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
5. Growing Attachment
Kaleb lounged on his couch, reading. He was fairly certain that to an outside viewer he looked calm, relaxed, in control. An outside viewer might notice that he’d read the same page four times only to turn back and read it a fifth. The way his toes twitched rhythmically probably would tell someone paying attention that Kaleb was anything but calm and relaxed.
“He won’t come back and talk to you,” Kaleb grumbled at himself as he shut his book and glared at the ceiling. It stayed blandly white, refusing to react to his worry for Nenne. “It’s already well after midnight, Kaleb. Huh, no, well after two in the morning. He’s going to go home and go to bed, not come over here and talk.”
That was exactly as it should be. Kaleb had more or less told Nenne that he shouldn’t bother filling Kaleb in until the next day. After all Kaleb usually went to bed well before midnight and Nenne was likely to be out until early morning.
The sheer thought of what he might be doing until dawn had Kaleb up and on his feet, pacing. Jack had warned Kaleb that Todd had taken to attending the Saint Elmo Club in the last couple of years. Even thinking of Nenne meeting Todd made Kaleb’s teeth grind. No one as sweet and gentle as Nenne deserved to deal with Todd’s wrong-headed stubbornness. Really, things would have been so much different if Todd had just been able to admit that he’d changed and wanted new things…
“I should have gone with him,” Kaleb murmured as he considered, and then decided not to, putting on his shoes and coat so that he could go straight over. “The boy’s so new that he might as well be raw. He has no idea what he’s going to find.”
Of course, that was the whole point of the evening. That was why Jack had agreed to escort Nenne, to give him a Master as a buffer against the vultures that were sure to swoop in on someone like Nenne. Kaleb could think, even now, of a dozen Masters and Mistresses who would be perfectly happy to take Nenne in for the status of having him with them. Not a one of them would really think of what was best for Nenne.
“You told him what to look for,” Kaleb growled at himself. “You explained how it works. You told him all the things he should say to get people to back off and you told him how to call for help if someone didn’t listen to what he wants. Nenne’s grown. He’s not the fragile boy you first met. He’ll be fine!”
Kaleb threw up his hands, wishing desperately that his damned worries would listen to him. It was all true and not one word of it made the slightest bit of difference. Nenne was away at a BDSM club without Kaleb, just as Kaleb had wanted, and now Kaleb thought that he was going to claw his way out of his own skin. It was ridiculous.
“The boy will be fine,” Kaleb muttered as he stomped over to put his book away before stomping onwards to the bedroom. “You are not going to stay up and wait for him to come home. That’s ridiculous. There’s no reason for it when you know that Nenne’s not going to visit until tomorrow afternoon.”
Stern words had just as much effect as the logic had earlier. Kaleb still made himself get undressed and put on his pajamas. The simple yoga pants and battered old T-shirt usually calmed Kaleb down from sheer familiarity. This time they did nothing at all other than remind Kaleb that his bed was a lonely one without another person in it.
Sixteen years without a long-term sexual partner should have gotten Kaleb to the point where he didn’t care whether his bed was full or not. It hadn’t. Or, more accurately, it had until he’d gotten to know Nenne. Kaleb knew enough about Nenne to be certain that he most likely wouldn’t enjoy floggings or whippings. The sounds were too much like what he’d experienced with Grant. A good solid spanking would probably have Nenne whimpering.
Kaleb swallowed hard at the sudden surge of arousal that came with the image of Nenne spread over his thighs, ass hot from a hard spanking and cock rubbing against Kaleb’s leg. He knew the smell of Nenne’s arousal after this long, knew how his eyes drifted half shut and his mouth dropped open when something truly turned him on. When Nenne was right on the verge, as he’d been reading several of the racier books Kaleb had loaned to him, his hips rocked involuntarily and his breath came in little wheeze-huff gasps that slid in Nenne’s nose and out his mouth.
“Fuck,” Kaleb growled, squeezing himself so hard that his rising cock went down a little.
It sprang back up like the idiot that it was. Kaleb glared at it. He would not do that. Masturbating to the thought of Nenne being spanked, being kissed and caressed, touched by some of the Masters that Kaleb knew were still in the lifestyle, was utterly inappropriate given that Kaleb had flatly refused to take Nenne on himself.
The thought of Nenne living with Kaleb, being his in all the ways that counted, unleashed a flood of conflicting emotion. Part of Kaleb thought it was the best idea he’d ever had. That was the part that had been sure he could help Todd, that had been certain that if he just communicated clearly enough their relationship could be saved.
Another part wanted to lock the door and never let Nenne come in again. The sheer thought of letting Nenne into his life so deeply made all of Kaleb’s fears of intimacy, of commitment, shout about how stupid he was being. It was stupid to let someone so close to him. Kaleb wasn’t a young man anymore. He didn’t have the strength to overpower a young person like Nenne if things went wrong. If there was one thing that Kaleb knew it was that things could go wrong in so many terrible ways.
“But Nenne’s not like Todd,” Kaleb murmured. He rolled over and buried his face in his pillows.
Certainly, both Nenne and Todd had come from abusive households. They’d both been with abusive masters prior to meeting Kaleb. But Todd had never been as sweetly submissive as Nenne was naturally. His temper had been obvious even on the first day in Kaleb’s house. Where Nenne had quietly and gratefully learned whatever Kaleb had to offer, Todd had argued from day one. In the beginning his resistance had been indirect, by passive-aggressively pretending not to understand what Kaleb wanted, but he’d made his reluctance to follow orders clear.
“I was an idiot to think I could deal with him,” Kaleb muttered, shifting so that he could look towards the window. “I should have listened to my friends and turned him out long before I did.”
Thoughts of Todd had put a dent in Kaleb’s erection but they hadn’t made it go away. Every thought of how wrong and painful Todd had been was tied to another thought of how wonderful Nenne could be. Kaleb groaned as he sat up and tried to punch his pillows into a better shape even though they’d been picture perfect. He winced at the thought of pushing Nenne back against the pillows, tying his hands to the headboard, kissing the boy until those throaty little whimpers Nenne never admitted to were let loose for Kaleb to hear properly.
“I want him,” Kaleb admitted in a hoarse, horrified whisper. He was grateful for the darkness around him and the soundproofing that kept anyone from overhearing the mortifying confession. “I shouldn’t. I’ve been training him to give him away, not to keep him.”
Kaleb groaned as he flopped back on the pillows, his idiot cock fully at attention at the thought of Nenne in the bed next to him, Nenne under him, moaning desperately. Nenne riding his cock, head flung back and eyes shut with pleasure made Kaleb wheeze with lust. It was wrong, so very wrong, but Kaleb still found his hand wrapped around his erection.
If it was Nenne, the grip would be hesitant, unsure. He’d watch Kaleb’s expression anxiously, trying to figure out what felt best instead of just enjoying himself. Kaleb bit his lip as he started working himself. He’d have to show Nenne exactly how he liked it, show him the grip and the movements, the way Kaleb liked to brush the pad of his thumb over the slit.
The fantasy bloomed hard and fast with Nenne kneeling on the foot of the bed, hands in fists and lips open, as Kaleb masturbated for him. Kaleb shut his eyes, summoning up the sounds Nenne made whenever he was aroused but wouldn’t admit it. His little gasps and moans would be louder. The bed would rock with the motion of Nenne’s hips.
“He’s not,” Kaleb panted even as he drove himself hard and fast towards an orgasm, “not mine. Not going to be mine. It’s not going to…”
All pretense of denial disappeared as Kaleb imagined Nenne reaching a hand out as if to help and then pulling it back in without touching. He could almost smell Nenne’s arousal. Kaleb twisted just right on the upstroke and then shouted as he came hard.
Even though it was the hardest orgasm he’d had in quite a while, Kaleb didn’t feel better once it was over. He cleaned up and washed his hands, avoiding his eyes in the bathroom mirror. Eventually, after Kaleb’s hands were red and raw from the hot water and soap, he looked at himself in the mirror.
“Nenne’s not yours,” Kaleb told himself, the sick expression a perfect complement to the nauseated roil of his stomach. “You yourself told him it would never happen. You can’t take it back now.”
This time when Kaleb curled up in bed, wrapping his arms around a pillow, there was no sense of Nenne being there at all. Kaleb didn’t fall asleep until somewhere close to four in the morning. When his alarm went off at eight Kaleb growled and smacked it so hard that he nearly knocked it off the bedside table.
Habit was all that got Kaleb out of bed and into the shower. He barely ate breakfast, spent most of the day trying not to growl at people at the bookstore and forced himself not to go to the coffee shop for lunch. Nenne had probably found someone last night, if not a long-term Master then perhaps someone to play with. Jack would have introduced him to everyone reasonable, given him the best chance to find someone new. Kaleb had to admit that he didn’t want to find out what joy at having a new relationship looked like on Nenne’s face.
By the time he got home, Kaleb had almost convinced himself that he would be fine when Nenne came in smiling and announced that he’d found the perfect Master. Still, his heart leaped into his throat when Nenne knocked on the door around dinner time. Kaleb hesitated for long enough that Nenne knocked again. When Kaleb opened the door, Nenne had a puzzled expression his face, not the anticipated huge smile.
“Are you all right?” Nenne asked.
“I didn’t sleep very well last night,” Kaleb admitted and then wanted to curse at himself because that hadn’t been what he wanted to say to Nenne. Granted, it was what he’d told everyone all day long but that didn’t mean it was appropriate for Nenne.
Nenne ducked his head, laughing under his breath as he came in. “I didn’t sleep very well either. I was too nervous the night before and then I didn’t get home until after 2:30 am so not much sleep at all.”
“You were home not too long after I finally got to sleep,” Kaleb said, something uncoiling inside of him at the realization that Nenne couldn’t have found a master last night. He wouldn’t have been home until dawn if he had.
“Really?” Nenne asked, surprised.
“I’ve been a horrible grump all day,” Kaleb said so wryly that Nenne laughed out loud. “Part of why I didn’t come over for lunch. No reason to inflict my lack of sleep on everyone there. So how did it go?”
“It was… interesting,” Nenne said.
He went to the kitchen, seemingly automatically, as he took out ingredients for a chicken stir fry with fresh vegetables. Kaleb grinned at that, leaning against the counter and watching Nenne’s face as he pondered what he’d seen. To Kaleb’s surprise, Nenne’s expression hinted that he hadn’t particularly enjoyed the night, counter to Kaleb’s expectations.
“What did you find interesting?” Kaleb asked as he took some the chicken breasts and set to work cutting it into strips for Nenne.
“There were so many different sorts of people,” Nenne explained much more animatedly. “I was expecting people to be more…”
“Like in pornos or on TV?” Kaleb finished for him, laughing when Nenne blushed brightly. “Very few people in the lifestyle match those. Very few people in general match what the media tells us.”
Nenne nodded firmly as he got the oil started in the pan and deftly cut up a bell pepper into strip. That was a major improvement. He barely seemed to think about it now. When Kaleb had first shown him how to do it he’d taken forever and apologized endlessly for not having each strip perfect. His culinary school seemed to have done a great deal to improve his confidence there.
“Master Jack introduced me to several people,” Nenne said. “I really liked Mistress Anna and her girl Rose but I think that’s because Mistress Anna is short and round and smiles so much. There was one sub in a suit that I was curious about but I never did get to talk to him. He was the only one who was dressed that way. I was curious why.”
“Ah, that would be Darius Elshag’s boy, Jason,” Kaleb explained. “You’ll want to stay away from them. Elshag works with Black. The boy’s sweet as can be but… better not to associate with Elshag if you can help it. He keeps Jason more as a pet than as a sub, anyway. I don’t believe anyone’s ever seen him out of the suit.”
That made Nenne stare until the oil started spluttering. By that point the ingredients were ready though so it hardly mattered. Kaleb watched as Nenne cooked, gathering plates and silverware when it was close to finished. A tiny part of Kaleb’s mind noted that Nenne had automatically left out the mushrooms that Kaleb hated, even though he knew that Nenne loved them in stir fries.
He shouldn’t take that as proof of anything other than Nenne having learned his culinary school lessons that one should pay attention to the consumer of one’s cooking and not give them things to eat that they loathed. Nenne pulled two beers from the fridge once their dinners were on the table, raising an eyebrow at Kaleb.
“Sounds good,” Kaleb said with a nod of approval. “Though I give no guarantees of staying awake once I’ve eaten and drunk it. Lack of sleep is harder to deal with at my age.”
“I don’t know how anyone deals with it,” Nenne sighed as he sat opposite Kaleb at the little kitchen table. “I spent the whole day yawning my head off. It looked like people were going to be there all night.”
Kaleb nodded as he started eating. “Most do. I never did. I’m too much of an early bird to enjoy staying up all night but a great many people will stay at the clubs all night, catch some sleep after dawn, and then come back the next night. Not very many of them hold regular jobs though.”
That got Nenne laughing around a mouthful of food. The way his eyes wrinkled as he smiled and nodded made Kaleb’s heart sink. He shouldn’t be noticing the way Nenne smiled and waved his fork absently as he chewed and thought. His wrinkled nose should not be that attractive. It only emphasized just how far gone Kaleb was, how little attention he’d been paying to his own heart all this time.
“I liked the layout, with non-sexual things downstairs and play places upstairs,” Nenne said once he’d swallowed. “But I thought dungeons would be in the basement for some reason.”
“Not enough ceiling clearance in most basements,” Kaleb explained. “And, frankly? Most clubs have their bomb shelters in the basement where the guests are most likely to be safe if there’s a major attack. Did you see anything you didn’t like?”
“Several things,” Nenne said with a confident enough nod that Kaleb smiled at him. It was good to see him so sure of himself. “I don’t like whippings and floggings. The sound made my stomach turn. I don’t think I’d enjoy play piercing either. Master Jack stayed and watched one in process with me even though I could tell it made him nauseous. It didn’t do anything for me, frankly. And I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t enjoy pony play. How do they stand those shoes?”
His confused, almost horrified question caught Kaleb with a mouth full of beer. Kaleb barely kept himself from spewing beer across the table as he snorted and laughed. Nenne’s delight in Kaleb’s laughter was blatant. His eyes sparkled happily as he grinned and passed Kaleb napkins to wipe his face.
“I believe a great many of the people who enjoy pony play find the pain to be part of the appeal,” Kaleb said while chuckling. “Not your kink?”
“Ah, no,” Nenne said. He drew ‘no’ out so that it became several syllables long, chuckling and shaking his head. “Spanking, definitely. Caning, maybe. The sounds were different enough that it didn’t bother me and I know I like a little pain. Well, more than a little. But not pony play, that’s for sure.”
“Were there any people you didn’t like?” Kaleb asked, sure that Darius Elshag would be on the list, as well as some of the more authoritarian Masters and Mistresses who emphasized protocol over anything else.
Nenne paused and stared at his plate, poking a piece of chicken for a long enough moment that Kaleb frowned at him. It was impossible not to worry that someone had tried something inappropriate with Nenne last night. After all, he hadn’t said what he’d done other than watch. Kaleb knew all too well the temptations of such clubs. Leaping straight in was normal, which was why he’d warned Nenne to hold back and observe this time.
“I…” Nenne paused, raising his face to stare so seriously into Kaleb’s eyes that Kaleb’s heart skipped a beat. “I saw Master Todd, Sir. Your Todd.”
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