Home > Man Card (Man Hands #2)(6)

Man Card (Man Hands #2)(6)
Author: Sarina Bowen


I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy. Don’t let the designer clothes fool you.

Bramly is not like me, though. He fancies himself an artistic photographer. He’s been after me to model some shots for him that he can include in his upcoming show. He likes to Explore the Human Form. I’m pretty sure Exploring the Human Form means naked people in good lighting.

I’m totally fine with that, too. I’ve been manscaping for years and it feels like all that hard work will finally pay off.

Okay, to be fair, this is a little odd. I never considered modeling (mostly) naked for my kid brother until now. What can I say? Ash brings out the best in me. Actually, Ash brings out the beast in me—and I can already feel him rising. Down, boy.

Bramly motions to me and I follow him into my home office, which has been totally transformed. He’s pretty much gutted the room and now there’s a velvet settee and all these round lighting fixtures. It actually looks like an artist’s studio. He’s adjusting his camera and his beret, so it’s obviously showtime.

We have just twelve hours to get these photos shot and printed, which should be barely enough time. I’ll also need to install a hidden camera in Tom’s house. Or maybe two. I don’t want to miss anything. And, sure, this won’t help to sell the house, but that’s okay. I’m not trying to prevent Ash from selling it, I just want to make her work for it.

The way she’s made me work for everything over the past few years.

Good thing I’ve always loved a challenge, and Ash is the biggest challenge I’ve ever encountered.

“You’re already thinking of her, aren’t you?” Bramly says.

“How do you…?” I look down. Ah.

Bramly snaps his fingers. “On the settee. Now! I’m emotionally and spiritually prepared to turn you into art! Quick, before you lose your…inspiration.”

I lie back on the velvet, which is soft against my skin. It’s…stimulating.

“Tighten your abs,” my brother barks. “Drape one hand onto your chest. Yes! Like that.” I hear the shutter clicking away. “Good! Look over my right shoulder and think of…whatever it is you like about women.”

I laugh, and smirk at the camera, and I tug the hem of my boxers down just a little bit. Ash is going to love me for this. Or hate me.

Same dif.

 

Ash

 

By two o’clock the following day, I’m standing on the porch of Tom’s house in a knee-length plaid skirt and a starched white blouse. And pearls, goddammit. I had to dig to the bottom of my jewelry box to find them.

Totally worth it.

Last night I took seven pages of notes in my bullet journal about the client. (And earned a research sticker—a cute little magnifying glass!) The VanHeimlich clan are Dutch-American multi-millionaires. They set up some kind of pyramid scheme to sell bibles and breakfast mixes or something. They’re super conservative, subscribe to “traditional gender roles” (hence the unflattering skirt.) And they donated a whack ton of money to fund a museum that walks you through how the earth is flat and Darwin was wrong. No lie.

I can work with this, even if it makes my sphincter clench a little.

It’s not about me, though. I’m a realtor, so it’s about them. Their needs. I am here to prove that their needs include Tom’s house and all its expensive, impenetrable surfaces. I’m here for them. Also for the fat commission.

In service to this higher goal, I’m even wearing sensible shoes. All of it makes me chafe, but that’s okay. I can do this.

I have one moment of panic when their car pulls in right behind mine. Usually I like to open up the house ahead of the client’s arrival. The VanHeimlichs are early.

No problem! I won’t let my irritation show. When they step out of the car, I’m all smiles. Mrs. VanHeimlich is wearing a high-collared blouse and several diamonds on her pale fingers. After my warmest possible greeting, I turn to unlock Tom’s door. I am a tiny bit nervous that the doors won’t open, or they’ll be wired in such a way as to give me an electrical shock, but nothing like that happens.

“Watch your step!” I sing as I enter the darkened foyer. “And welcome to your new home!” There is a slight delay while I feel around for the light switch. Was it always this dark in here? I bump into a console table. Awkward! But then my hand finds the switch and I turn it on.

Whew! I’ve opened my mouth to apologize when I just happen to notice there’s a framed photo on the console table that wasn’t there yesterday. It’s…holy shit. It’s a photo of a man’s chiseled chest, the model pulling down on his boxer briefs just to the point where there’s a nice bit of neatly trimmed hair, and a bulge in his underpants THAT I RECOGNIZE.

I recognize the shape, because I had it in my mouth once.

A little squeak of shock escapes me before I can rein it in. And I slam that photo down on the console with a bang.

“Everything okay, dear?” Mr. VanHeimlich asks.

“That wasn’t a bug, was it?” his wife gasps.

“No!” I protest, my voice all high and crazy. “Just clumsy. Knocked it down. Come right this way!” I babble.

I want to kill him. I think I would do it, too, if it didn’t mean a prison sentence. I have to stay out of the prison system so I don’t bump into my ex.

Moving on.

My anxiety notches up again as I lead my clients into the kitchen. “Lovely light in here!” I say, my gaze skittish. “Great space for entertaining!”

There are several new objects in the kitchen, damn it. But they’re subtle. There’s a bunch of long, firm bananas hanging from a hook. Those weren’t there yesterday. There’s also a platter of carefully arranged eggplants on a tray. They’re shiny and bulbous and I choke back a giggle at the sight of them.

I hope the VanHeimlichs aren’t very well versed in emoji humor. But, heck, something tells me they’re not.

This is fine, I coach myself. We’ve still got this under control.

“How many square feet of interior living space is there?” Mr. VanHeimlich asks.

“Four thousand!” I bleat, gesturing to the staircase like a demented gameshow host. “And a generous basement, leading to the boathouse!” I position my body in front of the eggplants. From my vantage point I can see the dining table, where a vase of voluptuous orchids has appeared. They are glistening and peachy pink. Like female genitalia.

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