Derek’s a 37-year-old Dom looking for love and submission without much success. His mother’s totally supportive of his BDSM lifestyle—though she wonders what she did or didn't do to cause her son to like hitting people: should she have breastfed?—and his best friends Brin and Ferg are disgustingly happy together. He lives in Bellview, a wealthy New England town recently rocked by a scandal. Laura Moredock, a Wallstreet bigwig, was arrested for running a Ponzi scheme that left a lot of Bellview residents hurting—including Derek, who invested the entire nest egg for his photography studio with Moredock Investments.
Derek’s got a lot of built up resentment for the Moredocks, especially the party-boy son, Landon, who's a suspect in the SEC's investigation. But there’s a lot Derek doesn’t know about Landon, and what Landon himself lost when his mother was arrested. In this excerpt, Derek encounters Landon working at Taco Hub, a shitty burrito joint. He wants to have a how-mighty-are-the-fallen moment of triumph, but something about Landon changes his mind.
“No,” Brin said, still straining to see Landon. “Nope. That’s not Landon Moredock. That’s some high school dropout with pimples on his ass. Look at his shoes.” He turned back to his burrito. “Landon Moredock would never look so appallingly grease-greasy-greaserton.”
“It’s Taco Hub,” Ferg said. “Everything’s greasy.”
“Seriously. Why do you bring me here? We’re breaking up.”
“That’s definitely Landon,” Derek said. “I can’t believe he actually did it.”
“Did what?” Ferg asked.
“I saw him the other day downtown, looking for work. I told him this place was hiring.” He glanced at the poster in the window, which showed a group of racially diverse people in green-and-yellow uniforms under the headline: NOW HIRING. DO YOU “HUB” WHAT IT TAKES?
“Well, that was sweet of you,” Brin said. “He loses you fifteen thousand dollars, and you point him toward one of these mysterious ‘jobs’ he’s only heard tell of in legend. And Mr. Morecock certainly seems to hub what it takes. He blends right in.”
Brin shifted to grab one of Ferg’s chips and accidentally knocked his water over. He squealed as it dripped off the table and onto the booth seat, soaking his Vera Bradley bag.
Ferg sighed and righted the cup. “How about you ask, and I’ll hand you some chips?”
“How about you move your lug butt so I can take Vera to the bathroom and run her under the dryer?”
Landon walked by with a water pitcher.
“Hey,” Brin called.
Landon turned, face blank.
Brin nodded at his cup. “Would you mind refilling my water? It seems to have mysteriously vanished.”
Derek tensed as Landon approached the table. He felt strange—still guilty about what he’d said to Landon the other day. Still embarrassed he’d even considered sending that photo to Kim. He glanced at Landon’s uniform. The yellow nametag read “Lane,” not “Landon.”
Derek had never thought of him as anyone but Landon Moredock—a name from the newspapers. But here was a kid who looked tired, whose hair stuck up in the back, who liked dogs. Who went by Lane.
“You don’t know where it went, do you?” Brin asked Lane. “My water?”
“Brin,” Ferg warned.
“I’m just asking.”
Lane refilled Brin’s cup. Derek saw that his hand shook. He filled it too full, and a little water ran down the side of the cup and onto the table.
“When,” Brin said loudly.
Lane started, righting the pitcher. He looked unfocused. Derek could see how tight his shoulders were, how shallow his breathing. And then Derek noticed something else. Bruising, on both wrists.
What the hell?
“Sorry, I forget you’ve probably never done this before,” Brin said, pulling his water close to him. “You want to stop when the cup is full, just like the butler used to do.”
“Brin!” Ferg snapped.
Lane hurried back to the counter.
“What’s up his ass?” Brin asked. “Maybe nothing, now that his sugar daddy’s gone. Or does he have others? An endless parade of father figures who buy him pretty things and spank him when he’s naughty?”
“You are this close,” Ferg said.
“To paradise?” Brin kissed Ferg’s cheek. “I know.”
“To a paddling. You leave that boy alone.”
Derek continued to watch Lane as he walked across the seating area with his pitcher clutched to him like a shield and filled the cups at another table. He dropped a couple of straws on the floor and bent to pick them up. He moved slowly, stiffly.
Hurt, Derek thought. He’s definitely hurt.
Something protective surfaced in him. Yeah, it was Landon Moredock, someone Derek had fantasized about hurting on more than one occasion. But there was nothing satisfying about seeing him look so tired, tense, and unwell.
Or about seeing him in a Taco Hub apron.
Well, maybe there was something satisfying about that. You can work for your money just like the rest of us, Landon.
The feeling wore thin quickly.
And now, if you head over to Lisa Henry's blog, you can meet Lane. The Good Boy is Out March 26th from Loose Id.