Read Tough Love Online

Authors: Heidi Cullinan

Tough Love (9 page)

Chenco’s body posture was fully relaxed now, and he looked still slightly wary, but mostly hungry. “That…sounds good actually.”

“I could do it, if you’d trust me to. But it’s okay if you don’t.”

This time Steve had pulled the rug out from under his own feet. What the fuck was he offering this for?

To make things worse, Chenco looked
now. “I… Maybe. Can I think about it?”

“Of course.” Steve cleared his throat.

“What else would you do? Right now, if we were in a relationship?”

Goddamn if he wasn’t half under this kid. This sweet, smart young man who was just finding out he liked pain. “I’d want things to be all about you, about putting you at ease, making you feel good. I wouldn’t use pain right now. This is about comfort. Not sex, even if that was part of our BDSM relationship.”

“You mean some people have BDSM relationships without sex?”

“Yes. More than you probably think. But as I said, this isn’t about sex. I’d praise you, remind you of your punishment, and then…” He scratched his beard. “Then I think I’d pull up my chair and pet you.”


“Yeah.” Steve mimed stroking a submissive’s hair, as if the sub knelt between his legs. “Pet. Bad as you got shaken up, I’d let you lean on my thigh, nice and close, my legs surrounding you. Making your world narrow for as long as you needed. Something tells me there hasn’t been a lot of touch in your life for a while, and never anything so safe and simple with another man.”

Chenco stiffened, the observation clearly hitting close to home. “I’d just sit there? Leaning on you?”

Steve could see it in his head, so beautiful it made him ache. “While I stroked your hair and said you were a good, smart, strong boy. Yeah. That’s what I’d do.”

Chenco stared at him a few seconds. “Could we…could we do it now?”

the last sane part of Steve whispered, but sanity died under Chenco’s dark, beautiful gaze. Steve smiled, the rug not only pulled out from under him but rolled up and put away. “Absolutely.”


Chenco hadn’t planned on asking Steve to pet him, and knowing it was going to happen freaked him out. A lot. It also made him shake, he wanted it so much. Which freaked him out more. He wanted
? With this guy he’d known for ten minutes? What the

Except yeah, he really did.

If Steve knew how nervous Chenco was, he didn’t let it show. Chenco worried he’d shout “on your knees” or something and wreck it, but Steve simply kept watching Chenco, like he had all the time in the world. When he finally spoke, his voice was so gentle it made Chenco ache.

“Nothing will happen which we didn’t discuss. Is there something, though, you’d rather not do?”

Chenco had no idea he wanted any of it to happen. Only one thing stood out as a potential danger zone. “What about the punishment part?”

“I don’t know you well enough to give you a punishment yet. But if you want me to take it over for you, if you trust me to read you and judge correctly, then yes, I’ll take the responsibility for it and get back to you when I figure it out.”

Never, not in a thousand years, would Chenco have thought he wanted someone to punish him, but holy shit, he did. It tore him up inside knowing maybe his brother wasn’t the monster but rather the family he’d dreamed of,
and Caramela had slammed her stiletto into the chest of his brother’s best friend.
If Steve could make the heavy regret and guilt go away? God, yes. Except… “Is it stupid of me to say yes when I barely know you, agreeing only because I really want to?”

There it was again, the vulnerability. Steve faltered, a weird look of guilt and unsteadiness all over his face. Which made no damn sense. Chenco was the one potentially getting the scolding or whatever. As he had before, Steve recovered quickly, going back into
ice, ice baby
mode. But Chenco couldn’t unsee the moment when Steve, counter to his big, bad persona, had not been entirely in control.

“That’s something only you can answer,” Steve said at last.

Nice evasion, but Chenco truly needed this sorted out. “But what would you do, if you punished me? Let’s say I said yes and you’d had time to think about it. What’s a for-instance?” Chenco bit his lip. “I hope you get I don’t like to be embarrassed, especially in front of other people. I mean, would Mitch and those guys know about it?”

“We’d negotiate whether or not it was public or private. If the others did know about it, I can promise you none of them would view a punishment as something you should be embarrassed about.” Steve tilted his head. “Are you asking me, Chenco, to punish you for putting a heel through Randy’s shoulder? Even though it was Caramela who did it?”

Tricky question. “Well, she’s me. And she did it to protect me. But honestly, she’s mostly the front I use to be brave enough to do the things I’d like to do. So I had her wig on and her makeup, and they were her shoes, but I…” He stopped, getting lost. “I don’t know actually. Maybe it’s not as simple as it felt, asking for this.”

“If I decide Caramela needs to take the punishment, will she honor my decision?”

Chenco bit his lip as he stared at the floor, as if maybe the answer was in the carpet. “Well…no.”

“But you want the punishment? You feel it’s yours to take on?”

Did he? “Maybe.” He lifted his gaze. “Okay, forget the punishment. Right now I’d like to stick with the petting thing. It sounds nice. And I’d rather nobody else knew about it for now. Is that okay?”

The amount of approval coming from Steve’s expression made Chenco feel like jelly. No more of the weird indecision, the guilt or vulnerability or whatever it was, only Chenco feeling so safe. Steve smiled then said in the same gentle voice, but this time with a thread of command, “Get on your knees, Chenco.”

Chenco went to the floor.

He did his best to take up the pose Steve had described, back straight, knees slightly apart, hands clasped behind his back. He kept his chin up, trying not to seem defiant but still attentive. Kind of a kneeling parade rest. He watched Steve, wary but mostly wondering if he’d done it right.

Steve smiled. “Very good. Now we’ll see to your pleasure.”

My pleasure.
The words rolled around in Chenco’s head, a delicious, forbidden treat Steve held out to him, promising to spoonfeed it into his mouth. Chenco held himself still, but it was hard because he was as excited as Lincoln’s little Chihuahua when he knew he was about to get canned food.

“You were very good tonight, boy.” Steve’s voice was so soft, but so sure. Chenco closed his eyes and listened to the footfalls, to the sweet sound of Steve’s praise. “You were so nervous, and we really upset you by showing up unannounced, but you didn’t let us distract you from your show. You were amazing, beautiful. You have such good instincts, Chenco. You and Caramela both.”

Steve stopped walking, and he didn’t say anything until Chenco opened his eyes and looked up at him. When he caught Steve staring back, quiet but reproachful, Chenco realized he wasn’t supposed to shut his eyes.

“I’m sorry. Sir,” he added belatedly, feeling awkward with the honorific.

“I want your eyes open so I know you’re listening. Also I didn’t give you permission to close them. The point of submitting, Chenco, is to let go. The involuntary actions you get to keep. Everything else? Those are mine. Give it
up. To me.”

Give it all up.
Was that okay to do? He was distracted from having to ask by a logistical issue—he had no idea what he was supposed to look at with his eyes open. When Steve paced the part of the circle in front of him, Chenco knew what to do, but once Steve disappeared behind him, Chenco felt a little flaily.

“Watch me when you can, and when you can’t, turn your head back to anticipate me. You’re a smart boy. You’ll figure out how to time it so you get your head turned in time for me to appear.”

Actually, now as he tried this suggestion, it wasn’t hard at all. But… “Steve—sir, I told you before. I’m twenty-four. I’m not a boy.”

Steve laughed, a soft, easy sound. “Even if you were fifty-five, tonight I’d call you boy. It’s not about your age. It’s your role. Being a man is tough work. Being a boy is something we all miss, and some of us never got it. Right now you get to be a boy. You can be tired, you can be petulant, you can be scared. It doesn’t matter. I’m your man right now, the only one you need. You can lay it all down and be a boy. In fact, I
you to.”

Chenco let out a breath from the bottom of his soul. Steve caught his eye and smiled as if to say,
I told you so.

As he continued his slow walk, Steve resumed his litany of praise. Chenco listened, basking in the accolades, marveling at how much attention Steve had paid to even the little things he did. Nobody had ever done anything like that for him, ever. Chenco never wanted it to end, but eventually it did—Steve went back to his chair and spread his legs over the edges, creating a space between them.

Chenco stared at the gap, never so desperate to be anywhere in his life. He didn’t go, though, just stared at the vee until Steve said, “Come here, Chenco. Crawl to me on your hands and knees, then sit right between my legs so I can pet you.”

Chenco did it, swatting away a flicker of resistance which said this was humiliating. No, it was the easiest way to get there. Plus, he decided, it felt good. A boy wouldn’t feel bad about crawling. A boy would be happy to crawl because nobody would have told him it was bad. So Chenco crawled, slowly at first, then faster, eager to get to the place he longed to be.

Steve had him sit on his feet, knees tucked under the chair so Chenco’s head was parallel to Steve’s knees. His eyes fell right on Steve’s crotch, which was a happy bulge in his jeans. Chenco could smell him—faint, but it was a nice whiff of dick all the same. Jesus. How long had it been since he had a mouthful of cock? Way, way too long. Except,
, he’d taken it off the menu.

Steve chuckled. “No, no meat for you tonight. Are you ready, baby? Are you ready for me to pet you, good boy?”

A whimper escaped Chenco’s throat as he nodded. “Yes. Please, sir.”

Steve beamed at him. “Such a good boy. Such a good, good boy.”

His hand came down gently into Chenco’s hair.

The touch was so soft, so delicious, Chenco’s eyes fell closed until he had enough wits to open them. He looked up at Steve, unnerved to do so at first, but once he locked in to the other man’s gaze, he couldn’t look anywhere else.

His whole world reduced, this time to the feel of those heavy, thick fingers working through his wavy black locks, teasing them out of the matting they’d endured under the nylon cap. Sometimes Steve massaged his head, sometimes he teased the very tips of his hair. Every single part of it was glorious.

“Such sensual hair you have. So soft.”

Chenco opened his mouth to explain it was the cap, because all the sweat from performing was like a hot oil bath, but Steve put a finger to his lips, silencing him. “Hush. This isn’t the time for talking, boy.”

He resumed his massage, sliding his fingers along the sides near Chenco’s ears. Chenco had to work to keep his eyes from rolling back in his head. Where was he supposed to look now? His gaze kept defaulting to Steve’s crotch, which wasn’t a bad view at all, but he wondered if he should look up, maybe, meet his eyes?

All of a sudden the truth of what he was doing hit him, how he knelt between a stranger’s legs, letting him tell him to be quiet, to crawl—

Steve kept petting, shushing him now as if he were a baby fussing. “Hush. It’s fine, Chenco. This isn’t a trick to get you to relax so I can shove my cock down your throat. So far it’s been exactly what I said would happen, yes? There’s only one more step in this dance, and you know what it is. Your head resting on my thigh. If you want to end the scene now, you can. Don’t, though, think I’m playing you. I haven’t lied to you. I haven’t once manipulated you into anything. You chose this. You asked to submit to me. There’s nothing in submission to fear or be ashamed of. No matter what anybody says.”

Chenco felt like crying, which made him even more panicked. “You said sex had to be pain with you. So where’s the pain?”

He realized too late he’d talked, which was against the rules, but they seemed to be in some kind of break because Steve didn’t blink. “I’ve told you several times we aren’t having sex tonight, yet you keep bringing it up. Are you telling me, Chenco, your experience has made you this jaded? You believe only someone who wants sex from you would offer you praise and gentle touch, that you absolutely cannot believe me when I say it’s all I’m offering?”

Chenco couldn’t answer. If he so much as opened his mouth, he’d lose it. He could only stare at Steve, hollowed out and raw, so cold, so ashamed he thought he would die. He swallowed over and over and over, trying to push the feeling down, but it overflowed inside him, and he couldn’t make it go away.

Steve reached out to Chenco, his face full of sorrow, and he stroked Chenco’s cheek. “Oh, baby. Oh, sweet baby, come here, right now.”

A few tears leaked out of Chenco’s eyes as his head lowered to Steve’s jean-clad thigh. This was all, though—he stayed rigid for a few seconds, still guarding, but as Steve’s heavy hand came back to his hair, he allowed himself to let go slowly. The touch was so sweet, like before, except now he could
smell cock, and he had his head against the sexiest pillow in the world…and nothing else was going to happen. He got to sit here, resting, enjoying.

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