Meet Brooke, a self-confessed shopaholic turned reluctant brothel receptionist, as she stumbles through life, trying to live up to her parents’ and fiancé’s high expectations—at the cost of her now low self-esteem.
Who would have thought a group of working girls would help her rediscover her inner strength and finally tackle her personal demons? But at Heavenly Pleasures, the rules are made to be broken and new opportunities are just around the corner…
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Scarlett asked, taking in my pale face and trembling hands.
“Some bloke just walked in here and asked me to have sex with him!”
Uggh! And he’d been all greasy black hair, gold fillings and overgrown ’tache, like an aging porn star. I stifled the urge to throw up.
Shaking her head in disgust, Scarlett rolled her eyes. “Hate to break it to you, precious, but you are working in a brothel, you know.”
“But nothing. What the hell did you expect him to ask for, a burger and fries?”
“I kept telling him I was only the receptionist, but he didn’t seem to care. He told me he’d pay extra if he had to.” I fought to calm my racing heart and queasy stomach.
Scarlett’s eyes narrowed. She didn’t look happy. It occurred to me that maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.
“What do you mean extra? How much extra?”
“Um…” I swallowed hard. “Three hundred dollars.”
The temperature in the room plummeted as a blast of ice-cold fury filled the air.
“What!” she screeched. “And you turned him down?”
“Jesus Christ!” she hissed and bolted over to the waiting room. “Shit, where the hell is he now?”
My glance flickered toward the door. Scarlett’s followed. For the briefest of moments, I thought she was going to drag him back in and make him apologize for being an insensitive bastard.
Instead her eyes widened in shock. “What! You let him walk out of here? You selfish fucking cow. You mightn’t have wanted him, but what about the rest of us girls? Three hundred bucks and you just let him walk out of here? Jesus! Prue is going to go off her nut when she hears about this.”
Prue was the Madame and owner of Heavenly Pleasures. An outwardly serene woman with immaculate hair, but nonetheless seriously scary with a sinister reputation, not unlike Cruella DeVille on a bad day, and therefore someone I did not want to cross.
“Oh, please don’t say anything,” I begged, on the verge of tears. “Look, I promise if he comes back in, I’ll call you out straight away—before JoJo. Just don’t mention it to Prue. I was just a bit taken aback, that’s all, and didn’t know what to do.”
This part was true. Haggling for sex wasn’t something we’d covered in secretarial college. Maybe it was the look of pure terror on my face or possibly Scarlett was in a rare compassionate mood, but after a moment’s hesitation she stopped scowling, her expression softening in what could well have been pity.
“Okay. I won’t say anything—this time,” came with reluctance. “But of course I’ll expect some more bookings, if you get my meaning.”
Yes—her meaning was loud and clear. She was blackmailing me, but I was in no position to protest. I nodded.
Her mood lightened. “Hey, cheer up, will you? So what if some ugly punter wanted a poke? Jeez, you’re not the first one to have the hard word put on them by some tosser, believe me. Guys come in here, think they’re God’s gift to women and although they know you’re not a worker, it gives them a sick thrill to think they can convince you to drop to your knees for a blow job—even if it is for three hundred dollars.” She threw me a disgusted look and shook her head in disbelief. “I reckon in their pathetic little minds they’re convinced they’ve seduced you with their hot looks and charm. Losers, that’s what they are. Anyway, I suppose it’s probably just as well you didn’t take him up on it.”
“Really?” I brightened, seeing it as a sign I was forgiven.
“Yeah, the girls would have flattened you if you had.”
Oh, God. I felt ill. What on earth had happened to my perfect life?
Two months ago, I had never met or even spoken to a prostitute. Two months ago, I’d had no idea brothels even existed outside the red light district of King’s Cross. Two months ago, I’d thought French, Spanish and Greek were southern Europeans rather than hooker code for certain sexual practices. And two months ago, I’d been happily looking forward to marrying my fiancé, Brad, an up-and-coming lawyer who planned to be the youngest junior partner in the law firm where he worked.
Yes, two months ago my life had all been mapped out before me.
But that was before a day out in the city to catch up with an old friend triggered a series of events that would ultimately bring about my downfall. Yep, it was at that point I can honestly say my life had bit the big one, nose-diving to newly discovered depths of desperation and despair. I was completely screwed and I didn’t have anyone to blame but myself…
Married, mother of one son and three daughters, Isla Dennes developed a love for writing while employed in her dream job as the owner of a book shop situated in a seaside resort town in NSW, Australia. Not content in simply reading every book in the store, she found herself compelled to create novels of her own.
Had she concentrated more on sales and less on writing she might well have retired a wealthy woman, but writing won out in the end, with the result being a lifelong passion for creative writing across a number of genres, including a brief but regrettable sojourn into horribly sentimental New-aged poetry which is best forgotten.
Contest runs from January 15 – February 1, 2018.