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Keeping Dallas

Amber Kell

Copyright by Amber Kell November 2012

2nd edition April 2017


Cover design: Meredith Russell

Editors: Beany Sparks, Jason Bradley



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission. This book cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer to peer program, for free or for a fee. Such action is illegal and in violation of Copyright Law.

Book 1 in Magical Men



Sometimes secrets have to be exposed in order to capture something worth keeping.

Torn between two alphas, Dallas has to decide if he is willing to give up his position in the pack to keep his human master happy. Born a submissive wolf shifter, Dallas has dreamt of finding the perfect mate. Unfortunately, none of the other shifters attract him as much as his sexy Laurence.

Laurence is riddled with guilt over the secrets he keeps from his beautiful sub. He wants Dallas for a long time to come, but he’s nervous about exposing his inner abilities to a man who he loves but might not be able to trust.

Two men with secrets have to learn to give a little in order to keep the one they love.



Contents



Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five



My Man Declan (Sample)

Author


Dedication



For my fans who like a heart-warming story along with their hot guys.


Chapter One


For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

—Rudyard Kipling



Dallas Ballin kept his head bowed as the conversation buzzed above him. For the past hour, he had stayed in the same kneeling position only half listening from his spot on the soft pillow as the dominants talked. He stopped paying attention fifteen minutes into their conversation after they went from a discussion on the stock market to their favorite wines. Too bad, sometimes he picked up good investment tips. Only his dominant paid any attention to him at these dinnertime meetings. To the others, Dallas might as well have been a piece of furniture. Just the way he liked it. His submissive inner wolf didn’t like to be the focus of a room full of alpha males, even if they were weaker humans.

He fought against the urge to fidget or at least find a more comfortable position on his knees. Master Laurence wouldn’t appreciate any unnecessary movement, and he didn’t want to get a stern look in place of the usual half smile he received. Dallas clenched his butt cheeks to prevent wiggling due to the memory of last week’s spanking after he had talked back to his master. Master Laurence didn’t appreciate back talk from his subs, and Dallas had been given a firm reminder to modify his behavior.

The wolf lurking beneath his skin pushed to be let out so he could curl up at his master’s feet. Although Dallas rationally knew Laurence didn’t own him, he still couldn’t convince his animal half of the fact. To his wolf, Laurence was to be obeyed like an alpha.

This close to the full moon, Dallas struggled with his submissive side. He might not be an alpha wolf, but his inner beast knew he could take down an average human and he didn’t like anyone near his master who might be a threat. Luckily, Master Laurence didn’t have an average bone in his body, and even though he didn’t know of Dallas’s feral nature, Laurence had no difficulty bringing his submissive to heel.

Dallas forced his muscles to relax. He didn’t dare risk his lover’s wrath again. If Laurence became too annoyed, he might not take Dallas home with him. Dallas struggled against the temptation to lay his head on his master’s knee for petting. He tightened his muscles to pull back when he subconsciously began leaning toward Laurence.

Damn!

A short whine tried to work its way up his throat. He ruthlessly tamped it down, as he did with all his other canine urges. He couldn’t betray his true nature—not if he planned on remaining Laurence’s submissive.

The Doms continued their discussions on politics and business, but their words held no interest for Dallas. He saved all his attention for his master. Peering through his lashes, he admired the firm line of his lover’s chin, the lush shape of Laurence’s mouth, and the slight five o’clock shadow growing on his lean cheeks. Dallas longed to lick at the hairs, to lap their rough texture with his tongue. Nothing excited him like his master’s skin, scent, or seed. Touching his beautiful human alpha soothed Dallas’s wolf side.

“Dallas, fetch me a drink,” Master Laurence commanded. A brief stroke across Dallas’s head conveyed the please his master would never say before the other men at the table.

Without a word, Dallas rose gracefully to his feet, then walked over to the bar. He’d practiced each movement until he could go from knees to standing in one smooth motion, with no wobbling.

“Scotch on the rocks, please,” he told Eric, the bartender,. The flirtatious man had started working at Club Silence soon after Dallas first visited the place with his master nine months ago. Although the gorgeous bartender radiated sex appeal, Dallas never responded to any of his advances. It would kill Dallas to cause his master even a moment of concern over his fidelity. They might not be mated like his kind, but his heart belonged to Laurence.

The bartender blatantly admired Dallas for a moment before handing over a glass of scotch. “You ever get tired of your master, you come and see me, beautiful. I’ve got all kinds of things I can show you.” The bartender slid a hot, dark gaze over Dallas. “Here’s a bottle of water for you. I don’t know if you can ask for a drink tonight, but I thought you might be thirsty.”

Laurence’s rules changed according to his mood. Some nights, Dallas could ask for something to drink and other nights his master made Dallas go without until they had finished their scene. Master Laurence hadn’t explicitly said Dallas couldn’t have a drink, so he accepted the bottle held out to him. Laurence would tell him if he couldn’t have the water.

“Thanks.” Dallas allowed a small smile to cross his lips at the bartender’s consideration. Even though Eric always propositioned Dallas, he never crossed the line by touching him. The bartender knew the rules and wouldn’t break them even though he flirted shamelessly with everyone who walked by. Eric’s job depended on him keeping his hands to himself.

After returning to the table, Dallas set the glass of scotch by his master’s left hand before retaking his position on the floor beside Laurence’s chair. With a quick glance at his master, he waited for a nod of permission before quietly opening his bottle of water. Still feeling Laurence’s gaze on him, he took a long sip, trying not to move restlessly beneath his master’s regard.

“What did Eric say to you?” Laurence asked, his voice sharp.

Dallas took a slow breath and tried not to preen over the jealous edge in his master’s voice. Having Laurence’s full attention focused on him made Dallas harder than diamonds. He didn’t mind being in the background as long as Laurence stroked his head or any of the million little things he did to let Dallas know he had someone watching out for him. Dallas looked at Laurence through his lashes, keeping his head tilted down.

“He said if I ever tire of you, he’d be happy to take care of me,” Dallas replied honestly. He didn’t have anything to hide, and Eric, while flirtatious, hadn’t crossed the line by touching him in any way.

A small smile curved Laurence’s hard mouth. Dallas knew his master liked it when he told the truth and didn’t try to hide anything. Laurence had a possessive streak Dallas tried not to trigger if he could help it. He wasn’t one of those subs who acted out to get attention.

“And will you be taking him up on his offer?” Laurence’s voice held nothing but curiosity in its rich tones, but Dallas knew better. It meant his master didn’t want to share his emotions.

“No, Master,” Dallas said, shocked.

Dallas didn’t play games—he was a loyal wolf. He’d stay until his master no longer wanted him. Gossip around the club chattered about how Dallas had already outlasted Laurence’s past three subs. Dallas’s inner wolf would soon try to test his Dom, seeking confirmation he was a worthy alpha to obey. Being a shifter and a submissive brought with it many problems. They were only increased because Laurence had no idea about Dallas’s other half.

“Your pet is quite devoted,” a silky voice spoke above Dallas’s head.

Dallas jerked at the unexpected sound. He should’ve smelled the stranger or at least heard him before the man was halfway across the room. Only practice and training kept Dallas’s gaze focused on the floor. He didn’t recognize the voice, but he didn’t dare meet the eyes of an unknown master. Some men took it the wrong way, and Dallas tried to stay out of trouble while keeping Laurence company. The rest of the time, all bets were off.

“Yes, he is,” Laurence agreed.

Dallas smiled at the satisfaction he could hear in his master’s voice, even as his nerves strummed with uneasiness. Dallas took a subtle sniff, but the man didn’t smell like anything.

Nothing at all.

He completely lacked a scent. Crap.

Vampire.

To Dallas’s limited knowledge, only vampires didn’t have a scent—something to do with being undead. No one had ever explained it to his satisfaction. Maybe death washed away any sense of self. Still, the environment should have added some fragrance to a vampire’s skin. Now he wished he’d paid better attention to his pack alpha’s lectures on other creatures. Dallas made a silent plea to make it out of there alive so he could swear to his alpha to always listen when he spoke. If nothing else, it would be worth the expression on Rolf’s face.

He tensed, waiting to see if he needed to protect Laurence from the vampire.

A familiar touch stroking his head calmed him as if Laurence knew Dallas needed reassurance. Even as he relaxed beneath his master’s touch, Dallas mentally prodded the stranger to move on.

Nothing to see here—I’m not the werekin you’re looking for…

Maybe if he thought loud enough, the man would leave.

“I don’t suppose you’d be open to lending him out?” the vampire asked.

Double damn. Apparently his wishing-for-the-creature’s-absence technique still needed some bugs worked out.

Dallas shivered slightly as the chill of the unknown threatened to make him break his position. They’d never discussed sharing him with others. He didn’t even know if they had an exclusive arrangement. No words of love or devotion had crossed either of their lips. Their relationship had worked well for the past nine months without sappy words or emotional acknowledgements. Why break something that worked?

However, if his master offered to give him away for the night, Dallas would leave and never return. By tooth and claw, Dallas had kept his position among his pack and proved his value. Unfortunately, the human world had different standards…lesser standards. Dallas would happily shred any sub who thought they could kneel at his master’s side, but he wouldn’t be passed around like a plaything.

“I don’t share my pet.” His master’s firm answer flooded Dallas with relief.

“Shame,” the vampire continued. “He’s such a pretty thing.”

An unfamiliar touch on his hair had him freeze in place. It took all Dallas’s resolve not to recoil beneath the vampire’s hand. Any non-pack contact other than his master’s made his skin crawl. Dallas worried that he might have imprinted on his human. He knew Rolf would have more than a few words to say when he found out.

Sometimes it sucked to be torn between two alphas and try to decide which he should obey—the alpha of his pack or the alpha of his heart.

“Don’t touch him,” Laurence snapped, his voice sharper than any whip.

“Sorry.” The other man didn’t sound sorry at all, but after a moment, his feet moved away.

Dallas released his breath. He hadn’t even realized he’d been holding it.

Laurence stroked a hand down Dallas’s back, soothing his frayed nerves.

“Watch yourself with that one, Laurence.” One of the other masters at the table spoke. “I don’t like how he looked at your boy.”

“Agreed. Come, Dallas, let’s go home.”

Dallas waited until his master stood before rising to his feet.


* * * *


Laurence Campas watched with a critical eye as Dallas stood. To him, no one in the club came close to the beauty of his boy. Sweet, lovely Dallas might be submissive, but he held the ability to crush Laurence’s heart in his delicate hands. They had met when Dallas bumped into Laurence at a coffee shop downtown. After one glance, Laurence had known he wanted to keep the gentle boy as his own. Not once had he regretted that decision.

Because of the secrets he kept from Dallas, Laurence knew eventually his sub would tire of Laurence’s need for privacy and move on. Dallas wouldn’t be the first man who left him over his failure to open up, but he would be the only one Laurence missed.

Being a sorcerer and a witch judge had its ups and downs. Although Laurence made a good living and enjoyed the prestige of being a judge, when others didn’t agree with his rulings, life could get tricky. He’d recently heard rumbles of a particular coven not liking his decision against one of their minor witches. However, when you started taunting zombies, there had to be repercussions.

Laurence shrugged off his concerns and concentrated on Dallas. After absently scanning Dallas for signs of distress, Laurence led the way out of the club. He hadn’t expected a vampire to wander into the place, and he definitely had not expected the bastard to touch his boy. If Laurence hadn’t needed to keep his abilities a secret, he would’ve smoked the asshole. The best he could do was usher Dallas out of the area before the vampire returned and possibly tried to bite him. Even if it took revealing his magic, Laurence would protect his submissive.

As they headed to the car, he listened to Dallas’s footsteps. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder to know Dallas trailed two steps behind him. After going to the club, they always ended Saturday nights at Laurence’s condo. In all the time they’d been together, Laurence had never even seen Dallas’s home, much less been told where he lived. He’d tentatively asked a few times, but Dallas had brushed off his questions in his polite way.

Either Dallas’s home embarrassed him or he wasn’t comfortable enough yet to share that information. Laurence didn’t like to push his shy lover, except in the bedroom, so he didn’t hound him about his living conditions. A sudden horrible thought had him whipping around to face Dallas.

“You’re not seeing anyone else, are you?”

The sub’s wide eyes told the true story. “No, Master, of course not.”

“Good. Good. I’m not, either. I don’t want you dating anyone else while we’re together, understood?” He should’ve made that clear months ago. Relief swept through him that Dallas hadn’t taken advantage of Laurence’s stupid oversight. The idea of his boy allowing another man to touch him made Laurence ill. He absently rubbed his stomach as he waited for his sub’s reply. If Dallas refused to be exclusive, Laurence didn’t know what he’d do.

“Yes, Master, I understand. I won’t see anyone else.” Dallas’s sincerity rang in the air.

A weight Laurence didn’t know he’d been carrying lifted off his heart while the airplanes playing chicken in his stomach landed safely. Hell, he’d given life-changing sentences with less stress than that short conversation. The degree of relief surging through him at Dallas’s soft vow had him smiling like an idiot.

Dallas always took a cab to the club, then home from Laurence’s townhouse so they could leave together. Laurence wondered for the first time if his lover even owned a vehicle. Why had he never asked before?

“Do you have a car?”

“No, Master.” Dallas tilted his head and gave Laurence the inquiring puppy look Laurence found so endearing. Now he felt like a selfish prick. His lover couldn’t afford a car, and Laurence made him spend money he didn’t have on a cab ride every Saturday. What an inconsiderate ass he’d turned into.

“Next week, I’ll pick you up from home,” Laurence informed him.

“No! I mean, that isn’t necessary,” Dallas finished smoothly, but Laurence had seen the panic flash in the sub’s eyes and suspicion prickled his nerves.

At this rate, he would get an ulcer before the night ended. “Is there something you’re not telling me?” He made sure to use his Dom voice. That tone always instilled total obedience from his beautiful lover.

“M-my family doesn’t approve of my dating you.” Dallas stumbled over the words as if they were torn from his soul.

Laurence wondered if Dallas’s family had any idea of what he’d be willing to do to keep his sweet boy happy. If they did, they’d think twice about making Dallas uncomfortable over his choices. Laurence would make them disappear if necessary. No one upset Dallas!

“Is it the gay thing, the master thing, or the older man thing?” He wondered how much about their relationship Dallas had shared.


* * * *


Dallas stared at his master for a moment. It was the not-a-wolf thing that had his pack up in arms about Laurence. They just couldn’t understand why he’d submit to a human. They also didn’t understand that some human men could sometimes be alphas, too. To their way of thinking, dominance only happened with strong wolves.

Sometimes, Dallas fantasized about a meeting between his master and his alpha.

Generally, those fantasies turned into nightmares.

“A little bit of everything,” he conceded, though he wondered about his master’s sudden interest in his life outside their relationship. They’d gotten along so well without this unnatural interest. Laurence’s lack of curiosity was one of his best features.

“Ahh.”

He received his lover’s warm smile and relaxed his guard a little. Laurence rarely crossed the line into intrusion, making it easy for Dallas to keep his lover away from the pack house and avoiding him during full moons. He hoped Laurence didn’t plan on changing any time soon.

The silence in the car had a companionable feel as they pulled into Laurence’s garage. Dallas followed Laurence up the steps to his front door. The little townhouse had one of the most beautiful views in the city. Dallas enjoyed watching the lights over the water while kneeling before the tall glass windows at his master’s feet.

Once he’d crossed the threshold, Dallas barely waited until the door had shut behind him to strip out of his clothes, fold them, and set them on a chair provided by the entrance. He refused to think about how many other subs might have done the exact same thing in the past or in the future. His master’s sudden questioning had Dallas on edge.

“You’re a beautiful man,” Laurence commented in hushed tones.

Surprised at the praise, Dallas turned to face his master. Although he knew Laurence appreciated his looks, he rarely said anything.

“Thank you, Master,” Dallas replied, trying to hide his surprise.

Laurence smiled.

“Don’t be so shocked. I’ve spent all week away from you. When I finally get you to myself, I need to get you naked as soon as possible and claim you as mine. I don’t generally take the time for compliments.”

Dallas wondered what had changed. “I don’t need compliments,” he responded in a mild tone. Like the typical pack omega, he only needed his master’s touch and the knowledge that Laurence approved of Dallas’s behavior.

Laurence slid his fingers through Dallas’s hair. “You might not need to hear compliments, but I sometimes need to give them. I want you to know I find you attractive and that you are the most stunning man I’ve ever seen.”

The last words were said in a soft, worshipful tone Dallas had never heard before. Having grown up among some of the most beautiful men on the planet, Dallas had never given much thought to his appearance, other than to make sure he dressed neatly when going to meet his Dom.

Maybe among humans he stood out, but among wolves he was just another weak wolf who needed watching over. Hell, he didn’t even have his college diploma yet. Until he finished his education, Dallas wouldn’t be assigned a career, and right now he still had to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up—something besides his master’s sub. Rolf had been quite clear on the matter. Of course, the alpha also didn’t think Dallas’s relationship with Laurence would last.

Laurence wrapped one hand around the back of Dallas’s neck and splayed the other across his bare back, enhancing their inches of contact. Without another word, he yanked Dallas close. The feel of his master’s clothing against his bare skin increased Dallas’s sensation of vulnerability. He let out a soft sound of satisfaction. If he were a cat shifter, he would’ve purred.

As Laurence leaned forward, Dallas tried to push up on his toes to encourage the kiss. He needed the contact more than anything. His wolf yearned for reassurance, to be claimed by his master’s touch.

“Easy, pet. You don’t get to be in control,” Laurence murmured against Dallas’s lips.

Of course not.

Dallas eased back, settling on his heels, not wanting his Dom to pull away in order to teach him a lesson. Laurence had more than once used depriving him of kisses as a punishment to keep Dallas under control. It was a particularly effective way to put him back in line. Dallas would do almost anything for the touch of his master’s lips.

Relaxing into Laurence’s embrace, Dallas moaned over his reward as Laurence’s hard mouth took Dallas’s in a rough, conquering move designed to remind Dallas who controlled their encounters. He sighed against his lover’s lips.

A soft chuckle whispered across his skin. “I’ve never met a man more comfortable with his submission,” Laurence confessed. “You are like a dream to me.”

Dallas shrugged, uncomfortable with the slant of the conversation. Unlike humans who had to find their own level of submission or dominance, wolves were born knowing their place in the pack. Before they left puberty, every wolf knew where they’d fit in the hierarchy. Except for some adult posturing over ranking, wolves never changed dominance levels. Being submissive was one of the easiest things Dallas could do. Finding a person who could be his match had proven more challenging.

“I only want to please you, Master,” Dallas answered honestly. The expression on Laurence’s face told him he’d said the right thing.

“You please me a great deal.” Laurence kissed Dallas again. Waves of pleasure poured through him at his master’s praise and touch. After a series of body-tingling kisses, Dallas had to gasp for breath when his master finally freed him.

“How may I serve you?” Dallas asked, flicking a look at Laurence through his lashes—an effective trick that usually had his master ordering Dallas to suck him off.

Laurence shook his head at Dallas’s obvious ploy. “Bedroom, now!” he ordered.

“Yes, s…Master.” Dallas bit back the sir he’d almost said. Laurence hated it when Dallas called him sir. He said it lessened their relationship for Dallas to use the same honorific he’d used with other men.

Without bothering to see if Laurence followed, Dallas headed for the bedroom. Cool entry tile changed to soft carpet against the soles of his feet. Not long after they’d met, Laurence had added the thick plush carpeting , and Dallas’s knees were grateful for the change. Having knelt on many hard surfaces in his short life, he had come to appreciate good flooring.

Dallas climbed up on the bed and turned around to kneel at its foot, knees apart, left wrist clamped in his right hand behind him, back straight. Laurence hated sloppy positioning.

Although it couldn’t have been more than a minute or two, he let out a quiet sigh of relief when he heard Laurence’s footsteps on the tile outside the room. A moment later, the bedroom door he’d left open closed. Dallas kept his focus on the floor, not daring to move.

“Do you know what I like best about coming into the room and seeing you kneeling on my bed?” Laurence asked.

“No, Master,” Dallas said.

“The look in your eyes when you see me.”

The Dom stepped into Dallas’s line of vision, and whatever expression Dallas wore brought a smile to Laurence’s severe face. Dallas let his gaze hungrily absorb his lover’s appearance.

He loved him.

Despite the secrets between them and the short time they’d been together, Dallas’s wolf had known at first sight that the hard Dom would always be a part of his heart. When their relationship finally ended, Dallas would never recover from the loss. His wolf half would mourn his mate for the rest of his life.


* * * *


Laurence cupped Dallas’s cheek, he placed a soft kiss on his lips. “Are you all right, pet?”

Dallas nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry. I went away for a bit.”

Usually Dallas had amazing focus. Laurence hoped this wasn’t a sign of his boy’s waning interest. He needed the sub far more than Dallas could possibly know. Sorcerers needed grounding. Since he’d met Dallas, Laurence’s magic had smoothed out and he rarely needed to take the medicine to mute his powers in order to maintain control. If he lost Dallas, he knew he’d completely lose the ability to keep his magic under wraps. The strong forces within his fragile human form barely stayed contained at times. It continually surprised him that his sweet, kind sub could ground Laurence with only one meeting a week.

Something about Dallas tamed his wilder nature. Without his beautiful sub, Laurence worried over what he might become. No matter what the cost, he needed to keep Dallas.

With a final kiss, he stepped away from his sub and began to strip. “Eyes on me,” he ordered. He couldn’t stop the smile when Dallas’s cock rose at his command. The younger man’s attraction to him couldn’t be faked. Dallas’s hot gaze seemed to nearly burn his skin. Ignoring his sub for the moment took far more willpower than it should have.

With slow methodical movements, Laurence slipped the shirt buttons out of their holes, displaying patches of skin like a sexy peepshow. With Dallas’s intense focus, Laurence felt like the hottest stripper on the planet. With economical movements, he removed the rest of his clothing, careful not to rush despite the urge to throw his sub down and fuck him into next week.

Dallas might be a sweet sub, but the man could take pain better than anyone Laurence had ever dominated before. “What would you like tonight, Dallas?”

The sub tilted his head as if he didn’t understand the question. “M-master?”

“Do you want the flog, the whip, or my hands paddling your ass? What are you looking for?” Laurence opened the armoire, revealing his assortment of toys. “Come pick out two things you’d like.”

He waited with amusement as Dallas cautiously crawled off the bed and approached the cabinet, warier than a fidgety cat. He didn’t blame the man—some Doms might use this as a test. Laurence was only curious. He knew Dallas detested anything that blocked his vision and had gone into a true panic the one time Laurence had used a blindfold. Not wanting to scare off his lover, Laurence had put blindfolds on the never-to-be-used list. Dallas’s fear had been so strong Laurence knew it wouldn’t work for a sexy encounter and might lead to psychological trauma if used again.

He’d tossed all his blindfolds after that first incident.

As Dallas carefully reviewed his choices, Laurence waited impatiently to see what his submissive would pick. Dallas’s fingers slid across a flogger, traced one particularly wicked whip, and caressed the bottom edge of a cane.

The third time Dallas traveled his fingers around the cabinet, it occurred to Laurence that his submissive was stalling. How curious. Dallas had never tried to delay their lovemaking before.

“Dallas?”

“S-sorry, Master. I’m feeling nervous tonight,” Dallas explained, his voice stumbling over his words.

Laurence walked up behind his sub, wrapped his hands around Dallas’s arms, and pulled him close. He placed a soft kiss on his sub’s neck. “What’s wrong?”

Dallas shrugged. “I’m worried I’ll choose the wrong thing.”

Laurence turned his sub around. Dallas’s top teeth gnawed his bottom lip anxiously, and his eyes glowed with an uncertain light.

“There are no wrong answers, love. This isn’t a test. I merely wanted to see what you wished to play with for the night,” he assured his sub.

“Oh.” Tension flowed out of the slim body like a balloon deflating. “Okay.”

Laurence spun Dallas back around. “Pick.”

Dallas quickly chose a soft flogger they’d used a few times before. No cuffs, not even the soft ones, were even glanced at. Dallas hated cuffs almost as much as the blindfold. Any kind of confinement made Dallas uneasy.

“Why don’t you like the cuffs?” Laurence asked. Although he didn’t like questions himself, it occurred to Laurence that he knew as little about Dallas as his sub knew about him.

Dallas froze, the hand holding the flogger white-knuckled for an instant before relaxing again.

Silence.

“I asked you a question.” Laurence used his best commanding tone and waited to see what Dallas would do.

Dallas eyed the flogger. Normally, Laurence would make Dallas meet his eyes while he answered, but instinct told Laurence if he pushed too hard he’d lose his sub entirely. How had they gone from a playful scene to this much tension? He almost wanted to take the question back…almost.

“I was kidnapped as a child. They chained me to the wall and blindfolded me,” Dallas confessed.

Oh, crap.

Laurence had been right when he thought his young sub had been traumatized before. This was much worse than a mere dislike of confinement. He carefully turned Dallas to face him, tilting up Dallas’s chin with his fingers to see his expression. Memories haunted his beautiful eyes. Twinges of guilt stabbed at Laurence.

“I’ll never purposely use anything on you that brings back your fear. How old were you?”

“Twelve,” Dallas whispered.

“Fuck, you were just a baby. What happened?”

Dallas’s face hardened into a feral mask Laurence had never seen before. “I escaped. My guardian found me and brought me home.”

“Is that who you live with now?” Laurence asked. Curiosity about his lover’s life hit him. Why had he never asked about it before? He knew he’d been frightened of scaring off his skittish lover, but he should’ve at least asked about his background. Dallas might show up every Saturday for their habitual date, but his sub had never promised anything long-term.

Laurence planned to change that. He needed Dallas every day.


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