In the advertising business, Harris Desmond is notorious for his bad boy attitude, but behind that arrogant front hides a sensitive soul. Weeks away from launching his first perfume for men, Erebus, Harris dreams of success and finally emerging from his painful past.
Weeks before the launch party, Harris's friend suggests he contact an escort agency to hire a date for his big night. Of course, Harris has his reservations about the idea, but the last years of casual encounters and failed relationships have left him feeling lonely. He secretly longs for someone special who'd understand him and all of his faults.
When the agency sends him his date, Pallas, Harris gets a lot more than he paid for. Sweet and vulnerable, Pallas cuts through Harris's heart like a clean blade. But Pallas is chasing a dream, running on empty and caught in a downward spiral. He wants to give Harris his heart, yet after years of seeing the ugly side of people, he fears there's nothing left of it to give.
But Harris knows the secret of scents, and he and Pallas are the perfect accord.
They stepped out. "Thank you for showing me your lab," Pallas said.
Harris shut the door behind them. "I don't usually let anyone in there by the way. It's a thing with us perfumers -- the secrecy. Don't want people copying the formulas. You know, Catherine de Medici had a secret passage into her perfumer's lab."
"Who was he?"
"Rene Le Florentin. He was famous for his perfumes ... and fishes."
"Yeah, he sold fish, too." Harris stopped by the bar, wanting a drink. "And I read somewhere that King Louis XIV had a perfume for every day."
"'Cause he probably smelled like shit."
Harris burst into laughter. "So fucking true."
In the living room, Pallas didn't sit, but stood by the couch and then glanced at his watch. "Well, we have thirty minutes left," he said, giving Harris a probing look. "Is the bedroom this way?" He turned his attention to the hall. "Or do you prefer we stay in the living room?"
A little nervous, Harris poured himself a few ounces of vodka.
Pallas watched him calmly from the couch. "Harris, what can I do to put you at ease?"
Harris set his glass down on the bar top. He walked to the couch and sat by Pallas, taking a moment to gaze at his face. He was so beautiful. Maybe too beautiful. It was intimating.
To his surprise, Pallas leaned in and kissed his neck, just below his ear. "Relax ... Lie back. Enjoy it."
Pallas's warm breath on his earlobe sent chills down Harris's arms, and eager for more, he slipped his hand into Pallas's blond hair, going in for a kiss.
But Pallas jerked back. "No. I don't kiss on the mouth."
Harris understood. Too intimate. Too personal. "Okay. All right. That's fine," he said, but there was an edge to his voice.
Seductively, Pallas moved close to him again. With a slow hand, he unfastened Harris's leather belt and then gently unzipped his pants. "Let me see," he whispered, sliding his hand over the bulge in Harris's black briefs. "Wow, so big." The words sounded mechanical. Rehearsed.
Harris stiffened. "Hey, I'd rather you wouldn't give me the typical escort act, if you don't mind."
Pallas looked up at him and there was a flicker of surprise in his eyes. "Sorry. Usually guys wanna hear that stuff." He bent down over Harris's crotch again.
"Hey, wait. Why can't you tell me your name at least?"
Pallas narrowed his eyes, staring up at him. "What do you want from me, Harris? Tell me."
Harris thought about it for a moment. "I don't know if this is right ..."
"Me or ...?"
"No, no, not you." Hesitantly, he touched the side of Pallas's smooth face. "Forcing you to -- "
"Forcing me?" Pallas sat up. "I'm here on my own volition. It's my job. My choice."
If he continued down this path, he'd trigger Pallas again and he'd leave. "Okay," Harris whispered. "Sorry."
"It's okay." There was a shadow in Pallas's eyes.
He'd have to stop prying or he'd hurt Pallas's feelings. "You're stunning, do you know that?" he said, softly, touching a strand of Pallas's hair, near his ear. "I guess I'm a little intimidated by you."
"What? You're intimidated by me? Gimme a break."
"Why wouldn't I be? You're fucking perfect." Blood pounding, Harris leaned in closer and kissed Pallas's fragrant neck, just below his ear. "Hmm ... and that scent."
"So what are you into?" Pallas asked, offering his neck to Harris, his voice sounding husky.
"I'm not into anything. But this is nice." He skimmed his fingers along the expanse of Pallas's chest. "Can I take your shirt off?"
"Yes ..." Pallas let him slip his shirt off and over his head. Underneath that polo, his chest was smooth and well-defined, with round pecs and very pale nipples. "What do you want?" he asked again. He'd tousled his hair while taking off his shirt and a strand of it hung loosely over his forehead.
"I don't want anything." Harris's cock stirred. "Maybe I wanna give you something." He kissed and nibbled Pallas's ear, trying to keep from crushing his mouth to Pallas's lips. God, he wanted to kiss him so fucking bad. Pallas was breathing harder, his hands roaming over Harris's back. Slowly, Harris undid the buttons of Pallas’s blue jeans. When Pallas didn't protest, he pulled the zipper down and heart pounding, slipped his hand inside Pallas's tight briefs. Squeezing Pallas's chest, he kissed his creamy skin, and Pallas was getting harder and harder -- not immune to his caresses, after all.