“Well.” Mr. MacDiarmad considered Leander. Leander, in turn, fought with panic. He was not getting sent back to that place. He wasn’t! He’d… fuck, he’d grovel if he had to.
“I see my daughter was right.”
It took Leander a moment to process the words — and the rueful tone. “I’m not broken. Sir.”
“No. No, I don’t think you are. But I do think that I might be screwing up… first things first. Leander, do not injure my daughter during sexual situations — with the one caveat to all of your orders that you may slap her and-or bruise her in removing her if she tries to push anything on you that you don’t want. All right?”
Leander felt tension leaving his shoulders. “Thank you, sir.”
“You will, at your leisure, come to me if or when you feel that you no longer need that order. I’d rather keep your orders light, to give you as much maneuverability as possible.”
Maneuverability didn’t really work well with stay within forty feet of my daughter at all times, but Leander wasn’t in a position to argue. “All right, sir.”
“Now.” Mr. MacDiarmad shifted down from his seat to the floor, studied Leander’s face – what was he looking for? Why was he on the ground? – and grabbed a cushion, which he shoved under himself with no ceremony at all. He looked at Leander again – Leander was doing his best to look blank; better to not be caught having an opinion he wasn’t allowed – and nodded to himself. He set his hands palm-up on his knees. “Contact seems hard for you, so I’ll keep it minimal. Finger-tip touches.” Leander must have made some sort of expression, because Mr. MacDiarmad snorted lightly. “Look, I am not going to do anything even a nun could find risque, but when’s the last time a Keeper – an Owner – gave you nonviolent physical touch?”
Leander blinked. “I…” He sorted through the question.
Mr. MacDiarmid snorted. “Right. So, those who are Kept need contact from their Owners. By denying you that, they were giving you the psychological equivalent of malnutrition. So we’ll start small. Put your finger tips on mine.”
With something embarrassingly like relief, Leander obeyed the very clear order. It was… touch. Weird, and he had to struggle not to snatch his hands away.
“Good.” Mr. MacDiarmid smiled at him. Leander twitched and braced himself.
His Owner raised an eyebrow at him. “You don’t like praise.”
“I don’t like the way it’s always a two-edged sword. Sir.”
“I’ll keep this in mind. So… hrm. You can ask me anything you want, and I won’t punish you in any way, and I’ll do my best to answer.”
Leander could’ve cursed. If he got one question, that was a stupid one to waste it on.
“Because you don’t like praise and I want you getting the touch you need to be a positive experience.” Mr. MacDiarmid’s smile was lopsided and strange. “Damn, this is going to be odd. Next question?”
So he did get more than one. Leander gave the next one a little more thought. The man’s fae Name? His Change? Either might tell him something about his Owner. His business? How he’d gotten rich?
“Anything, really. “
“Why the sex shop? I mean…”
“I mean, ” he fumbled, “you heard I was there, sure, but you said I wasn’t the first you’d bought there, and you had a contact there looking for, uh, me. So… why a sex-slave shop?”
Mr. MacDiarmid’s throat-clearing was definitely embarrassed. Leander wondered if he ought to apologize.
He’d been told he could ask anything. So he – he wasn’t going to apologize. Not yet, at least.
“Yeah, I set myself up for that one.” He cleared his throat again. “So when I was younger… my wife had just left me. So not all that much younger, but I’m going to claim youth and inexperience anyway.” he ducked his head and sighed. “Or idiocy. Youth and idiocy seem to be about right. I was lonely, I was — well, horny — and a friend of mine told me that there was a place that connected fae with needs with other fae who were willing, interested, and had more desire to kneel than to make their own way in the world.”
Leander gave him a long dry look. “Not that place.”
“Some of the people they sell are actually all of those things. Maybe even as many as fifty percent.” Mr. MacDiarmid held up both hands. “I haven’t taken a survey, per se, but you’re not the second person I’ve bought there, either, despite my daughter’s certainty that I can’t find my way out of a paper bag with both hands and a map.”
Leander snorted despite himself, then ducked his head, feeling guilty.
Mr. MacDiarmid’s hand landed in his hair and he froze, gone from guilty to panicked in a heartbeat. “Easy. She has a point, and I’m not going to be annoyed by you having opinions about me. Even unflattering ones. Having them vocally in front of, say, a business associate of mine or a woman or man I was seeking to bring home — would probably irritate me, but we’re not setting this up thus that you’re going to be in a position to do that, so it’s not going to be an issue.”
Leander twitched but didn’t say anything. What was he supposed to say to that, anyway?