The Only Way to Live Chapter 1


“I’m just saying…there’s something wrong about a sexy Santa.” Jules had the most boring taste ever in porn, considering what he was into in real life.

I snorted. “You’re insane. Sexy Santas are like gold medal DILFs. Everyone loves them.”

Who didn’t love an older man with a wicked gleam in his eyes?

Jules gave a long sigh like he was dying inside. “You’re ruining my childhood.”

“If you’ve never thought about a dirty Santa, you didn’t have much of a childhood.” Older men were the best and Santa could be the epitome of that with the right guy in the suit. “Come on, don’t you think this would be hot on someone? They’re going to sell really well.”

Jules just groaned.

“You’re no help. Come on, for a guy who likes Daddies, I thought this would be right up your alley.” That had him rolling his eyes and turning a cute shade of pink.
“You’re evil when you’re not getting laid.”

It was a low blow but an honest one.

“Says the boy who doesn’t think a dirty Santa would make a good Daddy.” He was clearly delusional.

Jules shrugged. “Daddies should come with tattoos, not reindeer.”

Laughing, I turned my laptop around to show him another option. “This Daddy has tattoos and a reindeer.”

Of course, the reindeer in question was a jockstrap that was hanging on to this very built-looking Santa’s cock, so it might not have been exactly what he was picturing. Jules groaned again and slid out of my office chair to hide on the floor. “You will not stick images like that in my head, evil twink.”

Giggling, I shifted on the table so I could lean over the edge without falling off. “You’re such a goody-goody.”

He huffed and rolled his eyes. “You need to get out more.”

Drama queen.

Or drama boy, I should probably say—but that just didn’t have the same ring to it.

“I get out plenty.” I gestured out toward the main store. “I’m never home.”

Jules gave me a stink eye as he settled in on the floor. Since it didn’t look like he was planning on getting up any time soon, I reached over and tossed his crayons and coloring book to the floor. He smiled for a second as he started rearranging his toys before frowning up at me again.

“This place doesn’t count. It’s more your home than the apartment is.” He glanced out toward the store as he started picking a new color. “But most houses don’t have this many sex toys in one place.”

I shrugged, not offended in the least. My store was fabulous. “Because most people are boring.”

“Oh yeah, that I will agree with you on.” Then he glared at my computer. “But I won’t agree on Santa. That’s just weird. Yellow.”

Binkies and diapers weren’t weird, but a sexy Santa was?

People’s limits were so fascinating.

“Okay, no more Santas.” Jules might not like the idea of a sexy Santa, but I was pretty sure there were more than a few naughty locals who would find the idea fascinating.

Ordering several of the original, slightly more reasonable, outfit in several sizes, I added Mrs. Claus too. The pictures of her didn’t do anything for me, but since a lot of my customers were at least straight-ish, I made sure to stock a variety of things.

“Why are you looking at Christmas stuff anyway? It’s not even Halloween.” Jules didn’t look up from his picture, so I knew it must have been a long week.

“If I wait until the last minute I have to pay more and shipping times get crazy.” I’d ordered Halloween costumes months ago. Occasionally that meant I had to scramble to get something that had become trendy at the last minute, but most of the time it worked out well.

Sexy didn’t change that much from year to year unless it was weirdly political or something like that. But since I avoided those in favor of more long-lasting ideas like sexy nurses, I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t chasing trends. I wanted a store full of quality merchandise. Owning an adult toy store wasn’t always easy, but when someone walked in, I wanted them to have a great first impression.

“If you took your love life as seriously as you took the store, you wouldn’t be alone.”

Jules was starting to sound like my mother.

Except he was more open to the idea of me owning a sex toy store.

“Something has to come first in life, and since I want to eat, that has to be work.” It wasn’t exactly an excuse if it was the truth, but Jules’s snort said he didn’t believe it.
Besides, I was more of a handful than most men wanted to deal with.


Guys my own age, or god forbid younger than me, just didn’t do it for me.

But finding an assertive, dominant, sexy, functional man was hard. Especially when I had a lot going on with the store, and I wasn’t exactly a simpering sub. Twinks were evidently supposed to be cute and submissive, not confident, sexy, and an occasional switch.

“You don’t even try. What about that guy online last week?” He looked up from the ocean picture he was coloring. “You said he seemed nice.”

I groaned and wondered if throwing myself on the floor so I could color was an option for me.

“Yeah, he was nice right up until the point where I made it clear I was a switch. He hadn’t read my entire profile and said he must have skipped that part.” Jules frowned as he looked up. “It’s okay. If he isn’t open to the idea of me at least topping once in a while or being in control while he fucks me, he wasn’t the right guy for me.”

I loved to bottom and I was a switch, but I wasn’t going to bottom forever just because I didn’t look like a traditional Dom. When that side of me wanted to come out, I didn’t want to have to shove it back in the closet forever.

Jules sat up straighter and nodded, smiling confidently. “You’re going to find the perfect guy. You simply need to be patient.”

“Twenty-four isn’t old. I have plenty of time.” But since that just meant I had plenty of time to date losers and vanilla guys who didn’t understand BDSM, that idea wasn’t much fun.

“And until you find Mr. Right, we’re going to have fun and you’re going to date.” When I winced, he shook his head and stubbornness started setting in. “Nope, you’ll never find him if you don’t get out and meet people.”

Since that was the same advice I’d given him last week, I didn’t have much room to fight.

“We’ll see. I meet a lot of people in the store. I’ll keep my eye out and I’ll keep browsing online. You never know, the perfect guy might move in next week.” Jules seemed to like that idea, so I kept going. “Of course, he’ll have traveled the world and will be ready to start slowing down so he finds the love of his life.”

Jules nodded, waving a worn blue crayon at me. It made me realize that I needed to get a new pack of crayons for the store. Those were looking scraggly. “And he’s going to have a best friend who’s a Daddy Dom, and when he realizes how much his friend likes it here, he’ll settle down too.”

“Of course.” With tattoos and everything.

Jules had been dreaming about a biker Daddy since we’d met in college. He’d kept his fantasies to himself until I’d barged into his dorm room and showed him how fabulous it could be not to hide who he was.

I’d been the best freshman roommate ever.

“But until they move into town, we have to stay busy and meet people. We might end up finding people who need us or fabulous friends, but we won’t know unless we get out there.”
Fuck it.

He was cheating.

He couldn’t remember to bring home toilet paper, but he could quote my words back at me with almost complete accuracy?

Let’s just say I wasn’t going to be as lenient the next time he forgot anything.

“Unless you want me to stuff those crayons where the sun don’t shine, you’re going to stop throwing my words back in my face.” They’d been for him, not me.

Jules was the one who needed to get out and experience life. How was he supposed to find a Daddy if he didn’t like dating apps and hid at the apartment more than me? How many Daddies randomly wandered into the library?

He wasn’t going to magically find the perfect Daddy by giving him the newest issue of Field & Stream or showing him where Harry Potter books were shelved.

Jules giggled, giving me a little shrug. “It was good advice.”


It was time to change the subject. “When do you have to work next?”

I already knew the answer to that, but I was hoping he’d forgotten.

He hadn’t.

“Nope, not going to distract me.” Crayons clearly made him feel confident because he kept pestering. “You said I needed to get out and meet people. If I’m going to put myself out there, so are you. We’re both going to flirt with someone this week.”

Damned wax-induced confidence.

“No cheating like smiling at the McDonald’s guy to get bigger fries.” He gave me a long look that was probably supposed to make me feel guilty, but if the closet case got flustered easily and ended up being very generous with fries, I wasn’t going to feel bad about it.

When I just smiled, he shook his head and kept going. “It’s got to be someone datable. Best story wins and the loser has to pay for dinner next week.”

This was going to be easy.

“Deal, but it has to be someone who’s a good fit, meaning reasonable dating age and the right gender. Your dirty old ladies don’t count.” Little old ladies were drawn to his awkward nerdiness like a bee to honey. “For you, that means a man who’s the right age and who could conceivably have tattoos.”

He huffed before looking down at his paper and coloring furiously. “That’s too hard.”

“Nope. It has to be fair.” I rubbed my hands together, probably looking a bit like Scrooge McDuck getting ready to dive into his money bin. “And when I win, I want steak.”

“Don’t count on that win. You have to find someone in the right age group who’s successful and possibly dominant.” I got another dirty look from him. “Not screaming for more ketchup on his burger asshole behavior, real Dom possibilities.”

He was mean.

“That’s too hard.” Ketchup guy might have been a Dom having a bad day.

He grinned as he switched to a red crayon and started coloring a fish. “Don’t think you can do it? Well, when I win, I want that new seafood place. Lobster sounds fabulous.”

I rolled my eyes and threw a penis-shaped stress ball at his head. “I’m not paying for lobster unless your sorry ass is putting out.”

He smirked and gave me a teasing grin. “Then you have to win. Besides, we both know my ass is saved for my Daddy.”


Jules nodded as his smile widened. “Yep, and my Daddy will love that about me. So you can kiss my virgin ass.”

He was so funny.

A couple of years ago he’d have died before admitting anything like that.

“Don’t make me wash your mouth out with soap.” I waggled my finger at him. “Naughty boys don’t use those words.”

That had him squirming and I knew he was fighting the blush that was trying to heat his cheeks.

“Evil twink.” He gave me a frustrated look and went back to coloring, refusing to admit his reaction to being called naughty.

Someone had clearly had entirely too many fantasies over the years about that phrase.

“Yep, and one day I’m going to find a sexy Dom to keep me in line.” One who’d want to explore all the toys in the shop and who’d let me take the lead occasionally and who’d…
Yeah, the list was out of control.

At least I knew the reason I was still single.

“But until then, you’re going to have to pretend to be nice and you need to flirt.” I was pretty sure Jules wasn’t quoting my words back that time. There was no way I’d tell anyone to be nice. Have fun, maybe, or do something crazy…but just be nice…that was too boring.

“I’ll flirt, but I won’t promise to be nice. I’ve got too many fun things going on at the shop this week to make that kind of promise.” I had Christopher and Ethan coming over to look for new toys and nice always sounded like a code word for sweet and innocent.

I was not going to be making stupid promises that might keep me from having fun. Christopher was too cute when Ethan was pushing his buttons and driving him crazy.

Jules snorted but blushed a bit as he looked out into the store. “You mean you’ve got wicked things going on this week.”

“Yep. That too.” Jules didn’t like coming to the store when people were buying stuff. After one interesting interaction where I’d sold his dentist a set of restraints and a paddle while Jules was hanging out, he’d refused to come back when it was open.

We’d finally negotiated down to hours when it wasn’t busy, but mostly he visited when it was closed or when I was doing something like inventory. Just because I didn’t share his fear of publicly interacting with people I’d sold stuff to didn’t mean I couldn’t relate to it. So I hadn’t pushed too much…just enough to inch him out of his comfort zone.

I had to make sure he was ready for his Daddy when fate decided to shove them together.

Where Jules was a bit nervous about his kinky side, I’d long ago decided that I didn’t care. I was going to be me and the rest of the world could go fuck themselves if they didn’t like it. Thankfully, most people didn’t care what anyone else was doing as long as you smiled at them while you did it.

Smiles threw people off. It was fun.

Wear something completely nontraditional to Walmart and people would stare, but smile at them and then they’d feel guilty about it and go about their business. Sure, occasionally I’d run into an asshole, but being a college town, that happened less than people would assume.

Everyone assumed students were weird creatures that you just had to tolerate, and I still looked young enough that I got lumped in with that crowd even though I’d stopped after I’d gotten my associate’s. Of course, I had a baby face that would make sure I was getting carded well into my thirties and beyond, so I wasn’t worried about growing past that phase.

“When are we going to decide who won?” I looked down and smiled. “That’s a great picture. Can I put it up in the office when you’re done?”

It’d taken a long time for Jules to be comfortable showing me his little side, not just talking about it in an abstract way, so I did my best to let him know how proud I was of him. Just doing small things like hanging up his pictures and making sure the apartment was little friendly, not simply grown-up friendly, went a long way toward letting him feel safe enough to open up.
“Thursday.” Then he looked up. “Be nice about it. No leading anyone on.”

“Of course.” I had no intention of making anyone uncomfortable or embarrassed. “And dude, what about my picture?”

He blushed faintly but nodded as his eyes darted down to the page. “It’s almost done.”

“Perfect. The walls were looking a little bare.” Every few months he’d go through and take down pictures I’d put up and that was my cue to start pestering him for more. It was an interesting dance that we’d perfected over the years.

He nodded, but as he colored, I could see some of the real world falling away for him, so I went back to work. I had more ordering to do before the store opened and I didn’t have time to color or think about who I was going to flirt with. I had a business to run…and that sentiment was the reason I was still single. But when it came down to doing something that I knew made me happy and doing something that might work out or might not, could anyone really blame me? Dating was hard, but my work made people happy, and that was more fulfilling than any bad Italian dinner could be.

Want to read the rest?

Flirting with his friend’s father was supposed to be just fun and games for Derek, but what happens when teasing leads to unexpected questions and some surprising curiosity?

Derek has known the unflappable Sean for years and nothing ever gets a reaction out of the attractive older man. Nothing, that is, until Derek senses some unexpected curiosity from the man he always thought was straight. But who better than an adventurous switch to help Sean explore his wild side?

Sean knows better than to take Derek’s teasing seriously. There’s a reason he’s always called the impetuous younger man “the pest.” But when Derek’s playful banter leads to some interesting reactions, Sean has to decide what’s more important…hiding behind what he’s always assumed or finally getting to discover who he really was all along.

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The Only Way to Live - Mechanics of Love Series book 1 Bonus SHort by MA Innes - Gay Romance Book Cover

Can’t get enough Sean and Derek? Get access to my Bonus Library to read The Only Way to Live Bonus chapter.

What’s the best way to get Sean to step out of his comfort zone? Show him that sometimes taking care of friends means trying something new…and naughty.
Sean might be a pro at hiding his head in the sand when it comes to his own curiosity, but Derek knows the way to Sean’s wicked side is to give him the perfect justification…we’re just helping out a friend.

This bonus chapter takes place after The Only Way to Live and before Finley & Jared: Beautiful Shame, Book 5. And don’t worry, Derek might be leading him into temptation but Sean isn’t dragging his feet too much…he just needed a good way to justify being naughty. I think you can enjoy this bonus chapter without having read The Only Way to Live. You do not need to have read Finley & Jared in order to enjoy this bonus chapter.