That was the only word that came to mind as I looked at Jeremy Saitou. Everything about him seemed to radiate impudence: his brightly colored hair (red enough to rival any fire engine), his pierced brow and lower lip, the electric blue plugs in his stretched earlobes, his mouth, which—thanks to a small scar on the right side of his upper lip—was curled into a permanent sneer.
Then there were the tattoos, mostly hidden by the long sleeved button-up he wore, which covered him from shoulder to wrist on both arms and swirled across his chest in a pattern I’d only glimpsed through the V-neck of his shirts.
The ink, his posture, the tight shirt and even tighter pants, his studded black belt and scuffed up boots—it all lent to his general air of complete and utter cockiness. You could count on less than one finger the amount of fucks Jeremy gave about the call center or his job.
From the very beginning, his piss poor attitude had irritated the shit out of me. How he’d gotten hired, I had no idea, but of course it was just my luck to get him assigned to my shift.
I oversaw the customer service department for Alpine Insurance from four to midnight, the final shift before the center closed for the night and the calls got redirected to our sister call center in Jakarta until our six A.M. crew started. We were responsible for maintaining our customers’ home and auto policies while dealing with whatever issues might arise outside of actual claims. There were five teams on the loyalty floor at any given time, and every team had a supervisor. Each of those supervisors reported to me, the floor manager, for anything they couldn’t handle during the course of their shift.
Jeremy often popped up on that list. But this time, well, I wasn’t annoyed about having him in my office, slumped into one of the two chairs in front of my desk and exuding disdain like some kind of cheap, overbearing cologne. With this latest incident, he’d gotten his third strike, which officially put him out of the game. I couldn’t wait to send him and all his attitude packing.
In a way, it was a pity. There was one thing I would miss about him: the sight of his ass in those skin tight pants every day. Not a very managerial thought, I know, but it truly was a sight to behold. Round, pert, delectable. I wouldn’t have minded exploring it for an hour or two. But, God, no other person had ever annoyed me more. He got under my skin, a virus spreading through my bloodstream, an itch I’d never be able to scratch. It drove me crazy. So, while I’d certainly miss the view, I couldn’t say I’d be sad to see him go. Temptation like Jeremy Saitou was the very last thing a newly appointed floor manager needed. Hell, maybe the last thing any man needed. He’d be the type to drag you over fire, and then walk away laughing. No way to get close to him without being burned.
Jeremy arched an eyebrow at me as I tried to push those traitorous thoughts aside, his voice cutting across the silence that stretched between us. “Well?”
“You know why you’re here.” I shuffled through the paperwork on my desk until I found the complaint his supervisor had written up. “It says here you were overheard calling a customer a ‘douche bag’ and telling him to go, um, ‘screw himself.'”
Jeremy leaned forward in his chair and looked at the sheet I was referring to. He shrugged lightly. “Actually, what I said was, ‘sit on it and rotate, McDouche.'”
I fought back the sigh that threatened to rise in my chest and steepled my hands—mostly so I wouldn’t reach across the desk and wrap my fingers around his graceful, infuriating neck. “Here at Alpine Insurance, we strive to put the customer first. This—”
“Spare me, Shawn,” Jeremy interrupted, rolling his eyes. “I heard it all in the training videos.”
I smiled tightly. “The training videos you so obviously ignored.”
Jeremy shrugged again, just a half-hearted lift of one slender shoulder. “Whatever you say, Shawn.”
The urge to leap over the desk and choke him intensified. I wanted to demand he call me ‘Mr. Cole’, especially if he was going to be a dick whenever he said my birth name, but company policy stated everyone on staff be on a first name basis. Supposedly, it fostered a ‘sense of teamwork’ and ‘managerial approachability’. Ha. As if that weren’t the biggest crock of shit I’d ever heard.
Never mind the fact that the rule hadn’t bothered me before Jeremy Saitou and his smartass mouth. Now I wished I could strike it from the company handbook and force him to show me a bit of respect. Preferably on his knees.
Instead, I said, “Well, I’m sure you realize this is your third and final write up. Human Resources will be in touch with your discharge paperwork in the next few days. As for right now, you can pack up your personal possessions and turn your badge in to security on your way out.”
Jeremy stared at me for a long time, his eyes dark and inscrutable. Their slight slant was the only thing that gave away his half-Japanese heritage, aside from his alabaster skin. At a quick glance, I wagered most people wouldn’t think he was anything but Caucasian.
Finally, he spoke. “How about this? I do you a little favor, and in return, you give me another chance. Just one. And if I mess up again, you can fire my ass.”
I gave a soft, incredulous laugh. “Really, I don’t think you’re in the position to try to bargain. What could you possibly have to offer me to make it worth my while? I highly doubt you’d welcome the responsibility of additional tasks when you can scarcely handle your own.”
“It depends on what those…tasks might be.”
I blinked at him, taking in the quirk of his mouth and the sudden heat in his eyes. My throat tightened. “I’m not sure I know what you mean,” I forced out. But I did know. If he said what I thought he was going to say, Jeremy was about to cross a line I thought not even he would cross.
“I’ll let you fuck me,” Jeremy said softly. “Whenever you want. Wherever you want.”
The bluntness of his words shocked me. I’d never been propositioned in a work environment before. I sat there in silence, unsure of how to respond. Or, well, my brain was unsure. My cock had already hardened at the idea of bending him over my desk and reaming his ass until that little shit couldn’t walk.
“I’ve seen you watching me,” Jeremy continued when I didn’t speak. “Don’t even try to pretend you don’t want me. I can feel your eyes on my ass every time I walk past this office.”
It took a few seconds, but eventually I found my bearings. This time my laugh had a hard edge. “I see what you’re playing at, Jeremy. I wasn’t born yesterday. If I agreed to your little offer here, I’m sure you’d slap a sexual harassment suit on me so fast my head would spin.” I snorted and sat back in my chair. “No dice. Try it on someone else and see how far you get.”
Jeremy huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. “Fine, then,” he said. “How about this instead? You give me a week to improve. Five work days. If by next Friday, you still think I deserve to go, I’ll walk away without any fuss.”
I tilted my head and looked at him, considering. “Or I could just make you go now.”
“You could.” He nodded. “But you won’t. Out of every manager in this place, no one else is more fair. I’ve heard you’re known for giving second chances, if they’re deserved.”
My brows shot upward. “And you think you deserve one?” If disbelief filled my voice, I didn’t think he could blame me.
To his credit, he flushed, his cheeks reddening under my stare. “I…” He trailed off and licked his lips, quick and nervous. “I need this job. Please.”
I could tell it wasn’t an easy thing for him to say. He was glaring at me, and the words seemed to choke him. How he could so casually offer up the use of his body and yet clearly begrudge the idea of asking me nicely, I had no clue. But as much as a part of me did want to see him gone, had it been anyone else asking, I would’ve allowed them the extra week. I had no choice but to grant him the same.
“All right,” I said. “Five days. But if you really want to keep this job, you’re going to have to learn to rein in your mouth when you talk to the customers. Our job is to serve their insurance needs, not verbally abuse them.”
Jeremy’s lips tightened. “He asked for my full name, and then he called me a ‘cocksucking Jap’ because I wouldn’t clear his DUI from our records and reinstate his policy. I didn’t think I agreed to put up with ethnic slurs when I signed up for this job, but I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that.”
I shook my head. “No, you’re not expected to put up with any kind of abuse, racial or otherwise. I apologize for that. It’s regrettable, but those instances are what your team supervisors are for. If it happens again, ask the customer to hold and transfer the call to your supervisor. If they refuse to deal with the call, you come to me.”
Jeremy nodded curtly. “Fine. Are we done then?”
I battled back another sigh at his tone. What had I expected? Gratitude? Not likely. “Yeah,” I said. “We’re done. See you on Monday.”
Jeremy stood and turned toward the door.
“Oh, and Jeremy?” I called just as he reached it. “If you need this job as much as you say you do, you’ll make it through next week without calling anyone else a ‘McDouche.'”
A few hours after my meeting with Jeremy, I made my way to Alpine’s on-site fitness center for my usual post-shift workout before heading home. The weekend passed as I expected it to—uneventfully. I jogged both days, worked on the beat up, old ’67 Impala I was in the middle of restoring, cleaned the apartment, and picked up some groceries. Nothing exciting. Not unless you counted the three times I’d jerked off while thinking of Jeremy and his offer.
As I walked back in to Alpine on Monday morning, I considered the very real possibility that Jeremy wouldn’t bother showing up at all and tried to tell myself I wouldn’t be disappointed if he didn’t. There he was, though, sitting at his desk, his shock of red hair standing out like a beacon in the sea of tiny cubicles that made up the area outside of my office. And not only was he there, but he was twenty minutes early.
Seeing that he was actually taking his role seriously for once made me feel better about the decision to give him another chance. Only time would tell if he could keep it up for the rest of the work week, but we were off to a good start.
What would have made it even better? If I could’ve somehow ignored the way my breath hitched, the warmth that suffused my stomach, the way my skin prickled, sensitized, at just the idea of him being there.
That would’ve made it awesome.
I kept expecting my work to be interrupted by a call from Jeremy’s team supervisor, but it never happened. The shift ended without a single complaint, and as I made my way to the fitness area that night, I couldn’t help but be grudgingly proud. Jeremy annoyed me like no one else, but he drew me in the same way. As much as I wanted him gone, for both my sanity and peace of mind, I also couldn’t picture being at Alpine without him there. He appealed to me as much as he infuriated me. I honestly didn’t know what to do with the mix of feelings being near him inspired.
Well, no sense dwelling on it now. He might be gone in a week.
The thought was both comforting and not. I did my best to shove it aside as I stepped into the men’s locker room and exchanged my business attire and dress shoes for a short-sleeved T-shirt, loose track pants, and the pair of beat-up Nike trainers I should’ve long since replaced. My iPod and a bottle of water were the last things I grabbed. I carried them into the workout area and paused to connect my iPod to the auxiliary cable attached to the sound system in the corner.
The great thing about the Alpine’s fitness center at midnight was the fact that it was always deserted, so no one would complain if I blasted my music. I flicked through the menus until I found my exercise mix, turned up the volume, and pressed play. The songs on the playlist were mainly dance tracks, ones with fast, pulsing rhythms to help keep me motivated while I worked out.
I settled into my typical routine, kicking things off with some warm-up cardio. Typically, I switched between jogging and cycling throughout the week. Since I’d jogged over the weekend, I ignored the treadmills in favor of one of the stationary bikes. I’d just finished choosing an exercise program when I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye.
It was so unexpected, I jumped, my heartbeat racing. The person standing near the locker room door was both the first and last one I wanted to see.
I opened my mouth to say something—I wasn’t sure what—but Jeremy didn’t even glance my way. He strolled across the room to the row of three treadmills, his ass gloriously encased in a pair of stretchy yoga pants that looked practically painted on. He was wearing a tank top that clung to his torso, showing off piercings in both of his nipples, lots of firm, lean muscle, and more of the tattoo that stretched across his upper chest. From what I could see, there were two wings that extended from some type of wheel in the center, directly over his sternum. The tips of the wings ended right before the balls of his shoulders on either side. Then his sleeves started, colorful ink sprawling downward to each slender wrist.
I had a moment, a very real moment, when I nearly gave in to the urge to cross the room to him and start tracing those lines with my tongue. Still he ignored me, casual as could be, as if his presence there were totally normal, even though I knew for a fact he’d never once stepped into the fitness area at the end of his shift.
Jeremy got on his treadmill and started it up. While he fiddled with the controls, I finally managed to pull myself together. I snapped my mouth shut, dragged my attention away from Jeremy, and forced myself to begin pedaling.
Of course, not looking at him didn’t mean I wasn’t painfully aware of him. What was he doing? Why had he come? Had he only just realized the fitness center was freely available for employee use, or was it some kind of trap?
Those questions plagued me as I went through my workout routine, scrolling around in my head like an electronic stock ticker, too fast for me to really make sense of, let alone find the answers to.
He did his thing, and I did mine, moving on to the weights and trying to pretend his very presence wasn’t driving me to distraction. We didn’t speak, and he didn’t complain about the music. We just exercised to the soundtrack of my workout mix, and when he was done, while I was still doing my cool down stretches, he left as quietly as he had come.
The same thing happened the next night, and the night after that. On Thursday, though, things changed.
He came in wearing a similar outfit to the ones he’d worn all the other days, except halfway through his jog, he stripped off his tank top and tossed it aside. Needless to say, it was hard to look at anything else after that.
I snuck glances at his glistening skin whenever I got the chance. Save for a wicked-looking skull tattoo on his left shoulder blade, his back was surprisingly free of ink. That long stretch of unmarked alabaster tempted me almost more than the rest of him. I wanted to lick, suck, find out how he tasted there, how that flawless skin would feel against my lips and fingertips. I wanted to drag my tongue along his spine to the nape of his neck and gnaw on him a little. I wanted to follow that same path down to the waistline of his pants, tug them down, and reveal that pert, luscious ass that had taunted me for months on end.
He was gorgeous. Every inch of him. All I’d seen and, I’d venture to say, all I hadn’t seen as well.
It was unreal how much I wanted him then, a yearning more intense than any I’d ever felt before, a need to bury myself inside him and make him mine, show him who was well and truly in charge, the possessor, the one to whom he belonged.
His eyes met mine across the room just as that thought crossed my mind. He stopped the treadmill, stepped off, and stood there, breathing hard from his efforts, his chin tilted up, mouth as insolent as ever, practically daring me to come to him.
I accepted the challenge, leaving the weight bench and crossing the room to him, invading his personal space and forcing him to tilt his head back even farther to look at me. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Trying to trap me? It won’t work.”
He shook his head, a quick, sharp motion. “This isn’t about trapping you. I offered to let you fuck me. That offer still stands.”
Almost against my will, I touched him, settling my hands on his bare waist, my fingers digging into his heated skin. “Why?” I demanded, and then shivered when his fingers slipped under the hem of my T-shirt, skating lightly over the sweat-dampened flesh at the small of my back.
“Because as much as I need this job, that wasn’t why I offered.” He leaned up and nipped at my chin, his teeth scraping across my day’s worth of stubble. “I want you. I have since the beginning. I thought this might be my only chance to have you.”
I groaned when his questing lips slid down my neck and his teeth delivered another bite, this one sharper, stinging. “You drive me fucking crazy. You know that?”
I felt his smile against my skin. “I tend to have that effect on people.”
His fingers circled around to my front, dipping below the waistline of my athletic shorts. I was tempted to let him go further, so very tempted, but I had to put a stop to it before things got out of hand. “We can’t do this here,” I said, breathless.
Jeremy ignored me, his hand finding my cock and squeezing gently. “We can, and we will,” he murmured into the hollow at the base of my throat. His fiery colored hair tickled as it grazed my chin. “Come on. No one else is here. Just us.”
He was probably right. Normally, when I finished my workout, I was the last one out of the building. There were no guards, no overnight staff. Still, there was a risk involved. Just because no one had ever shown up before didn’t mean it wasn’t possible.
“The locker room,” I gasped out as he continued to massage my cock, his thumb skimming over the pre-come that had beaded at the tip. “We can lock the door.”
Jeremy nodded. He pulled his hand from my shorts with obvious reluctance, and we separated long enough to gather our respective belongings. Once in the locker room, he secured the door behind us and dropped his shirt to the floor.
“Come here,” he said, grabbing my hand and dragging me over to a nearby bench. He sat and pulled me between his spread thighs, tugging me closer until my crotch was even with his face. Without another word, he hooked his thumbs into the waistband of my shorts and the jock I wore underneath and yanked them both down at once.
My cock sprang free, achingly hard and jutting straight out from my pelvis. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the head, smearing his lips across the fluid that had collected there and painting his full, soft mouth with my pre-come. “You smell good,” he whispered, and then flicked out his tongue, rubbing the barbell that pierced it across my slit. “You taste even better.”
I hissed and fisted a hand in his hair, urging him to take me in. “Suck me. I want to see your pretty mouth wrapped around my dick.”
Jeremy might have had an issue with authority when it came to work, but he didn’t hesitate to follow my command right then. He flashed me a sly grin and parted his lips, sucking me in and engulfing my cock in slick, wet heat.
I couldn’t tear my gaze away from his face as he worked me over, his suction perfect, his tongue clever, his fingers light and teasing on my balls. He stared back at me, his eyes hot and dark, so dark, from beneath the fringe of his fiery red bangs.
Between his skill and my eagerness, all the months I’d spent craving him and hating him in turn, it wasn’t long before my orgasm overtook me. I trembled and choked out a moan as it started, releasing his hair so he could pull back if he wanted, but Jeremy kept me inside, sucking hard as the first jet of my release spilled onto his tongue.
Heat rushed through me, starting low in my pelvis and spreading fast. My eyes slammed shut, and behind my lids, I watched as a block of color broke apart one tiny piece at a time and vanished into nothingness.
After it was over, Jeremy pulled back and licked his lips, pink and swollen from his efforts. Before he could speak, I lowered myself to my knees in front of him. I bent down and pressed my lips to the bulge that strained the front of his pants, inhaling his scent, musk, clean sweat, and nuzzling lightly at the length of his cock.
I reached the tip and paused when I felt something circular and unyielding. My eyebrows furrowed, but only for a moment. It didn’t take much longer to figure out what the hardness was. Another piercing.
I looked up at him. “Let me see it.”
Jeremy smirked a little and lifted his hips so I could pull down his pants. His cock, impressively large for a man of his size, made my mouth water—especially when I got to the curved barbell at the head.
I’d never been with a guy who had a Prince Albert piercing, though I’d seen my fair share of pictures. The idea of one had always intrigued me, but as far as body modifications went, I was totally vanilla. I had no ink and not a single piercing to my name. Maybe that was why I’d always been attracted to the exact opposite.
I licked at the barbell, which felt smooth against my tongue and warm from his body heat. Jeremy moaned softly when I followed that lick with a swirl around his cockhead, tasting the bitterness of his pre-come and the salt of sweat. I moaned as that flavor possessed me. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough. I sucked him down as far as I could, taking him to the back of my throat and swallowing around his tip, using every dirty little trick I knew to drive him out of his mind.
The sound of my name was the only warning I had before his come filled my mouth. I swallowed as much as I could and cleaned up what I’d missed with my tongue as his cock began to soften. Jeremy’s fingers, which had threaded into my hair at some point, tightened and drew my head away.
Our eyes met, mine wide in surprise at myself, his dark and satiated. “So, have I earned my second chance?” he asked.
I blinked at him for a moment, and then jerked away, my stomach plummeting. “That,” I said, my voice cracking halfway through. “That’s not—I—this wasn’t—”
He reached for me and pulled me back down. “Stop. That’s not what I meant. I just need to know, should I bother coming in tomorrow? Are you letting me go?”
I struggled against the queasiness that had sprung up inside me at his original question and the fear that what happened between us had simply been an act to make sure his job was secured. I hadn’t thought so at the beginning. Right then it was hard to be certain.
“I… Yes, you still have your job.” I brushed his arms from my shoulders and got to my feet, pausing to pull up my jockstrap and shorts so I wouldn’t trip over them on the way to my locker. “The call with that customer wasn’t recorded. I can discard the write-up. But the next time something like that happens, it’ll be your last.”
I turned and started toward my locker. A shower could wait until I got home. I didn’t want to be in that room with him for a second longer than I had to be.
He watched me in silence as I packed up my bag, sitting with his pants still halfway down, his expression inscrutable. “That’s it?” he asked when I reached the door.
I glanced at him over my shoulder. When I answered, my voice was harsher than I intended, undoubtedly revealing some of the emotions I’d have preferred to keep hidden. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to care. “You got what you came for. What else do you want?”
Jeremy just looked at me for long seconds. He shook his head. “What I came for is about to leave me sitting here like a chump with my cock still out,” he said. “When I said I wanted you, I meant it.”
Somehow my legs took over even as my brain struggled to understand what he’d said. I found myself in front of him again without a clear memory of having moved. “I’m sorry. I thought… Well, it doesn’t matter. I want you, too.”
Jeremy arched a brow at me. “Then let’s get out of here. Your place, mine, I don’t care. I want you to fuck me. And tomorrow, maybe we can skip the exercise, and you can take me out for a drink.”
“Yeah?” I said, relief making me grin. “Maybe you should be the one buying. I figure after last week, you owe me one, McDouche.”
Jeremy’s lips quirked briefly before he smothered the expression. “Yeah,” he murmured. “I guess I do.”