“Um where are you sleeping?” I’d seen the living room and dining area briefly as we walked through the doors and I knew this was too big for one person.
“Down the hall.” That familiar smirk was back on his face and I bit my lip.
“Maybe I should have my own room.” There was no maybe about it. Even if this suite was huge there had to be some written rule about boss and employee staying in the same place?”
“Worried you won’t be able to stay out of my bed?” The smirk deepened and I felt the color rise in my cheeks.
“Actually I’m worried you might forget which bed is yours.” My bitchiness was born of stark terror that he might be right
“I own this suite Miss Burns. If you’re too afraid to share it with me I’m sure that we can reserve you a room on one of the floors below.” There it was. Another challenge.
The realistic part of myself wanted to seek out that place far away from him, but the part that refused to back down took the lead. “As long as you don’t think this is anything but business I guess this will do.”
“Until you lose our bet I agree to those terms. But when you do lose, I’d suggest you embrace your inner whore.” He turned and walked out of the room leaving me staring at his way too attractive backside.
My inner what? The dream came back full force and his words slapped me in the face. Such a pretty little whore. Was that really how he saw me? Mortified, I sat down on the bed attempting to catch my breath.
Maybe my subconscious had seen through the reality of how he felt about me, but it made no sense. I’d done nothing to give him the impression I was easy. Or perhaps unwittingly I had with repudiating defeat over his challenges.
Refusing to allow that negative thought, I grew irate. He was the male pimp here hiring me to turn on his clients so that he could sweep in and take away their companies. How dare he think I was the type of woman that screwed a man to get what I wanted! He wanted a whore? He was going to get more than he ever bargained for tonight.
I was determined to turn the tables on him with Mr. Morale’s and win this damn bet with the devil. I’d do it with my clothes on and take that five thousand dollars toward my education and say adios. So what if I had to beg for my job at the coffee shop back and work twice as hard this year to obtain my goals.
I’d made it through worse shit than this in my life and even though my eyes filled with tears at the thought of being back to square one, I wasn’t trading respect for myself to work with an asshole like him. Swiping away a tear that escaped I put a game plan in motion. I might not be a whore but I was determined to get my due. The only screwing that would be going on tonight was with his head.
I realized I was cursing, well at least mentally. Working with him was already turning me into a person I wasn’t sure I liked. Lenny had told me once that foul language spoke negatively about a person and I’d taken those words to heart. I was usually good about using real words, even hanging around a best friend that swore like a sailor.
I needed to get away from his influence. Five thousand dollars would get me settled into a new apartment and hopefully tide me over long enough to start putting back money again. Firming my resolve I knew all I had to do was get through this weekend and I could get my life back on track. All this stuff he surrounded himself with was nice but beneath the fancy trappings I was still a better person than he could ever be.
With a plan of action in place I marched back into the living area and tried to keep my emotions hidden. He was standing at the island counter talking on the phone as I entered and his eyes roamed over me insultingly. Placing my hands on my hips, I tapped my foot impatiently waiting for him to finish his conversation.
A dark eyebrow lifted over his blue eyes and he seemed amused by my impatience. I bit my lip so stop from calling him the ass that I thought he was at the moment. After what seemed like an eternity he finally ended his call. “Is there something I can help you with Miss Burns?”
“What time is our meeting tonight?” I gritted my teeth to stop the vile words spinning through my mind aching to be unleashed.
“Eager to begin pleasing me?” I felt like throwing a temper tantrum, but fought the need and instead smiled with confidence that I didn’t feel.
“What I’m eager to do is explore the city, but I need to know what time I need to be back.” I refused to give into his baiting and from his surprised expression it was the right choice to make.
“It would be remiss of me to allow such a beautiful young lady to be on her own in New York. I’ll accompany you.”
The thought of spending the day with him appealed and repelled me at the same time. As stupid as it was I was attracted to him and knew that after this weekend we’d never see each other again. Instead of telling him where to stick his offer I found myself reluctantly agreeing. “Fine but I get to choose where we go.” I hated the sulkiness in my tone and almost cringed.
His eyes darkened but he motioned toward the door. Pleased that I’d at least gained that small concession I didn’t waste time overthinking how bad of a decision this was. Several hours later I was shocked to discover that taking in the sights with him had not been the complete disaster I’d worried it would be.
He knew a great deal about the history of the places we visited, and I was shocked at the wonder the city had to offer. We walked through a museum, stopped by the 9/11 Memorial, and even ate a hot dog at a corner-curb vendor. This was something I would have expected with a friend like Ashley, but Taylor being so laid back was just another faction of his personality that unraveled.
“I should take you to a play while we’re here.” I was astonished that he offered even if I didn’t consider myself a lover of the stage.
“I honestly don’t consider myself a play type of person.” My idea of the arts was watching television or maybe going to a rock concert with friends. Just another difference of status thing that made me realize how far apart our tastes were.
“Have you ever been to one?” His question was strangely sincere and one of the first times he’d questioned me about something without that mocking smirk lining his face.
“Not unless you count the horrible ones at school.” I crinkled my nose. The boredom of those events was something I looked back on with great disgust.
He chuckled softly and for once he wasn’t the imposing Mr. Ross, but someone I could relate too. “If my only experience had been amateur I might find it distasteful as well. I’m not sure what’s playing at the moment, but if not this weekend, we’ll have to initiate you another time so you can appreciate the love of theater.”
I didn’t tell him that I had no intention of being with him in the future so I nodded. We visited the Statue of Liberty and I was grinning in awe as we made our way up. I caught him staring at me with this odd look in his eyes and frowned.
“What is it?” For the first time since we’d left the hotel earlier I felt uncomfortable under his scrutiny.
“I just find it refreshing how exciting you’re finding this.” He seemed confused by his own comment and shook his head.
“What’s not to be excited about? She’s a beautiful symbol of freedom and a reminder of what everyone in the world strives to have.” I shrugged and stared at the historical vision in awed wonder.
“Indeed.” His muffled response is curious, but I’m so enthralled at finally seeing this that I don’t bother dwelling on it. “We need to prepare for our meeting tonight.”
Just like that the peaceful feelings evaporate and I barely give a nod as he leads me back down to the waiting car. I was glad I got to sightsee a little today and I knew that this was probably the last time I’d get to New York for a while. My plans for the immediate future involved hard work and struggling to pay bills, but hopefully one day I’d be able to view all these places I could only dream about right now.
We went our separate ways after entering the penthouse and I prepared for the biggest job of my life. I’d called Ashley earlier for advice and she’d been very unhelpful. She thought leaving a great job because I felt uncomfortable was irrational even though she promised to talk to the coffee house manager about getting my position back. Ashley and Jimmy had been a couple since ninth grade so I doubted she could understand what I was dealing with.
After a hot shower that I thought would help my nerves I found myself feeling even more anxious. Could I really play the seductress in hopes of winning this stupid bet? If I wanted that new start I would do exactly that, I told my reflection in the steamy bathroom mirror.
What I didn’t have in knowledge, I would have to make up for in appearance. I just hoped it would be enough. With that thought in mind I dried my long, blonde tresses then straightened out the almost waist length curls with a hot iron. I applied my makeup artfully thanks to the lessons from the spa, then walked into the bedroom donning the new silk thong that supposedly wouldn’t show a line in the dress I was wearing.