Mase woke to the sound of his cell phone ringing. “Hello.”
“Hello Mase…I mean, Sir,” a nervous voice muttered across the line. “This is Kit—you know, from the club…”
Mase squinted at the alarm clock and saw it was only eight in the morning. However, waking up had never been so sweet. The sub’s nervous, stuttered words were music to Mase’s ears. “Hello Kit, how are you this morning?” He sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes as he listened to Kit ramble.
“Oh, hell. I woke you up, didn’t I?”
Mase laughed at the soft curse he was certain the sub never planned on him hearing.
“That’s all right. What did you call for?” He had a pretty good idea why the young man had called but he wondered if Kit had the balls to tell him.
“Umm…” There was a moment of silence and Mase wondered if he’d lost the connection. “You told me to call you. Didn’t you mean it?”
The sub’s sad tone made Mase smile. For a man who didn’t have a lot to smile about, he’d done more laughing since he met Kit several hours ago than he had in the past year.
“No, I meant it,” he reassured the worried man.
“W-would you be interested in going out with me sometime?”
Kit was so super sweet Mase could practically feel the sugar coating the phone. His heart melted a bit. He couldn’t remember the last time a guy had dared to ask him out even before the murder trial.
“Kit, do you know anything about me?” he asked in a gentle tone. He didn’t want to scare off the cute sub, but he didn’t think they’d make a good match. As attracted as he was to Kit, he didn’t want to be a source of misery in the younger man’s life.
Some subs might want to flirt with a bad boy, but it was the accountant they took home to the parents.
“I-I know you were accused of murder but were let off due to lack of evidence. B-but that doesn’t matter,” Kit rushed to say.
“It matters,” Mase insisted. If Kit had anyone who loved him and knew what Mase had been accused of, they would take the innocent young man as far away from him as possible. Hell, Mase wanted to and he barely knew the kid. Okay…maybe ‘kid’ was pushing things a bit, but Mase definitely had a year or ten on the younger man. “How old are you, Kit?”
“I’m thirty-five. Don’t you think you should be looking for someone closer to your own age?”
A soft snort came across the line. “Why? So we can be inexperienced together? Yeah, that’d be a lot of fun.”
Mase laughed. Something about Kit charmed him. To Mase, a man who could make him smile was worth more than any amount of gold.
“Fine. I’ll agree to dinner but that’s all I’m promising.”
“Can I give you a blowjob under the table?”
“No. Just dinner.”
“If you let me buy, will you put out?” The teasing tone in Kit’s voice made him laugh. Shit, it was almost as if the past year of pain slid away beneath Kit’s vibrancy. Mase reined in his wild ideas. One young inexperienced submissive wasn’t going to put all of his troubles in the past, no matter how charming the man.
“Dinner only, take it or leave it.”
A long sigh came across the line. “All right. Where?”
Mase gave the name of his cousin’s restaurant—the man made a great lobster ravioli. “Meet me there at seven tonight. Be prompt or I’ll cancel our date.” He barely resisted the urge to tell Kit that there would be a punishment if he was late. He had a feeling Kit would show up an hour past their meeting time just to test him out.
“Yes, Sir,” Kit muttered before Mase hung up.
He didn’t want to give the tempting man another chance to coax him into anything more. Hopefully dinner at his cousin’s restaurant would prevent him from pouncing on the pretty young man.
His phone rang again. Without checking the readout, he answered, “Kit, you’re not going to change my mind.”
“I don’t want to change anything but your status from living to dead. I can’t let you kill another one. I’ll be watching you,” a cold, quiet voice said.
The words chilled him to the bone. It can’t be him. It’s impossible. His grip on the phone tightened as his hand began to shake. Taking a breath to steady his nerves, he asked, “Who is this?”
A whispery chuckle came across the line, frosting Mase’s spine with ice. “You know me. After all, you’re the reason I’m dead.”
Before he said anything else, the person disconnected. Mase sat there for several minutes. Bile rose in his throat. Tossing the phone down on the bed, Mase fled to the bathroom just in time to empty his stomach into the toilet.
After he gave a final heave, he slumped down onto the floor and stayed there for several minutes before his knees firmed up enough to hold his weight. Even with his muscles finally under his control, he couldn’t get his hands to stop shaking as he flushed the toilet. He stumbled to the sink, rinsed out his mouth then quickly brushed his teeth.
“He’s dead,” he told his stricken reflection in the mirror. Dead people couldn’t make phone calls. But why would anyone bother him now, after a year of blame and self-recrimination? It had taken a lot of counselling for Mase to realise that he hadn’t caused his lover’s death. He’d found out too late about Jeff’s instability—a manic-depressive who’d stopped taking his medication and hadn’t told Mase he’d ever been on it.
Mase had left the apartment that night to buy dinner and take a break from what he’d thought of as one of Jeff’s temper tantrums. He hadn’t known Jeff was having a psychotic episode or that he should’ve received professional help. When he’d returned, it was to find his lover had bled to death in his bathroom. Jeff’s family hadn’t taken his death well and had blamed Mase. Fortunately for Mase, they’d lost both the legal and the civil lawsuits. He’d finally had to get a restraining order against Jeff’s mother and brother, Philip, when they kept showing up at his condo and screaming at him.
He’d moved from Chicago to Seattle to be closer to his own family and to avoid Jeff’s relatives. Unfortunately, the BDSM culture was small and the rumours had followed him to the new city. Luckily the money he’d inherited, along with his investments, had made moving easier than if he’d had to find a job…but the freedom money gave him also allowed him plenty of time to think about his problems.