Lexi Blake Nobody Does It Better.jpg

Nobody Does It Better

Masters and Mercenaries, Book 15

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About the book

A spy who specializes in seduction

Kayla Summers was an elite CIA double agent, working inside China’s deadly MSS. Now, she works for McKay-Taggart London, but the Agency isn’t quite done with her. Spy master Ezra Fain needs her help on a mission that would send her into Hollywood’s glamorous and dangerous party scene. Intrigued by the mission and the movie star hunk she will be shadowing, she eagerly agrees. When she finds herself in his bed, she realizes she’s not only risking her life, but her heart.

A leading man who doesn’t do romance

Joshua Hunt is a legend of the silver screen. As Hollywood’s highest paid actor, he’s the man everyone wants to be, or be with, but something is missing. After being betrayed more than once, the only romance Josh believes in anymore is on the pages of his scripts. He keeps his relationships transactional, and that’s how he likes it, until he meets his new bodyguard. She was supposed to keep him safe, and satisfied when necessary, but now he’s realizing he may never be able to get enough of her. 

An ending neither could have expected

Protecting Joshua started off as a mission, until it suddenly felt like her calling. When the true reason the CIA wanted her for this assignment is revealed, Kayla will have to choose between serving her country or saving the love of her life.


Excerpt

Chapter One

Somewhere over America

Kayla Summers looked out the private jet’s window at the perfect land below. They were flying over farm country and from here the world looked like an ordered place, parcels of land mapped out in squares and defined by the roads around them. From up here it all made sense.

But she knew damn well if someone dropped her in one of those seemingly perfect squares, she would be lost in the thicket.

Perception. It was all about perception and she would do well to remember that. Up here in the air she was a goddess who knew everything, saw everything. Once she hit the ground, she would be just another ant, trying desperately to not get stepped on.

Or tortured. Or any of the terrible things that could happen to a poor little ant.

“Another glass of champagne, miss?”

Kay turned to the flight attendant who’d been gone for quite a while. “Absolutely! Keep it coming. I never turn down champagne.”

Ezra Fain shifted in the seat across from her. He was acting as her CIA handler for this particular mission. “Are you sure you should be drinking? We land in a couple of hours.”

And he was turning out to be super prissy. She smiled at the flight attendant, who passed her another glass of some truly spectacular champagne. “You know, you are not as fun as I thought you would be.”

Fain frowned. “I’m fun. I’m loads of fun.”

He was not. He was super serious and had been the whole time. She’d given him some reasonable suggestions and he’d turned them all down. “You know all the subs at Sanctum used to call Tennessee Smith Master No. I’m thinking that title gets dropped on you now. That’s all you’ve said to me this whole trip. No, we can’t stop in New York and pick up a few things. No, we don’t have time to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No, you can’t decorate the plane with gummy bears. No, we can’t stop in Idaho and have a long talk with one of my favorite authors.”

His eyes narrowed. “You were going to Misery that poor woman.”

Kay shrugged because she probably was. “Zanetti needs to write faster if she doesn’t want to spend some time with me. My point is you’re very negative.”

Fain sat back in his chair, his handsome lips curling slightly. “And you are way more of a handful than Damon mentioned. I think there’s a reason he nearly cackled with glee when I asked to take you off his hands for a few months.”

“Is that any way to talk about a lady, Fain?” The second of her two CIA contacts joined them. She wasn’t sure where Levi Green had been for the past thirty minutes, but from the flight attendant’s slightly mussed hair and flushed skin, she would bet that Green had been vetting the staff. Well, vetting her vagina at least.

Though there had been that one time in Seoul where that counteragent had managed to stuff a small pistol up there, so maybe she should thank Green for making absolutely certain the flight attendant wasn’t packing.

The only thing she knew for sure was that Green appeared to be having way more fun than Fain. He sank into the chair beside hers, a glass of Scotch in his hand.

“It’s good of you to finally join us.” Yep. Fain sounded like an outraged Victorian spinster.

Green tipped his glass Fain’s way. “You know I love a good briefing. And don’t be hard on our Miss Kay. She’s getting into the role. She’ll be sipping champagne in Malibu in a few hours.”

“If she gets the job,” Fain pointed out. “You’re both acting like this is a done deal and it’s not. She’s got to interview for the part. We’re not in yet.”

“Audition,” Green corrected. “Get the lingo right, buddy. She’s got to audition for the part, but I have every faith in her that she’s going to get that callback. Chill, Ez. We’ve got this one. It’s all cool.”

Fain sat up, pointing down at the folder in front of her. “Have you read this?”

She sighed and put down her champagne. All work and no play was going to make Kayla a crabby girl. “I promise I read the file twice. I’ve seen every single movie Joshua Hunt has ever made, but why don’t we go over it one more time? In case I missed something.”

Because it was obvious there was some storm banging around Ezra’s head. There was more than the Joshua Hunt operation going on here and it was up to her to figure it out. He’d been on edge for days and that wasn’t like him. She’d come to rely on Fain being calm and collected. Prissy she could handle, but this anxiety she sensed in him had her worried.

Given that they would be working together for months, possibly, she needed him calm and cool.

“It’s a simple op,” Green said with a wave of his hand. “You could do it in your sleep.”

“There’s no such thing as a simple op,” Fain replied. “There are nuances to this thing and about a million moving pieces. Hunt himself is a bit of a mystery.”

She reached over and flipped the file open. She’d lied to Ezra. She’d gone over this file way more than twice. Joshua Hunt. America’s hottest action star. His last film banked over a billion worldwide. He was roughly six foot three, with dark hair and piercing eyes, but what he was truly good at was selling a scene. She believed him when he told a woman he loved her, when he squared his shoulders before some fictional battle, when he put a hand on his heart as he was dying.

He was an excellent actor, even better than the films they put him in, but he was also known for being incredibly private and reclusive.

He was fascinating, and that should scare her on some level. She knew it. She also knew that since she’d felt nothing for so long, feeling anything at all was worth it. Joshua Hunt could be dangerous, but more than likely she would find out he was a douchebag, over-privileged prince of a man and then her job would be a chore.

Because she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this job would require sex.

“He doesn’t like to talk about his past,” she said. “I’ve spent the last few days going through every interview he’s ever given and while he will sometimes talk about little things in his life—who he’s dating, what shows he’s enjoying—he never talks about the past. Not even his childhood. The one time he got up from an interview and walked out, it was because the reporter kept asking about his father. I take it we know more.”

“Daddy was a nasty drunk.” Green crossed his long legs, sitting back and getting comfy. “We’ve got at least five domestic abuse complaints over the years. Joshua Hunt, whose real name is Joshua Stemmons, was born in a small town in Kansas. His mother died of cancer when he was five, but Daddy had a parade of girlfriends he liked to use as punching bags. Senior Stemmons went to jail when Josh was twelve and Josh hit the system.”

“He didn’t stay long,” Fain said. “At least we don’t think he did. Records show that Josh’s foster care family was paid for at least a year, but the police believe he ran away shortly after he arrived at the house. The parents and social worker were caught cashing checks for kids who were long gone. Josh was one of them. Whether he left on his own or they kicked him out, we have no idea. Those years are a blank. No arrests. No sign of him being in the system at all. He doesn’t surface again until he shows up in Los Angeles at the age of eighteen, living with a woman named Tina McArran, who became his first agent. He books his first commercial about six months later and the rest is history.”

Fain’s fingers tapped along the edge of his chair. He did that when he was thinking things through. Kay liked to know everyone’s tells. “As far as we know, this version of Joshua Hunt has stayed out of trouble. He’s been working in the film industry for fourteen years. He kept his first agent with him until she died a few years ago. Breast cancer. She left everything she had to him. He stood by her through the end, and by all accounts genuinely cared for her. He’s careful with his money. He’s never been accused of drug use or sexual indiscretions. He’s practically a saint in Hollywood.”

“He’s never been married, right?” She’d had a lot of Hollywood gossip to catch up on when she’d returned to the Western world. A decade as a double agent, pretending to be her own twin sister, had taken a toll on her pop culture knowledge.

For a second she wished she was back in London, cuddled up on the comfy couch in the media room with Tucker and Jax and Owen watching Die Hardand Star Wars and The Godfather. It was cool because they were experiencing them for the first time and she got to be their tour guide. They would all cuddle up under a big blanket and share a bucket of popcorn or a plate of cookies Penny had baked. Robert and the others would join them from time to time, but Tucker, Jax, and Owen were her boys. Her brothers from another mother. A mother none of the boys could remember because they’d had their minds wiped by an evil scientist, but then she kind of thought that big old mind erase was why they clicked. She’d worked with Owen when he knew who he was and he was way sweeter now.

She already missed the family she’d found in London.

But she hadn’t felt a spark with any of them. Her London family were brothers and sisters, and the fact that not a one of them stirred her sexually was cause for concern.

Had that part of her been burned out? She’d been faking normal for years now. Sex was nothing but another part of the job.

“No and he’s never announced an engagement, either,” Fain replied, bringing her out of her thoughts. “He’s dated several actresses publicly, but none for more than a year or so.”

“Any idea who put out word that he was into some of the kinkier sexual practices?” She stared down at the picture they had of him. He looked killer in a designer suit that had been tailored to fit his broad, strong body. Mirrored aviators covered his eyes and there was a pretty redhead on his arm. Some other actress. He was rarely seen with the same woman more than once or twice now.

Was he as cold as he looked? Cold and pristinely beautiful, all of his emotion saved for work? Maybe they had too much in common.

“Our intel points to one of his longer-term relationships,” Green replied. “Shortly after they started dating, rumors began circulating that Hunt was into D/s. He managed to get the story quashed before the real truth came out and he hasn’t seen her since. Neither has a movie or TV screen. She hasn’t gotten a job in years. Mr. Hunt has some serious power players backing him up. The new rumor became the actress was lying to get attention for herself.”

“But she wasn’t lying about Josh, was she?” Otherwise, why would they be bringing her in? If there was one thing Kay had experience in it was the art of Dominance and submission.

“Nope, he’s a big old perv,” Green said with a charming smile.

The man could be deadly when he wanted to be, but then she’d found there was a certain type of operative the Agency liked to hire. There were always the worker bees, the ones who kept their heads down for years and years, mining for information and never once doing anything to bring attention to themselves. They were like nondescript sedans. Nothing to look at but those suckers were on the road forever. Levi Green was a Maserati. Showy and gorgeous, he would bust down the walls others would quietly and carefully dig under.

She was always wary of the Maseratis of this world. They were stunning and powerful, and sometimes spun out of control when you least expected them to.

Fain was more like a Jeep. Sure, he was hot when he smiled, but he could also put a baseball cap on and no one would notice him. He would take the hard trail around a problem and no one would see him coming.

Gosh, Fain sometimes reminded her of Bishop. It was probably the reason she trusted him the way she did.

“From what we can tell he’s a member of a club in Malibu called The Reef,” Green explained. “It’s super private, but not merely for the wealthy. Membership is closely guarded, but we put a man on the inside four weeks ago. Josh basically works and attends this club, that’s about all he does, so this should cover all our bases. Riley Blade has connections in this world and they were happy to hire him on as the Dom in Residence. He hasn’t gotten particularly close to Hunt, but then Hunt’s only been in twice, and he wasn’t with a submissive. He came in, watched a few scenes, and then went to the bar with another actor member, a man named Jared Johns. Our reports show they’re quite close friends. Johns was his mentor and trainer when Hunt first joined The Reef.”

Riley Blade worked as a bodyguard out of the Dallas McKay-Taggart offices, but Jared Johns had connections there, too. “Johns is Kai Ferguson’s brother. Have you thought about bringing him in?”

Fain shook his head. “Absolutely not, and that’s why we’re being careful about the team. Johns isn’t close to his brother, though I know they talk from time to time. Johns was responsible for Hunt being willing to talk to McKay-Taggart about his security issues. He’s already hired on Shane Landon and Declan Burke, but I made sure he’s never met Blade. Johns is the one who got you the intervie…er, audition, and you should expect to spend some time with him. We need to work this from several different angles.”

What Fain really meant was they needed to work Hunt. “And all of this is because some drug dealer in Mexico is his biggest fan?”

Green set his Scotch down and clapped his hands together like a boy eager to play. “El Comandante. He runs the single nastiest cartel in Southern Mexico, and that’s saying something. The rumors are he used to be in the Mexican military and runs his operation with the same precision he was taught there. He doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. In the last four years, we’ve attributed over a hundred bodies to what we call the Jalisco Cartel.”

“The name comes from the state we know the cartel is based in, though they’ve now spread out and cover a lot of territory,” Fain admitted. “The Commander has become a big-time player, and you know what that means.”

She did. “He’s got heavy ties to narcoterrorism.”

It was always fun when the bad guys got together to create some chaos. And to make a shit ton of cash. “Terrorist groups are working with cartels, sometimes they are the cartel, in order to make money to fund the Jihad. Mexico is one of the biggest recruitment centers for radical Islamic terrorists. That’s why the Agency is interested. You think this Commander person can lead you to bigger enemies.”

“It’s worse, Kay.” Fain had gone positively grim. “We’re fairly certain the Commander discovered one of our plants. We imbedded a long-term operative in the Jalisco organization four years ago. He’s steadily moved up and gotten closer to command. Ten days ago, he failed to make a routine contact. He’s been radio silent since and we can’t find any trace of him.”

Her stomach clenched. Yeah, she knew a little bit about that. She’d been undercover for years, always terrified that any minute someone would figure out who she was and she would wish she were dead. MSS could be terrible to loyal agents. They didn’t mind a bit of torture to keep the morale where they wanted it to be. She’d been interrogated more than once. She couldn’t imagine what they would have done to her had they found out she wasn’t who she said she was.

She would have been alone because the Agency would have denied her very existence. It would have caused an international incident. It was good to know that when it wouldn’t cost them too much, they were willing to try to figure out what had happened to an agent. “So the plan is for me to make Joshua Hunt feel comfortable and safe enough that he’ll agree to go into a drug lord’s house for a party? Because you understand he would have to be insane to do that.”

A chill went over Green’s face. “Well, then you’ll have to drive him a little crazy, won’t you?” It was gone in an instant, replaced with another sunny smile. “Hunt doesn’t know that the Mexican businessman named Hector Morales who keeps inviting him down for the weekend is a drug lord. He and Hector have met in California several times and it was all cordial. Josh is filming in and around Mexico City in a few weeks. You don’t have to convince him to go. He’s spending the weekend there. Hector writes big checks to Josh’s charities. There’s some question as to how close in business the two are. You’re simply going to convince him to take you with him.”

“And it hasn’t occurred to you to sit Hunt down and ask him to go? Tell him what you need him to do and why,” Kay offered. “I’ve found oftentimes men like Hunt want to do the right thing. He’s played plenty of military characters. He likely thinks he could handle it. Of course, that’s precisely why I would be there. Then we don’t have to deal with all this subterfuge.”

“You want me to entrust a high-level operation to a Hollywood actor?” Green asked. “First off, I would have to get him clearance, and that’s not happening. Second, I’m still not sure our intelligence is correct and that Hunt isn’t working with El Comandante. That’s part of what I need you to figure out.”

Fain held up a hand. “Kay, this is the only way this particular op gets done, and the Agency has its reasons. If you can’t handle it, I need to know now.”

Her first instinct was to tell him to shove his op up his own anus. She wasn’t some newbie. She was a decorated field operative, and it was obvious there was more to this mission than met the eye. It would be smart to tell him no.

And then she caught a glimpse of that picture. Joshua Hunt, beautiful and remote. Untouchable, and yet here he was trying to pay someone to touch him.

“I’ll get the job done,” she promised.

Green held his glass up. “We know you will.”

And while she was handling Joshua Hunt, she would figure out what was happening inside the Agency because there was something neither of these men were telling her.

She sat back, sipping her champagne and watching the byplay between the men. Sex and secrets.

Her job never changed.

* * * *

Beverly Hills, CA

“The producer of four of your films was recently accused of tax evasion. Do you have any comment on that, Mr. Hunt?” The brunette in front of him had her phone out. He thought he remembered her from some long ago press junket, but he couldn’t quite place the name.

Joshua Hunt bit back a groan. His freaking job never changed. Smile when you don’t want to. Keep a civil tongue in your head when all you truly wanted to do was tell someone to fuck off. Never scream the way he wanted to.

Yeah, his life hadn’t changed at all when he thought about it. It was just the trappings were all lovely and designer.

“No, I can’t comment on that. Please, we’re trying to have a quiet lunch. Why don’t you send any questions you have to my publicist,” he said smoothly, wishing he’d done what his instincts had told him to do. He’d wanted to ask for a private table, but Jared was all about the light.

They’d walked through Spago’s classically elegant bar, done in rich masculine colors, and entered the dining room, a stunning indoor conservatory bathed in natural light, and Jared had gone right for the middle of the room. He hadn’t waited for the hostess to seat them, merely found his spot in the sun and gave the lady a smile no woman could possibly resist.

Well, except the one Jared actually wanted, hence Josh being indulgent when he should have known there would be some nosy reporter hanging around.

“All right, how about a couple of pictures of the two of you?” The reporter stood over them. It was obvious she’d been here with some friends, but she wasn’t about to let the chance go by. “You seem close these days. Anything we should know about?”

“He’s an amazing kisser,” Jared said with a grin.

Josh rolled his eyes. “Don’t encourage her.”

He looked toward the bar and finally gave the nod to the man who’d been standing up and waiting for the signal since the moment the woman had approached. He’d hoped they could brush her off without bringing the bodyguards into it.

Shane Landon was there in a heartbeat, putting his body between Josh and the reporter. “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step away from my client.”

She looked up, flustered, and frowned. “This is a public place. You know there is such a thing as freedom of the press, asshole.”

“And there is such a thing as getting bounced out of a restaurant and blackballed from all the nice ones,” Shane replied with a predatory smile. “This is a private business. I assure you if this comes down to a fight, he’s going to win. Now please let the man eat his lunch.”

She huffed out of the dining room, Shane following her to the street. It was mere seconds before he’d retaken his seat at the bar and was back to his burger.

How the fuck long had it been since he’d had a damn burger? Sometimes it felt like he’d been hungry all his fucking life. He’d gone from not having enough money to fill his belly to having to constantly worry about how his abs would look on screen.

“He’s working out well,” Jared said, pulling the pristine white napkin over his lap. “How’s the other guy? Declan, right?”

Because now he required two bodyguards. One for the dayshift and one for the nightshift. Three, really, since he was interviewing for another position this evening, but the third was different. The third would never leave his side. The third would kneel and offer more than mere protection. She would offer him submission.

Fuck, it had been way too long. He had to cool down or he would show up for the interviews with a massive hard-on. What had Jared asked about? Oh, yeah. Burke.

“He’s an odd one, but he’s good at his job. Hey, he’s been on the payroll for two weeks now and I’m still alive, so I would say he’s working out.”

“Good.” Jared took a sip of his iced tea. “I’m glad to hear it’s going well. The firm my brother is associated with has an excellent reputation.”

That brought a smile to his lips. Jared’s brother was a renowned therapist specializing in PTSD in soldiers returning from war. Much of his work was funded by a security company made up of the very people Kai Ferguson helped. McKay-Taggart was one of the premiere security companies in the world. And someone who worked there had married a writer. Josh could have told that dude marrying a writer was a mistake. Writers couldn’t help it. All the secrets came out. “On several levels. I’ve heard Love After Death was based on the big guy’s life. That was actually a hell of a movie. I was worried about how the romance would be handled, but I ended up liking it. You know you never told me why you backed out of that one. You really would have been perfect for the part.”

Jared’s smile wavered. “Well, that was around the time I was arrested for killing my assistant.”

He held up his hands, trying to let the conversation go. He knew a wall when he hit one. He and Jared had gotten close over the past few years, but there were things they never talked about. What happened in Dallas was one of them. Oh sure, one night Jared had gotten into the vodka and loosened up enough to admit there had been a woman involved, but Josh didn’t know much more than her name. Sarah. Stubborn Sarah, as he liked to think of her. “Sorry. Say no more.”

Jared’s false arrest for murder and the whole shitshow that came with it was one of those subjects they avoided like the plague. Josh was a man who understood that even between friends, some things were private.

Jared amped that smile right back up. “Hey, it’s cool, man. I’m good. The show had a great run. Seven years ain’t bad, you know. Now we see what happens with the rest of my life.”

A precarious place to be. An actor without a job lined up. Jared’s long-running show had recently ended and he’d moved to Malibu, buying a house right on the beach, with Josh as a neighbor.

“It’s going to be fine. I’ve already talked to the producer about a new character for The Quick and the Enraged franchise. We need a new driver for the next film and I think you would be perfect,” he said. “I’m meeting with the screenwriter in a few days. You should come down and we’ll start fleshing him out. I’m thinking sarcastic and edgy. Maybe he’s a good guy. Maybe not. We can play with that. Keep the audience guessing.”

“I appreciate it and I would love to do it, but don’t stick your neck out,” Jared replied.

Because he was a genuine guy. One of the only genuine human beings Josh had met out here. Or anywhere, for that matter. Naturally the fact that Jared was real with him made him way more willing to actually stick his neck out. “My neck is extra thick thanks to your workouts. And we do need a new character. The series is on its fourth film. We need new blood. Besides, I can’t thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I have no idea where I would be if I hadn’t found The Reef.”

A lie. He knew where he would have been. The bottom of a bottle. The end of a needle. Wherever junkies went when they’d gone too far. The Reef had taught him discipline. The Reef had given him confidence.

After he’d lost Tina, he’d…well, he’d lost himself for a bit, too. His saving grace had been a movie role he’d taken on at the time. His character had a background in D/s and when Josh had looked for someone to help him understand the world, he’d found Jared. Jared had opened up a lot of doors for him.

“No problem. I was happy to help.”

Jared had been his mentor in the world of D/s, and he was still there even after all these years. “So, does that mean you’ll come back to the club with me and interview the new girls? You’ve done all the vetting. You know them better than I do.”

An excited gleam hit Jared’s eyes. “I was hoping you would ask. I think this is going to be the perfect solution for you. I already like two of them. The New York girl seems to have a lot of experience. Former NYPD. Seems level headed.”

And that was important because the last thing he needed was to have his submissive fall in love with him. That was utterly off the table. Good sex? Now that was on it, slathered all over that table he was offering, but the last thing he needed was another obsessed person.

After all, he had three acknowledged stalkers. Two women and a man. Those were merely the ones the police were sure about. There were others who were waiting in the wings, waiting for their piece of him. He got too many nasty emails and threats to worry about every single one.

Yet another reason to not get too close to the woman he would hire. But he needed to be able to connect to her. Connection was important. He wanted to feel for her, but then he didn’t have to worry about falling in love. He knew damn well he wasn’t capable of that.

“And the blonde bodyguard is stunning,” Jared continued as salads were placed in front of them. “She’s former Israeli Army. Her credentials are excellent.”

He wasn’t sure about that one. She had the look of an actress. He would bet she’d come out here looking for fortune and fame and fallen back on what she was good at when she needed money. There was nothing wrong with that scenario, but he didn’t want to hire someone who would disappear the minute her agent called with a part.

“Who do you have it narrowed down to?” He’d let Jared run with this. Jared and a couple of the The Reef members he trusted implicitly. They’d done much of the vetting to keep Josh’s name out of it. The woman he hired had to have previous bodyguard training, experience with firearms, and knowledge of security processes.

She also had to be a sexual submissive.

That was important to him. He didn’t want someone who thought it would be fun to try, who’d seen a couple of movies, read some romance bullshit books and thought it would be sexy.

He wanted someone who needed a top to be sexually complete.

And the fact that she would be an employee under a nondisclosure agreement wasn’t bad either.

This time around he would have complete control. He would be her boss, her Dom. He would get what he needed and ensure she was content.

It was probably the best he could ask for. Contentment. Peace.

“You’re meeting with five women this afternoon. The best of the best. I think this is going to work out nicely,” Jared said. “Honestly, I’m hoping it works out for you because I’m thinking about doing something similar.”

That was news. “You breaking the celibacy thing you have going? Because I know a whole bunch of subs who would line up to take care of you.”

Before he’d gone to Dallas to visit his brother, Jared had been a bit of a manwhore. He tore through some subs, but since the incident they didn’t talk about, he’d been quiet, a bit monk-like.

Jared sighed, his shoulders rolling out. “Well, it’s become obvious to me I can’t have the woman I want. I’ve tried calling, sending flowers, texting. She’s no longer interested, but then given the last time I saw her my best friend was about to murder her, I guess I can understand.”

Yep, there was Stubborn Sarah. She was fucking up Jared’s life, and he needed to let go of her. “You know it might be for the best. Civilians…they don’t tend to last long in our world.”

Any woman who dated one of them would be scrutinized on a level most human beings couldn’t accept. Every detail of her body would be up for praise or ridicule—sometimes at the same time. She would be pulled apart, her history laid bare for all to comment on. She would be hated by a large group of “fans” and all because she had the sad fate to fall for a Hollywood star.

Jared nodded, but he seemed to be somewhere else. Likely thinking of her. “Yeah, I know you’re right. But just for a minute I thought I’d found the one who could handle it. She’s the single most confident woman I’ve ever met.”

Then it would be even worse when they tore her down. He didn’t say the words, but he knew Jared was likely thinking the same thing. No one got out of their world whole. There was a hard price to be paid for the glamorous life. He’d started paying it when he was twelve years old.

Hell, maybe he’d started paying it the moment he’d been born.

Jared cleared his throat. “Anyway, like I said, you’re the guinea pig. If it seems to work out for you, maybe I’ll hire a girlfriend.”

He hated how that sounded. “I’m hiring a bodyguard who will also happen to submit to me sexually.”

“A warm blow-up doll, my man.”

He flipped Jared off. He should have known he wouldn’t get out of this without some serious masculine fucking around. “Do you have the contract ready?”

Jared reached down into the backpack he’d carried in for this meeting. “I am always prepared. Well, I’m prepared for other people’s shit. Take a look at this and tell me if I’ve left anything out. You know I could run it by my brother. He’s better at contracts than I am.”

Josh took the contract that would delineate every aspect of his relationship with the woman he would hire in the next few days. Even holding it in his hands made something in his chest ease. This was going to be a good thing. He would start this relationship with all the cards on the table because the contract between them would be a solid thing. The woman he hired would know everything that was expected of her.

The woman who would live in his home and meet his needs.

Fuck. It really had been too long since he’d fed this part of his soul. He was practically shaking at the thought, and that wouldn’t do. He needed to be cool and calm. He needed to keep his distance.

He was the Dom. He was in control, and that was the way it was going to stay.

Copyright Lexi Blake