Room 1005, The Royal suite was Diana’s destination. None of her clients until now could afford such a room at the Rutherford Hotel and, because of that, she wasn’t certain what to expect from her client.
Cool air in the hallway hugged her long limbs in places where the knee-length silver cocktail dress did not cover her flesh.
Just another man, another day, she told herself. Ever since her mother fell ill, during her second year in college, she had to quit her course and pay for the hospital bills out of her own pocket. Her father had abandoned them, leaving her to protect the weak-hearted mother. But, none of that mattered now.
She came to a stop in front of the Royal suite and studied the gold numbers ‘1005’ reflecting the yellow light in the hallway. Her heart ached as it raced inside her chest. This was it – another man, another night to forget.
Diana lifted her balled hand and knocked, once, twice, thrice. She shifted her weight from one heeled foot to the other, listening out for movement on the other side.
The door swung open and her eyes widened. This man was too good-looking and young to ask for her services. His dark hair was neatly trimmed around his scalp. The woody cologne he wore surrounded her like a protective spell. She couldn’t break away from the dark eyes that looked her up and down.
“Come in,” he said in a dulcet voice.
Jolted out of her reverie, she forced a professional smile onto her face and followed him inside the suite.
The tucked in white shirt he wore clung to his taut body as he pointed at the king-sized bed. “You can sit there while I take a shower.”
Diana frowned. She had almost forgotten what she was doing at such a place. This was her job. Men treated her like an object. That circumstance never changed, even though some clients only wanted someone to listen to their problems. Yet, being treated in such a way by this man infuriated her.
She glared at the back of his head. “I’d rather stand. Thanks.”
The man turned his head around, giving her another onceover with his piercing gaze that seemed to see all the way to her dirtied soul. It was best she ruined herself than see her mother being kicked out of the hospital again. Because of that, she stood proud and returned his challenging stare.
“Your kind of woman usually is more complacent than this,” he said with a smirk tugging at his lips.
“Then you must have ordered a defective product,” Diana snapped before she could stop herself.
Her hands flew to her mouth, covering it, but it was too late.
He faced her, took a step forward and she took one back. Diana’s feet wobbled on the high heels she wore to this venture and she cursed them in her mind.
Dark eyes never left hers as he closed the distance between them. She couldn’t look away the moment the intensity in them became overpowering. As if bound in place by vines, her feet froze on the red carpet.
He towered over her and the scent of his cologne made her sway on her feet.
Without touching, he stopped mere inches away.
Her lungs ached and she realised that she was holding her breath. Diana let it out, feeling her heart thumping in her chest as if it was trying to escape its captivity and abandon her to deal with this man alone.
“I-I didn’t mean anything by that,” she mumbled.
His expression remained a perfect blank, giving away nothing she could grasp at. “So, you are all bark and no bite?”
“I’m not a dog,” she whispered.
He chuckled. “A rabbit then.”
Confused, Diana glanced at his amused face. “What?”
“You look like a rabbit with her ears cast downward and fluffy tail tucked in. Are you that frightened of me?”
“I’m not frightened!” she protested, and it was the truth. It wasn’t fear coursing through her body. It was something else. Something she had never felt before.
His smile faded as he spoke, “How many men have you done this with? Aren’t your parents worried about how their daughter spends her nights?”
Diana’s lips pressed into a thin line. She’d started working two months ago and clients were not easy to find. This client would be her fourth and, hopefully, he would pay her enough so she could avoid this job for the next week or two.
“Plenty and my family is none of your business,” she retorted.
Surprising her, he drew her into an embrace. The heat from his body pushed away the clinging chill from the hallway and she stifled a pleasurable sigh.
“You must learn to lie better, little rabbit,” he whispered into her ear, sending a shiver down her spine.
Diana flushed a deep shade of red and lowered her face.
His large hands made their descent, down her spine and all the way to her hips, spreading heat through her body. Soon, they broke their united movements and he sank his fingers into her platinum curls before he tilted her head to claim her mouth with his.
A faint taste of tobacco entered her mouth as he parted her lips. He plunged his tongue inside, seeking, caressing, and joining them together while sending a rush of heat through her. Diana’s mind whirled. She had never once, in all her twenty-two years on this Earth, experienced such an intense kiss.
Without realising it, her hands climbed his chest and glided over his shoulders. She drew him in closer, sinking her own fingers in the silky strands of his jet-black hair.
Breathless, she broke the kiss, sucking in air to soothe the burning in her aching lungs.
“I don’t … kiss … clients,” she said between breaths as she tried to get a grasp on reality.
Her client’s breathing was almost as laboured as hers. His heavy chest rose and fell, mesmerising her for a brief moment.
A chuckle escaped him and the vibration coursed through her, tickling her insides. “Then I am special. Good.”
She willed herself to not search for any hidden meaning behind his words. They had to be empty, just like the words of her previous clients. Men – they were all the same in the end. Promises to take care of her, promises to pay her extra had gone unfulfilled. She did not blame them though. In the public’s eye, she was a whore – a woman who sold her body for money. People did not care for her reasons and only judged, which was why she hid her job from everyone else, pushing it to the back of her mind time and time again.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked and ran his thumb along her sharp jawline.
Diana’s eyes stung with unshed tears and her heart squeezed. Her soul belonged in the darkness, never to see the light of day. And this false concern from her client did not alleviate the sorrow in her heart or the strain on her mind.
She pushed away from him and straightened out her cocktail dress, casting her eyes downward to prevent him from seeing her blinking away the tears.
“I am sorry, but it would be best if I leave. Please do not contact me again,” she said and turned on her heels.
He grasped her wrist – a bruising hold – tugging her to a stop. “Why are you leaving? Isn’t it your job to stay until you’re paid?”
Diana winced at his biting remark as she searched for words.
“You’re not leaving tonight,” he whispered next to her ear. “Not until I am finished.”
She shivered and hugged her sides. The warmth radiating off his body threatened to break the professional barrier she so desperately wanted to keep intact. Who was this man? Why was he doing this to her?
“Why?” she managed to say.
He released her wrist and slid his arm around her waist, drawing her back into him. “I have a good eye when it comes to people, little rabbit, and you do not seem to be made for this kind of work no matter how much you pretend.”
“You’re wrong,” she said.
He kissed the top of her head then spun her around to lock her in another mind-shattering kiss.
Relentless, ruthless, warm, and passionate was how she would describe the night with the man she was certain to never meet again. He stripped away her barriers as he peeled away layers of her clothes and took hold of her heart in the few hours they spent together in the king sized bed. Only, she knew better. It was a mere dream – a fantasy in her mind.
She rolled over on the Egyptian cotton sheets and squinted at the bright light coming from the French doors leading to the balcony. It was no surprise that the man was no longer in the room with her.
Diana jerked into a sitting position. “The money!”
Her eyes scanned every surface for the bills, but all she found was a piece of paper on the bedside table. She bit her lip and picked it up, reading the beautiful cursive writing on the lined paper:
Dear little rabbit,
I wish to thank you for spending the night with me. I greatly enjoyed it and hope you did too. I am a man of principle and do not like to share, so I wish that you would quit your profession as an escort and work for me instead.
Please forgive me as I forgot to mention that I have known your mother since I was a child. She was a great nanny and, upon hearing the news of her condition, I simply wanted to offer to pay her hospital fees. After work, I was tired and needed a shower but the way you looked made me want to tease you a little.
I have ordered the maid to leave your uniform in the closet. Your shift at the hotel starts at 12p.m. sharp. Meet the manager at the reception and I will see you tonight, after your shift, at the main restaurant to hear about your day.
If you choose to not accept my offer then you may collect your payment for last night, along with a bonus, at the reception at any time.
Diana’s mouth went dry. She’d spent the night with Everett Rutherford – an owner of the Rutherford hotel chain which spanned all of the United States. Unable to believe what she had read, she re-read the piece of paper multiple times.
Whether this was a joke or not, she didn’t know. Although, one thing was for certain, the thought of his embrace made her stomach tighten with excitement.