Silent Strength Prologue

Everything was falling apart.

One stupid mistake and my entire world was collapsing around me. Dodging horrified stares and disgusted looks from kids hanging around their lockers, I wasn’t sure where to go. School was where I felt safe. The place where it was okay to be a little more me. Not like out and proud or anything stupid, but relaxed. Now it was like I was walking through a minefield.

It was only first period; I was supposed to be heading to math. But when Rebecca stopped me in the hall to ask if the rumors were true, I automatically walked in the other direction. I had pretty well-developed self-preservation instincts.

And my fight-or-flight response only went in one direction—flight.



Kids were calling my name from all sides, but I knew better than to stop. Just looking at their faces let me know I’d be beaten up or at the very least taunted. How could Jack have done this? How could they all be doing this to me? One fuck-up and you were done. When did that become the rule?

How could he? He’d said he loved me.


Looking forward and trying to dodge everyone going in the opposite direction, I almost missed Lizzie. “Eric! Get your butt over here.”

She was calling me from the back stairwell that led to the science labs. I almost kept going. Just picturing what she would say made me feel ill. She’d been my best friend since we were in second grade.

I wouldn’t be able to handle it if she hated me too.

“Get your freaky ass over here!” Her voice was a shrill wail that had me stopping in my tracks, along with the few stragglers who’d been heading to first period. If I still made her crazy enough to yell at me, maybe she didn’t hate me. Looking over at her, I only saw the typical frustration she had when I did something that made her nuts. It was a good sign.

What was I supposed to do?

Walking over to her, possibly dragging my feet, I stood there looking at the floor. I’d never been the most confrontational person and today had pushed me to my limit already. What was I supposed to do? She shook her head, and I just stood there.

“I told you he was using you. Didn’t I?”

“Yes.” She had. She’d said it several times a week, sometimes more. She’d never liked Jack. He’d moved to town last spring, and she’d always said he was a dick. I hadn’t listened.

“I’m not even going to ask if the rumors are true, because knowing you, they are. But eventually, I’m gonna give you hell for making me learn about it from Marcy Black. I hate her!”

It wasn’t the response I’d been expecting, so I wasn’t sure what to do. “I’m—sorry?”

“You’d better be. That bitch shot off her mouth as soon as I walked in the door. ‘You know what Eric did, don’t you?’ Why didn’t you call me?”

I opened my mouth, but she beat me to it again.

“Why did I have to learn about it from her?” Her voice was so loud it echoed off the stairwell. Before I could figure out a better way to tell her to calm down—without actually saying that because I was gay, not stupid—she took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m good. We’re moving past that part. What happened? You said you were going over to his house to hang out.”

I leaned against the staircase, feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. “I did. We played video games and hung out. His parents weren’t home, so we started talking.”

One thing had just led to another.

Lizzie interrupted me, “Like just a random conversation and it popped out, or, like, sharing dirty fantasies?”

“The second. He said some stuff…” I wasn’t sure what to say about the next part. It had taken all my courage last night. I didn’t have any left. “Then I mentioned some stuff. He seemed okay with it, but then he said he needed some space. I figured we were over, but not all this…”

“So all you guys did was talk?” Lizzie sat down on the stairs and looked at me.


“I don’t know what that ass said, but the rumors have you doing a lot more than chatting about it. Whatever it is, exactly.”

I couldn’t say it. The words were stuck in my head. Not that I wanted to. Even though it was Lizzie, I couldn’t do it. I finally managed to speak, but I ignored the hints she’d dropped. “We just talked.”

She sighed and shook her head like I was making her crazy. “Where were you going?”

“No idea.” My only plan had been to head in the opposite direction of the conflict. In this case, that meant leaving school.

“You need a plan or someone will notice you’re not in school.” Her expression made it clear she thought I was stupid. She thought for a moment and you could almost see the wheels turning in her head.

When she’d figured it out, she nodded, giving me a firm look. “Okay, this is what you’re going to do. You’re going to head over to the park, but stay back from the road so you’ll be hidden from people driving by.” I got a stern look from her and I nodded, trying my best not to be overwhelmed by the panic setting in.

She waited to make sure I was paying attention before continuing, “I’ll go into the office and tell the secretary you got halfway to school and got sick. You look kinda green anyway, so it’s not a lie. That will keep them from calling your parents. I’ll go to first and second period, then I’ll say I have a doctor’s appointment or something. I’ll meet you over there and we’ll talk.”

It was a better plan than just walking down the street aimlessly, so I nodded. “Okay.”

Lizzie straightened up and walked over to peek around the corner at the main hall. “Everyone’s in class. You need to head out before a teacher notices you.”

I pushed off the railing and moved away from it. “You’re going to meet me there?”

As much as I wanted to escape school, being by myself wasn’t much better. She must have understood that because she, uncharacteristically, leaned over and gave me a hug. “Promise. I’ll be there in a little while and we’ll figure this out.”

“Okay.” Feeling better now that I had clear instructions, I walked to the end of the hall and headed out the back of the school. I’d almost made it to the side of the building that faced the woods when Mr. Webster came around the corner.

He gave me this look, somewhere between pity and frustration. “I’d ask you what you’re doing back here, but I think it’s obvious.”

I stood there, frozen.

Mr. Webster was the shop teacher. He was this big gorilla of a guy who always looked more like a bouncer in a club than a teacher. His muscles and leather jacket made him seem different than most teachers. I wasn’t in any of his classes, but everyone that had been would laugh and say he wasn’t as scary as he looked.

Expecting to be sent to the office or at least told to go to class, I was stunned when he reached out to pat my shoulder. His hands were huge and gave me a squeeze before he let go. “I heard the rumors this morning. Where are you going?”

Lying didn’t even occur to me. I guess my brain was still catching up with everything that had happened. “The park. Lizzie’s going to meet me there later.”

“Just the park? You’re not thinking about doing anything drastic?” He was calmer than I expected and seemed very sincere. But I wasn’t sure what he was asking.


He must have seen my confusion because he smiled. “Never mind. So you’re going to talk to Lizzie?”


“All right. We’ll pretend I didn’t see you.” He took a step back, but before I could keep going, he spoke again. “This is none of my business, but I’m going to say something anyway. There is nothing wrong with who you are or what you want. I’m not sure what happened, but I need you to remember that.”

My eyes prickled, and I had to look away. God, even the teachers knew what he’d said. I nodded and focused on anything but him. Being a crybaby on top of a freak wasn’t what I wanted. Mr. Webster wouldn’t be saying that if he knew.

“Go on. But just to the park until you figure things out.”

“Yes, sir.” Relief flooding through me, I kept going around the building.

“And Eric?”

I looked back at him. “Yes?”

“If you need help, or just someone to talk to, I’m here.” His words were firm, but for some reason, he wasn’t as scary anymore. Not knowing what to say, I nodded and kept going.

Once I was in sight of the woods, I veered off and headed across the grass. The woods were quiet and calming. After a few minutes, I could feel my heartbeat return to normal. But I knew the rolling in my stomach wasn’t going away anytime soon.

I’d been so worried about the kids at school, I’d forgotten the most horrifying part. My parents. What was I going to do? Even being gay wasn’t an option in my family. Being some kind of degenerate freak on top of that would send them into orbit.

I’d known for years I wasn’t like everyone else. The gay part wasn’t hard to figure out, but the other pieces were still confusing. What would they do? We’d had enough lectures at church about the evils of “those people” that I knew it would be bad.

There was no way I could tell them I was gay.

There was no way I could tell them what I wanted.

Want to read the rest?

Eric knows what he needs…he just doesn’t think anyone else will want it too.

He’s finally reached his breaking point. There’s only so many times he can put himself out there and get shot down. After a disastrous first date at a BDSM club, Eric is ready to walk away and push his desires to the furthest reaches of his mind—but then up walks Marcus. But just because the sexy older man is looking for a submissive doesn’t mean he’s looking to be someone’s daddy.

Marcus knows what he wants, and he’s spent months getting everything perfect for his boy…now he just needs to find him.

When Marcus sees Eric at Bound & Controlled, he’s immediately drawn to the sweet submissive who’s desperately trying to hide his devastation. Marcus steps in when he sees the sub’s evening going wrong, but he’s not sure what the shy submissive is looking for. Just because he wants the boy to need a daddy doesn’t mean he’s going to get what he hopes for.

As they discover their mutual desires, Marcus is sure that Eric has the strength to go after what he yearns for; he just needs his daddy’s help and love to see it.