A Shot of Fear
Changeling Press and Universal: https://www.changelingpress.com/a-shot-of-fear-b-2952(Live links to all markets are available here.)
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-shot-of-fear-lou-sylvre/1134864037
A Dom learns to love while Scotland Yard claims his time and a sociopath lays a trap for his sub.
Jackie Vasquez knows he needs to submit to a Dom he can trust—just as much as he needs to manage his own life. He found the right Dom in Brian Harrison, and then romance beckoned them both beyond bindings and safewords. They take the first steps toward a life together in London, where Brian is pursuing his dream career at Scotland Yard, and Jackie is working toward a master’s degree. Their private hours deep in the night brim with both heat and beauty as Brian’s artful vision for bondage makes a masterwork out of Jackie, body and soul.
But time together becomes scarce as a series of horrific gaslight crimes keeps Brian at work and out of reach for Jackie much of the time. Though Jackie is faithful, he isn’t the type to sit and wait for his lover’s attentions. His self-assured ways and his geocaching hobby lead him to a dangerous discovery—all is not as it seems at the University. Trapped in the Gaslighter’s web, he’ll need to use every trick he knows to stay calm and buy time. But will Brian unravel the knot of mystery in time to save the man he loves?
It wasn’t too many days before Jackie realized his place in the life of Brian the Scotland Yard Detective Constable accurately set the tone for their relationship. He couldn’t say he would have chosen that type of existence, but if it was part of the package to be with Brian, he’d make it work. Once he could move into his apartment, he got busy settling in, and shortly after found himself up to his neck in preliminaries and basics for his graduate study. At that point Brian’s always-on-call status didn’t matter quite so much—Jackie wasn’t available most of the time, anyway.
He had a key to Brian’s apartment, though, and over the next few weeks he went there some nights, climbed into Brian’s bed, and slept until Brian came in. Usually, Brian woke him up with kisses, but this time Jackie woke to the smell of leather and the feel of silky ropes teasing his skin.
He opened his eyes, to find Brian standing by the bed, fully dressed, looking very serious. “Sir,” Jackie said.
“Yes, Sir. Red and yellow.”
“Use them if you need to, starting now.”
Jackie had left his long, thick hair loose, and now Brian wrapped it around his fist and pulled Jackie to a sitting position. He tilted Jackie’s head back, then bent to kiss him, hard, tongue and teeth fully involved. “Out of the bed,” he said when the kiss was done, keeping his grip on Jackie’s hair as he complied.
“Kneel, right here, facing away from the bed.”
Jackie did as told, doing his best to assume the perfect position, knees wide, posture proud, head up, but eyes demure. And his cock had already gone more than half-hard.
Brian stepped away and came back with—of all things—Jackie’s hairbrush. When he showed it to his sub, Jackie had all he could do not show his surprise. A frisson of fear snaked through him—his father had beat him with a hairbrush once. But he kept his position and neutral expression and hoped that he wouldn’t end up safewording already.
Then Brian sat behind him on the bed, long legs straddling his back, and began to… yes, brush his hair. It felt good, but Jackie found himself feeling a bit unsettled.
Perhaps Brian heard an odd sound in his breathing or felt his tension somehow, because he asked, “Something to say, baby?”
“Sir, yes please?”
“I… why are you brushing my hair, Sir?”
Brian yanked hard enough on a hank of hair to pull his head back and tilt his face up. “Look at me.”
When Jackie raised his gaze to meet Brian’s eyes, he saw something there he didn’t expect—sadness, perhaps? Brian kissed him, this time slow and sweet, still pulling at his hair enough to hurt if he tried to pull back.
“Because,” Brian said after he ended the kiss, “it’s beautiful. You’re beautiful, and at the moment it pleases me to enjoy your beauty..” He repositioned Jackie’s head, so that Jackie was looking down at the floor beneath his knees, and started working his hair with his hands. “And because I’m going to incorporate your braid into my binding.
One morning after four hours sleep at home, he headed back to work feeling just as tired as before he closed his eyes, and bummed that even Marley refused to forgive him for his neglect. He was prepared to hate everything about work that day, but then he was sent to investigate a crime scene—Detective-in-Charge for the first time. Senior Inspector Petra Shiells, the small, female, British version of Luki Vasquez, had told him it would be a good place for him to practice fieldwork.
“Our troublesome string of crimes doesn’t involve murder,” she said. “Not yet, at least, so they’re not quite as critical as some others on our roster. The press hasn’t caught wind, so the cases aren’t high profile either. Besides, we’re spread thin right now. All that means I can’t assign my tried and proven officers out there. I’ll have to send you, but I think you’ve given me reason to hope for the best.” She handed him a stack of thin file folders. “Simple enough scene. Call just came in so everything and everybody is still there—except the criminal, of course. Upton, Green Street, Pakistani immigrants found something that scared them in a transit shelter. Hocus-pocus, or the like.”
Inspector Shiells looked him in the eye for the first time and said. “The only reason we have a call on this incident is that it resembles the other Gaslighter crimes. You know from the data end of things that means it seems to have no purpose but to scare people. I question that—I think there’s more going on than meets the eye. In my experience, people who like to scare others usually like to harm others, too. As good as this gaslighting arse is at knowing just what will scare his targets the most, we’d best make our catch before it escalates. So, listen to me, detective….”
She paused, staring him down, and Brian was pretty sure her purpose was to make him feel like he was about a foot shorter than her, instead of the other way around. It was all he could do to keep his gaze steady in return.
When she finally spoke, she added only four words. “Don’t screw this up.”
The professor slowly went through her office, ferreting things that she wanted to be sure and keep with her in her summer travels. She went each year to the Netherlands, where she’d been bred and born, and endured the entire first seventeen years of her life. She thoroughly loathed her elder brother, who totally deserved his paralyzed, weak body, as she saw it. She’d had a little something to do with putting him in that wheelchair, and she did not regret it.
She admitted, however, that it was largely to him that she owed her interest in the human psyche, especially in the element of fear. She had endured for years, reluctant to rise in the morning for fear of what new torture he’d arranged for her. To her everlasting shame she’d been so cowed at one time that she would piss her bed rather than get out of it and have him confront her. But one glorious day, cold hatred had arisen in her, replacing both mindless anger and fear, freeing her mind. In an instant she’d seen how precariously he leaned on the bannister. The wooden posts had been just as rotten as the rest of the rundown house their parents had abandoned them to. It had taken one quick shove with her ill-clad foot to break it and topple him.
At the time, she’d been disappointed that he hadn’t died, but she soon realized that his helplessness rendered her revenge even sweeter than his death would have. She provided for him now, hired a nurse and a housekeeper, and kept him in that same, horrid building. Two months out of each year, in the heat of summer, she went “home.” She paid the help vacation pay and thanked them profusely for taking such good care of him. She sincerely did feel grateful, for if they hadn’t kept him alive and built up his health through the ten months they tended to him, she would not have been able to pursue her research, using brother dear as her favorite guinea pig.
Oh, how beautifully he cries!
And don’t forget where Jackie and Brian’s story began: A Shot of J&B: https://www.changelingpress.com/a-shot-of-j-b-vasquez-inc-1-b-2946?series_id=576