Eight: Strangers in the Dark
Two weeks later, the thick, protective bandages were off and the sutures were out. Daniel now wore a bit of gauze covered with a light Ace Wrap to keep his healing wounds clean while hiding the rainbow-colored bruising, especially dark over his shin bone. Smoothing it down, he frowned at his trousers that lay on the bed. Would the Ace Wrap catch and hike up his trousers? For a moment, he considered taking the wrap off but cotton gauze bandages might snag even worse.
Jack appeared in the doorway, his words flying out of his mouth before he saw him. “What the hell’s taking you …” He paused, watching Daniel bend down and adjust his bandage. From his view, it was a very nice picture of Daniel’s squarish ass and Jack immediately thought of him five years before, when it had been rounder and less muscled. “Something wrong?” he asked, clearing his throat.
Daniel picked up his trousers and bent down, placing his right foot in. “No, just hoping the bandage doesn’t catch.”
Jack walked over and unable to help himself–or more correctly, not wanting to–he rested his hand on Daniel’s lower back. “It probably won’t,” he said, slightly disappointed when Daniel put his other leg in and pulled the trousers up. “Looks fine to me,” he added, giving Daniel an amused smile when he shot him a worried look.
“Do me a favor and see if it catches.” He started to pace around the room again, holding his pants closed. When Jack didn’t say anything, Daniel smirked at him. “Look at my leg, Jack, not my ass.”
Jack pretended to be caught and grinned. Truth was, he had been watching the leg … and thinking of fine, dirty things. “You’re good to go. It’s only your mind that’s catching.”
Daniel stopped to smirk at him as he tucked his shirt in. “Thanks, wise ass.”
“Anytime,” Jack replied. “So, gonna be ready anytime soon?”
Daniel zipped up and buckled his belt as he returned Jack’s dirty look with one of his own. He then slid his socked feet into his shoes and pronounced, “I’m ready.”
“Where’s your–” Jack began just as Daniel snagged his jacket off the hanger.
“What the hell’s the hurry?” Daniel asked.
“At the moment, there isn’t one,” Jack said as he needlessly straightened Daniel’s tie, then leaned in and kissed him.
“Not at the moment,” Daniel replied before he kissed him back.
Jack broke away first, and with a sigh, said, “I want to leave before traffic gets nasty. You know how it is heading north on a Friday evening.”
Following him out of the bedroom, Daniel rolled his eyes, then headed for the small catch-all basket on the bureau and picked up his watch. “I’m sure that’s all it is,” he said with another dirty grin, then looked around as he headed into the kitchen.
Jack watched him carefully: Though Daniel was healing well, he still had a bit of a limp. The weekend was bound to be filled with physical activity, sexual and otherwise, and Jack started to feel his protective side snap into overdrive. When Daniel returned, he said, “Ya know, you could always wait till you’re completely healed.”
Daniel paused as he lifted his keys out of the same basket. “Jack, I’m fine.”
“How about you ride with us so you don’t stress out your leg?”
Daniel threw him a surprised look. “You’re kidding, right?”
“My physical therapist puts my leg through more stress than my Jeep’s clutch ever could, and I’d like to remind you that I’ve been driving my Jeep for the last week. It isn’t a problem.”
Jack was outmanuevered there. “Okay, you have a point.”
“So, I’ll be just fine. Besides, the only thing that could reinjure my leg is if I run into another animal or get into a car accident.”
That was all Jack needed to hear and he snatched Daniel’s car keys out of his hand. “That’s it. You just jinxed it. You’re riding with me.”
Daniel stared at him, completely astounded. “Jack, don’t be an ass. What if you and Jason want to leave the club before I do?”
Jason grinned as he walked down the hall, coming from the bathroom. “I don’t see that happening, but if it does, have Dylan drive you home. I know he won’t mind.”
“Et tu, Brute?” Daniel scowled, receiving a kiss on the cheek. He shoved Jason away, trying not to smile, and turning to Jack, he growled, “You are such a pain in the ass.”
“I know, but humor me, will ya?”
Jack gave him that broad smile that sometimes made Daniel forget about what he was arguing about. But not this time. He held out his hand. “I’m not going to get into an accident and reinjure my leg. Give the keys back.”
Jack pursed his lips and handed them back. “Just ride with me. I’d like it if we went together.”
Daniel rolled his eyes again and followed them out the door. “I don’t see why.”
Approaching the truck, Jack looked over his shoulder, apparently not having heard Daniel’s remark. “What?”
“I don’t see why you want us to drive up together since we tend to split up right after arrival.”
Jack frowned at him, thinking about what he said. “Well, lately we’ve had separate plans.”
“Did you have something in mind?” Jason asked as he climbed into the passenger seat.
Daniel had planned on seeing Dylan once he arrived so he really didn’t know what he was so bothered about. Getting into the backseat, he said, “No, never mind.”
Jack looked at him through the rearview mirror and frowned. Something was bothering Daniel and it had nothing to do with driving down separately. “Okay, something’s wrong,” he said, turning in his seat. “What?”
Daniel shook his head, not able to give him an answer. “I don’t know. I’m just feeling frustrated.”
Jason looked over his shoulder. “In more ways than one, I think.”
That earned him a dirty look, but Daniel realized that Jason was also right. “Okay, fine, you’re right, but you and Jack need to back off this protective thing. It’s driving me crazy.”
Jason reached over and briefly clasped his hand. “Okay, my bad.”
Jack sighed. “Yeah, mine too. So how about this. If we get called back on an emergency, it’ll be easier for us to get back to the mountain together. In one vehicle.”
“That’s weak, Jack, even for you,” Daniel replied, but he smiled anyway. Jack was trying, so he had to give him that and quit arguing about something he wasn’t altogether convinced was worth talking about anyway. Jason really was right. He was feeling unsettled and sexually frustrated.
On the ride up to the club, Daniel continued to analyze his feelings and knew that his dream would be acted out this weekend. He was feeling just a bit more anxious about that than he thought he would. He was probably going to meet Dominic tonight, too, and that only added to his nervousness. Despite Dylan’s descriptions and assurances that Dominic really was someone he’d like and trust, Daniel had no idea what to expect. He didn’t much care for that. As for what would happen when the fantasy finally began, that was different. Hell, he sort of knew what to expect, so it was a whole other animal entirely. He wasn’t just excited about it, he was exhilarated. He just hoped that after meeting Dominic, that exhilaration remained.
“There’s nothing to be nervous about,” Jason said just as Jack directed the truck down the winding road toward the club.
“I know, but I am anyway.”
“Is that why you’ve been quiet during the entire drive?” Jack asked.
Daniel could only nod in return.
. . .
Daniel checked his watch just before knocking on Dylan’s apartment door. It was nearly 8 p.m. He was running a little later than usual and hoped that Dylan was still in his apartment. The concierge, Carlyle, had said he’d be up here, but Daniel was a bit dubious. Just when he’d thought that perhaps Dylan had made other plans, the door opened. He was met with a brilliant smile that made him think he’d never leave the apartment. “Hi,” he said. “Sorry I’m late.”
“You’re just in time,” Dylan answered.
The moment Daniel stepped inside and the door was closed, Dylan pushed him gently but firmly against the wall and kissed the life out of him.
“Are you sure you’re the submissive?” Daniel asked when the two of them broke for air.
“Yes, but I’m also horny as hell,” Dylan replied.
Just as he leaned in for another kiss, Daniel decided that it was his turn because he was feeling the same way. He turned them around and pinned Dylan against the wall, knowing it was the right move because Dylan moaned and melted into him, hands traveling down his back and over his ass. At that moment, all Daniel wanted to do was fuck him right there against the wall.
From down the hall, out of eyeshot, there came the sound of a throat clearing. Dylan pushed Daniel back, lips red from the hard kiss. “Shit.” More loudly, he said, “Sorry.”
Daniel raised his brows. “Who’s here?” he mouthed.
“Dominic,” Dylan replied in an embarrassed whisper, then with a cheeky smile, added, “See what you do to me?”
Daniel felt a rush of excitement as Dylan took his hand and led him down the hall and into the living room. A man rose from the couch and Daniel stared at him as he shook his hand and said hello. He immediately thought there was nothing for Dylan to worry about. The man wasn’t quite what Daniel had expected, but he wasn’t quite sure what that was supposed to have been. Whatever, he definitely didn’t set off any alarms. Of the bad kind, anyway.
Dominic was slender, over six feet tall, with curly, shoulder-length dark brown hair and kind, light brown eyes. He had an obvious Indian background but was British-born or raised, given his London accent.
“Dylan’s told me a little bit about you,” Daniel said, liking the man’s handshake. “He also said he was afraid we wouldn’t hit it off.”
Dylan cleared his throat as Dominic smiled broadly, showing off perfect white teeth, framed charmingly by his brown skin and finely groomed mustache and goatee. He reached out and took Dylan’s hand and lifted it to his mouth, kissing the back of it. “Dylan wants only the best for you.”
“For you both,” Dylan corrected as he swallowed. Dominic was making him harder than Daniel had already succeeded in doing.
With a nod at Dylan, Dominic turned his attention to Daniel. In truth, it had never left. From what he could gauge so far, this handsome man with the amazing blue eyes was a bomb waiting to go off. He might be nervous, but Dominic had an idea that being with him would be more than delightful. He took Daniel’s hand as he’d done Dylan’s and kissed his knuckles. Eyes trained on him, he said, “Whenever you’re ready, I will be waiting.” With that, he leaned over and kissed Dylan on the cheek, then walked away and let himself out of the apartment.
Daniel gazed after him and when the door had shut, he turned to Dylan, eyes wide in surprise. “Wow.”
Dylan smiled. “Exactly.”
Daniel took a deep breath and distractedly asked, “Ready for dinner?”
Dylan nodded. “I’m starved.”
“Me, too. Jack and Jason will be waiting in the dining room, unless they changed their minds and decided to eat in.”
Dylan chuckled as he grabbed the black jacket that went with his suit. “Let’s go.”
Daniel suddenly grabbed his arm and pulled him close. “Before we go down, I want to ask you something.”
“Anything,” Dylan replied, hand ghosting over Daniel’s ass.
Daniel bit his lip and took a step back, not wanting to go downstairs with a hard-on. “I’d like you to do something for me.”
“Aren’t I already?” Dylan asks, half-smiling.
“Well, yes, but I meant tonight,” Daniel grinned back. “The rest was your idea, not mine.”
Dylan suddenly lost his smile, thinking that perhaps Daniel was indulging in the fantasy only for Dylan’s pleasure, not his own. “I thought you wanted to do this.”
Daniel blinked in confusion. “I do.”
“But it sounds like you don’t,” Dylan said, equally confused.
Daniel replayed what he’d just said and immediately reached up to touch Dylan’s cheek, consoling him. “No, no, I’m sorry. You misunderstand me. This may have been your idea, but I accepted. I never said I didn’t want to do it, and I’m actually looking forward to it.”
Dylan visibly relaxed and cleared his throat, again embarrassed. “Oh.”
“You’re more nervous than I am,” Daniel teased.
“Maybe I am. A little.”
“It’ll be fine,” Daniel reassured as he led them to the door. “Now, about my request?”
Dylan took his hand and squeezed it. “Anything.”
Daniel gave him a look that disarming. “I want you to top me tonight.”
To Daniel’s surprised, Dylan blushed. “Why?”
“Is that a no?” Daniel teased again as they left the apartment.
At the top of the stairs, Dylan stopped Daniel and pulled him aside. “It’s not a no. I’m just wondering why. I think that later, tonight or tomorrow, you’re going to get plenty of bottoming.”
Daniel nodded, a slight smile on his lips. “Yes, but not from you. If this is going to be a weekend of firsts, then I’d like you to top.”
With a sigh, Dylan nodded. “Okay.”
“If you really don’t want to, say so,” Daniel told him, not pleased with Dylan’s response.
“It’s not that,” Dylan said, lowering his voice to nearly a whisper. “It’s just that I rarely do it anymore.”
“Then consider this a treat you’re giving me,” Daniel replied with a sexy smile. It turned slightly wicked when he added, “And then you can request anything you want of me in return. Sound fair?”
“Anything?” Dylan asked with a leading grin.
Daniel smirked and shook his head. He wasn’t sure if what he was going to say next would have the desired result, but he hoped it would. With deliberate slowness, he leaned closer and said, “If you want me to tie you down and whip you, I’ll have to have Dominic show me how.”
Dylan leaned back against the wall, clearing his throat and closing his eyes. He slid his hand over his groin and whispered, “Damn you for that image.”
Daniel smiled back, biting at his lower lip as he followed Dylan downstairs. Just before reaching the bottom, he asked, “I don’t know if I should keep making you suffer. I have a feeling you’re enjoying it.”
Dylan looked over his shoulder as they passed the front desk and headed across the lobby to the dining room. “Daniel.”
It was a warning that made Daniel smile more to himself than on the outside. Entering the large dining room, he scanned quickly as he and Dylan waited for the host to return to seat them. He started to think that perhaps Jack and Jason were dining in and that he and Dylan would be dining alone, but when Daniel spotted Jack and Jason near the middle of the room, sitting at a round table clearly meant for four, he couldn’t help but feel a mixture of relief and guilty hypocrisy. How could he possibly feel jealous or possessive? Was he allowed to dine alone with Dylan but they weren’t? It was ludicrous.
Jack and Jason stood up and shook Dylan’s hand, then retook their seats. Dylan sat almost opposite Jason, while Daniel took the chair across from Jack. There was an odd, concerned expression on Jack’s face and for a fleeting moment, Daniel considered that Jack might be feeling just as possessive. But second thoughts made him think that perhaps Jack would rather be up in his suite instead.
“What’s that face for?” Jack asked him just as the waiter came over.
Daniel set aside the question as he gave his drink order, then waited for the others to do the same before he answered. “I was suddenly feeling rather …” He didn’t know if honesty was the best policy at the moment and given that he was pretty much paired for the evening, and that Jack and Jason seemed to have their own plans, perhaps a little white lie would be in order.
“Rather?” Jason reminded when Daniel didn’t finish right away. “You’re still nervous?”
“No, it’s …” Daniel shook his head, his attention going back and forth between Jack and Jason. Why did he feel a tug at his heart because they looked so good together? He was happy for them, sure, but he was also feeling a little like he’d gotten on a fast train instead of the slow one. Or perhaps, it was simply that he’d come into this situation far too late to have a chance. But again, did he even want a chance? Not in a competitive way, no. So what was he so damn concerned about?
“Don’t do that,” Jack admonished.
With a glance at Dylan that Daniel hoped came across as a silent demand for support, he said, “I felt intrusive.” It wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t exactly the whole truth, either. Jack and Jason exchanged looks and for a moment, Daniel thought he’d unintentionally hit the nail on the head. Served him right. Busily putting his napkin on his lap, he gave Dylan a hesitant smile. He wasn’t about to suggest that they leave, given the size of the table Jack and Jason had chosen, but he still felt completely embarrassed and horribly lost.
Meanwhile, Jack gave Jason the same odd smile, the same one that Daniel had misread. The two of them had just been discussing the opposite. After all, they’d all agreed that the first night of the weekend should be the night that Daniel got his fantasy needs met. Anticipation was a fine thing, but Jack knew that both Jason and Dylan had their own plans for the weekend. For himself, Jack was looking forward to whatever Jason had on the agenda. Whatever Dylan planned, Jack wouldn’t mind helping out. At least tonight, and if Dylan’s happy suspicions were correct and there’d be some action in the dungeon tomorrow, Jack wanted so much to watch from a private audience room. Only thing missing was Daniel’s consent because one of Jack’s biggest voyeuristic kinks was to have the other person know he was there.
Jack was brought out of his thoughts by the squeeze of Jason’s hand. When Jack looked up from the glass he’d been staring at, he realized his odd smile had turned just a bit naughty. Jason knew what it meant but going by the look on Daniel’s face, he did not. “What?” he asked, somewhat evasively. Truthfully, he had no idea if someone had asked him a question.
“Daniel just asked what you were thinking about?” Jason repeated.
Jack waited till Daniel had set down his glass of ice water, then asked, “How would you feel about joining us for a little exhibitionism and voyeurism tomorrow?” As he knew would happen, Daniel coughed. And then, he blushed a little. Jack couldn’t help thinking the color and placement were exactly how Daniel flushed when he came.
When Jack glanced at Jason, he found him almost as equally surprised, but with a pleased smile on his lips. “What?”
“I thought you weren’t interested in Dominic’s dungeon.”
Daniel’s brows went up as Jack answered, “His is the only place with those private viewing rooms.”
Daniel’s brows rose higher but still, he said nothing.
“Just chew on it awhile,” Jack requested as the waiter brought their drinks and took their dinner orders.
Daniel couldn’t think of any response other than to nod his head. It would be the first time that he’d participate in anything overtly kinky with his friends, and truth be told, he found the idea highly arousing. He also felt like he and Dylan should return the favor somehow, so he leaned over and whispered, “Would you mind if we invited them up after dinner?”
Dylan smiled broadly. “Sounds like a good idea to me,” he said, then extended the offer to Jack and Jason. Both of them nodded and Jack held out his glass for a toast.
“To a memorable evening.”
Daniel couldn’t remember having a better dinner or having so much fun with his three favorite men. He’d given Jason a little ribbing about the wall-sized photograph he’d bought Dylan and Jason had taken it in stride.
They were currently sitting at the dining table playing an X-rated Ancient Athens version of Monopoly. Daniel had been surprised that such a version of the game existed, or that Dylan had bought it, but he was quickly finding out that the game was in incredibly sexy form of foreplay. The gold tokens for the game were both common and uncommon items. One was an open book, and everyone had teased Daniel when he’d chosen it.
Currently, he wasn’t doing too bad, but Jack seemed to be winning. Daniel couldn’t feel envious; it was a game. As he sipped at the second Drambuie that Dylan had fetched him, he was content with his company, with the slightly tipsy feeling in his head, and how good a time they were having.
Dylan and Jason started laughing, teasing Jack about being the reincarnation of King Leonidas because Jack was ruthlessly defending his holdings. Then Dylan raised his snifter glass and saluted.
“To the King!”
“To the King!” both Daniel and Jason chimed, getting a growl and a smirk from Jack as he raised his glass.
Daniel hadn’t planned on downing the rest of his drink, but when the others drank theirs, he shrugged and figured this would be his last one if he intended on having any sex tonight. He wasn’t all that big on getting drunk, anyway.
When he set his glass down and stared at the board, trying to think up a strategy, he was surprised to find all three men watching him. “What?” he asked.
“Waiting on your move,” Jack said.
Daniel grinned as he jogged his brows and stood up. “My next move is to take a piss.” Heading toward the stairs, he realized he was being followed and tipsy as he was, he giggled. “I think I can go by myself.”
“Well, just so happens that we all need to pee,” Jason replied.
Daniel shook his head as he started up the stairs and entered Dylan’s bedroom on the second floor. He felt a little odd, being tipsy in this place, but the feeling left him as he relieved himself. A few more random thoughts entered his mind and it was then that he realized that he couldn’t seem to concentrate on one thing. He decided that this would be the last time he let himself get drunk. He preferred his concentration, even when he was buzzed. Right now, he was well past buzzed.
Leaving the bathroom, and passing Jason who headed that way, Daniel found himself face to face with the wall photo. He stared at it, feeling more than a little aroused.
“You like that picture?” Jack asked.
His voice was a bit loud because Jack had asked the question in his ear, but Daniel didn’t mind. In fact, Jack’s sexy voice only increased his arousal. He nodded as he took a step back, then abruptly stumbled over the corner of the bed. Arms caught him, Jack’s, and he felt warmth and love and a great deal of lust as he was guided onto the bed. Dylan was there on his other side and then Jason came into view, standing at the foot of the bed.
Not long after, they became a bit blurry and Daniel felt his head swim a little. His arousal spiked even more and he grabbed two hands, whose he didn’t know, and placed them over his growing erection. “Fuck me,” he murmured. Someone was kissing him then. Why couldn’t he figure out who? His pants were coming off and cool air signaled the removal of his briefs and the opening of his shirt.
Daniel strained to lift his head but he couldn’t. What the hell was wrong? All his body wanted to do was lie there! But the moment someone’s mouth engulfed his cock, Daniel closed his eyes and moaned, willing to be pleasured, to be used. It felt so goddamn good …
None of them wanted to back off, least of all Jack. But as soon as Daniel drifted off, they’d set the scene for the fantasy before returning downstairs.
“Four hours, are you sure?” Jack asked.
Dylan nodded. “Or less. I know he’s a light-weight, so I gave him a smaller dosage than normal for someone his size.”
The game was left alone on the table and Jack joined Dylan and Jason in the living room. They weren’t planning on leaving Daniel alone, so they had to do something to while away the hours. Sex was out of the question if they wanted to participate in what Dominic had planned. Jack trusted the man, to a point. He’d simply never taken advantage of his hospitality down in the dungeon. It wasn’t really Jack’s thing, either being part of BDSM or watching it. At least, until Dylan had suggested a few days earlier that Jack take advantage of BDSM through his lovers. Watching them participate wouldn’t be turn-off. On the contrary.
Even thinking about it now, Jack liked the idea. He also knew that exhibitionism was a private kink of Daniel’s but something that he’d rarely had a chance to act on. Going by the dreams that Jack had been told about, Daniel’s subconscious was definitely telling him it was time to indulge. The one thing that Daniel didn’t know that Jack knew was that his exhibitionism ran not just to topping, but bottoming. In fact, tonight would be a perfect example. Every one of them was looking forward to watching Dominic from the shadows clinging to the edges of the room. Strategically-placed lamps would make sure there’d be no way in hell Daniel would be able see them as their soft, pink lighting would keep his sight from adjusting.
One other thing that Daniel didn’t know was that the stranger of his fantasies wasn’t the only one who would be fucking him tonight. Jack felt the only reason that the stranger in his dream left him unsatisfied was because there were supposed to be others, others that Daniel’s subconscious never saw fit to fill in for him.
“It’s gonna be a long four hours,” he said with a sigh.
Jason nodded as he looked over at Dylan as he started a fire in the fireplace. The man had a thoughtful look on his face. “You okay?” he asked.
Dylan was perplexed. “Yeah, why?”
“You’re topping tonight,” Jason prompted.
Dylan grinned and looked between Jason and Jack as he answered. “I would have been anyway.” When they looked surprised but confused, he added, “Daniel made me a deal. He wanted me to top him tonight. In return, I would get anything I wanted.”
“So? … What did you ask?”
Dylan shook his head slowly. “I didn’t have to ask. Daniel literally told me that if I wanted to be tied down and whipped, he’d have to have Dominic show him how.” A fond smile covered his face then because he was just so happy that Daniel would be willing to do something he’d said had never been a turn-on. When he looked at Jack and Jason, and the expressions on their faces, he added, “I take it you’re just as surprised?”
Jason jogged his brows as Jack replied. “You could say that. Let’s just say that we recently ran into some people who would make the Marquis De Sade look like a Sunday school teacher.”
Dylan’s brows rose as he stared back at them. “Maybe I should wait till after I return from Vancouver.”
“No,” Jack said adamantly. “The one thing Daniel hates is having personal decisions made for him. The other thing he hates is letting someone get the better of him, no matter what they’ve done.” When Dylan nodded with understanding, he added, “Trust me. If Daniel hadn’t been the least bit interested, he’d never have mentioned it, even in jest. Do you think he was serious about the offer?”
“I got the feeling he was,” Dylan answered with a swallow. He desperately wanted Daniel to be the one with the leather flogger.
Jack grinned as he got an idea. “Maybe we could start off the joint venture downstairs tomorrow night with a little fantasy fulfillment.” He looked over at Jason, who also swallowed.
Looking at Dylan, Jason said, “The idea of watching him hit you is kinda … a turn-on.”
Dylan nodded, then abruptly stood up and headed into the kitchen. “Anyone want a coke or something? And let’s talk about something else.”
“I’ll take one,” Jack replied, as did Jason. They didn’t argue about changing the subject. They didn’t want to have blue balls by the time Daniel woke up. Instead, Dylan turned on the TV and slipped in a few sexy DVDs instead. They weren’t of much help but they definitely took their minds off a tied and naked Daniel lying upstairs.
Three hours passed and Dominic showed up, wearing a bar vest, pants, and boots, all made of soft, black leather. After being fetched a drink, he suggested, “Why don’t we go upstairs and wait.”
As he disappeared upstairs, Jason groaned and palmed himself. Jack couldn’t resist and slid his hand over Jason’s. “Getting horny for Daniel or Dominic?” he whispered seductively.
Jason growled and managed to pull himself away. “Wrong pair.”
“Me and Dominic?” Jack grinned sarcastically as he followed.
“That must be it,” Jason mumbled out of sight.
Jack chuckled to himself as he stood at the stairway entrance and waited for Dylan to go first. Slapping him on the ass as he followed, he asked, “You ready to do something you don’t normally do?”
Dylan looked over his shoulder and smirked back. “Yes. Are you?”
Jack was going to answer “No” but just as he cleared the top step, climbed into Dylan’s bedroom, and was met immediately with the sight of Daniel’s naked body, he whispered, “Yes.” Who the hell knew that shadow silhouettes could be so goddamn sexy?
. . .
Daniel was dreaming, but it started to fade as he approached consciousness. There’d been something about gauzy silk and pillows and room, no, a bed, filled with naked men. Wisps of smoke in the air. Everyone had been stoned? Had to be since that’s how he was feeling as he struggled to wake up.
Before opening his eyes, he knew he was lying on a bed but he didn’t know where. Jack’s? Dylan’s? It then dawned on Daniel that he couldn’t remember. That was worrying. He never blacked out. The only time it could be remotely possible was if he’d been drug–
Daniel’s eyes flashed open and he lifted his head up. He was on his belly. It was dark, too, with the exception of dim light, but he didn’t need light to know his wrists were bound by thick, padded restraints. Focusing in front of him, he saw the grounding chains to his restraints disappear beyond the headboard. Looking to his left and squinting, Daniel tried to see beyond the bed and couldn’t. There looked to be a window, he was sure he saw the reflection of glass, but it didn’t repeat.
Where was he? He knew what was going on now, but he tried to think of where he was. The bed cover didn’t look familiar, but the headboard did. At least the part he could see. He was in Dylan’s apartment.
Suddenly, there was movement behind him and the hairs rose on his arms and back of his neck. He had no idea what to expect, given he’d been taken completely by surprise. He’d assumed that this would happen Saturday and realized now that that was what he was led to believe. The one thing he knew would happen was that there’d be a naked man wearing a hood to hide his face and … he’d do what happened in his dream.
Problem was, Daniel’s memory was a bit foggy so right at this moment, he couldn’t remember the exact details of that dream. He remembered having his legs yanked out from under him, so he started to pull his knees up.
At that moment, something was thrown over the two lamps, dimming the room quite a bit. Daniel froze, blinking, trying to see. Someone was there, but he couldn’t identify who. The man moved to the end of the bed, then his hands were coming toward him and despite himself, Daniel sucked in a startled breath, then grunted as hands grabbed his ankles and yanked him onto his belly.
Daniel could just make out the shadowy silhouette of a man as he walked to the bedside table and opened the drawer. He was naked, but not enough light shone that Daniel could recognize his body. He looked up into his face and saw nothing but black.
“Who are you? What do you want?” he asked, even as his dick swelled with excitement. Just like in his dream.
But instead of answering, “Want to have a little fun, Daniel?”, as had happened in the dream, the man whispered, “Fun,” and dropped a bottle of lube and a black dildo on the bed. “Yes?”
Daniel swallowed, knowing that if he didn’t give the go-ahead, this would never happen. “Yes.” His heart began to pound with excitement and his body reacted in the same time-honored fashion. He suddenly realized that the man had moved away and just when he thought to push up on his elbows and look around, the bed dipped and two hands touched the back of his calves, moving up to his thighs. A groan escaped him whether he wanted it to or not and shudder of warm pleasure shot through his balls and cock.
“You want it, Daniel,” the man whispered as he reached for the lube and the dildo. “Spread open for me.”
The man was still whispering but there was a trace of accent in his voice. Daniel had only heard Dominic once, but it had been enough. If this man was Dominic, he was trying to hide his accent. Could he get him to talk more? While the rest of the dream didn’t have much more from the stranger, Daniel had a feeling that it was time for a deviation from the script.
“I don’t even know who you are,” he said on cue, then soon after, the lube cap loudly clicked open and a wonderfully strange tingling of anticipation swarmed through Daniel’s body. This really was going just like the dream. Sure, there were a few exceptions, but when you make a dream reality, the excitement of that reality overcomes any differences. It was no different here. He started to speak again, but gasped when lubed fingers slid between his cheeks and rubbed his hole, teasing him. The pleasure of it made his cock jump and he hardened quickly as those fingers rubbed.
“God,” he murmured, expecting more of the same, but just as suddenly as the fingers had come, so now did the dildo. Slick and hard and only slightly warmed, the dildo was pushed slowly past the puckered barrier. He sucked in a breath, whispering, “Wait!” but the stranger … but Dominic … continued. Daniel moaned deeply as his ass was filled, and again, just like the dream, the “stranger” didn’t stop and wait for him adjust. He was fucked slow and deep in an amazing rhythm that had the dildo passing over his prostate, sending tingling waves down his legs.
“God, tell me who you are,” he choked.
Another surprise came when his ‘attacker’ slid a hand over his balls, reaching for his cock. Automatically, Daniel lifted his hips and the hand wrapped firmly and pulled his cock down, between his legs. Pulling sharply, a little painfully, Dominic began to stroke in opposite rhythms between his stroking hand and pumping dildo. The pleasure elicited a muffled cry from Daniel’s lips and he bit into the sheets.
“Please,” he mumbled into the mattress. “Fuck me.”
He pulled at his bonds, his fingers touching the cold metal of the chain. He desperately wanted to touch, to suck, to scratch and bruise. He was thinking of all the other things he wished he could do right now when suddenly Dominic withdrew his hand and the dildo. Daniel sucked in a breath, waiting, knowing what was likely coming next. Even though he was somewhat prepared, he still jumped when something soft but stinging slapped across his ass.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he gasped, as the hits continued. Two more, then three, four. After six, Dominic stopped, and there was nothing left behind but warmth. Though there was surprisingly no pain, the stings grew hot as time passed. Daniel was also surprised by the desire to be hit again. He had liked it, just as he had in the dream.
“You enjoyed that,” Dominic said.
“Yes,” Daniel breathed. Memory told him that this was where the stranger disappeared in his dream, leaving him hard and aching, so he held his breath, waiting for that to happen. Instead, hands grabbed his ass in rough caress and contact with the hot skin from the paddle, or whatever it had been, caused a sharp sting. Because of the minor pain, he wasn’t paying attention to the fact that his cheeks were being spread, right along with his legs. The few seconds it took to realize that, he also realized that those hands weren’t Dominic’s.
Daniel’s brows rose when it hit him that he and Dominic weren’t the only ones in the room. Who else was there? Daniel closed his eyes as he felt the positioning of a real cock against his hole, and for a moment, he forgot about whose dick it was, so stark in contrast from the cool, impersonal dildo. A few seconds passed and then suddenly, the pliant heat of a cock pushed into his firm flesh as hands grabbed his hips. Once he was fully penetrated, the stranger lowered his body on top of him.
Daniel opened his eyes, trying to figure out who it was inside him. The man was breathing, but not vocal enough to be able to indicate who he was. Then came the lips behind his ear and the gentle tug of teeth. Intuition told Daniel it was Dylan, but he wasn’t sure. He liked that ear thing, considered it an erogenous zone, but then again, Jack and Jason had a habit of tugging on his ears too. As the man slid in and out slowly, a non-descript groan escaping his throat, Daniel closed his eyes again to concentrate. Hands moved underneath, caressing his chest, but when his nipples were pinched, Daniel suddenly knew for certain who it was.
“Dylan,” he murmured, and he tried to reach up to touch him but was abruptly reminded of his restraints. At that moment, Dylan increased his strokes and Daniel felt a tingling rush under his skin. It wasn’t just from the pleasure, but because he had an idea what it took for Dylan to top him in this setting. It was a very big deal. Daniel didn’t think that Dominic’s presence had anything to do with it, but he suddenly didn’t want there to be anyone between them. “It’s time for the stranger to leave,” he said, hoping Dominic would get the hint.
“He has,” Dylan whispered in his ear as his hands reached up under his arms and grabbed hold of his shoulders. “But that doesn’t mean we’re alone.”
As Dylan’s thrusts continued, Daniel felt his dick swell even more at the meaning of his words. Jack and Jason were in the room, and though Daniel would have preferred to have had Dylan top him in private, perhaps this was better in order to fulfill the fantasy. There was only one problem. “Untie me.” There was a chuckle above him, from Dylan, then he abruptly stopped moving. “What are you–” he started to ask, but a blindfold was suddenly placed over his eyes and tied in the back. Soon after, Dylan pulled out of him and pushed off. “What’s going on?”
The bed dipped again, but whether from Dylan getting off, he couldn’t tell. But when it dipped again and hands once more touched his hips, Daniel started to wonder exactly what game they were playing. He didn’t mind it, not in the least, especially when he was entered again. This time, his partner didn’t lie on top of him, but instead, tugged at his left hip, turning Daniel onto his right. His dick was now exposed and he fully expected a hand to grab him, and it did, but with it came someone’s mouth.
Whoever was inside him thrust with deep, even strokes, while the mouth on his cock and hands on his balls increased the pleasure now spreading through him like fire. Daniel couldn’t move, slightly twisted as he was, so all he could do was drop his head down and take the wonderful tactile sensations inflicted upon him.
Once more, movement and pleasure stopped and withdrew, and once more, it began again. Daniel could tell that someone new was inside, someone new was sucking him, but he couldn’t tell who. It was an interesting experience. But after a while, his body began to ache from its position. “Untie me or let get back on my stomach,” he said just as they began to change roles again.
He felt hands on his wrists and was relieved to have his shoulders lowered, but those hands now held his wrists and for a moment, wouldn’t let go. He was pushed onto his back, then his knees were lifted, his ass exposed. He was entered again, then someone dipped the bed to his left and he could smell their clean scent of sweat and the obvious musky scent of cock. The reason became clear a second later when the hot, silky head of someone’s cock rubbed over his mouth.
Hungrily, Daniel sucked it into his mouth and he was rewarded with a groan from the owner. That told him that his partner liked watching him suck cock, so encouraged by that, Daniel sucked eagerly. Another groan came, this time from the man thrusting inside his ass. It wasn’t just a groan from watching, it was a groan from penetration. Whoever was fucking him was now being fucked, too.
At that point, Daniel desperately needed to see, but he was torn. He also liked this game of anonymity. Instead of reaching up to remove his blindfold, he reached down to stroke his own cock. He raised his knees a little and spread them wider. It was a bit difficult, concentrating on his hand, the cock in his mouth, and listening to the men in front of him. Suddenly that awkward choice was decided for him as the man whose dick was inside him was pushed forward with a grunt and their bodies began to rock as he was fucked very fast. The groan from the anchor end of this three-way train was very loud and Daniel recognized him. Jack.
Which mean the cock in his mouth was either Jason’s or Dylan’s. Why the hell couldn’t he tell without his sight? Perhaps a telling moan would work, so Daniel sucked harder. The bed was creaking as it rocked back and forth and Daniel reached up with his free right hand and pinched a nipple belonging to the man over him. At that moment, hands grabbed his face as a signal to be careful–his teeth were grazing just a bit too much, so Daniel adjusted his lips, now wet with saliva and pre-come.
Above him, the sight of it must’ve triggered high arousal because the man fucking him gasped and tensed his body as he came. Daniel heard Jack groan in response and his thrusts increased. He was close to coming, Daniel could tell, just as the man was whose dick was in his mouth. He started to suck more quickly and the hands, still on his face, guided him, holding him still at times so his recipient could thrust and take the pressure off Daniel’s neck.
Then suddenly, there was that unmistakable swell and a surprised, desperate moan. When the come began to spurt into his mouth, Daniel rapidly stroked his cock, wanting to come with him.
Instead, his stroking hand was pulled away. He was about to protest when the men inside both his mouth and his ass withdrew. The bed jostled as it felt like all three of them were moving around. Daniel started to reach up to take off his blindfold, but hands grabbed him and held him down. Then someone was kissing him–he knew it was Jason–while someone else engulfed his cock and sucked him, bathing him in pleasure that didn’t take long to bring to the edge.
Daniel tensed under their hands, under their mouths, moaning loudly when he finally came. His blindfold was removed and he looked down his body to find Jack looking up at him as he licked at his twitching cock. Daniel took his eyes off him to gaze up at Jason, then Dylan, and felt so overwhelmed that he couldn’t think of anything to say. Instead, he said it with kisses.
. . .
There hadn’t been much discussion with Dylan before Daniel had left his apartment, leaving his newest partner to sleep alone. Dylan hadn’t seemed too bothered, though he did look like a man who had wanted to talk. Instead, he’d just kissed him goodnight, having to work the next morning. Daniel hadn’t argued, since he figured Dylan had his morning rituals and, like himself, he probably didn’t want anyone messing them up. Perhaps one day, Daniel would share them, but for the time being, it was better to leave the little mysteries till later.
Right now, he relaxed under the hot water of the shower in Jack’s suite, feeling a bit sore in his shoulders and his ass, but it wasn’t too bad, considering. He heard a few noises outside the bathroom and immediately wondered what Jack and Jason thought about last night. They were bound to be curious about his own opinions. Was it all he’d thought it would be? Was he satisfied or was there something off?
Daniel had a feeling that Dominic would like to know, too, but he would rather have Dylan pass on the information. For some reason he couldn’t explain, he didn’t want to see their dungeon master so soon after last night. There wasn’t anything wrong with him, but there was something about the man that made Daniel feel … out of control. Perhaps it was the dominant in him or perhaps it was some subconscious threat. Maybe Dylan was right and Daniel was a dominant, someone who didn’t like to have another alpha in the room. But that didn’t explain his love for Jack, who was so very, very alpha.
Still, there was something else and perhaps it was his own reluctance to go through with his return promise to Dylan? Was he that reluctant to be Dylan’s Dominant? And give him the whip? Just the thought of using that tool made Daniel shiver and as he thought about it, he realized that he didn’t really have an aversion to giving Dylan what he needed. He just had an aversion to the whip. He had an idea why, too: it was the leftover emotions from that damn failed mission to the ice planet a year and a half ago. The guards–overseers, whatever they were called–had used whips. Daniel could still feel the sting, still feel the rising level of anger and hatred.
That was what it was, Daniel realized as he rinsed the soap off his back. He blinked away the water on his lashes as he paused and stared at the wall. The memory of that underground prison brought feelings of anger, so using a whip that brought out those feelings was definitely not something he should be using on Dylan. It didn’t arouse the right emotion one needed for sexual play and Daniel wouldn’t cheat Dylan out of that. So, there had to be a compromise, something else he could use.
He could ask Dominic, but there was still something about Dominic that was unsettling. The man was handsome, charismatic, and Daniel wouldn’t mind having sex with him again, but having him guide his hand? It didn’t feel … personal. Maybe later, after he’d thought on it awhile.
Sighing with disappointment and leaning against the wall of the shower, Daniel argued with himself, feeling like a heel. If he was going to have this sort of relationship with Dylan, he had to confront those feelings about the whip. Own them, turn them into an advantage. He’d been so aroused by that photograph, despite the whip in the forefront, so it was possible to get around this mental block. Perhaps that’s what Dominic was for? And perhaps Daniel’s own stubbornness was getting in the way.
Thinking of the photograph brought his thoughts back to Jason, the man who’d given it to Dylan. Had Jason just found something his friend had liked or was there more to it? What was Jason actually into, kink-wise? And why the hell didn’t Daniel know this already? And why didn’t he know what Jack was into? Had they already acted them out at the club? Daniel abruptly felt a surge of resentment. He wanted to be part of their fantasies as they had been a part of his. So why hadn’t he been? Was his exclusion on purpose or just an unfortunate coincidence? Given the way they’d been treating him, Daniel was starting to suspect it was the former, but he resisted that thought because he didn’t like thinking badly of them, especially the morning after an indulgent night.
Voices outside the bathroom startled Daniel out of his contemplation and he wondered what they had planned for the day. They hadn’t mentioned anything. In fact, they barely spoke to him about anything they planned, and just why the hell was that?
Daniel sighed heavily and resumed washing and rinsing, his movements sharp with rising anger. Jack was still treating him as if he were some innocent and … just what the fuck was up with that? Why was he doing it and why …
Another sigh, this one made of recognition as Daniel suddenly realized where a lot of his anger was coming from. He turned toward the shower head and rested his hands against the wall, letting the hot water beat down upon his neck and back, wishing it would solve his problems and take away the anger at the same time.
His curiosity about their fantasies faded quickly, replaced with the resentment that had been growing. His best friends, so annoyingly in denial about each other, and so unaware how badly they were treating him. Like some little brother they were hooking up all the time, giving him condoms and telling him to play safe. They weren’t actually saying that, but enough was enough, wasn’t it? And why the hell hadn’t he seen this sooner? Was it because he hadn’t wanted to?
Contradicting himself, and making his resentment worse, he wondered what his best friends would say if he asked them about their fantasies, and could he be involved? In his mood, Daniel figured the answer would be no. No reciprocal help, thanks. They wanted to be alone, do their own thing, and fuck whatever he wanted to do. Except for last night.
Growling at his own confusion, Daniel shook his head, asking himself what the hell he wanted from them. More attention? Was that all it was? And how could he ask without feeling like some clingy high school girl? He knew he was likely exaggerating that part, but goddamn. It was a hard thing, training oneself to become used to doing things by yourself and never asking for help. And now that he needed that particular asking skill, he was having issues. So exactly who the hell had the problem?
Interrupting his thoughts came Jack’s voice as he opened the bathroom door. “You hungry?”
Daniel leaned in, forehead touching the wall, and rested there, hating that Jack’s voice filled him with angry arousal. “I am, yeah.”
“We’re ordering up. Do you want something or would you rather go downstairs?”
“I’ll eat here,” Daniel answered, suddenly sidetracked by the pronoun, ‘we’. Along with everything else, jealousy was joining in. We. Jack and Jason. Every time he turned around it was ‘we’ this and ‘we’ that. He felt like an unused appendage and the thought pissed him off. He suddenly realized that he’d zoned and that he’d missed whatever Jack had said. “I’m sorry, I had water in my ears,” he lied. “What did you say?”
“Do you want the usual?”
Waffles? No, that didn’t sound appetizing at all. “Crepe Suzette.”
He could just imagine the look on Jack’s face because there was silence instead of the usual sarcasm. “That’s pretty sweet.”
There was that possessive crap again and Daniel’s ire rose. “Well, that’s what the coffee’s for.”
Jack mumbled something and Daniel ground his jaw, ordering himself to chill out and relax. The aroma of coffee from the dining room lingered in bathroom, filling his nose and distracting him. His stomach rumbled and that urged him to finish his shower. As he got out and dried off, mulling over all the questions he’d been consumed with, he slipped on the white club robe and got ready to shave. If his friends were going to–no doubt–be busy with each other today, then Daniel needed to find something else to do. Perhaps it was time to take advantage of all the things the club offered.
First and foremost, book a massage. He wasn’t just sore from the restraints. Stress over the last month had him feeling tense and before he did anything else, he’d have to have all of that massaged out of his muscles. A Jacuzzi would be welcome afterward, and thinking it made Daniel relax and smile for a few seconds, liking the idea of sitting in a bath of swirling, caressing water. After that, he’d play it by ear.
Washing his face after the shave and applying moisturizer, he opened the door just as Jason was about to knock.
“Morning bathroom hog,” Jason teased as he reached to cup Daniel’s face, kissing him and giving him a hug.
“Pot, kettle, black, Jason,” Daniel replied.
At that moment, an unusual thing happened: Daniel’s anger increased and he wanted to smack his best friend. And he wanted to leave the bathroom and smack Jack, too. Game-playing assholes. The anger kicked in a flight response because it’s how he always reacted to his own anger: avoidance. All he wanted to do at that moment was get as far away as possible. It was just too damn bad he’d already ordered breakfast or he’d get dressed and go downstairs. Like Jack had assumed he would. Bastard.
Going to his room, Daniel shut the door and purposely tried to think only of the massage and the Jacuzzi, and whatever else he would spend doing today. It would not be spent arguing. It wouldn’t. It just wouldn’t.
He pulled on his jeans and picked out a white Egyptian cotton shirt. After combing his hair, strapping on his watch, and putting in his contacts, he put on his sandals and suddenly stopped as he reached for the doorknob. He took a breath, then opened the door.
“Morning, you,” Jack said as Daniel sat down at the far end of the table.
“Hey,” Daniel replied, pouring his coffee.
Jack suddenly got up and brought over a pitcher of juice. “That drug we gave you yesterday causes dehydration so drink this and have plenty of water today.” He then kissed Daniel on top of his head and returned to his seat.
Daniel sat there, stunned. His memory flooded with instances just like this one: Jack, the protector, acting as if he was the more experienced one. Daniel had the urge to tell him that he wouldn’t believe the experiences he’d had, or that sex was like riding a bike. You didn’t ever forget how, you just needed to remember the rhythm and the feeling of balance when you took sharp corners.
But instead of saying that, or voicing his anger, Daniel said, “Thanks, but I already knew that.” His voice wasn’t too clipped, but it had enough tone for Jack to notice.
“Something on your mind?” Jack asked.
Daniel fought between telling him “No,” and telling him, “Everything.” In the end, he answered the question with a question, knowing Jack hated that at times. “Do I look like there is?”
“There is, yeah,” Jack said, giving Daniel a look of concentration that unfortunately made Daniel feel even worse. His flight response was getting stronger.
“Maybe it’s some unknown after-effect of the rohypnol,” Daniel replied. He was saved from further conversation when the waiter arrived with their breakfast. Grabbing a page from the newspaper on the cart, Daniel purposely concentrated on the contents as he ate. He could just feel that Jack wanted to ask questions, but the man said nothing. It only fueled Daniel’s growing list of grievances.
When Jason joined them, Daniel tried to shut them out and gave a shrug when Jason asked him how he was feeling. It was all he was willing to talk about because Daniel had a feeling that if he actually answered them the way he wanted, he’d either be yelling, punching, or both. And he simply didn’t like to do either since they never solved anything and probably never would. At least the punching part, his mind whispered rebelliously.
The minutes ticked by as slowly as they could and when he’d nearly finished his breakfast, Daniel drank the rest of his coffee, then stood up, stretched, and patted his stomach. Not looking at them, he pretended to check himself for his membership card as he said, “Well, I guess I’ll see you two later.” That said, he turned and started to head across the room. To his surprise, both men got their feet. “Where’re you going?” Jack asked as they walked over to him.
He and Jason both had what looked like confused frowns on their faces and at another time, Daniel would have read it differently. But with his mood, what came out was, “Thought I’d get a massage, why?” He almost added, “Do I need a note from you?”
“You can book one here if you want,” Jason said, his frown deepening.
The man looked upset and Daniel wondered what the hell Jason had to be upset about? He stared at them and said before he could edit himself, “I need to be out of this room.” At the blinking stares he received, he cleared his throat and tried to correct it because he didn’t want to talk about it. “Sorry, I meant that I need to get some fresh air.”
“What did we do wrong?” Jason asked, his expression an unhappy one. “Did we fuck it up for you last night?”
Daniel shook his head as he managed to dredge up sincerity in the midst of his anger. “No, you guys were wonderful last night.”
“Then what the hell’s wrong?” Jack asked. “And don’t give me any of that ‘I’m fine’ bullshit. Something’s wrong and we’ve known you long enough to tell. So out with it.”
Daniel ground his jaw. “I miss …” he began, then redirected. “You actually don’t know and yet you say you know me?”
“What’s that mean?” Jack asked angrily.
The flight response was kicking into high gear now and Daniel again didn’t want to talk about it because the urge to yell was becoming overpowering. “Nothing. It’s nothing. Maybe it’s just moodiness from the drug.” He turned away but Jack grabbed his arm.
Daniel shook him off and both Jack and Jason stared at him in disbelief. “What were you going to say?” Jack asked, his voice calming.
Taken aback, Daniel frowned, pretending to not know what he meant. “When?”
“You miss … what?” Jack persisted undeterred.
They were staring at him, looking so concerned, so worried. Where was that ten minutes ago when they were talking to each other and not to him? “I wish I’d driven down here in my own car,” he blurted out.
“You want to leave?” Jason asked, astonished.
“Why?” Jack asked, his voice rising again. “What the fuck did we do?”
“You didn’t do anything,” Daniel argued, wishing he could take back the statement about the car. This conversation was spiraling quickly. “That’s part of the point.”
“Enlighten us why that is,” Jack said sarcastically, making Daniel really want to hit him. Then Jack did something that increased the feeling. He calmed his voice and gave him the look of intense worry as he reached out and cupped his neck. “What’s wrong?”
Daniel ground his jaw again, fighting off the desire to inflict violence. He was very familiar with this tactic of Jack’s. It was that Dog with a Bone routine. He’d press him till he confessed. And Jason would be the hound dog, nipping at his heels.
“First, I miss you. Both of you,” he said, wishing away the blush rising to his cheeks.
The two of them stared at him, brows wrinkling. “What?” Jack asked.
“I miss you,” Daniel repeated. “Apart from when I was injured, neither of you have spent much time with me.”
“You’re with Dylan,” Jason began, but Daniel held up his hand to cut him off.
“I’m with Dylan because I like him, but I’m also with him because you two are not available.” He turned his attention to Jack and added, “And don’t give me that coddling bullshit about my not making any commitments. You remember that?” Jack nodded slowly. “Do you also remember all your constant advice, all that protectiveness, as if you were talking to a clueless idiot?”
“I never thought that,” Jack said, a fatalistic expression coming over his face.
Daniel felt a lot of his anger settling down, like a flock of hawks coming to land. Waiting. “Whether you knew it or not, Jack, all that shit you said was a lie.”
“Excuse me?” Jack asked, the tone high with his own anger.
“Don’t you even dare get pissed off at me,” Daniel said to him, and Jason as well, as he tried to remain as calm as he could. “You asked, so here it is. I miss you, as I said. Second, your continued protection is gratefully acknowledged but you can knock it off now. Third, whenever I’ve wanted to be with you, you’re busy. Whenever you’re here, you’re involved with something together. The last time I was here, I wanted to spend some time with you but you had made plans. You make me feel like a third wheel. So either knock that off or just own the fuck up that you’re in a relationship.” When they started to argue, Daniel cut them off again by raising his voice. “I’m not finished. I love you both, more than I can say. And damn you two for making me fall in love with you, knowing that I had no chance.”
“What the hell are you–” Jack began.
“Jack? Shut up,” Daniel interrupted. “If you two are going to be together, that’s your choice and I’ll support it because I love you, but stop telling me what to do, and stop telling me that I’m included in that part of your lives when I’m really not.”
They weren’t talking now, refuting his words. They stood there, gaping at him, and Daniel could see the anger in their eyes. It told him that he’d hit the right buttons. Taking a step back, he gave them a wan smile. “Please do me a favor and stop lying to yourselves and lying to me. And knock of the goddamn big brother routine.” He paused, then added, “Last night meant a lot to me. You have no idea how much. But the reason it did was only partly about fulfilling a kinky fantasy. Mostly, it had to do with the two of you.”
With that, Daniel took a few steps back, then with a quick, tight smile, he turned and walked across the living room, opened the door, and left.
Jason’s cheeks were hot with embarrassment and he looked at Jack imploringly. “But we were going to ask him to join us for a ride on the trails that were just completed. Hell, he even likes Arabian horses.”
Jack nodded and with a sigh said, “Right now, in his mood, he’d see it as a pity invite.”
“Shit,” Jason cursed. “I really didn’t know we were doing that mothering thing. When did we fuck this up?”
Jack reached out and wrapped his arm around Jason’s neck before pulling him against him. “When we fooled ourselves into thinking that he needed it. And when we fooled ourselves into thinking he preferred Dylan to us. It let our guilt off the hook.”
Jason pulled away and sat down at the dining table, running a hand through his hair. “He is right, you know. About all of it, including us.”
Jack cleared his throat and swallowed, then returned to the table and sat down next to his long-time lover. “Maybe he is,” he said, taking Jason’s hand. “But there’s just one thing he isn’t getting.” Jason lifted a brow in query. “What did you feel last night, when we were with him?”
Jason thought about it and he remembered feeling so much emotion, in both watching and participating. “It felt right, being part of his fantasy.”
Jack grinned at him and nodded. “Yes. And when he’s not around, when he’s specifically not with Dylan, how do you feel?”
Jason sighed and answered without needing to think twice. “I miss him. A lot.”
“And when he’s hurt?”
“I want to take the pain myself.”
Jack nodded slowly. “And you and me?”
Jason blinked and it dawned on him what Jack was getting at. “The same,” he said.
Jack ran his hand through his own hair, scratching absently at his scalp. “The same. Which means that yeah, he’s right. We … love each other.”
Jason stared at him, then said slowly, “I think … we’re … in love … with each other. Or am I wrong?”
Jack kept his gaze. “You’re not wrong.”
As if in apology, Jason said, “I wasn’t looking to, ya know. We’d made a promise a long time ago.”
Jack shrugged and made a face. “Apparently, shit happens.”
“Apparently,” Jason grinned. “So … here we are.”
“Here we are,” Jack said, then added a few long seconds later, “and in love with him, too.”
“We have one hell of a way of showing it,” Jason said sarcastically.
“So how do you want to handle this?”
“We have to tell him,” Jason said. He started to get up, but Jack reached out and stopped him. “What?”
“Let him be on his own for a while. We’ll find him at lunch, let him know afterward.”
“Providing he’ll listen.”
Jack snorted. “He’ll listen. He always does. And then, after we tell him, what would you like us to do this afternoon?”
It took Jason a moment to realize he meant the three of them, and then all he could do was give Jack a wicked smile.
“We’re supposed to go riding first,” Jack said as he pulled him in for a kiss.
“We can do that,” Jason replied. “Just without the horses.”
. . .
The massage therapist had been heaven. There’d been an opening at 10:00 and Daniel had grabbed it. Located on the first floor and deep within the estate itself, it was nicely secluded. His therapist was a nice surprise, for he was someone who practiced the Hawaiian style of massage, where they used not just their hands, but their arms as well. The only things missing were the prayers and tropical surroundings. The massage had worked its magic and Daniel felt his troubles and concerns ebb away with the manipulation of his muscles.
Afterward, he was led to a tropical steam bath, the water smelling deliciously of lilies. It was a pleasant surprise, and he soaked in peace while the air misted and the water swirled. The only thing that disturbed it was the idea of leaving. But twenty minutes later, he was pulled out of the bath, then given a second, lighter massage. By the time he left, he hadn’t felt as relaxed in a very long time.
An indoor path snaked around the side of the massage clinic, leading to the back of the estate. Daniel followed it around and it opened up onto a patio with cafe tables on either side. And it truly was a cafe, like the ones he would find in Italy or France. He almost expected to hear the languages and the music. He chose an umbrellaed table that skirted the open walkway and sat down in a nicely-cushioned chair that faced the sprawling backyard. Staring across the green, he heard the rush of water through the far-off trees, reminding him of the river, and wondered why there wasn’t a lake on the property. It was the only thing missing.
A waiter approached Daniel and asked him if he’d like something to drink. “Ice water with a bit of lemon,” he answered, remembering Jack’s words soon after the waiter left. He ordered himself not to dwell, to wish Jason and Jack every happiness because he couldn’t wish them ill if he tried, and tried to let his mind wander aimlessly. It was a little difficult, since Daniel rarely daydreamed. His mind was always ticking, like a working computer, thinking out problems, translations, or whether he wanted a new place to live. Sam had suggested he buy a house but Daniel still wasn’t sold on the idea.
Just after the waiter returned with his water, Daniel’s attention was drawn toward two people walking across the landscape, heading for the river. For a moment, he had thought they were Jack and Jason, but they weren’t. The relief was palpable and Daniel hated himself for it. He threw off the gloomy self-pity he could feel rising and focused on where he would go next. His body was relaxed, and in fact the massage had churned up a bit of arousal. It might be nice to boy watch for a while.
From behind, there came voices that really were speaking Italian. Daniel didn’t turn to look. He simply closed his eyes and listened to the tones and accents, not so much the words themselves. The men sounded sexy and Daniel promised himself that on his next leave, and if he could afford to go, he was going to Tuscany.
That was Giancarlo’s voice and Daniel started to turn his head just as Giancarlo and two other men stopped next to his table. “Giancarlo,” Daniel said as he got up and shook his hand. The man was wearing a grey silk shirt and black pants, so he obviously wasn’t on the job. “You look good,” he said in Italian. “How’ve you been?”
Giancarlo smiled broadly, as did his companions. “Very well, thank you,” he answered in English. “You are looking beautiful as always.”
Daniel smiled back. “Grazie.”
“You speak Italian with very little accent, Signore.”
“Comes from having excellent Italian teachers,” Daniel replied with a smile, appreciating Giancarlo’s flirtatious manner.
Giancarlo touched his shoulder and indicated his companions. “These are my friends, Alessandro Castellano and Fabrizio Luci. They have come from Rome for a visit.”
“Nice to meet you,” Daniel said as he shook their hands, feeling a pleasant warmth. They kept his hand just a second too long, but with the same ease as Giancarlo. He suddenly wondered if that was built into Italian design. They were both handsome men with wavy, shoulder-length brown hair. Alessandro’s was darker and he was a bit taller than his companion, but somewhat slimmer. Fabrizio was more muscular, like Jason. Like Giancarlo, each man had a bit of soft facial hair, neatly trimmed, and Daniel wondered if that was the fashion in Italy at the moment. There was a hint of fragrance in the air and their clothes were like Giancarlo’s, casual but expensive. They definitely took care of themselves. “Are you staying long in America?”
This was apparently taken as an invite by Alessandro. “A few months. Giancarlo has offered to be our guide,” he said, “but we would welcome someone like yourself to show us more?”
Daniel groaned inwardly, wanting so much to say yes. Both men had heavy accents, which he had always found sexy in an Italian. “I wish I could, but my job …” and he shook his head. “Not much time.”
Giancarlo invited him to have lunch with the three of them, and again, Daniel wished he could say yes. He’d already committed himself to sitting down with Jack and Jason. At that moment, however, he would have preferred dining with these men instead.
“After lunch, what are your plans?” Giancarlo asked.
Daniel shook his head. “I have none, Signore.”
Giancarlo gestured to the south. “I am taking my friends riding. Would you join us?”
“Riding?” Daniel asked in surprise. “Horseback riding? I didn’t know you had stables here.”
“It was completed last week,” Giancarlo answered. “We have some very fine horses.”
It sounded like a lot of fun, Daniel thought. “I accept,” he said with a broad smile, then tilted his head. “But you and your friends may laugh at me. It has been a long time since I’ve gone riding.”
“But you have before, Signore, and that is all that matters,” Alessandro said.
Daniel gave him a nod, feeling a mixture of relaxation and sexual tension. Perhaps after the riding was over, he’d join them in another physical activity. Given the way their gazes kept sliding over his body, they weren’t exactly being shy about their interest.
In the dining room, Daniel parted from his new companions and headed over to the table Jack and Jason had already taken. They didn’t look angry, thankfully. In fact, they looked … normal. And to Daniel’s surprise, Dylan was with them. Even though Daniel was glad, he couldn’t help thinking that Dylan wasn’t there of his own accord. Was he some sort of chaperone?
“Getting a chance to have lunch in the dining room, I see,” Daniel said as he greeted Dylan with a kiss on the cheek. Greeting Jason and Jack with a pleasant smile, he looked over his shoulder and smiled in Alessandro’s and Fabrizio’s direction before taking his seat.
“Who’s that?” Jack asked.
They may as well have said it all together, Daniel thought, given that they were glancing past him to see who he’d been talking to. “Giancarlo’s friends from Rome. I met them over at the cafe. Nice guys. They’ve invited me to go riding after lunch.” To Daniel’s surprise, this news was not met with smiles and warmth. In fact, he could swear they were angry, including Dylan. “What?”
Jack cleared his throat. “That’s what we were planning to do.”
Daniel jogged his brows as he lifted his glass of water. He felt a tug at his heart as he forced himself to casually answer with, “Then I guess I’ll see you there.”
“No,” Jason said, shaking his head as he stared at him. “Jack means we were planning on asking you to join us.”
Daniel hid the growing ache and gave them a brief, pleasant smile that he hoped didn’t look fake. “Thanks, I appreciate it, but it’s not necessary.”
Jack sighed and looked at Jason. “I told you.”
“Yeah, yeah, shut up.”
“Gonna tell me what that means?” Daniel sighed.
“It’s not a pity invite,” Jason told him.
Daniel could see the resentment in his eyes and suddenly felt like a shit. “It sounded like one.”
“Yeah, that’s what I told him,” Jack said, “after you left the suite this morning. Thing is, Daniel, we were planning on asking you before you gave us the fuck off.”
Daniel scowled back, becoming angry. “I didn’t tell you to fuck off. I told you to stop protecting me and to stop lying.”
Dylan cleared his throat and got up. “I think maybe I’ll see you three later.”
Before Daniel could argue, he’d walked away and Daniel had no intention of calling after him, making their business everyone else’s. He sighed heavily. “Shit. Thanks a lot.”
Jason and Jack didn’t respond, looking equally guilty. But Jack felt it was now or never. Daniel could get up and walk out, but at least he’d clear the air. “We love you, ya know.”
Daniel’s scowl returned. “I know that. So what?”
“So, you thick-headed dumbass,” Jason retorted, “that doesn’t just mean we love you as friends.”
Daniel ignored the name-calling because Jason tended to do that when he was mad. He let the other words sink in and stared back into their faces. They were sincere, although they were almost always sincere. But there was something different now. They looked a little flustered, even embarrassed. Probably because they were in the dining room and not alone somewhere else. “What are you getting at?”
Neither of them answered at first, partly because they were interrupted by the waiter. After their orders were taken, Daniel laced his fingers together and rested his forearms on the table. “This isn’t the time to be uncommunicative.”
Jack glanced at Jason, then back at Daniel, and suddenly wished he had a cigarette. Or a shot of bourbon. “You’re right, Daniel. We’re in a relationship.”
Daniel waited for more and when nothing came, he blinked at him in annoyance. He didn’t really expect a long explanation, but Jack had said more to him in his office a few months ago. What the hell was the problem now? “And?” he prompted.
“I don’t just want a relationship with him, I want one with you, too.”
“We both do,” Jason added quickly. “And we both love you.” He exchanged a look with Jack before adding, “As in, in love with you.”
Daniel’s his mouth fell open. “You have a hell of a way of showing it.”
“Yeah, we know,” Jack said with a painful smile.
Daniel started to say something, but there were no words adequate enough when he realized they were completely sincere. Getting mad at them now would be an asshole thing to do, wouldn’t it? He’d had his peace, so anything further would be salt in the wound. Didn’t mean they were off the hook because Daniel knew them, knew their annoying penchant for overprotective nonsense. But for the moment, he had to focus on what they’d just said because really, it was huge.
Saying, “Me too,” sounded a bit lame and he couldn’t actually think of anything else. A blush began to rise to his cheeks and it took all of his will power to try to get rid of it. But it was too little, too late. They could see it, and damn them, they were smiling at him with their eyes. They were happy about it. Damn them, and damn them for looking good, sitting there, making the anger bleed away.
Nothing else was said for several minutes, and when the waiter brought their food, the three of them began to eat in silence. Finally, halfway through their meal, Jack broke the silence.
“Wanna tell us anything?”
Daniel still said nothing, but he raised a questioning brow instead.
“You know, if you feel the same.”
Daniel almost choked. He swallowed his bite of his BLT sandwich, finishing it off with a long drink of ice tea. He took his time doing it because he wanted to laugh. Finally, he said, “Are you serious?” Jack seemed taken aback by the question, as did Jason. They both looked expectantly at him, their expressions now guarded. Apparently Jack had been serious. Well, he couldn’t blame him, or Jason. He’d been just as clueless about their feelings as they obviously were about his. Had he not been clear enough up in the suite?
After taking another drink, he said, “Yes, I love you, too. As in, in love with you. Both of you. Do you think I’d be as bothered by your deliberate obfuscation if I wasn’t?”
Jason smiled and started laughing, thinking it was so ‘Daniel’ to say something like that.
Jack was smiling right along with him, only his was more of a typical sarcastic grin. “Well, that somehow sounds better than lying. Thanks, Daniel.”
The air abruptly cleared of tension and Daniel smiled back. “You’re welcome.”
“So,” Jack started. “Are you going to join us instead?”
Daniel frowned at him. “Join you …?”
“Riding?” Jason reminded. “I went and saw the horses. They’re amazing and they even have some Arabians.”
Daniel lifted his brow, liking the sound of that. But. With a snarky grin and a deep feeling of payback, he said, “I’ve already accepted the invitation by Giancarlo and his friends.”
“So un-accept,” Jack snarked back.
Daniel expected that answer, but he declined and to both his relief and surprise, there wasn’t any further objection.
In fact, that lack of objection continued after he joined Giancarlo and his friends out on the riding trails because Jack and Jason were there. They hadn’t actually joined him, but they were watching, and for the first time, Daniel saw something from them that he hadn’t expected: Jealousy. Possessiveness and overprotectiveness were two things he’d gotten used to, and he’d put his foot down on the latter, but the jealousy left him with mixed feelings. He didn’t like jealousy, not even in himself, and he knew it was wrong to condone or encourage it. Still, he found himself purposely flirting with Alessandro and Fabrizio, knowing damn well what the looks meant on the faces of his lovers.
Maybe it was immature, maybe it was payback. But he enjoyed himself that afternoon and all through dinner, liking the attention he was getting from Jack and Jason and their threatening looks that promised something wonderfully nasty later. The only thing that marred it was not finding Dylan in his apartment.
Back in the suite, Jack and Jason were surprised when he returned alone. “Where’s Dylan?” Jack asked.
Daniel shook his head. “He wasn’t answering his door. Either he was busy or he wasn’t there.”
Jason chewed at his lip as an idea came to him. “I think I know where he is.”
Daniel frowned, because Jason’s expression didn’t look amused or happy. “What is it?”
“You remember how he left the table at lunch?”
Daniel nodded. “He left us to talk.”
Jason shook his head and Jack agreed. “Not quite,” Jack said. “You may have noticed that when he’s bothered by something, he goes quiet?”
“Kinda like you,” Jason said to Daniel.
“Only without the extras,” Jack added enigmatically.
“If you’re gonna get near the point …” Daniel said irritably.
“We could check downstairs,” Jason suggested, although his tone made it sound like it wasn’t exactly a suggestion.
“Down …” Daniel repeated, leaving off the end. The dungeon. “He goes to Dominic when he’s upset?”
“Or stressed,” Jack told him.
“Or horny as hell and in need of a thrashing,” Jason added with a clearing of his throat.
Daniel swallowed, feeling another mixture of emotions. He felt both curious and trapped. But if he wanted to share more of Dylan’s life, this was something he had to get over. “Okay,” he said crisply.
Jack and Jason looked surprised. “Okay, well,” Jack said. “We’ll show you–“
“No, maybe you shouldn’t,” Daniel said quickly, then apologetically added, “I mean, if you’d rather stay here. If I go down there, I intend to …” He swallowed, then said slowly, “Take Dominic’s place.” He’d expected shock, but there wasn’t any, and he was greatly relieved. “Providing Dominic allows it,” he added after a long pause.
Jack and Jason exchanged long looks, then Jack asked, “Mind if we … watched?”
Daniel felt his cheeks grow hot, but not from embarrassment. “Not one bit.”