When I was in high school, “going all the way” was slang for having sexual intercourse. The term contrasts with the concept of going only “part way”: kissing, fondling, heavy petting, and so on. The implication was that other forms of sexual expression were inferior or at least incomplete. A girl who had gone all the way was viewed with an attitude that mixed scorn, embarrassment and awe.
As a reader and author of erotica and erotic romance, I've realized that sometimes it's better not to go all the way, at least not at first. These days there's a tendency to cram as much sex into a book as possible; many writers have come to the conclusion that hotter is better. However, characters who jump into bed and into full-fledged intercourse at the earliest opportunity risk becoming boring (what do you do for an encore?) as well as implausible (how likely is it that individuals who just met are going to be in a sweaty clinch fifteen minutes later?).
My work has a reputation for being extremely explicit. (If you have any doubts, read some of the excerpts or free stories at my website!) However, I've been discovering that making my characters wait actually results in hotter (as well as more realistic) stories. Sexually-tinged encounters that stop well short of actual sex build sexual tension as well as providing opportunities to reveal the personalities of the characters.
An example is my tale TheUnderstudy. In this BDSM erotic romance Sarah doesn't actually have sex with dominant Geoffrey Hart until a third of the way through the fifty-odd page story. Up to that point, he teases and tempts her, working subtly on her unrecognized submissive tendencies and stirring her to the point where she's literally willing to do anything for him.
I headed for the stairs, exhausted by the emotional cartwheels I’d been doing. He caught up with me in the front hall. I smelled his cologne, felt his bulk behind me. His hands settled on my shoulders and I really thought, for a moment, that I’d faint from the rush of desire that touch triggered.
“Sarah.” His voice was a caress.
My frustration and resentment evaporated in the heat of my lust.
“I see that you’ve made yourself more―accessible. Wait, don’t turn around.” He let his fingers wander along my throat, tracing my collarbone, then just grazing my taut nipples.
I shuddered with delight.
“Without a bra. Very good.” He gave the aching nubs a symmetrical squeeze.
Pleasure sizzled through me.
He moulded my hips, feeling for a panty line. “And panty-less, too! What a sweet, obedient slut!” He began to raise my skirt.
I remembered that we were in a public place, that a cast member, another guest or a member of the hotel staff might wander into the hall at any moment. “No…” I moaned as he brushed his palm across my exposed bush.
“No? You’d refuse me?”
I felt a fingertip parting my curls, stroking my slippery outer lips. His gentle tap on my clit sent lightning up my spine. I went rigid, holding my breath, silently begging for more. The finger disappeared. His big hands smoothed my skirt over my buttocks.
“No…” I tried to stifle my sob, but knew he wouldn’t miss it.
“Meaning what? Are you mine or not?”
“I―I don’t know.” I was desperate for his touch, but fear held me back. Not the fear of being discovered. The fear of what I might discover about myself.
He twirled me round to face him. “An honest answer. I appreciate that. Just as I appreciate the fact that you’ve followed my instructions. Really, I do.”
I searched his eyes. He appeared to be sincere.
“Then why―why did you ignore me all through dinner?”
His laugh was edged with mockery. “Did you want my attention, little one?”
My cheeks burned.
He cupped my chin. “I thought you might be more comfortable if I wasn’t undressing you with my eyes. Believe me, I saw you, Sarah. I saw your gesture of submission, and rejoiced.”
He bent to me and pressed those arrogant, sensual lips to mine. This kiss was different from the ones in his room. It was deep and quiet, like a pure forest pool. Our mouths locked. Our breath mingled. I seemed to feel his thoughts, probing, questioning, inviting me to fall further under his spell.
I forgot where I was. I was loose, wet, ready to let him take me then and there. When he finally broke the kiss, I felt almost physical pain.
“They’re waiting for me now, your friends. They’re dying for my company, too.” He gave an evil chuckle that reminded me, once again, that he was a rock god and I was just his groupie. “I’ve got to go now.”
When Geoff does finally take Sarah “all the way”, the experience is incandescent, partly because he has made her wait.
Sometimes I get impatient with my characters. When are you going to finally do it? I scold. Four thousand words and you still haven't seen each other naked! But they are wiser than I am. They know that desire isn't usually instantaneous and that deferred gratification is all the sweeter (not to mention hotter!).