Tailored by Jason Collins
“There. All done.”
Hands on my hips, I stood back and surveyed my domain. Before me, from floor to ceiling, stood racks and racks of designer clothing. True, some of it was last season and stuck in there for filler. But that was a secret kept between me and the clothing.
Now every piece was categorized by cut, size, and color. Not an easy feat when you’re talking about the space of a large living room. And that wasn’t getting into my vast collection of shoes.
Fashion was my passion, and this was my office space. Or, as I liked to call it, the closet.
“Earth to Remy! Your client will be here in five minutes.”
The voice came from right behind me. I gasped, turning around with a hand artfully placed over my heart. “Hayden! You scared me!” I faked a slap in his direction, and Hayden, one of my besties in the world and co-business owner of our salon, Layered, danced back laughing.
He had totally meant to startle me. The big jerk.
“Are you going through your clothing again?” he asked, although he had to know that the answer was yes.
When it came to clothing, the answer was always yes.
I waved a hand towards the nearest rack of clothing. “Um, hello, it has taken me this long to undo the damage that horrid TV show did to my collection.”
“I thought they supplied you with new designer clothing?”
“Only some of it, Hayden! A lot was off brand. Like, legit fakes!”
Hayden gasped, which was part of the reason that I liked him. He understood the incredible faux pas that sending my clients away with off-brand clothing would create.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” he demanded.
I snorted. Our brush with reality TV stardom had been nothing short of a disaster. Okay, our third business partner and other bestie, Jaime, had come away from the experience by snagging the love of his life… but for Hayden and me, it had been nothing short of a big pain in the ass.
And not even a fun pain in the ass, if you catch my meaning.
“We kind of had a lot more to worry about than clothing,” I told him with a roll of my eyes. “Like trying to salvage our careers.”
The grin was back on Hayden’s face. “I never thought I would hear you say that anything was more important than clothing.”
“Oh, ha ha. I have my priorities in order. Speaking of which, what’s the situation with our new client? Give me a hint at what I’m looking at.” Hayden and Jaime liked to go in blind and decide what their newest clients needed based on the initial consultation, but it was easier for me to plan ahead, at least a little. Ten minutes before the appointment was planning ahead, right? “What’s her size?”
“Tall, dark, and handsome.”
My eyebrows raised. “Our client is a man?”
Hayden nodded. “And he has luxurious hair. Not a hint of balding yet, and I think it’s actually real. It’s been a total treat to style.” Hayden was the hairstylist out of the three of us, so he should know. Of course, he had to ruin the gushing a moment later by admitting, “His hair isn’t as luxurious as Clay’s, of course, but super nice to work with. About six-foot one, lean, athletic build…”
Yeah, okay. Hayden could be shallow at times. I tuned him out in favor of thinking what I had in the closet to fit the look of a man who wanted to refresh his look.
While it wasn’t unheard of for a man to be a client in our makeover salon, it was a nice change of pace.
I immediately moved to the part of the closet which held clothing more appropriate on the male form.
“… I’ll just leave you to it,” Hayden said, realizing that he had been dismissed.
I grunted and concentrated on picking out some fashionable choices. All were authentic designer, of course.
Five minutes later I heard Jaime’s cheerful voice as he escorted our newest client from his makeup station to the closet. Yes, guys could and should wear makeup. I had some tasteful eyeliner on, myself. It gave me an air of mystery.
“Remy,” Jaime sing-songed. “Your client is ready!”
“I’ll be right out,” I called, draping some choice selections over my arm.
I walked out of the room and stopped dead in my tracks.
Hayden had called our new client tall dark and handsome, but if anything, he had underplayed it. He was a tall drink of water, but to be fair I was too. It was nice to meet someone eye to eye. His hair was a rich brown color that I was instantly envious of, and although he was on the slim side, the way that he carried himself spoke of corded strength. This was a man who worked out at the gym to maintain his figure. He had an all-American square jaw and sparkling blue eyes that I thought for a second might be from contacts. But no, Jaime would never allow someone to keep those in while he was putting on makeup. That meant the eyes were a natural shade.
And although I tried to maintain some sense of professionalism, staring at the guy, I had a quick flash intense fantasy.
In my fantasy world, Jaime was gone, and me and this hottie were alone. The door, obviously, was shut.
Mr. Hottie stepped forward, pulling me flush against him, so close that I could feel the heat of the hard planes of his body against mine. He dipped his head and captured my lips in a searing kiss.
I could hear my own groan in my ears, and that only heightened the sensation.
His fingers dug into the flesh of my hips, bringing our groins together and his thick, hard shaft dug into my hip.
As his tongue swept over my teeth, he reached in the small gap between us.
I let out another sound that was nothing short of a whimper as he stuck his hand down my pants, his fingers wrapping around my hardening erection.
He stroked me with firm authority, like he owned me, like my pleasure was in his hands and all I had to do was submit to it.
I was perfectly fine with submitting to it.
There was a simple loveseat on the other side of the room. Mostly, I used it for clients who needed to take a rest. Trying on clothing was a physically and emotionally draining process. Well, Mr. Hottie didn’t care about any of that.
Easing me back, he sat me down on the loveseat.
I turned in his grasp and felt my pants being pulled down, the fabric sliding over the curve of my ass. Cool air whispered over my newly revealed, heated skin.
On all fours now, I spread my legs, half dressed and panting, wanting him inside me. He lined up, pushed in, and I cried out aloud.
This was a fantasy, no prep or lube necessary, and as he set to work pounding my hole, my blood felt like it was on fire…
I blinked back into reality, realizing that Jaime was still speaking.
“Huh?” I asked, intelligently.
Jaime looked at me like I had a screw loose. “This is Langston,” he said the words slowly as if I were being an idiot.
That was fair. I kind of was.
“Langston, glad to meet you. I’m Remy, why don’t you step into my closet?” I extended a hand outward, and his big paw of a hand enveloped mine in a shake.
“Glad to meet you, Remy. Your… closet?” His eyebrows raised, but as I ushered him into the next room, he seemed to understand.
He looked around, slightly dazzled. This wasn’t too unusual, but I still preened on the inside.
“So, you’ve been to hair and makeup, let’s talk about your choices and fashion.”
Langston shifted his weight back and forth. Most men didn’t think too much about this subject. They thought that going to the Duluth Trading company counted as high fashion.
But to my surprise, Langston said, “I’m looking for something current, but not too extreme. Something cut tight enough to show off my muscles… But make it look like I’m not trying too hard, you know?”
Ohhh. Someone had done his homework.
“So, you’re going for more of a laid-back hottie vibe?” I asked in all seriousness.
He looked a bit uncomfortable with that but didn’t argue. In fact, he elaborated, “I want to look more… current. Younger. And I want to fit the up-and-coming trends, but not look like I’m trying too hard.”
My focus zeroed in on him, and I realized that even though he had the body of a twenty-year-old, there were indications that he was older. Now that I was looking for it, I realized he had to be forty-five, maybe forty-six years old. Still really hot. A little out of the age range that I was usually attracted to, but a total scrumptious dish.
“Okay, but I think we could steer clear of any skater boy choices,” I said with a laugh and started pulling out a couple of T-shirts from the pile. As I did, I took a moment to look over his build. There was something… familiar about him. I commented, “I feel like I’ve seen you around before. You’re not a repeat client, are you?”
I knew that he wasn’t. I would remember a client, especially one who looked like this.
He shook his head. “No. I don’t think that last guy mentioned it. I’m Langston Hollis.”
“Like… the movie star?” I asked. “You spell your name the same way?”
He grinned at me. “Exactly like the movie star.”
Oh. My. God.
I was absolutely going to kill Hayden. And maybe Jaime too, just for fun.
They could have told me that there was a real-life movie star in our salon today!
“Oh wow, forgive me for not recognizing you at first.” I gave a giggling laugh that made me wince on the inside.
Normally I was suave and in control in my closet but being around a certified a-list celebrity put me off my game. I felt like I was advising my first client ever.
“It’s fine. Although normally people tell me I look different than I do in the movies. It’s the makeup.”
Well, no wonder he hadn’t balked at seeing Jaime. The man was used to wearing makeup.
“In fact,” Langston continued. “I’m in town for the next few weeks for a movie I’ll be shooting.”
I almost dropped the clothing right then and there. “You’re kidding? Tell me it’s going to be another drama like Lighthouse on the Beach.”
To my surprise, Langston grimaced. “You liked that one?”
“Liked it?! I cried like a baby when you—sorry, the character you were playing—found his dead wife’s letters. Oh my God. What a heartbreaker. I loved that movie. It made me feel things.”
“Well, you’re the only one,” he said with a light laugh that had a bitter tinge to it. “The critics called it overblown and sappy.”
I gasped again. “But isn’t that sort of thing perfect Oscar bait?”
“I thought so, too. But I guess it didn’t strike the right tone.” He shrugged as if it didn’t bother him. “It happens. For now, I thought it’d be best to go back to action movies. Seems to be my wheelhouse.”
I had an insane idea. One of the reasons I’d been a longtime fan of Langston Hollis was because he was an openly gay actor. And, as I had gushed to him, he had a huge acting range. Totally made his love for his character’s dead wife believable.
Anyway, the most important thing was—as far as I knew—he was also unmarried.
So, I decided what the hell, I was going to shoot my shot.
“Have you been to DC before?” I asked lightly.
He shrugged. “Once or twice. We once had a red-carpet premiere right outside the White House.”
“Don’t tell me it was for that one movie that blew up the Oval Office?” I grinned, thinking of the apoplexy a movie like that would’ve caused Clay, Hayden’s Secret Service boyfriend. The man had absolutely no humor when it came to his job.
“Yes, that’s it exactly.” He gave me the eye. “Did you… like that one, too?”
I shrugged and decided to be honest. “There were too many explosions for my taste, but I thought the lead was handsome.”
Langston chuckled at that. “Yeah, well that was twenty years ago. I was just getting started in the business.”
What’s with the modesty?I wondered but didn’t say.
Instead, I plowed on, “Well, if you want to get to know DC like a real local, I’d be willing to show you around… Starting with dinner tonight…”
Okay, that was awkwardly put, but I had to cast my line out somehow. Now I would see if I got a bite.
To my surprise, Langston paused and then looked me up and down.
Something flashed behind his eyes—too fast for me to read—but then he smiled. “I would like that.”
And with his agreement, I was put in the very rare position of picking out the perfect outfit for my soon to be date.
* * *
True to my word,as soon as our consultation was over and Langston was gifted several outfits to get started, I gave him the address for a local restaurant and promised to meet him there in an hour. He would pick up the rest of his wardrobe when it was ready in a few days.
I half expected him to call me and bow out or something. Surely a man like Langston must have a lot of guys throwing themselves at him. But to my surprise, he met me right out front of the restaurant as he had promised—wearing one of the new outfits I’d picked out for him. That was an added bonus.
Dinner was a success. Mostly, we talked about movies. I was an avid watcher, and he wasn’t above enjoying films that he wasn’t part of.
We had a mutual love of sappy romantic comedies, straight from the Hallmark Channel. Langston insisted they were so bad that they were good. I insisted that they were so good that they were good. The point was we both liked them.
The atmosphere was casual and just a little fun. I hadn’t felt like this for a new guy ever since I had lost Alan…
And thinking of my ex-boyfriend instantly pulled some of the enjoyment out of the evening.
I didn’t mean for it to happen, and it was certainly nothing that Langston had done, but as we chatted, I felt myself withdraw a bit.
I went from flirty to just overly friendly. It felt like an invisible glass of water had splashed in my face. Langston was a Hollywood actor. He could read people really well, and I could sense that he was withdrawing a little, too.
I knew it was happening and yet I couldn’t bring myself to stop it.
So, as the evening ended, he took me out of the restaurant and pressed a kiss against my cheek.
“I enjoyed myself,” he said.
“I did too.” This would be the moment where I could invite him back to my apartment. I was pretty sure that he would say yes. But…
“The rest of your clothing will be ready in a couple of days,” I blurted.
Langston nodded, taking that for the polite shut down that it was. “I’ll see you then.”
Only once I had walked down the block and turned the corner did I let my head fall into my hands.
Had I just screwed up a chance of a lifetime? Or had my heart just dodged a bullet?