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Home > The Master (The Game Maker #2)(3)

The Master (The Game Maker #2)(3)
Author: Kresley Cole

CHAPTER 2

“Perhaps I was . . . hasty,” he said. “Stay for a drink.”

Had my ass worked for me? Was I happy about this?

When I turned and traipsed back, he headed to the bar area. This was actually happening. I was going to have sex for money.

Over his shoulder, he said, “I’m Maksimilian Sevastyan.”

I turned it over on my tongue, finding his name a mouthful. In my mind, I styled him Máxim.

“Encantada. Nice to meet you. I’m Cat Marín.” I glanced around for my donation. Nothing. Which made me uneasy, but I gamely bellied up to the bar.

“Is that your working name?”

My alias. “That’s what they call me.” And that was what my fake ID said, whenever I was forced to use it.

I’d chosen my grandmother’s name of Catarina, and her mother’s name of Marín, and then I’d assumed the identity completely. Though I missed being Lucía, that life was like a distant dream.

“What do you drink?”

Good question. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had alcohol. Maybe beer after a 5K race? “Um, whatever you’re having.”

“Vodka martini?” Probably not a good idea. “You must have a preferred cocktail.”

I was about to say something stupid, like “Sex on the Beach!” but instead said, “White wine would be great.”

“You seem uneasy.”

I admitted, “I’m a little new to all of this.”

“Uh-huh. I’ve booked many escorts. Not one has ever said she’s been at this awhile.”

He thought I was lying. I was the world’s shittiest liar. Early on, I’d realized that anytime I’d been put into a position to tell an untruth, I’d resented it so much, I would stew for days. So I’d just stopped doing it. “I’m not lying to you.”

He waved my words away, turning to the wine collection.

As he investigated the offerings, I studied him up close. He was clean-shaven, with smooth skin that looked newly tanned, but he had no laugh lines around his eyes. Weird. No wedding-ring tan line either. At least he was single.

His lips were firm, his white teeth even. A wide masculine jawline complemented his strong nose and chin, his broad cheekbones. His hair was close-cut on the sides, longer on the top. What would it feel like to run my fingers through it?

“There’s a cellar somewhere on this floor, but I think you’ll like this wine.” When he uncorked the bottle, his muscles moved beneath his thin sweater. He wore a diving watch that probably cost more than my rat-trap apartment complex.

The only thing that could compete with the view of him was the view outside. The wraparound balcony had small torches along its clear glass railing. Past an infinity pool that I would kill to experience, I could see the ocean. A nearly full moon hung heavy in the sky.

“Go take a look.” He poured a glass and handed it to me. “I’ll meet you outside.”

I wasn’t supposed to do anything until I got paid, but after a quick risk/reward assessment, I said, “Okay.” As I strolled past the pool, steam rose from the heated water. In fact, the entire pool deck was heated. I crossed to the balcony rail and sampled the wine, sighing at the taste. I could see the appeal of drinking with this on tap.

A warm gust blew, and I inhaled the salty air. My eyes went half-mast at the sound of the ocean. I could almost imagine I was on Martinez Beach. Nearly a century ago, my father’s family had bought a long tract of oceanfront property near Jacksonville, putting it into a trust, never imagining the fortune it’d be worth today.

Short of returning there, I would have loved to remain in this city. Unfortunately the only Miami in my future was M.I.A.M.I.: Money Is A Major Issue.

If I made bank tonight, I could reboot somewhere as exciting, maybe LA or San Diego. I’d leave right after my last college exam, then get on with phase two of my reclaim-my-life plan: Disappear Forever. I’d buy a real fake ID (oxymoron?) and a social security number that would hold up under scrutiny.

Here I was dreaming about bank, when I hadn’t gotten my donation, much less upsold him for more. I knew my hard limits, but other than that, I wasn’t sure what I would do.

As I drank, I recalled the article Ivanna had made me read to help with my first date: The Top Ten Ways to Wow a Client. Suggestions included feigning breathless absorption when he talked, pretending affection, faking orgasms, and always telling him he was right.

Seriously?

Máxim joined me outside, with the wine bottle in one hand and his drink in the other. He set the bottle on a nearby table, then stood beside me. The moon bathed his face, lovingly highlighting all his chiseled features.

Though unpaid, I began to relax. Regardless of what else happened, I was presently in the Seltane penthouse with a client who might just give me the FOTC. Fuck of the century.

I took another sip. “Did you add crack sprinkles to this vintage?”

“I was fresh out of crack,” he said in a derisive tone. “What do you think of the view?”

I grinned over the rim of my glass. “I suppose it’s adequate. If you like this kind of thing.”

At my attempt at humor, he tilted his head. “I looked you up on your agency’s site.” Only a couple of the items Ivanna had listed about me were true—two-thirds of my measurements and my status as a CAN, certified all natural, with no surgical enhancements.

I recalled the fake bio she’d read to me: I like dancing (I hated dancing) and yoga (jogger here). In my spare time (as if I had any!), I enjoy performance art (no, gracias) and shopping (a form of torture).

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