Gems – Diamond
Gems has come a long way under its new management. The modernized business is now one of the Midwest’s most popular and elite gay escort services, and the men of Gems some of the most sought-after escorts in the eastern United States. Despite the glamour, cash, and prestige, it can be a lonely life when all you are is a pretty ornament on someone’s arm…
Diamond has lived a life that has forged him into a man as tough as the gem he’s named after. Beautiful and in command, his looks are blinding, his heart padlocked and safely tucked away in a glittery cold lockbox.
Amber has loved Diamond from afar for ages now, but the shy young man is warm, golden honey while the man he loves is cold, clear ice. There’s no way possible for a tender, bouncy puppy to win the heart of a jaded junkyard dog without being bitten …is there?
(Diamond and Amber’s story picks up six months after the end of Garnet.)
*This installment of Gems may contain discussions/flashbacks of past sexual abuse that some may find upsetting. *
One ~ Amber
Sometimes a guy just wants to play some hoops.
That was me today. Just a guy trying to round up enough people to play basketball. So far, I’d not been having much luck. This is what happens when all your friends work nights. Every text I’d sent out to my brothers at Gems had either been ignored or had gotten me a reply filled with foul language and threats to my body. Even Diamond, who was usually nice to me, had shut me down roughly. The only one who’d been halfway decent in his reply was Butch. Which was why I was now facing off against my boss on a swelteringly hot August dawn.
“So are we playing or are we standing around calculating the trajectory of the ball you might throw at the net?”
“It’s not a net. It’s a milkcrate with the bottom cut out,” I replied, shaking off the glum mood that had settled on me after reading over Diamond’s curt reply.
Not today kid. Long, hard night last night. – D
What did that mean? Was he in pain? I knew that he trafficked in some pretty hardcore stuff, but had always assumed he was the Dom. I didn’t dare ask, and so that would keep him from any kind of—
“Hey, tick tock kid. I have a full plate today,” Butch said, slapped the basketball from my hand, and made a crazy hook shot that sailed through the basket/milk crate. A horn blared behind us. Someone shouted a profanity. Colchester was waking up. “See, that’s how we south side boys shoot.”
He lobbed the basketball to me. I shoved all the other crap out of my head. The worry over Diamond, the smell of the dumpster sitting beside the basketball court, the wail of a siren, the cries of a baby from the public housing building to our left.
“You think you got moves? Watch how we Iowa boys shoot.”
Butch snorted in amusement, tossing his head to indicate the net/milkcrate, and hunkered down on legs thick as tree trunks. He wasn’t incredibly tall, close to my height of five foot seven, but he was thick and muscled. We all said he was our resident bulldog. Same build, same tenacity, same way of looking at life. Block head down and bull through any problems, although not all his problems could be wiped clean with a snarl or a bite to a mafia lord’s ass.
“Shit, the only thing they grow in Iowa is corn, kid.”
“Stop calling me that,” I snapped. He winked, knowing how much I hated being called a child. I was old enough to be an escort at Gems. “Harrison Barnes was born in Iowa.”
“Pup, you are no Harrison Barnes.” He charged at me, shoulder down.
I spun out of the way, dribbled a few times, then jumped and made my shot. The ball sailed through the crate. Smiling, brow already wet, I threw the ball to Butch, took off my t-shirt, tossed it to the ground by the rusty fence that ran the perimeter of the Southern Colchester Community Playground, and motioned for the man to bring it.
He did bring it. And then some. I’d played basketball in high school and it was nothing like this. Butch was the roughest, pushiest, foulest – in both rule breaking and shit talking – player I’d ever gone up against. Being the shortest and skinniest player on the team meant I had had to work twice as hard. My father had been so proud of me back then. Now I had no idea how he felt about his only son, but if I had to guess he’d be mortified if he knew his son was an escort. It wouldn’t matter if his son worked for a service that was a shooting star of success. All Dad would see was that I was paid to date men. The dating men part had been hard enough for him, mom, and my sister to accept. Add in that men spent tons of money to pretend they were my handler while I played puppy…Iowa mindsets were no way ready for kink, let alone gay kink.
He elbowed me in the side, jarring me from the mental trip home, then stealing the ball and sinking it for the winning point.
“You cheat,” I panted, sweat in my eyes, the sun just peeking over the rundown buildings that were southside Colchester. Old storefronts long since boarded up or housing squatters and the homeless stood silently with a pink dawn glowing on the soaped-up windows. “Like, you cheat so badly there’s not even a word strong enough to describe how terribly you cheat.”
He picked up our shirts, whipped mine at me, wiped his face off with his, and then flashed me one of his rare smiles. It lit up his face. If my heart didn’t belong to someone else, I’d have been tempted to flirt, boss or not.
“The word you’re looking for, kid, is winner.”
I rolled my eyes then struggled to get my shirt pulled over my slick skin. “My coach would have benched you for all those flying elbows.”
“This ain’t Iowa, kid. This is south Colchester. You come to the game ready to win by any means necessary.” He was deadly serious. Looking around, I could see that a kid probably grew up fast and grew up mean on this side of the Colchester River. You either outgunned everyone else or you were found dead in the gutter. His phone vibrated. We both exhaled sharply. “If this is Shin telling me that the fucking vice squad has shown up…” He checked his message, his brows dropping down into a thunderous V. “Mother fuckers.”
That was all he needed to say. We made a dash through the gate and down the street, hooking a right then a left. The street was quiet, for the most part, aside from the four unmarked cop cars parked at odd angles in front of Gems.
“I am so sick of these fuckers,” Butch growled as he thundered into the lobby. Shin was sitting on a sofa next to Ian, both rumpled and frowning, as vice went through our records and digital files. “I swear, the next time I have a colonoscopy they’re going to find your ugly face in my shit tract, Sweeney! Detective Polyp, that’s my new name for you.” The cop gathering up the sales receipts from the juice bar gave Butch the middle finger. “Fucking dirty cops.”
“Sit down and ride it out. The more you antagonize them, the longer they’re going to take,” Ian said, yawning into his hand then wiggling downward to rest his red head on the back of the sofa.
“These crooked cops make my asshole twitch,” Butch muttered, flinging himself into a padded chair.
I dropped down into a crouch, basketball by my sneakers, praying that I’d turned in all the right receipts over the past two weeks. These bimonthly visits from the vice squad were commonplace now. Ever since Sterling Vesco had turned state’s evidence, the pressure from the only remaining Bianchi crime lord not in prison had increased. Maybe she should be called a crime lady? Whatever the term, Carlotta Bianchi-Michelson was out for blood. And since she couldn’t lay hands on Sterling or Garnet, Gems was where she vented her anger.
Obviously, the cops were on the take, as well as the courts, because every two weeks like clockwork the cops showed up with warrants. Until the owners could figure out how to come at the problem, all we could do was sit back and let the vice unit try to shut us down. So far, we’d come up sparkling clean. We were all super careful to keep Gems business separate from personal business. The afterhours stuff would be what sunk us if it were ever ferreted out. One small slip up would bring down the house. None of us wanted that. Our new lives were so much better than the old ones. We were in charge. Empowerment was exhilarating.
My one saving grace was that ninety-nine percent of my customers weren’t into puppy play for sex. For us, it was the subtle D/s vibes. Diamond liked to tease me by saying I dabbled with BDSM lite. Maybe so. There was only one man who I wanted to be a true Dom for me, so I dabbled with the softer stuff and dreamed of the day Diamond would really, truly see me.
“Anyone heard from Diamond?” I asked as boxes of paperwork were being carried out the front door. Shin sighed and shook his head, Ian grunted a negative, and Butch was too busy glowering at the crooked cops to reply. “I think I’m going to go to his place and check on him. He sounded…funny when I texted him about shooting hoops.”
“You shouldn’t be here, anyway,” Shin muttered, wiping at his sleepy eyes. “This is our hassle to handle.”
“I’m sure he’s fine. Diamond is always fine,” Ian said, his eyes drifting shut even as he spoke.
I nodded. Yeah, Diamond was tough. Our leader was harder than any of us, or so he wanted us to think. I saw deeper. “Right, well, I’m still off to check on him. Hang in.”
I bumped knuckles with Shin, then slid out the front door, getting smarmy looks from the cops tossing Shin and Butch’s property into the trunks of cars without a care. Biting back my urge to speak up, I shoved my hands into the front pockets of my gym shorts and shuffled off, my worry building as I covered six city blocks until I reached Diamond’s place. It was a single dwelling, glass-fronted, with ten-foot high privacy fencing. The rent on the place would sink most of us, but Diamond made some big money now. His clients paid well for his services, or so he had told me a few months ago. His home was tastefully decorated top to bottom and had a finished basement that was his private playground. Diamond’s words, not mine. I’d been here a few times to pick him up for a night out, but the basement door was always locked and not for a pup as sweet as me. Again, his words not mine.
I rattled the security gate. It was locked tight. The eight glass windows on the front of the brick house were darkened for privacy so there was no way to tell if he were up or not. I pushed the small button on the steel gate, waited for a minute, then rang it again. And again, and again.
“I’m not going anywhere D,” I murmured as I settled in for the duration. Something deep down inside told me that Diamond needed someone to take care of him this time. That someone was going to be me.