by Lynn Kelling
To everyone else, Trace is an enigmatic and carefully controlled Dominant. He runs Diadem, a private BDSM club and is a Master and mentor to his fellow Doms and their lovers—Gabriel, Darrek, Ben, and Kyle—while trying to be Master and lover for Micah. Trace is the one they all depend on to step in when anything or anyone threatens his closest friends.
But even Trace is in over his head when haunting events of the past endanger all their lives. Trace is forced to call on old connections for help from the world he tried to leave behind—the Master’s Circle in England. Tensions rise to a fever pitch as Trace’s hidden truths shake up the lives of everyone in his tangled, tight-knit family. (M/M+)
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Chapter 4: A Slave Afraid
The phone is ringing again. The landline. Though the answering machine is in a box in the closet with some of the wires ripped out, the phone itself is still plugged in, so it just rings and rings without ever being picked up.
It doesn’t always ring. There were a few days of blessed, though tense, silence before it started up again.
Darrek has the gun in his hand, and he’s not sure why. He likes the weight of it and the feel of the cool, slick, hard metal inside his grip. Wearing an old pair of jeans, his leather collar buckled around his neck, he sits on a chair in the living room, facing the phone and the door. His back is to the wall.
It occurs to him that the timer for dinner should be going off soon. Then he’ll need to take the casserole out of the oven before it’s overdone. His training and responsibility to his Master lets that much filter past the shrill rattle in his eardrums, echoing off of the walls of the empty house.
He’s breathing hard and his eyes burn. His back is tight like he’s bracing himself, waiting for the slicing lash of a belt across his bare skin, or the slam of a door on his wrist. Sierra, their golden retriever, comes over to him, her nails clicking softly on the floorboards to nuzzle his leg with concern. After a sniff or two, she settles down at his feet, laying her head on her paws. Eyes upturned, she beseeches him but keeps her body between him and danger. That makes him wish he didn’t have the gun.
“No. No. Enough.”
He stands and sets the gun—a Glock 30—on top of the tall bookcase in the hall, out of sight but in reach, and goes right to the phone. It rings again. Reaching for the jack, he pulls it out of the wall.
The phone goes silent.
He exhales heavily. After a moment in which he lets himself begin to calm, Darrek returns to Sierra and sits with her, stroking her back and murmuring, “Good girl. Such a good girl.”
Thirty minutes later, the casserole is cooling on the kitchen counter; Darrek is naked and kneeling by the door, awaiting Gabriel and the phone’s next ring. He hears Gabriel’s Discovery pull into the driveway and audibly tracks his movements from the vehicle to the front door of their house. Part of his mind—the cruel part—whispers that it’s not Gabriel at all, though he recognizes the engine sound and the squeaky brakes. The glimmer of doubt is what prevents him from keeping his head bowed as his Master enters their home after a ten-hour shift at work at his studio, Daring Angel Photography.
All he needs is the glimpse of Gabriel’s polished shoes. Once he gets it, Darrek’s heartbeat slows to a more normal pace. His right arm and shoulder muscles gradually relax and he stops wanting to get up and get the gun again.
Sierra gives a happy little bark and hurries up to Gabriel, her tongue lolling out as she greets him and gets a nice head scratch for her troubles.
“Hey baby, you taking care of the big lug for me, huh? Good girl.”
Sierra barks again, then runs to the back door, looking expectantly over a shoulder as she waits to be let out.
“Okay, okay. I’m comin’,” Gabriel sighs, sounding more tired than he should. There’s always something about the way Gabriel speaks around Darrek lately that makes it seem like he’s trying to sound normal instead of actually sounding normal. Darrek is fairly sure that’s the paranoia talking, or maybe Gabriel is just managing to muster courage in a more successful way than Darrek.
Darrek knows he should get up, take Gabriel’s coat and bag, ask him how his day was, but his legs won’t heed commands from his brain. They stay folded beneath him, his arms heavy, knees weak, and spine prickling with certainty that the phone will start ringing again any moment and he’ll lose it for good. His mind will snap cleanly under the strain.
Gabriel’s hand lovingly caresses the side of Darrek’s jaw as he passes with a murmured, “C’mere.”
It’s good to keep his gaze down, Darrek decides. It keeps him from seeing if Gabriel is glancing around the house, checking for anything that’s off, feeding the madness that’s always with Darrek now, like Jerry is right outside, listening, waiting, or maybe crouched in one of the closets, or standing behind a door, holding a knife, or a belt.
After a few long strides, Gabriel is at the back door. He unlocks it; unfastening the chain and opening it up. Sierra rushes out into the fenced yard. Gabriel closes the door behind her. Darrek wants him to lock the door again, but he doesn’t.
As Gabriel’s gaze drifts over to the unplugged phone line, seeing that it is, in fact, still unplugged, Darrek is able to move at last. The casserole is his primary concern. He stands, walking to the kitchen. Ignoring the look he glimpses on Gabriel’s face, he gets out a plate and scoops onto it a serving of chicken and vegetables in cream sauce with toasted breadcrumbs on top. After setting this on the table, he moves to get the opened wine bottle from the fridge, but is stopped by Gabriel’s hand on his arm.
Stilling himself, eyes averted, Darrek just stands there as Gabriel folds him up in a hug. Slightly wind-chilled fingers caress over Darrek’s bare back and Gabriel’s lips press a kiss to Darrek’s shoulder.
“Please sit with me,” Gabriel asks gently, a breath of sound.
“I need this,” Darrek manages, his voice coming out rougher than he expected. He adds, “Sir,” as an afterthought.
“Look at me, Dare.”
There’s a five inch difference in height between them. Gabriel is the shorter, as well as the slighter one. In almost every way, Gabriel looks sweeter, gentler, and more innocent than Darrek. Appearances can be deceiving, though. A slim, startlingly pretty body can sometimes disguise a powerfully determined, wise, strong and well-fortified spirit. Even simply standing in Gabriel’s arms, Darrek can feel the steady strength of his partner. He needs that too, desperately.
He looks into Gabriel’s grey-blue eyes, at the perfectly casual, sexy tousle of his dark hair and struggles not to grimace at the claws of stress and fear shredding Gabriel’s paper-thin façade. They’re both struggling, and coping in their own ways.
Gabriel asks, “The phone was ringing, wasn’t it? Did you leave the gun alone, like I asked? That’s for emergencies only.”
Gabriel’s voice is low and carries, pressing the will, triggering instincts that have become ingrained in Darrek’s psyche in their two and a half years together. Knowing his Master can read the answers well enough in his expression, Darrek lets silence speak his guilt.
“You need this?” Gabriel asks.
“Yes, Master,” Darrek answers tightly with a nod.
“Okay,” Gabriel relents. “Restraints?”
The phone upstairs begins to ring, the one not yet unplugged. Instantly, Darrek starts to cry.
“Hey,” Gabriel says in a sharp, rasping command, demanding Darrek’s attention. “Who’s in charge here? Huh?”
“On your knees. Right there,” Gabriel orders, pointing at a patch of tile beside the table. “Don’t move an inch. Don’t fucking even think about touching the gun. You hear me?”
Wiping his eyes on the back of his arm, Darrek gets in position, trying to tune it all out, to go inward, but he hears it all anyway—the heavy footsteps up the stairs as Gabriel goes, then crossing through the bedroom, the silencing of the other phone and the subsequent footsteps into the second bedroom where a creaking door tells Darrek that the cabinet has been unlocked.
He’s already getting hard by the time Gabriel returns with the restraints. Chest rising and falling, eyes unfocused, body on display for his Master to do with what he likes, Darrek shivers pleasantly when Gabriel tells him, “Face down on the floor, slave. Hands behind your back. Knees bent.”
Two of four cuffs go on his wrists, binding them together. The other two wrap his ankles, effectively hogtieing him.
“Try to move.”
He does, but can’t do much with his arms bound behind him and his legs bent back as they are. Briefly, a soft, cold panic washes through him at being so immobilized, but then Gabriel’s hand moves over the skin of Darrek’s left arm, soothing. Telling himself to accept the position, to adjust to it and take comfort in Gabriel’s fierce care, slowly, Darrek calms again.
“Deep, even breaths,” Gabriel says in a pacifying, butter-smooth voice that instinctively sends a prickle of nervousness crawling up Darrek’s balls.
A chain is snapped onto the back of his collar, connecting it to the cuffs. There’s enough slack that he’s not going to choke himself, but he can feel it, the tension on the leather wrapping his neck.
“Good,” Gabriel praises, still with that unnerving tone. “Breathe. Inhale. Now. And out.”
Without any warning or prep, an object is inserted swiftly into his anus, making him gasp. Gabriel spreads his buttocks with a hand and presses it farther into him as Darrek grunts, his body struggling to adjust to the pressure and fullness.
“Breathe, slave,” Gabriel snaps.
Shuddering, Darrek feels the object widen dramatically, but Gabriel doesn’t ease up, he forces it inside Darrek’s ass. It continues to slide through his sphincter and he’s panting, crying out a little with each exhale. Then the object is fully seated in him. A moment later, Gabriel turns it on and it starts to vibrate.
“Oh fuck,” Darrek moans. His dick is guided to point back between his legs and Gabriel strokes it until Darrek is completely erect. His cock pushes at the tile floor, trying to rise, making Darrek want to lift his ass up and make room, but it’s not enough. It doesn’t help at all. Gabriel stands, knees popping.
“And now, I eat,” Gabriel sighs, going to the sink to wash up. “Smells delicious, by the way. Thank you.”
Unable to see a clock, Darrek has no way to gauge time. All he knows is the silence of the phone and the soft sounds of Gabriel’s fork moving against his plate as he eats his dinner and sips his wine.
Sierra begins to scratch at the back door, wanting to be let in. Body thrumming, covered in a light film of sweat, muscles straining in the bonds and his dick aching from being so hard for so long, Darrek can only groan as the dog is let in and immediately comes over to lick his face.
“She’s worried about you,” Gabriel says, watching.
“Sierra, go lay down!” Darrek says gruffly, grimacing against the wet drag of her tongue.
“C’mere, girl,” Gabriel says, taking her by the collar and leading her away.
“Did you lock the door?” Darrek asks when Gabriel returns. “Is the alarm on?”
“Speak only when spoken to, slave. Starting now. But yes, I did and yes, it is. Calm down.”
Another stretch of time passes as Gabriel finishes up. Unhurriedly, he clears the table, then washes his plate, silverware and wine glass in the sink, leaving Darrek to stew in his own juices for a while.
By the time Gabriel is unfastening the ankle cuffs, Darrek can’t move anything. The vibrator is still up his ass. The collar is still chained to his wrists. His legs and arms ache and his dick hasn’t lost any interest. It sticks up uncomfortably between his legs as Gabriel helps Darrek kneel, then stand.
“Walk. Take your time,” he says with a hand holding Darrek’s linked wrists.
They move through the kitchen to the hall beside the living room, then up the stairs to the second bedroom.
Gabriel leaves him standing in the middle of the room. It’s their personal playroom and makeshift dungeon. As Gabriel turns on lights and gets things ready, Darrek’s eyes scan the handcrafted sex furniture and cabinets stocked with every piece of toy, lubricant, whip, flogger, restraint, or miscellaneous gear imaginable.
“Get the whip. Hit me,” Darrek hisses.
Gabriel breathes out a humorless laugh. “Yeah, bet you’d like that, huh? Guess what, slave? You’re not in charge. We do this my way. You want punishment for disobeying my orders? Fine. I’ll punish you. But I want you to know who it is making you hurt. You know who I am? Who am I?”
“Master,” Darrek growls.
“Ask nicely,” Gabriel teases with a cold smile. “Beg me, bitch.”
“Please hurt me, Master. Please punish me for taking down the gun and holding it against your orders.” “Sit in the chair,” Gabriel sighs, pointing to it.
Dread tightens Darrek’s chest and makes him want to void his bladder. That’s good. It distracts him, brings him out of his head and into the moment. He walks to the indicated chair and sits. It’s no more than a narrow piece of wood under his ass, pressing the vibrator into his rectum uncomfortably. It also has a headrest, though, fixed to the wall. The headrest cups under his skull, holding his head in place and leaving a space for his arms behind him. Gabriel pulls a leather strap across his forehead and buckles it tightly, keeping his head perfectly still against the headrest.
Breathing harder, chest heaving with growing fright, Darrek watches his Master bind his legs in place, too. Straps go over each thigh, beneath each knee, over each ankle, binding them perfectly to the chair and keeping his legs spread. His balls hang, heavy and full between his legs and his cock sticks up, waiting. The prospect of imminent pain doesn’t wilt his erection at all.
When Gabriel fits a ball gag between Darrek’s teeth and straps that on too, his worry notches up. Biting down on the firm rubber, he practices his breathing exercises and tracks Gabriel as he moves around the dungeon.
Of course, Gabriel doesn’t even try to hide what he has selected. It’s something he’s threatened many times but never actually used on Darrek. Darrek has seen videos, though, of times Gabriel used it on other submissives when he worked as a Dominant, professionally, at Diadem.
Trembling uncontrollably, Darrek whimpers against the gag as Gabriel coats the sound with lube. A moment later, additional lube is swiped over the slit in Darrek’s cock, then worked inside with the pad of Gabriel’s finger.
“You… are really gonna hate this,” Gabriel says with a steady, determined sort of promise in his eyes. Darrek holds his gaze a little longer, understanding that Gabriel wants him angry and physically uncomfortable so that there’s no room left in his head for fear of what may be lurking outside the house or on the other end of the telephone line. And Darrek wants that too, enough to go willingly, eagerly along with whatever his Master has planned. They might not be in control of what’s been happening with the calls and the house alarm, but they have control of the scene and themselves. It’s a good thing to be reminded of.
The sound is seven inches long and 5/16 inch in diameter, trailing a black wire, which connects it to the power box. The thickness of it and the promise of not only being stuffed with the sound but also the imagined pain from the electric shock makes Darrek’s thighs quiver. He fights the restraints, but he’s in tightly. Grunting and whimpering against the gag, he stares helplessly as Gabriel brings the end of the sound to the tip of his dick, steadying the organ with a hand.
Blowing out hard through his nose, eyes rolling up as the dull, narrow end of the sound lowers into his opening, parting it, Darrek moans thickly. The trembling increases as the pain starts, the sound passing into his urethra a millimeter at a time. With a focused expression of concentration, Gabriel’s gaze is fixed to Darrek’s penis as he holds the metal rod and lets gravity pull it into the narrow opening. It burrows deeper and deeper into him.
Soon, Darrek is shouting. It’s muffled by the rubber ball and he pulls on his arms, making the collar tighten on his windpipe. He hates the feel of the sound pushing so far into his penis, but his legs are trapped. That damned chair immobilizes him completely.
Gabriel doesn’t rush. Slowly, steadily, diligently, he waits for Darrek’s member to take the rod. When it’s all the way in, Darrek is woozy with hurt, throbbing with his heartbeat, which radiates from his dick, through his groin and up into his gut, twisting it sickeningly with cramps that tense his body from thighs to midsection.
“How’s that feel, slave? You like that? Should I get a thicker one? Or maybe bring Trace over here for a replay of the first time we met? That’d be sweet, wouldn’t it? A trip down memory lane.”
He can’t answer. The breath tears from him. Sweat drips down his face, down his neck and chest. The leather bites into skin at all of the places where Darrek is pulling at the straps.
Gabriel squeezes up and down his slave’s stuffed cock a few times, causing Darrek to whine pleading sounds, interspersed with hard grunts and growls. He wishes Gabriel had taken the damned vibrator out before doing this, because it’s keeping him hard, forcing him to find the pleasure in the pain.
Then Gabriel lets go and turns on the sound.
A shrill, abrupt scream wrenches from Darrek’s chest. His whole body tightens from the electric surge coursing up through the inside of his penis and directly into his lower abdomen. Every muscle tenses. His body locks up, making the cords of his neck stand out as he bites down hard on the gag. His face grows hot, turning red, his body straining, straining as hard as it can against the onslaught.
“Breathe, baby,” Gabriel hushes. “Learn to like it or I put some pads on your balls too, and I have a few different plugs for your ass I can hook up to this little box. This is nothing. This is easy.”
Darrek exhales sharply, then sucks another breath.
“No, better than that. Breathe or I make it worse.”
The dial turns as the charge increases. Darrek chokes off a desperate sound and begins taking shallow, shaking, uneven breaths.
“Steady ’em out. Now.”
Growling, biting hard on the gag, eyes rolled up in his head, he manages to take a few, even, deeper breaths and still the surge barrages his body.
Gabriel turns the electricity off.
Darrek goes limp in the bonds, sagging, gasping for air. As Gabriel goes back to stroking him, watching his hand move on the reddened column, filled obscenely with silver, Darrek can’t deny how good it feels.
Gabriel loosens the gag and pulls it from Darrek’s lips to hang around his throat instead.
“Tell me you love it, bitch.”
“I love it,” Darrek gasps.
Gabriel has let go again and turned on the charge. Gritting his teeth, snarling against the pain, Darrek fights back against it, blowing breaths through his lips.
“Good, baby,” Gabriel praises. “Look at you. Gorgeous. Just a little more, okay?”
The surge gets stronger.
“Can’t,” Darrek manages, face hot and red, his whole body burning as he bears down, his hands in fists.
“You want to say the safeword?”
Gabriel turns the dial down.
Darrek growls, blowing another breath out, shakily.
“Hurts,” he whimpers.
“Nope. That’s not it,” Gabriel tsks, turning the dial backup. Darrek screams.
The pain consumes him, incinerating every thought, every care and worry. Nothing matters but the lightning bolts frying his aching cock from the inside out. By the time Gabriel shuts off the power and begins to pull the sound out, Darrek is fairly delirious, without much fight left in him at all.
With a throaty cry, he watches as all seven inches of the sound are pulled very slowly out of his urethra, leaving the opening stretched wider. Immediately, Gabriel lowers his mouth onto Darrek’s cock, sucking it as Darrek bears down again with a gruff protest of, “Please don’t.Please,” because he knows Gabriel has no intention of giving him permission to orgasm. It’s just more torture, but this time in the form of pleasure rather than pain.
Ignoring him, Gabriel takes a few long pulls. His mouth comes off with a wet pop and his hand works the shaft as he glances up at Darrek.
“You know what I want, right?” Gabriel asks quietly.
Jaw clenched, staring up at the ceiling, Darrek nods.
The restraints all come off. He’s aching everywhere, head to toe, but shuffles into the other bedroom. Laying down on the edge of the bed, Darrek draws his legs up, holding the knees and presenting his ass.
“Please fuck me, Master,” Darrek asks with a wavering voice.
Without ceremony, Gabriel steps up to him and tugs the vibrator out. With his cock in hand, Gabriel enters Darrek in one smooth thrust. The sex is rough and Gabriel stays deeply inside him. Gabriel has an angry expression on his face as they fuck and Darrek bears it, lying as quietly as he can while Gabriel takes him as hard and fast as he wants.
He hears Gabriel’s soft cry as he comes. It makes Darrek’s stomach swoop happily, painting the whole scene with bittersweet emotion and a profound, inexpressibly devoted love.
Vision blurring, eyes burning again, Darrek feels Gabriel pull out. Then Gabriel undresses completely and climbs onto the bed, lying on his stomach with his legs spread wide.
It’s become part of their routine, an established give and take that helps them balance the new rules defining the boundaries of their relationship. Gabriel lets Darrek know when he needs physical comfort of his own. They know it’s not safe for Gabriel to submit to Darrek, and Darrek isn’t even sure if Gabriel would want that anymore. But it’s a given that Gabriel can’t always be in control. Sometimes it’s not enough to be Master, and Gabriel just needs to feel loved and less alone in quieter ways, once he’s confident that Darrek’s needs have been met first. After every scene ends, and the Master and slave roles fall away, they become, simply, lovers again. And Darrek loves Gabriel so that he’s less afraid, too.
“Thank you for that,” Darrek murmurs. “I feel better now.”
“Good. I’ll reheat some food for you after we shower, okay? But first…”
“Yeah,” Darrek smiles. “I know.”
Darrek shifts, rolling onto his knees and crawls over to him, settling between Gabriel’s legs. Slipping a hand under Gabriel’s hips, Darrek draws them up at an angle and aligns himself to Gabriel’s opening. Darrek’s cock is wet with saliva and lube, but Gabriel isn’t prepped, so he goes slowly, adding a little pressure and giving Gabriel’s slim, smaller body a chance to adjust and accept him.
With a low, broken moan that puts steel in Darrek’s cock, the head breaches Gabriel, nestling in his body. His hand flattened on Gabriel’s pelvis, lips peppering kisses over his neck, shoulder and head, Darrek works his way into Gabriel with gentle pushes. Once they’re fully joined, Darrek guides Gabriel’s hands up over his head, holding the wrists together there as he caresses down the side of his lithe body. Gabriel quivers and gasps.
“Love you, Gabe,” Darrek whispers.
Gabriel presses down onto him, back arching slightly, skin pebbling with goosebumps as Darrek’s grip on his wrists tightens.
With a blissful gasp, Gabriel begs, “More.”
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