The Rich List Series

By: Talia Hunter

Ally rearranged her expression into a mask that hid any sign of nervousness, but her mouth went dry when he stepped forward and put his hand out.

“Hi Ally. I’m Max.” It didn’t seem fair that he could be that gorgeous and have a voice to match. Deep and low enough to sound intimate.

Ally let her camera go and pulled her hand out of her bag, trying to surreptitiously wipe off the perspiration that was suddenly soaking her palm.

“I want to book an appointment.” He took her small hand into his big, firm one and squeezed it before letting go.

“An appointment?” she managed.

“You’re not available?” He said it in a growl, before glancing at Geena. He almost caught Ally’s sister with the back of her hand pressed against her forehead, pretending to swoon behind his back.

Geena snatched her hand away and cleared her throat. “Mr. Oberon here is looking for someone he can work with to help him prepare for a movie role. I thought you’d be perfect.” She winked at Ally, then nodded with raised eyebrows, silently telling her to play along.

“What kind of role?” This was getting better. If there was a story in this it’d be better than just snapping some photos.

Max opened his mouth, but Geena jumped in before he could say anything. “He needs a dominatrix.”

Living with her ex had taught her to keep her feelings well hidden, but Ally struggled not to let her mask slip. Geena was trying to pass her off to be a dominatrix? Ally only had a vague idea what they did, but she was pretty sure they wouldn’t be seen dead wearing scruffy shorts and a dirty T-shirt. Not to mention that Geena was always snickering about how clueless she was when it came to all that stuff. Even though The Gee Spot was supposed to be a tasteful, trendy adult store that appealed to both women and men, Ally hadn’t even browsed the shelves.

Max leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. The action made his muscles flex and Ally couldn’t help but take a moment to appreciate them.

“I’ve got a role in a movie called Mastery. It’s the true story of an L.A. police detective called Thomas Barnes. You ever hear of him?”

Ally shook her head.

“He was an undercover policeman in the 50’s, until he fell in love with a woman named Cora Jensen, and from then on she controlled him. I need someone to rehearse with who can play the role of Cora.”

A strong woman who bossed men around? In other words, the opposite of Ally. She nodded, trying not to get distracted by Max’s dizzying good looks. She had to remember everything so she could blog about it. She couldn’t let her attention get absorbed by the way his T-shirt strained across his chest, although she could probably write a few thousand words on that subject alone. Focus, Ally!

“Cora ran a massive heroin distribution business,” Max continued. “Thomas was supposed to infiltrate her operation, but instead of doing his job he taught her how to cover her tracks so she wouldn’t be arrested. In between pandering to her every whim.”

“The perfect man,” murmured Geena.

“In your opinion,” said Max in a dry tone. “Anyway, are you interested?”

Ally narrowed her eyes. A rich and gorgeous underwear model had to troll through a sex store to find a woman to rehearse with? No way. She folded her arms. “So, what’s the catch?”

He quirked one eyebrow. “The catch?”

“You must know hundreds of women who’d give their right eye to help you. Why go out looking?”

“Because I want a professional.” His tone made it clear he wasn’t used to being questioned. One thing that didn’t come through in his photographs was his confidence. Or was it arrogance? He lounged against the counter like it was his store, like he could snap his fingers and expect them to jump to obey him.

“Why not an actress?” she asked.

“I’ve tried it.” He shook his head. “It didn’t feel real enough. At least, it didn’t help the underlying problem.”

“Which is?” She made the question into a challenge that bordered on rude, but it didn’t seem to put him off. In fact, his lips softened slightly. Maybe he appreciated her directness.

“Thomas liked taking orders. I don’t, and I’m having trouble faking it. I need someone who takes pleasure from being obeyed, like Cora did. I’m hoping if I spend time with a dominatrix, I’ll come to understand why Thomas needed to please her.” He shifted his gorgeous butt against the counter. “Also, I’ll be acting like I’m completely devoted to the woman I hire, willing to perform her every command. I want a professional so she’ll keep it on a strictly impersonal level. I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings.”

He meant that he didn’t want a woman falling for his act and kidding herself it was real. If any other man had implied something like that he’d sound conceited, but for Max Oberon it seemed a sensible precaution. Sensible, but in her case totally unnecessary. Barry had turned her off relationships for life. Though Max was hot enough to melt off every pair of panties within a ten-mile radius, Ally’s included, her heart was guarded with barbed wire. And she’d never be deluded enough to imagine the perfectly-groomed Max Oberon could be interested in someone like her.

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