Art teacher Stone Larrabee dreads parent/teacher conferences. One following Christmas break becomes especially awkward, when a man with whom he shared a hot anonymous hookup and a nasty argument afterward walks in. Edison Watts.
The moment they’re reunited, sexual sparks reignite. Too many conflicts force Stone to decree there can never be anything between them but the one night, though, even as fate keeps throwing them together throughout the school year, and developing feelings become hard to ignore.
Some problems are easily solved while others, including the reason for Edison’s initial attraction to Stone and the chip on Edison’s shoulder bigger than the high school’s football field, prove more difficult. Stone can teach, but he decides must also be willing to learn and grow. When Edison promises to do the same, can they find a way to make one and one equal two?
"I wasn't thinking anything like that," Stone told him loudly, tugging on the leash as he stopped, too. "I was thinking of how good you are as a dog teacher. I wish teaching teenagers was as easy."
"Which is it? Am I good, or is it easy? See, that time, the implication was definitely there, like your ability and intellect is superior to mine, like mine is on the same level as a dog's."
The dogs were going crazy.
"Yes. You have a chip on your shoulder. It seems like you can't wait to argue or put yourself down."
"Before someone else can."
"I wasn't going to. If having a high school diploma means that much to you, I teach GED classes three nights a week all summer."
"Of course, you do. Heal." Edison rubbed behind Monty's neck. "Do him," he said softly to Stone.
The neck massages soothed them both. Stone wanted to offer Edison one.
"Let's switch for the walk home." Edison handed over Python's leash. "You need the practice."
"I sure do."
They were partway back to Edison's before either spoke again, Stone first, taking a chance.
"Sign up for the class."
"Yeah, right," Edison said evenly. "If I was smart enough to earn a diploma, I would have gotten one a decade ago."
"Okay. I won't push it."
"And just so you know, I'm aware seventeen years is closer to two decades. I just don't like to admit it."
"No worries. The offer is there."
"What offer is that?" Edison asked.
"I can help you, if you want. Tutor you through it. The first session will be on the house. Quid pro quo."
"Okay. Fair enough." Stone was hoping for a smile. He didn't get one.
"I also know what quid pro quo means. I can even spell it. Q-u-i-d p-r-o q-u-o."
"I figured you would know what it meant, otherwise I wouldn't have said it."
"So, you dumb yourself down around me? Was that always the case, or just since I told you I dropped out of high school?"
"I didn't ..." Staying calm for the dogs around Edison was certainly a challenge. "I happen to think you come across as a very intelligent man." Stone figured he was doing okay, when Python kept to all fours and walked. "A diploma is important but not having one doesn't mean someone is dumb."
"I come across…your words. Does that mean it's, like, an act?"
"Jesus, Edison! There's no winning with you!"
"Woof!" One bark, one tug on the leash, Python settled.
"Nope." Edison didn't. He was just better at hiding it from Monty.
"Well, I'll shut up, then, so we can just enjoy the summer-like spring day," Stone managed without canine incidence.
"Feel free to take your shirt off, if you want."
Stone smoothed it out instead. He even tugged at the hem, as if trying to make sure nothing was uncovered.
"You don't believe anything I say. How can I fix that?"
"What are you talking about?" The snippy tone seemed to go unnoticed by the dogs.
"I said I liked your body. I've seen you naked-twice. Why won't you take your shirt off?"
"Your neighbors haven't seen me naked twice."
"None of them?"
The son of a bitch was quick. Stone lost the battle against Edison's smirk and his own amusement that forced its way through. "None of them," he said.
"I'm sure some of them would like it, too."
"That doesn't count as something new, if you're trying to finagle sex again."
"Busted. Of course, I had that in mind. Fucking you crosses it often."
Edison shrugged. "Let's always be honest, at least."