TEMPTATION AND FREEDOM. You might not find any relation between those two concepts, but in my world, they go hand-in-hand. In my world, we’ve discovered a way to market temptation, and freedom is calculated and strategized.
In my world, we sell both.
We’re known as the Eves, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the woman who had the temptation thing down. You won’t hear about us in the news, or on the streets, or in the papers. Your best friend’s cousin didn’t grow up with one of us, and we weren’t in the same sorority as you.
We’re the hiccups in society. We’re women without names. Our fingerprints can’t be traced. We’re invisible.
How do we do this?
We hide in plain sight.
You might pass us every single day. You might serve us our morning coffee or fit us for a cocktail dress. You might swipe our membership card at the gym or wax our most private of parts.
You might think you can read me like a book, but you’d be as wrong as everyone before you who tried.
Eves don’t do personal. We don’t do happy hours, book clubs, or girls’ nights. We don’t rent apartments. We don’t keep a P.O. Box. We never get put on a case where our old acquaintances might be. We cut off all ties with our past. We don’t do boyfriends, boy-toys, or one-night stands.
I deal in one thing and one thing only. It consumes my life. It consumes me.
I generate temptation in order to impart freedom.
A freedom I was denied.
How do I manipulate the temptation/freedom equation?
I pluck the apple from the tree.
In twenty-first century terms?
Yes, I know that right after the word adultery, infidelity is one of the most controversial and hated words. Just thinking about it can make a woman squirm in her seat. But if you remove all the emotion and bias, it’s nothing more than a word. The act behind that word is something else entirely. It can be unplanned, spontaneous, unintentional, or in my case, calculated.
We’re not a charity, and we don’t work pro bono. We charge a pretty penny, but I haven’t run across a Client yet who didn’t think the service we provide was worth every cent. Before anyone goes and calls the women’s movement on us, hear me out. It isn’t the men we’re benefitting with the service we provide. It’s the women. The wives, specifically.
Our Clients are the women who fell in love with a man with enough dollar signs behind his name to require a pre-nuptial agreement. That same woman who, months or years later, finds her beloved husband isn’t the loving, honest, and faithful person she’d hoped (perhaps, naively) he’d be. That same woman who would come out on the other end of a divorce with nothing. Not one damn dime because she fell in love, signed her name on some document, and the mister with a wandering eye and dick couldn’t keep either to himself.
That is where the Eves come in. That is where I come in. It’s what I know. It’s what I’m good at. And it’s what’s going to pave the road for my own freedom.
I’m in the business of great exploitations.
IF I HAD a dollar for every time the Meet took place at some posh, upper-crust spa, I could have made a down payment on the BMW 640 convertible I was zipping around in. Of course, with the balance in my international bank account, I could have purchased it outright, along with a dozen of its luxury counterparts. Even if I wanted to own the flashy, sex-on-wheels car I was cruising in, buying it was out of the question.
Car ownership meant titles, which meant personal information.
The car belongs to G. I think. G’s the top-dog. She’s the president, CEO, gate-keeper, and founder of the Eves. She discovered each of us, recruited us, and went on to train us. She gives us our marching orders and monitors us. We report back to her. Basically, she’s the almighty, omniscient, in G we trust. I don’t know what G stands for, or if it stands for anything, but I like to think of it as being short for The Godmother.
She watches over all of us, making sure our needs are met, but don’t piss her off unless you want to find a horse head between your sheets. I’ve followed that rule from day one, and it hasn’t yet steered me wrong.
G found me five years ago. Alone. Scared. Close to rock bottom. She picked me up, made me dust myself off, and trained me to be one of the most successful Eves in her little black book.
She’d never admit it, but I knew I was one of her favorites. She reluctantly dotes on me—that’s why I got the Miami case when it came up. She knows I’m a sucker for warm weather and white-sand beaches. After my four-week stint in Lansing during a particularly harsh winter, I needed a trip south. I felt the heat and humidity soothing my skin even inside of the car. I’d never taken longer than a month to finish a job, but I wouldn’t have minded if this one ran longer.
When I pulled up to the spa where I was meeting the Client, the only parking option was valet. A super posh spa was to be expected when the Client’s an Eight. After a string of Sevens, it was about goddamned time I got an Eight.
Errands were named after the number of digits in the bank account involved in the Errand, or in laymen’s terms, job. If you were to look up the definition of errand—a short journey undertaken in order to deliver or collect something, often on someone else’s behalf—that’s pretty much the exact definition of what we do.
A Seven Errand is basically a dime a dozen, Eights crop up a few times a year, and a Nine is practically unheard of. The last Nine one of the Eves worked was over three years earlier.
And Tens . . . well, they’re completely unheard of. Tens are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that’s always just out of reach. If I landed myself a Ten job, I’d be set. My retirement fund would be fully funded, and I’d be out. I’d be free.
A Ten would mean a fifty million payout. A twenty-five million take-home for the Eve and the other twenty-five to G and the “business.”
After working so many Sevens with a five-hundred-K fifty-fifty split, I was ready for something big. However, one doesn’t simply stumble upon a Ten. Tens don’t fall into your lap. Plus, I never knew what my next job would be. Maybe after wrapping up the Eight up for a one million fifty-fifty split, G would have a nice, fat Nine she’d be willing to send my way.
But it wasn’t time to dream of Nines and Tens. It was time to kick-start an Eight. Game time.
The valet who loped up to my car when I stopped in front of the spa doors flashed me a smile. I moved my sunglasses back onto my head, grabbed my purse, and slid out of my seat when he opened the door.
His smile shifted higher on one side. “Hello, ma’am.”
“Good morning.” I returned his smile with a small one of my own. He had a case of the ogly eyes, a PG way of saying something about me made his dick twitch. I was trained to notice those kinds of things—it was what made me good at my job—but this cute young man wasn’t the one whose dick I needed to get to do anything.
I handed him a twenty, grabbed my briefcase, and started for the spa entrance.
“I get off at three,” he said after me, confidence oozing from his tone.
When I glanced back at him, his expression was as confident as his voice . . . and I got it. I got where that confidence came from. He was good-looking, built, and had a killer smile. Women rarely turned him down. He was confident and obviously unused to rejection. Basically, he was the young, poor, valet version of what I deal with every day. He couldn’t be much younger than I was, but when I looked in his eyes, I felt old.
Old enough to be his great-great grandmother. So I looked away.
“And I get off on something else entirely,” I replied before whisking through the revolving doors.
I didn’t look back; I never did. Even if I had wanted to let that boy bend me over the hood of my car, that went against the rules. My body wasn’t my own to do whatever I wanted with it. It was on lease to the Eves until the day I retired or, lord forbid, the day I was disavowed.
I’d only known of one Eve to have been disavowed. She was found dead in a back alley a week later. I didn’t believe in coincidences, that one, which G assured me was one, included.
I shook off all thoughts of disavowing and back alleys as I meandered inside. The spa didn’t even try to be understated. From the floors, to the lighting, to the large, counter-shaped aquarium of a front desk, everything was ostentatious. I guessed if you would pay five bills for an eyebrow waxing or fifteen for a seaweed and gold dust body wrap, ostentatious was the theme of the whole shebang.
“Namaste,” the woman in a red silk kimono said as I approached the aquarium-slash-counter.
Even the greeting was ostentatious. Or was it more pretentious? It was something ‘tious.
“Howdy-do,” I said, just because I couldn’t resist.
“Did you have an appointment?” From her tone, she sounded as though she’d wound those chopsticks into her bun a bit too tightly.
“I’m meeting Mrs. Silva.” I wished I had a piece of bubble gum I could pop in my mouth just so I could chomp it loudly in her face.
The woman pursed her lips and scrolled through the tablet in her hands. “She should have just finished up her European facial, so she’ll be in the waxing wing.”
I didn’t even hide my smile. The place had a waxing wing.
They took hair removal seriously.
“Is there a room number I should be on the lookout for? Maybe a map and compass you could loan me in case I get lost?” I usually tried to stay professional when I was “on the clock,” but this chick was too much fun.
If lips could get more pursed, I’d never seen it. “Right this way,” she said, whisking out from behind the counter.
I followed that fury of red silk to, indeed, the waxing wing. From the size of the spa, they probably had wings for everything else, too.
When she stopped outside of a door, she knocked once, then opened the door a crack. “Your guest has arrived, Mrs. Silva. Would you like to see her now or would you like me to have her wait in the visitor’s lounge?” I didn’t need two guesses to know where red-silk-kimono wanted to put me.
“Send her in,” a soft voice replied. I’d never spoken with Mrs. Silva, but her voice sounded exactly like the rest of my Clients at their Meet: shaky, hesitant, a shade below scared-shitless. That was good. I’d be worried if I ever met a confident Client.
The woman opened the door farther and gave me a Fine look before stepping aside.
I gave her an overdone smile as I slipped inside. “Namaste.”
That Fine look flew five rungs up to an impressive Fuck you.
Pissing off stick-up-their-ass bitches = perk of the job.
After slipping inside, I closed the door. Mrs. Silva was reclined on a table and mid-wince. I wasn’t sure if that was due to me or the waxer about to rip a strip from her calf.
The woman tore that strip off, and Mrs. Silva flinched. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d flinched over a waxing. I barely blinked when the final strip of my last Brazilian was torn off.
“Hello, Mrs. Silva,” I said formally. “It’s nice to meet you.” I gave the waxer, who was busy preparing another strip, a purposeful look.