Lovers with Open Minds, Friends with Benefits

Posts tagged ‘Anthony’

Chapter 300 – No Place Like It

Anthony sat in the front room waiting for Sasha to get home from work and Jerrett to return from his errands. At any other time in his life he would have been pacing, but the leg still bothered him and he’d already paced himself out. Instead he stared morosely at the beautiful polished wood cane Sasha had given him, twirling it in his hands, watching the brass top wink in the sunlight.

It was time to go home. He tired easily still but got around all right. He could drive short distances, get up and down steps if he had the cane, and really no longer needed someone to look after him. The return to his independent, unimpeded life should have made him happy. So why am I sitting here feeling like my dog just died?

Didn’t matter. He’d been a burden on Jerrett and Sasha too long, on their time and their privacy. As soon as Jerrett came home. Yep, that’s when he was going to say he was going home. And smile when he did it, dammit.

Jerrett got home first and he seemed to be in a good mood. He kissed Anthony hello and asked about his day, apparently oblivious to Anthony’s forced cheer and fidgety discomfort.

Finally, Anthony took a breath and said, “Sir, I need to talk to you about something.”

Jerrett usually granted his attention when he was asked for it, but this time he held up a hand. “All right, but I have something I’d like to discuss first.” He watched those owlish eyes blink in surprise. Anthony was fun to sidetrack; it was so easy. “Anthony, I know you don’t always like a submissive role, but…I want you to be mine, like Sasha is mine.”

“Oh.” Anthony’s legs gave way and he sat back down on the couch with a thud. He blinked, feeling stupid, trying to get his brain to change gears. “Um…I…that is, are you sure, sir?” Once started, his mouth took off before his brain could turn the corner. “I mean, I do love you so and it’s not like I wouldn’t kneel at your feet. When I can kneel again, that is. And if there was anybody, well, it would be you. But I’m kind of, you know, a handful. When I’m better. And bouncing around. Annoying, even, I know. Though I know I’m a mess and it would be better if I had someone to keep me in line, take charge, rein me in. But are you sure you want that to be you?”

Part of him couldn’t believe he was saying all this when Jerrett wanted a simple yes or no. Defensive, perhaps, because no one in their right mind would truly want him. Not like that. “Sir?”

Jerrett waited patiently for him to run out of words. “Well, since you put it that way I guess I should change my mind. After all, I am so very fickle that I would ask such a thing and then recant after serious consideration thirty seconds later,” Jerrett said dryly. He waited until Anthony’s eyes got large again and a small smile tugged at Jerrett’s lips. “Would you be mine, Anthony? Or shall I continue asking until you answer yes or no?”

Anthony ruffled both hands back through his hair, his hands shaking. “I’m sorry, dammit, sorry. I just, see, my train of thought got all derailed, completely off the tracks – whoosh! Straight down into the gorge. Here I was waiting for you with this speech all set about how it’s time for me to go home and I’ve been imposing on you too long and I was gonna pack my stuff up and say thank you, thank you, I don’t know what I would’ve done without you and all that and–”

He cut off and swallowed hard when Jerrett’s fingers drummed once on his forearm. The twitch of the panther’s tail – he recognized it by now. A huge lump in his throat, a hundred things warring in his hyperactive brain, he looked into those sharp, dark eyes.

“Yes.”

“Yes what?”

Anthony forced the breath in and out of his lungs. He felt more than halfway to tears and a complete nervous collapse and he wasn’t even sure why. He wasn’t afraid of Jerrett anymore, afraid of his displeasure, maybe, afraid of not living up to expectations. It wasn’t that the idea upset him or that it wasn’t what he wanted. But it was all so unexpected and…unreal.

“Yes, I want to be yours,” he whispered. The cane rattled against the floor and he realized he was shaking. He put it down. “I want to give myself to you.”

Jerrett sat and pulled Anthony over into his lap carefully, mindful of his leg despite remarkable progress in healing. He took his chin gently between his fingers and kissed his lips very softly. “I want you to be mine or I would not have asked you, Anthony, and I’m glad you said yes,” he said on a warm purr, and nuzzled at the side of his jaw just under his ear.

A little shiver ran up Anthony’s arms. “Thank you, sir,” he murmured as those strong arms wrapped around him. Despite the confusion and the sudden feeling he no longer understood the universe in any useful way, Jerrett’s touch still caused a rush of heat to his middle.

He traced a finger over Jerrett’s ear and slid his arms around his neck when Jerrett began to nibble at his throat. Bravado and bluster, that’s all he truly was. Inside he was still the skinny, anxious little boy whose father had walked out without a backward glance, whose teachers claimed he had a learning disability because he could not concentrate on the boring, pointless things they wanted him to do, whose mother had despaired that he would never survive his childhood between his nervous stomach and his night terrors.

Any second now, that little boy whispered to him, Jerrett will tell you it’s all a big joke.

He realized he’d escalated from a gentle embrace to clinging desperately.

“Sorry…sorry…” he murmured, easing up before he cut off Jerrett’s air. “I guess…there’s still the other thing…”

A smile, yes, he managed one. Good. Better. “About whether I should go home?”

“I’ll tell you the same thing I told Sasha. You can keep your place if you want to, go there if you need to, but I like having you here and you can move in and treat this as your home if you want, too,” Jerrett said, then he suddenly set Anthony aside. “There is one more thing.” He rose and went into the hall where he’d left a small shopping bag. He returned and sat back down, pulled a box from the bag and handed it to Anthony. “This is for you.”

With a quick glance up at Jerrett’s face and then down at the velvet box, Anthony took it in both hands and eased it open, his bottom lip caught between his teeth. “Hells shiny, pointy gates…” he breathed out in stunned amazement.

Inside the box was a custom-made collar. The two-inch wide neckband was made of tiny circles of silver woven into a fine mesh resembling chainmail. At the very center of the front of the collar the mesh pattern opened in a circle about the size of a quarter and from the top hung a diamond pendant set in platinum that looked to be enough karats that any socialite debutant would have wet themselves had it been presented to them on a ring.

“Oh, sir…it’s…dear gods…” The backs of his eyes stung and he felt completely ridiculous but so full of joy as well, as if someone had poured a pitcher of light into his body. “Thank you. Would you…did you…want to put it on?”

“Well, I don’t think it will fit me…” Jerrett said, and the expression on Anthony’s face made him laugh. “I’m sorry hon, I don’t mean to tease.” He lifted the collar from the box and put it around Anthony’s neck, fastening it in the back. He had to smile; the design suited him well.

One long-fingered hand crept up to Anthony’s throat. The collar fit so perfectly it melded with him, as if it had always been there. “It’s so beautiful, sir. Puts me to shame,” he said on a shaky grin. “And all the girls at the Faire will be so jealous. Some of the boys, too.”

He squared his shoulders as a more determined look joined the glistening in his eyes. “I’ll try my best for you, sir, not to embarrass you or aggravate you too much. I mean, you will have breaks from me, at least, when I’m back on my feet. Out of the house from dawn to dark most of the Faire season. I travel a lot during the Winter and stuff, to the studios for documentary work and playing weapons coach to pampered actors who don’t know which end of a sword to hold. But I’m a good cook, though, sure, my food’s a lot spicier than Sasha’s, which is good for a little variety, and–”

He cut off abruptly, leaned forward to take Jerrett’s face between his hands, and seized his lips in a fierce, heated kiss.

“Isn’t it supposed to be me who cuts you off with a kiss?” Jerrett said playfully when they broke for a moment, then he returned the kiss with melting heat, wrapping his arms around Anthony and pressing him back against the sofa.

“Thought I’d save you the trouble,” Anthony whispered when Jerrett let him up for air. He wished he could be well and strong again, right that second, images of Jerrett flipping him over and taking him hard ricocheting around in his brain in the most distracting ways.

Jerrett was thinking along the same lines, but he was still gentle with Anthony, still careful as he undressed him and picked him up to carry into the bedroom. He left the door open and a trail of clothing behind. He spread Anthony out on the bed and sank down next to him, claiming his mouth again and caressing over his body in a sensual assault meant to inflame, without bringing either of them too close to the edge. He could keep this pace up for hours, and he sometimes did, driving Sasha or Anthony or both to distraction. Tonight his intent was only to keep the flame on simmer until Sasha got home.

Humming to himself, Sasha arrived a little after four, work done for the day and shopping complete. He came in through the garage, put the groceries away, and only then began to wonder why no one had come to say hello.

He peeked out into the living room and spotted the box on the sofa. “Oh, he did it!” His excitement turned to laughter when he saw Anthony’s shirt draped over the arm of the sofa, then his shoes a little farther towards the door, then Jerrett’s shirt draped over the banister.

The trail led, as he knew it would, to the bedroom, where his two gorgeous men were already locked in each other’s embrace. “I’m home,” he said with a soft smile.

Jerrett lifted his eyes to Sasha, their dark depths lit with inner fire. His lips released the nipple he was nibbling on long enough to say, “Welcome home, sweetheart. Why don’t you take your clothes off and come up here. I’ve held off for about an hour now and if one of us doesn’t get inside that beautiful body of yours soon I think we will both expire.”

Sasha wriggled out of his t-shirt and jeans in record time, took two running steps and did a swan dive onto the bed. He gave Jerrett a tender, lingering kiss and then broke off to take in Anthony’s new accessory.

“Oh, hon, it’s incredible. It’s so perfect.” Sasha ran a gentle finger over the silver links and rolled to his stomach to give Anthony a kiss as well, giving Jerrett a perfect view of his ass.

Jerrett couldn’t resist giving those pert upturned cheeks a swat, bringing his hand down with a crack somewhere between playful and painful.

Sasha let out a little gasp and then moaned as the sting settled into spreading warmth. He lifted his butt in invitation while he licked at Anthony’s jaw.

Jerrett smacked him again, just to see him squirm, and caressed his hand over those smooth cheeks. His fingers teased along the crease and slid between his legs to fondle his balls and rapidly expanding erection then back up to knead the firm mounds of his ass again. “Such a beautiful little ass you have, sweetheart.” He breathed over Sasha’s ear and kissed the back of his neck. His finger had slid between his cheeks and pressed, lightly teasing, at his tight little hole. “I can never decide if I want to spank it, eat it, or fuck it.”

A little shiver of delight skittered up Sasha’s back and he smiled as he rolled his hips in invitation. “Why choose, sir, when you can have everything your want?”

Jerrett’s warm chuckle was a vibration at the base of Sasha’s skull where his lips pressed. “Why indeed,” he agreed. He withdrew his finger though, and patted Sasha’s butt. “We are celebrating something special though. Would you like to show Anthony how happy you are he’s agreed to join our household?”

“Oh, yes, sir.” Sasha threw his arms around Anthony’s neck and hugged him tight. “I’m so glad you said yes.”

“Me, too, sweetie,” Anthony said with a soft smile. “You don’t even know.”

Sasha kissed his nose and turned back to Jerrett with a little twinkle in his eyes. “And what would you like, sir?”

Jerrett ran a hand over both sleek bodies before him as if contemplating a lunch selection. What shall it be? Ham on rye? Ruben? Roast beef?

He finally shifted around, moving to Anthony’s other side and putting him in the middle. He reached for a bottle of oil and spooned up to Anthony’s backside. Reaching over him, he tipped the bottle and let a drizzle of the oil spill over the crack of Sasha’s backside. “Why don’t you work that in, get him nice and slippery for you.” Jerrett purred under Anthony’s ear.

“Yessir,” Anthony replied with a serious nod. He slid his hand down Sasha’s back, kneading the muscles along the way, and then slid his fingers into the crack between those beautiful globes, teasing at the entrance. With a soft moan, he slipped one finger inside.

Sasha wriggled and pushed back against the gentle intrusion, lips parted in desire. “How do you feel, hon?” he whispered into Anthony’s chest.

“Capsized,” Anthony said on a grin. “Completely swamped and overturned.”

Jerrett nipped lightly at the back of Anthony’s neck and his oil slick fingers teased between Anthony’s cheeks. He had already spent a considerable amount of time warming them both up before Sasha joined them, and he was less than exceedingly patient now. First one, and then two fingers slid inside his tight, warm channel, moving them in and out and twisting them around to loosen him up.

Anthony’s cock twitched and his eyes crossed. Hard to concentrate on anything with that going on behind him and inside him. He bit down on his bottom lip, the slight pain helping him focus, and took a firm hold of Sasha’s erection while he added another finger and then another to his plundering of Sasha’s entrance.

He knew their little Sasha well. A decisive, resolute assault would edge him up much faster than a gentle approach. As if to prove him right, Sasha moaned and arched, his beautiful body going through undulations as graceful as any willow as he silently begged for more.

Watching Sasha squirming and Anthony trying to simultaneously hurry and hold himself in check was getting Jerrett really hot. He wanted them both right now, at the same time, his beautiful lovers. Anthony’s healing leg prevented him from being as aggressive with him as he might have been, and each time he had to remind himself to be careful and rein himself in added to the growing backlog of passion that brewed under the surface like a fine wine waiting to be aged just perfectly. He could almost feel sorry for when Anthony was finally completely healed and pain free. He was going to have to be wary of sudden attacks from pouncing panthers.

The thought made him smile, his lips curving and tickling where he nuzzled behind Anthony’s ear. Withdrawing his fingers from him, he pressed the head of his very erect cock at his entrance and pushed, he teeth sinking lightly into the muscle of his shoulder as he groaned heavily at the pleasure squeezing him.

“Oh…sweet, holy…” Anthony panted as that thick member penetrated him. Always took a moment to accommodate Jerrett, though the feeling of being stretched like that was incredible. He put a finger under Sasha’s chin to lift his face. “Turn around for me, sweet thistle pie.”

Jerrett pushed in a little farther, not rushing but insistent, and Anthony knew he’d better keep up. He let out a desperate moan when Sasha pressed his butt up against his cock and Jerrett pulled out and thrust in harder at the same moment. He could die from an overdose of pleasure, he was sure of it.

With a shift and Sasha’s able assistance, he lined himself up and gasped hard as the head of his aching erection popped past Sasha’s heavenly tight ring.

Jerrett slid his hand down the back of Anthony’s thigh and lifted his leg. He knew exactly what would hurt Anthony and what would not, and as long as the leg was supported he would be fine like this. He eased him forward just so his slightly bent knee rested on Sasha’s hip, and spread Anthony a bit. Jerrett’s pace picked up and he drove into him deeper, thrusting hard as his hands roamed over Anthony’s body, pinching and tweaking his erect little nipples.

In response, Anthony yanked Sasha close, impaling him hard enough to pull a little cry from him. Sasha relished the bit of pain, though, writhing in Anthony’s tight grip and shoving back even harder. Impaled and clutched tight, he wasn’t in a position to move too much without hurting something, so he opted for letting the two bodies surrounding his ride him like a rodeo bull.

“Ohgods…yes…sir, you feel so incredible,” he gasped out as Jerrett’s teeth closed harder on his shoulder. “That great big spear…damnohdamn…harder, sir, please, please…”

Jerrett’s body curled around Anthony’s, his hips thrusting harder into his tight heat. He was going to leave teeth marks on the boy but he didn’t care, he felt so damn good. His breath was hot across Anthony’s skin as he panted. “mmm…baby…you feel so good.” He sucked hard on the tender skin of Anthony’s neck just below his new collar, a low growl rising in his throat as the pressure became unbearable and he pistoned in and out his body in hard driving thrusts. When the dam finally burst Jerrett saw stars behind his eyes with the intensity of it, his pulsing cock buried deep within Anthony’s body as he came.

The teeth, the strong arms clutching him tight, the hard body slamming into his, Anthony had an odd moment right as his balls drew up tight where he thought there truly was a panther at his back, a sleek, powerful, sexy panther.

“GodsohgodsohsirI’myoursI’myours!” he cried out as Sasha’s channel tightened around him and his body reacted in an extremity of ecstasy, bucking and jerking between his partners as he came.

Jerrett rode his bucking body until he slowed and then stilled, kissing and nuzzling the bite marks on his neck almost as if in apology. He was in no hurry to move and lay with his arm wrapped comfortably around him, a sleepy contented look on his handsome face. “Yes, mine. Don’t you forget it.” He rumbled, a little smile curling his lips.

With his breathing slowed enough to allow a soft sigh, Anthony pulled Sasha closer and snuggled contentedly against the hard body behind him. “No, sir,” he said on a little chuckle. “Not on your life.”

Kind of hard to forget a thing like that with a rock the size of Gibraltar nestled at his throat. “Tap your heels three times,” he murmured sleepily. “I must have found those ruby slippers.”

Sasha turned his head to kiss him with a little laugh. “What in the world are you babbling about?”

Anthony gave him a wink and a soft smile. “I’m home. And there’s no place like it.”

Chapter 295 – Viking Burial

Chapter 294 – The Hazards of Playing Hero (2)

Chapter 293 – The Hazards of Playing Hero (1)

Chapter 291 – Requiems

** Author’s note: This is a longer one, dear readers, but we felt it important to keep the whole thing together. **

“Is it possible? To do vell?”

“Yes, sir, it’s not tough to do with the right equipment.” Cody tamped down on his curiosity. Elric had handed him this marvelous photo of himself as a younger man wrapped in the arms of two gorgeous people who obviously adored him. He asked for a reprint since it was torn but his tone implied he was in no mood for questions.

Cody closed the portfolio and placed it on the table. “Tomorrow afternoon. I’ll bring it by.” He dared to reach out to stroke the white hand lying on the back of the chair. “Are you OK, sir?”

“Soon, my dear,” the Prince answered softly. “Soon I think I shall be.”

Elric arrived home to the quiet of his house and the storm inside him. Something wild brewed in his heart which he didn’t understand and wasn’t entirely sure he trusted. Before he could banish the disorienting turmoil, though, Keit appeared to greet him.

He seized the boy by the upper arms and backed him up to the wall where he captured his lips in a frenzied, searing kiss.

Keit was so shocked he didn’t respond at first. He had no idea what had come over his usually steady, composed Dom. He did not waste much time wondering though, before he let himself melt into the tight hold Elric had on him, his eyes sliding closed and his lips and tongue caressing back against his heated assault. Whatever it was, Keit was putty in Elric’s hands, caught up and willing to flow with his passionate demands.

“Downstairs.” Elric broke off to growl in Keit’s ear. “Strip and present.” He eased his hold and kissed Keit’s forehead gently, the message clear: I need you.

Keit slipped from his embrace with half-closed, smoldering eyes. “Yes, sir,” he breathed out. He managed to keep to an even pace until he was out of sight, then took the stairs two at a time, pulling his clothes off as he went. By the time he stood naked and ready for Elric, he was already standing at attention in more ways than one.

A few slow breaths later, Elric followed. Girded in the armor of his icy calm again, he found the steady center necessary to proceed. To approach Keit with anything less was madness. Passion, yes, that could be shared but uncontrolled ferocity would bring disaster. The boy would push and plead and believe himself in heaven while he drove his Dom to acts of brutality.

He descended the steps and walked slowly around Keit, his fingertips trailing along his skin as he circled. “Mein herz, my beautiful boy,” he murmured. “I give you the choice, as ve used to, vhen you came for sessions.” He leaned in close to Keit’s ear. “Vertical or horizontal?”

Keit shivered as the tip of Elric’s finger traced slowly down his spine. Unfortunately his brain had a short circuit to his mouth at that moment. His breath caught in his throat as a fingertip touched the little dimple at the very top of his ass. Denial definitely was a potent aphrodisiac, he couldn’t even form coherent speech he was so keyed up. “I-I’ll stay standing, sir,” he finally got out in a hoarse whisper.

“I said nothing about stending.” Elric nipped at the top of Keit’s ear. “But vertical it shall be.”

He stripped off his shirt and hung it on one of the hooks, then strolled up and down his equipment wall with slow, deliberate steps. The ritual steadied him, pulled him into the rhythm of the session. He made his selections just as deliberately and placed them on the table while Keit fought his shivers of anticipation.

When he approached again, he held only two items, both intimately familiar. No need for commands. Keit held out his hands for him to buckle on the padded suspension cuffs and spread his feet farther to ease the fastening of the leather cock and ball harness.

Everything proceeded as it would have during one of their client sessions with a few notable exceptions. Elric did not pull on his gloves as he would have then, his bare fingers caressing and petting where he would have refrained before. His lips touched down here and there as well, teasing and leaving trails of heat and when Keit was in harness, he took him into a tender embrace.

Keit trembled with anticipation. He had held things together during Orion’s discovery of who he was and the subsequent traumas and anxieties they had all faced. Even such upsetting, potentially life altering events rarely ruffled him beyond immediate emergencies. He was steady, he was a rock, he didn’t let the stress show…until he was allowed to. The build up behind his emotional walls had been almost at critical mass, and even the simple act of preparation had him shaky with need and giddy with relief. He moaned softly as Elric brushed his lips with his own and his body swayed into his.

“Steady, herzchen,” the Prince murmured gently before he bent to slide an arm under Keit’s knees and sweep him up in his arms. With a soft smile, he repeated the words he had spoken so often, “You are safe vith me. I shall not let you fall.”

He carried Keit over to the suspension rig and held him tight with one arm while he pulled the chains into reach. When the chains had Keit’s weight, he finally let go. Most subs would have needed a warm-up, a slow build to the more serious implements. Keit needed more and his desperation signaled a need to dispense with the preliminaries. Elric reached first for the bamboo switch and laid the first stripe across Keit’s left hip.

Upstairs, Orion wandered in from his workshop. He had finished the second frame as the Prince had requested, this one more suited to something one would find in a child’s room with little horses, sheep and rabbits carved all around. The open basement door stopped him, though, and the sounds…

He thought maybe he should start dinner instead. The frame could wait. Not that he was a gifted, instinctive cook like Sasha or Keit but Sasha had said anyone with a little patience who was able to read could learn to cook. Patience, at least with everyone but himself, he had in abundance now, something he had never had in his previous life. The doctors said it was due to ‘changes in the brain’. They hesitated to say brain damage but he knew they meant it.

Elric switched to a heavy cat. The variety in the pain was almost as important to Keit as the pain itself.

Keit lost track of how many times the flogger fell across his skin. His shoulders were in agony, the skin across his back and buttocks licked in flames. He could have so easily slipped into the calming ecstatic trance that came with this level of pain. He fought it though. He wanted to stay right here, experience every swish and stroke of the cane and the whip.

For the most part he was quiet, only a soft moan occasionally parting his lips. When the flogger wrapped around his thigh from behind and the very tips of two of the braids landed neatly on his balls though he couldn’t help the quick indrawn yelp. His head lolled back and the movement sent ice and fire through his shoulders. He cried out when the flogger landed again and sent more shards though him. He was in such agony and his gently curved cock stood like a flagpole from his body.

He cried out again with the next stroke, like a dam that once broken could not be stopped.

The Prince switched again, to his whip, the final implement he would only use to top off the sensations. He let it flick and kiss across Keit’s skin, starbursts of sharp pain, but he would never truly lay into him with it.

He sensed when Keit had reached the limit of safety and sanity, even though the boy would have begged for more, and he lowered the chains until Keit’s feet touched the floor. The chains still kept him standing as he lowered them a bit more and nudged Keit’s feet more than shoulder-width apart with his boot.

Mein herz,” he whispered as he eased lubed fingers inside Keit’s back door. His harnessed cock twitched and the boy moaned “You vill beg me for release. Plead for it prettily enough and I may grant it.”

Although his feet now touched the floor Keit doubted his ability to stand if the chain had not held him up. His legs trembled and he let out a heated moan as Elric’s fingers breached him. He murmured sweet encouraging things, letting his Dom know how much he enjoyed every touch and stroke, but he did not beg. Not yet.

He waited until Elric was pressed up behind him, his fly opened, the smooth head of his cock pressing into him. He begged for more, and he got it. His lithe body was slicked in sweat, he regained the use of his legs enough to push back and roll his hips, little whimpers and cries of ecstasy wrung from his lips as he built higher and higher.

“Uhh…oh, please sir… please, I’m so close now…please let me come,” he finally panted out.

Elric reached around to unsnap the harness in three swift tugs. The desperate groan he received when the blood rushed back in fully sent shivers of delight through him. He drove in for a few more strokes, letting Keit’s soft pleas wash over him like a cleansing rain.

He wrapped his arms around Keit and rested his head on his shoulder, his own climax imminent. “Now, herzchen,” he whispered. “Now. Give me vhat is mine.”

Keit’s body arched and shuddered on the last word Elric spoke. Molten streaks seemed to flow in his veins he came so hard and the release was so intense black spots danced behind his eyes.

The hard clench and release of Keit’s orgasm hurled Elric over the edge as well. He fastened his teeth onto Keit’s shoulder and clung tight, his soft moans muffled by skin as he rode out the heavy pulses of ecstasy.

He waited until he could draw a full, steady breath again before he eased out, took Keit’s weight more firmly against him, and released the cuffs. Keit slumped, deadweight, and he wondered if the boy had fainted. Ah, well, not the first time.

With a tenderness most people were never allowed to see, he carried Keit to the bed in the little room off the main one and slid in beside him, curling his body around him protectively.

Keit’s breathing slowly returned to normal, yet he did not stir, blissfully content to remain in Elric’s arms. The ache of soreness was starting to set in. Not the same as the sharp bite of pain that stirred his lust, but he would savor it nonetheless for the memory it would bring of this session. He was so happy, feeling absolutely loved and protected.

Herzchen…” Elric paused and lifted his head to sniff. “Ah. Pork chops, I think. Somevone is making us dinner. Do you think you can sit at table, my love, or vould you like to take dinner in bed tonight?”

Keit smiled lazily but said, “If Orion’s gone to the trouble to make dinner for us the least I can do is sit at the table, sir.”

They relaxed a little while longer and then Keit rose to go take a quick shower and dress before heading to the kitchen to see if Orion needed any help with dinner preparations.

Orion’s answer was to take him into a gentle embrace and kiss the top of his head. “It’s almost ready, little one. Is he coming?”

Keit nodded against his chest.

“Was it wonderful?” Orion whispered.

Keit gave a weak little chuckle. “Oh yes, more than wonderful.” He sighed happily and snuggled into Orion’s arms.

Five minutes later, their Dom appeared, showered, perfectly coiffed and pressed, and completely composed, the storm quelled. He settled in one of the kitchen chairs and rested his chin in his hand, watching his boys plate dinner.

“This Saturday,” he said softly. “I need them all here.”

Keit helped Orion carry the plates over and sat gingerly. “All, sir?” he asked, guessing that Elric meant their friends and already mentally creating the guest list and preparations that needed to be completed for such a large gathering on short notice.

Ja, alle,” Elric confirmed. “I shall make the calls myself. I esk only that ve hef enough food and drink on hend. A semi-formal occasion, I think, for vhich I expect you to make yourselves presentable. I shall do the rest.” He glanced over at Orion. “It is ready for me, liebchen?”

“Yes, mein herr.” Orion pointed over to the shelf by the door. “I brought it in to show you.”

Elric rose slowly to examine the picture frame, his fingers running over the little carved animals. “It is lovely. Marvelous. You hef such talent…thenk you.”

Throughout the city and farther up the coast, schedules were shuffled and reshuffled to accommodate the Prince’s request. Some of the invitees owed him, debts that could never be repaid, but all of them felt some strong connection to him and could not resist the call out of love or curiosity.

Leather and lycra left at home, a small horde of well-dressed, beautiful people descended on the house, Vincent a vision in velvet and silk, his boys in their best suits, Katya in a lovely green dress, cut scandalously low in the back, Der in his antique dress uniform jacket and so on. Even Anthony had opted for a suit and tie, things he normally wrinkled his nose at.

They milled about, waiting and speculating, no one quite sure what the occasion meant. Der leaned against the wall outside the dining room, a hand on Brandon’s shoulder. Bran looked so delicious in his double-breasted suit. Too delicious for words. Der pulled him close for a deep, languid kiss, his cock stirring at the barely leashed heat between them, his hand stealing down to…

“There’s my sweet pea!” An all too familiar voice called out beside him. “You could have come to say hello. But I see you’re busy. I suppose this is Brandon.”

“Um… hi, Mom,” Der got out in a sheepish murmur.

Brandon smiled bemusedly at the lovely lady scolding Der. He felt a bit like scolding Der himself for not telling him that his mother might be there. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Schiller, and yes, I’m Brandon,” he introduced himself.

Elisabet shook his hand while she looked him up and down. “Very nice. Much more handsome than some of your choices and much more polite.”

Der hid his face in his hands with a groan and looked like he wanted to sink into the floor.

She stood nearly nose to nose with Brandon, taller than any other woman in the room. “And what are your intentions regarding my son, young man?”

Brandon’s lips twitched. He adored her already. “Is it too cliché to say that I intend to keep him so happy he won’t think about going to find someone else?”

“That…” She smiled at him, her gray eyes twinkling. “Is the wisest answer I have ever gotten to that question.” With a pat to Brandon’s chest, she turned back to Der. “You hang onto this one, sweet pea. Someone with sense.” Then she was off again to greet Vincent and fuss over Drew and Jonathan.

Der raised his eyes to the ceiling. “Someone shoot me now. I’m sorry, Bran. I’d no idea she’d be here, too.”

Brandon smiled, slipped his arms around his waist and tugged him closer. “It’s alright, I’ll let it slide this time…sweet pea.”

“Please don’t call me that,” Der said in a pained voice. “I really don’t want to start thinking of you as my mother.”

Brandon laughed. “No, we wouldn’t want that,” he agreed and kissed him.

Upstairs, Elric knotted his tie for the fourth time. Lillana sat in the chair by the window, patient, silent for the moment, waiting, it seemed to him.

“I don’t seem able to do this today,” he said to her reflection as he undid the knot yet again. “My hends…wie sagt mann? I am entirely thumbs.”

Lilly stood and moved to his side, moving his hands gently out of the way when he turned to her. She deftly tied a crisp Half Windsor knot and smoothed the collar of his shirt. “You tied it perfectly the first time,” she said in her softly musical voice.

He let out a slow breath. “I go to strip the veil from things long hidden. To rip down the shutters and let the light in.” He caught her hand and pressed it to his heart. “And I delay…and think of changing my mind.”

She lifted her eyes to his and held them for a moment, then leaned up on tiptoe and kissed the tip of his nose. “I know, my dear Prince. I know. You shall be ready, when you are ready.”

He chuckled softly at her indulgence and the corner of her lips lifted in a little smile. “Now… should I go announce that you’re very sorry and have changed your mind?”

His forehead wrinkled and it was her turn to chuckle softly. “No? Then, perhaps you should make an appearance?”

“So. Yes.” He settled his jacket, smoothed back an imaginary stray hair, and tucked her dainty hand into the crook of his elbow. “If you valk on my arm, beautiful fairy princess. To give me courage.”

“I would be delighted, sir,” she said, and let him lead her out and down the stairs into the hall below.

Lilly had known, by the low murmur of voices, that there must be many people gathered, but she wasn’t quite prepared for the actual number that greeted them. The Prince’s ‘small gathering’ was a rather large crowd and she was actually glad for the firm arm she held onto now.

They did make quite a stunning entrance, even for such a sober affair. Him with his snow white locks pulled back into a neat single plait and her raven dark tresses floating about her like an inky curtain. Her habit of keeping her eyes lowered when first entering a room made the attention of their arrival fall upon Elric, until she looked up at him as well.

“Oh, dear gods,” Der whispered as he rose from his chair. “He’s reached up and plucked a star from the heavens.”

Several of the young men had followed suit out of instinctive respect for this vision.

“My dear friends,” Elric began in a voice pitched perfectly for the gathering. “This is Lillanna Willows, our counselor and friend who has been assisting in the household’s… recovery.”

Lilly hadn’t expected him to do that either, but she supposed she should have. She only knew Keit and Orion here; it would be easier to introduce her to everyone this way. Elric would have no way of knowing she was painfully shy in crowds and even more so with public speaking. Of course, the fact that her peaches and cream skin suddenly bloomed with pink roses and a whispered “Hello” barely made it past her parted lips only made her more endearing to many in the room at that moment.

Brandon poked Der gently in the ribs. “Wipe the drool off your chin, hon,” he whispered.

In an automatic gesture, Der lifted his hand to do just that and then shot Brandon an amused look. “Sorry.”

Richard leaned close to Katya’s ear. “Where, oh where, do you suppose he found that little gem?”

Kat smiled and patted his cheek. Where, indeed? She was certain the beauty on Elric’s arm had the attention of even the most determinedly ‘male only’ worshipers in the room. She glanced over at Jonathan and hid a small smile. Yes, that expression was just a shade too deliberately cool, even with his eyes transfixed. Not that he was likely to be interested, but certainly he could appreciate the aesthetic beauty. She chuckled as Vincent reached over without looking and closed Drew’s mouth.

Elric leaned in to whisper in Lilly’s ear, “I shall make proper introductions later, vhen all eyes are not cemented to you.” In a gallant gesture, he handed her into the empty chair next to Keit before he strode to the front of the room.

Once there, he swept the cloth off the little table to reveal the picture frames Orion had made. The ornate, inlaid one held the repaired photo of Elric with his Kurt and Annalise. The photo with the children occupied the newer frame with the little animal carvings. Between them sat a bowl full of rose petals and a black pillar candle, which Elric now lit.

Es war einmal ein mann,” he began, his voice steady and calm. “This is how all German fairytales begin. ‘There once was a man.’ But the stories from the Bleck Forest are often gruesome and the endings are not alvays heppy.”

He straightened and stood with one hand resting on the table as if he needed the contact. “In my previous life, I vas Joachim Wilhelm Sebastian Hohenzollern, the last Baron of Edelwald. The last because there are no more kings in Bavaria to name a successor and vhen I left, there vas no male relative remaining to take the title.”

He went on to describe his privileged childhood on the rambling estate, a strictly scheduled childhood filled with tutors and lessons, one which would have been unbearably lonely had it not been for Kurt. It was Kurt who comforted him when his father had been cruel and Kurt who had been there when his parents died, his lifelong friend whose love had blossomed into something more in their teenage years. He described their search for a Baroness, their first enchanted meeting with Annalise, the beautiful bride she had made, how happy the three of them had been.

He told them of his joy at the birth of his son, Johannes, and then the doubling of that joy when his daughter, Kara had been born. He had been a nervous father, afraid he would make mistakes, but his spouses were there to reassure him and calm him, both of them loving, instinctive parents.

“And then the day came vhen it all vas ripped avay,” he said softly, one finger running over the children’s picture frame. His words faltered and slipped now as he came to the day when he had lost them all, the fear, the horror, the numbing grief all crashing back in on him again. When he had finished, he leaned on the table with both hands, eyes shut tight, as if any movement might cause him to shatter.

Lilly noticed that all the people gathered held expressions of sympathy, some looking as if they wanted to go and comfort Elric, especially Keit and Orion, but none moved to do so. Perhaps they simply did not want to intrude on the careful walls he put around himself, or perhaps they were cautious since he was more than likely to lash out rather than accept any ‘coddling’. Well, emotional walls had never been a barrier to her, and she was not afraid of backlash if it helped him. She moved to his side and placed a delicate hand over his.

The curled lip, the beginnings of a snarl, came automatically, but someone began to sob softly. Elric heaved a ragged breath. He turned his hand to take Lilly’s fingers in a gentle grip as he faced his audience again.

“I hef kept them hidden all this time. Denied who they vere and all they meant to me. This vas not right.” He waved his free hand at the pictures, his voice cracking as he went on, “I give them beck. To the vorld, to the light. For all to see, for all to share in the joy there vas. For my new family, the vones who took a foreign stranger to their hearts, I share this, so you vill know. So you might help me remember.”

Keit finally broke, and moved forward. He wrapped his arms around Elric in a fierce hug that let him know he was not only moved by what he said and proud of him for it, but that he was there for him as well. A moment later Orion’s large arms enfolded them both.

It was a near thing. The Prince nearly wept in front of all those gathered. He wrapped an arm around Keit, leaned back against Orion and battled his errant emotions long enough to say, “Please, stay, everyone. Enjoy the night. Enjoy each other. I shall rejoin you soon.”

When he moved to leave the room, head held high, the three people who had dared to touch him went, too, Lilly’s hand tucked back in the crook of his arm, Keit’s hand gripped firmly in his, Orion’s on his shoulder. In the den at the back of the house, he broke and cried in their arms but no one else was there to see.

Drew sank down into Vince’s lap. He needed a bit of holding after that. He felt so bad for Elric; even if it was so long ago, the pain was obviously still raw.

For a moment, Vincent had his hands full. Drew rarely cried in public but he trembled against Vincent’s chest and Jonathan sobbed beside him. He wasn’t the only one, of course. Sasha had climbed into Jerrett’s lap, face hidden against his neck while Anthony knelt at their feet with his head on Jerrett’s thigh. Brandon did his best to comfort Der, though the tears crept down his own cheeks, and Victor rocked Cody in his arms.

“Here now, poor boy.” Elisabet moved her chair beside Jonathan to take him in her arms. Poor motherless boys. She half expected to be pushed away but Jonathan collapsed against her, heaving with wrenching sobs. “Sh, sh…such pretty eyes shouldn’t shed so many tears. Hush, dear.”

Amazingly, Jonathan quieted for her and let her dry his tears.

“Now,” she said more crisply. “Der Prinz has put this evening together for his friends to celebrate the ones he loved, not to have them flood his house and ruin his carpets. Come help me, dear. People need drinks, they need to get up, to talk to each other.”

There was perhaps no better way to pull Jonathan out of hysteria. He got up, kissed Vincent and Drew and followed Elisabet around the room playing host.

Drew pulled in a deep breath to steady himself. “I like Der’s mom,” he said softly in Vince’s ear.

Nearby, Brandon silently concurred although he hadn’t heard Drew’s whispered sentiment. He got Der to dry his eyes and he stood sniffling with Bran’s arm around him.

Katya and Richard joined Elisabet and Jonathan to help get everyone settled.

In the den things were settling as well. Lilly soothed and comforted all three of the men gathered. She stood next to where Elric sat and kissed the top of his head, smoothing her hand over the white silk of his hair. “You did very well, my Prince.”

There was no sarcasm, no irony in his voice when he answered softly, “So, ja, I am glad you approve.” He leaned his head against the back of the sofa. “I feel so…drained. But so light. As if I am not connected properly. Perheps I am coming down vith something…”

Lilly sat down next to him, a smile lighting her face. “That would be what it feels like when you are healing, sir.”

“Is it?” The corner of his mouth twitched as he took her hand. “It feels rather more like being turned inside out.” With his free hand, he reached down to where Orion knelt at his feet to stroke through his hair. “Are you all right, liebchen? Perheps I should hef prepared you better.”

“I’m all right.” The big man nuzzled Elric’s Armani-clad thigh. “I was worried for you, my Prince. It…it’s hard to see you hurt.” They sat in silence for a few moments and then Orion lifted his head to look up at Lilly. “I think I know what I need to do now, though.”

“I thought you might,” she said, leaving it up to him whether he wanted to share what he wanted to do or not.

Mein herr, I’d like to…think things through first.” Orion came up on his knees to kiss his Dom’s cheek. “Before I say anything.”

“As you vish, my love,” Elric reassured him softly. “Vhatever you need, you shell hef.”

Orion thanked him and was pulled in for a soft, searching kiss, which might have caught fire if footsteps hadn’t sounded in the hall.

“Sir? I don’t want to intrude, I mean, I know I am, but I wanted to make sure you’re OK. Not that you need me, not with all the help you have, and it’s not–” Anthony broke off with a foolish, crooked smile when Lilly looked at him. “Um, hello…”

Elric tamped down on a chuckle. “I’m recovering, thenk you, my dear. You look so hendsome tonight. Even a tie. This is an occasion.”

Anthony ducked his head on a grin. “Jerrett likes it. I think he likes having a leash built into the outfit as much as he likes the look but, well, you know…” He trailed off again, blushing furiously.

Lilly watched the exchange quietly. Privately she was a little surprised. Had she met Anthony on his own she wouldn’t have thought he was a submissive, but then, he wasn’t ultra dominant either. Not with the way he blushed when he looked at her.

After a moment they all rose and left the den to rejoin the rest of the gathering. As they walked down the hall, Lilly braced herself. She avoided crowds usually. Not out of any kind of phobia, but because all the emotions one found in large groups played havoc with her own balance.

A steady, rhythmic thump came from ahead of them and Elric stopped as they rounded the corner to avoid running into Vincent.

“Ah, there you are,” Vincent said softly with a little shake of his head. “Sweet spirits, the things you never told me. You may as well prepare yourself. They will swarm you when you walk back in.”

“I am prepared, brüderlein, never fear.” Elric patted his shoulder and turned to Lilly. “My apologies, my dear. The young gallant to your left is Anthony Dupree, affectionately known to his friends as ‘Mad Anthony’ and this handsome vision is Vincent Lastrada, of whom you have heard me speak so often.”

Lilly inclined her head politely to Vincent in greeting. Anthony took her hand and brushed his lips across the back of her fingers in a courtly gesture.

Vincent’s expression remained unreadable as he studied her. Finally he murmured, “You are hataa’lii. A healer. Which Way do you follow?”

Unblinking blue eyes regarded him steadily, studying him just as he had studied her. A small smile touched her lips. “My training was not the most traditional, but would be considered the red path. My father was Lakota, I learned from him when I was very young.” This small bit of information she knew would actually tell Vincent a lot. The path of the red meant she was an herbalist and spiritualist. The Lakota were one of the eastern nations, so she was probably not from this area originally

Vincent’s smile transformed his face. “Welcome to California, elder sister. I haven’t spoken to one of the People, of any nation, in so long.”

“Thank you.” Lilly said graciously. She glanced at Elric and he inclined his head slightly as if to say she was free to go off if she wished. She walked beside Vincent as he returned to his comfortable high backed chair, talking amiably as they went. Vince had not missed the subtle byplay between them.

He had to wonder how it was that she reached the Prince, made him see that he needed to release this long held grief. He hesitated to ask, it seemed vaguely improper, but his curiosity was stirred and he finally did ask.

“I didn’t reach him. Orion did.” She said simply.

“Oh?” Vincent’s brow creased and then smoothed as realization hit. “Ah. I see. It’s always been one of his favorite teaching points. Never ask those who belong to you to do what you would not.”

He gazed across the room to where Sasha flung himself into Elric’s arms, more open about offering his condolences than some. “How are they doing, the three of them? That first day…oh, sweet gods…I thought my heart would break.”

“They are…healing.” She answered, her head tilted slightly in contemplation as she watched Elric, Orion, and Keit together. She turned her gaze to Vince, cerulean blue eyes seeming to peer right into him, past every shield and barrier he so carefully kept between himself and the world. “And how are you, and your loves doing? Are you better now?”

An automatic evasion was on Vincent’s lips when he stopped himself with a little sigh. “We are…healing,” he echoed softly. One hand rubbed his chest absently, recent memories constricting his lungs. “So many disasters heaped one atop the next. It feels as if we can finally catch our breath again.”

“Mmhm…” Lilly said, and averted her gaze, knowing she had disquieted him. “If you like, I have something that might help you breathe easier… literally, that is. Something that won’t make you jittery and tense and keep you up at night like the inhalers can.”

The long fingered hand stopped its restless motion and he let out a soft laugh. “That obvious, is it? Yes, gods, yes, if you have something that will ease these tight bands around my chest, I’d be eternally grateful.”

She nodded, the silk of her hair falling forward a bit. She lifted a hand to push it back.

“Do you plan on keeping the Prince’s lovely guest to yourself all evening, Vincent?” A deep rich voice with hints of amusement asked. Having been abandoned for the moment by both Anthony and Sasha, Jerrett had wandered over to meet the lovely girl that had more than half the room wondering how long a wait would be polite before making their move.

“It had occurred to me, yes, but I suppose that would be selfish,” Vincent answered softly. “Lilly, this is Jerrett Hawthorn.”

Lilly looked up, and up, at the man standing over them. He was not ‘looming’, or at least she didn’t think he was trying to, but she supposed the impression was from the way he sort of stood so straight and regal and looked down on nearly everyone. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Hawthorn,” she said softly.

“The pleasure is mine, and please call me Jerrett.” he said, smiling his most winning smile. Despite the innate arrogance, he was still breathtakingly handsome and charming when he chose to be.

“Hey, handsome, you feeling all right?” A deep voice of a different timbre issued from Vincent’s opposite side. Der crouched by the chair to take Vincent’s hand in his. “I saw you rubbing.”

“I’m quite well, dearheart,” Vincent smiled and kissed his fingers. “And this, Lilly, is the dashing Derelict Schiller.”

Der looked up to meet those incredible eyes. “Hi,” he said eloquently.

A little smile lifted her lips, “Hello.” She replied, and couldn’t help thinking that for all Jerrett Hawthorn’s carefully exuded charm, Der, as she’d already heard his friends calling him, was twice as endearing.

Drew came up behind Jonathan as he handed out a last glass of champagne he’d been circulating with. He slid his arms around him and kissed the nape of his neck, smiling as he turned around to put his own arms around him. “Are you alright?” he asked softly.

Jonathan nodded, “Much better. How ‘bout you, sweetie?”

Drew gave a little shrug, but he nodded reassuringly. “You know, I was thinking… do you remember that episode of South Park, when all the boys started acting like grunting animals beating up on each other because one of the girls in their class had sprouted boobs?” He tilted his head slightly to where Vince, Jerrett, and Der were clustered around Lilly and David and Xavier were making their way over. “I keep having flashes of that every time I glance over there.” He snickered.

Jonathan laughed, causing several people to glance over. He didn’t care. “You’re not gonna get involved in the testosterone rush to piss on her beautiful leg?”

Drew looked almost startled by the question. “Are you kidding me? No way!” He said just a little too vehemently.

A little sound caught in Jonathan’s throat, then another, and he nearly choked on trying to swallow the guffaw that wanted out. He took Drew’s face between his hands and kissed him tenderly. “Christ, I love you. You’ve got to be the sweetest thing on earth.”

Drew unexpectedly felt a flush of heat at the tender kiss and Jonathan’s words. He melted inside and pressed closer, completely forgetting the roomful of people around them. Jonathan just had that effect on him. He kissed him back, just as tender and sweet, but the kiss lingered a bit longer.

A light feminine laugh drifted over to them and Drew glanced at the growing circle again. Lilly had laughed at something Xavier had said, which was not all that unusual. If the dark scowl on Jerrett’s face was any indication it was something at his expense. Drew shook his head, amused. “Do you want to take bets on which one she picks?” he whispered in Jonathan’s ear.

“We should get two choices, since it’s such a broad field,” Jonathan said with a too-serious look of concentration. “Now, if she has any taste at all, she’ll pick Vincent. But he’ll gracefully and regretfully decline, so I have to count him out of the running. Hmm…there’s beauty over there and brains and drop dead, charming dominance, grace and wit and…I bet she picks the goofball.”

Drew was just as carefully going over the selection although silently. Xavier had made her laugh, that tinkling bells sound that was so sweet he nearly heard a collective sigh from the group of admirers. And Xav looked exceedingly hot this evening… ok, stop checking him out. Was Jon right maybe? Der was just as good at coaxing a laugh, but he was more mature than Xav. She was so quiet she might appreciate that. Or was he just being biased because it was Der and Drew couldn’t see anyone resisting Der?

His eyes went to Jerrett and then back to Lilly. She had politely cut her laugh short and she was looking at him, those bright, bright blue eyes still sparkling. The dangerous, arrogant prick? “She’s gonna pick the most dominant, if any of them. I say Jerrett.” Drew said in a hushed voice to Jonathan.

“She’s a fool if she does,” Jonathan growled and then shrugged. “But there’s no accounting for taste, I guess.” They watched a moment longer, Drew’s head nestled on Jonathan’s shoulder, until Jonathan chuckled. “Oh, now, there’s a wrench in the works for you.”

In a black kilt, leggings and dress boots, Chrysalis slid through the larger bodies to claim the chair next to Lilly since all the admirers were standing. Chrys took her hand, obviously making introductions, and lifted Lilly’s fingers to kiss them.

“Shame on you both. Putting bets on a girl like that.” A voice scolded from behind Jonathan and Drew, making them jump a little, although his voice had been as low as their own. “And you’re both wrong.” Keit said, the scolding tone giving way to amusement. “Now, Drew if you would be so kind, go wrap yourself around Der and get him back to Brandon. He’s looking a little bewildered over there. And Jonathan, please go and distract Xavier before Jerrett decides he’d rather have him and we have an all out brawl. I’ll go get Jerrett.”

“Um, ok. But why?” Drew asked.

“Because, honey. She’s going to want to talk to Chrysalis and the others are just going to frustrate her.”

Jonathan’s forehead crinkled in an endearing way. “So the boys are making all that fuss over her and she’s gay? Um, or maybe not…since I still don’t know about Chrys.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “Dammit, I’m confused.”

“No, as far as I can tell she prefers men, at least I’ve never seen her with a woman, but then I’ve never asked.” Keit gave a little wave of his hand. “I just think she’ll be interested in Chrys, that’s all. Now scoot.” Keit headed off to gather Jerrett up, which was a bit of a task, but as soon as he discreetly got his attention over to Sasha and Anthony, who were looking awfully cuddly together, it was easier to move him off in that direction.

Drew moved toward Der and got him talking about music, although he definitely seemed distracted during the conversation.

Another silvery sound caressed over the gathering and Drew nudged Der gently, nodding to how Lilly laughed at something Chrys whispered in her ear.

“Oh…um…” he cleared his throat and swept Lilly a courtly bow. “Such a joy meeting you, Ms. Lilly. But I do need to steal Vincent away to hash through some graphics questions.”

Vincent arched a brow. “Now?”

“Yes, now. You know how my sieve brain works. If I don’t talk to you when I’m thinking of it, I’ll forget.”

Then Vincent caught the hint as well and rose to follow Der to a quiet corner across the room while Jonathan wrapped his arms around Xavier and distracted him quite thoroughly.

Lilly noted the tactical scattering of the circle that had formed and silently thanked Keit. She smiled at Chrysalis. “Keit must think highly of you, you’re the only one he didn’t chase away.”

Chrys chuckled. “The Prince is the undisputed master of his house but Keit is what keeps the household running.”

Lilly’s eyes found Keit for a moment and then came back to Chrysalis. “He’s happier now.” Her lovely heart shaped face tilted slight, regarding Chrys intently for a moment. “You have…unusual energy.” She said softly. “You are sensitive to… things, no?”

Chrys looked at their joined hands, then back up with a little smile and a wink, whispering, “I see dead people.”

Lilly smiled softly as if something had just clicked into place. “Ah, you are a Spiritwalker.” She searched her eyes for a moment, trying to determine something else. “One foot in this world, one in another. Neither one or the other…” She blinked and took a breath, looking down as if embarrassed that she might have intruded where she was not welcome. “Do the spirits trouble you?” she asked quietly, hoping she hadn’t offended him.

A long pause followed where Chrys regarded her carefully, that brittle, fragile look Syren knew so well creeping in. The smile returned on a little sigh. “Not…usually. I know they’re there. Most of the time they go about their business and I go about mine. It’s only when there’s a terrible concentration of negative energy. Those frighten me sometimes, when there’s hate and rage and violent intentions. They tell me I’ve had…seizures…”

Across the room, Syren wrapped an arm around Keit. “You’re such a little manipulator, you know that?”

Keit gave her an apologetic look and nodded towards Lilly. “Does this bother you?”

“Watching Chrys courting? Gods, no. It’s not something I get to see often. Lilly’s the first person Chrys has approached in, oh, I can’t even tell you how long.”

Lilly’s brows pulled together in a tiny frown. “You can keep them out, if you want. Do you know how?”

“I do.” Chrys nodded. “But sometimes people come to me. They need help. I…try not to say yes anymore but they can be so desperate, so frightened. It’s hard to turn them away.”

Lilly’s small smile turned rueful. “I know just what you mean.”

Warmth lit up Chrys’ gray-green eyes. “Somehow I knew you would.”

~*~

Xavier followed Jonathan off a ways from the mingling group of people gathered. A glance told him Dave had wandered over to talk to Vic and Cody. When he looked back Jonathan was leaning close and Xavier gave him a soft smile. “You didn’t stay long enough for me to say good morning the other night.”

“You,” Jonathan tapped the end of his nose. “Sleep way too late for me. And besides, I had to go get myself in trouble at home.”

“I do not sleep too late, you just get up way too early.” Xavier said. “I’m almost afraid to ask… what did you get in trouble for?”

Jonathan tried to look serious and contrite. It almost worked. “I surprised the lord of the manor in bed with another lover. I was…caught off guard and he was very annoyed with me. So he gave me to his new lover and forgave me because I’m so beautiful.”

One arm looped lightly around Jonathan’s waist Xav gave him a knowing look. “Mm, so you pitched a hissy fit and Vince figured the best way to shut your mouth was to put a dick in it. Such a smart guy, that Vince.”

Jonathan poked him in the ribs. “So crude.” He tsked.

Xavier grinned and leaned closer to his ear. “You like it, don’t try and pretend.”

“Doesn’t mean you’re not crude. And it wasn’t in my mouth, anyway, so there.” His green eyes danced with amusement, wondering why Xav didn’t ask the obvious question about who it had been.

The answer to that of course was that Xav had already guessed who it must be. Vince wasn’t likely just to pick up a total stranger, and the only one close to them right now that wasn’t already sharing their bed was Der’s new dreamboat.

“Well, I owe you breakfast sometime anyway,” Xav said. “I didn’t want you to have to sleep on the couch.” Which was his way of also saying he was sorry things hadn’t exactly gone as planned with Dave coming home early.

“I know that, babe,” Jonathan said softly. “Don’t worry about it.” He gave Xav a little kiss before he moved off to talk to Elric.

 

Drew stepped out into the hall and looked down toward the end where he saw Xavier step into the bathroom. He walked down the hall and leaned up against the opposite wall, arms crossed and hands cupping his elbows while he waited for Xavier to emerge. A few moments later when the door opened and Xav looked up and smiled at him he almost lost his nerve. He took a deep breath. “Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?”

Xavier took in Drew’s stance, noted the slightly nervous tone and determined expression and thought, uh-oh. His smile didn’t fade but his eyes took on a slightly more guarded cast. “Sure, sweetheart. What’s on your mind?”

Drew tilted his head, indicating they should move somewhere more private and Xavier followed him down the hall a ways further. They stepped through an open door into the now empty den.

“Please don’t tell me you’re secretly in love with me and want to run away. That might complicate things,” Xavier joked.

Drew didn’t even crack a smile, and Xavier had to wonder how bad this was going to be.

“Xav…I don’t want to stir up any shit, but can you… couldn’t you just leave Jonathan alone?” There, he said it.

Xavier blinked at him, for once no immediate response coming to mind. Then the surprise settled into confusion. “Um…ok. Drew, what’s this about?”

“Nothing. I just…just don’t want you taking him home again, ok?”

Xavier’s expression softened a bit. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, because he could tell Drew was a little upset, but he couldn’t resist teasing him a little. “Well honey, if you’re jealous I could ask Vince if you can come with us, too.”

Drew rolled his eyes. “I’m not jealous.”

Xav grinned. “Sounds like it to me.”

“I’m not.” Drew said, exasperated. “Look, just don’t, ok? Leave him alone. Don’t you have enough to choose from?”

Xavier arched a brow at him. While he was perfectly willing to grant his request if it was bothering him, now he felt like being contrary. “Drew, what’s the problem? You didn’t mind before.”

Drew stared at him for a moment, wishing now that he hadn’t gotten into this. He sighed. “He came home after being with you and was so upset he started snapping at everyone and was just an emotional mess. I don’t want him upset like that, and I don’t want you to use him like that.”

Xavier went very still, his expression frozen and for a moment they just stared at each other. Drew finally looked away, feeling uneasy. “Xav…”

“Fine.” Xavier cut him off tersely. “I’ll stay away from him. Happy?”

“Xav, I didn’t mean…”

“I said fine.” Xav snapped. “Get lost, Drew.”

Drew looked at him again, thought about saying something more and thought better of it looking at his shuttered eyes and hard expression. “Okay…thanks,” he murmured and turned quickly to leave. He hurried back down the hall.

“Yeah, sure. No fuckin problem,” Xavier muttered to the empty room. Instead of going back out to rejoin the others, he crossed the room to the window and looked out over the back garden. He crossed his arms and leaned against the window enclosure. He hadn’t used Jonathan. Not anymore than Jonathan had used him. They both wanted each other and went off to go fuck like mad and then return to their normally scheduled lives. What was the big deal?

Sitting in the corner with Der and Brandon, Vincent hadn’t missed all the comings and goings. When Drew reappeared, looking fetching in his suit but as if someone had just slipped ice down his back, Vincent waved him over.

“My kestrel.” He waited until Drew’s hand settled in his. “Someone has upset you.”

Not for the first time, not even the hundredth, Drew cursed his inability to keep whatever he was feeling off his face. No matter how hard he tried, if he was angry, or upset, or horny it was like a beacon turned on to broadcast exactly what he was feeling. He leaned close to Vince’s ear, knowing already that saying ‘nothing’ was wrong would not be accepted as an answer. “Can we talk about it later? It’s not a big deal.”

“All right, my love. As you wish.” Vincent pulled Drew into his lap and wrapped his arms around him.

Victor had already had enough of socializing. True, he was fond of almost everyone there but after Elric’s memoriam, he felt raw and emotionally drained. Not really the right state for him to be in to engage people in light conversation. He left Cody chatting with Quinn and wandered down the hall for a few minutes of quiet…

…and came upon a too familiar scene. Xav with his arms wrapped tight around himself, staring out the window.

“Xav? Sweets? What’s wrong?”

“Huh? Oh, hi Vic.” Xavier said, looking up, obviously coming back from somewhere distant. “What’s up?”

“What’s the matter?”

Xav lifted one slender shoulder in a shrug. “Nothing. Just thinking.”

 

“Mm, yes, I see that much.” Vic stepped over to stand beside him and share the view of the garden.

 

This time both shoulders went up, the shrug a little more defensive and his arms still wrapped around him tightly. “Really, Vic. It’s nothing. I don’t want to… I don’t want any kinda problems stirred up, especially not here and not today. Anything like that happens and you know everyone will think it’s all my fault, right?”

 

“Well, it generally is,” Vic answered deadpan. He turned to Xavier and opened his arms when his teasing fell flat. “Come here, sweets. God. Telling me what’s wrong isn’t ‘stirring up’ anything. There’s no one else here. Just you and me.”

 

Xav hesitated only a moment, and then leaned closer, letting Vic’s strong arms close around him. It felt so good he relaxed a little more against him, turning his face to lay his cheek against his chest and suddenly he felt his throat close up like he was about to cry or something. It was ridiculous. There was nothing to cry about.

 

“Drew asked me to stay away from Jonathan, that’s all.” He murmured, feeling like he was six years old tattling on the class bully, which was even more ridiculous because it was Drew, who couldn’t bully his way out of a paper bag if he had to. “He thinks I used him. Dave did, too. And since Drew said he was upset when he went home, Jonathan thinks so, too.”

 

“There now, that wasn’t so hard,” Vic murmured into the top of his head as he held that lean body tight. “Though I do think you’re jumping to conclusions. Evidently so did Drew. Jonathan gets upset about a lot of things. Most of them having to do with things he doesn’t want to remember. It may or may not have had anything to do with you.”

 

He stroked Xavier’s hair. “And this whole ‘using people’ nonsense you keep getting so hung up on…everyone uses other people. To greater or lesser degrees. I think what upsets you is that you’re not always quite sure why.”

 

Xavier frowned slightly but he didn’t pull away. Even if Jonathan hadn’t gotten upset because of him, and even if Drew was making assumptions, that didn’t explain why Dave had questioned his motives for bringing Jonathan home. He remembered Dave quite venomously accusing him of using that guy they’d ended up picking up on the ski trip. He’d pretty much accused him of the same thing again, albeit more gently this time.

 

He lifted his head and looked up at Vic. “Well then why are they all acting like I did something wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong, I followed all the rules, and I still get treated like a fuck up.”

 

Victor took his face between his hands, his dark eyes sad and tired. “Has Jonathan said you upset him?”

 

Xavier shook his head.

 

“And has David implied, said, or acted in any way that makes you think he is anything but concerned for you?”

 

“That’s just it, Vic. He’s concerned.” Xav blinked and the teardrops clinging to his lashes finally fell. He took a ragged breath. “He goes out and finds someone else and it’s a mistake, he just let his libido get in the way. I bring home someone he knows, someone he’s ok with, and it’s gotta be because there something wrong with me. Like I wanna get back at him, or I wanna drown everything out with sex.”

 

“Xav…” Vic pulled him close again and let him cry. The problem was that with Xavier, both of those things were probably true on some level. But that was an issue for his therapist, not for a well-meaning friend. “You might recall that he tried to kill himself over his ‘mistake’, my sweet. It’s not as if he just shrugged it off. And if he worries over your motives, it’s partly because his own can get pretty tangled.”

 

~*~

 

Drew put his head on Vince’s shoulder. He was silent for a while, watching the room. As the minutes started to slip by and Xavier didn’t reappear he thought about getting up and going to find him. He kept thinking about how he looked, eyes slightly hooded, a blank stare. He’d thought Xav had been pissed, but…maybe he’d been hurt. The more he thought about it the more he fidgeted and chewed on his bottom lip and fidgeted some more. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore and heaved a sigh. “I think I hurt Xavier’s feelings,” he blurted out to Vince.

 

“Ah.” Vincent’s hand stroked his back in soothing circles. “And why would you do such a thing, my love?”

 

“I-I didn’t mean to.” Drew said, his cheeks heating now with shame. “I just…I asked him to leave Jonathan alone.” He said so softly even Vince had to strain to hear.

 

“Drew, my darling, my own…” Vincent kissed his cheek with a little sigh. “If such a thing were necessary, who do you think would be the most appropriate person to say it?”

 

“I know…I know. But, I wanted him to leave him alone. Jonathan doesn’t think he did anything wrong, and you don’t think he did anything wrong, but I know something wasn’t right, I know Jonathan came home upset and he felt like Xav used him or something. I just didn’t want him to see him upset again.”

 

Vincent wondered if another Dom would have been angry at such a breach of authority. Probably. Most likely. He simply felt…what? A little sad, a bit tired, perhaps. He smoothed a curl out of Drew’s eyes. “I love you,” he murmured. “I love that you want to slay dragons for Jonathan. To protect him and keep his heart safe. But perhaps if Jonathan was hurt by what Xavier did, it should be Jonathan who says so.”

 

Drew slid his arms around Vince’s neck and buried his face at the side of his throat. “I’m sorry, Vince.”

 

“My love, I’m not angry with you. And you’ve done nothing to hurt me.”

 

Drew pulled back to look at him. “Should I go… should I say something to him?”

 

Vincent kissed him softly. “I suppose that depends on what you say.”

 

“I’m sorry? I didn’t mean it? Please don’t be a bitch and snap my head off?” Drew cleared his throat. “Well, not that last part.”

 

“Not a bad start.” Vincent gave him a little smile and a nudge. “Though, the last I looked, I’m not Xavier.”

 

“Thank god,” Drew said under his breath. “Or we’d be in big trouble.” He kissed Vince and rose, taking a deep breath as if girding himself, and headed back out and down the hall where he’d last seen Xav.

 

The door to the den was still open and Drew stepped in, at first only seeing Vic’s broad back and just as he thought he’d ask him if he’d seen Xav, he turned slightly and saw that he had him in his arms. He also saw that Xav had his hand up over his face and his shoulders were hunched and… oh, god, Drew felt about as low as he could get. Damn.

 

His face crumpled and drained of color as he moved closer. Both Vic and Xav heard him and turned at the same time. “Xav… I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it.”

 

Xavier swiped an arm over his eyes and glared back at him. “I told you it was fine, Drew. Just go away.”

 

“No, it’s not fine. I didn’t have any right to speak for Jonathan. I’m really sorry.”

 

“Oh, so the first time you weren’t really sorry?” Xavier said, just to be spiteful.

 

Drew took it in stride, though. “I meant it both times. Please Xav, it was a stupid, shitty thing to say. I was a total jerk to even bring it up. I know you wouldn’t hurt Jonathan on purpose.”

 

There was a tense few moments and then Xavier sighed. “Yeah. You’re a stupid jerk. Aren’t we all.” He lifted his arm and made a beckoning gesture until Drew came over and he put his arm around his shoulders, bringing him into the circle of Vic’s arms as well.

 

Victor heaved a shaky sigh as he wrapped them both close. This better be the end of the drama tonight. I can’t take any more. “Stupid jerks or not, our hearts are in the right place.” He kissed the top of Xavier’s head and then Drew’s. “You’re good boys. There are reasons why people love you that have nothing to do with the physical.”

 

He gave them a few minutes since they both clung to him fiercely. “Now, then. I know several people who might get worried and come looking for the two of you. And here I am with you snuggled in my arms. From a territorial standpoint, how do you think that would look?”

 

“Dave would want to know if anything was going on, then watch, or join.” Xavier said without batting an eye.

 

Drew nodded. “Yep. Jonathan too.”

 

“Hm, four beautiful boys, all for me,” Vic said with a wistful sigh. “Nice thought, maybe another night.” He gave them each a little smack on the butt and sent them on their way.

 

Drew and Xavier walked back in together, but separated almost immediately. Xav, because he wanted to go see Dave, and Drew because he saw Vince and Jonathan talking and walked over to them.

 

Neither one asked if everything was settled since the entrance together said it all. Jonathan wrapped his arms around Drew and pulled him close, though he murmured to Vincent, “Look, Vince, my own knight in shining. Can we keep him?”

 

Dave turned from where he was talking with Ethan. “Hey, sweets! What’s–” He broke off and took Xavier’s face between his hands. “Love? You’ve been…” His eyes hardened as he asked, “Who made you cry?”

 

“Nearly everyone here’s been crying. It was a sad thing.” Xavier evaded.

 

Dave’s eyes told him a storm was brewing and he wasn’t buying it. Xavier sighed. “Not the time or the place, hon. And I’m alright, so please, later. OK?”

 

“I don’t much fucking care about time and place,” Dave growled, so low no one else could hear. “Someone’s hurt you and he’s gonna pay for it.”

 

“Christ, Dave,” Xav muttered under his breath. He looked around at the room full of people. “C’mon then.” He took Dave’s hand and led him out. He headed toward the conservatory where at least it would be private and quiet. They walked and he told him about what Drew had said, and that he’d already apologized.

 

Drew…well, that put a damper on Dave’s fire. He listened, wide-eyed, and slid swiftly from ferocity to pensiveness. He stopped at a bench and sank down, staring at his hands.

 

“Well, I guess I can’t really slug the little guy. I mean, not again.” He looked up at Xavier who still stood, arms wrapped around himself. “Especially since…it wasn’t just Drew who made you cry, was it?”

 

Xav sank down next to him and pulled his heels up onto the edge of the bench, wrapping his arms around his legs so he could rest his chin on his knees. “No. I guess not,” he finally said.

 

“And here I was all set to go after that Hawthorn creep. I was so sure it was him.” Dave rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. “And it’s me instead.”

 

He let out a hollow bark of laughter that made Xav wince, surged up and started pacing, his hands scrubbing through his hair. “Fuck, fuck, fuck…dammit, Xav, even when I’m trying to do the right things, I hurt you.”

 

Xavier closed his eyes, suddenly very tired. “Yeah, and you’ll probably do it again. And I’ll probably do something to hurt you again. It’s just how things go.” He opened his eyes again. “It’s not your fault, Dave. Maybe Vic is right. Maybe I get so upset ‘cause you hit too close to the truth and I just don’t see it right away. Or don’t want to see it.” He stayed just as he was, arms wrapped tightly around his up drawn legs. For a moment or two he felt like he was going to cry again but he swallowed it down and blinked any tears back. He didn’t want to upset Dave anymore than he was.

 

“Xav…don’t…” Dave got out in a choked voice and flung himself back onto the bench to wrap Xavier in a fierce embrace. “Don’t shut down, swallow everything whole. I’m here… I’m here… I love you so. I worry…I’m sorry…I can’t help it. I’ve spent most of my life worrying. And sometimes the stuff you do is gonna mean something and sometimes… sometimes a banana is just, you know, a banana.”

 

Xavier put his head on Dave’s shoulder, his face pressed against the side of his throat. He made a strangled sound, half chuckle, half sob, at what Dave said. He took a shuddering breath. When he lifted his head, he brought a hand to Dave’s cheek, fingers caressing lightly. He touched his lips to Dave’s in a tender kiss, and another, softly seeking more.

 

A little moan, as much relief as desire, rose from Dave’s chest. He cupped the back of Xav’s head and tilted for a better angle, tongue caressing Xavier’s lips in a silent plea. Xav opened for him, their tongues caressing slowly. There was no desperation, no guilty, hurried spark of lust. Instead, the tender heat grew slowly, building on soft touches and sweet murmurs.

 

“I love you…” Xav murmured between breathless, heated kisses.

 

Dave pulled back, his eyes wandering over the beauty of Xavier’s face. “And I love you, sweets.” He combed through Xav’s hair. “But you were right about time and place. It does seem kinda…disrespectful to take you here, in his orchid garden, after his eulogy and everything. Maybe we should make it an early evening, though, yeah? And when we get home, you can do whatever you want with me.”

 

“Anything I want, huh?” Xav said, his voice taking on that husky edge that Dave knew so well. He kissed a soft line of kisses down his jaw until his lips touched the base of Dave’s ear. “How about if I strip you naked, tie you down to the bed…” He breathed in a soft whisper. “And then paddle you until you’re brick red with a plug deep inside you…would you like that?”

 

Dave’s head fell back on a dizzy moan as all the blood rushed from his head. “Christ… yes…oh, yes.”

 

Xav took his earlobe between his teeth and nipped him, hard. “Let’s go back then, have to be polite and stay for a while, no?”

 

“Yeah,” Dave managed on a gulped breath and straightened his tie. When he stood, he held out both hands for Xav with that heartbreaking little-boy smile. “Do I get to have the gag, too?”

 

Xavier slow smile was full of seduction and heat as he slipped his hands in Dave’s and stood, but he shook his head slowly from side to side. “Oh, no… I want to hear you scream.”

 

“”K.” Dave laughed. “But you’ll have to explain things to the cops when the neighbors call them.”

 

Xav chuckled. “Well, maybe just a little gag.”

 

“Oh, good,” Dave stage-whispered to the nearest orchid. “He does love me.”

 

Back in the massive dining room, Orion kissed his Dom’s cheek and left his side to wander across the room. Ethan stood talking to Cody, with Quinn tucked under his arm, Cricket lying at their feet. Orion crouched down to pet the pretty dog. He did love dogs, though he knew the Prince would never allow one to live with them. Too messy.

 

Cricket thumped his tail but otherwise stayed where he was, giving Orion’s hand a little nuzzle and a lick of greeting.

 

“Keit told me you hand-carved the frames for the pictures of the Prince’s family, Orion. They are really beautifully done,” Ethan said with the warm appreciation of someone who understood working with their hands and the genuine craftsmanship involved.

 

Orion raised his head, a hint of anxiety lurking in his bright blue eyes. “Thank you, sir. Could I…speak to you a moment?”

 

Ethan’s smile was kindness itself. “Of course. Here, or is it private?”

 

“I…suppose it doesn’t make much difference.” Orion shifted to one knee, his gaze returning to Cricket as he went on, unaware how much the supplicant he looked. “Your house, sir…it has beach access, doesn’t it?”

 

“Yes, it does.”

 

“I’d like to….to use it as a staging point. For…” He heaved a breath. “For Jake’s farewell.”

 

“Sure you can, Orion. Is there anything Quinn and I can do to help?”

 

Orion shook his head, struggling. Just saying Jake’s name still caused him to break down. Dear God, would it always be that way? “Not until then,” he finally forced out. “I may need help…carrying something.”

 

“All right.” Ethan said. “You just let us know when.”

 

The little gathering began to break up around ten. Dave and Xavier had left first, which was a little surprising, but Der had seen the embers smoldering in Dave’s eyes and decided it wasn’t surprising after all.

 

Now he stood in the front hall with his mother, just the two of them, wishing her a good night.

 

“Do you really like him, Mutti?” he asked softly, feeling twelve years old again.

 

“Oh, he’ll do, I suppose,” she said with that too-serious face. When he rolled his eyes, she laughed. “Yes, yes, I like him. He’s able to laugh at himself. And he adores you. Much better than that T–”

 

“Don’t, Mom, please,” Der interrupted softly. “No comparisons.”

 

She leaned in to kiss his cheek. “I’m sorry, sweetpea. If this is more than just a fling, I’m very pleased.”

 

“You think Papa would have liked him?” Der couldn’t help the question.

 

“I think he would have preferred you pick the nice, handsome vet.” She smiled at his exasperated sound. “He would have teased you and grumbled about this and that, but, yes, I think he would have liked Brandon very much.”

 

Der stood at the door and waved as she drove off, a warm glow around his heart.

 

 

 

Chapter 283 – Welcome Home

“You sure you’re up to this, babes?” Jonathan stopped his whirlwind progress through the condo to crouch by Vincent. “You still look kinda…”

Vincent arched a brow at him. “Kind of what? Dreadful? Like death riding in from a late night carnival?”

“Um, no. I was thinking more along the lines of ‘tired’.”

“Ah.” Vincent lay back against the sofa cushions. “Well, since I have you as my personal event manager, I have no need to even get off the sofa, do I?”

“Ducking the question, oh Prince of Dragons,” Jonathan said in a dry tone.

“I’m fine, beloved. Yes, I’m still tired but the need for ceremony outweighs such things. And we’ve only invited family.”

Jonathan chuckled and returned to his preparations for Drew‘s homecoming. ‘Family’ ended up at about twenty-five people but he knew what Vincent meant. Everyone coming was someone they felt close to, all comfortable, old friends along with Drew’s actual kin since his mother would be coming, too. Der actually got the honor of bringing Drew home from the hospital. Jonathan was a little irritated about that but it couldn’t be helped. Too much to do.

#

Drew finished tying the bandana in place at the back of his head. Looking in the mirror he didn’t think anyone was going to mistake it for a simple fashion accessory. He’d dropped a few pounds and his normally pale complexion looked almost translucent. With his hair gone he looked like a cancer patient. He actually felt better, but he still looked sick. He was going to have a hard time convincing Jonathan not to mother him. He stepped out of the bathroom, switched off the light and found he had company.

“Hey tiger, I hear the warden granted you a pardon,” Phil said.

“Yeah. Going home today,” Drew confirmed. “What are you doing down here? Don’t you have some nut cases to take care of?”

“Like I said, I heard you were getting a pass, so I came to say goodbye. The inmates can hold their own for a few minutes,” Phil said. “Vincent coming to get you?”

“No, Der is. I’ll see Vince and Jonathan when I get home.”

“You take care of yourself now. Don’t go doing too much right away.”

Drew rolled his eyes. “As if Jonathan would let me.”

Phil chuckled. “Right, right. Not much chance there.”

Drew smoothed the blanket on the bed and sat on the edge. It felt a little strange to be dressed in regular clothes again. “Phil…I, um… I just wanted to say, I’m sorry. You know, for trying to…” He made a little gesture toward the bathroom, remembering how he’d stepped out of the shower and got down on his knees in front of Phil because Josh had told him to.

“Now don’t go doing that. We both know you couldn’t help yourself. I’m just that damn sexy, you couldn’t resist,” Phil said, puffing up his broad chest and doing a little strut.

Drew laughed. “OK. Well, thanks for understanding.”

The sound of chain-festooned jackboots rang in the hall, no mistaking to whom they could belong. Der’s sharp-toothed grin was so bright it got there before the rest of him. “Hey, sugar bear! Ready to blow this pop stand? Hey, Phil! Are you our official escort or do we have to wait for someone else?”

“I’m here unofficially,” Phil said.

“I already signed the release papers.” Drew bounced up to kiss Der’s cheek. “Did you bring the bike?”

“’Fraid not, sugar bear. I like my head attached to my shoulders, and I’m pretty sure Jon would take it right off if I drove you up from the hospital on my chopper.”

Drew sighed dramatically but he was smiling. He gave Phil a hug, which the big man accepted a bit awkwardly at first and then settled on a warmly paternal hug in return. They said their goodbyes and Drew and Der were on their way.

As they got close to the condo, Drew suddenly asked Der if they could stop at the park.

“I promised I’d bring you right home. People coming over and all that.”

“I know… just, can we stop for a few minutes? Please?”

Der took the next corner and eased the hearse over to the curb next to the park. “All right. Couple minutes.” He got out and jogged around to the passenger side to hand Drew out. Yes, yes, the boy said he was fine but he looked like a soft breeze would blow him away.

Drew walked slowly next to Der across the grass and to the little trail that ran around the duck pond. It was late afternoon, almost evening. The shadows were long under the trees and the temperature was cooling. They walked past the bench they had once shared when Drew had spotted Der feeding the waddlers and feeling melancholy. A little further on, they passed the place where Jonathan had found him after he’d had a bad day and almost slipped back into an old life.

He didn’t know what he was doing here, why he wasn’t rushing home to see Vince and Jonathan. He should have been overjoyed, but he felt a little anxious. He knew he was making Der a little worried, too.

He supposed he just wanted to stretch his legs a little, breathe in fresh air not tainted with hospital smells. He had joked about being an ‘inmate’, but he really had felt like that at some points. Trapped. Caged.

Der was getting antsy, Drew could tell. They’d walked quite a way already and still had to turn around and go back. Drew stopped at the other end of the pond. Hands in his pockets he stood looking down into the water. The sweater he was wearing was enough to keep off the chill, but the wind went right though it and he shivered. He saw Der about to say something and Drew beat him to it.

“What do you think happens when we die, Der?”

Der blinked and had to regroup before he could answer. Ah. So it was that kind of mood. He put a gentle arm around Drew’s shoulders to offer his solid warmth. “Well, if we’re talking about me, I’m going straight to the devil since I’ve been such a bad, bad boy.”

No little laugh came from Drew, not even a smile. Not the time for bad jokes, obviously, you idiot. Der cleared his throat and began in a pensive tone. “I’ve never died, love, so I don’t know for sure. I used to believe in heaven and hell, when I was little. But those things didn’t make sense to me as I got older.”

He curled down to kiss the top of Drew’s head. “Vincent’s theory is that spiritual matter is like physical matter. It can neither be created nor destroyed. So there is no end. Only another beginning when you die. A new start. I suppose that’s closer to what I think happens. Not like I’m one of those people who claim to remember past lives. But I think we probably had them.”

Drew gave a single small nod, but didn’t look up. “What if there’s nothing? What if this is all we get? We know we’re here, and then we’re dead, and that’s it. Nothing. We’re just…” Drew shrugged. “Worm food.”

“Drew…” Der said softly.

Drew looked up at him. “I’m sorry, Der, I’m not trying to, you know, bum you out. Really.” He took a deep breath and put his arm around Der’s waist. He started slowly walking again, back the way they’d come. “Sometimes I think people just tell themselves there’s something after this, so they don’t get depressed or scared. I want to believe there’s something. I want to think that Angela and Vince’s mom…that they got another chance…even Josh…”

Drew took another breath. Maybe he shouldn’t have walked so far after all, he was tired.

“Nobody can say for sure, you know,” Der said softly. “And anyone who says they can is either deluded or selling snake oil. But if this really is it, a one shot deal, all the more reason to make the most of it, isn’t it?”

Der swept him up in his arms when he felt Drew’s steps falter. “There’s no reason we should be here at all. It’s magic, life, that it happens in the first place. And while we’re here, there’s beauty and there’s love and sometimes people even find a little happiness.” He gave Drew a soft kiss when they reached the hearse again. “I’d say that makes it worth the price of admission.”

Drew didn’t say anything more, but he returned Der’s soft kiss before they got in and finished the ride home.

#

“What the hell is taking Schiller so long?” Jonathan asked with a scowl.

“Patience, my coyote,” Vincent said and patted his arm. “You know how hospitals can be. Discharge is not always a swift and efficient procedure. They’ll be here soon.” His voice was calm but he understood Jonathan’s mood. Everyone else had arrived except the guest of honor and there had been no call to say they would be delayed.

“I’ll just go see if I can spot them, shall I?” Anthony offered on a bright smile and dashed out the front door. Various odd thumps and thuds followed and then booted footsteps overhead.

“Vince, that lunatic’s gone up–”

“Yes, beloved, I know.” Vincent pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. “Just let him go.”

The hearse slid up to the curb a mere five minutes later and once again Der came around to help Drew out. Not that he truly needed it but it made Der feel better.

From up above somewhere, a voice belted out, “Oh, Valencia! With you blood still warm on the ground…”

Der’s gaze traveled up and spotted Mad Anthony, balanced on the roof beam. He flung one arm up and answered, “Valencia, I swear by the stars, we’ll burn this whole city down… What are you doing up there, you muttonhead?”

“Looking for you, of course. Mr. Kemp’s having kittens.”

Der sighed. “Oh, fabulous. Come down from there and guard my back.”

“For you, big guy, anything,” Anthony said with a bright grin. He half-ran, half-slid down the roof, stopped himself just short of the edge, leaped off and caught himself one handed on the eaves before he landed as gracefully as any cat.

It was probably a testament to the strangeness of his life, but Drew wasn’t at all fazed to come home to people jumping off his roof. “Hi, Anthony,” he said as they walked up to the door.

“Hey, cutie! How’re you feeling? You need anything? Nice bandana. I like the blue. Good with your eyes. Jonathan’s got lots of food. You’re probably hungry. Hospital food sucks big time–”

“Dear gods, what’s Jon been feeding you?” Der muttered. “Bowls of sugar?” He peered more closely at Anthony who grinned and ducked his head. “No, wait. I haven’t seen you this perky in weeks. You’ve been getting some…”

Any further interrogation had to wait, though, as Jonathan flung open the door. “Drew! Are you all right?”

Guilt assailed Drew for the extra half hour he’d taken before getting home, but he smiled for Jonathan and slid his arms around him. “I’m fine, sorry we took so long.”

Jonathan hugged him close and kissed his cheek, but Drew noticed he was looking at him now in almost the exact same way Der had just scrutinized Anthony. Drew grinned. “No, we didn’t make a pit stop for a quickie.” He chuckled and nuzzled under Jonathan’s chin.

“Hmph. I would hope not. Just out of surgery and all.” Jonathan turned with an arm around Drew and led him inside, pointedly leaving Der on the doorstep.

Their progress was soon blocked by people wanting to see Drew, to hug him, to tell him welcome home, Jonathan put two fingers in his mouth and whistled sharply. “Hold on, ladies and gentlemen, and make a path, please. There’s someone Drew needs to get to first.”

The little crowd parted to form a friend-lined path, opening to reveal Vincent waiting on the sofa. He held his arms out and whispered, “Drew.”

As much as Drew would have liked to fling himself into Vince’s arms, he knew it was probably not a wise idea, and Jonathan would probably faint. He settled for a modest rush and wrapped his arms tightly around his neck as he dropped into Vince’s lap.

There was a soft ‘aww’ that lasted all of two seconds before Xavier rolled his eyes and commented, “Jeez, it’s like watching puppies snuggle or something.” Which got a few chuckles and giggles and diverted enough attention that Vince and Drew could have a semi private moment or two.

“Hello, my love,” Vincent whispered, their foreheads pressed together. “It’s so good to have you home.”

In the kitchen, Der had gone to help Jonathan carry things out and found himself backed into a corner.

“You said you’d bring him right home!” Jonathan stabbed a finger at his chest. “You promised! What the hell is wrong with you? Where the hell have you been?”

A hundred smart ass things occurred to Der but something about this little assault felt off. Jonathan had been treating him like…well, like he used to, when they’d first met, ever since Drew went to the hospital.

“He wanted to stop at the park,” Der answered softly. “He was having one of those ‘what’s the meaning of life’ moments. It wasn’t more than a few minutes. Jon? What have I done to make you hate me again?”

“Don’t be stupid. I don’t hate you.”

“I take you in ‘cause you’re too scared to go home, make sure you and Vince are looked after, and you haven’t done anything but snap and snarl at me since.”

Jonathan turned his back, hands flat on the counter. “I…I didn’t…”

“Yes. Yes, you did.” Der reached out a hand and pulled it back again since he wasn’t sure how even a gentle touch would be received. “Jonathan?”

“You…he…when Vince was so sick,” Jonathan began in a low voice. “I…I slept on the floor next to him. I wanted to be near if he needed me. But I wanted…I wanted to go to you, too. And I couldn’t. Because…because…”

“Because Brandon was in the bed with me?” Now Der put a hand on his shoulder and turned him.

Jonathan nodded, bottom lip caught between his teeth. “I miss you sometimes, you dork.”

“Jon…sweetheart…I’m sorry.” He folded Jonathan into his embrace and held him tight, though he had no idea how to make it better.

Brandon paused in the hall just outside the kitchen. He’d been about to see if they needed any more help. He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop…but in a way he was glad he’d overheard before they knew he was there. Now would probably not be the best time to pop his head in. Feeling a little strange he quietly went back the way he’d come with Jon and Der none the wiser.

Shouldn’t he be upset that his boyfriend was trying to comfort his lover for not paying enough attention to him? Instead of being angry though, he felt bad for keeping Jonathan away. God, sometimes this was just so fucking confusing.

Jonathan heaved a breath and pushed back gently. “Christ, I’m sorry. You finally have someone who makes you happy and Drew’s home and everyone should be happy and I act like a bitch.” He waved a hand fretfully. “Don’t pay any attention to me. Too much stress.”

Though Der didn’t think it would help to just let things go at that, Jonathan was right about one thing. This was Drew’s day. He picked up a tray in either hand and let Jonathan put on his charming host face and pretend nothing had happened.

Out in the living room, Vincent trailed gentle fingers over Drew’s cheek. “Are there headaches, my kestrel? Are you feeling relatively well?”

“The headaches aren’t bad,” Drew said. “Dr. Lassiter says they’re normal. My head is sore though, like I clunked it on something and got the biggest goose egg in the world.”

“I suppose it’s a small price to pay for being able to see the world as it is again,” Vincent said softly. “I like being me in your eyes again and not someone else.”

Der put the trays down and was about to go over to Anthony to find out who he’d been seeing. Cold waves of panic washed over him when he saw Anthony lean down to whisper in Sasha’s ear and kiss his cheek. Jerrett was standing right there, for gods’ sakes. Anthony was trying to get his handsome nose bashed in.

With every intent of preventing a tragedy, Der started across the room, and then stopped in confusion. Jerrett had seen the interaction, leaned over to put an arm around Anthony’s shoulders with a sensual smile, and pulled MA in for a searing kiss.

“The things people don’t tell me,” Der grumbled to himself and went to find Brandon instead.

He found Bran off to the side a bit with Xavier in a seemingly intimate conversation.

They had their heads together a little too close to be engaged in just friendly chatting, which was almost more alarming than seeing Anthony with Sasha a moment ago. A quick scan of the room placed Dave preoccupied talking with Jonathan. Worse, when Der walked up they both clammed up for a second, and then got nearly identical expressions of nervous innocence.

“Hey big guy, watcha up to?” Xav asked with a smile.

“About two meters or so on a good day,” Der answered, his forehead creasing. “You know, I’m beginning to feel like the man who fell to Earth today. I don’t seem to quite be making the right communication connections anymore. You think maybe something might be broken? Signals not getting through?”

“It happens sometimes.” Xav said. “I’m sure it’ll work itself out. I’ll see you guys later.”

Brandon watched him go. He knew Der was waiting for him to say something, but he really didn’t want to get into it. Xav and him had been talking about some of the difficulties of making open relationships work. It wasn’t that he didn’t want Der to know what they’d been talking about, he’d just wanted another person’s perspective.

Brandon slipped his hand in Der’s and kissed his cheek. “You okay?”

“No, by all the gods, no I’m not,” Der growled, though his fingers tightened around Brandon’s. “Drew wants me to tell him where we go when we die and then Anthony looks like he’s swallowed a whole flock of canaries and doesn’t tell me anything and then Jonathan tells me he doesn’t hate me after all, he misses me and why isn’t anyone talking to me in sensible sentences anymore?”

Brandon sighed, but it was directed at himself. “I’m sorry Der, I wasn’t trying to keep anything from you, sweetheart. I just needed a few minutes to think. I overheard you and Jonathan in the kitchen…” He paused. “I didn’t want to make anything worse, by walking in.” He paused again. “Maybe…maybe you should stay here tonight?”

Der flung up his hands in a gesture of helpless frustration and in an uncharacteristic moment of pique, stalked out to the patio to be alone. No one, but no one, not even his sensible, solid Brandon was making any damn sense. He flung himself into a chair, pulled a beer out of the cooler, flicked the top off with a claw and sulked.

Brandon sighed again, but didn’t go after him. He was still sensible enough to know when a man needed some space.

“What did you do?”

Xavier looked at Jonathan with wide eyes and put an offended hand to his chest. “Me? What makes you think I did something?”

“You were talking to Brandon, now Der’s out on the patio pouting.”

“Jonathan, I swear, I didn’t start anything. I didn’t even give Brandon any advice. Didn’t have time to. If Der’s upset it’s not anything I did.”

“Right. Such an innocent. Even if you didn’t do it yourself, your fingers are so in it,” Jonathan said with a little snort. For a moment Jonathan debated going out after Der himself. Something about that didn’t seem like a good idea, though.

He glanced over at the sofa. Drew and Vincent were still wrapped in each others’ arms, sharing a moment of soft laughter. Oh, that did his heart good to see the two of them smiling. They needed their peace for a moment more, too.

Instead, he sauntered over to Brandon. “Hey.” He nodded towards the lanky figure sprawled in the patio chair. “Big guy all right?”

Brandon opened his mouth, seemed to switch whatever he’d been about to say, and said, “I don’t know.” He sagged a bit with worry. “He’s mad because nobody’s making sense to him today.”

“Oh. Crap.” Jonathan took a long drink of water. “Here I am trying to blame Xav and I’m probably the one who upset him, huh?”

Brandon cleared his throat. “Well, it’s probably not just one thing. I think he’s had a tough day.” He glanced out and watched Der studiously not looking inside. “I suggested he stay here tonight and he acted like I suggested he move out or something. I didn’t mean it as a bad thing.”

Jonathan gave him an odd, sideways look. So that was it. “OK, let’s see if I got what happened here. You have Der all to yourself for, what? Two nights? And then you hear me whining to him in the kitchen, right? So you get all confused and think you’re doing a good thing and he feels like you’re shoving him away when he needs you to unconfuse him. Sound about right?”

“No.” Brandon said, although it was obvious Jonathan hit it on the head. “Shouldn’t you go apologize to Xavier?” he suggested.

“Oh, hell, no. I’m sure he did something he needs to be blamed for today.” But Jonathan took the hint and moved off in that direction anyway.

Brandon stepped out onto the patio, snagged a bottle of beer from the cooler and sat down next to Der. “Hey there,” he said hesitantly. “I, uh, didn’t mean to chase you off, hon.”

Der waved a clawed hand in his general direction, his moment of anger quickly sinking into melancholy. “S’alright, hon. I know…what you were trying to do. I think. And I should be really happy today, shouldn’t I? It just feels like I’ve made a mess of everything right now. I can’t seem to piece things together. Maybe I’m just tired.”

“Luckily I know the perfect remedy for too much tension,” Brandon said with a far too serious expression, which he then ruined with a lecherous grin.

Der managed half a smile though he didn’t exactly rise to the bait. “You are, without a doubt, the best remedy for relieving all sorts of things. Stress. Tension. Headaches. Bouts of depression. But it doesn’t help me solve what I’m wrestling with right now.”

He took a pull from his beer, then stared down into it. “Bran? How do you feel about Jonathan?”

Brandon’s eyes lifted, sort of a casual glance around to make sure they weren’t being overheard. “He, um, reminds me of one of my ex’s,” he answered, perhaps a bit too honestly. “It’s the fussiness.” He cleared his throat. “I like Jonathan, though.” He paused. “It made me feel bad for him, that he misses you.”

A little chuckle rumbled in Der’s chest. “The fussiness…yes, well. It’s partly a front, when he doesn’t want to deal with something and it’s partly a way of keeping his world in order. It’s no secret; Jonathan was an addict before he met Vincent. Rushing down a long, dark hallway to horror and oblivion. Keeping things in order helps him…keep on track, if you like.”

He reached over for Brandon’s hand. “I don’t want him to miss me. And I don’t want you to feel bad. And I don’t want you to miss me. What I want…” What did he want? His problem had always been that he wanted everything. Which flavor? Yes. Red or blue? Both. “I’d like you to be comfortable with each other. Enough that one doesn’t feel like they have to leave the room for the other.”

Brandon blinked. “You think I’m… I’m not uncomfortable around him. Do I seem that way?” he asked, genuinely surprised. “Or, do you mean he’s not comfortable with me? That, I can see. I don’t know how to fix that, Der. I thought when they were staying with us that…that he’d get used to me, but it didn’t seem to happen.”

Actually Brandon got the impression that Jonathan had to suppress a flinch every time he talked to him. He had no idea why. He didn’t consider himself all that intimidating, and he’d gone out of his way to try and be casual and friendly with Jonathan.

“Ah. Now, as to that.” Der heaved a slow breath. “That has more to do with history than it does with you, love. You’re tall, dark and handsome, and, no, I’m not kissing up. You are. Broad-shouldered. Strong. Unfortunately, Jonathan suffered long-term abuse and finally a kidnapping and near deadly beating at the hands of someone who shares many of your physical features. Now, never mind that you don’t share any other damned thing with this bastard, Pretty Jon can’t help the twitch. It’s almost hardwired.”

Der’s fingers drummed restlessly on his bottle. “He doesn’t react that way around Vic. But he’s known Victor for years and through a lot of shit. I think it’s a matter of…familiarity. Of having other associations. And he really has always kept a polite distance with you. Maybe the three of us should have dinner later in the week. And we’ll see if we can’t make things better.”

“Sure, Der. Although, I don’t think there’s going to be a sudden change of heart on his part, you know? If you’re right, I think it might just take time. I meant what I said, though. If you want to stay, spend some time with them… I do understand.”

Of course, by ‘dinner’ Der was hoping there might be more than just going out to eat but he kept that to himself for the moment. “Not tonight, love.” He lifted Brandon’s hand to kiss his fingers. “They need their time tonight. Drew needs his rest and his Dom and his Jonathan and they don’t need any interference, even from me.”

Brandon saw the logic of that, and he couldn’t say he was unhappy about it at all.

“Hey, sweetie.” Jonathan slid onto the sofa on Drew’s other side and wrapped his arms around him gently. “What can I get for you?”

Drew leaned back into him and closed his eyes, resting his head on Jonathan’s shoulder. “I got everything I need.” Which was a corny as hell thing to say, but Drew didn’t care. It was true.

Jonathan drew in an uneven breath. It felt so damn good to hold the boy again. “You say the sweetest damn things,” he murmured and kissed the top of Drew’s ear. “But you have to be starving. You need to eat some real food.”

“Don’t move, J, you stay right where you are.” Cody appeared before them with a huge plate of carefully selected items, little sandwiches, cucumber and carrot slices, and the bacon wrapped scallops Drew liked. He set the plate on the coffee table in front of them. “Drew looks so comfy, so sit still for once in your life and enjoy the moment.”

“Thanks, Codes,” Jonathan said with a soft smile. Family, yes, it was nice to have family around at a time like this.

Drew ate, but more because it made Jonathan happy than because he had any real appetite. Although, it was certainly worlds better than hospital food. Filling his belly had an unwanted side effect. He was yawning by the time he finished. They had a house full of people who had come to see him, to wish him well, and he could hardly keep his eyes open.

Victor and Elric had their heads together across the room. Katya soon joined them in low, earnest conversation. Victor snagged Ethan as he wandered by, Elric beckoned Jerrett over and Der was flagged down as he came back inside. It all looked rather official and ominous, this heads-of-household conference.

Finally, Elric broke from the group and approached the sofa. He placed a hand over his heart and offered Vincent a little bow of courtesy. “Brüderlein, ve are honored thet you chose us to be here vith you on this joyful day. But ve are in agreement and vill not be persuaded othervise.” He waved towards the group of Doms, who formed a steadfast and unanimous wall. “Ve hef decided not to overstay our velcome so thet you may hef the rest of your evening in peace and privacy.”

“Oh, sir, you don’t have to,” Jonathan protested. “I mean, I could put Drew to bed and–”

“I don’t believe I invited debate,” Elric said with a chill smile. He looked over at the group. “Did I?”

They all shook their heads as one, far too stern and serious, the lot of them.

Vincent chuckled. “Very well then, we surrender to such a well-coordinated conspiracy. And we’ll have a proper party at some later date when everyone feels better rested.” He gathered his crutches and rose to make the rounds, to thank everyone for coming.

Drew was uncomfortably embarrassed that he’d lasted only an hour before looking like he might keel over, but way down he was relieved that this little gathering was being cut short. He was more exhausted than he’d thought he would be.

Everyone came to wish Drew well before they left with lots of hugs and kisses, even a quick peck from Jerrett, which raised a few eyebrows. Der and Brandon waited until last and Der came down on one knee by the sofa to gather Drew close.

“You’re home, safe and sound, sugar bear,” he said softly. “You feel a little better now?”

Drew had his arms wrapped around Der, his face nuzzled up to the crook of his neck. He breathed in his scent, warm skin and the leather smell of his jacket. “Yeah, I feel better.”

“Good.” Der pulled back to give him a soft kiss. “Me, too. You sleep tight, sugar bear. I’ll call you tomorrow.” He turned to kiss Vincent goodnight as well and then rose, swept Jonathan up in his arms and planted a ravenous kiss on his lips. “You hold onto that, pretty Jon. We’ll talk later.”

He put a stunned Jonathan down, took Brandon’s hand and left.

“Dammit, why does he have to be so weird sometimes?” Jonathan grumbled.

“Maybe he misses you.” Drew said, completely unaware of the irony of this statement. He yawned again. “I think I’m gonna go lay down.” He said, because it was really way to early to say he was ‘going to bed’. He kissed Jonathan and Vince and got up, heading for the bedroom.

“Would you mind terribly if I did as well, beloved?” Vincent asked as he watched Drew walk away.

“Go on, babes, you’re barely keeping your feet,” Jonathan said softly. “I’ll just put the food away and finish cleaning up in the morning.”

“Don’t be long.” A hint of a smile tugged at Vincent’s mouth and he followed Drew down the hall.

They hadn’t discussed it, but Drew instinctively headed for the master bedroom rather than his own. Vincent followed slowly, one crutch at a time, too tired to swing himself along as he normally would. “You don’t mind, my kestrel, if I lie down with you?”

Drew smiled as he pulled his clothes off and threw them in the hamper. “I was hoping you would, but it’s so early I didn’t want to ask.” He pulled back the covers and slid between the sheets.

“I’m afraid I’ve been spending almost as much time in bed as you have lately,” Vincent said as he eased down onto the mattress with a sigh. “Though it’s much better to have company.”

He toed off his slippers, glad he hadn’t bothered with socks, pulled his shirt off over his head without undoing the buttons and hoisted himself up on the bed to shimmy out of his jeans. He left the boxer briefs on, a wave of heated impatience taking hold of him. He simply had to have his skin against Drew’s without another moment’s delay.

Drew was only too happy to snuggle close. He was so tired of sleeping alone in an uncomfortable hospital bed. He tried to think of the last time he’d slept with Vince and couldn’t remember, he’d been so…weird before he’d finally freaked out and went into the hospital. The thought suddenly hit him that it had been quite a while since he’d had any sort of intimate contact.

He breathed Vince in, holding him close as his hand drifted over his skin. He had been so tired, he was still tired, but his body was responding to Vince’s warmth and closeness anyway.

Vincent’s throat tightened. He had been so afraid he would never have this again. The times when Drew’s eyes had radiated such unreasoning rage or looked at him with dread and panic had nearly made his heart shatter. He buried his face against Drew’s shoulder, his hand stealing up the back of his neck to stroke his scalp where just the slightest hint of fuzz had begun to grow.

He lifted his head, trying to control the hitch in his breath, and pressed his lips to Drew’s in a tender, searching kiss.

Drew returned the kiss with tender warmth, his lips moved softly over Vince’s, his graceful fingers stroking lightly along Vince’s chest. He thought he knew why Vince’s breath was catching in his throat, and he did not need to ask what was wrong. Instead he concentrated on making sure Vince knew he was here with him wholly and reconnecting with him after they’d been through so much. “I love you,” he whispered between slow kisses.

“Drew…my Drew…” Vincent murmured against his skin as he moved his kisses down his jaw. “I love you so.”

He turned to press them closer, chest to chest, thigh to thigh. His hands wandered down the contours of Drew’s back to cup his lovely butt, pulling him in tighter so their shafts rubbed together. The heat was only beginning to rise, a comfortable warmth, but Vincent knew it wouldn’t take long.

“Hey,” Jonathan’s voice came from the doorway. “Oh, so not fair starting without me.”

“We were just keeping the bed warm.” Drew said, placating. “Come join us,” he suggested, sliding his hand down Vince’s body to stroke the stiffening member rising under his touch.

The way Vincent moaned in response almost made Jonathan faint as the blood all did a sprint from his head. His hands shook as he tore off his clothes, which he draped over the chair but didn’t bother to fold for once. His stomach trembled with need and desire too long denied as he slipped in under the sheets behind Drew.

“So hot,” he whispered against Drew’s shoulders as he licked and kissed. Straight from the hospital, Drew didn’t quite smell like Drew yet but he didn’t care. He rubbed against Drew’s ass, Vincent’s hand finding his cock in the bargain. “Oh…god…missed you so much…”

Drew groaned and pressed back into Jonathan. “I missed you, too,” he whispered heatedly. The slow and tender warmth he and Vince had been building suddenly seemed as if they’d just been waiting for the third in their triad to set the spark to such carefully laid and ready tinder. Drew bent his head to lick and suck at Vince’s nipple, his fingers curling around his erection and stroking more firmly.

Vincent’s hips rocked in time with the strokes. “Drew…oh…” he gasped out.

“Tsk.” Jonathan reached over and stilled Drew’s fingers. “Getting Vince all out of breath. You know he hasn’t been well.”

He rolled Drew onto his back and pulled him down until his head was almost level with Vincent’s crotch.

“Beloved, what are you thinking of?” Vincent asked with a chuckle.

Jonathan leaned over Drew to give him a scorching kiss. “I want to please you both at once. I’ll do all the work. You two can lie back and relax. Please?”

“All right, since you’ve asked so politely,” Vincent said as he rolled to his back.

“Oh, good.” Jonathan began by running his hands over both bodies laid out before him, kissing and licking here and there. He spread Drew’s thighs and dove between to lick at his balls while he reached in the nightstand drawer for the lube.

Drew shivered under Jonathan’s caresses and spread his legs farther in invitation. “God, I want you…” Drew said in a needy murmur. His hand moved to his own cock for a few sensual strokes, both because it felt good, and because he knew Jonathan liked the view.

“Mmm,” Jonathan purred, his eyes, full of heat and tender mischief, traveling up to meet Drew’s. He licked along Drew’s fingers while his own lube coated finger teased at Drew’s back door.

Vincent shoved pillows behind his head, content to watch, knowing he wouldn’t be forgotten.

Drew hissed a little breath and a heated moan escaped him as Jonathan slid his fingers into his tight passage. Oh yes, it had been awhile. Jonathan’s two fingers were squeezed tightly and Drew thought he was going to melt with the pleasure of it. His head turned and he nuzzled at Vince’s hip, despite Jonathan wanting him to just lie back and relax. He was so stimulated he had to do something.

Though he wanted desperately to rush forward, Jonathan took his time. Drew was so tight and tense with need, it took a little coaxing before he relaxed properly and opened enough to take another finger. He reached up and stroked his forefinger up and down Vincent’s shaft in the meantime, just to keep him warmed up.

When he felt Drew was ready, he exchanged fingers for the head of his aching erection. “Christ, sweetheart…so tight…” he panted out as Drew’s puckered entrance practically pulled him in. He had to stay still and concentrate on breathing for a moment so he wouldn’t go over too soon.

Drew bent his knees up farther with a needy little whimper and Jonathan sank farther in. Now he was in position where he could complete the circuit. With his cock buried deep inside Drew’s tight heat, he leaned over and swallowed Vincent’s waiting erection down to the root.

“Jonathan…oh, so good…” Drew murmured as he kissed and licked the side of his throat. His fingers found Jonathan’s nipples to pinch and tease while he eased in and out of him. He nipped his skin and sucked the spot into his hot mouth.

Vincent’s fingers sank into Jonathan’s curls, urging his head up and down. Jonathan’s cheeks hollowed as he increased the suction and Vincent didn’t care how long he held out. It simply felt too damn good. He guided Jonathan’s still-lubed fingers down between his own cheeks and cried out when he was breached, molten pleasure surging through him.

“Beloved…faster…harder…gods, you’re so wonderful,” Vincent got out on heavy gasps.

Naturally Jonathan obliged, keeping the same rhythm for both of them, hips, mouth, fingers, all dancing to the same heavy, thumping beat.

Drew eagerly stroked his achingly hard cock as Jonathan bucked hard between his thighs. The muscles of his abdomen tightened down as the pressure built. He panted, hips rocking in time with Jonathan until he couldn’t take any more. “Ohhh…I’m gonna come!” He got out in a desperate rush. “Gonna…uhhhh Jonathan…yesss…” His tight little hole clamped and spasmed around Jonathan, and he moaned with pleasure.

Jonathan groaned hard around Vincent and drove his fingers in a little harder. Vincent cried out and gripped his head so tight, he couldn’t move. The little, gasping cries came closer and closer together and Jonathan had his second reward when Vincent came hard, hot seed spilling across his tongue.

The taste, the sounds, the hard squeeze of Drew’s orgasm clamping around him and the hard hold Vincent had on him flung him up and over, a tsunami-crash of a climax roaring through him. His hips bucked and jerked through the first spasms and then he lay still, moaning around Vincent’s cock while he rode the last spasms deep inside Drew.

Drew lay unmoving as Jonathan’s weight settled on him. For a moment he wasn’t sure if he was going to stay conscious. There was a fine tremor in his muscles that was partly from the pleasure of release and partly sheer exhaustion. He couldn’t have moved if his life depended on it. He felt Jonathan’s soft lips press to his. He couldn’t open his eyes, but he did respond, his lips caressing back and tasting Vince’s flavor on Jonathan’s mouth.

The tremors telegraphed to Jonathan and he eased back carefully. “Poor sweetheart,” he murmured and settled at Drew’s side so they could hold him between them. He snagged the blankets from the foot of the bed and covered them all for good measure, afraid Drew would get chilled.

Vincent snuggled close and settled Drew’s head on his shoulder, a weight he had missed more than he could have imagined.

Drew fell asleep almost immediately, feeling safe and secure for the first time in weeks.

“Welcome home, my love,” Vincent whispered and kissed the top of his shaved head. “Welcome home.”

Chapter 277 – Lost (4)

A week later Anthony stood in Vincent’s living room, suffering through inspection.

“Christ, your nails are a mess,” Jonathan grumbled. “Don’t you ever even look at your hands?”

“What?” Anthony looked out of reflex. “They’re clean.”

Jonathan rolled his eyes while Vince and Drew tried not to snicker.

“He looks fine, beloved, very handsome,” Vincent offered. “You’re sure someone shouldn’t drive you, MA? You’re feeling up to this?”

“I’m good, I’m good, promise. Really. And if Jerrett gets too scary, I can just faint, right? I mean, he wouldn‘t beat up someone who‘s passed out. Would he?”

“I wouldn’t take that bet,” Jonathan muttered.

“Jonathan, that’s enough,” Vincent said softly. “He may look like Damien, he may even have some of the same mannerisms, but he is most certainly not the same man.”

“Sorry.”

Anthony tugged on the cuffs of his button-down shirt, self-conscious of the scars on his wrists. He had spent his convalescence with Vincent and his boys since the Prince insisted he needed looking after. The call from Jerrett had come the day before. The ‘I hear you’re doing better and we need to have that talk now’ call. So that morning he had showered and shaved and dressed carefully in slacks and a good shirt for his appointment with Mr. Hawthorn.

He arrived at the house two minutes before eleven and then fretted that he was early. At exactly eleven o’clock, he rang the bell, trying to calm his hammering heart. He didn’t really expect Jerrett to hurt him and if he did, well, he deserved it. His anxiety came from the things that might be said and what rules Jerrett had in mind. Not knowing was really bad for his nerves.

Sasha answered the door and let him in with a peck on his cheek. The man in question stood in the front room, dark, handsome and arrogant as always.

“Good morning, sir,” Anthony began and fought not to twist his hands together. “Did you want me on my knees again?”

“Why, Anthony? Do you like me, or are you just that eager to be on your knees?” Jerrett teased.

“Simply a gesture of respect, m’lord.” Anthony ducked his head on a little smile, relieved that the session hadn’t started right off with cold sarcasm. “Remember what I do for a living. Down on one knee lots of times any given faire day.”

“Ah, so it’s merely a professional interest then,” Jerrett continued with the slightly teasing tone. That he was in such a good mood today was largely due to Sasha’s efforts the night before. Still, there were certain things that needed to be addressed.

“Seems public humiliation and chastisement were not as good a deterrent as I thought,” Jerrett said softly. He watched the tiny curl on Anthony’s lips vanish. “I clearly remember saying that you could still see Sasha, as long as you realized he was mine. Selfish bastard, remember? So, where does that leave us now?”

Ordinarily that might have been a rhetorical question, but at the moment Jerrett really didn’t know the answer.

Anthony heaved a little sigh and ran a hand back through his hair. “Yes, sir. And I’m sorry about all that. And I think saying I’m sorry and I won’t do it again won’t work, since neither you or me would believe it.”

He looked directly at Jerrett, hands spread wide. “I’m kinda lost here, sir. I mean, do I ask for visitation rights or something?”

Jerrett turned his back on him and walked over to the couch where he flopped down. He drummed his fingers slowly on the arm, but he was watching Sasha, not Anthony. He looked curious, but calm. Jerrett might have found it amusing to know Sasha was calm because he was drumming his fingers, which meant he was thinking. If he’d done it only once, it meant he was angry.

His restless fingers stopped and he looked at Anthony. “Take your clothes off.”

The white-blond brows crept up Anthony’s forehead. He opened his mouth and snapped it shut again. Then he pulled the tails of his shirt from his trousers and set about unbuttoning. He neither rushed not hesitated, his puzzled gaze remaining on Jerrett, looking for some hint.

He dropped his shirt over the arm of the nearest chair, picked up one foot at a time to slip off his shoes and socks, and then undid his belt. Still not a twitch, no clue as to what was required, so he went on. Trousers joined shirt, neatly folded on the chair arm. Now he stood in nothing but a pair of black bikini briefs and still Jerrett watched silently.

Anthony blew out a slow breath, hooked his thumbs in the waistband and pulled the briefs off as well.

“Sasha…” Jerrett’s said his name like he caressed him with velvet. “Kiss him.”

“Yessir.” Sasha said as he slid off his perch on the arm of the couch. He knew he didn’t have to answer and he knew Jerrett well enough to recognize his sometimes odd sense of play but he wanted it clear where the direction had come from.

He glided across the floor to Anthony, who showed his own understanding by putting his hands behind his back, while Sasha circled him slowly. Such a beautiful sight, MA’s long, lean body. By no means as powerful as Jerrett, still he was all hard-packed muscle with those incredible, sculpted fencer’s legs and that perfect-sized tool kit with the shaft that curved to the left. Sasha stopped behind him for a quick perusal of his rounded, muscular butt. That brought him in line with the precision scars on his wrists, though, still an angry red. He managed to tamp down on the sorrow that welled up and turned again to face him.

Anthony had torn his eyes away from Jerrett, helpless to do anything but follow Sasha’s graceful, sensual movements. He shivered and closed his eyes as Sasha’s hand slid up his chest to the side of his face. He tried to think about cold, practical things, unsure how Jerrett would take his getting all hot and hard at that moment. Too late. The blood left his head in a dizzy rush as Sasha’s mouth brushed his and he couldn’t stop the soft moan that escaped when his lips pressed in for a tender, searching kiss.

Jerrett, for all he was a big man, could move as silently as any cat. When he spoke in Anthony’s ear, neither one of them had heard him rise from the couch. “I do understand how irresistible he is…” Jerrett said as his fingertips trailed lightly down Anthony’s arms. “You don’t get to borrow him, not ever, but you may join us, if you wish.”

A hard shiver raced down Anthony’s spine. His brain threatened to short-circuit in shock and confusion so he gripped his hands together tighter and concentrated on standing still. A stubborn, lunatic corner of his brain still screamed no! mine! He needed to shut that rebellious piece up before he spoke. His next words would be crucial.

“I…I…it’s…” he stammered out while Sasha kissed along his jaw. Good. Brilliant start. Really top-notch. “You’re absolutely smoking hot, sir,” he tried again. “But are you sure you can stand having me so…close? I didn’t think you liked me much. Probably not even as much as raisin toast, which a lot of people don’t like, and sure as heck not close enough to–”

“Sh, hush,” Sasha murmured as he caught Anthony’s mouth in a searing kiss to shut him up.

Jerrett’s warm chuckle tickled along the back of Anthony’s neck. “If I didn’t like you at all, I wouldn’t have invited you to get naked in my living room.” His lips touched lightly at the nape of his neck, his breath stirring the fine hairs there. “Nor would I have let Sasha kiss you like that,” he breathed. His fingers moved to trace lightly down his sides and over his hips while his lips brushed his neck to his shoulder, teeth ever so lightly scraping along his skin on occasion.

“Oh,” Anthony breathed out as his head tipped back onto Jerrett’s shoulder. “Oh…god… If I faint, it’s just cause I’m still a little shaky, all right?”

“Ah, well if you’re feeling faint perhaps we should go lie down,” Jerrett said.

He stepped back, and only then did Anthony realize how much heat the man threw off as the cooler air of the room swirled around his backside.

Jerrett turned toward the hall that led toward the bedroom, pulling his shirt off as he went.

Anthony pulled in one slow breath as he turned. “Sash?” he asked softly. “Am I in over my head here?”

Sasha wrapped an arm around his waist and coaxed him along after Jerrett’s broad, bare back. “No, hon. I’m here. Don’t worry.”

“I’m not really worried. Just, you know, overwhelmed. A little. A lot. He’s pretty damn overwhelming sometimes. Don’t tell me he isn’t.”

Sasha laughed, a happy, carefree sound. “Sometimes. But it’s wonderful if you just let him sort of wash over you.”

“Right. Preparing to be swamped. Boarded. Capsized.”

In the bedroom, Jerrett had already sprawled on the bed propped up against the headboard, still half dressed. Anthony crawled up from the foot of the bed to him, erection bobbing at the tops of his thighs, while Sasha stayed near the doorway and began a slow, sensual strip.

Anthony tried for a little nuzzle at the base of Jerrett’s jaw and when that didn’t receive any criticism, began to kiss down his throat. “Did you want me to keep my hands to myself, sir?”

“If I wanted you to keep your hands to yourself, you wouldn’t be here,” Jerrett answered in his direct way, but his eyes when he looked at Anthony were not hard or cold. On the contrary, there was a low banked fire in their dark depths. One hand languidly caressed up Anthony’s back. “I suppose I should ask… is there anything that’s going to freak you out?”

The laugh that leaped from Anthony was only part nerves. Jerrett’s strong hand on his back felt damn good. He let his long fingers roam across the perfect, ripped abs in front of him and trail along the black jewel line. “I’ve been described as a freak, sir. Many times. But it’s real, real hard to freak me out. Unless you’re into animals or something else unhealthy, no, not much is gonna faze me.”

“Good.” Jerrett answered simply. The hand that had been slowly making its way up stopped at the back of his neck, and Jerrett did a slow roll of his body, pinning Anthony under him as he claimed his mouth in a fierce kiss.

When he finally let him come up for air Anthony was breathless and Jerrett’s lips curled with a hint of smugness. He moved off Anthony, though. “Sasha…come here.” He crooked his finger at his waiting lover and smiled as he slithered across the sheets to him. He had planned on telling him to keep Anthony warmed up, but he couldn’t help snagging a kiss of his own first.

He slid his fingers along Sasha’s jaw and curled them around the back of his neck, thumb caressing his cheek as he kissed him long and slow. He let his lips go with reluctance, but smiled at him, that smile usually no one else got to see, the one that showed how totally in love he was with him. It took away all the arrogance of his usual expression. He kissed him once more, soft and tender. “Go ahead and show off, love,” he said with a wink. “I know you’ve been just waiting to make him crazy.”

Sasha’s smile could have lit up the depths of the ocean. He wrapped his arms around Jerrett’s neck for a hug, rubbing his cheek cat-wise against his newly shaved jaw. His heart sang with joy and a thousand thank-you’s wouldn’t have been enough. Jerrett had bent far enough to allow this wonderful day and he knew it was for him. Someone wanting to make him happy was miracle enough in the first place. Having both the men he loved in one place, being able to touch them both, hold them, kiss them, how could life possibly get any better?

Anthony watched him with a little bemused smile as Sasha took his ankles and spread them apart. He crawled in slow, sinuous movements up between Anthony’s thighs and stopped to breathe over the delicious hard-on lying on his stomach.

He didn’t touch, not yet, and continued up Anthony’s long body, holding himself up on his arms. He leaned in for a soft kiss while he gazed into those big, gray eyes. Soft kisses peppered Anthony’s face as Sasha memorized the lines and planes all over again, the long, blond lashes, the strong jaw, the handsome, straight nose.

When some of the nerves had drained from Anthony’s expression he started on his way back down, kissing softly along throat and collarbone. When he got to MA’s chest, he flicked his tongue over a pebbled nipple, took it into his mouth and sucked hard. Anthony arched off the bed with a soft cry, hands gripping Sasha’s shoulders.

“How long’s it been, hon?” Sasha murmured in concern.

“Oh…um, not so long,” Anthony panted and then hissed when Sasha turned to the other nipple. “OK, OK, longer than I want to say. A Sonoran desert of a dry spell. Oh, damn…. sweet thistle pie, that feels so good.”

Sasha chuckled as he continued down his sternum and on to the flat muscles of his stomach. He stopped to breathe in the unique scent of Anthony’s arousal, lighter than Jerrett’s heady spice, with a hint of something reminiscent of cocoa.

He lowered his body so his chest rested against Anthony’s balls. With a little smile, he licked up the gently curved shaft, center, left and right, just to watch Anthony gasp and fight not to squirm. The low, desperate moan he received when his lips closed over Anthony’s head told him just how very long it had been.

Jerrett had shed the rest of his clothing while Sasha was tormenting Anthony with soft kisses and licks, but he had missed nothing. Not one swipe of tongue, not one gasp, not one moan.

He slid next to them now, his large hand stroking up the back of Sasha’s thigh and coming to rest on the pert globe of his cheek. He kneaded and caressed lightly along the crease between, waiting until he took Anthony into his mouth before he probed a little deeper, the pad of his fingertip massaging over the tight ring of muscle between his cheeks.

The chain reaction was immediate and quite pleasant for him to watch. Sasha lifted his cute little butt higher on a soft groan, pressing back against Jerrett’s finger. The groan vibrated over the head of Anthony’s cock and made his head thump down on the pillows with a soft cry of delight.

Anthony’s hands stroked over Sasha’s hair, careful not to grab hold, guiding his movements in only minor ways. Usually with Sasha, he would have been more aggressive. He’d never manhandled him or hurt him but Sasha was always happier if he took top without asking. With Jerrett in the room, though, there could be no question who was top dog and he was more than content to take a passive role.

Jerrett kissed the corner of Sasha’s jaw and sunk his finger inside him. With as much of a workout as he’d had the previous night he wasn’t too worried, and he was right, Sasha opened for him easily. Heat unfurled in Jerrett’s belly, the combination of his ready body and watching him slide his lips down Anthony’s cock. He purred against Sasha’s throat, a soft rumble of pleasure as he wriggled his finger deeper and pressed against his prostrate.

With his mouth wonderfully full and his back door mercilessly teased, Sasha couldn’t help a few needy whimpers and a full out wriggle to slide his aching erection over the satin sheets. If Jerrett had said go, he probably could have come without much trouble.

He lifted his mouth from Anthony to whisper, “Love…mmm, want you so bad…”

The temptation to give him exactly what he wanted was nearly impossible to resist, but Jerrett managed. He rotated his finger slowly over the smooth gland inside, making Sasha moan and his hips buck. Jerrett chuckled softly and withdrew, swatting his cheeks playfully.

“Greedy,” he whispered over Sasha’s ear. His hand trailed up Sasha’s back and into his hair, pushing his head back down on Anthony’s throbbing cock. He controlled his movements for a little while, enjoying the way Anthony squirmed and panted as he tried to hold himself back.

His fingers slid out of Sasha’s hair and he left him to his own devices for a moment, returning from a rummage in the drawer for lube and condoms, which he handed to Sasha.

He lay back against the pillows and caught Anthony’s lips in a teasing kiss while Sasha backed off his cock before he popped. “I want to watch my sweet little Sasha fuck you silly. Any objections?” Jerrett asked

“I’d have to be really crazy to say there were,” Anthony said with a little chuckle. “None at all, sir. Any conditions on that?”

“I already gave him the condition,” Jerrett said, referring to the condom. He kissed him again and let his hand caressed down his chest, fingers lightly stroking over the curve of his cock.

A soft hum vibrated in Anthony’s chest. His head spun from an overload of sensation as Sasha bent his knees up, caressing the insides of his thighs. Hands and lips seemed everywhere. There were too many incredible things to look at. He tried to concentrate on one thing at a time, his lips answering Jerrett’s with more heat, his hand stealing up to stroke through his thick, black hair, but his thoughts scattered again as Sasha’s tongue touched his balls at the same time Jerrett’s fingers closed around his shaft.

He closed his eyes, wishing for a blindfold, or some sort of restraint to help him focus better. He reached above his head and curled his fingers around the spindles of the headboard. There, all right, that helped. Some.

Sasha ducked his head on a grin. Watching Anthony struggle for control was just too adorable. He lubed his fingers and teased at the puckered entrance offered to him. The panted groan he got when he sank one finger in brought a hard rush of heat to his groin.

Jerrett lifted his head from kissing Anthony, relaxing back against the pillows. His fingers still traced lightly over the hard shaft of his cock, but apparently he was serious when he said he wanted to watch. At least for the moment.

“You’re being so good,” Sasha murmured into the skin of Anthony’s raised thigh. “And you smell so good.” He leaned forward to nuzzle at his cock again while he rolled the condom on. Pitcher wasn’t his usual position and he’d never taken top with Anthony before but he certainly knew how.

One hand stroking the inside of MA’s hard thigh, the other positioning his head at Anthony’s back door, he sank inside in one, slow, smooth thrust. “Ohgod…and you feel so good. So hot. So tight.”

Jerrett watched Sasha’s face with intense eyes. His plan had been to let Sasha take the edge off Anthony first, but he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to wait that long. He was so beautiful, so hot… Jerrett shifted his position, coming up on his knees so he could kiss Sasha and caress along his torso and back while he picked up a smooth rhythm.

A soft hiss came from Anthony, filled so suddenly, assaulted on all sides with erotic sensations. He gripped the headboard tighter, his eyes glued to Jerrett’s hands gliding over Sasha’s smooth, pale skin. Jealous? Maybe. Somewhere in the darkest caverns of his brain. Too damn hot for any green-eyed thoughts to take hold. They just slid away on a torrent of desire.

He moved with Sasha, matching his rhythm, soft cries forced from him every time Sasha hit that sweet spot. “Sir? Ohgod…oh holy freaking…sir? I’m gonna…I hope it’s OK…I can’t…”

Jerrett said nothing, but he ran his finger up the underside of Anthony’s cock, stroking the sweet spot with a single fingertip and grinned as he came in a gusher. With his other hand he angled his own hard cock down, rubbing the silken head across Anthony’s lips.

The soft cries of pleasure were suddenly muffled when Anthony opened his lips to devour as much of Jerrett as he was allowed. The man’s equipment matched him, a thick, beautifully veined shaft that looked like it could be used as a portico column. He moaned around the cock filling his mouth, his body bucking and spasming around the lovely cock filling his back door.

Jerrett sunk his fingers into Anthony’s hair and hissed a small breath through his teeth as wet heat enveloped him. “Ohhh, that feels so good,” he purred, rolling his hips and sliding in and out of his mouth.

“Mmm…so gorgeous,” Sasha moaned, mouth watering at the sight. He slowed his rhythm but didn’t stop, delighting in torturing himself. “So good…oh…sir…want to come so bad…” That Jerrett would probably say no only added to the delicious torment.

“No, pet. Our guest needs one more before you get to come.” Jerrett said. He glanced at Sasha with a little grin playing on his lips. “Of course, you can trade positions with him if you think it’ll help you hold off.”

Sasha’s head fell back on a heated moan. The things Jerrett did to him. “Yes, please,” he whispered, though his hips still moved in long, slow thrusts.

Jerrett withdrew from Anthony’s mouth and lay back on the pillows once more, watching with hooded smoky eyes as his boy moved between the other man’s thighs. So beautiful to watch, but he wouldn’t wait long for those silky lips to wrap around his cock.

The command was crystal clear without another word spoken. Sasha eased out of Anthony’s body, tearing a hard groan from them both, and slid up the bed to put his head in Jerrett’s lap. He nuzzled at the black forest around Jerrett’s equipment and licked over one ball at a time. Jerrett would put him where he wanted him, he had no doubts there, so he simply enjoyed himself in the meantime.

The mingled taste of Anthony and Jerrett when he licked over his engorged head made him moan again and wriggle against the sheets.

Jerrett caressed Sasha’s face and slid his fingers back into his thick hair allowing a pleased rumble in his chest as Sasha licked and kissed him most delightfully. He looked over at Anthony with a slightly raised brow, as if to ask how long he was going to lie there and waste the banquet laid out before him.

Anthony’s large eyes grew even wider in surprise. He had thought for sure…but Jerrett seemed to like to keep people off balance. No problem playing along, none at all. Oh, merciful heavens, no. He wasn’t quite ready again but the little man was stirring and getting his morning coffee, it wouldn’t be long.

He rolled to his side to press against Jerrett’s leg, kissing his hard thigh and caressing Sasha’s back. His lips met Sasha’s over the big, beautiful cock he was so intent on and they teased each other, tongues and lips pressing and stroking while they licked and suckled on Jerrett.

Oh, now that didn’t take long… Anthony moaned at the heady rush of blood to his groin. He rolled to his hands and knees and smoothed both hands down Sasha’s skin, his eyes closing on a shiver of pleasure. That smooth skin, that lovely body, that wonderful, tender-hearted boy he thought he’d lost forever–he had to swallow hard and wait for the sting behind his eyes to go away.

Jerrett brought him out of his thoughts by nudging one of the condoms he dropped on the bed earlier at him.

Anthony shot him a grin. “Didn’t forget, sir, never fear.”

He peppered kisses over Sasha’s back and butt while he first rolled the condom on and then slid a well-lubed finger inside. Sasha’s graceful body undulated, his hips lifting into the touch, silently begging. Anthony had never let him rush things, though, and wasn’t going to start now. A second finger followed the first when Sasha relaxed. Only when the third was accepted easily did Anthony withdraw them and eased the head of his cock inside.

Jerrett caressed the side of Sasha’s face, enjoying his attentions. “Lift up Sasha, don’t want you to get yourself over-stimulated.” He knew Sasha loved teasing himself by wiggling against the sheets, but he didn’t think he was going to hold out that way.
With a sexy little moan, Sasha lifted his butt into the air, grinding back against Anthony at the same time. The sight was hot enough to melt granite as he spread his knees wider, his hips higher than his shoulders as he went to work on Jerrett’s cock in earnest, opening his throat to swallow nearly the whole length.

Anthony thanked Jerrett silently for making him come the first time. He wouldn’t have lasted three seconds otherwise. He took Sasha by the hips and pulled out and in in a long, hard thrust. Sasha gave a little cry of delight and wriggled back against him, so he did it again.

Jerrett’s fingers tightened in Sasha’s hair and he rolled his hips, sinking his cock even further into that delicious mouth. His head tipped back with a soft groan. He did such a good job of taking him all. He couldn’t resist bucking up into him while his hands held the sides of his face. Sasha’s throat accepted him readily enough and it wasn’t too long before he was feeling the urge to come. He drew it out as long as he could while Sasha moaned and eagerly serviced his two partners.

Jerrett pulled back until Sasha’s lips were wrapped around just the head of his cock. He let loose a low growl of satisfaction as the first jet of white cream spilled into Sasha’s mouth.

“Oh, sweet mother of us all,” Anthony said in a breathless rush as Sasha bucked under him, greedily swallowing every drop Jerrett offered. They were beautiful together, he had to admit, Sasha’s pale, slender beauty and Jerrett’s powerful physique. Perfect…oh, so perfect…

“Sir…” he got out through gritted teeth. “Did you want to say go this time?”

Jerrett took his sweet time, or so it seemed, disengaging from Sasha’s incredible mouth. He shifted on the bed and came up beside Anthony, running his hand down his back and over the curve of his ass while the other slid under Sasha to stroke and tease him. The tip of Jerrett’s tongue, hot and wet, traced up the outer curve of Anthony’s ear, warm breath caressing over the shell. Anthony made a sound like a strangled whimper and Jerrett whispered “Go.”

“Oh, thank you, sir, thank you, thank you,” Anthony breathed out, his hips speeding, pumping hard into Sasha’s tight sheath. Sasha’s soft cries grew closer together and more desperate as he shoved back into Anthony’s every thrust.

Anthony heard Sasha whisper his name, heard him call out to Jerrett, pleading, begging for release, but it was all far distant, drowned by the rush of blood in his ears as the pressure in his balls hit critical. “Ohgodohgodohgodohfuck…” he cried out as a wreaking ball hard orgasm rammed up through him.

Jerrett heard Sasha’s plea’s well enough, but he didn’t acknowledge them, nor did he slow his pumping hand as Anthony spilled himself into Sasha. He often denied Sasha, making him hold out and wait, bringing him to the brink over and over. Not this time. He knew Sasha wouldn’t be able to hold back if he kept going, and he’d no intention of stopping. There was something profoundly relieving to be given permission before release, but there was something very exciting about being pushed over the edge without that permission as well.

“Jerrett…Anthony…oh…ohgod…” Sasha gasped out. “I can’t…” A sharp cry swallowed any more words as Anthony thudded against that sweet spot deep inside just as Jerrett’s fist thumped down against his balls.

Unable to do otherwise, he let himself go, his body undulating in incredibly sensual ways while a bone-rattling climax took him. Oh, he loved this, having two lovers at once, two men to please who loved him so much. Heaven. Absolutely.

He floated content as he came back down, riding the aftershocks while Jerrett still stroked along his shaft. At some point he realized Anthony’s weight lay heavy on his back. “Sir,” he said softly. “I think he’s out.”

The thought occurred to him that Jerrett’s hands were gentle for his sake when he lifted Anthony off and put him on his back. He wasn’t too far gone. Already he moaned softly and his eyes fluttered open. Just a bit of leftover fatigue from blood loss, probably.

Sasha knelt on the bed, back straight, head down. He knew Jerrett had pushed him on purpose, which meant he wasn’t finished playing. “I’m very sorry, sir, that I came without permission,” Sasha offered with proper contrition, though his voice was steady and calm.

“So naughty,” Jerrett admonished, although he couldn’t keep the little smirk from his face. He reached over and pulled Sasha into his lap, placing warm teasing kisses on his lips and down the side of his throat. He turned him over then, laying him down across his lap and caressing the globes of his up turned cheeks. “What shall I do with you, hm?” he asked, as he brought his hand down with a firm crack.

Sasha’s head jerked up on a little yelp, not that it had been entirely unexpected. The momentary sting settled into his skin as a spreading warmth and he couldn’t help a little squirm against Jerrett’s lap.

Anthony had curled over on his side, eyes a bit glassy. Sasha mouthed to him, ‘are you OK?’ and got a quick high sign. Aloud he answered his Dom in a throaty husk, “I’m very bad, sir. I should be punished.”

“No, my love, you are very good, but yes you should be punished for your lack of restraint.” Jerrett somehow managed to sound sincere when he knew damn well there was no way on earth Sasha could have been expected to hold back. He smacked his cute little ass again, because he liked the way Sasha squirmed in his lap.

“Yes, sir, oh, yes,” Sasha said in an eager rush. He had no idea what Jerrett had in mind but being turned over Jerrett’s lap pushed all sorts of buttons. He was already getting hard again.

A bit woozy, Anthony snagged a pillow for his head and decided against sitting up. The dizzy spells weren’t as bad or as frequent as they had been a few days before but then he hadn’t been terribly active either. The sight of Jerrett smacking Sasha should have made him angry. He tried to convince himself it should. Didn’t work. Problem was, he couldn’t muster any righteous rage with Sasha clearly enjoying it all so much.

“I think you’re enjoying this too much.” Jerrett said, as if he’d plucked the idea from Anthony’s thoughts. His hand caressed over Sasha’s adorable cheeks, kneading the pink globes gently, and then he couldn’t resist sliding his fingers into the crease. He was still slippery and Jerrett had no trouble sliding two long fingers deep inside.

“Oh…yes sir…I’m so sorry,” Sasha moaned and pushed back, lifting his butt in the air. “I’ll try not to. But it’s…hard…”

“Yes, I can feel that it is.” Jerrett chuckled. He stroked his fingers in and out of Sasha a little faster, making him moan and squirm. Finally he withdrew his fingers and landed another swat to his butt, but this one was a little more playful than firm. “I think you will have to work hard before I let you come again, my sweet.”

“What sort of work, sir?” Anthony blurted out before he could stop his traitor mouth from shooting off. Oh, damn. Jerrett was going to throw him out on his ass yet.

Jerrett gave him a glance, but didn’t seem as perturbed as Anthony had feared. He let Sasha up and sat him on the end of the bed. “What do you think a suitable punishment would be, Anthony?”

Anthony sat up against the headboard, the pillow clutched to his chest, gray eyes huge with anxiety. “I–I don’t–that is, maybe…” He swallowed hard and squeaked out. “It’s–it’s not my place to say, sir.”

Jerrett scooted up on the bed and leaned back against the pillows, fingers folded over his middle. “Show me what you are planning on wearing to work tomorrow, Sasha.”

Sasha scrambled off the bed to his bureau. Actually going to work, he wore normal street clothes. Once there, he changed into whatever enticing little outfit he’d picked that day, sometimes with more cloth involved than others. For the next day, he’d already decided on a little pair of blue micro shorts which he pulled out of the drawer and held up for inspection.

Jerrett watched him and nodded approvingly, although he could have taken out almost anything and it wouldn’t have mattered too much. He stood and opened up a chest near the dresser. “I have a few…accessories for you to wear as well.” He said. He pulled out a good sized anal plug, one that had a small loop at the end, and a leather cock harness. A chain the thickness of a heavy necklace was attached to the part of the harness that went around the balls, and was obviously meant to run back between his legs and attach to the loop on the end of the plug.

The set up would be unbearably stimulating, and the tiny micro shorts Sasha had pulled out were going to do nothing to hide any hint of arousal.

“Oh, sir,” Sasha whispered and swallowed hard. This would be challenging but he needed a challenge sometimes. “Thank you.” He lifted his eyes from the toys to meet Jerrett’s gaze. “When did you want me to start, sir?”

“Tomorrow.” Jerrett said with a soft gleam in his eye. He didn’t want Sasha to get used to the feeling before then. “For now… you will forgo clothes while you’re at home, except for your collar of course. And tonight you can make sure Anthony is well tended to.”

Which meant that Anthony was staying the night. Sasha put the shorts back in the drawer and bounded back to Jerrett to fling his arms around his neck. He got a pleased rumble and a little caress when he kissed Jerrett’s jaw. “Shall I start dinner, sir? Are you hungry?” He chuckled at the look Jerrett gave him. “For food?”

The rest of the evening was spent in mostly domestic bliss. Sasha was delighted both that Jerrett let Anthony stay, and that he could spend his time pampering them both.

In the morning Jerrett ‘assisted’ Sasha getting dressed, making sure the plug was placed just so, and the leather harness securely fastened around his cock and balls before he ran the chain back between his legs and attached it to the end of the plug.

Jerrett kissed him tenderly. “Have a good day, sweetheart.”

Sasha had to cling to Jerrett for a moment, his eyes gone wide. The plug wasn’t the biggest he’d ever had inserted but it was perfectly shaped to stay in place and just the right size to stimulate if he even thought about moving. His cock had decided immediately upon its insertion that it wanted to come fully erect. It expanded to the limits of the harness where it strained against the leather until the discomfort made it subside again.

The whole process left him feeling dizzy. And he was going to make it through the work day like this? He caught himself and managed a little smile for Jerrett. Yes. Yes, he was. “Thank you, sir. You, too.”

Jerrett kissed him and let him walk away, before calling him back, just to watch. “Please tell the Prince to call me if he needs to, love. We can’t have you ‘too’ distracted.”

When Sasha arrived at work, he delivered the message and then had to explain the whole thing, his face burning with embarrassment.

“So. Could you kneel still, süsselein?” Elric asked, completely unfazed.

“I’m…maybe, sir.”

The Prince had him turn and turn again. “Good. It does make a nice…peckage in the front. You vill let me know if it causes you undue discomfort or if you are unable to concentrate.”

“Yes, sir.”

For the first couple of clients, Sasha’s face remained beet red. It seemed to him that everyone could see, not only the bulge in front but the plug in back as well, which, of course, they couldn’t. But every step reminded him it was there, every movement rubbed the chain between his legs and oh, god, he couldn’t stop thinking about Jerrett taking him hard.

By lunchtime, he was in something of a daze and retreated to the downstairs bathroom to get some cold water on his face. Every time he thought he had it under control, he would need to move in some new way, kneel, reach up to a top cabinet, go down the stairs, and the whole stimulation-erection-discomfort-deflation cycle would start all over again. It didn’t quite approach pain…all right, yes it did, and in a way, it was all deliciously decadent. He enjoyed it in a perverse sort of way but his concentration was shot.

“Caroline…” He poked his head around the door to where she had her desk. “How many more today?”

“Just three more, hon. Are you all right?” Caroline asked, her pretty forehead creased in concern.

“Oh, sure, fine. I just put the coffeepot in the freezer.”

She laughed and then clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry.”

Near the end of the day, when Elric was expecting his final client, the Prince retired to his study upstairs to make a phone call. “Good afternoon, Herr Jerrett. Yes, thank you and you? Good…good… I vould like to make a suggestion, if you don’t mind. I think Sasha may need to be driven home today. He is no longer…focused enough to drive safely. I could hef somevone bring him to you if it vould be more convenient.”

Jerrett thought about that for a second. “Alright.” He said, and then had the audacity to ask, “Would you mind if I borrow Keit for the evening?”

Elric’s white brows arched up, though his voice remained as calm and chill as ever. “That vould depend largely upon vhat purpose this ‘borrowing’ vould serve.”

Elric could hear the grin in Jerrett’s voice. “If I can charm him into my bed, would you allow it?”

Gott in Himmel, why does the man have to push so? “No, Herr Jerrett, I vould not. Though I hef my doubts thet you could still do so in any case.”

Jerrett chuckled, a low warm purr of sound. “Easy, Elric…can you truly blame me for trying? Keit can drive Sasha home, and leave untouched then, I promise. Or you can send Orion with him if you don’t trust me.” Jerrett said with another small chuckle, inordinately pleased with himself that he’d managed to push Elric’s button’s.

Elric let out a little snort, both amused and annoyed at himself. “Keit may go vithout escort. To hef a small misunderstanding vith me is vone thing. Vith Orion? It holds the potential for tragedy of epic proportions.” His voice softened a hair. “And, no, I do not blame you. Not a bit.”

With the day’s appointments finished and Sasha changed out of his shorts, Keit went out to the car with him. Poor Sasha eased into the seat and tucked his feet up to sit sideways, unable to take the constant stimulation of sitting on the plug.

Jerrett met them at the door. As soon as Sasha stepped inside he said, “Clothes off.” Then he looked at Keit, who had walked Sasha up to the door. “Would you like to stay for dinner?”

Keit glanced from Jerrett to Sasha and back, a slightly amused expression on his face. “Do you want me to stay because you want my company, or because you want an audience while you torment Sasha?”

Jerrett grinned. “Both.”

Keit laughed and looked at Sasha, though he knew it wasn’t fair to him to ask, he had to anyway. “Will it bother you, Sasha?”

Sasha ducked his head on a shy smile while he wriggled out of his pants. “No. Not really. I mean…it’s you.” He leaned a hand on the wall and closed his eyes while his persistent cock tried the confines of its harness once again. He drew a few careful breaths. “Besides, I’ve had a roast in the crock pot all day. Shame if we don’t have someone to share it with.”

Jerrett lifted Sasha’s shirt off and gave him a sensual, if brief kiss. “Make sure you call the Prince and let him know you’re staying for dinner.” Jerrett said.

Keit rolled his eyes as he followed them farther inside. He didn’t need to be reminded, and he had already been reaching for his cell phone.

Sasha stopped by him to whisper in his ear with a little wink. “He’s just trying to be responsible.”

There was something liberating rather than embarrassing to be without clothes. In the right company, at least, people Sasha trusted. Not that he was entirely naked with his lovely…accessories. He hurried to the kitchen to get the rest of dinner started. Carrots and parsnips went under the broiler, potatoes went into the pot with the roast. As long as he didn’t move too fast or bend over or have to crouch, he felt completely unhindered.

Jerrett sat with Keit in the living room, casually slouched back on the couch. “I asked Elric if I could borrow you this evening.”

Keit lifted a brow. “I hope you weren’t too disappointed.”

Jerrett’s grin was wolfish. “How do you know he didn’t agree?”

Keit returned his gaze, completely unruffled. “Because he didn’t.”

Jerrett chuckled. “He also said he doubted my ability to charm you into my bed anyhow.”

Keit laughed. “Please don’t take that as a challenge, Jerrett. If it will assuage your ego you can tell yourself it’s just because I’m so besotted with Elric that you can’t turn my head.”

Jerrett did not stir, in fact he became very still, but his eyes seemed to bore into Keit with dark fire. “Are you sure?” he asked in a low softly caressing voice.

At one time, Keit would have melted into a puddle on the floor at that look and spent the night doing any number of decadent perversions with Jerrett. In truth, the way he looked at him and spoke to him still had an effect, making his heartbeat throb hard once and desire tighten his loins. He smiled back at Jerrett, his lips curling seductively and his eyes returning an echo of warmth. “Very sure,” he said flatly.

Jerrett’s laugh was genuine and exuberant. “Alright, just checking.”

The atmosphere changed, becoming more relaxed and less sexually charged as Jerrett conceded. It lasted only until Sasha returned from the kitchen and Jerrett watched him walking toward them. So beautiful, his Sasha. And so damn sexy. He beckoned Sasha to him, and removed the harness and unclipped the chain, but left the plug in place. He indicated he should kneel and caressed his perfect bottom while he did so.

Sasha’s stomach trembled with excitement and despite his best efforts, all the blood rushed to his groin when Jerrett removed the harness. He drew in a quick breath through his nose and closed his eyes, a wave of dizzy delight sweeping through him. He had to put his head on Jerrett’s knee to keep from toppling over.

Keit watched all this with amusement tinged with arousal. Sasha was gorgeous after all, and watching him fight against the stimulation he was receiving was hot.

“Mmm, thank you, sir,” Sasha got out in a breathy purr. “Dinner should be ready in about fifteen minutes.” Which was partly information and partly to let Jerrett know how long he could tease before Sasha would have to return to the kitchen.

Jerrett’s only acknowledgement was to stroke his fingers through Sasha’s hair while he made small talk with Keit.

While it might have seemed as if he was being largely ignored, Sasha knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that a heated storm brewed inside Jerrett. From his vantage point with his head in Jerrett’s lap, he could see the bulge in his jeans and catch hints of his growing arousal.

In the course of conversation Keit made a comment about the stone Sasha wore on his collar. “It’s a perfect choice,” he went on. “Beautiful.”

Jerrett smiled, pleased. “It had to be, if it was going to compete with Sasha.”

A little flush rose up Sasha’s throat though he smiled and nuzzled at Jerrett’s thigh. He had always known he was pretty but until Jerrett, he had considered it only in a slightly slutty, perfect-for-a-toy sort of way. With Jerrett’s dark gaze devouring him, he did feel beautiful, as if his heart made his body glow from within.

“Anthony was over yesterday,” Keit said.

Jerrett was not fooled in the least by the innocent sounding comment. “And you want to pry?”

Keit made a small face at him. “Nooo.” There was a long pause then Keit cleared his throat. “So, have you…settled things, then?”

Jerrett laughed. “Not that it’s any of your business, but, yes. Anthony is allowed to see Sasha, and, yes, I’m fucking him, too,” he said, just to watch Keit try and keep his expression neutral. He did a damn good job of it, too.

A subtle movement of Sasha’s hips distracted him enough so he managed to stifle a laugh. God, he hoped Jerrett didn’t make him do this for another day before he had some relief. His brain was turning into jello. And his cock was going to look like a permanent exclamation point.

“He looked a lot better this morning,” Sasha offered softly. “More like himself. Good thing he’s between Faire seasons right now, though. Don’t think he should be putting on the full plate and fighting on horseback yet.”

Jerrett had also said Anthony could come over on Wednesdays, if he’d behaved himself and not pissed Jerrett off during the week. Anthony had gotten on his knees and thanked Jerrett rather sweetly for his kindness, a thank-you that made Jerrett’s eyes cross before he was finished.

It wasn’t long before they were sitting down at the table to eat dinner. Or rather, Jerrett and Keit sat down. Sasha was having some difficulty finding a way to sit. Jerrett finally reached over and made him sit squarely in the chair. The look on Sasha’s face was a curious mix of desperate arousal, embarrassment and anxiety. The slightest movement made the plug move within him. Jerrett might as well have bent him over the table and had him right there.

“Jerrett, there is no way he can eat like that,” Keit scolded.

Jerrett tore a piece of bread off and chewed it thoughtfully as he watched Sasha with half lidded eyes. “I think you’re right. Sasha, you can go to bed and wait for me…or if you prefer you can entertain us.”

A little ashamed of his lack of control, Sasha ducked his head. He didn’t really want to leave, he wanted to be with Jerrett, and he was hungry, dammit.

He rose from his chair and let his fingers trail across Jerrett’s broad shoulders. “What sort of entertainment would you like, sir?”

Jerrett pulled him down into his lap, turning him so he sat between his knees facing the table. He breathed along the back of his neck and his hand caressed lightly over the top of his thighs and up his torso. “I wanna watch my beautiful one get off.” His words tickled along his skin.

“Jerrett,” Keit said, slightly exasperated. “Sasha… you don’t have to do this,” Keit said gently. Keit wouldn’t mind if he did, not at all, but he didn’t want Sasha to be made uncomfortable.

“I know,” Sasha said with a soft smile. He let his fingers trail up the underside of his own erection. “I don’t have to.” He leaned his head back against Jerrett’s shoulder, his eyes sliding half-closed. “I can always say no.”

Keit put one elbow on the table and rested his chin on his palm. Absently he skewered a root vegetable and popped into his mouth while he watched the sensual play unfolding at the end of the table.

Sasha leaned back against Jerrett, the feel of that hard chest against him adding an extra layer to his excitement. He trailed his fingertips over the tip to spread the little pearl drop already waiting there over the head. Jerrett’s thumb brushed over his nipple and he moaned, his hips rolling to tap the plug against his gland.

With a soft intake of breath, he wrapped his hand around his achingly hard cock and began to stroke.

Keit shifted on his seat, unobtrusively adjusting himself. Sasha was truly a beautiful sight. He remembered to chew, even though he no longer tasted the food in his mouth and he much rather would have had something else entirely in his mouth. The urge to get up and slide over there, to let his lips and tongue caress over those lovely orbs jostling gently between Sasha’s legs was almost overwhelming. He could see himself doing it in his head and he had to remind himself firmly that Sasha was off limits. He had to look down at his plate for a second and reorganize his thoughts.

He could enjoy watching, but he couldn’t and wouldn’t join in. He just hoped when he got home the Prince was in a generous mood. If not it was going to be a long night, he thought ruefully.

Jerrett all but forgot about dinner and Keit. His attention was more than just a little consumed by Sasha writhing in his lap. He kept his touches light though, a stroke of his thumb over a nipple, a hand caressing up his arm, the brush of lips across the back of his neck.

It had already been a long day for Sasha. Spending the day half-hard and increasingly desperate did wonders for the libido. His back arched on a long groan and he tightened his grip on his shaft, increasing the speed of his fist. His balls had already drawn up tight. Oh, sweet mother…

“Jerrett,” his voice caressed over the name. “Jerrett…oh, sir, this won’t take long…”

“Are you very sorry that you didn’t control yourself with Anthony?” Jerrett murmured, his lips pressed to the soft skin behind Sasha’s ear.

“Very sorry, sir.” Sasha got out breathlessly.

“And you will endeavor to try harder next time?” Jerrett asked, in the same softly teasing tone.

“Oh…yes…mmm, yes, sir.”

Jerrett chuckled, blowing a warm breath over Sasha’s ear and nipping the edge. “Then you may let go, my sweetheart. Come for me,” he whispered huskily.

“Thank you, sir, thank you, thank you,” Sasha answered in a breathless rush.

His eyes flew wide and his hips lifted as if the force of his passion might cause his body to leap into the air. Soft, short cries came while he climbed to a dizzying height, the pressure approaching a red zone near pain. His whole body arched and a louder cry escaped as he tipped over into rapture, the hard pulses shooting white jets into the air.

Yeah. No way was mere food going to satisfy after watching that, Keit thought. From the look on Jerrett’s face he was thinking the same, and was probably about two seconds from cutting dinner short.

Jerrett’s dark eyes locked on Keit’s lighter amber ones while he held Sasha’s boneless panting form.

“I’ll let myself out.” Keit offered softly.

Jerrett nodded once and lifted Sasha in his arms, heading for the bedroom. He heard Keit’s airy chuckle follow him and cared not in the least.

“Jerrett…?”

“Hm?”

“Dinner…”

“Can be reheated.” Jerrett finished as he laid Sasha down on the bed and practically dove on him. Sasha made a strangled sound somewhere between pain and pleasure and Jerrett remembered the plug. Well, at least he wouldn’t have to spend much time getting him ready. He turned Sasha over and gently pulled it free, hungry eyes watching the way his body flexed and opened as he did. “uhh, god I want you,” he murmured as he shed his jeans.

Sasha moaned and lifted his butt in invitation. “Want you, too,” he whispered. “Thought about you all day, sir. God it was hard…all day…visions of you taking me, ramming into me…”

Jerrett was preparing to fulfill his wish even as he spoke it, a dollop of lube smoothed over his very hard cock and he was sliding into Sasha’s tight sheath with a hard thrust. “Oohhh… fuck, you feel so good…” Jerrett straddled Sasha’s beautiful little ass and thrust into him again and again. That little performance in the kitchen coupled with thinking about how Sasha was handling his accessories all day had him near mindless with desire.

He grasped Sasha’s outstretched hands, twining his fingers with Sasha’s as he bucked ruthlessly into him. Lips and teeth moved restlessly over Sasha’s neck and shoulders, little kisses and nips mixing with murmured words of love and encouragement. It did not take too long before Jerrett hit his peak as well, spilling into Sasha’s clenching body with wordless cries of pleasure until he collapsed over him, his heavy body pressing him down into the mattress.

It only took a couple of wriggles more before Sasha came a second time as well, his body clutching hard at Jerrett, forcing a few more tortured groans from him. He smiled as he lay safe and secure beneath Jerrett’s weight.

When Jerrett’s breathing had calmed to a more normal rhythm, Sasha pulled one hand close and kissed his fingers. “You’re so wonderful.”

#

Elric looked up from his book when Keit came into the den. He had his glasses on that evening since his contacts had become an irritation, half spectacles he only used for reading. Orion sprawled beside him on the huge, leather sofa, his head in Elric’s lap.

“Something of a brief dinner, mein herz?” Elric said in a dry tone. “Vas Sasha’s cooking not to your liking?”

Keit nearly choked as he stifled a chuckle. “Sasha’s cooking was fine, sir. Delightful…it was only that Sasha had a long hard day and…” He had to pause and clear his throat to stop the metaphor thought train. “Um, Jerrett was being impatient,” he finished.

“Ah.” Elric put book and glasses on the side table and looked up at Keit with speculation in his ice blue eyes. “So. Are you hungry?”

Keit grinned, because that was the equivalent of a joke from Elric, and they both knew it. He didn’t laugh though, it was a little too close to the truth for laughter. Instead he sank to his knees before Elric and put his head on his knee, close enough to smile at Orion. “Very hungry, sir.”

Elric fisted his hand in Keit’s hair and pulled his head up. “So am I,” he said in a fierce whisper and leaned in to seize Keit’s lips in a ferocious kiss.

Keit responded with a flare of heat and passion. Ordinarily he would have kept his hands behind his back until invited to use them, but his head was swimming and he felt nearly drunk with the spike of arousal that shot through him. He lifted his arms to slid around Elric’s shoulders and his hands caress gently along the back of his neck while he kissed him deeply.

A soft purring hum rose from Elric’s chest. He would have to remember to thank Jerrett later for all this…stimulation. “Upstairs, both of you. Get each other undressed.”

Keit and Orion both got to their feet and headed for the stairs, Orion a bit steadier then Keit for sure.

Once in the bedroom they helped each other undress quickly, removing clothes between heated kisses and caresses.

Elric arrived silently for once, his boots exchanged for slippers hours some time before. He leaned against the doorway a moment watching Orion’s large hand slide down Keit’s back to caress his beautiful bottom.

“Liebchen, vould you like an otter sandvich this evening?” he asked.

Concern wrinkled Orion’s forehead and he pulled Keit into a protective embrace. “Mein herr?”

“Ach, not in a literal sense. Mein Gott.” Elric scrubbed a hand over the side of his face. “I only meant in that ve should share him, hef him betveen us.”

“Oh.” Orion loosened his grip. “Yes, mein herr. I would like that.”

Still shaking his head, Elric went to the closet. “Up on the bed, herzchen. On all fours.”

Keit slipped from Orion’s arms with a last little kiss and went to the bed. It was funny, when Orion was tied to it the bed looked normal size. When Keit knelt in the center and leaned forward on his hands the bed looked much larger.

The Prince returned from his rummaging with a rather complicated device of metal and leather. Unfolded, it resolved into an I-bar with straps at all four corners and a vertical swivel arm at either end festooned with more leather straps.

“Good. Knees a bit more…so, thank you.” Elric slid the whole thing under Keit and buckled his wrists and knees into the corner straps. He gave Keit’s perfect bottom a sharp slap and then slid up onto the bed to finish preparations.

“Chin up, mein schatz,” he ordered softly. The front swivel arm came up and the leather strap fastened around Keit’s throat before Elric tightened the nut to keep it and Keit’s head firmly in place. Then he slid onto his back between Keit’s legs and positioned the second metal arm under Keit’s genitals. The smaller straps went around cock and balls, just as an added incentive not to move too far.

Keit had been in a state of semi arousal since he’d taken Sasha home, now his cock pointed rigidly up from his groin and he was so hot he could hardly stay still despite the incentives to do so. He tested the give by shifting ever so slightly and found that even that little bit tugged on his package and sent shivers up his back. A little movement caused slight discomfort. Any more than that was going to get very uncomfortable indeed.

“I need you to be quite still,” Elric whispered in his ear. “If you damage yourself, I shall find it a difficult infrection to forgive.” He stroked a finger up the underside of Keit’s erection and the message was quite clear. Mine. Don’t forget it.

Orion had watched this little display, practically drooling. A little rumble came from his chest, his eyes slid half shut, his huge cock standing straight out from his body.

“Come, liebchen,” Elric ordered in a soft purr. “On your knees in front. You may offer yourself to our beautiful otter but you must help him keep his head still.”

The bed creaked under Orion’s weight as he hurried to comply, eager and more than willing. He rubbed the smooth skin of his head against Keit’s lips and took a firm grip on his hair.

Keit let his tongue come out to lick over the slit and swirl around the silky smooth head wetting it and his lips. Taking Orion was always a stretch, no matter from which end, Keit was reminded as he opened his jaws wide to accommodate him. He moaned softly, both from the taste and feel of him and the way his fingers tugged through his hair.

Elric watched his beautiful boys as he undressed. He let his head fall back on a sharp stab of desire, his unbound hair brushing softly down his back. In no hurry, he stopped at his dresser for a jar of Vaseline before he joined them on the bed.

He smiled to see how gentle Orion tried to be and yet Keit wouldn’t have been able to move his head in that grip if he tried. Elric dipped his forefinger into the jar, teased for only a moment at Keit’s puckered entrance, and plunged inside.

Keit squeezed his eyes shut and huffed a breath through his nose. His whole body quivered with electric desire. The force of the thrust rocked him forward. Not a lot, but enough to tug at his trapped balls and nearly make his eyes water. His toes curled and he moaned with heady pleasure around Orion’s thick cock.

“Mmm, my good boy,” Elric murmured and waited until Keit had adjusted to his precipitous invasion. He curled forward to rest his cheek on Keit’s back, suddenly wanting as much skin contact as possible. His hips rolled, teasing, tapping deep inside, while one hand stole down to stroke feather-light over Keit’s erection.

Keit’s needy whimper hummed in his chest. The urge to roll his hips and push back was driving him crazy. The pain this would cause was more encouragement than deterrent, but Elric’s displeasure kept him from testing the limits of the restraint. He shifted his focus to making sure Orion was lavished with all the sensual delights his mouth had to offer, and the slight movements he was allowed he made the most of for Elric’s benefit. Concentrating on his lover’s pleasure eased the burden of seeking his own.

A deep rumble of pleasure rolled from Orion. He wrapped his free hand around the base of his shaft, stroking where Keit couldn’t reach. The tight heat around him was heavenly, the sight of his eagle prince taking his pleasure almost too beautiful to bear. He wished he could be two people, to touch them both, hold them close at the same time. The otter sucked harder on him and his thoughts scattered like dry grain.

Elric’s fingers stroked over the leather trapping Keit and the gold cock ring behind that. He had no illusions about where the ferocity of his need had sprung from. Jerrett had yanked, he had responded in true territorial fashion, and now he reclaimed what was his in the most primal way imaginable. He pulled his hips back and thrust into Keit more forcefully.

Unable to beg for more, unable to even plead with his body, Keit took what was given and delighted in it.

Murmured words of encouragement in three languages spilled from Elric as he thrust deep and hard. There were times for discipline and times for wild abandon. At the moment, the wilds tugged at every fiber of his being.

Orion reached down to stroke his hair and something in that simple touch sent flames licking along his nerves. “You may come, my darlings, vhen you are ready,” he forced out through heated gasps.

A moan of grateful pleasure rose from Keit, all he was capable of at the moment. Elric’s plunging rhythm and the way his fist closed over the head of his cock now made his insides melt. A sharp tug on his balls as he moved just a little more in the confines of the restraint sent sparks racing through him. His breath huffed through his nose in increasing pants as he got closer and closer. The urge to buck wildly and his inability to do so crashed together and made him shudder under his partners as he came in hot jets over Elric’s stroking fingers.

Orion shivered, his hips jerking as Keit’s moans pulled him into the deeps. He forced himself to keep his eyes open since the sight before him was transcendent. The Prince gripped Keit’s hips, head flung back, back arched to show every chiseled line of chest and abdomen. The force of his thrusts vibrated through the bed and a spare, hissing cry rose from him as he climaxed, his soft white hair a waterfall of frost behind him. It was perhaps the most beautiful thing he had ever witnessed.

Keit held Orion within his mouth as he was suddenly flooded both front and back. Orion filled his mouth so completely he could not swallow fast enough and some spilled from the corner. He was so far lost in the zone he hardly noticed.

After the last earthquakes settled, Orion disengaged gently. He smiled to see his Prince collapsed, panting, over Keit’s back. Strong, white arms wrapped around the otter, holding him up at the same time.

“Mein herr, could I…help?” he asked softly.

Elric gulped a breath. “You may release him, liebchen. Begin vith the throat strap.”

Keit was grateful for that, his neck was starting to ache from being held in position so long. He let his head drop between his shoulders while Orion worked on unfastening the buckles around his wrists. When he was free of restraints he lifted up on his knees to give Orion a soft kiss and then turned, dropping down to nuzzle at Elric’s hip where he’d sprawled out on the bed. “Thank you, sir.”

“Bitte, bitte, herzchen,” Elric murmured as he stroked Keit’s hair. “I am glad you enjoyed it.”

Orion leaned over to kiss his lips and rumbled, “Danke schön, mein herr.”

A pleased purr came from Elric before he said, “You should teach our Keit some German. I vould like to hear it from him as vell.”

“Ich kann Deutsch sprechen, mein herr. Ich wusste nicht, dass Sie mich dass wünschten,” Keit said fluidly.

Elric came up on one elbow to regard Keit with a pained expression. “So. All this time. And you hef not uttered a single vord vhile I struggle vith your god-forsaken language? It is, wie sagt mann verwirren? Baffling.”

Keit cringed, realizing too late that he should have spoken up long before now. “I’m sorry, sir,” he offered meekly. “I-I just thought…when I was learning other languages I wasn’t allowed to speak any others. I got in the habit of not reverting to English just because it was easier for me. I didn’t think…I am so very sorry, mein herr.”

Elric snorted. “I hef been in this country far too long to still be learning the language. And vhile I confess to hef learned English a bit late in life, long after learning French and Czech and Russian and Italian and Japanese, I vould hope I manage fairly vell.” He rolled down on his back, a wistful tone creeping into his voice. “I simply like to hear German sometimes.”

Flustered and upset now, because he’d ruined what had been a wonderfully mellow mood, Keit curled on the mattress at Elric’s hip, but did not touch him. He hadn’t meant to imply Elric was still learning either. He’d just meant that he was used to sticking to one language, unless directed to do otherwise. However, every time he opened his mouth he seemed to stick his foot in it so he kept silent now. Why, why hadn’t he thought to speak up before now? How stupid could he be?

Orion gathered Keit into his lap, not certain why the little one suddenly looked so miserable. One was corrected, one learned. His highness wasn’t angry…

“Mein herr?” A sudden stray thought wandered through. “Do you speak Norwegian as well?”

“No, liebchen. Not more than a few vords here and there.” Elric turned on his side to look at him. “Is there some reason?”

Orion’s forehead creased. “I‘m…not certain, mein herr.”

Keit rested his head against Orion’s broad chest but his eyes caught Elric’s for a moment, sharing a fleeting look as they both turned over the significance, if any, of Orion’s question.

“You may sleep vith our otter tonight,” Elric said as he kissed them both and rose to pull on a robe. “I vill be up for some time still. Go to bed.” He wandered out, murmuring to himself about things lost and found.

Keit let his breath out slowly after Elric left the room. He still felt unsettled, which was an unusual state for him. He usually took everything in stride, but he had a feeling he’d done more than just annoy his Dom, he’d hurt him by the simple omission. For the first time in a long while he felt tears close to the surface. “Come on Orion,” he coaxed in a softly husky voice. “Do you want to sleep in my room, or yours?”

“The ship, little one,” Orion rumbled with a little smile. He kissed Keit’s eyelids, wishing he could take the pain away and led him by the hand up to his tower room.

They snuggled in and talked softly for a while until Orion fell asleep. He was wonderful to lie with, so warm and comforting, but Keit lay staring out the window, unable to drift off.

Well after two in the morning, he wandered out into the hallway. Elric’s bedroom door was still open and the room empty. A hint of light shone further down the hall, though, licking out from under the study door. With a soft knock, Keit pushed it open and found the Prince at his computer, still as stone.

“Sir? Is everything…all right?”

Elric’s fingers twitched, a muscle jumped in his jaw, and for an uncomfortable moment Keit wondered if he was too hurt to speak to him. Finally his right hand clenched and he whispered, “I know now. I know who he is.”

Chapter 276 – Lost (3)


Chapter 275 – Lost (2)

The message from Jerrett was quite clear. Anthony put the phone down on his dresser and crawled back into bed. He was to leave Sasha alone until further notice.

Jerrett had been all business, no nastiness, no sarcasm. But he had said something both cutting and vital. Anthony was upsetting Sasha. Confusing him. It had to stop.

“Right. You’re right, Mr. Hawthorn,” Anthony said to the ceiling. “I’m so sorry, Sash. Gods be damned fool, that’s what I am. Damned, blind, moronic fool.”

It had to stop. Yes, yes it did.

#

Two days later, Sasha kissed Jerrett goodbye while he still read his morning papers and headed off to work. The Prince’s house looked the same from the outside, all in order, perfectly normal. Inside, things weren’t right at all.

Keit and Caroline sat on the sofa in the front room. Orion knelt at Keit’s feet with his head in his lap, obviously upset.

“What is it?” Sasha asked in a hushed whisper. “What’s happened?”

“We’re not sure yet,” Caroline said gently. “His highness was called to the police station this morning. He didn’t say why. He just said to cancel his morning appointments and he’d be back soon.”

Sasha sank down in a chair to wait with them, a hard knot in this stomach. What could it be? What if the Prince was in trouble? What could they do?

The mantel clock ticked loudly, a cold sentinel metronome in the terrible anticipatory silence.

Finally, two hours later, the Mercedes purred into the drive. The Prince eased out as if his bones hurt and made his slow way to the house. Alarmed, everyone leaped up to meet him at the door, shocked at the gray pallor of his face.

Keit took his hat and coat, Orion took his arm to support him. No one could recall ever seeing him so shaken.

“Sir? Are you all right?” Sasha whispered.

“I am…vell enough,” Elric said softly. “Let us sit, my dears. I hef grim news.”

When they had all settled again, Elric pulled an envelope from his jacket. “Early this morning, Anthony’s landlady knocked on his door. He hed not paid his rent this veek. She let herself in vhen he did not answer. She found him, dressed in his best suit, lying on the kitchen floor. He hed cut open the veins in his wrists.”

Sasha let out an anguished cry and Caroline groped for his hand.

“He is…alive, my dears,” the Prince went on. “In hospital but they think they vere in time. They hope he vill recover.” Keit moved over to lay his head on Elric’s shoulder and the Prince accepted the gesture with a soft sigh. “He left a letter, addressed to me, vhich is vhy the police called me. There are instructions for the distribution of his belongings…”

He hesitated, opened the letter, and looked over at Sasha, “And a passage concerning you, süsselein. Do you vish to know?”

“Yessir,” Sasha choked out.

“‘Please tell my beloved Sasha,” the Prince read. “That he is free now. That he need never hef a moment’s confusion again. I release him from all guilt and obligation. I do this to allow him to hef the life he so deserves, vith somevone who loves him and who can give him all he needs. I shall no longer stand in his vay.’”

Sasha burst into tears. Oh, dear god, how could Anthony have done such a thing? How could he have reached such a terrible chasm of despair? Someone who was more full of life and energy than anyone else he knew? “God, no…oh, Ant…”

Several sets of arms were around him before he stopped sobbing and then he asked the Prince to please excuse him for the day. He had to go see Anthony. There simply was no choice.

#

Towards evening he returned home, sick at heart and exhausted. He’d lost track of the time, keeping watch at Anthony’s bedside. The doctors assured him Anthony’s heart was strong and he was receiving the best care, but he had yet to wake.

He stopped short with a jolt when he saw Jerrett waiting for him in the front room.

“And where have you been, little one?”

Sasha fought to speak against the desert in his throat. “I went…I went…to see Anthony.”

“Really.” Jerrett placid tone said well enough he was seething, but before he got out a more scathing comment he noticed Sasha was so pale he looked like he might pass out and the redness around his eyes told him he’d already been crying his eyes out. “Why?”

“Because…because…he’s in the hospital. He tried to…to kill himself.”

Jerrett sighed and held his arms out. “Come here, sweetheart.” He waited until Sasha flew into his arms and then held him close, drawing him up and carrying him to the couch. He sat and held him, rocking him until the shuddering and sobs stopped. Yes, he was angry, and, yes, he was going to put a stop to this, but not tonight. Tonight he would simply be there for his lover.

Jerrett was good to Sasha, he held him and gave him every bit of support he needed. He made sure he was comforted and secure. The next morning he sat with Sasha at the breakfast table and cleared his throat. “Sasha, I know you care about Anthony. I understand why you went to see him. What I don’t understand is why you didn’t call me,” he said softly.

Sasha stared at his plate. “I…don’t know. I was so worried. He was so pale and lifeless. So unnatural for him to be so…so still. I couldn’t…couldn’t think about anything except that he’d done it because…because of me.”

Jerrett drummed his fingers on the table, once. “Yes, he did it for you. So you would get the message loud and clear. If he died, you’d live with the guilt for the rest of your life. If he lived, you would come running right to him.” He watched Sasha wince at the harsh words but the time to handle him like spun sugar was over. “Sasha, you didn’t call me because you knew I wouldn’t want you to go. This cry for attention is–” He stopped and took a breath. “I’m not heartless, but I’m not buying into this game. You choose who you want to be with.”

For a moment, Sasha fixated on the wrong part of his speech. Anthony had wanted to die; his letter had been so well-ordered and thorough, covering everything from what should happen to his swords to where his savings were to send to his mother. Not to make anyone feel guilty, either, but to make everyone else’s lives easier, at least as he saw it. Sasha knew all about suicide attempts for attention. He’d seen it often enough. This wasn’t one of those.

Suddenly the important part of what Jerrett had said sank in. “Choose?”

“Yes. Him or me, Sasha. What’s it going to be?”

A wave of ice washed down from Sasha’s scalp to his toes. Choose. Between them. Never see Anthony again or lose Jerrett forever. His sight wavered, he gripped the edge of the table as if he might pitch into some invisible abyss otherwise.

Then he caught himself and rose slowly, went upstairs, found his suitcase and packed a few necessities. When he came back down, he stood in front of Jerrett with the suitcase beside him, his voice so soft Jerrett had to lean forward to hear, a voice which sounded a thousand miles distant in his own ears.

“I can’t make decisions,” he began, his heart full of anguish and worry. “At least I’m not good at them. And they don’t come easy. I need some…space. To think. I can’t think like this. I’ll be at my place. Until I figure this out. I’m sorry, love. I’ve screwed everything up. And I don’t know what to tell you right now.”

He reached up and unfastened his collar to place it on the table. “A sub doesn’t make decisions. He has someone to do it for him. If you want me to do this myself, I have to be just me for a while.”

Jerrett nodded, he didn’t trust himself to speak. He watched Sasha turn and leave. The hurt was surprisingly sharp. Break-ups were something he usually took in stride. Even when Keit left him it had hurt, but not like this. He hadn’t cried since he was a six-year-old, and he wasn’t going to now, but he almost wished he could.

He didn’t pick up the collar, he left it on the table where Sasha had put it. It was eight o’clock in the morning and he wanted a drink. Well, Sasha was gone, there was no one he needed to stay sober for. Today he’d crawl into a bottle of cognac and tomorrow he’d move on.

Sasha, on the other hand, had no qualms about tears and no illusions about moving on. He sat in the cheerful front room of his apartment and cried until he made himself sick. The thoughts kept running in circles, he couldn’t get any closer to any sort of answer. He loved Jerrett with every fiber of his being but he wasn’t sure he could do what Jerrett needed him to do. He loved Anthony with the slow and tender fire only friendship and shared heartache could build and couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing him again.

He crawled under his sofa and ignored the phone the several times it rang.

#

The day after they heard about Anthony, Sasha didn’t show up for work. Keit called and got no answer at Jerrett’s or at Sasha’s. By evening, he really started to worry. A call to the hospital revealed Anthony was stable, no changes in his condition, and he hadn’t had any visitors all day.

Keit found Elric in the library. He knelt beside him and waited until he acknowledged him to speak. “Sir, I’m worried about Sasha. He hasn’t been to the hospital, and there isn’t any answer at Jerrett’s or his apartment. Would it be alright if I went to check on him?”

“Please do, herzchen,” the Prince leaned down to give him a soft kiss. “Things are not right. Not at all. His apartment key is on the rack in the kitchen. Just in case.”

Keit went to Jerrett’s first. After ten minutes pounding on the door, Jerrett finally answered. Keit didn’t think he’d ever seen Jerrett quite this drunk. He swore softly under his breath.

“Keit?” Jerrett took a second to focus on his face and reached out to stop him from weaving back and forth. “Did you come back to me, sweetie?”

Keit rolled his eyes and half walked, half stumbled with Jerrett back inside. “Jerrett, where’s Sasha?”

Jerrett flopped back onto the couch. “Gone.”

“Gone?” Keit repeated inanely. “Gone where?”

“I dunno. To figure out what he wants.” He waved a dismissive hand.

Keit tried not to grit his teeth. “What happened?”

“I told you, he left.” Jerrett had the remarkable ability to sound almost completely sober even when he was blind drunk. “I told him not to see his ex anymore, and he needed time to pick who he wants.” Jerrett snorted. “Can you believe that shit? Like I should sit an’ wait for him while he makes up his mind?”

Keit found this rather fitting karmic retribution for all the hearts this man had broken, but he didn’t say so. “Alright. Did he say where he was going?”

“Apartment.” Jerrett muttered, his eyes closed.

“Jerrett?”

He started snoring softly and Keit threw up his hands in frustration. He headed to Sasha’s apartment. He knocked, and got no answer, so he used the key. “Sasha? Sasha, are you here?”

A soft, desperate whimper came from somewhere in the front room. It took Keit a few minutes to realize it came from under the couch.

“Sasha…?” Keit knelt down to look underneath. “Sasha, what…? Oh, honey, have you been under there all day? Can you come out?”

A shaking hand made its way out and Keit took that as an invitation. He grabbed hold and pulled gently until the rest of Sasha followed. Not a Sasha he would have recognized on the street, this one looked like a Dickensian waif, hair a rat’s nest, face and hands smudged with an unholy combination of tears and dust, eyes wide and staring.

He crawled to Keit, breathing ragged and tortured, as if he had been fighting hyperventilation for hours, and lay down with his head in Keit’s lap.

Keit was having a bit of trouble not hyperventilating himself. He petted Sasha with trembling hands. He reached for the phone in his pocket. He wanted to call Jerrett and bitch him out, but Jerrett probably wouldn’t answer and besides, he needed someone who could help. He called Elric.

“Sir,” he said when Elric answered. He had to clear his throat because it barely came out as a whisper. “Sir, Sasha’s not doing so good. I-I need your help, I think.”

“Calm, herzchen,” the Prince soothed. “Find something to cover him. Hold him tight. I von’t be long.”

True to his word, Elric arrived within fifteen minutes, Orion in tow. He found his boys on the floor, Sasha burrowed under an afghan and wrapped in Keit’s arms.

“So. Good. Vell done, mein herz.” He stopped to stroke Keit’s hair before he lifted the blanket to peer at Sasha. “Arme kind…poor boy. The anxiety takes hold almost like a seizure sometimes, all of his muscles tensed and spasming. Ve need only help him relex again.”

He took Sasha in his arms and began issuing soft orders. “Orion, put the box down and start the bath. Hot, though not scalding. Keit, süsse, start some tea. Orion hes chamomile in his box.”

Keit ended up stripping and getting in the tub with Sasha so he had someone to hold him and make sure he didn’t slip under. The heat of the water did seem to help unclench his tight muscles, as did Keit’s soothing hands.

When they got out Orion took over, wrapping Sasha in a big towel and helping him to dry off while Keit got himself dry.

While Orion carried Sasha to bed, Keit fetched tea and aspirin and reached the bedroom in time to see Elric wrapping a soft blanket tight around Sasha’s lower three-quarters, like swaddling, except with a full grown young man and the end result left his arms and head free. The Prince sat beside him on the bed, helped him drink and waited, for what, the other two had no idea.

“Sir?” Sasha finally whispered. “How long have you been here?”

Elric smiled. “Guten Abend, süsselein. It is good to hef you beck.” He smoothed a stray lock of hair from Sasha’s eyes. “Now, perheps you vill tell me vhat upset you so.”

Sasha sketched it out for him in short, halting sentences and ended with, “I’m supposed to choose. He said I had to choose. One or the other. How in the world can I do something like that?”

Keit fumed, silently because he didn’t want to upset Sasha again. Goddamn it! Why did Jerrett have to be such a jerk? “Sir…” he called softly to Elric. “I’ll be in the other room, if you need me.” He needed to remove himself before he said something he shouldn’t.

Mein herr…” Orion rumbled and received a nod to go after Keit.

“Sasha, liebling,” Elric said softly. “This is not something I can do for you. Or answer for you. It is a hard thing he hes demanded of you. Perheps not a fair thing. But such demands might alvays be part of who he is, this man you chose freely to give yourself to.”

“Yessir. I…I know.” Sasha stared into his tea.

“You are a grown man, Sasha. Sometimes vone must choose. Betveen this and thet. Betveen love and duty. Home or a brighter future.” He gave Sasha a quirk of a smile. “Red vine or vhite.”

“It’s just so hard, sir. If I choose him, what happens to Anthony? If I choose Anthony, I’ll…” Sasha dropped his head into his hands.

“Perheps you should only concentrate on vhat you need most, my dear. You alvays vorry so about those around you. Neither choice vill be entirely heppy for you, I know. But if you must make a choice, think vhich leaves you more bereft in the long run.”

Sasha nodded, miserable still but calmer.

Keit paced in the living room. Not that there was a lot of room to pace, especially with Orion standing in the center of the room watching him, his head slowly pivoting back and forth.

“Little otter, you are distressed?”

Keit gave a curt nod.

“Is it because the minnow is upset?”

“It’s because Jerrett made him upset,” Keit answered. “He’s so damn selfish. Anthony is Sasha’s friend. He’s being a total jerk to make him choose between the two of them!”

“Did the panther not already choose for him?” Orion asked.

Keit stopped his pacing and looked at Orion. “Well, sort of. He told Sasha he didn’t want him to see Anthony anymore.”

Orion nodded. “And the minnow does not accept his decision.”

Keit waved an irritated hand. “That’s not the point. Jerrett doesn’t have to forbid him to see Anthony.”

“But he has,” Orion said placidly.

Keit drew in a deep breath and let it out. “He’s just jealous, Orion. Anthony isn’t going to hurt Sasha.”

“No. Maybe it is the panther who is hurt.”

Keit stared at him. He didn’t know what to say to that.

Sasha had appeared in the doorway, pale and hollow-eyed. “The big guy’s right. I’ve hurt Jerrett. I didn’t want to or mean to but I made it clear my heart was divided. I can’t do that to him anymore. I won’t just abandon Anthony, not while he’s in the hospital, but we’ll have to make things clear.”

“It sounds as if you hef made your choice, my dear,” the Prince offered softly.

“I have. I have to get dressed.”

“Um…” Keit looked at Sasha uncertainly. “Maybe…maybe you should wait til tomorrow, Sash.” When he saw that wasn’t going to be enough of an explanation, he continued with a sigh. “He was really, really drunk when I left him.”

#

Jerrett at that moment was wishing he were dead. He’d woken up still drunk and it was one of those rare occasions where the alcohol he’d consumed decided to rebel on him. He lay shivering and moaning on the cold tile bathroom floor.

God he missed Sasha. Had it only been one day? Not even a full twenty-four hours. Pathetic. What was worse, he was getting all maudlin. Maybe he should just call the boy, ask him to come back. Fuck it, he didn’t care if he wanted to see his damn ex. He just wanted Sasha back.

Where was the damn phone? He tried to get up and his stomach lurched to the right. He heaved into the toilet again. Fuck.

He managed to wash his face at the sink. Weaving his way out of the bathroom he clipped the door jam and went sprawling. God dammit. Where was that fuckin phone? The room wouldn’t stop spinning long enough for him to get up, so he crawled through the bedroom.

#

“Oh,” Sasha’s new-found confidence deflated a bit. Oh, sweet mother…he’d hurt Jerrett badly enough that he’d gotten completely trashed in the middle of the day.

“And you may vish to be better rested, too,” the Prince added. “You are exhausted, my dear, and, if you vill pardon me, you hef looked better.”

The phone rang and Keit had to suppress the urge to pounce on it. He knew, just knew it was Jerrett. Even though Sasha seemed to have made up his mind, Keit still wanted to tell Jerrett what an asshole he was being.

Even if he had jumped for the phone, it was a pretty sure bet Sasha would have beat him to it. He fumbled it off the hook and stammered Jerrett’s name.

“Sasha, come home.” Jerrett sounded hoarse and tired. “Just come home. I don’t care if you want to see that lunatic. I just want you.”

Oh, my poor Jerrett… “I’m coming, love. I was just on my way,” Sasha said softly. He glanced around at the expectant faces as he hung up. He explained even as he rushed to get some clothes on. “He’s asking me to come home. He says he doesn’t care anymore. About MA.”

Dressed and ready in thirty seconds flat, Sasha turned at the door. “Thank you all for coming. Thank you for everything.” Then he was gone.

Keit shook his head. Some things didn’t change. Jerrett snapped his fingers and the pretty boys came running.

At the house, Sasha careened to a stop in the drive and dashed inside. Something in Jerrett’s voice had yanked at his heart and he felt nearly frantic by the time he arrived. “Jerrett?” he called softly as he rushed from room to room turning on the lights.

He found him in the bedroom, sprawled on the floor, the phone still in his hand as if he couldn’t bear to let that connection go.

“My poor love,” Sasha murmured and knelt beside him to stroke his hair. Unshaven and un-showered, Jerrett looked rough and smelled worse but he couldn’t possibly have cared less. “Jerrett? Can you hear me? We need to try to get you to bed.”

“Baby?” Jerrett smiled a sleepy, drunken smile up at him. “You came back.” Instead of giving in to Sasha’s urging, he pulled him down, wrapped his arms around him from behind and held onto him while he buried his nose at the nape of his neck. “Mmm…” he purred contentedly.

A happy little laugh bubbled up in Sasha’s chest before he could help it. That deep purr vibrating against him again simply felt too damn good. He turned in Jerrett’s arms so he could hold him and stroke a hand along his stubble-bristled face.

“Yes, I came back. I’m sorry I hurt you, love. I’m back.” He wanted to say so much more but he had the feeling anything important would be wasted at the moment with a good chance Jerrett wouldn’t remember in the morning. “Let me help you to bed. We can snuggle there. And it’ll be better when you wake up tomorrow not feeling so good.”

Jerrett somehow made it into bed, though he didn’t really remember the journey.

#

In the Prince’s kitchen, Elric leaned against the counter while Orion and Keit put away the little box of supplies they had brought to Sasha’s. They both turned to him when he let out a little bark of laughter.

“Sir?”

“The turnings of the human mind never cease to amaze me, herzchen,” he began with a little shake of his head. “Here ve hef two personalities, opposite in every vay, driven apart by a knot of jealousy and hurt vhich they might only undo avay from each other. And vhat heppens? These two so very different people come to the same conclusion, almost in the same moment: I no longer care vhat or who else is in our lives, I cennot live vithout you.”

“Mm, I just hope Jerrett remembers that when he’s sober,” Keit said.

Chapter 274 – Lost (1)

Anthony rolled onto his back to stare at the ceiling. “Look, I’m sorry. Maybe give me a few minutes, just a couple, and we can–”

“You can get your shit and get out, is what you can do,” the pretty redhead lying next to him snapped. “I’d never have brought you home if I knew you’d turn out to be the Limp-Dicked Wonder.”

“You don’t need to get bitchy about it, hon,” Anthony said as he sat up. “Not like I planned it this way. ‘Oh, let’s see if I can’t go out and pick up some cute boy so I can humiliate myself.’”

“You might as well have. And don’t start any shit about needing to cuddle for awhile. You were all hyped up at the club and I get you back here and–nothing. All promise, no delivery. Get the hell out.”

Anthony was already moving, fishing his clothes off the floor. “Yeah, well, the only reason I picked you out in the first place was ‘cause you reminded me of someone else but, fucking hells, was I wrong. You’re not even that good-looking, sweetheart.”

Coat, keys, and wallet snatched up, he heard the parting shots about his probable eunuch status and such in a distant way as he clomped out of the apartment with his boot laces still untied. Damned stupid mistake, that’s what it had been. Just because someone had Sasha’s coloring didn’t make the boy Sasha.

And why was he torturing himself like this, anyway? Christ on toast, no one else would be Sasha, it wasn’t fair to expect it. So why did he keep going after the ones who could play stand in for him?

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed. “Der? Hey, big guy, wassup? Where you at?”

“Hey, MA. I’m home right now.” The deep voice sounded odd, a little strained.

“Hells bells, Der, it’s freaking Friday night! What’re you doing home? There’s a whole city out here! Come out, dammit, come meet me–”

A soft moan drifted over the phone line.

“Oh.” Anthony stopped at his car. “That kind of ‘at home’. Sorry, big guy. Didn’t mean to interrupt and stuff.”

“S’OK. You all right, Ant?”

“Yeah, oh, yeah, I’m good, I’m great, no worries. You get back to whoever, I mean whatever you’re doing. I’ll give you a buzz tomorrow.” He hung up, got in his Ferrari and banged his head on the steering wheel for a few minutes. There were lots of other people he could call if he just wanted company but only a handful who wouldn’t send him into screaming fits of irritation right then. Time to pack it in, go home and go to bed.

Third disastrous weekend in a row. Somehow, some way, he had to find a way to make the lonely ache go away.

Seeing Sasha so obviously happy and well cared for when he visited the Prince was both a delight and a torment. He truly wanted him happy and content, had hoped for that for so long. Yet he watched carefully for any little sign of unhappiness, any hint of misuse. He told himself he was only concerned, but in his heart of hearts a tiny, dark kernel wanted to find reasons why Sasha shouldn’t be with Jerrett anymore.

At that moment Anthony’s very secret want could not have been farther from reality.

Jerrett, the same blatantly and unashamedly selfish, dominant, and egotistical Jerrett, had found he rather liked spoiling his new lover. Sasha’s reactions made spoiling him so much fun. He had told Sasha to get ready to go out, dinner first and then they were going to a club.

He made him change clothes twice. Sasha tended to dress more…conservatively wasn’t exactly right, but he covered more skin when he was going out with Jerrett because he knew Jerrett got jealous easily. Tonight he wanted to show him off.

When Sasha came out wearing a painted on pair of pvc pants held together on the sides with laces and a microfine mesh shirt in black, Jerrett finally nodded. “That will do. Just one thing though…” He curled his finger and waited until Sasha knelt in front of where he sat on the couch. “I think this will go perfectly.” He handed Sasha a long box and watched his face carefully as he opened it.

Inside was a thin band of black leather from the center of which hung an emerald pendant the size of his thumbnail.

Sasha’s breath caught. He lifted his big blue eyes to Jerrett’s in undisguised wonder, then ducked his head to return his gaze to the box. “Oh…Sir…it’s…it’s…sweet mother of…” He swallowed hard, trying to keep hold of his galloping emotions, and managed to whisper, “It’s beautiful.”

Jerrett caught his chin with the edge of his finger and lifted his face. “You are beautiful.” He smiled. He took the box back from him, lifted the collar from it, and tossed the box casually on the seat beside him. The light caught the intensely dark gem and made it sparkle with green fire. “I have asked you to be mine, and you have accepted. I thought it was time you had my mark as well.”

He took the ends of the collar and held them out, just in front of Sasha’s throat. “Do you still want to be mine, Sasha?” he asked in the warm and tender a voice he so rarely used, and Sasha was the only one privy to.

Sasha felt as if he might melt and fall into those dark eyes. His legs had turned to water and he fought hard to find his voice. “Y-yes…yes, sir,” he whispered. Part of him wanted to say ’it’s too much, I can’t accept this’ along with ‘you don’t mean this’ but he knew Jerrett well enough by now. Jerrett wanted what he wanted and there was never any doubt. “Oh, yes,” he said more firmly. “Very much.”

Jerrett slid the band around Sasha’s neck and fastened it so the pendant hung perfectly in the hollow of his throat. It looked stunning on him.

One slender hand flew to Sasha’s neck as a smile blossomed to light up his face. With a happy laugh he flung his arms around Jerrett. “Oh, thank you, thank you! You’re so wonderful.”

Jerrett nuzzled into Sasha’s hair, inhaling the clean scent of him mingled with his shampoo, and pulled him into his lap. The warm press of his body and his scent filling his head made him swell with desire. He caught Sasha’s lips and kissed him ravenously, forgetting all about dinner and going out. Right now all he wanted to do was peel Sasha out of those tight pants he’d made him change into. He had to chuckle at himself. “Will it bother you to be a little late for dinner, love?”

“No, sir.” Sasha ran a finger down that hard-packed chest with a little smile. “I’m not really starved…for food.”

“Ah…and what are you hungry for, little one?” Jerrett teased while he leaned Sasha back on the couch and slowly tugged the laces of his pants free.

Sasha bit back a moan, determined to form a coherent answer with the blood rushing from his head. “You, sir,” he got out in a husky murmur. “Your hands, you hard body.”

Jerrett grasped the top of his pants and pulled down slowly. They were not the kind of pants one just slid down, he had to peel them off. “Then you shall have me,” he murmured huskily. He undid his own pants and slid them off as he moved between Sasha’s thighs. Caressing up the inside of his legs he pushed them up and spread him, then moved his hands inward to cup his balls and stroke his already straining cock.

He stayed there only a moment before caressing lower, his fingers searching between his cheeks. A delighted smile crossed his handsome face as his digit slid easily into his tight slippery heat. “Such a naughty boy…all lubed up and ready in those tight pants.” The fact that he had prepared himself for Jerrett like this sent a jolt of erotic heat straight to his cock.

“Very bad…terribly naughty,” Sasha agreed in a heated whisper. The instructions for him to put on skimpier and skimpier clothes had given him the hint and started the burn of anticipation in his middle. Now he trembled with desire and need, his hands stroking over Jerrett’s sculpted arms and chest. Those wonderful, wonderful arms that held him so tight, that lifted him without effort.

Jerrett sunk another finger into him and pressed deep, his lecherous grin widening as he stroked his fingertips over the smooth little gland inside. Heat flooded him as Sasha’s fingers spasmed on his arms and a needy little whimper escaped him. So damn hot, this boy. His boy. “Like that, do you?” he breathed over his skin.

“Yes, sir…oh, yes.” Sasha squirmed and spread his legs farther. “Want you…so bad.” He knew he couldn’t rush Jerrett but it was all part of the game they both loved. “Please, sir, please, I want you filling me…impaling me…your cock deep inside me…”

“Mmm…tonight, little one, you shall have exactly what you want,” Jerrett promised in a heated whisper. In a smooth shift he withdrew his fingers and pressed the head of his very hard erection in their place. He sank into Sasha without pause. “Oh, god, you feel so good,” he murmured, his lips fastening on to the side of his throat and his arms wrapping around him tight.

Sasha cry of pleasure melted into a heated moan. His legs slid around Jerrett’s hips, his arms around his neck. “Jerrett…oh…so perfect…” His lithe body undulated under Jerrett, heating them both up further. His heart thudded hard against his sternum as if it wanted to leap across the distance to Jerrett. Oh, dear god, how he loved this man.

Jerrett planted heated kisses beneath his ear and down his throat, brushing his lips over the leather of his collar. “Sasha…oh, my Sasha…” He plunged into his receptive body over and over with utter abandon.

Back and neck arched to expose as much of his skin to Jerrett as possible, Sasha moved with him, meeting his every thrust, writhing with delight at each thump against his pleasure gland and each hard rub over his aching erection. The emerald lay heavy against his throat, a sensual reminder of who he belonged to, almost as if it helped Jerrett hold him down.

“Sir,” he whispered as his hands stroked up and down Jerrett’s broad back. ‘Sir…I won’t…last…”

Jerrett’s teeth scraped over the tender skin of Sasha’s throat, nipping at him. His hands crept up into his hair and tugged his head back even farther. Sasha gave another little cry, pleasure-filled and desperate; his fingers dug harder into the muscles of Jerrett’s back. “Come for me, angel…” he managed in a hoarse whisper as his own orgasm slammed up through him.

Sasha heaved with him as he cried out Jerrett’s name. His hard-muscled thighs tightened around Jerrett’s waist and the heavy feeling in his balls exploded upwards in hard spasms. His cries grew softer with each pulse until he floated content and sated in Jerrett’s arms. He nuzzled at Jerrett’s shoulder, too deliriously happy to find words.

It took Jerrett several long minutes before he could move. When he did he looked down at Sasha with a tender expression and then helped him up. “Let’s clean up and go get something to eat.”

Sasha stood on tiptoe to give him a kiss. “Yes, sir. Now that we’ve worked up an appetite.”

#

Anthony had gone home with every intention of going to sleep. Once in bed, though, his heart pounded, his brain raced and he knew it would be a night of tossing with screamingly bad dreams in the wee morning hours.

“Dammit.” He swung out of bed again and pulled on a comfy pair of jeans and a t-shirt that proclaimed ‘Strumpet’ across the chest in bright red letters. No more pick ups. No more stupidity. He was just going to have a few drinks and be where the music would drown out his thoughts.

#

The club was a typical Friday night scene. Packed and loud. Jerrett was definitely showing Sasha off. He kept in constant contact with him, a hand on his arm, or the small of his back, or seated on his knee, and kissed or nuzzled him often in case anyone missed the big neon sign proclaiming Sasha as his.

They were sitting with a group of Jerrett’s friend, drinking and talking, or more like yelling over the music. Jerrett caressed Sasha’s hip and leaned close to his ear. “Go dance.” He knew Sasha wanted to. He also knew no one would come near him with Jerrett hanging over him.

For awhile Sasha did just that. He had no lack of dance partners, though he gently kept any wandering hands at bay and ducked away from kisses, and the fact that Jerrett watched lent an extra bit of heat to the way his graceful body drank in the music. His hips undulated like water, his limbs moved in flawless, beautiful arcs and every so often he would turn and catch Jerrett’s eye with a smile.

Until he turned around and didn’t see him any more.

Jerrett, having grown tired of waiting, had gone to the closest bar for a refill. The crowd had swallowed Sasha up, but he wasn’t worried. He’d find him again eventually.

The club’s first floor was something of a maze of platforms and nooks, dance floors mixed with tables and three bars set up strategically for the patrons’ convenience. Sasha stood on tiptoe, craning to see above taller patrons and then stopped in confusion. Jerrett had said not to go looking for him. Maybe he had…no, he didn’t think any of the people they had met had been those sorts of friends.

The best thing was to stay visible just in case and maybe find a place to be where he wouldn’t be jostled about. He made his way to the little bar near the back of the room and ordered a whiskey sour, his first drink of the night. While he waited for the hot-pants clad bartender to fix it for him, he heard the oddest bit of overly-loud conversation.

“See, now, that’s what everybody thinks but Henry VIII wasn’t a fat, disgusting pig all his life. It was, you know, like a sports injury.”

Sasha turned towards the voice to see a familiar figure perched precariously on a bar stool, waving his half-full glass in sodden fashion in an irritated patron’s face.

“Dude, I don’t know what the hell you’re yapping about but if you don’t back off, you freakazoid, I’m taking your head off,” the man next to Anthony snapped.

“Yeah? Well, you don’t look like you could take the hind-end off–”

Sasha slipped in between with a smile for the angry man. “Sh, Anthony. Hush. Sorry, sir. I’ll keep him out of your hair.”

The man grunted and took his drink elsewhere.

“You shouldn’t be drinking, MA, you know that,” Sasha said in a lull in the music. “And especially not alone.”

“Hey, there, sweet thistle pie.” Anthony lurched closer and nearly missed in his attempt to kiss Sasha’s cheek. He waved a hand to the packed room. “I’m not alone. Lookit all the company I’ve got. Practically fall over all the company. Nope, not alone. Not me.”

“You have someone to take you home, then?” Sasha put an arm around him to guide him to an empty booth. “You didn’t drive, did you?”

Anthony blinked, big gray eyes wide with confusion. “Which question was which now?”

“Don’t, Anthony, please. I know you’re not that drunk. Stop the act. Did something happen tonight?”

“No, no, nothing in particular. Just out having a little fun. It’s good to see you, though. Yep. Just out on the town…” Anthony trailed off, staring into his glass. “Sash…”

“What’s wrong, hon? You know you can tell me.”

Anthony’s face abruptly crumpled. “Sash, I miss you so.”

“But you see me every week. And I’m right here,” Sasha said as he guided Anthony’s head to his shoulder.

“I know and I shouldn’t be here with you now. Not the way I’m feeling. Not with the things I’m thinking. You suddenly materialize like you’ve walked out of a dream and I’m not supposed to…” Anthony wrapped his arms tight around Sasha and seized his lips in a hungry kiss.

He forged on until Sasha melted a little against him, no longer trying so hard to pull back. One hand slid down to cup his perfect, rounded butt, the other sank into the soft silk of Sasha’s hair. “I miss you. I want you. Christ, oh, Sasha, I’ve been so miserable…”

Sasha knew he needed to get up, to shove back, to do something but it was so damn hard. The misery in every line of Anthony’s body, the desperation in his lips and hands, it simply wasn’t in Sasha’s nature to be so cruel.

“What do we have here, hm?”

Sasha and the man he was sucking face with turned toward the asker of that question. Robbie smiled and lifted his hand in a little wave. He had a few more questions, but most of them were answered by the look on Sasha’s face. No, he and Jerrett hadn’t broken up, and no, Jerrett did not know he was sitting there making out with some guy. Ordinarily he would have been thrilled to go immediately and rub Jerrett’s face in the fact that his current boy was stepping out on him, but he owed Sasha one.

Then he noticed the rock dangling from the leather choker around Sasha’s neck. “Wow, nice haul.”

A crimson wave rushed up Sasha’s face. He ducked his head, shame warring with confusion and compassion when Anthony buried his face against his shoulder. “Um… thank…thank you,” he managed in a stricken murmur.

Robbie smiled. He tried for reassuring but the mischief lurking around the edges made it fall a little short. “Relax. I’m not going to tell him. I owe you one for taking care of me when Matty kicked me out, alright. But, listen, if you’re going to sneak around behind his back, I’d suggest going somewhere else. He comes here a lot, people are bound to see you and him together.”

“I’m not sneaking around, Robbie,” Sasha informed him softly. “I came here with Jerrett. He’s here somewhere.”

“Jerrett’s here?” Robbie’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and he gave a glace around, although it wasn’t likely he’d pick anyone out in the dim crush of bodies. He gave a low whistle. “Damn, you got some balls, honey. Good luck, I’m taking off now. Don’t want him thinking I did this somehow.”

Anthony sat back on a slow breath, scrubbing his hands over his face. “I’m sorry, sweets. Hells bells, I’m sorry. I just…” He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head, fighting the jagged rocks pressing on his chest. “Go find your man, Sash. I’m going. I…think I’ve caused enough trouble for you already.”

It was a little too late for Sasha to go find his man. Jerrett had already found him. “Hello Anthony,” he said politely. His gaze shifted to Sasha and of course, the first thing he had to ask was, “Are you behaving yourself, sweetheart?”

Sasha had made a number of specific promises to his Dom, all of which were tumbling down on his head now. He would not let things fester and he would not lie to avoid something unpleasant.

He bowed his head, knowing his expression and his actions said as much as any string of words. “No, sir.”

Jerrett’s eyes flicked from Sasha to Anthony. “I see,” he said simply, without any heat. He held out his hand toward Sasha. “Come, Sasha. I think we need to have a talk.”

“Yessir.” Sasha rested his hand on Jerrett’s palm and rose without question.

“Sir?” Anthony began, though his voice cracked. “I guess…saying it’s my fault won’t help. But it was. I’m…I’m going now. I’ll be home if there’s…anything…you know…” He waved a hand helplessly and rose to go.

Jerrett didn’t speak again until they were in the car. “I can guess what happened. I don’t think you had time to fuck him, though. So, tell me Sasha, what part of you’re mine and I don’t share you didn’t you understand?”

It was hard to say which burned more, Sasha’s face or his throat. So ashamed…he had to answer somehow but it took three tries before anything came out as more than a strangled squeak. “I…I…understood, sir.” He tried for a deep breath and nearly choked on it. “All of it.”

His hands twitched in his lap, his insides trembling. “Anthony was…was…he wasn’t… doing well. I know it’s not…not…it’s not…any excuse. There was a man…at the bar…he was about to start a fight…he…he…it’s just…he was so miserable. I…I just wanted to…to hold him. I shouldn’t have….shouldn’t have…let him…” He pulled in a hitching breath, the shakes moving in little earthquakes through him. “Kiss me.”

Surprisingly Jerrett’s flare of anger was directed more at Anthony than Sasha. He dropped the car in gear and pulled out too fast, cutting someone off, then turned recklessly onto the street without any thought to traffic. He let Sasha worry and nearly shake himself to pieces, not saying another word on the way home.

When they got there he strode up to the house, expecting Sasha to follow, which he did.

Once inside he headed toward the bedroom, Sasha trailing dejectedly behind. He opened Sasha’s closet and pulled out the box he hadn’t used since Elric brought it over. “Strip,” he ordered.

When Sasha was down to nothing but the collar and reached for the fastening at the back, Jerrett stopped him. “No, leave that on.” He took a breath and tried to make his tone less icy. “I’m angry with you and we will talk about this more, but right now you need the box, and I need to cool down. Get in.”

Sasha only nodded, his jaw locked by the violent shaking. He moved slowly, not out of reluctance but because he had a hard time getting his limbs to do what he wanted, and climbed into the padded velvet cell. Curled up with his arms about his head, he nodded to Jerrett to let him know he was ready, and let the tears fall when the doors closed to leave him in the blessed, confining dark.

Jerrett fixed himself a drink and sat brooding. He listened to the sounds which emanated from the box, small at first, then a little louder as Sasha began to sob in earnest. He hated the thought of putting him a fuckin box for Christ sake, but he knew it was what Sasha wanted…what he needed, to calm down. Jerrett could cheerfully have killed Anthony right then.

It was nearly an hour before the sounds quieted. Jerrett lifted the lid slowly. He hadn’t even locked it, though Sasha didn’t know that. He lifted Sasha out, and sat on the edge of the bed, enfolding him in his arms. He stroked his hand over his back and hair and murmured soothingly to him. “Alright, now…” He started, in a much quieter and calmer tone than he’d managed earlier. “I know you were put on the spot, sweetheart. I know you didn’t mean to break the rules. Are you calmer now?”

“Yessir,” Sasha said on a soft sigh. “Thank you.” Infinitely calmer, actually, ready to face whatever came, his heart filled with love for this man who knew what he needed, who was angry and still held him gently.

Jerrett felt some of his anger drain away. Hard to stay pissed when Sasha cuddled up to him. That was odd. Usually he had no problem being a cold hearted bastard to some boy who had earned his ire. But then, he supposed he didn’t think of Sasha as ‘some boy’. He sighed and shook his head at himself. He used to make fun of men he saw doing exactly what he was doing right now.

However, there was still the matter that needed taking care of. “Anthony should have known better, too. I did warn him.” He let Sasha lift his head so he could look at him. “I know he’s your friend, and you care about him, but he was also a lover and it seems to me he’s not getting the hint that he needs to find someone else. I don’t want you to see him for a while.”

“Yessir.” Sasha chewed on his lower lip. With anyone else he would have let it go at that, no questions, no discussion, because before Jerrett he felt he had no voice and no right to an opinion. So many things had changed. “Sir? Is it all right to call him sometimes? I’m… kinda worried about him.”

Jerrett almost relented, because he knew Sasha would worry and stew. But on this he had to stay firm. Anthony had played on Sasha’s sympathy, showed no self-control, and had gotten him in trouble. Besides that, he meant what he said about how he didn’t think Anthony would move on as long as he still had a link to Sasha. Some guys were just like that; there could be no friendship after sleeping with them.

“No, Sasha. He’s got a lesson to learn, too. Your friendship isn’t enough for him? He’s got to push and see if he can get in your pants? Make you worry and feel guilty because he’s pining after you? No. I don’t want you to have contact with him. Not until he’s gotten it in his head that he can’t have you that way.” Some of the anger had crept back into his voice and he made an effort to squash it before it got out of control. “I will ask the Prince to check on him though, so you won’t worry so much. Alright?”

“Yessir. Thank you.” Sasha ducked his head again. It was a hard thing to explain, or rather Anthony was hard to explain. Maybe best not to try too hard. It would probably just annoy Jerrett. But he couldn’t quite let it alone yet. “He’s a good man, sir. Really. I think…” He gave a little shrug. “He shouldn’t drink. It’s bad for him.”

Jerrett’s fingers drummed once on Sasha’s thigh. “Just because a few drinks gives a man the courage, or the lack of inhibitions he usually has, doesn’t mean he didn’t have the intention in his head to begin with.” Jerrett said. Something else occurred to him then too. Sasha agreed to his requests, but that didn’t mean he agreed, it just meant he was trying to placate him. Hence why he kept talking rather than doing something more pleasurable like offering to suck his cock.

“Sasha…” He tried to think of a subtle way to put it. “Do you want me to say you can go fuck him if you want to?”

Sasha stilled, eyes gone rabbit in the headlights wide. What had he said wrong? How had he said it wrong? It wasn’t as if he was asking. If Jerrett never wanted another man to ever make love to him again, even Anthony, that was how things would be.

He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat. “I wouldn’t ask that. I wasn’t…” He sniffed and took a shaky breath, trying to catch himself. “I wasn’t asking that. I just wish…sometimes…you liked him a little better. I wish…he wasn’t so…alone right now.”

Jerrett tried not to grit his teeth, he didn’t want to make Sasha a shivering wreck again. “I know you wouldn’t ask. That doesn’t answer whether you want to or not. Just because you agree to do what I say doesn’t mean you are agreeing mentally or emotionally. So, tell me, do you want him?”

Sasha slid from his lap to kneel on the floor, back straight, head up. Oddly the position made him appear more independent rather than submissive. “That’s not fair, Jerrett,” he answered softly. “Just because I want something doesn’t mean I’d do it. It’s not like I’m three. There’s history. There’s things between us. I won’t lie to you and say I don’t feel anything for him anymore.”

Jerrett was silent for a few heartbeats. “That’s exactly my point. You are agreeing not to see him because I don’t want you to, not because you think it’s right, not because you don’t want to see him. You’re not really agreeing, you’re letting me force you to do something you don’t want to do.”

He stood up and ran an agitated hand through his hair. He paced back and forth a bit, then abruptly left the room. He needed a drink. No, he needed to get drunk.

Sasha stayed on his knees, eyes on the carpet, though every fiber of his being wanted to rush after Jerrett and beg and plead…what? Something…anything…but he didn’t know what to say. Of course he let Jerrett make the decisions. That was the deal, wasn’t it? He couldn’t make decisions himself, couldn’t be trusted with them, so he had a Dom to make them for him.

Wasn’t that how it was supposed to work? And wasn’t he supposed to be a good boy and do as he was told even if he didn’t necessarily agree? The tears stung his eyes again but didn’t fall. He suddenly felt so tired.

An hour later Jerrett returned to the bedroom, nowhere near as sober as he’d left it. He leaned in the doorframe, his fingers wrapped lightly around the neck of a bottle of beer. He’d switched from shots to beer because he was angry, but not so angry he thought a destructive rampage was a good idea.

He looked at Sasha’s lovely body where he knelt, head down. For the first time ever he was in a relationship where he wanted more than obedience, he wanted him to be happy. He could give in, he could let him see Anthony. What was the big deal? It wasn’t a big deal if he wanted to fuck someone else, why should it matter if Sasha did? He let the image of Anthony kissing him creep into his mind, and he got cold inside. No! Mine!

He downed the last of the beer and walked into the room. He slid his fingers into Sasha’s hair and caressed along his scalp. “I’m sorry Sasha, I want you to be happy…but I won’t share you with him. I just can’t.” He looked down into Sasha’s eyes and caressed his cheek. “Can you understand?”

“Yessir,” he said in a whisper and then surged up to wrap his arms around Jerrett’s neck. “Jerrett, I love you…I want to make you happy. That’s what I want.”

Jerrett folded him back into his arms and held him tight, closing his eyes as he bent his head to nuzzle into his hair. “I love you, too. I-I don’t hate him, Sasha. I just can’t stand the thought of someone else touching you. You can talk to him again, but not for a while, alright? He needs to know he can’t just kiss you because he wants to.” He tilted Sasha’s head back so he could brush his lips over his. “Come to bed, love.”

The soft kiss Sasha gave him in return was all the answer he needed. He helped Jerrett undress and climbed into bed with him where they made love for the second time that night, slow and sweet. Jerrett fell asleep with his head on Sasha’s chest. He held him close until morning since Jerrett seemed to need it.