The key clinked into the lock, and I was already tired before it even finished turning. I opened the door to my apartment and lugged my workout bag with me. I ached everywhere and I needed a shower, and I was pretty sure I had the start of a black eye, which wasn't anything particularly new. There was a commotion of noise and chaos storming from one of the back rooms, but for the moment the living room was blessedly empty, and I wasn't about to go running off to investigate. It didn't sound like any of the boys were dead or dying, yet, so as far as I was concerned all was well and 'under control'.
I tossed my keys, along with my wallet and phone, onto their usual spot on the end table beside the couch, and crumpled into my beat up old recliner chair that didn't actually do any sort of reclining anymore, so it was really just a chair. It tilted slightly to one side. I was handy enough to keep it tacked together, which was why it was actually able to be sat in in the first place, but not handy enough to make it stop tilting. It was comfortable even with the tilt.
The contents of my workout bag needed attending; I had sweaty clothes that needed to go into the wash, and training gear that needed to be taken out and placed out on the screened in patio to air dry before they developed an unpleasant funk. That in addition to the shower I badly needed. But as pressing as those needs were, they would wait for a moment. I'd made the mistake of sitting down, and now I was stuck in that chair for the conceivable future. Or at least the next few minutes.
I was a nurse by profession. My job, while not physically taxing, per-se, was mentally draining to be sure. I worked at a long term health care facility. An old folks home. My place of employ wasn't exactly a top-notch facility. It was understaffed, short supplied, and all the beds were full of residents who were sick and getting sicker all the time. I did the best I could with the environment I was placed in, but it was a difficult place to be in.
That was my day job. Or my night job, as it were, since I largely worked nights. My second job was fighting. I'd trained in Mixed Martial Arts for just shy of three years and was at the cusp of transitioning from an unpaid amateur to a paid professional athlete. People were dumbfounded when they found out I was a nurse and a fighter. It was a strange combination, I'll admit, but hey, I'm a strange guy sometimes, and anything but ordinary. I was passionate about fighting and training. A huge portion of my energy and time went into my MMA aspirations. It was demanding, hard work, and I approached it very seriously.
If my professional and athletic pursuits didn't keep me busy enough, then there were the boys. As if on cue, the two youngest, Dylan and Reggie, came rushing out of the back rooms the boys shared.
Reggie, who was ten, came bounding over, all smiles as usual, and wanting a hug. Reggie had his mother's big dark eyes and her ears, and her lightly tanned skin. He was a hugger like his mother, too. Of my five stepsons (stepsons to be, technically, but it was all but official), he and I were probably the closest.
"Welcome home, Evan," Reggie said as I gave him the hug he wanted.
I patted his back and smiled down at him tiredly. "Thanks, Reg."
"You've got a black eye again," he observed.
I gave a soft chuckle. Reggie always pointed out my bruises and bloody lips and black eyes and whatever other bits of damage I came home with. He had a child's morbid fascination with them. "I know. It's fine. Where's your mom?"
"She's in her room," Dylan shouted from where he stood watching tv, which was directly in front of it.
"Lower your voice," I reminded him as I always did.
"Sorry," Dylan said, only slightly quieter. I shook my head, stuck between amusement and annoyance. Dylan hadn't known the definition of 'inside voice' as long as I'd known him, and never had before then by all accounts. He was the loudest and most boisterous of five loud and boisterous brothers. Quite an accomplishment, that.
"I think momma's taking a nap," Reggie offered.
"Gotcha. Where are the other boys?" I asked.
"Will and Paul are out. Luke is in his room," Reggie reported, then moved back and crossed his arms over his chest in what was his best imitation of a stern and serious adult. "You need to talk to that kid, he kept picking on Dylan and me today and wouldn't stop! I'm gonna punch him in the mouth!"
"No you're not," I said blandly, doing my best not to chuckle and smile just based on his posing alone. Reggie tried so hard sometimes. "Just leave him alone. He's not messing with you now so it's over with."
"But he!" Reggie started to protest.
"But nothing," I said firmly, holding up a hand to forestall his protest. "I'm sure he was picking on you. Just like I'm sure you or Dylan or both of you did something to needle him or get into his hair in the first place, and I'm also sure when he started picking on you you two got all in his face about it. So leave it. It's done with. Understand?"
Reggie had an awful poker face. I didn't know the details, nor did I really care; the boys fought so much that I was more surprised on those rare occasions they actually did get along. Clearly I was close enough with my guesswork of how thing went down though, because Reggie didn't even try to argue, instead muttering softly under his breath as he started to sulk.
"What was that?" I asked, arching a brow and giving him the look.
"Yes, Sir," he mumbled louder.
"Good. Now quit moping."
"I'm not moping," Reggie insisted, mopily.
"Umm, can we have fruit snacks?" Dylan asked, still enraptured by the tv.
"When did you have lunch?" I asked.
"I dunno," Dylan shrugged.
"Dylan. Look at me and answer my question," I instructed.
"Huh? Um. I think almost three hours ago," Dylan was able to provide once he tore his attention away from the tv.
"Fine, you can have fruitsnacks," I nodded.
"Yesss," Dylan hissed, and did a rather theatrical celebratory fist pump.
Dylan was the ham of the family, and that was saying something, because all the boys were hams in one way or another. But Dylan took the cake. He was nine, small and thin and bony. He was the runt of the brothers for sure but I felt sure he'd end up tall like two of his older brothers when he hit puberty. He had a big smile and a crazy mop of long curly hair that he refused to let his mother cut, to the point of actually running from the room whenever she so much as mentioned it.
"No fruitsnacks," their mother said as she emerged from our bedroom. "I'm about to make dinner."
"Aww," the boys chorused together, but it was lackluster.
My attention focused on her as it always did when she was near. Jess was my fiancé, my girl, and my love. She also happened to be my owned and collared slave. We had been in a full time power exchange relationship for the better part of two and a half years. It hadn't taken very long at all into our relationship to identify as Master and slave. It had felt right and natural to us from the beginning.
Jess was short, like me, and had beautiful, rich brown hair that flowed down her shoulders and back. She kept it long because that's what I preferred, and since we'd met it had grown from hanging just above her shoulder blades to now passing the small of her back. It was thick, lush and soft, and complimented her eyes, two wide, glossy dark pools that I found myself lost in on a regular basis. Her face was oval and appeared younger than she was. She had a small, pert nose that was rounded cutely at the end, and full lips.
My girl was pleasingly, sexily plump. Like most women, she was subconscious about her figure and weight, but I had always thought her beautiful and sexy, womanly and soft with ample, generous curves in all the right places. Her breasts were large and heavy, full, with thick, pierced cherry red nipples and dusky areolas that crinkled when she was excited. Her belly was soft, and had been slowly but steadily shrinking bit by bit as she endeavored to diet and exercise to keep healthy, which I was insistent upon; I didn't care about her weight, but encouraging her and guiding her toward being as healthy and well as she could be was part of my responsibilities as her Master and owner.
Her hips were rounded and wide, true child bearing hips, and she'd certainly made good use of them in that regard. I loved them, loved to grip and squeeze them when I held her close or guided her as we walked together. Her ass was delicious, round and firm and juicy and always seemed to me to need some groping, pinching, spanking, spreading ... whatever my mind and my hands came up with at the time, really.
Jess had naturally lightly tanned skin, and her skin was baby soft and supple, as if she lotioned it constantly to keep it smooth and touchable, but she was just naturally that way. I loved to stroke her, to touch her skin anywhere really, to feel it glide under my fingertips. She had the most touchable skin I've ever felt, and I made it a point to touch her regularly, constantly even.
She was dressed plainly today, a pair of black cotton shorts she wore for exercise or to do chores around the house, and a blue V-neck shirt. Both were modest and simple, but flattered her curves, which I enjoyed. She had her hair piled up and tied back atop her head. Her silver slave collar glinted softly around her throat, a simple thin flat band with three circles open in the silver, one at the front of her throat and one on either side.
"Welcome home, Sir," Jess said as she walked to me and bent to accept my kiss.
"Thank you, girl," I replied, nodding to her and giving her a weary but pleased smile. With the children running around, we kept the more official 'Master' and 'slave' to 'Sir' and 'girl'. The kids never seemed to think it odd that we never called each other by name.
"You had a good workout?" She asked me as she walked to the kitchen. She rummaged through one of the cabinets and pulled out a large pot.
"I did," I nodded, watching her busy herself around the kitchen from my seat.
"You have a black eye again," she said matter of factly.
"I know," I smirked.
"I'm gonna tell people I beat you again," my slave called.
Brat. "Always trying to throw people off the truth, huh?"
"Of course, Sir. Can't have them thinking I don't fight back when you go abusing me," she said.
I chuckled and shook my head. She had a mouth on her, my girl. I'm sure some Dominants would have scolded their submissive severely for some of the things that came out of my slave's mouth, but I'd always loved her quick wit and sharp tongue too much to make her curb it fully. I just enjoyed joking and bantering with her too much. It was our way.
"I think I'm going to go shower," I said to myself, aloud.
"Good idea. You stink," Jess called in a cheerful voice from the kitchen.
"What was that?" I asked with a playful edge to my voice, still smirking with amusement, though she couldn't see it for how busy she was with getting things out for dinner.
"I said enjoy your shower, Sir!"
"Smart ass masochist," I muttered softly, even as I smiled fondly. After emptying my workout bag, went to go take a long, hot shower.
After becoming thoroughly clean and improving the overall state of my smell, I stepped out of the shower feeling like a new me. Or at least, a significantly less tired and sore version of the old me. I towel dried my short cropped, coppery hair and then brushed my teeth. That done, I took a deep breath, and briefly stared at myself in the mirror.
I'd never imagined myself as being particularly handsome. I just never looked like what I imagined 'handsome' to be as an adolescent and young adult. Time and maturity and bolstering confidence, as well as more than a few looks and comments from various kind women had finally convinced me that I'm a good looking and attractive guy, somehow. Once my hair had been nearly as curly and unruly as Dylan's, but now I kept it cut short and close to my head, a simple, efficient haircut that complimented my face. I had a largish nose that was ever so slightly crooked from previously being broken. My brow was pronounced over light gray-green eyes, and my jaw was solid and strong. My lips were full and kissable and for the moment not busted or split. I kept a short, neatly trimmed red beard because without it I tended to have a baby face. My slave once saw me clean shaven and fervently requested I never let my face go naked again.
I had a good physique, fit and athletic and well muscled. I wasn't big in the shoulders or chest but I was toned and lean and strong. I had a flat, hard stomach and that V cut at my hips that women went crazy for and thickly muscled, solid legs. A number of colorful tattoos offset my otherwise fair white skin.
I finished toweling off and put on a pair of boxers and some jeans, then made my way into the living room just in time to catch the tail end of Jess breaking up a fight between the boys. She was in full mom mode, threatening them all roundly from the kitchen where she was still trying to finish up dinner.
I ran the kids off so the slave could finish dinner, then rounded them up again to eat it. Then followed an evening of dishes, playing referee to various squabbles, fighting with children and teenagers to go shower and bathe and brush their teeth, and ushering small people off to bed before threatening them with various sorts of exaggerated violence if they didn't get back into bed.
By the time this was done and we had a chance to breath, something was off with Jess. She'd become tight lipped and quiet over the past hour or so, pensive and withdrawn.
"What's wrong?" I asked her gently as I sat beside her on the couch.
My slave looked at me with tired eyes. "I'm fine, Sir. Really."
I didn't believe her, not at all. I didn't think she was trying to be intentionally dishonest; we both knew that deliberately lying to me bore some pretty serious consequences. More likely, she didn't even fully know what was bothering her yet. "I don't think you're fine," I said slowly and as gently as I could, meeting her dark brown eyes. "You aren't acting like yourself. What's bothering you?"
Her brow furrowed slightly as she tried to find the words. I could feel them, roiling around inside her, and she was trying to not only figure out exactly what was the problem, but also bring her feelings under some sort of control so she could voice them respectfully.
"I'm just tired," she said at last. "I've been chasing kids all day after working all night last night. Paul is giving me the usual teenage drama again and every time I try to prod him about getting his shit together at the car wash, he just gives me the same old excuses. There's so much drama going on at work lately that I want to say the hell with all my coworkers, and I'm not even directly involved in any of it. And on top of all of that, we have the wedding coming up in just a few months and I feel like there is way too much left to do, and I don't even know where to start with it. I'm tired and grumpy and just ... I don't know what to do with myself right now."
I sat and listened, watching her closely, as one thing led into the next and it all came tumbling out of here in a frustrated rush. "I'm sorry things are so heavy right now," I said gently.
Immediately I could tell that my words, however kind or well intentioned, weren't going to help right now. She'd gotten wrapped up too tightly by then. "It's okay, Master. I'll live. I still need to get the laundry done so you'll have clean scrubs and your workout clothes will be ready for tomorrow. Please excuse me."