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Her nerves frayed from their seams the moment the taxi exited the driveway of the mansion, leaving her alone at the bottom of the steps. Samantha Knight swallowed hard, nervously trying to tame the wild gallops of her heart. The mansion looked forbiddingly opulent, like the French chÃ¢teau she had seen in the travel books about Europe. Grand and dark. Screaming old money. Dark ivy vines climbed the walls, giving the illusion this place had been around for more than a few decades. But everything seemed to be in pristine condition. There were multi-car garages on the side. A tennis court. An Olympic-size swimming pool. Separated guesthouse. Gated entrance.
Her gaze drifted upwards.
The mansion even had its own freaking turrets. Sam could have imagined Rapunzel looking down from one of the arched windows, her long, golden braid cascading between the climbing roses, waiting for her knight in shining armour to save her.
She shook off her wild imagination.
Here we go.
Sam took a deep breath and hoisted her luggage up the three dozen steps to the magnificent entrance. She stopped and searched for a doorbell. She didn't find one. Instead, she found a sophisticated intercom box mounted on the wall. A security camera perched strategically above it was undoubtedly recording her every move. Sam blinked.
Great. Big mansion. Tight security. Playground for the rich.
The butterflies in her stomach wouldn't go away, no matter how hard she tried to calm down. This mansion would be her home for the next four weeks, where she would earn her money as a plaything for some rich businessmen.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed the intercom button. A mellifluous, cultured man's voice with a James Bond type of accent seeped from the black rectangular box.
"May I help you?"
"My name is Samantha Knight. I believe Mr Hauser is expecting me."
"He is. He'll be with you in a moment, Ms Knight."
She became more nervous after talking to whoever that man was. Adam Hauser was expecting her. They were expecting her. Her new employers. She had no idea what they looked like, since the arrangement had been made by their representative, a woman named Mathilda Reyes. Reyes was the one who had interviewed her in her Chicago office. The whole hiring process was more complicated than applying for a Federal job. She'd even had to go through a thorough physical exam by Reyes' appointed ob-gyn doctor before she could officially get the gig.
Actually, Sam was surprised she'd got the job in the first place. Misfortune always came in threes. She had been laid off from the food-processing factory she'd worked in since she'd graduated from high school. And then the divorce. Then, the bank had hit her with the foreclosure notice. She had been scrambling for a new job when she'd spotted an ad in the local newspaper. At first, she'd thought it was nothing but a joke. In this time and age, who would be desperate enough to want to pay someone to sleep with them for a hundred grand? That was a lot of freaking money. Feeling that she had nothing to lose, Sam had called the number on the advertisement. Reyes had answered her. The call had turned into an invitation for interview—well, several interviews-conducted in Reyes' luxurious downtown office. It had ended up with her being hired. She'd signed a bunch of papers, mostly contracts and waivers, and at the weekend, Reyes had sent a taxi to collect her. Sam'd had no idea the taxi would take her to Aspen, Colorado.
Seconds passed by. Her heart pounded fast.
Sam couldn't figure out why Reyes had decided to hire her. Sam had been told that Reyes' bosses were pleased with her appearance. They had taken pictures and videos during the interviews. If Reyes' bosses were really wealthy businessmen like they claimed, why didn't they just hire a professional call girl to do the job? Sam thought beauty wasn't her best attribute. Maybe she had been pretty in her teens. Slender body. Smooth skin. Glossy hair. But seven years of marriage to Jared Knight had changed all of that. She'd put on a few pounds and had neglected her looks. Beauty cost money and she didn't have any to spare. Jared had been nothing but a cheating bastard who was allergic to hard labour, leaving her to shoulder the entire financial burden. During her ride to Colorado, she had been musing that perhaps these hotshots wanted somebody plain and inexperienced just for the sake of fun. Maybe they were bored of the tall, pretty blondes they could easily get with their wealth and power. Maybe they wanted to try the lower-class-housewife type.