Prologue: Know the Drill
“Roberta,” Olivier fastened a cufflink as he stood next to the bed where she was laying watching him with a guarded expression. “I’ll be out of town a few days. Stay here please. If you need to go out, take a guard with you.”
“Yes sir,” she made rounded eyes at him and flopped back on her back pulling a pillow over her chest as she did so. Her plush full lips made a pout at his directorial tone. He was the only person who ever called her Roberta. He had read it off her nametag. He couldn’t let it go.
He yanked the pillow off, “don’t hide from me what’s mine.” His voice was cold and callous, a tone which contradicted the heat of his gaze as he bent and kissed her naked breast he’d just exposed. He’d had her in the bed multiple times in the night, in the shower and then had thrown her back in the bed. It was nearly nine in the morning but for some reason today, his thirst for her had been unquenchable. She shivered under his stare and then reminded herself she needed to reign in her emotions. He liked s*x, it just happened at this precise time she was his s*x toy of choice.
“You don’t own me, Olivier, you’re just paying for services. That’s it.” Roberta tossed out over his head. “Don’t stake a claim like I’m a pet.”
“Good, you know the drill.”
“I do. The month is also up on Monday next week.” He had already extended her by a month once before. He was unlikely to extend it again and she was going to go back to her tiny hovel of a room at the boarding house, return to work at the coffee shop he’d plucked her from and likely become a spinster. Only she would be stupid enough to fall in love with a man she had agreed to act as an escort for. Although escort was the wrong word, because she hadn’t escorted him anywhere outside of this room except for a couple of dinners.
“We’ll talk about it when I’m back.” He stared into her eyes seriously, “if I didn’t have a flight to catch, I think I’d be buried deep in you again in about ten seconds. You are f*****g beautiful, chérie.”
She looked past him to the mirrored ceiling and knew what he was looking at. Blonde hair, blue eyes, an hourglass figure bordering thin from many missed meals. She could go on the internet and find fifty movie starlets with the same face, minus the spattering of freckles across their nose. There was nothing special about her look, in her opinion, but somehow, according to Olivier Villeneuve, she made his d**k hard.
“Be good when I’m gone. I’ll be back Sunday.”
“Okay.” She lifted back on elbows to watch him stride from the room and laughed when he called out for her to stop looking at his ass. Was it her fault her eyes were always on it? He wouldn’t work out as much as he did if he didn’t want it ogled.
Bobbie lay there and considered how this had all come to play. He had come to her coffee shop late at night at closing time. She had worked a double shift, exhausted but having no choice to work as many hours as she could. Her sister needed the money. She was dying. Too far down on the transplant list for a kidney and they were not a match. They shared a mother, neither knew their father and since their mom had died when they were teenagers, the girls had been on their own. She had no education, no training, and no way to pay the medical bills her sister had needed.
Then Olivier Villeneuve had shown up at her coffee shop, irritated with a date he’d simply left wherever he’d dropped her out of his car, demanding a coffee and her phone number. He’d made her an offer he thought she couldn’t refuse. Thirty thousand dollars for thirty days of her time. At first, she’d refused the rich handsome man who obviously was not used to hearing the word no.
But then every night for a week he stopped at her coffee shop, had a cup of coffee, and ogled her but never asked again. On day seven she’d acquiesced when he bumped the offer to sixty thousand dollars, a formal contract, and a promise to make it worth her while. She knew he had meant sexually and finally she agreed. Partly because she found him sexy as hell. Mostly because on the day he proposed his lucrative offer, she’d received another bill from the hospital for her sister’s dialysis treatment. She closed out the store and he’d taken her to his hotel suite, because of course, a rich wealthy man in Houston would simply stay in a hotel instead of buying a condominium.
Since the first night, she rarely left his bed. Admittedly, he let her out for food but for the most part, he kept her in the hotel room and usually in the bed. The man was insatiable. It was fine for her. She found him invigorating and the more he gave, the more she wanted. It was a dangerous path.
Eating dinner in the room, watching the news before bedtime, or quietly sitting and reading. Playing cards was their favorite pastime. He had been thrilled to know she could play poker and every game turned into a strip poker game she rarely won. They were all activities normal typical couples engaged in. Their topics of conversation never touched on personal subjects like family or friends. She had to frequently remind herself, they were not a normal typical couple.
Olivier Villeneuve was a billionaire businessman but if a person asked her what exactly he did, she’d be hard pressed to tell him. She couldn’t even begin to understand what he did for a living, but she guessed an accountant, or something based on the way he watched the ticker screen on the bottom of the financial news She was not used to hobnobbing with the rich and famous and his name wasn’t one she had heard of before he’d purchased her services. He was used to having what he wanted when he wanted and how he wanted. For right now, she was what he wanted. She expected come Monday, he’d be cutting her loose. Her heart was already breaking.
She couldn’t tell him of course. She loved him. Stupidly she had fallen in love with him and the way he smiled; a bit crooked with one side of his lip always a bit higher than the other. His eyes dark brown and his hair a dirty blonde which always looked mussed up, cut short and she wondered if it wasn’t curly if he let it grow out. She had caught him watching her two weeks ago, intently while she had been reading an email from the treatment center and the way he’d looked at her made her feel he wanted more than just s*x. She forced herself to get up from the sofa and take a cold shower, punching the wall multiple times as she realized she was projecting emotion on a man who was incapable. He'd followed her into the shower, and they’d had rough passionate s*x against the shower walls.
“Bobbie, you’re such a fool,” she whispered to herself as she rolled over and pulled her cell phone closer. One missed call. Immediately dread filled her chest as she recognized the number. She quickly returned the call and felt her stomach drop. She got dressed and moved to the front doors, hopping on one foot as she shoved into a tennis pair of tennis shoes.
She met the guard there, “I need to go.”
“Mr. Villeneuve said you should stay here.”
“I know what he said but I need to go to the Pemberley Hospice Center now.” She pushed past him.
“Ma’am.” He grabbed her arm and tried to convince her to stay.
She spun on her heel. “My sister is dead. They just called to tell me. Do you mind?”
“I’m sorry, of course, let’s go.” He escorted her quickly through the hotel and had a car waiting by the time they reached the entrance. “My name is Darian. Would you like me to call Mr. Villeneuve?”
“No, what’s he going to do? He can’t bring her back.” She said coldly staring out the window. Her sister had died alone while she was on her back. Not like Rosamund would have cared, she’d have been happy for her, teasing her and laughing. She’d been in a coma for ten days now. It had only been a matter of time.
Several hours later, she had arranged everything with the hospice center, had broken down with Darian gently holding her while she sobbed her heart out and was on her way back to the hotel room. Rosamund would be cremated and that would be that. There was no money for a huge fancy funeral, and it wasn’t like they had friends anyway. It had always just been the two of them. Her best and only friend and her only family member was gone.
As she entered the hotel suite, she heard voices and came to a standstill, Darian close on her heels.
“Ah, there she is Roberta Caron. Olivier’s paid escort. He always was partial to blondes,” the man in the room looked to the brunette sitting opposite him, “sorry Cleo.”
“No offense. I’m glad he got this out of his system before the wedding,” the woman looked Bobbie up and down casually as if her appearance didn’t bother her at all, “though usually he goes for something a bit less used looking.” She glared at Bobbie, “you slept with my fiancé, the man I love more than anything in the world. You’re nothing more than a w***e. You’re lucky I found this out before our wedding otherwise there would be hell to pay. He’s mine. You’re going to leave.”
“Who are you and who let you in here?” Darian stepped forward protectively, pushing Bobbie behind him.
“Bernard Menard, I’m Olivier’s best friend and,” he looked at Bobbie, “Roberta’s new,” he waved his hand around with a flourish, “what’s the word we agreed to use?” he looked at Cleo with a smirk. “Patron. Yes, patron.” His eyes looked her up and down in a way instantly making Bobbie’s skin itch.
“I’m not sure what you’re suggesting, Mr. Menard, but it is not happening.” Bobbie felt her stomach twist painfully.
“Olivier transferred the remaining five days of your contract over to me.”
“It’s not transferrable,” she argued, hating the searing pain in her chest.
“Your choice is clear my love, give me the last five days or forfeit the month of payment. Olivier is getting married on Saturday,” he waved to the woman on his right, “Cleo and I chatted with him this morning and he agreed this was the best plan of action.” The woman held up a huge diamond on her finger. “Cleo agreed to not call everything off considering you’re nothing more to him than a commodity.”
“Darian, can you grab my bag off the nightstand? It’s time I left.” There was no way she could walk into the room where he had made love to her for hours to collect her things. All she needed was her bag. The rest could rot.
As Darian stepped into the separate bedroom, Bernard grew close and wrapped his fingers tightly around her arm.
“I have bought out your contract, sweetheart, you’re not going anywhere.” She tried to pull her arm away and he slapped her face hard. “Hookers don’t get choices!”
She kicked him hard in the balls, his shout of pain echoing in the room just as Darian ripped the man off her and threw him clear across the room. He pushed her out the door and into the hall, shoving her bag into her hands.
“I’ve seen rich people do some f****d up s**t, but this is the worst bunch of bullshit I’ve ever seen. Let’s get you out of here.”
“Why would he do this?” she whimpered sadly as she got into the elevator. “Who would do such a thing? He transferred me like I was a possession. I’m not a f*****g car lease.”
“Where can I take you that you’ll be safe?”
“I don’t have anywhere,” she felt the tears come on. “I was staying at a boarding house because it was cheaper than an apartment.” The truth was, she and Rosamund had been homeless more than once in her twenty-one years of life. “Just take me to the funeral home and I’ll wait for my sister’s ashes and sort out what to do next.”
As she climbed into the car at the man’s urging and let him take her where she wanted to go, she let the tears fall again. They said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Bobbie Caron was a diamond in the rough.