Casey: Leashes & Lace, Book 4
The Puppy Play Photo Shoot
As Tyler smiled over the utter chaos, I knew he’d been the perfect choice to run the shoot. I tried to imagine Roman wading through the pups dashing around on the floor chasing balls, and I had to swallow a laugh. He’d have been miserable, but Tyler looked perfectly at home, despite the fact that he was new to Leashes and Lace as a photographer.
Organizing the shoot hadn’t been as difficult as I’d expected, but I still wasn’t sure how it would all come together. With such a mix of personalities, I knew the pictures would either be perfect or end up looking awkward and pieced together.
Making sure we’d added extra time to the schedule to let them get comfortable together had been a good idea.
“They look so cute,” Eli said with a happy sigh, smiling as he surveyed the pups in the room.
“Yes, but we’ve got a few very nervous models still.” Some of the pups had already met at different functions, and their excitement was almost contagious. However, there were a few who were still close to their handlers’ side, quietly watching as the other pups raced around.
It was designed to be a more candid shoot, so we weren’t looking for stylish perfection. Pups were fun and full of life, and I wanted every picture infused with their excitement and energy. Getting them all into the right frame of mind before we started the more structured portion of the shoot would be key, however.
We watched as Tyler knelt down and rolled a ball to one of the pups still on the sidelines. The handler smiled encouragingly as the pup looked up and gave a low bark. When the handler leaned down and reached for the ball, the pup’s excitement started to build.
Whatever words the handler said were too low for us to hear, but the pup sat up and I could see his tail starting to wag. When the man tossed the ball back over to Tyler, the pup barked again, his head swinging back and forth between the two men.
Tyler’s smile widened as he held it for a long, teasing moment before rolling it back to the handler, clearly trying to tempt the pup. It was too much for the pup to resist. As the ball tumbled past him on the floor, he hopped on it, barking frantically like he’d caught the world’s best toy and it was all his.
The man laughed and leaned closer to run his hand down the pup’s back before bringing it up to caress over the masked muzzle. The pup’s whole body wiggled and squirmed in pleasure as his tail swung back and forth.
Each of the pups were dressed differently, depending on their comfort level, and this one had tiny black shorts under a harness that secured his simple black tail in place. Special gloves gave him the look of paws, and knee pads made it easy to dash around on the floor, but the mask really brought it all together.
The pup’s mask was neoprene, so it was soft and breathable, but the colors and features really brought out the uniqueness of each pup. It was always interesting to see which ones they’d picked to represent that side of themselves.
It’d taken some time to figure out how to handle the puppy gear side of Leashes and Lace. But once we’d realized they needed more autonomy than the more traditional models did when it came to what they wore, it all came together.
Depending on what line we were advertising, the pups got a variety of things to choose from. We’d only had a few times where for some reason one of the masks or tails weren’t chosen, and that usually gave us a good indication it wouldn’t sell in the long run anyway. If the pups who modeled the gear weren’t interested in it, then a curious person who was browsing through the site would probably never be drawn to it.
Originally, we’d started selling some of the gear because we’d always pictured the company as being more than just lingerie and it’d seemed like a good fit. However, it’d really expanded once we’d been contacted by a small manufacturer that had good products but no ability to market them.
As more and more of the public was exposed to puppy play and those kinds of lifestyles, sales continued to grow at a staggering pace. Even Eli had been surprised at last year’s numbers, so we’d decided to make an effort to expand the marketing for that side of the company in the upcoming year.
Hence the photo shoot.
“I know I’m not supposed to ask how things are going, so I’m just going to tell you again that the pups are cute.” Eli’s teasing smile and sly glance made it hard to take him seriously.
“Good.” How things were going wasn’t his business, and I was glad he was at least trying to acknowledge that.
“So things are going good?” His grin said he thought he was funny.
I gave him a stern look. “Eli.”
He huffed. “Fine.”
Then he smiled at the pups. “I was thinking—”
“Don’t start a sentence like that. You’re going to give me an ulcer.” I was mostly teasing.
His mouth pulled tight and one eyebrow went up. I shrugged, not buying the act. “Go on.”
“Thank you.” He took a deep breath, purely for drama’s sake.
“I was thinking it would be fun to do more shoots with pups and their handlers. Most of the time, the pictures they take at home are done by the handlers. That’s fine, but I think it would be sweet to get at least a few more couples where the handlers don’t mind being photographed as well. We’ll put them in generic clothes and make sure the pup’s gear is clearly shown, but their relationship will be the focus.”
I thought about it for a moment as I watched Tyler throw the ball back to the handler to tease the pup again. “They don’t see themselves as the focus, but I see what you mean. There’s a certain sweetness, maybe, to how they interact.”
I let my gaze scan over the room, just taking in the couples and trying to see how the handlers interacted with their pups and each other. “We’d have to catch the right moments.”
Eli sighed again, but that time there was none of the drama. “Some just aren’t that photogenic, though.”
I knew what he was talking about and it wasn’t body types. A few of the handlers looked…stiff and awkward. But then there were some that reached out and grabbed my attention. “The gentleman that Tyler is tossing the ball to, though.”
“Oh yes.” Eli’s tone was mostly businesslike, although there was no doubt he found the smiling, attentive man attractive as well. But before Eli let himself get distracted, he subtly nodded toward the other end of the room. “What about them?”
Them was a couple on the far side of the room, sitting curled up on the floor and watching the chaos unfold. The pup was in a hood that was highlighted with red around the muzzle and ears, and he had a chest harness on that was one of the new items from the line. I’d originally thought the way the straps wrapped around a pup might be uncomfortable, but the way the pup was relaxing against his handler said otherwise.
He was curled up next to the man’s outstretched legs, with his head resting on the man’s thigh. They were both almost asleep, with their only movements being an occasional wag of the pup’s tail and the man’s fingers slowly stroking over the pup’s head. They were perfect.
Well, perfect for the camera at least.
I’d learned early on not to make assumptions about the pups and their handlers. I knew some were with their handlers in romantic relationships as well, but not all would be. Sometimes it was easy to see from their body language, but others weren’t as obvious.
The broad, muscular handler looked a bit rough around the edges and seemed to be a good fit with the aggressive-looking pup, but the sweet way they were cuddled together was eye-catching in a completely different way from the pups that were running and chasing toys. Glancing around the room, I tried to see if Tyler had his camera.
Finding him was easy, he was the only one with a camera in a sea of barking, but getting his attention was almost impossible. He was now slowly working his way through the pups, catching candid moments as they played and barked. Some of the pups would see him looking and ham it up for the camera, clearly showing off personalities that ranged from shy but flirty to Eli levels of outrageousness.
As Tyler straightened again and finally looked in our direction, I put my finger to my lips to keep him from calling out, then pointed to the handler and pup on the floor. Tyler looked confused for a moment until he saw the men and smiled.
Picking up his camera that was hanging around his neck, he focused on them, working his way slowly through the crowd. I wasn’t sure how the photos would turn out since the two men weren’t in the right light and were just propped up against the wall, but at the very least, I thought they’d like a copy of the pictures.
When Tyler nodded to himself and turned his focus back to the other pups, I knew he must have gotten at least one shot he loved. I’d seen that look on his face before, and it usually meant he’d gotten something spectacular.
I smiled while whispering quietly to Eli. “Okay, let’s work on that for the next time we do a puppy shoot. Can you imagine how a whole photo shoot of pictures like that would do on the site?”
Eli chuckled. “It would be cuteness overload. Not really what customers would be expecting, but that’s not a bad thing. Surprising them is good. It’ll keep them on their toes.”
“Not the way I would have put it, but sure, we’ll go with that explanation.” He was insane but not wrong.
As we watched more and more of the pups come out of their shells and start racing around the room, the almost sleeping couple started moving around and seemed to find a second wave of energy. Eli chuckled as they both yawned. “Do you think they were out partying last night?”
“I’m not speculating on their lives.” And if I did, I wouldn’t do it out loud.
Eli grinned. “Would you rather I ask you about your plans tonight?”
“Would you rather I talk to you about getting Lane and Casey drunk?” Two could play that game.
He winced. “They’re not mad, and it wasn’t my fault.”
“It might not be your fault, but only you could take them out to dinner and end up getting them accidentally wasted.” It really had been a priceless Eli moment, one that we’d be teasing him about for years. Even Reece had gotten in on the action. I’d walked by them the other day with Reece giving Eli a warning that Houston said not to get him drunk when they went out to the bar next time.
Eli hadn’t thought it was exactly funny, but he seemed resigned to be the butt of everyone’s jokes for a while. He hadn’t even mentioned the shot glasses that had magically started appearing around him. I had a feeling he was just contemplating the best way to get his revenge.
I hoped his payback didn’t end up with more middle-of-the-night phone calls to pick up a drunk Casey. He’d been cute, but sober Casey wasn’t as comfortable with sharing as drunk Casey was.
Eli huffed. “I’m going to play with the pups. At least they won’t berate me.”
That level of drama meant he was hiding something. “What did you do, drama queen?”
Eli grinned maniacally and waved his fingers at me as he waded into the madness. I chuckled as he crouched down on the floor in his long, flowing skirt and started playing tug-of-war with a brightly outfitted pup who was trying to bark around the rope toy in his mouth.
Eli was having a blast.
Seeing his smile made me second-guess if I’d made the right decision in not pressing Casey to come with me. Yes, he did have work he probably needed to do, but his primary reason for not coming seemed to be nerves. But as I looked around, I had a hard time seeing what there was to be nervous about.
Rationally, I knew it was because I’d been around the scene so often, but to me, they were sweet and funny. I might not want one in my life, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate how cute they were. I had a feeling Casey would see the same thing once he gave it a chance.
However, I had to acknowledge that the energy and sounds might have been a bit much for Casey. As I rolled the idea around in my head, I thought introducing him to this side of the company might be easier in a smaller, more intimate setting.
It wouldn’t be something I suggested yet, but I made a mental note to start talking to some friends about the possibility of going out to dinner together. Casey and I might not have spelled it out completely, but I knew he’d be by my side for a long time, and I wanted him to understand the business as well as get to know my friends.
I’d let some things slide over the past few months—longer if I was honest—but with Eli back in a good head space and helping out more on the business side of things, I wanted to focus on the friendships that had gotten away from me. Casey might always be shy, but giving him the chance to meet other people in the lifestyle would be a good idea.
If he decided it was too overwhelming that would be fine, but from the little pieces he’d shared, I had a feeling he was ready for more real-life friendships that were based on honesty about who he really was. His growing friendship with Lane and Eli only reinforced that.
Moving away from the wall, I forced my head back to what I was supposed to be doing. I’d thought that not having Casey around would keep me from getting distracted, but that didn’t seem to be the case. My shy cutie was on my mind no matter where I was or what was happening, and I told myself it was time to make sure he understood that.
I smiled to myself as I reached down to throw a ball for a pup that was dressed up in lots of pink and sparkles. I couldn’t wait for my evening with Casey. No matter what happened, as long as he was by my side, I knew it would be perfect.
Casey knows what he wants; he’s just not always sure how to go about getting it. He knows he’ll never get Preston, the sexy man who runs Leashes & Lace, to notice him unless he’s ready to open up and step out of his comfort zone. But can he really tell the confident, sweet man that what he wants most of all is a master?
Preston knows that what he wants might be startling for the shy man he’s starting to fall for, but after a year of dancing around their attraction to one another, he knows it’s time to take things to the next level. But will Preston’s wide-eyed accountant be able to accept that Preston isn’t as vanilla as he might appear?
When shyness and secrets stand between two men who are perfect for one another, it might take friends near and far to give them the push they need.
Story Contains: M/m sexual content, mild BDSM, gender-fluid dressing, and two accidentally inebriated subs who lose their filters.
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