“Charlie, you’re the best agent in the biz—and you know I love you—but you’ve got to stop worrying. I have everything under control.”
Wedging my phone between my ear and my shoulder, I stand up to stretch my back and rearrange some client folders behind my desk. It’s been six months since I signed a book deal with Smith and Collins publishers, and honestly? Things aren’t going great. But there’s no way in hell I’m letting my agent know that.
“That’s all well and good, Case, but your final deadline is in thirty days. Sure you’ll have a finished manuscript by then?”
Christ. Thirty days? When did that happen?
“Listen, I’ve been an escort for eight years now. You don’t get a mile-long waiting list by having no clue what you’re doing in the sack. Every man who reads this book will be a freaking sexpert in no time.”
“That’s what they’re paying you for, champ. As long as you deliver.”
My stomach churns. If I don’t figure something out soon, I’ll be completely screwed. I already used the advance they gave me for a down payment on a home for my mother. And more than anything else on the table right now, I can’t let that deal fall through.
“I’ll buckle down and get it done, okay? I promise. Look, I have a lot of paperwork to process, but I’ll talk to you later.” I hang up, dropping back into my chair and dragging a hand over the scruff on my face.
You want to know the truth? Thirty days until the deadline, and I’ve got nothing. Nada.
When I signed up to write a book on sex, I thought it would be a piece of cake. And in some ways, it is. I know exactly what I want to say. It’s just the whole putting-words-on-a-page thing that’s holding me back. Which I realize is kind of the entire fucking point.
My computer dings with a new email, reminding me that I still have a business to run. The email is from another woman hoping to schedule a date, plus a little extra after dessert. She requests me by name—a friend of hers gave her a referral—which only makes the knot forming in my stomach tighten.
I know my line of work is a little out of the ordinary. I’m aware that most guys my age are busting their asses for the man, and that I’ve got it pretty fucking good. It’s not exactly a hardship to fuck beautiful women for a living. Unless the one thing you’ve always been able to rely on suddenly goes out of commission.
That’s right. The last three times I took a woman to bed, I haven’t been able to get it up.
Let’s get one thing straight: there’s nothing wrong with my dick. I still wake up every morning with the little man saluting like a proud soldier.
But when it comes time to actually perform on the job? He’s been as limp and lifeless as a dead fish. Not even a twitch in my pants. Which means that unfortunately I’ve had to come up with an excuse at the last minute to rush out on my most recent dates—and give the ladies a refund, of course. So, yeah, my little problem is starting to cost me. And if I’m not careful, it might cost me in more ways than one.
If word gets out that Case fucking Smith can’t get a hard-on, I’m finished. Thank God those women don’t know each other and won’t be able to swap stories. I can’t let anything stand in the way of me making it big—something I’ve been telling myself is just around the corner for months now.
I grew up with nothing, and now I own a home and run a successful business that allows me to employ a half dozen of my friends. Plus, I’m in the process of buying my mom a home close by, something I’ve wanted to do from the moment I understood what bills were, and how difficult it was for us to pay them. My dad split when I was two years old, leaving my mom to work her ass off to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.
It’s always been just the two of us, and it’s about time I returned the favor. Business has been booming these past few years, and I’m so close to finally taking care of her, I can practically smell that fresh coat of paint. Only now, out of nowhere, my dick decides not to cooperate. Which is super inconvenient.
But just because I’ve taken a temporary hiatus from seeing clients doesn’t mean I’m not working. When a major publisher offered me a deal to write a book on sex and intimacy, I jumped at the chance. I’ve slept with more women than I care to remember, and if there’s one topic I know better than any other, it’s sex. This book should be a piece of cake—if I can just find a way to sit my ass in front of my computer and type.
A quick knock on the door snaps me out of my thoughts, and in strolls Ryder, my best friend and one of my employees. Frankly, I’m surprised he even knocked. Most of the time, he strolls in like he owns the damn place.
“Hey, do you have a sec?”
“Ryder Johnson in my office before ten? This must be important.”
He makes a face and plops down in the chair opposite my desk, swinging one arm over the back. His tousled dark blond hair is pushed back off his forehead, and the scruff that normally lines his jaw is gone, which can only mean one of two things. Either he has a date later—and I’m on top of my employees’ schedules enough to know that’s not the case—or he wants something. Bad.
“Nah, dude, I just wanted to come say hey, see what you’re up to.”
I fold my hands and rest my elbows on the desk, raising a single eyebrow.
He smirks. “Fine, you’re right. I have a favor to ask.”
“Lay it on me.”
“I was wondering if you could give my sister a job for the summer. Light office work or something like that. She just graduated from college and needs a way to make some money while she figures out her next move.”
I sigh, running one hand through my hair as the computer dings with new emails. “Look, Ryder, I don’t know. If I go around employing everyone’s little sister that needs a job—”
“I get that, but look, she’s not just my little sister. She’s, like, wicked smart. Super organized, crazy driven, totally type A. We don’t really have anyone managing things, and I think she could help out around here.”
He has a point. As if the stacks and stacks of paperwork on my desk didn’t already make that clear.
“Sure, why not. She can start Monday.”
“Really? No interview or anything? You’re giving her the job just like that?”
“What, now you’re telling me she’s not really up for the task? If she’s as smart and organized as you say, this job should be mind-numbing for her.”
“Thanks, man. I really appreciate it.”
“Don’t mention it. Now, go find a way to make that fresh shave of yours actually useful.”
Ryder smiles, nodding at the schedule open on my computer. “Got a new client for me, boss?”
“Actually, I think I do. I’ll send you the deets later today.”
He nods and saunters out of my office, probably to play video games and eat my food. Not that I really care. When it comes down to it, he’s good at his job. Having a six-pack and God-given good looks makes it easy.
I lean back in my chair and take a long look around the office.
Ryder’s right. We could use some help on the administrative front. I’ve always managed that side of things myself, but with how busy we’ve been lately, it’s been harder and harder to stay on top of it all. Add a book deadline to the load, and I could very well let one too many things fall through the cracks.
Besides, who knows what this girl’s major was in college? Maybe she can help me out with this book. God knows I could use the help.
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