Escorting the Groom (The Escort Collection Book 4)

BOOK: Escorting the Groom (The Escort Collection Book 4)
7.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Escorting the Groom
The Escort Collection, Book Four)
Leigh James
CMG PUBLISHING, LLC

C
opyright
© 2016 by Leigh James.

Published by CMG Publishing, LLC

Cover Design © 2016 by Cormar Creations

Editing by Red Adept Editing.

Proofreading by Dana Waganer at
www.danaproofwrite.com
.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions. v.8.30.2016

Sign up for Leigh's mailing list at
www.leighjamesbooks.com
.

Chapter One
Lucas

"
C
an you interrupt Mr. Preston
, please? Tell him it's his cousin, Lucas. It's urgent." I stalked around my townhouse with my cell phone gripped in my hand. The midafternoon sun shone brightly into the living room. As soon as I got off the phone, I was going out for a punishing run in the Boston humidity.

As if I could outrun what I was about to do.

"Lucas," James said. "This is a surprise. When was the last time I saw you? My wedding?"

"Something like that." I looked out the window, wishing I didn't need to have this conversation. "It's been a long time. How are you? How're Audrey and the kids?" The question felt perfunctory on my lips.

"Great," James said. "Our youngest just started walking. So we're still living in a babyproofed house, but we're getting there."

I felt a headache coming on. "How many kids do you have, again?"

James exhaled, annoyed. "Three, Lucas. We have three."

"That's a lot of kids."

"So what do I owe the pleasure of this phone call to?" my cousin asked, cutting right to the chase. "I'm sure you didn't call to chat about my kids, seeing as you can't remember how many I have."

"Right." I cleared my throat. "It's about my trust…" I let my voice trail off.

"If I remember correctly, it had some pretty specific provisions."

I winced. "Yeah. It's like yours—it's a generation-skipping trust. But mine has some interesting contingencies."

"Such as?"

I gripped my cell phone harder. "Such as… I have to get married before I turn thirty-five. Otherwise, my sister gets everything."

James let out a low whistle. He had no love for my sister, Serena. "That would suck."

"I know. That's the point."

"How old are you?" James asked.

"Thirty-four. And I'm not dating anyone. That's why I'm calling you." I took a deep breath. "I need the name of that agency. The one Audrey used to… you know. Where she worked when you met her." I couldn't bring myself to elaborate any more than that. James's wife, Audrey, was an escort when they'd started dating. It had been the family scandal of the decade, right before the one I had somewhat recently starred in.

"You're hiring an escort to
marry
?" James asked.

"You married one," I said, a bit defensively.

"That's because I fell in love with her, asshole," he barked.

"I didn't get in touch so you could pass judgment." I tried to keep my voice even. "I just need the information."

"When's your birthday?" James sounded as though he'd calmed down. And as if he was laughing at me.

"In three weeks."

He stopped laughing. "Are you fucking kidding me?"

I stared out the window, taking in my penthouse view. The Boston Common stretched out, picturesque and green, in front of me. "No, I'm not."

"Jesus, Lucas. Nothing like the last minute." I pictured my handsome, rugged cousin pacing around his office in Southern California.

"I've been going back and forth about this." I took a deep breath. "But I can't let Serena inherit all the money in that trust. It's billions of dollars." I winced as I pictured my sister running off between fundraising luncheons to squeeze in another Botox injection. "And I've just run out of time to meet Miss Right."

"I think this is a bad idea," James said.

"It's obviously a bad idea."

He sighed. "The name of the agency is AccommoDating. They're in the South End of Boston. The madam's name is Elena. Tell her I sent you. She always liked me."

"Why do I doubt that?" I quipped.

"Because you're not as dumb as you're acting right now." James was quiet for a second. "You're not really going through with this, are you?"

I coughed. "I don't really think I have a choice. I don't want to ask a friend to do it—"

"Since when do you have friends?" My cousin knew me and my work-obsessed habits too well.

"Right. I'm calling Elena. Wish me luck."

"This is a wedding I don't want to miss. You better send out the invites soon. My kids are playing baseball, and I'm coaching. We're busy, but I'll fit you in."

I promised to keep him posted before I hung up, scratching my head. My cousin, James Preston, had been a bachelor billionaire for as long as I could remember. He was also a real-estate mogul
and
a total prick. The idea of him happily married, with three kids and a babyproofed house, was baffling.

And yet, the inscrutability of his situation paled in comparison to what I was about to do.

* * *

B
LAKE

"I'd like it if you'd stay," Ethan said, trailing his fingers up my arm.

I fell back against his Egyptian cotton sheets. "Of course I'll stay." Ethan was one of my regular Johns. He was funny and kind, and his apartment in the Leather District next to downtown Boston was gorgeous. He always treated me with a high level of respect, more like a treasured girlfriend than a hired plaything.

"Blake, I've been thinking…" He waited until I turned to him expectantly. "What if I put you up somewhere? Bought you a nice apartment? I'd take care of you, baby. You wouldn't have to work for the service anymore. I'd pay all your bills."

I ran my finger along his jawline. "Ah, you're sweet." I smiled at him playfully, trying to lighten my sudden feeling of suffocation. In some ways, it would be lovely to be Ethan's kept woman, to be able to leave hooking behind. But I'd rather make my own money and then retire.

And be alone.

His eyes pierced mine. "I mean it. A nice girl like you? You're the total package. Beautiful. Smart." He tucked a lock of my long blond hair behind my ear. "You don't need to do this anymore. Let me give you a new life."

Ethan was handsome, and he had more money than God, but he hadn't been able to find the right woman to settle down with. "Ethan, that means a lot to me, but I can't."

His brow furrowed in disappointment, but he didn't look surprised. "Why not?"

I sat up and started getting dressed. "I don't do relationships. Not anymore. But I appreciate the offer."

"Did somebody hurt you?" he asked softly.

"Once upon a time, they did."
And no one else was getting an opportunity for a repeat performance.
I shrugged and gave him a small, forced smile.

"That's a shame."

I nodded. "It is." It
was
a shame, but I couldn't go back and change the past. I just had to move forward, the only way I knew how, the only way I wouldn't get my heart broken.

Alone.

* * *

"
T
his isn't
your typical assignment, Blake." My boss, Elena, pursed her lips, which were expertly coated in her signature maroon lipstick. Elena was the madam and CEO of AccommoDating, Inc., the escort service where I'd worked for about a year.

"What's ever been a typical assignment? This
is
the escort business, after all." I raised an eyebrow at her. "You're going to need to be more specific.
Way
more specific."

She adjusted the collar of her sleek black blazer. "What if I told you he was offering you a million dollars?"

I opened my mouth then closed it, momentarily stunned.
Holy guacamole.
"I'd ask you what he wanted in exchange," I said, recovering. "'Cause it's gotta be something big."

"The client is Lucas Ford. Have you ever heard of him?"

Lucas Ford was one of Boston's elite CEOs, a technology billionaire. "Yes."

I kept up with business news, reading up on all the latest stocks and business reports. After I paid my expenses and took care of my mom, I heavily invested what remained of my income. I was saving for a future that did not include working as an escort, even though it had proved to be lucrative. "He's a technology mogul, right?"

Elena was pacing now. "Right."

"I read about him in the
Globe
recently
.
He's in his thirties. Gorgeous, too, if I'm remembering correctly." What I also remembered from the article was that Ford was a venture capitalist who routinely bought and dismantled other people's companies. He didn't do interviews, and he had a reputation for being ruthless. A former employee had said he had "no empathy" and ate up other companies in a "zombie-like fashion." After reading the article, I remember thinking that although he was hot, he sounded like a dick.

And now he was about to become my client.
Great.

"He's very good-looking," Elena agreed. "He owns several technology start-ups. He's a billionaire from a long line of billionaires. His family, the Fords, is one of the country's wealthiest. They're old Boston-
Brahmin
money."

I twirled a lock of my blond hair, intrigued in spite of myself. "Okay… but what does any of this have to do with me? Why is Lucas Ford hiring an escort, and why is he spending so much money—aside from the fact that he can afford to?" He had to be into some
seriously
kinky shit if he was offering a million dollars. I shuddered.

Elena pulled down her thick-framed glasses to look at me. "He was referred here by his cousin, James Preston. Do you remember I told you one of our girls married her client?"

I nodded. "There was more than one though, right?" Elena often told us about her "success" stories, in which one of her working girls ended up marrying a rich client.

The madam shrugged. "It's happened over the years."

"So what about the cousin? This James?" I asked, nudging her back to the matter at hand. Cinderella stories were great and all, but I wanted to get back to the important part. About the million dollars. The million dollars would be much better than any fairytale—because then I would get to rescue myself, and my mom, and we wouldn't have to depend on anybody else ever again.

Because
that
never seemed to work out too well. For either of us.

"James recommended our service. Lucas doesn't need
just
an escort. He needs someone to…" She started pacing again, no longer looking at me.

"Elena." I was losing patience and my imagination was running wild. "What is it?"

She sighed. "Lucas has a trust. It's substantial. If he wants to inherit it, he has to be married by the time he turns thirty-five. And it has to last." She waved her hand. "I'm not completely clear about the details on the time frame. He mentioned something about a year."

I raised an eyebrow. "He needs a
wife
?"

"That's right. By the time he turns thirty-five."

Both eyebrows rose. "How old is he?"

Elena stopped pacing and turned to me. "Thirty-four and eleven-twelfths. His birthday's next month."

"So you want me to… marry him? Really soon?"

Elena nodded at me. She had the decency to look ashamed.

I, on the other hand, had no such decency. "I'll do it," I said immediately. It felt wrong—the idea of marrying some crazy venture-capitalist billionaire for money—but I
refused
to let myself think it through. That kind of money would change my life forever. And that was what I needed.

Desperation could drive you to do crazy things. I was about to be Exhibit A of just that.

BOOK: Escorting the Groom (The Escort Collection Book 4)
7.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Known World by Edward P. Jones
01 - The Burning Shore by Robert Ear - (ebook by Undead)
A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Enforcing Home by A. American
Up West by Pip Granger
Vestido de Noiva by Nelson Rodrigues
The Keeper of Dawn by Hickman, J.B.