“I’m ready to get back out there.”
“Not yet, Dane. Edward and Aro need a solid fifteen minutes to finish the binding and suspension.”
Dane is hopping from side to side like a prizefighter before a big bout: rolling his shoulders, cracking his neck, darting his eyes around the room as if hunting for an escape route. And shame on me, my mind should be elsewhere, but goddamn, Dane looks hot in his “apprentice” apparel—snug black pants over heavy black combat boots, and of course, the designer T-shirt in my favorite shade, Dane-ish blue.
“Riley did a great job on your outfit.” I step into his body, knocking knees and bumping thighs. Dane instantly stills as his Master brushes a thumb along the collar. “The v-neck was a great touch. It doesn’t just look great on you; it really makes your collar stand out—or what is it they say, makes it ‘pop’?”
MINE, MINE, MINE. Yeah, I am so leaving the collar on him.
Dane’s Adam’s apple bobs as he takes a heavy swallow. “Thank you, Master.”
“Now that I have your attention . . .” We both smile at the ludicrous thought I’d ever not have his full attention.
Those lips need to be kissed—and now. Dane’s eyelids droop shut as I close in over his mouth. The kiss is life-affirming, but it wasn’t really why I needed his attention, and I pull back ever-so-reluctantly, my hands skimming down his arms and coming to a stop around his wrists.
“You’re not sore anywhere, are you?”
He delivers a “Nope” with a little grin.
Twinkle, twinkle, little sass. You go right ahead with that, Dane. Nothing could please me more right now.
Just in case I hadn’t noticed his enthusiasm, he adds, “I’m all warmed up and stretched out and ready for action.”
“I know, Dane. You’re like a giant, human spring, all coiled up and about to explode. I’m almost afraid to see what happens when I open that door.”
“I can manage it. Promise.”
“Of course you can. You do it every night, don’t you?”
He nods, and there’s a glimmer of contentment shining through when he answers because he knows I appreciate exactly who he is. “I do.”
“Mmhmm, and what about this, Dane?” I ask, rubbing my groin against the erection I felt earlier. “Is this ready for action, too?”
“Sorry, Master. I can’t help myself around you.”
“That’s not a problem for me.” To illustrate my okayness with the situation, I grab his hips with both hands and yank him against me.
Dane stops breathing. His eyes are riveted to mine.
What are you up to, boy?
This time, in slow motion, with the precision of a nuclear physicist, I grasp Dane’s hips and tug him to my body in short, experimental bursts. He knows better than to resist, now that I’m hot on the trail.
Pop! Pop! SQUEAK!
Locked together in pre-tango position, I close in again . . . right there. SQUEEEEEAK!
“Hmm, and here I thought you were happy to see me.”
“I was . . . I am. Okay, I was saving this for out there . . .” Dane reaches into his front pocket, retracts a small plastic Tweety Bird, and gives the thing a squeeze. SQUEAK!
“You don’t mind, do you?”
“Mind? It’s brilliant! When did you get that?”
“I stopped by the Disney store yesterday afternoon.”
“No. He wouldn’t have understood the reference.”
“Okay, I wasn’t sure how much you’ve told him.”
“I haven’t told anyone that . . . until you.”
I can’t help the happy dance taking place inside me. “Well then, I have just one question for you.”
“Should we break the squeaker before you give it to him?”
Dane’s grin spreads into a slow smile. “Oh, Master, you bad, old puddy-tat!”
“I’m gonna let that ‘old’ comment slide because this is just way too much fun.”
“Thank you, Master. I appreciate that.” He pushes the toy back into his pocket, one more demon sent packing.
Which still leaves one crucial question unanswered.
And this is not the time to ask.
Not asking doesn’t make the issue go away; it just straps an oxygen tank to the problem so it can dive deeper.
I suppose . . .
He sees the question in your eyes. Just ask him.
“Listen, Dane, you don’t have to answer if this isn’t comfortable.”
Dane stiffens, the boxer preparing to take a blow to the midsection. “Okay?”
Out with it already. This is cruel.
“How’s your heart doing?”
“Oh, that.” Dane looks over my shoulder before answering, and for those terrifying seconds, I imagine the worst—he’s looking for the words to tell me he still has feelings for the man strung up on the other side of the door. Or worse—he won’t be able to tell me at all.
I am a fool. This self-inflicted torture was unnecessary and possibly even dangerous. I should have waited.
This time of Dane-waiting is the worst yet, and his response—when it finally comes—doesn’t quell the tornado spinning in my gut.
“Am I a horrible person?”
“No, Dane. Of course not.”
“I just . . . don’t . . .” He shakes his head as his chin sinks toward his chest, a windup toy losing its juice.
I pull Dane against my body and wrap my arms around his back, a gesture he doesn’t return. “It’s okay, Dane. I promise; it’s okay.”
Dear God, please let it be okay.
He presses his mouth against my shoulder, and his words form moist clouds on my shirt. “I don’t feel . . . anything . . . for him. Nothing.”Thank you, God. “No attraction, no affection, zero desire to please him. I don’t even hate him . . . it’s all just gone. That’s wrong, isn’t it?”
“No, not wrong, no, sweet boy.” I can’t hold him tightly enough. My arms glide up Dane’s back, one finding a home around his shoulders, the other pulling his face into the bend of my arm. I burrow my face into his hair, breathing him in and kissing random spots of scalp. Tears leak into Dane’s hair as waves of relief threaten to knock me right off my feet.
“This is what healing feels like, Dane. Don’t you see? You’re over him. He can’t hurt you anymore. He has no power over you. You’ve taken it away.”
“You have it now, Master.”
“Only because you choose to gift me with it every day. It’s not mine to take. I think you know that now.”
We rock together without words until Dane clears his throat and pulls back. “Sorry I soaked your shirt with my spew.”
“It’s a noun now?” I chuckle as I look down at my chest. It is indeed soaked.
“Maybe you should just take it off.” Mr. Coy.
He’s wiping his eyes furiously with his hands, but there’s a Dane-grin underneath that warms my heart. Oh, what the hell. I reach for the hem of my shirt, and Dane smiles his I-knew-I-would-win smile at me, which of course makes me smile right back as I tug the black cotton over my head.
“You know, Dane, sometimes I think you take advantage . . .” I toss him the shirt so he can mop his face, “. . . of a situation.”
Even with my shirt covering most of his face, crinkles peek out the sides of his cheeks. “Sorry, Master,” he says in the most halfhearted apology ever.
I tug the shirt out of his hands, revealing one big, fat, happy grin. Dane’s tongue slides to the corner of his cheek in an attempt to erase the evidence. Folding my arms across my chest, I go for something stern-ish, but it’s really no use. The best I can do is to threaten him.
“We’ll discuss this later,” I promise, only making him smile even wider.
But then, I see it: that twist at the very end, that subtle little shift from I’ve-got-you-wrapped-around-my-little-finger to Master-won’t-you-please-spank-me. Dane serves it up so beautifully by striking that perfect submissive pose for me and dipping his eyes just the slightest bit below the horizon. To top it all off, there’s a definite rasp in his voice when he answers me.
“I look forward to it, Master.”
And I’m cooked. Just in time to head back out.
“Ready to do this thing, Dane?”
He breaks his pose to reach around front and adjust himself. Yeah, gonna need to buy Riley a little something special for finding those pants.
“Let me remind you once again, we are not in scene. My collar is there to protect you, not to constrict you.”
“Isn’t it always, Master?”
“True, but . . .” Yeah, remarkable. “You’re right, of course, Dane.”
Tongue-tied, I reach for the door knob, only to be halted by Dane’s hand clutching my wrist and the deepest, brownest eyes searching mine.
“I get your meaning. Thank you.”
“’Welcome. Now, how about we get out of here before we miss the whole damn show?” I take Dane’s hand, and we walk out together to the cheers of the crowd.
“That’s for you, Dane. They’re applauding your courage.”
He squeezes my hand and leans in. “Actually, Master, I think it’s because you took your shirt off.”
“Don’t make me blush, Dane. It won’t bode well for you later.”
The boy simply chuckles. “Okay, Master.”
Alas, we’re not entirely surrounded by friends. At center stage, a body jerks and twists in a fruitless struggle. Whatever has happened in our absence has cued Wayne into the fact that this may not be the fantasy he was envisioning when he “volunteered.”
The dungeon feels darker; a definite mood shift has occurred—and not just with the twitching body on stage. Musky sex-den has given way to blood-thirsty Colosseum. With Aro as emperor, I suppose I must be Spartacus. The sorry excuse of a man under the spotlight is no gladiator worthy of sharing the arena with anyone present.
Edward and Aro have performed their job well, replicating Dane’s position with a couple of kinky twists: the aforementioned backward-slung cock and a strategically-placed spreader bar for that added essence of you-are-my-bitch. Meanwhile, the far more dangerous end—that which forms hurtful words—is effectively muzzled by a giant rubber ball gag. Wayne’s vision is unimpeded; we want him to see and hear every detail, and if luck holds, he’ll remember it vividly for a long time to come.
From my vantage point, the details of knots and flesh fade into the strong geometry of the upside-down “v” over the concave arch of Wayne’s body. The familiar shape nags at my subconscious . . . what is that?
Of course! One of Lady Justice’s scales has broken free and traveled to this very dungeon! Wayne hanging from the scale of justice? The irony!
Oh, Wayne, you poor, sick fuck! With Dane on the other side of the scales, you don’t have a prayer when the sentence is delivered.
I’ve tied up no fewer than a hundred men in my day, so the sight of this naked, bound body holds very little shock value for me. Biology and physics joining forces—nothing more, nothing less. While the sexual urges can approach downright evil, the physics are ever improving to keep pace, with angles and materials, weights and teeth. Wayne has been effectively neutralized, and that’s all I care about.
His physique is not remarkable in any way; I can’t even say my revulsion has anything to do with his puffy rings of flesh or the wiry gray hairs angrily broadcasting the man’s apparent disdain for the trimmer. I’ve obviously seen far better, and I’ve just as cheerfully worked with worse. My disgust is entirely based on what I know about Wayne as a person, but the bile pooling in my throat is no less potent for it.
“Wow.” Dane’s calm, even voice commands my attention. I turn my head to find him staring, slack-jawed, at his former faux-dom. Dane’s boots seem pulled by some irresistible force toward the suspended body; still holding his hand, I’m pulled along.
Catching the look on Dane’s face, Edward’s gaze immediately shifts to mine.
He’s okay, I answer with a nod. Continue.
He’s okay, I answer with a nod. Continue.
Leave it to Aro to move things forward in the most indelicate fashion. Flashing that terrifyingly gleeful smile in our direction, he belts out, “Gentlemen, welcome to the Waynie roast!”
Wayne jerks in his harness and grunts out a muffled appeal, but he can’t quite turn his head enough to see us.
To see Dane.
He’s already gotten more of my boy than he deserves, and it burns me to give him anything further, but it’s all part of the deal. Letting him see—one last time—what he lost. Letting Dane remember the man this way, stripped of his dignity and any last ounce of power Wayne might still hold over him.
Welcome to the Waynie roast!
It seems that every story has its oh-shit moment, where I'm both terrified and thrilled to share my words with my readers. As many of you know, this chapter and the next were two of the most challenging I've written for any story. If you've come this far in the story, you probably have some definite opinions about what should and should not happen next, and I'm fortunate to have heard many of those opinions both here and in private chats. Thank you for caring so much about these characters and for supporting my writing. Thank you also for trusting me to tell my story.
As always, I do love hearing how the story moves you- even if it's not all rainbows and roses. Your honesty makes me a better writer. xo ~b