This bonus chapter occurs directly before the events of the final chapter in 5 Boys on the Brink (Book 2 in the 5 Boys series).
If you haven’t read Book 2 yet, don’t read ahead unless you enjoy spoilers and confusion.
“You have handcuffs, right?”
I say it as nonchalantly as possible but Leon still turns to give me a weird look.
He frowns at me. “Yes,” he answers, voice irritatingly slow and measured. “Why?”
My phone flashes like a neon disco, and as watchable as Leon’s confusion is, the phone still commands my full attention.
“I just… I think I’d like them.” I lick my lips, hoping for three diamonds to line up in a row. When two cherries and the number seven appear instead, I whisper, “I think I kinda need it.”
He’s staring at me and I don’t even have to look up to know it. I can feel it, the steely heat of his gaze, burning straight through and deep into my soul.
“What do you do on your phone?” He sounds curious. “You’re never away from that thing these days.”
“Yeah, but it’s…” Fun? Is it? Really? I manage to tear my gaze away from the screen and place it firmly on Leon’s skeptical face. “It’s just habit.” I smile at him, a wobbly thing, because my face feels frozen and I desperately want to look back down at the screen.
It’s when I notice what he’s in the middle of doing that I’m actually propelled back into the real world. I blink. He’s making the beds, tucking in the sheets and smoothing down the wrinkles with regimental precision. It’s an act so… pedestrian… that I tilt my head to the side.
“What are you doing?”
Leon doesn’t even look at me, having seemingly decided that my request for handcuffs is just me having a joke. Fuck him, then. I’ll make him give me them.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m making the beds. We’re guests here.”
“That’s too weird,” I say. And then, experimentally, I add, “L.”
His back straightens at the nickname. My nickname for him. He sighs and finally turns to me. “What’s this about?”
I gaze up at him coolly. “I don’t feel so good,” I mumble. It’s not a lie. More an embellished truth. I flop backward into the mattress, staring up at him and doing everything other than flutter my eyelashes.
Leon’s a simple guy but I’ve complicated him. I’ve made him complicated. His whole thing with me is complicated, all because I am.
I turn on my side, shirt hitching at my waist. He doesn’t fail to notice.
“What are you doing?” he asks, almost in alarm, as my hand strokes my exposed skin.
“I’m just hot for Kat.” Also not a lie. The fucker had her while he thought I was asleep — because no, bitch, I was watching.
And I’ve been desperate for her, and them, and everyone ever since.
“I see what you’re like, you know,” I tell him in a languid voice, trying desperately to ignore the images of brightly colored cartoon fruit decorating my vision. All they need to do is start dancing around the room to prove I’m really losing it. I smirk at him. “I see your true self.”
His eyes narrow. “And what’s that?”
But I don’t answer him directly. “I see you, L,” I say instead, emphasizing my nickname for him. “I know you can’t resist me like this.”
Something tightens in Leon’s jaw.
“L,” I whisper, almost begging. “L, L, L. What the fuck do I have to do to get you to take me?”
He goes all quiet and still, like my words have rooted him to the spot.
And then, slowly, deliberately, he approaches me.
“You want me, T?” he asks, testing it out, my initial like rust in his voice.
He hasn’t called me that in so long. My stomach flutters.
“You need me,” he corrects, staring down at me.
I must look a fucking mess. Hand gripping my phone tightly, eyes pleading up at Leon. I need him to take me away from this. I need him to punch if not shake some sense into me. Only he can do that to me. Only he understands me when I’m like this.
And I’ve never needed him so badly before.
“Yes.” My voice is husky and I can’t tell why. I’d started this as a — not a joke, exactly, but definitely not a real thing. But the way Leon’s looking at me? It makes me want this to be real.
“What’s triggered this?”
The words, Nothing, I just want you, melt on my tongue. That would be too suspicious. Every other time this has happened, there’s always been a trigger.
“I just…” I pause, lick my lips, and plunder on, “I kinda miss Adam.”
Leon’s face softens slightly.
It’s not a lie.
In fact, it could be the actual real truth. The reason I find so much comfort in bright, colorful slot machines with glinting cartoon coins.
Because something so mechanical can’t hurt you.
If you end up broken at the end of it, it’s because of fate, not mechanics.
A machine based on chance can never betray you. Because you know going in that there’s a chance you’ll lose.
People don’t offer that.
People are too variable.
And somehow Adam was the most variable of the lot.
“I wondered if it would come to this,” Leon says, sitting carefully beside me on the bed. He looks like he wants to talk to me, which is nowhere near what I have in mind. I move closer to him, craving something real and solid.
He sighs, then stands again, like he can see through me. My body pines for him.
Did I scare him off?
Come on too strong?
But then I see he’s rummaging around in his bag, diving deep into the bottom, where he plucks out a pair of gleaming handcuffs.
My heart soars.
Leon glances, uncertain, between me and the cuffs. “We’ve never…”
“I have safe words.” And I’m not going to use them.
But my statement is more confident than Leon looks. I wish he’d buck up and be a bit more dominant about the whole thing — a selfish desire, really — but part of me is surprisingly touched that he cares so much to hold himself back.
It’s irritating, though.
I arch my body to prove that I really mean this.
His eyes catch on the flat of my stomach again.
I watch the press of his knee onto the bed, as if in slow motion. My heart’s in my mouth. I don’t know why — I’d planned this, and I never plan anything. Maybe that’s the reason. Or maybe it’s because Leon seems so suddenly close, his hands gripping that pair of shining cuffs like he rather enjoys the feel of them.
“How long has it been…?”
He tilts his head at me, looming over my body. “How long has it been since we’ve done this?”
I swallow. It’s not the question I’d been thinking of — how long has it been since he’s used the cuffs. I know only too well the last time we were together. It was before Kat, before any of this — this being the all-encompassing term for the breakup of Royal Element and the move to Conor’s farm. It had been angry and needy and I’d jerked off to it later when I promised myself I’d never, ever, ever do that to one of our… sessions.
But there’s something so intense about Leon when he’s being a deliberate prick to me that gets me kinda hot.
I don’t tell him this.
Still… I think he can kinda infer my feelings from what happened during the sex tape.
He’s still standing there, hovering over me, one knee on the bed, another foot on the ground. It’s the foot on the ground that literally grounds him — that stupid, rational side of his brain that takes him away from this. I don’t want that part. I want the in-control, dominating part of him to unleash itself.
There’s a way to do it that’s always worked.
I’m not sure, but I think his blind spot for Adam must be about as big as mine.
Someone else might be more of a blind spot nowadays…
“Adam told me he hates you,” I say, testing it out. There’s not much response. In fact, Leon looks mildly amused. “That you’re a wannabe hack, and you are, you fucking prick. Why would you talk that way to Kat?”
He blinks at me, his expression clouding over.
“She has done nothing to you, and you think you can make her miserable like that?” Suddenly, actual anger is simmering inside me. “She doesn’t deserve that. She’s trying her best, but of course nothing’s ever good enough for you.” I grunt, sliding myself up on the bed so that I’m no longer prone but able to deck him. “We’re meant to be looking after each other but your quest for perfectionism is tearing us apart.”
I’m breathing heavily. I don’t know where it came from, but having witnessed Leon’s earlier meltdown, I feel he needs to be taken to task.
And hey, maybe I can make use of it…
I’m steamrolling him but I don’t care: “You think I’m the fuck-up, but at least I’ll always have Kat’s back. You tell her you love her and you basically yell it at her.”
He wipes his eyes tiredly and doesn’t respond.
So maybe Kat’s not the best way to anger him, after all. Instead, it seems to be making me angry. Leon just looks despondent, perhaps even a little remorseful. That’s something, I guess. He hasn’t gone full prick.
“Let’s look at you,” I say, changing tracks. “Adam’s everything you’re not and you’re achingly jealous of that.” I pause, thinking, and then push out, “I bet he’d take better care of Kat than you.”
At last, there’s a flash in Leon’s eyes. They glimmer in the shadows of the bunk, bright with rage. “Really?” he snaps. “After everything he did to her?”
“That’s how lowly I think of you right now.”
I glare at him and he glares at me. It’s progress.
“You practically had your cock out for me not two minutes ago.”
Flushing, I mutter, “So maybe I still want it. Maybe I like it dark and twisted and depraved and fucked-up. And maybe I want a dark and twisted depraved fuck-up to do it to me.”
His eyes narrow and he leans his weight fully onto the bed.
If I can push it more…
“You’re not Adam,” I say with a strange grin I can’t contain. “And that eats you right up.”
“Adam’s a prick. Why would I want to be him?”
“Ask yourself that.” I lick my lips. “But I’ve seen the way Kat looks at him.” Her face when she watched Adam’s interview, like his existence had shocked her to the core. It had been exactly what I’d felt. “It’s not the way she looks at you.” A fucking lie. But then again, not quite — she doesn’t look at Adam the way she looks at Leon, because Leon’s usually responsible for fucking bliss onto her face.
But it’s enough. It’s a sore spot, a blind spot, and I can tear into those like an aggressive hound.
Leon shoves me back, slamming me onto the bed. My head knocks against the wooden bed frame, and for a moment there’s a flash of worry in Leon’s eyes. But I just grin at him sickly, enjoying the first fires of pain.
“You’ve fucked it up for us,” I whisper, staring up at him. “We had a good thing going, and now Kat’s actually gonna leave.” I’m saying anything, anything, to make him react the way I need him to. It’s only later that I realize my worst fears are also Leon’s, and that somehow I’ve managed to give voice to them. “You’ve fucked up everything, the way I’ve always said you would. So congrats. Now you are just as bad as Adam.”
The blow is a sweet, sweet relief, and pain sizzles beneath Leon’s fist, rippling through my chest. I scratch. I scrape. I bite and gnash my teeth. I dig my nails into his tight flesh and do my best to gain something over him, but Leon’s unshakable, a mountain of control in the face of my yappy mania, and he pins me to the bed.
He draws both my wrists together in one viselike grip. There is no kindness to Leon’s movements: he’s blunt and determined, a tower of strength even at his lowest point, the lowest points to which I drag him.
“You want this?” he asks, giving me a way out.
My wrists are bound between his warm palm. His face hovers far above mine, but together we’re locked in the enclosure of the bunk. When Leon speaks, it’s almost in a whisper. Anything more would be overkill.
If I can have an afternoon — or, wait, an hour — away from my phone… I can do that. I’m sure I can do that. I don’t need to press colorful buttons that burst into animated gold. I don’t need the hypnotic spin of a roulette wheel. I can resist. I just need to be forced at first.
At Leon, I nod.
He draws me bodily to the frame of the bunk and hauls my wrists against the wooden pole. I’m lying at a diagonal, and if I arched my hips, our erections would grind together.
My erection would meet Leon’s cock.
He doesn’t get off on this.
Not the way I do.
Maybe he likes the power over a willing subject.
Maybe he just genuinely hates me this much.
He opens the hinge of the cuff and slides them over my left wrist. Clamps it shut. Above my head, I hear the crick as Leon tightens it. He fastens the cuffs around my submitting right wrist and tightens it. I glance up at him, his expression serious and thoughtful, as though he were composing at a piano. Then his touch leaves me and the sensation of cold hard metal sings against my skin.
I’ve never done this. Privately, I’ve always wanted to but it’s never happened. The secret fantasy of being strung up and at someone else’s mercy.
The sting of the cold unyielding metal is a reminder of how gloriously trapped I am.
It’s weird. I can’t access my phone. I can’t do anything without twisting my own body into knots.
And yet, I’ve never known comfort like this.
I yank my arms around the long hard wood of the pole.
My own long hard wood responds with an enthusiastic leap.
But not from my mind.
My mind still craves flattering validation, soothing dopamine, rushing adrenaline.
I still want my phone.
“Hit me,” I whisper. Leon pauses. Normally I don’t ask outright; I make him reach the point where he does it for me. But I’m thinking if I can be out of it enough, brought sharply to my own body, then I might not waste so much of my mind on this…
I almost laugh.
Leon’s expression is a kind of wariness I’m not used to. Like he actually kinda cares, still.
“I have safe words,” I reiterate. Why won’t he just do what I want? “I know what I want.”
The words are sharp and searching. He examines my face, and God, if his face wasn’t so goddamn attractive, I wish I could just shove a bag over it or something.
I don’t need Leon. I just need someone to fuck me up good and proper as a distraction.
But his blue eyes meet mine, a query in them, an unhappiness behind them.
“I’m not going to hurt you just because you ask,” he states calmly.
A pitiful moan falls from my lips. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand.
“What’s the point of this?” he asks, looking over my bound form as though it’s of no meaning, of no interest, to him. I can feel Normal Leon slowly returning to him. Fuck.
His feet return to the floor and he raises himself up, looking like he’s about to leave.
He raises an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
I bite my lip. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s everything. But my hands are twitching like they need something to hold, something to wrap around. My phone or a cock, I don’t know, it’s all the same at this point…
But Leon looks at me in a way I wish he wouldn’t.
When I don’t say anything, because I can’t find the right words to speak, to prove to him how desperately I need this, Leon shakes his head and repeats, “I’m not going to hurt you.” He sits on his heels and zips up his bag.
“But this?” I whisper, knocking the cuffs against the pole. “What’s this, then?”
Leon’s eyes slide to me, looking almost sly. “I think maybe that’s what you need. To be tied up. Bound. Brought under control.” He stares at me, that thoughtful look darkening his expression. “You know the best part?”
I shake my head, at a loss.
“When you’re like this, you can’t try to control me from below.”
There’s a small smirk at the corner of his mouth. Fuck him. “So what, you’re just gonna leave me like this?”
The smirk widens. “I mean… isn’t this punishment enough?”
No. No, it fucking well isn’t. I want to be bruised and beaten and broken, and I want him to do it to me.
I writhe on the bed, arching my body until I hear thunk after thunk of metal against wood. There’s no way out. He’s just gonna leave me like this — mental torture instead of physical torture.
“Goddammit, L,” I whisper, tilting my head back to stare at the cuffs.
Leon seems to take pity on me. He pauses beside me and then, after a long moment, dangles the keys in front of my face. The cool metal tickles my cheek, and I gaze up at Leon balefully.
“What?” he asks, curious. “I thought you wanted this.”
“I want more.” My voice sounds so pathetic. The key continues to graze my skin, cold and smooth, like Leon himself.
“Well, then,” Leon says, that small smirk still playing at the edge of his mouth. “This should teach you not to be so greedy.”
I want to sob at his words. At how unexpectedly relevant they are. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know I’m addicted, and yet…
“You make me want to be greedy.” I arch my body up, trying to attract his attention. “Kat and all of us… it makes me want to be greedy. A natural state, you know?”
Instead of being charmed by my words, Leon’s brows furrow. He looks somewhat repulsed. “You take too much,” he says, and it’s worse than any pain he could have slammed into me. “What we have with Kat isn’t about taking. It’s about giving. Sharing. Not taking.”
I know this.
I want to scream at him how much better I know this than he seems to, the fractious bastard. But he’s too busy being so high and mighty now that I’m in cuffs and he has free rein over me.
And that’s… that’s kinda what I wanted. It’s kinda what I made him do.
I only have myself to blame, as always.
Leon drops the key onto my cheek. It sits there, burningly cold, then slides off my face when I turn my head. It drops onto the pillow with a soft flump.
“What’s that for?”
“A puzzle. To entertain yourself with. See if you can free yourself.”
Tension floods my stomach as Leon moves away from me. “What, you’re not gonna stay?”
Leon raises an eyebrow. “You wanted this. And now you want me to stay?” His smile is grim. “You don’t get everything you want, T. Maybe this will help you learn that.”
And then he leaves. He leaves me. The door closes with a small snick, and I’m left alone to my scrabbling, persistent thoughts and throbbing, desperate erection.
I don’t know why I put up with that asshole.
He doesn’t even give me what I want.
My phone is still beside me. It sits, staring at me, gleaming black and mirror-bright, the occasional fingerprint streak dulling my most-pressed parts of the screen.
I could get it.
With enough determination, I could reach my phone.
I slide my feet up to my hips, angling my legs into a sideways triangle. My feet ease onto the screen and I press the power button with my big toe.
Power blooms. The screen’s so colorful, so attractive. I want to dive right into it.
Craning my neck, I see I have a whole bunch of unread notifications.
I could just look…
Just looking won’t harm me.
And then I sag bodily into the mattress.
What the fuck am I doing to myself?
I’m tied up and I’m treating it like it’s merely an obstacle to my goal.
Leon was meant to be the end of it. It was meant to end this whirlpool of fucking weakness. He was supposed to fix me the way he fixes everything.
I stare at my phone. I remember the shining, grinning, happy thoughts it made me feel once upon a time.
I want free from this.
I want out.
Maybe I actually know what I want for once.
My eyes close for a long moment, then open, staring at the wooden slats above me. Slats like bars, like prison bars, like I’ve been put in a box and locked away.
I’m not going to let this happen to me. I’m better than this.
I take a deep breath and, adamant, press the phone notification. A list of my contacts appear, short but sweet.
And speaking of sweet…
Kat can’t see me like this.
She’d never understand. Not this. Not my list-long weaknesses. Not Leon. Not our relationship. Not the things I need. Not the dark, fucked-up things my mind craves. The things my body begs for in the dark of night. It’d scare her off. I can’t tell her anything.
But there’s one person on my contacts who can’t leave my life as easily as Kat could.
There’s someone who might actually care enough as Kat would.
My toe hovers above Seth’s name, and then I dial.
The story continues in 5 Boys on the Brain…