"I love you," said Bilingual Papi.
I'll talk to you really soon, I replied, with a big grin on my face that I know transmitted through my voice. I really was smiling, but I bit back the reflexive response. I love you, too.
Why did I pull that back? I'll say it in Spanish to him pretty frequently, yo te amo, papi, while he pounds my ass, tells me to grind, pulls my hair to get my head back and my ear to his mouth level, when he whispers it to me. Yo te amo, mi reina. I love you, my queen. He is very, very free with the te amos. I like to imagine that just means he is getting all hot to trot, that he's just one of those guys who says it like a sexual compliment, in the moment it's true, he loves me. Or maybe he's distant enough from Spanish that it means less, so he can use it as sexual encouragement.
In the end, we don't have enough time for me to ever ask him, what do you mean by that? What do you mean when you say you love me? If we don't have time for that, then we definitely don't have time for him to fall in love. It's just something he growls in the middle of the action.
Except he's started saying good-bye that way.
I'm not exactly sure why I'm hesitant to say those three little words in English, in this context. I have suddenly become a literalist. After months and years of being able to convincingly utter any number of untruths in a convincing fashion—from "your cock is so huge" to "MY cock is so huge," from "I'm wearing a leatherette catsuit and snorting coke" to "yeah, let's kill your baby daughter with certain sex acts"—saying "I love you" should not be an extra stress. Who cares if it's not true? That's what he obviously wants to hear, right?
Except… "I love you" has emotional charge and undercurrent that the other lies I am asked to tell do not. In my mind, "I love you" is something that generally comes with the ease of a longer-term relationship, or it arrives unexpectedly, when you've spent intense hours in someone else's company, not just fucking, but talking talking talking and staring at the country stars or the city skyline and feeding each other. Doing stuff other than talking about how wet and/or hard you are.
Maybe my reluctance stems in part from the fact that I'm already experiencing his emotional charge, it is definitely there, I know he wants to hear it from me, and I block it, because I do feel legitimate affection and I don't want to throw my fuel on his fire. I don't think Bilingual Papi would try to track me down, but I don't want him conceiving a vast tragic love for me. I don't want to have that burden. On top of that, our dynamic echoes an existing relationship that I have with an actual lover, full of power-exchange and daddy/babygirl and a mutual interest in vigorous butt sex. I know I want to keep those lines really intact.
I'm probably overthinking this. Bilingual Papi does not seem to be missing my saying it, let me clear. He hasn't asked me yet why I don't say "I love you" back. I just would like to know in advance what to say when he does.