From Kept Boy chapter, Book 1
Ginger emerged from the bathroom in a thin sun dress that Tom liked, all the more because it took no time to realize that she was sans undergarments, which was almost as fun as garters. Once he had cleaned and dressed—the magic marker washed right off with a damp towel—she asked him to join her on the couch. Tom was still shaking.
“Supplies!” she said.
Tom sat without expression and barely acknowledged her.
“Adapt and overcome, boy. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t make this any easier.”
Dazed, he whispered, “Yes, ma’am.”
“…All right, hold on…We can take a minute…Look at me, Tom…Hey!…Listen…I’m not going to ask if you’re OK because I know you are…It’s a lot to wrap your head around, but you made it through the hardest part. You’re a tough kid. You know that, don’t you?”
“…No…Yes, ma’am…I’m sorry…not feeling sorry for myself…Fair’s fair…”
She chuckled. He was in shock. But not broken.
“Ginger for now. I’ll let you know when I want something else from you. And that’s the crux of our relationship. I tell you what I want, you give it. Got it?”
Now he laughed. Her smile gave Tom more confidence.
“That’s my boy. I’ll explain more over dinner tonight. Be here at eight and consider it your ‘last supper.’ Tomorrow, you get to work. Take the rest of today and tonight to cut ties…You might see your friends and family in the near future, but you will not have a relationship with them. You’re mute. You’re mine…For all intents and purposes, Tom Amore is about to disappear.”
He took in the fact but didn’t process the significance.
“May I ask a question?”
“What do I say to people?”
“Keep your story simple. The more you elaborate, the better chance you’ll screw up. You just got a job and your employer requires absolute secrecy. But it’s not that exciting. Two-thirds of that is true, isn’t it?…Oh, and you’re leaving town for two weeks of training tomorrow.”
He nodded, thinking, Holy s***!
“Anyone who needs more explanation than that? F*** ’em. I’m serious, Tom. They’re gone. Be a d*** if you have to, but don’t say s***…You have a girlfriend?”
“Perfect…You’re done at the hospital, you’re done with the fraternity…you’re done with everything. We’re your new world. Your whole world.”
Ginger pretended to be more comfortable about this than she was. Though she had decided how to handle him in the short-term, her confidence was fabricated. Tom was still a wild card. Michael had said that he was like her somehow. There had to be something special about him. Nothing stood out, however, except that he had what Ginger considered to be two exaggerated male characteristics: Tom could take a lot of physical pain. His coach wasn’t kidding about that. She had laid into him without mercy and the kid didn’t even appear to be sore. But he was sensitive. That’s what got to him. Given the choice, that’s exactly what Ginger would want in a toy because that sensitivity went both ways: While his feelings were easily hurt, a well-timed wink or compliment had a dramatic effect. She could beat the hell out of him, and as long as he got a little TLC here and there, he’d be fine. (And she wouldn’t have to fake affection for that kind of boy.) Other than that, though, he was a muggle. A $217,000 muggle. Was there even such thing?
Tom was still trying to understand the relationship between ANF and the Turners. Was this Michael’s plan all along? Or did his widow come up with another one when he died? And how could Tom be so foolish, thinking that he was the lucky recipient of six years’ worth of free lunches? More immediately concerning was that he now had to engineer a complete break from V, the one person who still mattered to him, even if they couldn’t bear to be with one another.
Tom was zoning out but managed to say, “OK.”
Ginger smiled again. He’d be lucky if he remembered half of what she said.
“It will never be harder than it is right now, Tom. You can do this.”
He gave a resigned sigh.
“I know…I will.”
“Yes, you will. And I will be hard, not fair, Tom. Often mean. Sometimes nice. Deal with it. Give me a hundred percent, we’ll be fine. Please do not put me in a situation in which I have to remind you who is in charge.”
“I won’t let you down.”
“I hope so, for your sake.” She smiled at him once more. “Just do what I know you can do. Settle your debt. Learn. Dinner tonight is your last chance to ask all the questions you have.” Ginger slipped into her southern drawl. “Oh, and Thomas, you gorgeous hunk of man…don’t breathe a word about any of this to anyone. Be smart!”
“The last thing is this,” she said as she produced a black smartphone. “From now on, you will keep this on you at all times. You’ll surrender your cell phone tomorrow. If you work hard, you might earn that back.” He looked confused. “Who pays your bill, Tom?”
After a moment’s thought, he said, “You do.”
“Right. Nothing is yours. Get used to it.” She looked at him one last time and then tipped her head toward the door. “You’re excused.”
Ginger gave him a slap on the ass as he left the room. Property.