Authors: Evelyn Glass
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, events, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Dirty Secrets: Interview with a Billionaire copyright @ 2015 by Evelyn Glass. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Book 1 of
Zoey took a long moment to focus on her breathing as she stood across the street from the club. The invitation Helen had gotten her was in hand, and she wanted to walk inside, she wanted it more than anything, but it felt—it felt, somehow, like giving up. She
’d been in the city for three years now. When she’d moved here, she’d been convinced, completely sure, that within a handful of years she’d be married to someone who did the crossword with her in bed, and on the short list for a Pulitzer.
Turned out that in New York City, hotshot writers were a dime a dozen, and finding someone worth talking to was a crap shoot, never mind finding someone whose puzzle solving skills went beyond Words With Friends. She was sick of spending all of her quality time with her vibrator, and Helen swore that this place, Chez Vous, catered to only the most careful. When Zoey had checked it out online, she’d seen a list of latex rules and consent agreements, all of which she’d have to sign off on before she even went in the door. According to Helen, it was members-only; she’d finagled an invitation for Zoey, but she’d been quite clear that it had taken some effort.
Time to move, girl
. It was either walk across the street and have what Helen swore up and down would be the night of her life, or go home, tail between her legs, and listen to people do 100 to 1 countdowns while she tortured herself with a dildo.
Her wedge heels clunked across the street as she lifted her chin and found the débutante smile that Mama had drilled into her by the time she was eleven. God, if Mama knew where she was tonight—her snort of laughter ruined the whole image, but it relaxed her.
There was a guy at the door, more than a bouncer, but less than a doorman. He took the invitation that Helen had passed her, then checked Helen’s name against a list. “First time?” he asked.
“Yes,” Zoey replied, doing her best to look calm, bored, and too good for it all in classic New York fashion. Much better than giving in to the squealing girl inside her head.
The guy nodded. “Straight inside, there’s a small office. You’ll need to speak to Marie.” He gave her a less than subtle up and down look, then smiled. “Nice. Not trying too hard. That’ll help you out.”
He kept the invitation, and she went in.
The hallway was tastefully appointed, and looked more like the entrance to an art gallery than a kink club. The walls were a light gray, the floor a darkly stained hardwood. There was a small desk, and a woman with an expensive haircut and wine-red lipstick sat behind it. “Ms. Gardener?”
“Yes,” Zoey said, stepping across the floor. The other woman held out her hand, and Zoey shook it. “You must be Marie.”
Marie inclined her head, and gestured at the chair on the opposite side of the desk. Zoey sat. Mama’s voice echoed through her head—
make like you have a quarter between your knees
—and she banished it. This was not the time for etiquette lessons. Though she did remember to keep her knees together. In a brocade miniskirt, it wasn’t really optional. “I do apologize for this bit. Everyone comes in exciting to move forward into the experience, and we have to stop them at the door to fill out forms.” She gave a polite laugh that made it very clear that this was a speech. Zoey returned the laugh; back home, it would have been part of the conversation. “I understand that you’re a member of the press?”
Well. Helen had certainly been generous. “Yes.”
Marie passed the first piece of paper to her. “This is a fairly standard non disclosure agreement. To sum it up, write anything about anything you see or hear beyond that door—” she gestured at a tall, imposing, carved wooden affair, “and our doors are barred to you, permanently. There is no appeal process.”
Marie continued on with a few more forms. Failing to respect rules around consent would also result in an immediate ban, as would failure to use latex protection, regardless of any requests made by another person. Zoey handed over her cell phone, and got back a key that she could use to retrieve it from a bank of lockers that looked almost like post office boxes. “We strongly suggest that you spent your first night talking to people, learning the ropes, getting familiar with how things work here. We understand that everyone’s eager, but it’s possible to rush into something that your regret later, if you don’t take the time to make sure you’re comfortable.”
Zoey nodded at this sage advice, but she’d been lightly damp since Helen had dropped by this morning with the invitation. She wasn’t going to just fuck anyone, but if she had the option of something more than just a drink, she knew the odds were that she’d take it.
Marie opened the ornate wood door, and Zoey stepped through into a room that felt a bit like a green room in a theater. There was plush velvety seating, low lights, and make up mirrors along one wall. She checked her reflection. Everything looked like it always did—too-pale skin spattered with freckles, bright red hair up in a high ponytail. In the dim light, the smoky makeup she’d done around her green eyes made them seem wide and bright, and she’d chosen a light pink shade of subdued lipstick that enhanced the effect. The brocade skirt was chocolate brown, with swirls of plum purple and deep teal, and on top, she wore a white blouse bound with an black corset. The corset, she noted, was also doing its job of making her look like she had a lot more on top than she honestly did.
What had the bouncer meant, that she wasn’t trying so hard as other people? Maybe everyone else showed up wearing cat suits and assless chaps? She looked down at the length of her legs; she wasn’t at all accustomed to seeing so much of them at a time. If she walked into that room, and she was overdressed, she was walking right back out again, no matter what Helen said.
Instead, she pushed the door open, and found a room that reminded her more of, well, a speak easy setting in an old movie. It wasn’t so much the specific fashion that any one person was wearing, more that there was a certain dirty, gilded glamour to everything. Everyone looked perfect, pinned and primed, with the same soft shiny as marcelled waves. There wasn’t an assless chap anywhere to be seen. Also not in attendance: pole dancers, horrible porn soundtrack music, or handlebar mustaches.
Something inside her stomach that she hadn’t realized she was holding tight relaxed, just a little bit.
She scanned the bar and found Helen, her tight black curls twisted up into a messy bun, sipping at what looked like a champagne cocktail. Her friend looked absolutely delectable, dressed in a deep emerald blouse, perfectly set off by the deep brown of her skin, and charcoal gray slacks. Helen saw Zoey at about the same time, and wave a hand at her, patting the empty bar stool next to her. When Zoey stepped close, Helen offered her a very European kiss on the side of her cheek.
“Not at all what you expected?” Helen asked, sipping at her cocktail as she raised a hand at the bartender. Her accent was stronger than usual tonight. The cocktail was probably not her first.
“Not quite,” Zoey said. The bartender was pleasant enough to look at; a tall, lightly built man, light brown hair spiked up in front, and thick hipster glasses. “Pink Gin?”
“Of course,” the bartender said, and gave her a flirty smile that she suspected he gave to all the customers. It was sweet, though, and reassuring, and she felt her cheeks heat up.
Helen snickered next to her. “Country mouse.”
“And proud of it,” Zoey retorted. She bumped her shoulder against Helen’s, and the two of them laughed. She accepted her glass from the bartender, and sat down to survey the rest of the bar.
All in all, the patrons, other than their polished appearances, didn’t look all that different than the people she would see in any upscale bar. A handful of people had masked their features in some way. Some people wore domino masks, the kind that were just a band over the eyes; others wore half masks that looked like some sort of animal or creature. Others had kept their faces bare. There was quiet music playing through a high quality sound system, something instrumental that she didn’t entirely recognize. “So, what happens now?”
Helen patted her knee. “Now you settle down and wait a little bit. Marie gave you the speech?”
“Strongly discouraged, first night, write about us and you’ll be drawn and quartered.” Zoey nodded and sipped her drink. The bright flavor of the bitters made her eyes water just a touch, but she didn’t much mind.
Helen grinned around her cocktail. “Don’t laugh too much. She means it. This place is what it is because she takes care of people.”
“So we’re out for drinks and nothing else, is that it, sha?” Zoey winced inwardly. She’d been working on ramping back the drawl. It wasn’t that she minded, but she’d seen the way people looked at her when she let the southern creep into her voice more than a tiny bit. It wasn’t exactly that they thought she was an idiot. They just stopped taking her as seriously. She was instantly downgraded from serious writer to débutante. She had to fight hard enough to be taken seriously anyway. She didn’t need the extra “help.”
If Helen had noticed, she didn’t flinch. “I’m not your mum, love. I sure as fuck won’t buy anything you write about this place, but if you want to play? I’m not going to stop you.” Helen’s eyes flicked toward something, then back, as she raised her glass again. “And I don’t think the bloke in black will stop you either.”
“The bloke in—” How in the world had she missed him? Well, it was easy, really. The man Helen was talking about was sitting in the corner was wearing all black. A black button down shirt, open at the throat and rolled up at the elbows, black jeans that fit his hips and legs like they were tailored to him. His skin was a dark tan, far darker than she’d ever managed to tan in her life, and his eyes, highlighted by the black domino mask, were dark. She was too far away to pick up color, but she guessed a deep chocolate brown. And they were locked on her.
The urge was to look away, to flinch. She fought it. She met his gaze long enough to give him a slow smile, and then turn back to Helen like she was phenomenally unconcerned about the whole thing. Helen was watching her with a wide grin. “Do you know him?” Zoey asked.
“I don’t know his name,” Helen replied, “but he comes here often. Honestly, if you want someone to play with tonight, he’s a good choice. He knows the ropes, there aren’t any stories about him crossing lines or being pushy, and he’s choosey.”
“Have you played with him?”
Helen raised one eyebrow. “You know damn well you’re my type more than he is.”
Zoey stuck her tongue out at her friend, and Helen laughed.
It was only a few minutes before the bartender came over with another martini glass. “From the gentleman on the end,” he said, his smile genuine. “If you care to accept?”
Zoey glanced at Helen, and when her friend gave her an encouraging nod, she picked up the glass. She caught the eye of the man in black—easy, since he was still watching her from his dark corner—and tipped her head in thanks.
It was a few minutes more before he left his glass—a rocks glass, filled with an amber liquid—and walked over to Zoey and Helen. “Hello,” he said to Zoey, offering his hand. “Could I interest you in a dance?”
Zoey bit her lip, glanced at Helen one more time, and then finished off her dose of liquid courage. “I’m interested in you, sha,” she said, and cursed herself again, then found her smile and carried on. “But it’s not dancing I’m looking for tonight.”
His eyes were brown. Deep, dark, rich brown, brown that she could tumble into for ages and ages. Brown that heated up her entire soul—never mind her soul, his eyes were heating up her body, trailing up and down her form like she was already naked, and he was reveling in her presence. His eyebrows rose at her boldness, but his lips tugged up into a smile, and she didn’t think he was even a little bit off put by her straight forward response.
“If you’d like,” he said, “give me five minutes to arrange one of the private rooms.” He gave her a little nod and then stepped away.