Learning to Trust Chapter 1

Leon

“No, I don’t care what Avery did to you as long as it was consensual and won’t end us all up on the news.” Destin’s passionate oversharing seemed to be a virus he couldn’t shake.
Not that he seemed to be trying to stop himself.

If it hadn’t been for the fact that he’d done it since the day we’d met, I’d have thought he was doing it just to drive me to distraction. That still could have been his goal because he’d made a career out of poking at me, but he’d been so curious about all kinds of things the first year he’d escaped his family that I could never tell.

He’d come from what was basically a religious commune that just looked a bit more normal from the outside, but his knowledge of the real world had been limited to what he’d been able to read when he’d snuck online at night.

Destin had basically shown up at college knowing he was gay and having a lot of book learning that didn’t translate well into the real world. He’d been able to quote all kinds of scriptures and tell people about historic events that happened hundreds of years ago, but he had no idea who the current reality TV stars were or how to flirt.

That had been a fun lesson in modern dating. I’d tried to steer him into more traditional forms of relationships, but once he’d mastered the coffee date, he’d been adamant that he’d wanted to know everything he could find about spankings and Doms.

“But he took this little rod and—” I cut him off before he could give me a heart attack in the middle of campus. Hearing him talk about that kind of stuff in our room had been one thing, but I wasn’t going to try to keep a straight face as I walked around campus hearing about it.

“If you finish that sentence, I will hang up this phone.” He was enjoying making me squirm and my reactions to his escapades were starting to get odd looks from other students as I walked back to the dorm.

The brat giggled. “You’re just grumpy because you miss me.”

Like a hangover—it drove you crazy, but there were good memories attached to it as well.

But remembering when we were roommates led me down the mental path to my new one. “Uh, don’t say anything that reminds me of my new roommate.”

I’d rather listen to Destin’s unconventional sexual exploits.

“It’s still bad?” The brat actually sounded sorry, which made it even harder to remember I was supposed to be frustrated with him.

I couldn’t hold back the sigh that escaped, which earned me another questioning glance from a guy with tattoos and a lip ring as I made my way closer to the dorm. Unfortunately there were only so many ways to escape the room, and eventually I had to go back.

The librarians were starting to look at me like they thought I was homeless and needed a place to live. The pity and worry coming from their faces said a lot about how nice the campus faculty were, but not about the state of my relationship with my roommate.

“Yes, the mood swings are beyond dramatic. He makes you seem boring.” That was something I’d never thought I would say to him.

More giggles came through the phone. “So all it took to get some appreciation was to move out? I think I’m offended.”

“You probably should be.” My dry response had him giggling again.

He was just too annoyingly cheerful to get upset. “That’s okay. Daddy and Master Avery love me.”

To the point of overindulgence.

“You need less love and more rules.” From the research I’d done, that lifestyle was supposed to be a balance of discipline and affection, but somehow he’d ended up with a Dom and a Daddy who spoiled him rotten.

I was starting to think I was the only one who’d adequately researched that lifestyle.

“Rules are for—nothing, Daddy.”

I laughed as the brat mumbled something about sneaky Daddies under his breath. “You’re the one who wanted to move in with them.”

And I meant them in the most interesting way possible.

They had the most baffling schedule where they bounced between Avery’s and Ray’s houses, but it worked for them and honestly it seemed to have had a calming effect on Destin. He was a lot more centered and seemed happy to get out of the dorms. I didn’t mind the constant noise, but I hadn’t realized how distracted it was making him.

“You’re frustrated because your new roommate is insane.” His voice was light and teasing, but the guy really was strange.

For one thing, his name was Ralph but I was supposed to call him Rad, and that was just the beginning. I just wasn’t sure Destin realized that I wasn’t overreacting. “Last week he went two days without sleeping and he thought he was being followed.”

It’d gotten so bad I’d called student services, but they’d downplayed it and I’d hung up thinking I was the one with the problem…that was, until he’d done a complete one eighty and slept for two days straight. There was something wrong with the asshole beyond simply being a dramatic asshole—because I’d earned a black belt in being a dick and this guy was leagues above me.

“Is there anyone you can call?” His tone said he was starting to take me seriously. “Maybe Avery can help?”

“This isn’t some kind of…unique relationship that’s gone wrong. It’s mental or something, and I don’t know what to do.” Patience with assholes—especially ones who needed psychiatric help of some kind—was not my strong suit.

“There has to be someone who can help.” He paused for a moment. “Oh, let me call Beckett. He’s a professor and has to have seen it all. He’ll know who to call and he can keep it quiet.”
That might work.

Normally I did my best to steer clear of Destin’s new friends, but in this case, I’d make an exception. “Okay, that sounds reasonable.”

They’d have to take a professor seriously, right?

I wasn’t a complete dick. I was worried about the guy, but I was also worried about myself. I hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep in days, and being anywhere near my room was getting to be increasingly stressful. Hell, simply walking up to the building was making my stomach start to roll.

Destin piped up again as I got closer to the building. “Hey, what about the RA? He was nice before. Did you get a new one?”

I couldn’t help snorting as I walked through the door. “If he sees me coming, he turns in the opposite direction.”

He acted like the mob was after him instead of a pissed-off college student. It was starting to feel like a conspiracy, but just saying that in my head felt like I was losing my marbles. The entire experience was giving me a lot more sympathy for people on the news who kept saying they tried to get help but no one listened.

I’d always thought that was a cop-out, but now I wasn’t so sure.

“Did you growl at him or something?” Destin’s cheerfully asked question made me want to throw something at him.

Which was an overreaction even from me…and the point where I realized I was getting too wound up.

I really wasn’t getting enough sleep.

“No, I did not—and that’s a ridiculous question.” I must have sounded more frustrated than I thought because Destin laughed just as two girls who were coming down the stairs gave me startled glares.

I tried to smile, but it didn’t fix the issue. They just hurried their pace, giving me a wide berth.

Shit.

As much as I had no desire to date, because god knew that was a confusing mess, I didn’t want to be known as the creepy asshole of the building. My current roommate held that position, and there was no reason to fight him for the title. As it was, they’d labeled me as some kind of hermit or closet case.

I’d heard several versions, none of them terribly polite.

“I’ve been very patient, but that’s not going to last much longer.”

Heading down the hallway, I had to fight off a yawn. I hadn’t even had dinner yet, so it was too early to go to bed, not to mention I had a pile of shit to do. “Listen, I don’t mean to be pushy, but could you call your professor friend early tomorrow?”

Destin giggled. “If you’re being polite, I know it’s serious.”

Before I could do more than sigh as I reached for the door handle, he spoke again. “I shouldn’t poke you. Not when you’re already a bit stressed. I’ll wait until you’re at full power. But yes, I’ll—”

I cut him off with a quiet, “Oh shit.”

“What?” There was no trace of teasing in his voice that time.

Looking at the chaos in the room, my clothes strewn all over the place and even the bedding nearly stripped off the mattress, I swallowed. “I think Avery might be a good idea after all.”
He might have been a cop who specialized in weird cases like BDSM relationships gone wrong, but he was still a cop. Hopefully that meant he’d know what to do.

“What’s going on?” I was probably quiet too long, just taking in the mess, because Destin’s voice rose to a startling pitch. “Leon, you’re scaring me. What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.” Realizing that wasn’t helpful, I kept going. “My stuff is everywhere.”

Again, not helpful. “I just got back to the dorms. My stuff is all over the room and it looks like it was searched by TV cops and they threw things everywhere.”

Then I realized something. “And it wasn’t locked. The door, I mean.”

I clearly was not concise under pressure.

“That’s not good. All of it. Not just the door, but that’s bad too.” Neither of us was articulate under pressure.

“I think talking to Avery would be a good idea.” I was starting to think this was only the tip of the iceberg.

What had he been looking for?

Was he pissed at me or had he gone off the deep end?

Why would no one help me?

There were hushed whispers coming through the phone. For about thirty seconds, I stood there stunned, waiting for something to give me a clue about what to do next. My clothes and books were scattered everywhere. I didn’t even know where to begin cleaning it up, or if I even should.

Was it a crime scene or had my roommate finally snapped?

There were always horror stories about kids who couldn’t handle the pressure and lost it when they got to college, but he wasn’t a freshman. He’d said he was transferring from a community college because he’d started there to save money.

That should’ve made a difference, right?

He wasn’t some young kid who’d never taken a college course and couldn’t figure out how to feed himself without an adult following him around. He’d seemed odd but like he knew what he was doing.

I’d also thought the community college thing had been a sound financial decision, so it hadn’t set off any alarms for me. But I was starting to think I should’ve asked more questions about his past.

Destin came back on the phone. “Avery said to stay there as long as it’s safe and he’ll be right there. Ray’s on the phone with him and he said Avery is right around the corner. He’s going to take some pictures and then you’re going to pack stuff up and come stay with us.”

He sounded almost like a kid playing at being a drill sergeant. Just the image of that had me smiling. “I feel like I should salute you.”

It was the wrong time to be making jokes, but I felt lighter knowing Avery was coming. It felt like I was drowning trying to handle it all on my own. I was good with decisions and I’d managed to turn Destin into a somewhat functional adult, so a new roommate shouldn’t have been this hard.

“You can call me Sir if you really want to.” The teasing, hypersexualized tone made me shake my head.

“Stop that.” I couldn’t tell if he was trying to make me insane or if he was serious.

So many odd things had come out of his mouth the first year I’d known him that I now questioned everything. In conversations, he’d bounced back and forth so fast between asking about cartoons and sex positions that keeping up with his train of thought had been a full-time job.

His giggle said he was probably teasing. “It’s going to be like living in the dorms again but better. No assholes partying all night and I get to cuddle with Ray and Avery whenever I want.”
Groaning, I started to say something sarcastic just to poke at him, but footsteps pounding down the hallway distracted me. Turning around, I saw Ralph standing in the doorway, eyes darting around the room. “You stole it, didn’t you?”

Shit.

Whispering into the phone, I tried to decide what to do. “You might want to tell Avery to hurry.”

Destin must have heard Ralph because more frantic, low whispers came through the phone as I focused on my roommate. “What did you lose?”

My thought was that if I seemed to be taking him seriously, he’d calm down.

That was clearly an incorrect assumption because he seemed to take it as an admission of guilt. He took an angry step forward and his voice got even more intense. “You can’t steal shit. Give it back. I still owe Angel for it and I’m not going to owe him twice. Where did you hide it?”

What the hell was he on?

I probably should’ve tried to cajole him, but that wasn’t my default mode. I ended up snapping at him in a frustrated tone. “You are out of your mind. I did not steal anything from you. What did you take?”

That didn’t help.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.

“How did you know I took something?” His eyes darted around the room again. “Who told you?”

I swore to myself that if I made it out of there without the crazy drug addict stabbing me or something, I was going to have it out with Housing.

Taking a step toward my bed, I leaned over and grabbed the duffel bag I used when I was going home for the weekend. It’d somehow ended up on its side next to the bed, but I was going to count that as lucky since I didn’t have to search for it. “No one knows anything. I’m going to see my parents for the weekend, remember?”

The question seemed to startle him because he froze.

“You said you wanted the room to yourself for the weekend, so I was going to head home for a few days. I was doing you a favor, remember?” It was only Wednesday, but since he didn’t seem to realize what planet he was on, I didn’t feel bad.

More panicky sounds were coming through the phone, but I ignored them as I looked around the room. If I could get a few changes of clothes and my books, I might be able to pull off the visiting-my-parents thing and inch out the door.

Unfortunately, what he lacked in logic he made up for in paranoia.

Turning my back to him had clearly been the wrong way to handle the situation. Of course, I didn’t realize that until pain slammed into me from what seemed like all directions and my world went dark to the tune of Destin’s screams in my ears.

Want to read the rest?

Leon’s always been on the outside looking in, and most of the time, he prefers it that way.

Leon’s never seen romance and attraction the same way everyone else has, and he doesn’t really mind that. When life is filled with everything from college classes to a best friend who’s a trouble magnet, who has time for romance anyway? At least that’s what he thinks until he meets his new roommate.

Morgan’s always been on the outside looking in, and college hasn’t helped the situation any.

When a difficult roommate situation goes from bad to worse, Morgan is happy to move into the privacy of an apartment. But when his toy-filled peace is interrupted by the stern but well-meaning Leon, he isn’t sure what to think. Just because Leon is sweet, take charge, and a has a thing for healthy eating doesn’t mean he’s a Daddy, does it?