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Contractually Obligated

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Ray never thought it would end like this. Laying in a filth infested alleyway with nothing but raggedy, old jeans and a stained t-shirt to warm his shivering body. The last sounds he would hear are the bustling footsteps of the city's dreary morning, the cracks of lightning crying buckets of acid rain on the cement, and his stomach's deafening pleas for sustenance. He was beginning to believe that he deserved this punishment. A boy who steals and whores himself out for a quick buck – whether it be a quick buck to pay for a sandwich or a condom – he knew he deserved the worse for his augmenting pile of sins.

His last client was not what he expected. The man approached him a day ago with a smile that screamed 'I will pay you anything to help me forget about my unhappy marriage.' Ray liked those types, and fuck, the ostentatious car he arrived in was only a plus in Ray's book. And don't even get him started on the man's house – well, it was more of a fancy penthouse suite, fully equipped with the little heart-shaped soaps, a grand piano, and a balcony pool. The young Puerto Rican thought he hit a jackpot with this one. All he had to do was lay the guy, get paid, and then when he fell asleep, rob him of everything that would fit in that designer duffel bag hanging on the closet door. Simple as fuck, right?

Wrong.

Ray thought about a lot of shit, but he never thought he would be raped. He could only imagine the ridiculous face he made when he realized the man had drugged him. What about this man made Ray forget the golden rule of never taking a drink that wasn't made right in front of you? Even if the drink is in a fancy glass, all multicolored and shit, you don't take it! How much stupidity and ignorance ran through Ray's head that night? Why couldn't he think past the man's wealth?

The whole night was a blur to Ray but when he came to his senses the next morning, all he felt was pain. He was completely bare, spread eagle, and tied to the man's coffee table. There, he was fucked and abused for hours, though it felt like years. The slaps wouldn't have been that terrible if they weren't paired with harsh, painful sex and as for the choking, he was used to it in small doses, but he literally could not breathe. It got to a point where Ray's indignant, 'let me go, you asshole' attitude turned into more of a begging, 'just let me go, please'.

All that torture ended with him being thrown into an alley clothed in only his shirt and jeans from the day before. That man stole everything from him, including his dignity and his nice pair of checkered sneakers. How did my life turn out like this? Ray wondered. Death had to be creeping up on him and if the lack of feeling in his toes was any indication of it, then he was sure this alleyway was his deathbed. I am gonna haunt the shit out of that rapist fuck, Ray thought, but he didn’t even know the man’s name.

“Hey, you okay kid?” The voice was angelic, not in a literal sense, but anyone who could help Ray not die was an absolute angel.

“What's it look like, asshole? I'm rolling around a pile of garbage in the middle of an alleyway. I'm definitely not okay!” Smooth Ray, scare away your only means of survival, he thought.

The man laughed and entered the alley, “My name is Joel, nice to meet you, trashman.”

The Puerto Rican rolled his eyes at the man, “My name's Ray, you fucktard.” Joel was wearing torn baggy jeans, a gray hoodie soaked in rain, and some cheap black sneakers, nothing close to Ray's usual clients but anything would do at this point.

“You've got quite the mouth on you, trashman.” Joel knelt beside Ray.

“Well I ain’t selling it today, so get the fuck away from me.” Ray was abrasive, but he’s learned from his previous encounters. You can’t give it out to everybody.

“And I’m not buying.” Joel shrugged. “Look, you seem like you need help. Do you need help?”

Ray couldn't comprehend Joel's sudden generosity, but in his experience, everything came at a price. The Puerto Rican knew he would probably be on his knees for this man later, but as long as he was on his knees in a heated area, he didn't give a flying fuck. “Yeah, I need help.” He tried not to be too abrasive with his words.

“Okay, come on. Get up,” Joel grabbed Ray by his arm and lifted him from his place on the frigid cement. “This way, to my car.” The older man led Ray out of the alley and down a block, completely ignoring Ray's shoeless feet.

They approach this sleek black Mercedes Benz and Ray beamed. Maybe this Joel guy is a catch, after all, he thought. “Nice ride,” Ray commented instinctively, knowing that men with money tend to enjoy compliments to their wealth.

“Hm, no 'fucking nice ride' or 'god damn, that shit is nice'? You see nice things and all of sudden your potty mouth disappears, huh trashman?” Joel teased as he unlocked his car and invited Ray to sit in the front seat.

Ray snorted, “Fuck no, but I do appreciate nice things and those who give them to me.” He slid onto the car's leather interior and started thinking about how disgusting he must seem to Joel. Before the older man could make it around the car to the driver's side, Ray was rolling down the window to spare Joel's nose.

“Is that a sign of you accepting your status as the stinky trashman?” Joel snickered as he put his vehicle in drive and pulled out the parking space.

“Shut the fuck up,” Ray was too tired to argue. He was too tired, cold, hungry, sore, and gross. He simply did not have the strength to resist the trashman status and the heat in this car wasn't helping. Hopefully, this one isn’t a fucking murderer or some shit, he thought.

Ray remembers falling asleep as Joel exited the city listening to tacky old people music. He wasn't sure how long he'd been out but when he woke, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He thought this hoodie-wearing man was bringing him to a nice single-family, suburban home. He certainly wasn't expecting anything this luxurious.

Joel pulled into an automated black front gate with the letter's JH bold on its surface and dipped in gold. The driveway seemed never-ending and it was surrounded by the most elegant gardens. The roundabout in front of the five-story, ivory mansion had a center fountain with one of those fancy Greek statues that Ray has seen in movies. The doors to the mansion opened and two lines of maids and butlers stood on either side of the entrance, bowing in welcome. “You're drooling, trashman.” Joel laughed as he got out of the car, handing his keys to a young boy wearing a red vest. “Come on, I don't have all day.”

Ray got out as the red vest climbed in, and he was made speechless by the wealth around him. Who knew this guy was capable of all this? “So this is...um...your house?”

“Well, I wouldn't call it a house but yeah, sure.” Joel ushered Ray up the front steps, between the sea of maids, and through the immaculate doors to the Heyman estate's mansion. Inside was more astonishing than Ray could comprehend, much fancier than his last client's minuscule penthouse. Joel had it made, and Ray was determined to take as much as he could from this man. “Are you impressed?”

“No, not impressed, just cold, hungry, and stinky.” Ray tried to conceal his motives, at least for now. “You have a bathroom in this gigantic place?”

Joel laughed, “Yeah, yeah I do.” He turned to face one of his younger butlers. “Hey, Michael, can you help my friend here get cleaned up? Fit him in some clothes too, if you don’t mind.”

The curly-haired boy bowed, “Yes, sir. Also, the Gents have arrived for your meeting and are waiting in the main conference room.”

“Thank you, Michael,” Joel placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder and leaned in, whispering something incoherent.

Michael nodded to his boss then he swiftly made eye contact with Ray, as if he was trying to analyze him. “Please follow me, sir.” Michael began walking up the wide staircase that connected the entrance area to the next floor.

Ray stood there for a moment before realizing that by sir, Michael meant him, and hurried after the curly-haired butler. The young Puerto Rican stared up at the high ceilings as they ventured down the extravagant, winding hallways. The deeper they went in the mansion, the more Ray realized just how lucky he was to be in that alley at that time.

“So how did you and Mr. Heyman meet?” Michael made idle conversation, clearly feeling awkward. Ray would feel that way too if he had to walk in front of a smelly stranger.

Ray laughed nervously, “It's a funny story actually,” He paused as they entered a bathroom. If you could even call it that. This wasn’t just an ordinary bathroom. This was a bathroom fit for a king and holy shit, is that a jacuzzi tub? “This place is fucking insane.”

“This is one of the master baths; feel free to make use of all of its devices.” Michael began tornado-ing around the bathroom; running the bathwater, preparing fresh towels, selecting shampoos and soaps, laying out a new toothbrush. “As for your attire, please place them in the bin outside the door to be discarded. Mr. Heyman promises to replace them if you wish.”

One of the master baths, he says, Ray thought. He was not used to this sort of pampering, “Uh, tell him not to worry about it. I'm not attached to them or anything.” Ray chuckled, “Although, while he’s offering, a pair of checkered Vans would definitely hit the spot.” Ray was joking, but Michael nodded as if he could make just anything appear from thin air.

“Very well,” Michael gave a small bow before moving towards the door. “I will return in about an hour with a fresh pair of clothes for you, sir.”

“Thanks,” Ray muttered as he began removing his shirt. “And uh...Michael, right? You can drop the sir, just call me Ray.”

“As you wish, Ray,” With that, Michael took his exit.

In gaining some alone time, Ray could finally breathe. It has been about two days since his last shower and he hadn't taken a bath for months. Seriously, who takes baths? For the next forty-five minutes, Ray indulged himself. He took a bubble bath, washed his hair, shaved, and even prepped himself for sex if it came to that. All the while, he completely ignored his experiences from the previous night, choosing to lock away the twinge of pain in his heart rather than come to terms with it. He ignored the soreness and the light hue of bruises and the tightness in his throat that threatened to become a sob. He was no stranger to pushing feelings away.

There was a knock at the door. “Ray, it's Michael. I've brought you a change of clothes.”

“Uh, yeah. Come in Mike.” Ray wrapped a towel around his midsection as Michael entered the room. He brought with him a designer suit, three tie choices, dress shoes, and accessories to boot.

“What's with all this?” Ray was skeptical. Maybe this Joel guy had a suit fetish.

Michael flashed Ray a look of concern but quickly reverted to his butler facade. “I'm not sure if Joel explained anything to you when he picked you up – he didn't explain anything to me, that's for sure – just put this stuff on and when you meet them, you’ll know.” With that, Michael stepped out of the bathroom.

“What the fuck? Am I selling my soul here or what? Damn.” Ray mumbled to himself as he got dressed. Surprisingly, the suit was his style. Everything seemed oddly fitting.

Ray stepped out adorned in all but the jacket. “Um, the jacket is kind of big, but everything else fits fine.” His hair was slicked down, and his facial hair was shaven into a neat style. “What do you think?”

“You look fine,” Michael nodded in approval. “But I have to tell you something.”

“What?” Ray looked confused. “What is it?”

Before Michael had a chance to open his mouth, he was interrupted by another butler. “Michael, I hope you are taking care of Joel’s choice, and not doing anything that would scare him off. The Gents would not be pleased.”

“Alfredo, you know I would never.” Michael seemed defensive.

“I’m right here, you fuckwits.” Ray wasn’t one to hold his tongue. “What are you talking about?”

Alfredo smiled darkly, “Feisty one, isn’t he? Master Ryan loves those kinds.”

“Who's Ryan?” Ray squinted. “Is he one of those Gents Michael mentioned? Can a guy get a fucking answer around here? Damn.”

Michael didn’t seem too keen on speaking in front of this man. “Ray, for now, follow me.” Michael grabbed the jacket from his hands. “I will take you to Joel so you can discuss your role going forward. He will explain everything.”

“Finally, some help,” Ray stalked away, following Michael back down the hall.

Alfredo called out, “Hope you’re chosen by the right one, Ray!”

Ray snarled at him and threw up a quick middle finger. “What’s his deal, Mike?”

“He is probably having a hard time with Master Ryan. It’s his first time with him, and-,” Michael paused and took another deep breath. “I’m saying too much. Listen, I don’t have much time to prep you or anything. Just, be polite. When you get in there, Barbara or Joel will explain what is going on. Remember, try to win over Jack. Geoff is survivable, but avoid Ryan at all cost, you understand?” He led them towards a pair of black lacquer doors.

“I mean, I still don’t get it, but if you want me to seduce someone, I can manage that, and I will avoid Ryan.” Ray shrugged, not fully grasping his situation but, in the face of wealth, he found himself not caring. So what? Joel wasn’t the only guy he had to please. None of that was new to Ray. The only thing Ray cared about was taking what he could from these men.

“Okay, good, that should be all you-” Michael was interrupted by the doors swinging open. Two maids walked out, escorting a very tired looking young male. “Gav!” Michael exclaimed.

“Micoo,” Gavin breathed out. “I’m Jack’s now.”

“Joel didn’t…?” Michael didn’t even need to finish the sentence before Gavin responded.

“He took Jeremy instead,” Gavin was then ushered away by the maids.

“Next week, for sure!” Michael blurted out before Gavin was out of sight.

Ray looked at Michael, who seemed worried, yet relieved at the same time. It made Ray wonder for the first time what kind of mess he had gotten himself into. Whatever was beyond those doors seemed so daunting, and for a brief moment, he considered running. Yet, the intrigue of the unknown piqued his interest even more. The doors swung open once again, and a beautiful lady stepped out wearing a little black dress. She was holding a gold-plated clipboard, standing in white stilettos, and her golden hair was pulled into a neat, tight bun. “Is Ray ready?” She spoke to Michael.

“Yes Ma’am,” Michael gestured towards Ray.

“Oh Michael, I told you to call me Barbara.” She giggled and stole a glance at her clipboard. “Okay, follow me, Ray.” She gestured towards the inside of the room.

“Okay,” Ray strolled in, stealing a final glance at Michael’s face before entering the room. He seemed worried but too afraid to say anything.

The door silently closed behind them and Barbara began a graceful stride down the long hallway beyond the doors. Her heels rhythmically clapped against the black and white checkered floors. The design reminded Ray of the shoes he’d lost. The path was dimly lit by white ceiling lights that were reflected against the black lacquer walls. The design made it seem like it would go on forever.

“So, Bar- Miss Barbara, where are we going?” Ray broke the tense silence.

Barbara stopped dead in her tracks, “Joel didn’t tell you.” It was more of a statement of realization than a question. She tilted her head slightly to the left, taking a pen from her clipboard and writing something down. “Listen, I’m not allowed to say much. Burnie would have a fit if I broke the rules.” She began walking again. “But for you, I’ll bend them a little. Trust me when I say you’re not the first clueless one Joel has brought in. Michael Jones can attest to that.”

“Okay, well, what can you tell me?” Ray picked up his pace to keep up with her.

“Well, each month or so the Gents trade their um…well, let’s just call them servants. It’s like a fun, little game to them.” She slows down to let Ray catch up. “What the details of the game are, I can’t say, but I can tell you this: most of the Gents are easy to win over. You are basically in control of the situation.”

“Is this like a weird human trafficking thing?” Ray stops.

Barbara sighs, “Joel really should’ve explained things to you more.” She stops again and places a hand on Ray’s shoulder. “This is not human trafficking. I can say that for sure. If you wanted, you could walk right back from where we came, leave and never come back. Joel’s people will contact you with a non-disclosure agreement and with a quick signature, you can live like you were before. However, once you decide to go in there, it won’t be that simple to get away.”

“What do you mean?” Ray’s confusion amplified.

“Look, we’re running out of time,” Barbara’s confidence faltered a bit. “Just know that if you are anything like me, you’ve come from nothing. These men are allowing you an opportunity to live without worrying about money. They clothe us, house us, feed us, give us healthcare, and access to education, and all they ask is for us to be good help and play this game with them.”

Ray’s mind wandered back to the way he was living before, and where Joel found him in the first place. He remembered the cold, wet, and lonely nights where he could not afford any food, so he would blow some random douche-bag to get a few bucks. He knows how hard it is to survive on his own, and the twinge in his heart made him want to be as far from that life as possible. So, if they wanted him to play this stupid game to never go back there, then motherfucking game on. “Fine, take me in there.”

Barbara smiled and breathed a breath of relief, “Good choice, now hurry up. We’ve wasted enough time as it is.” She took him down the remainder of the hall until they approached a sleek mahogany door. Next to it was a small podium with a black book and pen atop it. “Alright Ray,” Barbara gestured to the book, “This is a contract that everyone signs before going in. It states that you will completely refrain from doing any harm to the masters. By signing, you also agree to not speak of anything that occurs within that room to anyone who is not a master, or who is not a servant under a master, unless designated otherwise by a master. You agree to allow the masters to touch your body to appraise you. However, the masters are not allowed to use any level of force against you. Finally, upon signing this contract, you agree to complete at least five trade cycles, one with each master. All these terms are final and cannot be altered at any time. Do you agree to those terms?”

Ray nodded slowly, “Sure.”

“Then please review the contract and sign on the dotted line.” Barbara opened the book and gestured for Ray to take the pen.

“Okay then,” Ray took the pen and without reading the long passage above, he scribbled a messy signature on the paper. “Now what?”

“Follow me,” Barbara grabbed the door’s handles but paused before opening them. “Oh, and one final piece of advice: speak when spoken to and do not follow my lead because I have seniority and you do not.” Barbara giggled again, calming Ray’s nerves.

She grabbed the handles tightly and pushed. Inside, jazzy music filled the air and you could hear laughter bellowing from within. There was a soft smoky scent filling the old money atmosphere. “Gentlemen!” Barbara’s voice was melodious and fell perfectly into the ambiance of the room. “I hope you are enjoying yourselves this evening. We have our next young man prepared for you.” Two maids dressed in black suits appeared on either side of Ray, gently leading him to the center floor and then silently ambling away.

The design of the hallway was not echoed throughout this room. That black lacquer was replaced by a dark mahogany wood that decorated the walls and furniture. Four mahogany columns reached up to the high ceilings. The floors were clean, black, and reflective. The ceilings were red velvet and the lighting was low and warm. The Gents sat in leather chairs in a semicircle in the center of the room, all currently directed at Ray. They were all so attractive, and in Ray’s mind, any of them would be great lays.

The first seat was Joel, but it was much different from hoodie Joel. This Joel was cleaned up, wearing light gray pants with a matching vest over a white button-up. It was all properly fitted and probably very expensive. His shoes were shined, and his hair was clean cut. He seemed the most down to earth and relaxed, as his sleeves were rolled to his elbows and his top button was unfastened.

The second was a bearded man in a classic black suit. His jacket was draped across his thigh and he had thick black suspenders, which reminded Ray of the men in classic films. This man was portlier than the others, but it gave him a look of strength, and his visage was kind and comfortable. His eyes gave Ray a sense of calm like watching a river flow.

The third was much wilder than the first two like he could punch down a tree with his bare hands and feel nothing. He had disheveled hair, a handlebar mustache, and tattoos that covered everything that Ray could see and presumably everything he couldn’t. He wore a collarless red button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled and tightly fitted black pants. He was nestling a glass of whiskey in his right hand and giving Ray an intense stare like a goon in a yakuza movie.

The fourth seat was empty, but the man in the fifth seat had a mad look in his eyes like he could eat Ray alive and not think anything of it. His jacket was green and red plaid with gold buttons, his pants were khaki, and his shoes were a shiny black. Ray felt a heat from him like molten metal as it’s quenched.

The final seat was empty like the fourth.

Ray wondered for a moment who could be missing, but his mind was derailed by Barbara’s voice. “This meeting will be for the appraisal of Ray, presented by master Joel for a tentative one week trade, open to negotiation up to two weeks.” Barbara reads from her clipboard. She is standing a few feet behind Ray, and her voice is carrying throughout the room. “This is his very first appraisal, so gentlemen, please be kind and do remember the rules.” Her voice ended there and all that could be heard were her heels clicking out the door, which shut with a soft creak.

Ray was alone now, and certain that not a single amount of banter could tear through this silence, so he just stared at Joel, who was different among these men. Different, yet the same. It made Ray feel the same type of ease he felt in the alleyway.

“So, your name’s Ray, yeah?” The man with the handlebar mustache spoke. “My name is Geoff, with a G.”

Ray nodded, “Yes, that is my name.”

The bearded man laughed, “You can relax in here Ray. My name’s Jack. It’s nice to meet you.”

Ray smiled at him, but it was a nervous smile. “Nice to meet you too.”

“I got to say, Joel, you didn’t say shit about him being so shy. I hate the shy ones.” The man with the mad eyes spoke.

“He’s just nervous,” Joel said. “Give him a break Ryan.”

Michael’s words echoed in Ray’s head. Try to win over Jack. Geoff is survivable but avoid Ryan at all cost. He now knew that Ryan hated shy boys, so he was going to play that angle. This is all just seduction and role-playing. Ray could do that.

“So, Ray, I’m sure you have questions. What are they?” Joel asked.

Tons of questions swirled in Ray’s head, but he was convinced that this was a test. “I don’t have too many questions.” Ray put on a facade of shyness, clasping his hands together behind him. “But I do want to know which one of you wants me.”

Geoff leaned forward, a bit surprised and very eager, “Okay Joel, now you have my attention.”

“Told you, Geoff, I found a good one,” Joel spoke confidently, and gave Ray a knowing look. “Obviously a talented one too.”

Geoff hopped up from his seat. This caught Ray off guard and he flinched, but it worked perfectly with his fake, coy demeanor. Ray wondered if Geoff, the one Michael called survivable, would be the one Ray was given to. Geoff, with his whiskey still in hand, circled Ray, looking him up and down as a predator would his prey. It was an intense assessment. Geoff stopped in front of Ray and took a quick swig of his drink. “I want you, Ray.” He moved into Ray’s personal space but did not place a single finger on him.

Ray wasn’t sure if Geoff’s obedience to the rules was a courtesy of this room. Geoff breathed, “May I touch you, Ray?”

The air was heavy with the smell of Geoff’s woody cologne, the smoke snaking from the ashtray, and a bite of alcoholic aroma. Ray pondered if this question was also a test. If he were to agree, would he seem too easy or just too stubborn? Who among these men would appreciate that level of self-respect? Ray thought Jack would. “No,” Ray was firm and admittedly, he probably came off a little more playful than shy. “You may not.”

Geoff smiled at Ray’s answer and spun around on his heel, returning to his seat. “Jack, I can see your wheels turning already.” He glanced at Jack, who seemed to be pleased with Ray’s answer.

“Ray,” Jack chuckled warmly. “Why the refusal?”

“Because I like to be earned.” Ray smiled at Jack.

And then, without Jack having the time to speak, the door opened once again. The voice that emerged gave Ray the chills. “Sorry, I’m late Gents. Had to wrap up another meeting.” It was the voice of the man that had raped Ray. “Barbara says we have an interesting one today, hm?”

“Yeah Burnie, this is Ray.” Joel introduced Ray just as Burnie walked close enough to realize exactly who Ray was.

The look of surprise Burnie had turned very quickly into a look of sadism. “You don’t say.” Burnie smiled at Ray, “It’s very nice to meet you, Ray. Welcome.”

Ray was frozen with fear. The thought of Burnie taking him was unbearable, so much so that he threw away Michael’s words of warning. Any of these men are better than Burnie, Ray thought.

“Quiet, are we?” Burnie let out a click of his tongue and got real close to Ray. So close that no one but Ray could hear what he was saying. “I’m really into the quiet ones. The real docile types, the ones that can’t talk or move, but somehow manage to beg and writhe. The broken ones.” With that, he turned to his seat. It was the fourth. Just before he sat, he shook Ryan’s hand and whispered something to him. Ryan smirked and nodded, and it gave Ray a terrible feeling of dread. As if the whole room had been engulfed in flames, the twinge rustled from its place deep inside Ray’s heart.

The sound of heels echoed from the hall outside the door. As it swung open, Barbara and two maids emerged. “Gentlemen, the time for appraisal has ended. We will now go into the offers. Ray is being presented by Joel, the current owner of Michael and Jeremy. As our rules state, no one Gent may have more than two charges at a time and the person who presents a new charge may not take the first cycle.” She moved beside Ray. “Therefore, offers may be made by Jack, the current owner of Trevor and Gavin, or Geoff, the current owner of Lindsay, or Ryan, the current owner of Alfredo, or Burnie, the current owner of me, Barbara. If no Gent makes an offer, Ray moves into the rotation and will be given to Jack by default. If all parties understand, please say aye.”

Without question, the Gents say aye. The room falls silent and Barbara glances at Ray. “Do you understand Ray?”

“Aye,” Ray says unconfidently while glancing nervously between Burnie and the floor, silently wishing that the reflective blackness would latch on and swallow him whole.

“I’m going to start us off Gents,” Burnie speaks. “I want Ray, and I’m willing to part with Barbara to get him.”

All heads turn to Burnie, looks of confusion in their eyes at Burnie’s offer. Even Barbara, who had only shown perfect composure, had an unexplainable pain in her eyes. Ray wanted to tell her that she needed to get away. This was an opportunity for her and she should be glad, but Ray couldn’t speak. His confidence was shaken, and his facade was crumbling against the intensity of Burnie’s presence.

“But you never put Barbara up for an offer,” Joel says.

“I’m looking for a change of pace here.” Burnie gave Ray a dark look.

“Well, I don’t know if I can beat that wildcard, but I want Ray, and I’m willing to give up Trevor,” Jack says.

Ryan beams. “I did want to put an offer in for Ray, but if Jack gives me Trevor, I’ll pull out my offer.”

Jack nods, “I agree to those terms.”

Geoff looks to be considering his options, “Well, I was also going to put in an offer, but I will take Barbara and stay the fuck out of it.”

“Burnie,” Barbara’s voice cracked a little. “Do you agree to those terms?”

Burnie nodded and, without remorse, said, “Yes I do.”

Barbara seemed off her game now, as if having to leave Burnie was a sad thing. “Then we will move into negotiations between Burnie and Jack.”

“Jack, come on, I gave up Barbara for this,” Burnie speaks smoothly. “Let me have this one.”

“I don’t think so Burns,” Jack shook his head. “I’m taking Ray. Let’s go into a vote.”

Barbara nodded, pulling three cards with gold detail from her dress pocket. “Please write your vote on who Ray should go to and fold them in half.” She said as she passed out the cards to Joel, Geoff, and Ryan.

Each Gent wrote their decision, and never before had Ray been so nervous. How had everything come to this? A sick game of survival where three practical strangers were voting whether or not he went to hell island. If he had known Burnie was a part of all this, he would have never signed that stupid contract. What if he has to complete a trade cycle with Burnie? He begins to have flashbacks to being tied to the table and begging to be released. He should never have gotten in the car with Joel. Rich guys are all trouble.

“I will now read the votes.” She collected each card from the Gents, careful to keep them in view of everyone. She took her place beside Ray once again and opened the first card.

“Burnie.” The first card said.

Ray’s heart dropped into his stomach and sweat collected on his forehead.

“Jack.” The second card said.

Ray was certain Ryan voted for Burnie and Joel probably voted for Jack, but who did Geoff possibly vote for.

“For Ray, the Gent who has been granted tentative one-week ownership is Jack.” Barbara lifted the cards to prove she had properly read them. “Congratulations Jack.”

“Yeah, congratulations.” Burnie seemed upset, but Ray couldn’t be happier.

Barbara spoke one final time, “Gentleman, this brings us to the end of our night. The current ownership is as follows: Joel owns Michael and Jeremy, Jack owns Gavin and Ray, Geoff owns Barbara and Lindsay, Ryan owns Trevor and Alfredo, and Burnie owns no one. We will have another meeting next week. Joel has graciously offered to hold the after events in his bar area, so please enjoy the rest of your night.” Barbara bowed and with one glance at Burnie, she sauntered out the room, obviously hurt.

Ray was escorted out by the maids. His heart was racing. As he passed through the hypnotically long hallway, he wondered what his fate would be like in this first cycle. Michael said Jack was the best, so it couldn’t be that terrible, could it? They arrived at the end of the hallway, where he was greeted by Michael, whose face dripped with concern.

“So, how did it go?” Michael asked as he gestured for Ray to follow him to another hallway.

“I’m Jack’s apparently,” Ray shrugged, but Michael beamed.

“Damn, you’re lucky Ray,” His smile was much calmer than it was before. When they first interacted, Michael walked on eggshells and behaved like an underling rather than an equal. Ray wondered why the sudden change.

“You seem chiller now, what’s up with that?” Ray noted that this hallway was different from the one before, but the ceilings were just as high.

“Well, you signed the contract. I don’t have to worry about letting things slip.” Michael’s response sounded more Jersey than it did before, and honestly, it comforted Ray to know he was around normal people too. As they made their way down the hall, a similar vein of jazzy music could be heard spilling from a black door.

“What’s that sound?” Ray wondered.

“The after-party,” Michael smirked, kind of devilishly as he grasped the door handle. “This is probably my favorite part of staying in the game. The amenities, you know.”

The curly redhead pushed the door open, and the full force of the music hit Ray’s ears. Inside held many of the design choices from the appraisal room, but this room came equipped with a fully stocked bar, a live band comprised of more suit-clad maids, a dance floor, and a lounge area. Sitting around it were a group of young people, who Ray guessed were all part of the game.

“Micoo!” The same British boy from before exclaimed, while he hopped up from his seat at the lounge and all but flew into Michael’s arms. Ray thought they were just friends but the Brit landed a kiss on Michael’s mouth. It was deep too, as Gavin’s tongue could be seen dipping pass the Jersey boy’s pink lips. The Brit pulled away and pressed a quick short peck on Michael’s nose before fixing his gaze on Ray.

“Hi there, Ray, right?” The boy asked, and Ray nodded.

“And you’re Gav, yeah?” Ray asked. “You’re the one from earlier?”

“Yeah, that’s me. Full name’s Gavin though, but don’t mind a nickname. Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Ray let a small smile slip. “It seems we’re both Jack’s.”

Gavin gave a surprised glance at Michael, “Really?” Michael nodded to Gavin’s question. Ray watched as the two’s obvious chemistry allowed for a silent conversation to be had. Gavin smiled and Michael returned it with the quick nod, all of which left Ray confused.

“Hey Ray, do you know anything about our Gent?” Gavin’s voice deepened, it became a bit more sultry. For some reason, that change in demeanor excited Ray. Besides robbing the rich, sex was his favorite pastime. Plus, he didn’t get to top often, so he would gladly lay Gavin out and show him how good Puerto Rican cock could be.

“Not a thing,” Ray gave into the flirting. “You gonna teach me what he likes?”

Gavin smirked, pulling away from Michael’s embrace and leaning into Ray’s. “He likes to watch.” The Brit whispered against Ray’s ear, giving a small kiss to his neck as he pulled away.

“Okay, enough yanking dicks! Come over here and introduce him to the rest of us!” A girl with red hair called over to us, making both Gavin and Michael laugh.

“Alright, alright,” Gavin said as he sauntered back to the lounge area with Michael attached at the hip.

For a moment, Ray took in the scene. Presumably, these were the other seven people in the game with him. Two girls and five boys, all lavishly dressed and very attractive. Barbara was still wearing the little black number from earlier, and beside her was another girl donning a flowy black pant with a white tube top and heels with more shine than the sun against the ocean. There were two slender boys to their right, curled against one another. One was Alfredo, whom Ray had encountered with Michael in the hall, and the other, he hadn’t seen before. Both were wearing black slacks and loosely fitting white button-ups. Ray was convinced he could use their shoes as a mirror with the way the light bounced off them. The last boy was more buff than the others, and the most casual, wearing a black tank top and dark wash skinny jeans.

Did Ray belong among these people? Why did Joel bring him here? Thoughts of being thrown from Burnie’s car into a pile of trash flashed back into his mind. The stench of rotten food and the texture of disposed napkins and mud. Then a realization dawned on him: did Joel know? Did he know about Burnie and what he did? Ray started fuming, frozen in his place by the door. His mind racing, wondering if this kindness was some sort of ploy to get him back in Burnie’s clutches. The air around him felt stale. Was it filling his lungs at all? He clutched at his chest to see if his heart was still there, but it was racing. The room was spinning, and he couldn’t see clearly. Where were his glasses? He touched his face and they were there, but he couldn’t see straight. Panic filled him. He couldn’t breathe. Purple spots filled his vision and the floor felt like it was rocking, moving back and forth like a boat at sea in the middle of a storm. His legs felt like jelly, shaking under the weight of his panic. What happened to that smooth jazz that caressed his eardrums? Why was it replaced with such a loud ringing? Where was this ringing coming from? The twinge in his heart wasn’t just a twinge anymore. What was happening? Where was he? Why was he here? Who is screaming his name? What? Why? How? Air. He needed air. He couldn’t see, everything was black.

A loud crack was the last sound he heard and a dull pain was the last sensation he felt before nothing.

Chapter Text

Ray woke to the sound of paced beeping and a headache like none he’d experienced before. His eyelids felt heavy, but he forced them open anyway. He was in an unfamiliar room, but a very familiar bed. It was a hospital bed, but definitely not a hospital room. He shot upright, but winced at the stinging pain in his head. There was a small, raised bump on his forehead, an IV in his arm, and a monitor clamped on his finger. The room was blurry, so he peered around for his glasses. They were sitting on the side table, next to a note that read:

Esther, contact me when he wakes up. - Joel

 Ray wondered aloud, “Who the fuck is Esther?”

 "That would be me,” A kind looking, Asian woman entered the room holding a clipboard and a bag of ice, and wearing what Ray could best describe as house clothes; a pair of sweatpants, socks, a tank top, and a cardigan. “How are you feeling Ray?”

 “Besides this splitting headache, fine.” Ray responded. “What happened?”

 “You don’t know.” It was less of a question, and more of statement drenched in surprise. She handed the ice bag to Ray and sat down on the foot of the bed. “You had a panic attack, Ray.”

 “What?” Ray looked at her in disbelief. “No fucking way. A panic attack? Why the fuck would I have a panic attack?”

 “Well, panic attacks can stem from many things, often trauma or stress, but really, it depends. Has anything like that happened to you, Ray?”

 Ray felt that same twinge in his chest, but like before, he pushed it away. “No, I’m fine.”

 “Hmm...Joel tells me you’re new to the game, right?” Esther crossed her legs and got comfy on her spot of the bed. “You know, I was once in the game too.”

 Ray gave a look of surprise, “Really?”

 Esther laughed, “Yes! Is that so surprising?”

 “No, but you just seem so...” He didn’t know what the right word was.

 “Normal?” Esther offered, and Ray laughed. “Yeah, I fell in love.”

 “Fell in love? With who?” He asked.

 “One of the Gents, of course. His name is Gus. You haven’t met him yet, but he brought me into the game when I was just a struggling waitress. He encouraged me to get my nursing degree.”

 “You’re a nurse?”

 “Yes! Why is everything so surprising to you?” Esther giggled. “I’m not at a practice or anything, but I’m often called in for things like this and sexual health stuff.”

 “So you’re like on-call healthcare for game members?” Ray asked.

 “Kind of,” She nodded. “I’m mostly here for STD testing, quick health advice, and some basic first aid.”

 “So wait? Did you test me?” Ray interrupted.

 “Yes, while you were sleep, I took a blood sample. It’s something I was going to do tonight anyway. It’s routine for new game members, but when they said you passed out, I had them bring you here early.”

 “Oh, so is everything good?” Ray was genuinely curious. It had been awhile since his last test.

 Esther nodded, “Yes, your STD results are all clear.”

 “That fast?” Ray was confused. “How long was I out?”

 “You were asleep most of the day – probably from exhaustion and dehydration – so it’s already night time. As for the results, they’re quick because the Gents and I have access to some great facilities.”

 “Oh, good, so why do you look like something else is wrong?” Ray asked, noticing something strange about Esther’s expression.

 She smiled softly, “I’m not that good at poker faces, am I?” She took a calming breath, “Listen Ray, I always know when someone is in need of further treatment,” She paused, as if she was going to say something upsetting. “And you’re probably going to hate me for saying this, but I do think you need further treatment, particularly therapy.”

 Ray liked Esther. She seemed kind, and he owed her for helping him out, but what she suggested crossed a line. He scowled, “Absolutely not, I’m not crazy. I do not need therapy.”

 “Ray, no one is calling you crazy.” Esther tried keep everything calm, but to no avail.

 “You know what? You don’t need to help me anymore.” He grabbed the IV line and yanked it from his arm, causing Esther to caution him, but he didn’t listen. It hurt, sure, but Ray’s felt worse. What was a little blood down the arm?

 “Ray!” Esther jumped up to grab some gauze from a small cart at the foot of the bed, moving in to stop the bleeding. “Let me help you! I’m sorry, I just-”

Ray slapped the gauze away, “I don’t need your fucking help!” Shit, that was too much, Ray’s conscience was getting to him, and the look on Esther’s face wasn’t doing much to stop it. “Listen, I get that you’re just trying to help, but I don’t need it. I don’t need help from anyone, so just leave me alone!”

 Esther crossed her arms, “No! You listen,” She was having none of this. “I’ll respect your wishes, sure. I’ll leave you alone even. I’ll call downstairs for Joel to come get you and not mention any of this,” She stood up, moving around the room to trash the IV needle and pick up the gauze. “But mark my words Ray, this will happen again. And again. And again, and eventually, you won’t be able to cope anymore if you don’t get help. I’m betting less than a week. See you then.” With that, she stormed out the room, slamming the door behind her, and leaving Ray feeling like a kid scolded by his mom.

 “Fucking hell,” He whispered under his breath. “A panic attack, really Ray?” He pulled his legs up to his chest and buried his face into his knees. He tried and tried to hold back the tears forming at the corners of his eyes, but a few of them escaped his grasp, waterfalling down his cheeks and meeting each other on the tip of his chin. “Fuck,” He used the blanket to wipe up his tears, and grabbed the neglected ice pack from his side to hold against his forehead. I need to get out of here, he thought just as the door opened again, causing Ray to hide his crying face.

 “Trashman, you’re a little more trouble than we bargained for, hmm?” It was Joel. “How’s the head?” He asked as his sat where Esther was just moments before.

 Ray didn’t respond, fearful that his voice would give away his emotional state.

 “Not speaking to me then?” Joel’s voice was a mix between playful and concerned. Ray didn’t know how to behave in this situation. Could he trust the man he suspected of bringing him back into the world of his rapist?

 “Okay, fine, you don’t have to. I’ll talk, no big deal.” Joel began. “So, Esther said you’re good to leave. I’m going to drop you off at Jack’s place tonight.”

 “What if I don’t want to?” Ray’s voice cracked.

 “He speaks!” Joel teased, but then got a bit more serious. “Well, you signed a contract to finish at least five cycles.”

 “Fuck your contract!” Ray exclaimed, finally showing his face to Joel, who was visibly surprised by the state of the young Puerto Rican’s face.

 “Why are you crying? Does something still hurt?” Joel reached out to thumb away one of Ray’s tears.

 “No, I just want to leave.” Ray couldn’t explain why he didn’t push Joel’s hand away. “You’ve been nice to me and everything, but I can’t stay in this.”

 “You can’t? Why can’t you?” Joel looked confused.

 Ray should have been more careful with his words, “Can I trust you? Like really?”

 “Of course.” Joel said as he ran a gentle hand through Ray’s hair.

 “No, you don’t understand. I'm going to be truthful, and like, if I could draft one of your stupid contracts, I would use it to swear you to secrecy.” Ray stressed.

 “Okay. Easy.” Joel grabbed a pen from his pocket and the note he left for Esther, flipping it over and scribbling something quickly, ending it with his signature. “Here,” He passed it to Ray. “You sign it too.”

 The note read: Joel will keep Ray’s secrets secret and always be truthful.

 Ray sniffled, wiping away his tears and scribbling his name down too. “Okay, I guess this is alright, since you guys are so gungho for contracts.” He sighed, pocketing the note and looking up at Joel.

 “You can trust me Ray,” Joel reached over to grab Ray’s hand, and again, Ray didn’t push him away.

 “I know someone in the game,” He began. “And we aren’t… on good terms, so I want to leave before something bad happens.”

 “Who do you know?” Joel seemed genuine, and Ray wanted to believe he was genuine, but he also wasn’t ready to let that twinge become more.

 “Doesn’t matter, I just don’t want to risk interacting with him again.”

 “Him? Is it one of the Gents?” Joel asked, but Ray stayed silent. “Okay, I get it, you don’t want to tell me everything. But at least let me know if it’s Jack or Gavin?”

 Ray hesitated. “No, but-”

 “Then finish the first cycle and I can set you up to leave next week. Sound good?” Joel wiped away Ray’s last tears.

 “I don’t know,” Ray pondered the idea. It wouldn't be too bad to spend the week with Jack and Gavin, but his fear of Burnie was ever-present.

 “You’ll be fine. You’ll stay at Jack’s, and you aren’t obligated to see anyone but Jack and Gavin.” Joel reassured.

 “Fine, but you better keep your fucking word. Next week. No later.” Ray finally cracked a small smile. He was feeling more like himself after opening up, if even a little.

 “There it is. That classic trashman smile.” Joel joked. “You know, since we’re being honest here, I’m going to be sad to see you go.” Joel’s thumb was gently caressing the back of Ray’s hand. “Our rules state the person who brings someone new into the game can’t take them on the first cycle. I wanted you, you know.”

 Ray didn’t know why Joel’s candid words made his heart speed, and for a short moment, Ray considered returning some candid words of his own. However, that’s not the Ray he liked presenting to the world, so he defaulted to his regular vulgar behavior. “Why? You wanted a more exotic fuck or something?”

 Joel laughed, “Sometimes I don’t know how to respond to you, but you got me half right. I do want to fuck you Ray. I’d fuck you right here, if this was my house.”

 Ray laughed as well, but his was more excited than Joel’s. Ray wanted to fuck this man too. More accurately, Ray wanted to fuck anyone else to wipe the feeling of Burnie’s touches away, and Joel would do just fine. “And the other half?”

 “I thought you were interesting,” Joel began. “In the alley, I was really only going to give you some money to get yourself cleaned up, but then you opened that mouth of yours-”

 Ray jokingly interrupted, “And you couldn’t help but picture your cock down my throat?”

 Joel legitimately laughed this time, “And you talked like that. Very fearlessly and without care. You got me hooked.”

 “So you like a potty mouth then? I can do that, I can be a real dirty boy for you Daddy, or would you prefer Papi?” Ray teased, discarding his ice pack and moving closer to Joel. “Would you like that, hmm?” He swung one leg over Joel’s lap, straddling him and draping his arms over the older man’s shoulders. “Or how about Master?” Ray voice dropped to a whisper as he gently laced his fingers through Joel’s hair, guiding their lips centimeters apart and hoping Joel would close the gap.

 “Ray, you’re trouble.” Joel whispered softly against Ray’s lips, as he ran his hands from the boy’s knees, across his thighs, and around to his ass.

 “I have a hunch you could handle it,” Ray smirked.

 An unfamiliar voice came from the doorway. “Goddamn it! How did I know you would be the one to fuck in the health room, Joel?” Ray glanced over his shoulder to see who interrupted his mood. It was a man dressed in sweats, and cradling a hot cup of tea.

 “Sorry Gus!” Joel laughed as he guided Ray off his lap, and stood up. “We were just leaving, I swear.”

 “Mm-hmm, sure you were. It certainly didn’t look like anything else.” Gus nodded, and then fixed his eyes on Ray. “You’re the new one, right? I’m told you’re Jack’s.” He stressed the last word and gave Joel the meanest stink-eye.

 Joel, scratching the back of head, coyly said, “Yeah, let’s just keep this between us, shall we?”

 “Mm-hmm,” Gus seemed so skeptical.

 Did Joel break some rule of the game?, Ray wondered as he collected himself to leave.

 “Okay, bye Gus! Give Esther my thanks,” Joel said as he grabbed Ray’s hand, ushering him passed Gus and into the hallway.

“Yeah, you better run!” Gus chuckled at the hurried way Joel rushed to the main doors. Gus’s house was more modest than Joel’s. Joel had an estate, Gus had a three story brick house on a moderately sized property. Ray would feel less overwhelmed traversing this place. It made Ray wonder what kind of house Jack had.

 Joel and Ray were back in the rich man’s Benz, but this time, there was more sexual tension and less stink. Ray glanced over at the older man’s face, trying to analyze his expressions. Joel seemed totally fine. He was someone who could keep composure, and Ray had a strong urge to break it. “So, how long ‘til we get to Jack’s place?”

 “About 15 minutes. We all live pretty close to each other.” Joel came to a light, gently tapping his fingers against the steering wheel to the slow, soft music moving through the car.

 “That’s plenty of time for what I want.” Ray leaned against the center console, purposefully brushing his arm against Joel’s.

 “And what exactly do you want?” Joel asked without breaking eye-contact with the road.

 “Your dick in my mouth.” Ray leaned across and placed his hand against Joel’s slight erection. “See, I can tell you want it. You should just let me do my thing.”

 “Your thing? I thought your mouth wasn’t for sale today.” Joel joked, recalling their first conversation.

 “Call it a freebie, an exclusive freebie.” From there, Ray worked. He unbuckled his seat belt and refastened it behind him, stopping the car’s safety warnings. This wasn’t Ray’s first rodeo. With both knees on the seat, he leaned across the center console, one hand clutching the cup holders for support, the other unzipping Joel’s pants.

 “Ray,” Joel said softly, teetering between stopping the boy and letting it happen.

 “Shh,” Ray guided Joel’s dick out from his boxers. “Go ahead and drive Daddy, keep us safe.”

 Ray started with gently licking at the tip to see how Joel would react to road head. Ray had a bad experience with a guy who couldn’t drive straight, so since then, Ray only does this on residential roads with guys that can handle it. And it seemed like Joel could handle it. For now.

 “Fuck it, clearly there’s no stopping you,” Joel grinned, placing his left hand on the wheel and the other at the back of Ray’s neck. “Let’s see if you can make me cum in less than 15 minutes.”

 Ray took that as a challenge. He made quick work of taking Joel’s full length down his throat, swirling his tongue against the shaft and tightening his lips around the base. He slowly bobbed his head, listening carefully for any vocal cues from Joel, trying to learn what he liked the most. He ran his tongue around the head of his dick, paying careful attention to the tip.

 “Fuck,” Joel exclaimed softly as Ray focused on the head. “Ray, I’m going to move your head, okay?”

 Ray hummed in agreement as Joel held his head securely down, forcing his cock down the younger boy’s throat. Ray moved his hand to Joel’s thigh, gripping tightly to let Joel know he was okay. Despite his release of control, Ray’s tongue didn’t stop dancing across Joel’s cock. He ignored the drool slipping down onto Joel’s boxers and dripping off his chin, not caring how messy Joel made him. If Ray was being honest, he wanted Joel to make him messy.

 “Fuck, Ray,” Joel released his grip to allow Ray to breathe, but without warning, pushed his head back down. “I need to pull over.” Joel let out a few heavy breaths as he rounded a corner into Jack’s neighborhood and parked against the curb, switching off the headlights. There, they continued; Joel thrusting up into Ray’s mouth and Ray taking it like a professional, not even gagging once. The rush of it all was a huge turn on for Ray, so much so that he pulled out his own cock and pumped at it wildly, hoping to climax with the older man.

 Joel started mumbling Ray’s name a midst a slew of vulgarities, and Ray knew it as a sure sign that Joel was approaching his ledge. If that wasn’t telling enough, pre-cum coated the back of Ray’s throat. It was a familiar taste. Joel released Ray’s neck, but that didn’t stop the boy from continuing his ministrations, focused on pushing Joel over his ledge.

 Joel’s hand moved along Ray’s back, stopping to grab a handful of his ass. “Why are you so good at this?” Joel said through struggling breaths as Ray pulled off with an audible pop and licked him from base to tip before taking him deep in his throat again. Ray could feel Joel’s cock getting harder and harder, so he knew Joel was enjoying himself. It was only a matter of time before the older man released. “Holy shit Ray, I’m cumming, you need to take it all, you understand? Don’t fucking drop any.”

 Joel’s words surprised Ray, but damn, did they satisfied his kinks. The commanding tone caused Ray to orgasm against the leather seats. He moaned, vibrating against Joel’s cock. The sensation caused Joel to grip the younger man’s hair, holding him in place to take the load down his throat. A warm, sticky substance filled the back of Ray’s mouth. He found it hard to swallow with Joel still so deep, so against his typical routine, he had to cough, causing rivulets of cum to spurt onto his chin and around his mouth. As Joel came back down from the heavens, he noticed Ray’s resistance to his hold. He let go of boy’s hair and let him sit up. The sight of Ray almost caused Joel to turn the car around and bring Ray back to his own estate.

 Ray leaned back, sitting with his feet under him, hair disheveled and cock out, dripping with the last remnants of his seed. His lips and chin were covered in drool and thick white cum, and his glasses were a bit askew. Even in the darkness of the neighborhood around them, Ray’s chest was slightly visible through the white button up. The best part was the way Ray’s tongue darted out to lick up the cum dripping down his chin.

 “You’re amazing.” Joel blurted out.

 “You’re not so bad yourself.” Ray smiled, using his fingers to push the remaining cum off his chin and into his mouth. “Was that 15 minutes?”

 Joel didn’t the seem to process the question, obviously too enamored with Ray. “I’m sorry, what?” Joel mumbled, eyes darting between Ray’s lips and eyes.

 Ray giggled, “You like watching me eat your cum?” He asked as he licked his finger clean, putting on a mini show for his favorite Gent.

 Joel smiled, “Yeah, I do.”

 “Well you told me to take it all, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint you, Daddy.” Ray looked pleased as he tucked his dick back into his briefs, and straightened out his hair.

 “Fucking hell, you are trouble.” Joel breathed out as he also tucked himself away. “You can’t let anyone know we did this. It breaks all the goddamn rules. The Gents would not be pleased.”

 “Yes sir,” Ray smiled, enjoying just how unraveled Joel’s calm was.

 Joel reached into the glove compartment to retrieve some napkins. “Here, clean up. We’re late.” He turned on the headlights and pulled away from the curb.

 As they approached the Pattillo mansion, Ray suddenly had tons of questions about his role there, but he really only had time for a couple. “What exactly does Jack want me to do?”

 Joel glanced over, “Honestly, I don’t know. All the Gents have their own preferences. During the day, you can just hang around the mansion, or go to school, or shopping or something. Really, whatever you like. All the Gents allow that as per the rules. The maids – you know, the ones in the suits – they will assist you with whatever you need. At night though, you’re Jack’s. You do whatever he asks within reason.” Joel explains as he pulls the car around the paved circle driveway. “Knowing Jack, you’ll probably just be required to do normal stuff, like eat dinner with him, talk with him, and stuff like that.”

 “Do I have to have sex with him?” It was Ray last question, as the maids could be seen descending the steps in front the main door, presumably to retrieve Ray.

 “The rules say no. If you don’t want to do something, you don’t have to. That’s something agreed upon by all the Gents.” Joel pressed the button to unlock the car.

 Ray was skeptical, especially since consent definitely wasn’t the first item on Burnie’s list during their first encounter. “Ok, well, thanks for dropping me off. I guess I will see you after a week.”

 “Maybe you’ll see me before that,” Joel said. “We’re having a dinner party at Geoff’s in two days. Everyone is invited. So, if you’re comfortable with that, you should come.”

 By now, the maids were standing outside the car door ready to open it once Joel gave them the go ahead. “Okay, maybe see you in two days then.” Ray mumbled.

 “Bye,” Joel said as he grabbed Ray by the chin and held him there for a quick kiss.

 Ray was surprised, “I thought that wasn’t allowed.”

 “Kisses are. Now get going,” Joel gestured to the maids to open the door.

 Ray stepped out, waving at Joel as the car pulled away. Suddenly, Ray was at the start of his first cycle and following the maids into the Pattillo mansion. A lot happened today. He was raped, thrown in trash, picked up by a fucking gazillionaire estate owner, inducted into some weird game, experienced a panic attack, and gave road head to someone he opted to trust despite his better judgment. Life was coming at him fast. Including now, where Gavin was careening towards him at high speeds just to give him a hug.

 “Ray!” Gavin exclaimed. “I was so worried about you.” He pulled away and gave Ray a look of concern. “Everyone was bloody gutted when you passed out like that, what happened?”

 Ray came up with a lie, “I hadn’t eaten is all. Malnutrition, ya know.”

 “Well, come on then, Jack’s waiting for us to eat.” Gavin said as he dragged Ray along by his hand.

 “Dinner this late? It’s like 9pm.” Ray was confused.

 “Yeah, Jack felt bad, and didn’t want to eat without you.” He explained, making Ray feel a bit bad for holding up dinner to suck dick.

 They entered a dinning room that could seat ten. Of course, by now, Ray should know to expect the high ceilings, but they were stunning every time. Jack’s home was simple but welcoming, with the main themes being white, marble, light washed woods, and glass. Everything fit that theme; the floor, the table, the chairs, even the dinnerware. The only thing that stood out were the black suited maids. This was what rich looked like to Ray now.

 “Ray, I’m glad to see you’re okay,” Jack spoke from his place at the head of the table. “Come, sit and eat.” Gavin let Ray go, and moved to the left of Jack, leaning in to place a quick kiss on Jack’s cheek before pulling away and sitting down. Ray walked to the right side of Jack, unsure as to whether he should give the man a kiss as well. He didn’t know if there were rules to be broken, but he remembered what Joel said about consent being their thing, so he opted to not give the man a kiss before taking his seat.

 “Now, you don’t have any allergies, right? We are having steak, potatoes, and vegetables. I tried to keep it as allergen free as possible. The cook is prepared with other options if need be.”

 “No, I’m good with anything.” Ray responded softly.

 “Ray, you can relax you know, you’re not for dinner.” Jack chuckled.

 “Not unless you want to be.” Gavin playfully added.

 Ray laughed a little, “Okay, sorry, I’m just not sure what to do here.”

 Jack leaned back as the maids brought their meals out, placing them perfectly between the silverware. “Well, really, there’s no pressure to do anything. I just want to get to know you.”

 “Okay, yeah, I can do that.” Ray said as his stomach growled. He really has not eaten all day, so this meal was a welcomed treat. He couldn’t remember the last time he was treated to steak. He grabbed a fork, not really caring which one out of the two. He really couldn’t be bothered to adhere to some strict table manners. He dug in. The steak was super juicy, rivaling his idea of what a good steak was. He all but inhaled the potatoes, and the vegetables were pretty damn tasty as well.

 Jack laughed, glancing at Gavin, “Looks like we chose the right meal.”

 Gavin laughed too, “I’m glad.”

 “Ray, what would you like to drink?” Jack asked as he sliced his steak.

 “Dr. Pepper,” Ray said instinctively. “I mean, only if you got it.”

 “Absolutely,” Jack gestured for a maid. “Bring us two beers and a Dr. Pepper for Ray.” The maid nodded and disappeared to the kitchen for a few minutes, only to emerge with a tray of drinks.

 “This is really tasty,” Ray said as he nearly finished his meal. It was quick, something Ray learned on the street. When given food, eat it and eat it fast, because Ray never knew when his next meal would be. He grabbed his glass of Dr. Pepper and chugged half.

 “A quick eater, then?” Jack commented. “What did you do before this?”

 Ray paused, formulating a believable lie. “I, um, I was an escort.” This was Ray’s favorite kind of lie. The kind that are not complete lies, but also are not total truths. Ray had no real job. He was a thief that turned himself out to rob rich men like Jack and the other Gents.

 “Oh!” Gavin exclaimed, clearly interested. “Lindsey used to do that too. She met tons of different people and got to go to some fancy events. That’s how she met Geoff and got into the game with us.” He paused to take a bite of food. “Did you work with a company or…?” He left the ending open.

 “No, no company. I, uh, worked for myself.” More subtle lies, Ray thought. 

“So, you’re an entrepreneur, nothing wrong with that.” Jack commented, placing a piece of steak in his mouth, careful to avoid his beard hairs.

 Ray smiled, “Never thought of it like that.”

 “So, after dinner, I’ll show you to your room, okay?” Gavin said, “You’re gonna love it, I’m sure.”

 “Honestly, anything would work, I’m not picky.” Ray mentioned, flashing to memories of sleeping on boxes in alleyways, dirty couches in trap houses, and park benches. Really, anything goes for Ray. Sure, he stole from the rich, but most of the money he got after pawning it went right back into his schemes. One time he spent one thousand dollars in a club just to impress another high roller, who he stole four grand from. Most of which went into paying back debts to old friends and enemies, but anything remaining went to cons, clothes, and food.

 “Well, let me know if what’s provided isn’t to your liking,” Jack said between small bites. “We can always make changes.”

Dinner went on like that; calm talk, mostly about getting to know each other. Ray discovered Jack was the head architect and CEO of a construction company that builds multi-million dollar houses for elites and celebs. As for Gavin, he moved here from England to be a film maker, with his work focused on slow motion film effects but was never given the chance to show his talents until he met Michael, who introduced him to Joel.

Apparently, all the Gents have connections to fame and business. Gavin explained that after Barbara met Burnie, she was able to run her own podcast where she interviewed celebs and other high-rollers at the top of their industries. Gavin was working on his Master’s degree in film making. All these opportunities come courtesy of the Gents.

Ray thought about what he would want to do with the opportunities given to him. When he first moved here, he was going to college to get into video game development but had financial issues. He was unable to complete his degree and get into the industry. He was so discouraged from chasing those dreams that he turned to some pretty dark shit. However, with this, he could get back into it again. The hopeful moment was brief and overshadowed by how much he wanted to leave the game. How much he wanted to escape Burnie. He knew the opportunity for a paid college tuition was something he should jump toward, but he couldn’t if it was a jump towards his rapist as well.

Dinner was finished, and by the end, Ray felt more comfortable around Gavin and Jack. Maybe this week won’t be so bad after all, he thought.

Jack didn’t seem pushy or expecting. He was the only one out of the whole group that didn’t make sexual comments all the time. He was also pretty sexy, like Mr. Clean sexy or Brawny paper towel sexy. Ray thought Jack would be a gentle lay, real careful and slow. Ray wasn’t used to that but he wouldn’t complain if the chance was presented to him. Gavin wasn’t too bad either. Ray thought he would be a loud lay, a screamer. Ray could see himself switching with Gav, giving and taking.

Jack retired to his study, leaving Gavin to lead Ray up to his room. Jack’s house was filled with white doors, and Ray wondered how he would ever navigate this place. They walked through an upstairs lounge area - complete with a bar and small stage like the one at Joel’s place - and they arrived to a hallway with names and locks on all the doors. Gavin brought him to a door with ‘Ray’ embossed on a small placard and pulled a key ring from his pocket to unlock it.

“And here it is!” Gavin exclaimed. “So, do you like it?”

The room was simple – with a high ceiling, obviously – it reminded Ray of the beach. The floors were a white hardwood, the furniture was mostly a sandy tone with white granite tops, and the bed sheets were a pale blue with dozens of white throw pillows. There was a glass door that lead to a walk-in closet, stocked with fancy clothes and jewelry, and similar door that lead to a full bathroom. The mounted TV was so huge that Ray questioned if it was custom. There was even a door to a giant, shared balcony he assumed connected to the other game members’ rooms.

“I love it,” Ray said. “But is it really okay for me to be here?”

“Of course,” Gavin chuckled. “The Gents like to be providers. Honestly, ask for whatever you want. Oh, and Michael got you a gift. There are also a few other things there for you too.” He gestured to the vanity to the left of the door with a box and two cards atop it.

“I’ll let you get settled in for the night,” Gavin handed Ray the key ring. “Here’s all the keys to every one of your rooms.”

“What do you mean every one?” Ray gave a confused look.

“You have a room like this in each Gent’s house, dude.” Gavin smiled.

“Wow, uh, thanks Gav.” Ray smirked and placed the keys down on the vanity.

“No problem, the cellphone over there is also yours. It gives you access to the maids and you can also call anyone in the game from it.” Gavin turned to exit, “Goodnight!”

“Night,” Ray responded, locking the door behind the Brit before moving to open the gifts.

Ray opened the box from Michael first. It was all black with a white fabric ribbon on top. Inside was another box with the iconic Vans logo and a note that simply read: Welcome dude. It was a pair of checkered Vans, just like he asked for earlier. Honestly, it was one of the nicest things he received all day.

The next gift was a card in a white envelope with his name adorned on the front in gold detail. Inside was a cheesy Get Well Soon card from Hallmark with signatures from Michael, Gavin, Lindsey, Barbara, Jeremy, Trevor, and even Alfredo. It was legitimately sweet and it made Ray smile, a genuine smile.

The last envelope was simpler than the first; no embossed name, but just ‘Ray’ written in black ink. Inside was a note from Jack.

 It read:

Ray,

I would like to welcome you to my home. I know things may take some getting used to, so take all the time you need. If there is anything I can do to make your stay a bit more comfortable, please do not hesitate to ask. As you may know, this game does imply some extra ‘nighttime’ duties, but as this is your first cycle, I place no pressure on you to complete them. That being said, if you are interested, my door is always open to you. We move at your pace and value your consent.

- Jack


Jack’s note caused Ray to blush a little. The bearded Gent was just as kind as Ray thought, and honestly, it was kind of a turn on. Ray could definitely go for some good sex right now. He needed to get his mind off of panic attacks and Burnie. Maybe he would visit Jack tonight, just to see what kind of man he was in the bedroom. Ray knew how telling that could be.

Ray recalled what Gavin said earlier, about Jack liking to watch. Ray grabbed the phone on the nightstand, and selected Gavin from the contacts list. As it rang, Ray began exploring the closet, noticing right away that this wardrobe was curated based on Jack’s desires. Many of the clothes were white, tan, or pastel. Nothing too revealing for daytime wear; however, when Ray got to the drawers, he could definitely see the kinks. There were plenty of lacier and see-through pieces. As Ray explored, he thought it was going to be more feminine with traditional bras and panties. He was wrong. All of it was somewhere on the spectrum between masculine and feminine. Lots of shorts, tank tops, crop tops, strappy, lacey, and flowy things, but not a thong or bra in sight. Jack’s choices were very particular.

Yeah?” Gavin answered.

“Gav, what should I wear for Jack tonight?” Ray asked, his tone familiar like he was talking to a friend.

The Brit made a sound Ray could only call an excited bird noise. “You’re going to Jack’s room tonight!? I wanna come too. Hold on, I’ll come over to help out.” Gavin hung up and Ray could hear him rustling around in his room next door. It was less than a minute before he was in hall and knocking at Ray’s door.

When Ray opened it, Gavin had a small bunch of his own clothes piled in his arms. “Makeover time lad.” Gavin smiled and entered, throwing his pile on Ray’s white rug and sitting cross-legged on the floor. “So,” He began. “Jack’s into sweet things, like soft and a bit frilly, but still masculine. Think: boy lolita.”

“Okay,” Ray nodded and gestured to his closet and the pile of pastel clothes Gavin brought with him. “I think I can manage that. Anything else?”

Gavin thought for a moment, “Like I said before, he likes a good show but he also enjoys, like, genuine affection. That’s why he’s so serious about getting to know us first.” He said as he started matching a few pieces together from his pile.

“Okay, I’m going to try on a few things,” Ray said as he disappeared into the closet. “You have to judge as if you were Jack!” Ray spent about five minutes picking pieces that he thought looked good, and emerged with a full look. He chose a pair of tight white, silk shorts and a see-through tank top with lace for straps. “How do I look?”

“Like you need more,” Gavin commented. “I know just the thing.” He made his way to a dresser drawer and pulled out some white thigh-high stockings with a lacy garter belt for the waist with pastel blue straps to connect the two.

“This is what you need.” Gavin tossed them to Ray. “And grab a short sleeve crop top instead.”

Ray was a bit skeptical but he’s worn weirder stuff before. “Okay, give me a second.” As Ray assembled the rest of his outfit, Gavin threw on some flowy white pants and a lacy collar.

“Let me see how you look Ray!” Gavin called out.

Ray stepped from the closet, feeling a bit uncomfortable, “How’s this?”

Gavin beamed, “Yes! You’re looking right sexy.” He bounded over and ushered Ray into the bathroom so he could see himself in the full length mirror. “See? Don’t you just look smashing?”

Ray laughed, “Yeah, I guess.” He ran his fingers across the belt at his navel, and trailed down the straps, mindlessly adjusting the lace at the top of the thigh highs. He looked up at Gavin through the mirror, “You’re looking pretty good too dude.”

“Thanks, I like to keep it simple.” Gavin slinked his arms around Ray’s waist and gave a loving squeeze. “You sure you’re good with this? There’s no pressure, even now.”

“Yeah, I’m cool with it,” Ray smirked, mostly because fucking people was the only skill he was confident about.

“Right, well I’m gonna go brush my teeth, and prep the ol’ bum. Let’s meet in the hall in fifteen to go to Jack’s room together, yeah?” Gavin asked as he started toward the door.

“Yeah.” Ray affirmed, watching as Gavin collected his small pile of clothes and exited. Ray thought he should probably brush his teeth too, especially considering he had cum before dinner. The bathroom came stocked with plenty of items. Even the items needed for cleaning ‘the ol’ bum’ as Gavin so eloquently stated. So Ray brushed his teeth, washed his face and his ‘bum’, applied a quick coat of deodorant, and brushed his hair back. He gave himself another quick once over, thinking about how crazy this all was, but also how excited he was for another good orgasm. It would definitely help keep his mind off all the bad.

Ray met Gavin in the hall, where they walked together to the biggest door in the whole mansion. Outside stood two maids, who promptly knocked on Jack’s door to announce the lads’ presence. Gavin seemed so confident in his outfit around these women, unlike Ray, who was a bit self conscious.

Jack voice could be heard through the door, signaling them to enter. He was propped up against the center of the headboard in his king sized bed, shirtless and reading a book. He looked up at Gavin and Ray with a smile. “Hey boys, come on over.” Jack’s voice was so welcoming. Ray knew this was going to be an easy lay. Jack seemed pretty vanilla in terms of sexual kinks. If all he wanted was a show and a cute outfit, Ray had this. It was only improved by Gavin’s presence. So many times in Ray’s past had he faced sexual experiences like this by himself, but this time, he could breathe easier know Gavin was here as a guide to all things Jack.

Similar to how he walked with Michael, Gavin placed a gentle arm around Ray’s waist. His fingers dancing idly on the garter belt’s lace as he guided Ray over to the bed. He placed one knee and then the other onto the mattress, motioning for Ray to do the same.

Jack closed his book and leaned over to place it on the nightstand. He did the same with his glasses, and then fixed his eyes onto Gavin and Ray. “You both look beautiful.” Jack’s words were sincere.

“Thanks Jack,” Gavin used the Gent’s name. Ray took note of that, and followed Gavin’s lead as he crawled over to one side of Jack, leaving the other open. Ray took the opening, sitting closely to the Gent, unsure of how to behave just yet.

Jack reached a hand up to cup Ray cheek, “Do you want this?” He asked softly.

Thinking about Gavin’s tips of giving genuine affection, Ray leaned into Jack’s hand, “Yes Jack, I want this.” He responded sweetly. It was a little off brand for Ray but he was open to this. He thought of it as role play. No harm in that. He leaned up and placed a kiss on the older man’s lips, which was returned and deepened. Jack’s beard was soft against Ray face, “I like your beard.”

Jack chuckled, “I like your glasses.”

“I’d like to get in on this,” Gavin joked with a smile. Jack chuckled some more, placing a hand on Gavin’s thigh, “Sorry Gav, I’m just excited that Ray’s here.”

Ray, in gaining some confidence from Jack’s words, leaned across the Gent’s lap to steal a kiss from Gavin. “I like your voice, Gavin.”

The Brit pulled Ray in deeper, gripping at his dark hair and thrusting his tongue between Ray’s lips. Without breaking the kiss, Gavin climbed carefully across Jack’s lap to straddle Ray, rubbing their growing groins against each other. Ray made a small sound at the contact, not realizing how thin the fabric he wore was.

Gavin finally pulled his lips away, “You liked that Ray?” He rocked his hips against the silk of Ray’s shorts, eliciting another pleased sound from Ray.

“Yes,” Ray moaned. “I like it.” He enjoyed it, especially since he has craved the touch of someone else since his quickie with Joel in the car.

“Tell Jack how much you like it,” Gavin whispered as he trailed kisses and bites down Ray’s neck, surely leaving some marks behind. “Tell him Ray, go on.”

Ray locked gazes with Jack, who, despite his typical kind eyes, had the look of a man lost in arousal. It was a look Ray knew well, and he wondered if it was all because of the their little show. “I like it so much Jack,” Ray began, knowing that in moments like this, it was all in the details. “But I want more.” He broke gazes with Jack and tilted his head up, looking at Gavin like he was a meal. “Hey Jack, how much do you like this?” Ray asked as he pushed Gavin forward into the mattress, giving Jack a full view of his silk covered ass.

Jack placed his left hand firmly on Ray’s inner thigh, the other went to his own cock, “Very.” Jack breathed out, caressing the underside of Ray’s butt, as he stared at the younger boys wildly kissing each other. “I want you to fuck him, Ray.” Jack said,

Jack’s words went right to Ray’s dick. Being told what to do was Ray’s favorite thing. “Absolutely,” Ray pulled away from Gavin’s mouth to remove his flowy pants and toss them off the side of the bed. “Think you can handle this, Gav?” He said playfully as he smiled down at the exposed Brit beneath him.

Gavin slid his hands down Ray’s chest and hooked his thumbs on the elastic of Ray’s shorts, yanking them down to his knees in one hard pull. “Think you can handle this, new boy?” Gavin teased as he lifted his right leg above Ray’s shoulder and pressed himself forward onto Ray’s length. The Brit threw his head back at the penetration, moaning out loud.

Ray smirked at the sensation. He admired Gavin’s moxie but Ray needed more than sudden actions to be overwhelmed. The situation was always under Ray’s control and he was going to demonstrate just how much. He pushed his length deeper inside Gavin until he couldn't go any further, and then pushed some more, watching as the boy beneath him arched his back and trembled. Ray’s left hand gripped Gavin’s thigh and the right massaged the Brit’s rock hard erection, causing him to throw his hips up to get more pleasure on his own. Ray, still not moving, was enjoying the tease. “So eager,” He slowed his hand, hoping to drive Gavin to begging.

“Fuckin’ hell, Ray.” Gavin mumbled out in frustration.

Ray smiled deviously, “Who can’t handle who again?”

Gavin looked so desperate, throwing his hips against Ray in an attempt to be pleasured, but he couldn’t get the right kind of pressure by himself, and Ray knew that. “I can’t handle you Ray, I can’t.”

Ray gave in a little, giving Gavin three deep, hard thrusts making the Brit scream, and then cry out for Ray to fuck him. Just like he thought, Gavin was a screamer. Ray was reveling in this; way too deep in his own head to maintain the sweet boy role. “Jack, you see how much he wants it? Should I give it to him, hm?”

Jack moved behind Gavin, letting his dick fall against the Brit’s face, “Go ahead Ray,” Jack ran his fingers across Gavin’s chest, who shivered at the touch. Ray stole a quick glance up at Jack, who did really seem to be enjoying this.

“Hear that Gav, I get to give you what you want.” Ray let loose, relentlessly emptying and filling the boy beneath him. It had been so long since Ray had done this, but talent like this doesn’t just evaporate. He knew exactly what he was doing. He tested different angles until Gavin was literally writhing, and screaming against Jack’s erection.

“Look Jack, look at me, don’t look at him.” Ray breathed out. “Tell me how beautiful I look, Jack.”

Jack’s eyes moved from Gavin, whose tongue was lapping desperately at the underside of the Gent’s dick, and looked up. Ray was glistening with a small layer of sweat, which made his see-through crop top even more transparent. His hands were on Gavin, tightly holding the moaning boy’s hips off the mattress. His hair was sticking to the top of his forehead and his glasses slid down the bridge of his nose. Above the brim of his glasses, his eyes were intensely fixed on Jack’s.

“You look stunning, fucking him like that.” Jack was wrapped around Ray’s finger; his fantasy hijacked by the newest boy in the game.

“You can do better than that,” Ray said as he slightly bit his lip.

Jack’s eyes darted between Ray’s intense eyes and Gavin’s desperate mouth. “You’re so gorgeous, I want to be inside you Ray.” The Gent mused aloud. “I want to-”

“I’m gonna cum!” Gavin screamed, interrupting Jack and demanding Ray’s attention.

“Not unless Jack says you can.” Ray said as he guided Jack’s hand to Gavin’s cock, showing him how to grip it at the base to deny Gavin’s final pleasure.

Gavin moaned out Jack’s name, “Let me cum, Jack, let me cum, let me cum.”

Ray was panting, but refused to slow his pace, “Jack, I didn’t hear a please, did you?”

“No, Ray, I don’t think I did,” Jack fell victim to Ray’s lead, probably enjoying this just as much as much as Ray was. Ray gripped harder at Gavin’s waist, leaving marks as he pulled at the boy beneath him, slamming into his deepest parts. Ray was starting to feel a familiar warmth in his gut, but he resisted it, hoping to make it longer than Gavin.

Tears were welling up in Gavin’s eyes, “Please Jack. Please let me cum, please, please, I want it, please!”

That was all Jack needed to hear. He released his hold on the young lad and watched as Ray gave one final thrust, leaving himself buried inside. Gavin’s body shook in climax, his back arched and his chest wildly fluctuated with heavy breaths. A thick white cum shot against the Brit’s stomach, and loud moans dripped from his lips. As Gavin came down, his breathing steadied and his body slumped into the mattress. Ray was smiling at the sight and pulled out slow, still sporting a pretty intense erection.

“Bloody hell Ray,” Gavin chuckled weakly. “How?”

Ray gave a sly smile, “Well, Jack didn’t say I could cum, so I didn’t.”

Jack blushed, “Fuck, I-” He seemed really flustered by the notion of Ray only cumming if given permission. “I can make you cum Ray. Just watching you has me on edge, you’re so amazing.”

Gavin sat up, placed quick kisses on both Jack and Ray, and flopped to the unused side of the bed, “Have at it guys, I’m knackered.”

Jack pulled Ray close to him, placing a deep kiss on the younger boy’s lips. “I’m really lucky to have you here.” It was more of Jack’s affection.

Ray tried his best to reciprocate through gentle touches. “I’m glad you chose me,” Ray said with sincerity, trying to put the thought of Burnie having him out his head. “And I really enjoyed your note. It was very sweet.”

“I’m glad you liked it,” Jack smiled as he gently pushed Ray down on the mattress and pulled the silk shorts from around his knees, caressing his stocking covered legs on the way. He spread Ray’s legs, stopping briefly to ask, “Are you sure?”

Ray nodded, prompting Jack to gently push his erection into the boy.

“Fuck, that’s good,” Ray moaned, eyes fixed on Jack’s length dipping into him. “Put it all in Jack, I can take it.”

Jack smirked and bottomed out Ray, eliciting a pleasure filled moan from the younger boy. The Gent set a steady pace, hands at Ray’s sides where the lace sat and pulling at him much like he did to Gavin. “You feel so good, Ray,” Jack breathed out, falling forward and interlocking his fingers with Ray’s. He pushed Ray’s hands above his head into the mattress and leaned over to kiss his forehead.

But Ray didn’t like that.

Why didn’t he like that? This was his thing. Sex was his thing, but he did not like that. He didn’t like the way Jack’s body covered his. He didn’t like how he couldn’t move his hands. His moans of pleasure slowly turned into uncomfortable grunts. He didn’t like how unsafe he felt, despite everything around him being safer than he’s been in a long while. He looked up at Jack, whose eyes were closed tight, lost in the pleasure.

“Um, Jack,” Ray mumbled softly, trying not to ruin the mood but things were getting stifling. A familiar feeling of not being able to breathe crept up on him. Ray was feeling the twinge come back, and he hated it. He needed to fight it. “Jack,” Ray said, firmer this time. He pulled his hands free and pushed up against the older man’s chest, trying not to seem too resistant but probably failing. Panic was rising from his gut, and all the feeling he had from Jack’s movements was gone. “Jack, stop!”

Jack’s eyes finally opened and Ray watched as the pleasure dropped from his face, which wasn’t his intention at all. “Ray!” Jack exclaimed, immediately stopping all his motions, pulling out, and sitting up. “Ray, I’m so sorry, what did I do? Did I hurt you?” Jack asked, as Gavin flipped over with an urgent look to see why what happened.

“No, it’s fine, don’t stop. Just,” Ray tried to maintain the mood but neither of the men looked convinced.

“But, Ray, you’re crying.” Gavin said, concerned.

Ray gave them both a look of disbelief. He brought a hand to his face, surprised to find tears falling from the corners of his eyes. What the fuck, Ray thought, not understanding how he didn’t feel the amount of tears on his face. He glanced between Jack and Gavin, unsure about what to do. That feeling alone broke his calm guise. “I, um, sorry, I just-” Ray was flustered, a pit forming in his stomach for failing at his only actual job. The mood was everything, and he’d just destroyed it. “It’s fine, I’m fine, we- Um,” Ray was stammering, his mind incapable of processing his fucked up feelings. Why did that scared him so much? How much did Burnie mess him up? Why was this happening to him?

“Ray, it’s okay,” Gavin moved closer to run a calming hand through Ray’s hair. “You’re fine, we’re fine. Just breathe.”

Gavin’s words helped Ray push the twinge back down. He kept his eyes fixed on Gavin as he steadied his breath and wiped the tears from his cheeks. Gavin hummed softly, “That’s it, you’re okay. Do you want to stop?”

Ray blushed at this care. Most of the men he spent his time with wouldn’t care about a few tears, and typically, neither would Ray. “No, just another position.” Ray was so embarrassed with himself. He was so convinced that sex would be no problem. It was just sex. Why was his brain fucking with him like this?

“I can do that,” Jack said sweetly, cupping Ray’s hand in his and bringing them up for a small kiss. “Is from behind okay?”

Ray nodded, flipping over on all fours, presenting his ass to Jack. “Go ahead, and again, sorry.”

Jack placed a kiss on the center of Ray’s back and said, “Don’t be sorry. You’re safe here.” With that, he eased himself back into Ray. “Is this good?” Jack dragged his fingers up Ray’s thighs.

Ray let himself get back in the moment, despite his surely red face and pit of embarrassment in his stomach. “Yes Jack, yes.” Ray’s breath was shallow, as Jack pulled himself out just enough to leave the tip of his erection in and then slid back in just as slowly.

“Fuck, I am not going to last long,” Jack said as he picked up the pace, hands going to Ray’s sides for leverage.

“Is this good for you Ray?” Gavin moved to sit in front of the other lad, whose face was buried in the mattress. “Look up. I wanna make sure you’re okay.”

Ray lifted his face from the mattress, making eye contact with Gavin. His face was tinted red, and he was biting on his bottom lip in attempt to keep his composure. He could feel Jack real deep inside him, hitting all his favorite spots, but none of that was new to him. That wasn’t why he was struggling to hold back his reactions. No, it was the way Jack’s hands were touching him and the whole affection fantasy. This unusual care they were giving him amplified the pleasure. Ray was trying to maintain control over himself, but he knew he was losing it, and now, so did Gavin.

“Oh Jack, you aren’t the only one not lasting long.” Gavin said with a smirk as he watched Ray’s lips fall open and release the most intoxicating moan.

“Fuck Jack!” Ray screamed, not caring about how desperate he was. “I fucking love it, I fucking love it. Don’t stop, please don’t stop!”

Jack’s body tensed a bit at Ray’s voice, “Fuck, I can’t. You have to cum Ray. I want to make you cum so bad.” Jack grabbed Ray’s arms by the elbow, getting better leverage to pick up speed and revealing Ray’s dripping erection to Gavin.

“I’ll help out, Jack.” Gavin leaned forward, taking Ray’s full length in his mouth.

And that was it for Ray.

The sensations became too much for him. His whole body shuddered, as the warmth pooling in the stomach overflowed and he filled Gavin’s mouth. The whole experience only improved by the feeling of Jack’s final thrusts and cum shooting into him.

Gavin leaned back, swallowing happily and giggling at the tired, yet pleased face Jack was making. The Gent pulled out slow, enjoying the sight of his cum dripping from Ray’s ass. “Ray, you’re so fucking beautiful.” Jack said as he slumped into the bed.

Ray smiled, following the older Gent’s lead and falling against the pillows, “Thanks Jack.”

“Yeah, Ray,” Gavin cuddled up against the other boy, placing lazy kisses on the back of his neck. “You’re so good at this. You’re so amazing.”

Ray drifted off calmly.

The sweet sounds of Jack and Gavin’s affection lulling him into peaceful dreams.

Chapter Text

Ray awoke to a stream of light beaming onto his face from between the white curtains. Sounds of the bathroom shower swarmed Jack’s room, and a familiar soreness plagued his backside. Though it was nice to know it was because of Jack and Gavin. He really enjoyed his night with them. So much so that the thought of getting to do it again made his cheeks flush. His excitement was only elevated by the thought of doing that with Joel. If Joel got him, would their nights be like that? He fantasized as he rolled against the sheets and off the bed. His legs were just as sore as his butt, which was just as sore as his arms. Really, his whole body ached. His previous lays were all tops, so he often just took what was given to him. Besides the occasional ride, it had been a while since he exerted himself like that to please someone.

Ray moved to Jack’s mirror that sat just outside the bathroom door. He was still wearing the clothes Jack liked – minus the shorts – but, they were a bit disheveled. His hair was sticking up in all directions and the garter belt straps had given up. One of the thigh highs had slid down, bunching at his knee. Despite that, he wasn’t as sticky as he expected to be after a night like that. It was like someone wiped his body clean while he slept. He knew that type of care was Jack’s thing.

The shower stopped, and from the door, Ray could hear Gavin humming video game tunes. Ray knocked, “Hey Gav, can I come in?”

Gavin swung open the door, “Ray, you’re up!” He exclaimed happily. He had a towel wrapped around his waist, and his hair stuck to his forehead, still damp from the shower.

“Yeah, just woke up, what time is it?” Ray stepped into the big bathroom, moving to the sink to wash his face.

Gavin moved beside him, grabbing a disposable toothbrush from the sink’s drawer. “About eight in the morning. I’ve got class in an hour, so I’m heading out soon.”

Ray lifted his face from the sink, water dripping against his transparent top. “Wait, if you’re leaving, what do I do today?”

Gavin, brushing his teeth, shrugged. “Up to you.” He mumbled through the foamy toothpaste dripping from the corner of his mouth.

Ray didn’t know what he wanted to do. On a normal day, he would probably find some guy to target, but he didn’t need to do that anymore. If he needed food, he could just ask one of the maids. If he was tired, he could just sleep without worrying about his surroundings. If he needed or wanted anything, he could have it. So why didn’t he know what to do? Ray shrugged as well, “I don’t have anything to do.”

“Well, if you clean up quick, you can come to class with me.” Gavin offers. “My team is working on a project final, and we have to complete some studio time.”

Ray considered it for a moment, “I won’t be in the way or anything, right?”

Gavin shook his head, “Nope, I’ll just say you're a model for the project or something.”

“Okay, sounds good, then I’m gonna go clean up and meet you out front in twenty.” Ray said as he started towards the bathroom door.

Gavin reached out to grab Ray’s arm. “Before you go,” He pulled Ray against his chest.

“Gav!” Ray laughed. “You’re still wet dude!”

“I know, but I couldn’t help it! You came in here with your knob out!” Gavin’s laugh echoed against the tile of the bathroom. Despite the cold water soaking into the mesh-like fabric of his cropped shirt, Ray felt really secure here. He sunk into Gavin’s embrace, soaking up his warmth. Hands started moving. Gavin’s to Ray’s bareness and Ray’s to Gavin’s stubbly chin. The moment was shifting, and it was shifting fast. Both boys forgetting, for a moment, their responsibilities. Instead, enjoying the touches of the other.

“Gavin,” Ray whispered against the Brit’s face. “You’re giving me a boner.” He giggled, muffling his laughter against Gavin’s collarbone.

“You’re giving me one!” Gavin’s laugh was so unique. Ray loved it.

“Okay, okay, I’m gonna go shower,” Ray placed another quick kiss on Gavin’s cheek, and ambled out of the bathroom, scooping up his discarded shorts on his way, and stepping into them before heading out the bedroom.

Jack’s house was very difficult to navigate. Ray couldn’t remember which hallway led back to the lounge area. He quickly tried three hallways, trying to be fast so he could catch up with Gavin later. One hall seemed to be full of maid quarters, the next was filled with storage and maintenance closets, and the last was blocked off but labeled security personnel only. The Gents were at the center of huge operations. Despite his con man nature and the places he’s wiggled his way into, Ray could honestly say that he had never been in a house with rooms for workers. Ray walked along the left of the hallway, brushing his fingers against the off-white wall, treating the mansion like a video game labyrinth. Eventually, he would get to where he needed to be.

“Ahem!” A voice erupted from behind Ray. “Do you need assistance, sir?” It was a female voice. When Ray turned around, one of the maids from his appraisal stood behind him. She stood out because of her long hair that she wore down, unlike the other maids who always sported buns or short cuts.

“Sure, I got kinda lost looking for my room.” Ray shrugged. “I’m Ray, and you are?”

“Tina,” She motioned for Ray to follow her. They turned the way Ray came, back towards Jack’s room.

“I remember you from the appraisal. I thought you worked for Joel.” Ray took this interaction as an opportunity to find out more about the not-so-simple game he signed up for.

“I’m the head maid that serves underneath the gentlemen.” It was the first time anyone besides Barbara called them gentlemen. “I manage the maids across all gentlemen properties.” Tina lead them past Jack’s room and towards a large sliding door that disappeared into the wall and revealed the lounge.

“That wasn’t there before,” Ray commented.

“It is typically closed during the morning. No maids are allowed in this wing of the property unless directed by a gentlemen or one of their charges, such as yourself.” Tina stopped in the lounge. “The only exception is for cleaning, which happens at the request of a charge or routinely on the nights of the weekly trades.”

“I see,” Ray nodded, marveling at the disappearing wall. Was that meant to conceal this strange game from regular, unknowing guests? Ray wondered for a moment how far the Gents would go to keep this from going public. This wall was probably just a scratch on the surface.

Ray fixed his attention on Tina, “Is it true that the maids can get me anything?”

Tina made a face of someone who has been asked these questions before. “Yes, within reason, we do have the means to procure anything.”

“How exactly is that done though? The shoes for example. I asked for that yesterday morning and they were sitting and waiting for me when I got here last night.” Ray was genuinely curious. Questions that he neglected to ask before were all spinning in his head now, and he knew that Tina had answers. “And don’t you think any of this is weird? Like, look at what I’m wearing, you don’t think this is strange? You don’t look that much older than me, so how did you get this job? Where does all the money come from?”

Tina seemed unfazed by Ray’s burst of curiosity, and maintained her workplace facade well. “All services we provide come courtesy of the gentlemen. For instance, your shoes came as a request from Michael. Shoes are an easier item to access because Master Geoff owns a clothing company with ties to other luxury brands in the business, but beyond that, since it was such a common brand, we sent a runner to the local mall to purchase them.”

Ray didn’t know whether to take that as an insult or compliment. He fucking liked his common shoe brand, and everyone else could suck it. “Okay, well what about the size? And what about the clothes in my closet? Why do they all fit me? Explain that.”

“Your clothes were chosen based on the sizes Michael submitted after collecting your old clothes and fitting you in your appraisal suit. As a gentleman’s maid, we are taught to be observant and provide without having to ask for instructions. Even your reaction to the dinner last night was noted and will no doubt impact your future dinners at the Pattillo mansion.” Tina continued. “I was promoted to this position by the gentlemen for my loyalty, so as for the game, I am in no position to comment on the behaviors and choices of the gentlemen. They are my bosses.”

Ray couldn’t help but wonder if Tina knew about Burnie’s actions. She seemed so knowledgeable about the lives of the Gents. She said she was observant, so would it be so crazy to assume she knew? Ray didn’t think he was far off. “What about Burnie? Is he your boss too? Do you work for him too?”

“Yes, I do manage his maid force as well; however, Barbara will often act as my middleman. As such, I do not frequent the Burns estate.”

“Estate?” Ray was confused. “Doesn’t he live in a penthouse?”

“I’m sure he owns one, as do all the gentlemen, but the Burns estate is about the size as the Heyman estate.” Tina stole a glance at her watch. “Now, if you don’t want to be late, you should go prepare to leave. Gavin requested a car for half past eight and it’s already 8:10.”

“Shit!” Ray was so engrossed in information collecting that he forgot what he was doing before. “Okay, I’m gonna go get ready, but I wanna talk more with you. Will you be here when I get back?”

“Unfortunately no, but I will be in attendance at Geoff’s evening event tomorrow. We can speak then.”

Ray nodded, and took off towards his room, but not before waving and saying, “Thanks Tina!”

Despite leaving his room unlocked all night, Ray’s things were just as he left them. The only difference was the cell phone on his nightstand had a glowing indicator on it. Did someone try to call me?, Ray thought as he moved to the phone. He had four messages; one from Michael, two from Joel, and one from Burnie. Chills ran down Ray’s spine. The thought of Burnie even looking in his direction shook him to his core. The twinge briefly erupted in his belly, but of course, he ignored it and the Burnie message altogether, refusing to open it. The message from Michael was much better. It was a request to meet for lunch today. Ray replied with a yes, a when, and a where.

The Joel messages were saucier than Ray thought they would be.

The first message read: Wish this were you.

It was followed by a picture of Michael and Jeremy, naked and on their knees in front of Joel, licking at either side of his cock. Ray smiled at the message and wanted to give Joel something in return. So Ray fixed his clothes, reattaching the thigh highs to the garter belt straps but ditching the shorts. Channeling his inner social media model, he did his best to pose with his ass facing the mirror and took the photo over his shoulder. It took him a minute to catch the right angle but once he got his picture, he sent it off to his favorite Gent with a message that said: You want this, Daddy?

Ray looked at the time on his phone and panic ran through him. “Shit! I need to stop being so distracted.” He mumbled to himself. He only had fifteen minutes to get ready. He tossed his phone on the bed and quickly picked some clothes he liked out of the closet, tossing those on the bed as well. He grabbed the Vans box, socks and briefs from his top drawer, and added them to the mound. While jogging into the bathroom, he discard his clothes on the bathroom floor in a messy trail before turning on the shower.

Ray put five minute showers to shame; completing his shower in about three minutes by hitting his stinkiest areas and hoping the soapy run off had his back. Literally. His hair got wet too, so he was probably going to need a hat. He dried as fast as he could, forgetting some areas but knowing his clothes wouldn’t be ruined by a few drops. He grabbed a toothbrush and started a weird dance of applying lotion with one hand and brushing his teeth with the other. Admittedly, he probably missed a few spots with the lotion, but no one was going to catch him with an ashy elbow or knee.

He disembarked from his bathroom conquest feeling a bit thrown together but his remaining six minutes could care less. He dressed himself with the clothes he’d chosen earlier; a plain white tee, light skinny jeans, and a pastel purple windbreaker. He topped the look with his Vans that he hoped would tone down the fuckboy energy. He grabbed a black beanie from his dresser, and pocketed his phone before running out the room.

This time he knew where he was going. The staircase was in front of Jack’s room and lead into the main foyer. Waiting at the bottom were four maids and Gavin. “Hey Gav, sorry I’m late!” Ray apologized as he approached the group, pulling on the beanie with both hands.

“No worries, we’re still good on time,” Gavin smiled. “But the car is waiting outside for us.” He said as he gestured for Ray to follow him outside.

Sitting in the driveway were two cars, both the same black car that Joel had. The one in front had a chauffeur holding the backdoor open for Ray and Gavin. The other one just arrived. Its chauffeur hopped out the front seat to let out his passengers. Jack emerged from the car first. He was talking to someone, but the distance between them and Ray was too great to hear anything. As he and Gavin descended the steps, Ray watched as Jack’s chauffeur rounded the vehicle to open the other door. A pit formed in Ray’s stomach at the sight. It was Burnie.

“Boys!” Jack exclaimed, giving Ray and Gavin a wave as he approached them. “I’m glad I caught you!”

“Well, you know I have to get going Jack. I’m gonna be late for class.” Gavin stopped walking to speak with Jack, prompting Ray to stop as well.

“Ray’s going with you?” Jack sounded a bit confused.

Ray was becoming increasingly anxious as he watched Burnie send off the chauffeur and start walking towards them. His chest felt tight and breathing became difficult again. The palms of his hands became clammy. All this panic rushing through Ray’s bones, yet Burnie had a very satisfied look on his face. Fucking sadistic prick, Ray thought as he eyed the car waiting for them. “Yes, I am! We’ll be back later. Don’t wanna make Gav late.” Ray grabbed Gavin by the wrist, pulling him towards the car.

“Hold on, Ray, I have something for you.” Jack said, making Gavin stop in his tracks. “Come to my room tonight to get it, okay?”

“Okay, okay I will. Bye Jack.” Ray said he slid into the backseat of the car.

Gavin still waited though. “You’re visiting Jack, Burns. Didn’t think that was ever going to happen.” Gavin joked as Burnie approached him.

“We’re working on a project together, you know that.” Burnie replied. His voice made Ray’s fingers tremble uncontrollably.

“Yeah, but you never come over here. Jack always goes to yours.” Gavin pressed.

“Okay, you got me. I wanted to spend some time with our new boy.” Burnie laughed and Gavin laughed with him.

“I knew it!” Gavin, still giggling, placed a quick kiss on Burnie’s lips. “Well, he’s spending the day with me today. You can see him tomorrow.”

The sight of Gavin’s playfulness towards Burnie made Ray’s skin crawl. The dichotomy of his growing feelings of affection for Gavin and his vehement hate for Burnie was causing the twinge to come back again. Ray didn’t know if he could hold it back much longer. The thought that Gavin was comforting Ray in his rape trauma last night, and kissing his rapist today was unbearable. Ray pulled the hood of his windbreaker over his head, truly wishing to disappear.

“Sounds good to me,” Burnie said, too happily for Ray’s liking, as Gavin sat in the car as well. “Oh, and Ray!” Burnie said just before Gavin was able to closed the door. “Check your messages!”

“Okay, for real, I’m going to be so late!” Gavin complained and shooed the Gent away before closing the door and telling the chauffeur to step on it. “What a tit!” Gavin complained with a smile. “Burns is always holding me up.”

“Do you like him Gav?” Ray asked, struggling to keep his composure.

“Burnie?” Gavin pondered. “I guess, no more than the other Gents, why?”

“He’s never done anything wrong to you? Anything you didn’t like?” Ray was focusing his gaze out the window, not wanting to look at Gavin, who seemed oblivious to the fear spilling out of Ray’s jacket.

“Not really. I mean, he’s into some crazy shit though, like ropes, choking, and pain and stuff. Honestly, he’s worse than Ryan when it comes to that kind of thing. But it’s all consensual, with safe words and all that.” Gavin was flipping through a small blue notebook with the words ‘set notes’ scribbled across the front. “Why do you ask? Did Michael say something about him?”

“No, he just didn’t say a thing about Burnie being one of the Gents. I was just curious.” Ray felt tears building at the corners of his eyes, but kept them hidden in his hood. He didn’t know that just being around Burnie would shake him up so much. Every time Ray saw his face, the flashbacks to that night in his penthouse came rushing back. He fought hard to push the twinge away, looking upwards and blinking furiously to fight the tears.

“Burnie is a nice bloke, but I wouldn’t want to be given to him. The only one who ever wants to be with Burnie is Barb. She’s totally in love with him, so honestly, hearing that he traded her was so weird.” Gavin added.

“That didn’t seem to matter just now.” Ray snapped, unable to accept anyone calling Burnie nice.

Hearing Ray’s anger, Gavin finally looked at him. “What’s got you so mad Ray?”

Ray felt caught doing something wrong. The last thing he wanted was to seem upset. He didn’t want to show his emotions anymore. It made him feel too vulnerable, too exposed. He took a quick and shallow breath, thinking about how he pulled himself together before, when he lived on the streets. One week, he thought to himself. One week and everything would be over. Joel would get him out of the game and he would go back to his old life. He wouldn’t have to be close to Burnie anymore. He told himself he could make it. He could make it one fucking week. He pushed the twinge away.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean for it to sound that way.” Ray pulled his hood back, revealing a smiling face. A fake face. “I just didn’t know about everything before I signed the contract, which I guess is my fault.”

“Not your fault. The full contract is bloody long. None of us really read the whole thing. Everyone signed after reading that first summary page or listening to the spiel.” Gavin said, reaching for Ray’s hand to comfort him. “And listen, Ray, if we had known about your,” He paused, trying to find the right word.

“Issues,” Ray added with another fake smile.

“Yeah,” Gavin smiled at Ray’s seemingly lighthearted demeanor. “We would have taken more care last night. Jack felt really bad about making you cry.”

“It wasn’t his fault.” Ray gave a gentle squeeze to Gavin’s hand. “I just had a bad experience before coming here, and I didn’t know how much it got to me is all. You and Jack were great. I’m the one with the problem.”

“Well, if you wanna talk about it, I’m here.” Gavin’s words were very kind, but Ray didn’t know if he could get the image of Gavin kissing Burnie out of his mind. So he nodded and thanked the Brit, but knew deep down that his trust and affection for Gavin had waned.

Ray peered out the window. They had arrived at Gavin’s school. Surprisingly enough, it was a normal looking college campus. No fancy bells and whistles. The buildings were a bit modern, but definitely expected from an arts school. The campus was filled students carrying all kinds of film equipment, large portfolios, and coffee. Everything was normal. It was a strange change of pace from the luxurious homes of the Gents.

The chauffeur pulled the car against the curb by the main entrance and stepped out to open Ray’s door. Before he could get to Gavin’s door, the Brit exited the vehicle. Gavin was in a hurry. He moved to the trunk, retrieving a large camera bag, a backpack, and a long tripod bag. Gavin thanked the driver for the ride and motioned for Ray to follow him towards the building.

“Come on Ray, we got two minutes!” Gavin’s gait fell somewhere between a hurried walk and a light jog. Ray quietly followed behind him, taking in the sight of Gavin’s ass as he maneuvered the halls. He may have lost some affection for the guy, but anyone could appreciate a nice butt. They approached a door that led into a big classroom filled with students sitting around large work tables. Their eyes were all fixed on the professor, who stood towards the front by a projector screen displaying a title page that read ‘Final Cinematic Project Update’. The professor paid Gavin and Ray no mind as they moved to a couple empty seats by a table in the back.

“Just made it,” Gavin whispered triumphantly as he placed his equipment on the floor beneath the table. He waved at a couple of students sitting on the other side of the room. One was a woman with purple hair and a bright smile. The other was scruffy young man who, by the way he cradled that coffee cup, seemed exhausted. The professor went on about the requirements of the project. Making sure people were on schedule and blah, blah, blah. Ray was not really paying attention to that. Instead, his mind wandered to the idea of going back to school. It scared him to think that, in a week, he was turning away the opportunity, but he had a good reason.

His phone vibrated softly in his pocket. Trying not to be a distraction to anyone, he held the phone below the desk to see what it was. It was another text from Michael.

It read: Lunch at Joel’s, 12:30, I’ll send a car.

Ray replied with a thumbs up emoji and added that he’s with Gavin at school. Michael replied with his own thumbs up and said that Gavin could join too. Ray closed his conversation with Michael, revealing that he had also received a reply from Joel and more messages from Burnie. Why won’t this prick just leave me alone?, Ray thought. Leaving Burnie’s six messages unread, he opened Joel’s. It was another picture. This one showed a picture of Joel’s cock flat against his desk at work and dripping cum.

The text read: Look what you’ve done.

Ray couldn’t help but smile slyly at the photo, immediately thinking of other, more raunchy photos he could send to his favorite Gent. Just as he closed the text, another message from Burnie was added to the six. Again, he refused to open them.

“Okay! That’s it for my rambling. You all have a lot of work to do. Let’s break for studio time, but before that, your attendance code is 571. Make sure to get that in, and I look forward to seeing you next class.” The professor ended his lecture after only fifteen short minutes.

“Wait, that’s it?” Ray looked up at Gavin. “All that rushing for that?”

“Yeah, I know, professor’s a right tit, but we do have 3 hours of studio time to complete.” Gavin said as he gathered his equipment and motioned for Ray to follow.

“Gavin!” The purple haired girl from before approached them. “You made it! And who’s this?” She gave Ray a kind look.

“Hi, uh. I’m Ray, Gav’s friend.” Ray tried to meet her kindness with an open heart but his day had already been tainted by Burnie’s incessant messages.

“Nice to meet you Ray, I’m Meg, and this is Dan.” She gestured to the half asleep man beside her, who gave Ray a short nod. “Are you helping us film today?”

Ray looked at Gavin, who was poking fun and cackling at Dan’s state of being. “If this idiot says so.” Ray gestured towards Gavin.

Meg laughed as well, “Exciting. I’m usually the only person these dorks work with.”

“Hey! We’re right here,” Dan exclaimed at Meg and Ray, before looking at Gavin. “And you know I can’t miss another class. The professor would fail me.” He said, gesturing to the professor.

“I know B,” Gavin giggled. “You just look so knackered.”

Meg interrupted, “Come on guys, let’s go to our space. We got a lot to do.” Meg seemed so happy and comfortable around Gavin and Dan.

The four of them left the classroom and started down the hallway. Again, Ray moved silently behind the group. They were carrying heavy looking bags of equipment, making Ray feel a bit guilty for being empty handed. He listened as they chatted about lighting, props, rigs, and other technical know-how that went right over the young Puerto Rican’s head. He wondered how long they’ve know each other. Dan was British like Gavin, so Ray found it possible that they could have known each other for years. Did they know about the game too? Did they question why Gavin has a chauffeur? Ray felt like asking but didn’t know what repercussions would come his way if he said something too revealing.

The group entered a door labeled ‘Studio 13B’. It was a small space with big dark blue linoleum tiles and white walls. There was a makeup station with light bulbs surrounding its mirror, a small kitchenette, and a couple of folding chairs against the back wall. On another wall were rolls of colored backdrops that could be pulled down for filming and there were rails on the ceiling that Ray could only imagine cameras or lights connecting to.

“Yeah, Ray’s pretty top, actually.” It was Gavin’s voice.

Ray looked up at the trio in front of him at the mention of his name. “Sorry, why am I top? I was spacing out there for a second.” He asked.

“Gav was just saying that you’re new to the whole game thing, and he complimented your talents.” Meg explained, genuinely shocking Ray.

“You guys know about that?” Ray asked, eagerly waiting for their response.

“Yeah, well, I’ve known Gav since we were young. He told me immediately when it happened.” Dan said before chugging the rest of his coffee.

“Is that allowed? Can you just tell people?” Ray looked to Gavin, who had begun unpacking their equipment.

“No, absolutely not, I just have a big mouth. Dan and Meg signed NDAs.” Gavin responded.

“Could’ve just kept your mouth shut, yeah? Didn’t need the lawyer patrol on my arse.” Dan joked.

“And what about you Meg? How’d you find out?” Ray asked her as she unpacked her makeup on the counter.

“Gavin and I got asked to be in the game around the same time. I turned it down though.” Meg started. “I didn’t really need anything at the time. I had already started school and even though I was living in my car, I knew I’d be fine on my own.” She paused, “Although a chauffeur would be pretty awesome.”

Meg’s words resonated with Ray. It was easy to forget that everyone in the game had been struggling before. Everyone seemed so adjusted to this life of luxury that he overlooked their pasts. What had Gavin done before? Did he sell his body like Ray did? Did he steal? Were his struggles like Ray’s at all? He wanted to ask, but the other three seemed focused on their work. Ray was here to help, not distract. “Okay, uh, enough game talk. What can I do to help?”

“You can help Dan with the light rigs,” Gavin instructed.

The work was actually fairly easy. Ray learned how to properly light a set, especially for slow motion since the cameras require so much light to capture everything. He also helped Meg with her makeup and costume, if you could call it that. Ray learned that Meg was studying social media marketing. It was a decision she made after starting her own online cosplay modeling career. Her style was scantily clad, so it stood to reason that she would wear lingerie in this shoot as well.

Their project was telling a story about a girl encountering five elements in nature; metal, wood, fire, water, and earth. Dan explained that last week they filmed the first three, and it was way more of a production than today. For metal, the three of them went to a blacksmith’s shop and filmed Meg belt sanding the sharp edge of an ax in lingerie and without gloves. Dan said he was nervous for Meg’s hands the entire time. Gavin was more focused on the technicality of the shot, saying the slow-mo on the sparks was tremendous.

For the wood element, Gavin wanted to capture a wide slow-mo shot of a tree falling. So they captured her walking cutting down a small tree and chopping it into fire wood. Gavin was gushing about the way the tree fell in this shot, but again, Dan complained about the other Brit’s lack of care for safety. He said Meg had no clue how to properly cut down a tree. Apparently, the fire scene was so dangerous that Dan said it was the reason he’d lay away awake at night. Gavin said he wanted to do more fire shots, but Dan drew the line at pyromania.

Today, they were filming parts of the water scene. Meg wanted to go to a beach today, but the project requires some work be completed in the studio. They had a small kiddie pool set up. It was filled with water from the sink, which was a whole operation with a plastic tube and some buckets and honestly, Ray was glad Meg brought so many towels. Apparently, small pools aren’t exactly allowed in the studio space, so Ray had to be both look out and flood patrol. Gavin captured close up shots of Meg’s hair moving in the water, the way her hair stuck to her back when she sat up, and dozen’s of shots of water dripping on her skin. Dan explained that Gavin loves how water behaves in slow motion, so he was the most excited for these shots. They weren’t finished with it either. They wanted to get shots of Meg diving into water, swimming and splashing in it, and probably more, knowing Gavin.

At the end of their three hour window, everything had been cleaned and packed away. Meg had dried off, her hair pulled into a wet ponytail. Dan could finally relax from the stress of Gavin holding the slow-mo camera over the pool for the shots. When it came to the guilt of not carrying anything, Ray was over it because now, he was holding two trash bags full of damp towels.

“Thanks for all the extra help today Ray,” Dan said as he clocked out of the studio space using an app on his phone.

“Yeah, and the extra hands.” Meg said with a smile, gesturing to the bags of towels.

“Anytime,” Ray laughed. He really enjoyed this time with Meg and Dan. They were normal people, living with normal means. He didn’t feel like he was walking on eggshells around them like he did with the Gents. “So next week, you’re working on the earth shot, right?”

Meg nodded, “Yeah, Gavin still hasn’t quite figured out what he wants to do for it.”

Dan snorted, “If we had it his way, I reckon we’d fly to the Sahara desert and have Meg slide down the side of a sand dune in her knickers.” Dan whispered with a soft chuckle, making Meg and Ray giggle.

“Alright lads, we’re all set here. That was some class film work. Now let’s go get a proper meal, yeah?” Gavin exclaimed as he walked out the door.

Ray followed closely, grabbing the attention of the Brit, “Michael actually invited us to lunch at Joel’s. Do you want to go?”

“Sure,” Gavin glanced back at Meg and Dan. “Want to go to Joel’s?”

Meg whooped, “Hell yeah! Who doesn’t love a good five-star lunch?”

Dan laughed at her excitement, “Will he have those tiny cakes again?”

“If you want tiny cakes B, we’ll have some tiny cakes.” Gavin affirmed as the group made their way out the front entrance. Like clockwork, the chauffeur Michael ordered arrived and was waiting. “Michael sent us a car? The thoughtful lad.”

“But I drove!” Meg complained. “I’ll just have to meet you guys there.”

“Sorry love,” Gavin apologized to his purple haired friend, as he gave the chauffeur his bags to be put in the car. “Dan can ride with you.”

“Aw, what? But I wanted to ride in the cool car.” Dan joked.

“Hey! My car is cool!” Meg laughed. “The coolest!”

“I can ride with Meg.” Ray interrupted their banter.

Meg’s face lit up, “See? Someone who appreciates a quality vehicle.”

Gavin and Dan were laughing as they got in the car. “Have fun in your quality vehicle!” Dan yelled out the window, giving Ray and Meg a quick wave before the driver pulled off.

“Thanks for joining me Ray. Those two are so inseparable. Always ‘B’ this and ‘B’ that. It’s good to have a fourth wheel to my third.” Meg joked as she started towards the parking lot on the right side of the building. “Follow me, I got a good spot today so it’s not far.”

Ray smiled and followed beside Meg. “No problem. To be honest, I’m kind of glad to get away from all that, even if it’s for a moment.”

Meg nodded, her damp hair motionless where it clung to her forehead. “I get it. Ryan was actually the one who offered me a spot in it all, but being passed around for endless wealth really isn’t my thing.”

Yet another surprise for Ray. Ryan seemed unhinged. The thought of him being around Meg, who was so cheerful and bright, made Ray question whether his initial impression of the man had been misguided.

Meg and Ray rounded the corner of the main building and entered a packed parking lot. Meg’s car was in the middle of the second row. It was a small silver sedan that was a bit cluttered but very homey. She carefully placed her bags in the backseat before rounding the car, swinging the front door open, and popping the trunk so Ray could load the towel bags.

Ray made sure the trunk was closed before hoping into the passenger seat. “So are you friends with Ryan still or has that ship sailed?” It was a question scratching the back of Ray mind. Lately, all of his thoughts had been about the Gents. Whether it was his growing lust for Joel, his intimacy with Jack, or his fear of Burnie, Ray’s mind was constantly swarming with thoughts of these men.

Meg pulled the car out of its space, “Yeah, we did a few shoots together at the beginning of my career. Our friendship started when I called him Rye Bread.” She giggled, thinking back to that time as a fond memory. “He was all flustered that I called him that. Saying no one gives him nicknames. He was Ryan Haywood after all, but like hell I cared.” She paused for a moment, shaking her head. “The nickname stuck. After that, we had a few drinks together. We did more shoots, and hung out at one of his places, and eventually, we just became good friends.”

Ray couldn’t believe that Ryan was the person Meg was talking about. The Ryan that Ray remembered was unnerving, with a presence that could suffocate a room. How could that man - the man Michael told Ray to avoid at all costs - be the same as the one making Meg smile like that? If there was ever a time for Ray to call bullshit, this was it. “Okay, I don’t know what he shows you, but Ryan seemed like the craziest son of bitch to walk this earth.”

Meg laughed, harder than before. “I swear it’s all a front! That man is a sweetheart who likes to play madman in his free time.”

“Okay, but what about during sex? If we’re being real here, that’s when a person really shows you who they are.” Although Ray’s questions were serious, even he couldn’t resist the joyous atmosphere building inside the car. Meg’s laughter was contagious.

“I’ve fucked him and I can said, without a doubt, that he’s a nice guy.” She smiled. “With a nice dick too.”

“Just because he had vanilla sex with you once doesn’t mean he isn’t freaky in the sheets.” Ray said as a matter of fact.

“Who said anything about vanilla sex? And once? What do you take me for?” She giggled, dramatically placing a hand on her chest as if she’d been offended.

Ray was laughing honestly this time. Meg was like a beacon of light in a vast dark room. “Fair enough, I’ll give him another chance. Maybe, and I mean maybe, I was wrong.”

“Thank you,” She was smiling. “Ryan is a bit moody and definitely has his kinks, but just get to know him. He would never hurt you, or anyone - unless they are begging him for it that is.” The car rolled to a stoplight. “But if he does hurt you, I’ll kick his ass, how’s that?” She looked at Ray and threw up a fist to drive her point home as the light turned green.

“Thanks Meg,” Ray was still chuckling. He felt like he was chatting with an old friend, not someone he’d met only hours before. He couldn’t remember the last time he laughed like this. In this moment, his heart felt light and unburden by the thoughts of his past.

But no good thing lasts, especially when you want it to.

Ray’s phone buzzed, and then it buzzed again, and again. They were all text messages; unsurprisingly, all from Burnie.

“Geez, who’s blowing you up like that?” Meg wondered. “Is it Gav and Dan? Those idiots.”

“I wish,” Ray sighed.

“Then who is it? One of the Gents?”

Ray knew telling her would only cause problems, so he lied. “It’s probably just one of the maids following up with me about something I needed earlier, don’t worry about it.”

Meg shrugged, seemingly accepting the blatant lie, but then the phone buzzed again. “You can respond if you want. I don’t mind.”

“No, I don’t really need to look now.” Another buzz.

“Better now than at lunch. Just go for it.” Another buzz.

“Really Meg, it’s fine.” Another buzz.

“But they keep sending messages. Could be urgent.” Another buzz.

“That’s true,” Ray finally pulled the phone out of his pocket and pressed the side button to illuminate the screen. Initially, he was just going to mute it, but figured that wasn’t going to be enough. He had fifteen unread messages from Burnie, and if he continued to ignore them, more would undoubtedly be sent. So Ray thought, Fuck it, as he tapped on the thread of messages and conceded the battle. What he saw made his heart sink into his stomach and burn away in the acid.

The first message read: You’re a pleasant surprise.

The second read: I may have lost this time, but you’ll be mine.

The third: Just as you were before.

The next three were all pictures of Ray’s exposed, unconscious body. Bound, gagged, and posed for Burnie’s sick entertainment. The sight of them made Ray’s throat go dry and his stomach turn. As much as he wanted to be angry, all he could feel was fear. His chest felt tight and just like before, he felt the air in the car go stale. Ray glanced at Meg. She seemed unaware of his panic. He couldn’t lose his shit in the car. He refused to.

The seventh message read: Don’t ignore me.

The eighth read: It’s your fault I have no one to play with this week.

The ninth was a picture of a guy with the same size and stature as Ray, paired with the message: Had to go looking for fun myself last night. The boy’s back was to the camera, so Ray couldn’t see his face, but he was wearing old clothes and scuffed sneakers. Ray knew it had to be someone from the street. He knew it was someone just like him.

The tenth was a video with a text that read: This is all your fault Ray.

Ray silenced his audio to watch the video without alarming Meg. It was ten seconds long and showed the boy’s face. Ray didn’t recognize him, but he looked out of it. His eyes were barely open and he had no control over his head. It was bobbing back and forth like he’d been drugged. Ray didn’t want to look at rest of the messages. He knew where they were going, but he continued. Hoping that somehow Burnie would show this boy mercy.

Sadly, the next four messages lacked mercy of any kind. They were photos with a text that read: You’re such an inspiration. The first picture showed Ray tied against a table with his legs spread. The second one was of the boy in the same position. The third picture was also of Ray, the fourth was another replica of his photo. Why was Burnie toying with him now? Didn’t he take enough from Ray already?

The final message read: Wish this were you.

It was accompanied by another video, even with sound off, Ray could hear it all. The pain on the boy’s face was easy to see. Tears were streaming down his face from tightly closed eyes. His lips mouthing stop over and over again as it goes ignored. Burnie was raping this boy, and somehow, Ray felt like it was his fault. He was the one who couldn’t face Burnie. He was the one who was too afraid to bring his rapist to justice. His hands started trembling around the phone. His legs felt numb and despite the world moving normally around him, he felt as though it was careening into a wall. He felt like he was burning and he could feel beads of sweat rolling towards his chin.

“Meg, stop the car.” Ray mumbled though heavy breaths, trying to keep himself stable.

Meg was concerned, “What? Why? Is something wrong?”

“Just pull the car over!” Ray knew how harsh his words were, but he didn’t have the space in his mind to care. All he was focused on was getting through this debilitating feeling of dread.

“Okay! Okay, we’re almost to the neighborhood now,” She turned the car into Joel’s neighborhood, stopping against the curb, just before the first house. “Ray, just tell me what’s wrong.”

Ray was sinking into a blackened quicksand of fear, anger, guilt, and regret, and more he thrashed, the he deeper he sank. He had a vice grip on the phone as the car rolled to a stop. He could hear Meg’s concern, but it was like trying to focus on a single person in a crowd of screaming people. He couldn’t stay in the car any longer. He was suffocating in there. He threw the door open and stepped out onto the sidewalk, not caring to close the door behind him. Being outside didn’t make it better though, why the fuck didn’t it make it better? He was pissed now. He threw the phone violently against the pavement, watching as the screen shattered and went black.

“Ray!” It was Meg’s voice, louder this time but still muffled. Ray was bent over, hands against his knees, feeling like he was going to puke. His hyperventilating had intensified and the tightness in his chest made him feel like he was dying.

“Ray!” Meg was at his side now with a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Ray, are you sick? Is this an asthma attack? Ray! Ray, look at me! I need you to breathe sweetie.” Ray heard Meg’s voice but didn’t think breathing was possible anymore. “Oh shit, Ray, is this-? Is this what I think it is? A panic attack. Are you having a panic attack? Do you have those?” Meg’s voice was louder this time. “Okay, okay, just try and breathe.”

Fuck, that’s right, I have those now, Ray thought. The realization was enough to pull Ray back into the moment and despite the air still feeling dry and unbearable, Ray could feel the tightness in his chest subsiding.

“That’s it, just breathe. I think I can help you a little.” Meg’s hand was moving in careful circles on Ray’s back. “I want you to focus on something. Anything you want.”

Ray’s eyes moved to his shoes. “My shoes,” He breathed out.

“Good, your shoes, tell me about them.”

“They’re Vans. Checkered Vans. Brand new.” Ray could feel his lungs again. “The white is, uh, really bright and the black is...it’s uh..it isn’t faded at all.”

“Where’d you get them?”

“Michael. He, uh, he got them for me.”

“That’s great, tell me more. What about the laces?”

“The laces are white,” The world was clearing up. No longer was it careening. No longer was Ray sinking. “I tied them quickly this morning.” He took a few deep breaths. “One side is tighter than the other.”

“Good, how are you feeling now?” Meg kept her voice steady.

Ray paused, assessing himself. The panic had subsided, but now, he was in a different mess. Meg had seen his emotions overflow. Where does he go from here? “Listen Meg, can we just ignore this?” He stood up straight, nervously running his hands through his hair.

Meg looked at Ray in disbelief, “Ignore it? Is this something that happens often?”

“I mean, not like that, I just-” Ray didn’t have the words. “I just don’t want to talk about it. Let’s go before we’re late.” He walked passed Meg, and got back into the car, closing the door.

“Wait, what?!” Meg wasn’t having it. She opened his door. “No way! You scared me, Ray! I thought you were having an asthma attack or something. You broke your phone! I’m not just going to ignore that.”

“Can you just-!” Ray grabbed the door from the inside. “Just leave it alone Meg! It has nothing to do with you!”

“Like hell it doesn’t!” She let go of the door and turned toward the discarded phone. “Your trigger! It was whatever was on the phone, right? Who messaged you?”

“Doesn’t matter! The screen is broken anyway.” Ray spoke with confidence, but he watched anxiously as Meg fiddled with the phone. He hoped it was really broken.

“Fine, I’ll just bring it to Joel and have him open it on the computer.” She pocketed the phone and walked around the car to the driver side.

“He won’t open it if I tell him not to.” Ray mumbled, feeling a multitude of emotions: embarrassment, stress, fear, guilt. It was way too much, and now Meg had the phone.

“Then I’ll ask Jack,” Meg said indignantly, as she continued down the road and approached the gate of Joel’s estate.

“He won’t do it either.” Ray was confident those Gents wouldn’t cross him, but he had no idea about the others. “You should just give the phone back to me, and we can talk about it.”

“No Ray, that was a really violent panic attack. We had to stop the car.” Meg was starting to sound a lot like Esther. “You can’t just ignore that. It’s going to get worse.”

Although they had arrived at the mansion, Ray was feeling angry. Not at Meg – she was just concerned – he was mad with himself for looking at those messages and losing control again. It was just like Esther said and he hated it. He hated feeling crazy, and Meg holding the phone over his head wasn’t helping. So despite recognizing that his anger was for himself, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “You don’t even know me. You’re a goddamn stranger! Give me my fucking phone back.”

“Ray,” She didn’t sound angry like Ray thought she would. Her voice cracked, and for the first time today, Ray witnessed a hurt expression from Meg. “Fine, have it your way.” She pulled the phone from her pocket, and handed it to Ray. “Get the fuck out my car.”

“Meg, I-” Ray felt really guilty, but what’s done is done.

“No,” Meg interrupted. “I don’t want to hear it. Get out.”

Ray opened the car door, glancing at the entrance as Gavin came out to greet them. He looked back at Meg, her face was furious. “Meg, sorr-”

“No!” Meg snapped this time. “What part of get out did you not understand?”

Ray’s heart hurt at the tone of Meg ‘s voice. He knew he crossed the line, and couldn’t salvage anything at this point. He grabbed the phone, stepped out of the car, and closed the door, watching as she put the car in gear and exited the estate.

“Ray! What’s gone on? Where’s Meg off to?” Gavin sounded very confused. “Lunch is ready to go.”

Ray didn’t bother answering his questions, instead he had a strong urge to cry but he couldn’t do that here. “Where’s Joel?”

Gavin looked confused, “He’s in his room working, but Meg-”

“Thanks, I’m skipping lunch.” Ray cut him off and walked right past the Brit, not stopping to even look at his reaction. A maid stood at the bottom of the staircase. Ray asked her to take him to Joel’s room, and without question, she obliged. She led him up the stairs and around a corridor to a large door. She knocked, and at this point tears had begun flooding his eyes and one blink would break the dam. He pulled his hood on, trying to hide his face from the maid. They waited silently for two short minutes before Joel opened door.

“What is it? I told everyone that I didn’t want to be bothered and-!” Joel paused when he saw Ray. “Oh, oh shit,” Joel looked at the maid and apologized before ushering Ray into the room. “This time, no interruptions.” The maid bowed and affirmed his instructions before taking her leave.

“This is a pleasant surprise.” Joel locked the door and spun around, facing Ray. “To what do I owe the visit?”

The sight of Joel in his gray hoodie and sweat pants was oddly soothing. Ray didn’t know why he felt so comfortable around this Gent, but he didn’t care. He finally let himself cry. Really this time. Tears started pouring from his eyes, his breaths were sporadic, and the noises he made sounded pathetic to his own ears.

“Fuck, Ray, what happened?” Joel stepped closer to the young man, pulling the purple hood back and revealing his crying face.

“I don’t,” Ray took a breath, trying to pull a coherent sentence out of himself. “I don’t want to talk about it, just fucking shut up.” He threw himself against Joel, snaking his arms around the older man’s torso and grasping tightly.

Joel shrugged, “Okay, whatever you want.” He wrapped his arm around Ray, one hand at his waist and the other placed on his beanie at the back of his head. “Just cry it out.”

Ray wouldn’t say he’s much of a crier. In fact, in these past two days, Ray had shed more sad tears than he has in his whole life. He knew this was weakness. Something that could be life ending on the streets. To survive out there, you needed to have thick skin. Yet, in all of Ray’s toughness, he still held onto Joel like he was the very thing keeping him afloat. He didn’t want to sink again. The thought of experiencing that panic for a third time scared the hell out of him.

His tears soaked into the gray fabric of Joel’s hoodie, so did his sobs as the pair stood in the embrace. Joel said nothing as Ray calmed himself down, but Ray knew the peace would last long. As the wells of Ray’s eyes went dry, he found himself in another situation where he couldn’t keep his emotions in check.

“Do you always cry in the arms of men you met less than two days ago, or should I take this as a sign that you’re starting to trust me more?” Joel pulled away enough to look at Ray’s face.

“Fuck you,” Ray mumbled against Joel’s chest before tilting his head back to meet the older man’s gaze.

“So feisty yet still clinging to me,” Joel was having too much fun with this, and typically, Ray would have his own quips to return but he was too emotionally exhausted to care.

“I don’t want to let go yet,” Ray’s voice was a whisper.

Joel gave a soft chuckle, “Careful. If you keep talking like that, I won’t let you go either.”

“Okay,” Ray’s gaze darted between Joel’s eyes and lips. He wanted to be comforted, and the only way he knew how was through sex. “Don’t let me go then, don’t let me go anywhere.”

Joel inhaled through his teeth, “Ray, you know I can’t. The rules are-”

“We already broke the rules once.” Ray slowly moved his hands against the Gent’s back, around to his front, and up to the back of his neck, causing Joel’s arms to fall around the younger boy’s waist. “What’s a second time?”

“Ray, you know I want this too, but-” Joel was interrupted by Ray’s lips crashing against his. The younger man had become a pro at making Joel squirm and it had only been day. Joel leaned into the kiss, giving in if only a little, but the moment was short. Joel broke away, pushing gently against Ray’s chest and putting space between their bodies. “We shouldn’t. You’re going get me in so much trouble.”

“So you’re rejecting me?” Ray face was expressionless, unsure of how he should react. He had already burned through sadness and fear, all he had left was anger.

“No, I’m,” Joel struggled to respond. “I’m just saying to wait until I can do it without upsetting the Gents.”

“Fuck the rules, and fuck the Gents!” Ray yelled, and knew he was going to regret what came spewing from his fucked up mind next. “This game is shit! You don’t think I’ve figured that out? Five rich ass men let poor sons of bitches sign their bodies away in exchange for money!”

“You know it’s not-” Joel tried to defend it, but Ray wasn’t having it.

“No! Don’t pretend it’s anything less than that. You trap them in contracts when they have no where else to go. I was-!” Ray paused, feeling his tears return to the corners of the eyes. “I was fucking ready to die in that alley yesterday! Then you show up, offering me riches, who in the hell wouldn't take that deal?!”

“Ray, you’re misunderstanding-” Joel couldn’t get a word in.

“I’m not misunderstanding a goddamn thing! All you rich fuckers do is take advantage of me! I actually know the fucked up truth of this shit, but everyone around me is so fucking oblivious!” Ray was fuming.

“If you would just tell me who, I coul-” Joel was trying his best, but in this moment, his best wasn’t good enough for Ray.

“What have you even done to get me out of here, huh?!” The young man’s emotions were erratic. This morning he thought is his day would be great, or at least better than yesterday, but ever since he saw Burnie, it’s managed to be worse. He snapped at Gavin, destroyed a potential friendship with Meg, ditched Michael’s lunch date, tried and failed to use Joel for sex, and now he was taking out his anger on the man. “I bet you haven’t done anything, because all you care about is getting me to yourself. Acting all sweet and innocent yesterday. Pretending to comfort me! And now you won’t even touch me! What? You got all you wanted from that blowjob? You know, the fucking one that you didn’t seem bothered by before and now, all of a sudden, shit’s different!?”

“Ray,” Joel was firmer this time. “You need to calm down.”

“Don’t tell me what-!” It was Ray’s turn to be interrupted.

Joel spoke over him, “I’ve already arranged a meeting with the Gents about your departure. It is scheduled for tomorrow, before Geoff’s party. Now, if this is all you’re here for, I’m calling Jack to come collect you.”

Collect me?” Ray was offended. “I’m not his fucking property.”

Ray could see the anger in Joel’s eyes, and knew it was there because of him. “You may not be his property, but – and you said it best – you did sign your body away.” Joel moved to his desk and grabbed his phone from atop a pile of folders. “So if you just want someone to fuck, go fuck him.”

Ray was furious, but he didn’t know if he was furious with Joel or with himself. He didn’t want to burn this bridge too. More than that, he knew he couldn’t. Joel was the only Gent on his side. The only one that could get him out of this hell. “Joel,” Ray’s voice was much softer. “I didn’t mean-”

“No, I think you meant it all.” Joel was already dialing Jack. “Maybe I was wrong about you.”

That hurt Ray more than it should have. He has been rejected by plenty of men before. His lifestyle was full of swings and misses, but Joel was different. He was the one who sought Ray out. He was the one who saved him.

But, then again, that was it.

That was all Joel was to Ray. Just a nice guy who he wanted to fuck. Ray realized very quickly that he had been idealizing Joel like some sort of white knight, when in reality, Joel sat beside Burnie. He, and everyone else, couldn’t see Burnie for the monster he was. Joel wasn’t perfect. Ray knew that. Now more than ever.

“Honestly, Joel,” Ray puts his hands up in front of him. “Don’t bother calling. I’ll just leave.” He turned towards the door and left without another word. He didn’t want to see anyone else today, so he was going to use the resources given to him.

“Hey you!” He called out to the same maid as before. She was posted at the corner of the hall.

She gave a short bow, “Yes sir?”

“I’m going to need a car, some cash,” Ray pulled the broken phone from his pocket. “And a new one of these please. Throw this one in a microwave before trashing it. I don’t want anyone seeing what’s on this, understand?”

“Yes sir,” The maid took the phone from Ray and asked him to follow her as she made quick work of Ray’s instructions. She led him towards the front of the house while typing quick messages on her own phone. Before they even arrived to the entrance, two maids were waiting and had already procured the items on Ray’s list. “We have prepared a driver for you that can go anywhere within the city. If you wish to go farther, we can prepare that as well but it would take more time.” She gestured for the other maids to hand her the phone and the wallet. “Here is a new phone, pre-loaded with the same contacts and your account so you didn’t lose any data, pictures, or messages. This wallet was being prepared for you. It has your ID, one thousand dollars, and a credit card for other purchases.”

“Other purchases?” Ray pocketed the items.

“Yes, many of the other charges often make large purchases. Such as Gavin’s tuition or Jeremy’s cars. Please use this for that spending. The limit is set at a half million, but any purchases above ten thousand will be reported to the gentlemen that currently cares for you.”

“So, Jack?” Ray asked.

“That is correct.” She affirmed.

“And how did you get me an ID so fast?” Ray forgot that Burnie also stole his wallet that morning. He analyzed the ID card. His picture and details were still the same, but the address was set to Joel’s place.

“The Gents have connections.” She spoke so matter of fact.

Ray rolled his eyes, “Of course they fucking do. So I’m spending Jack’s money?” He spoke aloud but he didn’t actually care. “Actually never mind. Thanks... uh?”

“Fiona.” She gave her name.

“Thanks Fiona.” He turned to leave, but stopped in his tracks. “Actually,” He faced Fiona. “Do you want to hang out with me today?”

“Yes, I would be glad to accompany you.” Fiona bowed.

“No, not that way.” Ray rolled his eyes. “Don’t bow. Drop the maid thing and be my friend for today.”

“Um...I’m not sure if that’s okay.” She glanced to another maid for approval, but she received a shrug in return.

“What if it’s an official request?” Ray offered a solution.

Fiona smirked, “I suppose that would be okay.”

“Perfect, come on.”

With that, Ray exited the Heyman estate with Fiona in tow. He had been through a lot today. It was basically a walk through hell, and it was only one o’ clock in the afternoon. So if he was going to continue through this shitty inferno, he was going to have fun while he burned.

Chapter Text

Ray and Fiona started their afternoon in an arcade, mindlessly overtaking high-score after high-score. It was something Ray loved to do, but after falling prey to the streets, he usually didn’t have the money. But now, money was no object. He could blow through all the cash in his wallet and still get more. The rest of their midday antics included a big lunch at a pizza place down the street, shopping for gaming consoles and new clothes, and watching an action flick at the old movie theater. Ray was reaping the benefits of being trapped by the Gents, but something still irked him. He still wanted to fuck his emotions away.

By the time they left the theater, evening had taken the day’s place.Ray had the chauffeur drop him and Fiona at the fashion district and bring their shopping haul back to Jack’s. The district was swarming with life, rich life to be exact. To him, they were all targets, each with their own challenges and puzzles to crack. And tonight, Ray was going to take one on. He was going to find someone who actually wanted to fuck him.

“Alright Fiona, I’ve taught you about gaming, good pizza, and quality films. Now, it’s time for a different lesson.” Ray led her into a small coffee shop and ordered two sugary drinks.

“Is the lesson coffee? I may be new to this maid thing, but I think I can manage coffee.” Fiona joked.

“Not coffee. People watching.” He led her an outside table that faced the street. “We’re going to find a target.”

“A target for what?” Fiona questioned.

Ray took a short swig of his drink and casually said, “Sex.”

Fiona’s eyes went wide, “Excuse me? Did you say sex?” She was stammering. “Why sex?”

“Don’t worry. You don’t actually have to fuck them, but try to pick out someone who you think you could use for sex or money or something, you know?” Ray gestured to a man sitting three tables away. “Take this guy for example.” He whispered. “Obviously a looker, right? And his watch is definitely pricey. He’s reading the newspaper so he can’t be a complete idiot, and there’s no wedding ring. A perfect target, would you agree?”

“Yeah,” Fiona affirmed.

“Wrong. There’s one key factor to consider.” Ray lifted his coffee cup as an example.

“Oh! There’s two cups on the table.” Fiona whispered.

“Exactly,” Ray nodded, and like clockwork, a woman approached the man and greeted him with a kiss. It would’ve been a terrible choice.

“You try next, Fi.” Ray said.

Fiona nodded, “Okay, what about that guy?” Fiona’s choice was wandering around, seemingly lost, using his phone to guide him. He was wearing designer shoes, but the rest of him was typical retail.

“No. His clothes aren’t name brand. Try again.” Ray took another sip of his drink.

Following this routine again was refreshing for Ray. He felt stifled around the Gents and their game. Being on the con was freeing to him, even if he didn’t need the money anymore. Conning rich guys made him feel powerful, and after everything that happened today and yesterday, he needed that feeling again. He took a final swig of his coffee – well, more like a final swig of the whipped cream topping – before Fiona directed his gaze to the prefect targets.

“Check out these two,” Fiona smirked. “That one’s super buff, and that one’s hair is super cute in that man bun. Both are wearing nice clothes that actually fit them, and look at that jewelry.”

Fiona was right. These men were fitted from head to toe in designer streetwear, obviously tailored or made for their bodies. One sported a shiny chain and the other a fancy watch, but most importantly,they seemed single. “Perfect choice, Fiona. Now let’s go get them.”

“I’m sorry. What? I thought this was all hypothetical!” Fiona was caught off guard by Ray standing and starting towards the two men.

Showtime, Ray thought as a familiar adrenaline rushed through his veins. “Hey, sorry to bother you, but I love your shoes.” Ray started with a compliment. No one dresses like these men and don’t want to be noticed. Ray was just giving them what they wanted.

“Oh,” The one with the man bun looked up from his phone, locking eyes with Ray. “Thanks man, I got them from that store over there.” He gestured across the street to a store with a glass front, before dropping his gaze back to his phone.

“Nice, I might check it out,” Ray paused, feeling a bit ignored. “Is everything okay? You seem pretty glued to your phone.” Ray feigned concern.

“What?” He looked up. “Uh, yeah, sorry. Did you need something else?”

Ray fought the urge to be angry with this guy, but his patience grew thin. So instead of being subtle, he tried a more direct approach. “Yeah, you. Want to hang out? My friend, Fiona, and I are looking for some people to have fun with tonight.” He pointed over to Fiona, who had discarded the coffee cups and was making her way over.

The man finally turned his phone off, giving Ray a look of interest. “Bold, but you have my attention. What’s your name?”

That was easy, Ray confidently thought as he gave the man his name with a suggestive smile. “Ray, what’s yours?”

“Jon,” He put away his phone, finally focusing on Ray. “And this is Blaine. We have just the place to hang out. If you’re interested.”

“Jon, the guys are going to be so pissed if we bring people again.” Blaine spoke.

“Ray, we shouldn’t just go with strangers.” Fiona whispered in Ray’s ear.

“It’ll be fine, dude.” Jon dismissed Blaine’s concerns, and unknowingly, Fiona’s too.

“See Fiona. It’ll be fine.” Ray smiled at her. “Lead the way Jon,” Ray said as he locked arms with the man, taking note of his physique. Could be a fun lay, Ray thought, following along as Jon led the group down a side street.

The bustling patrons of the fashion district faded into background noise as they continued through an alley and out onto another street. It was the club side of downtown. Rows of nightclubs and bars occupied this space. Neon lights in all colors glowed in the evening darkness, illuminating lines of rowdy patrons and their bouncers. There was a smokey smell in the air, mixed with an alcoholic aroma and the sounds of electronica.

“You’re taking us to a club? So fancy.” Ray teased as he leaned against Jon.

“Not just any club,” Jon mused. “My friends in high places got a VIP booth at Vagabond. I was just texting them when you stopped me.”

“Vagabond, hm?” Ray knew the place. It was a dance club known for their flawless DJs and bartenders that always know how to pair a drink with a mood. It was made popular, however, for their VIP lounge loft. “I’ve been there once or twice.”

“You haven’t really been to Vagabond until you’ve been upstairs.” Jon laughed, leading the group to the entrance of the infamous nightclub.

“They’re giving access to just anybody these days, I guess.” More teasing. Jon seemed to like it.

Jon smirked, “I’m not just anybody.” The group walked passed the line and up to the bouncer.

“Risinger,” The bouncer addressed Jon. “The rest of your group got here already. Upstairs.”

“Thanks man,” He said as he smiled and grabbed Ray’s hand, ushering him into the industrial styled club. Ray reached his other hand for Fiona’s as they entered the madness.

Inside was dark and loud, filled with bass that Ray could feel thumping in his chest and rattling his brain. The dance floor was packed with grinding bodies and the bar was swarming with tipsy patrons. Jon held tightly onto Ray’s hand as they pushed through the crowd. Ray glanced up to catch a glimpse of their destination. The loft seemed much calmer than the main floor. From what he could see, there were a few groups leaning against the railing near the upstairs bar, drinking and chatting. Ray wondered who Jon knew here, especially if they had permission to the loft. They could be worth a con of their own. The group arrived at the staircase, where another group of bouncers didn’t even glance at their lists before letting Jon, Ray, Fiona, and Blaine pass.

“Finally, some room to breathe,” Jon laughed, yelling over the music and releasing Ray’s hand. “You’re going to feel lucky to have met me after you see this.”

“We’ll see.” Ray smirked, as he let Fiona’s hand go as well. She seemed fine now, blushing at whatever steamy words Blaine whispered in her ear. They were in their own world at this point, and admittedly, Ray was glad to see Fiona without the maid guise up.

They ascended onto the loft area. There were six tables, all with their own servers and rich patrons. The bar counter had lights that emitted a soft glow across the upper level. To the left of the bar, there was a door labeled office and guarded by a bouncer. There was also a smaller dance floor filled with wealthy young men and beautiful young women basically having an orgy with the way they were grinding against each other.

“Not too shabby, Risinger.” Ray said playfully, repeating the name the bouncer used for Jon earlier.

Jon laughed, “Come on. My friends are over there.” He said as he gestured to a table with two other men. Ray couldn’t see their faces because they sat on the sofa facing the other direction, and the darkness of the club wasn’t helping.

“Okay,” Ray let Jon lead him over, but who he saw made him roll his eyes.

“Hey Trev’, hey ‘Fredo, sorry I’m late. I picked up some extra fun for tonight.” Jon sat in the booth as he gestured towards Ray. “This is Ray, and the girl leading our adorable Blaine to the bar is Fiona.”

Ray couldn’t believe that, even on a night he was trying to get away, the game still followed. “Don’t bother with the introduction Jon, I know them already.”

Jon looked confused, “Really? Damn, small world. But that’s great, less awkward. They hate it when I bring randos.”

Alfredo smirked, “Surprised to see you here Ray. Isn’t it passed your curfew?” His words made Trevor chuckled from his place at Alfredo’s side. Every time Ray has seen these two, they were on top of each other and something about it annoyed him.

“Isn’t it passed yours?” Ray shot back as he sat next to Jon on the opposing sofa.

Trevor laughed harder this time, “You don’t even know where you are, do you?”

Ray was confused by Trevor’s words, but wouldn’t dare show that to them. They were like the evil, gossipy, top bitches from those stupid high school dramas. If Ray showed any weakness, they would pounce. “Doesn’t matter. I do what I want.” Ray indignantly said as he leaned against Jon.

Alfredo smiled, but it gave Ray an uneasy feeling. “Be careful there Ray, Jack doesn’t like whores.”

Ray was pissed, but he kept it contained, choosing to mirror the unfazed visage of his game mates. “Takes one to know one, asshole.”

“Slut,” Alfredo slung a response back.

“Bitch,” Ray fired another.

“So,” Jon interrupted their spat, bringing his palms together and gesturing towards them, “Not on good terms then?”

Trevor smiled, “We’re all good, no worries. ‘Fredo’s just joking, aren’t you babe?” He glanced at Alfredo, giving him a slight nudge on the side.

“Yeah, yeah, all in good fun.” Alfredo threw his hands up in front of him in surrender, but Ray could see in his face that none of it had been in jest.

“Fuck that,” Ray was upset again, and against his better judgment, he continued to push. “Where do you get off giving me so much shit? We’ve only met once!” He yelled, enough to turn some heads.

Alfredo laughed, “Oh no, look out! There goes the mood.”

Trevor laughed too but this time it seemed forced. “Let it go ‘Fredo.”

“No fucking way!” Alfredo pushed Trevor off of him. “First time in this shit and he gets Jack? Are you kidding me? I’ve been between Burnie and Ryan for months now. That shit ain’t fair, man!”

“What is he talking about Trev?” Jon inquired.

Trevor gave Alfredo an angry glare, before turning his attention to their clueless friend. “Jon, come on, let’s grab some drinks from the bar while these two work it the fuck out.” He stressed the last part, before leading Jon away.

Ray’s anger subsided at the knowledge of Alfredo’s history in the game. The thought of being passed between the roughest Gents was enough to find some empathy for him. “It’s not like I chose Jack, you know?” Ray tried to shift the situation’s trajectory, but the shit had already hit the fan.

“Bullshit, I bet you sucked his dick and let him bang you at appraisal,” Alfredo was enraged. “Because none of us have ever gotten Jack on the first cycle. Ever!”

Ray’s patience was paper thin. The whole reason he was out tonight was to get away from all the game drama, but there he was, running into the very thing he ran away from. “I just played the room. I knew what I wanted and I took it. Not my fault you’re a talent-less moron.” Ray could’ve stopped there, but he continued. “No wonder only Burnie and Ryan want you. You’re bland. Not a single seducing bone in that body. In other words: boring, uninteresting, worthless, and probably more entertaining tied up and gagged.”

“You better fucking watch it!” Alfredo stood up and grabbed Ray by his white shirt, stretching the cotton. All eyes of the loft were on them now.

Ray grabbed Alfredo’s shirt as well, bracing himself for a fight. “Watch what? You don’t scare me. I don’t have to watch shit!”

That was it. Alfredo threw the first punch, clipping Ray’s cheek with his knuckles and knocking his glasses to the floor. Ray felt a sharp sting in his face but spent no time crying about it. Unlike his assailant, Ray left the streets only two days ago. Out there, fighting was survival, and he wasn’t about to lose to an asshole like Alfredo.

Ray tackled the other man to the ground by his midsection, keeping him there with the weight of his own body before unleashing a few punches on his face. Ray could hear the gasps of surprise from the patrons of the loft. Among them were the shouts of encouragement from drunk guys eager to see a fight and the distressed sounds of Trevor, Fiona, and Blaine. None of it mattered to Ray. He was too busy letting his rage out. It felt good, but it was an empty goodness that made Ray wonder if he hit harder, would the goodness be better?

Before Ray could do anymore damage to Alfredo’s face, the day lights of the loft turned on, snapping him out of his rage like a deer in headlights. Ray stopped the onslaught of punches as the heartbeat of the club came to a screeching halt.The music turned down and in the jarring brightness of the lights, the crowds of dancing patrons became bystanders to his violence.

“Boys, let’s stop this childish behavior.” It was Ryan’s voice. Ray glanced over to the Gent with confused eyes. He stood in the doorway of the office beside the bar and the bouncer was holding it open for him. All the servers stopped waiting on their tables, instead they stood completely still and faced Ryan. “You’re going to give my club a bad name.”

Ray was floored. This fucking club belonged to Ryan! At this point, Ray knew he shouldn’t be surprised, but he just couldn’t grasp the wide reach of the Gents’ power. How did they have hand in everything? He watched as Trevor left his place at the bar by Jon’s side and approached the Gent, whispering something to him before entering the room. Ray didn’t know why, but something about the way Trevor entered Ryan’s office was oddly submissive.

“Get off me, you prick,” Alfredo pushed at Ray, prompting him to stand. Similar to Trevor, Alfredo stood up, moving silently into the office. Ray locked eyes with Ryan, and just like their first encounter, it felt like his gaze could cut steel. The Gent didn’t even have to move. With one look, Ray knew Ryan wanted him in the office as well, and although Ray wanted to be defiant and leave, he couldn’t. He was in the den of a lion, and the gossip that surrounded his ears compelled him. He returned his glasses to his face and entered the office as well, wanting to escape the public scrutiny.

“Sorry about that disturbance everyone. Please,” Ryan gave a nod to the bouncer. “Continue.” The mind numbing music filled the club again and the loft lights were turned off. Despite the noise, when the Gent closed the office door, the room went silent. “Don’t you just love that,” Ryan flipped the door’s lock. “The perfect soundproofing.”

The office was a bit smaller than the loft, but the industrial design stopped at the door. This room was minimalist and modern with lots of black and white. There were two segments; a lounge side and a side for Ryan’s desk. The lounge area had two couches and a single leather chair fit for a king. Behind it was large painting of a crown.Ray was standing in front of the large, executive style desk, facing the Gent. Alfredo and Trevor stood beside him. They were so quiet that Ray swore they weren’t even breathing. Their heads were slightly bowed but their eyes were fixed on Ryan.

“Do you three know why this whole game was started?” Ryan asked, but it was clearly rhetorical. In fact, if Alfredo and Trevor weren’t saying anything, Ray was damn sure he wasn’t either.

“We were tired,” Ryan took a single step closer to the trio.

“Tired of the nonsense that came with regular relationships. We are busy men, you know? So, we made rules. Simple ones.” He took another step.

“A life of no worries.” Another step.

“Just follow the rules.” Another step.

“Rules like not discussing the game in public. Isn’t that just so simple?” He took another step, leaving a small gap between himself and Alfredo. “How simple is it, Alfredo?”

“Very simple, Master,” Alfredo stuttered a bit. “Extremely simple.”

“Extremely simple,” Ryan repeated as he took a step back. “Trevor?”

“Yes, Master?” Trevor’s voice was shaking.

“What other extremely simple rule do we have?” Ryan stepped towards Trevor, placing a gentle hand on his cheek and caressing along his jaw. “I’ll give you a hint: Ray happens to be breaking that very rule right now.”

“The rule of spending the night with your Gent, Master.” Trevor responded quickly.

Ryan nodded as he walked behind the trio to his desk chair. Ray wanted to see what he was doing, but Alfredo and Trevor didn’t turn around, so again, Ray was damn sure he wasn’t either. He listened as Ryan opened a drawer, rummaging inside, before closing it. “Trevor?”

“Yes, Master?” Trevor still didn’t turn around.

“When you did your cycle with Jack, about what time did he ask you to return?” As Ryan spoke, Ray could hear the soft beeps of cellphone dialing.

“Eight PM at the latest, Master.”

“And what time is it now, Trevor?” Ryan was tapping something against the desk. It didn’t sound like a hard object, but Ray couldn’t picture what it was.

Trevor stole a glance at the hanging clock by the door before returning his gaze to Ryan. “11:47 PM, Master.”

“11:47,” Ryan repeated as he emerged from behind the desk. He had his cellphone in one hand and a leather, riding crop styled whip in the other. His phone was on speaker and ringing. Ray could see the screen from where he stood. It said ‘Jack’.

Hello,” Jack answered.

“Jack, good thing you answered.” Ryan’s tone had shifted. He was less menacing and more cheery, but it still gave Ray an uneasy feeling. “Just wanted to let you know that I found Ray.”

Really?” Jack sounded pleasantly surprised. “That’s good, his driver arrived without him. Is he okay?

“Yes,” Ryan was idly fiddling with the whip. “But he did cause me a bit of trouble.”

Oh no,” Jack’s voice was full of disappointment. “Sorry Ryan, did you already send him back?

“Not just yet.” Ryan moved closer to Alfredo, running the whip’s leather loop down the younger man’s chest. “Poor Alfredo is pretty beat up. I had no idea Ray was so violent.”

Is it bad?” Jack was clearly upset by this, and the tone of his voice made Ray feel guilty.

“Yes, he has bruises all down his left cheek.” Ryan placed the whip on the desk between Alfredo and Trevor. “I’m going to need something as payment for my boy, you know? It’s only fair.”

And what exactly do you want Haywood?” Jack seemed annoyed.

“Permission to touch Ray. Just for tonight.” Ray was stunned by Ryan’s request. There was no way Jack would agree to that, would he? The young Puerto Rican listened anxiously, praying that Jack got him out of this.

Jack sighed, “No, send him back. I don’t want to do this shit with you today.”

“Come on Jack,” Ryan was like a sly child trying to convince his parent to buy him a sugary box of cereal. “You know I wouldn’t do anything too bad.”

Absolutely not.” Jack was firm. “Not after what you did with Michael. I’m sending a car for him now. Don’t touch him.” With that, Jack hung up the phone.

Ray breathed a sigh of relief. Jack had protected him. “You really thought he was going to do that? Unless I’m mistaken, that’s against the rules.” Ray could’ve kept his mouth shut, but that’s just not how this day was going so far.

“He speaks of rules while breaking them himself.” Ryan shook his head as he pocketed his phone and picked up the whip. “You’re obviously in need of some thorough training. I’ve heard all about your violent outbursts today. First from Gavin,” Ryan stepped closer to Ray. “Then from Meg.” Ryan left a small gap between them. “And now, there’s this.” He gestured to Alfredo’s face. “What would you have me do about this?”

Ray’s head was reeling. He really should’ve kept his mouth shut. What was the right thing to say to this menace? Meg said Ryan was nice guy, but the atmosphere of the office was suffocating. The fear of being used again crept up Ray’s spine. Flashes of his horrible night beneath Burnie stabbed at his calm. Ryan’s presence and voice put an extreme pressure on Ray, making the twinge in his heart rustle. “Don’t touch me.” Ray raised his voice, trying to step back from the Gent but being blocked by the desk.

To Ray’s surprise, Ryan threw his hands up in front of him, stepping away and giving Ray his space. “No worries. Jack said no, and consent is our number one rule.I can’t break that one. I can’t stop you from leaving either. The car will probably arrive soon.” Ryan gestured towards the door, but then locked eyes with Ray and smirked. “But, if you do stay for these few minutes, I promise I’ll show you something you’ll be begging me for in no time. What do you say?”

Ray was frustrated with himself for feeling Ryan’s words in his pants. Although it made him wonder: since when was he afraid of a little rough play? He even cried when Jack fucked him normally. Before everything happened, Ray would’ve jumped at the opportunity Ryan presented. So why the fuck was he so scared? Had Burnie taken the pleasure of rough sex from him?

This evening was all about Ray getting his shit together, having fun, and finding someone to fuck, but it became more than that. Somehow it turned into him wanting to find himself again. For these past two days, Ray has been unrecognizable. He used to be a chill guy who loved sex, video games, and the occasional con. Sure, maybe he was a bit reckless, but he was fun to be around and found things enjoyable. He didn’t want to be this violent, emotional asshole anymore.

Ray glanced at the door, then down at his growing bulge, and then up at Ryan and his whip. What was it about this Gent that did this to Ray? Was it his looks? His power over the other men? His eyes and the way they bore holes through Ray’s reason? Or was it his way of asking permission? Somehow Ryan made this Ray’s choice, and that was hot.

Maybe this could actually help, Ray thought, finally looking at Ryan with desire instead of fear. The Gent was definitely attractive with a muscular build and a clean-cut face. If Joel didn’t want him, Ryan would do. So, the young Puerto Rican made no effort to approach the door. Instead, he stayed put, giving a nod to the Gent.

Ryan gave a pleased smirk, “I need something verbal Ray, or I’m going to have to ask you to step outside.”

Ray could feel his erection struggling against his jeans. Again, Ryan made this seem like Ray’s desire. The Gent maintained total control without force. Ryan was the type of dominant that wanted willing submission. For Ray, that was the best type. “I’ll stay for a bit.” Ray nodded, hoping that he could keep his calm. “But no touching.”

“Understood.” Ryan smiled mischievously as he used the whipped to point at the floor. “Trevor, come here.”

Trevor moved to stand in between Ray and Ryan, “Yes, Master?”

“Take off your clothes.” The Gent’s tone shifted.

Ray could see the seriousness in Ryan’s eyes. He watched as Trevor unfastened his jeans, pulling them down in one motion and kicking them off along with his shoes. His dress shirt was next to join the pile, followed by an undershirt. Trevor’s body had fresh marks everywhere, but they were all deliberate. Rope burns at his wrists and ankles, the hand-shaped bruises at his waist, the whip welts on his butt, or the hickeys that peppered the back of his neck. Ryan only had Trevor for one night this cycle, but managed to do so much. “Trevor, I want you to explain our safe words to Ray.” Ryan said, prompting Trevor to face Ray. “Oh, and Alfredo, your clothes as well.”

“Safe words?” Ray glance warily at the Gent. “I said no touching.”

“Did I ask you to speak?” The way Ryan spoke was intentional. “Did I not just say ‘understood’?”

Ray nodded, feeling a bit embarrassed for disrupting the play. “Sorry.”

“Sorry, what?” Ryan smirked, clearly enjoying himself.

Ray scoffed but played along, “Sorry, Master.” Ray’s gaze fell to Alfredo as he began removing clothes, but his attention was pulled back as Trevor began talking.

“We use three words. Yellow if you want to pause or change something, Green to resume from a Yellow, and Red for a full stop.” Trevor’s face was tinted pink. Ray could tell from his body language that being fully naked so suddenly was embarrassing, but Ray could also tell from his hardening dick that Trevor liked the humiliation.

“Do you understand that Ray?” Ryan was standing against Trevor’s back with his left hand trailing slowly up Trevor’s thigh.

Ray was only inches away from Trevor and Ryan, so he was sure they heard his shaky breath. “Yes,” He was a bit tense, but dripping with excitement.

Ryan brought the whip down against the desk to the left of Ray. “Yes, what?”

Small trembles ran through Ray’s body at the sound of the leather against the wood. “Yes, Master.”

“Perfect,” Ryan flashed him a devious smile. “Such a quick leaner. What do you think, Alfredo?” Ryan shifted the focus to Alfredo, who was now naked and standing to the right of Ray. His body wasn’t as bruised as Trevor’s, but there were still marks of bondage at his wrists.

“Yes, he is, Master.” Alfredo was not as embarrassed as Trevor was. In fact, despite being under Ryan’s tight control, Ray felt a confidence from him. “But I’m still mad at him.”

Ryan chuckled, taking a few steps to close the gap between him and Alfredo, “Always so defiant,” The Gent placed a hand at Alfredo’s hip. Slowly, he trailed it upwards, flicking at his nipple before stopping at his neck. “Ray does need a punishment, but you did throw the first punch.” He closed his hand around Alfredo’s throat, putting pressure just under his jaw.

Alfredo gave a raspy moan as his dick hardened. Ray watched with wide eyes as Ryan’s grip remained and Alfredo’s body began to tremble. The scene went right to Ray’s cock as the Gent shoved Alfredo’s waist against the edge of the desk. Ray glanced at Trevor, who looked like he was going to burst without being touched, and he knew. As much as they pretended otherwise, it was clear that Alfredo and Trevor loved this play.

“So I’ll be fair,” Ryan let go, leaving Alfredo shakily gasping for air. Ryan stepped back and began undoing his tie. “You two look like such sluts. You’re that excited by company, hm?” He said with a short chuckle, looking at the throbbing cocks of the young men. As he pulled against the knot, the tie unraveled in his hand. “Trevor, put this on Alfredo’s wrists.”

“Yes, Master,” Trevor’s voice cracked a bit as he took the tie, moving to grab Alfredo’s wrists.

Ray flinched at the scene. The thought of being tied up like that scared him. He hadn’t been tied up since his night with Burnie, and he found himself feeling relieved that Ryan couldn’t touch him.

“But Ry-!” Alfredo balled his fists and thrust his arms down in protest.

Ryan brought the whip down against the desk, “Don’t talk back to me.”

It was Alfredo’s turn to flinch, squeezing his eyes shut at the sound. “I just… I don’t think it’s fair that I’m the one who is punished for a fight Ray instigated.”

“You know,” Ryan placed the whip against the desk and moved to grab the tie from Trevor. “It seems you still don’t know your place.” He grabbed Alfredo and made quick work of the knots, binding his wrists behind him. “There. Now, apologize for speaking out of line.”

Alfredo pulled against the knots with a look of frustration, “No.”

Ryan shook his head, “With all this defiance, it seems like you want to be punished.” The Gent grabbed Alfredo by the back of his neck and forced him to lean over the desk. The motion was swift and sound of Alfredo skin connecting with the smooth surface was jarring to Ray. It gave him terrifying flashbacks but also sent blood rushing to his dick. This was all too confusing. It was as if Ray’s mind and Ray’s body were runners, attached by a thread but sprinting in different directions.

Finally, Alfredo’s protests stopped, “S-Sorry, Master.”

“Ray,” Ryan spoke as he moved to place a hand against Trevor’s cheek, and drag his thumb across the young man’s bottom lip. “Do you remember the safe words?” He fixed his eyes on Ray.

The question made Ray remember why he was still here and why his body was reacting so strongly. Despite having the scariest gaze of all the Gents, Ryan was careful. “Yes, Master, I do.” Ray nodded and watched as Trevor parted his lips, letting the Gent’s thumb inside his mouth.

“Then come here.” Ryan ordered and Ray obliged. “Take this, and teach Alfredo how to behave.” Ryan handed the whip to Ray, leaving Ray speechless. He had no idea that this is where the play was going.

“What!” Alfredo shot up, angry. “No, Ry- Master, no! Not him. Let Trev do it, please.”

“Alfredo, did I tell you to move? Did I tell you to speak?” Ryan’s voice gave Ray chills, and he was sure Trevor and Alfredo felt the same rush down their spine.

“No, sorry Master.” Alfredo’s submission was instant. Ray watched in shock as Alfredo turned back around, leaning his chest against the cool surface of the desk.

“Trevor, keep Alfredo still.” Ryan’s voice was a bit different now. Before, he was very commanding, but now, Ray could hear a subtle excitement in his tone as Trevor rounded the desk and climbed onto its surface. Ray watched with wide eyes as Trevor pulled Alfredo’s hair, guiding his mouth to Trevor’s own cock.

“Now, Alfredo, since you’re so upset, I’ll give you a fair number.” Ryan said with a smirk dancing on his lips. “Ray, what would you say a fair number is?”

Ray couldn’t stop his own devious smirk from emerging. Whether it was intentional or not, Ryan was giving Ray a chance to release some frustration. Sure, he wasn’t being fucked, but this had to be the next best thing. “I think ten is a very fair number, Master.”

“Then, ten whips.” Ryan gestured for Ray to begin.

Ray felt shivers run through his body as he lifted the whip’s leather loop and brought it down against Alfredo’s exposed skin. Alfredo yelped around Trevor’s dick at the impact, prompting Trevor to free Alfredo’s mouth. “One.” Alfredo mumbled the word, but Ray knew what it was. Alfredo was counting without being asked. A sure sign of submissive training.

“Ray.” Ryan hummed. “Don’t be distracted. Continue. Alfredo’s waiting.”

Ray was snapped from his thoughts, “Ah...yes, Master.” Again, he brought the whip up and, in a swift motion, whipped Alfredo once more.

This time Alfredo whimpered the number, “Two.”

And, even though Ray was the one doing it, Alfredo continued to whine and flinch at each whipping, and his cock remained just as stiff. On the fifth whip, Alfredo moaned the number.

The sound compelled Ray to let himself get into it too. “You like this that much? You little slut.” Ray brought the whip down again.

“Yes! Six!” Alfredo’s pleased voice was enough for Ray to forget about the tension between them. “I love it.”

“Fuck,” Ray breathed out as he brought the whip down for the seventh time. “And you love that it’s me, don’t you?”

“Yes!” Alfredo exclaimed. “Seven, I-I want- Ah!”

The eighth whip was a bit harder than the others. Ray wanted to push at Alfredo’s limits. He wanted to see how far he could go. How much pain he could take before his moans turned into screams.

“Eight.” Alfredo’s voice was weaker this time.

Ray stole a quick glance at Trevor, who’s fingers still remained threaded in Alfredo’s hair and who’s cock was rubbing against Alfredo’s face. As for Ryan, he was behind Ray. So Ray didn’t know what the Gent was doing, and honestly, he didn’t care. His focus was trained on Alfredo.

Ray delivered another whipping, this one harder than the last, and it showed. This was the first time Alfredo struggled against Trevor’s grip. “Fuck!” Alfredo’s voice cracked. “Fucking nine. Nine.”

Ray paused before the final whip to take in his work. Alfredo looked beautiful with his wrists bound and his ass bright red. Ray smiled slyly as he dragged the whip slowly across Alfredo’s ass. “Ask for this one.” It was a simple request, but Ray expected some push back. Some of that defiance Alfredo toted earlier. Something vulgar and challenging. Ray expected something other than what he got.

“Please give me another, Ray. I deserve another.” Alfredo’s submissive voice did things to Ray’s resolve that he didn’t think possible. So Ray delivered the final whip, and it was just as hard as the last, and the sounds Alfredo made were just as satisfying, if not more.

“Outstanding work, Ray.” Ryan’s voice was so close to Ray’s ear that it made him flinch. “You’re a natural.”

“Oh, um-” Ray placed the whip against the desk beside Alfredo, and turned to face Ryan. “Thank you, Master.” Ray moved to the right of the desk.

“Now, for the next part.” Ryan stepped behind Alfredo, and then pulled a small bottle from his pocket. It was lube. Ray watched with wide eyes as Ryan coated his middle finger and shoved it into Alfredo without warning.

“Ah, fuck! Ow!” Alfredo wiggled against the desk in a feeble attempt to get away from the pain.

“I think you meant thank you, didn’t you, ‘Fredo?” Ryan mused as he turned his hand to deepen the pressure.

“Ah! Sorry, Master. Thank you.” Ray could see stray tears slipping down Alfredo’s cheeks and mixing with the spit covering Trevor’s cock. The sight was unholy and dirty, and gave Ray a visceral feeling of wanting. Wishing, even, that it was him instead of Alfredo.

“Good boy.” Ryan’s praise was soft, but his actions were rough. He added a second finger, stretching Alfredo even more. “Would you like another?”

Ray couldn’t believe how fast Ryan was going. Only seconds had passed, yet he was already asking Alfredo to take more. What was even more shocking? Alfredo’s agreeing.

“Yes,” Alfredo let out a shallow breath, trying to get through the pain. “Yes, please Master.”

Ryan added a third finger – slower this time and with extra lube – and was unfazed by the scream Alfredo let out. Ray could see Alfredo’s legs shaking beneath him and the small drip of pre-cum collide with the floor. This wasn’t the first time Alfredo was subjected to this, and it showed. Ryan thrust his three fingers wildly inside Alfredo, and with each thrust, Alfredo’s shaking became more and more intense.

“Master, can I cum?” Alfredo was panting now. “I’m- I can’t hold it.”

Ryan didn’t slow his pace, “No.”

“Please-! Ah! Please!”

“I said no.” Ryan brought his other hand down against Alfredo’s ass, giving it a firm spank.

“Fuck!” Alfredo screamed. “I’m coming, Master! I’m sorry, I’m coming! I can’t-!” Alfredo gave one final strained scream as he came against the front of desk and on the floor. Trevor released his hold, letting Alfredo slide off the desk and slump onto the floor.

Ryan scoffed at the sight, “Always so defiant. Constantly talking back, but you can’t even control yourself. Pathetic.” Ryan rubbed the lube from his fingers against Alfredo face, mixing it with the spit and the tears. “How are you going to apologize for this mess, hmm?”

“I...um...I d-don’t-,” Alfredo seemed exhausted, but Ryan still pushed.

“You don’t what?” Ryan grabbed a handful of Alfredo’s hair, forcing his gaze up to the Gent.

“I don’t know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for coming without permission, Master. I’m sorry. Don’t be mad.” A few tears escaped Alfredo’s eyes, and for a moment, Ray forgot this was all just play.

Ray had to interrupt. “Ryan, you don’t have to keep going. He’s punished enough.”

“What did you just call me?” Ryan gave Ray a chance to correct himself, but Ray was just as surprised at his interruption.

“Sorry, I meant...um...Master, Alfredo is punished enough. Please...please stop?” Ray was fumbling the words.

“Well,” Ryan sighed. “Since you asked so nicely. I suppose I’ll stop,” Ryan released Alfredo, but then gestured to the cum splattered across the front of the desk. “But he has to clean all that up. Now.”

Ray was stunned at the way Alfredo moved to lick up the cum dripping down the desk despite his bound hands or his obvious exhaustion. Ryan had them trained more than Ray thought. He found himself wondering how it felt to give up so much control to this Gent? How would it feel to be on his knees licking up his own cum because Ryan told him to? How would it feel to have Ryan force him to orgasm? How would it feel to have his body covered in marks like Trevor’s? Would it feel good? Watching it felt good. Giving it felt good. But how would it feel to receive it? He needed to know if he could handle the roughness like he could before.

Ray was shocked from his thoughts when Ryan’s phone rang.

“Hello,” Ryan answered. His voice was normal, nothing like the commanding tone he maintained only a few seconds ago. “Yes. I’ll send him down. Yes, she’s here too. She’ll be returned to Joel’s as well. Yes. Thank you, and do give my regards to Jack.” That was the end of the call. “Ray, it seems our time has ended. That will be all for tonight. Your car is outside.”

“Oh, okay.” Ray nodded at Ryan. But before starting towards the door, he stole glances at Alfredo and Trevor, who also seemed to go back to normal. Trevor moved to undo Alfredo’s binds. The play had ended.

“Ray?” It was Ryan’s voice. His normal voice.

“Yes?” Ray paused by the door, and turned to face Ryan.

Ryan smiled and placed a hand against the wall beside Ray, effectively trapping Ray against the door. “Thank you.” Those were the last words Ray expected to hear from Ryan. “I can’t wait to show you more.”

Ray’s heart sped at Ryan’s words. This is what Meg meant by Ryan being a sweetheart who likes to play madman in his free time. Ray could see it now, and it made him feel comfortable in Ryan’s presence for the first time. “Ryan, can I kiss you?”

Ryan chuckled, “Shouldn’t I be asking you that? You said not to touch you.”

“You can touch me.” Ray whispered as he closed the gap between his body and Ryan’s, and pulled him in for a kiss. Ryan’s lips were soft and rough at the same time, much like his personality. And the way he kissed was unsurprisingly dominant, but also sweet. Ray wondered how different this kiss would be if they were still playing. When they pulled apart, Ray wanted more. It was the same urge to seek comfort that he felt when he saw Joel today. He couldn’t stop himself from leaning back in, but Ryan wouldn’t allow it.

“Eager.” Ryan said with a confident smile.

Ray ignored Ryan’s comment and moved to pepper kisses against the Gent’s neck, before whispering, “Let’s forget about the car. Please?” Ray didn’t know why he was so desperate for someone to hold him. He just felt like it would make him feel better. He felt like it would make the twinge go away.

Ryan leaned away from Ray’s ministrations, but placed a firm hand on the younger man’s chin. “See? I knew you would be begging me for it.” He caressed the length of Ray’s jaw with his fingers. “Next time, I’ll give you everything you want and more, Ray. I promise. Now go.”

Ray’s face went hot at Ryan’s promise. And despite wanting nothing more than to stay with Ryan, he’s learned from his mistakes. Trying to use a Gent for sex does not always go well. He didn’t want to ruin his relationship with Ryan by being pushy – especially not after what happened with Joel this morning – so he reluctantly exited the office.

After scanning the loft, he found Fiona waiting at the top of the loft stairs. She smelled of alcohol and her balance was off. “Fiona? You’re alone? Where did Jon and Blaine go?”

“Well,” She squinted and shrugged. “While you were talking with Ryan, there was a drinking game, some talk about threesomes, a bit of banter and all that. Long story short, I think they went to fuck each other.”

“Wait? Without you?” Ray laughed, as they started down the stairs.

Fiona giggled, “Don’t get me wrong. I was invited, but I had to decline. I think you and me might be in some trouble.”

“Why is that?”

“Tina called me.”

“Yikes.”

“Exactly what I said!"

Chapter Text

There were two cars waiting outside Club Vagabond for Fiona and Ray. One heading to Joel’s, the other to Jack’s. So they said their goodbyes and good lucks, and went their separate ways. Ray enjoyed his day with Fiona. She was the only one he didn’t manage to piss off. Though,Ray also made headway with a very important Gent. It was tumultuous and unexpected, but his connection with Ryan helped Ray realize something important about himself. The emotions that were plaguing him were artificial. Burned into his sanity by a bad experience with a bad person.

Ray didn’t put those feelings there, Burnie did. So, Ray figured if he remained self-aware, he could deal with the emotions enough to keep a clear head. Perfect plan, right? After all, tomorrow was his departure meeting. He needed some Gents on his side, or there was no way he would escape Burnie’s grasp. So, with his new self-awareness coping method strapped to his arsenal, he started his mission to rally for himself. Starting with Jack Pattillo.

After arriving at the Pattillo mansion, Ray was immediately escorted to Jack’s study. Inside, the Gent was working at a large table, drawing what looked like an architectural design of a house. The shopping bags full of Ray’s earlier, impulsive purchases sat atop Jack’s coffee table. Seeing it piled there made Ray feel a bit guilty. He must have spent nearly two thousand dollars.

“Ray, please have a seat.” Jack spoke without a glance in Ray’s direction, but Ray still did as he was told. He took a seat on the sofa next to the table covered with bags. He honestly had no idea what Jack was thinking. Was he angry? Would he lash out at Ray for disobeying the rules? Was he disappointed? Was he sad? Ray wanted to know, but instead, he was forced to sit in near silence as the sound of Jack’s pencil gliding across the page filled his anxiety to its brim.

After nearly ten minutes, Jack finally spoke. “There. That should do it.” He finished his drawing with a quick signature, and moved to join Ray on the sofa. “Ray?”

“Yes?” Ray responded, probably more meekly than intended. After all, he did just blow some of this man’s money on useless stuff.

“I know I never explicitly went over the rules with you, so I won’t blame you for your tardiness today.” Jack began. “But I cannot excuse your behavior towards Alfredo.”

Ray felt uncomfortable, as if he was a child being scolded by a parent. “I know. I was wrong for punching him like that. I’m sorry.”

Jack nodded, “May I ask why you did it?”

Ray struggled to find a suitable response. In hindsight, he didn’t actually know why he did what he did. In that moment, he felt anger. Some aimed at Alfredo, but mostly aimed at himself. He was already on edge from his day of arguing, and Alfredo’s attitude just pushed him over. “I was upset. It was stupid, but me and Alfredo kind of made up. Maybe. I think.”

Jack chuckled, “You don’t sound too sure.”

“Well, Ryan...um, mediated for us. I guess.” Ray blushed when he thought back on it.

“He didn’t do anything to you, right?” Jack’s voice was full of concern. “Haywood has a way of changing people.”

“He didn’t do anything.” Ray lied. Ryan did a lot within the confines of Jack’s no touching rule, but Ray wasn’t going to tell Jack that.

“Good.” Jack cleared his throat. “Well, the important thing is that you’re okay. I thought you were upset with me actually.”

“Not at all,” Ray shook his head. “Why would you think that?”

“I know I stepped over one of your boundaries yesterday, and I want to apologize for that. I should’ve been more attentive.”

“No, Jack! Really. You didn’t do anything wrong. I just have-” Ray paused, unsure of what to say. “I’m just not always cool with certain things. I should’ve made that clear. Honest.”

Jack scratched the back of his head, “Okay, but please let me know going forward. I never want to make you feel uncomfortable.”

“Yeah. Will do.” Ray smiled. This was a much different interaction than Ray pictured it would be. Jack really was the sweetest Gent.

“Now, as for these.” Jack gestured toward the table. “You had a bit of a shopping spree, I see.”

Ray gave a nervous laugh, “Yeah, sorry, I should’ve asked. We can return it all. I don’t need any of this stuff really. I just wanted it.”

“You don’t have to.” Jack placed a gentle hand against Ray’s face. “I’m interested in them because it shows who you are and what you enjoy. I want to spoil you.”

The blush that undoubtedly painted Ray’s cheeks gave away just how much he enjoyed being the subject of Jack’s care. “Oh.” It was the only word Ray’s jumbled mind could muster at the sheer sweetness of Jack Pattillo.

“Although, now I’m a little worried that you won’t enjoy my gift as much.”

“That’s right! This morning you said you had something for me.” Ray buried his face in his hands. “I’m so sorry for going M.I.A on you.”

Jack smiled, “It’s fine, I’m not upset. I would like to give you the gift now though.” He reached for a small bag on the corner of the table. It was a small and black, and the brand’s name was written in cursive. “For you, Ray.”

Ray took the bag with a smile, “Should I open it now?”

Jack nodded and gave Ray a warm look of endearment. “Go ahead.”

Ray pulled a long box from the bag, and his brain immediately went to jewelry. And sure enough, inside the gift box was a lacy, diamond studded choker with a silver clasp. It reminded Ray of a collar. Not exactly Ray’s style, but Jack’s fetish was showing. So Ray, being used to receiving such gifts from men, knew exactly what to do. “Jack, I love it.” He swung a leg across Jack’s lap and gave the Gent a long hug. “Will you put it on for me?” Ray knew these were the kind of things to say and do. Smiling, nervous laughter, and playing coy. All things that men like Jack enjoyed. It was like muscle memory at this point. An act to get what he wanted.

“Um, yeah. If you want me to.” Jack’s embarrassed face made Ray feel powerful in his ruse.

“It probably won’t look great with this jacket on though,” Ray dropped his shoulders and let the windbreaker slowly fall to the floor. “Or this t-shirt, right?” He smirked as he teased the shirt over his head, taking the beanie along for the ride and letting them join the jacket. “This is much better, isn’t it?” Ray seductively traced a finger down his own chest. “Don’t you want to see it on me now? Like this?”

Jack’s eyes followed Ray’s finger, and his hands got more acquainted with the curves of Ray’s thighs. “Yes. I do. So much.”

“Then, put it on.” Ray placed a sweet kiss on Jack’s forehead. “I’m waiting.”

The tips of Jack’s fingers were cold but his palms still felt warm against Ray’s neck as he fastened the choker. It fit Ray’s neck perfectly.

“How does it look?” Ray posed with his neck craned upwards but kept his eyes staring down at Jack’s pleased face.

“It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.” Jack’s words were earnest and gave Ray feelings of being desired. His words felt the way a fireplace feels on a winter night. But Jack’s words were also his weakness.

Ray took a silent deep breath, and prepared himself to violate Jack’s affection. “Does this mean I’m special to you, Jack?”

“Of course.” Jack’s hands found Ray’s, and he weaved them together.

Ray smiled as sweetly as he could muster. “Then I have a favor to ask you.”

“Anything.”

Ray’s used men before, but something about using Jack made Ray feel a guilt that burned at his insides. “Tomorrow. Joel called the Gents for a meeting, yes?”

“Yes, what about it?”

“It’s for me.” Ray tightened his grip on Jack’s hands. “I want to leave the game.”

Jack’s eyes widened but then softened in understanding. “And you want me to vote in your favor, don’t you?”

This was the first Ray has heard of a vote, but it didn’t surprise him. The Gents voted to put him with Jack after all. Voting was their main decision maker. But a vote did scare him. Joel was upset with him, Burnie was evil, Geoff was a wild card, and Ryan seemed too possessive to let Ray leave that easily. Currently, Jack was his only ally, so he feigned a look of desperation and a pitiful tone.“Yes. Please, Jack.”

Jack sighed, “It’s not because of me, right?”

“No. It’s all me, I promise.” Ray lied again, choosing again to keep his pain a secret. “So please, will you vote to let me leave?”

“I don’t want to see you go, but if that’s what you wish, then I’ll vote for you.” Jack pulled Ray in for another hug. “But only if you promise to visit me after you leave.”

“Definitely.” Another lie. That one hurt Ray’s heart more than it should have, but he forced himself not to care, he had to keep up the ruse. “Thank you!” He put on a happy face, and leaned in to quickly kiss the Gent. “This means so much to me.”

Jack smiled, “I’m glad. I only want you to be comfortable. After all, you aren’t the first one to leave.”

“That’s right. Esther told me she left too.” Ray recalled his conversation with Gus’s wife. “How did that happen? Why did she leave? How did her vote go?” Ray’s head was spinning with questions again.

Jack shrugged, “We don’t really talk about that vote.”

Now, that surprised Ray. “What do mean you don’t talk about it?”

“Well,” Jack paused. “Don’t tell the Gents I told you this, but for a while, Esther didn’t want to leave. She was fine with the game. Fine with us.” Jack sighed.

“So what happened?” Ray was truly confused. Esther made it seem like everything was fine and the Gents let her leave because of her love for Gus. None of what Jack was saying made sense.

“I really shouldn’t say.” Jack seemed conflicted, but Ray wasn’t going to let him stop there. He needed to know Esther’s story so he could know what to do for himself.

Ray placed his hands against Jack’s face, “Please, Jack. I won’t tell anyone. Honest. You mean so much to me. I would never ever do anything to get you in trouble.” Ray was laying it on thick. “You got me this beautiful choker, right? It means I’m yours. I belong to you. You can trust me.” Ray was definitely going to hell for that one.

“Okay. I guess...I guess I can tell you.” Jack nodded, sighing once more before starting the story. “When we first started the game, a major stipulation in the contract was that it was for life. At that time, Esther, Barbara, and Trevor were the only three serving us. So, most of the time, only three Gents would have a charge and the other three were left with no one. Trevor was usually with me or Ryan, Esther with Gus or Joel, and Barbara with Geoff or Burnie. It was a nice balance, but then, on one of the trade nights, Burnie said he was tired of the status quo and proposed that we switch it up.

“We all thought it was a great idea. Esther, Trev, and Barb were okay with it too. So, Burnie took Esther, Joel took Trevor, and I took Barbara. It was different from usual but basically the same. At least, that’s what we thought. The next day Gus called an emergency meeting, and he was fuming. Geoff had to keep Gus from taking swings at Burnie. It was… It was bad.

“Gus told us that we needed to stop everything. He wanted to relieve everyone from contract, but no one was on his side. Everyone else, including me, didn’t see a reason to stop, and Gus never gave us one. It was like he couldn’t give us one.”

“Wait!” Ray interrupted. “Did Burnie do something bad to Esther?”

“That’s what we assumed.” Jack continued. “We had the maids bring Esther into the meeting room so she could speak for herself. But she was different, and she refused to move from Gus’s side. All of us were thinking that Burnie had done something wrong, but then Esther shocked us all. She said ‘I need to leave because I’ve betrayed you all.’ I’ll never forget the face Gus made at her words.

“Esther said that Burnie caught her stealing millions of dollars from the Gentleman Inc. business conglomerate, and sure enough, Burnie produced evidence. Now, no one really believed that Esther stole all that money, but when we asked about the details of her crime, she knew things about getting into the accounts that only a Gent could know. We couldn’t do anything but treat her as the embezzler.”

“I don’t understand.” Ray interrupted once more. “I’ve met Esther. She seems happily married. She still helps in the game as a nurse. None of what you’re saying makes sense.”

“Hold on. I’m getting to that.” Jack continued. “Esther wasn’t just any embezzler. She was contracted to serve us. She had seen us more intimately than our other employees, and probably knew more as well. According to the contract, we needed to send her to jail. Not only for the embezzlement, but also to protect ourselves from the possible public slander. But we were reluctant. Esther had been nothing but kind to us, but our backs were against a wall. Gus, however, came up with a counter proposal. He said he would pay back the money Esther stole and keep her in his care to prevent the slander. All in exchange for her removal from the game.

“Now, Burnie didn’t like Gus’s proposal. He said Esther wasn’t worth it, and that we needed to protect our business from people like her. None of us liked it, but he did speak the truth. How did we know if Barbara or Trevor weren’t doing the same? The reality was that we didn’t. So, we put it to a vote.

“Gus, Joel, and I voted for Gus’s plan, but Geoff, Ryan, and Burnie voted for Burnie’s plan. We were split down the middle. Usually, in our business meetings, if that were to happen, we would take pause and reconvene with improved proposals. But this wasn’t the same as that. This vote didn’t effect a public Gentleman Inc. contract. It effected the contract Esther signed with us, which was a private contract. Under that private contract, for any split vote, the charge in question breaks the tie.”

“So Esther voted for herself.” Ray concluded on his own.

“Exactly. With her vote, we went with Gus’s plan. He liquidated a lot of his personal assets to pay back the stolen money.”

Ray gasped, “That’s why Gus’s house is smaller than you and Joel’s, right?”

Jack nodded. “Yes, he sold a lot of his property, Esther moved in with him, and eventually, they got married. But some even stranger things happened after. Esther filed a restraining order against Burnie, Gus barred Burnie from stepping foot on the Sorola property, and Gus hasn’t attended a game meeting since. To this day, we don’t know where the money went and we still don’t know what truly happened between Burnie and Esther. All we did know was that we couldn’t let it happen again.”

“So what did you do?” Ray asked.

“Joel, Geoff, Ryan, and I used our majority vote to change the terms of the private contract. We made it so we can’t disclose business matters with charges. We put explicit rules about consent in. Also, we changed it to a short term contract. A week with each Gent, and then the charge could leave if they wanted to. No more life commitment.”

“But doesn’t that mean I can’t leave early? I haven’t completed the cycles.” Ray stressed.

“No, we included an early departure clause. All you need is a majority vote.” Jack assured.

“Okay, but I don’t know if I have that.” Ray started to feel panicky again. “All I have is you, and maybe Joel. I...I don’t want to-”

Jack grabbed Ray’s hand and placed a gentle kiss on his knuckles, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you get the votes you need.”

“Really?” Ray’s panic eased.

Jack nodded, “Yes.”

Ray gave Jack an honest hug this time. “Thanks Jack.” Ray was glad that Jack wasn’t upset. If Jack had been upset too, Ray would be all alone in the meeting. He did feel bad for using Jack’s feelings to control him, but Ray didn’t know another way. He’s always used his body and a bit of sweet talk to get what he wanted. Jack’s vote wasn’t exempt from that.

“You’re welcome. Now, it’s very late. I have some work to complete in the morning, and some calls to make, so I’m going to head to sleep. You should also get some rest. You have a big meeting tomorrow.” Jack said as he guided Ray off his lap.

Ray nodded, “Right. Then, goodnight Jack.” Ray gathered his pile of clothes, and moved towards the door. “And thanks again.”

“You’re welcome.” Jack smiled and waved Ray out the door. “Goodnight. I’ll have your things brought to your room.”

“Thanks.” With that, Ray exited Jack’s study, releasing a relieved sigh once the door closed behind him. He managed to apologize to one of the people he treated poorly. Now, he had to do the same for Joel, Michael, and Meg, but Joel took priority. Ray needed his vote too.

Ray walked through the lounge and into the bedroom hall. Gavin’s door was propped open and lofi music was smoothly bumping from inside. Ray peered in. Gavin was at his desk, editing his video project. “Hey, Gav. You’re still up?”

Gavin jumped at the sound of Ray’s voice. “Hey lad. Yeah, I’m just doing some late night editing.” He spun around in his desk chair. “I heard you had a bit of a wild night, yeah?”

Ray laughed as he entered Gavin’s room and sat on the edge of the bed. “Define wild.”

“I heard you kidnapped a maid, went on an absolute binge of a shopping spree, and got mixed up with Trev and ‘Fredo at Vagabond. I reckon that’s what one would call a wild night.” Gavin’s summary was pretty spot on.

“You forgot the part where Ryan had me whip Alfredo into submission, but besides that, all accurate.” Ray joked.

“What?” Gavin cackled, making his iconic bird noises. “Ryan did that? Even after Jack said no touching?”

Ray nodded with a smile, “Yeah.”

“You know, I’m actually not surprised. Ryan is a bit of a risky Gent.” Gavin shook his head with a smirk. “Did you have fun though? It wasn’t too much for you or anything, right?”

“I was completely fine. He didn’t touch me at all. It was kinda focused on ‘Fredo.” Ray assured. “Is Ryan usually like that though? He seemed really-”

“Dominant.” Gavin interrupted, gaining a nod from Ray. “Yeah. Every time I’ve been to Ryan’s, he’s always prepared with some new toy. It’s just his kink. All the Gents have their own thing. Well, maybe except for Joel.”

“What do you mean?” Ray asked, genuinely surprised that Joel was dubbed the kink-less one.

“Well, see, you know Jack already. He’s into sweet stuff, affection, and spoiling us like we’re his sugar babies or something.” Gavin explained. “Ryan’s all about dom and sub play. And Geoff likes role playing. One time, he had Michael apply to be his real intern just so he could have sex with an intern in his office building.”

Ray laughed, “Really?”

“Yeah! Michael was so embarrassed! He said Geoff’s assistant kept giving him dirty looks!” Gavin laughed. “As for Burns, he’s like Ryan but way worse. Alfredo said one time, Burnie kept him naked and tied to a table for seven hours and was just fucking him intermittently over that time. Burns is the roughest Gent for sure.”

Ray shuttered at the mentioning of Burnie’s name, but shook the feeling away, trying to keep self-aware. “What about Joel? He doesn’t have a kink?”

“Not that any of us know about.” Gavin shrugged. “We’ve all tried different things with him, but so far, he’s pretty normal. He’ll get a little rough from time to time, but never any bondage or anything.”

Ray’s mind flashed back to his road head excursion with Joel, and found it hard to believe that Joel didn’t have some kind of kink. “Interesting. I guess I’ll just have to see for myself.”

“Guess so.” Gavin yawned. “Alright lad. As much as I’d like to keep entertaining, I’ve got to finish this editing before I go to sleep.”

“Oh, right! Sorry for bothering you.” Ray stood and moved to the door. “Night.”

“Hold on, Ray.” Gavin jumped up from his seat, grabbing Ray by the wrist and pulling him in for a hug.

Ray blushed at the happy feelings bubbling in him at the warm hug. It was just like the one Gavin gave him the morning after their night together, just less wet. Then it dawned on Ray that he forgot to add Gavin to the list of people to apologize to. This morning, he snapped at him, yelled at his friend, and ditched him at lunch. “Uh, Gav?”

“Yeah, lad?”

“Sorry.” Ray tried to come from an earnest place this time. He only snapped at Gavin that morning because he kissed Burnie. But Gavin didn’t know. It wasn’t his fault. It was Burnie’s fault.

Gavin tilted his head to the side, “For what?”

“For snapping at you in the car today and ditching you at lunch too.”

Gavin shook his head, “No worries, Ray. You already said sorry for the car thing. And it was just lunch. No reason to apologize.”

“I know, but... I also chased Meg off. I was a dick to her. She’s your friend and she didn’t deserve that.” Ray pulled away from the hug, feeling a sudden unworthiness. “So, I’m sorry.”

Gavin smiled and placed a gentle hand on Ray’s head, “It’s okay, lad. I forgive you. Just apologize to Meg. She’ll be at the party tomorrow. After that, everything will be top again.”

“Okay, thanks Gav. Goodnight.” Ray felt a second wave of relief. He managed to apologize to two people so far. Maybe his self-awareness tactic was working. Even recalling Burnie’s actions didn’t send him into a panic. He was getting better.

“Night Ray!” Gavin waved Ray out the door.

When Ray got to his room, he took a shower and tried to relax. In that time, the maids brought his shopping bags from Jack’s study and he missed a call from Burnie. The knowledge of the latter nullified the little relaxation he managed to gather in the shower. “Why won’t this piece of shit leave me alone?” Ray sighed as he climbed onto the middle of the bed and explored his new phone. Fiona wasn’t lying when she said nothing was missing. Everything was still on the phone, even the messages from Burnie.

Since signing the contract, Ray has been in an emotional downward spiral. The world was coming at him fast, and he hadn’t had a moment to clear his head. Until now, that is. After realizing the messages were still intact, the corners of Ray’s lips turned upward as a plan to retaliate against Burnie flooded his mind. He could use the photos and videos as evidence against him. Why didn’t Ray think of this before? Burnie was a dick. Why not use the photos? Ray scoffed. Could he really be this stupid? All his panic must have kept him from seeing the obvious move. Expose Burnie. He had the fucking evidence, so why not?

So, Ray, with a triumphant smirk plastered on his face, opened his text conversation with Burnie and composed his blackmail.

His text read: Burnie. Stop fucking calling me. Stop fucking texting me. If you so much as breathe in my direction again, I will show these photos and videos to the other Gents.

And of course, Ray was pleased with himself. Being self-aware of his panic was working. He was crazy, and he didn’t need any stupid therapy. He just needed to keep his mind clear. It was satisfying,but then Burnie sent a response and Ray was quickly brought down to earth. Burnie sent five text messages that made a familiar pit form deep in Ray’s gut.

The first read: Adam Kovic - $2000, a phone containing sensitive business materials, and several watches

The second read: Bruce Greene – a family heirloom ring, several credit cards, a closet’s worth of designer clothes, and $450

The third one read: James Willems - $4000, a business ledger containing sensitive business materials, clothing and jewelry amounting to more than $2000

The fourth read: Shall I continue? Those are the big ones, but there are about 15 more people on this list.

The final blow was in the fifth text message. It read: And I’m also in possession of a list of drug addicts that are more than willing to out their old dealer for a small compensation. So, you should know your place.

Remember the dark shit Ray turned to so he could get by? Well, that was it. His drug dealing college days finally coming back to haunt him. Possibly some of his worst crimes, and somehow, Burnie knew about them all. It was a sinking feeling. A panic inducing feeling. A feeling that made the twinge burst from the confines of Ray’s insides.

Ray couldn’t feel his lungs again. His hands trembled and that familiar feeling of hopeless washed over him. Burnie fucking knew everything. He knew about Ray’s crimes. And worse, he knew the details. Ray dropped the phone, pulled his legs to his chest, and struggled through another panic attack. This time was worse than the first two combined. In this moment, his self-awareness was no where to be found. Ray couldn’t focus on a single object like Meg taught him. He tried. He really tried, but it didn’t work. He couldn't focus. His mind was swirling with dark thoughts of Burnie, and the hyperventilating was making his head spin. Fear overcame him. His vision became spotty and as much as he wanted to pull himself out of this one, he couldn’t. For the second time since his panic attacks started, he passed out.

~

When Ray woke, he was drenched in sweat and disoriented. It was early in the morning, but he didn’t remember falling asleep. He didn’t even dream. His head was throbbing, but he forcefully pulled himself out of his pool of sweat. “Fuck.” He mumbled under his breath as he glanced at his phone and remembered his panic overwhelming him. And despite wanting nothing more than to lock his door, bury himself under the covers, and give into his depression, he stood up. He had work to do.

The situation seemed bleak. Burnie knew about Ray’s crimes now, so Ray had to assume they would be used against him. He didn’t know how and he didn’t know when, but he did know it was coming. So he had to be prepared. Also, in terms of rallying votes, Ray currently sat at one definite vote, and Jack’s promise for more. That wasn’t enough for him. He needed to take matters into his own hands, and get more votes. That meant apologizing to Joel Heyman.

Ray quickly cleaned himself up, dressed in casual clothes, and ordered a car to Joel’s place. Despite it being the aftermath of his third panic attack, the ride to Joel’s was peaceful. He had no unwanted messages from Burnie, and he wasn’t as panicky as he thought he would be. That equaled peace in Ray’s mind.

When Ray arrived, Fiona came to greet him. “Morning Ray!” She smiled and bowed, back to her maid-ly ways.

“Hey Fi,” Ray stepped out the car. “How’d speaking with Tina go?”

“Oh, she was pissed.” Fiona cringed. “But nothing too crazy happened. I was just given a warning.”

“I’m glad. Well, not about the warning, but that you weren’t fired or something.” Ray followed Fiona up the front steps and into the mansion. “I consider you a friend. For real. Next time you can sneak off, let me know. We can hang.”

Fiona smiled, “Thanks Ray, and honestly, same. I haven’t had that much fun in a while. I’ve been so focused on my job training that I forgot I’m a person who needs fun.”

Ray laughed, “Well I’m happy to help, but listen, I need to speak to Joel. Is he here?”

“Oh.” Fiona inhaled through her teeth. “Listen, he told everyone that he wasn’t taking any visitors. That includes you.”

“Really?” Ray scoffed. “Then I’ll go up there myself, so no one gets in trouble.”

Fiona stopped Ray before he could ascend the stairs. “I can’t let you up, dude. He was pretty serious about this. He even canceled his morning business meetings. He never does that.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “Between me and you, he’s been in his room all night with Jeremy and Michael. He just let Jeremy out this morning.”

Ray was going to respond but was interrupted by the front doors opening again. It was Trevor. “Hey! Ray, you’re here!” Trevor seemed so cheerful as he approached. Much different from the submissive Trevor that Ray encountered last night. “And Ms. Fiona, the bravest maid to ever live through Tina’s wrath. Let me tell ya, Blaine and Jon won’t shut up about you.” His comments made Fiona blush.

“Hey Trev,” Ray smiled. “How are you doing after...um, you know, yesterday?”

Trevor laughed, “I’m perfectly fine. I had a great time yesterday. Alfredo did too, if you catch my drift.” He leaned in to whisper to Ray. “He won’t shut up about you now. All he wants is to fuck you, dude.”

Ray couldn’t believe it. “Really?”

Trevor nodded, “Mm-hmm. And I agree with him. You’re fun.” It was Ray’s turn to blush. He may be concocting a plan of escape, but he enjoyed being complimented on his sexual talents. It made him feel like normal again.

“Trev! You’re here. Right on time.” It was Jeremy’s voice as he descended the stairs. “Ready to go film?”

“Yeah, the car’s waiting outside.” Trevor and Jeremy greeted each other like best bros. Ray could tell they were good friends.

“Oh, Ray’s here too?” Jeremy smiled brightly. “Nice to finally meet you man. How’re you holding up? Gav said you passed out cause you were malnourished, right?”

That’s right. Ray hasn’t seen Jeremy since that first panic attack. Things have been moving so fast for him that he almost forgot how many people in the game he hasn’t even spoken to yet. “Yeah, I’m totally fine now.” A lie, but what’s new? “Good to meet you, man.”

“Alright, sorry to cut this short, but we got an internet show to film. Ready, Set, Show!” Trevor exclaimed as he grabbed Jeremy by his arm and dragged him off. “See you lads at the party tonight!”

Ray and Fiona waved them off. “Am I invited to that? Am I a lad?” Fiona questioned.

“You’re asking the wrong person, Fi.” Ray shrugged. “But if I’m a lad, you’re a lad. Don’t leave me hanging.”

She smiled, “Got it. I’ll try to get over to the Ramsey property before dinner.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Ray nodded, and then gave Fiona a pleading look. “Now, about sneaking me up to Joel’s room?”

Fiona rolled her eyes, “You’re not going to stop this, huh?”

“Nope.” Ray gave a sly smile.

“Fine. How’s this? Try texting him. That always works for Gavin’s unexpected visits.” Fiona explained. “He’ll order us to send you up if he agrees.”

“Perfect idea. Thanks Fi.” Ray said as he quickly sent a message to Joel asking to come up.

Only seconds passed before Fiona’s phone buzzed. “That was fast. Guess you’re higher on the totem pole than Joel’s meetings at least.” Fiona smirked. “Come on. I’ll announce you.” She escorted Ray up the stairs, and down the hall to Joel’s door. The sounds spilling from it were those of sex; Michael’s moans and Joel’s thrusts.

“They are really going at it in there.” Fiona whispered. “You sure you want go in?”

“Yeah,” Ray nodded. “It’s just a little sex. No big deal.”

Fiona held back a chuckle, “Okay. Be safe in there. Don’t lose an eye or something.”

Ray giggled quietly, “Shut up and knock.”

Fiona smiled as she knocked twice and announced, “Mr. Heyman! Mr. Narvaez is here to see you.”

Through the door, Joel’s voice could be heard saying, “Let him in.”

“Good luck, dude.” Fiona whispered as she pushed open the door, bowed her head, and gestured for Ray to enter.

When Ray entered Joel’s room, he tried his best not be phased by the sight in front of him. Joel had Michael bent over the bed, and was ramming into him with reckless abandon. And even though Ray couldn’t see his face, Michael seemed to enjoy it. The way his body shook at each thrust, the sweet sounds of pleasure spilling from his lips, and the strings of profanity laced with pleads for more. Yeah, Michael enjoyed this.

“Michael, you have an audience now.” Joel’s voice was breathy. “Show him what we’ve practiced.” In a quick motion, Joel pulled Michael upright and turned to sit on the bed, exposing Michael’s chest. It was sticky with sweat and cum, and fluctuating with heavy breaths. Michael was bouncing now, working hard despite his clear look of fatigue. He made an eye contact with Ray that was empty, as if the pleasure had overwritten his thoughts. It was hot.

Even hotter was the way Michael came. It was a shaking orgasm. The kind that only happens after coming a few times already. One that’s forced but feels better than the last one and the one before that and the one before that. The kind the causes a hoarse scream like the one Michael released. It was the kind that didn’t produce cum, but only a single drop of clear fluid. It was the dry kind that only happens when your empty. Ray’s eyes flickered back to the stickiness on Michael’s chest. That’s where all his cum was. He’d already let it all out. Joel was just making sure of that.

Michael slumped back against Joel’s chest, drooping his head against the Gent’s right shoulder. “Joel, can I have another break?” Michael’s voice was strained, like he spent all night on a roller coaster named Joel.

“Yeah, of course.” Joel pressed a kiss against Michael’s neck and gently guided him off his lap.

Michael’s face went bright red as thick cum dripped down the back of his leg. “Thanks, Joel.”

Joel smiled and grabbed his discarded hoodie from the floor and pulled it over Michael’s wet body. “Go clean up and rest.” And after receiving quick pat on the head from Joel, Michael walked out in a daze.

After that little show, Ray couldn’t believe that Joel was the kink-less Gent. “You practiced that, huh?” Ray said with a sly smile, trying to begin with a lighthearted atmosphere.

“What the fuck do you want Ray?” Joel’s voice was not lighthearted, and he didn’t even spare Ray a glance as he pulled on a pair of sweatpants. “You back here to ask for more sex?”

Ray almost cringed at how bad Joel made him sound. “No, I just-”

“Or maybe it was to yell about how much we’re using you?” Joel’s words were sharp, but Ray sort of deserved it. He treated Joel the same way yesterday, so he needed to do his best to show Joel that he was sorry.After all, he needed Joel’s vote.

“I came to apologize.” Ray put up a fake face just as he did with Jack. “I didn’t mean what I said yesterday. Please don’t be upset with me.” Ray gave a small smile. “You know I’d never actually mean those things, right? So please, can we start over? I really want us to be better again.”

Joel balled his fists so tight that his knuckles went pale. “Can you drop the bullshit? You’re driving me fucking crazy.”

Joel’s words left Ray speechless. It wasn’t a shot in the dark. Joel knew that Ray was faking it, and he was calling Ray out. That never happens, so in a split decision, Ray doubled down. He forced an even faker face. “What do you mean? I’m honestly apologizing. What can I do to make you see that?”

“Why don’t you start with letting me speak to the real Ray?” Joel ran his hands frustratingly through his hair.

“What do you mean by that? This is-” Ray was interrupted.

“Stop with all the crap! This isn’t you. This isn’t the guy I picked up in that alley. I mean, I knew you could fake it. You certainly did a good at getting Jack’s attention at appraisal, but I didn’t know you’d rely on it this much.”

The Gent was speaking the truth, but Ray bit his lip to keep from expressing anything that would give himself away. “How do you know that this isn’t the real me anyway? The real version of me you’re talking about could be the fake one.”

Joel stared into Ray’s eyes, “It’s just a feeling. The way you’re talking now feels empty. Nothing like when I first spoke to you.”

“Just a feeling?” Ray was in disbelief. How did Joel know so much about him without knowing anything at all? Now, Ray had a choice. He could keep up his ruse, or he could let Joel in. The latter was terrifying, but would it even benefit Ray to hold things back at this point? Joel seemed intent on speaking to the real Ray, so why not give it a shot? All he needed was the vote.

“Fine.” Ray reluctantly gave in. “I’ll stop. You win.”

Joel sighed, “It’s not about winning.”

“Shut up. If it wasn’t about winning, or proving something, then why the hell would you invite me in here while you’re fucking Michael?” Ray’s words could cut. He wasn’t holding back with Joel anymore. If Joel wanted the real Ray, then he would get all of him, even the mean parts.

Joel crossed his arms, “You really want me to tell you?”

“Yes!” Ray pointedly said. “If you want my realness, then I want yours. So explain.”

“Fine! I wanted to make you jealous.” Joel began. “All you seemed to want yesterday was sex, so I wanted to show you what you couldn’t have because I was – I am – angry with you.”

Ray smirked, “That’s real fucking petty, Joel. You must feel great about yourself.”

“What’s your excuse?” Joel retaliated. “Yesterday, you were hysterical. Is the only way you argue at the top of your lungs and without letting anyone else get a word in?”

Ray rolled his eyes but chose not to push back. Instead, he took a deep breath and said, “I’m here talking to you now, aren’t I? I’m fucking sorry for screaming at you, alright?”

Joel sighed, but seeing the effort Ray was putting in, he said, “Alright, thank you.” He gestured for Ray to sit with him. “Now, for real this time, what do you want Ray?”

“I mainly came to apologize.” Ray crossed his arms, and moved to sit beside Joel on the bed. “Look, to be clear, I fucked up with you. I was a shitty person, but I need to know how you’re going to vote at my departure meeting. I can’t afford to not have your vote.”

“What are you even saying right now?” Joel shook his head. “I’m not so childish that I would mix our personal arguments with a contract meeting.”

Ray scoffed at Joel’s words. “Says the one who fucked someone in front of me just to make me jealous.”

“Okay, I admit,” Joel nodded. “That specific thing was childish of me, but I called the meeting so I’m obviously voting for you to leave. Like I said I would. Have some fucking faith, Ray.”

“Having faith in someone I met a couple days ago isn’t something done easily. Trust isn’t something I give. It’s something I take advantage of.”

“Well, I’m telling you to trust me. I signed a contract with you, remember?” Joel said with a smile, recalling the makeshift contract forged in an earnest moment between the two. “Joel will keep Ray’s secrets secret and always be truthful. That’s what it said, right?”

Ray’s eyes widened. He had forgotten all about the small contract. He didn’t even know where that little piece of paper was. Feelings from that moment rushed back as Ray remembered. He remembered the way he didn’t push Joel’s gentle touches away. He remembered the confident way Joel spoke, and how calming it was to Ray’s muddled mind. He remembered how Joel wiped his tears away, and didn’t push him for more. Joel was kind to him. Joel was even able to see through his bullshit. And despite the short time they’ve spent together, Joel somehow meant more to Ray than Ray could comprehend. And here he was, treating Joel like shit. Fuck.

“Ray!” Joel snapped Ray out of his thoughts. “You’re crying.”

“Huh?” Ray touched his face, and sure enough, he was crying without realizing it again. “Shit, sorry. Those weren’t even sad thoughts. I just-” Ray paused, knowing that if he said another word the tears would win.

Joel just smiled, placing both his hands on Ray’s face and using his thumbs to wipe the tears. “Don’t apologize. You can cry if you want to. You don’t have to hold it back. This is the only time I truly see you. The real you, that is.”

“No, I’m scared to cry. I’m fucking terrified.” Ray looked up at the ceiling, trying to keep more tears from escaping. “Every time I cry, other shitty feelings start coming back, and I-” He took a deep breath. “I can’t deal with that right now.”

“What can’t you deal with?” Joel asked softly.

“The panic.” Ray whispered, feeling the twinge rustle in his chest. And despite his efforts, tears began falling anyway. Ray couldn’t hold them back.

Fuck, why couldn’t he hold them back?

Chapter Text

Ray could probably die of embarrassment. Not only did he cry like an absolute child in front of Joel, but this was the third time it’s happened. Then again, Ray wasn’t bothered by everything Joel did. He didn’t mind the way Joel pulled him into a hug and held him close despite his ugly sobbing. He didn’t mind the gentle way Joel spoke to him, or the way Joel rubbed his back. Ray didn’t mind the forehead kisses or the head pats. Ray wasn’t bothered by these things, but he was especially not bothered by the way Joel didn’t question or ridicule. Yeah, except for all that stuff, Ray hated the experience.

“Can we just ignore this?” Ray mumbled against Joel’s chest. “I don’t want to deal with it.” This kind of request had become a reflex. Ray has asked both Esther and Meg to ignore his panic attacks, and while it was met with some resistance, it worked. But not for Joel.

Joel slowly pulled away from the hug. “Nope. Explain yourself. What did you mean by the panic?”

Of course, asking for ignorance wouldn’t work on Joel. Ray should have guessed that. He sighed, “Fine, but I’m invoking the contract on this one.”

“Okay, got it. My lips are sealed.” Joel smiled.

“I’m fucking serious, Joel. Don’t fucking-!” Ray stopped himself before saying anything further. It was a type of self-control he’s struggled with in the past, but Ray decided that Joel deserved his effort. “Just please don’t tell anyone, or freak out, or think...Fuck.” Ray cursed at himself. “Just please don’t think I’m crazy or something.”

Joel ran a gentle hand through Ray’s hair. “I would never do anything you don’t like.”

Ray soothed himself under Joel’s touch and took a deep breath. “Fine. So um...recently, I’ve been having... panic attacks.”

Recently?” Joel repeated with concern. “Just how recently is recently?”

Ray bit his lip. This was hard. Talking about it was hard. Looking at the concern in Joel’s eyes was hard. Admitting to someone that his panic attacks existed made everything real, and that shit was hard. “When I passed out after appraisal,” Ray’s heart began racing. “It was because I couldn’t catch my breath.” Ray’s palms suddenly felt clammy, and he knew his fingers were trembling, but he couldn’t stop them. “That was the first time.”

Joel grabbed Ray’s hand, acknowledging the trembles but making no comment on them, trying to make Ray feel safe. “Did they start because of the game? Is it too much for you?”

“It’s not-” Ray squeezed Joel’s hand. “I’m fine with the game, but I’m just not okay with everyone in it. I just need to put distance between myself and that person before something bad h- um, actually, never mind. I can’t.”

Ray could tell Joel was irritated, but he could also see how hard Joel was working to keep himself calm. Joel spoke softly, but his voice was firm, “Please just tell me who it is, Ray. I can’t help you if you don’t tell me who it is.”

“But you can help me.” Ray tried to get away from the subject. “Your vote will help me!”

“Ray, stop keeping everything to yourself! Just trust me. I’m asking you to trust me!”

“No, Joel. Please. I’m stressed out enough as it is. This is too much. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest. I-” Ray took another deep breath, trying to prevent his breaths from becoming sporadic. “I was serious when I said I can’t deal with this right now. If I stop for even a moment, I don’t think I’ll be able to start moving again. So just, please, don’t ask anymore!”

Joel pinched the spot between his eyes in frustration. “I can’t just ignore this! You said it wasn’t Jack or Gavin. You saw Barb and Michael before you signed the game contract. You saw all the Gents during appraisal and you seemed fine with them. And I heard you went to Vagabond last night, so it can’t be Trev or Alfredo. And I’m sure you’d be more scared of coming here if it was Jeremy.” Joel gasped, “It’s Lindsay, isn’t it? You had your first attack after appraisal, right? And Lindsay is the only outlier.”

Ray was so angry. Mostly because he couldn’t correct the older man. It not Lindsay. It’s Burnie! Ray wanted to scream at the top of his lungs that it was fucking Burnie Burns. But he couldn’t. Burnie knew the history of Ray’s crimes. If Ray said anything that incriminated Burnie, Ray’s crimes would be revealed as well. It was just like Burnie’s message said. Ray needed to know his place.

“Joel, stop! Stop guessing! Just stop! If that stupid contract we signed means anything to you, you’ll stop asking and just vote for me to leave!” Ray’s words were harsh but his expression was probably more fearful than enraged.

Joel balled his fists again. How could Ray ask him to just pretend nothing was happening? He stood and anxiously began pacing back and forth, trying to decide if he would honor Ray’s request or not. Ultimately, with one look at Ray, he knew what his decision would be. “Fine!” Joel snapped and stopped pacing. “You win! I’ll stop! But you can’t keep any more shit from me! You can’t-!” Joel paused, catching himself yelling. He took a calming breath before continuing, “You can’t hold things in. If you need to cry, then just cry. If you feel bad, tell someone. Come to me! And I’ll hold you. I’ll try my best to make you feel better. I’ll make sure you know that you’re not alone. Ray, you can rely on me. I want you to rely on me.”

Ray blushed at the sweet words Joel spoke. “That’s...um...fuck, Joel. You can’t just say embarrassing stuff like that in the middle of an argument.”

Joel smiled at Ray’s bashful reaction, “Why not? I mean them.” He wanted to tease Ray even more. “I want to hold you and wipe your tears away, and tell you everything will be fine.”

“Shut up,” Ray was flustered now. His anxious beating heart was suddenly replaced with an excited one, and it was all because of Joel.

“Why?” Joel moved closer to the edge of the bed, directly in front of Ray. In one motion, he dropped down onto his knees, putting them at eye level with each other. “You didn’t like it when I held you against my chest, hm? Or when I ran my fingers through your hair?”

Ray’s eyes darted down to Joel’s chest, and his face went hot. Joel wasn’t wearing a shirt this entire time, and Ray didn’t bat an eye. But suddenly, Joel was saying all these things that made Ray feel tingly and that made his shirtless-ness more enticing. “Joel,” Ray practically whined the Gent’s name.

“Yes, Ray?” Joel smirked as he ran his hands up Ray’s legs, across his knees, and softly brushed over his thighs, stopping against his growing bulge.

Ray held his breath, gripped at the sheets on the bed’s edge, and squeezed his eyes shut to keep himself from moaning at Joel’s touches. It was bad enough that his dick was betraying him. He wasn’t about to let his voice do it too. “You don’t want to get in trouble, right?” Ray whispered through his held breath.

“You’re right.” Joel hummed as he pressed his palm bit harder against Ray’s hardening bulge. “I can’t touch you here. I know that.” Joel looked up at Ray’s struggling face. “But how can I stop when you’re making a face like that?”

Ray opened his eyes at Joel’s words, and when he found the Gent staring back him, his body shivered and goosebumps erupted on his skin. He couldn’t hold back the moans anymore. “Joel!” Ray gripped harder at the sheets and pressed his hips upward to get more friction.

But then, Joel abruptly stopped. “Uh, no, sorry. We actually shouldn’t. I want to. Fuck, I want to. But we can’t.”

Ray let out a breathy whine, “Joel, that’s not fair. You did this.”

“I know, Ray. I’m sorry. I got carried away. I-” Joel was interrupted by the sight in front of him. Ray wasn’t listening to Joel’s excuses anymore. Instead, Ray unzipped his jeans, slid down his boxers, and pulled out his hardening dick. “Ray, what are you doing?” Joel mumbled with a flushed face as he stared at Ray’s exposed body.

“If you can’t touch me, then at least watch me,” Ray said as he pulled off his t-shirt.

Ray’s arousal had taken the wheel, and there was nothing Joel – or Ray, for that matter – could do to stop it. So, it was Joel’s turn to feel flustered. “Fuck. Okay, but just be quiet. We can’t have anyone hearing you.”

“Okay,” Ray locked eyes with Joel and smirked. “Okay, Daddy. I can be quiet for you.”

Joel inhaled, trying to calm himself, but Ray had a way of breaking his resolve, especially when he spoke like that. “Ray, you can’t-”

“I can’t what?” Ray smiled as he rubbed his fingers across his nipples, enjoying the small sensations first, before pinching and tugging at them.

“You can’t call me that. It’s not… It just goes to my head is all.” Joel couldn’t tear his eyes away from Ray’s body as it flinched and shivered.

“If you want me to call you something, all you have to do is ask.” Ray kept his eyes on Joel, wanting nothing more than to be touched by the Gent but being satisfied in the gray area of what was okay and what wasn’t.

Joel nodded, “Could you actually – I mean if it’s not too weird, can you?”

“Anything for you, Daddy.” Ray smiled as he played with his nipples until he could no longer ignore how hard his dick was. “But you have to tell me to touch myself.” Ray moaned softly as he trailed his hands down his chest. “Tell me to touch my dick.”

Joel blushed at the sight before him, knowing it was definitely against the rules but being so immersed that he didn’t care anymore. “Touch your dick, Ray,” Joel whispered. “Touch yourself for Daddy.”

Ray’s eyes went wide at Joel’s words, and he had to bite his lip to stop himself from making any sounds. “Fuck, that’s so hot,” Ray whined out as he grabbed his cock and began pumping his hand slowly across the shaft. “I want you to fuck me, Daddy.” Ray gave a shallow breath, holding back a moan as he gently quickened his pace. “I want you to fuck me like you fucked Michael.”

Joel let out a heavy breath, and let himself be swept up by Ray’s dirty talk. “You want that? You want to be fucked all night until you’re coming nothing? Is that what you want?”

“Yes!” Ray accidentally moaned aloud. “Fuck, I’m sorry. Mmm...I’ll be quiet, I’ll be-!” Ray was interrupted by Joel’s fingers pushing their way into his mouth.

“This should shut you up.” Joel mused as he rubbed his middle and forefinger against Ray’s tongue.

Ray groaned against Joel’s fingers and began to suck, letting himself get lost in the pleasure. He pumped his hand faster and used his other to pull at one of his nipples. It all felt so good, but Ray didn’t want to admit that it was because of Joel. Whenever Ray masturbated before, it would take so long and it always involved a mix of prostate massaging, dick rubbing, and some porn, but this was different. Right now, he was on the edge, and he had barely done anything. Was it wrong to get more pleasure from Joel’s fingers in his mouth than a hand on his cock?

Without removing his fingers, Joel stood up and slid his sweatpants down just enough to reveal his hardened cock. With his free hand, he began stroking it in front of Ray’s face. “You have such a pretty mouth.” Joel praised, and Ray loved it. The compliment made the ball of pleasure swirling in Ray’s stomach get tighter. “Open it for me,” Joel said as he pulled his fingers out and rubbed them against Ray’s lips before removing his hand completely.

Ray pouted at the lack of touch but still obeyed Joel’s command by parting his lips and sticking his tongue out. Almost like he was expecting something.

Joel smirked as he stroked his dick, “You want me to come in your mouth, Ray?”

“Yes, I want it,” Ray said softly, staring up at Joel with desperate eyes. “I’ll swallow all of it for you, Daddy. I promise.” Ray picked up his pace again, using his thumb to focus on the head of his cock. It felt moist. He was leaking pre-cum so he knew his orgasm was going to hit soon. Joel didn’t look too far behind either, so Ray opened his mouth again and locked eyes with Joel.

Fucking hell, Ray.” Joel groaned. “I’ll come for you right now. Don’t close your mouth, understand?”

Ray nodded as he shifted so close to Joel’s cock that he was breathing on it. Joel gave himself a few more hard strokes, but really, it was the sensation of Ray’s breath that sent him over. With a soft grunt, Joel shot a thick glob of cum onto Ray’s glasses before adjusting and shooting the remainder into Ray’s expecting mouth.

At this point, Ray could honestly say that anything would push him off the pleasure ledge. His hand was moving so fast against his cock, rubbing wildly all his favorite spots. And the pleasure knotting in his stomach was so tight that Ray was feeling lightheaded.

As Joel finished, Ray went to close his mouth, but Joel stopped him by grabbing his chin. “Don’t close your mouth, Ray,” Joel commanded. “Orgasm with my cum in your mouth.”

Fuck! Ray was coming. And he wanted to scream that he was coming, but he didn’t. Because Joel told him to be quiet. So, instead, he let out a breathy, strained moan as his orgasm took him in waves and his cum dripped in a thick stream against Joel’s sheets. Not once did he close his mouth. He held it open so Joel could watch, and Ray swore Joel’s eyes on him made his orgasm last a bit longer and feel more intense. At the end of his pleasure peak, he wanted to be praised. He had done everything Joel asked, and he did it well. So, the next words out of Joel’s mouth better be praise.

“You did so good, Ray.” Joel hummed as he ran his thumb across Ray’s lip. “Now swallow it, like you promised.”

Ray nodded and locked eyes with Joel before closing his mouth to swallow and opening it again to show Joel proof. “That’s the second time you’ve used my mouth this week.” Ray giggled, as he took off his glasses and licked the glob of cum off his frames. “I should start charging you for my services.” Ray smiled up at Joel expecting a playful expression from the older man, but instead, Joel stared down at him with eyes glazed in arousal.

“Let’s just have sex now, Ray,” Joel whispered as he pushed Ray against the mattress.

“Joel, wait-!” Ray exclaimed as his back connected with the sheets. “You said we can’t.”

“I know what I said.” Joel climbed on the bed, hovering over Ray’s exposed body. “I’ll take responsibility for it. So let’s just-”

There was a knock on the door that made both men flinch in surprise. From outside, a maid spoke, “Mr. Heyman! Michael has returned.”

Joel’s face went red as he snapped out of his sex-fueled fog. “Shit! Um...clothes. Put your clothes on. Quickly.” He whispered as he climbed off and adjusted his sweatpants.

“Right.” Ray nodded as he stood, buttoned his jeans, and fumbled with his t-shirt.

Joel approached the door and cracked it open, “What’s up, Michael?”

Michael pushed the door and confidently strolled into the room, clearly out of his previous sexual haze and back to his normal self. He wore casual clothes and a knowing smirk. “I hope you guys aren’t breaking any rules in here.”

Joel gave a nervous laugh, “Of course not.”

“Never.” Ray joined in on Joel’s tense laughter.

“Okay, sure. Let’s go with that.” Michael snickered. “Look. Jack sent some maids to fetch Ray and prep him for the meeting and the party.” Michael pointed towards the door and chuckled. “Everyone was too scared to interrupt so they sent me. Let’s not get in trouble, right guys?”

Ray blushed as he moved towards to door. “Yeah, right. I should go. Thanks for the heads up, Michael.” But before he could leave, Joel grabbed him by his hand.

“See you later, okay?” Joel smiled.

Ray rolled his eyes, but he was smiling too. “Okay, see you.”

What followed that interaction was a blur. Ray went with the maids back to Jack’s house. They dressed him in a fancy suit and did his hair. It was the type of pampering one would usually want to be present for, but Ray was stuck in his head. His thoughts were filled with Joel. The beautiful words Joel spoke. His laughter and his smile. That nervous way he stares when he’s turned on and the way he overcomes those nerves with action. And his body. His broad shoulders, his slim waist, and his strong arms. Ray’s mind was filled with Joel’s everything. And he couldn’t ignore the butterflies swirling in his stomach. He knew he was falling for the man.

But for now, Ray had to set those feelings aside. His departure meeting was in an hour, and he had to meet Jack and Gavin out front in five minutes. So Ray gave himself a final look in the mirror. The maids had a good taste in suits – probably because they wore them too. They fitted him in a pale blue collarless button-up and paired it with a light gray jacket, black pants, and black shoes. The jacket buttons were silver, so was the watch and the necklace. They shined so brightly in the light that Ray wondered if they were real. But honestly, being this far in the game, he knew to never doubt the wealth of the Gents.

Ray gathered his essentials – phone, keys, wallet – and made his way down the stairs, where Gavin and Jack were waiting for him. They both looked amazing in their designer suits. The styles were very reminiscent of appraisal night. “Hey,” Ray waved as he joined them.

“You look stunning, Ray,” Jack said as he placed a quick kiss on Ray’s forehead.

“Yeah, Ray. You look smashing.” Gavin smiled and threw his arm over Ray’s shoulders. “Ready to go, lad?”

Ray nodded, “Yeah, I am, and um...thanks guys, you both look amazing too.”

“Such a sweet boi!” Gavin’s laughter filled the limo ride to Geoff’s place.

The limo was spacious with blacked windows and a bar, which Jack had stocked with beer for Gavin and Dr. Pepper for Ray. Gavin joked about how predictable the Gent’s gesture was, and Jack laughed along. In the thirty minutes it took to get to Geoff’s, Gavin downed two beers and managed to make everyone laugh, even the driver. His joyous energy kept Ray’s mind off the impending meeting, where he’ll be in the same room as Burnie. However, the panic still sat at Ray’s core. He knew it was there, but he was doing everything to keep it at bay. At least until the end of the meeting.

The Ramsey estate reminded Ray of a woodland mansion. The main colors were greens and browns, and various grains of wood accented the space. On the property, there were huge trees and lush gardens that made the air feel crisp when the group exited the limo. Ray wasn’t surprised by the grand environment, but he was definitely in awe.

A maid scurried down the front steps to greet them. “Hello sirs.” She bowed. “Mr. Ramsey extends his welcome. Please follow me.”
“Lead the way,” Jack said as the maid gestured up the front steps and quietly guided the group into the mansion.

The entrance way of the Ramsey mansion sported the tallest ceiling Ray’s seen so far. Its chandelier warmed the space with soft golden light, and music billowed from somewhere further inside. Standing by the entrance was Ryan, Trevor, and Alfredo. They arrived only moments before.

“Jack!” Ryan’s voice was cheery, just like when he spoke to Jack on the phone. “Great to see you!”

“What do you want, Ryan?” Jack could smell Ryan’s bullshit from a mile away, and based on Gavin’s unimpressed expression, Ray knew the Brit could too.

Ryan laughed, “You know me too well! You see, a certain grapevine let it slip that the meeting today is for a certain person’s departure.” He shot a glance at Ray.

“Is that so?” Jack crossed his arms. “And who might this grapevine be?”

Ryan sighed, “I think you might have an idea. Seeing as how you invited him.”

“Gus!” Trevor exclaimed as Gus strolled into the entrance way. “What are you doing here? Are you here for the party? Are you back in the game? Is Esther here?”

Gus smiled at Trevor’s enthusiasm. “Afraid not. No festivities for me today. I’m here on business.” Then, he glanced at Jack. “Someone called in a favor.”

Gavin gave Gus a quick wave before leaning over to Ray and whispering, “Do you know why Gus is here? I haven’t seen him in months.”

Ray couldn’t believe it. The sight of Gus nearly brought him to tears. Jack had secured Ray’s third vote. This was it! Ray smiled confidently, “Didn’t you hear him, Gav? It’s just for business.”

“Strange.” Gavin shrugged it off. “I’m going to meet up with everyone in the lounge, you lads coming?” He spoke to Trevor, Alfredo, and Ray.

“Yeah, Jeremy, Michael, and the girls are already pre-gaming. Come on!” Trevor grabbed Gavin and Alfredo by their hands and dragged them off.

“Hold on, Trev!” Gavin was giggling as Trevor tugged at his arm. “Ray, you coming?”

Ray shook his head, “I’ll be there a bit later.”

“Suit yourself!” Trevor exclaimed playfully as he disappeared with the others.

Jack placed a gentle hand on Ray’s shoulder, “Are you ready for the meeting?”

“Yeah, is everyone here?” Ray gave a wary look at the door, wondering where Burnie was lurking.

Gus nodded, “Geoff’s waiting in the meeting room. Joel is-”

“Joel’s here!” Joel walked from the hallway Trevor and the others disappeared down.

Ray couldn’t stop the smile that erupted on his face when Joel arrived. He was wearing a classic black suit, his hair was neat, and his charisma was endless. Ray was head over heels for the Gent, and he could feel it everywhere in his body. “Hi Joel,” Ray peeked up at his favorite Gent and gave a small wave.

“Hi Ray.” Joel gave Ray a smile of his own.

Gus sighed, “That’s everyone except Burns.”

“He’s always late,” Joel commented.

“Who’s always late?” It was Burnie’s voice as he entered the front doors of the mansion. His presence shifted the atmosphere of the room. Gus went silent and gave Burnie a look of hatred. Ryan looked at him like a henchman would his boss. Joel seemed indifferent, and so did Jack, but Ray could sense a seriousness in them both.

Joel chuckled, “I spoke too soon. Glad to see you taking game matters seriously.”

“Well, this particular meeting is for Ray’s departure,” Burnie said as he gave Ray a sadistic look that made the young Puerto Rican’s stomach sink. “I wouldn’t miss it.”

Ray’s chest was instantly plagued by a familiar tightness at Burnie’s words. The room felt like it was spinning, and his stomach was turning. He didn’t know if he could do this. He knew that it would be quick. All he had to do was get through a vote, so why wouldn’t his fingers stop shaking? Burnie’s eyes terrified him, but he couldn’t touch him here. Ray knew that. He knew that! So why?

“Ray?” Jack shook his shoulder. “Are you alright? You look pale.”

Ray took a shallow breath, “I’m...um, where’s the bathroom?”

“Down the hall over there, why-?”

Before he could finish, Ray ran off, ignoring the concerned voices of Joel and Jack. He had no way of quantifying just how stifling Burnie’s presence would be. He threw open the bathroom door and immediately rushed to lean over the toilet. He felt nauseous and lightheaded and didn’t know if it was because of the panic itself or the hyperventilating that always came with it. Then, there were the tears that starting viciously colliding with the water in the toilet bowl. Ray gripped at the clothing covering his chest, wanting to rip it from his body because he felt so suffocated.

“Don’t you just look pathetic?” Burnie’s voice filled the bathroom.

The sound of the Gent’s voice sent a rush of adrenaline through Ray’s body, and despite the crippling panic, he had a strong fight or flight response. He stood up quickly and attempted to push his way through the door.

“No, you don’t.” Burnie grabbed Ray by his upper arm. “I said I would check on you. Let me check.” Burnie was stronger than Ray. The Gent pushed the younger man back into the bathroom and shut the door. The sound of the lock clicking changed the situation completely. In other words, Ray’s flight failed, so fight kicked in. And it kicked hard.

Ray was on autopilot. He threw a fist towards Burnie’s face with everything his body could muster, but Burnie was also quicker than Ray. He grabbed Ray’s wrist pushed him against the bathroom wall. Then he laughed. “You’re not as broken as I thought.”

“Fuck you!” Ray yelled as he slammed his forehead against Burnie’s face, making the Gent stumble backward and clutch his nose. Chills shot down Ray’s spine at Burnie’s utter silence. He was sure that hit would cause some damage but Burnie just sighed.

The Gent lifted his face, wiped a small drop of blood from his nostril, and gave Ray a dark look. “I was going to be nice,” Burnie spoke grabbed a handful of Ray’s hair and pushed his head against the wall. “But you’re forcing my hand with all this disobedience.” Burnie grabbed one of Ray’s wrist and forcefully twisted his arm behind his back. Then, he pressed his body against Ray’s.

Ray struggled with all his body weight against Burnie’s hold but he couldn’t move. “Get off me!” He was panicking again, and being pinned against the wall only made it worse.

Burnie clicked his tongue, and slammed Ray’s forehead against the wall again, “Quiet.”

Ray’s head was pounding, but he kept thrashing against Burnie’s hold, “No! Let me go, you fucking disgusting prick!”

Burnie released Ray’s hair only to press his hand over Ray’s mouth. “As much as I love this pointless display of resistance, if you refuse to quiet down, I’ll be forced to show the Gents all the evidence I’ve gathered. You wouldn’t want that now, would you?”

Ray flinched at Burnie’s threat, and his body instinctively went still. Not that. Anything but that.

“What a good boy.” Burnie’s words made Ray feel sick. “Now, I commend your tactical prowess. I have no idea how you managed to get Gus here, but the thing is: I hate losing. That’s where you come in.” Burnie removed his hand from Ray’s mouth and dragged it down Ray’s side. “During the meeting, all you have to do is vote for my plan. Understand?”

Ray felt vile beneath Burnie’s hold, but he didn’t struggle. He couldn't struggle. Burnie had him pinned from all angles. Physically, mentally, and emotionally pinned. “Fine,” Ray spoke quietly, too scared to speak up anymore. “Just let me go.”

“There it is,” Burnie smirked and let his hand traverse Ray’s body. “That beautiful submission you showed me before, but something is missing. Did you forget how to properly ask for things?”

Ray cursed internally as tears started streaming down his face. “Please let me go.” His voice cracked. He couldn’t stand the feeling of Burnie’s touch. It was repulsive, and scary, and made him want to jump out of his mind.

“Such a good boy,” Burnie whispered against Ray’s ear before shoving him against the wall and releasing his hold. “Clean up. The meeting starts in ten minutes. Don’t be late.” With that, Burnie exited the bathroom.

Ray slid against the wall and onto the floor, feeling broken by the sheer helplessness pumping through his body. How would he ever recover from this? He couldn’t move. Burnie had completely ruined him. That’s when the panic came. This time was strange. This time Ray anticipated it, but it felt just as bad as before. The hyperventilating, the trembling, and intense feelings of despair. He pulled his knees against his chest and leaned against the bathroom wall. This time Ray felt present for the dark waves of misery. It was painful.

A knock. “Ray! Are you okay in there?” It was Joel’s voice through the door. “Burnie said you asked for me. I’m coming in.”

Ray had no energy to protest. Joel opened the door and was stunned by the scene in front of him. “Ray!” Joel dropped to his knees and pulled Ray into a tight embrace.

“Joel,” Ray’s voice cracked through sobs and sporadic breaths.

“I’m here.” Joel pressed soothing circles into Ray’s back. “I’m here, Ray. It’ll be okay.”

Ray gripped at the back of Joel’s jacket with trembling hands, and slowly remembered how to breathe. Joel’s calming affirmations paired with his gentle comforting touch was helping. It helped Ray pull himself far enough out of his panic that he could do as Meg taught him. He focused on the intricacies of the ornate bathroom tiles. The color, the shine, the way the pattern flipped on every other tile. Ray took a deep breath and mumbled, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry.” Joel pulled Ray off the floor. “How are you feeling now?”

If Ray was honest, he was still shaken up. “Better.”

“Am I allowed to ask what happened? Did Burns do something to you?” Joel said as he wiped a few tears from Ray’s face.

“No.” Ray lied again. He knew it was wrong, but necessary. If he disobeyed Burnie, then his crimes would be revealed.

Joel kissed Ray’s forehead, “I know you’re lying.”

“I had a panic attack. Again.” Ray gave a believable lie this time. “The stress of starting the meeting got to me. Burnie saw me, and I told him to get you. That’s all. I’m better now.”

“If you say so.” Joel sighed, “I hate to say this, but it’s time. Do you think you can make it through the meeting?”

Ray adjusted his clothes, fixed his hair, and wiped the remaining tears from his eyes. He dispelled his fear and his panic, and despite the looming worry about Burnie’s plan, he willed himself together. “Yes. Let’s go.”

Joel led Ray back towards the entrance way and down a long hallway. At the end of the hall was a room with a placard that read: Gentleman’s Conference Room. The inside reminded Ray of the appraisal room at Joel’s but with Geoff’s wood-inspired design choices. The Gent’s sat in chairs aligned in a semicircle, and much like before, Joel took the first seat. Jack was the second seat, Geoff was third, Burnie was fourth, and Ryan was fifth. The only difference was Gus’s presence in the sixth seat.

“Ray, please take a seat,” Jack spoke and gestured to a chair at the center of the room, facing the Gents.

Ray nodded and took his seat just as Joel began the meeting. “As you all may know by now, this is an official meeting to enact the departure clause of the game contract for Ray.”

Geoff scoffed, “This is ridiculous. You just joined the game, Ray. You can’t make it five weeks?”

Ray was surprised by Geoff’s question. He didn’t know that there would be questions. He looked to Joel and then to Jack, searching for some indication on whether he should answer or not. Joel motioned for Ray to say something, but just as Ray opened his mouth, Burnie spoke over him.

“Actually, Geoff, I agree with you.” Burnie smiled. “But let’s not discount Ray’s reasoning.”

“And what exactly is that reasoning?” Ryan questioned.

Ray had no time to speak for himself, Burnie was quick. “It’s obvious. He wasn’t fully briefed on the contract details. Joel failed to discuss it with him, just as he’s failed to do so with Michael in the past.”

“Give it a rest Burns, why don’t you let Ray speak for himself?” Ray could hear the irritation in Joel’s voice. “Ray, what is your reasoning?”

Ray glanced at Burnie’s worry-free face and then back at Joel. “I wasn’t fully briefed on the contract.” He softly repeated Burnie’s reason and apologized internally for it.

The confusion on Joel’s face filled Ray with guilt. “Is that really your reason, Ray?”

Ray bit the inside of his lip and nodded, “Yes.”

“Fine,” Geoff conceded. “So what? You want to leave tonight?”

“Yes, he does.” Joel spoke just as Burnie said, “No, he doesn’t.”

Ryan rolled his eyes at the simultaneous responses, “So which is it?”

Jack crossed his arms, clearly upset by the way the meeting has gone so far. “Ray, do you want to leave tonight?”

Again, Ray bit the inside of his lip. He couldn’t look at Joel’s confused face anymore, instead, he kept his eyes locked to the wooden floor. It was hard to agree with Burnie, but he had no choice. “No, not tonight exactly.”

“Ray wants to finish his week, but with a twist that I’m sure will leave everyone satisfied.” Burnie continued tightly holding the reigns of the meeting. “One day with each Gent and he leaves at the end of the week. Sounds fair, right?”

“Hold on,” Joel spoke up. “As the one who called this meeting, I know for a fact that Ray wants to finish his cycle with Jack and leave.”

“Well, which is it?” Ryan scoffed, “Because that’s not what he said.”

“He’s just nervous,” Joel explained. “He-”

Gus interjected, “Let’s just vote on it then. No sense in going back in forth.”

“Let’s,” Burnie smirked. “All those for allowing Ray to leave after his week with Jack?”

Joel, Jack, and Gus raised their right hands and said, “Aye.”

“All opposed?” Burnie asked.

Geoff, Ryan, and Burnie raised their right hands and said, “Aye.”

“It seems we have a split vote,” Burnie concluded with a smug confidence that made Ray’s throat go dry. “Ray, which plan would you prefer?”

Ray shifted awkwardly in his seat and glanced up at each Gent. Joel seemed upset, and rightly so. After all, Ray blindsided him with this change of plans. Jack seemed confused by Ray’s decisions but Ray couldn’t sense any frustration from the man. Geoff seemed indifferent, Burnie was obviously pleased with himself, and Gus was just as indifferent as Geoff. Ray took a shallow breath, “I want to spend a day with each Gent and leave at the end of the week.” Saying it out loud made Ray feel useless.

“Then that’s what we’ll do.” Burnie nodded. “Now, as for the arrangements-”

“I call first!” Geoff exclaimed, changing the tone of the meeting. “Joel brought Ray into the game, so he should go last, and if I wait until after you two,” He pointed to Ryan and Burnie, “Then he’ll be all marked up.”

“Can’t have that.” Burnie laughed, “Then, if no one has any objections, Ray will go with Geoff tomorrow.”

“I want next,” Ryan spoke. “After Geoff, I want Ray.”

“Perfect.” Burnie was enjoying himself too much for Ray’s taste. “Now, I’ll gladly go last. Joel, you can have Ray on the third day.” It was like he was rubbing his victory in Joel’s face.

“Whatever.” Joel’s voice was sharp.

Burnie brought his palm together, “Then if there aren’t any more concerns-”

“What about the ‘no more than two’ rule?” Ryan asked. “If any of us, except Burns, takes Ray, we’ll have three charges. That should be remedied, no?”

“Well, if we’re just moving stuff around for one day, then on my day, Lindsay and Barb can go with Burns. I want Michael and Ray.” Geoff was really milking this opportunity.

“I like that idea,” Ryan spoke. “I want Alfredo and Ray. Trevor can go with Jack.”

Burnie chuckled, “I’m fine with that. As for me, I’ll just take Ray on my day.”

“Joel,” Jack tapped the other man’s shoulder. “What will you do?”

Joel sighed and leaned back against the suede armchair, “I'll take Ray and Michael. Jeremy can go with Jack.”

“Then,” Burnie stood abruptly, making Ray flinch. “That’s all for the meeting today. You’ll have to excuse me from tonight’s events. I have other matters to attend to.” He stepped towards Ray and grabbed the younger man’s chin, forcing Ray’s eyes towards his. “I await our night together, Ray.” With that, Burnie exited the room, leaving Ray feeling utterly shattered.

Chapter Text

After the meeting ended, Joel and Jack pulled Ray into the hall and, unsurprisingly, berated him with question after question. Lots of whys and whats and hows. All related to the way Burnie commandeered the meeting and made all of Ray’s choices for him. Joel and Jack were confused, and Ray didn’t blame them for it. Instead, he did all the shit that got him here in the first place. He stayed quiet when quiet was necessary. He lied when lying suited him. He manipulated when he felt like he needed it. He used his deluded mantra of everything is fine. Convinced that if he said that enough, then maybe even he would start to believe it.

“Ray,” Joel sighed. “I know you don’t want to talk about it, but at least tell us when you spoke to Burns about this plan?”

“We’ve been texting these last couple of days.” Ray felt uncomfortable and exhausted from telling false truths. “That’s when we came up with it.”

“That can’t be true,” Jack said firmly. “You told me last night that you didn’t have the votes you needed. You only had Joel’s. That’s what you said.”

Ray inhaled slowly, his mind working to formulate a more believable lie. “I think you misunderstood. Burnie texted me about the plan this morning. After you and I spoke, Jack.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me about the plan?” Joel asked. “You saw me after that, so why?”

“We were still fighting so I- um... I forgot to mention it.” Ray was getting tired of this interrogation.

Jack gave Joel a perplexed look, “You two were fighting? About what?”

“That’s beside the point, Jack,” Joel dismissed the conversation before it could go further. “Now, Ray, I think you’re missing what we’re saying. Everyone in the meeting just voted for you to leave. Just like you wanted. Yet, I can tell that you’re not happy about it.” He placed a hand on Ray’s shoulder. “I just want to know why.”

Ray forced a smile, “I am happy.” That was the biggest lie Ray has told so far, and judging by the face Joel made in return, he knew it was obvious. Despite that, he continued, “Burnie helped me find a good compromise. I get to leave, and you guys – and the other Gents – get to have me this week. I was just stressed about the possibility of staying for the full month but I’m fine now. I promise, so please,” He took Jack’s hand in his, “No more questions?”

Jack smiled, “Alright, well, as long as you’re happy with it. We’ll leave it here.” Jack smiled, leaning in to kiss Ray’s forehead. “No more questions.”

“Jack, he-!” Joel exclaimed, clearly not buying Ray’s fake demeanor.

“No more questions, Joel.” Jack silenced the doubt.

“You guys are still out here?” Gus said as he exited the conference room with Geoff and Ryan at his side.

Jack extended his hand to Gus for a handshake. “Yeah, we’re just having a little chat. Thanks again for coming in, Gus.”

“Of course,” Gus welcomed the handshake. “To be honest, I’m glad you’re all still here. Esther wanted me to check up on Ray before I leave.” He focuses his attention on the younger man. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” Ray’s response was quick and served with a smile that made Joel look at him with disbelief. “Tell her I’m doing just fine, and also tell her thanks for checking in.”

“Will do,” Gus nodded. “I’m going to head back now, Gents. Have fun tonight.” After shaking hands with the others, Gus disappeared down the hallway and exited the Ramsey estate.

“Well, now that the business is taken care of, why don’t we go grab some dinner?” Geoff threw his arm over Jack and Ryan’s shoulders, like the grown lad he was-.

Ryan chuckled, “Sure, Geoffrey.”

“Food sounds great, Geoffrey.” Jack chimed in.

“Didn’t I tell you guys not to call me that?” Geoff laughed his way down the hall, pulling Jack and Ryan along. “You guys too, come on!” He yelled for Ray and Joel to follow.

“We’ll catch up!” Joel waved them off before turning to Ray with an expecting look in his eyes.

Ray sighed and looked up at Joel, “What?”

Joel continued to stare expectantly, arms crossed and foot tapping.

“What!” Ray snapped. “What is it?”

“I’m waiting for you to fess up.” Joel crossed his arms. “I don’t know what just happened in there but you better start explaining.”

Ray scowled, “I just explained everything.”

“I thought we were passed this.” Joel shook his head. “Let me rephrase: I’m waiting for you to make some fucking sense. What the hell was that in there, Ray?”

“I don’t know what you want me to say.” Ray threw his hands up. “I’m happy! I get to leave! Everything is fine!”

“Who are you trying to convince with that bullshit?” Joel pointedly said. “Me or you?”

Despite the mask of happiness, Ray felt rage bubbling in his stomach that threatened to breakthrough. Just like before. He had burned through sadness and fear, all he had left was anger. But he knew better than to do that with Joel so, instead, he opened up a little. “Me! Okay!” He gave up the facade. “Is that what you want? You happy with yourself, huh? I’m trying to convince myself, Joel. Me!”

“Then why did you vote for Burnie’s stupid plan?!” Joel was starting to lose it too.

“Because he-!” Ray stopped, remembering his place. “It was just a better plan. One that everyone would vote for.” He became quiet, scared to slip up and reveal too much.

“Ray, why won’t you just tell me the truth?” Joel reached his hand out to cup Ray’s cheek, but the younger man avoided his touch.

“Because, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bad person, Joel. I use people. I lie. So, can we please just let this go? I know you can see through me. I can play Jack like a fucking fiddle, but I can’t get a single thing pass you. It’s scary how good you are at it. But, just for one fucking night, can we let this shit go? Please? I’m tired of this.”

“That’s not fair, Ray.” Joel grabbed Ray’s hand. “I can’t stand to see you like this. You always ignore your pain until it boils over. Then you cry it all out – and on me, no less - then you get destructive and hurt people, and after you’ve destroyed everything, you go back to your ignorance. You keep doing the same things! Over and over!”

Ray tried to pull his hand away but Joel’s hold was firm. “You don’t get to say that to me! I already opened up to you. I already told you about my” He hushed his voice to a whisper. “My panic attacks. You can’t expect me to tell you every little thing!”

Joel gave a sharp inhale like he was holding himself back from yelling, “I don’t want to argue with you.”

“What do you want then?!”

“You!” He paused, staring into Ray’s bewildered eyes before continuing. “I want you, Ray. The real you. When I said I wanted you to trust me, I meant it. Ever since I met you, you’re all I think about. Every fucking moment. And I know that’s insane, but I can’t help it. You may think you’re a bad person, but I can see that you’re not. I can feel that you’re not. I know it. I think you’re amazing and beautiful, and funny, and I l-”

“Stop!” Ray interrupted and tried pulling his hand away again, scared of the weighted words threatening to fall from Joel’s lips. “Don’t say it!”

But Joel had made up his mind. “And I like you, Ray. I like you so much. So, seeing you in pain like this hurts. I just want to help you.”

Ray bit the inside of his lip and went into rejection mode. He couldn’t let Joel fall for him right now. “No! You don’t even know me. You don’t know what I’ve done. We met three fucking days ago. You don’t like me. You like the idea of me.” All words that should have turned Joel away, but the Gent was persistent.

“All you need to like someone is a feeling, and I’ve had that feeling for you ever since we first met,” Joel spoke with a terrifying sincerity that breached Ray’s defenses.

The younger man couldn’t ignore the butterflies in his stomach. Of course, he was happy about Joel’s confession. He wasn’t stupid. Ray knew how easy it was to fall for someone. Before the meeting, he was acting like a blushing idiot around the Gent. Ray was also falling for the man, but unlike Joel, he knew it wasn’t the right time. “Not now.” Ray’s expression softened. “I can see that you’re serious, but not right now, please.”

“Then when?” Joel gently squeezed Ray’s hand.

“Just not now,” Ray squeezed back because it felt right. “I’m sorry. I just can’t now. I- We’ll talk on our day, okay? So let’s just go to dinner and enjoy the party for now.” Ray took a shallow breath, feeling panic creep up his back. “Please?”

Joel could see Ray. He could see Ray’s anxious eyes, his trembling fingers, the way his chest started fluctuating faster with short breaths. He could see the signs of panic, so no matter how much he wanted to push, he knew it was time to stop. He pulled Ray against his chest in a tight embrace, “Fine, but I’m holding you to that. We’ll talk on our day, but I’m not going to give in again. Next time something happens – next time you panic in a bathroom or run to me crying – you better tell me the truth, deal? No lies.”

Ray leaned into the hug, soaking up the unusual calming properties of Joel Heyman, “Fine. It’s a deal.”

“Do you want to sign a contract for that one too, or...?” Joel smirked, pulling far enough away to see the corners of Ray’s mouth turning upward at his jest.

“No,” Ray gave a small laugh. “Contracts are your thing, not mine, and-”

Joel interrupted Ray with a kiss. A long kiss that made Ray melt in the older man’s arms. It was the kind of kiss that made Ray close his eyes and think of nothing but Joel. The softness of Joel’s lips, the prickly mustache hairs tickling his upper lip, the delicate way his tongue dipped passed Ray’s lips. His strong hands at Ray’s waist, the warmth from his body, the sweet scent of his cologne. Fuck, Ray really liked this man. The way this kiss made him feel was proof of that.

When Joel pulled away, he smiled. “Sorry, your laugh was cute and couldn’t help myself.”

Ray blushed, “It’s fine.”

“Everyone’s probably waiting for us, so we should go,” Joel spoke but he didn’t let Ray go. Instead, he just stared longingly at the younger man’s lips like they were the only thing worth his attention. And Ray didn’t move either. He stared up at the Gent’s aroused gaze, and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t like it.

Fuck it,” Ray whispered before giving in to the moment and pulling Joel back into a kiss.

This kiss was full of passion and confidence. Gentle nibbles, mingling tongues, moans that disappeared in the others’ mouth, and breaks of breath that echoed in the empty hallway. Joel’s hands moved to cup Ray’s ass, and on instinct, Ray hopped up into Joel’s arms. He wrapped his slender legs around the older man’s waist and his arms around the back of his neck, and Joel didn’t miss a beat. The older man held Ray up by his thighs and moved to press him against the wall for more support.

As Ray’s back connected with the wall, Joel broke the kiss and moved to nibble up the side of Ray’s neck, stopping only to whisper in his ear, “You sure you don’t just want to respond now?” Joel’s voice was breathy against Ray’s ear, and the tingly sensation of his words brought a small moan out of the younger man.

“Respond to what, Joel?” Ray shot back with a challenging tone, knowing full well that Joel wanted a confession but refusing to give it. Instead, he gave him something else. Something dirtier. Ray leaned forward, pressing his forehead against Joel’s, “I can respond to a lot of things, Daddy. I can respond to way your hand is gripping my thigh hard enough to leave bruises. I can respond to the way you’re holding me here, in another man’s house, like I’m your own personal plaything. I can respond to the way your cock is twitching against me through the fabric of this sexy suit. Like it’s begging me to drop to my knees and suck until you tell me to stop.”

“Ray,” The way Joel’s eyes darted back and forth between Ray’s eyes and his lips told Ray everything he needed to know. He may not be able to lie to the Gent, but when it came to this, he had him wrapped around his finger.

“Or do you want me to respond to the way you’re looking at me right now?” Ray grinned, threading his fingers gently through Joel’s hair. “Like I belong to you. Like I only exist to have your dick in me. How about I respond to that?”

“Fuck, Ray, yo-”

“What?” Ray was starting to get off on this. “You gonna say that I’m trouble? You’ve said that before, Daddy, and the truth is that I am. But I can also be real good for you. I’m really good at following orders, Daddy. If you told me to, I would strip naked right here and bend over so you could fuck me into the wall, and I wouldn’t give a shit if someone saw us. I’d want them to watch. That’s how much of a little slut I am.”

Joel groaned, gripping tighter on Ray’s thighs and succumbing to Ray’s enticing words, “Whose little slut are you?”

Ray’s face went hot at Joel’s sudden participation. “I’m your little slut, Daddy.”

And, just like before, Ray saw something switch in Joel’s eyes. All the caution and hesitation that held him back was suddenly nowhere to be found, and all that was left was arousal. And it showed. Joel pressed Ray so tightly against the wall that he couldn’t move without Joel allowing it. Their lips collided again in a kiss that was leagues ahead of the others. Joel’s tongue lost its timidness. What sat in its place was domineering, demanding, and fearless. Ray wanted more of it. He wanted so much more. And he would have had it, too – if they were in this mansion alone.

“Yeah, they’re over here eating face.” It was Trevor’s voice as he and Gavin rounded the corner and entered the hallway.

Joel instantly broke the kiss, looking flustered and a bit aroused as he let Ray down. Technically, they didn’t do anything wrong. Kissing was allowed, but the look on Joel’s face, like he had been caught doing something more risque, pleased every fiber of Ray’s being. He gave the Gent a small smirk before turning towards their interruptions. “We were not eating face!” Ray said with a smile as he walked over to the other lads. “We were just exchanging a quick and innocent kiss.”

“So eating face?” Gavin said with a grin.

“Definitely eating face.” Trevor chuckled.

Ray laughed, “I stand by my previous statement.”

Joel joined the group, awkwardly adjusting his suit, “Sorry guys, did Geoff send you to get us?”

“You know he did!” Gavin complained. “Tina, Dan, and Meg are already here. Geoff said he wants to eat before the other guests arrive.”

“Okay, let’s go then,” Joel placed a hand on Gavin’s back and guided him out of the hallway, towards the dining room.

Trevor grabbed Ray’s hand and pulled him along as well. “You’re finally going to be able to chill with everyone, dude.”

That’s right. Ray hasn’t been able to chill in a while. He didn’t think today would be that day either, but somehow, despite being bested by Burnie, he didn’t feel as terrible as he thought he would. His panic wasn’t gone. If he focused on it for long enough, the twinge would undoubtedly rear its ugly head. But, in this moment, he felt fine. It was like Joel absorbed all his momentary sadness and threw it away. Maybe that meant he should try and have a little fun tonight. “Chill?” He shot a Trevor a sly look. “I want to party.”

Trevor mirrored Ray’s expression, “That can be arranged.”

~

The Ramsey estate’s dining room was huge. There was a long, probably custom, wooden table spanning the center of the room and enough chairs for twenty people, even though the table was set for fifteen. Geoff sat at the head of the table. On his left, there was Barbara, Lindsay, Michael, an empty chair for Gavin, Dan, Meg, and Tina. On his right, there was Ryan, Alfredo, an empty seat for Trevor, Jeremy, and three more empty seats. Joel took the one beside Jeremy, Ray in the next, and Jack in the last.

When everyone was seated, Geoff spoke, “Finally. Let’s start! The chef tells me they’ve got five courses back there.” With a snap of his fingers, maids flooded from the kitchen, carrying trays of the first course: small bowls of creamy potato soup.

As the soups were served, Ray couldn’t help but feel a little stifled. In front of him, Meg was sporting a pretty intense scowl. Joel’s hand was on his left leg, Jack’s hand was on his right, and Dan was making small talk that Ray couldn’t focus on because of the look Tina was giving him. She was probably peeved by the whole ‘taking Fiona on a night of fun’ thing.

“Do you like the soup, Ray?” Jack asked, snapping Ray from his thoughts.

Ray took a taste, “Yeah, it’s good.”

“Ray likes all kinds of creamy soups.” Joel dropped the innuendo with a slick grin that made heat rush to his face.

Jack nodded, “Oh really?” He looked to Tina, “You should have the maids take note of that.”

“Already done, sir,” Tina replied with a smile as she flashed her phone.

Meg smiled at Tina, “Wow, girl, you always do such a great job. Even now, on your off day. I bet your friends love how observant you are. Like, if something was wrong with one of them, you’d probably notice immediately.”

“Of course,” Tina shot a look at Ray. “I do my best to support my friends. I would never, say, interrupt them at work or something.”

Yikes. Ray thought as he cringed internally. This was turning out to be more than stifling. This shit was suffocating. He needed to start doling out apologies before he got crushed under the tense atmosphere. “That’s really admirable of you, Tina, but sometimes you have to remember that your friends are people who need fun.” He repeated what Fiona had told him. “And sometimes skipping work is fun.”

Tina scoffed at Ray’s words, “Fun is for your off days.”

“Don’t mind her, Ray,” Dan interjected, toning down the tension with a bit of lightheartedness. “I’ve been to a few of these things. Once she knocks back a few, Tina is the queen of fun.”

Jack laughed at Dan’s words, “Yeah, remember that time with Ryan’s jet ski?”

“And the fountain?” Meg’s scowl melted away as she remembered the Tina story, and before long, she was laughing too.

Tina blushed. It was the first time Ray has seen her flustered. “That was because Geoff roped me into that drinking game, and oh my god, the fountain statue is still tilted. Ryan won’t let me fix it!”

Joel laughed this time, “We should have a few of those tonight after the other guests leave.”

“A few of what?” Meg asked.

“Drinking games,” Joel smirked. “Could be fun.”

“I mean, Geoff doesn’t have jet skis but he does have those ATVs out back,” Jack added.

Ray was so wrapped up in their banter that he didn’t notice that most of the table finished their soups. Geoff called for the next course: a simple caesar salad. The group of maids from before came to collect the soup bowls and another group entered with the salads. Fiona was among this group.

“Hey dude,” Fiona whispered under her breath as she placed a salad in front of Ray.

Ray smiled at her, “Hey.” She made it. Just like she said she would.

“Fiona! You’re here too?” Trevor exclaimed, making Fiona and Ray flinch. “Geoff, you should let her sit and eat with us. She’s chill. Plus, she’s Ray’s friend.”

Yes, Trevor, dig my grave, Ray thought as he glanced up to find Tina glaring at him again.

“Sure, take a seat, Fiona.” Geoff gestured to the chair beside Tina.

Fiona bowed, “Yes, sir.” Then she awkwardly rounded the table and sat down, and despite the tension, Ray couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.

“What’s so funny, hm?” Joel asked with an endearing smile.

Ray covered his mouth, hiding his giggly smile, “I don’t know. Nothing and everything.”

“It’s nice to hear you laugh,” Joel said as he took a bite of his salad.

Ray’s face went hot, but not at Joel’s comment. It was the way he teased his hand against Ray’s inner thigh underneath the table. The way his finger rubbed soft circles against Ray’s knee. It was an innocent touch that Ray’s sex-fueled brain overemphasized, and he couldn’t do anything about it. Jack’s hand was still on his other knee, Meg and Tina were still dishing out glares, and they still had three other courses to get through. So, he focused on not making any obvious noises or faces as he ate his salad in silence.

“So, Fiona, are you a new hire?” Jack asked.

Fiona shifted awkwardly in her seat, uncomfortable by the maids – her coworkers – setting her place at the table and serving her food. “Yes, sir. I’m still completing my training.”

“Which estate are you stationed at?” Jack continued his small talk.

“Mr. Heyman’s estate.” She bowed her head at Joel.

“Wait, you’re the maid Ray kidnapped?!” Gavin was practically sitting in Dan’s lap with the way he leaned over to be a part of the conversation.

Ray laughed at Gavin’s outburst, “Kidnapped is such a strong word, Gav.”

“Wait, Joel, can she just have the night off?” Gavin clasped his hands together, playfully begging the Gent. “Blaine and Jon kept texting in the group chat about how fun she is,” Gavin added.

“Sure,” Joel shrugged. “As long as Tina doesn’t mind.”

Fiona gave Tina an apologetic look, and she sighed in response. “I don’t know. You already had a day of fun this week.”

Ray mimicked Gavin’s playful begging. “Please, Tina. I swear I won’t kidnap any other maids.”

Fiona piggybacked, “Yeah, and I swear I won’t ditch work ever again.”

Tina rolled her eyes, “Fine. One night, but you have to come in on your scheduled off day and cover another maid’s shift.”

“Yes!” Fiona smiled at her boss, “Thank you, Tina!”

“How was Vagabond, anyway?” Jeremy leaned forward to join the conversation. “I haven’t been yet.”

“Oh, Jeremy, my friend, Vagabond was an amazing experience! After Ray and ‘Fredo made up, they tried these fancy drinks with a bunch of whipped topping.” Trevor talked loud enough for the entire table to hear. “Wasn’t that fun, Ray?”

Ray nearly choked on a piece of lettuce. Was everyone at this table trying to make him lose it tonight? He squirmed in his seat as he replied, “Yeah!” Ray put up an innocent smile. “We ended up having a great time.” He started shoveling the remainder of his salad into his mouth, trying not to engage in any more of these dangerous conversations.

“Such a quick eater,” Jack commented with a smile.

Ray’s mind created the innuendo this time and, apparently, so did Joel’s with the way that stupid grin appeared on his face. So he pinched Joel’s arm under the table to keep him silent as he turned to respond to Jack, “Yeah, that’s me.” Ray spoke anxiously. “So, when’s the next course?”

“Now, it seems,” Jack said as Geoff summoned the third course: a small plate with three bite-sized, savory vegetable pastries.

“This is pretty cool,” Ray mentioned softly before scarfing down one of the pastries. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a multiple course meal. The guy before Burnie couldn’t afford something this nice, the guy before that guy just wanted sex, and the guy before him drank too much to enjoy the finer things. Even though Ray hated being here, he was also going to miss it here. It fucking sucked that Burnie ruined so much for him.

The remainder of dinner was fairly tame, except for the odd innuendo or two. The final courses were a steak and potatoes meal that reminded Ray of the first dinner he shared with Jack and Gavin, and a petite layered cake for dessert. When everyone finished eating, the maids collected the final plates and other guests started to arrive. But, as everyone else marched off to the lounge, Ray watched with intense eyes as Joel, Jack, Geoff, and Ryan mingled with the crowd of well-dressed men and women. Much to his surprise, many of the other guests were members of the Gent’s businesses, and Ray couldn’t help but see it as a sea of vulnerable targets. It was his instinct after all. He almost felt guilty for it.

“What are you staring at, Ray?” It was Fiona. She was the last to exit the dining room. “The others already headed to the lounge. We should go.”

“I’m just fantasizing about stealing from rich guys, you know me,” Ray said it like a joke, but deep down, he knew he was serious. “Are we not allowed to mingle here?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve never seen the Gents kick one of you guys out, but I wouldn’t try anything too touchy.”

“But aren’t you curious about how they’ll react?” Ray smiled mischievously. “Don’t you just want to test it?”

“Um, no. Are you trying to get me fired?” Fiona grabbed Ray’s arm and started dragging him away from the ballroom catering the business members. “Come on, dude.”

Ray pouted, “But Fi! Didn’t you see them? All those single, hot guys in there with money practically exploding from their pockets.”

“I did,” She giggled. “Just like you taught: designer suits and jewelry, but no wedding rings. One of them even had cat hair on the back of his suit jacket. Tells me he owns a cat that he doesn’t clean up after, and that lack of care extends to work events too. Like, yikes, am I right?”

“Damn,” Ray beamed, giggling along as they made their way down the hallway and the business party faded into the background. “I’m so fucking proud of you, Fiona. My first protege! You sure you don’t want to go snag at least one guy?”

“Dude, the Gents would probably lose it. And don’t even get me started on Tina!” Fiona threw her hands up, mimicking an explosion. “Besides, Gavin said this would be way more fun than that corporate sideshow.” She said with a grin as she pushed against a wall. It gave, opening like a door, revealing the Ramsey estate’s hidden game lounge.

“Just like the Gents to hide their dirty secret behind unsuspecting walls.” Ray scoffed with an incredulous smirk, recalling the secret door in Jack’s mansion.

Inside the lounge, the real party had already kicked off. Music was bumping throughout the space from a sound system that would overshadow even the most dedicated music lover’s setup. The room was cozy, yet spacious. With its low lights, plush lounge furniture, and beanbags so large they could swallow someone whole. Behind the bar, Barbara and Tina were giggling and mixing colorful drinks for Trevor and Alfredo, who decided to share a barstool despite the five empty ones to their side. Michael, Gavin, and Lindsay were similar in their public displays of affection. Micheal leaning back against the sofa with Lindsay close enough to whisper something so raunchy that the Jersey boy’s face flushed and Gavin on his knees in the space between Michael’s legs.

Ray averted his gaze, convinced that if he continued staring, he wouldn’t be able to look away. Across the from them, Meg and Dan were chatting, Meg in Dan’s lap, drinks nestled in their hands, and laughter bubbling from their natural chemistry. In another section of the room, Jeremy was smiling at someone Ray hasn’t seen before. He had long hair that Jeremy couldn’t seem to keep his hands out of and demure energy that Jeremy was soaking in.

“Is it just me,” Fiona leaned against Ray, whispering, “Or do you also feel like an intruder here?”

Ray laughed, whispering back, “Time for an advanced lesson, Fi. No matter how you feel inside, project confidence and you’ll belong anywhere. Come on, I need you for something.” Ray grabbed his timid friend’s hand and moved towards the couch where Meg and Dan sat.

Meg glared at Ray, much like she did at dinner, and Ray could feel the spite seething from her eyes. “What do you want?” Her words had a bite, and Ray expected nothing less.

“To talk,” Ray got straight to the point. “Dan, can we trade?” He held up Fiona’s hand with a smirk, gaining disbelieving expressions from both women.

“Sure,” Dan smiled, shooing a reluctant Meg off his lap and reaching a hand out to Fiona. “Come on then, I don’t bite.”

Fiona blushed, shooting Ray an embarrassed look, but getting a stifled laugh in return. “Why do you do these things?” She whispered to Ray under her breath before taking Dan’s hand and cautiously sitting on his lap.

Ray gestured towards an empty table, away from prying ears, “Sit with me?”

Meg sighed, “Fine, but make it quick.” She followed Ray to the table with a scowl, relentless in her passive anger.

“So, uh, I just wanted to apologize.” Ray started. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you like I did.”

“Yeah, you shouldn’t have.” Meg spat out, crossing her arms and leaning back in disinterest.

Despite the pressure, Ray continued, “Okay, look, I have panic attacks.” Somehow, Ray found it easier to say the second time. “It fucks me up and I do a bunch of shitty things to people who don’t deserve it. You didn’t deserve it. I’m sorry.”

Meg slowly exhaled, processing the apology, “Are you getting help?”

Ray blinked, taken aback by her question. “I mean, not really. I’ve got a handle on it.” A lie.

“What you went through was not you with a handle on it.” Meg relaxed, leaning forward with her elbows against the wooden table. “I’ve seen panic attacks before, Ray. Gavin’s had them too.”

“What?” Ray was shocked, glancing over at Gavin’s smiling face and being unconvinced by Meg’s words. “No way. Gavin, he’s-”

“Happy?” Meg offered. “Yeah. He is. He went to therapy for it, and they stopped.”

“What caused them?” Ray didn’t know if the question was insensitive or off-limits, but he wanted to know. He needed to know if it was anything like him because, if it was, it meant there was a way to stop them.

Meg sighed, “Some industry asshole took advantage of his film dreams. That’s what.”

Ray was floored. He couldn’t confirm it, but the look in Meg’s eyes was enough. Gavin may have gone through what Ray had gone through, but his smile and laughter remained earnest. His laughter was infectious and his affection was fearless, and Ray couldn’t help the envious feeling building in his gut. “How long did it take?”

“He was having them every day for a while,” Meg took a sip of her drink. “It was bad but, after speaking with Esther and setting up his first session, he learned so many coping methods that he just started to be Gav again. The attacks completely stopped after a month of daily sessions.”

“Fuck,” Ray breathed out, slouching against the back of the chair. And, for the first time, he really considered it. He considered therapy. “You think I’m that bad? Like I-need-therapy bad?”

“Well,” Meg pointed at Ray. “Right now, you seem totally fine. You seem relaxed and confident, but I’m afraid of how quickly that will all melt away in the face of a trigger. So honestly, yeah, I think you need it.”

Ray buried his face in his hands, “I hate that you think that. I hate that Esther thinks that. I hate it.”

“I know,” Meg slid her hand across the table and grabbed Ray’s hand away from his face. “I forgive you, Ray. I know I seemed really mad – I mean, I was a little bit – but it was just because of how scared I was for you. I haven’t seen a panic attack that bad since Gavin, and I just had this strong urge to help.”

Ray smiled, “Thanks, Meg.”

“I’ll support you, so chin up!” Meg’s bubbly personality finally made an appearance. “There aren’t any triggers here tonight, right?”

Ray looked around, and affirmed, “Right.”

“So let’s have fun in the now.” Meg squeezed Ray’s hand. “Tomorrow, I’ll drive you to Esther’s and we can figure it all out.”

And even though Ray’s reluctance was ever-present, he couldn’t resist Meg’s earnest attempts at help, so he nodded. “Okay, we can go and talk about it. No promises though.”

“That works for me.” Meg grinned, hopping up from her chair and wrapping her arms around Ray in a warm hug. “I’m glad we talked.”

“Me too,” Ray hugged back.

“You two make up?” It was Gavin, standing with a silly grin on his face, which was flushed from his alcoholic indulgence.

“Yeah, Gav,” Ray released Meg and stood to speak with his tipsy British friend. “We’re good now.”

Gavin smiled and pulled Ray’s face against his in a sloppy kiss that made Ray laugh, “I’m so happy lads! Meg was right scary at dinner, and you seemed so sad, but just like I said, everything’s top!”

Meg brought her hand up to pet Gavin’s hair, “Honey, you need a glass of water.”

“No, I don’t.” Gavin pouted, but Meg dragged him over to the bar anyway, screaming for Barbara to get this Brit some moisture.

Ray glanced around again. Everyone was still in their own worlds. Even Fiona, who, surprisingly enough, got a drink in the time it took Ray to apologize and was now saying things to Dan that made him blush. This must be why Blaine and Jon won’t shut up about her, Ray thought with a proud smirk on his face. Then his eyes flickered back to Michael, who was staring at him with welcoming eyes and gestured for Ray to join him. To which, he obliged.

Ray plopped down on the sofa beside Michael, “Hey.”

“Hey,” Michael smiled. “We finally get a chance to talk.”

Ray shrugged apologetically. “Yeah, sorry, by the way – for ditching lunch.”

“It’s cool, dude, don’t worry about it. Michael bumped his shoulder against Lindsay’s. “This is Linds.”

“Hi Ray,” Lindsay smile reminded Ray of Meg’s, very high energy and approachable. “Nice to finally meet you, man.”

“Likewise,” Ray grinned.

“But, let’s cut the shit,” Lindsay leaned across Michael. “I hear you and Joel got a bit rule break-y earlier.” She said with a sly grin and a raised brow. “You find out anything about the kink-less one?”

Ray’s eyes widened at the question, “Um, what?” He looked to Michael for answers.

“I may have told her – and I did say I can neither confirm nor deny – that you and Joel did a little something this morning.” Michael’s lip quivered like he was holding back a laugh.

“Dude!” Ray playfully pushed Michael’s shoulder. “Fine, Linds, I’ll play ball,” Ray leaned in, whispering, “Not saying we did this or anything, but Joel has expressed great interest in watching me eat cum. But, as you know, we haven’t done anything, so no rules have been broken.”

Lindsay snickered, “Interesting, interesting, what other kinks have you two discussed and not at all participated in?”

“Are you guys over here talking about kinks without us?” Trevor was suddenly leaning in from the back of the couch, Alfredo was at his side. “I’m offended!” He feigned a look of shock.

“Ray’s just giving us details about the mysterious and allusive Joel Heyman,” Michael said as he gestured for Ray to continue.

“I shouldn’t say,” Ray threw his hands up, trying not to be the center of attention.

“Then, we should just talk about you, dude.” Trevor gave a mischievous grin and waved over to Gavin, “Gav! Gavin! Get over here!”

“What?!” Gavin said as he bounded over from the bar. “Where’s the fire, lad?”

Trevor pointed at Ray, “Share with the group. How good is Ray in bed?”

“Trevor!” Lindsay exclaimed with an excited look on her face.

“What?” Trevor shrugged. “I’m interested.”

“I reckon Ray knows his way around a knob!” Gavin eagerly screamed, gaining the attention of the whole lounge.

Michael starting laughing, “Gav, this is supposed to be a secret, on-the-down-low conversation.”

“Oh, sorry boi,” Gavin got quiet, leaning in as well. “Ray has top tier technique. He can hold back his orgasms, and he has the biggest potty mouth, oh my god.”

Ray blushed, “You make me sound better than I am, dude.”

“It’s the truth!” Trevor exclaimed, making the group turn to him. “Wait, not that Ray and I fucked or anything, but I’ve heard some of that potty mouth and Gavin doesn’t lie. Oh my god is right.”

“When did you hear it, Trev?” Lindsay asked. “What’s it like?”

Alfredo chimed in, “Ray just knows what to say.”

“Yeah, he was all like: ‘you like this that much? You little slut.’” Trevor mimicked Ray from his time at Vagabond, making the young Puerto Rican bury his face in his hands for the second time tonight.

“Ray said that?!” Michael laughed. “What was the context? I need details.”

“Let’s just say Ray knows his way around a whip,” Alfredo said with a sly smirk.

Lindsay tapped Ray’s shoulder, “Ray, you don’t have to be embarrassed or feel bad. We’re allowed to fuck each other, just not other Gents.”

“Wait? Really?” Ray glanced up in honest surprise that probably made him look too eager, especially with the way Michael grinned at him.

“Ray’s trying to fuck everyone,” Trevor joked. “I’m calling it.”

“Okay, I am not trying to fuck everyone,” Ray said bashfully.

“Who do you want to fuck, Ray?” Michael asked. “Who in this room?”

“Or be fucked by?” Alfredo added. “Equal opportunities and all that.”

Ray blushed, feeling uncomfortable as the center of attention but not minding it as much as he thought he would. “You, Michael, especially after this morning.”

“Something happened with you this morning too!” Lindsay shook Michael’s shoulder. “Why am I just hearing about this now?”

“Because it’s embarrassing, damn,” Michael smiled. “Joel was all worked up after Ray yelled at him, and sort of let out some anger in the form of rough sex. No big deal.”

“You yelled at Joel?” Trevor asked.

“Yeah,” Ray shamefully admitted. “Before I kidnapped Fi and somehow ended up at Vagabond.”

“Dude,” Gavin leaned in. “That must have been so hot!”

“What?” Ray laughed at Gavin’s drunken comment.

“When Ray was with me and Jack,” Gavin explained. “He basically had Jack under a Ray spell.”

“A Ray spell?” Trevor patted Gavin’s back, egging him on. “Go on. Explain what that means.”

“It means he’s all like: ‘Jack, look at me, don’t look at him. Tell me how beautiful I look, Jack.’ Completely demanding Jack’s attention while fucking me. An absolute fiend, his is.” Gavin’s recount made it sound way worse than Ray remembered it.

“I’m going to deny these allegations,” Ray joked.

Gavin looked dumbfounded, “No way, Ray! I’ll prove it! Come here!” He said as he jumped over the couch, jostling Michael and Lindsay, and straddling Ray.

“Gav!” Ray giggled. “No way I’m going to talk like that right now.”

“Oh come on!” Gavin started dry humping Ray, pulling the attention of the room towards the sight. “Tell me to stop Ray-style.” He whispered as he continued rutting against Ray’s dick, making it stiffen.

“Meg!” Lindsay called over the bar. “Gavin’s drunk!”

“I know, girl!” Meg called back with a laugh as she clinked glasses with Tina and Barbara and enjoyed the show.

“Looks like you’re alone on this one, Ray,” Trevor laughed. “Do what you must. We won’t judge.”

Ray couldn’t pretend. He was distinctly aware of Gavin’s rock hard erection rubbing against him. He was deathly aware of Lindsay and Michael’s eyes on him. He could feel Trevor and Alfredo’s gazes. He knew the girls were within earshot, and Fiona and Dan were viewing from across the coffee table. He knew Jeremy and his friend were staring. He knew all that, but the friction still pulled forward his sex-fueled counterpart. And damn it, that was embarrassing, but fuck it, he couldn’t resist. “Fine.” Ray gave in, reaching a hand up to grab a fist full of Gavin’s hair before hooking his leg and flipping their bodies. In one motion, Ray pinned Gavin against the couch.

Ow. Ow. Ow!” Gavin exclaimed, reaching for Ray’s hand on his hair. “My hair, Ray!”

“You said you wanted this.” Ray tightened his grip. “You started humping me like an animal in heat.” Ray tuned out his audience, instead, he focused on Gavin’s struggling. “That means you don’t get to complain. It means you get to sit here while I humiliate you.”

Chapter Text

Gavin was practically mewling. His shirt splayed opened and his bottom half completely bare to the cool air of the lounge and the many eyes of its game members. Ray, being the talented little shit he was, had his hand firmly wrapped around Gavin’s length and was pumping slow – but not too slow. No, Ray wanted to tease and humiliate the young Brit. So he would speed his pace until Gavin’s cock was dripping pre-cum and the words spilling from his mouth were incoherent, then he would stop. And Gavin, being the screamer Ray knew him to be, would just be fucking begging Ray to let him cum. He tried touching himself too, but Ray didn’t let him. Instead, Ray asked Alfredo and Trevor to hold his wrists, and they readily obliged.

“Ray!” Gavin screamed, his hips desperately jerking up into Ray’s hand. “Please, Ray!”

“Please what? Hm, Gavin?” Ray smirked, enjoying the Brit’s frantic display of arousal but removing his hand anyway – just to watch him squirm.

Gavin choked back a cry and squeezed his eyes shut, falling into a pleasure high mantra, “Let me cum, let me cum, let me cum.” He was utterly sloppy and lost somewhere on an edge that Ray was determined to keep him on.

Ray grabbed Gavin’s length again, causing a tremble to run through the Brit’s legs as he gently rubbed at the tip. “Poor Gavin, you can’t even think anymore, hm?” Ray scoffed with a smirk dancing on his lips as he lowered his face to be in line with his prey’s beading erection. “Look at this thing. How can you be so hard?” Ray leaned forward, licking the shaft from base to tip and making a screaming moan rip from Gavin’s mouth.

From his place beside Gavin, Michael let out a stunned gasp and whispered a low, “Fucking hell, Ray.”

Out the corner of his eye, Ray could see Michael’s hand underneath Lindsay’s skirt and he could see Lindsay’swarm face silently twisting just like Gavin’s. Ray licked his lips, “Gavin, look, Michael’s watching you.”

Gavin’s eyes fluttered open but his gaze was overcast by his fervor. “Micoo,” He pleadingly moaned his best friend’s moniker. “Micoo, I need to come, help me come.”

Ray suddenly gripped Gavin’s cock and started stroking so fast that the Brit’s whole body tensed. “You’re asking the wrong person, Gav, remember whose hands you’re in.” Ray teased, carefully continuing his ministrations.

“Fuck!” Gavin screamed, his feet digging into the floor and his body arching away from the couch. “Ray, don’t stop, I’ll cum...I’m-!”

But, again, Ray stopped just before the Brit could obtain that final pleasure. And the pitiful sounds that spilled from Gavin’s mouth were high pitched and carnal and tired but endlessly erotic. And the way his eyes went wide and the way he pulled against Alfredo and Trevor’s hold was so fucking hot that Ray almost considered giving in and rewarding him, but he wasn’t finished. Not just yet. “You’re so loud, Gav,” Ray flicked his tongue against the tip of Gavin’s cock, forcing a loud groan out of the Brit’s drooling mouth.

Ray,” It was the only thing Gavin could manage to say as his body jerked up at the small sensation with intense yearning. So Ray pushed again, wrapping his hand around the shaft and keeping it there, sure that if he moved it even a little, the Brit would cum.

“Fuck, Ray! Please! Fucking, please! Please, make me cum. I’ll do anything, fuck!” Gavin starting trembling harder and moaning louder than before, and holy shit, did it go to Ray’s pants.

“Not yet, Gavin,” Ray squeezed his hand, wrenching a strained moan from the Brit. “I’m having too much fun. Besides, this is what you asked for.” Ray glanced up at Alfredo and Trevor, “Isn’t this what he asked for, guys?”

Alfredo’s face flushed at Ray’s question and he looked at him with docile eyes. “Yes, sir.” His voice was low, and his obedient words caught Ray off-guard.

Trevor raised a brow at Alfredo’s answer, but upon seeing his friend’s submissive expression, he smirked at Ray with a gleam of agreement in his eyes, “Yes, it is what he asked for, sir.” Trevor mischievously spoke, “If I want the same, do I have to ask too?”

Ray’s face went warm at the sound of Trevor’s flirting. It was sexy and tempting and sent Ray’s mind on a journey of fantasies with Alfredo and Trevor beneath him. It threw him off, but he tried to remain in his dominant role, not wanting to break the moment for the writhing Brit in his hands. So, Ray put on a confident smirk and said, “You’d have to do more than just ask.” And when Trevor blushed, Ray knew he had won.

The young Puerto Rican turned his focus back on the Brit and relentlessly edged him. Bringing Gavin so close to orgasm that he couldn’t control his body or his mouth, but then pulling away and leaving his cock pulsating and begging for relief. Ray did it again and again and again for minutes that Gavin probably experienced as hours.

Gavin weakly dropped his head against the back of the couch, “Ray, I can’t anymore.” His voice was hoarse, his body was glistening with sweat, and his face was light red. With one look at Gavin’s eyes, Ray could see how far gone he was.

“You can do it, honey,” It was Meg, who was suddenly at Gavin’s side, opposite of Michael. Ray was so wrapped up in toying with the Brit, he didn’t even notice her move from her place at the bar. “You look so beautiful like this, Gavin.” Her voice was sweet and it made Gavin’s cock twitch in Ray’s hand – and, if Ray was honest, it did the same thing to him. She was looking at Gavin with ravenous eyes that made Ray think she came over just to watch Gavin’s unfolding up close. It was hot.

“Meg,” Gavin whined her name through a hitched breath.

“What is it, baby?” Meg whispered, reaching her hand out to twirl Gavin’s nipple between her fingers, causing the Brit to groan and making Ray’s eyebrows shoot up. She said that like it was second nature, and Ray could tell by Gavin’s reaction that Meg had done that before.

“Meg, I want to come.” Gavin was squirming, his wrist likely bruising where Alfredo and Trevor held.

Meg smiled and pinched his nipple harder, pulling a sharp cry from the man, “Didn’t you hear what Ray said before?” She brought her lips against Gavin’s ear. “Remember whose hands you’re in, baby.” Ray smiled at Meg’s words and increased his pace again. His palms carefully skimming across the sensitive veins and his thumb rubbing against the leaking head.

Ah! Ray, please!” Gavin exclaimed as Ray sped up again. “It’s too much, it’s too much, Ray, I’ll cum, I’ll cum!” Gavin’s begging was doing amazing things to Ray, so despite the Brit’s clear discomfort, Ray slowed his hands to an agonizing halt.

Michael, Lindsay, Trevor, Alfredo, and Meg, in unison, breathed a resoundingly surprised, “Fuck.” All taken aback by Ray’s lack of mercy.

Ray!” Gavin screamed. “Fuck, please. I need it, Ray! I need it! Please, let me cum. Please, please, please, please,” Gavin’s voice was rough as he pulled harder at the restraining hands on his wrists.

Ray smirked, thoroughly pleased with the other man’s thrashing, “Okay, okay, Gav. I hear you. How’s this?” The young Puerto lightly wrapped his palm around Gavin’s leaky cock, just barely making contact yet pulling delectable sounds from the Brit. “If you can keep quiet for one minute, I’ll let you cum. Sound fair?”

Gavin’s eyes shot open at Ray’s proposal, his breath catching, “Yes, yes! I’ll be quiet. I can be quiet.”

Ray smiled at the way Gavin sucked in a sharp breath and kept it there as he fought the pleasure. It was quite a sight. In his silence, Gavin’s body took the lead; trembling, squirming, spasming. All in a desperate silent display of euphoria that Ray delivered with each flick of his wrist. And, as the minute ticked away, the game members watched with wide eyes as the Brit violently and breathlessly pushed at the urge to scream with everything he had.

Ray smiled as the minute ended, and whispered a soft, “You can cum.”

Gavin was reeling, his voice drooling out of him in his quick approach to ecstasy. And this time Ray allowed it. He allowed the cum to ooze from Gavin’s cock. He allowed Alfredo and Trevor to release his wrists. He allowed the orgasmic gasps and moans and whimpers to fall from his mouth. He allowed the Brit’s body to thrust up as much as he needed to make it through the burning satisfaction. And damn, Ray knew he had skills, but even he was surprised by the sheer delirium running through Gavin in this moment. It took him what felt like ages to come down from the high, and Ray gently stroked him through it.

Gavin whined, “Fuck.

Meg pressed kisses against the side of Gavin’s tired face. “You’re okay, hon, you’re okay.” She was helping him down too, pulling his head against her chest and gingerly petting his hair. “Don’t forget to thank Ray, babe.”

Gavin’s tired eyes met Ray’s and he smiled, “Thanks, Ray. It felt really good. So fucking good.”

Ray’s face went hot. “Yeah, you’re welcome, Gav,” He said as he eased his now sticky hand off of Gavin and leaned back to sit against the edge of the coffee table.

It was silent for a moment as Meg guided Gavin to one of the giant beanbags to cuddle the sexual haze away. Ray almost felt guilty for doing it. He hasn’t pulled out those skills in a while. They were dangerous sometimes. Men would get addicted to him if he did things like that. So why did he do it to Gavin? Ray had no clue. Maybe he was too wrapped up in his moment of panic-less bliss. A moment of feeling like himself. A moment of sexual enjoyment despite his trauma. It was thrilling. So maybe that was it. Maybe.

“I call next!” Trevor joked with a smile, “Like, damn Ray, you weren’t kidding when you said you wanted to party.”

Ray shrugged with a smirk, holding his cum covered hand in front of him, “I guess I wasn’t.”

Michael leaned forward, pulling his hand away from Lindsay’s skirt and motioning for Ray to sit in front of him. “Come here, Ray.”

Ray gave Michael a skeptical grin, but obliged anyway, scooting against the table to sit in front of him.“Yeah?”

The Jersey kid didn’t say anything in return. Instead, he just grabbed Ray’s hand and brought it to his mouth, wrapping his lips around Ray’s middle finger and sucking the cum off with an audible pop! He took Ray’s ring finger and did the same. His slippery tongue dipping in the space between Ray’s fingers and lapping up the cum on Ray’s palm. The sensation made Ray’s dick stiffen even further.

“You’re making Ray hard, Michael.” Lindsay whispered against Michael’s face, before locking eyes with Ray, “Or maybe I should say harder?”

Ray laughed, “Harder, definitely harder,” He rubbed his fingers against Michael’s soft lips before pulling away.

“You wouldn’t be the only one,” Trevor chimed in, prompting Ray to take in his surroundings for the first time after being so lost in Gavin’s everything.

Behind the couch, at the bar, Tina and Barbara were still drinking and chatting as if nothing happened. It made Ray wonder how frequently things turned sexual during these parties. Behind him, Fiona and Dan had finished their drinks and were still sitting on the opposing couch – well, they were doing more than sitting. Fiona had her legs across Dan’s lap and she was pressing kisses against his neck. And Ray couldn’t tell for sure, but judging by Dan’s face, Fiona’s hand was probably on his dick. Behind them, at the tables, Jeremy and his friend were definitely doing something under the table, though Ray couldn’t tell what.

“Is it always like this?” Ray gave a disbelieving laugh.

“Pretty much.” Michael shrugged, “Just until the Gents are done with their work event though.”

“What happens after that?” Ray asked, shifting awkwardly to ease the pressure on his erection.

Alfredo leaned against the couch, “We all get super drunk and have a big ol’ orgy.”

Ray’s eyes went wide at Alfredo’s words, and Trevor couldn’t help but laugh. “No, we don’t! But you totally believed that, didn’t you? Oh my god!” Trevor and Alfredo giggled together, much like they always do.

“I mean, this is practically an orgy already.” Ray rolled his eyes with a smirk.

Lindsay scoffed with a grin on her face. “This is nothing. We aren’t even in our final form.”

“Agreed,” Michael laughed, “We’d need more bevs for that though.”

“I second that,” Lindsay said as she jumped up from the couch, pulling at Michael’s jacket to get him to follow her to the bar.

Ray sighed. Watching them go was frustrating – sexually frustrating. How was Michael going to suck on his fingers like that and just walk away? It wasn’t fair.

“What’s wrong, Ray?” Trevor smiled, hopping over the couch to take Michael’s place. “You look a bit tense.” He pressed his finger against Ray’s furrowed brow. “How can I help?”

Ray smirked, “Like you don’t know.”

“Oh, I know,” Trevor leaned forward, putting his face only inches from Ray’s. “I’d just love to hear you ask for it.”

“Of course you would,” Ray grinned, trying to project calmness despite his attention-demanding boner. “And I bet you want to do it here too, right?”

Trevor nodded as he slid off the couch and sat in the space between Ray’s legs, “Yeah, Ray. Watching is a thrill, but being watched takes the cake.” His hands started traveling up Ray’s legs. “Don’t you think?”

“Being watched once may be my limit.” Ray joked, but his stomach felt light as Trevor’s hands traced their way up to his zipper. It was exciting to watch him there. Ready and willing to pleasure Ray despite the room of people. “But I guess, yeah, whatever. If no one cares, then yeah.”

“It’s so easy to tempt you,” Trevor giggled, popping open the button on Ray’s pants.

Ray shrugged, “I mean, yolo, right?”

Alfredo rounded the couch, “Are you guys really about to leave me out of this? Really?”

“Yes, ‘Fredo, you had your turn!” Trevor shooed his partner in crime away. “Go drink with the others.”

Alfredo crossed his arms and turned back to the bar, “Whatever. I’ll just get some later.” He spoke with a certainty that left Ray wondering what kind of things would happen later.

“Why do all you guys speak in fucking riddles?” Ray joked, placing a hand atop Trevor’s head and running it from his forehead to the nape of his neck.

“Alfredo is just joking.” Trevor maintained his chill aura. “We really aren’t sex-crazed, I promise.”

“Says the guy on his knees,” Ray smiled, watching with secret excitement as Trevor’s hands worked his zipper down.

“You shouldn’t make fun of a guy that’s about to have your dick in his mouth.” Trevor playfully smiled, finally pulling Ray’s length from its confines.

Ray’s breath hitched as his erection hit the open air, “Sure, sure,” He whispered, trying to ignore the glancing eyes from the bar. “Talk to me when we actually get to the dick in mouth part.”

Trevor grinned as he dropped his lips against Ray’s length, pulling a groan from the young Puerto Rican. He was skilled – probably just as much as Ray – but it was to be expected. He has been in the game since the beginning, so Ray could only assume that’s where he got them.

Trevor worked his tongue in gentle circles around the head of Ray’s length. It was methodical and gave Ray a heady feeling that swarmed his whole body. Then he bobbed his head further downward, taking inch by inch Ray’s cock. It was tingly and wet and gratifying, but it was also too slow. If Ray was going to get off on this, he needed more. “No more teasing, Trev.” He whispered.

Trevor hummed and dropped his head down, taking Ray’s cock to the back of his throat. Ray groaned at the sensation. His hands pulling against Trevor’s head for a faster pace, relishing in the feeling of Trevor’s pliant mouth. But it still wasn’t enough. Ray needed more. He needed something else.

“Looks like the kids are playing, Joel.”

Ray’s head snapped to the sound. It was Ryan’s voice as he entered the lounge with Joel at his side. Their presence made Ray’s body tense and his face flush, and if he wasn’t enjoying himself so much, he would’ve pushed Trevor away in his embarrassment. Trevor didn’t seem as phased. His mouth still energetically working around Ray’s cock.

“I see that,” Joel’s voice was a rush to Ray. Something about it made his cock get harder and start to drip, pre-cum mixing with the warm of Trevor’s mouth.

The men commanded the attention of the entire room. Jeremy and Michael instantly moved to greet Joel, Tina made them drinks, and Alfredo all but jumped in Ryan’s arms for a kiss. Like moths to a flame. Ray rolled his eyes at the sight, choosing to dip his head back, focus on the ceiling, and try to enjoy Trevor’s work.

Trevor popped off Ray’s erection with a smile, “Do you like it more with them here?”

“What-?” Ray breathed as Trevor wrapped both hands on his length and gently twisted his hands.

“You got harder when they got here,” Trevor whispered as he stuck out his tongue and rubbed the head of Ray’s length against it while moving his wrists.

Ray placed a hand on Trevor’s head, “No, shut up. Don’t stop.”

“Whatever you say,” Trevor smirked, dropping his mouth back around Ray’s cock, pulling a soft groan from the young Puerto Rican at the return of the dull pleasure.

Ray just needed to focus on coming. Focus on the suction of Trevor’s hallowed cheeks. Focus on the warmth and the slick sensations. Focus on the hummed vibrations. When that didn’t work, his mind traveled to Jack fucking him from behind, whipping Alfredo, humiliating Gavin, Michael licking his fingers clean. Anything! But still, it just wasn’t enough. “Fuck,” Ray mumbled, realizing very quickly what – or, rather, who – he had to focus on to get off.

Ray lifted his head, gazing towards the bar, where Joel was chatting and laughing like Ray didn’t exist. It was annoying, but Ray didn’t know if it was annoying to be ignored or if it was annoying that his arousal sparked to life at the sight of his favorite Gent. Just the thought of Joel looking in his direction did things to the pleasure coiling at his core. And, against Ray’s will, a sweet moan fell from his lips. It was embarrassing, to say the least, but it rewarded him with something that made his dick go painfully hard: Joel’s gaze.

“Joel,” Ray silently mouthed, his eyes undoubtedly clouded in some perverted haze. And when the older man turned in his barstool to focus entirely on Ray, the young Puerto Rican felt a wave of sharp pleasure run up his spine. He was trying not to lose it, but his voice betrayed him. Underneath Joel’s eyes, all of Trevor’s moments became louder and more intense, and so did Ray’s voice. A high pitched moan slipped through his lips, and although it pulled more attention his way, he kept his eyes trained on Joel.

The Gent just smiled, sipping his drink and watching Ray fall apart in front of everyone. He watched as Ray’s hips jerked upward and his hands clutched the edge of the table. He watched as Ray’s chest fluctuated in breathy pants and sweat beaded on his forehead. He watched because Ray was watching him. He watched Ray get off to being watched.

“You sound like you’re having fun, Ray,” Ryan spoke, breaking Ray’s focus. “And Trevor’s being really good for you right now, isn’t he?” He sauntered over from the bar, drink in hand and eyes filled with his signature dominant gaze. As he moved to sit on the couch, Ray grinned.

“Yeah, he is. You should reward him for it later.” Ray’s words made Trevor whine around his cock.

“Maybe I will,” Ryan smirked. “But he better work harder to make you cum, or he won’t get anything.”

Trevor flinched at Ryan’s threat and began bobbing his head faster. Ray flinched too, but not at Trevor’s pace. No, that was something he could handle. Ray flinched at Joel rounding the couch and sitting next to Ryan. Suddenly, Ray was being watched by both Gents. It was a heady kind of pleasure that made Ray understand what Trevor said about how being watched takes the fucking cake.

Fuck,” Ray moaned out, his eyes flashing between Joel and Ryan. “I want to cum, fuck, I need it.”

“Go ahead and cum, Ray,” Ryan flashed Ray a smug grin as if his permission would be all Ray needed to get off.

But that didn’t do it for Ray.

Ray kept his eyes trained on Joel, “Please.” The young Puerto Rican knew what he was doing. Not only was he undermining the power of the most domineering Gent, but he was also putting his orgasm in Joel’s hands. Two things that he didn’t intend to do tonight, but damn, it felt good when Joel smiled at him.

“You can cum,” Joel’s voice was low and paired with a look of satisfaction that threw Ray into climax.

Ray’s mouth parted with a raspy moan, his eyes rolling upwards and drool slipping off his bottom lip as he came. Hips thrusting upwards into Trevor’s mouth and eyes locked on his favorite Gent, Ray welcomed each tingling wave of orgasm, shooting strings of warmth deep inside Trevor’s throat.

Trevor eagerly swallowed it all and waited for Ray to calm down with his mouth still wrapped around his cock. As Ray’s pleasure tension eased, Trevor glided away, lapping at the last remnants of cum dribbling from the head before looking up at Ray with a smile. “Ray, tell Ryan that it felt good.”

Ray smirked, trying to maintain his confidence despite his flushed cheeks, “Why?”

“Because he won’t get anything unless you do.” Ryan chimed in with a devious smile.

Ray rolled his eyes and tucked himself back into his pants. “It felt good, Ryan. Don’t be mean to Trevor.”

“Good boy,” Ryan said, pulling an even redder tint to Ray’s cheeks.

Ray dropped his face into his hands and mumbled, “Whatever.”

“You don’t have to be embarrassed, Ray,” Joel commented. “It’s okay.”

“Or you can be,” Ryan interjected. “I think it’s adorable.”

“You guys should have been here earlier for Ray’s dom show,” Trevor giggled, leaning his head against Ryan’s lap. “You wouldn’t be calling him adorable if you saw that.”

Ryan’s interest was clearly piqued, “Does that explain Gav?” He pointed to the sleeping Brit curled against a beanbag.

“Yeah, Ray’s got skills,” Trevor smirked, and Ryan mirrored it.

“I bet he does,” Ryan took a swig of his drink.

The next people to enter the lounge were Geoff and Jack, both already pretty tipsy and laughing as old friends would. Their work event must have ended well because Geoff seemed ecstatic about a new partnership that would probably lead to a buyout. Ryan laughed about it being easy to absorb companies these days. Jack felt bad, but Joel said that’s just business. The conversation was so painfully casual, and it served as an even greater reminder of the sheer power held by their conglomerate.

“Joel!” Geoff placed a hand against Joel’s shoulder from behind the couch. “You still want to play that drinking game?”

“Yeah, grab a bottle,” Joel smirked.

Geoff and Tina grabbed several bottles of alcohol – flavored vodkas, cinnamon whiskeys, and the like – and beckoned everyone to circle the coffee table. Ray sat in the space between Ryan and Joel on the couch as Trevor hopped in Ryan’s lap. Across the table, Meg, Dan, and Fiona filled the other couch. Geoff and Jack took seats in the opposing armchairs at the ends of the table. While Lindsay, Michael, and Alfredo plopped down on the floor, Barbara and Tina slid over bar stools to join the group. Jeremy and his friend were the last to join, taking space on the floor as well.

“Okay, here’s the game,” Geoff began. “Truth or Drink. That’s it, that’s the game.”

Joel laughed, “We always play that.”

“You got any better ideas?” Geoff complained.

“I’ve got one!” Fiona interjected but immediately recoiled in embarrassment. “Actually, never mind, sorry for interrupting you, sir.”

“No,” Ryan motioned for her to continue. “What did you have in mind?”

Fiona looked to Ray, probably to find some comfort under the pressure of speaking to her bosses so casually. “Well, there’s this drinking game in Japan called King’s Game. We write numbers on straws, leaving one blank for the king, and draw them from a cup. Whoever pulls the king straw can order any two numbers to do whatever they want. It’s fun because the king doesn’t know who has what number.”

“I like this girl, Tina,” Geoff clapped his hands together. “You can send her my way any time.”

Tina smiled, clearly a bit buzzed, “All the maids I send to you say you ask for way too much stuff.”

Fiona gasped, surprised by her boss’s brutal honesty, “Tina!”

But Geoff just laughed in response, “What’s the point of a little cash if you can’t ask for the things you want?”

“I think the limit should be at: golden jet.” Jack joked.

“Hey!” Geoff put his hands up in surrender. “Everyone loves that thing. Right guys?” He surveyed the room and got a lot of sarcastic nods that made Ray giggle. Ray was starting to see what kind of man Geoff was, which was good, considering he would belong to him tomorrow.

“Anyways!” Jack spoke. “We should start. Fiona, could you prep the game for us?”

Fiona nodded, “Sure, all I need is a pen, some straws, and a cup.”

“Already on it,” Barbara said as she stood from her seat and rounded the bar to prep the game.

“What would we do without you, Barb?” Ryan smiled at her.

Barbara snickered, “Probably anyone else in this room.”

The room collectively groaned at her pun but laughed nonetheless. Ray couldn’t believe how relaxed everyone was despite the obscene sex show he just put on. Everything was business as usual and that was kind of crazy to think about. “Joel,” Ray whispered, lightly pulling at the older man’s sleeve. “Is this how it normally is?”

“Kind of,” Joel whispered back, his arm wrapping around Ray’s shoulders like it was second nature. “Why? You don’t like it?”

Ray shook his head, “No, that’s not it. It’s fine. A little embarrassing but fine. I was just surprised.”

“You and me both,” Joel leaned his face so close to Ray’s that his breath tickled the inside of Ray’s ear and no one could possibly hear what he said next. “That was so unfair, baby. Making me watch you like that.”

Ray’s eyes shot open in surprise. He didn’t expect Joel to flirt with him here with Jack so close, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t like it. So, he brought his face just as close and whispered, “Sorry, Daddy. I’ve been so bad. Are you going to punish me now?” Ray smirked as Joel’s face flushed.

“What are you two whispering about?” Ryan interrupted.

“Nothing,” Ray dismissed the conversation altogether.

Ryan rolled his eyes, “Sure, sure, I’ll believe that for now.”

Geoff clasped his hands together as Barbara approached the group with a cup filled with white straws. “Alright! Enough dicking around. Time to get fucked up.”