Love & Stitches at The Asylum Part Twenty-Eight
Happy Sunday, Asylum peeps!
It's cold here today in Anniston Falls. Never fear, though. We're keeping warm in the bar with another installment of Love & Stitches!
It's been a busy week! In case you missed it, Broken Justice is out, and so is the first ebook book volume of Love & Stitches. In case that didn't keep the Core busy enough, we added the Asylum Box Set Volume 2 to digital stores.
Wherever you are, we hope you've got your favorite beverage and some time to enjoy all the fun!
Challenge number one: Get through a Sub Summit in one piece.
Challenge number two: Pull off the same thing with a Board meeting.
Yeah, that’s gonna be a bit trickier.
Reed wrinkled his nose. “Hopefully, if the Doms are all on board when I present this to the Board, they won’t start fights between them about it. We’ll just have to let them know how well we handled shit so they’ll be like ‘Yeah, we can’t behave worse than the subs, that’d be embarrassing’.”
Drew came out of the galley with a tray of food, heading toward the gym. “Have a good one, guys. I’m bringing my Dom his coffee and breakfast.”
“Okay, but come back up when you get a chance. Danny’s gonna want to see you.” Speaking of which… Reed pulled out his phone, shooting a text to Jared to let them know when Danny would be ready for visitors. “I’ll let you know how things go after we share our ideas with The Board and what the schedule’s gonna look like.”
“Thanks for that. And I’m happy to show them how to grade papers. It’s harder to put together a good exam than you think.” Shifting the heavy tray from one side to the other, Drew supported its weight with his jutted hip. “Anyway, that’s all boring. I left some caramel brownies baking in the oven for you to take to the clinic when you go. They should be out in ten minutes.”
Reed grinned when Pike did a little happy dance on Dallas’ lap. “I’ll go grab them when they’re done. Thanks, man. Catch you later.” He looked around at the remaining subs as the doors closed behind Drew, blowing out a breath. “And...thanks for putting up with all that. I’m really happy things went good and we’ve got this all settled. We should do this more often, it’s...really cool just getting some time to hash things out and whatever.”
“Why not do it whenever there’s a Board meeting scheduled? Beforehand, so you can add your agenda items as well?” Curtis made the suggestion, glancing up from where he pointed out a spot where Matt hadn’t gotten all of the white paste off the brass. “You can elect a president to present them to the Board, to represent the subs’ interests. You’re all members here too, afterall.”
A slanted smile curved Wren’s lips as he looked up from where he’d been playing with Jamie’s hair. “Since this went so well under your leadership, I think you’re the obvious choice, Reed. I also know you’ll hate the idea, so I’m interested to see how this will play out.”
“You’re starting to sound like Jared.” Reed shot Wren a mock glare, then laughed and shook his head. “If that was a nomination, I just gotta tell you guys, I’d be a really bad choice. This wasn’t so bad, but every time? No way. I have a hard enough time managing the menu and keeping things kinda organized in the galley.”
Playing one of Noah’s favorite candy games on his phone, volume off, colors bouncing all over the screen, Jamie glanced briefly at Reed. “I nominate Quint. He’s the most likely for the Doms to listen to.”
“That’s a really good idea.” Keiran smiled at him, then checked his phone, slipping into the galley, speaking as the door swung wide. There was the sound of the oven door opening and closing. “I second that.”
“All in favor?” Curtis raised his hand.
Fingers caught in a string he’d found on Dallas’ boxer brief, Pike tugged, then lifted his other hand. “Totally agree. Quint is really good at managing the Doms and he’s got a way of keeping them from going nuts about stuff. And he’ll be able to make anything we suggest sound good.”
Avery raised his hand, as did Matt and Dallas.
“I’m in, obv.” Jamie stuck his foot in the air, both his hands occupied with the game.
Wren raised his hand, then brought it back to Jamie’s hair. “I think this is probably the best option. And the Doms will see we’re serious with this choice. Which is important. If we’re going to present things to them, it should be done without...any unnecessary emotions or distractions. Not to say you’d do that, Reed, but—”
“No, I’d definitely do that. I know the stuff I’m not good at and that’s right at the top of the list.” Reed relaxed a bit, bracing his hip against the side of the closest stool, air coming a bit easier now that he wasn’t being drafted to run things for the next forever. “I nominate Pike to tell Quint. I think, with how cute and spoiled he is, it’s pretty much a done deal.”
Sticking out his tongue at Reed, Pike snickered. “True, but ya don’t gotta call me out like that.” His next tug on the string that was looped around all his fingers lifted Dallas’ leg with it. “Are those brownies ready? I can smell them from here and I nominate a snack break.”
“The brownies were for the clinic, trouble.” Holding Pike’s wrist with one hand, Dallas unwound the gray string from his fingers. “Stop that before I have to show everyone here what they’re missing.”
Wiggling his brows as Keiran came out of the galley with the brownies set up all nice on a tray, Reed caught Dallas’ eye. “You’d have to beat them off with a stick. It’s a good thing all the Doms—and switches—don’t start following Seth’s lead with the junk mail. None of us would get anything done.”
“I don’t even know how drunk Noah would have to be to do something like that.” Jamie muttered the commentary at his phone screen.
“Dead drunk. And someone else would need to take the pic. Same for Law.” Taking over for Matt, Curtis put some elbow grease into the rubbing.
Not really wanting anyone to figure out how to get a mass text out with Noah’s dick—that would be too fucking weird and Reed didn’t want to have to trash another phone, on purpose this time—he scrambled for a change of subject. “Speaking of mail, do you think a sub summit group text would be a good idea? Like, so Quint could get in touch with us all for meetings? I could see all kinds of problems if it’s another early one and Noah catches Avery kidnapping Jamie or Wren.”
“How come they all have to be secret?” Arms crossed, Matt scowled at Curtis as his Dom went back over all the work he’d done. “And I don’t think switches should get to vote twice. This is an exception.”
Keiran lifted a brow at him. “I disagree. Fine, I get how it might seem unfair, but look at it this way. They have the responsibilities of Doms and deal with a lot of the same issues as subs. They can give our concerns extra weight in the board meetings because they understand where we’re coming from. I don’t like the idea of them being excluded in any way. They face enough issues with members who don’t understand them. Let’s...not have them dealing with the same thing among the Core?”
Shaking his head, Curtis stopped rubbing, hands still on the tap. “I get it. We have a lot of power because we can vote as Doms and as Board members. We could easily veto things here before they even get off the ground if they’re contrary to the interests of the Doms and Board. For better or worse, we have a lot of sway and that can’t be taken lightly.”
“I think...and it’s kinda awkward, because you’re my Dom, so please know it’s not personal? And Dallas, you’re one of my closest friends.” Reed was very much looking forward to Quint running things, but...yeah, this was still his meeting. “I agree with Matt. And I get what you’re saying, Keir. They still have a say and we’re not gonna shut them down just because they’re switches. But the vote on anything...they can’t vote as subs, then again as Doms. If the Doms decide they can’t vote on stuff we bring up, then cool. They vote with us. But...does that make sense?”
Keiran folded his arms over his chest, still not looking too happy. “You’re forcing them to have to be one or the other. I’ll go with the majority, but it doesn’t...feel right. It’s like they have to choose and they’re both.”
“I’m a Board member first, Keiran. I’ll always vote in the interest of the Club first, and that might not always align with the interest of the subs. That’s just where my loyalties and responsibilities need to be, but that shouldn’t get in the way of debate and discussion here.” Water rushed into the sink, Curtis turning on the sink faucet to wash his hands. “But I do appreciate the opportunity to fit in with you all on occasion when you’re having fun.”
Sighing a little, Keiran carried the tray over to the sub’s table and slid in to sit beside Dallas. His lips curved when Pike started reaching for a brownie, then drew his hand back as though he was trying to behave himself. Picking up a brownie, Keiran handed it to him, then turned his attention to the rest of the room as he leaned against Dallas’ side. “If it’s not an issue for either of you, then I’m okay with it. And I like the idea of doing this before Board meetings.” He glanced over at Matt. “I don’t think they have to be secret, but it’s kinda fun to slip away. If we do decide to be a little naughty, the secrecy could come in handy.”
“It’s never really one-hundredpercent secret, after all.” Leaning in, Dallas stole a quick bite of Pike’s brownie. “Lap tax.”
Pike cocked his head, seeming to accept Dallas’ reasoning as he took a big bite. He spoke around a mouthful. “So these meetings won’t always be all serious? From the way y’all talked about them I thought it was gonna be wild. Like...I don’t know, orgies and gambling and everyone naked before the Doms came and beat all our asses? I also thought at least two people would be unconscious after a huge fight. That part probably woulda sucked. And I would’ve missed out on breakfast because...well, all the fucking.”
“Um, no offense? But ew?” Matt finished cutting up a bunch of oranges and setting them in the juicer with a pitcher under the spout. “I am not into orgies. Or screwing around. Mostly.”
Choking back a laugh at the last part, Reed shook his head. “As wild as things usually get is some fighting, but...yeah, that brings the Doms and we get fuck all accomplished. We probably could have some fun, though. Talk about stuff that’s not so serious. Like how we’re gonna deal with the cliques. Pranks. Or we could bet on silly stuff, like whether you’ll make it through the first hour of running the tables before you drop something or swear at someone.”
“Or how many sentences Jamie’s gonna get out before he swaps in the wrong word.” Avery teased from his perch, reaching a hand down toward Keiran. “Brownie?”
Picking up one of the biggest ones on the tray, Keiran held it up to him, then moved it out of reach as he rose up to stand on the booth. “Kiss?”
Avery leaned over, one arm looped around a supporting beam to swipe his tongue over Keiran’s lips before he sank into a deep kiss. Breaking away, he made a contented sound. “Nevermind. That was sweet enough.”
“It was, but take your brownie anyway.” Keiran kissed him again before handing him the brownie. “And come down here and snuggle. My lap won’t be as hard on your ass as that beam. I’m also asking Dallas to order you to ice your hands. Not because I think you can’t take it, but...it would make me feel a bit better.”
“Does this mean you don’t want a souvenir copy of my longest beating yet?” Gingerly hopping down from the beam, Avery landed on the seat of the booth behind where Dallas sat with Pike. “I kept one for review to see if I can do anything better in the future.”
Snapping his fingers, Dallas pointed at Avery. “Don’t be a smartass. Get the ice and sit with my boy before you stress him out. You’re disrespecting your Dom’s correction.”
Exchanging a look with Matt, Reed went around the bar to fetch Avery some ice in a bar towel. “How do I put this? Respectfully, Dallas—and Keiran? Sub summit. No orders.” He went over to Avery and handed him the makeshift ice pack. “Pretend to be human for a bit, dude. We get it, you’re a badass who feels no pain. But ya don’t gotta rub it in. That looks like it hurts, so indulge us. Please.”
Nudging Keiran to sit, Avery nodded. “Thanks. I...it does hurt, but I hurt most here.” He pointed a thumb to his chest. “The rest...I was serious. I want to learn how to take as much as I need to so I learn my lesson. I don’t want my Dom to have to be soft on me because I break.”
“Okay, but...that’s not up to you, right.” Reed patted Avery’s shoulder. “It’s Rhodey, he’ll give you exactly what he thinks you need. Like Noah did with Wren. I get it, sometimes when you feel like shit about messing up, the punishment doesn’t make it go away. It’s part of the whole...payment, but not the whole thing. Ya kinda have to sit with the guilt and eventually other shit happens and it...fades. But you don’t forget.”
Settling on Keiran’s lap, Avery curved his hands around the ice pack, navy gaze on the tabletop. “No. No, I’ll never let myself forget. A single moment.”
Keiran kissed the side of his neck, speaking softly. “Was it worth it? I hope you know, if I’d been here, I would have been right by your side. For the crime and the punishment. I understand why we can’t do things like that, but...for our family, it’s hard to consider any limits. I love how fiercely protective you can be. Someone tried to hurt Jamie and Danny. And that will never go unpunished.”
Always honest to a fault, Avery nodded. “It was, for Danny.”
“But…” Wren lifted his head, frowning at Avery. “Trevor was trying to hurt Jamie. I love Danny too, but this wasn’t about him. Jamie defended me and I did what I could to stop Trevor from ever going after him again. I went too far...it didn’t help him when I upset Noah and Jared…” He shook his head, looking a bit frustrated and confused. “With everything that came of it, it wasn’t worth it. I should have done nothing more than I was asked. And actually been there with Jamie after. I’ll do better. I have to.”
Jamie opened his mouth to say something, already stroking Wren’s arm, but Avery cut him off.
“It’s fine. It wasn’t worth it for you to do that for Jamie, but it was worth it to me to do for Danny. We all have our lines. Even if I am sad about crossing them. Keiran’s right.” Avery gave his co-sub a small smile, kissing his cheek. “We know when someone is worth the pain.”
Chewing on his bottom lip, Wren stared down at his hands. “He’s worth the pain. I wasn’t saying… I’m sorry, I’m not explaining this well. I want to be a good sub. And a good friend. And…” He met Jamie’s eyes. “I love you. I’d do anything for you, you know that, right?”
“Of course I do. This wasn’t the kind of thing that I needed saving from though. You and I know the difference. We walk a line, like Noah says, and sometimes we mess up and he helps us make better choices in the future.” Jamie cuddled into Wren’s side, an arm around his co-sub’s waist. “You and me? We know when and how to follow each other off cliffs. Nobody can take that from us, or decide that for us. I love you, too.”
Reed cleared his throat, winking at Matt and doing his best to break the tension. “And that, my friends, is our example for the summit for why we need Sub 101. Basic stuff, like how not to get caned trying to show each other our undying love.” He winked at Matt. “We’ll stick to paddles. I’ll show you I love you with blowjobs instead.”
“If Seth ever had to cane me, that would be…” Pike shuddered, taking another bite of brownie and feeding some to Dallas like it had become automatic. “He always feels bad when he’s gotta punish me. I try not to give him reasons to...like, it’s tricky, because I’m really bad. But not in a way that needs that level of ass whooping. Usually.”
“We’ll stick to paddles once Law gets a new one made...” Matt trailed off, eyes going wide as he realized Curtis was sitting right there. “Fuck. Sorry, Jamie.”
Reed’s lips parted as he looked between Curtis and Jamie. He gave Curtis a hopeful look. “Vegas...shit, you weren’t here for the sub summit rules. Anything that happens between us, stays between us. So...maybe we can just replace it before Lawson notices?”
“S’okay, Reed. I already texted Lawson and told him I’d get him a new one. It didn’t seem fair to make him freak out and go through beating us all to find out who did it.” Jamie reached over to take a last corner of a pastry from the meagre pile that remained. “Speaking of better choices.”
Wren put his hand over Jamie’s, smiling softly at him. “I hope whatever consequences there are aren’t too harsh, but...Noah would be very proud of you for coming clean. So would Jared.”
A huge smile broke over Jamie’s face. “Yeah? Like, when he’s done being disappointed, but you think so?”
“Absolutely.” Wren sat up a bit. “He might even find the whole thing amusing, but that would change if you lied or tried to hide what you did. This way, it shows you’re willing to stand by your decision.” He lowered his voice. “I wonder if he’ll let Lawson punish you. If he does, I doubt it will be anything too severe.”
“It’s okay. I kinda feel awful about it.” Stowing his phone away, Jamie quieted.
Reed’s phone buzzed, someone messaging him.
Pulling out his phone, Reed sat up as he read over the message from Jared.
You may come into the clinic quietly. Two in Danny’s room at a time.
“We’ve got the all clear to go visit Danny.” Reed stuffed his phone in his pocket. “We’ve gotta be quiet and only two people can go in at a time. Jamie’s his best friend, so he’s first. Wren, you can go with him. The rest of us will sort ourselves out.”
Pike slid off Dallas’ lap, grabbing the brownie tray, then frowning and handing them to the Dom. “I gotta go grab the stuff Drew put together for all the doctors. I’ll meet you guys there.”
“I’ll help you.” Matt gave Reed a thumbs up, then shooed him toward the gym. “We’ll be right there.”
Nodding, Reed led the way toward the gym, holding the door open for the other subs. “I’m not sure if we should bring up all this stuff to Danny right now. You know him better than the rest of us, Jams. If you think it’ll help, go for it. If not, we’ll give him a recap once he’s out of there.”
“I mean, it depends on how we approach it?” Rubbing his palms on his jeans, Jamie met Reed’s gaze, turning to wait for him. “If he thinks he’s going to have to watch needle play demos or dodge whips, it’ll put him over the edge.”
“That’s a good point.” Reed rubbed his hand over his lips. “Just put it real lightly. Like something fun we’re gonna be doing, together. Which is true. I think most of it will be fun. Some of it might be tough, but we’re Asylum subs. We can take it. Danny, too, he’s just gotta worry it to death first. Like one of his bones.”
That pulled a bark of laughter from Jamie. “Yeah. He does. Like, before he goes on stage it’s all doom and gloom, but once he’s out there he forgets all that and shines. It’s awesome to watch, even if I wish he didn’t need to suffer so much before. You know?” Shaking his head, he walked with Reed toward the clinic. “Should we mention it in front of Jared and Seth though? Like, we haven’t brought it up to the Board yet and I don’t want them to get the wrong idea and shoot it down before everyone is there.”
Snapping his fingers, Reed pointed at Jamie with one. “Smart thinking. Yeah, let’s table it for now, unless you get to talk to him alone. Which...I don’t see happening yet. Jacks and Shea are gonna be hovering for a while. They’re cool and all, but still Doms. We present this to the Board when we’re ready, not before.”
“You got it.” Taking a penny out of his pocket, Jamie flipped the coin, fidgeting with it like some people did spinners. “He’s gonna be so glad to see everyone, but...make sure to tell him how he doesn’t look different in a bad way and... I really should’ve taken him under my wing more with the sub stuff. I’m glad we’re suggesting the class.”
Reed’s brow furrowed as he glanced toward the door to the clinic, then back at Jamie. “It’s gonna be good for all of us, but… Dude, this wasn’t something you could’ve prevented. A lot of sh—okay, we gotta cut out the swearing now. Too close to Doms.” His lips slanted as he shook his head to get himself back on track. “A lot happened all at once. It was a terrible accident. And...maybe these classes will help prevent the worst of them.”
Behind him, Matt looped his arms around Reed’s waist, resting his chin on Reed’s shoulder. “Topic switch, because Pike is here and the Doms aren’t around. But I want to try to do something mischievous for fun...even if we get our asses beat. It’s been too long since we all just let loose in a way that won’t get anyone hurt or any bottles broken.” Matt lowered his voice. “Let’s have a swear-in. Like all the subs decide to replace certain words with f-bombs and other swears. Like ‘galley’ is the fuck-room, and stuff like that. We’ll all be swearing and it’ll drive them all crazy. Like they don’t have enough hands. And I think Pike should stop swearing during that time.”
“Hey, how is that fair?” Adjusting the tray in his hands, already looking like he was gonna drop it, Pike made a face at Matt. “Now I see what’s going on. Jamie trashed Lawson’s paddle so you could plan this shit. And I’ve gotta be the good one? Did you drink some of that coffee Avery had, because...seriously?”
Reed held up one hand before this turned into a fight. Things had been stressful lately, and Matt suggesting something a little...naughty meant he needed a fun distraction. Which could be a good way to ease up the tension around here. “It’s just flipping things around a bit, Pike. Just think about it. If you’re acting like an angel while the rest of us are misbehaving, the Dom will be like ‘what the fuck?’. Have fun with it. Be so good they’re begging you to go back to normal.”
Reaching out a hand, Jamie helped Pike balance the tray. “Or...we all switch personalities for the morning. Like, I wear Reed’s clothes and sit on the bar, Matt asks everyone if they need stitches and talks about horror films, and Reed—well, you’re already cooking a lot—so maybe you hang out in that swing and twirl darts...”
“You wanna do this during the Board meeting?” Pike’s eyes widened. Then he spat out a laugh. “You know what? I like that idea. Both of them. But...how about we do it if the Doms start acting like they don’t want to do the classes? So we’re actually...like doing it for a reason, rather than just...trying to piss them off for nothing? I mean, I do it naturally, but if I’m gonna be all weird I don’t want Seth looking back and wondering where he went wrong. He’ll know what’s up right away.”
Matt nodded slowly, his chin rocking against Reed’s shoulder. “That could work. I bet none of us even get punished either, which would be cool. They’ll all be so impressed by how we distracted them from being pissy that they’ll forget to draw any hard lines. They might even thank us for once.”
That part, Reed wasn’t so sure about, but he inclined his head and smiled over his shoulder. “It’ll keep things from getting boring, that’s for sure.” He nudged his chin at Jamie. “You should head on in. Matt, help Pike bring that stuff so Quint’s not dealing with a mess when he drops it. I’ll be there in a sec.”
Taking the tray from Pike, Matt walked through the clinic door past Jamie, who held it open for him and Pike. “Love ya, sparkles.”
“Love ya, too, Jams.” Reed blew him a kiss, then walked around the ring, to the other side of the gym. He pulled out his phone, tugging his bottom lip between his teeth before sending a text to Curtis.
Sorry, just blowing up your phone today. I wanna give you a head’s up. Can you tell Lawson to be prepared for things to be a bit...wild with the subs at the board meeting? Everyone’s gonna be having fun, and it won’t get crazy or anything, I just...don’t want him stressing, you know?
The crack in Reed’s phone screen made the bubbles look like they wiggled crookedly, Curtis texting back right away like he always did. Except every sentence came as a separate text, which made Reed’s phone ding repeatedly.
Hey. No need to apologize, sweetie.
Sure. Will do. With him now.
Be down soon.
Taking a deep breath, Reed shook his head. Which obviously didn’t translate over text, so he typed in a few words and hit send.
Nope. That was it. Love ya. TTYL.
Curtis sent back a gif of a dancing unicorn with rainbow hearts coming out its butt. It flew over some marshmallow stars that looked like one of Reed’s favorite breakfast cereals.
Shaking his head, Reed stuck his phone in his pocket, feeling a bit weird going behind everyone’s backs like that, but...this needed to not be a huge issue. He wanted Matt to enjoy his plan and things to go like he’d predicted, which...might not happen if Lawson was caught off guard.
But that still left the other Doms.