It had been nearly 10 PM when the phone rang.
“We haven’t worked with him before, but he was referred by a very regular client,” Susanna explained. “If you’re willing to take someone else’s word for it, I think this would be an excellent place for you to start. You’d have to be at the hotel in half an hour.”
Andy had nearly fainted with relief. At least he’s gorgeous. I won’t have to pretend to be attracted to him. And she’d been watching the game, knew he’d had a rough time of it. She’d agreed to the job, dressed quickly and driven herself into the city.
He’d had a bad few nights. First on the road in Atlanta where they’d lost 5-1, then in Nashville he’d been sore and slow as they squeaked out a 3-2 victory. Tonight he’d been hoping for better at home, but it hadn’t worked out. In the first, he’d taken a stupid retaliatory penalty and they’d given up a goal to Philly’s power play. In the third, when the game was still close, he’d flubbed a pass in his defensive zone that resulted in an ugly turnover and another Flyers goal. The whole game had been sloppy and forced – the fans had even booed. His attempt to redeem himself was half-assed and ended up in a fight with Carcillo. He landed a few punches, but mostly he took them. And it didn’t help – they still lost.
His teammates had recommended this service in the past, but he’d never called. He’d never actually paid for it before. When he was younger he’d have laughed – why hire a girl when they were throwing themselves at you left and right? Now the idea of someone guaranteed to be hot, smart and capable seemed like heaven. No puckbunnies whose short skirts promised things they couldn’t deliver, whose stories rang around the team like headline news.
Dejected barely covered the way he felt at the end of tonight’s game. He hadn’t been sleeping, hadn’t been playing well… his head was a mess. He wanted a way to forget and a way to feel good again. It was tough to tell his loudmouthed teammate that he was ready, but luckily his friend understood. A quick, quiet phone call later he was on his way to a downtown hotel.
Looking at this girl, he knew he’d made the right decision.
“Want to get a drink downstairs?” he suggested, needing some traction on this slippery slope. Andy nodded. He might be a mind-scramblingly hot way to start her new career but she was still plenty nervous. At the elevator, the brief wait stretched almost into awkward silence before the doors opened. Andy was grateful there were a few people inside, negating the need to talk.
They sat on high stools near the window, the table so small that sitting across was almost sitting next to each other. Andy rubbed her calves together over the heater blowing warm air from the floorboards.
“Are you cold?” He asked, moving to take off his suit coat.
“No, this heat feels nice,” she smiled, having been instructed to let him see as much of her as possible as often as possible. A waitress took their order – he had another of the same, she a glass of wine. When the girl was gone, Andy knew it was time to do her part but she didn’t fear it. In fact, she kind of wanted to do this.
“Tough game.” Her fingers traced two tiny black buttons just above the cuff of his jacket.
“Did you watch?” He half-hoped she hadn’t, he was embarrassed. But he wanted her to understand. She nodded, not looking up. He sighed, watching where she nearly touched his bare wrist.
“Want to talk about something else?” she raised her eyes, which were green or possibly gray. Impossible to tell in the low bar lighting. The dimple on her right cheek was deeper than the left, something about the asymmetry making it hard to look away from her face. The waitress brought their drinks.
“Get ‘em next time,” she clinked the rim of her glass to his and took a slow sip. The heavy liquid warmed Andy from the inside. Without intention, her fingers slipped under his cuff, grazing the inside of his wrist. A drowsy tingle ran up into her hand.
He closed his eyes briefly, hoping she wouldn’t see but unable to stop himself. Her touch was like silk on his heated skin, prickling all the way up his arm. Dangerous, he told himself, this is the business of pleasure. Don’t forget she’s not here for you. But she looked so honest.
“Tell me about your summer,” she prompted. He talked about being home, seeing family, working out a training regimen. He liked to skate a lot in the off-season, and told her about inventing ways to keep himself occupied when the dog days of August seemed to drag forever.
“What about you?” he asked. I wonder if anything she’ll tell me is true. Did working girls share their private lives with clients? Clients – it made him shiver. She was beautiful and gentle sitting there across the table; he felt like he was on the best first date of his life – she already knew him, she understood. Of course, that was her job. Her fingers traced the inside of his palm.
“I had some time off from work, so I also invented ways to stay busy. I read a lot, took a hip hop dance class and worked until I was not the lamest white girl in the place. I even learned archery. Did you know there’s a free archery range here? They give you equipment and lessons. It’s from some grant – I don’t think new people ever go, because everyone was so excited to see me.”
That’s because you’re gorgeous, he thought. And it was more than that – she was confident and friendly, two things he didn’t feel at all. She was a mirror he wanted to step through and find his old self on the other side.
Andy wasn’t sure she should be telling him all this, but no one ever said what she should talk about. Susanna said to have a personality, and this is the only one she knew. The lines in his palm were shallow beneath her fingers as she fought to concentrate over the feel of his skin. They compared a few movies they had both seen, he told about a trip he’d taken to Europe.
“I’ve been to Ireland twice,” she said. “Isn’t it amazing? I spent a whole day riding a rickety bike uphill on the Aryn Islands in the rain and loved it. Who does that on vacation?”
“Where else have you been?”
Andy couldn’t stop herself. “All over Europe on the train with a backpack one summer. I’m wearing the same outfit in all one thousand pictures. I also spent five months in Southeast Asia – I was supposed to cover a lot of ground, but instead I found a beach I liked and lay there for about three months.”
If she’s making this up as she goes along, she’s the best liar I’ve ever met. He caught her fingers into his, twining them until they were holding hands across the table.
Gulp, she swallowed. “What about you?”
He hadn’t done much traveling, unless cities with hockey teams counted. It was something he always wanted to make time for, and he was proud of himself for having done so over the summer. Now he felt a little outmanned by the girl in the black dress.
“Not much time, unfortunately, between playing and training. But I’d like to.”
“When you get the chance, I’ll give you some suggestions,” she said. They both smiled at the insinuation that they’d see each other again, knowing they never would. Her wine glass was empty. “Should we call it a night?”
He reluctantly let go of her hand to sign the bill. Across the lobby he imagined ways to casually touch her again, to re-establish the physical contact he craved so badly it ached. Next to her he felt awkward, like matching ends of a magnet pushing each other apart. Andy sensed his tension and slid her arm through his, pressing his bicep to the side of her breast. His cologne was warm and expensive; Andy was glad she hadn’t gone for a second glass of wine. She felt loopy enough. Here he was: big and strong and gorgeous, someone she had admired from afar for ages, but he practically bled vulnerability. Everything she did made him react physically – every touch, every look. She’d never felt someone want her so much. His sad smile and the bend of his shoulders made her knees a little weak. They walked slowly down the hall, steps drunk with anticipation.
It isn’t supposed to be like this, I’m not supposed to enjoy myself, she worried. Andy was a realist, she knew exactly what she was doing. She didn’t expect to feel anything except resolution and necessity. He fumbled slightly with the key in the door. Once she was inside, she rolled her shoulders back and reminded herself that this was business. Don’t get all girly, Andy. He’s paying, you’re taking and this is a business relationship. It would not do at all to fall in love with her first ever client.
It happened when she saw the bed: her posture changed. She was facing away but he sensed the whole room went still as she put on her mask. No no no, he wanted to cry, I need you. He felt like a kid throwing a tantrum and sheer desperation made him act without thinking.
He spun her by the hip and caught her lips to his, moving more surely than he had in days, swallowing her gasp of surprise. The soreness disappeared from his upper back as he wrapped one arm around her shoulders, the other hand tight on her hip. He didn’t ask or wait or question, he just kissed her. Hard.
Andy’s mind rang like a slot machine and her heart rained out a jackpot. The way he’d been looking at her was nothing compared to his kiss. It was fire and pain, surrender and insistence. Before she could remember to close herself off, she was kissing him back.
Thank God, he thought as she opened her mouth and let him in. He’d known she would eventually, that’s why they both came here. He didn’t want to fight for it. He wanted her the way she had been moments ago, before she was working… Shit. SHIT!
“I’m so sorry,” he broke away, face reddening in shame. I’m acting like I own her, like I can just kiss her and take whatever I want from her. I didn’t even give her a second, just attacked her like… like what? Like I’m paying for it? He sat down heavily on the bed. “Sorry.”
She dropped to her knees at his side. “What’s the matter? Don’t be sorry.” He looked worse than before, head in his hands with eyes closed. Andy reached up stroked the side of his face, as if brushing his short hair back over his ear. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
He tilted his head enough to see her. Her brow was creased as she tried to reason out what had happened. He had a vision of what she’d be like with a little kid: putting a Band Aid on a scraped knee and kissing it better. How genuine, how caring. Somebody’s sister, somebody’s girlfriend. Oh God.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked.
“No,” she shook her head.
“Would you tell me if you did?”
“Probably not. But I don’t have to lie, because I don’t have one. Is that what’s bothering you?”
He so wanted to tell her the truth. Curl up against her warm body and let her run her fingers through his hair, touch his neck, tell him everything would be fine. It didn’t take much to go down hard in the NHL – a string of bad games, the press in your face and fans wondering what all that money was buying. A slump was a self-fulfilling prophecy, you couldn’t break it till you felt better or feel better till you broke it. And the prospect of a slump loomed large in front of him.
I’ve never done this before, he wanted to say. I wish I’d met you somewhere else, but you’d probably be asleep already and I’d have snuck out, because I suck at real life too. It would really impress her if he started crying, which he was probably tired enough to do.
“Hey,” she lifted his chin. “I have an idea. Stay here for a minute.”
Andy turned the faucet on the huge bathtub, ignoring her brain as it screamed Pretty Woman. She was so close to losing him, and she had no idea what would happen then. She’d never get another chance with Susanna if her first client froze her out before so much as her shoes were off. There was no bubble bath, so she emptied the tiny bottle of shower gel into the water and left it to fill.
He was still hunched at the end of the mattress, but he looked at her. She held out a hand, bringing him to his feet and moving right into his chest. Her hands slid between his jacket and shoulders, laying the suit coat onto the bed. The already lose tie came off easily. She unbuttoned until she hit his stomach, then untucked his shirt and finished. She carefully touched as little as possible as she slid down his zipper. He stepped out of his shoes and pants, standing before her in boxer briefs and a t-shirt.
“Nice socks,” she said, looking into his eyes and never even seeing his feet. That got half a smile. She turned and swept her hair over one shoulder. “Unzip me?”
He did, slowly, and she was glad not to see his face. If he wanted to go slow, or do nothing, that was fine with her. She was going to find a way to help him feel whatever kind of better he was looking for. Andy had a feeling he just needed to start easy.
He drew the pull down her long back, running out of zipper at the rise of her ass. She shimmied the black dress down her from her shoulders, revealing matching black lace bra and panties. In the privacy of her turned back, he took in every each of her creamy, kissable skin. Carefully, she stepped out of her dress and draped it on top of his coat. He watched unashamedly as she put a foot up on the comforter and undid her complicated-looking shoe in a surprisingly easy motion. When the other was gone, she stood before him in her lingerie.
“You’re kinda short,” he said stupidly, though it felt good to laugh.
“You’re kinda slow,” she answered, gesturing to his still mostly-dressed body. Then she walked into the bathroom.
He shed his shirt, but felt awkward about the shorts. She was already in the tub, the top of her shoulders visible above the soap suds. Her bra and panties hung on the doorknob he pulled shut.
“Hurry or it will be cold.” She busied herself arranging bubbles and not looking as he dropped his shorts and stepped into the water.
Shy! Andy thought. As if he needed to be any cuter to make her forget why she came here, what she was doing, the person she had become. Regardless of the fact that she hated a tiny part of herself for doing this, she was more involved in this moment than she had any right to be. Money, money, her mind whispered but she kept shoving it back down.
The water was blissfully hot and he sank to the floor of the tub between her knees. She guided him backward until he was resting against her chest, her face level with his hair. Full breasts pressed against his shoulders, instantly making his body twitch with arousal. He willed himself to stay calm – she was here all night if he wanted it. If she wants it, he told himself, losing the battle he’d barely begun to fight. If she doesn’t want to stay, I won’t ask her to. Her long, lean legs circled his hips and her feet disappeared below his knees.
Andy put her arms around his broad, solid shoulders and ran her fingers into his short dark hair, trailing along the hairline at his forehead and ears. He pressed against her palm like a puppy who loves to be petted. With careful deliberation, trying not to seem demanding, he cupped his hands around her calves.
“You have strong legs,” he said, hoping it didn’t sound as lecherous as he felt. She flexed playfully and made the muscles jump in his hands. God I want her, he knew as a zing of pleasure drilled through his body.
If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what will, she thought. Slowly, she brought her hand to his neck, then shoulder, and traced along his collarbone.
“I kickbox and I run,” she said conversationally. “Not as effective as ice skating, sadly.”
“Kickboxing? With real kicking?”
Her breasts moved beneath him as she laughed, making the blood flow to his lap. “No, just shadowboxing yourself in the mirror. But some of the people don’t even look at themselves, or they’ve never seen an action movie. They can’t punch at all. I, on the other hand,” she said with mock grandeur, “I look like Jason Bourne in there.”
“I bet you do.” He relaxed a little, letting his head drop back onto her shoulder. Andy took the opportunity to press a single, easy kiss to his temple. “Tell me something else about you.”
“I used to be a ski racer. In high school. Spent a lot of time freezing my ass off on a mountain.”
“Sounds like me, I played a lot of pond hockey when I was a kid.”
Andy ran one hand down over his chest, holding it still in the vicinity of his heart. “Yeah, but you wore pads and sweaters and jackets. I wore a spandex downhill suit.”
He slid his fingers up and tickled behind her knee. “Maybe I should have been a skier.”
Relax, she willed him. He might feel just as bad tomorrow night, or the night after, until he and the team played well again. That would come eventually. But for tonight, Andy wanted to take away the pain and frustration she felt in the body she held. With two fingers, she pressed along the tendons at the sides of his neck. He gasped suddenly and she knew she’d found a sore spot, working it in gentle circles before moving behind his ears. He bent his head forward and let her reach the back of his neck and bottom of his skull. She knuckled up onto his scalp and massaged his head. He moaned softly and slid a little lower in the water.
“That feels so good,” he said. She wants to touch me. Or she wants to get paid. But her healing hands were strong and made his breathing deepen. It certainly felt like she genuinely wanted to ease his pain.
“Good,” she whispered, working him over before moving to his shoulders. The muscles were so tight she could barely get a grip. “Am I hurting you?”
He rolled his head from side-to-side. “No. I can barely feel that, really.”
Okay, next step, Andy knew. She sat up, he sat up with her. Her lips met the spot right between his shoulder blades with a small, wet kiss before she stood.
He watched in the mirror as she rose to her feet, white puffs of bubbles and water falling off her body. She was as beautiful as he’d expected, maybe more – tall and fit, tiny muscles flexing beneath her skin as she moved. It was a healthy, strong body that was used often and used well. Long dark hair was twisted behind her to stay dry, but the small dark patch of hair between her legs drew his eye. Full breasts swung as she leaned down to rinse herself with handfuls of water. When she reached for a towel, he noticed a small tattoo at the center of her back, well above her waist.
“What’s your tattoo?”
She stepped into the towel, covering her front but letting it fall loose down her back, then sat on the edge of the tub. His fingers followed the lines of an intricate, antique-looking compass rose surrounded by tiny flourishes. The N for north pointed halfway between straight up and her right side.
“Why isn’t north pointing up?” His hand drew itself down her side, sliding beneath the towel along the curve of her body.
“It points to 42 degrees.”
“What’s so important about 42?”
She looked over her shoulder, holding the towel modestly closed over her chest. He was aware of his hand cupping her hip, fitted into the dip of her waist. He looked up at her with a little more life in his eyes. Thank God, she thought. At least I can be of some use.
“42 is the answer to the ultimate question,” she said. He still looked blank. Just as well, I’d definitely fall in love with him if he knew this one. “The ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. It’s from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
“Oh,” he looked down, feeling a little stupid. Of course it would be from a book, probably something brilliant and literary that I wouldn’t understand. Of course she’d be well-read and interesting. He took his hand away.
Andy saw his face fall, all her hard work crumbling. She moved to the floor, sitting outside the tub just as he was sitting inside, their faces almost level over the side of the bath. “It’s the story of the only two humans left when some very boring aliens obliterate Earth to make room for a space highway. They go on a crazy adventure with other aliens in hopes of getting Earth put back the way it was.”
The look on his face was priceless, like he just woke up in Munchkinland. He slowly raised an eyebrow like it took him a while to translate her words. “What?”
“It’s hilarious, I promise. I’ll lend it to you.”
I did it again, she thought. Talking like we’re going to see each other after tonight. Like we’re friends. Like we’re dating, or married, because who else sits naked on the bathroom floor talking about books?
God I love her, his brain spit.
“Come on, get out of that cold water.” She didn’t stay, not wanting to embarrass him if he still felt shy. One finger hooked her lingerie from the doorknob as she left the room.
He dried, feeling foolish that she was naked and he was uncomfortable. But he didn’t want to ruin this again, didn’t want to be too forward. Things could easily have gone too far, too fast and he knew she would let it, that she did not come here to keep him under control. He had to do that part himself tonight. His shorts hardly seemed up to the job.
She was sitting on the bed in her underwear. The fair skin of her long legs stood out on the dark duvet, appearing to go on forever until they disappeared under the hem of his t-shirt. The edge of a towel was between her fingers.
“Lay down,” she said. He settled onto his stomach and she draped the clean towel over his ass, covering his shorts chastely, and he smelled something like the bubbles from the tub before he felt her hands on his back, slick with warm lotion.
“You don’t have to…” he mumbled into the pillow.
She dug her thumbs into the soft tissue of his laterals, just inside his shoulder blades. He hissed - it felt amazing and searing in equal measure. “Do you really want me to stop?” she asked. He just shook his head.
He is breathtaking. She had to admit it to herself as she worked his back. It was easy to massage someone when you could see every solid, defined muscle in his body. Wide, strong shoulders tapered into a hard, flat waist. He had no reason to be shy – lying sprawled and nearly naked on the expensive comforter, he looked like some very lucky girl’s wet dream. Lucky, she rolled her eyes. Luck did not bring me here.
He tried to focus his breathing on the spot she chose. The trainers taught them all yoga breathing as a form of pain management – imagine breathing into a spot that hurt and see that muscle uncurling, the pain subsiding. Surprisingly, it worked well for a lot of the daily aches and bruises. He followed her hands down his spine, between his ribs and across his shoulders. The lotion grew hot with the friction and helped his body to relax. It was also bringing heat to another part of his body. Focusing breathing on his lap, now uncomfortably pressed to the mattress, was no help.
Andy went up one side and down the other, across and back again. She was no masseuse, but she’d visited them enough to know what felt good. His tension eased slightly, then a little more. She marveled at the shape and size of him as she let her hands roam freely across his perfect body. The last part was the best, for him. And maybe for me, she let herself smile.
Unannounced she swung her knee over and straddled his waist, then settled herself down so she was almost sitting on his ass. He groaned quietly. “Am I hurting you?” she bounced playfully, moving the bed with him. His answer was lost in the pillow. Andy placed the heels of her hands at the very base of his spine, just above his pelvis and leaned down. Her weight fell into her arms, pressing him into the mattress.
He moaned. Rather loudly. It would have made her laugh if she had never known what it felt like to have the tension in your lower back forcibly released, like having the world lifted off your shoulders. She’d always wanted some giant to pick her up and wring her like a towel, cracking and realigning every bone in her body. This technique was the closest she had ever experienced in real life. She did it again.
“Oh my God,” he said. “That feels amazing.”
What the hell is she doing to me? His muscles pooled and flowed, all the lactic acid releasing at once and draining away. He’d felt this at a chiropractor, or with a trainer, but never outside a clinical setting and certainly never delivered by a beautiful, half-naked woman on a very large bed. Maybe this is what the guys have been paying for all along, he thought, agreeing it was probably worth it. He lost the yoga breathing battle and felt himself get hard.
Andy pressed again, earning another deep, guttural sound. It felt powerful to provide so much pleasure. Maybe that’s why girls do this, they get off on getting someone off. Her hands moved an inch lower, one vertebrae, and pushed again. She worked her way down until she reached the towel. What the hell, she shrugged as she pushed it out of the way. His boxer briefs were very fitted, leaving nothing to the imagination as they hugged his perfect ass. The cotton was soft beneath her palms and she gave him a little squeeze for good measure before she…
“Wait,” he said suddenly, lifting his head from the pillow. She was straddling his back, her legs and crotch warm against his body. Add her hands into the mix and he was hiding complete arousal between himself and the bed. One more push that low on his body and he might have come. “I…”
Andy reacted quickly, she didn’t need him getting embarrassed again. She slid off and lay by his side on the bed, giving him a minute to decide what he wanted to do. Eventually he lifted his head and turned toward her without rolling off his stomach.
“That was incredible,” he said. He needed to make a move here, one way or another, because there was no way his erection was going away on its own. Even the slight rub while twisting his shoulders had sent a wave a pleasure through him. Either he would have to get her to finish this, or get her to leave so he could finish it himself. He really didn’t want her to leave.