THE MASTER, the next sizzling book in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s Game Maker series, comes out February 17th—but you don’t need to wait until then to have a taste! Keep reading for an exclusive, sneak peek excerpt of the book!


 

CHAPTER ONE

Mi madre must be turning over in her grave right now.

As I rode the elevator to the penthouse of the ritzy Seltane Hotel—it’d taken two staffers to key me up to the fortieth floor—I chewed on a fingernail.

Was I really about to let some strange man have sex with me? For money?

The elevator arrived too quickly, forcing me onto a private landing with its own lobby and an elegant sitting area. An open newspaper lay on a coffee table, as if someone had recently left.

The entry—a pair of ornate mahogany doors—was just beyond, looming. Could I bring myself to ring the bell?

Apparently, this penthouse was one of the largest (more than ten thousand square feet) and the most expensive (thirty-two grand—a night) in Miami. Who in their right mind would spend that much money on a hotel? Clearly my first client was loco.

Other than that, I didn’t know much about him. He was a Russian businessman, here in Miami for a week. He’d been not only vetted but vouched for by sister escort agencies all over the world. In other words, he was a hobbyist, a routine user of escorts.

Tempted to bolt, I pulled out my phone to call my hookup, Ivanna. She was a Ukrainian immigrant and high-class escort, making bank; I was her cleaning lady. She thought my current employment was a waste of my “spectacular figure and fresh-faced beauty.” Yeah, yeah.

When she answered, I said, “I don’t think I can do this.” I began to pace the lobby, my stilettos silent on the plush beige rug.

“Of course you can. You don’t understand how badly I wish I could be there. If this man is renting the penthouse for a week, imagine how rich he is!”

The Russian had booked Ivanna, but she’d had a reaction to Botox (she was only thirty!). She’d thought she’d be okay by tonight, so she hadn’t called to cancel. A big no-no for escorts.

“If my eyes weren’t swollen shut . . .”

“Ivanna, I’m not at this point yet.” I’d been vacillating like crazy. Though I’d prepared to take a couple of dates—getting an exam and a waxing—I’d always suspected I’d balk. “I’m not here,” I insisted. But wasn’t I? Yesterday I could’ve sworn I’d seen Edward.

In Miami.

I’d been riding the bus home from a cleaning gig when I’d seen a tall, lanky blond stepping out of a bodega, striding toward a Porsche. The last time I’d seen him had been in the glare of headlights, his green eyes stark against his blood-coated face.

If he was here, then I needed to flee to a new city as soon as possible. But that took funds.

“You make this job sound so horrible,” Ivanna said. “You’re going to do great. You have the balls, and that’s half the battle!”

Despite my upbringing—or maybe because of it—I was pretty shameless. Even with my, ahem, generous ass, I’d proudly strutted the beaches of Jacksonville in a micro thong bikini. I’d gotten hot and heavy with all manner of high school boys, doing everything but screwing, earning a reputation as a cocktease. When I’d started having sex with Edward, I’d studied tips and tricks, anything to tempt him. So I knew how to get a guy sprung.

Ivanna said, “You’ll have inquiries from the agency site before you know it.”

She’d gotten the web guy for Elite Escorts to toss up a makeshift page for me, by promising him an HR. Hand release.

I knew all the lingo, had chuckled as she’d recited acronyms, never imagining I’d be using the lingo. A BBBJ was a bareback blowjob. Swallowing was BBBJNQNS—bareback blowjob, no quit, no spit. MSOG—multiple shots on goal—meant the client could come as many times as he liked in the specified time limit. “You shouldn’t have bothered with that web page for me.” I’d told her I would only do this once or twice, but she’d just smiled and said, “That’s what we all thought. Now pose for your site photo!”

“You only have a couple more minutes to be on time,” Ivanna said. “Take a deep breath, remember my three key points, and you’ll be fine.”

First, I should look for a nondescript envelope of cash lying on a conspicuous surface—my “donation.” I was to do nothing until I pocketed the money. And then? The name of the game was upselling, getting him to pay for services above and beyond the outcall, earnings that were all mine.

Second, since my client wasn’t likely to inspire arousal—despite the fact that I hadn’t had sex in forever and my libido was going crazy!—I’d need to figure out a way to furtively lube up.

Most escorts did. Lube made for safer sex and limited VF, vagina fatigue. Of course, a condom was mandatory.

Third, the majority of clients that used Elite Escorts liked ingratiating, sweet dates; I was a cheeky smartass. So I would have to curb my personality to succeed.

Damn it, I should never be in the service industry—in any capacity.

But I needed this money to run! I had my own rules, and in three years I’d never broken them.

  1. Never say anything above and beyond what is absolutely necessary.
  2. Never create links between you and anything else.
  3. Never stay in a place longer than six months.
  4. Never get soft.
  5. Never attract undue attention.
  6. Forgodsakes, never, never, never trust another man.

Without funds, I was going to break rule number three.

“Trust me, Cat, with your business savvy, you’re going to make a killing,” Ivanna assured me.

How savvy was I? Although I had six houses to clean each week—including hers—five of the women beat me up on my fee, assuming I was an undocumented worker from Cuba.

“Just have fun,” she said. “It doesn’t have to feel like work. Your waxing was probably more uncomfortable than your date could ever be.”

But . . . “It’s been more than three years since I slept with anyone.” And Edward’s pitiful attempts shouldn’t even count.

“That is . . . hmm. How strange,” she said, as if I’d told her I liked to wear other people’s skin. “We’ll discuss this later. For now, remember: sex is like riding a bike.”

I turned toward the elevator. “Mierda. I can’t. This was a mistake.”

Ivanna sighed. “I didn’t want you to get your hopes up too high, so I never told you my record for one night.”

“Are you going to now?” She’d been vague, saying the sky was the limit, but she’d refused to give me hard numbers.

“My record for a six-hour outcall is over twenty thousand in cash and jewels.”

Twenty. Thousand.

Money like that could catapult me directly into the next phase of my life plan! When I regained the power of speech, I sang, “And we’re off to fuck the wizard.”

She laughed. “I hope he’s a wonderful wizard. Oh, one last thing, Cat. You’re going to have a gut-check moment, and when you do, ask yourself: would I have sex with this guy for free? If the answer is yes, then why not view the money as a bonus?”

“Okay, muy bien. I can do this,” I said, psyching myself up.

“Go get ’em!”

Disconnecting the call, I turned to check my appearance in a lobby mirror. December was usually mild, but this year had been downright balmy, so I’d worn a wrap dress of forest-green silk. The style was understated, with a conservative neckline, in case he wanted to take me out, but the sides were held together by only a single bow at my hip. Stilettos gave a hint of naughty.

I twisted around to view the back. The thin silk was too tight across my ass, leaving little to the imagination. Nothing to be done for it now. I faced forward and eked out a smile.

I’d worn only lip gloss, mascara, and a touch of glittery bronze eye shadow. Ivanna said it brought out the vivid copper color of my irises, making my eyes look exotic, especially against my dark hair. I’d left the length of it down in long loose curls.

Makeup: in place. Hair: best that can be expected. Conclusion: If I were a horny Russian lech, I’d do me.

I checked my cell phone clock. I had less than two minutes to make an on‑time arrival. Stowing my phone in my purse, I pressed the doorbell, then gazed around, battling my nerves. I glanced at that newspaper on the coffee table again. Would a guy this rich have a bodyguard or something—

The door opened, revealing my first-ever client. In escort slang, he was DDG.

Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.

He looked to be in his midthirties, with a full head of thick black hair and a built body. He was well over six feet tall. His blue eyes were hooded, his penetrating gaze roaming over me.

He wore a lightweight cashmere sweater, winter white, that molded over his rigid pecs. The color made the piercing blue of his eyes pop. Dark, tailored slacks highlighted muscular legs and lean hips.

If I was ever going to lose my “escort cherry,” I couldn’t imagine a more ideal client.

Yet the Russian glanced behind me, as if he expected someone else to be there.

“It’s just me,” I said, surprised my voice sounded so casual when my heart was pounding.

Without a word, he turned, heading into a living area. I followed.

Accent lighting illuminated the tasteful modern décor. Floorto- ceiling panoramic windows offered what had to be the best view in the city. All the balcony doors were open, the sound of the waves reaching us even this high up. This place was huge, the size reminding me of my former mansion. Oh, to be rolling again . . .

He faced me. “I confirmed a woman named Ivanna. Your agency suggested her when I sent in my preferences.” His voice was deep and rumbly, his accent tingeing the words.

I was a sucker for men with accents. Edward’s slow Atlanta drawl used to light me up. Until I’d found out he was from England. “Ivanna was supposed to come tonight, but she had to call in sick.”

“I requested a tall, slender blonde, at least in her late twenties. Ideally from Europe. Perhaps her substitute could have matched any of my requests.”

Instead he’d gotten me—twenty-two, five feet two inches tall, curvy, brunette. Oh, and one generation away from Cuba. Giving him a fake smile, I teasingly said, “Isn’t variety the spice of life, querido?” Sweetheart.

He wasn’t budging. “You’re not what I ordered.”

I, above all people, knew that you shouldn’t have to pay for something you never asked for. I had a flash memory of Edward edging toward his gun, moments after declaring his love for me.

“Are you even of legal age?” the Russian grated.

“And then some.”

He looked unmoved.

I’d read and reread Getting to Yes, and I thought I could finagle one night out of this guy. But then, was I really ready to take this step? “I can’t change your mind?”

When his expression grew even colder, I was glad he was about to kick me out. I would make a better outlaw than I would an escort. Outlaw? Give it time, Cat.

In a stern tone, he said, “I never reverse myself on decisions.”

I shrugged. “Okay, your loss.” How confident I sounded! Like a working-girl pro. Relieved, I turned toward the door, sauntering away—

I thought I heard him hiss in a breath.

Mierda. Knowing my luck, I’d split the seam in my dress.