There is no shame in pleasure. And no love in business.
I have a blind date tonight, and I know with 100% certainty that I'm getting lucky. There shouldn't be any surprises, not for one as jaded as me, but when I walk into the penthouse suite of L'Etoile, everything changes.
1) For one thing, Bea is heartstoppingly gorgeous. Pale green eyes and endless freckles. Curves I want to spend all night exploring, as if her body was made for me.
2) Her innocence makes me want to use my entire inventory of bedroom tricks on her and then invent a few more.
3) Except that . . . she’s a virgin.
I can initiate her into the world of desire without letting her get attached, can't I? A few hours of tutoring, and at the end of the night a small fortune will be deposited into my bank account.
Yes, you read that right. There are many words for what I do. After all, mine is the oldest profession. I'm an escort, which means this date is nothing more than a mutually enjoyable transaction.
But once I realize one night with her won’t be enough, I’m the one who's screwed.
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The word seems to take her aback. “Pleasure?”
“That’s the nature of my business, yes.” My body tightens, because it would be pleasure indeed to touch this woman. To kiss her. To make her moan for me.
Although I might have to rethink that plan, because the word pleasure might as well have been medieval torture based on the way Bea looks at me. “I thought we were going to have sex.”
She sounds so forlorn it could break my heart.
Instead I laugh, a small huff of breath, because I can’t afford to have a heart.
“Sex,” I say, standing to full height, circling the scuffed oriental coffee table, standing behind her chair. “And pleasure. Pleasure and sex. They’re interchangeable.”
I brush my knuckles over the side of her neck, a demonstration. Her wild curls tickle my skin.
It’s provocative, this. If she had agreed to dinner I would have started with small touches, a glance of my palm against the small of her back as I pulled out her chair, holding her hand while we talked over a glass of wine. Perhaps being so bold as to run a finger along the inside of hers, where it’s more sensitive. She would shiver; her gaze would meet mine.
There’s an order to these things. You can move fast or slow, but there’s still an order.
“We can skip the pleasure part,” she says, her voice high, her breathing faster. Her chest rises and falls in the black dress, made all the more alluring by how much it covers. She’s a mystery. The black sky in the city. I have to work to see her secrets.
“No,” I chide gently. “We focus on the pleasure. That’s the point.”
“What if—” Her breath catches as I drop the back of my hand over her collarbone, a reverse caress. That’s what one does for a skittish creature like her. “What if I have a different point?”
“And what point would that be, my sweet Bea?”
“I want to lose my virginity,” she says, so fast it comes out as a single word.
IWANTTOLOSEMYVIRGINITY. It takes my lust-warmed brain a full minute to comprehend. She’s not only nervous, this woman. She’s a virgin.
My hand freezes. I yank it away. “Pardon me?”
I can’t have heard her correctly. There is no chance in hell that this beautiful young woman, as strange and interesting as she is, is a virgin. No chance in hell that I was the one tasked to be her first. I could not possibly spread her legs and thrust inside her, knowing that no one’s ever been there. It would be a physical impossibility. Never. No possible way.
“It doesn’t have to take long,” she says, suddenly earnest. Almost begging me. “I don’t need…you know…whatever you do for other women. I only want the sex.”
My God. “You are insane.”
A scrunch of her nose. “Well, you don’t have to sound too surprised. It is what I requested when I called. The woman said that’s what you do.”
“I’m not taking your virginity.” On some level I might have guessed this about her. If I had considered it even possible, I might have. Virgins don’t hire me. They stammer and giggle and turn away from me, their protective instincts strong enough to send them in the opposite direction. So perhaps I can be forgiven for not recognizing this one, so forthright.
Bea frowns. “Is that a different department or something?”
She’s mocking me. She’s mocking me for being, well, prudish, and I feel strangely buoyant. I could float away with the absurdity of it. “Yes, it’s a different department. The department of a frat boy who fumbles around in the dark.”
“Are you seriously not going to do it?”
The irony is enough to flatten me, that this is a woman I might have pursued outside this job. She would have been too young for me, even if I weren’t an escort and she wasn’t my client. That wouldn’t have stopped me from wanting her.
But in another incarnation, if I had been one of those fumbling frat boys, I would have followed this woman to the ends of the earth. That’s a hypothetical scenario on multiple levels, but I’m good at hypotheticals, which is another reason I’m good at my job.
So good that I please every single client I’ve ever had.
Meet the Author: Skye Warren
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.
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