Explicit homosexual sex contained herein... if you'd rather read this broken up into pieces instead of all in one go, my LJ is linked at my profile.

1

I wanted him almost as soon as I saw him. It mostly had to do with his mouth, full-lipped and sensuously curved for a boy. Freckles scattered across his cheeks, beneath long-lashed hazel eyes. His blond hair was just long enough to show the beginnings of a curl. His khaki pants couldn't disguise the delicious curve of his ass, nor could the white button-up completely hide his lightly muscled torso. He brought words like 'delicate' and 'petite' to mind, without losing any of that essential masculinity. His name was Gilbert Chandler, and he was nineteen years old and here in my office for a summer internship. At the moment, he was bent over a clipboard, filling out paperwork for the HR department.

"I'm not sure what to put for an emergency contact," he said, interrupting my thoughts.

"Oh?" I asked.

"My parents died when I was seventeen," he answered, "and I don't have any family."

"My condolences," I murmured. "Close friends, girlfriend?" I suggested.

"We lost touch after we all went to different colleges and I'm single," he said.

"Why don't you put my name down?" I suggested, "After all, an emergency isn't likely."

"Thanks," he said brightly, flashing orthodontically perfect teeth in a brief, grateful smile. I returned the smile, mind working furiously. He hadn't any personal connections; no one was going to tell him that I, at twenty-nine, was too old for him. He was prey, and the hunt was on. I wanted to own him, to have absolute control over him.

He handed me his completed paperwork. I stood, pleased to note how much taller and broader I was than he. I showed him around the floor, making sure he knew where the coffee was, and the pesky HR requirements like fire escapes and tornado shelters.

My father's firm, like many, was scaling back on the expenses. Last year's intern had forty hours a week while this year's only had twenty. Still, Gilbert was lucky he was getting a paid internship at all. He'd agreed to a morning shift, between eight am and noon, when I left for lunch. The manager, who was responsible for such details, had assigned him to a cubicle outside. I was an executive level employee, but I didn't have a staff scurrying under me, and I didn't answer to anyone except the CEO of the company, my father. I had a corner office, which offered a stunning view of the metropolis.

I worked in customer relations, generally meeting with clients to show that my father, who had so many demands on his time, was "taking them seriously," by sending his son to deal with them. If I got involved, it was usually viewed as a failure in the usual channels. I had to become familiar with a variety of cases, usually very quickly.

Once Gilbert left, I took my lunch break. I decided to order in today; I had work to get done. The first thing I did was ring up an old friend of mine. The line was secure, and not monitored like the other employees' lines were.

"Hello," Vincent said, picking up almost immediately.

We chatted briefly, discussing his wife and kids, reminiscing about our college days, and then I got down to business. "There's an acquisition I'd like to make," I said. Vincent had an entire life separate from his conventional one in the suburbs. He'd lost everything in the dotcom crash, but rather than admit bankruptcy, he'd started a business with what little capital remained to him. His wife didn't much care about the details, as long as the credit cards continued to work. Vincent was a link in the human trafficking network, distributing young men and women of third world countries to the elites here.

"What have you got for me?" Vincent asked.

I rattled off his personal information, all written out on the HR paperwork he'd handed me only a few hours ago. If anyone could ferret out a dirty little secret that would put Gilbert at my mercy, it was Vincent. And Vincent was safe; I had proof of his escapades in my file cabinet at home, in my safety deposit box at the bank, which my lawyer knew to access. If Vincent tried to get me in trouble, I would get him right back.

"I'll see what I can do." The line went dead.

After lunch was over, I sent an email to the manager, requesting that Gilbert Chandler's desk be reassigned to my office. I could have cited spatial pressure in the maze to persuade her, but I didn't. I just said that I found his current location to be unacceptable. She'd move him in here anyway, if not because of the too-few desks and too-many employees, than because I was my father's son, and it wasn't worth annoying me for something so trivial.

The next morning, I arrived at work at fifteen minutes early. An extra desk had been added to my office, just as I'd requested. My large desk formed three sides of a square. The custodians had moved it, so that it jutted into the room diagonally from one corner. The door was to my left, plate glass windows were to my right and straight in front of me. Gilbert's desk was in the opposite corner, pressed against the wall so that I could watch him from behind. My office also had its own bathroom, and a closet in which I kept spare suits, just in case.

Gilbert was a diligent worker. He fetched coffee, made photocopies, composed mass email campaigns, and did it all quickly. He had promise, and I liked how quickly he obeyed. He drove me mad, chewing his pen caps ragged; I vowed to fill his mouth with my increasingly hungry cock at the earliest opportunity.

Gilbert had started work on Monday, the same day I'd called Vincent. Tuesday passed, and he called Wednesday morning.

"I've got news," Vincent said shortly, "meet me for lunch, usual place." The line went dead as was typical of Vincent.

And so, after Gilbert left for the day, I met Vincent outside a deli we favored. It was on the lake, so we ordered our sandwiches to go, and walked with them out to Vincent's boat. Vincent was perhaps the ugliest man I'd ever met. His brow protruded over his sunken eyes, he had boils, crooked teeth, a scraggly beard, and balding head, but hair covered the rest of his body. He had a potbelly incongruent with his stringy arms and legs.

"Here's the bad news," Vincent said, "Your boy's as clean as the proverbial whistle. The good news is that all of his money is tied up in a trust fund until he's twenty-one, and he's only eighteen. He lied on his résumé, Dan. He's never been to college. He gave a PO Box for an address, because he's living in a ratty little motel, fifty bucks a night. He's walking a thin line between survival and starvation, so his job is very valuable, if you catch my drift."

"You do have a way for me to get to him," I said happily.

"Have I ever let you down?" Vincent asked. "He's yours, if you play your cards right."

"Oh, believe me, I will," I murmured, "You'll be documenting things?"

"Of course. You owe me a favor," Vincent said, "I'll collect later."

The knowledge burned in my consciousness the rest of Wednesday and Thursday morning before work. I didn't wish to appear too impatient, so I left him alone in my office for the first fifteen minutes of the day. I walked in at twenty past eight, seeing that he was working hard, as usual.

Gilbert turned at my entrance, and told me that my afternoon meeting had been moved to half past nine this morning. I sighed, wondering if this was payback from the office manager for making her move Gilbert's desk.

"You're very efficient," I said, "and I've been very pleased with your performance so far this week."

Gilbert smiled and blushed beautifully and stammered, "Th-thank you, Mr. Marnes."

I continued, as if he hadn't spoken, and said, "Which is why I find it disturbing that you lied so much on your résumé, Mr. Chandler."

"I'm not a bad person, Mr. Marnes," he said earnestly, "you have to believe me. I'm not."

I paced closer, looking down at him, still sitting down. He wore a white button-up shirt with khakis, as he had all week. With my new insights into his finances, I suspected that it was the same shirt, the same pants.

"Oh, I know you're not," I said, "but that doesn't really matter, does it? All that matters is what the HR department would think. Policy on the matter is quite clear. Of course, what people usually lie about is being convicted of a felony."

"But its not like that," he objected earnestly. He was such a wide-eyed innocent. Marketing wasn't the business for people like him that believed that the truth mattered.

"The truth doesn't matter," I said gently, "only people's perception of the truth matters. And once HR finds out… well, company policy is quite clear."

"You could tell them that I'm not… that I didn't…"

"But you could be lying to me. I could be wrong about you." He was frozen in front of me, like a deer in a hunter's scope. This close, I could smell him: soap and boyish sweat, and I could see the flecks of green in his eyes. I caught his chin with my index finger and stroked my thumb across those plump lips. A startled squeak passed his lips and he blushed a bright, deep pink. "Do you want to show me what a good boy you can be?" I leaned close to him as I asked the question, crowding him against his cheap office chair. He didn't answer me, just followed my every move with his big, sweet, frightened eyes. "Say yes," I continued, "and well," I waved the folder in the air, "what HR doesn't know won't hurt them. Say no, and I guess you'll have to find another job."

I watched his eyes dart around, seeking an exit, but I'd trapped him. "Yes," he said in a low tone. I'd not have believed I'd heard it, except that his lips brushed against my thumb as he answered.

I closed the folder, and backed away from him a little bit. "Get down on your knees," I said, "and ask properly." He still had that startled rabbit look on his face, and he hadn't moved from where I'd crowded him in his chair. "Now, boy," I barked.

Gilbert half-fell and half-slid out of his chair and onto his knees. His pretty tongue darted out to lick his plump lips, and his adam's apple bobbed nervously. "Please sir," he began. The sir was a nice touch. I liked to see his lips shaping that word. "I'll do anything."

"Anything?" I asked in a silken sharp voice.

"Yes," he said.

"Call me sir," I told him.

Gilbert swallowed again, and said, "yes, sir," in a very low voice.

"I can't hear you," I said.

Finally, a spark of anger lit his eyes, and he bit out, "Yes, Sir."

"Much better," I answered, and buried my fingers into his soft hair. "Good boy." I stroked him, much like I would a cat, or a dog. "For your first task," I stated, my cock starting to pulse at the idea, "I want you to go into the bathroom, remove your underwear, and give them to me. You have one minute." I tapped the stopwatch button on my expensive watch.

Gilbert scrambled to his feet as if I'd zapped him with electricity. He made it out of the bathroom at the fifty-ninth second, but his plaid boxers weren't in my hand until the sixty-first second.

"You're late," I stated, dropping the boxers into my briefcase. "I'm going to have to require that you to stay an extra hour today. Unpaid, of course."

"Yes sir," Gilbert said, remembering his earlier lesson about volume.

"Back to work," I said, gesturing at his desk. He sat down and resumed work on the tracking spreadsheet he had to update every day. He squirmed in his chair, unused to sitting without his boxers on.

During the boring meeting, mostly about how everyone was throwing away paperclips they should be saving, and about how the USPS rate was set to increase another couple of cents… I stopped listening. Instead, I focused on the boy in my office. He wasn't required to attend these meetings, the lucky darling. While the office manager droned on, I fantasized about what to do with Gilbert.

I didn't return to my office until a quarter to twelve, almost time for him to clock out. He was still at his desk, working on the promotional literature for a seminar later in the summer. His head jerked around when I opened the office door. "Were you good while I was gone, boy?" I asked.

"Yes sir," he said. "I updated the tracking spreadsheet, and confirmed the location for the seminar. I also collected a list of caterers in the area, like you requested. I emailed it to you."

"You were a good boy," I said. I petted his hair again, and decided he should grow it longer. "I think I'll take you out to lunch."

"Thank you, sir," he said.

"However, your penalty hour doesn't start until after lunch."

"Yes, sir," Gilbert said.

"Now, it's a business lunch, so you're just there to observe, understand?"

Yes, sir," Gilbert said.

"It is informal though. You won't need you tie," I stated, and tugged off, finding that it was a cheap clip-on. I tossed that in the trash.

"But," he started to object.

"Clip-on ties are cheap," I said, "No one of quality wears them."

Gilbert swallowed whatever objection he was going to make. I flicked open the first three buttons of his shirt, revealing a slice of bare skin. I pulled him to his feet, and walked around him. He'd done a sloppy job tucking his shirt into his pants, leaving strange lines over his ass. I couldn't have that.

"Retuck your shirt," I stated once I was in front of him again. "I don't like the way it wrinkles over your ass."

Gilbert's mouth dropped open, and then he snapped it closed. Jaw clenched and eyes furious, he stalked towards the bathroom.

"Did I tell you to use the bathroom?" I asked.

Gilbert ignored me, wrenching the bathroom door open anyway. I heard the lock snap into place; luckily enough, I had a master key that I'd swiped from a maid. I opened the door, and he whirled around to face me, eyes wide. I leaned my back against the door, just to let him know that he couldn't leave.

"You were a bad boy. I'm disappointed in you, Gilbert. I expected better." I looked down at my hands, which were large and lightly sprinkled with dark hair, but not too thick-fingered. "I'm not sure you deserve this second chance. You couldn't even keep your promise to obey for a single day."

Without prompting, he dropped to his knees on the bathroom floor and started to beg for another chance. He babbled on longer than this morning while I listened impassively. I'd already forgiven him when he knelt for me, but he didn't need to know that.

"Alright," I said, interrupting his pleadings, "I'll give you another chance. But I don't trust you out on your own. You're going to have to stay here, with me, for the rest of the day."

"Yes, sir," he said.

"Stand up," I ordered. He clambered to his feet and stood before me. I could see the soft hollow of his throat now that his shirt was a little open. "Now, fix your shirt."

This time, Gilbert didn't object. He just unbuckled his belt, and opened his fly. He had to spread his legs to keep the pants from falling all the way to the floor. I was pleased to note that his pale thighs, while muscular, weren't as thick as mine. In the bathroom mirror, I was six feet, five inches tall. I wore an expensive, dark blue suit, custom tailored for my broad shoulders and deep chest. In high school, I'd been an athlete, but I hadn't played in college. However, I still kept up the workout regimen. I was built underneath the suit. Gilbert was a petite five feet, five inches, short enough that I could see over his head. I had black hair, true black that gleamed blue in some lights. My blue eyes glittered beneath heavy eyebrows, and I turned my gaze back to Gilbert.

Gilbert was careful not to flash a glimpse of his cock while he straightened out the shirt, and I thought about making him show me anyway, but I had a whole summer ahead of me to play with him. It could wait. He did up his pants, cinching the belt around his waist. It seemed he wanted to prove himself; he turned around to show me his ass without direction. The lines were much better. I glanced at my Rolex. We had to go, or risk being late.

"Much better," I told him. "Your ass makes even those cheap pants look good."

Gilbert was still spluttering and blushing when I hooked an arm around his waist and pulled him out of the bathroom. The meeting we were going to wasn't all that important. It was more for ego than anything. My father had outsourced the design of the new company website, and the two code boys had called this meeting. The purpose was unclear; I suspected that they wanted proof that they could get attention at senior levels.

Gilbert and I walked to the elevator. We stepped in, alone, and I pressed the 'G' button to take us to the ground floor. Sometime, I'd have him suck me off in that elevator. I decided that now was as good a time as any to find out about his previous sexual life. "Have you ever been kissed?" I asked.

"Yes, sir," he replied.

"Fucked a girl?" I pressed.

"I – no," he stuttered, and tacked on, "sir."

"Boy then?" I asked.

His poor face was bright red, but again, he managed a negative answer.

"Has anyone else even touched your dick?" I asked.

"No," he mumbled, "sir."

"Fucked your ass? Your mouth."

This time, he was so shocked and embarrassed that he only shook his head.

I just smirked at him. He squirmed uncomfortably, looking down at the carpeted elevator floor. I would be the first to touch him, which was fine with me. The elevator dinged open, and we walked out onto the street. If he was pretty under the fluorescent lights of my office, he was stunning out in the sunlight. His caramel hair lit up, revealing copper highlights. I was tempted to kiss him, but that would diminish the shock of what I planned for the restaurant.

2

Gilbert wound through the crowded metropolis streets in the wedge I created in the lunchtime throngs like a duckling behind its mother. The restaurant that the developers had chosen was close, thank god. In this traffic, a car was utterly useless. I recognized the web developers from an earlier meeting, during which they'd pitched their initial proposal. They'd snagged a booth, sitting together on one side. That left Gilbert and I with the other side.

Gilbert slid in first, and I after him, so that he was trapped against the wall.

"Who's he?" Roger asked, gesturing at Gilbert with a curly fry.

"My intern," I replied with a smirk, "He's here to get an idea of how the business works."

The two developers nodded, accepting this, and then ignored Gilbert altogether. A harried waitress scurried over.

"Do you know what you want?" she asked, pen poised over her pad of paper.

"Just water to drink," I said smoothly, "and two rubens for us."

"Coming right up," she said, took our menus, and bustled away.

I dropped my left hand under the tablecloth, and rested my palm on Gilbert's upper thigh. His solid flesh warmed the cheap khaki fabric, and I felt him shift his hips minutely under my hand. If we'd been alone, he probably would have squirmed away, but here, his natural desire to avoid attracting attention kept him in line. I squeezed the meat of his cock through the fabric, and he crossed his legs defensively.

Meanwhile, Roger and I talked about the website. His partner remained silent, as he had at the other meeting. I couldn't recall even an introduction to him, and my memory for names was usually excellent.

"Spread your legs," I breathed into his ear.

He didn't move. He thought he could get away with disobeying me, just because of the other people in the restaurant. I eased a pocketknife out of my pants pocket, extended the longest blade, and pressed it against the meat of his thigh. He responded to the implied threat and parted his legs.

I continued to tease Gilbert while I spoke of mundane things. His struggle to keep his face blank entertained me. Perhaps if he were less meek, he'd stand up now, make a scene, or maybe it wasn't meekness, maybe it was the growing hardness in his pants. He was so young, so inexperienced, and he'd be so confused and ashamed that his body could respond to such stimulus.

Our food arrived, and I gave Gilbert a break while I ate the grilled sandwich. He bit the bread and meat brutally, chewing more energetically than necessary. I could almost hear him grinding his teeth. Was it anger? Sexual frustration? I hardly cared. As soon as he finished his sandwich, I returned to palming his cock.

I unzipped his fly, and he couldn't hide a whimper when the metal teeth of the zipper scraped against his cock.

I stopped moving my hand; I simply rested it against the heated length of him. He kept utterly still. Perhaps he thought I would get bored with this unmoving touch. Time dragged on and I knew I'd won this little competition when Gilbert thrust his hungry, damp prick up against my hand. His eyes had glazed over, and all he cared about was getting release. He'd completely forgotten the setting, which was something I'd have to explore further. I let go of him and draped the arm over his shoulder and leaned close to his ear.

"Get yourself together, boy."

The look he gave me was pure murder. Some minutes later, he squirmed, and I knew he was tucking his prick away. He happened to do up his zipper during a lull in the conversation, so the whole table heard the snick of the metal teeth. I saw a hot blush spread across his cheeks, even staining his ears pink.

"Thanks very much for meeting with us," Roger said, hauling himself out of the booth, "I've got a much clearer idea of what you all want from your website."

"I'm glad I could help," I replied. I stood as well, and we shook hands. Roger and his silent partner left, but I lingered a little. I glanced at my watch. The meeting had lasted three quarters of an hour. I had fifteen minutes before I had to be back in the office.

"You," I said in a low voice hidden by the noise of the rest of the diners, "Are quite the horny little slut, aren't you?"

"No," he said in an equally soft voice.

"Who would believe that? Just look at that wet spot on the front of your pants."

He blushed again, even more deeply. "You made me," he protested.

"And you liked it," I said, "I'd say the evidence of that is quite clear."

He shook his head, but he couldn't hide from the widening of his pretty hazel eyes or the flare of lust that pulled a gasp from his mouth when I squeezed him again. "Not here," he pleaded with me.

"Tell me what a slut you are, tell me how much you love it when I touch you."

After an agonizing delay, he forced the words out in a low, humiliated tone.

"We'll go back to work," I said.

I used the crowds as an excuse to keep a hand on the small of his back, guiding him toward the office building. He kept his eyes fixed on the ground and didn't see how some of those we passed spotted the damp patch at his groin and smirked.

We came out of the elevator together, and the office manager frowned at me. "He's only budgeted for part time," she said, spoiling for a fight.

"He's only getting paid for part time," I soothed her. "but he's spending extra time here, because he's such an ambitious young man."

She frowned, but could find little to argue with. He was an intern, and the idea was that we would find dedicated, long-term employees through the hiring of them. "That true?" she asked Gilbert.

He nodded, swallowed, and said, "Yes."

"It's funny," she said, "how the female interns never seem to feel that same need to spend extra time with you."

"Is it?"

We looked at each other, and she eventually looked away. Perhaps she had some instinctive suspicion of me, but these were hard economic times and she was a single mother of three children under the age of ten. "I won't be approving any overtime," she said.

"I wouldn't expect you to," I said.

Gilbert and I continued to my office, and I closed the door.

"I could sue," he burst out, "what you're doing is sexual harassment."

"It all comes down to character," I said in a deliberately patronizing tone, "because you haven't got any witnesses. Did I harass you or did you flirt with me? Am I taking advantage of an innocent, or am I the victim of a gold-digging little whore?"

Gilbert stared at me, wide-eyed and finally he said, "but the truth…"

"The truth is what my lawyers create in a jury's mind. And you're already a liar on paper."

"Justice," he began weakly.

"Is a delusion of those without any real power," I said. I walked around my desk and powered up the computer, leaving Gilbert to stand in the center of the room.

"I could get another job," he said in a challenging tone.

"Soon enough to avoid getting kicked out of that ratty little motel you call home?" I asked. He didn't answer and I went back to work while he contemplated just how far from homelessness he was.

I shuffled through my emails and looked incredulously one particular message, sent from HR, about how we should all send out less emails. It seemed too absurd to exist, and yet, there it was. Anyone that thought corporations did their work efficiently had clearly never worked for one.

Gilbert took a few steps toward the door leading out into the main office, and then stopped.

I began to read the more important correspondence about the hospital acquisition project. Insurance prices had gotten to the point that it was easier to own the doctors and pay them to treat the employees.

"What do you want me to do sir?" Gilbert asked. I looked up at him.

"For now, go into the bathroom, take off all of your clothing, and wait for me on your knees," I said, "I'll be along presently."

I composed an email to report the gist of the lunch meeting I'd just had to the relevant individuals within the company. I locked the door.

I walked across the room to open the bathroom door. Gilbert knelt on the cold tile floor. His legs weren't spread as wide as I'd have liked, and his hands were cupped over his genitals, which made me frown. He'd left his clothes crumpled on the floor.

"Your work clothes will get wrinkled," I said, "Go hang them up in the closet and return to me."

Gilbert's eyes widened at the idea of going out into my office undressed. "They might see," he protested.

"Best be quick about it then," I replied.

He closed his eyes and his jaw worked with emotion. I watched him force himself to pick up his shirt, watched him clutch it in front of his groin, watched him edge toward the door. He had no idea that the outer door was locked and that there wasn't a chance of anyone simply wandering in. I enjoyed his fear.

"Don't make me do this," he begged, "please."

"You haven't earned any indulgences from me," I said. Once he got into a mindset of pleasing me, it would be difficult for him to escape it. At first, it would be easy to earn rewards, but it would get more difficult once he was more entangled.

"Please sir," he repeated.

I didn't answer at first. I simply looked at him, all soft white skin and thin frame. "You keep promising you'll do anything to keep your job," I said quietly, "Are you a liar?"

"No," he said.

"Prove it," I said.

He opened the door and peered out nervously.

"I'm getting impatient," I told him.

Finally, Gilbert hustled out of the bathroom, the naked globes of his ass jiggling prettily. When he returned, without the shirt, he was waddling awkwardly, his hands clutched between his legs. It amused me to make him make a separate trip for each shoe, each shock. By the time he finished, he'd run the distance between here and the closet twelve times. He knelt in front of me, panting a little, his hands still covering his privates.

"I'm glad you decided to obey me in the end, Gilbert," I said, bending slightly and running my fingers through his soft, clean hair, "but you were slow about it. You're going to need to learn to be quicker to obey me."

"But somebody might have come in," he said.

"That isn't your concern," I said, "Your only concern is what I order you to do. Is that clear?"

"Yes," he said faintly.

"Good. Now, hold your hands behind your neck in a straight line with your shoulders." I swear, he blushed down to his bellybutton at the command, but he did what I asked, showing me his trim body. There was something oddly raw and innocent about the full bush around his soft, pink cock, even though the hair meant adulthood. His balls framed his cock prettily; in the flaccid state, they were nearly the same length. My eyes skimmed up his soft-looking belly to his pert, quarter-sized nipples. I wondered how sensitive they were.

I settled my weight on one leg and nudged my other foot against the inside of his knees. He got the message and parted his legs further. It was a particularly exposed position. I walked behind him, looked at the curve of his spine, the clench of his ass, the line of his shins against the stark white tiles.

I was likely the first person that had ever seen him like this. I would leave my mark on him, would torment him even after we parted company. He was a fine-looking little creature, but he probably wouldn't interest me any longer than the others had.

I walked back around to the front of him and bent to pull his chin up to meet my eyes. "When I tell you to kneel, this is what I want to see."

He nodded.

"Go and crawl under my desk," I ordered.

This time, Gilbert knew I was serious about having him go out into the public area of my office naked. He scampered across the carpeted floor, but in his haste, he knocked against the corner of my desk, sending a coffee cup full of cheap ballpoint pens to the clattering floor, and they scattered everywhere.

"I don't like messes," I told him and seated myself on the end of my desk.

"I'm sorry," Gilbert said, "I'll clean them up." He tipped the mug back upright and reached for a nearby cluster of pens.

"With your teeth," I said, recalling his lips wrapped around them earlier in the week.

His ass rose up in the air as he lowered his mouth to the floor. It was a nice ass, plump and round enough to quiver in the air as he picked up pen after pen to deposit in the cup. As I watched his shins slide over the carpet, I knew they'd be growing red from the friction. I liked his milky skin. Every little embarrassed flush and small scratch showed so clearly on it.

He had collected all of the closer ones, and now he had further to crawl for each one. The afternoon sun cut broad swaths in the carpet, and when he crawled across them, the soft hairs on his body gleamed.

"You look quite the little slut, with your ass stuck up in the air like that," I observed as he dropped one of the last pens into the mug. The statement surprised him, and he turned his head quickly, knocking the mug over again.

I laughed and he looked ready to cry from shear frustration. "You are a very clumsy boy," I observed, "You're going to have to learn better control."

"Why are you doing this to me?" he demanded.

"Because I can," I said.

"I think I'd rather be fired," he announced, getting to his feet and walking toward the closet.

I slid down off the desk and held him from behind, enjoying the way he squirmed and struggled in my arms. He froze when I cupped his balls in my hand and I pressed my mouth to the shell of his ear. "I wouldn't be a hasty little slut. One way or another, I will have you, and if I were you, I'd keep the job. Five days a week, you have to come to work looking healthy. If you quit, well, who's expecting you to be anywhere?"

"You wouldn't…" he didn't finish the sentence, but I could: kidnap me, rape me, and kill me. I wasn't above the first, and I preferred willing, if coerced, partners, and I wasn't a murderer, but he didn't know any of that.

"Do you want to find out?" I stepped back, "Go on. Leave. Find out if escape really is that easy."

He looked at the closet door again and closed his eyes. I think that he was trying not to cry. "Why are you doing this to me?" he asked again.

"It entertains," I replied, "Now, I think you have a mess to clean up, boy."

I sat back down atop my desk and watched him crawl over the floor again. It was a sight I wouldn't soon tire of; it made me feel powerful to know that he did this because it was what I required of him.

Finally, he had picked up all of the pens, returned them to the coffee cup, and rose up on his knees to place the coffee cup back on my desk.

"I'm glad you completed the task," I said, threading my fingers into his soft, pale hair, "but I think you could have done a better job. Where do you think you had room for improvement?"

Gilbert gaped at me; doubtless within his own mind, the act of doing that at all was more than enough. "I guess I shouldn't have knocked it over the second time, sir."

"True enough," I said, "but I'm looking for more than that."

"I don't know," he said, a hint of frustration sounding in his voice.

"You'll come to learn that there are times when I wish you to be slow and sensual about your orders, and times when I wish you to be quick. This was one of the latter."

"But my legs hurt," he protested, showing me the red rawness the carpet had left on his pale skin.

"That is hardly the first time you will suffer for my pleasure. Now, I believe I wished you to be under my desk."

"Yes sir," he mumbled and crept beneath the computer.

I sat down and said, "Take off my shoes and socks."

"Yes sir," he said in a puzzled tone.

He slid the loafers from my feet, and then his small fingers brushed against my skin when he removed the socks.

"Give me a tongue bath," I told him, "Be very thorough." I pressed my right foot forward, until I came into contact with his chin; I could feel him hesitating, warm breath ghosting over my bare foot. "You will be sweet for me, won't you?" I added with a hint of warning in my voice.

Finally, Gilbert lifted my right foot, and touched it to his lips. I required it less for my own enjoyment, but more to crystallize his position in relation to me. It reeked of servility, subjugation, and surrender; it kept his teeth further from more vulnerable parts of my anatomy.

The phone rang, and with an effort, I put the sensations of his tongue to the back of my mind. "Hello," I said coolly.

"Hello, son," my father said. If there was a worse person to have called me while Gilbert lapped at the arches of my feet, I couldn't think of them. "Bloody bureaucrat at Gate 7 has been getting zealous about the inspections again."

Ah yes. Gate 7. It was the portal between the metropolis and the airport. Any shipment that was flown in from the other cities had to go through that gate. When the inspectors started holding up shipments, one could try one's luck complaining through official channels, but that would only end up costing more in bribes than simply speaking directly to the inspector in question.

"I'll see to it," I said.

"I already sent a man around with cash," my father continued.

"It isn't money that this one wants," I replied.

"What is it then?"

"You're likely better off not knowing," I answered, and my mind flitted back to my foot briefly; he'd taken my largest toe completely inside his mouth.

"Tell me, Daniel," he said, in that firm voice. If I didn't, he'd probably have me followed just to find out.

"He's got a thing for teenage boys," I said, "but he's married, so he won't risk a prostitute."

"Pervert," my father said, but without any particular heat or malice. "You've clearly taken care of this discretely in the past; do so again."

"Yes father," I said.

As usual, he hung up without saying goodbye.

Gilbert switched to my left foot, and my right began to feel chilly and a little sticky. I found myself strangely reluctant to use him as a bribe, even though he would clearly be the most expedient solution to this problem. He wasn't quite like the others. They'd all had a parent, a guardian, a friend, somebody that expected them home by a certain time. Gilbert didn't have anybody. He could be mine for as long as I wanted to keep him.

3

Gilbert's tongue moved slowly and sloppily over my feet now that he was tiring. I glanced over my inbox again and saw nothing urgent. I'd head out for the day and deal with the problem at Gate 7. I picked up my cell phone and sent Patrick, the inspector thereat, a text message: Usual time, usual place?

Almost immediately, it trilled with an answer: Yes. We would meet tonight, at nine, at my place. Now, I just had to procure a boy for him. I looked at the clock in the corner of my computer. It was two in the afternoon. I had seven hours.

Where was I going to find a boy over the age of sixteen with a clean bill of health? If I'd had more notice, I'd have made a trip out to the suburbs, but I'd just go to St. Gregory's. I called my driver and made arrangements.

St. Gregory's was a church, several hundred years ago. These days, it was a whorehouse; it generally recruited off the streets and out of the suburbs. My contact there would doubtless provide me with something fresh and clean for the right price. More than that, it was time Gilbert found out just where he could be in if he were alone in this city.

"Come up into my lap," I said and slid my chair back so that he would have room to stand. He emerged from under the desk with angry tears glittering on his long eyelashes.

Time to do a little bit of damage control, I thought. I would have to do at least a small amount of maintenance if I expected him to perform well. "You pleased me," I said and rested my hands on his waist and stroked my thumbs over the dip between hip and groin. "You have a very sweet mouth."

"I want to go home," he said miserably and turned his back on me. He made little sniffling noises and his shoulders shook as he leaned into the desk.

I stood and turned him firmly to face me. He cried rather prettily, without the runny nose or blotched skin that some suffered. "Where did you come from?" I asked, though I didn't care all that much.

"The polygamist part of Utah," he sniffled, "When I turned eighteen, they said I had to leave."

"As long as you're good," I said, running a thumb up the softness of his cheek to the ridge of his cheekbone as I followed the track of a tear, "you'll always have a place to stay with me."

He swallowed and nodded. I sat and drew him down to straddle my lap. I liked the lascivious contrast between his bare thighs and dangling prick and my own suit.

"We're leaving the office early today," I said and reached over idly to tweak at one of his nipples. His lips parted and he sucked in a surprised breath. As I continued to play, he began to stiffen and then he reached for his groin. I caught his wrists. "That's mine," I said firmly, "no touching without permission, even to take a piss."

Gilbert frowned and looked like he wanted to object, but all he said was, "yes sir."

"We have to go and get another boy, as a party favor for a friend."

"That's wrong, sir," he said indignantly.

I twisted and pulled on his nipple hard enough to bring fresh tears to his eyes. "It really isn't your place to make that kind of judgment," I said, "All I really want from you is obedience. Is that understood?"

He was lovely in that moment of pain, his whole body arched forward in an attempt to relieve it, and his lips parted to answer: "Yes sir."

"Good," I said and released him. "Put my shoes and socks back on."

He slipped down to my feet again and slid each sock up my ankle and then slid the loafers back onto my feet. I turned the computer off.

"I should make you run out of the building naked," I commented in an offhand tone. "Would you like that – everyone getting a look at you?"

"You can't," he said, but there was a tremble in his voice, as though he didn't entirely believe it.

The phone rang. It was the office manager. I didn't really want to talk to her, but I supposed that I had to.

"Hello?" I started to pluck at the other nipple and he put both hands over his mouth to stifle a moan. He looked furious.

"Mr. Marnes," she said, "We've talked about you clearing out early. It sets a bad example."

No, I wouldn't share him. Patrick would never notice or care about this exquisite sensuality of fury and passion bottled together in his eyes. I had other friends who would appreciate such a display to the fullest.

"I need to deal with an issue at Gate 7. Bother my father's secretary, if you really must," I said.

"Very well," she said in a tight tone, and then her voice lowered, "Don't think that I don't know about what you do in there with those boys, Marnes."

I touched the damp tip of the boy's flushed prick lightly. He bit his lip to keep his sounds inside.

"I teach them the ways of the world," I said virtuously.

She made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat and hung up. I shrugged and dropped the phone in the cradle.

"She could have heard," he objected. "Don't do that."

"You can't fool me," I said, "You loved every second of it." I ran a finger from the base of him to the tip and he stared at me with wide eyes and his hips squirmed in lust. "Now, go get dressed."

I really had to buy him some more interesting clothes, I thought, looking at the blandness of khaki pants and a white button-up shirt.

I unlocked the door and he stared up at me. "It was locked the whole time?" he asked after a moment.

"Oh yes," I confirmed.

He frowned. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I found it entertaining not to," I replied and opened the door. His own reticence in front of an audience effectively ended the conversation.

We met the driver on a side street a few blocks from my building. Traffic was still bad but it wasn't the gridlock of the central downtown area. Gilbert and I sat inside. It would take a while to get there, and I wanted some entertainment.

"Strip," I said.

Gilbert took off his shoes and socks and then hesitated. He swallowed nervously and his eyes roved over the windows.

"Be sweet for me," I reminded him.

He gave another agonized glance at the windows before he closed his eyes and worked his fingers over the buttons of his shirt. The pants were even harder for him to surrender. His brow furrowed and his fingers shook as he dropped them down over his thighs, slid them from his ankles. It was a performance the most practiced of whores couldn't have managed, especially when he instinctively curled up to shield his own nakedness.

"Boy," I said. His eyes fluttered open and he crept across the carpet to my lap. He felt very vulnerable – the soft trembling of his thighs, the quivering of his lean stomach beneath my hand. "You're mine, are you not?" I asked.

"Yours," he agreed in his small, meek voice.

"Kiss me," I said.

In its way, kissing was more intimate than sex. There were many whores that would do many, many perverse things, but not that. Kissing was something for lovers.

It was no wonder that he hovered in front of my face, close enough for the warmth of his breath to slide across my lips, but not touching, not yet. I let him work himself up to it.

Just a brush of his lips over mine at first, so light, that I hardly knew it was there. I threaded one hand into the hair on the back of his head.

"I don't know what to do," he admitted.

"Pay attention," I said and pulled his head forward and suckled his lower lip into my mouth. I felt him do the same for my upper lip, and then felt the tentative caress of his tongue on it. He let instinct guide him, and soon the phrase 'kissed breathless,' began to hold some weight. We would part, panting and flushed, before coming together again. Soon his lips were swollen from it and his hair was wild in the disarray my fingers made.

"It was never like this before," he said softly. He looked quite debauched, but in his eyes dwelled only the innocent wonder of one that had never lost himself in the mouth of another.

We continued kissing. He was, indeed, a fine little creature, lithe and sensual and passionate when one took the time to coax it from him. He would have been wasted on a crude man like Patrick. This youth, my boy, was something to be savored. He was something for slow consumption.

The driver surprised me when he announced that we had arrived at St. Gregory's. I had been lost in his sweet little mouth as well, and I couldn't remember the last time I had surrendered to sensation that much. The former church, present-day whorehouse was a large, reddish brick structure that still had many of the original stained glass windows passing judgment on those within.

"Get dressed," I said, "Leave the shirt in the car."

Gilbert swallowed but did as instructed and we stepped out into the street. I kept a possessive arm around his waist and he shrank into me as he took in the intentionally intimidating bouncers. They were mostly dark-skinned men with rippling muscles and thick thighs. It would be interesting to watch him with a dark-skinned man: him so slender and pale, the other dark and large.

We stepped inside and the resemblance to a church ended. A girl with glossy brown hair and bright blue eyes sat behind the desk. She stood up she saw us; all she wore was a frilly pink dress cut low enough over her breasts to show the tops of her nipples. The folds of her skirt barely reached past the upper reaches of her thighs. She had the sense to leave off most of the makeup and let her youth speak for itself.

"Looking for a third?" she asked brightly.

Gilbert found this mortifying and buried his face in my chest.

"Adorable," she said.

"I'm after a party favor," I said coolly, "I know Sadie Sphinx."

"Card?" she asked.

I handed it over and she scanned it. "Go on back, I'm sure you know the way," she said, holding the card out.

We walked down the hallway, and into the main room; Gilbert gaped, wide-eyed at the debauchery he could see in the low-lit public spaces of the club. His eyes were drawn to a tangle of too many limbs to figure out just how many people were in it.

"I bet you'd love it," I murmured into his ear, "to be had out here, where they could all watch."

He gave me an alarmed look, but under it was the parted lips and the twitch of interest between his legs. We would return someday.

Down another hallway, up a set of stairs, and at the end of yet another hallway was where she worked. Meredith Anders or, as she called herself, Sadie Sphinx, was the madam. She was a tall, full-figured woman, with a strong-featured face.

I found her in her office, behind her desk, and with a lap full of naked girl, as usual. This one was an exotic looking specimen: Japanese, Indian, and Caucasian at least. The girl squeaked, and shook her head to make a dazzling length of long, black hair fall over her brown breasts.

Meredith did something painful between the girl's legs that had her gasping and letting her hands fall to her sides. "What did I tell you?" she asked.

"My body is for the customer," the girl murmured.

"She was quite the little princess back in India," Meredith said, "until some enemies of her father kidnapped her and got rid of her."

Gilbert turned his face into my chest. I think he was beginning to understand what sort of place this city was.

What a vicious irony, if he saw me as his savior from it.

"I'm looking for a boy," I said, "to take back to my place for the night. The more inexperienced, the better."

"Looks like you've already got all the sensitive virginal nerves you need," she said, looking at Gilbert.

"I need a party favor," I said, "and he's not for sharing."

"Tell me about the party," she said and slipped her fingers into the girl's mouth.

"Patrick is a married city bureaucrat. I'm sure you know the type. Mostly straight, but wants a bit of boy on the side. He doesn't have much in the way of finesse. He won't take an obvious whore, because of the wife."

"There's Dennis," she said thoughtfully, "He's quite fresh to all this. I'll bring him." She tugged the girl along with her by a handful of her hair.

Gilbert still clung to me and I could feel him trembling. "Do you understand now? What a dark city you've landed in?" I asked.

"Yes sir," he said in a tremulous voice muffled by my chest.

"I think you need a man like me looking after you all the time, don't you?"

"Yes sir," he murmured.

"Beg for it," I said. He drew away from me, face turning stiff and proud again. "Or do you think I should trade you in for Dennis for a night?"

Gilbert shuddered beautifully. He looked like a frightened rabbit, caught in a hunter's snare. Gilbert sank to his knees, looking up at me with those big hazel eyes through long girly eyelashes. He rested his hands lightly on my thighs and then clutched at the material of my pants.

"Please sir," he started, and I didn't think I'd ever get tired of hearing him say that. "I need you to look after me. I can't be in this city on my own. Please sir. Take care of me."

"You have to be good," I reminded him.

"I will," he promised.

I nodded and he sprang to his feet and embraced me with an unexpected exuberance. I returned it less fervently and the thought came again: he would be wasted on Patrick.

Dennis, when Meredith brought him in, was naked. He was bulkier than Gilbert, but about the same height. He probably hadn't gone hungry the way Gilbert would have amongst so many children.

His arms were bound at his sides by means of black leather restraints that connected thigh and wrist. They his soft prick look particularly obscene and against the black bindings, his pale skin looked like ivory. I might not have chosen something quite so stark as black leather. Brown ropes maybe, rough enough to bite into that milky skin.

He was gagged as well with a dark red rubber ball that spread pink lips wide around it. He'd been wearing it a while, for I could see the shimmer of drool on his chin, which he was powerless to wipe away. His hair was a reddish gold and he had the deepest doe-brown eyes, glittering with angry tears.

"Feisty, is he?" I asked.

"Quite," she said and sighed, "I do hate to be crude, but I think that a rather forceful experience will mellow him."

I looked at Dennis. I suspected that the problem she had with the boy was that he was queer, not a natural submissive, and that he had a hard time relating sexually to a woman. Gilbert lifted his head and turned to look at him shyly, flushing at the other boy's nakedness.

I ran a finger down the center of Dennis' body, from the hollow of his throat to the base of his cock. His skin felt like silk, and he hadn't any hair on him. Silently, I pulled the gag from his lips. I watched him work his jaw in relief. His lips settled into a natural pout.

"How old is he?" I asked.

"Seventeen," she said.

"He'll serve," I decided.

Moments later, I left St. Gregory's feeling satisfied; Dennis would be delivered to my penthouse at seven, which was plenty of time to get him prepared for Patrick.

4

"Where to, sir?" Ilya asked with a strong Russian accent. He was my driver and I liked him for his fierce loyalty, first to his wife and two children, second to me. As long as I didn't endanger the first group, he was mine, utterly. He never made comments about the strange destinations or the young men and I could trust his discretion after these years of service during which he hadn't betrayed me.

"What's that motel you're staying at?" I asked, looking down at Gilbert.

"It's called the Pink Flamingo," Gilbert answered.

"I know the place," Ilya said. He opened the door and Gilbert and I climbed in.

He closed the door and soon we pulled into traffic.

"I think you know what I want you to do," I said to Gilbert. The sweet little creature crouched to remove his shoes and socks, and then slipped the pants off as well. He hadn't learned to tease with the removal of his clothing; I had the feeling that if I'd watched him alone in his motel, he'd have undressed with the same graceful lack of affectation.

"It is time that we discussed the rules," I said.

"Alright, sir," he murmured.

I patted one of my thighs and he closed the space between us and sat in my lap. I pressed my fingers to his lips and he opened his jaw to allow me into the wet warmth of his mouth.

"You look quite the slut," I observed with intentional cruelty. The shamed way his eyes ducked away from my gaze and the spread of an embarrassed flush across his face didn't disappoint. "That brings me to the first rule: your primary purpose is my sexual gratification. Do you understand what that means?"

I pulled my spit-slick fingers from his mouth and left them on his lower lip. He swallowed visibly. "I have to let you touch me however you like," he said in a small voice.

"That's a start, but there's more," I said encouragingly. I lifted one of his hands to my mouth and tasted his palm. He looked distressed by the touch.

I watched him gather the courage for something and then he said, "I'm not a slut."

I didn't bother arguing with him. I just chuckled and then teased at his prick with a languorous rhythm and lifted an unwilling erection into being. He looked dismayed at the betrayal by his own body. I kept my touches light and sensual to maintain his state of arousal.

"Just take what you want from me and leave me alone," he burst out, "Stop playing these games with me."

"The games are most of the fun, darling. Now, let's have a kiss."

Gilbert began to struggle out of my arms, but I turned the lazy caresses of his prick into a warning squeeze of his balls. He yelped, and went still. I resumed my fondling. Just as he had come to recognize the city, so he was coming to realize just what wicked things I would require of him.

"You promised to be good," I reminded him in a reproachful tone and watched as honest-to-god guilt spread over his face. He pressed his head into my neck. Poor, bewildered thing; I was all he had for comfort. Dead parents, rejected by what family he had left, and now, here he was, in the clutches of a man like me. I'd take care of him, but I did expect his capitulation.

The Pink Flamingo was aptly named, considering the number of plastic birds in its yard, and the ones painted on the exterior. It was next to a strip club, and I'd bet that rooms rented by the hour. I buzzed Ilya and told him to park a ways from the building, so he pulled the car into one of the spots nearest the street.

"Show me your room," I said, "You can wear the shirt and nothing else. Don't button it."

"Sir," he protested, eyes flaring wide as he gauged the distance between us and the building. He was so deliciously unprepared to be sexualized, and yet, he had enough understanding of what I did to feel ashamed.

He slithered off of my lap and pulled on the shirt, which he held tightly around his body, and it was quite apparent that he didn't have a stitch on underneath it. He fished the key from his pants pocket.

"Please," he said, yet again.

"One would think I'd asked you to do it naked," I said irritably.

He picked up on my annoyance and slipped out into the sunlight. His instinct was to scamper across the hot parking lot, but there were other hazards for bare feet like broken glass and stray bits of metal. I followed him at a leisurely pace, glass crunching under the soles of my feet. I glanced at my watch: a little after four in the afternoon. If we hurried here, I'd have time to play with him a little before I had to deal with the twin problems of Dennis and Patrick.

Gilbert unlocked room seventeen and I stepped inside. The Pink Flamingo clearly wanted no truck with the profession of interior decoration. It looked like an amalgamation of all the hideous hotel rooms in the country: the carpet was a nauseating shade somewhere between orange and brown, while the bedspread was a bright blue paisley. I'd have to be color blind to live here for any length of time. The bed was a few feet away from the window, where the heating/air conditioning unit sat noisily spewing frosty air into the room.

I waited for him to step inside and then I closed the door and leaned against it. "Get your things," I said, "Be quick about it."

It didn't take him long because he didn't have much. Once he was done, he knelt at my feet. "Please sir," he beseeched, "May I wear the shoes?"

I looked at the pair of plastic flip-flops that had certainly seen better days.

"Please sir," he said again and rubbed his cheek along the top of my thigh. I was reminded of a cat winding between the calves.

I should reinforce good behavior, shouldn't I? "Alright," I said.

Gilbert flashed a bright smile at me and stood to slide his feet into the shoes. When he swung the backpack up onto his shoulder, it had the effect of drawing up the hem up high enough to flash tantalizing glimpses of his ass.

I couldn't resist fitting two fingers into the gap between his thighs and pressing them forward to the back of his balls. Of course, he gasped at the intimate touch, but he didn't try to squirm away when I opened the door. I liked the feeling of his body shifting around my fingers as he walked.

"Lock the door, and then slide the key underneath," I said impatiently. He did as he was told, and I slid my fingers back into that sweaty place between his legs. My thumb rested on the swell of one buttock while two of my fingers rested on the other. I couldn't have managed more possessiveness in a single touch without adding a leash and collar.

I lived in a high rise with expensive views of the city spread out below the window. I had bought an entire floor of it, up near the top. One couldn't quite build a dungeon in the strictest sense: the underground element was missing. But the middle portion was windowless and one could nearly forget the hundreds of feet between oneself and the earth.

I sent Gilbert to the bathroom to get himself cleaned up, and now, I had everything he owned spread out on the bed. There wasn't much and most of it was clothing, old and worn from many washings. It was the documents that interested me. He didn't have a driver's license, but he did have a social security card and a plastic state-issued ID. He had forty-six dollars and eleven cents, and a library card from Podunk, Utah. He had a card from some greasy spoon: buy twelve meals, get the thirteenth free. I twirled the dial on the safe in my closet and put everything in there.

Without that proof of citizenship, he was powerless to find another job or travel; without the money, he'd be helpless. I looked at the rest of it. He would have to keep the work clothes, at least for the moment. I'd buy him some better things tomorrow. The rest of it could go. He didn't need any reminders that he had ever been anything but mine. I packed it all up, wrote a note for the cleaning service to do what they liked with it and the contents, and carried the backpack to the trash room out in the hallway.

When I returned, I found him outside the bathroom, damp-skinned and clutching the towel around his chest.

"My things are gone," he said.

"Yes, they are," I agreed.

"You took them," he murmured.

"I did," I confirmed.

"Why? It isn't as though I have anywhere to go."

"They were ugly, old things. Hardly befitting of your place as my… house boy? Kept whore? Sex slave? Call it what you like. Now, sweetheart, put the towel away. I'm going to make sure you're clean enough."

His motions as he turned away from me and hung the towel up on the rack had a forced, conflicted quality about them. I ran my fingers through his fine, fair hair first, and then over his face and behind his ears. I lifted his arms up and combed my fingers through the hair under them. Gilbert squirmed away, giggling at the ticklish touch.

He was lovely, when he smiled.

"Be still," I said, but it didn't emerge as sharply as I'd intended. I continued the inspection with idle fingers that ran over ribs and belly, thighs and groin and then said, "Turn around and show me your hole."

Now, Gilbert blushed hot and humiliated. He turned stiffly and parted his cheeks for my eyes. I ran a finger down the crease and he shuddered at the feeling. I touched the little pucker, feeling him instinctively clench against intrusion.

I found myself strangely inclined to put off the penetrative sex for the moment. It was an odd inclination, odder even than the one that had sent me to fetch an inexperienced whore rather than use what I had at hand. Why was this one inspiring these odd, protective urges?

"You'll do," I said and stood back. He turned around again. Was it that wide-eyed innocence? Was it the knowledge that I could keep him as long as I liked, do whatever I liked to him? I wasn't a good man and yet this little flower, I wanted to tuck into a vase rather than tear its petals and crush the rest under my heel.

I pulled the tie from around my neck.

"Lay down on the bed," I said.

I was aware of his nervous swallow, the tenseness in his body as he lay down but didn't relax. He was pretty against the dark coverlet, made of a synthetic fur that was a pleasant caress on the naked body. I could see him testing the texture with one hand.

"Hold onto the headboard," I said. Another nervous swallow as his fists closed around it. Brave little creature; the others always fought or froze or fled. I wound the silk of my tie around his narrow wrists and he gasped at the touch. Again, I was making concessions. If he struggled in earnest, he would manage to get himself free of this bondage. It was hardly more than symbolic.

I did whatever I wanted, I reminded myself. If I wanted to go easy on him at first, why shouldn't I?

I began to undress and watched him while I did it. I sat to take off the shoes, the socks, the belt, and then there was my jacket and the real calculated revelations began. The buttons at the wrists were seen to first, and then the ones down the center of my chest. I opened them one handed, the other sliding into the gap and running down the center of my chest. His eyes followed the movement, mouth open and chest rising and falling steadily.

I tugged the shirt free of my pants and let it fall to the floor. He sucked in an involuntarily sharp breath as he looked at me. I worked hard for the body that bulged with musculature but didn't overdo it. I kept it balanced between strength and endurance and aesthetics as well. Nothing is quite as absurd as a muscular chest and back on a man with spindly legs.

I slid the pants down next, stepped out of them, and slid the underwear down to follow it. Another nervous swallow showed on his throat; his chest began to rise and fall a little faster.

I leaned over him and pressed a kiss to the hollow of his throat. He tasted clean and smelled of my soap and lapped my way higher, to a spot just beneath his jaw where I meant to leave a mark: mine. He moaned when he felt the blunt edge of my teeth drag into the red mark I'd already made.

Up to his mouth and he kissed me eagerly, worked his lips and tongue for my pleasure. Such a sweet little creature. I pulled away and already he looked debauched.

Down again to his nipples. The one I didn't play my mouth over, I had in my fingers. I licked one, stroked the other, suckled this one, pinched the other, nipped this one, twisted that. The touches pulled the loveliest little moans and gasps and groans from his mouth and he arched his chest up to meet my attentions. Hearing them lifted my own passion, but I put it aside. I switched back and forth, mouth here, fingers there, until I only had to brush the lightest of touches over this beautifully sensitized skin to get him to moan.

"Please," he whined.

I sat back to look at him. He was so beautifully wanton: a sheen of sweat gleaming over him and he was achingly red and hard, the tip pressing out of the foreskin, glittering with liquid. I ran a teasing finger down the crease between hip and groin, stopping before he wanted me to.

"What are you begging for, my lovely little slut?"

He didn't have the mind to be offended. "Touch me."

"I am," I said, circling his navel.

"My cock," he whined, "please. I want…"

He trailed off when I touched the very tip of it far too lightly.

"You look lovely," I said, "all hot and bothered. Why should I let that end any time soon?"

"I need it," he said, eyes bright with frustrated lust.

Another wordless whine when I dragged a fingernail over one of his swollen nipples.

"Tell me what a slut you are," I said.

"You make me one," he pleaded, "I'm your slut."

"Charming," I murmured. I pressed two of my fingers into his mouth and began to push them in and pull them out in an obscene parody of oral sex. "The question is, were you good today? There were certainly mistakes made, but I think I'll chalk those over to inexperience. Rest assured, though, I won't always be this easy to please."

Normally, I'd have just held out my hand, let them fuck themselves through it, but I wanted to taste him.

I nuzzled into the sweaty musk at his groin. It was exotic, compared to the whores that were always shaved and often perfumed. It went straight to my groin, recalling memories of boarding school adventures, before I'd gotten caught up in the notion that the one in charge delivered the fucking and didn't receive it.

I pulled his balls into my mouth, so gently, one at a time. He yowled at that feeling.

"More," he wailed.

I licked a slow, teasing little line up the vein leading to the head of his cock and pressed the tip of my tongue into the slit. He wailed wordlessly. I swallowed him down, until my nose was back in that prickly thatch of hair. I had my fingers on his hips, stilling their instinctive upward thrust.

He babbled now and I bobbed up and down the hot length of him. I liked the way he felt sliding over my tongue; I liked the salty taste of him. I let him spill down my throat and he shouted his ecstasy and I couldn't remember the last time I'd swallowed. Probably boarding school.

I lifted my head, once I'd milked him dry, to find that I'd made him sleepy, and his hands were limp against the headboard. I freed them. He frowned and made a whining little noise as he curled up. He was cold. I folded the coverlet over his body, again, surprised myself. Didn't I usually slap them awake and demand my own satisfaction?

Dennis would be here later, I reminded myself; I had to get him warmed up for Patrick anyway.

5

"I'll be locking you in here for the night," I said after we'd eaten and I'd led Gilbert to the door of what I called the boys' room. It was a very minimal space. There was a mattress on the floor and a collection of books. The bathroom was a closet-sized little cubicle containing toilet and sink.

I snaked an arm around Gilbert's waist and pushed him toward the open door.

"Sir," he protested, body stiff and resistant.

"Obey," I said in a hard voice.

"Please," he said and fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around one of my legs. "Please sir," he entreated, "I've been good. You said I was good."

"That can change at any moment," I answered. I was beginning to sound irritated.

"Sir," he quavered.

"Do not make me ask you again," I said and detached myself from his embrace.

He looked up at me with soft, sweet eyes and a forlorn expression. "Please sir," he uttered.

I'd had enough. He would have to learn that there were times to beg and times when the begging irritated me. I gripped his wrist, hard enough that it might leave bruises for tomorrow.

"Let go," he wailed, "that hurts."

He hadn't a choice but to stumble after me as I hurried to the room across the hall. I turned on the lights and tipped him over the seat of the chair, ass up and a hand on the small of his back to keep him still.

"I am going to punish you," I told him, "Can you guess why?"

"I didn't want to obey," he whispered in a tiny, frightened voice.

"That's right, and you whined about it. I am not going to tolerate that behavior."

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Do you accept your punishment?"

"Yes sir," he whispered.

"Five blows," I said, "Count them."

I pulled the belt from my waist and stood back to whip him. I aimed the first one across both buttocks and the belt swished down through the lovely air in a lovely nose and raised a lovely pink welt across his pale flesh.

He wailed at the pain and when he spoke the number, "One sir," his voice shook and I could already hear the tears in his voice.

The second blow landed on the back of his thigh, the tip of the belt swinging in to nip at the tender inner thigh. I wanted to lick that injured flesh and drag my teeth over it.

This time, he only groaned because the pain wasn't a surprise. "Two sir," he said in a voice that still trembled.

I crossed the third blow over the first and he shouted again; the flesh was already so sensitive.

"Three sir," he said when he'd caught his breath a little.

I couldn't resist touching the heated welt that seemed to throb under my eyes. I ran my palm over the injured skin and he hissed and squirmed prettily. I could feel myself getting hard again. I stepped back and walked around to the other side.

The belt dangled behind my shoulder and I arced it down through the air to land on his thigh, to match the welt on the other leg. Instinctively, he pulled them closer together as he groaned again.

"Four," he managed, "sir."

The final blow left its mark low on his ass where he'd feel it sitting down. I wanted to continue, but I had promised only five.

"Five sir," he said.

I helped him to his feet and kept an arm around his waist. He was a little flushed from hanging his head upside down; he hadn't started crying, but his eyes were gleamed wetly. I touched his cheek gently and said, "Are you ready to be obedient, boy?"

"Yes sir," he mumbled.

He still looked upset when I closed the door and locked him in, but I put it out of my mind. Dennis should be here momentarily.

Dennis arrived on time, dressed in a long black trench coat which his handler whisked off him, to reveal a charming little pale pink chemise, the ruffled top of which didn't quite hide his nipples, the lacy bottom of which didn't quite cover the soft tip of his prick. He wore matching ballet slippers with ribbons that tied into sweet little bows at his ankles. He wore gloves of the same color, which bunched his fingers and thumb into a single sleeve, so that he couldn't use his hands.

They'd gone to the trouble of putting glittery makeup on his eyelids and darkening his eyelashes. They'd left his mouth clean though; Meredith knew how much I disliked lipstick on a man. More pink ribbons threaded through his hair.

I didn't have any particular like or dislike of drag. It just was. But he was intoxicating, because he found this so utterly humiliating. It was clear in the tautness of his muscles and the glitter of his lovely brown eyes which wouldn't quite meet mine. I lifted up the hem of the little dress and they'd tied a ribbon about the base of his prick.

Meredith did know me well and Patrick didn't really care what they wore. He wouldn't appreciate the details, but there was no need to change anything.

"When will you be done with him, sir?" the handler asked.

"Come back early in the morning. Say, six."

"Of course," the handler said and bowed his head. He departed, leaving me alone with Dennis.

"You make a very lovely ballerina," I said cruelly, "Quite the sugar plum fairy, I'd say."

He looked furious now, his jaw clenched tightly to avoid saying something that would get him in trouble.

"Turn around for me, sugar," I said. He did.

The chemise scooped down low on his back, and the bare skin was crisscrossed with more ribbons. The bottom of the lingerie didn't quite cover his ass either. Was it usually sold with a little pair of panties?

"Lovely. Are you hungry, sugar?"

"Yes sir," he said in a soft, husky voice. I wasn't surprised. Meredith often didn't feed them before an assignation because food could make a man lethargic.

"Follow me," I said and turned back toward the kitchen.

I wouldn't feed much; just enough that he wouldn't be too focused on his stomach's emptiness. On the counter, there was a carton of ripe, red strawberries. It seemed too much a cliché to pass up and so I rinsed them off in the sink and set them on the table.

I sat down and patted my lap. He sat down, sideways, so that his thigh pressed into my half-erect prick. I hadn't noticed it before, but he wore long pink stockings as well, the kind one glued to the thigh to keep them from sagging down. I did so love the little details like that.

"How long have you been with Meredith?" I asked and found a small fruit to feed him.

"Only a week," he said, "I came from out in the country. I was just waiting for the school bus, and they took me. I want to go home."

"You're a whore now, sugar." I pressed the ripe fruit to his lips. "Best get used to it."

He couldn't resist the sweet smell of it, and his warm, petal-soft lips parted for the berry. "But I don't want to," he said, after he'd swallowed it. "I didn't choose this."

"Not many do, sugar. Whoever you used to be… forget him. Has a man fucked you before?" I fed him another of the fruits.

"No," he said, "I sucked before, with this ring over my mouth so I couldn't close it. They put something up there." He squirmed over my lap, as if remembering the pain of the penetration. "It hurt. I didn't like it." He wanted so badly to be saved. It was quite pathetic, in light of what was in store for this innocent little whore.

I fed him another strawberry. I watched the light in his eyes dim as he realized that I would use him for my own purposes. Pretty and sweet as he looked, I had no compunction about throwing him to the wolves.

"You won't be a virgin in the morning, sugar, that's for certain," I said.

"The first time shouldn't be like this," Dennis said.

"You're a whore, sugar. You go where you're paid to go. You do what you're paid to do."

"I'm scared," he said in a tiny voice.

"I know," I said and fed him another strawberry. I followed it with a kiss. His mouth opened for me almost immediately and he suckled on my tongue; that much of Meredith's lessons had sunk in. He tasted of strawberries. "It's very sweet."

Patrick and I were of different breeds. His craving for men made him feel guilty and therefore angry. He blamed the lithesome young men for attracting him. Irrational, but that was humanity. We didn't meet outside this context. I wouldn't bother with this if he wasn't a petty bureaucrat who used the job for personal gain. It did irritate me to be put in the position of appeasing the little toad, and it had happened more often of late.

I slipped my hand under his skirt and began to fondle him gently. He slid out of my hands and walked several steps away. His chest heaved with his righteous ire, and he looked utterly ridiculous in that little mock ballerina costume, especially how his nipples rose out of the ruffles even further.

I chuckled, which had the effect of deflating him for a moment, and then he grew even more furious at the mockery. I laughed harder. It was as ridiculous as a bunny rabbit leaping to savage one's throat. "Come and sit down, sugar. Your body is for the customer, remember?"

Tentatively, he sat down on my lap again. "I'm sorry," he said "I'm not used to this."

"Let's have a kiss."

Obediently, he lifted his mouth to mine. After a few moments of this strawberry-flavored exchange, I toyed again with his ribbon-wrapped prick. I felt him go very still for a moment, but he didn't try to flee. He was perfectly hairless and the smoothness had a certain kind of pleasantness to it, but it had a contrived quality that I found irritating. There was something far more depraved about the notion of that pink ribbon tangled up in a thatch of hair.

I released his mouth; I'd gotten him hard to the point where the fabric of his chemise draped around it, and the combination of the two looked utterly obscene.

Patrick rang the bell. I walked to it, with Dennis walking beside me. I'd added a supple white leather leash and collar to the ensemble, as well and used a pair of matching cuffs to bind his arms behind his back. I didn't trust his virgin nerves to endure Patrick's crudeness, but the bondage made it easier.

I'd changed as well, to fit Patrick's image of how I should dress. I wore the stereotypical black leather fetish gear that usually came to mind: the vest, the chaps, the boots. I hadn't seriously worn this sort of thing since I was clubbing in my twenties. Back then, I'd thought it was necessary and made me a Serious Top. Wearing it seemed to speed up Patrick's fantasy to some degree, so I wore it when he came around.

I opened the door and there he stood. He was a bald man a few inches shorter than I was with a belly straining the confines of his shirt.

"I'd almost think he was a girl without titties," Patrick said, eyeing him up and down. Dennis flushed and shivered as if he could feel it on his skin. He reached out and pinched one of the little pink nipples in thick fingers. "Quite the little fairy."

A deeper blush flooded down Dennis' cheeks.

"Follow me," I said and turned around.

"You have a nice place," Patrick said.

"Indeed," I said.

"I wish I made your kind of money," Patrick continued.

"Hmm," I said.

I unlocked the door to the dungeon and ran my mind over the script that I would play out to get Patrick out of here soonest. First, he liked to watch, hand down his pants, while I played with them. Second, he liked to the dirtiness of taking a boy whose ass was still filled with another's cum. Third, he liked to do this while strangling the boy. It was strange, not liking him, and yet knowing these intensely intimate things about him, things his wife didn't even know.

Dennis looked round-eyed and distressed as he surveyed the room. The things he did recognize the chains and ropes, knives and whips would frighten him, and the ones he did not would terrify. Patrick sat down, pants already expectantly open. He wouldn't speak now; this was our arrangement. He got to watch, but he made his presence as unobtrusive as possible.

I tried to ignore his panting as best I could.

I helped Dennis up onto a table, and he is Andromeda, chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. No Perseus would come on borrowed winged sandals to rescue this one.

I pushed him down, gentle but firm, so that his tender cheeks pressed into the rough wood, so that his ass rose as the highest point of his body. I bound his wrists to the table, and then his ankles, to make it easier on the poor little thing. It was far less taxing to struggle against bonds than to hold oneself still for abuse.

I pushed the little chemise down to hang around his armpits, and look at his wild eyes. There was room for the smallest amount of reassurance, I decided.

I pressed a kiss to his cheek and murmured into his ear, "Don't worry, sugar, you won't bleed tonight. I promise."

It did relax him. Not enough that he wasn't still very afraid, but he no longer feared that he would die here in this place tonight.

Perhaps I was his Perseus, just a little bit. I had to return him to Meredith in the morning, broken, but not so traumatized that he lost any of the passion that made him valuable to begin with. I had to walk a careful line, one that would satisfy Patrick's wish for violence and my own responsibilities toward this boy.

I brought over a lubricant and began with a single finger stroking from hollow of the back to the back of his balls, lingering over the puckered hole. I was gentle as I pressed my index finger inside, and reached beneath him to play with his cock to distract him from the pain.

He felt tight and he looked discomfited at the alien feeling. He forgot the discomfort when I found what I was looking for and curled my finger just slightly over it. I added the second greasy finger to the first, spreading him wider. He thrusts back into my fingers, as much as he can. He's starting to moan and gasp, uttering the most alluring little noises.

I can feel myself growing hard; it's been a long day of teasing denial of myself with Gilbert. Now, here was the chance to bury myself in this wonderful tightness. I climb up on the table to kneel behind him. His ass is lean in comparison to Gilbert's, but I like it just the same. One-handed, I took out my own prick.

I would rather have had him splayed over me, riding my prick, but this would do well enough.

I added a third finger.

"Please," he whined and I pressed into his sinfully delightful body with inexorable slowness, finding the right angle to brush over the center of his pleasure. I set a slower, shallower rhythm, giving him as much time as I could to get used to penetration before Patrick came and carelessly thrust in and out with an angle and rhythm designed only to please himself.

I could see the bliss writing itself all over his sweet face. I finished with a shout and a heavy pleasure settled over me while I was still buried inside him, and I saw Patrick rise to his feet, waiting for his turn.

I had to keep my wits about me.

I slid out of him, and stood on the floor. Patrick dragged a chair over to help him climb onto the table. I unfastened Dennis' arms, the way Patrick liked it. The other man took off a tie and wrapped it around Dennis' neck as he plunged inside the helpless youth.

I watched, though I did not want to.

I touched Dennis, kept his prick hard. I watched the panic flare in his beautiful brown eyes when the tie pulled too taut. His hands flew up, tried to find purchase on the slippery fabric. I watched his face turn redder. Help me, his lips shaped.

The tie loosened, just enough for a loud, desperate breath. His fingers scrabbled to find purchase to keep it loose, but Patrick had pulled it taut again.

I finished the boy off, and he didn't get to shout for it.

After an eternity only a few moments long, Patrick finished with a grunt, let go of the tie, and the boy fell forward, to catch himself on his hands as he sucked in desperate breaths of air. He had done well.

I unfastened his ankles and began to clean him up, dimly aware of Patrick leaving the room. I pulled the little chemise back down over his body, for what little modesty it allowed.

"Is it always like that?" he asked in a raspier voice.

"No, sugar," I replied.

"You wouldn't have let him kill me," he said, but his voice begged for reassurance.

"That's why I was there, watching," I told him. I led him out of the dungeon and into one of the guest suites. "I'll return for you in the morning."

Dennis nodded, perhaps glad to be left alone. I locked him in; wouldn't do to have the boy wandering around. I found Patrick then, fidgeting by the door.

"Thanks," he said, "I'm glad you always watch. I'm always afraid…"

I nodded; part of me always wondered what he would do without this outlet I gave him. He left then, maybe embarrassed by the admission, maybe wanting to get back to his wife.

I locked the door after him.

Back down a different hall, to the boys' room, and I found Gilbert. Even in the dim light, I could see the soft tracks of tears on his cheeks and bruises on his knuckles. He had beat on the door, the poor little thing.

I lifted him up into my arms and he stirred sleepily. "You came back."

I carried him out into the hall and he added in a tired murmur, "Uncle forgot."

6

I laid Gilbert's slumbering form out on my bed, and fastened a cuff around one slender ankle. Lamb's wool was glued inside the steel circlet to keep it from leaving a mark on his tender skin. I touched his tear-streaked cheeks and considered the sleepy words he'd murmured: You came back, Uncle forgot. It could only be meaningless dream babble, or there could be some dark stain in his childhood.

In any case, I needed a quick shower before bed.

I woke to the alarm's buzzing at a quarter to six. Gilbert mumbled sleepily at the noise and sunk deeper into the pillows. I turned it off and dressed for the day. It was Friday, traditionally a day of jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers in the corporate world. I didn't bother with it. I wore my usual dark suit, crisp white blouse, perfectly knotted tie, and expensive shoes and obnoxiously diamond-encrusted watch.

I left the room and found Dennis, fast asleep, still in the ballerina lingerie, but then, his fingers were still locked in those sheathes. He would have had trouble taking it off. I shook him awake. He blinked his dark eyes at me and sat up, hair mussed and ribbons half-falling out. The chemise was wrinkled as well. I looked at the collar-like bruise Patrick had left there.

"Morning," he murmured. Had he left the 'good' off on accident or by design?

"Your handler should be here very soon, sugar," I said briskly.

Dennis slid out of bed with a wince at his sore behind. I felt a smirk spread across my face. I was the cause of that stiffness.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this," he said.

"What were you expecting? Candles and rose petals?"

"Someone that liked me," he replied.

I didn't argue. I had sacrificed him to my needs and Patrick's and when I was done with him, I'd left him to look after himself and taken Gilbert to bed.

"You really don't like me," he said in a soft, unhappy voice. So he'd been fishing for reassurance.

"You're a pretty little whore, and I had a good time last night. I'm not going to pretend that it meant more than that."

"I see," he said and sounded hurt, but it wasn't my affair. He wasn't mine.

The bell chimed at six on the dot, and I opened it to see the boy's handler. The man stepped inside with an impassive face, carrying the boy's long coat over his arm.

"Good morning," he said, as though reading from a script.

"How are you?" I inquired.

"Well enough. Did he perform satisfactorily?" the man asked curtly. Dennis' face turned hot.

"Quite, yes," I said.

"And would you consider hiring him again?"

"It's possible," I said in an offhand tone and propelled the youth forward with a pair of fingers on the small of his back.

The handler wrapped the coat around Dennis, which hung down low enough to hide the slippers and then he pulled the hood up to hide the ribbons. I could still make out the shadowed bruise from last night's strangulation.

"We hope you return to St. Gregory's in the future," the handler said, and led the boy out into the hall.

"Good day," I said and closed the door.

I walked back down the hall, to my bedroom. Gilbert was still asleep, lying on his stomach. I pulled the covers down in the hopes that chilly air conditioning would do the job of waking him. I looked at the soft bruises from last night's punishment: a couple peered out from between his thighs, while the rest were on his lovely ass.

I pinched him, right over one of the bruises. He made a soft distressed noise and turned over, still asleep. I shook him, and finally, his eyes fluttered open. Wariness stole into his eyes and settled over his face like a mask.

"What do you want me to do, sir?" he asked in a quiet voice.

"You need to get ready for work," I said and reached down to free his ankle from the cuff.

Gilbert nodded and sat up and swung his legs over the bed to stand and stretch. I wanted to see him bound like that.

"Lovely," I said and pressed my palm over his chest; he felt warm and smooth. "Mine. Brush your teeth. I mean to kiss you."

He twitched his lips in what might have been a smile and I heard the sound of his obedience. He came back, wiping stray flecks of white foam from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand.

I sat down on the bed and pulled him into my lap. His legs folded warmly about me and he nuzzled softly into my neck. I threaded my hands into the hair on the back of his skull and pressed him closer as he began to suck and lick at my skin.

It was at that moment that my father walked in.

"Leave your whore for a moment," he said, "we've important things to discuss."

"If you'd give us a moment," I said and the words came out sharper and more irritated at the unexpected intrusion than usual. Gilbert was mine, mine to insult and hurt and abuse. In my arms, he felt unnaturally stiff and still.

"Be quick," my father said and turned and departed in a sharp flare of the suit jacket he carried over his arm.

"Who was he?" Gilbert asked softly.

"My father," I murmured.

"He said…"

"I heard. Take a nice long bath, sweetheart. I'll fetch you when he's gone."

Gilbert slipped out of my arms and I heard the door click shut and then the lock slid into the frame. Usually, I would have insisted that he leave it wide open, much less unlocked, but I could hardly blame him in his wish for security.

I walked out to find my father in the kitchen, starting up the coffee machine. "You took care of the matter about the gate," he stated.

"Last night," I said, "I'll be claiming the expense."

"Of course," he said.

"That isn't why you came," I said while he pulled a cup down from the cabinet.

"No," he agreed, but brushed past the matter yet again. "You seem fond of the boy."

"Rewards and punishments, father. You taught me that."

"Quite," my father answered, "but yet… you made all of the others crawl after you like dogs."

"This one hasn't got anyone to turn to," I said, "I can take my time."

"So long as you don't trust him," my father replied.

"I don't trust anyone," I said. He took the except you for granted even though the four words were bald truth. He had taught me not to count on anyone but myself.

The coffee finished brewing and father poured himself a cup. We looked at each other and he sipped the stuff black.

"And yet," my father said, "Why hire a whore when you've one of your own?"

So he had sent someone to follow me to St. Gregory's. No matter. "I'm selfish."

"No," he said, "you like him."

"Maybe I do," I said.

"He'll take advantage of you, my boy. Scheming gold diggers, the lot of them. You'll see."

I grunted and poured my own cup of coffee. I liked it with milk and sugar. I never usually drank the stuff black unless I was trying to manipulate an impressionable client. If I argued with my father, it was only proof that the boy had too much control over me. "He's just a toy, like all the others. I've got his money, his identification papers… he's well under control."

"Hmm. Well, on to more important matters. I do realize that you're unlikely to marry, but you do need to continue the line, Dan. I've found several candidates for surrogates, all of them healthy."

My father's dynastic obsession rose. Again. He'd brought it up more and more often since turning sixty. "I don't want to be a father," I said, for perhaps the thousandth time.

"I didn't either. Why do you think you had a nanny until thirteen?"

"Don't do anything for free, father. You taught me that. What's a grandson worth to you?"

My father chuckled then. "I'll retire."

"I'll think on it."

"You know I only want you to succeed, son," he said, "to take up the mantle that your grandfather carried before I did, that his father and grandfather bore before him. It's destiny."

"I know father," I said, "but if you don't think I can handle one eighteen-year-old boy, I don't know why you'd entrust the legacy to me."

"Touché," my father murmured. "Take the day off. Get him out of your system."

He swallowed the last of his coffee and started to walk away. I could have the locks changed, I supposed, but then, he would probably bribe one of the maids to make him a copy. Again. It hardly seemed worth the effort, but after he left, I slid chain across the door.

Gilbert lay in the tub, completely submerged but for mouth and nose. My eyes were drawn to the way his hair floated around his face, the way his soft cock shifted a little in the water. I sat on the edge of the tub and looked down at him. I think he heard me, because he sat up a little, wet hair sticking to his scalp.

"Let's get breakfast," I said and stood to pull a towel from the rack.

He stood and pulled the lever to start the tub draining. He squeezed what water he could from his hair and stepped out of the tub. He reached for the towel, but I began to dry his deliciously wet skin myself.

"I can do that myself," he said with a frown.

"I know," I said and continued. His hands clenched to fists when I began to pat his genitals dry. He glowered at me while I rubbed the towel over his head, mussing his hair. I treated him like a child, as though he were incapable of an adequate performance at even this simple task.

"Turn around," I said, and he did, stiffly. A low growl fell from his lips when the towel flicked into the soft, secret little place high between his thighs. "Such a charming little toy," I added as I fit a corner of the towel between his buttocks.

I could see his eyes blazing in the mirror and his lips were pinched tightly between his teeth to keep any unwise words inside. Such a proud little creature.

"We're not going to work today," I continued, "We're going to have lots of fun together."

His eyes widened then and he looked more afraid than angry. Perhaps he'd been looking forward to the slight respite that his part-time shift as my intern would have offered.

We spent the morning at various shops, buying him pretty things to wear for work or play. Most of it, I'd had delivered to my building, but he wore some of them now; a pair of blue jeans with fashionably worn holes offered tantalizing peeks at his bare legs while he walked; a soft red tank top fit tightly enough to show the peaks of his nipples when we were in the air conditioned shops and it showed slices of his midriff as he walked.

Gilbert had been mute during the fittings, silent and sullen while he tried things on, and had hardly met my eyes as I selected underwear for him. He'd been humiliated when the sales girl had remarked on my generosity. She'd correctly divined just who kept who, and he knew that the clothes weren't for him; they were for me to look at while he wore them. Still, he had been complacent, so we'd stopped for ice cream on the way back.

He'd had a little sample of every single flavor of the stuff, finally settling on the salty-sweet butter pecan. One would think he'd never had any before.

He lingered over the ice cream cone, lapping up the drips before they could make his fingers sticky. He made no particular attempt to be seductive about it, and yet he was. There was little escaping the phallic shape of the treat, and he only licked at the rounded end of it rather than taking a bite.

We waited for the light to change across from my building and I leaned in over his ear and murmured, "I think I'd be very happy if you even paid half that much attention to sucking on me."

A startled blush worked its way over Gilbert's cheeks, as if he'd had no idea how he looked. He pressed his mouth to the tip of the treat, suckling on it, and when he pulled away, he'd left an imprint of his mouth, which slowly melted into invisibility. He licked the stray cream from his lips and then lapped at the sweet treat yet again.

"Tease," I added.

He kept sucking, scooping up larger dollops of it with lips and tongue, until it was down to the rim of the cone. We crossed the street while he crunched over the remains.

He was just finishing the last of it when we stepped into the lobby of my building. I had to have a kiss, while his lips and tongue were still cool and sweet. He seemed to like the kissing, judging by the fingers that clutched at my shoulders and way he sucked gently on my lips.

My hand rested on the small of his back and I slipped under the waistband of his underwear and pressed one finger to the beginnings of the dip between his buttocks. Mine.

I pulled away from his mouth rather than deepen the kiss as I wanted to and we walked to the elevator. He curled into me, chilly without the summer's heat on his skin. He didn't look around to see my father come out of the other elevator, with his own piece of arm candy. He didn't see the way my father frowned at both of us.

I walked him into the elevator and pressed the number for my floor. I held him up against the wall and hiked his shirt up around his armpits. I lapped at the already hardened nub of his nipple.

"Not in here," he protested, but his voice had a breathless quality to it and the fingers in my hair weren't trying all that hard to pull me off.

"Now me," I said after a moment and pulled back. His eyes widened, but he lifted my shirt slowly and his soft little mouth latched onto my chest. At first, it was just suckling, but soon, his tongue emerged from behind his teeth and he was teasing me with the very tip of it, swirling around sensitized flesh.

I pressed my thigh between his legs and let him thrust gently against it. His hair felt soft and dry in one hand, and I pressed my fingers into his scalp. I gripped the meat of his ass in the other hand in an effort to encourage his rutting.

"Beautiful boy," I said into the still lifting room, "wouldn't you like it if the door opened, if someone saw you, saw what a darling, wanton slut you make?"

"Oh god," he groaned and then trailed a line of saliva across my chest to latch onto the other nipple. I was hardening too; I wanted him.

"That's it," I breathed, "such a sweet mouth."

We hardly had the presence of mind to tumble out of the little room when the door chimed. I held him against the door to my penthouse and we kissed with open mouths while I fumbled for the keys.

I lifted my mouth away while I searched for the key to the outer door in earnest and groaned aloud when I felt a bold mouth latch onto my neck. "You don't want to do this out in the hall," I gasped.

Gilbert subsided and the lust cleared enough that I could pick out the right one, unlock the door, and take him inside. I pulled the little red shirt from his body and dropped it on the floor. He shook his feet from the sandals and we tugged the jeans down to his ankles, followed by the new black underwear, made damp by his excitement.

"On your knees," I groaned, "suck me."

He knelt and opened my pants, pulled them and the underwear down, and I felt the cool air hit my hot, damp skin. The heat of his wet tongue pulled another moan from my mouth as it slid up the length of me. He explored me with lips and tongue, and slipped the head of me into his mouth and circled me as though I were that damned ice cream.

He tried to take me deeper and gagged. "Use your hands," I grunted, and felt slender fingers wrap around the base while he licked at the head more.

I thrust through his hand into his mouth, and all the while he looked up at me, eyes bright with lust and every bit of him glowed in the sun that spilled down through the skylight. With a shout, I spent myself over his face.

I felt something warm land on my foot and looked down, past his halo of hair to his own groin and the fist wringing the last of his passion from his softening prick.

"Didn't I tell you that was mine?" I asked gently, "that you weren't to touch it without permission?"

"I forgot," he said and his eyes clouded over. "I'm sorry."

"I'll have to punish you," I said.

He nodded.

"You made a mess on my feet," I observed. "Lick it clean."

His revulsion was clear in every line of his body and in the stiffness of his tongue. It wasn't a pleasant taste.

"Get yourself cleaned up. We're going to get all of your new clothes put away. You'll be punished after dinner."

I surprised myself by making room in my own closet for his shoes, his work clothes, his ties; we hauled in another dresser for the rest of it and I watched him fold everything and put it all away. I wasn't going to lose him to my father's paranoia. I'd already lost enough to it.

6.5

Gilbert Interlude

I was allowed a robe in the kitchen, because it was unhygienic to be naked while food was prepared. My feet were bare though, and the stones that were cut into perfect squares on the floor chilled me; I couldn't use the chairs, not without permission, and he'd never said anything about shoes.

Mr. Marnes was starting to make dinner. I thought he liked cooking, since he could certainly afford to hire someone to do it for him. I ate better here than I ever had in my life. We'd had a ranch back in Utah and traded beef and milk and cheese for what we didn't have. I wasn't one of the fathers or one of the favored wives or anybody really, so I never got any of the good stuff. Mostly what I ate back then was the state rations that kept a person alive, but didn't taste all that good.

This morning, he'd fried eggs for breakfast. I'd eaten mine so slowly, in case I never got another again. A half-empty carton of strawberries sat on the table, and I'd only ever heard of those in books. And that bath that I'd taken this morning… I'd expected him to be angry over how much water I'd used just to bathe, but he hadn't even commented. Uncle had locked me in a room for three days just over spilling a cup of water when I was a clumsy thirteen. It was almost like Mr. Marnes and I came from different planets.

Whatever he did to me would never be worse than the gnawing hunger when the dry energy bars didn't last until the end of the month. It would never be worse than dreaming of lakes and waking up to water rationing.

"What are you cooking sir?" I asked.

"Stir fry," he said.

I looked around his shoulder. He was busy cutting the white bits of fat away from a hunk of raw beef. On the counter, there were carrots and broccoli waiting for the knife, as well as strange little whitish balls, with stalks. I touched one of them, and it didn't feel like anything I'd ever touched before. It was soft, but there was a strange texture to it that I couldn't put into words.

"What are these?" I asked, holding up one of them.

"Mushrooms," he answered.

"I read about those in books from before the oil wars," I said. "Are they expensive?"

"I don't know," he shrugged, "I pay someone to do the shopping."

"Must be nice," I said, "I had state rations. They didn't always last all month."

"Marnes Industries makes them," he said, "You probably don't want to know what goes into them."

I took his word for it. He put the thin slices of beef in the pan, turned the heat on and said, "Make yourself useful." He handed me a plastic spatula and I started to push the raw meat around.

A steady tap-tap sounded as he chopped the vegetables into bite-sized segments. The gleam of the knife as it sliced through the broccoli was hypnotic. Eventually, he poured all of that into the pan and took over the stirring.

I went back to watching him. If it were before the oil wars and the famines and the water shortages, would I still be here? Would I have left him if I had anywhere else to go? I didn't know.

There were moments when it all felt very, very good: when he'd said he'd take care of me, when he'd put me in his mouth, when I'd done the same for him. There were moments when I didn't know who I was anymore: the boy crawling after pens in his office seemed a stranger and so did the one that hadn't gotten up and run away when he'd hit me. I didn't even want to think about the secret little thrill I'd gotten during those instances. They were too confusing.

I looked out the big plate glass windows, past the dizzying drop to the street below and over the city. I hadn't lived here long, just about a month. Every day was a tightrope walk; fall down on one side and I was homeless; fall down on the other and I was hungry. Up here, all the struggling and the balancing acts were too small to see, and I'd stay as long as I could.

Maybe by the time he was done with me, I'd figure out how he knew what to do all the time. He seemed to have near complete control over his life while mine seemed like a series of accidents, starting with my own birth.

I pushed the unhappy thoughts away and started a revisionist history, the way the government had over the oil riots and the machine guns and the mass graves. Of course they couldn't erase it all the way, but I was going to make my own history.

Mr. Marnes and I watched each other at the office. I was too shy to do anything about it and he wanted an invitation. He'd gotten impatient, and so he'd asked for my underwear, just to see if I'd give them to him. He'd taken me out to lunch, and then he decided to see what other orders I'd follow. At the end of the day, he took me home, and he'd been appalled to see where I lived, so he took me up here. This was my Cinderella story, even if the prince was Jekyll and Hyde. If I was lucky, maybe it would turn out like Beauty and the Beast.

"Set the table," he said.

I did it the way they did at the better restaurants; empty plates sat in the middle, fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right over the folded paper napkin imprinted with little seashells; two drinking glasses on the right.

"Good," he said and I felt reassured.

7

"Hands and knees, boy," I said once we had left the kitchen and he had put the robe away. Gilbert sank down at my feet without a murmur. My eyes caught on the jut of shoulder blades out of his back and then traveled the length of his spine. He wouldn't look so clean once I was done with him.

I led him to the solid steel door and unlocked it. He crept inside after me, head lifted to look around this new territory. I closed the door and after a moment's thought, locked it from the inside, with a padlock that couldn't be tampered with from the outside. I lifted the heavy oak beam into the brackets as well; I mostly kept it for effect and his wide, fearful eyes didn't disappoint. No one can come in and stop this, the beam said.

I'd decorated the walls of this place with medieval looking weaponry; it was another relic from a twenty-year-old who thought he needed such accoutrements to make himself intimidating. It was on those that his eyes focused, even though I'd need a ladder to reach most of them.

"Up," I said and patted the table, the same one I'd fastened Dennis to last night.

Gilbert clambered up and knelt on the table, eyes wide with nerves. Rope, I thought, to begin with. I had it in black and red and other colors, but it was the untreated brown that I selected. It matched his eyes, the hair at his groin. He kept still while I wound it around him and he let me move his limbs as I willed.

The only sounds were his breaths and that of the rope.

The ropes crisscrossed over his chest and wrapped around arms and shoulders to immobilize his upper body. Ropes wound around his thighs and bound them to his wrists. I'd fed rope between his buttocks, down into the intimate place where the groin ended and the thigh began, and up, to frame his prick and intersect with the rest of them. Finally, I'd tied his ankles down to the table.

I stroked tender nipples, already sensitized from the ropes that framed his lean breast. "Beautiful," I said as he gasped.

I dragged over a stool that would put my mouth at the right level. While he was small like this, I could fit the whole of him in my mouth. I did. I had to hold my jaw wide to accommodate him.

"God," he moaned and I felt him begin to grow and swell, until I had to let his balls slide free of my lips. My tongue worked sinuously over and around heated flesh and I bobbed over the length of him, until he was only moments from completion.

I stood up. He looked almost comically crestfallen as he realized that I would deny him release. I ran my finger teasingly along one of the ropes that disappeared between his legs. I could already see a slight rawness along the bindings.

"Please," he whined.

"I do like to hear you beg for it, slut," I said. I pressed my finger into his slit and spread the dampness down to the base of him, and loved the way he squirmed, despite the chafing of those ropes.

"Please," he babbled, "touch me, sir, please."

"Charming," I said and walked around behind him. I wanted to be out of my increasingly confining clothes, so I stripped and then opened a drawer. I had a silver set of clips, for his nipples. I was rather fond of them, because of the finely wrought chain connecting the two. I could hang little weights from them as well, but I could leave that for another time.

I climbed up on the table behind him and nuzzled into his hair. He smelled sweaty and boyish and desperate. I'd spread his legs wide enough that I could fit my own calves between them, so I did. My own prick pressed against his ass and I could feel the slight prickle of the ropes.

"This is going to hurt, boy," I crooned and looked down his chest as I closed the first of the clamps around tender flesh. He howled and then whimpered as the second approached his vulnerable body and he was utterly powerless to stop me from parting the metal teeth, fitting them against the sweet little nub, and closing the mouth over it.

He sobbed beautifully. I moved around in front of him and began to lick the tears from his cheeks. His eyes fluttered under my mouth as I kissed them. When he opened them again, they gleamed wetly.

"Please sir," he whined.

Was he begging for more or for it all to be over?

I touched his cock again, coaxed it back to that same knife's edge and when I let go, he keened at the loss. He seemed deeply inside his body, attuned to the prickling caresses of rope and the sharp bite of the clamps and the hunger for climax. The pain didn't seem to touch him at all.

I stroked myself while I watched him writhe against the ropes; it was wondrous to imagine the way that the woven fibers would worry at his skin; oh, he would feel this for days. I watched the awareness slowly return to his bright eyes.

"Tell me what you're for," I ordered, and tugged on the low arc of chain between the clips. The greedy teeth didn't let go of his chest and he whimpered that he could not move forward and ease some of this pain.

"For you," he sobbed, "I'm for you."

"That's right," I praised and cupped his sweaty, tearful face. "You're all mine. Mine for pleasure," and I let go of the chain and kissed his mouth with slow, gentle intimacy. "Mine for pain," I breathed against his panting mouth and sunk my teeth into his lower lip. "Do you understand?"

"Yes sir," he said with a thread of pain running through his voice.

"Good," I said and touched his groin again, just a finger tip, just lightly, nowhere near enough for him.

"Oh, please, sir," he moaned.

"This is going to hurt, my boy," I murmured. I reached for the little silvery clip on the right and loosed its wicked teeth. He howled, and while that pain was still fresh, I opened the other as well. It was the blood refilling the pinched flesh that made it hurt so much.

A wordless little whine emerged from his mouth when I ran my fingers over his abused nipples. He must positively ache, the poor creature; his thighs would be tired of holding him upright, but he couldn't do anything else. His own arms were immobilized at his sides, kept his hips from bending. The ropes themselves hurt as well; they were coarse on his smooth young skin.

It was a beautiful torment.

I pressed kisses to his skin as I untied him; I tasted his sweat and I couldn't resist scraping my teeth over a few of his welts. His body quivered as he stretched his unconfined limbs. Once he could, he settled back on the table, relieving the strain in his thighs.

"Let me," he begged, "I need it."

"I know, sweetheart," I said, feeling a surge of affection. Gilbert had suffered for me so prettily. "Touch me."

He touched my nipples, and but mine weren't anything like his. It didn't feel unpleasant, but they weren't wired directly to my prick. He shuffled closer and kissed me, and my hands slid into his hair instinctively. I kneaded the back of his head and he slipped a smaller, gentler hand into my hair.

Gilbert wrapped a hand around me, too gently and I pulled away from his warm lips long enough to gasp out, "harder."

His grip tightened obediently and he jacked me faster, instinctively meeting the rhythm of my hips. Our mouths were just as frantic together and I shouted into him as I finished and lethargy settled over my limbs.

"Please," he said, his own lower body held carefully away from me. He was still so wonderfully wanting.

"No," I said.

"Yes sir," he murmured unhappily.

In the morning, I woke to a phone ringing far too early; the red numbers on the clock read five eighteen. Gilbert made an unhappy noise and buried his face deeper into his pillow. I envied the depth of his slumber.

"Hello," I grumbled.

"Daniel," my father said.

"It's early," I said, "What do you want?"

"Come for breakfast, so you can meet my new girlfriend," he said.

"How much younger than me is this one?" I asked.

He chuckled and said, "Bring your whore too. Nine o'clock."

The line went dead and I hung up. The bastard had called me that early on purpose; he wanted to make sure I couldn't tell him that I'd already eaten. I set an alarm for eight and lay back down beside Gilbert. He made a low grumbling noise when I pulled him closer and turned him so that his ass fit snugly into my groin. I nuzzled at his hair, which felt in need of a wash.

Sleep didn't immediately come.

I remembered the first time, with Allen.

We met at boarding school, when I was eighteen and he was a sixteen-year-old new student. I was in the program to be a mentor, for the sake of what it would look like on my college applications. He was my mentee, and he was an immigrant, and a very pretty mixture of Indian, Japanese, and British genetics. He was also a scholarship student, which meant that he was very smart and not very rich.

He was bullied, of course. They called him a mutt, for his mixed ancestry, which devolved into dog. They'd block his exit from the bathroom stall until he barked. In the lockers, while he changed for gym, they'd snatch his clothes and refuse to return them unless he crawled around wiggling his butt as though he had a tail.

In retrospect, I think the daily humiliations they subjected him to were what attracted me. My gym period began when his ended, and more often than not, I would see him, naked, wiggling his tail, perhaps, or chasing after a ball. He was quite pathetically eager for anyone's favor.

One day, I told them to give it a rest, because I had a cold and the noise of their torment was irritating. I was a senior and they were sophomores, and I was going to run a multinational someday. They scattered like bowling pins and he'd dressed in his uniform, patiently untying the knots they'd put in his tie.

His bright brown eyes fixed on me with an expression that could only be described as worshipful. His soft little tongue darted out to lick his red lips and he asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"

I touched his soft, damp lips and told him to come to my room that night, and after that, they mostly left him alone, because he was, as they put it, my lapdog. He was the first boy that lasted longer than a few weeks. In retrospect, it was because of the power disparity between us.

I took him home for a visit that following summer, after I'd graduated and he was going to turn seventeen. Father was not pleased at how fond of him I'd grown. As far as he was concerned, anyone in a lower economic position was a threat. They were to be used, but one was never to allow the reverse to happen. And then he'd given me the ultimatum: Leave Allen or be disinherited. Father could still conceive another heir.

So I broke up with Allen. I told him that it was because he was still in boarding school and I was entering college. We would be far apart and it would be too hard for us to maintain a relationship; Allen had agreed that it made sense.

I must have fallen asleep, because I woke to the sound of the alarm and fumbled to turn it off. I woke Gilbert and he sat up slowly, doubtless sour from last night's punishment.

"We'll breakfast with my father this morning," I said.

"Can't I stay here?" he asked.

"No," I said.

We showered quickly and cleaned our teeth. His clothes were easier to select than my own. I dressed him in a soft, off-white turtleneck sweater, which reached low enough on his wrists to hide the marks from the ropes. The pants were a light brown corduroy and his shoes were brown leather loafers.

As for myself… I felt most comfortable and powerful in a suit. However, this was breakfast. I settled on darker gray pants and a lighter gray shirt.

"You look good sir," Gilbert murmured, coming to stand beside me, "the gray matches your eyes." He plucked a stray hair from the shoulder of my shirt.

I felt a moment's absurd pleasure at the compliment and pushed it away. "Father awaits," I said roughly.

"Yes sir," Gilbert murmured and withdrew a few paces.

We took the elevator up to the next floor, which was the highest residential one in the building. I didn't knock before entering.

I opened the door to see father's current girlfriend still in her nightgown. I'd eat my shoes if she was older than I was. Her white-blond hair rested on her breasts and her eyes were a shallow shade of cornflower blue. She was petite and voluptuous. It was all as usual. My father selected his arm candy as much out of his own tastes as a desire to be envied by other men.

"I don't think we've met," she said hesitantly.

"I'm Daniel Marnes," I replied, "and you're my father's latest piece of arm candy."

"Patience," she said, holding out a slim hand. Who in their right minds would name a squalling infant Patience? Perhaps they'd done so out of wishful thinking.

"Patty, if you like," she added and dropped her hand to her side again. She looked past me, to where Gilbert hovered. "What's your name?"

"Gilbert," he said quietly. They shook hands.

Father's penthouse was stuffed to the brim with antiques. He made a point of showing off his collection of print books, because they were far more expensive than the electronic versions nearly everyone else read. A massive salt water aquarium dominated another wall. A chess set sat on the table, the pieces of which were made of ebony and ivory.

"Hello, son," my father said. "The cook has everything ready."

We walked to the breakfast room, which overlooked the city. The table had only three chairs. Where the fourth chair would have been, there was a plate and a bowl of water. He pulled out a chair for Patience, and sat beside her.

"It occurs to me," he said silkily, "that you've dressed him in expensive clothes, but it hardly means a thing."

"It occurs to me," I replied, "that the ring you've put around her finger means little more."

"Patience," my father murmured and kissed her chastely. "She's an actress, aren't you, my dear?"

"Yes," she said and named several tedious romantic comedies.

"Wouldn't want him to soil those clothes," my father said once her list had petered out, and I had an inkling of what he meant to do.

"Is your floor dirty, father?"

"One could eat off of it," he replied.

"I fail to see the problem," I said.

"He isn't our kind," my father said gently, "The poor are poor for a reason, son. They aren't bright. They're little more than dogs."

I risked a glance at Gilbert; he had turned utterly blank, as if there weren't a personality behind his eyes.

"You're just afraid of how many of them there are," I said. "If they took it upon themselves, they could tear this place to pieces, couldn't they?"

He looked at me sharply and then he said, "A mercy they aren't bright enough to realize it."

"Really, father," I said, "If you wanted him naked, eating his breakfast without the use of his hands, all you had to do was ask. I didn't want to presume anything, since you do have a new girlfriend."

We looked at each other, each measuring the other. I had won, in a way. If he asked, he was put into the position of supplicant and pervert. He had wanted to order it and see whether or not I would obey him.

"Don't be ridiculous," he said at last, "He can sit there and eat with his fingers, the way I'm sure most of them do."

I sat down across from my father and Gilbert sank gracefully to the floor. The morning's first mine had been avoided, but I was sure that I navigated a whole field of them. Father's constant need to test my loyalty would allow no less.

8

"I've prepared a folder on the potential surrogates," Father said after breakfast. He had lately taken to walking with a cane. It was the sort of silver and black-stained wood that one would expect.

"Have you," I said. He'd really been harping on the subject of late.

"Let me get it," Father said and stood. He walked around the table and paused when he came even with Gilbert. "You'd do well to remember to keep your eyes to the ground, gutter rat."

Gilbert turned his gaze away from my father who lifted the cane and pressed it between his shoulder blades.

"In fact, you'd do well to keep your whole face there, like the worm that you are." I could see Father's anger glittering in his eyes. Just what he had against him, I couldn't guess.

Gilbert pressed his cheek into the floor without a murmur. He was such a wonderfully good boy and he looked very nice with his ass up in the air. However, his compliance only enraged Father further. The cane lifted high over his shoulder, like a baseball bat.

"Father," I snapped in the same moment that Patience shouted, "David!"

He looked between us and seemed to come back to himself. He lowered the cane to the ground and his lips tightened and his jaw worked. A moment later, a gob of mucous landed on Gilbert's soft cheek and began to drip over the curve of his skin and toward his mouth.

Without a word, father left the room to fetch the folder and I used my napkin to clean off Gilbert's cheek. He followed me back to my chair pressed his cheek into my thighs.

As I petted him, a curious sort of anger stole over me. Gilbert was mine, and while father was well within his rights to refuse him a seat at his own table, he had gone too far in this last incident. He wasn't allowed to touch my Gilbert.

"Get up," I told him in a tight voice, "we're leaving."

He stood close to me, trying so hard to keep his face blank, but I could still read the mingled distress and confusion. I turned us and we left without a word to Patience, who frowned.

"I was good, wasn't I?" Gilbert asked.

"You were," I confirmed.

Moments later, we intersected Father, who was on his way back with the folder. He frowned at me. We walked around him. Unless he unbent enough to ask…

"Son?" he asked.

I turned around and felt Gilbert shift to hide his face in my shoulder. "Father," I said flatly.

"I'm not done with you yet."

"I am tired of you telling me who I should and should not fuck or for how long. It's none of your business."

"I'm only looking out for you, son," he replied in a tone of perfect injured innocence.

I shook my head and said, "Stay out of my bedroom."

"No son of mine," he began, a touch of anger surging in his voice.

"Do it," I dared him, "Disown me. Give up your dreams of dynasty."

"You would give up your legacy for that gutter rat?"

He was old, I reminded myself, and he had lost all of his family to the earthquake that had put most of California under the sea. He had learned his hatred of the poor from the food riots.

"For my freedom, Father, yes I would."

He sat down heavily and threaded his fingers through his silver hair. "Send your slave away," he said wearily, "I want to talk to you."

"Go speak with Patience," I murmured to Gilbert, who left us.

"I'm dying," Father said abruptly. "You see?"

I followed his gaze to the hand resting on the arm of the couch. A tremor ran through it.

"Parkinson's," he said, eyes unblinking and fixed on some location that only he could see. "It's getting much worse. I fell in the shower this morning, and I couldn't get up. Patience had to..."

I stared at him. It couldn't be true. He'd never admit that if it weren't true. I ran my mind back through the last several years. Now that I thought of it, he had been holding his hands clasped of late, probably to hide the shaking. There were fewer board meetings than there had been in the past. They were briefer than before. He had sent me to more and more meetings with high profile clients.

I turned around. He was really dying. He might have said my name, but a rush had risen up in my ears. I left and found Gilbert standing in the kitchen. I pulled him to me and he came docilely. I held him like a shield against any other unwanted revelations. He was dying. It was too big to think about.

He might have called my name as we left. I punched the button for the elevator and waited for it to open.

"Sir?" Gilbert asked hesitantly. "You look upset."

I ignored his words and drew him up for a harsh kiss. He was so young and warm and alive. The elevator dinged and we stepped in, still locked in that kiss. I tasted blood and felt his fingers curl into my shoulders.

He pulled us out into the hall when the doors dinged open. I wanted bare skin and scrabbled under his shirt and started to lift it.

He tore his mouth away long enough to gasp, "Inside. Keys."

Fingers slipped into my back pocket and extracted them. I wasn't interested.

"What if he comes down?" he asked.

"Dungeon," I panted, "he can't come in there."

We slowed, just enough to get inside, but the frantic, almost hysterical need still pulsed in my mind. We shed clothing with the same carelessness that trees had with autumn's leaves. He couldn't get inside the dungeon, but I was still a man possessed with desire.

He pressed into me, legs entangled, pricks touching, his chest to my chest, his arms wound around me, hands on my shoulders pulled me into him. One of my hands dug into the meat of his buttocks, the other pulled too hard on his hair, but he didn't seem to mind.

The floor was cold, though, and I took us to the bed, while we stopped kissing long enough to gasp in the same air. I could feel the brush of his breath on my cheek. His eyes were bright with passion; his lips were still oozing a little blood from skin I'd broken; I could feel his prick against mine, so damp and wanting. He was so alive.

"Beautiful boy," I babbled, "Mine."

"Yours," he agreed breathlessly.

I pulled him down on top of me and his mouth latched onto my neck. I sunk my teeth into his shoulders and worried at the warm flesh while our hips thrust faster and faster together.

"Please," he lifted his mouth long enough to say, "let me."

"Do it."

Hot wetness spread over my belly while he shouted into my skin. He was so alive. I pulled my mouth back from his skin and shouted as I spilled as well. I was alive.

Later, he made as if to rise, but I clutched him close.

"I have to clean us up. You won't like it if we get stuck together."

Some part of me recognized the practicality of this and I let him go. He found something to clean us up and then he settled beside me and pulled a folded blanket over us. I suppose it was rather chilly in here.

"You're a good boy," I murmured.

"Thank you, sir," he said just as softly.

I might have fallen asleep for a while, or I might not have. It can be hard to tell. I couldn't remember being that frenzied for sex since I was a teenager. I usually liked it longer and slower and less frantic.

"What did he say to you?" Gilbert asked.

Father didn't want him to know. Father didn't want anyone to know. I wanted to tell him though, out of spite, maybe. "He's dying," I said, "Parkinson's."

"What does that do?" Gilbert asked.

"The brain loses control over the body," I said expressionlessly, "bit by bit."

"Oh," he said. What else could he say?

"I didn't think he could die," I said.

"I didn't think mine could either," he said, "It was dysentery. A lot of us were sick. The medicine went to the children."

"Sounds miserable."

"It was." He paused and then shifted so that he straddled my body, his soft balls and cock lying on my stomach.

I heard a sharp rapping on the door. "It's probably him," I said, but didn't move.

"He's sick," Gilbert said quietly, "probably better not to regret anything."

I sighed and stood up. I kept pajamas in here, somewhere. I opened a wardrobe. It turned out to contain a set of manacles dangling from the ceiling and another set on the floor. There was a mirror in it. I didn't even remember buying it.

"What's that for?" Gilbert asked.

"Someone hangs in there and gets fucked."

"Oh," Gilbert said. "It looks like it would hurt."

"It's rather the point," I replied. "But I was looking for clothes."

"Maybe the dresser?" he suggested, pointing to another piece of furniture.

"Worth a try."

The top three drawers contained boxes of what turned out to be a lot of needles. Finally, in the bottom drawer, I found one old pair of black pajamas. He got the shirt, since it covered more of him, and I took the pants. We walked across to the door and unlocked it.

Father stood outside, holding the cane in both hands. He frowned at Gilbert who slipped behind me to press himself warmly against my back.

"What do you want?" I asked, holding Gilbert close.

"Just to talk," Father said.

I shook my head. "I need time, Dad."

"I don't have much of it left."

"Then maybe you should have told me sooner," I said, "I need time to get used to this."

"There's a board meeting on Monday," he said quietly, "I'm going to need you to tell them."

"Very well," I said.

He shuffled away again and I frowned. I really wished he would call before coming over. We stood there until the front door opened and closed again.

"I think he's lonely," Gilbert said quietly.

"That's no excuse," I said.

"He probably really wants to see a grandchild before he dies," Gilbert continued.

"Most likely," I grumbled. I wanted it to be yesterday, before I had learned all of this.

"I can't wear these to work," he said, holding up a tiny, bright red pair of underwear. The elastic around the waist was printed with the words 'Fuck Toy,' over and over again.

"Today is already going to be trying," I said, thinking of the board meeting, "Don't make it worse."

He sighed gustily and put them on sulkily. He wore the corporate peon uniform of khaki pants and a button-down shirt. Except for the marks on his neck, he looked quite innocent.

I wore my usual suit, plus the tasteful gold cufflinks and tie pin. It was never a bad thing to remind a boardroom that one had money. We walked toward the front door.

"They feel funny," Gilbert complained again.

"I wish I had time to spank you."

My cell phone rang; the display said that it was Father's secretary. Maybe he was scheduling an appointment to see me for a change. "Hello?" I asked.

"Are you still at home? I've been calling and calling your father, but he hasn't picked up. He's usually in the office by now."

"I'll go up and check on him. Tell the board that I'll be late."

"Of course," she said.

We waited for an elevator and took it up rather than down. When we got there, the other elevator was making a very unhappy noise because it couldn't close. Someone's legs were sticking out of it. I had some idea of whose.

Gilbert bent and picked up a cell phone that had slid across the floor. I walked over to the unhappy elevator. There was Father, trying to lever himself upright with the cane. We both stepped into the unhappy elevator and I lifted my father and was surprised at how frail and light he was.

"Is this yours, sir?" Gilbert asked.

Father glowered at him as though he'd stolen it, but he took it with wordless, shaking fingers. It was something of an improvement.

"There's a shortage of my medicine," he said.

Shortages weren't supposed to happen to people like us. We could afford to pay for scarce goods.

"It's because of some war," he continued, "Russia's embargoing China and nobody can get anything out of the country."

9

"What is it you want me to tell them?" I asked Father while we rode to work in the back of my limo. He sat across from me, clutching at his cane. Gilbert sat beside me, inside the curve of my arm, cheek resting on my shoulder. Father's handling of his presence had evolved to him ignoring the youth's existence altogether.

"I'm retiring," he said, "completely. You're going to take over."

"I'm not even thirty," I said, "I'm not sure how well the shareholders will like that."

"Nonsense," Father said, "You're a Marnes."

I looked out the window. I didn't really want to work any more hours than I did now. I liked my position in the company. I did the dirty work and didn't often deal with the board because they didn't want to know. They just wanted the work done quietly. I was good at that job, and I wanted to keep it.

That, however, wasn't what father wanted to hear. I couldn't count the number of times he'd excused the long hours with the words, 'I did it all for you, son.' I liked the freedom I had. The more responsibility I had to that place, the less freedom I would have from it.

"You'll be turning the stocks over to me, then," I asked.

"Enough to give you a majority," he said.

"Good," I said, "If you didn't, it would send the wrong message."

"The paperwork should be in my office," he said.

"Good," I grunted.

I wasn't going to let him shackle me to that place.

"I thought I'd start looking at the surrogate files," I said, changing the subject. He brightened and this began the dynasty talk. I pretended to listen to this lecture that I'd heard a thousand times before.

I sat behind my desk and frowned. The meeting was scheduled for ten, two hours from now. I had work to do. I had to figure out who to bribe in order to get us a permit to begin building an onsite medical facility. The office manager had sent me a snit fit in an email about how I hadn't shown up on Friday. I stood up again and began to pace.

Gilbert looked over his shoulder at me and then turned in his chair to face me. He slid down to the floor and knelt, his hands slid behind his neck and he spread legs obscenely wide. An offering. I threaded fingers into his hair and stroked my thumb over his forehead.

Would I even have time to play with him if I had to run this bloody place?

"You seem upset, sir," he said.

"It's not over you," I sighed.

The phone on my desk rang. I sighed crossed the room to answer it.

"Hello?" I asked.

"Hi," he said, "It's Steve."

"Steve," I repeated. I was on the wrong side of my desk to look him up and figure out just who he was.

"The vice president," he added, "we haven't spoken often."

"Ah," I said, "Right." I remembered him. Graying brown hair, brown eyes, probably cute twenty or twenty-five years ago. He was in decent shape, for the mid forties.

"Your father told me the news," he added, "He wanted us to talk before the meeting."

"I'll be up in a moment." I hung up the phone.

I took the elevator up another floor to where my father and Steve and a few others worked. He had a corner office too, but it got morning sun rather than afternoon like mine. I knocked on the open door.

"Come in," he said, standing up. I closed the door and sat down on the couch, turning so that the sun didn't strike my eyes. I really should get a couch of my own.

"So, what can I do for you, Steve?" I asked, crossing one leg over the other.

He sat beside me, closer than he had to, but not so close that we touched. "I know that you tend to take care of the… unpleasant problems that can crop up in today's world."

"That's a fair description," I agreed.

"Your father hired me around the time he first got sick," Steve said, "I've gradually been taking on more and more of his responsibilities, and sent things out in his name."

I blinked. Father hadn't just fallen sick Saturday, I reminded myself. The disease took years to manifest. I replayed the last statement in my head; Father had told this stranger before he had told me. Was I the last to know?

"I had no idea," I said.

"Most didn't," Steve said, a bit bitterly. Father had used him, I realized.

"You thought he was preparing to let you take the reins, didn't you?" I asked.

"It's of no consequence now," Steve replied stiffly.

So, Father's health had prevented him from doing the work he had to do, but his pride had kept him from retiring until the last moment. Steve might be very useful. He'd been running the place for years while Father had remained the token Marnes at the helm. Perhaps I could continue that state of affairs.

"I think you and I can come to some kind of arrangement," I replied.

"How do you mean?" he asked warily.

"I'm not like you and father. I don't think about 'for the good of the company.' I don't really care about strategy or business plans. But you do, don't you?"

"Yes," he stated, brown eyes fixed on me.

"Father is obsessed with dynasty and legacy, almost as if we were aristocrats." I smiled, "But I'm not like father. I believe in a man's merits dictating his position in life. A last name doesn't make me the best man for the job, and you've been doing an admirable job."

He smiled at that, modestly, but I already knew I had him. Father never praised anyone and this fellow was just hungry for appreciation. It had to wear at the man's pride, to be doing the work of the Captain while everyone called him the First Mate.

"I'm not a daylight sort of guy," I continued, "I work better behind the scenes. I'm good at taking care of problems that shareholders would rather not know about."

"You do seem to have a gift for finding weaknesses," Steve agreed without realizing that I'd put my finger on his.

"There must be a way for us both to come out of this comfortably," I mused,

"We could pretend," he ventured. "You could step up, the way your father wants, but I'd be like I was before. And then when he's gone…"

"He won't care about dynasty anymore," I said.

"And everyone will get what they want," he said.

"And you," I added, sliding closer to him and throwing an arm over his shoulder, "will get the recognition that you deserve."

"What are you going to tell the board?"

"That I'll be relying heavily on your expertise. I'm sure they'll find it comforting. I'm not even thirty yet."

Steve nodded. "Perhaps we could get a drink tonight."

"Call me," I said and scrawled my personal cell number on the back of a business card. "Let's go and talk to the board."

Steve walked into the board room a little before I did.

"Ah," I heard someone say, "Is David having another bad day?"

So I really had been the last to know. Father practically deserved this deceit.

After making my announcement about Father's retirement, I let Steve take the lead. I had little patience for the menagerie. They blathered on about what to tell the rest of the shareholders and what to tell the other employees and what to release to the public. After a while, I stopped paying attention. This sort of thing bored me to tears. Steve was welcome to it.

My mind drifted. I was going to be a paper CEO while Steve handled all the real work. I'd probably have to move to a new office. CEOs didn't keep interns, did they? I was probably going to have to promote him. Personal assistant sounded good. I could probably take him with me on business trips then. Now, if I were downstairs with him right now…

When I got off the elevator, the office manager smirked at me, the way she did when she thought she'd got one over me. I couldn't resist puncturing her bubble.

"Had you heard?" I asked, "My father is retiring, effective immediately."

She swallowed and looked suddenly sick and nervous. I wondered just what she'd done.

I returned to find Gilbert in tears, hiding under my desk. "Don't make me go. Please. I need…" His voice cut off and he pressed his face to my shoes.

"What are you talking about?" I demanded, voice emerging sharper and more irritable than I'd intended. I sat down at my desk and looked down at him. "Come up here," I added.

He fit himself into my arms and pressed his face into my neck. "She came, while you were gone. Mrs. Marks."

"Mrs. Marks," I repeated blankly.

"The office manager," he said, lifting his head for a moment.

"So she was here," I said impatiently.

"With somebody from HR," he continued, "They said I'd lied, you remember, on my resume? So they fired me. I thought you wanted to get rid of me. I've been good, haven't I?"

I looked at his back, felt his damp eyes pressed into my neck, the lovely weight of his body in my arms. That meddlesome, interfering bitch. He was mine. How dared she?

"Please sir, let me be yours," he said.

"I'm nowhere near done with you," I said, "I was thinking that I should make you my personal assistant, so I could take you with me everywhere."

"Thank you, sir," he murmured and kissed me where his damp eyes had pressed against my neck. He worked his way up to my mouth, drawing my tongue into his.

Other boys would have taken the chance to leave. He hadn't. For a moment, I was baffled as to why, but then I reminded myself that he didn't have money or official proof of his identity. He was utterly dependent on me.

"Go lock the door," I said.

He did so without a word.

"Now," I said, "put everything away, except the underwear."

I watched him take his clothes off, with that same seductive artlessness. The marks from the ropes and the belting were nearly gone.

"Bend over the desk," I said. He did, ass lifting beautifully into the air. I leaned over him and found his ear with my mouth. "You were insolent, this morning, when I told you to put the little red panties on, weren't you?" I asked.

"Yes sir," he admitted.

"That kind of behavior is unacceptable," I told him.

"I'm sorry, sir."

"Tell me, what do those little panties say?"

"Fuck toy, sir," he said.

"That's right," I said and kissed his cheek. "And whose toy are you?"

"Yours, sir. I'm your fuck toy."

"That's right," I said and kissed his cheek again. "You don't belong to the office manager, do you, or to HR, do you? You're mine. It sounds like you thought they could take control of you, when you were already mine."

"Yours," he agreed.

"I think you need a little reminder," I stated and pulled back from his warm, nude body. The buttons of my shirt had imprinted on the soft skin of his back. "Try to be quiet," I added.

I tugged the panties down over his ass. I spanked him, and when one hand hurt, I switched to the other. It was a bright red color that I wanted. I could feel my irritation over the morning's wasted time draining away as I lost myself in the sound of the smacks, the sting of my own palm, the way he writhed over my desk. Throughout all of it, he muffled his mouth in his own forearm, only allowing the smallest grunts and whimpers to escape.

I began to stroke the hot flesh between spanks. He hadn't left me. He could have told them that I kept him virtual prisoner, held him hostage for sex, and he hadn't. I didn't think about what that might mean. I heard his stomach grumble.

"Get dressed, boy. We're going to lunch."

Gilbert felt it, sitting in the hard chair at the restaurant, and shifted to find a position that didn't hurt his sore ass. I watched him knowingly, and the toed off my shoe. I pressed it between his legs and the blush already on his face deepened, and his hands slid down to massage my foot. He really was a very good boy.

10

---{A month later}--

Patience walked just behind my father as he shuffled toward the dinner table. His face had lost its usual irritated furl of late, and had slackened into an expressionless mask. Drool gleamed on his chin. He was almost a walking nightmare. Day by day, he had less control over his body. Day by day, he had a little less independence and a mind sharp enough to realize it. Patience pulled out a chair for him and he lined himself up to fall into it. He had a special plate; it was an antique, the way he liked. One poured hot water into the reservoir beneath it, and it would keep the food warm while he lifted the fork to his mouth again and again with agonizing slowness.

"Can I help you with anything?" she asked me brightly.

"The cups, if you wouldn't mind," I said, and she followed me into the kitchen.

"You're not really an actress, are you?" I asked.

"No," she admitted, "I'm not even his girlfriend. I'm his nurse."

"Ah," I said. Another lie.

"He cares a lot, what you think of him, you know," she said, "He had me put on a suit, and he doesn't usually like buttons, because he can't handle them very well on his own."

"Hmm," I said. I walked down the hall to my room. Gilbert lay on the bed, curled up with a reader in front of his face. Whatever it was, it utterly absorbed him, and he didn't look up and turn the device off until I sat next to him. He set it aside and scooted across the bed to straddle my thighs.

"There's something that's been on my mind," he said.

"Oh?" I asked.

"What's going to happen, when you're tired of me?" he asked.

"Gilbert…"

"You said you'd take care of me. When all this started, my needs were simple – food, clean water, shelter… and I'm grateful for all of that. But there's nothing to stop you throwing me out on the street once you want somebody new."

He looked angry and frightened too. Brave little thing. He had to have wondered if that little speech would earn him the same fate he feared. He was clever though. Sooner or later, he'd realize that even if a corrupt state wouldn't really care about him, a corporate rival would.

"I'd be an empty-headed doll for you if I could," he said, a note of pleading entering his voice, "but you've set everything up so that sex and work and food and shelter are all entangled. I'm afraid it will all disappear in the wink of an eye."

I should be angry at his insolence, at his demands. It wasn't his place. But what arrested me was the belief in his eyes that I could make all of it better. And I wasn't done with him, was I? He would perform better, if he were content.

"I couldn't watch him decay," I said, "if you weren't with me."

Like all the best lies, it had an element of truth to it. After father left, I would take Gilbert to bed and drive Father out of my mind for a few hours.

He smiled brilliantly at me, and he said, quite sincerely, "I wish you'd been with me when mom and dad died."

I smiled at him and said, "I think we've kept the old man waiting long enough, don't you?"

Dinner took a very long time. Long after Gilbert and I had finished, Father still lifted his fork to his mouth with agonizing slowness. Fragments of the last bites lagged out of the corner of his mouth with fresh drool.

"Have you made a decision about the surrogate?" Father asked.

"I've been narrowing it down," I lied cautiously, "it's not a decision to be made lightly."

"Quite," Father murmured, "Good breeding is important." His eyes rested on Gilbert.

Once dinner finally ended, it was quite late. We didn't have time for the elaborate scenes I'd been constructing in my mind. I thought of something else that I hadn't done since Allen, and so, after a shower, I pushed him down on the bed, on his stomach.

"Love this blanket," he murmured, snuggling down into the caressing fur. I liked the way his pale, nude body looked on the dark fabric.

"Spread your legs," I said, "Nice and wide."

Gilbert looked over his shoulder at me a bit nervously, but he did as I'd wanted.

"Hold onto the headboard," I added.

His fingers closed around the bars.

I left my towel on the floor and crouched over him. I pressed my mouth to the back of his neck and worked my way down his spine with tongue and lips and teeth. By the time I reached the small of his back, his hips thrust gently into the blanket.

I pressed my hand under him, found his prick in my hand and he made a happy little moan that went straight to my groin.

"Please," he whined, "Oh, please."

I pressed my tongue between his buttocks and he squeaked in surprise. I continued, lapping lower, over the pucker of him and all the way to the end. And then, I pressed my tongue into him.

He liked it, I could tell. He babbled and his hips were a language all their own. Downwards and they thrust through my hand, upwards and he was greedy for the feeling of my tongue inside of him.

I let him finish like that, body clenching around me, the seed of him spilling over my bed, over my fingers. He turned and in a voice still dazed with the pleasure of his orgasm, asked, "What do you want of me?"

"Your mouth," I said.

I had him kneel at my feet, so that I could watch his eyes while I worked in and out of his lips. He'd gotten better at opening his throat; practice made perfect. I didn't try to prolong it and when the pleasure of completion flooded through me, I collapsed back on the bed while he worried about cleaning up and turning off the lights.

When the lethargy faded, it occurred to me that I'd forgotten to lock the cuff around his ankle, but I was too contented with the warmth of his back against my chest and the smell of his body to disturb us.

10.5

--{Gilbert Interlude Two}--

"You're awfully young," a woman said. She wasn't one of the whirlwind I'd been introduced to at this reception. I'd been to weddings before; many of them. Some of the fathers had a dozen wives.

None of those weddings were like this one though. The ceremony had taken place outside and the bride had worn the sort of dress one never wears again. We never had the fabric to waste.

I could hardly stand to look at the slowly-melting ice sculpture of a swan in the center of the room. It was one thing to be decadent and take a long bath; it was another entirely to use water in such frivolous a manner.

I picked up the drink Mr. Marnes had asked me to fetch for him and took one of the half-boiled eggs with the yolk squirted in like icing on a cake. I didn't know what they were called, but I did like them.

"So are the flower girls," I said, gesturing toward the twins, around ten years of age.

"I meant that you are awfully young for Daniel," she explained and laid a hand on my arm. She was a kind of woman I'd never seen at home, but there seemed to be a lot of them here. She was forty-something and gripped onto thirty-something with tooth and nail.

I shrugged; I didn't know what to say to her. Some of the fathers back at home had wives young enough to be granddaughters. But if it were Mr. Marnes here in my place, he might find a reason to leave.

"I was just getting his drink." I lifted the arm holding it so that her painted fingernails slid off me and rested at her side again.

"You're cute," she said, "I was cute too, once. Never think they love you."

It occurred to me that she might be drunk.

I walked away, back to Mr. Marnes. He took the drink and smiled at me before going back to his conversation with whoever it was. His free hand found its way to the small of my back. To these people, I was just a temporary extension of Dan Marnes. I belonged to him, but I didn't belong here. All of these people were connected by an invisible, complicated social web. I felt like a fly, invisible unless I irritated them by running into one of the strands.

"Danny Marnes? Is that you?"

Mr. Marnes turned us around to see the newcomer. He was gorgeous: fit body, bronzed skin, black silky hair and dark, slanted eyes.

"Allen," Mr. Marnes said, and his hand slid off my back. The two of them embraced. I couldn't point my finger to just what the clue was, but I could tell that they'd known each other's bodies intimately.

"Marnes Industries is doing well," Allen said, "Word is you run the place."

"And what are you doing these days?" Mr. Marnes asked. He smiled at Allen and it reached all the way to his eyes for the first time since we'd arrived.

"I'm between jobs at the moment," he answered, "but I'm going to be in town for a few days. Perhaps we could reconnect?"

"Sounds great," Mr. Marnes answered.

They kissed each other in the limo on the way back to the penthouse. It was a long kiss with tongue that left Allen's bronzed hands clutching Mr. Marnes' shoulders from where Allen lied beneath Mr. Marnes on the bench seat.

They kissed more in the elevator, Allen's tie barely hanging on his neck, his shirt torn open; the buttons were scattered on the floor.

I couldn't call it infidelity when they scattered their clothes on the way to bed. Mr. Marnes hadn't made me any promises and the sex in and of itself didn't bother me. It was the things that should seem smaller by comparison. Mr. Marnes hadn't bothered to tell Allen my name. Neither had he touched me since the party.

They'd gone to high school together and hadn't seen each other since and the connection they had back then had just flared to life immediately. It was too humiliating to even try to compete with that history.

I walked to the kitchen and peeled a banana and began to eat the soft fruit. Was this my piece of fresh fruit?

I'd been so good for him. Was it all a waste?

I watched them together, Allen's ankles up around Mr. Marnes' shoulders, Mr. Marnes' buttocks clenched as he thrust in and out of Allen. Something else he'd never done to me. Now I did feel jealous.

I left again and wandered listlessly about the apartment, sometimes staring out at the glittering electric lights of the city which were no substitute for the stars of my youth. It occurred to me that I didn't trust Mr. Marnes. Just what was I doing having sex with a man that I didn't trust? What was I doing, letting him tie me up?

Surely, they must be done by now. I walked toward the bedroom again. This time, the tangle of pale and bronzed limbs wasn't to be seen.

One of the figures lifted his head and then stood; Mr. Marnes frowned at me. He left the bedroom and closed the door slowly. He led me away from the bedroom by the wrist, the grip too hard.

"Sir," I ventured.

He didn't answer.

When we stopped moving, we were inside the dungeon and he fiddled with the lock. It was strange; he was bare naked, but when he turned and his eyes glowed so furiously at me, I, who was clothed, felt intimidated.

"I don't know how many rules you're breaking right now," he growled.

I stared at him. He cared that I'd disobeyed, but all that had to do with was his own ego. The words that came from my lips were sharp and sarcastic. "I'm sorry sir; I don't have any orders for when you decide to replace me."

"Strip," he said abruptly, "follow me."

I looked at the locked door and removed my clothing, folding it all into a neat pile since there weren't any hangers. He dug around in a drawer and came out with something. I saw a collar in his hands when he turned.

"Turn around," he barked. I did.

I felt the cool material slide around my neck, felt the change in tension as he buckled it. "You may remove this to bathe and not otherwise," he said. "You belong to me until I take it off with my own hands. Is that clear?"

"Yes sir," I murmured, and touched the smooth surface of it with my fingertips. It helped to have something tangible. It didn't exactly solve the problem, but at least I wouldn't have any more false scares.

"Come to bed," he said, "I'll punish you in the morning."

We walked back to his bedroom and I could smell their sex in the air. The bed itself was more than large enough for three. He lay down and than I did as well, on the far side of Allen. I eased across the sheets and curved myself around Mr. Marnes. I could hear the thud of his heart under my ear and my thigh slipped possessively between his legs.

11

Gilbert still slept partially on top of me. He felt warm and his breath gusted steadily over my chest. I'd been ready to tear him to pieces last night, over nothing he'd done. I'd been angry, mostly at myself and Allen, and there he'd been, clothed when he was supposed to be naked. I'd been ready to take it all out on him.

With a few brief words, Allen had shattered the memories I had of him in high school. Let me tie you up, I'd said. I'm not into that stuff, he'd answered. But before, I began. Yeah, before. Sex with you was better than being bullied. We were both using each other, yeah? Enough talk.

We had sex then, but I'd felt numbed and distant from my own body. The words prickled at some deep part of me that I'd thought scarred over and anger was so much easier.

And then Gilbert had appeared in the doorway, clothed when he was supposed to be naked, present when he usually had an excellent instinct for when to stay out of my way. I had wanted someone to bleed and there he was.

Maybe it was the coldness in the room that had gotten to me, or the feeling of control that the dungeon always brought me. But the rage that had me searching for a dagger subsided.

I wrapped a collar around his neck and took him to bed instead. I had come so close to ruining this one sweet thing I had left. I hadn't done more than doze while I held him. The line I had almost crossed tonight. I coerced and I humiliated and I disciplined and I mixed pain and pleasure, but I couldn't call what I was ready to do any of those things.

"This is awkward," Allen said.

"That will end when you leave." My voice came out a little irritated and I felt Gilbert stir and wake, his eyelashes brushing over my chest.

"Come on now," he said with that charming half smile, "we had a good time last night."

"It was boring," I said. "Just go."

Pride kept him silent as he dressed.

"One of these days," he said over his shoulder as he left, "You're going to look around and be all alone."

As a parting shot, it was particularly effective. My father died by inches just a floor above with only the company of the hired nurses and me, when I could stand to watch him decay.

"You really thought he was boring?"

"Very," I said. "It wasn't like when we were in school."

"I'm glad you like me better."

"I like you better than a lot of people," I replied, "Most of them feel the need to fill the air with pointless chatter. Silence is a rare gift."

I watched him consider this, and then he asked, "What is my punishment going to be sir?"

"There won't be one," I said.

"What?" he asked, sitting up abruptly and straddling my body.

I rested my hands on his thighs. "Last night, I was angry. At Allen, mostly. I wanted to take it out on you."

"I knew I wasn't supposed to be wearing my suit," he said.

"You didn't do anything to be punished over," I replied, "What do you want for breakfast?"

"We have to meet with your father, remember?" he said, "and there's the fertility clinic this afternoon."

"Ah, yes," I said.

I held him while we showered and guilt assailed me again, for what I had almost done to him last night.

"I was very angry last night," I said.

"You said that already," he murmured and started to wash under my arms.

"Enraged," I continued. "I wanted to cut you open."

His hands paused on me before resuming their ministrations. "Why were you so angry?"

"Allen, I think. He wasn't who I thought he was."

"Oh?"

I found myself telling him the story of all of it, from the way it had started to last night.

"You liked him," Gilbert said simply, "and you found out that what you'd shared before was a lie. You were hurt and so you got angry."

It sounded so simple when he laid it out like that. So straight forward. The words barely expressed the roiling storm I'd had inside my mind.

He kissed me and I deepened it until I pressed him into the tiled walls of the shower. I loved the feeling of wet, slick skin and hot water. I trailed my mouth lower on his body, finding the hollow of his throat. I pressed my tongue into it and listened to his labored breaths.

He gasped in air when I backed away. I sank to my knees then; he was half-hard and I suckled his balls into my mouth. I played fingers over his hole though I didn't go inside. I nuzzled into his damp pubic hair.

"Oh, please, sir," he whined. His hands came down to thread into the back of my hair. This seemed the least I could do for him.

Soon, his high, tight balls pressed into my chin with every thrust. My lips and nose would touch damp hair. His fingers clutched at me hungrily.

"I'm finishing," he warned me, and I took him to the hilt. He spilled down the back of my throat and I didn't taste it too much.

I stood again, knees imprinted with the tile. "What I almost did…" I said half to myself.

"You won't," he said, "because if you ever do, I'll take my chances starving."

I nodded. Now that I knew that rage could break out of me, I'd do better controlling it.

12

"What's wrong with him?" Gilbert asked.

Father's body contorted wildly; Patience knelt over him, a wooden spoon held between his teeth, so that he wouldn't bite his tongue off. The falls had taken their toll on his brain and given him seisures. I looked at the floor instead. The elaborate oriental rugs he used to have on the floor were gone, lest he trip over them. The thrashing body on the floor didn't resemble my father at all. This thing was so impotent and frail.

Everything went dark.

"What's happening?" Gilbert asked, just a voice in the darkness. I felt a slender hand lock onto my forearm.

"Power outage," I said, "Let's take a look out the window. Maybe it's only a brownout."

"Why's it dark?" I heard my father's querulous voice ask.

"I'm not sure," Patience said, well, patiently.

Gilbert and I found an outside room and I twirled the blinds on the windows and stared out at the black column of smoke rising into the sky. "Father's got a radio in the study."

I twirled it on, FM 91.1. It was the emergency channel.

"-terrorism," I heard. "This is a loop. This is not a drill. The nuclear power station has fallen to terrorism. This is a loop. This is not a drill…"

I flicked it off and ran my fingers into my hair. The city was about to become a bloody conflict between the soldiers and the terrorists. Well, we called them terrorists. If you asked the poor, they were revolutionaries, freedom fighters. It all depended on where you looked at them from. Still, I didn't want to be in the middle of it all.

"Terrorism?" Gilbert asked.

"There are people who don't think it's fair that most of the food and water go to the city. There have been other attacks. We call them The Hungering."

"Oh. What are we going to do?"

"We're going to leave the city. Father bought an estate up north. We'll stay there until things die down."

"You're taking me with you?"

"You're mine," I said.

We walked out into the main room.

"What's happened?" Patience asked as she helped father into a chair.

"The Hungering," I said, "They've attacked. We're leaving the city, Father."

"A Marnes doesn't turn tail and run," Father said.

"My children," Patience said, "I have to go to them."

"Fine," I said because I hardly cared what she did, and I watched her hurry away.

"Stay with him?" I asked Gilbert, jerking my head toward Father.

"Of course."

I came back upstairs with what jewels and cash I had on hand as well as a couple large bags filled with what supplies we'd need. I'd thought it prudent to change too: a pair of jeans that I'd had for years, with holes in them, and a t-shirt just as soft and old.

"You look," Gilbert touched a hole in my pants with cool fingers. "Wow." Now a hand slid into my pants, easing inside my thigh.

I kissed him, long and passionate, and I dragged him close, trapping his hand where it was, fit inside the hole in my jeans. "We should probably go," he said, panting.

"Yeah," I said, but I didn't want let go of him.

"Your father tried to give me his watch you know? To get me to leave on my own."

"Did you take it?"

"No," he said indignantly.

"Why not?"

"I don't like being alone."

I shrugged. I didn't have time to pursue this further.

We made our slow way down the stairs that went on forever. Father's slow movements kept us from hurrying. I supported his body while Gilbert carried supplies. Both of us had guns. Patience had left long ago, to make her way to her own family.

"Water," Father rasped, and so on the next landing, Gilbert held a bottle up to his lips. He was too exhausted now to complain about Gilbert.

We took Father's bullet-proof car. Gilbert drove and I sat in the back with Father while he wheezed.

"You're leaving your legacy behind," he said while we inched through the crowded city.

"I'll make a new one," I said.

Men in red and black jackets started to herd the pedestrians in a different direction and traffic picked up a little bit.

I don't know how many hours it was until we broke out of the congested downtown. Father leaned on my shoulder, asleep. I had one arm around his bony shoulder.

Something dark caught my eye, and as I watched out of the back of the car window, the Marnes Incorporated tower blossomed into flames. I stared at the thick, black smoke pouring out of the building.

I couldn't really blame them. It was a good target. I had seen the calculations the company had made about how scarce to make the rations, so that people would pay for them. I had read the reports about diverting water so that they'd pay more for it next time. In their place, I'd have blown it up too.

I looked over at Father, to see if he had noticed, but his body was slack and his sightless eyes burned a hole through the roof. I pushed the lids closed. I climbed back into the front seat.

I felt curiously numb.

No more corporation.

No more dynasty.

No more heir.

No more legacy.

"Is he alright?" Gilbert asked.

"He's dead."

Gilbert looked over at me. "Probably the stairs were too much for him."

"He made it though. Stubborn old bastard."

We fell silent, and I stared at the high concrete walls at the edge of the city. I could see the militia's dead still in the streets.

I felt the car stop and I looked over. A man in a red and black jacket had a big black gun in hand.

"Who are you lot then?" he asked.

"I just want to be safe," Gilbert said, sounding frightened, "and we had to walk all the way down one of those towers. It killed his father."

I heard the back door open. "Alright, move along then."

Gilbert pressed the button and the window slid back up into the body of the car. We rolled past a makeshift barrier in the road and we were out of the city.

I stared at the open sky and the rolling hills. I started to laugh because it was that or scream. So long, I had let that company and my father define me. Now, I had the chance to find out who I was.

"What's funny?" Gilbert asked.

"I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow. And it's great."

He smiled too, and then we laughed together, with my father's corpse in the back seat.