Date Published: Sep 2012
A man stood by the Christmas tree in the foyer. Not a man really, more like a vision. The clear lights that twinkled around his dark head made him look like something straight out of a dream. Man, Elite Escorts had outdone themselves this time. This was no gangly college boy in an ill-fitting rental tux, but a mature man in a tuxedo that looked made-to-order for his tall, muscular frame.
Like James Bond right before he bopped a shapely beauty, his bow tie was undone and lay flat against the front pleats of the crisp white shirt that was unbuttoned at his tanned throat. He stood looking at Cassie with a slight smile on his firm lips and one brown brow arched over an eye that was the exact color of her Aunt Wheezie’s favorite Scotch.
Cassie forgot to breathe.
“Hi.” The smile deepened, along with two dimples. “I didn’t mean to spook you.” When Cassie still didn’t say anything, the smile dropped and both brows lifted. “Are you okay?”
He walked toward her, and she was reminded of the black panther at the Denver Zoo, his movements sleek and predatory. She swallowed and tried to get her mind off his hot body and back in her head. It was difficult, especially when this wonderful eye candy stood so close and when she and Amy had just been discussing how long it had been since she’d had sex. But hot or not, she needed to remember that this man was one of her employees. She dealt with men all day long. Alpha men. She could handle some pretty boy who worked for an escort service.
She plastered on a smile. “Yes, I’m fine. It’s just that you’re early.”
The quizzical look remained, and he tugged up the sleeve of his jacket and glanced at a watch that looked an awful lot like her father’s Rolex. “No, I’m right on time.”
She waved him off. “It doesn’t matter. You’re here.” She grabbed the car keys from the desk and brushed past him. He smelled really good, like hot spiced cider and primitive lust. Or was the primitive lust her?
“My truck’s down in the parking garage.” She kept talking as she headed toward the elevator. “We’ll take it. The party’s at a house about thirty minutes away, so it’s probably good you got here early.” She pressed the button of the elevator, then turned to steal another peek.
He wasn’t there. He still stood at the receptionist’s desk, although his head had turned to follow her. Okay, so he looked great, but he was a little slow on the uptake. No wonder he worked for an escort service at his age. The elevator doors opened, and she pointed at them.
“Are you coming?”
He tipped his head to one side. “Who are you?”
Oh, so that was it. She just hadn’t introduced herself. She laughed and held the door of the elevator. “I’m Cassie McPherson, your employer for the evening.”
He didn’t move. “My employer?”
Back to the mental deficiency theory. She tried talking slowly and clearly. “Yes, I called Elite Escorts and hired you for the evening to take me to my office Christmas party. I paid in advance, so I expect a little service here. Like maybe you getting a move on.”
His whiskey eyes twinkled, but he still didn’t move. “You’re Cassie McPherson, the daughter of Al McPherson, and you called for a male escort?”
“Right. So are you coming or do I need to get a refund?”
“Your father’s not here, I take it?”
“Not that it makes a difference, but no. He’s at home.”
He might be a simpleton, but, man, the flash of those white, even teeth and dimples were flat-out sexy. “Then I guess I’m all yours for the evening.” He walked over and reached above her head to hold the elevator door. “Here”—he held up a foil-covered condom—“you forgot one.”
Cassie jerked the condom out of his hand and then nearly fell flat on her face as she stumbled over her feet on the way into the elevator. He reached out and steadied her.
The door closed, and he pushed one of the buttons while she rubbed the warm imprint he had left on her arm. Her heart thumped wildly against the tight band of her push-up bra. And suddenly she worried if all her high-cholesterol lunches and lack of exercise were catching up to her and besides inheriting her father’s bad disposition, she had also inherited his clogged arteries. She couldn’t bring herself to believe that it had anything to do with the man who so casually leaned back against the rail that ran along the wall of the elevator. Cassie McPherson didn’t go all weak-kneed over men. Even re-e-e-e-ally good-looking ones who belonged in magazine ads for expensive men’s cologne.
She turned away from the hot picture he presented and took two deep breaths, willing her heart to resume its normal cadence. It was hard to do with those eyes pinned on her with such intensity. Hard, but not impossible. She wasn’t called Cast-iron Cassie for nothing. She never let emotions get in the way of business. And this was business.
Clearing her throat, she explained the terms of his employment. “So here’s what I expect.” She opened her clutch and dropped in her car keys and the condom. “Keep a low profile. Be attentive, but not clingy. And try not to talk. If you’re asked a question about our relationship, simply say that we’ve just met.”
His eyes narrowed, and one side of his mouth tipped up at the corner. Definitely not a smile, more of a smirk. “How about if I just say that I’m not the kind of man who kisses and tells.”