|Pleasures of Paradise by Lynn Kelling|
To celebrate their two year anniversary, Gabriel Hunter and Darrek Grealey escape to a tropical island in the Florida Keys catering only to Masters and slaves of the BDSM community. The types of gifts Darrek and Gabriel give each other during the trip are vastly different, testing them both even as they fall deeper in love, rediscovering the pleasures of the power dynamic which first caused them to fall in love. As the end of their trip draws near, Gabriel plans a surprise for Darrek unlike anything he’s previously faced. Darrek is forced to choose between his instinct to doubt himself and the chance to trust Gabriel in ways he’s never dreamed possible. (M/M)
Never having been very good at masking his thoughts, Darrek tenses. His apprehension only grows when Gabriel seems to zero in on it, his plump, suckable lips curling into a wicked grin as he chuckles. Darrek continues eating, but begins to feel more like a squirrel fearfully guarding its nut. As soon as the plate is clean and the last drop of delicious coffee is sliding down Darrek’s throat, Gabriel moves around the counter, walking from the kitchen into their living space.
The bedroom adjoins the sitting area, and Darrek dutifully follows Gabriel when he walks over to the bed. There seems to be something laying on the duvet, but covered by a black scarf. With his heart pounding, Darrek’s eyes grow wider when Gabriel pulls the scarf away and says, “I want you to wear something special for me today. I ordered this weeks ago. It just came in this morning when you were on your run.”
On the bed, laid out so nicely, is a shimmery, sleek, baby-pink-hued, little bathing bikini with an equally small, shear ruffled mini-skirt attached. Darrek is not even sure he can fit his junk into it, let alone his ass. Maybe that’s the point. But even worse is the body glitter, pink lipstick and purple eyeliner sitting there beside the suit. And worst of all….
Gabriel picks up two hair elastics the same color as the suit, twirling them on a finger. “I’m going to put these in your hair. Pigtails,” Gabriel beams.
“Tundra,” Darrek blurts.
The safeword hangs for a moment in the air between them. For Darrek, it came out instinctively. Still, he’s a little surprised to hear himself use it.
Slowly, Gabriel nods. He sets down the elastics and loses the smile, growing serious instead as he considers Darrek’s body language and facial expression. “Okay,” Gabriel says, “Can you talk to me about what you’re feeling? This is too much?”
“Yes,” Darrek says quickly, without really thinking about that answer either.
“Why? Help me understand where you’re coming from. You know my job is to challenge you in ways that I think you’ll enjoy and will be rewarding in the end, so can you tell me what it is about this that’s over the line? Just because… I didn’t think this would be a trigger for you.”
After thinking about it for a second, Darrek replies, “I’m not sure why.”
“Is it just the pigtails or the whole outfit?” Gabriel asks, frowning and planting his hands on his hips. He looks over the things he’d set out like he’s trying to find the one thing that’s triggering Darrek, but Darrek’s not sure it’s that simple. Even just thinking about the reasons why he might be uncomfortable makes him uncomfortable.
He decides that maybe Gabriel is right, and talking through it might help him understand where the reflexive reaction to say no is coming from.
“It makes me uncomfortable,” Darrek starts to say, feeling like he’s tripping over the words.
“What does?” Gabriel asks leadingly. “Uncomfortable in what way?”
“Um, I guess because it would be really embarrassing to be seen like that.”
“Why would it be really embarrassing?”
Darrek can feel it, like every time he takes another step closer to the reason why he feels the way he feels, Gabriel finds the exact, right spot to push to get Darrek to go a little farther forward. It’s strange, because he’s fairly sure it’s a path he’d never be able to walk on his own, without his Master’s guidance. He’d have just avoided it entirely. But now that he’s on the path, he’s not sure how to get off of it, or if he even wants to anymore.