Read A 21st Century Courtesan Online

Authors: Eden Bradley

A 21st Century Courtesan (12 page)

Regan takes the lead, as she so often does, taking his cock in her mouth. Rosalyn is pinching his dark nipples between her fingers, tugging and rolling them, and I go in and massage his balls with my hand.

We all whisper words of encouragement to him, and after a while Regan and I change places. I pull his cock into my mouth, which is mostly hard now and really rather pretty: all deep golden brown and finely shaped, even beneath the
condom Rosalyn has put on him. I suck hard, moving in a smooth, steady motion. And again it is Joshua's cock in my mouth. And I could almost come.

Yes, come for me, Joshua …

It's really working tonight, luckily for us, and it's not long before Zayed goes rock-hard between my lips, his body stiffening all over, and he comes, all heat and thrusting need, his erection hitting the back of my throat. My eyes watering, I take it, not wanting to disappoint him.

After, we all lie on the bed together while Rosalyn goes to get a warm towel for our exhausted nobleman. And he has been noble tonight, which makes me happy.

Except for a strange sensation of emptiness. Because what I really want is for it to be Joshua Spencer lying here beside me, naked and sated.

I try to shake off the sensation, but it won't go. And I feel… sad. Sad that I can no longer be happy with this life. Sad because I know I could never be happy with Joshua—and he could never be happy with a woman like me.

Which leaves me with what?

Nothing.

I roll onto my side, hiding my face from Zayed and the other girls as they talk softly. I squeeze my eyes shut, willing this feeling to go away.

I want to talk to him, see him.

No.

Yes!

This is hopeless.

“Val, I'd like some wine,” Zayed says to me.

“Of course. I'll be right back.”

I get up, naked, go into the other room to get it, and
just like that I am back on duty. Simply doing my job, as I always do.

The thing is, something is different. Something is missing. Despite my endless ability to climax, despite the postorgasm buzz still moving through my body, I no longer love being here.

My stomach tightens into a hard, grasping knot and a wave of nausea sweeps over me. I find the bottle of wine, grip it in my hand until my fingers hurt.

What the fuck am I going to do now?

Chapter Six

“JOSHUA?”

“Yes, this is Joshua.”

God, his voice! Like cool water sluicing over my skin, making me shiver.

“It's Valentine.”

“Valentine. I thought you were away working.”

“I am. I'm in New York.” I'm lying in bed in my room in Zayed's apartment. It's nearly midnight and everyone else has gone to sleep. I should absolutely not be doing this, calling Joshua when I'm working. When I am basically some other man's property. When my time is paid for. But I can't help myself. “I hope I'm not calling too late.”

“No, not at all. It's still early here. How are you?”

“I'm fine.” I pause. Why do I need to tell him the truth? “Actually, I'm not fine.”

“Tell me what's wrong.”

I can hear the sincerity in his voice, and it makes my pulse flutter as much as the subtle tone of command.

“I just… I needed to talk to you. I know that sounds silly. But I just… did.”

He's quiet a moment. “I like that,” he says, his voice low, flirty. “I'm glad you called. I was disappointed you had to cancel our date.”

“So was I. I mean that. I'm sorry.”

“No need to apologize. You're here now, calling me. And not because I asked you to, which is even better. What have you been doing?”

God, if he only knew. What am I going to say? That I've spent my evening in bed with two girls and an old man? That I've come over and over thinking of
him
while my friends go down on me? That I'm here because I make a ridiculous amount of money fucking and sucking everyone?

As much as I don't want to lie to him, as much as I am oddly compelled to tell him the truth, there is no way I can do it.

“I had a late dinner with some people, and now I'm in my room. I feel … alone here.” That much is true. I pause, twist the braided trim on the edge of the silk duvet between my fingertips. “I've been thinking about you.”

“I've been thinking about you, too. Can't seem to get you out of my head. I hope you don't mind my telling you that.”

“I don't mind at all. I'm having the same problem, actually.”

Am I really admitting these things to him?

“Ah, you know how to get to me, don't you, Valentine?”

“Do I?” I'm not being coy. I really need to know.

“Ever since the first moment I laid eyes on you, as corny as that sounds.”

I'm blushing. I can't help it. “So, what was your day like?” I ask him.

“Too long. I spent hours on the phone today trying to
work out issues with this project in Sacramento. But you don't want to hear about that. I'd rather talk about you.”

“There isn't much to talk about.”

He's quiet again, but I can hear him breathing, a slow, steady cadence.

“Valentine,” he says quietly, “please don't do that again. Shut me out. Okay?”

Shit.

My fingers tighten on the phone. But even though my stomach is in knots, I know this is exactly what I wanted. To talk to him,
really
talk to him. Maybe I'm testing him a little. Maybe I'm testing myself. But I want him to know about me. To know some things, anyway.

“I'm not the kind of person who's used to opening up to people. I have a tendency to … keep everyone at arm's length.”

I can't believe I'm saying even this much.

He's quiet, thinking. “There were a few moments when we were at Yamashiro the other night when I felt you letting me in.”

“Yes.”

“Was that terrible? Did you go home and regret doing that?”

“To be honest, part of me did, yes. But I was also glad. At least, I was when I thought about it later.” I pause, pressing the phone hard against my cheek. “Joshua, I don't mean to sound like some … like I'm completely neurotic. I'm just… a bit shut down. I can admit that much. The nature of my life has made me close off on a lot of levels. But something about you makes me feel as though I can talk to you. Makes me want to. I think that's why I called tonight.”

That, and my total sexual obsession with this man.

“That's good, isn't it?” he asks.

“I think so. But it also feels dangerous to me.”

“It's good to live outside the boundaries that make us feel safe sometimes. It's important. We have to challenge ourselves. That's what living life is all about.”

“Maybe I haven't been living life, as you say. Not in the way I should be.”

“It's not too late, Valentine. You can change any time you decide to. It's all about choosing to do it. That's something I've learned in the last few years.”

He's right. God, he's right. But talking about all this makes me feel as though there's a weight on my chest, making it hard to draw a full breath. Still, it's all sort of pouring out now. Terrifying. Necessary.

“Change is so scary for me. I spent most of my childhood never knowing what to expect from one moment to the next. I think as an adult I've set up my life so that I have total control over it. I don't like to leave too much to chance.”

“Maybe, in doing that, you've closed too many doors,” he suggests quietly.

“Maybe. No. It's true.” I pause, take a sip of water from the glass the room steward set beside my bed when he came to turn down the covers earlier. “I think you're a very wise man.”

“I don't know about wise. But I think about these things. Too much, my sister always tells me. It drives her crazy, my analyzing.”

It feels good, talking with him. Even going over some of the scary stuff. I realize my body has relaxed. It's as though he and I are in some secret place, hidden away from the rest of the world.

“Let's change the subject, Joshua, okay? I want to hear about what it was like for you, growing up.”

“It wasn't all that interesting. I had a pretty standard-issue childhood. It was happy. But happy doesn't make for a great story.”

“It does for me. That's like some sort of fantasy to me, people who had a normal life, an intact family.”

“Alright. Okay.” I hear some faint sound in the background: liquid swirling in a glass.

“What are you doing, Joshua?”

“Pouring myself a drink.”

“Ah. A good scotch, single malt.”

“How did you know?”

“I remember from the opera.”

“You're very observant.”

“It's my job to be.” Damn it! I've slipped. I quickly redirect his attention. “So, tell me about your childhood, your family. I want to know what your life was like.”

“We had a good life. Nice house, good schools. My parents were great. Dad worked a lot, but when he was home he was really present.” He stops for a few moments, as though he's considering his words, and I can hear the gentle rhythm of his breath if I listen carefully. “I guess I didn't think about it at the time, about how lucky I was. I know other people's fathers weren't as involved as mine. He spent time with us. He'd take me to ball games, fishing. That was his thing, fishing. I didn't like it all that much, but I didn't care, as long as we got to spend time together. He taught me a lot. He taught me to be hardworking. To be a good person. To be a man. I've tried to follow his example. It's important to me.”

“And your mother?”

“Mom is an amazing woman. She's strong.” He's quiet
again, and I can hear the ice cubes sliding in his glass as he sips his scotch. I remember the scent of it on him at the opera, and a surge of need washes over my body as he continues. “The thing with my parents, though, was that they loved each other. I mean, they were crazy about each other in a way you don't see too often.”

“I don't think I've ever seen that. I don't know that I really believe it's possible, that sort of true, lasting happiness.”

“Oh, it's real. I think it's hard to find, but one thing I learned from them is to believe in that kind of love.”

“Have you ever found it?”

I hold my breath, waiting for his answer. Why does it feel so important? I want him to tell me he's never loved a woman before. At the same time, he deserves that, if anyone does.

“I thought I had a few times …”

He trails off, but not before I've heard some trace of pain in his voice.

“You don't have to tell me,” I say. “We all have our secrets.”

“No, it's no secret. I've been through a few serious relationships, and they've all ended badly.” He pauses a moment. “Not badly, exactly. They've always just ended in … indifference. But that's the saddest thing to me. That's what hurt the most. That I've never found what my parents had. And that it was probably my own fault, because of… who I've been in those relationships. So I guess the answer is no, I haven't really been in love. Not like that. Other than my last girlfriend, the women I've been with have always been the ones to break things off, because I… I wasn't really there. Not in the way I should have been. I can't blame them. I took a long time off relationships before this last one. And then I realized how unfair it was, for me to be with this woman who loved me when I
didn't feel the same way. This time, I made the decision to end things. I wanted us both to have a chance to find that kind of love.” He's quiet again for several moments. “Maybe I'm aiming too high, trying to live up to this iconic love my parents had. What they had was … beautiful. I don't know. I can't help wanting that, at some point in my life.”

We're both quiet for a few moments. My head is spinning. He is the most amazing man. So sincere. So honest.

Far too good for a whore like me.

Stop it!

I don't want to think about that right now. I simply want to enjoy getting to know him.

“Thank you, Joshua. For telling me all this.”

“You're easy to talk to. I can't wait to see you, to talk to you in person again. When will you be back in L.A.?”

“I'm not sure yet.”

“I wish you were here with me now,” he says, his tone lowering. That husky edge is back, and that warmth I felt earlier kicks up a few notches, my nipples going hard beneath the Egyptian cotton bed linens.

“I wish I was, too. I like talking with you. You make me want to tell you … everything.”

“Then tell me something.” His voice is full of need, matching my own.

I think back to that evening in the restaurant bar, that rush of lust reverberating through my veins, his scent, his eyes on me.

“When we were at Yamashiro the other night…”

“What? Tell me.”

“I could barely stand to sit so close to you.”

“I know exactly what you mean. I was so damn attracted
to you. When you left I thought I was going to lose it. I couldn't stop thinking that I never got to kiss you.”

“I'm sorry. I had to go.”

“I know, you weren't feeling well—”

“No. That wasn't it. I had to leave because … I wanted you too much. And it scared me.”

He's quiet while I lie in the big bed, my heart hammering, my pulse hot, needy.

“Jesus, Valentine.” A small groan. “I wanted you so badly. I still do. So damn frustrating that you're so far away. If you were here …”

“If I was there … what?”

He lets out another groan. “What I would do if you were here …”

I smile, move my hand down between my aching thighs, brushing the swollen lips of my sex, teasing.

“I'll tell you something, Joshua. That night, when I rushed off to the ladies' room, I locked myself in a stall and slipped my fingers beneath my panties …”

“God, you're killing me, Valentine.” A long pause, then, quietly, “Did you come?”

“No. But I wanted to. Needed to.”

“I've always fantasized about having sex in a public bathroom. Quick and hard up against the wall, then sneak out like nothing ever happened. Thinking about you in there, touching yourself… that image is going to be in my head for the rest of my life.”

“I've fantasized about you ever since I met you.” Saying it out loud is so good, I can barely breathe. “What else have you fantasized about?”

“Turning you over my knee, slipping your dress up, maybe
spanking you a little while I drive my fingers into you.” I can hear his ragged breath. “Valentine, are you wet?”

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