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About the Author
Also by Janica Cade
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.
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“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.”