Hello, everyone! This is Quinn Anderson, author of the Murmur Inc. series, and I’m here to share some inside information about, Hotline.
Stay tuned to hear about where I get my ideas, writing comedy, and how I went “undercover” as a sex worker to research my novels.
Leave comments on the tour posts for a chance to win a $10 Riptide Publishing gift card!
Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.
Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.
A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.
Hotline is available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/hotline
“Oh, yes,” Zack moaned, “keep touching yourself just like that. You make me so hot.”
He heard an answering grunt, but it seemed his client was too far gone to form actual words. He glanced at the clock at the corner of his desk. Eleven minutes and counting. He’d had this one on the phone for longer than most, but he needed to keep him there if he wanted to make any real money. He could hear the wet sound of lube and a hand moving over flesh. Zack’s cock twitched enviously, but he ignored it. He was working, after all.
“I love the noises you make,” he purred. “You sound so sexy and desperate. What would you do to me if I were there right now? Would you fuck me until I couldn’t stand?”
His client whimpered, and Zack bit back a curse. Shit. He’d been in the biz long enough to recognize that sound. His client was about to come, and there was little Zack could do to stop him. He briefly flirted with the idea of saying something to kill the mood. So, are you and your parents close? Were you bullied in high school? I’ve had this weird rash on my thigh for like a month now . . .
Tempting as it was, he discarded the idea. Not only would the client never call him again, but he’d probably hang up on him too. He mentally sighed and started drawing random symbols on the surface of his desk with an index finger. After a few more well-timed moans and an “Oh, fuck yes, baby,” he heard a startled groan, followed by heavy breathing. A second later, the line went dead.
“Another one comes and goes.” Zack huffed as he placed the phone back in its cradle. Part of him resented the fact that his clients seldom bothered to say good-bye. He understood why, though. If those extra five seconds caused the minute to roll over, they’d have to pay another $1.99. Good-byes just weren’t economical.
Zack turned to the ancient computer that took up the left half of his desk and squinted at the dim screen. The tracking system logged his calls incorrectly more often than not, and their commission rate wasn’t the best. Even working full-time, he couldn’t be blasé about losing a single minute. Everything seemed to be correct, however, so he typed his initials in the appropriate box and hit Enter.
Zack checked his clock again. It was a quarter past two in the morning, which meant he could go home soon. Not so soon that he couldn’t justify taking a quick break, however. None of his phone lines were blinking, and Colette hadn’t dropped off a new Murmur. No one would notice if he slipped away for a few minutes.
Zack stood up and stretched his arms above his head, rising onto the toes of his red Converse sneakers. His joints popped pleasantly, and the hem of his shirt rode up over his flat stomach. One of the major selling points of becoming a phone sex operator was the dress code, or lack thereof. Since his clients couldn’t see him, it didn’t matter if he showed up in street clothes. His boss certainly didn’t care, so long as he made money. It was Casual Friday all week long.
Zack poked his head out of his cubicle and surveyed the room. More cubicles and desks dotted the open space, but the similarities to a normal office ended there. Murmur Inc. was located in a disused recording studio. An assortment of old mixing consoles, audio workstations, and equalizers were piled haphazardly in the back. At night, the blue walls and olive carpet looked gray beneath the harsh fluorescent lighting. Zack preferred to work the afternoon-to-evening shift. When sunset rolled around, warm light flooded through the windows on the west side of the building, casting the office in gold and shadow. It created the perfect atmosphere for seduction.
Zack stepped out of his cubicle and glanced toward a desk that was two up and one over from his. To his immense pleasure, it was occupied. He strolled up to a woman with multiple facial piercings and shockingly purple hair that had been shaved on one side. She was perched on the edge of a desk identical to Zack’s, and seemed utterly absorbed in the task of filing her neon-green nails.
Zack waited for her to acknowledge him, but she just kept filing. Zack fought a smile and stepped closer. And closer. And closer, until their knees were nearly touching. The corner of her mouth twitched up, and Zack knew he’d won.
“So, Alexa—” he began, but she cut him off.
“Don’t even think about it, Zack.” Her deep voice was at odds with her petite frame. “I’ve given you enough already.”
Zack pressed his palms together in mock supplication. “Please? Pretty please? You know I left my pack at home. Plus, if you come with me, I’ll tell you about this freaky caller I had.”
“We all get freaky callers,” Alexa protested, but she tossed her nail file into the pencil holder on her desk and stood up. “Fine. I’ll do it, but only because you look especially hot today.”
Zack glanced down at himself. He was wearing his “working on my car” clothes: a black, fitted shirt and old jeans that sported several oil stains. He had to admit, he looked rugged. “Darling, I’ll wear this every day if it’ll make you happy.”
“That won’t be necessary.” Alexa opened the top drawer of her filing cabinet and extracted a pack of cigarettes. Zack was far from a regular smoker, but he indulged more often than he liked to admit. It was a combination of peer pressure—his coworkers all smoked—and the fact that he worked in the sex industry. Postcoital cigarettes were a fact of life at Murmur Inc.
Alexa gestured for him to follow and then weaved her way toward the exit. Zack fell into step behind her, keeping his eyes fixed on the back of her black hoodie. It was all he could do to block out the murmuring voices coming from the other cubicles. He was no prude—he couldn’t be in his line of work—but he had little desire to eavesdrop. The company Christmas party was already awkward enough.
Alexa reached the exit and shoved the metal doors open, revealing a darkened flight of stairs. Zack followed her down until they reached another door and then finally hit outside air. It was a clear, crisp autumn night, but Zack couldn’t see a single star. He’d been living in Los Angeles for over two decades, and he could only remember a handful of times that he’d really seen them. The city was a sprawling skeleton of concrete and metal. And, in his opinion, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Living here meant inhaling exhaust fumes and ordering salads with dressing on the side in the same breath.
Alexa broke him from his thoughts by handing him a cigarette.
Zack took it eagerly. “Thank God. I was dying of boredom in there.”
“What a coincidence,” Alexa said in an amused tone. “I was dying for a nonsmoker to steal one of my cigarettes.”
Zack rolled his eyes. “I smoke plenty.” He held up the cigarette as proof.
“Yeah, when you’d rather wreck your lungs than be inside. That really says something about how much you love your job.”
Alexa pulled a bubblegum-pink lighter from the pocket of her hoodie and lit up. Then she tossed it to Zack. He lit his own cigarette and handed the lighter back before taking a puff. The nicotine hit his bloodstream in a rush and made him feel dizzy. He could never quite decide if he liked the sensation or not. It was like being suddenly drunk for no reason.
Alexa noticed his unsteadiness. “That proves it. Real smokers don’t still get dizzy from it. Not that I’m encouraging you.”
“All judgment and lung cancer aside, I can’t afford a regular habit.”
“Fair enough. So—” she exhaled a plume of smoke “—tell me about this alleged ‘freaky caller’ of yours.”
“Oh man, you’re never gonna believe this one,” Zack began, brushing his dark hair out of his eyes. “He wanted me to—”
The door to the building swung open, and a man Zack vaguely recognized stepped outside.
“Hey, Pete,” Alexa greeted him, folding her arms over her chest. She flicked ash from the tip of her cigarette in a way that somehow looked artful. “How’s your first week going?”
“It’s going,” Pete said as he lit a cigarette of his own and shuffled closer. He looked like he was in his early twenties, same as Zack, but where Zack was tall and muscular, Pete was all elbows and knees. He had clear blue eyes and a baby-soft complexion, however, which made Zack stare longer than was necessary.
“A newb, huh?” Zack asked. “Welcome to the glamorous phone sex industry.” He eyed Pete’s skin again and rubbed his own stubbly jaw. Maybe he should start waxing.
“Yeah, I just started Monday. I have to say, I had no idea what to expect, and after three days, I still don’t.”
“You never will,” Alexa said cheerfully. “Every day I walk into the office thinking I’ve heard it all, and every day I’m proven wrong.”
“Tell me about it,” Pete said, his eyes growing wide. He glanced over his shoulder and then leaned toward them. “Just now, I had a client who wanted me to take a phone into—”
“The bathroom,” Zack and Alexa finished simultaneously.
Pete looked startled and embarrassed. “Um, yeah. How’d you know?”
“That’s a pretty common request,” Alexa answered. “I don’t know why, but men love to listen to you pee.”
“Just wait until you get into the really colorful shit,” Zack said, slapping Pete on the back. He clipped a shoulder blade and winced. It was like hitting a shard of glass. “Did you and Colette set your boundaries?”
“Yeah,” Pete said. “It seemed sort of unnecessary. I mean, no one is really going to call in and ask for—”
“Yes, they will,” Alexa and Zack interrupted again.
“Trust us,” Alexa continued. “Those boundaries are there for your mental well-being. They only stop about half the callers, but you’ll be grateful that you don’t have to deal with that half. What did you pick?”
Pete shifted from foot to foot. “Um, incest, rape fantasies, underage, and sadism.”
“Not bad.” Zack cocked his head. “You might want to be more specific about sadism, though. You’d think that would cover a variety of kinks, but if you don’t list something by name, clients will assume it’s on the table. I’d specify knife and blood play to start. We get a lot of requests for those.”
“Since you’re dishing out advice anyway, there is one thing I wanted to ask about. I don’t mean to sound rude, but I was expecting the people who worked here to be . . .” He gestured vaguely.
“Young?” Alexa suggested.
“Hot?” Zack supplied.
“Uh, not exactly. I guess I’m surprised that most of the people here look like I’d see them at the grocery store with their kids. Why is everyone so . . . normal, I guess?”
“You don’t have to be a model to be a PSO. You just have to have the right voice,” Zack answered. “There’s one woman who works here who’s a grandmother, and she’s one of our most popular operators because she sounds like a giggly sorority girl. Though being hot certainly doesn’t hurt.” Zack winked.
Pete blushed and cleared his throat. “Fair enough. Out of curiosity, does anyone service women callers? I’m signed up exclusively for men, and all the people I’ve spoken to only take men as well.”
“Nope,” Zack responded. “The ladies are sadly excluded, and not just by our company either. Most hotlines won’t do women. Every now and then we’ll get a client who wants his wife or girlfriend to listen in, but otherwise this is an old boys’ club.” Zack held up an indignant finger. “As a feminist, I, for one, am outraged.”
Alexa punched him on the arm. “To be fair, women almost never call us, but if they do, it’s company policy to turn them away. It’s an outdated rule that needs to change, in my humble opinion. I know for a fact that a good portion of our colleagues are willing to take female clients, myself included.”
“I’m not, though,” Zack intoned solemnly. “I think women are icky.”
Alexa hit him again, and Zack rubbed his arm. “Jesus, your fists are like tiny rocks.” He turned back to Pete. “Want to know a little trick I learned?”
“Clients are much easier to deal with once you realize they fall into four basic categories: flashers, first-timers, fetishists, and freaks. Flashers only want to stay on the phone for a minute or two—long enough to hear a few dirty lines and put their hands on their dicks—and then they hang up. Learn to identify these, and you can spare yourself from wasting energy on them. They’re not going to pay your bills.
“First-timers are basically like clingy prom dates. They want fantasies and fake intimacy. Mostly, they’re lonely men who want to feel connected to someone, even if it’s just a voice on the other end of the line. Oh, and they never know what the hell they’re doing, so if you let them bumble around for a bit, you can rack up a few extra minutes.”
Zack paused and grinned. Pete had pulled a little notebook and pencil out of his back pocket and was jotting down notes. “Finally, someone appreciates my genius! So, next are the fetishists. These are people who probably watched too much porn in their formative years. Vanilla just doesn’t cut it for them anymore. Fetishists want things like footjobs, pegging, and cuckolding. Most of all, they want it rough. The rougher the better.”
“How are they money-wise?” Pete asked.
“Good. They’re most PSOs’ bread and butter. If they want an involved scenario, you can sometimes keep them on the phone for hours, or so my colleagues tell me. My record is forty-eight minutes with a guy who wanted me to invent a third man and describe him fucking me while he watched. I called him Bob.” Zack crushed his cig out and threw it in a nearby trash can. “Last but certainly not least, you have my personal favorite: the freaks. Now, here’s where the job takes a turn down a dark road. The freaks are the reason we set boundaries. I’m not knocking anyone’s sexual preferences, bear in mind. We all like a pair of handcuffs and some hot wax every now and then. But these guys don’t deal in your everyday, run-of-the-mill fetishes.”
“I’m sorry,” Pete interrupted, “but isn’t the phrase ‘run-of-the-mill fetishes’ sort of an oxymoron?”
“Jesus, you really are new. Give it a week, kid. You’ll learn. As I was saying, the freaks are the ones who want the off-limits stuff. I had a guy the other day who wanted me to pretend to be a young vixen while he fucked me.”
“That doesn’t sound so odd.”
“Vixens aren’t hot women. They’re female foxes.”
“Oh Christ.” Pete looked green.
“Exactly. They’re not all as bad as that, and sometimes if you explain to them that you’re unwilling to play out a certain scenario, they’ll pick something else, but you have to be firm. These guys call thirty PSOs a day in the hopes of finding one who will agree to do the scene with them. Plus, even if you do get them to pick something else, the alternative isn’t always better. I have a regular who likes for me to listen while he has sex with various baked goods.” Zack snorted. “Once, he didn’t wait long enough for this pastry to cool, and when he stuck his dick in—”
“I get the picture,” Pete said. His color had mostly returned, but he still looked skittish.
Zack felt a stab of guilt. “Look, you’re going to get requests for unconventional things. That’s just part of the job. Your clients aren’t trying to upset you, though. Most of them are lonely or horny or experiencing some perfectly human need to talk to another person. In that sense, what we do is kind of noble, right? You get to help people. And hey, if the sex happens to be hot, it’s win-win.”
Alexa smirked. “Look at you, passing on words of wisdom to the probie.” She took one last drag on her cigarette before dropping it to the concrete and grinding it out beneath her heel. “Going soft on me, Hall?”
“Not a chance, Nichols.”
“Well, thanks for the advice.” Pete flicked his cigarette butt into the bushes. “Though I could have lived a long, happy life never knowing any of that.”
“You would have learned eventually. I was just speeding up the process.”
Just then, the door to the building opened, and a familiar blonde head popped out.
“Why am I not surprised?” the woman said as she approached. Despite her youthful good looks, she had the scathing glare of a middle-aged mother, which she turned full force on Zack and Alexa. Her designer clothes and tasteful makeup suggested money and class. “There’s only half an hour left in your shifts, so of course you decided it was time for a break.” Pete tried to edge away, but she snapped her head toward him. “I expect these two to slack off, but you’re new. Shouldn’t you be on your best behavior?”
Pete stammered out an apology and scuttled back into the building, slamming the door behind him.
“Colette!” Zack gushed. “You look particularly stunning this evening. Did you do something new with your hair?”
“Yes, but I doubt you actually noticed the difference. If you’d be so kind as to escort me inside, I need to have a word with you.”
A frisson of anxiety rattled up Zack’s spine. He didn’t think Colette would fire him, but then he’d also thought smartphones were just a fad. He glanced at Alexa, and she gave him an almost imperceptible shrug. Colette was holding the door open for him and tapping her foot. He had no choice but to follow her inside.
When they were back in the office, Zack noticed a bunch of people hanging around the door to one of the back rooms, which almost always meant a photo shoot was going on. Some of the entertainers were cool with letting others observe their technique, and it always drew a crowd. “Is someone having a session this late?”
“We’re just recording some new samples for the website. Our live cams haven’t been getting as many hits this month, so it’s time to spice things up.”
“How’s that going?” Zack asked, partially because he was curious and partially to delay their conversation.
“Fairly well, I suppose. It’s a new venture for us, and I’m willing to give it time. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you should go where technology leads.”
“If you don’t mind my asking, how long have you been in the biz?”
“Circa the Behind the Green Door era. I’ve seen a lot in my day.”
Zack glanced at Colette surreptitiously. He’d never asked how old she was and likely wouldn’t still be alive if he had. She didn’t look much older than forty but some of the things she said made him think she could be his grandmother
Zack shivered. That was a terrifying concept.
Colette moved to face him. “As it just so happens, the company is precisely what I want to talk to you about. Reconsider my offer.” It wasn’t a question.
Zack shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in working with anything other than the phones. I know the live cam girls make a lot of money, and some of our new films have seemed . . . titillating, but I don’t want my face plastered all over the internet.”
“Why not? You’re not the shy type, and from what you’ve told me, your parents don’t even know how to turn a computer on, let alone use it to watch porn.” Colette looked him up and down, but there was no heat in her gaze. She was merely assessing a potential product. “If I had your body, I’d take my clothes off every chance I got. Plus, you have the whole bad-boy look down pat, and I’ve actually heard women around the office describe your eyes as ‘stormy.’ That is a bad-romance-novel level of hotness.”
“True,” Zack said cheekily, “but I’m still not interested.”
“You’d be a star,” Colette cooed seductively. “If you’d broaden your horizons a bit and market yourself to women, you could double your audience.”
“I’m not exactly into women, though. It’s hard enough for me to fake the phone stuff sometimes, and that’s with other men.”
Colette shrugged. “It was worth a try. The offer’s there if you ever change your mind. Think about how much money you could make.”
“I know, I know”—Zack held up his hands in surrender—“and it’s about time we as a society gave the ladies their due, but I’m not your man.”
“Then you need to step up your game on the phones,” Colette snapped. She’d gone from simpering solicitation to business mode in two seconds flat. “Your average call lasts just ten minutes. That’s half as long as my other employees, including the new kids. Everyone else has at least five regular clients. You’re lucky if you can keep two for a month at a time. I don’t know if you think this job is beneath you or if you’re just not trying hard enough, but with a voice like yours, you should have a steady following by now.”
Zack started to answer, but then he faltered. In truth, he wasn’t serious about this job. He didn’t market himself or have his own website or offer special services like most of his coworkers did. They thought of themselves as independent contractors who were developing a brand. Zack wasn’t anywhere near that level. He’d gone into this hoping to pay his bills for a few months while he looked for a more mainstream career. Fortunately or unfortunately, he’d turned out to have a knack for it that allowed him to coast by with minimal effort.
“I’ll try harder,” he said after a guilty pause. He stared at the ground so he wouldn’t have to see the disappointed look on Colette’s face. “I just need to focus.”
“See that you do,” she said acerbically. “You have a Murmur waiting on your desk. Don’t half ass it just because your shift ends soon. If you have to stay late, do it. We’ll call it even for that unauthorized break you took.”
Zack nodded and made his way back to his cubicle. A single white sheet of computer paper rested between his desk phone and a coffee mug filled with unused pencils.
Most clients were either return callers or people who’d called in on a whim, but a few times a day they got a Murmur: a client who had a scenario in mind but hadn’t requested a particular PSO. Depending on what the client wanted, he’d be given to either whoever was available or whoever was best suited for the job.
Zack rested his elbows on his desk and scanned the Murmur. The client had requested a male, so far so obvious, with a deep voice and a “proclivity”—Zack made a mental note to google that later—for thinking on his feet.
Well, Zack understood why they’d given the Murmur to him. He was far from the best PSO out there, but he did have a reputation for being unflappable. One day Colette had asked him to train some newbies. He was supposed to read through a script with them, but instead he’d let them conference in on one of his calls as a joke.
It wouldn’t have been a big deal, except the client kept changing the scene every few minutes like he couldn’t make up his mind. Zack had jumped from being a student seducing his teacher to an English butler servicing his master in true transatlantic fashion. He’d even adopted a horrible fake accent that everyone agreed was the funniest part. Thankfully, the newbies thought to mute their phones, but the sound of their laughter still aroused suspicion around the office, and soon, everyone knew about it. Colette was furious when she found out, but now most calls that required quick thinking were delegated to him.
Zack scanned the rest of the memo for more information, but it seemed the client hadn’t requested a specific scene. He just wanted someone to “talk dirty” to him.
“What the fuck else is new?” Zack muttered. Obviously this guy wasn’t the most creative. Though he had requested a callback time, which was unusual. Normally, new callers were given to whoever was available immediately, but this guy wanted to hear from someone at 2:40 a.m., sharp.
Zack checked the time and cursed under his breath. He was three minutes late. In any other industry it wouldn’t matter, but in the world of phone sex, time literally translated to money.
Zack snatched up his phone and dialed the number for the call center. From there, the operators would redirect him to the client, which kept the call anonymous on both ends. As the lines clicked over, Zack mentally prepared himself for another bout of unimaginative sex.
On the second ring, a male voice answered. “Hello?”
“Hello,” Zack said, lowering his voice to a smooth rumble. “My name’s Wesley. I’m here to make all your dreams come true.” Zack rolled his eyes at the company tagline, as he always did. He understood the purpose of it, of course. It wasn’t like he could just come out and say, Hi, did someone order some phone sex? but he wished Colette had chosen something less corny.
Zack continued, “What’s your name?”
“John,” the man answered.
Zack almost laughed. Of all the fake names to use with a sex worker—and the names were always fake—John was certainly appropriate.
“Tell me about yourself, Wesley.”
Zack opened his desk drawer and pulled out a memo with his fake information written on it. He pretty much had it memorized, but he liked to have it out for quick reference just in case something tripped him up.
“What would you like to know?” he asked, just to be coy.
“The usual,” John replied. “Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies? What are your deepest, darkest secrets?” John laughed, a low vibration on the other end of the line, and Zack’s skin prickled. It occurred to him that John had a sexy voice: deep and reverberant like the purr of an engine.
Zack switched the receiver to his other ear and leaned forward, getting into character. “I’ve lived in LA my whole life. I love everything about the city: the noise, the people, how alive it feels even in the dead of night. I play guitar in a band in my free time. We book gigs in local dive bars sometimes, but for the most part we play for fun.” Everything he’d said was partially true. Zack did play guitar, and he’d always lived in LA, but he’d never been in a band. He liked this particular persona. It was easy to remember and the perfect mixture of Boy Next Door and Rock Star.
John seemed to like it as well. He made a sound under his breath that was halfway between a moan and a sigh. Zack’s body warmed in response.
“As for my deep, dark secrets,” Zack said, “you’ll have to find those out for yourself.”
“I look forward to it. So, Wesley, do you have a last name?”
Zack froze. Shit. No one had ever asked him that before. He quickly racked his brain, and a moment later a bit of a poem he’d read during his one year of college popped into his head.
“Darkling,” he answered. “My name is Wesley Darkling.”
John moaned again, and the hair on the nape of Zack’s neck stood up. Fuck, why was that so hot? Maybe this was going to be interesting after all.
“Wesley Darkling,” John repeated, like he was tasting it. “That’s quite a name. It goes perfectly with that sexy voice of yours.”
Zack licked his lips. Why did he feel like he was the one being seduced?
“Thanks,” he said for lack of anything better. He made a note of his new fake last name on his memo before continuing, “Allow me to return the compliment. With a voice like yours, you could put me out of a job.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” The line crackled with rustling fabric. A pillow being fluffed? Zack pictured John reclining on top of a large, luxurious bed. “Let’s get to the point, shall we? I want you to talk to me, Wesley. Tell me what you like for men to do to you, or what you like to do to yourself.”
Zack smirked. He only ever got such benign requests from first-timers. John seemed a lot less intimidating now that he’d shown his hand.
“I like to take my time,” he drawled, falling easily into his usual routine. He’d perfected the art of talking slowly enough to drag out the call but not so slowly that the client caught on. “And I like to be very thorough. I always start with kissing, and sometimes I’ll spend hours on just that. I’ve heard it said that you can tell everything you need to know about a man from his car and how he treats waiters, but there’s a much better way.”
“Oh?” John asked. “What’s that?”
“Betty Everett had it right: everything you need to know is in his kiss. Does he start out with slow, light kisses or shove his tongue down your throat? Is he desperate and messy, or do you have to coax him into it? Does he like to be in control, or would he rather someone pushed him up against the nearest flat surface and took what they wanted?” Zack paused for effect and all but breathed, “I bet you like to be pinned down and kissed until you can’t think straight.”
There was a beat of absolute silence. Then John made a sweet, languid sound like honey dripping from his lips. This time, Zack didn’t even try to suppress the arousal that pulsed through him. He could listen to John moan like that for hours.
“Fuck, that’s perfect,” John said. He seemed a little unsteady, and his breathing had quickened. “Keep talking. Tell me what you’d do next.”
Zack heard a pop followed by a squirt. If he were to hazard a guess, he’d say John had just opened a bottle of lube. Or he was shampooing his hair, but that seemed less likely. Zack knew what was coming next from experience, but that didn’t lessen the anticipation. An image of a generic attractive man jerking off floated through his mind. He held his breath and listened. A moment later, he heard the unmistakable sound of a slick fist moving rhythmically. Even if he weren’t a PSO, he’d recognize that from his teenage years alone, and it had no business being as hot as it was.
“I’d kiss you until you were weak and pliant against me,” Zack continued. “I’d start out slow and then deepen the kiss until the taste of me filled your mouth. I wouldn’t stop until you were a quivering mess, begging me to touch you. I’d start to remove your clothes. What are you wearing?” Zack knew it was a cliché, but he had to ask so he didn’t describe the wrong thing and ruin the fantasy.
“Button-down shirt and jeans.” It sounded like John was answering through gritted teeth.
“I’d work on your shirt first,” Zack said, keeping his voice low and velvety. “I’d pop the buttons open one by one and stop to touch every inch of skin as it was revealed. Once I’d undone enough of them, I’d play with your nipples.”
John blurted out, “Calluses.”
Zack hesitated. “What?”
“You said you play guitar,” John murmured. “You must have calluses on your fingers from the strings. I bet they feel amazing.”
Zack blinked. He’d never thought about it like that, but John was right. Zack did have calluses from pressing on the fretboard. He’d have to keep that in mind the next time he masturbated.
“Is that what you want me to do to you, John?” Zack moaned. “Wrap my hand around you and stroke you with my rough skin? Most of my calluses are on my fingertips. What if I dragged them up your length? It would be just a little too much, almost too intense, but you would love it, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, please, so good,” John whimpered.
Zack’s jeans were suddenly much too tight. With supreme effort, he forced himself not to squirm. Perhaps John wasn’t a first-timer after all.
“John, you’re so hot.” For once, he meant it. “You love it when it’s rough, don’t you? I bet you love to push your boundaries when you touch yourself: too fast, too hard, squeeze just a bit too much until you’re right on the edge between pleasure and pain.”
“Yes—God yes,” John stammered. “Do you?”
Zack grunted in affirmation. “Sometimes I don’t use enough lube on purpose so I can get that extra friction, and fuck, it almost hurts, but I come so hard every time.”
John made a helpless noise, and Zack’s cock throbbed in response.
Before he could say anything more, John breathed, “Jesus, I love your voice. It’s like it’s touching me, resonating against my skin. Please don’t stop. I’m close. I want to come to the sound of your voice. I want to burn it into my memory so I can still hear it for days after.”
“Oh shit, yes,” Zack blurted out before he could stop himself. “I want that too.” Desire, sharp and raw, flooded into him unchecked.
John seemed like he was about to fall apart. “Keep talking, Wesley. I’m so close.”
Zack couldn’t hold back anymore. He let himself get immersed in the fantasy. “Jesus, John, I’m so hard right now. I want to hear you come. I need to hear you come undone. I’m going to think about you when I’m lying in bed tonight. I’m going to remember all the little, needy noises you make, and I’m going to fuck my own fist until I come so hard I can’t move.” It wasn’t the first time Zack had said something like this to a client, but it was definitely the first time he’d meant it. “Christ, John, come for me, please.”
A second later, John made a ragged noise, like pleasure was being torn from his lips. Need spiked into Zack so intensely he had to bite his lip to distract himself. The knowledge that John was orgasming right now was almost unbearably hot. After a few seconds, the line filled with John’s labored breathing.
Zack fell silent. He was turned on to the point of discomfort, and despite John’s heavy breathing, he was pretty sure there was no oxygen left on Earth. He didn’t usually get hard on the job, let alone straining-in-his-jeans hard. The temptation to palm himself through the denim was almost too much. No matter how badly he wanted relief, however, he had a job to finish.
John’s breathing had quieted, which meant Zack needed to speak before things got awkward. He cast about for something appropriate to say. All his usual contrived good-byes seemed cheap, considering how genuine their session had been. But what else could he say? Thank you? Please call back soon? Was it good for you too?
He’d just settled on a simple compliment—Hey, man, that was fun. Let’s do it again sometime—when he heard a distinct click, followed by dead air.
It took Zack’s arousal-laden brain a moment to process what that meant.
John had hung up. Without saying good-bye.
Zack pulled the receiver away from his ear and looked blankly at it, as if expecting it to explain itself. After a solid thirty seconds, he placed it back in its cradle.
He stared at it for a moment longer before shifting his gaze to his clock.
He and John had been on the phone for eighteen minutes.
Quinn Anderson is an alumna of the University of Dublin in Ireland and has a master’s degree in psychology. She wrote her dissertation on sexuality in popular literature and continues to explore evolving themes in erotica in her professional life.
A nerd extraordinaire, she was raised on an unhealthy diet of video games, anime, pop culture, and comics from infancy. She stays true to her nerd roots in writing and in life and frequently draws inspiration from her many fandoms, which include Sherlock, Harry Potter, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Buffy, Marvel, and more. You will often find her interacting with fellow fans online and offline via conventions and tumblr, and she is happy to talk about anything from nerd life to writing tips. She has attended conventions on three separate continents and now considers herself a career geek. She advises anyone who attends pop culture events in the UK to watch out for Weeping Angels, as they are everywhere.
Her favorite television show is Avatar: the Last Airbender, her favorite film is Tangled, and her favorite book is Ella Enchanted. She can often be spotted at conventions, comic shops, and midnight book releases. If you’re at an event, and you see a 6’2” redhead wandering around with a vague look on her face, that’s probably her. Her favorite authors include J.K. Rowling, Gail Carson Levine, Libba Bray, and Tamora Pierce. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling, cooking, spending too much time on the internet, screwing the rules, finding the Master Sword, guided falling, consulting for the NYPD, guarding the galaxy, boldly going, and catching ’em all.
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