Debra gasped. “Yes. Barney. Do that Barney.” Her fist in her mouth did not really muffle the scream.

I must be hurting her, Barney thought. I know I’m hurting her. God damn she’s noisy. It can’t really be seriously painful. She loves it fast and deep. What’s wrong with me this morning? I can’t catch my breath. Barney’s arm cramped. The pain shot through his chest, breaking the rhythm.

“Barney. Fuck. Fuck me. Oh God, Barney. Do it.” Debra was crying. Her head beating the pillow.

Barney was not always sure when she came. Getting there for Debra was sometimes such a production number. She let it build, hung on the edge, fell back, let it build again. Loving that ride. So even when he knew for sure, he would let her come two or three times before he let himself go. Damn it. What was wrong with him? He felt cold and sweaty. Terrible heartburn. Got to be heartburn. Must have had too much coffee last night. He held himself still, stiff against her, letting her ride his cock. Close to coming. A cramp in his side. He ignored it, thrusting deep again and again. Debra sobbed. Shooting it into her as she came, Barney couldn’t catch his breath. Jesus. He was gasping like a beached fish. He lay there willing his blood pressure to fall back to normal.

Debra, of course, was oblivious. She lay curled on her side, far away as if he had ceased to exist, her knees up, body flushed, hugging herself, contracting...collecting herself, he imagined. Barney tried to sit up, found himself locked in a vise. He rolled away, clammy...furious. Only a hypochondriac would let a simple muscle spasm escalate into something for intensive care. Joe Namath lived with pain worse than this every day of his life, thought Barney. “Shit.”

Debra started. “Barney, what is it?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Barney heard the snap in his voice. “I’m not myself this morning, sweetheart,” he said, more softly, hugging her close. Barney didn’t like the thought creeping into his head. When was the last time he had failed to order an EKG for a patient panting like this, with pain like this? He tried to cancel the thought. Barney Kincaid never gets thrown like this. He had the blood pressure of a teenager. When was that last stress test? Less than six months ago. Normal for a well-preserved man of forty-two with no vices at all. Sex not a vice, he’d always reassured himself. More than a hobby, yes, but less than a crippling obsession. And if you believed in the value of aerobic exercise, what could be healthier, Barney could argue, than spirited fucking?

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