Content Warning: Heavy BDSM, blood, watersports, infidelity
Finding Sanctuary is the story of Vincent, a typical, average guy who has begun to unravel. He has a respectable, mainstream life, with a solid job, nice girlfriend, comfortable house—all the material trappings. What, then, is causing this restlessness, these blackouts? The first revelation is that his best friend Eric is also his heart’s desire. But then Eric invites him to a weekend at a BDSM playhouse … There Vincent will confront his fears and test the limits of his sexual boundaries. Eric has his needs, too—needs that conflict with Vincent’s. Will their fragile new bond survive the weekend? Will Vincent find the sanctuary he so fervently desires?
Chatter surrounded him, indistinct but overpowering at the same time. Plates clattering, silverware clinking, people talking, an overly happy woman three booths over with a laugh that grated on his nerves, the tinkling of the wind chimes as the front door opened and closed, street noise filtering in. He thought his ears might bleed with it, and he wanted to block it all out—press his hands to his ears and scream until he went hoarse.
With a start, Vincent became aware of the man across from him. Sounds rushed away from him, no longer loud and glaring, but safely in the background where they belonged. “Huh?”
“Have you heard a single word I’ve said?”
“Um ...” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m sorry, Eric. I don’t mean to ignore you, honestly.” Eric had asked him to drinks after work to discuss “something important,” and Vincent had no idea what his friend had been saying.
Eric sat back and studied him; those chocolate brown eyes bored into Vincent’s soul. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Vincent shrugged. “Just tired I guess.” He had grown up with Eric—loved him like a brother. He owed Eric his attention. “You were saying?”
“I know you better than that.” Eric’s voice dropped to an intimate level.
Eric did know him better than that. Knew him well. And sometimes, Vincent wished ... He shook off the thoughts. “You ever feel like you don’t belong?”
Eric quirked an eyebrow at him and chuckled. “You’re asking your gay friend if he’s felt like he didn’t belong?”
“Yeah, I guess you have.” Why did his heart pound when Eric said gay?
Eric leaned forward and stretched his hand across the worn tabletop, not touching, but not avoiding either. “Talk to me. You’ve been acting funny for weeks now. People are worried.”
“I just ...” Vincent heaved a deep sigh. He just ... what?
How did he explain to someone else what he didn’t even understand himself? “Lately, I feel like ... shit.”
“You feel like shit?”
“No.” Vincent shook his head. “Or yes. I don’t know. I don’t know how to describe it. Something’s missing, Eric. Something inside me. I have no right to feel this way, do I?”
“I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’ve got a good job, a nice house. I’ve got Jenny. I’ve got a fucking picket fence and a dog for God’s sake.”
“You know those are all material things, right? Things can’t make you happy. That’s something you find within.”
“Thank you, Zen Master Eric.” Vincent grinned and put his palms together in front of him, gave a little mocking half-bow, as much as he could in the confines of the booth.
Eric rolled his eyes. “What I mean is, maybe you do have a right to feel the way you do. Just because you’re well off doesn’t mean you’re happy. What do you think is missing?”
“That’s just it.” Vincent shrugged. “I have no idea. I’ve been ...” He glanced around the cafe, uncertain if this was the most appropriate place for such a conversation.
“We can go back to my place and talk, if you want.”
Eric’s place. Just around the corner. That’s why he had suggested it. Nothing to do with anything else, so why did Vincent’s cock twitch at the thought? What the fuck is wrong with me? “Yeah, that’d be good.”
Eric signaled the waitress and paid the tab. “Ready?”
They left the café, Vincent exiting first. As he stepped out onto the sidewalk, he felt the briefest brush of Eric’s hand against his back. Eric did these things—little touches here and there—without thinking, Vincent knew. Didn’t mean anything. Nothing. Vincent took a deep breath to settle his nerves and followed Eric down the block to his apartment.
Eric’s nosey neighbor, Betty—that little old woman with the crooked nose and the gray hair that reminded Vincent of Don King—stood on the stoop, looking them up and down as they walked inside. What did she think? That they were going inside to fuck? Well, let her. Maybe he wanted that, and so what if he did? Maybe. Vincent stopped in his tracks, a sudden throbbing in his temples, a faint buzzing in his ears. Great. He had worked himself up, and now...
“Vin?” Eric had stopped as well. He turned, looked at him with concern, and moved back toward him. “Are you okay?”
“ Just my head.” Vincent felt his cheeks flush, knew they would soon be bright red. Damn his stupid inability to control his emotions.
“Come on, come inside. I’ll get you some water.” Eric took his hand. God, that didn’t help at all. Nevertheless, Vincent wrapped his fingers around Eric’s, clutching, clinging. The hallway spun at a crazy angle and he moaned, lightheaded.
“Vin?” Eric grabbed for him.
Vincent looked up, dazed, trying to force his body to work to no avail. The last thing he heard before consciousness slipped away was Eric’s soft voice.
“’S okay, baby. I’ve got you.”