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
“I’m so late!” Nenne groaned as he scrambled to gather up his jacket and keys. “Master Jack and Alice will be so worried about me.”
He’d intended to be out the door over twenty minutes ago but Nenne had gotten wrapped up in a book and lost track of time, then he’d realized that he’d missed a spot on his scalp when he shaved that morning. That led to staining his shirt with shaving cream so he’d had to change into a different outfit.
It had been nearly a month since the last time he’d gone to the club. Between work and Master Morgan being busy with a new contract there hadn’t been time. Tonight was going to be a no-Morgan night too. He’d called yesterday and apologized profusely for not being able to get together with Nenne.
Nenne sighed. He would miss the chance to play with Master Morgan tonight. Even if their kinks were substantially different it was always fun spending time with him. But Master Jack and Alice would be there and no night with Alice in it could ever be quiet or dull. She just had too much fun with life for that to happen.
He hurried next door, tapping on Kaleb’s door and then opening it when Kaleb didn’t answer. “Kaleb? I’m heading out.”
“Just a second,” Kaleb called back.
“What’s up?” Nenne asked. He came all the way in, glancing at the clock and inwardly cursing at himself for getting caught up in that book. If he hadn’t started reading then he would already be there.
Kaleb came out of his bedroom, tugging at a dark suit jacket to get it to settle properly over his shoulders. He was wearing dark slacks, a charcoal gray shirt and no tie. His shirt was unbuttoned enough that Nenne could see hints of his chest hair.
Nenne’s thought stumbled to a stop as he stared at Kaleb. He’d always thought Kaleb was sexy but seeing him in a suit, even a causal version of the more formal Master’s suit than most wore, made Nenne bite back a whine. Apparently he wasn’t terribly successful at suppressing the whine because Kaleb grinned at him, mischief dancing in his eyes.
“You’re… you’re dressed up,” Nenne said as he flapped a hand at Kaleb. “I’ve never seen you dress up before. Even when we visited Master Edward you wore cargo pants and a T-shirt.”
“Feels a little odd, honestly,” Kaleb said, smoothing his hands over his thighs as if they were sweating. “But I ah, thought I… might go with you?”
The noise that came out of Nenne’s mouth was so high-pitched that it couldn’t be anything other than a squeak. Nenne’s jacket flopped to the floor. His keys jangled as they tumbled down by his feet. Kaleb stared at them and then bit his lip so nervously that Nenne realized that this was real.
Kaleb wanted to go to the club. With him. With Nenne. For the first time in sixteen years, Kaleb was stepping back into his old lifestyle with Nenne by his side.
Nenne flung himself at Kaleb, all but knocking him over as he hugged Kaleb tightly. Kaleb staggered but he caught Nenne, hugging him just as tightly. To Nenne’s surprise, Kaleb was shaking with nerves though after a half-second’s thought the surprise felt silly. Of course he was nervous about going back. It was going to be a big deal to everyone, even if Master Todd wasn’t there.
“You don’t mind?” Kaleb asked.
“Mind?” Nenne gasped. “Kaleb, of course I don’t mind! I’m glad that you decided to get back into things again.”
For some reason Kaleb’s eyes narrowed for a moment. He laughed under his breath and then pulled a slim silver-covered jewelry case out of his jacket pocket. Nenne blinked, suddenly feeling as though he was missing something terrifically important and completely obvious.
“I was hoping that we could go together,” Kaleb repeated as he opened the case, “not as friends but as… more.”
Inside, there was a beautifully simple silver collar. Nenne stared, recognizing it distantly as one of the chainmail collars that Mistress Louisa custom made for people. It had a tiny little lock that was smaller than Nenne’s thumbnail. There were also two very simple platinum and gold bands, one with a sun on it and the other with a moon.
“Oh my God,” Nenne whimpered.
His legs gave out but Kaleb caught him and guided him to the sofa. When Kaleb set the jewelry case in Nenne’s hands, Nenne’s vision blurred. He blinked, causing tears to start dripping down his cheeks. Kaleb laughed quietly, brushing the tears away before kissing Nenne.
This kiss wasn’t at all like the gentle, tentative kisses they’d shared before. When Kaleb had kissed Nenne at the movie theatre he’d always held back. There was no holding back this time. As soon as Nenne moaned into Kaleb’s mouth, the kiss went hot and urgent, full of the sort of need that Nenne had always felt but had been unwilling to show.
“You want to marry me,” Nenne whispered once Kaleb let his lips go.
“Yes,” Kaleb agreed. His cheeks were red from the kissing but there was nothing but nervousness in his eyes.
“Oh. My. God, Kaleb!” Nenne hissed. “Me. You want to marry me. And you want me to be yours. Your what? Slave? Sub? Pet? Which? Oh my God!”
Kaleb started laughing. He caught Nenne’s hands, kissing his knuckles while smiling. “I was thinking pet. I don’t have the energy anymore for a 24/7 Master / slave relationship. And I don’t think you’d be terribly happy being a full-time sub either. You’ve basically been living as my pet already. Of course it’s up to you. I’ll be happy just to get to spend my life with you. We don’t have to do the lifestyle thing at all if you don’t want to.”
“Of course I want to!” Nenne huffed. “It’s you! I was planning on finding another Master as much like you as humanly possible if you decided you didn’t want to go this way. And yes, I know that I would have gotten a lot of comments but you make me happy, Kaleb. So very happy.”
“No, that’s definitely you,” Kaleb said.
His face lit up like the sun coming out from behind a cloud. Nenne giggled and looked at the jewelry case, starting to shake even worse than Kaleb had been a few minutes before. The collar was beautiful and the rings were perfect and Kaleb had been planning this for who knew how long and Nenne sniffled because he didn’t want to start crying again, not when they could go out and have fun together.
“Pet,” Nenne declared. “You have the sun ring, right?”
“Oh no,” Kaleb laughed. “You’re my sun and I’m your moon. Only appropriate since I’m the one going silver.”
“I like the silver!” Nenne laughed.
Kaleb had to hold Nenne’s hand to get the silver with a golden sun ring onto his finger. Nenne just barely managed to get Kaleb’s gold with a silver moon ring onto his hand without fumbling it and sending flying into the depths of the sofa cushions. When Kaleb wrapped the collar around Nenne’s neck it felt so different from Grant’s collar that he had to blink back tears again.
Kaleb’s collar was cool and slim, resting at the base of his neck with plenty of room for Nenne to breathe. The lock was so small that Nenne had to finger it just to realize it was there. When Grant had locked his collar around Nenne’s neck it had felt like being trapped, not that Nenne had admitted that for a long time.
This time being collared felt like freedom, like getting the best gift possible. Nenne wasn’t trapped. He was free and he had Kaleb by his side, protecting, teaching and loving him for all time. Another kiss lasted for at least half of forever before Kaleb pulled back and looked at the clock in the kitchen.
“Very late,” Kaleb chuckled.
“Oh lordy,” Nenne groaned. “Master Jack and Alice are going to think I abandoned them.”
“I ah, may have called and let them know I was going to ask you,” Kaleb admitted. He laughed when Nenne smacked his shoulder. “I didn’t want them to worry. I still remember that first night with Morgan.”
Nenne rolled his eyes, letting Kaleb pull him to his feet. “The phone call. I laughed for so long over that. Does Morgan know?”
Kaleb nodded, his cheeks going red when Nenne glared at him. “I told him I was thinking about it and he called Master Edward. I’ve gotten lectures for the last week about treating you right from both of them and half of Master Edward’s other students. You’ve gotten to be something of a favorite for everyone, Nenne. They’re all going to watch to make sure nothing goes wrong.”
That made Nenne sigh. He could see it. Ever since he’d started going to the clubs he’d gotten a lot of attention, almost all of it highly positive. Someday soon he was going to have to get Kaleb to tell him who else Master Edward had trained so that he could at least put faces to names with those watching Masters.
“Well, they can keep their noses out of our business for the most part,” Nenne declared. “Still want to go?”
“I want to fuck you silly,” Kaleb said, grinning when Nenne’s cheeks went hot from a fierce blush, “but I think I want to show you off more.”
Nenne giggled at that, nodding as he let Kaleb help him to his feet. He didn’t need the help but it was still nice and it let Nenne play with the moon ring on Kaleb’s finger. Kaleb let Nenne play with the ring all the way to the club. The moon was raised and embossed slightly, with little waves emanating from it and a tiny diamond embedded in it. The sun on Nenne’s ring had a big golden topaz that sparkled when Nenne moved his hand. The contrast between Nenne’s dark skin and the silver and gold of his ring made it striking.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to it,” Nenne commented as they gave their coats to the desk clerk who stared at Kaleb and then beamed at him.
“Eventually you will,” Kaleb said. “Probably not soon, granted, but eventually.”
“Nope, not happening,” Nenne said.
He wrapped an arm around Kaleb’s side, grinning at him. Kaleb ignored the stares he got from the security guards. When the health monitor by the door saw them, she squealed and clapped her hands. Nenne giggled as Kaleb ignored that too. As they went inside and a hush went over the lobby Kaleb ignored that, too, despite Nenne’s giggles and grins and the many, many stares directed their way.
“Food?” Kaleb asked.
“I could eat,” Nenne said. “I started reading that book you loaned me and got caught up so badly that I didn’t remember to eat. I almost forgot to get ready to come here.”
Kaleb’s hand was a little tight on his hip but Nenne didn’t care. He was with Kaleb. He was with Kaleb, engaged with, collared with. Every sort of ‘with’ that had ever mattered to Nenne and it was Kaleb who had given it to him. Or maybe it was Nenne who had slowly persuaded Kaleb that he truly did want it.
Alice’s squeal echoed from the rafters, breaking the hush with laughter and a sudden rush of conversation from all sides. Kaleb let Nenne go so that he could catch Alice when she ran over and then flung herself into his arms while laughing with delight. Nenne laughed and then squawked as Alice squirmed free of Kaleb’s arms to grab him and drag him down so that she could coo over his collar. When she saw the ring Alice’s squeal of joy made Nenne wince and groan.
“Alice, indoor voice,” Nenne protested. “That hurt my ears.”
“You have an engagement ring!” Alice said entirely too loudly and enthusiastically.
That set off a general rush of couples and triads to come and congratulate Kaleb and Nenne. Everyone was very careful not to mention why Kaleb had been gone for so long. They just welcomed him back, shook his hand and then congratulated Nenne. Pretty soon Nenne curled against Kaleb’s side, overwhelmed by the sheer level of attention they were getting. When Master Boles, the most powerful Master in the entire state, came over Nenne hid his face in Kaleb’s shoulder despite the way Kaleb and Master Boles chuckled.
“Good to see you back,” Master Boles said.
“It was time,” Kaleb said as he rubbed Nenne’s back. “Anything I should worry about?”
“Keep your boy away from Elshag,” Master Boles said as if that was a rule everyone ought to know, “and you should know that Todd’s here.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” Nenne said, lifting his face and then wincing at the sheer ferocity of Master Boles’ questioning look. The blond young sub standing behind him looked surprised. “I ah, talked things out with Master Todd. I doubt he’d cause a scene while I’m here.”
“Did you now?” Master Boles asked with such calculation that Nenne hid his face again. “Well, that doesn’t matter, I guess. Good luck and congratulations, Kaleb.”
“Thank you, John,” Kaleb replied. “Good luck to you, too.”
The way he said it made Nenne think that Kaleb’s wishes for luck had more to do with Master Boles’ long-running battle against Black than anything to do with the lifestyle but Nenne didn’t lift his head to ask until after Master Boles and his boy had moved on. Their discussion seemed to somehow signal that it was time to leave Kaleb and Nenne alone because everyone else drifted away other than Master Jack and the still giggling Alice.
Kaleb breathed a quiet sigh of relief once the crowd’s attention turned elsewhere. Nenne saw Kaleb look across the big room and then stiffened with him when he spotted Master Todd with two new slaves, identical twins with gags and leashes. Master Todd’s face was blank as he stared at the two of them but even at that distance Nenne could see the way he stared at the collar around Nenne’s neck. Kaleb raised his chin slightly, his expression going hard enough that Nenne poked him in the side. When Kaleb turned to look at Nenne his mouth was open to protest.
“No,” Nenne said.
“But…” Kaleb began and then stopped when Nenne shook his head.
“No. Not tonight.”
Nenne looked across the room at Master Todd and solemnly shook his head at him before making a shooing gesture at Master Todd. Startlement and then amusement went over Master Todd’s face. He grinned, bowed extravagantly towards Nenne and Kaleb and then turned away to another conversation with an air of ‘I see nothing, nothing at all.’
“Not tonight,” Nenne repeated as he smiled triumphantly at Kaleb.
Alice’s awed whistle was low enough not to demand that Nenne glare at her, as was Master Jack’s amused chuckle. Kaleb laughed and caught Nenne’s chin, pulling him close for a kiss that made Nenne decide that food was overrated, as were clothes, discussion and anything other than going upstairs to the play rooms.
“I love you,” Kaleb whispered.
“Love you too, Kaleb,” Nenne whispered. “Upstairs?”
“Well, you did say something about wanting to try a flogging,” Kaleb observed as if he would do it only because Nenne wanted it. His erection pressed against Nenne’s thigh, making the tone into a teasing lie. “It’s been a while but I think I could do that if you wanted.”
“Kaleb, I want everything with you,” Nenne said. He paused and thought about that. “Well, not orgies or whips. I don’t think I’d enjoy that. And I know I don’t want to wear those pony shoes. The bondage wear sounds fun but not those shoes. They look like they hurt!”
Kaleb’s laughter mixed with Master Jack’s. He started pulling Nenne towards the stairs, nodding politely when people smiled at the two of them as they got out of the way. Alice caught Nenne’s free hand, giggling when he grinned at her. Her other hand was in Master Jack’s hand, making them into a chain as they went up the stairs.
“Whatever you want, Nenne,” Kaleb said with enough happiness that Nenne felt like he floated up the stairs. “Whatever you want.”
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