Loren walked over to the far end of the living room and tossed the dirtied bit of cellophane onto the floor. It landed atop a small pile of tools.
The stack was not very high: Loren had seen no point in trying to test the limits of a man who could turn a bullet hole in his leg into an S&M session. Indeed, this was a night when the atmosphere was potent enough that Loren could have accomplished his work without props. But the props were necessary, for Ken's sake. Every tightening of a screw, every jerk of a rope, every scrape of a file told Ken, "Whatever you think of doing to yourself, I can do better."
Whether or not his own skills at S&M exceeded Ken's, Loren knew that the very fact that another person was doing this to him was exciting to the em. Loren had evidence enough of that from Ken's reaction. So Act One of the drama was now completed: the establishment of Loren as the director of Ken's stage movements. Now came an equally important act: a lesson in the power of imagination.
"I'm going to open the curtains, boy."
He looked over his shoulder to see how Ken would react to this statement. The em was where Loren had left him, with his torso lying stomach-down across the dining room table. The table, carefully selected to be groin-level for Loren, was far too low for Ken: the em had been forced to spread his legs wide in order to keep his feet on the ground, as his master-of-the-night had ordered. He was lying across the short portion of the table, so that his head half hung over the end. His hands gripped the edge of the table. His eyes were closed, again in response to Loren's order.
"What do you suppose passers-by will see when they look up?" Loren asked softly. "You know, don't you? They'll see a man lying naked on a table, held there, not by any outward bonds, but by his own willing submission. A big, strong man who has lowered himself so far as to allow himself to be used by another man. They'll see the marks on you, and they'll see that you're held here by your own will, and they'll know what you are: a masochist. A masochist who gives his body over to the pleasure of another man."
Ken emitted a small moan. Watching him, Loren reflected that he was doing very well tonight at torturing Ken with nothing but the simple truth. He had dared not use the sort of verbal abuse Ken had flung at himself during their first scene: it was easier to judge the strength of Ken's body than the strength of his mind. But obscenities did not appear to necessary. Even without being able to see that part of Ken, Loren could tell that the em's desire was swelling with every word Loren spoke.
"I'm opening the curtains now, boy," he said softly. "Within seconds, everyone will see what you are. Within hours, everyone in Mayhill will know about you – you know how gossip runs in this town. Are you ready to be stripped naked before the town?"
Ken gave another little moan. Smiling, Loren turned off the reading lamp light, then reached to the curtain ropes. The curtains made a very satisfactory swishing sound as they were pulled back. Ken was practically writhing on the table, but he didn't speak, didn't jerk back, didn't open his eyes.
The light from the street poured into the room. That is to say, virtually no light poured in. Elia had already turned off the bar's neon sign, whose letters jutted up to block the bottom part of the second-floor window, and in this portion of the street no lamps were lit. The moon was down. Even if any birds nested in the park trees across the street – which were realistically the only creatures that could see more than a couple of yards into the apartment – then it was unlikely they'd notice anything more than a dark blur where Ken lay.
Loren was sure that Ken must be aware of this fact; the care with which Ken had prepared their scenes suggested he had a policeman's eye for detail. It didn't matter; imagination had done its work. Ken was groaning now, fully immersed in his fantasy of being stripped naked before his fellow citizens.
With any luck, Loren thought, the next time that Ken was tempted to destroy himself by stripping naked at work, he would remember this moment, and realize that imagination was as powerful a force as reality.
Loren closed the curtains again after a couple of minutes, only because he wanted the reading lamp back on so that he could look at Ken more carefully. The slick sheen of sweat on Ken glistened under the light; it dripped its way through runnels between the muscles of his back, into the crack of his ass, and across the face contorted in the agony of the em's imaginings. Loren, feeling a certain amount of agony beginning to build up in his own loins, decided that he really needed to take the edge off his appetite, or he was likely to end up doing something far too interesting, like placing Ken across flame-hot burners.
He walked up to the other man. Evidently hearing his footstep, Ken opened his eyes and peered up at him cautiously. His breath was heavy, but he remained motionless where Loren had placed him. Loren stopped and looked down at him.
"I want to fuck your ass," Loren told the policeman bluntly. "Will you try to stop me?"
Ken shook his head. Immediately, without hesitation. Loren considered him for a long minute, then walked over to the living-room side of the kitchen counter, where he had tossed his jacket.
He was still wearing his shirt and trousers; his confidence had not yet risen high enough for him to abandon that protection. He still wore gloves as well, but that was for a different reason. Now he peeled off the leather and fished out his cigarette case from his jacket pocket, frowning at the mark of his switchblade upon it. The gods only knew what sort of insanity had caused him to deface one of Elia's gifts. Setting the matter aside in his mind, he extracted a cigarette, took his lighter from his jacket pocket, and walked back to the table.
A chair was nearby; hooking it with his free hand, he placed it next to Ken's head. Ken had his eyes down now, and he was frowning slightly, in apparent puzzlement at Loren's silence. Loren did not bother to enlighten him as he sat down, lit his cigarette, placed the lighter aside, drew in a long breath of smoke, emitted it slowly, and then took another drag. His eyes never looked in the direction of Ken.
After three minutes' silence, unbroken by Ken, Loren glanced at him. The em was looking exceedingly nervous. Loren told him, "You must have a poor opinion of me."
Ken's breath rushed in so sharply that he choked on it. Or perhaps he was choking on the smoke that Loren had blown in his face. He finally managed to say, "Master?"
Loren hadn't ordered the boy to address him that way. He had called his own master "sir"; that was the only term that had ever figured in his fantasies about having an em. Ken, though, had evidently possessed his own fantasies; he had begun calling Loren "master" from the moment that Loren took charge of him as a slave. Well, Loren liked to think that he was more flexible than Tank and most of the other Esses he knew. He was willing to indulge Ken in small matters. But only in small matters.
"Let me rephrase myself," he said, turning a dark eye upon the man on the table. "I have just told you, an officer of the law, that I wish to have you willingly engage in a sexual act that is a felony in this state. I ask you again: Will you try to stop me?"
Ken shook his head. Loren just looked at him, impatiently tapping ash onto the floor. He'd have hell to pay with Elia in the morning for dirtying the apartment floor, but impressions were everything, and a neat little ashtray such as a maiden aunt might use didn't fit the impression he wanted Ken to have of him.
After a full minute more he said, in a voice such as he might have used toward a student he'd caught making paper airplanes, "You are not going to try to reject the idea of me fucking you. Of putting you in danger of fifteen years in jail. Is that the sort of man you think I am? Someone like Grover?"
He was genuinely angry now, and he allowed Ken to see it. If that was all the boy thought he was – a heartless, self-centered master out of a porn novel – Loren had best know the worst now.
He tried not to think how close he had come to embracing that nightmarish destiny.
Ken said, his voice as desperate as his expression now, "Master, I've thought about this in the past. Before I met you."
Loren raised one eyebrow; then, when Ken said nothing more, he impatiently gestured for the boy to continue.
Ken took a deep breath. "Master, some of us in the force talk about such matters among ourselves at the bar next to the police headquarters. We discuss – in purely theoretical terms, of course – whether we'd ever break a law that we believed to be wrong. What most of the guys mean is, Would they smoke marijuana? But for myself . . . I've known for a long time that, if another man wanted to have sex with me, I wouldn't be able to stop myself from doing what he wanted. So I asked myself how I'd feel if someone did that to me – whether I'd feel ashamed, or whether I'd feel that I'd done something wrong."
"And what did you decide?" Loren nudged the ash with his sneaker to give himself an excuse not to look at Ken. White sneakers with a black outfit – what had he been thinking when he dressed himself? He was lucky Ken hadn't burst into laughter when he entered the room.
"Well, sir," Ken said softly, "I decided it would depend on who the man was."
Loren slowly turned his eyes back to the boy. For the briefest of moments, Ken met his gaze squarely with the look of an honest policeman who has nothing to hide; then he lowered his gaze.
Loren dropped his cigarette and ground it underfoot as he stood up. Enough. He himself had no moral qualms about transgressing the state legislators' idiotic law against anal sex. If Ken had decided, of his own accord, to do the same, then Loren wasn't going to waste his time changing Ken's mind. His main point had already been made: that he expected intelligent service from the boy, not self-destructive servility.
The second condom was still in his pocket. He tore the wrapper as he walked round to Ken's other end, wishing he'd finished that cigarette. He needed something to calm his nerves.
"Master?" Ken's voice was soft.
"Speak." His tone was harsh; he didn't need distractions at this moment.
Ken's voice was barely above a whisper when he spoke next. "Forgive me for troubling you by asking, master, but . . . Will it hurt very much?"
Loren, in the midst of rolling the rubber over the pathetic part of his body that he would need to make use of in this exercise, nearly burst into laughter. Hurt? Oh, he could only wish.
The boy was rigid with tension, though; no reason to make the matter worse for him than it already was. Loren was not so old that he had forgotten the nervousness he had felt during his own first time. "There'll be no pain that you can't manage," he assured the boy. The statement would have been true even if he'd forced a baseball bat into Ken, he suspected.
Ken sighed with relief, and Loren was left with his own problem.
He had never done this before.
Been fucked, yes, many times. He'd even received blow jobs on a few occasions. But the one time he had gotten up the nerve to suggest that he be the top during a fucking session, his partner had laughed in his face, following his laughter up with a few choice remarks about the effectiveness of matchstick-sized pricks.
Never again had he possessed the courage to ask for such a role, and nobody had ever volunteered to let him fuck them. He hoped he could at least remember how he was supposed to do this.
He finished squeezing the K-Y onto the head of the rubber and placed his hand on Ken's back. It was still rough as a ridged potato chip with the welts from his beating, but Ken made only the slightest noise as Loren ran his fingernail over one of the welts. Not enough of a noise; Loren's cock couldn't seem to make up its mind whether it wanted to enter Ken's body or not. Loren switched his attention to Ken's pose: utterly still, spread across the table, awaiting his master's next orders. Yes, that was good – Ken's positions were always good. Just a little more was necessary.
"Hands behind your neck," Loren barked.
Ken's hands flew through the air, as fast as a hummingbird's wings; he laced his fingers behind the back of his neck. To achieve this, Ken needed to turn his head so that the back of the neck was pointed toward the ceiling, which in turn meant that Ken's chin got in the way of the table, so that he was forced to arch his neck backwards in order to lay the front of his neck flat on the table. An uncomfortable position, no doubt. Ken's breath was a bit more ragged now.
Oh, beautiful. Without thinking of what he was doing, Loren slid inside the em.
Ken's warmth enveloped Loren. No mouth Loren had ever entered, no hand squeezing around his cock, had ever been as tight as Ken's ass. Loren couldn't imagine what the sensation would have been like if his cock had been any larger. His circulation would have been cut off, surely.
Loren took a moment to steady his breath before he said, "Well?" Know the worst from the start; that policy had already worked for him twice already, and he could only hope that it would work again.
"Master, it doesn't hurt at all." Ken's voice was filled with wonder and gratitude.
Loren did laugh then. He drew back and shoved himself hard into the boy, causing Ken's breath to catch. Judging from the moan that followed, Loren's aim had been true.
"That's what you think, slave," he told Ken. "By the time I'm through with you, you'll be screaming for release."
Ken didn't scream by the end, but he was panting as much as he had when Loren opened the curtains. As soon as Loren had gotten his own breath back, he pulled Ken up from the table and pushed him in the direction of the bathroom, instructing him to take a cold shower.
Loren managed to hold out five whole minutes before he stripped himself and went to join Ken.
He stood in the doorway for a while, watching the em. When Loren and Elia had first moved to the apartment, their bathroom had looked much like the one at Ken's townhouse: a tiny sink, an ancient toilet that woke the neighbors whenever it was flushed at night, and a claw-footed tub. Loren had gone away on a week-long trip to the big city to consult with the leather bar owners there on how to run his new business, and when he returned he found that Elia, the handyman, had transformed the bathroom: the sink was now surrounded by a counter, the ancient toilet had been replaced by a quieter model, and the claw-footed tub had been relegated to the basement, where it stayed until it found a new home in the dungeon. In its place, Elia had installed a glass-panelled shower in the corner of the bathroom.
Ken was in the shower now, his back to the door. No steam drifted up from the spray; he was evidently following Loren's instructions to the letter. He had reached the stage of cleaning his hair and was just turning to rinse it when he caught sight of Loren, standing outside the shower.
Ken stared for a moment while Loren's guts lodged in his throat. It was the first time the em had seen Loren completely naked while he was playing the role of the master; Loren waited for Ken's expression to fall. But if the em was disappointed, he hid it well. After a second he recovered himself and reached out, fumbling with the shower knobs. By the time Loren opened the door and stepped into the shower, the water was pleasantly warm.
"Is that the right temperature, sir?" Ken asked with all the apprehension of a newly trained waiter presenting wine.
"It will do," Loren replied. He was amused to see that Ken had been washing his hair with soap; evidently he considered the shampoo nearby to be too great a luxury for a slave. Loren took the Irish Spring from his hand, examined it a moment, and then tossed it back to Ken's waiting hands. "Clean me," he ordered.
Ken didn't wait for further instructions. He lathered up his hands, then carefully began washing Loren's shoulders, evidently fearing that washing anything above Loren's neck would be a liberty. His hands felt as strong as they had when they held Loren down on the bed the previous evening, but his face was different: it had a look of intense concentration on it, as though Ken were undertaking a difficult exam. His fingers began to slip down, and Loren raised his right arm so that Ken could wash his pit. The em ran his fingers through the hair there delicately, and Loren felt the first stirrings below.
He cursed inside. Darn it, nothing tonight was going the way he had planned it. He had had a very clear plan in mind at the beginning of this night: he would take his pleasure in Ken's mouth, give the em a bit of S&M to calm him down, and then proceed, quite firmly, to more mundane service. That was how his old master had handled matters. Loren remembered his own disgust when he had discovered that his primary duty to his master each evening would be to clean his dirty dishes and laundry.
His master had laughed. "Why do you want me to make the scene with you each night?" he asked. "So you can have your fun? Boy, you haven't figured out what slavery is all about. This is for my pleasure, not yours. I'm the one being served, and your pleasure doesn't matter to me in the least."
It was a great deal less than the truth, and at a later stage his master let him know that. But at this early stage, his master hammered in the message: a slave's mind must be on his master's pleasure, nothing more. Mundane tasks taught that quickly.
So Loren had planned to spend the night watching Ken clean the apartment. It hadn't turned out that way. Twenty years of sexual frustration were driving Loren to his third hard-on of the night.
Ken appeared not to notice. He had gone down on his knees and was beginning to scrub Loren's chest. Loren felt his stomach tighten as Ken's hands slowed. He knew that Ken had noticed the most prominent sign of Loren's bodily ugliness: the patchy chest hair, thin and scraggly in certain places, nonexistent in others. Ken's hands trailed its way through a thin patch, then stopped at a bare patch. Then, as Loren held his breath, Ken ducked his head and kissed Loren's chest.
His lips brushed Loren's left nipple. Loren nearly jumped three feet in the air. Startled, Ken drew back, and his eyes rose swiftly to Loren's face.
Loren managed to clear his throat. "Get on with the washing," he ordered gruffly.
Ken murmured an acknowledgment of the order, and his hands travelled down.
Down and down, washing Loren's thighs, his knees, his calves, fingers stirring the wet hair on Loren's legs, brushing them one way and then the other, hands firm but head bowed.
Loren thought it was just as well Ken had skipped his cock. Loren wouldn't have been able to hold out.
Ken spent a long time washing the tops of Loren's feet. Staring down at the em's hair – still curly despite the water – Loren thought to himself that Elia should have been here. He would have enjoyed this. And ended up feeling guilty for enjoying it. Perhaps it was just as well that Loren and his temporary slave were alone.
Ken cleaned between his toes, and then nudged his left foot, ever so slightly. Curious as to what the em had in mind, Loren braced himself against the wall and let Ken lift his foot.
There was a sudden blur, a body dropping, a door crashing, and then Ken was motionless on the floor, and the shower door swung slightly on its hinges as cold air shivered into the shower.
Loren, fixed motionless, raised his eyes to the doorway.
Nothing was there. Not Elia, bursting in to rescue Ken from a life of immorality. Not Corporal Pollacco, with his gun trained upon Loren. Loren looked down at Ken's body. It was motionless, yes, but it had fallen in a precise manner: Ken was lying on his back, with his arms behind his back and his legs sprawling beyond the confines of the shower. His face was under Loren's foot.
Ken's tongue licked Loren's sole.
He shot then – came with a cry and a burst of heat as his cum fired into the air, white globs mixing with transparent water and falling onto the body of the em still licking his foot. Loren barely managed to keep balance; he was blind with passion for a moment.
Then his sight cleared.
The shower door was closed. Ken knelt in front of it, Loren's cum still dripping down his torso. The em's head was bowed, but Loren could see that the boy was smiling broadly. His cock was hard against the scars on his belly.
Loren put his foot down tentatively. The room swayed for a moment. Staggering somewhat, he made his way over to Ken. Perhaps remembering his earlier instructions, Ken raised his smiling face so that his eyes met Loren's.
Loren tried to think of what to say. He failed. All the eloquence of the classical world stored inside him, and he couldn't think of a single aphorism that would encompass what had just taken place.
He settled for taking hold of himself.
The golden droplets mixed with the creamy cum and dripped their way down Ken's chest, rushing faster as they joined with the shower water. Ken's face had taken on a look of shock. Too late, it occurred to Loren that, for all of Ken's skill with dirty talk, there were some aspects of leather life that he could not be expected to know about.
"Sir." The em's voice was barely above a whisper, yet the strain in it was clear. "Please tell me – what did I do wrong?"
Loren struggled for speech. "Nothing. You did nothing wrong. This—" He touched one golden droplet that continued to cling to the rug of hair on Ken's chest. "This is my essence. I am giving it to you."
Ken's expression changed. For a moment, Loren thought he understood that what his temporary master had done was meant as a gift. Then the em burst out, "Thank you, sir! Thank you for showing me another way to serve you!"
The knowledge came to Loren then, like a vulture's beak plunging into his liver.
Almost nothing had changed since the beginning of the evening. Ken would still obey any order Loren gave him, no matter how harsh the consequences for himself. He would walk in front of a speeding truck if Loren told him to.
The only difference was that Ken would die with a smile on his face, joyful to have finally found someone who appreciated his service.
Somehow, Loren managed to leave the shower without satisfying his impulse to shatter the glass. He left Ken with instructions to clean himself off, and to get rid of that erection, darn it, and then Loren made his way to the bedroom and stood there naked, trying to figure out what to do.
He had only made matters worse – much worse. Before, Ken had received no real enjoyment from obeying the orders of others; he had been driven that way, but he had struggled against his drive. Now, having tasted the full pleasure of service, he could not possibly free himself of the desire to serve – but he was no more capable now than he had been at the beginning of the evening of keeping himself from self-destruction.
It was as though Loren had handed him a bowl full of candy laced with a secret poison.
"Damn!" He allowed himself one of his rare moments of obscenity. "Damn and hell!"
He heard a sound behind him. Turning, he saw Ken standing at the doorway. The em was wearing a towel now, but that couldn't hide what was happening beneath the towel.
Loren waited. Ken bit his lip. "I'm sorry, master," he said. "I did use the cold water, I promise you, and I was all right when I left the shower. It's seeing you like that, without any clothes . . ."
It was almost too much. Loren had the impulse to scream the building down – or better yet, scream for help from Elia. Perhaps his apprentice could have found his way out of the trap that Loren had freely and blithely walked into.
Instead he said gruffly, "Come help me into my pajamas."
Ken did so, his touch tentative again, as though he were clothing a precious statue. When they were through, Loren climbed into bed. It felt colder than usual.
Ken was kneeling by the bed now. "Do you require anything else, master?"
He would kneel there all night if ordered to, Loren knew. Or would sleep on the cold floor or in a heap of dung.
This was getting ridiculous. It was like a Roman farce. Loren had to find a way out of this.
"The bed is cold," Loren replied, dealing with the most immediate problem first. "Come keep it warm."
Ken crawled into bed, the towel slipping off him as he did so. He seemed inclined to teeter on the edge of the bed, so Loren offered his arm, and Ken lay his head down on Loren's shoulder. Sighing, like a man who has wandered for years and finally found his home.
He dropped asleep almost at once. Loren lay awake, staring at the ceiling, remembering the final morning he had spent with his master.
They had risen at dawn, after a night spent sleeping together. It was not the first full night they had been together. Loren's parents – who would move out of town almost immediately after they were able to rid themselves of him on his eighteenth birthday – no longer took any notice of his comings or goings. He spent most of his time now with his master, occasionally snatching food from the cupboards at his parent's house.
Except that the man who had trained him was no longer his master, in any meaning of the word. He had made that clear to Loren.
The biker let him carry his cap to the motorcycle, and then took it from him once he had mounted. Loren expected him to say something, but the biker did nothing but gun his motor and swing the motorcycle out of the lot on the edge of town where he had been keeping it. He started down the road—
—and stopped almost immediately. The light was against him, and though Loren knew him well enough by now to guess that he would run a red light if it suited him, a tractor-trailer was passing through the intersection at that moment.
Suddenly Loren found himself running. He reached the intersection just as the light turned green. He half expected the biker to ignore him. But the man who had been his master smiled and leaned forward to kiss him.
The kiss was brief. "Take care of yourself, young master," the biker said, tugging the brim of his cap in a salute. "And take care of your boy."
And then he was gone, the dust from his bike spinning into Loren's eyes and making them water. He waited for a long time, watching the biker grow small in the distance. Then he turned round, wiped his eyes, and walked back to Mayhill.