THE feel of the thick crop in his hand was like an aphrodisiac to his senses. Combined with the scents of leather, sweat, and arousal, it made Quinn feel like a god. Only two things eased his mind these days. First was working his ranch until every muscle in his body screamed for rest, only to push it further until exhaustion set in so deep that he didn't even dream when he finally laid his head down on his pillow. The second was the activity he was currently partaking in, one that didn't allow old memories to haunt him, his entire focus on the power that eclipsed his mind.
Quinn let his fingers ghost across the slick skin of a broad back. Felt the heat rise from the dozen raised welts.
He pressed his bare chest against the man bound to the wall, eliciting a hiss of pain from him at the contact of sweat-damp skin. One hand coiled tightly around the thick crop; the other he let soothe up the man's arm until his fingertips met the cool metal of a shackle. Another hiss filled the air as callused fingers made contact with abraded skin.
“What are your safe words, boy?”
“Apollo and Zeus, Sir,” was the soft reply.
“Will you bleed for me, boy?” Quinn stepped back to groans of protest from his bound boy. “Will you?” he demanded.
“Ye… yes, Sir… anything.”
He tested the weight of the crop against his thigh again, though he knew its weight as if it were an extension of his own hand. “Why will you bleed for me?”
“Because you demand it, Sir.”
The whooshing sound of the crop as it sailed through the air sent a thrill through Quinn that exploded into a hot, burning fire as the crop cracked against exposed skin and elicited a cry of pain. Quinn watched with satisfaction as his mark split open ever so slightly. A small trickle of blood began to ooze from the wound. Stepping closer, he let the leather tip of the crop caress the taut ass, producing a shiver from the man's body before it tightened in anticipation of the next explosion of pain.
Quinn leaned in closer, his mouth hovering next to his boy's ear, letting him feel the heat of his body but denying him the contact of both his body and the crop. He could practically feel the tension in the muscles. The man fighting against the need to push back but unable to stop the tremble the desire produced. He turned his head, looked right into Quinn’s forceful gaze, and pleaded with his wide blue eyes.
“Eyes front, boy, or I'll blindfold you.”
The man's head snapped back, facing the wall. “Sorry, Sir… it's just….”
Quinn let the sting of the crop emphasize his words as he laid a stripe across his boy's ass. “You are not to look at me, not to speak to me unless it's to use your safe word or answer a direct question. Do you understand?”
His boy took a couple of panting breaths, trying to relax the tension in his body, before replying with a nod.
Quinn let the crop fly again, leaving a matching stripe on the other side of his ass, causing a groan to escape from the man’s chest. “That was a direct question, boy.”
“Yes… yes, Sir… I understand, Sir.”
Quinn took up his earlier position, once again letting his boy feel his heat but not his body. He knew denying his body would break the sub. What he wanted—no, what he needed—was to hear him beg. To cry out, beg for Quinn and only Quinn. He needed to dismantle, to destroy the man until only Quinn existed. Needed to know no one thing or being meant more to the man than Quinn did in this moment.
Quinn leaned in again and whispered, “Who owns you?”
“You, Sir. You can do what you want with my body. Beat me, fuck me, or walk away and leave me here aching. I am powerless against you, Sir. I cannot walk away from you until you desire it, Sir.”
The crop dropped to the floor with a thud as Quinn grabbed a handful of dark blond hair in his fist, yanking back hard. A grunt of pain was the only response, but it turned into a moan of desire when Quinn rubbed his leather-encased erection against his boy’s reddened ass.
Quinn pressed his lips against the tender flesh beneath his ear. “Beg me to stay with you. Beg me to fuck you.”
“Oh God, Sir… please, Sir… I ache.”
Quinn pushed his erection harder into his boy’s ass, at the same time reaching into his back pocket for the lube and condom he had tucked in there. “You ache because I demand it of you. But I’m not sure if you want it enough. Convince me, boy.” Pulling back slightly, he unbuttoned his leathers, releasing his near-to-bursting shaft.
Clutching his restraints in a white-knuckled hold, body trembling, he said, “I need you, Sir, only you… please, Sir….” The last words were a sob that wracked his boy’s chest, tears streaming down his face before he continued. “Only you, Sir… please, I only need you. I ache… nothing without you, Sir.”
Quinn froze, the condom he had been rolling onto his shaft forgotten. “What did you say?”
“Need you, Sir, only you.”
Pain exploded in Quinn’s chest, radiating out through his body in waves, his breath dying in his lungs. His blood froze in his veins as a haunting memory flooded his mind.
“I ache all the time, I’m nothing without you.”
He pushed away the painful memory with every bit of will he could muster. He forced himself to finish rolling on the condom, slicking his fingers and waning shaft with lube. Those memories had no place here. He wasn't the one begging, the one desperate. He was in control, and his boy would not leave him, not unless he allowed it.
Under his terms.
Quinn stabbed two slick fingers into his boy’s ass to the hilt without warning, causing the man to go up on his toes. A long, agonized moan poured from his parted lips.
“You’re mine.” He pulled back before pushing his fingers back in with even more force, causing the man to cry out.
“So good… oh God, Sir, need you so much. Please, Sir… please, won't you fuck me… I need you… please.”
Quinn withdrew his fingers, his arousal renewing at the desperation in the man's voice. Desperate for him. Only him and what he could give.
He positioned the head of his cock at his boy’s slick opening. “Mine,” he bit out as he shoved his length in to the hilt. He didn't even give the man time to adjust to his girth before grabbing onto his slender hips in a punishing grip with both hands, slamming into the tight passage with a frenzied, brutal pace.
“Tell me,” he huffed out, never slowing his pace. “Fucking tell me how much you want me.”
“So much… oh God, Sir… I need you,” he keened and sobbed. “Only you… take me… yours.”
Quinn slammed into his boy over and over again, pushing his pain, his heartache, deep, deeper into the man with every thrust.
I am in control here. God dammit! Me!
He reached around, unsnapping the tight leather strap that kept his boy’s orgasm at bay, and shouted, “Come!” as he continued to thrust, reveling in the power as he heard his boy cry out his release, in the fact that he commanded it and was obeyed. He let the contractions clamping down on his cock pull his own orgasm out of him. Jet after jet of his release filled the condom until there was nothing.
Nothing left except exhaustion and emptiness.
Only the knowledge that he had to release his submissive kept him on his feet. Quinn pulled out of his boy, disposing of the condom before reaching up and releasing the restraints. He fought to hold the man up, his sub’s body nearly stretched beyond what it could endure. He led him to the large bed, easing him down gently, mindful not to cause any more pain to his already abused flesh. Sated blue eyes looked directly into his, a soft, sleepy smile on his boy’s face.
“Thank you, Sir.”
He pulled the covers up, tucking them around the man. “Goodnight, boy.”
He zipped up his leathers, grabbed his shirt, and walked out of the room without another word.
Quinn had no desire to comfort, no need to know the man's name. He had taken exactly what he wanted, what he needed, and just like every other time over the last year, he had nothing more to give in return.
BROWS furrowed, lips tightened in disgust, and the all-too-familiar scowl, always the same, always constant. The man looking back at Quinn in the mirror was barely recognizable. Nevertheless, the scowl never changed. It was constant. Familiar. The only thing that had been immutable the last year, the one attribute that never changed.
At six three, he had always been a big man with a thick bulk of muscle; now he was bordering on obscenely large. The long hours he put in on the ranch made not only his savings account swell but also his body. He was successful, handsome, and his reputation at The Push ensured that he never wanted for company.
So why in the hell can’t I get rid of the fucking scowl on my face?
Quinn had spent the first three months after Lorcan left feeling sorry for himself. He either drank himself into a stupor or lay in bed staring at the walls while life went on around him. He’d felt nothing, empty inside, like a huge part of him had been ripped out and left him a shell of a man. White noise and static would buzz in his head, and he knew if he tried, he would be able to make out what was said within the buzz. He never tried. He knew what the static would whisper if he allowed it to form words. Feeling nothing, hearing nothing, was a hell of a lot better than the sheer agony that had taken him to his knees and forced him to hide away after he had heard Lorcan’s voice for the last time.
The insurance check from the fire had been large, covering all the damage done to his barn. Old man Henderson had gotten his wish and was never held accountable for all the things he’d done to Quinn. He died peacefully in his sleep soon after his attorney entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. Henderson’s son, who’d been estranged from his father most of his adult life for being gay, had settled out of court quickly. It explained a lot of why the old man had had it in for Quinn for so many years. It left him without anything to worry about, financially, anyway.
In the beginning, it had seemed like a blessing. He didn’t have to force himself out of bed each morning; he had no worries when it came to his ranch. He hired enough hands and put his trust in his foreman, Clint, that the work that needed to be done would be. Conner and John looked out for everything else, and he could spend his time wallowing in self-pity.
It was the stench of his wasting body, the constant hunger, the pain in his deteriorating muscles, and Conner’s tears that finally forced him to pull himself up out of the sludge and foul depths of despair.
He’d come back from his three months of self-imposed isolation a changed man. Never again would he let anyone get close enough to hurt him. He would not beg. Never would he allow pain and misery to render him so incapable of living. He’d kept that promise.
So why in the hell couldn’t he take pride in it?
He turned from the mirror, entering the hot steam of the shower. He felt itchy, like his skin was on too tight. Normally after a night at The Push, he could relax. He could stop worrying about shit and just go about his business. It hadn’t been the sub—he had been beautiful in his submission—but the session last night had left him feeling raw. He couldn’t let go of the voice in his head repeating over and over, “I ache all the time, I’m nothing without you.” Yet it was not the voice of the boy under his crop that he heard, but his own voice.
Quinn went through his morning routine mechanically, trying to block out the voice in his head.
Once dressed, he waited until he knew everyone would have already left the breakfast table, making their way out for their morning chores, before he headed for the kitchen. The last thing he was in the mood for was small talk. He had no desire to chat about shit he didn’t give a rat’s ass about.
As Quinn entered the kitchen, Conner looked up at him from the table, phone pressed to his ear. “Hey, can I call you back? I got a straggler for breakfast,” he said into the phone.
Quinn took his seat, filled his plate, and ignored Conner. If the phone conversation was private, then Conner could leave. He was hungry.
Conner stood, turning his back, and spoke in hushed tones. “No, I understand. We can talk when you get here. Are you sure coming down alone is a good idea?”
Conner looked over his shoulder, his wary eyes meeting Quinn’s. “No, not yet, but I’ll ask him."
Quinn’s body stiffened, and he stopped reaching for the food, suddenly no longer hungry. The walls of the kitchen felt as if they’d begun to close in. He had heard a rumor around the ranch that Lorcan was coming back to town. Neither Connor nor John had said anything directly to him about it. Overhearing Conner’s conversation, he knew the rumors were in fact truth. He stood, pushed away his untouched food, and turned to leave.
“I gotta go, see you soon.” Conner hung up the phone and called to him, “Quinn, can I talk to you a minute?”
“Got chores to do, Conner. Maybe over lunch?”
If he was lucky, he would be able to avoid Conner for the rest of the day. He didn’t want to hear about Lorcan or anything remotely associated with the man. He was over it. He had moved on, but that didn’t mean he wanted a reminder of the past.
He headed for the back door, but Conner wouldn’t be put off. “It’s about Lorcan.”
Quinn stopped with his hand on the door handle. His heart sped up instantly, making him feel shaky and a little out of breath. Fuck. He hated how just Lorcan’s name could still affect him so badly.
I‘m over it, he chanted repeatedly to himself.
“What about him?” he asked without looking back.
“Since Mrs. Jenkins moved to the assisted living apartment, Lorcan and Jess have decided to move into Jess’s old ranch. He wants to spend some time with us—”
“No what? I haven’t asked you anything yet,” Conner said defensively.
“No, he can’t come here.”
There was no way in hell he could have Lorcan on the ranch. It had been a year since he’d seen or talked to him, and he had no plans on that changing anytime in the future. He didn’t need his failure with Lorcan thrown in his face.
Conner snorted. “This is my home too.”
Jesus, the man could be an irritating son of a bitch at times. “Fine, do whatever you want. I got chores to do.” He shook his head in irritation. Obviously his opinion didn’t mean shit if Conner had already made plans.
“He was hoping I’d make him a home-cooked meal when he got to town.”
I will not be here. My ass will be in Jackson that night for sure. “Good for you, Conner. Anything else?”
“He wants to see you.”
Quinn opened the door and stepped out. “No,” he said adamantly, and slammed the door behind him. He knew his limitations. If he couldn’t handle hearing Lorcan’s name, how the hell could he sit across from Lorcan and Jess at his own dinner table?
WARM, strong arms wrapped around him from behind and pulled him tight against the broad, familiar chest.
“You about done packing?” Jess whispered against the sensitive skin below Lorcan’s ear, making him shudder.
“Are you sure you have to go? I hate being without you.”
Lorcan turned in Jess’s arms, wrapping his own arms tight around Jess’s waist and snuggling in. “Just think, you’ll have the whole bed to yourself and won’t have to fight with the cover hog.”
Jess ran his hands down Lorcan’s back, his fingers tangling in the ass-length hair. “I like it when you steal the covers. It gives me reason to snuggle even closer to the warmth of this sexy body.” He placed a soft kiss on his temple. “I’m gonna miss you.”
Lorcan leaned up and begged for a kiss, which Jess gave without hesitation. “I’m gonna miss you too.”
Rarely did he sleep without Jess’s big body wrapped around him as his soft snores lulled him. Jess had become the most important thing in his life. Lorcan’s family had accepted the big, lovable man as part of the family almost immediately after Jess had shown up on his doorstep begging for a chance. It was hard not to love him; his smile and sweetness were infectious. More importantly to his family, the love Jess had for Lorcan was abundantly obvious.
Lorcan had returned to Indiana from Oklahoma disenchanted about life away from his family. The relationship he’d had with Quinn had left him even more confused than when he’d first left home for adventure. Yet since first meeting Quinn, he had discovered a lot about himself. He no longer questioned his sexuality. He accepted it. His dad and mama had worried about him when he’d first come out to them and told them about his time in Oklahoma. His parents had accepted him without question but had been heartbroken. Not because he was gay, but because of the pain he’d suffered at what felt like a betrayal by Quinn. They had initially been angry that Quinn had made Lorcan feel ashamed of himself, but after hearing the entire story, their anger had turned to sympathy. Having witnessed how much intolerance and hate Lorcan had been subjected to as he grew up, they could understood why Quinn had hidden away his sexuality, but they hated that it had hurt Lorcan. His parents only ever wanted him to be happy.
Even his brothers had been okay with his sexuality, Lenn and Camron saying they always knew, which rather pissed him off. It made it sound as if he had been hiding something all his life. How could they have known when he hadn’t even been sure of it himself? Aiden, the most mushy and sentimental of them, had said, “Love doesn’t always come in the package we expect.” The one thing his family agreed on was that they worried about the hurt others could inflict on him with their prejudices. However, they took comfort in knowing he was physically and emotionally strong enough to handle the taunts. Hell, he’d dealt with scorn his whole life. Having Jess at his back made dealing with the hate that much easier. Not too many people wanted to get on Jess’s bad side. As sweet and outgoing as the man was, the one thing that would set him off like fireworks on Fourth of July was people looking at Lorcan with anything less than respect. And heaven help those who said anything against Lorcan when Jess was in earshot.
“It’s only a week. I’m looking forward to spending time with Conner and John but wish you could be with us.” His lips teased over the soft hair on Jess’s chest. “You sure you can’t come with me?”
“I got that breeder comin’ over from Ashbury tonight and the stock auction on Wednesday," Jess said with a sullen look.
Lorcan nuzzled into Jess’s neck, inhaling deep the spicy scent and hiding the relief on his face. They’d been saving their money since Jess had moved in with him and his family and were hoping to buy a little spread of land to start a cattle ranch. However, even with saving every dime, it would be years before they could afford both the down payment for the land and the funds needed to buy stock. Jess’s dad had left him a sizeable insurance sum, but Jess didn’t want to touch the money. They’d agreed that that money was for his mom’s care. Now, with Mrs. Jenkins moving from Jess’s old house into a retirement living apartment, Jess’s small house and land sat empty. They agreed that their only two options were either to continue living with Lorcan’s family or move to Jess’s home. It had not been an easy decision, yet in the end, they had concluded that moving back to Pegasus was the smart choice. Unfortunately, that also meant moving back to a place where some heartbreak still lived.
Although he would miss Jess and part of him did want Jess to come, he was also relieved that he had the excuse of going down alone first. Someone had to be there when the power company came out to hook up the gas and electric, and with Jess’s previous commitments, Lorcan had volunteered.
He was afraid of how he would react when he saw Quinn for the first time. He could admit that a part of his heart still belonged to the stubborn cowboy, but Jess now owned a good chunk of it too. The last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt Jess, so he figured it would be best to see Quinn for the first time alone. He had no idea how he would react to seeing Quinn, whether he would be able to hide the attraction he knew was still there.
“I’m not leaving until morning.” He let his tongue flick out against the thick vein of Jess’s neck. “Why don’t we move this old suitcase off the bed and you can show me just how much you’re going to miss me.”
Jess reached out and grabbed at the hem of his shirt, pulling it up and off in one quick movement. “Mmm! I’m gonna have to show every last inch of you how much I’m gonna miss it.”
Lorcan could only moan as Jess unbuckled his belt and eased down his zipper. Jess let his tongue and lips wander lazily down the skin of Lorcan’s chest. His big callused hands pushed open Lorcan’s jeans and wrapped around his heated flesh. Lorcan thrust his hips, seeking out more of the delicious friction.
“Oh yeah, I’m going to miss you,” Lorcan panted as Jess increased the pressure on his shaft, giving it a couple of hard strokes until he pulled a deep groan from Lorcan.
With his free hand, Jess shoved the suitcase off the bed. It landed with a thud just as Lorcan was pushed down into the mattress, Jess falling heavily on top of him. He shuddered as Jess ran his tongue across his jaw, down his neck, and began sucking gently at the thick vein.
Lorcan turned his head, giving him more room to explore as he grabbed onto Jess’s ass. His fingers inched below the waistband of Jess’s loose jeans toward his crease.
Jess’s hips jerked, and he began sucking hard on Lorcan’s neck, tongue teasing and teeth threatening. Lorcan knew what Jess was doing, and although Jess might not admit how worried he was about Lorcan seeing Quinn again, he knew. Jess was marking him as his, clearly displaying his mine-don’t-you-dare-fucking-touch brand for everyone to see, especially Quinn. Lorcan hated hickeys, at least the ones that were visible, but he knew Jess needed this, and he gave it to him willingly.
Lorcan’s dick ached, begging for a little attention as Jess licked and sucked at the thick tendon of his neck. Fingers tweaked and pulled at his nipples, sending sharp jolts of pleasurable pain to fan out across his chest and pool at his groin. His dick was weeping, wanting to be more than just an observer.
“Off,” he grunted as he pushed at the waistband of Jess’s jeans.
Jess rolled off him with a husky chuckle that sent a wave of want straight to Lorcan’s balls as Lorcan started stripping off his jeans.
“Shit,” Lorcan hissed in frustration as he fumbled with his jeans. The way Jess’s hard prick bounced against his muscled belly as he shimmied out of his jeans distracted him.
Jess pulled his jeans the rest of the way off and threw them to the floor. “Aw! Poor pretty boy,” Jess murmured as he rolled over and swatted Lorcan’s hands away. “Let me do it for you.”
Lorcan lay back and let Jess remove the infuriating jeans, sighing in relief as Jess slid them down his legs and off. “God, Jess, hurry! Wanna feel you riding my cock.”
Jess moved up his body. Strong thighs straddled him, kissing and nibbling at his neck, as Lorcan reached for the lube they always kept under the pillow, and poured a generous amount onto his fingers. Jess kept assaulting his neck until Lorcan pressed the tip of his slick finger into Jess’s tight hole, making Jess gasp and throw his head back.
Lorcan watched Jess’s face go slack as he began to ease his finger in and out of Jess’s tight passage. Jess rocked his hips, pushing back to meet the thrusts of Lorcan’s invading digit, his rigid shaft bobbing and weeping its arousal. God, Jess was gorgeous when his face was lost to pleasure, his thick muscles flexing and rippling as he swayed.
Lorcan swatted Jess’s ass playfully with his free hand. “Greedy bastard.” However, he couldn’t refuse Jess what he wanted. He eased in a second finger alongside the first. He thrust slowly until Jess’s tight ring of muscle began to relax around his fingers; then he curled them up, searching for Jess’s sweet spot. He knew the moment he found it—Jess’s eyes flew open, and he bore down hard on Lorcan’s hand.
“There… oh… right there, pretty boy,” Jess moaned as his hips began snapping as he fucked himself on Lorcan’s fingers.
Lorcan couldn’t tear his gaze away from Jess’s pleasure-filled eyes. Nothing on earth was as glorious as the way Jess gave in to his pleasure with his entire body. Lorcan slipped in a third finger, wrapping his hand around Jess’s hip. He ignored his own desperate erection, concentrating on Jess’s pleasure, knowing it would only increase his own that much more.
Lorcan was often greedy, taking Jess hard and fast, but tonight he wanted it to last. He needed to show Jess how much he loved him and erase the little frown line that had taken up residence on Jess’s brow since he first heard that Lorcan was going to Oklahoma without him.
His fingers sliding with ease, his neglected prick about to split wide open with need, Lorcan couldn’t wait any longer to be buried in Jess’s heat. He reached up with his free hand, fisting the soft blond hair, and urged Jess’s head down, claiming his mouth in a demanding kiss. He eased his fingers out of Jess’s tight ass, capturing Jess’s whimper of protest on his tongue.
“Gonna ride me, big guy?” Lorcan whispered against Jess’s lips. “Gonna show me how much you’re gonna miss me?”
“Oh yeah,” Jess sighed. Reaching behind him, he grabbed Lorcan’s cock and lined it up with that sweet hole, never breaking the contact of their lips.
Lorcan bit at Jess’s bottom lip while pushing his hips into the mattress. Every muscle in his body tightened, fighting against the need to drive deep into Jess. He was determined to let Jess set the pace, take what he needed, but Christ, it was hard.
Jess pushed back, taking just the crown of Lorcan’s cock into his body, then froze.
Sweet fucking torture was what Jess was making him endure. Leaning back slightly, Jess stared down at Lorcan, panting, while his body began to relax around the invasion. A wicked smile curled the edges of Jess’s lips. He knew exactly what he was doing to Lorcan and took a perverse pleasure in his torment.
Just as Lorcan began to tremble with the force of holding back, feeling as if his goddamn head was about to blow off, Jess winked, sinking down until his ass hit Lorcan’s thighs. The surprise and the tight muscles clamping down on him had Lorcan crying out his pleasure.
He was trying. Holy hell, he was trying not to set the pace. Control. Let him take what he needs. This is about Jess. Did not matter what his good intentions were. The contractions on his dick as Jess’s channel began the drive-him-out-of-his-fucking-mind grip and release had him grabbing onto Jess’s hips and slamming up into that heat with all his might. Naughty slurs of oh fuck and fuck me good poured from Jess as he met every one of Lorcan’s thrusts with a powerful downward thrust of his own. The sounds of skin slapping and Jess’s deep growls filling the room had Lorcan fighting to hold back the eruption that was surging through him. With the last brain cells in his head, he grabbed onto Jess’s cock, and one, two hard twists and Jess was arching his back and screaming Lorcan’s name to the rafters.
“That’s it, baby—”
Lorcan’s words cut off as heat poured over his hand, landing on his stomach and chest. Jess’s climax pushed him over the edge, and his eyes squeezed tight as the pleasure soared higher and higher. So big it felt like it would blow the roof off the house, sending him soaring through the night sky. He reached up blindly, grabbing a handful of Jess’s hair, pulling him down and smashing their mouths together, preventing the name that was tingling on his lips from escaping. Let Jess’s flavor push away the image of the man he saw behind his closed eyes. The man he imagined sharing their bed. He let the weight of Jess falling down heavily on top of him push out the guilt.
Lorcan would move heaven and hell before he would ever let Jess be hurt. The only thing he couldn’t do—and he had tried—was stop missing Quinn. He couldn’t stop loving Quinn. The only thing that made his guilt bearable was that he knew with conviction that he would never give Jess up for the other man.