“Maam, I’m extremely sorry, but we really can’t allow you to sit at a table any longer.”

“Please, just like 15 more minutes?”

I felt like I was living out that scene from New Girl, except this time my three guy roommates wouldn’t come in to rescue me. It was mortifying.

The scruffy-haired & likely over-worked waiter looked down at his watch. It was a high-brow establishment; the waiter having a watch didn’t necessarily surprise me.

“Alright maam, but I’m going to need you to order a drink or something at least.”

“Okay, that’s fine,” I responded. “Give me, uh… a vodka tonic. Absolut,” I stuttered, put on the spot. Vodka tonic was my go-to for nicer places, especially clubs, if I wasn’t in a wine mood. They were basically upscale Whiteclaws.

“Sounds good maam, I’ll have that right over for you.”


The waiter started to walk away before turning on his heel and doubling back to me. I had just started to check my phone again before looking up and returning my attention to the waiter.

“May I just see your ID first, maam?”

“Oh yeah, of course,” I replied disinterestedly. I was 25, but I still looked college-aged. Living in a city like Nashville where there were multiple colleges plus a ton of spring-breakers from other schools, getting carded was still a regular occurrence.

I handed the waiter my driver’s license, and he returned it after scanning the plastic card briefly.

“Thank you, and as I said, I’ll be right back with your drink.”

“Thanks,” I replied in kind, resting an elbow on the table (eschewing the etiquette my mom had tried to teach me as a little girl) and opening my phone.

No unread messages.

I set my phone back down. I don’t know why I had expected it to change in the last 5 minutes. My fingers started tapping on the table, fingering the nice linen tablecloth. My heels click-clacked on the quartz floor as my legs started bouncing.

There was an older couple, mid-50s to my left; the woman shot me a side-eye glance. I became more cognizant of the fact that I was jittery. Probably my ADHD acting up again, plus the nerves. God, I needed a drink in me to calm me down.

“How the fuck could he do this again?” I whispered to myself, shaking my head slightly in disbelief. “You’re a fucking moron, Aria, I don’t know why you let yourself put up with this.”

The diamond engagement ring on my left hand glimmered briefly while it caught light, as if it were forcing the situation down my throat.

My fists balled up, partly in rage and partly so I could dig a fingernail into the middle of my palms. My mom’s therapist had taught her that as a way to suppress crying. And I really didn’t want to break down in tears in the middle of a swanky restaurant at 9 pm on a Friday night.

This was not the first time my fiancee Brett had stood me up. His inescapable charm that had me coming back over and over told me it wouldn’t be the last time either.

We’d been together on-and-off at this point for about three years, since senior year of college. He had been at Vandy, and I had met him on a girls trip over to Nashville from UTK during my last semester. He had managed to sneak his claws (and something else) inside me, and here I was, having moved to a new city and uprooted my whole life for him.

That was the way it always was, I was always the one making sacrifices. Never the other way around. I had to come to Nashville, he couldn’t move to Knoxville. I had to get a separate apartment because Brett wasn’t sure he was okay living with someone else. That was our…. third(?) breakup. And I still had to take care of his fucking dogs (at his apartment!) because his consulting job had 70-80 hour work weeks. What the fuck even is consulting?!

Not that I didn’t love his dogs, Mr. Pibb (the corgi) especially. And not that I didn’t love Brett too, for better or worse.

But tonight really pissed me off. I was considering turning it into our sixth breakup, because I was not happy.

“This is bullshit,” I muttered to myself through clenched teeth. “I’m gonna down this drink and fucking hit the town without him.”

The third anniversary of our first date had been two weeks earlier. Brett had to work all that weekend, and then had to fly out to Colorado for some business trip the week after that, so we hadn’t celebrated.

Now I don’t like to think of myself as being particularly basic, or needy; I would consider myself a strong and independent woman (outside of the bedroom). But every girl needs to be pampered and doted on every once in a while. All I wanted was to have him celebrate our anniversary with me and be a cute, normal couple just for a little while. A nice dinner, have a fun night on Broadway, maybe walk by the river or go somewhere with a nice view, and end the night alone together at his apartment. Is that too much to ask for?

But here I was, sitting alone at a restaurant I certainly couldn’t afford on my kindergarten teacher’s salary, with radio silence from him.

“They fucked up the reservation, but I should have a table in like 10-15,” was the last thing I had texted him.

Read 7:45 PM.”

I’d been sitting here for an hour with nothing but my own sorrow to keep me company at my pity party. Not even a drink yet, let alone a knight in shining armor.

“Hey, so sorry for the big mixup.”

My head shot up, ready for my night to be saved.

Looking back at me and settling into the chair across was a dashing 20-something man I’d never seen before in my life.

“It’s Adria, right?” he quickly asked, reading the confusion and slight discomfort on my face.

“Uhh, Aria, actually,” I responded. How did he know (or almost know) my name? Was something else weird going on or had Brett sent this random dude without communicating at all?

“Oh, Aria. I’m so sorry, my apologies,” he quickly replied. The man was impeccably well-dressed, with a white pocket square and tie bar and everything. His navy blue suit looked like it was probably tailored, and appeared to be very well-made. He looked a lot like some of the people Brett worked with.

His light-brown hair was rather long, hanging down beneath his ears in the back, and styled back. Stubble adorned his face, a fair bit denser than a 5 o’clock shadow; he clearly could grow a full beard but was keeping it trimmed. He had striking blue eyes, and a strong jaw line, with more rounded-out cheeks. He reminded me quite a bit of Hangover-era Bradley Cooper honestly. I couldn’t deny he was very attractive, if very frat-douchey. Not that I would ever really look at guys besides my fiancee like that.

“No, you’re fine,” I continued politely. I wasn’t sure if I should ask the man who he was; I didn’t know if that would be rude.

But I didn’t really feel like playing any games right now.

“Forgive me please, but do I know you?” I asked, trying to be as decorous as possible.

“Oh, it’s Shane,” he said, taking his turn to look slightly taken-aback. “I’m, uhh,” he cleared his throat and lowered his voice. “I’m your client for tonight.”

“Client?” I repeated. Wheels had started turning in my head. The fancy restaurant. The very rich and suave-looking man. Client.

“Uhh yeah, I figured the escort service would have let you know?”

Escort service. My suspicions had been confirmed. My heart fluttered in my chest. How had I gotten confused for an escort? He had gotten my name a little wrong when he came up to me; it must have just been a big misunderstanding. I would just clear it up with him. It was a little exciting and thrilling though, not to mention complimentary (this man clearly was going for the very high-class ladies of the night, so if I was looking stunning and done-up enough to pass as one, I was taking very high praise from that).

“Oh, umm, I think there was a bit of a mistake.”

“Yeah I know, I realized I had given your company the wrong restaurant. I wasn’t sure if they had let you know in time after I contacted them to fix the mistake, but here you are, ahead of me actually.”

It clearly was just a massive coincidence. I had ended up at the same restaurant that he was supposed to meet his escort at, and apparently looked somewhat like her and had a similar enough name that he had gotten confused. I scanned the room quickly and couldn’t see anyone else remotely similar in appearance to me (or who stood out as looking like an escort), so if I had to guess, his actual date hadn’t ever gotten the right place to meet.

Which meant that if I went along with the charade, there was nothing to stop me.

“Oh no Aria,” I immediately thought. That was a dangerous idea. I couldn’t do that. That would end in nothing but disaster.

“Yeah it ended up working out I guess,” I chuckled. Shit! I was playing into it. And I felt a little rush of adrenaline going through me. It was exciting, imagining myself as an escort. Going out to insanely nice restaurants and clubs, having it all paid for. Meeting new and interesting guys, getting to have sex, and being paid for it. God, that was an exciting life. And maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I dipped my toe into it. It was an entirely honest mistake, after all….

No! I couldn’t do it. I was fucking engaged! What was I even thinking? No matter how badly I wanted to get back at Brett, no matter how much I had been cursing his name 5 minutes earlier, I couldn’t do anything near what I was considering doing. It was terrible.

“I love that dress on you by the way,” Shane complimented. “I knew that color would look great when I requested it.”

Oh great, so I even managed to be wearing the same color dress that he had wanted. What next, the same earrings??

“And the little hoops go fantastic with it too, my favorite.”

Fucking Christ, you had to be kidding me. This was a sign from God, or fate or whatever at this point. Something was pushing me into this. The biggest set of coincidences in my life had added up to this, and now I was in danger of getting swept away with the tide.

Who are you to fight fate? It’s clearly meant to be?

God, I almost hated that little part of me that was egging me on. That little part of me that was sending adrenaline through my body, making my heart pound in my chest, and my pussy burn with intense passion. Fuck!

“Oh thank you haha!” I charmed. “I figured I’d look my best for you tonight.”

What were these words coming out of my mouth? 2 minutes ago I was trying to end this mix-up. Now I was unconsciously playing into it, forcing it along. What was I doing?

You’re stopping being the one who always makes the sacrifices. You’re doing what excites you, what you actually want to do, for the first time. My own brain was working against me. Although the resisting “me” that it was working against was slowly being pushed into the background.

“Well you certainly do look stunning. I couldn’t have pictured it any better,” Shane re-iterated his compliment.

I blushed.

No! Fucking stop it, don’t give in! Even if he’s charming and it feels nice when he compliments you! You can’t do this, you’re engaged.

Even the dissenting part of me couldn’t deny that what Shane had said was right, even if I hadn’t originally dressed up for him.

The halter-top white dress I was in was rather low-cut, with a dipping v-neckline that came down more than deep enough to show off both copious amounts of cleavage and also my lack of a bra. The tight, sheer fabric hugged my curves and accentuated my small but perky B-cup boobs, with the inner swells of my breasts very plainly visible with the cut of the dress.

The sides of my backless dress were rather skimpy as well, showing off quite a bit of side boob and my ribcage, plus the tattoo of seven small doves that wrapped from just underneath my right breast around my side to the bottom of my shoulder blade. The dress flared out a little bit more conservatively around my hips before coming together just above my butt in the back. The bottom tapered to an end around mid-thigh, and had ridden up a little bit as I remained seated.

The tight fabric fit snugly on my athletic, lithe body. I liked to do yoga and spin for my own health (and to keep up some of the shape I was in playing field hockey and lacrosse in high school), but the added benefits of a toned, fit build were always appreciated by my fiancee, and other oglers. A pair of black four-inch stilettos and my small black purse completed the ensemble.

I certainly had not left much to the imagination, but just enough to maintain the tease. I had been trying to look like as much of a bombshell as I could for my fiancee, which of course had now served an entirely different purpose as well. With my makeup and hair touched up perfectly, I was dressed to kill.

“So you’re saying you’d been picturing me before?” I played back into Shane’s compliment. God, I was even flirting with him. My crotch burned a little more intensely. Fuck!

“I mean, a woman as gorgeous as you? And all mine? How could I not let my imagination wander a bit?”

“Well,” I leaned in a little closer and lowered my voice, trying to draw him in. “I don’t think you’re going to need your imagination after tonight.”

Oh, my, fucking Christ, Aria. I couldn’t stop myself. Taking on this role was, dare I say, fun! It felt almost like I was living out a bit of a deep-seated fantasy of mine. To actually be the one in control. Not to be the one making sacrifices and always trying to please, but having someone else wrapped around my finger for once. It was invigorating.

“You certainly are something else,” Shane chuckled. “I’d like to get to know you a little more, do you mind if I buy you a drink?”

As if perfectly on cue, my original waiter returned.

“Vodka tonic, as requested, maam. And I see your partner has arrived.”

“Thank you,” I kindly responded as he set my drink down in front of me.

“Oh, you already ordered one! I’ll take a Jameson, neat, as well if you don’t mind,” Shane said to the waiter.

“Of course sir, I’ll have that for you right away.” He scurried away just as quickly as he had entered.

“Vodka tonic,” Shane observed as I took my first sip of the drink. Maybe alcohol would bring some sense into me. Because that’s what alcohol normally does of course, make you more rational and less adventurous than before…. I still couldn’t believe I was doing this.

“That’s an excellent choice,” he continued.

“Oh, thank you,” I smiled. “It’s always my go-to for places like this. Makes me seem more posh than I probably am.”

“I’m sure that’s not true. You look like the spitting image of sophistication and class,” he flattered as his eyes scanned my body once again, taking in every inch of exposed skin and curves.

Shane’s eyes settled briefly on my left forearm and I looked down to match his gaze. My other tattoo was a little less poetic than the flock of doves: “bad bitch” in fancy cursive script along the length of my inner forearm.

“Except for that, I imagine,” I joked. “Result of a very, very drunk night and a rebellious streak in college.”

“Hey, that’s what college is all about though, am I right?” Shane played back. “Making rash decisions that’ll stay with you for the rest of your life and enjoying every step of the way.”

“Hmm yes, I’m sure that was your experience,” I remarked, downing another sip of vodka. “I didn’t exactly enjoy every step of college.”

“Oh where did you go?” Shane inquired.

“UTK,” I answered. “I’m originally from East Tennessee anyway, so when I moved here cus of my fiancee it was actually the furthest I’d ever lived from home.”

“Fiancee?” Shane inquired, a little surprised.

Oh fuck, I hadn’t even realized I’d slipped up as the words came out of my mouth. Quick, I had to fix it!

“Uhh, ex-fiancee,” I lied. “Real prick sometimes,” I didn’t lie.

“Well, sounds like an absolute asshole if he couldn’t appreciate you,” Shane flattered. “An offense like that should be criminal.”

“Try telling him that!”

Our conversation was cut off as the waiter returned to drop off Shane’s drink, much more expeditiously than mine had arrived. Talk about misogyny.

“Well, bottoms up. To absolute assholes,” Shane toasted, and we clinked our glasses. I threw my drink back and took a hearty swig while he took a brief sip of his whiskey, savoring the refined taste like a gentleman.

To my slight surprise, Shane did genuinely want to get to know me. We sat and talked for quite a while as we both just enjoyed our drinks and each other’s company. I would’ve totally forgotten I was playing a role as an escort if not for the occasional part of my backstory that I had to fib about (like saying I started out by stripping to pay my way through college and then escalating from there; in reality I got lucky with scholarships and in-state tuition).

Shane was a true gentleman through it all, listening to my life story, asking me about myself and getting to know me on a personal level. He was incredibly kind and thoughtful, and the type of person that I actually would’ve liked to be friends with.

He himself was 29, and had actually graduated university my freshman year. He was originally from just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, coincidentally only about fifteen minutes east from where one of my aunts lived. She and his parents went to the same Presbyterian church.

He had gone to Michigan for undergrad, and then switched to Vandy for their graduate business school. For a sec I was terrified that he might know Brett, but I did a little inconspicuous prying and discerned that they wouldn’t have ever been around each other.

After school he went to work in finance for a bigger company; he went into a little detail about what he did but I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. My teacher’s education only went so far.

What I could tell from what he was saying was that he was absolutely filthy rich. Like Brett was pretty wealthy, his apartment was quite nice and he could always afford to spoil me a little (and wrap his apologies in a pretty bow).

But Shane was apparently on another level of loaded. He didn’t seem to want to talk about his family that much; I wasn’t sure if it was a touchy subject or strained relationship or something, but from the little he did say, it was clear that he didn’t have to be working a high-paying job in finance if he didn’t want to. Shit, he didn’t have to work at all if he didn’t want to.

The expensive restaurant, gorgeous suit, and otherwise perfectly-refined look made sense. I couldn’t even imagine his car, or apartment. I wondered if I’d get to see it. If I’d actually be willing to take things that far.

We continued chatting, about life in general, how teachers were underpaid, and the Titans season. Shane was a Lions fan, so naturally I knew he was a masochist.

I had become so embroiled in our conversation that I had lost track of time and everything else. Before I even knew it, somehow nearly two hours had flown by, I had downed two more drinks, and we’d split both an entree and dessert.