The meter says I’m fine. I woke up in time, tested, ate the recommended amount of carbs to correct the low, and tested again. Everything textbook, just like the doctors want. Then why can’t I fall asleep now?
I ought to be able to. Sometimes I wake up in the mornings only half-remembering a low because I doze off so quickly after treating. Zain finds the rest of the granola bar crunched up in the bed. But tonight, I close my eyes and my brain flits. To nothing in particular, really, simply random thoughts and plans and worries.
Zain rolls over next to me, towards his nightstand. I think he’s still asleep—he didn’t wake when I pulled out my kit before—until he flicks on the lamp. I blink against the sudden brightness.
He rolls back over and props himself up on his side. “Give me your pillow,” he says.
“Your pillow,” he repeats, and then, rather pointedly, “Now, my boy.”
A lovely shiver runs through me, as always when I hear that phrase, yet I hesitate. Do I really want to get into that right this minute? I’m not in the best frame of mind for it. He must realize?
“Seb,” he says, “you can either safeword—absolutely nothing wrong with doing that—or you can give me your pillow, but you’ve gotta make a choice. Last choice you’ll need to make tonight, I promise.”
Uncertainty is pushed down. I hand him the pillow.
He surprises me again by sitting up and dropping it on the floor by his feet. Then he slides open his nightstand drawer and takes out a coil of rope. “Come over here.”
I crawl to his side, but he nods at the floor, so I get off the bed entirely. Still with the rope in his hand, he takes hold of the bottom of my t-shirt and pulls it up. Automatically, I raise my arms and let him remove it.
“That’s my good boy,” he murmurs. “Kneel.”
I fight the hesitation, fight to be good for him, and get shakily to my knees, one leg at a time. The pillow cushions me against the hardwood.
“Arms behind your back,” he says.
I try not to think about it too much as I obey. Overthinking is like being in murky water. I need to keep still, not stir up the mud at the bottom more.
“Comfortable?” he asks when I stop fidgeting.
A smirk that goes straight down my front accompanies his, “Hmm?”
Then he leans over me, his competent fingers looping and twisting the rope to bind my wrists together before taking it up across my shoulders and around my chest. Just snug enough to feel its presence and to know even if I relax it will hold me like this. When the final knot is tied, he puts his palm on the back of my neck and pulls so I’m off-balance and have to lean on his leg. He’s not wearing pants, only boxers. My cheek rests against his bare thigh.
“There,” he says, like he’s just finished putting a bandage on a wound. “Rest now.”
I would tell him it’s ridiculous to expect me to rest at all in this position, but it’s also ridiculous that it works. My breath syncs with his as I feel it move through his body. It sounds loud. Everything is heightened: the ocean smell carried in through the window, the slight roughness of the rope coiled around me, his fingertips tingling over my scalp, the contrast of his darker skin against mine where my torso presses to his shin.
A few moments later, my eyes fall close and a hum of pure pleasure escapes. My mind is quiet. That’s the feeling that stays even when he undoes the knots and pulls me back onto the bed before I’m fully asleep.