Authors: Eden Bradley
“Oh, yes …”
“Are you touching yourself? ”
“Yes …” I slide my fingers over my soaking slit, push two fingers inside, feel my own body clenching. “Are you?”
“Yeah. If I close my eyes I can almost feel your skin. I can almost feel myself inside you.”
“God, Joshua.” I'm stroking harder now, my thighs falling open, my fingers alternately dipping inside, then rubbing my clit. I'm shivering with desire, my hips arcing. “Talk to me, please.”
“I'm so damn hard. And you are so God damn beautiful, Valentine. I just want to thrust into you, to feel you inside, all soft and wet. Jesus …”
“Joshua, I'm going to come.”
I can hardly believe it. But his voice is in my head, in my body, making me shiver with need, desire coursing through me like liquid fire.
“Yes, come … I'm coming …”
I moan as a wall of pleasure hits me, shuddering as it flows through my veins, hot and electric. His groans drive me on, and I'm coming, coming, into my hand, into his hand …
Still trembling, I close my eyes, picture his face behind the brilliant flashes of light beneath my lids. “Joshua …”
For several moments there is no sound but our joined, panting breath. My head is spinning. How is it that I can come, suddenly? Something about Joshua, but I can't figure it out right now. I'm afraid if I question it, it'll go away, these lovely, unpaid orgasms. But I know if I ever feel his hands on me, I will come with him. Terrifying. Wonderful.
“Tell me you'll call me when you get back. Tell me you'll see me.” There is a gasping desperation in his voice.
“Yes. I'll call you, see you. I need to see you.”
“I want you. I don't know if I can see you again and not touch you. Not after this.”
God, his voice goes through me like a hand stroking over my bare flesh. I am burning with need simply thinking about seeing him, imagining his face, his scent.
“Joshua …” But I don't know what to say. My voice is so shaky I can barely speak.
“Do you still want to see me?” It's more a command than a question.
“Yes!” My voice is a quiet hiss. I've never wanted anything so much in my life.
“Good.” I hear him take a sip of his drink. “When you get back, you'll know what to expect.”
There is so much in that simple remark, in the implication in his tone. Oh yes, I'll know what to expect. My skin is going damp and taut all over, my sex filling, swelling once more. I ache for him in a way I have never ached for any other man.
“I can hardly wait to see you.”
I don't care that I sound desperate. I
“I can't wait to see you, either, Valentine.”
I love the sound of my name on his lips. I love the tone of his deep, husky voice. I'm shaking all over now, wishing for his touch. I need to feel his hands on my body.
“Do you need to go, Valentine? It's late there.”
It is. But I don't care.
“I just want to talk to you,” I tell him. I don't know where all this honesty has come from.
“What do you want to talk about?”
I laugh a little roughly. “Oh, I don't think I can do this again already.”
“Ah, Valentine.” His tone drops, going deeper, softer. “I really cannot wait to see you. To touch you. Kiss you.”
“Oh, don't do this to me,” I groan, and he laughs on the other end, so far away in California.
“Why don't we leave it here for now?” he says. “It'll make it even better when you get back to L.A.”
“I'll call as soon as I'm back.”
“Yes, I think you will. Have a good night, Valentine. Sweet dreams. Mine will be.”
“Good night, Joshua.”
I don't care that what I've done, calling him, having phone sex with him, for God's sake, is entirely forbidden. I don't care that my client sleeps in the next room. All I care about is seeing him, being with him.
I am a woman obsessed. I am risking everything. None of that matters.
For the first time in my life, I am being completely self-indulgent. I will deal with the fallout later. And I know there will be fallout. I'm scared to death. Out of control. But I can't help myself. I'm going numb, trying to figure it all out, and still in a sex coma from my climax. There's so much going on in my mind, in my body. Everything is changing, and it's happened so fast, it's making my head spin.
Fuck it. This is just for me. Even if it means losing the life I've spent years building. And it just may mean that. It probably will.
THE TRIP HOME TO
L.A. seemed to take forever. We had weather problems in New York and it took hours to get clearance for takeoff. Finally at home, I dump my luggage in the bedroom; I'll unpack tomorrow. I'm far too tired tonight, too travel-weary.
The rest of the trip and the journey itself was unremarkable. Zayed kept us with him for another four days. Nothing notable. Not for me, anyway. Nightly orgies, the occasional midday blow job between meetings and lunches in which it took all three of us to get him off. All three of us locked in the hotel suite like the favorite pet cats. Here, kitty, kitty. Come suck my dick.
Shit. When did I become so bitter?
I'd wanted to call Joshua again. Every day. But I didn't dare. I knew it was far too much for me, trying to exist in dual lives like that. That one night had me thinking about him too much, too desperately, caused lapses in my focus.
I didn't talk to Regan and Rosalyn much on the flight back. I slept a bit, pretended to doze the rest of the time. I was too afraid I'd admit my sin to them. Talking to Joshua. Thinking about him. I was afraid to give the matter any more importance than it already holds for me. I was afraid they'd see through whatever half-truths I told them. Better to say nothing at all.
I take a quick shower and change into a pair of yoga pants and a T-shirt, settle on the sofa and check my messages. There is only one, from Deirdre, asking me to call as soon as I return. Which means now, not tomorrow, when I've had a chance to sleep off my jet lag. I dial her private number.
“Deirdre, it's Val. You left a message for me?”
“Yes, I did. Thank you for being so prompt in returning
my call.” She is absolutely polite, as always. And as glacially cold as ever. “I'll get right to it, Val. There's been a complaint about you.”
But I'm not nearly as shocked as I pretend to be.
“You know I always follow up with our clients. Zayed mentioned you seemed a bit distracted. He was quite nice about it. But we cannot have that at the level of business at which we operate. I believe you understand.”
“Yes. Of course.” My heart is hammering. This is not good. “I'm sorry, Deirdre.”
“I don't know what's going on with you, Val, but obviously something is.”
“I'm sorry. It won't happen again. I can handle it, I promise.”
“How long have you been doing this, Val? You've been with me for eight years. How long before Enzo brought you to me?”
“Maybe a year. A little less.”
“So, nine years of this life. That may be enough for anyone.”
“No, Deirdre. Not for me.”
But am I as certain of that as I was even a few weeks ago? I grip the phone in one hand, pull an embroidered throw pillow to my chest with the other, and hold on tight.
“As much as we'd all like to think of ourselves as irreplaceable, none of us really is,” she goes on, her voice as smooth as glass. “Not the girls, not the clients. Not even me.”
“Yes, of course, Deirdre.”
I see where this conversation is going. I understand the implied threat to get me back in line.
“We are of a caliber of women who cannot make mistakes, Val. We are at the top of the food chain in our industry. You've been with me long enough to know that.”
My palms are going damp. She's a hard woman. I have no idea how far she'll go with this, what she'll do, exactly. “Deirdre, I'll handle this. I will.”
The Broker is silent a moment. “I want you to go see someone. Will you do it?”
“See someone?” It takes me a moment to understand what she's suggesting. “You mean a shrink?”
“Yes. That's exactly what I mean. This woman is someone I trust, someone who has worked with working girls before. She'll understand. She's very special. And I believe you need her.”
God, I hate that she's right. But that doesn't change the fact that she is. I'm not going to fight her on this. I'm not in any position to. Whatever The Broker says is the word of God in this business.
“Alright, yes. I'll go see her.”
Why do I feel defeated somehow?
Deirdre gives me her name, Lydia Foster, and an address in an upscale section of Santa Monica.
“Check in with me after you've seen her next week. I'll expect to hear from you. And, Val, I'd prefer not to send you on any overnights until you've spoken with her. Do you understand?”
“Yes, of course. I understand.” I pause, not wanting to say it, needing to. “Thank you, Deirdre.”
A pause on her end. Surprise, perhaps? “You're most welcome. I prefer not to lose one of my best girls to burnout.”
Is that was this is? Maybe. Or maybe it goes a lot deeper than that.
I am about to find out.
SPENT ALL OF
Friday night mentally wrestling with myself: call Joshua, don't call Joshua. But after my little wake-up call with The Broker, I needed some time to sort my head out. I went to bed with a glass of wine—okay, a bottle—and now the morning sun shafting through my bedroom windows is making my head ache. I'm not a good drinker. In fact, I suck at drinking, which has been my way of avoiding turning into my mother. But I'm doing a bit too much of it lately. Need to put a stop to that, fast.
The wine didn't help me come to any conclusions, either. My mind keeps spiraling around the idea that once I go to this therapist, I'll have to make a choice. I'll have to choose my career. After all, it's Deirdre who is sending me to this person. It makes me feel desperate. To see Joshua. Be with him. Before it's all taken away. Before I take it away from myself.
My mouth feels like the Sahara Desert. I get up, slip into my short kimono robe, and brush my teeth before padding into the kitchen. Too damn bright in here, but my darling orchids love the morning sun. I squint as I put the kettle on for tea, pull the sugar bowl from the cupboard.
I wait for the water to boil. My heart is racing.
Just call him.
Yes, why not? Why not call him, talk to him? See him, while I can? This lovely little dream will shatter quickly enough.
A sharp wrench in my chest at the thought. I quickly push it to the back of my mind.
I make myself wait until my tea is ready, carry it back into the living room, fragrant steam wafting from the cup. I don't even stop to check the orchids in the window seat before grabbing the house phone and dialing.
I know his number by heart already.
His voice is clipped.
“Hi, Joshua, it's Valentine. Am I calling at a bad time?”
Real pleasure in his voice. It goes through me like a warm shiver up my spine.
“I just wanted to let you know I'm back in town.”
“Are you jet-lagged?”
“Not much. I slept on the plane.”
“Good. Tell me where to pick you up for dinner. Never mind. Let's make it lunch.”
That air of command again. But I can't wait to see him, all of my doubts melting away, like liquid, like rain. Even lunch seems too far away. My body is going hot all over, my pulse fluttering.
“Yes, lunch would be perfect. Do you still have my address?”
“I wouldn't think of losing it. I'll pick you up at twelve.”
“I'll be ready.”
I'm ready now. Soaked, aching.
We hang up and suddenly I feel disoriented, as though I don't know what to do first. I have two hours. Two hours in which to get ready. To luxuriate in the idea of seeing him again.
I take a long, hot bath scented with my favorite fragrance, wash my hair, rub oil into my still-damp skin, making a ritual of my preparation. I can hardly stand the sight of my own naked body in the mirror: the flush on my skin, my erect nipples, look infinitely sexual to me. Vanity, yes. Perhaps a form of narcissism, even. I've always enjoyed the sight of my own body.
I've never thought there was anything wrong with that. But even more, it's the idea of him seeing me like this, looking at myself through his eyes.