Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostępny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacji Legimi na:
How He Kisses
Leave a Review
About the Author
How He Preys
Leave a Review
About the Author
How He Seduces
Leave a Review
About the Author
Next in Series
Copyright © 2016 by Janica Cade
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For Passionate Readers Everywhere
Go to janicacade.com to subscribe and pick up a FREE 32,000-word alpha billionaire trilogy.
“I can’t do it.” I sipped my cup of coffee and let it burn my throat. “Next week will be my last.”
My best friend of eight years, Kate, gave me the worst puppy dog eyes. “Bullshit, Chloe. You haven’t even handed in your two-week notice. Isn’t it time to repay that favor I did for you?” She begged, grabbing my hand and caging it between hers.
My stomach rolled. She was referring to the escort job she got me. It was going to hold me over until I’d found a real job. That never came. Besides, the money is good and the clientele is fine, as long as you ignore that you are spending your Friday nights with desperate, lonely men. Whatever. At least I rake in good cash on the weekend instead of spending it.
The main problem was people’s obvious distaste for what I do. It’s not as if I was fucking these guys, but damn… people were always so quick to judge. Naturally, I stopped telling folks I was an escort and turned it into a fun round of charades. But the game is getting old now, and I’m getting older too. I’m tired of lying to everyone. And how long can I go before my brain becomes numb from not learning an actual skill?
Kate’s situation was worse than my own. Was she stuck here for life? My mind scrambled for a response. “Shouldn’t you be the one quitting? You’ve been doing this for four effing years. Why don’t you move to something new?”
She grimaced and glared at me as if I was out of my mind. “Like what?”
My thoughts froze in their tracks. She got me there. I had no idea what to do with myself either. I needed the money and I couldn’t take a pay cut to learn something new—not with my dad’s condition. Someone had to put food on the table. A girl had to do whatever she could to keep her family alive. I brought my attention back to her. “Like go to college.”
Shallow laughter vibrated through her chest, her stomach rising and falling. “You seriously think I want to go to university like you, Miss Prim?”
My chest tightened. Prim? I held my tongue. That was a compliment considering what I did for a living. “What’s your problem with going to college?”
“I ain’t smart enough for that,” Kate waved the suggestion away. “I’m twenty-five, Chloe. Don’t you think that’s a little too old for college?”
For the last couple of months, I had been trying to persuade Kate to quit the escort crap and go to college with me. But she’d insisted she was too dumb and too old to get in and change. It wasn’t that. It was because the money was too damn good. I quit fumbling with my zipper and tried to convince her yet again. “Don’t you have more drive now than you did when you were 18? Just get in and step on the gas. You’ll come out a better person on the other side.”
After graduating high school, my dad hadn’t been able to afford college for me, so escorting became a good way to earn money to get into architecture school. I had my plan. Escort, make money, then get my ass in class. But then Dad got sick, and I stayed longer than expected.
I hadn’t realized that she was talking when I noticed her lips moving. “… I know you’re ready to quit. But please, Chloe, I’m begging you. Rosalyn’s pissed enough as it is with me taking sick leave in the middle of things.”
Kate had taken it upon herself to get a boob job because she didn’t think she had enough going on “up top”. She was supposed to heal in two to three weeks, but it had been a full month and she was still recovering.
Rosalyn, our boss, was gung-ho about the breast lift in the beginning, but when her staff dwindled, she had to get other girls to fill positions.
“Shouldn’t have messed with mother nature,” I remarked, my voice dripping with disapproval.
A line etched between her amber eyes. “Are you not willing to help a friend in need?”
My stomach grew heavy. She had a point. Kate was a pain in my rear half the time, but she was a loyal friend and she expected the same from me. I struggled with the idea of pushing aside my own hopes and dreams to help her. “One more job won’t kill me,” I grumbled.
“Yay!” Kate threw her arms around my neck and clung on, trying to choke the last bit of life from me. “Thank you for doing this. It means a lot.”
“Just this one,” I reminded, sticking my index finger into the air for emphasis. “After this, I’m done. I’m never going back again.”
Kate beamed and bobbed her head, her face brightening for the first time in the whole conversation. “I know, girl. And I’m proud of you for choosing a better career than this.”
My ribs tightened over my stomach while my thoughts flickered to my dad, who was waiting for my visit. Paramedics rushed him to the emergency room when he had a heart complication last night while I was finishing with a client. Lucky for the both of us, it wasn’t serious. I had to admit, taking up Kate’s client wouldn’t hurt and the money would do me good. My dad’s medical bills never slept. I lifted myself from the plush sofa. “When am I supposed to meet the client?”
Kate fidgeted with her pajama button. “Next Monday morning. He’s coming in to settle matters with the boss. I’ll let Rosalyn know that you’re taking over for me. Have you told her you’re quitting?”
I swallowed an emerging lump in my throat. I’d been dreading facing the boss. Texting or messaging her to quit was just wrong. I’d worked for the fiery redhead for two years and she was known for losing her temper and snapping. I had never seen it happen, because I always tried to do my job as best as I could. Monday’s the day. I’ll throw one stone and get it done. “I’ll go Monday when he’s there and talk to Rosalyn too. She’ll understand.” It was a hopeful fib. I had no idea how Rosalyn would react and it worried me.
“Could she force you to stay?” Kate asked in a quiet voice.
Heat spread as my heartbeat echoed through my chest. “Oh hell no. Rosalyn would never get away with that crap. I’d turn her in to the Department of Labor so fast, her head would spin.”
I drew in a deep breath and calmed the tight nerves in my neck. The boss generally played fair. Clients had to obey the rules. If a particular client hassled one of us, Rosalyn allowed us to terminate the contract and then paid us anyway. Nobody was forced to have sex. Ever. It was a girl’s choice, and if a client acted weird about it, then he could take his business elsewhere. In that way, I respected Rosalyn. Sure, she could throw a fit sometimes, but at least she stood up for us. I wiped my sweaty palm against my jeans. “I should get going,” I announced, turning the door knob. “I still need to check on my dad and see how he’s doing.”
“Thanks again for doing this, Chloe. It really means a lot to me and I’m forever grateful.” She gave me a hug before I eased the door shut.
Florida heat stifled my face. One last project and I would be done with being an escort. I didn’t hate the job. In fact, I quite liked it. I got to play dress-up and drink fine champagne. I accompanied date-less men to formal balls and got paid too. Win-win. Right?
Problem was, I’d made a promise to myself and now I was breaking it. I hate not achieving my goals. I wanted to marry my prince and start my own family. My future children would NEVER learn about me being an escort. Even if I didn’t fuck my clients.
Taxi cab wheels whirled beneath me. Vehicles blurred past as people walked along the pedestrian lane. The taxi stopped moving as the hospital appeared through the window. I paid the driver and hopped out to meet Dad.
He was awake and in good spirits when I walked into his room. He was wearing one of those hospital gowns, only this time it was a different color. His face lit up when he saw me. I smiled and sauntered over, pressing a chaste kiss on his dry cheek.
He arched a gray eyebrow and studied my face as if something needed to be assessed. “Where did you go?”
My stomach rolled. He hated my choice in careers, but my dad and I had an honesty pact and I would never lie to him. I swallowed. “Visited Kate. She asked me to do a shift for her.”
His face darkened and his lips pressed into a thin line. “Did you make that appointment with the college counselor?”
I propped myself on an available chair by the edge of his bed and squared my shoulders. “Not yet. I’m doing this for Kate. She’s sick and she can’t work.”
“Sick? What does she have?”
Shit. She’d kill me if I told anyone about her boob job mishap. I bit my bottom lip. “Can’t say.”
“Is this how you get ahead in life? By rolling around with morons who can’t get dates?”
Hot air flooded my nostrils. I wasn’t rolling around with anyone and now even my own father was doubting me. I wasn’t that kind ofgirl. I believed in love and physical chemistry before sex. And currently, love didn’t exist in my world, so neither did sex. I challenged him. “Do you think I’ve been intimate with these men?”
“How could you not be? Who the hell pays for a mere date and conversation?”
My mind scrambled for words. He didn’t understand and I had grown tired of defending my job long ago. “Do you think it’s easy for everyone to find love like you and Mom?”
He said nothing. He and my mother had the most powerful love that ever existed.
I was fortunate to have been raised in a loving family, but who else had that? Their love was a fluke. That tight bond simply didn’t exist anywhere else and it was naïve of my dad to assume that love came easy. “Think it’s so simple? Most people fool themselves with the wrong people their entire lives. Half of all marriages end in divorce and the majority of the other half should call it quits too. Marriage is a pretend game. I don’t blame my clients and frankly I think they’re smart for not dating, because it’s a mess.”
My pessimistic words suddenly bothered me. Had I really come to believe that it was all a farce? My hand had already risen to my mouth when the corners of my dad’s lips formed a smile.
He crossed his arms and lifted his head. “You can’t fall in love if you’re not open to it.”
“Love is overrated.” Pins prodded at my underarms. Why was my love life—or lack thereof—now on the table? I quickly changed the subject. “Kate’s sick. She’ll lose her job if I flake on her and I need to be a good friend.”
He must’ve realized he was losing the battle because the smirk disappeared from his face. “I’m sure that agency has dozens of escorts, Chloe. Can’t someone else take over instead?”
“It’s one last job,” I stressed. “I don’t want her to end up jobless. She’s my best friend and it’d crush her to lose her job. Our friendship would be over too.”
He tilted his head downward and frowned. He flashed one finger in front of me just like I had done earlier with Kate. “One last job. Then you get your ass in gear and get in school.”
He finally gave in and I placed a hand over his. “I promise it’ll be over after this. But for now, I need you to stop worrying about it and focus on getting better, okay?”
“I will. You focus too. You get into college and get studying. Don’t become like me, Chloe-girl.”
“Too late for that,” I chortled. “I gotta run to the cleaners. I’ll be back in the morning t--”
“Chloe?” My father’s determined eyes matched mine.
I halted my clatter. “Yes?”
He squeezed my hand. “Thank you.”
I would make it work. I was getting his hospital bills paid, and would continue to do so for the next couple weeks. It’s only two or three weeks. What’s the worst that can happen?
Monday morning came fast. Sunlight poured through the window surface of my bedroom, highlighting the white sheets of my mattress as I stretched and pushed strands of hair from my face. Hopping out, I showered, pulled a black pencil skirt and fuchsia silk blouse on, and grabbed breakfast before checking on my father. He was still fast asleep in his bed when I poked my head in. The doctor had given us the okay to get him home yesterday.
The drive prepared me for the upcoming conversation and I rehearsed lines I would say to Rosalyn. I dreaded her response but dragged myself into the quiet building anyway. Rosalyn talked to one of my colleagues by the counter. She stopped and turned around, as if sensing my presence behind her.
“Good morning,” I greeted.
They both chimed a ‘good morning’ before Rosalyn led me to her office. The smell of wood and lavender struck me.
“Have a seat, Chloe,” Rosalyn ordered before sitting in her swiveling chair. She interlaced her hands behind her head and rocked back. “Kate said you took over the project for her.”
I nodded. “Yes. Is it okay?” I cringed and waited for my first response from the curly, fit woman.
“Why would I have a problem with that?”
“I don’t know. I… well, there’s one more thing,” I stammered.
“Yes? Tell me.”
I nodded once more. “It’s been two years, and you have been a great employer, but I need to continue my studies and explore other options. I can’t continue this job forever.”
“No, you cannot,” Rosalyn agreed, her eyebrow arched. “You have my permission to quit and I would accept your resignation letter once you’ve passed it on. Now, let’s talk about this new project.” She quickly moved on. “The client should be here in less than an hour.”
Her words faded as my mind raced for any trace of resistance. Shouldn’t she be more shocked or irritated? The resignation process had happened too easy, and that was scary. I cleared my throat and felt uneasy for the rest of the meeting.
We covered simple facts about the client. Apparently he was so new and shiny that Rosalyn didn’t even care about my quitting. Her hand trembled as she placed a folder on the black glass table.
I opened the folder to see a single white page with a printed name. Jake Sutherland. The name sounded familiar, but my mind was empty and so was the page. I picked it up and flipped it over. Is this a joke? “There’s nothing here. Where’s his profile?”
She crossed her arms. “He didn’t supply it to us. He said we’d be on a need-to-know basis.”
Who was this man? What if he isn’t who she thinks he is? I didn’t like it. Not one bit. I opened my mouth to object as the door swung open.
He walked in.
I tried to control a gasp that emanated from my throat and slammed my mouth shut. The entire office hushed as his smooth, dark hair captivated the attention of every girl in the room. An aura of dominance surrounded him as he glanced around, his eyes stern and steady. His blue orbs traveled my way until they met mine and penetrated through to the depths of my soul. Thick arousal rushed between my thighs as I fought back a shiver.
“Mr. Sutherland,” Rosalyn greeted as she stood up from her black, leather chair and rushed to him.
I froze as I considered the prospect of dating this man. He was hot--by far the hottest man who had ever walked into the office and he was still gazing at me. I pried my fingers from the knitted cloth chair and rose.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you,” my boss bubbled, trying to recapture his attention. “Thank you for coming by today and discussing this matter with us.”
His eyes flickered as they focused on the short redhead. He offered a courteous smile. “Absolutely.”
Rosalyn introduced us.
He turned to me. “Miss Madison. It is a pleasure to meet you.”