“Abigail Swanson, this is Sean Drennan.”
Ron introduced him like it was a legitimate interview, like he wasn’t standing there in the spacious office applying for a job in porn. It felt weird.
“He’s finished the application. We’ll do the rest after he’s done with you.”
Sean extended his hand and was quickly greeted with a sweet smile. An innocent, full pair of lips parted to reveal white teeth beneath. Had he ever seen a sweeter smile? Not one focused in my direction.
She took his hand into her soft grip. “Mr. Drennan, it’s nice to finally meet you. Ron has told me a lot about you.”
He has? Like what, the size of my dick or how many reps I can do on the trap bar?
He knew his hand lingered too long, but God, she was fucking with his head. Abigail Swanson was supposed to be a porno filmmaker, one of those dirty women wearing black latex and carrying a riding crop. A Jenna Jameson or Heidi Fleiss.
The woman standing behind the metal desk was no Jenna and definitely no Heidi. She was apple pie and pompoms. She was the girl who wouldn’t have given him the time of day in high school. She’s a sly-look-and-run-away, just like the woman in the cafe. Only ten times hotter.
The long auburn waves hung past her shoulders, and that shirt... Betty Boop, really? And jeans?
He wasn’t complaining. They hugged her full curves. He’d been so used to the gym girls he’d forgotten what real women looked like. They looked like Abigail Swanson. Think, dumbass!
“Sorry I’m late, Ms. Swanson.” He let her soft skin slide across his palm as she released his hand. The loss was instant.
“It’s all right. The rain was coming down pretty hard. I’m sure the drive took a while. Please.” She motioned to the wingback chair in front of the desk. “Have a seat.”
Sean swiped his gaze over the room. It was decorated like the lobby, only more spacious... and with more plants. He wanted to smile. The air carried a hint of something spicy, exotic. Incense, he concluded when he glanced over to see the ceramic Buddha holding the thin stick. Filmy curls of smoke waved up only to disappear. It was massage-parlor-meets-boardroom.
Ron handed her his application. “I can fax a resume over.” They both stared at him as if he’d spoken Vulcan. “I mean, if you want it.”
Ron grinned. “And what kind of qualifications would we find on that resume, Sean?”
The guy was fucking with him. He felt like an ass. Of course they didn’t want to hear about his internships and degree qualifications. There was only one requirement for this job, and it sure as hell wasn’t listed under the achievement section on his resume.
“Right.” Sean decided to shut his mouth and stick to just answering their questions.
“Ron, could you shut the door on your way out?” Abigail’s expression was neutral as she continued to flip through the pages of his application.
“Sure you don’t want any coffee?” Ron asked.
Sean readjusted in the seat. The chair felt too small. “No, thanks.”
Ron left, leaving behind a room full of silence. Sean waited for her to read through the application and drop the bomb that he’d heard so many times before.
“I see you left the fetishes section blank.” She finally looked up at him. Her gaze flitted to the computer screen, then back again. “Is there a reason why?”
Sean wanted to swallow his tongue. That section was on the next-to-last page. That meant she’d already read his answer to the have you ever been in jail
question. He’d been incarcerated, and she chose to ask him about his lack of fetishes? He didn’t know what to say. He decided to treat the conversation like one of the million other interviews he’d been on over the last year.
“I don’t have any fetishes, but I’m open to new experiences.” Good answer.
“I see. So you don’t prefer blondes to brunettes. How about voyeurism to exhibitionism?”
What to what?
“I like to watch women swim in the nude. Does that count?”
He didn’t smile until she did. Her lips parted like a blossoming rose.
“Of course watching women swim naked would count. It’s rather vanilla, but it counts just as much as a man who enjoys watching a woman smoke a cigar. It’s all relevant to the one with the fantasy. Do you have a preference for skinny women or full-figured women?”
“Men like that, watching women smoke cigars? I have a preference, I guess, but it wouldn’t interfere with me performing my job.”
By the way she ignored his answer, she didn’t seem too happy with his response. “Sure, men and women like a lot of things, even smoking cigars. We’re here to provide a visual experience of their fantasies. Has Ron filled you in on what Fantasy Emporium really is?”
Sean thought about it. No, he hadn’t. All Ron had said was that he had what the company was looking for, and he could make some fast cash doing porn films. He didn’t want to sound like he hadn’t done his research, but he hadn’t done his research. “Yeah. Yes. He told me the company makes pornographic films.”
By the way she lifted her eyebrows, he knew she’d caught him bullshitting. “Come here.” Sean leaned against the edge of the desk as she turned the computer screen so he could see it. Her nimble fingers flew over the keys. Her fingernails weren’t the ones with the white tips. All the women who talked to him had fake fingernails, fake tans, and fake tits too. The chipped pink nail polish made his stomach do something weird.
“This, Mr. Drennan, is Fantasy Emporium.”
Sean pulled his attention to the computer. The lavish colors flowed across the screen. The tabs were gold-colored with intricate scrollwork laced throughout the page.
“It’s a Web site designed for custom pornography. See here?” She moved the cursor over the sign in
tab. “First, the client must create an account. After that, they can go to the site and simply sign in and begin their adventure. Everything is kept confidential. They pay with a PayPal account or credit card. The information is secure. My clients can order with the utmost discretion. We have many clients from all over the world.”
He was kicking himself in the ass for not checking out the Web site sooner. The decision to take Ron up on his offer was last minute. He’d gotten the bill for his tuition and made a rash decision. His bank account was almost in the negative, and the tank in his truck was on E. Either he could put gas in the truck to get to the rec center to meet with the guys, or he could eat for the next few days. The tank was now half full, and he drank the last of the milk with the last of the cereal this morning. He hadn’t even thought about checking out the Web site. Just chalk it up to another one of his bonehead moves.
“Okay.” What else was he supposed to say?
Her eyes shot up. “Okay? It’s more than okay.”
So was the color of her eyes. Blue. Not just any blue, but blue like a summer sky. He gave her a sharp nod. She filled in the two slender boxes, and the screen changed. “They can click here to see the cast, or performers, as we call them. Those are the men and women who the client can choose from to star in their videos. The price of the video goes up with each additional performer they pick. Like, here.” She moved the curser over cast
and clicked the black mouse.
A new screen popped up. The couple on the business card Ron had given him was on the screen. One side was labeled women
and the other men
. She slid the mouse, and over a dozen pictures popped up. The women were diverse. Every type of woman was represented right there for the clients to choose from.
“I appreciate that you’ll be able to perform no matter what your preference is, but it makes for a hotter scene if you connect with someone you’re attracted to. So what is your preference?” She asked the question like she wanted to know if he wanted white or wheat.
“Um, I’m not sure if I want to answer that.” You. What the fuck?
“Well, you’d be expected to be with all kinds of women.” She started to pick at the chipped pink fingernail polish. “Or men.”
Hell to the no!
“Wait, Ron didn’t say anything about--”
“Calm down, Mr. Drennan. You can turn down any request. If you don’t prefer to be with men, then you simply say no. I will
tell you that each job pays the same. Couple sex, I mean, whether you’re with one woman or one man. There’s no higher price for same-sex arrangements. The big bucks come in for group scenes and anal.”
God, was this woman real? She spoke filth with the ease of the businessmen he’d interviewed with. Tax credits versus anal sex. Capital investment versus a blowjob. Abigail Swanson was a businesswoman, plain and simple.
“If we come to an arrangement and you sign a contract with us, I’d like for you to familiarize yourself with the site. You can set up an account. We offer a thirty percent discount to employees.” Sean wanted to laugh but thought better of it. She looked so serious. “There’s a section for toys and supplies. Some of our clients like to order accessories to go along with their videos.”
He leaned back into the chair. “Okay.”
“Now, I see here you...” She flipped through a couple of the pages. Here it comes. The question. Get ready, dickhead, to explain yourself right out of the job again
. She continued without looking up from his application. “You listed one of your hobbies as working out.”
Her bright gaze tilted just slightly to take him in. There it was--the familiar look. This woman was no different from the others. He had to give her credit. It had taken her longer than most to give his body the once-over.
“Yeah, I work out about four or five times a week.”
“Uh-huh, and you checked the single box?”
Now she looked at him full-on. “Yes.”
Blink, blink. The dark crescents of her lashes almost reached her pale cheeks. Well, her now blushing cheeks. He might have become a hardened asshole at a young age, but he wasn’t heartless. Not yet anyway. She was embarrassed and so fucking cute. The woman sitting on the other side of the desk might as well have been sitting on the other side of the world. She was way out of his league.
“Do you have any questions for me?”
Was she serious? “What kind of things will I be expected to do? How much money will I get paid? Will my picture be on the Web site like the others? How do I get chosen to do a video?”
She started to fiddle with the edge of the paper. Her once confident stare shifted back to the computer screen, then to some far-off point behind him.
“Um, you’ll only have to take part in the things you’re comfortable with. Your income from each video will range from $500 to $2,000 depending on the scene. And, yes, you will have your picture on the Web site with a small profile of information, your likes and hobbies. Things like that. It makes the client feel like you’re his or her personal actor. They like that.”
Sean sighed. God, the money sounded great.
The sound of Abigail clearing her throat made him look up, “If you’d like, Ron can give you a tour and show you how it works. The interview actually progresses. You were honest on your application, and I appreciated how you tried your best to answer all the questions. I know some of them are a bit out there. Most of the people who come in here put down some interesting answers, but yours seem genuine. So you passed the application section. That’s the first part of the interview process. Since you passed the first part, you get to go on the tour. Then, well...we’ll discuss that part when we get to it.”
“I passed the first part?”
“You sound surprised.” The blush skating across her cheeks glowed like hot embers. Pretty
. “Yes, you passed this part of the interview.” She scooted the chair back and walked around the desk.
What did he have to lose? He stood up. “Can I ask you another question?”
She stopped beside him. Sean noticed her cute bright red toenails. The faded jeans fit her snugly in all the right places. Thick thighs, slightly rounded belly. God, he could fall asleep next to that. Whose fucking head are you in? Get your shit together, Drennan!
“Sure,” she said.
“What do most people ask for? I mean, what kind of videos?”
He followed her to the doorway. “Honestly, not as much sex as you’d think. Mostly, they want to see intimacy on the screen. They want that part of the fantasy they lack at home, a glance, that first conversation, the magical moment just before a kiss.”
“Is it mostly women who order that sort of thing?”
Her soft laugh was a soothing massage over his muscles. “Some, but not all. You won’t know who you’re performing for. That information is kept confidential. But, rest assured, when you see your paycheck, you won’t care if you’re acting for the president or a waitress.” She leaned her hip against a tall file cabinet. The gesture emphasized the dip in her waist. “Can I ask you a question?”
He fought the urge to cross his arms over his chest. “Yes.”
“What’s an ex-con doing with a business degree?”
She was to the point. He admired that. The others skated around it like it was cancer, asking about it like it was an apology for the test results. “I got my degree while I was incarcerated. The prison had an outreach program, and I qualified. I had a high school diploma when I went in.”
“And what were you in for?”
He noticed she didn’t step back, didn’t make that slight shuffle of her feet to politely get away from him. She kept her eyes focused on his face. No nonsense. “Fighting. I was involved in illegal fighting and got caught.” Half-truth.
She stuffed her hands in the front pockets of her jeans. The movement pressed her ample breasts together. Were her nipples small and pink or fat and dusky? God, he wanted to find out. It was his turn to shift his stance. Shit, she was sexy and didn’t even know it.
“I didn’t know fighting was illegal.”
“Yeah, the kind of fighting I did is, and I did it for money.” Truth.
“Thank you for your honesty.”
Now he felt like shit. A few months; I can handle anything for a few months. Fuck, I fought my way through hell for five years. I can do two months of this.
“So do you shoot all the scenes here?” He tried to steady his voice as he followed Abigail Swanson, unlikely pornography queen, out of her office.
ABIGAIL FELT LIKE her big ass had one of those truck horns attached to it. The moment she decided to step backward, the familiar beep...beep...beep
would sound off. Why couldn’t he walk beside her down the hallway? She looked over her shoulder. Yep, Sean Drennan was still there. All tight white dress shirt and perfectly bulging slacks quietly followed behind her sashaying ass.
His beautifully full lips tilted at one corner. Damn if he wasn’t the most luscious thing she’d ever laid eyes on. She’d interviewed quite a few great-looking guys, but none revved her engine like Mr. Drennan. She’d noticed the black ink Ron had been talking about. He’d worn a long-sleeve dress shirt rolled up at the cuffs, just enough to reveal the tips of the dark marks on his forearm. She couldn’t wait to see the rest of the tattoo.
She wasn’t surprised to find that he’d been in jail. He had that look about him. Hardened, jaded, but so handsome--so damn sexy. His tight jaw looked like he’d just shaved. And his dark hair was cropped close to his head. If he hadn’t been in jail, she would’ve sworn he’d just stripped out of fatigues.
Crap, she felt like she had two hot pokers sticking in her butt cheeks. Please don’t jiggle. Please don’t jiggle
. If she’d learned anything in this business, there were guys out there who went for curvy girls. Even some of the guys built like Sean admired a fuller figurer. Yep, desire came in all sizes and shapes. Sean would have to be filed away in her brain under the naughty fantasy tab.
She glanced back again. The chocolate brown irises behind her lifted. He was checking out my butt!
The thought made her brain almost forget that the slight flirtation couldn’t go any further. Not only because he was a potential employee... The other reason made her stomach sink and her hands shake. What if Justin found her again? The thought was unbearable.
“Um, if you go through there, Ron will take you through the warehouse and explain the process of how we film and get a scene ready. We have several sets and even do a lot of work outside the studio. Carl, he’s one of our cameramen, is a retired marine, and we use his cabin for some of the shoots. Janice, she does costumes, we use her apartment, and Ron’s boyfriend has a gorgeous house with a bathroom the size of Atlanta. A lot of people request bathroom scenes.”
She was impressed. He wasn’t rattled when she’d mentioned Ron’s boyfriend. Had Ron already told Sean he was gay?
Abigail stepped closer. The scent of something woodsy and spicy wafted over her, making her knees weaken. “I thought you’d be taller.”
He blessed her with a wicked smile. “Yeah? Am I too short for the job?”
She rose up on her tiptoes. He was still taller than her. But then again, everybody was. “Not at all. I guess those fighters on that TV show aren’t very tall either.”
The smile on his face melted. Had she said something wrong?
“By those fighters
I assume you mean the mixed martial arts fighters?”
Her tiptoes deflated. “Um, yeah, I guessed that’s what you meant by illegal fighting. Wasn’t that type of fighting illegal at one time? My brother’s obsessed with those pay-per-views. I think he said it was banned in some countries or something.”
“Some forms of it still are.” His stern tone made her feel off balance; everything about the guy was sending her senses into overdrive. She was surprised she didn’t fall right over. She stepped back.
“Is...is that the type of fighting you did?” Justin’s fighting was illegal too. No one but her knew about it, but he fought with her constantly. He’d pick fights about the new drapes she’d ordered or what she’d made for dinner, any excuse to lay a hand on her.
Sean folded his thick arms over his even thicker chest. “Yes.”
Illegal fighting, drop subject. Bury it, under a rock, under a pyramid. Got it
. She spun around. “Ron’s right through there.”
Ron stepped through the open door. “Hey, man, you ready to see how this circus works?”
Her belly did a funny flip-flop when Sean stopped at the doorway and looked back at her. “I think so.”
She watched Sean follow Ron into the main studio, telling herself it wasn’t because his ass looked tight and high in those black slacks. And he did fit the profile perfectly. The order specifically stated, “Guy like in Marky Mark underwear ad only with big tattoo all over arm.” Sean fit that bill and more. His handsome face was blessed with a dangerously sexy smile. Not that he’d let her see it all that much. It was a plus that he didn’t act like an ass. Usually, men who looked like he did were conceited jerks. Anyway, he’d get a physical and lab work done. Then after all the formalities, she could hire the sexy fighter.
The final test would be the real deciding factor. Please, dear God, be able to pass the final test. I can’t wait to see him try
. Abigail went to grab a cup of coffee and wait impatiently in the blue room.