Brave Chapter 1

Ansel

“He’s basically the gatekeeper for the littles. Don’t piss him off. Wear clothes. Don’t try to bribe them with junk food.” The dramatic sigh that followed the frustrating sub’s lecture almost made me smile as I watched the littles in the playroom. “They get to control the crayons. I know. It’s a ridiculous rule but Jarrett is very firm about enforcing it.”

Austin was the gatekeeper into the rest of the club, so I thought it was only fair that he had to share control of the playroom. But I wasn’t going to point that out to the crazy half-naked omega who seemed to own a large portion of the world.

“Thank you for the information.” I wasn’t sure what else to say, and that was partly because I wasn’t sure what I was doing there to begin with. “Jarrett said the littles don’t have an issue with visitors.”

Shit.

Did that make them sound like prisoners or zoo animals?

Jarrett, the stern-looking alpha that kept glaring at me from the low table in the playroom, had been much more welcoming when he’d done a show-and-tell kind of presentation about age play. He was the gatekeeper and something like a babysitter to the littles, and he protected them nearly as passionately as Austin.

It’d initially sounded like an odd thing to do a presentation on, but it’d turned out that I wasn’t the only Dom at the BDSM club who’d never met a little before. Everything from spankings to sounding rods was much easier to find information about online and it’d made a lot of us question what else we hadn’t thought of. I was pretty sure they were going to need to do a few more Let’s Explain this Kink presentations, but it seemed like the littles were the best place to start.

And now I was curious…they were subs who wanted to cuddle and play and have someone dote on them. It seemed too good to be true, but I’d seen glimpses of Jarrett and Gideon, his sub and little, around the club. I wasn’t going to frame it as lusting after someone else’s sub but I wanted what they had.

I just wasn’t sure what that was yet.

Austin rolled his eyes like I was stupid. “Every sub is an attention-whore in their own way. Just give them attention.”

I wasn’t sure if he was being ridiculous or brilliant, so I ignored it. “Are there any protocols I should be aware of?”

They were littles, not alien ambassadors, but for some reason, it felt important that I got it right on the first try. I just didn’t know what that should look like. Information on BDSM was hard to come by in general, but before coming to the new club, I’d only heard of age play in passing…and I hadn’t even known what the acronym the site had used for it meant.

ABDL hadn’t meant a damned thing to me at the time, but now I was staring at six honestly adorable littles and watching two threaten each other with crayons for the attention of the large alpha that ran the playroom. The fact that he was obviously in a relationship with his own little didn’t seem to matter to anyone, which made Austin’s comment about attention-whores seem a lot more relevant.

“No.” He shrugged, whirling his hips to make the sheer ball gown sway around him. He was a known attention-whore himself but the movement seemed innocent and not designed to draw attention to his ass. “Just be nice and follow Jarrett’s directions.”

Turning in a circle to make the see-through skirt billow out again, he paused and smiled sweetly. It was a dangerous look on the slightly insane omega. “Oh, and if you’re just going to screw with them, I’ll bury your body in a shallow grave.”

Nothing the man did would surprise me, so I gave a curt nod. “Understood.”

I’d worked with him just enough not to question his threat. If anyone could do it without getting caught, Austin could. The man seemed to be able to do anything he put his mind to, whether that was setting up a BDSM club or somehow becoming partners in an adult novelty store.

His life was the stuff of dirty fairy tales and I knew better than to poke him.

“I have no desire to hurt anyone. I’m simply curious because the presentation was interesting.” And there’d been something about the way Jarrett had talked about his boy and the littles in general that’d given me a thousand questions I couldn’t answer.

It’d been enough of a push to have me coming up to the playroom, but it was going to be the shy smiles and the sweetness that would pull me in.

Austin’s beaming smile was less worrisome as he started to bounce toward the stairs in towering heels. “Then go play and have fun.”

Nothing in life was that easy.

But I pushed that thought aside as I turned back to the playroom. A few of the littles had stopped throwing crayons at each other and were staring at me curiously. One in particular couldn’t seem to decide if I was fascinating or frightening, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d climbed under the table to hide or thrown a crayon at me.

I wished their reactions had been more clear-cut one way or another, but I still had no idea what to do. Or how to flirt with them. It wasn’t a situation where a heated glance would get me anything other than decked by the playroom guardian.

Jarrett didn’t seem to be angry, however.

He was…curious too?

I didn’t know him well enough to guess what he was thinking but his glare hadn’t made any of the littles uncomfortable, so I decided not to worry as I stepped into the room.

Silence descended again as wide eyes studied me like I was a new bug they’d never seen before. I’d dated a lot and had met quite a few subs since I’d started exploring the lifestyle, and none had ever looked at me like these cuties were.

Why had I decided this was a good idea?

Austin’s insanity was clearly contagious.

“Would you like to color with us?” Jarrett’s deep, even voice made the question sound so reasonable, I found myself nodding.

“Yes. That sounds like fun.” At the very least, it sounded like something I couldn’t easily fuck up and it would keep me from hovering awkwardly. “Should I come sit down?”

Stupid question.

Very stupid question.

In my defense, the whole situation was new, so I was going to cut myself some slack and admit to being a very confused Dom. But nothing in his expression said he thought it was stupid. In fact, he nodded and took it very seriously. “Yes, why don’t you sit between Charlie and Dessie. They’re having trouble playing nicely.”

That seemed too obvious to comment on, so I just nodded as I moved deeper into the toy-filled space and sat down between the two wide-eyed boys he’d gestured toward. “What are we coloring?”
“Animals and trains.” Jarrett held up two papers and offered them to me. “Which would you like?”

Every eye was still on me, so I took the zoo animal page. “It seems fitting.”

That had something flashing in his eyes that said he’d gotten the humor but he was taking everything very seriously still. “Good choice.”

Barely pausing, he looked at the cutie on my right. “Charlie has animals too.”

I wasn’t sure if that was a hint or just a way to include the littles in the conversation but I followed his cue and glanced over at the little who looked like he was one deep breath away from bolting. “I like your elephant.”

Silence stretched out before he slowly held out the brownish-orange crayon that he’d been planning on throwing at the little on the other side of me. I wasn’t sure what to say as I took it, so I kept it simple. “Thank you.”

Since that seemed to mean the lions on my page should be orange, I turned my focus back to them and started coloring. My nonchalant attitude seemed to have the desired consequence, and after a moment, they all let out a breath and it was like reality snapped back into place.

Coloring resumed and Gideon, who I thought had been trying to decide if he was going to climb behind his Daddy, inched closer to the table. Jarrett patted his back and kissed his head. “I need a new picture for the fridge. What are you going to make me?”

Glad that seemed to mean Gideon wasn’t worried any longer, I focused on the other little beside me. “I like your train. Purple is very pretty.”

Dessie didn’t look nearly as nervous as some of the others and shoved his paper over toward me as he grinned. “Fast.”

“They look very fast.” Pointing at one of the other trains, I cocked my head. “What color is that one going to be?”

He gave me a very serious thinking face and then frowned at the table as he started sorting through the thousand options that were stretched out between the cuties.

But the decision seemed to require a lot of concentration, so I turned back to my other charge and looked at his page. “Is that a baby elephant?”

Charlie slowly nodded, still watching me like I was going to jump out and go boo at any moment. The binkie in his mouth stayed firmly in place but he pointed to the baby. “I bet that’s a very smart baby. Elephants are very smart.”

My conversational skills were severely lacking but no one seemed to mind how I was awkwardly repeating myself.

“Birds are smart too.” Yep, I was a genius. “I have a friend with a parrot that talks.”

And every eye in the room was back on me again.

“I can’t tell you what he says, though, because he’s naughty.” I glanced over at Jarrett, who was trying not to smile. “Your friend here wouldn’t be happy with me.”

Dessie giggled as he colored his train with enthusiasm. “Uncle Jarrett.”

Got it.

Leaning closer to the chattier little, I gave a low stage whisper. “Uncle Jarrett wouldn’t want me to tell you the birdie has a potty mouth.”

Snickers and giggles swept through the room, and right on cue, Uncle Jarrett rolled his eyes. “You’d better not tell them what that bird says.”

That got even more laughter from the littles and had the shy one finally looking at me with curiosity in his eyes. Taking that as a good sign, I leaned toward him that time. “His original owner was from far away, so the birdie has a funny accent when he says naughty things.”

Jarrett huffed. “Still not helping everyone to behave.”

I shrugged. “I don’t remember promising that.”

Snickers from the littles made it impossible to keep a straight face but I did my best. “Austin said I had to promise not to bribe them with junk food. He also said they were in control of the crayons, and I had to keep my clothes on.”

Looking down at my deliberately casual outfit of jeans and a button-down, I shrugged as the littles giggled. “I think this works.”

“You’re going to be a terrible influence.” Jarrett was giving me a stern look but since Austin’s shenanigans hadn’t gotten him banned yet, I wasn’t worried.

“Thank you.” Even the shy worrier beside me giggled that time but I decided not to push the man in charge too far and went back to coloring.

I wasn’t terribly creative when it came to anything to do with art but that didn’t seem to matter because what color I used wasn’t up to me. It was fascinating. Every time I reached for one that someone considered wrong, they sighed and handed me a different one.

Daddy Dom.

That clearly didn’t mean what I’d thought it did because I was not in charge of anything to do with the crayons or the coloring in general. But since giving me orders was definitely a step up from staring at me in fear, I decided to take it as a compliment.

When it seemed like I’d been accepted as at least a temporary member of the group, I looked at my new friends. “I’m Ansel.”

Several wide eyes turned to me and then looked over at Jarrett.

He chuckled and shook his head like he thought they were cute. “No one’s going to talk? Alright.”

Jarrett went around the room and named all the littles, pointing out his own boy, Gideon. “And you already met Charlie and Dessie.”

As I nodded and tried to smile nonthreateningly, Gideon leaned into his Daddy and spoke quietly. “Uncle Ansel? Daddy Ansel?”

It was a damned good question.

And since I didn’t have the answer or seem to be in charge, I just smiled at Jarrett and waited to see what he would do.

He cocked his head and gave an exaggerated thoughtful look as he studied me. “Well, I’m going to probably call him annoying, but what do you guys think?”

Rolling my eyes, I shook my head. “You’re just as bossy as Austin said you were.”

That broke any tension the littles were feeling and they all started giggling again, several nearly tipping over they thought it was so funny.

“As easily as you say his name, I think I’m right.” Jarrett’s eyes sparkled as he tried to keep the suspicious look in place.

Jarrett was just a bit too suspicious of Austin.

Austin was nuts, but he wasn’t some demon in a mirror we’d summon by saying his name.

“I will admit nothing.” Mostly because I was technically one of the drama queen’s lawyers and couldn’t actually say much. “But I think I would make a very good Papa Ansel to my new friends and Daddy when I actually get to be a Daddy.”

If I got to be a Daddy?

Jarrett nodded, seeming to approve. “I think that sounds like a very good plan.”

I wasn’t sure I’d have taken it that far—nothing today felt very well planned out—but it had seemed logical at the moment. It’d also been surprisingly easy to admit. I wasn’t sure if I would find what I was looking for, even with the club making that a lot easier, but something about the whole situation felt comfortable in a way I hadn’t found before.

There was still a lot I didn’t understand yet, but where I’d been constantly on when it came to the other subs I’d met at the club, the littles just made me want to cuddle up with them. My only concern was hoping that the want to cuddle them feeling shifted to want to do naughty things with one of them feelings.

I just wasn’t sure how to get to know them in a one-on-one kind of way.

Was that even possible?

Was asking that rude?

I was still mentally debating my questions as the coloring came to an abrupt end. There seemed to have been some kind of mass signal I hadn’t heard because one minute they were quiet and focused with the only sounds being binkies and the slightly muffled voices from downstairs, and the next, two were wandering off to sneak into what seemed to be the snack closet, one started to cry, and Charlie was slightly slow to duck and was hit by a flying crayon.

There was some fascinating magic involved with how quickly chaos descended but I focused on what I could control.

The crayons.

Dessie froze with one stern glare from me and pouted dramatically, crossing his arms over his chest. He’d gone from polite to pissed entirely too quickly for it to just be general theatrics or exhaustion. He’d deliberately picked a fight…but why?

Jarrett frowned at Dessie as he walked over to save the cookies from the fast mischief-makers. “Do we throw crayons?”

The frustrated little pouted. “Corner?”

Jarrett nodded. “I think that’s a good idea until you remember to be nice.”

This seemed to be a routine they’d acted out before because Dessie got up and did the slowest shuffle in history over to what was apparently the naughty corner. He was definitely aiming for theatrical, but there was something about the way he was looking at the door that made me think we’d missed something.

I looked over at Jarrett, who shrugged before he frowned at the hungry troublemakers. “Pick up the crayons first. You know the rules.”

That had even more chaos whirling around the room and as I took everything in, trying to decide what to do, Charlie inched closer and held out his arm. The pout and wide eyes clued me in and I looked down at the appropriate spot and frowned. “Did you get a boo-boo?”

My only frame of reference for what to do came from TV shows and old movies, but it seemed to be right based on how he nodded and pouted around the binkie. He was waiting, either for more sympathy or something else, but I didn’t know what he wanted.

Jarrett was no help because he was now cuddling Gideon as well as the crying little, who magically stopped his tears as soon as he got the attention he wanted.

So I did the only thing I could remember seeing.

“Does it need a kiss better?” I wasn’t sure why that spot needed attention when the crayon hit his shoulder, but when the shy little nodded, I leaned over and gave his forearm a tiny peck. I must’ve been sitting on the carpet too long because we both got a jolt of static electricity, but it made him laugh around his binkie. “All better?”

I got another nod from my new friend, but he seemed like he needed more of a distraction, so I leaned closer again and whispered. “Does Uncle Jarrett know that the boy who was crying is stealing crayons?”

I wasn’t sure if it was attention-seeking behavior or just designed to cover up his thievery but the playroom definitely had more drama than I’d expected…it really was too bad I was a contract lawyer and not a criminal one.

Charlie’s giggle said everything and nothing, but my teasing question earned me something even better…words. He slipped the binkie out and giggled again, looking at Gideon. “Policeman.”

Good point.

Shrugging, I sighed and got another giggle from Charlie as well as a curious look from Jarrett. “I guess that means it’s not my problem then.”

Not my playroom, not my problem?

Sounded good to me.

I was going to focus on my new friends and getting to know the dramatic boy who liked his boo-boos being kissed.

“Hmm, should we go see if we can rescue Dessie and read a book?” The simple idea had Charlie beaming at me and made me feel like the best Dom in the world.

Well…Daddy?

It wasn’t the evening I’d planned and I still had more questions than answers, but I was starting to think my life had taken a turn for the better.

I just hoped I’d be able to figure out what to do next.

Want to read the rest?

Charlie’s got a problem—well, two if you count his helpful and overly enthusiastic protector, Austin—but being painfully shy is the biggest one since most Daddies seem to feel being able to communicate is an important part of asking someone out. Who knew? But when panicking is his default response, most alphas don’t wait around long enough to see the naughty omega that’s hiding just under the surface.

Ansel’s got a problem. He has no idea how to be a Daddy or how to get to know the painfully shy cutie who’s dramatically adorable when it comes to boo-boos. Unfortunately, wide eyes and a firm belief about which crayons are best aren’t enough to build a relationship…or let Ansel know if the sweet sub considers him Daddy material.

When a new Daddy and a shy little meet, it will take patience and a nosy protector to help a sweet sub find the confidence to come out of his shell.