Beautiful Illusions Duet Bundle: Eighty-One Nights and Beautiful Ever After, Page 1Georgia Cates
Beautiful Illusions Duet Bundle
Eighty-One Nights & Beautiful Ever After
Georgia Cates Books, LLC
Copyright © 2020 Georgia Cates Books, LLC
All rights reserved.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Formatting by Jeff Senter of Indie Formatting Services
Cover design by Georgia Cates
Note from Georgia
I. Eighty-One Nights
1. Caitriona Louden
2. Maxwell Hutcheson
3. Caitriona Louden
4. Maxwell Hutcheson
5. Caitriona Louden
6. Maxwell Hutcheson
7. Caitriona Louden
8. Maxwell Hutcheson
9. Caitriona Louden
10. Maxwell Hutcheson
11. Caitriona Louden
12. Maxwell Hutcheson
13. Caitriona Louden
14. Maxwell Hutcheson
15. Caitriona Louden
16. Maxwell Hutcheson
17. Caitriona Louden
18. Maxwell Hutcheson
19. Caitriona Louden
20. Maxwell Hutcheson
21. Caitriona Louden
22. Maxwell Hutcheson
23. Caitriona Louden
24. Maxwell Hutcheson
25. Caitriona Louden
26. Maxwell Hutcheson
27. Caitriona Louden
28. Maxwell Hutcheson
29. Caitriona Louden
30. Maxwell Hutcheson
31. Caitriona Louden
32. Maxwell Hutcheson
33. Caitriona Louden
34. Maxwell Hutcheson
35. Caitriona Louden
36. Maxwell Hutcheson
37. Caitriona Louden
II. Beautiful Ever After
38. Maxwell Hutcheson
39. Caitriona Louden
40. Maxwell Hutcheson
41. Caitriona Louden
42. Maxwell Hutcheson
43. Caitriona Louden
44. Maxwell Hutcheson
45. Caitriona Louden
46. Maxwell Hutcheson
47. Caitriona Louden
48. Maxwell Hutcheson
49. Caitriona Louden
50. Maxwell Hutcheson
51. Caitriona Louden
52. Maxwell Hutcheson
53. Caitriona Louden
54. Maxwell Hutcheson
55. Caitriona Hutcheson
56. Maxwell Hutcheson
57. Caitriona Hutcheson
58. Maxwell Hutcheson
59. Caitriona Hutcheson
60. Maxwell Hutcheson
61. Caitriona Hutcheson
62. Maxwell Hutcheson
63. Caitriona Hutcheson
64. Maxwell Hutcheson
65. Caitriona Hutcheson
66. Maxwell Hutcheson
67. Caitriona Hutcheson
68. Maxwell Hutcheson
69. Caitriona Hutcheson
Excerpt - A Necessary Sin
About the Author
Also by Georgia Cates
Note from Georgia
The idea behind Eighty-One Nights and Beautiful Ever After is unlike anything I've ever done before. Here's how– I LOVE The Beauty Series, The Sin Trilogy and its spin-offs, Dear Agony, and Indulge. I wanted to take my favorite parts and elements of each series and infuse them into one story with new characters and plot. THE BEAUTIFUL ILLUSIONS Duet is the result.
Yes, you will see familiar elements, ideas, and scenes from my previous releases. You'll even see some mentions and brief appearances from characters you loved in my other series. How? You'll have to read the duet to find out how I pulled that one off.
Thank you in advance for reading The Beautiful Illusions Duet. I hope you love it as much as I do. I would be honored if you choose to leave a review.
I hate math.
Column one is my net income. Column two is my half of the rent, general expenses, tuition, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Column two exceeds column one. It exceeds it by a lot.
Dammit, I’m going to have to unfasten an extra button on my blouse to get better tips at the bar.
Rachel, my roommate and BFF, comes through the door, her arms weighted down by shopping bags. It’s not the first time this week. Hell, it’s not even the second time.
“Another shopping spree?” My comment comes off a little bitchier than intended.
She drops all of the shopping bags on the floor. “Ohhh, Cait. I have something grand to show you.”
She rummages through the bags, removing a shoebox. She takes out a Christian Louboutin pump and holds it up. Wow, it’s the real deal. There’s no mistaking that with the signature red leather outsole. And the bottom is completely unscathed, meaning that these shoes didn’t come from a consignment shop or thrift store.
“They’re to die for, aye?”
Black paisley lace. Peep toe. Black leather trim. They could possibly be the most gorgeous shoes that I’ve ever seen. “They’re stunners for sure.”
She slips her feet into them and stretches one leg outward, admiring the way it looks on her foot. “I’m so in love with them.”
Christian Louboutin shoes today. Louis Vuitton handbag and Clive Christian perfume three days ago. Unless Rachel has a long-lost aunt who died and left her a fortune, she can’t possibly afford luxury brands like these. “How are you paying for all of these things you’re buying?”
She stands tall and places her hands on her hips. “I have this month’s rent if that’s what you’re getting at.”
I’ve clearly pissed her off, but I think that my concern is a legitimate one. “I’m not implying that you’d stiff me on the rent. It’s just that these shopping sprees are expensive. Very expensive. And I’m wondering how you’re paying for them.”
“In case you forgot, I have a job.”
We have the same job. I know how much money she makes. “Waitresses at The Last Drop can’t afford Christian Louboutin and Louis Vuitton and Clive Christian.”
She takes off the shoes and stuffs them back into their box. “Don’t worry about how I’m paying. I’ve got it covered, and that’s all you need to know.”
Rachel doesn’t talk to me like this. Ever. Not even when she’s angry with me. I don’t care for it at all.
“I don’t want you to get yourself into financial trouble because you had a weak moment and charged some things you can’t afford.”
“I didn’t charge anything.�
None of this makes sense. “Some months we are literally scraping together every pound that we have to make rent.”
“It’s okay. I got a second job.”
She hasn’t mentioned a word about another job. “Where at? And when do you go to this job?”
Rachel inhales deeply and her cheeks expand when she exhales. “You can’t judge, and you can’t jump to conclusions when I tell you.”
“I don’t like the sound of that at all.”
“I’m serious, Cait. You know that you can be judgy.”
Okay. I admit that I’m a little critical at times but only because Rachel has a spectacular talent for making really dumb decisions. “I won’t judge.” Maybe, depending upon how bad it is.
“A fancy businesswoman came into The Last Drop a few months ago. When she got up to leave, she handed a small envelope to me. There was £200 inside along with a business card.”
“Two hundred pounds?” Holy shit.
“The card was for a business called Inamorata.”
Inamorata. “I’ve never heard of that.”
“Me either, but I called her because I was dying to know more. She refused to discuss anything over the phone, which I thought was a wee bit weird at the time, but I was too intrigued to question it.”
I can see that. I’m sucked into the mystery of it right now.
“We met for dinner in Old Town at a swanky restaurant by the castle. We had a few drinks, enough that I was feeling pretty damn good, and she began to explain what her company is about. She calls herself a chatelaine.”
Maybe I’m just a dumbass American, but I’ve never heard of that. “What is a chatelaine?”
“Sounds fancy, right? By definition, it’s a mistress of a household or large establishment. Cora’s organization, Inamorata, is a business that introduces women and men.”
“Inamorata is a dating service?”
“Sort of.” Rachel bites her bottom lip and squeezes one of her eyes together, peeking at me through the open one. “But not really.”
That face. I know it well and it’s never good when it makes an appearance. “Sort of but not really means what exactly?”
“Cora is a businesswoman, a very savvy one who has made a career out of connecting people—very successful men and attractive women—for mutually beneficial relationships.”
Ah, the pieces are coming together now. “Sounds like a fancy way of saying that she’s a madam.”
“I’m not saying that sex isn’t an offered service at Inamorata. It definitely is, but a large portion of the connections are for companionship-only, without sex.”
“Men are men and I understand what drives them to buy sex, but I’m not sure that I understand why they’d pay for a woman’s company when that’s all they’ll be getting.”
“You’d be surprised by how many men want a woman’s company without sex.”
Money seems like an unnecessary part of the equation. “Why not ask a woman out on a date then?”
“Some of the men are too shy or intimidated to approach a beautiful woman. They may be widowed and want company for a single evening without the complications of going out on a real date. They all have different motives for booking an inamorata. No single reason fits all of them.”
“Are they looking for girlfriends or wives?”
“I guess some are, but most are only interested in readily available women for a set duration. And they don’t care about the price tag.”
“What kind of money are we talking about?”
“I make £200 an hour.”
“Holy shit, Rachel.”
“My pay scale is at the bottom because I’m companionship-only. The girls who have sex make around £400 an hour.”
These women are making bank, sex or not. “Why would any man fork over that kind of money when he could get laid by a regular prostitute for so much cheaper?”
“Inamorata clients don’t book dates because they want a quick shag. They want the whole package: beauty, brains, intelligent conversation, arm candy they can take out in public or to a corporate event.”
“If these women are so beautiful and intelligent, then why aren’t they doing something else?”
“They all have an end goal but not the money to obtain it. Being an inamorata is a stepping-stone to bridge the gap.”
“Is your chatelaine choosy about who she’ll hire?”
“Very. Every woman brought on board is a huge upfront expense for Cora. She transforms them from head to toe, and it doesn’t stop there. Each woman who represents Inamorata must learn etiquette, be articulate, and have the ability to converse about a wide range of topics.”
Rachel is so well-spoken. I hadn’t noticed that change in her until now.
“Has any woman at Inamorata ever been hurt by a client?”
“Not that I’m aware of, but I assume that it’s happened at some point. Nature of the beast, I guess. We’re obviously at higher risk because we are alone with men whom we don’t know. That’s why we all go through a class and learn how to defend ourselves. I’m confident in my ability to fight off a client if need be.”
“I don’t doubt that for a second, even without a class.” Rachel has three older brothers. She’s a natural-born scrapper.
“You mentioned upfront costs. I assume that Cora is reimbursed for that?”
“Oh yeah. She takes 50 percent of the earnings until her investment is repaid. After that, she takes 25 percent off of the top. But we keep 100 percent of any tips or gifts from a client.”
“What’s a typical tip or gift?”
“Jewelry, designer clothes, handbags, cash. Maybe even a predetermined monthly allowance if it’s an ongoing relationship. Some of the lasses get college tuition.”
Whoa! Someone could pay for my education?
Two more semesters—that’s all I need to earn the credits that I require to graduate with my degree. Where things stand now, I’m going to have to take out a student loan to pay for tuition. Not the end of the world but I’d rather not come out of college with a mountain of debt if I can help it.
Dammit, I can’t believe that my stepmonster talked Dad into cutting me off when I’m only two semesters away from getting my degree. I was so close to living my best life. I could almost taste it.
Heidi loves to watch me bleed. She enjoys holding me down and her latest farce proves it.
God, I hate that woman. And I hate the way she manipulates my dad. Not that he ever won any father-of-the-year awards anyway. He was a deadbeat long before Heidi came along.
“Is Cora looking for more girls?”
“Do you think that she could be interested in a girl like me?”
“Absolutely. You’re already beautiful without any effort at all. I’m happy to put you in touch with her if you like.”
Let’s be brutally honest about this. What I’m contemplating is a form of prostitution, sex or not. It doesn’t matter what kind of label we put on it.
“I can see that you’re hesitant, but she’d never ask you to do anything that you didn’t want to. She’s always looking for companionship-only inamoratas: dinner and drinks and discussion. That’s it.”
I inhale deeply and blow out slowly. “All of this scares me.”
“Talking with Cora isn’t an obligation. It’s only a conversation.”
Only a conversation. It sounds so much more enticing when she puts it like that. “All right. Set it up.”
I’m standing on a platform, the wall in front of me covered with a floor-to-ceiling mirror. I feel like I should be trying on wedding dresses in a bridal boutique, waiting to say yes to the dress so that I can be jacked up with a veil and jewelry.
Cora taps the center of my back directly between my shoulder blades. “Stop slouching.”
She walks down the steps of the platform and looks up at me. “What is your European shoe size?”
“Valerie, bring the seventy-
five-millimeter black peep toes in her size.”
Good Lord. This woman has an assistant for everything, even shoe fetching.
“We’ll begin your stride training with lower heels and work our way up to the higher ones.”
Cora is short like me, but you don’t notice until you look at her tall heels and see that four inches of her height can be attributed to her shoes.
Valerie returns and places the black pumps on the floor in front of me.
“Louboutins.” I didn’t intend for that to come out. And I definitely didn’t mean for it to sound so covetous.
“I understand. You’ve never had shoes like these, but your closet is about to be filled with countless pairs like them along with designer clothing and handbags. You represent Inamorata. You represent me. It’s crucial that you always look your best, but your job right now is to be my student. Listen to me and you’ll learn how to entertain some of the wealthiest and most influential men in Scotland.”