Sweet Persuasion

By: Maya Banks

CHAPTER 1



“Do you know of anyone who fulfills sexual fantasies?” Serena James asked.

Quiet descended. The hands massaging her tense shoulders stopped. Serena cracked one eye open to glance over at Faith Malone, who was lying on the next massage table, and then she craned her head to look over her shoulder at her masseuse, Julie Stanford, who owned the all-inclusive beauty salon Serena and Faith went to on a weekly basis.

“Uh, honey, you’re the fantasy fulfiller,” Julie remarked in a dry voice. “And do you have to talk about sexual fantasies while I’m giving you a rubdown?”

“Quit your bitching and keep massaging,” Serena grumbled.

She closed her eyes and relaxed back onto the table. She should have known better than to bring up what was occupying her mind lately. A quiet sigh escaped her lips when Julie began kneading her muscles again.

“The time to talk sexual fantasies is when I’m giving Nathan Tucker a massage,” Julie said in a dreamy tone.

Faith laughed next to Serena. “Is he a regular now?”

“Yep. Twice a month,” Julie said cheerfully. “Now that is a job I’d do for free. I have to be careful not to drool on his back.”

“Not the front?” Serena mumbled.

Julie chuckled. “He only lets me do his back. Pity. I’d pay him to massage that chest.”

“Only his chest, huh?” Faith said.

“Why only his back?” Serena asked.

Julie’s hands shook as she laughed. “He’s embarrassed, I think. Doesn’t want me to see his hard-on.”

Her hands moved more firmly over Serena’s back, and Serena groaned in pleasure.

“But enough about my obsession with Nathan Tucker. I want to know why you’re asking about sexual fantasies.”

“Yeah, me too,” Faith piped up. “Thinking of expanding Fantasy Incorporated?”

Serena chuckled. “Uh, no. Paying people to fulfill other people’s sexual fantasies is called prostitution, no?”

“Then why do you want to know about it?” Julie persisted. She patted Serena’s shoulder to let her know she was finished and then moved over to Faith.

Serena sat up and reached for a bathrobe, wrapping it around herself as she perched on the edge of the massage table. She stared over at Faith as Julie started her massage. Why was she asking about it?

It was a slip of the tongue, one made by her ever increasing frustration that her life’s work was all about fulfilling other people’s fantasies—some frivolous, some the culmination of lifetimes of hope.

She was proud of her work. She made other people happy. And maybe that was why she was frustrated by her own lack of contentment.

“Maybe I just need to get laid,” Serena muttered.

An amused grin split Julie’s lips. “Don’t we all. Well, except Faith here. I’m sure Gray is giving her all she needs in that quarter.”

“Hey, no hating,” Faith protested. “I can’t help it if I’m irresistible.”

Serena threw a hand towel at Faith’s head, and Faith reached up, snagged it from her hair and threw it back.

“When are you getting married anyway?” Serena asked Faith.

“Oh, no, you don’t,” Faith said as she cracked her eyes open to stare at Serena. “We were talking about your sexual fantasy question.”

“Yeah, we were,” Julie said pointedly.

Serena let out an exasperated breath. “You two are worse than a dog with a bone.”

“Yep,” Julie said with a grin. “I have no life, remember? I have to live vicariously through my clients. Now spill.”

Serena bit her bottom lip then shrugged her shoulders. What the hell. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“I have some pretty … interesting fantasies.”

Julie snorted. “Don’t we all.”

Serena could see Faith’s blush start at her feet and creep up her body. She grinned. “Apparently Faith does, judging by that blush.”

Faith gave a mortified squeak and hid her face. “We’re not talking about me,” she said in a muffled voice.

“No, but I wish we were,” Julie muttered. “I bet that sweet, innocent exterior shields a twisted mind.”

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