Sex can be a dangerous business. So can love.
On the worst day of his life, Wren Gallagher wants oblivion when he steps into Tricks for a drink. When a mysterious stranger steps up to pay his tab, he offers Wren the key to fulfilling his dreams of prosperity and true love.
But appearances are not always what they seem.
His savior owns the escort agency À Louer, and he wants the young and handsome Wren as part of his stable of men-for-hire. Down on his luck, Wren figures, why not? He needs the money. When he joins, though, he doesn't count on meeting Rufus, another escort with whom he falls hopelessly in love.
But their love story will have to overcome the obstacles of not only trading love for money, but À Louer's dark -- and deadly -- secrets.
Finally Wren regarded Rufus, wondering if, like everything else before his disbelieving eyes at the moment, he was yet another figment of his imagination. Surely Wren would awaken behind Ann Sather's restaurant, snoozing near a dumpster, with a rat skittering across his calves.
But Rufus seemed real enough, grinning back at him tentatively. There was something in that grin that immediately warmed Wren, made him feel right at home. It wasn't just that the face behind the grin was so handsome. There was something in it that Wren couldn't quite put his finger on. Was it kindness? Empathy? Whatever it was, it caused Wren's heart to speed up just a bit.
"How'd you get so cute?"
Rufus finally broke the silence. Wren could have easily fired back the same question. Rufus was what his mother would have called a "doll." He stood a few inches taller than Wren, maybe six one or six two, and his head was topped with a thatch of wheat-colored hair that fell fetchingly across his forehead, every so often blocking the view of one of his startlingly dark blue eyes. The color reminded Wren of sapphires. He had pale skin, a lanky frame -- that promised, Wren knew from past experience, a big dick -- and a dusting of pale hair on his chin and upper lip that served to make him only look more masculine and sexy.
"Vitamins. Clean living," Wren responded.
Rufus laughed at that and flopped down on one of the beds. "Then you'd probably get all bent out of shape if I lit up a smoke?"
"I thought Dave forbade smoking up here?" Wren was itching for a cigarette himself, since he hadn't had one since he left Devin's apartment early that morning, what now seemed like a lifetime ago.
Rufus pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights -- Wren's brand -- and tossed the hard pack in the air.
"Dude cannot expect us to go down twenty-five stories just so we can indulge our habit. Jesus. That's a little extreme. You know what I mean?"
"I know, but he'd have a shit fit if he comes back in here and the place reeks of smoke." Wren went over to the wall of windows and examined them. They seemed to be sealed shut. There was no indication anywhere that they could be opened.
"What's he gonna do? Fire us? He needs our sweet young asses more than we need him. Right?"
Wren walked over to Rufus and took the pack of smokes from his fidgeting hands.
"Why don't we save these for later? We'll walk down to the lakefront."
Rufus let it go, sighing. "What are you, his enforcer?"
Wren sat down next to him on the bed. He felt an almost irresistible urge to touch Rufus, to kiss his full lips. He had a powerful sensuality about him that Wren doubted he was even aware of, which made the allure that much more compelling and magnetic. "Not at all, man. I just agreed to this gig this morning."
"Really? New blood? Where did he find you?"
"Tricks. The bar on Halsted?"
"What were you? A dancer?"
Wren laughed, shaking his head. The idea of him dancing was preposterous. Yet, wait a minute, here he was, getting ready to peddle his ass for money. Not so preposterous after all.
"Nah. I just bumped into Dave there and we got to talking. Purely a coincidence."
"Nothing is a coincidence with Chillingsworth. He pegged you early on."
"Pegged me as what?"
Rufus grinned, easing some of the stress of his words. "Not every dude is cut out for this line of work. Dave prides himself on being able to spot the ones who can do it, who can bring in the cash." Rufus leveled his gaze on Wren, appraising. "You he picked because of your vulnerability. There are so many daddies who will just eat up that innocent look in your eyes. I can see what old Dave saw in you."
Wren scratched the back of his neck, starting to feel a little uncomfortable. He deflected the subject away from himself. "What about you? How long have you been doing this? And why are you here? Dave led me to think I'd have the place to myself."
"Full of questions, aren't you?"
Rufus lay back on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. Wren noticed how Rufus's faded, torn jeans strained ever so slightly across the bulge of his crotch. It was obvious he was wearing no underwear. The outline of his cock snaked down one thigh. Wren forgot his questions and just about lost his breath for a moment.
"I've been with the agency for about six months. Dave found me working at, believe it or not, a Burger King. I won't bore you with that story, save to say he knew there'd be a market for my pickle and special sauce."
Rufus winked, and Wren groaned.