Craig Ryan’s modeling dreams crashed and burned on the streets of LA. Still, a man has to eat, and the escort biz pays well, and the sex isn’t bad. Actually, Craig enjoys his new job and benefits. That is, until a client called Dee hires him. Dee is a mystery. He keeps his face hidden and prohibits touching, even when touching his mouthwatering body becomes Craig’s fantasy. Falling for a customer was never in Craig’s plans. But wrapped inside Dee’s peculiar requirements, there’s a sense of loneliness and pain that strikes deep within Craig, awakening his own need for something more—something with a future beyond one-night stands.
CRAIG fidgeted in the plush leather seat as the Escalade came to a stop outside the high-rise. It was his first meeting with this client, and first meetings always made Craig a little nervous. It wasn’t that he didn’t like new clients, but it was just easier when he knew his client for the night, knew what was wanted and expected. When he had asked Grant Fairchild, his boss, he had only been told that his client wanted someone young and pretty, and Craig was certainly both of those things. He was twenty-two, with longish blond hair that his clients could either pull or run their fingers through, and today he was dressed casually in black slacks and a forest-green button-down that made his eyes stand out.
“We’re here, Mr. Ryan,” the driver, Justin, said as he caught Craig’s eye in the rearview mirror.
Craig nodded in acknowledgement and waited for Justin to get out and open the door for him. “Your client is on the top floor, in the penthouse. I’ll be back to pick you up in two hours, Mr. Ryan,” Justin said, inclining his head before climbing back in the SUV. He watched Craig until he was in the building before pulling away.
Craig nodded to the doorman as he strode confidently through the revolving doors. In the foyer was a bank of elevators and to the left of them a single elevator marked Penthouse. His brows drew together when he saw a keypad. A code was probably needed to call it. Craig was about to curse his client for not providing it to the agency when the elevator doors slid open silently. Craig stepped inside and a few moments later the car began to quickly but gently ascend. Craig looked over his appearance in the mirror shine of the walls. He thought he looked good and hoped his client would think so as well.
The elevator stopped and opened directly into the luxurious penthouse; it was huge with an open floor plan, elegantly furnished, and smelled faintly of sandalwood and leather. The kitchen gleamed with top-of-the-line chrome appliances. There was a nicely sized, but not ostentatious, LCD television to the left of a fireplace surrounded by built-in mahogany bookcases crammed full of books. The floors were gleaming hardwood with beautiful, intricate Persian rugs here and there. On the coffee table was an array of magazines—Time, Newsweek, Men’s Health, GQ, The Advocate, and Details—along with a book of erotic male photography. The entire west wall was made up of floor-to-ceiling windows that provided a spectacular view of the city at sunset, and there standing in front of them, looking out, had to be his client.
He was big, not overweight, but tall, lean, and most likely muscular if the broad shoulders were anything to go by. His hair was to his shoulders, dark, brown probably, and thick. He looked to be impeccably dressed in dark slacks and shirt—silk, Craig guessed. Despite a couple of years in the escort business and being plenty jaded, Craig was intrigued. He wished the man would turn around. He’d love to see if the front was as appealing as the back.
“I’m Craig,” Craig said evenly.
“I’m Dee,” his client said in a deep voice, not turning to face Craig.
Craig took a few uncertain steps closer. “I hope I’m what you wanted.”
“You’re fine,” his client replied shortly.
Craig frowned and his brows knitted together in puzzlement. How could he think Craig was fine when he hadn’t even turned to look at him? The first tendrils of unease began to unfurl inside him. This guy was big, strong, and could easily overpower Craig. Not that Craig was a slouch, but he didn’t have the muscle mass his client seemed to under his expensive clothes, and this guy was at least three inches taller than he was.
There was a low mechanical hum, and the curtains began to close over the windows, shutting out the weak light from the setting sun. A second later the television clicked on.
“Have a seat, Craig,” Dee said, motioning to the overstuffed suede sofa.
Craig swallowed and nodded even though Dee couldn’t see. He sank down into the plush sofa but kept Dee in his line of sight. The curtains closed completely, and the only light came from the glow of the television and the dim recessed lights in the kitchen. Craig didn’t like this, didn’t like not being able to see his client, not being able to judge his reactions.
“Do you have a favorite genre of film?” his client asked, moving away from the windows and over to sit beside Craig. Craig looked over at Dee but couldn’t really make out any facial features because of the dim lighting, and Dee’s hair was obscuring his face. It didn’t exactly make Craig feel better about this situation.
“I… uh, whatever you want to watch is fine with me,” Craig answered finally, thinking that the guy probably wanted to watch a little porn to get in the mood. Craig hoped it wasn’t anything too kinky or disgusting, or worse, a damn snuff film.
Craig watched as a menu came up on the screen and Dee flicked through titles, none of which were porn. This guy just kept getting more and more confusing. Maybe this guy was famous, and the room was dark to protect his identity. Not that it mattered if he was famous or not; there was a confidentiality clause in Craig’s contract with First Class Escorts. Maybe he was a closet case. Maybe this was his first time with a guy. Maybe he thought he had to romance Craig. Craig decided to show the guy that that wasn’t necessary. He turned, placed a hand on Dee’s crotch, feeling the outline of a soft but nonetheless impressive cock, and began to rub and squeeze.
“So, what are you into?” Craig purred.
It happened so suddenly that Craig didn’t register it, but Dee was up and off the sofa like a shot, moving into the shadows of the room.
“What? What’s wrong?” Craig asked. This had to be the guy’s first time. Why else would he be so skittish about being touched?
“What’s wrong is I don’t want that, Craig,” Dee said, sounding annoyed. “I get that being an escort is a clever way to skirt around the prostitution laws, but I don’t want to have sex with you. I want someone to spend some time with, a companion for the evening. Someone to talk to.”
“Oh,” Craig said softly. He had a few clients he didn’t have sex with, mostly the rich older ladies who loved to coo over him and show him off at benefits and fundraisers. Dee sounded young, and from what little of him Craig could see, he appeared healthy, and his dick worked because Craig had felt it twitch when he touched it. This guy was definitely a mystery.
“Either you can provide me that or you leave,” Dee added.
“I can do that, and I’m sorry for being so presumptuous.”
“It’s all right. Just don’t do it again,” he said and sat back down as far away from Craig as the large couch would allow.
There was a tense silence as Dee began to flick through the movie titles once more before seeming to settle on one. “Can I offer you a drink?” he asked, getting to his feet.
Craig didn’t drink alcohol on the job, but a little refreshment would be nice. “Um, ginger ale?” Craig inquired, eyes following Dee as he walked into the kitchen. It was a little lighter in there; maybe he could get a glimpse of him.
“If I have it,” Dee responded easily.
Craig turned on the sofa to watch as Dee opened the large fridge and ducked his head in. Damn.
“I have juice—orange, apple, and cranberry—Pepsi, Coke, and diet for both,” Dee said, head still firmly in the fridge. “Beer—Corona and Miller. Sorry, no ginger ale. I do have Sprite though.”
“That’s good,” Craig said, keeping his eyes on Dee.
There was an instant when Dee was lit up by the refrigerator light, but all Craig saw was a mass of thick, soft-looking brown hair and a sharp upturned nose before the fridge door was closed and Dee’s back was to Craig once more. Craig huffed, turned away from Dee, and looked moodily at the television. This was maddening!
A few moments later, Dee was back with an icy-cold glass of Sprite for Craig and a tumbler of something for himself.
“This okay?” Dee asked, motioning to the television.
Craig looked and saw that The Maltese Falcon was queued up. Craig really didn’t care what they watched. What he wanted was to see his client.
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