After a near-fatal accident, Logan Walker seeks help to control the compulsive blood fetish that almost cost his submissive's life. Help happens to be in the form of an athletic, smart psychologist by the name of Dr. Kasper Bromley. Kasper, though, soon finds himself swept up in the fantasies Logan came to him to control. Reluctantly throwing his ethics to the wind, Kasper submits himself to Logan, gambling his career, his future, and his heart on this intriguing man and the lifestyle he offers. But when Kasper's desires outpace Logan's, the young doctor is swept down into a whirlpool of sex and sadism that even Logan's love may not be enough to rescue him from.
"The heightened emotion and longing that both men feel was intense and I was helplessly drawn into that magnetic attraction that the two feel for each other, even as they know that professionalism and propriety dictate that they should deny the attraction.... By the end of the book I felt like I knew them intimately and I was so captivated by them that I rejoiced when circumstances brought them together." -- 5 Stars from Well Read
"The most beautiful aspect of this novel are the characters, Logan and Kasper.... [T]he authors gave these characters the care that they deserved, and because of that I felt for them and cared about their growth.... I never felt that the trust I had freely given to the authors in reading about this subject matter was betrayed.... Highly recommended." -- 4.75 Stars from Cole at JesseWave Reviews
"Catalyst features characters who are fractured and flawed but who are still charismatic enough to intrigue the reader. Their personalities unfold over the course of the novel as they each deal with compulsions which are so strong that they might be called addictions.... Ms. Armstrong and Ms. Piet incorporate strong emotion throughout this novel—pain, humiliation, anger (lots of anger) and sadness—and they present it in a manner that make the heroes dilemmas mean something to the reader.... Witnessing their change, their growth, their rise and fall is nothing less than fascinating. Catalyst is dark and intriguing and quite well done." -- 4.5 Stars from BookWenches
"Catalyst was a nice change of pace. And it made me think.... The plot was interesting with parts of it not being predictable.... Character development was exceptionally well done." -- 4 Stars from BDSM Book Reviews
"Catalyst is a hardcore BDSM story filled with tension and emotion. The characters are flawed, human, and very complex. The drama of their relationship, the arguments, the rock bottom, and then the slow road to recovery is simply fascinating. There are no simple, easy answers to the questions asked and that is the most engaging aspect of the story. The twists keep you guessing about what will happen, just how far the story will take you." -- 4 Stars from Kassa Reviews
The man across from Logan smiled. "You told my secretary that you'd been having distracting thoughts?" His hands were folded in his lap, a gesture Logan knew was meant to be inviting and non-threatening. "How long have they been distracting you?"
The atmosphere of the room was both clinical and undeniably soothing to Logan. He wasn't sure what did it, the color of the walls, the furnishings, or simply Dr. Bromley's serene presence across from him, but his eyes had instantly been drawn to the other man. Kasper was younger than he had expected his new psychologist to be, blond with blue eyes and a smile that seemed to immediately put him at ease. His nervous habits of chewing at his lower lip and picking at his fingernails suddenly didn't seem as overwhelming, for which he was grateful.
He wasn't sure how to begin, though he knew he had come here to speak. All the little scripts he'd written in his mind were suddenly too far away to grasp, and he let out a steadying breath. "A long time," he replied, looking down at his hands. "A really long time, if you count more than the last couple weeks when they've been unbearable. Maybe I've always had them. I don't know, but now that I've tried to ignore them, they seem all the more distracting."
"Sometimes when we want to forget things, those things become nearly impossible to forget." Kasper tilted his head, his eyes firmly on Logan. "Do you think these thoughts are destructive?"
Logan chuckled, though there was little mirth in the sound, and his dark blue eyes darted up momentarily to meet Kasper's. "What do you consider 'destructive'?"
"Do you want to cause you or someone else harm?"
Despite the comfort of the room, Logan fought not to bite his lip as he closed his eyes, a shiver running through him. "I want them to bleed. I make myself bleed. I threw away all my sterile razors to try and stop, but it just made me think about scissors and the knives in my kitchen..." His hands began to fidget as they had while he had sat in the waiting room before his appointment.
Kasper remained calm, his face a perfect reflection of unruffled serenity. "You wish to kill people? Kill yourself?"
Logan's eyes shot open wide as he shook his head. "No!"
"Then why would you want to see people bleed?"
Clenching his jaw, Logan hesitated. After a few terrifying moments of silence, he admitted his dark desire. "I want to drink their blood."
Kasper's eyebrow raised at that, betraying the sense of calm. "Drink their blood?" He scribbled on his pad, which made Logan uncomfortable. What could he be writing? Goth vamp wannabe? Sick little bastard? "Why?" the doctor asked, drawing Logan out of his thoughts.
Logan tried to ignore the rush of desire that the question inspired, but couldn't repress a shiver, his voice deepening ever so slightly. "Because it..." His voice faded for a moment as he searched for the right words. "It makes me feel in control. What's the word? Empowered. It turns me on like nothing else."
Logan watched Kasper make another notation on the pad. "I see. And this is disrupting your life?"
"I can't stop thinking about it!" Logan exclaimed, speaking quickly, as if some tenuous hold on keeping his thoughts inside had snapped. "I thought I would try to cut back a bit, wean myself off, you know? It hasn't worked. Nothing works! I had to turn off my cable TV because I was always watching those surgeries on the Health Channel or the late-night news. I've started thinking of ways to accidentally hurt myself, just so I can—" Logan clamped his mouth shut, finally regaining control of his tongue.
Kasper leaned forward in his chair a little, his eyes steady, and Logan knew the slip had not gone unnoticed. "So you can what, Logan?"
Logan eyed the psychologist, an almost dangerous glint to his blue gaze. "Sure you wanna know?"
"Of course." Kasper nodded and smiled that same insufferably reassuring smile.
Logan released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Reaching down, he pulled back the long sleeve of his shirt, exposing the skin of his left forearm, which was littered with small scars and a single cut that was obviously newer than the others. "So I can jack myself off as I suck at the wound."
Kasper at least had the decency to try to hide his surprise, but Logan could tell he'd struck a nerve. "And you do this every time?" Kasper asked, still obviously reeling.
A smirk nearly unfurled on Logan's face. Part of him took some sort of sick satisfaction in the other man's shock. Another part, though, despaired at seeing the expression, anticipating something negative would come from it. "Every time I jack off or every time I drink blood?"
After a moment of silence, Kasper said, "Both, if you don't mind my asking, Logan."
Logan shifted in his seat, lacing his fingers together to keep them from picking at one another. He would get them bleeding, given half a chance. "I get hard every time I drink blood. Sometimes the sight of it, or even just the thought—" He cut himself off, shaking his head to clear it, though it wasn't completely effective. "I can jack off without it, but it's always better when I cut and bleed."
Kasper nodded. "Have you had lovers who indulged this desire with you?"
Logan raised a dark eyebrow at him. "Some submissives in the BDSM scene will do anything."
Kasper smiled. "That does not tell me if any of your lasting relationship incorporated this large part of your sexual desires."
Logan clenched his jaw, remaining silent for several minutes. It almost infuriated him, how the doctor waited patiently, offering him the perfect non-verbal cues to encourage him, but he eventually relented with a sigh. "I had a boyfriend outside of scenes once. He was so freaked out when I asked to cut him that he threatened to charge me with assault."
"I take it you've not asked since?"
"No," Logan whispered, shaking his head. His eyes were drawn to Kasper's hand scribbling down notes he couldn't see. He wanted to know what was written about him, wanted to know what was wrong with him and how to fix it.
Kasper made several more notes, which only made Logan more nervous. "What made you decide to speak with me? What happened to make you decide help was necessary?" he finally asked, his gaze rising from his pad.
"I–" Logan hesitated, unable to bring his eyes up from the rug beneath his feet. "My sub, he..." Silence fell between them for a few moments, but Kasper just calmly waited for him to speak at his own pace. A tremor took hold of his hands, and he felt tears pricking at his eyes. "I nearly killed him." Even speaking that truth made the tremor worse, a sign of just how severely shaken he still was by the incident. "I... cut too deeply... opened up a larger artery than I meant. I didn't realize it until after I fucked him. When I couldn't stop the bleeding, I– He was in the hospital for a few days."
Kasper set aside his pad and leaned forward, clasping his hands between his parted knees. "And you feel immense guilt," he stated.
Logan stood suddenly, his eyes fearful, and walked around to the other side of the loveseat, putting it between him and Dr. Bromley. He needed the distance, as well as room to pace away his nervous energy. "Of course I do. I nearly killed him! What happens next time I get carried away? The trust was broken. He'll never bottom for me again. No one will. And even if they would, I shouldn't..."
Kasper's voice was louder than before, enough to break through Logan's agitation. "It is common for such compulsions to surface in early childhood. Tell me about your upbringing, Logan."
The change in their discussion was a bit of a shock, but Logan latched onto it, wanting to forget the motivation for his visit and simply get on with the being fixed. "What do you want to know? I was born and raised in Toronto. My parents divorced before I can remember, so my mom worked as much as she could from home while raising me to make up the difference from the checks we'd get from my dad."
"Did you maintain a relationship with your father?"
"Do birthday cards count?" Logan countered flatly.
Kasper sat back and crossed his legs once again. "What was your relationship with your mother like?"
"Close, I guess. Close enough. She cared." It was a distinction Logan was sure to make between his parents. As his thoughts were redirected, he stopped pacing and eventually sat back down. "She did her best, came to school plays and band competitions, that sort of stuff."
"It's difficult to be a single parent," Kasper said with a nod. "Were you prone to getting hurt growing up?"
Logan frowned as he thought back. "I was sick a lot at first. I got held back in elementary school because I caught mono and was out of it for a few months. I was clumsy as a kid. That's why my mom suggested I start band. She thought learning music and rhythm would help."
"Many children are clumsy. They can wind up with scrapes and bruises well into their teenage years." Kasper paused, and then abruptly asked, "When was the first time you felt compelled to drink blood, Logan?"
The suddenness of the question caught Logan off guard, but made him think. He realized he was biting his lip in concentration, and quickly clenched his jaw again to stop himself. "My mom enrolled me in a swimming class because it was free and kept me busy instead of sitting at home by myself." The barest hint of a smile twitched at his lower lip. "I fucked my first boyfriend in one of the shower stalls in the locker room there. It was both of our first times, and I was biting at his neck. He seemed to really love it, so I bit deeper, and all of a sudden, I tasted blood. He came screaming, and I followed. I'd never tasted blood like that before, and it was... amazing."
"That really isn't a compulsion," Kasper murmured, tapping his lips with his pen. Logan wanted to laugh—the doctor almost sounded disappointed! "When did it become something you used to enhance your own arousal? Or even to ignite your arousal?"
"Well... it couldn't have been more than a couple weeks after that when I cut myself while masturbating. I remembered how hot it had made me feel with Ty, and thought I'd give it a try on my own. I wasn't disappointed."
"Had you been thinking about it between the two encounters?"
"How could I not?" Logan asked with a lopsided expression somewhere between amusement and sparking desire. Even thoughts of the way it had made him come back then added to his internal conflict now. It made him want blood again, just as he had wanted it constantly over the last two weeks.
Kasper smirked. "I see. And you began to cut yourself regularly?"
"Yeah... I creeped out one of my friends by showing him. He thought I was crazy and reacted so badly that I knew I'd keep it to myself after that."
"Was masturbation always a part of those instances?"
"When I would cut?" Logan asked, and, when Kasper nodded, he continued. "Yeah, pretty much. I didn't always come, but it always made me hard."
"How often do you masturbate with blood now?"
"Four times a week, maybe? Sometimes more..."
Kasper blinked at that. "Sometimes more?"
Something in Kasper's expression made Logan retreat a bit, and he grew defensive. "It isn't like I slice open my veins four times a week. We're usually talking finger pricks here, okay? A fucking diabetic does that three times a day. I just do it when I touch myself. Plus, I've only done it once in the last two weeks." He had tried so hard not to draw blood the few times he had masturbated following the incident with Shane, but he hadn't been strong enough to resist every temptation.
"And you are proud of that?" Kasper asked gently. He seemed to realize he'd hit a nerve with that one.
"Yeah, I'm proud of it. It's been fucking hell!" After a few moments, Logan's own statement seemed to drain the fight out of him, and he cradled his forehead in his hands, leaning forward with his arms propped on his knees. That it had taken so much effort to try and cut back from the habit was just another indication that it was a problem, at least in his mind.
"Well, I think there is room here for further exploration, if you think you would like to continue seeing me." Kasper stood, noting the hour mark had passed. "I don't think this is anything but a strong sexual compulsion, a fetish ingrained in youth that has recently spiraled out of control. It's a more dangerous fetish than some, one that puts you and your partners at risk, so I think through proper therapy and medication, you can overcome this." He smiled as he walked to his desk and opened his appointment book. "Would once a week sufficient for you? Or twice?"
Logan didn't move from his spot, didn't even look up. Instead, he simply muttered, "Better make it two for now." He didn't feel any better after the appointment, but he knew he couldn't tell after one meeting if it would help. Another week of what he had been enduring seemed too long a time to wait, but a few days sounded bearable. It would keep him motivated and give him something specific to look forward to.
Kasper nodded and flipped through his planner. "I can have you at 2:30 on Tuesdays and..." He pressed his lips together. "My last appointment on Fridays, 4:30. Sound good?" he asked, looking up and smiling at Logan.
Running his fingers through his hair, Logan sat up and nodded. "I can make that work." He looked up only to be disarmed by that bright, welcoming expression. "Dr. Bromley?"
"We will work through this, Logan, I promise." Kasper walked over to the man, grasping Logan's hand, making a simple, personal connection. "You'll see." He held Logan's dark blue gaze for a moment, and then excused himself, promising to return shortly.
The reassurance he had so desperately needed had been given even before he could ask for it, and Kasper's serene confidence in his treatment quieted a bit of his unrest. He waited obediently, his eyes wandering about the room, drawn to the small personal items placed here and there and the framed diploma on the wall from Yale.
Kasper was gone perhaps ten minutes, and then he returned, smiling brightly as he entered his office again. "Now, I have had Dr. Barrow prescribe you Prozac. We'll start you at 20mg a day. However, I need you to watch yourself. If you begin to have thoughts of suicide, I want you to call me immediately." He handed Logan the prescription and a card. "My personal line is there along with the emergency office line. The Prozac will help with those compulsive thoughts, as well as dampen your libido." A small smile curved Kasper's lips. "We will see if that helps after, I'd say... eight weeks."
Standing, Logan held the pieces of paper as if they were the most precious things he had ever been given. He looked down, immediately memorizing the two phone numbers, and when his eyes rose again, he looked directly into the other man's smiling eyes. Kasper seemed to constantly be smiling. He had never seen the expression on a single person's face so often, but, strangely, it didn't seem at all unnerving coming from the blond doctor. "Thank you," he breathed, his lips twitching upward for a few moments, though his brow still creased with worry and misgivings. "See you in a few days then."
"Friday at 4:30," Kasper said, offering his hand to Logan again.
Logan shook the proffered hand, his grip a bit more relaxed than it had been when he first stepped into the office. He left the clinic with quick steps, reaching immediately for his cell phone. If he was going to pay for all this, he was going to need a good deal of help.