Authors: Jasmine Haynes
An exclusive and secret agency, for over two hundred years Courtesans has specialized in providing entertainment of a sexual nature. Its clients are rich, powerful, and influential men and women, and one only meets a courtesan through referral from trusted sources. Courtesans facilitates bringing together men and women to satisfy any sexual need imaginable, matching the perfect courtesan with just the right client. The agency prides itself on training its courtesans, male and female, to interpret and fulfill its clients greatest fantasies, even the secret ones no one dares to say aloud. The price is high, but everyone who’s ever had the pleasure of a date with a courtesan will agree, the fantasy is worth every penny.
Mine Until Morning (Book 3)
Every Courtesan has a price…and a secret.
“The Only Way Out,”
Mac Dawson is determined to look after his widowed sister-in-law…who just happens to lead a secret life as a courtesan. He can’t stop her, but with a little help from Madam Isabel, he’ll make sure her secret is safe. But can he find a way to make sure he’s the only man to share her bed?
Cleo thought her luck with men had finally changed, but when she discovers that Walker Randall is a paid courtesan, she feels doomed to always meet
Wrong Kind of Man.”
Will Walker change his lifestyle…or simply teach Cleo how right a courtesan can be?
Isabel, Madam of Courtesans, has seen it all…but she never thought she’d see Royce again. He was the love of her life, and now he wants to be with her, hot and happily ever after. Can he handle knowing that Isabel is not only a madam, but a courtesan herself—or are there really
“No Second Chances.”
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2010 by Jennifer Skullestad.
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Heat trade paperback edition / December 2010
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Haynes, Jasmine.
Mine until morning / Jasmine Haynes.—Heat trade pbk. ed. p. cm. eISBN : 978-1-101-44572-3
To Rose Lerma, my wonderful friend
Thanks to Kathy Coatney and Rita Hogan for all the encouragement. To my editor, Wendy McCurdy, for giving me the opportunity to write Isabel’s story (since I was dying to!). And to Lucienne Diver for all her support.
The Only Way Out
THE ONLY WAY OUT
The Only Way Out
DANI DAWSON WAS DROWNING. EVERY TIME SHE THOUGHT SHE HAD a handle on the bills, she’d find another unexpected statement in the mailbox. The vultures had swooped down on her before Kern was even cold in the ground, and the balance in the checking account was a mere one hundred forty dollars and change.
The walls of her sunflower yellow kitchen closed in on her. The burn in her belly had risen to her chest. If she’d been a crying person, she would have laid her head on the kitchen table littered with unpaid bills and let loose an ocean of tears; for herself, for Kern, for all his pain, his dying, everything they’d lost. She’d scattered Kern’s ashes a week ago, on a September day too bright for mourning. Now she missed him like hell.
But Dani was long past the tears. Instead, she picked up her cell phone. Kern would understand what she had to do. She hit a speed dial. Isabel answered on the second ring. “How are you doing, kiddo?”
“I’m fine, thanks for asking.” Dani forced cheer into her voice. “I could really use a date tonight if you can whip up something fast.”
Isabel gave a full five-second pause, an eternity. “You know, Dani, you can give it a little bit more time.”
Dani swallowed, her eyes aching, but she gritted her teeth. She had to get through this. She’d cried in the early days, when they’d first learned about Kern’s cancer. She’d never let him see her tears. She’d been strong and stoic for him in the ensuing year of treatments that didn’t work, mounting medical bills, and the rising fear that he might actually die. Six months ago, when the cancer spread to his kidneys, she’d finally broken down, but not in front of him. No, she’d reserved that mortifying moment for Kern’s brother, Mac. He’d been kind, comforting, but that was the last time she’d lost a grip on herself. She hadn’t cried the day they’d decided to bring hospice into the house—Kern hadn’t wanted to die in a hospital—or ten days ago when he passed away. Not even when she and Mac had flown out over the ocean on that bright and sunny day and let Kern’s ashes blow to the four winds.
She would not do it now. If she started, she would never stop.
“Isabel, I appreciate your concern. It’s very sweet. But I’m fine. The hard 8
The Only Way Out
part is over. I’m glad he isn’t suffering anymore. Kern would want me to move on.” God, that seemed pathetically justifying. “And I need the money.” Oddly, the truth sounded better.
“Dani, honey, I can help out—”
“Please, Isabel.” God, no. She didn’t want charity. She’d never lied. Isabel always knew it was about the money. Sure, Dani loved sex, and it was a kick to get paid for it, but she’d only become a courtesan when the money dried up and the medical expenses didn’t. When they were doing well financially, they’d occasionally splurged, using Isabel’s special agency for a little variety. Dani’s sex drive had always burned a few degrees hotter than Kern’s, but he loved to watch.
They’d made the decision together that working for Isabel and Courtesans was the perfect solution. Isabel had been more than willing to help, of course.
“Call it a loan, Dani.”
Dani snorted. “I owe too much money already.” She massaged a temple. “I’m really okay with this. If you can find one of my regulars, great. But someone new, that’ll work, too.” Yeah, she was getting desperate. She hoped it didn’t show in her voice. She would get through this difficult time. And she would do it alone. Kern would have hated anyone knowing how bad things had gotten for them. His biggest fear had been Mac finding out how they’d screwed up. Five years younger than his brother, Kern never felt he measured up. Aw hell, why not admit the truth? She was not going to lean on Isabel or Mac to get her through. She wouldn’t depend on anyone. She’d let Kern make far too many decisions, and look where it had gotten her. She wasn’t about to give up her autonomy again.
Besides, this was just sex, and she loved sex. It might be the only way out, but it wasn’t such a bad way.
“I don’t want to see you push yourself too quickly, sweetie,” Isabel said.
“You’ve been through something terribly traumatic.”
“I know that.” Dani’s voice quavered. It was all she could do to stuff the emotion back down. “But I”—suddenly starving for air, she gulped a breath—“I really need this. I—I just need it. Please.” It was almost begging. “If it’s someone I haven’t been with before, could you make sure they’re okay with cash?”
Many clients paid in gifts: jewelry, artwork, trips. Dani worked on a strictly 9
The Only Way Out
cash basis. She had no set price. It depended upon the patron and what they wanted, but Isabel didn’t cater to an overly thrifty clientele. Isabel sighed. “All right, you win. Let me see what we’ve got going. Will tomorrow night work, too?”
“Yes,” Dani answered, feeling a small surge of relief. Tonight, tomorrow night, every night until she could get out from under this weight. “Thanks.”