Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Total Temptation is out!
The butterflies in Cassandra Willis’s stomach hatched their own butterflies as she waited for the owner of Club Ecstasy. Seated on the visitor’s side of an antique mahogany desk, Cassandra flipped through the pages of the photo album Madeline Shaw’s assistant had given her. Madeline would only be a few minutes late, the young woman had assured Cassandra, and suggested she might spend the time selecting the man who would serve her.
For a moment, the assistant had sounded ready to say the man who would “service” her. If she had, Cassandra might very well have dropped the book and fled. Paying a man to serve her in bed was bad enough. She might have come here for a stud but not for stud service. Semantics aside, reality remained. If she went through with this scheme, and her body would never give her any peace if she didn’t, in all probability, she’d end up making love with one of these beautiful strangers before the evening was over.
No, not making love. Having sex or maybe even that other, coarser word that had never passed her lips. She would not make love with any of these men. She’d only made love with one man in her life. Now that Howard had died, she might fall in love again. After what her parents would consider a respectable number of years, of course. Until then, no lovemaking for her.
But she’d have sex. Tonight. With one of these men. Oh, God, what was she doing?
Still holding the book, she got up and paced around the room. In her normal life, she never would have considered coming to a place like this, no matter how elegant, to hire a man to give her pleasure. But Howard had died months earlier, and she’d had nothing other than the vibrator that had come delivered in plain brown paper to take the edge off the aching need that plagued her waking moments and stole into her dreams.
The desperation had driven her to Club Ecstasy—to the only place in the city where a woman could safely and discretely find not just relief from sexual frustration but fulfillment of all her fantasies. She’d had to take a risk to visit a facility owned by one of her husband’s acquaintances. Madeline Shaw had known Howard longer than Cassandra had. But Madeline also had a reputation for strict confidentiality. After all, she had herself to protect as well as her clients. An operation like this couldn’t be legal.
Cassandra paced some more and stewed, half wanting to run like hell and half vibrating with excitement at the prospect of finally having a virile lover of her own age after a marriage to a much older man. She couldn’t afford to get caught here, but neither could she stand to go home without finally experiencing the sensual pleasures she’d been denied in her marriage.
“Please excuse me for making you wait.” Madeline Shaw swept into the room, bringing a hint of San Francisco’s cool climate fog with her.
Cassandra started, nearly jumping. When her heart settled, she smiled. “I’ve been entertaining myself.”
“Good.” When Madeline removed her coat, the scent of an elegant perfume wafted from her. Perhaps something from Madeline’s own line of colognes. Very sophisticated, but Cassandra would not be able to carry it off for years and years.
“See anything you like?” Madeline asked.
“Like? Of these men?” Cassandra held out the photo album. “That’s an inadequate word. They’re all so . . .”
Madeline chuckled and took her seat. “They are, aren’t they? All my men are top-notch.”
Cassandra also sat. “Would you mind if I asked you a question?”
Madeline folded her hands together on top of the desk. “Feel free. I won’t answer if I don’t care to.”
“All this?” Cassandra gestured around her. “Why?”
“Why have an exclusive club for women?”
Put that way—as no more than a club—this place made perfect sense. Women needed to get away from the stresses of life, and a facility like this one, with its spa and gym, beauticians, and private shoppers, didn’t seem unusual at all. But then, there was a lot more to Club Ecstasy than that. “No, that isn’t what I’m asking, I guess.”
“You really want to know why I have male sex providers,” Madeline said.
Cassandra’s cheeks warmed. She’d be blushing brightly enough for Madeline to see. She’d be doing worse than that in a few hours if she could keep up her courage.
“Don’t be embarrassed. That’s what everyone asks,” Madeline said. “My men are here to give my clients pleasure. Women deserve that as much as men do, perhaps more.”
“But you’ve been so successful with your careers, first modeling and now your perfume and makeup lines. You don’t need to do this.”
Madeline leaned back against her chair and smiled. With the elegant cut and style of her hair, her perfect makeup, and her designer clothing, Madeline made the very picture of understated wealth. She didn’t have to run a facility that would earn her scorn if its existence became public.
“Let’s just say Club Ecstasy has always been a dream of mine,” Madeline said.
“Do you use the men . . . that is, their services?” Darn it all, there was that word—services.
“Well, now, I’m not dead yet.” Madeline’s smile broadened. “But let’s talk about you. That way, I’ll be sure we can find you just the right match.”
Cassandra’s fingers clenched together in her lap. “There’s not much to tell.”
“Au contraire. There’s a lot to say about you.”
Cassandra had done her best to rehearse some explanation for why she’d shown up in search of, well, sex. Nothing had come to her, and for sure, nothing would now, either. Cassandra and Madeline had been in the same social set for years. She couldn’t possibly share the fact that Howard had been a considerate lover but not what every young woman dreams of. Certainly not the stuff of the books she kept in a box in the back of her closet.
“If you won’t put it into words, I will,” Madeline said after a moment. “Howard was too old for you.”
“Howard was a wonderful husband.”
“Of course he was. He was a dear man, but he was still too old for you. How many years, exactly?”
Cassandra’s stomach twisted. She always hated confessing she’d married someone only a year younger than her father. The difference in age made her seem like a gold digger, which was exactly what his sons were trying to prove in court so they could invalidate the will.
“Thirty years,” she said.
Madeline’s brow creased, the first mark of imperfection on her beautiful face. “How old are you now?”
“Twenty-seven. I was twenty-two when we married. Howard was fifty.”
“And were you . . . how shall I put this . . .”
“A virgin? Yes.”
“Oh, dear Lord,” Madeline said. “It was your father’s idea, wasn’t it?”
“No. I loved Howard. I was happy to marry him.” Her parents had encouraged her, despite the fact she’d just graduated from college and hadn’t begun to figure out what to do with her life. Her mother had insisted she’d be “set,” and her father went on and on about what a good man Howard was. He hadn’t mentioned the business deal he’d hope to win through the match.
And then, Howard had seemed so dignified when they’d met. The grey at his temples perfectly complimented the cut of his business suit. They’d joked about how he didn’t do apps or social media, even though he bought her all the latest electronics—her toys, as he’d called them. They’d both insisted age was a number.
But underneath the clothes, he’d still been a middle-aged man. Would she have changed her mind if they’d made love before the engagement? The woman who loved him said no. The young woman who’d never shared a bed with a young man might give a different answer.
“Still, your father was happy for the marriage and moved things along quickly, didn’t he?” Madeline asked.
Cassandra might have wondered at that if she hadn’t been so excited about being in love and planning a gorgeous wedding. Now that she’d inherited much of Howard’s company and could complete the merger her father had wanted for years, she didn’t have to wonder. Of course, if Howard’s sons got their way, Cassandra wouldn’t inherit anything, and her father would lose the business connection he’d married her off for. None of them could find out she’d visited Club Ecstasy.
“Never mind that now.” Madeline nodded toward the photo album. “Let’s see what we can do for you.”
Cassandra opened the book again and flipped through the pages. One of them men wore a tuxedo with the bow tie undone and hanging from his neck. Like Howard, he looked fabulous in clothes, but the planes of his chest and flat abdomen promised a firm body underneath. The next page revealed a surfer dude with a warm smile and naked torso above swim trunks snug enough to outline his genitals. Quite an impressive display. She barely noticed the surfboard next to him. For a moment, Cassandra could imagine the scent of sunscreen as his slick body moved against hers. Definitely tempting.
“Jeff would be a good choice for you,” Madeline said. “I imagine you’ve had enough of elegance and would like some fun.”
“I’m sure he’d be wonderful.” The closer it came to coming true, the more ridiculous the whole plan seemed. And the more inevitable. She simply couldn’t go back home unfulfilled. Not to more days and nights of denial and misery. “Everything I do here will have to remain secret.”
“Of course. All my clients need privacy.”
“It’s not only a matter of general principle,” Cassandra said. “Howard’s sons would love to brew a scandal around me.”
“Ah, yes. Cynthia’s boys,” Madeline said.
They’d never seemed like boys to Cassandra, what with the eldest being a few years older than she. And now, they were making her life miserable. First, the lawyers. Then, the faceless men who followed her everywhere. Even if she had planned to sleep with someone after a few dates, the boys’ private investigators had ruined that plan by scaring off any man she’d stepped onto a public sidewalk with. No, Club Ecstasy was her only option, as unbelievable as that sounded.
“They’re putting out the lie that I slept around during our marriage,” Cassandra said. “If I’m caught with another man, they will claim I was involved with him before my husband died.”
“But, surely, that wouldn’t invalidate Howard’s will,” Madeline said.
“Not that in itself, but they’re claiming he had early-onset dementia. They even have a quack of a psychiatrist who’s looked through Howard’s medical records to make his diagnosis.” Her fingers made air quotes the word around “diagnosis.” “The sons accused me of taking advantage of his mental status by drugging him and getting him to change his will in my favor.”
Madeline scowled, actually showing the lines in her face. “I see they inherited their mother’s temperament. And love of money.”
“I didn’t help things, I’m afraid.” She cringed inwardly remembering her stupidity. “I dared to go out on a date shortly after Howard’s passing. To a club with a man I’d just met.”
“Surely, there’s no crime in that,” Madeline said.
Most of the details of that evening had dissolved into a blur of light-headedness and wobbly legs. Then bright flashes of light and yelling. “I drank too much. I was a mess when I came out of Le Cabaret, leaning all over my date. The press caught it all.”
“I didn’t pay much attention to that. It was you?”
“Howard Junior has all the pictures, and he’s shown them to the judge,” she said. “Who’s a member of his yacht club.”
“I see.” Madeline clucked her tongue. “Well. We practice strict confidentiality. My men know they’ll be fired if they kiss and tell. The other patrons won’t even see you here.”
That fit with everything she’d learned about the club. One of her friends had gotten tipsy at a party and mentioned privately to Cassandra that, as a young widow, she might want to try the place out. Even after too much to drink, Tina wouldn’t give her many details for fear she wouldn’t be allowed to come back if she said too much. She’d only given Cassandra an e-mail address and code word. Then, Cassandra had waited to hear back that she’d been accepted. The whole time her anticipation and, yes, a certain amount of titillation had grown.
“Everything seems secure,” she said.
“Good. Shall we get Jeff for you?” Madeline asked.
“Let me look a bit . . .” Cassandra turned a page, and the rest of her thought flew right out of her mind. The man in the picture was like no one she’d ever seen. He had a fabulous body with broad shoulders and well-defined biceps, but she could have said that about all the men in the book. Unlike the others, however, he wore clothes that molded to his body—a snug T-shirt and leather pants. Rather than an affectation, the pants made sense, given that he sat astride a motorcycle. Spiky blond hair and a gold earring in one ear gave him a decidedly dangerous air, but what really made her breath catch was the expression on his face. The insolent smile on his ample lips and the light of defiance in his eyes suggested he’d like to eat her up and he knew how to make her enjoy it.
Madeline glanced at the page. “You found Bobby.”
“Yes, I think I did.”
“He could be right for you, although . . .”
“Although what?” she asked.
“Bobby’s new, and he’s a little rough around the edges,” Madeline said. “But, his clients have complimented him on his stamina, if you get my drift.”
That he wouldn’t fade but could make the sex last for a good, long time. She almost melted at the thought. “Anything else?”
“He can be adventurous, but of course, you decide what you want to do.” Madeline reached over and placed her hand over Cassandra’s. “You’re very nearly a virgin. Are you sure you’re ready for a wild ride like Bobby?”
“There’s one way to find out, isn’t there?” Her mind may have hesitated, but her body had decided the moment she’d set eyes on his image. Bobby was everything she’d dreamed of ever since she’d learned she was a sexual creature with powerful urges. Urges that had never been fully satisfied. They would be tonight.
“I want Bobby,” she said. Possibly the first time she’d ever made a direct statement to anyone about what or who she wanted. Her first step toward sexual freedom.
“Bobby you shall have.” Madeline rose. “I’ll show you to your suite.”