School is back in session.
History grad James Sheridan thinks his biggest problem in life is trying to find a suitable outfit for his upcoming Ph.D. candidacy exam. That is, until he accidentally texts a changing-room selfie meant for his fashionable sister to his ex, the domineering Professor Carson.
James and Carson haven’t seen each since James fled their power games two years ago. Back in his undergrad days, Carson was his Professor, and not just in the academic sense: a man of unusual tastes and extreme sexual demands, James had been happy to sate Carson’s savage appetites. Too happy, in fact. He never could trust himself not to let Carson push too far.
Now James is older and wiser, and sharing some seriously flirtatious vibes with a cute menswear rep. When Carson replies to James’s errant text, ready to pick up where they left off, James can’t help being drawn back into Carson’s control. It’s only when Carson suggests involving the salesman that James has to ask himself how far is too far, and whether he’s willing to go there with Carson again.
Read an Excerpt
Giving an Inch
The Professor's Rule, #1
By Heidi Belleau, Amelia C. Gormley, Rachel Haimowitz
Riptide PublishingCopyright © 2013 Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley
All rights reserved.
James hated department stores. He hated the gleaming displays, hated the attractive salesgirls shilling wedding registries, hated the mannequins in their Tommy Hilfiger cashmere sweaters and leather loafers. Thousands, no, millions of dollars, all spent on multicolored stand mixers and designer purses and monogrammed fucking towels.
Mostly, though, he hated how being here made him feel like an out-of-touch slob. He didn't know the brands, didn't know what was in fashion. Hell, sometimes he didn't even know whether the shirt he was holding was meant for a woman or a man.
One of his old psych major friends would probably say he was transferring his anxiety about his Ph.D. program application over to the whole clothing issue, but the truth was that material culture—including technology and even basic pop culture—eluded James. Always had.
And his sister Carrie, who was way more up on these things than James could ever hope to be, had called up sick at the last minute, leaving him in the lurch. After a great deal of whining and pleading, she'd at least agreed to let him text her pictures of his various outfits, but that still left the issue of how he was supposed to find those outfits in the first place. Carrie, of course, thought he should just ask a salesperson, but James felt humiliated even doing that. After all, salespeople knew a thing or two about clothes. What would they think of James, in his threadbare old Star Wars T-shirt from the eighties and rotted canvas high-tops? Maybe that he was trying to steal something?
Or maybe that you're a hopelessly unfashionable dude who needs help picking out a suit for a professional presentation.
Too bad voices of reason were so very, very easily drowned out by the anxious swirl inside his head. You know, swirl, as in the motion of flushing something down the toilet?
He wandered from department to department, scowling at everything, fully expecting to be booted out by some manager who thought he was an aggressive homeless drug addict or something. And there came a man now, Indian with a dark complexion and a pin-neat tailored suit.
James put up his hands in surrender and was about to protest, "I'm going, I'm going," when the man said, "Can I help you find something, sir?"
Was this dude seriously seeing the same James—ratty Tshirt, bad hair—that James himself saw in the mirror every morning?
A quick look over his shoulder confirmed that yes, the man was for some reason speaking to him. No other sirs here.
"Uh ..." Well this was certainly a strange turn of events. James had already resigned himself to giving up altogether on the pretense of looking professional and just getting the hell out of there, but here he was getting exactly what he needed.
The salesman tilted his head with practiced patience.
Oh yes, this was the part where James told him what he wanted. Right. "Menswear?" James tried, palms sweating.
"You're in it," the salesman said, and gestured to either side of him, where racks upon racks of men's clothes stood waiting.
Taunting James with their sheer fucking volume.
"Right. Okay. Um, I need ..." A suit? Is a suit too formal? "I don't know what I need," he sighed at last, shoulders slumped in defeat.
The salesman chuckled, the sound not at all unkind. "How about we start with the basics, then? Are you shopping for a specific purpose or event? A job interview?" His accent was wonderful, lilting and precise, with a musicality that pleased the poet in James. "... A date?"
Wait, what was that tentativeness? Was he asking as a salesman, or as a man?
James stared at him, trying to translate the placid smile sketched across his face. Wow, he had full lips, and such a deep red-pink.
"Not a date," he said, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. "I'm single." Er, that definitely wasn't helping matters. James flailed a moment longer, then added, "I'm an academic, and I guess you could say it's an interview ... of sorts. I'm doing my qualifying oral exam, which—oh, I guess you don't really care, do you? Anyway, there's going to be a panel of professors giving me the exam, people who are basically responsible for my future. So I guess it is an interview, just an interview for me to pay them and not the other way round." He laughed awkwardly, tucking his hands in his pockets before he started snapping his fingers or falling into one of his other incredibly annoying anxious tics.
When had he started up with those again? He thought he'd shed those habits four years ago.
"What are you studying?" the salesman asked.
Nothing seemed to crack that patient, kind look. The salesman's eyes were liquid, so dark and mesmerizing. "What field of study are you going into for your Ph.D.?"
"Oh!" James said, flushing hot. "History. Lame, I know."
"Not at all!" The salesman smiled brightly. "It's a fascinating subject."
Jeeze, now the guy was just being too nice. "If you don't want a job when you graduate."
"I don't have a degree in anything, and yet, I have a job."
James, you asshole. "Bet you didn't have to go into as much debt as I did to get here."
The salesman's eyes twinkled. "That's true. So how about a nice pair of slacks and a buttoned shirt? Not a full suit, although I could certainly show you some tie and blazer options so you can mix and match. Can I get you in some elbow patches, perhaps?"
"Elbow patches? You got some kinda dusty academic fetish there, buddy? Because if that's the case, I've got an IKEA shelf just bursting with leather-bound books." He probably shouldn't have said that. Get ahold of yourself, man. You're running off the rails.
The salesman gave him a look that seemed to ride the line between scandalized and amused and possibly flirtatious. Which wasn't really a line so much as it was a Venn diagram. "Right. So. Shirts," he said, and disappeared into the endless racks of clothes.
The salesman assigned James a fitting room, then filled it with more shirts and trousers and blazers than he'd ever seen, much less worn. (Had he even known shirts could come in something other than scratchy polyester blend, let alone silk?) He'd expected a quick in and out: put on shirt, put on pants, snap picture, get a yes or no, move on. But instead, after he was dressed the salesman coaxed him out of the stall again and put him in front of a large, three-way mirror.
Can't get enough of me, huh buddy? The salesman certainly was handsy, but maybe James was just being an ass, assuming that the guy was doing anything other than his job, which apparently included fittings for alterations.
Around the time the salesman stood behind James and pinched the extra fabric at his hips, talking about tailoring and such, though, James began to think it wasn't so much "possibly" flirtatious as "definitely." Couldn't go too far, of course: had to be all professional and whatnot. He didn't do anything that James could make a complaint about if he were so inclined (which he most certainly was not), but the vibe was there, waiting for James to pick up on it.
The vibe was there and so were his hands, right on James's hips, and this shopping excursion was about to get really awkward if James was reading that vibe wrong.
Just how distracted did he want to let himself get, anyway?
He was definitely on a mission; after all, the shopping had to be done. But could he manage to work his digits into the guy's cell phone before he left? Secure an invitation to coffee or dinner or whatever?
He pictured himself charming his way into the guy's pants with tales of Robert the Bruce. Not that geeking out about history had ever worked on a date before, but the salesman had been the one to call it fascinating first. Of course, that could just be flattery to make a sale.
Ugh, picking up guys was way too complicated in meatspace. Maybe the salesman had a Grindr app.
"Let me go grab some pins and a measuring tape," the salesman murmured, glancing down to where the hem of the slacks dragged on the floor several inches below James's ankles. "We can have them taken in a little at the hips and thighs as well as hemmed; a little bit of custom tailoring can take something off the rack and make it incredible."
James nodded, because "I have no idea what you're talking about" didn't seem like it would be all that charming. The salesman lingered just a second more before releasing his hips and disappearing. When he was gone, James looked critically at his reflection, seeing nothing extraordinary about the slacks at all. They were ... slacks. Just slacks.
Then he grabbed the pinch of fabric and turned sideways to try to see what the salesman had seen.
Well, hello there. He wasn't usually one to get all vain about his appearance, but he couldn't help noticing that the pinches did rather nice things for his ass.
He should definitely stop admiring himself and snap a picture for his sister.
Not of his ass, though.
He took one picture and waited for the salesman to return, thinking he'd take one more with them pinned as well. The salesman came back and knelt at James's feet, and hello, wasn't that a fun and suggestive position? Then he gathered those strategic pinches again and pinned them in place before standing behind James to assess what he'd done. James snapped the picture, trying not to think about the last man who'd stood so close, looming above him and sending electric pulses of awareness zinging through his body.
"What do you think?" the salesman asked, pulling James out of his unwelcome reminiscing.
"I think it looks good. I mean, I think it's supposed to look good." He made an exasperated noise. "Oh, I don't know, I'm not exactly an expert."
The salesman laughed.
"I'm actually going to text some pictures to my sister to get her advice on the whole thing. Is that sad?"
"Sad for me because it means you don't trust my opinion."
He put both hands on James's shoulders and gave them a reassuring squeeze. "Kidding! No, it's cool, people do that sort of thing all the time. How about I leave you to do that and bring you back a couple more shirt options?"
"Sounds good." Nodding, James watched in the mirror as the salesman walked away. His mood had taken a sudden dip right at the end there, which he needed to shake himself out of because up until that point he'd been enjoying his almost-not-quite flirtation with the salesman. Paging quickly through the menu on his phone, he fired off a quick text to his sister.
For your approval, J.
The reply came way quicker than he'd have expected from his sickly sister. Hard to imagine she was waiting by the phone for him to text, but maybe she'd been using it to surf Facebook in bed.
Who's the pretty salesman, my sweet?
Shit. Damn. Fuck! Why hadn't he deleted Carson's name from his fucking address book two years ago? James hated the way his breath caught, hated the way he could hear Carson's voice drawling that endearment, hated the way he began to sweat, terror and lust sending his pulse and senses into overdrive in an instant.
As he tried to figure out a way to explain the mistake, or even decide whether to ignore it, his phone vibrated again.
Lose the shirt.
That asshole. James growled at his phone and typed back, What the hell's wrong with it?
Isn't your pretty salesman going to come back with others for you to try on? You don't want to make him stand around waiting.
Fuck it all. How could he possibly know that?
Of course he knew. He always knew. Just a hint and he knew exactly what James was doing, exactly what he was thinking. He'd known from a single fucking picture that there were vibes happening between James and the salesman, after all. Probably getting off on the thought, too.
James was still busy trying to figure out how to put "fuck off" in terms Carson couldn't fail to understand when the salesman returned, three Oxford shirts hanging from his hands.
"Okay, let's try these."
Caught. Trying not to sigh, James started to strip off his shirt. Then his cell phone buzzed again.
Don't bother getting his name.
Don't tell me what to do, you don't own me.
Anymore. James curled his lip at his phone. Stuffing it in his pocket, he smiled brightly at the salesman.
"So, what's your name?"
"Satish." Those full lips curled into a smile as he handed the first shirt over. "I don't wear a name tag because I hate hearing people mangle it."
"Fair enough. Well, I'm James. Pretty hard to mess that up."
He kept expecting his phone to vibrate again, but it was ominously silent as he shrugged into the shirt and buttoned it up. Once again, Satish stepped behind him and grabbed the fabric, drawing it a little more snugly against his torso.
"A size smaller, definitely. And what would you think about a vest? Something that emphasizes the lines of your body instead of obscuring them?"
Oh, Satish, you are most definitely flirting. "What lines? I'm a beanpole—albeit a short one. It's okay to admit it." He flashed Satish a crooked grin in the mirror.
"Not at all," Satish countered smoothly, and set his hand in the lower curve of James's back. "See, right here? There's a dip here. Put a vest on, you'll see it."
His hand felt wonderful, like a lover's. A little possessive.
The phone in James's pocket picked that moment to buzz.
"Sorry," he said to Satish and pulled it out.
What's his name, then?
None of your business, James texted back and stuffed his phone away again. He smiled apologetically. "Sorry.
"Text her about the vest. Go on."
Oh, fuck it all to hell.
Salesman says I should try a vest. Thoughts?
Salesman has good taste. Do it.
Do it. Those two words sent searing need zinging through James's body, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Like iron shavings lifting toward a magnet. Carson had always been like that. Magnetic. Electrifying.
But electricity could kill you if you weren't careful. Best to remember that.
James cleared his throat. "She says the vest is a good idea."
Be sure to send me another picture when you find the right one.
Satish smiled, clearly pleased with the consensus, and gave James another shirt to try on while he went to grab a selection of vests. After he was gone, James pulled his phone out again.
What part of "fuck off" did you not understand two years ago?
You are the one who sent me the pictures and asked my opinion, my sweet.
Well, Carson did have him there. Even if the texting today was an accident, that didn't change the fact that James hadn't deleted Carson's name from his phone when they'd broken up.
It would be so easy to clear up the misunderstanding, explain the mistake, and end this. So why the fuck wasn't he doing it?
I have been nothing but appropriate with you, James. James winced. Ouch. It always hurt when he used the name. You told me you didn't want to see me anymore, so I made myself scarce. I'm a man of my word, and I respect your right to autonomy.
Well, that's a first. James sighed and fired off another message, glancing up to see if Satish was coming back. But you're right. You have kept your word. Texted you by accident today.
Happy accident? Asshole, asshole, asshole. He couldn't go from Domineering Professor Pervert to Sophisticated Cultured Boyfriend just like that. Not now. He couldn't. Because it was for me. You look good. Clearly you're doing well. I'm glad for you.
Oh God damn it. James sighed. Won't know if I'm doing well until Monday. Or whenever they decide on my Ph.D. candidacy I guess.
Well, you know as part of the department faculty, I can't comment on that, but I'm really pleased you've come so far. I'm proud of you.
Jesus. Why did those words still have any meaning to him?
Maybe because once upon a time, a screwed-up sophomore in danger of flunking out had turned his life around because of them. And in defiance of them. Like it or not, James owed Carson everything. God, those first few months, the way Carson had combined sexual and academic discipline ... It had hurt when he'd failed and it had been heaven when he'd succeeded and he'd come to adore both, in their ways. The whole thing had been absolutely mind-blowing, life-changing, and boy had his grades improved.
Carson had driven him until passing wasn't good enough. He'd made James excel.
Funny. Right about now, James could use a little of that reassurance that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to. And having someone to tutor him, guide him, give him a kick in the pants, yeah, all of that.
He swallowed. Considered.
Took the plunge.
Thank you, Professor.
Funny how their relationship had twisted the meanings of completely ordinary academic words. Discipline, of course. Study. Professor. James's mouth was dry just thinking about it. Remembering himself saying "Yes, Professor" and "Thank you, Professor" as he wept with pain from a caning or swallowed a mouthful of foamy cum.
The wait for the next text seemed to take forever.
Go into one of the private changing rooms once your salesman gets back. Tell him you want to try a different pair of slacks. Text me when you've done so.
Excerpted from Giving an Inch by Heidi Belleau, Amelia C. Gormley, Rachel Haimowitz. Copyright © 2013 Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley. Excerpted by permission of Riptide Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsAbout Giving an Inch,
Giving an Inch,
Also by Heidi Belleau,
Also by Amelia C. Gormley,
About the Authors,
Enjoy this Book?,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My first gay romance was rather a nice discovery. A short novel that flirt with a rather dark BDSM relationship. As for the story, James must get a suit to impress on his Ph D exam day. A bit stressed, not having the habit of dressing other than a in casual manner, he text his sister to get her opinion on the costume he chooses. But his text arrives at his ex. A man quite overbearing with whom he had a passionate and memorable relationship few years ago. While battle not to fall into his previous faults and accept all, from the man who was once his master, James is also attracted by the charming rep who helps him pick his suit. A seduction game spiced up by the orders given by his ex. At the end of a hot scene in the fitting room, that cost him his new garde de robe, James left with many promises. Those proposed tenderly as well as those exciting and disturbing that need to be clarified. Very short, light and pleasant to read. The plot and eroticism are pretty well done. To have the clearer idea, I guess I will have to wait for the sequel... Lucie newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.fr