If It Fornicates (Market Garden, #4)
L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
“Oh, ow, that stings,” Richard hissed. His welt-covered back flinched away from Nick’s touch.
“I know it does.” Nick kept his voice gentle. “Just relax. It’ll help.” He continued smoothing lotion onto the sub’s scourged flesh.
Richard didn’t quite relax. He was still new at this, still hadn’t gotten used to that burn in his skin when he started coming out of subspace and his nerve endings remembered what they did for a living.
“Is that really necessary?”
“It is if you want to be able to wear a shirt or lean on anything tomorrow, yes.” Nick capped the lotion bottle and put it aside. Then he set his hands—lightly, of course—on the lotion-slicked skin, and made more smooth, gentle circles over the welts. He grinned over his handiwork; he always did love the cool patterns a cat-o’-nine-tails left on a sub’s back. Made his masochistic clients so much more fun and interesting than the regular “fuck me and I’ll pay you” johns.
His grin faded, and he kept rubbing the lotion on, but with less enthusiasm. His muscles ached a little from swinging the flogger, but mostly he was just tired. That kind of bone-deep tired that hit the mind harder than the body. Less like he’d fucked a businessman this afternoon and flogged Richard this evening, and more like he’d just spent days on end studying for an exam he couldn’t afford to fail. “Friday night at five” tired.
Just need a couple of nights off, that’s all.
“How do you feel?” he asked Richard.
“Good.” Fatigue weighed down the sub’s voice. “Feel good.”
“Doesn’t sting anymore?”
“A little. Isn’t bad.”
Nick smiled. Richard had come back down from subspace, returned to terra firma, and now was hitting that lethargic state that would eventually knock him out for the rest of the night. Mission accomplished.
Once Richard was all right for the evening, Nick took the folded bills off the bureau—they’d learned after the first or second night to have the money ready to go because Richard would be asleep before Nick left—and called a cab. He checked one last time to make sure Richard was in a good state, and then he was gone.
The night was cool, especially for someone wearing no shirt under a leather jacket, but the shock of evening air on bare skin helped centre Nick and return him to the real world while he waited for his cab.
He could have sworn there’d been a time when he was flying high after he left clients’ houses. He distinctly remembered feeling like he could take on the world, like he could move a mountain with nothing more than a glance. Maybe he was just burned out now. Who knew? But the last few times he’d stepped outside to wait for his ride, he’d felt a dull heaviness in the pit of his stomach. One he couldn’t quite explain.
He glanced back at Richard’s terraced house. His lack of enthusiasm was weird because this was one of the clients he actually liked, although he didn’t really know him. He didn’t even know if Richard was the guy’s real name. Most of his clients gave him fake names. Nick gave them his real one. He liked the in-your-face quality of it, the ballsiness of saying, “Yeah, my name is Nick, and I fuck men for a living.”
There was really nothing to be ashamed of. As far as some people were concerned, just being gay meant he fucked everything and everyone. Taking money for it was just the icing on the cake. The job suited him just fine. Or at least it had until recently.
The cab pulled up and Nick slipped into the back just as his mobile started buzzing in his pocket.
“Hang on a sec,” he told the driver, and pulled the phone out of his pocket.
Want to come by? I have roast chicken.
He had a sixth sense for timing, that guy. The prospect of roast chicken sounded great, especially when the alternative was collapsing in front of the TV for another two hours before he rolled into bed. And an evening with Spencer—a late night dinner followed by anything Nick wanted—was always tempting.
But Nick hesitated. He’d been doing that lately, ever since that night a couple of weeks ago when he hadn’t taken Spencer’s money. The night things had changed. Their relationship was on weird footing now, footing Nick hadn’t quite adapted to yet, and he caught himself hesitating like this every time he considered going over there. Of course he always went—over the last couple of weeks, he’d been at Spencer’s house every night he hadn’t stayed with a client—but the momentary hemming and hawing kept happening.
A second text came through: No strings attached. Just help me vanquish this bird.
Vanquish. Well, all right then . . .
Nick gave the driver Spencer’s address. After three months and a little, he didn’t have to check it anymore on the phone.