The creature gained on him. As Colby dashed through the winding, narrow alleys, the sound of the steady, measured steps behind him grew louder. No matter how fast he ran, his heart thumping, his breath labored, his pursuer grew closer, not farther away. He bit back a whimper, determined not to show the terror that wanted to scream out. There was nowhere to escape to, no end to the twisting path he traveled. He would not make it. He would be caught. Then what? A shiver racked his body. Pain with a hit of pleasure weaved within. That reaction scared him more than anything else. He strained to run faster. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as hot breath wafted over him. The scent of it should have been repulsive, fetid and evil, yet it wasn’t. It smelled exotic, like toasted spices for mulled wine. Instead of shivering with fear, he felt almost cocooned in some safe, warm place—with a spike of arousal. It made no sense.
What is wrong with me?
Colby bolted up into a sitting position, his breath caught and pain lanced through his chest. His heart pounded in a skipping tattoo that scared him into thinking he might be having a heart attack. He rubbed his palm over his sweat-coated pec and tried to rein in his breathing. Just a dream. Just a dream. That reassurance wasn’t enough to calm his body. Logic and truth be damned. The dream had felt so real and vivid, both the fright and the excitement. The evidence of the conflicting effects was on display. Below his ribcage against which his heart knocked, the twisted bedsheet was tented by his cock. That was nothing new. It was how he woke every morning—hard. But he wasn’t usually so achingly so, his balls cramping with the need for release.
Instead of waiting to deal with his dick in the shower, Colby wriggled his hand under the covers and clasped the shaft with clammy fingers. A few quick tugs had him coming with such force that he doubled over. Fragments from his dream danced inside his head as he worked his cock, goosing the pleasure and forcing him to stifle a moan. He didn’t want his roommate to hear—not that Marquis would care. Colby had never met anyone less inhibited than him. He could hear Marquis puttering in the kitchen, the apartment being small. If it were summer, the guy would be buck-naked, wearing only an apron to protect his precious assets. Colby was different, though. He couldn’t quite shake all the primness of his Midwestern upbringing.
Besides, it was almost shameful how aroused he’d been. Although he’d worked hard to accept his submissive and masochistic needs as nothing to feel guilty about, something about how he’d almost welcomed the nameless, faceless thing that had chased him in his dreams brought back those early feelings of remorse. BDSM was a consensual and often loving form of play. There wasn’t supposed to be real fear. Doms weren’t truly predatory, and yet…whoever had chased him in his dreams was different from any man he’d ever seen playing with ecstatic subs. There had been a menace that he’d instinctively felt and fled from. He should have only wanted to escape, but part of him had wanted to be caught.
“It’s just Halloween,” Colby muttered.
The pseudo-holiday had been a verboten day in his childhood, an alarming celebration of the devil and all that was evil. His family had prayed for those foolish people who thought it was a silly night for dress-up and getting free candy. For him, however, it was liberation day. Six months ago, he’d finally come out of the one remaining closet in his life and had declared that he was a masochistic sub yearning for a Master to take firm control of him. He’d spent an amazing night in the one local dungeon in the Boston area, watching others play and longing to join them—not that he’d had the courage to approach any of the enticing men dressed in black leather… They’d all been occupied with boys of their own. It had still been thrilling. Too bad they weren’t holding another open house this night. Things might have been different. As it was, he hoped to find some similar fun being held somewhere—or perhaps if he dressed in the clothing he’d purchased a few days ago at a sex shop, he might attract the right kind of man.
“Yeah, right. As if you’ve gotten any braver over the summer.”
The self-admonishment chased away the last remnants of his dream. Colby untangled himself from the sheet and stripped it off the bed before heading to the bathroom. He stuffed the soiled bedding in the hamper and hopped into the shower. That hot spray beating down perked him up and he would have loved to have lingered there. But water cost money and he and Marquis had precious little, so, he washed quickly and got out.
Wiping away the condensation on the mirror, he stared at his own reflection. Even wet, his nearly white-blond hair color was visible, and there was still a smattering of freckles on his pale cheekbones. Marquis had said when they’d first met that Colby was the whitest white boy he’d ever seen. There was no denying that, but Colby also knew that he was prettier than perhaps a boy should be. Certainly the bullies back home had thought so, jeering at him while they’d tried to push his face into their laps. It’ll be just like having a girl blow me, the instigator had said to be clear that, unlike Coby, he wasn’t gay. The taunting echoed in Colby’s head as it did from time-to-time, even though he was miles away from that life and comfortable in his own skin now. And he’d escaped—that assault and others, the endless praying of the congregation trying to make him ‘right’ with the Lord, as well as his family’s condemnation. He was an adult, living on his own and making the rules by which he lived. Looking back accomplished nothing.
He returned to his literal closet of a room and threw on jeans and an old sweater. The apartment was chilly. Heat was another expense they had to manage and growing up on a Nebraska farm meant that he could handle the cold. Marquis, poor guy, would be miserable for the next six months. Following delicious smells, Colby found his roommate plating up breakfast.
“Is that French toast?” Perhaps the smell of cinnamon had influenced his dream. Yeah, that’s it. Appreciation for his friend’s cooking had infiltrated the more menacing aspects of his visions.
Marquis put the plates on the counter that separated the galley kitchen from the rest of the room that served as their communal living space. “What can I say? I woke up with a fierce taste for it.”
Colby poured a mug of coffee, laced it with a cheap cream substitute and sat in his usual spot. He downed half of his coffee before forking a piece of his meal. “Hmm, thanks. This will fortify me for work and keep away the temptation to get something there.” He had a late afternoon shift at the coffee house he worked in, and even with his employee discount, the pastries cost more than he could budget for.
Marquis joined him. “Yeah well, I’m due at the gym in an hour. I’m going to have to get in some extra workout time of my own if I want to keep this off my hips. No one likes seeing a chunky guy mixing their healthy smoothies.”
Colby snorted. As thin as he was, Marquis was even more so without even trying that hard. A few pieces of French toast weren’t going to change that. “And I should go for a run before starting my shift.” He wouldn’t be done until closing at ten at night, and there was no way he wanted to run by himself so late. The South End of Boston was a pretty safe neighborhood, but still…
“Mm-m.” Marquis gestured toward the front door with his mouth full. After swallowing, he said, “I got the mail earlier and there’s something interesting for you.”
“Me?” Colby frowned. The only mail he got was junk. His bills were paperless, and no one wrote to him…ever.
“Yup, I was tempted to open it myself. If it’s junk, someone spent a lot on it.”
Curiosity had him leaving his delicious breakfast and going to the small table where they put the mail. He spotted the envelope immediately. It was black and thick, with gold lettering in a fancy script with his name and address clearly written. It was obviously for him unless some other Colby Taylor had lived in this very apartment at some point. He reached for it, then paused. A strange feeling stole over him, as if he were about to take some monumental step—that once he opened this letter, his life would never be the same.
He snatched up the envelope before he could think any more of it and flipped it over. The back flap was sealed in an old-fashioned way with black wax and short red ribbons dangling below. A stylized S and R were embossed within the wax. Colby held it close to his face to study the unusual markings. As he stared at them, he felt as if he were falling into some dark tunnel, being pulled into the seal, into the envelope itself. His world tilted for just a second before he blinked the feeling away and took a deep breath to ground himself.
Too much caffeine, too quickly, that’s all.
“What’s it say?” Marquis’ impatient voice called from the counter.
Colby broke the seal quickly before he could think better of it and pulled out a stiff invitation written in blood-red ink on cream paper bordered in black.
Mister Colby William Taylor,
You are hereby invited to play at a party, to be held at the Mayflower Dungeon this All Hallows’ Eve at 9 p.m. Dress optional
Come if you dare
There was no address given. Then again, there didn’t need to be. He knew where to find the place. His heart pounded, much as it had in the aftermath of his dream. The French toast sat heavy on his now slightly queasy stomach. But that wasn’t the only reaction to seeing the invitation. His dick had hardened instantly, pressing painfully against his fly with aching balls, as if he hadn’t come a mere fifteen minutes before. His hands shook slightly as he grasped the card and the envelope fluttered to the floor.
“Come on. What’s it say?” Marquis snatched the invitation from Colby and whistled. “Holy shit! Isn’t this the place you went last April?” When Colby could only nod, his roommate gave him a sly smile. “You didn’t tell me you made a friend there.”
Colby blinked slowly. “I didn’t. I-I just watched. I don’t know who this guy is or why he’d send me an invitation to play.” He remembered something. “Oh, I did give my contact information, because you can’t get in without filling out a waiver. I never heard from them, and I didn’t expect to.” The prices for joining the club were too steep for him, so it had been a relief not to get solicitations in the months since. There was no sense in torturing himself—ha ha—with something he couldn’t have.
“You must have met this Reeves guy. Why else would he invite you?” Marquis pressed.
Colby shook his head. “No, I didn’t. Other than the man at the entrance, I didn’t speak to anyone. I have no idea who he is.”
Marquis handed him back the invitation. “Huh. Well, you obviously made an impression on this dude. I can’t imagine why it would take months to contact you, though. Maybe he just got out of a relationship or he’s a Halloween freak.”
“Is there such a thing? I mean, is it a fetish or something?” There was a lot about the world of BDSM that Colby still didn’t know about.
His roommate shrugged. “How would I know? But isn’t there a fetish for everything? What are you going to wear?”
Colby frowned. “I’m not sure I’m going.” As tempting as it was to check out the party, there was a distant alarm bell ringing inside his head.
“Seriously? I thought this was your jam. Why wouldn’t you?” Marquis stooped to sweep the envelope off the floor and waved it in front of Colby’s face. “And this takes bank. I bet the dude’s from Beacon Hill or one of the flush suburbs. It couldn’t hurt to have a rich boyfriend.”
“Oh, please. You know I’m not looking for a sugar-daddy.” But he was looking for a play partner, if only for one night. His cock pulsed at the idea of finally being under a man’s control and feeling the exquisite pleasure of pain inflicted by someone who knew what they were doing.
“’Oh please’, yourself,” Marquis scoffed. “Aren’t you the one longing for a husband and a dog in some nice condo around here?”
Colby smacked the guy in the arm without any heat. “That’s not the same thing.”
“Isn’t it? In those dreams of yours, do you still sling lattes for minimum wage and measly tips? Just because he’s put a ring on it, doesn’t mean he isn’t a sugar-daddy.”
“You’re such a cynic.” Even as he laid the charge against his friend, Colby had to admit there was truth in it. When he thought about his future, the idea of kneeling and taking punishment in a home that Colby kept for his Master made his heart stutter with joy.
“I’m not sure I’m going,” he reiterated, even though, before the last word was out of his mouth, he knew that was a lie.