Title: Loving the Master
Author: Lynn Kelling
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Page Count: 322
Buy Links: Amazon, Smashwords, Fantastic Fiction, ARe
Reviewed by: Gigi
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A full-length prequel to Bound by Lies.
Billionaire Dominant David Davenport needs a break from the loveless isolation imposed by wealth, responsibility, and the stress of running the Manse, his private gay club. While at lunch with an old friend, David finds himself enchanted by the charming and submissive nature of Shea Whittier, their young waiter. David offers to help the young man out with his personal troubles, never suspecting the danger he’s putting them both in.
After a moment, Shea realized David was right behind him. Shea flicked on the light switch and moved further into the bedroom, scanning it for important things like clean underwear that didn’t have comic book character logos stamped on them. Idly, he rubbed the charm around his neck, hoping it might hold some answers for him.
“You were great out there. You really were. But, look, David,” Shea began, and even caught the look on David’s face, which basically was a sexy, humoring sort of grin. He was clearly ready to counter any argument Shea threw his way. “I realize I already asked you this, but I’m still kind of baffled here, so… why are you doing this? Honestly. It’s not like you’re out to rob me. Am I a charity case? Is this all because of the guy you knew? Trent? You seem like an important person, someone that people care about, and who has others depending on him. I’m nobody. I’m wasting your time.”
David shifted to clasp his hands behind his back, widening his stance. Slowly, diligently, he began to look around Shea’s room, which was so small there was almost not enough room for them both to be standing in it at the same time. There were bars on the single window. The carpet was stained and old. There were childish posters all over the walls depicting Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. There was even a plastic replica Captain America shield hanging above Shea’s bed. David looked around at all of these things, then focused solely on the bed. When Shea followed his gaze, he saw why.
Drowning in embarrassment, moving quickly, Shea yanked up the blanket to cover the blood and dirt smears on the sheet. His face felt hotter than ever, his chest tight.
David let the moment breathe before speaking.
Softly, without any humor or condescension, David said, “Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people.”
It echoed in too many important ways. The longer the words stayed there, in the air between them, the more exposed Shea felt, like David could see right down into the core of who he was. He didn’t want to let this good-looking, determined, fortunate stranger see him cry, but it felt like somehow David already understood what Shea had been fighting against—circumstances beyond his control, which were always overpowering his intentions and simple desires. Understanding, compassion, forgiveness and patience were the only things Shea wanted but had been unable to find. Seeing the possibility of maybe finally finding those things in David left Shea so weakened, he was utterly unable to do anything but give in.
David stepped a little closer, and gently pressed his hand on Shea’s chest. The contact was nice, like a little anchor to reality, so Shea closed his eyes and let out a heavy exhale. It had been a while since anyone had touched him with nothing but caring concern.
“It’s been a very long day,” David said in that same, soft, soothing tone. “Let’s hasten the ending, shall we?” He wasn’t looking at Shea when he said it. It was almost like David had gone somewhere else in his head, was thinking of someone else.
That’s what stilled Shea. As he reached up to touch David’s hand on his chest, liking the feel of it there and the way it showed him he wasn’t alone, that he was heard and seen, Shea wondered who else had captured David’s thoughts. Was he still thinking of Trent, or someone else?
Shea knew he needed to stop trying to fight all of the rare good things David was so freely giving him. It wasn’t because he didn’t have any other choice, though that was true as well. Just being near David was helping Shea feel better, like maybe there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and trusting David was the way out. All he wanted to do was sleep, especially if David would be there, watching over him. In fact, he felt on the verge of passing out.
“Okay,” Shea said in total surrender. He moved to gather some things into a duffel bag, keeping his head bowed until he felt a little more composed.
For a minute or two, neither of them spoke but it was an intimate, comfortable type of silence. Shea tossed things together, wondering what came next, and if one night away could make a real difference.
“I really am sorry if I’ve seemed ungrateful or suspicious of you,” he told David. “As pathetic as it sounds, I’ve just never had anyone go this far out of their way to be nice to me before, and I’m having a hard time believing it.”
“I know. I’d love to prove to you that there is kindness left in the world, for no reason other than because you deserve that. Don’t worry about getting absolutely everything right now. If you’re missing something later, I’ll help you retrieve or replace it.”
Shea zipped up his bag and just stared at David, trying to figure him out.
He really was gorgeous, like someone’s idea of the perfect guy—a daydream given life and plenty of stubbornness. David’s dark hair curved in an impeccable soft wave against his forehead. His lips were nearly always smiling in a soft, kind, alluring way. His eyes were bright and fiercely intelligent. David was the guy across the room at a party you fantasized about but never had the balls to actually make small talk with.
Yet, there he was, standing in Shea’s shitty bedroom, looking at his bloody sheet without judging him for it, but trying to save him from the circumstances that put him there.