Home > Boyfriend for Hire (Escorts, Inc. #1)(5)

Boyfriend for Hire (Escorts, Inc. #1)(5)
Kennedy Ryan

A small smile lifts the corner of Elle’s mouth and she crosses a leg toward me, leaning into the closeness I’ve invited between us.

“I guess you could say I’m a psychic or something,” she murmurs, her eyes bright and playful.

She’s cute. Way damn cuter than I expected. And sexy. Part of me wonders why Christine even felt the need to hire me. Elle’s luck with men can’t possibly be that bad, not when she’s getting into my head so easily.

Unfortunately, I don’t have to wait long to remember why she’s currently single.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a dark figure moving toward us. Before I can respond to Elle’s outlandish and adorable-as-hell claim, a cold, condescending voice interrupts us.

“Are you sure you want to be eating that cake, Elle?”

I look up to find her asshole ex looming over us, raising his eyebrows at the half-eaten slice on her plate. The blood drains from Elle’s face and she sets her fork down, self-consciously wiping the corner of her mouth with her napkin.

“Well, it is a damn good cake. It’s a celebration, isn’t it?” I ask, my voice light but my eyes steely.

I don’t want to make a scene, but I’ll be damned if this asshat thinks he’s about to ruin this date. I’m a professional, for fuck’s sake. Women pay me to make sure they have a good time, and I’ll be damned if this fuckwad is going to rain on Elle’s parade.

And this isn’t just about Elle. What kind of man would I be if I stood by and allowed this to happen? One prick in an ill-fitting suit isn’t about to ruin my track record either. He’s several inches shorter than me, and his hair is thinning on top. On those merits alone, he’s no prize catch.

“Between you and me, pal, she’s been trying to lose weight for the better part of three years. And judging by the fit of that dress,” he pauses to give Elle a once-over, “it’s not going well.” He claps a firm hand on my shoulder and turns to stroll away.

Before he can leave, I stand, gripping his arm and holding him in place. “Where the fuck do you get off, man?”

His gaze passes over Elle before returning to me. “Not on that anymore.” He smirks as he glances back in Elle’s direction, shaking himself free from my grasp.

“I don’t know how the fuck you were raised, but this isn’t how you treat a woman.”

He doesn’t respond, and his expression stays neutral as he walks away to join his scrawny new girlfriend across the room.

My fists clench at my sides as I draw on every ounce of restraint I possess not to march over there and show that prick what a piece of shit he is. But I don’t want to make a scene at Christine’s party. It would only make Elle uncomfortable. Instead, I take a deep breath and force myself to relax.

I straighten my tie and glance at Elle to make sure she’s okay. “You all right?”

“I will be.” She draws a deep breath, letting it out slowly through her nostrils. I can tell she’s on the verge of tears and doing everything she can to hold it in.

“He’s wrong, you know.”

Her gaze snaps to mine. “About what?”

Placing one hand against the small of her back, I lean in closer and drop my voice lower, just barely above a whisper. “Your curves are sexy as hell.”

The pulse in her throat strums steadily, but she presses her lips together and gives her head a small shake. “Don’t do that. Don’t try to make me feel better by telling me what you think I want to hear.”

My thumb slides along her spine, rubbing the bare skin exposed by her scooped neckline. I feel her skin pebble in goose bumps.

“I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true. I promise, when I laid eyes on you, I had a hard time keeping my thoughts clean. Trust me, what was running through my mind was anything but gentlemanly. You’re sexy as fuck, Elle.”

Her breathing stutters and her gaze swings to mine, wide and curious. “Um, thank you? You are too . . . um, sexy, I mean. Not curvy. I don’t think men are supposed to be curvy, though. More like muscular and fit—which you are.”

She’s rambling. The apples of her cheeks have turned that pretty shade of pink again, and I smile at her for what feels like the hundredth time, despite having only met her hours ago. Elle just told me she thinks I’m sexy.

With a grin, I lead her over to the bar, refusing to move my hand from her back. I’m guessing, based on her reaction, she hasn’t said this to many men in her life. Which is fine by me. I like being one of the special few.

“Can I get you something else to drink?” I smile at her as I tip my head close to hers. She’s ditched her cake, and I have a feeling she’s lost her appetite.

“God, alcohol sounds great right now. Yes.”

“Something stronger than champagne?” I ask once we reach the bar.

Elle bites her lower lip, squinting as she thinks it over. “I’d better not. I’m not usually much of a drinker. I don’t want to be hungover tomorrow.”

“Probably a good plan, especially since it’ll be a long day with the wedding and reception and all.”

Elle’s a good girl. I like that about her. It’s refreshing. She’s probably never stepped out of her comfort zone, or hell, even disobeyed a traffic signal in her entire life. And even though her ex is here treating her like shit, she’s composed enough not to get shit-faced. It’s classy, and I like that about her.

I signal the bartender and ask for another glass of champagne for her, and a tonic water with lime for me.

“What about you?” She tilts her head to the glass of tonic water the bartender sets in front of me. “Not a big drinker either?”

“Something like that.” I don’t tell her that I have a self-imposed one-drink maximum when I’m working. But being with Elle doesn’t feel like working. Not even a little bit. And some small part of me knows that’s dangerous.

Being here with Elle, mingling with the wedding guests, laughing, sharing a cocktail—it all feels completely natural. I don’t have to fake having a good time when I’m with her. It’s so rare for me to completely forget that I’m working. In fact, I don’t think it’s ever happened before.

It probably makes me sound like a pussy, but there’s something satisfying about a woman enjoying me, my company—without me having to pretend to be something I’m not. It makes me feel appreciated and charming. And the way she’s looking at me now, like I’m her knight in fucking shining armor after I saved her from her ex? Subconsciously, I like that a hell of a lot.

Part of me wishes we’d met under normal circumstances. Like at a bar, or a coffee shop, or a bookstore.

I imagine us bumping into each other and striking up a conversation. Within minutes, Elle would be laughing, her cheeks flushing pink. We’d exchange numbers, and I’d ask her out to dinner. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a real date, one that doesn’t involve a pre-set payment amount.

But of course, that’s just a fantasy, because as soon as she found out what I did for a living, Elle’s pretty little face would fall, and that would be the end of that. No one wants a boyfriend who sleeps with other women for a living.

Stupid, Nic.

It’s dangerous to even fantasize about things like that. Elle won’t ever be my girlfriend. I’m here to do a job, save her from her dipshit ex, collect my paycheck, and go the fuck home. Alone. End of story.

She enjoys her glass of bubbly, and when she’s through, we mingle with a few of her relatives. Her ex takes off after a while, and she visibly relaxes once he’s gone.

By the end of the night, Elle and I are leaning on the railing of the restaurant balcony overlooking a small man-made lake. It’s a little corny—obviously a ploy to make the place seem more romantic—but between the moonlight and the slight breeze moving through her hair, even I have to admit that it’s working.

“I had a great time tonight, Nic,” Elle says, running her fingers over the black wrought iron. “When Christine told me she had a friend from college she wanted me to meet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I definitely wasn’t expecting someone like you.”

That makes two of us.

I smile and place my hand gently over hers. “I feel the same way.”

Elle slowly brings her eyes to mine, the look in them a familiar one. Engaged and serious, but soft and inviting. She’s giving me the look. The one that means she wants to kiss me.

A soft gust of wind blows her hair into her face, and I instinctively brush it away, tucking her coppery tresses behind her ear. Just as I’m about to lean in, my lips parted in anticipation, I stop myself.

What the fuck am I doing?

Sighing inside, I pull away and mutter something about the moon being beautiful tonight. The look on Elle’s face is one of confusion mixed with disappointment, but she forces a small smile and nods.

It’s a rule. My number-one rule, actually. I don’t kiss on the mouth. Not on dates with clients.

This job won’t last forever, and at some point, I’ll have a serious girlfriend—hell, maybe even a wife. I won’t be able to erase what I’ve done to make ends meet in this profession. But I do want to save something for the woman I end up with. Something special that hasn’t been tainted by this job, and if a kiss is all that I can salvage, then so be it.

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