Blood and Gin

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Chapter 8

Ross sat in the car, staring at Secret. He had parked outside the Club about an hour ago. Stephan had tried to get out, but Ross just pulled him into his lap. Stephan had settled instantly into his embrace. “Get some sleep first. I’ll wake you up,” Ross whispered into his hair, kissing the top of his head.

Stephan nodded, pressing his little face into the crook of Ross’s neck. Ross stroked his spine, easing the boy to sleep. Stephan soon relaxed his entire weight into Ross’s lap, his breathing growing slow and easy. Ross just sat there, arms looped around him. It had been hard to leave Elle and Jack with the stranger, the GPA. But he was sure that Elle could take him in a fight if the GPA tried anything. Besides, the boy had ruined his Dollar Store hoodie for them. Ross smiled, shaking his head.

The street had slowly lightened and the lights in Secret had steadily brightened. Patrons would ooze out of the shadows of the Club, done with their debauchery for the night.

Stephan’s phone suddenly went off, startling him awake. Mumbling sleepily, he pulled it out of his back pocket, and clicked accept. “Hello?” He murmured.

“Ahhh, baby. Did I wake you? I’m sorry, my love.”

Jasper’s velvet voice woke him up the rest of the way. His skin went cold. He looked up at Ross, who simply kept rubbing circles on his back as he stared at Secret. “Sorry, I was looking after Jack.”

“How is he?” The boredom in Jasper’s voice belied the question.

“Stable. Elle is with him. Ross is driving me back.” Stephan licked his lips, and felt Ross’s gold gaze on him.

“Ah, good. Come home soon, baby, I miss you,” Jasper crooned, sending chills along Stephan’s spine.

“I’ll be there soon,” Stephan promised softly, and heard the beep of the call ending. He looked up at Ross. “I have to go,” he whispered.

Ross looked down at him, and carefully, his warm, rough hands cradled Stephan’s face. He closed his eyes at the feeling. The little remnants of the adhesive from Ross’s boxing tape stuck gently to his skin, while Ross’s thumbs caressed his cheekbones.

“Be safe, okay?” Ross said softly, and Stephan opened his eyes.

Ross’s gaze was gentle, understanding. A lump formed in Stephan’s throat. He reached up, grasping Ross’s wrists. “I try,” he replied, closing his eyes.

Ross leaned forward and gently pressed a kiss against his brow, his eyelids, his nose. Finally, warm lips pressed against his, and Stephan sighed into the kiss. It was butterfly light and over too soon, but it did its purpose. Stephan’s shoulders relaxed, and he exhaled slowly.

He opened his eyes to look at Ross, who had pressed his forehead against Stephan’s, his eyes closed. They stayed like that for a long moment. Then Ross exhaled. “Do you want me to go in with you?”

“No, it’s okay. Jasper wouldn’t like it anyway.” Stephan eased off of Ross’s lap, going to open his door.

“I love you.”

Stephan glanced back at the soft words. He reached out, placing a hand on Ross’s cheek. “I know,” he replied, letting his lips curve into a smile.

Ross understood. He always did. He never asked for anything in return. He was always gentle, soft, careful. But Stephan was too broken. He had been shattered beyond repair. He had nothing left to give to Ross, so he gave nothing. It felt better than trying to force himself to give something he knew, deep down, he could never.

Ross kissed his wrist, and Stephan got out of the car. It was the GPA’s car, and was quite possibly the most luxurious car he’d ever been in. He hadn’t been paying attention last time, because Jack had been bleeding in his lap. But on the ride over, he had had time to explore all the little knobs and buttons while Ross watched him with a tiny half-smile that warmed Stephan’s skin.

He walked around the car, glancing both ways before crossing to the Club. His skin grew cold as he got closer. He had been Collected by West Haven when he was fifteen, three years ago. They had found him beaten and bloody in an alley. They had cleaned him, fed him, and when he could walk without coughing blood, they had sent him to Secret.

While Ross, Elle, and Jack were all in the Ring, Stephan was sent to the Club. Everything beautiful and pure was sent to the Club, to get stained, tarnished. Bought, sold. Stephan could still remember his first night. They had dressed him in black, to better highlight his pale, pale skin. The others on the floor, he later learned they called themselves Club Babies, were just as beautiful as he was. Everything in the Club was cloaked with mystery, fantasy.

One Club Baby had offered him a drink, to take the edge off. Stephan had declined it. Turning tricks on a velvet club couch couldn’t be much different than turning them in a dark alley. It just smelled better.

But he had been surprised. No one had ever touched him. From the moment Secret had opened for business, a man dressed in black had fetched him, and brought him upstairs. Apparently, the owner had seen him, and had wanted him. That was the first time he had met Jasper. That was how he became one of the lucky ones.

The Club Babies had whispered to him, afterwards. How lucky he was. Jasper never took a Pet. Stephan had merely smiled, the heavy ruby and gold collar around his neck. It was locked on. Only Jasper could remove it. He was free to move about the floor, flirting, teasing, but no one was allowed to touch him. Not with Jasper’s mark glittering around his neck.

What had surprised him was Jasper himself did not touch him. For three years, he was allowed to heal, his body slowly forgetting the trauma it had endured. But then he had turned eighteen, and Jasper had come to claim him with a vengeance.

Shaken from his reverie by the waft of perfume that greeted everyone who entered Secret, Stephan looked up. The doors opened silently, revealing Jasper. Three years had done nothing to dull his beauty, or his cruelty. His dark hair was honeyed by dye, his skin ageless and pale. He always dressed in dark colors, black, navy, emerald, burgundy. Everything about him was expensive. The only thing that belied his image of just another beautiful rich man were his eyes. They were golden in color, and colder than ice. Stephan suppressed a shiver as that coldness slid down his spine. Jasper’s gaze was always cold. They only warmed at the sight of pain. Of suffering. Then, the gold seemed to darken to a bloodlust hue, and his lips curved as he fed off the fear and pain.

Stephan stepped closer to Jasper, who opened his arms, enveloping him into his embrace. Stephan exhaled, then pressed his face into Jasper’s chest. He felt Jasper shift his body to his liking, and he quickly wrapped his arms around the other’s neck as Jasper lifted him into his arms. His legs wrapped around Jasper’s waist as Jasper’s hands caressed his back. Like Ross had minutes ago. But Jasper’s touch had none of the warmth Ross’s did. None of the love. No, Jasper touched him to possess him. Stephan knew that he was Jasper’s only so long as he was beautiful. The moment something marred his beauty, he’d be tossed aside in an instant.

Too often, he had thought about disfiguring himself. Jasper liked to cut him, to mark him as property. But some nights, after Jasper lay sated in the bed next to him, Stephan had looked at the knife, with its silver blade and onyx handle. Had wondered what would happen if he sliced his face. Would Jasper be angrier that he had harmed his property, or that he had broken his favorite toy?

“Baby, you’re so cold. Come, let’s go up to my room. Don’t go to school today, okay? Play with me. I missed you so much, my darling,” Jasper cooed into his ear, biting it softly.

Stephan simply nodded, turning his face to press it into Jasper’s neck. Like a good boy, he let his tongue run along Jasper’s skin, making the other murmur in pleasure, his grip tightening on Stephan’s body. Stephan continued his exploration of Jasper’s neck. As they walked by one of the lights on the wall, Stephan could see he had made a light mark on Jasper’s neck.

“Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” he whispered, loosening his hold on Jasper’s neck.

“Hmm?” Jasper asked, using his elbow to open a door. “Oh, that. Don’t worry my love. You alone are allowed to mark me. It shows that I am yours as you are mine, hmm?” He asked, smiling at Stephan.

He sat him gently on the bed, and straightened. He eased the coat off his shoulders, tossing it across the room. Stephan stood, his fingers tugging at Jasper’s tie. He pulled it off, dropping it onto the covers. The strip of silver cloth made a nice contrast to Jasper’s black sheets.

Jasper turned him, and he closed his eyes as Jasper’s fingers quickly undid the few remaining buttons on his shirt. The fabric was eased off his shoulders and Jasper’s arms went around him, his lips going to the crook of Stephan’s neck. He bit the skin viciously, rolling it between his teeth. The pain was nothing to Stephan now. He didn’t even flinch. He just sighed, tilting his head, letting Jasper do as he wished.

Jasper pulling his teeth off of his skin hurt, as did the sudden air on the deep bite. Stephan shuddered, then sighed again as Jasper’s warm tongue ran along the bite, soothing it. “Mmmm, you always taste so good, my little one. I missed you tonight.”

“I’m sorry. I was worried about Jack.” Stephan said, turning. He unbuttoned Jasper’s shirt, smoothing it off the other’s shoulders. He took Jasper’s hand, falling back onto the bed, pulling Jasper on top of him. Jasper propped himself over Stephan, smoothing back his black hair. Stephan eased his legs open, wrapping them around Jasper. He fixed Jasper with his softest gaze. He was never very good at sultry, but according to Jasper, there was nothing sexier than his gentled grey gaze.

“I forgive you, baby. I was impressed with him tonight. He performed well. I made a lot of money,” Jasper said, ducking to press a kiss on Stephan’s chest. “I like the touch of killing another District’s fighter. It made Eric so angry,” Jasper smiled against Stephan’s skin. Stephan lay quietly, stroking Jasper’s hair. “Let him know he’s earned a week off.”

“I will,” Stephan promised. His heart soared. He’d been so worried that Jack would have to fight too soon. But he realized that Jasper was a businessman first and foremost. He would not throw Jack away by pushing him to fight too early.

“Let’s not talk of that anymore, baby. Let me taste you,” Jasper whispered against his skin, and slowly began kissing his way down Stephan’s chest.

Stephan closed his eyes as he felt Jasper’s tongue against the multitude of scars he had placed on Stephan’s body. His body, once blemish free, was now gently scarred by Jasper’s ministrations. Jasper only ever cut deep enough to make Stephan gasp in pain. But he would cut and he would cut until the mark became permanent, after weeks, months, of excruciating torture. The scars excited Jasper. They let him know that Stephan was his to play with. That Stephan would never be with anyone else. That the shame of the scars was too great for Stephan to dare let anyone else see his body.

As he felt the sharp edge of the knife on his hip, reopening one that had recently scabbed, Stephan gasped, first in pain, then in response to Jasper’s tongue on him. He refused to think of it as pleasure. It was simply a reaction, a natural reaction to a stimulus. That was all.

He slipped his fingers into Jasper’s hair, closing his eyes against the pain as Jasper stroked the knife edge into his skin, as gentle as a kiss, all the while tasting Stephan’s skin. He exhaled. It would be over soon. But in the meantime, he thought of Ross. Of Ross’s gentle touch, his careful caress. Of the deep love in the other’s gaze that warmed his skin. He breathed as the warmth spread over him, blocking out the cold of the knife, of Jasper’s hands on his body. Warring with the warmth of Jasper’s mouth. That warmth was the only thing that made his life bearable.

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