Silent Strength

 

Chapter 1

Marcus

 

 

“Are you on duty or just stalking someone over here?”

I was too well-trained to jump, but hearing Ben’s voice come from behind me might have made my heart rate elevate slightly. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You’re a better liar than that. Want to try again? And maybe this time try saying it when you’re not still staring at him.” The tone was teasing and light, but I could hear the curiosity in his voice—and possibly a little concern. “Not that he isn’t cute, but still.”

The boy was more than cute. With longer dark hair that gave him a slightly disheveled look, he seemed younger than he probably was. His lean build kept him from looking like jailbait, his body hinting at muscles as he moved around the room. He’d never be a body builder, but I had a feeling he’d be sculpted and would look incredible spread out and naked.

“I’m not going to do anything stupid. I realize he’s here with someone else.”

Ben snorted, coming around the side of the couch to sit down. “That’s not something I’m worried about. But you’ve been watching him since he came in. Weren’t you here to play?”

That’s what I’d thought the plan was.

The goal for the evening had been to find someone to get to know, then possibly have a scene with. There were the same core members as usual, but lately, there’d been a steady stream of new ones too. I thought it was time I met some of them. Work had taken up too much of my time recently, and even I’d realized I needed a break.

“That was the idea.”

In my peripheral vision, I could see Ben shaking his head, but my focus was elsewhere. There was something about the new boy that wouldn’t leave me alone. To begin with, he’d been so unsure of himself I’d been worried. New subs, especially unaccompanied ones, radiated at least a mild level of fear when they started exploring the club for the first time.

This was different.

He set off the dominant part of me that wanted to take a sub in hand, but he also hit the button for someone in distress. It wasn’t just nerves. He was afraid. He wasn’t mine, and I didn’t even know his name—but I wasn’t going to leave him alone.

“There’s something off.”

That got Ben’s attention and the teasing fell away. “What do you mean?”

“It’s not just first-time jitters.”

“I won’t ask how you know that.” Ben shook his head and turned his focus to the boy. “Tony said he was on the member’s guest list and everything had checked out.”

There was a strict background check for members. However, only a basic one was required for first-time guests. The club had an incredible reputation for protecting privacy. Newcomers were only allowed in the public areas on the first floor and were watched closely. If they wanted to come back a second time, then they had to fill out a much more detailed application.

It didn’t surprise me to hear that Ben had already checked up on the new submissive. He took the responsibility of running the club seriously. Too seriously. He was working every time I’d come in recently. Which wasn’t that often, but it was something to ask him about. When I wasn’t otherwise occupied with an anxious sub.

The boy hadn’t seemed like trouble. As a nearly twenty-five-year veteran of the police force, I had a pretty good radar for that, but it was clear he had no idea what he was doing. “I don’t doubt that—but he’s frightened. His whole body language is off. I thought it would get better when the Dom he was waiting for finally showed up, but it’s getting worse.”

When he’d walked into the lounge, the bands on his arms had told one story, but the look in his eyes told another. The dichotomy was what kept my attention, even though he was off limits. He was wearing two bands, a white one signaling he was a submissive and a red one meaning he didn’t want to be approached for a scene. It was usually a combination that indicated he was there to meet someone specific.

The level of stress coming from him had me concerned. This wasn’t a submissive who was simply new to the club. He was new to everything. I was shocked that he was by himself. I’d never brought a new submissive there, but if I had, I would have never let them arrive alone. It wasn’t how you took care of someone who was obviously inexperienced.

He’d wandered around the room, hands in the pockets of his tight jeans, trying to look calm. But it was a thin façade because his fists looked like only his death grip on the lining was keeping them in there. He was trying. I had to give him that. He’d even worked up the nerve to walk through the more interesting side of the first floor before coming back to settle down at a corner table with a drink.

Very casual.

Very confident.

Very much a lie.

By that point, I was hooked and not going anywhere. So I’d settled in to watch and make sure he would be all right. Maybe it was the Dom in me, or maybe it was the cop in me, but I had to know he’d be taken care of. He’d waited about ten minutes, swirling the ice in his glass and sweeping imaginary crumbs off the table, before the man he was waiting for walked in. I recognized him right away. Tall and lanky, he always introduced himself as Master Samuel.

The guy was a dick.

He hadn’t done anything to get his membership revoked, but he seemed to prey on new subs. The cop in me knew he was trouble. He might not have done something wrong yet, but it was only a matter of time. He was that guy you knew would cross the line one day, but there was never anything you could do about it beforehand.

Once I’d seen who the boy was meeting, I was stuck. I couldn’t leave him alone with that ass.

Things started off just fine. The nervous boy had been watching the doorway to the lounge and recognized the Dom right away, which had me feeling better. But as Samuel came over, the stilted greeting and the way the sub shook his head as Samuel pointed to the floor by his chair made me realize they didn’t know each other well.

As nervous as the boy was, it was clear he wasn’t ready to kneel for anyone.

Samuel either didn’t realize it or didn’t care, because I could see his attitude from across the room. Wishing I was closer, I had to make do with watching their body language since I couldn’t hear their voices over the noise from the club. Most of the time, I found the low hum of conversations relaxing and the sounds of pleasure coming from the back rooms exhilarating, but at that moment, I wanted it all to quiet so I could listen.

Ben was now watching them intently. “How did he end up with that prick?”

“No idea, but it’s not going good. The boy has scooted back from the table about six inches in the last five minutes and he went from blushing and nervous to ashamed. I’m not sure what that ass said, but I can’t let it go on much longer.”

The way he kept retreating was clue enough, but the look on his face made me want to gather him up in my arms and hold him. He was doing his best to hide it with a reasonably blank face, but he was crushed.

“Deep breath, Pops. He might just be pushing the boy a little.”

“Don’t call me that. And if he’s testing limits, the sub doesn’t realize it.”

I was a “Daddy Dom” and freely admitted I had a lower limit for seeing subs in distress than a lot of other Doms. But even keeping that in mind, I was having a difficult time staying out of it. I preferred to see subs blushing and squirming, not shrunk back and nervous. Physical pain was one thing—every boy needed a spanking from his daddy occasionally—but what I was watching seemed like emotional pain—and that wasn’t something I was comfortable with.

When Samuel rose stiffly from the table, saying something to the boy, I thought maybe their date was improving. However, the way he started gesturing with his hands and pointing toward the hallway that led to the private rooms made me realize it was only getting worse. Storming off to the back, Samuel looked like he expected the boy to follow him, but the sub wasn’t moving.

Ben shifted and I could feel him starting to stand.

“No. I’ll go talk to him.” Rising, I ignored the grumbling coming from Ben and walked over to the table where the sub still sat.

He wasn’t looking at the hallway any longer. He was staring at his drink. I couldn’t decide if he was upset or going into shock, but his blank expression made me nervous. Whatever had happened seemed to have pushed him to the limit.

There wasn’t time to plan the best approach, so I winged it.

Reaching the table, I pulled a chair around to sit beside him. It seemed like he could use comfort more than space, so I put one hand on his shoulder. That was when he must have realized he wasn’t alone, because he jumped and a cute little squeak came out of his mouth.

Giving him a squeeze, I let my hand stay resting on him. “Are you okay, Boy?”

He blinked at me with wide eyes before glancing down to the bands on my arm, black for Dom and green to indicate my willingness to play. “I’m fine…Sir?”

Pushing away thoughts about how cute he was, I nodded. “That will do, Boy. And you’re really not fine. I understand if you don’t want to talk about it. However, I need to make sure you’re okay.” Speaking calmly and trying for a soothing tone, I attempted to let him know it was safe to tell me anything that had happened.

He looked around and went back to playing with his glass, twisting it around in circles on the table. His nerves were still showing, but he hadn’t pulled away from my touch. If anything, there was the lightest pressure against my hand where he was leaning into it.

Unconsciously seeking a soothing touch, or something more?

“You don’t have to do anything here that you find objectionable. If someone makes you uncomfortable, he or I,” I pointed to Ben, “will be glad to help. That guy over there is one of the owners, and he wants everyone here to be taken care of.”

Tension radiated through him as he glanced over at Ben. He turned back to me. “There isn’t a problem. I’m fine.” He sighed and seemed to realize by the look on my face it wasn’t going to be enough because he sagged down in his chair. “We were just meeting for the first time. We’ve been talking online, but this was supposed to be for getting to know each other more. I…I thought we were on the same page, but evidently not.”

Since he’d started opening up, I didn’t back off. “What wasn’t clear?”

His cheeks reddened a touch, and he went back to concentrating on his drink, but eventually he answered, “I thought…I…We didn’t want the same thing.”

The stoic sub took a deep breath, obviously trying to pull himself together. “His profile said he was…well, he liked it too…but I might have misunderstood. Thanks for checking on me. I’m just going to—” His voice cracked and his hands started to shake. Putting the glass down, he set his hands in his lap and sat up straighter. “I think I’m just going to head out. This was a mistake.”

He said it with such tired resignation I knew he would walk away from whatever he wanted. He’d end up being one of those guys who just shoved it in a mental closet and let it quietly die inside of him. “Hey, he was a mistake…but this…” I looked around the club at all the people who’d managed to find a place where they belonged. “This wasn’t a mistake.”

Sadness seemed to envelop him. “You don’t understand.”

Letting my fingers softly caress his shoulder, I tried to figure out what to say. “I think you’ll be surprised. Aside from the occasional ass-hat, you’re going to find that most of us are open-minded. There’s a variety of people here, and I guarantee there’s someone else that likes the same thing you do.” The club had such a diverse group, no matter what the sweet boy was interested in, someone could relate to it.

I didn’t know why I was fighting so hard to connect with him. I should have left him alone after I knew he was fine. There was just something pulling at me that wouldn’t let me walk away. Yes, it was the right thing to do, but it was more than that. “Come over and sit with us for a while. Ben’s looking for an excuse to goof off, anyway. I think he’s probably got paperwork waiting for him in the office.”

A questioning look passed through his eyes and I could see him weighing the options. Would he take the chance or was he done? How much did he want to find people who’d understand? I’d seen it over and over. With some people, the pull to discover a place where they belonged was stronger than the fear. But with others, they couldn’t seem to push past it.

“I don’t know…” He looked around again.

He wasn’t refusing outright, so I pressed forward. “I’m Marcus. Come sit with us. At least let us give you a better memory of the club. You wouldn’t want to hurt Ben’s feelings, would you? This was a terrible first impression.”

That had the ghost of a smile teasing at his lips. “For a few minutes.” Then he took another deep breath and straightened. “I’m Eric. Nice to meet you.”

Silent_Strength