Twelve ~ David
Distance. I just needed some distance. And some fresh fucking air.
Shoving out into the postage stamp backyard, I gulped in as much cloying, sticky summer air as I could. My feet tangled up as I rushed out the sliding glass door, almost sending me to my face on the tiny redwood porch that I hardly ever used. As it was, I barely made to the three short stairs before my knees folded and I buckled, my ass hitting the porch as flashbacks overtook me.
It had been prowling the periphery of my mind for weeks now, the glowing yellow eyes of my own personal demon dragging its claws along the walls as it waited for a chink in my mental armor. The night my client pulled off his mask had put a hole in my armor, but it had held, for the most part, until just now.
Burying my face into my sweaty palms, the memories of those years rushed in, breath fetid, teeth biting deeply, ripping away the protections that I’d worked so hard to forge. Just like that, I could hear my uncle’s voice, feel his touch…
I turned my head to vomit into the azalea that the previous owner had planted. There I lay, spread out on my steps, puke on my chin when Zach found me. It was not my proudest moment. He sat down beside me, pulling and tugging, until he had jerked me into a somewhat awkward embrace. He dabbed at my face with his fingers, patted my head, and eased my cheek to his shoulder.
“I’m not the Dom you need,” I gasped, my world twisted into so many abstract knots I may never get it straight.
“You’re all I need,” he said, holding onto me as I shuddered and quaked, cried and sniffled, and in general was the antithesis of what a good dominant should be. I should be comforting him, and I told him that sometime later as the sun crept higher into the sky. “What, so a Dom doesn’t have feelings? Are you like a Terminator or something?”
“I wish. I wish I were a T-1000. Cold, distant, lethal.” His arm slid down my back as I sat up to look into the sun. “He’s going to die for touching you.”
“Stop it, no one is dying,” he snapped, pushing to his feet then disappearing inside and slamming the door shut behind him. Nice. So, the AC had been pouring out into the heat for hours. That’ll be a nice electric bill.
Shut the fuck up about the fucking electric bill. Holy fuck, you shit stain. Get up, go find your boy, and try to be the Dom in this relationship. Be the man he needs.
“Right.” I shoved up to my bare feet, locked my shit down – I’d deal with it later in therapy– and went inside to find Zach. He was sitting on the floor in the living room, his bruises bright and vivid against his pale skin. I dropped down beside him, my back to the wall, legs out, and opened my arms. “Come sit with me, Pup.”
“Oh, Sir,” he choked out, scurrying into my arms like a whipped puppy, which he was. I stroked his hair, cooed, cuddled, reassured him that he was not stupid, and this was not his fault. When he was calmer, I promised him that everything would be okay. And it would. I’d make sure of that. My uncle might have gotten away with what he did to me all those years ago, but he was not getting away with hurting Zach. I had a something for Paul Michelson in my safe upstairs that would ensure that. “We have to call Gems, warn them.”
I kissed his temple. “Do you want me to call Butch? We can meet here.”
“Yeah, please.” He snuggled into my chest, legs drawn up, cheek on my shoulder. My ass was growing numb from sitting on the hardwood floor, but I wasn’t about to ask him to move. I fiddled around until I could slip my hand into my front pocket then wiggled my phone free. “I’m sorry about making you sick. I’m sorry your uncle—”
“No sorry is required. Just rest, Pup. Let me take care of it. I should have done so years ago.”
“Will you call James after Butch and talk to him?”
I shook my head. “I’m fine. I want to take care of you right now. No, don’t argue. I know myself. I’m good now.” He looked unconvinced but the firm tone of my voice seemed to put off any kind of argument. Or so I had thought.
“A good Dom takes care of himself so he can take care of his sub,” he whispered into my throat. “Please call James.”
Damn it. Fuck this tiny little package of feelings resting in my arms. “Okay, I’ll call James after we get things settled, okay?”
“Okay. I love you.”
“I love you, too. I wish I would have told you sooner, kept you closer…safer.”
“You weren’t ready,” he replied. Such a wise old soul in such a tender, bruised vessel. “I was willing to wait for you.” I ran my hand over his hair, wishing against wish that I didn’t have to delve into what had happened, but if I didn’t ask…didn’t know…it would consume me like a flesh-eating virus. “Would you really keep me safe here?”
“I really would,” I assured him, knowing how important home and family was to a person who’d lived on the street. “Pup, I need to ask you a few questions and they’re going to be ugly as fuck questions, but we need to know.”
“We? You’re not calling the cops, are you?!” His dark head shot up, emerald eyes fearful.
“Do I look like the kind of dude who would bring in the law?” He shook his head, the tight grip of worry easing from his face. “We meaning me and Butch.” He wrinkled his nose, then let his head drop back to my shoulder. “Or just me.”
“Just you,” he murmured. “You’re my Sir, Butch is just…Butch.”
“Okay, Pup, just me.” I wiggled around a bit, lifting him from one spot on my thigh to another. His ass-bones dug in after a bit. “Doc McCoy said that there were signs… he feared you’d been raped.”
“No. It was never that way with him. He never did anything but jerk off on me even when, well, before he turned mean. I think…he likes me.”
I refused to even think on what my uncle’s liking him would eventually lead to. “You said it was consensual. Is that true?”
He pulled in a shaky breath. “Mostly.” I bit back the urge to be impatient. No one knew better than me how hard it was to discuss being abused in any manner. “I mean…it’s my job to give in, yeah? So, the sex part was part of what’s expected from me, but the hitting and punching, that’s not acceptable.”
“None of it was acceptable. You do understand that consent applies to sex workers, too?” He made a funny sound like a half cough. “It does. We do not have to do anything with anyone when we don’t want to.”
“I know…I guess, but the sex and play kept him busy and I’m used to not being into it. Ever since I came to Gems, no matter who the bidder or client was, I wasn’t with them. I was with you in my head.”
“Oh, Pup.” Tears welled but I dashed them away quickly. He needed his Dom, not a simpering fool. “You’re the best boy ever.” A wispy sigh escaped him. The tension leeched from his muscles and he melted into me. “We’ll get into this later. Maybe you can talk with Micah while I talk with James?”
“Micah is an uppity bitch.”
That made me snort out loud. “Yeah, he is, no doubt, but he’s a good man, an excellent therapist, and he’s a sub, so they’ll be no judgements about your kink.” God knows I’d had a few terrible counselors before I finally settled on James. Being who we were wasn’t a flaw for them to fix. I wasn’t looking to talk myself out of being a Dom. I’d been looking to talk about what my uncle did to me and how it was making me abuse myself in ways Paul Michelson never dreamed of. “You think on it, okay?”
“Okay. Sir, are you going to call Gems now? I’m worried.”
“Yeah, I’ll call.”
I put a call into Butch and was told he’d be here in ten, which I passed along to Zach. We snuggled for a bit more, then I had to disentangle myself and get to my feet. Zach eyed me with unease, then claimed to be too tired to talk with Butch. I told him to take a pain killer and get into my bed. He smiled in that sweet, subby way, then asked if he could kiss me. Since I’d yet to brush my teeth after my episode on the back porch, I gave him my fingers. His eyes lit up and he pressed his swollen lips to the raven on the back of my hand.
“Thank you, Sir.”
“You’re welcome, Pup. Now go to bed. You need to rest. Food will come up soon. Stop worrying. I’ll take care of everything.”
I watched him climb the stairs, my sleep pants baggy on his lean frame. As soon as the door closed upstairs, I padded into guest bath to brush my teeth and gargle. Butch arrived just as I was exiting the small powder room. He looked like he’d run over from Gems, but he hadn’t, as his big Black Escalade was parked in front of my gate.
“What’s going on?” He asked as soon as he was inside. I waved him to the kitchen. He followed along, his dress shoes hitting the hardwood with sharp strikes. I stopped and turned to face him.
“Can you take your shoes off? You’re marring the floor.”
Hazel eyes flared. “Are you fucking with me?” I folded my arms over my bare chest and cocked an eyebrow. “Jesus fucking Christ.” He yanked the shiny brown shoes off then flung them back at the front door. “Better?”
“Much.” I spun around then led him, sock-footed, into the kitchen where I began making coffee and a late lunch or early dinner, whatever, just for something to do with my hands as I talked. Butch stood by the stove, ass against the counter, sipping black coffee while I relayed what Zach had told me about Carlotta Bianchi’s interrogation of him and the warning his battery was supposed to be to us at Gems.
“Coldhearted bitch,” he snarled, his green/brown eyes snapping. “I knew the Bianchi’s weren’t going to just sit back after Vesco turned state’s evidence. I’d been looking for retaliation from the ones in MCC Chicago. I didn’t think the sister would turn out to be as bad as the guys. Although fuck knows I should have suspected it. Women are ten times more vindictive then any man. What?”
“That’s kind of sexist.”
“That’s kind of the truth,” he calmly replied. “Is the kid okay? I mean, was he…you know?”
“We’re not discussing that. What he told me was in confidence as his Dom.”
“Yeah, about that…”
I slapped some ham on a slice of bread with butter on it, my sight flicking to him. “Are you going to hassle me with some archaic fraternization clause right now? This is what’s stuck in your craw? The fact that Zach and I are now in a relationship is your biggest concern?”
“No, it’s not my biggest concern, Dave, it’s just one of about forty-five hundred ever since I was named on the motherfucking deed. Don’t come at me with your attitude. I’m just saying that two employees dating always causes issues. Al-ways.”
I laid a slice of swiss cheese over the deli ham before I replied. He did make a good point. If we continued in our new dynamic, any time Amber was out with a client, I’d be jealous. It was a known fact that I did not like sharing my special subs. And none had ever been as special to me as Zach was. Plus, there was the question of how Zach would feel if I had clients over. I had to think he’d not be happy. Then on the flip side was what would happen if we broke up? Butch was right, dating at work was never smart and always sticky.
“Then I’ll quit.” The glib little gibe flew out of me, startling me. Butch’s eyes widened. “We’ll both quit.”
“So, being his Dom means you get to make employment decisions for him?”
Fucker. Always so smug. “No, of course not.”
“Then maybe you and him need to talk this all out. Right now, romance is about down to here.” He made a chopping motion right around the kneecaps of his worn dress pants. “And dealing with a psycho mob queen whose brother and father we put into jail is right around here.” He waved the same hand over his short brown hair.
“Fine, we’ll figure our personal shit out, but you need to use that law background of yours to get the mafia off all of our backs.” I gave the mustard bottle a sound squeeze, a glop of yellow mustard hitting the unbuttered slice of bread with a “Splurt!” sound.
“I don’t have a law background.”
“Military, then. Whatever the hell is in your past, use it, because this bitch is gunning for us. Sterling and Garnet are back in the crosshairs. Someone needs to warn them.”
“I’ll contact the boys in the government. They can pull them from wherever they stashed them and move them. Right now, that’s all I can do for them. They’re probably a lot safer than we are. Carlotta don’t know where they live. She’s obviously got all our addresses.”
That she did. And I was going to find hers as soon as I fed my boy and saw him fall asleep. “Can you ask someone at Gems to come over and sit with Zach in a few hours?”
He put his empty mug on the black marble counter. “Dave…”
“David. It’s David.”
“Dave, don’t do something stupid. You let me and Ian handle this. I’ll call him over in London and as soon as he’s done making his speech at Oxford, he’ll be home. We need smarts on this, not emotions.” I nodded, closed the sandwich, placed it on a glass plate, then started making another one just like the first. “Diamond, I mean it.”
“I won’t do anything stupid. I need to go talk to my therapists.” The lie rolled off my tongue smoothly.
He eyeballed me for the longest time. “Fine. I’ll get Onyx to come over if he’s free. He likes the kid. Go get your head shrunk and then haul your ass back here.”
“Sir, yes sir.”
He gave me a glower before stalking off. I breathed a little easier when I saw him pull from the curb. The evening was falling into place and I now had a timeline: Feed and comfort my boy, make sure he took his meds and drifted off into a sound sleep, gather my Glock 9 MM and a few magazines from the safe, and then go find my miserable fucking uncle.