Eleven ~ Zach
I drifted in and out of life for what felt like days but was only about thirty-six hours.
There was a trip to the free clinic, which was so miserable I kind of passed out afterward and slept for eighteen hours straight or something. David woke me up, worried, fed me some soup, gave me some pills, and held me until I fell back asleep, the pain killers knocking me out.
The next afternoon I woke up, rolled to the side without the bruised rib, and found David lying on the bed beside me, fully dressed, on top of the covers, his beautiful blue eyes wide open. The dark bags under those gorgeous eyes made me sad.
“You look shitty,” I whispered as his warm scent tickled my nose. Nothing smelled better than this man’s skin.
“So do you,” he countered. I snorted, winced, and sighed. “Do you think you’d like to try getting into the shower?”
“Yeah, please.” I was gross. I knew I was gross. My skin was sticky with sweat, dirt, and leavings from that rat bastard Pup Whisperer aka Paul.
“Okay, we’ll go slow.” He slid from the bed, came to my side, and eased me up into a sitting position. My side and back hurt so badly, I buried my face into his firm belly for a few minutes. Just to keep from crying and embarrassing myself. “There’s no rush. We have all day.”
I slowly pushed up from the bed, arm pressed to my right side, where that rib ached like an infected tooth. “It’s good. We got this.”
And we did. It took fucking forever, but eventually, we were in the shower. David was behind me, naked, as I was, tending to me like a home nurse. He kept his junk far from my ass, which was a shame but okay all at once. I wasn’t sure where my head was at. All I knew was that I felt safe here, with him, and that I never wanted to leave. We dressed in lounge pants and nothing else. Neither of us combed our hair or shaved. It hit me later when we were in bed eating scrambled eggs and sipping coffee that I’d never really been with a dominant man who was so tender. Not that David and I had done much together aside from that one time, and that had been his way of trying to scare me off…
“You look upset. Is the coffee too strong?” He asked, lifting the plate from his lap to place it on the nightstand beside him.
“No, I just…I was thinking about the last time we saw each other.”
His jaw flexed. “I treated you badly, Pup. It won’t happen again.”
I wiggled around the best that I could with a full bed tray resting on my thighs. “Why won’t it happen again? What’s changed?”
He tightened up, his neck tensing, his lips flattening. “I’ve stopped lying to myself.” He looked from the bedroom door to me. What I saw in his gaze stripped me of oxygen. There, right there in those beautiful eyes, was love. I saw it. I felt it. And my heart sang out. “I care about you a great deal, Pup. Far more than I should. You deserve better.” I started to protest but he silenced me with a finger to my tender lip. “I’m damaged goods. Way beyond repair. For months now, I’ve been trying to keep you away because…well, because I wanted you to have better.”
“There is no one better, Sir.”
A flush ran over his cheeks, and his nostrils flared. “I love hearing you say that,” he confessed, his thumb now gently pressing on my busted lip. It didn’t hurt, not really, or if it did it was just a little. My lashes drifted downward at his touch. It was everything to me. “I just wish I were a better man for you. I’ve …there’ve been things in my past that fucked me up.”
“Bad things happen to all of us,” I whispered, relishing the slip of his thumb as it moved down to my chin. He leaned in to press a tender kiss to my lips, then fell back against the pile of pillows between him and the chrome headboard.
I glanced away, to the window, where the sky was the color of a bluebird. I turned my head to look at his profile. His hair was shaggy, uncombed from our shower, and hung down over his brow to tickle his dark eyebrows. I loved the silver coloring. “Would you tell me what happened to you?”
His eyes closed and he pulled in a deep breath. “My uncle abused me. He wasn’t kind, either. Which is why, according to Micah, I suck at interpersonal relationships; I associate sex with pain, so I always need to be in control, and that I have a known history of abusing drugs and alcohol. I’m textbook, according to him.”
“I didn’t know…about the drugs.”
“It was back before Gems, when I was about your age. Micah and I had been in a relationship. He was my first real sub, but even that wasn’t enough. I found crack and it took over my life for about two years. Needless to say, during my drug days our relationship fell apart, but he still cared enough to haul me to rehab and set me up with his new Dom, James. I hated that, at first, telling James my shit, but it began to work. I’m still not sure if I like him or not, I really hate sharing my subs and my secrets, but then I signed on with Kennedy. Working there helped keep me straight. Micah loathed me being there, but it was structured and I needed that, or so I thought.” He shrugged. “Maybe it was just a way for me to avoid growing close to people? I don’t know. Doesn’t matter now. That’s behind us. All of it. It’s…well, it’s a fucking Gordian knot the size of this state that will take me years to unwind.”
“Wow, I…Micah and James sound smart. We don’t have to talk about this.” I felt really bad now, deflecting as I had.
He shook his head, that long shank on top shifting over his brow. “No, you deserve to know what you’re getting into.” He threw me a look. “I told Shin and Butch that you were my sub. I know that was pushy and controlling and totally a breach of about a hundred rules of our kink as well as our employers but…” He shrugged a bare shoulder. “But it was where my head was, where my heart is.” He patted his pectoral.
“I want to be your sub, so much!” I shoved the tray aside, spilling the coffee, in a mad attempt to get closer. He grabbed at the tray, lifted it over his head, and then smiled down at me when I curled into his side like a dog seeking affection. “It’s what I’ve wanted forever.”
“I know, Pup.” He patted my hair, combing it with his fingers. “Just…I’m a work in progress, to quote my therapist. Bear with me. I have a lot of issues.”
“Me too.” I let my cheek rest on his chest, right over his thumping heart. The beat was a little fast. He placed the tray to the floor then lay back down. We laid there for a few minutes, not saying anything, him working his fingers through my hair, then he finally spoke up again.
“Was the person who did this to you one of your regulars?” His question was softly worded.
“Yeah,” I whispered, lifting my arm to lay it over his stomach. A groan bubbled up out of me. Fucking A, bruised ribs hurt. The rest of me did too, but that rib was the worst of all. “He uhm…”
“You know you are never seeing that motherfucker again.” It wasn’t a question, but a command and it made me feel so loved and safe.
“Yeah, I know. He was…it was part of them…like an interrogation but with humiliation and coming on my face instead of yanking out fingernails.”
His fingers moved steadily through my hair, but I heard the hitch in his breathing. “You said them? Was there more than one man there… hurting you?”
“No, it was the wife. She watched. Asked me where they were and when I wouldn’t say because I honestly don’t know, he would get mean. It was really the most…worst…I don’t know how to say it well, but they were mean. She left us alone after kicking me in the side. She was so pissed. Then we did our usual session like it was a normal night. Like… like he and his psycho wife hadn’t just hit and kicked me around like a dodgeball for hours. But…shit, I feel like puking.”
My breakfast was starting to flip-flop inside me. I’d never been that scared, that used, that debased. And I knew I had to say something to someone because they had been pumping me hard for information about Sterling and Garnet. And Gems.
“Don’t force it, Pup. When you’re ready to talk about it all, then you’re ready. Sometimes it takes years before—”
“No, see, I can’t wait though.” I sat up, whimpered at the pain in my side, but pressed on while my mind was clear and my resolve strong. “They were asking about Sterling, where he was, what did I know about his whereabouts. And they wanted to know about Gems.”
His slim eyebrows tangled. “What? I don’t…what does a rough john have to do with Sterling and Garnet?”
“They were mad. Super mad. She was madder than him. She’s looking for vengeance, against us, against Sterling and Garnet,” I blurted out, her face swimming in front of me. “She had this leer on her perfectly painted lips when Paul was hurting me. His name is Paul, she called him that, and he called her Carlotta.” Not a sound came from David. I glanced up from my lap to see if he’d heard me. All the color had drained from his face.
“What did she look like?” he asked, his voice tight and odd. I told him, giving him all the details I could and then some. He fished his phone out of his front pocket, typed something in, and then showed me a picture of the woman who had egged Paul the Pup Whisperer on and on and on… “Zach, hey, focus here. Is this the woman that you were with last night?”
I took the phone. “Yeah, that’s her. Beautiful but fucking brutal mean.” A shudder ran over me, thinking of her loud laughter when Pup Whisper was kicking me like the filthy cur I was. His words, not mine.
“Yeah, maybe? Her name is Carlotta. Does that mean anything to you?”
“Her husband, he was there?” His face grew ashen white. I was starting to freak out a bit.
“Yeah, he was there. Sir, what’s wrong?”
“He was the one who did this to you?”
“Yeah, well, I guess I sort of went along with it to keep the punching to a minimum. He came all over me, my back and face after she left. I saw the glimmer in her eyes, though…during the rough stuff. She liked that blood and pain. She… she said I was a warning to the whores at Gems to stay quiet, that’s why they let me live. I mean, him and her argued over it, but he won. I guess he liked being mean to me. He said he hoped he could meet up with me again.” I shivered. “Like that’s ever going to happen again. I’m not that stupid. Are you okay? Sir? David?”
He pushed from the bed, his hands fisted, his skin breaking out in a glistening sweat. “That motherfucker…”
I wiggled to the end of the bed, wishing now I’d kept my mouth shut. He was so upset over me and what I’d stupidly done in a rush of dumbness to try to swipe him from my head and heart. As if I could ever clear him from my being. He made a few passes of the bedroom. My heart was now in my throat. I’d never seen him like this.
“Sir, what’s wrong?” I asked in a meek whisper.
He stopped at the dresser, looking at himself in the oval mirror attached to the bureau. “Paul Michelson.” He spit the name out as if he had cat shit on his tongue. “Paul Michelson is the man who hurt you. He’s married to Carlotta Bianchi.”
“Okay.” I didn’t know if I should get up and touch him or keep my distance. His aura was one of pure rage and terror.
“Paul Michelson is my uncle.”
He left the bedroom like a shot from a gun. I sat there, his phone still in my hand, jaw on my chest, trying to recover from the nuke he’d just dropped on my head. Brain dulled from meds and the news that I’d been involved with puppy play with my Dom’s uncle, I lifted the phone to nose level and read quickly. When I got to the end of the social pages splashy article about the wedding a few months ago, my normally tousled brain space was completely fried.
Diamond, David, my Sir… was the nephew of Paul Michelson, the current secretary of corrections, who was the twin brother of Senator Abraham Michelson.
“Holy fuck,” I murmured to the empty room.