"You shouldn't scoff at your fortune," Cason said. "Sometimes there is more to living than what everyone can see." Cason smiled, remembering the first time his Pappous had said that very same thing to him.
Tiffany started to struggle up off the couch, and Cason got up to help her. "Well, my greatest dream is to get this kid out of me. I'm due next week but I swear I should've popped a month ago."
Cason gave her a hug. "Well, you never know. Keep your phone handy, you just might have to call the hubby to meet you at the hospital."
Rolling her eyes, Tiffany shook her head. "Okay, weirdo. I'll see you later, okay? And eventually I will find out about your sort-of friend."
She'd try. Waddling slowly, Tiffany left for her office just down the hall. Cason cleaned up the stuff from their lunch and then sat down at his desk. He had a date to plan.
Tiffany didn't have her baby that day, but she went into labor during the night. Cason found out when he went to work the next day from the gossips in the staff lounge at the administrative offices. He chipped in to send her some flowers and balloons, plus some sort of giant basket of diapers or something the women were excited about.
Maybe he'd make her a set of baby blocks.
All day, Cason put up with kids coming into his office to whine about the classes they'd thought they could take, or didn't want to take any more. He did have one interesting kid. His center was a warm golden glow, like he'd been touched by Ananke, Goddess of Fate. He knew what he wanted to do, which was add classes. It would overload him, but he was so sure that Cason didn't argue.
Sitting back in his chair after he left, Cason fiddled with a pen. Young Dante seemed to know exactly what path he was taking. Would another counselor, not having Cason's ability, have denied his request to help him get into the classes?
That subject kept Cason's mind busy the whole way home. He turned automatically, not really paying attention to where he was driving. It had been a long time since he questioned his abilities, and how his life, and the lives of everyone he'd helped, would be different if he didn't have a daimon ancestor. Cason was lucky; usually he knew exactly what to do and could be sure he was right. Having to make choices that affected both him and Vince without that safety net his ability gave him was an eye opener.
Cason pulled up to his house. He sat for a minute in the garage. He was going on a date. With Vince. He grinned and was out of the car and rushing inside. A quick once over with the electric razor took away the stubble, leaving his cheeks smooth and soft, and he splashed on some cologne. Nothing said boring like his work clothes, so he changed into a pair of black jeans but kept the blue pinstripe shirt. He rolled up his sleeves.
"Ready," he told his reflection.
Vince's apartment was chaotic when Cason pulled up. Page's hollering could be heard through the door and no one answered the first time he knocked. He gave the door a good pounding, and it was jerked open.
Cason narrowed his eyes. The guy standing in front of him was dressed in a ragged pair of jeans, held up by an equally dubious belt and nothing else. He slouched against the door and scratched at his greasy looking hair.
"I'm here for Vince."
The guy turned around. "Vince!" he shouted over Page's continued bitching.
It was cold outside so Cason stepped in and shut the door, even though he hadn't been invited. Page appeared in the doorway to the kitchen, a towel in his hands. "— can't keep your part of the fucking deal you can goddamned move out already, Jay. I'm not putting up with this shit anymore."
He stopped yelling when he saw Cason standing in the entry.
"Oh, hey Cason. Sorry about that, Jay's being a disgusting pig. You looking for Vince?"
Cason nodded. "Yeah. He here?"
"Yeah. I think he disappeared into the shower about five minutes ago. He was late getting home." He tossed the towel that had been folded over his shoulder into the kitchen. "Come on in and sit down." Page led the way to an old couch that sagged in the middle. Cason carefully sat on a corner cushion. It actually was pretty comfortable, though getting up and out of it might be a challenge.
"So where are you guys going tonight?" Page sat cross legged on the couch facing him.
"Dinner. I was thinking of hitting Grillmaster for some steaks."
Page grinned. "Good choice, red meat always goes over well." He winked. "So, you bringing my roomie home after that, or are you keeping him out all night having fun?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Cason laughed at Page's exaggerated disappointment when he wouldn't give him any information about his plans. The guy was a shameless pervert.
"You're not fun. Brandon is spending the weekend at his sister's watching her kids so I'm here, all alone, with no one to have fun with. You could at least give me something to entertain me!"
Cason folded his arms across his chest. "Nope."
"Stop being such a nosy ass, Page," Vince said as he opened the bathroom door. Steam poured out behind him as he stepped out in just a towel. Cason licked his lips. Damn. The man was hot, especially all shiny and wet just out of the shower, with his hair slicked back showing off the clean lines of his face and those amazing eyes.
"Hey." He gave Cason a tight smile, his hand clenched on his towel. "Sorry, I got held up at the garage helping a friend."
"Hey back," Cason said. "Don't worry about it. We didn't have reservations so we have plenty of time."
Vince relaxed at Cason's casual tone. His shoulders dropped and his smile grew when Cason licked his lips again. He couldn't help it; all that sleek skin made him want to mark it something fierce.
"Okay. I'll be right out."
Cason finally managed to look away after Vince shut his door. Page was smirking at him. "Oh man, you have it bad for our little Vince."
Cason shrugged one shoulder. "Maybe." He did and he knew it. He was not letting Page know it, though. He'd been watching the sexy blond for months. Every time they'd talked Cason had learned something new that made Vince even more appealing.
He had a lot of ideas about what they could do, if Vince was up for playing after dinner. Those soft, hairless balls hadn't had much attention the first time they'd done a scene and then there was that little surprise behind them that Cason hadn't even gotten to play with.
Dinner first though.
Vince came out dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt with a shiny black leather jacket.
"You look great," Cason said. He struggled up out of the couch, or he tried to. Vince came over and gave him a hand up, tugging him out of the couch's depths.
"Thanks. Sorry about the couch. It's awesome to sit on but getting up... not so much."
Cason used his grip on Vince's wrist to reel the smaller man in. "C'mere." He leaned down and captured those enticing lips, licking at them until Vince opened his mouth. Cason dipped his tongue in briefly, rubbing it against Vince's in a slight tease. "Cinnamon toothpaste," he said, "I like it."
Vince grinned. "Want another taste?" His lips were parted and he was staring up at Cason.
"Maybe later," Cason said when Page groaned. He looked over. "What, brat?"
"Why did Brandon have to go away this weekend?" He fanned himself with one hand. "You guys are too hot for your own good. Or my own good."
Cason knew that Brandon didn't like his subs touching themselves so that slight bulge he could see under Page's sweats was probably going to drive him crazy but not get any attention at all. He snickered.
"Yeah," Vince said as he grabbed his wallet off the coffee table along with his keys. "Go check out the mess in the kitchen Jay left for you again. You'll be unhappy in an instant."
Page scowled. "Thanks a lot. Just what I needed. If Jay's not here when you get home give yourself some plausible deniability, don't look in the dumpster out back." He got up from the couch and stalked back toward the kitchen. "Have fun you guys." He paused in the doorway and muttered under his breath, his hands clenching at his sides.
"Do I want to look in there?" Cason asked. Page actually appeared mad, which was strange for the happy, though bratty, man.
Shaking his head, Vince led him toward the door. "Nope. Not unless you're sure you have a stomach of steel or don't really plan on eating dinner tonight."
Cason didn't turn his head, determinedly not looking into the kitchen as they walked out. He loved the steak at Grillmaster and wasn't going to risk it.
Dinner was great; they ate and chatted while they devoured thick steaks and crisp steamed vegetables.
"You look tired." Cason had wanted to take the smaller man home to play, but Vince didn't really look up to it.
"Yeah, I'm sorry. I planned to get off early and take a nap before we went out. We've been swamped at the garage lately, plus I've been putting a lot of hours into this motorcycle restoration job. I'm supposed to have it done by Monday. Then Migg needed some help."
Cason had ordered a cup of coffee once his meal was finished. He toyed with one of the peanuts from the bowl in the middle of the table. He wasn't hungry, but he enjoyed the salt and the bitter flavor of the coffee combination. "Who's Migg?" he asked.
Vince's shoulders hunched up and he glanced down. "He's just a friend," he said slowly.
"Oh, I've never heard you mention him." Cason cracked the shell and picked out one of the peanuts. "What was wrong? Nothing serious, I hope."
"No." Vince shook his head. His shoulders relaxed. "He works at the coffee shop across the street from the garage. He's also a drummer in an indie band. He has a big kit, so he drives this van, but the damn thing is held together by two rubber bands and a whole mess of duct tape, I swear. It wouldn't start and it took me a few hours of calling around to find the right part and get it installed so he could make his gig tonight."
Cason smiled. "Sounds like he's lucky to have you as a friend. Have you heard him play? If he's any good, maybe we could go see his band together sometime. I like music, as long as it's not country."
Vince raised his eyebrows. "You want to meet him?"
"Well, he's your friend, right? I already know Page and I like him. Can't say as I really thought much of your other roommate, but I don't know him, so I'm trying not to judge." Cason hadn't forgotten what Page had told him about his ex-boyfriend, or full time Dom, whatever he was.
"I'm not like the other assholes you've been around," Cason said. He didn't really want to bring up the bastard ex Vince had left behind, but he did want Vince to realize that not all Doms were like that. "A good Dom doesn't use your relationship to isolate you from your friends and your life. You are not a slave, Vince, and you don't want to be. I'd never ask that of you while we're doing scenes, outside of them you're still your own person. I don't want to own you, I want to be your friend."
"So, we're not going back to your place tonight?" Vince slowly crushed one of the peanut shells Cason had left on the table between them. He didn't look up. "I was surprised by dinner but I still thought..." He shrugged one shoulder. Damn. He'd been making progress during dinner, meeting Cason's eyes and talking up a storm but now he was back to the self-effacing techniques Cason really disliked. He fidgeted nearly constantly, but Cason was growing used to that.
"Look up, Vince," Cason ordered. "Look at me." He waited for Vince to lift his head and let him see those wide gray-blue eyes. Vince's lower lip was red where he'd bitten it. "I want to take you home with me and drive you completely crazy. Never doubt that. But you are tired and it sounds like you have to work tomorrow."
Vince swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. "I want to go back to your place."
The pleasure Cason got from that one statement was out of proportion for what they were doing and he knew it. He didn't care. He pushed his cup away, stuck some cash to cover dinner in their bill in the black folder, and then stood up.
"Come on." They weren't going to waste another minute in public when being together in private would be so much more fun. He held out his hand and Vince took it, following him out of the restaurant and into the parking lot.
Unable to wait, Cason stopped beside his car. He didn't let go of Vince's hand, using his grip to pull it behind the slim back as he trapped Vince against the cold metal. He ran his other hand along Vince's jaw, rubbing the smooth skin. Holding him by the back of the neck, he leaned down to the already parted lips, a cloud of warm breath between them.
So close, but he didn't kiss him. Cason skimmed his lips just above Vince's jaw to his ear. "When I get you home," he whispered, "I'm going to strip you naked and tease your balls until you feel like they are going to explode."
"You want that? I was thinking we'd try out my weights this time."
This time Vince whimpered. He rocked his hips forward against Cason's thigh. The hard pressure of his erection made Cason fight back an answering thrust. "And this time I'm going to play with that sweet little ring you have hidden down there too."
"Oh, fuck." The breathless whine, the same noise Vince had made when he was so close to coming each time Cason took him to the edge, made him back off.
"Not yet," Cason said. He grinned at the pain on Vince's face, the impatient frown. They were quiet on the way to Cason's house, which was luckily only a few miles away from Grillmaster. The way Vince was practically simmering in the passenger seat had Cason feeling smug and very turned on.
He'd managed to keep their last scene about Vince but then he'd slept next to the man. They were getting to know each other, and Cason liked what he was finding out about the other man so far, but Vince wasn't his to keep. Cason had a purpose in life, to help people, and he did it best through dominating subs. He had to try and keep some distance.
Their first scene had rocked the boundaries he'd managed to erect when he'd realized that subs needed him, but never more than one night. Cason loved the fact that Vince wanted more from him, but it wasn't about him, not really. It was about Vince learning how he needed to submit so he would know the right type of Dom to choose in the future when they went back to just friends.
Cason could do that for Vince. He'd make sure he enjoyed every second of it, and deal with what came after when it happened.
When he pulled into the garage, Cason turned off the engine and closed the door. Vince was right on his heels as they walked inside. Cason studied him, loving the slightly dangerous edge the leather jacket gave him. He wanted to see Vince in just that jacket.
Vince's eyes widened. "What?" he asked.
Cason winked. "An idea came to me. You trust me, right?"
Vince nodded. Warmth curled in Cason's chest and he smiled at the nervous man, pleased that they'd made enough of a connection for Vince to have enough faith in him to make those first steps into trusting him fully. He'd been worried that not using his ability would affect their scenes together, but maybe he needed to trust himself more.
"You remember your safewords?"
"Cardinal to slow down. Finch to stop everything." Vince had been biting his bottom lip again, turning it puffy already.
"Good. Let's go to my playroom this time."
He led the way to the playroom, opening the door and then stepping aside so Vince could see everything. It wasn't big but held several exquisite pieces of furniture he'd made himself. A cross was against one wall, the wood stained dark. By contrast the spanking bench was light wood, almost white, with black leather buckles and pad on top.
"I want you here tonight." Cason had moved over by the bench, waiting for sub's eyes to finish traveling across everything in the room and move back to him. He popped up the kneeling bench from its folded position. "I designed this myself and it'll be perfect for what I want to do." He paused, watching the smaller man, hoping he'd say yes. "I want to buckle you down tonight. Do you trust me enough to let me do that?"
Vince opened his mouth, then cleared his throat. "Yes... yes, sir."
That same pleasure went through Cason. He peeled off his jacket, already warming up. "Strip down to your underwear, but then put your jacket back on."
Grinning, Vince did as he was told. Cason wondered what the look was for, but he was too busy watching that smooth chest being exposed to wonder for long. When Vince dropped his jeans, Cason inhaled a deep breath.
"The blue does look very good on you." His voice was deep as he struggled to control his desire.
Vince turned in a circle, then leaned back against the wall, one thumb tucked into the waistband and his jacket falling off one shoulder. "You like them? They're new." He'd gone out and bought new underwear, and then worn them hoping they'd be coming back to his house. Cason was surprised, but knowing Vince had picked them out and worn them, just for him, was a huge turn on.
He licked his lips slowly; Vince's eyes locked on his face.
"They look great, especially with that jacket." Fuck. Vince was one hot man as he posed, his briefs beginning to bulge, just for Cason. "Come here." Too bad he had to take them off, but what he wanted was hidden behind the blue, black, and white dyed fabric.
Cason rubbed his hands lightly across Vince's cock, then over his slim hips and back to his ass. The cotton was soft. "Hmm... they feel nice too. Another time we'll play with these on," he said. Hooking his fingers into the waistband, Cason squatted as he pulled them down so Vince could stand naked in just his jacket. That slim cock bobbed in front of his face, finally freed.
Vince's eyes fluttered shut as Cason blew hot air across the tip. He stroked his hands up Vince's thighs, then guided him to kneel on the bench. He considered leaving the jacket on, but he wanted to see the muscles in Vince's back ripple and arch as Cason played with his body. Easing it off, he set it aside, then positioned Vince onto the top of the bench.
"Remember your words," he said when Vince tugged at the thick black leather wrist cuffs once Cason buckled them, trying to lift his chest up off the table.
"Just... testing them, sir." Vince settled against the soft pad on the pale wood. He took a deep breath. "Feels safe. I trust you," he said the last bit in a breathy voice as Cason spread his knees farther apart, exposing his ass and balls. That Vince had said he trusted Cason sent a warm thrill through him as he squeezed one tight cheek.
Cason had to step back and just look for a minute. All Vince's soft bronze skin over sleek muscles was exposed to the air, pebbling slightly against a faint current of air moving around the room. The skin on his balls was darker than the surrounding skin, the same light brown as his nipples. Just behind those balls was a silver ring. He decided not to tease before he got started; Cason wanted to touch so badly.
Before leaving to pick up Vince, Cason had set out a few things. Picking up the ball stretcher, he showed Vince the rainbow colored metal ring.
"This is one of my favorite ball stretcher rings," Cason said. "It's so pretty, I bet it's going to look amazing around your balls."
Vince turned his head to see it, his eyes widening. He licked his lips.
"Do you like it?" Cason asked.
"Yes, sir. Just... worried about how it's going to fit and how heavy it is."
Cason opened the metal ring. "It weighs just enough. I'm going to put this around your balls, just above them, and then screw it shut. It won't come off until I'm good and ready." He traced a finger over extra loops on either side. "Then, from these, I'm going to put some weights."