to do this. He’s got to be here. Hmm. Would I still feel attracted to him like I had before? Maybe it was a fluke. Why isn’t he answering? Maybe he had decided we shouldn’t do this after all, and maybe he—
The door swung open.
“Natalie,” he said as he met my eyes with a controlled smile. I felt the same pulse of electricity as before and something moved deep inside me, answering my question—yes, I was still attracted to him. To his body, at least. I searched his eyes. Did he seriously not feel that? His expression was hauntingly even. “Sorry about that. Please come in.”
As followed him in, I found myself wondering what kind of person becomes a sex surrogate. I mean, it certainly wasn’t a normal kind of job you’d see in the classifieds. I crossed the threshold into his office, a small, bright space with high ceilings and a bay window that looked out to the street, outfitted with a desk, some bookshelves, two leather chairs and a sofa. Very different than I’d expected. For some reason, I’d been expecting something… I don’t know… sexier? Low lights and red walls. I admonished myself; I’d seen too many movies. Still, I craned my neck, expecting a bed, but didn’t see one.
“The bed’s back here,” he said, reading my mind as he closed a set of doors that connected the office to a back room. “But we won’t be using it today.”
We won’t? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t confused. I was so eager to cross this off my list. Ready to get back to a normal kind of life—the kind of life I’d been putting off for too long. Despite how attractive Ryan was, I was still hoping to get this whole thing done in a session or two. I wasn’t too keen on stretching it out much farther. Besides, I had primed carefully for today, waxing and preparing every inch of myself— hell, I’d buffed and polished myself to magazine standards. I’d even bought a new set of underthings—nothing from the racy Heaven Sent catalog, but rather a carefully curated selection of modest yet sophisticated gray cotton underwear. I was prepared and ready to go and now I was being given the sartorial equivalent of blue balls.
I raised an eyebrow at Ryan.
“We need to get to know each other first. Talk about goals, and then we’ll do some body consciousness exercises.”
I furrowed my brow.
“I’ll explain later.” He rubbed his palms together and looked around the room. “Shall we get started?”
Boy, he was doing a real good job of pretending he’d never hit on me. He was like a whole other person. Not cold exactly, but… clinical. I didn’t much care for it, but I was willing to go along. Eyes on the prize, Reese .
“Come,” he said as he lowered himself down on to one end of the leather sofa and grabbed a notebook off the side table. “Sit with me. Did you find the place okay?”
I chose the opposite end and sat down. Fine. You know what Ryan? Two can play at this game , I thought to myself. Little did he know, he was sparring with the ice-queen. He wants to play it cool? I’ll show him cool. I fucking invented cool.
“I’m here, aren’t I?” I replied, and immediately I regretted it. I sounded like a bitch. Shit. A little too much? I closed my eyes and took a breath.
He took it in stride. “Don’t be nervous.”
“I’m not. Sorry. I’m just anxious to get on with this. We can skip the small talk.” I offered a weak smile.
He chuckled as he shook his head. “Well, okay then. But don’t worry about being anxious. It’s understandable. However, before we get on with it , we first need to establish some ground rules.”
Dr. Lerner had mentioned this. I knew the basics. “Yes, fine, go ahead.”
“Well, first, neither of us are to sleep with anyone else during your treatment. I know it’s not the sexiest rule to start with, but it is the most important. We’re both disease-free right now, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
He was so serious, I felt like I was at a doctor