Billionaire Dominant David Davenport needs a break from the loveless isolation imposed by wealth, responsibility, and the stress of running the Manse, his private gay club. While at lunch with an old friend, David finds himself enchanted by the charming and submissive nature of Shea Whittier, their young waiter. David offers to help the young man out with his personal troubles, never suspecting the danger he’s putting them both in. (M/M)
Crouching beside Shea, David demanded, “Who did this to you?”
Shea’s face was swollen with a black eye, marbled in terrible colors ranging from yellow to crimson-black. His jaw was ringed on one side with a deep abrasion crusted with blood and dirt. He was holding his left arm against his body protectively enough that David had to assume it was also injured. Some of the light in his eyes had even been extinguished, replaced with a cringing look David had often seen in people who had been viciously mistreated.
At first, Shea just stared at him in utter confusion, looking lost. Inside Teresa’s, people seated by the glass windows were gawking at them and the minor scene David was making, not that he cared one bit. Pedestrians on the sidewalks and in the parking area had also paused to observe. But none of this seemed to touch Shea’s notice. He had eyes only for David and didn’t once divert his attention. David breathed in the subtle submission and crowded further into Shea’s space as if he had been invited.
“Oh my god, the hotter Stark and Brother Voodoo,” Shea said, sounding incredibly bewildered. David hoped he hadn’t suffered a concussion. “You’re David. You left me that crazy tip the other day. This is so weird. Why are you here?”
“Who did this?” David quietly but firmly insisted.
“I-I don’t know. I was mugged on my way home from here. It was actually the same day I met you. Never saw who did it. They took my stuff and beat me up, but when I got home, I…” Shea shook his head and seemed to draw further in on himself. “Never mind. I’m sorry if I’m upsetting you, sir. I’ll go sit somewhere else if I’m disturbing your meal.”
It was the way Shea sounded that was the final straw. There was much more going on here than a mugging, and if David was reading Shea correctly, the beating had damaged more than just skin. He looked like a broken doll, tumbled from his beloved’s grasp, left to rot in the gutters, forgotten.
Anger like David hadn’t felt in a long time suffused him. It didn’t get the better of him, but only intensified his focus and need to gain control of the situation. All he could see were those wounds, the absence of any bandages, and the fact that Shea was at work, not at a hospital or, at the very least, at home resting. And not only was he not actively working, he was sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, like they’d…
“Did they kick you out?” David jabbed a finger at the restaurant.
Shea bowed his head, bracing his forehead against a hand and trying to hide his injuries. “The manager told me to go clean myself up, and I thought they’d let me use the sink in the restroom here, but he doesn’t want me upsetting the customers, and I can’t go home. I don’t… I don’t have anywhere to go.”
Then, David did smile, with a murderous sort of wrath hidden in the hard sparkle of his eyes, as well as the glint of his teeth. He stood and Elet was right there, eyeing him and waiting patiently, knowing David well enough to back off respectfully.
“Okay, this is completely unacceptable.”
“What?” Shea laughed a little, and it sounded hollow, thin, exhausted. “I don’t know what to—”
“Come. Everything will be taken care of.” David extended a hand to Shea. Warily, Shea took it and let David pull him up, wincing with pain as he did, hinting at other bruising, other wounds.