Home > Escorted (Escorted #1)

Escorted (Escorted #1)
Author: Claire Kent



Lori Addison sat in a crowded coffee shop in downtown Seattle, nursed a caramel mocha, and tried to pretend she wasn’t nervous.

She was nervous. So nervous, she literally jumped when her cell phone buzzed from her purse. She fumbled to pull it out and gave a silly giggle of relief when she heard Sabrina on the other end.

“Is he there yet?” Sabrina asked.

“No. I told you. We’re not supposed to meet until three o’clock. Not for fifteen more minutes.”

“I thought he might be early.”

“Then why did you call?”

“I’m dying here! You have to call me the minute you’re done.”

Lori laughed, relaxing a little in the face of Sabrina’s characteristic, pestering impatience. “I will. I told you I would. Who else would I call?”

“Definitely not any of your other acquaintances. I can’t believe you’re really doing this. You get to have all the fun.”

Shifting in her seat restlessly, Lori tried for tartness as she asked, “You call this fun?”

“Well, you’re going to be paying him a lot of money. It sure as hell better be fun for you.”

To her infinite mortification, Lori blushed hotly, even sitting alone at a table in a crowded coffee shop. She mumbled something incoherent.

Sabrina cackled. “What was that?”

“Shut up. I’m embarrassed enough. I’m still not sure if I’m going to go through with this.”

“Well, definitely don’t go through with it if he gives off any creepy vibes. I mean it. The slightest twinge of weirdness and you get out of there.” Lori’s cousin’s voice had altered. She was serious now.

“I know that. I’m twenty-six years old and not a fool. I have a pretty good man-sensor. But I can’t imagine he’ll be creepy. I mean, you got about fourteen referrals for him, didn’t you?”

“Sixteen,” Sabrina corrected. “The man must be a god. I’ve never heard such raves. Some of these women are frigid, middle-aged harpies, but get them started on this guy…”

Lori cleared her throat and felt the nervous jitters in her belly again. “Um, yeah. So that’s good anyway. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to make sure it’s with the right guy.”

“You sound nervous.”

“Of course, I’m nervous,” Lori snapped, lashing out as her anxiety started to rise.

Sabrina’s voice changed again. “Lori, you don’t have to do this, you know. There’s absolutely nothing weird or unnatural about you—”

“I know that. But I’m sick of still being a…” Lori lowered her voice so the other patrons couldn’t hear her. “Still being a virgin. It’s ridiculous. And I’m sick of waiting around hoping some man will sweep me off my feet and take care of this inconvenient little detail.”


“We’ve been over and over this,” Lori interrupted again. “Do we have to rehash it all?”

Lori had made it through high school and college without having sex, mostly because she’d been futilely in love with her best friend for all those years—a sweet, adorable soccer player who’d never been into her that way. No one else she found remotely attractive was interested in her at all.

She’d dated on and off, but it had never gotten as far as the bedroom. In the years since, even after she’d realized that her friend just wasn’t the man for her, she’d grown gradually more and more self-conscious about her sexual inexperience. And it just got worse as she got older and everyone assumed she had a typical social life. Because she was so self-conscious, she kept pushing men away. She felt caught in a ruthless cycle and didn’t know how to break free of it.

“I’ve been thinking about it for months. It’s kept me from getting close to anyone—even the few men who’ve seemed mildly interested.” Lori shook her head and took another long swig of her coffee drink. “Besides, the irony is becoming bitterly painful. I’m lauded as the Goddess of Romance and looked to for swoon-worthy love scenes. And yet I have no experience at all.

For the fourteen-zillionth time, Lori wondered how she’d somehow become a bestselling romance novelist, when she was a complete failure at love.

“Well, it is pretty remarkable how hot your sex scenes are,” Sabrina ventured, an edge of laughter in her voice.

Lori gave a little huff. “Anyone can write good sex scenes. All you need is some basic knowledge of anatomy, the right vocabulary, and some choice reading material. Experience has nothing to do with it.”

Sabrina cackled again on the other end of the line.

“Anyway,” Lori said, noticing a particularly attractive man enter the coffee shop alone. “I better hang up. He’ll be here in five minutes.”

“Call me immediately afterwards. Immediately! Do you hear me?”

After reassuring her cousin that she’d waste no time on reporting about the infamous meeting, Lori slid her phone back into her purse. She noticed that the attractive man she’d seen enter had gone directly up to the counter without looking around like he was meeting someone.

She drooped slightly in her chair. It would have been nice if he were the man she’d arranged to meet. Even with the incongruously bald head, he was one of the handsomest men she’d ever seen.

Lori glanced around the shop to make sure another lone man wasn’t looking for her. Seeing no one, she turned to discreetly observe the bald man again.

He was far too young to be so completely bald. Mid-thirties at the latest. Maybe he shaved his head. His tall, lean form moved with both power and grace, and his black trousers and gray dress shirt looked expensive. A businessman, maybe, although he didn’t carry a briefcase. There was something about him that appealed to her—beyond his physical appearance. His eyes roamed the room idly as he waited for his coffee, and his expression was coolly confident.

He seemed experienced, she realized. Like he’d lived a full, complex life before he’d even reached thirty-five. She wondered what it would be like to marry such a man—to have the weight of that experience at the kitchen table every morning, in bed with you every night.

She decided the hero of her next novel would be burdened with that sort of deep experience.

And he’d be completely bald.

Glancing at her watch, she noticed it was just after three o’clock. Surely this guy wouldn’t be late for a potential new client.

She was looking at the entrance with a slightly peeved expression when a voice startled her out of her impatience.


She jerked her head around and inexplicably saw the compelling, bald man standing next to her table with his cup of coffee. She blinked up at him, wondering vaguely if he’d noticed her leering at him.

“Is it Lori?”

She nodded mutely.

The man smiled—an urbane, sensual smile that ignited even his blue-gray eyes. He reached a hand out to her in greeting. “I’m Ander.”

Lori’s mouth dropped open and she gaped at him.

While she was normally a friendly, outgoing person who handled social situations with ease, she was already insecure about this meeting. And her shock at having the random man she’d admired turn out to be the one with whom she had this particular appointment left her speechless and completely discombobulated.

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