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
“Very quiet tonight,” Nenne commented as Master Morgan led him into the club. “Where is everyone?”
“I believe that the Satan’s Pit has a special party going on tonight,” Master Morgan said. He looked almost as surprised as Nenne was. “I hadn’t expected things to be this quiet.”
Nenne grinned as a thought occurred to him. “Maybe you’ll actually be able to look at the frog chairs tonight!”
Master Morgan burst out laughing. His laughter echoed through the open lobby so loudly that it trailed of much more quickly than usual. They got startled stares from the three couples talking quietly by the buffet and one smile and nod from the couple heading up the stairs.
Nenne shoulder bumped Master Morgan when he turned to stare at Nenne with wide eyes and lips twitching with amusement. Rather than stay downstairs and talk as they normally did, Nenne took Master Morgan’s hand and headed upstairs to the play rooms right away. Even they were mostly empty. He almost wished that they’d gone to Satan’s Pit instead but that club was very focused on SM practices and he knew that Master Morgan would have been very uncomfortable.
“It’s so quiet,” Nenne whispered as they stared at the completely empty orgy room. “I’ve never seen this room empty before!”
“I know,” Master Morgan agreed. “You’d think that they weren’t open for business yet. Where are people playing tonight?”
They checked the other play rooms. The flogging room was empty as well though all the tools had been laid out. The room with the crosses for caning had one couple. The Domme smiled and nodded when they looked in but she didn’t stop slowly and casually caning her boy. Even the frog chair room was empty, which let Master Morgan really study how the various chairs worked.
“Okay, if we were having anal sex then I’d love these,” Nenne commented as he let Master Morgan maneuver his legs into the stirrups for him. “Do you think Adelia would like one?”
“I think she’d love this one,” Master Morgan said. He checked how much support Nenne’s legs had in the hammock-like stirrups and smiled. “This would work very well for her indeed. There’s enough support that she wouldn’t slide at all.”
“It’s actually designed for individuals with mobility issues,” one of the health monitors commented from the doorway.
“Then I definitely need to get the technical data on it,” Master Morgan said so happily that Nenne giggled at him.
He helped Nenne out of the frog chair again, leading him back towards the stairs. They paused by the long room where people usually did pony play. Today there were people dancing ballroom style in the room. It made Master Morgan grin while Nenne just stared. Instead of fancy clothes, the men and women dancing were wearing lingerie and street clothes, though a few were completely naked.
“Different,” Master Morgan commented.
“Is dancing a thing?” Nenne asked quietly. “I mean dancing like this instead of the really dirty dancing they do downstairs.”
“For some people it is,” Master Morgan explained equally quietly. “Before his legs gave out on him Master Edward loved ballroom dancing. There’s a sort of focus and interplay between dance partners that’s quite similar to many forms of BDSM. I was never graceful enough to be good at it, personally. Apparently Kaleb was quite good when he was younger.”
That made Nenne swallow a laugh. He couldn’t help but think of Kaleb’s complaints about his knees and back after a hard day at the bookstore. Master Morgan looked curious but he didn’t ask. Instead he pulled Nenne away so that they could head back down the stairs to the club office. Getting the technical specs for Master Morgan’s favorite frog chair was easy enough. They were on file so the clerk gave Master Morgan a copy as well as emailing him the information.
They settled into the library together so that Master Morgan could read it all over. Nenne snuggled at his side, blinking when Master Todd came in with his newest slave girl by his side. He frowned at seeing them, apparently unwilling to come into the room. Nenne raised an eyebrow and gestured for him to feel free.
“I was beginning to think that no one is here,” Master Todd said. He had his girl kneel on a floor pillow by his feet. “It’s dead tonight.”
“It is very quiet,” Nenne agreed before Master Morgan could do anything more than stiffen slightly. “I didn’t think it ever got this quiet here.”
Master Todd’s eyes narrowed at Nenne as if he was trying to figure out what Nenne wanted. They’d avoided one another since that first night at the club where Master Jack had been showing Nenne around. When Master Todd’s eyes flicked to Master Morgan, Master Todd snorted quietly as if that was about what he’d expected.
“He’s not my master,” Nenne said, making Master Morgan start.
“Really?” Master Todd asked with just enough challenge in his voice and expression to make Nenne’s eyes narrow at him. “You’re always here with him.”
“His girl is in a wheelchair,” Nenne explained. “That makes it hard for her to get around the club. And I enjoy spending time with Master Morgan. He’s a very nice person who always takes good care of me. We don’t match well at all when it comes to kinks but that’s all right. We’ve set our limits together and enjoy playing within them.”
The mention of limits made Master Todd’s nostrils flare. He raised his chin to glare at Nenne so fiercely that Master Morgan sat up straighter. When Master Morgan opened his mouth Nenne put his hand on Master Morgan’s thigh. The surprised look he got in response made Master Todd’s eyebrows draw together into a fierce frown.
“I know you’re still mad at Kaleb,” Nenne said.
“I think I have every right to be,” Master Todd snapped.
“Perhaps,” Nenne said. “I don’t know. Kaleb doesn’t talk to me very much about you, frankly. He finds that entire period of his life too painful to think about.”
“He always was weak,” Master Todd replied.
He looked away from both of them, not acknowledging his girl’s worried look or the growl from Master Morgan. To Nenne’s eyes he had the same sort of ‘avoid at all costs’ expression that Kaleb had when Nenne asked about the worst battles before Master Todd got thrown out. Nenne nodded slightly, smiling when Master Todd turned back to glare at him.
“You only wanted a sexual relationship,” Nenne observed.
“Of course,” Master Todd said so scathingly that Master Morgan opened his mouth again. “Don’t even interrupt this. The boy started it. Let him finish it. I appreciated Kaleb rescuing me. Yes, I needed it. I needed it desperately. If I’d stayed where I was I would have ended up dead very soon.”
“Me too,” Nenne agreed. “But what Kaleb wanted to teach you wasn’t what you needed, was it?”
This time when Master Todd snorted it was a much sadder, exhausted snort than an angry one. He looked away again but it was with a distant expression, as if he was seeing all those years ago instead of now. His girl leaned against his legs, tentatively petting his knee but Master Todd didn’t seem to notice. Nenne gently waved one hand at her to try and calm her down. She glared at him but didn’t say a thing.
“He never was good at hearing what I said to him,” Master Todd said so softly that he almost looked submissive. “I told him so many times that I didn’t want to learn the things he was pushing at me. I didn’t want to be who he thought I should be.”
“Did you ever outright say ‘Kaleb, I’m not happy’?” Nenne asked. “Not with actions. The actual words.”
“Not until the end,” Master Todd sighed. “I… You don’t say things like that. You were beaten, yes?” He nodded when Nenne nodded confirmation. “There are things you don’t say, things you don’t do. You don’t state outright when a dominant is doing something that upsets you. That’s what gets you beaten and raped. Yes, I’ve learned to be better about that in the last fifteen years but he should have been able to see it sooner.”
Master Morgan’s annoyed huff made Nenne laugh as he pressed against Master Morgan’s side. “No, Kaleb would never be any good at that, Master Todd. He relies on the sub to communicate their needs.”
“I cannot believe you’re having a civil conversation with him,” Master Morgan grumbled. “After everything he did to Kaleb!”
Nenne shrugged so casually that all three of them stared at him, including Master Todd’s sub. There was nothing surprising about it at all in Nenne’s mind. He’d had these questions practically since the day Kaleb cut his collar off, certainly since he realized that Kaleb was traumatized by something in his past.
When Nenne looked at Master Todd again there was a bit of respect in his eyes. Nenne had seen it before on that first time they met. This time it was more obvious. It made him smile at Master Todd. To his surprise Master Todd smiled and laughed quietly while shaking his head.
“You’re so obviously one of Kaleb’s,” Master Todd said.
“I know,” Nenne said so proudly that it made both Master Morgan and Master Todd’s sub chuckle. “I understand why you didn’t speak up, Master Todd.”
“Just Todd for you,” Master Todd said. He glared when Master Morgan stared at him. “Master is for those who I might play with someday in some form or another. I will never touch Nenne.”
“I wouldn’t let you,” Nenne said. He shrugged again when Todd’s sub huffed at him. “I really wouldn’t. I already know that our kinks would be a disastrous match. I hate public humiliation and I couldn’t handle being passed around. My abusive Dom did that to me and… I actually think I came close to death a couple of times. It just wouldn’t work at all.”
She shuddered and leaned into Todd’s side, hugging him when Todd scooped her up into his lap for a cuddle. Nenne wondered if she’d been given a command not to speak. It didn’t really matter to him. His discussion wasn’t with her or even Master Morgan. The only person in the room who mattered right now was Todd.
Todd met his eyes squarely, without the arrogance or bravado that he usually showed to everyone else. Nenne smiled. This was the person that Kaleb had seen early on. He’d seen the young man who met life square on without noticing that Todd wasn’t purely submissive. Kaleb had missed so much about Todd and it had ruined both of their lives for a time.
“He never realized that you were a switch, did he?” Nenne said wonderingly.
“No, not at all,” Todd said. “I don’t sub anymore, though. That’s… I’m not comfortable doing that now.”
“Kaleb stopped having sex entirely,” Nenne said. “He completely abandoned the lifestyle after he left.”
“No loss there,” Todd said, snapping a glare at Master Morgan. “You have your opinion. I have mine.”
“And the two of you have entirely different styles,” Nenne said. “So there’s no point in arguing over it.”
He could feel Master Morgan’s frustration with the entire situation but to Nenne’s relief Master Morgan didn’t start yelling at Todd. Nenne could tell that he wanted to, that he though Todd deserved every bit of the abuse for hurting Kaleb that way. Honestly, Nenne wanted to say some thoroughly cutting things but that would only stir up the mess again and that would hurt Kaleb further.
“What do you want from me?” Todd asked so acidly that Nenne couldn’t help but grin.
“To understand what happened,” Nenne said. “You don’t have to explain anything, really, but I am curious. I already know that it won’t happen to me. I don’t communicate the same way you do. I was always a desperately open child. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut and I never did get any good at it even when I was beaten for speaking up.”
“How the hell did you survive an abusive master?” Todd asked with enough shock that Nenne’s grin turned into giggles. “Okay, that would help. Those are cute.”
“Sorry,” Nenne apologized without the slightest bit of sincerity. “I survived because he wasn’t always there. He set me up in a tiny studio and then only came by when he wanted to fuck me. If I’d had to be around him all the time I know I wouldn’t have made it. There wasn’t anyone to turn to and no one cared what happened to me. Kaleb was the only person who showed any interest in me. He was the one who got my Dom arrested. He was the one who cut my collar off. He taught me everything I needed to know, got me a job, a scholarship to culinary school, just… everything.”
That made Todd stare at him with so much sympathy that Nenne glared. Todd looked like he almost felt sick about Nenne’s affection for Kaleb. Master Morgan certainly didn’t like it. He wrapped an arm around Nenne as if to protect him from Todd.
“You’re in love with him,” Todd said. It wasn’t a question at all.
“Desperately,” Nenne said, nodding calmly. “Which doesn’t change the fact that if he decides to live his life as a celibate I won’t push him for more. I’ll just find someone else to do that with and content myself with being his friend.”
Nenne could see that Todd didn’t understand that at all. It was as though Todd had no frame of reference for giving up on what he wanted if the other person didn’t want it too. That made sense of his ever-changing parade of subs, his attempts to force Kaleb into giving him the kinks that he wanted, and of his steadfast avoidance of anyone who had an abusive past.
Todd didn’t want to be an abuser like his father had been.
Avoiding abused subs meant that he could tell himself that what he did wasn’t abuse. It was kink, sex, mutual pleasure. Letting the subs go whenever they wanted more than just sex was probably Todd’s way of avoiding getting himself into a situation like what had happened between him and Kaleb. BDSM, the lifestyle, was strictly sexual for Todd. Nenne suspected that it always would be.
“I think you’re insane,” Todd sighed. He scooted his girl off his lap and stood.
“No, I just want completely different things than you do,” Nenne said. “And that’s okay. One of the best things about the lifestyle is that all sorts of people are welcome, from the vanilla on out to the hardest of SM.”
“Just watch out for some of them,” Todd warned. “There are a few really crazy people out there.”
“Oh yes,” Nenne said with a shudder that got him more of a hug from Master Morgan. “I’m well aware of that. Good luck, Todd.”
Todd stared at him for a moment before nodding respectfully. “Good luck to you too, Nenne.”
He left without looking back. His girl did look over her shoulder at Nenne but she didn’t speak, didn’t gestured, only looked at him as if confused. Nenne sighed once they were gone, resting his shoulder on Master Morgan’s shoulder.
“Are you okay?” Master Morgan asked.
“Hmm? Oh, I’m fine,” Nenne said. “Glad I finally got to talk to Todd in a relatively non-hostile setting. He and Kaleb were a terrible match, weren’t they?”
Master Morgan laughed a ghost of a laugh. It was just a breath and it died practically the moment it was born. He nodded as he kissed the top of Nenne’s head. Nenne could feel Master Morgan’s arms shaking as if he was severely unsettled by the whole encounter.
“The worst,” Master Morgan sighed. “They were the absolute worst I’ve ever seen.”
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