One Ring:Suncoast SocietyBy: Tymber Dalton
Fortunately, his ex-wife hadn’t forced him to sell it in the divorce since it’d been his older brother’s car.
Looked like Maria’s heart wasn’t as cold as he’d thought it was. She’d known how much he’d loved his older brother, and what it had meant to him when his sister-in-law had given him the car upon Jeff’s death.
He’d offered to buy it, but she’d refused to take any money for it.
Unfortunately, the divorce had meant starting over again financially. He was paying his bills and putting savings away for retirement, but that didn’t leave a lot of extra green in the budget for his project car.
Luckily, Don didn’t mind he kept the Chevelle occupying one half of the two-car garage. Carl parked his Subaru out in the driveway.
Don leaned in, propping his elbows on the fender cover draped over the far side. “Are you okay?”
“You don’t sound fine.”
“You’ve hardly said two words in the past two weeks, besides now.”
“I’m fi—dammit!” Carl pulled his hand out and examined his scraped knuckle. “I’m just…I’m fine.”
“You didn’t know, okay?”
He sucked on his knuckle, finally letting his gaze settle on his friend and roommate.
Don Montgomery had entered Carl’s life a couple of years ago when Carl went to work at the same hospital. They were both radiology techs and had been sharing the same shift. With several of the same interests, they ended up becoming friends.
Don was a serial monogamist without a current girlfriend. At the time, Carl thought he’d had a solid marriage…
Until he came home early one day to eat lunch six months earlier, because he’d forgotten to take it with him, and caught his wife in bed with her boss when they were both supposed to be at meetings in Venice all day.
He’d gone back to work, not knowing what else to do, and Don had noticed he looked…off.
Don had invited him to move in with him, since his own roommate had decided to get married and move out.
It wasn’t until Carl moved in with Don that he realized why Don hadn’t settled down with one woman yet.
Don was a Dom, and hadn’t yet found the right woman for him.
Out of emotional numbness more than anything, Carl went with Don to the BDSM club and met new friends, learned new things, and realized he’d found something that was missing from his own life.
He liked tying women up. He liked spanking them and making them orgasm.
He liked the control, when before now, during his entire life, he’d been told it was “wrong” to try to control a woman.
Everyone who’d ever told him that little useless nugget of information had neglected to add the caveat, “unless she wants you to control her.”
So “Dom Don,” as Carl teasingly called him sometimes, had taken Carl under his wing and taught him the ropes.
Still, the final hearing a couple of weeks ago, and getting the final divorce order from the attorney, was still sinking in.
He took it personally that his marriage had failed despite what everyone else said. Maybe if he hadn’t tightly reined in and ignored his dominant instincts all of these years, maybe she wouldn’t have cheated on him. Maybe she would have been happy with him. Maybe he would have found someone different who would have been happy with him.
Maybe maybe maybe.
They’d been roommates for nearly six months now, a situation that didn’t look like it was going to change anytime soon. They could actually have a third roommate, if they wanted, because there was a spare bedroom they were using for storage. But financially they hadn’t needed one.
This wasn’t where Carl thought he be at this stage of his life. No, he wasn’t rich, but he’d been doing okay. Maria worked as an insurance agent, and between the two of them they lived modestly, but comfortably. They’d both been building their retirement portfolios.
He thought they were happy. He’d been happy.
He never realized Maria had been bored out of her mind and seeking comfort and excitement elsewhere.
Like, oh, with her boss.
Don arched an eyebrow over one blue eye. “I know you’re hurting, but denning up won’t help anything.”
“I’m not denning up. I said I’m going tonight.”
“But are you going to actually, oh, talk to people tonight instead of sitting there with a sour expression on your face that makes you look like you’re getting a lemon enema?”
“I’m not that bad.”
“Uh, yeah. You have been.” He straightened. “I know I can’t tell you to suck up, buck up, and move on. I get it. It hurts. You had started healing, then the finality drove home that you couldn’t ignore it and pretend it wasn’t happening, or that it was temporary.”
“Spoken like the man who’s never been divorced.”
“Uh, yeah. Exactly. For a damn good reason. My dad went through five wives, dude. Five. My mom is on husband number three. My sisters have all been divorced at least once. I haven’t met the woman I’m willing to risk half my shit for yet. And I’m open and honest from the beginning with anyone I date that I’m not someone to rush into a marriage just because reasons. Be faithful and monogamous to them? Absolutely. Spend the night? A given. But shack up and sign a piece of paper that will later allow her to possibly force me into selling my house? No, thank you. I worked too damn hard for it. And I won’t let someone just move in with me, and then if things go bad not be able to get them moved out again. Only if I decide to marry them will I move them in with me first for a test run. And even then, they’re signing a damn lease.”