The Only Way To Love Chapter 1

Chapter 1

“It will be a cold day in fucking hell before I buy that brat another fucking Lego.” Derek’s words made sense. Technically. But they weren’t adding up. Pausing outside of the office, I knew he and Sean couldn’t see me, but since it didn’t sound like they were having sex again, I wasn’t worried.

There were only so many times I needed to walk in on those two.

Derek was clearly an interesting influence on Sean, but now I was at a loss about what he was losing his mind over.

Did he have kids somewhere?

Whereas some guys I knew had taken their time figuring shit out and had ended up with kids or married, Derek had never been that type. And I was pretty sure I would’ve heard of them by now. So who was he buying Legos for—and not just buying them, but sounding like he was getting ready to put a kid in time-out because they wouldn’t pick up their toys?

Sean just laughed. “You were the one who forgot the Fruit Loops two shopping trips in a row, and you promised him a new box of crayons for forgetting to talk to a certain someone the last time you were here. What did you expect?”

“First of all, you were the one who distracted me last week by bending me over the desk. And second of all, do you have any idea how much sugar is in that cereal? I was hoping he’d forget, not booby trap the whole apartment.” Derek’s words should’ve filled in the blanks, but they just seemed to be creating new ones.

He had a kid at his apartment?

One who was a bit vengeful, by the sound of it.

Wait. Did Jules have a kid?

Was that the reason he’d been avoiding me at the library? I thought back to everything Sean had said and the bits of gossip I remembered hearing over the years. It might have taken me a while to realize that my library cutie was the same guy that Derek used to hang out with, but once Sean had clued me in, I’d started remembering little things.

There was no way he’d gotten some girl knocked up either. The Jules from Derek’s stories and the Jules from the library were both shy geeks, and Sean would have warned me if the guy had kids. I wasn’t necessarily opposed to it but nothing about him said kids.

Who was Derek supposed to buy crayons for? And really, a bowl of that crap once in a while wouldn’t kill anyone. I’d been raised on worse and had survived just fine. He sounded like one of those helicopter parents who worried too much.

“He’s bouncing off the walls trying to figure out what Frank is going to say when he figures it all out. You can’t blame Jules for being worried.” Now Sean was the one adding to the blanks.
Jules was the worried kid who kept leaving Legos out like bombs to piss off Derek?

It was a good plan, I had to give him that, but what the hell was the cereal thing about, then, and why did he need crayons?

And what did I have to do with it?

Before I could just go in and ask, because I really was that nosy, Derek’s words stopped me. He sighed, and from the sounds of it, he was cuddling up to Sean. “I know. I didn’t mean to forget, but I think part of me is just worried about what Frank’s going to say. I don’t want to disappoint Jules. They’d be perfect together. Fuck, Jules loves those tattoos, but not everyone is open-minded.”

Still no help.


Jules liked my tattoos?

I’d thought they might have scared him off, but clearly not if he’d talked to Derek about them. But what was the issue with me not being open-minded? I was open-minded. I mean, I had my limits. There were some things like using ranch dressing for everything and what to call sodas that I just wasn’t willing to compromise on, but that didn’t mean I was a bad person.

Some people were just wrong and didn’t know it yet.

But what could Jules be up to that I wouldn’t be able to understand?

“How about we say that not everyone can relate to Jules’s needs?” I heard Sean kiss Derek. “Frank’s not going to be an asshole, but it might not be a lifestyle he can handle. Not everyone is meant to be…a caretaker. It takes a certain kind of person, man or woman, to want to nurture someone else.”

What the hell?

Somebody clearly had kids, but who else was living with them?

And I was a nurturer. They could both kiss my ass if they thought otherwise.

But who needed to be nurtured? That sounded suspiciously like someone with a kid, but why would that be such a huge problem? And why did they keep talking like Jules was their five-year-old?
“He’s always struck me as a good guy. I want this to work. You didn’t see his face.” Derek needed to stop playing the pronoun game and use more fucking words. Whose face? Who was the good guy? Was I the good guy? What did he want to work? Were they adopting a kid? Were they adopting Jules?

My mind was starting to skip down a rabbit hole, so I finally gave up and came around the door into the office. “If you guys are naked again I’m not going to apologize.”

I figured I probably shouldn’t let them know I’d been eavesdropping.

Derek giggled. “I’m hot. I’m not worried.”

He was hot, crazy, and an exhibitionist. It was an interesting combination. And one I was grateful not to have to deal with on a daily basis. Being friends with the guy was one thing, but when I dated someone, I wanted sweet, nerdy, and no drama.

On paper that seemed to be Jules, aside from the playing hide-and-go-seek thing.

But I didn’t mind a guy who liked games as long as he wasn’t insane. I could role-play as good as the next guy, but I didn’t want to deal with high maintenance. Jules had never struck me as the crazy type, though, just painfully shy.

However, after hearing some of their weird conversation, I wasn’t so sure.

“I’m pleading the fifth on that one since I work for your Daddy over there.” I grinned when Sean groaned. Their relationship was a bit interesting, but he was the protest-too-much type, so I knew they were up to something just a little kinky.

But everyone had something interesting hidden away in their life and they seemed to be happy, so it wasn’t my business.

“Daddy’s not the jealous type, are you?” Derek aimed his wickedly innocent look at Sean which had Sean looking like they were seconds away from getting naked again.

“And this is probably how you guys ended up fucking in here last time.” I narrowed my gaze at both of them. “The rule was no one gets naked at work.”

Who knew that kind of a rule was necessary in this day and age?

Sean blushed, which was really funny, but Derek sighed dramatically and just curled into him. “I know. We’re being good. I actually stopped by to have a chat with you.”

And now we were getting to the good part.

“What’s up?” I leaned against the doorway and did my best to look nonchalant. I must have gotten it right because neither one of them raised an eyebrow, but that could have been because Derek was too busy looking guilty and Sean was too busy staring lovingly at Derek.

Derek sighed again, clearly ready to launch into drama mode, and he couldn’t seem to decide if he wanted to straighten or stay curled into Sean. He finally seemed to give up wiggling and just stayed next to his lover, so whatever was going on, I had a feeling Derek wanted the support.

This was getting weird.

But Jules liked my tattoos, so I could deal with weird long enough to figure out what else he might like about me.

“Well, I wanted to talk to you about my roommate Jules. You know him from the library?” Derek smiled, looking like he was barely holding back the teasing I knew wanted to pop out. But he behaved himself.

It was highly suspicious.

“Yeah, our paths have crossed a few times.” Like dozens, but always fleeting.

Derek’s grin widened, but again, he behaved himself. Whatever he was going to tell me must have been important to him if he was holding himself back like that because it looked almost painful for him. Verbal restraint was not his strong suit.

“He’s a bit shy, but he’s interested in you. I’m assuming you are as well?” Derek said it like the question was perfectly normal, but I had a flashback of sending do you like me notes in school.

Jules was clearly shy, that much was obvious, but for Derek to intervene when we were all adults said there must be something else going on or they just had a weird relationship.
Okay, it was probably both.

Time to put up or shut up. I knew Jules was interested. No matter how shy a guy was, eventually he’d give off the go away, freak vibe if he really thought I was just a biker with no brain. But Jules had never made me feel that way. I thought his shyness was kind of cute.

“Yeah, I am.” I glanced between the two of them. “This is where you’re going to fill in some of the blanks like why he’s been avoiding me?”

Derek nodded and I could see Sean hugging him tighter. Why did Derek need moral support? He looked like some kind of helicopter parent who was about ready to send their kid to kindergarten on the first day.

“Yes. But I’d like your word that what I’m going to tell you will go no further than the three of us, especially if you’re not interested after our discussion.” Derek’s stern expression and serious tone made it clear how important it was to him.

Nodding, I tried to brace myself for whatever he was going to say. “Deal.”

No matter if Jules had kids or was some kind of alien, I wouldn’t react and let Derek see what I was thinking. I could be professional and keep shit to myself, but I wasn’t going to blow our friendship on an immediate reaction to something when I should’ve thought before I spoke.

I could avoid the library after this if I needed to, but avoiding Derek would be almost impossible, and he was the type to hold a grudge.

Derek glanced up at Sean who gave a barely perceptible nod. It was getting weirder and weirder, but I kept my body language casual and my face utterly blank except for mild curiosity. Derek leaned back into Sean and focused on me. “He’s into age play. He’s not just looking for a date or casual hookup, he’s looking for a Daddy.”

I knew just by the look on his face he didn’t mean something teasing where they were getting kinky about the age difference. I’d stuck my toe in the BDSM world, but during my quick exploration, I hadn’t met anyone into that side of the lifestyle.

“What are the top characteristics of a Daddy?” I knew the question surprised him, but I wasn’t going to get in over my head again or start things off with someone when I knew it wouldn’t work. I wasn’t wired for a lot of the BDSM that other people seemed to like.

A bit of rough porn where it was all fake was one thing, but I was too much of a mush to do the stuff…well, yeah, I was a softie. Pushing back the memories that wanted to resurface, I focused on the moment. I was going to give myself nightmares again if I wasn’t careful.

Derek blinked several times but eventually answered my question without pointing out how odd it was. “Different people would have a variety of answers, but I can only tell you what I think based on how Jules sees the lifestyle.”

“That’s understandable.” When he took a second to gather his thoughts, I tried to mentally bring up everything I knew. Some of the comments I’d overheard earlier were starting to make more sense, but I wasn’t sure if the picture in my head was accurate or not.

How accurate was porn?

I’d stumbled down the rabbit hole a few times. Who hadn’t? One thing led to another and suddenly you were like Alice in Wonderland and were trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. But my own personal fantasies had always been kind of vanilla and tender.

Mush. I was a mush.

“Daddies are caretakers—like the ultimate caretakers in BDSM. Their relationships with their littles can vary widely, but they’re watching over and taking care of their partner because their partner’s favorite way to let go is to role-play about being younger. A Daddy is caring and loving and guides their partner and finds ways to let them fully enjoy being little.” He glanced up at Sean questioningly.

Sean nodded, but instead of staying quiet like I’d expected, he chimed in. “Daddies set boundaries and give support, and sometimes littles push those boundaries. Testing the limits lets them know that their Dom is really watching out for them and makes them feel safe. Sometimes they need time-outs and punishments like spankings, but like any BDSM relationship, things like spankings might just be for fun too.”

Okay, he’d clearly been researching the lifestyle.

I wasn’t going to ask why, but I had a feeling he had at least a little bit of firsthand experience with Jules in his…role…persona…whatever it was called. “What did you think at first?”
Sean smiled. “I like taking care of people, so while it’s not my thing, I get it. If you look at it really logically, it’s an easy way to explore BDSM using skills most people already have without it being overwhelming.”

Skills people already had… “Skills like…?”

Derek gave me another long look, but I just kept my expression neutral, so he finally gave in. “Things like making bottles and sippy cups and making them appropriate food. Um, making sure they have toys and even playing with them.”

I knew there were probably a lot of things he left off that list, but I’d babysat enough when I was younger that I could fill in some of the blanks. And now the comments about the Legos really made more sense.

Jules had evidently been very naughty lately.

“Is this a casual thing or…” I let my question trail off when Derek shook his head.

“No, he has a playroom at the apartment and he’s little several times a week at least. He’s really shy with people he doesn’t know and sometimes he’s easily overwhelmed. It’s his favorite way to decompress.” Derek was starting to look more relaxed about the whole conversation, and as he spoke, it was like he was explaining that Jules liked to knit or something.

I guessed there were stranger or more self-destructive ways people relaxed.

“So he’s not just looking for someone to date; this is serious for him. Like his partner wouldn’t just be his friend and lover, they’d be his Daddy too?” It wasn’t exactly a question, but Derek seemed to understand I needed the confirmation that I understood where it was all going.

“Yes, he’s not the casual type.” Derek gave me another searching look. “He’s not going to get serious with someone who can’t understand the lifestyle. It just wouldn’t work.”
I tried to think of what I knew about lifestyles like that. I was starting to wish I’d explored more novels with BDSM in them. “Because it’s not just a kink that he finds interesting, it’s…it’s part of him?”

As Derek nodded, I still wasn’t sure what to say. My personal fantasies had always leaned toward sweet and Hallmark perfect. Sure, I knew the tattoos didn’t exactly advertise that fact, but I’d just figured my Mr. Right would be able to see past that.

Could Jules?

But what about the age play?

“Does he like movies?”

I was thinking like regular date answers to that question, but I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at Derek’s answer. “We watch a lot of Disney.”

So maybe we’d pick something different for a first date. It was the wrong time of year for good animated movies.

“But there would be times someone in that kind of relationship would be…little and times where they would be more typical dating adults, right?” I had a feeling my evening plans had dramatically changed unless Netflix had a section of kinky romance movies I hadn’t discovered yet.

“Yes.” Derek seemed to be waiting for me to vomit my thoughts all over the room, but when I stayed silent, he kept going. “Getting to know someone on regular dates is a good way to start, but the little part doesn’t go away just because you’re not seeing it.”

“But you’re seeing it? You’re…what, his Daddy and his friend?” If Jules spent enough time little at their apartment to need a playroom, that meant Derek was more than his friend. Right?
Derek shrugged. “Honorary uncle, maybe? We don’t have a name for it, but yeah, our friendship isn’t typical.”

“But you’re not involved? You’re not dating or doing…” I wasn’t sure how to ask the question, but were the three of them a thing since Sean had clearly seen Jules little too? How many people would I be seeing if we went out?

Derek giggled. “No, we overshare and stuff, but he’s always liked bad boys with a sweet, gooey center.”

I was not a candy bar.

“Okay.” I knew I had a lot to think about, but of all the things that would’ve been deal breakers for me, the age play didn’t seem to be one of them.

“I’m done here, boss.” I straightened and nodded toward Sean who was trying not to laugh at another one of Derek’s dramatic sighs. “You should probably see a doctor about that breathing. You might have asthma.”

Then, as Sean lost the fight and started to laugh, I inclined my head. “I’ll see you next week.”

I headed out the door, but Derek called out, sounding a bit pissed. “What do I tell Jules, asshole?”

Even though I was grinning, I was facing away, so all he probably saw was my shrug as I responded. “Not to avoid me in the library anymore.”

It was going to be an interesting weekend.

The Only Way to Love by MA Innes - Gay Romance Ebook Cover

Flirting with the tattooed hottie who comes into the library is fun, but Jules knows it will take more than patience and a warm smile to be a good Daddy.

Jules realizes he can’t keep sending mixed signals to the tempting bad boy who keeps hanging around, but he’s not sure how to go about taking things to the next level. Everything in Jules is screaming out that Frank is the perfect Daddy Dom even though they’ve technically never met. But a man who loves romance novels and teases the little old ladies at the library has to be as perfect as he seems…right?

Frank has a thing for smart guys, but with his tattoos and rough looks, most sweet men run the opposite direction. But not Jules. He runs, but never too far or for too long. Frank knows the teasing librarian that peeks at him around corners is nervous, but are his fears about Frank or is the shy librarian with the beautiful smile hiding something?

Story Contains: M/m sexual content, age play, ABDL, BDSM elements, spankings, a technically innocent MC who loves dirty talk, and a very confused mechanic.

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