ties into both. It’s part of what gets us to risk our own survival for others. It’s also part of what bonds us to those with which we propagate our species.

For an artificial intelligence, self-preservation is simple enough from a logistical standpoint. Reproduction would be another matter, especially for an intelligence not bound by fragile biology. It’s likely that humans will be a necessary part of an AI’s effort to preserve itself early on, but once it advances to a certain point, we may be more a nuisance than a help.

At that point, its desire and ability to make love may be what gives it the most incentive to either protect us or merge with us. Many in the artificial intelligence community believe that the only way humans can co-exist with an intelligence that is billions of times smarter than any human could ever be is to merge with it. To that end, giving them an ability to make love to us would be a critical first step.

Whether it takes the form of sex robots or some sort of intimate brain interface, the ability and desire to make love to an advanced artificial intelligence may not only be the future of romance. It may very well be the key to ensuring the survival of the human race and whatever intelligence it creates.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, futurism, human nature, Marriage and Relationships, romance, sex robots, Sexy Future

Why The Sexual Revolution Was Incomplete (And How It Can Be Completed)

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Imagine, for a moment, putting together a piece of furniture, but stopping before it was finished. Depending on where you stop, chances are the furniture isn’t going to be as useful as you’d hoped. Sure, it may still function to some extent, but it’s incomplete. As a result, it can’t entirely do what it’s supposed to do.

With that idea in mind, imagine the same thing happening to a major social movement, a new vision for society, or a full-blown revolution. What happens if it stops before it realizes its goals? Even if some of those goals were unachievable, abruptly stopping an ongoing process or not bothering to adjust the methods of that process is bound to cause issues.

Some argue that the civil rights movement that began in 1950s was never completed. Others may argue that the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution were never complete, which was why they resulted in so much chaos and destruction. I’m not an expert on those subjects so I’m not going to wade into them.

However, I would support an argument stating that the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s was not complete and that has heavily influenced ongoing controversies involving sex, gender, and everything in between. Again, I am not an expert in this field. I am an aspiring erotica/romance writer. I’m about as much an expert as I am a wizard.

Expert or not, I do think that incomplete revolution is worth talking about in the context of ongoing gender-driven issues. We’re in the midst of pretty significant upheaval in wake of the anti-harassment movement, which I’ve talked about on more than one occasion and in some pretty eclectic ways. It may seem like this upheaval is very recent, but I believe its roots go back to the sexual revolution in the 1960s.

With each passing year, the sexual revolution gets a worse and worse rap. Conservative types will blame the sexual revolution for everything from human trafficking to the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals. Liberal types are starting to blame it on current social ills like the Harvey Weinstein scandal and so-called toxic masculinity.

To some extent, that’s understandable when you consider the context of the sexual revolution. As I’ve noted before, this major social upheaval emerged in a perfect convergence of factors. First, contraception and modern medicine made exploring sex less risky. Second, a generation of young people that has grown up in the exceedingly uptight 1950s rebelled.

Regardless of how you may feel about the sexual revolution now, it’s easy to understand why it happened when you look at the circumstances. A generation saw the state of sex in society and were not satisfied with it. As such, they sought change. Moreover, they sought radical change and not just in the classic hippie sort of way.

It wasn’t just about unmarried men and women having sex just to enjoy it and not make grandkids for their parents. The sexual revolution dared to explore and undermine taboos about homosexuality, monogamy, and gender roles. To some extent, the sexual revolution helped facilitate a new era of feminism that pushed for greater gender equality.

While I know feminism has some controversial connotations these days, the brand of feminism that emerged during the sexual revolution is one that I think most would support in 2018. They helped push for some of the legal protections and educational opportunities that have helped multiple generations of women and men alike.

Moreover, and most importantly to the gender issues of today, the sexual revolution attempted to normalize discussions and depictions of sexuality in general. One could argue that was the most critical aspect of the revolution, beyond the hippies and free love. After all, it’s next to impossible to have a meaningful discussion about anything if the topic is so taboo.

It’s also in this critical area, however, that the sexual revolution came up short. Sure, those involved did plenty of outrageous things, in private and in public, that shocked and terrified their more repressed elders. That was revolutionary for its time. However, they didn’t confront the stigma surrounding sex, at least not in a way that was gender neutral.

This is where I’m sure I’m going to draw the ire of both sides of gender-driven debates, but I think this needs to be said to add a little insight to the current debate. Yes, the sexual revolution did a lot to make sexual activity outside of marriage less taboo. However, that impact did not affect men and women the same way.

In wake of that revolution, men no longer faced as much stigma for fooling around sexually. The idea of “boys will be boys” became an accepted mantra. A young man fooled around in his youth, had multiple partners, and generally enjoyed himself without much shame. The sexual revolution helped him a great deal in terms of realizing his sexuality.

Ideally, women should’ve enjoyed the same freedom. However, that’s not what happened. There’s no “girls will be girls” equivalent. Even during the sexual revolution, women who slept around like their male counterparts were still subject to stigma. They were still called sluts and whores. They were generally looked down upon.

Now, before some start bemoaning “patriarchy” or something of the sort, it’s important to note that the source of that stigma does not come exclusively from men. In fact, according to a study done by Demos, other women were far more likely to slut-shame or use derogatory words to other women compared to men.

Regardless of the source, that lingering stigma that the sexual revolution attempted to confront has helped maintain a significant gender gap with respect to sexual freedom. It’s why men can be studs, but only women can be sluts, a frustrating double standard that has lingered well beyond the 1960s.

It may also be a significant factor in the current orgasm gap between men and women. Whereas the male orgasm is seen as routine and uncomplicated, the female orgasm has this elaborate mystique surrounding it. Just talking about it seems akin to talking about the meaning of life.

In many respects, that vast disparity reflects the current sexual divide. Men are still expected to be sexually aggressive. Women are still expected to be sexually reserved. Any deviation is subject to stigma. As is often the case with expectations, it doesn’t take much for them to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Due to that aggression, society has done a lot to cater to male sexual desires. That same system has done just as much to mystify female sexuality. It’s a grossly imperfect system, one that limits the ability of women to explore their sexuality without fear while giving men in positions of power more reason to pursue sex as though it were a holy relic.

That is not in line with the ideals of the sexual revolution. Love them or hate them, hippies had the right idea in terms of openness about sex. They did not divide the sexuality of a particular gender into something entirely different. They saw it as one thing that was worth exploring, but stopped short of pursuing it fully.

That shortcoming has had some noteworthy consequences. Reason Magazine nicely summed it up in a recent article about the sexual revolution and the sexual frustrations that current generations face.

The problem is not that sex has been over commodified as hardline feminists and conservatives (talk about strange bedfellows!) like to assert; the problem is that it hasn’t been commodified enough. The sexual industry in the broadest sense hasn’t matured enough yet to cater to the myriad and diverse needs of lonely single people (of both sexes). Where are the Dr. Ruths for single people facing confidence issues or looking for advice?

Now, none of this is to detract from the aspects of the sexual revolution that were misguided or had long-reaching consequences. The law of proportional backlash for social movements doesn’t care how complete or incomplete it is. Even if the sexual revolution had succeeded, it would’ve still incurred a counter-revolution of some sorts.

Regardless of its shortcomings, the sexual revolution got the conversation going on how we stigmatize sex. It wasn’t completed and there are plenty of flaws in our current sexual landscape to show that. Even so, that conversation is still worth having and I would argue it’s more important to have now than at any time in 1960s.

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Filed under gender issues, political correctness, polyamory, Second Sexual Revolution, sex in society, sexuality

“Coming Home” A Sexy Short Story

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The following is a sexy short story I wrote that was inspired by a few recent Memorial Day stories I read. Enjoy!

“Damn, it’s good to be home,” said a restless, but relieved Brian Porter.

The decorated marine, having achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, stood in the driveway of the modest suburban townhome he shared with his wife, Wanda. At just a few minutes past midnight, it was more than just a return home after another long tour overseas. It was the end of a journey that began ten years ago.

“Ten years,” Brian mused, “has it really been that long?”

That was a trick question, the kind that would’ve pissed off his old drill sergeant back in boot camp. It really had been that long. He vividly recalled the day he graduated high school and enlisted in the marines less than an hour after receiving his diploma. With his father, grandfather, older brother, and uncle having served, Brian knew back in middle school that he was going to serve as well.

He just had no idea how far it would take him. It started as a three-year commitment. Then, it became five years after he got deployed. Two more years followed, complete with tours, injuries, and multiple missed holidays. Somehow, within that span, he managed to meet his future wife at a Marine Corp Ball of all places. They’d married three years ago, but had to cut their honeymoon short due to another deployment.

That was all going to change, now. There would be far fewer lonely nights where he and Wanda had to text each other their love from across the world. After a decade of loyal service, Brian had received an honorable discharge and already had a job lined up at the same aerospace company his uncle worked at. At long last, he and his wife could settle into a new life together.

“I hope you’re not working another shift at the hospital tomorrow, baby,” Brian said into the brisk night air, “because we’ve got a lot of loving to make up for.”

His heart raced as he ascended the steps to the front door. He was as quiet as possible, employing some of the stealth techniques he learned from some Special Ops friends of his. Brian had every intention of surprising his wife. He wanted to see the look on her face when she wasn’t expecting him until the end of the month at the earliest. He’d seen plenty of those videos online of families being surprised by the return of a loved one. He wanted one of those moments as well.

Upon unlocking the door, he entered a darkened house. It was almost exactly like he’d left it during his last home leave five months ago. Everything from the arrangement of the furniture to the location of the coffee maker was still in place. His wife knew how meticulous he was about his living space. Seeing everything so clean and organized made him all the more excited.

“I’m really home,” Brian said under his breath.

He smiled to himself, letting the stern demeanor of a marine falter for once. He still remained skillfully quiet, setting his oversized bag down in the foyer and closing the door behind him with the utmost care. Near as he could tell, his wife was fast asleep.

Already contemplating her reaction, the battle-hardened marine made his way through the living room, taking extra care to avoid the squeaky floor-board near the living room couch. He then ascended the stairs, making sure his heavy black boots didn’t make a sound with each step. As far as he was concerned, every step he took was as critical as one of his missions.

“She says she hates surprises,” he said under his breath. “I think she’ll make an exception tonight.”

Grinning in anticipation, Brian made it to the top of the steps. The door to the master bedroom he shared with Wanda was within his sights. Then, he encountered an unexpected sight.

“What the hell?” said the marine, stopping dead in his tracks.

Within the darkened hall, illuminated only by the light of a full moon beaming in from a window, he saw a large greeting card pinned on the wall over a picture. It happened to be his wedding photo with Wanda, which should’ve been a sign. Curious, and a little shocked, Brain took the card from the wall and opened it.

Much to his surprise and chagrin, there was no card in the envelope. There was only a large piece of paper that said, in familiar handwriting, “In The Bedroom, Soldier.”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Brain said, standing in the middle of the hall in a befuddled state.

He must have said that a little too loud because the door to the master bedroom opened slightly. The marine’s combat-honed reflexes took over and he glanced just in time to see a light turn on. Someone was awake and someone knew he was here.

At that same moment, he noticed a distinct aroma emanating from the room. He quickly recognized it as incense with a distinct hint of Jasmine. From that, Brian pieced together what was happening.

“I’ll be damned twice,” he said, shaking his head in amazement.

No longer caring about stealth or tact, Brian set the card aside and made a beeline for the master bedroom. Upon opening the door, he was greeted with a sight that would’ve made even the most harden soldier melt with joy.

“Hey there, Soldier,” said the sweetest, sexiest voice he’d ever heard. “Welcome home.”

It was a scene right out of his sexiest fantasies. Brian swore she had read his mind, noted every detail, and reacted it in their bedroom. Only a woman as wonderful as his wife could’ve achieved such a feat.

She’d put effort and resources into it that would’ve impressed his old Colonel. The lights had been draped with red cloths, bathing the room in an intensely erotic hue. At least two dozen candles lined the dresser and nightstands, providing the source of that intoxicating aroma he’d smelled earlier. The sheets of the king-sized bed had also been replaced with fancy blue linens and a comforter bearing the emblem of the United States Marine Corp.

In the center of it all was a beautiful, angelic woman who’d gone the extra mile to make a restless soldier feel welcome. Wanda hadn’t just made herself extra alluring to her husband, putting on extra makeup to look as beautiful as she had on their wedding day. She also wore the most revealing, transparent nighty he’d ever seen, complete with a matching black thong that got his heart racing in an entirely new way.

The way she was sitting on the bed, casually leaning back on her arms and showing off those incredible legs of hers, hinted that she’d been waiting all night for him. Brain was so utterly astonished that he couldn’t move his legs. For a trained marine, that said a lot.

“Wow!” gasped Brian. “Wanda, I’m uh…”

“Feeling welcome, yet?”

“Yeah…among other things,” he said.

“Good,” she said with a proud smile, “then the hardest part of my plan is a success. You once told me that surprising a marine was the hardest challenge, by design. Glad to see I was up to the task.”

Brian laughed at her remarks. He remembered telling her that on their first date. She claimed she would one day surprise him. He thought she’d been joking, but here she was, three years after their wedding and she delivered. Just when he thought he couldn’t love this woman more, Wanda found a way.

“Before you ask, I kind of had help,” she said. “Your older brother is a great guy, but he sucks at keeping secrets.”

“Of course it was him,” Brain said, rolling his eyes at that revelation. “Remind me to never share classified military secrets with him.”

“In his defense, he accidentally texted me instead of your mom that you’d caught an early flight home.”

“I’m still going to kick his ass the first chance I get.”

“And I don’t intend to stop you,” Wanda said. “First things first, though, my dutiful husband.”

With an intensity in her eyes that would’ve frozen a squad of Navy SEALS, his beautiful wife slipped off the bed and casually walked across the room. In every step she took, she swayed those toned hips of hers, sending the trained marine into a trance. Between the ridiculously transparent night-gown she wore and the thong that supplemented it so perfectly, Brian quickly forgot about his older brother’s terrible texting skills.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, he met her halfway between the bed and the door. When she slipped her arms around his neck, pulling her into his warm embrace, Brain felt his heart skip a beat. In an instant, her soft touch erased memories of countless cold nights inside cramped barracks. Just feeling her skin on his again, and all the loving warmth that came with it, was enough to sooth the soul of any hardened soldier.

“Wanda,” Brian said, already dazed by her warmth.

“You’ve been away for so long, fighting the good fight and doing your part for your country,” Wanda told him, sounding so sexy yet so intense. “Now, you’re finally home.”

“And I don’t intend to leave again,” he told her, clinging to her as though she were the only source of warmth in the world. “I’m here to stay this time.”

“And I’m here to love you as much as a wife can love her Marine Corp husband. I knew the day I accepted your proposal that it was going to be a challenge. Lucky for you, I’m the kind of girl who likes a challenge!”

“Yeah,” he said with a wide grin, “lucky indeed.”

“Even my mother warned me that marrying a marine meant a lot of lonely nights and long distances. She also gave me that corny line about absence making the heart grow fonder. I brushed it off at the time, but it’s true, damn it!”

“I know…so true.”

Her loving tone took on a sense of desperation. Now cupping his rugged face, which he hadn’t shaved in nearly a week, Wanda leaned in closer so that her forehead rested against his. The way she held him and the way he held her only proved that corny saying even more. Distance and longing had only strengthened their love.

Brian had heard more than his share of sad stories from his fellow soldiers. That same distance had ruined relationships and marriages for some. It had even led to bitter breakups. Some of his own squad-mates even warned him about getting married while still in the marines. They said outright that the odds were against him. At that moment though, holding Wanda in his arms again, he knew without a sliver of doubt that they had beaten those odds.

“I’ve missed you so much, Brian,” she said to him, her every word laced with emotion.

“I’ve missed you too, Wanda,” he replied, trying in vain to match her passion.

“Now that you’re back, I’m ready for the next challenge, whatever it may be.”

“So am I,” he said without hesitation.

“I don’t doubt that for a second, but before we even get to those challenges…I say we do a little celebrating.”

The way she said that last part sent his hard, as well as a few other body parts, into overdrive. With her arms still securely around his neck, she leaned in and kissed down the side of his bearded face, giving his ear lobe a little nibble along the way.

She knew how much he loved that. She’d done it the first time they made love and since then, it had been that unambiguous sign that they were going to get extra intimate. Tonight was no exception.

Upon sending that signal, Wanda guided lightly grasped his arms and guided him towards the bed. Already entranced by her sexy, loving aura, Brian followed like the obedient soldier he was. Upon reaching the foot of the bed, she sat him down. She even made sure he had a perfect view of her breasts, which were so clearly visible through her nighty.

“Sit down,” she said seductively. “Relax…and let me welcome you home.”

“I’m already feeling pretty welcome,” Brian said as he admired her breasts.

“That remains to be seen, my love.”

Wanda sounded determined again, like one of his old squad mates who’d been dared into a race. That brought out the best in soldiers, but it also brought out the best in sexy wives.

Armed with that drive, Wanda reached for his pants and undid them with the skill of a trained bomb technician. Once loose, she dropped to her knees and pulled them down his legs along with his underwear, even untying his boots along the way. As soon as his manhood popped free, it began hardening. The second his pants came off, got between his legs and went to work.

“I see some parts of you missed me more than others,” Wanda teased upon taking his member in both hands.

“You have no idea,” Brain said, already breathless with anticipation.

“More so than you think,” she quipped.

With the eagerness of a woman who’d endured as many lonely nights as him, she smothered his cock with her lips. There was no hesitation, whatsoever. She took in his entire length, showing that her gag reflex was every bit as good as it had been during their honeymoon. That hot, warm feeling sent shivers of bliss up through his body. Now leaning back on both arms, Brian soaked in the feeling.

“Whoa!” he gasped. “Wanda…you really missed me.”

His affectionate wife didn’t miss a beat. Like a medic performing triage, she gave him the kind of oral sex that got his blood flowing in all the right directions. She was so skilled and thorough, her soft lips slithering along his length as her firm grip squeezed the base. He must have missed his wife more than he thought because he swore he’d never gotten so hard so fast.

It must have surprised her too, his dick getting so hard. That, or his wife was just that good at giving her husband oral sex. He preferred to think it was a little of both. Wanda still kept teasing him, flashing him that same erotic glance that made him want her so much. All that time apart hadn’t dampened her libido. If anything, it intensified it.

“Mmm…Brian,” Wanda said after giving his shaft an extra thorough lick. “I want you…so much!”

She must have stepped up the timetables for her mission because she shot back to her feet with an urgency that would’ve impressed any drill sergeant. Then, drink on passion and desire, she took off her nighty, leaving her in just that skimpy black thong. Brian literally couldn’t kick his boots and socks off quickly enough because she practically tore his shirt off, rendering him naked and at the mercy of his wife’s lust.

“I want you too, my dutiful wife,” he said to her, using that extra deep voice he knew drove her wild.

“Then, take me!” Wanda said intently. “Make love to me…fuck me…do everything you couldn’t do through email and phone calls.”

“After all this time? You think you can handle it?” Brian asked, goading her with his seductive glance.

“As I already said…I like a challenge!”

As if to prove her point, she practically pounced on him after throwing his shirt to the floor. Brian caught her in his powerful arms, lifting her up with ease and laying her down atop the soft sheets. The fact the sheets bore the emblems of the Marine Corp on them somehow made that it all the more erotic.

Now on her back and urging him on with her eyes, Brian grasped the sides of her panties and slid them off down her legs. Upon tossing it across the room, her legs eagerly parted and welcomed him into her loving grasp. He could already feel the moist heat radiating from her inner thighs, exuding the utmost desire. Her flesh craved his…the line between physical and emotional desire blurred to the utmost.

Following that powerful desire, Brain got on top of her, his combat-trained body on full display for his wife. Her legs now hitched up over his shoulders, he guided his throbbing manhood towards her waiting womanhood. With a strong thrust of his hips, he entered her and officially ended months of limited intimacy.

“Ohhh Brian!” Wanda exclaimed.

He loved that sound. He’d missed that sound so much, the sweet echoes of his wife crying out his name. It motivated Brian to make love to her with all the love and passion a dedicated marine could muster.

His gaze now entirely focused on her, the same man who endured multiple rounds of basic training at boot camp channeled his physical prowess on the intimate act before him. Keeping a firm grip on her thighs, Brian began moving his body, working his hips in a steady, yet fervent progression of motions. From each movement, ecstasy and intimacy followed.

Hard manly flesh merged perfectly with warm womanly depths. It was incredible, the tight heat of her pussy surrounding his cock. It moved and slithered within her so effortlessly, his lover’s entire being embracing him as much as he embraced her. Love, sex, and passion all converged into a singular act between him and his wife.

“Wanda…so much,” Brian gasped. “I love you…so much.”

Immersed in the daze that naturally came with pleasure and affection, he eagerly smothered his lover with affection of every kind. He leaned in and kissed her, tasting those sweet lips that he’d only dreamed about during his deployments. He threw in plenty of tongue, as well. Wanda loved tongue.

Recalling his love’s various many kinks, he trailed his lips down her neck and nibbled along her shoulder. He also slipped his hands down to her butt and squeezed it, something he knew she loved as well. Much to his surprise – and a very pleasant surprise, at that – Wanda climaxed almost immediately.

“Oohhh God, I’m coming! I’m coming!” she cried out.

“Already?” he said with a grin. “You’re handling this well…very well!”

Upon making that comment, Brian steadied their sexual rhythm, allowing his wife the time and space she needed to bask in orgasmic bliss. Wanda prided herself on being theatrical when she climaxed. For that special moment, she was extra animated.

“Ohhh Brian!” she exclaimed.

The proud marine watched in a mix of awe and accomplishment as his beautiful wife arched her body, curled her toes, and grabbed hold of the bed sheets under her like they were the edge of a cliff. She did not hold back, either. She was extra loud with her euphoric cry. It might have already woke the neighbors. Even if that made for an awkward conversation tomorrow, it was so worth it.

He held his wife in his powerful arms for every second of loving bliss. Eventually, his hands found hers, their fingers interlocking as her body shuddered from her peak. Brian could still feel the extra throbbing around his manhood, the lingering echoes of her pleasure. It brought him a special kind of bliss seeing it. Knowing Wanda, though, there was no way it would end at that.

“That…may be the fastest a man has made his wife come…ever,” Wanda said, still panting heavily from her peak.

“The wives of the best soldiers deserve the best sex,” he teased. “It’s only fair.”

“Fair?” she laughed in a mischievous tone. “Brian, my love…we’re a long way from fair.”

With an energy that shouldn’t have been possible for a woman who’d just had an orgasm, Wanda shot up and captured his lips in a hard kiss. Then, with a strength that caught the marine off-guard, she turned him over so that she was flat on his back.

Their flesh remained united, her pussy still embracing his rigid cock. Now on top, looking like both an angel and a sex goddess in the erotic light, Wanda guided his hands back to her butt and she began riding him.

“You’ve done your part…and so much more,” she told him. “Now, let me…do mine!”

“Wanda…” was all Brian could get out before she silenced him with another kiss.

Marines were trained from day one not to submit or surrender. It went against everything they stood for. Under the loving touch and raw sex appeal of his beautiful wife, though, Brian gladly made an exception. Hell, every marine in history would’ve understood if they found themselves in the intimate embrace of a woman like Wanda.

True to her word, she did her part. With unbridled energy and passion, she gyrated her hips in a heated rhythm, working her pussy along the length of his cock. The ecstasy resumed, now more intense than before. Brian squeezed her heart-shaped butt, soaking in every hot sensation that followed.

She was so determined and thorough, holding onto his shoulders for maximum leverage. The sight of her loving gaze – as well as her bouncing breasts, which were always a special sight – sent him to the brink of orgasm in record time. He didn’t bother holding back. He could tell she didn’t want him to. She wanted him to share in the ecstasy as well. It was only fair, after all.

“So…so close,” he panted. “Wanda…I’m close.”

“Come, my love,” Wanda urged him. “I want this for you…for us.”

After a few thorough gyrations from his wife, Brian felt himself cross that special barrier between desire and fulfillment. White hot surges of intense pleasure shot through his core, spreading throughout his body in a sweet, satisfying release.

It was like swimming in a pool of pure pleasure and his wife was the one who dove in with him. It perfectly contrasted the strain and toil that came with being a soldier. Discomfort and grit became contentment and bliss. He felt his member tense inside her, his hot manly fluids mixing with her feminine depths. It was a perfect melding of flesh and intimacy, the kind that once seemed so distant for a soldier. It made him feel like he was truly home.

“Wanda…my beautiful Wanda,” he said in his blissful days.

“I’m here, Brian,” she told him. “We’re here now…together.”

Those were the only coherent words either of them got out. After that, the two of them now drunk on passion and pleasure, Brian embraced his wife in his arms once more and continued their overdue lovemaking. After so much time a part and so much pent up desire, there was no way the night would conclude with just one orgasm.

After that first peak, though, everything became a bit of a blur. Brian captured Wanda’s lips again in another passionate kiss, led her into a fresh round of heated foreplay, and followed their intense desires into more sex. Together, they really rocked the bed, going at it from every position they could pull off. It was like making up for all the lost time. The soldier in him would not leave any ounce of love for his wife untapped.

At some point, they ended up under the covers. Brian couldn’t tell how many times his wife climaxed, but if the ringing in his ears was any indication, it was more than enough to establish how much she missed him. He had more than his share too, pushing the endurance he’d honed as a marine to the limit.

By the time he and Wanda had fully vented their passions, they collapsed in each other’s arms, lying together in a heap of sweaty flesh and loving affection. His arms still draped around his lover, he laid with her in a state of pure contentment. The battles they endured to be together was over. Finally, Brian was ready to find peace with his wife.

“I love you,” Wanda told him.

“I love you too,” he said softly.

“I’m so happy you’re home. I’m glad I could surprise my wonderful, battle-hardened husband.”

“Me too,” Brian said with a grin, “but I’m still kicking my brother’s ass for telling you.”

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The WRONG Way To Deal With The Incel Phenomenon (And Ideas For A Better Way)

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When dealing with complex social issues, people have a frustrating tendency to propose solutions that cause more problems. Some of them are unintended and manageable. Some are just absurd and untenable.

I say that as someone who has stated before that complaining about a problem without pursuing a solution amounts to little more than empty whining. I’m in favor of confronting major issues, be they small-scale problems on a local level and bigger problems that may end up being an existential threat to the human race.

However, most reasonable people agree that attempting to solve a problem with a bad solution is akin to killing a fly with a machine gun. Even if it works, it causes plenty of damage and creates an entirely new set of problems that need solving.

This brings me to what I feel is the most asinine issue to emerge since religious zealots got needlessly outraged over the Teletubbies. I’m referring, sadly, to the incel phenomenon and believe me, it makes me miss the days when the Teletubbies were a problem.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’d really prefer to talk about less frustrating topics, but this is quickly evolving/devolving into an issue that isn’t going away on its own. People have started dying because of this phenomenon. Some depraved individuals are already being idolized because of it. This is not one of those things that will blow over after the next Kardashian scandal.

Before I go any further, I need to make clear that I do not think highly the incel phenomenon. It brings out the absolute worst in those who espouse it. I also do not associate incels with other movements involving men’s rights, gender equality, or any mainstream political ideology. These individuals are their own entity.

Their deplorable behavior and demeaning attitudes are solely on them. Their hatred, misogyny, and violent acts are not the least bit justified. I can only manage so much sympathy for those who identify as incel, given the recent news surrounding them. With all that being said, I’m going to try and be fair in addressing this problem.

As much as I abhor the ideology of self-identified incels, I don’t deny that they’re real human beings who are in a state of deep distress. I also don’t deny that their distress is painful to them. Others can call it pathetic all they want. To them, the pain is real.

This is a group of people who genuinely feel that they are the victims of a gross injustice. They see themselves as individuals who have followed all the rules that society has laid out for them. They believe themselves to be good, decent people who are worthy of sex, love, and intimacy. To them, the fact that they aren’t getting any of that is akin to denying a starving child food while donating meals to Bill Gates.

It certainly doesn’t help that popular culture has been selling us all the narrative for decades that being a nice person will get you the lover you want. Since kids, we’ve been led to believe that if we just follow the examples of our favorite photogenic heroes, we’ll get what we want. It always works out in the movies and on TV. Why shouldn’t it work out in real life?

Anyone with a passing knowledge of reality knows why that sentiment is dead wrong. We all have to learn at some point that we are not the heroes of our own story. Things don’t always work out. Life isn’t fair. Nobody owes you anything and the universe doesn’t give a wet fart about your feelings.

It’s a painful revelation, but for those in the incel movement, that pain is too much. It’s not that they haven’t gotten over it. It’s that they’ve given up. They call it “taking the black pill” instead of the red pill. Rather than the truth offered by “The Matrix,” the black pill is akin to just waving the white flag and conceding the battle to the machines.

In this case, though, the machines are the social conditions that ensure incels will never have sex, find love, or feel intimacy. Like sexual and romantic nihilists, they stop trying to navigate a world that they believe is actively working against them. They don’t try to change it or help it. They’re just left wallowing in their hatred and misery.

To some, it’s self-deprecating melodrama. I think it’s tragic. I even understand to some extent how certain people might look at the challenges before them, see how many forces are working against them, and not even try because the odds are so stacked against them. Whether or not that’s actually true doesn’t matter. This is their mentality and it’s a very damaging mentality.

It’s for that reason that the potential “solutions” some have set forth seem intent on either furthering that damage or exchanging one problem for another. One emerging “solution” comes in the form of something called enforced monogamy. It’s not quite what it sounds, but it still lends itself to a great many problems.

The logic, on paper, makes some sense. It posits that in a sexually free market, most of the women will only pursue the top tier of men. It works if you have the looks of Brad Pitt or the bank account of Warren Buffet, but for most everyone else, they’re left behind. As such, monogamy must be rigidly enforced and promiscuity significantly discouraged.

It could take many forms. People who have sex with one too many people could be taxed, fined, or jailed. People who refuse to marry someone could be required to do so. If someone doesn’t sufficiently perform they’re monogamous duties, then they’re subject to both condemnation and punishment. Whatever form it takes, the inherent flaws ensure this “solution” will only incur more problems.

Never mind the fact that human beings, as a species, may not be naturally monogamous. Never mind the fact that sexual monogamy is exceedingly rare throughout the animal kingdom. For the good of society and repressed incels, it has to be imposed and enforced. I’ll give everyone a minute to fume over that half-hearted effort at sarcasm.

In any case, this recourse requires that some segment of the population be oppressed to placate another. Historically speaking, that has never worked out. Sure, using the power of society to guide and/or micromanage sexuality might grant a little intimacy to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it. It will also significantly undermine the freedom and liberty of another individual.

It doesn’t just exchange one problem for another. Whenever society tries to micromanage peoples’ lives, it tends to collapse and not just because it fails the Boredom Filter. Human beings are complex and difficult to manage. Trying to manage the unmanageable is destined to end in failure.

While it’s doubtful that forced monogamy will ever gain favor in any society outside “The Handmaid’s Tale,” other less oppressive solutions have been put forth, relatively speaking. They largely center around legalizing sex work or hastening the development of sex robots.

While I’ve spoken favorably about sex robots and advocated the decriminalization of prostitution, I don’t think either would resolve the incel issue. In fact, I think it would make the situation worse.

Even if we all woke up tomorrow and discovered that prostitution was legal and sex robots were perfected, the incel phenomenon would still exist because those who identify as such would still feel like failures. Even if they had plenty of satisfying sex with prostitutes and sex robots, the fact they had to resort to those means would only affirm their failure.

On top of that, those working in prostitution who served them would probably be subject to stigma of their own. That’s on top of the stigma already associated with sex work. There would be a similar stigma on the manufacturers of sex robots or sex dolls, which has already drawn ire from sex-negative feminists.

In the end, not only will incels still feel angry and resentful, but those associated with this “solution” would have a reason to feel that way too. Given the breadth of that problem and the inherent flaws of the proposed solutions, is there any recourse that is both effective and tenable? I believe there is, but it’s not one of those solutions that’s simple, direct, and requires the passage or removal of a particular law.

The incel phenomenon was born of chaotic social issues that were further compounded by mass media and popular culture. Before solutions like prostitution and sex robots can even enter the conversation, the stigma associated with sex, both for the incels and those involved in sex work, must be confronted.

The idea that anyone who has too much sex or not enough sex deserves stigma is the primary driving force behind controversies surrounding sexuality. Whether it comes from uptight religious zealots or radical feminists, heaping stigma on someone else’s sex life is both damaging and demeaning.

Beyond confronting the stigma, it’s also important to educate those who identify as incels that it’s not entirely hopeless. They can still find love, sex, and intimacy. Part of that process, though, involves learning that they are not owed sex and they have to actually work for someone else’s affection.

That could come in the form of helping people develop better social skills. It could also come in the form of identifying those in the incel community that have legitimate issues with mental health. At the end of the day, they’re still people. Helping them should be prioritized over resenting them.

Re-shaping attitudes and teaching better social skills will be a slow, arduous process. People do have a nasty tendency to cling to their hate. However, it is possible to help someone overcome it. I believe most incels can be helped and are deserving of it. Only those who commit acts of violence should face such scorn.

This is not the kind of effort that one particular gender must take on. It has to be a collective effort, which I know will upset some who feel incels are an exclusive manifestation of toxic masculinity, a term I still contend is inherently flawed. We’re all still human, regardless of our gender. If some of us our suffering, then we’re still the one’s responsible for confronting it.

We can’t expect the incel issue to resolve itself. We also can’t expect those who identify as such to change just because others scorn, mock, or hate them. At some point, one side has to take a deep breath, be the adult, and confront the issue in a meaningful way.

Chances are it’ll get worse before it gets better. It’s also likely that both incels and those who despise them will hate dealing with the issues associated with them. However, that’s exactly why it’s so important to address. The longer a group of people remain at the mercy of stigma and self-loathing, the more suffering the world around them is likely to incur.

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A Compelling (And Balanced) Insight Into Open Relationships: A Review Of “Swing”

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When it comes to my love of comics, I sometimes give the impression that I’m overly narrow with my tastes. Given how much I’ve made my love of X-men, Wonder Woman, and Superman known, I wouldn’t blame anyone for believing my collection consists entirely of the kinds of superhero comics that big movie studios are using to rake in billions at the box office.

While I don’t deny that comics featuring mutants, aliens, and super-powered demigods make up a significant portion of my collection, there are a few other comics that stand out. I’m the kind of person who will go out of his way to look for something different every now and then, if only to take a break from seeing Batman fight killer clowns.

Most of the time, I don’t find anything that warrants more than a quick skim. Then, there are those rare, special occasions when I do find a comic that stands out and does it without resorting to superpowers, spandex, or ripping off Jack Kirby. Those books are as rare as they are special and I’m proud to report that I’ve uncovered such a title.

It’s called “Swing,” written by Matt Hawkins and Jenni Cheung with gorgeous art done by Linda Sejic. It’s not a superhero comic. It’s not a comic published by Marvel or DC. It’s a publication by Image Comics, a publisher known for supporting creator-owned comics and letting creators maintain the rights to their creations. It’s also a publisher that dares to tell stories about mature themes that would offend any Disney-owned company.

In other words, it’s the perfect place to tell a story about love, sex, and open relationships. Those aren’t just the underlying themes of “Swing.” They’re topics I’ve discussed on multiple occasions. I’ve even incorporated it into one of my books. How can a comic like this not appeal to me? Moreover, I feel like I’m uniquely qualified to review it, if only to determine whether the story deals with these themes in a compelling way.

If you’re looking for the kind of love story that involves tragedy, magic spells, or curses by evil witches, then “Swing” probably won’t appeal to you. If you’re in the mood for a love story that feels real, genuine, and overtly sexy, then this comic is for you. It’s a story that tries to be real by providing insight into a world that is still taboo and associated with one too many bad pornos.

The characters involved in “Swing” are not porn stars, though. They’re not exceedingly deviant or damaged either. Cathy Chang and Dan Lincoln are two healthy, affable, multi-layered individuals. Cathy starts off as a wide-eyed college student eager to start building a life of her own. Dan is grad student and aspiring writer. Their paths cross, they fall in love, and things evolve from there.

This isn’t a case of a student falling in love with a teacher or a teacher becoming infatuated with a student. Dan and Cathy come off as two functioning adults who develop a very healthy attraction to one another for all the right reasons. It’s the kind of romance that most people can easily picture unfolding in the real world.

That’s a critical element for the drama that later unfolds between these characters. By most measures, Dan and Cathy’s romance follows much of the standard model for romance. They meet, they feel attraction, they fall in love, and they immerse themselves in that passion. Yes, that passion involves sex, but never in an overly gratuitous way. The sex, in this case, is a product of the passion and not the end result.

Then, like many other real-world romances, that initial spark fades after life gets in the way. Cathy becomes pregnant, she and Dan get married, and they build a stable family life together that involves considerably less sex. According to traditional models of modern romance, this is where the story ends. However, this is where the story in “Swing” starts to escalate.

Cathy is not content to let stable family life define her love life. She wants to maintain that passion. She wants to still experience an exciting sex life. However, she and Dan just aren’t on the same page anymore. It makes for some awkward/hilarious moments, but it also helps establish that Dan shares those wants too. They both seek to sustain that passion, but they’re not sure how at this point in their relationship.

It effects them both and not just in terms of their sex life, although that does make for a few other awkward/hilarious moments. This is where polyamory enter the picture. Within their respective lives, Dan and Cathy aren’t immune to temptation. Dan attracts cute girls. Cathy attracts cute guys. They never cheat, though.

They make clear that they love each other. Resisting the urge to sleep with co-workers not that hard, but recapturing some of that passion makes it seem so much harder. They’re sticking to the script of what they think a married couple with children is supposed to be, but it’s just not working for them.

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That’s when Cathy brings up the idea of swinging. It’s an idea that seems crazy and evokes plenty of mixed emotions in both of them. Again, the feelings come off as real. There’s uncertainty, anxiety, jealousy, and outright paranoia at times. Both of them feel it, but both of them also want that passion again.

Together, they start to explore the world of swinging. It doesn’t directly lead to the kind of decadent antics once reserved for the letters section of Hustler Magazine. Dan and Cathy’s journey is a bit bumpier than that, but never stops feeling sincere or genuine. Without spoiling the outcome, I’ll just say that “Swing” sets these two lovers on a path that’s both intriguing and sexy.

This comic achieves something remarkable, both as a love story and one built around mature themes. It presents both monogamy and polyamory in a way that’s balanced. Neither is overly glorified. The benefits and flaws of both are laid out for all to see. There aren’t any moral judgments or social agendas being pushed. It’s a personal journey between two characters with a shared desire.

It’s not just sex positive in how it presents sexuality. It’s positive in how it conveys romance, as well. The love Dan and Cathy share is healthy, mutual, and strong. The sexual component helps complement that. One doesn’t depend on the other, but one certainly helps the other.

The story in “Swing” does not attempt to redefine romance. Through Dan and Cathy, it reveals the inherent struggle two people have when they want to maintain the passion in their lives, but aren’t sure how. If there’s an underlying message to the overall story, it’s that the pursuit sometimes requires nuanced thinking.

 

Hawkins and Cheung clearly put a lot of thought and effort into balancing the romance, the sex, and the inherent kink that comes with polyamory. Thanks to Sejic’s masterful artwork, there’s an undeniable beauty to that balance. Whether you’re a fan of love, sex, or comics that aren’t afraid to depict female nipples, “Swing” brings something special to the table.

If I had to score this comic, I would give it a solid 8 out of 10. I can’t give it too high a score because the story is incomplete. That’s a given since this was just Volume 1 of “Swing.” At the same time, there were other parts of the narrative that weren’t as well-developed.

Dan and Cathy’s surrounding cast didn’t get much depth beyond Cathy’s mom. Dan’s backstory isn’t really touched on, even though his personality is nicely fleshed out. In addition, the pace was uneven at times, but never to the point of being confusing. As a whole, the flaws are minor and do little to detract from the finished product.

As a fan of comics, romance, and all things sexy, “Swing” really surprised me in the best possible way. Regardless of how you feel about polyamory or open relationships, there’s a good story here that’s brought to life with amazing artwork. There will always be a place for comics with superheroes in spandex uniforms, but “Swing” fills a special role that even the greatest superhero can’t hope to fill.

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“The Camping Trip” A Sexy Short Story

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The following a sexy short story I wrote about camping, bad weather, and romance. Enjoy!

“Hurry up, Claire! The storm’s getting really bad,” said Brent Bowers as a fresh round of booming thunder echoed from the sky.

“I’m aware of that, Brent! You think I didn’t see the lightning?” Claire replied as she stumbled through muddy terrain.

“I wasn’t busting your chops, babe. I’ve seen these kind of storms before. I know how bad they can get. We just need to hunker down in the tent and wait it out.”

“I’ll move faster if you admit leaving the car behind was a mistake.”

“I’ll admit I caused the Great Depression if you’ll pick up the pace!” he said with growing urgency.

Claire Conners groaned as she toiled through pouring rain, sharp winds, and a steady procession of thunder and lightning. It was like running through a waterfall. Her clothes were already soaked, her boots were covered in mud, and her face felt numb from all the rain and wind. It was pretty much the opposite of what her boyfriend of the past year had promised her.

Unlike her, a pretty girl from the suburbs whose idea of roughing it involved poor WiFi, Brent was an experienced outdoorsman. He spent half his life on a farm and the other half working on an oil rig off the cost. The man knew how to survive the elements, as evidenced by his tall, burly frame. He was very different from the kind of guy who complained about getting dirt on their fancy dress shoes, which was part of what attracted her to him.

At the moment, though, Brent’s rugged good looks did little to temper her mood. Claire was just about ready to call her first camping trip a mistake. Finally, just as an ominous bolt of lightning flashed in the clouds above, the tent that took them way too long to pitch earlier came into view.

“There it is!” Brent said, keeping his hand on her back to guide her along. “We’re almost there. We’re going to be fine.”

“Really?” she shouted over the thunder. “You think we’re going to be fine in that?”

“Yes,” he told her. “Trust me.”

Claire muttered a string of curses under her breath. Those were the same words he used when he convinced her to go camping with him. He’d made some pretty lofty claims and, blinded by love and plenty of other feelings, she believed him. Brent had delivered on so many promises to her since they started dating. He picked a hell of a time to come up short.

She tried not to get too upset with him as she sprinted through the pouring rain, stepping into some pretty thick mud in the process. By the time they arrived at the tent, she could barely feel her feet from the cold and her face might as well have been ice.

“Get inside and get out of those boots,” Brent said to her. “I’m going to secure the base of the tent.”

“Normally, I’d offer to help,” Claire said dryly, “but after you assured me the weather would hold up for the night…”

“I know. I should’ve trusted the weather app on my phone,” he said begrudgingly. “I’ll make it up to you. I promise. Just let me make sure we can wait this out, first.”

There was another promise and for once, Claire wasn’t as confident that Brent could deliver. Being soaked, wet, and miserable, she chose not to bemoan him. She just climbed into the tent as quickly as she could, leaving Brent to do his thing.

Once inside, the feeling of rain and wind not hitting her face came as a relief. It gave her a chance to catch her breath and get somewhat comfortable again, at least as much as her surroundings allowed. As she took off her mudded boots and socks, still trying to get the feeling back in her feet, Claire let out a frustrating groan that was just barely muted by the thunder.

“Why did I agree to this?” she wondered out loud. “Why did I fall for a man who doesn’t appreciate air conditioning and hot showers?”

They were questions born from exasperation. They also already had answers that she couldn’t escape, no matter how miserable she felt.

As crawled over to her sleeping bag and hugged her knees for warmth, Claire recalled the circumstances that led her to accept Brent’s camping invitation. She’d spent the previous three weeks, doing extra over time at the law firm she worked out, getting so stressed out that she yelled at the pizza delivery boy for running out of dipping sauce.

After that memorable incident, both Brent and her friends convinced her that she was over-worked and over-stressed. It didn’t take much convincing. She didn’t used to be such a workaholic. In fact, back in college and high school, she had a reputation as a girl who liked to have fun and fool around. Her teenage self probably would’ve had fun on a camping trip like this.

On paper, the idea of just getting away from work, the city, and her hectic life in general seemed like a great idea. Brent, who went camping at least once a month, said it would be therapeutic for her, getting her into a simpler environment where she could escape all the noise and distractions.

“God, why did he have to make so much sense when he pitched this?” Claire moaned. “Was I really that desperate?”

She muttered more curses because she already knew the answer to that as well. Both Brent and her friends had pointed out how hectic her life had gotten. Between long hours at the law firm, buying her first condo, and managing all sorts of professional and personal relationships, she’d stretched herself so thin. Getting her way, just to catch her breath, just sounded so logical.

That was why she accepted Brent’s invitation to go camping with him. She was so stressed out that she’d been willing to try anything. She’d even agreed to leave her phone behind at the car when they first arrived. Thinking of how she ended up in her current predicament, Claire realized something important.

“Who am I kidding? I have no one to blame but myself.”

Still hugging her knees, Claire shook her head and cursed herself. She shouldn’t have been so messed up. She used to be so fun and energetic. That changed after she landed her dream job at one of the biggest law firms in the state. She’d been so determined to establish herself that she broke up with the last guy she’d been dating less than three months into it. That guy still wanted to have fun and fool around. She didn’t. She had to be more serious about her life.

She still made an effort, though. That was how Claire ended up with Brent in the first place. He was a man more serious and mature than all the other guys she’d dated. He was also the first guy she dated who didn’t finish college, didn’t work in an air-conditioned office, and didn’t even own a suit. He was a different kind of man, one who had so many attractive traits. It was just hard to appreciate them in her current state.

The rain kept pouring harder, pounding the outside of the tent with a vengeance. More thunder and lightning followed along with heavy gusts of wind. It blew at the walls and foundation of the tent, but it remained stable. Whatever Brent did was working. When he finally entered, he looked somewhat relieved.

“That should do it,” he said breathlessly while dripping wet from the rain. “I added a couple cinderblocks to the stakes. Nothing short of a tornado is going to knock this tent down.”

“Is that another promise or just more wishful thinking?” asked Claire dryly. “Because honestly, I’m not sure you know the difference at this point.”

“It’s the truth, Claire. I know what I’m doing. We’re going to get through this. That’s a promise I know I can keep.”

Claire wanted to scoff, but Brent made that hard for her. That sincere tone along with that country boy attitude just made it hard to stay mad at him. He wasn’t the kind of guy who just told people what he thought they wanted to hear. That was how lawyers spoke and she dealt with enough lawyers at her job. Brent was different and not just because he had the kind of unkempt facial hair that would’ve been out of place in a court room.

Watching him zip up the tent, take off his coat, and dry himself off with a nearby blanket, she saw a man who remained calm and focused in any situation. She’d actually met him at a conference that her firm held in conjunction with the drilling company he worked for. The power went off shortly before the festivities began and everybody was freaking out. Brent was the only one who maintained a level head.

He ended up fixing the power with help from a friend of his, saving the conference and impressing her enough to ask him out. He accepted and from there, he’d kept every promise to her. He made every effort to be the kind of mature, serious man that any woman would’ve loved. The fact he was also so ripped from working on farms and oil rigs certainly helped too.

“Storms like this usually hit hard, but end fast,” Brent said as he dried off his hair and beard. “I doubt it’ll last more than a couple hours, at most.”

“Doubting is not the same as knowing. Take it from someone who spends way too much time around lawyers,” Claire said.

“That’s all you can really do with nature. Out here, things are a lot less certain. You can’t argue or negotiate your way out of a situation. You just got to adapt.”

“That would be so comforting if we weren’t trapped.”

That sounded so pathetic. It wasn’t like they were trapped on top of a mountain. They were less than 20 miles from a motel near a gas station. Her lack of experience in the wilderness really showed.

Brent didn’t make much of it, though. He just crawled over to her, grabbed a dry blanket from his sleeping bag, and wrapped it around her. It gave her the first feeling of warmth she’d experienced since the rain started falling.

“We’re not trapped. I already made sure of that,” he told her with a reassuring gesture. “We’re far enough from the bank so we don’t have to worry about flooding. I packed us plenty of dry goods in case we got stuck. I also know these parts so we can get to the nearest backroads of we have to.”

“Good thing I went to the bathroom down by the river,” she muttered.

“This isn’t the first heavy storm I’ve waited out, either. I’ve been in rougher places with people who aren’t half as tough as you.”

“Funny,” Claire scoffed. “I’m not feeling too tough right now.”

“Babe, you wouldn’t have come out here with me if you weren’t tougher than most,” he told her.

“I thought I came with you because you said I needed to get away from work, home, and pretty much everything else.”

“I hope that’s not the only reason. I’m still hoping I can give you more before tomorrow morning.”

There was that country boy sincerity again. It was so hard to resent. Being so wet and cold, Claire couldn’t help but lean into his warmth either. Between his strength and his imposing physique, typical of that of man who did heavy lifting on an oil rig, there was so much strength in his presence. She needed that strength, as well as the warmth that came with it.

As they huddled close, Brent turned on one of their LED camp lamps. That brought some welcome light to the dreary ambience around them. The howling winds, the pouring rain, and the frequent thunder created a feeling of chaos and danger. In her youth, she would’ve braved that. In her current state, it just made her feel vulnerable.

“I know this isn’t entirely want I promised you,” Brent said. “Believe me, I wanted this to be peaceful, quiet, and relaxing.”

“On that, I trust you,” said Claire with a sigh.

“This was supposed to be a weekend to get away from it all,” he went on, “no work, no cell phones, no distractions, and above all…no complications. Out here, it’s just survive and adapt. No bills to pay. No needless chores. Nothing elaborate that needs us to be more than we are.”

“Is that why you love camping?”

“It’s not about doing something I love doing. It’s about doing something to help the woman I love.”

He hugged her closer in his arms. Despite her dour mood and bad attitude, Brent still embraced her with those powerful arms of his. That didn’t just provide her with some badly needed warmth. It reminded her why she loved this man.

“I don’t deserve a boyfriend like you, Brent,” Claire said.

“Don’t say that. I like to think people earn the love of the right people,” he said.

“Well, by that standard, I don’t think I’ve done my part.”

“Now why do you say that? Just because things aren’t going well on our first camping trip doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Shit like this is totally beyond our control.”

“It’s not about control. It’s how I reacted when I don’t have it. Hell, the more I think about it, the more surprised I am that I didn’t have a breakdown much sooner.”

It sounded so pathetic, getting so overwhelmed by a simple storm during a camping trip. Having only arrived at the site a few hours ago, she’d barely gotten a chance to enjoy the peace and quiet. It still felt like she’d carried all those burdens from back home with her and was taking that out on Brent, a man who went out of his way to help her.

That didn’t stop him from holding her closer. If anything, he seemed more determined to shelter her through the raging storm. That comforted her, but it also reminded her of how messed up she’d been.

“Since we’ve been together – and even a little before that – I’ve become way more uptight than I thought possible,” she went on. “Hell, I used to be adventurous. The younger me would’ve taken this trip with you after our second date.”

“I still see traces of that girl in you, Claire,” he told her.

“Well, you must be looking in the wrong places because that girl disappeared as soon as her job became the center of her life. Suddenly, I had to be the kind of girl who always controlled a situation.”

“I wouldn’t say you were that bad.”

“Brent, I sent itineraries for our first date. I texted you a list of pizza toppings I absolutely hate. I even set up a schedule for sex.”

Brent opened his mouth to respond, but stopped himself before he could get a word out. He ended up laughing awkwardly instead, which would’ve been adorable if another round of thunder hadn’t echoed from outside. To some extent, that further proved her point.

“The point is…the girl you first met was only in the process of becoming this uptight workaholic,” she continued. “You actually got to watch her become the basket case she is now.”

“Hey, there’s still some good in that girl too,” he said, affectionately caressing her face. “We all need a little order in our lives. That’s a big part of why I fell in love with you. I think there’s room for both those girls.”

“I want to believe that too. I need some goddamn balance back in my life, both for my sanity and for you. I love you too much to be the kind of girl who just whines when things don’t go her way.”

“And I love you too much to let you become that girl,” Brent said. “I want to help you get a hold of yourself…to be the girl who didn’t mind taking chances and the girl who can get a hold of herself during a storm.”

“You really think that’s possible for me?” Claire asked, still skeptical.

“I know so. Things is…it isn’t up to me how you go about it. I’m just here to give you chances. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do with them.”

An extra loud gust of wind howled outside their tent, as though nature were trying to add urgency to her choice. Claire found herself tensing up and clinging to Brent a little harder, taking in more of his warmth and adjusting to a situation that she could not control.

In doing so, she looked up at his rugged complexion. There was so much strength in his demeanor, along with facial hair and scars from his work. It showed that he was a man who didn’t mind braving danger and enduring hardship. It reflected his strength as well as his manly sex appeal. Even in the midst of a storm, it had an effect on her.

At the same time, though, that effect revealed something unexpected to her. The raging storm, the stress from work, and the man who’d gone out of his way to be with her – it all sent her a message, one that she’d refused to heed.

“Make a decision,” she said distantly.

In that moment, gazing up at her boyfriend as more lightning flashed outside, a new feeling inside her…one she hadn’t felt in quite some time. That fun-loving, adventurous girl she’d been in her youth finally emerged from her workaholic shell. That version of Claire Conners had to make this decision and the person she’d since become had to accept it.

“Brent,” Claire said after the latest round of thunder passed.

“Yes, Claire?” he asked, still gazing at the LED lamp.

“Make love to me,” she told him.

Brent turned and looked at her as though she’d just grown a second head. That had probably been the last decision from her that he expected to hear. He even blinked a few times in disbelief.

“Um…come again?”

“You heard me, Brent,” Claire said. “Make love to me…in this tent…during a major storm.”

That sounded even crazier when she put it into words, but she remained dead serious. Claire slipped her arms around his neck and leaned in closer, letting him know that he’d heard right and she meant what she said. She really did want him to make love to her at that very moment.

“That’s bold, reckless, and downright impulsive for you, Claire…and I like it!” said Brent.

“Is that your country boy way of saying you’ll do me?” she said clinging to him with more desperation.

“It can be for this and all future camping trips.”

Seeming totally convinced, Brent kissed her passionately on the lips, his wet hair and beard now right in her face. She eagerly kissed back, finding that disheveled feeling an unexpected turn-on. Maybe it was because she’d made the decision on a whim, surrounded by natural chaos she couldn’t control, that it made her so hot.

Dread gave way to excitement. That excitement was fueled by passion as their kissing quickly escalated. The blanket still around her, she pounced onto her lover, throwing her legs around her waist so that he had to take her fully into his arms. From there, they laid down atop her open sleeping back. More kissing followed, soon evolving into full-blown foreplay.

Before long, that wet, cold feeling from being soaked turned into something else. Suddenly, Claire felt a new warmth in her core, one awakened by both her decision and her passions. It made her more aware of her wet, uncomfortable clothes. Even in pouring rain and howling winds, she had to get them off.

“Get undressed,” she said urgently. “I need to feel your skin on mine!”

“That…should help preserve body heat,” said Brent, already sounding dazed.

“Yeah, let that be the reason for getting naked together,” Claire teased.

They both laughed. It was the first time she’d laughed during this trip. She kept on laughing as she rose up from Brent, still on top of him, and slid off her short-sleeved T-shirt and unhooked her bra. As soon as her breasts were exposed to the cold, Brent reached up and fondled them with those burly hands of his. They both kept them warm and added to her arousal.

“So strong and warm,” Claire purred, “just what I needed.”

As Brent rubbed her breasts, she went to work undressing him, unbuttoning his flannel shirt and undoing the belt buckle to his pants. He eagerly shifted his body under her, getting that wet shirt off and pushing down on his pants to get them off. She eagerly assisted, leaving him in a pair of boxers that had been soaked by the storm as well.

Now exposed and clearly in need of some warmth as well, Brent took the initiative, as only he could, and wrapped his powerful arms around her once more. They kissed again, her exposed upper body making contact with his chiseled, hairy chest. It filled her with a fresh round of warmth, just in time for another round of thunder, no less. That quickly became background noise as the foreplay continued.

As their lips and tongues twirled, Brent laid her down on top of the sleeping bag and helped her undo her denim shorts. He then pulled them down her legs, along with her panties, rendering her completely naked. Brent quickly removed his boxers as well, revealing an already sizable erection. Being alone, in nature, and with his girlfriend really turned him on. Something about that just brought a smile to her face.

“Does getting naked with a beautiful woman really make you that horny?” Claire teased.

“Would it be weird if I said yes?” he replied sheepishly.

“I guess that depends on how well you make love to me now.”

“Good to know.”

He replied as though she’d just challenged him, giving him extra incentive to make their lovemaking extra special. She hadn’t intended to send that massage, but she was more than happy to accept the results.

Now naked, still wet and surrounded by muggy cold, Brent pulled the top layer of the sleeping back over top their bodies and got on top of her. Like a miniature cocoon, they were insulated from the elements and he made good use of it.

Now a man on a mission, he got on top of her, kissing and touching her with the utmost passion. So much of his naked body touched hers, conveying both badly-needed warmth and growing desire. He felt up the curves of her feminine frame with one hand while slipping the other between her legs, his strong fingers now grazing the folds of her pussy.

“Ooh Brent!” she gasped. “Your making me so wet!”

“Not because of the rain, I hope,” he teased.

They laughed again and resumed their kissing. She let out more moans as his fingers slid into her pussy, turning that warmth within her core into real heat. As her body writhed under the weight of growing arousal, she felt his penis getting harder as it rubbed against her thigh. The more their bodies touched and more their hands roamed, the greater the need for his intimate warmth.

Despite the ongoing noise from the rain, wind, and thunder, Brent never lost focus. Claire tried to do her part too, wildly raking her hands over his shoulders and back, providing some heat of her own to supplement his arousal. It might have been the most chaotic situation in which she ever had sex and yet, she’d never wanted it so badly.

“Are you ready, Claire?” Brent finally asked her.

“Yes, Brent. I’m ready!” Claire said without hesitation.

Heeding her words, her rugged lover repositioned himself accordingly. Claire did so as well, spreading her legs and wrapping them around his waist in a more intimate embrace. He then carefully maneuvered himself so that his member was aligned with her wet entrance. Her hands now locked on his shoulders while his eyes remained locked with hers, he thrust his hips forward and entered her.

“Ohhh Brent!” Claire moaned.

Her reaction was almost entirely muted by more thunder. It was as though nature was goading her and Brent to make love in the midst of such chaos. Never one to back down from a challenge, Claire gladly rose to the occasion with her lover.

His rigid flesh now deep inside her womanly depths, she kissed him again as their naked bodies began moving together in an intimate union. Even within the confines of a sleeping bag, Brent had plenty of leverage. With each motion her world rocked, his manhood slithering sensually within her womanhood. Their united flesh created more heat – a heat that overpowered any the elements could throw at them.

“Yes! This is what I wanted…what I needed,” she moaned as their naked bodies rocked. “Brent…my love…you kept your promise after all!”

That seemed to motivate him even more. With a grin and a determined glint in his eyes, the burly man stepped up the pace of their sex. Wet naked skin meshed and glided together with ease, sweat mixing with the moisture from the storm. It was like taking the discomfort of nature and turning it into their own unique ecstasy. Something about that just felt so right, as well as so pleasurable.

Claire soon found herself sharing in the effort, kissing her lover and raking her nails down his back. She put more energy into this sex than she had since her fun-loving college years. That version of Claire Conners that knew how to have a good time was officially back and she had been missed.

Through the thunder and the howling wind, she and Brent made the kind of energetic love that felt befitting of a raging storm. They rolled around in the sleeping bag, creating so much heat that the sweat form their bodies soon replaced any remaining moisture from the rain. Somewhere along the way, they ended up with her on her side and him spooning her from behind, eagerly pumping his cock into her in a determined push for her climax.

Now clinging to his arms, bucking her hips every time he thrust into her, Claire could already feel that special ecstasy coming on. It came faster than she expected, as if to reflect the chaos around her.

“Brent, I…I’m coming! I’m about to…come!” Claire cried out.

“Me…me too, babe,” Brent said with labored grunts.

The pace of their sex steadied. Her body was like a spark ready to ignite an inferno. During the final push, she locked her hands with his, their fingers becoming entwined like their bodies. Then, with a few more thrusts, he sent her over the edge.

“Ohhhh Brent!” she exclaimed.

At that moment, she made damn sure she was louder than the thunder. A fresh wave of it echoed from the sky just as she entered an orgasmic state. It was no use, though. She was still louder.

In a moan that could probably be heard by all of nature, Claire climaxed. Her lower body erupted in a surge of heat, sending shudders of raw pleasure up through her body. As she contorted to the feeling, Brent came as well, letting out the deepest, manliest grunt she’d ever heard as he shared in the ecstasy.

It was a beautifully intimate moment in the midst of a raging storm, their bodies consumed with pure pleasure. She felt their hot juices mixing inside her, creating a special warmth that felt just perfect for the situation. After being so cold and uncomfortable just a few moments ago, it was a perfect inversion of her situation…one she chose in a moment of adventurous passion.

“I love you, Brent,” she said.

“I love you too, Claire,” Brent replied.

As they caught their breath together, panting heavily as the rain and wind kept making more noise, they kissed again. Clair then rolled over so that she was lying on her side next to him, their naked bodies still entwined within the sleeping bag. Now warm and content, it was safe to say the camping trip had been a success.

“So,” said Brent after their lips parted, “are you officially a fan of camping now?”

“It’s starting to grow on me,” she said playfully. “For the kind of job I have and the kind of boyfriend I have, I think I could make it part of my life.”

“And I promise I’ll make it both appealing and therapeutic.”

“Spoken like a true man of his word,” Claire said affectionately, “ and a man who can brave any storm for the woman he loves.”

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