“Damn it!” Kadyn growled his frustration as he slammed his hand hard against the steering wheel. “Ouch!” Okay, maybe he hit it just a tad too hard. “I’ve gone and done it again. You’d think someone with even a miniscule amount of common sense and a Top, would eventually learn to say ‘no’. I bet Rene and Kyler never pull something like this. Okay, so they might have at one time. But bet they don’t keep repeating the same infraction over and over again. Surely they learn at some point in time. Seems like everybody does; just not me,” he lamented as leaned his head back, closed his eyes and brought his muttering to an end. Griping about it wasn’t doing him any good anyway.
Getting out of his car, he headed towards the rear of the candy shop. Entering the back door as quietly as possible, he stopped and listened. “Doesn’t sound all that busy,” he mused, undecided if that was a good sign or a bad one. He took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and walked into the customer service area of his store.
Ben looked passed the young girl he was serving and glared at him. Emily merely glanced up, sighed and continued with what she’d been doing. His father, Samuel, was working the cash register and appeared somewhat flustered.
“Sorry I was gone longer than I planned,” Kadyn sincerely offered his apology as he stepped up beside the older gentleman. “I’ll take over now, Dad. I can’t thank you enough for filling in for me. Guess you’d like to go home and rest now, right?”
“That would be nice, Son. First I’ll drop in next door to see if your mother is ready to go home.”
“That’s right. I forgot she was helping out at Logan’s beauty parlour today.” Kadyn helped his father on with his sweater and walked him to the door. “I’ll see you both tonight at the dance…..if Logan doesn’t kill me first.” He mumbled this last part under his breath.
Returning to the cash, he rang in the purchases made by a family of five and thanks them for dropping by. Seeing the store now empty with the exception of his two employees, Kadyn pulled up two colourful signs from behind the counter and placed them in the large front windows. They read ‘Closing early in order to take part in our annual Jade Heights’ Annual Summer Festival’.
“Why earlier than originally agreed upon, Kadyn?” Ben enquired. “We were going to stay opened until six and it’s not yet five-thirty.”
“The crowds are thinning out as folks go home to get ready for this evening’s events. Bet you can use the extra time grooming to impress your date, Ben,” he teased and barely managed to duck out of the way of the hand coming his way to clip his ear.
“I want none of your sass, young man. You’re not exactly in my good graces as it is,” Ben grumbled.
Kadyn chuckled and turned to the woman smiling at their antics. “Sorry I wasn’t back in time for you to go watch Shauna getting her hair done, Emily. I’ll wanna make up in some small way the inconvenience I caused you and Ben by giving you some time off with pay. You were supposed to finish at six but I’ll be paying you both until eight.”
“But, Kadyn, that’s over two hours each,” Emily protested.
“Hey, you guys are the best employees a guy can have and it seems I’m forever taking advantage of that, so I owe you. It’s a done deal!” Kadyn insisted. “Now the two of you get out of here so I can close up shop,” he requested and was happy to see them scramble to comply with his wishes.
“See you both at the dance. Emily, tell Shauna we’ll be rooting for her,” he hollered as they hurried out the door.
He locked up and partially lowered the window shades. Then he tallied up the day’s receipts and secured all the cash in the safe before heading upstairs.
A quick glance at the clock on the nightstand had him once again sighing out his frustration when he saw the red numbers flashing six o’clock. He was hot, tired and dirty; badly in need of a shower and some down time.
Twenty minutes later, he stretched out on the bed. He was stark naked and although still damp, was able to fall asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
It was nearing seven PM when Logan walked into their bedroom. He shook his head in loving exasperation when he saw his partner. Gently carding his hand through the now dry curls, he decided not to awaken the younger man just yet. Instead, he headed into their en suite, undressing as he did so. Seeing the pile of clothes on the floor, he stooped and gathered them up.
“How the hell did he get these so filthy?” Logan mused as he dropped the soiled clothing into the hamper along with his own.
Refreshed and raring to go, Logan returned to the bedroom about fifteen minutes later. After slipping on clean underwear, he lightly swatted his partner’s bare butt. “Time to get up, Babe. We’ve a big evening ahead of us. Get some boxers and a t-shirt on, and then come downstairs. I’ll get us a snack.”
“I kinda made a mess of things today, Logan,” Kadyn readily confessed as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
“I’ve heard rumours. But being as I work in a hair salon, it’s hard to tell how much has been exaggerated. Not that it matters right now, as we’ll be going over all the details tomorrow. Now get a move on,” Logan instructed, going to their dresser and tossing over the underwear.
“But Logan, I think we should discuss it now.”
“And just whose decision is that to make, Brat?”
“Yours,” Kadyn acknowledged with a slight grimace as he pulled his t-shirt over his head and picked up his boxers. He trusted Logan to do what worked best for them in any given situation and vowed to be patient, or at least try.
In the kitchen, they chatted comfortably over soup and sandwiches with Logan making sure to keep the conversation light and dealing only with their evening plans.
“I’m glad we’re dressing up, Logan. I’ve always liked wearing a tuxedo. It makes for a nice change. And I can hardly wait to dance with you,” Kadyn enthusiastically declared.
“Well I can’t say I’m overly fond of my penguin suit, but I am looking forward to waltzing around the ballroom with you in my arms.” Logan smiled fondly at the young man sitting across from him.
After donning their formal wear, they left the house for a long awaited main event celebrating the festival marking the end of Summer.
“You know, I’m almost glad this week is over. This year’s festival seems to have gone on forever and I’ll be relieved to have things get back to normal.” Kyler was leaning against the bar and watching his two partners as they danced across the floor to an old 50’s song.
“I just might have to agree with you,” Rene nodded. “It started with a parade, a week-long street fair which included numerous contests, nightly fireworks, travelling carnival, a beauty pageant, and ending now with this fancy dance,” Rene answered. “A lot of hard work went into it all; especially this ballroom décor.”
“Someone sure went overboard with the balloons and streamers, and the band is much better than last year’s,” Kyler commented. He turned to smirk at Rene who was standing next to him. “Gotta tell you, my men look sexy out there. Only thing I like more than watching them dance at one of these affairs is to be dancing with one of them myself.”
“Well, I have to admit that they certainly look sexier than my husband does at the moment,” Rene chuckled at the sight of Zack gently swaying to the music with the short, gray-haired woman who had once been his childhood nanny.
“You fellas enjoying yourselves?” Kadyn inquired as he joined his friends. Logan had left him momentarily while he went to the men’s room. Then he’d be dancing with Shauna, at Kadyn’s insistence, so the young man had a few minutes to talk with Rene and Kyler.
“Congrats, Kadyn,” Rene enthused. “It was nice to see the girl you sponsored win the Miss Jade Heights Pageant.”
“Yeah, I’m happy for her. The money she won will sure come in handy when she starts university next in a couple of weeks. She’s already had to take out a fair-size student loan as it is. It costs a small fortune to get an education?”
“Humph, tell me about it!” Kyler grumbled. “I just finish paying off my university debt last week, and that had a lot to do with my partners helping me out.” He smiled when Patrick walked up to him, took the drink out of his hand and pulled him onto the dance floor. “See you later, guys,” he called out over his shoulder.
“How come Logan didn’t sponsor a young lady this evening, Kadyn?” Rene asked, bringing the subject back to one of this evening’s main events.
“Guess he thought no one would want to be ‘Miss Curl Up & Dye’,” Kadyn replied with a laugh.
“Whereas, Shauna was perfectly happy being ‘Miss Candy Man’s Shoppe’,” Rene observed.
“Yeah, she did.”
“I know she was frightened by the catwalk, but I bet she now feels conquering her fears was worth it. Right?”
“Looks like it,” Kadyn murmured, his words a little garbled.
“Where are your folks, K?”
“Huh? Oh, they left a while ago. One dance and they were ready to call it quits. They got a ride home with Patrick’s parents.”
“Oh, that’s right. They all live in the same senior’s complex, right?”
“Hmmm,” Kadyn vaguely responded.
Realizing his friend’s mind was elsewhere, Rene smiled and went in search of his husband. “He’s all yours if you can get his attention,” he teased as Logan walked up. He chuckled at the expression of confusion that crossed the other man’s face.
As the evening progress, Logan easily tuned in to Kadyn’s growing tendency to cling and his inattentiveness. It wasn’t difficult to figure out that his Brat was beginning to agonize over unfinished issues.
“It’s time to head home, babe. We need to make the rounds and say goodnight to a few friends,” he announced, surprising his partner.
“But it’s too early,” Kadyn protested, although rather half-heartedly. He truly wanted to leave, but had mixed emotions to what he’d be facing once they arrived home. But truth be told, it was in moments like this that he found relief to be leaving the decision-making in the hands of his Top.
The dilemma they still had to deal with resulted in him somewhat reluctantly, but also somewhat willingly, trailing along behind Logan to exchange farewells with several people.
Walking through the back door of their home, Logan immediately instructed Kadyn to get ready for bed while he locked up.
“We have to talk, Brat. But don’t for one moment entertain the thought that we’re baking cookies after our discussion. It’s much too late for that particular activity.”
“But we’ll do it tomorrow, right?” Kadyn asked uncertainly, fearing his long-time practice of getting his world back on track after an upheaval was about to change.
“Of course, love,” Logan assured his partner. He hadn’t yet learned the reason behind this unique need, but he’d always make an effort to fulfill it.
Several minutes later, he entered the master bedroom just as Kadyn was coming out of the en suite, and shook his head when the younger man bounced into the middle of their bed. Kadyn was wearing his usual sleeping attire which consisted of boxers and a t-shirt.
Logan was impressed to see no clothing lying about the room. Kadyn must have already hung up his dress clothes, probably in hopes of earning brownie points, so Logan did the same. “I’ll be with you in a few moments, babe,” he mumbled into the undershirt he was pulling on over his head as he walked into the bathroom.
True to his word, the older man was soon sitting on the side of the bed and reaching for his partner. “It’s time we talked about your day, Kadyn.”
“What all have you heard so far?”
“It doesn’t matter what I have or haven’t heard. I am only interested in your take on things.” Logan put his arm around Kadyn’s shoulder in an attempt to keep him from sliding off the side of the bed out of sheer nervousness.
“Annie Duncan showed up at the shop in a panic. She needed her hair done but had forgotten to book an appointment and you no longer had any openings. She asked me to take her to Vernon where a hairdresser was waiting to take care of her.” Kadyn plucked fretfully at the edge of his clothing. He spoke hurriedly in hopes of getting this over as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, his rapid-fire speech was causing him to run out of breath so he gulped in some air and decided to slow down.
“I told her my store was opened for the day and that I didn’t think I should take the chance on becoming short-staffed. I mentioned that I already had my Dad helping out, but she wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Kadyn chose to ignore his niggling conscious presently reminding him once again that he should have been a little firmer in his refusal.
“I felt bad for her, Logan. She started crying, saying no one was available to take her. Then she started saying that I’d never forgiven her for being involved with that guys who beat me up a couple of years ago. She’d repeatedly said she was sorry but although I had promised that I really had forgiven her, that I was obviously lying all along. She pointed out that with it being lunchtime, my store wasn’t busy and we would only be gone an hour anyway.” Kadyn paused again and took a deep breath before tentatively glancing up at his Top. “Only it took a lot longer,” he mumbled.
“Why? What’s happened?”
“She had lied. Not only did she get her hair done, but she also had a facial, manicure and pedicure. And if that wasn’t bad enough, on the trip back I had a flat tire.” Kadyn hung his head and sorrowfully admitted, “I shouldn’t have taken her in the first place.”
“You are certainly right about that!” Logan firmly agreed. He figured he had also just received an explanation for the filthy clothes he’d found earlier. “What should you have done when she kept insisting, Kadyn?”
“Stuck by my guns and refused her request.” Kadyn took another deep sigh and his shoulders drooped at the thought of once again not taking the time to think things through and letting someone take advantage of his resilient tradition of wanting to please everyone.
“I do not wish to alter your kind, giving nature, sweetheart; but you’ve got to learn when it is appropriate to say ‘no’ and mean it. We’ve discussed this habit of yours several times in the past, Kadyn. We decided you had to do something to stop doing whatever someone else wanted no matter the cost. Is that not correct?”
“Yeah, it is.” Kadyn reluctantly concurred.
“What did I tell you I’d do if this happened again?”
“You’d spank me. I don’t wanna be spanked, Logan.”
“Good! Then it should make a longer-lasting impression than writing lines apparently did.” Although Logan was remaining stern, he wasn’t lacking in either understanding or compassion. But he knew his Brat definitely needed help in this area of his life and truly hoped physical chastisement would work where other methods of retribution had failed to make much of a difference.
The spanking he administered wasn’t harsh, but he had no doubt it got the message across. He also trusted it to rid his Brat of any guilt the young man was dealing with over today’s waywardness.
Half an hour passed with the two men lying on the bed, entangled in each other’s arms. Logan’s soothing mantra had played out and Kadyn’s heavy sobs had subsided until only the occasional sniff or hiccup remained.
“Just a quick recap, love. What did you learn tonight?” Logan softly asked. He was spooned around his lover, gently kissing the back of Kadyn’s neck.
“Not to try pleasing someone at the expense of someone else.”
Not exactly the take Logan would have put on it, but he let it slide. He smiled at the mumbled addition of, “not even at the expense of only me.”
“Most definitely as it is only you who gets punished, right?”
“Yeah, even though it hardly seems fair. And just so you aware of it, my butt really hurts.”
“Then my work here is done,” Logan kibitzed and chuckled when an elbow stabbed him in the stomach. He frowned, somewhat confused when he heard a faint snickering.
“She never even got a chance to be in the pageant, you know,” Kadyn offered this bit of information out of the blue.
“How come?” Logan’s curiosity had been piqued.
“Cause those interested in participating had to register by four o’clock and we didn’t make it back in time.” There was a pause and then a smugly muttered, “It serves her right, too.”
“Well it certainly seems to fall under the heading of ‘poetic justice’, I believe,” Logan commented, somewhat gladdened by his Brat grasping for a more positive note in having been uncaringly put in a compromising position that had led to him getting into trouble.
“We’re okay now, Logan?” Kadyn inquired, turning in his Top’s arms to face the bigger man. He absently rubbed his hand lightly over Logan’s beard.
“We are always okay, my precious Brat; no matter how often we have to revisit this sometimes troublesome matter. I love you too much for it to be any other way. But there is another subject that’s never been answered to my satisfaction.” Logan smiled at the look of expectation in Kadyn’s blue eyes. “What’s with the cookie baking?”
Kadyn grinned as he began his explanation. “My parents never actually punished me when I did something to displease them, but I sure knew I’d done so. My dad would just roll his eyes and walk off. I know you roll your eyes, but you never walk off. I guess he expected my mom to take care of things like that. Only she never actually did anything either. She’d just kinda stop noticing me. At least that’s how it felt to me; it was as if they were mad at each other when it was I who had done wrong, and it seemed to go on for days. I don’t think they ever realized how sad it made me, ‘cause I truly believed they’d never hurt my feelings on purpose. Anyway, I always figured the worse was over when my mom would make me cookies.”
“And now you still associate the treat of warm, fresh-baked cookies and cold milk with forgiveness,” Logan tenderly mused. “Hmm, I can live with that.”
“Yeah, me too.” Kadyn’s eyes shone with love and admiration for this man who with every deed recommitted to being his significant other for the rest of his life.