Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 143: Rites of Passage.
Wednesday night Mike informed me he and Clark had exchanged phone numbers in the driveway. We then sat down and looked at his financial situation and decided that he could afford to finance the used car he had picked out. He wasn’t as bad off as I had first imagined. If he was careful, and worked hard, he could afford his bills, and college, and still be able to eat more than ramen.
Thursday was harder work, and harder in general, than I expected it to be. After dropping Mike off at the car dealership, I stopped at the local hardware store and bought a few boxes and some packing tape, then drove to Leatherman’s.
I was wondering about that as I pulled into the back lot. My lawyer had called to say he was following up on making sure the liquor license transferred without incident and had asked if I was planning to change the name of the club. Somehow it didn’t feel right; it had been Leatherman’s for as long as I could remember.
I carried the supplies into the office, then went upstairs. I worked room by room, beginning in the living room, carrying all of Leatherman’s personal effects into the guestroom. I was making three piles: keep, toss, donate. I packed up all the photos and mementos in a couple of boxes. I would sort through them more carefully sometime in the future. I boxed up nearly all of the clothing in the apartment, saving a few leather pieces in the guest room closet. I made a phone call to a local agency who promised to send a truck over that afternoon. Since I had already emptied the refrigerator last week, I tackled the bathroom, throwing out nearly everything under the sink and in the medicine chest. Next, I sorted through the linen closet, carrying a bag of old sheets and towels down to the dumpster. By three o’clock when the truck pulled away with the clothing donation, I was tired, sweaty, and finished. There were four boxes and some clothing in the guest room closet, both beds were stripped, with the blankets in the process of being laundered, and I had a list of things Mike would need to shop for before he could move in.
Speaking of Mike, I thought it was strange I hadn’t heard from him yet. I punched his number in my cell.
“Christopher, I was just about to call you!”
“Where’ve you been? I thought you were going to help me at the apartment?” My tone was teasing.
“I’m just leaving now. I got the car!”
“Congratulations! Be careful!”
Mike chuckled. “I will be. I should be there in about ten minutes.”
I disconnected the call and sat on the couch in the office. This entire week had been go, go, go, ever since Friday night with Richard. Scott still hadn’t said anything about how the case was progressing. I picked up my phone to call him, but it began to ring in my hand. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway.
“Chris, it’s Craig.”
I swung my legs up on the coffee table and crossed my ankles. “Hey. I was wondering how you’re doing.”
“I called your lawyer. He’s been really great to me. They’re letting me out of the hospital tomorrow. I’m not supposed to leave town, but since they haven’t charged me with anything I get to go home.”
“That’s great news.”
“Chris, if I had anybody else I could ask you know I wouldn’t call you. But I need somebody to pick me up at the hospital tomorrow and drive me to my apartment.”
“What time?” I asked.
“They said 11 in the morning.”
“I’ll be there.”
“You will?” He sounded surprised.
“What am I going to do? Leave you in the hospital? I’ll take you home and make sure you’re ok there.”
It sounded to me like Craig was trying not to cry. “I’m still in a lot of trouble, Chris. Even if they don’t arrest me. I don’t have insurance or a job and I don’t even know how I’m going to pay this month’s rent.”
This was the chaos that Richard was leaving behind. I absently wondered if Alan had left any money in any accounts. I sighed. “Let’s worry about getting you home first. We can figure out the rest of it later.”
Craig didn’t sound too comforted, but he said goodbye and hung up.
The door opened to the right of me and Mike walked in, beaming. “Christopher, I have a car! And I can afford the payments and it’s in good shape and I think I made a really good deal!”
I smiled. “That’s terrific! Good luck with it!”
We traipsed upstairs, and I explained that I had left a few things in the guestroom closet to be dealt with later. Mike was of the mind that the stuff could stay there indefinitely. I gave him the list of things he’d need which basically included sheets and towels and toiletries and food and handed him a few hundred dollars out of my wallet.
“Christopher, I can’t take any more money from you.”
“Consider it an advance. You can work it off at the club.”
He lit up. “The club reopens this weekend, right?”
I nodded. “I’m hoping people show up Saturday. You’re welcome to appear, if you want to. There won’t be time to publicize it though.”
I gave Mike a set of keys to the place and headed toward home. I needed a long, hot shower and a meal.
Wade was at the kitchen table with a textbook when I entered the house.
“How was packing up Leatherman’s?” he asked.
“Exhausting. I’m going upstairs to shower. What are your plans tonight?”
He shrugged. “None so far.”
“Good. Let’s get dinner and catch up.”
Half an hour later I returned downstairs, showered, hair freshly styled, and dressed in jeans and sneakers and a sweatshirt.
Wade looked up from his phone.
“What do you feel like for supper?”
“Anything but pizza.”
I grinned. “Are we going out or staying in?”
“Let’s stay in,” Wade said. “How about we pick up Chinese? I was hoping to talk to you.”
My Spider Sense started tingling, but I said nothing. “Okay, call Dragon Lady and order whatever you want, but get me coconut chicken and pork fried rice. Add some orange chicken too for Scott for later.”
Wade speed dialed the restaurant and hung up a few minutes later. “Ten minutes.”
I laughed. “They ALWAYS say ten minutes.”
I was casually leaning against the sink. “So what is it you want to talk to me about?”
“A couple things. First, you know that website is still going, right?”
I nodded. “That’s how we met Clark.”
“Well, you know that guy Chase I told you about?”
“He was asking Austin and me about it.”
“I thought Chase had a girlfriend.” Even as I said it I realized how ridiculous that statement was.
“He does. But they’re into pup stuff and he heard that the site could make him feel more like a pup.” Wade was studying my reaction. “We told him not to try it.”
“That’s all you can do.”
Wade stood up and fished his keys out of his pocket. “I’ll drive.”
“Are we finished talking?”
Wade shook his head. “Let’s eat first.”
Wade stalling had me imagining all sorts of horrible things, but I held myself mostly in check and rode with him making small talk to the Chinese place. I ran in and paid for the food, and Wade drove us back home.
We were seated at the table digging into the food when he finally started talking again.
“Chris, you probably already know that Austin and I are having sex.”
“I assumed so,” I said calmly. It wasn’t like Wade could be pregnant, which meant only one thing—STI. “Do you need to be tested for something?”
“What? Oh! No! We’re really careful.”
“Good. But you should still get tested regularly.” I popped some chicken in my mouth.
Wade rolled his eyes. “I know! You don’t have to worry about that. You did a really good job having the safe sex talk with me.”
I could feel my ears growing hot. I knew I was blushing.
“Chris. Well.” Wade kept starting and stopping. “Well, um.”
“Please just tell me what’s on your mind, Wade. You’re making me a nervous wreck.”
Wade set down his fork. “I know you said I can talk to you about anything, but I don’t know how to ask you about this.”
“Just come out with it,” I said.
Wade avoided looking at me. “Austin likes being tied up and wearing a dog collar and being a pup and I’ve been sort of telling him what to do and tying his hands and stuff.”
I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
I bit my lip. “Are you asking me for information about how to be a good Dominant in a relationship?”
“I guess. Yes. I just don’t want to do it wrong and hurt him somehow.”
I smiled. “Well, that’s a good sign.” How on earth was I supposed to get through this conversation with Wade? No, I thought to myself. You swore you’d be a resource for him, and you can’t back out now. “Do you like being the dominant one?”
It was Wade’s turn to blush. “I kind of do.”
He laughed. “You know what I mean. It’s really hot to be in charge.”
I grinned. “So, what is it you really want to know?”
“I don’t know. I tried to look on the internet but so much of what I found was really crazy or out there or looked kind of dangerous and I feel like I know even less than I did when I started.”
“That’s fair. There are some extreme people out there.” I took a drink of my iced tea then set down the glass and looked directly at him. “Every healthy D/s relationship is a mixture of fantasy and reality. I would normally mention consent, but it sounds like Austin is on board with this. Just remember that if you two are drinking that he may not be in any shape to give consent.”
“Austin doesn’t drink much. And I’m not even twenty-one yet.”
“I know how old you are.” I winked at him. “Okay, so what you need is some realistic advice for how to be safe and have some fun. You need to make sure that you’re being responsible for his wellbeing when you start taking control. Communicate with him and make sure his needs are being met and that he’s ok and having fun.”
“So, talk to him and check in on him?”
“Yes. It sounds simple, but in the heat of the moment many new Doms forget how important that is. And before you start anything with him, discuss limits. Find out what isn’t all right for you to do or ask him to do. Ask him what interests and fetishes fire him up and which bring the mood down.”
“We have talked about some of that.”
“Good. That’s important. You don’t want to be really revved up and then say or do the wrong thing and completely destroy the mood.”
Wade’s brow furrowed.
“If you’re going to use punishment and reward with him, make sure you don’t cross the line into abuse. Discipline and punishment should be fair, controlled and used to reinforce the rules. Emotional blackmail and physical harm are not acceptable. It can be a fine line if your sub likes to test the rules and see if you’ll punish him.”
“I would never abuse anybody, Chris.”
“I figured. But you asked for some tips.” I reached across the table and patted his hand. “Have a safe word. And if he uses the safe word you stop what you’re doing immediately, and you never make him feel bad about it.”
“Do people do that?”
“Use a safe word? Sure. If play gets too intense or there’s pain or discomfort or whatever, a sub should feel free to be able to stop things.”
“No, I meant make the sub feel bad for using it.”
I nodded. “Good Doms don’t. But there are a lot of bad Doms out there.” I stopped myself from mentioning Richard and Donald. I had a feeling Wade was already thinking of them.
“Really then as long as I’m careful and make sure Austin is having fun it’s ok to dominate him?”
“Yes. You’re both consenting adults. Just remember, submission is one of the greatest gifts that can be given. You need to recognize and respect the magnitude of that. Austin is trusting you to be vulnerable to you and he’s believing in you enough to trust that you’ll make sure he’s safe. It’s very easy as a Dom to think about what you want and what you can get out of play or a relationship. But your sub’s needs are also important and if you don’t take care of him, he won’t want to be your sub for too long.”
Wade seemed lost in thought.
“TMI?” I asked.
“No! I was just thinking about what you said.” Wade smiled at me. “Thank you for not making this weird.”
I laughed. “What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. We’re talking about sex and fetishes and you didn’t make me feel dumb or like some sort of freak.”
“Wade, I always tell you you can talk to me about anything.”
“I know. But thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Just keep realistic expectations and don’t do anything too over the top to start.” I was starting to hate how much like a father I sounded when I said some of these things. Then again, how many fathers told their sons about how to have a functional and fulfilling D/s relationship? At least I wasn’t a regular dad. I’m a cool dad! Ugh. I probably shouldn’t have rewatched Mean Girls the other night on cable.
Wade grinned and jumped up from the table. “Will you be mad if I leave you to clean up the dishes?”
I shook my head. “What’s up?”
“I’m going to go call Austin. We have some stuff to talk about.”
Wade stopped on his way around the table and bent down and squeezed my shoulders in a sideways hug. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
To be continued in Part 144...
Christopher, Craig & Co.
Part 144: Brad.
A little later that night, Mike picked up his suitcase and thanked me for the hundredth time. He had gotten enough supplies to sleep at the apartment and would pick up the rest in the morning. He did mention that the tracking on the rest of his belongings showed they were getting closer to NY.
Scott called me for all of two minutes to apologize and say he was stuck at work and would be home late. He got home after I went to bed and was gone by the time I woke; a note on his pillow was the only proof he’d been there at all.
Friday morning, I picked Craig up at the hospital and dropped him off at his apartment. I also shopped for some groceries for him and paid two months’ rent on the apartment. I told him to call if he needed anything this weekend and suggested he try to find out what Alan had left behind financially.
A little after two I finally sat down at my desk with Leatherman’s computer and went through all of the files and accounts related to the club. I had been counting on Bootboy to help me with the transition, but that was obviously no longer an option. I called several of the distributors Leatherman had used and got information from them about deliveries. I was in way over my head and going to need someone who knew what they were doing to run the club—at least until I decided if I wanted to be a hands-on owner or not.
Wade raced in from a day with Austin, showered, changed and raced back out for a night at work at Kampas. I felt a lot better about him being there now that I knew Richard was in the hospital. I didn’t believe he was completely neutralized, but I did think he was going to be less of a threat for a while. It was hard for me to believe that it had only been one week since everything went down. And I was a little frustrated that Richard hadn’t been arrested yet.
At a few minutes after seven there was a knock at the door. I left my desk to answer it.
After a quick glance in the foyer mirror, I swung open the front door, revealing Clark, dressed in dark jeans, a pair of boots and a blue button-down, and a young man several inches shorter than Clark, who I assumed to be Brad.
“Won’t you come in?”
Clark seemed to be encouraging Brad wordlessly. Brad stepped into the well-lit foyer and I gave him a onceover. He was wearing black shoes, black jeans, and a black pullover, with a black dad hat on his head. Standing inside he pulled the hat off and ran a hand through his short cut sandy hair.
“Hi,” he said nervously.
“You must be Brad. I’m Chris. Please come into the den.”
I led the way and Clark and Brad sat side by side on the couch. I lowered myself into my chair and smiled ingratiatingly.
“I told Brad that you helped me and that you can help him,” Clark said.
Brad positioned his hat on his knee. “I don’t really need help. It’s not a big deal,” he said softly.
Brad’s blue eyes were avoiding mine as I tried to catch his gaze. He had a ruddy complexion dotted with freckles and a compact, though well-defined build under his tight black shirt.
I decided to go for broke. “So, you’re not being coerced to log into Masteredslave.com and obey orders you don’t want to?”
“Coerced makes it sound really bad,” he said.
I had used that word on purpose. It likely was really bad. I sighed. “I’ll make you a deal. If you’ll listen to an mp3 for a few minutes, then I’ll take your word for it that you don’t want my help. Sound fair?”
Brad looked skeptical. “What’s the catch?”
“No catch. Just sit at my desk and listen to an mp3 for a few minutes.”
Brad looked at Clark, who smiled reassuringly.
“Ok,” Brad said.
I walked over to the desk and fired up my computer. Brad followed me over, still looking tentative, and I gestured to the chair. Once he was seated, I handed him a pair of headphones, waited for him to put them on, then pushed play. I could tell almost immediately the file was having an effect. I waited a minute then returned to my chair and smiled at Clark.
“Brad didn’t want to come here.” It wasn’t a question.
Clark was tapping his foot. “I think he’s embarrassed. Brad’s usually really confident and with all of this going on he just doesn’t seem like himself.”
Usually confident. I’d have to look into that. “How about you, Clark? How are you doing?”
“I haven’t been on Masteredslave.com all week, if that’s what you mean.” He started drumming his fingers on the arm of the couch.
“Are you still listening to the file I gave you?”
“Yes. Morning and night.”
“Good. Do that for a couple more days and you can likely stop.”
“That’d be great.”
“Preppy Jock. Preppy Jock. I need you to relax, Preppy Jock.”
Clark slipped into trance much more easily tonight. No doubt listening to my voice in the file was also helping his suggestibility around me.
“Clark, can you hear me?”
“Can you tell me why you’re so nervous tonight?”
“Why are you tapping your feet and fingers so much?”
“I have ADHD and anxiety.”
I hadn’t expected that. “Is that related to you being on the website?”
“Not sure what you are asking.”
“Did you have that before the website?”
“Yes. Went on the website to try to focus.”
“Explain that, Clark.”
“I wanted help focusing and completing tasks and motivation.”
“Do you still want help focusing?”
Hmmm. I was going to have to look into ADHD and anxiety a bit more before I could commit to being any help with that. “Ok. Clark, you know that you shouldn’t log into Masteredslave.com anymore, don’t you?”
“Good. I’ll do my best to help you with your focusing problem if you want. We can discuss it more when you awaken on the count of 3. 1...2...3.”
Clark blinked a few times and stretched. He looked at me with a mixture of embarrassment and relief on his face. “You think I’m free of the website?”
“I do. And if you really want me to try to help you with some focusing, I can look into it.”
“You mean it?”
I nodded, then glanced over at my desk as Brad was setting the headphones down. “How are you feeling, Brad?”
“A little confused,” he said, sounding more than a little confused.
“The website is bad for me. But I can’t stop going there.”
“I can help you stop, if you want me to.”
“He really can,” Clark chimed in. “I haven’t logged in all week.”
“Why don’t you two switch places?” I suggested. “Clark, you can knock out another listen to the file for tonight while I have a conversation with Brad.”
Just then the front door opened and seconds later Scott was framed in the doorway to the den. “Chris, you’re not going to believe—” he stopped short.
I pasted on a smile. “Scott, you remember Clark.” I gestured to Brad. “This is his friend Brad.”
“Oh!” Scott said.
“Brad, this is my partner, Scott.”
Brad didn’t meet Scott’s eyes, but shook his proffered hand.
“Scott, I’m sort of in the middle of something here. Can we talk in a bit?”
Scott nodded knowingly. “I’ll be in the kitchen.” He headed down the hall.
I had intended to go through a real induction with Brad tonight to get him relaxed and put him at ease, but between the fact that the file wouldn’t keep Clark busy for long and now Scott had arrived home, I needed to switch to plan B.
I walked to my desk. “Clark, you all set over here?”
He put the earphones over his ears and nodded. I pressed play to restart the file, then returned to my chair. Once I sat down I smiled at Brad as warmly as I could.
He looked tense.
“Slave must obey,” I said.
Brad’s body seemed to slowly uncoil as though all the tension was being drained from him. “Slave ready, Sir,” he said in a monotone.
I sighed and took out my phone, sending Scott a text. He appeared in the doorway almost immediately.
“Brad, you will find that it is very easy to answer my questions, and that you will want to answer anything I ask. In fact, each time you answer one of my questions you will feel more relaxed and more pleasure. Do you understand?”
“Brad, what’s your full name?”
“And how old are you, Brad?”
That surprised me; I would have guessed younger. “How did you find out about the website Masteredslave.com?”
“A guy was talking about it in a hypnosis forum.”
“Did you know this guy?”
“Why did you log into Masteredslave.com?”
“I was looking for friends with similar interests and maybe a playmate or boyfriend.”
I frowned. Poor guy. “What happened on Masteredslave.com?”
“I want to be an obedient sub.”
I lowered my eyebrows. That wasn’t what I asked. “Did you meet anyone on the site?”
“How did that go?”
“I tried to help a couple of guys who seemed like they were in trouble.”
“You did? How?”
“I need to be controlled. I am nothing.”
I frowned. There was something wrong here. “Did you try to hypnotize other guys on the site?”
“And what happened?”
“I need programming. I crave orders.”
Scott was staring at me, an expression of concern on his face.
I bit my lip. Clark was going to be waking up any minute. “Okay, Brad. I’m going to help you, but you’re going to have to come back here a few times. You’ll like that though. In fact, you are looking forward to coming back here to talk to me and get my help. Isn’t that right, Brad?”
“You know you can trust me and that I will help you. I am going to give you a copy of the file you listened to before you leave here. You will listen to it again tonight before bed and then every morning and night for the next week. Do you understand?”
“That’s good. Now, when I count to 3 you will be wide awake, and you won’t remember exactly what we talked about. But you will know you want to come back here and get my help.” I paused. I needed a trigger for him. “And from now on every time I say Power Player you will return to this state of relaxation and feel more relaxed. Repeat after me and as you say the words, know that they are true and have become a permanent part of you. Every time I say Power Player you will return to this state of relaxation and feel more relaxed.”
“Every time you say Power Player I will feel more relaxed.” “Good. Now I’ll count to 3 and you will feel wide awake and happy. 1...feeling more alert...2...more aware of your surroundings...3.”
Brad yawned and stretched. He looked at me and smiled, but his tone was guarded. “Can you really help me?”
“I can.” Just as soon as I figured out how.
Clark stood up at the desk. Brad took that as a cue and also jumped to his feet.
“Listen, do you two have any plans tomorrow night?”
Clark shook his head. “No, why?”
“We’re going to Leatherman’s club for the night. If you want to stop by, I’ll put you on the list at the door.”
Clark’s face lit up in a grin. “That’d be awesome.”
“Thank you,” Brad said.
“And, Brad, are you available Sunday night around 7 to come back for a session?”
He smiled for the second time tonight. “Yes.”
I walked them to the door and gave Brad’s shoulder a squeeze. “It’s going to be ok.”
The boys both waved and walked down the driveway. I waved back and shut the door.
“I’m not so sure that’s true,” Scott said behind me.