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The Best of 2013

The Afternoon Circle Jerk Society
by Amanda Earl

Beating the Gothic Out of Her
by Amanda Earl

Real Irish
by Amanda Earl

Mercy and the Man. . .
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The Revenant
by Amanda Earl

The Vessel
by Amanda Earl

The Too Beautiful Boy
by Arthur Chappell

The Accidental Fetish
by Corvidae

Never For Punishment
by Daddy X

Like a Brother
by Big Ed Magusson

Old Dogs
by Big Ed Magusson

Goodbye Roger
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He Sends His Regrets
by Huck Pilgrim

A Small Favor
by Huck Pilgrim

Ava's Honey
by john e

LOX
by john e

Eclipse Sex
by Oxartes

Adam and Eve on a Raft
by Robert Buckley

Dead Man's Switch
by Robert Buckley

Does Immortality come with a Pension?
by Robert Buckley

Embraceable Ewe
by Robert Buckley

A Fragile Desire
by Robert Buckley

Surviving Winter
by Robert Buckley

You're the Only One
by Robert Buckley

Dissolve
by Sybil Rush

Bing Cherry Silk
by Valentine Bonnaire

Colony, Collapsed
by Valentine Bonnaire

Have a Nice Day
by Valentine Bonnaire

l'heure bleue
by Valentine Bonnaire

Once Upon A Time . . .
by Valentine Bonnaire

Red Suede
by Valentine Bonnaire

Yellow, like the daffodils
by Valentine Bonnaire

Novelette

Invisible Lines
by Raziel Moore



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Curtain
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Slick 50
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Stolen Hour


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Daddy Complex
The Graffiti Artist
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What Never Dies
Newborn
Remembering
Surrender


By Big Ed Magusson
The Fix
Methadone


By Brady Sutton
Girls for Leash
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by C. Sanchez-Garcia
An Early Winter Train
The Doll
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Riding the Dog
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By Cervo
An Evening At...
Readiness Is All
Chinchilla Lace
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Bitsy Takes a Test
Touring Persephone
Are You Kidding?
Quigley’s Harvest
Mr. Merridawn's Hum
Angels’ Spawn


By Cherry Black
Mrs. Priestly
Face Down
Just A Simple Black Dress


By Chris Bridges
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Nikki Didn't Like It
Overscratch
A Woman in My Position


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Drillers
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By G. E. Russell
Judgement Day
Nebulous
First Love, Last Romance
Snow White
This Desolate Eden
The Glass Cage
You Like It Like That...


By Helen E. H. Madden
When The Angels Fall
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Neighbor of the Beast
Over the Rainbow
Going Viral
Virtual Love


By Helena Settimana
Balance
Highway 69
Amadou
The Space Between


By J.T. Benjamin
The Question
Thornburg Sex Survey
Alternating Weekend
Secret Lives and Lusts
What are Friends For
Olivia's Ulterior Motive
Advice From Miss Millicent
The Baby Doll
The Journals of Chastity
Use Me
Zachary's Perfect Date


By Jill
Kidnapped
Sheila Discusses ...
It's About Sex
A House On Fire?
Maureen and Sheila...


By john e
I Wish My Dick...
johnny's jackoff journal
Saturday Morning


By Julius
In Praise of Pussy
Tight, Tighter, Tightest
You Rang Madam?
The Newcomer


By Juniper Maclay
Lunch Break
The Scientist
Public Transportation


By Keziah Hill
Laying Down the Law
Strawberry Flavoured Joy
The Second Coming
Angel
Dutch Masters


By L.A. Smith
Missionary Position
Both Hands


By Lara Nickles
Almost
Hero


By Lilie Berlin
Naughty Little Girl
Color Less Ordinary


By Mike Kimera
Kneading
Soft Option
At the Adult Bookstore
Postcard
Playing With Barney
Deserving Ruth
Till Death Do Us Part
Happy Anniversary
Mating Calls
It May Not be Art...
Living With It...
The Last Taboo
Hand-Jobs
Fucking Ugly
Paying For It
Sex with Owen
Ask Alice
The Sisters
Bar Snack

Debt of Honor
© 2003 by Tulsa Brown



At eleven p.m.  that September Thursday, I was waiting inside my darkened shop, leaning on a rack of leather jackets, watching the street.  My stomach was tight and my skin tingled, more anticipation than I usually felt over a ‘night job.'

I'd had a lot of those, custom work for men who kept odd hours or a low profile.  I was well known in biker circles because my shop, Leather Highway, specialized in chaps, gauntlets and other road gear.  But I'd never feared even the roughest customers.  They treated me well and paid on time, in cash.  They liked my work and being 6'2 and 242 pounds didn't hurt, either.  That was considered ‘business acumen.'

Tonight, though, I wasn't waiting for bikers.

"This is hot stuff, Brick," Del had said, his voice hushed with a greasy kind of glee. "And you can charge whatever you want.  Perverts pay anything."

Great.  I didn't want sickos, and I'd told him as much.

"No, no, I didn't mean it like that.  It's just, you know...discreet.  Come on.  The guy needs design work and I told him you were a fucking artist." He grinned. "It'll get your engine running."

That stung.  My ‘engine' had been idling for over a year, while I'd worked seven days a week to build my new business.

"All right," I told Del.

Now I scanned the empty sidewalk intently, body humming with the vigilance of doubt.  What had I set myself up for? Well, one thing was certain: I had a Loss Prevention Device under the counter.  Anyone planning to rip off my shop was going to meet that Louisville Slugger in a profound and meaningful way.

Movement in the distance made me look.  For an instant I was too surprised to be alarmed.

There were three of them, not one.  The well-heeled man I'd been expecting was leading two others, each draped in a long, grey cloak with a hood.  The capes fluttered in the evening wind but didn't open, a wavy lilt of fabric that looked ethereal under the neon.  One of the pair was distinctly smaller and shorter, yet they were walking in step with haunting accuracy, two travelers marching from some distant time to this.

They stopped at my door.  The man saw me through the glass but tapped his knuckle on it anyway, a courtesy he reinforced with a faint smile.  I let them in, my heart running.

The only light I'd left on was in the cutting room behind me, and I regretted it now.  With their heads bowed, the hooded pair easily kept their faces in shadow, a bad trait in people I hadn't been expecting at all.

"Mr.  Arnason, thank you for seeing me on such short notice," the man said.

Shouldn't it be ‘us'? I wondered.

"Call me Brick," I said. "My mother did."

His face brightened at the quip, and he held out his hand. "Good to meet you, Brick.  My mother called me Ken, among other things."

As we shook hands, the taller figure raised his head, stealing a glance at me.  The face caught me like the ray of a strobe: a handsome young man in eyeliner so thick he looked like an Egyptian hieroglyph.

Then Ken started towards the lit room and the pair followed abruptly, as if pulled by a single tether.  I waffled for a moment—what the hell was under those cloaks and should I take Loss Prevention with me? But curiosity had its deep hook in me now, and hunger always outran risk.

My cutting room was small, crowded and warm.  The walls were a beehive of diamond-shaped cubbies, the hides rolled up inside.  There was one chair and a work counter of gleaming blades, but the room was dominated by the huge table I used for cutting patterns, its polished surface big enough to play snooker on.  I'd eaten macaroni and cheese for a month to pay for that oak beauty.

My lighting was good, too.  Under the 100-watt tracks, I saw that Ken was a trim man in his late fifties, with dark, close-cropped hair turning gunmetal grey.  His rimless glasses were more severe than the blue eyes behind them, and his black car coat seemed to cover a bristling energy, the body of a man consciously holding himself still.

"I don't know what Del told you," he began

"Nothing at all."

"All right.  I'm attending a conference in a few weeks, and I need outfits for my slaves, to display them to their best advantage." Slaves.  The word lapped at me like a tongue.  I'd half-suspected something like this from the moment I'd seen their long capes, but I wasn't prepared for the deep tremor I felt, hearing it out loud.  Then reason thumped me in the chest.

"Listen, before we go on, I need ­"

"To know these are adults, participating of their own free will?" Ken asked.

I was going to answer Yes, but the smaller cowl hood lifted, revealing a woman's heart-shaped face.  Her brown eyes were ringed in kohl and full of dancing mischief.  One fluttered in a wink: come play.

That was enough for me.

"I need you to define ‘best advantage,'" I said.

Ken smiled at my turnabout, accepting it gracefully. "That which accents their submissive state, while enhancing their natural attributes."

"Did you have anything specific in mind?"

"Del said you were an artist, so I brought you blank canvasses."

Ken turned, and an electric quiver of attention ran over the two figures.  He swiftly unlatched hidden clasps in their robe fronts, first for one slave, then the other.  At last he stepped behind them and pulled off both cloaks with a sweeping flourish.

"This is my Eric, and my little Kat—Katrina."

She was little, an inch or two over five feet, and the shock of her nakedness kicked my engine into second gear.  She had long brown hair pulled up into a high ponytail, nothing to hide the small, round breasts that thrust forward like an offering.  Her nipples were spread even wider by the arch of her spine and position of her hands, which were clasped behind her back.  She had soft, sloping hips and a pear-shaped ass, two servings of plump, perfect fruit.  Her pubic hair was shaved into a demure stripe, accented by a postage stamp of a g-string.  Kat's eyes were lowered discreetly, but a smile lingered on her painted lips, as if she was still tasting her saucy invitation.

Nothing was discreet about Eric.  He was smaller-boned than me, and beamed sleek animal health from his compact, well-formed muscles.  His body had been shaved, except for a dark ribbon from his jutting pouch to his navel, and the brown hair on his head was bleached at the edges, bright frosting with dark shadows.  Added to the whore's eyeliner, the result was unmistakable: a handsome man had been made pretty.

And he was fully aware of it.  His hazel eyes held me boldly, mouth crumpled in a smirk, an insolent challenge simmering with sex and defiance.

Smack! Ken's hand caught Eric across the cheek, swift and certain redress.  The young man blinked in surprise, then quickly dropped his eyes.  But a whisper of the grin still held—he wasn't sorry, only chastened.  I watched the pink mark come up on his skin, the distinctive ring of the slap still reverberating in the deep caverns of my body.  I was perplexed and alarmed and excited.

Ken turned to me amiably. "All right, Brick, where do we start?"

There wasn't enough floor space to spread out, so I suggested Kat and Eric get onto the cutting table ­ without their boots, of course.  They unlaced, then clambered up and waited obediently, hands clasped behind their heads.  I gathered a few skins of black garment leather and a handful of cowhide straps, the kind I used for belts.  I hoisted my big frame up, too, awkward and bearish, but left my shoes on.  It was my table, dammit.

I don't know where the ideas came from.  I'd seen things in magazines and on the internet, but never thought about them after the page was turned.  Yet something must have been brewing in my subconscious, because on that tabletop my imagination took an abrupt turn down a dark, sinuous road.

"I'm seeing a collar," I said, wrapping a band of leather around Eric's neck and securing it with masking tape. "Straps over the shoulders, connecting to a chest band, which connects with more straps down to the codpiece.  Every length could be decorated with half-inch silver studs."

Ken was relaxing in a chair below us. "Excellent.  It reminds me of a harness."

I nodded. "I'll attach a steel ring to the chest-piece, front and back, for a tether.  And here's an idea." I turned the young man and laid a strip of black leather above the tight, round globes of his buttocks. "A flank brace.  If I made leather cuffs with latch-hooks, they could connect to a ring here, securing his wrists behind him."

It was very warm on that table.  I had one hand on Eric's flat abdomen, holding him steady, and the other pinning the black strap above his ass, for effect.  I handled him deftly, like a mason working mortar, yet I was completely aware of his hot, firm flesh under my touch.

So was he.  I could hear his shallow breaths, saw the excitement swelling in his scanty g-string.  He smelled of sweat and leather—my leather.  The stirring below my own belt was so abrupt I turned away.

"For Kat, we only need to make a few alterations," I said.  Trying not to tremble, I wrapped a strip of cabretta beneath her pert breasts, which pushed them up like a half-bra.  She was so small under my big hands it was like dressing a doll.  I dropped to one knee and draped another soft skin on the outside of her shapely leg.  The gleam of the black hide, the closeness of her exquisite ass to my mouth, thrust my growing hard-on painfully against my zipper.

"And chaps for both of them, secured down the leg by buckled straps."

"Brick, you're a genius! I love it.  Work up a quote for me."

I eased off the table, dizzy with my own heat, trying to hide my bulging crotch.  As I scratched out numbers on a pad, I heard Ken snap his fingers.  Eric and Kat shed their makeshift costumes and scrambled down to kneel on the floor, one on either side of his chair.  From the corner of my eye, I saw him touch each of them affectionately, tugging Kat's silky ponytail, stroking Eric's cheek.  The young man turned his head to kiss the palm that had struck him.

I felt seized, shot through with lust and longing.  Until then we'd been four people playing a tantalizing game.  Ken's tender possessiveness was beyond dress-up, and so was their devotion.  There was something real here, out of my reach, and I churned with unfamiliar envy.

On a surge of spite, I added a "1" in front of the total.  Hadn't Del said this guy was rich?

Ken took the paper from me, and blinked.  He turned a little pale. "Oh.  Oh, damn.  Would you consider payments?"

I was too surprised to speak.

"It's not unreasonable, really.  I love your ideas and this is worth every penny to me, but I...we've had some expenses lately." He glanced down at Kat and touched her hair. "Wisdom teeth.  We really need a dental plan."

I felt small in that room, lashed by regret.  On impulse I bent over my sheet of calculations and circled another number, what I knew was my cost for materials.

"Here," I said. "I'll do it for this."

He blustered and argued, and so did I, insisting that he'd be good advertising for me at the conference.  At last he agreed, but as they were buttoning up to leave, Ken clasped me in a warm handshake.

"This is very good of you, Brick.  And these beauties might know a way to say Thank You."

"Oh, no, that's not ­"

"Just think about it." He tilted his head and smiled. "It wouldn't be a hardship for them.  You had my little Kat purring up on that table, and Eric, well, he likes the big boys."

I let them out and locked up.  The path to my empty apartment was so familiar there should have been a rut in the concrete.

I wasn't a machine with an engine, I was a bear clawing out from a long hibernation, awake and ravenous.  In the dark safety of my bed I lived it all again, the velvet heat of their bodies, the scent of aroused sweat, the thrilling shock of the slap.  My cock was an urgent pole, an arm with its own fist.  I stroked it and summoned the two slaves to my bed, fully outfitted in black leather and silver studs.  I claimed them like a warrior king, rutted and rode them—his insolent mouth, her plump ripeness, bent each under my burning will...

I thought I'd have to clean the ceiling.

Friday morning Del showed up at my counter, leaning and leering.

"So? So? What happened?"

"Nothing.  He didn't show."

"What!? That asshole." Del's disappointment flipped over abruptly. "Hey, don't get pissed at me.  I don't even know the guy!"

I bit my cheek to keep from smiling.

The job had become a debt of honor to me.  Regardless of the final price, I'd tried to cheat the man and that thought weighed on me.  Each day I waited until the shop was closed, then laid out the hides and tools with the care of a ritual.  I cut from the center of each skin—the best, most expensive strip—and tossed pieces away for so much as a misplaced needle-mark.  Eric and Kat would wear my finest work.

All the while my mind meandered down that sinuous path.  How had Ken started such a life and how did he keep it? He wasn't a big man, and certainly not swimming in money.  Yet his every movement held Kat and Eric in thrall.  I wondered about his offer, and if he'd meant it.  I wondered if both slaves slept in his bed.

It took ten days to finish the work.  I dialed Ken's number, fingers damp on the receiver.

"Excellent," he said. "Do you want me to come to the shop, or would you like to bring the outfits to our house?" His voice shifted. "Eric and Kat could try them on."

My heart was thudding lightly above my collarbone. "I'll bring them by," I said.

I went home and showered.  I trimmed my moustache but didn't shave, thinking of their smooth skin and liking the shadow on my own.  Sandpaper.  I dressed and pulled on the leather chaps and custom road jacket I hadn't worn in months and months.  Then I went down into the parking garage, to greet an old and neglected love.

"Daddy's home," I whispered to my Harley Davidson Softail Deuce.

I tucked my debt of honor into the two saddle bags and rode into the gathering dusk.

I hadn't spent much time in suburbia.  It took me awhile to find the place, at the far end of winding crescent, next to a park.  The neighborhood was about thirty years old, like me, homes built at a time when land was cheaper and even the working Joe got a generous yard with his shingles.  As I parked the Softail on the gravel drive, I was struck by the anonymous privacy of the place, a bungalow like any other.

Ken looked genuinely pleased to see me, but he resisted opening the Leather Highway bags I held out.

"Don't be offended.  I just really want to see them on, for the full effect.  And we'll have to wait a bit.  Both Kat and Eric are late."

"Late?"

"Well, Kat's in class—community college.  She went back as a mature student.  We're both so proud of her.  And Eric's still at work.  He installs drywall for a contractor."

How strange it was to imagine those naked, painted slaves in class or taping drywall! Yet at the same time, it nailed the fantasy to the earth.  This was real.

Ken ushered me into the living room.  In a glance I saw that it had been decorated with good taste ten years ago.  Now the functional, well-worn furnishings were the mark of a man who didn't entertain or who didn't give a shit, or who put his money into what truly mattered.  I admired all three possibilities.

"Can I get you a drink?" he asked.

"Sure.  Whisky, if you have it."

Ken's voice had a wry twist to it. "By a stroke of luck and poverty, that's all I have."

I liked him.  He was at ease in his own skin, a comfort that swept aside the decades between us.  Yet this time he also seemed older.  Out of the black car coat, he was smaller than I'd thought, not frail but...distilled.

Ken was back with my drink, luminous amber in a short glass.  He looked my leather garb up and down, then grinned.

"My God, Brick.  You were already a hit.  This time I'll have to use the crop to keep them off you."

"Does that happen...much?"

He hesitated, the canny silence of a man who saw me through my clothes.

"It happens as often as it needs to.  You have to remember that physical discipline isn't punishment with us, it's attention.  I use it to stimulate, to draw a slave's awareness to his body, and my dominance over it.  I use it to define boundaries, and yes, for my own arousal.  But mainly it's attention, because that's where a slave is truly alive ­ in the master's concentrated gaze.  If I wanted to ‘punish' Kat, I'd send her out shopping or to the movies, while I spent time with Eric."

I was leaning forward in my chair, fascinated, a low hum vibrating up from the base of my spine.

"Also, each slave is different," Ken continued. "With Kat, the arena will always be emotional.  That's partly because of her nature and partly because of her physiology.  She's just so small, it would be easy to brutalize her.  And brutality isn't discipline, any more than strength is power." He grinned. "And don't think she doesn't know it! Her size is her beauty, and her weapon."

"And Eric?"

"A different creature altogether.  He's a much more physical slave, and more advanced.  That's a challenge because the master has to be three steps ahead.  What did I do yesterday? How can I surprise him today, and still answer his needs?" Ken's voice softened. "At the table of pleasure, the master serves the slave first."

The words rang inside me. "That's...  a responsibility," I said.

"More than you know," he murmured.  His gaze drifted to the darkened window, as if watching for them to come up the drive.  But there was only the reflection of his own face, thoughtful and drawn.

In a moment he turned. "Does this mean you're accepting my offer?" My heart leapt. "Yes."

"Well, let's go down to the playroom and wait for them there."

Ken left a note with the bags and I followed him to the basement.  The playroom was simple, carpeted open space and a few accessories.  Two large rings hung from the ceiling, set at different heights.  There was a king-size bed, and a rack of crops on the wall.  Without thinking, I reached out to touch one of the stiff, braided handles and Ken appeared at my side, cordial but alert.

"It takes practice," he began, then laid out the ground rules.  For safety's sake, he would handle the crops, then leave us to privacy at my signal.

Kat and Eric came home within minutes of each other.  I listened to their footsteps and the seductive murmur of their voices above me, my body awake, palms growing damp.  At last they came down.

I'd been imagining this for ten days, yet I was unprepared for the raw current of desire that rushed through me.  They were harnessed like horses, a diminutive mare and a fine stallion, bare skin fettered and glorified by the combination of studs, straps and chaps.  My handiwork.

"My God, Brick," Ken's voice was hushed with an awe. "They're...a vision.  Absolutely perfect." He caught himself and the cool detachment returned. "Why don't you display them for me?"

"My pleasure."

I shrugged off my leather jacket, the tight grey t-shirt underneath revealing my broad torso and powerful arms, an upper body that could bench press 300 pounds.  Dark hair swirled in flat patterns on my forearms, and crept out at the collar of my shirt, not shaggy, but definitely bearish.

I heard Kat inhale at the sight.  It made me bold.

"Eric, wait on the ring."

I motioned Kat toward me and she came, trembling faintly.  With a firm grip on her pony tail, I tilted her head back until she connected with my gaze, beaming down a full foot above her.  Her brown eyes were liquid and I drank them, heat igniting in my belly and balls.  I could have taken her to bed at that moment, but I remembered: serve the slave first.  I turned her around and swiftly snapped the latch-hooks of her cuffs to her flank ring, which secured her hands and thrust her breasts forward.

"My goal," I said to Ken, "was accessibility.  These garments shouldn't impede you in any way.  The bra is a perfect example."

I reached into the right cup and nudged up her nipple, which had been hidden beneath the leather.  I rolled it between my strong fingers, gently, then with increasing pressure, until it was a hard bud.  I tweaked it abruptly and she gasped, a breath of surprise and pleasure and pain.  Ken nodded his approval.

Dropping to one knee, I bent Kat's little body over my jutting thigh.  I reached under her collarbone with my right arm, a loose embrace that gave her something to lean forward on.

"You'll notice how the chaps follow the curve of her ass," I said, tracing the heart-shaped line around swell of her cheeks.

Snap! Snap! His crop flicked out with the skill of a marksman and Kat twisted suddenly against my leg.  That movement and the pink stripe on each plump curve thrust me to full erection.

I unhooked the single thong of her g-string, baring the cleft between her legs.

"Complete convenience," I murmured, my breath thickening. "She is always available." My fingers opened her sex lips, which were rapidly becoming slick.  I nudged one finger forward to her clit, teasing the firm head with feathery caresses.  She moaned in her throat, breath hot against my hairy arm, and spread her legs wide, trying to thrust her hips higher.

Still coaxing her clit, I eased my wide thumb into her wet cunt.  She began to rock back and forth, as much movement as her bound arms would allow, a slow, strained finger fuck.  Ken was flicking her lightly with the crop again, on the buttocks and the bare spaces of her inner thighs.  Occasionally he caught my wrist or forearm and the light, tantalizing sting inflamed me.  Love bites.

But I could hardly bear it, this moist, moaning woman bent over my knee.  I withdrew from her wetness and eased her swaying body upright.  I stood abruptly, thrusting her over my big shoulder, and Kat let go a startled cry.  I carried her to the bed like a choice prize of war.

"Wait," I said, as if she could have done anything else.

"Yes, lord."

The words stroked my deep, silent self.  I stripped off my t-shirt, and unzipped to relieve the pressure on my throbbing cock.  The white of my underwear pushed through the opening as I strode over to the more physical slave.

Ken was already waiting, eyes shining, a new crop in his hand.  Eric clung to the ceiling ring with both hands, face trapped between his own biceps.  His smoky eyes ran over my dark, naked chest and bulging crotch, excitement wiping away any trace of insolence.  I trailed my fingers in a tease over his bare skin, following the lines of his harness, reminding him of every strap.  His erection strained against the soft leather of his codpiece.  On a whim, I held up my palm and he kissed it, his reverent lips sending a shivering thrill down to my balls.

"Hang on tight," I said.

I moved to the side of him, placed one hand firmly on his abdomen, and hooked two strong fingers through the steel circle on his flank brace.  With a powerful pull I swung his lower body back and up, lifting his feet right off the floor.  The veins in my arms bulged as I held him, suspended between the ceiling ring and my powerful grip, while Ken delivered nine stripes to his tight buttocks.  Even in my trembling effort, I was fascinated by the process and Ken's skill—how much and how hard.  When I set Eric down again, he was panting, and so was I.

Ken caught my eye and I nodded.  Yes, I wanted to be alone with them.  Now.

"Strip, and come to bed," I said to Eric.  I unhooked Kat's cuffs and told her to do the same.  With a swift tug, I released the belt of my chaps and peeled off the jeans and leather as one.  There was a breath of stunned silence as both slaves paused to stare.  My cock rose up from its swarthy nest like a brute, an animal with its own urgent life, as thick as Kat's wrist.  The engorged head had swollen to a taut bell, pre-cum glistening on the hungry, darkened flesh.

"Holy shit," Kat whispered, forgetting herself.

"Bed," was all I said.

At that table of pleasure, they ate me alive.  Whatever command I thought I'd had of my body vanished under their hot mouths and eager hands.  They'd been trained to serve together and I was overtaken by the double force, strength and softness stroking me to blind, furious need.  More than once I had to pause, gasping, afraid I'd shoot my load all over the sheets.  They grinned at each other.  They were the masters here.

I finally came, Kat's legs clamped tightly around my hips while Eric cupped my balls and gnawed at the back of my neck.  The deep, shuddering pleasure shook me in waves, pulled bass moans from the center of my belly as I jetted what seemed like the whole hungry year into their tight embrace.

And then it was terrible.  I lay in languid bliss, one arm cradling each of them, Eric sucking dreamily on a nipple while Kat played with the hair on my chest.  In that moment I knew exactly how big the hole in my life was now, the tiny darkness they'd stretched into a gaping chasm.

I tore myself away like a band-aid, dressed with my back to them, and felt their surprised, hurt silence follow me to the stairs.

"We tried," Eric blurted.

I paused, my hand on the doorframe. "That was the best," I said softly.  I slipped out of the house like a thief.

Ken was waiting outside, leaning against a tree by my motorcycle, smoking a cigarillo.  I was a man with my soul blown open.  What the hell could I say?

"Thank you." "We're the ones who should be grateful.  You did amazing work and you were more than fair ­"

"No," I cut him off. "I wasn't."

Ken listened silently as I told him the truth, how I'd bumped the price and why.  Jealousy is a hard thing to admit, but finally I felt the debt lift from my shoulders.

He was smiling faintly. "How about that.  There's an honorable man left in this country." Then, "You don't envy me, Brick."

I felt the quiet words register, not sad but resigned, and the revelation opened up inside me.  In my mind's eye, I saw his tired reflection in the window again.

"What...is it?"

"Oh," he took a breath, "the big C.  My stomach's half gone.  Bowels, intestine, spleen; they're on their way." His smile was bitter. "It's a race now."

Words and images were clicking into place.  I tried to blurt out how sorry I was, but Ken held up his hand.

"Please.  Old Doms are maudlin enough." That was his reason for attending the conference, he explained. "I'm a sentimental SOB.  I was going to...shop for them.  Someone who would keep them together, and be what they need.  Strong, sexy.  Honorable."

The word hung in the air like his cigar smoke.

"How long?" I asked.

"Nine months, a year, maybe longer.  I'm pretty obstinate." His voice shifted. "You could be ready in six.  You're a natural, and I'm a good teacher."

I deliberated for a full three seconds, then seized his hand in a warm grasp. "I don't know what to say."

He grinned. "That you can start tomorrow."

"I won't be late."

The night was a new thing and I roared into it like a rich man, a warrior king on a Softail Deuce.




© 2003 Tulsa Brown.  All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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