The standalone follow-on to You Again.
A little learning is a dangerous thing – Alexander Pope
Damiano’s parents have never had any faith in him, so it’s no surprise when his new boss doesn’t either. He’s determined to prove Graham Brandt wrong though, if only he could stop pushing the man’s buttons and dreaming about tearing them off. It’s frustrating being a hot-blooded young man, particularly when your sexy boss is straighter than the level he uses on the job site.
What do you do when your ex-wife won’t come home, and you can’t stop thinking about your obnoxious apprentice? You lose your damn mind, apparently. That’s the only explanation for why Graham agrees to let Dami teach him how to explore his unexplainable desires. When the lessons are over, however, Graham learns he may have misunderstood not only sex education, but Damiano Andropolis. Why does Graham always want things he can't have?
The school of tough love is in session, but who is teaching whom?
Release date: 10/25/22
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Wow. He’s the last person I expected to see.
Crap. Did he need his gloves back? Was there some paperwork I needed to sign?
“Graham!” Johnny startles. “I didn’t hear you come in. To what do we owe the pleasure?”
Are…Graham’s nostrils flaring?
Eyes locked on me, his voice comes out eerily low and gravelly. “What the hell are you doing?”
Before I can come up with a reply, Johnny babbles nervously, “Um, we’re starting a portfolio for Dami. I’m going to put some feelers out for him.”
Graham doesn’t even glance at Johnny. His steely gaze bores into me with a clear message—he has a bone to pick. Great. Just when I was starting to feel optimistic again.
Drawing my legs up, I rise to my feet. Graham tracks my every move, making my skin prickle. It’s still totally unfair that man is straight, even if he hates me.
“In his underwear?” Graham accuses, sparing a heated glance at Johnny.
“Well, um, all models do it. Not that I was comfortable with the idea,” Johnny sputters. “Eh heh. This just…this just looks worse than it is. I mean, we’re related, but I don’t drive that bridge. I see stuff like this all the time. You probably don’t get much exposure to male models in Olympus, so I can see how—”
“I need to speak with Dami,” Graham interjects.
“Oh, um. Sure. I mean, we’re done.”
“Alone,” Graham adds, making me swallow a lump in my throat.
“Uh, right.” Johnny glances from Graham to me and mouths, are you alright? I give a vague nod. The only thing Graham will hurt is my feelings, but it’s safe to say he accomplished that already on Friday.
“Okay, well, um, then I’m…I’m going to go. I told Aiden this’d only take about an hour anyway, so…um. Yeah. Are you two sure you’re okay here? Feels a little tense in here.”
“Fine,” Graham grits, clenching and unclenching his fists.
Gosh. Maybe he’s looking to hurt more than my pride.
“Right.” Johnny laughs nervously. “Bigs boys we all are. Silly question.”
Johnny makes haste leaving the room. A few awkward seconds late, I hear the back door close. As soon as it slams shut, Graham stalks forward.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Man, he looks practically deranged. Shifting, the fur blanket on the chaise lounge tickles the bare skin on the back of my thighs just below my speedo. “Modeling, clearly.”
“You quit on me out of the blue to become a model?”
“I was no good at it. You said so yourself.”
“So you’re just giving up again like all those other jobs you had? How about sticking it out until you get better at it? Did you ever think of that?”
“You said, they’d solve global warming before I ever figured out how to mix mortar.”
“And so you’re going to take your clothes off for money now?”
“What’s wrong with that? I’m not good at anything, but I’m young and I’ve got a decent body, I might as well use it.”
Is he…grinding his teeth together? What is his deal? Why is he even here?
“You’re not quitting. Get your clothes on.” Grabbing my jeans I discarded earlier, he tosses them at me.
Shoot. Did Aiden not give him the message?
“I called Aiden. I already quit, and you can’t tell me if I can quit or not. You’ll be better off anyway without me there screwing stuff up and annoying you.”
Sighing, he waves a hand in the air and starts pacing back and forth. “You didn’t screw up. You’re still learning. There’s a difference. Everyone’s allowed to make mistakes. I’m not going to be the reason you sell half naked pictures of yourself.”
I thought I couldn’t feel any worse, but the idea of Graham pitying me makes my stomach churn. I don’t want to be his charity case. Setting my jeans down on the chaise, I straighten my posture.
“Is that what this is? I’m not coming back because you feel guilty. Me quitting had nothing to do with you. You didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. I get it. I’m just not good at stuff. And I’ve got no problem taking my clothes off. I’m half Greek, half Italian, so it’s like in my genes to be half-naked. Johnny’s a great photographer. He was a big deal before he moved back home, so if I’m going to do modeling, he’s definitely someone I can trust to do things right. His pictures are tasteful.”
“You want to be on a billboard in your underwear for everyone to see you? How is that tasteful?” His voices pitches even though my words were meant to soothe. Snatching up my t-shirt, he shoves it at my chest. “Cover up, for God’s sake. Will you?”
I can handle being ashamed of myself from time to time, but not when those vibes come from other people. This is getting out of hand, even for Graham.
“No!” I snap, tossing my shirt to the floor. “You don’t get to tell me what to do, and so what if I end up on a billboard. I’d be lucky to. You’re not my parents to judge me. What do you care?”
“Would you just get some damn clothes on?” He snags up my jeans again and presses them to my chest. “I didn’t come here to argue with you!”
“Well, it seems like it! Quit shoving stuff at me! Gosh! What is your problem?”
“You’re my problem! You’re so freaking difficult and don’t listen to a damn thing!”
“Oh, my gosh!” I wrench the jeans out of his grip, letting them fall to the floor. “This is so stupid. I’m not your problem anymore. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I left so you don’t have to be pissed off all the time.”
Throwing his arms out wide, he spares me a crazed look. “Well, it didn’t work! I’m still pissed off! Now would you put some fucking pants on?”
“Geez! I’m just going upstairs. It’s not like I’m going to walk around town in my underwear.”
Swooping down, he scoops up my jeans again and thrusts them at my chest. “Just put them on, and then we can talk about work.”
It hits me that he’s barely looked directly at me since he walked into the studio. This isn’t a shirt violation of an OSHA rule.
“What is your problem with my pants? Maybe I don’t want to work with someone who freaks out when he sees a gay guy in his underwear!”
That got his attention.
“I’m not freaking out!”
“Yes, you are. You can’t even look at me like I’m going to rub my gayness all over you!”
“Oh, my God. Would you knock it off?” He grips both sides of his head and pinches his eyes closed. Further proof, I’m right. That is such a disappointment.
“No! I told you before I started, I don’t want to work with someone like that. I’m fine with who I am. And I’m fine being the guy who doesn’t know how to do things. I can do some modeling until I figure something else out. I can’t screw that up. I mean, how hard is it to take your clothes off. Right?”
“Dami…” he pants.
“No. I’m serious. There’s a lot of gay people in the modeling world. It’ll be good for me. I don’t know what your issue is with gay people, but honestly, thank you for trying to teach me a new profession. I didn’t mean to waste your time by sucking at it. I really wanted to be so good for you. I wanted to work so hard you never thought about hiring anyone else ever again. I’m sorry all I ever do is screw things up. I’m just…I’m hopeless.”
Rough hands grip the sides of my face. Shit! He’s coming at me!
I don’t have time to Google search how to fight an angry brick layer while wearing only underwear. My hands go instinctively to his shoulders to stop him as he steps into my space, backing me up against the chaise and…
Oh, my gosh! The feather duster is on my mouth! He’s…kissing me.
His lips slam hard against mine, devouring in sloppy, urgent brushes, raking that sandy goatee across the skin around my mouth.
Is my speedo cutting off circulation to my brain? Is this really happening?
Tearing my head back an inch, I gasp for air. “Wh-why…are you kissing me?”
Graham’s stormy sapphires blink at me as though he’s coming back from an out-of-body experience. His Adam’s Apple bobs, his breath heavy against my bruised lips.
“I…you…you wouldn’t shut up.”
“If I talk some more, will you do it again?”
Because let’s face it, I am not going to die saying I was kissed by Graham Brandt and didn’t even participate. That’s like a month-long spank bank deposit.
His face crumples in confusion like he’s trying to decide if I’m making fun of him. One thing I am good at is getting it on, and there’s finally a hot guy in front of me initiating. I lift my hand to the back of his neck and tug.
He flinches when my lips dust over his, so I send out a welcoming committee, flicking the tip of my tongue across his lower lip. He groans and sucks my lower lip in between his.
Mm. He tastes like anger and that sweet tea he drinks at work. Like in that movie with the girl with the ruby slippers, my brain chants, I don’t care if he’s straight, I don’t care if he’s straight because his straight tongue sweeping over and around mine feels like a whole lot of perfect.
He smells like the woods, dipped in honey. His hot breath and grunty noises are the only meal I want to eat for the rest of the year.
Moaning, I wrap a leg around his thigh, threading my fingers through his wild hair. My libido didn’t plan very well because I topple over backward, losing my grip on my fantasy-come-to-life.
“Fuck,” Graham utters, hands frozen in mid-air where they were cupping my face just a second ago.
Scrambling to my feet, I smooth my hands down his arms. No harm, no foul, but he goes rigid. Panting, he blinks down at my now two-sizes-too-small speedo and then at a very delicious bulge in his jeans.
“Fuck,” he mutters again.
Two fucks in a row can’t be good, not even from Graham. I watch helplessly, unsure of what to do as he digs his fingers into his hair and starts to back away.
“I…sorry. I…I’m sorry. I don’t…uh.”
He doesn’t even finish a sentence, just turns away like he’s back to being afraid to look at me. Crap. Is this what a gay freak out looks like?
“Graham? It’s okay.”
Still gripping his head he starts toward the door, staggering like he’s drunk.
“Where are you going?”
He stops and turns his head just a fraction, but not enough to see me. “I…I’ve got to go. I…I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He'll see me tomorrow? Where? Clothed? Unclothed? Dami needs details!
Adjusting my speedo, I know I should probably stop to consider that I just kissed my straight, ex-boss, but I gather up my clothes. I don’t know if I’ll see him tomorrow, but I sure as heck will see him when I get out my lube and close my eyes upstairs in about five minutes.