When physical touch is impossible, intimacy may become a powerful work of art or a devastating nightmare—but, above all, it’s an act of trust.
Struggling writer Kelly Blake has a secret life as a sex tutor—it pays the bills. Celebrated sculptor and recluse Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito for what he sees as his ‘self-abuse problem’, the results are too hot to handle.
Kelly terminates their sessions due to her unprofessional behavior, and Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. After 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. They discover quickly that touch is not the only road to sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.
|Publisher:||Totally Entwined Group Ltd|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Voted ETO Best Erotic Author of 2014, and a proud member of The Brit Babes, K D Grace believes Freud was right. In the end, it really IS all about sex, well sex and love. And nobody’s happier about that than she is, otherwise, what would she write about?
When she’s not writing, K D is veg gardening. When she’s not gardening, she’s walking. She walks her stories, and she’s serious about it. She and her husband have walked Coast to Coast across England, along with several other long-distance routes. For her, inspiration is directly proportionate to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She also enjoys time at the gym, reading, watching the birds and anything that gets her outdoors. What she likes best, though, is writing a good tale.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © K.D. Grace 2016. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
“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 plastered 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 the sketch. Honestly, I thought she was gone. She was supposed to be gone. 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 rescue-y, 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. 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 jaundiced look, but nothing else. If he didn’t throw up, V fed him. If he did, she waited an hour 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.
To his astonishment, she managed 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 bite 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 then him with a gesture that needed no words, so he shoveled in more soup. “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 to 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 résumés. 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 eyes 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. At the last second, 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 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 if 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 overturned 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’s 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an interesting scenario. Kelly is a writer who is struggling and needs to bring in extra money so she has a secret life as a sex tutor. This is how she meets Lex who is an artist who can't stand for anyone to touch him so he decides to see if Kelly can help. The problem is that the results are explosive and this causes Kelly to stop helping him but it also causes Lex to step out of his comfort zone. He makes his first ever public appearance in order to show Kelly who he is and she has to end up helping him escape. This leads to people saying they are engaged so Kelly is now the one who has to hide from the press and she hies at Lex's mansion. There she continues to help tutor him but more things end up coming up and they don't know if their intimacy can survive the secrets. I found this to be a very interesting idea and I did enjoy the book. I have never heard of haphephobia and it was interesting to learn about it and "see" it in a practical situation. The way that they have to work through their cravings is very interesting. Kelly and Lex were good characters and it was interesting to see how they progressed through the story.