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Piper Madison can only think of one way to get her parents to accept her: hire a temporary boyfriend.
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I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m out of options.
The holidays are upon us. Christmas is just around the corner, and you know what that means for me?
A two-day trip to the Madisons’ cabin in Aspen, Colorado!
Am I excited? No.
Who are the Madisons? My family.
Don’t get me wrong, I love them to death. I mean, I have to love them profoundly to do something this drastic—sitting on a park bench in December in New York, waiting on a male escort that I hired online. He’s not a gigolo or whatever people call it now—he actually just accompanies women to events, being whatever they need him to be. There is no sex involved whatsoever.
Those are his rules, which happens to be listed big and bold on his website.
Good Lord. I couldn’t even imagine that happening.
But, online? I mean, seriously. Come on!
Has my life really come to this? Hiring a man to pretend to be my boyfriend, just to please my parents? Why, yes. Indeed it has.
I turn my cellphone over, checking the time. Two more minutes until he’s supposed to arrive. Lifting my head, I take a quick look around the park.
There aren’t many people here. It’s nearing 8 p.m. and most people are on their way home or packing their shit for the holidays. Christmas is only three days away, after all.
I hear footsteps coming from my left, slow and measured. Turning my head to the sound of them, I spot a slender figure with broad shoulders, coming my direction.
There is a mild glare from car headlights behind the person and I squint my eyes, trying to make out details, as the person continues walking in my direction. When the person comes closer, I straighten up, realizing this is my guy.
It has to be him.
I mean, look at what he’s wearing.
A navy blue, pin-striped suit, his hair trimmed and gelled, slicked to the side in a manner that broadcasts he is all that, and he knows it—that he’ll never let anyone tell him otherwise.
Italian. I remember from his biography that he’s Italian. His skin is very olive—a smooth, creamy tan.
When he quirks a cheek, a full set of dimples are put right on display beneath that well-kept beard.
Oh, Lord. Built-in charisma. I feel the urge to beam at him like a silly schoolgirl, but I don’t.
In the ads I saw, he was gorgeous, but in person he is absolutely breathtaking.
I sort of can’t stand it.
He seems well-built beneath that suit, as well.
Actually, I’m certain he is.
He’s perfect…maybe too perfect for someone like me.
“Hi!” I hop up immediately, shooting out a hand and completely disregarding my last concern, because I need this. It’s too late to turn back now. “You must be Matthew Cooper.”
He extends his arm, grabbing my hand and shaking it firmly. “Correct.” He flashes a crooked smile. “And you must be Piper Madison?”
“Yep, definitely her.” I sit back down on the bench, crossing one leg over the other and straightening the hem of my vintage, brown and burgundy skirt.
Matthew takes a seat beside me, turning to face me, giving me all of his attention.
“So… I wanted to meet up with you to let you know that we’ll be flying out to Colorado on Friday night. My parents will be expecting me before Saturday because they do this whole hot chocolate bar tradition thing, and then play charades. It was fun when we were younger but now,” I roll my eyes, “well, you probably get it.”
He’s smirking now, nodding his head. “I get it. Family can be over-the-top sometimes.”
“Yeah, well, prepare for the worst.” I laugh awkwardly. “My family—my mother especially—is insanely overbearing and so nosy. As soon as we hit the front door, prepare to be smothered and asked a million and one questions.”
“That’s okay,” he rubs his chin. “I’m sure we can manage.”
I smile, breaking our bolted gazes. “Anyway, about the pay. Are we still set on the seven grand to cover this whole weekend? I can also reimburse you for the flight.”
“That’s okay. I can pay for my own seat. I just need to know which flight you’re taking.”
“Okay. I’ll email that to you tonight.”
Matthew sits up straight, adjusting his tie. “You don’t have to pay me until after, so don’t worry too much about that right now. I’d like you to be satisfied with your time spent with me. If you aren’t—if I happen to let you down in any way—I will walk away and you can keep your money.” He pauses, looking me over from head to toe. I fidget. “There is one thing I’d like to speak on, that I think you should consider.”
“And what’s that?”
“I think you should invite me to your place so that I can get to know you a little better.”
I blink rapidly, trying hard to avoid a frown. “Um…not saying I don’t trust you or anything, but I wouldn’t feel too comfortable having you in my home just yet.”