These are dangerous waters I’m treading. This girl is different from the others. If I don’t handle her the right way, she’ll run. Of this, I’m certain. “You and I will both be in Wagga Wagga for the next three months. I’d really like to see you while we’re here.”
“Would I finally get to know your name?” She’s laughing but has no idea that withholding real names is my number-one stipulation for dating.
Hell! She’s got me off my game and feeling like I’ve never done this before.
I draw a breath to clear my head before I begin. “My life is complicated for reasons I won’t discuss. When it comes to dating, I need it to be simple and undemanding. Disclosing my identity complicates things, so you wouldn’t know my real name.”
I can’t read her reaction. I have no idea if she’s on board or freaking out. “When the three months is over, so are we. I’ll move on and you will too. Because you won’t know my name or any identifying information about me, you’ll have no way to contact me. Ever.”
This face I can read, and it’s full of confusion. “But why?”
I have reasons, but I won’t explain them. “Because that’s the way I need things to be.”
She’s clearly pissed off as evidenced by the scowl on her face. “If you never wanted to hear from me again, that wouldn’t be a problem on my end, Jack.”
I smile because she has no idea she just used my real name. “You’d have the same courtesy. You don’t have to tell me your real name and you choose how much or how little you want to tell me about yourself.”
She puts her elbows on the table and leans forward. “You’re crazy as hell, but you already know that, right?”
I feel her slipping through my fingers, so I’m forced to use my last line of defense. “I’m a very wealthy man. The three months we spend together would be the best of your life. You’d never be able to top what you’d experience with me.”
She sits back and laughs. “Well, at least you’re not egotistical.”
I wasn’t finished. I had one more card up my sleeve. “I’d make your fantasies a reality.”
She licks her lips and then draws the bottom one into her mouth. God, I’d love to do that for her. “You want me to have sex with you.”
Now she’s catching on. “Yes, I would like that very much.”
“Sounds like you need an escort or a prostitute, and I’m neither of those things.”
Oh, shit. I’ve fucked up royally now.
I reach for her hand to calm her. “I wasn’t suggesting you were either. Sex wouldn’t be the only part of our relationship. There would be much more to it than that.”
She jerks her hand away. “I don’t sleep with strangers and apparently that’s what you’d continue to be since you won’t even tell me something as basic as your name.”
I pull my hand back. “You have a very reasonable argument, but it wouldn’t be like that. We would come to know each other in our own way.”
“To hell with this shit. I’m outta here.” She pushes away from the table. “Please call your driver and ask him to take me home.”
Way to go, Jack. Way to go.
I pull my phone from my pocket and call Daniel. “Front of the hotel, now.”
I watch her face as she stares off, refusing to look at me. I regret we didn’t have more time together. I wish I could take it all back and handle it differently.
“He’ll only be a minute. Please, allow me to walk you out.” She doesn’t agree or object as I stand to walk her toward the exit.
The car is at the curb as we move through the revolving doors. I open the back passenger door for her and her caramel eyes meet mine before she gets inside. “Have a nice life, whoever you are.”
She climbs in and I stand, my hand on the door, waiting to shut it. I don’t want to let her go like this. I fight the urge to get into the backseat with her but I know it’s useless. I’ve insulted her, and she’s made it clear she wouldn’t accept my proposition. But dammit, I don’t want this to be the last time I see her, so I stop arguing with myself and get into the car.
She regards me with narrowed, suspicious eyes. “What are you doing?”
She scoots as far from me as possible. “My answer is no, so what’s the point?”
We ride in uncomfortable silence as Daniel drives us to where she is staying. I rack my brain trying to think of an alternate approach, but come up short.
After the car stops, Daniel opens the door and she gets out. I follow, walking by her side toward the apartment’s entrance, and I can’t fight the urge to make another plea. “Please, think it over and reconsider my offer.”
She stops dead in her tracks. “You arrogant jackass! You rode with me so you could try to talk me into going along with this crazy-ass idea of yours.”
I’m not sure why I feel like I have the right to touch her or why I think she’d let me, but I reach out and place my finger over her lips. “Shh. Don’t say no again right now. Wait until you’ve had time to think about it. This is a new idea, and you might find you feel different about it once you’ve thought it over.”
I trail my thumb to her bottom lip and rub it as I remember the way she sucked it. If you say yes, you’d spend the next three months having the time of your life.”
I take my hand from her face. “I’ll be in the hotel restaurant tomorrow night at eight o’clock if you decide you want to discuss it further.”
I unlock the door and all but fall inside the empty apartment. Addison is out with Zac for their first postcoital date. I have no idea where Ben is, but I’m glad to be alone. I don’t want to explain why I’ve returned from a date with a man I can’t name.
It’s still early but nothing is on television, so I change into my pajamas and go to bed. Sleep doesn’t find me easily because my mind keeps racing with thoughts of what Mr. Nameless has asked me to do.
It’s a fascinating idea. At least I know how things would end. There would be no chance of a broken heart. He said it would be the best three months of my life. I’d experience new and wonderful things. He’d make my fantasies come true.
I’ve known from the time I was a small child something was wrong with me. I’ve never been able to have a normal relationship with a man—neither romantic or nonromantic. Maybe my problems stem from my father—or lack thereof––or my mother’s unrequited love for him. Neither have been much of a positive influence on my feelings regarding romantic relationships. Whatever the cause, I’m damaged goods. Maybe I should consider this. It’s not like I have better offer on the table.
It takes hours for me to doze off because I can’t stop thinking about the things Nameless said. But I do fall asleep, only to be awakened by Addison sneaking into our bedroom again. Does she think that Ben is stupid? He has to know what she’s doing with Zac.
I look at the clock: 6:27 a.m. this time. She almost made it to a reasonable hour.
She slides into bed next to me. “Tell me I’m not going to wake up to this for the next three months,” I say.
“I make no promises. I see you’re here so the good-looking suit must not have been a serial-killing weirdo. How did it go?”
She was dead wrong about the weirdo part. “It was a bizarre date to say the least.”
I can think of many words to describe Nameless, but none do him justice. There needs to be a new word for what he is. “Different doesn’t even begin to cover what this guy asked me to do.”
“My first thoughts were that it was crazy, but now I’m not sure. I’ve had time to think about it … and it might be sort of hot.”
Addison sits straight up in the bed. I have her full attention. “What did he do? Ask you to give him a hand job under the table at dinner?”
I can’t bring myself to tell her the part about how he wouldn’t tell me his name or anything personal about his life. “He asked me to date him for the next three months and then walk away without any further contact.”
She lies back on the bed. “So, the guy isn’t into long-distant relationships? Seems pretty reasonable since you’ll be nine thousand miles away. Zac and I sort of have the same arrangement.”
No, it’s not the same, but I can’t tell her the rest. “I guess. He told me he was rich and he would make the next three months of my life the best I’ve ever had. He said he’d make my fantasies come true.”
“Umm, the best three months of your life and fantasies coming true? What’s holding you back?”
“It just seems pointless to date someone when I know it’s going to end in three months.” And then there’s the whole issue of having sex with someone I don’t love. I’m not sure I can do that.
“You’re overthinking it, Laurelyn. The guy’s rich and he promises you the best three months of your life. It’s a no-brainer.”
I can’t believe I’m considering it. “You think I should do this?”
“If you don’t, will you go home and wonder what you might have missed?”
The answer is clear. “Of course I would.”
There’s a knock at our bedroom door. “Come in,” Addison says. Ben opens it.