Professor’s Rule 01 - Giving an Inch

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Book: Professor’s Rule 01 - Giving an Inch by Heidi Belleau, Amelia C. Gormley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Heidi Belleau, Amelia C. Gormley
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.
    “What?”
    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

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