Trulli, Madly, Deeply by J.J. Harper

1

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ETHAN

“That was wonderful, thank you, Daddy.” Johnny smiled blissfully. We walked out of one of the playrooms, my arm around his waist, and made our way back to the table. We’d been seeing each other for a few weeks now, and it was fun, more than I’d thought it would be. I wouldn’t call it a relationship, but when we were both here, we liked to play. Johnny was a great little. Even though he wasn’t what I craved, he was cute and playful. Today he’d been a bit of a brat, which meant he’d wanted a spanking.

“You’re a little pest. I’m glad you enjoyed it.” I ran my hand down his soft cheek, then kissed his equally soft lips.

“I’m going to feel you for a while.” He grinned, stroking down my chest to my dick and giving it a squeeze through my black jeans.

I pinned him with a stern look. “Behave, brat, or you’ll be getting another spanking.”

As we reached our table, I sat down and pulled Johnny onto my lap. He squirmed as his tender arse rubbed against his tight navy shorts. “Feel better now?” Luke asked us with a grin on his face.

“Don’t be mean, Daddy.” Mattie, Luke’s little, smacked his hand on Luke’s arm.

“Thank you, Mattie. I don’t know how you put up with your Daddy.” I winked at him, which made him giggle. Johnny joined him.

“Daddy gives such good spankings.” He gazed at me adoringly.

“You’re my good boy, little one.” I kissed the tip of his nose.

Luke smiled at us. “We were talking about a holiday. Have you thought of going away this year?”

“I haven’t thought of anything but work lately. I’ve got so much on my plate I don’t know my arse from my elbow.” I scrubbed my hand down my face. “I’ve hardly had time to think. I’m not sure what to do this year.”

“How about a Daddies and littles break? There’s been a post on Cuffd, talking about holidays just for us. They’ve organised destinations all over the world. We’ve been looking, haven’t we, baby?” Mattie nodded, then rummaged around for his binkie. Luke handed it to Mattie, who popped it into his mouth and went back to running his fingers through the hairs on Luke’s chest.

“Really?” I perked up at that idea. “What do you think, baby?”

Johnny’s eyes widened. I was surprised too. Had we reached that level of holidaying together yet? He bit on his lip, and a frown marred his smooth forehead. “Maybe.”

“Have a think, Johnny. It could be fun. It doesn’t have to be any more serious than what we have going on now. But somewhere a bit warmer than here.” The more I thought about it, the less I was sure it was a good idea. We hadn’t taken this—whatever we had—anywhere outside the club.

As if by unspoken agreement, we didn’t talk about it anymore. Instead, Luke and I discussed the latest FA match. But the mood had shifted, and not ten minutes later, Johnny said good night. I kissed him thoroughly, then let him go.

“Well, that went down like a lead balloon. I’m sorry, Ethan. I thought you were more than simply hooking up. You’ve played with him here for the best part of a month.”

“Yeah, I thought we were getting somewhere. We’ve messaged each other on WhatsApp a couple of times and have met up here in the week too.” I’ve found he’s a temperamental little and brattier than I like. Is a Daddy really what he wants? Maybe a Daddy Dom is more his scene. “I think it could be fun. I’ll have a look at Cuffd when I get home.”

The cab ride home was silent, allowing my mind to wander back to Luke’s suggestion of a holiday. Was I ready to take Johnny with me? A whole week with each other was a long time when we’ve only played together. He didn’t seem too enthusiastic about it either. The driver announcing our arrival interrupted my thoughts. I paid him, exited, and trudged up the steps.

After I locked up, I went straight up the stairs to my bathroom. After a hot shower, which relaxed me a little, I got into bed, although it was earlier than usual. The clock on my side table read 11:49. No way would I be able to sleep, so I grabbed my iPad and brought up the Cuffd app.

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It had been a long time since I had a holiday. It looked like a mixed bag of destinations from tropical islands to quaint B & Bs. They all had so much to offer. I’d have to persuade Johnny that this would be fun. We weren’t forever partners, but a week in the sun could be fun.

I wasn’t the archetypal Daddy at five eight, and although I kept myself fit, I was never going to be buff. I’d only ever seen one man fit my criteria perfectly, and that was over three years ago. I’d watched one scene with an older little and his younger, smaller Daddy, and that image had seared in my mind. The way the little had regressed into his younger self as his Daddy put him in his nappy and dressed him had struck a cord in me, and I knew that was what I’d been searching for. I’d wanted that ever since. Finding one had been hard, in fact, nigh on impossible. Now I had almost become resigned not to have my heart’s desire. I couldn’t keep my need to be someone’s carer, the Daddy, locked up, which was why I had been spending time with Johnny.

I wasn’t great boyfriend material—my job as a manager in a call centre kicked my arse and meant I often had to work night shifts—but I wanted to be with someone. I wanted what Luke and Mattie had, someone forever. Maybe now was the time to take stock of my life. My job paid well, but I didn’t love it. I could take my business management skills to any company. As I browsed through the pictures of French castles and Swiss chalets, I mulled it over. What if I contacted a recruitment agency on Monday? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Decision made, I moved to close the app down, but a picture caught my attention. I scrolled it upwards so it was in the middle of the screen. Brilliant white and quirky-looking villas shone brightly against a cerulean sky. It was idyllic. Even the name was romantic: Puglia, Italia.

ROWAN

As the buildings inspector drove away, I stood motionless on the stone driveway until the large wooden electric gates closed behind him. I was finally done with builders, town officials, insurance legislation, and now inspectors. The Trulli Cupido was finished and mine to do with as I wished. Three years in the making, but now what? What would I actually do with the place?

Behind me, a cork popped from a bottle. Drew! Of course he would be opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Yes, the moment deserved it, but it was still a bittersweet one.

“Rowan, stop moping and get your arse over here,” Drew called out. For a best friend, he was incredibly bossy.

“Yes, dear,” I said, knowing it would annoy him. “You’re starting early.” I chuckled when I reached him on the patio by the pool.

“Rubbish. You’re late.” He stared at me for a long second, then handed me one of the tall, elegant flutes he had expertly filled with my favourite rosé champagne. “Your Taittinger, sir.” When I took it from him, he smiled. “Be happy, Rowan. It’s time to start over.”

“I am happy.” I took a sip, the delicious strawberry flavours bursting on my tongue. After five years, I should be over my grief, my loss, but pain like that wasn’t something I could switch off. It had dulled to a distant ache, one that only throbbed in the middle of the darkest nights, but it was still in my heart. I looked at my surroundings and sighed. This place had healed me. It had given me focus for three long years, and every minute part of it was mine, the land and the vista. I gazed over the dry-stone wall that ended the gardens of the trulli and into the well-maintained and productive olive groves that under the scorching heat still thrived. The men and women who worked there wouldn’t be back until it was time to harvest in October. I loved being a part of that, and after three years, they had accepted me and taught me the traditional ways of collecting the olives.

The tension in my chest eased, and I drew in a long breath as the late afternoon sun warmed me through. I was happy. I hadn’t said the words simply to placate Drew. It was true. I took another sip of the celebratory drink and turned back to him. “I really am happy now. Closure is a real thing, and I’ve found it.”

“I’m glad,” he replied easily. He was my best friend, my confidant, but unfortunately for both of us, not my lover. We wanted different things, things that were incompatible for us, but it had never interfered with our friendship. “Do you want to look over the bookings tonight or leave them until the morning? We have a week to make sure everything is in place.”

“Tomorrow. We took a risk accepting them before we’d completed the buildings.” This time I turned to look at the round buildings with conical roofs. I’d been lucky to find a plot of land that had a collection of the traditional homes. When I’d bought them, I was deemed a fool. They had been dilapidated, filthy, the roof of one half-collapsed. Weeds and shrubs had overgrown the garden. But after three years of TLC, I had three small self-contained houses, now painted a bright, crisp white, with their own private patios behind them. The fronts faced the large patio with sun loungers around the pool, and a couple of simple gazebos provided some shade.

I’d deliberated over the communal area, unsure of whether I wanted to share my space, but I had a private trullo off the wing of the main building I used as my own. The other two bedrooms had private bathrooms but shared the communal living space with space for littles to play, but I’d also created two smaller playrooms for more personal scenes. It was late May now, and the crazy amount of money I’d paid to ensure the builders would be finished was worth it.

“We were right to make an adult-only holiday,” Drew said.

“I know.” We had both agreed on that. The thought of having to make everything child-safe hadn’t appealed to us. “I think it’s going to be a great summer.”

“And who knows? The perfect man could step through the gates.” He grinned, ever the optimist.

“For you or for me?” The chances of me finding another perfect man for me were slim to none. Fat chance or no chance, as Marcus would have said.

“Perhaps we’ll both get lucky.”

“The article has proved popular. The website took thousands of hits. And the bookings are filling up quickly. The guests love the idea of meet-and-greets, as well as joint and private playtimes. You’ve developed a wonderful concept, Rowan.”