Authors: Crystal Cierlak
Natalie Harlow's prospects are improving. She's debt free, living on her own and can occasionally get through the day without thinking of a certain Gentleman and the steamy night they spent together five months ago.
When her party-loving friend Quinn suggests they go to Vegas to celebrate Natalie's new promotion she's game, but Natalie is about to learn that in the city of Sin anything can happen - including a passionate reunion with the one man she'd never thought she'd see again.
Spend another night with Natalie and Gentleman Twelve in this sexy follow-up to CANDIDATE FOUR, and discover the secrets that connect them far beyond the four walls of the bedroom.
Book Two of the Bidden Series
SINFUL REUNION is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2014 Crystal Cierlak
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any format, digital or otherwise, without the expressed permission of the author.
As always, for Jeffrey P.
Natalie couldn’t get the door opened fast enough. The masked man’s hands were everywhere – her hips, her back, and her breasts. She was eager to get him inside and let him strip her of her dress, to feel his body on, against and inside hers. As soon as the hotel door lock lit green and opened he picked her up, her legs straddling his waist as he carried her towards her bedroom. She barely heard the door slam shut behind them.
“That way,” she murmured between kisses, pointing haphazardly at the direction she thought her room was in. He burst through the door and kept walking until he reached the bed, dropping Natalie on her back and climbing on top of her, kissing greedily at her lips. She moaned into his mouth when she felt his erection pressed against her as he arched his hips. Her lust was like fire fueled by the alcohol, all she wanted was sensation.
“Take off the mask,” she breathed into him between kisses at his ear and neck. He pulled the mask off and her heart flipped at the trick her drunk mind was playing on her. “God, you look just like him.”
“Whom do I look like?” he asked.
“Mmm,” she murmured as her fingers found their way beneath his shirt and to his muscled abdomen. “Like the man I wish was you right now.”
He smiled, an arrogant, brooding smile that made her want him even more. “Maybe I am that man?” He pushed her dress up over her breasts and kissed over the fabric of her bra, his tongue searching along the edge for skin. “But you’re too drunk to see it?”
“If only that were true,” she sighed tiredly.
“Then maybe I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll find out?”
“If only that were true,” she mumbled again, induced into sleep from too much alcohol before she could finish the sentence.
If only you really were him
Natalie Harlow could hardly believe her luck. It couldn’t have been happening to her. There was a mistake, a miscalculation or a typo by a severely dyslexic person. Not
“We’ll be going over performance reviews this week and will have a decision announced on Friday. The person we select to fill this position will begin Monday, bright and early. Are you up for the task, Miss Harlow?”
Natalie nodded, a smile widening her mouth into her cheeks until she was grinning like an idiot. “Yes, I am. Thank you!”
Graham Martin, the Vice President of Marketing and technically her boss’ boss, had just informed her she was being considered for a promotion. If she got it, Graham Martin would be her boss. It was Monday and the wait would be agonizing, but if she got it… more opportunity, more freedom, more responsibility! Not to mention more income.
She’d worked and saved and had finally moved out of her parents’ apartment and into one of her very own. It was tiny but affordable, and thanks to the extra money left over from the one previous side job she’d acquired in order to help pay for her student loans, she was set.
That was nearly five months ago, though time had done nothing to erase or fade the memories that had been burned so deeply in her mind, to her body, by Gentleman Twelve. Every Friday at 9:30PM since she’d looked outside her apartment window expecting a Concierge to drive up in a fancy car and transport her to The Golden Palm Club – a secret society-type of club in a luxurious private residence up in the hills where rich men bought a woman for the night for the pleasure of her company. Or at least, that’s how it had been described to her by her friend and frequent Golden Palm Club attendee, Quinn. It was, for all intents and purposes, an auction. A girl – a Candidate – would offer herself for bidding, the highest of which paid for the right to spend the next thirteen hours doing whatever the bidder – the Gentleman – wanted.
Natalie had only gone once and was bought by a bidder she came to know as the twelfth man, or Gentleman Twelve. He was a roguishly handsome man with deep blue-green eyes that bore holes into the sockets of anyone he looked at, and he had looked at her and only her. After a few rough beginnings, one which led to her walking out on him completely and without payment, they spent an unforgettable night together. He claimed he would ruin a girl like her, and it wasn’t until the next day she began to truly understand his meaning.
In truth she wanted to return to the house and become
again just on the off-chance he was there, too. She craved for his touch the way any addict jonesed for a hit of their drug of choice. Until her night with him she’d only ever known good sex. Gentleman Twelve introduced her to the world of the amazing, toe-curling, world collapsing sex that in retrospect scared her. The vulnerability inherent in giving one’s body to another, to allow them total control of sense and perception was dangerous. But she wanted it, and no amount of fantasy alone in her bed at night, fingers between her legs, could replicate the twelfth man and the high he gave her.
But he’d asked her not to return. He said she was too good to put herself up for auction again, and while she understood and appreciated that modicum of respect he had for her, it quite frankly pissed her off. He might as well have said point blank he never wanted to see her again and that she should forget about him entirely. Like that could happen.
Natalie pushed the thoughts of him from her mind and made her way back to her cubicle, refusing to let the drama of her personal life interfere with the amazing direction her professional life was potentially about to take. By the end of the week she could be made Junior Vice President of Marketing at Brighton New Media. On paper she was qualified. She’d earned a Master’s degree in grad school, graduated with honors and had filled the spaces of her academic résumé with internships, student leadership and government, and social clubs which had helped make her personable, responsible, and affable.
She’d been with the company – which specialized in new media – for less than a year, but she’d worked hard during that time, volunteering for special committees and projects, finding ways to implement positive changes that saved the company money or made something more efficient. In fact it was in the last five months or so alone that she’d become even more devoted to her job, and nobody at work knew it was to keep her mind off a certain gentleman bidder who had completely upended life as she knew it. Regardless, this was the projection she had envisioned for her life post-graduation, and now she was days away from possibly making that vision a reality.
Quinn Potter – quite possibly the most attractive woman Natalie had ever seen in person – was sitting at Natalie’s desk, a brand new quilted leather Chanel bag the color of cotton candy dangling from her arm.
“Looks like you had a successful weekend,” Natalie smiled as she came around, setting her phone down on the cheap wood desk.
“Very successful. Though I don’t think anyone can match your Gentleman Twelve.” Natalie blushed as Quinn stood and relinquished the chair, taking her overly-expensive handbag with her. Quinn was referring, of course, to Natalie’s night at The Golden Palm and the amount her bidder had paid for her. Five months later she could hardly believe herself the six figures that had been written on the check. And that was
the club took its fees from the Gentleman. Quinn said the most she ever received was $20,000, but usually came home with anywhere between seven and ten thousand, more than enough to support her
lifestyle of designer clothes, fancy dinners and frequent vacations. Natalie had the majority of her bid money into an account and set up automatic payments each month for her student loans. As far as she was concerned, she was well kept.
“Did you have a nice time?” Natalie sat in her chair and tried not to laugh at the casual manner in which they talked about Quinn’s occasional foray into what was essentially prostitution, or
as Natalie once thought of it. Nor did she acknowledge so much as a crumb of her own jealousy for Quinn’s freedom to partake as she pleased.
“That’s a polite way of putting it,” Quinn smirked.
Natalie sighed thoughtfully. Yes,
was exactly the word the twelfth man had used to describe her, and since their night together the word had taken on a whole new meaning.
“Anyway, I heard Graham Martin is considering you for the junior VP position. Congrats! We should celebrate! Drinks tonight? Ooh! If you get the job we should do something crazy this weekend.
“Whoa there, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Natalie laughed. Quinn had an incurable positivity that was at times overwhelming, especially in the mornings when she was hopped up on caffeine. “Drinks, yes! Vegas? Won’t that be last minute?”
“If I don’t find out until Friday that will leave no time to plan everything properly-“
“What’s to plan?” Quinn interrupted, leaning against the cubicle desk. “We can get tickets on Southwest any time for dirt cheap, fly out of Burbank and be in Vegas in under an hour! I can book a hotel room and get us a reservation on OpenTable before the plane is taking off the runway. It’s easy!”
Natalie had to admit she was impressed. Quinn made her effervescent, flying by the seat of her custom-tailored and probably-too-expensive pants look like an effortless task hardly worthy of the time it took to consider it. But then again, Natalie was convinced Quinn’s life was a perpetual perfume ad of handsome men, glistening sunsets on the beach and mad, passionate lust.
“In fact we should go even if you
get the promotion. You’ve worked your butt off here for months and deserve a mini-vacay. Friday night we’ll eat, stay out late drinking, spend the day by the pool Saturday and do some shopping at Caesar’s, stay out and drink some more, then fly back Sunday, relax, detox and be pampered and refreshed in time for work Monday.”
“I don’t know. Vegas isn’t exactly my thing.”
“Vegas is everybody’s thing,” Quinn stated matter-of-factly. “And to sweeten the deal I’ll even pay for the hotel. Honestly, how could you refuse?”
Truth be told, she couldn’t refuse. Natalie hadn’t taken a proper vacation in years, let alone a weekend trip one 45 minute plane ride away. The minute she agreed Quinn made her promise not to plan a single thing. No looking up show or hotel reviews, no pre-planned adventures whatsoever. It was difficult for Natalie; she wasn’t used to just doing things spontaneously and doing something spontaneously in a week’s time was an even bigger challenge. But she agreed and by the time Quinn had sauntered back to her own desk Natalie was too distracted with work to give it much more thought.
By the end of business Monday Quinn insisted they also go for drinks, saying it would be good practice for Vegas. Practice Natalie didn’t need since she and Quinn became friends after her foray into fancy prostitution and Quinn introduced her to the world of bar hopping and social drinking.
“Why haven’t you gone back?” Quinn asked over cocktails and tableside guacamole, referring to The Golden Palm.
Natalie shrugged and toyed with the stem of her margarita glass. “I haven’t really felt the need to. Honestly I think I had as good an experience as I’m ever going to have there. So what’s the point?” It scared her how easily the lie came. But she didn’t want to tell her that the twelfth man had asked her never to return.
“Think of all the money you could make!”
“I just don’t think I’d get as lucky the second time around.” Her Gentleman Twelve had said he would ruin her, and in that respect he had; ruined her for another experience being bought and sold. She sincerely doubted any other bidder would be like him. He was intense, passionate, demanding even. But he didn’t treat her as property he’d purchased or like a prostitute. He’d given her the envelope with her check before he’d so much as kissed her, giving her the option to leave whenever she wanted. She could have just as easily left him, taken his money and disappeared from the club forever. Instead she’d stayed, she’d partaken in the night, and she’d had her entire world tilted on its axis.
“You’re kind of hung up on him, aren’t you?”
“Who? My bidder?”
“Oh come on!” Quinn laughed. “You think I can’t tell when a girl’s got stars in her eyes for a man?”
“Even if that was the case it doesn’t matter. It was a one-time affair and I doubt I’ll ever see the man again.”
Quinn stirred her drink and stared thoughtfully into the distance. “I wonder if I’ve ever been bid on by him?”
Natalie hoped to never find out the answer.
The rest of the week went by at an agonizing pace. Natalie went about her regular duties trying to ignore the fact that she was up for a promotion. Her job was still her job and would continue to be her job if she wasn’t promoted. There was no use in trying to do better or slacking off in anticipation of moving up. She went about life as she always had: Wake up, go to work, work hard, come home, order take out, go to bed, fantasize herself to sleep. Rinse and repeat.
Wednesday she and Quinn booked inexpensive flights from Burbank to McCarran over their lunch break and Thursday night Quinn came over to help pack.
“You don’t have anything nearly slutty enough.” Quinn made a
noise with her tongue and turned to the garment bag she’d brought with her. “Fortunately for you I came prepared. Still have the black lace dress Miss Six Figures?”
Natalie pulled the dress from her closet and hung it over the door by the hanger. She’d had it dry cleaned but hadn’t worn it since. Every time she saw the garment she remembered how the twelfth man’s hands had slid beneath it and across her skin, intimately caressing her.
“If you need a moment alone with it…” Quinn teased her.
“No, I don’t!” Natalie rolled her eyes and addressed the garment bag. “Okay I don’t want to actually
slutty!” she protested.
When she shut her car door in the parking lot outside of work Friday morning she was shaking with nerves. She wheeled her carry-on behind her into the double entrance doors of the office building and snaked her way to her cubicle, trying to keep her breakfast out of her throat. By the time she left for work that day she’d either be promoted or in exactly the same position she was then. There really wasn’t a losing scenario, and in any event Las Vegas was enough; a celebration if she was promoted, a mini-vacation if she wasn’t. She’d be on a plane by seven, checked into her hotel before nine and sipping margaritas at Pink Taco soon thereafter.
By lunchtime she’d neither heard nor seen her boss or her boss’ boss. Quinn joined her in the lunchroom and talked her ear off about the best bars and clubs on the Strip and how it was really too bad they weren’t driving out so they could stop in Baker on the way for some Alien Beef Jerky (but maybe next time).
One o’clock, two o’clock, and three o’clock came, and by half past three there was finally some movement, a trickle of excitement in the air. Graham Martin and Ann Stable, her boss, made their way through the cluster of cubicles and into Ann’s office. A moment later Sydney Gold from Human Resources and her assistant Hunter followed and joined them in the office, closing the door behind them. Over the course of the next thirty minutes Sydney’s assistant Hunter was dispatched out of the office to fetch individuals and bring them into the meeting, escorting them back out a few minutes later before fetching the next person. Natalie was dying to look at the face of each person as they left the office, looking for any clue they’d receive either the good or bad news about their promotion status, but she didn’t. She kept her head down and continued working, peeking up only once in a while when the door opened. It was just after four when Hunter came round her desk.
“Natalie Harlow?” He was good looking in a hipster sort of way, faux prescription glasses pushed up his nose, curl of highlighted brown hair meeting the bridge from the top. Natalie smiled and followed him to her boss’ office, attempting across the last few steps to take in large swells of air and let them out gently in an effort to calm her nerves. It wasn’t working.
Hunter closed the door behind him and Graham motioned for her to sit at the moderately-sized conference table they’d been conducting their business at. Ann was the first to speak.
“How’s your day going so far, Natalie?”
“Great!” she answered brightly. A little
brightly. She chuckled self consciously and pinched the inside of her arm to relax. “I’m just trying to clear out some last minute tasks before the close of business.”
“Well you know why you’re here,” Ann continued, her smile as warm and affectionate as professionalism would allow. “The position of Junior Vice President of Marketing is a stepping stone for the person we select to fill it. We expect great things from the Junior VP, as well as a level of commitment that will truly be a test for whomever the position goes to.”
“Of course,” Natalie nodded. “I’m sure that no matter who you pick they are perfect for the position.”
“We feel exactly the same way,” Graham smiled. “Which is why we’d like to formally offer it to you, Natalie.”
happening to her. There was no mistake, no dyslexic error. They chose her!
“I don’t know what to say except
!” she gushed. “I’m honored. And I hope I live up to your expectations!”
“We have no doubt you will, Natalie,” Ann smiled. “You’ll take ownership of the position beginning Monday. Sydney from HR has some paperwork for you to go over and sign. Your salary contract is there for you to look over as well. When you’ve finished I will show you to your new office as Graham and Sydney sign their portion of the contract. Do you have any questions?”
She had a million and none at the same time. “Not at the moment but I’ll be sure to ask should any arise!”
She looked over the paperwork Sydney and Hunter provided, signing and initialing where required. She looked at the salary contract – an actual salary instead of an hourly wage! When she finished Ann opened the door and walked with her down the hall of the cubicle cluster to a row of offices against the wall of windows. Third from the corner office was one empty office with an L-shaped desk, a much nicer computer chair than she had at her current cubicle station, and a vase filled with a rainbow assortment of peonies.
“Welcome to your new office, Natalie!”