“I’m not sure this is what Dad meant when he said to split up the chores.” God. Two geniuses should never be allowed to procreate.
To say his parenting methods were questionable would’ve been an understatement because no matter what Dad thought, gambling was not an interesting development in human culture.
It was just fucking gambling.
TC shrugged, smirking from where he was leaning back against the couch, arms stretched out like he was posing for some kind of modeling shoot. “He’s the one who gave me the dice, so I call bullshit.”
I wasn’t sure which parent had given him the gene that required him to always pose and look sexy, but it was fucking distracting.
“Fine.” Picking up the thousand-sided die that seemed to come from a board game or some kind of role-playing game, I tried to decide how we should work it as I rolled it around in my hand. “Okay, twenty sides, so eleven or more you do dinner and dishes. Ten or less and it’s my turn.”
That seemed fair, but I still wanted to think it through completely.
“Just for tonight, though.” Fine print would be the death of me one day. “We are only talking about one meal.”
I knew I was forgetting something. But with school and studying, it’d been a long day, so I gave up trying to second-guess how his mind would work.
The fucker was sneaky when he got that look in his eyes.
When he was eight and I was ten, I’d ended up making his bed for a month because of how he’d worded a stupid bet. TC had been trying to claim that it had to go on forever but, thankfully, my mother stepped in, pointing out how long forever could really be.
To say I’d been raised by aliens would’ve been an understatement.
It was probably why I was majoring in psychology.
TC narrowed his gaze at me. “And no picking something you think I’d hate just because you make dinner. That’s not fair.”
Making sure bets or gambles of any kind weren’t done to punish the winner or loser was also something my parents had enforced. They’d given each of us an out word that meant everything had to stop until a grown-up could evaluate the situation.
It’d taken me years to realize my parents had given us safewords.
“Deal, and the same goes for you.” I’d already planned on making dinner, so there was chicken ready to go into the oven. It’d take about five minutes to finish getting ready and we could eat on it for at least two meals.
As long as I made potatoes with it, he never complained.
Rolling the it on the coffee table, I was surprised to see it stop at thirteen. The chicken would keep, but now I had to wonder about what he was going to make. With TC, life was always a surprise. He might pick something I loved just to be nice or he might make something we both hated just to get around the rules.
Precedence had established that if we both hated it, then it got around the punishing the other person rule.
As a smirk peeked out, there was something in his eyes that looked positively wicked. He tried to play it off and sighed as he rose, but I knew when he was up to something.
I could just never manage to guess what it was. I might’ve been technically older, but his brain seemed to work faster when it came to devious shit, and he was always up to something. “Alright, I’ll go finish up some work.”
But if he was working in the kitchen tonight, I should probably offer to do something nice. Well, that probably wasn’t the point of rolling the dice to see who made dinner, but that hadn’t been my idea.
I hated this.
I was just not cut out for second-guessing what he wanted or why he would do something.
I liked rules and order, but that was something the rest of the family couldn’t seem to grasp.
“Um, I’m going to throw in a load of laundry first. Do you have much that needs to be washed? I could throw it in with my stuff.” We’d been doing our own laundry for years, but it wasn’t hard to do both.
He nodded, the wicked look finally fading from his eyes. “That would be great, man. Thanks.”
Maybe he wasn’t up to something?
“Alright.” Heading upstairs, I couldn’t help glancing down the hall toward our parents’ empty bedroom. When they’d said they were going to start traveling once we were both in college, I’d thought they’d meant short trips, not six months traveling to ancient sites in Europe.
Stepping into TC’s room, I grabbed his half-full laundry basket and then went to get mine before heading back downstairs. While it was nice having our bedrooms upstairs on our own, the downside was the laundry was at the other end of the house.
Tossing in TC’s clothes was easy, but it took a bit longer to separate mine, giving me time to obsess over the sounds coming from the kitchen. It definitely wasn’t good for my mental health, so I pushed my worries back and focused on sorting the laundry right.
I was grateful that my parents hadn’t thought anything about supporting my love of pretty things, but some fabrics just didn’t do well unless they went in the gentle cycle. I’d ruined several nightgowns that way until my mother had pointed out the sad fact that women’s clothing was not made as sturdy as men’s.
Pure bullshit just to get people who wore women’s clothing to spend more, but there was nothing I could do about it unless I decided to change career plans and go into fashion merchandizing. But considering how much I liked my psychology classes, I wasn’t planning on making any drastic deviations to my life at the moment.
When the first load was going and I’d managed to ignore the crash and cursing that had echoed through the house, I took TC’s basket back upstairs and started going through my to-do list. Laundry. Dinner. I was able to check a few other things off the list as the scent of something rich started filling the house.
Had there been leftover lasagna in the freezer?
I couldn’t remember the last time I made it, so that was doubtful, but it made me wonder. If he was making something good, was he trying to butter me up to talk me into something ridiculous? Had he just felt like Italian?
Did him putting that much effort into dinner mean that I needed to change my plans for tomorrow?
Life should not be this difficult.
When TC’s voice came ringing through the house, I couldn’t decide if I was relieved or was just getting more worked up. “Dinner.”
I had to admit, I didn’t really miss my parents terribly. They were busy even when they were home, but I’d have given anything in that moment for them to walk through the door.
I’d spent the last two years of college with everything the same and now they had to change it up just because TC was now a freshman.
Heading downstairs, I didn’t think I looked too worked up, but TC rolled his eyes when I came into the kitchen. “Making an entrance? I called you three times.”
I couldn’t tell if he was fucking with me or not, so I ignored it and headed over to the fridge to get a soda. “What did you decide to make?”
The pan on the stove had the lid on it and the other dishes were in the sink already. There weren’t enough clues, and I wasn’t going to start randomly guessing things, so I tried to act bored…or like him when he was in a mood.
“I slave over your favorite meal to be nice and you just—”
As the ultimate drama queen, he would’ve gone on forever, so I jumped in. “You made alfredo?”
I loved every kind to the point where it was probably ridiculous.
“From a jar?” I wasn’t terribly picky, but he wasn’t going to get away with the slave comment if he’d just opened a jar.
He snorted. “Peasant.”
That was probably a no, so I walked away from the fridge and lifted the lid off the pot. “We had shrimp?”
Did we have shrimp?
I mean, we did now, but when…
Had he gone to buy some earlier?
What did he want?
What had he done?
“Thanks, this looks good.” I managed not to sound stupid, but he was giving me a look that said I was missing the point or he was waiting to spring something on me. “Oh, and your clothes are in the washer. I’ll move them around after dinner.”
Might as well remind him that I’d been helpful so he couldn’t get away with fucking with me.
“Thanks, but since you put them in, I’ll move them to the dryer.” If he was going to say something else, the words never materialized, and after a few seconds he just started getting dinner on the table.
But if I asked about it, then I’d look strange.
It was a never-ending cycle of maybe reading him right and maybe not. If I could’ve ignored him, life would’ve been easier, but he was always right there, and I’d always been almost hyperaware of him.
Trying to fill the silence that felt awkward, I grasped at something innocuous to say. “How were your classes?”
I knew Fridays for him were easy, but I was hoping it would be an inoffensive conversation starter. I mean, he had made dinner, so I had to be polite, right?
“Boring.” He sighed, but his eyes finally lit up again. “Don’t tell Mom, but she was right. I should’ve focused more last year and got a few more of the basic classes out of the way.”
“Well, you already did freshman English last year, and you had two AP classes. You weren’t exactly slacking.” She just had high expectations, and he was easily bored.
He shrugged and the unreadable face was back. “I probably could’ve done more, though, and then I wouldn’t have to do them now.”
It probably wouldn’t have made a lot of difference one way or the other, but I tried to be helpful. “Maybe you could take some of the others that look boring online or test out of them?”
I couldn’t remember what options I’d been given freshman year, but I’d found the people-watching to be more interesting than the classes, so I hadn’t minded attending them.
He gave me a casual shrug that didn’t tell me anything. “I think taking some online over the summer might be a good idea. You know, it’ll go faster at least.”
“That sounds even better.” I hadn’t thought of that.
The past two summers, I’d done internships and studied abroad, but the shorter time frame during the summer semester would probably be less frustrating.
“I was talking with Dad before he left.” TC chuckled dryly. “He basically said I don’t have enough patience for stupid people to be able to spend months in basic classes.”
Yep, that was Dad.
“I would have to agree.” He didn’t have any more patience now than he had as a kid.
TC’s lips turned into a smirk, and he shrugged. “I have patience where it counts.”
Something about the way he said it and the gleam in his eyes made it clear what he was talking about.
“Please. I don’t need to know.” Rolling my eyes, I went back to the fridge to grab the soda I’d completely forgotten and picked up one for TC, too. “This family overshares entirely too much.”
He snorted, plating up the delicious-smelling food. “Just because you’re weirdly stuffy considering…well, it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be, too.”
Refusing to blush over the, thankfully, somewhat obscure reference to my preference for less masculine private clothing, I shrugged. “I refuse to concede that your behavior or theirs is common or reasonable.”
I mean, who gave kids safewords?
For fuck’s sake, I was not the weirdest person in this family for wanting to keep some things, lots of things, probably, to myself.
Family was not for sharing personal details.
No matter what TC said.
Just because the two of us were gay didn’t mean we had to share everything.
“Thank you for dinner. I appreciate the effort.” I was hoping that would change the subject. I’d even expound on how wonderful he was to make dinner if it got me out of talking about anything personal, but no such luck.
“No problem.” Something in his voice had me turning to look at him and as he walked over to the table with two loaded plates of shrimp alfredo, he studied me. “I thought you were going to tell me you didn’t need dinner tonight. Weren’t you going out with that guy you’ve been seeing, Russ, Ross, Rack, something like that?”
He knew very well that it was Rich, so I didn’t bother correcting him. “We’ve got plans a bit later. He had a family commitment earlier this evening.”
One that I’d bowed out of.
We weren’t at the meet the family phase, no matter what he seemed to think. Three months of dating was one thing, but we were missing key components to a long-term relationship. One of the big ones being physical intimacy.
TC snorted. “So you’re good enough to fuck, but not good enough to bring home. He’s a dick. A boring dick.”
They hadn’t quite hit it off the few times they’d met.
For some reason, TC found Rich painfully boring and Rich thought TC was lewd.
I thought they were both insane and wrong, but no one was asking me, so I was going to keep my opinion to myself. I was also going to keep the slightly backward understanding of what was going on to myself. Rich was smart and funny in a dad jokes kind of way, and just so happened to be more religious than I’d previously thought.
Not that I had an issue with that, but it was making telling him about my fantasies and predilections a bit more difficult than I’d expected.
I wasn’t so sure he was going to take the panties well at all…or my desire to explore submission and humiliation.
I had a feeling it was going to be a long night.
Perry’s never been closeted about his sexuality…but that doesn’t mean he wants to talk about it. There are just some things he shouldn’t have to discuss with family or strangers. But when his need to keep his kinks private and his desire to submit come to a head, he finds himself having to explain his passion for humiliation and submission to the one person he never expected…his brother.
TC’s always thought of Perry as…well, boring. While never a closet case, Perry was always the most vanilla gay guy TC had ever met. Until he wasn’t. When secrets come out, TC is left with curious questions and a drunk Perry who’s much more interesting than TC ever imagined. As sexy secrets are revealed, TC has to figure out if he has the courage to become the man Perry needs him to be…his Dom.