Cursing under his breath, Patrick figured it was a good thing he hadn’t made a commitment to move out of the shared flat he lived in with his two best friends. The glowering man looming over him was back to revealing exactly what a shitty daddy he was. They’d been building to this moment and Patrick had been struggling to address the issues between them.
“What did I say?” Wayne yanked on his arm, pulling him off the chair he’d been sitting on while he attempted to eat the unpalatable food. Patrick had been clear about foods he didn’t like when they’d created a list together. The joy of that day was long passed. Some of the things he hated were on the plate and he’d tried to eat them, he had, but his stomach was heaving at the thought of trying to swallow anything else.
Dipping his chin, Patrick sucked in a deep breath and blinked back tears. The man wasn’t worth any of them. “I don’t like it…Daddy.”
The slap to his face was so unexpected, he was stunned into immobility and didn’t move away when the large hand struck the same stinging cheek. The second blow was harder and it rocked Patrick back on his heels, only the punishing grip on his arm stopping him from staggering back. Patrick was small at five three, and rail thin. Wayne, on the other hand, was built and six foot two. Any idea of using his safe word was lost under shock, pain, and the verbal assault that followed.
“I work hard all day and came home to slave over the stove to create a meal for you.” Wayne shook him until his teeth rattled together. The tears dripped down his face and off his trembling chin as the rant continued, crushing his heart. “Is this the gratitude you show your Daddy? What an ungrateful little brat you are. I have no clue why I bother. Naughty boys don’t deserve to be lavished with my time.”
One more bone jarring shake and Patrick was released, his legs giving way. He landed hard in a heap, his arse singing with pain to match his burning cheek.
Wayne didn’t so much as look at him as he returned to take his seat at the table. Two red splashes of colour showed his temper, along with his sizzling dark eyes. He picked up his knife and fork and continued eating the dreadful meal like he hadn’t just assaulted Patrick. And it was assault. This had nothing to do with their Daddy/boy relationship.
Wayne had been in a bad mood when Patrick had arrived. He could tell something was off, and should have listened to his gut instinct. His work as a programmer had been crazy busy, with the launch of a new computer game, and the build up had been brutal. All he’d needed was to unwind in a safe space with his stuffie and blankie. Not turning right around and leaving straight away had been his mistake and he had no one to blame but himself. He might not have had many relationships — okay, he’d had two and this was the second — but he knew the difference between a nurturing Daddy and an aggressive arsehole. What was going on between them wasn’t healthy, or safe.
Whatever little space Patrick had been aiming for, which wasn’t a lot with Wayne’s escalating aggressive behaviour, evaporated and all he was left with was humiliation and regret that he’d not chosen to dump Wayne weeks earlier. It was, in part, his own fault as he’d been hopeful that things would improve. How wrong could he have been?
Standing on shaky legs, Patrick did his best to contain his sobs as he glanced about the dining room, looking for the bag he’d brought over for a sleepover. A sleepover, yeah, that was not going to happen. Humiliation, a burning cheek, and a sore arse were more than enough for one night.
The walk to the corner was painful, his arse reminding him with every step that it had connected with the hard, wooden floor. Wayne didn’t so much as glance in his direction when he got to his bag.
“What are you doing?” Wayne’s tone was sharp and cut at Patrick’s nerves.
His hand trembled as he held up the bag in a defensive manner, praying that Wayne wouldn’t hit him again.
“I’m leaving. Agrippa. I’m Agrippa.” The use of his safe word didn’t get any reaction and Patrick’s nerves frayed. Was Wayne going to honour his boundaries? “I think it’s best for both of us if I leave.” And when he did, he would be dumping Wayne the second he got home.
Wayne’s brows arched and there was nothing but condemnation staring back at him. “Is that so? I never said you could leave.”
Patrick gulped and lost the ability to speak. What did that mean? Patrick had safe worded. Surely Wayne got that he was no longer playing?
“Sit down and we’ll discuss this after I’ve eaten.” The tone was nasty and Patrick’s innards turned to water. If there was ever a time he thought he could shit himself, it was now, and it would have nothing to do with him being little.
Wayne on paper, or in the Cuffd app, was everything Patrick had wanted in a Daddy. Gentle, caring, fun loving, someone who wanted a little to take care of. Patrick wanted that to help get him out of his head after working in a high stress environment. In reality, Wayne was none of the things he claimed to be. He was a bully who took out whatever frustrations he had in life on Patrick.
What would Beau and Jessie do? Beau would kick the arsehole in the nuts and Jessie would work to get Wayne into a better mood. Neither option appealed, not when the first meant getting closer to Wayne and the second meant staying. Patrick shook his head, stealing his spine as he met Wayne’s hard stare. “No. You assaulted me. I have safe worded.”
Before Wayne could get out of his seat, Patrick darted for the door and was already down the hallway when he heard Wayne swear. “Fucking little shit.”
He was out the door faster than a squirrel going up a drainpipe. He ran down the steps of the house clutching his bag and headed straight to the busy street, hoping Wayne wouldn’t follow him and make a spectacle of himself in front of others. The man was in charge of one of the big banks and being seen with Patrick in this state would raise questions. Questions Patrick was convinced he wouldn’t want to answer.
Not once looking back, Patrick mixed with those heading wherever they were going. He scrubbed at his damp, chilly cheeks as the wind chill factor registered, working on keeping his head down and looking only where he was going. He kept his pace fast and the wind whistled through the thick pullover he wore. He shivered, grateful he’d not had time to change into his little clothes. Not that he’d have cared who’d seen him dressed like that, more that he’d have frozen his balls off by the time he got home.
Patrick walked to the edge of the curb several streets away from Wayne’s and pulled his phone out of his pocket to order an Uber. The idea of getting on the tube and people looking at him was just too much.
Lights flashed as cars drove by, keeping up a constant stream of noise. London was always noisy and busy, and though Patrick loved it, right now he wanted quiet and to be wrapped in his blankie at home. Safe!
He checked the Uber app for his driver and breathed a sigh of relief when, seconds later, the car pulled to a stop in front of him. He jumped in the back, only taking his first decent breath when the car merged with the traffic. Patrick rubbed at his sore cheek and stared out the window.
Should he mention what happened to Beau? To Jessie? They were both overprotective of him. They’d been friends since childhood, they were his people. As they’d grown, they’d explored their sexuality and though they were all gay, none of them had been interested in the other. They all had different tastes. Although Jessie wanted a Daddy, he wasn’t a little. Not like Patrick, who found himself regressing to a small child.
The level of stress in his life always determined whether he fully regressed to his toddler persona, Patty. Right now, that was exactly where he wanted to disappear to, which he could safely do at home if Beau or Jessie were about. He had no idea what either of them were up to that night and sniffed, willing back his tears.
London at night flashed past the window and he clutched his bag tighter, willing himself to keep it together until he got home. Relief flooded through his system when they finally turned into Clanricarde Gardens. The flat was in a huge row of old buildings, each of the large houses having been converted by developers. He and the boys had lived there for the past few years, after Jessie’s parents had found the place. Although the yellow brick houses had ornate and fussy designs around the large windows, it was a cool place to live.
The families of all three boys had opted to club together to help with the set up costs for the three bedroomed flat in the sought after area of London. They’d even paid the rent to begin with, to ensure the boys didn’t end up in a cramped bedsit.
Their parents were no longer contributing, the three boys all had well paid jobs and could afford to keep themselves. They all managed to keep on top of the astronomical costs, with Beau’s help, who was the financial wizard amongst them.
Patrick was delighted to see light coming from their top floor flat the moment the car drove down Clanricarde Gardens. He reminded himself to add a tip for the driver, who’d not bothered to make small talk.
Once inside the front door, all Patrick’s churning emotions released and he sobbed as he walked up the six flights of stairs. He dropped his bag inside the front door the moment it closed behind him.
Beau’s dark head popped out of the lounge, then he was running at him. He was the tallest out of the three of them and he brought Patrick in for a full body hug, running his hand over the side of Patrick’s still hot face. “What the fuck happened? Who hit you? Was this Wayne? I’m gonna go and kick him in the nuts!”
Patrick’s wet chuckle felt good, as did the arms hugging him tightly. He buried his face in Beau’s neck, sniffing. “I knew you’d be the one who’d want to kick him in the balls.”
“If he hit you without consent then he deserves it. He did hit you without consent?”
Nodding, Patrick lifted his head and met Beau’s worried and angry stare. His friend was predictable. “I didn’t consent. I safe worded in the end and he still wasn’t listening.”
His chin trembled as fresh tears rolled down his cheeks. Beau said nothing, his fingers gently stroking Patrick’s cheek. “He made dinner. God, it was awful and I tried to eat it but he was giving off all these angry vibes. Next thing, he’s yanking, hitting, and shaking me before all but throwing me on the floor.” Gasping for breath in between his sobs, Patrick managed to get it all out.
“You need to report him to whoever runs the Cuffd app. The guy is not a caring fucking Daddy. Jeez, the guy is a bloody animal. And I was right, a kick in the nuts is what he needs. Maybe with my stiletto boots.”
Back to wet chuckles at the visual, Patrick rested his head back on Beau’s shoulder, inhaling his familiar scent. “Why can’t you be a Daddy?”
Beau’s laughter was raucous. “I’m a bossy bottom boy, sweetie.”
Patrick released a heartfelt sigh. “Yeah, I know, but you’d make a real good Daddy.”
Beau tightened his arms around Patrick. “We’ll find you the right Daddy. He’s out there somewhere, looking for you.”
More sniffing and Patrick rubbed at his damp eyes. “Iꟷ”
“Nope, you don’t get to give up on what you want. Wayne will not take that away from you.” Beau brushed a kiss over the top of his head. “We’ll just need to get better at the vetting system.”
Patrick wasn’t sure about that, not with Wayne’s behaviour still too fresh in his memory, but he reluctantly agreed, knowing his best friend wouldn’t give up. “Okay. I’ll let you and Jessie do the vetting.”
It didn’t mean he had to start looking now though, did it?