Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: A Strong Hand by Catt Ford

Nicholas Sayers, needing money for college, takes a job as assistant to infamous photographer Damian Wolfe. It's just taking pictures, right? Wrong. While Nick has never questioned what kind of man he is or what he truly wants in life, working for Damian during a BDSM photo shoot opens his eyes to all sorts of sexual possibilities, and many of them include the handsome Mr. Wolfe.

Damian has serious doubts about getting involved with a younger man who knows nothing about the BDSM lifestyle, but Nick's adventurous and humorous approach to new experiences is far too alluring to resist. Although he knows it might be a mistake, Damian takes Nick into his life.

Flirting on the edges of control, submission, and pain excites Nick more than he would have ever dreamed possible. With Damian, Nick learns about his own deeply hidden desires and finds out that relinquishing control doesn't make him weak, having someone else in control of his sexual pleasure simply heightens it. And the reverse is true for Damian: Control turns him on. So they set out to explore these sensual boundaries together, neither expecting to find love along the way.

Nick raced up the stairs of the tube station two at a time, hoping he wouldn't be late for work yet again, but the train had been held up and he had to run for it. He pelted along the street, stopping in front of the warehouse building that housed Damian's studio to try to catch his breath. It would never do for his boss to know that he'd hurried so as not to be late. Bad for his image.

He pushed open the outer door and took the lift to the top floor instead of the stairs, hoping he would have caught his breath by the time it arrived.

"Late again?" Damian asked sardonically when he heard the loft door open. He didn't bother to turn around so he didn't see the guilty look that flitted over Nicholas's face.

The voice was surly as usual, with no trace of the regret that shadowed the large dark eyes. "Not very late."

"Well, it hardly matters; the model is even later," Damian fumed.

"What do you want me to do?" Nick asked, dumping his backpack in the doorway where anyone coming in would be sure to trip over it.

"See if Gabe needs anything after you move that damned bag," Damian said. "I'll be in the studio."

Nick kicked the pack out of the way and went to the makeup room, well fitted out with lights for the stylist to do his work. The man was short and bald, dressed in a frilly pink shirt, tight shiny jeans, and high-heeled, pointy-toed boots. He was sitting in the makeup chair reading a magazine and looked up at Nicholas with teasing eyes when he entered.

"Hey, beautiful. Come to cheer a lonely girl's vigil?" the makeup stylist lisped.

Nick shook his head. "Not bloody likely, Gabe. Need anything?"

"How about a flute lesson?"

Nick looked puzzled and then flushed when he caught the import of the comment. "Fuck off, wanker."

"I wouldn't have to, if you helped a girl out," Gabe called after him and snickered as Nick scuttled away quickly. He did so enjoy tweaking the pretty little straight boys.

After a few phone calls to the agency and another half hour's wait, Damian finally emerged from his office to dismiss the stylist. "Sorry, Gabe. You might as well go home. The model seems to be lost or something. He's a no-show."

"You know I get paid for the time just the same, right?" Gabe said, beginning to return his brushes to his kit. "I canceled another shoot to do this one."

"Yeah, I know. I'll make it good with the client. We'll have you back again next time," Damian promised.

Gabe nodded and packed up his case. Damian signed his voucher, and Gabe said, "Thanks for understanding. Some people in the biz--"

"I know," Damian said. "Say no more; not your fault."

"Ta ta then, love," Gabe said, returning to his usual manner.

Damian watched the studio door swing shut quietly after the stylist left. He jumped when he heard Nicholas fling open the door to the bathroom, letting it smack against the wall. "Fuck it all to hell! You don't have to break the fucking door, do you?"

"Sorry," Nick said, and he flushed to the roots of his hair. His eyes dropped, and Damian suddenly noticed how very beautiful he looked when he was ashamed.

"Come into the studio," he commanded, striding into it without looking back to see whether Nicholas was obeying him.

Nick complied, following the photographer silently, hoping desperately that he would know how to do whatever Damian told him to do next.

A strong hand landed on the small of his back and propelled Nicholas forward to where Damian had set up a painted canvas backdrop and what looked to be a ballet bar. "Just kneel there for a minute, will you? I need to check the lighting."

Sighing, Nick got to his knees and crossed his arms, scowling defiantly at the camera.

Ignoring the defiant expression, Damian called out, "Turn around. No, all the way. Away from me, you dolt."

Nick shuffled around on his knees until his back was square to the camera.

"Back toward me. To the left. Your left! Your other left!" Damian sighed in mounting frustration as Nicholas first turned to his right, away from the main light, and then back into his original position. He strode quickly forward and took the boy by the shoulders, jerking him into the position he wanted. "There! That's where I want you. Stay right there and don't move."

He raced back behind the camera, cursing softly to himself. He wondered why he'd never noticed the sculpted cheekbones and elegant jawline of his young assistant. Damian had noticed his eyes, of course; they were hard to miss with their long lashes, but somehow he'd become fixated on Nicholas's nose, directing all his irritation with his incompetent assistant at his nose. The slight asymmetry seemed to take up Damian's entire vision when he looked at Nicholas, but something about the way the lights were caressing the young man's face made his beauty spring to life for him for the first time.

"Nicholas," Damian said softly in a moment of recognition. How could he have been so blind?

"Yeah?" Nick responded, not daring to move from his position.

"The model bailed. And I have this idea, a concept; it's gnawing at me. I want to take the shot. I need to," Damian started to explain.

Nick swung around to face him and nodded. Damian was startled. It looked as if Nicholas understood just what he was saying about his need to create the image in his head and was agreeing with him! What did he study at university again? Whatever. Damian couldn't remember ever asking him.

"I need a model to pull this off. Can I use you?"

"What do I need to do?" Nick asked, his voice interested and bright for the first time in Damian's memory.

"I need to work out the pose, and it'll be cheaper to use you than a model. Just with some of these things of Ashley's," Damian said, waving a careless hand at a table holding various whips and strappy-looking things.

"All - all right," Nick said faintly, looking at the table full of implements with nervous fascination.

"Right. Get up and out of your kit, then," Damian ordered. "I need your bare skin."

He grinned impishly, expecting to have to convince the young man when he refused, but was surprised as without hesitation, Nicholas started stripping right there in the set, tossing his T-shirt off to the side. He stood up to toe his sneakers off and unzipped his pants, only to realize that Damian was staring at him. His hands hesitated. "Am I doing it wrong?"

Damian laughed. "There's no wrong way to get undressed. Especially if...." He trailed off, thinking it might not be wise to bandy racy comments with his assistant. On the other hand, the way things were going, Nicholas wouldn't be around that long anyway. "Especially with a tight little ass like yours," he resumed, figuring it didn't make much difference if Nicholas ran screaming into the night. No model, no shot, at least for today. "Green socks?"

"Oh. I thought maybe I shouldn't be throwing my clothes on the floor," Nick muttered, ignoring the comment on his brightly colored socks.

"Throw them wherever you like, other than in the set," Damian said generously, excited by the prospect of a compliant model to play with for a couple of hours. This way he could get his idea worked out before the expensive model arrived.

Nick continued to strip, feeling a bit flustered, but Damian was no longer looking at him, so he made short work of it. He stood there naked, waiting for the next instruction.

Damian came over and took him by the arm, leading him to a lump under the canvas. "Kneel on that; I put some packing foam under there. It'll be easier on your knees."

"Away from the camera?" Nick asked.

Damian rolled his eyes. "Yes, away from the camera. Right there." He pointed insultingly.

Nick dropped to his knees, grateful for the soft cushioning under the backdrop. His knees were bony, and the concrete floor had hurt when he knelt there earlier.

Damian came back to him making a clanking noise, and Nick darted an anxious glance at the photographer. He was carrying black leather restraints of some kind, linked together by a length of silver chain.

"Give me your hands," Damian ordered.

Silently, Nick held out his wrists.

The leather cuffs were long, almost like a gauntlet, running nearly to Nick's elbows. Damian fastened the various buckles on the right arm, passing the chain over the bar in front of Nick. It was quite high, almost to Damian's shoulders, and Nick had to raise his arms for Damian to attach the second restraint.

After Damian had him securely bound to the bar, he stroked the smooth, honey-toned skin of Nicholas's bare shoulder. "Okay?"


Damian thought Nicholas's voice had sounded a bit breathless, but he was so excited to see his artistic vision come to life that he paid it no heed, bounding back behind the camera to check angles and lighting.

He suppressed a gasp, swallowing it when he saw the lithe form, lean muscles taut in the slender shoulders, buttocks round and tempting, and the glossy dark curls shining under the sole light source. He really was blind, Damian marveled. It was a mercy that the insipid blond model actually hired for the shoot hadn't turned up. Nicholas was perfect for this. Damian enjoyed the sight of the muscles in Nicholas's thighs twitching slightly as he fought to remain still.

Damian checked his focus and snapped off a couple of quick shots. "You doing okay?" he called out.

"Yeah, fine," Nick said, turning to look back over his shoulder just as Damian snapped the shot.

"Now don't do that again if you don't want a recognizable shot of you naked in handcuffs. Stay... fucking... still," Damian snarled.

Nick turned away quickly. His heart was beating so hard and loud; he was surprised that Damian couldn't hear it. The thought of Damian owning a shot of him, naked and restrained to a bar, made his cock twitch, and he wasn't even gay! Was he? No, Nick thought resolutely, he wasn't and he wasn't going to be converted. He was just helping his employer. Nothing more.

His heart slowed when nothing more happened and the lights didn't flash again. It was quiet so long, he wanted to turn around again and see what Damian was up to, and he was just about to when he felt something chilly at his ankle.

"Wh-what's that?" Nick asked nervously, flinching as he felt cold metal close around his ankle.

Without answering him, Damian pushed his legs apart with his foot. Nick suddenly felt very vulnerable and exposed, his cock swelling but not hard yet, his balls dangling where he was sure Damian could see them. Hell, Damian could probably see everything that was to be seen about his arse!

Nick jumped when Damian spread his legs even further and a cold cuff was clamped about his other ankle. When the strong hands released him, Nick tried to move his legs together but found he couldn't.

"No need to worry; it's just a spreader," Damian said in a very pleased tone of voice. "Excellent. You were born to wear one. You look great in it."

Faint sounds told Nick that Damian had retreated behind the camera once more. It made him feel a tiny bit safer, but not safe enough. Trussed the way he was, he could barely move. Nick had never been able to please Damian before and hearing approval in his employer's voice was... heady. On the other hand, he had also never had his legs held apart and trapped before, and it was disturbing. He was just trying to calculate whether he could manage to get to his feet with the spreaders on when the lights flashed, practically blinding him because he wasn't ready.

"You could warn a person!" Nick yelled with an energy that surprised even him.

"Sorry," came the distracted reply.

Somehow Nick knew that Damian wasn't going to remember to warn him the next time either. He squirmed uncomfortably; wearing these restraints somehow made him feel more naked than when he'd just taken off his clothing. He wondered how long Damian--

The lights blinded him again, but he didn't say anything this time.

"Stick your ass out a little. No, back, toward me. More. No, too far, go back to where you were. Okay, back it up again. There! Hold it right like that!"

The lights flashed in quick succession, and Nick's hip twinged. He hoped he'd be able to hold the pose as long as Damian wanted without his back cramping up.

"What's the scar from?"

"Oh, sorry," Nick muttered. "Uh, an accident. Had to have an operation."

"It's beautiful," Damian responded.

Nick was outraged; how dare Damian say that? He knew it was ugly, and it sure as hell hadn't been beautiful acquiring it. "Har fucking har," he retorted sarcastically.

"Shut up," Damian said, in his dreamy, crazy-artist voice.

Nick shut up accordingly. He knew Damian wouldn't hear whatever he had to say anyway. His arms were falling asleep as the blood drained from them.

"Okay, straighten up a bit. Now turn your head to the left slightly. Oh, very good, you remembered which way left is. I want the light to just catch the edge of your cheekbone and the line of your jaw. Right there. Hold it."

Again, the flurry of lights. By now Nick knew to close his eyes, seeing as Damian wasn't shooting his face anyway. When the sequence of flashing lights ended, he pulled on his arms to stretch his back, trying to ease the building tension in his shoulders.

"Will you stop wiggling around? Just stay where I put you until I say you can move," Damian demanded irritably, striding forward and pushing Nicholas back into position. "Do as you're told, boy."

"Yes, sir!" Nick hissed angrily.

"And stop talking, or I'll swat you," Damian instructed.

Nick froze into position, except for his cock, which rose in a slow steady swell of blood. The heat pooled at his groin made him fidgety but he didn't want to know whether Damian was serious about his threat. He sounded as if he would do it.

Nick jumped as he felt warm hands land on his hips. Something brushed across his arse and he yelped, even though it hadn't hurt at all.

"Stay still, dammit!"

Fuck, Nick thought, he sounds serious. He concentrated on keeping his body positioned exactly as Damian had left him.

Finally his back and hip were signaling dire distress and Nick had to move, letting out a little groan. He yelped and flinched as a hard hand cracked against his arse, sending a burst of heat through his left cheek.

He turned instinctively just as the flash went and heard a click.

"Will you hold still now, or do you want me to swat you again?"

Damian's voice came from almost directly behind him, where he was standing with the cable release in his hand. Nick fell silent and turned away from the camera again. He could see the handprint in his mind, red against the whiter skin of his arse. He was suddenly very embarrassed and humiliated to know that Damian had taken a picture of him that way and wondered what insanity had led him to yank off his clothes and kneel here unresistingly while Damian took more photographs. Not that he had much choice now that he'd let Damian tie him up. The words alone sent a shiver of arousal over his bare skin.

"Got it," Damian breathed, when he'd captured the final shot. He came to himself then and chuckled as he took in the slim body of his assistant, stretched and bound, muscles moving under the smooth skin as he strained to remain still; a picture of sensual promise.

"Sorry, Nicholas. I got a little caught up in my vision," Damian apologized as he came forward to release the young man. He chuckled as he saw the palm print on the boy's round, enticing cheek. Had he really done that?

He knelt behind Nicholas, leaning just a little closer than necessary to take in a whiff of the faint vanilla scent that clung to the boy as he released the ankle cuffs on the spreader bar.

Nick shivered and the fine hairs on his back stood up as he felt the heat of Damian's body so close to his. For a moment, the man was kneeling behind him and Nick was trapped there, cuffed and spread. If Damian were to try something, take his pleasure, Nick wouldn't be able to do a thing to defend himself. He was terribly frightened, and yet his cock was betraying him by remaining achingly hard.

Damian noticed that the boy was trembling and gently released one arm, hanging on to the other one, sensing that Nicholas was about to bolt with the restraint still buckled onto his wrist. Once he had set the boy free, Nicholas sprang to his feet with a coltish grace, keeping himself turned away from Damian. He ran for his clothes, scooped them up, and headed straight for the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind him.

Damian remained where he was, running the leather restraints through his fingers, still warm from Nicholas's heat. He could smell a hint of arousal on the air. So the boy had been turned on by this? Until now, Damian had been so involved with making the shot in his head a reality that he hadn't even considered the ramifications of having the beautiful young man, naked and bound, kneeling before him.

He heard the outer studio door slam shut violently and smiled. Probably that meant he'd seen the last of Nicholas, but damn, the boy was delicious. His cock was pressing uncomfortably against his zipper, so Damian unzipped to relieve himself a little. When he pulled his cock out, the air was cool against his heated flesh, and his hand felt good. He closed his eyes, kneeling there, right behind where he'd had Nicholas restrained and spread, and he stroked himself off, gloating over the beauty that they had created together. He came with a stifled groan, shooting onto the canvas right where Nicholas had knelt.

Never had Nick been so grateful that he followed the fashion of his peers. It was one thing to be an independent thinker and go against the tide, but sometimes it was better if one wore baggy pants, giving one a fighting chance of hiding a raging hard-on.

He could feel his erection sway with every step he took, his boxers softly rubbing against the swollen head of his cock. He hoped he wouldn't come in his pants before he got back to his shabby little cold-water flat.

He took a seat in the train, because the tube was fairly empty at this hour. And then he stood right back up again when he saw how his erection tented his pants. Only a blind man could miss it. Soberly, he studied the advertisements over the windows, willing his prick to go down, but with minimal success.

He usually had several hard-ons and jacked off a minimum of once over the course of a day, but now he was hard enough to pound nails. When he got off at his station, every step was an effort. For the first time he wondered whether briefs might not actually be better. Surely they'd be more... restrictive when one was in a state? Nick groaned; just thinking the word "restrictive" made his cock jump again.

There was nothing for it but to hurry. He made it to the outer door of his building and raced up the stairs. At least that effort made his erection go down a bit. By the time he unlocked his door, he was in hopes that he had it under control because he was not going to give in to this - whatever it was.

He went into the tiny bathroom and lowered his pants, pulling his boxers down with them. He stood on the edge of the tub, twisting and craning until he could get a glimpse of his own arse in the mirror, with a handprint blooming rosily on his cheek.

"Blooming idiot, Nicky," Nick muttered and then laughed at himself. "What the hell was I thinking? If I was thinking."

But there it was, a blush-red mark with a paler edge all around it. As he looked at it, the palm print began to throb, sending a rhythmic pulse straight to his groin. His cock rose up again, hot and hard, pointing to the ceiling. He couldn't remember ever being this hard before, and it was killing him.

He tried to think of his last girlfriend's breasts, or failing that, the girlfriend before as he stroked himself, rubbing his thumb over the head slippery with his precum. He panted as he stroked faster, adding a little twist with each pass, but he couldn't quite.... Suddenly the sound of Damian's hand cracking against his arse filled his mind and he imagined how the other man must have looked when he delivered the smack, and then he was coming with a hoarse cry, harder and longer than ever before.

He was on his knees when he recovered his senses, one hand clutching the sink, the other wetly wrapped around his limp dick, gasping at the memory of what had happened between him and his employer.

"Holy fuck," he whispered.

After Damian had cleaned up and put himself tidily back together, he took his camera into the darkroom to unload the film. He shot digital on occasion, but he still preferred the older, manual single-lens reflex; it gave him so much more control over lighting, depth of field, and focus.

He couldn't wait to develop these shots and see what he had.

Patiently he mixed a batch of chemicals and got the developer up to speed. He fed the film into the spooler and waited at the other end to see what came out. When the leading edge of the negative appeared, he bent closer, getting a nose-full of the acrid smell. He lifted the end to peer at it against the red light and began to smile.

Once the entire length of film had rolled out, he took it to the light box, although it was still damp. Even without a loupe, he could tell this was the perfect pose to show off the spreaders, with the added benefit of the chained cuffs. Ashley would be thrilled.

The lines of submission in the bound body coupled with the undeniable elegance of the curves and planes of his form made Nicholas the perfect model for this job.

Except, Nicholas wasn't a model. In fact, Nicholas was most likely not going to be coming back at all. Damian smiled ruefully as he surveyed the rest of the shots. He paused, arrested when he came to the shot where he had spanked Nicholas.

He licked his lips as he looked at it. It was delicious. The camera had caught the moment when Nicholas looked back over his shoulder, his lips parted with surprise, his eyes wide, showing fear, shock, and an arousal that Damian felt sure he would have preferred to hide.

The way his body was angled revealed one dark nipple, large and luscious, begging to be pinched. Nicholas had managed to twist his body enough that his cock was barely backlit, outlined against the backdrop, a cock that was hard and standing upright, hungry for attention.

Damian's hand brushed over the bulge in his jeans when he saw his own handprint on Nicholas's ass, like a brand of ownership, the reddened skin contrasting with the pale, subtly curved flesh.

"I must have a print of that one," Damian muttered. No matter what, that shot was going to be a permanent and prominent part of his own private collection, the one he never showed the world.

He reached for his cock and stroked himself to another massive orgasm, his gaze glued on the best shot he'd ever taken, until he closed his eyes as ecstasy washed over him.

Nick woke up with a start. The alarm hadn't gone off but he had. He smiled ruefully. After jacking off in the bathroom, he'd settled down to study, only to have to yank his mind back to his books every two seconds.

Now he was lying in a puddle of his own rapidly cooling cum. And yet his cock was still half-hard.

"Dude," Nick said out loud, but softly. "You're going to have to stop thinking about it."

Instead, he thought about it some more, his stomach fluttering with the thrill that rolled through him whenever he went over the entire afternoon, step by excruciating step. He thought he knew what he was doing when he took his clothes off. He was an art student, and he'd modeled for pay before; besides, he'd watched Damian at work, and the man never laid a hand on his models.

It must be something about him, he thought miserably. Something that he didn't know about himself but that Damian could see that would make the man tie him up. No, not merely tie him, but put those leather restraints on his wrists, stretching him to trap him at the bar. And then the spreaders. The cold metal had contrasted with the enticing warmth of Damian's fingers, barely brushing his skin as he locked Nick into them.

He rolled onto his knees. Without realizing it, Nick's left hand was fondling his balls as he stroked his cock with his right. He thought about Damian's hands on him, caressing his arm gently, and finally that strong hand chastising him with a hard swat to the arse.

And then Nick cried out as he came yet again, arching his back so his throbbing backside was raised up, offered to the man he imagined to be standing behind him.

Author Bio:
Catt Ford lives in front of the computer monitor, in another world where her imaginary gay friends obey her every command.

She likes cats, chocolate, swing dancing, sleeping, Monty Python, Aussie friends, being silly, spinning other realities with words, and sea glass. She dislikes caterpillars, cigarette smoke, and rude people who think the F-word (as in faggot, or bundle of sticks) is acceptable.

A frustrated perfectionist, she comforts herself with the legend about the weavers of Persian rugs always including one mistake so as not to anger the gods, although she has no need to include a mistake on purpose. One always slips through. Writing fiction has filled a need for clever conversations, only possible when one is in control of both sides, and erotic romances, where everything for the most part turns out happily ever after.