Power Play: Resistance
This title is #1 of the Power Play series.
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Give me six months, and I'll give you the world.
Brandon McKinney has scraped and sacrificed for what little in life he’s ever had. Though it’s been fifteen years since he escaped his father’s abuse, the damage remains. Trust seems as far out of reach as his dream of becoming an architect, and though he’s come to accept being gay, he can’t deny the shame and confusion he feels at other urges—the deeply-repressed desire to submit.
Jonathan Watkins is a self-made Silicon Valley billionaire whose ex-wife took half his money and even more of his faith. Comfortable as a Dominant but wary of being hurt again, he resorts to anonymous pickups and occasional six-month contracts with subs seeking only a master, not a lover.
When a sizzling back-alley encounter cues Jonathan in to Brandon’s deep-seated submissive side, he makes the man an offer: Give me six months of your life, and I’ll open your eyes to a whole new world. Brandon doesn’t care about that; all he wants is the three million dollars Jonathan’s offering so he can buy the construction company he works for. But he soon learns that six months on his knees is no easy feat, and shame and pride may keep him from all he ever wanted—and all he never dreamed he had any right to have.
Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:
While consent is clearly established and frequently reaffirmed, some moments in Power Play push hard against the outer edges of consent.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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Bran looked up from his beer at the preppy little moron who’d just sat down beside him. Fucking tourists.
Jian Li blinked twice and went back to cleaning glasses behind the bar.
The moron cleared his throat. “Pardon me? Sir?”
Jian Li kept ignoring him. Tourists tipped for shit anyway. Bran took a sip of his beer—warm like the Chinese always drank it; wouldn’t that throw Mr. Tourist for a loop—and decided to take pity on the man.
He was kind of cute, after all.
Bran planted his elbows on the bar and raised an eyebrow at the guy. “Lost?” he asked.
Mr. Tourist blinked at him like he hadn’t already checked Bran out—though he obviously had, else why invade his space at an otherwise empty bar—and flashed him a bright smile. “Not anymore.”
Strange diction. Not quite New England, not quite old England. Certainly not California. The tourist cast his eyes about the crowded room, and Bran could see the exact moment when he registered the lack of white faces in the bar. “No cognac, then?”
Bran chuffed into his beer. “Don’t get a whole lot of call for it in this place. Jian Li,” he said, raising his hand to catch the bartender’s attention. “A beer for the Gweilo, please.” Jian Li gave him a small nod and an even smaller smirk, and Mr. Tourist turned to him with a quizzical glance. “That’s what everybody here calls me,” Bran said with a shrug. “Beer’s warm, by the way.”
Jian Li placed a mug in front of Mr. Tourist with a curt nod.
Mr. Tourist took a sip and tried very hard not to grimace. Bran stifled a snort.
“Yes, well . . . much obliged. Next round’s on me.”
This time Bran didn’t bother hiding his amusement. “Who says there’s gonna be a next round?” He drained what was left in his mug, then nodded at Mr. Tourist’s. “Since it looks like you’re not gonna drink that . . .” Bran scooped it up and saluted him with it. “Thanks, pal.” Then he nodded at Jian Li, got up, and sauntered over to the nearest table.
He felt Mr. Tourist’s gaze burning a hole in the seat of his jeans on the way. Even thought about inviting him over for second. After all, the guy was cute in a scruffy puppy sort of way—if totally fucking clueless—but Bran really wasn’t up for company tonight. He took a swig from Mr. Tourist’s beer. Took another. Sank down and put his back to the guy. He wasn’t nearly drunk enough for . . . well, anything.
Fucking tourist looked made of money. Bet his hands are soft. Fucker.
But of course, Mr. Tourist couldn’t take a hint. He pulled out the chair opposite Bran as if he owned the place, then asked, “Mind if I sit down?”
Bran sighed. “Would you leave if I said no?”
Mr. Tourist shrugged, smiled with the kind of confident swagger Bran imagined lawyers flashed at juries. “What’s bothering you?”
“Besides you, you mean?”
“Ouch.” Mr. Tourist sat down. “I did let you steal my drink, after all.” He held out his hand. “I’m Jonathan, by the way.”
Bran stared at the outstretched hand, contemplating spitting into his palm before shaking it. That’d scare him right off.
For some reason, though, he didn’t. And yup, Jonathan’s hands were soft. “Bran,” he conceded.
“Short for Brandon?”
Bran’s gut tightened the way it did every time he heard his given name. Old habits and all that. “Just Bran,” he said curtly. “So, you’re obviously not from around here. Slumming it tonight?”
Bran tried to pull his hand back, but Jonathan held on for a few more seconds, a sardonic smirk tugging up one corner of his mouth. His very, very pretty mouth.
Pink, like a girl’s.
“Just wanted to get out of the house. I’ve lived here five years now and there’s still so much of the city I haven’t seen.” Now Jonathan was grinning in earnest. “How about you?”
For a moment, Bran nearly gave in to the urge to spill his whole stupid story. He’d never see this guy again anyway, right? But all he said was, “Getting drunk, actually. Isn’t that what people do in bars?”
Jonathan’s grin turned downright filthy. “Among other things.”
Shit. Bran drained the beer in one long gulp—Jonathan’s eyes zoomed in on his throat and stayed there—then banged the empty glass on the table. “Buy me another, and maybe I’ll tell you.”
“Fair enough.” Jonathan nodded and went to the bar for another round.
Bran most definitely did not check out his ass while he walked away.
Jonathan came back a minute later with two whiskeys and that same stupid, cocky grin plastered to his face. Bran took a sip. It was the expensive stuff—the kind people only bought him when they were trying to get into his pants. Still not in the mood, pal, but I’ll drink your liquor.
Jonathan held up his glass. Bran clinked it, then knocked back his double in one go. It burned the whole way down, but damn if it wasn’t good.
Jonathan’s eyebrow arched high and perfect over one blue, blue eye. “We’re not running a race here, you know.”
“Good thing, cos I’m getting a little too drunk for that.”
Jonathan laughed, genuine and carefree, loud enough to turn disapproving heads in the bar. If he noticed, he didn’t seem to care. “What’s the occasion?”
“Can I help you find it?”
Bran snorted and grabbed the still-full shot glass from Jonathan’s hand. “It’s not in my pants, you know.”
Another laugh. “Maybe it’s in mine?”
Touché, sir. Bran leaned over the table and eyed Jonathan’s crotch. “I dunno, looks a little small to be hiding three million dollars.”
There went the other eyebrow. “What do you need three million dollars for?”
“My boss is selling his business at the end of the year. Wants me to buy it—I want me to buy it. Little matter of scraping up the money, though. No fucking clue where I’m gonna get it, but once I sober up tomorrow I’ll figure it out.”
“I hear banks are pretty good for that kind of thing.”
“Not for guys like me. I’d have better luck with the Triad.”
“Don’t they break your legs if you miss a payment?”
Bran smirked and downed Jonathan’s whiskey. “One more drink and I won’t even feel it.”
A hand slid onto Bran’s thigh, and he jumped at the touch. “Do you feel this?”
Now it was Bran’s turn to raise an eyebrow. Among other parts of his body. But he held perfectly still and said, “Bit handsy, aren’t you?”
The hand slid up his thigh, fingers brushing his swelling dick through his jeans. “Let’s just say I’m used to going after what I want.”
Bran nearly choked on his next breath as those questing fingers squeezed his dick. “Guess you rack up a lot of restraining orders?”
Jonathan laughed. “I like you. Let’s get out of here.” He pulled his hand from Bran’s crotch just long enough to slap some money on the table—A fifty? Jesus fucking Christ—then grabbed Bran by the wrist. Bran’s first instinct was to dig his heels in and shake the guy off, but his dick was practically poking a hole through his zipper, whiskey be damned.
Jonathan pulled him toward the front door, but Bran jerked his head in the opposite direction. “This way.” They marched toward the back, past the men’s room, which of course Jonathan tried to tug him into. Bran tugged him back. “Don’t disrespect their space.”
Jonathan’s eyebrows shot up again, but he didn’t argue.
They stumbled out the back door, into the alley. It’d rained earlier, which helped to drown out the stench of piss and rotting garbage at least a little. Too-bright sodium lights on the bar’s back façade glistened off the damp pavement and burned halos through the humid air.
Not the nicest place he’d ever fucked, but he kinda liked it exactly for that reason; twenty bucks said Jonathan was appalled that even the soles his shoes had to touch this filthy ground. He backed Jonathan against the brick alley wall, a little harder than he’d meant to in his urgency, but Jonathan only smiled up at him.
Bran wanted to ravage that smile right off his smug little face.
“I wanna fuck you,” Bran growled into Jonathan’s neck. He had four or five inches and twenty pounds on the guy; he could pick him up, fuck him right against the wall. “I wanna—”
Fingers closed over his wrist as he reached for Jonathan’s zipper. A sharp flash of pain, and next he knew, he was on his knees in a fucking puddle, cold water seeping through his jeans, wrist still clamped in Jonathan’s hand.
“What the fuck?” Bran tried to pull away, couldn’t. Fuck, that hurt. Tried swatting at Jonathan with his other hand, but ended up grabbing the wall to keep from toppling over. The first stirrings of fear cut through the pleasant haze of liquor and lust he’d been dumb enough to let himself sink into.
And yet he couldn’t quite shake it off. Didn’t want to—too fucking horny. And how fucked up was that?
No more fucked up, he supposed, than Jonathan, who caught his eye and smirked that self-satisfied smirk as he worked down his zipper with his free hand and pulled out his dick. He was already rock hard, and surprisingly well-endowed for such a short guy. Longer than Bran’s, actually, straight and thick . . . and sprinkled with freckles, just like the bridge of his nose. Bran’s mouth watered.
Was he serious? “You’re out of your fucking mind. Let go of my hand.”
Jonathan let go—and grabbed hold of Bran’s hair instead, tugging his face into his crotch. That impressive erection slid right past Bran’s shock-slackened lips.
For a split second, Bran considered biting him, but . . . damn, he tasted good, felt even better, firm and heavy on his tongue. His hand drifted down, cupping his own dick through the confines of his jeans. He was already so fucking hard he knew he’d come if he touched himself skin to skin.
“That’s right,” Jonathan said. “Hands on me. Take that cock—you know you want it.”
The hell of it was, he did.
Jonathan’s fist tightened in his hair until it felt like he’d rip it right out, shoved his head forward until his chin hit Jonathan’s nuts. He gagged, tried to pull back, but Jonathan held him firm.
“I said suck it,” Jonathan growled, yanking Bran’s head back until only the tip was in his mouth, then jerking him forward again.
Bran’s hands came up to Jonathan’s hips, grabbed hard, but whether to shove him away or drag him closer, he couldn’t quite tell. All he knew was his balls were hot and tight, his dick pulsing with every rapid beat of his heart, every thrust of Jonathan’s dick down his throat, every painful tug on his hair, and if he let go of Jonathan’s hips he’d touch himself and come until he passed out in this filthy fucking alley and he didn’t want it to end yet, didn’t—
Jonathan groaned and came, flooding his mouth with salty bitterness. He tried to pull off, but Jonathan held him there, fingers tightening until his eyes watered and the pressure in his belly, back, and balls fucking exploded, set the world to swaying, and only Jonathan’s hand in his hair kept him upright as his chest hitched and his muscles spasmed with the force of it.
“Swallow it.” He did, since Jonathan was giving him no choice. It tasted fucking disgusting, but he felt too good to care very much.
Jesus, like a fucking teenager again, coming in my own pants. He wiped his mouth, looked up at Jonathan’s smug smile. How did he fucking do that to me?
Bran wobbled to his feet, hand flailing out to catch hold of the wall. Jonathan stared at his lips—no doubt red and swollen from their recent punishment—and licked his own. He leaned in to peck Bran on the cheek, then ducked his head to refasten his pants.
“So . . .” Jonathan said. He fished into his pocket, retrieved his wallet, snagged a business card and handed it to Bran. “Perhaps you’d like to see me again sometime? Dinner maybe? Do it right?”
Do it right? What was he, some blushing virgin? But he had to admit, he was feeling better than he had all day. Hell, better than he had in the last couple of months.
“Yeah, maybe.” He took the business card, stuck it in his pocket. “Don’t get lost on the way home, Gweilo. This neighborhood’s a little rough at night.”
Jonathan laughed, winked at him. “Oh, don’t worry about me,” he said. “I can take care of myself.”
Bran didn’t doubt that for a second.
* * *
Bran landed face-first in his pillow the moment he got home, and slept like the dead. Didn’t stop him waking up with a monster hangover, though, his eyes burning in his skull like a pair of boiled eggs. That’s what he got for being stupid enough to get shitfaced. Usually one beer was his limit.
He dragged himself out of bed and stumbled to the kitchenette for a glass of water, realizing two steps in that he was still wearing his jeans—and they were fucking disgusting, knees still damp with alley slime, crotch stiff and crusted with last night’s loss of control. Jesus, what the fuck had come over him?
Jonathan, apparently. Or whatever his name really was.
He knocked back his water in one huge gulp, then unzipped his jeans and peeled them off. They stuck to him, pulling at his pubes. That’s what you get for having casual sex in an alley, idiot. Probably have herpes now.
And I’d fucking deserve it.
. . . But damn, it really had been kind of hot. Fuck “kind of.” Try “insanely.” He chuckled, and his headache spiked.
Gritting his teeth, he gingerly disengaged his pants from his pubes, dropped them where he stood, and headed for a shower. He stayed under the hot spray until his skin stung, toweled off, threw on clean boxers and an undershirt, and trudged back into the living room. He scooped up his dirty jeans and was about to toss them in the laundry basket when his wallet fell out of the back pocket. A business card fell out along with it.
Oh, right. Mr. Bossy had given it to him. Bran hadn’t even bothered looking at it before. Jonathan S. Watkins. Name and phone number. Nothing else. What the hell kind of business card was that? He flipped it over, but the back was blank.
Watkins . . . Jonathan Watkins . . . Why did that sound so familiar?
He fired up his ancient desktop, drumming his fingers on the desk while he waited for Google to load.
17,400,00 results? What the fuck? Who was this guy?
Ex-CEO of the world’s largest computer empire, apparently. And current Chairman of the Watkins Foundation, charitable organization extraordinaire. Yup, the photo matched. Jesus, the guy didn’t even look thirty.
Holy shit. I blew a fucking billionaire.
Bran picked up the plain white business card again, flicked it with his thumb. Did this guy really want to see him again? What for? Last night was a little fuzzy, but he didn’t actually recall Jonathan drinking more than a sip. But he had given Bran his card—his personal card, from the look of things.
Bran fingered his cell phone. Looked back at his computer screen. Surely a guy like Jonathan wouldn’t answer his own phone. A secretary maybe. Or a personal assistant. Whatever guys with more money than God hired.
Eh, he probably didn’t really want Bran to call him, anyway. Probably just felt bad leaving his bit of rough on his knees in an alley with cum dripping down his chin.
And yet, he had invited him to dinner, hadn’t he? Or had Bran been so drunk he’d imagined it?
Only one way to find out. Bran flicked on his phone and punched in Jonathan’s number. It rang twice before the line clicked on.
“Hello, Brandon. How’s your headache?”
What. The. Fuck? “How did you know it was me?” Who was this guy, some kind of fucking stalker? Bran went to the window and parted his drapes, feeling ridiculous even as he did so.
Jonathan chuckled. “Do you know who I am yet?”
Bran hesitated. “Uh, yeah.”
“Well, there you go. So, dinner tonight?”
“You sure you got time for me? Sounds like you’re pretty busy.”
“I managed to squeeze you in last night, didn’t I?”
“Fuck you,” Bran replied, but his words lacked the bite he’d intended.
Another chuckle. “Eight o’clock, then? I’ll send my car to pick you up.”
The line went dead before Bran could even tell him where he lived.
* * *
Bran’s doorbell rang around four in the afternoon, jarring him from his concentration. He eyed the door, eyed the numbers he was crunching for his business plan, eyed the door again. He wasn’t expecting anyone, and the mailman had already come. Unless it was . . . No, Jonathan wouldn’t show up four hours early. Would he?
Fuck it, the plan was more important if he had even the slightest hope of getting a loan. He went back to his numbers.
The doorbell rang again.
Bran sighed, scrubbed his hands across his face. The lingering remnants of his hangover flared at the noise. “All right, all right, I’m coming,” he called, pushing up from his desk. Whatever. He’d been sitting in the damn folding chair too long anyway.
He swung the door open to find a uniformed courier holding a black leather garment bag. “Delivery from Mr. Jonathan Watkins for Mr. Brandon McKinney?”
Bran blinked. “What is it?”
“No idea, sir. We’re not allowed to inspect the packages.” The courier handed him the garment bag and turned to go.
“Wait a minute.” Bran dug in his pocket, but all he came up with was a crumpled dollar bill and a handful of change. Still, better than nothing.
The delivery man shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, sir. It’s been taken care of.” He headed off before Bran could reply or give the bag back.
The hell? This guy thinks I can’t dress myself?
He thought about leaving the bag in the hallway. But then, he supposed wherever Jonathan was taking him, he probably didn’t own a nice enough suit. Might as well see what he’d sent.
He took it inside, laid it across the bed and unzipped it, breath catching at what was inside. At first he thought the three-piece suit was black, but subtle navy tones shone in the light when he lifted it up. Soft, soft wool from the feel of it, maybe even a wool/cashmere blend. The pristine white dress shirt underneath was definitely silk, with stiff French cuffs. Last time he’d worn anything even half this nice was to his mother’s funeral. He didn’t even own cufflinks anymore.
But of course the pretentious asshole had thought of that too: silver, or maybe platinum, nestled in a little velvet box along with a matching tie clip. Simple and elegant. And probably a month’s rent, too, the ostentatious little shit.
There were shoes and cashmere socks, leather belt and a tie, too. The shoes so polished he could see his reflection, the belt supple as suede, the tie the exact same shade of green as his eyes.
One last thing in the garment bag, too dark to discern until he pulled it out and saw . . . underwear?
Are you fucking kidding me?
He wadded the black silk boxer-briefs with the intent of hurling them across the room, and found a little handwritten note pinned to the waistband: Boxers ruin the line of the suit —J.
Oh, fuck this, and fuck him too. He knocked the whole ensemble onto the floor with one furious swipe. What the hell did Jonathan think this was—Pretty Woman? Just because he’d sucked the guy’s dick didn’t make him a whore.
Still, the attention was strangely flattering. He bent down, picked the clothes up off the floor. Shook out the suit, smoothed a hand along one sleeve. God, it was so fucking soft.
Couldn’t hurt to try it on before he sent it back with a “Fuck you.” Just to see what it felt like to stand—literally—in a billionaire’s shoes.
He stripped off his T-shirt and jeans—and after a moment’s hesitation, took off his boxers too. The black silk whispered over his skin. He pulled on the pants next, then the shirt. He’d never worn anything so nice in his life. Or so perfectly fitted. Like it was made for him. Probably was, actually; he hadn’t seen a single label on anything.
His fingers felt clumsy as he put on the cufflinks, the tie, the vest and the jacket, then sat down on the edge of his unmade bed to slip on the socks and the shiny black brogues.
Jesus, this was creepy. Had Jonathan had his credit card statements hacked? How else would he know what size Bran was? Know exactly, too—enough to custom tailor, because this sure as shit hadn’t come off some rack somewhere. No labels in anything. Even the shoes fit perfectly.
He studied himself in the full-length mirror on the back of his bathroom door. Barely even recognized himself. He looked like a fucking executive or something, despite his shaggy hair. No, like a business owner. Stupid as it was, it kind of made him feel like maybe it was possible to buy Sung Integrated Design. Rename it, maybe: McKinney Integrated Design.
Jesus, Bran, what are you, five? Playing dress-up? Really?
Apparently so, because long after he stepped away from the mirror and returned to his P&Ls and his five-year plan, he still hadn’t changed out of the damn suit. Hadn’t even loosened the tie. Maybe he’d go out with that arrogant little fuck after all. Just once. Just to see what the high life was really like.
Jonathan sipped his green tea and glanced at his phone. Five minutes till eight, and no sign of Brandon. No word from him, either, and the suit had been delivered hours ago. Had he pushed too hard? Overstepped his bounds?
Jonathan waved off the head waiter, who’d come over to refill his cup, and toyed again with the notion of calling his driver. But no . . . He was so rarely surprised—so rarely denied—it was actually quite delicious to remain in suspense. He loved being uncertain what Brandon would do. What an intriguing man Brandon was turning out to be. So defiant on the outside, and yet so submissive deep down. God, he’d come in his pants on his knees at Jonathan’s feet. All Jonathan’d had to do was pull Brandon’s hair and shove himself down the man’s throat.
Upon consideration, maybe that was the problem. Big tough construction worker, on his own since he was fifteen. Not the kind of man to admit he liked being dominated. In fact, despite the obvious submissive bent, he seemed to have a rather toppy vibe himself. A switch, maybe? Well, wasn’t that just half the pleasure of getting him on his knees?
Jonathan smiled and shifted a little in his chair. Thank goodness for dimly lit rooms and long tablecloths.
Forget the tea. He needed something stronger.
He picked up the wine menu, and the sommelier virtually materialized at the table. Jonathan knew little of Chinese liquor, so he let the man recommend a Wuliangye baijou nearly as old as he was. The sommelier left, returned with the bottle a few minutes later. Poured Jonathan a taste. It looked like white wine . . . and tasted like soy sauce mixed with Everclear.
Ah well. He supposed it would settle his nerves.
And clear out my sinuses.
He sipped his baijou—very, very slowly—and cast another glance at his cell phone. 8:03. Perhaps he should call his driver.
Brandon sauntered in at last—eight minutes late—completely worth the wait for the sight of that long lean body in jacket and vest, wavy ginger hair combed back and curling softly at the nape of his neck. Jonathan’s fingers itched to card through that silky length again. To grab a good handful and yank.
Goddamn he looked good in that suit. And judging by the smirk on his face, he knew it.
Not just a smirk, though. The lines around the eyes and the stiffness in his shoulders held anger, irritation. Maybe even a touch of trepidation.
“I’m glad you came,” Jonathan said. He made to stand but thought better of it; no need to give Brandon the upper hand by letting him see how . . . powerfully he was affecting Jonathan. “But I have to say I’m not quite sure why you did if you’re so upset with me.”
Brandon’s smile froze uncomfortably on his face, just for a moment, before his swagger reasserted itself. “It’s not every day a guy sends me a three-piece suit. Or takes me to the most expensive restaurant in Chinatown. In a limo.”
“So I’m just a meal ticket, then?”
“I can buy my own dinner, thanks. And I’m sending the suit back tomorrow.”
Jonathan grinned at the flash of fierceness, but couldn’t quite resist replying, “Eating cold chili out of a can over the sink is hardly what I’d call a decent meal.”
This time Brandon’s smile fell clean away and he took a single step back, as if to flee from Jonathan right then and there. “How did you—?”
He clenched his jaw, but too late; the question—the confirmation—was already out.
And yet he’s still here. Curious after all, then.
No, not just curious. Compelled.
“Please”—Jonathan waved at the chair opposite him with his wineglass—“sit.”
Brandon hesitated, hand poised on the back of his chair. Studied Jonathan for a long moment, jaw working, before he finally sat down. And wasted no time pouring himself a big glass of the baijou.
“Careful—” Jonathan began, but Brandon waved him off and said, “I’ll drink your damn $3,000 Wuliangye if I want to.”
Interesting. Jonathan gestured with his glass again—By all means.
“Shit,” Brandon said after another sip, “this stuff is good. The sommelier has good taste.”
As if I don’t. But Jonathan decided to let it pass—this time.
Brandon fidgeted with the imperfect knot of his tie, and Jonathan’s eyes zoomed in on those long thin fingers, nicked and calloused but clean. “So how the hell did you know what size I wear? This suit fits like I ordered it myself.”
Jonathan smiled. “I have a good eye. And you have a great body. I enjoyed dressing you up.”
“What, like I’m some kind of doll?”
“Please,” Jonathan drawled, “don’t pretend you’re not enjoying the feel of that fabric against your skin.”
“I do have my own suit, you know. Picked it out myself and everything,” Brandon added, dry as the Wuliangye.
A dozen different replies rose to Jonathan’s lips, but there he kept them; best to let the man have his pride, at least for now. He smiled. “Yes, well, how about we order?”
The waiter, ever attentive, took that as his cue to join them with menus. It seemed all the wonderful things he’d heard about this place were entirely justified. But then he opened his menu, and his smile faded. Chinese. Every last word. “Hmm,” he said, “Perhaps we should ask for recommendations?”
But when he looked up, Brandon was studying the menu with feigned interest. “Hmm,” Brandon drawled, in what struck Jonathan as a deliberate imitation. “Have you ever had stuffed lotus leaves?”
Two can play at this game. “Why not. What are they stuffed with?”
Brandon consulted the menu again, then said, “Sticky rice, Chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, and sun-dried shrimp.”
Everything he’d stopped eating a long time ago. Too bad. “Very . . . creative. Unfortunately, I’m a vegetarian.”
Brandon’s brows furrowed. “You don’t eat meat? How about fish?”
Brandon turned back to the menu, forehead crinkling. “Okay. Guess we can get them to substitute tofu. That all right?”
Jonathan shrugged, curious to see how far Brandon would take this. Brandon turned to the waiter, and began speaking—in rapid-fire Chinese.
Jonathan pushed back in his chair, closed his open mouth as the waiter nodded, said something back.
How on earth had his investigators missed this? True they’d only had a day, but they’d dug up everything from his shoe size to his eating habits, for God’s sake; surely a Chinese education would’ve been easier to find than that?
Brandon turned to him with a feral grin—all teeth, far too many teeth, and humor at Jonathan’s expense—and said, “They’re making yours with tofu and seitan. Hope you don’t mind me taking the liberty.”
Mind? Delighted, more like. It’d been a long time since anyone had surprised him quite so often, and it was wonderful to confirm there was more to Brandon than a hot body and a gorgeous face.
Good. Beautiful faces got old fast, but beautiful minds . . . well, that was an entirely different story. A beautiful face to go with it was just icing on the cake.
Brandon was still grinning at him with a million teeth. “I thought you knew everything about me,” he said. “Investigators miss a bit?”
“I suppose they did.”
“You should fire them.”
Jonathan laughed, and Brandon joined him. “So how does a construction worker learn Chinese?”
That seemed to be the wrong thing to say; Brandon stiffened, put his teeth away. “Fourteen years in Chinatown. How could I not? You think I’m an idiot just ’cause I work with my hands? ’Cause I never finished high school?”
“I did get my GED, you know. Even got my associate’s. Okay, so maybe it’s not MIT, but fuck you for thinking you’re better than me for having money.”
Brandon shoved away from the table so hard he nearly tipped his chair, and Jonathan reached across, grabbing his wrist. The look Brandon shot him was downright dangerous, but he didn’t let go.
“That’s not what I meant,” Jonathan said slowly. “Do you really think I’d bother with you if I thought you were stupid? I have better things to do with my time.”
“Like pick up strangers in dive bars?” Brandon jerked his wrist from Jonathan’s hand. “A little blue-collar rough and tumble, a face-fuck in an alley, and back to your limo and your Ivy League pals, is that it?”
“MIT isn’t actually an Ivy League—”
“Oh shut up!” Brandon whirled toward the door, took two steps, whirled back again. “God, you’re infuriating!”
Jonathan’s lips quirked into a grin. “And yet you’re still here.”
“If either of us goes, it’s gonna be you.” Brandon reached for his wine, glaring daggers at Jonathan over the rim of his glass. Positively adorable. “Haven’t eaten yet.”
“Thought you could get your own dinner.”
He drained his glass and sat back down on the very edge of his seat, body language screaming, Push me again and I’m outta here. “Fuck you. I ordered it, didn’t I?”
Jonathan leaned forward, planted his elbows on the table and smiled over his laced fingers. “Have you any idea how badly I want to kiss you right now?”
Brandon rolled his eyes. A step in the right direction, perhaps; exasperation was better than anger. “Think you’re pretty funny, don’t you?”
“Are you going to tell me to fuck myself again? Because honestly, it’d be a lot more fun if you joined me.”
Brandon snorted, shaking his head like he couldn’t believe Jonathan’s audacity. And was that a smile fighting its way onto his face? “This time I expect dinner first,” he said. “Wouldn’t want you to think I’m too easy.” Another flash of white, white teeth. “Takes more than a five-thousand-dollar suit to get into my pants.”
And worth every penny.
* * *
Watching Brandon eat was sheer pornography. He’d ordered himself some beef dish which he wolfed down with relish, licking drops of plum sauce off his long fingers. Surely he had to know what that was doing to Jonathan’s . . . appetite. Jonathan could barely keep his attention on his own plate, superlative as the food was. One of the best meals he’d had in months—and he had a private chef.
Slightly tipsy, he leaned back in his seat and enjoyed the view. How on earth did Brandon keep that body with such an obviously prodigious appetite? Well, he no doubt did a lot of heavy lifting at work. And after work, too; a man like that must beat off prospects with a stick.
Soon the waiter cleared away their dessert plates and left them staring at each other across the table. Brandon’s eyes looked positively post-coital—a little sleepy, a little tipsy, a lot sated. God, to put that look on his face every day . . . and not just from food and wine.
Every day? Getting a little ahead of yourself there, aren’t you, Jonathan?
No point denying they both wanted it tonight, though. So why were they still sitting here? He cleared his throat, hitched a thumb over his shoulder toward a row of windows. “My driver’s in the parking lot.”
Brandon stood with a grin and took off toward the exit, leaving Jonathan, with his much shorter stride, to jog behind him.
He’d have to pay for that later, Jonathan thought with a grin.
Brandon stopped short at the curb, gazing around the parking lot. “Uh, which limo is yours?”
Jonathan smiled and signaled to his driver, who started up a black Mercedes and drove it over. Jonathan had never much been one for cars, but this one, elegant and guilt-free with its emissionless hydrogen fuel cell, got him every time. He waved off the valet and opened the back door himself, then ushered Brandon in with a flourish. “Age before beauty.”
Brandon snickered and slapped him on the butt before sliding in. Jonathan climbed in after, knocked on the divider, and off they went. His gaze followed Brandon’s to the bottle of Veuve Cliquot in the silver ice bucket in front of them. “Care for a glass?” Jonathan asked.
“Think we’ve had enough, don’t you? I mean, I want to make sure your dick still works by the time we get to your place.”
Jonathan laughed and slid closer. “Fair enough. But why wait?”
He grabbed Brandon by his tie and dragged him in for a kiss.
The tie clip popped right off and landed God knew where. “Hey—” Brandon said, but Jonathan cut him off with another kiss.
“Forget it. I’ll buy you a new one.”
Brandon pulled back, lips twisting into a scowl. “Or we could just, you know, look for it.”
Jonathan shrugged, smiled, undid a shirt button peeking out over Brandon’s vest and slid his hand inside, all smooth fabric and smooth skin and God, he had to have this man. “Or we could just, you know, do this instead.” Questing fingers found a nipple, pinched gently.
Brandon’s head tipped back on a moan, irritation forgotten.
Jonathan’s free hand traveled up Brandon’s throat, slid round to the back of his head. He cupped Brandon’s skull in his palm for a few precious moments before seizing a handful of hair. Brandon gasped, but didn’t try to pull away. In fact, he leaned into it, head lolling back into Jonathan’s grasp.
Impossible to resist that sleek, smooth expanse of throat, pulse throbbing visibly, clean line of ginger scruff beneath the chin. Jonathan locked his lips on it and sucked hard, Brandon’s breath catching as his teeth nipped hot flesh. He tightened his fingers, yanked Brandon’s head back and held him there, trailing lips and teeth along the underside of Brandon’s jaw. When he’d taken his fill—for the moment, anyway—he pushed Brandon’s head back down until their lips met, then guided Brandon’s mouth to his own throat.
“If you shove my face into your crotch again,” Brandon rumbled, teeth flashing, “I’m gonna fucking bite you.”
Jonathan chuckled, fingers tightening past the point of pain in Brandon’s hair—Brandon gasped against his throat, teeth scraping again—and said, “I didn’t hear you complaining last night, Mr. So Turned On I Came In My Pants.”
“Oh, you fucker . . .”
Brandon’s hands reached up to tangle in Jonathan’s hair. “Ah ah ah,” Jonathan said, very deliberately taking one of Brandon’s wrists, then the other, and laying them across Brandon’s lap.
“What, I don’t get to touch you back?”
“You have to earn it first.”
Brandon snorted, shook his head—or tried to, anyway; Jonathan’s fist in his hair held him fast. “You think awfully highly of yourself, don’t you.”
An insult on the surface, but the man was smiling, smiling, endless rows of straight white teeth on display. Jonathan jerked his chin at Brandon’s crotch and said, “Your cock seems to think pretty highly of me too. Perhaps it’d like a kiss?”
“Well, fuck,” Brandon said.
As if on cue, the limo rolled to a halt. A few seconds later, Jonathan’s driver opened the door. No shock at the sight that greeted him; he’d been with Jonathan long enough to expect far more salacious things than a simple kiss.
Brandon gave a nervous chuckle and whispered, “Planning on letting go of my hair, or are we just gonna fuck in the back of the limo like a couple of teenagers?”
Jonathan smiled and gave one last hard yank on Brandon’s hair. Brandon winced, made a face at him and rubbed at his head when Jonathan let go.
“The limo’s nice, but my bed’s much nicer.”
“Must be a damn nice bed. Lead on, then.”
He couldn’t help but notice how Brandon’s eyes widened when he got a look at the building—clearly dazzled, almost slack-jawed. But Brandon didn’t try to linger; they hurried through the lobby hand in hand, Jonathan nodding at the doorman and security guard as they greeted him, pulling Brandon along behind him to his private elevator. As it started the long slow climb to the penthouse, he turned to Brandon, backed him into a wall and bracketed that narrow waist in both arms. “So,” he said, leaning in to nuzzle at his throat. “Thirty-four floors. Whatever shall we do in the meantime?”
Brandon smirked. “You could suck my dick this time,” he said, putting his hands on Jonathan’s shoulders. But when he tried to push him down, Jonathan refused to budge.
Brandon sighed. “So I can’t touch you, you won’t blow me . . . remind me again what I’m doing here?”
“I just thought this time you’d like to come with your pants off.”
“You’re never gonna let me live that down, are you?”
The elevator dinged before Jonathan could summon up a suitably pithy reply, the doors gliding open on his foyer. He slipped an arm around Brandon’s waist and led him inside.
Brandon took two steps and froze, eyes tracking from the marble tiles to the crown molding to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bay. “Jesus,” he whispered, pacing slowly toward the nearest wall, running reverent fingers over a seascape mural, a framed Tomasz Rut original. “Jesus,” he said again, and then, turning to run those fingers over Jonathan’s smooth cheek, “Bedroom. Where is it?”
Jonathan took his hand and tugged him down the hallway. Lights flicked on ahead of them and blinked out behind them as they stumbled toward the bedroom. Brandon looked back at the living room, now lit only by the built-in reef tank that divided the living room from the office, and said, “Fancy,” but seemed to give it no more thought.
They crossed into the bedroom and Brandon started to pull off his jacket. Up came Jonathan’s hands to stop him.
“What is it with you?” Brandon demanded. “I can’t touch you, can’t undress myself. You won’t blow me. What d’you want me to do, just stand here and let you yank my hair out of my scalp?”
The smile slid off Jonathan’s lips to be replaced with something softer, more sensual. “Relax,” he murmured, stepping forward to smooth his palms up Brandon’s chest. “Let me take care of you.”
Brandon bristled beneath his touch. “I don’t need—”
“I know you don’t.” Jonathan dropped one hand to Brandon’s crotch, cupping him gently. “But isn’t it fun sometimes?”
Brandon half-whimpered, half-moaned, and dropped onto the edge of the bed, legs splayed. Jonathan leaned in to straddle his lap, dusting a kiss across his lips before reaching down to unbutton all those layers. God, why did I buy him a three-piece suit again? “See? Isn’t this better than some back alley?”
Brandon’s lips twitched. “Better than kneeling in a puddle.”
Jonathan pushed Brandon’s shirt, vest, and jacket as one down to his elbows, exposing miles of farmer-tanned skin sprinkled with freckles almost the same shade as his hair. Hard to resist the urge to play connect the dots with his teeth; he settled instead for running lips and tongue over flat planes of muscle—the top of a pec, a bared shoulder, a beautiful triceps. Michelangelo’s David.
He slid the top layers off completely, then nudged Brandon in the chest until he got a clue and lay down. Jonathan followed with his lips, tasting the ridges of Brandon’s stomach, the sparse ginger happy trail, the impressive bulge straining at the suit pants. Brandon’s hands settled in his hair—not pulling, not threading, just resting there—but Jonathan shook his head and said, softly, “No.”
Brandon returned his arms to his sides. Jonathan had known he would.
Back to Brandon’s pants. Jonathan pulled the tongue of the belt from the buckle with his teeth, fingers busy tickling tracks up and down Brandon’s flanks. Brandon gasped, squirmed beneath him. “Fuck, Jonathan,” he moaned, hips thrusting up as Jonathan rubbed his cheek against Brandon’s trapped cock. “Come on . . .”
“Patience.” A smile as he pulled Brandon’s belt through the loops. It slithered into his hand, and for a moment he couldn’t help but imagine the sound that soft Italian leather would make against the pale expanse of Brandon’s back, that perfect ass, Brandon gasping and writhing and begging beneath him.
God, what lovely marks it would make.
But not now. Not yet.
It would probably help to get him out of his pants first. Button undone, zipper down, he hooked his thumbs in Brandon’s belt loops and tugged them down, silk boxer briefs and all.
Brandon flashed him a crooked smirk. “I just got this suit, and now you can’t wait to get me out of it?”
“What do you think I bought it for?”
Eyes back on task. As if the rest of him weren’t impressive enough, Brandon’s cock alone—a healthy handful, thick but not impractically long—would’ve made Jonathan drool. For once, he was actually tempted to bottom. But tonight he had other plans.
He slid his palms up Brandon’s bare thighs, brushed teasing fingers through his pubic hair. Brandon moaned again, angled his hips, but Jonathan was careful not to touch him where he so clearly craved it. “Up,” he said, pulling one hand away to tap at Brandon’s leg. “You’re half off the bed here.”
Brandon rose up on his elbows and scooted fully onto the bed without a second’s hesitation, back coming to rest against a pile of pillows, head against the headboard. He spread his legs, watched as Jonathan crawled up between them. So gorgeous, so hungry for something Jonathan had an inkling he’d never experienced before. Hard to believe no one had taken the time to enjoy every delight this beautiful man had to offer.
All that lovely skin, just begging to be kissed. Jonathan started in the middle of his chest and worked in circles, painting wet little curlicues with the tip of his tongue. Brandon let out a startled moan and brought up a hand to tangle in Jonathan’s hair. Jonathan’s first instinct was to shake it off again, but it was such a gentle touch he allowed it this time. Nothing wrong with a little give and take—within reason.
“Jesus, you trying to tease me to death?” Brandon choked out. That strangled sound went straight to Jonathan’s cock. He could imagine Brandon making that noise again with his hands around his throat. It might frighten Brandon at first, but he’d love it, the loss of air, the rush of blood, the dizzying delight at the first stolen breath when at last it came. The ecstasy of it all, a pleasure unveiled the likes of which he’d never known—
Honestly, Jonathan, not exactly first-date material. Try not to make him think you’re a serial killer.
He nuzzled into the hollow beneath Brandon’s collarbone, then glanced behind him with a smile. Eyed the handcuffs he always kept there, dangling discreetly from the bedposts.
But maybe just a little taste . . .
Lacing their fingers together, he slid Brandon’s right hand up the pillow, pressing a kiss to his parted lips, darting his tongue inside. Brandon arched up beneath him, fingers tightening around Jonathan’s own.
Distraction achieved, Jonathan grabbed the loose end of the handcuff and snapped it over Brandon’s wrist.
Bran jerked from his lust-induced stupor at the first touch of cold steel on his wrist. “What the fuck?” he shouted, shoving at Jonathan with his free hand and giving the cuff a hard tug. It didn’t budge. “Get this shit off me right now. I’m not kidding, pal.”
“Easy, easy.” Hands out and open, Jonathan sat back on his heels. “Look, do you trust me?”
“I don’t even know you! I never saw you before last night. First you shove your dick down my throat, now you’re chaining me to your bed?” He rattled the cuff again, jerked it so hard he hurt himself. Shit, still not budging.
Jonathan swung his legs over the side of the bed and reached into the nightstand, pulling out a little silver key. He laid it on the edge of the table, within easy reach of Bran’s free hand. “Go ahead and unlock yourself if you really want to. I won’t stop you. But . . .” Jonathan pointed at Bran’s crotch, and to Bran’s utter chagrin—What the fuck?—he realized he was still hard. Throbbing, in fact, a bead of pre-cum dribbling down the aching crown of his dick.
Jonathan leaned in to lick it off. Bran gasped, bucked his hips, and Jonathan parted those pretty red lips and swallowed him to the root.
He threw his head back so hard he banged it against the headboard.
Headboard . . . something about a key . . .
Fuck it. Who could think anyway with Jonathan swallowing around his dick like that? Jesus, didn’t the guy have a gag reflex?
Jonathan sucked him until black spots danced in front of his eyes. Another second and it would’ve been all over, but Jonathan pulled off just in time. Bran cursed, reached out for that thick dark hair—
And the handcuff rattled against the bedpost.
Jonathan sat back on Bran’s thighs and licked his swollen lips, his grin as smug and filthy as a porn star thrusting out a twelve-inch dick. He scraped one hand up Bran’s chest, fingernails first, to tweak a nipple, and said, “Not yet, Brandon. I’m not finished with you yet.”
Why the hell did he keep calling him that? “Bran, not Brandon. I told you before.”
“I refuse to call you something that gives me the runs.” A pause, “Even if you are kind of—”
“Okay, okay! Don’t say it or I’m walking.”
Jonathan leaned over him to reach for the nightstand again, and for one hot-cold moment, Bran thought he was calling his bluff, grabbing the handcuff key and sending him on his way. But instead he opened the drawer, pulled out a condom and a squeeze-bottle of lube.
“Fuck yeah,” Bran said, eyes darting from the lube to the curve of Jonathan’s thighs. “Ride me.”
The look Jonathan threw him at that could best be described as Disapproving Schoolteacher. Didn’t even bother to correct him. Just: “Spread those lovely legs of yours, if you’d be so kind.”
Suddenly that hot-cold feeling went completely cold. “Uh, wait a minute. I haven’t bottomed in, like, years.”
Jonathan flipped open the lube and squeezed some onto his fingers. “Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.”
“Yeah, right.” Bran rattled the handcuff. “This looks real gentle to me.”
Jonathan nodded toward the nightstand. “There’s the key.”
Yup, there it was. But no way was he going home tonight without getting off first. This smug little fucker owed him that much.
Which must have been permission enough for Jonathan, because he elbowed Bran’s knees apart and thrust what felt like his entire fucking hand up his ass.
“Ow!” Bran jerked back, cracked his head against the headboard again. Jonathan’s fingers followed, still lodged firmly inside even as he closed his legs, kicked at him. Jonathan captured his ankles one-handed and pinned him with his body.
Bran struggled until he wore himself out. Couldn’t free his legs, couldn’t even dislodge Jonathan’s fingers from his ass. Demanded instead, “What happened to being gentle?”
“Sorry,” Jonathan said, batting completely un-sorry eyelashes at him over his stupid fucking un-sorry Bambi-eyes. Then he pulled out a fraction, crooked his un-sorry little fingers, and pressed.
Bran suddenly forgot what he was so upset about.
Holy fuck I’m gonna come, he’s not even fucking touching my dick and I’m—
The fingers disappeared, and from a thousand miles away, a smug little “Ah ah ah” floated round his head. “I said I wasn’t finished with you yet.”
“Finish, then,” he growled. “For fuck’s sake, please.”
“Ah, there’s the magic word.” Jonathan hoisted up Bran’s knees, settled his hips between them, and plunged inside.
Bran clenched his jaw on his shout—I won’t give the smug fucker that. But Jesus, it hurt—for about thirty seconds, and then the sharp stab of entry faded to a slow burn. He gritted his teeth until the sensation eased into an ache that actually felt good. Too good. Every thrust teased his prostate, made his own neglected cock bounce against his belly.
“Jesus, touch me.”
“You’ve got a free hand,” Jonathan huffed, not even breaking rhythm, “Go ahead and use it.”
He would have, but it was wrapped around the other bedpost, right beneath the dangling handcuff. How the hell had that happened?
Before he could think too hard about that, Jonathan’s fingers wrapped around his dick and drove all the thoughts right out of his head. One stroke, two—
And he came so hard he splattered his own chin.
Jonathan never broke stride, pounding into Bran’s ass and carrying him through the orgasm, on and on and fucking on, milking him so hard he couldn’t breathe, milking him raw, and “Okay, enough,” he panted. Peeled his fingers from the bedpost, shoved at Jonathan’s shoulder. But his muscles had gone all limp and liquid, and yeah, it hurt, but no more than the fingers had, and fuck if it wasn’t kind of . . . well, not all bad, anyway, and the sight of Jonathan’s eyes fierce and boring into him as intently as his dick, lips pulled back with the force of his pleasure, was crazy fucking hot—
Jonathan stilled, hands tightening painfully on Bran’s thighs—and what was with this guy and hurting him, anyway?—then pushed in deep and let go with a strangled gasp.
His dick slid from Bran’s abused ass, and he collapsed on top of him, slick skin to slick skin, panting into Bran’s chest. Bran wasn’t much of a cuddler, but he had to admit he liked the feel of Jonathan atop him, the heat and solidity of him, the gentleness of his kisses a shocking contrast to what had come before.
When their breathing settled, Jonathan rolled off, sat up, and grabbed the handcuff key.
Shit, he’d forgotten all about that. Odd, since now that he thought about it, his wrist was stupidly sore and his hand was tingling, half numb.
Jonathan peppered it with kisses as he freed it. “So lovely,” he said, drawing Bran’s wrist down to where Bran could see it, running a single fingertip over the redness there.
“Uh.” Bran pulled his hand away, used it to push his hair off his face. “Yeah. Sure. But look, next time? Maybe we skip the cuffs, okay?”
Jonathan fixed him with a steady gaze. “Look me in the eye and tell me that wasn’t the best orgasm of your life.”
He opened his mouth to say exactly that, but then closed it. He was too fucked out to lie.
POWER PLAY: RESISTANCE is so incredibly intense . . . [O]ne of the most compelling books I have read in a very long time. You must go on to read the next book . . .
[E]xtremely well-written characterizations lead to an exceptionally intense story of what it really means to have a power exchange between two people. Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz have written a stunning book.
[Power Play: Resistance] grabbed me from beginning to end. It was intense, emotional, utterly fascinating . . . [I]t made me want more.
What a book. What a story. I think this is one I need in paperback just to put on my shelf.
[S]plendid and fascinating.