Can a virgin be a whore? I guess it depends on your definition of the word. Working a minimum wage job, I was struggling to save up money for college. Things were tight but I was managaing to scrape by. At least I had a roof over my head, right? Wrong. My mother was moving on to husband number five and decided to sell the house without giving me notice. The bank took care of that with a thirty day grace period.
Taylor Ross walked into the coffee shop where I worked and offered me the perfect solution. His father was a regular customer and apparently thought highly enough of my service to mention me in his will. I couldn't just take money but when offered me a job with a great salary including room and board, how could I refuse? I didn't know at the time just what services Taylor thought I'd offered his father.
He wanted me to embrace my inner whore and in return my financial worries would be over. There was only one problem. I had no idea what that meant. Taylor was willing to train me, so the only real question was what was I willing to do to have everything my heart desired?
The coffee shop had worked me like a mad woman today. With the Christmas holidays approaching in the mall there wasn’t even time for a break. I needed the longer hours but my feet were killing me and I was glad it was close to closing time. All I wanted to do tonight was sink into a hot bath and relax. Glancing up at the clock I sighed in relief noticing there was only half an hour left.
“Miss Burns?” A deep, masculine voice pulled my attention to a handsome, well-groomed man standing at the front counter. I’d seen attractive men before obviously, but none that took my breath away with a single look before.
“I’m Laura, how can I help you?” My eyes clashed with his deep blue depths, and I felt my stomach clench in some strange sensation that made my heart race.
“Taylor Ross.” His full lips lifted in a confident smile and he extended a manicured hand over the counter.
The strange butterflies filling my stomach at his smile left me staring at him in confusion before I accepted his greeting. The feel of his warm palm against mine forced a sigh from my lips and my face flooded with color.
His face seemed vaguely familiar, but I knew if I’d met this man before I wouldn’t have forgotten. “I’m sorry, but have we met?” Snapping out of fantasy land I gave my libido a mental kick.
“My father is Leonard Ross.” His brow lifted and he seemed to be searching my face for some recognition.
With a smile I realized this was Lenny’s son. Lenny was one of my favorite customers and a regular. I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks and I missed his wisdom.
“Lenny is such a sweetheart.” My smiled broadened as I thought about all the advice he’d offered me this year. “How’s he doing? This place hasn’t been the same without him.”
Lenny helped me not panic when my mother had run off with her newest attraction a few months ago. He reminded me that I had the inner strength to rise above any challenge. She’d taken everything from the house but at least hadn’t depleted my savings account. I had a little put back for my college education but thanks to her dropping the ball on her part of the rent, it forced me to realize I would have to put off my dreams for another year while I recouped.
Lenny had offered me money to help offset some of my losses but I couldn’t take advantage of our friendship that way. He was a nice old man but I was too proud and wouldn’t take his charity. Living with a mother who used people left and right, I refused to accept handouts.
“I’d like to talk to you about that. Privately.” His handsome face took on a stern expression and my smile vanished.
“Um. Okay. I’ll be closing up soon?” I had no idea what he could need to talk to me about, but I respected Lenny enough to show his son a little common courtesy.
“I’ll wait then.” He gave a curt nod of his head, then walked over to sit down at one of the tables.
The crowd was thinning out as closing time for the mall approached and I started doing my nightly prep work for closing. Working here was relatively easy and the cleanup didn’t take long. With everything stocked for tomorrows opening, I cashed out the drawer and walked the nightly receipts and profit back to the manager’s office.
My feet were dragging and I wanted to get home quickly. I hoped whatever Lenny’s son had to speak with me about wouldn’t take long. Granted he was a nice visual distraction but I didn’t have time in my life to consider men in that way.
I grabbed my purse from under the counter and walked over to his table. “I need to lock up. Maybe we can talk on my way out?” Trying not to be rude I offered a tentative smile. Having a conversation at my place of employment after hours wasn’t something upper management approved of. The owners were decent people but they expected all their employees to do the job they were paid for and reminded us often that we worked for them.
“I’m afraid this conversation might take a little time. Perhaps we could go for a drive?”
“I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t know you.” The man was impeccably dressed and his father was a nice man, but still he was a stranger. Courtesy was one thing, being irresponsible, another.
“I understand your hesitation but my driver will be with us. You’ll be safe in my company.” His smile, which I assumed was meant to be reassuring, didn’t meet his eyes and did little to make me feel comfortable.
I didn’t understand the feelings this man brought out in me. Men didn’t really touch my radar. My goals involved getting an education and making a better life for myself. Relationships didn’t factor into my bottom line. So why this man had me interested, I couldn’t say.
“Just a moment of your time Miss Burns. I would prefer speaking to you in private.” I could tell instantly that he was a man accustomed to getting his way and for some reason I didn’t want to deny him. I nodded.
He waited as I locked the door to the coffee shop and then followed at my side as we exited the mall. A limo was waiting and my confused eyes met his. “You obviously weren’t kidding when you said you had a driver.” Who was this man? I assumed Lenny was successful but obviously he was more than I’d imagined.
“I always say what I mean Miss Burns.” A small smile touched his lips as he led me toward the car by resting his hand on the small of my back.
People didn’t pull up to the mall in limousines normally. Who had the type of money that afforded someone the privilege of being escorted around this way? No one I was associated with.
The driver walked around to the back passenger door and opened it. For a moment I felt a sense of panic. Getting into a car with a stranger was never a smart idea. “Maybe you should just tell me what this is about.” I took a few steps away from the open door and crossed my arms over my chest. There were still people filing out of the mall so I felt relatively safe.
He ran a long-fingered hand through his dark hair and the look he gave spoke of impatience. “I wanted to break this to you in a more delicate manner but obviously you don’t trust me. My father has passed away.”
For a moment I stared at him dumbfounded. The last time I’d seen Lenny, he seemed vibrant and full of health. “But he didn’t look sick?” I really liked Lenny and the thought of not talking to him again made my heart ache.
“It was rather sudden.” His expression wasn’t what I expected for a man who’d just lost his father. Actually he looked irritated. “He left instructions about helping you and that’s why I think we need to talk.”
Why on earth would Lenny do something like that? We had talked about my goals and dreams but he certainly didn’t owe me anything. Just speaking with him had helped me decide on the path I wanted to take with my life. “Your father was very nice to me, but I’m sure you have more important things to deal with at the moment.”
A strange look entered his eyes and I didn’t know how to decipher it. All I can say is it left him looking less annoyed and maybe somewhat confused. “Be that as it may, I need to honor my father’s final wishes. At least talk with me.” He motioned toward the open car door and the smile on his face seemed saddened.
The change of attitude made me feel a little guilty for arguing with him. The man had just lost his father after all. I didn’t need his help but if he felt the need to discuss it then I could at least hear him out. I attempted to smile and slid into the leather seat of the limousine.
Being surrounded with such luxury instantly made me feel out of place. I was a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl and this was a caviar type of world. I fidgeted with the collar on my uniform shirt waiting for him to get in. When the door closed behind him I felt claustrophobic.
The man took up entirely too much space even in the spacious backseat. It wasn’t his size, although he was over six feet tall and filled out that business suit extremely well. What really overwhelmed me was his air of confidence, something I’d never possessed.
He rolled down the divider window between us and the driver and told him to circle the block before returning his attention to me. His deep blue eyes seemed to be taking in every inch of my appearance. It was very unnerving. My hands moved to my lap to wring nervously together.
“So how did you and my father meet?” His gaze bore into mine and I immediately looked down at my hands. He intimidated me in ways that I couldn’t explain.
“Um, he came into the coffee shop a year ago and we just hit it off.” Thinking that Lenny and I would never talk again was depressing. The man knew a little about everything and I was like a sponge soaking up his knowledge. He was the reason I wanted to attend college, there were so many things to learn about the world we lived in. My eyes watered and I fought to contain my emotions.
“I didn’t realize you’d known him that long.” His voice seemed laced with steel and I glanced up at his handsome face, shocked by the rage that played on his features again.
I inched a little closer to the door. My mothers’ parade of boyfriends in my life had taught me that an angry man was something to be avoided at all costs. When I was nervous I tended to babble.
“Yeah. I can’t believe it’s been that long. Lenny was so experienced. I swear he taught me more about life than the last twenty years of living it has.” I probably would have kept on talking to cover the fact that he made me nervous, but he cut in.
“You’re just a child!” The wrath in his voice frightened me at first then anger kicked in at his rudeness. I didn’t know this man well enough for him to yell at me and I certainly wasn’t a child. I was doing him the favor by agreeing to talk.
“It’s impolite to scream at people you don’t know. Age has little to do with manners. If that’s how you treat people you can let me out of this car.” I didn’t mean to come unhinged at his comment but I was tired of people thinking they could walk all over me. My mother had done that enough before she decided to abandon me.
“I didn’t mean to be offensive.” His tone calmed and I felt my face flush.
“Sorry. I’m afraid things haven’t been very easy lately. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.” The truth was I didn’t want to be that bitter, angry person my mother had turned into. This man wasn’t at fault for my problems and I felt guilty for adding more burdens on top of the loss he’d already suffered.
“I think I can help you with that.” There was a tick in his jaw even as he attempted a smile.
“Forget I said anything.” Talk about being embarrassed. I didn’t need his help and this conversation wasn’t why I got in the car with him. “I really appreciate that you want to honor your dad’s wishes, but he doesn’t owe me anything.”
“He obviously felt he did. What would it take to get you to a comfortable place Miss Burns?” A stony look fell over his face and I was baffled by his mood swings.
Babbling again, I launched into a quick outline of my goals. “All I want to do is save up for college and make a new life for myself. I’m working on that now so you can rest easy. Lenny gave me the courage to know I could reach that goal. There’s really nothing else I need.”
“Then allow me to pay for your education and expenses to live that dream.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes and my own widened at his generosity.
“I couldn’t do that! I really appreciate the offer but I’m working to pay off some debt and I’ll hopefully start next fall.” If I was anything like my mom I’d jump at his offer, but I had a different set of values. “I really appreciate the thought though.”
“My father obviously cared for you a great deal. It’s the least I can do.” He didn’t sound happy about offering and I knew it was just out of respect for Lenny that he spoke the words.
“Thank you, but I have everything figured out. Your dad gave me more than enough by encouraging me to make goals for myself.” He didn’t need to know I was drowning in debt and doubted my own ability to make that goal a reality. The offer was tempting but I wasn’t a freeloader.
“I’m trying to help you. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t assure myself that my father’s final words were honored.”
I couldn’t believe that Lenny had even thought of me in his last moments. Yes we were friends, but I’d just assumed his life was full of people that he felt appreciated him. I was just some girl in a coffee shop and we’d never met anywhere else.
“I don’t know how to say this nicely but I wouldn’t feel right taking money from you.” I hoped I was explaining this right.
“So if you won’t take money, what about a position in my company?” Was he gritting his teeth? I understood he wanted to fulfill Lenny’s promises but what I didn’t get was why he seemed so infuriated about it. I was offering him a way out.
“Um, I’ve only worked at the coffee shop. I’m sure I don’t have the experience to work for you.” I knew that Lenny was involved with something that bought and sold companies. I really didn’t understand how that worked.
“We have positions that you can train in while you work. Of course you’d be making a better salary than the one you currently have. If you won’t let me pay for your education, the ‘least’ I can do is offer you a chance to obtain your goals faster.”
I didn’t know what to say. A job making more money would help me out and if he was willing to let me start at the bottom should I refuse? The man didn’t seem like he knew how to take no for answer. “I guess that would be okay.” He seemed determined to do something and this wasn’t really a handout, was it? I mean I would be working.
I watched as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He offered me a business card. “I’m sure we can make this situation work out for both of us.”
Taking the card, I slid it into the pocket on my uniform shirt. “Are you sure this is something you want to do? You really don’t know enough about me to offer a job.”
“Trust me Miss Burns, this will be beneficial for both of us.” The smirk on his face confused me. “Come to my office Monday morning at eight and we’ll take care of all the paperwork.”
“I’ll need to give the coffee shop notice.” I hoped this wasn’t a bad idea. Making more money would help me out, but working for a man not knowing what was involved with the job description was daunting.
“Understandable. I believe your shop opens at ten, so you should still be able to get the paperwork started Monday?”
“Um. Okay.” I looked down at the card again and noted the address for the company was downtown. I had Monday off so the time wasn’t a problem. “I guess we can talk about everything then.” He’d relaxed and I got the feeling he was the type of man accustomed to getting what he wanted.
He rolled down the driver’s window and gave instructions to return to the mall. We didn’t speak on the way back and the entire ride left me feeling very uncomfortable. I thanked him as we pulled back in the parking lot. With a brief nod of his head, he pulled away and left me walking towards the bus stop.
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Michelle Hughes began her career in writing as a paranormal romance author. In 2009 she released her first book, A Night at Tears of Crimson. In 2011 she was hit with an idea for a romance that had nothing to do with vampires and readers seemed to relate more to the alpha male and virgin romances, so she continued along that line.
Prior to a career in writing she was a singer/songwriter who performed all over the US with a satellite syndicated talent showcase as their host. Michelle lives in Alabama with her husband and five children. Writing is her second love with family always being first. If you’d like to find out more about Michelle, please visit her links.