Bashful Chapter 1

Chapter 1
Gideon

“They know about the club. Wait. That might make him think that I know about the club. But there might not even be a club. Well, there might be a club, but Austin might not be involved in it.” Just saying that stopped my rambling in my tracks.

If there was anyone in town who was involved in a BDSM club, it was Austin Johnson.

“Okay then, new angle.” There had to be a good way to tell Austin about what I’d heard without making it sound like I was throwing around allegations.

“I’ll—” Scream like the first omega killed in a horror movie, obviously.

My scream as Austin’s face popped up in the side window of my car sent him into a fit of giggles. Rolling my eyes, I turned off the car and opened the door. A few months ago I would have been horrified and probably would’ve tried to hide under the steering wheel, but now I just blushed.

I was starting to get used to the frighteningly rich, insane omega who had absolutely no sense of boundaries.

It was scary.

“What are you doing?” Austin’s giggles finally subsided, and he was now bouncing around my car, peeking in the windows. He always had so much energy it was like he had an overcharged battery inside him. “Who were you talking to?”

“Myself.” I thought it should’ve been obvious.

He grinned and batted his eyelashes at me. “You’re very passionate with yourself.”

His teasing smirk and flirty tone made me blush even more. I could feel the words getting further away from my lips even though I knew he flirted with everyone and it didn’t matter. But somehow, my brain never got that message.

And Silas didn’t help.

“Trouble, don’t play with him where the photographers might see.” Silas’s growled-out order in his booming voice made Austin’s grin get even more wicked.

“He’s so sweet when he worries.” That wasn’t how I would’ve described their interaction, but whatever made him happy.

But even if they were strange, that didn’t make them wrong.

However, looking around, I didn’t see any photographers, and neither did Austin because he waved a hand dismissively. “They finally got bored. It’s fine.”

I wasn’t the world’s best cop, but even I’d looked around to see who was near the shop when I’d first pulled up…it’d just taken me a while to get out of the car. “I know.”

I’d have driven in the opposite direction if I’d seen paparazzi outside the adult toy store Austin and his alpha boyfriend owned.

Why the most famous omega in the country had even thought about dating the owner of a sex toy store, I didn’t know, but I wasn’t going to ask. They were both too scary to poke at…just in different ways.

“Come on.” Austin barely let me close the car door before he pulled me toward the building. “You shouldn’t torture me by making me wait. I don’t appreciate that kind of edging.”
Yeah, there was no way he didn’t at least know about the club.

As he dragged me into the store, I didn’t worry about locking my car; it wasn’t worth stealing and the locals were scared enough of Austin that I’d never worried about it before. Even when I’d been tripping over my tongue trying to thank him for not getting me fired and apologize for how I’d kind of been involved with driving Silas crazy, I hadn’t been concerned about the old beater.

Now, my sanity around Austin…well, I’d worried about that a lot.

As Austin dragged me past Silas and toward the back of the building in the rundown neighborhood, I tried to smile and look confident.

It didn’t work.

It just wasn’t my default state, no matter how I tried to convince my mind otherwise. But Silas just gave me a nod and took a step back, unconsciously giving me space like he would’ve if I were an omega.

Other alphas did that a lot around me.

I’d given up trying to decide if I was offended or not by the way most alphas treated me. Being submissive and a physically imperfect alpha made things interesting when it came to dealing with everyone from dates to random shoppers at the grocery store. But the uniform distracted most people when I was at work. Cops were supposed to look confident and take-charge, so that’s what most people saw.

Well, most people except disturbingly smart ones like Austin and Silas.

Maybe that was why they were perfect for each other. Besides being scary, they were both weirdly smart.

My reprieve from his interrogation was short-lived as Austin dragged me behind the curtain at the back of the store and onto the somewhat private landing area he’d turned into a tiny makeshift living room. Well, living room as long as the cushion-clad stairs that led to their apartment upstairs counted as a couch.

Plopping me down on the couch somewhat forcefully, he gave me his deceptively sweet smile. “So, what are you worried about?”

Since he’d caught me talking to myself, there was no denying that something was on my mind, but getting the information out was another matter altogether.

Since my only options were ramble or stammer awkwardly, my brain picked ramble.

“Please don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t mean to imply anything negative, even though I don’t consider it to be bad. And I don’t mean to assume you have any knowledge of it, bad or not, but I couldn’t think of anyone else who would know what to do. Not that I’m implying anything.” When I finally came to a stop, Austin was looking at me like I’d done something curious.

But since that was better than the way he usually watched me, like he was imagining doing wicked things to me, I thought it was an improvement.

“You know, I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard you say.” As he cocked his head, I shrugged.

“You scare me.” And he fascinated me—but I wasn’t going to say that part out loud.

Austin beamed and clasped his hands together in front of his chest. “You’re so sweet.”

Why were the smartest people always a little off?

“Thank you?” I wasn’t sure what else to say.

“Now.” Austin pulled a chair over from a tiny bistro table and sat down daintily. “I promise I won’t be offended, no matter if I know anything or not. But now that I’ve promised, you have to tell me what the problem is.”

Hadn’t I already done that?

Maybe not.

That was probably because I still hadn’t decided how to say it.

Trying again, I took a deep breath and tried to think of it as a report at work. “I overheard two men talking earlier. Not cops. I was handling some paperwork.”

Walking through it one step at a time was awkward, but at least I was getting it out.

Austin nodded, remarkably patient as I kept going. “I didn’t get all of the conversation. They thought they were alone, but they were talking about finally getting in and then something about shaking things up and a club, and, well, it sounded…sexual.”

When Austin just stared, I squirmed and continued. “They said something about not wanting everyone to know about it, then something about a bust. I think. I didn’t catch the last few words.”
I swallowed and tried to sit still. “I don’t know what they were talking about, but it seemed…adult in a very grown-up way.”

Hadn’t I already said that?

I looked over at the curtain that separated us from the rows of sex toys that filled the small shop. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t sign up to police someone’s bedroom, but if they’re going to do something negative to someone else who might’ve happened to be in a place like this…”

He was still too quiet, and I couldn’t decide if he was getting it or not. “Austin, they said something about…something about whips and a collar.”

I might not know much, but I’d figured out a few things after seeing inside Austin’s store for the first time. If anyone could decipher the insane conversation I’d overheard, it was Austin.
His eyes finally widened, but then he smiled. “Oh, you were over at the courthouse, weren’t you?”

Obviously, he was scary and psychic.

Nodding, I watched as he gave an excited wiggle, but just as soon as the pleasure hit him, he turned serious and leaned forward to take my hands in his. “I can’t tell you everything without breaking confidences, but I can tell you that they aren’t involved in something illegal. I promise.”

I probably shouldn’t have believed him, but relief surged through me. “Just private? But they’re not going to do anything to someone?”

Word had come directly from the top that we were the legal police, not the moral one, but after everything that had happened, I wasn’t sure what I was anymore.

“Why did you come to me?” Austin’s question was a good one, but my answer was probably silly.

“You know everyone and about everything.” I glanced over at the curtain again. “I figured since it was about—you know—then you would know what to do.”

That didn’t seem to have been the wrong response, but since I was a cop, that logic was probably questionable.

But I’d never signed up to poke my nose into people’s bedrooms.

Being a big-city cop was supposed to be about helping more people, or at the very least giving traffic tickets. But so far in the nine months that I’d been there, I hadn’t gotten to help very many people.

I’d just driven them nuts and followed stupid orders.

I was starting to question what my family saw in this profession. It hadn’t been easy working for my father back home, but at least with him being sheriff I hadn’t been expected to drive people crazy just to shame them into making different choices.

Shrugging, I tried one last time to explain what had been going through my head. “You know everyone and I wasn’t sure asking my boss about…sexual things was a good idea.”

Austin barked out a laugh. “Yeah, not your boss, you’re right.”

Then he paused and looked more serious. “But his boss, Adam, you can talk to privately about anything legal. I wouldn’t push him with something illegal, but just weird or freaky is fine.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know how to respond to that. The man in question looked a bit like my grandfather and always barked out orders like people were idiots. “That’s good to know.”

Austin giggled and shrugged. “Public impressions don’t always match private lives.”

That seemed to be all he was going to say on the subject, and I was grateful. Picturing that gruff cop as anything else might melt my brain. To save my sanity, I went back to the original conversation—not that it was any easier.

“But I shouldn’t worry? The guys aren’t…” I wasn’t sure what I was trying to ask, but I just wanted to make sure I’d made the right decision.

Why that person had to be Austin, I didn’t know, but it’d just felt right.

Austin shook his head. “Nothing illegal and they won’t hurt anyone.”

Then he gave me a wicked grin. “Well, not unless they want it.”

Picturing what he might mean, I blushed.

That just had Austin giggling again. As he relaxed, sitting back in his chair, he sighed. “You’re so cute that you make me wish I was a bit more…take-charge.”

I tried not to gawk as he talked around being submissive, but I couldn’t help it. I’d never met anyone in real life that said the things he did. My response, however it looked, made him grin again. When he reached out and ruffled my hair like I was a cute kid, my cheeks got so red they actually ached.

Austin loved it. “You’re so cute.”

Not really what a cop should want to hear, but it made me hard, and I had to fight to sit still. I’d long since learned that no one would ever notice through my clothes if I got hard, but squirming would be another matter altogether.

Besides, I was pretty sure Austin was a mind reader.

He sighed and looked at me like I was some kind of cute puppy. His smile made me nervous as he looked out through the curtain and called out in an almost singsong voice. “Master?”

“No, Trouble, you can’t keep him. Cops don’t make good pets. There would be too many questions.” Silas’s firm answer didn’t make me feel any better.

Austin huffed. “He’s no fun sometimes.”

Was there a reasonable response to that?

“People would talk if I came around too much.” When Austin nodded in agreement, I knew I was safe from whatever was in his head.

But I knew I wasn’t completely safe when he clapped his hands together. “Then we shall have to find the right person for you.”

Oh dear.

This was clearly what they’d meant when people said out of the frying pan and into the fire.

“I’m dating.” Kind of. I’d bought a cup of coffee for a beta last week. He might have been homeless, but he’d smiled and it’d gone fairly well. That might count. “And really busy.” Not a lie either. “So don’t worry.”

But his expression said I was losing the battle, and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.

I scrambled to think of anything that could help. Finally, I reached desperation level and called out. “Silas, he’s trying to make me a project.”

Austin shot me a dirty look, but Silas wasn’t much help.

“It won’t kill you.”

Great.

“But he’s very busy. I’m probably high-maintenance.”

Maybe.

Silas just laughed.

Austin beamed and ruffled my hair again. “This is going to be fun.”

We clearly had different definitions for that word.

I was at a complete loss of how to get out of the conversation, and he took that hesitation as permission to charge right in. “Now I shouldn’t assume, but you seem like the type of guy who’s not looking for a female omega.”

Oh dear.

Okay, that wasn’t too difficult to answer.

A lot of alphas liked males.

“No.” I couldn’t decide what else to say, so I tried to keep it simple. “I’m drawn to other males.”

Considering how often he pointed out dildos and things like that, he wouldn’t have believed another answer either.

“Great. Now we have a direction.” He was entirely too excited about finding me a date…or something like that.

“I’m really not—” He charged right over me, taking my hands.

“So there is no right or wrong way to answer this, and nothing you say will shock me, but are you looking for a more traditional omega or something else?”

Oh dear.

I was never going to complain about work again.

Relief flooded through me as my phone rang with the ringtone for work.

Popping up, I almost knocked Austin over as I scrambled to escape. Digging my phone out of my pocket, I waved it at him as I hurried through the curtain. “Work. I have to go. Bye.”

Silas was trying not to laugh as I ran out the door with Austin cursing behind me. “Fuck it all. I wasn’t done yet. What’s your opinion on toys?”

Hell, what kind of toys?

I was smart enough to just keep going.

I’d escaped.

I didn’t care what he was curious about or even attempt to answer any more questions. I also didn’t care if it was about mandatory overtime or a wrong pay stub, whoever it was would get my undying gratitude.

Bashful by MA Innes - Gay Romance Ebook CoverSynopsis:
Cutie the Cop has a problem…and it’s not just the nickname his famous and slightly offbeat new friend Austin has given him.

Gideon, aka Cutie the Cop, knows there’s more to life than just going from work to home, but he can’t get past the fears that are holding him back. As a cop with secrets, he knows he can’t share who he is or what he wants with just anyone. But when Austin drags him to a private BDSM club for the first time, he finally has a decision to make…continue to hide or take a chance on falling in love.

Knowing his fated mate is out there somewhere isn’t much consolation for an alpha Daddy who’s never been what most omegas are looking for. However, when a shy submissive is thrust into Jarrett’s arms during an altercation at the club, he knows things have finally turned around…but only if he can convince the small, bashful alpha that he’s worthy of his trust.

Sometimes secrets can drive people apart, but sometimes sharing those secrets is what can bring them together.

Story Contains: M/m romantic content, BDSM elements, age play with ABDL, and non-shifter alpha/alpha dynamics in an alpha/omega world.

Love & Secrets is a spin-off series from my Romance & Revolutions (alphas and omegas) series under the Shaw Montgomery side of my writing. The best way to enjoy the new series is to read them after reading the Romance & Revolutions books.

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