Stolen Innocence | Excerpt

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From Chapter Seven:

When Varick got inside Strawberry’s, Jerome didn’t even say anything as he approached the door downstairs, he just opened it and let him rush past. He made his way down the stairs and came out into the check-in area. Syn looked up at him but didn’t speak as he moved past her quickly. She had a look on her face Varick couldn’t place so he guessed someone had told her what was going on. Didn’t matter, he thought, he saw Clair and Charles near the door as he came out into the Playroom.

“Where?” he growled. Clair pointed in the direction of the breakroom.

Just as he was about to open the door, someone spoke up from behind him. “Yo, you can’t go in there.”

Varick turned and glared at the speaker, a young man he hadn’t met before with gelled hair and dark eyes. Varick arched one blonde brow and stared for a moment. “Excuse me?”

“That’s the break room for the employees, you can’t go in there,” the guy commented and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Back off.” The statement was flat but when combined with the look on Varick’s face, the young man stepped back, stammering something about getting security.

Varick snorted and grabbed the handle to the door and yanked it open. He stepped in to find Carmine sitting on the small sofa, holding Devan against his chest and rocking back and forth. Devan was staring at his arms, hands trembling.

“Devan!” Varick spoke in a strong and commanding voice, surprising him into looking up. Any traces of anger that remained in Varick’s heart melted at the sight of Devan’s face.

“Varick,” he sobbed “I… I don’t know what to do! I…”

Kneeling in front of Devan, Varick took hold his hands to stop them from trembling. “Look, we’re going to go get him, that’s what. Even if I have to pound the skulls of every Irish asshole you’ve ever worked with in this city. Come on, Devan, you’ve worked for these assholes for a long time. You’ve walked in and out of the places they live. Do you know where he would be if this Callaghan guy has him?”

Devan blinked, silently looking at him for a long time, as though processing what Varick was saying. “Yeah, I do. Callaghan’s office, there’s a room in there. He… he tells people it’s a panic room, but it’s not just a panic room, it’s where he keeps them. You can’t get in without a code or a keycard, and then you have to know the code to the panic room.” Devan’s voice was weaker than Varick had ever heard before.

There was a silence as Varick tried to put together what Devan meant, but he hesitated to push him for more details until he was more clear headed. It sounded like he knew these codes, or had keycards, or something, but he wasn’t sure just yet.

“Do you know those codes, Devan?” Carmine reached over and stroked Devan’s hair back out of his face. Devan turned into his hand and closed his eyes for a second.

Nodding slowly, Devan’s voice became a little stronger when as he spoke. “Yeah, I…I have a keycard, and I think…I might know what the code would be for the panic room…I can’t be sure, and if…if we go in there, we might not come back out.” He looked up at Varick. “And if we do, they’ll take me to jail, and I can’t…”

Varick stood up and moved beside him, putting an arm around his shoulders. “Listen, I know a guy, he helped me back in Cali. It’s a long story, but he kept me from going to jail for something someone else did, and he worked this deal out with the FBI. The FBI’s on this case already, so if we can cut you a deal with them, then you don’t have to worry, okay, Dev?” His voice was firm and he pulled him closer to him.

When he looked away from Devan’s face and took in the rest of his appearance, Varick realized he had been in Domme mode because of the clothes. Devan was still in his Domme gear, a long dress with layers of black and red lacey sheer material over a bustier and a pair of thigh high boots. Varick hadn’t noticed when he came into the room since he had been so focused on Devan’s emotional condition. It appeared Devan had fallen out of his female mode, dropping into something Varick hadn’t seen before. He wasn’t acting like his female self, or his male self. It was surreal, but he was obviously the most vulnerable like this. It was like this state of being was somewhere between the other two, and Devan wasn’t able to keep himself under control like he normally did.

After a few silent minutes, Devan seemed to regain control of his emotions. He closed his eyes and drew a long breath, swallowing. “Okay, we can pull this off.” Devan’s voice was just above a whisper as he stood up and nodded to himself. “I can do this. I can make this right. I have to make this right.”

We can make this right.” Carmine squeezed his and smiled up at him. “We’re in this together, okay?”

Devan nodded at Carmine first in response to his comment, then to Varick. Varick wasn’t sure if he was trying to affirm to them, or himself, that they were going to do this together. Despite Devan’s previous insecurity, Varick saw the determination beginning to build in the other man.

“Hang on, I have to change clothes.” Devan paused, breathing deeply before he grabbed a bag from a nearby locker.

As Devan walked toward the door, Varick noted his walk had changed. It wasn’t the submissive stance they’d seen before, or the Dominant way of moving. Varick became more convinced this Devan was the one he showed the rest of the world outside this Lifestyle. Their encounters with him had all been in the club or for reasons related to the club, and he was always in one of his two roles. Now, they were seeing him in an entirely different light. Devan disappeared into the bathroom attached to the break room.

A few minutes later, he emerged in a different set of clothes, and Varick almost didn’t recognize him. As he shut the door behind him, he shrugged into a slightly wrinkled black suit jacket. He had changed into a pair of black slacks and a white button-down shirt. His hair was pulled back tight at the nape of his neck, and for the first time since they’d met him, he had no makeup on. They could see the faint traces left behind around his eyes where appeared like he’d wiped down his face. He glanced at his hands, or rather to his nails. He winced in anticipated pain and started chewing on the side and began to pop off the fake bright red fingernails one after another, putting them in a side pocket of the bag before he rubbed his fingers thoughtfully for a minute. When he looked up, he seemed unsure because Varick and Carmine were both staring at him.

“Well, um, so this is me in the real world,” he mumbled, looking somewhat ashamed of himself.

“Goddamn, you’re fucking hot as hell no matter what you wear, Devan.” Carmine gave him a sideways grin.

“Wh-what?” Devan stammered. “You…you…like this too?”

Varick rolled his eyes in frustration. He had felt Devan had been keeping himself distant the last week or so about anything unrelated to the club. This confirmed his suspicion Devan was of the belief their interest was in him as a sub and a mentor rather than an actual romantic partner. “Devan, I know we got attached pretty quick, but I don’t like you because of your clothes, or what you do in the Dungeon, I like you for you. It goes beyond what happens here. When I say I like you, I mean you, not the things you do.”

“Wait, you mean, you’re saying you like like me like that? Like a real partner thing, not just a club thing?” Devan blurted out with wide eyes.

After meeting Carmine’s eyes for a second, they both looked back to Devan. Carmine snorted. “Duh, are you dumb or something? Of course, that’s what we mean! You were the one talking about poly romance and everything, remember? I thought we on the same page here.”

“But…but that’s for you two! I’m not…I mean, how can you…I’m not a…when did this happen?” Devan faltered as he stared at one then the other of them.

With a deep sigh, Varick shook his head. “Look this is a talk for later, for now, let’s take care of the current problem and get the doctor out of the situation he’s in.”

Licking his lips, Devan appeared to be gathering his thoughts together before he spoke. “Before we go, you guys need a bag. Look, do you realize what you’re getting into? Like really realize?” Devan glanced between them a couple times before continuing. “This is your last chance to back out, I’m going in there, okay? I have to go in there. But the fact is, when you step through the door at Callaghan’s place with me, you’re taking a chance of getting a very real hit contract put on your heads at worst and getting tossed in jail at the best. Assuming we even get out of the fuckin’ place alive.”

Carmine put his hands on Devan’s shoulders and shook him gently. “I…I think my mom would never forgive me if I just turned and walked away. She taught me to do what’s right, no matter what.” He shook Devan’s shoulders again, this time a bit harder. “And in case you haven’t figured it out, I’m going there because of you more than anything. I have to make sure you’re okay, and I’m going to be there for you.”

Varick put a hand on top of Devan’s head, rubbing his smooth hair a little. “It’s not the first time I’ve crossed the line to do something because it’s just the right thing to do. I have to help. I tried to explain this but I’ll do it again. I don’t easily get attached to people, in fact, I can count on one hand the people I’m close to. I spent my life not having romantic feelings for anyone, and now you have become so important to me, so this isn’t just about the doctor. This is about you, too.”

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