“There’d be nothing to keep secret if you didn’t screw every guy who walked in here.” I yank a pair of sweats on and head to my bed.

Amber laughs bitterly, “You need to get laid. You should have taken up what’s-his-face up on the three way.”

“You disgust me,” I say, staring at the ceiling and wishing she’d fall out the window.

“Are you saving yourself, Avery? You think the right guy will just waltz into your life and you’ll be in love? Get real. Life doesn’t work that way. Sex is dirty. It has nothing to do with love.”

“I feel sorry for you,” I mutter, not thinking about what I’ve said.

“Screw you, bitch. You act like you’re better than me, but you’re not. You’re a goddamn whore, you just don’t know it yet.” She sucks on her cigarette and holds it in. “Or maybe you do and that’s why you’re such a bitch.” She releases a cloud of white smoke out the window.

When people find out that Amber’s my roommate, they feel sorry for me. Her reputation precedes her. She’s a total whore and everyone knows. The thing is, while she’s absolutely vile, her words are true. I turn my back on her and feel the center of my chest cramp. After tomorrow, I’ll be a whore—a real one.

Pressing my lips together, I say, “You’re right.”

Amber laughs, like she doesn’t believe me. She waits for me to say something else, to bash her again, but I don’t. I can’t. I’m a hypocrite. I don’t like that she’s slutty, because it affects me. No, that’s not true. I don’t like her because she’s vile, because she’s always got some guy’s dick in her mouth. At least that’s what I’ve told myself all this time.

I don’t want to think about it anymore. I close my eyes, willing sleep to come, but it doesn’t. I lay there long after Amber passes out. My heart races so hard that I can’t stand it. I curl into a ball and feel the tears streak my face. I wish things weren’t the way they are. I fall asleep, wishing my life to be different, hoping for a miracle.


Miss Black calls me and lets me know that I have a date this evening. I wear my new dress. This time I change in my room. Amber isn’t around. She’s avoiding me, which is kind of nice. I zip my new dress and put my heels in my shoulder bag, since I have to drive my car to Black’s.

When I arrive, Miss Black looks me over, approves my dress and then does all the measurements. Lastly, she comments on my lingerie. I’m wearing a white cotton set that’s trimmed with embroidery and lace. The bra is no more than a shelf. It barely conceals my n**ples. If I lean forward, I’ll fall out of the bra and the dress.

Miss Black says, “The bikini panty is fine for the virgin gig, but when this is over, I want you in a thong or g-string. No exceptions.” I feel like a bad employee. I nod and don’t say anything. She seems to think that I’ll be staying here for a while, even though I told her that I’m not.

“Since the other night didn’t go well, I’m changing protocol with you. Here’s a phone. I will call you if your bracelet goes off premises. Mr. Ferro gets no more chances, understood?” I nod and she shoos me. “Get dressed and go to the car, and remember—confidence. Even if you have no idea what he wants or what you’re doing, act like you do.”

I walk to the car that’s waiting for me at the curb and climb into the backseat. I’ve had more time to think about this, so I’m not as nervous. Last time I was near puking. This time I just have a serious case of butterflies. The car pulls up in front of the same hotel. I’m given the same room number, which surprises me. I wonder if this is his room, if this is where he’s staying while he’s in New York.

Shoulders back, I walk across the lobby to the elevator. I press the button to the penthouse. When the doors open I walk to the end of the hall and knock. Sean pulls the door open. He’s wearing a white button down shirt that’s open at the neck with a tie that’s been undone. The shirt is tucked in at the waist to a pair of tailored slacks. He’s barefoot. The stubble on his cheeks makes him sexier than he already is. His eyes slip over me and it feels like a caress.

“I told them nak*d with a bow, Miss Smith. Do I need to call your employer?” Sean sounds serious, but the smile on his face makes my nerves fade.

I walk past him and into the room. “They said I wasn’t allowed to walk nak*d through the lobby.”

“And you do everything you’re told?”

“Only sometimes. Maybe.” I smile. “I’ll try it next time, if you like.”

He laughs to himself and shuts the door. Sean walks across the room and closes a laptop that’s open on the table. He’s been working. There are dark circles under his eyes like he’s under a tremendous amount of stress. I didn’t notice them last night. I walk further into the room and look around. It’s the same as the other night. He must be living here.

Sean crosses the room and grabs a bottle from the bar. “A drink, Miss Smith?”

“No, thank you, Mr. Jones. I’m a professional. We don’t drink.”

“You’re not allowed to drink, are you?” he asks.

“I can. It’s not forbidden.” He walks toward me with a predatory look in his eye. It makes my stomach twist.

“Then, why not?”

“I don’t my first time to be when I was too drunk to remember. Call me romantic, but it sounds more appealing to me that way.” I’m nervous. My fingers tug at the fingers on my other hand. I try to stop, but then I just do something else.

Sean’s eyes remain fixed on my cl**vage. “You’re very appealing, so is your notion of remembering.” His eyes lift to my face. “Are you expecting to be interrupted this evening?” I shake my head. “Good. Let’s begin where we left off last time. Strip. Throw that beautiful dress on the floor and lay on my bed.”

My heart is pounding. I didn’t think he’d do this. Sean’s acting cold, distant. It’s like I don’t know him. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he says evenly. “Do it.” Sean sits down in the chair and watches me.

My heart is pounding so fast that I can’t hide how nervous I am. Maybe I should have taken that drink. I reach for the zipper and slide it down. I shimmy my shoulders out of the dress and it falls to the floor, puddling around my ankles. Sean’s hot gaze drinks in my body. When I turn away to walk over to the bed, he stops me.

“Wait.” I stop. “Come here.” I walk toward him with my heels still on. The bra barely contains me. I stop in front of him.

Sean reaches for me slowly. He places his hands around my back and pulls me closer, and then palms my br**sts through the bra. The shock of how he behaves makes me want to cry. He’s acting like I’m an object. I don’t like this, but I can’t stop. Sean doesn’t get another chance. And if I say no, this is over.

Sean squeezes my br**sts, but it scares me. It doesn’t feel like I’m here with him. I have a darker version of the man I lo—

Oh my God. That’s when I realize it. I love him. I’m here thinking that this job is going to be something else, but it’s not. Sean doesn’t have any romantic inclinations toward me. I want to yell at him. I want to slap him in the face and ask how he could behave this way, but I can’t.

Sean’s eyes cut to mine and for a brief second, I see remorse. It’s there and gone faster than I can blink. Sean is cold, detached. He points to the bed. “Go lay down, the way you were the other day.” I want him, but I want the guy from the restaurant, the guy from the snowball fight, the one who stopped to help me get my car back. For some reason he’s shut down and I don’t know how to draw him out. Half way to the bed, I stop and look back at him.

“Do what I tell you,” he says.

Heart pounding, I go to the bed and lay in the spot I was in the other day. He watches me, but doesn’t move from the chair. “Spread your legs.” I do as he says, parting them. My heart thumps wildly in my chest. I don’t know if I can do this. I want Sean. I want to crack that shell. “Now slip your hand down your panties and rub, slowly.”

I glance at him, feeling shame spreading across my face. “Sean, please…”

“When you’ve done that, I’ll come over.” He doesn’t move. The stern expression on his face doesn’t change.

I can leave or stay. I can protest. Or I can do what he wants. Feeling foolish, I do as he asks. I slip my hand between my legs and rub. At first the only thing I feel is complete foolishness, but my body comes to life. I’m too emotionally charged for nothing to happen. Sean watches me from across the room. Slowly, I relax and just think about the sensations shooting through me. When I stop looking for him, Sean’s next to me. I feel his weight on the bed.

Sean breathes in my ear. “May I?” he asks, slipping his hand on top of mine, lowering it to the sensitive flesh between my legs. I nod and go to pull my hand away, but he holds it there. “You stay,” he says as he dips his hand lower and strokes my slick skin. I gasp, surprised at the intensity of the touch. My h*ps rise up to meet his hand.

My heart is beating so fast, so hard. I feel warm and afraid. I want to relax. I want to be with him, but I’m not his lover. I’m his hooker. Before I realize it, tears are streaking down my cheeks. Sean’s hand gently strokes me, but I don’t look at him. I can’t.

Sean’s fingers slip inside of me and I jump. He’s been kissing my neck and finally pulls back to look at me. “Avery,” he says, his voice filled with concern. Sean takes his hand out of my panties and pulls me to his chest. Cradling me in his arms, he asks, “Why are you crying?”

Shaking my head, I say, “I’m fine. Something got in my eye.” Sean nods and takes my wrist, pulling my off the bed. “Where are we going?”

“I want to take a bath with you. Can we do that?” his eyes meet mine, and although I don’t understand, I do as he asks.

Nodding, I say, “Yes, that would be nice.” I press my lips together and manage to stop the tears.

Sean fills the huge tub in the bathroom and invites me in. The room is blush colored marble, with white accents. It’s beautiful. Sean takes my hand and pulls me to him. Wiping the moisture from my cheeks with his hands, he pulls me to him and holds on tight. He whispers in my ear, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” he sighs and pulls back, looking at me. Smiling sadly before glancing at the tub, Sean waves his hand, like I should step in clothed. I nod and step into the warm water. When I sit back, he takes my hand.

Sean smiles at me, but I still feel sick. I must look green because he says, “We don’t have to do this.”

“Yes, we do. I have to get over it and just do it. Nothing in my life turned out the way I thought it would. Why would this be any different?” I sound bitter. I can’t hide it.

Sean sits on the edge of the tub and looks down at me. My white panty set is see through. When his gaze flicks back to my face, he says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to look before you’re ready, but you’re beautiful. I couldn’t help myself.”