From the outside, it looks as if college football quarterback Kingston Bentley has it all—good looks, athletic ability and a 4.0 average in his classes. But looks can be deceiving. Kingston is battling inner demons that are jeopardizing his safety and slowly driving him to more and more acts of desperation. Everywhere he looks, he’s got nothing but trouble and turmoil in his life, and when he loses his coveted first-string position on the football team, he goes back to the one thing he can count on—cutting himself to relieve the pressure and the emotional pain. The new quarterback, Memphis Sawyer, is the Coach’s son, and under enormous pressure of his own as he's brought in to lead his new team to the national championship. For that, he needs Kingston’s help, and they soon become an unbeatable force both on the field and off. But when Memphis discovers Kingston in the act of cutting himself, he uses his forceful nature and all he knows about being a Dom to take Kingston in hand and ensure his welfare. Kingston loves the pain, but he strongly rebels against the idea of being Memphis’s sub. As Kingston begins his training, however, Memphis discovers just how fragile their relationship really is, and how desperately he needs to help Kingston deal with the secrets from his past.
I found him in the kitchen, digging through the refrigerator with a determination that he should have used to defend himself against the bitch that lied about him and put him in jail. When he finally slammed the door shut, he had a bottle of Tequila. Okay, so that was not what I’d expected him to pull out. From everything I’d heard about Kingston in the past, he had a reputation as a boy scout. Call me crazy, but boy scouts didn’t drink Tequila…straight from the bottle in huge gulps. They didn’t let other men tie them up and beat them either, but that was another story. After a few seconds, I was able to draw my eyes away from the sensual move of his Adam’s apple long enough to reach over and snatch the bottle out of his hand. “What the fuck, Kingston?”
He snarled in my direction. “What? Are those your favorite words to me, Memphis?” Shoving past me, he said, “How about this? Mind your own damn business…and by the way, I’m not your business.”
Almost to my breaking point, I slammed the bottle of Tequila down on the countertop and went after him. This time he’d walked out onto the balcony and was standing by the railing, looking down. I quickened my pace, unsure of where his head was and what kind of damage he was really capable of inflicting upon himself. His behavior was the polar opposite of everything I’d heard about Kingston Bentley and even the little bit I’d witnessed first-hand.
My eyes, traitorous fuckers, wandered to his pert ass as I stepped out onto the balcony following him. Kingston’s ass—regardless of how pert and spankable—wasn’t normally my thing. I’d never so much as looked at him in the showers, no matter how attractive I thought he was. I’d spanked plenty of cute asses in my day, and Kingston Bentley’s was one I’d love to apply a good paddle to.
“Stop doing stupid shit and maybe I’ll quit saying it,” I said as I forced my eyes away from his perfectly-shaped globes. Yep, they were perfect. My hands itched to grab them and hear him squeal. “What’s happened to you? This isn’t the Kingston I’ve heard about.”
He snorted in disgust. “Isn’t that funny—you trying to act like you know or care anything about me. You’re a real peach, Memphis.” He spun around to face me, making me thankful my eyes were no longer ogling where they had no business. “Wait a minute! Let me guess? You’re my new roommate, right? Really? Wasn’t it enough to have the girl lie about me, have me thrown in jail, and steal my position on the team? Now you have to live here and make my life a living hell? Nice. Really nice. Wait, don’t forget that you’re blackmailing me now. We definitely need to add that to your list of cons.” He shrugged. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but your pros list is completely empty while the other overflows. I’m sure you’re okay with that, though. It has to be something you’re used to. My guess is that you and your father have walked all over people your entire lives.” He smiled, but it wasn’t at all friendly. “Looks like you have that skill off the field, too. Good for you,” he added sarcastically.
Damn, that was a lot of hate for somebody who didn’t even know me.
I decided to try to be reasonable with him. “First of all, neither my father nor I paid anybody to lie about you—the bitch did that one all by herself. Secondly, you should never have spent a night in jail. I have no idea why your parents didn’t get another lawyer in there to fight that exorbitant bond, but that’s on them and you—not me. Thirdly, I didn’t steal your position, Kingston. You weren’t there to play and that left me. I played a hell of a game by the way, and we won.” I took a deep breath. “And I’m a better quarterback than you. You’re good, but your throwing game is weaker than mine. We both know that.” I’d thought my words would hurt him, maybe even cause him to take a swing at me. They didn’t, though. There was nothing there. No emotion…just a blank stare back at me.
He crossed his feet at the ankles and leaned back against the railing, causing my heart to pound a few beats faster than normal.
“You forgot to deny the blackmailing. What lie do you plan on using for that act of assholery?”
I smiled. “I didn’t deny it because I am blackmailing you.” I wondered what his hair felt like. I bet it was soft. “If I tell the coach what I saw you doing it will probably get you tossed off the team. Or get your parents to send you to a psychiatrist at the very least. If you don’t want that, it looks like I’ve got you over a barrel.” Yep, my mind immediately envisioned him bent over a barrel, completely naked and legs spread wide, his wrists and ankles attached by chains to round, steel hooks on the floor. I needed to stop that train of thought right now. Kingston Bentley had to be off limits!
“You really are a piece of work,” he answered with a shake of his head. “What do you want from me, Mr. I’m-the-better-quarterback? Should I carry your books at school? Wash your jock strap? I’ve got it! I can walk ahead of you and toss rose petals in the air so everybody will know royalty is coming their way.”
I had to smile at the image. Damn, I could really like this guy if he didn’t hate me so fucking much.
“Those are some good ideas, and I’m gonna be honest with you, the rose petals thing is going to be hard to turn down. If I didn’t already know what I wanted from you, I’d have to go for that. Crimson, of course—to match our school colors. Maybe we’ll keep that one in reserve.”
His eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, what you want from me…what is it you think you’re going to get from me, Memphis?”
Ohhhh…the fucking possibilities that flashed through my mind with that question.
“First and foremost, I want you to promise there’ll be no more cutting. If I don’t agree to quit, there won’t be anything you can say or do that will stop me from reporting it to the AD and to your parents—it’s dangerous and unhealthy, Kingston. It stops now.”
He laughed out loud. “Oh…okay. Since you want me to, then I’ll quit. No worries there. I live to make you happy. I mean, I’ve thought about quitting, but I kept telling myself that I didn’t have a good enough reason, so I just couldn’t, no matter how dangerous and unhealthy it was. But now that I know you really want me to, I’ll just retire my blade and start crocheting to relieve my stress. How’s that?”
“You’re quite the asshole, Bentley,” I acknowledged. “Funny, but an asshole.” I took a step closer to him. “It stops today. No negotiations, no backtalk. You cut. I tattle. Oh, and it should go without saying that the other activity stops too. The shit I witnessed at Checkmate that night is dangerous and stupid. It stops too.”
“That’s really something coming from you! I saw you there that night too, you know! You have as much to lose as I do there!”
“The difference is I don’t put myself in danger with what I do.”
“Oh, just some poor, unsuspecting subs!”
“I practice safe, sane and consensual, Kingston. Can you say the same?”
“Mature.” He tried to step away from me, but I blocked him against the railing by putting my hands on each side of him. His eyes widened and nostrils flared, but he didn’t take a swing. God, he smelled delicious. “Let’s move on. I also want you to begin training with me on a daily basis.”
“I plan on showing up for practice, and I know I’m your backup quarterback. You wasted your blackmail talents on that one.”
“Nope. You’re not only the backup quarterback anymore. I want you to request my dad to also train you as running back, while you still train with me for quarterback. Running back is Stallone’s position but you’re faster and have better moves than he does. I’ll go with you to make sure you do it and to tell him I think it’s a good idea. On top of that, Stallone’s a troublemaker for the team. If he fucks up again, you can step in.” This brilliant plan had come to me after my discussion with dad. I knew he’d been hinting at something but couldn’t figure out what it was exactly. I’m not sure if this was it, but it was how things were going to be if I had any say in it whatsoever.
“I’m a quarterback, not a running back,” Kingston snipped.
Strange that he hadn’t tried to break away from me yet…
“Now you’re going to be both. Deal with it. You have the skill. We just need to work on the plays and get you more familiar with the other position. Blackmail, Kingston. Remember? You don’t really have any choice here.”
He answered with a grunt, but there was a thoughtful expression on his face, like maybe he was allowing himself to consider the changes.
As for the last thing, I have someone I need to meet tonight. I can’t trust you to leave you alone, so you’re going to have to go along with me.” Having him so close to me was doing something weird to my senses. Good, but weird. New…but really damn good.
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not going anywhere with you, Memphis. I wouldn’t be caught dead out in public with you. Forget it.”
“I didn’t ask you,” I countered. “I told you. You’re going. It’s my uncle and I haven’t seen him in a few weeks. He’s only in town for a few days so we’re having dinner and going out afterward. You are too, and I don’t want to hear another fucking word out of your mouth about it. We’re leaving soon, so be ready or I’ll carry you out in sweats and a t-shirt. This is something I want to do and I’m not letting you knock me out of it with a spoiled brat temper tantrum.” I stepped away from him. “Twenty minutes, Kingston.”
“I don’t want to go anywhere with you.”
“Don’t care,” I answered as I turned to walk away.
He folded his arms across his chest, his back still against the rail. “I’m not going anywhere, so you need to get over yourself.”
I turned back and sighed. “I tried to do this the easy way, but you like it hard, don’t you, boy? Okay, then. Let’s dance.”