Authors: Cynthia Dane
Tags: #Billionaire Romance
That was just when she considered the work. Being the personal assistant to one of the most powerful men in the country certainly had its appeal. She would go for it if that’s all it was. But sex, too? Ethan didn’t know anything about her. His instant attraction – lust, really – for her was based purely on her appearance. In a way it was flattering. How could it not be? Ethan Cole thought she was beautiful. Gorgeous. Sexy. That was a big enough compliment to fuel Jasmine’s ego for a month.
He thinks I’m so hot he’s offering me money for sex!
He didn’t even want it for free. Two million bucks to fuck him?
But it was perpetual. A contract. Who the hell did that?
He wants me to be his sexual submissive…
Jasmine only had a vague idea of what that meant. Cuffs? Blindfolds? Orgasm denial? She had read the fantasy books and seen the more innocent stuff play out in softcore movies. Jasmine never once thought that she would be into that, but maybe…
Really? Be sexually submissive to a man – even if it was Ethan Cole – for a boatload of cash? Tax free? What would Jasmine do with so much money?
Move. Invest. Retire early.
She saw a future living on the outskirts of the city, or maybe in a country abode where rent was cheap and she didn’t have to worry about finding work. Pick up a hobby that could bring in some spare change, but didn’t have to be her livelihood. Help out her friends and volunteer more. Hell, she’d ship Selena and Juan off with a hefty chunk of change if they would accept it. The more Jasmine thought about carrying around two-million dollars, the more she almost gave in to the temptations.
But Ethan Cole.
She could see him sitting in front of her, giving her that pensive look of his that said he knew what he was about and that he wanted her. Jasmine hadn’t noticed it earlier. She may have been dreaming it up now. But she swore that man burned his lust into her soul and made her rebel against him because that’s what she thought she was supposed to do. Good girls didn’t give themselves to powerful men. Certainly not for money. Good girls went into debt to get a degree and then give themselves to the mean teat of capitalism. Jasmine smoothed out Ethan Cole’s note across her lap and stared at her cell phone beside her.
Was she a good girl?
“Hello.” That voice, deep yet so soft, drifted into Jasmine’s ear as she held the phone to her head. “Who is calling?”
The way he said it implied he damn well knew who was calling. “Jasmine. Jasmine Bliss.”
“Ah, Miss Bliss. Have you reconsidered my offer?”
Damn jerk jumped right into it! Jasmine could picture him now, sitting behind that huge desk as he signed some document and spoke into the phone. Of course, he was probably home by now. Or did billionaires still stay late after work to finish their acquisitions and mergers? Inquiring minds wanted to know.
Jasmine had some choice words for Mr. Cole before this went on any further. Yet as she opened her mouth, he said, “I want you to know, Miss Bliss, that I have been thinking about you ever since you left this office. My original intention was to write you off and to continue with my search. But there was something about that fire inside of you – the way you told me off, for sure – that made me reconsider and decide to hold out hope that you would call. And here you are.”
Don’t make me regret this.
“That’s sweet.” She had to say it through gritted teeth to keep from snapping at him. But then he would probably think she was an even bigger piece of meat to buy. “I was in fact wondering if the offer was still on the table.”
“Of course it is. Why? Have you reconsidered?”
“Now hold on.” Blackbeard rubbed against Jasmine’s bare legs, mewling. Except he was a huge fat cat, and mewling sounded more like choking on a piece of hot dog.
That’s my libido state right now.
“I have a few questions before I sign any dotted line. Specifically about the… well, you know what.”
“Naturally. It’s a good and shrewd businesswoman who knows to ask questions. I don’t blame you. That’s why I propose we go out sometime this weekend and talk this over. Get to know one another a little bit. If there’s no chemistry whatsoever, then I think it’s safe to say that we should go our separate ways.”
“You mean like a date?”
The ensuing silence almost made Jasmine wonder if their call was dropped. “Sure. Like a date. What do you say, Miss Bliss? How about I take you somewhere nice for dinner this Friday? No expectations. Just two people getting to know each other and discussing business.”
Jasmine furrowed her eyes, which in turn made Blackbeard furrow his.
I get more empathy from a cat than another human being.
“No expectations. My expectation would be you taking that seriously. I’m not a woman who can be bought, Mr. Cole.”
“Of course not. I wouldn’t imagine.”
This is a bad idea.
Jasmine kept thinking it, and yet she refused to do anything about it – like hang up the phone. “I’m not sure how I feel about a ‘date,’ Mr. Cole, but I would be willing to have a private discussion to learn more about your… offer. I’ve been thinking about it. But as you can imagine, I have quite a few questions I would want thoroughly answered before making a final decision. You didn’t exactly pitch me something expected.”
“That sounds fine. Give me your address and I’ll come by and pick you up at 7 on Friday night. We’ll be going somewhere nice, so I suggest you dress your best.”
“Hell no I’m not giving you my address. Pick me up in front of your building.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Don’t want people talking even before I hire you.”
“Well, you’re not picking me up here. Pick somewhere downtown where a girl can walk safely after dark in the middle of winter. If you can.”
Ethan suggested the opera house, a well-lit place surrounded by cops because it’s where the city elite liked to hang out on the weekends. That way no one would think twice about Ethan Cole hanging around and inviting “pretty young women” into his car.
It was a date. Or not a date, since Jasmine refused to call it that. “Business meeting” passed through her lips more than once, and Ethan humored her. “Yes, a business meeting. We will talk a lot of business for sure, Miss Bliss.”
They were on such terms when Jasmine finally hung up two minutes later. She set her phone on the end table and gazed into the empty space before her, soon filled with the black and white fur of her fattest, most judgmental buddy. Blackbeard yowled in her lap.
Yeah, this was probably a bad idea, huh?
Going from talking to a billionaire about being a hired fling did not connect with her flipping through basic cable channels while settling into her rotting couch. And yet here she was, one of the “luckiest” women in the city.
“What the hell do I wear?”
It was Friday evening. Blackbeard wound his tail around Jasmine’s ankles and purred, although she was more concerned with what was going on in her closet. Or not going on, as was the case tonight.
She was due at the opera house soon.
I still have nothing to wear.
The problem with her clothes was that she had few nice dresses that weren’t either super cheap or falling apart. Sure, they were fine when she was going out to a nice dinner with friends, going to a party, a wedding, or other such things. But this was a meeting with Ethan Cole, and…
I want to make a good impression.
That’s what she told herself as she pulled dress after dress out of her closet. Oh no, this one had some mold growing on it. And
one had a frayed hem she didn’t know how to fix. Sighing, Jasmine sat on the edge of her bed and tried to avoid looking in the broken mirror hanging on the wall. The last time that happened she was sucked into a cycle of self-loathing because she was convinced she was hideous.
But if Ethan Cole thought she was beautiful enough to proposition… no, Jasmine couldn’t go down that road again either. Every time she thought of it she realized that she was seeing herself through the eyes of a man who wanted her sexually.
It had been a long while since Jasmine last had someone like that. Over a year, if she was thinking correctly. In truth, she had never been in a serious relationship before. She had dated, had sex, even been with the same person for more than a few months. But they were never more than friends who had sex. Jasmine didn’t see herself spending the rest of her life with most men she dated. She figured that was normal. But since moving into this dump she was forced to think about her life more critically than she ever had before.
Ethan Cole was a handsome man. A rich man. A man who made it clear he wanted to sleep with her, over and over. In the realm of the world it didn’t sound like a special offer. Yet Ethan was a very special man indeed.
Jasmine had to decide if she wanted to appeal to this man as a possible sexual companion or as someone vying to be his equal.
At her feet, Blackbeard yowled. Even he knew what a ridiculous consideration that was.
Of course I’m not his equal. I never will be.
The only way Jasmine would get that man to take her seriously was if she appealed to that base instinct. No time to wear a frumpy sweater-dress. Jasmine had to get out the nicest, sexed-up look in her wardrobe.
“My body’s a weapon,” she muttered as she unhooked a hanger in her closet and pulled out the only dress she had yet to finger that night. Silk. Red. Queen Anne. The skirt hugged her hips and legs until it ended above her knees. She had a pair of basic black shoes to wear with it, but deciding how she wanted to accentuate her bust was another matter. She could either leave it like it was, with her cleavage teasing of more to come, or she could put on a teardrop necklace and hope the illusion had Ethan Cole thinking of no one but her all night.
Jasmine went with nothing. The thought of something dipping into her cleavage all night was too much.
“Goodbye, Blackbeard.” She patted the top of her cat’s head before picking up her purse. “I’m off to sell my soul. And possibly my body. We’ll see how it plays out.”
The cat fell over on the bed, shaking the whole frame.
While it was not the first time Jasmine walked through her neighborhood dressed up after dark, it was the first time she was wholly aware of it. She was taking the bus to the opera house but still had to wait beside the street full of newspapers, fast food wrappers, and pieces of plastic that once belonged to all sorts of things. A skinny man wearing a wool hat shuffled around the bench where she sat but did not bother her. Until he took a call confirming that he “had the stuff.” Jasmine had never been so grateful for the bus’s arrival.
It was a fifteen minute ride to the opera house, during which Jasmine pulled out her phone and did the usual evening perusal of the local online job posting board. During this time of the day new ones went up, and if Jasmine was quick enough she could apply to everything she qualified for. Which she did on the bus, her thumb tapping “Submit” every time she found a job posting she could answer.
Submit. That’s what Ethan Cole wants me to do.
Nobody on that bus knew what had happened to Jasmine that week. Nor would they know, for the opera house came into view and the driver announced the stop. Jasmine was the only one who got off there.
There must have been a show going on that night, for a crowd of well-dressed people moseyed toward the building.
This was not thought through.
How was Jasmine supposed to find Ethan with so many people around?
He may have been the richest one here, but he was still a generic good-looking man in a designer suit when compared to the appearance of every other man under thirty-five in the surging crowd. Jasmine stood off to the side and took her phone out again. Maybe Ethan would text her when he arrived and saw this chaos for himself.
That echoing voice reached Jasmine’s ear in another second. She looked to her right. There, parked along the side of the avenue, was a black limo recently shined. Standing outside the nearest back door was Ethan. His shoes were also recently shined, his hair styled, and his suit tailored to fit every turn of his body. With the soft light of the streetlamp pouring onto him, handsome shadows played upon his visage and admittedly made Jasmine weak in the knees.
That’s where it should end.
There was nothing wrong with some rich jerk arousing Jasmine on sight. She was human, after all. But she was about to get in the back of this limo with a man she barely knew. A man who was used to getting what he wanted.
“Please, allow me.” Ethan opened the door and motioned for Jasmine to step in. She was still a good ten feet away from the limo, and the occasional opera house straggler passed between them to beat the crowd. It wasn’t until a winter’s chill claimed her that Jasmine darted for the comfort of a well-heated car.
I’ve never been in one of these things before.
Not even for her senior prom nearly a decade ago. Jasmine had seen the interiors of limos plenty of times in the movies, but she had a feeling that this was a man’s custom and personal limousine. She curled up on the far side of a plush leather couch, complete with seatbelt that was probably never used, and stared in awe at the easy-on-the-eyes lighting, the flat screen TV that folded down from the ceiling, the small wet bar, and enough USB and electrical docks to play a million iPods, iPhones, and iArmies. Jasmine almost forgot where she was until she heard the door slam behind her and felt the limo lurch forward down the avenue.