“Now please take this in the way it was intended. You’re a wonderful model, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to use your skills.” My boss’s overly professional smile as he sat perfectly straight in his chair behind his desk only made me more suspicious.
What had he done?
Was his wonderful new opportunity figuring out how to hide Eli’s body because he’d killed him?
Preston was never nervous, so the whole thing was confusing. He was the ultimate cool cucumber because he’d been baptized by fire working with so many drama queens. Not me, of course, I was sweet and calm.
It was the rest of them that were nuts.
Leashes & Lace was a magnet that drew in more interesting people. Something about modeling male lingerie and fetish gear like puppy play tails pulled out people’s more passionate side. At least, that was how Preston had described it the last time a prospective new employee had asked him to describe us.
“I just don’t want you to take this the wrong way.” Preston’s polite insanity had Roman, one of the main photographers and Eli’s partner, snorting from where he was leaning against the far wall behind Preston’s desk.
“He’s not going to go complain to HR if you say something sketchy. Stop pussyfooting around.” This was so weird. But Roman was right, Mateo wouldn’t be any help because hearing about all the shenanigans going on around the office turned him on.
He was sweet and calm too.
Sure, he’d be great if I were actually upset—he could even yell at Eli when he got worked up enough—but I couldn’t imagine Preston doing anything like that. However, there was something weird going on because Preston turned around and glared at Roman. “I’m trying to be professional and make sure he understands he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to.”
Preston’s response was good to hear, but it made Roman snort…and it wasn’t informative at all. The frustrated photographer simply folded his arms over his chest and gave Preston a look like he thought our boss was stupid.
“The only thing anyone does unwillingly around here is get hard.” He might’ve had a point because Preston had said more than once that we could turn anyone on, no matter how straight they were.
However, I wasn’t going to mention that…or what we’d accidentally done to the pizza delivery guy yesterday.
Thankfully, Roman didn’t seem to know about that because he just continued his rant. “But he’s never hated that, and that’s what Luca wants him for.”
Who was Luca?
The small part of my brain that ran on logic instead of caffeine and erections said I should probably ask about the hard comment first. But I was really good at ignoring the sad, boring part of my brain, so I focused on what seemed to be the most professional aspect of this fascinating conversation. “Who is Luca?”
Yep, that was much better than asking about how my erection had come up in a conversation.
Preston seemed to like my question because his whole body relaxed several degrees and his smile looked genuine. “He’s an artist.”
Well, it wasn’t helpful, but he wasn’t being weird anymore.
I was trying to figure out how to respond when Roman snorted. “You’re terrible at this.”
Agreeing seemed rude, but I wasn’t sure what else to say, so I focused on looking cute and innocent. It generally worked for most situations from speeding tickets to getting yelled at in Walmart by angry old ladies.
Roman rolled his eyes, not buying it at all, but that was only because he’d photographed me too many times for it to be believable. “Stop looking at him like that. We’re never going to get to the point.”
Preston on the other hand still thought I was sweet, kind of dirty, but sweet and somehow innocent too. I wasn’t sure how he’d reached that conclusion, but I wasn’t going to talk him out of it. “Just ignore him. We can take as much time to talk through this as we need to. Your comfort comes first.”
Oh, was it going to hurt?
Eli had spanked me a few times, and that’d been fun, but what was the mysterious artist Luca going to do?
Work was so much fun.
Everyone should be able to have conversations like this at work. People would definitely be happier if they had colleagues like mine. “Thank you, Preston. I appreciate that.”
Hmm, what could get this moving along?
Roman looked like his head was going to pop off.
“Artists can be very unique and they come in a lot of varieties. Is he like Eli? Oh, or Wilder?” Too many Eli’s in one area might make the Earth turn on its axis, but Wilder was sweet. He was my coworker Lane’s sexy boyfriend, a tattooed cutie who was an artist and did the best drawings.
Preston’s lips twisted as Roman snorted.
Neither was helpful, but Preston actually tried to get words out. “Not exactly.”
Okay, still not helpful.
Maybe I could just text Eli? He knew everything that went on at work even when he probably wasn’t supposed to. If anyone knew what these two were up to, it would be Eli.
Maybe I could tell them I had to go to the bathroom?
Before I could figure out how to make that work without sounding like I had a stomachache, Roman got tired of Preston’s tiptoeing around the job. “For fuck’s sake, Preston.”
Preston shot him a frustrated glare that Roman just ignored as he turned to me, thankfully not nearly as gruff. “Luca designs corsets. Not just for regular people but he does Hollywood costumes and all kinds of crazy things. That Met Gala thing a few years ago had a few of his designs and everyone went gaga over them.”
That wasn’t weird.
I just smiled and waited to hear what they’d left out because it had to be big…and dirty.
Had I mentioned I loved my job?
Preston sighed, going back to being worried and unhelpful. “But you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Some of the photos that showed up online after the Met thing were…interesting.”
Pot meet kettle.
For a guy who owned a men’s lingerie company, he certainly worried a lot about what Luca was doing.
It made me even more curious…and had I ever watched the Met Gala before?
Roman growled before I could find a nice way to point any of that out. “Stop believing that innocent look. You’re an idiot. He’s as dirty as the rest.”
Roman was so hot when he was angry…not that I was going to mention that to Eli.
When Preston sighed again, I realized we’d be here all day if I didn’t figure out how to move this along without Roman going nuts. “Um, I promise not to be offended by anything and to consider any job offer professionally.”
And to jerk off about it later if it was hot enough.
Roman looked at me like he knew what I was thinking and it just made me harder. “Stop that.”
I giggled which just led to Preston giving us both weird looks. “Sorry.”
I really couldn’t help it.
Glaring at me again, Roman ignored Preston and finally got down to explaining what they were talking about. “Luca wants to do photographs for a new line that he’s working on. It’s got a fairy-tale theme, so he wants it to be modeled on basically a living doll.”
They both paused like I was supposed to have figured something out…and reacted shocked…but I had no idea what they were saying.
Okay, what did I know so far? When in doubt, start over at the beginning and see if retracing my steps made it any more logical. It usually didn’t here, but it couldn’t hurt to try.
Luca was the artist who did the sexy corsets that ended up at the Met Gala.
Luca wanted someone to model the new line.
Modeling might not be the right word for what he wanted.
They were going to be fairy-tale themed.
He wanted my erection.
“He wants this to be an erotic fairy-tale theme, right?” Did I know anything helpful about those? “Like that Sleeping Beauty book by the vampire lady?”
What was her name?
No, that wasn’t important.
What was important?
“Just the corsets? How hard does he want me? How long do I have to stay hard? I might need help with that if it’s a long shoot. Is he weird?” Well, he would probably have to be weird to do anything artistic for a living. “Okay, I probably should’ve asked if he was bad weird.”
Shrugging as Preston started coughing, I decided to focus my questions on Roman. “Are we all going to end up on some documentary because he’s been killing people and keeping them frozen in his basement for steaks later or is he just kinky?”
It seemed like an important distinction to figure out before I agreed to do it.
We’d definitely need someone there to make sure he didn’t try to kill me if he was the serial killer type. If I was going to end up in a documentary, it wouldn’t be because some weird cannibal ate me. “I don’t taste very good.”
“He’s not going to eat you.” Roman rolled his eyes, but I wasn’t sure I could really trust his definition of bad weird.
He was in love with Eli, so…
“We’re going to say good weird and probably kinky?” When Roman shrugged, not able to argue with that one, I kept going. “And the kinky part…the erotic part?”
What the hell was I going to be doing?
Preston hummed and shifted, but I decided it was better than his dramatic sighs so I gave him a bright smile that had Roman groaning. “He’s looking to do several different…let’s say levels of photos.”
Okay, now we were making headway.
“That’s understandable.” He couldn’t just put me naked in a corset and stick me on marketing materials. “So levels of heat?”
Preston seemed to like that word better, so I made a mental note not to call it erotic or talk about my penis. “Yes, that’s a good way to describe it. He’s looking for some traditional shots but others will be more interesting, and he’s looking for a model who’ll pose more like a living doll for some of them.”
A living sex doll.
Hollywood people were so weird.
I had a thousand more questions, but Preston wasn’t the person who seemed to be able to answer any more interesting ones without dying, so I turned to Roman.
He rolled his eyes. “Stop looking so fucking innocent. You’re scaring Preston.”
It wasn’t my fault looks could be deceiving…so I ignored his order.
Besides, he wasn’t my Dom and this wasn’t a photo shoot.
“Luca understands that I’m going to react, right?” That didn’t seem to be the right way to explain my question, so I tried again before Roman could say something else rude. “I mean, he understands that dicks don’t just turn on like light switches and I’m going to have to be legit aroused for this to work, right?”
Some men just didn’t seem to understand how penises worked.
I almost turned to Preston, but he seemed to be looking at the ceiling and talking to…himself, maybe? Did God answer questions about dick management? It was hard to tell what Preston was doing, so I stayed the course and waited for Roman to start working again.
Yay, patience was rewarded.
It was a start, but after another few seconds, he actually answered my questions.
Yay, for professionalism.
“Yes. Luca isn’t an idiot and he’s actually a good guy.” Nodding, maybe to himself, Roman continued. “He understands this is going to be hard for most models to do without it being awkward, so he’s willing to do a regular shoot if that’s what it comes down to.”
It was good to know that he had reasonable expectations.
Maybe he would know how penises worked.
“He also grasps that you’re going to have to be aroused for this to go as planned.” Cocking his head, Roman looked like he was trying to imagine the shoot. “It’ll look…it won’t look right unless you look turned on and not afraid or dead.”
I knew giggling wasn’t the most professional response, but with Roman’s reactions and just the whole thing in general, was so funny.
No. No giggling. I had to look at this logically or Ian and Kenton would kill me. I couldn’t take a job just because it sounded weird…and kinky.
What was important to figure out?
Besides the time frame and salary or payment schedule, the most important thing I could think of was how I’d deal with Luca. If there was no chemistry, even the basic kind between a photographer and their subject, then it wouldn’t work.
I had to be able to get hard, and standing around naked wouldn’t do it.
I’d done that entirely too much for it to be erotic. Most rooms were cold and most people were strange when there were naked people around and that wasn’t erotic either.
Now standing around naked where people were blushing and squirming and hard too…well, that was a different story.
No, no daydreaming.
What had I been saying?
“I have a few basic questions about the regular business side of things, but before I can answer, I need to see some examples of what he’s looking for and I would like to meet Luca.” I thought it was completely logical, but they looked at me silently for a moment before turning to stare at each other.
They were so weird.
Finally, Preston nodded and turned back to me. “I think that’s a good idea. You need to see how you would work with him and he should probably meet you in person first.”
Roman snorted. “I can’t wait for this.”
Did Eli know how rude his boyfriend was?
Smiling sweetly, I gave Roman wide eyes that had Preston sighing again. “I can’t wait to meet a new artist. This is going to be so much fun.”
The way Roman cursed and Preston sighed said it was going to be exciting no matter how it turned out.
This place was so much fun.
Bouncing through life, the only things Emerson knows for sure are that he has the best job ever and one day he’s going to meet the Dom of his dreams. Working at Leashes & Lace has given him a fascinating job and wonderful friends, and now it’s given him Luca…the corset designer who is meant to own him.
Hiding from everything he knows he shouldn’t want, Luca has spent a lifetime building up his business and fighting against his fantasies. Funneling his passion into his work, Luca’s become one of the most sought-after designers in the country and a desperately lonely Dom…until a mesmerizing model sweeps into his life and past every defense.
Sparks and corsets fly when a wickedly sweet doll meets the Owner of his dreams, but even with his stubbornly sexy Owner dragging his feet every step of the way, Emerson knows fairy-tale romances like this always end with happily ever after.