Hallen Jansen has it all. At 28, he has a flashy car, a great apartment, and a job he’s good at and that he loves – as an escort – working at your beck and call.
His life is easy, with no emotions or attachments slowing him down – choosing to keep moving, always running from the past. But when a new client awakens unfamiliar feelings, all bets are off. Can he convince a recently divorced woman twenty years older to trust men again – to trust him? Can Hallen trust himself not to screw things up?
Surrounded by people who choose to judge them, will they make their relationship a reality, or is it heartbreak for both?
Not all services are professional.
“So, what other services do you offer, Hallen?”
How many times had I been asked that question? How many times had I answered it?
She laid her hand on my knee, her gaze sharp, questioning, lustful—and ashamed.
The light was not kind to her, emphasizing hard lines around her mouth, the overly tight skin of her forehead.
She should have chosen a bar with softer lighting. Candlelight hides a multitude of sins. Except my sins are all on the inside.
When I’d arrived at the designated restaurant earlier in the evening, she’d been careful to conceal her age. Maybe she thought I’d care. I didn’t. I gave my name to the hostess and asked her to let Ms. Mandelsohn know that I had arrived.
It was always interesting meeting a new client—a challenge, too—getting to know her, putting her at ease, helping her to feel comfortable, working out what she wanted from a date. She needed to feel safe with me, like I’d take care of her in all senses of the words. And talking is underrated as a method of foreplay. Clients often said they felt like they’d known me for years. Well, they knew the part I showed them, which wasn’t the same thing at all. But it was enough to let me fuck them.
They didn’t always want sex—or they said they didn’t. Once they’d met me, they often changed their minds.
She joined me at the window, a large glass of Cognac in each hand. I accepted one and clinked it against hers.
She smiled and took a sip, her eyes thirsty and impatient.
“What are you thinking?” she asked, quietly.
“That it’s a long way down.”
She laughed, tension seeping around the edges of the sound. “I hope you’re not thinking of jumping to get away from me.”
I turned to look at her, deliberately running my eyes up and down her body. “No, I’m not thinking that.”
Her lips parted in a small gasp.
I took the glass out of her hand and placed it on the table with mine.
Belinda. Her name was Belinda.
“What do you like, Belinda?”
“You can tell me,” I said, as if we were sharing a secret. “Do you want me to touch you slowly?” I drifted my fingers down her arm, stroking her skin. “Or do you want me to take you hard?” I gripped her wrist in one hand and tipped her chin up with the other, so she was forced to look at me.
I saw her moisten her lips and swallow.
“Hard,” she whispered.
Yeah, that’s what I’d guessed. You learned to read people—women—in this job.
She licked her lips again and tottered forward, her balance becoming uneven with an alchemy of alcohol and lust.
“Do you want me to take you at the window, baby? Press your beautiful breasts against the cold glass while I fuck you. Anyone looking up would know what a bad, bad girl you are. Anyone could see.”
She choked on a laugh and I could tell she was considering it. My guess was she’d go for the bed. Older women usually did.
Have you ever wondered what money smells like? I mean real money. Not just a lot of money, but vats of money, swimming pools of money, whole oceans of money. It smells of sweat and sex, wrapped in silk.
That’s the scent that filled my lungs walking into the Casino de Monte Carlo.
The building was bathed in bright yellow lights, turning the white stucco into a shimmering facade. A marble fountain seemed to pour molten gold into the piscina at its base.
And the women. My God, the women. Birds of Paradise in gowns of every color, shade, texture and tone. You noticed the dresses first—the faces above were all the same—rich, privileged, aware.
“By the way, Emma, what’s it for?”
“The fundraiser. Which charity is it for?”
“Christ! I don’t know!” she said, distracted by a blonde woman in skyscraper Laboutins. “Whales or tuna or goldfish or something! Who cares?”
I kept my mouth shut.
At the door, we were greeted by a well dressed staff member who knew both our names, and handed us each a $50,000 casino chip.
Emma smiled, watching with vulpine amusement as I tried to cover up my astonished reaction.
“Enjoy!” she said, stroking my ass. “If you’re a good boy, there’ll be more where that came from.”
It must have been obvious who and what I was. I wouldn’t say I was oblivious to the barely hidden contempt from those who saw us together, but I’d learned to ignore it. The burn was a little less.
She opened the door and hesitated, her eyes alight with humor, lust and something darker.
“I want two orgasms,” she stated, matter of fact, “or I want my money back. And I have to tell you—I am not multi-orgasmic.”
She folded her arms.
“You sure about that?”
I leaned against the doorpost. “Guess I’m going home then.”
Her face fell, and I couldn’t help smiling.
“You are such a tease!” she snorted.
I closed the door behind me. “That’s the idea.”
“You have one hour,” she insisted.
“Are you timing me?” I joked.
“Um, no, it’s all I can afford,” she muttered, fiddling with her purse.
I immediately felt like shit, and she must have seen it because she shrugged apologetically.
“One hour,” I said. “Time me.”
At that point I didn’t really care whether she got her money back or not. I’d already earned half of $1600 for the evening so I had nothing to lose. And she’d issued a challenge.
I shrugged out of my jacket, draping it over the back of a chair. Slowly, I bent down to untie my shoes and pull off my socks. I caught her eye as I glanced up.
“Did you want me to leave my socks on?”
“Um, no!” Then she realized I was teasing her again. “Hallen!”
“Anything else I should know about your preferences? You know, apart from your sock fetish?”
Her laugh turned into a breathy sigh as I walked toward her.
“That’s a pretty dress, Audrey. I think it should come off—it would be a shame to spoil it.”
I started writing contemporary romance two years ago. Before that, I didn’t think I could write a sex scene. Turns out I can!
My lucky number is 13 because I was born on the 13th and live near a haunted castle by the ocean. My number one past-time is watching hot surfers get changed into (and out of) their wetsuits.
My husband doesn’t read my books. My mother does.
Writing is my love, my hobby, my total addiction. All my characters are important to me and whisper their stories, even when I’ve finished writing their books. That’s why you’ll often find bonus chapters/out-takes from various books, because those voices just won’t be quiet.