Dirty Little Secrets by Julia McBryant

NOTE: A bit of fantasy romance.  All characters 18+

Amory has a late rehearsal, and they need a long list of things, from a new shower curtain to those vile energy drinks his boys chug like water. Time for Target. Ellis asks Quinn if he wants to come. Quinn’s messing around playing video games (he lies on his stomach, legs slightly parted in shorts, totally absorbed: Ellis stares).

“Sure.” Quinn pauses the game. “I need more Fekkai for my hair, if we can go to the really really good Target, some lipshine, and like, more long-sleeved shirts. And you know I always like to look at the T-shirts.” Quinn buys half his clothes at Target. He says they last and there’s no sense in spending more money. If any of his rich friends, in their Brooks Bros. and Gucci and bespoke everything notice, they don’t comment. Maybe they take it as a personal quirk, or an embarrassing habit beneath mentioning. Or maybe they can’t tell the difference.

The trip has morphed from an in-and-out to a wander through the store, but whatever. Ellis enjoys it, Quinn playing with his hand while he drives, listening to his boy softly singing along to Bowie. He catches Ellis’s hand in the parking lot. Ellis went upstairs before they left and threw on a tighter T-shirt for him, then pulled his hair loose from its ponytail. Quinn likes it better down. He walks a little too close to Ellis.

They both get coffee at Starbucks, still holding hands, and the barista smiles at them. Quinn leans his head on Ellis’s shoulder. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“I wanted coffee. I assumed you, also, wanted coffee.”

“Still, thanks.” His voice drops low. “Daddy.”

“Behave yourself.”

Ellis snags one of those red carts and they cruise the store, picking up the stuff they need on the way. Quinn’s eyes widen when they hit the men’s department. “Oh my god. That Batman T-shirt.” He stop and points. “I had it when I was a kid. They had versions of them that came with matching underwear? I used to run around and pretend I was a superhero, oh my god. So much fun. I miss those.”

Oh Christ, Quinn in Batman underwear. Thank God or the universe or whatever entity cares about these things that Ellis stands behind a shopping cart. “Maybe if you’re good someone will get you one.” Ellis sort of teases. Sort of doesn’t. Amazon. Amazon has everything.

“Oh well.” Quinn keeps walking. “Can we look at the books? I want that new Andre Aciman and it’s so popular they ought to stock it.”

Ellis has always wanted this. His whole life, he’s wanted this. But he never could really ask — how do you ask for that sort of thing? Weird enough asking to be someone’s Daddy. But as he watches Quinn, Quinn who sleeps with a bear, who insists they cruise through the toy aisle, examining the new Lego sets and Star Wars figures, though he never buys anything there, other than the occasional ADHD fidget toy, Quinn who cuddles on him and loves when Ellis calls him “Baby Q” and “sweet boy” during sex — Quinn might do it. Quinn might like it. He could always say no, right?

Ellis asks on the car ride home, while Quinn messes with his hand again. MGMT plays on the radio. “Didn’t you used to suck your thumb?”

“Oh god yes. Thank god I didn’t mess up my mouth and need braces. I sucked it until I was like, waaaaaay too old. I don’t even want to tell you how old. I’d die of embarrassment.”

“C’mon, tell me.”

“No way in hell.”

“Promise not to laugh.”


“C’mon, sweet baby.” Ellis pitches his voice quiet and gentle, that voice Quinn rarely resists. He could always order Quinn to tell him, but Quinn would resent him for it.

Quinn sighs. When Ellis looks over, he’s colored deeply. “I was like, fifteen when I stopped doing it once in a while. But by then it was just a once-in-a-while.”

“Do you ever want to now? Tell me the truth, love.” Ellis keeps the same gentle voice. He glances at Quinn again. He’s chewing his lip.

“C’mon, honey.”

“Sometimes. When I get really stressed out. But I wouldn’t. I like, sleep with you and Amory, um, how weird would that be? It’s bad enough I sleep with a fucking bear, Ellis.” He turns and looks out the window.

“Quinn. I wouldn’t mind if you sucked your thumb.” Hell, he can’t help it. His stiffens in his tight jeans.

“Amory would make fun of me until the day I died.”

“Do it when he’s not around. When we go home, if you want, we can cuddle up in bed in our pajamas. I’ll read to you and you can suck your thumb.”

Quinn keeps looking out the window and doesn’t reply.

Of course, he thinks it’s too weird. Well, that was too much to ask from life, anyway. Ellis has his boys. Two boys. Who the fuck gets two boys, anyway? Age play was too much to ask for on top of that particular miracle.

Once he’s put the Target stuff away and hung the new shower curtain, Ellis goes upstairs to find Quinn sitting on the bed in nothing but a pair of his flannel pajama pants. “Daddy, you said you’d read to me.” He swings his legs off the tall bed. “I even brought you a book.” The Complete Sherlock Holmes sits on his lap.

“Oh.” Ellis shakes his head and blinks a few times. “Oh, yeah, yeah I did, sweet boy. Let me put on my pajamas so I can cuddle you better, okay?”

“Da-ddy.” Quinn whines in a higher voice than usual. He holds his bear. “I waited forever already.”

“Weren’t you a good boy to wait for Daddy, though? What a sweet baby.” Ellis changes faster than he may have ever stripped in his goddamn life. He pulls the blankets down. Quinn immediately hands him the book and cuddles against him, head on his shoulder. Thank god this is a paperback; Ellis props himself on pillows but he still has to hold it up one-handed. Quinn presses against him. He holds his bear and oh god, pops his thumb in his mouth and sucks. His eyes go half-lidded with pleasure or sleepiness or simply relaxation. Ellis begins reading.

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Date Published: January 31, 2020

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