A Million Dirty Secrets (Million Dollar Duet 1) - Page 1

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  • Prologue

    I am a sex slave—a person held in servitude as the property of another, completely subservient to a dominating influence. Technically, I suppose “whore” would be a more appropriate term to describe what I am. You see, I have made myself completely available to a man, albeit one man, in exchange for money. This would include, but is not limited to, my loyalty, my discretion, and the use of my body in every way, shape, and form that suits his needs.

    The irony is that I wasn’t forced into this life; I chose it. Well, I really didn’t have another choice, as a better opportunity hadn’t presented itself in time, but I chose it all the same. He didn’t force me. He didn’t seek me out. I wasn’t kidnapped or brutally beaten into submission. I went willingly.

    And I did it all to save a life.

    My name is Delaine Talbot, but you can call me Lanie. This is my story.

    1

    SACRIFICES WE MAKE

    Lanie

    “You’re sure you want to do this?” my way oversexed best friend asked me for what seemed like the millionth time since I’d walked through the doors of the nightclub where she worked—and played—the slut.

    Dez was my rock. She held me down when life got too serious, and it was over-the-top serious at the moment. Dez was short for Desdemona, which loosely translated meant “of the devil.” She’d changed her name the day she turned eighteen, only because her parents refused to let her do so before then. Seriously, her parents had named her Princess when she was born, but if anyone other than them tried to call her that, it was a bar brawl in the making. Dez was crazy beautiful, the sort of bosomy babe you read about in all the romance novels: long, silky black hair, hourglass figure, legs that go on for days, and the face of a goddess. The only problem was that she carried herself like a biker chick. She also liked to test-ride all the models. Like I said, slut. But I loved her like she was my own flesh and blood. And considering what I was willing to do for my flesh and blood, that was saying a lot.

    “No, I’m not sure, Dez, but I have to. So stop asking me before you make me change my mind and I go running out of here like the scaredy cat we both know I really am,” I snapped at her.

    She never took my drama too personally, because she gave just as good as she got. Boy, did she ever. And she had not an ounce of shame for it.

    “And you’re really willing to give up your V-card to a total stranger? Sans romance? No wining, no dining, no sixty-nining?” Her incessant questioning grated on my last nerve, but I knew it was because she loved me and wanted to be sure I’d considered everything. We had gone over all the pros and cons with a fine-toothed comb, and I really didn’t think we had missed anything. But the unknown was what worried me the most.

    “In exchange for my mother’s life? In a heartbeat,” I said as I followed her down the dark corridor that led to the underbelly of Foreplay, the club where she worked. Foreplay: that was where my life would change. It was the point of no return.

    My mother, Faye, was terminally ill. She had always had a weak heart, and it had progressively gotten worse over the years. She had nearly died while giving birth to me, but had managed to bounce back from that and countless other operations and procedures. There was no bouncing back now. Her light was fading entirely too fast.

    She was so weak and frail at this stage that she was bedridden, but not before having been in and out of hospitals so much that my father, Mack, had lost his job. He had refused to leave her alone in the name of helping some stupid factory meet its production numbers. I never blamed him for that. She was his wife, and he took his duty as her husband very seriously. She was his to care for, just like she would’ve cared for him if the roles had been reversed. But no job meant no health insurance. It also meant we were forced to live off the meager savings account my father had managed to tuck away for their golden years. Ergo, purchasing health insurance was a luxury my parents could not afford. Fantastic situation, huh?

    Things had gotten even worse. Faye’s illness had progressed to the point that a heart transplant was essential in order for her to continue living. That bit of news had taken a toll on all of us, but none more than Mack.

    I’d watched my father day in and day out. He had been losing weight, his primary concern for his wife overshadowing his own care. And the dark rings under his red eyes made it obvious that he hadn’t been getting as much sleep as he should have, either. Be that as it may, he had always put on a brave face for my mother. She had accepted her imminent demise, but my father … he still held out hope. The problem was that his hope was diminishing. It was killing his very soul to watch her die a little more each day. I think a piece of him went with every little piece of her.

    I had walked in on him one night after my mother had fallen fast asleep. He was slumped over in his recliner, head in his hands, shoulders heaving from his disheartened sobs.

    He hadn’t meant for anyone to see him that way. But I had.

    Never had I seen him so despondent. There was this nagging feeling tugging at my heart constantly that told me when my mother died, my father wouldn’t be far behind. He would literally mourn himself to death. There was no doubt in my mind.

    I had to do something. I was desperate to make everything better. To make them better.

    Dez was my best friend. My very best friend. I had always shared everything with her, so she was wholly aware of the situation. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and after seeing just how desperate I had become, she had finally told me about the more scandalous business that was conducted beneath Foreplay.

    Scott Christopher, the owner, was what one might call an aggressive entrepreneur. Basically, he was a pimp, but not any run-of-the-mill pimp on the streets. No, he’d figured out a way to tap the pockets of those whose pockets were overflowing. His was a high-class operation, an auction where women were sold to the highest bidder. Foreplay might have been the face of his business, but the auction was his bread and butter. It was a big frat party on top, college kids finding their next hookup and getting so wasted they couldn’t remember their names, which was the perfect cover for the refined establishment underneath. From what I understood, some of the women—myself included—were participating voluntarily, while others owed Scott in some way. Selling their bodies was their last-ditch effort to repay him, even though it meant losing their freedom in the process.

    Dez told me that the clients were always men with fat bank accounts. Even the world’s richest tycoons had a thirst for the kinkiest of fantasies—fantasies they would never want to see go public. For the right amount of money, they could find willing flesh and never have to worry about their secret getting out. But it was luck of the draw—I could end up with someone gracious and kind, or a total tyrant who enjoyed dominating his property. If history was any indication, I’d end up with the latter. I hadn’t exactly had the best of luck in my life, so why should I believe the powers that be would grant me any favors now?