Sunday, September 10, 2017

Week at a Glance on Padme's Library: 9/4/17 - 9/10/17









































Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Kiss of Leather by Morticia Knight Part 2


Kiss of Leather is the pet project of close friends and Doms, Gavin, Derek and Josh. As business partners, they envision the gay BDSM club to be the premiere destination for both demonstrations and play in not only Los Angeles, but the entire country. Designed to attract the most elite of players, Kiss of Leather is built from the ground up to their exact specifications.

Take a peek behind the gates which guard Kiss of Leather. It’s the club that promises a completely decadent experience to stimulate your senses–and that leads unsuspecting Masters and subs to their Happily Ever Afters.

Gaining Trust #5
Summary:
Chuck isn’t sure what he needs and Master Jordan can’t wait to show him.

Stone’s shy junior investigator, Chuck, can no longer deny his interest in the BDSM lifestyle. The beautiful connections and raw emotions he’s witnessed between so many of the Doms and subs at Kiss of Leather, leave him yearning for something he’d never dared hope he could have: unconditional love and care from a man. He isn’t sure if he can take the chance of having a real relationship when he’s not out to his meddling parents yet, but the sexy Master Jordan, Gavin’s friend and the owner of Club Consequence, makes him want to take that chance.

Master Jordan has been biding his time until he can get next to the super-fine Chuck. Gavin warned him that Chuck wasn’t in the lifestyle, but there’s something special about him that Jordan can’t deny. When they’re finally alone, the chemistry is off the charts and Jordan can tell it won’t take much to bring Chuck willingly into the world of BDSM.

An unexpected development in the case of Corey’s kidnappers shocks them all, but not as much as what happens with Chuck’s family. Jordan teaches Chuck that secrets hold power over the person keeping them, and that gaining trust can only be achieved through complete honesty.

Cutting Cords #6
Summary:
Liam yearns for Master Neal’s harsh touch, but Neal fears that a part-time Master can’t give a full-time sub everything he needs.

Liam’s world crumbled after the unexpected death of his Master. Prone to panic attacks and other social anxiety, Liam doesn’t believe he’ll ever find another Master who would be willing to take on such a challenged sub fulltime. Too distraught to go back to Club Consequence where he met the man he thought he’d be with forever, he decides to give Kiss of Leather a try.

After doing a piercing gig at Kiss of Leather, Master Neal signs up to become a member. On the night he performs a demo as the final step to being accepted, he meets a sub who brings out his protective urge and makes his heart come alive. Neal isn’t scared off by Liam’s anxiety or social awkwardness. On the contrary, he finds the sub to be refreshingly honest and endearing.

They try out a scene to see if they’ll click, and their connection is everything they’d both hoped it could be. However, the road to love and a Total Power Exchange isn’t an easy one. Neal still hasn’t discovered all there is to know about Liam’s traumatic upbringing, and he’s not sure if he’d ultimately be the right Master for Liam.

Both men are forced to face the truth about love, life and what it means to share it with another person. But before Liam can start over with Neal, he’ll have to cut the cords to his past and trust that Neal will be there to catch him when he does.

๐Ÿ’ฅReader Advisory: This book contains references to a traumatic and abusive upbringing.๐Ÿ’ฅ

๐Ÿ“šPublisher's Note: This book is best read in sequence, as part of a series.๐Ÿ“š

Facing Fears #7
Summary:
As the men of Kiss of Leather celebrate the resolution of the case of Corey’s kidnappers, Master Hunter worries that he’ll never see Tobey again.

Chuck isn’t about to let one of the key figures behind Corey’s kidnapping get away from him again. Everything he and Stone have discovered through their months-long investigation is about to come together. However, when Chuck follows the suspect to a shipyard, it’s not only his life that’s in danger.

Master Hunter is officially part-owner of Kiss of Leather, so he’s thrilled to raise a toast in celebration, now that the mystery of Corey’s kidnapping has been solved. However, he can’t help but feel left out. Everyone is paired up except for him. He’s never believed in monogamy before, but after Tobey unexpectedly left Kiss of Leather and no one knows where he’s gone, did Hunter make a horrible mistake by not sharing his true feelings?

Tobey is miserable ever since leaving West Hollywood and going back to Idaho. Breaking his own promise to himself by falling in love with his trainer, Tobey left Kiss of Leather impulsively after Master Hunter said something horrible to him. But things at home are worse than ever, and he’s come to realize that those who are related to him by blood aren’t necessarily his true family. The only place he’s ever felt he truly belonged was at Kiss of Leather.

Tobey has to face Hunter if he goes back to Kiss of Leather and Hunter has to figure out what he really wants from life and love. It takes a charity slave auction to show them what they’ve both been too stubborn to see.

๐Ÿ’ฅReader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence.๐Ÿ’ฅ


Gaining Trust #5
“I love you, Master.”

Josh gazed down at David, down at his beautiful, precious sub. Almost lost to me forever. He swallowed past a lump in his throat as he stroked the sweat-dampened strands of David’s hair back from his forehead before taking his mouth in a leisurely kiss. David’s frantic breaths slowed, his rapid heartbeat calming in the aftermath of their shared orgasms. Josh tightened the grasp he had on David’s hands. He’d kept them imprisoned above David’s head while they’d fucked on the enormous bed, while he’d held his sub down as he’d plowed into him over and over.

This cruise was the perfect idea.

It had been a time for them to begin the process of healing the rift that’d formed in their relationship brought about by Josh’s own thoughtless actions. Ten glorious days of alone time, floating from island to island in the Caribbean and reveling in their love. It was no less than David deserved. But even more than that, he deserved a Master who put his sub before anything else, no matter what.

Which is why there have to be even bigger changes, going forward.

Josh placed one last kiss on the corner of David’s lips before releasing his hands and propping himself up on his elbows. David let out a low moan of protest.

Josh chuckled lightly. “I don’t want to squash you, sweetheart.”

“Squash me all you want.”

David reached up to embrace Josh’s shoulders, clinging to him roughly enough that it caused a stab of shame in Josh’s heart. A sigh escaped David’s mouth as Josh’s cock slipped from his lover’s ass. Given the way David showed no signs of letting go anytime soon, Josh decided to run with it. They could worry about cleaning up later.

“What’s going on inside that gorgeous head of yours?”

Josh held David’s gaze. In spite of everything that had occurred between them, Josh had no doubt when it came to his ability to read his sub. When I’m paying attention, that is. Beating himself up forever wouldn’t help things, but his bad behavior was recent enough that he knew it would still take some time to fully forgive himself.

“I love you so much.” David’s voice cracked. “And thank you again for the cruise, this has been amazing. I wish…” He cleared his throat, then glanced away.

“You wish?”

Josh had to voice the question, even if he was certain he already knew the answer. Communicating, and no longer hiding their feelings from each other, was imperative to their future as a couple.

Josh stopped David as he was about to answer. “I need you to look at me, boy.”

David met his gaze, his expression uncertain. “It’s not easy for me to tell you what I want. I got so used to… Well, you know.”

Josh fought back his own shame again. It wasn’t about him at the moment. “I know. And I’m still working through breaking the awful habits I formed by disregarding you, but we’ll work on it together, right? We’re not alone in this relationship, we have each other. That’s the only thing we need to remember, that we’re a team.”

David’s smile lit up his face. “Yeah. I like that, a team.”

Josh gently rolled to the side. David didn’t completely let go, but let his hand travel from Josh’s shoulder to around his neck. Josh wasn’t ready to pull David close yet. For what still needed to be discussed before their vacation was over, he wanted to maintain eye contact.

“So, bearing that in mind, what was it you wanted to say?”

David blinked a few times as if trying to bring his thoughts back to the surface. “Oh, right. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, though.” He drew his eyebrows together, forming a deep crease between them. David had always deferred to him within their D/s dynamic, even from the beginning. It was why, when David had used his safeword to put their relationship on pause, Josh had been so surprised, so utterly devastated.

Lesson learned.

“Let’s hear it, boy. I’ve never viewed you as ungrateful and you know that.”

David pressed his lips together before answering. “Okay. I was going to say that I wish this wasn’t our last night before the ship docks. Because after this we’ll be headed back home and back to everything else.”

Josh nodded. He’d anticipated all along that David would likely experience sadness when their romantic getaway had reached its conclusion. Josh was surprised by how down he was about it too, since all along it had been intended as a gift to David. It made what he was about to say all the more poignant.

“I agree. I wish that, too.”

David’s eyes widened. “You do?”

“God, yes.” Josh placed a light kiss on David’s lips before pulling back to continue. “This has been one of the best times I’ve ever had with you and a part of me wishes it would go on forever. Yet, there’s another part of me that understands that if we were to have it like this all the time, the specialness of it would be lost. And what I really desire for us is to anticipate each new day together with joy—no matter where we are.” Josh cleared his throat, ready to bring his sub in on a very important decision that would drastically affect their lives. “That’s why, when we get back to LA, I’m going to let Gavin and Derek know that I’d like to bring in another partner at Kiss of Leather so that I no longer have to spend as much time there.”

David’s mouth fell open, his eyes like saucers. “Oh no, oh my God. I didn’t mean to mess everything up, for you to give up a part of your dream business!”

David’s agitated response was stronger than he’d expected. Josh cupped David’s cheek. “Hey, sweetheart. It’s okay. I’ve thought about this more than you can imagine. You haven’t messed anything up and I’m not completely letting go of Kiss of Leather either. I’d just like to split my share with someone else so that I can focus more on my life with you.”

David’s lower lip trembled. Okay, wasn’t expecting that.

“I’m sorry. I know how much you love the club, how hard you’ve worked on it for so long.”

“David,” Josh lowered his voice until it was almost a whisper. “Do you know how much I love you? We both know I fucked up, that I behaved as if the club was more important than anything else and I almost lost the best thing that’s ever happened to me because of it. The resentment you told me you can’t help but have about Kiss of Leather because of all that happened?” Josh let out a small snort. “Well, guess what. I have it too.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.” Josh pulled David to him for a hug. Their chests touched, David’s smooth skin warm against his own, his heartbeat rapid as if excited by Josh’s declaration, or perhaps nervousness. Either way, he’d verify that his sub was handling the changes in their lives every step of the way.

Josh loosened his hold then rested his head on the pillow to lock gazes with David again. There was just enough light seeping through the crack they’d left in the bathroom door to see the glimmer in David’s eyes. Josh reached over to repeatedly brush David’s hair back from his face. The gesture was soothing to Josh and he hoped it was for David too.

“So,” Josh kept his voice soft to underscore the fact that everything was absolutely fine. “I’d like to start fresh with everything. Our relationship with each other and our relationship with the club.”

David furrowed his brow. “Our relationship with the club? How do you mean?”

“One of the things that soured you to Kiss of Leather was the fact that you weren’t included, and you know what? I can’t believe I never realized how eloquent you are. At the grand opening, you did a fantastic job hosting the night, making all the introductions. I was thinking that we could work on theme nights and putting together special demonstrations.” Josh ran his fingers through David’s brown hair as he smiled at the thought of them working alongside each other. “Maybe do a few of our own. What do you think?”

“I…” David swallowed. “Wow. Yeah, that’d be cool. And you really think I did a good job?”

“Hmm.” Josh scrunched up his face as if in deep contemplation. “No, not good. I do believe I said fantastic.” He nodded against the soft bedding. “Yes. That was definitely it, fantastic.”

David grinned wide and Josh’s heart filled with his love for him. He’d do anything to see David happy, for him to never experience emotional pain at Josh’s hand again.

“Okay, I’d love to.” David’s voice was breathless. “Can we start planning as soon as we get back? Did you have an idea what you want to do next? We haven’t done any public demonstrations in a super long time.” David sucked in a quick breath. “What about the wrapping we learned at the BDSM convention in San Francisco?”

“Mmm.” Josh pulled David close again, his boy’s enthusiasm reviving his own, but in a much more physical way. “That all sounds wonderful. But first…” Josh dragged his tongue up the side of David’s neck, eliciting a desperate gasp from his sub in response. “I want the love of my life all to myself.”

Josh rolled David under him, his cock firming back up as he slid it against David’s growing length. Their passion built slowly this time. Josh reveled in every touch, kiss and thrust until they both cried out in ecstasy, together.

For always.

Cutting Cords #6
Chuck rubbed his palms together then wiped the sweat onto his jeans. He straightened, reaching behind himself to massage the tight muscles in his lower back. It had been a bitch of a weekend, but he was damn pleased. He glanced around his empty apartment and grinned. I’m all Jordan’s now. He sighed, contented beyond words. My Master.

The drip, drip, drip of the bathroom faucet caught his attention. Chuck frowned. That won’t do. It was also probably wise to do a final verification that nothing else was amiss or had been left behind. He’d already been through the apartment twice, but he’d obviously missed the leak. The previous two times he’d checked that everything had been taken care of, there had been a few empty plastic grocery bags under the kitchen sink and an old pair of gloves on the top shelf of the entryway closet.

Once he’d fiddled with the spigot for a while, he determined that the faucet likely needed the services of a professional. He’d been at Jordan’s almost continuously for two weeks, so the problem must have begun then. I’ll have to contact the management company.

Since he was already in the bathroom, he took a moment to appreciate the authentic art deco tile lining the bottom half of the walls and in the shower. The porcelain sink with exposed steel pipework underneath added to the feel of a bygone era of Hollywood. Sure, there were chips in both the tile and the sink, along with some shoddy patching jobs, but he’d always loved his little place. The day he’d signed the lease had been one of the best of his life. It was the first home that had been all his, and he’d been there for six glorious, family-free years.

For the most part.

His mother’s tentative voice echoed from the empty living room as if he’d conjured her from the ether. “Charles? Are you here?”

He groaned, the noise mostly to himself. Maybe if I’m really quiet, she’ll go away. The telltale click of her heels on the tiled floor as she approached signaled that he’d have no such luck.

“Oh.” Her startled voice squeaked out the moment she rounded the corner and spotted him. “There you are. Why didn’t you answer me?” Surprisingly, her tone didn’t have the typical edge of reproach he was accustomed to when she questioned him. The query wasn’t out of character for his mother, but it came off as merely inquisitive as opposed to combative.

Chuck internally chastised himself for immediately falling back into a defensive mode in response to her. That part of his life had been left behind the moment he’d outed himself to his bigoted and racist family, the moment when he’d not only told them he was gay, but that he was in love with a black man who also happened to be his Dom. A whole new world had opened up to him—one that he was eager to embrace—and he didn’t need his mother to start in on him the way she always had.

“Charles?” She pressed her lips together then averted her eyes. The chain of her Chanel bag jangled as she fiddled with it. A flush rose to her cheeks.

I didn’t invite her here. If she has something to say, it’s up to her to speak.

For so many years, he had been the one to try and make everything better, to smooth things over with his mother or the rest of the family, to defer to them in order to avoid any conflict. To hide. To lie. To condemn myself to being alone.

“I don’t know why you’re here.” He wouldn’t ask why, but he wanted to make it clear that he expected her to explain herself.

She nodded shakily but still wouldn’t meet his gaze. “I understand. I should’ve come sooner, but…”

His mother broke into sobs, slapping a hand to her mouth, her shoulders quaking from her obvious attempt to maintain control. The pull at his gut whenever she dissolved into tears, the sympathy that washed over him the way it always had from her crying, only served to irritate him. Yet, this time, the emotional display had more of a ring of truth to it. And no matter how horrid she’d been, she was his mother. Chuck wasn’t willing to sacrifice the quality of his life any longer, but he didn’t necessarily need to cut her out completely. Unless she chooses to do it to me. He wouldn’t apologize for who he was or the way he lived his life. Never again.

Chuck crossed his arms. His mother had never shown him much in the way of affection, but the urge to reach out to her was compelling. However, he was far from ready to go there. “Mom, come on. Calm down.” He scrubbed his face with one hand, dropping the other to his side as he glanced around the room. He caught sight of them both in the mirror, a picture he hadn’t seen in a while. The image certainly didn’t mimic the stiff, formal family portrait hanging over the mantel of his parents’ fireplace. “Let’s at least go out to the living room. Jordan’s going to be back any minute.”

She jerked her head up, her eyes going wide.

That got her attention.

“Oh.” She lifted the flap to her purse then dug around inside before retrieving a handkerchief. After she’d dabbed at her nose and eyes, she squared her shoulders. “Is that…Jordan? Is that a man you’re expecting?”

Chuck tempered his words the best he could. He was marginally successful. “Yes, mother. I haven’t miraculously begun dating women.”

His mother huffed before smirking at him. The expression was oddly comforting in an old-shoe sort of way. It made her seem more familiar.

“Yes, Charles, I assumed. But Jordan could be both a woman’s or a man’s name.”

“And you’d held out hope anyway.”

Her shoulders slumped as she sighed. “I suppose I did. But… Please try to understand, Charles. It was such a shock.”

Chuck arched his eyebrows. “Was it really? All those years? You even said to me that you and Dad were beginning to wonder why I’d never brought anyone home to meet you.”

“Well, we…I…” She threw her hands in the air. “I didn’t know what to think.”

Chuck’s patience had begun to wear thin. He still didn’t understand why she’d picked right then to reappear. “I’m going to the living room. You can follow if you want.”

As he breezed past her she let out another aggravated sound. I bet she wants to tell me that she’s never been so insulted in all her life. But perhaps she’s just as tired of saying it as I am of hearing it.

Once he’d reached the front area of the apartment, he silently willed Jordan to materialize. With nothing left in his former home to provide distraction, his mother’s presence became even more awkward than it already was. No tea to make or excuse that he was getting ready to leave for work or a run. Just the bare room and the two of them.

When she finally appeared, she stopped just within the threshold. Gone was the command of the space that she’d perfected over the years. Instead of holding her chin high and gazing around with a resolute glare as if she owned the place, she stood alternately wringing her hands and fumbling with her purse.

Chuck had reached his tolerance level for waiting her out. “Well?”

She regarded him with a pained expression. “Charles, I-I don’t want to lose you forever. You’re my only son, my only child, and I was hoping…” She winced. “Can you forgive me? I’ve been so upset these past couple of weeks.” She held her purse to her body with an iron grip, as if it might shield her. “Your grandfather won’t speak to me and your father…” She sniffed. “Well, he’s not speaking much either. As a matter of fact…” Her bottom lip trembled. “He’s been staying at his friend Steve’s house.”

Chuck furrowed his brow. “I don’t understand. Why are they punishing you because I’m gay?”

She shrugged, her nervous titter similar to the way she’d responded when Chuck had announced he had something to say at the dinner table, the night of his grand reveal.

“Oh, I don’t know. I should’ve realized all along since I’m the mother, I babied you too much, I allowed you to be friends with Anson when you were little—so many observations were made.”

In his family, no one yelled. That was much too unseemly for anyone of their breeding. They merely pointed out, brought to the wrong-doers’ attention, or observed what it was that he or she had done wrong.

Chuck grunted. “Oh really? You allowed me to be friends with Anson?” He’d only been in kindergarten at the time, at least a few years prior to when he would discover for the first time what his family might think about him being friends with someone black. He let out a resigned sigh. “Look, I’m not sure what you want from me right now, what you’re expecting to happen by coming here. You can’t just magically erase your beliefs and prejudices overnight. I’m not changing. I’m gay. I was born gay. Jordan didn’t suddenly turn white. He’s still my Master. And Grandfather was right about one thing. Grandma didn’t make me a sissy, but she certainly taught me wrong from right. I was lucky to have her as a role model.”

His mother dabbed at her eyes again. “I understand. And I can’t promise that I’ll be perfect. But I want to try. I want to at least have a chance to prove to you that I’m not the evil, hateful person you think I am.” She bit her bottom lip. “You’re my son and I love you, Charles. That will never change.”

Chuck’s eyes burned and he fought back tears. He didn’t think she’d told him she loved him since he was a little boy. “Okay, well…” He cleared his throat. “I love you too, Mom. But I also love Jordan. We’re in a committed relationship and I’m going to be living with him now. I won’t listen to anything derogatory regarding him, our relationship, or the type of relationship we have. That’s a deal-breaker.”

She nodded shakily and waved her hand around. “Yes, of course. I’ll behave.” She tentatively took a step forward then stopped herself. “And thank you, Charles.”

“Chuck. I prefer Chuck.”

“Oh. Certainly… Chuck.” She laughed nervously again. “See? I can change.”

He tried not to snort. Yeah. That was a hardcore change right there. “Thanks, Mom.”

“Am I interrupting?”

Chuck whirled around to see Jordan standing in the doorway. His heart picked up a quicker pace, but not from worry. Rather, it was from his joy at knowing it was time to begin their new life together. His mother’s presence couldn’t sully that.

Chuck smiled wide and extended his arm. “No, not at all. Master, I’d like you to meet my mom.”

As Jordan walked into his embrace, Chuck shot her a look. Her cheeks flushed, but at least she’d managed to hide whatever disapproval she might have. It undoubtedly had to be massive.

“Jordan, this is my mom, Elaine. Mom, this is Jordan, my Master.”

Jordan held out his hand and Chuck held his breath. After a brief pause, she accepted his offer, but her body remained tense, the handshake awkward and quick.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Pintel. Chuck is a wonderful man, you must be really proud.”

Her eyes widened a bit before she recovered her composure. “Yes, he’s…he is a wonderful man. But please call me Elaine.”

Chuck hadn’t expected an acknowledgment of Jordan’s words, but at least she’d felt comfortable enough to say them out loud.

“All right, Elaine. I will.” Jordan squeezed Chuck’s waist as he regarded him. “Are you done? Or would you like me to come back later?”

Jordan’s expression was clear. He wouldn’t have a problem giving Chuck some space if that was what he needed.

Chuck smiled up at him. “No, I’m ready. Everything’s been taken care of.”

Jordan turned to his mother. “Would you like to join us for dinner? We were gonna grab a bite to eat before heading home.”

Chuck watched his mother in amusement as she shifted on her feet, the color in her cheeks deepening.

“Oh, uh, thank you. That’s very kind. However, I do need to run along.” She clutched her purse to her body, still seemingly using it as a shield.

“Another time then?” Jordan’s smile remained as warm and friendly as his tone.

He’s got skills. If he were in Jordan’s shoes, he wasn’t sure how much cordiality he’d possess.

Chuck watched in fascination as his mother struggled to offer a genuine smile in return. At last she managed one that only appeared marginally strained.

“Another time. Of course.” She returned her gaze to Chuck. “Well, dear. I’ll speak with you soon?” She darted her eyes between them, the action so quick he barely registered it.

He nodded. “Sure.” She was trying, he’d give her that.

“And your number will be the same?”

He held in a sigh. “Yes, Mother. I’m moving to Altadena, not the moon.”

Jordan cleared his throat loudly as he gripped Chuck’s waist tighter. Chuck turned to him. Jordan’s stern expression came as a surprise.

“Some respect, boy?”

“Oh. Sorry.” He swallowed reflexively as heat filled his face. Actively participating in the childish and hostile dynamic he always shared with his mother in front of Jordan was embarrassing.

He regarded his mother. “I apologize, Mom. Yes, it’ll be the same, so you can reach me anytime you need to.”

Her jaw had gone slack. After blinking a few times she seemed to regain her composure. “Yes, well… That’s good to hear.” She offered another tight smile. “Then I must be off. It was nice to meet you, uh, Jordan.”

“Same here.” Jordan’s amiable tone hadn’t changed a bit.

“Charles?” She shifted on her feet, glanced around the room again. “I do need to get going.”

Another sarcastic remark danced on the tip of his tongue, but he bit it back. Then it struck him what the hesitation was on her part. Chuck stroked the hand Jordan had wrapped around his waist right as he stepped out of his hold. He opened his arms and his mother tentatively moved forward before performing her pat, pat, pat, hug-not-quite-a-hug ritual that they typically engaged in at the end of her visits.

“Goodbye, Mom.”

She nodded jerkily then scurried away, likely in an attempt to avoid any further interaction with Jordan.

Chuck sighed as he turned to Jordan. “Well, now. Wasn’t that fun?”

Jordan laughed, extending his arms out to Chuck. He gladly walked into them, hugging his Master tightly.

“Whaddya say we go home, boy?”

Chuck smiled against Jordan’s broad chest.

Home.

* * * * *

After they’d stopped for a quick dinner, Jordan continued up Lake Avenue until he reached the street at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains which led to his large Victorian home. Chuck’s home now, too. As far as he was concerned, they were for real and forever, but he’d give them a chance to settle in as a couple before taking the next steps. In his mind, there were plenty he hoped to take. Adding Chuck to the title of the house was a beginning. He wasn’t hand-over-fist rich, but he was well-off enough that he could provide for his boy should anything ever happen to him.

The way Liam’s Master did.

Thinking of Liam brought to mind Chuck’s kind offer to accompany Liam on a visit to Kiss of Leather. As much as he’d miss having Liam as an active member at Consequence, he understood why being there had become too painful for him since Mark’s death. In truth, he’d barely set foot in the club for over six months anyway. The knowledge that should Liam decide to join Kiss of Leather, that he’d be under the watchful eye of his good friends, the owners of the club, helped ease his worry over the anxiety-ridden young man.

Jordan kept his eyes forward. Driving a moving truck wasn’t his usual ride and it didn’t handle anywhere near as nice as his vintage Mustang. Crashing before they ever made it home was not on his to-do list.

“Any idea when you and Liam might get together?”

“Yeah. I spoke with him yesterday, and we were thinking Wednesday. In his mind, it’s far enough away from the weekend on either side that it should be the least crowded.”

Jordan smiled to himself. Poor kid. “I appreciate you helping him out, babe. I can’t remember if we ever talked about some of his quirks before, or if you ever noticed any, but you should probably be aware of them so they don’t freak you out.”

“Oh? I don’t know about quirks, but I’m aware that he has panic attacks and is very shy.” Chuck snorted. “Even more than me.”

“Man, shy doesn’t cover it with him. And just so you know? You don’t get the prize for being shy anyway. Kyle has you beat.” Jordan grinned. Nothing did it for him like a shy boy. Those other Doms could keep their brats.

“Oh yeah? Huh. I don’t really know Kyle all that well. He seems like a nice guy, but I’ve only been around him when he’s with Gavin.” Chuck cleared his throat. “But I think I’m getting better. I mean, I wore that outfit to Consequence the other night that you picked out for me.”

Jordan kept his laughter to himself. Chuck was damn cute, but he didn’t want to tease him out of being comfortable enough to explore his exhibitionist side. Long way to go on that. They had a fun road together ahead of them.

“Gear, babe. You looked super fine in that gear. Had to keep an eye on my boy, though, keep those vultures away.”

In his peripheral vision, he caught Chuck squirming in his seat. Chuck didn’t have the slightest clue how hot Jordan found him. Let alone those other Doms who are always sniffing around. His boy needed a collar real soon.

“So, Liam’s quirks?”

Jordan chuckled. “Nice diversionary tactic, there. We’ll get back to how sexy you are later.” Although he couldn’t see Chuck’s expression, he imagined his boy was fighting extra hard not to blurt out something negative about himself that would earn him a punishment. Even if Jordan’s punishments were laughable to many Doms, he had a few tricks he could whip out if need be. He grinned at his own pun.

“Yeah, you’re right about the anxiety attacks, but there’s more to it than that. I’m not gonna tell you all his personal business, and truthfully, I don’t know the full story anyway, but his communication skills aren’t the best. Sometimes people get tripped out by what he says or does.”

“Really?” Chuck’s voice held an edge of concern. “How do you mean?”

“It’s hard to explain. I’d say he’s in his own head a lot, has trouble focusing. He’s told me about that before, didn’t want me to think he wasn’t paying attention to me, you know, shit like that. Anyway, you should also be aware that his panic attacks can be so bad, that he’ll just walk away in the middle of a sentence if he senses one coming on. He’s so terrified of being in public when one hits because they’re so intense, that he’ll simply take off. Or, if he drifts in his mind, he might hang up the phone because he doesn’t realize the conversation is still going.”

“Wow. Okay, thank you for telling me that. I don’t want him to feel uncomfortable by any reaction I might have. That would negate the whole reason for offering to go with him.”

Jordan reached over to squeeze Chuck’s knee before returning his hand to the wheel. “Thanks for that, babe. For real, I doubt he ever would’ve gone without someone with him, and he doesn’t trust easily. There’s barely anyone out there he’d get into a car with.”

“That’s really sad.” Chuck’s voice had lowered. “Something horrible must’ve happened to him.”

“Like I said, I don’t know the details. Master Mark did, but he respected Liam’s privacy and made sure that no one upset him. It was good in some ways, the guy was protective as fuck, but in others, it didn’t encourage Liam’s independence.” Jordan sighed. “As long as Mark was there, it was all good. But when he unexpectedly died…” Jordan shook his head. “It was a bad scene, man. Real bad scene.”

“Okay, I’m glad I know all that. It’ll give me some perspective while we’re out together.”

“Cool.” Satisfaction filled Jordan at the knowledge he was leaving Liam in more than capable hands. He hadn’t doubted Chuck’s compassion, but he was also glad they’d discussed Liam’s situation ahead of time. He’d developed a strong sense of protection over him ever since he’d lost his Master. He deserved to find happiness again.

“Have you thought about what we discussed last night?” Jordan glanced briefly at Chuck before gazing back at the road. He also held in another grin.

“Uh, yes.” Chuck mumbled something unintelligible. “Yes, I did.”

“Oh really?” Jordan was having a blast. “And what thoughts were you having, exactly?”

“Well, I love that we have it on the list, no worries there, but maybe we should wait until I’m all moved in.”

“I see. That sounds as if there might be a fascinating theory in there somewhere. Why is that we should be waiting?”

“So I… Because… It…” Chuck sighed. “I’ve got nothing.”

Jordan laughed. “Don’t worry, boy. An anal hook sounds a lot more evil than it truly is. But it’s loads of fun. For both of us.”

Chuck groaned, holding his hand to his face. “Uh, using the word ‘evil’ while describing it isn’t helpful.”

Jordan squeezed Chuck’s thigh. “How about instead of describing it, I simply use it?”

Chuck’s face flushed into the prettiest shade of red. Jordan chuckled to himself.

I’ll take that as a yes.

Facing Fears #7
Liam chewed on the end of his favorite blue pen as he studied the weekly client schedule for Rogue Ink, Body Mods & Piercing Studio. They still hadn’t technically changed the name of No Quarter to the new one, but he, Neal and Ray had all agreed on it the night before when they’d been celebrating their decision to buy it from the current owner. He thought adding the word ‘studio’ gave it a classier sound while the rest of the name kept it edgy. Neal and Ray had concurred.

Liam grinned around the pen clicker. I own a business. A for real business. He figured he shouldn’t be so hasty, but couldn’t help it. They’d only told Marty the day before that they wanted to purchase it from him, so he should probably calm down until everything was more official. He grinned again. But I don’t want to.

More important than owning the business, though, was that he was doing it with his Master. It was fortunate that he also liked Ray, Neal’s tattoo artist buddy, but he couldn’t deny what a great feeling it was to be sharing his life in all ways with Neal. It was another step forward in their evolving relationship.

Liam chewed some more, his mind drifting to thoughts of how close he and Neal had become. Over the past week, he’d caught Neal gazing at him with a fond expression on several occasions and had wondered what was going through his Master’s head. Neal had also been more tender with him, had wanted to make love more than he’d wanted to scene and they hadn’t even spent any time at Kiss of Leather. Liam had loved every second of it, but he couldn’t deny that he still craved the rough and commanding side of Neal.

Even though they’d only been living together for three months, they’d shared such a strong connection from the very beginning that Liam found it easy to read his Master. He had great instincts about people in general, but with Neal it was more powerful than it had ever been. Mark—his Master who had died the year before—came to mind and it caused a slight pull in his gut. He would never stop loving his previous Master, or forget all that Mark had done for him—would always be grateful. But at the same time, the love he carried for Neal had a different quality to it that affected Liam in a soul-deep, satisfying way.

The bell jangled on the door as it opened and Liam glanced up. He smiled at Cruella, no longer afraid to show his teeth the way he once had been. Along with everything else that had changed in his life, his self-esteem had been steadily growing as well. The unwavering support he received from Master Jordan, his counselor Eileen, and of course, Neal had helped to keep him on track. The unconditional love Neil expressed also contributed to his burgeoning acceptance of himself. Even his ability to manage his anxiety had increased.

“Hey, Liam.” Cruella’s quiet voice was barely audible as they entered the shop. They weren’t shy, necessarily, or even anxious the way Liam was, but simply soft-spoken.

“Hi, Cruella.”

Liam glanced at the wall clock above the framed poster of Divine and scrunched his brow as he noted the time. He then examined the work schedule taped to the sliding keyboard tray to see if he’d made a mistake. It was positioned right next to his phone-answering script. Messing things up by typing out the wrong employee schedule was not something he wanted to do his very first day as a business-owner. Owner in theory, at least.

Liam lifted his head to see Cruella examining their reflection in front of the free-standing mirror positioned next to the glass counter. The piercing jewelry display case and the scratched-up wood-framed mirror lined the wall to the right of the front door and the stairs leading to the piercing and inking areas were to the left. The restroom, storage area and break room were located behind the large, equally scuffed-up desk where Liam sat. Hmm. New carpet and new lobby furniture. He’d pay for it himself, if necessary. The parlor didn’t need any more ickyness. Marty had really let the place go.

Liam considered Cruella as they angled their body first to one side then the next, then leaned in to flick something from underneath one of their heavily lashed, purple-lined eyes. They used one hand to brush back the platinum bangs that accented their shoulder-length ebony-colored hair. Finally, they swept their hands down their tall, thin frame wrapped in a skintight black spandex mini. White fishnets—barely visible over Cruella’s pale skin—and thick-soled black combat boots completed the ensemble.

Cruella turned to him. “What do you think? The dress is new.”

“You look amazing.” Liam squinted. “Is that a new lipstick?”

Cruella’s pouty lips parted. “You noticed?”

Liam blushed. He’d never paid much attention to things like makeup before, but he loved how Cruella put their self together. As he and Cruella had gotten to know each other, he’d also learned so much about cosmetic companies and who made what and whether it was vegan, made with fresh ingredients or cruelty-free. He’d had no idea.

“Well…you said that you’d put aside some money this month to send away for that exclusive purple matte one you’ve been wanting.”

He didn’t want to sound silly in front of them. Even though Cruella was the sweetest person alive and Liam was getting better about not thinking less of himself, he still couldn’t help but be intimidated by people who he viewed as remarkably beautiful. Cruella knew about the no-touch rule Liam had, so they were respectful of it. However, they’d found a way to convey affection without it.

Cruella blew him a kiss. “Thank you, baby. You always make me feel special.” Cruella gave him a half-smile as they shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe someday another person will too.”

Liam bit his lower lip. He had an idea who Cruella might mean. His attention was drawn to laughter upstairs, as was Cruella’s. Ray. He’d always been super nice to Cruella and Liam wondered if it would ever go beyond that. Liam thought he could probably vibe it out, except that he hadn’t been around Cruella and Ray enough while they were in the same room together to be able to tell. It didn’t help that unless Cruella was with a customer at the desk or being questioned by Ray about a client, they made themselves busy elsewhere whenever Ray was around. And they never, ever went upstairs.

Liam glanced up at the clock again, jarred back to his original thoughts when Cruella had arrived. Focus, remember? One thing at a time. “Did I tell you the wrong time to come in today? Because I’m sorry if I did. I didn’t mean to.” Everyone had already determined that Liam’s comfort zone didn’t encompass being the boss in the slightest, most notably Liam himself. If they were ever to have a staff member who was as salty as Sideshow had been, he’d have to defer to Neal or Ray in a heartbeat.

“Oh no, not at all. You’re not wrong.”

Cruella stepped away from the mirror then wandered over to the lumpy couch that sagged in all the wrong areas. Liam narrowed his eyes, mentally adding a new waiting area sofa to his list of shop improvements. Cruella perched on the edge of it, carefully folding their hands in their lap.

Cruella continued. “This was the only way I could work it so I wouldn’t be late. You know, because of the bus schedule.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I don’t drive either.”

Cruella tilted their head. “Were those the same thought? I’m assuming you don’t mean that you’re glad about the bus schedule.”

Liam attempted to unravel where his mind had traveled to as well as deciphering what Cruella meant. They understood each other’s communication issues, but that didn’t necessarily mean they always understood what they were saying to each other.

“Oh. No, they’re not.” He shook his head in frustration. “The same thought, I mean.” Liam took a breath then concentrated on what he wanted to get across. “I’m glad to hear that I didn’t give you the wrong information and I understand what it’s like to have to rely on other transportation because I don’t drive either.”

Cruella arched their eyebrows. “I see. That makes more sense.”

Because Cruella’s voice was whisper-soft and without much inflection, they’d been mistaken before by strangers as being snooty or emotionless. Liam knew better and realized that Cruella’s response to Liam’s comments was sincere and not flippant. Everyone was so nice to Liam at the shop, so accepting. It helped make it easier for him to work with the public, something he’d despaired of ever having the ability to do without it throwing him into continual panic attacks.

“Did you want to help me decide on what type of carpet to get?”

It would be another thirty minutes until his dinner break before it was time for Cruella to take over, and he figured they could work on something together while Cruella waited to begin their shift. Liam was the one who had suggested to Marty that Cruella replace Sideshow when he’d stormed out the previous month and Cruella had seemed very grateful for the job. A schedule had been set up where Cruella could work in the evenings when Liam was there until they got used to the routine at the parlor.

Liam and Neal always took their breaks at the same time whenever they were at the shop, then Liam would read in the employee room until Neal was done for the day. He knew things would likely change once the shop was officially theirs and he’d already been preparing himself for that eventuality. He operated much better with structure and consistency, but his desire to own No Quarter had superseded any other concerns.

Cruella stared at him as though they were trying to interpret Liam’s question. “I don’t understand, baby. Are you and Neal redecorating your apartment?”

Liam pondered Cruella’s inquiry. Should they redecorate it? It wasn’t a bad idea. He could totally picture not only new carpet, but more modern blinds and maybe adding some era-appropriate accents to the nineteen-thirties duplex.

“Baby? You still with me?”

“Huh?” Carpet. We were talking about carpet, because…? “Oh! No, we’re not redecorating, at least not yet, but I was thinking of the shop.”

Cruella ran their purple accented French tips through one side of their hair as they crossed their legs. “It’s none of my business, but do you think Marty will let you? From what I’ve heard, he isn’t very keen on putting more money into this place. That’s why I hope you can get Neal to agree to buy it with you and Ray.”

Liam’s eyes widened. How could he have forgotten? In some ways, the shop had seemed so much like theirs already that he hadn’t thought it was necessary to make an announcement. “I can’t believe I didn’t tell you!”

Cruella shook their head in seeming confusion. “That you wanted new carpet? I’m not offended.”

“No, Cruella, it’s so much better than carpet. Neal said yes, the shop is going to be ours!”

A high-pitched squeal burst out of Cruella as they clapped their hands, the loudest sound Liam had ever heard them make. They bounced on the ratty couch right as Ray raced down the stairs so fast he had to grab onto the railing to stop himself from tumbling to the bottom. He made it to the waiting area in one piece, his face flushed and his breathing frantic.

“Is everyone okay? What the fuck?”

Cruella immediately hunched their shoulders and averted their eyes as they tugged on the hem of their mini. Liam couldn’t stand it when Cruella got self-conscious.

“It was my fault, Ray. I forgot to tell Cruella about buying the shop so I sort of sprung it on them in a weird way.”

“It’s not your fault, baby.” Cruella quickly rose while still yanking on the stretchy dress. “I’ll go make coffee.”

Ray appeared uncomfortable, almost as if he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. “As long as you’re…” He cleared his throat, the flush deepening. “As long as everyone’s okay, that’s all that matters.”

Liam was terrible at social stuff, especially anything to do with dating. He could still barely believe how well things had turned out between him and Neal. He really had Neal to thank for that, though. He’d stuck it out even though Liam had been so lost when it came to the whole new-relationship dance. But at the same time he wished he could do something to help with Ray and Cruella.

He shot to his feet, banging his knee on the still-open keyboard tray. “Ow.”

Ray frowned at him, crossing his arms. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. But I think I should take my dinner break early. I’m really hungry.”

Ray’s eyebrows went from being pointed downward to shooting up. “But Cruella just went in the back to make coffee. There’s no one out here.”

“I know. That’s why I…” Oops. “What I mean to say is that they’ll be right back and you don’t have a client, right?”

Ray sighed. “Where are you going with this Liam? Because I’m mega-confused.”

“Let’s see, uh…” Liam chewed on the side of his lip. “Oh, I know! Because if you don’t have a client, that means you can wait here until Cruella comes back and I can go have my dinner now.”

Ray’s eyes darted to the side where the door to the break room was before fixing his gaze back on Liam. “Well, I don’t know…”

Liam had nothing left, no further explanations. Nerves had begun to take hold, so he went with it. “Thanks, Ray, gotta go.”

He shot off like a rocket, taking the stairs two at a time—no easy feat, as short as he was—and careened toward Neal’s piercing room. He already knew Neal didn’t currently have a client, so he shoved the door open then almost slammed it behind him.

“Jesus, Liam.” Neal jerked his head around from where he’d been wiping off the top of the metal cabinet that held all his instruments. “You scared the shit outta me.”

“I’m sorry, Master. Don’t be mad.”

Neal chuckled. “I’m not mad.” He set down the rag and cleaner on the counter next to his cabinet. “I just wasn’t expecting you to come roaring in here like that.” Neal glanced at his watch. “You’re early too. I didn’t think I’d lost track of that much time.” Neal’s expression turned to one of concern and he stepped closer. “Is everything all right? Did one of the customers hassle you or something?”

“No, it’s nothing like that. I just…” He couldn’t lie to Neal, not ever. “I saw an opportunity to leave Ray alone with Cruella so I took it.”

Neal’s mouth dropped open. He blinked at Liam a few times then let out a snorting laugh. “Oh my God, you little conniver.”

Liam didn’t like the sound of that. “It’s not conniving if it’s true love.”

Neal’s features softened and he reached out, tugging Liam close. “Sweetheart, you don’t know that. I’m not even sure if Ray’s interested and he’s been my bro for a long time.”

Liam peered up at Neal. “Do you think, you know, it’s because Cruella’s genderqueer? I mean, Cruella’s so nice and really likes him. He’d be missing out if he didn’t give them a chance.”

Neal rubbed his shoulders then slid his hands up Liam’s nape before sinking his fingers in his thick, dark hair. He held Liam’s head in place so he could take a leisurely kiss, parting his lips, pushing his studded tongue inside Liam’s mouth. The shared closeness and warmth between them, the taste of Neal, the masculine scent of his Master—it immediately whisked him away to the private universe in his mind where only the two of them existed.

After a firm press of his lips to Liam’s, he pulled back but didn’t let go of his hair. He gazed down at him.

“You have such a good heart. But let’s let them work it out between themselves, okay?”

Liam swallowed. He wanted to help, but Neal was his Master… “Is that an order?”

Neal set his mouth in a hard line. Liam recognized the expression well. Whenever Neal was grappling with his role as Liam’s twenty-four-seven Master, he’d have to take a moment to consider something that was a foreign concept to him. They’d talked about it a lot. They practiced a modified version of TPE that was uniquely theirs, one that could work for them both in their daily lives.

“Well…” Neal loosened his hold on Liam’s head, letting one hand drift down his back, gently caressing him as he appeared to gather his thoughts. “It seems rather extreme for me to order you not to interfere. It could also be a gray area as to what would constitute interfering.” Neal squeezed his shoulder. “How about this? Consider it to be more along the lines of me giving you strong advice. Think of the ramifications of you trying to force something between them. What if you didn’t make the right call and it drove them apart instead of bringing them together?”

Liam gasped. “Oh no! I have to stop them!”

Right as he was about to charge from the room to prevent dooming Cruella and Ray’s unfolding love story, Neal wrapped him in a bear hug, stopping him mid-bolt.

“Hold on there, turbo.” Neal chuckled. “I think they’re fine for now. I mean, dude, they have to at least be able to communicate as boss and employee.”

Liam’s heart clutched once again. “That’s right, I hadn’t thought of that either. They’re no longer co-workers.” Liam twisted in Neal’s embrace to gaze up at him. “Did I just ruin everything because now Ray will be their boss? I don’t want Cruella to leave and get another job.”

Neal hoisted Liam up and he instinctively wrapped his legs around Neal’s waist. He loved it when Neal carried him. Neal deposited him onto the piercing chair, releasing him but gathering up his hands in his own.

“Hey, you know what I need right now?”

Neal gave him a smile and Liam knew he wasn’t mad. Not that Neal ever really got mad at him. It was just one of those worries left over from his foster care upbringing that still clung to him like a stain that couldn’t be removed.

“What, Master?”

“My boy’s attention on me.”

“Oh.” Liam’s stomach twisted. “Sorry.”

Neal tugged on him. “Nuh-uh. None of that. Nothing to be sorry about. I’m simply telling you what I want from you as my sub.”

Liam worked through everything in his head. “So, as my Master, you’re reminding me that it should be about us right now, and not another couple who aren’t even really a couple.”

Neal’s smile grew into a grin. “Exactly.”

He ran his hand up Liam’s denim-covered thigh until he’d slipped it underneath his black tee. Warm flesh connected with Liam’s, the strength of Neal’s touch obvious even though the gesture of sliding his palm along Liam’s torso had been so simple. Neal ratcheted it up when he reached one nipple. He pinched the silver barbell piercing then gave it a twist. The jolt of sensation shot straight to Liam’s cock and he arched his back, pushing his chest out as if the tiny nub was begging for more.

“Do I have your attention now?”

Liam’s thoughts had shorted out. “I…I…” His Master’s touch was better than chocolate. Even better than ice cream.

Neal wrapped his free arm around Liam’s waist, bringing them closer together as Neal leaned into him. He nibbled on the side of Liam’s neck then gave the nipple another twist. Liam let out a strangled whimper in response, fighting to keep his noises from being heard by anyone in the shop.

Neal’s hot breath wafted against his ear, the sensual promise it held making the little hairs on his neck stand on end. “I’d like to push that boundary with you, boy. Make you scream so everyone in the shop can hear. Let them know how wanton and sexy you are, how much pleasure I give my boy.”

“Master…”

“Yes?”

He exhaled on a groan. “Anything you want.”

Liam sucked in a startled breath as the back of the chair fell away. Neal lowered him onto the vinyl surface then released his hold. His Master regarded him with the same affection in his eyes that Liam had recently noticed. Neal brushed Liam’s hair back from his face, the gesture more one of fondness than necessity.

“I want you and I always will.”

Neal winked then busied himself lowering the arms on both sides of the functional piece of furniture. It could be adjusted into whatever position was necessary in order for Neal to be able to reach the most hidden areas of a man’s body. Liam waited for his Master’s instructions, trembling from the delicious anticipation.

Neal finally seemed to get the chair in the position he preferred, the surface flat, the extensions to support arms and legs no longer blocking any access.

“Okay, boy. Pants off.”

Liam’s excellent sub training prevented him from interrogating Neal about the removal of his shirt. His expertise at submission was the only time he seemed to be able to keep his random blurts in check. Liam undid his studded leather belt, popped the buttons of his jeans then wiggled his way out of them. When he reached his briefs, he paused.

He said pants. Nothing about underwear.

The weight of Neal’s stare bordered on the physical. Neal stood in a relaxed stance, less than five feet from the chair, his arms crossed as if waiting to see what Liam would do next. Liam sort of wondered the same thing. He allowed his eyes to drift closed, settling within himself. It was all part of the process he went through when letting go. Ever since he’d first submitted, he’d needed that moment to quiet the constant noise and distractions in his head that plagued him incessantly.

“That’s my good boy.” Neal’s soothing voice wrapped around him. “Let me see those beautiful eyes.” Liam was greeted with Neal’s smile. “There you are.”

Liam glanced down and noted that while Neal’s pants were unbuttoned all the way, it didn’t appear as if he was about to remove them. One corner of Neal’s mouth quirked up, his expression one of mischief.

“Such a patient boy, ready to do whatever his Master wants.”

Liam’s breath hitched. Neal had barely touched him yet already his cock pulsed within the tightening fabric of his briefs. Neal stepped toward him then grasped his chin. He lifted it, his pupils wide as he stared into Liam’s eyes.

“Hot damn. How’d I get so lucky as to find you, Liam?”

Liam began to shake his head in protest, but Neal’s firm grasp prevented him from doing so. “Master, you’re everything to me. I love you.”

Neal’s eyes shone. “Love you more than you know.” He inhaled, seeming to gather himself as he released Liam then straightened. “On your side, facing me.”

Liam immediately complied with Neal’s wishes. Every time Neal gave him a command it would thrill him. It didn’t matter how inconsequential it might seem to an outsider or even to Neal himself, but to Liam it meant he had his Master’s attention. Whenever Liam pleased the man he loved, it gave him a sense of satisfaction he couldn’t get anywhere else or in any other way.

Neal had gone back to a more playful mien as he ambled to the door. He pushed the button to lock it, then dimmed the lights. It wasn’t by much—there would still be plenty for them to see every intimate detail of whatever it was they were about to do—however, it took the jarring edge off the fluorescents. Neal angled his body around.

“I was just thinking that as long as we don’t get our official dinner break for another twenty minutes or so, we’d might as well have an appetizer.”

Liam swallowed hard. They’d never messed around at the shop before. At least, not really. They might kiss, cop a feel or tease, but never anything that brought either of them to a happy ending.

When Neal reached him again, he shoved his hand down the front of his open jeans then fished out his ample dick, the full hardness showcasing the trail of veins running along the length that led to the thick metal ring at the end. A tiny bead of pre-cum glistened next to the silver piece of jewelry and Liam instinctively licked his lips. He wanted it.

“Here. We shouldn’t let anything go to waste.”

Neal brought the crown of his stiff flesh to Liam’s mouth. Liam slid out his tongue just far enough to swipe the tip over Neal’s slit. The uniquely bitter salt of his Master melted on his tongue and Liam sighed. He’s mine. His submission to a man had originally been all about belonging to someone else completely, but with Neal, his own possessive side had blossomed. Neal was his Master and his alone.

What sounded like a purr of appreciation rumbled in Neal’s chest. “Hold that thought.” He snickered. “Or should I say tongue?”

Liam let out a small laugh. Most of the time, their interactions were filled with a lot of playfulness, something that Liam hadn’t realized he needed as much as he did. The veil of sadness that had been an ongoing accompaniment to his early years had left him with a healthy appreciation for happiness whenever it was offered.

Neal leaned over then pressed a kiss to Liam’s forehead before making the short journey to his leather jacket that hung on the door hook. He plucked a small packet of lube from his wallet, holding it up with a smile. He returned his billfold to his coat then advanced on him, the smile morphing into a seductive leer. Liam’s cock jumped, the ache in his balls getting heavier as Neal drew near.

“Easier clean-up if we suck each other off, but I’d like to add a little more to it.” Neal winked.

Liam nodded, the movement shaky. Whatever Neal wanted, Liam would give him, as long as he could have a mouthful of Neal’s dick. Neal stopped in front of him, his scarlet-tipped erection a few inches from his lips, the scent of his Master filling his nostrils. He tore open the slick and squeezed the contents onto two fingers, disposing of the empty packet in a basket next to the chair. He used his clean hand to palm the back of Liam’s head, tugging him closer to his stiff length. Liam opened up, ready to take it all.

Neal slipped his other hand below Liam’s waistband and Liam started at the unexpected coolness from Neal’s fingers as they quested in his crease. Neal slid the wet digits down to his hole, teasing the sensitive opening right as he thrust his dick past Liam’s parted lips. Liam clamped on, using his own metal tongue stud to stimulate Neal’s glans while remaining careful of the heavy ring. Neal had taught him ways to avoid accidentally chipping a tooth.

Right as Neal breached Liam’s pucker with both fingers at once, Liam gave a long pull on Neal’s shaft. The accompanying groan and thrust from Neal filled Liam with a strong sense of his own sexual power. Neal never held back when they made love—he wasn’t the type of Dom who kept his feelings hidden or who insisted on maintaining a certain aloofness with his sub. Everything with Neal was honest and open.

Liam worked Neal’s cock good and hard and Neal did the same thing inside Liam’s ass. He pumped his fingers in and out of Liam’s channel in a steady rhythm while fucking his mouth. Liam writhed on the digits invading his hole, helping Neal along by bearing down on them, taking as much of them as he could. He sucked and licked Neal’s dick, keeping his tongue moving around and around the head, occasionally pointing it so that he could play with the ring in Neal’s slit without his stud getting in the way.

It was a given that there would be no coming without Neal’s say-so, yet that didn’t mean it would be easy to stave off. Neal dug deeper in his passage and Liam already knew he’d be in trouble, knew what Neal was going after. As soon as Neal’s fingers hit their target, Liam clenched around them, moaning on his thick erection.

“Fuck yeah, boy. So hot and silky inside—smooth, tight.” Neal’s words came out disjointed, his breathing frantic. “The way my cock spreads your lips wide…” He sucked in a quick breath. “The way you take it.”

Neal stabbed his fingers in and out of Liam’s hole faster, thrusting harder with his dick until Liam relaxed his throat, swallowing around it while holding his breath. In the beginning, Neal’s PA had thrown him off his game, the ring triggering his gag reflex. All it meant was he’d had to practice more. Liam almost smiled around Neal’s cock but stopped himself. Pleasuring his Master was more important.

“Jesus, Liam. So good.”

Neal clutched Liam’s strands of hair tightly, the slight sting only making his need worse, his pre-cum leaving a damp spot on his briefs. Neal banged into his gland again then stayed there, massaging it until Liam couldn’t keep his legs still, couldn’t stop shoving his ass against Neal’s hand as if begging him for relief.

Liam let go of Neal’s cock then drew in a gulp of air before descending on it again. He sucked and pulled, licked and teased, and all the while Neal mercilessly worked his prostate.

I’m gonna come. I’m gonna come.

Right as Liam’s sac hugged his body, Neal froze. Accompanied by a hearty growl, the first long stream of Neal’s cum pulsed down Liam’s throat, quickly followed by several more jerks of seed. Liam drank it down, using Neal’s orgasm as a way to postpone his own. By focusing on Neal’s satisfaction, he’d been able to avert his own crisis. It didn’t hurt that Neal had stopped working his gland while he’d been busy coming.

Liam slowed, keeping his movements gentle as he finished cleaning Neal’s softening shaft with his tongue. Neal let out quiet sounds of approval, petting Liam’s head, the gesture soothing. He still hadn’t removed his fingers from Liam’s passage and in case Neal was considering doing such a thing, he clenched around them to send the message that he wasn’t ready for them to go yet.

Neal gave a throaty chuckle. “I haven’t forgotten my boy. How could I after that spectacular hummer?”

Neal curled his fingers in Liam’s hair, fisting the strands as he yanked his head off his sated dick. He slowly started pumping into Liam’s ass again.

“Take it out, boy. Give me that hard cock. My cock.”

Liam fumbled with shaky hands, anxious to follow Neal’s command. Once he’d shoved his briefs down below his sac, his nuts propped right above the elastic, Neal leaned over, taking Liam’s slender shaft to the base.

The way he used his tongue drove Liam crazy, Neal’s ability of working his piercing to give pleasure akin to an art. Liam had learned the techniques of employing the tongue stud for oral from his Master. Because Liam didn’t have the Prince Albert, Neal could play more with his own piercing. Not only could he work it in the valley under the crown, but he could press it into Liam’s slit as well. He alternated back and forth, taunting Liam’s most sensitive spots on his cock while increasing the pace of massaging his gland.

Neal’s head bobbed as he simultaneously used his fingers to plunge in and out of Liam’s channel over and over. He picked up speed, adding moans and growls, Liam losing control as he fucked Neal’s fingers as much as they were fucking him. With Neal’s lips clamped around his hard length, Liam wasn’t sure how he’d know when he could come, because it was about to happen very soon—whether he wanted it to or not. He gripped the edges of the chair to not only keep from grabbing Neal, but so he wouldn’t slide off in his enthusiasm.

Neal pulled off. “Now!”

He inhaled deeply then took Liam to the root while also pegging him good and hard. Momentarily distracted by the break in rhythm, he’d been able to keep from coming before he’d been given permission. But now that he had it? Liam couldn’t deny how ready he was to simply let go.

Before he’d had the chance to overthink, or worry or question if others would hear—Liam howled out his release, his cock bucking in Neal’s mouth as he emptied his balls, Neal not pausing at all until Liam couldn’t stand it. He pushed at Neal’s head, whimpering.

“Too much!” he squeaked out.

Neal slowed down, keeping his licks soft and being seemingly careful of avoiding Liam’s sensitive cockhead. He let Liam’s dick slide from his lips but continued to clean him with his tongue. It was odd how much he enjoyed the post-climax moments when Neal would attend to him after a blow job, or rub his back and massage his joints after a scene. As far as Liam was concerned, he wanted the care and closeness he had with Neal to last.

I never want to be without him.

A stab of fear shot through his gut at the thought of losing Neal the way he’d lost Mark. It was irrational, even if it was something he logically understood, but Neal meant so much to him. He hadn’t expected their bond to grow so strong or so fast.

“Hey.”

Liam glanced down at Neal. His Master was nuzzling his groin with his cheek, an easy smile playing on his lips.

“Hey.” Liam smiled back, but the shadow of his scary musings still lingered in his mind.

“What is it, sweetheart? I can tell you’ve drifted. I might have to work on my technique.”

Neal winked then straightened, removing his fingers from Liam’s ass as he did. The slight burn satisfied him, the quick and rough sex something he’d needed. But he worried that Neal didn’t believe he’d done a good job at pleasing him.

“Your technique is amazing, Master. It doesn’t have anything to do with that.”

Neal wandered back over from where he’d grabbed a towel, wiping his hands as he approached. “So there is something bothering you.” Neal encouraged him up by his shoulder then sat down next to him. “Come on, spill.” Neal gave him a jostle with his elbow. “Because I don’t want anything distracting you right now. I have something…” Neal cleared his throat. “Anyway, I wanna talk, but I still need your attention while I do.”

Liam leaned into Neal to maintain their closeness. He couldn’t deny that he was scared about what Neal might say.

“I’m paying attention, I swear. I just… Well, I don’t ever want to be without you. Like, never, never ever.”

Neal chuckled and put an arm around Liam, holding him tightly. He tilted his head so his cheek rested on top of Liam’s head. “That’s good to hear, very good. So, is that what’s worrying you? That you can’t have me forever?”

Liam considered it. He supposed that if he was afraid that something bad might happen to Neal like it happened to Mark, and if he never wanted to be without him, then it was only logical that he meant forever.

“Yes. That’s what I mean.”

Liam swallowed hard. He didn’t want to take back his words since they were true, but they’d never used the F word before.

“Thank you for telling me that, sweetheart.” Neal gave him a squeeze then angled his body toward him. He placed a finger under Liam’s chin and encouraged him to lift it. He locked his gaze on Liam. “So, there’s something I want to ask you.” Neal cleared his throat again. “I was thinking it would be nice for us to go away somewhere together, like to one of the places I’ve told you I’ve been to. You said you’d like to go snorkeling if I taught you to swim?”

Liam wasn’t sure he’d be able to figure out how snorkeling and being together forever went hand-in-hand, but he went with it. “I’d love to go snorkeling. I bet those colorful fish are so beautiful close up.”

He’d gotten permission from the owners of Kiss of Leather to feed the Koi in the pond and Neal had bought them a tropical fish tank for their home. Neal adjusted his stance further so he could take both of Liam’s hands in his own.

“Cool. So, I know we’re buying the shop and we have to get settled in with that and so on, but I was thinking…”

Neal’s cheeks reddened and it became obvious that he was nervous, which immediately jacked up Liam’s nerves. He’d start freaking out if his Master did.

“What, Master, what?” Liam started to shake.

Neal tightened his grip on Liam’s hands. “Ssh, no, it’s nothing bad. I’m sorry I upset you.” Neal kissed him several times around his mouth then on it. “Look at me, sweetheart. I’m asking you to marry me, okay? I thought we could celebrate by going to Hawaii or Costa Rica or something like that, you dig?”

Liam stared at Neal, his jaw hanging open. He couldn’t catch his breath, couldn’t draw in air and dizziness threatened.

“Liam? Liam?” Even through the haze he could hear the concern in Neal’s voice.

“I… I…” He swallowed without spit then managed to gulp in some air. “Love you. I love you forever.” It was all he could choke out.

Neal crouched lower until their gazes locked. He grinned. “Was that a yes?”

Liam jumped Neal, straddling him as he threw his arms around Neal’s neck with such enthusiasm that he almost knocked him over. Neal hugged him back, holding him secure in his arms as they clung to each other.

Then the tears came. Just a swell of emotion at first, but it continued to build until Liam thought he might burst. He hiccupped through his cries as Neal soothed him with words and gestures. Neal rubbed his back, whispering how happy he was, that he’d take care of him, would keep him safe and love him for always.

“I hope those are happy tears.” Neal loosened his hold somewhat, peering down at him.

Liam nodded, sniffing. “Y-yes. I swear. So happy, Master. And…”

He still couldn’t believe it. He hadn’t expected an offer of marriage, hadn’t really dreamed of it. A collar, of course, but he’d still been wishing for always and forever first. I’ll belong to him in all ways. We’ll be officially considered a family. They were a family no matter what, but marriage sent a clear message to everyone outside their circle that it was so.

“And?” Neal had taken a clean corner of the towel and had been wiping his face.

“Well, I want to make sure I heard you right. Could you ask me again?”

Neal laughed, the joy on his face obvious, which only made Liam that much happier. “I’ll ask you a million times if you want. Will you marry me, Liam Ellis?”




Author Bio:
M/M Erotic Romance author Morticia Knight enjoys hot stories of men loving men forever after. They can be men in uniform, Doms and subs, rock stars or bikers - but they're all searching for the one (or two!) who was meant only for them.

When not indulging in her passion for books, she loves the outdoors, film and music. Once upon a time she was the singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She is currently working on more installments of Sin City Uniforms and The Hampton Road Club, as well as the follow-up to Bryan and Aubrey's story from Rockin' the Alternative.


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Gaining Trust #5
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Cutting Cords #6
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Facing Fears #7
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