Ashley Simone and Alicia Roberts
What if One Night Could Change Your Life?
Working in a diner by day and desperately applying for graduate jobs by night, Allie Nobokov fears that her future will be one of a single, virginal, cat lady. A chance encounter with a gorgeous stranger, Zac, awakens her desires and she feels an undeniable connection.
When fate pushes them together once again, Allie’s desires run wild – until, just when things start getting hot and heavy, Zac disappears into the night...
How can you deny a connection so strong?
All that is pushed to the back of Allie’s mind when her younger brother shows up on her doorstep, desperately in need of more money than she can provide… Until she sees a classified ad.
“I met a girl and I can’t get over her,” says the ad, and goes on to describe Allie. “If you look like her, I’ll pay handsomely for one night with you.”
Can Allie summon the courage to answer the mysterious ad and go through with what it entails? And can she convince the enigmatic Zac to push aside his demons and give their love a chance?
A Sexy, New Adult Story
Warning: Contains mature content. Not suitable for readers under the age of 18, due to graphic sexual content and mature situations.
Table of Contents
About Ashley Simone
Today hadn’t been that bad – so far.
I’d managed to ignore all of Sam’s sexual innuendos and Diana hadn’t yelled at me yet. The lunch patrons weren’t too rude, and the tips weren’t too terrible. They weren’t great, either: a great tip was starting to rank right up there alongside miracles.
“Just a few more days,” I told myself, “And something better’ll pop up.”
It had to. I hadn’t graduated from college just to be a waitress. I hadn’t slogged away at my accounting degree just to be fired from my very first job after two months. It hadn’t even been my fault – it’s not like I’d done something exciting and scandalous, like throwing hot coffee in my annoying boss’s face, or stealing money from the company books.
The reason I’d gotten fired was the boring old, company-hitting-a-financial-crunch thing. Which really fit in perfectly with my boring, old, nothing-ever-goes-normally life. I’d still been in my probationary period, so I didn’t get much notice; by the time I was let go of, all the other graduate positions had been filled.
But something had to turn up. It just had to.
My day got even better when the couple walked through the door. At first, I’d thought they were together, but they sat opposite each other in a booth, spread out some papers on the table between themselves, and began to talk in hushed voices. Their power suits, lack of chemistry and all those serious-looking papers spread out before them, indicated that this was a business lunch.
I’d smiled ridiculously when the realization struck me, and then immediately felt silly.
Why did I even care? It’s not like the man would notice me, a mousy young waitress. I’d watched him from the corner of my eye since the moment he’d walked in, even as I took orders at tables three and seven. He was gorgeousness personified – his dark, slightly messy hair, his tan skin and chiseled jaw. The shiny metallic watch glinting on his wrist indicated some serious wealth, and the cut of his suit suggested that it had been tailored to fit his powerful frame.
Diana swished across the white-tiled floor and got to the table before I could, handing the couple menus and smiling at the man suggestively. I rolled my eyes, went to the kitchen to pass orders on to Sam, and grabbed a meal that was ready to be served.
I walked past Gorgeous’s table on purpose. Diana might be the one serving him – of course, she would grab the patrons who looked like they might tip slightly better than average – but that didn’t stop me being a tiny bit curious about who he was.
Couples in power-suits didn’t normally walk into our dingy Williamsburg diner, and the dirty-yellowish walls with their framed Marilyn Monroe posters didn’t attract a particularly discerning crowd. But I supposed the couple might be grabbing a quick lunch before their next meeting; from the outside, the diner probably looked just as good as any of the other options available along the street.
The man looked up when I was a few feet away from their table, and when his intense gaze met mine, I froze. Up close, I could see that his eyes were aquamarine – a deep, deep shade of blue tinged with flecks of green. They reminded me of the ocean, of big waves flecked with white foam, and I found myself drowning. And then he smiled.
My knees turned to jelly and I clutched the plates in my hand tighter. I was pretty proficient at dropping and breaking plates, and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of this gorgeous man. I smiled back at him, feeling slightly hesitant and out of my depth.
There was something about him. I could sense a hollowness behind that smile, something that reflected what I had gone through a year ago. Some days the pain inside me was as sharp and brutal as ever, and it seemed like just yesterday when the doctors had pronounced her dead.
“Excuse me,” he said, his voice deep and serious. His eyes dropped to my chest – oh boy, was he checking me out? “Allie?”
I forced my smile to stay pasted on my face, even as the disappointment hit me with a thud. He’d been reading my name tag, not checking out my boobs. Why was I surprised? That was the story of my life; things never went the way I’d hoped. That, coupled with my incredible nerdiness for the past few years, was why I was still a virgin, even though my twenty-second birthday was creeping closer.
Until moving to New York, I’d never felt that my V-card was a particular burden; I was in no particular rush to get rid of it. But as life sped by and everyone around me seemed to be immersed in loving relationships, I’d recently begun to wonder if I’d be single and a virgin for the rest of my life.
“Yes?” I took a few steps closer. “Are you ready to order?” I glanced around for Diana, who must’ve have disappeared into the back alley for yet another “quick” smoke. She’d be furious if I stole her table from her.
“We are,” said Gorgeous, “But first, could we have some water, please?”
“Of course.” He could have anything he wanted from me. He only had to ask.
We shared another smile, and a sudden charge of electricity rushed through my body. My nipples hardened underneath my lacy bra, and I felt a flush creeping up my neck. The stranger’s eyes were shimmering under the harsh diner lights, and the smile was a bit too sexy for the anticipation of a glass of water. He hadn’t just read my mind, had he?
I walked away from him, toward the table I was serving. It was like leaving a magnetic force field, but I managed it, even though every fiber of my being wanted to go back to his table and ask him if he’d like to leave this crappy diner and run away together.
I told Diana they were ready to order, and watched the couple out of the corner of my eye as I went about my work, serving, cleaning, and taking orders for my side of the room. Once in a while he would look in my direction and catch my eye, and I’d blush furiously and look away, not wanting to seem like a creepy, socially clueless freak.
He ordered a steak with mushroom sauce, and his co-worker (she had to be his co-worker, I would die of jealousy if she were anything else) ordered a salad. Of course she would. She had perfect, short blonde hair, a button nose, and a tiny frame. I eyed her grey suit with regret; would I ev
After they left, Diana slid up to their table, and judging from her happy smile, she’d enjoyed the miracle of all miracles – a nice, juicy tip. She caught my eye and indicated that I should clean up, and I headed over with my rag and spritz bottle. And that’s when I noticed the wallet.
Lying on the shiny red booth where the man had been sitting, it was dark brown and made from the smoothest leather. There was a document folder lying next it. I grabbed them both and rushed out of the diner into the crisp Autumn air, just in time to see the couple getting into the back of a black town car.
“Wait,” I yelled, waving the folder in the air.
Some hipster passers-by stared at me, their facial expressions indicating that they would never do anything so passé as running out into the street and yelling, but the couple didn’t hear me. Their car pulled into traffic, and I ran along the pavement, following them, not caring if I was making a fool of myself. People run all the time. Ok, so they don’t usually run in heels and a retro red and yellow diner uniform. But they run. I didn’t deserve all those supercilious stares.
A few seconds later, the car stopped at a red light, and I managed to rush up and knock on the dark, tinted window. It rolled down, and I stared into Gorgeous’ aquamarine eyes once again. They were etched with surprise and a hint of pleasure at seeing me again – or maybe I was just imagining that latter. I handed over his wallet and document folder, panting slightly, wishing I were in better shape.
“Thanks,” he said, giving me a surprised smile, which left my stomach feeling all funny.
I nodded wordlessly, not wanting to attempt speech in my breathless state, and headed back immediately to the safety of the pavement before he could say anything else – anything that might require a verbal response. As the light changed from red to green, the car drove off.
What had I been expecting? That Gorgeous would invite me to step into the car with him, to ride off into the sunset together? Well, that might’ve been nice, but clearly life didn’t work that way. Still, as I re-entered the warmth of the diner and started cleaning up the table, I couldn’t help but feel that something unusual had happened in my regular, boring life.
It wasn’t just that I thought he was handsome. For the first time, I’d seen someone with the same haunted look I saw in the mirror sometimes. There was something in his blue-green eyes that made me want to wrap my arms around him and tell him that everything would be ok. And the way he looked at me made me think that maybe, just maybe, he felt the same way about me. Maybe he cared.
If we really did have some kind of connection, if it wasn’t all in my head, he knew where to find me.
Weeks passed by, and the crisp New York autumn morphed into the beginning of a chilly winter. I hadn’t found a new job yet, so I bundled up each day and headed over to the diner. After two weeks of hoping that Gorgeous would show up again, I’d admitted the harsh truth to myself: I was being delusional.
Of course he wouldn’t show up to chat with a girl he’d exchanged no more than two words with; I’d obviously been imagining whatever connection we might have had. It wasn’t like the food would draw him back again. The décor wasn’t worth mentioning, and maybe he just didn’t like Williamsburg? He’d seemed like a mid-town guy to me. I tried not to think about him, and focused all my energy on trying to find a new job.
The response was the same everywhere. “I’m sorry, but all graduate positions have been filled. You’re welcome to apply for next year’s intake.”
Some days I realized the hopelessness of my situation, but most of the time I avoided the cruel reality and kept applying. I wasn’t just limiting myself to accounting roles anymore; I applied for admin and secretarial roles, anything that would help me get a foot in the door.
The nights were dark and lonely. I’d toss and turn, and the memories would come rushing in, unwanted.
Three years ago, a few weeks after I’d started college, my mother had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. The news came as a shock; before the diagnosis, I hadn’t even realized she was sick.
It was terminal. There was nothing I could do, nothing the doctors could try to save her, other than chemo. She went into treatments. She lost weight, she lost her hair. My younger brother, Joel, and I rallied around, trying to keep her spirits up, and the first eight months were miserable. Then suddenly, after eight months, the treatments seemed to be having an effect.
Mom put on weight, and seemed to regain her passion for life. We were thrilled and excited for the future. I’d go home every weekend, and we’d go swimming and picnicking, everything normal, single-parent families did. A year after her diagnosis, Joel went away to college. Things seemed to go downhill from there.
The treatments stopped working. She grew thinner and weaker again, and the doctors announced that the cancer was spreading further. I blinked back tears every time I saw the veins popping out of her hand, the bones protruding from her narrow shoulders.
Sometimes, when my mother was going through chemo, I’d wonder if she imagined seeing my dad again. He’d passed away from a heart attack when I was three, and I didn’t remember him. But Mom did, and maybe she wanted to be with him. The thought was devastating. I wanted her to be there with us. Forever.
When she passed away last year, the doctors told us that she’d put up a valiant fight, that we’d been lucky she’d battled the cancer for so long.
None of it was any consolation.
Although I’d hated working at the diner initially, these days I was thankful that I had the job. It was a short walk from the apartment I shared with Jessie, so I only needed to brave the biting cold for a few minutes before I could enter the warm, toasty diner and defrost my toes and fingers.
I still hated my co-workers. Sam manned the kitchen and was a creepy, forty-something-year-old man with greasy hair and a constant stream of chauvinistic, misogynistic suggestions for Diana, me and any female patrons who might enter the diner. Diana was a few years older than me, with close-cropped jet-black hair, the thin, dark lips of a chain smoker, and a general bitterness toward the world. She was the diner manager and my co-waitress, but most days she seemed to shove the bulk of the work over to me, with very little gratitude and a whole lot of criticism for the way I did things.
Despite its shortcomings, my job paid the rent on our tiny place. Jessie and I had decorated our two-bedroom walk-up with thrift-store and Craigslist discoveries, and a couple of nice pieces we’d found on the curb. “One man’s trash,” we’d giggle to each other, and then haul the pieces off to our place, before a less-deserving neighbor snatched them away from us.
Right now, the apartment was still pretty sparse, but we had a super-comfy, curb-rescued Ektorp sofa with faded but freshly-laundered blue covers, a couple of wooden chairs and a plastic dining table. Jessie had splurged on an Ikea bed, a soft, plush rug, and bright throw pillows. My bedroom contained an identical Ikea bed, minus the throw pillows and the plush rug. I wasn’t sure that I could afford fancy bedroom decorations just yet.
The carpet in our apartment was thin and had stains that refused to come out, and the tap in the bathroom dripped constantly. Still, the place was clean and warm and it was home, for now.
“You need to have some fun,” Jessie would announce each Friday, holding the curling wand against her head until her hair fell in perfect, loose blonde curls. “What’s the point of living in the Big Apple if we don’t go out?”
It was easy for her to say. She had met a guy who worked on Wall Street, and he paid for her drinks and dinners out, most nights. And of course, Jessie was interning at a tech start-up, while running a popular fashion blog at night. She wasn’t stressed about bills, or work, or even men. She had it all figured out, just like she had in college.
She’d always been the one with the perfectly balan
“I’m on my way,” the note said when I got home from work that day. “Meet me at the bar.”
I sighed and changed into jeans and a sparkly top. That was about as much glamour as I could muster. I found a black purse, and was about to change into nicer shoes, when there was a knock on the door.
I opened it and stared up into dark brown eyes.
“Joel!” My younger brother stood there, his face pale, eyes ringed with dark circles. “Is something wrong?”
He stared at a spot just off my shoulder, refusing to meet my eyes, and I tried to ignore the panicky feeling that was building up in my stomach.
“Come in.” I indicated the tiny living room, and he stumbled in and collapsed on the sofa as I locked the door behind us. “What’s up?”
Joel and I shared the same brown eyes and the same dark hair. Even our personalities had been alike when we were younger: we were both nerds, focusing on grades and school instead of parties and “fun.” But all that had changed last year.
I’d reacted to my mother’s death by digging my nose deeper into my books, refusing to be distracted, and graduating college in three years instead of four. Joel had reacted by dropping out after his freshman year, moving to New York and going clubbing every night.
He was my little brother, and I wanted to take care of him. It’s what I’d promised Mom I’d do, but I seemed to have failed. These days, Joel’s eyes always had a look of despair that wouldn’t go away, and his cheeks were now sunken and covered in perpetual stubble.
He’d only come to my place a few times before. Even though we’d been living in the same city for a couple of months, I just couldn’t get through to him. The few times when I’d tried to probe into what was going on in his life, he’d mumbled, “Just leave me alone.”