Jess heard Ken moving about in the bedroom as he sat at the table eating his cereal. After the events of the night before neither of them was moving in a hurry, and with the rain falling they didn't have to be. Jess thought he would take the day and catch up on some paperwork.
"Yeah, I'm sure you can handle it. You don't need me hovering over you," Ken said into the phone as he walked into the kitchen. "If you run into any problems you can call or text me. I'll be out of the shop, but I won't be unreachable."
Jess thought that it must be Wes on the other end of the phone, nervous to be left on his own at the shop. He knew Ken had said he would check on Kevin today but he also knew Ken would make sure everything at the shop was taken care of. As young and innocent as Wes looked, Jess was surprised that the young man was a competent manager but he was. The men in Ken's shop listened to him and he had a good head on his shoulders for organizing everything from costs to production of the cabinets made there.
"Yeah, everyone should be inside today. No deliveries in this rain. And watch the sealants, in this rain they may..," Ken stopped talking for a moment and then said, "Alright, alright, I see you can handle it without me today. I need to go. I'll talk to you tomorrow, unless there's a problem. Bye."
"You heading over to see Kevin today?" Jess asked as soon as Ken hung up the phone.
"Yeah. That was Wes, I called him and told him he had the shop to himself today," Ken said unnecessarily. "I'm not sure how long it will take. Mrs. Lindey said he would be at the group home, but they'll probably want to look over my background check. Thank God, I had to have one to work with the kids or it'd be weeks before I could see him."
"I'll go with you," Jess told Ken.
"It'd be easier if I went alone…"
"Hey I was here last night too! I want to see Kevin and make sure he's alright," Jess interrupted. Standing up, Jess unconsciously used his bulk to try and intimidate Ken.
"Sit down." The words spoken weren't loud, but when Ken used that tone of voice, Jess found himself obeying without thought. "Before I go check on Kevin, you and I have a few things we need to discuss."
"About Kevin? What we're going to do to help the kid?" Jess asked.
"No, not Kevin. Or at least, not right now. I need to talk to family services and see what they are doing before we can talk about him. We need to talk about us."
"Shit," Jess said with disgust. "I don't get into all the psychobabble talking! I don't want to analyze everything to death. And unless the talk you want to have is really you telling me to pack my bags and get out, I really don't want to talk."
"No, I'm not going to tell you to leave. Jess, we've had that discussion. I'm in this for the long haul." Jess felt as though his heart skipped a beat at the intensity in Ken's eyes and voice. "But we are going to analyze a bit. Look at me!" Ken said when Jess dropped his eyes to the table and started playing with the spoon from his abandoned breakfast.
Jess startled a bit, when Ken reached across the table, took the bowl with the spoon, and set them on the counter behind him. Ken had captured his attention; there was nowhere else to look but into those intense eyes.
"You told me several months ago, when we left the club together, that you wanted me to take control," Ken said. When Jess nodded his agreement, Ken stated, "Yet you argue with me."
"No, I don't!"
Jess felt fire race up his neck into his face blushing furiously as Ken simply said, "Point."
Damn, Jess thought, I handed him that point on a silver platter.
"I'll take some of the blame, as I never called you out on it. But I'm calling you out now. Last night I told you to wait. But you rushed on ahead."
"Someone was trying to steal from you!" Jess defended himself.
"And that someone could have had a gun. You could have been killed for nothing more than some tools. Tools I can replace. I will never be able to replace you."
"I guess I didn't think about that, I just acted on instinct," Jess said. "I'm not some weak little twink that's going to hide behind you."
"No, you're not a twink," Ken agreed. "But you aren't superman either. Bullets won't bounce off your chest. I don't want you hiding behind me, but I also don't want you rushing ahead of me. I want you by my side, my partner, my equal."
"Fine. I get that. We are partners, we are equal. I told you to take control. What more is there to talk about?"
"I want you to think about me taking control," Ken's replied calmly. Jess was always amazed and a bit reassured when Ken continued to be calm, while he flipped a little. Ken continued talking, "What it means to you. The type of control you want me to take, and how much control you want me to take. I know what I want, but it's us in this together. You have to be sure of what it is you want, before you can give it up completely to me. So, today, I want you to make time to define what you want our relationship to be. I'll do the same. I'll go visit Kevin, but I'll be thinking too."
Jess stood up along with Ken, walking with him as he grabbed a windbreaker from the closet. Jess started backing away when Ken turned and slowly stalked toward him. He stopped only when he felt the wall at his back, but Ken kept right on coming. Finally Ken stopped just inches from his face.
"No matter how many discussions it takes," Ken said quietly. "I will get it in your thick skull that this is forever."
Jess's heart pounded and his groin tightened as Ken's mouth descended on his with a fierce possessiveness. Jess felt boneless when Ken finally stopped.
"Think about it. I'll be back as soon as I can." And with those words, Ken was out the door.
In a daze, Jess walked back to the kitchen and sat down. His lips were throbbing with his heart beat and he had to adjust himself as his pants felt too tight. Finally, Jess pulled himself together and walked over to the sink.
Filling the sink with hot water and detergent, Jess started thinking of what he wanted from Ken. He wanted it all; he wanted to give himself up completely to the man. He wanted to let Ken take control, yet he couldn't allow Ken to think he was weak.
Plunging the dishes into the foamy water, Jess couldn't help the thoughts spiraling in his mind. If he allowed Ken to be the strong one, to take control over him, to punish him, then by definition he would be weak.
He tried to shake those thoughts from his head like he shook the bubbles off his hand. Turning away from the sink, he decided to tackle the week's paperwork. He collected the laptop from the sideboard along with the files he'd brought home the night before. He set the laptop on the table and kept his mind occupied by organizing the paperwork into piles.
While waiting for the computer to boot up, Jess's mind again started on the unsettling thoughts. Ken had disciplined him. Hell, Jess had even taken off his belt and handed it to Ken so Ken could strap him. Jess didn't feel weak when he'd handed over his belt. He had felt a confusing mixture deep in his gut; a mixture of fear and arousal, but not weakness. During that strapping, and other spankings, he hadn't thought of anything but the fire Ken was lighting in his ass.
Once the punishment was meted out, and he was wrapped in Ken's arms, he didn't think of anything. That was the only time he didn't worry about guilt or being strong or anything but the fresh start the aftermath of a punishment left him with. The feeling would last for hours, sometimes even a day, before the need to show he wasn't weak came back to him.
The beep of the computer shook Jess out of his thoughts, but staring at the piles of folders he knew he wouldn't be able to concentrate. Shutting down the laptop, and gathering the files in one pile, Jess took them into the bedroom.
Putting the computer and files on the dresser, Jess set about making the bed. Straightening the blankets with a snap of his hand, Jess thought of Ken's voice. The deep timbre of Ken's voice; the huskiness when Ken was buried balls deep inside of Jess; the pure steel in it when Jess stepped over the line.
That steel in Ken's voice hit something primal in Jess. He reacted instinctively, immediately, before he had time to think, he found himself obeying that voice.
"Shit," Jess said, then flopped onto the bed. He wanted to surrender to Ken, he wanted to hand it all over to Ken. Jess trusted that Ken wouldn't embarrass or humiliate him. It wasn't Ken with the problem, it was him. How could he make Ken understand that?
When Jess woke, Ken was propped up in bed beside him. He appeared to be lost in work with the laptop opened on his lap.
"Hey, you're home. How's Kevin?"
Closing the laptop and placing it on the bedside table, Ken replied, "Angry. Scared. I talked with him and tried to reassure him. I talked with Mrs. Lindey. She said they would work hard to find him a foster family. But at 15 years old, the chances were slim. People want babies, not teenagers with baggage."
"What happens if they can't find a foster home?"
"He'll stay in the group home." Ken looked into Jess's eyes, as if he was searching for something. Apparently finding what he was looking for, Ken continued, "Mrs. Lindey said I could apply for the mentor program to be Kevin's mentor. He wouldn't live with us; he'd stay at the group home, but he could come here after school a couple of days a week. After a trial period he could stay on weekends. You willing to try it?"
"I don't know how to be a mentor. I wouldn't know what to do," Jess said.
"Technically I would be his mentor. But you would play a big part in it too. You need a background check. Mrs. Lindey gave me the forms; they're on the table along with some pamphlets about mentoring. I thought later tonight, after dinner, you and I could go through it all. Nothing has to be decided tonight."
Jess nodded his head, they would talk about it tonight. Knowing they had things to talk about now, Jess inhaled deeply and said, "I want to give it all to you. I want you to have control. I'm so damn tired of trying to be strong, to hide how weak I am from you."
Jess watched as Ken sat up swinging his legs over the side of the bed. His heart seemed to drop into the pit of his stomach, as Ken turned his back to him, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"Come here, Jess," Ken said. "I want you standing in front of me."
Jess started to speak, to ask Ken why, but he changed his mind. He'd just told Ken that he wanted him to have control; he wasn't going to argue now. Ken would never believe he really meant it. Standing up, he walked around the bed to stand in front of Ken.
"And I want that control. We are like two pieces of a puzzle. We fit together," Ken said, as he undid Jess's Levi's.
"What? What are you doing?" Jess asked when Ken pushed his jeans and underwear down his legs.
"Step out," was Ken's reply.
Jess stepped out of the clothes and soon found himself facedown over Ken's lap. He allowed Ken to manhandle him, positioning him so his torso was supported by the bed, as his legs hung down, leaving his ass perfectly positioned over Ken's lap. Jess felt Ken's chest press into his back as Ken leaned over and opened the nightstand drawer. Jess turned his head and watched as Ken pulled the paddle out of the drawer.
"Shouldn't we talk about all this?" Jess asked.
"Oh, we are going to talk, but I'm going to use a little incentive to keep you open and honest about things," Ken said sitting back up. "And we have the issue of you not listening last night to settle. Now, you said you wanted to give it up to me? You want to shed the armor you wear each day?"
"Yes," Jess mumbled into the bedspread. He jerked as the paddle landed on his ass.
"I said we are going to talk, and we are. I want you to speak up, loud and clear, boy," Ken said, not unkindly.
Jess lifted his head, and said clearly, "Yes."
"But you think that's being weak. Or that I'll think you are weak," Ken said.
"Yes." Jess grunted as the paddle landed immediately after his answer.
"You. Are. Not. Weak." The paddle striking with each word.
Jess felt Ken's hand caress his hot ass and heard the deep timbre of his voice, "A man who can accept who he is and what he wants is the strongest. We've never set down rules, but I'm going to give you one now. Are you listening?"
"You will be paddled every time you say you are weak. You are not weak, and I don't want to hear it again."
"OK," Jess said into the bed.
"Say it, Jess," Ken said with another smack of the paddle.
"I'll be paddled if I call myself weak," Jess said loudly, not wanting to invite another swat.
"Yes, you will be paddled if you call yourself weak, pathetic, incapable, useless, or any other word that tears you down. You tear yourself down; I'll use the paddle to build you back up," Ken brought the paddle down again.
"OK. I won't say it again," Jess gasped out.
"Now that we have that straightened out. Here's how I see our relationship. We are two strong men, but in our home, I'll be in charge. I like being in charge, you like me being in charge. So that's the way it'll be. Yes?" Ken asked.
"OK. We have that settled. Now let's talk about last night, and your problem with listening."
Jess wanted to reply, `let's not', but his butt was still in the line of fire.
"I told you to wait, but you rushed out of here before I could even get out of bed. That will NOT happen again. To ensure that it won't and to keep you from beating yourself up over it, I'll finish this up. And we can be done with it. Agreed?"
Dropping his head onto the bed, but raising his voice to be heard, Jess said, "Agreed."
The paddling that followed was methodical and thorough; leaving Jess in no doubt that he would remember this lesson for the next few days. Biting his lip to keep the tears at bay, Jess lay over Ken's lap long after the paddle had ceased. Ken had dropped the paddle on the floor and had one hand firmly wrapped around Jess, while his other hand stroked over his back.
"It's ok to cry, Jess. Crying releases all the poison inside. I won't push you to release those tears tonight, but fair warning, I will soon."
Jess felt himself being pulled up and crushed in Ken's arms. Clinging to Ken, Jess knew that his doubts and demons would be quieted for awhile. And when they reared their ugly heads, Ken would be there to quiet them again.