Bad Girl Blues

Brigid Manderson had the blues. She wanted to go to medical school but she couldn’t afford it. When her mother, an ex prostitute, invited her to work for her escort business she didn’t want to but circumstances forced her hand.

Her most recent customer was the wealthy record producer, Thomas Kellier. He wanted her and he was willing to pay for the privilege of having her.

Would Brigid succumb to his wealth and charm, or would she choose the harder path of love with Dr. Nick Benedict, a Christian guy who had no idea who she really was?

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Chapter One

“If you want to continue working for the business, Brigid, you are going to have to step up your game. Old men and business dinners are okay but…”

Sonia was standing in a patch of light in the living room, which rendered her long pink negligee almost transparent. She was heavily made-up, though it was just nine in the morning. She paused dramatically to see if Brigid was listening to her.

“But what?” Brigid asked impatiently. She was trying to finish up the report for her very last project. She stapled two of the papers together and tried to tune in to Sonia’s endless crusade to get her to participate more in her Escort Service business.

“But… no need to sound so impatient. I have a gig. It is huge.”

“Uh huh,” Brigid replied absently. She had gone on exactly four dates so far with middle-aged businessmen; three of them had been aboveboard. One had offered her an obscene amount of money to go back to his hotel with him.

Since that night she had been feeling a twinge of shame, an extremely dirty feeling that would not be quashed even though she was trying to convince herself that what she was doing was not all that bad. It wasn’t as if she was prostituting herself sexually. Sonia’s Professional Escort Services was a little bit like a dating service, but still…

“No thanks, Sonia.” She gave her a warning look. “Please, just stop hounding me about gigs and dates and rich men. I want to be a doctor. That’s it. I am not interested in your lifestyle.”

“My lifestyle, huh?” Sonia glided toward the settee in her best lady of the manor impersonation and sat across from Brigid. “It is my lifestyle that paid for the last two years of your university studies.”

“Good for you,” Brigid snarled. “You did something that most parents find to be commonplace.”

“I wouldn’t be so snarky.” Sonia relaxed in the chair and gave Brigid one of her sly looks. “You need to pay off the rest of your school fee for the semester or you can’t graduate, and you need me to help you with med school.”

“Threatening me now, Mother dearest?” Brigid got up and flicked back her long hair, which was in thick ropelike twists.

Sonia looked at Brigid, reluctant admiration in her eyes. Sometimes she looked at her daughter and wondered if she was really the one who gave birth to her. They were opposites in every way—in looks, in temperament, in their outlook on life. Brigid was beautiful, far better looking than her even on her good days and with loads of makeup.

Brigid had a perfectly symmetrical face, as if she had dug deep in the gene pool and come up with the very best features of all her ancestors. She had smooth dark nut-brown skin which had an alabaster-like quality to it and deep, expressive chocolate brown eyes which could flash with temper or melt with laughter. She had a lithe, lean, curvy body that would look good in a shapeless trash bag.

Brigid was wasting her time thinking about med school. She could make millions on her face alone. If Sonia had a tenth of the looks or body that Brigid had, she would be using it to the best of her ability to make loads of money.

“This gig,” she started hesitantly. She didn’t want to push; she knew enough about Brigid to handle her with care.

“No!” Brigid picked up her backpack.

“You didn’t even let me finish.” Sonia continued, “If you don’t do it, I am not going to pay your school fees.”

“You wouldn’t be so devious. You promised me!” Brigid looked at Sonia with such intense disappointment that Sonia cringed involuntarily. “You made me go out on four dates, but this is a totally new proposition you are coming with.”

Sonia felt a twinge of guilt. She had given her word and she had already written up the check. A deal was a deal.

“Okay.” Sonia held up her hands. “You are right.”

Brigid looked at her suspiciously. “I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

“Well,” Sonia said, inclining her head and looking at Brigid through squinted eyes, “after this you have four years of med school, right?”

“Right.” Brigid nodded. She hated when Sonia looked at her like that. She was about to con her; she could feel it.

“And you don’t have a scholarship, right?”

“Get to the point, Sonia,” Brigid said impatiently. She was going to be late for summer school registration. Even though she didn’t have any money to register, she had faith and a little bit of hope that Sonia would have pity on her and give her some money. Her time was running out.

“The point is you have at least four more years of your life tied up in med school and then three years of residency. That’s seven years of your life. You won’t be free until you are twenty-eight. In that time you could make a boatload of money.”

“I want to do medicine.” Brigid shrugged. “That’s it. I have always wanted to be a doctor. Maybe because I spent a good part of my young life being monitored at the hospital for one ailment or the other.”

“All of that is in the past,” Sonia said, disgruntled. She hated to be reminded of her past sins, especially where Brigid was concerned.

“Is it?” Brigid raised her eyebrows. “You took heavy drugs while you were pregnant with me. I am lucky to be alive now.”

“Water under the bridge.” Sonia brushed her off. “If you do this job that I have lined up, I will give you the check for your summer school fees and the first year of med school, no questions asked.”

Brigid frowned.

“Don’t say no. You are out of time for summer school registration,” Sonia said in her most convincing voice. “Think of the job I have lined up for you as a summer job. My client, Mr. Thomas Kellier, wants a… er… hostess for eight weeks.”

“Thomas Kellier?” Brigid frowned. “The name sounds familiar.”

“He’s a record producer, a very successful producer, and he wants a hostess.”

“Hostess or mistress?” Brigid asked bluntly. “You just stumbled over the word hostess, and I don’t trust you.

“Hostess, that’s it,” Sonia said, but she was acting all shifty-eyed and Brigid felt a nervous pinch in the pit of her stomach.

She had been thinking about financing med school and shaving off a year of her four-year stint by doing three years of summer school. If Sonia was offering to pay her first year that was nothing to sneeze at. She could still try to get a scholarship for her second year. All the well-known scholarships had been gobbled up this year. She hadn’t even gotten her foot in before she heard that she would be considered for next year. Apparently, one had to apply for scholarships for the upcoming year the year before.

“It’s easy, good money,” Sonia said earnestly. “He’s having a party Saturday night. All you need to do is show up at his mansion in Jacks Hill. You’ll do maybe four or five parties. The rest of the summer would be yours and he’s willing to pay a nice sum for you. Just make your evenings free.”

Brigid frowned at Sonia. “How’d he know about me?”

“He wanted to see my prettiest girls. I showed him a bunch of pictures. He said he wanted you. It was no contest. He upped the offer and doubled the money.”

“When have I ever been one of your girls?” Brigid asked harshly. “Don’t tell me you have my picture on your stupid escort site.”

Sonia shrugged. “Don’t be mad, Brigid. I sent Thomas a bunch of pictures and he wasn’t satisfied with any of them. He’s a new client, and famous. So I sent that picture of you that I took when you were going to Hazel’s wedding. I told him you came with a much higher price tag. I don’t have you on the database or anything like that, I swear.”

“Something is wrong with this conversation.” Brigid glared at Sonia. “I don’t know if I should be upset or flattered, strangle you with my bare hands or just walk out.”

“No, please.” Sonia looked at Brigid beseechingly. “He knows that my business is non-sexual and that all my escorts, both male and female, are chosen not only for their looks but for their intelligence, good manners and sense of humor.”

“Wow, you really believe your own PR.” Brigid grinned. “Good for you.”

“My clients are busy people who can’t be bothered to pursue relationships or friendships outside of the norm and my employees are all aboveboard,” Sonia said. “You know that.”

“And this famous producer guy who can pay anybody to date him chose your service and just wants somebody to host parties?” Brigid asked. She couldn’t keep the suspicion out of her voice.

“Yes.” Sonia nodded earnestly and then paused. “And… he… er… wants you to act as his girlfriend too, just for six weeks. Apparently, he has family here and he wants to impress them.”

“Why?” Brigid was looking at Sonia as if she was loony. “And how does one act like a girlfriend? How old is this guy, anyway?”

“He’s thirty-two,” Sonia said hurriedly, “and he’s good looking too.”

“Oh,” Brigid said, grinning, “he’s gay, isn’t he?”

“No,” Sonia shook her head, “he’s not.”

“So if he’s not gay, what will stop him from trying to hit on me?”

Sonia frowned. “I don’t think he is that type of guy. He just wants a business arrangement. He’ll discuss schedules, et cetera. He wants somebody to look pretty and not say much.”

“A ‘good guy’, says Sonia the mother who has no qualms in pimping out her only child. How would you know what kind of guy he was anyway?” Brigid snorted. “Sorry, can’t do it. I was planning to do summer school.”

“It won’t affect your summer school,” Sonia said, dropping her voice to a calming, soothing pitch, which made Brigid feel even more perturbed about the job.

“I’ll pay for your summer school, along with your first year of med school. I’ll draw up a check in two weeks if that’s what you want.” Sonia dangled the offer in front of Brigid slyly. “Truth is, if you behave properly with Thomas, my business will take off. He has some serious clout in the entertainment business. If he recommends us, then everybody will be happy.”

“Caitlin said that you are like the devil in female form,” Brigid murmured while she looked at her mother with a growing sense of dread. She didn’t understand how Sonia reasoned. She was not the motherly type but at least most regular thinking people would see the benefits of having a daughter who wanted to be a professional over using looks and body to snap up a man. “I don’t think you are wired properly.”

Sonia laughed. “Caitlin is something else but I’ll bet she would take the job if I offered it to her. It is Thomas Kellier; anybody would jump at this chance to act as his girlfriend.”

Brigid sank in the settee and pursed her lips. Caitlin wouldn’t take the job, not in a million years, but she wasn’t Caitlin. She had three years of med school in front of her, plus summers, and she didn’t have the luxury of a full scholarship like Caitlin did.

Her mind was running through her current options. She could renew job-hunting today. Most of the labs had already turned her down for summer employment.

She could teach summer school; there was always room for a science teacher and she had just finished her double degrees in Bio and Chemistry, but most schools already had their teachers for the summer. Besides, teaching and doing summer school would probably prove to be too much for her.

“Tell Thomas Kellier that I’ll do it,” Brigid said after a long silence. “Remind him not to try anything with me or else it’s done.”

“Okay, okay,” Sonia said rubbing her hands together gleefully. “Thank you for seeing sense.”

“And I’ll need a car to drive to and from Jacks Hill and to the university and back.”

Sonia nodded. “Sure, use my old one.”

The old one was a late model Toyota. Brigid grinned. “Sweet. And I want to know who my father is.”

Sonia’s face stiffened into a frown. “No!”

“Come on, Sonia. I told you that Della… er… Casey found out who her parents are. She has a father, so why can’t I hear who is mine?”

“No!” Sonia got up from the settee. “That topic is off limits.”

“Is it because you don’t know?” Brigid asked earnestly. “I won’t judge you. I already know all the gory details about your past and yet here I am… still talking to you and living with you.”

“Leave it.” Sonia flounced off and headed toward the kitchen. And then she turned around. “Believe me, Brigid, I know who your father is.”

Brigid shook her head. “So why can’t you tell me who he is? It’s not like I am going to search for him and show up on his doorstep or something. I already have one very dysfunctional parent; I don’t want two.”

“Have a good day at school today,” Sonia said dismissively.

Brigid looked at Sonia crossly. “One day you are going to tell me.”

“When hell freezes over!” Sonia said to her retreating back.

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