We wish to sincerely thank Sean and a couple of on-line friends for all their encouragement and welcomed suggestions.
Liam moved about the club as inconspicuously as possible gathering up empty and partially filled but abandoned glasses. He was unaware of how well he carried himself or how graceful his movements were. He was, however, fully aware of the eyes that followed his every move. They were dark eyes that belong to his Master. Eyes that had at one time made him uneasy because he erroneously believed his actions were being closely monitored to see if he would make a mistake, thereby earning retribution. He now knew such was not the case.
He thought of the nighttime hours he’d spent in his Master’s bed and wondered not for the first time how it was that the older man could so easily bring him to the heights of ecstasy. Liam never would have considered himself a tactile being, but apparently he was. When in the arms of his Master he experienced the freedom to be whoever it was he was meant to be and was daily learning more about himself. He just couldn’t figure out why simply knowing his Master was watching him was enough to push the buttons that always turned him on and set his heart racing.
It became even more physically and emotionally intense whenever his Master ordered him to set the security system. No one could enter the apartment or even step into the elevator without their presence being noted. They would never be granted entrance unless their visit was to proclaim an emergency.
Making his Master’s home inaccessible signaled him to continue his duties in the nude. Liam was expected to strip immediately and carry on while the man who owns him remained fully dressed.
His Master merely had to sit back and watch him for Liam’s body to respond to the unspoken power the older man had over him. Within a matter of minutes Liam could depend on his manhood becoming rigid and standing at attention. It required no physical contact for this to happen.
Liam imagined his Master holding a remote control in his hand and inwardly laughed at the whimsicality of it all.
“Bet you’re daydreaming about that gorgeous Master of yours,” a voice rudely disturbed Liam’s musing.
“Huh?” Liam shook his head as if to bring himself back to the here and now.
Ned laughed at the confused expression on the younger man’s face. “There’s something trying desperately to escape the confines on your pants.” He meaningfully glanced down for a moment and then laughed louder as Liam’s face turned red with understanding.
Liam looked down and saw the rising bulge in his jeans. A bulge that he thought was growing only in his imagination. He hastily held the large plastic bin of glasses in front of him and hoped no one else had noticed. Looking over at his Master instantly crushed that prospect. His Master’s amusement was definitely evident.
Lowering his head, Liam hurriedly made his way to the room behind the bar where the washing up was done. There he lay down the container and leaned against the counter’s edge, holding on with both hands. He willed his breathing under control and fought the almost overwhelming urge to jerk off. Only he couldn’t; he’d been forbidden to touch himself in a sexual manner by the man whose collar he wore.
His face cooled down faster than his hard-on softened, but in time all was back to normal. Except for the mixed feelings of embarrassment and self-disgust. He was definitely going to have to work harder at keeping his mind on the job.
He pulled a previous receptacle from out of the dishwasher, checking to make sure all the items in it were dry before sliding in the latest one of dirty glassware. Feeling ready to face the world again, he picked up a full tray and headed back to the main room to restock the bar with clean glasses.
He narrowed his eyes and silently dared Ned to say another word about the earlier incident. Fortunately, Ned chose not to take him up on it.
“Slow tonight, isn’t it?” Ned spoke conversationally and made room for Liam to get passed him.
“I guess,” Liam agreed. “I really don’t have much to compare it with.”
“True enough,” Ned concurred. He was wondering what he could say or do to help the younger man relax when the big front doors opened and a middle-aged gentleman entered and glanced around before heading to the other side of the room.
“Well, well, well, look who just walked in. They haven’t been here in a while.”
Liam glanced towards the entrance and frowned. “Only one man came in, Ned. He’s sitting by himself at that far table.”
“Yeah, but another will be arriving shortly. They pay us a visit once a month as a rule. Except last month they were a no-show. I should have figured it out when I spotted Flynn setting up a ‘school room’ earlier, complete with a cane.” Ned shivered in anticipation at the pictures that conjured up. When properly applied by his Dom in a perfectly set up scene, he could easily become aroused by the cane.
At the perplexed expression on Liam’s face, Ned elaborated. “It’s some kind of prearranged meeting between these two. This one is waiting for a ‘client’. From what I can piece together, this one, Harvey, is the disciplinarian and the other, Gordon, requires punishment; reasons unknown. I get the feeling they don’t even associate with each other away from here.”
Sure enough, five minutes later a second man arrived. He was slightly older, a bit on the chunky side and appeared to be carrying a chip on his shoulder. He acted as if he resented being summoned; kind of like a student who thought he was being unfairly singled out. Words were quietly exchanged and the two men walked down the hall to a private suite, the second man insolently following the first one.
Liam could only describe what had taken place as similar to a scene in a play, although he was unsure of exactly what it was he had observed. He was distracted from the thoughts whirling around in his head by Ned’s greeting of other newly arrived patrons.
“Good evening, Antonio; you too, Luciana. We’ve been expecting you.”
Liam wondered why Ned looked slightly ill at ease, but refrained from asking in front of anyone else. He patiently waited until they were alone and turned a raised eyebrow in Ned’s direction.
“I behaved rather badly in Antonio’s restaurant last week. It involved tomato tossing, a paddling and being barred from his establishment for a time.”
Liam blinked in disbelief. “H-how come?” he barely managed to stammer out.
“I let a friend borrow my Harley and he totalled it. I spent most of last Friday morning cleaning up his mess. He wasn’t badly hurt or anything, just some road rash on his left thigh because he wasn’t wearing leather pants. Mind you, I wouldn’t have objected to adding a few bruises of my own. Shouldn’t have let him take the bike in the first place, I guess. He’s never been overly reliable. Besides that, dealing with police and insurance agents is not high on my list of fun things to do. Having my lunch order not filled as requested was the last straw and I lost it. Big time, I might add. This is the first time I’ve seen Antonio or Luciana since then.” Ned tried to shrug it off but didn’t quite succeed at convincing anyone.
“Do they come here often?” Liam felt sorry for his friend having to be repeatedly reminded of his less than stellar moment.
“Yeah, every Monday evening for Antonio to get his fix.”
“His business is rewarding but also very stressful. What happens here relaxes him.”
Liam watched wide-eyed as Antonio stripped to his waist and walked over to the St. Andrew’s Cross on the raised platform in the middle of the large room. He was surprised to see the big man being restrained at the wrists and ankles in a spread-eagle position by the small woman who had accompanied him.
“Is he a sub?” Liam whispered.
“Oooh-no, he’s all alpha. Luciana has been trained to serve him in this fashion. They’ve been doing this for several years now and she was taught by the best; Emerson’s grandfather. By the time she’s finished with Antonio this evening, he’ll be like putty in her hands; relaxed and flying high. He’d never let anyone else touch him.”
“Another case of different strokes, huh?”
“You got it.” Ned smiled at the other man’s nervousness and changed the subject by making an inquiry that had nothing to do with the club or its activities. “How’s school going?”
“Good.” Liam welcomed the diversion.
“You enjoying it?”
“How big is the class?”
“There’s fifteen of us.”
“You the only guy?”
“Nope, there’s two others.”
“Humph, I’m surprised there are any. One would think most stuff to do with esthetics to be a girl thing; although, I understand your reasons for wanting to learn some of it. Honest.” Ned held up his hands as if to ward off an attack when he saw the frown darkening the other man’s features. “You want to pick up some tricks that let you take better care of your Master.” He waited until the annoyance disappeared and then continued his questioning. “Are either of the other two male students gay?”
“Well, Frank’s got a long-time girlfriend, but the rest of us aren’t exactly sure about Ralph. He flirts a lot with all the girls but we think that’s just a ruse.”
“Maybe he’s not ready to come out yet, assuming he is gay,” Ned commented.
Liam shrugged. “Either way, I couldn’t care less.” Then he began to chuckle. “All but one of our instructors is an oriental woman and all are very talented in each of their fields. Our hairdressing instructor is male and a real riot. He is extremely flamboyant, elegant and maybe just a tad overly confident. At least that’s my impression of him. The very first time we were in his course he introduced himself with ‘My name is Fancy. I’m a flamer and proud of it! If any of you have a problem with that I suggest you either learn to suck it up or get out of my class. I expect to be treated with respect at all times. Anything less can adversely affect your marks.’ He’s actually rather awesome,” Liam laughed as he thought about his first encounter with the man.
“And he gets away with that?” Ned was astounded.
“Apparently! Due I suspect to him being very good at what he does and also being tremendously popular. I overheard another student speaking to the Dean and she was told if she didn’t like it, to drop the course ‘cause there’s quite a waiting list.”
“So how did you get into the class when you only registered a month ago?”
“Well, I’m not taking the entire course. I’m only interested in cutting men’s hair; actually just my Master’s,” Liam informed him.
“Hey, I’ve always believed diversity is one of the spices of life.” Ned was laughing along with his friend until a voice from the other side of the bar interrupted them.
“Sounds more like something Flynn would say, Ned, not you.”
Liam and Ned glanced up just as Royce dropped onto a bar stool. The scowl on his face ample proof he was in a rotten mood.
“Geesh, who pissed in your corn flakes, Royce?” Ned asked. He was unable to make out the mumbled words he received in response to his query. “Never mind then. Don’t know if I really want to hear about it. We haven’t seen you in three weeks and this is how you greet us.”
“Sorry, I’m a little ticked off at the moment. But not at you guys.”
“Okay, apology accepted. What can I get you?”
“A Bud Lite! And keep ‘em coming,” Royce ordered as he continued to sulk. “By the way, Nelson wants a rum and coke.” He brightened up just a shade when his beer was placed in front of him and he’d downed a huge mouthful.
“So, what are you guys talking about?” Royce demanded to know when Ned returned from serving Nelson.
“Liam’s school days,” Ned answered, smirking at Liam. “And being as Emerson picks you up after class, how do you explain him?” Ned’s curiosity was getting the better of him. Royce just looked on with feigned disinterest.
“I don’t!” Liam shrugged off the question.
“You mean no one has asked about him?” Ned wasn’t buying that one.
“A few of the girls have ogled him; a couple even gave me their phone numbers to give to him ‘cause they think he’s only a friend. But I’m pretty sure they’re doomed for a major disappointment.”
“Ya got that right,” both Ned and Royce’s voices echoed simultaneously.
“Listen, guys, I kind of have something to ask you about,” Royce said, lowering his voice and leaning in a bit as if trying to avoid being overheard. Realizing he had the other two men’s undivided attention, he continued. “You remember a couple of weeks ago on that Sunday evening when we were sort of giving Liam a start off to college and got a little carried away?” Getting dual nods in response, he took a deep breath and ventured forth. “Did either of you catch shit for us more or less forcing our way into Emerson’s apartment even after Liam told us we weren’t welcome?”
“I sure as hell did!” Ned unwaveringly admitted. “Flynn was really pissed.”
Liam felt himself blushing again. It was the first time his Master had physically punished him and he instantly recalled the shame he’d felt at having disobeyed and the subsequent embarrassment of finding himself over his Master’s knee. Fortunately, he also recalled the unexpected kindness shown him following the chastisement. Unable to verbally answer, he merely nodded. Glancing in the mirror on the back wall, he grimaced at the sight of his reddened face and wished there was something he could do to prevent this reoccurring flushing that always gave away his awkwardness.
“Hey, it’s all right, kid. Happens to the best of us,” Ned attempted to set Liam’s mind at ease.
“Not all of us,” Royce grumbled. “All Nelson said was that it was rude of me and that I should know better. I was kind of hoping he’d do more. I think I want what you guys have.”
“I don’t understand.” Liam was puzzled. “You have adamantly declared on more than one occasion that you’d never want to be a slave; that you’d never wait on anyone. You already have a Dom like Ned, so what else do you want?”
“I love having a Dom, but I also want a ‘Top’.”
Liam expression showed he was more baffled than ever, so Ned took pity on him and explained. “Royce wants a discipline relationship. We’ve been talking over different lifestyles and some of the terminology, remember Liam? I’m a sub and also a Brat. You’re a slave, but you too are also a Brat. Emerson is a Master, a Dom and a Top. Flynn is a Dom and a Top.”
“Yes, I remember you telling me all that. And about how some folks like to keep the terms distinctly outlined, while others kind of blend them together. There are as many diversities as there are folks who make any element of these lifestyles a part of their lives. However I’m still finding it hard to keep straight. But, Royce, why don’t you just come right out and ask Nelson?”
“It’s not easy telling your lover you want to be punished when you step out of line, kid,” Royce responded with a bit of a sneer.
“Hmm, probably no easier than telling someone you want to be a slave,” Liam quietly uttered.
“The kid’s got a good point there, Royce,” Ned stated.
Royce rolled his eyes, huffed and walked off with his third beer in hand.
“Do you think he’s going to ask?” Liam inquired.
“Oh yeah,” Ned answered. “He’s just gonna go about it the wrong way.”
Liam pretended he understood even though he had no idea what Ned was getting at.
A long, drawn-out moan was heard from the center of the room as the final blow from a heavy flogger landed and Antonio went limp. He continued his low mewling of bliss as three large men immediately got to their feet and headed towards the raised dais where the cross was situated.
While Emerson supported Antonio, Flynn undid the restraints and Nelson gathered up the discarded clothing. Providing support, Flynn slowly steered a weak-kneed Antonio down the hall with the clothes Nelson had handed him.
Emerson smiled down at Luciana who was sitting on the floor. She was obviously exhausted. “Wore you out, huh?” Getting only a soft sigh, he bent and scooped her up into his arms. “Let’s get the two of you settled for the night.” He headed after the other two men.
“Where are they going, and why?” Liam wanted to know.
“To the private guest apartment,” Ned answered. “Flynn and Emerson will finish undressing them and put them to bed. They’ll be raring to face another busy week come morning.” He glanced over at Royce who’d been anxiously awaiting his Dom’s return. “I don’t know,” Ned mumbled worriedly, shaking his head. “But I’m afraid trouble’s brewing.”
The two men behind the bar did a good imitation of being busy while actually keeping an eye on the movements of two others. They watched as Nelson sat back down next to Royce and attempted to put an arm about his shoulders. Royce instantaneously pulled away. Nelson merely rolled his eyes.
Hoping his plan would come off better in front of an audience, Royce waited for Emerson and Flynn’s return to start a scene.
“I want to do a scene, Nelson,” he boldly stated. He had already been informed that they would not be playing anytime this evening and given the reasons why.
“We discussed this before leaving home, Royce.” Nelson’s voice clearly showed he wasn’t prepared to put up with any bullshit. Unfortunately, his sub decided to ignore the warning.
“You discussed it. I didn’t because I concluded your reasoning was flawed.”
Flynn almost choked on his drink while Emerson glanced over to check on his slave and discovered the young man was all ears. Ned, on the other hand, seemed to find the conversation somewhat amusing.
“I believe you’ve had enough to drink, Royce.” Nelson reached over and took the half-filled glass out of his partner’s hand.
“You’re just using that as an excuse not to play,” Royce argued.
“A perfectly viable one, considering your developing habit of neglecting to use your safe word in a timely fashion. One would think you were deliberately looking to be harmed.”
“You’re really turning out to be something of a wimp, Nelson.” Royce knew he was pushing it but wasn’t able to stop himself from taking that final step.
Nelson’s eyes narrowed as he got to his feet, wrapped a beefy paw around Royce’s arm and hauled him upward. “Mind if we avail ourselves to one of your private rooms, Emerson?” he requested before dragging a protesting, loud-mouthed man towards the rear of the building.
“Oh-oh, told ya,” Ned side-whispered to Liam. “Looks like Royce just might get his wish after all. Wonder if he’ll think it all he hopes it’s cracked up to be?”
Liam was saved from commenting when Harvey and Gordon put in an appearance. Harvey looked a little less formidable and Gordon certainly appeared relaxed, although slightly red-eyed. Harvey saw Gordon out, then returned and ordered a shot of whiskey which he downed in one go. Laying a wad of bills on the bar, he waved a greeting to Emerson and Flynn, and left.
Turning to Liam, Ned couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the younger man’s expression of bewilderment.
“Your first evening shift is becoming quite the eye-opener, isn’t it, kid?” He laughed even louder at the blank stare directed at him. “Don’t worry; a few more of these shifts and you’ll have it all worked out. Won’t he, Flynn?” Ned asked of his Dom who had just joined them.
“I’m sure he will,” the older man smiled his reassurance.
“I do believe my Master’s in need of more refreshment.” Liam poured a drink of the best brandy into a snifter and made his escape. He still found Flynn’s presence a bit intimidating.
Flynn chuckled and shook his head.
“You come over to check on me, Flynn?”
“Did I need to?”
“No, but I wouldn’t mind if you did.” These were definitely two men who enjoyed being together and it showed.
Meanwhile, Nelson and Royce were in a somewhat more serious confab of their own.
“It would appear from your many insinuations of late, Royce, that you want something from me but are unable to just forthrightly ask for it. Now I may be going out on a limb here, but I damn well think it’s high time you answered for your deplorable conduct.”
With that, Nelson yanked down his sub’s slacks and boxers. One skillful heave and he had Royce face down over his thighs. Tightening one arm around the slender waist to hold the younger man in place, Nelson began walloping the unprotected bottom. Keeping up a steady pace, he gradually turned it a deep shade of red.
Royce was far from silent once he got over the initial shock of finding himself in this position. The swats were increasingly painful and the heat was fast becoming unbearable. His squirming, kicking and hollering got him nowhere except for a slight pause while a heavy leg was placed across his legs to curtail his movements.
He was a gasping, snotty mess by the time he regained his footing and stood staring down at the man who had just spanked him in earnest, instead of the usually playful prelude to sex. It suddenly hit him that this was indeed what he’d been asking for. Nelson was far more perceptive than he'd given him credit for and he vowed never to make that mistake again.
Nelson gently pulled his sobbing partner into his arms and murmured soothing words of forgiveness and understanding while rhythmically rubbing Royce’s back.
Once Royce had settled down enough to carrying on a conversation, Nelson coerced him into cuddling on his lap.
“This is the first and last time you top from the bottom, my boy. In the future if you want something, you dang well better come right out and ask for it.” Nelson’s declaration was not just unyielding, it was threatening. “You got that, boy?”
“Yes Sir, I understand,” Royce respectfully responded, hanging his head, unsure of where they now stood. “Hmm, are we still okay? I mean, can we have a…..you know?”
“Say what it is, Royce. Just spit it out.”
Royce took a deep breath to fortify himself and then plunged ahead. “Okay then. Can we have a discipline relationship? Are you okay with being my Top?”
“Yes to all three questions. Happy now?”
“Oh yeah.” Royce was surprised by the giggle that escaped him. Giggling wasn’t something he normally did. “Guess it proved easier to ask than I thought it would,” he mused more to himself than to the man who was holding him. “I should have just listened to the kid in the first place,” he muttered with some self-reproach.
“Never too late for taking up a good idea,” Nelson automatically pointed out as he got to his feet and set Royce on his. “You’ve got some apologies to make, Brat.”
Back in the club, Liam was in one of his favourite places; kneeling on the floor and leaning against his Master’s knee. A large hand was gently carding through his thick curly hair as strong fingers periodically massaged his scalp. He had his eyes closed and was zoning out when he heard the inquiry.
“How did your first evening shift go, Slave?”
Liam gave it some thought before responding. “Even though I was nervous about it, I think I did okay. I mean it wasn’t as frightening as I had imagined it would be.”
“You do understand my reason for having you here, right?” It was a rhetorical question but still garnered a nod. “This is my business, my pet. It’s a big part of my life and I want you to be part of it. No fear, it will never be as a participant, but merely as a fellow observer. I want you to learn that our relationship is different to some and similar to others; with its own uniqueness perhaps but not totally original. We deserve to be proud of it and can both be comfortable with who we are as individuals and what we have together. Does that work for you?”
“Yes, Master, it does. I know I have a lot to learn about the various lifestyles, habits and taste of others, but at the moment I’m content with who and where I am.” Liam smiled sleepily and added, “Ned calls them diversities and likens them to spices.”
“Of course he does,” Emerson chuckled. He glanced up as Nelson and Royce stopped by on their way out.
“Royce has something to say, Em. Then I better be getting this rascal home.”
The younger man shuffled from one foot to the other. A warning hand on his still sore backside egged him on. “Sorry for the way I acted earlier. It was disrespectful and won’t happen again.”
“Oh, I’m sure it won’t,” Emerson assured the subdued man while winking at the older one. “Be seeing you, Nelson. Have a good evening.”
“You too,” Nelson replied as he guided his partner over to the bar where a brief chat took place between them and Flynn. Ned just stood by with a big grin plastered on his face.
“Guess Royce got what he was looking for,” Liam quietly commented. “He’s sure seems a lot happier. Well maybe a little uncomfortable, but in a much better mood than when they arrived earlier.”
“I imagine he is,” Emerson agreed, fully aware of his young slave still trying to come to grips with all he’d witnessed this evening. In the past, Liam had worked hard at ignoring the goings-on in the club. He could no longer do that.
‘All in good time,’ Emerson thought as he lovingly caressed his slave’s handsome face. “Let’s call it a night, my pet. It’s been a long day. There’s a warm bed waiting for us upstairs and we badly need some one-on-one time.”