Two ~ Diamond
“Why the fuck is he here?” I asked my silent house. Left arm resting on one of the massive panes of glass that looked out at Morton St. and my front gate, I exhaled dramatically. “Why the fuck are you here, Pup?”
It was not a good day for me to be entertaining Amber, or anyone else. Last night’s session with a new client had not gone as planned. He’d broken one cardinal rule of mine and removed his mask, ripping it off in the throes of an orgasm so intense he wept as he spurted. Stepping back to avoid cum on my boots, I’d watched in horror as the man writhed and moaned just as he had all those years ago, his face bared.
Closing my eyes, I forced the memory away, pushed the sight of the man who so reminded me of him to the dark part of my mind where it was locked down. Pulling in one steadying breath, then another, I found my control. Or what remained of it after last night’s session.
“I’m not doing this with you,” I whispered to Amber. The glass was cool on my brow. “Go home, Pup.” Of course, he wouldn’t. I knew that as well as I knew the shape and meaning of the tiny raven tattooed on the back of my left hand. My first inkwork. Done when I was fifteen. My only inkwork. It said all I needed to say to the outside world about what lurked inside my soul. Eyes closed, forehead to glass, I breathed in dry, cold air and let it out. “Just go home.”
I turned from the sight of one of my friends, probably the sweetest and most innocent of all the Gems and went to my bedroom to shower. After another scrubbing, I pattered past the front windows of the living room. Amber was still there. I went into the kitchen, made some coffee, dumped some heavy cream into a mug of dark roast and sipped it while watching the clock tick off one minute, then another, then another. How hot was it growing out there? It had been sweltering here in Illinois the past ten days. Record heat and humidity.
“Fucking hell.” I put my mug down on the counter soundly then stalked barefooted to the front door and threw it open. A gust of hot air hit me in the face. “Go home, Pup!” I shouted. Amber stood, turned, and looked right into me. He did that a lot with those big jade eyes of his, seemingly able to slice right through my defenses. Which was why I tried to keep the tender thing at arm’s length. He was too starry-eyed, too playful, too sweet to be as infatuated as he was with me. Yeah, I knew he had a crush on me. It was hard to miss. Like right now, that soft, pretty face of his was all earnest affection.
“Nope. I’m going to sit here all day waiting for you to let me in and talk to me.” The slender young thing folded his arms over his chest. “Right here. Probably dehydrating as we speak.”
I called him every name I could think of inside my head yet pushed the buzzer on the security panel just inside the door. The gate popped open. Amber smiled, then darted inside and up the four stone stairs to study me closely.
“You stink,” I tossed out then left him at the door to go get my coffee. “Go shower before you come into my kitchen.”
He bounced along after me, trying to sneak peeks at my face. It was no accident that I called him Pup, even though he was our go-to puppy playboy. The kid was like a beagle puppy. Always trying to lick your face and brighten your day. Most times I was happy to see him and have his light shine on me. Not so much this morning, though…
“I shot some hoops with Butch. You could have come. Are you okay? You sound…off.” He tried to push around me. I shot an arm out, palm slapping the wall, barring him from skirting around in front.
“I’m fine. Just tired. You really reek. Go use my shower. I hate the smell of unwashed pits.”
“Go.” One word, spoken firmly and his energy changed. I sensed it immediately, the soft shift from rambunctious to behaved. “Shower. Do not come down until you’re clean.”
“I’m just worried,” he whispered. I closed my eyes, bit down on my cheek, and exhaled through my nose, eyes on the doorway ahead of me.
“I know. Now do as I tell you, Pup.”
“Yes, right away…” And there it drifted off, leaving us both on a wobbly teetertotter of awareness. He was searching for the right term. Sir was what I preferred, but he probably used master when with a client, if he spoke at all, which was unlikely. “Diamond.”
Off he jogged, his sneakers squeaking on the hardwood flooring. I stood rigidly, arm still out, listening to him climb the stairs then enter the guest room to the right. Once the door closed, I relaxed a bit, went to find my coffee, and added a shot of brandy to my morning brew. It was five o’clock somewhere, as they said. He’d want to eat, so I ambled over to the stove to prepare something for him. Some scrambled eggs with a dash of bacon bits and smothered with American cheese. He was a young man, just twenty last month. All guys that age loved cheese and bacon. Fuck, I liked cheese and bacon and I had close to eleven years and several lifetimes on him.
When I heard him coming down the stairs ten minutes later, I plated up his eggs, placed them on the table in the breakfast nook, then took my spot by the fridge. In he bounded, bright-eyed, a tepid smile, his brown hair damp and uncombed, in a pair of my old shorts and nothing else.
“I found these in the dresser in your guest room.” He hitched them up on one side, the other riding low enough to expose creamy white flesh stretched taut over his hipbone. He really did need to eat more, or slow down. His metabolism made me sick with envy. “I hope…”
“It’s fine. I can’t imagine putting dirty clothes on clean skin. Sit down and eat so you can go home when you’re done.”
He sniffed at my comment, as if offended, but plunked his skinny backside on the wooden bench. His gaze flickered to me after he salted his eggs. “Aren’t you eating?”
“No, not this morning.” I’d not be able to handle food until later this evening. Brandy was dandy, though. His sleek eyebrows knotted. “I’m fine. There are plenty of people that need you to worry about them. I’m not one of them.”
“You look weird,” he commented before shoving a forkful of eggs into his mouth.
“I was born with this face,” I replied with as much wit as I could dredge up. It wasn’t much.
“Vice was at the office this morning.” The sudden change in topics didn’t throw me much. Amber tended to bounce around mentally just as he did physically.
“Shin and Ian will handle it. You just tend to doing you. Keep your receipts in line. Are you playing tonight?” I crossed my ankles, some of the clawing tension easing as we made small talk. His dark head bobbed. “A regular?”
“Yeah, goes by Pup Whisperer.” He snickered over his eggs. Despite my lethargy, I had to smile into my coffee. “Such a stupid name.”
“Clients,” I offered with a shrug, the lighthearted comment making the worry leave his stunning green eyes. “Don’t go against your ethics.”
“I never do.” He leaned back, away from his food, and stared at me. “Are you sure—”
“Don’t.” I warned again. “I’m fine. Just a rough night.”
“Aren’t they all rough for you?”
“Most are only rough for my clients. Last night was…an oddity. It won’t happen again, so you can quit fretting like an old hen. Eat, gather your disgusting clothes, and go get ready for Pup Whisperer.”
He snorted, the sound a joyous one that always brought me a little bit of sunshine. Funny how appealing this all was…Amber eating my food, wearing my clothes, smiling at me as if I hung the motherfucking moon. Perhaps funny wasn’t the right word. Maybe terrifying and wrong were the correct choices. The pup deserved better than a beaten, scarred cur like me in his life, even if the fantasy of him being mine to handle firmly yet gently played out in my sick head more often than it should.
“I miss Garnet. He hasn’t called in months,” he said around a forkful of egg. “Do you think he’s okay?”
“He’s fine, I’m sure. He’s really not supposed to be in contact with anyone; that’s kind of the whole point of witness protection, Pup.”
He nodded sullenly. “I know, I just miss him. I worry about my friends.”
“Yes, I’m aware.” He glanced my way, his lips curling up the corners. “Now finish that food and go home. I’m going to take a nap and meditate.” Then head out when the moon climbs up to meet up with one of my oldest and most reliable subs for a drink or ten.
“Are you sure you’re—”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine. Thank you for worrying.”
“Always,” he whispered, cheeks glowing pink. I lowered my sight from the blushing young man wearing my clothes. Distance. It was imperative to maintain distance. For him as well as for me.