I ate all the fruit and cheese off the plate, but nearly gagged with the first bite of the turkey sandwich. It was slathered with mayonnaise and the texture of it made me want to hurl. I reached for a napkin and, politely as I could, spit the bread and meat into it before dumping everything into the garbage can under the table.
“There, don’t you feel better now?” Levi asked. The soft smile he gave me when I looked up at him made something in my chest do a somersault. I wished I knew what about this guy got a reaction out of me when I’d spent so much of my life thinking I was incapable of feeling attraction to anyone. “If you’re a good boy this afternoon, maybe I’ll see if we can get you that Coke you wanted.”
“You do realize I’m not a kid, right?” If there was one thing I hated, it was being treated like a child. Everyone in my life treated me like I was still a kid, reliant on them to help me navigate day-to-day life.
“Believe me, I fully understand.” Levi allowed his gaze to travel slowly over my entire body and I fidgeted under his scrutiny. The tip of his tongue peeked out from between his lips as he sucked in a sharp breath. “No one who’s seen you today could mistake you for a child, and I’m sorry if I gave you that impression.”
Levi stood and rounded the table between us, perching himself on the edge. When he reached for my hands, I didn’t resist his touch. “You did a great job this morning. I could tell when you first got here you were in over your head. I’m proud of you for putting aside your worries to get the job done. That shows me you’re a professional.”
It was nice to hear him say so, but I wasn’t a professional. I was just a cute guy who fit the vision my friend had for the face of his kinky website. I shook my head, averting my eyes to the floor. I struggled to accept a simple compliment without finding a way to get down on myself. I startled when Levi crooked a finger under my chin, lifting my face so I was looking at him again.
“You still have about twenty minutes before we finish setting up for the next series of pictures. Why don’t you lay down and close your eyes for a little bit?” Before I could argue with him, Levi pulled a pillow and blanket out of one of the prop totes and guided me to the other end of the couch. “Matteo, listen to me. I’m not trying to treat you like a child, but we barely scratched the surface on the images John wants us to get today. There’s going to be a lot of work for you to do, and I don’t want you exhausted by the time we wrap up for the day.”