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Afflicted

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Blurb

It's hard to understand why some people feel the need to hurt themselves, especially when they seem to have everything they need or want out of life. So how do you help someone bent on a path of self-destruction? And what can you possibly do when it's someone you love? This short but powerful story is about a young man who discovers his lover is a "cutter." Simply asking him to stop doesn't solve the problem. As much as he hates to do it, he lays down an ultimatum that will hopefully save their relationship ... and his lover's life.

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Chapter 1

Afflicted

By J.M. Snyder

The first time I saw him naked, I noticed the cuts.

Red, angry scrapes across the pouch of his lower belly, like scratches or claw-marks. “What’s this?” I asked, running a finger over one bumpy scab.

He sucked in his gut to pull out of reach. “Nothing.” His voice turned sullen, pouting, and the erection that jutted from his thick crop of black curls seemed to wilt a little. “I thought we were going to—”

“Did you do this?” I asked, interrupting him. The cuts bothered me; they spoke of a pain I didn’t know how to deal with, and that scared me. He scared me. I thought I’d known him.

When he didn’t reply, I looked up from the cuts and saw the answer in his eyes. Sad, dark eyes, downcast, like the sky before a storm. He couldn’t seem to meet my gaze, as if the cuts embarrassed him, or he was ashamed of his own weakness. “Where else do you do this?” I asked.

Still no answer, but his arms moved behind his nude hips as if hiding from my view and I snatched his right elbow to see for myself. In the low lamplight of my dorm room, I could see very faint traces across his skin, a network of healed flesh. With a hard tug, I pulled him over to my bedside table and turned the lamp up higher, held his arm beneath it. “Please,” he said, trembling when my fingers trailed over the scarred flesh. “It’s nothing, okay? Those are so old.”

Holding his arm aside, I pointed at his stomach. “These aren’t.”

His hand covered the fresh marks as if he could smooth them away, but he didn’t say anything and I knew I was right. Sinking down to sit on my bed, I guided him into the space between my legs and wrapped my arms around his thighs. Ignoring the hard d**k pointing at me, I pressed my face to his belly and kissed the highest cut, just below his navel. His hands cradled my head, fingers delving in my hair, and I waited for him to sigh my name before I admonished, “This doesn’t happen again.”

No response.

My hands curved around his buttocks, rubbing the firm flesh, my fingertips meeting in the cleft between his cheeks. I kissed the next cut, a little lower, then the next, and the next, until my chin grazed the bushy hair at his crotch. Bending down, I planted my lips on his thick shaft, then paused. His skin quivered beneath my breath, and his hands fisted in my hair. “You hear me?” I asked, looking up the lean length of his body to meet his hooded eyes.

The hands on my head tried to push me down but I refused to budge. “Yes,” he sighed. I waited, wanting more. “Yes, please. I promise, all right? I swear, just…”

His words dissolved into a gasp of delight as I took him in my mouth. With my lips, my tongue, my hands, I tried to show him what I felt for him, the love and desire I felt for this body against mine. I hoped he’d remember that the next time he wanted to tear into it.

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