Sunday, July 19, 2015
Sapphire Beautiful (The Club) by Ren Monterrey
I never imagined that I’d be starting me fifth year as a faculty member in the Medieval Studies department as a thirty-two-year-old widow. I’m sure to be the butt of every joke around campus as the collateral damage of a sex scandal that made national headlines. And my husband left me completely broke before he killed himself.
I don’t want to lose my house and all the money I invested in it so I make an arrangement through The Club. I’ll get what I need…money to get out the financial ruins my dead husband left me in. And Dante McNally will get what he wants…access to my body…whenever and however he wants it…
There’s only one catch. Dante is one of our new graduate students and the recipient of a prestigious research fellowship funded by his billionaire father. And this is the year I’m supposed to be applying for tenure.
Sapphire Beautiful is a stand-alone full-length novel that is part of Ren Monterrey’s The Club series. Each novel in The Club series can be read as a stand-alone or as part of the series.
The Club series includes:
Black Dog Nights (three-part serial novel)
Sapphire Beautiful (stand-alone full-length novel)
Mad Dog Days (three-part serial novel)
Gold Dust Woman (stand-alone full-length novel)
Yellow Dog Blues (three-part serial novel)
Grey Cloudy Lies (stand-alone full-length novel)
I’m out of breath as I dash into the front entrance of The Club right at three o’clock. The public transportation gods must have been smiling down on me today because I didn’t think I was going to make it on time.
“I’m—here—to—see—Claudia,” I gasp.
The young woman at the front desk looks like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine. I’m thin, but this woman looks almost anorexic.
The Club is in an upscale part of the city surrounded mostly by offices filled with high priced attorneys and financial advisors. The exterior of the small building is nondescript and blends in with the neighboring buildings. If you didn’t know exactly what you were looking for you’d probably just ignore it.
Inside The Club is much more dramatic. Everything is dark wood and feels heavy. It definitely exudes an atmosphere of old money and refinement.
When the fashion model at the front desk finally looks at me I can tell by the sneer on her perfect face that she’s not impressed with what she sees.
Professors aren’t known for being fashion plates. The only thing in my closet that I had even remotely appropriate for an interview was the black suit I wore when I defended my dissertation. I also wore it when I interviewed for faculty positions. The suit is definitely not sexy. It’s a suit that says take me seriously as a scholar. It definitely doesn’t say fuck me.
“You are?” She arches a perfectly shaped eyebrow.
I clear my throat. “Mary. I have an appointment. Three o’clock.”
She looks me up and down. “Are you sure?”
I stare at her defiantly. After successfully defending a doctoral dissertation in front of a committee of hypercritical Ph.D.s it’s extremely difficult to intimidate me. Miss I-Just-Stepped-Off-The-Runway doesn’t intimidate me in the least.
“Follow me.” She turns on her very high heels and heads down a vast hallway. Her stride is so long I nearly have to sprint to keep up with her.
“You can go in,” she tells me when we reach the office at the very end of the hallway. “Claudia is expecting you.”
She doesn’t wait for me to respond. She turns and hurries away.
I swallow, but my throat is quickly closing. I feel like I could pass out at any moment. I take in a deep breath and do my best to compose myself.
“Get a grip,” I tell myself. “You need the money.”
When I open the door I’m taken aback to see the office is completely white. It’s in sharp contrast to the dark feel of rest of The Club.
“Have a seat.” Claudia demands.
I take back what I said about no longer being intimidated by anyone. Claudia is scary as hell.
I quickly take the only other seat in the room opposite her massive metal desk. The furniture probably appears larger than it actually is because it’s completely bare. No computer, no phone, not even a calendar. I assume in a profession like hers it’s a liability to write things down.
She eyes me for what feels like forever before she speaks again.
“Thirty-two.” That’s all she says. Then she stares at me again.
I’m not sure what to do so I just mumble a barely audible, “Okay.”
“You’re thirty-two,” she repeats as if I’m the stupidest person on the planet.
“How did you know?”
She glares at me. I guess I’m not supposed to ask questions. Then she says, “You’re a lot older than the girls we usually hire.”
I nod because I don’t want to be on the receiving end of another one of her icy glares.
“Most of my clients want college girls in their early twenties.”
I take in a deep breath and prepare myself for the inevitable rejection. In my life as a college professor I’m considered young with my whole career ahead of me. It’s hard for me to fathom a profession in which you’re completely washed up by the time you’re twenty-five.
If you can actually call being a paid mistress a profession.
I expect Claudia to kick me out and tell me to never come back, but to my surprise she removes a thin file from her top desk drawer and places it on her desk.
Pointing to it she says, “I have a special case that you may be right for.”
A glimmer of hope.
“This is a unique situation,” she continues. “He’s already interviewed two of my girls and unfortunately they both declined an arrangement. He’s getting a bit anxious to find someone, so this time he’d like a contract signed before you meet him.”
I swallow, hard, as I wonder what could possibly be wrong with the guy for two girls to decline him.
“He will be your only offer for an arrangement.” Claudia pushes the file towards me. “With so many much younger girls to choose from the likelihood that anyone else would select you is slim.”
My mind races with all of the possible reasons this man could have been rejected. Is he ancient? Does he have personal hygiene issues? Is it some kind of physical deformity? Maybe all of the above?
My chest tightens. This is someone I’m going to have to have sex with. A lot. How far am I willing to go for the money?
You want to keep your house, I tell myself. This is probably your only option.
When Claudia thumps her index finger on the desk expectantly I know she’s waiting for me to make a decision.
“Okay,” I try not to sound as uncertain about it as I feel.
“He did not request a photo. He gave me certain parameters for the type of girl he likes and you fit the bill. He was extremely disappointed that the two women he chose didn’t work out so he’s leaving this selection to my discretion.”
I know I should be grateful that I’m getting any arrangement at all, but I can’t help but feel like the last girl asked to the prom.
Claudia opens the file. It looks like a contract. “You’ll need to sign this document. It gives me permission to share your information with Mr. McNally. We do a complete background check as well as a full medical examination. I’ll need your driver’s license and Social Security numbers.”
She opens her top drawer again, removes a sleek black pen and hands it to me.
I gulp. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I need the money and I need it fast. I lift up the pen and fill in my personal information. Then I sign my name to the contract.
Claudia’s face contorts in what I can only assume is her version of a smile.
“Will I get a copy of these documents?”
“You can ask Mr. McNally about that.”
That seems a bit odd until I realize that I didn’t see a photocopy machine anywhere.
She reaches into her desk and pulls out a small card which she slides across the desk. “This is an account set up for your arrangement. It’s our version of PayPal. Memorize the account number and log-in information then destroy the card. As soon as the Mr. McNally places money into the account it’s yours to keep. He will no longer have access to it. And you’re free to leave it there or transfer it into another account of your choice.
“He’s already placed your first payment into the account. Quite generous, I might add, but I’m sure he’ll expect for you to be equally generous in return. He’s anticipating an exclusive arrangement. That means no other men while you’re under contract.” She looks up at me. “And just so we’re clear, the exclusivity does not extend to him.”
I immediately think about my husband. It sounds like his idea of exclusivity too. I just didn’t know it. I remained faithful while he was with as many co-eds as he had time to screw.
I remind myself that this arrangement is a financial and not an emotional one. I’ll be exchanging access to my body for money. That doesn’t mean I have to give him access to my mind or heart.
“I assume you use birth control.”
When I shake my head she looks puzzled. This isn’t something I like to talk about, but I can tell by the disgusted expression on her face that it’s going to be necessary to discuss.
“We like to pride ourselves on providing a safe environment for our clients. One in which unwanted pregnancy is never an issue.”
“I have some medical issues.” I explain. “I can’t use oral birth control methods. But I’m not able to have children either.”
Her gaze narrows as she seems to consider what I’ve just shared.
“I’ve been sexually active for fifteen years,” I tell her. “I’ve never been pregnant and I’ve never been on the pill.”
“We normally require all of our girls to use birth control. Provide documentation from your personal physician to our staff physician so he can approve an exemption. We’ll also need to provide Mr. McNally with documentation that you’re disease free.”
She slides another card across the table. “This is the address for our staff physician. He’s extremely discreet. All of your test results will come directly to me and I’ll make sure they get to Mr. McNally. I’ve already scheduled an appointment for you in one hour. Mr. McNally is quite anxious to meet you and begin your arrangement.”
When she stares at me it takes me a moment to realize I’ve been dismissed. Rising from the chair I feel a little dizzy. I’m actually going through with his. I’m actually going to have sex with a man I don’t know in exchange for money. I worked so hard most of my adult life to make sure I could use my mind and intellect to earn my living and now I’m probably going to make just as much selling my body as I do using my brain as a college professor.
REN MONTERREY lives in a small town outside Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and their bloodhounds. She writes New Adult and Contemporary romance under a number of different pen names including Sierra Avalon, Savannah Young and Dakota Madison.
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