To make up for my neglect.
Mase tilted his head indicating Sean needed to leave things alone. He didn’t want Kit to feel uncomfortable with his relative’s curiosity even though he knew it would be all over the restaurant in a few minutes that he was on a date.
After Sean left, Kit pinned him with his green eyes. “Your cousin is very protective of you, isn’t he?”
Mase took a deep breath, marshalling his thoughts as he tried to find the right words. “Philip isn’t the only one who still gives me problems about who I date. When Jeff died several people blamed me.”
Kit placed his hand back over Mase’s. “Tell me.”
Mase didn’t really want to discuss his dark history over a nice dinner but Kit deserved to know what sort of man he was dining with. At least then he could leave before Mase became too invested in him.
“I don’t know what you heard, but I became involved with a young man who was new to BDSM. Unknown to me, he was also mentally ill. He wanted me to show him the ropes. After doing a few scenes together, we progressively sank deeper into the lifestyle, but he couldn’t handle it. One day he snapped and ended his own life.” Mase didn’t go into the details of how he’d found out too late that Jeff was manic-depressive and had stopped his medication. It was one of the reasons the jury had deemed him not guilty.
“That wasn’t your fault,” Kit gripped his hand tightly.
“How do you know?” That question haunted Mase. He should’ve seen the signs…something.
“Because from what you said he already had problems. Add that to questions about his sexuality, and apparently it was enough to push him over the edge.”
“But if I hadn’t pushed him…” Mase could feel the hollow ache begin in his chest—the pain that grew larger each time he spoke of or thought about Jeff.
“Did he have a safe word?”
“Of course.” Mase never played with subs who didn’t even know the basics like a safe word.
“Did he use it?”
“Did you stop when he said it?” Kit took a drink of water, his eyes never leaving Mase’s.
That was an easy question. “Absolutely. I would never not accept a safe word.”
“Then I don’t know how you can think you’re responsible.”
Mase sat stunned. No one had ever presented it to him that way before. Sure, he’d known intellectually it wasn’t his fault, but deep down lived a kernel of blame heavy enough to crush a house.
“I keep telling him it wasn’t his fault.” Sean set down the salads in front of them. “Maybe he’ll listen to you.” He gave Kit a friendly smile before disappearing back into the kitchen.
“Maybe I chose the wrong place for our first date,” Mase growled.
Kit laughed—a happy sound that made Mase want to smile with him. Where Jeff had been all doom and gloom, Kit had an inner light that gave a sparkle to his eyes and a perpetual upward tilt to his lips.
“Our date could still have a happy ending,” Kit’s smile went from slightly sweet to decidedly wicked.
“Hmm, maybe.” Mase wasn’t going to commit to anything further, but he was enjoying dinner with Kit. Whether or not he planned to take the other man home was still up in the air. Choosing a mentally imbalanced sub once was a mistake…twice would be sheer stupidity on his part.
While eating the cool crisp lettuce, they moved away from serious discussions to talk about Kit’s job as a graphic designer. The sub shared some of his funny stories about client demands and soon had Mase chuckling over Kit’s impression of one of his high profile clients.
“Oh, I’m sorry I missed that.” He brushed back tears of laughter as Sean arrived with their pasta.
“I see you two are having a good time.” Sean looked between them as if trying to assess the level of their attraction. Mase could’ve spared him the trouble. Kit’s appeal was off the charts.
Mase nodded but didn’t say anything else. Kit gave the chef a sweet smile. Sean got the hint and served the food without further comment.
Mase observed Kit as they polished off their meal. As sexy as he found the sub, it was the man’s sense of humour that had Mase entranced. Would Kit still have his perpetual smile and sparkling eyes when Mase had him tied to his bed and a cock ring fastened around his erection? Somehow Mase thought so.
They finished the pasta and split a serving of tiramisu before leaving the restaurant.
Mase walked Kit to his car and saw the flash of disappointment in the young man’s eyes when Mase opened the driver’s door for him.
Despite his vow to keep a distance between them, he found himself writing his address on the back of a business card and handing it to Kit.
“Follow me. If you get lost you can meet me there.”
“Okay.” Kit’s smile could’ve lit up the night.