James Peregrine Lester certainly had his crosses to bear. The fact that he didn't see his family as often as he might like (that he chose to stay over in Town some weekends for the peace and quiet was neither here nor there), the fact that his job involved concepts that were more usually to be found at the cheaper, more schlocky end of the straight-to-dvd market (although he still found it all unreasonably exciting, and was ever so slightly ashamed of himself) and last, but not least, the fact that he'd ever - ever - agreed to let Connor Temple stay with him.
Although there were compensations. The boy was a disaster area, true – did he even wash his hair? – who scattered mess and chaos wherever he went, and he'd brought his… pets with him, which naturally made it all that much worse, but still... When the blasted diictodon's had eaten his dinner jacket and invitation card, and then later when James had discovered they'd also got into his wardrobe and found an hors d'oeuvre to nibble on in the shape of his favourite Louis Vuitton black patent leather dress shoes, well. Shooting was too good for them. But James also prided himself on the fact that he didn't lose control. Not even in the most trying of circumstances.
Not to mention Miss Maitland would be most unhappy if he just disposed of the creatures. And while her dress sense was regrettable, her good heart, and veterinary competence were to be valued. She might, he thought, even value Connor himself, although James was at a loss to explain that particular lapse in taste – unless it went along with the unfortunate dress sense, of course. As an ornament on one's arm, Connor went far better with Abby than with, for example, himself.
Which brought him back to compensations. Connor was not the kind of association that James desired for any kind of long-term intimacy, but he was away from home a great deal, and the occasional lapse was understood, even encouraged, by his wife. He really had married the best of all women. And, in the mean time, there was… Connor. Who deserved punishment rather like the desert deserved rain. James rather thought even the sainted Abby might understand this particular foible.
He stood back to admire his handiwork. Connor stared at him wide-eyed from above the gag, although James knew that soon enough he would release it so that he could gauge his reactions. Connor would beg and plead beautifully, James thought, and while he might also squeak alarmingly, which would be a little high-pitched for James' usual taste, he was still looking forward to it. For now, however, the bright flush of pink that stained Connor's cheekbones was attractive enough. And besides, James hadn't wanted the distraction while he was arranging the picture.
He stepped forward to tweak a lock of hair out of Connor's eyes, and was amused by the way that Connor unconsciously leaned his head into his palm. Perhaps someone should have tried this sort of thing with him years ago? Well, no-one could deny that James was ahead of his time.
He looked at Connor again, and gave a sigh of satisfaction. Really, sometimes James thought he'd missed his vocation. In particular, the use of materials ready to hand gave him a unique sense of a job well done. Connor was spread out on the wall, cruciform style, with his limbs secured to the wall with yellow and black hazard tape. To ensure the lack of movement, the hazard tape was backed up with duct tape. James smiled – there was nothing stronger than duct tape for this kind of purpose – not that was easily available in an innocuous kitchen cupboard anyway.
Connor was still clothed but his feet were bare. James had nearly secured him to the wall on his tip-toes, but he rather thought that Rome wasn't going to be built in a day. If Connor wanted to stay here in the flat, he would have to learn, and James held out no hope for it being a speedy process. He licked his lips. There would be other opportunities, he was sure.
Now for the pièce de résistance. James picked up the card, and stayed poised with his black marker pen held to his lips in thought. He firmly and yet quickly wrote his instruction, and then capped the pen. He held it up to Connor's eyes, which widened even further.
James took one step closer, until he was within inches of Connor's face. He could feel the warmth of his skin, the puff of his breath, soft through the fabric of the gag. There was a musk in the air, and a more alternative scent – could that be patchouli? How typical. James smiled. He lifted his fingers, and they hovered over the first button of Connor's shirt, as James insinuated his thigh between Connor's spread legs. He pushed lightly.
"Do you agree?" he asked, his usual cut-glass vowels rather more husky than he'd like at this point in the proceedings.
Connor swallowed, James could see the movement of his throat below the dangling ends of the chewed-upon tie. Connor's breath speeded up, as James pressed against him once again. And then there was a sharp nod, just once, before Connor shut his eyes. He didn't see James' smile of triumph, and perhaps something more tender. Which was a shame.
Because James Peregrine Lester liked to be in charge, it was true, but more than that, he believed he was also rather good at it. He wouldn't leave Connor wanting.
As James began unbuttoning Connor's shirt, the card fluttered to the floor. DO NOT it shouted in large letters, white on red, and then below in James' neat script, 'struggle…'