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Professional Distance (Thorne and Dash #1)
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Thornwell Shipton is wealthy, uptight, closeted, and an incurable workaholic. A tragic love affair left him terrified of relationships, so he tells himself sex is better scheduled and paid for.
Riley Dashwood is young, easy-going, and comfortable in his own skin. He’s a passionate baker and an aspiring chef, working as an escort to save up for culinary school.
They’re clearly made for each other.
When Thorne hires Dash, it’s lust at first sight. After a few scorching nights together, both men start to wonder if what’s between them is more than physical, but their age gap and resistance to romance make them afraid to change their professional relationship to a personal one. Dash pushes Thorne to admit he wants things he’s denied himself for years. Kinky things. Soft, caring things. Things that force him to open his heart, not just his body. To move forward, one or the other must take a risk and ask for what he really wants.
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Thornwell Shipton was not pleased. He’d worked his ass off all week, never getting more than a couple of hours of sleep, and one thing that had kept him going was knowing that on Friday night, he would take a few hours off while his favorite rent boy buried himself balls deep in Thorne’s ass. Now he had a message from the escort service telling him there was an issue with his appointment and he should contact them. He was in no mood to deal with more issues. Work had already thrown enough of those his way.
He double-checked that his office door was locked and then tapped his phone to return the call. As it rang, he stared out over the city hundreds of feet below. His office had a lovely view of Atlanta’s Olympic Park, but he rarely noticed it these days.
Sheila, the woman who ran the service, answered just when Thorne was sure her voicemail would pick up. “Hello, Mr. Shipton. I’m sorry we had to bother you.”
Sheila had a pleasant, soothing voice that probably worked wonders on many of their clients, but Thorne wasn’t in the mood to be soothed. “What’s the problem?”
“Marc isn’t going to be working for us anymore.”
“What? Why?” Thorne dropped his head against the window. No. No. No. He’d tried a number of escorts before finding Marc, none of whom satisfied Thorne’s needs for both dominance and submission, depending on his mood. Marc had been perfect. For the last several months, he’d made Friday night the highlight of Thorne’s week.
“He’s decided to pursue other interests.”
Thorne snorted. That could mean anything. “Fine. I suppose I’ll have to cancel the appointment.”
“Actually, I have someone else for you.”
“I don’t think—”
Thorne didn’t want to break in someone new. Not this week with him trying to wrap up a report for one of their biggest clients, a report he’d rewritten twice, while prepping to head out bright and early Monday morning to win his firm another multimillion-dollar contract. He’d made a killing as a high-end management consultant, but to keep the money flowing in, he had to be his best every day. There was always someone out there hoping to take his business away.
“Dash is well-suited to serve your needs, and he’s available at your usual appointment time.” Sheila had been the one to match him with Marc. Maybe… Why couldn’t anything go right this week? He really did need a good fuck.
“Fine. Send him then.” Thorne hoped he wouldn’t regret this.
“Excellent. Do let us know if he meets your expectations. If so, I can book him for your regular appointment.”
“I will. Thank you.”
“Have a lovely day, sir.”
“It’s been a shitty one so far.” Damn, he sounded bitter and put out.
“Tonight will be better.”
It damn well better be. He ended the call.
Thorne’s intercom buzzed. “A Mr. Dash is here to see you. He says he’s expected. Shall I send him up?”
“Yes, Je-Michaels, thank you.” Michaels had only been working as a doorman in Thorne’s building for a few weeks, yet Thorne had lost count of the number of times he’d almost called the man Jeeves. Michaels’ British accent and starched appearance simply begged for it. Years ago he’d loved to watch and re-watch the Masterpiece Theatre version of Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster, with Clint, his—boyfriend was certainly not right, even lover didn’t fit—boss. His boss whom he’d occasionally fucked. Now, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d watched anything but videos of junior consultants’ meetings.
Two crisp knocks at the door signaled that Dash had made the long elevator ride to his penthouse apartment.
Thorne’s pulse sped up. He resented how very much he needed this respite from work, these moments where he actually let go of all his clients’ woes and indulged himself. Yet he kept paying for it, every week that he was in town. He imagined being fucked roughly, hands held down, as Dash whispered dirty words in his ear. By the time Thorne reached the door, he was already hard. Dash damn well better work out; but whether or not Thorne requested him to come back, he was going to get fucked tonight.
He checked the peephole out of habit, although Michaels and the other doormen were quite strict about checking credentials before allowing anyone in the building. The young man standing at Thorne’s door appeared to be in his early twenties, as were most of the service’s employees. He had dirty-blond hair that curled loosely and was longer than he could have worn it if he’d worked in Thorne’s office. His hazel eyes had a mischievous look to them that held promise. His smile, however, wasn’t at all what Thorne was expecting. It was fresh and sunny and it reached his eyes, a true smile, like he was meeting a friend, not conducting illicit business.
Quit trying to read so much into him. This isn’t a business meeting where you have to size up the clients. It’s a fucking hook-up that you paid for.