The raspy, soulful voice of Amos Drynn, the lead singer of Frankenstein’s Blood, swept over Tiffany like a dark caress. But she ignored the prickling of awareness that rippled over her skin and instead showed the backdoor bouncers her VIP pass.
She smiled at security as they stepped aside to allow her past and into the converted warehouse. Chin tilted high, she ignored their lustful stares as the heels of her sharp-tipped stilettos clicked down the corridor as though she’d taken to the catwalk.
She’d acted the part of temptress and femme fatale enough times to slip into its comfortable skin, and to expect both men and women to involuntarily stare. Her smile widened. To expect men, and occasionally women, to want her badly enough to pay for the privilege.
Not that it was just about looks. She’d learned early in her profession that charisma was as much about confidence and poise, and taking genuine interest in a client. She’d also learned that sometimes the wealthiest and best looking men weren’t getting their deepest needs met, sexually, or emotionally.
Despite the soundproof walls, the powerful music grew in volume as Amos belted out one more song she knew word-for-word.
I want a faithful lover
A woman I can trust
Don’t need a second mother
Our passion turning to dust
It’s you and me, baby
You’re my one and only…
Her gut pulled with envy at the woman who’d one day be just that for Amos and more. Unlike Tiffany, whose very profession ensured such a feat was near impossible.
A sudden flurry of nerves struck deep in her belly, leaving her nauseous. There were times, like now, when her confidence suddenly deserted her, when anxiety sucked away all positive emotion. Her hand shook as she opened her black clutch and slipped her VIP pass inside. The ticket would be a keepsake she’d treasure forever.
Drawing in a deep, steadying breath, she slowed as she neared the stage doors where a couple of roadies in their standard dusty jeans and logoed t-shirts watched the wrap-up of the show from the sidelines.
They didn’t glance her way. They were probably well used to women hovering around the fringes, whether it was girlfriends, lovers, or wives. Not to mention paid women like herself.
After her friend and fellow call girl, Scarlet, had left behind her professional life and moved onto a brighter than bright future, Tiffany had jumped at the job offer that had come her way. Her mouth dried. What woman wouldn’t want to become Amos’ latest companion? But unlike Scarlet and her other friend Brandy, not every call girl was lucky enough to have a client fall in love with them.
After a failed affair with a client who was also a married man, Tiffany knew better than most that the men she met in her line of work weren’t always honorable. She sighed. If Toby hadn’t been her client, she mightn’t now be so cynical about every other man’s intentions. Instead, she’d discovered that falling in love was a huge mistake, one she didn’t ever care to repeat.
She drew in another steadying breath. She’d make the most out of this assignment, her feelings firmly disconnected, just the way her client expected.
The lead singer of Frankenstein’s Blood wouldn’t be impressed if he knew she was a huge fan. So she’d pretend disinterest. It was why she’d deliberately avoided the concert until it was almost over. Now that she was doing her best to put Toby behind her, she’d resume her professional role, and stay that way until she was out of the call girl business for good.
That won’t be happening anytime soon. She squeezed her eyes shut, doing her best to ignore the snide voice, and once again push aside the constant gnawing ache that pressed in on her from all sides.
A little over five years ago, her father had been crushed by a truck while he’d been unloading from it with a forklift. His head and spinal injuries meant he’d needed a specially designed house and full-time care. Sending him to a nursing home wasn’t even an option; it’d send her once independent dad to an early grave.
How different both their lives might be right now if her mother hadn’t run off with her dad’s best friend… if her mother hadn’t left behind Tiffany as a twelve-year-old to be raised by the man who’d been left crushed in spirit long before the truck had done the same to his body.
Tiffany’s lashes fluttered apart. She didn’t need her mom. She’d gotten out of the financial mess by working as an escort, and would continue to work as one for a long as it paid the bills and she’d saved enough for a secure future.
In the meantime, if Amos wanted the public to see a sexy and beautiful woman on his arm, one without any baggage, then that was what she’d give him. She wouldn’t be throwing herself at him, or fall to pieces like some rabid teenage girl. She’d repress all of her fangirl enthusiasm.
It shouldn’t be too hard a feat, not after Toby had blackened her heart with empty promises and meaningless assurances.
Sensing the attention of the roadies, she forced a smile their way. Their stares slid back to the stage as Amos’ husky tone soared into a controlled tenor, and then cut off with the conclusion of the song.
The crowd roared, clapping thunderously even as Amos thanked the Sydney crowd for their support and said goodnight.
She swallowed hard. In a matter of seconds, she’d finally meet the lead singer of Frankenstein’s Blood, whose raw ballads never failed to twist her insides with yearning, and whose powerful lyrics could rocket her from misery to a rush of powerful, positive emotions.
She’d soon find out all there was to know about her rock star idol. But the cynical part of her wondered if disappointment would override any and all starstruck emotion once she got to know the real him.
Life wasn’t fairytales and rainbows, no matter how much she worked at making her clients believe just that.
The lead guitarist, Jaimee Redden—J.R. to all his fans—walked through the opened stage doors. His eyes widened at seeing her, before he winked and drawled, “Hey, baby, looking for me?”
Even if she hadn’t sensed his swaggering self-importance, she would have smelled the whiskey on his breath a mile away.
She resisted stepping back. “No, I’m here for Amos.”
Jaimee shook his head, his long, curly hair bouncing, and his eyes hardening as he looked her over again with a curled lip. “Like he needs to pay a woman to fuck and have a good time.”
She’d met people like Jaimee. Deep down, they were insecure nobodies who tried to make her feel less high-class and more cheap whore. All of them were hypocrites at best and this man was no different. It was more than obvious he took advantage of the groupies. She could well imagine his personal motto. Why pay for the cow when I can get the milk for free?
At least she didn’t exploit her clients. Men like Amos were more than willing to exchange cash for pleasure.
She smiled sweetly. “I guess you get what you pay for.”
A dark, sexy chuckle sent little shivers down her spine, and she turned as Amos stepped toward her and murmured, “Not to mention less trouble, more fun.”
The lead guitarist faded from existence as she swallowed past her suddenly dry throat. Up close and personal, Amos was pure masculine sin. Tall and broad, his powerful arms could easily hold a woman up against a wall while he fucked her into submission. His skin was damp with sweat, and she stifled an urge to inhale his musky scent deep into her lungs, then lick his tattooed arms and follow wherever the ink led.
Amos paused, his tight leather pants outlining an impressive bulge. Her womb clenched. Sex with most of her clients was just part of her job description, mostly pleasurable and occasionally boring. But nothing about Amos would be dull. Everything about him was exciting and she craved to get him naked and even more gloriously sweaty.
He cocked his head to the side, his stare gleaming with approval. “You must be Tiffany.”
She managed a nod and a smile, her pulse beating out of rhythm and her skills as a conversationalist scattered like dust to the wind. Amos made her feel as skittish as a newly handled filly, yet sexy in a whole new way, like she was a virgin stepping out in the form-fitting, little black dress for the very first time.
“You’re happy to go to the afterparty with me, yes?” he asked, looking amused by her tongue-tied silence.
She nodded again, and then managed, “Yes, of course. I’m looking forward to it.”
Hopefully it wouldn’t be too out there. She’d heard what went on at some afterparties. But she couldn’t back out now. Her reputation was at stake, along with the VIP Desire Agency she worked for. Besides, those afterparties were one of the reasons he paid for an escort. He wanted to keep the crazies at bay, at the same time he fostered his wild boy image.
The rest of the band members marched past, a bearded man wolf-whistling in appreciation as he all but undressed Tiffany with his eyes.
Amos cocked a brow. “Piss off, Tommy, she’s mine.”
She recognized Tommy, he was the talented drummer whose beats held together the rock ballads, and became the frenzied, driving pulse of the heavier rock tunes. He scraped a hand over his closely shorn hair and grinned carelessly. “You always get the cream of the crop, lucky bastard.”
Amos returned the grin. “Only lucky in that I have impeccable taste.”
Tommy shook his head ruefully and disappeared into a door further down the corridor, the same room the rest of the band members had entered.
Amos swept out a hand. “After you, gorgeous Tiffany. I need to shower and change at my hotel before we leave for the afterparty.”
She looked up at him as they strolled down the corridor, grateful he slowed his long-legged stride to accommodate her smaller steps. “I could have met you at your hotel room?”
“Yes. But I thought you might enjoy the concert first.”
She hid a wry smile. “I’m not really a fan.” The lie came all too easily after she’d put her trust in Toby. Her former client and lover had damaged a part of her that she had doubts would ever heal. She’d never expose the vulnerable part of her heart ever again. Not for any man.
Amos’ breath whistled through his lips. “Ouch. Shot down in flames!”
Despite her best intentions, she giggled at his mock outrage, sounding more like a silly schoolgirl than the classy woman he’d no doubt envisaged. It didn’t stop him from smiling and curling an arm around her, his big, sweaty body pressed against her slender frame, and his large hand covering much of her bared skin through the backless dress.
Somehow, she didn’t mind, not even a little. His touch burned through her flesh and awakened dormant nerve endings, her knees going weak. What woman wouldn’t have melted into a puddle of bliss at his touch? What woman wouldn’t die just a little to be underneath his warm, honed body?
The opened door revealed a VIP lounge, where at least a dozen women vied for the band members’ attention. One young woman in a minidress and chunky-heeled boots had already locked lips with Jaimee, both of them seemingly oblivious to their audience.
Tiffany resisted rolling her eyes. J.R. was a jerk, plain and simple. She only wished the groupie with stars in her eyes knew better. But Tiffany was grateful at least that none of the other women saw Amos bypass the room. She wanted him all to herself and was glad she didn’t have to watch him fend off a dozen screaming fans, before their hostile eyes turned her way.
Despite the fact her profession paid the bills and saved her father from rotting in an old people’s home, it wasn’t an easy career. Little wonder her anxieties had been triggered tonight.
She exhaled once they were safely out of range of the VIP lounge. Her next inhalation dragged in Amos’ delicious, musky sweat mixed with something exotic and dark. She resisted sighing. He probably had cologne made especially for him.
When something close to a purr instead rumbled deep in her throat, she gulped down the sound and distracted herself by taking in the converted warehouse building. Even with limited theater seating and tickets at a premium price, she’d heard it was the offstage shadowy intimacy, contrasting ocher walls and eclectic prints, reminiscent of bold art deco, that helped secure many top performers.
Not that Frankenstein’s Blood needed the incentive of money. They’d be rolling in it already.
The bouncers she’d seen earlier barely hid their knowing smirks as they opened the back exit doors to allow her and Amos outside. Amos then led her through the reserved parking lot, to a shiny red muscle car that screamed V8 power.
He opened her passenger door, a true gentleman, and she smiled up at him and said, “Nice car.”
He grinned. “Meet Suzy, my ’69 Ford Mustang.” His sigh sounded almost forlorn. “They don’t make cars like they used to.”
The door clunked shut behind her before he folded his big body into the driver’s seat and turned the ignition. The engine roared into life before he backed the car out with practiced ease.
Once out on the street, he glanced at her, the flash of streetlights revealing the interested glint of his eyes. “So tell me about yourself.”
Clients never asked about her private life, and she wasn’t about to be an open book to the first client who showed interest. She smothered a sigh. It was bad enough Toby had learned so much about her. She shrugged and said in an offhand tone, “What can I say? I’m a call girl. I fuck rich men like you for money.”
His teeth gleamed in the gloom. “What can I say? I like your honesty.”
“No point in pretending I’m something I’m not.”
“True.” His hands curled easily around the steering wheel, his energy after his big performance clearly not diminished. “I imagine taking care of a man’s physical needs is both a risky and rewarding profession.”
She looked his way, trying not to lower her defenses. He might be a rock god, but she sensed he was also a genuinely nice guy. Then again, she’d been wrong before. “Yes.”
He indicated to turn at the T-intersection ahead. “You don’t like talking about yourself. Is that a call girl thing?”
She ignored the peculiar burning sensation in her chest when she asked, “I don’t know. Did Scarlet?”
He exhaled and then cleared his throat. “To be honest, I wouldn’t know. I never asked her anything personal.” He glanced her way. “Not once.”
She refused to allow his revelation to go to her head.
Instead, she conceded, “Call girls don’t encourage personal topics. We tend to listen, not chat about ourselves.” She looked his way. “It’s all part of our service.”
He nodded. “I get it.”
She smiled, changing the subject and adding huskily, “So let’s talk about you.”
A faint frown wrinkled his brow. “You know, you don’t need to act the call girl, not for me. I’m happy for you to be yourself.”
She blinked. If he only knew how much she really did want to know about him. “I’m genuinely interested to hear more about you, especially the person behind the singer.”
He shrugged, evidently going along with her interest. “On stage, I’m basically public property. Offstage, I’m an intensely private person, despite the spotlight. Give me country peace and quiet to the frenetic pace of the city any day.”
He stopped at a red traffic light, for a moment his attention turning wholly to her. “Other than that, there’s not all that much to tell. I sing and hope someone will be inspired in some way… or at the very least enjoy my music.”
She knew without a doubt he had a whole lot more to share, but she wasn’t in the business to push for information. He’d tell her what he wanted, and she was happy with that. After all, he wasn’t the only one keeping things private. She lived in a whole different world to the life she had as a call girl.
Still, she couldn’t help but add, “Your music influences thousands of fans. I imagine it’s a heady feeling.”
He nodded. “It is. But it’s also daunting at times. What if I write a song that negatively affects someone?” He glanced back at her. “What if I sing something that reminds someone of an incident they’d rather forget?”
She couldn’t help but smile. “Sometimes being reminded about something you’d rather forget is a good thing. No matter how negative it might feel at the time.”
“It sounds as though you’re speaking from experience.”
She’d already told him she wasn’t a fan. There was no way she was going to admit to the devastation she’d experienced on hearing the one song that’d reminded her all too vividly of Toby’s betrayal. A reminder she needed to have so as to never let something like it happen again.
Instead, she shrugged and said, “Maybe.”
He rubbed at his brow, his voice dry. “I’ll have to remember you don’t talk about yourself. So let’s talk about something else?”
Her taut shoulders relaxed. “Sure.”
He glanced her way, his stare glinting. “I imagine affecting people so effortlessly with your looks and charisma must also be a heady feeling?”
She hid a smile. As a handsome as hell rock god, he’d understand all too well.
But she’d play along. “It can be daunting at times too. High expectations and all that.”
He chuckled. “Well, you have nothing to fear from me. I have no expectations aside from enjoying looking at you while we socialize until some ungodly hour of the morning.”
The car dashboard was already inching toward midnight. The hours would tick by far too quickly for her liking. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe he didn’t find her attractive enough to take to bed. Or maybe he wasn’t attracted to the opposite sex, period. No. There was too much sexual tension between them to imagine he wasn’t interested.
When Amos pulled up at a hotel that gleamed golden under its many lights, and which washed him in a glow that made him appear even more magnificent, she shivered with yearning.
Even Toby hadn’t affected her with this carnal need that had her pulse hammering and her womb clenching. No client or lover had made her feel this intensity of need.
A valet appeared out of seemingly nowhere and opened Tiffany’s door. She smiled thanks before the young man handed Amos a claim ticket in exchange for a large tip. The valet beamed approval and jumped into the car to drive it to the parking area beneath the hotel.
Amos stepped toward her and held out his arm. “Let the night begin.”
End of Excerpt