Are you excited about Lure? Continue reading here for chapter 2.
I’d almost given up my search tonight when the boy in the kitty ears caught my attention in the rearview mirror. Standing by himself in the poorly lit area at the corner of the alley, close to an abandoned distillery, he was easy to miss. He was a small thing. A small, cute thing. Who was I kidding? He was downright pretty. I’d stolen glances at him a few times on our drive to our destination. I could only see his profile, but even that was gorgeous.
He was perfect for what I had in mind.
That was all.
“It’s gonna cost you extra if you take me somewhere,” he said. That’s right. He’s nothing but a hooker.
“I can afford it.”
“All right, then. I’m yours for as long as you want me. However you want me.”
Sex appeal dripped from him in spades. He’d climbed into the car, his lithe frame full of grace, kitty ears on top of his head. It was a silly costume, but it suited him, matched his sinuous movements, the low husky voice that could either be a man’s or a woman’s. Maybe he modulated it for his clients, but that didn’t matter. As long as he could reproduce that sound whenever I needed him to. The only thing that mattered was how his image fit perfectly with my plans.
I drove in silence to the Green Bay hotel. If our destination surprised him, he didn’t show it. He merely said “nice” as I parked the car. How long had he been a hooker? Nothing about him screamed he was desperate to do anything for money, but here we were. He had to be a little desperate, didn’t he?
I exited the car and walked around to open the door for him. He smiled up at me from under his lashes.
“Well, aren’t you a gentleman?” He passed a hand over the front of my shirt. He was barking up the wrong tree. “Hmm, I wonder what I’ll have to do to see the animal beneath this polite exterior.”
He would never know.
I took his hand and placed it on my arm. “This way, please.”
He didn’t budge, and unless I wanted to drag him along, I had to stay put. The last thing I wanted was to damage our property, and I needed him to trust me.
“Wait. I have to let someone know where I am.”
“Nolan gets upset if we disappear for too long, and if he knows I’m at a fancy hotel, he’ll be satisfied that I’ll make enough for him tonight.”
I frowned but released his hand. He fished a phone out of the fanny pack around his waist. Damn, he had a pimp who would know if he went missing.
His fingers flew across the keypad of his phone, and he smiled at me. “All done. Now, where were we?”
“I believe you were going to push my buttons to find out how animal I can be.”
“Ah, that’s right. Lead the way.”
Together, we entered the hotel. The lobby area was inviting with plants and earth-tone furniture. The woman at the front desk glanced up and flashed a smile. “Have a good night, Mr. Matthews,” she said. Her gaze turned to the petit boy at my side. A wistful, covetous look crossed her face.
I merely smiled in her direction and nodded. Since the hotel kept a suite exclusively at my disposal, I was familiar with the workers. Only one housekeeper was allowed in my room, and I had personal concierge service. He and I headed for the elevators.
“Ah, isn’t that sweet,” kitty boy said. “I think she has a crush on you.”
I grunted but didn’t respond. In the elevator, he took a step back and eyed me up and down. I allowed him to, taking the same opportunity to study him now that we had better lighting.
He was even lovelier up close, and my gaze constantly returned to his pink, pouty lips. He had to have colored them. No way they were naturally that color. Slightly tousled blond hair framed his heart-shaped face. I narrowed my eyes. He would look damn good in a dress and some heels. No one would know the difference until it was too late.
I couldn’t have chosen better. Liam would be excited. After weeks of surveying and interviewing boys, we might have found our guy whose looks would be the basis of our operation.
The elevator dinged as it came to a stop. “After you.”
He walked out ahead of me, and I fell into step beside him. We strode along the corridor to my suite. I unlocked the door to my room and ushered him inside. To the right was a coffee bar with a kettle and an assortment of coffee flavors and sweeteners. Apart from the king-sized bed, the room boasted a luxurious seating area and workstation. A set of sliding doors to the right led to the balcony, which overlooked the pool.
“Umm.” Wide eyes blinked up at me. “Will you be wanting me to spend the night?”
“Something like that.”
“Oh.” His blue eyes grew even bigger, and I frowned. How the hell did a prostitute keep that look of charming innocence?
“May I use your bathroom?” he asked. “I’d like to freshen up before we begin.”
“Sure. Go ahead. The bathroom is to your right.”
For a guy with such short legs, he was quick. The door shut behind his disappearing back. I shrugged off my jacket and draped it over the back of an ivory chair with gold accents. Rolling up the sleeves of my shirt, I walked over to the wet bar to pour myself a drink. I started to pour him one too, then hesitated.
How old was he? I was losing my edge. Just because he worked the streets didn’t mean he was legal. I should have asked him that before I picked him up.
The door to the bathroom didn’t make a sound when it opened, but I knew the exact moment he entered the room.
“There’s something I need to ask you.” I turned to him and lost my train of thought for a moment. He was naked except for the collar around his neck, the kitty ears, and a pink-and-white lace thong that matched the collar around his neck. His creamy white skin was on full display, meant to seduce and drive men crazy.
He wasn’t the first man I’d seen naked, so it didn’t bother me, even though he was gay. Maybe he looked lovelier than the other boys I’d used at some point, but that was a blessing.
“What was your question?” He sat on the edge of the bed, clearly aware of his sex appeal in the way he braced his hands on the mattress behind him so his body curved seductively. A posture that would have worked on someone else—someone into men.
“How old are you?” My voice came out huskier than usual. I cleared my throat. “I should’ve found out if you were jailbait before I picked you up.”
And now that I was staring at him, it wasn’t a farfetched idea he could be a minor. Fuck. That would explain his natural innocence. Was some worried parent out there waiting for him to return home? He’d mentioned a pimp. What if they forced him into this against his will?
Liam would kill me if I fucked this up.
“I’m twenty.” He flashed those killer dimples. “But thanks for asking. I know I look a little younger, but most men don’t care where they get their dicks wet.” His eyes wandered to the drink in my hand. “What are you drinking? Can I have a glass?”
I walked over to the wet bar, poured him a glass from the water goblet, and handed it to him.
“Thank you.” He took a sip and made a face. “That’s plain water!”
“Did you expect something else?”
“You’re not drinking water.”
“And I’m also thirty-eight. The law requires you to be at least twenty-one to drink.”
He snorted but downed the water. “I thought you’d be more fun.”
“Hmm, depends on what you consider fun.”
I took the glass from him and put it back on the liquor cabinet, then strolled to the bathroom and snagged the robe hanging from the hook. “Put this on. I’ve seen enough, and you’ll do.”
He frowned, clutching the thick, gray robe to his chest. “I think we should talk about my fee before we go any farther. I charge three hundred an hour, more depending on—”
“Not necessary. I need to ask you some more questions.”
He squirmed. “What the hell’s going on?” He sprang to his feet. “Something’s off about you. You’re okay with paying to fuck me but won’t allow me to drink? Are you a cop? Is that it?”
“No, I’m not a cop. Do you think a cop could afford this room on his salary?”
“Not a cop.” His eyes darted from me to the door. “Oh god, who are you? Please tell me you’re not one of those drug pushers.”
“I’m not a drug dealer. I want you to work for me and a friend of mine.”
“I already got a job. You should know my time starts ticking once you pick me up.”
“A job that will pay you way more than you get from selling your body.”
“You don’t know how much I make.”
“How much is it? I’ll triple it if you work for me.”
He quoted a figure that almost made me wince. Prostitutes I came across didn’t charge that much, but I had a feeling he wasn’t kidding. His price was steep, but I couldn’t see a man who wanted him, turning him down because of a little thing called money. He moved like a boy who was worth every penny he charged. Men paid thousands of dollars to acquire boys like him.
That was why I needed him. I had to have him.
“I stand by my offer. I’ll still triple it.”
And take a dent out of my commission for every job done. But if he was as good as I thought he could be, it would be worth it.
“Of course, that’s after training and seeing how suitable you are for the post.”
“And what exactly is this post?”
“I want you to be live bait.”
“You want me to be what?” He shuffled his feet, and I moved to put myself between him and the door in case he got ideas about bolting.
“Bait. I know it sounds shady, but it’s a legitimate opportunity to make a lot of cash, and you won’t even have to sleep with anyone to make that money. Mostly.”
He shook his head. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“Have a seat, and I’ll explain.”
“Something tells me it would be better to just have sex and collect for the night,” he muttered under his breath as he sat on the edge of the bed.
“I’m sure you know from your current job that sex is one of those things that equalizes us as men. It doesn’t matter how powerful or wealthy we are. In fact, because of it, we act the way we do. We see someone we want, and we have to have them—sometimes just to prove we can.”
“I’m still not following.”
“I need you to distract men while I get some tasks done.”
“What kind of tasks?”
“That’s not for you to know. All you need to do is flirt and seduce some men right into the palm of my hands. Like I said, bait.”
“Is that all I’ll have to do?” He cocked his head to one side.
“It won’t be as easy as standing on a street corner and letting men come to you,” I said gently. “It means mingling with people who might seem out of your normal reach. One night, you might go undercover as an escort, and another, you might be my date to a much-coveted and exclusive event.”
“Ooh, undercover.” His eyes lit up. “Are you like a super spy? CIA? FBI? Who do you work for?”
“Something like that.” I was nothing like those guys, but he didn’t need to know that. “I work with a very selective group of people and our operations are highly discreet.”
“And you won’t tell me why you want these men?”
“It’s best for you not to know any more than absolutely necessary about each case.”
“Is it dangerous?”
I slipped my hands into my pockets. “Yes, it can be, but you’ll never be alone. We’ll be around to extricate you from situations that might go wrong.”
He chewed on his bottom lip and tapped slender fingers on his knee. “Will you let me leave this room if I turn you down?”
“Yes, you’re free to go.” I hadn’t told him enough information for him to be any threat to my operation.
“And my dead body won’t be found in a ditch in another state if I leave?” he asked.
“What about in this state?”
My lips twitched, and I had to force back a grin by pretending to cough into my fist. Humor. Not bad. He was shaping up to being damn near perfect. He also had that ditzy blond thing going for him that some men found appealing.
“No, we need someone willing to do this so they can perform well. If that person isn’t you, you’re free to walk away.”
“Can I negotiate?”
I crossed my arms. “Maybe. Is there something you want?”
“There’s a cat café you have to take me to every week.”
He wasn’t asking for more money? “A what?”
“A cat café. You know where I can pet all the pretty pussies.”
This time my coughing fit wasn’t make-believe. Spit flew down my throat. I poured myself a glass of water, downed it, and sucked in a deep breath. I prided myself on never being rattled by anything, but he had, and not just once either.
There was something about him that made me uneasy. Maybe he wasn’t the right boy after all. I turned to him, his sweet grin and wagging eyebrows incinerating my doubts. He was perfect. Even if he got under my skin a little.
“Can’t you take yourself?”
“I can’t drive,” he said. “Plus, I think you’re too serious. Maybe if you stroke a few pussies too, it’ll put a smile right on your face.”
“Once a month,” I countered, ignoring the rest of his impossible statement. He was trying to get a rise out of me.
“Okay. You’ve got yourself a deal.”
“There’s a lot more to this job. We’ll have to train you—”
“Oh, I don’t think I’ll need that. I give a mean BJ, and I can ride better than any jockey.”
Did he ever stop? “Not that kind of training. I’m sure you have everything covered on that front.”
“On the back too.” He grinned and winked at me. Then his eyes brightened. “Are you going to want to see a demonstration?”
“Nope. I’ve seen enough. Besides, I highly doubt you’ll be required to sleep with anyone.”
“But I might.”
“Maybe. Is that going to be a problem?”
“Nope. I already do that for money, so it won’t make a difference.”
My stomach flipped at his casual attitude about the possibility of him having to sleep with someone. But that had always been a part of the job description. Wasn’t that the reason I’d picked out a prostitute who seemed capable of stepping outside his comfort zone while not giving up that side of him?
“All right, then. You have yourself a deal.”
“Umm. There’s just one problem.”
“Nolan won’t let me go just like that. I’m his highest earner.”
“Do you want to work for Nolan?”
He dropped his eyes, and for the first time since we met, he seemed uncomfortable. He plucked at the fur at the neckline of the bathrobe.
“No, but it could be worse. He doesn’t abuse us or anything. Unless we do something wrong, like steal from him.”
“And let me guess. You’re his favorite?”
Bright spots appeared on his cheeks. “Well, yeah, I make him good money.”
But that isn’t all, is it? I snapped my mouth shut before I could ask the obnoxious question that had absolutely nothing to do with me.
“I’ll ask again. Do you want to go back to your pimp? I’ll drive you there now if you’re positive that’s what you want.”
“No.” He whispered the word. “But my stuff is there. I need to get it.”
“Anything you’re attached to?”
“Not really, but it’s mine. I want it.”
I held out a hand before he could get agitated over me suggesting he left his stuff behind. “It’s okay. I’ll get your things for you by tomorrow. I just need you to tell me where I can find them.”
“On second thought, maybe it’s best to leave them. If you try to confront Nolan—”
“Let me worry about that. The only thing you should worry about is employing all your charm when it’s needed.”
“Is it needed now?” He blinked up at me innocently.
“I’m not gay,” I said clearly.
“Bi? Pan? Curious?”
“Nope. Just plain straight and boring. I’m whatever I need to be to get the job done.”
“A pity. About the straight thing, I mean. I doubt you’re boring.”
“Get dressed,” I said. “We need to leave the hotel. We’ll stay somewhere else for the night.”
He dropped back onto the bed and rolled all over the mattress. “But I just got here. This bed is so comfy. I’ve been sleeping on a bunk bed for the past six months.”
Spread out on the bed, he looked like a starfish. An adorable starfish who shouldn’t get involved with me. He probably wouldn’t have if I’d been completely honest with him about what exactly I did and who I worked for.
“What if I promise where I’m taking you for the night is just as nice?”
He sat up. “I’m listening.”
“Get dressed. Tomorrow, we’ll find you suitable accommodations and a new wardrobe.”
He rolled off the bed and ran for the bathroom. “I can’t decide yet if this is better than when I thought I’d have sex with you tonight!” At the door, he stopped and spun around. “Wait. Don’t you want to know my name?”
“Yes, I’ll need it to set you up with your new life, but bear in mind that to me, you’re simply bait.”
A flash of something crossed his features, but it was gone before I could identify what it was.
“I go by Kit. Kitson Sherman. What about you? Do you have a name?”
“You can call me Sullivan Matthews.”
“But that’s not your real name, is it?”
He gnawed on his bottom lip. “Will I ever know?”
“It’s easier this way. It’s just business.”
He straightened his shoulders, his face turning serious. “Right. Just business.”
He slipped into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
Art work of Kit from Lure.