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Authors: Tabitha A Lane

Trade

TRADE

 

by

 

Tabitha A Lane

TRADE

By Tabitha A Lane

 

Kindle
Edition,
Copyright © 2015 Tabitha A Lane

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Chapter
One

 

“Her nipples must
hurt like hell.”

The air, sweet with the scent of wildflowers, was warm against Max’s
skin. Like the woman standing next to her, she stared into the periwinkle blue
sky at the small pink dot.

“You couldn’t pay me to do that.”

She glanced over. A look of horror marred the face of her assistant,
Cameron Bailey as she squinted into the sky.

“Luckily, she’s paying us.” After six months running F.M.R., nothing
surprised Max.
Fantasies Made Real
catered to anyone who had a fantasy
and the money to fulfil it, with only one rule. They never did the same fantasy
twice. Today’s client, Jackie Moore, was a fifty-something who’d always yearned
to skydive naked. Strapped to the tandem skydiving instructor, she hurtled
toward earth through the clear skies.

“Should we be watching her?” Cam frowned. “I don’t want to make the
woman uncomfortable—should I look away, or at her when she lands?”

Max’s hand stroked the robe she held ready. “Act as though she’s
fully dressed, I’ll wrap her up once she has the parachute harness off, and you
can pop the champagne. We need to share her excitement, congratulate her for
living her dream. She’ll be so high on the experience she won’t care about
exposing herself. Just don’t be weird.” She grinned. “Act natural.”

She craned her neck. A red, white and blue parachute opened, the
naked body of their client jerking upwards for a moment, then floating toward
them.

“That was totally, fucking brilliant!” Jackie’s eyes shone and her
smile was so wide her cheeks must be aching. Both sets were probably
aching—being buffeted by the wind on the way down had reddened her skin and she
was shivering from exposure to the cold air—but she seemed oblivious, still
floating.

“You were  fabulous. Thank you.” She embraced her skydiving partner,
full frontal.

“You’re welcome.” The tandem skydiver’s face flushed scarlet. His
hands hovered a couple of inches away from her bare back as she hugged him, and
he cast a pleading glance in Max’s direction.

“Here, Jackie. You don’t want to catch a chill.” She held out the
robe.

Jackie slipped one arm and then the other into the soft cotton, then
accepted a glass of champagne from Cameron and held it up. “I can’t thank you
enough. I’m going to tell all my friends about F.M.R. Every single one.”

Job done.

Max waved to the Mercedes SUV, and it set off across the field in
their direction. While Jackie sipped her champagne, Cam walked to the second
parachutist who had been filming the dive.

“We should get you back to the hotel.” Max accompanied Jackie to the
car and opened the door. “I’ll be with you in a moment.” She returned to Cam. “I’ll
see you later in the office. We need to get the footage edited and prepare a
DVD for Jackie as soon as possible.”

Cam nodded. “I’ll deal with it. See you later.”

Max took the bottle of champagne with her and joined Jackie, and the
driver set off across the field to the motorway.

 

It was late afternoon by the time Max returned to her inner London
office. She’d arranged a spa session for Jackie in her hotel after the dive,
followed by a full-body massage, and when she’d left, her client had been
beyond ecstatic.

F.M.R’s receptionist, Maria, looked up as she entered. “How did it
go?”

“Good. She was delighted.”

Maria checked the notepad on her desk. “There were a few messages. I’ve
left copies on your desk. Nothing that won’t wait until tomorrow.”

“Okay. Is Cam in?”

Max nodded. “She’s editing the video.”

Max walked into her office—the largest in the company. Not because
she was the boss, but because she needed to have an impressive, private space where
she could talk to potential clients. A fantasy could be anything and for the
client to reveal their deepest secrets and innermost desires, they needed to
feel as though there was no possibility of being interrupted or overheard.

She dropped her briefcase next to the large walnut desk and sat to
check messages. There was a tap at the door, then Maria walked in carrying two
large steaming cups of coffee. “I thought you could use one of these.”

“You’re an angel. Is the other for Cam?”

When Maria answered that it was, Max stood. “I’ll take it through to
her.”

Cam’s brow was furrowed as she stared at the screen, clicking her
mouse to advance the footage filmed earlier frame by frame. She looked up.

“I brought coffee.”

Cam grinned, paused the video, pushed her chair back from the desk,
and extended her legs. “I’ve been crouched over like I’m riding a motorbike for
ages.” She stood, and stretched up, then twisted her torso side to side. “Ah,
that’s better.” She reached for the mug. “Thanks.”

“So, how does it look?”

Cam rotated the huge monitor around, and let the recording play. “The
filmographer did a great job.” Jackie’s wide smile and bare boobs filled the
screen. Then the view drifted, revealing the lips of her vagina being buffeted
by the air. “I’m wondering if I should leave the flapping pussy in though. What
do you think?”

Max’s mouth opened then closed again. Jackie’s vagina was doing
things she couldn’t believe were real. “We’ve got to leave that in. Wow.”

“I know.” Cam smiled. “Well, if I don’t have to edit it out that
makes the job a lot easier.” She swallowed a mouthful of coffee. “How did it go
at the hotel?”

“She’s still floating. Her fantasy definitely was made real.”

“Lucky her.” There was a trace of sadness in Cam’s smile.

Max looked closer. Cam had been quieter than usual that
morning—distracted. Max’s heart clenched. The cancer couldn’t be back, could
it? The woman before her was very different to the one she’d interviewed six
months ago. Back then, Cam acted as though getting the job was something she
really wanted, but feared she wouldn’t get. She’d been out of the workplace for
two years, bringing up her daughter. Life had dealt Cam a cruel hand. She’d
been diagnosed with breast cancer near the end of her pregnancy, and waited
until her daughter was born before seeking treatment. A week after her double
mastectomy her husband left her for another woman.

Offering Cam the job was the best decision Max ever made. Cam had
become more than an employee—she’d become a friend. Now, the thought of her
facing further hardship made Max cold inside. “Are you okay? The cancer…”

Cam shook her head. “No. No. It’s not that.”

Thank God.

“I’m just a little down. It’s nothing serious. Lindsay is fine too.
I got this stupid invitation in the post yesterday.” She rooted in her bag,
pulled out a large white card, and tossed it onto the desk.

Max picked it up. “A school reunion?”

“Henry and I were in the same class. An old friend phoned last night
to tell me his fiancée is six months pregnant. She didn’t want me to turn up at
the reunion unawares and walk into them.” Cam’s mouth thinned. She blinked
rapidly. “I could hear the pity in her voice—I got a divorce and cancer, and he
moved on with a younger woman and has a baby on the way. If I had a fantasy it
would be to go to that reunion with a hot young stud on my arm and be the focus
of everyone’s envy, rather than have them feeling sorry for me.”

Max knew exactly how she felt. “Do you have lots of friends from
school?”

Cam’s laughter had a bitter edge. “God no. The woman who called was
the only one who actually even spoke to me—we were both mousey geeks. School
was a nightmare.”

“It was for me too.” Even thinking back to those days filled Max
with a dull ache. Her friend didn’t deserve this; no one deserved being made to
feel inferior, pitied. An idea took form. She made fantasies come true—couldn’t
she make her friend’s fantasy come true?

“So if you
did
go, who would your dream date be?”

“I’d want someone who would make every woman there long to be in my
place. Someone every woman in the world wants.” A slow smile curved the corners
of her mouth. “I know Damon Fitz is a fictional character, but the actor who portrays
him on screen would be my dream date. So I guess my answer is Sholto Kincaid.”

At the sound of his name, Max forgot to breathe. It would have to be
him, wouldn’t it? The one man she’d vowed never to see again. Memories piled
in, hard and fast. Sitting next to him in chemistry class, flushing red every
time he acknowledged her in the school corridors back when she thought they
were friends. Before…

“Are you okay? You look sort of strange.”

“Just tired, I guess.” Max stood. “When is the reunion?”

“In a month, but I won’t be going. I know you’re a miracle worker,
but no one in the world could persuade Sholto Kincaid to bow out of the Hollywood
spotlight and accompany a stranger to their school reunion—there isn’t enough
money in the world to make that happen.”

*****

It was weird being in England—heck, it was
weird being back in Europe. Sholto shrugged out of his black leather jacket,
and tossed it on the sofa of the penthouse suite in his five star hotel. The
London premiere of his movie was tonight—he’d  be striding the red carpet with
his co-star, trying his best to live up to the Damon Fitz hype—but already his
mind was turning to the next movie, the next project.

He tracked across the thick carpet
to the window, and stared out over the city. It was a city of strangers—a city
as alien to him as anywhere on earth. Even though he’d lived here, once upon a
time, those memories were faded and indistinct. There was no-one from those
days he wanted to chase up, no-one with whom he wanted to reconnect. He’d make
time to visit his aunt and uncle, and then he’d be out of here.

Hit and run.

The phone rang. “Mr. Kincaid, I
have Mr. Meisner in reception for you,” said the disembodied voice from the
front desk.

“Send him up.” Hopefully his agent
would have news. He opened the door to the corridor. A few seconds later, the
elevator doors slid open.

“How’s it going?” Larry’s wide
smile eased the ache in Sholto a little. “I’m stoked for tonight, aren’t you?”
He walked into the suite and whistled. “Wow, this is some place. Paid for by
the studio, huh?”

“Caro is in the suite next door.”
There were twin penthouse suites, served by the same elevator. The studio
probably thought it was good PR to have both of its stars so close to each
other, and were keen to promote the fantasy that they were secretly hooking up.

But after spending the past few
months half naked and locked in each other’s arms for the cameras, nothing
could be further from the truth. They looked perfect together, but she
preferred women, and he…the last thing he wanted was to mess around with a high
maintenance, self-absorbed actress.

“What are you wearing tonight?” Larry
checked out the rack of designer duds in the corner. “Boss. Armani?” He flicked
through the tuxedos.

“I like the navy Tom Ford.” Did it
really matter what he wore? He’d spent the afternoon with his stylist, trying
them all on, and had been so bored by the whole thing he’d wanted nothing more
than to escape for a few hours, to walk the streets incognito. Unfortunately,
the crowd of fans outside the front door made that impossible. He’d got as far
as the lobby before retreating back to his suite.

“I feel like a goddamned caged animal.”
He poured two glasses of scotch, and handed one to Larry, who added water and
ice to the glass before bringing it to his lips.
Sacrilege
. “Tell me
good news. How did the meeting go?”

Larry avoided Sholto’s eyes. His
brow creased. “Ah. He’s not convinced.”

A tight fist clenched in Sholto’s
stomach. He tossed back the scotch and poured another. “I’m perfect for the
role. He needs to see me. I’ll even bloody screen test for him if necessary.”

“I told him that.” Larry sprawled
on the sofa. “I told him all that. Look, you’re hot right now. You’re the
hottest actor in the world. I’ve got offers of roles every actor in Hollywood
would be dying to get—just not that one.”

Yet the role of John Weatherly was
the only one Sholto wanted. It was an extraordinary story: that of an ordinary
man shipwrecked and forced to survive alone on a deserted island. The book,
Solo
,
had been on the bestsellers list for weeks, and now Weatherly was collaborating
with a studio.

“Why? Did Jasper say why?” He sprawled
on the sofa and stared at Larry. “Whatever he wants, I can be it.”

“He said…” Larry obviously didn’t
want to tell him, but under the force of Sholto’s glare, muttered a reply. “He
said you were too pretty. Too buff. That you don’t have the substance to
portray the emotional journey Weatherly was forced to take on the island. He
was an overweight nobody when he fell from the cruise liner. An accountant
accompanying his mother on a round the world trip, for chrissake. Eighty-one
days alone on a deserted island changed him beyond recognition. Jasper feels
that Damon Fitz would just be too unbelievable as a man forced to survive a
shipwreck. The studio wants an unknown. They say your high profile will
compromise the film. And they don’t have the budget to pay what you’re worth.”

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