In a world that took a different path, Kaleb Macintyre, a former Master, returned home after years away. All he wanted was a quiet life but encountering Nenne changed everything. Both of them bore scars from their pasts. As their relationship grew and they healed, Kaleb wondered if he could have more with Nenne or if his basic nature prevented him from ever finding happiness in Nenne’s arms.
The Nature of Beasts is a sweet romance focusing on consent, knowledge and growing together over time.
Warning / Themes: This novel addresses themes of abuse and recovery, BDSM and gay romance in a dystopian world. Please read with caution if you have any issues with these themes.
The Nature of Beasts
By Meyari McFarland
3. Giving Guidance
“Grant was arrested,” Nenne said three days later as he stood in Kaleb’s door with The Slave’s Path clutched to his chest. “He’s… he’s been denied bail. One of his friends told me that he’s probably going to be sold as a slave.”
His face was far too pale and his eyes far too wide. Kaleb could see how Nenne shook standing there. It wasn’t the same shakes as when Kaleb had rescued him several days ago but the shock was apparently just as bad. Kaleb had intended to go out and get some groceries but he stood aside, gesturing to Nenne.
“Come in,” Kaleb said as comfortingly as he could, not that he expected it to get through to Nenne right now.
Nenne settled onto the sofa with a whimper that tried to masquerade as a tired sigh. His lost expression made Kaleb’s heart hurt for Nenne despite the fact that it was Kaleb’s tip that had gotten Grant arrested. It had been remarkably easy to get the abusive Dom put away.
He was wanted for fraud, assault and a variety of debts he’d incurred under stolen identities. There was little likelihood that Grant would ever be free again. Kaleb was fairly certain that he’d die either in prison or as a true slave, depending on whether the prosecutor emphasized the assaults or the identity theft and fraud.
Still, that left Nenne alone and Kaleb knew that it was his fault even if Nenne didn’t. Kaleb felt responsible for helping Nenne get on his feet now that he was free. He patted Nenne’s shoulder before sitting on the couch next to him. Nenne passed The Slave’s Path back to Kaleb, his fingers lingering on the cover of the book for a couple of seconds.
“It was good,” Nenne said, not meeting Kaleb’s eyes. “I never knew any of that.”
“What in particular was new?” Kaleb asked as he set the book beside him on the couch.
“I didn’t know that slaves, consensual slaves, I mean, I didn’t know that they were supposed to speak up for themselves,” Nenne admitted. His fingers tugged on the too-large lock as he if he wanted it off but was afraid to ask. “I always thought that the whole point was that you didn’t have opinions and you weren’t supposed to ever object.”
“It’s a common misconception,” Kaleb said, nodding. He smiled as the movement finally prompted Nenne to meet his eyes. “I can’t tell you how many people in the lifestyle, both Dom and sub, think that it’s accurate. What else?”
Nenne tugged at the lock again, more firmly this time. As he did it the heavy leather of his collar cut into his skin. It wasn’t enough to break the skin but Kaleb could see how red Nenne’s neck was underneath it. The thing truly was too tight and the lock was too large for it to be comfortable. For the first time it looked like Nenne was aware of the problems with his collar.
“This isn’t right,” Nenne said, frowning as he played with the lock. “It’s not supposed to be something that I can never remove. It’s supposed to be something that both people agree to and that the sub can get out of at any time if he needs to.”
“Quite so,” Kaleb said. “It’s also not supposed to be that tight.”
“Grant said that I had to earn a bigger one,” Nenne admitted with a far more violent jerk against the collar. “He was lying, wasn’t he? Everything he claimed was a lie. He wasn’t a real Master. He didn’t know anything about how this,” he waved at Kaleb’s apartment as if it was one of the big sex clubs across town, “is supposed to work.”
There were tears in his eyes as he kept jerking on the collar. Kaleb leaned over and caught Nenne’s hands, keeping him from hurting himself. The simple touch made Nenne’s breath catch and tears spill over though only two tears crept down his cheeks. Rather than let Nenne hurt himself by tearing the collar off, Kaleb kept his grip on Nenne’s hands and pulled them down into his lap.
Nenne’s shivers strengthened for a long moment before slowly stilling back to nothing. He let out a long slow breath without meeting Kaleb’s eyes. Kaleb waited, letting Nenne have as much time as he needed. Eventually Nenne raised his head and met Kaleb’s eyes. There were no tears, as Kaleb had expected, but he looked stricken.
“He is gone, Nenne,” Kaleb said. “You don’t have to keep wearing it.”
“I don’t have the key,” Nenne whispered as he clung to Kaleb’s hands. “I can’t take it off.”
“I can cut it off,” Kaleb said as he gently squeezed Nenne’s hands to try to reassure him, “but only if that’s what you want. I know that it had great meaning to you. I fully understand that. But with him gone and you not having the key, I am worried about how tight the collar is around your neck.”
Nenne nodded slowly. “It hurts. It always did but Grant said that I’d get used to it. I can’t… can you get it off?”
Kaleb nodded, helping Nenne stand up. He led the way into his kitchen, rummaging in the bottom left drawer that he’d already designated as the official ‘junk’ drawer for the household. It wasn’t easy to find the small pair of bolt cutters that he’d had for the last twenty years or so since they were stuck in the very back of the drawer. When Kaleb showed them to Nenne, his breath caught and he smiled tearfully.
Cutting the lock off took a bit more effort than Kaleb had expected. It was a very sturdy lock, all things considered, but he managed it. Nenne jerked when the hasp of the lock finally broke, taking a step backwards before raising shaking hands to pull the lock off his collar.
“I’ve got some nice salve for your neck, Nenne,” Kaleb said.
“Probably need it,” Nenne muttered as he stared at the lock’s pieces in his hand.
Kaleb waited for a moment but Nenne didn’t appear to be aware of anything other than the loss of his collar. He went into the bathroom and came back with the salve. It took Kaleb’s guiding hand for Nenne to move out of the kitchen and back to the couch. Once there, Kaleb carefully removed the too-tight collar.
He winced at the raw mark around Nenne’s neck. The poor boy had to have been suffering badly. Nenne held the collar clenched in his hands as Kaleb carefully cleaned Nenne’s neck and then soothed salve over the raw patches. Hopefully there wouldn’t be any scars left behind. It would be a shame for Nenne to have to stare at scars left by his horrible Master.
“There you go,” Kaleb said. “I’ll give you this for your neck, Nenne. You’ll need to apply it a couple times a day until the raw spots heal up.”
Nenne nodded, staring at his hands clenched around the collar. “I… don’t have a job. Grant was paying for my apartment and the rent’s due in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure what to do now.”
“Don’t worry about the rent,” Kaleb reassured Nenne. “I’m the new owner of the building. I’ll tell the managers to give you a break for an extra couple of weeks. That should give you enough time to find some work.”
“I don’t know,” Nenne said, finally raising his eyes to meet Kaleb’s again. “I don’t have any work experience, Kaleb. I… I left home right out of school and Grant took care of paying for the apartment. I’ve never even looked for a job before. Don’t you need to have a Master’s recommendation or something?”
He looked so frightened of the idea of job hunting that Kaleb smiled and patted Nenne’s knee. The poor boy must have come from an abusive home to have such little experience in dealing with modern life. Or perhaps his family had been exceedingly poor. That would explain a great deal too. At least he’d managed to avoid running up a huge debt. Kaleb hated the thought of what would have happened to Nenne in the debt slavery system.
“It depends on the job,” Kaleb said thoughtfully. “If you want an extremely high-paying job, then yes, you would need a Master’s recommendation. However, that isn’t the sort of job I was thinking of. A job at a fast food restaurant or cleaning rooms in a smaller hotel wouldn’t require much experience at all. For that matter, I noticed that the coffee shop down the street has signs out that they need help. You could apply there.”
Nenne nodded but he looked so desperately uncomfortable with the idea that Kaleb had to suppress a sigh. The poor boy truly needed guidance for a while. Hopefully in the not too distant future he would find enough of his self-confidence that he would be able to live life on his own. Or perhaps Kaleb could direct Nenne into the clubs so that he could find a good Master who would take proper care of him. That might be a better path for Nenne, honestly.
Rather than fussing over Nenne’s reluctance and fear, Kaleb got The Master’s Path and gave that to Nenne to read. As it stood, Nenne was far too unaware of how the lifestyle actually worked for Kaleb to even consider sending him with friends to the clubs. The private parties that Kaleb had enjoyed so much once upon a time were absolutely out of the question until Nenne could stand up for himself and had some idea of what he truly wanted.
“Don’t worry about it tonight, Nenne,” Kaleb said. “I’ll make dinner and then we can talk about what you learned from The Slave’s Path. Tomorrow will be soon enough to go over how one prepares for a job interview.”
“Yes, Sir,” Nenne whined, his expression so stricken at the thought of getting a job that Kaleb would have thought the boy had been stabbed.
Over the next couple of days Kaleb chivvied Nenne into creating a resume, though Nenne thought it was strange to make one when he only had school credits to list. Kaleb was more annoyed that adding Grant’s abusive relationship was a point in Nenne’s favor. Many service jobs liked employing submissives. They tended to be better with the customers and less likely to cause problems on the job. That Nenne had been with the same Dom for two years in a committed relationship actually helped him land a job at the coffee shop up the way.
“Make sure to tell them that you’re not looking for a new Dom,” Kaleb warned Nenne before his first day of work. “I’ll stop by at lunch to see how you’re doing.”
“I will, Sir,” Nenne said as his hands quivered from sheer nerves. “I just, I don’t know how to do anything!”
“They’re going to teach you,” Kaleb chuckled. “Don’t fuss over that. Just go, do your best and try to smile for people, Nenne.”
“Yes, Sir,” Nenne said, breathing deeply and then whining nervously. “I will, Sir. You promise you’ll stop by?”
“I promise,” Kaleb chuckled. “If you need to push anyone off, tell them you’re in training with me. It’s close enough to the truth, after all.”
Nenne stopped halfway out the door, his eyes wide with surprise. “Am I?”
“More or less,” Kaleb said with a wry smile. “I’m not looking for a sub or a slave but I am teaching you about how to be one with a true Dom, a true Master. Go on, now, Nenne. Don’t be late on your first day of work.”
That got Nenne out the door and down the stairs. Kaleb had gifted him with a new shirt and pair of shoes for his new job. He probably shouldn’t have but he couldn’t let the poor boy go off to work wearing his ratty old clothes. If Nenne was himself, and Kaleb was certain that he would be, he’d be shy and beautiful and intent on doing his best. The owner of the coffee shop was a very causal Dom who would inevitably take Nenne under his wing.
When Kaleb showed up at lunch time, he was proved right. Johan was right there next to Nenne, teaching him everything he needed to know. As soon as Nenne saw Kaleb in line, his whole face lit up to the point that Kaleb’s cheeks went faintly red. Nenne personally saw to Kaleb’s order of black coffee and one of the coffee shop’s fantastic sticky buns. It didn’t surprise Kaleb that Johan came over while Kaleb was eating.
“You know him,” Johan said as he sat down opposite Kaleb.
“He’s my neighbor,” Kaleb said with a wry smile. “The boy had an abusive Dom who had him a too-tight collar. Starved the poor boy and beat him, tried to rape him in the hallway. I… dealt with him. I’m trying to get him back on his feet.”
“Ah, you’re the ever-so-impressive Kaleb,” Johan said with a nod as if Kaleb had just confirmed something. “I wondered. You’re older than I would have expected.”
“I’ll never see the good side of forty-five again,” Kaleb sighed sadly. “Or thirty. I miss the knees I had at thirty.”
Johan snickered at that but there was still too much concern and calculation in his eyes. Kaleb sipped his coffee, watching Nenne working the complicated coffee machines. He could tell how Nenne was watching him from the corner of his eyes but he didn’t seem to be making any major mistakes even though it was his first day.
When Kaleb set down his coffee, he sighed and met Johan’s eyes before offering a hand. “Kaleb Macintyre.”
“Of Macintyre Munitions?” Johan asked, his eyes going as wide as Nenne’s tended to.
“The same,” Kaleb said. “I’m honestly not looking for a sub. Or a slave or a pet. Nenne’s my neighbor and the boy’s been through enough. I couldn’t look away when it was happening right in my face. All I intend to do is help him regain his confidence and maybe get him some introductions with friends of mine so that he can explore the lifestyle safely.”
“Good luck on that,” Johan said. They both looked away as a rush of people came in. He stood, pushing his chair back into the table. His expression was rather more amused than Kaleb thought was justified. “You’ll need it.”
“He’s a good boy,” Kaleb huffed.
“Quite so,” Johan agreed. “But I don’t think you’ll have as easy of a time finding him someone else as you think.”
He left before Kaleb could muster a rejoinder. Johan’s comment stuck in Kaleb’s mind as the days turned into weeks. Once Nenne had his first paycheck, Kaleb went shopping with him, helping him pick out a cheap but sturdy table from a second hand store. They bought simple curtains for the windows and then a better bed after the second paycheck. Kaleb showed Nenne how to fix his wobbly chairs so that they were sturdy enough to use without worries and gave him advice on what new clothes he should buy and where to find them cheaply.
Kaleb also started teaching Nenne how to cook once he realized that the boy could barely boil water. It was somewhat old fashioned but Kaleb was a firm believer in subs cooking for their Doms. Preparing food, creating delicious and beautiful meals, was one of the more direct ways of being of service to one’s Dom and Kaleb made sure that Nenne understood it.
“Eating a good diet is important,” Kaleb said as he stir fried some vegetables and skinless chicken. He had Nenne tearing up lettuce and baby spinach for a salad. “You can’t take care of your master if you’re too weak or unhealthy. One thing you have to remember is that when you become someone’s slave in this lifestyle, your body isn’t yours anymore. It belongs to your master. That means that you have to take care of his property properly.”
“I thought you ate what the Master let you eat,” Nenne said, looking confused.
“Certainly,” Kaleb said, taste testing one of the green beans and nodding that they were done. “If you live with your master, he will determine what food you have available. But there are many slaves who don’t live with their master. There are lots of slaves and not enough Masters to go around. Even if you do live with him, he may decide that you’re responsible for the cooking and shopping. Then you have to keep in mind what his tastes are when you’re preparing the meals.”
“Oh,” Nenne said, eyes going wide and then sliding away from Kaleb’s face. “But I can’t cook.”
“That’s why I’m teaching you, Nenne,” Kaleb laughed, bumping his shoulder against Nenne’s and getting a shy grin. “Once I’m done you’ll have a week or two’s worth of meals that you can make and be proud of. From there it’s a matter of experimenting and getting a good cookbook or three.”
They ate, the discussion moving to cooking and how a basic recipe could be altered by the ingredients and spices that were used. Nenne showed a talent for cooking, so Kaleb investigated local cooking schools to see if any had night classes that Nenne could attend. There were several good classes and getting Nenne a scholarship to attend was easy enough.
Between his job and his classes, Nenne still came to Kaleb’s apartment, working his way through every book that Kaleb had on the lifestyle, as well as asking millions of questions about how things differed for consensual slaves, debt slaves and true slaves, as well as subs, pets and other varieties of submissives.
Kaleb answered them all, enjoying watching Nenne blossom from a terrified boy into a confident young submissive. About nine and a half months after they’d met, Kaleb judged Nenne ready.
“A… a club?” Nenne said, his eyes flying wide. “I don’t know, Kaleb. I’m not sure I’m ready.”
“You’re ready,” Kaleb said, closing Nenne’s hand around the invitation. “There’s no guarantee that you’ll meet someone right but you should go and observe. A friend of mine is going to be there. He’s agreed to sponsor you for the night so that you can check things out without pressure. Tomorrow night isn’t for hooking up, Nenne. It’s a chance for you to see the lifestyle in action and then think about it. You’ll meet a lot of people and you’ll see a lot of activities that will give you pause. Take your time before you jump into a relationship.”
“All right,” Nenne said, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “As long as it’s just observing I think I’ll be okay.”
“I think you’ll like Jack,” Kaleb said, smiling at Nenne. “He’s a good Master, and a good friend.”
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