Read Tough Love Online

Authors: Heidi Cullinan

Tough Love (8 page)

Chenco thought of the hundreds of dollars, maybe even a thousand, loose and lost somewhere at Club 33. Booker would pick up some of it, but…well, Chenco wouldn’t get half of what was actually there. So much money gone, money he needed right now more than ever.

Not now. Don’t think about it right now because you have enough on your plate as it is.

He swallowed hard. “If you could carry me please, I’d be very grateful.”

A heavy hand came down on his shoulder, no pain this time, just gentle touch. “You’re doing well, Chenco. You’re being very, very strong. This is a lot to take in, and you’re trusting a stranger, and you’re being smart and strong and good.”

You’re a good, strong man.
Chenco felt himself teeter, and he let out a shuddering sigh. “Don’t, please—it breaks me when you’re nice.”

“I noticed. But usually I like to get to know someone before I start sharing pain without politeness first.”

The comment made Chenco dizzy. “I think I need to get inside.”

“I’ll come around to get you.”

Chenco gathered his bag and his shoes from the backseat—his shoes! He’d forgotten they were there, and it was like finding an extra Christmas present under the tree. He slipped them on, and by the time Steve was at his door, he felt a lot better. Steve nodded approval at the footwear, but he still helped Chenco up the stairs and into the trailer, carrying his bag for him. Once inside, Steve addressed Chenco again.

“Am I waiting here, or do you want me to come back to your room while you change?”

Shaking his head, Chenco gave a half-smile. “Wow. You are
serious
about getting permission for everything.”

“For the record, my asking for permission comes from the BDSM background you’re so nervous about.” He cleared his throat. “I need the answer. Am I’m coming back with you or waiting here?”

Chenco considered. “I think I want you to come.” When this statement was met with silence, Chenco sighed, irritated. “Fine. I want you to come along. Part of me thinks I’m being stupid, but I still want you to come sit with me while I change.”

This confession seemed to relax Steve. “First of all, it’s natural and smart to be wary, and since I haven’t had adequate time or opportunity to demonstrate my trustworthiness, I’ll take it as a compliment someone as smart and careful as you has decided to accept me as safe on so little.” His expression became gentle, very patient, and it was such a change Chenco almost felt lightheaded. “So it’s clear—nothing about this is a setup to get you in bed or anything smelling like sex.”

The damnedest part was every now and again Chenco
was
thinking about sex with Steve, in this distant, maybe-I’ll-get-off-to-it kind of way. It was more humble pie than he cared for to hear the attraction wasn’t reciprocated, but it was also a relief.

Chenco shook his head. “This is the most surreal conversation I’ve ever had.”

Steve’s whole goatee lifted in a grin. “It’s probably the most
real
conversation you’ve had, especially about sex.”

God,
that
statement was borderline arrogant. Bossy McBosserpants. Big old Dom, don’t-you-fuck-with-me, I-run-the-room Steve Vance.

Except for the half a second in the car.

Even from a few feet away, Chenco could smell Steve, a subtle but intoxicating bouquet of leather and sweat. No more vulnerability now, not so much as a morsel. Chenco couldn’t decide which he liked better. Bossy or not, this was hot, this
don’t worry, I got the whole world
persona. He thought about the comment Steve had made about real conversations and tried to unpack it.

“Is that why you’re a sadist? Because it gives you control of things?”

“I’m a sadist because it’s who I am. It’s as impossible to separate from my identity as being gay. Practicing BDSM gives me focus and structure, like being Caramela does for you, I’d imagine. In a world eager to reject people like me, BDSM gives my sadism a frame which not only works but makes me stronger. I may take the lifestyle more seriously than some, may extend it deeper into aspects of my life, but it helps me find myself, my center, my space, and it makes me a better person.”

“You make it sound like a religion.”

“For some of us, I think it is.”

Chenco digested this. Unfortunately as he did so, his bladder reminded him it had been putting up with his bullshit since eight thirty. “This is the worst segue ever, but I have to pee.”

Steve grinned, and Chenco decided he very much liked Steve’s smiles. “Do you want some help, or are you explaining why you’re about to run off?”

“No help, but could you stand outside the door and talk to me? I… Well, your voice is very soothing right now.”

Steve nodded to the hall. “You lead. I’ll follow.”

Chapter Five

Steve liked Chenco, which was fine. Except he
really liked
Chenco, which wasn’t so fine. Initially he’d justified the attraction as a kind of do-over for Gordy, yes, just as Jansen had accused. The problem was Steve realized now the two men had nothing in common except for life dealing them a shit hand. Chenco was young only in the number of years he’d been on the earth. In every other respect, the kid had more than once made Steve feel foolish in the face of the younger man’s maturity. Something about being with the boy kept ripping the floor out from underneath him, and he didn’t like it.

Except for those moments when he loved it.

“Do I have time to shower?” Chenco hung up his dress and began to peel out of his compression garments. He paused with his hand on the edge of his underwear. “Is it okay if I get undressed in front of you?”

“I don’t mind, if you don’t,” Steve told him. “And yes, you have time for a shower.”

“Have you heard from the others? Are they back at your place? Is Randy okay?”

Steve nodded. He’d exchanged several texts with both Sam and Randy. “Their greatest struggle is Randy wanting weed for the pain, and Sam doesn’t want him to have it. Oh, which reminds me. Randy says he’s got your shoes, and they’re fine. In fact, the dice heels made him laugh. If you want to shove one up his ass, he says he can take it.”

Chenco continued to fight the elastic. “I stab him and he makes a joke?”

“That would be Randy.” The elastic had rolled down enough to expose the jutting bones of Chenco’s slender hips. “I think he almost means it. It’s as I said, he feels bad he misread you.”

“Why is it such a big deal to him?”

The dark flesh of Chenco’s groin appeared—no hair, completely shaved. Steve’s cock took notice. “He’s a poker player. Professional. Reading people is, in every way, how he survives.”

Chenco slid the underwear down to his thighs, and his cock sprang free, soft and springy and uncut, flopping twice before resting against low-hung, heavy balls, wrinkled from their confinement. “Well, tell him it’s fine. I’m not stabbing him again, nor am I going anywhere near his ass, and I apologize for doing it at all. They aren’t my shoes, so it’s good they’re not broken.” Chenco caught Steve examining his body and paused. “I thought you said no sexy times.” When Steve said nothing, he added, “You’re watching my cock, and your package says you have something for me.”

“I’m watching your cock because you’re sexy and hot and I like cocks. Being interested doesn’t mean I’m going to do anything about it.”

“So if I told you I was interested, there’d still be no sex?”

“Not tonight, no.”

He couldn’t tell if Chenco was annoyed, hurt or simply confused. “Not even a quick one-off to relieve tension?”

“I take sex very seriously. I don’t enter into it lightly.”

“Me either.” This made Chenco give him a wry smile. “Funny how it’s probably why I almost feel like breaking my rule with you.”

Steve was attracted too, so he figured they might as well lay it all on the table. “I need you to remember I’m a sadist.”

Chenco stepped out of his compression underwear and reached into a drawer for a pair of briefs. “So when you have sex, there’s pain? For the person you’re having sex with?”

Nodding, Steve watched Chenco as he fell silent, clearly thinking hard as he climbed into jeans and a T-shirt.

“What does it mean, exactly? Sex with pain? I mean, I know a little of the lifestyle through Booker and a couple other friends, but you don’t seem like you play the same as he and Trist.”

“It means I take pleasure in inflicting pain on my partner while engaging in intercourse. Holding him down. Bites. Pinches. I enjoy flogging a great deal, but I love edge play and needles best of all. Mostly what I love, more than anything, is to fuck someone while he cries because of pain I’ve given him.”

Chenco studied Steve critically. “I don’t understand. I’m trying, but it frankly sounds scary and mean.”

Steve appreciated the honesty. “Sex with pain can be scary—and I love that part. It’s terrifying for someone to turn so much trust over to you. They give it to me, believing I can take them to a high they need so desperately but cannot find on their own. Giving that to someone is a gift I take seriously. It’s power and control and terrible, crushing responsibility. It’s chaos and danger, and I’m allowed to hold it in my hand and make it something beautiful.”

Chenco had been putting on his socks when Steve started, but stopped and sat on a bench, listening. “Wow. I’m not sure it’s for me, but you definitely make it sound good.” Steve meant to shield his thoughts so Chenco couldn’t read them, but Chenco gave Steve a little glare as he finished with his sock. “
You
think it’s for me.”

“I think you shouldn’t ever dismiss something entirely without exploring it first.”

Now Chenco looked triumphant, like he’d caught Steve on a technicality. “You said no sex. So I can’t try it, not yet.”

“And I told you BDSM isn’t necessarily about sex. You want to test the waters, we can start right now.”

Chenco startled, his gaze darting to Steve’s hands. “I don’t want to be tied up.”

“I’m not talking about tying you up.”

Chenco crossed his arms over his chest, hunching his shoulders. “Then what
are
you talking about? Tell me what you’d want to do. I’m not saying we’re doing anything, now or ever, but I’ll tell you one thing right now—I
hate
surprises, especially in bed. It’s why I don’t have sex often. Every time I let go, somebody fucks me over.”

“BDSM isn’t about surprises. In the lifestyle,
consent
is king. Even if play is about taking away control, none of it happens until the submissive
gives
the control up. What it can do, though, is offer a safe place to escape, to be. For example, if we were in a D/s relationship, after a night like tonight I’d ask you to do a scene with me, as I’d figure you needed it.”

Chenco’s eyes widened. “On a night like
tonight
you’d want to do BDSM?”

“I said if we were in a relationship, but we aren’t.”

“Except you said you could show me right now.”

Fuck.
This time he
was
caught on a technicality. Steve tried to hide his unease with an arched eyebrow.

Chenco tucked those arms tighter around him. “Fine. Then tell me what you’d have me do if we were in a D/s thing.”

“D stands for Dom, and s for sub. Dominant and submissive.” He gestured to the floor. “First thing I’d have you do if you were my sub is have you kneel in position. You’d go to your knees and put your hands behind your back, one wrist clasped inside your other palm. That alone would do a lot for you. Going to your knees for me would mean you were giving up control, so part of your brain would already be letting go.”

“Weird, how BDSM is about safety.” Chenco paused and corrected himself. “I mean, not weird. Good. Not what I thought, though.”

Steve cocked a wry smile. “Most people think it’s about tying somebody up and getting them off. Probably the same way people think drag is about putting on a dress.”

Chenco laughed. “Point taken. So what would be next?”

“Next I’d let you sit there a bit, enjoying yourself. Everything after would be specific to you and our relationship, which is theoretical at this point.” Steve rubbed his beard a minute before continuing. “I’d say first I’d walk some circles around you, not touching you, but letting you know I was there. This would narrow your focus to me, shutting out the rest of the world.”

Chenco’s stance had relaxed a great deal as Steve spoke, and while his arms were still folded in front of him, they’d slipped to something only casually self-protective. “That sounds kind of nice.”

“Contrary to what you might be thinking, that’s the entire point.” Steve leaned over on his knees, his body posture open and casual—except the look on Chenco’s face was doing him in. “I’d tell you that you were a good boy. If it were the kind of relationship we had, I’d assign you a punishment for what you did to Randy. I can tell it’s eating at you, what happened at the club, and you’re punishing yourself. If we were in a relationship, I’d want those sorts of things to fall to me.”

Now Chenco looked intrigued. “Punish me how?”

“It’d depend on what I’d found out you liked. You’re thinking spanks or flogging, but if you
enjoyed
such activities, it wouldn’t be a punishment. You need to face what you did but also process it. You’d feel easier knowing I’d taken the responsibility from you, reminding you it wasn’t yours to worry about anymore.”

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