Exclusive Excerpt from Kink Aware
by Morticia Knight
No longer angry but embarrassed, Ray made his way to the breakroom. When he entered, he saw that Cruella had a glass of carrot juice in front of them. Ray assumed it had protein powder in it, which was part of their new effort to get more nutrition.
“Hey. Is it okay if I sit down?” He wasn’t sure if he was about to be kicked out after a good dressing down.
Cruella gestured to the chair across from them. “Please.”
Ray gingerly took a seat then folded his hands and placed them on the table, waiting for a cue from Cruella.
Cruella took a sip of their drink then locked eyes with him. “So, I’ve had a moment to consider what just happened, and why I got so upset. The other night when you grabbed and moved me so I wasn’t facing Tucker anymore, I reacted to being manhandled. But it’s more than that.” They reached across the table and laid their hand across his clutched ones. “Baby, I understand the part where you want to protect me, I do. But I went through a huge battle to wrench my life back from Tucker, and that’s an accomplishment I’m incredibly proud of. Not you or anyone else gets to decide how I handle that going forward. That’s my battle, my challenge, if he should continue to appear in my life for whatever inane reason he might have.”
Cruella let him go then sat back. “Hon, you’ll never fully grasp what my relationship with Tucker did to me, how it affected who I am. How he kept watch over me night and day, dictated how I ate, who I saw, what I wore, told me who I was or wasn’t allowed to be. But that’s okay. I escaped his tyranny and I love me now. And I want you to be a part of my new life—however, that can’t happen if you keep trying to make my decisions and control my world for me. Even if those decisions are done from the kindness of your sweet, caring heart, I can’t have that anymore. Discussions are welcome, input encouraged, but conclusions are up to me.”
Shit. He hadn’t seen Cruella’s life with Tucker through their lens, only his own. “I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am. I never took the time to consider any of that. And I don’t view you as incapable, I really don’t.” He winced as he struggled to find the words to get his feelings across. “When I look back to a year ago, when you were first coming here and I’d see the bruises…” He swallowed past a lump in his throat. “I never said anything. I mean, yeah, the perfunctory ‘how are you’, but I never delved deeper.” He lifted his gaze. “I’m sorry I didn’t try to help you then when you really needed it.”
Cruella rose from the chair then came around the rectangular table to take a seat next to him. They wrapped their arms around him and he clutched them back, burying his face in their hair as a few pesky tears sneaked their way out.
“Shh, baby. It’s okay. I was quite skilled at hiding and pretending.” Cruella rubbed his back in soft circles. “I never expected anyone to come in and save me. I knew I’d fucked up.” They drew back then put two fingers under Ray’s chin, encouraging him to meet their gaze. “The relationship we’re building is something I’m very excited about. I’m learning so many things about myself I never knew existed and I’m sensing you’ll be by my side as I learn even more.” Cruella brushed his hair back. “Which brings me to something I’ve been wanting to seriously discuss with you.” The corner of their mouth quirked in a smile. “This wasn’t where I’d envisioned such a conversation taking place, but sometimes we can’t time things perfectly.”
Ray took a chance and gathered their hands in his own. “Sure, whatever you want.”
Cruella chuckled. “Off to a good start.”
Ray tilted his head. “How do you mean?”
“We’ve been playing around with domination, the bondage and so on.” Cruella traced the tip of one finger down the side of his face then along his jaw. “And I know how much you enjoy being my good boy.”
Heat rose under Ray’s skin. “Yeah. A lot.”
Cruella broke into a wide smile. “Then what do you think about making a more formal arrangement with me as your Top?”