“Is Landon going on a date or helping someone move? I can’t tell if he looks chic or homeless. The tattoos make it go either way.” My mother meant well, she really did, but she wasn’t exactly helping my confidence any.
“Shh, he’s going to hear you. Be nice.” Laura shouldn’t have wasted her breath. Nice had never been my mother’s default setting.
“I’m being honest, not mean.” That had been my mother’s mantra so long she believed it.
I heard her moving around the kitchen. “Where did he say he was taking his date? Do you even know her name? He’s being stubborn and won’t tell me.”
Because she was somewhere between a bulldozer and an unhinged moose.
Walking louder up the basement stairs, I called out so they could stop the painful discussion. “All fixed.”
I’d gotten most of the wiring updated, but she needed to stop running a thousand different appliances at the same time until I got the rest done. But since we’d had the same conversation three times in the last month, I didn’t waste my breath.
I was smarter than Laura.
“I’ll be back on Sunday to work on it more.” Because, fingers crossed, I was hopefully going to be spending Saturday morning lounging around in bed with someone wonderful.
I just wished I knew what Mr. Wonderful might look like—because contrary to what my mother assumed, for the first time I was going out to hopefully meet a guy.
That was really the only thing I knew. I wanted an older guy with his shit together. My mother didn’t try to hide her wince as she looked me over. “You’re going home to change before your date, right?”
“I love you, Mom.” That was all I had to say to that.
Turning to Laura, I rolled my eyes. “Walk me out?”
She laughed, nodding. “Don’t worry, big brother. I’ll save you from another interrogation.” Taking my arm, she ushered me toward the back door as Mom griped about the definition of the word interrogation.
When we were free of the house, and we finally had privacy, she poked my arm. “Ignore her. You look fabulous.”
I wasn’t so sure about that, but the strategically placed holes in the pants definitely highlighted my tattoos, and if I’d been looking for a woman, I’d have felt pretty self-assured.
Shrugging, I did my best to project a confidence I didn’t feel. “I know.”
Laura laughed, her response saying she believed my bullshit. “Okay, I’m not here to boost your ego.”
As we got to the car, she looked around before focusing back on me. Squeezing my arm, she straightened and smiled.
Yeah, she wasn’t overly confident about my night either.
“Remember, you are going there to explore and have fun. They don’t expect you to know what you’re doing or what you want. Have fun and see what feels right.” She was more excited about this than I was.
“I’ll be happy as long as I don’t look like an idiot.” And since I was going there having no idea what I was doing or what I wanted, that was a tall order.
She scoffed. “I’m sure people go all the time when they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.”
She said it with such certainty I wanted to believe her, but I was pretty sure most people going to a BDSM club at least knew if they were a Dom or a sub.
Shrugging, I tried not to look worried as I gave her a relaxed, fuck ’em all smile. “At the very least, it’s something to cross off my bucket list.”
She laughed as she stepped away toward the house. “I’m pretty sure most people don’t have ‘visit a BDSM club’ on their bucket list, but they probably should.”
Pointing toward the car, she stood straighter. “Now shoo, I’ll keep her away from anything electrical for at least the next twelve hours.”
I rolled my eyes. “Good luck with that.”
Getting in the car as she laughed, I headed toward the interstate. The club was a bit of a drive, but with my nerves and all the caffeine I’d consumed, I could use the time to relax.
I still wasn’t sure I was making the right decision, but I kept driving, so part of me must’ve thought it was at least an interesting plan.
Yeah, interesting was probably a good word for it.
“I’m going to a BDSM club when I don’t really know if I’m into it. I don’t know if I’m a Dom or a sub. And even better, I’m looking for a man, possibly a male Dom, when I’ve never even dated a guy.”
I’d lost my fucking mind.
At least I could say it hadn’t been my idea.
Women were so fucking bossy.
If it actually worked out, Laura and Nat were never going to let me forget it.
By the time I’d parked near the nondescript warehouse-looking building, I still hadn’t decided what I was doing. The only thing I knew was that something had to change, and this was the only thing that felt right.
But what did that say about me?
The walk to the door didn’t give me nearly enough time to figure that out either. But it was enough time to look awkward and stressed.
Even the quiet but well-built man at the door gave me a concerned look before checking my name and pointing me toward the locker rooms.
I’d found an entirely new reason to be stressed by the time I left the small private area.
I still maintained that I looked good in the jeans. The problem was that the people I immediately noticed as subs were all wearing far less clothing than I was, and none of the men who seemed to be the Doms had their nipples pierced and mine were now clearly showing through the thin t-shirt I was wearing.
Why did sub mean I had to run around like I’d forgotten most of my clothes?
I didn’t want people to automatically assume that I was a Dom, because that wasn’t what I was hoping to explore. But I wasn’t going to run around with my ass hanging out either.
I couldn’t decide whether to take off the thin shirt or to go back into the locker room and put back on the oversized black shirt I’d worn over to my mother’s. Neither sounded like a good idea, but at least the other shirt was thick and would hide the nipple piercings.
So far my mother hadn’t noticed them yet, but if my tattoos hadn’t gone over well, then the barbells in my nipples would go over like a lead balloon.
Before I could decide what to do, a very perky, nearly naked man skipped over to me, beaming. “Landon?”
Nodding, I took a guess. “Conner?”
The mostly unclothed man smiled even wider and all his wiggling was making it hard to ignore the obvious cock cage under his small, nearly sheer black…shorts? Panties? Briefs?
I really wasn’t cut out for this.
I wasn’t sure what to call them, but they were…distracting, and my fight to maintain eye contact only seemed to make him more amused.
“If you weren’t supposed to notice me, I’d wear more clothes.” His grin broadened as I tried to hide my discomfort. “Just don’t leer. Be polite.”
When I nodded, he continued like we hadn’t just been discussing his lack of clothing or his apparent desire for attention. “Let’s go sit down first. Would you like something to drink? Non-alcoholic would be best for tonight.”
I’d read the rules about playing and alcohol, so I nodded and followed him to the bar. “Water?”
I wasn’t sure my stomach was up for anything stronger, even if the place looked like a cross between a bar and a fancy old library.
I hadn’t figured out what to say by the time we got our bottles of water and sat down, but with Conner around, that didn’t seem to be a problem. “So judging by the number of Doms and subs around here that are checking you out, they can’t tell if you’re a Dom or a sub either.”
I had no idea how to respond to that, so I gave a vague shrug that usually made most people happy.
He wasn’t most people.
“This conversation and tour will go much faster if you actually talk to me.” The words were sharp, but the tone was sweet, sending mixed signals.
“I realize that.” Our talk had been part of the deal to let me join, not that I’d argued against it. I’d actually hoped it would help.
The owners hadn’t really liked how little I’d said about myself on the application, but I wasn’t about to make up shit just to fill in the blanks.
Conner grinned, and it took me a moment to realize that might not have been enough. I took a sip of my water to give myself a moment to think, but it didn’t help. “I’m not always a sparkling conversationalist. Sorry.”
I’d spent more time working in high school than hanging out, so Laura said I was missing people skills.
Conner waved off my apology. “It’s okay. We’ll aim for less small talk and more blunt questions. That work for you?”
Nodding, I felt relieved. “Yes.”
As long as it felt more like a job interview and less like a date, I’d be fine. I was great at getting jobs—dates, not so much.
Conner nodded and straightened as he took a sip of his water, somehow making it feel like an interview where my prospective boss was nearly naked.
Which, oddly enough, would not be the weirdest interview I’d had.
“So on your initial application, you indicated no preference for Dominant or submissive. Has that changed?” Conner took a drink of his water like it was just an everyday conversation for him.
I shook my head, feeling more at ease with the straightforward question. “I don’t know, but I don’t think so.”
In another situation I’d have felt weird talking about it, but he was basically naked in a cock cage, so he didn’t seem like the type to judge. “My ex-girlfriend and I played around with my dominating her, and while that was good, it was always like something was missing.”
“Something like her gender or something else?” Before I could answer the question, he continued. “I’m trying to figure out how to steer our tour because you’re really blank sexually.”
He winced and charged in again. “That didn’t sound right. I meant more like you don’t flirt, even unconsciously, and I couldn’t tell if you reacted to anyone.”
Conner grinned. “Even me.”
That made me grin faintly as I shrugged. “You’re attractive?”
The fact that it came out as a question probably contributed to his laughter, but he seemed to understand it was a compliment. “Thanks.”
Then he gestured around the room with the bottle in his hand. “But usually even confused people have gut reactions that make it easy to decide that they belong here and what they need.”
I got another long look from him as I drank, stalling again, and he continued. “You’re sexy and I bet you’ve got a killer grin when you let it out, but you’re not letting anything escape.”
Shrugging would not help, so I took a breath and tried to picture dominating Natalie. We were just friends now, so it felt a little weird, but she was my only frame of reference. In my mind, I saw her tied to the bed, and I did my best to let my face show how it’d made me feel.
Conner slumped back and fanned himself. “Yes, fuck, that was hot.”
Straightening, his grin came back. “But that was thinking about domming your ex?”
When I nodded, he searched my face again. “You clearly liked dominating her, so why not look for another female sub or even a male sub if you’re curious?”
That was a damned good question.
“I don’t know. I’ve always thought about men too, and it feels like something is missing beyond gender.” Dating another woman without having tried to figure myself out felt a bit disingenuous. “I’ve had a lot going on for a while, family stuff, and this the first time there hasn’t been a fire to put out.”
“So now it’s time to focus on you? I get that.” Conner looked around the room again. “Okay, you said man, not guy or boy, so what were you imagining?”
Which probably weren’t the right answers.
“Older than me. Laid back. I want him to know what he’s doing, but I don’t want him to feel like a Dom in a porn movie.”
Conner giggled but seemed pleased with the answer. “That’s good. Daddy or more traditional Dom?”
When I just stared, he chuckled. “We’ll try more traditional for now.”
Since I wasn’t sure what he meant by Daddy, that was probably best. “Okay.”
“Ideally, if you were to explore submitting, would you like to meet someone casual just to show you the ropes or someone who would be open to something more serious?”
Before I answered, I had a question of my own. “This doesn’t feel like a quick ‘let me make sure you know the rules and won’t get into trouble’ kind of conversation. Is this just for me?”
He gave me a skeptical look and a roundabout answer. “If I let you go figure this out for yourself, you’ll never get things sorted out.”
Conner was probably right, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to admit it.
Thankfully, he continued without my needing to comment. “The right Doms will think you’re another Dom, and the subs won’t know if they should talk to you or not. You give off conflicting signals, at best. This is going to be easier for everyone. Trust me.”
He circled back to his previous question. “Serious or just exploring?”
I swallowed, trying to sound more confident and less needy. “Serious. I don’t like casual.”
Because I’d never done it, and starting now seemed like a bad idea. I’d do casual when there didn’t seem to be so much at stake.
Conner nodded like he thought that was a good answer. “Now what is your preference, a guy in leather or a guy in a suit?”
That was easy. “Suit.”
Most of the decked-out guys in porn hadn’t done it for me, but last summer I’d worked construction right next to a financial company of some sort and the suits had always caught my attention. “But most of those guys don’t notice me. It’s the tattoos, I think.”
Conner snorted. “Oh, I can guarantee they noticed you, but you probably didn’t flirt at all.”
I shrugged, not willing to agree with him just yet.
“But if you’re a sub with guys, you were probably needing them to come up to you.” He said it so matter-of-factly it almost sounded reasonable.
“You don’t think that’s…” I didn’t have a word that sounded right, but Conner seemed to get it.
“No. Humans are fascinating creatures. We don’t always belong in the neat little boxes we carve out for ourselves. I know Dom pups, asexual littles, and everything in between.”
It probably shouldn’t have me feel better, but it did. “Okay.”
Conner’s smile warmed. “Alright, so we’re looking for a laid-back Dom who’s not too young and who’s open to something serious if you click.”
When I nodded, his expression shifted, and he looked very pleased with himself. “Alright, do you want a guy who will give you a lot of space or one who’ll want to watch over you quite a bit?”
I was back to not knowing how to answer. “Um, I don’t want stalker level, but I want to feel like I matter. Is there an in-between?”
My answer seemed to have Conner trying not to laugh. “I didn’t mean stalker, but more like a Dom who’s always on and takes control or one who can turn it off a bit easier.”
I tried to imagine how it would feel with the nameless, faceless Dom I might meet. “I don’t think always on would be easy to deal with, but maybe if it was with the right person?”
Conner seemed to understand what I was getting at. “Yeah, sometimes what we think we want changes with the right person.”
“Yes.” I just wasn’t sure what that looked like.
“Alright, no lifestyle Doms to begin with. Now I think I know a Dom who might be a really good fit for you, but if there are no sparks, I’ll introduce you to a few other guys.” It couldn’t be that easy.
Nothing in my life had ever been that easy.
I must have relaxed enough to let my skepticism show because Conner laughed. “At least you’re not blank anymore.”
Standing, he finished his water and smiled, looked determined. But I was back to remembering the nearly naked part and scrambled to grab my water to distract myself. However, the damned thing was somehow empty.
Conner ignored my odd behavior and took my arm, pulling me to stand like he was my new best friend. “Let’s go find you a Dom.”
And once again I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into.
Keeping a roof over his family’s heads has been Landon’s only goal for years. Hard work and multiple jobs kept them afloat, but it didn’t leave much time for self-reflection or a social life. Now that their finances are secure and he can finally have a life of his own, he’s left wondering one thing…now what?
The solemn young man with the tattoos and temptingly placed jewelry might not know what he wants, or even if he’s a sub, but something about him pulls at Porter.
With his world in limbo after the sale of his business, Porter isn’t sure what to do next. For years, building his company was the only thing on his mind, but now, when all he has left is an empty life and too much time on his hands, Porter is left wondering one thing…now what?
When two men come to a crossroads, they’ll have to come together to finally discover what they were really meant to find in life…love.
Story Contains: M/m romantic content, BDSM elements, and two short scenes of watersport elements that can easily be skipped…unless you’re really curious and kind of naughty like Landon.
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