Learning to Walk Chapter 1

Downstairs Guy

“It’s not offering to save their souls or kill their bugs.” The innocent cutie was so insistent I had to stop at the bottom of the stairs and listen to what he was saying. I wasn’t going to apologize for being nosy when everyone in the building was fabulously weird and not shy about sharing their personal life…but I was quiet while I listened.

Brady, my delightfully naïve neighbor who was into his Daddy and being spanked, was very confident about the odd list. “Those are the only random questions you’re allowed to ask. It doesn’t matter if you’re being helpful or not.”

Who made those rules?

Whose bugs were they trying to kill?

Were the crickets back?

Had the cutie found God in the last few days?

Oh, had the spider escaped again?

The cutie continued before I’d figured out what they were talking about. “Even I know you’re not supposed to just ask people what their kink is even if you think they’re not vanilla. It’s not an appropriate question no matter if you’re a door-to-door salesman or a friend.”


He was adorable and a bit insane, both were things I appreciated, but I wasn’t really into frightening innocent littles so I stepped back from the stairs. Giving him a heart attack by popping out around a corner was not good manners either.

“Bambi, they’re your roommates, not strangers you’re quizzing about their relationship with Jesus.” Boyfriend Daddy Guy, aka Jude, sighed and I could picture him deciding if he could frown at his cutie or not.

The guy was funny even if he was scowling all the time.

“I’ve been very open about my life.” Brady’s confused voice got louder as they got closer to the bottom of the stairs. “They’ve been very accepting but not that curious about the details. I have no idea why they’re so weird about the spankings.”

I loved this building.

Moving in while I finished my masters had been the best decision ever.

“I think the being weird part is a clue that they’ve got questions.” Brady’s Daddy was definitely on the more logical side of the spectrum but he wouldn’t do anything to upset his insane cutie, so I wasn’t going to hold my breath on him winning the argument.

“They’ve had plenty of time to ask them.” Brady shrugged as they finally stepped off the stairs and headed toward the parking lot, not even noticing that they had an audience. “I’m not going to be pushy and make them uncomfortable.”

Brady sighed like that should’ve been obvious. “They were very good about feeding me and taking care of me before you came, Daddy. I can’t repay them by being rude.”

I wasn’t sure if I’d missed part of the discussion since they’d gotten their window fixed or not, but as I looked up at the building, I wasn’t so sure leaving those two to stew in their worries was a good idea.

Brady’s roommates seemed just as interesting as he was, but they were slightly more subtle about it.

Not that being more subtle than Brady would’ve been hard.

That was one little who radiated out his sweetness and curious innocence no matter what he was doing. He even talked to himself while he was bouncing down the stairs and sang to himself when it was his turn to take out the trash.

The whole situation would’ve been easier to figure out if their window was still stuck open, because the sound carried fabulously and it made being nosy a lot easier, but now that they’d gotten it fixed, I was missing out on so much.

The most logical decision would’ve been to mind my own business. It was what a polite neighbor in any other building would’ve done. Ignore the odd conversations and pretend you didn’t know your neighbors were kinky little cuties. Yep. That was what polite neighbors did.

But I wasn’t a polite neighbor.

That would’ve had me missing out on so much romance and fun gossip, but at the moment, it was putting me in a difficult position. Was I supposed to ignore the questions Brady’s roommates clearly had? Brady’s Daddy didn’t seem to find them nearly as adorable as I did and he had his hands full with Brady.

Was there anyone else they had in their life besides Brady who could answer their questions?

How many questions had Brady and his sexy Daddy been ignoring?

Frowning up at their apartment, I glanced down at mine and sighed. “Work or play?”

The answer seemed obvious so I bounded up the stairs, not worrying about appearing insane. I was the least nutty person in the building and they probably wouldn’t even realize how strange it was, anyway.

Besides, no matter what, it would be more fun than studying.

I probably should’ve come to my senses by the time I got to their door, but I hadn’t, so I knocked and gave them a big I’m not a creep smile as the cutie I thought was Gareth opened the door. Just eavesdropping hadn’t really given me a clear picture of which insane cutie was which, but I thought I had it right.

“Hey, I’m from downstairs?” When the tall, almost blond guy just blinked, I widened my smile. “I was cheering Brady on when he was figuring things out with his Daddy?”

Yep, that had his eyes widening.

I had the best neighbors, so I had to cheer them on when they finally got what they wanted. Just because Brady’s wish list had been a bit interesting hadn’t bothered me. He’d found his Daddy and he was enthusiastic about getting spanked and cuddled.

“Um…” Gareth swallowed and nodded slowly, looking a bit like a confused surfer dude from a movie. “Thank you for being supportive? He’s very happy.”

So cute.

“You’re welcome.” Before I could say anything else, he turned his head. “Cash? A neighbor is here.”

He needed reinforcements?


Was I scary or weird?

Giving myself props for guessing the right name with the right neighbor, I waited patiently as Gareth frowned and Cash came to the door.

“Um, hi.” The dark-haired one was shorter and watching me like I was trying to sell them Tupperware or Jesus, and he gave Gareth a curious look that had the cutie who’d opened the door shrugging.

Were they dating?

They had the silent shorthand thing down pat because Cash turned to me and just knew he was supposed to take charge. “Were we being too loud?”

Sadly, no.

Gareth leaned in and whispered. “He’s the neighbor who was excited for Brady.”

“Oh.” Cash looked at Gareth and they exchanged another silent message before turning to me. “He was glad you were happy for him.”

That seemed to be all they knew what to say. I had a feeling it was probably because Brady’s Daddy had given them more than a few lectures on boundaries.

Hmm, probably another reason they weren’t asking nearly enough questions.

Deciding to charge right in since small talk didn’t seem to be their strong suit, I treated it like it was any other conversation two neighbors might have.

I was offering to help. That was all.

“I heard that you guys might have some questions about kinks and BDSM and Brady’s love of spankings.” When all that got was matching blinks, I kept going…silence was not a safeword. “He seems to think it would be bad manners to ask what you’re into or if you have questions. I think that’s just silly, but Brady seemed firm about it, so I thought I’d see if you needed help.”

When they didn’t slam the door in my face, I thought we’d made progress.

Hmm, another silent conversation.

They were so cute together and something about their mismatched looks made them even more adorable.

“At the very least, he and his Daddy are open to answering questions, but Brady thinks it’s bad manners.” I shrugged. “I heard them on the stairs and he had some logic about bugs and Jesus that I just couldn’t follow.”

That had them both letting out matching sighs and I couldn’t resist smiling.

“You guys are so cute.” That got wide-eyed stares from both of them and it just made me chuckle. “I can’t be the first guy who’s told you that. I’ve seen you go out on dates, and Brady was so excited a few months ago when you started seeing that guy who delivered pizzas here for a while.”

Cash blushed a delightful shade of red as Gareth continued to stare at me.

“Now, admittedly, I’m curious to know if you guys are dating now since I haven’t seen the pizza guy in a while, but I just wanted to make sure you knew you had other resources besides Brady and frowning Daddy Jude if you had questions.” Waiting for someone to nod or at least point out I’d crossed their boundaries, I kept grinning and just stood there silently.

It took several more sighs and pointed looks before Cash spoke up again, and the spokesman for the duo didn’t seem pleased to have been nominated. “The pizza guy didn’t work out.”

Not missing out on a chance to get to know them better, I nodded. “He seemed kind of stuffy for you. I mean, he didn’t even seem to understand that Brady’s a little. The whole why does he have crayons discussion was a clue he was too vanilla for your household.”

More blinks.

“Yeah.” Somehow I’d gotten Gareth to actually talk that time. “He didn’t understand that Cash wasn’t going to blow him on their first date either, so I didn’t think he’d last.”

I loved oversharers.

They were both wonderfully fascinating, but I frowned that time. “Cash isn’t a blowjob on the first date kind of guy. He has to get to know someone first, and more importantly, he wants them to understand Brady. You guys have been a family for a long time.”

If I knew that, then it shouldn’t have been hard for someone who was dating them to figure it out. Him. Dating him.


Instead of jumping into the blowjob conversation, Cash turned to Gareth. “We really are way too loud.”

“Never.” I scoffed and Gareth seemed to be trying not to smile or maybe even laugh. “I was very sad when the window got fixed, but don’t worry, Brady talks to himself a lot, so that’s keeping me mostly up to date.”

Cash scrubbed his hands over his face. “This has all just gotten…”

Since that seemed to be my opening, I toned down the smile and nodded. “I know. It’s been a wild ride with Brady finding his Daddy and you guys finally getting to see what that means in a healthy relationship way, but that doesn’t mean you have to be frustrated or confused. Communication is important. You’re still family.”

Just one that Jude didn’t seem to like most of the time.

But since that was how family usually worked, I wasn’t worried.

Gareth didn’t seem to know what to say, and I had a feeling that was due to Cash’s confusion just as much as his own. They really were two halves of a whole even if they didn’t seem to realize it. But that was okay because I was very helpful.

That was the part that Gareth did seem to understand because he actually stepped back from the door and waved me in as he responded. “Brady says he’s happy.”

But…I could hear that unspoken word as I followed him in, just inside the doorway so I didn’t seem too overwhelming.

“But the spanking thing confuses you?” That had both of them nodding, but I couldn’t decide if Cash was confused or if he was saying Gareth was confused.

Did it matter?

Deciding no, it did not, I charged in again and followed Gareth over to the couch where I had to move crayons and stuffed animals to sit down. “For a lot of people, the pain and pleasure centers get a bit mixed up.”

And judging by Brady’s orgasms, he was in that category, but I didn’t point that out to his roommates because I had a feeling the orgasm part was something they hadn’t missed either.

“It can be for a variety of reasons.” I tried to sound relaxed as Cash shut the door and walked over to sit in a chair in the living room as Gareth sat down beside me on the couch. “From what I’ve overheard, Brady likes the pain and it’s also cathartic for him. It makes him feel good physically, and emotionally he feels cleared out. Like a reset button that comes with an orgasm.”




Gareth frowned. “But Jude is hurting him.”

“Only in the most technical sense of the word.” They were both back to frowning. “First, let me ask a few questions. Is Brady happy?”

That got immediate nods, so I knew their confusion hadn’t passed into fear yet.

“Does Brady like having someone who’s just there to watch over him and set boundaries?” I knew the answer to that one, so I was glad to see their heads bobbing again. “Would Brady stay with someone who was mean to him?”

Shaking their heads without seeming to think about it, finally had their shoulders relaxing. It seemed that something was getting through to them, but I wasn’t sure I’d answered enough questions yet. “Brady is honest to a fault. If he says he loves Jude and he loves spankings, I think you can trust that. He probably loves them more than he loves coloring, guys.”

They both went silent before a slow breath escaped Gareth. “I still don’t understand it, but you’re right, he wouldn’t do something he didn’t want to.”

Cash nodded but he seemed more focused on Gareth’s emotions more than the actual spanking itself.

“He likes having someone there to take care of him completely.” That was obvious to anyone with eyes. “You guys did a great job taking care of him, but I don’t think either of you are natural Daddies and that’s what he needed.”

And they went still again.

Oh, had they not realized they were subs of some sort?

Somehow that always seemed to surprise a large percentage of people.

Cash licked his lips as his eyes darted back to Gareth, but Gareth was staring at me like I’d said something scary or brilliant.


They were my favorite neighbors for a variety of reasons, one being they never woke me up at six in the morning on a Saturday singing about Barney or Winnie the Pooh. They’d also never let bugs escape into the building and they didn’t glare at me every time I said hello…that actually applied to several guys in the building, oddly enough.

Yep, the fact that they were both sexy in different ways was the icing on the cake.

“I probably shouldn’t offer to spank you since we haven’t known each other in person very long, but Brady’s the type to share. So I don’t think he’d mind letting Jude spank you as long as clear boundaries were set up beforehand.”

Because that was one kinky cutie with questionable logic and he could talk himself into just about anything.

“Would you like me to help you ask them?”

What else were neighbors for?

Want to read the rest?

Eavesdropping is only bad if I’m not being helpful with the information I’ve acquired.

Bates loves being helpful, and since being nosy makes it easier to be helpful, well, no one can complain about that logic. Especially not the cuties upstairs who have the most interesting family and the most wonderful questions.

It’s not eavesdropping if we’re too loud, right?

Gareth isn’t concerned about how much his handsome neighbor has overheard about their life. He’s more focused on getting his questions answered and about the way the fascinating guy from downstairs thinks he should be dating his best friend Cash…and the guy from downstairs.

Maybe eavesdropping wasn’t so bad?

Cashel isn’t sure what’s happening when the tornado of a neighbor bursts into their life, but he knows nothing will ever be the same. Especially not when it ends up with him on a date with Gareth and Bates. He doesn’t do that…any of it…but it sounds like maybe the neighbor knows him better than he knows himself.

When a nosy neighbor decides to help two curious men, questions finally get answers and nothing will ever be the same.

Author’s Note:

Author's Note:

While this duet is part of the Education of the Heart series, these are the roommates from Save Me Santa. It’s not technically necessary to have read the other books, however, I think Learning to Walk and Learning to Run will be more enjoyable if you’ve already read Brady’s story, Save Me Santa.