Exclusive Excerpt from Tread
by A.G. Carothers
Thursdays had quickly become my favorite day of the week. I spent the rest of the week looking forward to today. Last week, Gavin had said something that got me thinking. It’d been many years since I’d given any thought to submitting to someone again. I hadn’t met anyone who’s presence brought that out in me. Gavin had made fun of me from time to time about how I assessed people, but I think me and Gavin’s new sub have that in common.
Everyone, whether they realize it or not, presents themselves in different but discernible ways. It’s in their posture and the energy they send out. It’s not foolproof by any means. Excellent liars and manipulators can change that about themselves, or people trained for espionage or that kind of thing. Still, your everyday person usually isn’t aware of how they project themselves.
Darius screamed nurturer, Daddy Dom, and maybe a little Service Dom. There’s a part of me that yearned for that connection and wanted to be taken care of. But I had given up on that notion ages ago because who would want to put up with my routines and compulsions? I stopped training service subs a few years ago because most couldn’t handle my demands.
Darius was demanding in a stern-yet-not-assholish way that was super-hot. He was accepting—so far—of my ways and didn’t seem offended. Once he understood I needed to be the one to do things in a certain way, he let me do them without argument or scorn. That was rare in this age of impatience. He was observant and attentive. The way he catered to me could be perceived as submissive in some light, but the commanding way in which he did them crossed the action over that line. There was a difference in asking someone to do something for you and then having something done for you without you asking.
I liked that he didn’t ask.
I walked into the café at eight sharp and headed to my booth. I wiped everything down, took off my jacket, and put my stuff down then went to order. I ordered the same thing every Thursday. Once, in the beginning, when I made this my Thursday routine, the employee had tried to be helpful and preempt my order and had everything ready for me. It was kind of them, and I appreciated the attention to detail and forethought. I had explained to them I’d rather they wait until I made my order. What if I had wanted to be wild that day and have a blueberry muffin instead? It was more polite to wait than assume.
I taught that there was a fine line between knowing what your dominant wanted and assuming what your dominant wanted. It was also far more important to remember how something should be done when it was needed than trying to read minds.
I opened my laptop and logged into the HPD remote desktop. After the first month, Darius had made me my own log-in for his other network, which wasn’t attached to the public café one. I was pleased with his thoughtfulness. My case files were stored on the remote desktop, not my local machine, for security, so I appreciated the extra security layer. I had clicked on the case folder I was currently working on when I saw Darius approach in the corner of my eye. He normally didn’t bring my breakfast; it piqued my curiosity
The wide, almost excited, smile on his face demanded that I return it. I was happy to see him, so it was easy to do.
“Good morning, Abel.” Darius set the coffee and juice down and did something he’s never done before. He slid into the booth on the other side of the table.
“Good morning, Darius. How are you?”
“I’m doin vera well this fine mornin. An’ ye’self?” His accent thickened just enough for it to send tingles through my body.
“Fine,” I unexpectedly squeaked. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Fine. Just fine.” I smiled sheepishly, hoping the blush on my face wasn’t too bright.
“What are you doing tomorrow night?”
“Tomorrow is Friday night.”
“Yes.” He leaned on the table, putting his forearms on the edge. “What are you doing?”
“Cleaning the pantry and the refrigerator out, ordering Italian, and watching Kitchen Nightmares.” I ran down my short mental list.
“Kitchen Nightmares, huh?”
“After you clean out your pantry and refrigerator?”
I nodded again.
“Is that so you don’t feel shame about your own kitchen when Gordon is yelling at the restaurant owners about how filthy they are?”
Laughter barked out of me. “Yes. That’s it exactly.”
Teeth flashed at me, and I lowered my head.
“May I cook you Italian instead of you ordering it?”
I raised my head again and arched an eyebrow. What was he asking?
He continued, “I can make it at my place and bring it over, or if it’s okay with you, I can cook at your place.”
“You don’t want me to go over to your place?”
“No, I’d love for you to come to my place. I just didn’t want to interrupt your routine too much.”
“That’s…that’s very thoughtful of you. No one has done that before.” I was at a loss for words.
“So, is that a yes?” He beamed at me, not acknowledging my nervousness.
“Yes, I would like it very much if you came to my house and cooked for me.”
“Excellent. I’ll be back later, and you can give me your number.”
He seemed pleased as he scooted out and headed back to the busy counter. There was a sway to his step as the pleats of his kilt brushed back and forth across his toned thighs.
I immediately pulled out my phone and texted Gavin. I had no idea what to do. I hadn’t had a date in years, and the only person who’d been in my house since I stopped training was Gavin. I quickly typed out what had just happened. I put my phone down and took a deep breath.
The reality that Darius MacLeod was coming to my house and cooking me dinner sunk in. I picked up my phone again.
Me: Darius is coming over to my house tomorrow night and cooking dinner. My house is a disaster zone! There’s no way that it is fit for company!!!!!
I quickly logged out of everything, including my forgotten laptop, packed up, and rushed home.