The Rich List Series

By: Talia Hunter



She should probably keep sharp, but she was nervous and a drink sounded too good to refuse. She sank onto one of the couches, the tightness of her skirt forcing her to sit gracefully with her knees to one side, and put her clutch on the coffee table. She’d considered bringing a recording device with her, but some experimentation had shown the sound was too muffled unless the recorder was sitting on top of an open purse, where it would be too easy to spot. Besides, the clutch Geena had lent her was only just big enough for her lipstick, her phone, and the fake business cards she’d hurriedly printed on Geena’s ink-jet.

“What do you have?” she asked.

“Anything you like.”

She looked around for a kitchen or bar but all she got was a glimpse of a massive bed in a plush bedroom. Nerves fluttered in her stomach. If she accepted the job, would he expect to have sex with her? Though Geena had explained the difference between a domme and a prostitute to Ally, perhaps Max thought they were the same thing.

“Chocolate martini,” she said on impulse. It was a joke — the strongest drink that came to mind. Of course he couldn’t make it for her, but at least he might give her some options to choose from.

But he picked up the telephone. “A chocolate martini and a Peroni.”

Room service, of course. Ally mentally slapped her forehead. But she’d never ordered room service before so no wonder she hadn’t thought of it. She’d never stayed in a hotel nice enough, only cheap motels. The kind where you pulled the sheets back to check for bugs before getting in bed.

Crap, she shouldn’t have ordered a chocolate martini. Those things were so lethal they should come with a warrant. Last time she’d drunk them, well, she wasn’t quite sure what she’d been up to, but she’d woken up with a killer hangover, an empty wallet, and only one shoe.

“So, Ally. Let me tell you what I’m looking for.” Max sat on the opposite couch, his arm stretched across the back of it. She felt so nervous she was sure he’d be able to see her heart pounding through the sheer fabric of her blouse, but everything about his posture said he was completely at ease. He was the kind of guy who filled up a room all by himself. If he could bottle and sell his brand of confidence, he’d have them lining up around the block. What wouldn’t she give for a bottle right now?

“This part is a dream role, one that could mean big things for my career. It’s my chance to make the transition from modeling to acting.”

Ally nodded. “But you’ve had a couple of film roles already.” She’d taken time out from Geena’s lecture about restraints and nipple clamps to research all she could about him.

He waved one hand dismissively. “Small stuff. This time I get to prove I can really act.” The line of his lips hardened. “But if I don’t measure up, I might not get another chance. That’s where you come in.”

The expectation he was dumping on her made her mouth dry, and she had to stop herself from swallowing. Max’s gaze was too sharply perceptive to allow her nervousness to show. But Barry had been observant and she’d learned how to fool him — she’d had to in order to survive. At least Max’s face wasn’t just strong, it was also kind. When she’d met Barry she hadn’t recognized the cruelty that lay just beneath the surface. She’d never make that mistake again. Max intimidated her, but she wasn’t afraid of him. Not when the small lines in the corners of his eyes hinted at somebody more used to laughing than frowning.

“Thomas Barnes was a very powerful man. I don’t know why he felt the need to subjugate himself to Cora. But she controlled him.” Max leaned forward. It wasn’t just the perfect symmetry of his face that made him such a commanding presence. He radiated determination. He knew exactly what he wanted, and she had absolutely no doubt he’d get it, no matter what.

Ally nodded again, in what she hoped was a knowing way. At least after her long talk with Geena she knew enough to wing it. “Did he wear a collar?”

“Nothing like that. But Cora gave him orders. She told him what to eat and when to sleep.”

Did Max think Thomas’s submissive relationship made him weak? She had to admit, she’d never met anyone less submissive than Max. Even the way he splayed his legs and stretched his arm along the back of the couch said he was used to being in charge. Tell him what to do? She couldn’t imagine it. But if she got this job, she’d have to.

“Thomas did everything Cora told him to. He broke the law and betrayed everything he’d worked for. He even killed for her.”

“She told him to kill people and he did it?”

“That’s right.”

“Who’d he kill?”

Before he could answer, there was a knock at the door. “Room service.”

“Come in,” called Max.

A waiter let himself in and put their drinks on the coffee table before leaving. Ally tasted her martini. Mmm, chocolatey deliciousness. She could get used to this. Then she caught herself. She wasn’t there for fun, but to do a job. An Evening with Max Oberon, by Ally Dennis. Ally took note of what kind of beer Max had ordered so she could mention it in the article.

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