Evangeline Andrews is quiet and unassuming, or at least she hopes that’s how people see her. Fleeing her life in New Jersey to hide in Dublin the last thing she needs are her secrets following her across the Atlantic. And what’s the best way to keep a secret? Keep your mouth shut.
Life is one big game for online-gaming genius Julian Harte, and he plays to win every time. Becoming a self-made millionaire before his 30th birthday, Julian’s office is his playground, and he sets the rules. Julian hasn’t lost a round yet and he’s used to getting everything he wants. He wants Evangeline. But she doesn’t want to play.
Meet the Irish Alpha with a rulebook as thick as his accent.
Eva waited until everyone left the office before clicking on the link she had bravely Googled earlier. Casanova Agency appeared in a swirling, grey font on a soft cream background. There was nothing else. No info, no contact details, nothing. Eva tried dragging her mouse back and forth hoping for an image to appear. Nothing. She pressed almost every key on her keyboard. Nothing. A little bile rushed into her mouth, and she forced it down with an awkward gulp. What if it was a dodgy site? The whole office system could go down and the IT guys would trace it back to her. Her desk, her PC, and a frickin’ escort website.
She was about to shut the window when she spotted three tiny letters in the bottom, left corner of the screen. She clicked on shh and waited. Loading appeared in a small, spinning, circle centre screen and a soft, violin solo began. Eva jumped before quickly hitting the mute button.
A phone number appeared on the screen. Nothing more. No picture, or bio, or even a name. Eva tutted angrily. She hated clogged up, messy websites as much as the next person, but this minimalist crap was ridiculous. She wasn’t about to phone some random stranger. The site was a waste of her time and just made her feel more pathetic. She was about to shut the browser when an instant message popped up.
Eva’s eyes darted around the office instinctively and she could feel the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand like obedient soldiers to attention.
Julian: A little shy, are we?
Her fingers hovered over her keyboard. She wanted to reply; she just didn’t know what to say, or who she was saying it to.
Julian: Would you like my help?
Eva135: Do you always ask so many questions?
Eva135: I’ve only asked one.
Julian: Are there more you would like to ask?
Eva pushed her chair back from her desk and tapped her pen on her knee. Well, of course, she had questions. She had loads. Did this guy just wait around all day for women to click on his website? Who was he? How in the hell did someone become an escort? Why in the hell did someone become an escort?
Eva135: Okay. What’s your name?
Julian: Julian, I thought that was obvious.
Eva rolled her eyes. Even cyber conversation made her look stupid.
Julian: Don’t be greedy, Evangeline. You’ve had your question. It’s my turn. Why do you want an escort?
Eva135: How do you know my name?
Julian: Again, Evangeline, if you would like an answer to your question, you must answer mine first.
Eva stood up. Did he seriously expect an answer? She paced the floor dramatically, drawn back to her screen only by the subtle tone of a new message.
Julian: Are you still there?
Julian: Good. I thought you had run away. Are you going to answer my question?
Eva135: I just answered one of your questions. It’s my turn again. Aren’t those the rules?
Julian: Feisty. I like that. And you understand rules. I like that even more. Okay, Evangeline, let’s play by some rules.
Eva135: How do you know my name?
Julian: Your user name, it’s not hard to work out. Really, Evangeline. I find it hard to believe you don’t have a better question than that. I like you so I’m going to let you take another turn.
Eva135: Isn’t that against the rules?
Julian: My game, my rules. You’ve just used another question. It’s my turn.
Eva poked herself in the knee with her pen. Damn, he was good at this. But she had studied psychology for three years, there was no way she was going to let him beat her. She was ready to up her game.
Eva135: Okay, Julian. Your question.
Julian: Why do you want an escort?
Eva135: I don’t know if I do…