He leaned in, and then he pressed the softest, most tender kiss against my neck.

The bastard.

The fucking bastard. Because that kiss was like a taste of honey. A sweet little spoonful of ice cream. And as much as I loved the hard and heavy, a dangerous part of me wanted this sweetness too.

But I couldn’t have it.



At ten the next morning, I perched in the black leather chair across from Trish Valentine. Her red hair was twisted high on her head in an elegant style, and her black glasses slid down the bridge of her nose. Over forty and stunning, the woman could command a room.

There were only two of us in here, but when she spoke, I listened intently.

She clasped her hands on her glass desk, flashed a smile, then began. “I can’t wait to tell you about this project. It’s a little bit daring. A little risqué. And you’re perfect for it.”

I sat up straighter, brushing my hand across my trim black slacks. “I’m ready.”

“I hope you’ve been thinking about great girls’ night out marketing strategies since last night. Because this one is going to challenge you in a whole new way.”

“And why is that?” I asked, eager for my marching orders.

Trish took a deep breath. “Because we just landed a pitch with Sin City Escorts.”

I blinked. That account had been with one of our competitors. The rumor was Sin City Escorts paid handsomely and offered lots of incentives. And people used the service extensively, as last night’s ladies’ room encounter had demonstrated.

I couldn’t quite believe that we might net this golden goose and Trish wanted me to be the . . . goose handler.

Not that I was going to ask Trish if she was sure she wanted me to take it on if we won it. I wasn’t some doe-eyed newbie or prone to polite modesty. Instead, I squared my shoulders and said, “I’d be happy to look after the account.”

That pleased Trish, judging from her satisfied grin.

“Fantastic,” she said. “Because they left their old marketing firm, wanting a fresh approach to the world’s oldest profession. And I know you can provide a new take. You always think outside the box. You’re a lifer here in Vegas, but you still look around like there are new things to see, new things to observe. I think you’re going to surprise this potential client, and that’s what I want—to surprise them. Because they’re rolling out something new.”

I edged forward in my seat. This kept getting more intriguing. “What are they adding to a stable that already includes the hottest men in the city?”

She smiled like she had an ace up her sleeve. “Indeed, their men are tops. But they want to expand their offerings.”

Beyond the standard man-for-hire? “And what would that be?”

As if she was sharing details of a Christmas wish list, Trish said in a whisper, “They’re testing out a new menu of role-playing.”

Oh, my. That tickled my fancy. “They’ve never offered it before?”

Trish shook her head. “Not like this. Their female clients have generally ordered traditional escort services, which may or may not include sex—up to the clients.” She waved her hand, airily listing them. “The boyfriend experience. A hot night out. Wedding dates, and so on. But that’s starting to change. And now, Sin City Escorts wants something more . . . shall we say . . .” Trish spun in her chair and stared out the window as if hunting for just the right word.

But I had one ready, thanks to last night.

“Something more daring. Something a woman can give to her best friend. A present, almost like a secret,” I said.

I’d had almost no details yesterday, but I’d been working on the concept, both while I was out with my girlfriends and later, on my own.

“Something daring,” Trish echoed, trying it on for size. “Yes, I love that.”

“I can see this as something women give each other.” I dove into my concept headfirst, no timid wading in from the shallow end. “For girls’ nights out. For bachelorette parties. For girls’ weekends. Playfully naughty.”

Her smile spread. “Exactly. Yes, that’s exactly how Sin City will want to sell it.”

“It’s the ultimate gift to give your bestie.” Thank heaven for the bride squad. I raised my hands as if showing off a marketing slogan in marquee lights. “Don’t you deserve the ultimate gift?”

Excitement twinkled in Trish’s green eyes. “I knew you’d nail this. Yes, the ultimate gift. The gift you deserve. That’s a perfect starting point. Can you put together some more taglines, concepts, and strategies over the weekend?”

Could I?

Of course I could.


She leaned forward, shifting back to brass tacks. “I want you to think about role-play. Research it. Immerse yourself in the different styles. Figure out how exactly we can capture the essence of what a woman might want to order for a friend or herself. That’s what we need to seal the deal.”

Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic
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