A somewhat melancholy autumn day for the boys of The Thought of You is Consuming Me.

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I opened my eyes to see the spot next to me in bed was currently empty. I placed my hand there and it still felt warm from Chris’ body. I turned onto my back, looking up at the carved wood ceiling. The room was well-lit with both candles and sunlight from the open windows.

They’d been pulled closed before, so I knew Chris had opened them and lit the candles. I allowed no servants to enter my bedchamber when Chris stayed over. I glanced over and saw him standing there at the window looking out on Bulwary Street, no doubt at the carriages and riders passing by. There’d be fewer now. Though I knew London was never really deserted, even when the Season ended, which it had more than a month earlier.

“You’re up early,” I said.

“Have to be off,” Chris replied, not turning around. “Traveling out of London and to the Country seat this afternoon.”

I knew it of course, but the words and the meaning behind them still hit me hard. We wouldn’t see each other nearly as much over the next several weeks. He would be off to his family’s estates and me to mine. Miles away from London and our almost nightly visits.

I sat up then and swung my leg to the floor.

He turned then, his blue eyes sweeping over me. “You don’t have to get up, Zach. I wasn’t going to bother you.”

“No goodbye?”

“Wasn’t last night’s activities enough of a goodbye?” He smiled, sweet and almost shy. “Temporary anyway. It’s never truly goodbye.”

I rose and went to him. “And it shan’t ever be, Christopher.” I pulled him into my arms, and we kissed deep and slow.

He leaned against me, resting his head against my shoulder. “And when are you off?”

“Not until tomorrow morning. I’ve got some things to settle up here today.”

“Autumn is my favorite time in the country,” he murmured. “Only that we are parted is my one regret.”

“We will make time as always.”

“Yes.” He put his hand on my cheek, the bristle of the growth of beard on my jaw. “I love you. Only you.”

“And you have my love in return. May your journey be a safe one.”

He smiled and kissed me once more. “And yours.”