As Jones consulted with his team, Brian worked on the front display and debated his impulsive move. Jones was gay and hot. In New York, Brian would have no qualms about hooking up. Jones would be back to L.A. in a couple weeks anyway. But Brian was supposed to be settling down in Texas, a business and a life.
Not that he planned to live like a monk but Brian so clearly remembered being sick and tired of the sex games in New York. It felt good in the moment but he went home alone or got lost in a crowded gay bar. Even if the guy came home with him, slept over, Brian still felt alone in the end.
Looking over at the crew of fit and serious men from L.A., Brian didn’t feel alone. Jones was a Texan. He was strong, not a submissive lost and looking. The attraction pulled Brian but reality whispered. Jones was a short-term fling. Brian wanted to find Mr. Right and settle down but Jones wasn’t that guy. That strong back and chiseled jaw made Brian wish Jones were that guy.
One last romp, Brian had already made the move. He wanted Jones that bad. As long as no one knew, what was the difference? This man would be a good distraction from the idea that something bad might happen.
It was all Penny’s fault, and Andrea held some guilt in this as well. Their romances put Brian in the mindset to view his bodyguard as sexual potential. Penny sent him a hot guy! Why couldn’t Jones be an ugly bald hulk? She sent him a hunk! The least she could do was send a straight piece of eye candy.
There was no choice, one last fling and then Brian had to stop falling for guys who were all about the physical or wouldn’t stick around. He needed to go for a relationship with a future. Gay or not, New York wild in college or not, Brian was a good old boy from a big southern family and he wanted a partner to face all those barbeques and holidays with.
As strong as Brian was, he needed support too. He didn’t want to wait around, playing the field until his forties and hoping to settle down like so many men he saw in the bars. Life would catch up with them and Brian didn’t want to face middle age alone.
Lost in thought, Brian almost jumped when Jones came over. The team was gone. “Where are your friends?”
“Two are out front and one is at the back door. You’re stuck with me now. Where is your staff? I expected more people.” Jones leaned on the counter.
“Yes, they’ll be here tomorrow. Display cases and racks came in today. Tomorrow we’ll start setting up.” Brian leaned on the counter close to Jones. “So why don’t you like Texas?”
Jones stiffened. “It’s a lot easier to be out and not harassed in L.A.”
“High school was rough?” Brian understood that.
“Wasn’t yours?” Jones asked.
Brian recognized a non-answer. “Sure but that’s high school. Most people have some trauma in high school. Penny was overweight. My little sister is the only one who sailed through that I know of. Only one prom queen. Most people just survive it. Why run?”
“You ran to New York,” Jones pointed out.
“True. For the fashion scene. I knew what I wanted to do and that meant getting some fashion experience outside of Texas. Penny went there too. I got the experience and a business degree. Hung in for an MBA and then the itch to see this happen took over.” Brian smiled at his shop. “You dreamed of being a bodyguard?”
Jones frowned. “Dreams didn’t really enter into my childhood much. At least not ones that I expected would happen. We didn’t have much.”
“Sorry. So you’re a success now. Your parents must be proud. I mean, fierce boots like that aren’t cheap.” Brian felt bad assuming everyone had a nice normal childhood.
Jones looked at the boots. “They’re nice. L.A. has good leather stores. Your place would be perfect there.”
“One store at a time.” Brian could see Jones clearer now. It wasn’t Texas. It was a poor childhood and the gay thing. Brian needed to know one more thing. “So you’re not dating anyone back in L.A.?”
“No, I’m not good at relationships. Most Doms want more control and power. At first they think I’m a challenge but I’m not…”
Brian knew Jones wasn’t a traditional sub. His guarded nature and issues still shined like a suit of armor. That vulnerability also pulled at Brian like no man before. Certainly not this fast. “I’m not your average Dom either. I never get serious. I don’t like the drama. No need to get so over the top about some fun and sex play.” He leaned in and slowly kissed Jones.
The heat seared as Jones opened his mouth and their tongue played. Brian loved the physical play of BDSM, and he loved being in control, taking what he wanted and being obeyed. But he never wanted to break a sub or have all the responsibility of a long-term thing.
Jones also seemed to be in it for short-term play. Brian slid his hands over Jones’s arms and then chest. So much power, so much to control, and to enjoy. Deep down Brian wondered what would happen if Jones did totally give in. The man was so intense and Brian wanted to experience that passion.
Jones pulled back. “My guys can’t see this. I’m not losing my job. Not that I’d be fired for being gay but if my team doesn’t respect me and I can’t be professional—I’m ineffective. I don’t own the business so it’s not the same as Grayson.”
“I get it.” Brian nodded. “It’s good to own a business but there are issues. Some people think my dad financed this or he has a stake. I used my trust fund but it’s mine, Dad can’t stop me or change this. You can’t escape your family. It’s all rough. My mom tries to be excited for me but I know she’s worried about what people are saying.”
“You don’t care what people think about you?” Jones asked.
Brian lifted one shoulder. “What’s to think about? The gay thing is old news. The business is real. People don’t need an excuse to make a fuss if they don’t like something. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve got you keeping me safe. Plus we can fool around in my office, if you’re ever in the mood.”
Nodding, Jones stepped back. “You’ll be stuck with me all night. Better to let you do your job during business hours. Mind if I use your office to make a call? My guys will keep you safe.”
“Sure. Anytime. I’m not an office type. It’ll be for keeping paperwork and stuff. I’ll get started on the rope.” Brian went over and opened a large box. Jones dialing things back didn’t discourage Brian a bit. Actually he liked the play even more.
JONES WENT INTO the office and wondered if the flirting wasn’t really bad judgment. He should shut it down and go back to strictly business before things got truly physical. He’d never crossed the line before. Being home made him vulnerable, looking for something to make him feel good and distract him from memories and reality. Not that his guard would come down in protecting Brian, but Jones’s orderly world was off balance.
He grabbed the office phone. Odds were his father would be out with his buddies drinking or shooting. Talking to Mom was all Jones could handle. Dialing, he cleared his throat and wondered how parents could still mess with their kids as adults. He hated the tension.
“Hello?” his mom answered.
“Hi, Mom, how are you?” he asked.
“Jones?” Her tone became hushed. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Is Dad there?”
“No, he’s out.” Her voice grew louder and she exhaled. “So nothing is wrong? You never call so I thought the worst.”
They never called him either but Jones didn’t go there. “I’m in Texas for a job. Just thought I should call and see if you’re doing okay.”
“We’re managing. And you? Still a bodyguard and…” Her soft voice spoke volumes.
“Gay. Yes, Mom, I’m still both. So I guess I’m not invited over for Sunday dinner?” The message was clear and the same as always.
“Your father would lose his mind. He doesn’t understand. He never will. I wish it could be normal. Better.”
Jones wanted that as a kid, but he always felt different. He could excel at sports and beat up anyone who tried to bully him but he couldn’t even fake it with a girl. Some things he couldn’t hide. “Not normal. Take care of yourself.” He hung up before things got anxious or emotional.
No one could say he didn’t try. Jones believed his mom deserved more. Dad’s work ethic was random but mom cooked and cleaned like it would help. Their relationship wasn’t the best but she’d never leave. He’d made the effort and now turned back to his job. Checking the email and messages on his phone, he found nothing new. Now Jones needed to get back to Brian’s body, guarding it and not groping it!