Free Me (Page 26)

Free Me (The Found Duet #1)(26)
Author: Laurelin Paige

If he wasn’t, then we needed to decide how the expenses would work.

He scowled at me as he took me by my elbow and steered me through the doors. “I’m sure you can pay for things. That bothers me though. If it’s important to you to pitch in, I’ll try to deal. I don’t want you to feel like you’re being paid for services or anything.”

I thought about it while he led me to the front desk. There was a couple checking in ahead of us, so I had time to give him my response. “It doesn’t bother me. And I don’t feel like a hooker, if that’s what you’re suggesting.” I’d been offered the role before. It was a rite of passage where I came from. I knew the difference between being paid for something required to survive and enjoying the benefits of a lover’s deep pockets.

JC chuckled. “Good. Because you’re definitely not a hooker. I would have gotten at least a handjob on the ride over if you were.” The couple moved away from the desk, but before nudging me forward, JC whispered in my ear. “Besides, the handjob I did get was even better, if you ask me.”

Then he felt the same about the foreplay. Awesome.

The hotel desk clerk addressed us, disturbing the clouds of my buzz. “And what can I do for you, today, Mr.—”

“Uh, uh, uh.” JC cut him off quickly. “What’s with the Mr. stuff? You know we don’t do that, Joseph.”

The clerk smiled in a way that went beyond customer service. “Sorry, I forgot you asked me to call you JC. What can I do for you this morning?”

I wondered if anyone was immune to JC’s charms. Did he befriend everyone he met? It was so unlike me. It always felt like such an effort to be friendly, but JC made it seem so easy. Made it actually look like an attractive way to live.

JC half-leaned against the counter so that he was facing me. “Well, Joe, I’d like to introduce you to my good friend, Gwen. She’ll need to be added to my room and be given a key.”

“Certainly. Gwen, do you have a photo ID?”

I handed the gentleman my ID. After typing a minute into the computer, he handed me my card back, plus a room key. “Enjoy your day,” Joe said, and JC once again took my hand to lead me through the lobby.

The arousal that had waned to a hum while we’d dealt with adding me to the room notched back up to a buzz, spurred by my palm against his. “That was close,” I said as we waited for the elevator. “I almost heard your last name.”

“No kidding. Joe almost killed all the fun. I’d have had to get him fired then. Would have been too bad, too. He knows where to get the best Cubans.”

“At least now he can identify me if I go missing. In case you’re a serial killer or something.”

“Why do you think I had you check in now instead of later? I didn’t want you to worry.”

I hadn’t been concerned that he was going to hurt me, even though that was probably stupid. I’d been making a joke. JC, on the other hand, was trying to relieve any fears I might have. Again. For someone so laid-back, it was admirable how good he was at thinking of all the details. It was funny how seriously he was taking the task of helping me relax. Really, all I needed was the sex.

Also, it was kind of cute.

The elevator arrived and we stepped in. JC pressed the button to the forty-ninth floor, and something else began niggling at my thoughts.

We leaned against the railing and watched the numbers as they went higher. Six. Seven. Eight.

After we’d passed Ten, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. “He thinks I’m a high-priced call girl, you know. The desk clerk.” I really didn’t think I was a hooker, but that other people thought I might be one was a little less easy to swallow.

JC shook his head but didn’t look at me. “He thinks you’re my girlfriend.”

“No way.” Besides the fact that anyone who knew JC at all would know he didn’t have a girlfriend, I definitely did not fit the bill of who he’d be with if he did.

“He really does. I know he does.”

I looked to see if he was pulling my leg. His expression was completely serious. “How can you be so sure?”

“Because he sees me come in and out all the time. And I’ve never introduced him to any of my girls before.”

The elevator came to a stop, which seemed appropriate since my heart stopped for half a second at JC’s statement. The doors opened and I followed him out numbly as I tried to gather myself. My girls, he’d said. How many had there been? What number was I in his vast universe of starlets? I wasn’t comfortable standing out, but I didn’t know if I was comfortable being that anonymous. It also reignited my fears about JC and his decision to be monogamous. Could he really manage that? Could I trust him if he said he did?

But while I wondered at being a drop in a very large bucket, he’d also admitted that I was the only one he’d added to his room, and that was the worst part about what he’d said. That did make me feel special. Made me feel wanted for more than a night. Made me feel good about myself in ways I didn’t want to feel good about myself.

Made me want to reconsider my decision to be in a hotel with this man, heading to his room, and for very different reasons than fear of his infidelity.

I wondered if I could convince myself the doubts and the compliment canceled each other out. That could work, right?

By the time we reached his door, my palms were sweaty and my anxiety was beginning to outweigh my desire. He turned to me, concern in his eyes. “Are you still good?”

I bit my lip and nodded, afraid that if I tried to speak I’d say something I didn’t want to say. Like, I’m totally fine. Or worse, I need to go.

“Let’s make sure your key works.” He winked at me, which helped to ease my fears. A bit.

I pulled the card that Joe had given me from my pocket and handed it to JC. He slid it into the slot and the light turned green. “We’re a go,” he said.

He turned the knob and began to push the door, but before he’d opened it very far, I placed a hand on his arm to stop him. “JC, have you ever done this before?”

“Done what?”

I wasn’t quite sure what it was I meant by my question either, what it was that I was looking to glean from his answer. I knew he’d bedded other women, I knew he’d made at least one—the one that had spoken out at the club the night I’d met him—feel better because of her time with him. But the whole situation—the arrangement part, the monogamy—was that new? And how did I ask that exactly?