The lone patron sitting at one end of the bar slowly searched the room and wondered if tonight would be the night. Nothing indicated that this would be the case and he despondently returned to toying with the mug in front of him. A deep sadness filled him and yet he refused to accept the possibility that what he sought may not be attainable and as a result would forever remain beyond his reach.
It was quickly closing in on three years since the young man had figured out what he wanted most in his life and over the past year and a half he’d been making a point of frequenting clubs similar to this one, yet his objective continued to elude him.
From the outside this place didn’t appear any different than many of the other brownstones that lined the street, but inside an entirely distinct atmosphere prevailed. The smells, the sounds and the dress of most the regulars bore witness to just what kind of club this was.
One by one the loner had given up on the other BDSM establishments, leaving this his last resort.
He withdrew into himself, desperately trying to drown out the sounds of implements landing on flesh and the moans of either ecstasy or pain that followed.
As usual, his being here was drawing curious stares from other patrons and especially from the bartender; all of which he patently ignored, or at least tried to. He looked hopefully towards the door when it opened and someone he hadn’t seen before walked in. It proved to be another disappointment minutes later when the newcomer turned out to be a sub looking for a little action.
Flynn left the smoky back room that served as an office and joined his sub behind the bar.
“Is your friend here again tonight?” he inquired as he got himself a beer.
Ned rolled his eyes. “I’ve never considered him anything other than a repeat customer, Flynn. But seeing as you asked, he’s right there in his usual place.”
The older man glanced to where Ned’s nod indicated. “He’s definitely good looking,” he casually commented.
“Humph, not that good-looking,” Ned grumbled under his breath, but apparently not low enough to be completely unheard. “Shit!” he exclaimed as a hard swat landed on the seat of his jeans.
“Can the jealousy, Brat. You know I only have eyes for you.” Flynn chuckled at the younger man’s expression of feigned exasperation and kissed him.
“Sorry,” was the softly spoken reply from the chastened man. He sent a crooked grin in his Dom’s direction before turning back to glance at the object of their conversation. “Oh-oh, there may be trouble brewing. The kid’s gonna shit his pants if Nelson talks to him.”
Flynn also grimaced when he saw what had attracted his sub’s attention. “Humph, it’s too late for us to change the course of things now. I’ll stay and keep an eye on them while you concentrate on your bar duties.”
True, Nelson was one hell of a hard-looking dude who looked like he’d gone one on one with a cement truck and lived to talk about it, but he had a good heart. He was an excellent Dom who handled each and every sub he played with by the rules. ‘Always safe’ was his constant motto.
Flynn shook his head when he saw the young man shrink back as Nelson drew near. A brief exchange of words took place before the older man backed off. The younger one slumped in his seat, his audible sigh of relieve to some extent amusing to those nearby.
“I thought he looked lonely and might want to play,” Nelson explained with a shrug as he settled on a bar stool across from Flynn. “This ugly mug of mine must have scared him off.” He smiled self-depreciatingly.
“I doubt that. No one has ever seen him even talking to anyone, let alone playing.”
“I haven’t seen him around before.” Nelson placed his empty glass on the bar and indicated he wanted a refill. “Not that this is one of my usual nights to be here.”
“According to Ned he’s been here numerous times, always changing times if something happens on any particular night to make him more uncomfortable than usual. Beats me as to why he’s still hanging around, because I really can’t remember ever seeing anyone as skittish as he is.” Flynn poured Nelson another drink and watched him saunter off in search of a possible player.
“I think it’s time to update the boss on this latest development.” Flynn leaned in and whispered for Ned’s ears only. “Be good and we’ll play later.” He was laughing loudly as he walked away from a sub who was all but purring.
Emerson quietly sat down. “Mind if I join you?” he inquired and then had to reach out in order to steady the man he’d unintentionally startled enough to almost topple off his seat.
“Sorry about that, my friend.” He bit back a smile when the young man stared at him suspiciously for a moment before resuming the job of wiping condensation off the fresh mug of beer in front of him.
Liam shifted as he tried to understand the puzzling effect the stranger’s sudden appearance had created. He found it both worrying and reassuring at one time. At least he wasn’t scary looking like some of the others had been; it was just that his presence seemed oddly intense. Surprisingly, Liam was not overly frightened by the power emanating from the bigger man sitting next to him. Still, he felt himself building a wall of feigned indifference as if he needed its’ protection.
“Being as we’ve never met before, I think your calling me ‘friend’ might be a bit premature,” was the impolite and uncalled-for retort. Liam briefly wondered what he was trying to prove. Although instantly attracted to this man, he seemed hell-bent on shunning him for some inexplicable reason.
Emerson was torn between the urge to wallop the young man’s backside and an equally strong desire to kiss the pouty mouth on his attractive face. Instead he offered his hand. “Point taken. My name is Emerson Mackenzie Jones. I own this establishment. There are times when I make an effort to meet and greet non-members such as you and this happens to be one of them.”
“Then I guess I should consider myself among the more fortunate.” Liam capitulated with a shy smile and reservedly shook hands. “I’m Liam Jaxon Boyd.” Now that the intros were over, he figured the questioning would begin and inwardly cringed at the thought.
As the ‘getting-to-know-you’ chit-chat continued somewhat haltingly, Emerson easily picked up on Liam’s restlessness. Eyes darting about each time another patron entered, agitation increasing as the large room filled up and the noise level grew.
Suddenly the thud of a paddle followed a split-second later by a low moan was heard. Emerson frowned when he saw the young man shudder and close his eyes, visibly shrinking into himself.
Wrapping a large hand around Liam’s upper arm, Emerson half-lifted, half-pulled him up and began steering him towards a hallway leading to the back of the premises. “What say we find ourselves a little privacy?” he suggested and was pleased when Liam silently complied.
Doors smoothly opened to give them access to an elevator known only to the few who used it. When the doors opened a second time, Liam found himself being escorted into a tastefully decorated apartment, down two steps and into a sunken living room where he was invited to sit.
After getting comfortable in one of the leather armchairs, Emerson faced his guest and started what Liam would later term a very polite interrogation.
“Ned and Flynn tell me you’ve been visiting my club fairly regularly over the past several months. They, along with me, are a little confused as to why when you apparently lack an interest in the activities that take place here. In fact, you actually seemed frightened by them.” Leaning forward, Emerson astutely asked, “Just what are you looking for, Liam? I’d really like to help you if at all possible.”
Liam gazed into the warm eyes of his host. In them he saw only sincerity and an honest, open desire to assist. But could this man know of anyone who would be willing to accept him under his conditions and thus culminate his search. After several long moments of silence, Liam decided to take a chance.
“I’m looking for a Master.” Liam held his breath and waited for the reaction, afraid of the inevitable disappointment.
Emerson didn’t so much as blink an eye. One would think this was an everyday statement. “A ‘Master’ usually denotes a Dom/Sub lifestyle, Liam.”
“So there probably isn’t even one man who would consider taking on a slave who has no fascination at all in physical bondage; who isn’t turned on by pain; who finds no pleasure in being humiliated?”
Emerson sat back and stroked his chin. Nodding thoughtfully, he concurred, “I guess there is always someone willing to try something different. But tell me; have you witness abuse in any properly regulated club such as mine? Have you seen anyone here being forced to do something they didn’t want to do?
“Not at all!” Liam adamantly declared. “Quite the opposite; in fact, they all seem perfectly happy doing what they do. It’s just not my thing. None of the scenes hold pleasure for me, unless cringing, gagging and almost being ill happens to be the main goal.”
“Then can you explain a little more clearly exactly what you have in mind, Liam? What are you hoping to receive from a Master and what do you have to give in return?”
Liam cleared his throat and toyed with a loose button on his vest. “I’ve been on my own for a long time and it sure isn’t as great as some might think. It is very lonely and sometimes even a little frightening. I want to belong to somebody and have somebody belong to me. I’d like a Master I can serve. A Master with needs I can meet; whose home I can maintain and whose meals I can prepare. And I want a Master who will like having me around, who will keep me safe and give me a place to live. Guess I mostly just want to be wanted,” he finished in a barely audible voice.
“What if you find someone who is willing to provide all that but still wants a little BDSM action?”
“I don’t mind him playing with different subs. But then that wouldn’t be my call to make, would it?”
“Probably not,” Emerson agreed. “One last question; would you consider having a mistress as opposed to a master?”
Liam looked taken aback but held his tongue in order to give the matter some thought. “I guess I would if no sexual service was required. I’m gay and have no idea how to satisfy a woman in that manner, nor do I have a desire to learn.” He didn’t admit his uncertainty in regards to his ability to even sexually please a man.
Emerson smiled as he got to his feet. “How about leaving it with me? I know a lot of people in the community and will discretely ask around.”
Realizing the conversation was over; Liam stood up and began inching his way towards the door. “I’d appreciate that, sir. I don’t want to impose but I haven’t had any luck at all on my own.” He was disappointed by what he felt was a premature dismissal. He was getting comfortable and would have liked to spend more time with this man he felt so drawn to. This was new to him as he usually found talking to strangers very difficult if not impossible. On the other hand, he wasn’t too keen on answering any more personal questions as he’d already answered more than he normally would have.
Emerson saw his guest out and bade him good night. He pulled out his cell phone and speed-dialled a friend. “Hello, Brandon. I’ve got a big favour to ask of you, so I hope you don’t mind me dropping by tomorrow evening.”
“Come in, come in, my friend,” Brandon greeted, pulling Emerson in for a hug. “You certainly have my curiosity at an all-time high.” He released his friend and indicated they go to the kitchen area while he poured them both a cup of coffee.
“Then I take it you want me to get right to the reason for my visit?” the other man teased before leaning against the counter and turning serious. “Truth be told, I’d like to know how you and Raven are doing. Folks haven’t seen much of either of you since Con passed away three months ago.”
“We’re okay,” Brandon nodded as he pushed a mug across to Emerson along with some cream and sugar. “Of course we had a tough go of it at first, but things are settling down. We jointly decided upon keeping the same rules in place that Con and Raven had. I suggested a couple of other areas we could work on and Raven agreed. Then there was the testing period to go through and somehow both of us managed to survive that, although not completely unscathed.”
Emerson chuckled at his friend’s sense of humour. “I’m pretty sure Conrad would be pleased at your partnership. And just where is your Brat if I may be so bold as to ask?”
“He’s at the shop with my blessings to work late,” Glancing at the clock on the wall, Brandon continued. “We have about an hour before he gets home, so start talking.”
“Okay, don’t get pushy,” Emerson laughed at Brandon’s impatience. “There’s a young man whose background I’d like you to check out for me. I’m afraid this is all the information I have about him and it was like pulling hen’s teeth to get this little bit.” He passed a sheet of paper over to his friend and waited for Brandon to read it.
“This is it? Only a name with the date and city of birth? Not a hell of a lot to go on, but it’s doable. I’ll certainly give it my best shot. I trust you’re not in too big a hurry for this.”
“I’ll implement as much patience as I can muster; promise. Thanks, Brandon, I really appreciate this.”
“Mind me asking what this young man means to you?”
“He’s just a kid who’s been hanging around the club lately. I asked him why and he told me he was searching for a Master. Strange thing though, he isn’t at all interested in the scene.”
“Let me guess. You offered to help him.”
“I did, but think it would be easier to find him a match if I had more information to go on. He’s somewhat tight-lipped about himself.”
“You’re usually able to get around that and finagle words out of someone who’s uncommunicative.
“He’s real jumpy and I didn’t want to push. He is inexperienced and I’m worried about him settling for someone completely unsuitable. Although I have to admit, he seems to have exercised a lot of caution up to this point. But one never knows if desperation will change that”
“Gotcha!” Brandon nodded his understanding. “Well, I’m free for the next three or four weeks so here’s hoping I can wrap this up for you before I hit the road again.”
“Will you be traveling alone?”
“Not this time. Raven will be accompanying me in the RV. We’ll be leaving as soon as he finishes the new design he’s been painting on in his spare time.”
“I bet it will be rather impressive,” Emerson commented. He’d seen some of the young man’s work and knew Raven was making quite a name for himself.
Double doors smoothly slid open and Raven walked into the loft. He smiled shyly at Emerson as he shirted around him to bury himself in his Top’s welcoming arms.
“You’re home earlier than expected, babe. You decided to come say hello to Emerson after all?”
“Not really. The job went easier than I thought it would.” Raven would be the last one to admit the truthfulness of Brandon’s words.
“Come here, Raven,” Emerson encouraged. “Give an old family friend a hug.” He was pleasantly surprised when his requested was fulfilled even if it was with some hesitancy. It was a marked change in how Raven usually responded to anyone other than his partner, but Emerson wasn’t about to question it.
Another hour of catching up with each other and Emerson was on his way home.
Over the next few weeks, Emerson saw Liam at least once a week and made it a point to talk to him. It was mostly through the subtleties of body language and accidently spoken hints that he learned as much as he did about the young man. They did discuss Master/slave relationships and what might be expected from each party involved. It was these conversations that greatly influenced Emerson in forming more than a passing interest in Liam.
He also noticed that Liam continued to rebuff all advances made by other patrons of the club, regardless of whether they were Doms or subs. But as long as Liam kept coming around, Emerson assumed he hadn’t found what he was looking for. Of course, Emerson would be hard-pressed to admit even to himself why he found that conviction so promising.
Then one night a month after Emerson had requested his help, Brandon arrived at the apartment above the club.
“There are parts of this that you’re not going to like, Emerson,” Brandon warned before starting his report.
“Doesn’t matter; I need to hear it all.”
“Liam was born to an unwed mother who haemorrhaged and died in childbirth because she refused to go to the hospital. He was raised until he was about six years old by his grandmother, who then passed away. Aside from the house her husband had left her, the poor old woman didn’t have a lot. She was also burden with a drunkard for a son who had an equally useless wife. After his grandmother’s death, Liam was left with his mother’s brother, Gordon, and Gordon’s wife, Marion, who didn’t really want him. The Boyds had inherited the family home where they had lived their entire married life. In fact, they are still there. They were both alcoholics who worked mostly to drink and had relatively little contact with the boy. To be precise, the kid raised himself. He got up in the morning, ate whatever he could find, got dressed and went to school all on his own.”
“Where did you get this information?” Emerson asked. He had to speak up in order to stop grinding his teeth. He was already getting pissed off and he hadn’t even heard the whole story.
“Mostly from people still living in the neighbourhood who had little sympathy for the Boyds but lots for the kid, Liam’s teachers and even from the Boyds themselves.” Brandon referred to his notes before continuing. “Liam didn’t have a family life to speak of. They never did anything for the holidays unless you count the consumption of even more alcohol as a form of celebrating. Neighbours say they never saw a Christmas tree, pumpkin or any other décor around the place. The little guy pretty much hung around, scrounging money or food during times he was unable to find odd jobs. Apparently, he was quite industrious; had a paper route by the time he was eight, starting cutting grass in summer and shovelling snow in winter from the time he was big enough to do so; put together a bike from old parts and was delivering groceries for the corner store by age ten. The list goes on until he finished high school at seventeen. The Boyds to this day still claim they took good care of the boy and always took him with them when they went anywhere overnight. But they readily owned up to the fact that when they learned of his sexual orientation, they kicked him out. That happened shortly after he finished school.”
Brandon paused in his narrative and looked pointedly at his friend. “You’re going to need to see a dentist when we’re through here, Emerson, if you don’t give those teeth of yours a break.”
Emerson’s only response was to scowl and order Brandon to go on.
“According to those who saw him most, the kid never really participated in sports or anything. Although a couple of his teachers said he loved music and was good at imitating any singer he happened to hear. Close neighbours say he was extremely fond of trains; practically camped out during the summer at the railroad tracks.”
Taking in Emerson’s sombre expression, Brandon figured he better prepare him. “It doesn’t get any better, Em.” A dismissive wave of the other man’s hand had him checking his notes once again.
“As near as I’ve been able to discover, he spent the next couple of years on the street after the Boyds kicked him out, taking whatever work he could find. Most of that work was in the local soup kitchen so he could earn a daily meal. Other young men who knew him supported my findings of him never getting involved with the sex or drug trades. However, there is approximately a year and a half I cannot account for. When he was nineteen, he just seems to have vanished. Someone said he’d found another line of work but was unable to provide details. Then as suddenly as he had disappeared, he was back. He turned up at the train station one day and has been working there since. That was over two years ago. Were you aware of him living at the station?” Brandon looked quizzically at his friend.
“Yeah, he mentioned that part. Apparently he lives in a small room meant for employees but is rarely used by anyone else. However, he admits to finding it very lonely at the best of times.”
“Humph, now that’s probably an understatement. From what I’ve observed, he enters and leaves through the door of an adjacent building very furtively. Makes one wonder what he’s hiding.” Brandon leaned closer to Emerson’s chair. “You do know what he is really searching for, don’t you? Whether he knows it or not, he wants a life-partner. God knows he needs one. Thing is, he doesn’t think he’s worthy of one; hence, his desire to be someone’s slave instead.”
“How did you figure that?”
“I’ve done profiling, remember? I think it’s one of the reason you wanted me to handle this investigation.”
Emerson nodded. “Yes. I don’t know what I was expecting to learn, but I had hoped for something better than this as far as the kid’s upbringing is concerned. He had a real shit start in life, didn’t he?”
“So when are you going to let him know his life is about to get better?”
“What do you mean?”
“Give me a break, Emerson. It’s obvious you want the kid. It’s just a question of when you’re gonna own up to it.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Riiiight!” Emerson agreed with a crooked grin. “I haven’t told Flynn anything about this. He was the first one to bring Liam to my attention and I think he expected me to get rid of the kid.”
“Then I think Flynn is in for a hell of a shock!” Brandon burst out laughing.
Emerson was becoming concerned. Since making the major decision to present a plan of action to Liam, the young man hadn’t been seen. It was the third consecutive week for a no-show, and it resulted in Emerson deciding to go after him.
The train station was crowded, but not as bad as it would have been had it been the weekend. Emerson ignored the clusters of people, correctly assuming Liam would be on his own; as usual finding comfort in being on the sidelines.
Spotting whom he’d come for, Emerson headed towards the young man pushing a cleaning cart at the far end of the depot.
“Liam!” he exclaimed, grabbing the younger man’s arm and turning him around.
Liam gasped in surprise. This was the last place he expected to see Emerson. “What are you doing here?”
“What do you think? You haven’t darkened the door of the club in almost a month. I was getting worried.” Knowing this wasn’t the place for the conversation he wanted to have, Emerson backed off some. “Look, we need to talk. When will you be free to come by the club?”
“I can finish up here in about half an hour. I guess I can come over then.”
“My car’s in the parking lot. I’ll wait for you out front. Forty-five minutes; be there,” Emerson strongly suggested.
“I will.” Liam took the older man’s sudden appearance as a sign something must have come up, so true to his word, he showed up as promised. In fact, he was five minutes early.
Back at the apartment, Emerson settled his large frame into his favourite armchair while Liam sank down on the ottoman in front of him. The older man liked the idea of them being within touching distance.
Not wanting to waste time with civilities, Emerson chose to get right to the point. “Why did you stop coming around, Liam?”
The young man shrugged and looked everywhere but at the man speaking to him.
“I’m talking to you, boy. It’s the reason we’re here, remember?”
“After almost two years of looking, I finally accepted it was a lost cause. I know we talked each time I came by, but you never said if you were still willing to help me or not. I just figured you weren’t successful in finding someone for me.” This explanation was only partially true. The rest was that Liam was falling hard for the older man and realizing how fruitless it was to hope for a relationship with Emerson, the young man had turned tail and run rather than face rejection and inevitable heartache.
“I’m sorry it took longer than either of us would have liked. I didn’t want to get your hopes up before I had the information I needed, only to dash them into the ground.” Emerson waited until he had his guest’s full attention. He saw the light of hope in Liam’s eyes and gently smiled. “Yes, I think I have someone for you to contemplate. However, you must be prepared to make what most would consider a lot of sacrifices in order for this man to accept you as his slave. We’ve already discussed a great deal about such a relationship, but are you really ready for it?”
“It would depend on who you have in mind.” Liam felt he would give up breathing for this man in front of him. He wasn’t sure if he could completely give up his independence for anyone else.
“It’s me. Liam. I am willing to be your Master. But my expectations are high.”
Liam’s eyes widened in shock and he had to blink a couple of times in order to fully comprehend what Emerson had just said. “Can you give me an example?” he barely managed to get out.
“I’ll do better than that. I want no misunderstandings. As my slave, you will belong to me one hundred percent, twenty-four seven. You will give up your job and move in here. Your freedom as you now know it will become non-existent. I will dictate where you go, what you do, what you wear and what you eat. You will learn to please me, and only me. In return, I will provide you with a home and all the necessities of life. I will keep you warm, safe and cared for.”
“Will there be rules?”
“Life is full of rules, Liam. Nature functions according to rules, societies are governed by rules; without rules there is chaos. You will have little to say about the rules here and even less about the consequences for breaking them.” Emerson knew he sounded unbending and maybe even harsh, but he needed to be sure this was what the boy wanted.
“Before I decide, can I ask what the consequences will be?”
“You may ask anything you wish. Please be assured, Liam, you will never be punished for breaking a rule you knew nothing about. However, once a rule has been firmly established and is broken, I will employ at least one or two of several penalties. You may lose privileges; you may be given a writing assignment such as lines or an essay; or you may be given a time out, possibly served in the corner. If the infraction warrants it, you will be spanked.”
Liam paled. “With a belt or other implements?” he whispered, actually frightened by the potential answer.
“Never, little one. It will be over my knee, administered with my hand only.” Everson reached out to cup Liam’s chin and rubbed his thumb down the side of his smooth cheek. He felt the moisture of sweat and continued the soothing motion until the young man calmed somewhat.
“I-I think I can handle that.” Liam was surprised by the level of trust he had in this larger-than-life alpha male. At five-foot-ten, Liam was not a small man by any means, but at six feet-four inches, Emerson appeared almost giant-size.
“You will always be free to express an opinion or make a request, Liam. However, you will never be free to argue with me or contradict me. Do you understand?”
Liam nodded, a little wide-eyed but not overwhelmed by all that had been decreed. Although truth be told, he was having a little trouble grasping his good fortune in this man actually offering to take him as his slave.
“You will need some time to think things over in order not to make a hasty decision you may come to regret. Once the contract is agreed upon, only going our separate ways will end it.”
“I don’t need any time. This is what I’ve been looking for.” Liam slid off the ottoman unto his knees. He gazed directly into Emerson’s eyes and solemnly declared, “I understand, Master.”
Emerson studied the man in front of him and made note of the sincerity in Liam’s voice and body language. He smiled and reached into his pocket to pull out a small box. Opening it, he carefully lifted the gold chain that was lying on the blue velvet lining. There was a miniature padlock hanging on one end of it. Placing the chain around Liam’s neck, he closed the padlock with a soft click. Then he read the engraving aloud, “Property of E. J.”
Liam’s head dropped against his new Master’s knee as he humbly expressed his gratitude.
Emerson gently raised his slave’s head. He caught his breath as he stared into blue eyes sparkling with unshed tears and gazing back at him. His chest swelled and he felt a little light-headed with the sudden realization of just how enriched his life was about to become.
Both men acknowledged they had a lot of work ahead of them, but both looked forward to it as a challenge and hopefully a vast improvement over what they had now.
Although Liam had deliberately set out on his quest, Emerson had been unaware of even being on one. Yet for better or worse, the quests had brought them together.