Playing With Spencer by Izaia Winter
Envy wasn’t a particularly pleasant emotion to feel. Especially not when it was directed at someone you loved. It had started small, like something the size of a seed, something so little I could easily pretend it wasn’t there. I’d barely even felt it. Then it had sent out roots and had grown a leaf or two. I’d told myself it was still nothing and covered it up with a smile. Hidden away in the darkest parts of me, it had thrived and bloomed. I’d ignored it, and now its vines touched every single aspect of my life. I’d left it alone for so long it subtly tinged every thought and feeling I had with its malignant color.
I loved my friends. I honestly did, but it was getting harder and harder to be around them. To see them when they both possessed the one thing I desperately wanted.
Marshall had been the first. He’d met his little Ollie, his sunshine, at the grocery store of all places—in the baby aisle next to the pacifiers no less. For someone who’d had a pointed aversion to BDSM, he’d taken surprisingly well to being the Daddy of a crazy-aunt having, veggie-pizza eating, all-things-yellow-loving little. Who was I kidding? Marshall was a natural. He took care of Ollie like he was made for it.
And then there was Nolan. His perfect submissive had literally fallen into his lap. Well, not literally, but Quentin’s resume had crossed his desk, and Nolan had been smart enough to hire him. Nolan had crushed hard on the guy but had kept his hands to himself. Something about not dating in the workplace. That had all gone out the window the second he’d seen Quentin in his skimpy server-boy outfit at the club one night. Now the two of them were off living together in domestic, kinky bliss.
I was happy for them both. I was. And envious. So. Fucking. Envious.
I was alone, and it was my own fault. I knew it. I never went after who I really wanted, just who I thought I could have, who I thought had a chance of playing the way I wanted to. My needs were a tangled mess, and I couldn’t blame any submissive for not satisfying every one of them. That I ignored the kind of submissives that called to me the most didn’t help.
My sexuality was like a Venn diagram composed of twenty different circles, and I stood in the tiny center where they all overlapped, looking for someone standing there with me. That shouldn’t have been that much of a problem, but there were two circles I craved above all others. The first was so bright it glittered, and the second, well, the second really had no business touching the first.
To me, littles were everything sweet and innocent and good about BDSM. They had their own unique charm, and I was far from immune. They were cuddles on the couch and Sunday morning cartoons. They were bath time at eight and bedtime at nine because storytime always ran late. They were big boy touches when they were good and spankings and time in the corner when they’d been naughty (because littles were never bad).
What they weren’t was the kind of play where safewords were optional, or in my case, heavily frowned upon. And while I loved everything about littles, there were days I needed to ride that edge. To be in complete control. Littles already gave up so much to their Daddies; I couldn’t ask one to give up their safeword and consent as well.
And roleplay, gods, littles were the absolute best.
I dropped my head and groaned as one of my favorite fantasies played out in my head, but instead of one of my safe play partners, I pictured a little waiting for me at home. I’d been a very bad Daddy. I’d broken the rules and had been locked up away from my little boy for a whole year (obviously having committed some benign white-collar crime). I was on my way home, a box of letters sitting next to me. My boy had been naughty. Teasing me with how much he missed me. How much he needed Daddy to come home and take care of him. Oh, I was going to take care of him alright. That dark curl of need I couldn’t resist swirled in my belly.
“I don’t know what that puzzle did to you, but I apologize to you on its behalf.”
“What?” I lifted my head and turned to find a young man standing next to me with a box gripped tightly in his hands.
Fuck, he was cute—my kryptonite. Standing somewhere around five-six, his blueish-gray eyes twinkled as he looked up at me through thick lashes and locks of unruly, dark brown hair that had flopped over onto his face. His kissable lips were upturned in a teasing smile. He wore a pair of well-loved, light teal sneakers, dark skinny jeans that showed off his legs to perfection, and a white, slightly baggy t-shirt with the logo of some grunge band from the ’90s that was fading from too many trips through the washing machine.
Still trapped in my fantasy, my brain replaced the faceless boy I’d been picturing with the one standing in front of me, and my cock went from ‘hi, nice to meet you’ to ‘I’m so hard I could fuck you for hours’ in seconds.
His smile faltered as he hugged his puzzle to his chest. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you or anything. I’ll leave you alone.”
“No, you’re fine,” I said, giving him my most charming smile before he could walk away. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I was lost in thought and not paying attention. What were you saying?”
With a short laugh, he jerked his chin toward the puzzle in my hands. “You were glaring at it. I don’t know what that puzzle did to deserve it, but I apologized on behalf of it… and puzzle lovers everywhere. You can’t judge all puzzles by one bad one.”
Laughing, I glanced down at the puzzle that had been the recipient of my brooding thoughts. “Unfortunately, this puzzle has done nothing to me. It’s just a casualty. I’m looking for a present,” I explained. “It’s my best friend’s partner’s birthday tomorrow. I mean, he’s my friend, too, so I could have just said it was my friend’s birthday, but—never mind. Anyway, Oliver’s gotten into puzzles recently, so I thought I would do my part to enable him.”
“Ah, an enabler. The best kind of friend to have.”
“Exactly!” I said, pointing at him in enthusiastic agreement. “You should tell that to Marshall. He says I spoil his boyfriend, but I’m like, no, I don’t. I’m… just a… a giving person?”
He giggled. “A giving person?”
“Well, I can’t say I’m an enabler, now can I? That implies I’m spoiling!” I defended.
“And we can’t have that,” he replied.
“No, we can’t,” I agreed as I turned the box around to face him. “Now, you said before that you’re a puzzle lover. Since you’re the expert between the two of us, what do you think?”
“It’s umm… nice?”
“You hate it.” I turned and put the box back on the shelf.
“It wasn’t bad!” he said as he rushed forward, a guilty expression taking over his face.
“But it wasn’t good either.”
“Just kind of generic,” he admitted.
I looked back at the box and studied the small picture on the side. He was right, of course. The picturesque Italian village didn’t scream Oliver to me.
“How do you know Oliver doesn’t love Italy?” I asked to be contrary. “Or that he’s not an architect?”
“Is he?” he asked, looking up at me with an arched brow. “An architect that loves Italy?”
“Well then, I’m sure we can find something better.” He tapped a finger to his lips as he perused the shelf. “What does Oliver actually like?”
“Let’s see. Umm. Sharks, he likes sharks.”
“Okay,” he said with a grin. “Now we’re getting somewhere. I know I saw some cool ocean puzzles earlier.”
“Oh, and he’s absolutely obsessed with the color yellow.” I sent him a teasing smile. “Or maybe something that says, ‘I’m a five-year-old trapped in a man’s body, and I want that one.’”
“Donuts,” he said as he glanced back at me, his face serious as if we were solving some world problem.
“Donuts,” he repeated as he pulled a puzzle off the shelf and handed it over. “You can’t go wrong with donuts.”
Bemused, I stared down at the glossy box he’d handed me. Row after row of deliciously decorated donuts covered the surface. Brightly colored with sprinkles and glazes, the puzzle was perfect for a little.
“Ooh, and look at this one.” He held up a box as he returned to my side. “It glows in the dark,” he said as he sidled up to me and showed me the puzzle. It was an illustrated ocean scene with a shark alongside a variety of other sea creatures and coral.
I pretended to study the box while secretly enjoying the feel of him pressed up next to me. His hair was soft where it grazed against my bare upper arm, and it smelled so sweet. Like apples. He smelled like sweet, tart apples, and I loved apples. I wanted to bite and see if he tasted as good as he smelled.
“It’s perfect.” Taking it from him, I added it to my stack.
“You know, they’re having a buy two, get one free sale, right?” He grinned and pointed to the large orange sign taped to the shelves. Signs I had ignored because who reads signs when they’re shopping?
“I’m starting to get the feeling you’re an enabler, too.” Eyeing the puzzle he’d been carrying around with him, I plucked it from his arms and placed it on top of Oliver’s presents. “I’ll just get this one.”
“Hey, but that one’s mine.” When he reached to take it back, I twisted my body and blocked his attempts to retrieve it. “I don’t… why would you….” He looked lost and confused, and for some inexplicable reason, that look on his face hit me like a punch to the gut. It wasn’t right.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” I explained. “For helping me with Oliver’s present. If you hadn’t swooped in, he would have gotten that awful Italian one, and….” I glanced back at the shelves and picked another box a random. “And that one,” I said, pointing at what I thought was a particularly ugly bird puzzle.
“You mean you’re not….” He stopped, his smile making a quick return.
“Not what?” I looked down at the puzzles in my hands and tried to put myself in his shoes. It took me a second, but it finally clicked. “Did you think I was going to give your puzzle to Oliver?”
“Nooo…” Yes, his body language screamed. I could see it in the way his cheeks turned pink, the hunched over shoulders as if braced for ridicule, and his hands which played with the hem of his shirt. He grimaced, realizing he wasn’t fooling me in the slightest. “Sorry.”
“It’s nothing.” Sensing our time together was drawing to a close, I felt something inside my chest well up in resistance. I couldn’t let him get away. There was just something about him that called to me. “Have coffee with me.”
He blinked his pretty eyes up at me. “What?”
Following the insistant voice in my head that wouldn’t shut up—the same voice that had had me sitting patiently while my first real boyfriend had haltingly told me of his desire to submit—I repeated my imperious demand with a bit more cajoling in my tone, “Have coffee with me.”
“Now?” he squeaked.
I looked around the mostly empty game store. “Do you have somewhere else to be?”
He shook his head, an irresistible smile coming to his lips. “No, not really,” he replied softly. “Just to be clear, are you asking me out?”
“Yes, I am,” I said, thankful the signs I’d been picking up from him weren’t wrong. My intuition said the boy was gay, but I’d been wrong before. “Is that all right with you?”
“It is,” he said as he lifted his chin, confidence infused in his very being.
“Excellent.” I felt relief rush through me as the fear he was taken by someone else washed away. A man like him—cute, self-assured, and friendly—didn’t stay single for long.
“I’m Turner, by the way. Turner Keene,” he said, holding his hand out. “And you are?”
I shook the hand he offered and held it a little longer than necessary. “Spencer Howell.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Spencer.”
“There’s a coffee shop a couple of doors down,” I said as I took a step back and allowed him to proceed to the register first. “My treat.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Placing the puzzles on the counter, I finally got a good look at the one he’d picked out for himself. It was a mishmash of fantasy landscapes and cute monsters illustrated in pinks and purples with hints of greens and teals and pops of yellow. It was adorable and—because my mind refused to let it go—kind of little-ish. Maybe if I couldn’t allow myself to have a little of my own, someone with little tendencies would do.
After handing my card over to the tired and clearly overworked cashier, I took Turner’s puzzle from the pile and passed it over into his eager hands, bewitched by the way he hugged it to his chest. Yes, he definitely had the mannerisms and attitudes that reminded me of a little. If he had submissive impulses, well, that would just be the icing on the cake.
Thanking him when he held the door open for me, I gestured toward my car. The flashing of my lights as I hit my key fob directed him to the right one. “Let me just put these away.”
“Sure.” He did a little skip off the curb, and I felt my body instantly react to that innocent little step. It caught me off guard. I’d never reacted so instantly to any man like I was reacting to Turner.
“Do you want to put yours away, too?” I asked as I popped my trunk and placed Oliver’s presents safely away.
“Oh,” he said, looking down at his puzzle. “No, I can carry it. I walked here. I live in the neighborhood,” he added, using his puzzle to point in what I assumed was the direction of his house.
I looked over and noticed the houses at the other end of the shopping center that started the surrounding residential area. “That must be nice,” I said, turning toward the coffee shop.
“It can be,” Turner replied as he walked with me. “Then the game store opened up recently and well….” He lifted his puzzle and shrugged. “I might have a bit of a problem.”
I laughed when he threw a grin my way. “Might?”
“I bought some dice last week,” he said, lowering his brows as a confused expression settled over his countenance. “I didn’t even need them. I just thought they looked pretty, and they were on sale. Now they’re in a bowl on my coffee table with my collection of rocks.”
“You collect rocks?”
“Sometimes. You’re going to think I’m a huge nerd for saying this, but I love going to natural history museums. And you know how places like that always have those huge bins of rocks in the giftshop that your parents never let you buy because they’re just rocks. Well, I always buy myself one every time I go, and now I have a very pretty bowl of rocks.”
“And I bet you’re very proud of your pretty bowl of rocks,” I said, holding the door open for him.
“I am.” He lifted his chin and sailed past me toward the counter.
“What would you like?” I asked as I took my place in line with him.
“Hmmm… can I get a hot chocolate with caramel sauce, please?”
I looked down into his pleading eyes and felt a shaft of heat spike down my belly straight to my cock. The submissive way he’d asked for his drink stroked along that needy, dominant part of me I kept hidden.
“One hot chocolate with caramel sauce coming right up. You don’t like coffee?” I asked as he turned toward the display case. I looked over his shoulder to see what sweet treat had caught his attention.
Turner screwed up his face as he shook his head. “No. I don’t like the way it tastes. I never have. It’s too bitter for me. I know it’s the thing you’re supposed to drink when you become an adult, but it’s gross. No offense.”
“None taken. I can’t live without the stuff,” I said as we moved with the line. “I’m a complete grouch in the morning without it.” I winked, hoping the idea of him seeing me in the morning was something he was open to experiencing.
Ignoring his blush as he caught the direction of my thoughts, I stepped up to the counter and ordered my black coffee and Turner’s hot chocolate. Then I pointed toward the display case. “And can I get two chocolate croissants?”
I smiled at the little happy dance Turner performed as the barista popped our treats into the microwave and knew I’d made the right decision. Taking our food and drinks, I followed Turner toward an empty table. I took a bite of my croissant, almost coming in my pants as Turner moaned around his treat. He did it so effortlessly.
“So, what do you do?” I asked as we settled in, starting with the usual first date questions to distract myself from wanting to drag him home.
“I own a boutique,” he said simply, but his blush said there was more to his answer than what he was saying.
“What kind of boutique?”
“Umm, the usual kind. We sell clothing and some jewelry and… some specialty candies and… umm…. some other luxury items and toys.” He ended with a relieved smile as if he’d successfully navigated through a minefield.
I let him have it for a moment. “Aren’t you kind of young for that?”
He cocked his head and smirked. “And how old do you think I am?”
That was a fucking trick question if I’d ever heard one, but I wasn’t one to back down from a challenge. Studying Turner’s face, he looked like he was fresh out of high school, but the smirk he wore said he wasn’t much younger than my thirty-odd years. I was guessing he was somewhere around twenty-six but lowballed just for fun.
“I’m gonna say twenty-three.”
He laughed as he rolled his eyes at me. “You’re off by four years.”
I gasped in fake shock as I clutched my chest. “Shit. You’re nineteen! What’s your secret?” I teased. “Maybe I should leave. I think you might be a little too young for me.”
He reached over and pushed at my arm as he giggled, the little lights that danced in his eyes making my joke worth it. “Stop it. I’m twenty-seven. And as for my shop, it’s not a very glamorous story. I got into a car accident several years ago. It was late. The other guy was still working after way too much overtime, and he fell asleep at the wheel. He was fine, but I woke up in an intensive care unit a week later. The company the guy worked for settled out of court.” He shrugged. “They paid my medical bills and left me with a nice chunk of change and some fancy new scars. I knew the money wouldn’t last long, so I looked into investing it or starting a business. Did a little of both, and here I am.”
“No, that wasn’t a very glamorous story,” I said, thinking about the things he’d glossed over. Spending a week in an ICU was no easy thing. I took a sip of my coffee, studied his bright eyes, and wondered how close he’d come to dying.
“What about you?” he asked, pulling me out of my thoughts as he took a drink of his hot chocolate. “What do you do?”
“I’m a psychologist,” I said, then waited for the question everyone always asked.
Turner did not disappoint. “Are you psychologizing me right now?” He wiggled his fingers as if what I did was some mystical secret power.
“No,” I replied with a laugh at his choice of words. “I specialize in families, focusing on how people interact with each other and interpersonal relationships. And I try not to diagnose everyone around me unless it’s glaringly obvious. If I did that, I wouldn’t have much time for other things.”
“And how are we interacting with each other?” he asked coyly.
Taking a drink of my coffee, I let my foot touch his under the table. “I would say we’re communicating very well for two people on a first date.”
Turner’s smile was pleased as he pressed his foot back against mine. “I’m glad. Now, tell me something about yourself. You already know I like puzzles, pretty rocks, and hot chocolate. It’s your turn to spill the beans.”
“Hey, you know I like coffee,” I said, pointing at my mostly empty cup.
Turner sighed even as he smiled. “Okay, that counts as one. I want two more.”
Leaning back in my chair, I tilted my head and thought about what he would be interested in knowing. “I like camping.”
“Really?” He practically wiggled in excitement. “You mean like in a tent out in the woods with a fire and smores and spooky stories?”
“Mm-hmm. I don’t go as often as I’d like,” I confessed, “but yeah, I like to do all that stuff. Plus, some hiking. Maybe some swimming if there’s a lake or something nearby that allows it. Every couple of months, I like to pick a state park, take a nice drive, and spend the weekend there. My friends come with me sometimes, but usually it’s just me.”
Turner cocked his head back and stared off into the distance. “You know what? I don’t think I’ve ever been camping.”
“Does a tent in your grandma’s backyard count?”
“I’m going to have to say no to that one.”
“Then never,” he said with a shrug. “My parents are city people.”
“That’s a shame. I might have to remedy that.”
Turner’s smile was a little dreamy as he stared at me from across the table. “It sounds like a lot of fun.”
“We might have to work our way up to that date,” I said, pleased he was interested in seeing me again.
“Okay, I want to know one more thing about you.” Turner sat up straight a fixed me with a stern stare.
“I bake,” I said, then laughed when his eyes widened with shocked delight. I had been so right in college when I’d decided to learn how to bake. Men loved a man that could fix them dessert.
Turner clutched the edges of the small table we sat at and leaned into me. “Like cakes and brownies and—”
“And chocolate cheesecake with a raspberry swirl and confetti cookies with carnalized white chocolate and—”
“Please, stop,” he said, interrupting me. “I can’t take anymore.”
Feeling naughty, I bent toward him and whispered, “I also make bread.”
Turner whimpered. “Now you’re just being mean.”
“If I promise to bring you something for our next date, will you forgive me?” I asked, fluttering my eyelashes at him.
“Like those confetti cookies you were just talking about?”
“Deal.” Glancing down when his phone chimed, Turner’s face paled as he scrambled to answer the text he’d received. “Oh no.”
“Is everything okay?” I asked as I wrestled down my need to comfort him and find whatever it was that had made him look so worried and eliminate it. “Turner?”
“I’m sorry,” he said as he typed out a quick reply. “I completely forgot a friend was coming over to my house today. Simon is already there and asking where I am.”
“I’m sure he’ll understand if you’re late,” I said soothingly.
“It’s not that,” he said, cramming the last bite of his croissant into his mouth. “Simon alone in my house is generally not a good idea. He’ll touch my stuff and make a mess. Oh, I left a package of cookies on the counter. I bet they’re already gone,” he whispered mournfully. “I was really looking forward to those.”
Smothering a laugh, I pulled out my phone, opened my contacts, and made a new one for Turner before he could escape and I lost him forever. “Here,” I said as I slid my phone across the table. “Your number?”
“Right.” Bending over my phone, he entered his digits and checked it twice. “There.”
Taking it back, I looked over his contact, tapped on the profile picture and then the camera app, and lifted my phone. “Smile,” I said as I snapped a candid shot of him, knowing it was weird but doing it anyway.
Shrugging sheepishly, I turned my phone around and showed him my contacts. “It’s a little pet peeve of mine. I like all my contacts to have pictures.”
Frankly, I was terrible at remembering people’s names, and the photos helped. Faces were easy. Opening my camera roll, I selected the goofy photo I’d sent to Marshall that morning of myself with the chocolate cake I’d made for Oliver’s birthday party and sent it to Turner. “And now you have mine. It’s only fair.”
Not watching as he saved it and my number into his phone, I quickly typed out a message to him.
Me: So, about that second date. How soon is too soon? I don’t want to seem too desperate.
Turner’s phone chimed, and he giggled as he silently replied.
Turner: I’m free this Saturday.
He sent me a secret little smile over the top of his phone.
Me: What? No way. Me, too! Does noon sound good?
Turner: It sounds perfect.
Me: Dress casually.
After picking up his puzzle from the floor at his feet, Turner stood and tucked his phone into his back pocket. Rising with him, I stacked up our dirty dishes to return them to the counter. We stood there for a second, eyeing each other awkwardly. Did we shake hands? Hug? A kiss? I knew what I wanted to do.
“I’ll see you Saturday,” I said tenderly as he fidgeted indecisively next to me.
With a sudden burst of energy, Turner placed a hand on my shoulder for balance as he lifted himself on his toes and brushed a quick, chaste kiss against my cheek. My skin tingled at the delicate brush of his lips. I fought the urge to crush him to me and take his mouth. I knew he’d taste sweet and addictive like the chocolate he’d been drinking.
“Saturday,” he whispered before I could get my hands on him, and then he was out the door.