Almost Strangers

Chapter 1
Adrian

 

 Sitting on the floor naked and holding a leather dog collar probably wasn’t the most productive way to spend an afternoon, but the professor had been very clear. She’d said she wanted us to do thorough research. To me, research implied a hands-on experience, not just reading blogs and weird posts on sex websites.

Research was evidently punishment for trying to take an easy course my final semester of college.

Taking the easy way out never worked for me. I should have remembered that.

The only way to get through it was to follow the rules and buckle down. Doing anything else just screwed things up in the long run.

“For example, you end up naked looking at sex toys. And talking to yourself,” I muttered.

I would end up like Owen if I didn’t get it together.

Maybe it wasn’t the collar that was throwing me the most. It might’ve been the anal plug with its long dark tail, which according to the website, was tapered for comfort and long-term wear.

Fuck.

I didn’t even curse, but this seemed to require one. I didn’t buy sex toys from websites that promised “discreet delivery” or “plain brown packaging” either. What had I gotten myself into?

It’s a fun course, everyone said. It’s easy. All she does is talk about sex stuff and weird shit, they said. Everyone gets at least a C as long as you show up and talk in class.

“Bullshit.” That was starting to feel more natural. I’d been had. That was the only thing I could think of. It had to be some kind of joke on the straight-laced guy. “That’s the only thing that makes sense.”

Turning the plug over in my hands, I tried to come to a decision. Would I, or wouldn’t I? When the professor had described the project, I hadn’t pictured the turn it would take. I was an accounting major. Papers were usually dry and filled with facts, and occasionally conjecture. What she wanted was so out of my comfort zone, I seemed to have discovered a totally new country.

“This is The Diary of a Horny College Student, not an academic paper.” But that was basically what she’d wanted.

“This is going to be a personal piece.,” she’d said. “If there’s not at least a little bit of you in it, then it isn’t worth turning in. A basic paper about a boring topic will get you a C, but if you want an A, I want original and personalized. I want it to say something about you. If it’s not at least a little intimate, then you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough.”

I always got an A.

But this time, I was starting to think I should have settled on getting a B.

With a B, I could have kept my clothes on, and I probably wouldn’t have needed to buy sex toys.

Toys seemed like such an odd word. Legos didn’t get people horny. Those were toys. These were… something else entirely. I just wasn’t sure what.

I still wasn’t sure how I’d gotten myself in this position — not the naked part. Clothes came off; that part I understood. It was just everything else that was confusing.

“Pick a kink or alternative lifestyle to explore. I want you to try and understand why someone would be drawn to it.”

I should have dropped the course when she made us write an anonymous essay on our sexual history. That would have been the smart thing to do.

There had to have been easier courses, or at least, easier topics. I just hadn’t looked hard enough when I’d settled on mine.

But any harder, and my eyeballs would have melted. The internet was frightening. It was a weird rabbit hole of random sexual things that people found intriguing and dirty memes that didn’t make sense. Even so, information-gathering was the start of any research project, even strange ones, so I’d sorted through facts and listed off fetishes until one had struck me as… interesting.

That was what she’d said to do. I was just following instructions.

It was a blog — a basic webpage, no frills, and clearly not professionally put together, but it’d caught my eye.

It was the way he’d been looking at the camera, looking at his master behind the camera. He was a pup, with a mask that made him look like a little beagle and a tail that wagged as he chased the ball around what was clearly a small apartment.

That probably dove his neighbors nuts.

But he’d been so… happy, and there was so much going on behind the mask. His facial features were obscured, but his eyes… They’d stayed with me for far too long. He loved his master. I could see that, but there was something else I couldn’t comprehend.

I should have picked something easier to understand.

But it was almost like a puzzle. It pulled me in. That was one of the reasons I liked accounting. The numbers made sense, no matter how disjointed and confusing they appeared to be at first. They were a mystery that I knew I could eventually solve.

The guy — the puppy — he was a mystery I wanted to solve as well.

I’d watched their videos over and over, but I couldn’t figure out what was so fascinating. It might have been the sexual paraphernalia — and that sounded odd too — but I didn’t think so. Nothing about the ball or even the mask was especially arousing.

The tail… Well, that was something else entirely. It hadn’t taken much research to understand why it would be arousing, what with the way it would rub against the prostate and all, but I still thought I was missing something.

Leaning over, I set the collar and plug down and reached for my laptop. The screen had gone dark while I’d been analyzing the objects, but it only took a second to wake it up. Pulling up the internet, I hit my favorites button and immediately found the blog.

Scrolling through their posts and videos, I pulled up a recent video. It was different than the others. More intimate, maybe. That’s what she’d said she was looking for, so I kept coming back to it.

Research. Lots of research.

Most of the time, the master was holding the camera and recording his pup as he played. In this one, the camera was off to the side, and the master was in the frame as well. Not his face, but part of his chest and shoulders and most of his lap. He threw the ball for a while, then they switched to a rope toy the pup clearly loved.

It could’ve been any of their other videos, but in that one, the master spoke. His voice was quiet and deep, and it sounded like he was talking to himself. He didn’t expect his pup to answer, and it sounded like someone talking to their dog while they were on a walk or at the park. Except this pup knew exactly what his master was saying.

“You had a rough week, didn’t you, sweet pup?” He was quiet for a long time, just playing with his pup, before he started talking again. “This is going to make everything better. No more stress. No more tough decisions. Just playing and cuddles and loves. That’s what my pup needs.”

His pup ran over, dropped the ball in front of his master, then rolled over to get his belly scratched. It would’ve been sweet, except for the way it made his hard cock wave and slap back to hit his abs. The cock made it… less sweet, but there was still something tender about the scene.

I couldn’t imagine being that relaxed and open while I was naked. It wasn’t that I was a virgin. I’d had sex. I just couldn’t imagine sharing anything like that scene with either of the people I’d gone to bed with. Amanda had been nice, but I couldn’t see her petting my belly while I wiggled and barked.

Mark had been nice as well, but he hadn’t struck me as the master type. There hadn’t been a definitive list of dominant characteristics, at least, not that my research had found. He just hadn’t seemed dominant enough to fill that role. When I’d been hesitant about… anal sex, he’d happily agreed to do other things, even though it had been obvious that was what he’d wanted.

I was just still on the fence about… all that.

According to some of my research, which had gone slightly off topic, a large portion of gay men didn’t participate in anal sex. I was assuming that statistic would hold for bi-men as well, although, the data had not been immediately available.

I looked from the screen to the plug. Proper research meant inserting the plug so I could wear — experience — the tail. Research. I needed hands-on research to understand the desire and the roles that the individuals assumed.

Maybe I wasn’t ready for this step in the process yet.

I’d done extensive study on anal preparation for inserting objects and had found quite a bit of material on the subject. But maybe I needed to review the information again, just to make sure I understood the process. That might give me more confidence.

My cock jerked. Yes, more planning was a good idea.

Pulling up a search engine, I started typing the familiar words, shaking my head at the absurdity of everything.

“When she said there were videos for everything, I really hadn’t thought she’d actually meant it.”

Before I clicked on the video, I reached for the collar. It seemed like the least intimidating object I had spread out around me, so starting with that was probably the best idea. Then the tail. Yes, I liked that plan. Collar then tail. It was like working my way up the kink ladder.

“I just have to take it one step at a time.”

Taking the soft leather in my hands, I brought it up to my neck. The pup in the videos always had his collar on. His was monogrammed and clearly expensive, but mine was basic. With my budget, anything else would’ve been ridiculous. People counting every penny and living off student loans and part-time jobs did not get to buy personalized sex toys.

Buckling the ends around my neck, I make sure the little D-ring was hanging down at my throat. The pup had a little tag that attached to his collar, but I’d never been able to make out what it said. It was also where a leash would go. That seemed too excessive to buy just for research, so I hadn’t ordered one. Besides, without someone to hold the leash, that item had just… seemed sad.

Giving the collar one last pat, just to make sure it was fitting right, I double checked that I had everything near me on the floor. Tissues, check. Lube, check. Plug, check. “You can do this. Millions of people do this every day.”

And wasn’t that a weird thought.

Picking up the plug, I felt the weight of it in my hand. The site had promised that it was comfortable and had said it was a beginner size. It was going to be fine. Taking a deep breath, I reached out to turn on the video again.

The door slammed open, sending my heart into my throat.

“Hey, asshole. Your clothes—” Owen just stood there, staring.

I felt a little like a bug under a magnifying glass — right before it was set on fire. I was frozen. The only thing flashing through my mind was that he shouldn’t have been home for hours.

And why the hell hadn’t I put a towel on the list?

 

Almost Strangers ebook