Take it off. Take it all off.
To say Harlan Sheppard is hot for teacher would be the understatement of the year. Working closely with Professor Sawyer Addison has taught Harlan one thing. Persistence doesn't always pay off. With graduation only a day away, Harlan is willing to do anything to get the object of his affection to see him as more than just another student.
Unbeknownst to Harlan, Sawyer sees his sexy TA for exactly what he is--an attractive, brilliant man who just so happens to moonlight as a stripper. A fact Sawyer discovered one night at Tricky Dix, a gay strip club. Since then he's been avoiding the club--and Harlan--like the plague, refusing to allow his career to be overshadowed by his lust. At least for a few hours more. Until graduation.
Harlan has waited long enough. He's ready to show Sawyer just what makes Harlan the hottest headliner around. And if Sawyer won't come to the club, Harlan will just have to take his show on the road...straight into Sawyer's bedroom.
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May 25, 2009
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Excerpt from You Can Leave Your Hat On by Lena Matthews
Damn. Harlan stood outside of his advisor's office door. Saying goodbye was going to be harder than he thought.
After two years as Sawyer Addison's TA, the professor's office felt like Harlan's second home. He was going to miss the closet-sized room, almost as much as he was going to miss the man himself.
"Knock. Knock." He pushed the door part of the way open and peeked around the corner to make sure he wasn't interrupting anything. With the exception of Sawyer, hard at work at his desk, the office was empty. Good.
At the sound of his voice, Sawyer looked up and smiled. "Harlan." The welcoming smile, like always, warmed him from the inside out. If this didn't work, Harlan didn't know what he was going to do. The mere idea of never seeing the handsome brunette man just did not sit well with him. Sawyer was much more than just his advisor and his mentor, he was Harlan's friend. They could, and did, talk about anything and everything. Their relationship went outside of these four walls and encompassed much more than a mere teacher-student association. Sawyer was everything to Harlan and he wasn't going to sit idly by and have the other man just walk out of his life.
"Hey, Professor." Even after all this time, he still occasionally called Sawyer by his title, although to him it was more of a term of endearment than a sign of respect.
"Come in. Come in." Sawyer rose from behind his desk and beckoned Harlan forward. He removed his wire-framed reading glasses and set them gently on the desk before rubbing a hand over his face. He looked tired, but he always did at the end of the semester. "I didn't expect to see you today, with tomorrow being the big day and all."
Harlan took his hand out of his pocket and dangled the lone key hanging from the generic red ring. "I had to come to drop off this off. Guess I won't need it anymore." Harlan had saved this chore for the last of the day because it was the hardest and the one he wanted to do the least. He didn't want to say goodbye. He couldn't say it. He could only hope Sawyer felt the same.
Reluctantly, the older man held out his hand and took the spare office key, sighing loudly as he shoved it into his pocket. "I have to say, I'm sad to be getting this back. I don't suppose I can impress on you how remarkable a Ph.D. would look on your resume."
Pleased, Harlan plopped down in what he'd come to think of as his chair, across from the professor, and stretched out his long legs. It was good to hear Sawyer would miss him, even if he didn't actually say the words. "You just don't want to go through the trouble of training another office lapdog."
"True," he said, taking his seat again. He leaned back in his chair and folded his fingers together, before locking them behind his head. The casual gesture made Harlan smile. Sawyer was a much respected and well-liked teacher, but Harlan preferred to think he was one of the lucky few allowed to see this side of Sawyer. "To think, I just taught you to go on the paper. It's a waste, I tell you."
"Next time you should get a female lapdog. I hear they're easier to train." And would in no way be a competition for Sawyer's attention.
It was bad enough he had to deal with all the young men who were in love with the man. He didn't want to have to worry about the women too. Not that Harlan could blame anyone for falling for Sawyer. Kind, funny, and a straight shooter, he was a great, engaging teacher who managed to educate and inspire on a daily basis. But that wasn't all.
Personality aside, Sawyer was hands down the sexiest man Harlan had ever come in contact with. And that was saying something. Harlan was surrounded by strippers day in and day out. Hell, even his roommate, who went by the insanely cheesy stage name of Inferno and had a cock he practically had to pick up when he walked around the apartment naked, had nothing on Sawyer. And Sawyer was at least twelve years older than both of them.
Not that it showed. With the exception of a few laugh lines around his cerulean eyes, Sawyer could have passed for a graduate student just starting his Master's degree program. His thick wavy hair held not a trace of gray in it, leaving only his penchant for eighties rock to give him away.
"I don't know." Sawyer's eyes twinkled with unsuppressed amusement. "I've never been partial to that particular gender."
"You know, I kind of figured that about you." Which was why Harlan had suggested it. Competition wasn't in Harlan's game plan. "By the by, this isn't the only job I quit."
"Really?" Sawyer's eyes widened a bit at the news, but that was the extent of his reaction, much to Harlan's disappointment. After all this time, he'd really expected more. His second job had been a sore point between the two men ever since Sawyer had wandered into the gay strip club, Tricky Dix, a year back. Despite the fact Harlan was, and always had been, extremely attracted to the other man, before that moment Sawyer's sexual orientation had never come up. These days though, it seemed as if it was always in the room. It was the proverbial pink elephant, only rainbow-colored and fashionably dressed.
"Yes. I gave them my two weeks' notice, but after that I'm done." Harlan intently watched Sawyer for any sort of reaction to his news. "I didn't think it would be too kosher for me to keep it up now that I'm done with school."
Sawyer dropped his hands and sat back up. "Two weeks. That seems like a lifetime."
"Not really," he said with a shrug. "Besides, it will give me just enough time to figure out the correct way to send thank you cards to all the doctors and judges who've unknowingly contributed to my college education."
"Maybe you're getting out too soon," Sawyer said, much to Harlan's surprise.
Harlan had been under the impression Sawyer detested him being there. It had been one of the main reasons he had thought to bring it up. Even though subconsciously he knew Sawyer was well aware that he was intelligent, Harlan felt the need to show the other man he was more than a pretty face. He didn't want Sawyer to ever think the time he spent with Harlan was wasted. But maybe he was a day late and a dollar short. "You think so?"
"Sure." A quick crooked smile flashed across Sawyer's lips. "You could have used this opportunity to possibly find an internship for the summer. Just think of all the CEOs on the down-low who inhabit that place. It's a gold mine of connections."
"Don't think I haven't thought about it." Harlan's words couldn't have been further from the truth, but he wasn't above laughing at himself, especially if Sawyer was in on the joke. "In all seriousness though, I think I've relied on my body long enough. Now it's time to see if this overpriced education is worth something."
"You're going to wow them. Just you wait and see." Sawyer said it as if there wasn't a doubt in his mind Harlan would do fine in the corporate world.
That made one of them. "Spoken like a proud teacher."
"I am proud," Sawyer said, his deep voice sincere and unwavering. "Now more than ever."
More than ever? That could only mean one thing. "So you are happy I don't work there anymore?" Harlan couldn't help the pleasure that washed over him.
"Hell yes." The heat behind the other man's words could not be mistaken. Sawyer's disdain for Harlan's dancing wasn't just a figment of his overwrought imagination.
"Why, can't wait to get back in there?" he teased, more comfortable with the situation now that he was certain he hadn't imagined Sawyer's distaste. "Do you want to check out the scene without having to worry about getting busted by your TA?"
"I'm more than positive I haven't missed much in the last year. The scene, as you so charmingly call it, hasn't changed in the fifteen or so years since I've been out. I doubt your generation did anything to liven it up since then."
"You never know." Harlan didn't like when Sawyer made references to their age difference. He knew it for what it was--just one more hurdle the older man was throwing up to put him in his place.
"Either way, it doesn't matter anymore. You're out of there and that's all that counts. You should have quit that meat market a long time ago."
If only life was so simple. "The pay was far too good to give up."
His answer didn't seem to please Sawyer, who frowned. "I'd offered to give you more hours."
At that, Harlan laughed. "For doing what?"
"What do you mean, for doing what?" Confusion filled Sawyer's eyes.
"Exactly what I said. I was the most underworked TA in the history of office drones."
"You were not." Sawyer's protest fell on deaf ears.
"Right." It wasn't as if Sawyer really needed him. The studious man was as together as they came. For as long as Harlan had known him, Sawyer had never missed a single day of class. He took care of the majority of the test grading, filing, and never slacked on his office duties. To say Sawyer was the exact opposite of an absentminded professor was putting it lightly. Thanks to Sawyer's work ethic, Harlan had been an overpaid office tchotchke. "I was a high-priced clapping monkey with shiny cymbals. A waste of your money and we both know it."
"Not my money. The school's money," Sawyer pointed out, as if that made a bit of difference at all. "Besides, if you're going to become a CEO, you better get used to taking obscene amounts of money for little work."
"I'm not in this for the money." Harlan sent Sawyer the most sincere look he could manage before he broke out laughing. "Damn, I have to get better at lying if I'm ever going to be any good at this."
"Now that, grasshopper, comes with time."
"It's a real pity you never came in and caught my act. Dancing is something I'm very good at. No practice needed." Harlan sent Sawyer a flirty look through lowered lashes. The same type of look he used to con his customers out of more cash. "It's not too late, you know."
"I'm not sure my heart could have handled it."
"I'll go easy on you." Hmm...maybe he was getting better at this lying thing after all.
"And where would the fun have been in that?"
"What if I beg? Will you come see me then?" His voice took on a husky tone Harlan could have done without, but even that didn't sway Sawyer.
"No," he said firmly.
"Why not?" Harlan wasn't going to give up without a fight. "I heard you used to be a regular there."
Sawyer grew still. "You heard that, did you?"
Harlan shrugged, hoping to downplay his comment some. "I asked a few of the fellows."
"And what did they say?"
Harlan met Sawyer's guarded gaze head on. "That I should dance for you if ever given a chance. Why didn't you ever come back?" And give me the opportunity, he added silently to himself.
Sawyer looked away for a few seconds before meeting Harlan's gaze once more. Gone was the teasing man with the ready smile, and in his place was someone more cautious and filled with determination. "I didn't think it was appropriate for me to see you in that type of environment. It would have compromised our relationship."
Or possibly helped it along. "You're such a stickler for the rules."
Sawyer chuckled, easing a bit of the tension that had filled the room. "I guess I'm a geek that way."
"I don't think you're a geek. Far from it." Harlan hoped his statement sounded more like admiration rather than hero worship. It would do him no good for Sawyer to think he had him on some type of childish pedestal.
"I am." A small smile ruffled Sawyer's mouth. "You just don't notice."
"I don't think there's anything about you I don't notice." Or like. Or desire.
"You're graduating tomorrow. You don't have to suck up."
Harlan wanted so badly to say "then let me suck you off instead", but refrained. This wasn't the time or the place. But that was something easily remedied. "What are you doing tonight?"
"Catching the game with some friends."
Harlan didn't even bother to ask what game. He didn't believe him. "How about you skip it and grab a drink with me? My treat. We can celebrate my crowning achievements."
"As much as I'd like to, I don't think it's such a good idea."
"Because technically," Sawyer hedged, "I'm still your supervisor."
Lame. Harlan glanced down at the face of his watch, then back up at Sawyer. "Only for eight or so more hours."
"Ask me in another eight hours." Even though the words were leading, Harlan knew Sawyer didn't mean it. Tomorrow wasn't going to make much of a difference to the other man. Harlan would always be just one of his students in Sawyer's book and that would never do.
"I just might." Harlan stood and offered Sawyer his hand. The other man rose as well and engulfed Harlan's hand in his larger one. Even though Harlan wanted to hold on and revel in the moment for as long as possible, he released Sawyer's hand and took a step back. Hanging on like a besotted fool would get him nowhere, much like today's conversation. It was time for plan B. "Well then..."
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
"Look for me. I'll be the one in the hat and gown," Harlan said, with a smile he didn't quite feel.
"That style is all the rage this year. I might not be able to spot you."
There was no way Harlan was going to let that happen. "You'll notice me alright."
"Yes. I'll be the only one not wearing clothes beneath the robe." Without waiting for a reply, Harlan turned and walked out of the room. If Sawyer thought he was going to forget Harlan so easily, he had another think coming. It was time he taught his professor a lesson.