Henry closes his eyes for a moment. When I lick my tongue across the seam of his lips, he looks up at me. He takes me in his arms and kisses me harder this time. I fall onto his chest, which makes the silver clips bite into me. It sends a jolt between my legs and I moan into his mouth. Henry kisses me until he’s breathless. Then, he flips me over and trails kisses down my neck and to my chest. He stops and traces his finger over the top of my breast. It’s sweet, almost hesitant.

“You can touch me, Henry.” I sit up and unzip my dress. I push the top down so he can see the bra.

“Oh, God.” Henry sucks in air like there isn’t enough. He stares at my breasts, salivating. I know he wants to touch, but he doesn’t. He just looks at me and freezes. His eyes rise to my face. “How far would you go on a second date?”

I don’t understand his question. I smile at him. “It depends on the guy. With you, second base is a given, and if you keep looking at me like that I might not be able to control myself.”

The words feel like acid in my mouth. I hate lying. I imagine what I’d say to Sean if he asked me that. I shouldn’t feel any remorse. Sean is fucking some other call girl right now, but I don’t enjoy this. I put on the best sexy smile I can manage and crawl toward him on my hands and knees with my dress pushed down around my waist. “Kiss me, Henry. Don’t make me beg for it.”

Henry takes me in his arms and kisses me forever. I lose track of time, but it feels like he’s avoiding doing anything more. When I reach for his belt, Henry shifts so he’s on top of me. He finally dips his head to my breast. His lips are gentle.

I close my eyes and imagine I’m somewhere else. I want this to be over. My heart pounds harder and I realize that I’m afraid. Henry’s lips press against me over and over, but they feel like razor wire. There’s no connection, no desire. I know I need to force it. I thought lust would override my brain at some point, but it isn’t happening.

Henry’s hands move up and down my body and he pulls me up onto his lap. He dips his head and sucks my taut nipples between his lips. I finally respond. His touch, and the ring clamped around me, makes it so I’d have to be numb not to. My hips buck into his and I tilt my head back. I grab hold of that feeling, knowing I need to hold onto it to do this. I keep picturing Sean and begin to feel more into it. My hands tangle in his hair and I say things, but I don’t hear the words. Henry stays there like that, kissing my breasts, neck, and lips until he suddenly stops. Henry pushes away and shakes his head.

I’m flushed and breathing hard. I don’t understand why he got up. “What’s wrong?”

He rubs his hands over his head and down his neck. “Nothing. Nothing at all. You’re perfect.”

“Then, why’d you get up?”

He smiles at me, still trying to catch his breath. “You said second base. I have to stop or I won’t be able to.”

I grin at him and get up. His eyes fixate on my bra. The crystals are still dangling from my nipples. He finally tears his gaze away and looks up at my face. “You don’t have to stop, Henry. It’s okay, really.” I slip my arms around his neck and lock my eyes with his.

He shakes his head. “It’s my fantasy, Allison. I want it to play out longer.”

I don’t know what to do. Is he returning me? I freak out a little bit, but try not to show it. “So what do you want to do now? It’s still early.”

Henry steps back and pushes me away. “Please, put your dress on. I’ll arrange another date with you. We can hit third base next time.”

I smile at him, and reach forward, gently touching his arm. “Henry, I’m yours now.” He looks over at me with lust in his eyes, but he’s torn. I can see it all over his face. He wants me in a way that he can’t have me. “Have you hired a call girl before?”

“Not for this.” He watches me for a moment, and then lowers his lashes.

I wrap my arms around him and hold on tight. I hug him because he’s the sweetest man alive. I kiss his cheek and then step back and pull up my straps and zip my dress. “I can imagine why. You seriously bought me so you could date me?”

He nods. “It’s the only way, right?” I nod. His eyes drift over my dress.

An idea crosses my mind. I wonder if I should press him, but I do it anyway. I unzip my dress again and start to pull it down. “I want to show you something.”

He waves his hands at me. “That’s unnecessary.” He actually looks away like he shouldn’t be watching me, but he can’t help it. Henry keeps peeking at me out of the corner of his eye.

“Oh, it’s totally necessary. I want to show you what you missed.” I drop the dress to the floor and stand there in my little nothing bottoms and walk slowly toward him. “Do you still want to wait until next time?”

Henry swallows hard. His eyes sweep over me. “You’re not playing fair.”

I smile at him and back up. I want to make sure he asks for me again. This dating thing could help secure my job. I give him a sexy smile. “No, I’m not. Pick up your phone and take my picture. I want you to look at it later when I’m gone.”

Henry grabs his phone off the counter and takes a few quick pictures of me. I lay on the bed and he snaps more. When he’s done, I take it and delete all but one shot. Henry looks down at his one picture. “That was evil.”

“Allison does evil things.” I grin at him and slip my dress back on.

“Yes, you do.” After I’m dressed, he comes over and pulls me against him again. Henry presses his lips to mine and kisses me again. When he’s breathless, he pulls away. “You better go.”

He walks me to the door. I lean in and brush my lips lightly to his. “Good night, Henry. I can’t wait to see you again.” I wink at him and turn away. I make sure to sway my hips as I walk away. I can feel his eyes on me. I hope I made the right decision. I didn’t want to push him. It felt like he’d regret it. Henry wants this to feel real, so I’ll make it real.

When I walk outside, I see Gabe smoking at the edge of the sidewalk. I shift around people, cut through the crowds on the sidewalk, and make my way over to him.

Gabe shakes his head. “Did you get thrown out?”

“Nope. I think I did good. I wanted to tell you that I’m done for the night. I’m going to hang out in the city for a while. I’ll check in tomorrow. Have a good night.” I’m smiling too much. I can’t wait to see Sean.

Before I turn to walk away, Gabe nods. His voice follows after me. “You want me to drop you off?”

I turn back. “No, that’s okay.”

Gabe stands and takes a long pull on the cigarette before putting it out. As he walks over to me, he lets out the smoke. “I know where you’re going. Let me drive you so you don’t get mugged on the way there. You can’t go in the subway looking like that.” Gabe shakes his head, like I have no brains.

I’m not dumb enough to deny anything. “Will you tell her?”

“Only if I’m asked, Miss Stanz, and since I already know you’re screwing Mr. Ferro, I think it’s safer if I drive you to his hotel.”

“I’m not screwing him!”

He gives me a look. “Call it what you want, but it’ll get you fired. Wait here. I’ll get the limo.”

Gabe returns to the curb with the car moments later, and then drives me a few blocks to Sean’s hotel. I’m early and really excited. I thought I’d be creeped out and covered in sweat. Instead, I feel pretty good.

Before we pull up, Gabe says, “Something’s wrong with him, you know. More so than with other guys. Ferro did something.”

I lean forward. “What are you talking about?”

Gabe is in line to get to the drop-off. He pulls the car up. We’re next. “It was in the papers a few years back. Plus the guy is off. Don’t trust him. I know you do, I can see it on your face, but you’re not an old guy like me. I see what he is. I wish you’d stop this. The guy you were just with is safer than Ferro.”

“What are you talking about? What did Sean do?” I finish my question just as we pull up. The hotel worker opens the door. I hesitate. I want to hear what Gabe has to say, but he’s silent.

I step out of the car and watch him pull away. The floor of my stomach twists and the skin on my neck prickles. I look up at the building. The windows are lit all the way up to the penthouse. I go inside and try to shake off the bad vibe that’s crawling over my skin.

The elevator carries me up and I’m on Sean’s floor. Smiling, I walk towards his room just as the door opens. I stop in my tracks when I see who steps out. I hear her voice, and see her, but I can’t believe it. Part of my brain keeps telling me that she wouldn’t do that to me, but there she is. A million emotions collide until I can’t think.

Mel. It’s Mel. She said she was working tonight. She’s the only other girl at Black’s that will do the things Sean wants. She mentioned a sick guy a few weeks ago. Now I know who she meant.

Sean stands in the doorway with his shirt unbuttoned, holding the door open. His dark hair is tousled and his cheeks are rosy. Images of him and Mel together flash through my mind. I want to scream. I want to walk over there and shriek at both of them, but I don’t move. I’m frozen.

I wish I could rewind and start over. I wish I never met him. In a matter of seconds, I’ve lost my best friend and Sean. It’s as if he feels my eyes on his face. Sean slowly looks up and freezes. Our eyes lock. His lips part and everything seems to happen in slow motion. Mel turns and has the same horrified expression on her face.

Before either of them says anything, I step towards Mel. “How could you!” My hand flies and I slap her in the face. My palm stings as she closes her eyes and takes the hit. Mel doesn’t move.

I glance at Sean, but I can’t even speak. My fists clench and unclench at my sides. I breathe too hard and feel my throat tighten. Tears sting my eyes as betrayal snakes its way into my heart.