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What Gets Us There?

“If you do your part, I guarantee I’ll get you there.”

 

That’s Wolf Jennings’ motto. And to some degree, it’s the theme of my story In Training, Anyone who knows me knows that I love spending time in the gym. For me, it’s been a major life-changing experience, one I thoroughly enjoy. One of the reasons I do enjoy it is because I consider a workout a creative process. I know how to put together a routine for myself with any equipment or with none at all. But I didn’t always, and I didn’t always love it either. I suppose that’s a part of the reason why the big question of my story In Training, from the fabulous British Bad Boys Anthology, is what does it take to get you there? What inspires you enough to make you pull out all the stops and totally go for … well for anything that really matters?

 

As far as getting fit goes, my answer was that I was losing strength, gaining weight and stress from writing four novels in one year was doing a real number on me. Mr. Grace kept nagging me to get to the gym and get a trainer. For a long time I ignored him, but one too many panic attacks in the middle of the night finally made the decision for me. I got a trainer. I figured if I had to pay, I’d make the commitment. In the beginning I paid someone twice a week, and I kept the commitment.

 

It didn’t take long to discover that not only was I feeling better, calmer, but I really enjoyed it. That was four years ago. Now I do it as much because I love it as because I love the benefits. That being the case, it’s not surprising that my heroine, PR guru Lauren Michaels, has to find her own reason for pushing herself. A gym is the last place she wants to be, but her boss has just made her the ‘get fit’ star in a reality fitness show with bad boy personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, who will get her there even if he has to drag her kicking and screaming. At least that’s his plan. But it’s only when she finds her reason to push that Lauren decides she really wants to “get there,” and she wants to do it with Wolf Jennings. Here’s a little excerpt.

 

British Bad Boys Box Set Blurb:

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Come and spend time with a dirty-talking London tattoo artist, a Scottish bad boy, a British gangster who won’t take no for an answer, and MORE! These men are all hotter than hell and have accents to die for. Whatever your desire, you’ll find it within these pages.

Packed full of brand new standalone, steamy stories with no cliff-hangers. With happily-ever-afters guaranteed, you won’t want to miss out on this limited collection, available for a short time only!

In Training Blurb:

Getting fit on reality TV is PR guru, Lauren Michael’s, brainchild for gym equipment and fitness company Physicality, Inc. The brilliant PR stunt involves one brave volunteer who wants to be fit badly enough to submit to the not so tender training techniques of personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, whose successful, but non-conventional, methods would make a drill sergeant look like a fluff ball. But when CEO and owner of Physicality, Inc, Claire Amos, decides her PR ace in the hole needs to walk the talk , Lauren finds herself between a kettle bell and a hard place … er a hard trainer. That’s nightmare enough, but for six weeks, 24/7 the explosive chemistry between the two will be sweated out live on camera for the whole world to see. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Wanna Bet? In Training Excerpt:

“On your knees, Michaels! Do it on your knees. You can’t do a full press-up until we strengthen those spaghetti arms. Do it like this.” He demonstrated the modified press-up. “Now I want you to do as many as you can in thirty seconds.” While thirty seconds lasted forever, as many press-ups as Lauren could do didn’t take long at all before she fell to the mat with her arms trembling. “Damn it Michaels, you gotta be willing to push yourself. I can’t do it for you.” He reset his timer. “Do it again.”

 

“Well this isn’t an auspicious beginning, Misty,” Del Allan said as they observed the training session going on in the gym below. “As much as I admire Claire Amos for believing her people should walk the talk, it’s clear to me that Lauren Michaels’ heart just isn’t in it. One has to wonder why the waste of time, energy and money for someone who doesn’t want to be here when there are so many who really do. I’ve said it before, I hope Physicality has a back-up plan because I’m betting Lauren Michaels won’t make it to the end of the week.”

 

“The real question, Del, is not whether Wolf Jennings can ‘get someone there,’ but whether he can motivate someone to want him to. Certainly this is a world away from what Lauren is used to, and apparently she didn’t know she’d be participating until twenty-four hours before.”

 

It was near the end of the fourth day when Lauren finally broke. “I can’t do any more,” she gasped after what seemed like miles of lunge walking back and forth across the gym with a dumb bell in each hand — dumb bells that got heavier with each step. “I need the hot tub. When do I get to use the hot tub?”

“When you’ve earned it,” Jennings growled. “Now do it again.”

“I hate you,” she forced the words out, no longer caring if the ever-present cameras picked up her remark or not. She reckoned that would be one more reason for the ‘sack Lauren and hire me’ faction to tweet nasty things about her. It’s not as if she wouldn’t trade places with them in a heartbeat.

“I’m not here for you to like,” came the reply. “Keep your back straight, shoulders back. Head up!”

She was halfway across the gym when one of the dumb bells slipped from her sweaty fingers, hit the floor with a loud crash, and she tripped over it doing into a belly flop in the middle of the gym.

“Get up. Keep going,” Wolf yelled, jogging effortlessly to her side. “Don’t be a wimp, Michaels. Finish it. I don’t train babies. Stop whinging and keep going.”

“I hate you.” This time she all but yelled it as she hefted the sweaty dumb bell and forced her way forward a couple more steps before she dropped the weight again — this time on her foot. It was only a glancing blow. She jerked away just in time, but it was enough. It was fucking enough! She dropped the other weight next to its fallen compadre and stormed back across the gym.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” He said, “You’re not done yet.”

“Oh yes I am.” She grabbed up her sports drink and her towel.

“What? Are you a quitter, Michaels?” Jennings stepped in front of her effectively blocking her way, “Is that it?”

“What I am is sick of you yelling at me, sick of you treating me like a sub-human.” She hadn’t planned it, but when he didn’t move, it just happened. A quick twist of the lid on her sports drink and she let it fly. Her aim was true, hitting Jennings in the face with a shower of bright orange Lukozade. Then she stomped off toward her room. She hadn’t expected him to follow her, but then there were a lot of things she hadn’t expected about the man she’d met at the pub less than a week ago.

Legs still screaming from the workout, she took the stairs two at a time with him gaining on her fast. At the top, he called after her. “They’re taking bets on how soon you’ll quit. Did you know that, Michaels?”

She stopped, dead in her tracks, as though she were suddenly frozen to the spot. For a second she squeezed her eyes shut, fighting back tears. Then she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and headed back toward the stairs, stopping in front of him to meet his cold glare. “Then they’ll lose.”

Fucking hell! Did she just say that? Surely she didn’t mean it. She would do almost anything to get out of this chamber of horrors, and yet here she was marching back downstairs, picking up the goddamned dumb bells, taking a deep breath and willing her legs to move forward. When she got to the end, instead of stopping, she gave Jennings a defiant glare, from where he now stood at the foot of the stairs, then she turned and headed back across. Somewhere a long way off, she could hear gasps and chatter from Wolf’s mezzanine fan club, but it didn’t matter. The world around her narrowed to the in and out drag of her breath, the pain in her quads and the slow step and lunge, step and lunge, that pulled her forward.

At the end, she dropped the dumb bells and bent over gasping, eyes clenched shut, hands on her knees. When at last she had the strength to stand up, she was surprised to find him next to, hair still dewed in orange. He handed her a bottle of water and a towel. While she drank, he wiped his face on his shirt.

She didn’t look at him, she was still battling the urge to cry. She knew all eyes were on her. After the drama she was now embarrassed to have caused, that was a given. But it was only Wolf Jenning’s eyes she felt in ways that were somehow even more intimate than his kiss at the pub. At last she handed him back the bottle and struggled to meet his gaze.

“That’s better,” he said. “Now drop and give me ten. Pull a stunt like that again and I’ll shove you on the treadmill till your Reeboks wear out.”

She did as he ordered, counting each press-up out loud and hardly feeling the effort, dazed as she was by what had just happened.

 

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Fab and FREE: Highland Pursuits by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

 

Emmanuelle de Maupassant recently launched her saucy 1920s romance romp: ‘Highland Pursuits’. To celebrate, she’s offering a FREE copy for your Kindle – but only for a few days, from 22-25th May. Don’t miss out.

Amazon US

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Do drop your name in the hat here.

 

 

 

 

 

What Readers are Saying:

 

 

 

I can’t tell you how much I love this book. It was a true delight to read. The author has captured 1920s
Britain wonderfully, and her detail is exquisite. –
Rachel De Vine

 

As a comedy of manners, this is exceptionally well done. – Fionna Guillaume 

 

Highland Pursuits is a wry, clever, incredibly sexy romp… a completely engrossing, utterly enjoyable read. I can’t recommend it highly enough…fabulously fun – Malin James

 

The scene was set beautifully… I felt like I went back in time to high society Scotland – Christine of Sweet and Spicy Reads

 

 

 

 

Find ‘Highland Pursuits’ on Goodreads and for sale on Amazon

 

Pssst…  if you enjoy Highland Pursuits, don’t forget to leave a review. Reviews make books more visible online, bringing new eyes. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, tag Emmanuelle in your review post and she’ll say hello. 

 

 

 

 

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Out Now—His Everything: A Taboo Love Story by Delilah Hunt #eroticromance

His EverythingBlurb:

Jules and I grew up together, living as brother and sister. Two different moms and the same drunk, abusive sorry excuse for a father Larry.

I’d always wondered why the old man and I couldn’t stand each other, until the day he let me know the truth–he wasn’t my real father.

When social workers finally took Jules and me away from him, she became adopted, and I bounced from foster home to foster home, landing myself in trouble until I wised up, trained like a beast and became an MMA champion fighter.

On the day Jules re-entered my life, I took one look at her cute round face and luscious curves and knew I was a goner.

There’s not a damn thing brotherly about the way I feel for my girl. Jules belongs to me, always has and I dare anyone to tell me what I feel for her is wrong or that we shouldn’t be together.

 

Warning: This is a sweet romance, packed with tension and explicit scenes and language. This is a pseudo brother-sister theme. Please do not read if this might offend you.

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2qrEXJE

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2pShRKc

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2rl11Vr

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2pEMQhM

 

Excerpt

That single realization settles everything. Jules has to be my girl. One way or the other, she has to see we can be more to each other. On that thought, I swallow down the round of nerves threatening to take control of me and hop into my car. Half an hour later, including a drive across the bridge that connects our cities, I find myself pulling up outside the bookstore she’d mentioned. Jules is already on the sidewalk waiting for me.

I rake my gaze over her and feel my balls grow heavy with cum. Only for her. My girl’s hair is held up in a ponytail high on her head with wisps of hair tumbling beside her ears. Her dress is tight at the top, outlining her breasts and cinched at the waist. The thin material flows over her sexy hips downward to the middle of her thighs.

“You have a test or something coming up?” I ask, clearing my throat as she climbs inside to sit beside me. I hope my voice sounds normal, not shaky like I’d just imagined tearing off that dress and whatever she had on underneath to feast my eyes on her naked pussy.

She smiles at me. “Hi to you too.”

Heat races up my neck up into my cheeks. Point taken. That was less than smooth. “I only asked because you were at a bookstore and all. Figured it had something to do with your classes.”

“No,” she says, biting her lip. “I read sometimes–just for the fun of it. Once in a while, it’s nice to go inside an actual store instead of buying online.”

“All right.” I steal a glance at her while watching the road. The truth is, I’m relieved this has nothing to do with her schooling. If Jules gets ready to start talking about college and all that stuff, I won’t have anything to say. The last thing I want is to open my mouth and have her look at me like a dirty ex-con, high school dropout. Then again, I’m not even sure she knows about my time in prison.

“You don’t look bad,” she murmurs out of the blue as the car winds around a curved path leading back to the bridge.

“No?” I chuckle, wondering where she was going with this. “I never thought I did. You trying to tell me something, Jules?”

Her cheeks turn a dark strawberry shade of red. So damn sweet. Exactly how I imagine her lips to taste. “I meant because of the fight. I guess it’s a silly comment though, considering I read that the guy you fought ended up being taken to the hospital later that night.”

“He’s okay, Jules. It was just a precaution because of the strikes he took to the head. More for insurance reason than anything else. Trust me; he’s gonna take a whole lot more if he wants to stay in this sport.”

“What about you? I didn’t see you getting hit in the head.”

Concern for me again. “I know all about how dangerous head injuries are. I don’t train as hard as I do to take hits better. I train to avoid them, especially the ones to the head. It’s all a part of Harv’s coaching method and one of the reasons I train with him.”

Her shoulders relax with what looks like relief. I use this opportunity to test the waters, see how much she’s willing to admit. “Still worrying about me after all this time?”

Jules turns to face me, her eyes locked onto mine. “Always Maddox. Always.”

Always sweetness. Always. Had she noticed what I’d called her in a moment of madness over the phone? Guess so. My throat tightens and my chest aches with so much love for this girl. A moment passes between us. It feels like the air’s been sucked dry. Focusing on the road and keeping us safe, was the only thing stopping me from leaning over and sampling her luscious lips.

No Sanity.

Jules makes a little sound in her throat then sweeps her tongue across her lips while looking at me. “Did you have fun at your party Saturday night?”

“Not as much as I should have.”

“Why not? You earned that big celebration.” Her brows go up, but her voice dips, so low for a second I wasn’t sure I’d heard her correctly, until she adds, “Or weren’t there enough girls to keep you satisfied?”

“Keep me satisfied?” My hands tremble on the steering wheel. That comment… So unexpected. Hell, that sounds like something a jealous bitch would say. Jules is the furthest thing from a bitch. Is she jealous?

Be jealous Jules. Fuck if I don’t want her to be green and bathing in envy. If she was… I draw in a low breath, my mind racing, spinning out of control. That would mean I’m right and she sees me as more than a brother. Might even be as wet for me as I’m painfully hard for her.

“Jules…”

She shakes her head and looks toward the window. “I shouldn’t have made that comment. It was out of line.”

Her jaws tighten and her fingers are locked together, resting on her lap. All right. I’ll give her some time to cool down. “I hope you know we’re not done with this conversation.”

At that she snaps to the side, facing me with a look of utter confusion on her pretty face. “I’m sorry I said anything. There’s nothing else to discuss. Really, Maddox, it’s none of my business what you do.”

I keep quiet for a while, planning my next move. Once we’re at the gym, I kill the engine and glance over at Jules. She’ still staring out of the damn window, been at it for a good ten minutes. Annoyed, not at her but myself for not knowing the best way to get around all this bullshit, I pull the keys out of the ignition, louder than necessary to get her attention. She looks at me, blinking in surprise. Good.

“Do you want to make it your business?” I grate, unable to mask the edge of anger in my voice.

“Make what my business?”

“Me. Maybe I want you to have a say in what I do. Just like I’d like to have a say in what you do. We can be in each other’s business if that’s how you want to put it.”

She stares at me, her brows furrowing then slowly relaxing. Jules sinks a tooth into her bottom lip, appearing unsure while all I can think about is taking those lips between mine and sucking deep, while I feed my cock into her.

 

Author Bio

Delilah Hunt lives in Germany with her husband and three children. From the moment she opened her first romance novel at the tender age of twelve, she has never looked back, holding this genre close to her heart. Apart from writing and reading, Delilah Hunt loves to be outside, going for long walks and getting ideas for her next books.

If you enjoyed this book and any of her other books, please be sure to leave a review and stop by her site at www.delilahhunt.com to see what else she is working on. Thank you.

Social Media

Twitter: @Delilah_Hunt

FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012761610593 (Delilah Hunt)

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.

 

Lex Valentine: Do NOT Touch!

 

Yup! It’s week two and The Tutor is still only 99c/p. As promised, I’m going to give you tastey tidbits and titillating insights into Lex and Kelly’s world. Monday’s a good day to start at the beginning.

 

We have five senses. We use them all without thinking, but as a writer, I’ve always been intrigued by what it would be like to live without one – one that we use most often. If you’ve read The Initiation of Ms. Holly, then you know the story hinges on not being able to see the face of a lover. In To Rome with Lust, I concentrated on bringing the sense of smell to the forefront to the point of it being nearly a curse.

 

In The Tutor, I take away the one sense that we never lose, the one we most rely on in our everyday life. I take away the sense of touch. Sculptor, Lex Valentine is severely haphephobic — not being able to touch anyone else or allow himself to be touched. Within that context, I wanted to explore intimacy and how it would develop – if it even could develop – without the aid of human contact.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Do Not Touch! — The Tutor Excerpt:

“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 pressed hard 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 up the sketch. Honestly I thought she was gone. She was supposed to be gone. And 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 rescuey, 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, and 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 jaundice look, but nothing else. If he didn’t throw up, V fed him. If he did, she waited an hour and 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, managing, to his astonishment, 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 one 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 and then him with a gesture that needed no words, so he shoveled in another bite. “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 and 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 resumes. 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 eye 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, where 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 and 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 though 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 over-turned 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 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.

 

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© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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