James got his fill of domineering behavior in his last relationship, so he immediately shies away when he meets Hikaru, who makes his interest aggressively clear from the start. While James can’t deny that he wants Hikaru, he can’t push past his issues and relax around him.
Hikaru isn’t going to take no for an answer because he can see the undeniable desire in James’ eyes. An erotic encounter after work confirms that they both want the same thing and know exactly how to give it to each other. When Hikaru meets—and is threatened by— James’ ex-boyfriend, he begins to understand why James can’t open up completely. Now his priority is not only protecting James but also showing him how fulfilling complete surrender can be ... with the right person.
James lay spent and content in Hikaru’s arms that evening. He could almost forget what had caused them to spend the day together. After showering and eating, they’d settled in the living room with a couple of movies, both of them dozing off near the end of the second one. The cut on his hand throbbed a little every now and then, but it hadn’t really caused him any problems. He ran his palm over Hikaru’s chest as he listened to his steady breathing. When his phone rang, he felt so at ease and relaxed he reached for it and answered it without even checking who it was.
“So are you going to work tomorrow, or are you just gonna stay there and keep letting him fuck you?”
James stiffened, his breath catching in his throat. He looked at Hikaru, whose eyes had snapped open. The man who had looked so gentle moments earlier looked deadly now.
“How did you get this number?” James asked. As much as he wanted to hang up on Peter, he wanted an answer to that question. He needed to know which of his friends could no longer be trusted.
Peter laughed. “Not all of our friends are on your side, you know. It wasn’t that hard.”
James struggled to straighten up, but it was hard with only one hand free. Hikaru helped him sit up on the couch, but then he extended his hand for the phone. His determined look made James hesitate. Did he hang up or let Hikaru talk to Peter? Would that make things better or worse?
“James, are you there? You suckin’ his dick or what?”
“Peter, just shut up! We are done! I never want to see you again. I’m sorry you can’t stand me being with someone else, but that is not my problem.”
Peter didn’t react at first. “He must have you pretty hot. You never talked to me like that before. So what’s he been doin’ to you? Big, dumb brute like that must be hung.”
James opened his mouth, but he was so angry he couldn’t form words. Hikaru put his hand on the phone and looked into James’ eyes with determined pleading. After a slight nod from James, Hikaru took the phone.
“I could hear your whiney voice loud and clear, asshole, and I’m not happy with any of the things I heard.”
James moved away, not wanting to hear Peter’s voice anymore. He paced in front of the window, looking outside for Peter’s car. He didn’t see it, but he still closed the blinds and drew the curtains completely shut.
“I don’t give a fuck what you say about me, but you say that—or anything like it—when we’re face to face, and I will give you the beating of your life.”
Hikaru’s tone sent a chill down James’ spine. Why was this happening? Why was his chance at happiness being contaminated this way?
“You just hear me. You show up within fifty feet of the store, and I call the cops.” He hung up and threw the phone against the cushion beside him, causing it to bounce a couple of feet in the air.
James rubbed the back of his neck, his eyes downcast, but then he looked up. “He’s stupid, but he does take us calling the cops seriously. He won’t cause problems at the store.”
“I don’t give a fuck about the store. I’m worried about you. This guy’s a sadistic perv!” Hikaru stood and tried to put his arms around James.
James wiggled away, but Hikaru wouldn’t let him get away completely. He held both of James’ wrists and just stood there until James looked at him. “I won’t let him hurt you anymore.”
“It’s not your problem.”
“It is.” He pushed James’ hands behind his back and held them there, pressing close. “He needs to learn that you’re my boyfriend now.”
“Am I?” James asked, wanting to tease Hikaru, craving nothing more than getting lost in the moment. He felt so safe in his embrace.
Hikaru nuzzled against his neck and licked his ear. “Yes.” After releasing a long sigh, he pulled back. “We’re in this together, completely. No more apologies or regrets, just us working together to figure it out.”
Hikaru pulled him back over to the couch. “And right now, I think we have time for one more of these delightful and life-affirming horror movies before bed.”
James sat down and playfully eyed Hikaru as though he were offended. “I like horror. It’s as much of an escape as any other genre.”
“I wasn’t knockin’ it.”
James took a deep breath. The next few days, or even weeks, might be hard, but Hikaru made him feel like he could handle it. “Okay, then.” He shifted on the couch to look at the middle DVD shelf. “Chainsaws or tentacles?”
“We got anything with both?”
James smiled because he knew Hikaru was trying to be funny, and then he triumphantly pulled down The Maniac from Swampy Manor. “We do indeed.”
Hikaru’s eyes went wide, but then he laughed. “Glad I asked.”
James popped the DVD in. “Glad you’re here.” He turned the light off and snuggled down into the cushions and Hikaru’s arms. When Hikaru leaned over and kissed the top of his head, he was finally able to relax completely again.