I woke the morning of Luciana Diamente’s dungeon party excited. But my excitement felt different from my
excitement—if that makes any sense. For one thing, when I wriggled against the sheet to express my joy at being awake, alive, and only twelve hours away from Wellston’s biggest—okay, only
—BDSM event of the year, my body was heavier than usual. My limbs felt thicker, my abs more powerful, and my jaw opened wider when I yawned. I saw my foot peeking out from under the covers. The foot was familiar, but there was something not quite right about it. I rolled over, and that’s when I really freaked out.
Because I was lying beside me
Generally it’s my partner, Amon, in bed next to me—not, you know, my own body. I squinched my eyes shut, convinced I must still be asleep, but when I chanted, “Wakeupwakeupwakeup,”and opened my eyes again, still no Amon. Just my doppelganger, a little drool at the corner of his mouth, his straw-colored hair disheveled.
I looked again at my foot. Suddenly I knew where I’d seen it before.
I examined my hands, which were also Amon’s. When I moved my Amon-fingers up to my face, I discovered the contours of a nose I’d traced many times before with my tongue, with my lips, with my regular-me fingers.
Amon’s wide, smooth eyebrows. Amon’s shelflike cheekbones. Amon’s thick, silky hair. My chest, normally flat and scrawny with ribs like plow marks across the pale field of my skin, now had ridges, hills, and planes. Amon’s chest. I slipped a hand under the sheet, just to see if—yep.
Amon’s enormous, uncut cock.
I cleared my throat. “Um…” I said. In Amon’s voice.
The Jayk-body beside me didn’t stir. Not surprising. I had been known—when I was in that body—to sleep through fifteen minutes of the alarm clock’s blaring before Amon abandoned his coffee, stormed into the bedroom, shut the clock off, and hauled me out of bed.
That reminded me, was the alarm clock…? It was back on the shelf. Of course.
Amon wouldn’t have left the clock where I’d thrown it last night during the culmination of our shitstorm. A storm that started brewing yesterday when I stopped by Amon’s office to surprise him with Chinese takeout and met Bernard Witmeyer.* * * *
Amon was the HR director at A&L Financial, a big-deal firm on the west side of town. In the two years he and I had been together, I’d never managed to grasp what exactly Amon or the company did.
I only knew Amon preferred I not refer to the firm as “Alf” when talking to our friends.
I listened to Amon on the phone sometimes discussing arbitrage, employee advocating, and pre-money valuation, and I wondered how it felt for him to come home each day to me, a yokel from West Virginia who’d failed out of college four years ago and had only recently summoned the masochism to try again. The figure on Amon’s biweekly paycheck was about four times my SAT score.
A&L’s recruiting director had recently accepted a job elsewhere, and Amon had been crazy stressed trying to fill the position. A&L was “considering” an applicant named Bernard Witmeyerfor the job—though from what Amon said, it was more like they were wooing him. They’d flown him in from California for three days of face-to-face interviews; they were paying for his hotel and most of his meals, and for Amon’s gas when Amon showed Witmeyer around town—which he did last night, instead of making good on his promise we were finally going to watch Body Double
According to Amon, Witmeyer’s résumé was impeccable. He was also gay—and had a husband to boot—which had to factor into Amon’s enthusiasm for him. Two openly gay men in positions of power at a highfalutin financial firm? We’re here, we’re queer, now let us divvy up your collateralized debt obligations.
Except I could tell immediately Bernard Witmeyer was bad news. Amon liked to laugh at me about my “intuition,” but the feelings I got about people were usually right. Besides, it didn’t take any extraordinary perception to see Witmeyer was a smirky, condescending fuck weasel.
“Wow,” Witmeyer said as he shook my hand, glancing over his shoulder at Amon. “How many cradles did you peek into before you decided to rob this one?” His teeth were whiter than the Chinese-takeout containers.
I caught Amon’s familiar purse-lipped expression of disapproval before he laughed tersely.
“Actually, I was left on his doorstep,” I said. “No robbery involved.”
Witmeyer ignored me. “And he brought you lunch. You’ve got him well-trained, Monterey.”
My stomach clenched. Well-trained?
Amon wouldn’t have told Witmeyer any details of our relationship, would he? I took a deep breath. No, Amon would never… Unless he and Witmeyerwere now BFFs. Unless they’d gone out last night for mandrinks and one thing led to another, and Amon had mentioned, Oh yes, I sometimes spank my partner to keep him in line.
I moved past Witmeyer to Amon and set the bag of food on the desk. “If I’d known you had company, I’d have gotten the large order of fried cat.”
“I’m not eating right now.” Amon was engrossed in a colorful spreadsheet on his computer. “But it was sweet of you to think of me.” He didn’t act like he thought it was sweet. He acted like he wanted me out of his hair.
“I’ll just stick it in the fridge.” I made for Amon’s minifridge, aware Witmeyer was watching me. “Speaking of fridges, I have to tell you about the fight Connor and Beth had because Stephanie—”
“Why don’t you take it home?” Amon interrupted. “I’ll eat it later.”
“Monty doesn’t need any of that oleaginous food.” Wittmeyer’s laugh was smooth and cool, like everything about him—his gelled hair, his blue eyes, his dark, perfectly cut suit. “He’s got to stay in shape if he wants to hold on to you.”
Okay, first, who would ever use a word like ole-whatever-nous in conversation? Second, Witmeyer was being way
inappropriate. What made him think it was okay to comment on Amon’sand my age difference? And Monty
?He’d been in town all of two days and was already referring to Amon by a nickname
“Amon doesn’t have to do anything to hold on to me,” I said.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Monty here’s quite a catch.” He put a hand on Amon’s shoulder. “Maybe you’re the one who ought to be keeping an eye on him
If I stayed here one more minute, I was gonna dump Ma Po Noodle all over this guy’s head.
“I should go,” I said to Amon. “I’m gonna see if my geology grade is up yet.”
“Mmm,” he replied.
A voice spoke from Amon’s desk phone. “Amon? Gardner’s here.
Apparently Gardner was even more important than the spreadsheet. Amon stood. “Be right back,” he said and left me alone with the douche nozzle of the century.
“You’re in school?” Witmeyer asked.
“The community college.”
He nodded. “More affordable and less work than a real school, huh?”
I felt like I’d been punched. This was where I really could have used my knight in—if not shining armor, at least a shiny wine-colored tie that brings out the green in his eyes—to step in and defend me.
But, you know, Gardner was here.
“Well, I did choose it because it has one of the strongest remedial programs in the country,” I quipped.
I didn’t like the way Witmeyer chuckled—like he knew exactly how much he was getting to me and was enjoying it.
“Amon said you were funny. We were talking about you last night.”
I tried not to let on how much that scared the shit out of me.
“Amon’s a good guy. I know he’s under a lot of pressure right now. But it was nice to see him loosen up when we were out.”
I didn’t want to think about Amon loosening up around Witmeyer. Didn’t want to think about Witmeyer and Amon out at a classy bar, talking businessman to businessman about the trials of being important, in demand, in charge, or about all the opportunities Witmeyer would have had to put a hand on Amon’s shoulder.
“He is a good guy,” I said sharply.
Witmeyer stared at me.
I stared back.
“Where are you from, Jayk? I like your accent.”
Okay, I barely
had an accent. As soon as I moved out of Hicksville, I worked on getting rid of my drawl. But sometimes, especially when I was pissed off, the West Virginia came through loud and clear. Right now I sounded FOTP—Fresh Out of the Trailer Park.
“Green Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.”
“My mother’s family’s from West Virginia. Beautiful state. A lot
That did me. “Is that where the asshole comes from? Or is that your father’s side?”
Amon stood in the doorway, and I recognized his expression: Congratulations, Jayk Parker, you have my undivided attention
“What?” I snapped.
If I was ever captured by enemy forces and forced to dig my own grave, I’d have it done in about two minutes. That’s how much practice I’d had.
“Apologize.” Amon’s voice was deceptively calm.
It didn’t seem to occur to him that I might not be the one at fault here. He didn’t even look at Witmeyer, just stared at me until I muttered, “Sorry.”
“Not to me, to Mr. Witmeyer.”
I thought I’d put age five almost twenty years behind me but apparently not. Apparently I was such a piss-poor excuse for an adult that Amon didn’t think twice about humiliating me in front of my newly sworn nemesis.
I looked directly at Witmeyer. “I’m sorry you don’t know how to carry on a polite conversation,” I said and walked out of the office before Amon or Witmeyer could say anything else.
I had a few options now, impaling myself on my chopsticks being perhaps the most effective and failsafe. Assuming a false identity and moving to Swaziland was unrealistic given my lack of funds—plus I risked Amon eventually tracking me down.
I had a third option, which was to go home, wait for Amon, take the punishment I knew I deserved, and end the night curled up beside Amon, sore, sorry, but forgiven. Maybe we’d even watch Body Double.
I was furious at how Witmeyer had treated me, but it was starting to sink in that insulting the man your boyfriend desperately hoped to hire at Big Fancy Firms “R” Us probably ranked pretty high on the Discerning Brat’s List of Things Never to Do Ever.
It had felt good, though, to grab Amon’s attention like that—no small feat these days, when Amon could barely pencil in time to think about me unless I was in his face, bugging the crap out of him.
I went home and tried to eat my bean curd, but I was too nervous. I cuddled with Allen Ginspurr for a while, but he was more interested in batting my face than snuggling. Finally I got up, grabbed a two liter of soda from the fridge, and went to the den to check if my test grade was posted online. It was, and I found myself staring at a D plus.
I closed my eyes, hoping maybe when I opened them there’d be a higher grade on the screen. I hadn’t expected a good grade, but I thought I’d managed at least a C minus. I’d studied my ass off for two weeks, but when the time had come to take the test, I’d blanked, like always.
I held back tears as I downed most of the soda. Then I went to the bathroom to cry. I slapped the mirror, leaving a greasy handprint right over my reflection’s stupid face. It took about ten minutes for me to calm down, and no sooner had I washed my face, taken a deep breath, and walked back into the hall, when my cell rang.
He had, by this point, probably decided on the slowest, most inventive way to murder me and was calling to fill me in on the details.
I hit Ignore.
The Witmeyer incident itself maybe wasn’t enough to sentence me to the gallows, but it came on the heels of a number of brat-tastic acts I’d committed over the last few days, including staying out past curfew two nights in a row, throwing a tantrum about taking out the trash, and burying Amon’s toothbrush in the cat’s litter box when Amon stayed late at work after promising he’d try to be home on time. The toothbrush thing was more a gesture than an act of sabotage; Amon always had at least nine spare toothbrushes in the linen closet, arranged in Soft, Medium, and Firm stacks.
I stuffed my phone in my pocket, grabbed my keys, and headed to Lemmy’s.
My friends Beth and Connor and I had been going to Lemmy’s on Tuesday nights since I started at Wellston last spring. Tuesdays were buy-one-get-one-free air hockey games, so each week we competed in Puckin’ A!, our ongoing round-robin air hockey tournament. I especially needed Lemmy’s tonight to get my mind off my suck-ass test grade and my impending doom. It wasn’t quite five when I arrived, so I got a head start on the drinking while I waited for Beth and Connor to show.
Around five-thirty, Amon called again. This time I picked up.
“Where are you?” he asked. His tone was surprisingly unmenacing.
“When do you think you’ll be back?”Um… Never?
“Don’t know.” I scratched a flake of Shrinking Violet polish off my thumbnail.
“I’d like you to come home so we can talk.”
“I’m out,” I repeated.
“You were out every night this weekend too.”
“Are you drinking?”
I glanced at beer number three, which stood half full on the table. “No.” Not at this precise moment.
“Why don’t you come home?”
It was tempting. No matter what went wrong, no matter how badly I screwed up, Amon always kept me safe. In the early months of our relationship, I used to deliberately hide from him. This was back when I worked days at the sandwich shop, before I returned to school. We had a rule if I was going to be home later than six, I called him. But some days after work, I’d go to the park by our house or to the river or even to the top of the parking garage downtown and just sit and wait for him to find me.
He always did. And he was never pissed. He didn’t yell or lecture or drag me home. He’d sit a few feet away from me, not saying anything, radiating a nothing-weird-about-this-at-all air that my crackling nerves responded to. Until I came to him. Even then he wasn’t in any hurry. He’d hold me for a while, even if it was cold, even if he was sitting on the ground in his work pants.
I didn’t know why I needed to do it. He never asked for a reason.
He’d punish me for breaking the rule but not for needing to.
I’d always respected him. As a top, as a partner, and as a man.
But he’d been different lately. He was on me nonstop about how often I went out, how much I drank, my grades. He never had time to help me with school stuff like he did last spring, and ever since I made it through my first exam where I didn’t panic—anthropology; I got a B minus—he seemed to think I was cured of test anxiety. Not true. See: geology.
If I opened my mouth to tell him what a shit time I was having with school, it was: “You need to manage your time better,”
or, “You do good work when you try.”
And, “You think you know about stress, try working my job for a day.”
Well, sorry if I was too dumb to land a job like his, and if I got stressed out over courses at a community college that was apparently “less work than a real school.”
We couldn’t all be AmonMonterey and work fifty hours a week and still find time to go to the gym, eat three square meals a day, and see and analyze down to the last supporting performance every psychological thriller Hollywood released.
I didn’t know right now if I could count on Amon to keep me safe. I didn’t want
to be punished by a stressed-out partner. And I wasn’t actually sorry about what I’d said to Witmeyer.
I hung up without responding and finished beer three.
I was looking to order beer four when Connor slid into the booth across from me.
“Tats for Tits,” he said, grabbing a drinks list.
“The name of your tattoo parlor. I was thinking about it today. You could specialize in tattoos on weird places. Like girls’ boobs.”
“That’s just what I want, to spend my life staring at breasts.”
“All right, Tats for Tats, then. Oh God.” He shuddered. “Can you imagine
getting a tattoo on your dick?”
“I’m never gonna have a tattoo parlor.”
A server came to take my empty bottle. Connor flapped the beer menu at him. “Delta Lite, please. And cheese fries.” He brushed some spilled salt across the table and into my lap. “Sure you are.”
“Not my own. I just wanna work in one. Maybe.”
“Well, the reason I was thinking about it is I talked to my cousin today, and he said you can practice with his tattoo gun anytime.”
“Yourself, I guess. Or his wife. He did, like, her whole arms.”
“What’s wrong? You look sunk.”
“I hear ya, bro. A little air hockey’ll wake you up. Beth’s on her way. If she’s not too busy getting her chakras opened by Stephanie.”
I nodded. “Cool.”
He cocked his head. “All right. Spill.”
I never really had any close guy friends growing up, but from what I understood, Connor was a rarity. He wanted
you to talk about your feelings. He could be crude and wild and kind of a ball hair, but he was serious about our friendship. “Spill what?”
“Did you and Amon fight?”
“Uh.” Not your business?
Or was it his business? I always felt weird talking about Amon’s and my relationship with anyone else, because it was hard to talk honestly about what went on between us without mentioning any of the DD stuff. I could tell Connor Amon and I had argued, but I couldn’t explain that after a couple hours of air hockey, I was going to go home and get my ass spanked. Argument resolved.
I was saved by Beth’s arrival.
“Shit,” Connor muttered.
She’d brought Stephanie.
Beth started dating Stephanie two weeks ago, and Connor was majorly jealous. He and Beth had been roommates for over a year, and Stephanie’s frequent presence in their apartment, plus Beth’s inability to go more than a couple of minutes without mentioning Stephanie, was driving Connor bonkers.
The whole thing kind of made me want to kill both of them.
I figured four people would make for a better air hockey tournament, but one look at Connor’s face said he was not okay with including Stephanie in Puckin’ A!. Beth and Stephanie and I exchanged greetings, but Connor completely froze them out.
It was less than half an hour before Connor made some snide comment that offended Beth, and she and Stephanie threatened to leave. “Maybe you should,” Connor said.
“Hey, no. Nobody’s going anywhere,” I said. “Except Connor and I are gonna go get more drinks. What do you two want?”
Beth and Stephanie gave their orders, and to my relief, Connor followed me to the bar.
“She’s seriously so annoying,” he muttered.
“Which one?” I asked.
“Both of them. But it’s Stephanie’s fault. Beth used to be cool before her.”
I clapped him on the shoulder. “Imagine her head’s the puck.”
Connor laughed, and I felt better. I could usually diffuse Connor’s pissy moods pretty quickly.
We got the drinks and returned to the table, and things stayed civil until the tournament started.
Stephanie turned out to be awesome at air hockey. She kicked Connor’s ass in the first round.
Connor was not a very good sport about it.
Stephanie told him to lighten up.
Still in no hurry to go home, I stayed and played air hockey and drank with Beth and Stephanie. I did some drawings on a napkin.
“These are so good
.” Stephanie chewed the straw of her fourth rum and Coke. “Do more.”
I did more, and Stephanie pocketed my illustrations. “I’m going to hang them up.”
I couldn’t explain why this made me so happy. I did a lot of drawings at home too. It’s not like I expected Amon to put them on the fridge like I was seven or whatever. But sometimes I wished he’d pay more attention to them.
Stephanie noted I looked tense and described a few yoga postures she was sure would help me. I suggested we go outside so she could show
me the yoga poses, and pretty soon we were doing drunk yoga on the sidewalk.
When I got home just after midnight, Amon was in bed reading. He put his book down and calmly instructed me to take down my pants and bend over his knee so he could tell my butt to tell my brain that the way I’d behaved this afternoon was unacceptable.
I was exhausted and drunk, and instead of accepting my sentence with grace, I picked up the alarm clock and chucked it in his general direction.
He got up, took my wrist, and maneuvered me over his knee. He used our Lexan paddle, which, though small and relatively innocuous-looking, stung like you would not believe.
For the first minute or so, I gritted my teeth and resisted the urge to break down and cry—even though crying was the catharsis I desperately craved from a spanking. Eventually I lost the battle. Amon stopped, though my tears did not.
I remained limp over his lap until he lifted me onto the bed. I barely got a cuddle, which, okay, it was embarrassing, but I needed that part. I needed to know I was back in his good graces, that I was safe and loved and yada yada yada. Instead I got a cursory hair ruffle and a notice I was on probation: my behavior tomorrow would determine whether or not we attended LucianaDiamente’s party in the evening.
I didn’t know where I found the energy to be outraged, but I found it. Okay, I’d behaved like a brat. I was
a brat. But Amon knew how much I was looking forward to Luciana’s party. We were both
looking forward to it. It was an extravagant, catered, costumed affair held each year in Luciana’s private dungeon. The decor was stunning, the attire outrageous, and the crab rangoon to die for.
Last year, Luciana had asked Amon and me to give a flogging demonstration for the other guests. I loved being flogged. Don’t ask me how that worked, since I hated
being spanked. Amonnever flogged me as an actual punishment—he used the flogger in a way that was intended to be erotic. And he was brilliant
at it. I was a bit of an exhibitionist, so doing the demo was great fun. I nearly went to sleep onstage, I was so relaxed and spacey.
Anyway, Luciana was counting on us to do the demo again this year. Amon hated to be rude, so I had a feeling his threat about missing the party was just that—a threat. He wouldn’t really bail on Luciana. Still, what a freaking dick-dribble threat to make.
I faced away from him and cried, sobbing harder still when I heard his exasperated sigh. “What?” I demanded, wiping my nose on the back of my hand. “You’re mean
“How am I mean?”
“You don’t care about anything anymore but work.”
“That’s not true.”
I rolled over. “It is. You don’t even care that I had, like, the shittiest day ever.”
“I asked you to come home and talk to me.”
“I didn’t feel like coming home, because you fucking embarrassed me.”
“Language.” He’d banned cursing for the entire month—what he called a “personal challenge” and I called a violation of the first amendment. He didn’t mind if I swore once in a while, but he claimed my language had grown excessively foul and that a month of self-control would do me good. Right now, it took all of my self-control not to jam an elbow into his face.
“Bernard Witmeyer is a rude, crispy-haired frickwad. You didn’t hear what he said.”
“What? That I’m a cradle robber?”
“When you were gone, he said I couldn’t handle going to a real school. And that you…”That you were a nice guy. And that you’d loosened up last night.
It didn’t sound quite as dramatic now.
“I’m sure he didn’t mean it the way you heard it,” Amon said.
“He absolutely did. He insulted me. You ought to spank him
. And then not hire him.”
Amon chuckled, which should have made me happy. I hadn’t heard him laugh in, like, weeks. But it just pissed me off more.
I squirmed closer to the wall.
“I know you,” he said. “And I expect you to control your temper, even when people come off as rude.”
I was silent a moment. It didn’t seem fair. “He’s right,” I said finally.
“Witmeyer? About what?”
“I’m too stupid for a real school. I got a D-plus on my geology test.”
“You told me you studied.”
“I did! You know I did. I froze up. And the professor—”
My stomach clenched. “Don’t be like this.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“It’s not my fault.”
“Really? So it’s not because you’ve been staying out late night after night?”
“No. It’s because school is hard. You have no idea. Plus, I have work.” I worked at the campus library, where my supervisor, Mr. Grogan, had it in for me. Also something I’d tried explaining to Amon, but he told me to cut Grogan some slack because it was hard to be in charge of a lot of people.
Yeah, right. I’d have given my left ass cheek to be the one in charge instead of the one who always got dumped on. To have a job like Amon’s where all I had to do was give orders from my wheelie-chair throne.
Amon shifted. “I think you make it harder than it has to be with your time-management issues.”
“What the hell do you know about my time-management issues?”
“Settle down. I’m on your side.”
“Then fucking act like it.” I rolled back to face the wall.
I was too miserable to care what he did at this point—if he spanked me again, grounded me, skinned me, and made me into a coat… I pushed my face deeper into the pillow.
“Jayk.” He put a hand on my shoulder. I shook him off.
“Forget it,” I said.
I waited for him to insist. Waited for him to roll me over and tell me to Look at me, young man.
Instead he was silent, and I hated his silence. It meant, I give up.
It meant, You’re being an über-brat, and I don’t have the energy to deal with it right now.
It meant, Fine. Have it your way.
I didn’t really want it my way, no matter what my actions implied.
I shut my eyes and willed myself into an uneasy sleep.* * * *
I wasn’t entirely surprised to have woken up in Amon’s body. It seemed like something within Amon’s power to orchestrate. He was rather godlike: All-mighty and all-knowing, with a hand decidedly at work in my life—often smacking my ass or pointing to the nearest corner.
I was desperately curious to know whether Amon’s mind was now inside my body. If it wasn’t, then whose was? My mind couldn’t be two places at once, could it? I gave the sleeping Jayk-body an experimental poke, but it didn’t stir.
I pushed back the covers and glanced between my legs, taking a moment to admire the nine inches of uncut man meat that now belonged to me. Maybe this body-swap wasn’t such a bad thing.
I got up and went to the bathroom, where I flexed my muscles in front of the mirror and paid myself a few whispered compliments.
I showed myself my line of straight white teeth. I raked my dark hair back with my fingers and watched the thick waves flop back over my forehead. I held my giant cock over the toilet and expelled a racehorse-esque stream of piss.
I could definitely get used to this.
I returned to the bedroom, where my body was still sleeping. I looked at myself through Amon’s eyes and was pleased to see I wasn’t nearly as scrawny as I often felt. Yeah, I was thin, but I had enough muscle definition that I didn’t just look like a surfboard. My chest was smooth, my hips narrow, and my ass nicely rounded. My cock was a couple of inches short of Amon’s nine and curved a little, but it got the job done.
My face, if you disregarded the drool, was nice enough—smooth skin, a straight nose, bow lips, long lashes. My eyes were closed, but I knew from practicing expressions of wide-eyed innocence and lowered-eyed contrition in front of the mirror that they were an appealing shade of blue-green and sparkled on cue. Amon had grown selectively immune to their charm over the last two years, but those eyes still worked magic on others.
“Hey,” I said, giving the body—I decided to think of it as Jayk—a tap on the shoulder. A soft snore. “Wake up.” I shook him. “Uh…Jayk?” I supposed it would have made sense to callAmon’s name and get a confirmation that his mind was safe inside my body. But I was getting into the role of Amon Monterey. “Jayk!” I said again, in a very stern Top Voice.
He moaned and pulled away, tugging the covers up to his chin.
“You have a class at eight,” I informed him.
He put a pillow over his head.
“I’m serious. American lit. You have to be there. Quiz today.”