What Pleases Him Most

an excerpt

I needed to be numb before surrounding myself with nude, wandering men. The previous times Cutter and I journeyed to the bathhouse in Dallas, I shot through the halls of rented rooms, past the bank of grimy oblong windows overlooking the outdoor pool, through the steam room, beside the hot tub. I cleared them like hurdles. I only went because Cutter so enjoyed all the waiting flesh on display. Yes, occasionally I found a man to bring back to our room that was bought by the hour, but honestly, I would've been just as happy had Cutter been the only man lying beside me, fucking me, loving me. But even with him near me, I needed the tweak to keep me from abandoning my skin, leaving Cutter alone with the strange men while I scurried back home to Denton.

Cutter and I sat on his bed passing the pipe. Posters of great Greek landmarks covered his walls. While a twittering blue jay outside his bedroom window distracted him, I snuck another hit off the pipe.

"Careful with that, boy," he said, gaze not leaving the window. "You don't wanna get so high you can't get hard."

Caught, I simply grinned. Cutter always found me out. Perhaps that was a condition of love. "Why do you think I always bottom?"

"Because that's what I expect from you, boy."

I laughed and passed the pipe. Cutter was always good to me. He volunteered his house in uptown Dallas for our weekends and occasional weeknights together. I still lived in a dorm in Denton, sharing it with a nosy kid from the East Coast. True, Cutter was thirty-seven, but I did my best not to think what would happen, how that age gap would bend and flex into something more obscene if we managed to stay together after these first few months. When he reached fifty, I would be thirty-three. Perhaps an attorney, if I followed my father's urging to attend law school. These frequent trips to The Dallas Spa were the price of admission, I told myself, the price of procuring a boyfriend as accomplished, sexy and-well-manly as Cutter Drake.

My boyfriend was gorgeous, and I wasn't the only one who thought so. During

trips to the bathhouse, I watched the way men never stopped walking past but allowed their heads to slowly turn, keeping their eyes on Cutter as he continued the opposite way. He had a fantastic body. He liked to call me from the 24-hour gym downtown and brag whenever he managed to max more weight while pumping iron. But it was his face-the way his smile spread like melting butter-that was where I sometimes caught myself gazing while his attention was elsewhere. The slim, sharp nose, the pale gray eyes, the long locks of rust-colored hair that flopped down past his eyebrows. And best of all, he was a man-masculine and confident, not like those prissy, shaven boys that trolled the sidewalks in Oak Lawn.

"Just a few more hits," I said. "You know, to fortify me."

"You and your big words."

"I'm sorry, but that place…you know…"

He scooped the long end of the pipe into the tiny plastic bag of tweak, ushered another rock into its mouth. "Yes, Darren, I'm aware of your feelings about the bathhouse."

"I'm sorry."

"We don't have to go."

"But you love it there."

"I love watching other men fuck you."

"Do you think we could make it just the two of us today?"

Cutter grinned, cuffed me behind the ear. "All depends on who we find, my boy."

I tried my best to smile. Granted, Cutter never forced any man on me. I got final approval on each trick we invited to our rented room. But always at some point while the chosen man was inside me, Cutter taking snapshots with his digital camera, I began to drift. I thought about how Cutter would fuck me after this strange man left, what he would say to me, how he would praise my "performance." I knew I was doing these things, these men, for him-not for myself. But whenever I broke away from the fuck to look at Cutter's face, I saw the pride and lust in his eyes and in that moment believed there could be no higher calling than pleasing the man who loved you.

"It'll be past four when we get there," I said. "We'll be hours ahead of the club crowd."

"Too many fucking twinks at night. The guys that go in the afternoon are men."

"Like you," I said.

"Like me." And with that, he pulled me close and kissed me so softly, I felt my heart drop into my stomach. The blue jay twittered again outside the bedroom window. I listened to its panicked cries as Cutter eased me down onto the bed. He set down the pipe on the nightstand and came to rest on top of me. Perhaps we wouldn't make the bathhouse till five that afternoon.