Every Inch of the Way (The Professor's Rule, #4)
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Satish Malhotra is in over his head. What appeared to be the hookup of his dreams turned out to be another man’s kinky sex game, and thus ended his relationship with sweet, submissive James Sheridan before it’d hardly begun.
Or so he thought. Being used in someone else’s domination/submission play should have been a deal breaker, yet James—bruises, boyfriend, and all—is too compelling to let walk away. But James has needs Satish isn’t sure he can fulfill, and it seems his mysterious Professor isn’t willing to share.
Can Satish keep James happy in bed and in life, or will James be forced to choose between his dominant and his burgeoning vanilla romance with Satish?
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Fifteen minutes away from the sales counter. An hour at most—just enough time to avoid James coming in to pick up his clothes. That was all Satish needed. Damn it, how hard could it be to get someone to cover for him for a few lousy minutes?
Apparently really fucking hard. Satish had tried to beg out early. He really, really had. He’d asked Charlie, and Amelia, and even called Toni at home. All he needed was to not be in the store for that tiny window of time. That was all.
And yet here he was, wandering the racks of clothing with anxiety eating his stomach, as the afternoon wore on. When he got sick of milling about, he tried to distract himself by neatly folding stacks of shirts and slacks. Even paying super-special close attention to the precision of the creases. It was . . . less than absorbing and left him way too much time to think.
How the hell had he gone from having “a dream boy fulfilling his every forbidden fantasy” to “stomach ulcers” in the space of a day? He’d never stormed out on someone he’d just had sex with before, and the turnaround seemed rather sudden, even under the circumstances.
Now he had to face the guy he’d walked out on and decide whether or not he wanted to listen to anything he might or might not say. Not that he had much of a choice. On the street they may just be two men at odds, but here they were customer and salesman, which meant flouncing out again when James arrived to pick up his tailoring wouldn’t be an option. What was he going to do, tell James to fuck off? He could lose his job for that. But if he listened, he could lose his dignity . . . or worse, what James had told him might actually start to make sense.
If James and his freaking . . . boyfriend? Master? Whatever the hell he was . . . hadn’t played their twisted voyeurism games featuring Satish, this would just be a nice, normal day, and he could be enjoying the afterglow of having had a really successful date the night before. Instead, he was a ball of nerves. And indignation. And self-doubt.
Had he overreacted? James had made it sound so reasonable when he’d explained it, and eventually Satish had been forced to concede that, yes, from James’s perspective, it probably did make perfect sense. But however reasonable James thought it was, it hadn’t quelled Satish’s urge to punch one of those two guys in the face. He hadn’t done it, of course, but he had removed himself from the situation. He had given himself space to think, demanded the right to respect and boundaries. Go him. Who said he was irrational?
He hadn’t counted on having to see James the very next day, though. He’d forgotten all about those damned clothes he’d fitted James for nearly a week ago until he’d come in and seen them waiting, hanging on the rack of stuff scheduled to be picked up. He hadn’t even needed to see the tag to know whose they were. Because how could he ever forget that particular pair of charcoal gray slacks after seeing James’s beautiful round ass in them? He’d put his hands all over those flanks and hips in the guise of getting the right fit. He’d seen them thrown to the floor, and James in just his underwear, inviting—
He groaned, tugging at his hair.
Wasn’t he supposed to be angry about that entire encounter? Scratch that, he was angry. Pissed off, more like. Pissed off for being used, for being toyed with, for being pulled into a dynamic he hadn’t consented to. But here he was, still fantasizing about James. What the fuck was that about?
“Excuse me?” A cultured voice intruded on his mental flailings.
He blinked and turned around quickly, the mask of professionalism sliding into place with a little more effort than usual. “Can I help you?”
“Yes. I’m here to collect a tailoring order for . . .”
The man didn’t even need to finish the sentence, didn’t need to say the words “James Sheridan.” Satish knew who he was looking at.
Damn. Wasn’t that just the perfect dollop of fuckery on top of this whole fucked-up sundae. Not James. No, that would be too easy. It was the one person Satish wanted to encounter even less than James. The one person he wanted to encounter so little that he hadn’t even considered encountering him as a possibility: James’s . . . whatever.
Wow. He was older. Like, a lot older. James hadn’t mentioned that. Not geriatric old, maybe still on the low end of middle-aged, but there was definitely some May-December shit going on there.
Satish wasn’t sure who he blamed more: this guy, for urging James to invite Satish in on a sex game he hadn’t known they were playing, or James, for agreeing to do it. James knew his whatever had a habit of using other men, and had let the guy urge him into it anyway.
It would be easier if he could believe that James was being forced, but he couldn’t. Though James’s back had been a mess of crisscrossed welts and bruises, he had made it clear that he could have refused if he’d wanted to.
Still, whatever James’s culpability, this man standing before him was at least part of the reason Satish had dragged his ass to work this morning fueled by caffeine rather than sleep after a long night of tossing and turning, flipping back and forth between fury and arousal. That made him particularly disinclined to speak with the guy.
Well, no problem. According to James, his whatever recognized Satish, but that didn’t mean Satish must in turn recognize him. He could feign ignorance, hand off the clothes, and it would all be done. No need to face James, no need to hash over things he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear.
But, wait . . . had James really chickened out on this? Sent his whatever instead? What the fuck? After everything, he couldn’t even look Satish in the face to pick up his own damn tailoring?
Oh, look, there he was, bouncing back and forth again. Fuck.
You can’t have it both ways, man. Either James is giving you the space you requested and you’re glad not to bump into him, or you want to have it out and you’re pissed he’s not here. Make up your mind.
He tried to silence his mental voice with a few well-chosen hand gestures. It didn’t work.
“Of course, sir.” There. Paste on a cool, professional smile. Hope his moment of hesitant indecision hadn’t taken so long that it made him look like an idiot in front of the guy. “If you’ll wait, I’ll go grab your son’s tailoring.”
He’d meant it as a cover, not an insult, but when the man’s nostrils flared it still gave him a bitchy jolt of satisfaction. That placated his outrage a little. A very little.
So, James’s whatever was touchy about the age difference, huh? All right, he could turn this situation to his advantage. Game on.
“I’m Professor Evander Carson,” the man said, so calmly that Satish might have almost imagined that instant of irritation. He introduced himself as if Satish was supposed to know what that meant. Had James mentioned a name? Did this Carson guy know that James had told Satish about him, or was he just throwing that out there?
“Oh?” he replied, and felt an evil little smile tugging at his lips. “James didn’t tell me his father was a professor.”
Carson sighed like he found the situation tiresome. “Come now, Satish. Are we really going to play this game?”
Well, crap. That took the wind out of his sails. No fun trying to poke Carson if he wasn’t going to play along. Eh, whatever. He was getting perilously close to endangering his job for the sake of a few petty jibes, anyway. It felt good, but he did need this job. Risk it for a blowjob in the dressing room with James, yes. But not for the sake of goading James’s wh—Carson. He sighed. “Right. Excuse me, sir,” he said with an apologetic nod. “Let me get your items.”
When he emerged from the back room, despite the weight of all the clothing James had purchased nearly pulling his arm off, Satish took the opportunity to observe Carson as he stood waiting at the customer assistance counter. Whatever Satish wanted to think of him, the dude had composure in spades. And presence. Maybe it was because of his age, but it was like he filled the entire store. Then Carson began to turn, as though he knew he was being watched, and Satish started moving again, strolling back to the counter like he hadn’t totally been spying. Carson, if he’d caught on, said nothing. He just casually checked his phone as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
I cannot wait to see how everything is resolved.
[S]exy, intelligent, funny, and both authors work well together.
[A]nother wonderful installment from the creators of the most fascinating erotic romance series on my bookshelf.
[I]f you haven't read the first 3 in this series, stop everything and go read them.
[I] can’t wait to find out the conclusion of James’s future!