“How much for the one on the end? Black leather jacket, white shirt, buzzcut.”
“Hm.” The auction associate looks through her clipboard. “Four hundred thousand.”
Charles gives her a skeptical look. “That’s all?”
“You’d be his fourth contract in two years. He’s not really been known for staying put and being well-behaved. As contract dominants go, he’s not bad; he knows all the basic skills, he scores very high on stamina, and of course he has certain physical attributes that make him ideal for specific purposes…”
Charles snorts. “They didn’t have time to brief you on your buyers, did they?”
A confused look up and down, and she colors, her hand rising to cover her mouth. “Oh, Dr. Xavier, I’m so sorry—
“Not to worry. I get a lot of that.” Charles glances back at the man on the end. “Dominant work, hm?”
“For a total of seven contracts over six years. He just hasn’t found the right owner yet.”
“There might be a reason for that.” Charles heads over; the man on the end looks up at him, impassive.
He does his best to stay impassive while Charles cups his chin and turns his face slightly, side-to-side. But Charles can see his pulse speeding at the side of his neck, his nostrils flaring as he struggles not to respond.
“I’m Charles,” Charles murmurs. “I think I’d like to own you.”
“Erik,” says the other man. “Marie’s holding my contract.”
“I’ll talk to her about that in a minute. I’ve got a few questions for you first.”
“Do you want to come home with me?”
Erik pauses and looks him over. He can’t incline his head; he can only lower his eyes, which leaves his lashes dark against his cheek for a moment before he looks back up. “Sure.”
“Do you like the work you’ve done under your other contracts?”
He feels the twitch in Erik’s jaw more than he sees it. “It’s been fine.”
Charles bends down and puts his lips at Erik’s ear. “That’s not what I want you for.”
Erik’s breath is coming faster and faster, now. “All right.”
“Shall I get your contract, Erik?”
Erik licks his lips; Charles gets the impression he’s searching for a word he hasn’t had to use for a while. When he finally says it, Charles can’t help the smile that stretches across his face.
Erik says, “Please.”