Jet Lagged with Mr. Sands Part 1

It’s time for my annual April visit with my sister in the States. As you know, I’m always intrigued by the effects of travelling across multiple timezones in short periods of time, of effectively being “no place and no time” in a plane for hours. I’m here safe and sound at my sister’s but still a bit jet lagged, so I decided to share with you from the archives, The Strange Encounter with Mr. Sands  — a two-part story inspired in part from entering the twilight zone at Seattle International Airport last year at this time and wondering if I’d ever get out again.

After the completion of Mr. Sands’ tale, one of my readers told me that to her it felt like there should be more to Mr. Sands’ story. And who knows, maybe there will be. But for now, here is part 1 from the archives with part 2 to follow. Enjoy!

 

 

The Strange Encounter with Mr. Sands Pt I

Warning: Adult Content! 

I woke up in the first class cabin sprawled across my upgraded seat. The blonde flight attendant, Maggie was her name, had placed a cool cloth over my forehead, and the other attendants herded the last of the passengers off, looking anxiously over their shoulders at me.

“Did I pass out? What happen?”

“It’s all right,” she said. “You’ve just had a very intimate visit from Mr. Sands, that’s all, but you’ll be fine. In fact you’ll be better than fine in a little while. Here, drink some water, and I’ll help you off the plane and get you something to eat when you’re ready. I promise, I’ll do my best to explain everything.” She held the bottle to my lips.

As I sipped, my strange encounter with Mr. Sands all came back to me with a little clench and tremor of the muscles down deep below my belly.

It hadn’t been exactly like an electrical shock when the man brushed against my arm in the queue at baggage check-in, but what I felt was just as much of a shock to my system. What I felt – and I know this is going to sound insane – but what I felt was an orgasm. It was just a brush – his arm against mine, as the desk agent motioned him past me and his hand settling onto the small of my back to steady me when I nearly lost my balance at the impact of what had been way more physical than if he’d flattened me. He offered me a smile, and a soft-spoken apology that I barely heard over the hammering of my heart and my efforts to get myself under control. I remember thinking I’d never seen eyes so blue on a man with such coal black hair. Strangely enough, he approached the desk with no bags to check, and yet whatever he had to say to the agent must have been important. He had her full attention – in fact she was totally entranced by him, though for his part, he seem distracted. He kept glancing back at me and smiling, as though he knew me, and I kept thinking how arrogant I was to think he was actually looking at me. Whatever it was he wanted, the agent nodded enthusiastically leaning into his personal space so close he could have kissed her if he’d chosen to, and I confess I held my breath thinking that he might, and not sure if I wanted him to or if I wanted to believe that I really was the center of his attention.

After only a minute, he thanked the agent and gave her hand a little pat as he might have done to a favorite pet. He gave me one last glance that I felt way down deep in my center where my insides still squirmed and clenched from his touch, then he turned and walked off toward security.

“You’ve been upgraded to first class, Ms. Dempsey.” There was a blush on the agent’s cheeks, as though the man had done way more than just brush her hand with his, and frankly her struggle to breath and the dewy sheen on her forehead had my imagination running wild before the fabulous upgrade could sink into the brain of someone who has long been resigned to an in-flight experience of traveling cattle car class. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she’d just had the same response to the dark man with the blue eyes that I did. As I made my way to security, three attendants fell into step behind me.

“Mr. Sands is on the flight; did you know?” Said the petite blonde, with a short bob, who I later learned was Maggie. Her voice had that breathless fan-girl quiver brought on by the presence of celebrity. I racked my brain trying to think if I knew any famous Mr. Sands. I didn’t, but then I didn’t keep up with pop culture very well.

“Oh God! You’re kidding me,” the male attendant in the middle said. “Are you sure? He hasn’t done JFK to Heathrow in a while. I hate to say it, but I was hoping he’d got bored with us and decided to check out some other night flight.”

“You shouldn’t talk about him like that, Hal,” the blonde replied. “All I know is that Kaitlin said he came to her desk personally, asking for an upgrade.”

“An upgrade? Seriously? Wow! Someone’s gonna get lucky this flight,” said the willowy brunette on the other side.

“Sh!” the man replied. “Don’t be so disrespectful. He’ll know. He always does, and he won’t like it.”

I slowed my pace just enough to let them pass, then fell in behind them intrigued by this Mr. Sands, whoever he was. Apparently he was on my flight.

“Well at least this time there are no newbies on the crew,” The brunette said.

“That’ll make things easier,” Maggie replied. “I hate having to deal with their reactions. Makes it hard on the rest of the crew. Well at least the first timers get a warning now, which is more than I did when it was my turn.”

What the hell, was the man a groper, I wondered?

“They may get a warning, but who the hell would believe it,” Hal said.

I was just about to pluck up my nerve and ask who this Mr. Sands was, when the three squeezed onto a lift and
disappeared in a wave of Japanese tourists while, being slightly claustrophobic, I opted for the next one, which was less crowded. I wasn’t much on celebrity, and whoever this Mr. Sands was, he had nothing to do with me.

In the lap of luxury, I forgot about the mysterious Mr. Sands and enjoyed my meal and the fact that I could stretch out without bumping into anyone. In fact, I had more than just a seat to myself. There were several seats to either side of me empty, and all the other seats were occupied by people who couldn’t wait to settle into a good night’s sleep. I didn’t think I’d sleep at all, and I really didn’t intend to, since I figured I’d never get another chance to enjoy first class. I was wrong though. I was asleep almost before the attendants anxiously cleared the dishes. In fact, they seemed downright skittish, which I thought rather unusual for first class, but then how the hell would I know?

Sometimes you dream strange things when you travel, and sometimes those dreams can seem very real. I dreamed of the blue-eyed man from the check-in queue. He rose up from the seat directly across from mine, one that I was almost certain had been empty, and then he began to walk among the sleepers, touching each of them lovingly as though they

were his children and he’d just gotten them to sleep. His tender ministrations were interrupted by the unexpected appearance of the blonde flight attendant. “You’re here,” she said, and the fan-girl timbre of her voice was replaces with something more along the lines of fear – fear mixed with lust if that were even possible. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” It was then that I was certain I must be dreaming, because he took her face in his hands and kissed her, and oh dear god in heaven, what a kiss it was! Tongue, there was tongue, moving in little darts and licks as he probed and tasted and tested and teased until the woman opened to him and practically melted into his arms. And then it was over, with a deep intake of breath, he released her then settled her back on her feet, and she turned away as though nothing had happened. Then he kissed everyone in first class, one by one with the same deep probing intensity, as though he

sought something out, and they arched up to meet him in the kiss — some moaning softly, a couple of the men even giving that gut-punch of a grunt men do when they ejaculate. But then I was dreaming, wasn’t I? Me, who never had a dream more erotic that finding myself naked in the middle of the supermarket. With each sleeper, he took his time in the kiss, he let them embrace him, let them touch him, let them stroke his hair, and then he took the kiss. That’s what it felt like to me, at least, that in their sleep, he took the kiss from them, a stolen kiss — almost, and yet no one denied him. Still, I sensed just the tiniest frisson of fear in each of them, but then there would be, wouldn’t there? A kiss from a stranger in a darkened plane could possibly be as frightening as it was intriguing. When the kiss was finished, when he released them, it was immediately clear that they had fallen back into a deep sleep. This he did to everyone around him while I watched and squirmed on my first class bed. It was only when everyone else was sleeping soundly that he turned his attention to me.

 

 

Out Now—Shopping for A CEO’s Wife (Book 12 in the Shopping series) by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor)

Description:

Snowbound. Sounds so romantic, with visions of cuddling before a roaring fire, hot chocolate spiked with brandy, and a secret elopement.

Wait. What?

My fiancé’s father won’t stop trying to turn our pending wedding into a three-ring media circus so he can get free publicity for his family’s Fortune 500 company. My mother has decided she’s done with All Things Wedding and asks her teacup Chihuahua for mother-of-the-bride advice.

They’ve all gone certifiably mad.

Then the stress from the wedding puts my mother in the hospital, I scream at my future father-in-law in front of a camera crew and the video goes viral, and the romantic wedding that started with Andrew’s grand Pride and Prejudice proposal looks less like Jane Austen and more like Dostoyevsky.

So what do you do when you’re a fixer and you can’t fix something?

You give up on it.

Not on Andrew, silly.

The wedding.

Shopping for a CEO’s Wife is the 12th book in Julia Kent’s New York Times bestselling Shopping series. As Shannon and Declan enjoy their newlywed bliss, Andrew’s father wants to exploit Amanda and Andrew’s nuptials, much to Amanda’s chagrin. Can she learn to stand up to her future father-in-law and fight for what’s right? But the real question is: will Spritzy the teacup Chihuahua end up being a flower girl?

Buy links:

Amazon US:  http://amzn.to/2oNZIzR

Amazon UK:  http://amzn.to/2pVrlol

Amazon AU:  http://amzn.to/2m3pTC4

Amazon CA:  http://amzn.to/2mwHdgh

B&N:  http://bit.ly/2l5l9wd

iBooks:  http://apple.co/2mwzcYM

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/2mDjmuK

Google Play:  http://bit.ly/2m3vVmt

Goodreads:  http://bit.ly/2mBCKMg

*****

Excerpt:

Bzzz.

Saved by his phone. Andrew scrolls through his texts with a half grin. I know that look. He thinks he won. Won what? I decide on the spot that we weren’t having an argument. Not even a heated discussion. This is what being in a lifelong relationship is all about, right?

Pacing. I have to pace myself when it comes to conflicts, big and small. Especially small. Letting him think he won this one is important. Give an inch.

Take a mile later.

“It’s Dad again,” Andrew says with that mysterious new tone of voice he’s developed. I watch him as he reads his phone, eyes drifting over the screen, hair messy from the skiing earlier. Deep brown eyes narrow as he reacts to whatever his dad said. The muscle between his jaw and ear pokes out with tension as he swallows and swipes on his phone. He blinks rapidly, but his breathing doesn’t speed up.

He’s irritated, but not angry. Annoyed, but not pissed.

I tuck away his reaction in my mental database.

Lately, I find myself watching him with a strange fascination. Openly, obviously, and without hesitation. Andrew doesn’t seem to mind. I know he knows I’m doing it, but so far, he hasn’t questioned me. If he were to ask, I couldn’t tell him why. I don’t know why.

Yet I do it, day in and day out.

“What did he say now?” I ask politely, knowing the answer.

“It’s about the wedding,” Andrew answers, giving me a look that says, Of course. “He insists we need to hold it at Farmington, like Declan’s wedding.”

“Why?”

“His PR team says it’ll get more press. All the major media outlets will station vans there, and the comparisons will generate easier headlines.”

“What does that mean?”

Andrew rolls his eyes. He reaches across my lap and grabs his abandoned coffee mug. The stretch makes his shirt hike up slightly, exposing his waistline, a thin wedge of tanned muscle coming into sight. I catalog it, like I always do these days, and wonder when this will become boring.

“Dad thinks that the press will be more invested if they can sensationalize our wedding ceremony. ‘Will they or won’t they escape?’” Andrew uses one hand to make finger quotes.

“He expects us to be in Declan and Shannon’s shadow on our wedding day?”

“That’s exactly what I said to Dad! Almost word for word. And I told him no. Hell, no.”

“What was his response?”

“That we should ask your mother.”

*****

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/2cnaTGc

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Illicit Relations by Lucy Felthouse Now Available in Audiobook Format! #audiobook #audible #gay #romance

Lucy Felthouse’s almost-but-not-quite taboo M/M erotic romance novella, Illicit Relations, is now available in audiobook format. Narrated by voice artist Nick Dee, you can now listen to this coming-out romance on the go!

Illicit Relations Blurb:

Terry’s had a crush on his second cousin Justin for what seems like forever. He’s hidden it as well as possible, knowing that the other man is out of bounds, forbidden fruit. Second cousins getting together isn’t actually illegal, but for Justin the relationship is too close—he just can’t contemplate them being together.

But when some new information comes to light about Terry’s birth and his place in the family, the whole game changes. Suddenly the relationship isn’t so impossible, and things soon begin to get hot and heavy.

Audio links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ocNNeZ
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2oLWJ98
Audible UK: http://adbl.co/2obmWfM
Audible US: http://adbl.co/2pxXthN
iTunes UK: http://apple.co/2oDrjUD
iTunes US: http://apple.co/2p0K99s

eBook available here: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/illicit-relations/

*****

Praise for Illicit Relations:

“One of the sweeter stories as it unfolded of the M/M romance that I have read, the sex is hot and steamy, and enhanced by the POV of the characters in the wonder of the moment, and the descriptions used. At just over 60 pages, this isn’t a long and complicated read, but a quick reading story that gives detail and breath to the characters, and provides some incredibly steamy moments for readers, leaving everyone with a smile.” 4 out of 5, The Jeep Diva

“Lucy has done it again with another great story that both entertain and enjoyable to read. Surprises are plenty in this quick read. Solid 4 star read.” In the Pages of a Good Book

“I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a short, highly erotic and romantic read. Illicit Relations would appeal to readers of both sexes.” 4 out of 5, Blood, Lust and Erotica

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller) and The Persecution of the Wolves. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 150 publications to her name. She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. You can also subscribe to her monthly newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Release blitz hosted by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Demon Love — Minus the Selfie

I’m talking demon lovers today. Sorry no selfies of me with a demon. All my demon friends are pretty camera shy. I met a woman once who really believed that god was her lover. I spent an afternoon with her while she filled me in on the details. God’s my lover … What does one say to that? The experience stuck with me and kept coming back to me. I often find myself wishing I’d asked more questions, wishing I’d listened more carefully. But of course the whole experience made me nervous. Still, how could the story possibilities now intrigue me? It was from that kernel that In The Flesh was born, teased out from the big question: What if it was true?

There’s certainly lots of evidence in mythology for seduction of mortals by gods and demons — even in the Bible. But what it it were true, here and now? What would that relationship look like, and what happens if that immortal invisible lover has a wandering eye.

 

 

 

In The Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

Researching God’s Lovers Excerpt:

 

By the time I finished my breakfast and was ready to go, Annie was already fast asleep, curled in her nest at the foot of
the altar. Outside, the smell of burning rubbish stung my eyes and the back of my throat.

I had little enthusiasm for the handbag sale, nor for lingering at the make-up counter. Instead I found myself in a coffee shop, laptop open researching God’s love life, which turned out to be a long history of seducing humans.

Zeus visited Danae in a shower of gold. He seduced Leda in the form of a swan. Eros came to Psyche in the dead of night forbidding her to look upon his face. Hades dragged Persephone down to the Underworld. The Virgin Mary was impregnated by the god of the Bible. In the New Testament, Christ is the bridegroom, and the church his bride. And the list went on and on. Perhaps even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was just another way for divinity to experience flesh.

I had always loved mythology, and I’d read all these stories before. I’d just never put them together to get the whole picture. And though I was seeing an aspect of divinity that I found rather disturbing, I couldn’t help feeling there was still a piece of the puzzle missing.

I suppose I should have felt relieved. Annie wasn’t as unusual as I’d thought. God was the ultimate stalker, and he didn’t seem to be very faithful to his lovers. Just Annie’s type. I tried not to think about the implications of my experience in the bath last night. After all, it was just mythology, and I’d had a lot of wine. And there’s never any accounting for my vivid imagination. After all, I was a writer. I made my living as a teller of tales.

“What are you reading?”

I jumped at the sound of Annie’s voice and quickly minimized the page. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I’m feeling better.”

“How did you know where to find me?”

She leaned down and whispered next to my ear. “My lover’s God, remember? You can’t hide from him.” I barely had time to register shock before she reached down and restored the page.

“Trying to learn a little bit more about him, are we?”  She smiled at the monitor and nodded knowingly. “None of this does him justice. He’s the Hound of Heaven. He’s always pursuing those he loves, and there’s no escaping. Once he’s set his eyes on you, he’ll do whatever it takes to make you his own.”

I suddenly felt cold.

 

 

 

Buy In the Flesh:

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“No one writes paranormal fiction like KD Grace. In penning her tales of myths and magic, she plumbs psychological and spiritual depths that most authors don’t even realize exist. Ms. Grace ignores tropes and conventions, following the trail of her stories down the rabbit hole of her own fertile imagination. The truths she unearths amaze, arouse, terrify and delight.” Lisabet Sarai

 

Celebrating The Tutor at 99c/p with Chapter One

 

Totally Bound Publishing’s fab promo of The Tutor at 99c/p is still on through the 4th of May. SOOO! To tease and titillate you — and because who doesn’t like to read a bit of a novel before they decide to sink their teeth in — today I’m giving you the whole first chapter.

So go ahead! Indulge in sizzling spring romance and a sizzling price. A good read is always a bargain.

 

The Tutor Blurb:

Struggling writer, Kelly Blake has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues. The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.

 

 Buy The Tutor Here: 

eBook:
Totally Bound Publishing
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
iBooks US
Google Books
Kobo

Print:
Totally Bound Publishing
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

 

The Tutor Chapter One:

“Get out! Get the hell out now! Dillon! Dillon, get this bloody woman out of here!” Lex managed to keep his knees locked and his feet under him until the blasted model, robe slung hurriedly around her, clothes and bag bundled in her arms, was out the door and out of his sight. Then he collapsed in a heap, the floor coming up to meet him with a breath-jarring thud—not that he could breathe anyway, not at the moment at least. The room spun around him like a tilt-a-whirl at an amusement park, and his skin slickened with cold sweat. He knew the fucking drill by now, but it never got any easier and never got any better, not even when he was expecting it, and he sure as hell hadn’t been expecting it this time. As he fought back nausea and vertigo and several other little unpleasantries his doctor had slapped labels on so long ago that he couldn’t recall their names, he heard his PA passing the horrid model, who was now blubbering as though she were the injured party, off to V. Officially, V may have been just the housekeeper, but he and Dillon had long contended she was an alien sent from her distant planet to study Earth and see if there was intelligent life. The Valentine House, they joked, was probably not the ideal place to succeed in her mission. Still, the woman had persevered. They figured it was only because of her alien intellect and a sense of humor that allowed her to handle all the insanity with grace and aplomb.

Which was way more than he could manage at the moment, lying with his cheek plastered against the cool slate tiles of his studio, listening to the rush of footsteps and the woman’s nearly hysterical sobs as V—her name was Vida, but they’d always called her V, calmly led her away to someplace where she could change, have something warm to drink and maybe a bit of whatever Cookie had baked that day. After that, she’d be paid well for her traumatic efforts, politely reminded of the non-disclosure agreement she had signed before she came to model for Lex, and sent on her way. She would not be back.

Another treacherous tilting of the floor and a quick spin of the room had Lex praying to the gods of equilibrium and dignity that he could at least manage to keep his breakfast down. Though dignity was already well gone, he thought. Cautiously, he half opened one eye, and got a quick glimpse of a well-polished pair of loafers before he slammed it shut again and

 

decided there was wisdom in holding his fetal position on the studio floor for just a little bit longer. After all, Dillon had seen him in far worse situations.

“You gonna be all right?” Dillon asked softly.

Lex made some non-committal sound at the back of his throat—about all he could manage at the moment. He heard the brisk clip, clip of Dillon’s loafers across the slate, then the sound of running water and the footfalls of his return, and when Lex could smell the spicy dark scent of his PA’s soap, he risked reaching out for the glass of water he knew the man had set down next to him.

“Anything else?” Dillon asked. “Do you need to throw up?”

“No. I’ll be fine,” he said, easing himself ever so carefully into a sitting position, still holding onto the floor with one hand and keeping one eye shut. He took a cautious sip of water. “She touched me,” he managed after he felt confident the water would stay down.

“I gathered,” Dillon said, settling on the floor next to him.

“She came up behind me while I was finishing the sketch. Honestly, I thought she was gone. She was supposed to be gone. Then she—Jesus, Dillon, the next thing I know, she’s all over me, and she was cold, so fucking cold.” For a second he thought he might change his mind about throwing up after all as, with a hard shudder, he recalled the chill of the woman’s bare flesh against him. “And I couldn’t get away from her. I couldn’t get her to leave me alone, and she was cold, she was just so cold.”

“Fuck, bro! I’m so damn sorry,” Dillon said. “I was just outside in the hallway. It all happened so fast.” The studio door was always kept open and, when Lex worked with a model, someone was always close by. But there had never been an incident before, so protocol had gotten lax.

“I mean what the hell? I swear I didn’t do anything to make her think… I mean, I wouldn’t. You know I wouldn’t.”

“I know that, man. I know that. Besides, she knew the rules. They all know the rules before they work with you.” He stood and looked around the room until he found the blanket Lex kept handy for models to wrap up in between sketches and on breaks, then laid it on the floor next to him and plopped back down. Lex pulled it around him with a shiver. Even in early summer, the studio was fairly cool and models were warned ahead of time that Lex preferred to work in an unheated space. “There’s just something about a vulnerable man that

 

sort of gets the female of the species right here.” Dillon tapped his palm against his chest. “Makes ’em want to get all nurturing and rescue-y, you know?”

“I don’t look vulnerable. Do I look vulnerable to you? And I don’t need nurtured or rescued.”

“Trust me,” Dillon said, “you don’t have to be vulnerable for them to see you that way. And let’s face it, there you stand, the long-suffering artist with that mussed hair and just the right amount of stubble, like maybe you just got out of bed, and they start thinking maybe it should be them you just got out of bed with. Hell, bro, I’d be after you myself if I wasn’t your best friend.” He shrugged. “And if you were a little more versatile in your preferences.”

“Too damn bad I’m not, pal. It would sure make my life a whole lot easier.”

“Oh, I doubt it,” Dillon said with a shake of his head. The smile on his face darkened. “I seriously doubt it.”

Dillon knew about complications in relationships. He knew way more than he ever told, Lex was sure. But at least Dillon could have a relationship.

“Is he all right?” There was a clatter of dishes and silver and V blew into the room with a tray loaded down like it was mealtime. “He didn’t throw up, did he?” The two of them always talked about him as though he were their seriously ill patient who had lost all cognitive skills.

“No, he didn’t throw up.” Lex managed a fair imitation of her voice that earned him a jaundiced look, but nothing else. If he didn’t throw up, V fed him. If he did, she waited an hour then fed him. He grudgingly admitted that Dillon and V together knew exactly what he needed and they didn’t let him intimidate them out of it.

“Well then, he needs something warming to ground him. Cookie’s potato leek soup and a nice cup of chamomile tea is just the ticket,” she said, plopping down on the floor next to the two of them.

To his astonishment, she managed not to spill either soup or tea in the process. Once seated, she efficiently poured tea as though they were at the dining room table rather than plunked down on the studio floor discussing his unexpected close encounter with said floor and what should now be done about it.

 

“I’m not hungry.” But he grudgingly spooned up some soup and swallowed it back just to make her leave him alone. He had to admit it tasted pretty damn good, so he had another bite while they went right on talking about him as though he weren’t there.

“Well, I can certainly understand why the poor woman thought he needed a little cuddling,” V said. “Look at how pale he is. He’s the epitome of the suffering artist.” She eyeballed the soup then him with a gesture that needed no words, so he shoveled in more soup. “But I really thought Ms. Philips was a keeper. I thought she understood the ground rules and would abide by them. Poor dear was ever so upset when I left her with Cookie. I’m sure she’ll never do it again.”

“She won’t because she won’t get the chance,” Lex said, this time dropping the spoon back onto the tray with a loud clatter. “I can’t run that risk.” Besides, he didn’t want to try to sketch someone who had seen him so vulnerable, who had seen him…not at his best.

Dillon helped himself to one of the homemade Parmesan bread sticks and spoke around a mouthful. “I’ll start looking for someone else. We always get résumés. Most models would kill for an opportunity to work for him.” There they went again, speaking around him.

“Don’t the two of you have things to do?” he said.

“Not till you finish your soup and drink some of that tea too. It’ll help calm you,” V replied.

He was their boss. He could force the issue, but they both knew he wouldn’t, and he knew that whatever it was they had to do would get done and then some.

“I’ll make sure he finishes, V, darling. Why don’t you go get on with the accounts? I know you’re up to your eyes in it at the moment.”

“Well, if you’re sure.” She shoved her way to her feet with a cracking of joints heartily protesting time spent on the hard floor. “Make sure he doesn’t get up until he’s ready. And make sure he drinks that tea,” she called over her shoulder as she headed for the door. At the last second, she turned and gave him one more look-over, just in case they’d missed something, just in case this time was different than all the other times they’d sat with him until he could function again. Something was different, but he wasn’t about to tell V that.

When they were both sure that the housekeeper was gone, Dillon turned his eagle eye on Lex. “Well?”

 

Lex did his best to focus on the last of the soup, but Dillon had been his best friend for years, long before he was his PA, and he didn’t miss much.

“You had a naked model with a very nice, very natural rack rubbing up against your back before you went ballistic on her then hit the floor.”

“You’re seriously asking me if I got a hard-on from this whole experience?”

“Well, not the whole experience, obviously, but didn’t you, you know, feel something before you felt what you usually feel?”

“Not long enough for it to cancel out the old reliable, if that’s what you were hoping,” Lex said, downing the now tepid tea in a single gulp. He fought back a blush. “Besides, these days it wouldn’t matter if I were doing the accounts for V, I’d still be…uncomfortable. It’s ridiculous,” he said. “If I don’t figure out what the fuck my problem is, and soon, I’m going to have repetitive stress syndrome.” He flexed the fingers of his right hand. “Can’t be all that great for my work either.”

Dillon shot a glance back at the door on the outside chance that V might be eavesdropping, which the woman wasn’t above doing. Then he scooted a little closer, careful not to make any physical contact, and spoke between barely parted lips. “I might have an idea.”

“You might?” Lex shooed the man away from the last breadstick with a snap of the napkin against his wrist, then grabbed it and chomped one end.

“Give me a little time to research it and I’ll get back to you,” he said, rubbing his wrist as if Lex had actually wounded him. Then he rose to his feet and left him to eat the last of his breadstick in peace.

He knew how Dillon was when he had an idea. He was never sure whether to be excited or terrified. He forced his way to his feet and turned his attention back to the half-finished sketch of Sally Philips now lying on the floor next to the overturned easel among a scatter of other sketches. He had given the whole thing a shove when she’d trapped him between the easel and her half-naked body. Even as he shivered at the thought of her cold touch, he felt a tightening in
his jeans.

“Fuck,” he whispered under his breath. He wadded the drawing into a ball and tossed it across the room. Truth was, he’d had a hard-on the whole time he was sketching her, but that was often a part of the creative process. He’d read enough to know that creative energy was

 

very closely linked to sexual energy and libido, but under the circumstances, he had very little outlet but a good jerk-off session. Surely Ms. Philips hadn’t noticed his chub. He never wore anything that might give away his secret when he was working with a model. Surely she hadn’t thought that he was interested. He wasn’t. Even if she had been his type, he had given up hopes of anything resembling a relationship or even a quickie with a stranger in an alley a long time ago. He righted the easel and picked up the sketches, organizing them and placing them back in the pad, careful to extract the ones he’d done of Sally Philips. A setback, indeed. They were nearly done. Only a few more sketches and he’d have been ready to begin work on the sculpture for the new women’s and children’s hospital, but he knew he’d never be able to see sketches of her now without breaking into a cold sweat and feeling slightly nauseated, neither of which was conducive to creative efforts.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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