Authors: Cynthia Dane
Tags: #Billionaire Romance
“I take it you are well?” Ethan fixed his jacket as he relaxed into the leather seating. He did not put on his seatbelt.
Jasmine glanced away from the tinted windows and remembered who she was with. At this point she still had her red coat on, so Ethan Cole was looking right at her face. Or her hair, since her head was turned most of the time. “I’m fine. You?”
“Good. In response to both.” The limo already stopped at a red light. “We don’t have very far to go. I hope you like French food. The place we’re going to is one of my favorites.”
“I’ve never had French food before.”
“I see. Then it will be a good chance to broaden your horizons.”
Jasmine did not respond.
What do you say to a billionaire who wants to bone you?
Especially ones also trying to patronize her?
She kept her hands folded in her lap as she looked around the limo, sniffing the air freshener and running her hands along felt and leather. The ride was smooth, as she expected from a machine of this caliber, but she could still feel the familiar whirring of a car going down a busy road. If she didn’t do these things she would be forced to acknowledge the awkward silence in the limo.
“I’m glad you decided to discuss this with me,” Ethan said, pulling out his large smartphone and punching something in. When Jasmine became worried that he was going to ignore her for texts and emails, Ethan put his phone away again and crossed his legs. “I was worried that I had scared you off.”
“Let’s wait to discuss it when I have some food in my stomach.” Jasmine had not eaten since her light breakfast of fruit and toast.
“As you wish.”
The discomfort Jasmine felt as the limo cruised down the road was something that she did not think she would ever feel before. While thus far Ethan was the perfect gentleman, Jasmine had not forgotten his original terms. This man wanted a sub, and he wanted that sub to be her. Whatever his reason for choosing her did not matter. He could be psychic and decided that she was the perfect woman for him, including her beauty, her smarts, her humor, and the way she walked down the hallway. But it was not enough to entice Jasmine at the moment. She was aware that this man really only wanted her for one thing, and she wasn’t sure that she was ready to give up that one thing to him yet. Hence why she wanted to keep the business talk for the restaurant. If they were surrounded by people, even strangers, it was still better than being alone in the back of this strange man’s limo.
They continued to ride in silence all the way to the restaurant, which they arrived at about five minutes later. The limo pulled up along the curb, Ethan being the first to get out and insisting that Jasmine stay in the car. Like a proper gentleman, he rounded the car and opened her door for her. “Allow me, Miss Bliss.” Ethan extended his hand.
Jasmine was hesitant to take his hand into hers. This would be the first time they touched since their initial handshake, and she wasn’t sure what to expect. He probably had soft hands, the kind that hadn’t worked hard much of his life. She couldn’t imagine this man out toiling in any field, garden, or even yard. Did self-made billionaires still have to weed their own lawns? Of course they didn’t. Jasmine didn’t doubt that this man had about one-billion people working for him. A billion people for a billion dollars.
She was not disappointed when she took his hand and discovered that he must’ve used some special Dove soap. Or at least no special Dove soap she ever got at Target
You idiot. This man must buy soap from a different country altogether. Probably somewhere in Europe.
Disgusted, Jasmine got out of the limo and promptly took her hand out of his. She turned away with a huff, her purse swinging behind her and smacking him on the arm.
She didn’t know where they were going, so Ethan came up behind her, took her by the arm, and led her toward the French restaurant. Nevertheless, Jasmine refused to admit defeat, and kept her nose firmly up in the air as she walked in stride with his steps.
The maître d’ waited for them at the front of the restaurant. “Good evening, Monsieur. Would you like your regular table?”
“If it’s available, that is.” Ethan straightened his tie, as if he had to impress the maître d’. Jasmine rolled her eyes, and she was sure it would not be the last time that night.
“The table’s always reserved for you Sir.” The maître d’ winked at Ethan. They shared a knowing look, and Jasmine figured that this was not the first time they had an exchange like this in front of one of Ethan’s dates. Even when a billionaire, a man cannot help himself in trying to impress a woman.
And even though Ethan apparently owned this table in this fancy French restaurant, he still had the maître d’ escort them to the back of the restaurant. There the lights were low, soft even, but not too dim that Jasmine could not see what was going on. For one thing, there was nobody else around. No tables, no waiters, and certainly no cleaning staff or stragglers. This meant they would have plenty of privacy… exactly what Jasmine did not want that night.
Ethan pulled out Jasmine’s chair for her, while the maître d’ pulled out Ethan’s chair. Jasmine smoothed the length of her skirt along the back of her legs before she sat down. Menus plopped down in front of her, but Ethan did not look at his after sitting down. Instead, he seemed content to stare at her from across the table. Jasmine supposed that most women would be quite flattered to have such a handsome and disgustingly rich man stare at her for so long. Almost adoringly, really. He had the kind of look about him that could soften up most women. Jasmine, however, did not want to become his next victim so willingly. So she opened up the menu and read a bunch of French words she had no idea the meaning to. Although the corner of her mouth twitched as she tried to make them out, she remained resolved that Ethan would never catch on.
“If you need help with that,” Ethan said as he reached to take her menu, “I would be more than delighted to teach you some French tonight.”
“That won’t be necessary. I know Spanish.” Jasmine knew how ridiculous that sounded, but she retained her serious face and stared at the French words, intent on making sense of them. As long as she didn’t order a frog, she would be okay.
Whether Ethan thought she was stupid, funny, or anything else, he did not let on. But within another few seconds, he hailed over a waiter and ordered a bottle of wine and a meal. One last look at Jasmine told him what he had to do. He ordered something for her as well.
The waiter took both of their menus and walked away, leaving Jasmine to stare blankly at the table. “I could have figured it out,” she said. “First thing you should know about me is that I am a very quick learner.”
“Of course,” Ethan said. “It was on your résumé after all.”
They were silent again for a while. Jasmine pretended that she was not enthralled by the decorations of this French restaurant. She didn’t even know what the name was. And even if she did, she doubted she would know how to pronounce it. She would not give Ethan the satisfaction of telling her what it was, or how he had spent half his life in France growing up, or how he once had a French model for a girlfriend, or how he once made love to this French girlfriend speaking nothing but French.
Does he want to have sex with me in French?
Jasmine kicked herself for thinking of such a thing right now.
“Tell me, Miss Bliss,” Ethan said as he sloshed some water around in his glass. “What made you change your mind and decide to call me after all?”
Jasmine didn’t want to deign him with a response. But she had to say something eventually, so she said, “You have to understand my situation.”
“And what situation is that?”
I’m poor. I’m in debt. At the rate I’m going I will never see the unpolluted sunshine again.
“I don’t have many options,” she said. “I’m not going to say that I am desperate, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for someone like you.”
Ethan did not react.
“Even though I’m hesitant, I feel that I would accept a job offer in an instant. There’s just, you know, that one other part of the deal.” Jasmine cleared her throat. “I don’t suppose it would be possible to get the job without the other stuff?”
“Well, that was part of the deal.”
“But why? Why in the world would a man like you have to essentially hire a woman to do something like that?”
They halted their conversation as the waiter arrived with their red wine. He poured them both a glass and left them to their drinks. Ethan picked up his glass, sniffed its contents, and took a sip before putting it back down again. “Like I said back in my office, I don’t have time to run around looking for a new girlfriend. I am a busy man, and as it is I don’t have much time to enjoy myself. It’s much easier to find a woman who seems compatible with me and make an offer. That way we have a contracted time to enjoy ourselves, and then we either renew, or she goes along her way.”
“Is that what happened to your last, what do I call her, girlfriend? Did her contract go up and she decided to move on?”
“That’s half true. Her contract finished. But it was I who decided to let her go. It’s amazing how much cleaner of a breakup it is too. No fuss, no muss. And on top of it, she gets a nice note on her résumé, and I write her a very, very nice recommendation.”
“Dare I ask how long her contract lasted before you decided to dump her?”
“I didn’t ‘dump’ her, as you put it. We decided to go our separate ways at the end of the business contract.”
“It’s not so weird if it’s what works for you. But I’m not here for you to judge me.”
“No, you’re here to judge me, aren’t you?”
Ethan leaned forward, his elbows on the table. “We are always being judged, Miss Bliss. For example, I have in fact been judging you ever since I met you on Monday in the atrium. My initial judgment of you was that you are a beautiful woman. What exactly went through my head I will not share with you right now. After all, it’s simply a first date. But I decided to take a chance on you. I invited you up to my office for an interview, in which I judged you most profusely, both as an employer and as a potential lover. I daresay, you passed both tests. I will not pretend that what I asked of you was not strange in the least. You may think I live on another plane of reality, but I’m a man like many others. I just have come into a part of my life where I can literally afford to do whatever I want.”
“Like pick up your own prostitutes off the street?”
“Is that what you think this is?” To his credit, Ethan Cole seemed to be aghast by such an insult. “I can assure you that I do not think of any woman on the street as being a potential prostitute in my life. I’m sorry if I made you feel that way. I don’t think any less of you if you decide to go with me or not. It’s your decision.”
“A decision that could follow me for the rest of my life. I don’t know you from Adam. What if you hurt me? What if somebody finds out and I’m made to be the laughing stock in my industry? Nobody will care what you do. They will focus entirely on me.”
“That’s something you’ll never have to worry about,” Ethan said, with a smile big enough to dash out the sun. “I’ve been doing this for a while, and no one has ever found out. Because quite frankly, it’s none of their business.”
They were silent again, mostly because they had reached this impasse. Jasmine didn’t know if she was disgusted or intrigued. “So tell me, even just to sate my curiosity, what it is you want these women to do for you. And you know what I mean.”
“I like a lot of things, Miss Bliss.” Ethan turned his head slightly, and the light caught his profile, casting shadows. He was handsome. There was no denying that. Under any other circumstance Jasmine may have gone out on a real date with him. This was, of course, assuming that he had been normal in his approach. Maybe talking her up in a bar. Or sending her an email on a dating site. Not whatever the hell he had done in his office. “But I’m not delusional. I know how difficult it is for a man in my position to get a date that might actually go somewhere. I quickly grew tired of wooing women and wondering if it was worth ‘love.’ Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy a good romantic date. But women quickly become tired of how busy I am. Even if I like you, I still may only talk to you once every two weeks. That’s the nature of the game I’m caught up in. It became easier to simply create these sorts of contracts with women. They know what to expect, and I know I won’t waste my time. In the end, we’re all happier for it.”
Jasmine wasn’t sure about that last part. “And what is it that you want, Mr. Cole? The word ‘sub’ can mean so many things.”
“Indeed.” Ethan poured some more wine into his glass. Jasmine had yet to touch hers. “Before you fret, I’m not into violence. Everything I do with a woman must be something she’s consented to. What that something is… well.” Ethan Cole wasn’t the kind of man who blushed. Instead he smiled as if he owned the whole damn world.
He probably thinks he does.
Now Jasmine took a drink. She needed something to hide the scowl crawling onto her countenance. “I like to be in control. I’m busy, so I need someone who can drop whatever she’s doing to be with me. Being my assistant gives you ample opportunity. After all, can’t piss off the boss if it’s the boss telling you to hold off on answering emails so we can, you know…”
“How blunt.” Jasmine could use a blunt right now. “You can say it, Mr. Cole. Have sex. I’m not pretending that’s not part of the deal.” Here came those sinking feelings of being nothing more than a prostitute.
But two million dollars!
Everyone had their potential price. “I’m just concerned what kind of sex it is. No one is going to slap me and call it foreplay.”