Heard you made an appearance at Toolshed.
Fuck. I should’ve known Aro would find out. Tried to fly under the radar.
HA! You might as well take out an ad on the front page of the Times.
No disrespect intended. FUCK!
I’m just busting your chops, Andrews! I found your freak.
My cell phone just became a live grenade. Do I have the guts to pull the pin? What’s his deal?
Dude gets around. Pushes the envelope but knows just when to back off so he doesn’t get kicked out.
Not real popular with the owners?
To say the least.
How do you want to handle this?
The more I learn the more I hate the fucking guy!
I’ll follow your lead on this.
I need to think about what’s best for Dane.
Of course. As you should.
I’ll keep my eye on him.
Don’t want the fucker slipping through our fingers.
Does he have a sub right now? I can hardly bear the idea that someone else is suffering at this bastard’s hands.
Seems to have his favorites at each club. No collars.
Do what you can to keep them safe?
I’ll do my best.
We shouldn’t wait too long to act.
We shouldn’t wait too long to act.
The train ride out to the suburbs does little to calm my nerves. This guy needs to go down hard and fast, but I absolutely won’t jeopardize Dane’s wellbeing.
I’m a tactical planner; it’s what I do. Like a chess player mapping out each move and likely counterstrike, I visualize one scenario after the next and watch each play out before my eyes, assessing the damage to both sides.
I could take care of everything without Dane’s knowledge. Sure, because that worked so well with Sean. Yeah, I basically promised him just this morning I wouldn’t do that. Besides, how would it help Dane move forward if he never knew? I’d still have to tell him afterward, but I’d be taking away his victory and sending the message I didn’t think he was strong enough.
And is he?
He gets better every day, I argue. More laughter, more twinkle, and how about that singing today?
And you’re an expert now?
No, dammit. He’s going to see the therapist, and I’m going to keep watching for triggers, and we are going to get through this thing together.
I find my car in the long-term lot and ease behind the wheel. Three times I have to remind myself to watch the road. Excellent, Marcus, why not get yourself killed? That would solve all the problems.
Okay then, if the alternative is to include Dane, it has to be on our terms: when Dane is ready, in a place where he can feel totally safe. I’ll be right there, of course, but so will the Waynehole, and he’ll try to work his awful mind games on Dane. I can only imagine the lengths the jerk will go to when he sees how glorious Dane is now, how he’ll want to break him all over again and use him for his own sick purposes.
Now that Wayne is real, I can’t seem to get him out of my head. I storm through the garage into my house, shedding my shirt as I cross the living room floor. The adrenaline is coursing through my body as I take the cellar stairs in galloping pairs. By the time I push through the dungeon door, my whole body is pulsating with tension.
After hanging the eighty-pound punching bag from the ceiling hook in the center of the room, I pull down the bull whip from the wall. It’s not much of a stretch to picture the sonofabitch as the thick, dense bag I thrash at with a growing vigor that feeds on my hatred.
For taking away Dane’s beautiful voice.
For depriving him of his joy.
For making Dane put his faith in such an unworthy ass.
For humiliating him, bullying him, and abandoning him.
And worst of all, for making Dane lose himself.
All the venomous deeds and words I’ve had to choke down in Dane’s presence now flood my system. My entire being is steeped in loathing, vengeful thoughts. With each strike, my body expels poison.
My right arm protests after I don’t know how many strokes, and I drop the whip and collapse to the floor in a lump of spent muscle, sweat, and release. I’m exorcised and exhausted, but I will never purge it all—not until we actually do something to shut down the monster.
The hot shower helps a little, especially when my thoughts return to Dane singing “Ol’ Man River” this morning.
Dane. Singing Dane. Happy Dane. Happy me.
God, I need to do right by him.
One thing at a time, Marcus. Waynehole can wait, especially with Aro’s watchful eye on him. My priority is keeping Dane on a forward-moving path.
And how might Master do that? Pick a scene, any scene . . . he said he could handle a more intense bondage scene. Hmm, maybe I’ll work him over with rope tonight, see if I can tie him down a little tighter this time.
Unlike the Fillmore, this shower does have a hot water time limit, and I’ve just about exceeded it. My own Turkish combed cotton towels feel even more luxurious after settling for hotel grade for a week, and the heated floor tiles are an added extravagance my feet appreciate anew. Yes, I’ve spoiled myself silly, but now I burn to share the wealth with Dane. The hotel isn’t home, by any means, and soon I’ll miss having the dungeon, too—now that Dane’s more game—but together is together is together. For now, I’ll settle for bringing the comforts of home—and certain hand-picked discomforts of the dungeon—to the hotel.
Sliding hangers across the closet rack, I search for my more casual clothes. I should probably let Riley update my look as well, I muse. Oh yes, with Dane and Sean looking on and having a grand old belly laugh. Pffft, I don’t think so, though the concept of Riley as a personal shopper does intrigue.
Ah, here’s an old friend—a dark heather Armani pullover that looked good on me once upon a time. Let’s see now . . . I tug the thing over my head and take a gander in the mirror. A little quarter turn to check out the profile, and . . . well, what do you know? I don’t look half bad!
Leaning into the bureau mirror, I study my face. Hey, I actually look good! Lifting my shirt, I take a cautious look at my stomach. There’s a little definition that wasn’t visible last time I checked and maybe a wee bit less love in the love handles? Maybe.
Encouraged, I dig deep into drawers where long-forgotten clothes died a quiet death. Maybe some shouldn’t be resurrected—okay, even I know styles have changed—but the ones that ended up shoved to the back because they were a little tight around the middle, I’m giving those another go.
With a pile of new old stuff (and a pile to drop at Goodwill) and a resolve to update my wardrobe, I’m dressed and packed—from the upstairs. My return trip to the dungeon is a slower journey, a flight of imagination and hopeful projections about where we might be after another week’s time. Not that I can’t come back out to the suburbs to restock, but being prepared is always better.
Much like the contents of my clothing closet and drawers, there are implements and toys in my dungeon that haven’t quite “fit” up ‘til now. With a fresh eye and a bit of optimism, I can see us trying out clamps and ropes and cock rings and . . . do I dare grab a crop? Hell, why not? It doesn’t cost extra.
Except it’ll be burning a hole in your duffel until you bring it out to play.
My little spin around the dungeon leaves me hard and wanting, but I’m a big boy. I can holster that need until I’m with Dane. I think I’ll work him a little bit harder tonight to make up for our long day apart. With a jangling bag of new tricks and a suitcase packed with fresh clothes, I’m out the door again and on my way back to Dane.
It wasn't Waynehole, but at least Marcus was able to punch out some of his aggression. And BAM! Aro's got the jackass in his sights! How about that gray Armani pullover? Hard and wanting, are you, Marcus? Nom nom nom. xxx