Chapter ONE

 

JAE LEANED back in his office chair and eyed his pet from top to bottom. Tim was still dressed from closing up his shop, but the glaring bruise on his cheek marred his perfect looks.

“One more time. How did that happen?” He sounded each word out slowly, making it clear he expected instant compliance.

The squirm was reward enough, but he had to remain firm. No giving in to the urge to play grab-ass. Not now, anyway.

“I wasn’t paying attention while restocking,” Tim drawled, eyes on the floor. “And one of the boxes toppled. I caught it with my face.”

Since Tim wasn’t looking, Jae allowed himself a small smirk. Snarky butler indeed. But this was a serious offense. Tim was to take care of himself when out of Jae’s care. From the flex in his fingers, Jae would guess he had been twitchy. He was usually so careful, but anything going wrong or even crooked would send him twitching.

For a man who swore up and down that he didn’t have obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tim didn’t handle anything out of place very well.

“Not paying attention. That isn’t like you, pet. What’s wrong?”

Tim opened his mouth, then closed it. Good, he was thinking. Saying he was fine wouldn’t help him. Lying about being “fine” was also a serious offense.

It took a few minutes, and Jae let them drag out in silence before Tim answered. “The Leather Ball. I was thinking about it.”

“About what, exactly?”

Twitch. Twitch. Twitch. His fingers looked as if they were typing on his pants.

“Pet, take a breath and answer me.”

“I haven’t sponsored an event before. I was thinking about what door prize packages to put together and where the posters should go in the shop.” A sigh. “I haven’t found anyone awesome enough to hire. And Gloria’s great, but I can’t stand the thought of leaving the store in her hands.”

On one hand, reasonable things to worry about. But there were rules they agreed on that Tim had to follow. That part was easy for Jae. Submissives needed rules for stability and balance. But this was something different.

Domestic Discipline was still so new to him. With Tim’s explanation and his own research, he had a good idea of what he needed to do as Head of the Household: more than a Dom, responsible for Tim’s care, protecting him from himself sometimes while enjoying Tim’s attention to keeping his home running and particular way of submitting. But reality had a way of warping fantasy.

Firstly he and Tim still lived apart. It was hard to be Head of the Household when you only saw your pet a couple of times a week.

Secondly punishments. Jae loved spankings. The feel of a warm ass against his hand, the cries of a sub, the mix of trepidation and anticipation that made a sub stiffen between blows. And Tim took them beautifully. Seeing his reddened bare ass after a good session, hearing his rough and sincere “thank you” made him want to pound the man into the mattress, wall, table, wherever they were.

But Jae was not fond of spankings as punishment. Those were for his pleasure; a gift Tim gave to him. It didn’t seem right to take that and use it to express his displeasure at a broken rule. And so many works on DD involved spanking it almost seemed impossible to consider anything different.

But Jae was nothing if not creative.

“What are you supposed to do if you get this way?”

Tim had calmed his fingers thanks to the ordered breath. “Stop and take ten breaths, then contact you.”

“And you didn’t.”

“No, Sir.”

“And you got hurt.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I don’t like that, pet. Does it hurt?”

“Like hell, Sir.”

That settled it for Jae. “Corner, fifteen minutes. I want you to think about why you should follow my rules, why they are best for you. Then we can talk about this sponsoring thing together.”

Tim’s shoulders slumped with a heavy sigh. But he stopped twitching his fingers; he was relaxing, sinking into that space where all he had to do was obey. It was far from a sexy punishment, but as Tim put it, “It’s more about reassuring me that you’re in control.”

And that was hot in its own way. Jae loved learning how much he enjoyed the ways Tim obeyed him.

Jae watched him turn and walk to the far left corner of the office and stand as close as possible, then set a timer on his laptop. Now to see if he could get a little more work done while Tim endured his punishment. He was home and being ignored, forced to contemplate what he’d done. Jae reopened a few files he had closed in anticipation of Tim’s late-night arrival. More research into how exactly his new assignment, a solar USB charger, worked so he could write up a draft for the instruction booklet.

Granted it was hard to concentrate with his recalcitrant lover that close, ass-hugging jeans and tight button-down giving Jae a delicious view. Maybe Jae should propose a new rule: no dressing so sexy for work. Goodness knew what come-ons the man had to deal with running an adult toy shop.

The timer dinged, and by then Tim seemed fully relaxed, shoulders loosened, his face calm. He returned to his spot in front of the desk, eyes still down and head bowed. Jae saved his progress, closed the document, and pushed the chair from the desk. “Let’s go to the living room. You put ice on that shiner?”

“I did before I got here. It’s not getting any prettier.” Tim chuckled softly. Chuckled. Jae’s pet would be fine.

“Get a bag of peas out of the freezer anyway. I’ll grab some ibuprofen. It’ll help with the swelling.”

 

 

TIM LAY on the couch with his head on Jae’s lap and ice in two sandwich bags over his cheek. Peas? Only if they were going to eat them right after. And with it being nearly 4:00 a.m., no one was in the mood for dinner.

Jae petted his hair as the TV softly played one of those late-night infomercials. “So why not just put some condoms and little packs of lube in some mesh bags with your card and call it good?”

“That’s so… ordinary. And besides, I did that for Pride last year.” Tim shifted to get more comfortable. “Went like hotcakes, but this is a special event.”

Jae may’ve been Head of the Household, but when it came to Tim’s shop, Little Earthquakes, he was the expert and man in charge. It didn’t mean he wouldn’t bounce ideas off people. Gloria was ready to strangle him, though, because of his fretting, which made him even more nervous. And then he was in the overcrowded space he called his office, and before he knew it, an open box of little lube packs smacked him upside his fool head.

Gloria had shooed him upstairs to his apartment to treat the bruise because she was his newly promoted manager and occasionally took charge in the store. The queen to his king. Or the queen to his queen, if he was going to be honest.

Which meant they were doing well enough to look for a clerk for the late-night shifts. Great, one more thing to worry about. Hiring people for a place like his was a careful art. Had to weed out the pervs and one obvious wannabe investigative reporter, probably wanting to “expose” his shop as a seething sex pit corrupting the youth (thank fuck for search engines) since he put the ad out two weeks ago. One had to be able to talk sex without blushing too much and be able to discuss it nonjudgmentally and maturely. Pretty much he was looking for another sex educator or someone willing to learn the ropes.

But that was a worry for tomorrow. Shop was closed for the next two days, and he was spending most of that time with his Sir. He knew he should have taken the time to at least text Jae to let him know about his worries, but it had been one month of trying these new rules, and it was so easy to forget. So easy to worry and worry and oh, look, it was Twitch Time.

But it was a good start. Six months since Jae Seong walked into his shop and into his life, and they were finally giving Domestic Discipline a try. Jae wanted to take his time getting into things, and now that he was getting what he needed, Tim’s squirrel brain didn’t even know what to do.

So far so good. Tomorrow, or when they woke up, Tim would get out of bed and make breakfast, wash the dishes, and scope the house for chores that needed doing while Jae worked in his office. Now that Tim had finally convinced Jae he enjoyed caring for the place, Jae left most of the work to him. Laundry, cleaning, dusting, trash disposal, vacuuming, cooking—everything was done with the same precision with which Tim took care of his shop. He even grabbed groceries and other staples with Jae’s debit card in hand and a list they put together. His goal was to make it so all Jae had to do once he was done was leave the office and sit down for a meal and be waited on and cared for like a good HOH should be. It gave Tim so much joy to have someone to care for, a household to maintain, and someone to be accountable to.

For only two days out of the week.

It wasn’t enough, hence the rules for handling his stress by answering to Jae and checking in at the end of the workday and the occasional visit over to play or fuck or just lie together. His heart was at peace for the first time in a long time. Now if his brain would only play along.

But, he guessed, if that happened, there would be less need for Jae’s presence.

And now Sir was gentle and loving. If it weren’t for the huge cold thing on his face, Tim would have melted with each pass in his hair.

And they could speak freely.

“Leather ribbons? Plastic handcuffs?” Jae gave his locks a brief tug, making Tim gasp. Oh yeah, that was nice too.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Sir. Every person there has a better pair.”

“Joke, Tim.”

“You’re right, that would be a joke,” Tim groaned, this time out of frustration. “Two weeks. I have two weeks to round this up. The business cards I use have a coupon on the other side, so those are a no-brainer. It’s not like I can dial up ‘KinkyPromotions.com’ and get a bunch of printed pens or something.”

Jae lifted the bag and looked Tim’s face over. Scruff on tanned cheeks and warm brown eyes, even in the flickering light of the TV. Tim couldn’t wait to get touch those cheeks, with his hands and with the straight razor he was quite proficient with.

“Like you said, it’s not getting any prettier. What are you gonna tell anyone who asks about it?”

“I’m hoping by the time I have to open the store again, it would have gone away. But if it hasn’t, I think ‘I lost a fight with gravity’ will do.” He shook his head. “Still can’t believe the theme for the ball—Wicked Wonderland. It’s so limiting.”

“Still ordering that leather top hat?”

Ah yes. Tim got it in his head that he could rock a kinky Mad Hatter. Jae loved the idea, even if he wasn’t planning on dressing to theme. It didn’t matter. Jae in a tux was pure sex, as far as Tim was concerned.

“I could make the coupons look like playing cards. Gloria suggested little sticker labels, you know, ‘Eat Me, Drink Me.’ Folks could put them anywhere on themselves.”

“That would be funny. Labels, maybe even those silicone bracelets. You can get those in bulk for cheap.”

Tim considered it for a few breaths. “Bracelets. Didn’t even consider those. They’re still a thing. Could get them made in the kink flag colors, black, blue, red, white, like a gradient.”

“And the condoms and lube. You’re a sex shop, it’s a staple. Just remember to let Gloria pack those.” Jae leaned down and kissed his forehead.

Tim rolled his eyes. Duh, latex could kill him, and he still had the faint scars on his cheeks to prove it. “Yes, Sir. And I’ll put together some nonlatex options. Throw in some gloves, maybe a dental dam… make it a little sex pack.”

“There you go, baby. Done straining your brain, or should I drop another box on your face?”

The playful light in Jae’s eyes was enough to call to Tim’s more base instincts. He nearly purred as he sat up to meet Jae’s lips. “I can table this subject for later.”

All thoughts of balls, bags, and boxes were soon forgotten. He missed his Sir so very much.