Stray Master

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[Chapter Twenty One]

🔓🔎🗝

Scottish Translation -

Gobdaw - A twit, hasn’t got their shit together and never will.

mo chridhe - my heart

mo luran - my pretty boy

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The rest of the day Wednesday, after Ryan confessed to me, Lewis and I spent the rest of the day watching tv. Lewis even watched me paint and seemed happy enough to get a lesson in color blending and techniques, he even humored me in attempting to paint on a canvas. It didn’t turn out great, but his strengths aren’t in paint or art and I did my best to fix it. He said he loved it anyway. When Ryan came back he watched a horror movie with us, sat at the end of the couch while Lewis held me against his side. I felt guilty cuddling with Lewis when Ryan was so close and glancing at us every few minutes, felt like I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to, even though I know I have every right to be able to cuddle my date in my own home.

My ex-boyfriend never said a word until we went to bed, saying a simple ‘goodnight’. Lewis had merely grunted while I returned the exclamation. Ryan gave me a small smile before turning to lay down and cover himself with the thick blanket I always let him use because it’s the warmest. The Scotsman couldn’t stay all night as he had the morning shift the next day but Lewis had stayed to hum me to sleep and called himself on my phone, then he stayed on the line all the way home and into the morning. Lewis had told me to spend the day with Ryan and let him down easily, mentioning that he thought my friend was a ‘Nice boy, he is,’ and should get a painless rejection- or as pain-free as possible.

That’s the plan for the second day of December, Thursday. It’s my day off. Ryan and I had already agreed to go to the small dinner we both enjoy and get lunch then go to the pet store and play with all the cute animals. I’m looking forward to it, the only part I’m dreading is the conversation we need to have about what happened yesterday. It’s still slightly hard to believe, I thought all the feelings between us had died and was content with it that way. I never thought of dating Ryan again, only seeing him as a best friend. I knew we wouldn’t work out and I figured he knew it too, apparently not.

I had never even considered returning to him as a boyfriend. I loved him when we were together and no matter what, he’ll always be my first love and boyfriend. But, even if I did love him, we didn’t work out. It was sad when we broke up, yet we understood and both agreed on it. There were tears, I had gone for a long walk in the park to calm myself and go over our relationship and the wrongs I found in it. It was awkward for a while, however, we still bounced back and became close friends instead. He seemed happy with that, and so was I.

I can’t tell where it changed for him, he’s always been good at hiding feelings he wants to hide from me and this is the first time in a long time he’s been able to visit for so long. Maybe he had realized it while he was away or years ago, possibly when he saw another man all over me- quite literally. He never gave anything away besides his reaction to Lewis. Although I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did if he knew he loved me when he met Lewis, holding on so long until his apparent anger showed and he had to confront me- or tell me.

Lewis not beating Ryan up for it either is a good thing, I’m glad he didn’t see Ryan as a threat to our relationship or anything. He knew and didn’t do anything besides place subtle but-not-so subtle claims on me in front of him. Because he trusted me and he knew Ryan was too scared to make a bold claim or move. I’m proud he didn’t do anything and let my friend be the one to tell me, happy he’s not allowing his possessiveness to control him and that he’s learning from his past mistakes with Exes. If Ryan did try something on me around Lewis, I’m positive the Scotsman could control himself, and if not, I don’t he’d beat Ryan up- maybe punch really hard, but not beat.

What I’m surprised at is that CeCe didn’t tell me, she normally loves outing other secrets just to be an asshole. She had to have known because Ryan mentioned her when he was explaining himself to me for his behavior with Lewis. That’s most likely why she was mocking and glaring at him because he wouldn’t tell me. If that’s why, then why was she doing the same to Miss Parry? CeCe must be under some sear to not speak with me about it, otherwise, I’d be caught up by now. Makes me wonder what else I’m missing out on in the soap opera that is my life.

Lewis is already at the site when he calls to wake me up, he had let me sleep until noon since it’s my day off. I’m still half asleep and grumbling about the time and days offs and sleep when I answer the phone, instantly hearing the commotion of other workers and machines hard at work. I recognize the voice of Brian shouting to someone about a pile of steel pipes that had somehow gotten lost. Seán is there also, his laugh loud followed by a few muffled curses after a series of smacks. I assume Lewis or another worker slapped him for laughing so loud or in retaliation for mocking them.

Lewis firstly apologizes for the noise and tells me to get up and shower, following that with, “Put the jeans and top laying on the dresser on, picked ’hem special for your day with Ryan. Stop whinin now, ya’ll be fine gettin up.”

The clothes he speaks of are a big hoodie that I know is his and a worn-out pair of gray jeans, the outfit covers most of my skin and I shake my head fondly at the attempt to hide my body away from other men. I whine again just to spite him, “But Lewy!”

He laughs, “Nah, boy. Ya get goin. I’ll call ya when I get off, be a good lad today, ya’ll be tellin me tonight.”

“Okay, Lewy. Thank you. Please be careful and don’t hurt Seán, I don’t wanna worry about you both.” I blink myself awake as I walk across the hall to the bathroom and turn the shower on, hearing him scoff.

“Ah, Brian’s got ya on that, aye? Well, I did no such thing as break any machine I work on, ya hear. That Gobdaw is just messin with ya, I’ll make sure he gets a mighty fine smack for it.” Another smack is heard and this time it’s Lewis who curses someone to hell, all playfully.

I laugh at the commotion over the phone, agreeing simply to go along with Lewis. Teasingly, “Yes, Lewy. Of course, Lewy. Have a good day, Lewy.”

Lewis laughs again at my tone, “Ah, a bunch of jokers, that’s what ya are!”

Then he sincerely focuses, all playfulness gone for a moment. “Serious, Tommy Boy, let that boy down easy. I may not like the crush he has, but he’s your friend and a kind boy. Pay attention ta what you say and do, ya might lead him on without knowin. Tell me how it goes tonight, I’ll be picking ya up to stay at mine. I’ll drop ya off at work in the mornin.”

I nod, though he can’t see me. Knowing he’s right and I might accidentally lead Ryan on without knowing I am, certain things I could do or say might make him think it’s a real date and I don’t want to do that, as it’s mean and horrible to get his hopes up like that. I do feel a shot of excitement go through me at the thought of spending the night at Lewis’s apartment, it’ll be the first time I see it since he started dating and I’ve been wondering what environment Lewis lives in.

“Yeah, I’ll keep an eye on myself. I’ll tell him at the dinner, explain.”

Lewis hums, “Good lad. Gotta go now, take that shower and go enjoy yourself, see ya tonight, mo chridhe.”

“Bye! See you, Lewy!”

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Ryan and I walk to the dinner, it’s colder than it was because winter is finally here and snow is due. We talk about anything and everything that isn’t our relationship or Lewis, Miss Parry is also off-topic as well. We laugh though, and we have a great time. It feels good to be able to hang out with him, only us, again like it was when he last visited. The dread I feel for the impending conversation is lurking in the back of my mind and I hate that I may hurt him with how I don’t return his wish to date again. Ryan deserves someone that wants him for what he can give to the relationship and to love him for who he is, and I can’t match my needs to his in a relationship even if I did love him in that way again.

It’ll be awkward again for a while I’m sure, but hopefully, when he returns to school and his life at home, he’ll be able to find someone that has needs like his and he’ll move on from me. Next time he visits, I’m wishing we’ll be okay and be the great friends we are. I just don’t want this to end us because I do love him, he’ll forever have a piece of my heart, but we both know we won’t work.

The dinner is close to the park I met Lewis in for our first date, a block or so away, and it’s been a go-to for us since high school. It’s old-fashioned with an old jukebox and red linings on the counter and walls, the booths are bright red while the tile floors are gray and red. The dinner itself isn’t a building, rather it’s two connected old train carts that was refurbished as a dinner, the outside is painted a shiny silver but the rust and wear of the carts show through and the sliding doors have been tightly sealed to make a smaller door for the dinner at the top of some small stairs and a wheelchair ramp. It’s a unique place and a historic building for the city since it’s been sitting where it’s at for over a hundred years.

When we walk in we’re met with the smell of bacon and eggs and toast, a waitress in an apron that’s wrapped around her waist smiles and shows us a table in the corner of the cart by a big square window. She leaves us with menus and a promise to return in a few minutes to check on us. Ryan sits across from me, having a tiny happy smile on his face and I feel the guilt creep in that I’m about to ruin that. The only thing that makes me go through with it is the thought that I found what I need in Lewis, and Ryan will find what he needs in another person as well. Someone will be able to be his submissive and partner and be the happiest with him because everyone is getting what they need. It’s a good thought and I’m sad we didn’t work out, but this way he finds someone who deserves him.

I wait until we both order, him a cheeseburger and fries with a sprite and myself a plate of fries and water because I’m not very hungry. On;y when the waitress goes to get the food do I take a breath and pick at my nails as I glance up at Ryan, my friend is staring at me in anticipation. “Ryan, about yesterday..”

He bobs his head a bit, lips turning in before curving into another sad smile. “If you don’t want to try again, Tom, it is fine. I get it.”

I shake my head, reaching over to grip his hand. “Ryan, I love you, I’ll always do. But we didn’t work and have different needs for that kind of relationship. I need to give up most, if not all control, and you- you’re not that kind of Dominant. Dating again, it’d just hurt us both.”

My friend sighs, grabbing a hold of my hand and squeezing. “Yeah, I know you’re right. I just- guess I wanted to try.”

“You deserve someone who gets what you need as a dominant and boyfriend, they’re out there somewhere. Keep searching and please, move on from me before you hurt yourself more. I want to be friends still, I love having you in my life.”

He nods, and we pause to allow the waitress to set the food down and give her a quick ‘thanks’ before he hesitantly asks. “,,, And Lewis, he gives you what you need?”

I need to swallow first, as I stuffed my face with fries to try to avoid the rest of the conversation. Giving a small tilt of my head to consider my words before nodding, “He’s an all-day dominant, not only during certain times or something. I asked him if he was okay doing the stuff he does for me, he said he’s done it before and that he likes it. We agreed he wouldn’t be ‘Master’ just yet, wait until we both are ready. But he’ll dominate me as I asked for him too.”

“You really like him, don’t you? The way you act with him, it’s like you’re on a honeymoon.” He smiles, though he picks his burger up so quickly I nearly miss the tilt of his lips.

Blush flames on my cheeks and ears as I realize Lewis and I do lose ourselves to each other sometimes, not caring who is around. Lewis always seems lost on me, constantly nuzzling against me and hugging, picking me up like it’s normal. I’m his priority when we’re together and I love it. I wonder if that will fade as time goes on or if he’ll always be like this, I don’t mind, I feel loved and cared for when does it.

Ryan smirks at the color on my face, and to stop him from commenting, I ask a more serious question. “Are you sure you wanna talk about Lewis? We can talk about something else if you want.”

He just shakes his head, “If I’m going to get over you, I’m going to need to learn you’re happy with him. Besides, I’m your friend, it’s my job to know about the hug, scary dude you’re dating.”

I consider him for a second, looking for any lies or signs he doesn’t want to talk about Lewis, but find none. Then I sigh and shrug, “Lewis is great. He’s funny, always makes me feel loved and cared for. He’s been pushing me to eat healthier and set a few rules to keep the apartment clean and to take showers every morning and night. I feel much better than I did before I met him.”

“Yeah, I noticed the schedule he has you on. So, is he living with you? Or does he just stay sometimes?”

I wonder why Ryan asks that for a whole of a half a second when I realize that Lewis stays at my apartment more than he does his recently. Not that I care, waking up with him is the best, all cuddled in his warmth. Falling asleep to his humming and feeling it against my back or front, it’s the most soothing thing in the world. But, I understand where Ryan thought that. Lewis had probably been staying the night since he arrived and last night is the only night I remember him leaving.

Shaking my head, I swallow another bite of fry. “No, he lives in an apartment. He just stays over when he can or his work schedule allows him to. I prefer him staying.”

Halfway through his burger, he takes a drink of his soda as he makes a noise to acknowledge what I said. “Him leaving in the middle of the night is normal then?”

Giggling, I tilt my head from side to side. “Sometimes, I guess. He hums me to sleep, has been since the beginning and when I’m asleep, he’ll call his phone from mine. He stays on the line until the next morning.”

Ryan raises his eyebrows at that, clearly not expecting a big, bear-like man such as Lewis to do something like that. He blinks and shrugs, “Huh. I was starting to think Miss Parry was spouting bullshit, but I didn’t know it was so much though.”

As soon as he says it, he goes wide-eyed and stuffs his mouth with the rest of the burger as if that would stop me from questioning him. I thought we were over Miss Parry said this or Miss Parry did that, what could she have possibly done now? Another lie or another action that could hurt Lewis. I’m quickly getting sick of dealing with it.

“What does that mean?” Ryan keeps chewing for longer than necessary, chin moving obnoxiously. “Ryan! What does that mean?”

He sighs heavily through his nose, finally swallowing. He avoids my eyes and messes with the fries on his plate. “Miss Parry called me when she found out about Lewis, she knew I loved you and was hoping that we’d get together again. She convinced me to go along with this plan to get Lewis out of the picture. I didn’t want to at first, but she started saying how he was controlling and he’d eventually hurt you, that we’d be helping you. I knew when I got here though that wasn’t the case, yet she kept on and on until I agreed to keep going with whatever plan she came up with. When we all talked, CeCe found out and kept bothering us about it, saying we tell you or she does. I’m done with this, I swear. I’m going back to school and dating, I’ll get over you and we’ll both be happy. I’m sorry, Tom. I really am.”

I’m not as shocked as I should be, a part of me saying I should have expected it. But it still hurts. I’m not mad at Ryan, he went along because he thought he could help protect me at first and he’s been strung along by Miss Parry, bribed by being able to date me again. He’s another victim in Miss Parrys’ schemes, in my book at least. His apology sounded sincere and he had even said he’d let me be happy at the talk we had with Miss Parry and CeCe. He’s shown he’s sorry and I believe him.

Grabbing his hand again, I smile at him, “It’s okay, Ryan. I forgive you. You just wanted to protect me and was strung along with her. I’m not mad at you. Thanks for telling me.”

His shoulder sags in relief, and he grins. “Least I could do. You deserve to be happy, and I was part of the problem preventing that.”

“You deserve to be happy too, Ryan.”

🔓🔎🗝

As soon as Ryan and I walk through the door to my apartment, my phone rings. Ryan grins at me and pokes at my cheek when I blush at Lewis’s name on the screen. We both smell like puppies and kittens, the pet store had allowed us to play with the animals, help the workers feed, and exercise them. I have fur all over Lewis’s hoodie and the jeans, but I don’t care. I love animals and baby animals are the best. I just hope Lewis doesn’t mind.

Ryan gestures to the living room and I nod as I answer the phone, immediately hearing the loud truck that Lewis drives. “Hi, Lewy!”

He laughs, “Mo luran! How was ya day?”

I sit next to Ryan on the couch, slapping his hand away when he goes to poke my red ear. “Oh, it was fun! We had a great time! The puppies were really cute and the baby bunnies jumped all over me.”

Lewis hums, “How’d the boy take it?”

I glance at Ryan, knowing he heard the question as my volume is always up loud for the late-night conversations Lewis and I have over the phone. He just smiles and gives me a thumbs up. “He took it really well. Wants me to be happy and I explained that you do that. He even asked about you! Can’t say he thinks you’re scary now!”

“Ah, well, can’t have that now, can we? I’ll give him a good ol’ fright when I get there a few minutes. Ya packed up?”

Ryan pales and I laugh as I jump up and run to my room, “I’ll pack now, Lewy!”

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