Authors: Lauren Hawkeye
The Arrangement: The Chase
For Gale and Melody for helping me get this one in shape... your help means the world!
First, thank you for picking up my book! If you have a copy of this in your hot little hands,
then I sincerely thank you for taking the time to check it out.
Most people I meet tell me that I have the coolest job ever. And they’re right—being an author is better than anything I could have dreamed. But sometimes, going from deadline to deadline can start to feel a little less than inspiring. Sometimes, as a writer, we need to get back to our roots and write something just for ourselves, just for the love of writing.
When I heard that HM Ward had opened up The Arrangement, a series that I love, to KindleWorlds, one of those
just for me
projects was born. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!
So kick back and enjoy the ride with Carly, Adam, and those Ferro characters that you know and love. I’d love to hear what you think... you can contact me through either of my websites,
or on Twitter
And if you like reading contemporary romance with a lot of heat, then I hope you’ll check out my new release
tten as Lauren Jameson.
From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Lauren Hawkeye/ Lauren Jameson...
Carly Daniels grew up in the gutter and thought she’d been through the worst life had to offer. She’s scraped and clawed her way to a college scholarship, but a betrayal from her own mother shows her that life doesn’t always play fair. Sick of scrabbling to make ends meet, Carly finds the answer to her need for quick cash in a job as a high priced call girl for the mysterious and kinda scary Miss Black.
Rocker Adam Kincaid isn’t interested in women. At least, he never has been before. But something about the determined, fresh faced young escort pulls at him. He tries to write it off as momentary insanity, but when fate drops the scrappy, sexy brunette in his lap, he rethinks his position.
Adam does what any sane, hedonistic rock star would do... he kidnaps her. His goal?
Chase her down, no matter her preconceptions of him...
Chase her down, and make her his.
This story features appearances by Sean Ferro, Miss Black, Henry Thomas and Trystan Scott.
Am I really going to do this?
A bead of cold sweat slips down my spine as I stop for a moment at the base of the glass skyscraper. I’m flushed all over from the bike ride here—living on the most meagre of student loans means I can’t afford a car, not even a shitty one—but my clammy skin has little to do with the physical exertion, or with the unseasonable warmth of the early fall day.
I’m here because I have no other choice. But the way my body has unconsciously locked my legs in place makes me wonder if I can go through with it.
“Get it together, Daniels.” I whisper to myself, hands forming fists, the nails digging into my palms until it hurts. I’m a survivor—I can do this. But as I try to force myself to move forward, to enter the building that holds my fate, I’m knocked to the side.
“Hey!” I grunt, momentarily distracted from my worries. Rubbing my shoulder I turn to glare at the man who couldn’t be bothered to watch where he was going.
Insanely blue eyes blaze into mine with irritation in a face that’s in desperate need of a shave, and a shiver of a different kind skitters over my skin, erasing the gutter words that threaten to fall from my lips. The man is tall and dark and absolutely gorgeous.
But the coldness in his eyes makes me recoil, makes me physically step away. Th
e angry words freeze on my lips.
Growing up in a trailer park on the wrong side of town, I’ve come across more than my fair share of questionable people. But this guy... the ruthlessness in his eyes stops me right in my tracks.
I’d like to live, so no way in hell am I telling him off.
He nods at me once, that short jerk of the head men do, and it’s more
apology than I figured I’d get, belying my initial thoughts about him. And then he’s gone, a sleek cell phone held to his ear.
“Sean Ferro,” he barks as he stalks away. I can feel the tension in my body easing the further away the man gets.
That man gave off some massive serial killer vibes.
serial killer ones. I’m not dead. I just won’t be taking him home.
Not that I take anyone home, ever. I have issues like that.
As he leaves I note that, strangely, my nerves ramping up in his presence and then easing as he left has lessened my anxiety over what I’m here to do.
“You don’t have a choice, Carly.” I mutter to myself as I wipe my palms on the thighs of my yoga pants. “
I can’t lie, it’s
the last one that gets my ass moving. Growing up, Mom’s man of the month generally ensured that I was fed, but it wasn’t always enough. And I like to eat.
I hold on to my semblance of calm through the lobby of the
building, all the way up the elevator, and even as I push through the unmarked entry that I’ve only visited once before. The interior of the building is all sleek marble and chrome, but I don’t goggle at it the way I did the first time I was here—I’m too distracted.
But when the glass door
of my destination closes behind me with a quiet hiss, and I register the overwhelming silence inside the empty office, the tension slams back through my body like I’m standing in the tracks of a runaway train.
“You’re late.” The
dark-haired woman I know only as Miss Black stands in front of the large window, arms crossed tightly over her chest. Her feet, clad in severe looking black pumps, are still—I get the impression that foot tapping with impatience would be all too commonplace for her.
“I—I—” The cold sweat starts again, beading on my forehead as I glance at my watch
, a young girl’s flower covered plastic monstrosity that I found at a thrift store but that I liked the cheerfulness of. I was due here at seven, and it’s precisely seven oh one. I’m actually pretty proud of the time I made in city traffic on my second-hand bike.
I find it a little strange that she’s this visibly irritated
. Last time I saw her, when I got my pictures taken and my blood work done, when I filled out my shudder worthy sheet of preferences—and no, you may
put it there, guys—she was full of warm compliments and promises, anything I wanted to hear that might make me accept this job.
I’ve understood since I met her that she’s not a woman to cross, but this is ridiculous. Also, I’m not so good with authority.
My teeth clench, an instinctive reaction, and I want to tell this sleek woman to fuck off, but I can’t.
ed this job too badly. I’m so sick of living hand to mouth, never mind the latest Mom crisis. Plus in this moment her barely suppressed rage makes the guy I ran into downstairs look like one of those adorable LOLCats that litter the internet.
So I bite back the nasty response that is sitting heavy on my tongue,
which is bitter going down, and instead raise my chin with an apology I don’t feel. “I’m sorry. I rode my bike here, and it took a little bit longer than I thought it would.”
Miss Black’s face
is perfectly blank for a moment, then somehow manages to register a sneer, even though I’m not entirely convinced that her features have actually moved. “You rode a bike? A motorcycle? Or a bicycle?”
For all the disdain dripping from her voice, she might as well have asked me if I rode a camel.
This makes me cranky. There’s nothing wrong with riding my bike. It’s exercise. It saves on pollution. Plus a million other things.... like, I can’t afford a fucking car.
A bicycle. And yes, I did. But now I know how long it takes. It won’t happen again.” I smile brightly, as brightly as I can manage, holding up my battered canvas backpack. “I just need to change.”
“Indeed.” This time the disdain isn’t at all subtle. Miss Black looks me up and down, taking in my Walmart leggings, the sweaty grey T-shirt. “This is not an acceptable way to arrive for an eveni
ng with a client, Miss Daniels.”
. I’m not planning to stay like this, which I just freaking told her, so I make a noise of protest, but Miss Black has turned, striding across the room that can best be described as
, and the power and grace in her stride tells me I’m expected to follow.
“I’m going to change. I have my dress in here. It will just take a minute.” I catch up with her
just in front of her desk, a lake-sized sheet of thin glass that tops elegantly spiralled metal legs. The clear surface reflects the natural light that fills the spacious room, courtesy of the wide windows.
twilight in New York City. And as the day melts into night, and I meet Miss Black’s eyes, I know that I’m about to change, too, just like the light.
“I’m aware of how long it will take
, Miss Daniels.” Her voice conveys no emotion whatsoever, and yet manages to be terrifying. “That is not the point. The
is that I cannot have girls who look the way you do at this moment be seen entering this office. Are you listening?”
Captivated by the amazing view out of the massive window, I had dared to steal a sideways glance at the darkening light, but when she snaps at me, I drag my stare back quickly. “Yes, ma’am.”
I thought she’d like the respect of being called ma’am, but there’s a flicker of something that passes through those dark eyes that warns me not to call her that again.
I hold my breath, waiting for the lecture, but she simply carries on. “
I can charge the fees that I do because my girls are walking, talking fantasies.
fantasies, Miss Daniels—you are to become whatever the client wants you to be. Seeing one of those fantasies dressed like she was born in a dumpster ruins that illusion and lowers the price, because I assure you, none of the men who come here are interested in trailer park chic. Do you understand?”
“I—” Well, when she puts it that way, yes, I understand perfectly.
Red flushes my cheeks, and I feel like the white trash she just called me—not an unfamiliar feeling for me. In fact, her comment hits entirely too close to home, like no matter how I act or dress, I’ll never be able to wash my past off of me.
The harder I try not to screw this up, the more I do so.
How the fuck am I going to get to work then?
I can’t ride my bike in the dress that is currently folded neatly in my bag, waiting to cover my skin. Okay,
is being generous. I’d flash all of Manhattan if I wore that thing on a bike.
Plus... though she hasn’t used the exact words, I kinda get the impression that riding the bike at all is not an acceptable way for a Black’s girl to get around town.
“Is transportation going to be an issue?” Miss Black pins me with a stare, even as she moves to the desk that dominates one of the utterly boring, monochromatic walls. In this, my brief brush with the wealthy, I’ve come to the conclusion that
“I won’t allow it to be.” Though I want to look away, I don’t let myself. Miss Black... I can’t help but compare her to a shark.
And not one of those little white tips or whatever that are essentially just giant fish—she’s a predator like a great white, circling silently before sinking in her teeth.
I’m pretty sure that if I show her any weakness, she’ll tear me to pieces.
So rough start and all, I just won’t show her any.
I’ve fought off my share of my mom’s erstwhile boyfriends while keeping a smile on my face that meant they would keep paying our bills. I can handle a frigid Manhattan madame.
Miss Black studies me for a moment with inscrutable eyes. Forcing myself not to break the stare, I instead focus on the fine lines that branch out from the corners of her eyes.
She is more put together than any woman I’ve ever met, and yet those lines don’t lie... she must be in her forties, maybe even more.
She looks damn good, but... wow, that’s old.
I wonder how s
he got here, like this—pimping out fresher models to rich men.
I’d be out of my fucking mind to ask.
Bending over the massive desk, Miss Black withdraws an envelope from the drawer. It’s not a thin paper envelope like you’d buy in a box at the post office, but is the color of coffee cream, the material thicker than paper. Maybe linen. Opening it, she withdraws a thick stack of...
Surely that’s not cash.
Nobody keeps that much cash in their desk.
In such close proximity to more money than I’ve ever seen before, m
y heart begins to thud, pounding against my ribcage.
“I’ll give you an advance on your earnings to purchase appropriate transportation. You will, of course, be obliged to remain long enough to work it off.” The
coolness in those obsidian eyes of hers tells me that only an idiot would try to do otherwise. The thought gives me pause, but more than fear of accepting the money, is fear of what she’ll do if I don’t.
My fingers are
ice cold as I hesitantly reach for the cash. The stack is thick, crisp, and though I don’t dare count it in front of her, the bill on the top is a hundred. Despite my efforts to play it cool, I can hear myself suck in a breath.
How much money does she think I’m going to make? How long will it take to earn this back? I’m
decent looking, and probably more importantly, mostly willing to be here... but I’m nobody special. It could take forever.
No matter what her reaction will be, i
t’s on the tip of my tongue to refuse the cash, never mind that this is more money than I’ve ever held in my hand before—more money than I’ve ever seen. But it’s not mine yet, and I should say no. I don’t like owing anything to anyone.
I catch the tightening of her expression, the slightly cruel curve of her lips, and I think twice.
I may not be all that worldly, or even all that smart. But
no matter how many compliments she dispenses, I’m dead certain that Miss Black is not a woman that you want to cross.
“That’s settled then.” Miss Black places the
fancy envelope with its remaining cash back in the desk drawer—
Jesus, she doesn’t keep that kind of money locked up?—
and rounds the desk again, heading for... is that a scale? Yes, a doctor’s office style scale, over which is draped a seamstress’ measuring tape.
I’m startled, and it must show on my face, because Miss Black starts to heave an exasperated sigh. With visible effort, she cuts it off halfway, pasting
what I imagine is her version of a warm smile on her face.
“I told you about this, Miss Daniels.
” Right. I remember that... sort of. I was somewhat derailed by the sheet of preferences that I was made to fill out—being asked if you’re amenable to ball gags and breast bondage will do that to a girl. “The reason that you must check in with me before every appointment is so that I can monitor your weight, your measurements, and the clothing you’ve chosen for the evening.” Fixing her face in stern lines, she gestures me onto the scale. “Since you’re not dressed yet, we’ll get this over with first, then you can get ready. And quickly.”